The US is not rulling out possibilities of putting back North Korea on the list of states sponsoring terrorism, a senior official has said.
"I suppose these things are always possible," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Wednesday here at a media briefing, when asked whether North Korea would be added to the list of states sponsoring terrorism if the communisty country backtracks from its committment to denuclearisation.
"I don't know the ins and outs of the law, but I think that it's based on behaviour. And we'll see what behaviour North Korea engages in," said the spokesman.
The six nations - the US, Japan, Russia, China and two Koreas - involved in negotiations to persuade Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear programme, ended a third day of talks in Beijing without making any progress on the verification of North Korea's nuclear programme.
"I can't say there is any breakthrough," Chief US Negotiator Christopher Hill told reporters Wednesday evening in Beijing, adding that it was not trending in the right direction. "In terms of coming up with a verification agreement, we don't seem to be narrowing differences."
Under an agreement reached at the six-party talks in February 2007, North Korea agreed to abandon all nuclear weapons and promised to declare all its nuclear programmes and facilities by the end of 2007. In return, the country would get diplomatic and economic incentives, including its removal from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism.
After its nuclear envoy Hill paid a three-day visit to Pyongyang in early October and struck a verification deal with the North Korea to save the stalled six-party talks, the Bush administration dropped the country from the list on Oct 11.
But the two countries have disputed over the verification issue, with the US seeking nuclear inspectors to take samples away from the facilities as per the deal reached, and North Korea insisting that it never reached such accord with the US.
"They have a unique way of doing business. And we're not going to play into their way of doing business. We know what was agreed. We have it on paper. We have a solid understanding of it," said McCormack.
"Other countries within the six-party talks share that understanding. And we'll see if North Korea will now take final step. And if they don't, then potentially you go down another pathway," he said, adding, "We're equally prepared to do both."
"The act of taking them off the state sponsor of terror list was based on fact, was based on the law. The law is very explicit about what gets you on the list and what gets you off the list. There's no cutting corners. You either meet the requirements or you don't," McCormack said.