Arms Control Association (ACA) experts called the Oct. 3 agreement in the six-party talks for disabling North Korea’s core nuclear facilities a “another positive step leading North Korea in the right direction—toward denuclearization.” ACA is a non-partisan, independent organization working in support of effective arms control policies.
“This agreement will further lock-in the gains made when North Korea shut down its plutonium-producing facilities and, if carried out as planned, this moves us closer to the goal of verifiably eliminating North Korea’s nuclear weapons capacity and bringing them back into the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive direction of the Arms Control Association.
In the joint statement agreed by China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and the United States, North Korea pledged to complete the disablement of its plutonium-production facilities and provide a full accounting of all of its nuclear programs by the end of this year.
Maintaining the framework of “commitment for commitment, action for action” underlined in a Sept. 19, 2005 joint statement, the recent agreement specifies steps to be taken by North Korea leading to its denuclearization and reciprocal moves by the other five states to provide benefits to Pyongyang for its positive actions. These benefits include the provision of an additional 900,000 tons of heavy-fuel oil to North Korea in addition to the 100,000 tons already provided this year and talks on normalizing North Korean relations with Japan and the United States.
“The agreement is certainly not the end of the road toward denuclearization. It does not immediately address some very important aspects of the program that must be addressed, such as North Korea’s suspected uranium enrichment program and any weapons produced by Pyongyang,” said Peter Crail, ACA’s specialist on North Korea’s nuclear program.
“Addressing these important aspects is going to take time, continued dialogue, and confidence-building because North Korea likely sees them as its major leverage, and will not be willing to give them up readily,” Crail noted. “The important thing in the meantime is that they cannot make any more plutonium,” he added.
North Korea s believed to have separated enough plutonium in its Yongbyon facilities for up to 10 nuclear devices. On Oct. 9 2006, Pyongyang detonated its first nuclear device.
“President Bush and Assistant Secretary of State Hill deserve credit for engaging North Korea and pursuing tangible steps toward denuclearization in a step-by-step fashion,” Kimball said.
Kimball suggested that the stepwise approach that has yielded results with North Korea might be replicated with Iran. “It should be recalled that Washington agreed to move forward with the six-party talks before North Korea agreed to stop its plutonium operations. It might be possible to achieve similar gains if Washington agrees to talk to Iran even before Tehran halts its uranium enrichment activities,” said Kimball.Responding to questions Oct. 3, President Bush compared the two cases and said that the United States would be willing to talk to Iran as long as something can be achieved.
For additional information on North Korea see < http://www.armscontrol.org/country/northkorea>.