Written Answers - Nuclear Programmes.

Wednesday, 22 February 2006

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 615 No. 76

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  98.  Mr. Naughten  Information on Denis Naughten  Zoom on Denis Naughten   asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs  Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern   if he has discussed the possible development of nuclear weaponry by North Korea with his EU counterparts; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6811/06]

  115.  Mr. O’Dowd  Information on Fergus O'Dowd  Zoom on Fergus O'Dowd   asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs  Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern   the status of IAEA inspections undertaken recently in North Korea; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6814/06]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. D. Ahern): Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern  I propose to take Questions Nos. 98 and 115 together.

The issue of the nuclear programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, DPRK, is kept under close and regular scrutiny within the European Union. The International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, has the responsibility of carrying out inspections of nuclear and related facilities under the safeguards agreement with the DPRK, which was ratified in 1985. Following the expulsion of the IAEA inspectors on 31 December 2002, however, the agency has been unable to draw any conclusions regarding nuclear activities in that country.

The EU has called for the DPRK’s compliance with its safeguards agreement with the IAEA and the full implementation of all the required safeguard measures, including the return of IAEA inspectors. The EU also issued a statement in February 2005 expressing its strong concern about the DPRK’s statement that it possessed nuclear weapons and urged the DPRK to completely dismantle any nuclear weapons programme in a prompt, transparent, verifiable and irreversible manner and to comply with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, NPT. The EU has indicated its support for the efforts of the IAEA director general to enter into dialogue with the DPRK, with a view to restoring the verification role of the IAEA.

The IAEA board of governors has also expressed serious concern about the DPRK nuclear issue, considering it to be a serious challenge to the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, as well as to the peace and stability of north east Asia. The IAEA board of governors [708]emphasised the importance of continued dialogue to achieve a peaceful and comprehensive solution of the DPRK issue and, in this regard, said it attached great importance to the crucial role played by the six party talks between the DPRK, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the United States.

Ireland, together with our partners in the EU, supports the six party talks process and urges the DPRK to co-operate with the international community to find a peaceful solution to the nuclear issue. While not directly involved in these talks, the EU has availed of every opportunity to confirm the Union’s willingness to contribute to the international efforts to move matters forward. The Union has also indicated our readiness to consider enhanced co-operation with the DPRK if the present difficult situation can be resolved in a satisfactory manner.


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