N Korea confirms nuclear moratorium

2012-02-29 17:07

Seoul - North Korea confirmed on Wednesday it has agreed to a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests and a suspension of its uranium enrichment programme in return for US food aid.

It said Washington had promised 240 000 tons of "nutritional assistance", with the prospect of additional food aid, at talks between the two sides in Beijing last week, in a statement on the official news agency.

The US side made a similar simultaneous announcement in Washington.

The North said it would allow the UN nuclear watchdog, the international atomic energy agency (IAEA), to monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment.

It said the US side offered to discuss the lifting of sanctions and provision of light-water reactors to generate electricity as a priority, once six-party nuclear disarmament talks resume.

The Beijing talks were aimed at persuading the North to return to the six-nation talks which it abandoned in April 2009.

The enrichment programme, first disclosed in November 2010, could give the North a second way to make atomic weapons in addition to its longstanding plutonium programme.

The North "agreed to a moratorium on nuclear tests, long-range missile launches, and uranium enrichment activity at Yongbyon and allow the IAEA to monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment while productive dialogues continue", a foreign ministry spokesperson told the official news agency.

Pyongyang carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 and is believed to have enough plutonium to make six to eight nuclear weapons.

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