IAEA head says North is significantly advancedDirector General Yukiya Amano of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Friday North Korea’s latest nuclear test proved the country had made significant progress in its nuclear program and that it poses a new level of threat to the international community.
“We do not have the capacity to determine if it was a hydrogen bomb or not,” Amano told reporters in Seoul. “But it is obvious the yield [of the recent test] was much bigger than the previous ones. It means that North Korea made a very rapid progress. Combined with other elements, this is a new threat and this is a global threat.”
To address the “grave” threat, the international community should unite, the IAEA chief stressed.
Ultimate solutions should be found by the member states of the United Nations, but the “IAEA is willing to play a role when political developments allow us,” he noted.
For the moment, the IAEA is monitoring North Korea’s nuclear program and providing information to the international community without direct access to the country, he added.
Amano is currently on a three-day visit to South Korea to discuss the North Korean issue and his organization’s cooperation with South Korea.
Earlier in the day, Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha met with him at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“The issues you deal with are very much central to our interests and concerns,” Kang told Amano during the meeting, expressing gratitude for the role the IAEA is contributing to the North Korean nuclear issue.
In response, Amano said, “Your country is a very important partner for the IAEA and we are very grateful for your generous support for my organization.”
During their meeting, Kang and Amano agreed to step up cooperation between South Korea and the IAEA to resolve the North Korean issue. Both of them voiced “grave concerns” over the North’s sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3 and other continued provocations, the foreign ministry said.
Amano said the IAEA has recently launched a special team for North Korea, called the DPRK Team, in efforts to intensify verification capabilities for the North Korean nuclear program. The new team was launched in August and is in charge of monitoring the North Korean nuclear program and training staff to inspect the program, the ministry added.
Also discussed in the meeting was “an important role” the IAEA played in forging and implementing the landmark deal on Iran’s nuclear program. Kang said she expected the organization to share its Iran experiences with South Korea as it would have implications for the North Korean issue, according to the ministry.
The latest meeting reaffirmed the two sides’ commitment to cooperation on the North Korean issue as well as on the field of peaceful use of nuclear power, the ministry added.