June 28, 2008

North Korean Crisis Close to Solution

By Saibal Dasgupta

BEIJING: A solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis appeared on the horizon as the government in Pyongyang finally handed over the crucial document disclosing its nuclear programmes to the members of the six-party talks that include the United States and China. (Watch http://broadband.indiatimes.com/videoshow/ 3169556.cms)

The United States responded almost immediately saying it was now ready to lift the ban on trade with North Korea, a move that is bound to result in the sharp flow of aid and investment to the relatively backward nation from different countries besides the World Bank.

This is seen in diplomatic circles as a major victory for Chinese diplomacy as it was Beijing that provided the necessary assurances and guarantees for Pyongyang to agree to the disclosure of its nuclear facilities after North Korean leaders had rejected every move by the US government.

Choe Jin Su, North Korea's Ambassador in Beijing on Thursday met Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister and top negotiator on the Korean Peninsular nuclear issue Wu Dawei, and handed over the nuclear declaration listing all its nuclear programmes and facilities.

North Korea had earlier agreed to declare all its programmes and facilities by the end of 2007, but missed the deadline after differences emerged between Pyongyang and Washington over aid.

Talking to reporters on Thursday, Wu said he was confident the United States will implement its part of the deal and stop considering North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism besides ending the use of Trading with the Enemy Act to block aid and trade flows to it.

But North Korea's declaration itself is not enough to satisfy the US and other countries, who will verify the information supplied before according their final approval.

"The parties agreed that the declaration will be subject to verification and there is agreement within the Parties on a set of principles to guide the establishment of a verification regime", Wu said reading from a prepared statement. He refused to take any questions.

A Monitoring Mechanism will now be set up by the six parties to ensure implementation of obligations on the involved countries on issues concerning non-proliferation and economic and energy assistance.

The six parties have come a long say since they established a set of goals to be achieved on nuclear non-proliferation way back in September 2005.

"We believe that the developments will be conducive to implementing the second-phase actions in a comprehensive and balanced manner, and the final realization of all the goals in the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement", Wu's statement said.

The US responded saying it was an "important step" and promised to lift the provisions of the Trading with the Enemy Act besides announcing its intent to rescind North Korea's designation as a State Sponsor of Terror in 45 days. Washington will use the 45-day period to carefully assess North Korea's actions particularly with regard to verification".

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