Sun, Jul 22, 2007 - Page 5 News List

N Korea wants reward of light-water reactors

PAY-UP TIME Washington insists that Pyongyang rejoin the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty first before six-nation arms talks on providing it with power reactors can start


North Korea's nuclear envoy demanded yesterday that his country be given power-generating reactors as a reward for eventually dismantling its atomic programs, presenting a future hurdle at talks aimed at ridding Pyongyang of its ability to make bombs.

"In order to ultimately dismantle [the nuclear programs], light-water reactors should be given" to the North, Kim Kye-gwan told reporters before leaving Beijing, referring to a type of nuclear reactor that cannot be easily used to make radioactive materials for weapons.

Six-nation talks on the North's nuclear weapons programs ended on Friday without setting any target date to disable Pyongyang's nuclear facilities -- before their eventual dismantlement -- following the shutdown of its sole operating reactor a week ago.

The North had been promised two light-water reactors for power under a 1994 disarmament deal with the US. But that agreement fell apart in 2002 when Washington accused Pyongyang of embarking on a secret uranium enrichment program.

The US and the other countries in the arms talks -- China, Japan, Russia and South Korea -- have agreed to discuss providing the North with light-water reactors at an appropriate time. Washington has insisted discussions on the reactors would only take place after Pyongyang has rejoined the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty that it quit in early 2003.

The North's Kim still praised the outcome of latest arms talks, but said time had not been sufficient to set a new deadline for the next step in Pyongyang's disarmament -- declaring its nuclear programs and disabling the facilities. Instead, working groups will meet by the end of next month to discuss technical details before top envoys convene in early September to agree on a roadmap.

"In order to set a deadline, we have to clearly define the obligations of each side and sequence corresponding actions," Kim said. "Time was not enough and preparations were not enough this time."

"The talks went well, the discussions went well and I think the outcome is good," he said, adding that the North pledged to "sincerely implement" previous agreements from the negotiations.

"We will make the contributions we can make" at future talks, Kim said.

The US also has said it was satisfied with this week's session, and that it still hoped to meet a goal of disabling the North's nuclear facilities by the end of the year.

However, the longtime North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim leveled harsh words at Japan, which has refused to contribute aid for the North's disarmament until it addresses abductions of Japanese citizens -- an issue Pyongyang has claimed it has already resolved.

"Japan is creating a crisis of infringing upon our national sovereignty," said Kim, who met with his Japanese counterpart Kenichiro Sasae in a one-on-one session amid the latest arms talks.

"If Japan takes one more step further, I warned that will be a disaster," Kim said.

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