NKorea demands US compensation

The United States should give North Korea "political and economic" compensation after the collapse of an international project to provide it with nuclear reactors, a spokesman for Pyongyang's foreign ministry said on Monday.

Last week, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), the body running the project, pulled the plug on the long-stalled deal to provide two light-water reactors (LWRs) in exchange for the communist state freezing its nuclear weapons programmes, reports said.

The beleaguered project had been suspended since 2002 when Washington accused Pyongyang of cheating on the 1994 deal, called the Agreed Framework (AF), with a clandestine plan to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.

"Now that the construction of the LWRs came to a final stop, the DPRK is compelled to blame the U.S. for having overturned the AF and demand it compensate for the political and economic losses it has caused to the former," the spokesman said in a report carried by North Korea's official KCNA news agency.

DPRK is short for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Statements by the foreign ministry spokesman are usually reserved for Pyongyang's highest level of communication with the outside world.

South Korea, which was part of KEDO, has already spent $1.1 billion on the reactor project. The relatively proliferation-resistant light-water reactors were to be of a U.S. design, while South Korea and Japan were to have paid for them.

In September, North Korea agreed at six-party talks to dismantle its nuclear weapons programmes in exchange for economic aid, security assurances and greater diplomatic recognition.

Soon after the deal between the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States was announced, Pyongyang demanded that Washington build it a light-water reactor up-front before it scraps its nuclear programmes.

Washington and others in the six-country negotiations said providing a reactor up front was not part of the deal, Reuters reports.


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