Monday, August 08, 2005

N. Korea insisting on nuclear power right

Lexington Herald-Leader | 08/08/2005 | N. Korea insisting on nuclear power right

Posted on Mon, Aug. 08, 2005

N. Korea insisting on nuclear power right
By Edward Cody

BEIJING - North Korea's unexpected insistence that it still has the right to build light-water reactors to generate electricity became the main deal-breaker during 13 days of sometimes acrimonious and ultimately unsuccessful discussions on eliminating nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, the chief U.S. negotiator said yesterday.

The goal during a three-week recess called by China will be to encourage senior North Korean leaders to make a strategic decision to forgo and dismantle all nuclear capacity in return for recognition and economic aid, said the diplomat, Christopher Hill, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

"One gets the impression there are some people back in Pyongyang who still have not dragged themselves over the line to be ready to give this up," Hill told reporters as he prepared to return to Washington empty-handed.

Despite the prolonged negotiations, the six nations represented in Beijing failed to reach agreement on a set of principles that would serve as the basis for more detailed talks. But they resolved to return for more negotiations the week of Aug. 29, after what Chinese officials described as a period during which diplomats can touch bases with their governments.

"This is the consensus of the six parties," said the chief Chinese negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, in announcing the three-week break in negotiations. China is the host and sponsor of the talks, which began in August 2003 and include the United States, North Korea, South Korea, Japan and Russia, as well as China.

Wu voiced determination to press on, and expressed hope that an agreement will eventually be reached despite the disappointment in this round.

The chief North Korean delegate, Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan, insisted that as part of any agreement, his country retain the right to operate nuclear reactors for electricity production.


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