International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei called for dialogue with North Korea and Iran on their nuclear policies.
"We need ... To bite the bullet and find the way to talk to them (North Koreans), to talk to the Iranians, to talk to all other adversaries because without dialogue we are not moving forward," ElBaradei said on Monday, at Georgetown University in Washington, after meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
"I think in all these issues, dialogue is indispensable. I think we have to move away from the idea that dialogue is a reward; dialogue is an essential tool to change behaviour," the IAEA director general said.
"Export control is not sufficient ... We really need to go and understand ... Why these countries are tempted to develop nuclear weapons," the head of the UN nuclear watchdog said.
ElBaradei acknowledged North Korea's first nuclear test on October 9 was a "setback" for the international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but called it "a cry for help" by the North Korean regime, which believes its survival is threatened.
"I don't think sanctions work as a penalty," he said, in reference to UN Security Council sanctions imposed after Pyongyang's nuclear test.
In addition, he dismissed the idea that the test would have a domino effect in the region, pressing other countries, such as Japan and South Korea, to obtain their own nuclear weapons.