View Full Version : Some good news between the U.S and N. Korea

09-02-2007, 08:47 PM
GENEVA - North Korea for the first time has set a timeline for declaring and disabling its nuclear programs, agreeing to do it by the end of this year, chief U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill said Sunday.

Kim Gye Gwan, head of the North Korean delegation, said separately he had shown willingness to declare and dismantle all nuclear facilities, but he mentioned no dates.

Disarmament experts were optimistic, but cautious, about the development.

Hill, a U.S. assistant secretary of state, said two days of talks between the United States and North Korea in Geneva had been "very good and very substantive" and would help improve chances of a successful meeting later this month with Japan, Russia, South Korea and China aimed at ending the North's nuclear weapons program and improving relations between Pyongyang and other countries.

"One thing that we agreed on is that the DPRK will provide a full declaration of all of their nuclear programs and will disable their nuclear programs by the end of this year, 2007," Hill told reporters, using the initials for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Hill said the declaration will also include uranium enrichment programs, which the United States fears could be used to make nuclear weapons.

"When we say all nuclear programs, we mean all," he said, adding that "we had some good discussions on that issue. We will continue to have discussions ... but I don't want to get into details."

He said later in response to a question from The Associated Press that it was the first time that North Korea had ever offered a timeline for declaring and disabling its nuclear program.

Kim said, "We agreed a lot of things between the United States and the DPRK. We are happy with the way the peace talks went."

"We made it clear, we showed clear willingness to declare and dismantle all nuclear facilities," he said.

Hill declined to say whether the disablement would include more than the plutonium-producing nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, which North Korea shut down in July.

"We have to work out some of the details on that," he said. "We will have a declaration in time to disable what needs to be disabled," he said.

He said he and Kim had discussed the full range of issues in their two days of talks at the U.S. and North Korean missions to U.N. offices in Geneva.

Kim said one of those was North Korea's demand that the United States remove it from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.

"In return for this we will receive political and economic compensation," he said. "We wouldn't be an enemy country any more."

Hill said he expected the next full session of the six-nation talks in mid-September would produce a "more detailed implementation plan for 'disablement.'"

The meeting in Geneva was part of a flurry of "working group" sessions set out in February's six-nation accord in which North Korea agreed to disable its plutonium-producing nuclear reactor and declare and eventually dismantle all its nuclear activities.

"I believe they're going to do it," said Daniel Pinkston, who heads the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey, California-based Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said.

But he said it was important that North Korea declare all the uranium enrichment and plutonium stocks.

"It's very significant, for sure," said Patricia Lewis, director of the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva, noting that North Korea had allowed U.N. inspectors back into the country and that they could verify what is declared.

"Confidence can increase and we can see whether or not it's really being shut down," Lewis said.

Years of tension and deadlock over North Korea's nuclear program - which peaked with the country's nuclear test last October - have started to ease in recent months as the talks have made progress.