Pyongyang rejects US plan to ease crisis

Gulf Daily News

16 December 2003

SEOUL: North Korea rejected yesterday a US proposal to ease the crisis over its nuclear drive, saying Washington was delaying six-party talks and forcing Pyongyang to "steadily" build up its nuclear deterrent force.

North Korea's ruling Workers Party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said the proposal ignored Pyongyang's own offer of "simultaneous actions" to defuse the crisis, including a nuclear freeze in return for concessions from the US.

"The US wasting time would do the DPRK (North Korea) nothing bad," Rodong said in Pyongyang's first reaction to the US offer.

"Its delaying tactics would only result in compelling the DPRK to steadily increase its nuclear deterrent force."

North Korea said the US still had time to accept Pyongyang's own proposal for the resumption of talks.

"It is an invariable stand of the DPRK government on the six-way talks that it is a key to the solution of the nuclear issue and a core point to be agreed upon between the DPRK and the US to seek a package solution based on the principle of simultaneous actions," the newspaper said.

The call from North Korea came amid dimming hopes for a new round of six-nation talks this month on the communist state's nuclear weapons drive. The newspaper indicated that the sticking point in the US proposal was Washington's long-standing demand for verification of a North Korean agreement to scrap its nuclear weapons programme.