N. Korea Agrees to Nuclear Deadline
Monday, September 3, 2007
PARIS, Sept. 2 -- North Korea agreed to disclose all of its nuclear activities and disable its nuclear programs by the end of the year, a senior U.S. official said Sunday after negotiations this weekend in Geneva.
Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill said details of North Korea's agreement would be worked out later this month in meetings sponsored by China and involving Russia, Japan and South Korea, in addition to the United States and North Korea.
"One thing that we agreed on is that the DPRK will provide a full declaration of all their nuclear programs and will disable their nuclear programs by the end of this year, 2007," Hill said, using the initials for North Korea's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Hill said it was the first time North Korea had agreed to a timeline to end its nuclear programs.
In separate remarks, the head of the North Korean delegation, Kim Gye Gwan, said his country had agreed to declare and dismantle its nuclear facilities, but he did not mention a deadline.
"We made it clear, we showed clear willingness to declare and dismantle all nuclear facilities," Kim said, the Associated Press reported. "We are happy with the way the peace talks went."
Hill, who described the talks as "very good and very substantive," said the agreement included disclosing and dismantling any uranium enrichment programs, which the United States fears could be used to make nuclear weapons but North Korea previously had not acknowledged having.
The discussions this weekend also focused on North Korean demands to normalize relations with the United States, Hill said. In particular, North Korea wants to be removed from the U.S. list of states that sponsor terrorism, a listing that imposes a ban on arms-related sales to the country and restricts economic aid.
Closer ties with the United States will be built "step by step, with the understanding that we're not going to have a normalized relationship until we have a denuclearized North Korea," Hill said Sunday before the talks ended. "To the extent that we can move quickly to denuclearization, we can move quickly to normalization."
Japan also has refused to forge warmer relations with North Korea until it provides an accounting of what happened to Japanese citizens who were kidnapped by North Korean security services in the 1970s and '80s.
Negotiations over North Korea's nuclear programs and normalizing relations with the xenophobic, communist country have been fitful for years.
Last October, while talks were stalled, North Korea announced it had conducted its first underground nuclear test. In February, the United States and North Korea agreed to a sweeping deal to restore diplomatic and economic relations and end the country's nuclear programs. In July, North Korea closed its main plutonium reactor at Yongbyon after receiving 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil from South Korea -- the first installment of 1 million tons pledged as part of the February agreement.