US envoy says NKorea nuclear talks hit stalemate - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

US envoy says NKorea nuclear talks hit stalemate

U.S. nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill U.S. nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill

BEIJING (AP) - The latest round of talks on ending North Korea's nuclear programs have hit a wall, the U.S. envoy to the discussions said Wednesday.

Christopher Hill said the talks with envoys from North Korea and four other nations made no progress on the tricky issue of verifying the country's accounting of its past atomic activities, a major step in the disarmament process.

"It's not trending in the right direction," Hill told reporters. "In terms of coming up with a verification agreement, we don't seem to be narrowing differences."

Host China distributed a draft agreement to teams from the five other countries involved in the talks - Japan, North Korea, South Korea, the United States and Russia - but delegates were not able to agree, Hill said without going into details.

North Korea has been refusing to agree to let outside inspectors take samples - a key method of ensuring that the communist regime is being truthful - from its main nuclear complex at Yongbyon.

"We tried to discuss the Chinese draft and we had some real difficulties getting consensus on moving forward," Hill said.

He described Wednesday as "a tough, long day."

The six-party talks have taken place in fits and starts since 2003. In 2006, North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test. In 2007, Pyongyang agreed to a disarmament-for-aid pact, but the disarmament process stalled in August amid a standoff with the U.S. over verification.

The talks are also looking at setting a schedule for delivery of the remaining fuel oil aid to the impoverished country and determining a timetable for disabling its nuclear facilities.

North Korea submitted an inventory of its past activities in June. U.S. officials said North Korea agreed previously to allow experts to take samples and conduct forensic tests at all of its declared nuclear facilities and undeclared sites.

But Pyongyang says it agreed only to let nuclear inspectors visit its main atomic complex, view related documents and interview scientists - and said it would not allow outside inspectors to take samples.              

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)      

Powered by Frankly