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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN nuclear watchdog urges DPR of Korea to resume six-party talks

4 March 2005 Declaring actions by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) a "serious challenge" to efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency has called on the country to resume at an early date, without preconditions, six-party talks seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Noting earlier calls by its General Conference for the DPRK to completely dismantle any nuclear weapons programme under credible international verification, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors expressed "its serious concern" over the DPRK's suspension of participation in the talks and its announcement that it had manufactured nuclear weapons.

"The Board emphasized the importance of continued dialogue to achieve a peaceful and comprehensive resolution of the DPRK nuclear issue, and attached great importance to the crucial role played by the six party talks in this regard," Chairperson Ingrid Hall of Canada said in a statement yesterday on the 35-member panel's deliberations in Vienna.

In the so-called Beijing process, the six parties - the DPRK, the Republic of Korea (ROK), China, Japan, the Russian Federation and the United States - undertook, in the words of the Board, "peaceful efforts to address the serious challenge posed by the DPRK nuclear issue."

The Board noted that the DPRK, which withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2002, had yet to take any of the steps the panel has urged to allow a resumption of on-the-spot verification, and thus the IAEA was still not in a position to provide any assurances about nuclear material and activities in the DPRK.

But it also noted the DPRK's commitment to solve the issue through dialogue and negotiations and its stated goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, as well as its statement last month indicating its possible return to the six-party talks.

"In this regard, the Board strongly encouraged all the parties concerned to redouble their efforts to facilitate an early resumption of the six party talks with a view to achieving a peaceful resolution of the DPRK nuclear issue, and urged particularly the DPRK to agree to the resumption of the six-party talks at an early date without preconditions," the Board statement said.

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