If US stops threats, nuclear programme will be ended: North Korea

January 13th, 2009 - 9:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack ObamaMoscow, Jan 13 (RIA Novosti) North Korea Tuesday said it would discontinue its nuclear programme if the US stopped its threatening and “unfriendly” policies towards the communist nation.”We will not need nuclear weapons as soon as the US nuclear threat disappears and the American nuclear umbrella over South Korea has been removed,” Pyongyang said in a statement.

According to an unnamed North Korean diplomat, the statement reflects the country’s stance on its nuclear disarmament and was made ahead of the upcoming presidential inauguration of Barack Obama Jan 20.

North Korea had asked the US for an invitation for its diplomats to attend Obama’s inauguration function, but Washington rejected the request.

US President George Bush, in his final press conference Monday, made it clear that Iran and North Korea are still considered by Washington as dangerous.

“North Korea is still a problem. So they are still dangerous.” Bush said and added: “In order to advance our relations with North Korea, the North Korean government must honour the commitments it made to allow for strong verification measures to be in place to ensure that they do not develop a highly enriched uranium programme.”

In 2008, the US removed North Korea from the blacklist of countries supporting international terrorism after Pyongyang gave assurances on verification measures.

South Korea, meanwhile announced Tuesday it would send an official delegation headed by the country’s nuclear envoy, Hwang Joon-kook, to North Korea to discuss the sale of its unused nuclear fuel rods.

It is hoped the visit may provide a stimulus to talks that stalled amid recent diplomatic wrangling.

“Our fact-finding team will focus on the technical and economic aspects of a decision on the handling of North Korea’s unused fuel rods,” South Korea’s ministry said in a statement.

Last year the communist country announced it had 14,000 unused fuel rods, which Seoul has estimated amount to some 100 tonnes of uranium. South Korea has 20 nuclear reactors providing the country with 40 percent of its energy needs and plans to increase its nuclear facilities in the future.

Relations between Seoul and Pyongyang have deteriorated since South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office in February 2008, and amid claims that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il has been incapacitated following a stroke in August.

Relations between the two sides, who are still technically at war and have not signed any formal peace treaty, were dealt a further blow this month, when the communist North tightened controls on the heavily fortified border, and expelled some of the South Koreans working at the Kaesong industrial park, close to the border.

During the six-nation talks held in Beijing in February 2007, the participating countries - China, the US, Russia, Japan and South Korea - agreed to provide North Korea 200,000 tonnes of fuel oil as an incentive for its nuclear decommissioning and disclosure of all information on past nuclear activities.

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