North Korea agrees to disable its main nuclear reactor

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Flag of North Korea

North Korea has agreed to disable its main nuclear reactor in Yongbyon and to give complete details of its nuclear program by December 31, 2007, and "not to transfer nuclear materials, technology or know-how," according to a statement issued in Beijing. The agreement was reached as a result of negotiations involving six nations: China, the United States, Japan, Russia, North Korea, and South Korea. As a result, the United States said that it would work with North Korea to remove it from the U.S. list of terrorism sponsors.

U.S. President George W. Bush welcomed the announcement. Bush spokesman Gordon Johndroe called North Korea's pledge "a major step towards the goal of achieving the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."

Nevertheless, the announcement left some important questions unanswered. "The biggest question is about their uranium enrichment," said Gary Samore, an analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. "They have agreed to provide a declaration by the end of the year, but there is no process for verifying it. The danger is that North Korea will make the declaration, the U.S. will question it, and they will say take it or leave it," Samore said.

North Korea's announcement came amid an historic summit between South Korea's President Roh Moo-hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, only the second such meeting since the end of the Korean War.

Linking the North Korean and Iranian nuclear crises, U.S. President George W. Bush said that he would be willing to meet with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad if he were to make a similar move. "We are willing to sit down with him so long as he suspends his program, his nuclear weapons program," he said.

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