Kerry discusses nuclear weapons

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Kerry discusses nuclear weapons


Amid concerns over a deal that would tentatively freeze Iran’s nuclear program, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Middle Eastern nation will keep its commitment, unlike North Korea, which has only made lukewarm promises about its weapons program in return for lifted sanctions.

In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Kerry said there are “many reasons” why the situation in Iran is different than that of North Korea.

“First of all, [Iran is] a member of the [Non-Proliferation Treaty],” he said. “Secondly, they have engaged in a negotiation. Thirdly, they have committed to have daily inspections of certain facilities. They have committed to restrict their activities with those inspections taking place.

“And in addition to that, they have publicly committed that they are not going to build a nuclear weapon,” he said. “North Korea already has, and has tested, and will not declare a policy of denuclearization. So, there are many different things that lead one to at least say that we ought to be exploring and testing the possibility of a diplomatic solution.”

Kerry continued, saying that the deal was not a matter of trust, but a verification of whether Iran would, indeed, abandon its nuclear program.

“We have no illusions,” he said. “You don’t do this on the basis of somebody’s statements to you. You do it on the basis of actions that can be verified; and moreover, we have kept the basic architecture of the sanctions in place.”

His remarks came after comments from critics claiming the temporary agreement would not be effective to halt Iran’s nuclear program. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal “a historic mistake.”

Over the past 20 years, North Korea frequently walked away from a series of deals with the United States and South Korea in which it pledged to give up its nuclear ambitions in return for economic assistance.

In December 1991, North Korea signed a deal with the South agreeing on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But Pyongyang broke its promise a year after in March 1993 by declaring its resignation from the Non-Proliferation Treaty and refusing the International Atomic Energy Agency’s request for special inspections.

Later, Pyongyang agreed to sign a framework in 1994 promising to freeze operations at its Yongbyon reprocessing facility in exchange for receiving two light-water reactors and supplies of heavy fuel oil.

But international authorities have continuously raised suspicions that North Korea has been cheating on its commitments to denuclearize, secretly developing nuclear weapons.

In 2002, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly visited the North and alleged that it appeared to be developing uranium, after which the 1994 agreement was scrapped.

So far, North Korea has carried out three nuclear weapons tests, including the latest one in February this year. The six-party talks - a dialogue that included the two Koreas, China, the United States, Russia and Japan - aimed to find a resolution to security concerns from North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. However, talks have been stalled since late 2008, as the Communist state has refused to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.


BY KIM HEE-JIN [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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