North Korea on Saturday apparently rejected the U.S offer made at the last round of six-party talks for the communist nation to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, the New York Times reported (see GSN, July 21).
A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the U.S. plan, presented last month in Beijing, was “a sham offer” because it required North Korea to disarm and allow nuclear inspections before receiving economic concessions from the United States, Japan, South Korea and Russia.
North Korea has offered to return to a “freeze” of its nuclear programs, similar to the one in effect under the Agreed Framework from 1994 to late 2002. President George W. Bush has said he would not return to a freeze deal, saying it would allow Pyongyang continue its nuclear work at its discretion.
As North Korea would not be rewarded for freezing its nuclear programs, “the landmark proposal made by the United States” was not worthy of consideration, according to the North Korean statement.
“It is a daydream for the U.S. to contemplate forcing [North Korea] to lay down arms first under the situation where both are in a state of armistice and at war technically,” the statement says.
“No one expected a positive response,” one senior U.S. official involved in the issue said Saturday. “But this did not sound like it closed the door, either,” the official added (David Sanger, New York Times, July 25).
Meanwhile, six-nation talks could soon resume in Beijing, with working-level talks addressing the U.S. proposal expected next month, according to AFP.
The working-level talks would be followed by senior-level discussions, the Japanese Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported (Agence France-Presse/SpaceWar.com,, July 25).
Elsewhere, the United States announced Friday it would provide 50,000 tons of food aid to North Korea through the World Food Program, AFP reported.
The food would be sent “to help relieve the suffering of the North Korean people despite our concerns about the North Korean government’s policies,” said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher (P. Parameswaran, Agence France-Presse/Yahoo!News, July 24).