(Yonhap Interview) IAEA chief calls on N. Korea to implement UN resolutions

By Park Bo-ram

SEOUL, Oct. 16 (Yonhap) -- The chief of the international nuclear watchdog called on North Korea Wednesday to abide by the United Nations' resolutions banning the country from nuclear arms activities, saying that the agency is always ready to return to the country for inspection.

"In general terms, the restart of the five-megawatt reactor or enrichment activities are contrary to the United Nations' Security Council resolutions," said Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in an interview with Yonhap News Agency.

In defiance of the U.N. resolutions, the North conducted its third nuclear bomb test last February following its satellite launch in December. Both were suspected to be efforts to complete its development of intercontinental ballistic missile technology.

"We have said that nuclear explosion test, or threat of another test, is very disturbing. And we insist that North Korea has to implement all the UNSC resolutions and other obligations," Amano said.

The former Japanese diplomat was elected in early 2013 for his second four-year term at the helm of the international organization commissioned to inspect unauthorized military use of nuclear power.

The chief of the Vienna, Austria- based organization said that the IAEA is always ready to resume inspections of North Korea's nuclear activities, but it can come only after the six countries involved in the long-stalled dialogue to denuclearize the North strike an agreement to resume the talks.

"We are always prepared to go back to North Korea when requested. But in order that the IAEA goes back to the North, a political agreement is essential ... A political agreement among (IAEA) stake holders first, and then I will have a role to play on the inspection verifications," said Amano.

However, he declined to discuss the current state of North Korea's nuclear development capacity, citing a lack of IAEA presence in the country.

"The IAEA does not have the inspectors or staff on the ground (in North Korea) since April 2009 when they have been asked to leave the country ... We are monitoring (the North's nuclear activities) by other means including satellite imageries," the director general said.

After walking out of the six-party disarmament talks involving South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan around the end of 2008 and kicking IAEA nuclear inspectors out of the country, the North conducted its second and third nuclear tests in May 2009 and this February, respectively.

The North is currently mustering efforts to revive the long-stalled aids-for-disarmament talks. China and Russia have shown support for the North's resumption efforts, but the South and the U.S. remain skeptical about resumption.

The outside world believes the North has made substantial progress in its nuclear weapons production since the six-party talks were stalled. The U.S. maintains that the North should first demonstrate its willingness to discard its nuclear weapons program in order for the multilateral dialogue to start.

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