04:08 GMT +317 October 2018
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    North Korean bomb: a reason for bargaining

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    MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Goncharov) - A shining glimmer of hope has appeared on the Korean Peninsula. On June 27, Pyongyang destroyed the cooling tower at its main atomic reactor in Yongbyon in a sign of its commitment to stop making weapons-grade plutonium.

    North Korea has done this after lengthy bargaining for removing it from the list of terrorism sponsors, giving it security guarantees and gradually lifting sanctions imposed on it.

    "I hereby certify that the Government of North Korea has not provided any support for international terrorism during the preceding 6-month period [and certify] rescission of North Korea's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism," President George W. Bush has written in his memorandum for the Secretary of State.

    The President has issued a proclamation that lifts the provisions of the Trading with the Enemy Act with respect to North Korea, approved at the beginning of the three-year Korean War in 1950. He has also notified Congress of his intent to rescind North Korea's designation as a state sponsor of terror in 45 days.

    The U.S. decision is a boon for Pyongyang, which has assured Washington that it would not support any acts of international terrorism in the future. It has also sent a declaration of its nuclear programs to China as promised by the end of June.

    The declaration was sent to China as the organizer of the six-party talks between North Korea, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. It includes the list of all of North Korea's nuclear facilities and fissionable materials.

    Pyongyang has not included the list of its nuclear weapons in the declaration.

    The six countries' agreement with North Korea stipulates that the provision of the list of nuclear facilities and the symbolic destruction of the nuclear cooling tower will end the second part of the curtailment of its nuclear programs. Nuclear weapons are to be discussed later.

    The six countries believe this is a major step toward solving North Korea's nuclear problem, especially in view of what lay before it.

    A settlement of the North Korean problem will facilitate the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and partly rehabilitate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, seriously undermined by Pyongyang's actions.

    North Korea signed the NPT to get assistance from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for its nuclear programs, but withdrew from it when IAEA inspectors insisted that they should monitor its nuclear facilities more closely.

    The move almost coincided with the beginning of six-party talks in 2003. In 2006, North Korea held an underground test of a nuclear device. Can it retrace its steps?

    Unfortunately, Iran can use the experience and arguments of North Korea to develop its nuclear program.

    This is why the G8 foreign ministers have agreed at their meeting in Kyoto on the need for both "dialogue and pressure" to get Tehran to abandon its uranium enrichment program. They have also stressed that Pyongyang's declaration was just one step in what will be a long and difficult verification process.

    The ministers adopted a statement stressing the need to carefully verify Pyongyang's declaration and recommending it to take a more active part in the process now that it will get what it had bargained for.

    But is such bargaining possible with Iran?

    Pyongyang was directly involved in the six-party talks on its nuclear problem, which allowed it to speak directly with the United States although they have been officially at war since 1950. The six countries dealing with Iran's problem comprise the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany.

    Moscow has more than once proposed holding direct talks between the United States and Iran, arguing that the problem cannot be solved otherwise.

    Just like North Korea, Iran wants to be taken off the list of designated sponsors of terrorism and granted security guarantees. Tehran also wants sanctions against it to be gradually lifted.

    The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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