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NKorea Threatens To Boycott Six Way Nuclear Talks Over US Sanctions

Seoul (AFP) Dec 06, 2005
North Korea on Tuesday threatened to boycott six-way nuclear disarmament talks unless the United States lifted financial sanctions imposed on the impoverished Stalinist state.

Rodong Sinmun, the North's communist party newspaper, which serves as Pyongyang's official mouthpiece, accused Washington of shunning negotiations on the sanctions issue to disrupt the six-way talks.

"It is impossible to resume the six-party talks under such provocative sanctions applied by the US upon the DPRK (North Korea)," Rodong said in a commentary carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

Rodong said the United States must "take practical measures to lift the financial sanctions against DPRK" to get the nuclear talks going.

The row over US sanctions imposed on North Korea over alleged money laundering and counterfeiting has emerged as a fresh stumbling block to the six-nation talks, which also include South Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

After more than two years of negotiations, North Korea finally agreed in September to dismantle its nuclear weapons program in return for economic and diplomatic benefits.

But the latest round of talks ended in stalemate three weeks ago with Pyongyang accusing Washington of breaching the September agreement by imposing sanctions on its firms.

In October, the United States blacklisted eight North Korean companies allegedly involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

In September, the US Treasury Department blacklisted a bank in Macau which it accused of being a willing front for North Korean counterfeiting.

At the latest round of six-way nuclear talks that ended in Beijing on November 11, North Korea's top negotiator Kim Kye-Gwan said the United States had agreed to hold bilateral negotiations on the sanctions issue.

But US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Friday that US officials had offered a briefing, not negotiations, on the financial sanctions.

"As part of this offer of a briefing, the United States never offered to engage in negotiations with North Korea on this matter," McCormack said.

North Korea last week cancelled a plan to send a delegation led by Pyongyang's chief nuclear negotiator Kim Kye-Gwan to New York this week for talks on the sanctions issue, according to Yonhap news agency.

Instead, Pyongyang stepped up its anti-US rhetoric and launched a campaign to have US financial sanctions against the Stalinist state lifted.

The North's foreign ministry spokesman said Saturday the lifting of sanctions would be "a prerequisite to the progress in six-way talks" to end its nuclear weapons drive.

The United States has opposed linking the sanctions issue to the six-nation talks and South Korea, which is pushing for a new round of nuclear negotiations in January, also insisted the issues were separate.

"Other issues, including the financial sanctions issue, must be settled bilaterally, not in the framework of six-way talks," South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-Young told officials Tuesday.

South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon said Sunday on a visit to Slovenia that the sanctions issue should not be an obstacle to the six-way talks.

However, Deputy Foreign Minister Song Min-Soon, Seoul's top nuclear envoy, said Monday the two issues were "indirectly affecting" each other and called for an early settlement of the sanctions issue.

The six-nation negotiations process began in August 2003 almost a year after the nuclear standoff ignited when the United States accused North Korea of running a secret uranium-enrichment program.

The North responded by throwing out UN International Atomic Energy Agency weapons inspectors and abandoning the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Pakistan's Jekyll And Hyde
Washington (UPI) Dec 06, 2005
The International Atomic Energy Agency thought it might have better luck than the United States in its quest to interview Dr. A.Q. Khan, the revered father of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, and history's most flagrant nuclear proliferator.

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