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Negotiators Try to Break Deadlock at North Korea Nuclear Talks

Negotiators at North Korean nuclear talks in Beijing say no progress has been made and they are working for a third day to try to break a deadlock.

North Korea continues to insist that it has a right to a light water reactor to produce electricity. Top U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill on Thursday said he would use day three of negotiations to try to convince the North Koreans that the issue is not negotiable.

"The light water reactor for us is a non-starter," he said. "We have a pretty good deal on the table. The deal consists of really a lot of what the DPRK should want."

The United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea are working to finalize a deal offering the massive amounts of electricity, security guarantees, economic assistance and other benefits Pyongyang has previously requested - in exchange for nuclear disarmament.

With North Korea's record of breaking non-proliferation deals in the past, Washington opposes any immediate concession for Pyongyang to engage in nuclear activities.

China, South Korea and Russia have indicated that they would not object to Pyongyang having civilian nuclear facilities in the future if it complied with all international disarmament requirements. Mr. Hill, however, says the matter should be considered only after the weapons issue is resolved.

North Korean diplomats have not commented during the negotiations. However, the delegation leader, Kim Gye Gwan, on Tuesday told Chinese state media that Pyongyang would not tolerate U.S. interference with what North Korea sees as its right to a peaceful nuclear program.

Pyongyang claims it needs a nuclear reactor to generate electricity to ease its chronic energy shortages. U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill suggests there is reason to believe North Korea - also known as the DPRK - would use the reactor for weapons ingredients.

"The DPRK has been engaged in nuclear energy now for some 25 years. They have not succeeded in turning it into electricity," stated Ambassador Hill. "They have succeeded in turning it into plutonium metal and I think one should keep that in mind when one talks about further enhancement of their nuclear programs."

U.S. officials are calling on North Korea not to sidetrack the negotiations and use the electricity matter as an excuse to stall the talks. Mr. Hill on Thursday said that if the North Koreans have another concern, they - quote - "ought to be clear with us and tell us what that is."