North Korea Promises to Abandon Nuclear Weapons

BEIJING, China, September 19, 2005 (ENS) - The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), or North Korea, has pledged to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs. The promise came in the form of a joint statement adopted here today by the six parties to the Korean nuclear talks, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced.

Parties to the talks include China, Japan, North Korea, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. Kimkye

Kim Kye-gwan is head of the delegation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to the six party talks. (Photo courtesy Government of China)
"The DPRK committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning, at an early date, to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and to IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards," said the statement.

The joint statement is the first breakthrough since the six party negotiations opened under Chinese sponsorship in August 2003.

The statement says the Republic of Korea, or South Korea, reaffirms its commitment not to receive or deploy nuclear weapons in accordance with the 1992 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, while affirming that there exist no nuclear weapons within its territory.

The United States affirmed in the statement that it has no nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula and has no intention to attack or invade North Korea with nuclear or conventional weapons.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei chaired the fourth round of the six-party talks. They were held in Beijing in two phases, from July 26 to August 7 and from September 13 to 19.

All six parties accepted a new draft agreement of "principles" proposed by China which permits the North to have civilian light water reactors but only after it abandons its nuclear weapons program, rejoins the Non-nuclear Proliferation Treaty and allows United Nations nuclear inspections.

The DPRK and the United States undertook to respect each other's sovereignty, exist peacefully together, and take steps to normalize their relations subject to their respective bilateral policies, it says. Hill

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Christopher Hill is Head of the U.S. delegation to the Six-Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. (Photo courtesy U.S. State Department)
"It's a big decision for them, a big undertaking," said chief U.S. delegate Christopher Hill, "but it's absolutely the right decision for them."

The DPRK and Japan also undertook to normalize their relations in accordance with the Pyongyang Declaration, on the basis of the settlement of past outstanding issues of concern.

Hill and Japanese chief delegate Kenichiro Sasae both said that the agreement is only a starting point that must be worked on and implemented in the days and weeks to come.

The statement says the six parties agreed to take coordinated steps to implement their consensus in a phased manner in line with the principle of "commitment for commitment, action for action."

The six parties unanimously reaffirmed that the goal of the six-party talks is the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner. They undertook to abide by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and recognized norms of international relations, the document says.

The Russian delegation hailed the joint statement as "historic."

"The joint document outlining the key principles of the future nuclear-free status of the Korean peninsula was adopted for the first time in the history of the six-nation talks," Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Alekseyev told the Novosti news agency.

"We think this is a historic document as it contains a number of provisions that we could not consider real even six months ago," he said.

The six parties undertook to promote economic cooperation in the fields of energy, trade and investment, bilaterally or multilaterally, it says.

China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the United States stated their willingness to provide energy assistance to the North, and South Korea reaffirmed its proposal of July 12, to provide two million kilowatts of electric power to the DPRK.

They also agreed to hold the fifth round of the six-party talks in Beijing in early November at a date to be determined through consultations.