The Six-Party Talks on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula are moving forward. The talks have been underway since 2003 among the United States, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, China, and Russia.
President Bush said, “One area where we are making good progress is on North Korea. . . . I’m convinced that it’s more effective to have five countries to say to North Korea the same thing than just one country. . . . North Korea still looks like they’re going to shut down their nuclear programs, which will be good for peace.”
As the North Korean government takes steps to denuclearize, it will be provided with economic, energy, and humanitarian assistance. In a September 2005 joint statement, North Korea pledged to abandon all of its nuclear weapons and nuclear programs. North Korea shut down and sealed its nuclear reactors and related facilities at Yongbyon and Taechon in July.
As part of the next phase in implementing the September 2005 agreement, the North Korean government must now provide a complete declaration of all of its nuclear programs and disable all of its nuclear facilities.
Ambassador Christopher Hill, head of the U.S. delegation to the Six-Party Talks, said after a U.S.-North Korea bilateral working group meeting in Geneva, “One thing that we agreed on is that the D-P-R-K [North Korea] will provide a full declaration of all of their nuclear programs and will disable their nuclear programs by the end of this year, 2007.”
Within the Six-Party framework, the United States and North Korea have also started talks aimed at resolving bilateral issues and moving toward full diplomatic relations.
Another working group, of officials from Japan and North Korea, is aimed at taking steps to normalize their relations and deal with such issues as the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea. The U.S. has repeatedly pressed North Korea to improve relations with Japan and to address Japan’s concerns.
As President Bush said in an interview with Japanese television in August, “And so the abductee issue is an important issue. Of course the Japanese are concerned that what will happen is, is that we’ll conclude the nuclear weapons issue and then forget about the abductee issue. And the answer is, I won’t forget about the abductee issue.”
The next session of the Six-Party Talks is expected to take place in September.