President George W. Bush has said that U.S. patience is "not unlimited" regarding North Korea's pledge to shut down its Yongbyon nuclear facility.
Under an agreement reached at the six-party talks in February, North Korea agreed to shut down and seal for the purpose of eventual abandonment the Yongbyon nuclear facility, including the reprocessing facility. North Korea agreed to invite back personnel from the International Atomic Energy Agency to conduct all necessary monitoring and verification within sixty days. North Korea also agreed to discuss a list of all its nuclear programs with the other participants in the six-party talks -- the United States, Japan, China, South Korea, and Russia.
In the same agreement, the other parties agreed to provide North Korea with fifty-thousand tons of heavy fuel oil as emergency energy assistance, as North Korea takes these actions. That assistance has not been provided yet, as the North has not yet carried out its commitments. According to the agreement, in the next phase, North Korea will provide a complete declaration of all its nuclear programs and disable all existing nuclear facilities. It will then receive economic, energy, and humanitarian assistance up to the equivalent of one-million tons of heavy fuel oil from the other parties.
U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said North Korea must make good on its pledge to shut down the Yongbyon facility:
"The important thing we want to see happen is that they actually take actions to fulfill their commitments.... The North Koreans are being encouraged to take those steps and do so as soon as possible. We need to get back to the important business at hand, which is the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula."
President Bush said the United States, Japan, China, South Korea, and Russia have all sent the same message to North Korea's government:
"That we expect you to honor agreements you made, which include not only locking down their plant, but also dismantling their programs, and all programs -- giving up weapons programs and weapons."
In public statements, North Korea has continued to reiterate its commitment to the February 13 agreement, but it must follow through with concrete steps to implement its commitments. If it looks like North Korea is not going to honor its pledges, said President Bush, the United States and its allies have the means of sending a "strong message" -- including stricter economic sanctions.