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North Korea Agrees To Abandon Its Nuclear Weapons

North Korea Agrees To Abandon Its Nuclear Weapons Programs

Bush welcomes breakthrough, insists on thorough verification of process

After weeks of negotiations, North Korea has agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons programs.

Speaking to the press in Beijing September 19, Ambassador Christopher Hill, the lead negotiator for the United States at talks that also included South Korea, China, Japan and Russia, pronounced the agreement "one of the best examples of multilateral diplomacy in this part of the world."

President Bush, speaking to the press in Washington the same day, welcomed the breakthrough as "a positive step" but cautioned: "[N]ow we've got to verify whether or not that happens …. The question is, over time, will all parties adhere to the agreement?"

Hill called the agreement simply "the seed that we've planted." The implementation of the agreement, which would include dismantling Pyongyang's plutonium-producing gas graphite nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, is yet to be hammered out.

"We expect the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] to move promptly. We believe there are a lot of incentives on the table for the DPRK to move promptly," he said.

Among the incentives spelled out in the agreement is the promise by the other signatories "to promote economic cooperation in the fields of energy, trade and investment, bilaterally and/or multilaterally" with North Korea.

During the Six-Party Talks, the Pyongyang regime had been insisting on a light-water reactor -- generally considered less threatening in its capacity to produce fuel that could be used for nuclear weapons -- for its electrical energy needs. The September 19 agreement states that the parties "expressed their respect and agreed to discuss at an appropriate time the subject of the provision of a light-water reactor to the DPRK."

That "appropriate time," according to Hill, will come only after North Korea has completely and verifiably dismantled its nuclear weapons program. Verification, he said, would be conducted using the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Hill said North Korea must return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and comply with IAEA safeguards before it can expect any help in building nuclear plants for civil use.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking to reporters in New York at the United Nations on September 19, also emphasized the importance of verification.

"We are going to have to have a very clear road map for verification, a very clear road map for dismantlement, because that is the core issue here and we look forward to working on it," she said.

The prospect of North Korea's getting a light-water nuclear reactor "is some time in the future," Rice said.

"When the North Koreans have dismantled their nuclear weapons and other nuclear programs verifiably and are, indeed, nuclear free, when they are back in the NPT, when they have gotten into IAEA safeguards, I suppose we can discuss anything," Rice said.

The next big hurdle facing the six-party process is how to begin implementing the agreement. Early November is the target time frame for discussing the sequence of events necessary for complete dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear weapons program and satisfactory international verification, which Hill called "a key element of this agreement."

"[P]art of the way forward," Bush said in Washington, "is for the North Koreans to understand that we're serious about this, and that we expect there to be a verifiable process."

Other elements of the agreement, as explained by Ambassador Hill, are:

-- The United States affirmed that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade the DPRK with nuclear or conventional weapons.

-- The Republic of Korea reaffirmed its commitment not to receive or deploy nuclear weapons in accordance with the 1992 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, while affirming that no nuclear weapons exist within its territory.

-- The DPRK and the United States undertook to respect each other's sovereignty, exist peacefully together, and take steps to normalize their relations subject to their respective bilateral policies.

For more information, see U.S. Policy Toward North Korea.

Key documents from the Six-Party Talks are available on the State Department Web site, as is the transcript of Rice’s remarks in New York.

The transcript of Bush's remarks is available on the White House Web site.

Following is the text of the joint statement:

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
September 19, 2005

Joint Statement of the Fourth Round of the Six-Party Talks
Beijing, 19 September 2005

The Fourth Round of the Six-Party Talks was held in Beijing, China among the People's Republic of China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America from July 26th to August 7th, and from September 13th to 19th, 2005.

Mr. Wu Dawei, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, Mr. Kim Gye Gwan, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the DPRK; Mr. Kenichiro Sasae, Director-General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan; Mr. Song Min-soon, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the ROK; Mr. Alexandr Alekseyev, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; and Mr. Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the United States attended the talks as heads of their respective delegations.

Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei chaired the talks.

For the cause of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia at large, the Six Parties held, in the spirit of mutual respect and equality, serious and practical talks concerning the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula on the basis of the common understanding of the previous three rounds of talks, and agreed, in this context, to the following:

1. The Six Parties unanimously reaffirmed that the goal of the Six-Party Talks is the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner.

The DPRK committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning, at an early date, to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to IAEA safeguards.

The United States affirmed that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade the DPRK with nuclear or conventional weapons.

The ROK reaffirmed its commitment not to receive or deploy nuclear weapons in accordance with the 1992 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean

Peninsula, while affirming that there exist no nuclear weapons within its territory.

The 1992 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should be observed and implemented.

The DPRK stated that it has the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The other parties expressed their respect and agreed to discuss, at an appropriate time, the subject of the provision of light water reactor to the DPRK.

2. The Six Parties undertook, in their relations, to abide by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and recognized norms of international relations.

The DPRK and the United States undertook to respect each other's sovereignty, exist peacefully together, and take steps to normalize their relations subject to their respective bilateral policies.

The DPRK and Japan undertook to take steps to normalize their relations in accordance with the Pyongyang Declaration, on the basis of the settlement of unfortunate past and the outstanding issues of concern.

3. The Six Parties undertook to promote economic cooperation in the fields of energy, trade and investment, bilaterally and/or multilaterally.

China, Japan, ROK, Russia and the US stated their willingness to provide energy assistance to the DPRK.

The ROK reaffirmed its proposal of July 12th 2005 concerning the provision of 2 million kilowatts of electric power to the DPRK.

4. The Six Parties committed to joint efforts for lasting peace and stability in Northeast Asia.

The directly related parties will negotiate a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula at an appropriate separate forum.

The Six Parties agreed to explore ways and means for promoting security cooperation in Northeast Asia.

5. The Six Parties agreed to take coordinated steps to implement the afore-mentioned consensus in a phased manner in line with the principle of "commitment for commitment, action for action".

6. The Six Parties agreed to hold the Fifth Round of the Six-Party Talks in Beijing in early November 2005 at a date to be determined through consultations.

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