Agreement on weapons founders in North Korea

North Korea dismissed a deal to give up its nuclear arms programme just one day after it was struck, with a vow to keep the weapons until Washington allows for the provision of civilian atomic reactors.

The reclusive Stalinist state has backtracked before on agreements and the deal is not yet dead. Within minutes of Monday’s agreement between North and South Korea, the US, Japan, Russia and China, experts said that the document was long on words, vague on timing, and short on action.

America “should not even dream of” Pyongyang dismantling its nuclear capability before it receives light-water reactors, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said, returning to the main stumbling block during two years of talks that had appeared to achieve a breakthrough in Beijing, China, on Monday.

The six parties to the talks had agreed to a set of principles on winding up Pyongyang’s nuclear programmes in return for aid and recognition of its right to a civilian nuclear programme. The six agreed to discuss providing a light-water reactor “at an appropriate time”, but set no date.

China, which has put pressure on North Korea and Kim Jong-il, its enigmatic leader, to make concessions, said that it expected all sides to proceed with the next round of talks in November.

Monday’s agreement had come as a surprise after the talks had become deadlocked on the reactor demand. It averted the possibility of Washington taking the matter to the UN Security Council. Pyongyang said that such a move would be tantamount to war, Times Online reports.

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