The UN nuclear watchdog chief said yesterday Pyongyang is
positive about rejoining the IAEA and ready to cooperate in the
implementation of the agreement reached on the Korean Peninsula
nuclear issue last month at the six-party talks.
Speaking in Beijing last night after a two-day trip to North
Korea, Mohamed ElBaradei said his visit had been "quite
"We cleared the air and opened the door for a normal
relationship," he said. "They understand what we have to do and we
understand their concerns and expectations."
He said North Korea is ready to cooperate fully with the IAEA as
soon as the US lifts the financial sanctions it has imposed on
ElBaradei also said North Korea remains committed to a
nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and is ready to implement the
agreement, reached on February 13, within the time limit set.
He warned that it would not be an overnight process, and would
require patience from all sides.
During his stay in Pyongyang, ElBaradei met with Kim Yong-dae,
North Korea's second-highest-ranked legislator, who oversees the
Yongbyon nuclear facility.
However, he did not meet with Pyongyang's nuclear envoy, Vice
Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan, who was ill after a visit to New
ElBaradei's Pyongyang visit precedes a new round of six-party
talks, due to begin in Beijing on Monday, which will review
progress made since the milestone agreement.
The agreement foresees North Korea shutting down and sealing the
Yongbyon facility and allowing IAEA inspections, in exchange for
economic and fuel aid.
Inspectors from the atomic watchdog have not visited the country
since Pyongyang expelled them in late 2002 as a disarmament deal
fell apart. The country withdrew from the nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty days later.
ElBaradei's visit is seen as the latest sign that Pyongyang is
complying with the initial actions of the joint statement released
on September 19, 2005.
The IAEA chief will meet Chinese Foreign Ministry officials
today and is also expected to meet with Assistant Secretary of
State Christopher Hill, the top US negotiator, who arrived in
Beijing yesterday for Saturday's working group meeting on the
denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
South Korea, the leader of the economic and energy cooperation
group, will hold a session at its embassy in Beijing today led by
its top nuclear negotiator Chun Yung-woo.
(China Daily March 15, 2007)