U.S., North Korea agreementNorth Korea and the United States have drawn up a remarkable agreement at the two-day meeting in Geneva to normalize their relationship. “One thing that we agreed on is that the DPRK will provide a full declaration of all of its nuclear programs and will disable its nuclear programs by the end of this year, 2007,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill. Kim Gye-gwan, chief negotiator for Pyongyang, affirmed Hill’s statement: “We had made clear our willingness to declare and disable our nuclear programs as already agreed. The United States reconfirmed the political and economic returns.” The comments were not in the official documents, but it can be considered a major breakthrough.
The most important part is that the agreement has strengthened the idea of the Feb. 13 accord at the six-party talks. But nothing was mentioned regarding the timeline in the agreement. Skeptics claim that the North will not include its uranium enrichment program in the declaration, which was one of the biggest concerns for us. This meeting solved much of the worries on the timeline and the enrichment program. North Korea also mentioned its intention to include the uranium enrichment program on the list when declaring. However, we will have to see if North Korea will keep the verbal pact since the two countries, North Korea and the United States, have not entirely agreed on the definition of “disabling and disclosing.”
There can be disputes over what enrichment program equipment was acquired and how much the North spent on it. Opinions may conflict on when the United States will terminate its trade embargo on North Korea and on other measures the United States has agreed to offer. If things go wrong, the February agreement may come to an end. That possibility exists.
A cautious approach is needed. Remember the situation in 2000, when the relationship between North Korea and the United States improved. President Bill Clinton almost visited the North, but the North took its time with the missile issues and Clinton gave up on his visit. Once again, the North and the United States are on good terms, but a wrong move from the North could reverse the progress. Leaders in Pyongyang must show a prudent approach.
The United States also has its part to do. It’s not only about the nuclear development program, but measures have to be prepared for the nuclear weapons that already exist. Issues must not be overlooked in a rush for a diplomatic outcome.