N. Korea seeks U.S. concessions

(Agencies /chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2007-07-16 09:00

North Korea said Sunday it is ready to permanently disable its sole nuclear reactor it just turned off if the United States lifts economic sanctions on Pyongyang and moves it out of a list of so-called terrorism sponsors.

Kim Myong Gil, minister at the North Korea's United Nations mission in New York, said Pyongyang had shut down its only operating nuclear reactor after the arrival of promised fuel aid over the weekend.

U.S. and South Korean officials said they were confident North Korea had halted operations at the Yongbyon reactor. Officials from the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said they could not confirm the shutdown before inspection.

Kim said his government would only disclose the full extent of the country's nuclear program and disable the reactor if Washington takes actions "in parallel."

"We will discuss about the economic sanctions lifting and removing of the terrorism list. All those things should be discussed and resolved," Kim told the Associated Press.

Pyongyang said progress on disarmament would depend on "on what practical measures the U.S. and Japan, in particular, will take to roll back their hostile policies toward" North Korea. North Korea wants to establish normal relations with Washington and Tokyo.
North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and restarted its reactor in 2003 after Washington accused it of running a secret uranium enrichment program in violation of an earlier disarmament deal and halted oil deliveries.

Pyongyang is required to declare all its nuclear programs and materials but has never publicly admitted running a uranium enrichment program.

The aid and shutdown were the first steps under the Six-Party deal struck by the U.S., North and South Korea, Japan, China and Russia in February.

The oil Pyongyang received Saturday via a South Korean ship was an initial 6,200 tons of a total 50,000 tons as a reward for the shutdown. Under the February agreement, North Korea will receive a total equivalent of 1 million tons of oil for dismantling its nuclear programs and making a full declaration of its nuclear activities. The U.S. would also move toward removing the country from the list of terrorist sponsors.

The chief U.S. negotiator with North Korea said all sides now needed to move quickly in order to avoid the months of wrangling that slowed completion of the first steps.

"If we don't take these steps a little more quickly than we've taken that first step, then we're going to fall way behind again," Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said.

North Korea informed the U.S. on Saturday that the reactor at Yongbyon, about 60 miles north of the capital, had been shut down. A 10-member IAEA team arrived Saturday to make sure the reactor was switched off.

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