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North Korea Accuses IAEA Of Meddling

North Korea accused the U.N. nuclear watchdog Friday of interfering in Pyongyang's internal affairs by referring the dispute over its nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council.

The official KCNA news agency called the International Atomic Energy Agency "America's lapdog" and said North Korea has no legal obligations to the Vienna-based agency because it withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in January.

"Thus discussing the nuclear issue through the IAEA is an act of interference in internal affairs," said KCNA, which was monitored by the South Korean news agency Yonhap.

KCNA also urged the nuclear agency to investigate "the illegal U.S. behavior that brought a nuclear crisis to the Korean peninsula."

The IAEA's board of directors voted on Wednesday to refer the North Korea nuclear issue to the Security Council, setting in motion a process that could lead to sanctions against North Korea.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said months of intransigence on the part of North Korea had left the U.N. nuclear agency no choice.

On Thursday, the United States said it would strive for a diplomatic solution and would not call for U.N. sanctions against North Korea at this time, a move Pyongyang had said would be tantamount to a "declaration of war."

The standoff began in October when U.S. officials said North Korea admitted it had a clandestine nuclear program. Washington suspended fuel shipments, and the North retaliated by expelling U.N. nuclear monitors, taking steps to restart frozen nuclear facilities and withdrawing from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

North Korea has called for talks with the United States, but Washington wanted the issue referred to the Security Council to show that it was an international matter — not just a dispute between Washington and Pyongyang.

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