N. Korea blames US for slowed denuclearization

Communist country says US and others not fulfilling their end of deal to provide promised energy aid and political concessions.

Kim Jong Il 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Kim Jong Il 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
North Korea blamed the United States for slowed progress in its denuclearization, saying it was acting in good faith and had given Washington details about atomic programs it pledged to abandon. The North also said Friday it had no choice but to slow the pace of disablement of a key nuclear reactor as the US and other countries were not fulfilling their end of a deal to provide promised energy aid and political concessions. The statement by North Korea's Foreign Ministry was its first on the nuclear issue since a year-end deadline for declaring the programs passed Monday with the US, South Korea and Japan saying Pyongyang had failed to deliver. North Korea, however, strongly suggested it had done what was required and was awaiting action from those and other members of the so-called six-party talks, which also includes China and Russia, before progress could resume. "As far as the nuclear declaration on which wrong opinion is being built up by some quarters is concerned, (North Korea) has done what it should do," the ministry said in the statement, carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency. The United States maintained Friday that North Korea had yet to provide a complete nuclear declaration, but still expressed confidence the process remained on track as Christopher Hill, the chief US negotiator in the nuclear talks, left for consultations in Asia. "They're engaging the international media, in their own way," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. "It is an important point that in none of this have any of the parties been backing away at all from their commitment to the process." The North accused the US and other parties of delays in carrying out their commitments, such as shipping energy aid and removing the North from US terrorism and trade blacklists. That had forced Pyongyang to "adjust the tempo of the disablement of some nuclear facilities on the principle of action for action," it said. The ministry statement said the promised aid shipments have "not been done even 50 per cent." North Korea last year promised to abandon its nuclear ambitions in return for the equivalent of 1 million tons of oil and political concessions, such as the possibility of normalized relations with the US and removal from the terror list. In October, it pledged to disable its nuclear facilities and issue a declaration on its atomic programs by the end of 2007.