SEOUL: The head of the US Central Intelligence Agency, Michael Hayden, has said Washington does not recognise North Korea as a nuclear power because its first atomic bomb test last October was a failure.
The US position was made clear when Mr Hayden met South Korean Defence Minister Kim Jang-soo, the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported.
"The US does not recognise North Korea as a nuclear power, because its nuclear test last year was a failure," Mr Hayden was quoted by a South Korean military source as telling Mr Kim.
The source said Mr Hayden stressed the importance of exchanging intelligence on North Korea between Seoul and Washington. "The US has a large amount of intelligence on North Korea, and South Korea has many experts who understand well North Korean sentiments and culture," Mr Hayden was quoted as saying. "US-South Korean intelligence exchange is crucial to analyse North Korea's decisions."
Defence Ministry officials confirmed the Hayden-Kim meeting but refused to say what was discussed. And the US embassy would not comment on the CIA chief's visit.
US officials said last October that air samples had confirmed a nuclear test occurred but that the explosion yield was less than one kiloton. South Korean officials said they believed the test was only a partial success.
Mr Hayden arrived on Monday for a three-day visit, the Yonhap news agency said, and met senior intelligence officials to share information on North Korea's nuclear activities.
The CIA chief arrived from Tokyo and was due to leave for Beijing yesterday.
Six-party talks on scrapping the North's nuclear program have been under way since 2003. They group the US, China, the two Koreas, Russia and Japan.
Under a February 13 deal, the North should should shut down its plutonium-producing Yongbyon nuclear reactor and other plants by April 14 in exchange for energy aid and the unfreezing of its bank deposits.