N. Korea Links Nuclear Deal to Peace Treaty
Saturday, July 23, 2005
SEOUL, July 22 -- The North Korean government reiterated a call Friday for a peace treaty with the United States formally ending the 1950-53 Korean War as a way to resolve the current standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons program.
Perhaps hinting at its bargaining position before the start of six-nation talks in Beijing next week, North Korea suggested it would push for a broad accord replacing the armistice that ended the Korean War rather than an agreement narrowly addressing its nuclear programs.
"Replacing the ceasefire mechanism by a peace mechanism on the Korean peninsula would lead to putting an end to the U.S. hostile policy toward [North Korea] which spawned the nuclear issue and the former's nuclear threat," said a government statement, carried by North Korea's official KCNA news agency.
Diplomats hoped the new negotiations would result in a deal over North Korea's nuclear plans. But the North Korean statement indicated that the Pyongyang government might be seeking a sweeping agreement that would not be acceptable to the five other nations at the talks -- the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea.
The Korean War ended without a formal peace treaty. The United States, China and North and South Korea held talks on such a document as recently as late 1997, but the negotiations failed because North Korea demanded the removal of U.S. troops from South Korea.
North Korea, after attending three unsuccessful rounds of nuclear talks, has boycotted the six-party negotiations for more than a year. It agreed to return to the talks starting July 26 after South Korea offered specifics of a plan to provide 2,000 megawatts of electricity to North Korea if it abandoned its nuclear program. North Korea has also sought a security agreement with the United States and other diplomatic and economic incentives that the Bush administration has been unwilling to provide.