No more oil aid for N Korea


South Korea has pressed North Korea to scrap its suspected nuclear programme, welcoming a decision by the US and its allies to stop deliveries of oil to its impoverished neighbour.

Diplomats from South Korea, the US, the European Union and Japan agreed that a 42,000 tonne shipment of fuel, currently on its way to North Korea, should be the last.

The US had called for the aid to be stopped, unless the Communist regime dismantled its alleged nuclear weapons programme.

South Korea and Japan had both argued for continuing the fuel shipments over the winter, and analysts say they faced several weeks of pressure from the US over the issue.

But on Friday South Korea said it was “quite united” with its allies and “pleased” with the decision to cut off supplies.

“I hope this message will be heard by North Korea,” a senior government official told reporters.

The South Korea Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Tae-shik said the government would continue to holds talks with Pyongyang.


The fuel decision was announced as the allies met in New York as part of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisation (Kedo), which administers a 1994 accord designed to limit North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

Under the plan, North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear programme in return for 500,000 tonnes of fuel oil a year in aid.

Washington considers that Pyongyang nullified the 1994 pact, after confessing to a US envoy last month that it was trying to build nuclear weapons with enriched uranium.

“Future (oil) shipments will depend on North Korea’s concrete and credible actions to dismantle completely its highly enriched uranium programme,” said the Kedo statement.

North Korea says it will only scrap its nuclear programme if the US signs a non-aggression treaty.

Both South Korea and Japan have expressed doubts that stopping oil deliveries would persuade North Korea to terminate its nuclear weapons programme.

They fear it would instead lead to a revival of an earlier, plutonium-based nuclear programme.


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