U.S. Reportedly Easing Demands on Nuclear Talks with North Korea

The United States is reportedly easing its conditions for returning to nuclear talks with Pyongyang amid concerns that a fourth atomic test is in the works.

Washington, along with allies Seoul and Tokyo, now wants North Korea to accept a moratorium on its nuclear weapons development in order for the frozen six-nation, aid-for-denuclearization negotiations to be resumed, the Yonhap News Agency reported on Monday, citing an informed diplomatic insider.

The negotiations involving China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States were last held in December 2008. They propose to reward Pyongyang's gradual and irreversible denuclearization with timed infusions of economic assistance and international treaties.

"Two principles have been set," said the source. "The first is to make practical progress in denuclearizing North Korea and the second is to prevent the North from sophisticating its nuclear capability."

"Under the principles, there are various ways to resume the six-party talks," the insider continued. "But, North Korea must meet conditions set under the Feb. 29 agreement."

The so-called "Leap Day" deal of February 2012 collapsed before it could be implemented after North Korea conducted what was widely viewed as a long-range ballistic missile test. Under the aborted agreement, Washington agreed to send a quantity of nutritional assistance to the North in exchange for a freeze on all nuclear and strategic missile tests and a halt to uranium-enrichment activities.

Since the collapse of the bilateral agreement, the United States, South Korea and Japan have insisted on seeing concrete steps by the North toward an irreversible nuclear shutdown before they will return to the six-party talks. However, the rising likelihood that Pyongyang could carry out a fourth atomic test apparently has spurred the three countries to ease their demands. The new conditions were reportedly agreed to during a meeting in Washington last week of the three nations' senior nuclear negotiators.

U.S. special envoy for North Korea policy Glyn Davies is expected to discuss prospects for restarting the nuclear talks with his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, during two-way talks in New York and Washington this week, according to a U.S. State Department press release.

April 14, 2014
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The United States is reportedly easing its conditions for returning to nuclear talks with Pyongyang amid concerns that a fourth atomic test is in the works.

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