Wednesday, August 03, 2005

US Reasserts Opposition to North Korea Civilian Nuclear Programme

RedNova News - Science - US Reasserts Opposition to North Korea Civilian Nuclear Programme

Text of report in English by South Korean news agency Yonhap

Washington, 1 August: The State Department reasserted Monday [1 August] that the United States opposes North Korea having civilian nuclear power as well as nuclear weapons.

"Our position hasn't changed on that," department spokesman Tom Casey told a daily briefing.

He was responding to a press report from Moscow that quoted a Russian official who said his government could build a nuclear power plant in North Korea to partially solve the communist ally's energy shortage.

The official of Rosatom, the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy, had told ITAR-TASS that the construction would be "quite possible" if it was commercially profitable for Moscow and if North Korea returns to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The comments come as six nations - South and North Korea, the US, Russia, China and Japan - are meeting in Beijing to address Pyongyang's nuclear weapons programme.

The former Soviet Union and its nuclear scientists are believed to have provided some of the key technology to North Korea, which the intelligence community believes owns as many as half a dozen nuclear bombs.

Soviet specialists did preparatory work in the 1970s and 1980s to choose a construction site in North Korea for a nuclear power plant. The work was later suspended, and there has been no contact about the project for more than 15 years, ITAR-TASS said.

The US is adamantly against North Korea having any kind of nuclear capabilities that could be used for military purposes, including those claimed to be civilian-based.

That stance was most recently reiterated by Christopher Hill, chief US delegate to the six-nation talks under way in Beijing.

"I think he was very clear and we are very clear that we do not think that North Korea should retain a civilian nuclear capability," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said at a daily briefing on Friday.

"What does that mean? No nuclear weapons, no nuclear weapons programmes in the Korean Peninsula, no nuclear programmes that could conceivably be nuclear weapons programmes," McCormack said.


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