All of a sudden North Korea has unveiled its nuclear programs that used to trouble the whole world just a couple of years ago. Spokesmen for the North Korean administration submitted the report of the nation’s nuclear activities to China.
The declaration of the nuclear program has become another step to liberate the Korean Peninsula from nuclear technologies. The crisis reached its peak in October 2006 when North Korea scared the world with its nuclear tests. In the beginning of 2007 Pyongyang agreed to turn down its nuclear program in return to foreign assistance. A nuclear reactor was closed in the summer of 2007 in Yongbyon. Now NKorea has made a declaration of its nuclear program.
In addition to material aid in the form of fuel shipments, NKorea counts on the softening of international sanctions. US President Bush stated yesterday that the USA would lift some sanctions under its Trading with the Enemy Act that had been put into effect against NKorea in 1950. In addition, Bush promised to take the nation off the terrorist list.
“The government of North Korea has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding 6-month period. The government of North Korea has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future,” he said.
The statement formally means that the USA lifts unilateral trade sanctions against North Korea.
The demolition of the cooling tower of NKorea’s major nuclear reactor in Yongbyon will become another step towards the elimination of nuclear technologies on the Korean Peninsula. North Korean authorities have already invited reporters and journalists of many TV companies representing all countries of six-sided nuclear talks to cover the event.
As for the declaration, China will distribute the document among other members of the negotiations – the USA, Russia, Japan and South Korea.
The contents of the NKorean declaration are not known yet. The document supposedly enumerates nuclear programs and materials. However, it has been reported that the declaration does not contain the description of experiments with uranium and the information on N.Korea’s nuclear cooperation with Syria.
Western experts believe that North Korea has several A-bombs at its disposal. This question will become the subject of further discussions.
As for the cooperation with Syria, North Korea simply stated that the nation conducts no nuclear cooperation with any country. This is the maximum of what the country can acknowledge at the moment.
The nuclear declaration of North Korea is important for the USA: this progress may become George Bush’s major success to crown his eight-year presidency.
Bush called the declaration a positive step in negotiations with a fickle regime that have been stop-and-go for years. The US president emphasized that he was keenly aware that Pyongyang had lied about its nuclear capabilities before.
"I'm under no illusions that this is the first step," Bush said. "This isn't the end of the process. This is the beginning of the process of action for action. "If North Korea continues to make the right choices it can repair its relationship with the international community ... If North Korea makes the wrong choices, the United States and its partners in the six-party talks will act accordingly," Bush concluded.
Little has changed for Pyongyang. Bush confirmed that the USA’s current actions would insignificantly affect the financial and diplomatic isolation of North Korea. He reminded that NKorea would remain the most heavily sanctioned nation in the world.
Conservative Republicans, who want the U.S. to take an even tougher stance against the regime, were incensed.
"It's shameful," said John Bolton, Bush's former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. "This represents the final collapse of Bush's foreign policy."
"Profound disappointment" was the reaction of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican.
Other lawmakers from both parties took the position that the declaration, though six months late, was better than nothing. They argue that the long-running negotiations the United States, Japan, South Korea, China and Russia have been having with Pyongyang offer the best chance of eventual denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
"Although more work remains to verifiably end North Korea's nuclear weapons program, this important achievement for the Bush administration is the direct result of painstaking, multilateral diplomacy," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican who has been largely critical of Bush's foreign policy.
Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat, said progress on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program remains incomplete.
"But the regime's nuclear declaration is the latest reminder that, despite President Bush's once bellicose rhetoric, engaging our enemies can pay dividends," Kerry said.
Bush said the U.S. action actually would have little impact on North Korea's financial and diplomatic isolation; Defense Secretary Robert Gates downplayed the effect of taking North Korea off the terror list, the AP reports.
"The reality is that there are so many other sanctions on North Korea because of its other behaviors that there's really no practical effect of taking them off the terrorist list," Gates said.
In the next 45 days - the congressionally mandated waiting period for removing North Korea from the terrorism list - the six negotiating partners will agree on how best to verify what the regime has declared. The North Koreans have said they will provide access to their facilities, including the reactor core and waste sites.