Pyongyang is ready to declare all its nuclear programs and disable the
existing nuclear facilities "at a proper time" - which Seoul believes could be
"within this year".
Kim Kye-gwan, the chief nuclear negotiator of the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea (DPRK), said yesterday that his country is ready to cooperate
to make the Korean Peninsula nuclear free, but the precondition "for us to do so
is that other countries should fulfill their obligations".
He made the remarks as chief delegates to the Six-Party Talks concluded their
first day of meetings in Beijing.
Chun Yung-woo, the top Republic of Korea (ROK) negotiator, told reporters
that Kim, during a bilateral meeting, expressed Pyongyang's willingness to
declare all of its nuclear programs and disable its nuclear facilities "in five
or six months or even within this year".
The step will
be in line with the second phase measures under the February 13 agreement in
which the DPRK promised to shut down and eventually disable its key nuclear
facilities at Yongbyon.
Chief negotiators of the six-nation talks, which also involve China, the
United States, Russian and Japan, yesterday discussed at the Diaoyutai State
Guesthouse the initial steps being taken by the DPRK on denuclearizing the
peninsula as well as future targets.
"The atmosphere at the talks was as bright as Beijing's skies and was more
serious and businesslike than any other time," Chun told reporters after the
90-minute meeting as the Chinese capital was bathed in sunshine.
A series of bilateral or trilateral meetings were held early yesterday prior
to the chief delegates' meeting in the afternoon.
US envoy Christopher Hill said he expected a chairman's statement when the
talks end today as scheduled that would lay out a broad framework for the next
phase of the disarmament process, which would involve fully disabling Yongbyon
and the DPRK making a full declaration of its nuclear activities.
Subsequent talks would work out "precise benchmarks", Hill said.
"There was a lot of agreement around the table about what needs to be done in
this phase," he said.
Hill said on Tuesday he wanted the second phase completed by the end of the
year, but he declined to say whether the statement would set out that date.
Chief Japanese delegate Kenichiro Sasae said in the evening that the six
parties have yet to come to an agreement over the timeframe.
But the Japanese envoy noted that he got the impression the DPRK was prepared
to discuss fully the next steps it is to implement.
The meeting came shortly after the UN nuclear watchdog announced yesterday
that the DPRK had shut down its nuclear reactor and four related facilities, a
major step in efforts to give up its nuclear programs.
"Yes, we now verify that all the five nuclear facilities have been shut
down," Mohamed ElBaradei, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency,
told reporters in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, referring to the Yongbyon
"The team applied the necessary seals and other measures as appropriate," the
IAEA said in a statement in Vienna. "The installation of the necessary
surveillance and monitoring equipment by the IAEA team is expected to be
completed in the next few weeks."
Agencies - China Daily