North Korea submits nuke declaration

June 26, 2008 8:01:29 AM PDT
North Korea submitted its long-awaited declaration detailing its nuclear weapons activities on Thursday, South Korea's foreign minister said, paving the way for Pyongyang to receive economic aid. South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan told reporters that the North had submitted its declaration to Chinese officials in Beijing. The North was set to blow up the cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear complex Friday, he said.

That would happen after the U.S. moves to take the North off a list of state sponsors of terrorism and another sanctions blacklist.

The North missed a deadline at the end of last year to submit the declaration, leading to months of haggling with Washington over what it would include. The list was not expected to provide details on nuclear weapons that the North may have produced.

U.S. officials who earlier insisted North Korea's declaration should be "complete and correct" have repeatedly scaled back expectations for the document in the wake of resistance from Pyongyang.

The declaration was not expected to include details of the North's alleged attempts to enrich uranium - the dispute that sparked the nuclear standoff in late 2002. The list also will not describe how the North allegedly helped Syria build a nuclear plant.

The North is expected in the declaration to say how much plutonium it has produced at its main reactor facility. The next step in the disarmament talks will be to verify that claim, through procedures that Hill said would be set up within 45 days.

The main U.S. envoy to nuclear talks with North Korea affirmed this week that the communist nation's bombs also will not make the cut for the declaration. Instead, details on the bombs will be left to the next stage of the talks, when Pyongyang is supposed to abandon and dismantle its nuclear weapons program.

Washington said earlier this week it will start to remove North Korea from terrorism and sanctions blacklists after the declaration is handed over.

North Korea was to hand over the declaration to China because China is host of the six-party talks, which also include the South Korea, Russia and Japan. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei gave few details and took no questions during a short briefing on Thursday.

Shortly after Wu spoke, the car belonging to the North Korean ambassador was seen driving into the Chinese Foreign Ministry, presumably to deliver the declaration documents, but that could not be confirmed.


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