SEOUL, South Korea # North Korea says it is willing to halt its nuclear activities to get six-nation talks started again.
Pyongyang has called its offer “one more bold concession” aimed at resolving the standoff over its nuclear weapons programs.
North Korea would stop testing and producing nuclear weapons, as well as cease operating its nuclear power industry, the official North Korean state news service (KCNA) reported Tuesday.
In exchange for freezing its nuclear program, North Korea wants the United States to:
• Take Pyongyang off its terrorism list
• Lift political, economic and military sanctions
• Supply heavy oil, power and other energy resources
In the past, Washington has shot down similar proposals, saying it wants North Korea to begin dismantling its nuclear program, not just freeze it.
The nuclear dispute flared October 2002, when U.S. officials said North Korea admitted having a secret nuclear weapons program in violation of international agreements.
Representatives of six nations # the United States, China, Russia, Japan and the two Koreas # held talks in Beijing in August over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
But they failed to set a date for another round of talks. February appears to be the soonest another round of talks could be held.
In the months since the initial talks, North Korea has indicated it could consider U.S. President George W. Bush’s offer of written security guarantees to end tensions over its nuclear weapons development.
North Korea previously insisted it needed a formal nonaggression treaty signed by the U.S. before it would back away from its nuclear program.
“This stance is prompted by the expectation that the DPRK and the U.S. can build confidence and lay a foundation of co-existence in the course of solving issues one after another on the principle of simultaneous actions,” the latest statement said.
Washington has labeled North Korea part of an “axis of evil,” along with Iraq and Iran, and is demanding the communist state shut down its nuclear program immediately.
Late last week North Korea said it might welcome a U.S. delegation to visit its Yongbyon nuclear facility, which the U. S. suspects is being used for nuclear weapons production.
The delegation includes Sig Hecker, former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Professor John W. Lewis of Stanford University.
A senior U.S. official said Jack Pritchard of the Brookings Institution and at least two congressional staffers will also be in the group.
“They are going to North Korea independent of the administration,” State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said.