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IAEA Chief Welcomes North Korean Breakthrough


http://gdb.rferl.org/98E12D4E-897D-4CBE-A30C-CF41061AA99C_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/98E12D4E-897D-4CBE-A30C-CF41061AA99C_mw800_mh600.jpg IAEA head el-Baradei (file photo) 19 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- The head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Muhammad el-Baradei, today welcomed North Korea's decision to abandon its atomic weapons and other nuclear programs and to return to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

El-Baradei said he hoped UN nuclear inspectors could take the country at its word as soon as possible.

The North Korean pledge is contained in a joint statement issued today in Beijing at the close of the latest round of six-country negotiations on the North Korean nuclear issue.

The statement says that in connection with North Korea abandoning its nuclear weapons and programs, the United States, Russia, South Korea, Japan, and China have agreed to provide energy assistance to the North.

The chief U.S. envoy to the talks, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, praised the breakthrough as a "win-win situation."

"It is a big decision for [North Korea], a big undertaking, but its absolutely the right decision for them," Hill said. "The security, the success, the prosperity of the DPRK does not depend on nuclear weapons. In fact, it depends on relations with others. So this is a moment which I think will be a very important moment in their history, to make this turn, and to turn away from these sorts of weapons and toward interactions with their neighbors and with other countries in the world."

The six countries have agreed to meet again in November to discuss concrete steps to implement the statement.

(AP/Reuters/AFP)

See also:

"Six-Party Talks Move into Second Day, No Breakthrough"
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