US official: North Korea will submit nuclear accounting very soon

The Bush administration is making the last preparations for what it hopes will be a fresh start in troubled disarmament talks with North Korea, with an official saying that Kim Jong Il's government is ready to provide overdue details about its nuclear past. The reclusive regime is extremely close to producing a promised technical accounting of its shuttered nuclear program, a senior US official said Friday. The documentation has emerged as a major marker of progress, or the lack of it, in talks with the North. Skeptics say the accounting is nearly six months late and may be a fraud if it ever comes. No date is agreed yet, but the paperwork is expected within a month. That would clear the way for a high-stakes meeting as soon as the end of June between the top US and North Korean diplomats, along with those of China, Japan, Russia and South Korea, the other four nations involved in a deal to put North Korea out of the nuclear weapons business.