The United States will consider holding further talks with North Korea but Pyongyang must halt its uranium enrichment programme before full disarmament negotiations resume, a senior US official said Tuesday.
“They have not yet made all of the commitments they need to, including on ending their uranium enrichment programme,” Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman told reporters in South Korea.
The North is calling for an unconditional resumption of the six-party nuclear disarmament talks which it abandoned in April 2009, one month before staging a second atomic weapons test.
Washington and its allies insist that Pyongyang must first show its seriousness about the negotiations which began in 2003, notably by shutting down the uranium programme first disclosed one year ago.
The North says the plant is part of a civilian energy programme but scientists say it could easily be reconfigured to make nuclear weapons.
The six-party talks group China, the two Koreas, Japan, the US and Russia.
Since July South Korea and the United States have each held two rounds of bilateral talks with the North to try to pave the way for a six-party resumption. No major breakthroughs were reported.
Asked about the prospect of more bilateral talks, Sherman said the US “will certainly look at that” if it is considered useful.
“But, right now the responsibility is with North Korea to meet the requirements that have been laid out very clearly in order to ensure the six-party talks might resume again,” she said.