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2008年10月13日 (月)


(Oct. 13, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Past sparks skepticism of N-verification deal

テロ指定解除 疑問の多い実効的な核検証(1012日付・読売社説)

The U.S. government has announced that it removed North Korea from its list of nations sponsoring terrorism. The decision was made after North Korea agreed to a series of measures to verify statements about its nuclear program which Pyongyang submitted in June.


U.S. President George W. Bush has said that North Korea's agreeing to a comprehensive and rigorous verification protocol for its nuclear activities is a prerequisite for being delisted as a state sponsor of terrorism. We wonder how well such a protocol is secured.


At upcoming six-party negotiations on Pyongyang's nuclear program expected to be resumed within this month, Japan must ascertain ambiguous elements of the agreement with the United States and North Korea and then establish a robust verification regime, which will not allow Pyongyang to conceal nuclear activities.


Although the details of the agreed verification scheme between the United States and North Korea have not been revealed, Washington explained, "Every element of verification that we sought is included in this package."


But it is difficult to quell doubts about whether an effective nuclear verification regime can be realized considering the repeated concessions made by the United States in its negotiations with North Korea, as well as by Pyongyang's behavior to date.



Keeping track of fissile material

The pivotal element in North Korea's nuclear declaration is the production records for its plutonium, the key material for producing nuclear weapons. The verification procedures must confirm all of the plutonium that Pyongyang produces and possesses.


The verification regime that the United States initially proposed was an exhaustive one--covering not only Pyongyang's plutonium program but also its manufacturing and experimenting with nuclear weapons, its uranium enrichment program and its proliferation activities. Such a broad scope is necessary because it is impossible to ensure North Korea is fully denuclearized without having a mechanism to verify the whole picture.


Negotiations faced rough going due to protests by Pyongyang. When the United States postponed delisting, North Korea said it halted the disablement process at its Yongbyon nuclear facility and was considering restarting operations at the facility. Pyongyang said it would not accept a house search by the United States of the sort performed in Iraq.



Use of brinksmanship

When circumstances became adverse, North Korea used its usual maneuvering to bring about a crisis by shelving the execution of an agreement and pressing the United States for concessions.


As a result, the disablement process at the Yongbyon facility, for which the deadline was set as the end of last year, remains at standstill.


North Korea has not yet launched a committee to reinvestigate the cases of Japanese abductions. It is therefore not surprising that the Cabinet approved Friday an extension of its ban on port calls by North Korean-registered vessels and all imports of goods from the country for another six months.


However, the government promised to lift its sanctions on chartered flights and the entry of North Korean nationals in return if Pyongyang sets up the committee. We will wait and see whether North Korea makes a move on this issue.


The United States repeatedly stressed that it will never forget the abduction of Japanese citizens by the North Koreans. Japan and the United States, reinforcing bilateral cooperation, must strongly press North Korea to resolve not only the denuclearization issue but also the abduction issue.


(From the late editionof The Yomiuri Shimbun, Oct. 12, 2008)

200810120148  読売新聞)


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