U.S. officials said Monday they expect North Korea to make its
long-awaited declaration of its nuclear program this week, probably
Thursday. The action would open the way to the next phase of the
six-party deal under which Pyongyang is to scrap its nuclear program in
return for aid and diplomatic benefits. VOA's David Gollust reports
from the State Department.
Bush administration officials say they expect the declaration Thursday based on comments by North Korean officials.
they're expressing caution, noting that past timetables have slipped,
and also stressing that the declaration must be verified if Pyongyang
is to reap promised benefits.
North Korea was to have made the
declaration of its nuclear possessions and activities at the end of
last year, and the delay has stalled implementation of the six-party
White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said Thursday is
a deadline for the declaration cited by North Korea itself, but that if
follow-on actions are to be taken the document must be reviewed and
In a talk with reporters here, State
Department Deputy Spokesman Tom Casey said the Bush administration is
ready, on receipt of the declaration to inform Congress of its
intention to remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of
But Casey noted that by U.S. law there is a 45-day
waiting period for the decision to be enacted, and during that time
verification steps must get underway:
"One thing that's
extremely important to us, presuming we get a declaration and that
announcement is then made, is that we will use that 45 days as an
opportunity to work on the verification process," said Tom Casey. "And
certainly there would be consequences in that process, should it be
determined that North Korea is not complying with the verification
terms, or has otherwise not provided the kind of declaration that
everyone hoped for."
The chief U.S. delegate to the six-party
talks, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, is holding
consultations in Beijing and would be ready to join in a meeting of all
six delegation chiefs if the North Korean declaration is indeed
North Korea has indicated it is ready to demolish the
cooling tower of its Yongbyon nuclear complex as a show of good faith
after submitting the declaration.
Spokesman Casey said U.S.
officials monitoring the disablement of the Yongbyon reactor would
witness the demolition. He said Assistant Secretary Hill has no plans
himself to attend the event or to visit Pyongyang this week.
is expected to remain in the region to brief Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, who begins a visit to Japan, South Korea and China
later this week.
Rice told reporters traveling with her to
Germany Monday that if North Korea submits a complete and accurate
declaration it would be an important step that would trigger several
reciprocal actions including "de-listing" Pyongyang as a terrorism
At the same time, Rice told a questioner the United
States is not going to "set aside or forget" the issue of Japanese
citizens abducted by North Korean intelligence agents in the 1970's and
Japanese officials have opposed dropping North Korea
from the terrorism list, and lifting associated economic sanctions
without a resolution of the abduction issue.
Rice in the
airborne news conference credited U.S. pressure for a North Korean
agreement with Japan last week to reopen investigations of the
She said she recognizes it is a "wounding
issue" for Japan, and one which the United States will continue to
press North Korea on to make certain it is dealt with.