North Korea rejects US nuke demands
SEOUL: North Korea rejected a key US demand for easing nuclear tensions on Tuesday and threatened to link the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea to a settlement, in the latest sign the communist country is trying to bolster its hand ahead of new talks aimed at ending the dispute.
In a dispatch carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency, Pyongyang dismissed as “unfeasible and unrealistic” Washington’s stance that the communist country verifiably and irreversibly dismantle its atomic weapons programmes as a first step in resolving the 17-month long standoff. US insistence that North Korea “completely, verifiably and irreversibly” begin dismantling its nuclear programmes before receiving concessions was a key sticking point in last month’s six-nation talks aimed at brokering a deal.
The talks bogged down over differences about what nuclear projects would be subject to dismantlement and how their shut down would be verified. They ended without a major breakthrough. North Korea blamed the outcome on “an infeasible and unrealistic old assertion that the DPRK should scrap its nuclear programme first,” adding that a change in “US attitude is a prerequisite to the settlement.” DPRK stands for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name. North Korea also reiterated that it may pin the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea to the nuclear talks and demand a “verifiable and irreversible” security guarantee from Washington. —AP