North Korea will face isolation if it walks away from nuclear talks

North Korea will find itself in a "wilderness of isolation" if it walks away from a landmark agreement to give up its nuclear program, but will see a host of economic and diplomatic opportunities if the deal sticks, the chief U.S. envoy for talks with the country said Tuesday.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill also suggested that the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council could play a role in verifying North Korea's disarmament if it happens.

By turns conciliatory and stern, Hill said North Korea has much more to lose in the next round of talks on its rogue nuclear program because it risks alienating the other countries involved, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea. "If they walk away from this, they would truly walk into a wilderness of isolation," Hill told the Asia Society in Manhattan. "They walk away not just from the U.S. but from all their neighbors."

But a solid agreement could lead to stronger economic cooperation with South Korea and possibilities once considered remote: establishing bilateral relations with the United States and whether North Korea can be removed from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Hill emphasized that he believed the deal last month was worthwhile even though North Korea had come out just 24 hours later with what appeared to be a new demand.

According to the accord, North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear program and return to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in exchange for economic aid, security assurances and improved ties with the United States. The United States and the others in the talks agreed to discuss giving North Korea a light-water reactor "at an appropriate time," reports the AP. I.L.

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