1. North Korea Allows IAEA Team to Visit Nuclear Plant
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North Korea will allow a team of U.N. nuclear watchdog officials to visit the Yongbyon reactor it agreed to shut down under a disarmament-for-aid deal, Japan's Kyodo news agency said on Wednesday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) delegation headed by Olli Heinonen is already in Pyongyang, capital of the secretive communist state, to negotiate terms for inspectors to monitor the shutdown.
"Tomorrow, we're going to Yongbyon," Kyodo quoted Heinonen as saying. He said the team would return to Pyongyang on Friday.
The Yongbyon reactor is the source of bomb-grade plutonium for North Korea, which conducted its first nuclear test last year.
North Korea ejected IAEA inspectors in December 2002, left the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty shortly afterwards and, in 2005, announced it had nuclear weapons.
The U.S. military commander in the Pacific region said Washington would also seek to independently check whether North Korea shuts down the Yongbyon reactor.
"We will try to verify the shutdown in support of and in coordination with other agencies, including the IAEA," Admiral Timothy Keating told reporters in Manila.
"You bet, we're going to pay very close attention along with other countries in the six-party talks."
The disarmament accord struck by the two Koreas, Japan, Russia, the United States and China in February was stalled for weeks by a dispute over some $25 million of North Korean funds frozen in a Macau bank.
Pyongyang said this week it had received the money and would begin work on implementing the deal.
The ultimate goal of the six parties is to disable the Yongbyon complex and completely scrap the rest of Pyongyang's nuclear program in exchange for massive aid, security guarantees and better diplomatic standing.
2. China Calls for Progress in Six-Party Nuclear Talks
Xinhua News Agency
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China on Tuesday called on the six parties to the Korean Peninsula nuclear talks to fulfill their commitments and make further progress.
"The fund issue of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has finally been resolved and a new round of intense contacts has started," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.
"China appreciates the positive stances and constructive efforts of the parties and hopes they continue to fulfill their commitments and implement initial actions to push for progress of the Six-Party talks and progress in achieving a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula," Qin said.
China was communicating and consultating closely with the parties on the next steps in the talks, Qin told a regular press conference.
The DPRK on Monday announced the dispute with the United States over 25 million U.S. dollars frozen in Macao's Banco Delta Asia had been resolved, and vowed to start implementing the disarmament deal struck in February.
The financial dispute over the return of the frozen assets held up progress of the talks for months.
In a related development, a working-level delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), headed by its deputy director general Olli Heinonen, arrived in Pyongyang Tuesday to discuss the shutdown of the DPRK's nuclear facilities at Yongbyon.
Qin said Heinonen would brief China about the visit after he returned to Beijing on Saturday, but "relevant arrangements are still under discussion".
"China is open to whatever proposals that are conducive to achieving a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and peace and stability in northeast Asia," Qin said.
1. Briefing on His Recent Travel to the Region and the Six-Party Talks by Christopher R. Hill , Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and Head of the U.S. Delegation to the Six-Party Talks
Department of State
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ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Okay. Thanks a lot, Tom. Well, I've just been in the region for about ten days. We had extensive consultations with all the parties, except for the Russians, and that's something I intend to do on the telephone with Ambassador Losyukov. And during the visit, as you all know, I spent some 22 hours in Pyongyang doing essentially the same thing I did with the others, which was to discuss the way ahead.
I think the next couple weeks are going to be a very important period for the six-party process. We have, as of today, as many of you heard the North Koreans are -- have invited the international monitors to come in and negotiate the terms by which they will monitor the shut down of the Yongbyon nuclear facility. They'll obviously be going into a lot of details about which -- actually which facilities. There's, as you know, the two key facilities there, a nuclear reactor and a reprocessing facility.
So assuming all goes well this week, and I don't why I make that assumption because usually in the six-party process if there's a problem out there then the problem will arise. But assuming all goes well in the next -- I think it's a four-day visit, we will then look forward toward the shutdown beginning at some point after that. We would then hope to have a six-party meeting of some kind, head of delegations, informal, formal, probably in the second week in July. Again, I -- this is going to be up to the Chinese who are going to be consulting with all the parties, but I would think at some point during the week of July 10th. And what we would be trying to do is to plop the next set of initiatives after the shutdown of the complex and begin the process of sequencing additional economic assistance and additional -- what we'd look for is the full declaration of North Korean programs, North Korean nuclear programs, to be abandoned pursuit to the September '05 agreement and then the disabling of the reactor.
Now, disabling has got to be defined. But essentially what it involves is making it so that the reactor cannot be brought back on line without an enormous repair bill. And I think there are a number of ways you can disable a reactor. This is going to be something that technical people will be talking to other technical people about, but obviously the more extensive the disabling, the better from our point of view.
We would hope once we get into the disabling phase that we could also do something that is called for in the September '05 agreement which is to begin a peace process on the Korean Peninsula among directly affected parties. And our definition of that -- I think everyone's definition of that would be the U.S. and China and the two Koreas.
So we have a long way to go. What we're looking for in terms of shutting down this reactor or shutting down this complex in Yongbyon is just the first step of many steps. But if all goes well, we would hope that by the end of the calendar year '07 we will have the facility shut down and disabled. We would have a peace process, peace mechanism talks underway in the Korean Peninsula. We will have had a six-party ministerial and a way charted that would lead to some kind of Northeast Asian security process; a means by which countries in the region can really talk to each other in a multilateral forum. We would like to see additional meetings of the working groups, including the two bilateral working groups, the U.S.-DPRK Bilateral Working Group and the Japan-DPRK Bilateral Working Group, both so that there would be progress made in the normalization process with the understanding that the full normalization will not take place until there's full denuclearization. So we have a lot of work to do, but I think what we're working on right now I think is a very important step which is to shut down the facility and prevent the production of additional plutonium.
Looking into '08, what we would do is tackle end game issues. And a major issue for the end game, of course, is the complete denuclearization which would be the abandonment of fissile materiel that the DPRK has already produced and finally -- and the abandonment of all weapons or explosive devices that they have and that that would lead -- and all of those things would lead to a final cross recognition or normalization in the region. So a lot of work to do. I think we're going to sort of -- within my shop this week we'll be discussing what we might start doing next week. I think we'll have some -- a lot of consultations with our six-party partners and take it from here. So with that introduction, I'll go to questions.
QUESTION: Assuming that all goes well, to use your words, in this coming -- and you say you would expect to have the envoy level six-party talks in the second week of July, one is that -- is it envisioned sometime after that and perhaps as early as the end of the month, perhaps around the ASEAN, the regional forum meeting, that there could be the six-party ministerial?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes.
QUESTION: And two -- sorry?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: That's what we're kind of looking at, I mean, I can't say whether it's at the ASEAN regional forum or just before or just after, but some time in that timeframe.
QUESTION: Okay. And then, two, is it your --what was -- is it your impression from having been -- just been in Pyongyang in dealing face-to-face with these people, even though you've met them elsewhere before that the North Koreans are really serious and really willing to go about this this time and that there isn't -- that, you know, you talked about the problems, if there's a problem to be had -- if there were a problem out there, it's always going to come up. Do you have any kind of level -- confidence level about this?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I'm -- yeah, I'm certainly proceeding on the assumption that they're serious. They told us that as soon as they confirm that their funds are in their bank account, they would issue a statement, which they did today -- last night. So I have no choice but to proceed on the basis that they are serious as we are. Things have -- do come up and have come up and we can expect them to come up in the future, but, you know, I think we're going to try to move along. And again, it's step by step with the understanding that every step afterwards gets more difficult than the one before.
QUESTION: Can I follow up on North Korea?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yeah.
QUESTION: Yeah. What gives you the rationale that you can trust the North Koreans? I mean, what makes you think that North Korea isn't going to hold up things at every kind of benchmark that you go along, I mean, if they don't get every drop of their fuel and that could take months? And I mean, are you going to exhibit the same amount of patience that you exhibited before? You were extremely patient with the North Koreans, with the understanding that you thought it would work itself out. But I mean, are you going to continue to let them dictate the kind of terms and timeframe of the agreement? And I have just another --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I mean, the timeframe issue is a concern. I mean, the way -- we had this on a step-by-step basis, meaning that no one is frontloading all the -- no one is taking all their actions ahead of the other. So it's true that this first step has taken far longer than any of us anticipated and certainly longer than the February agreement called for. On the other hand, the North Koreans had not received any of their funds, had not even had access to these funds from the Macau Bank; and two, have not received a drop of the 50,000 tons of fuel oil. So there's no question that in insisting on having their funds in a bank account, they were able to hold up the pace of the thing, but I don't see them as having benefited from this delay. So -- well, as we go forward, you know, if it's in our country's interest for me to be "impatient", fine, I'll be impatient. But I think it was in our interest to be patient here and try to get through this and we'll have to figure that out as we go along.
QUESTION: I just have another quick one. There's been some talk about as you do the dismantling and the -- that perhaps the U.S. would engage in some kind of buyback program of North Korean weapons --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, I saw that, yeah. Yeah, I saw that. Well, you know --
QUESTION: Is that something you're willing to consider?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, look, we have to have a serious talk about the whole issue of highly enriched uranium. We know that they've made purchases that are entirely consistent with the highly enriched uranium program. So we -- one way or the other, we're going to have to get to the bottom of it. And we need clarity on this -- not just some clarity, but complete clarity. We need to know what this was all about and how far did they get if they enriched uranium? That obviously needs to be included in the declaration. This equipment needs to be included in the declaration of nuclear programs that they would abandon, pursuant to the agreement. So we have made very clear on many occasions that we have to get to the bottom of this and we'll do that. At this point, I can't tell you how we're going to eventually deal with it.
QUESTION: Why didn't you seek to get to the bottom of that in your visit in Pyongyang? Was there any discussion of the HEU present?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: It's -- we discussed everything.
QUESTION: When you say things like: We need to know how far it got, whether they enriched uranium or not, that suggests that you are proceeding in this from a disadvantage insofar as you don't know -- as Donald Rumsfeld once famously said -- what you don't know. So how will you ever been in a position to verify that if there is such a program that all of it has, in fact, been dismantled?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: What was the Donald Rumsfeld quote? (Laughter.)
QUESTION: That you don't know what you don't know. I mean, if you're operating from such a blind position, with respect to the parameters and the scope of this program, how will you ever been in a position to verify that it's actually gone?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You're making an assumption that we're operating from a blind position. And actually, we knew of some things and I can't share them all with you because sources and methods are at issue, but I can assure you we know some things. And what we know, we need to discuss and we need to figure out how far they got. So don't assume that we're operating from a "blind position." Presumably, there are some things that we don't know. And in terms of getting complete clarity, we need those issues, those blanks filled in. But we will do this. We're not going to end up with a situation -- denuclearization where the problem of highly enriched uranium purchases has somehow been pushed under the rug. We have to get clarity on that. Everything needs to be out there.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Have the North Koreans agreed to shut down the program consistent with U.S. objectives as defined in CVID?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think the -- it's our view that the September agreement which envisions their abandoning all programs, all weapons, returning to the NPT, is such a commitment. And it's a commitment they have restated on several occasions. So the answer to your question is yes.
QUESTION: On this trip, when you were discussing with the Foreign Minister or others this -- you know, talks of moving towards a peace process or some broader sort of defense architecture for the region, did you get a sense on what the North Koreans -- do they have any vision on how they see moving forward? Or, I mean, did you get at least a sense on how they'd see a peace agreement?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: There are two things here. One is a peace mechanism on the Korean Peninsula. The second is participating in a broader dialogue forum on Northeast Asia. During the conversations in Pyongyang, I found they were -- we engaged on both subjects. They did not come forward with ideas of their own, but we engaged on both of these subjects. And they indicated support for these, but we don't have -- I cannot tell you with any degree of specificity how they envision the -- how they envision their participation in these. So -- but there was a discussion about them.
QUESTION: Just for clarification, and you alluded to it in your opening remarks, but does the -- the U.S. is interested mostly in the shutdown of the two main facilities at Yongbyon, not every building that's on the site?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I mean, we want to shut down the ability to produce and process plutonium. But I don't want to get into the technicalities of that because we have an IAEA team going in to do precisely that. But the point is we don't want a situation where -- I mean, we want a situation where once it's done there will be no more plutonium produced there.
QUESTION: I mean, as you know, working with North Korea, you're always looking at where the next stumbling block might be. And going into the next phase, there's three areas that seem a particular challenge; coming up with a declaration of all their nuclear weapons; the definition for disabling Yongbyon and; I think also one -- which he just brought up is the Japanese Working Group getting that to -- where they can actually talk to each other.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yeah.
QUESTION: How do you see those three in terms of which is going to be the most difficult and how would you rank those challenges?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think -- one that, I think we can figure out is the disabling issue. I think that's not going to be as challenging as the other two. I think the full declaration issue is going to be upon us because that's one of the first things we need to do in this second phase. And the key question there is going to be the HEU issue. So we need to start getting somewhere with these conversations on HEU very soon, because if we don't have clarity on that then we really don't have a declaration.
And I'm sorry, the third one was the abduction issue?
QUESTION: Getting the Japanese Working Group -- Japanese-North Korean Working Group on track where they can actually talk to each other.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You know, I think -- well, it's a tough problem; don't get me wrong. But I would put that in the middle of the other two.
QUESTION: So no effort has been made in your discussions with the North Koreans to prove the existence of the HEU program. You've just been asserting this fact and getting whatever answers you get from them?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, James, that's not the way I put it. That's not the way I put it at all. I've made quite an effort to make it very clear that as we go forward in this process, and we are getting to crunch time because of the declaration. The declaration is key for the HEU, that we need to have clarity and that doesnï¿½t mean some clarity. That means clarity. We need to know what has been going on there. So I have made that abundantly clear and continue to do so. And I do believe that when we get to this issue of the declaration, we will have clarity or we won't have a declaration. So I'm not prepared at this point -- I mean, we have some information but we need to match it up against the information they give us and we need to have a discussion. And I think there's going to have to be a technical discussion on some of this.
I mean, I wasn't there to negotiate HEU. I mean, there are a lot of people in this building who know it far better than I do. But I was there to make very clear to them that as we go forward we are going to have to resolve that issue.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that a "historic" nuclear energy pact with India could be clinched this year with enough commitment from both sides.
"Had this been easy, it would have been done a long time ago," Rice told the US-India Business Council, while trumpeting the deal's benefits both to fast-growing India's energy needs and to US nuclear companies. "I myself am dedicated to getting it done, and we need to get it done by the end of the year," she said. India and the United States have been discussing the fine print of the accord for two years after Washington agreed in principle to reverse three decades of US sanctions on nuclear trade with India.
The outlines of the deal, described by Rice as "historic and pathbreaking," were agreed even though New Delhi refuses to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and had tested nuclear weapons in 1998.
Under the deal, India is to separate nuclear facilities for civilian and military use and set up a regime of international inspections in return for technology and nuclear fuel supplies.
Despite several rounds of talks, India has stood fast against accepting any curbs on its reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.
India also wants assurances that Washington will continue to supply fuel for its atomic plants in the event New Delhi conducts further nuclear weapons tests.
"I feel that we have strong commitments on the part of both governments because we have strong commitment on the part of our leaders," Rice said.
India is "a country for whom economic development cannot afford to slow" and needs new energy sources to maintain growth without contributing to global warming, she said.
Aside from inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), India must also agree to demands for export and non-proliferation safeguards by the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group. India has proposed to set up a special unit to reprocess spent atomic fuel under international safeguards in a bid to close the US deal, the Press Trust of India reported this month.
The proposal was reportedly offered by Indian officials on the margins of a Group of Eight summit in Germany, at which Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President George W. Bush held talks.
1. IAEA to Assist China and Qatar on Nuclear Security
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The IAEA has recently signed two "practical cooperation arrangements" with China and Qatar aimed at assisting the two countries to develop their nuclear security regimes. According to the terms of the arrangements, the IAEA will cooperate with and support China and Qatar to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of nuclear security in a number of areas. This will include:
ï¿½ Advising the two Member States on physical protection measures for nuclear facilities; ï¿½ Helping to provide equipment for the prevention and detection of criminal acts involving nuclear and other radioactive material; and ï¿½ Providing information related to illicit trafficking and other unauthorised activities. ï¿½ The arrangements also include the possibility for the IAEA to provide nuclear security consultation, advisory missions, training and assistance in response to nuclear or radiological security incidents if requested. In addition, the Agency will help develop cooperation among various national authorities. As part of the arrangement signed with China, the IAEA and the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) intend to work together to enhance nuclear security arrangements for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
The arrangements signed with China and Qatar cover activities which are part of the IAEAï¿½s plan, known as "IAEA Nuclear Security Plan for 2006-2009", to assist Member States in building and implementing better nuclear security regimes. The planï¿½s objective is to achieve improved worldwide security of nuclear and other radioactive material in use, storage and transport, and of associated facilities, by supporting Member States in their efforts to establish, maintain and sustain effective national nuclear security regimes.
The arrangement with the Supreme Council for the Environment and Natural Reserves of Qatar was signed on 8 June while that with CAEA was signed on 13 June. Both arrangements were signed at the IAEAï¿½s headquarters in Vienna. The arrangement signed with the CAEA also calls for the two parties to cooperate in the development and upgrading of a CAEA-IAEA Joint Training Centre, allowing it to serve as a regional training centre for physical protection and nuclear material accountancy and control.
IAEA assistance and technical support to Member States in the field of nuclear security has taken on various forms in the past years. For example, in 2004 the Agency assisted Greece with the implementation of a nuclear security plan for the Athens Olympic Games. In 2006, it signed a practical cooperation arrangement with Pakistan and, more recently, the IAEA signed an arrangement with Brazil relating to the security of the 15th Pan-American Games taking place in Rio de Janeiro on 13-29 July 2007. The IAEA also has an on-going agreement with France covering the field of nuclear security dating back to 2005.
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