BEIJING – North Korea insisted Thursday during six-nation disarmament talks that it retain the right to “peaceful nuclear activities” – a demand the United States opposes because of suspicions the North could use those programs to make weapons.
Delegates vowed to press ahead with the talks, but the Chinese hosts for the first time raised the prospect they could end without an agreement. The talks continue today.
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan said after 10 days of talks that delegates were “at a stalemate” in work on a statement of principles to guide negotiations aimed at persuading Pyongyang to give up its nuclear programs.
“We are for denuclearizing, but we also want to possess the right to peaceful nuclear activities,” Kim said in a rare public comment. “As you know, only one country is opposing that,” he said, referring to the United States.
Earlier Thursday, the top U.S. envoy, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, said North Korea must specify exactly what it would dismantle under the nuclear agreement. He has said an accord must include the elimination of any programs that could be diverted for weapons use.
“We cannot have a situation where (North Korea) pretends to abandon their nuclear program and we pretend to believe them,” Hill said. “We need to have a situation where we know precisely what they have agreed to do, exactly what they have agreed to abandon.”