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IAEA Resolution Rejected by N. Korea - 2003-09-23

North Korea has rejected a resolution by the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency asking the communist state to stop developing nuclear weapons. The reaction comes while efforts are being made to arrange a second round of talks on the nuclear issue.

The official Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday that North Korea has nothing to do with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and denounced last week's resolution. The report described the IAEA as a "political waiting maid" of the United States.

North Korea blames Washington for the dispute over its efforts to build nuclear weapons, saying it needs the weapons to protect itself from the United States.

In a resolution passed Friday in Vienna, the IAEA asked North Korea to "completely dismantle" its nuclear weapons development. It also urged Pyongyang to "accept comprehensive IAEA safeguards" and cooperate with the agency in implementing them. But isolated communist country, which withdrew from the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty nine months ago, says the resolution "does not deserve even a passing note."

The dispute over North Korea's nuclear ambitions began a year ago, when U.S. officials said Pyongyang admitted having a nuclear weapons program in violation of several international accords.

Mark Gwozdecky, spokesman for the IAEA, says that North Korea's latest rebuff fits into a long-held pattern of non-compliance. "No, we do not view it as a setback," he says. "These resolutions have been issued year after year for almost 10 years now, reflecting the sad reality which is that we do not have the kind of cooperation that we need from North Korea and have not had it for over a decade in terms of verifying what is happening in that country with regard to its nuclear program."

Last month, North Korea, the United States, South Korea, Russia, Japan and China gathered in Beijing for talks on resolving the nuclear crisis. The negotiations ended inconclusively, and Beijing is now trying to set up a new round of talks. Delegates agreed to meet again but so far have not settled on a date or venue.

North Korea has described the talks as "useless" and said it has no interest in further negotiations. However, it has also told China that it will eventually return to the negotiating table.

Pyongyang wants the United States to agree to a mutual non-aggression treaty, a demand the Bush administration has repeatedly rejected. However, the United States has offered numerous assurances that it has no plans to attack North Korea.