North Korea on Wednesday accused the UN atomic agency of aggravating a dispute over its nuclear programme by siding with the United States. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “aggravated the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula pursuant to the US hostile policy towards the DPRK (North Korea),” the North’s foreign ministry said. “This deprived the IAEA of the qualifications to intervene in (North Korea’s) nuclear activities,” it said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. IAEA last week called the North’s nuclear programme a “serious concern”, pointing to significant progress in recent months in building a new light-water reactor. The North says the reactor is necessary to meet its energy needs. The ministry also questioned IAEA’s role in resolving a dispute over the North’s nuclear programme. “The DPRK, which legitimately accessed nukes to cope with the US persistent hostile policy, has its own standard on which IAEA’s function is not workable as the function mainly deals with non nuclear states,” it said. The ministry said the IAEA had not voiced concerns over any other nuclear states, indicating its attitude towards Pyongyang. The North has been developing nuclear weapons for decades. Its official position has been that it needs them for self-defence against a US nuclear threat. Pyongyang disclosed in November 2010 an apparently operational uranium enrichment plant, in addition to its plutonium stockpile.