DPR of Korea: Annan sees signs diplomatic solution is possible

DPR of Korea: Annan sees signs diplomatic solution is possible

Although recent statements by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) on its nuclear programme pose a "grave" threat to peace and security, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today said he remained optimistic that a diplomatic solution to the crisis could be found.

There are signals from both the United States and the DPRK that it could be possible, with determined effort, to find a diplomatic solution, the Secretary-General said at a press conference at UN Headquarters in New York, noting that the US has indicated its readiness to talk, while Pyongyang is pulling back on claims that it has weapons of mass destruction.

"What we're also hoping to do with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is to get inspectors back in and eventually [the DPRK] will rescind its decision to pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)," he added.

In urging Pyongyang once again to comply with nuclear safeguards and to abide by its international agreements, the Secretary-General noted that the DPRK is the first country to withdraw from the NPT, and he voiced hope that it will come back into compliance. He also pointed out that the IAEA Board of Governors has given the country more time to come into compliance before bringing the matter to the Security Council.

"I think we are at an early stage of this crisis," Mr. Annan said. "There has been a lot of messages and jockeying for position, and statements are being made about the atomic agency or the others."

Asked about the role of Maurice Strong, the Secretary-General said Mr. Strong had been sent as an envoy to evaluate the possible impact of the crisis on the DPRK's population because the UN could find it difficult to continue with the humanitarian programme under the circumstances.

"He's someone who has broad experience and is also quite well-known in the region, and they may want to discuss other things with him," the Secretary-General said. "I did not discourage him from discussing other things if they come up, and of course, I have my own good offices, which is always available."