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U.N.: N. Korea has 'just weeks'

Tens of thousands of North Koreans rallied on Tuesday, calling for a stronger military
Tens of thousands of North Koreans rallied on Tuesday, calling for a stronger military

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Thomas C. Hubbard, U.S. ambassador to South Korea, tells CNN's Sohn Jie-Ae that the United States is willing to talk but not negotiate with North Korea.
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The U.S. says it's ready to open dialogue with North Korea over their nuclear standoff, but the shift in U.S. policy comes with conditions. CNN's Andrea Koppel reports.
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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The United Nations' nuclear watchdog says North Korea has just weeks to readmit weapons inspectors before the matter is referred to the Security Council.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued that statement a day after its governing board adopted a resolution condemning North Korea for violating international non-proliferation obligations and calling on Pyongyang to immediately come back into compliance.

In that resolution, the IAEA board, which includes representatives of 35 nations, said North Korea could face "serious consequences, not unlike Iraq," if it continues to defy the world community.

The resolution did not impose a deadline or offer a timeline for when North Korea must comply.

However, IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said the timeline is a "matter of weeks and no longer."

"It is a very small window of opportunity in terms of time frame," she told U.N. Radio Tuesday.

In another development, the United States agreed to talk with North Korea about its obligation to end its nuclear program, but said it wouldn't compromise with the Communist country, according to a statement from trilateral talks. (Full story)

The United States, South Korea, and Japan opened talks Monday on how to defuse the quickly escalating impasse with North Korea, which kicked out nuclear inspectors last week and has shown no signs of cooperating with the international community by ending its nuclear weapons program.

Previously, the U.S. delegation had said the United States would not talk directly with North Korea.

'Clueless'

The IAEA resolution, passed at an emergency meeting in Vienna this week, said the agency "deplores in the strongest terms North Korea's unilateral acts to impede the functioning of containment and surveillance equipment at its nuclear facilities and the nuclear material contained therein."

North Korea recently kicked out weapons inspectors who had been keeping tabs on the Yongbyon nuclear power plant and dismantled equipment the inspectors were using to monitor the plant.

As a result, the resolution said, the IAEA can't know for sure where North Korea is developing nuclear weapons.

"We're clueless as to what is happening," said IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, "not only in regard to the past program but [also] current activity."

ElBaradei has said he believes Pyongyang is using its nuclear facilities as a bargaining chip to extract political and economic concessions from the United States, Japan, and South Korea.

The IAEA board, which includes representatives of 35 nations, is sending a message to North Korea "that the international community is not ready to negotiate under blackmail or threat," ElBaradei said, adding that once North Korea fulfills its international obligations "there is a light at the end of the tunnel for them."



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