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IAEA Chief Urges Immediate Talks On North Korea

UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei speaks at Beijing's Tsinghua University, 05 December 2006. ElBaradei called for international talks on North Korea's nuclear program to restart immediately, as he prepared for meetings with senior Chinese officials and reiterated his belief that global diplomacy was the most effective way to solve the stand-offs over the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran. Photo courtesy AFP
by Robert J. Saiget
Beijing (AFP) Dec 05, 2006
UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei called Tuesday for international talks on North Korea's nuclear program to restart immediately, as he prepared for meetings with senior Chinese officials. Giving a lecture at Beijing's Tsinghua University, ElBaradei reiterated his belief that global diplomacy was the most effective way to solve the standoffs over the nuclear ambitions of both North Korea and Iran.

"The case of North Korea, if anything, underscores the importance of such cases for the international community ... to engage in an immediate and sustained dialogue to address the situation and its underlying causes," he said.

ElBaradei also warned that incentives must accompany sanctions when trying to entice North Korea and Iran not to pursue nuclear weapons programs.

"You can work through sanctions, but sanctions alone will not be enough to resolve the issue," he said.

"You need the proper pressure with a package of incentives, this applies to in the case of North Korea and in the case of Iran."

ElBaradei's visit to China comes as North Korea continues to face heavy international pressure, including United Nations sanctions, following its first atomic test on October 9.

Meanwhile, officials from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany were preparing to meet in Paris Tuesday to discuss possible sanctions against Iran for enriching uranium that Western nations fear is part of a drive to build a nuclear bomb.

ElBaradei, who arrived from Japan on Monday, was due to to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing on Wednesday for talks expected to focus on North Korea and Iran.

China plays a crucial role in the North Korean standoff because it is Pyongyang's closest ally and host of the six-nation talks that began in 2003 with the aim of stopping the famously reclusive country from becoming a nuclear power.

However North Korea walked out on the talks in November last year.

Pyongyang agreed on October 31 to return to the six-nation talks -- which involve the US, the two Koreas, Japan and Russia, as well as China -- but no date has been set for the next round.

When North Korea pulled out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, it also kicked out IAEA inspectors. ElBaradei reaffirmed on Tuesday his agency's willingness to go back into North Korea.

"The IAEA stands ready to work with the DPRK (North Korea) -- and with all others -- towards a solution for this issue that would make use of the agency's verification capability to assure the international community that all nuclear activities in the DPRK are exclusively for peaceful purposes," he said.

ElBaradei's spokesman said he may also meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao or Premier Wen Jiabao this week, although this had yet to be confirmed.

ElBaradei arrived in Beijing from Japan on Monday afternoon and is due to depart on Thursday for Indonesia.

earlier related report
Analysis: N.Korea's next move
by Lee Jong-Heon - UPI Correspondent Seoul (UPI) Dec 05 - What will North Korea's next move be over the ongoing nuclear standoff? Officials and analysts here are waiting for the North's response to U.S. proposals put forward late last week to resolve the nuclear crisis. During face-to-face talks in Beijing with the North's nuclear negotiator, Washington's top nuclear envoy Christopher Hill proposed a set of incentives for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons.

Details of the proposals were not disclosed immediately, but sources here said the incentives include security guarantees, massive economic aid, and the possibility of normalizing U.S.-North Korea ties.

U.S.-led allies are also ready to lift sanctions adopted by the U.N. Security Council following the North's nuclear test in October if Pyongyang dismantles its nuclear weapons program, according to the sources.

After the meeting with the North's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, Hill said he presented a number of ideas to North Korea, noting "the ball's in their court." Hill said he did not set a deadline for North Korea to respond. On leaving the meeting, Kim said his country would provide a response later.

South Korean officials expressed hope that the North would make a positive response to the proposals and return to the long-stalled six-party talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear drive.

"The U.S.-made proposals include carrots the North cannot easily reject. The North seems still reviewing the proposals before rejoining six-party negotiations," a government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Seoul's new diplomatic chief Song Min-soon said another round of six-nation talks could as soon as next month. "North Korea may require more time for its in-depth analysis of the situation following the Beiing meeting," the foreign minister told journalists.

"The six-party talks should be convened next time with some visible outcome in hand. We'll strive hard to resume the six-party talks in December, but they could be delayed to next month," Song said, citing progress, such as Washington's intension to declare the formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War as a prelude to a peace treaty with the North.

U.S. President George W. Bush has reportedly said he was willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to sign a peace document if Pyongyang abandons its nuclear weapons program.

Bush expressed the intention when he met South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum summit in Hanoi late last month. Bush also told Roh that he would provide "new economic incentives" if the North gives up the nuclear programs, according to Seoul's news reports.

The United States, representing 16-nation U.N. forces, is a signatory to the 1953 armistice agreement that technically ended the Korean War. The peninsula still remains in a state of war as the Korean War ended without a peace treaty.

North Korea has long called for the conclusion of a peace treaty with the United States to replace the armistice mechanism, saying it is essential to end the nuclear standoff.

But the North has not yet passed any positive signs to the U.S. proposals. Rather, Pyongyang's state-run media indicated that the North would not abandon its nuclear programs, launching campaigns to brace for tougher sanctions.

Its reclusive leader Kim Jong Il has recently increased his "on-spot" guidance tours of army units and industrial sites where he called for the country to be armed with "the revolutionary spirit of self-reliance."

"Only self-reliance is the way out and the road of eternal victory and prosperity ... no matter how the world may change and what grim test may face them (North Korean people)," the North's main newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in its recent edition.

Rodong also described foreign aid as "honey-coated poison," indicating North Korea would not abandon its nuclear drive in return for foreign economic aid.

Signboards with slogans declaring North Korea as a nuclear power have also appeared in the street corners of Pyongyang, a move seen to tighten its grip on the people who have been suffered from sanctions.

According to sources who recently traveled to Pyongyang, various slogans and posters were hung in the streets and on buildings in Pyongyang hailing the successful detonation of the nuclear device. They include: "Let us make shine forever our becoming a nuclear power, a historic incident in the 5,000 years of our people's history"

The North also used the nuclear capabilities for personality cult for Kim Jong Il as a signboard said, "Long live the celestial Gen. Kim Jong-Il, who has established a world-class nuclear power!"

Many analysts in Seoul say the nuclear-armed North is expected to seek bigger concessions from the U.S.-led allies even if it returns to the six-party talks. "As a nuclear-armed state, the North is likely to come up with new agenda items," said Nam Sung-wook, a North Korea specialist at Korea University in Seoul.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Source: United Press International

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