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Morning Walkthrough With Reporters at Six-Party Talks

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
St. Regis Hotel
Beijing, China
July 18, 2007

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’m going to meet at the Diaoyutai. I’m going to meet with the Chinese at 9:30.

QUESTION: Can you meet with the North Koreans?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, but I think we will probably, after the plenary. There will probably be some bilaterals this afternoon, and I’m sure we’ll meet. But I’ll be meeting with everybody in various meetings.

QUESTION: Is the plenary going to set out the terms for implementing the second phase?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes, I think so. What I want to do now is hear from the Chinese what their plans are. This is, I think, a great success of China’s chairmanship of the Six Party Talks. We have a first step, but we all know that we have a long road ahead of us with many steps. And so let’s see how quickly we can take those steps, and let’s see how much ground we can cover.

QUESTION: Any unfinished business in this first step left?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, yes. I think I’ve explained a few times now we need to get these working groups going. There’s some unfinished business in the working groups. We’ve got a long road ahead of us. I do think though that -- I think we have a general vicinity, which is what I meant by the idiom, “in the ballpark.” In sort of the general vicinity, we understand that we want to try to get these phase two things done more or less by the end of this year. But that hasn’t been really agreed to; that’s just been talked about. So maybe we could try to agree on getting these next phase items done in the calendar year ’07 the way we’d like to, the way we’ve been talking about. And maybe we could get some agreement on that. So we’ll work on it. We’ll see how we do. And when I come back tonight, I’ll let you know whether we made some progress today.

QUESTION: Yesterday have you proposed any new incentives to implement the second phase?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, because we didn’t have a negotiation.

QUESTION: In the bilateral with the North Koreans, did you talk about the next U.S.-North Korea working group? Was there any progress done on when that might be?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, we just talked about the need to schedule working groups and to schedule all five working groups. That means the technical working groups like denuclearization, energy, but also the bilateral working groups. So we talked about wanting to schedule those. But we’ll know a lot more after today, because today is really when the first day of talks gets going.

QUESTION: Was there any reason why you kept on saying that you couldn’t get into the discussion yesterday with the North Koreans at the Embassy that much? Was there any reason why it took so long to get into that discussion?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, it’s just that there was this venue idea -- that we do some time at our embassy, some time at lunch, some time at their embassy. We spent more time in cars than we did in the actual meeting. But we’ll have plenty more time today and tomorrow, and we’ll see how we do.

QUESTION: Today is the day when the IAEA is supposed to verify the shutdown of the other nuclear facilities in North Korea. What do you expect to happen to those facilities from here on in? In particular, how long is it going to take to work out how much plutonium has been produced there?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You know, those issues of how much plutonium had already been produced are issues that will come out in the declaration. And, as we proceed with the declaration, we have to proceed with some sort of a verification regime, so that when they declare “x” amount of plutonium we can, in fact, verify that it’s “x”. But that is in fact different from the monitoring and verifying, or verifying and monitoring that the shutdown has occurred in these other sites. Now, of course, the key site is the reactor, but there are two other reactors under construction. So it’s fairly straightforward to determine that they’re not currently under construction. And then the IAEA has a lot of technical tasks like applying seals and cameras. So I’m sure they will be explaining this.

QUESTION: Do you think you will be able to come up with the schedule for the disclosure of the fissile materials and facilities this time around?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Fissile material and the --

QUESTION: -- And the facilities this time around?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: For the closure, did you say?

QUESTION: Disclosure.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, again, the disclosure has to do with this declaration. Do you understand there are two main tasks in this Roman numeral IV of the February Agreement, two main tasks on the North Korean side? One is to come up with this comprehensive declaration, and it’s a comprehensive declaration of all nuclear programs. And, of course, that backs into the issue of the uranium enrichment question. So it’s a very important task. The second task is the disablement of these nuclear programs, and, of course, you have to have an idea of how you disable. I mean, how do you disable a reactor? There are technical people who know the answer to questions like that. And that backs into the whole issue of getting the working groups going so that there’s a consensus position -- that when we talk about disabling, for example, the five mega watt reactor, that everyone agrees on what disabling means.

So I can’t emphasize enough that there is a lot of work to do. So I better get at it right now. So --

QUESTION: When are you planning to discuss the enriched uranium program?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Oh, that’s -- Uranium enrichment is an ongoing issue and, believe me, we’re working on it.

OK. See you later.

QUESTION: Are you going to have a working dinner tonight?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Are you inviting me to dinner? (laughter) I assume there’ll be something, but I don’t have any plans right now.

QUESTION: You’re not planning on coming back here anytime soon?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t know, but we’ll let the Embassy know.

QUESTION: Will you have lunch at Diaoyutai?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think we’ll have lunch at the Diaoyutai, yes, but I’ll take a rain check. (laughter)

OK. All right. See you later.

QUESTION: Thank you.

Released on July 19, 2007

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