BEIJING — North Korea’s nuclear envoy demanded yesterday that his country be given power-generating light-water reactors as a reward for eventually dismantling its atomic programs.
The demand presents a future hurdle for talks aimed at ridding Pyongyang of its ability to make nuclear bombs.
“In order to ultimately dismantle [the nuclear programs], light-water reactors should be given” to the North, Kim Kye-gwan told reporters before leaving Beijing, referring to a type of nuclear reactor that cannot be easily used to make radioactive materials for weapons.
Mr. Kim also said Pyongyang would need to consider how far trust had been built before deciding whether to include details of its nuclear-weapons program in a declaration of its nuclear secrets it is required to provide in the next phase of the deal, Japan’s Kyodo News agency said.
Six-nation talks on the North’s nuclear-weapons programs ended Friday without setting any target date to disable Pyongyang’s nuclear facilities — before their eventual dismantlement — following the shutdown of its sole operating reactor a week ago.
The North had been promised two light-water reactors for power under a 1994 disarmament deal with the United States. But that agreement fell apart in 2002 when Washington accused Pyongyang of embarking on a secret uranium-enrichment program, sparking the latest standoff.
The United States and the other countries in the arms talks — China, Japan, Russia and South Korea — have agreed to discuss providing the North with light-water reactors at an appropriate time. Washington has insisted discussions on the reactors would only take place after Pyongyang has rejoined the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that it quit in early 2003.
The North’s Mr. Kim still praised the outcome of the latest arms talks, but said time had not been sufficient to set a new deadline for the next step in Pyongyang’s disarmament — declaring its nuclear programs and disabling the facilities. Instead, working groups will meet by the end of August to discuss technical details before top envoys convene in early September to agree on a road map.
“In order to set a deadline, we have to clearly define the obligations of each side and sequence corresponding actions,” Mr. Kim said. “Time was not enough, and preparations were not enough this time.”
“The talks went well, the discussions went well, and I think the outcome is good,” he said, adding that the North pledged to “sincerely implement” previous agreements from the negotiations.
“We will make the contributions we can make” at future talks, Mr. Kim said.
The United States also has said it was satisfied with last week’s session, and that it still hoped to meet a goal of disabling the North’s nuclear facilities by the end of the year.
However, Mr. Kim, the longtime North Korean nuclear negotiator, leveled harsh words at Japan, which has refused to contribute aid for disarmament to the communist nation until it addresses abductions of Japanese citizens — an issue Pyongyang has claimed it has already resolved.
“Japan is creating a crisis of infringing upon our national sovereignty,” said Mr. Kim, who met with his Japanese counterpart Kenichiro Sasae in a one-on-one session at the latest arms talks. “If Japan takes one more step further, I warned that will be a disaster.”