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News Briefs I

China Agrees to Stop Nuclear Tests

The Washington Post

China said Thursday that it will drop its insistence on carrying out "peaceful nuclear explosions," thus removing a major obstacle to the signing of a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty by the end of the month.

The move means that for the first time, all five declared nuclear powers - the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China - are on record as supporting a ban on all nuclear explosions, without loopholes.

Of all the declared nuclear powers, China has conducted the fewest nuclear explosions and, until now, had wanted to keep alive the possibility of conducting additional blasts under the "peaceful" explosions rubric. But China's request wound up angering many of its traditional allies in the developing world, which have favored a complete ban.

China's ambassador to Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Sha Zukang, said the treaty ban on "peaceful" blasts should be "temporary" and the issue should be reconsidered at a treaty review conference - generally expected in 10 years.

North Korea Gets $6 Million in Food

The Washington Post

The Clinton administration plans to grant an additional $6 million of food aid to North Korea to help avert a famine this summer that Washington fears might cause a massive exodus of refugees into South Korea, senior U.S. officials said Thursday.

The U.S. decision was made in the expectation - under a secret, informal arrangement worked out last month by a U.S. congressman - that North Korea will respond by making a concession regarding U.S.-proposed, multilateral talks aimed at finally forging a peace treaty for the Korean War. North Korea also is expected to move up the timing of a joint operation to recover the remains of U.S. forces who perished in that war, the officials said.

The administration's plan to assist the Communist regime in North Korea, at a time when that government is under serious economic strain, represents a direct political challenge to the Republicans. The GOP's presumptive presidential candidate, Sen. Robert J. Dole, of Kansas, has accused the administration of "coddling" and otherwise appeasing North Korea, and said that U.S. contacts should be conditioned on North Korea starting a bilateral dialogue with the South.

But U.S. officials said the recommendation for more food aid - even in the absence of such an inter-Korean dialogue - was made unanimously by senior administration officials and is slated for approval by President Clinton soon.

No Luck with New EU Beef Ban

Los Angeles Times

The European Union partly lifted a ban against British beef Wednesday, but the action failed to defuse Britain's "mad cow" war against its closest trading partners.

European Commission President Jacques Santer told community leaders in Brussels, Belgium, he hoped the action would lead Britain to abandon its policy of blocking all measures before EU bodies in protest against the ban. But the government of Prime Minister John Major indicated that the British offensive will continue until a full lifting of the export prohibitions.

British delegates have vetoed about 40 EU measures in the past 10 days. Most involved cooperative ventures that Britain openly backed before the beef war, which was sparked by suspicions - not proven - that the disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in British cattle may be linked to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal human brain illness.

Meeting in Brussels Wednesday, the 20-member European Commission voted to allow the export of bull semen and beef derivatives tallow and gelatin.