U.S. officials said Monday they expect North Korea to make its long-awaited
declaration of its nuclear program this week, probably Thursday. The action
would open the way to the next phase of the six-party deal under which Pyongyang
is to scrap its nuclear program in return for aid and diplomatic benefits. VOA's
David Gollust reports from the State Department.
officials say they expect the declaration Thursday based on comments by North
But they're expressing caution, noting that past
timetables have slipped, and also stressing that the declaration must be
verified if Pyongyang is to reap promised benefits.
North Korea was to
have made the declaration of its nuclear possessions and activities at the end
of last year, and the delay has stalled implementation of the six-party
White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said Thursday is a
deadline for the declaration cited by North Korea itself, but that if follow-on
actions are to be taken the document must be reviewed and considered
In a talk with reporters here, State Department Deputy
Spokesman Tom Casey said the Bush administration is ready, on receipt of the
declaration to inform Congress of its intention to remove North Korea from its
list of state sponsors of terrorism.
But Casey noted that by U.S. law there is a
45-day waiting period for the decision to be enacted, and during that time
verification steps must get underway:
"One thing that's extremely
important to us, presuming we get a declaration and that announcement is then
made, is that we will use that 45 days as an opportunity to work on the
verification process," said Tom Casey. "And certainly there would be
consequences in that process, should it be determined that North Korea is not
complying with the verification terms, or has otherwise not provided the kind of
declaration that everyone hoped for."
The chief U.S. delegate to the
six-party talks, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, is holding
consultations in Beijing and would be ready to join in a meeting of all six
delegation chiefs if the North Korean declaration is indeed
North Korea has indicated it is ready to demolish the cooling
tower of its Yongbyon nuclear complex as a show of good faith after submitting
Spokesman Casey said U.S. officials monitoring the
disablement of the Yongbyon reactor would witness the demolition. He said
Assistant Secretary Hill has no plans himself to attend the event or to visit
Pyongyang this week.
Hill is expected to remain in the region to brief
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who begins a visit to Japan, South Korea
and China later this week.
Rice told reporters traveling with her to
Germany Monday that if North Korea submits a complete and accurate declaration
it would be an important step that would trigger several reciprocal actions
including "de-listing" Pyongyang as a terrorism sponsor.
At the same
time, Rice told a questioner the United States is not going to "set aside or
forget" the issue of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korean intelligence
agents in the 1970's and 1980's.
Japanese officials have opposed dropping
North Korea from the terrorism list, and lifting associated economic sanctions
without a resolution of the abduction issue.
Rice in the airborne news
conference credited U.S. pressure for a North Korean agreement with Japan last
week to reopen investigations of the abduction cases.
She said she
recognizes it is a "wounding issue" for Japan, and one which the United States
will continue to press North Korea on to make certain it is dealt with.