North Korea does not appear to be rebuilding its main nuclear facility even though it has begun moving around equipment that had previously been stored, the US State Department said Wednesday. ( dpa )
Nevertheless, the United States was dispatching a senior envoy to China for consultations following reports of North Korean activity at the Yongbyon nuclear facility, which was disabled as part of a disarmament agreement.
US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill will depart Thursday for Beijing for the discussion with his Chinese counterparts.
"Based on what we know from the reports on the ground, you don't have an effort to reconstruct - reintegrate this equipment back into the Yongbyon facility," McCormack said "It has been taken out of where it was being stored, I guess is the best way to put it at this point."
The White House called the development "troubling." McCormack added that the disarmament process has stalled.
North Korea must still agree to a verification process called for in the six-nation deal to ensure Pyongyang's statements about its previous nuclear work are accurate and that it is truly abandoning its nuclear programme, McCormack said.
" North Korea knows what it needs to do," McCormack said. "It needs to complete work on the verification regime. And once those things are done, the process can move forward. We are prepared to fully meet our obligations as well."
North Korea suspended the process in August because Washington had not removed the Stalinist country from the State Department's terrorism blacklist. The United States maintains North Korea must first agree to a verification process before Pyongyang is removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
President George W Bush announced in June the United States will move to take North Korea off the list after the legally required 45- day waiting period ended in August. But the lack of the verification agreement has delayed that process.
The six nations in the deal include China, Japan, Russia, the United States and two Koreas.