07/20/2005, 00.00
JAPAN – NORTH KOREA
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Tokyo to demand total nuclear power ban on Pyongyang

Government sources say Japan will ask for a total freeze on North Korea's nuclear energy programme during six-nation talks.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Japan has decided to urge the six-nation group to adopt a policy banning the use of nuclear technology in North Korea, even for peaceful purposes, this according to a Japanese paper that quoted government sources.

The Japanese government is concerned that it would be too dangerous to leave Pyongyang with the possibility of turning peaceful nuclear development into nuclear warheads.

For this reason, Japan wants North Korea to allow other countries to confirm in a verifiable manner that it has frozen its nuclear development programme.

Scrapping all of its nuclear development should be the main condition to allow the international community to provide the Pyongyang regime with assistance in the energy field.

The demand should be put to the table during the "six-nation" nuclear talks scheduled to start on Jul 26 in Beijing.

The six nations in questions are China, the United States, Russia, Japan, South Korea and North Korea.

The purpose of the talks is to end North Korea's military nuclear programme.

But atomic energy use for peaceful purposes has never been discussed.

The talks have been stalled for more than a year after North Korea quit accusing the United States of engaging in an "aggressive and offensive policy".

North Korea came back to the negotiating table under international pressures and because humanitarian aid is was receiving had been cut off.

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said yesterday that his aim was for normal relations with North Korea before he left office, despite protests by the Japanese population.

"There is no change in my will to normalise bilateral relations by resolving the nuclear and kidnapping problems during my administration," he said.

Japanese media and public have objected to the Prime Minister's peaceful approach and consider North Korea a continued threat because of actions taken by the Communist regime against Japan.

Relations between Japan and North Korea worsened after North Korean secret services abducted 12 Japanese national in the 1980s.

Koizumi's 2002 visit to Pyongyang led to the release of five of them, the other seven, according to the Communist regime, having died.

For many Japanese, the Prime Minister's commitment to peaceful "normalisation of relations" is "a dialogue of the deaf".

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