Statement to the Board of Governors: North Korea

IAEA Board of Governors Meeting
March 5-9, 2012

Agenda Item 4(c)

U.S. Statement

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

As noted by the Director General and other distinguished colleagues, the agreement between North Korea and the United States announced February 29 marks a modest but important first step toward the objectives long sought by this Board and the international community:  reinforcing the integrity of the nonproliferation regime through the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and North Korea’s return, at an early date, to the NPT and IAEA safeguards.

Mr. Chairman, as you are aware, during the February 23-24 U.S.-DPRK talks in Beijing led by Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies — an old colleague of mine — the DPRK reaffirmed its commitment to the 2005 Joint Statement and agreed to take concrete steps in order to improve the atmosphere for dialogue and demonstrate its commitment to denuclearization.  Specifically, the DPRK has agreed to implement a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear tests, and a moratorium on nuclear activities at Yongbyon, including uranium enrichment activities.  The DPRK has also agreed to the return of the IAEA inspectors to verify and monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment activities at Yongbyon and confirm the disablement of the 5 MW reactor and associated facilities.

Mr. Chairman, the international community will be watching closely and assessing how North Korea comports itself in carrying forward with these commitments.  Working cooperatively with the IAEA would be an important indicator of the DPRK’s seriousness of purpose.  As a first step toward the implementation of a monitored moratorium of nuclear activities at Yongbyon, including enrichment, and confirmation of disablement of the plutonium production facilities at Yongbyon as agreed, the United States has urged the DPRK to initiate direct contact with the IAEA Secretariat as soon as possible.   We will continue close coordination with the Secretariat, and look forward to smooth discussions between the Agency and the DPRK on monitoring modalities, and to the IAEA’s return to Yongbyon at an early date.  We commend the IAEA’s sustained efforts to maintain a state of readiness for resumption of its monitoring presence in the DPRK.  And, as always, we remain steadfast in our commitment to support the Agency in carrying out its essential role.

We hope these modest steps are an initial indication of Pyongyang’s seriousness of purpose.  Going forward, we will seek to translate this initial positive signal into substantive and meaningful negotiations on denuclearization that addresses the entirety of the North Korean nuclear program.  This would include all nuclear activities, anywhere in the DPRK, including all aspects of its uranium enrichment program and light water reactor construction activities, which violate North Korea’s Joint Statement commitments and obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874.

We will also seek to secure steady progress toward the DPRK’s full compliance with UN resolutions 1718 and 1874.  We continue to urge all Member States to implement UN sanctions fully and transparently.

Regarding next steps in the diplomatic process, we will need to gauge the DPRK’s progress and continue our close consultations and coordination with the Republic of Korea and Japan, as well as with China and Russia.   Further discussion is needed among all concerned parties as we evaluate the possibility of resuming the Six-Party process.  As we have consistently stated: we are not interested in talks simply for the sake of talks.  We need to ensure that we set the stage for a meaningful process that addresses in a real and lasting fashion our core challenges and concerns.

As we move forward with the DPRK, we will continue to place great emphasis on the need for the North to pursue sustained dialogue with the ROK aimed at reconciliation and improved inter-Korean relations.  In order for this process to continue, the DPRK must also refrain from provocations and should cease its proliferation activities, which undermine regional stability as well as international peace and security.

As Ambassador Davies reiterated to his North Korean interlocutors in Beijing, it is the hope of the United States that “the new leadership of the DPRK will choose to guide its nation onto the path of peace by honoring North Korea’s commitments, improving relations with its neighbors, and respecting the rights of its people.”

Mr. Chairman, let’s hope that this announcement marks the beginning of precisely such a course for North Korea.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.