Beijing nuclear talks end amid US accusations

NUCLEAR talks in Beijing ended yesterday after US officials said North Korea claimed to have nuclear weapons and might test, export or use them.

Pyongyang said it presented a new proposal to resolve the dispute, but it was ignored. US officials have said they are seeking the verifiable and irreversible elimination of the North’s nuclear weapons program.

Despite the apparent impasse, both sides agreed to meet again, according to China’s Foreign Ministry, which hosted the meeting.

“Both of them expressed that the issue should be resolved peacefully,” China’s foreign minister Li Zhaoxing told reporters while accompanying the visiting French prime minister.

South Korean officials said they were looking into the alleged North Korean claims about its nuclear capability.

Some analysts suggested that Pyongyang was bluffing.

North Korean delegate Ri Gun told US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly North Korea had reprocessed all 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods in its possession, a senior US official in Washington said.

If the North’s alleged claims of reprocessing are true, that would put it much closer to building six to eight additional weapons beyond the one or two it is believed to have.

A US official said on Thursday night it was doubtful the North Koreans have reprocessed or made significant progress in reprocessing.

Large-scale reprocessing probably would be detectable via satellite photos, the official said.

China said the talks ended with handshakes and a commitment by all parties to arrange further talks through diplomatic channels.

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