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‘Long-Term Battle’ Expected in Disablement of Yongbyon Nuclear Reactor

‘Long-Term Battle’ Expected in Disablement of Yongbyon Nuclear Reactor

Posted July. 17, 2007 03:16,   


“Despite some signs of progress, we should see this to the end because North Korea has never failed to disappoint us.” Earlier this year, an official of the U.S. said this in private to describe that negotiations with the North are like walking on thin ice.

In fact, after the February 13 agreement of the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear issue, the transfer of North Korea’s funds frozen in the Banco Delta Asia to Pyongyang served as a stumbling block that delayed the implementation of the initial steps of the agreement. It was a “sudden issue” that no one expected.

Even when Pyongyang notified the U.S. of the shutdown of its Yongbyon nuclear reactor on July 14, Washington didn’t give a big welcome to the news because it had to practice “ultra-difficult diplomacy” to get the North to acknowledge the existence of a Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) program, which the regime denied, saying “This is an manipulation of the U.S.”, while helping them not to lose face.

In a Fox news program on July 15, Stephen Hadley, assistant to the president for national security affairs, said clearly, “The next move is to hear from the North about what it has done with its hidden HEU program.” It shows stark contrast to the statement of the North’s deputy representative to the U.N. Kim Myong Gil a day earlier, who put emphasis on “advancing the timetable of forming a good U.S.-North Korea relationship.”

In an interview with Associated Press, Kim said “The rollback of hostile policies (against the North) and the removal of the North from the list of terrorist supporting countries should come first before the disablement of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor.”

One of Washington’s sources on diplomacy said on July 15, “Due to the big difference in primary concerns between the U.S. and North Korea, there is a possibility that future negotiations will become a long and boring tug of war.” Besides, the two requests of North Korea require amendment of U.S. domestic laws. But the predominantly Democratic U.S. Congress does not have a unanimous opinion over these issues.

This source also added, “Since the Bush administration and Congress are in disputes over the Iraq war, there are many delays in core policy agreements like the ratification of the KORUS FTA or reform of immigration law.”

Christopher R. Hill, assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, presented a goal of “disabling the North Korea’s nuclear program within this year.” In Washington, however, people like William Perry, former defense secretary, predict that, “The negotiations will continue after the Bush administration.”