Archive for Saturday, October 1, 2005

U.S. views on N. Korea prevail in U.N. nuclear agency resolution

October 1, 2005

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— The U.N. atomic watchdog agency took North Korea to task Friday for breaching the nuclear arms control treaty but welcomed its pledge to give up atomic weapons in a resolution that highlights U.S. priorities for future talks with Pyongyang.

China refrained from co-sponsoring the text in a reflection of its displeasure with a text focusing on Washington's priorities. Still, diplomats noted that the resolution was submitted to the 139-nation International Atomic Energy Agency's General Assembly only after Beijing indirectly signed off on it.

Russia - which along with China is one of five nations negotiating with North Korea over scrapping its nuclear arms - also did not co-sponsor the text, showing that it, too, was unhappy with the outcome.

The document was adopted by consensus, but has only symbolic value because the meeting has no enforcement powers.

But the dispute is significant because it reflects the disagreement on how to proceed at a more important level - future talks among North Korea, China, the United States, Russia, South Korea and Japan. The discussions are meant to build on Pyongyang's commitment to mothball its nuclear weapons.

Confirming the differences and outlining Washington's concerns, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Thursday the Americans were insisting any resolution agreed upon in Vienna should not "change any understandings or what was agreed to at the six-party talks."

A diplomat, who demanded anonymity because the resolution had not been made public, said the text tried to balance U.S. concerns that North Korea commit to honoring the nuclear arms control treaty and less specific Chinese-requested language focusing on rewards to Pyongyang.

Gregory Schulte, the chief U.S. representative to the IAEA, told the conference that Washington welcomed the North's commitment, meaning that all of its nuclear weapons and weapons materials "will be comprehensively declared and ... irreversibly eliminated."

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