From: Reuters
Published December 31, 2007 11:01 AM

N.Korea misses nuclear declaration deadline: U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea has missed a year-end deadline to provide a full account of its nuclear weapons program under a disarmament-for-aid deal, a U.S. official said on Monday.

"There has been no last-minute change," said State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey after the target of midnight North Korean time 10 a.m EST(/1500 GMT) had passed.

The United States and allies South Korea and Japan had issued coordinated statements on Sunday lamenting the North's failure to deliver the expected declaration.

"It's unfortunate, but we are going to keep on working on this," Casey told reporters. He said he expected consultations in the coming days among the six parties to the nuclear deal.

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"The important thing is not whether we have the declaration by today," said Casey. "The important thing is that we get a declaration that meets the requirement of the agreement, which means it needs to be full and complete."

The secretive communist state, which tested a nuclear weapon in October 2006 and may have enough fissile material for as many as eight bombs, gave no explanation for why it let the deadline pass, the official said.

North Korea reached a deal in February with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States to disable its plutonium-producing nuclear plant and release an inventory of its atomic activities by the end of 2007 in exchange for aid.

Officials from the United States and its ally South Korea had in late December begun suggesting that the December 31 target might not be met. Analysts said Pyongyang's unwillingness to address U.S. suspicions it had a secret program to enrich uranium for weapons might be behind the delay.

(Reporting by Paul Eckert, editing by Patricia Wilson)

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