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2008年7月14日 (月)


2008/7/12 --The Asahi Shimbun, July 11 (IHT/Asahi: July 12,2008)

EDITORIAL: 6-party talks resume


Six-party talks aimed at finding a peaceful solution to security concerns involving North Korea's nuclear programs resumed in Beijing on Thursday after a nine-month hiatus. Late last month, Pyongyang submitted a written declaration on the status of its nuclear development program. That kickstarted the latest talks. It is clear what must be accomplished first. A framework is needed to rigorously investigate and verify the accuracy of Pyongyang's report.

(hiatus=中断 発音注意:ハイエイタスと発音される)




The key to such corroboration will be on-site inspections of North Korea's graphite-moderated reactors, spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant and other facilities mentioned in the declaration. It will also be crucial to take a systematic approach to sampling of materials, questioning those in charge of the North's nuclear development and other aspects of the program.



Negotiators at the six-party talks must swiftly iron out an effective way to advance this process. How will the United States, China and Russia--all nuclear powers--along with Japan and South Korea, take part in the verification process? Will experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency be brought onboard? These and other issues must be studied. North Korea must cooperate in good faith.


The declaration is reportedly limited to plutonium-based nuclear development. Pyongyang claims it has 38 kilograms of plutonium. It said it had already extracted some 30 kg, of which 26 kg was used to make nuclear weapons.


In view of Washington's previous estimates that Pyongyang has stockpiled more plutonium that it said it had extracted, checks must be made to assess the accuracy of this statement. There are many areas that remain vague. For instance, just how much plutonium was extracted when the first crisis surrounding the North's nukes emerged in the early 1990s?



Pyongyang has already handed U.S. authorities a massive volume of operation records from its nuclear facilities. Washington must thoroughly analyze those materials to substantiate the amounts of plutonium involved.



In the first place, Pyongyang's nuclear declaration is a far cry from a "complete and correct" accounting agreed upon at earlier six-party talks. Nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula pose a particularly grave threat to Japan. How many nukes does Pyongyang have? What is the status of its production facilities, storage sites and testing sites? The declaration apparently fails to make any mention of these critical matters.


In 2002, suspicions arose that Pyongyang was enriching uranium. There were also suspicions that it was involved in supplying nuclear technology to Syria. North Korea has largely glossed over these areas, supplying Washington with materials that are quite separate from the main declaration.

U.S. President George W. Bush, nearing the end of his term in the White House, appears impatient for palpable progress. But forgetting about the final objective of having North Korea completely abandon its nuclear program would be unacceptable.



(gloss=もっともらしく説明する) (palpable=容易にわかる)

During recent talks with Japan, North Korea agreed to reopen its investigation into past abductions of Japanese citizens and cooperate in handing over the hijackers of a Japan Air Lines plane in 1970 who holed up in North Korea. So far, however, these negotiated promises remain just that.

The next step is to press Pyongyang to act, for example, by working with a Japan-North Korea task force set up within the framework of the six-party talks. Unless the pledges are implemented, Japan will not follow through on its promise to partially lift its economic sanctions against Pyongyang.



On Wednesday, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda stressed the importance of verifying Pyongyang's nuclear declaration and getting the regime to abandon its nuclear program. This was part of his address as chairman at the Group of Eight summit held in Hokkaido's Lake Toyako. Firm demands were likewise made for Pyongyang to resolve the nagging abduction issue promptly and take action on other issues. In this latest round of six-party talks, North Korea must be confronted with the severity of how the international community views its behavior.


(nagging=しつこい、たえず感じられる、長引いている) (severity=厳格さ、厳正さ)

--The Asahi Shimbun, July 11 (IHT/Asahi: July 12,2008)


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