"Our first and highest priority is ensuring the verifiable
denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," said U.S. Secretary of State
The choice facing North Korea is very
clear. If the government continues to violate international law and
destabilize the region by pursuing a nuclear weapons program, the other
members of the Six-Party talks -- China, Japan, Russia, South Korea,
and the U.S. -- will lead international efforts to further isolate
On the other hand, if the North Korean government
verifiably abandons all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs,
it stands to gain humanitarian and development aid, non-nuclear energy
assistance, and a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
has been some limited progress on North Korean denuclearization. Based
on a 2007 agreement, North Korea, after initially only freezing the
program, is currently disabling its three core nuclear facilities at
Yongbyon. U.S. and International Atomic Energy Agency personnel are on
the ground monitoring the work.
As the denuclearization of
North Korea moves forward, verification will continue to be a serious
challenge. "We will not just trust North Korea," said Secretary Rice,
"to fulfill its commitments. Rather, we are insisting on verification,
including on-site access to facilities and sites in North Korea."
as we work toward denuclearization," said Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, "we will continue to press the North Korean regime to
improve the lives of its people":
"We have helped to resettle
refugees fleeing lives of repression and misery in North Korea. We
have raised the issue of human rights. We have helped to facilitate
talks between Japan and North Korean concerning the tragic cases of
Japanese abductees. The United States will never be silent in our
support for human rights. The non-negotiable demands of human dignity
are not bargaining chips."
North Korea's nuclear weapons program
developed over decades. It is a danger to the region and to the
world. The best way to put North Korea out of the nuclear weapons
business and to pursue respect for human rights is by working together
with Japan, South Korean, China, and Russia.