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Comments to Reporters About North Korea Upon Arrival at Okura Hotel

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Okura Hotel
Tokyo, Japan
September 25, 2007

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Kim Gye-gwan in Beijing, where he says that the talks regarding highly enriched uranium are not really urgent. Do you agree with that?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t know. I haven’t seen his comments. But the DPRK has agreed that this issue must be resolved to mutual satisfaction. So I’m sure we’ll be continuing our discussions on that.

QUESTION: What will be really highly urgent in this round?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, what is very urgent in this round is to have a Six-Party agreement on how to disable facilities and how to provide the declaration. So we need to do that. We need to agree on a timeframe, which I hope will be the end of the year, and agree on fuel oil. We’ve done a lot of work in the working groups. And this is an opportunity to bring all those activities together and try to get a new sort of February-style agreement like the one we reached in February and then go ahead with this round.

QUESTION: About the disablement of nuclear facilities, to what degree are you thinking about, like, power types --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We had a team that went there. The three nuclear-weapons states in the Six-Party process went two or three weeks ago. So I think what’s important is they need to make a report to the Six-Party meeting, and then we’ll decide what needs to be done.

QUESTION: I heard that you’re trying to disable them so they won’t be able to restart them in, like, one year?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes, something like that. Of course, within this next year we plan to take the next steps and try to go to complete denuclearization, which means abandoning their fissile material. But I think it would be very good if we can have a disabling where they cannot restart them even if they wanted to -- that it would take more than a year. So we’re working on that.

Released on September 25, 2007

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