The head of the U.N. nuclear agency says North Korea must be offered incentives, along with threats, if there is any chance of persuading it to give up its nuclear-weapons programs. Mohammed ElBaradei made his comments in Tokyo, where Japanese officials are talking about ratcheting up the pressure on North Korea. VOA's Steve Herman reports from the Japanese capital.
Following North Korea's test of a nuclear device on October 9, the U.N. Security Council mandated international economic sanctions against the communist state. A number of countries, including Japan and the United States, have imposed specific sanctions, such as banning maritime commerce and prohibiting the sales of luxury items to North Korea.
Mohammed ElBaradei, the head of the U.N. nuclear agency and winner of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize, says sanctions and threats might be effective, but they have to be accompanied by incentives.
"Ultimately, to be able to succeed in defusing the nuclear crisis in North Korea - the same applies to the situation in Iran - you can use sanction, but sanction alone, as we know by experience, will not resolve issues," he said. "You need to use incentives and disincentives."
ElBaradei was in Tokyo to meet with Japanese officials, who say they and their U.S. counterparts are growing impatient because no date has been set for resuming six-nation talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear programs.
Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso is warning North Korea it faces further sanctions by Washington and Tokyo if progress on the issue is not made soon.
The foreign ministry spokesman, Tomohiko Taniguchi, says Japan will back any moves by the United States to apply additional pressure on Pyongyang.
"The connotation, of course, as I understand it, is if that happens, the Japanese government is going to take a similar set of actions, together with the United States," he said.
The six-nation talks include North and South Korea, Japan, the United States, China and Russia. They began in 2003, the year after International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors were kicked out of North Korea.
ElBaradei expressed concern about the Iran's nuclear program as well as North Korea's, and warned of the danger of other states looking to acquire technology that would make them, as he put it, "virtual nuclear states." A number of Middle Eastern nations have expressed a desire for such technology in wake of the Iranian program.
ElBaradei said a proliferation of nuclear weapon states would spell "the beginning of the end for humanity."