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Japan Urges North Korea To Come Clean On Uranium

US accusations in 2002 that the North was running a secret uranium programme, in addition to its declared plutonium-based nuclear operation, led to the collapse of a 1994 denuclearisation deal. Pyongyang denies any such programme. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Feb 26, 2007
Japan urged North Korea Monday to come clean on its suspected secret atomic programme based on enriched uranium after reaching a breakthrough nuclear deal at six-nation talks. The February 13 agreement, which initially binds North Korea to shut key nuclear facilities in exchange for energy aid, requires Pyongyang to produce a list of all nuclear programmes.

Asked if the suspected highly enriched uranium programme will be addressed in the next round of talks, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki said, "It is a matter of course to include it."

"We hope they come forth to have in-depth talks," said Shiozaki, the top government spokesman said.

Japan has tense relations with North Korea and has refused to fund the six-way deal.

The agreement, reached in Beijing by the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States, did not clearly mention highly enriched uranium, an omission seen by critics as a crucial flaw.

The communist state agreed to shut down and then disable its nuclear facilities in phases. In return it will receive up to one million tons of heavy fuel oil or equivalent economic aid.

US accusations in 2002 that the North was running a secret uranium programme, in addition to its declared plutonium-based nuclear operation, led to the collapse of a 1994 denuclearisation deal. Pyongyang denies any such programme.

Chun Young-woo, South Korea's envoy to the six-nation talks, said Friday that North Korea has been trying to procure material for its highly enriched uranium programme but that it was not yet thought to be operating.

earlier related report
South Korean Oil Headed North After Deal
Seoul (AFP) Feb 26 - South Korea said Monday it is preparing to send oil shipments worth 20 million dollars to North Korea -- the first reward for the energy-starved state if it shuts down nuclear plants as agreed.

"The government has started preparing to supply North Korea with 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil in accordance with the latest deal reached at six-party talks," said a unification ministry spokesman, Kang Jong-Seok.

As a first step under the February 13 agreement, the North agreed to shut down and seal its Yongbyon plutonium-producing reactor and reprocessing plant within 60 days and admit UN inspectors.

It will receive 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil or equivalent aid in return.

Action to permanently disable the nuclear facilities would be rewarded with up to 950,000 tons of heavy oil or other aid.

The cost of the 950,000 tons would be shared by all five countries involved in the talks with North Korea -- South Korea, the United States, Japan, China and Russia.

Japan however has said it will not contribute until the communist North accounts for Japanese nationals it abducted in the Cold War era to train its spies.

The spokesman for the unification ministry, which handles relations with the North, told AFP the oil including shipping would cost about 20 billion won (21.3 million dollars). It would be financed from a special fund for inter-Korean cooperation.

"The government procurement agency will soon select one of the domestic oil refineries for the oil supply," Kang said, stressing that the oil would not be supplied until the Yongbyon shutdown.

The announcement was the latest sign of progress on the accord. On Friday UN atomic agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said North Korea had invited him to visit for talks on its nuclear programme.

The communist state staged its first nuclear weapons test last October.

A spokeswoman for the International Atomic Energy Agency said ElBaradei would probably be going in the second week of March.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Israel To Hold Nationwide Nuclear Attack Drill
Jerusalem (AFP) Feb 26, 2007
Israel will next month stage its first-ever nationwide drill simulating a nuclear and chemical missile attack on its cities, rescue services said Monday. The exercise was initiated by the army's homefront corps in the wake of last summer's war in Lebanon and Iran's calls for the destruction of the Jewish state and its controversial nuclear programme. Israel suspects is Iran is aiming to develop an atomic bomb, but Tehran insists its programme is for civilian energy purposes.

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