US envoy Christopher Hill says his talks with North Korean Vice-Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan in Pyongyang were “substantive.” That’s heartening, because the conversation covered a serious point of disagreement between the two nations: whether North Korea will allow international inspections of its nuclear sites.
Kim Jong Il’s regime, which tested a nuclear device in 2006, says international inspections would violate the country’s sovereignty.
North Korea signed the six-party disarmament accord in February 2007 and pledged to disable its nuclear program in return for energy aid and normalized diplomatic ties with the US and Japan.
Kim’s regime shut down the Yongbyon reactor, the source of its weapons-grade plutonium, last year and in June blew up a cooling tower at the plant.
The communist state stopped disabling Yongbyon in mid-August to protest delays in being removed from the US terrorism blacklist. Last week North Korea expelled United Nations inspectors from the plant.
“I don’t have any information on whats going on in Yongbyon,” Hill told reporters. “Obviously, that is an area of great concern to us.”
The Bush administration has said the regime will remain on the list until a verification system is in place.