Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Halts Nuclear Disablement

Wednesday, August 27, 2008
02:00 Mecca time, 23:00 GMT

N Korea halts nuclear disablement

North Korea publicly demolished a cooling tower at the Yongbyon nuclear complex in June

North Korea says it has stopped disabling its nuclear facilities to protest against Washington's failure to remove it from its list of state sponsors of "terror".

The foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that the suspension took effect on August 14 and that it has notified countries involved in six-party talks on its nuclear programmes.

The ministry said it was forced to take the step "as countermeasures in a situation where the United States violated the agreement".

The US said said North Korea's decision was a "step backward" and went against agreements made in the six-nation talks.

"This certainly is in violation of their commitments to the six-party framework," Robert Wood, a state department spokesman, said.

Disarmament deal

Pyongyang had been disabling the facilities under a disarmament-for-aid deal reached last year with Washington.

The North Korean statement said that the country would "consider restoring the Yongbyon facilities to their original states" but did not say when it would do so.

In June, the cooling tower of the Yongbyon nuclear facility was destroyed in a public demolition to demonstrate North Korea's commitment to scrapping its nuclear programme.

Removal from Washington's list of state sponsors of terror is one of the key concessions offered to North Korea in exchange for shutting down and disabling the reactor.

After North Korea turned over a list of its nuclear programmes in June, the US announced Pyongyang would be delisted.

North Korean 'threats'

The two sides have been negotiating on how to verify the nuclear declaration, with Washington saying it would remove Pyonyang only after a verification plan is agreed.

North Korea's announcement is being seen as a bargaining tactic rather than an intent to restart its nuclear facilities.

Al Jazeera's Melissa Chan said: "In the past, [North Korea] has made a lot of threats on this issue.

"When it comes to negotiating, they really do like to use threats against the other five parties."

China, Japan, South Korea, the US and Russia have all been involved in brokering the deal disablement deal.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

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