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North Korea Announces Moratorium On Nuclear Tests, Uranium Enrichment

2/29/2012 11:42 AM ET

North Korea has announced a moratorium on its nuclear tests, uranium enrichment, and long-range missile launches.

An assurance in this regard was given last week by the North Korean delegation during the third round of talks with their US counterparts on reviving Six-party talks on Pyongyang's disputed nuclear program, US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said in a statement on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the North Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed this.

North Korea agreed to suspend its nuclear program "upon request by the U.S. and with a view to maintaining positive atmosphere for the DPRK-U.S. high-level talks," the Communist nation's state-owned news agency KCNA quoted the spokesman as saying.

The North has also agreed to allow the IAEA to monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment at Yongbyon "while productive dialogues continue," and confirm the disablement of the 5-MW reactor and associated facilities.

Nuland said the United States "still has profound concerns regarding North Korean behavior across a wide range of areas, but today's announcement reflects important, if limited, progress in addressing some of these."

In return for the positive gesture, Washington agreed to meet with North Korean officials in the immediate future to finalize administrative details necessary to move forward with its proposed package of 240,000 metric tons of nutritional assistance with the prospect of additional assistance based on continued need.

During the February 23-24 talks in Beijing, the United States reaffirmed that it "does not have hostile intent towards the North and is prepared to take steps to improve our bilateral relationship in the spirit of mutual respect for sovereignty and equality." The United States reaffirmed its commitment to the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement on the Six-Party Talks, and said it recognizes the 1953 Armistice Agreement as the cornerstone of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.

The Korean War, in which the U.S. troops battled on the side of South Korea against North, ended in a truce in 1953. Since a peace treaty was not signed, North Korea technically remains at war with both the countries. The United States also said that it is prepared to take steps to increase people-to-people exchanges, including in the areas of culture, education, and sports. The State Department statement made it clear that U.S. sanctions against Pyongyang are not targeted against the livelihood of its people.

Once the six-party talks are resumed, priority will be given to the discussion of issues concerning the lifting of sanctions on the North and provision of light water reactors.

Both the countries affirmed that it is in mutual interest to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, improve the relations between the two sides, and push ahead with the denuclearization through dialogue and negotiations.

The crucial high-level meetings between the two delegations, led by US Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies and North Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, were held at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

by RTT Staff Writer

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