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Morning Walk-Through, Six-party Talks, 01 Nov 07

Christopher R. Hill
Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
St. Regis Hotel
Beijing, China
November 1, 2007

Morning Walk-Through With Reporters at Six-Party Talks

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Good morning. This morning I'm just going to go to Beijing University. I have the opportunity to talk with students out there. I think I'll have lunch with some professors. Then I'll go to the Russian Embassy and brief on the talks in the last couple of days, and then get on the flight, and then head out to Seoul. And in Seoul, I will see my counterpart, Chun Young Woo, and brief him on our discussions here.

This morning I had an opportunity to meet with some of the American scientists, doctors, and technicians who are leaving for Pyongyang today on the flight. They are all very highly motivated and ready to get on with the first stages of actual disablement.

QUESTION: Can you give us a little bit more of an idea of how disablement works?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I would rather see if we could arrange a briefing at some point from one of our technical people. They have made two trips to the reactor site, the site of the plutonium production. They have a specific list of measures that they will be taking, which in some cases just involve taking things apart and in other cases involve actually severing connections -- that sort of thing. Rather than have me talk about it, I think it would be better to have a technical person discuss that.

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We are very satisfied, though, that we have an overall plan that will be effective and that will provide the disablement that we need, with the understanding that disablement is not the last stage. I can't emphasize that enough. We need to get on with the task of actual abandonment of the weaponized plutonium. We also need to dismantle irreversibly the facility. That is still ahead of us. We have a long way to go. I think, as with all journeys, although it is a long way ahead of us, I think it is worthwhile to look behind and see how far we've come. And I do believe we've come a good distance.

QUESTION: Will the actual disablement work begin today or tomorrow?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, it won't be today, because I think they arrive in the middle of the afternoon. I think they have to get to their hotel. I believe they get to Yongbyon, I'm not even sure if it's tomorrow. I think it maybe the day after. So the first sort of physical acts of disablement will probably be at the end of the week.

QUESTION: How long will the disablement team stay?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again, how long is the team there? They are there for over a week. I'll have to get back to you on that. I believe they are there for over a week. We would anticipate having teams there for the next couple of months.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, what can you say about the use of engagement and discussion, particularly with China's involvement in solving this problem, compared to the approach that has been taken on Iran? Do you think that something similar should be applied to the Iran problem?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I'm not in a position to give my colleagues advice on Iran. It is a different part of the world. It is a different situation. It is a different history. I don't want to really offer any free advice on that subject.

I will say that with respect to this difficult problem in the DPRK, we have had the right diplomatic format to bring all the countries directly affected together. We believe it has been the right formula to have China in the chair of that process. We believe the Chinese have done really an excellent job. They have really shown great diplomatic capabilities in that regard. So we are very satisfied with the format. We believe that this format is pushing the process forward. But I want to emphasize until we are actually there -- until we get the complete denuclearization -- we can't be talking about success. This is something where you cannot talk about partial success. You have to measure success by achieving the ultimate objective, which is denuclearization. I think we are moving in the right direction, and let's hope that we get there. But I'm very conscious of all the work we have ahead of us.

QUESTION: The New York Philharmonic announced its tour to China. Are you aware they are going to make a performance in Pyongyang?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: As you know, they have this under very serious consideration. They have been looking at the possibilities of it. If this were done it would be a historic concert. It has never been done before. I think it is under very active consideration and subject to a lot of technical and logistical issues, because this has never been done before. We'll have to see if that can be done and it can be announced.

QUESTION: [Inaudible]

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We support the context of increasing the number of cultural exchanges with the DPRK. We believe that to have more exchanges and to bring the DPRK out of its, in many respects, self-imposed sense of isolation is the way to increase our chance of success in denuclearization. So we do support these types of cultural exchanges. I think in the long run it's best for all of us.

All right? We'll see you all later.

QUESTION: When can we have a few words from the leader of the disablement team?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You know, I'll tell you what. Let me see if we can arrange that.

I missed the victory parade in Boston this week, but I'll go to next year's.

QUESTION: There were lots of people. It was huge.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I know. Huge crowds. And here I am in Beijing. Anyway, we'll see if we can get someone [to speak with you on disablement].

Released on November 1, 2007


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