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U.N. Nuclear Chief Worries About N. Korea, Sees Hope With Iran

Sunday, 08 May 2005 12:00 AM

The Pentagon has become increasingly concerned that the unpredictable government in Pyongyang may be preparing to test a nuclear bomb in the near future.

Late last week, IAEA chief Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei was in Manhattan to attend a special session at United Nations headquarters on nuclear proliferation.

He sat down with NewsMax to discuss the growing threat of nuclear proliferation.

While concerned about North Korea, Dr. ElBaradei also said that though relations with Iran have recently improved, room still remains for a full disclosure of its atomic "research" program.

The following are excerpts of the interview.

It was extensive, it covered the entire front end of the fuel cycle, but we are not yet in a position to declare that we have seen everything. That is why in the next few weeks I will ask the Iranians to be as forthcoming, as transparent, as possible. In the case of Iran, there has been lack of trust as a result of many years of undeclared activities.

They need to understand that they have to go out of their way to build that trust. ... That means that they must not just play by the book; they must go out of their way to demonstrate to us that they have really nothing more to hide.

Insofar as our work, I need full transparency and I hope I will get that. We understand that we do not want to snoop on their military programs, which have nothing to do with the nuclear issue, we do not want to spy on any activity that is not relevant to us, but insofar as our work, we need full transparency, and I hope I will get that.

We understand that, but at the same time we need to satisfy our requirements that, because of the past history of the program, we now need full cooperation.

Yes, there were violations of their [NPT] obligations and we have taken corrective measures in many of these areas, but these were more than just failures to report, [they were] clearly an effort to hide a program to enrich uranium and that's what we are addressing.

Now I can say there is good cooperation, but it is not as fast as I would like to see and in certain areas it is very slow, particularly in getting access to certain documents, people to interview.

So, we don't get denials, but it takes time to achieve what we want and that sometimes is frustrating. The quicker the response we get, the quicker we can arrive at conclusions.

On Iran we are moving forward, though not with the speed we would like, but we are moving forward. Their program used to be a black hole for us and for the whole world. If you look at what we know about Iran now and then, it is a sea change. It is not the imminent threat of North Korea.

I think the emphasis that will come from Washington [represented by Bolton] is the issue of [nuclear fuel] enrichment capability of Iran that could be used [for future] weapons development. They [U.S.] have a suspicion that there is an ambition [by Iran] to build a nuclear weapon. I think that the conclusions drawn by Washington and us will not be much different.

The jury [on Iran] is still out; I don't yet see a smoking gun. I am much more concerned about North Korea. This is completely opposite. People are worried about North Korea. This is a country that has the capability, the infrastructure and a [bomb] delivery system.

We have a very serious problem on our hands. The earlier we sit with them and get an agreement, that would be for the better.

The way we handle North Korea is very important for future management of the proliferation problem. Well, if you have a nuclear weapon, your actions, in terms of punitive measures, are very limited, but I assume there will be some sort of sanctions imposed by the Security Council. But how much you can do with a country who has joined the nuclear club, unless you are prepared to raise the stakes to such a high and dangerous level?

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The Pentagon has become increasingly concerned that the unpredictable government in Pyongyang may be preparing to test a nuclear bomb in the near future. Late last week, IAEA chief Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei was in Manhattan to attend a special session at United Nations...
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2005-00-08
Sunday, 08 May 2005 12:00 AM
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