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NKorea To Attend November Nuclear Talks

AFP file photo of the members of the recent six party talks in Beijing.

Seoul (AFP) Oct 24, 2005
North Korea will attend the November round of six-party talks on its nuclear program, a government official said Monday, offering hope of further progress in the long-running dispute.

A foreign ministry spokesman reiterated North Korea's commitment to ridding the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons and said it would attend the talks at a date to be agreed.

"It is our consistent and invariable stand to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through dialogue," the unnamed spokesman said, as quoted by the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency.

"We will, therefore, go to the fifth six-party talks at the date to be agreed upon early in November as the six parties had committed themselves to do so."

A South Korean official said earlier that the fifth round of talks, involving the two Koreas, China, the United States, Japan and Russia, will take place in the second week of November.

"The fifth round of six-party talks, which will be held in early November, probably in the second week, will focus on how to implement the joint statement," South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-Young said.

At the last round in Beijing in September, North Korea agreed to a statement of principles under which it would give up its nuclear weapons in return for energy and security guarantees.

But shortly after agreeing to the statement, Pyongyang said it would not dismantle its nuclear arsenal before the United States supplies it with a light-water atomic reactor to generate electricity.

The United States says communist Pyongyang, a self-avowed nuclear power, must first disarm before getting incentive bonuses, including the nuclear reactor.

The North's foreign ministry spokesman said the decision to attend next month's talks "reflects our sincere stand to respect and faithfully abide by the principles agreed upon in the Beijing Joint Statement."

But he renewed North Korean criticism of Washington, Pyongyang's major foe since the Korean War, and said he doubted the US would abide by the joint statement.

"The United States ... has been careless in its words and deeds quite contrary to the spirit of the statement in a little over one month since the publication of the statement. This makes us doubt the US will implement the statement," the foreign ministry spokesman said.

The nuclear crisis flared up in October 2002 after the United States accused North Korea of running a secret uranium-enrichment program.

North Korea denied the claims, but expelled United Nations nuclear inspectors and withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. In February this year, Pyongyang said it had built nuclear weapons.

Monday's announcement came as the United States reportedly urged nations to deny overflight rights to aircraft from North Korea, claiming they could be carrying weapons technology.

The New York Times said Washington is also stepping up efforts to place radiation detectors at land crossings and at airports throughout Central Asia.

The devices are intended to monitor the North Koreans and the risk that nuclear weapons material could be removed from facilities in the former Soviet states, the Times said, citing two senior US administration officials.

The new campaign was speeded up after a previously undisclosed incident in June when American satellites tracked an Iranian cargo plane landing in North Korea, according to The Times.

The two countries have a history of missile trade -- Iran's Shahab missile is a derivative of a North Korean design -- and intelligence officials initially suspected the plane was picking up missile parts.

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Marshall Islands Seeks Pacific Support For Nuclear Compensation
Port Moresby (AFP) Oct 24, 2005
The Marshall Islands said Monday it is receiving support from neighbouring Pacific countries in its bid to win compensation from the United States for the continuing effects of nuclear testing carried out half a century ago.

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