U.S. President George Bush says he
is ready to lift some sanctions against North Korea and drop it from
the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, after Pyongyang submitted
a long-awaited declaration on its nuclear activities. VOA's Paula
Wolfson reports from the White House.
President Bush says multilateral negotiations with North Korea on the
nuclear issue have always been based on the premise of action for
He says, now that Pyongyang has submitted its nuclear declaration, the United States is living up to its end of the bargain.
"I am issuing a proclamation that lifts the provisions of the Trading
With the Enemy Act with respect to North Korea," the president said.
"And secondly, I am notifying Congress of my intent to rescind North
Korea's designation as a state sponsor of terror in 45 days."
But the president stresses he has no illusions about the nature of the
North Korean regime, and he makes clear he remains suspicious of its
He says North Korea has much more to do, adding the declaration is the first step in a long journey.
"It must dismantle all of its nuclear facilities, give up its separated
plutonium, resolve outstanding questions on its highly enriched uranium
and proliferation activities and end these activities in a way that we
can fully verify," Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Bush notes Pyongyang's intention to destroy the cooling tower of
its Yongbyon nuclear reactor on Friday in front of television
cameras. He says North Korea is making good choices at the present
time, and urges the government of Kim Jung Il to stay on that path.
"This can be a moment of opportunity for North Korea. If North Korea
continues to make the right choices, it can repair its relationship
with the international community, much as Libya has done over the past
few years. If North Korea makes the wrong choices, the United States
and our partners in the six-party talks will respond accordingly," he
The president spoke during a hastily arranged appearance in the White
House Rose Garden. Under questioning from reporters, he strongly
defended the multilateral diplomatic approach he has taken in dealing
with North Korea - which he once declared part of an "axis of evil."
He said direct negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang did not
work, and he realized the only way to get results was to work together
with China, South Korea, Russia and Japan in the so-called six-party
"We have worked hard to put multilateral diplomacy in place, because,
the United States sitting down with Kim Jung Il did not work in the
past," the president said. "Sitting alone at the table just didn't
Critics say the declaration provided by North Korea falls short of the
Bush administration's original demands. It does not, for example, give
a detailed accounting of Pyongyang's nuclear weapons arsenal.
White House National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley says the
declaration does, however, meet an administration priority by detailing
"It is the plutonium program that produced plutonium that was in the
weapons that North Korea tested in 2006. And it is the plutonium
infrastructure that, if it is not dismantled, can churn out additional
nuclear materials for nuclear weapons," Hadley said.
Hadley says getting the facts about the plutonium program and getting
the infrastructure dismantled, is essential. He says the declaration
hopefully provides an opening that will ultimately allow other concerns
- such as proliferation - to be addressed in a timely cooperative
The president's national security advisor also underscores the
administration's ongoing skepticism about Pyongyang's intentions. He
says North Korea must understand sanctions can be reimposed or even
increased if it opts for confrontation in the future.