U.S. cancels talks with North Korea

March 17, 1994|By New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON -- The United States yesterday canceled high-level talks with North Korea scheduled for next week and stepped up planning for military exercises with South Korea because of the North's refusal to permit international monitors to complete their inspection of a key nuclear installation.

The action brought Washington full-circle in its long negotiations over efforts to stop North Korea's suspected program to develop nuclear weapons.

When North Korea allowed international inspectors to visit its sites two weeks ago, the Clinton administration presented the move as a potential breakthrough.

But then North Korea refused to allow monitors to take some samples from its plutonium reprocessing plant at Yongbyon, 60 miles north of Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.

A South Korean official said there was only "a slim chance" that the North Koreans would relent.

Representatives to the International Atomic Energy Agency plan to take up the inspection issue Monday.

Administration officials said the agency's board of governors was expected to issue a final demand that Pyongyang allow the inspectors to return to finish their work.

If the North Koreans refuse, the board is likely to recommend that the matter be referred to the United Nations Security Council so it can consider imposing economic sanctions.

"This time the North went too far," an administration official said. "There are no more carrots."

U.S. and South Korean officials consulted yesterday on holding the joint military exercise the two countries customarily conduct in the spring to rehearse the defense of South Korea.

The exercise was suspended for this year on condition that the North Koreans allow the inspections to proceed and agree to an exchange of envoys with the South, neither of which has occurred.

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