Photo: Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong il
Photo: Reuters
Bush. No illusions
Photo: AP

Bush administration to lift North Korea sanctions

Announcement comes after Pyongyang hands over long-awaited accounting of its nuclear work to Chinese officials, fulfilling key step in denuclearization process

US President George W. Bush said Thursday he will lift key trade sanctions against North Korea and remove it from the US terrorism blacklist, a remarkable turnaround in policy toward the communist regime he once branded as part of an "axis of evil."


The announcement came after North Korea handed over a long-awaited accounting of its nuclear work to Chinese officials on Thursday, fulfilling a key step in the denuclearization process. Bush said the move was "a step closer in the right direction" although he made clear the United States remains suspicious about the communist regime in Pyongyang.


"The United States has no illusions about the regime," Bush said in a statement that he read to reporters in the Rose Garden.


Specifically, Bush said the US would erase trade sanctions under the Trading With the Enemy Act, and notify Congress that, in 45 days, it intends to take North Korea off the State Department list of nations that sponsor terrorism.


North Korea's declaration falls short of what the administration once sought, and the White House already has come under criticism from some conservatives. Bush said there was still a long way to go.


Bush said the US message to North Korea was, "We will trust you only to the extent you fulfill your promises. I'm pleased with the progress. I'm under no illusions. This is the first step. This isn't the end of the process. It is the beginning of the process."


"If North Korea continues to make the right choices it can repair its relationship with the international community ... If North Korea makes the wrong choices, the United States and its partners in the Six-Party Talks will act accordingly."


South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan told reporters on Thursday 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.


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.


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 US 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.


North Korea handed 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.


פרסום ראשון: 06.26.08, 14:31
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