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Official Says North Korea Won't Give Up Nuclear Weapons

North Korean nuclear facility, Yongbyon. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Nov 22, 2006
North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons even though it has agreed to return to six-nation talks on scrapping its atomic programme, a senior North Korean diplomat was quoted Wednesday as saying. "The (six-party) talks will begin soon ... how can we abandon our nuclear weapons? Do you mean that we conducted a nuclear test to give them up?" First Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-Ju was quoted by South Korea's Yonhap news agency as saying.

It said Kang was speaking to reporters at Beijing international airport while passing through the Chinese capital from Russia. It was not clear from the quoted comments whether he was ruling out giving up nuclear weapons whatever the outcome of the talks.

Kang also said the US should lift its financial sanctions against the North.

The communist state staged its first nuclear test on October 9, sparking international condemnation and United Nations sanctions

In a surprise move it agreed on October 31 to end a year-long boycott and return to the talks grouping it with South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia.

No date has been set for the next round but it is expected to be held next month.

At the talks in September last year, the country agreed to abandon its nuclear programme in exchange for security guarantees and economic aid. But it boycotted the talks two months later in response to US financial curbs over its alleged counterfeiting and money-laundering.

The North said it had agreed to return to the talks on condition the issue of the financial restrictions was discussed and settled.

Kang was also quoted as saying he had no plans to meet Chinese officials and would fly home later in the day.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Britain To Unveil Plans To Replace Nuclear Missile System
London (AFP) Nov 22, 2006
Britain is to publish proposals by the end of the year on how to replace its ageing nuclear deterrent Trident missiles, Prime Minister Tony Blair told lawmakers Monday. Blair confirmed a question from the leader of the smaller opposition Liberal Democrats Menzies Campbell that the government's position on whether to maintain the Trident missile system would be set out by the turn of the year. He also said he was "sure" lawmakers would get a chance to vote on the issue.







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