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Pyongyang rejects Seoul demand for full inspection of nuclear sites

21 August 1994 - The San Diego Union

Associated Press and Reuters

SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea yesterday rejected South Korea's demand that it open its nuclear program fo full inspection in exchange for a modern nuclear reactor.

"We will never allow the inspection of the military sites at the expense of our sovereignty to recieve light-water reactors," North Korea's Foreign Ministry said.

"This is our unshakable will," Pyongyang said in a report carried by its Korean Central News Agency. But the report said, "We are willing to involve ourselves in clearing up 'nuclear suspicion' in the future."

A Foreign Ministry spokesman blamed the call for full inspections on South Korea and Japan and said the countries were motivated by "a sinister political purpose of reversing the agreed statement of the DPRK (North Korea) and the United States and inciting confrontation between the two countries again."

The North's apparent intransigence on the issue of special inspections of two suspect nuclear sites cast a pall over a U.S.-Norht Korea nuclear agreement reached Aug. 13 in Geneva.

The North says the two sites in dispute are military an thus offlimits to inspection. Western inpectors suspect they may contain evidence that the North tried to buld a nuclear bomb.

Under the Aug. 13 deal, North Korea agreed to scrap construction of old-style nuclear reactors in return for a U.S. pledge to help build a modern light-water reactor. Those are considered safer and produce less plutonium, a key ingredient in nuclear bombs.

South Korea's deputy prime minister, Lee Hong-Koo, yesterday said the South's offer to build a light-water reactor and to supply surplus electricity for the North depended on several conditions, including full inspections.

He said Washington ought to help pay for the billion-dollar reactor and suggested that Japan could contribute as well.

Seoul will urge Washington to set the preconditions in its talks with North Korea, Yonhap News Agency said, quoting unnamed South Korean government officials.

The South wants the North to fully comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires that nuclear sites be open to international inspection; safely store 8,000 spent fuel rods laden with plutonium; and stop building two old-style nuclear reactors.

Later, South Korea will demand that modern reactors provided to the North be of South Korean design and manufacture, the officials were quoted as saying.

Various U.S. laws war the Unided States from providing funds of nuclear technology to an "enemy" state such as North Korea, which could complicate any deal.

South Korea also suggested that discussion of family reunions and human rights improvements in North Korea be considered, Yonhap reported.

About 10 million Koreans in the North and South are separated from relatives by a closed border.

The officials were quoted by Yonhap as saying that while Seoul is willing to supply surplus electric power to North Korea, it will not provide oil, fearing it could be used for military purposes.

Once North Korea opens its nuclear program to inspections, the South Koreans said they would be flexible about the ways that Washington links other aid to Pyongyang.