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N. KOREA WILL RECEIVE REACTOR ONLY IF INSPECTIONS ARE ALLOWED

SHARE N. KOREA WILL RECEIVE REACTOR ONLY IF INSPECTIONS ARE ALLOWED

North Korea must allow inspections of all its nuclear sites if it wants to receive a modern nuclear reactor, the U.S. and South Korean presidents reasserted today.

"They fully agreed that only when North Korea fully guarantees the transparency of its nuclear program will it receive a light-water reactor," presidential spokesman Choo Donshik said.During a 40-minute telephone conversation with President Kim Young-sam, President Clinton spoke highly of the U.S.-North Korea talks held in Geneva last week, Choo said.

A White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the telephone call took place but had no details.

Kim reaffirmed that Seoul was willing to fund a new reactor for the North to encourage the isolated Communist state to begin reforms, Choo said.

But Vice Prime Minister Lee Hong-koo said the United States and Japan should also help pay for the reactor.

"The North Korean nuclear problem is not just a Korean issue, but an international problem," Lee said at a news briefing.

He did not say how the cost should be divided.

On Monday, Kim offered to give the North a $2 billion light-water reactor if the Communist country proves it has not been making nuclear weapons.

The light-water reactor produces less plutonium, a main ingredient in making nuclear weapons, than North Korea's graphite-based reactor does. North Korea has said it will shut off its current reactor if it receives a new one.

The agreement could help to settle the 18-month-old controversy over the North's refusal to permit unfettered inspections of its nuclear program.