- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 28, 2008

BEIJING — The United States is urging North Korea to end a deadlock in six-nation nuclear talks by completing an overdue account of its nuclear past with a document that might remain secret.

In November, Pyongyang disclosed details of its efforts to make atomic bombs from plutonium. But the United States says it failed to explain a parallel program to make highly enriched uranium, an equally potent fuel for nuclear weapons.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice publicly raised the prospect of an additional disclosure yesterday in Tokyo, her last stop on a three-nation visit to East Asia.

“I really have less concern about what form it takes or how many different pieces of paper there may have to be or how many times it may have to go back and forth,” Miss Rice said.

U.S. officials said privately last month that North Korea could submit a second list to account for uranium-enrichment efforts, which are thought to have led to transfers of equipment and technology to Syria.

At a private dinner in Washington late last month, Alexander Vershbow, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, said the Bush administration is looking for a way to persuade North Koreans to cooperate without “rubbing it on their noses.”

A separate document would give the United States the information it demands about dangerous North Korean activities and save Pyongyang public embarrassment by keeping part of the list secret, diplomats said.

The declaration, which was due at the end of December, would complete the second phase of an October deal aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and would clear the way for promised political and economic benefits to the communist state.

A Syrian facility targeted by an Israeli air strike in September has become a major issue for the United States because it was widely reported to be a nuclear site under construction with help from North Korea.

The matter was expected to be raised during a meeting between Miss Rice and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert today in Tokyo.

Mr. Olmert was in Tokyo to explain intelligence on North Korean nuclear cooperation with Syria.

The Bush administration first accused North Korea of running a secret uranium-enrichment program in 2002.

Chinese negotiators have urged the United States to accept North Korea’s November declaration and leave uranium enrichment and transfers to Syria for future negotiations.

Christopher R. Hill, the chief U.S. negotiator with North Korea, remained in Beijing to continue talks with the Chinese yesterday while Miss Rice flew to Tokyo from Beijing. She visited Seoul on Monday.

South Korea, China and Japan, along with the U.S., Russia and North Korea, are in talks to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

North Korean cooperation would bring energy aid and other assistance from the United States and South Korea, including a supply of 1 million tons of fuel oil for conventional power plants.

“The third phase is going to be really hard, which is where you have to really talk about dismantling [the North”s programs] and you have to account for the material and you have to figure out what to do with the material,” Miss Rice said.

Diplomats and analysts said Washington must find a way to break the impasse while holding to its demands that North Korea explain any secret programs and proliferation activities.

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