UPDATE 1-IAEA chief says to make all-out effort to stop North Korea’s nuclear programme

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(adds S.Korea president comment, background)

SEOUL, Dec 15 (Reuters) – International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi said on Thursday the IAEA would make an all-out effort to stop North Korea’s nuclear programme and preserve international non-proliferation, according to South Korea’s presidential office.

Grossi, who is on a visit to Seoul, was responding to a request from South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol for the agency to join efforts to hold back what South Korea calls the North’s nuclear provocations and achieve its denuclearisation by strengthening monitoring activity and readiness for inspection.

Grossi said that he shares the international community’s concern about the North Korea nuclear issue, South Korea’s presidential office said.

North Korea is believed to have completed preparations for the first nuclear test since 2017, according to officials from South Korea and the United States.

The IAEA has not had access to North Korea since the secretive communist state expelled its inspectors in 2009. (Reporting by Jihoon Lee; Editing by Jason Neely and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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