[JURIST] Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) [official website] Mohamed ElBaradei [BBC profile] said Monday in his annual report to UN member states that he wants North Korea to return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [text, PDF; IAEA backgrounder] after a five-year absence, during which it tested a nuclear device. His statement comes less than two weeks after North Korea allowed IAEA monitors back [IAEA press release] on the site of the Yongbyon plutonium reprocessing plant. Disarmament experts say there is little chance of stopping North Korea's nuclear program as long as it is not subject to the treaty's verification process. Reuters has more.
Earlier this month the US removed North Korea [WP report] from the State Department's list of terror sponsors [text] after President George W. Bush agreed [JURIST report] to the step following the communist state's handover of a report on its nuclear program to China, one of the countries participating in the so-called Six Party Talks [CFR backgrounder] on the North Korean program. In February 2007, North Korea agreed [JURIST report] to end its nuclear weapons program, shut down and seal any reactors, and completely declare the extent of its nuclear activities in exchange for 50,000 tons of heavy fuel. In October 2006, the UN Security Council voted to impose sanctions [JURIST report] on North Korea in response to the country's first nuclear test [JURIST report].