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Monday, 3 February, 2003, 18:33 GMT
UN nuclear watchdog to discuss Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il (centre, dark glasses) inspecting an army unit along with top military leaders at an undisclosed location in North Korea, 23 January 2003.
North Korea says sanctions would be an act of war
The United Nations nuclear watchdog agency has decided to meet on 12 February to consider asking the UN Security Council to act against North Korea, the head of the agency has said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) wants the UN to consider what to do about North Korea, which last month pulled out of a key anti-nuclear agreement.

"I've exhausted all possibilities within my power to bring North Korea into compliance," said IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei.

16 Oct: US announces that N Korea has acknowledged secret nuclear programme
14 Nov: Oil shipments to N Korea halted
22 Dec: N Korea removes monitoring devices at Yongbyon nuclear plant
31 Dec: UN nuclear inspectors forced to leave North Korea
10 Jan: N Korea pulls out of anti-nuclear treaty
28 Jan: President Bush urges the "oppressive" N Korean regime to give up its nuclear ambitions
Next week's IAEA meeting in Vienna could pave the way for the Security Council to impose sanctions on an already isolated and poverty-stricken country.

Pyongyang has said it would consider sanctions a declaration of war.

However, Mr ElBaradei said he believed the Security Council would not necessarily opt for economic sanctions.

"I believe probably the Security Council will start again by looking for a peaceful resolution of the issue," he told Reuters.

Diplomatic moves

South Korea has sent an envoy of President-elect Roh Moo-hyun to Washington to press for a diplomatic solution.

The envoy, Chyung Dai-chul, is due to meet US Secretary of State Colin Powell and other high-ranking officials during his three-day visit.

North Korea has said it will only talk directly to the US, but the US has said it is not willing to negotiate with the North until it dismantles its suspected nuclear arms programme,

Last week, US officials said spy satellites had shown North Korea was moving fuel rods around its Yongbyon nuclear power plant, sparking fears it was planning to manufacture weapons-grade plutonium by reprocessing spent rods.

The crisis was sparked last October when the US said Pyongyang had admitted to a covert nuclear weapons programme, in breach of a 1994 agreement.

The US stopped fuel aid to North Korea in protest. In December, North Korea expelled UN weapons inspectors and announced it was reactivating a previous nuclear programme.

Last month it pulled out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty which seeks to prevent the spread of nuclear arms.

Nuclear tensions

Inside North Korea

Divided peninsula

See also:

31 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
26 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
24 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
24 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
22 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
10 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
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