U.S., N.K. resolve BDA dispute

Korea Herald

‘Pyongyang pledges to use funds for education, humanitarian purposes’

The United States and North Korea have resolved a dispute over $25 million in frozen North Korean funds, clearing the way for progress in dismantling the North’s nuclear programs, U.S. officials said Monday.

The U.S. nuclear envoy, Christopher Hill, said six-party talks – which resumed Monday – could now “move on to the next problem, of which there are many.”

U.S. Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Daniel Glaser said the funds would be transferred into a North Korean account at the Bank of China in Beijing to be used for education and humanitarian purposes. Glaser said Pyongyang had proposed the arrangement.

The funds, some of which U.S. authorities suspect may be linked to counterfeiting or money laundering by cash-starved North Korea, had held up progress in nuclear disarmament talks.

“North Korea has pledged … that these funds will be used solely for the betterment of the North Korean people,” Glaser said.

“We believe this resolves the issue of the DPRK-related frozen funds,” Glaser said using the acronym for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Under last month’s deal, North Korea – which conducted its first atomic test in October last year – would get badly needed energy aid and diplomatic concessions in return for shutting down its nuclear programs.

North Korea was given 60 days from the signing of the agreement to close its main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon and allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors back into the country to supervise.

In return, North Korea would initially receive 50,000 tons of heavy fuel for energy.

The impoverished state would eventually receive 1 million tons of heavy fuel or equivalent energy aid if it permanently disbanded its atomic weapons program.

Hill said he now expected the initial provisions of the February accord to be implemented on schedule.

“We look forward to that process continuing in the next 30 days, so that we will have the shutdown of the Yongbyon facility and the sealing of it and the monitoring of it by IAEA personnel,” he said.

Hill also insisted that the United States had achieved its goals in taking action against North Korea for money laundering and counterfeiting, despite allowing the $25 million to go back to Pyongyang.

“What this means is that the North Koreans understood our concerns (and were) prepared to cooperate with us to make sure the money is used appropriately,” he said.

South Korea, which has already said it will provide the initial batch of 50,000 tons of fuel oil, welcomed Monday’s development.

“Since the issue has been resolved, there will be no big obstacles… during the initial 60-day stage for disabling North Korea’s nuclear facilities,” chief South Korean envoy Chun Yung-woo told reporters.

Japan’s chief envoy, Kenichiro Sasae, expressed similar optimism but cautioned that the focus should remain on the much tougher task of permanently putting an end to North Korea’s nuclear program.

“What is important is that this is not the end… we must work by holding a broad view, a long-term view. We must not be caught up on day-to-day movement,” Sasae said.


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