"North Korea Does Not Give Full Guarantees to Stop its Nuclear Activities" – British Experts

Azerbaijan, Baku, 4 July / Trend corr G.Ahmadova/ In spite of Pyongyang's attempts to show its readiness for denuclearization, Washington and London think North Korea has not yet presented full guarantees for its promise to stop its nuclear activities.

" North Korea's declaration of its plutonium production and the destruction of the tower, plus the reciprocal steps by the US to remove some sanctions on North Korea are important symbolic steps that show demonstrable progress toward denuclearization of North Korea," said Mark Fitzpatrick, Senior Fellow for Non-Proliferation at London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

North Korea has demolished the cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear reactor, in a symbol of its commitment to talks on ending its nuclear program in 27th of June. Five television networks from countries party to the six-nation talks that constructively engaged North Korea to disengage in its nuclear weapons program were invited into the country to cover and televise the destruction of the cooling towers.

"These steps are not irreversible and many more steps must yet be taken before one can safely conclude that North Korea is ready to end its nuclear activities," Fitzpatrick said.

Last week, North Korea turned over to China a 60-page document confirming the country's capability to control the power of plutonium since the program was started in 1986.In response, Bush said he would lift some U.S. sanctions against North Korea and remove the country from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism.

"The next steps must include verification of the declaration.  North Korea seems to be ready to allow such verification at its facilities at Yongbyun," said Fitzpatrick. 

According to Christopher Bluth, professor of International studies at University of Leeds, issues that need to be resolved are the overall size of the plutonium stockpile, the number of assembled nuclear devices and the scope of uranium enrichment.

"Ultimately other issues that North Korea needs to deal with are the complete elimination of all nuclear material stockpiles and nuclear devices as well as long-range missiles (the latter are not part of the current negotiations)," Bluth said to Trend .

Bluth said, while this will mean North Korea will qualify for economic support and the US will establish diplomatic relations with North Korea, human rights issues also need to be addressed before the Kim Jong-il regime can shake off the characterisation of 'evil dictator'.

At the end of last month US president Bush claimed that they deeply concerned about North Korea's human rights abuses, uranium enrichment activities, nuclear testing and proliferation, ballistic missile programs and the threat it continues to pose to South Korea and its neighbors. The president said that in response to the act, he will lift the trade sanctions under the Trading With the Enemy Act

"Taking NK off the list of 'sponsors of terrorism' was an important first step," said Bluth.

"Whether NK will eliminate all its nuclear capabilities remains to be seen and there will be further demands from North Korea. Essentially NK will need to feel sufficiently secure to take this step. As relations with South Korea are bad right now this decision is still some time off, but stepping up economic support and establishing diplomatic links between Washington and Pyongyang by the next President will be crucial," said Bluth.

The Yongbyon reactor was shut in July last year as part of a six-party agreement reached 16 months ago, when the North said it would scrap its nuclear ambitions in return for aid and diplomatic concessions.

"So step by step, we may see further progress. This demonstrates that diplomacy can work, when combined with other tools," said Fitzpatrick.

The correspondent can be contacted at [email protected]

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