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US Proposing Aid in Korean Nuclear Talks

The United States proposed on Wednesday that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) agree to a series of nuclear disarmament measures over a three-month period in exchange for economic benefits and an easing of its diplomatic isolation.  

The proposal, unveiled at the start of six-nation talks in China, would ultimately lead to the end of DPRK's nuclear program.


It was the most detailed US proposal for bringing about a diplomatic solution to the DPRK nuclear impasse since it surfaced almost two years ago.


The United States considers the DPRK to be a threat to peace and stability in Northeast Asia. The DPRK has sold missiles to countries such as Iran and Syria, and the possibility of exports of nuclear weapons technology is a major concern here.


The United States is being joined at the Beijing talks by China, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Japan and Russia in addition to the DPRK itself. The American delegation is headed by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly.


During the three-month "preparatory period," the DPRK would disable its nuclear weapons and remove key weapons ingredients.


"The permanent and verifiable dismantlement and removal of DPRK's nuclear programs would follow," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.


During the initial period, the nations in the Beijing talks would be willing "to ease the political and economic isolation of the DPRK," according to the US proposal.


Outside assistance would focus on deliveries of fuel, particularly from the ROK.


No lasting benefits would be provided to the DPRK until after the disarmament had been completed, Boucher said. There would be no American assistance until the later stages of the process.


A DPRK response to the proposal was expected on Thursday, said a senior administration official, asking not to be identified.


In the meantime, DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye-gwan offered an alternative, promising to freeze operations at its main nuclear complex, Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported, citing officials at the conference. The freeze would allow for inspections.


Kim said Pyongyang has been developing nuclear weapons for protection from possible US attack.


"If the United States gives up its hostile policy toward us ... we are prepared to give up in a transparent way all plans related to nuclear weapons," he said.


Under the US proposal, some form of security guarantees also would be offered to give DPRK the confidence that disarmament would not trigger an attack.


The DPRK long ago agreed in principle to give up its existing weapons. But it has refused to accept a US claim that it has two nuclear programs, not just the plutonium-based project that it has acknowledged.


The administration says the danger posed by the DPRK would remain if they removed the plutonium program while leaving intact a uranium bomb program that Washington contends it has.


The three-day meeting in Beijing is the third gathering of its kind and the first since February. The first two rounds yielded little progress.


All along, the United States has demanded the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of the North's program.


The senior official described the US proposal as a repackaging of the government's previous stance, mostly to make it more appealing to partners pushing for a more flexible American approach.


White House spokesman Scott McClellan cited Libya's disarmament earlier this year as an example that the United States would like the DPRK to follow.


The DPRK is believed to have two nuclear weapons and the capability to produce several more. Its missile program offers a weapons delivery vehicle.


(China Daily via agencies, June 24, 2004)

ROK Determined to Solve Korean Nuclear Issue
Japan Expects Substantial, Comprehensive Discussions in Six-Party Talks
US Determined to Promote Solving DPRK Nuke Issue
Third Round of Six-Party Talks Begins in Beijing
DPRK Willing to Quit Nuke Programs with Conditions
US Offers Proposal to Solve Nuke Issue
It's Time to Progress on Substantial Issues
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