North Korea calls for six-party talks without preconditions

North Korea is renewing its call for the resumption of multi-nation talks on its nuclear program without preconditions, the Voice of America reports.
Pyongyang’s first vice foreign minister, Kim Kye Gwan, made the comments Wednesday at a forum in Beijing marking the 10th anniversary of the six-party nuclear talks. The North abandoned the talks in 2009 and has since conducted two nuclear tests, prompting expanded United Nations sanctions. The United States has ruled out the talks’ resumption unless Pyongyang shows a willingness to give up its nuclear program. But Kim, the North’s chief nuclear envoy, said attaching such preconditions causes “mistrust.” He blamed Washington’s “hostility toward North Korea” for increased tensions. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also said that “all parties should be devoted to restarting the six-party talks.”
The six-party talks involved North Korea, South Korea, the U.S., Japan, China, and Russia and were aimed at getting the North to abandon its nuclear program in exchange for aid. The comments follow fresh signs that North Korea has made good on a recent pledge to expand its nuclear weapons program.
The U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said last week that the North has likely restarted a shuttered plutonium reactor at its main Yongbyon nuclear complex. It based this conclusion on recent satellite photos that appear to show white steam emerging from a building near the reactor. The reactor was shut down in 2007 under an aid-for-disarmament deal worked out under the six-nation process, but Pyongyang warned in April that it would restart all operations at Yongbyon to boost its nuclear arsenal in terms of both “quantity and quality.”
Pyongyang conducted its third nuclear test in February. The United Nations responded by expanding sanctions against the North, which proceeded to launch weeks of angry war threats against the United States and South Korea.
North Korea has since reduced its war-like rhetoric and reached several deals on cross-border projects with the South.

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