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IAEA Gives North Korea Once Last Chance to Resolve Nuclear Issue


The International Atomic Energy Agency is giving North Korea one last chance to allow international supervision of its nuclear program.

The 35 members of the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors passed a unanimous resolution strongly condemning North Korea's refusal to cooperate with the international community.

The agency left the door open for North Korea to allow inspectors to return and monitor the reactivation of its nuclear facility at Yongbyon.

The director general of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, said "compliance and not defiance" was the message to Pyongyang. But Mr. ElBaradei stressed that the international community is willing to work with North Korea.

"North Korea has first to fulfill its international obligations, particularly with regard to safeguard agreements, and once they do then there is light at the end of the tunnel for them. There were many statements by the board, by many neighboring countries - Japan, South Korea, the United States - all are ready to engage the DPRK in co-operation agreements with regard to its economic needs and security needs, but only when the DPRK takes the first step and comes into compliance and not defiance," Mr. ElBaradei said.

The IAEA chief is hoping for a positive response from North Korea within the next few days.

If North Korea fails to respond, the board of governors will meet again and is expected to refer the case to the U.N. Security Council.

At the end of December, North Korea expelled IAEA inspectors from its Yongbyon nuclear plant, leaving the agency, as Mr. ElBaradei put it, "clueless" about the country's nuclear program.

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