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North Korea, Iran and Others Not Abiding by NPT, says US - 2003-04-28

The United States says that North Korea, Iran, and several other countries have cheated on their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The statement comes at a meeting in Geneva for countries that have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The U.S. delegate at the meeting, Assistant Secretary of State James Wolf, said one of Washington's biggest concerns is the development of nuclear weapons in countries that are flagrantly violating the non-proliferation treaty.

"A few - notably Iraq, North Korea, and Iran, perhaps several others in the Middle East and North Africa, seem determined to cheat on their obligations. They seem determined to acquire nuclear weapons and they are the active targets of our non-proliferation policies today," he said. "We are determined to do what we can with our friends and allies to do what is necessary to cause them to reverse their ambitions."

Mr. Wolf said one way to fight the proliferation of nuclear weapons is to control the supply of key components. "It is clear that they were able to acquire some of the technologies they have used, for instance in their enrichment program, they have acquired those in the international marketplace," he said. "We need to have better safeguards. We also need better export controls, better enforcement."

In addition, the assistant secretary of state says the world community needs to make it clear to countries working to develop nuclear weapons that they will receive no international economic aid. He said such countries need to be convinced that it is in their interest to abandon their quest for nuclear weapons.

North Korea has bragged about its nuclear weapons program, but is reported to be offering to abandon it in return for concessions from the United States, including a non-aggression pact.

Iran disputes U.S. charges that it is developing nuclear weapons. It says a new nuclear plant in southern Iran is only designed to produce electricity.

But Mr. Wolf said Iran has been conducting, what he called, an alarming, clandestine program to acquire sensitive nuclear capabilities. He said the capabilities Iran is seeking could only be part of a nuclear weapons program.

North Korea and Iran are among 184 countries that have signed the Muclear Non-Proliferation Ttreaty. But North Korea pulled out of the deal in January.

Under the treaty, nuclear powers like the United States, Britain, China, France, and Russia agreed to take steps to disarm, while other states pledged to freeze nuclear weapons development, and to use nuclear technology only for peaceful purposes.