posted on Feb, 12 2003 @ 03:31 PM
Declaring North Korea in violation of international treaties, the U.N. nuclear agency raised the stakes in the standoff Wednesday by sending the
dispute to the Security Council ó a move that could lead to punishing sanctions.
Russia and Cuba refused to join in, saying the International Atomic Energy Agency's decision would detract from a flurry of diplomatic efforts aimed
at easing the crisis.
Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said the IAEA would continue to press for a peaceful solution, but he said months of intransigence on the part of North
Korea's reclusive communist regime had left the U.N. nuclear watchdog no choice.
Underscoring the need to keep the North from developing nuclear weapons, U.S. intelligence officials warned that Pyongyang has an untested ballistic
missile capable of reaching the western United States.
"The current situation sets a dangerous precedent," ElBaradei said. He said North Korea was only a "month or two" from producing "a significant
amount of plutonium" that could be diverted for making weapons, now that IAEA inspectors no longer controlled the country's nuclear programs.