The United States said Monday it is not removing North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism until Pyongyang produces an acceptable plan to verify its nuclear program. Monday was the earliest date that North Korea could have been dropped from the list. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.
Officials here had not depicted Monday as any kind of deadline for North Korea action. They say in the absence of a verification agreement, Pyongyang will remain on the terrorism list and subject to associated U.S. sanctions.
North Korea on June 26 submitted to China, host country of the six-party Korea nuclear negotiations, the declaration of its nuclear activities and holdings promised under last year's disarmament accord.
The same day, President Bush notified Congress of his intention to remove Pyongyang from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism in as soon as 45 days, dependent on a six-party agreement for verifying the declaration.
The parties have been engaged in negotiations on a verification regime but have not yet produced an agreement.
In a talk with reporters on the expiration of the 45-day period, State Department Deputy Spokesman Robert Wood stressed it was a minimum time frame, not a deadline, and that the United States stands ready to act once a verification deal is struck:
"It's clear that what we need is that strong verification regime. Let me just leave it at that for the moment. It was a minimum 45-day period," he said. "We as of yet don't have that verification regime, and the North Koreans know what they need to do in terms of putting together that regime, and to date we haven't seen that."
The six parties, meeting in Beijing a month ago, reached a preliminary verification accord that among other things would allow international inspectors to visit North Korean nuclear sites, examine documents and interview technical personnel.
Only days later, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met her North Korean counterpart, Pak Ui-chun, for the first time at a ministerial-level meeting of the six parties in Singapore.
But technical level talks have thus far failed to produce a final verification deal and spokesman Wood declined to try to predict when an accord might be reached.
North Korea has shut down its main nuclear reactor complex and is in the process of permanently disabling it in exchange for energy aid from the other parties.
A verification accord would open the way for the next phase of the agreement, under which North Korea would scrap its nuclear assets and get diplomatic benefits, including eventual normalization of ties with Washington.
Pyongyang is eager to be removed from the terrorism list because it would mean the lifting of associated sanctions. The United States has said it is unaware of any North Korean involvement in terrorism in more than two decades.