News

    US Optimistic After North Korean Reactor Shutdown

    The United States says it is hopeful the six-party agreement to end North Korea's nuclear program is getting back on track, following confirmation that the communist country's main nuclear reactor has been shut down. The six parties meet at the envoy level in Beijing later this week. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

    North Korea agreed to shut down the Yongbyon reactor last February, but the process stalled for several months over a dispute with the United States about frozen bank funds. The dispute was eventually settled.

    Now, following verification by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Yongbyon has been taken off-line, officials in Washington are cautiously optimistic that the multi-stage disarmament deal is back on track.

    North Korea is receiving 50,000 tons of fuel oil from South Korea in the first phase of the deal, which required it to shut down the reactor and allow IAEA inspectors back to Yongbyon.

    Envoys of the six parties, which include Russia, Japan, China, as well as the United States and the two Koreas, are to convene Wednesday in Beijing to discuss a work plan for the next phase of the deal, under which North Korea is to permanently disable Yongbyon and declare all its nuclear programs and assets including weapons.

    State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack says the way forward will be difficult but U.S. officials are encouraged by signs that North Korea's commitment to disarm in exchange for aid and diplomatic benefits may be sincere:

    "We are starting to see indications that North Korea may have taken that strategic decision. But there are more steps to take along that way," he said. "Certainly, an important one is going to be disablement of the reactor, which means that you cannot turn back with that particular facility."

    The Yongbyon reactor, located about 100 kilometers north of Pyongyang, turned out the plutonium for what is believed to be a North Korean arsenal of several nuclear weapons, one of which was detonated in an underground test last October.

    Though North Korea has denied it, the United States believes Pyongyang had a parallel enriched-uranium weapons project and expects that to be part of the promised declaration.

    McCormack said the chief U.S. envoy to the six-party talks, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs Christopher Hill, is due Tuesday in Beijing and will meet with his North Korean and Russian counterparts before the envoy's meeting Wednesday.

    The first phase of the accord is to be capped by a ministerial level session in Beijing, which would likely include a first-ever meeting between Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her North Korean counterpart, Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun.

    McCormack said the timing of the ministerial meeting is one of the issues to be discussed by the envoys in the Chinese capital this week and that it could come within the next month.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora