News / Asia

US: North Korean Nuclear Concessions Welcome, But Insufficient

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (L) says goodbye to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) after a meeting at a military garrison, outside Ulan-Ude in Byryatia, Russia, August 24, 2011
North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (L) says goodbye to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) after a meeting at a military garrison, outside Ulan-Ude in Byryatia, Russia, August 24, 2011

The United States has called reported North Korean nuclear concessions welcome but insufficient. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il told Russian officials that Pyongyang would freeze tests and production of nuclear weapons and missiles in the context of renewed six-party negotiations.

Officials in Washington are not rejecting Kim’s gesture out of hand. But they say the concessions the North Korean leader offered in a meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev are not enough to resume six-party talks on ending the North’s nuclear programs.

A Russian spokesman reported that Kim Jong Il said Pyongyang is ready to return to negotiations. Kim also said that in the course of talks, North Korea would be ready to “resolve the question” of a moratorium on tests and production of “nuclear missile weapons.”

The United States has said in the past that such a moratorium is a condition for restarting the stalled nuclear talks.

Short of necessary prerequisites

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Wednesday if, in fact, Pyongyang is willing to refrain from nuclear tests and missile launches, it would be welcome.

But she said as is, the offer would be insufficient, noting it doesn’t mention Pyongyang’s uranium enrichment program.

“As you know, their disclosure last November of a uranium enrichment facility remains a matter of serious concern to us. And these activities are a clear violation of their obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874 and contrary to the commitments they made in 2005. So if it’s true, [it’s a] welcome first step, but far from enough.”

North Korea agreed in principle to scrap its nuclear program, including a presumed small arsenal of nuclear weapons, in 2005 in return for economic and diplomatic benefit.

However, the six-party talks, involving the two Koreas, Japan, Russia, the United States and host China dragged on inconclusively and broke down in 2008.

Past failures

Pyongyang tested a nuclear device in 2006, and another in 2009 after the talks foundered, and has conducted several missile tests.

North-South Korea relations were in crisis last year after Pyongyang sank a South Korean warship and shelled a southern coastal island.

Tensions have eased of late, though, with North and South Korean officials meeting last month at an ASEAN conference in Bali, Indonesia. U.S. and North Korean envoys later met in New York.

Some policy analysts are skeptical about North Korea’s recent conciliatory moves, which they link to its deepening economic problems.

Bruce Klingner, the senior research fellow for Northeast Asia at Washington’s Heritage Foundation, said the vague pledges made by the North Korean leader are part of what he terms a “charm offensive.” He said there may be less substance to the gesture than is indicated by news headlines.  

“If you look at the actual wording from the Russian spokesperson, they merely stated that in the course of the talks, North Korea would be ready to resolve the question of imposing a moratorium on tests and production of nuclear missile programs," said Klingner. "So it’s far short of a pledge for unilateral action prior to resuming the nuclear negotiations. And also the wording of it clearly gives Pyongyang plenty of opportunity to try to seek out concessions during the talks themselves.”

Empty promises

Klingner said nothing came of a reported North Korean offer last December to re-admit international inspectors to its Yongbyong nuclear complex.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted a senior official in Seoul as saying the Russia-North Korea summit fell short of expectations, and that Pyongyang needs to address the uranium enrichment issue.

Nuland said she expects U.S.-Russian consultations on the summit once the North Korean leader has returned home. She rejected a suggestion the meeting reflects an emerging alliance between Moscow and Pyongyang. She said Russia’s aim in the six-party talks is the same as that of the United States, and that they will not resume until North Korea meets its previous commitments.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More