NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 11 (July 10, 2008) |
*** TOPIC OF THE WEEK
G8 Leaders Urge N. Korea to Abandon Its Nuclear Programs
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The leaders of the world's eight most advanced economies on July 8 urged North Korea to fully cooperate in the process of disabling and dismantling its nuclear programs under a multilateral deal. The leaders of the Group of 8 -- the United States, Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Russia -- made the statement at the end of their two-day summit in the northern Japanese city of Toyako.
"We also emphasize the importance of swift disablement of all existing nuclear facilities and the abandonment of all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs by the DPRK," the leaders said in the statement. DPRK stands for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. They also stressed the need for the North to "fully cooperate in the verification process, including its effective implementation."
The statement comes ahead of the resumption of the six-party talks on July 10 after a nine-month hiatus following North Korea's belated presentation of a list of its nuclear programs late last month.
The statement welcomed the recent progress in the six-party nuclear talks, and expressed the leaders' "continuous support for the six-party process towards the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the eventual normalization of relations between the relevant six-party members through the full implementation of the Sept. 19 joint statement in 2005, including the resolution of the outstanding issues of concern such as the abduction issue."
Japan has been refusing to provide energy aid to North Korea under an aid-for-denuclearization deal, citing a lack of cooperation by North Korea on Japan's claim that North Korea continues to hold several Japanese citizens that it kidnapped in the 1970s and 1980s. Eight were returned by the communist North in 2002.
The statement also urged the North to fully comply with United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1695 and 1718, which call for Pyongyang to abandon all of its nuclear weapons and programs and ballistic missiles in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner and return to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.
Nuclear negotiators from the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia are already in Beijing for bilateral and multilateral consultations on a regime for verification of the North's nuclear declaration. The plenary session of the six-party talks is expected to last for three days until July 12.
High on the agenda of the talks will be appraisal of the North's recent declaration of its nuclear activity, establishment of a verification mechanism and the setting of a date for an agreed-upon meeting of foreign ministers from the six nations, according to South Korea's nuclear negotiator Kim Sook.
Chief U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill expressed hope on July 8 that the upcoming talks will address a verification regime for the disablement of the North's nuclear programs and hopefully dismantlement of them as well.
Upon arriving at Beijing, Kim Sook said, "I will hold consultations with each country to secure an important bridgehead for achieving the goal of North Korea eventually giving up its nuclear weapons programs."
Under a 2005 deal signed by the six parties, North Korea is supposed to freeze its nuclear facilities in the first phase, disable them in the second phase and dismantle all of its nuclear programs in the third and final phase in return for massive economic benefits and diplomatic recognition.
North Korea expelled IAEA inspectors from its Yongbyon nuclear complex and abandoned the NPT in early 2003, just months after the U.S. accused it of running a secret uranium-based nuclear program. The U.S. also suspended energy aid and construction of two light-water reactors, which are less likely to produce weapons-grade plutonium.
The benefits had been provided under a Geneva agreement signed by North Korea and the U.S. in 1994 in exchange for the North's freezing of operations at its Yongbyon nuclear facilities and shutdown of all its nuclear activities.
Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the Group of 8 summit, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met separately with U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on July 9. He held summits with the leaders of India, Mexico and Brazil the previous day shortly after his arrival in Sapporo for his two-day Japanese trip.
In an interview with a Japanese newspaper, Lee urged North Korea to be more transparent about its nuclear weapons program and settle the issue of the North's abductions of South Korean and Japanese civilians if it truly wants to join the international community.
"North Korea's recent nuclear declaration can be evaluated positively, but it fell short of expectations because the North's nuclear arsenal was not included in the declaration," said Lee in the interview with the Tokyo Shimbun reported on July 8.
"The North has to be persuaded that an abandonment of its nuclear weapons program will be beneficial. North Korea also has to resolve the issue of its abductions of Japanese as well as South Korean people," said the president.
North Korea blew up the cooling tower at its main nuclear center in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, in late June in the presence of international officials and television crews, following the delivery of its nuclear declaration to China.
Lee denied speculation that inter-Korean relations have been stagnant, saying South Korea's industrial activities are still brisk in North Korea's Kaesong industrial complex and that the number of South Korean tourists to the North's Mt. Kumgang has been steadily increasing.
Lee, along with leaders of 13 other non-G8 countries -- China, India, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Indonesia and a group of seven African nations -- was invited to this year's expanded G8 summit for a more concerted global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and rein in oil and grain prices.