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Security Council to Consider Korea Nuclear Issue, Predicts US Diplomat

A top U.S. diplomat says he expects the United Nations Security Council will soon be taking up the issue of North Korea's illegal nuclear drive. Under Secretary of State John Bolton says he does not expect opposition from the five permanent members to refer the North Korea nuclear issue to the U.N. Security Council.

Mr. Bolton who held meetings with South Korean officials in Seoul Wednesday, says the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency will likely ask the Council to consider the matter.

"So we see a consensus emerging, probably by the end of this week, that there would be a third IAEA resolution, the matter would be referred to the Security Council and taken up for consideration," said Mr. Bolton. "And in terms of the other Security Council members, there is absolutely no doubt that the United Kingdom and France believe it is an appropriate matter for the Security Council, and I believe Russia will have that view too."

Following talks in Beijing this week, Mr. Bolton said he does not expect the Council's fifth member, China, will stand in the way. But China has made clear it thinks direct talks between the United States and North Korea is the best path to a solution.

Mr. Bolton says that South Korean officials told him they would support the Security Council option.

If the International Atomic Energy Agency passes a resolution to refer the matter, the Security Council could impose sanctions on North Korea.

The IAEA has put Pyongyang on notice that it would make such a move, if its inspectors were not allowed back into to the country to monitor North Korea's nuclear compliance.

The North kicked out the inspectors in December as it started to re-activate its main nuclear facility, which experts say could produce weapons.

The facility had been closed under a 1994 non-proliferation deal, called the Agreed Framework, with the United States. Under the arrangement, Pyongyang had been receiving international energy aid. But that was cut off after Washington said it had evidence the North was violating the deal with a covert nuclear weapons program.

Mr. Bolton told reporters in Seoul that the Agreed Framework is essentially dead and would not form a basis for a solution to the current nuclear crisis.

Meanwhile, officials from both Koreas met again to discuss the problem Wednesday in Seoul. North Korea repeated that it has no intention of building nuclear arms.

But it has not reversed its January 10 decision to pull out the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, nor has it agreed to a U.S. offer to hold direct talks. Pyongyang says it first wants a non-aggression pact with the United States because it fears it could be attacked.

The United States has offered only informal security guarantees but has underscored its commitment to a diplomatic solution.