N.Korea nuclear talks to survive Syria charge - Seoul

SEOUL Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:09am IST

An undated image released by the U.S. Government shows the suspected Syrian nuclear reactor building under construction in Syria. REUTERS/U.S. Government/Handout

An undated image released by the U.S. Government shows the suspected Syrian nuclear reactor building under construction in Syria.

Credit: Reuters/U.S. Government/Handout

Related Topics

SEOUL (Reuters) - U.S. charges that North Korea helped Syria build a nuclear reactor are not expected to derail international talks aimed at ending the communist state's own nuclear arms programme, a South Korean official said on Friday.

The United States on Thursday released photographs it said linked North Korea to a plutonium-producing reactor under construction in Syria in an effort to put pressure on Pyongyang to come clean about proliferating nuclear technology.

"There probably won't be much of a meaningful impact on the six-party talks," said a South Korean official familiar with the multinational negotiations.

Japan, however, said the charges were serious, if true.

"Of course, if North Korea was helping Syria's secret... nuclear activities, then this is a serious issue. I think it is important that this be made clear through the Six-Party Talks' correct and full declaration process," Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said.

Under the deal North Korea struck with five regional powers, it had until the end of 2007 to give a complete list of its fissile material and nuclear weaponry as well as answer U.S. suspicions of enriching uranium for arms and proliferating technology.

A U.S. envoy was in Pyongyang this week to advance the sputtering nuclear talks that have hit a snag over the declaration issue.

If North Korea, which tested a nuclear device in Oct. 2006 with plutonium produced at its Soviet-era reactor, makes the declaration, the United States will remove it from a terrorism blacklist and allow Pyongyang to tap into international finance.

Asked if the latest U.S. claims would an impact on the question of North's removal from Washington's list of nations that sponsor terrorism, Japan's Machimura said: "I don't think this would have a positive influence on North Korea."

North Korea, which lists Syria as one of its few close allies with diplomatic and civilian exchanges, has yet to comment on the new U.S. claims, but it has denied any involvement in nuclear proliferation, calling the Syrian nuclear connection "fiction."

Israel destroyed the reactor in a Sept. 6 air strike that was initially shrouded in secrecy out of what U.S. officials said was fear that public discussion could prompt Syria, which has long supported militant Palestinian groups, to retaliate.

The U.S. announcement comes on the heels of new South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's first trip abroad since taking office where he had a summit at the Camp David retreat last week with George W. Bush. The two urged North Korea to meet its obligations in the nuclear deal.

(Reporting by Jack Kim in Seoul, additional reporting by Yoko Kubota in Tokyo)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Boat Tragedy

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Putin risks upstaging talks on defusing Ukraine crisis.  Full Article 

Xi's Master Plan

Xi's Master Plan

China's Xi purging corrupt officials to put own men in place - sources.  Full Article 

Not Funny

Not Funny

North Korean embassy complains to UK after salon mocks leader's hair.  Full Article 

Science Update

Science Update

Oh baby: Scientists find protein that lets egg and sperm hook up.  Full Article 

Nuclear Assurance

Nuclear Assurance

Modi says committed to no first use of nuclear weapons.  Full Article 

Holy Week

Holy Week

The Christian faithful celebrate Holy Week, the week which leads into Easter Sunday.  Slideshow 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage