N.K. diplomat dismisses reports of nuclear ties with Syria as ‘groundless’

Posted on : 2007-09-16 18:36 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST

A senior North Korean diplomat on Saturday denied continuing allegations of his country's nuclear cooperation with Syria.

"They often say things that are groundless," Kim Myong-gil, deputy chief of North Korean mission to the United Nations, told Yonhap over the phone, the first comment by a Pyongyang official on fresh allegations that broke out this week.

When asked to elaborate, he answered that he had nothing more to say and hung up the phone.

As six nations get ready to start critical talks on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, suspicions were raised that Pyongyang may be working with Damascus on nuclear programs, following an unexplained Israeli air raid on Syria on Sept. 6.

Press reports said the raid may have targeted a facility where nuclear cooperation taking place.

The Washington Post, citing a U.S. expert who talked to Israeli officials, said Saturday that the attack appears to be linked to the arrival of a ship carrying material from North Korea labeled as cement.

Washington has yet to confirm or deny the reports.

Christopher Hill, top U.S. nuclear envoy, evaded all questions about the new suspicions and said the six-nation negotiations should provide the answers.

Under a deal struck in February by the six parties -- South and North Korea, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan -- Pyongyang is required to disable its nuclear facilities and declare all of its nuclear programs.

In a briefing Friday, Hill said the involved countries "need to know what all of their (North Korean) programs are, and obviously any proliferation.

"So at the end of all this, we would expect to have a pretty clear idea of whether they've engaged in proliferation in other countries."

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 (Yonhap)

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