Wednesday, October 03, 2007

North Korea Agrees To Wind Back Nuclear Ambitions

Could it be true? Does diplomacy, and millions in cash and oil 'incentives', really work to wind back a potential 'rogue' nuclear threat?

From the Associated Press :

North Korea will provide a complete list of its nuclear programs and disable its facilities at its main reactor complex by Dec. 31, actions that will be overseen by a U.S.-led team, the six nations involved in disarmament talks said Wednesday.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei said that as part of the agreement, Washington will lead an expert group to Pyongyang "within the next two weeks to prepare for disablement" and will fund those initial activities.

"The disablement of the five megawatt experimental reactor at Yongbyon, the reprocessing plant at Yongbyon and the nuclear fuel rod fabrication facility at Yongbyon will be completed by 31 December 2007," said Wu, who read the statement from the six nations to reporters, but did not take any questions.

The Bush administration welcomed the agreement, calling it significant progress.

"These second-phase actions effectively end the DPRK's production of plutonium — a major step towards the goal of achieving the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the White House's National Security Council.

The complex at Yongbyon has been at the center of North Korea's nuclear weapons programs for decades and is believed to have produced the nuclear device Pyongyang detonated a year ago to prove its long-suspected nuclear capability.

Since then, Pyongyang rejoined the six-nation disarmament negotiations that involve the United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea as well as North Korea. Under a broad agreement reached in February, North Korea pledged to disable its nuclear programs in return for 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil or other assistance.

(A statement said) the U.S. and North Korea will "increase bilateral exchanges and enhance mutual trust" but did not set a specific timetable for when Washington will remove Pyongyang from a list of countries that sponsor terrorism — a key North Korean demand. Arrangements will be made in future meetings between the two on normalizing their relations, the statement said.