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October 3, 2007
Bush Approves North Korean Nuke Pact
From our "We'll believe it when we see it" files comes the news that President Bush has signed off on a draft agreement that would force the North Koreans to shut down its nuclear program and give a list of nuclear activities to the 6 nations that have taken part in the negotiations:
President Bush yesterday approved a draft agreement with North Korea that would disable its main nuclear complex and produce a full list of Pyongyang's other atomic activities by year's end in exchange for political and economic incentives from the United States and its partners. So what price are we paying for NoKo cooperation in dismantling its nuclear program? We have agreed to supply1 million tons of heavy fuel oil, electricity, food and other aid. We have also promised to establish diplomatic relations with Pyongyang and remove North Korea from the list of nations that sponsor terrorism.
Six countries negotiating the dismantling of the North's nuclear programs in Beijing tentatively agreed on the plan last weekend, but delegations returned to their countries to brief top decision-makers and secure their final approval.
"We have conveyed to the Chinese government our approval for the draft statement," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.
Chief U.S. negotiator Christopher Hill said that if the other five countries — North and South Korea, China, Japan and Russia — endorse the deal, the disabling of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor will "get under way in a matter of weeks."
In other words, we have agreed to remove one of the spokes of the Axis of Evil.
A steep price to pay to be sure. And nothing is final until the North Koreans themselves demonstrate that they are prepared to go through with the terms and conditions of the understanding.
On the plus side, it may stop a nascent nuclear arms race in the Far East and make North Korea a less belligerent nation. That last is obviously a long shot but anything that ratchets down tensions on the Korean penninsula is a good thing.