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(LEAD) (Yonhap Interview) N. Korea resists efforts by China to resume nuclear talks

2013/11/15 10:36

BEIJING, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- North Korea appears to have resisted a diplomatic push by China to resume the long-stalled talks aimed at ending the North's quest for nuclear weapons, a U.S. expert said Friday, voicing skepticism about the prospects for dialogue.

Scott Snyder, a senior fellow for Korea studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, told Yonhap News Agency in an interview that China, despite its marked push to breathe new life into the six-nation talks, has apparently failed to convince North Korea to change its ways, adding that the North is not interested in rejoining the talks.

"Up to now, I think that the DPRK (North Korea) is publicly sending signals suggesting they have not made changes," Snyder said on the sidelines of a security conference in Beijing. "So, from my perspective, it means the DPRK is rejecting the Chinese efforts to create conditions that are necessary to resume the six-party talks."


Scott Snyder, a senior fellow for Korea studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Yonhap)

The talks, which involved the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, have been dormant since late 2008. Since conducting its third nuclear test in February, North Korea has repeatedly expressed its willingness to rejoin the six-party process "without preconditions," but showed no intention of abandoning its nuclear program.

South Korea and the U.S. have been demanding North Korea show its sincerity by first taking steps to denuclearize itself. China has been more accommodating toward North Korea, urging South Korea and the U.S. to lower the bar for Pyongyang to sit down at the negotiating table.

In recent months, a flurry of diplomacy led by China has been under way aimed at resuming the talks, but there are little signs of progress.

"I think that it's pretty clear at this moment that the DPRK publicly continues to say the same thing over and over again that it would not accept preconditions," Snyder said, adding the North's approach "suggests that they are not interested right now in coming back to the six-party talks."

   While making diplomatic overtures, North Korea was confirmed last month to have restarted a nuclear reactor at its Yongbyon nuclear center. It is a provocative move that would provide Pyongyang with enough plutonium to build one atomic bomb a year.

North Korea is also reportedly making preparations for another test of a long-range rocket or an atomic device.

Asked about the likelihood of another provocation by North Korea, Snyder replied, "I never predict what North Korea is going to do, but evidence shows that the DPRK is continuing to make preparations for further development of its nuclear program."

   "Those efforts by the DPRK are following the regime's main strategic policy directive of simultaneously pursuing nuclear and economic development," he said.

"So, I think that there is every reasons to believe that the DPRK may be preparing to conduct further tests," Snyder said.