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US Diplomat Urges Pyongyang to Follow Libya's Example - 2004-07-23

A top U.S. disarmament specialist says North Korea can expect great benefits quickly, if it gives up its nuclear ambitions. Undersecretary of State John Bolton has just wrapped up a trip to South Korea and Japan to coordinate policies on efforts to end the North's nuclear programs.

U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton told reporters in Tokyo on Friday he hopes North Korea will announce a "strategic decision" about giving up its nuclear weapons programs at multilateral talks expected in September.

Mr. Bolton says Pyongyang should not be rewarded for merely freezing its nuclear programs, but should follow in the footsteps of Libya, which has verifiably dismantled its nuclear program.

"The case of Libya demonstrates that, once a strategic decision to give up weapons of mass destruction is made, you don't need a freeze,? Mr. Bolton said. ?You can move directly from the decision to verification and absolute dismantlement."

Mr. Bolton says the Libyan example should demonstrate to North Korea, and also to Iran, that any U.S. offer of rewards for abandoning nuclear weapons is not just hypothetical. Since Libya gave up its nuclear programs, the United States has resumed diplomatic contact and has lifted most economic sanctions against Tripoli.

Earlier this week, a North Korean diplomat said his government will pledge not to test or transfer nuclear weapons, and will ultimately dismantle its nuclear programs, if the United States drops what Pyongyang calls its "hostile policy."

Mr. Bolton brushed off the statement. "One day, they say one thing, and the next day, they say another. Whether that's tactical, whether they're lying on one day, or lying on another day, I don't know. It doesn't do wonders for their credibility, and, particularly, their continued refusal to admit to a uranium enrichment program."

North Korea has demanded economic and diplomatic rewards in return for freezing its plutonium-based nuclear program. The communist state denies U.S. assertions that it has a uranium weapons program.

Although Mr. Bolton is one of the Bush administration's harshest critics of North Korea, during his stops in Seoul and Tokyo this week, he was uncharacteristically subdued.

During his two days in the Japanese capital, he met with the foreign minister and other high-level officials. Diplomats say Japanese officials agreed to continue cooperating with the United Sates on bringing a peaceful end to North Korea's nuclear ambitions.