News Update on North Korea, 30 December 2002
In recent media interviews, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei addressed nuclear-related developments in North Korea.
- Washington Post, 29 December: In an interview 28 December, Dr. ElBaradei said that the DPRK situation sets a "dangerous precedent" for the nuclear non-proliferation regime. He said that the IAEA would submit a report to its Board of Governors laying out a case asserting that North Korea has violated its commitments under the 1994 US-DPRK Agreed Framework that obligates it to submit to inspections. The IAEA's Board would then consider how to respond at an emergency meeting scheduled for 6 January in Vienna, he said. He said that he would urge the Board to demand that North Korea immediately allow the inspectors to resume surveillance at the reactor complex. Barring that, he said that the IAEA would "have an obligation to refer the matter to the Security Council". The article reported that the Security Council could then warn North Korea or impose consequences including censure, economic sanctions or military force.
- CNN, 28 December: Dr. ElBaradei said that IAEA inspectors are scheduled to leave North Korea by Tuesday, 31 December. He characterized the DPRK as "a country in a defiant mode right now. They are walking away from their international obligations. They are throwing away the inspection system." He described the situation as "a very dangerous precedent" for the nuclear non-proliferation regime and urged an international response to preserve the regime's integrity at a "defining moment" for it. Addressing the IAEA's inspection capability in North Korea, he said "we are completely out" and consequently "have no clue as what is going to happen in the next few weeks and months... We know that they are going to start their power reactor in the next month or two. I was also told yesterday that they are going to start their reprocessing plant again in the next month or two. And that's really the most worrying, because the reprocessing plant is a plant which will produce plutonium that could be directly used for nuclear weapons." He expressed hope that before the DPRK embarks on restarting its nuclear facilities "diplomacy will be set at work and that we will be able to avert what now looks like a serious crisis situation."
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