Foreign Minister Taro Kono on Tuesday asked for the cooperation of the International Atomic Energy Agency to prevent the escalation of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program from threatening security in East Asia.
“We have a lot of issues to tackle together with the IAEA,” including Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, Kono said at a meeting with IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano, the outset of which was open to the media.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog’s chief told Kono, “The biggest challenge we have to deal with for the time being is North Korea,” expressing willingness to work in tandem with Japan to resolve the crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
The IAEA has not had direct access to nuclear facilities in North Korea since its inspectors involved in monitoring them were expelled in April 2009. In August, the agency set up a team to prepare for a resumption of its inspections of Pyongyang’s nuclear activities.
Amano, a former senior Japanese diplomat who became IAEA director-general in December 2009, said he visited South Korea before coming to Tokyo to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue.
On Sept. 3, North Korea carried out its sixth nuclear test, its most powerful to date, which it claimed was of a hydrogen bomb.
Last month, Amano, 70, was appointed to serve a third four-year term as head of the Vienna-based organization. Amano told Kono he appreciates Japan’s support for his reappointment.