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U.S. Officials: N. Korea Must Halt Nuclear-Material Work Before Any Talks

U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice speaks at an event in Washington in September. The White House official on Wednesday said there would be no negotiations with North Korea until it halts certain nuclear weapons-related activities (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images). U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice speaks at an event in Washington in September. The White House official on Wednesday said there would be no negotiations with North Korea until it halts certain nuclear weapons-related activities (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images).

Senior Obama administration officials in the last day said if North Korea wants to resume multinational aid-for-denuclearization negotiations, the country must first halt its fissile-material production program, which is assessed to be expanding.

"Elimination of North Korea's nuclear establishment, both plutonium and uranium," would be crucial to the resumption of the long-paralyzed six-nation nuclear negotiations, U.S. special envoy for North Korea policy Glyn Davies was quoted by the Yonhap News Agency as saying on Thursday.

Pyongyang has said it wants to return to talks with China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States, but only if there are no preconditions. At the same time, the isolated state is preparing to resume plutonium production at a recently restarted Soviet-era reactor. Pyongyang also is believed to have developed a way to indigenously manufacture centrifuges for use in its uranium-enrichment program.

Analysts say North Korea additionally appears to be expanding a missile-launch complex, possibly with the intent of enabling the firing of longer-range weapons.

The North's actions are "completely inconsistent with the notion of successful six-party talks," Davies said in Beijing, where he was meeting with China's foreign minister and senior nuclear negotiator.

"North Korea knows exactly what it needs to do to demonstrate that it's serious," White House national security adviser Susan Rice was quoted by Yonhap as saying in a Wednesday speech at Georgetown University.

Rice said North Korea's efforts to "engage in dialogue while keeping critical elements of its weapons program running" was unacceptable.

"We will continue to join with international partners, especially China, to increase pressure on North Korea to denuclearize," the former ambassador to the United Nations warned, adding that Washington would work to increase sanctions on Pyongyang if it carries out any more provocations, the Associated Press reported.

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