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2ND LD: U.S. wants to replace KEDO with new arrangement: Hill.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 Kyodo


The United States wants to terminate the existing multilateral consortium for providing light-water nuclear reactors to North Korea by the end of this year and replace it with a ''new, more secure'' arrangement to carry out the North's denuclearization, a top U.S. negotiator said Thursday.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill, who serves as the chief delegate to the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear ambitions, spelled out the U.S. policy before the House of Representatives International Relations Committee.

Hill did not elaborate on what kind of an arrangement Washington envisions to replace the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization in line with a new commitment made by North Korea in the just-ended fourth round of the talks to abandon all its nuclear weapons and programs.

''We believe that KEDO as an organization has served its purpose and that now we need, more secure, arrangements to carry our denuclearization,'' Hill said in written testimony for the hearing on the six-party talks.

Referring to his closing statement at the fourth round of the six-party talks, Hill said, ''I noted...that the United States supported a decision by the end of this year to terminate KEDO and its light-water project.''

Led by Japan, South Korea, the European Union and the United States, KEDO was established under the 1994 accord between Washington and Pyongyang to implement an agreed framework in which North Korea committed to freeze its weapons-grade nuclear facilities and eventually dismantle it in exchange for two light-water nuclear reactors for power generation and a stopgap fuel supply.

The New York-based body has suspended the project since the 1994 accord collapsed in October 2002, when the United States alleged North Korea had admitted to running a secret uranium enrichment program.

The renewed crisis led the six parties -- China, Japan, South and North Korea, Russia and the United States -- to launch the dialogue process in August 2003 in a bid to peacefully resolve it.

At the end of the fourth round of talks on Sept. 19 in Beijing, the six parties issued a joint statement of principles, which included North Korea's agreement to abandon all its nuclear weapons and programs, rejoin the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and allow safeguard inspections under the International Atomic Energy Agency in exchange for energy aid, security assurances and other benefits.

The six parties also agreed to discuss the provision of a light-water reactor to North Korea ''at an appropriate time.''

Hill reiterated that Pyongyang must first implement its denuclearization commitments in a verifiable manner before starting the LWR discussions.

''We have been crystal clear with respect to when the 'appropriate time' would be,'' Hill said, dismissing a statement made by North Korea after the fourth round that Pyongyang will return to the NPT and IAEA safeguards only after receiving the reactor.

As for energy aid toward which South Korea pledged to provide 2,000 megawatts of electric power, Hill said, ''The United States is considering how it might participate in provision of energy assistance.''

Washington is also thinking about how it might assist with the retraining of North Korea's nuclear scientists and workers, he said.

Hill said the upcoming fifth round in early November will focus on drawing timelines and sequencing of actions under the joint statement, especially regarding North Korea's move to declare and dismantle its nuclear programs and how to internationally verify it.

''The issues are complex and interrelated, and negotiations will be difficult,'' Hill said.

Hill said the United States has ''no intention to attack or invade the DPRK with nuclear or conventional weapons,'' but continues to ''worry about the large conventional forces the DPRK maintains.''

DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea.

Against this backdrop, he underscored the U.S. commitment to its alliance with South Korea and stressed that Washington ''has no plan to withdraw additional troops from the peninsula.''

Regarding the U.S. intention to normalize ties with North Korea in the future, Hill said Pyongyang must address ''our longstanding concerns,'' including human rights, biological and chemical weapons, ballistic missile programs, proliferation of conventional weapons, terrorism and other illicit activities.

Hill also said Washington supports Japan's position that North Korea must resolve the abduction and missile issues before normalizing ties with Tokyo.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Oct 11, 2005
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