Australia to send diplomatic team to N.K.

Korea Herald
Yoav Cerralbo

Last week, the Australian government announced that it would be sending a diplomatic team to North Korea to help strengthen bilateral ties.

In Seoul, Australian Ambassador Peter Rowe spoke about this news with The Korea Herald, explaining that the Australian team will be looking at ways they can help in energy, aid and safeguards expertise.

“These are things that Australia can contribute,” he said.

Rowe said that Australia, a strong proponent of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, would be “happy” to provide expertise and training in nuclear safeguards as part of North Korea’s dismantling process.

This bilateral exchange is not new to both countries. After the 1994 framework agreement, Australia helped to train and install safeguards in North Korea.

“That was when we started to develop the bilateral relationship,” he said. “It was only as the North Koreans were doing things like missile and nuclear tests that we had to run backwards.”

He added that Australia wants to see North Korea as a constructive, positive member of the international community.

“If North Korea wants to join the international community in this process, that is return enough for us because it contributes to regional security and stability,” the ambassador said.

The diplomatic mission would be coordinated with the other members of the six-party talks and as the secretive and unpredictable regime fulfills the benchmarks that were set up in the deal, Australia would be there in support and would reciprocally increase the relationship.

The idea of this mission, Rowe said, is to urge North Korea to fulfill the obligations they’ve undertaken in this most recent agreement. “That will be its main task.”

At the six-party talks recently, fueled-starved North Korea agreed to start the process of shutting down their Yongbyon nuclear reactor within 60 days in return for initial aid equal to 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil after international inspectors have confirmed the shutdown.

“I’m reasonably confident that North Korea will go with the commitments they made for the first 60 days,” he said.


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