US rejects N. Korea's demand for aid

Nuclear talks fail; Pyongyang refuses to disarm without compensation.

n. korea nuke plant 88 (photo credit: )
n. korea nuke plant 88
(photo credit: )
The United States rejected North Korea's demand for aid in exchange for suspending nuclear development during disarmament talks this week, the US envoy said as negotiations ended Friday with no word of progress or a firm date to meet again. The North's negotiating partners also agreed that its demand to be given a civilian nuclear reactor shouldn't be discussed until it has dismantled its atomic programs, said US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill. "We're not prepared to make a separate agreement for them to freeze programs," Hill told reporters. "We don't want to get into a situation where they stop the programs, in short, freeze the programs, and then expect us to compensate them for a freeze." The talks ended amid rancor, with the United States pressing the North to stop work at a plutonium-producing reactor and the North demanding that Washington lift sanctions imposed on eight North Korean companies accused of weapons proliferation. "These kind of sanctions are in violation of the joint statement we have adopted and are going to hinder the implementation of the commitment we have made," said the North Korean envoy, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan. The other participants are China, South Korea, Japan and Russia. This week's round of talks, the fifth in a series, began Wednesday and had been scheduled to recess after three days to let diplomats attend an Asian-Pacific economic conference in South Korea. A released statement said diplomats agreed to meet again at the earliest possible date. But the South Korean envoy, Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min-soon, warned that might not be until next year due to scheduling conflicts in December with a regional Asian meeting and the Christmas holiday. "There was an assessment that it will be a little bit difficult to hold tangible meetings," Song said. Pyongyang refuses to disarm completely without receiving compensation along the way. But the United States says it won't reward the North until the programs are completely and irreversibly dismantled. Song appeared to support the North's demand to be compensated for interim steps, saying the suspension of work at its reactor should be followed by a "corresponding step." He didn't elaborate. Hill said the other five governments agreed they shouldn't discuss North Korea's demand for the civilian light-water reactor for power generation until after its nuclear programs are dismantled.