The Korea Herald


Koreas to hold nuke talks on Sept. 21


Published : Sept. 18, 2011 - 19:17

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N. Korea’s uranium enrichment program expected to top the agenda

The two Koreas agreed to hold a second round of denuclearization talks in China on Wednesday, where they will discuss the conditions for the resumption of the six-party negotiations, a Seoul official said Sunday.

The Seoul delegation will be headed by its chief nuclear envoy Wi Sung-lac while the North Korean group will be led by its chief nuclear negotiator Ri Yong-ho.

“The South and the North have agreed to hold the talks on Sept. 21. We will fine-tune details such as how long and how many meetings we will have when we meet there,” a government official told reporters, declining to be named.

“In this round, we will touch on the overall issues concerning the denuclearization as we did in the first round in Bali and seek to form the conditions for the reopening of the six-party talks. The goal of the talks is to discuss preliminary denuclearization measures.”

Seoul, Washington and Japan have demanded that the North stop its nuclear program, particularly the UEP, as one of the preliminary denuclearization steps for the reopening of the multilateral dialogue, which the North has sought to alleviate its economic travails and break its international isolation.

Other preliminary steps include the return of international nuclear inspectors to its Yongbyon nuclear complex and inspection of its uranium enrichment program.

“The denuclearization process cannot yield outcomes after just one or two meetings. It is too much for us to expect that the preliminary steps will definitely be worked out this time,” he said.

Observers said it is unclear whether there will be a fruitful outcome from the bilateral talks regarding the UEP as the North has insisted that the UEP should be on the agenda for the six-party talks, not for the inter-Korean meeting.

In June 2009, the reclusive state declared that it had run the UEP, which experts say is hard to detect whereas activities involving the plutonium-based program requiring large nuclear reactors and reprocessing facilities is highly detectable.

Asked if the North has shown any change in its attitude toward the preliminary steps, he said, “We still have to listen to what the North will say (in the talks). The North has yet to give any word on its stance regarding the preliminary steps.”

The North and its ally China have said that the multilateral talks should resume without preliminary conditions.

Meanwhile, North Korea appears to have separate groups for one in charge of the inter-Korean talks and the other handling the high-level dialogue with the U.S. First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan has been in charge of the talks with the U.S.

By Song Sang-ho (