DPRK moving to full declaration of nuclear programs - US concerns over Syria / DPK joint program appears to have been sidelined
The excellent US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill who is doing a first rate job calls from the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Beijing, to tell us about his meeting the DPRK Vice Foreign Minister, the jovial Kim Kye Gwan in Beijing last week to agree an agenda for talks there this week (Maybe even today). Mr Kim despite his title is the head honcho in the six party talks.
They both first met in Pyongyang in June last year , which was immediately followed by the closing down of the Yongbyon nuclear facility which followed Mr Kim visiting New York in March earlier (see pic). North Korea has halted production of plutonium for bombs at its main nuclear facility ( it is likely they only ever produced a few grams) and began disabling it under the watch of U.S. officials so that it cannot be easily restarted. They also handed over documentation to the US for them to review how much plutonium was produced there.
They met again in April in Singapore and seem by all accounts to be getting near some form of further agreement. This was followed by a visit to Pyongyang by Sung Kim, chief Korea expert for the U.S. State Department which helped lay the dust over details for talks due today.
The principal aim of the talks is to resolve the long-delayed declaration by the DPRK of all its nuclear programs for eventual dismantling, the deadline of December having been ducked by the DPRK . There is considerable urgency by Mr Kim because the DPRK desperately want an end to their removal from the US terrism and economic sanctions blacklists which has which cut them out from international development banks and trade deals.
Our sources in Pyongyang say that there is still grave suspicion that the real goal of the Bush administration is not denuclearization but in fact regime change.
However The U.S. had previously insisted that any declaration included DPRK's alleged uranium enrichment program and nuclear cooperation with Syria. Curiously and to the evident distaste of some hawks , Washington has backed down from its demand for a "complete and correct" declaration that would cover all DPRK's past activities, including allegations of an alleged secret uranium enrichment program and nuclear cooperation with Syria. (An alleged reactor site was reportedly bombed by Israel in September).
U.S. officials now say DPRK will simply "acknowledge" the allegations and that controls would be set up to verify it does not engage in such activities in the future.
In April at the time of Sung Kim's visit to the DPRK, intelligence officials (CIA ?) briefed the House and Senate intelligence, armed services and foreign relations committees that the Syrian facility was not yet fully operational and that there was no uranium for the reactor and no indication of fuel capability.
The Washington Post quoted David Albright , President of Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) and a former UN weapons inspector, that the absence of such evidence warrants skepticism that the reactor was part of an active weapons program.
"The United States and Israel have not identified any Syrian plutonium separation facilities or nuclear weaponization facilities," he said. "The lack of any such facilities gives little confidence that the reactor is part of an active nuclear weapons program. The apparent lack of fuel, either imported or indigenously produced, also is curious and lowers confidence that Syria has a nuclear weapons program."
Which sounds like the whole bombing of a shed in the desert was a diversion and that claims about Syrian / DPRK nuclear co-operation was a load of bollocks. Anyway, now that is out of the way ....
Chris Hill has been quoted ahead of today's talks saying, "I hope we can get an overall timeframe that I can take back to Washington," .. in the next day or two he tells us he takes in Moscow on the way back home to meet Russian and South Korean representatives of the six party talks after a chat in Beijing tonight with Chinese and Japanese representatives, probably taking in a bite or two at the Diaoyutai, his non- favourite restaurant when in town.