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Pyongyang Demands 500,000 Tons of Oil

Posted February. 05, 2007 03:00,   


The Asahi Shimbun, a Japanese daily, reported on February 4 that North Korea will demand more than 500,000 tons of heavy oil in return for freezing its nuclear reactor in Youngbyun in the new round of six-party talks scheduled to be held on February 8 in Beijing. According to the newspaper, Pyongyang said this to former U.S. government officials who recently paid a visit to the country.

Joel Witt, a former State Department official on North Korea, and David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a private institution, was invited to the North for five days starting January 30. The two told reporters from Asahi Shimbun about the North’s intended demand on February 3 at Sudo Airport in Beijing.

Witt said that Pyongyang wants, in exchange for freezing its nuclear reactor, an annual supply of more than 500,000 tons of heavy oil that was agreed upon in the 1994 U.S.-North Korea nuclear deal, or other energy sources equivalent to the amount. The Japanese daily further reported Pyongyang would demand the U.S. lift financial sanctions against it and take it off of the U.S. list of countries sponsoring terrorism.

Witt and Albright learned about the North’s demand in a meeting with North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Gye Gwan and Ri Gun, director of the North Korean Foreign Ministry’s North American Affairs Bureau.

The two also said Kim made it clear that the North intends to freeze nuclear facilities in Youngbyun, to allow inspection by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which it expelled in December 2002, and to restore surveillance cameras around the facilities as a “preliminary step” for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

Meanwhile, Kyodo News reported the Japanese government is expected to focus on addressing the issue of Japanese abductees by North Korean agents during the cold war era in this round of the six-party talks.

According to the daily, even if there is progress in this round, the Japanese government will refuse to supply food and energy to the North unless the abduction issue is resolved.

The February edition of the American science and technology magazine Popular Mechanics said not only Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons, but its biochemical weapons as well pose a serious threat to South Korea and U.S. forces in the South.

The magazine suspected the North is developing biochemical weapons by using anthrax and germs causing chicken pox in a private institution called the Institute for Veterinary Prevention.

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