Japan demands North Korea action

2012-03-01 11:49
Tokyo - Six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear programme have moved a step closer to resumption after Pyongyang's deal with Washington but there needed to be "concrete" action, Japan said on Thursday.

Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba welcomed an agreement announced on Wednesday that will see North Korea suspend its nuclear tests and uranium enrichment programme in return for US food aid.

But he cautioned the hermit state needed to translate its words into deeds before the impasse on the Korean peninsula could be broken.

"This is an important step and can be seen as progress... but it is very important that we see concrete action," he told reporters.

"Our goal remains unchanged: that all nuclear-related facilities will be stopped, that is, the complete and verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," he said.

North Korea's announcement came less than three months after the death of leader Kim Jong-Il.

Following talks with the US last week, the regime led by Kim's young and untested son Kim Jong-Un promised also to suspend long-range missile tests and allow the return of UN nuclear inspectors.

North Korea agreed in 2005 to give up its nuclear ambitions in return for aid and political concessions, as part of a six-party negotiation process.

But the agreement broke down in 2009 when Pyongyang abandoned the talks, blaming "US hostility".

Gemba said a resumption of the talks, which involve the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the US, had become more likely with the announcement.

"The environment around the six-party talks is gradually improving," he said, but added: "We still need co-ordination.

"If we were asked if we can immediately restart the six-party talks, I would have to say now is not such a situation."

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