World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


S. Korea Calls For Flexibility Over Nuclear Talks

By Kurt Achin

S. Korea Calls for 'Flexibility' as N. Korea Nuclear Talks Hit Snag

South Korea is calling for "flexibility" in the amount and type of information North Korea is due to release about its nuclear programs. Six-nation talks on the North's programs are unlikely to reconvene as expected this month, in an apparent snag over what should be included in the North Korean declaration. A sense of urgency is building among officials in the South Korean capital.

A spokesman for South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said Thursday that Seoul would like to see six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear capabilities reconvene "as soon as possible."

The talks, involving the two Koreas, China, Russia, Japan and the United States, were widely expected to resume in the Chinese capital this month. The next topic of business for the talks is to review a declaration by Pyongyang of all its nuclear facilities, weapons, and materials - the latest step in a multi-stage agreement aimed at dismantling North Korea's nuclear capabilities altogether.

However, South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-soon warned Thursday that the talks now run the risk of falling apart. He says the six-nation dialogue "sits at a very critical juncture of stably moving ahead or being crippled."

Song says the dialogue partners were aiming for the end of the year as a deadline for a formal review of the North's nuclear declaration. Now, he says the six parties will have to show "flexibility."

Song was quoted in local media as saying the United States is ready to move ahead in the talks, and the process will move forward as soon as North Korea builds some confidence and "admits what it has done in the past."

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the senior U.S. delegate to the six party talks, says Washington has "very good evidence" North Korea obtained uranium enrichment equipment and technology from Pakistan. Hill says North Korea's declaration must account for Pyongyang's uranium-related activities, which the North has never publicly admitted.

Hill said North Korea must submit at least a draft declaration by the end of the year.

Dan Pinkston, North Asia analyst for the International Crisis Group, says North Korea's apparent reluctance to admit to the uranium-based program may be holding up the declaration.

"I think on the uranium enrichment side there's a lot of explaining to do, and they can't dismiss a lot of the procurement activities in the past," he said.

Hill was in North Korea earlier this week for a visit to the North's main nuclear facility at Yongbyon, which Pyongyang has been disabling as part of the six-nation diplomacy.

Experts say even if the North's nuclear production facilities are dismantled, however, it will be difficult to account for and destroy all of its existing stocks of nuclear materials and weapons.

Apart from the nuclear diplomacy, North-South Korean ties have been moving forward briskly. South Korea's Unification Ministry confirmed Thursday that the South has completed a transfer of 400,000 tons of rice to the impoverished North.

North-South cargo trains are expected to begin rolling next week through the North Korean city of Kaesong, where hundreds of South Koreans also began scheduling package tours this week. High-level inter-Korean talks to advance a wide range of new North-South projects are wrapping up here in Seoul Thursday.


More: Latest World News | Top World News | World Digest | Archives

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Human Rights: China Journalist Jailed For COVID Reporting Seriously Ill, Must Be Released

UN human rights experts* today urged China to immediately release imprisoned citizen journalist and woman human rights defender Zhang Zhan on humanitarian grounds, saying her health is deteriorating rapidly and her life is in danger... More>>

CID: PNG Deadly Covid Crisis Getting Worse
People in Papua New Guinea are not getting enough Covid vaccines due to misinformation. This is causing immense stress and suffering throughout the country, says Quenelda Clegg Chair of CID’s Humanitarian Network...More>>

Sudan: Bachelet Condemns Killings Of Peaceful Protesters

At least 39 people have been killed by security forces in Sudan since the 25 October military coup, 15 of whom were reportedly shot dead on Wednesday, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights...

Focus On: UN SDGs

Food: Three Billion People Cannot Afford A Healthy Diet

Approximately three billion people, almost 40 per cent of the world’s population, cannot afford a healthy diet and another one billion people would join their ranks should further unpredictable events reduce incomes by one-third, the UN food agency said, launching a new report on Tuesday... More>>

COP26: Enough Of ‘Treating Nature Like A Toilet’ – Guterres Brings Stark Call For Climate Action To Glasgow
As the World Leaders Summit opened on day two of COP26, UN chief António Guterres sent a stark message to the international community. “We are digging our own graves”, he said, referring to the addiction to fossil fuels which threatens to push humanity and the planet, to the brink, through unsustainable global heating... More>>

Climate: ‘Vague’ Net Zero Promises Not Enough: Planet Still On Track For Catastrophic Heating, UN Report Warns

New and updated commitments made ahead of the pivotal climate conference COP26 in the past months are a positive step forward, but the world remains on track for a dangerous global temperature rise of at least 2.7°C this century even if fully met, a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned... More>>