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US Urges North Korea to Keep Nuclear Commitments

The United States Thursday urged North Korea to meet its obligation to fully disclose its nuclear activities by December 31. The State Department appeal came amid signs of trouble in implementing the six-party accord under which Pyongyang is to scrap its nuclear program. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

Officials here say the United States and other parties to the nuclear deal are fulfilling their commitments to North Korea and that Pyongyang can and should meet its obligation to account for its nuclear program and activities by the end of the year.

The U.S. comments followed an assertion by South Korean Foreign Minister Song Min-Soon Thursday that implementation of the six-party nuclear accord was at a "crossroads" and that Pyongyang may miss the December 31 deadline for its nuclear accounting.

Under the nuclear deal reached last February, North Korea is to scrap its nuclear program in phases in exchange for energy aid and diplomatic benefits from the other parties, including the United States, Japan, South Korea, Russia and China.

By the end of the year, Pyongyang is to permanently disable the reactor that produced the plutonium for the nuclear weapon it tested last year, and disclose all aspects of its program including any proliferation activity and the uranium enrichment project U.S. officials believe it began in the 1990's.

News reports quoting South Korean officials say Pyongyang has failed thus far to give what the United States considers a satisfactory explanation of the enrichment effort.

Briefing reporters, State Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey said Pyongyang has an obligation to provide a complete accounting of its program. He said the North Koreans are fully capable of keeping their end of the bargain, on time:

"That does need to include any accounting for the highly-enriched uranium activities that they pursued in the past and may be pursuing currently, and certainly also includes dealing with things like proliferation and the other concerns that we've raised," Casey said. "Full and complete is probably the best way to describe it. There can't be fudging around the edges here. We need to really understand the full extent of the program and the full extent of the activities."

Casey said he was unaware of any delays in promised shipments of oil and related aid to North Korea, and that there has certainly been no policy decision by any of the other five parties to the accord to slow deliveries.

A North Korean official said earlier this week Pyongyang had not received the aid in a timely manner and was left with no choice but to slow the disablement of its Yongbyon reactor complex.

Under the initial phase of the accord, North Korea is to receive one million tons of heavy fuel oil or equivalent aid from the other parties, ostensibly to compensate for the loss of power that was generated at Yongbyon. Most of oil has already been delivered.