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Experts Ask US To Use Ex-Soviet Plan To End Korean Nuclear Crisis

Satellite image of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear facility.

Washington (AFP) Dec 17, 2005
A group of experts urged the United States Friday to use programs once used to contain the former Soviet Union's weapons threat in current efforts to end the Korean nuclear crisis.

They suggested so-called "cooperative threat reduction" programs, which Washington used in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union to contain the threat from weapons of mass destruction held by its successor states.

They were confident that the United States and North Korea would eventually be able to resolve their differences in six-party talks aimed at ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons drive.

"With better relations between Washington and Pyongyang, North Korea may be open to dismantling parts or even all of its WMD program in return for tangible political, economic and security benefits that might be provided through a program like cooperative threat reduction," the experts said in a report.

Among the authors of the report is Joel Wit, who served for 15 years in the State Department in positions related to Northeast Asia, nuclear arms control, and weapons proliferation.

"I think (the programs) are absolutely applicable" to North Korea, Wit, now a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told a forum Friday.

Wit, Jon Wolfsthal, another weapons control expert at the center, and Rose Gottemoeller from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said in the report that the proposed programs should be a US-led effort, with participation from Russia, China, South Korea and the European Union, among others.

The programs should cover North Korea's nuclear, missile and chemical and biological weapons.

"Elimination of these threats will require a series of diplomatic agreements, perhaps stretching out over the next decade at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars," they said.

"It will be a difficult process that will require using all means to secure North Korean agreement and to provide reasonable assurance that Pyongyang is living up to its commitments," they said.

US officials have said that Washington plans to retrain a small numbers of North Korean nuclear scientists and technicians if six-party talks among the United States, the two Koreas, Russia, China and Japan end with a solid agreement.

But the experts called for "far-reaching proposals" that would demonstrate to North Korea "a long-term commitment on the part of the United States not only to implementation of any Beijing agreement but also to helping Pyongyang redirect important resources that may bolster its economic development.

"And more far-reaching proposals would give the United States and others a greater chance of increasing transparency as well as of increasing the chances that a diplomatic solution will be long-lasting and irreversible," they said.

North Korea has agreed in principle to dismantle its atomic weapons network in return for energy aid and diplomatic and security guarantees but talks stalled after Washington imposed economic sanctions on it over alleged illicit financial dealings, including counterfeiting and money laundering.

related report
SKorean Minister Leaves For US To Discuss NKorean Nuclear Talks
Seoul (AFP) Dec 18 - South Korean Unification Minister Chung Dong-Young departed for the United States Sunday for talks with US leaders to discuss a stalemate in six-nation talks on North Korea's nuclear program.

Chung is to explain the outcomes of last week's inter-Korean ministerial talks and discuss with US leaders ways to break the stalemate in the nuclear standoff, his aides said.

Chung, also head of the National Security Council, will begin his US tour with meetings with lawmakers and a speech to the National Press Club in Washington on Monday, they said.

On Tuesday, he will hold talks with officials from the US department of commerce and meet with US-based Korea experts to discuss the nuclear standoff.

Chung will travel to Los Angeles Wednesday to give a speech to Korean residents and meet with a separate group of US-based Korea experts before his trip back home on Thursday.

Chung and his North Korean counterpart ended three-days of high-level talks in South Korea's Jeju island on Friday with Seoul's unsuccessful call for Pyongyang to return to the six-nation talks.

North Korea refused to respond to repeated requests from South Korea to agree to the early resumption of the talks grouping the two Koreas, China, the United States, Japan and Russia.

Pyongyang said Sunday the talks last held in November would be suspended indefinitely because of US economic sanctions on the Stalinist state over allegations of illegal money counterfeiting and laundering.

The two Koreas, which fought a 1950-1953 civil war, have boosted their exchanges since a peace summit between their leaders in 2000.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Iran Vows Destructive Response To Any Israeli Attack
Tehran (AFP) Dec 16, 2005
Iran on Friday warned its response to any attack by arch-enemy Israel would be "swift and destructive," amid rising tensions over Iran's stance toward the Jewish state.

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