News

US Endorses Plan For Disabling North Korean Nuclear Sites

The United States said Tuesday it has approved a draft six-nation accord under which North Korea will declare and disable its nuclear programs by the end of the year in exchange for aid and diplomatic benefits. China is expected to release the document within the next day or two. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

U.S. officials say the latest round of six-party talks, which ended Sunday in Beijing, was not originally intended to produce a document.

But they say that so much progress was made in the three-day session that host China proposed and drafted the statement, which has been referred to the various governments for final approval.

Officials here decline to elaborate on its contents other than to say that it will commit North Korea to disabling its nuclear facilities and declaring all its nuclear holdings including weapons by the end of the year.

The other parties to the talks, Japan, South Korea and Russia, along with the United States and China, will in turn define benefits that would go to North Korea because of its cooperation.

The chief U.S. delegate to the six-party talks, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs Christopher Hill, briefed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the document in New York Monday.

Rice, in turn met with President Bush at the White House Tuesday morning, and China was notified of the Bush administration's approval of the draft.

North Korea shut down its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, the source of plutonium for its small arsenal of nuclear weapons, in July in return for initial deliveries of an eventual one million tons of fuel oil or equivalent aid.

North Korea froze operations at the reactor under a 1994 deal with the Clinton administration that later fell apart. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack says its commitment now to permanently disable the site is unprecedented in all the years of Korean nuclear diplomacy:

"Disabling the Yongbyon facility and a full declaration of North Korea's nuclear program: that's new, that's path-breaking," said Sean McCormack. "And we'll see, between now and the end of the year, if we can achieve that. And if the North Koreans meet the conditions that have been laid out for them by the other parties, then they are going to receive some benefits for that changed behavior."

North Korea's envoy to the nuclear talks, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-Gwan, says one benefit stipulated in the accord is the removal of Pyongyang, by a date certain, from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism.

In a talk with reporters in New York, Assistant Secretary Hill declined to confirm that such a commitment is included, but he said it has been an issue of active discussion between the two governments:

"Obviously, it's an issue of great concern to them," said Christopher Hill. "They would very much like to be off that list. From our point of view, anytime we can work with a country to get them off this list, and that is to remove a country as a threat or as a country that we have concerns about insofar as it can be a state sponsor of terrorism, that's something that we always want to do. To be sure this is an issue in our process and obviously we are working with the DPRK [North Korea] on this."

U.S. officials say there is no evidence of North Korean involvement in terrorism since the mid-1980's.

Japan has opposed removing North Korea from the terrorism list because of still-unresolved cases of alleged North Korean abductions of Japanese citizens from the same era.

News reports from Tokyo say Japan has accepted the new six-party statement, but with deep reservations.

Hill said if, as expected, the statement is approved by the all the parties, the process of disabling the nuclear sites could get under way in a matter of weeks, and that the United States would be heavily involved on the ground in North Korea.

The U.S. diplomat said once that process is complete and North Korea accounts for an estimated 50 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium and a secrecy-shrouded uranium enrichment effort, the end-stage of the six-party process can proceed in 2008.

That would include the surrender and disposal of the nuclear materials, and delivery of diplomatic benefits for Pyongyang including normalized relations with the United States and Japan and an agreement formally ending the 1950's Korean war.

Hill cautioned the remaining process will not be easy but said if it is successful, the situation in northeast Asia will be transformed for the better.

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs