US envoy: Disarming North Korea by end of year 'will be a challenge'

The top US envoy to nuclear talks with North Korea has conceded that the communist nation's disarmament will be difficult to achieve this year, clouding the future of the process given the looming change in the White House. "Completing everything by the end of the year will be a challenge and we need to see if it's going to be possible," US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said Wednesday after two days of meetings with North Korean nuclear envoy Kim Kye Gwan in Beijing. The nuclear talks with North Korea that began in 2003 have been fraught with repeated setbacks and delays. The North has stopped making plutonium and began disabling its nuclear facilities so they cannot be quickly restarted, but still has a stockpile of radioactive material that experts believe is enough to make about a half-dozen bombs.