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Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors

Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei (1)
Director General
International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA
Vienna, 6 January 2003

I have requested this meeting of the Board to consider recent events relevant to the compliance by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) with its safeguards agreement pursuant to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). As you are fully aware, the DPRK has been in chronic non-compliance with its safeguards agreement since 1993 when the Agency was unable to verify that the DPRK had declared to the Agency all nuclear material, specifically plutonium,  that is subject to safeguards. And since 1994 the DPRK has sought shelter behind the US-DPRK “Agreed Framework” — a bilateral framework that does not replace or modify DPRK’s obligations under its NPT safeguards agreement — claiming a legally untenable “unique status” under the NPT whereby its safeguards agreement is “suspended”, thus circumventing compliance with its non-proliferation obligations.

This claim by the DPRK has been rejected by the Board of Governors and the General Conference, which unequivocally declared the safeguards agreement to be binding and in force.

The latest events further aggravate the situation. Not only did the DPRK fail to respond to the repeated requests of the Secretariat and the Board for clarification of recent reports concerning an alleged undeclared enrichment programme, but in the last few weeks has shown complete defiance towards its obligations under the safeguards agreement by cutting all seals and impeding the functioning of all surveillance cameras that were in place in its nuclear facilities. These unilateral actions culminated in a request for the immediate departure of Agency inspectors at a time when the DPRK is in the process of restarting its nuclear facilities and when the presence of inspectors is critical.

All these unilateral acts by the DPRK have taken place against a backdrop of repeated requests by the Secretariat to the Government of the DPRK to work with the Agency to maintain continuity of safeguards by ensuring an orderly transition from a situation where activities in the facilities were frozen to one in which the facilities became operational. And while the Secretariat took note of the decision to restart the operation of the facilities, it also made it clear that this should only take place in full compliance with the DPRK’s non-proliferation obligations to ensure that the facilities, and the nuclear material contained therein, are dedicated exclusively to peaceful purposes. As you can see from my report, the Agency is regrettably at present unable to exercise its responsibilities under the safeguards agreement, namely to verify that the DPRK is not diverting nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, and is also at present unable to verify that the DPRK has declared to the Agency all the nuclear material that is subject to safeguards.

This is clearly an unsustainable situation and sets a dangerous precedent, namely that non-compliance with non-proliferation obligations can be tolerated. If we aim to maintain and preserve the integrity of the non-proliferation regime then it must be incumbent on all parties to that regime to fully meet their respective obligations, and all cases of non-compliance must be consistently addressed in a uniform fashion — namely zero tolerance.

In my view, the next few weeks and months will be important to the future of the non-proliferation regime. We can succeed only if all the parties to the regime understand that the settlement of disputes cannot be linked to the threat of the use of nuclear weapons or other forms of nuclear brinkmanship. I do hope that the DPRK will understand that it is compliance rather than defiance that will open the way to a dialogue to address its security and other concerns. Only through dialogue can differences be resolved or reconciled. In this connection, I am encouraged by the expressed readiness of all concerned parties to enter into such a dialogue once the DPRK has reversed course. I am also encouraged by the readiness of the Board, as reflected in the draft resolution submitted by its chairman, to afford the DPRK another opportunity to come into compliance. I hope that the DPRK will seize this opportunity and thus create the conditions for an agreed resolution of all outstanding issues. But the draft resolution also makes it clear that any lack of co-operation to implement all the required safeguards measures will constitute further non-compliance, with all the consequences foreseen under the Statute.

Over the last four decades, the international community has been painstakingly building a universal regime that aims to curb the spread of nuclear weapons and simultaneously move towards nuclear disarmament. The regime has been, regrettably, subject to setbacks in the recent past. Ultimately, the choice is ours: either a determined effort to consolidate the regime and maintain its integrity or risk a world where a growing number of States acquire and depend on nuclear weapons. I trust that we will make the right choice.

1) Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei is the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an intergovernmental organization within the United Nations system.

 

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January 08, 2003

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