North Korea accused US of tough talk

North Korea said Wednesday it would give up its nuclear weapons only after the alleged U.S. atomic threat is removed from the divided peninsula and relations with the United States are normalized, according to a South Korean report.

The North also demanded the United States abandon plans to topple its communist regime and instead establish mechanisms for peaceful coexistence, according to a report from Yonhap news agency, citing a source close to the talks.

Both Washington and Seoul deny there are any U.S. nuclear weapons in the South, and South Korea earlier raised the possibility of opening South Korean and U.S. bases for some form of verification of that fact by the North.

North Korea also said Wednesday it was hard to accept a U.S. proposal made at the last round of arms talks in June 2004, calling it unreasonable and lacking in details about ending the U.S. nuclear threat and for peaceful coexistence of the countries.

Under that plan, Washington was to give the North three months to freeze its programs and prepare for disarmament, reports Fox News.

Meanwhile, a high-ranking North Korean government official expressed dissatisfaction with what he called "changes in the U.S. position." In negotiations prior to the six-party talks, South Korea, the U.S. and Japan provisionally agreed a more progressive draft proposal, which Seoul feels the U.S. has now reneged on. The official said the draft agreement worked out between the three chief negotiators in Seoul on July 14 lost its luster when U.S. delegation head Christopher Hill fine-tuned it with officials back in Washington.

The official cited two examples. The first was that in a bilateral meeting on Monday, the U.S. side demanded human rights should become part of the agreement after all. The other was that the three had come up with a proposal including security guarantees and the lifting of sanctions that the North could accept, but once in Beijing, the U.S. added a host of conditions and preconditions that made it virtually unacceptable to Pyongyang. However, these have not been disclosed, informs Chosunilbo.

The dispute began in October 2002, after North Korea said it had restarted its nuclear program, violating a 1994 agreement with the U.S. Later that year, the U.S. and its allies stopped shipments of fuel oil to the communist nation, and in response North Korea expelled United Nations nuclear inspectors and withdrew from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Bloomberg informs.

The talks - they include South Korea, Japan, Russia and China - are the first since June 2004 and are aimed at producing enough progress to justify the process, a U.S. official said. To make that possible, he said, diplomats plan to stay in Beijing for as long as necessary, Bloomberg reminds.

More on six-party talks with North Korea


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