The United States President and State Department announced today that the six-party talks in Beijing have yielded an agreement with North Korea to take steps toward nuclear disarmament.
North Korea has agreed to take the following steps within the next 60 days:
1. Shut down its Yongbyon nuclear facility and invite back inspectors from the IAEA.
2. Discuss with other parties a list of all its nuclear programs to be abandoned.
3. Begin bilateral talks with the U.S. to resolve issues and move toward full diplomatic relations.
4. Begin bilateral talks with Japan aimed at normalizing their relations.
In addition, the U.S. agreed to participate in the bilateral talks, and to being the process of removing the designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, and advance the process of terminating the application of the Trading With the Enemy Act to North Korea. All of the parties involved will cooperate in economic, energy, and humanitarian assistance to North Korea, with an initial shipment of energy assistance equivalent to 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil to be sent within the next 60 days.
President Bush stated that he is pleased with the agreement, and that it represents "the best opportunity to use diplomacy to address North Korea's nuclear programs."
The U.S. had previously negotiated an agreement with North Korea in 1994 which did not work out. According to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, this agreement has "the advantage, first and foremost, of being multilateral. It has as a part of it China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States, all countries that have the right set of incentives and disincentives at hand not just to make a deal with North Korea, but to make sure that one sticks."
Secretary Rice was asked in a press conference whether this could send a message to Iran that bad behavior (continuing nuclear proliferation) would be rewarded. She responded, "Why shouldn't it be seen as a message to Iran that the international community is able to bring together its resources, particularly when regionally affected states work together, and that the strong diplomacy and the cohesiveness of the five parties in the six-party talks has finally achieved results."
Other countries have signed on to the agreement, but with reservations. Japan, for instance, will not be sending energy aid unless the issue of abductions of Japanese citizens by North Korea in the 1970's and 80's can be resolved. South Korea's president called these "good results", but remains cautious. "All necessary measures must be taken immediately in order to translate the agreement into reality."