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Pressure rises on Pyongyang

A satellite image of a nuclear reactor site in Yongbyon, North Korea.
A satellite image of a nuclear reactor site in Yongbyon, North Korea.

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• Analysis: What are the options?
• Six-nation talks: Where they stand
• Interactive: N. Korea military might
• Timeline: Nuclear development
• Interactive: The nuclear club
• Satellite image: Nuclear facility
• Special report: Nuclear crisis
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(CNN) -- Japan, the United States and South Korea will demand that North Korea completely dismantle its nuclear facilities at the next round of six-nation talks, a Japanese newspaper says.

Quoting Japanese government sources, the Yomiuri newspaper said Saturday the three nations would not allow North Korea to operate nuclear facilities even for peaceful purposes, so long as Kim Jong Il remains in power.

The Yomiuri report adds to the presure on North Korea, which in October 2002 admitted having a secret nuclear weapons program in violation of international agreements, U.S. officials say.

The country, led by the reclusive Kim, is believed by the United States to already have one or two nuclear bombs.

In 2002, U.S. President George W. Bush called North Korea part of an "axis of evil" with Iraq and Iran, and has demanded the government end its nuclear program.

Inconclusive six-way talks on dismantling the North's nuclear program were held in Beijing in August, involving the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, China and Russia.

More talks are planned this year, but while late January has been suggested, no firm date has been set.

An unofficial U.S. delegation may visit North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear facility next week.

North Korea has said it is willing to consider a Washington offer of a written pledge not to attack it in return for scrapping its nuclear weapons program.

According to the report in the Yomiuri, a senior Foreign Ministry official said: "As long as there is fear that North Korean facilities might be used for military purposes, we can't tolerate any nuclear facilities, not even those operated for peaceful purposes."

The three governments will only consider providing aid to build thermal power plants, the sources said.

According to the sources, Japan, the United States and South Korea reached a basic agreement that North Korea should not be allowed to use nuclear energy even for peaceful purposes as long as Kim Jong Il leads the country.

The agreement was made at meetings of foreign ministry bureau chiefs and equivalent officials of the three countries in September and December, and on other occasions.

Reuters news agency reported that Japanese Foreign Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.

South Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade declined to confirm the report.

"It would be inappropriate for us to comment on any details as we're still in negotiations. We would like to keep our cards hidden," a spokesperson told Reuters.

Under a 1994 agreement with the United States, North Korea promised to dismantle its Yongbyon nuclear reactor in exchange for two light-water reactors provided by the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization.

But in late 2002 Pyongyang expelled United Nations monitors and announced that it had resumed operation of the nuclear reactor.

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