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Monday, February 05, 2007

North Korea Seeks Oil for Nuclear Freeze

North Korea at upcoming six-nation talks is expected to demand 500,000 tons of oil and removal from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism in exchange for freezing its nuclear activities and allowing inspectors back into the country, Asahi Shimbun reported yesterday (see GSN, Feb. 2).

Lead North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Kye Gwan discussed the terms last week during a meeting in Pyongyang with former U.S. State Department official Joel Wit, according to the Associated Press.

Pyongyang is ready to shut down its Yongbyon reactor and readmit International Atomic Energy Agency officials, officials told Wit. Inspectors, though, would not have access to the reactor.

The site of North Korea’s Oct. 9 nuclear test would remain open, and would remain off-limits to inspectors. Pyongyang also would not offer details of its nuclear weapons effort, Asahi reported.

Along with the crude oil, North Korea plans to demand that Washington being moving toward eliminating its financial sanctions against the regime.

The talks are scheduled to resume Thursday (Associated Press I/NASDAQ.com, Feb. 4).

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, Washington’s lead envoy to the negotiations, today declined to address the reported offer, according to AP.

“For us, the question is that we must implement the full September agreement. The D.P.R.K. must get out of the nuclear business entirely,” he said in Tokyo.

“The purpose of the exercise is to stop the North Koreans from operating this terrible nuclear reactor, and telling us about the programs they have so we can begin to see that those programs are dismantled and abandoned,” Hill said.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said that Tokyo is not considering the oil request. “We have absolutely no plans to provide energy support for North Korea over the nuclear issue,” he said, according to Kyodo News (Associated Press II, Feb. 5).
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