The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, expressed "deep concern" regarding the information reported yesterday by the US State Department that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has a programme to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. "We are urgently seeking information from the DPRK in response to this report, as well as information from the US that will allow us to follow up on this very serious allegation".
In 1993, IAEA inspectors uncovered evidence indicating non-compliance by the DPRK with its safeguards agreement pursuant to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and ever since the IAEA has been strongly urging DPRK to fulfill its obligations. The IAEA has regularly reported to its Board of Governors and the UN Security Council the lack of DPRK compliance with its non-proliferation obligations.
In 1994, in the wake of the IAEA Board's conclusion that the DPRK was in non-compliance, the DPRK withdrew its membership from the IAEA -- however, its obligations under the safeguards agreement remain in force and binding. Under that agreement with the IAEA, the DPRK is obliged to give IAEA inspectors the freedom to check that all its nuclear activities have been duly declared and that none has been misused for the production or development of nuclear weapons. Since 1993, however, IAEA inspectors operating in the DPRK have not been permitted to conduct important activities which would allow them to draw conclusions about the state of the DPRK's nuclear programme. Indeed, since 1994 the IAEA activities have been largely limited to monitoring the "freeze" of the DPRK's graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities as requested by the United Nations Security Council and as foreseen in the "Agreed Framework" of October 1994 between the DPRK and the United States. Accordingly Dr. ElBaradei made it clear that the IAEA does not have a complete picture of the nuclear activities in the DPRK.
Under its safeguards agreement with the IAEA, the existence of any nuclear facility should be declared by the DPRK and placed under IAEA safeguards.
The IAEA, the world's nuclear inspectorate, is responsible for verifying that the 182 non-nuclear-weapon States Party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty comply with their obligations not to develop nuclear weapons.