North Korea has submitted a declaration of its nuclear activities. There is hope that the frozen talks on the state’s denuclearization will resume soon. But analysts say the hard part of the negotiations will begin now.
The North Korean embassy in Beijing on Thursday. Will the secluded state open up?
There was no fanfare or ceremony as North Korea handed over its nuclear declaration. According to South Korean officials, Pyongyang’s ambassador in Beijing delivered the documentation to the Chinese Foreign Ministry earlier on Thursday.
Ray of hope for denuclearisation
And with that, a six-month long deadlock in the denuclearization talks has come to an end. North Korea had originally pledged to provide the disclosure at the end of last year.
Michael Breen, author of "Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s Dear Leader", says he never saw this one coming.
"Well I have to admit, I have been following North Korea for 25 years now and now I have to admit to being a little bit puzzled. I never expected North Korea to go this far,’’ he says. From what it appears, North Korea has decided to drop its nuclear program in exchange for benefits and move on, says Breen.
Long way ahead for negotiations
But how much Pyongyang has actually revealed about its nuclear activities is still unknown.
Daniel Pinkston, director of the International Crisis Group in Seoul, says that much remains to be done. He says that it would take sustained political will. ‘’We have to keep at this process and concentrate on the plutonium and get that out, and also continue the diplomatic process and try to build trust between all the parties so we can continue with this denuclearization,’’ says Pinkston.
In return for its cooperation, the Bush administration has pledged to remove North Korea from its list of states that sponsor terrorism and repeal the Trading with the Enemy Act: a move that could open the door to international investment in the impoverished state.
US will review declaration
Washington will now review the declaration and conduct field tests at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor to verify if the disclosure is accurate and complete.
Pinkston says if Pyongyang is found to have cheated on its declaration, then Washington does have the right to take away those incentives. "Lifting the sanctions under the trading with the enemy act and also de-listing North Korea from the State Department’s terrorism list, those are reversible. So if North Korea does not comply if they are not forthcoming, then we can go back to sanctions regime, to containment,’’ he says.
But Kim Jong il biographer Michael Breen warns that no matter how much North Korea gives in during these negotiations, its nature as a pariah state will not change.
"For as long as Kim Jong il is alive, I don’t think we will have any serious breakthrough. I think North Korea will remain North Korea for as long as he leads it,’’ says Breen.
On Friday, international television crews will be on hand for the demolition of the Yongbyon reactor’s cooling tower, the most visible feature of the complex.
It’s a symbolic gesture that’s meant to show that North Korea is sincere about ending its nuclear weapons program.