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North Korean Nuclear Envoys Softened Weapons Stance

North Korea will eventually recieve one million tonnes of fuel oil if it permanently disables its Yongbyon reactor.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Feb 26, 2007
Diplomats who reached a breakthrough agreement with North Korea earlier this month backed down on demanding Pyongyang give up nuclear weapons immediately, a Japanese press report said Monday. A first draft at the six-nation talks in Beijing had called on North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons and the facilities which produce them as "initial" steps in return for fuel aid, Kyodo News reported.

But after North Korea rejected the draft, the United States agreed to put the onus on the communist state shutting down its main nuclear reactor, the Japanese agency said, quoting unnamed "negotiation sources."

Under the deal, energy-starved North Korea -- one of the most impoverished regimes in the world -- stands to receive an eventual one million tonnes of fuel oil if it permanently disables its Yongbyon reactor.

The agreement has been unpopular in Japan and among some US conservatives who wanted more forceful action on the nuclear arsenal of North Korea, which tested an atom bomb in October for the first time.

The lengthy negotiations two weeks ago showed that the focus of the six-way talks "has apparently shifted from denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula to nonproliferation of nuclear materials," Kyodo News said.

Its report said Japan pressed for a tougher stance but had limited influence due to its own tense relations with North Korea.

The final agreement referred to nuclear weapons by reiterating a commitment to a September 2005 statement, under which North Korea agreed in general terms to give up its nuclear arsenal in return for aid and security guarantees.

The latest round also set up five working groups including one on the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.

The six-way talks include China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States.

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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Japan Urges North Korea To Come Clean On Uranium
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.







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