Diplomacy Key To Halting North Korean Nuclear Program, Rice Says

By Melody Merin
Washington File Special Correspondent

Washington – The work by the five parties trying to solve the North Korean nuclear issue is the main topic of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s discussions in Moscow, she told journalists en route to the Russian capital October 21.

Rice said the purpose of her meetings in Moscow is “to continue the discussion among the five parties about the North Korea test and the adherence to Resolution 1718.” On October 14, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1718 after North Korea reported testing a nuclear device October 9. The five parties trying to change North Korea’s behavior – via the Six-Party Talks - are the United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea. (See related article.)

“To … effectively and persistently [carry] out Resolution 1718 … in a businesslike and effective manner … is the way to sustain the adherence to 1718 over time,” said Rice. She added that talks among allies and members of the international community will continue in addition to pursuing more practical measures, such as detecting and monitoring equipment, to carry out the resolution.

Resolution 1718 bans trade with North Korea on all materials with direct or dual use application for weapons of mass destruction (WMD); bans the sale or purchase of battle tanks, warships, armored combat aircraft, attack helicopters, missiles or missile systems; prohibits nations from using their territories or allowing their nationals to provide North Korea technical training, advice, services or assistance on WMDs; and prohibits the sale of luxury goods to North Korea.

The resolution requires nations to freeze the funds, assets and economic resources of individuals or businesses - which will be designated by the council's sanctions committee - connected with North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and impose a travel ban on individuals and their families connected with weapons of mass destruction programs.


When asked about China’s role and that country’s first support of a resolution adopted under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter against North Korea, Rice said that “Chinese attitudes about North Korea are evolving” and called China’s act “unusual and significant.”

While acknowledging that the relationship between the two Asian countries is not going to change overnight, Rice noted China’s influence on North Korea: “China … seems to be trying to use that relationship to bring about more responsible North Korean behavior so that we do know that they’ve used that relationship to warn against tests, to warn against further escalations, to try to get [North Korea] back to talk.” (See related article.)

The secretary was asked to comment on reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il apologized for the test during his recent meeting with Chinese State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan. “In a fairly thorough briefing to me about the talks, [the Chinese] said nothing about an apology [by Jong Il] for having launched a test,” Rice said, referring to her talks in Beijing.


Commenting on the recent tensions between Georgia and Russia, Rice said that “the rhetoric really needs to be lowered.”  She said that the United States, acting through the Organizations for Security and Cooperation in Europe, helped to resolve the crisis concerning four Russian soldiers arrested in Georgia on charges of espionage.

Their detention triggered the latest Georgian-Russian argument. “I think we’ve been clear with both sides that cooler heads need to prevail here. … I would be especially concerned that there be no rhetoric that might encourage activity, military or provocative activity, in the frozen conflicts in Abkhazia or South Ossetia,” Rice said. (See related article.)

Speaking about the recent murder of a prominent Russian journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, by an unknown assailant in Moscow, Secretary Rice said that “the fate of journalists in Russia is a major concern.”

Politkovskaya, a respected investigative reporter and author, was killed in her Moscow apartment building on October 7. She often reported on human rights abuses and war atrocities in Chechnya. The United States has called on the Russian government to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation. (See related article).

Rice also stressed the importance of independent press in Russia, mentioning Novaya Gazeta, the publication that employed Politkovskaya, will be interviewing the secretary during her visit in Moscow.

On her way to Moscow, Rice also spoke about the issue of foreign nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Russia, which were required to re-register by October 18 under a new Russian law. According to press reports, only about 90 of 175 applications were processed. Rice said she hopes to raise the NGO issue when she meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The law gives Russian authorities 30 days to process applications, but the United States has urged Russia to re-register the NGOs “as rapidly as possible” to ensure the continuity of their operation. (See related article.)

A transcript of Rice’s en route briefing is available on the State Department Web site.

For more information, see The U.S. and the Korean Peninsula.