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US and North Korea clash at nuclear talks
Updated: 2005-09-16 07:30


Failure to reach an accord at the Beijing talks could prompt Washington to take the issue to the U.N. Security Council and press for sanctions. China opposes such a move, and North Korea has said sanctions would be tantamount to war.

The United States, which once branded North Korea as part of an "axis of evil" along with Iran and Saddam Hussein's Iraq, says Pyongyang must end all nuclear programs verifiably and irreversibly.

It says the North can then expect aid and security guarantees, but Pyongyang wants the aid and guarantees first.

Washington has urged North Korea to focus on a draft joint statement that sets out the principle of a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and contains a South Korean offer to supply the North with electricity roughly equivalent to Pyongyang's total output.

"We have a pretty good deal on the table," said Hill.

The latest talks resumed on Tuesday, five weeks after a marathon 13-day session at which the six countries failed to reach agreement even on a statement of basic principles. Negotiations first began in 2003.

The stand-off began in October 2002 when Washington said Pyongyang had admitted to a secret program to enrich uranium, used to make nuclear weapons, in violation of a 1994 agreement.

North Korea denied the charge at the time, and responded by throwing out U.N. weapons inspectors at the end of 2002 and withdrawing from the Non-Proliferation Treaty in January 2003.

Last February, the North said it had nuclear bombs.

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