(by Nicholas Kralev, Feb. 26, 2008, WashingtonTimes.com) SEOUL – The United States wants six-nation talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear programs to begin monitoring transfers of nuclear materials and technology from the North to other countries, U.S. officials said yesterday.
The anti-proliferation focus, for which Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is trying to gather support during an East Asian tour this week, is a response to mounting evidence that the North gave nuclear assistance to Syria.
“The North Koreans promised not to engage in nuclear proliferation,” said Christopher R. Hill, the chief U.S. envoy to the six-nation talks. “We want to make sure they follow through on their pledge.”
Mr. Hill was referring to an October agreement in which the North “reaffirmed its commitment not to transfer nuclear materials, technology or know-how.”
All five countries negotiating with the communist state – the United States, China, Japan, South Korea and Russia – have said that they expect Pyongyang to honor its promise.
The Oct. 3 deal, however, did not specify how the nonproliferation pledge would be verified.
Now the Bush administration, alarmed by the Syrian connection, is pushing for “monitoring” the implementation of North Korea’s pledge.
In September, an Israeli air strike targeted what was widely reported to be a nuclear facility in Syria under construction with help from North Korea.[Secretary] Rice told reporters on Friday that she will discuss during her trip to South Korea, China and Japan “how we use the six-party framework to address proliferation issues.”
“I’m of the mind that we have the right group of countries at that table, with the right set of incentives and disincentives to address not just denuclearization, which obviously is extremely important, but also proliferation,” she said.
Japan and Russia are already members of the U.S.-sponsored “Proliferation Security Initiative,” a voluntary agreement to share intelligence on illicit trade in deadly weapons. China, South Korea and North Korea – the primary target of the effort – have refused to join.
The U.S. initiated the program to avoid the repeat of a 2002 incident, in which it allowed 15 North Korean scud missiles to reach Yemen.
The missiles had been seized by a Spanish ship acting on U.S. intelligence, but the Bush administration decided it lacked authority under international law to block the sale.
Mr. Hill, briefing reporters traveling with [Secretary] Rice yesterday, said the new proposal would involve monitoring the implementation of the entire Oct. 3 agreement, not just North Korea’s obligations.
It would include seeking accountability for the heavy fuel oil the United States must deliver to the North at various stages of the process that would dismantle Pyongyang’s nuclear programs in exchange for political and economic incentives, Mr. Hill said.
In October, North Korea also “agreed to provide a complete and correct declaration of all its nuclear programs” by Dec. 31, but it missed the deadline.
Although it has almost completed the required disablement of its Yongbyon reactor, the declaration remains a major problem.[Secretary] Rice will seek to break the impasse when she visits Beijing today by enlisting Chinese help in persuading the North to explain the Syrian issue, a uranium-enrichment program that U.S. intelligence says it discovered in 2002 and other past activities.
Washington has rejected pressure from some of its partners in the six-party talks to compromise on the overdue declaration.
Mr. Hill said earlier this month that those countries had told him, “Well, two out of three is not bad,” and “Why do you worry so much about the past?”
China, eager for progress in the negotiations, is said to be one of those countries. It is also expected to be cool to the new U.S. anti-proliferation proposal.
Japan appears to be on the same page with the United States, as does South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who took office yesterday.
“We understand that the proliferation element is an important part of a complete and accurate declaration. In our view, it is already included in what we expect on the part of [North Korea] as part of the six-party framework,” said Hiroshi Suzuki, a Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman.
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1. Define (nuclear) proliferation.
2. List the six countries involved in the six-party talks (also referred to as six-nation or six-country talks).
3. a) What does the U.S. want the countries involved in the six-party talks to do?
b) Why does the U.S. want to do this?
4. What is the problem with the specifics of the October 3rd agreement that North Korea made in the six-party talks?
5. a) What is the Proliferation Security Initiative?
b) Describe the incident that caused the U.S. to initiate the program.
6. What will the new proposal for North Korea include, according to Christopher Hill?
7. Under the October agreement, North Korea agreed to disable its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. What else did it agree to do that is has not done?
8. What will Secretary Rice ask the Chinese to do about North Korea’s involvement with Syria?
9. Which of the countries involved in the six-party talks support the U.S. position?
NORTH KOREA’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROGRAM and THE SIX-PARTY TALKS:
- The six-party talks are a series of meetings with six participating states – the U.S., Japan, China, South Korea, North Korea and Russia.
- These talks were a result of North Korea withdrawing from the U.N.’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003. North Korea is led by dictator Kim Jong-Il, who has starved and imprisoned millions of his own people.
- The aim of the talks is to find a peaceful resolution to the security concerns raised by the North Korean nuclear weapons program.
- After five rounds of talks from 2003 to 2007, little progress had been made.
- September 2005, as a result of illegal acts committed by the North Korean government, including the counterfeiting of U.S. money, the U.S. froze North Korea’s overseas bank accounts. The North Korean government then refused to participate in further six-party talks.
- April 2006, North Korea said they would resume talks only with the U.S. (not six-party), if the U.S. released recently frozen North Korean financial assets held in a bank in Macau. The U.S. did not comply with the request.
- October 2006 North Korea conducted a test of a nuclear weapon.
- December 2006 six-party talks resumed.
- In February 2007, North Korea agreed to shut down its nuclear facilities in exchange for fuel aid and steps towards the normalization of relations with the United States and Japan. Negotiations then stalled through July.
- In October 2007 an agreement was made among the six countries negotiating the end of the North’s nuclear program. Under the agreement, North Korea would start getting energy and other economic assistance from the U.S. and others, as well as begin normalizing relations with the United States and Japan. In exchange for this, by Dec. 31, 2007 North Korea was supposed to provide a written declaration disclosing all of its nuclear materials and capabilities as well as disable its main reactor at Yongbyon. North Korea has not yet fulfilled their part of the agreement.
- For further information the six-party talks, go to wikipedia.org.
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