The United States has reached an agreement with North Korea to resume
implementation of the six-party accord to end that country's nuclear
weapons program. The Bush administration said Saturday it is removing
North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism in return for
new assurances from Pyongyang on verifying its nuclear activities.
VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
agreement, the product of weeks of high-level diplomacy, ends a dispute
over verification that threatened to scuttle the deal under which
Pyongyang is to scrap its nuclear program for aid and diplomatic
Bush administration officials say that as a result of
the talks, including a Pyongyang visit by chief U.S. delegate
Christopher Hill a week ago, North Korea has agreed to a series of
measures that represent "significant cooperation" in verifying the
declaration of its nuclear program made in June.
Department spokesman Sean McCormack says the deal means Pyongyang is
being removed from the U.S. terrorism blacklist, and North Korea in
turn will reverse steps it has taken recently toward restarting its
disabled Yongbyon reactor complex.
"The secretary of state this
morning rescinded the designation of the DPRK as a state sponsor of
terrorism, and that was effective with her signature. North Korea has
stated it will resume disablement of its nuclear facilities. This
demonstrates that the six-party principle of action-for-action is
working," he said.
North Korea had accused the United States of
reneging on a promise to remove it from the terrorism list when it made
its declaration June 26. The United States said delisting was always
dependent on Pyongyang providing an acceptable verification plan.
officials who briefed reporters said the agreed verification plan - to
be adopted by all six parties to the negotiations at a Beijing meeting
in a few weeks - includes all terms, among them visits to undeclared
North Korean nuclear sites, that the United States sought from the
Critics of the Bush administration, among them former
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, have accused the
State Department of softening verification demands to try to keep the
nuclear deal afloat and claim a foreign policy triumph.
There were similar comments Friday from Republican Presidential candidate John McCain.
said the deal achieved "every single element" of the administration
verification agenda, which he said was driven not by domestic political
considerations but U.S. national interests.
and the president wouldn't take these kinds of decisions if they didn't
think that these decisions would help us - the United States -
ultimately get to the goal of de-nuclearizing the Korean peninsula.
Again, without compromising on principle," he said.
McCain and others have also suggested that removing North Korea from
the terrorism list undercuts Japan, which has been pressing Pyongyang
to account for a number of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea in
the 1970s and 80s.
McCormack said the United States
"wholeheartedly" supports Japan's position on the abduction issue and
will never forget the suffering of the Japanese victims and their
He noted that even after terrorism-related sanctions
against North Korea are lifted, it remains subject to numerous
sanctions related to its 2006 nuclear weapons test, proliferation
activity, and human rights record.
The White House said
President Bush made the same points in a telephone call to Japanese
Prime Minister Taro Aso Saturday morning.
presidential candidate Barak Obama, in a written statement, called the
agreement a modest step forward. He said the decision to remove North
Korea from the terrorism list is an appropriate response, as long as
there is a clear understanding that if Pyongyang fails to follow
through on its obligations there will be "immediate consequences."