N.K. not planning to hand over plutonium: ex-U.S. diplomat |
WASHINGTON, May 29 (Yonhap) -- A former U.S. diplomat who met senior North Korean officials last month said Thursday that Pyongyang is not planning to give up nuclear weapons or material as envisioned by the United States and other members of the six-party talks.
Jack Pritchard, a former North Korea policy coordinator who now heads the Korea Economic Institute in Washington, said Pyongyang's officials also made clear they expect to be given light-water reactors in return for destroying their key nuclear facilities.
Pritchard was a member of a U.S. delegation of scholars and Korea experts who traveled to the North in late April and met with the foreign minister, the chief nuclear negotiator and other ranking government officials.
Without giving specific names, Pritchard said the officials insisted the so-called phase three of North Korea's denuclearization would involve destroying the facilities at Yongbyon, which has a reactor, a reprocessing plant and a fuel fabrication facility that are necessary to churn out weapons-grade plutonium.
"The going-in position of the North Koreans is that's what their phase three is," Pritchard told reporters gathered at a forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Phase three is the last stage of a deal struck by South and North Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, the members of the six-party talks. Pyongyang completed the first phase by shutting down the Yongbyon facilities and is now close to completing the second phase by disabling them, a process intended to make it costly and difficult to restart the facilities.
The denuclearization deal as described by the U.S. and other parties requires the North to dismantle all of its atomic weapons and programs, and in return receive political and economic incentives, including eventual diplomatic normalization with the U.S. and Japan.
But Pritchard said the North Koreans he met, who are also members of Pyongyang's nuclear negotiation team, made no mention of turning over the weapons or plutonium that was manufactured.
"They are very clear phase three is dismantlement of plutonium facilities only. It doesn't include fissile material, and it's in exchange for light water reactors," he said.
North Korea was promised a set of reactors in a deal struck in 1994 with the U.S. The accord collapsed when the U.S. accused the North in 2002 of violating it by secretly trying to enrich uranium, an alternative method for producing weapons material.
The six-party agreement says the member governments would consider the reactor provision at an "appropriate time." The parties other than Pyongyang understand the timing to be after the North completely denuclearizes.
Joseph DeTrani, the North Korea mission manager at the Office of Director of National Intelligence, told the CSIS forum that the six-party agreements have clear language that phase three includes dismantling of nuclear weapons and programs, and also covers human rights issues.
"Part of phase three is movement toward normalization," he said as a panelist in the forum. "So as we move toward a normal relationship, we need to address human rights, we need to address some of those issues."
DeTrani served previously as deputy U.S. representative to the six-party talks.
He gave weight to the more than 18,000 pages of reactor operation records North Korea gave to the U.S. earlier this month, saying he expects them to provide valuable information.
"The experts who obviously know the business are looking at the documents. They are saying these documents appear to be very authentic," DeTrani said.
"Those people who know this business are saying, this would make sense for a reactor, this would make sense for a reprocessing facility. We believe we can glean some very good information."