Expressing deep concern that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has rejected efforts at dialogue and is now in further non-compliance with international nuclear safeguards, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today decided to report the matter to the United Nations Security Council and the General Assembly.
A resolution adopted by the IAEA's 35-nation Governing Board also called upon the DPRK to fully and urgently cooperate with international inspectors and to comply with its obligations under international non-proliferation treaties.
Stressing the desire for a peaceful and diplomatic resolution to the DPRK nuclear issue, the Board requested the IAEA's Director-General, Mohamed ElBaradei, to continue his efforts to implement the Agency's comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the country.
Speaking at a news conference at the IAEA's headquarters in Vienna, Mr. ElBaradei said his numerous and repeated efforts to engage the DPRK have been in vain, and the current situation "clearly sets a dangerous precedent," with the Agency unable to verify that there has been no diversion of nuclear material in that country.
Mr. ElBaradei, whose report prompted the Board's action, said forwarding the matter to the Security Council did not mean anything other than using that body as a focal point for a diplomatic solution. "The Agency is not washing its hands of the matter," he stressed. "We will continue to make every effort to bring DPRK into compliance."
"“What we are trying to do is to make sure that the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) is universal in character, and not open the door for [countries] to walk away from their arms control obligations,” Mr. ElBaradei said.
He noted that he and the members of the Board were well aware of the other serious issues that needed to be addressed in the country, such as security concerns, economic recovery and humanitarian needs. He stressed, however, that none of those issues could be addressed by "blackmail" and urged Pyongyang to take the first step.
"The view, I think, was unanimous that the key to all these issues is a commitment by DPRK to full and prompt compliance with its non-proliferation obligations," Mr. ElBaradei said. He added that he was encouraged by the readiness of all concerned parties, including the United States, to engage in multilateral and bilateral discussions with the DPRK to move towards a peaceful and diplomatic solution
Mr. ElBaradei also stressed the necessity of dealing with all issues of non-compliance in a consistent fashion. "Whether it is Iraq or North Korea, cases of non-compliance with non-proliferation must be addressed with the same approach: zero tolerance," he said.