N. Korean nuclear envoy says North is ready to implement 6-way pact


North Korea’s top nuclear envoy on Thursday said his country is ready to carry out an agreement from the recent six-party talks over its nuclear ambition, which calls on the communist nation to shut down its nuclear-related facilities in two months.

“We are ready to implement the results of the meeting,” Kyodo News agency quoted Kim Kye-gwan as telling Russia’s top diplomat in the North and an official from the Chinese embassy there at Pyongyang’s airport.

The Russian and the Chinese diplomats were apparently at the airport to welcome the North’s vice foreign minister who returned from Beijing where he and nuclear negotiators from South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia and China held talks since last Thursday.

Pyongyang puts some spin on 6-way talks agreement
State media say it will close nuclear facilities ‘temporarily’

Joong Ang Daily
Brian Lee

Pyongyang’s state-controlled media have given what may be a signal that Pyongyang is prepared to reinterpret Tuesday’s agreement at the six-party nuclear talks in Beijing even before the ink on it is dry.

The Korean Central News Agency, hours after the nuclear deal was reached, reported that participants had agreed to supply North Korea with 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil in return for a “temporary” suspension of operations at the North’s nuclear facilities.

It also reported that Washington and Pyongyang would begin discussions possibly leading to diplomatic relations, but did not describe the rest of the agreement, in which the closing of the North’s facilities was intended as a prelude to their “disablement.” The shipment of all but 50,000 tons of crude oil supplies was contingent on that complete shutdown, a declaration of all the North’s nuclear programs and international inspections of those facilities.

It was not clear, however, whether the reports were intended as a definitive statement of North Korea’s interpretation of the agreement or, as one South Korean official suggested yesterday, a bit of domestic propaganda to demonstrate to its populace that its nuclear programs had boosted the nation’s prestige.

Some private analysts in Korea concurred. Koh Yoo-hwan, a North Korean specialist at Dongguk University, contended that because of the North’s tight control of information, even the most senior military leaders in the North would not be able to see easily the entire text of the agreement. “So the announcement focused on what the North would get,” he concluded

But a diplomatic source in Seoul was not fully convinced, noting that sometimes agreements were struck only by deliberately vague diplomatic language. “Different interpretations lead to agreements,” he said. “Shaky ones.”

Even the Chosun Shinbo, a pro-Pyongyang news outlet in Japan, carried a report of the agreement along the lines of the Pyongyang news agency, even though the full text of the agreement is widely available in Japan. (The full text of the agreement can be found on the JoongAng Daily’s Web site, joongangdaily.joins.com.)

Many independent analysts were cautious in reacting to the agreement, although the political leadership in all six nations praised it. Michael Green, a Georgetown University professor and former State Department official who participated in earlier nuclear negotiations with Pyongyang, said the hard part of implementing the agreement would come in its second phase, the “dismantlement” of the North’s nuclear reactor and nuclear fuel reprocessing facility, which has no deadline attached.

The six-party talks are scheduled to resume in Beijing next month; if the commitments by both Pyongyang and its negotiating partners are met within the 60-day deadline, the foreign ministers of the six countries are also expected to meet to discuss next steps.


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