CBSN

Powell: North Korea Made Us An Offer

North Korea nuclear weapons atomic radioactive nukes US flag
AP / CBS
The Bush administration is reviewing a North Korean proposal designed to allay U.S. concerns about its nuclear weapons and missile programs, Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday.

Powell told reporters that Pyongyang wanted something "considerable" in return, but he provided no details about the exchange in Beijing last week.

Powell said last week's talks were useful, because the U.S. and North Korea were able to get their positions out on the table, reports CBS News Correspondent Charles Wolfson.

"They did put forward a plan that would ultimately deal with their nuclear capability and their missile activities, but they of course expect something considerable in return," Powell said.

Administration officials said last week that during the talks, North Korea threatened to test nuclear weapons.

But Powell said that at no point in the three-way talks with the United States and China did North Korea "ever use the word test."

At the same time, he dismissed reports that U.S. intelligence had detected North Korea beginning to reprocess fuel rods and that the State Department did not share the information with other branches of the U.S. government.

"Nonsense," Powell said at an impromptu news conference outside the State Department.

He said U.S. intelligence "cannot give us any validation" of North Korea's reprocessing activities but he does not think the information available to the United States "was anything new or different.

"The North Koreans acknowledged a number of things that they were doing, and, in effect, said these are now up for further discussion," he added.

Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, who led the U.S. delegation and then reported on the talks to Japan and South Korea, is providing details of the three days of meetings to senior Bush administration officials, Powell said.

U.S. officials have said they were seeking the "verifiable and irreversible" elimination of North Korea's nuclear program.

North Korea has pushed Washington for a nonaggression treaty and accuses the United States of planning an invasion after the Iraq war.

North Korea told South Korea earlier on Monday that it should not meddle in a standoff over the communist North's suspected nuclear weapons, calling it a dispute between itself and Washington.

In a second day of Cabinet-level talks in Pyongyang, South Korean delegates again demanded that North Korea abandon any atomic weapons development, citing a 1992 agreement to keep the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free.

The North refused to discuss the nuclear issue.

"The Northern side reiterated that the nuclear issue is a matter between the North and the United States," said a statement from the South Korean government. "But they said they wanted to resolve the matter peacefully."