North Korea Threatens to Restore Plutonium Plant
North Korea often issues strident warnings as a negotiating tactic but the latest declaration still dimmed the administration’s hopes of achieving a breakthrough in the North’s nuclear disarmament before President Bush leaves office in January.
The State Department described the announcement as a “step backward.”
“This certainly is in violation of their commitments to the six-party framework,” a State Department spokesman, Robert Wood, told reporters, according to Reuters.
North Korea accused Washington of not keeping its promise to take North Korea off a terrorism blacklist. The United States wants North Korea to agree to a comprehensive method of checking whether it withheld information in a report on its past nuclear activities before it removes North Korea from the list.
A White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, said North Korea had informed Washington that it had halted its work at the plant temporarily. “We’ve informed North Korea that we will take action to rescind its designation when it fulfills its commitment regarding verification,” he said.
The state-run news agency, KCNA, quoted a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying: “We have decided to immediately suspend disabling our nuclear facilities. This measure has been effective on Aug. 14, and related parties have been notified of it.”
Work started at Yongbyon late last year to disable a nuclear reactor, a factory that produces fuel for the reactor and a laboratory that can extract plutonium from spent fuel rods. North Korea demolished the reactor’s cooling tower in June.
It would take at least a year to restart the disabled facilities, experts said.
Disabling the complex does not meet Washington’s ultimate goal of dismantling it. The United States wants full access by inspectors to all locations it suspects of being nuclear sites to ensure that there are no hidden nuclear assets.
The North bristled at this demand. “The U.S. is gravely mistaken if it thinks it can make a house search in our country as it pleases, just as it did in Iraq,” the North Korean spokesman said.
He said North Korea was still technically at war with the United States because the 1950-53 Korean War had ended only in a cease-fire. He added that asking the North to give up its nuclear programs while it was not allowed similar inspections in South Korea, to make sure that there are no American nuclear weapons there, amounted to “a gangster’s demand.”
North Korea has sought for years to be removed from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Neil A. Lewis contributed reporting from Washington.
(source : the new york times)
This entry was posted on September 3, 2008 at 10:43 pm and is filed under Nuclear Weapon with tags north korea, nuclear, plutonium plant, United States, US, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.