CNN AMERICAN MORNING WITH PAULA ZAHN
Interview With Mohamed ElBaradei
Aired January 7, 2003 - 07:07 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: From the economy, turning now to the President's major concerns overseas, both in Iraq and North Korea. At a meeting Monday in Vienna, the UN's nuclear watchdog agency agreed to give North Korea one more chance to turn its defiance into compliance.
Joining us now to talk about North Korea and Iraq, from Vienna, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Welcome back, sir -- good to see you again.
MOHAMED ELBARADEI, DIRECTOR GENERAL, IAEA: Good morning, Paula.
ZAHN: What difference do you think it will make to give North Korea one more chance?
ELBARADEI: Well, I think it could make a difference that they got yesterday, Paula, a message -- a unanimous message from the international community that if you need to resolve your economic needs, if you need the international community to look into your security concerns, you better come into compliance with your nonproliferation obligation, you better give up your weapons program. It is only through compliance and not defiance that we would listen to you.
And I think that is a powerful message. I hope North Korea would mull over it and come around and start to behave as a law-abiding member of the international community.
ZAHN: You say you'd like them to turn around and start behaving as a law-abiding member of the world community. Do you expect North Korea to back down and allow inspectors back in?
ELBARADEI: Well, I hope so. They have a stark (ph) choice: Either to continue their policy of defiance and then continue to be further isolated and possibly subject to coercive measures, or come around and then open doors for the international community to deal with their sorely-needed economic assistance, to deal with some of their security concerns.
So, they have a lot of light at the end of the tunnel, Paula, if they behave. If not, then they will have to face also serious consequences, and not unlike Iraq.
ZAHN: There is a shocking opinion piece in "The New York Times" this morning, which says -- quote: "In five years, North Korea could have 100 nuclear weapons and be churning out more like a fast food chef. With nothing else to keep its economy going, North Korea will peddle them to the highest bidder."
One hundred weapons, is that how bad this has gotten?
ELBARADEI: Well, I would not go into numbers, but they have the capacity, Paula. They have a reprocessing plant, which can produce two or three weapon materials per year, probably. And they might also have an enrichment program.
So, the situation is a serious situation. Even 5 or 10 weapons are serious enough. So, we need to deal with the situation, and we need to deal with the situation energetically.
ZAHN: "The New York Times" also suggests of all of the actors involved in this drama that the Atomic Energy Agency has been the most bruised. What is the relationship between your agency and North Korea?
ELBARADEI: Right now, Paula, very little, almost nothing I think. We were asked to leave. All of our cameras and seals and other safeguard measures have been immobilized. So, we have very little contact with North Korea right now. And that's why I reported to our member states yesterday that we are really clueless as to what's going on in North Korea, and I hope that situation will change very soon. If not, then we will have to go in a matter of weeks to the Security Council.
ZAHN: I want to close this morning by talking about Iraq. Yesterday, you suggested that samples retrieved by weapons inspectors in Iraq so far have provided no -- quote -- "smoking gun." Does that mean you believe up until this point, the Iraqis have been in compliance? Or are they just not showing your inspectors things that aren't on the declaration?
ELBARADEI: Well, what I believe, Paula, that we haven't seen anything to show that Iraq has revived its nuclear weapons program. But whether I'm saying that they do not have a weapons program? No. I'm saying that so far, we haven't seen a smoking gun, but we still have a lot of work to do before we can come to a conclusion that Iraq is clean. That we would still require (ph) at least a few months from now.
ZAHN: So, the inspectors then will not have their job done by January 27, the date you need to have a report in to the UN?
ELBARADEI: By the 27th of January, we will have a status report, Paula, but not a complete report or a final report, no. But we still have quite a few months from now.
ZAHN: Mohamed ElBaradei, as always, good to see you. Thank you so much for joining us this morning. Appreciate your spending a little time with us here on AMERICAN MORNING. Good luck to you.
ELBARADEI: Thank you.
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