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Sunday, September 02, 2007

North Korea to Disable Nuclear Program in 2007

This is a welcome piece of news, In Geneva, the U.S. and North Korea have come to an agreement that North Korea will fully account for and disable their nuclear programs by the end of 2007.

"We had very good, very substantive talks," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill told reporters. "One thing that we agreed on is that (North Korea) will provide a full declaration of all of their nuclear programs and will disable their nuclear programs by the end of this year, 2007."

North Korea's top nuclear envoy said separately his delegation was pleased with the outcome of the talks, held to hasten the end of Pyongyang's nuclear programme, a target agreed to in principle in 2005 in exchange for diplomatic and economic benefits.

"We agreed about many things," Kim Kye-gwan, speaking in Korean, told reporters. "We made it clear, we showed clear willingness to declare and dismantle all nuclear facilities."

Hill said the details of the "very important" agreement would be worked out later this month when six-way negotiations -- which also involve South Korea, China, Russia and Japan -- reconvene with a plenary session hosted by China.

The fact that this will be brought before the six party talks is also very relevant because, as we have seen previously, one on one talks provides North Korea with a "way out" of their agreements, but if this agreement holds and is agreed with six party talks, it is much more difficult for them to go back on their word.

We must not make the mistake that was made earlier when an agreement was made, via Jimmy Carter, for the Clinton administration that was wholly unverifiable, verification must be a given for this to work without backfiring.

This will also take North Korea off of the list of Terrorism States and help the Korean people who have suffered long and hard with monies to help them.

The day before the two-day talks began, Washington announced it would offer a significant food aid package to help Pyongyang recover from August floods that killed at least 600 people, made 170,000 homeless and destroyed many croplands.

Progress in the international diplomatic drive to make the Korean peninsula nuclear-free has been slow since 2005.

Following the Geneva meetings, North Korean and Japanese negotiators will meet in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, for another bilateral session of talks. A six-party plenary meeting is then expected to be held in mid-September, likely in Beijing.

Hill said the Geneva talks should help the disarmament drive.

"I think we have an expectation that because of this bilateral meeting that we can look forward to a better chance of success at the next six-party plenary," he said. "We need to pick up the pace and get through this phase in 2007."

Excellent news indeed.

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