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Chris Hill, Remarks To The Media In Japan (3 Nov)


Christopher R. Hill
Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Okura Hotel
Tokyo, Japan
November 3, 2007

Remarks to the Media in Japan

QUESTION: I'm sorry to keep asking you the same question, but do you have any news from Sung Kim?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes, yes. I had to call him, and I said I cannot face Tomo without having talked to you, Sung. So please help me out with Tomo. So yes, they arrived okay. They met with the North Koreans. They're going to head out to the site Sunday. They'll begin the work Monday morning. Things seem to be going well. The North Koreans asked if we could do some additional clean-up-type issues. So we're going to look at that -- because our interest is, of course, is not just shutting down and disabling, but finally getting rid of this whole Yongbyon complex.

QUESTION: What's the first step that they're going to take on Monday morning?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, again, we have at least 10 different disabling steps, and one of the first steps will be dealing with the reprocessing facility. And I believe we're cutting some chains that go to that, cutting some means by which they move radioactive material in the reprocessing center. The second thing -- and the thing we need to get going on very quickly -- is that the pond where you put the discharged fuel is extremely dirty with a lot of radioactivity. So we need to clean that up. We need to clean it up for health purposes, because we'll have Americans there and also North Koreans. We don't want anyone getting radiation sickness. Also, when we get to the point where we take these spent fuel rods and try to send them to some place, we want that place to be willing to accept them. So the cleanup of this pond is going to be important. And this is not a process that's going to end in a couple of days or a couple of weeks. It's going to take a lot longer.

QUESTION: So they are going to take out the fuel rods from the reactor?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes, they have to remove the so-called discharging of the fuel. And then a second element: of course, we want to make sure they don't have some ready availability of new fuel -- because that would not be disabling; that would just be recharging. So we have some very specific ideas for how to make sure there is not an additional amount of fuel. So it's a lot of work. It's a lot of painstaking work. And I think we will look forward to having all the participants in the Six Parties involved in this. vI know that Japan will look very carefully at its ability to participate in this.

Released on November 3, 2007

ENDS

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