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N. Korea Urged to Abandon Atomic Threat

Associated Press | June 14, 2005
By SUSANNA LOOF

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency urged North Korea on Tuesday to back away from its nuclear threat and asked Iran to improve cooperation with his organization's investigation of its atomic activities.

Mohamed ElBaradei, who won a third term Monday as chief U.N. nuclear agency, also expressed regret at the failure of last month's international nonproliferation conference to strengthen the treaty aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear arms.

``The lack of substantive agreement is particularly disheartening given the urgent challenges we face,'' he told the IAEA's 35-nation board, warning of the dangers posed by the ``faltering global security system.''

While Iran and North Korea - objects of the world's biggest-known proliferation concerns - are both agenda items at the conference, the agency has no purview over North Korea since its inspectors were ordered to leave in late 2002. Since then, the country has increased threats to develop - and possibly use - nuclear weapons against a perceived threat from the United States.

ElBaradei said his agency stands ready to work with North Korea ``to ensure that all nuclear activities ... are exclusively for peaceful purposes.''

Iran, in contrast, has been the focus of an intense agency investigation since 2003, following revelations of nearly two decades of secret nuclear activities. The work included uranium enrichment, which can be used to make the core of nuclear warheads.

Iran insists it wants to enrich only to generate nuclear power, but froze that program and linked activities late last year as it focused on talks with France, Britain and Germany meant to reduce concerns about Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

While providing some information to help agency investigations, Iran's cooperation has not been sufficient, said ElBaradei, in particular on details of its enrichment program sought by the agency to verify whether Tehran only wants to generate power with the technology.

ElBaradei also urged Iran to allow agency visits to Lavizan and Parchin.

Parchin is a military site where the United States says Iran may be testing high-explosive components for nuclear weapons. A previous visit by agency inspectors was strongly restricted by the Iranians. The Lavizan-Zhian site near Tehran is an area where the agency believes Iran has stored dual-use equipment that can be used both for peaceful and nuclear weapons-related purposes.

In a separate report for the board to be delivered at a later board session this week, diplomats said the Islamic republic will also be mildly criticized for not fully cooperating with the IAEA investigation. But they said Tehran also will be praised for freezing enrichment and related activities while negotiating with the Europeans.

The diplomats described the report on Iran - likely to be delivered Tuesday or Wednesday by IAEA Deputy Director General Pierre Goldschmidt - as relatively mild compared with previous summaries since that nation's nuclear program became a matter of international concern three years ago.

 

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