North Korea Expected to Miss Nuclear Deal Deadline

North Korea Expected to Miss Nuclear Deal Deadline

SEOUL, South Korea -- Time is running out for North Korea to make good on a pledge to denuclearize. In October, Pyongyang agreed to disable its main nuclear reactor and provide a complete declaration of all components of its atomic weapons program by Dec. 31. Now it appears unlikely that the Kim regime will meet the deadline.

The timetable was set during the last official round of the six-party talks among North and South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia and China. In return for abandoning its nuclear arsenal, Pyongyang was promised energy and economic assistance as well as removal from Washington's list of state sponsors of terrorism, which would open the door for relief from international organizations such as the World Bank, as well as for the establishment of diplomatic relations with the United States.

At the time, setting a fixed deadline was seen as a breakthrough in the talks, which have suffered a series of ups and downs since they began in 2003. But doubts about North Korea's willingness to meet the deadline began to surface in early December after Under Secretary of State Christopher Hill visited Pyongyang. Washington's top envoy to North Korea returned home saying that considerable "differences" remained regarding the steps toward denuclearization.

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