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Pyongyang Says, “Light-Water Reactor First, Return to NPT Later”

Pyongyang Says, “Light-Water Reactor First, Return to NPT Later”

Posted September. 21, 2005 07:22,   


Despite the agreement on a set of principles in the six-party talks between Pyongyang and Washington, the timing for the North’s dismantling of its nuclear program and provision of a light-water reactor are expected to emerge as the biggest agenda of the follow-up six-party talks.

The spokesperson for the DPRK Foreign Ministry said during the conversation on September 20, “Once the U.S. provides a light-water reactor as a symbol of confidence, we will immediately return to Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), conclude and conform to IAEA safeguards,” indicating its stance of “light-water reactor first, return to NPT later.”

U.S. State Secretary Condoleezza Rice, however, told reporters at a press conference at the U.N. headquarters in New York on September 19 (local time), “Pyongyang’s peaceful use of nuclear programs is a non-existent and distant future. Many other countries have also made it clear that the issue of a light-water reactor was to be dealt in this order.”

Earlier on, Christopher Hill, the top U.S. negotiator and Assistant Secretary of State-designate for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, also said directly after the talks’ closing, “The ‘appropriate time’ to discuss the light-water reactor is when the North returns to NPT and complies with IAEA safeguards.”

“If seen from a broader standpoint of resolving the inter-Korean issues, we will find the solution and the vision for the North’s nuclear standoff. We must draw up a comprehensive plan to help North Korea develop its economy,” said President Roh Moo-hyun while presiding over a Cabinet meeting at Cheong Wa Dae.

Regarding the controversy over the timing of providing a light-water reactor, President Roh stressed, “The U.S. and North Korea will struggle over the ‘appropriate time,’ but it must be the South Korean government’s role to mediate appropriately between the two.”

Jong-Koo Yoon Yeon-Wook Jung jkmas@donga.com jyw11@donga.com