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Press Availability at Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Seoul, Korea
November 29, 2007

QUESTION: Was there a discussion with Ambassador Hill and Ambassador Chun?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I just had a good discussion with Ambassador Chun. We discussed the way forward on this phase two -- in particular, the disablement actions and the fact that we are expecting a declaration very shortly. We both declared ourselves ready to attend a head of delegation meeting, should one get scheduled later next week. We also talked a little about what we might expect in the next phase -- that is the phase that comes after disablement -- and what we hope will be the final phase. So, it was all-in-all a good discussion. I am going to go back to the hotel and meet with Sung Kim who has just come on the airplane back from Pyongyang and get briefed on that. And then I think we will meet again at dinner time.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador, did you agree on what level of declaration would be acceptable if North Korea hands over a draft to China – what you both expect, South Korea and the U.S.?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: We had a discussion on what we would both expect to see in terms of the declaration, what elements we’d expect to see in the declaration, and what level of specificity we would expect that each element discuss.

QUESTION: Could you elaborate a little bit?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, but we discussed the sorts of things we would expect to see. A declaration has to include nuclear programs, nuclear facilities, and very importantly, nuclear materials -- because one of the key elements of the declaration will be the amount of separated plutonium that North Korea has harvested from the Yongbyon facility. We discussed all of those things.

QUESTION: What will the declaration say about uranium?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, it’s got to describe whatever program DPRK has on uranium. We are working with the DPRK to try to clarify that because they are committed to clarifying it and to making sure that it is discussed to mutual satisfaction -- resolved.

QUESTION: [inaudible] -- if they have a uranium program, will the declaration --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, we have to see. You know we have not finished our discussions with the DPRK on that. We would have to see what program they have. It is hard to answer at this point because it’s kind of theoretical.

QUESTION: What has been disabled so far?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: What has been disabled? Well, I am going to go talk to Sung Kim about that because he was just at the facility. They have undertaken disabling action in each of the three facilities -- the fuel fabrication, the reactor, and the reprocessing facility. I think there are some 10 or 11 actions that were anticipated. I think today, or yesterday rather, they were dealing with the disabling of the inside of the cooling tower to render the cooling tower unusable. I think one of the reasons I want to go there is to see it myself. But it is a number of actions, the sum total of which is to make it difficult and expensive to put the facility back in use.

QUESTION: What about the irradiated fuel lines from the reactor? Who is going to get them?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, that has to be determined how those will be handled, but I think in the meantime, the idea is that they need to be discharged from the reactor and put in casks for --

QUESTION: They have not been discharged yet?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, because we have been concerned about the facility used for when they are discharged -- the place that we would put them when they are discharged. That has to be cleaned up to the satisfaction of our workers who are dealing with us.

QUESTION: It seems clear that the declaration deadline is by the end of this year, but could the declaration come in phases thereafter?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think we would like to have the declaration by the end of this year. We think we all know what the elements should be, and we have to work with the North Koreans to ensure that the declaration we get by the end of the year is as complete as possible. Our hope is really to have declaration and disablement completed, so that we can move on to the next phase which is dismantlement and disablement of additional facilities. Right now we started with the disablement of the Yongbyon facility, but of course, there are other nuclear programs that would need to be disabled, and those programs and facilities would be described in the declaration.

QUESTION: Would it be just one, and only one, declaration?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, you know, right now we need to have a look at what this declaration is. We have to see what is being produced, and then we’ll take it from there. What is important is that the DPRK is required to list all of their programs, facilities, and all the materials. That is what the declaration is for -- that’s the purpose --so we have a complete understanding of the universe of their nuclear facilities, programs, and materials in North Korea. Secondly, we agreed that we would begin the disablement of these nuclear programs and facilities with the Yongbyon facility, but obviously there will have to be additional facilities as we move forward. But as we move forward into January, we also want to get on to the next phase, which is the dismantlement of facilities as well as the abandonment of the separated plutonium. We have a lot of work to do. December is going to be a very busy month, and it is going to be followed by an even busier year.

QUESTION: What about the nuclear war-heads that they’ve already built?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I think any nuclear -- any war-heads or any firing devices would have to be included in the declaration, as we want to know what they have in that regard. It is closely related to the weapons-grade plutonium, the separated plutonium. We need to see how that’s going to be treated in the declaration. That is one of the issues we will be working on.

QUESTION: [inaudible] do the war-heads fall under dismantlement?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think the war-heads -- the most important issue, of course, is the nuclear material. Certainly they would be required to abandon war-heads. The concern, of course, is that you can rebuild a war-head. What we want to do is make sure we have all the nuclear material. We would, of course, expect that as part of the declaration one of the nuclear programs would be the war-head program. We would need to know what they’ve got there and how we will deal with that in the context of complete denuclearization.

QUESTION: You have been at this for so long -- what does it mean for you to actually go to Yongbyon to see what really happened?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, it will mean a lot, not only in my ability to describe it better to you in the future, but also, I think, it will be a real indication that we have indeed made some progress. I suspect too, though, that when I get there and see what we’ve done, I will also be struck by how much more we need to get done. I am looking forward to seeing it. But to some extent, I will draw some optimism from what has been done. And to another extent, I will draw some pessimism by what needs to be done in the future. This is a process that’s taken us a couple of years to get where we are now. I think, as we make progress, people need to understand that we have a long way to go. I suspect that we’ll see that very clearly when I see the Yongbyon facility. If you excuse me, I really have to get moving here.

QUESTION: There has been some speculation --

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You already asked a question, didn’t you? [Laughter] Can’t you have someone else ask?

QUESTION: There has been speculation that you are going to meet with Mr. Kim Yang-gon from North Korea, who is visiting Seoul.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, I think the only meeting I have planned -- you mean here?


ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, I do not have any meeting planned. I think he is staying in another wing in the Lotte Hotel or something.

QUESTION: What about your schedule for the rest of the weekend before you leave?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think the Embassy knows about my schedule, but I have a number of meetings tomorrow, then fewer meetings over the weekend. Then I leave first thing Monday morning.

QUESTION: Will you have to get back to Seoul after North Korea?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don’t know. You have to check with the Embassy. I really don’t know. Okay, see you later.

Released on November 29, 2007

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