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IAEA Calls on N. Korea to Accept Nuclear Weapons Inspections - 2002-11-29

The International Atomic Energy Agency has called on North Korea to open the country's nuclear weapons program for inspection. The Vienna-based agency has expressed deep concern over reports coming from North Korea.

The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency has responded to statements made by North Korea that it is entitled to possess nuclear weapons.

The agency wants to check North Korea's nuclear program in its entirety. In particular it wants to clarify reports that North Korea has a uranium enrichment program operating outside of international supervision.

The IAEA's secretariat has sent two letters to North Korean authorities calling on them to cooperate in providing clarification of the reports.

An IAEA spokesman said Friday the agency has stressed that it wants clarification without delay. He said, however, that North Korea has not cooperated with the agency for some years.

The IAEA approved a resolution Friday calling on North Korea to permit immediate inspections. A group of technicians and officials from the agency are ready to go to North Korea at any time.

The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency estimates that North Korea possesses enough weapons-grade material to build one or two nuclear weapons.

North Korea agreed to end its nuclear program in 1994, but the United States says North Korean officials told a senior American diplomat last month that they were no longer abiding by the agreement.