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24 Feb, 2007 04:18

IAEA chief invited to North Korea to help end nuclear programme

IAEA chief invited to North Korea to help end nuclear programme

North Korea has invited Mohamed El Baradei, the head of the IAEA to visit. Mr El Baradei welcomed North Korea's invitation saying he hopes it will eventually lead to the country once again becoming a member of his organisation.

The invitation represents the first time the country will allow its nuclear programme to be inspected by outside forces, and could be taken as a sign North Korea is indeed seeking to normalise relations with the UN.

Therefore, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon added his voice to those welcoming the proposed visit.

“I hope that he [Mohamed El Baradei] and his delegation will be able to discuss with North Korean authorities detailed matters on first freezing nuclear facilities, and including the eventual dismantlement of all nuclear weapons and facilities,” said the UN Secretary General.

Mr El Baradei also underscored he hopes to discuss the details of the country's suspension, and eventual dismantling, of its nuclear programme.

Earlier this month, North Korea took the first steps towards disabling its nuclear facilities.

An agreement was reached at the six-party talks in Beijing, China. The terms saw North Korea agreeing to shut down its Pyongyang nuclear reactor within 60 days in exchange for receiving fuel and aid.

The amount of aid North Korea receives will increase as the country becomes more open about its nuclear programme.

“The discussions hopefully will be wide ranging, but the first is how to develop a plan to freeze the Pyongyang facilities in accordance with the agreement, and more important for me to make sure that they come back to the agency as fully fledged members of the agency,” said Mr El Baradei.

While no date has yet been set for the visit, according to an IAEA spokesperson it will take place in the second week of March after an agency meeting on North Korea.