2008.10.01: October 1, 2008: Headlines: COS - Korea: Figures: COS - Cameroon: Diplomacy: International Herald Tribune: U.S. envoy Christopher Hill returns to North Korea to salvage nuclear deal

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Cameroon: RPCV Christopher R. Hill (Cameroon) : RPCV Christopher R. Hill: Newest Stories: 2008.10.01: October 1, 2008: Headlines: COS - Korea: Figures: COS - Cameroon: Diplomacy: International Herald Tribune: U.S. envoy Christopher Hill returns to North Korea to salvage nuclear deal

By Admin1 (admin) (70.249.83.132) on Wednesday, October 01, 2008 - 2:33 pm: Edit Post

U.S. envoy Christopher Hill returns to North Korea to salvage nuclear deal

 U.S. envoy Christopher Hill returns to North Korea to salvage nuclear deal

North Korea reversed its February 2007 agreement to disable Yongbyon after Washington insisted upon a robust nuclear verification mechanism - including visits to undeclared sites and the gathering of soil samples - to check whether it was hiding activities, in particular a suspected uranium enrichment program. North Korea said that such inspections were never part of the deal, in which it said Washington promised to remove it from the list of state sponsors of terrorism once it made a declaration of its nuclear assets. The North submitted the declaration in June, but U.S. officials said it left too many questions unanswered. Hill reportedly carried with him a new proposal in which Washington would remove the North from the terrorism list once it submitted a verification regime not to Washington but to its ally, China, which is leading the six-nation disarmament talks. Such a move could save face for the North. But officials and analysts in Seoul said they were unsure whether it would work. Washington and Pyongyang remain divided over the visits to undeclared nuclear sites and the taking of samples. The reported ill health of Kim Jong Il, the North's all-powerful leader, also added uncertainty to Hill's last-minute efforts to rescue one of President George W. Bush's so-called legacy issues. Christopher R. Hill, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon.

U.S. envoy Christopher Hill returns to North Korea to salvage nuclear deal

U.S. envoy returns to North Korea to salvage nuclear deal

By Choe Sang-Hun

Published: October 1, 2008

SEOUL: Washington's chief nuclear negotiator arrived in North Korea on Wednesday to try to keep the regime from reactivating its nuclear weapons program, while a news report said Pyongyang might be restoring a nuclear test site as well.

Christopher Hill, the U.S. assistant secretary of state, passed through the heavily fortified border to arrive in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang from Seoul. His trip was seen as the Bush administration's last chance to salvage the nuclear disarmament deal it had struck with the North after years of difficult negotiations.

In mid-August, North Korea stopped disabling its main nuclear complex in Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, and begun reassembling it. It had set Wednesday as a deadline for the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying that if no further agreement was reached it would move "nuclear material" into a plant that can make weapons-grade plutonium out of spent nuclear fuel.

Also Wednesday, the South Korean Defense Ministry announced that the two Koreas would hold military talks Thursday at a border village.

The meeting was proposed by North Korea, which has shunned official dialogue with the conservative government of President Lee Myung Bak, who took office in February.

Also Wednesday, the South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that smoke had been seen rising around the underground nuclear test site at Punggye, in northeast North Korea. The report could not be confirmed.

North Korea was believed to be burning clothing and equipment that was used when workers restored the test site, Yonhap reported, quoting an unidentified government source. North Korea detonated a nuclear device in a tunnel there in October 2006.

The South Korean government said it could not confirm the report.

Aware that its nuclear and missile sites are closely monitored by American spy satellites, North Korea often stages activities there to increase its leverage in negotiations, analysts in South Korea said.

Although it is restoring its nuclear complex and banning IAEA and U.S. experts from the plutonium-making plant, North Korea still allows them to stay in Yongbyon, allowing them to witness what it is doing there.

That situation - and the fact that North Korea invited Hill to visit Pyongyang - raised cautious optimism that the North was ready for a compromise.

But analysts said it also was likely that the North could merely be taking advantage of the U.S. election campaign to wait to deal with a new administration in Washington.

North Korea reversed its February 2007 agreement to disable Yongbyon after Washington insisted upon a robust nuclear verification mechanism - including visits to undeclared sites and the gathering of soil samples - to check whether it was hiding activities, in particular a suspected uranium enrichment program.

North Korea said that such inspections were never part of the deal, in which it said Washington promised to remove it from the list of state sponsors of terrorism once it made a declaration of its nuclear assets.

The North submitted the declaration in June, but U.S. officials said it left too many questions unanswered.

Hill reportedly carried with him a new proposal in which Washington would remove the North from the terrorism list once it submitted a verification regime not to Washington but to its ally, China, which is leading the six-nation disarmament talks.

Such a move could save face for the North. But officials and analysts in Seoul said they were unsure whether it would work. Washington and Pyongyang remain divided over the visits to undeclared nuclear sites and the taking of samples.

The reported ill health of Kim Jong Il, the North's all-powerful leader, also added uncertainty to Hill's last-minute efforts to rescue one of President George W. Bush's so-called legacy issues.

On Tuesday, Hill emphasized that an agreement on verification does not mean that the North will be subject to immediate inspections.

"It is not to say that we are going to have anything verified," he said. "The verification will actually take place later on. But we need to know what the rules of the road are for verification."

Hill was expected to return to Seoul as early as Thursday.




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Story Source: International Herald Tribune

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Korea; Figures; COS - Cameroon; Diplomacy

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