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US Says North Korea Still Owes Full Nuclear Disclosure

The United States says North Korea has yet to make a final disclosure of its nuclear activities despite an assertion by Pyongyang Friday that it produced such a report in November. North Korea was supposed to have declared all its nuclear holdings and programs by December 31 under the six-party disarmament accord. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

Officials here are contesting North Korea's claim that it has already fulfilled its obligation to report its nuclear programs, but they also stress that the dispute does not mean a rupture in compliance with the six-party agreement.

North Korea's state news agency KCNA Friday quoted a government spokesman as saying Pyongyang drew up a list of its nuclear programs in November in fulfillment of its obligations and notified the United States.

In a talk with reporters here, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said U.S. and North Korean officials have held talks on what the declaration might contain, but that nothing that could be described as a final document has been submitted to China, host country of the six-party process:

"We have talked with them about their declaration and continue to encourage them to provide a full and complete declaration," he said. "They've not yet provided what they have said is their final declaration to the chair of the six-party talks, the Chinese. And we are still waiting for that. We are still encouraging them, to provide that full and complete declaration as are other members of the six-party talks. We don't yet have that."

McCormack said all participants in the process want a North Korean declaration as soon as possible but that getting a complete statement is more important than the timetable.

He suggested that the North Korean media statement Friday was part of a normal ebb and flow in a complicated diplomatic process, and he noted that Pyongyang is fulfilling other obligations under the deal including disabling its Yongbyon reactor complex.

Under the first phase of the agreement, North Korea is permanently disabling the Yongbyon facility, where plutonium for its nuclear weapons was produced, in exchange for one million tons of fuel oil or equivalent aid and diplomatic benefits.

U.S. officials believe North Korea had a parallel uranium-based bomb project, and McCormack said that should be accounted for in the declaration. Friday's North Korean statement said any concerns about uranium enrichment should have been allayed by recent visits by U.S. experts to the country's nuclear facilities.

The issue of the North Korea declaration is expected to dominate the agenda for the chief U.S. delegate to the nuclear talks, who is beginning a round of consultations with other participants in the six-party talks.

Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill is due to visit Japan, South Korea, China and Russia in the week-long mission. There are no current plans for him to visit North Korea.