U.N. council asked to curb North Korea

April 02, 1993|By New York Times News Service

TOKYO -- The International Atomic Energy Agency declared yesterday that North Korea had violated its obligations to open its suspected nuclear weapons sites to inspections. For the first time, the agency asked the U.N. Security Council to enforce the provisions of international agreements intended to limit the spread of nuclear arms.

The action, at a special meeting of the agency's board of governors, came a day after North Korea defied the latest deadline to permit inspectors into two sites near Yongbyon, a heavily guarded nuclear installation that U.S. intelligence satellites suggest would provide evidence of how close the Communist government is to producing an atomic bomb.

North Korea declared three weeks ago that it was withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but the action does not take effect until June.

The action yesterday by the agency, while expected, poses the Clinton administration with its first major challenge in Asia: how hard to push an unpredictable government that many of its neighbors say they fear could strike out if pressed too far.

So far the administration's effort to get China, North Korea's last remaining major ally, to join in the public effort to pressure Pyongyang has failed.

In the vote yesterday, China and Libya were the only two countries opposing the resolution asking the United Nations to intervene.

Twenty-eight countries voted for the resolution, but India, Pakistan, Syria and Vietnam abstained. Neither India nor Pakistan has signed the treaty, and both are believed to have extensive nuclear weapons projects of their own.

The resolution said "the Agency is not able to verify that there has been no diversion of nuclear material" to "nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."

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