(VOA Editorial)  (470)

(Following is an editorial, broadcast by the Voice of America April 20,

reflecting the views of the U.S. government.)

The president of the U.N. Security Council recently issued a statement of

concern over North Korea's non-compliance with the International Atomic

Energy Agency's nuclear safeguards agreement and North Korea's decision to

withdraw from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.  The statement was

supported by a consensus of the U.N. Security Council members.  As the U.S.

ambassador to the United Nations, Madeleine Albright, said, the United

States "joins other members of the (U.N. Security) Council in expressing

full and complete support for the International Atomic Energy Agency and

the non-proliferation treaty."

Along with other members of the U.N. Security Council, the United States

supports the North-South declaration on the denuclearization of the Korean

peninsula.  This includes a pledge not to possess nuclear-reprocessing

facilities and to accept effective bilateral inspections of nuclear

facilities.  Complete implementation by North Korea of its responsibilities

under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the International Atomic Energy

Agency safeguards agreement, and the North-South declaration is critical to

peace and security on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea's announced withdrawal from the non-proliferation treaty has

added to growing international concern over the Kim Il Sung regime's

nuclear activities.  In recent testimony before members of the U.S. Senate,

James Woolsey, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, said that the

United States has "every indication that the North Koreans are hiding

evidence of some nuclear weapons-related activities from the international

community.... Of the greatest concern is the real possibility that North

Korea has already manufactured enough fissile material for at least one

nuclear weapon and is hiding this from the International Atomic Energy


Though a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty since 1985, North Korea

did not allow the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect any of its

nuclear facilities until last year.  According to International Atomic

Energy Agency public statements, these inspections indicated that North

Korea may have more plutonium -- a key element in nuclear weapons -- than

it has declared.  To resolve these uncertainties, the International Atomic

Energy Agency should be given full access to information and facilities

related to North Korea's nuclear program.

As Ambassador Albright said, "we call upon North Korea to revoke its

decision to withdraw from the non-proliferation treaty and fulfill its

responsibilities under that treaty."  Ambassador Albright noted that the

United States is prepared to play its part in international efforts aimed

at obtaining North Korean compliance with international nuclear

non-proliferation agreements.  The United States calls on other nations to

join in these efforts.  The door remains open to improved relations if

North Korea fully removes international suspicions about its nuclear