Korean Peninsula Six-Party Talks Resume in Beijing

By Jacquelyn S. Porth
USINFO Staff Writer

Washington –- As the Six-Party Talks on a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula resumed in Beijing December 18, the head of the U.S. delegation said North Korea has to make the fundamental decision to get out of the nuclear business.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said the goal of the resumed multilateral talks is to develop a plan to implement the September 2005 agreement signed by North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and the United States.  He said it is important for all to understand that “the September 2005 package needs to be implemented as a whole.” (See related article.)

The agreement is aimed at getting North Korea to stop developing a nuclear program.

There are technical issues in the September 2005 joint statement that several expert-level working groups need to address to implement energy and economic assistance offers, as well as the eventual normalization of the U.S.-North Korean relationship, Hill said.

Because so much hard work has gone into the Six-Party process, the assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs said, now “we do need to see some results.”  This process is the best one to achieve the elimination of nuclear programs from the Korean Peninsula diplomatically, he said.  (See related article.)

The negotiations have been in abeyance since November 2005.  Since then, Pyongyang detonated a nuclear device October 9, but Hill said Chinese, Russian and U.S. officials have told the North Koreans “that we don’t accept them as a nuclear state.”  If the North Koreans want to be a member of the international community and work with us, he said, “They’re going to have to get out of this nuclear business.”

Hill said there have been too many delays, and now that the representatives are back at the table, they need to “pick up the pace and work a little faster.”

“[W]e are prepared to try to take some of the elements of the September statement and try to get them done this week to demonstrate that the process, indeed, has legs and is moving forward.”

The North Koreans must realize that they are now at an important juncture, Hill said.  “We would like the denuclearization via a diplomatic negotiation, but if they don’t want that we are prepared to go to the other road.”  The alternative track would involve sanctions against Pyongyang and would hurt the North Korean economy.

In a December 16 Reuters interview, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said North Korea not only has to take concrete steps to demonstrate that it is serious about the nuclear programs elimination process, but also to show that the process is irreversible. (See related article.)

For more information about U.S. policy, see Limiting Nuclear Weapons and The U.S. and the Korean Peninsula.

Transcripts of remarks on North Korea by U.S. officials are available on the State Department’s Web site.