Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Aims with Talks to Keep N. Koreans in Nuclear Arms Pact CONTAINMENT IN ASIA

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

US Aims with Talks to Keep N. Koreans in Nuclear Arms Pact CONTAINMENT IN ASIA

Article excerpt

IN talks in New York tomorrow, the United States will make a last-ditch effort to keep North Korea from bolting the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and perhaps building a nuclear bomb of its own.

The US agreement to the talks is a concession, and a signal that Washington may be ready to meet demands by the North, such as putting a stop to US-South Korean military exercises.

The talks come just 10 days before the North can officially withdraw from the treaty, having given the requisite three-months notice on March 12. Both sides have hinted they are ready to makes compromises, but the US says the talks will be limited to two points included in a resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council on May 12.

That resolution, which passed 13-0 with China and Pakistan abstaining, demands that Pyongyang reconsider its decision to drop out of the NPT and accept inspections requested by the treaty's implementor, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

North Korea announced its withdrawal after the IAEA demanded a "special" inspection of two sites that the agency suspects contain evidence that Pyongyang has produced far more plutonium than it has reported. The IAEA's request was based in part on evidence from US intelligence.

In the talks tomorrow, the US wants to give the appearance that it is negotiating under UN approval in case the North does finally withdraw from the NPT. In that case, the US could more easily obtain Security Council approval for economic sanctions against North Korea, South Korean officials argue.

But China, which provides North Korea with about three-quarters of its oil, has warned the US that it would not support UN sanctions against its communist ally in Pyongyang.

Last week, Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen while on a visit to Seoul told South Korean officials that China has very little leverage with Pyongyang, despite the North's economic dependence on China. …

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