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.