A key U.S. State Department official has renewed his call to North Korea to account for all its nuclear activities. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill issued his appeal as he briefed members of Congress on the status of international efforts aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear efforts, as VOA's Deborah Tate reports from Capitol Hill.
Assistant Secretary Hill told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that progress has been made on disabling North Korea's atomic facilities at Yongbyon.
But he says Pyongyang has yet to account for its nuclear programs.
"We are very aware that they have made many purchases that are entirely consistent with the development of a highly enriched uranium program," he said.
Under an agreement with the United States, South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia, North Korea committed to abandon all nuclear weapons and nuclear programs in exchange for diplomatic and economic incentives. Pyongyang was to have provided a complete list of nuclear programs by last December 31, but failed to meet the deadline.
Ambassador Hill said it is not too late for North Korea to account for its nuclear effort.
"If it is terminated, we need to know when it was terminated," he added. "If it continues, we need to ensure that it is terminated."
Hill's comments come a day after the Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, questioned North Korean's commitment to the six-party denuclearization process, and said the U.S. intelligence community believes that country continues to work on a uranium enrichment program.
Ambassador Hill said he believes progress can still be made on the denuclearization issue. He reiterated that if North Korea produces the declaration of its nuclear programs and fully disables Yongbyon, the United States is prepared to offer several incentives, including the normalization of diplomatic ties, which would remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.
"In the context of full denuclearization, we would be prepared to establish full diplomatic relations," he added.
One key lawmaker noted that the Bush administration already has begun consultations with Congress in preparation for the possible removal of North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terror and eliminating the designation of that country under the Trading with the Enemy Act.
Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the committee, suggested the move is a bit premature.
"It is not prudent for the Bush administration to proceed with these two steps when North Korea failed to provide a complete and thorough declaration of its nuclear program by the year 2007, as earlier agreed," he said.
In the meantime, Senator Lugar and the committee's chairman, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, have sponsored legislation that would authorize the Departments of Energy and State to provide assistance to North Korea for its nuclear disablement activities.
The United States is prohibited under a 1994 law known as the Glenn Amendment from providing nonhumanitarian assistance to states that have detonated a nuclear weapon and are not signatories to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. North Korea tested a device in October 2006.