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North Korea demand casts doubt over nuclear arms deal

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North Korea demand casts doubt over nuclear arms deal

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North Korea has thrown a historic deal on dismantling its nuclear program into doubt by refusing to relinquish its nuclear weapons until Washington gives it civilian atomic reactors.

Pyongyang’s apparent back-tracking, coming only a day after the deal was signed, has annoyed Washington and Tokyo. The six-party deal on winding up North Korea’s nuclear program had seemed to resolve a long-running stand-off. Now Japan is furious. Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura told reporters: “We agreed at the talks to address the light-water nuclear reactor issue only after North Korea returned to its obligations under the non-proliferation treaty with the International Atomic Energy Agency. In view of this, North Korea’s comments are unacceptable.” The Beijing talks involved North Korea with its immediate neighbours: South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and the United States. Initial reaction to the accord had been upbeat. Pyongyang appeared to renounce its nuclear weapons program in exchange for aid and security guarantees. But in a statement issued later it said it would insist on receiving light-water reactors for civilian use first. Washington says the latest statement does not match the six-nation accord. But one US official said the statement could be just bluster. South Korea too said the North’s statement did not mean the deal was dead.