North Korea Sticks to Demand for Civilian Nuclear Program
North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan told the Associated Press, ”We are for denuclearizing, but we also want to possess the right to peaceful nuclear activities.”
“Every country in the world has the right to peaceful nuclear activities.”
The United States, however, disagrees. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the chief U.S. envoy, said North Korea must agree to eliminate any nuclear programs that could be converted to produce weapons.
“We cannot have a situation where (North Korea) pretends to abandon their nuclear program and we pretend to believe them,” Hill said, according to the AP.
“We need to have a situation where we know precisely what they have agreed to do, exactly what they have agreed to abandon.”
Diplomats from South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia and host nation China hope to break the impasse when they meet on Friday, the 11th day of negotiations.
After North Korea declined to sign an agreement to disarm, Chinese diplomats convened an unusual nighttime conference with all six top delegates to determine whether the current round of talks should continue.
Hill said every nation agreed to remain at the bargaining table in the hope of reaching the consensus that has eluded them in the past. Since 2003, envoys from the six nations have convened in Beijing three times without arriving at an agreement.
“We all felt duty-bound to continue, because I think there is a feeling that we have taken this further than we ever have in the past,” he said. “We’d like to see if we can get to an agreement, and we’re not there yet. No one is quite ready to say we can’t get there.”
According to reports, that decision belongs to North Korea, which has summarily rejected several Chinese-brokered proposals. In addition to its right to maintain “peaceful nuclear activities,” Pyongyang wants energy aid, security guarantees and diplomatic recognition.