Evening Walkthrough With Reporters at Six-Party TalksChristopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
August 17, 2007
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Hello.
QUESTION: How did the session go?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think we’re done today. I think it was a very useful two-day session. I think we were able to cover a lot of ground. I think that, most importantly, people came very well prepared to discuss the issues. Particularly, the DPRK came and went through their concepts of disablement and declaration. We -- that is the U.S. and some other participants -- worked on some ideas on disablement and declaration and worked through those bilaterally in various groups and also multilaterally.
I think the Chinese will put this all together and will make a report to the Six-Party plenary. But I think we already know what was discussed, and the plan would then be to take these elements -- together with elements of the economic and energy working group, as well as the bilateral working groups still to come -- and this should be sufficient to put together a Six-Party implementing agreement, that is, implementing on the Roman numeral IV of the February agreement.
So, as I said, I think it was a productive two-day session, very businesslike, very specific. It was very important that we had technical people there in all delegations. I think probably the next step would be to get the bilateral working groups done, probably later this month, and then go to a Six-Party plenary.
QUESTION: So you got the common definition of disablement?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think we came up with some ideas that everyone could agree to. Obviously, we are not done yet on that. But we shared some ideas, and we are all taking back some homework.
QUESTION: Can you share the common definition with us?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I hate to say common definition, because we are going to have to work things out when we actually get together in the plenary. But I think we have the basis now for achieving a common definition. Does that help?
QUESTION: A common definition or common definitions?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I thought I just solved your problem. I think we now have the basis for achieving a consensus on these issues and a consensus on the way forward. So, as I said, it was a business-like and productive two-day session.
QUESTION: You said this morning that you, that the parties may have to report back to the capitals. Is still the case, or were you able to make --
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We have some ideas. We worked on some overnight. We shared them with some other parties. Some other parties worked on ideas. You get into real specifics about how to disable a facility: Do you drill things, do you cut things, do you pour things? I mean, what do you do to disable a facility? So we went through a lot of that, and the delegations were not in the position to agree to things here. So we are going to have to take back some ideas to capitals. I think it was a very productive process.
I think what is going to happen is declaration and disablement will move in a way -- We won’t wait for one to be completed before starting the other. So there’ll be considerable overlap as these two processes move forward.
QUESTION: Did the North Koreans agree to the overlapping of the declaration and the disablement?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes.
QUESTION: And did the North Koreans propose to the disabling of facilities?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t want to stand here as a DPRK spokesman, but certainly they addressed that in their proposals.
QUESTION: Were they encouraging proposals?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again, I don’t like to use word encouraging or discouraging, but I thought their proposals were ones that we could work with them on.
QUESTION: Are they ready to include the HEU issue on the declaration?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think you saw some press reports earlier where they said the uranium enrichment is an issue that must be resolved. I think we’ll have to take that at its face value, with the understanding that a full declaration needs to include uranium enrichment. And they acknowledged that fact -- a resolution of the issue. They have not acknowledged having a uranium enrichment program, but they’ve acknowledged that the issue must be resolved.
QUESTION: Yesterday’s discussion was much more focused on disablement. How was today’s discussion?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We handled – we dealt with both issues, disablement and declaration. One of the issues you look at is declaration of Yongbyon facilities, but there are also some other facilities. And then you have to look at the question of disabling non-Yongbyon facilities. That’s why there’s a certain logic to having a declaration before you do disablement.
But on the other hand, some things that need to be declared also are well-known right now. So there’s no need to wait for the full declaration before understanding the need to disable the five-megawatt reactor, for example.
That’s what I mean by the fact that disablement is a process that will overlap the process of declaration.
QUESTION: Do you think you made any progress on HEU issue?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think we have made progress on that issue in the last few weeks, but I don’t want to go into further details on that. But clearly that issue has to be addressed, and I think all six parties understand that.
QUESTION: Did you have a detailed discussion today on that issue?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Not a detailed discussion on that, but we weren’t expected to either.
QUESTION: So is HEU going to be a focal point in the coming bilateral meeting?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: It has to be. I don’t want to go into, again, our bilateral. But I tell you, it has to be addressed in the context of a full declaration. Everybody, everybody knows that. There was an open acknowledgement from the DPRK that that issue has to be resolved in the context of this (inaudible).
QUESTION: Are you now even more confident that you can finish the second steps by the end of this year?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We didn’t actually get into the timing. I think we’re going to put this all together in the Six-Party plenary. If you ask me as a personal opinion, can we get this phase done by the end of the year, my answer is yes.
QUESTION: Is disablement something that must be irreversible?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Disablement by definition is not irreversible, but it’s not easy to reverse. For example, if you look at the construction of their facility, from a green field to working facility, it took them five years. So presumably if you took it back to a green field, that would be a disablement that would involve five years. But we’re not going to take it back to a green field.
So you have to work out what do you mean by disablement. Are you trying to disable something that it will take ten days to repair? It’s probably not adequate from our point of view. Are you disabling that takes a year to repair? What kind of disablement are you looking at? And those are the sorts of issues we had to discuss in this working group.
Again, I want to stress -- this was a working group where we were discussing technical matters. It was not an effort to forge an agreement. It was an effort to come to common understandings on technical matters.
QUESTION: Was the way to disablement, does that include the option of a physically damaging (inaudible), like digging a hole or pouring concrete?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: All of those things have been discussed, but I think everybody has to take these things back to capitals for further discussion and agreement.
QUESTION: What were some of the options?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again, I don’t want to get into what were the options -- except to say that we discussed a lot of different ways that disablement could be effected, could take place.
QUESTION: So now do you have a list of options to disablement, to disable?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We have a number of ideas that we’ve shared among all six parties. Everybody has to do some consultations back at home about them. I think we do have the basis for coming together on an agreement on the next phase that we would put together in the next Six-Party plenary.
QUESTION: So at the plenary, you are looking at something like the February agreement? To come up with something like that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We already have a February agreement. What we would be looking at is, you take the Roman number IV of the February agreement and blow that out into an overall agreement. I guess you’re right; it could look like another implementing agreement. Because the February agreement explained that there would be a disablement and declaration, but it didn’t explain how it would be done. This time, we need to explain how it would be done. It would probably look like a two- or three-, maybe, or three- or four-page document.
QUESTION: How about the light water reactor? Did you discuss at all the light water reactor?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No. The DPRK has a long-standing view about the light-water reactor, a long-standing view about the need to have a civil nuclear program. That view is expressed in the September ’05 agreement.
We’ve had a long-standing view that they have to get out of this nuclear business that they are in, get back into the NPT, and then we’ll get back into discussions on something like that.
Okay? All right. So I’m overnighting here and then going to head to Tokyo tomorrow morning and catch the flight to Washington tomorrow afternoon.
QUESTION: Are you going to have working dinner tonight?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, I’m just going to have a fun dinner. (Laughter) Okay?
QUESTION: (Inaudible) other delegation members?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think we’re done. Okay? You should be done, too. (Laughter) See you later.
Released on August 17, 2007