N Korea talks inch toward accord

The latest round expects N Korea to declare all nuclear programmes it has developed.

    Chief envoys from China, the Koreas, the US, Japan and Russia are attending the talks [AFP]

    "We have agreed, to a significant degree, on how to declare and disable [the facilities] ... We are narrowing differences to a significant degree, but have not reached complete agreement yet."
    The chief envoys from the six nations - China, the two Koreas, the United States, Japan and Russia - are scheduled to wrap up four days of talks on Sunday.
    An official who attended the day's discussions said that progress was being made on working out exactly what North Korea needed to dismantle.
    "There are altogether three North Korean nuclear facilities subject to disablement. They include a five-megawatt reactor and two other fuel facilities in Yongbyon," he said, referring to the nation's key nuclear site.
    "If the US is genuinely intent on changing over its hostile policy toward the DPRK, it must take action including institutional and legal changes."

    Chosun Sinbo, pro-North Korean newspaper

    "We excluded two half-built reactors from the list because there is no point of disabling them."
    Earlier in the day, Christopher Hill, the US envoy, said talks addressed ways of disablement that were thorough enough to ensure North Korea would need several months to restore its capacity in the field, if it ever chose to do so.
    White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said on Friday that Bush had given the go-ahead for $25 million worth of fuel aid for 50,000 metric tonnes of heavy fuel oil.

    The aid was in response to North Korea's progress on reporting and disabling its nuclear facilities as required in a February agreement aimed at halting Pyongyang's drive for nuclear weapons..

    But even as the energy shipment was being announced the pro-North Korean Chosun Sinbo newspaper, published in Tokyo, suggested another bone of contention in its Internet edition on Saturday.

    It said Washington must stick to its side of the February deal by removing the designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism and cancelling sanctions applied under the US Trading with the Enemy Act.

    "The success or failure of the six-party talks depends on whether the US side gives the DPRK [North Korea] a trustworthy and  firm guarantee concerning action plans for ending its hostile policy," the newspaper said.

    "If the US is genuinely intent on changing over its hostile policy toward the DPRK, it must take action including institutional and legal changes."

    North Korea had signalled ahead of this week's session that it was willing to continue pushing ahead with the landmark disarmament deal brokered in February in the six-nation forum.

    Full declaration

    Hill said he was hoping to wrap up the
    talks a day ahead of schedule [AFP]

    That deal saw North Korea agree to abandon the nuclear weapons programmes it has spent decades developing in return for one million tonnes of fuel oil or equivalent aid, as well as diplomatic and security concessions.

    In July, North Korea shut down its main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon and four other related facilities.

    In return it received the first deliveries of fuel oil and began diplomatic fence-building talks with rivals the United States and Japan.

    The next phase currently under discussion would see North Korea give a full declaration of all the nuclear programmes it has developed.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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