The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) blew up the cooling tower at the nuclear plant of its Yongbyon facility Friday afternoon, Beijing time, a symbolic and constructive move to show its commitment to a disarmament deal struck with the other five parties including China, Japan, Russia, the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States. This came just a day after it handed over a long-delayed account of its nuclear program.
The significant step the DPRK took Friday is not only welcomed by the parties concerned but alsoexpected to make the Korean Peninsular a nuclear-weapons-free zone. Responding to the DPRK's latest move, US President George W. Bush took a step forward by removing it from a US list of state sponsors of terrorism and issued a proclamation lifting some sanctions under the Trading with the Enemy Act.
China, playing a facilitating role in the Six-Party Talks, also hopes the second phase of actions will be implemented in a balanced, effective and all-round way, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said on June 24. Liu's statement was made in a backdrop of a new round of positive moves and substantial progress scored in the related consultations. Therefore, the Six-Party Talks gained momentum again, moving forward after temporary obstacles were removed through concrete efforts.
Due to the absence of mutual trust between the DPRK and the US, each obstinately keeping to their own points of view on the matters they have done and ought to do, the decision-making processes was accompanied by hesitation and wavering. It was inevitable that the deadline would not be reached in time, let alone an ‘action to action' timetable. This reveals the non-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsular is indeed a drawn-out and complex process.
According to the timetable originally prescribed, Pyongyang was required to start dismantling its Yongbyon nuclear plant and provide the nuclear list by the end of 2007. American and South Korean officials acknowledged that the DPRK declaration, which came six months after a December 2007 deadline, and fell short of addressing all concerns about Pyongyang's atomic ambitions, especially on past nuclear proliferation activities. But they said the DPRK has taken most of the steps to put the Yongbyon facility, including the reactor -- a plant to make nuclear fuel and another to turn spent fuel into plutonium -- out of business for at least a year.
It is hoped that the lifting of the 58-year-old US sanctions would enable the DPRK to tap into badly needed international finance, create greater investor confidence in the country, and give a boost to its weak economy. People worldwide are now looking forward to the loosening of the bottleneck that had hindered the progress of the Six-Party Talks, as it is not only a great step made by the DPRK, conforming to the long-term, strategic interests of all the parties concerned and is conducive to lasting peace and stability in Northeast Asia.