Resumption of Fourth Round of Six-Party Talks: Afternoon Departure, China World HotelChristopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
September 19, 2005
A/S HILL: We’ve had a good day. No, we’ve had a great day. We have an agreement. As you all know, it wasn’t easy, but I think important things often don’t come easily, and I think it is a very important agreement. We’re very pleased about it. Obviously it represents the efforts of six different delegations and it spans the period of two years, so it represents the efforts not only of the people here today but also the people who were here a couple of years ago. In my particular case, I’m very respectful of what Jim Kelly did and the time that he helped get this thing launched and all the efforts that he put in. I know that all the current delegation heads feel the same way about their predecessors. This has been a tough two years.
I think it’s also important, this example of multilateral diplomacy. I think it’s important for this part of the world, for northeast Asia, and I think it’s really one of the best examples of multilateral diplomacy in this part of the world, and its obviously not going to be the last. There are going to be many more efforts here.
The issue, of course, is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula – a problem that’s been with us for quite a while, a problem that is not yet solved by this agreement but which we hope can be solved eventually through this agreement. Whether this agreement helps solve this will depend in large measure on what we do in the days and weeks to follow. We need to take the momentum of this agreement and work to see that it’s implemented and work to make clear to everybody that all of our commitments, that all of our undertakings that are spelled out in this agreement are, in fact, fulfilled.
I think for the D.P.R.K. it is especially difficult, because they’ve been engaged in these nuclear programs for some twenty, twenty-five years, and by this agreement, they’re going to get out of these nuclear programs. They are going to get out of the business of producing nuclear weapons and out of the business of these programs. It’s a big decision for them, a big undertaking, but it’s absolutely the right decision for them. The security, the success, the prosperity of the D.P.R.K. does not depend on nuclear weapons. In fact, it depends on relations with others. So this is a moment which I think will be a very important moment in their history, to make this turn and to turn away from these sorts of weapons and towards interactions with their neighbors and with other countries in the world.
I want to especially express my thanks and my high esteem to the Chinese government for hosting this process, for being a full participant as a delegation but also for running the secretariat. My counterpart Wu Dawei has been quite literally living at the Diaoyutai Guest House, and deserves so much praise for the efforts that he’s put in – for the efforts of his entire team.
Let me just say also that from the point of view of the United States, we came with an interagency team – a team that represents the National Security Council, the Defense Department, other agencies of government. We worked together very hard, and we worked together with a great sense of unanimity. I think also our colleagues back in Washington, of course Secretary Rice especially, were on the phone with us constantly. And the support we had, indeed the very firm direction we had from Washington, was quite instrumental as far as my delegation was concerned.
So we have to see what comes in the days and the weeks ahead. I want to really seize the momentum of this. I’m going to be working very hard on this, trying to make sure that the seed that we’ve planted today really does grow and fulfill what we all believe it can. So I’ll take some questions if you like.
QUESTION: Who’s the winner?
A/S HILL: Who’s the winner? Everybody’s the winner, that’s the whole point of this. This is a win-win situation.
QUESTION: What was the winning point?
A/S HILL: I think the winning points are that we get an agreement on a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, I think very important to the D.P.R.K.’s future, but very important to all of our futures. And, I think this agreement can help the inter-Korean dialogue, just as the inter-Korean dialogue, I think, has been helpful to this agreement. Let’s hope that something good can come of the Korean Peninsula – a peninsula that was brutally divided in some of the worst moments of the twentieth century. Let’s hope that this agreement can help create some momentum so we can get beyond that as well.
QUESTION: Does the U.S… you at first absolutely objected to a light-water reactor, but in the joint statement, you're willing down the road we can discuss it? Did the U.S. compromise on this?
A/S HILL: I think what we said in the agreement is what we said in the agreement if you read it, which is that at an appropriate time we are prepared to have a discussion with the other parties about the issue of providing a light-water reactor. Now what is an appropriate time? We made clear in our statement together, and indeed I think all participants made clear in their statements that the appropriate time comes when the D.P.R.K. gets rid of its nuclear weapons, gets rid of its nuclear programs, comes back into the NPT and comes back into it with full IAEA safeguards. So that we will sit down and have a discussion, a discussion about the subject of providing a light-water reactor at that point, I would hope would be some incentive to the D.P.R.K. to get moving on its obligations.
QUESTION: What moved the North Koreans to accept the agreement?
A/S HILL: Well, you’ll have to ask them. I would assume that there are a lot of reasons that the D.P.R.K. moved to accept this agreement. I would hope that one of them was the fact that they finally understood that these nuclear weapons are not providing security. In fact they are providing a lot of misunderstanding, and they are really harming the D.P.R.K.’s standing in the world. So I hope they came to that conclusion. I have no doubt that getting rid of these weapons and getting out of this nuclear business is the best thing that could happen to the D.P.R.K., and perhaps they came to that same conclusion as well.
QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, you say that this is a big decision and also the right decision. Is this a strategic decision which your President and the Secretary Rice have pursued for a long time?
A/S HILL: We have to see this decision followed up on. We have to see implementation, but certainly a strategic decision couldn’t be without this, the results of this six party joint declaration. In short, this was absolutely needed. I don’t want to say at this point how quickly this will happen, except we expect the D.P.R.K. to move promptly. We believe there are a lot of incentives on the table for the D.P.R.K. to move promptly.
QUESTION: Would this success encourage the United States to adopt multilateral negotiation worldwide?
A/S HILL: The United States is always interested in multilateral diplomacy, the broader… the more partners we can have in these arrangements the better, and we always want to do this wherever possible.
QUESTION: How was the turning point? It seems that [inaudible] Friday?
A/S HILL: Well, it is hard to say when the turning point came. I would say the turning point came in the earlier session in the end of July, early August when it was clear that we had the outline of a deal. We weren’t able to get to a deal at that point, but we realize that we had pushed the rock pretty far up the hill, and we didn’t want to see it go all the way down to the bottom again. I think everyone realized it was important, and that is why the decision was made to recess and to preserve what we had accomplished. So we came back here hoping to finish the job. We did have some different elements that came forward. As you know the subject of a light water reactor had not been in any previous texts, so this was something D.P.R.K. wanted in the text. But what we wanted to do was to preserve the focus, to continue to stress that what we were in this for was the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. That meant that the D.P.R.K. needs to get rid of its weapons and all its existing programs. What we didn’t want to do was get into an argument on which program was related to weapons. So, we wanted to insist that the D.P.R.K. get out of all existing nuclear programs so that there would not be any disagreement on whether this program is related to weapons and this program is not. We have agreement on that.
QUESTION: What’s the next step? How do you move forward?
A/S HILL: The next step is I’m going to try to get on a plane. It’s going to be a little tight actually. But what we’re going to do is sit down and figure out how quickly to get to the implementing phase. Verification is very, very important to this agreement. Verification is a key element of this agreement. It says so in this agreement, and we need to look at how these things can be done through international verification. Obviously a lot of work has been done on this, so we need to sit down and work on that as well. We all have some commitments in this agreement. We all have some undertakings, so we need to look at these and to make sure that we can capitalize on the momentum of this and move ahead. So we are, as you may have seen from the text, we’re planning to get together at an early date. Early November is the target time. That’s some six weeks away from now, so we’re going to really be working very hard in the next six weeks to make sure that this next phase, which is the discussion on implementation, can go pretty quickly because thanks to the agreement on principles we know precisely what is going to be in there.
QUESTION: Do you mind mentioning the 1992 framework for [inaudible]… does that mean the reactor…?
A/S HILL: No, no, no. You are confusing things. You are obviously new to the North Korea nuclear business. Let me help you with that. 1994 is the framework agreement, and this is not the 1994 framework agreement. This has nothing to do with the 1994 framework agreement. This is a six party agreement – very different. The basis is not freezing nuclear activity. The basis is getting rid of it. So that’s one point. And, there is a Korean Peninsula 1992 agreement on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. It’s a very brief document, and it has some very good elements. It was never implemented, and we’d like to see that 1992 agreement implemented, and that is in our document.
QUESTION: Apart from the statement, are there any sort of written informal agreements or commitments by each party about what they are going to do by November?
A/S HILL: No there are not. There are statements that each of the parties made today in connection with the closing plenary, and those are part of our official record. But there are no additional protocols or any additional agreements, so what you see is what you’re going to get. There's quite a negotiating history now. We’ve been here some thirteen days in August, and now another seven days in September, so there is a rather substantial negotiating history, and we believe we have what we need to know in terms of each other’s positions.
QUESTION: Is it true that there was an agreement made that North Korea is coming off the Axis of Evil?
A/S HILL: This is a good agreement. It’s a good agreement for all of us, and we’re going to get moving on it.
QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, do you think the negotiations are going to get easier or harder?
A/S HILL: Oh, I don’t know. I can’t imagine they’ll be harder. [laughter] I just cannot imagine it, but you know, sometimes we have to imagine the unimaginable.
QUESTION: Is United States going to provide the energy assistance with other countries?
A/S HILL: In the agreement we have an undertaking to participate in this, so we will be determining what our participation is and how we can best do that. We would like to see the DPRK have a better economy. We certainly want to be part of helping it with its energy needs. As you know, we are strong proponents of the idea that the D.P.R.K. ought to be looking at non-nuclear energy. So I’m sure we will be very much involved consistent with our undertakings. We will make sure that anything we have undertaken to do in that agreement, we will accomplish. The first step, I think everyone agrees, we’ve got to get this place denuclearized.
QUESTION: Does that mean that the function of the [inaudible]?
A/S HILL: We haven’t gotten into questions like that. I understand you're asking about heavy fuel. We haven’t addressed questions about that. Now we all have a very clear understanding of denuclearization and a clear understanding of the undertakings to follow.
QUESTION: Suppose in November the next steps of verification and denuclearization [inaudible]?
A/S HILL: Well, I would say the key element of the November discussions will be the verification regime and clearly this will involve international verification -- IAEA -- so we have to do some early consultations to see how that will work. We worked very hard on these set principles so that there would be clarity and everyone would know what the deal is. We didn’t want a situation where we would create ambiguity, and then have problems in further statements. I think we’ve succeeded in being very fair, so I hope we can move through these points with some haste.
QUESTION: So Ambassador Hill, what would come after that, after the verification?
A/S HILL: You have to agree on how you verify. You have to have a declaration of what you're verifying and then you have to go at getting rid of these nuclear programs. When you get rid of a nuclear reactor, it's a little different from getting rid of a building or something. You don't just hit it with a wrecking ball; you take it apart very carefully. That sort of thing will take time, but we need to very quickly figure out how we're going to do it. We need a list of items that we're going to do. We see this, of course, as a voluntary decision by the D.P.R.K. to get out of this business, so we do not plan to go out onto the landscape of the D.P.R.K. and start hunting for nuclear facilities. We expect those to be shown to us, and we expect to move quickly. This is absolutely in the D.P.R.K.'s interest. The sooner the better, and I think they know that.
QUESTION: [inaudible]about the sequencing of [inaudible], that the [inaudible] would be the foremost [inaudible] of the nuclear weapons?
A/S HILL: I think sequencing is very important. Not all the sequencing has been worked out, but on the key issues, it has been worked out. Nobody can cooperate with the D.P.R.K., even if someone wanted to cooperate with the D.P.R.K. on nuclear issues, it cannot do so while the D.P.R.K. is not a member of the NPT in good standing. So how is the D.P.R.K. going to get back into the NPT, back with IAEA safeguards, and the answer is by getting rid of its nuclear weapons and by getting rid of its nuclear programs. It's got to come into the NPT as a state that has cleaned itself and gotten out of these nuclear areas. We're very clear on that sequence of events.
QUESTION: So say the sequencing present in the previous U.S. proposal back in June – is any of that still on the table, or are you starting over in terms of a discussion about how to sequence?
A/S HILL: The proposal back in June was never really elaborated. It was very general at that stage. What we've done is taken that proposal and tried to elaborate it, tried to have greater specificity to it. There will be sequencing issues that have to be looked at. For example, some of the issues that had been promised the D.P.R.K. are very much processes. We're looking at a normalization process, for example. When do you start a normalization process? I don't think the sequencing will prove to be a big problem. Especially as I think the D.P.R.K. understands that it's got to get out of the nuclear business and that that is the key. That is why we're together. That is why we call this an agreement on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. I think when that is done, we will not have problems with sequencing.
QUESTION: Based on this agreement, are you going to accelerate the bilateral contact besides the New York channels?
A/S HILL: I would argue that one of the reasons we were able to achieve success is we kept as many lines of communication open as possible. I think if you're in the business of diplomacy, communication is very important. I will continue to look for avenues of communication that facilitate agreement and facilitate understanding so we can move ahead. I think we have really established a good framework for that through the six party talks, and I would look to enhance that.
QUESTION: You say you are "abandoning" nuclear weapons programs. Do you see any difference from dismantling?
A/S HILL: No. Abandoning means dismantling. It means getting out of those programs and having them taken apart. There is an absolute common understanding.
QUESTION: Can I make it clear that you respect the right of peaceful use of nuclear energy in North Korea?
A/S HILL: What we have made clear is that we will have a discussion on the issue of peaceful nuclear energy, and in particular the subject of the provision of a light water reactor, but only at an appropriate time. And that appropriate time is once the D.P.R.K. has gotten back into the NPT in good standing, and with IAEA safeguards. To talk about the D.P.R.K.'s right to peaceful use in advance of those steps is really to talk theory rather than fact. I'm very much focused on the facts and focused on reality, and we'll achieve that reality when they've taken these steps.
QUESTION: Has the D.P.R.K. demanded funds for the surrender process or the dismantling process?
A/S HILL: That's a very good question, and I think that has to be looked at because other countries that have gotten out of the nuclear business have been beneficiaries of funds to help them dismantle their nuclear facilities. I would assume this is part of this agreement. We have not specifically addressed it, but I would assume this should be a part of it.
QUESTION: So you will discuss the [inaudible] at the next…
A/S HILL: There have been some discussions about it. As you see, it's not addressed in the joint statement but there have been some discussions, and this will be one of the issues further discussed and elaborated and defined in the implementation phase.
QUESTION: Do agree that the six party talks remain the best way, the only way, to solve the North Koreans' nuclear problem?
A/S HILL: I've always been a believer in the Six-Party Talks. Sometimes my faith wavered at key moments, but here we are with a deal, so, more than ever, I do believe that this is the right way to go. I think it's the right way to go in terms of dealing with the immediate problem ahead of us – that is the problem of denuclearization – but it's also the right way to go in terms of getting these countries in northeast Asia, including the U.S. if you can consider us a northeast Asian country for a second, to establish a better framework for talking and a better way to facilitate communication. I noticed in the Six-Party Talks, where most of the discussion, of course, was about the denuclearization, I could see countries' representatives getting together discussing some other aspects of relations and other aspects of things that we might try to do together in the region. So, I think the Six-Party Talks really shows some promise as a sort of embryonic organization for the future. I don't want to get ahead of myself. I don't want to speculate on what sort of multilateral structures northeast Asia should have, but I do believe that they ought to have more than what they've got. Anyone who's been to Europe knows that Europe has structure on top of structure, and when you go to northeast Asia, it seems to me more could be done. I don't mean that as a criticism. It's a very different part of the world, a very different history, very different ways of interaction. But, I think the six party process is proving that more can be done.
QUESTION: So you are prepared to talk about northeast security…?
A/S HILL: Let's be careful about how we do that in the six party process. For example, if you look carefully at the document, there's some discussion of Korean Peninsula questions, but we're not going to discuss the Korean Peninsula in the six party process, because one has to ask the question who are the relevant players, who should be talking about it, what form should we use. But certainly, what I meant was in a more general sense, that the six party process can be a model for addressing the need, in my view, for a greater multilateralism.
QUESTION: Just quick… North Koreans are going to continue a nuclear operation in Yongbyon or as long as talks would continue, they're going to suspend the whole operation there?
A/S HILL: I haven't addressed that because one thing I didn't want to get sidetracked. In the Six-Party Talks, I didn't want to start talking about freezes. I didn't want start talking about how we'll stop this for a while -- because when you start talking about freeze, you can sort of take up all the time and you never get to the real issue, which is not to freeze but abandon. I really very purposefully avoided getting into the subject of freeze. But you asked me should the Yongbyon reactor be operating. You've got to ask yourself the question what is the purpose in operating it at this point, because it's going to have to be dismantled. It's going to have to be dismantled, abandoned in this arrangement. I would think the time to turn it off would be about now. We'll see how that goes, but I made a decision early on that we were not going to spend a lot of time talking about freezes.
QUESTION: Between yesterday and today, what was it that had the North Koreans make that leap to yes? If you had to identify two of the aspects, what was it that made them show up today and say OK?
A/S HILL: I think, first of all, the parties really stayed together. Although the D.P.R.K. very much wanted to see a light water reactor promised – it being Chusok and all -- promised as some sort of gift, as part of the agreement. It was very clear that all the parties said, look, we can talk about this, but only after there is an understanding that the D.P.R.K. gets out of the weapons business, gets out of the nuclear business, comes back into the NPT, and comes back with IAEA safeguards. I think what was very important was that all the parties really stuck to that. So, I like to think that that was an important factor in convincing the D.P.R.K. that the wording you see in the agreement was ultimately going to be OK. But you'll have to ask them, as I often say, because I am not their spokesman. What I like to think, too, is that after twenty days, the D.P.R.K. understood that their security lies not in nuclear weapons programs, but in good relations with others. That sounds kind of obvious perhaps, but I think it's been an elusive concept there. I think they understand that these weapons have not brought them security, have not brought them prosperity. They've done quite the opposite.
A/S HILL: Sorry, I couldn't understand that question.
A/S HILL: I think this twenty-five year nuclear program in the D.P.R.K. has been extremely costly for the D.P.R.K. It’s been extremely costly in direct monetary costs. It’s been costly in terms of its relations with others. It's been extremely costly in terms of what it has lost, in terms of economic cooperation with other countries. I would not recommend that a country go and develop nuclear weapons in order to get some sort of economic benefit. I think the example of the Republic of Korea – the same people, Koreans – they have twenty-one light water reactors, paid for every one of them themselves, tenth largest industrial country in the world. I think that's an example. If you want peaceful nuclear energy, as South Korea does, first develop a good economy and play by the rules, and you can be successful. I don't think the model of the D.P.R.K. would be marked down as a model for success, and I like to think they know that.
QUESTION: Will North Korea stop its nuclear activity in Yongbyon?
A/S HILL: We did not directly address the question of whether they would stop the nuclear activity at Yongbyon. When that issue came up, it was often in the context of the D.P.R.K. wanting … and I said we don't have time to negotiate a freeze, nor do we have the information to negotiate a freeze, because, unfortunately, when you start negotiating a freeze, it crowds out all the other time, and by the end, all you have is a freeze. We don't need a freeze here. We need the D.P.R.K. to get out of this business. We did not discuss, in any systematic way, the shutting down of the reactor. But logically, that's what's got to be done.
QUESTION: Can you say that [inaudible]?
A/S HILL: You're a journalist. You decide what it is. I'm just telling you what I was up to. I've really got to catch this plane. I just talked to my daughter and she's sort of wondering if I'm going to be back. If you don't mind, let me go back and see my family.
A/S HILL: You'd have to go the White House on that. I don't speak for the White House. Thank you very much.
Released on September 19, 2005