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US official urges NKorea to abandon nukes

US official urges NKorea to abandon nukes

A senior U.S. diplomat said Friday that giving up nuclear weapons is North Korea's only path toward economic aid and better relations with the world, sticking to a hard line as the North pushes for an end to sanctions.
Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said in a speech at a Washington think tank that if North Korea continues to conduct nuclear and missile tests and threaten its neighbors, "it will continue to suffer the consequences."
The United States and its negotiating partners, he said, will enforce tough sanctions until the North returns to stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament talks.
When asked how negotiators plan to deal with the North's continued production of fuel that can be used in nuclear weapons, Steinberg said that the Obama administration will not repeat past patterns of providing the North "rewards for actions which can easily be reversed."
North Korea has bargained with its neighbors and the United States for more than a decade about giving up its nuclear program, gaining energy and aid concessions and then backing away from its agreements.
The North is thought to have enough weaponized plutonium for at least half a dozen atomic bombs. It conducted its second nuclear test last year, which prompted a new round of international sanctions. North Korea argues that it was compelled to develop nuclear weapons to cope with a military threat from the United States, which has about 28,500 troops in the South.
Steinberg also urged the North to stop firing artillery near its disputed western sea border with South Korea.
The aggression, which entered its third day Friday, could be an attempt by North Korea to raise tensions to help its push for a treaty formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War. That conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty, leaving the Korean peninsula technically at war.
South Korea and the United States have insisted that North Korea return to nuclear talks before any treaty can be concluded, something Steinberg repeated in his speech.
The North said its moves were part of an annual drill and that they would continue.


Updated : 2021-08-02 21:34 GMT+08:00