US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, right,
speaks to journalists before heading out to six-party talks on North
Korea's nuclear program in Beijing Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2007.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) yesterday agreed to shut
down and seal its nuclear facility in Yongbyon within 60 days in exchange for
energy a process widely seen as a major breakthrough.
Under the deal reached at the Six-Party Talks to denuclearize the Korean
Peninsula, Pyongyang will as the first step also accept monitoring from, and
verification by, the International Atomic Energy Agency within the timeframe.
In return, it will receive an initial 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil or
equivalent of economic and humanitarian aid, Wu Dawei, the chief Chinese
negotiator, said in Beijing yesterday.
The DPRK will subsequently take complete measures to irreversibly "disable"
its nuclear programs and receive 950,000 tons of fuel oil, or the equivalent in
the form of economic or humanitarian aid, from China, the United States, the
Republic of Korea (ROK) and Russia.
The 1 million tons of fuel would be worth around $300 million at current
prices for Asian benchmark high-sulphur heavy fuel oil, which is used in power
stations, shipping and elsewhere.
The joint agreement outlining the initial actions the DPRK will take to end
its nuclear drive and the economic rewards it will receive in return was reached
after five days of hard negotiations.
All the parties agreed to take coordinated steps to implement the joint
statement of September 19, 2005 in a phased manner in line with the principle of
"action for action".
Under that agreement, Pyongyang pledged to give up its nuclear program in
exchange for energy aid and security guarantees.
According to the new agreement, bilateral talks will start between the DPRK
and the United States, and between the DPRK and Japan, to find ways to resolve
bilateral disputes and move toward diplomatic relations.
Washington will also begin the process of clearing the DPRK from a list of
state sponsors of terrorism.
Opinion: Powerful diplomacy
It is an outcome that the international
community has waited for far too long. The breakthrough is a profoundly
encouraging achievement for the six nations. The new agreement will give
fresh momentum to the diplomatic process.
The initial actions also cover the establishment of five working groups
within 30 days on denuclearization, normalization of DPRK-US and DPRK-Japan
relations, economic and energy cooperation, and Northeast Asia peace and
Meeting with heads of delegations to the talks after the closing ceremony,
State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan said the just-concluded session is a major
breakthrough and the Six-Party Talks mechanism itself has entered a substantive
"The Chinese government firmly supports the document and will spare no
efforts to take on its responsibilities," Tang said.
He said the result has once again showed that diplomatic negotiations are the
"correct and practical way" to resolve political disputes.
US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, also the country's chief
negotiator to the talks, told reporters: "Obviously we have a long way to go,
but we're very pleased with this agreement. It's a very solid step forward."
In Washington, the White House said the agreement is "a very important first
step" toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Chinese analysts were pleased with the breakthrough.
Ruan Zongze, a senior researcher at the China Institute of International
Studies, described the agreement as a New Year's gift.
He said "Pyongyang and Washington, like the other four sides in the talks,
had made great compromises on their positions during Monday's 16-hour
marathon-like session", which showed their sincerity to make substantive
He said it is of great political significance that the six parties reiterated
that they would fulfil the commitments made in the 2005 joint statement.
Qi Baoliang, a researcher with the China Institute of Contemporary
International Relations, said the initial actions are "the first important and
concrete steps toward nuclear disarmament, and the agreement charts the
direction for future development."
Agencies contributed to the story
(China Daily 02/14/2007 page1)