BEIJING – U.S. and North Korean officials traded accusations over why four days of talks aimed at ending the North’s nuclear weapons program ended without any appreciable progress.
The talks included the United States, the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia. While negotiators agreed to create a working group and to hold another meeting before July, they failed to move forward on any substantive issues, including agreeing on the scope and capability of Pyongyang’s weapons programs and the framework needed to dismantle them and verify progress.
Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea’s vice foreign minister, blamed “U.S. hostile policies toward North Korea” for the inconclusive results.
One continued stumbling block, U.S. officials said, is North Korea’s ongoing denial that it has a highly enriched uranium weapons program in addition to its acknowledged plutonium program. Kim said that the North has no such program.
A second continuing dispute was over Pyongyang’s position that it should not have to dismantle what it called its peaceful, civilian atomic energy program as part of any deal on nuclear weapons.
A third major point of contention is the steps and timing involved in winding down Pyongyang’s weapons program.
The United States has insisted that only a “complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement” would justify normalizing relations and resuming aid. North Korea wants such concessions to precede or coincide with a weapons freeze.
Text from The Washington Post/
Los Angeles Times