09/19/2005, 00.00
NORTH KOREA
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North Korea will give up its nuclear programme

After two years of talks, the communist regime has accepted to dismantle its atomic reactors in exchange for oil, energy and humanitarian aid.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The North Korean regime has accepted to give up its civilian and war –related nuclear programmes in exchange for oil, energy and humanitarian aid. The agreement, reached with a view to reviving the impoverished and diplomatically isolated North Korea, aims to normalize links between nations gathered around the negotiating table for nuclear disarmament: South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia, China and North Korea itself. It is these nations which will supply promised aid to Pyongyang. The pact was defined by negotiators as "the most important achievement in the two years since the start of six-party talks".

Pyongyang will have the possibility to develop a civilian nuclear programme if it regains international trust. This point is actually a compromise between the United States and Japan on the one hand – they maintain it is totally impossible to allow North Korea to have a plan to develop atomic energy – and China, South Korea and Russia, who believe it is feasible to allow this option under strict international monitoring.

North Korea is asking for the delivery of energy and aid before dismantlement but Tokyo and Washington are against this: they want to ascertain the beginning of denuclearization before sending promised aid. If nuclear dismantlement of the communist regime fails, the United States will take the matter to the United Nations Security Council, asking member states to apply heavy sanctions against North Korea. Pyongyang has repeatedly said that the application of international sanctions would be tantamount to a "declaration of war".

According to Xinhua, the United States affirmed it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade North Korea with nuclear or conventional weapons. The same source said the three governments – North Korean, American, Japanese – are seeking to normalise diplomatic relations "by any means".

Today's agreement is the first concrete result of the "six-party talks" which were stalled several times by mutual accusations traded by the USA and Pyongyang. The last nuclear crisis dates back to the end of 2002, when North Korea was accused of developing a secret nuclear programme which violated previous agreements. Pyongyang has always denied the accusation, defining it as a "deception of the United States".

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