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Critics of US-North Korea Nuclear Deal  Say US Concedes Too Much


For many, this weekend's nuclear compromise between the United States and North Korea brought a sigh of relief that a six nation diplomatic process could be salvaged. But the deal has critics, both in the United States and Japan. VOA's Kurt Achin has more from Seoul.

One of the harshest critics of the nuclear compromise between North Korea and the United States is former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.

"I think it's a really bad deal for the United States... it's going to have negative consequences, not just in Northeast Asia, but around the world," he said.

The Bush Administration announced Saturday it would remove North Korea from a State Department list of nations believed to sponsor terrorism. In exchange, North Korea has agreed to steps for verifying the truthfulness of a nuclear declaration it submitted this year.

However, access by international inspectors is limited to "declared sites"-- mainly related to the North's main nuclear plant at Yongbyon. "Undeclared" sites can only be inspected if North Korea consents on a case-by-case basis.

Bolton says the agreement hands Pyongyang a politically valuable victory and gets very little informational value in return.

"The issue on verification has always been the rest of their program," said Bolton. "Where are their weapons? Where is the rest of their plutonium? Where is their uranium enrichment program? What have they done in terms of outward proliferation? And we got essentially nothing new on that other than a commitment to keep negotiating."

Many Japanese are disappointed with the deal for a different reason. Tanaguchi Tomohiko, now a scholar at Tokyo's Keio University, was until recently a spokesman for the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

"The decision to de-list Pyongyang was ... a horrible blow, without doubt, to family members desperately seeking to get back their loved ones," he said.

North Korea has admitted kidnapping 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970's and 80's. It returned five, and said the other eight were dead. Tokyo, however, believes a number of abductees may still be alive in the North. Japan saw the U.S. terror list as part of its leverage with Pyongyang on the issue, and said North Korea should stay on it until it provided more cooperation.

Japanese Finance Minister Nakagawa Shoichi calls the deal "extremely regrettable." He says he feels the United States did not properly consult Japan, its close ally, about the decision.

Japanese Prime Minister Aso Taro says President Bush phoned him after the deal announcement and vowed Washington will continue to push North Korea on the Japanese abduction issue. Unlike its partners in talks aimed at getting rid of North Korea's nuclear weapons, Japan is refusing to provide energy aid to Pyongyang until there is progress on the abduction issue.

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