U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned that North Korea should not bring any new demands to international disarmament talks and said the communist nation's claim to a nuclear power reactor "remains an abstraction."
North Korea agreed last month to abandon its nuclear weapons program and dismantle weapons, but details of the deal are still unclear. North Korea appeared to back away from some pledges in the days after the deal was signed.
The next talks, which involve China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States, are scheduled for November, but no date has been set.
"I assume they are going to come back. If they come back it's without preconditions, because that's the only basis on which the talks will be restarted," Rice told reporters Monday en route to a brief diplomatic visit to Canada.
One sticking point is Pyongyang's demand that in exchange for giving up its nuclear program it be provided with a light-water nuclear reactor to meet its dire energy needs. Light-water reactors are believed to be less easily diverted for weapons use.
The United States, however, says this issue should be tackled only after Pyongyang has verifiably dismantled its weapons efforts.
"The light water reactor issue continues to be an abstraction," Rice said.
Last week, former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson said North Korea is committed to unconditionally resuming talks on its atomic weapons program and returning to the international nuclear nonproliferation pact.
Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, was in Pyongyang at the invitation of the government. He said the North had also pledged to allow outside oversight of its disarmament, AP reported. V.A.