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 Monday, 6 January, 2003, 17:48 GMT
North Korea offered 'final chance'
South Korean tank at the demilitarised zone bordering North Korea
South Korea is trying to reduce tension in the region
The United Nations' nuclear watchdog has passed a resolution demanding that North Korea readmit UN inspectors and abandon its secret nuclear weapons programme.

I'd like to give diplomacy a chance

Mohammed ElBaradei
IAEA Director General

The International Atomic Energy Agency said it was adopting an approach of zero tolerance, but it stopped short of setting a deadline for Pyongyang's compliance.

If North Korea does not act, the IAEA would turn the matter over to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions or other measures.

Tensions have been high since North Korea decided to reactivate a nuclear complex at Yongbyon which had been frozen under a 1994 deal with the US.

'Matter of weeks'

IAEA Director General Mohammed ElBaradei said that, although no deadline had been set, North Korea had "clearly a matter of weeks" in which to act.

"The (IAEA) board is waiting urgently for a report from me and I don't think I'll be delayed in providing a response in the very near future," he said.

All 35 member countries on the IAEA board had backed the resolution, Mr ElBaradei said.

"I hope DRPK (North Korea) will hear the clear message of the international community," he added.

Cool reception

Later on Monday South Korea is expected to present a proposal to senior United States and Japanese officials in Washington, believed to centre on the US giving a written guarantee of North Korea's security in exchange for North Korea scrapping its programme.
POSSIBLE SOUTH KOREAN PROPOSALS
US to give written assurance that it will not attack N Korea
N Korea to give up programme to enrich uranium and close down Yongbyon complex
US to resume fuel oil shipments

South Korean media reports indicate the government is pressing the US to drop its refusal to negotiate with North Korea and resume heavy fuel oil supplies to the Stalinist state.

In return, North Korea would stop an alleged programme to enrich uranium and put the Yongbyon complex back into mothballs.

But the White House has already given a lukewarm reaction to the idea, with a spokesman saying only that the US and South Korea would continue to work "shoulder-to-shoulder" on the issue.

South Korea's National Security Adviser Yim Sung-joon is travelling to Washington to meet with his US counterpart, Condoleezza Rice.

Mr Yim said he would be trying to find "a common denominator" over how to deal with the North, after the issue threatened to undermine the normally close relations between the US and its regional allies.

Rhetoric

North Korea has kept up its angry rhetoric, saying on Monday that Washington's development of a controversial missile defence system was proof the US planned to attack the North.

CRISIS CHRONOLOGY
Satellite photo of the Yongbyon plant (AFP)
16 Oct: N Korea acknowledges secret nuclear programme, US says
14 Nov: Oil shipments to N Korea halted
22 Dec: N Korea removes monitoring devices at Yongbyon nuclear plant
26 Dec: UN says 1,000 fuel rods have been moved to the plant
31 Dec: UN nuclear inspectors leave North Korea
31 Dec: N Korea threatens to pull out of NPT nuclear treaty
The US was using the "non-existent" nuclear and missile threat as a pretext, the official Korean Central News Agency said.

North Korea's traditional allies Russia and China are being pressed to bring their influence to bear with the North Korean Government.

Russia on Sunday said it would try to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programme, but called for dialogue between the US and North Korea.

The comments by Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov came after talks with visiting South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Hang-kyung.

Also taking part in diplomatic efforts is Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who heads to Russia on Thursday. A senior US envoy James Kelly is also heading to East Asia later in the week.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Emily Buchanan
"A nervous North Korea blames the current impasse on America"
  Gary Samore, Int. Institute of Strategic Studies
"The more weapons it has the more it might try to sell"
  IAEA Director General Mohammed ElBaradei
"I hope North Korea will seize this chance and comply"

Nuclear tensions

Inside North Korea

Divided peninsula

TALKING POINT
See also:

04 Jan 03 | Media reports
03 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
02 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
01 Jan 03 | Asia-Pacific
31 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
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