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US, S Korea to discuss N Korea nuclear programme

Senior US and South Korean officials will hold talks on Wednesday on North Korea`s newly disclosed uranium enrichment programme and possible sanctions, the foreign ministry said.



Seoul: Senior US and South Korean
officials will hold talks on Wednesday on North Korea`s newly
disclosed uranium enrichment programme and possible sanctions,
the foreign ministry said.

Robert Einhorn, the State Department`s special adviser
for nonproliferation and arms control, will meet Wi Sung-Lac,
South Korea`s chief envoy to stalled six-party talks on the
North`s nuclear disarmament.
Einhorn arrived yesterday for a four-day visit,
leading a team of US officials who will continue discussions
on a new civilian nuclear cooperation agreement between Seoul
and Washington.

"During his visit here, North Korea`s uranium
enrichment programme and the issue of imposing sanctions
against the North will also be discussed," a foreign ministry
spokesman told AFP.

The North`s main ally China last month blocked
publication of a UN report criticising the uranium programme
disclosed last November. It could give Pyongyang a new way to
build nuclear weapons, in addition to its plutonium-based
programme.

The panel report calls for tougher implementation of
sanctions, according to diplomats.

South Korea wants the UN Security Council to address
the uranium programme before any attempts to revive six-party
talks. It describes the enrichment as a new violation of UN
sanctions imposed following atomic tests in 2006 and 2009.
China has been trying to revive the six-party talks,
which include Russia, the United States, Japan and the two
Koreas and were last held in December 2008. It says the
uranium programme should be handled at that forum.

South Korea has no nuclear weapons but relies on
nuclear power plants to generate 30 percent of its
electricity.

A 1974 nuclear cooperation accord with the US which
expires in 2014 prevents South Korea from reprocessing fuel
from its civilian plants.

But the South now has a radioactive waste stockpile of
10,800 tonnes and is running out of storage space.

The two sides are holding a second round of talks on
rewriting the nuclear cooperation pact, after previous
discussions in Washington last October.

At those talks the two sides agreed to launch joint
research into Seoul`s demand to adopt "pyroprocessing"
technology, considered by some to be less conducive to
proliferation.

PTI

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