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Syria nuke ties report a conspiracy: Pyongyang
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10:19, September 19, 2007

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The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) said yesterday recent media reports that it may be providing help to Syria's nuclear activities were a groundless conspiracy fabricated by those who oppose the DPRK's improving ties with Washington.

The Washington Post reported last week that intelligence had led some US officials to believe Syria was receiving help from Pyongyang on some sort of nuclear facility. The New York Times ran a similar report.

"This is sheer misinformation," the DPRK's official KCNA news agency quoted an unnamed Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying, referring to the reports.

The DPRK made a pledge in October 2006 not to engage in nuclear proliferation and it still stood, the spokesman said.

The DPRK last week hosted a team of nuclear officials and experts who made a rare road trip to Pyongyang and to the country's main nuclear complex at Yongbyon north of the capital in what was seen as a gesture to improve ties with the United States.

The DPRK has suspended operation of the Yongbyon complex under a February deal in return for 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil from the Republic of Korea (ROK). It is set to receive an additional 950,000 tons by taking further disarmament steps this year.

"The DPRK never makes an empty talk but always tells truth," the Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

"The above-said story is nothing but a clumsy plot hatched by dishonest forces who do not like to see any progress at the Six-Party Talks and in DPRK-US relations."

US President George W. Bush, who once lumped the DPRK with Iran and pre-war Iraq as members of an "axis of evil," has offered a peace treaty with the DPRK if Pyongyang completes nuclear disarmament.

The ROK said on Monday a new round of the Six-Party Talks would not be held today as widely expected.

ROK officials have declined to confirm speculation that Pyongyang was upset by reports about its ties to Syrian nuclear activities or failure by China to ship heavy fuel oil under the February pact.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said yesterday its shipments of fuel oil were under way, with the first having arrived in the DPRK port of Nampo on Sunday.

"China's oil aid plan is currently being put in place, and we hope it will be completed soon," Jiang Yu told a briefing.

China has promised to provide 50,000 tons of heavy oil to the country, Jiang said, adding that China has been discussing with its partners when to hold the next round of the Six-Party Talks.

"It is necessary to resume the Six-Party Talks at a proper time and we are discussing with other parties about it," she said.

Israel has refused to comment on what US officials and diplomatic sources have described in news reports as an air raid inside Syria this month that may have targeted weapons headed for Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon or a suspected nuclear site.

Syria said it could retaliate for the September 6 violation of its territory and has denied reports that Damascus may have received DPRK nuclear aid.

Source: China Daily/agencies

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