[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
N Korea firm on nuclear 'right'
North Korea's Kim Gye-gwan (foreground) in Beijing
The North claims to already have nuclear weapons
North Korea has again insisted that its right to develop a civilian nuclear programme is not up for negotiation - just hours before talks in Beijing.

The six-party negotiations, which resumed after a six-week break, are aimed at persuading Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambitions.

They were suspended in August over US demands for North Korea to dismantle all of its nuclear facilities.

A US envoy said at Beijing airport he was ready for "a lot of talks".

Christopher Hill was then whisked off to the US embassy in the Chinese capital to prepare for the negotiations, which also involve South Korea, China, Russia and Japan.

Speaking just before he left for Beijing, North Korean envoy Kim Gye-gwan said his country had a right to "peaceful nuclear activity".

"This right is neither awarded nor needs to be approved by others," he told Chinese news agency Xinhua.

'Finish this thing'

Washington has always opposed North Korea's demands for a nuclear energy programme, although Mr Hill has indicated in the last two weeks that he could be flexible, saying the issue was "not exactly a showstopper".

Correspondents say this could mean he would be prepared to fudge the wording in any agreement.

Oct 2002: US says North Korea is enriching uranium in violation of agreements
Dec 2002: North Korea removes UN seals from Yongbyon nuclear reactor, expels inspectors
Feb 2003: IAEA refers North Korea to UN Security Council
Aug 2003: First round of six-nation talks begins in Beijing
Feb 2005: Pyongyang says it has built nuclear weapons for self-defence

He insisted the US was ready to reach agreement with North Korea.

"We know we are ready to sit down and negotiate and try to finish this thing but the question is what the DPRK [North Korea] has done during that one month," he said in Seoul on his way to the talks.

The timing of North Korea's proposed disarmament is another major hurdle which delegates need to resolve.

Pyongyang wants to receive aid and diplomatic incentives before the process is completed but the US insists all nuclear facilities are dismantled before any kind of concessions are made.

Hear the US negotiator on the talks

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific