North Korea says prospects for nuclear talks hinge on U.S. implementation of six-party accord

North Korea said Thursday that progress in the next round of international talks on its nuclear weapons program will depend on U.S. implementation of an accord reached in the previous round of negotiations.

North Korea agreed at the last round of talks in September to abandon its nuclear programs in exchange for economic aid, security assurances and diplomatic recognition. But the next day it insisted it wouldn't disarm unless the United States provides it first with a civilian nuclear reactor for power generation, which Washington has rejected.

In a recent letter sent to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, North Korean U.N. Ambassador Pak Gil Yon accused the United States of wielding a nuclear threat against his country and demanded it be given a light-water reactor, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

Pak reaffirmed in the letter that his country was still committed to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula but said denuclearization could not be achieved by North Korea's unilateral abandonment of its nuclear weapons.

He accused the United States of renewing its demand for a complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of the North's nuclear weapons and pressuring the North over "nonexistent" issues of humans rights abuses and illegal transactions, claiming that the nuclear accord spelled out the principle of simultaneous actions by both sides in realizing the denuclearization.

The North also criticized a U.S. decision in October to prohibit transactions between U.S. citizens and North Korean companies suspected of involvement in weapons proliferation. Washington also froze assets of those companies under U.S. jurisdiction.

"These moves run counter to the spirit of the joint statement (at the end of the last round of talks) and compel us to question U.S. willingness to implement it," Pak wrote in the letter, dated Oct. 28, according to KCNA.

The nuclear talks are expected to resume next week in Beijing, bringing together China, Japan, Russia, the United States and the two Koreas, AP reported. V.A.

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