Vienna: UN atomic agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei heads on 11 March towards North Korea to discuss how to implement a landmark agreement on dismantling the communist state’s nuclear weapons programme.
ElBaradei, who heads the UN watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has described the two-day visit to Pyongyang as “very much a step in the right direction toward implementation of the de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.
ElBaradei will be leaving Vienna for Beijing, from where he is to depart on 13 March for North Korea, IAEA officials said.
The visit follows the deal China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Russia and the US struck 13 February for Pyongyang to shut its nuclear facilities in exchange for energy aid.
The current North Korean nuclear crisis began in December 2002, when Pyongyang expelled IAEA inspectors and then in January 2003 withdrew from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
North Korea, where the population is reported to be impoverished and stricken by famine, announced in February 2005 that it had nuclear weapons.
Then in October 2006 it exploded its first nuclear device.