North Korea on Saturday stood by its demand for aid in exchange for shutting down a plutonium-producing nuclear reactor, saying it won’t act until Washington offers concessions.
“As we have to follow the ‘action for action’ principle, we will act if action is made,” the North’s envoy to six-nation disarmament talks, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye Gwan, told The Associated Press. “We will never move first.”
Kim didn’t say what concessions the North wanted. He spoke at the Beijing airport as he prepared to return to Pyongyang following the end of the latest round of talks Friday.
After landing in Pyongyang, Kim said his government was committed to carrying out a September joint declaration in which it promised to disarm in exchange for aid and a security guarantee, the North’s official news agency reported.
Kim said Pyongyang was “ready to make sincere efforts to fulfill the common statement,” the Korean Central News Agency reported.
Kim said participants in the talks — which also include China, South Korea, Japan and Russia — have taken the first step toward fulfilling that September declaration.
“The parties concerned should eliminate suspicion and establish trust for each other if they really want to make progress in the talks,” Kim said, according to KCNA.
U.S. rejects North Korean demand
The U.S. envoy, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, urged the North on Friday to shut down the reactor at Yongbyon but said he had rejected Kim’s demand for aid in exchange.
Asked whether the North was willing to shut down the reactor if the United States offered suitable concessions, Kim said: “Of course.”
He didn’t elaborate.
There was no indication of progress this week toward agreeing on details of how to carry out North Korea’s pledge in September to abandon nuclear development in exchange for aid and a security guarantee.
The North is insisting on receiving aid in stages as it dismantles its nuclear programs, while Washington refuses to reward Pyongyang until that goal is achieved.
The diplomats agreed to meet again but didn’t set a date.