Muhammad el-Baradei (file photo) (epa)
March 12, 2007 -- The head of the UN nuclear watchdog says implementing a plan to shut down North Korea's nuclear weapons program will take some time.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei made the comment in Beijing today, on his way to Pyongyang. But el-Baradei told reporters he hoped an agreement could be reached soon on allowing UN inspectors to return to North Korea.
"I hope that we agree with the DPRK [North Korea] to get our inspectors back in time to implement the agreement of the six-party talks," he said. "I hope that we will be able to agree on modalities to normalize the relationship with the IAEA and hopefully for the DPRK to come back as a full member of the agency."
El-Baradei's visit to North Korea comes four years after the country kicked out the IAEA's nuclear inspectors. Under a six-party agreement signed on February 13, North Korea has agreed to shut down its main nuclear facility within 60 days and to work toward dismantling its nuclear programs.
(compiled from agency reports)