- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 5, 2002

From combined dispatches
SEOUL North Korea said yesterday it has rejected a call by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to open its nuclear weapons program to inspections, saying the United Nations nuclear watchdog was abetting U.S. policy toward the North.
The IAEA called on North Korea last week to open its atomic weapons program to inspections and said it "deplored" Pyongyang's assertion it had a right to possess the weapons.
Closing off an avenue North Korea's neighbors had hoped might pre-empt a crisis, Pyongyang's Communist government spurned the IAEA call as "an extremely unilateral resolution."
"The DPRK government cannot accept the November 29 resolution of the IAEA Board of Governors in any case and there is no change in its principled stand on the nuclear issue," Pyongyang's official Korea Central News Agency said.
The report using North Korea's official title, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) quoted a Dec. 2 letter from Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun to IAEA Director Mohammed El Baradei.
"I was disappointed at the IAEA Board of Governors still acting under the manipulation of the United States while following its policy to isolate and stifle the DPRK," Mr. Paek wrote.
The White House denounced the North Korean decision and said it would work with other countries in the region to find a peaceful solution.
"The rejection of the IAEA resolution to open its facilities to inspections is another disappointing example of North Korea's isolation that will only hurt the people of North Korea," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said yesterday.
"We will continue to apply this pressure to North Korea by working in partnership with Russia and China as well as Japan and South Korea. The region has a peaceful interest in working together so North Korea comes into compliance with international norms," he said.
China and Russia made a strong appeal to North Korea to drop its nuclear weapons program on Monday during a Beijing visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mr. Paek's letter didn't respond to requests that North Korea "clarify reports of its having an undeclared uranium enrichment program," IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said.
North Korea also left unanswered the IAEA's request for high-level talks in Vienna, Austria, on Oct. 18, she said.
"Dr. El Baradei is reiterating his deep concern about the situation, his readiness to discuss all nuclear-related matters" with North Korea, Miss Fleming said.
U.S. diplomats say North Korea revealed in October it had a nuclear weapons program in violation of a 1994 agreement with the United States. The accord called for the country to freeze and eventually dismantle its nuclear weapons program in exchange for international aid to build two power plants.
The United States, with backing from Japan, South Korea and the European Union, decided to punish North Korea by suspending free fuel-oil shipments beginning in December.
Little is known about North Korea's nuclear program. The IAEA has inspectors in the country, but their activities are limited to monitoring an old nuclear complex north of Pyongyang and a reactor at another site.

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