N Korea pledges to resume nuclear talks

NORTH KOREA yesterday said it would resume high-level talks with the US on its nuclear programme on 5 August. Talks were interrupted earlier this month by the death of the country's president, Kim Il Sung.

The announcement came as a relief to those who feared the takeover of Kim Jong Il might disrupt the negotiations and set the already secretive country on an even more hostile, isolationist path. It is unclear, however, whether the North Koreans are ready to negotiate away their nuclear trump- card with the US, or whether they are again playing for time.

The US had placed a high priority on an early resumption of the talks, as North Korea has 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods sitting in a cooling pond and which, if reprocessed, could yield enough plutonium for six atomic bombs.

The rods, unloaded from the reactor in the Yongbyong nuclear facility in May, are being periodically inspected by two experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency, but Pyongyang says that by September it will have to take them out of the cooling ponds.

Western scientists see little technical justification for such a deadline, and some regard it as yet another tactic in North Korea's nuclear blackmailing of the US and its allies.

US and North Korean negotiators met in New York on Thursday to discuss a resumption of the talks, which will be held in Geneva. The US wanted to reconvene on 1 August, but North Korea said it needed more time to prepare for the talks, even though it will be sending the same negotiators as sat down on 8 July for the single day of talks before the announcement of Kim Il Sung's death.

The US is offering substantial economic aid, and eventual diplomatic recognition, if Pyongyang maintains its self-declared 'freeze' on its nuclear programme and allows inspectors to ensure the 8,000 rods are not converted into weapons-grade plutonium.

Some North Korea observers hope Kim Jong Il will be more open to economic reform and a gradual opening of his country than his dogmatic father. Others fear the younger Kim, less secure in leadership, will be less willing to give up the nuclear insurance policy on which his scientists are suspected to be working.

The chief US negotiator at the Geneva talks, Assistant Secretary of State Robert Gallucci, is visiting Seoul and Tokyo to discuss how to deal with Kim Jong Il. Mr Gallucci is also trying to head off a North Korean attempt to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul, a much-used tactic in the 40 years of propaganda warfare between the two Koreas.

While welcoming the US talks, Pyongyang has recently switched on its anti-Seoul rhetoric, and it appears that plans for an interKorean summit, brokered by Jimmy Carter, a former US president, shortly before Kim Il Sung's death, are likely to be postponed indefinitely.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?