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North Korea agrees to return to nuclear treaty

[JURIST] North Korea agreed Monday to abandon its nuclear weapons programs and return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [PDF text; IAEA backgrounder] as the latest round of six-party talks [US State Dept. briefing] between North Korea, China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the US concluded in Beijing. According to a joint statement [text] released Monday, North Korea "committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning, at an early date, to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to IAEA safeguards." International Atomic Energy Agency [official website] head Mohamed ElBaradei welcomed the agreement [IAEA press release], saying the IAEA would conduct "the necessary inspections to assure ourselves that the nuclear weapons programme in the DPRK has been abandoned and that all nuclear activity in the DPRK is subjected to safeguards and dedicated for peaceful purposes." As part of the negotiations, the US affirmed that it has no nuclear weapons in the Korean Peninsula and pledged to respect North Korea's sovereignty and to take steps to normalize relations with the country. The IAEA has background on North Korea's nuclear activities. AP has more.

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