U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said North Korea must commit to irreversible disarmament steps if it returns to multilateral nuclear talks. Clinton held separate meetings on North Korea with her counterparts from Russia, China, Japan and South Korea on the sidelines of the ASEAN regional forum.
Clinton emerged from the meetings hailing what she said was "remarkable" unity by U.S. negotiating partners on enforcing U.N. Security Council sanctions against North Korea, and demanding tough terms for the resumption of six-party talks with Pyongyang on its nuclear program.
The Secretary told reporters after the meetings the four powers agreed on the need for full implementation of the U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution approved after North Korea's May 25 nuclear test, and to make clear that a return to negotiations and a "complete and irreversible" de-nuclearization is the "only viable path" for North Korea.
"We do not intend to reward North Korea just for returning to the table, nor do we intend to reward them for actions they have already committed to taking, and then reneged on. The path is open to them and it is up to them to follow it. Unless and until they do, they will face international isolation and the unrelenting pressure of global sanctions," she said.
North Korea agreed in principle in 2005 to scrap its nuclear program, including weapons, in return for energy aid and diplomatic benefits from the other parties in the Chinese-sponsored talks.
But the process stalled last year and North Korea said it was quitting the talks altogether and restarting its nuclear program, after it was censured by the U.N. Security Council for testing a long-range missile in April.
Clinton said the meetings with her Russian, Chinese, South Korean and Japanese counterparts covered financial sanctions, the arms embargo, inspections, and other terms of the latest U.N. sanctions resolution, but she also reiterated the four powers are prepared to provide incentives if Pyongyang commits to disarm.
"We have made it very clear to the North Koreans that if they will agree to irreversible de-nuclearization, that the United States as well as our partners will move forward on a package of incentives and opportunities, including normalizing relations that will give the people of North Korea a better future," she said.
Clinton indicated under questioning that the irreversible steps North Korea is being asked to take include the dismantling of its Yongbyon reactor complex and surrendering its stockpile of plutonium, but said the particular details of what is required are to be determined by experts.