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SKorea sends nuke envoy on rare trip to North

 South Korea's No. 2 nuclear envoy to the North Korea disarmament talks, Hwang Joon-kook, front left, leaves with other members for North Korea via Be...
 South Korea's No. 2 nuclear envoy to the North Korea disarmament talks, Hwang Joon-kook, answers reporters question before leaving for North Korea vi...
 South Korea's No. 2 nuclear envoy to the North Korea disarmament talks, Hwang Joon-kook, answers reporters question before leaving for North Korea vi...

South Korea Koreas Nuclear

South Korea's No. 2 nuclear envoy to the North Korea disarmament talks, Hwang Joon-kook, front left, leaves with other members for North Korea via Be...

South Korea Koreas Nuclear

South Korea's No. 2 nuclear envoy to the North Korea disarmament talks, Hwang Joon-kook, answers reporters question before leaving for North Korea vi...

South Korea Koreas Nuclear

South Korea's No. 2 nuclear envoy to the North Korea disarmament talks, Hwang Joon-kook, answers reporters question before leaving for North Korea vi...

Seoul dismissed on Thursday North Korea's insistence that the U.S. is hiding nuclear weapons in South Korea, as its No. 2 nuclear envoy made a rare trip to the isolated nation.
South Korea's Foreign Ministry, responding to a strident statement Tuesday from Pyongyang calling on Washington to remove what it called a "nuclear umbrella" over the South, said there is no atomic arsenal hidden on its side of the Demilitarized Zone.
The ministry said the North should focus instead on fulfilling a promise to dismantle its nuclear program under a disarmament-for-aid pact signed in 2007.
"Only after it wins the same status as us by scrapping all nuclear weapons and programs completely, thus addressing international suspicions and meeting international standards on peaceful use of nuclear" energy, is the regime entitled to make such demands on other nations, the statement said.
Seoul's statement reflects the hard line that conservative, pro-U.S. President Lee Myung-bak has taken with the communist neighbor since taking office last year. His stance so angered Pyongyang that the regime cut off all ties with the South.
Still, the North is allowing Hwang Joon-kook, the South's No. 2 nuclear envoy, and a team of experts to visit North Korea on Thursday to inspect fuel rods at a main plant as part of the 2007 disarmament pact.
The visit is the highest-profile trip by South Korean officials since Lee took office and Pyongyang broke off reconciliation talks.
Hwang said his team planned to check the size, composition and storage conditions of unused fuel rods at the Yongbyon nuclear plant. No date has been set for their return.
North Korea had agreed in December to export its 14,000 unused fuel rods, and the South has said it would consider buying the fuel rods if they can be adapted to work in its power-generating nuclear reactors. The North also has some 8,000 spent fuel rods which, if reprocessed, could allow the North to harvest weapons-grade plutonium for nuclear bombs.
Five nations _ China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S. _ have been trying for years to disarm North Korea, which tested a nuclear bomb in 2006.
The impoverished North agreed the following year to dismantle its program in exchange for aid, but the process has been stalled for months because of a dispute with Washington over how to verify Pyongyang's past nuclear activities.
In a move analysts called an attempt to circumvent the six-party process, the North said it would consider giving up its nuclear weapons only if Washington establishes direct relations first.
Washington rejected the suggestion, saying Pyongyang must abandon its nuclear program if it wants diplomatic recognition.


Updated : 2020-12-03 00:39 GMT+08:00