North Korean nuclear deal doesn't even last a day?
N.Korea statement puts nuclear deal in jeopardy
Mon Sep 19, 2005 9:22 PM ET15
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea will not give up its
nuclear weapons until the United States provides
civilian atomic reactors, Pyongyang said on Tuesday in
a statement that significantly undermined a deal
reached just a day earlier.
Six countries, including the North and the United
States, had agreed on Monday to a set of principles on
dismantling the Pyongyang's nuclear programs in return
for aid and recognizing its right to a civilian
Skeptics had said the deal was long on words, vague on
timing and sequencing and short on action: the North's
comments made clear just how short.
"The U.S. should not even dream of the issue of the
DPRK's dismantlement of its nuclear deterrent before
providing LWRs," said the North Korean Foreign
Ministry statement, which was published by the
official KCNA news agency.
DPRK is short for the North's official name, the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea. LWRs are
light-water reactors, which experts say are more
proliferation-resistant than other reactors.
In Washington, a U.S. State Department spokesman said
he could not immediately comment on the North Korean
South Korea's financial markets did not react sharply
to the North's statement.
The statement said Pyongyang would not need a single
nuclear weapon if relations with Washington were
normalized. The North said in February it had nuclear
"What is most essential is, therefore, for the U.S. to
provide LWRs to the DPRK as early as possible as
evidence proving the former's substantial recognition
of the latter's nuclear activity for a peaceful
purpose," it said.
South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia and
China -- the other players in the six-party talks --
expressed a willingness in Monday's agreement to
provide oil, energy aid and security guarantees in
return for the North ditching its nuclear weapons
programs. The timing was left vague.
NORTH SEES DIFFERENT TIMING
Washington and Tokyo agreed to normalize ties with the
impoverished and diplomatically isolated North, which
pledged to rejoin the nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty. Again, Tuesday's statement said that would
happen only after it got the reactors.
Official reaction before the North's statement was
cautiously upbeat, though analysts were skeptical and
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice predicted
Washington has been skeptical of any accord with
Pyongyang since accusing the communist state of
cheating on a deal to freeze its nuclear programs in
"The joint statement is the most important achievement
in the two years since the start of six-party talks,"
said Chinese chief negotiator Wu Dawei. The seven-day
session in Beijing ended with a standing ovation by
At the talks, Washington had eased its staunch
opposition to any nuclear reactor for North Korea, and
indicated it was willing to consider a light-water
reactor to produce electricity under certain stringent
The U.S. State Department said the offer of nuclear
energy hinged on Pyongyang dismantling all its nuclear
"It's a theoretical proposition in the future,
contingent on dismantlement having taken place, (North
Korea) re-signing up to the nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty and having IAEA safeguards in place," deputy
spokesman Adam Ereli told reporters, referring to the
International Atomic Energy Agency.
Pyongyang's statement made clear the North sees the
timing precisely the other way around.
The United States, backed by Japan, had argued North
Korea could not be trusted with atomic energy, but
China, South Korea and Russia said if Pyongyang
scrapped its nuclear weapons and agreed to strict
safeguards, it should have such an energy program in
Failure to reach a deal in Beijing could have prompted
Washington to go to the U.N. Security Council and seek
sanctions. North Korea had said sanctions would be
tantamount to war.
(Additional reporting by Jack Kim in Beijing and by
Reuters correspondents in Washington, Beijing and at
the United Nations)