Progress made on DPRK nuke issue but skepticism remains:Rice

Updated: 2008-04-18 07:24

WASHINGTON -- US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that progress has been made on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s nuclear issue, but skepticism remains.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, seen here a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill April 15, 2008, said Thursday progress had been made in talks with North Korea over declaring its nuclear activities, but added she remained cautious and skeptical. [Agencies]

"Have we made progress through the six-party framework? Yes. Is there still reason for caution and skepticism? Yes," Rice said during a briefing at the State Department.

"North Korea is disabling its Yongbyon nuclear facility, and we are in the second phase of our implementation agreement to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. The outcome we and our partners require is a full account from North Korea of all its nuclear programs, including any uranium and nuclear proliferation activities," she said.

Rice hailed the importance of the six-party talks, which group China, the United States, the DPRK, Japan, Russia and South Korea.

"The six-party framework has demonstrated great value. Through it, we have found common ground with China, Japan, Russia and South Korea on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and fighting proliferation," Rice said.

Rice emphasized that the six-party talks will eventually lead to "the actual removal, for the first time in history, of nuclear material from North Korea and a verifiable end to its nuclear programs."

Under an agreement reached at the six-party talks in Beijing in February last year, the DPRK agreed to abandon all nuclear weapons and nuclear programs and declare all its nuclear programs and facilities by the end of last year, in exchange for diplomatic and economic incentives.

However, the DPRK missed the deadline, although there was reported progress in its nuclear disablement and declaration.

The United States has urged the DPRK to fully declare its nuclear programs and activities.

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