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Electricity Not Owed, U.S. Asserts

June 19,2001
WASHINGTON - The United States announced Monday that it could not accede to the proposal made by the North Korean Foreign Ministry to take up the provision of electricity to the North as a top agenda item in negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.

The United States had promised the construction of two light-water reactors to the North by 2003 in return for a nuclear freeze as laid out in the 1994 Geneva Agreed Framework. But the construction is years behind schedule, and Pyongyang claimed Monday that the United States should provide electricity to compensate for the power losses incurred by the delay.

Richard Boucher, spokesman for the U.S. Department of State, said that the United States has abided by and will continue to adhere to the responsibilities of the Geneva agreement. But he ex-plained that the administration could find no reason to compensate North Korea for its energy shortage and that he hoped the North would stick to its side of the agreement as the International Atomic Energy Agency's inspection of North Korea's nuclear facilities nears.

Washington argues that the North's own lack of cooperation in forging working-level agreements and the intrusion of a North Korean submarine into South Korea's East Sea (Sea of Japan) have slowed down the construction. U.S. government officials also note the absence of any mention in the agreement of compensation for delay in the construction of the reactors, whatever the cause may have been.

Mr. Boucher, nonetheless, made clear the Bush administration's expectations for the resumption of dialogue between the two sides, as was expressed during its contact with the North Korean representative office in New York last Wednesday.

Experts opine that a war of nerves between the North and the United States is under way. But Washington government circles contend that the North's response to its appeal for talks manifests substantial willingness to resume dialogue.

"Both the United States and North Korea do not seem to set acceptance of their agenda of preference as preconditions to negotiations," said a diplomatic source.

by Kim Jin




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