IAEA Director General Concludes Trip to the DPRK
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei arrives at a press conference in Beijing, China, 14 March 2007. (Photo: Elizabeth Dalziel/AP)
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei´s 13 - 14 March visit to Pyongyang was an "overall door opener", improving what he termed had been a "rocky relationship" since inspectors left the DPRK in December 2002.
In a series of meetings with senior DPRK officials, Dr. ElBaradei invited the DPRK to return to the IAEA as a Member State. "They said they will consider coming back as a member," Dr. ElBaradei said.
He told a press conference in Beijing "we are moving forward" but "after years before we got back on the right track" this is "not going to happen over night."
Talks also focused on the IAEA´s initial monitoring and verification role for the shut down of the DPRK´s nuclear facilities. He said the DPRK was "fully committed" to the Six-Party agreement and would allow IAEA personnel in once other parties take action on their own commitments under the "Initial Actions". He said the DPRK "was very clear they are ready to implement the February 13 agreement once the other parties implement their part of the deal."
The "Initial Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement," concluded at the "Six-Party Talks" on 13 February, foresees that within 60 days "the DPRK will shut down and seal for the purpose of eventual abandonment the Yongbyon nuclear facility, including the reprocessing facility and invite back IAEA personnel to conduct all necessary monitoring and verifications as agreed between IAEA and DPRK."
The next step for IAEA will be to reach an agreement with the DPRK on specific technical arrangements for monitoring and verification. These terms would be subject to approval by the IAEA Board of Governors.
"They are ready to work with the Agency to make sure that we monitor and verify the shutdown of the Yongbyon facility," Dr. ElBaradei said, adding officials in Pyongyang also "reiterated they are committed to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."
Dr. ElBaradei held meetings with the Director General of the DPRK´s General Department of Atomic Energy, Ri Je Son; Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hyong Jun; and Vice President of the Standing Precidium of the Supreme People´s Assembly, Kim Yong Dae.
On 15-16 March, he is scheduled to hold meetings in Beijing with the representatives of the Six-Party talks. On 15 March, Dr. ElBaradei met with China´s Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Cui Tiankai.
"I hope in the next few weeks, months and years, we will continue to work with the DPRK with the objective we all share, which is the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," Dr. ElBaradei said.