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Morning Walkthrough With Reporters at Six-Party Talks

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Intercontinental Hotel
Shenyang, China
August 17, 2007


QUESTION: Have you got a read-out from your experts about last night’s discussion?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes, we had a meeting this morning with our experts. Our experts drew up some ideas that derived out of the meetings last night, and they are going to be sharing that. We’ll have a series of expert meetings this morning before there’s a plenary of the working group this afternoon.

I’m going to right now meet with the Chinese head of delegation and then with the ROK head of delegation and probably some others. So it’s moving along. The issue comes down to coming up with precise means by which to disable the facilities and a precise understanding of what the eventual declaration is going to look like. So the expert talks are continuing, and we will see what ideas can be agreed on.

QUESTION: How did the reports from the experts sound to you?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I’m not an expert, but I think to our experts, there were some common understandings that we can further develop. Again, as I said last night when I came back, a lot will depend on how we do today. And we’ll have a much better idea of that at the end of today.

QUESTION: Do you stipulate that the declaration should come ahead of the disablement?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: The declaration will involve some nuclear programs, facilities, and material that’s not necessarily in Yongbyon. Those issues do need to -- In order to disable those non-Yongbyon facilities, there would need to be a declaration so we’d know what to disable. But with respect to the Yongbyon facilities, we already pretty much know what needs to be disabled. We know the elements of Yongbyon. I think, to some extent, rather than completing all the aspects of declaration first, I think the declaration will to some extent go alongside with the disablement. That is, the processes will overlap. That is, as we are disabling some things, we will be working on the declaration of other things.

QUESTION: Mr. Hill, the South Koreans have said that the North Koreans have offered to give an explanation on its uranium enrichment program. Is that what you too have understood?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: They made a statement to that effect in the plenary. But I think what’s important, though, is to understand the details will be very important to our complete understanding of the issue.

QUESTION: Does this means that North Korea now admits to having a uranium program?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: That was not what he said he said. He understood there were concerns, and it would need to be addressed. He was not making an admission of uranium enrichment. But, really, for further details you need to ask the North Koreans.

QUESTION: We’ve heard from other delegations that you are quite far apart, the North Koreans and the other five parties are quite far apart on disabling. Are you trying to find somewhere in the middle, understanding in the middle?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We need to have a common definition of disabling. For us, disabling – there are different ways you can define it. I think that’s why we have a working group to define it and then to determine what can be done to meet those definitions. Is disabling something where you try to create a situation where the plant cannot be brought back online for X number of days? In which case you need to know what kind of process can be done to ensure the plant is not brought into use in the X number of days. It’s technical issues like that.

Obviously, in setting out their views on this, the DPRK took an initial view. We have to work through that today.

QUESTION: Do you think you can achieve that by the end of the day?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You’ll have to ask the experts. They have a lot of meetings today, and so we’ll see how it goes. I suspect that the value of today will be that there is this very full exchange of information and the various parties, especially the DPRK, will take back the information and study it in capitals.

QUESTION: Do you mean that it could go on beyond today, that there might be some --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, I think it’s more – Don’t forget that we are not negotiating here. The negotiation is done in the Six-Party plenary. But rather than start from a standing stop, we need to know what we’re talking about, and that’s the value of the working group.

I think what will probably happen is that our ideas and the ideas of the various delegations will be taken home to capitals to be studied. Probably there will be consultations -- not necessarily a meeting, but consultations in the meantime -- before we have the Six-Party plenary.

QUESTION: You will need the common definition before the plenary?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I personally would rather not go into the plenary unless I have a pretty clear understanding of how we’re going to emerge from the plenary. I don’t want to go in there without any understanding of what is achievable. That’s the importance of the working group.

But I suspect -- in answer to your question whether the working group is going to solve all this -- I suspect that in this exchange of ideas, these ideas will be taken back to capitals, especially to the DPRK capital, Pyongyang, and studied so that when we get to the plenary, everyone understands what we are all trying to do. And we’ll try to put the elements together and get on with finally implementing February and then moving on to the next phase.

Okay? I’ve really got to scoot here.

QUESTION: You mentioned there was some common understanding from the expert groups. Is there a common definition of “disablement”?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: There’s an understanding of each other’s positions. But I think in terms of what is “disablement” and what are we trying to achieve, we are now sharing those ideas. So I think it’s too early to say whether there’s an agreement on what disabling should be.


QUESTION: Ambassador, regarding the HEU program. To what extent do you expect to get resolution today?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t expect any resolution today on uranium enrichment. But it will have to be resolved, and it will have to be resolved before there is a final declaration.

QUESTION: Only bilats you are doing today is with the Chinese this morning?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I’ll have Chinese, I’ll have South Korean, and I’ll probably have others as well. But those are the first two ones. I don’t have any plan with the DPRK right now.

Okay. Thank you.

Released on August 17, 2007

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