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US Wants North Korean Verification Commitments on Paper


The United States said Friday it expects North Korea, during an international meeting in Beijing next month, to commit, in writing, to allow inspectors to take samples from its nuclear sites. North Korea contends it hasn't agreed to sampling as part of verification of its June nuclear declaration. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

The Bush administration is standing firm with its insistence that North Korea agreed to sampling last month, and it said it wants all the verification commitments Pyongyang made put down on paper at the six-party meeting in Beijing next month.

China is convening the heads-of-delegation meeting of the Korea nuclear talks December 8 to codify U.S.-North Korea understandings reached last month on how the declaration of Pyongyang's nuclear program, made in June, is to be verified.

U.S. officials have said they include standard provisions of recent disarmament accords, including site visits by inspectors, confirmation of documents, interviews with technicians and the removal of samples from North Korean nuclear sites for analysis elsewhere.

North Korea has recently said it made no commitment on sampling, which it said would violate its sovereignty. U.S. officials have said North Korea did commit to sampling, even if it was only a verbal understanding in Pyongyang.

In a talk with reporters Friday, acting State Department Spokesman Gordon Duguid said all North Korea promises will be in a written protocol adopted by the six parties in Beijing.

"Our position is that, at the six-party heads of delegation meeting, verification protocols will be 'six-party-ized,' if I can use a bad verb. And that, at that time, we'll have everything that was included in writing and in understanding formally down on paper," he said.

The United States will be represented in Beijing by its chief delegate, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, and by its special envoy for the six-party talks, Sung Kim.

The State Department said Hill and Kim will leave Washington next Monday for consultations that will take them to Tokyo, Singapore and Bangkok before Beijing.

An official said Hill and Kim will confer in advance of the verification meeting with counterparts from all parties to the nuclear talks including North Korea.

In addition to the United States, North Korea and host China, the talks involve South Korea, Russia and Japan.

North Korea has shut down, and is in the process of disabling its nuclear reactor complex in exchange for energy aid from the other parties.

A verification protocol is to open the way to the next phase of the process under which North Korea is to scrap its nuclear program, including weapons, in return for diplomatic benefits.

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