North Korean chief negotiator envoy Kim Gye-gwan said on Tuesday that his government would not give up its nuclear programs before it received rewards, including light-water reactors.
“They are telling us to give up everything, but there is nothing we should give up first,” Kim told a small group of South Korean reporters at Beijing airport before boarding his plane for Pyongyang.
“The United States can prove a change to its hostile policy against the DPRK (North Korea) by providing light-water reactors.”
A statement released by the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said: “The US should not even dream of the issue of the DPRK’s dismantlement of its nuclear deterrent before providing LWRs (light-water reactors), a physical guarantee for confidence-building.”
The statement, carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, comes one day after Pyongyang agreed to disarm in return for pledges of aid and security pledges.
“This is our just and consistent stand as solid as a deeply rooted rock,” the spokesman added.
Pyongyang’s agreement to abandon its nuclear arms programme on Monday had been the biggest breakthrough in two years of six-party negotiations on denuclearising the Korean peninsula.
A joint statement issued by the six nations – North and South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia – said the other five countries would respect Pyongyang’s demand for a light-water reactor and discuss it at a later date.
“The US should not even dream of the issue of the DPRK’s dismantlement of its nuclear deterrent before providing LWRs (light-water reactors), a physical guarantee for confidence-building”
Statement by North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman
But the Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday that North Korea, a self-avowed nuclear power, would only disarm and return to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) when the US provides it with a light-water reactor.
“As clarified in the joint statement, we will return to the NPT and sign the Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA and comply with it immediately upon the US provision of LWRs, a basis of confidence-building, to us,” he said in the statement.
“As already clarified more than once, we will feel no need to keep even a single nuclear weapon if the DPRK-US relations are normalised, bilateral confidence is built and we are not exposed to the US nuclear threat any longer.
“What is most essential is, therefore, for the US to provide LWRs to the DPRK as early as possible as evidence proving the former’s substantial recognition of the latter’s nuclear activity for a peaceful purpose.”
A US official said late on Monday the North Korean demand was not in line with the deal signed in Beijing.
“This was obviously not the agreement they signed and we
will see what the coming weeks bring,” said State Department
spokesman Sean McCormack.
US officials declined to comment more broadly on Pyongyang’s declarations, which appeared to undermine a much-feted set of principles agreed upon earlier in Beijing.
“It could just be a lot of bluster, we don’t know,” said an
Japan called Pyongyang’s demand that it be given light-water
nuclear reactors “unacceptable”.