(3rd LD) IAEA condemns N.K. nuke program, demands concrete steps for denuclearization

The U.N. nuclear watchdog has adopted a resolution, condemning North Korea's nuclear weapons program "in the strongest terms" and demanding Pyongyang take "concrete steps" toward denuclearization, the foreign ministry in Seoul said Saturday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency adopted the resolution unanimously as it wrapped up its general conference in Vienna, according to the ministry. The weeklong meeting ended Friday (local time).

"The latest resolution pointed out the North's resumption of reprocessing activities this year and condemned the North's continued nuclear activities in a stronger manner than last year," the ministry said in a press release.

The IAEA and its members reaffirmed their stance that they will not tolerate the North owning nuclear weapons, while strongly deploring its persistent pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

They also urged the communist state to dismantle all of its nuclear weapons and related programs in compliance with the denuclearization promise made with the other six-party negotiation countries in 2005, the ministry said.

North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test earlier last month in defiance of multiple global warnings and it came just eight months after its fourth one in January. The latest nuclear warhead detonation test is regarded as the most powerful.

The U.N. Security Council is currently working on a fresh resolution to tighten its squeeze on Pyongyang in blocking money and materials that could be used for its development of nuclear weapons.

Some are calling for stronger punitive measures than the resolution adopted right after the fourth nuclear test, mentioning efforts to cover the "loopholes" through which the North is suspected of getting its hands on the necessary money and materials.

In a speech at the IAEA meeting, Kim Hong-kyun, South Korea's top nuclear envoy, called upon the agency to send a "firm" message to the North, raising worries that it is "at the final stage of nuclear weaponization."

The foreign ministry praised the IAEA's strongest condemnation to date, saying it underlines a consolidated global front against North Korea after its repeated provocations, and pursuit of upgrading its nuclear and missile capabilities.

Separately, a North Korea's Foreign Ministry delegation repeated Pyongyang's long-standing claim that the present situation on the Korean Peninsula "is reaching an uncontrollable phase entirely because of the U.S. heinous hostile policy toward" the North.

The delegation made the comment in a meeting with Iranian officials during its recent trip to Tehran, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

North Korea frequently accuses the U.S. of harboring a hostile policy toward it and plotting with South Korea to invade the North, though the U.S. has said such claims are false.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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