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North Korea Requests Light-Water Reactors as Disarmament Reward


North Korea's nuclear negotiator says Pyongyang should receive light-water reactors to generate electricity, as a reward for dismantling its nuclear weapons program.

Speaking with reporters Saturday at Beijing's airport, Kim Kye Kwan said that discussion of the light-water reactors should come as it makes progress in dismantling its facilities.

Kim returned to Pyongyang Saturday after three days of talks in China on his country's nuclear weapons program. Those talks ended Friday without setting a deadline to disable Pyongyang's nuclear facilities.

More talks are scheduled for September.

In February, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the construction of light-water reactors could only be discussed after North Korea had fully dismantled its programs.

Pyongyang's proposal is similar to an agreement it reached with the United States in 1994 that later fell through.

In September 2005, participants in the six-nation talks agreed they could discuss the possibility of a light-water reactor for Pyongyang when the time is right.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said he was pleased with the progress made during this week's talks. He also believes that with a "little luck," North Korea can disable its nuclear facilities by the end of the year.

U.N. inspectors confirmed this week that North Korea shut down its main Yongbyon nuclear facility, a first step in a February deal for the country to end its nuclear aspirations.

North Korea also promised to declare and dismantle all of its nuclear weapons facilities in exchange for fuel and diplomatic incentives.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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