Hans Blix Says Security Assurances Are The Key

Hans Blix, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and veteran diplomat in nuclear issues, believes it will take more than United Nations Security Council resolutions to stop North Korea's nuclear development. In an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo in Seoul Sunday, Blix said the international community must assure Pyongyang that it can have security without nuclear weapons.

"Until now, [the Security Council resolutions] have not stopped [North Korea's] activities. That is clear," Blix said. "If you want to tell North Korea that ‘you don't need nuclear weapons, you can do without them,' then the first thing is to reassure North Korea that its security will not be jeopardized by absence of nuclear weapons."

Blix, who served as the IAEA chief from 1981 to 1997, also said the six-party nuclear talks have been "a useful instrument" in trying to dissuade North Korea from nuclear weapons, since the dialogue partners "have clearly offered North Koreans that if they abandon the nuclear weapons' path, they will have assurance of non-attack."

Blix is visiting Seoul for the 39th Plenary Assembly of the World Federation of United Nations Associations as president of the organization.

There is a report that North Koreans started to cooperate with Myanmar to build nuclear facilities. What do you think?

The reports are vague so far. From what I gather, it might have to do with construction or research. Myanmar is not very advanced in the nuclear sphere. But of course, with North Korea's record in the nuclear field, one has all the reasons to be suspicious about their exports. Any attempt by North Korea to spread nuclear knowledge that could be of use for weapons dissemination we take very seriously.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been criticized quite a few times recently.

It's, as they say, one of the most impossible jobs in the world. Most people in politics and world affairs represent interests of their countries. The UN Secretary General is elected by governments of the world to take into account interests of all states and, therefore, to find common denominators. [The position] requires goodwill diplomacy. He is very professional and seems to be very impartial. I have no criticism for him.

Do you think that Barack Obama's attitude toward North Korea has changed?

No, I don't think so. Even after Mr. [Bill] Clinton's visit, he is standing by the six-party talks. One important thing that has been added by Obama is on the principle against proliferation. He said in his speech in Cairo that no country can decide who should be allowed to have nuclear weapons. He also favors that the world exit from the nuclear era. There's not been much saber-rattling vis-a-vis North Korea, as in the case of Iran. If you say that, "We may attack you," people in Pyongyang might just say that, "Well, that's it. We're threatened. So we need the [nuclear] bomb." Therefore, it's the wise course of action that the Obama administration has chosen.

Source: JoongAng Ilbo