H.E. Ambassador Oh Joon, Deputy Permanent Representative, at Plenary of the 61st Session of the General Assembly
1. My delegation thanks Dr. ElBaradei, Director General of the IAEA, for his comprehensive report on the Agency’s activities. In addition, we commend the Director General and his staff for their dedication to fulfilling their responsibilities with integrity and professionalism.
2. Over the past five decades, the IAEA has stood firm as the central body dedicated to promoting the safe and peaceful uses of nuclear energy as well as stemming the spread of nuclear weapons. The bestowal of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize on the IAEA and its Director General was a well deserved recognition of the Agency’s significant contributions to international peace, security and development.
3. The Republic of Korea has been a strong supporter of the Agency’s work and is committed to maintaining full cooperation in all areas of the Agency’s activity. As we reflect on our long-standing partnership with the Agency in this semi-centennial anniversary year, allow me to highlight a few areas that we deem particularly important for the future development of the IAEA.
4. First, we believe universal adherence to the Additional Protocol to the NPT is an essential measure for improving the current safeguards and verification regime. We are disappointed that as of today only 78 countries are participating in the Additional Protocol. We believe that all States should sign, ratify and fully implement the Additional Protocol as soon as possible.
5. Second, we support current endeavours to develop a new framework for the utilization of nuclear energy, with the aim of providing reliable access to nuclear fuel and technologies while controlling sensitive nuclear activities. As a country relying heavily on nuclear energy, with 20 nuclear power plants in operation, the Republic of Korea will actively participate in the relevant discussions on this issue.
6. Third, my government supports the work of the IAEA Advisory Committee on Safeguards and Verification. Given that one year has already passed since its establishment, it is high time for the Committee to fulfil its mandate by recommending to the IAEA Board an initial set of measures to strengthen the safeguards system.
7. Fourth, the Republic of Korea will continue to lend strong support to the IAEA’s efforts to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to nurture a culture of nuclear safety and security as a means of ensuring the sustainable use of nuclear power to meet States’ development needs.
8. The nuclear test conducted by the DPRK on 9 October 2006, poses a grave threat not only to the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia, but the global non-proliferation regime as well. The DPRK’s behaviour is in outright defiance of the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the 19 September 2005 Joint Statement agreed at the Six-Party Talks, as well as Security Council Resolution 1695 and Presidential Statement (S/PRST/2006/41) of 6 October.
9. In response to such reckless act by North Korea, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1718 on 14 October, which provided for North Korea’s obligation to abandon all its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs, as well as to act strictly in accordance with requirements of parties under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the terms and conditions of IAEA Safeguard Agreement. My government strongly welcomes and supports the stern and swift decision made by the Security Council, and requests IAEA to do all in its capacity to fulfil the mandate reinforced by the Security Council.
10. My government made clear, in the strongest terms, that this provocative act by North Korea will not be condoned and that North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons should not be tolerated. In this regard, we urge the DPRK to comply fully with requirements of Resolution 1718 by abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning to the Six-Party Talks immediately without preconditions. To this end, my government will work closely with all parties concerned for the faithful implementation of the Resolution while keeping the window of a diplomatic solution open.
11. We note the Director General’s statement that the IAEA will work towards a solution that addresses the concerns of the international community on the nature of the nuclear activities in the DPRK. We fully support this statement and believe in the Agency’s critical role in upholding the nuclear security and safeguards system.