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2008年12月10日 (水)

社説:6カ国協議 「サンプル採取」を明文化せよ

(Mainichi Japan) December 9, 2008
Six-party talks should clarify sampling at N. Korean nuclear facilities

社説:6カ国協議 「サンプル採取」を明文化せよ

A meeting of senior envoys for the six-party talks has got under way in Beijing. This is the first talks in five months since the last meeting was held in July, and we hope that there will be progress in efforts to denuclearize North Korea, but there is more concern than expectations. It is feared that the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush may desperately try to produce results before his term ends on Jan. 20 and end up playing into North Korea's hands.


In October, the United States removed North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. The State Department explained that North Korea had agreed to cooperate in verification of its nuclear facilities, including sampling, when U.S. representative Christopher Hill, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, visited the country.


However, North Korea revealed in November that it had not reached such an agreement with the U.S. Pyongyang claims that the agreed-upon measures on verification are only visits to the sites, confirmation of relevant documents and meetings with technicians. Even though there was apparently a certain verbal agreement, North Korea is now taking a tough stand because no statement was issued on the accord.


These three measures were agreed on at the six-party talks held in July. Moreover, the statement issued at the time says additional measures require unanimous agreement. In other words, no additional verification measures can be implemented if North Korea rejects them.


Any verbal agreement cannot override a statement. Hill failed to have thorough negotiations with North Korea.


Under the current circumstances, it would be natural for the U.S. to place North Korea back on its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Nevertheless, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice chose to declare that the six-party talks would proceed. She acted prematurely without giving due consideration to the dignity of China that chairs the talks. The Bush administration's hope to lay the groundwork for disabling nuclear facilities in Yongbyong before it steps down may have led to this desperate move.


Prior to the talks, envoys from Japan, the U.S. and South Korea met in Tokyo and agreed to issue a statement that will ensure that North Korean nuclear facilities will be verified. Following the agreement, Hill met with his North Korean counterpart Kim Gye Gwan in Singapore, but failed to produce any significant results.


The focus of the current round of talks under way in Beijing is whether the parties will be able to incorporate sampling in a statement. Sampling will enable the parties to track down the amount of plutonium that North Korea extracts to produce nuclear weapons. If North Korea hangs tough in its refusal to accept sampling, North Korea's agreement to dismantle its nuclear program becomes untrustworthy.


It is desirable for Japan, the U.S. and South Korea to cooperate closely in ensuring sampling be incorporated in the agreement. However, North Korea will certainly resist such a move. U.S. and South Korean sources involved in the six-party talks are speculating that the parties will compromise with North Korea by using the term, "scientific procedures," instead of sampling, or attach an unofficial appendix providing for sampling.


It is apparent that North Korea knows that the lame duck Bush administration is desperate to produce results in the six-party talks. Washington should not compromise in its bid to produce results, which would leave a heavy burden for the future. It is wiser to hand over the matter to the administration of President-elect Barack Obama rather than forging a seriously flawed agreement.


毎日新聞 2008129日 東京朝刊


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