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Bush On North Korea

Lava flows during an eruption of Mount Etna volcano as seen from the village of Viagrande, near the Sicilian town of Catania, Italy. Mount Etna, Europe's most active volcano, has erupted, sending up a towering plume of ash visible in much of eastern Sicily.

The policy of the United States is a Korean Peninsula free of all nuclear weapons. That goal, said President George Bush, was advanced recently "when North Korean officials submitted a declaration of their nuclear programs to the Chinese government as part of the Six-Party Talks." In addition to the U.S. and China, the Six-Party Talks include South Korea, North Korea, Japan, and Russia.

The United States welcomes North Korea's steps toward disabling its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon. Until July 2007, the site was being used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons. The disabling of the facility is overseen by officials from the U.S., and the shut-down and sealing of the facility is monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. North Korea also took the symbolically important step of blowing up the cooling tower at the Yongbyon facility on June 27.

In response to its denuclearization efforts, President Bush terminated the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act with respect to the DPRK. Mr. Bush also announced the U.S. intention to rescind North Korea's designation as a state sponsor of terror at the end of a forty-five day period, during which the United States will carefully observe North Korea’s actions and cooperation on verification and respond accordingly.

North Korea will remain one of the most heavily sanctioned nations in the world. The sanctions that North Korea faces for its human rights violations, its nuclear test in 2006, and its weapons proliferation will all stay in effect.

In order to end its isolation, North Korea must dismantle all of its nuclear facilities, give up its separated plutonium, resolve outstanding questions on its highly enriched uranium and proliferation activities, and end these activities in a way that can be verified. North Korea must also cooperate with Japan to address the abduction of Japanese citizens by North Koreans.

Diplomacy has yielded some promising results. Yet the diplomatic process is not an end in itself. "Our ultimate goal," said President Bush, "remains clear: a stable and peaceful Korean Peninsula, where people are free from oppression, free from hunger and disease, and free from nuclear weapons." The journey toward that goal remains long, but North Korea has taken an important step in the right direction.