North Korea is warning it may slow down the pace of ending its nuclear
capabilities as part of a multinational negotiation process. The
latest meetings in that process broke down this week in Beijing,
leading Washington to suspend energy aid to the North. Other partners in the talks are
expressing their regrets about the lack of progress.
A day after
the United States and its regional partners warned they would suspend
energy aid to North Korea, Pyongyang says it may hold on to its nuclear
weapons capabilities a bit longer than planned.
North Korea's chief delegate to multinational nuclear talks, Kim Kye-gwan, spoke Saturday to reporters in Beijing.
says Pyongyang will be fine even if heavy oil shipments it was
scheduled to receive are suspended. He warns, North Korea will adjust
the speed of its work to disable its nuclear programs if the fuel does
not come in.
Energy assistance is one of the benefits North
Korea is supposed to receive in exchange for gradual steps toward
nuclear disarmament. The North submitted a declaration of its nuclear
programs earlier this year as part of a multi-phase deal aimed at
getting rid of of its nuclear weapons altogether.
between the two Koreas, Japan, Russia, China and the United States
broke down this week in Beijing after the six parties failed to break
an impasse over verifying the accuracy of that nuclear declaration.
The United States says international nuclear inspectors need the
ability to take physical samples for lab study from suspected North
Korean nuclear sites. Pyongyang says it will not permit that.
a summit in Fukuoka, Japan, Saturday, South Korean President Lee
Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso expressed regret for
what they called North Korea's "failure to cooperate" in verifying the
truth of the North's nuclear pledges.
In a separate statement,
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao expressed his own regrets, and urged North
and South Korea to resume dialogue. North Korea recently tightened its
border to the South and is threatening to cut contacts with Seoul
completely in anger over the South's conservative policy toward aid and
investment in the North.
No further six-nation nuclear talks are
scheduled at this time. Negotiations are viewed as unlikely to resume
before the January inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama.