We spoke too soon
North Korea is already reversing course on the nuclear arms deal it agreed to. Now the hermit kingdom wants the US to supply it with a light water nuclear reactor. It's actions like this that makes it next to impossible to trust the DPRK.
Tuesday Special- Jo's Cafe
SEOUL, South Korea — Less than 24 hours after diplomats announced a breakthrough pact to eliminate nuclear arms in North Korea, the isolated communist state threw cold water on the deal today, saying it would not abandon its weapons program until the United States gives it a light-water nuclear reactor.
North Korea's demand could be a deal breaker. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the chief U.S. negotiator at the six-nation nuclear talks, made it clear at the opening of negotiations in Beijing last week that the idea of providing North Korea with a reactor before disarmament would be a "nonstarter."
No one is sure if the North can make a weapon small enough to mount on a warhead, or a missile that can deliver an accurate strike. North Korea has tested missiles that can reach Japan, China, South Korea and possibly parts of the United States, including the West Coast.
After four rounds of discussions spanning several years, the United States, North and South Korea, Japan, Russia and China said yesterday that they had agreed on a vaguely worded plan under which North Korea promised to dismantle its nuclear weapons in return for energy assistance, eventual U.S. and Japanese diplomatic recognition and a pledge by Washington that it would not attack the country.
The agreement also said the United States and other nations would discuss giving North Korea a light-water reactor for generating electricity, though it skirted the question of when. It said only that the possibility would be considered "at an appropriate time."
But the North Koreans made it clear today that they are in no mood to defer their reward.
In a blunt statement, North Korea's official KCNA news service warned that "the U.S. should not even dream of the issue of [North Korea's] dismantlement of its nuclear deterrent before providing" a light-water reactor, which it called "a physical guarantee for confidence-building."
Should the United States insist on the dismantling of North Korea's atomic weapons before the provision of light-water reactors, the statement said, "there will be no change in the nuclear issue."
Even though difficulties were expected to arise in the coming months as diplomats sought to iron out the details of yesterday's pact, the speed with which the Pyongyang regime punctured the celebratory mood was surprising.
Late yesterday, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack made a terse statement about the North Korean demand, telling reporters in New York, "This is not the agreement that they signed, and we'll give them some time to reflect."
Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura called North Korea's demand "unacceptable."