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US Nuclear Envoy Says N. Korea About to Reveal Nuclear Activities

The chief U.S. delegate to the North Korea nuclear talks says North Korea will produce a list of all of its nuclear activities within days. As VOA's Kurt Achin reports from Seoul, a major question is whether Pyongyang's formal nuclear declaration will address alleged uranium enrichment activities.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told business leaders in Seoul Thursday that North Korea would soon produce a document the world has been waiting for.

"We look forward to receiving in the next few days, certainly within the next week, a comprehensive list from the North Koreans on all their nuclear programs, materials, and facilities," he said.

Hill is the chief U.S. envoy to six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear weapons capabilities. He is expected to visit the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, and the North's main nuclear facility at Yongybyon next week.

U.S. and North Korean scientists have been working together for weeks to disable Yongbyon, as a first step in dismantling it altogether. Earlier this year, North Korea promised the United States, China, South Korea, Russia, and Japan it would declare and disable all of its nuclear programs in exchange for energy aid and diplomatic incentives.

Hill is due to meet senior North Korean officials to discuss the upcoming nuclear declaration, which the six nations will then review formally at talks in Beijing later this month.

A major unknown at this point is whether the declaration will mention a program to produce highly enriched uranium, a nuclear weapons fuel.

U.S. officials say North Korea admitted in 2002 to pursuing such a program. Pyongyang says it has produced weapons using plutonium, but has never publicly admitted to a uranium program.

Hill says the U.S. and North Korea have had "very detailed conversations" on the uranium enrichment issue.

"While we do not yet have a solution as I stand here today, I'm confident that based on the direction of those conversations, we can have a verifiable solution by the end of the year," he said.

Hill refused to say Thursday whether he expected the uranium program to show up in the formal declaration, but and other U.S. officials have indicated that it is a matter that will have to be dealt with.

"We are not looking to humiliate anybody in this process," Hill noted. "But with respect to uranium enrichment, we do need an acknowledgment of what has gone on, we need an explanation of how it went on, and we need a disposition of any equipment involved in uranium enrichment."

Separately, the North and South Korean defense ministers finished three days of talks Thursday with no agreement on implementing a joint economic maritime zone. The leaders of the two Koreas agreed at their summit last month to establish such the zone in disputed waters west of the Korean peninsula.