TOKYO (AFP-24/4/2008)-–U.S. chief nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill said North Korea and Syria were no longer cooperating in nuclear work despite the U.S. administration’s allegations of help on a secret reactor.
President George W. Bush’s administration went public Thursday with video they said showed that a nuclear reactor in Syria built with North Korea for military purposes was nearing completion when Israel destroyed it in September.
The U.S. accusations came a day after North Korea sounded upbeat after a long stalemate in implementing a six-nation deal negotiated by Hill on ending the communist state’s nuclear drive.
Hill, speaking Thursday in New Haven, Connecticut, suggested that such North Korean activities with Syria were in the past.
"It is the judgment of the United States that there is not an ongoing cooperation with Syria in this area," Hill told reporters in footage broadcast Friday on Japanese television.
"We will deal with this issue as we do with many other issues in the six parties," Hill said.
U.S. lawmakers after being briefed on the administration’s allegations said that developments could wreck the six-nation deal, hailed last year as a breakthrough by the Bush administration.
U.S. media have suggested the timing of the Syria allegations could be an effort by conservatives within the Bush administration unhappy with Hill to bring down the deal which they see as too weak.
The six-party deal last year would grant North Korea energy aid and major diplomatic and security benefits in return for full denuclearization.
But the talks have been stalled over the requirement that the North declare all its nuclear activities by the end of 2007. The North said it delivered the documentation last November but the US said it was incomplete.
Hill, in talks over the deal with his North Korean counterpart earlier this month in Singapore, reportedly offered to allow Pyongyang to keep private its reply to certain US allegations, including over cooperation with Syria, while publicly responding on other areas.
The six-party talks group the two Koreas, the U.S., Russia, Japan and China.