The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
FORMER MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

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Media Release

FA196 - 23 December 2002

North Korea's Removal of IAEA Monitoring Equipment

I am deeply concerned that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has gone ahead with its threat to cut seals and interfere with surveillance equipment installed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at nuclear facilities at Yongbyon. The IAEA has confirmed the DPRK's action.

This latest development comes hard on the heels of the DPRK's admission it has a Highly Enriched Uranium program. It has also announced it will re-activate its nuclear facilities, which were frozen under the 1994 US-DPRK Agreed Framework.

Operation of these facilities without the requisite safeguards in place would contravene the DPRK's obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the DPRK's safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

This threat to security on the Korean peninsula, and to the region, will not help the DPRK's efforts to establish normal cooperative relations with other members of the international community. The DPRK's actions will be met by firm international resolve.

I strongly urge the DPRK to step back from the path it is taking, and to restore full cooperation with the IAEA in applying the containment and surveillance measures. I also call upon the DPRK to abandon its nuclear-weapons program once and for all.

The DPRK must understand that Australia cannot take the bilateral relationship forward until the nuclear question is resolved.

Media inquiries: Chris Kenny (Ministerial) +61 02 6277 7500 / Lyndall Sachs (Departmental) +61 02 6261 1555


 

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