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Three-Point Plan Put Forward To Resolve North Korean Nuclear Dispute

AFP file photo of South Korea's chief delegate Song Min-soon talking, with his counterpart Kim Kye Gwan.

Beijing (AFP) Nov 09, 2005
A three-point plan to resolve the North Korean nuclear dispute was put forward on the opening day of a new round of six party-talks Wednesday, but Pyongyang offered no indication of whether it would agree.

The talks are aimed at implementing a September pact in which North Korea agreed to scrap its nuclear programs in exchange for energy and other aid, but progress has stalled over sharp differences about who does what first.

"The talks proceeded in a calm manner," South Korea's chief delegate Song Min-soon told journalists after the first plenary session of the talks, which involve the two Koreas, the United States, China, Russia and Japan.

"We proposed to put the implementation plan into three categories -- the dismantling of North Korea's nuclear program, the economic cooperation and energy aid for North Korea and the normalization of relations between the countries concerned."

Japan and the United States issued similar "road maps" on day one of the talks. The two nations further said the talks should be broken down into working-level groups to discuss the three categories.

It was unclear if North Korea would accept the proposals.

"North Korea did not single out the issues one-by-one but came up with a rudimentary opinion about the issue of a light water nuclear reactor and the process of dismantling the nuclear program," Song said.

"At today's talks, there were no such expressions as supplying the light water reactor first or dismantling the nuclear program first," Song said.

North Korea insisted immediately after the September accord that it would not disarm unless the United States first supplied it with a light-water nuclear reactor to generate electricity.

Chief US delegate Christopher Hill maintained his nation's policy Wednesday that the North must first rejoin the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treatyand accept inspections by the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"It is very clear in the agreement what they need to do," Hill said at the start of talks.

"First, they have got to disarm (and) create a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

"Once they are back in the NPT, with IAEA safeguards, at an appropriate time we will have discussions about the subject of the provision of a light-water nuclear reactor."

The full session lasted for two hours on Wednesday morning, with the delegations breaking off into bilateral talks in the afternoon.

In what could prove to be a crucial meeting, the US side held talks with the North Korean delegation on Wednesday, while South Korea met China.

Chinese delegation chief Wu Dawei urged all parties at the opening of the talks to work towards a phased implementation of the September agreement.

"This result has not come easily and therefore all the parties should highly cherish and seriously treat it," Wu said.

"The central task of this fifth round of the six-party talks... is to formulate the detailed rules, methods and steps to implement the joint statement under the principle of commitment for commitment and action for action."

North Korea has said little about its intentions but adopted a typically angry stance on the eve of the meeting by claiming Bush had slandered its leader Kim Jong-Il this week as a "tyrant."

"What he uttered is a blatant violation of the spirit of the joint statement of the six-party talks which calls for 'respect for sovereignty' and 'peaceful co-existence,'" a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said.

The nuclear crisis flared in October 2002 after the United States accused North Korea of running a secret uranium-enrichment program. The North responded by throwing out weapons inspectors and leaving the NPT.

On day two of the talks Thursday, a plenary session is scheduled to begin at 10:00 am (0200 GMT), South Korea's Song said. The second phase of the fifth round of talks is due to be held in December.

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Iranian Atom Chief Vows To Continue, Woos Investment
Tehran (AFP) Nov 09, 2005
Iran will carry on with its nuclear programme whatever the circumstances, the head of the country's atomic energy agency said on Wednesday, adding that "we have got past the stage of threats."

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