Monday, September 19, 2005

The light at the end of the tunnel?

Significant news comging from Beijing after signals that the six-way talks were close to breaking down over the issue of North Korea keeping its "peaceful" nuclear programs. According to AP, North Korea has promised to drop both its nuclear weapons development AND its supposedly peaceful, non-weapons-related nuclear programs. It will rejoin international arms treaties in what is a unanimous agreement today in the six-party arms talks:
The North "committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning at an early date" to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, according to the agreement.
In exchange, the North would receive energy assistance and a pledge from the United States that it won't attack. Pyongyang and Washington pledged in the agreement to respect each other's sovereignty and right to peaceful coexistence, and also to take steps to normalize relations.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said, "It's a good agreement for all of us." But he added: "We have to see what comes in the days and weeks ahead. We have to seize the momentum of this."

According to AP, negotiators will hold more talks in November, where they were expected to move on to concrete discussions about implementing the broad principles outlined in Monday's agreement. Hill has warned that could still be a long process.

North Korea has also refused to totally disarm without getting concessions along the way, while Washington has said it wants to see the weapons programs totally dismantled before granting rewards. The statement, however, says the sides agreed to take steps to implement the agreement "in a phased manner in line with the principle of 'commitment for commitment, action for action.'"

Japan and North Korea also said in the statement they would move to normalize relations regarding "the outstanding issues of concern," which most likely refers to the issue of North Korea having kidnapped Japanese citizens.

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