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    North Korea had to develop nuclear arms to get into U.S. graces

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    MOSCOW, June 26 - RIA Novosti (international commentator Ivan Zakharchenko) - With a six months' delay, North Korea presented a list of its nuclear programs to China, which chairs the six-lateral talks aimed at ridding the Korean peninsular of nuclear weapons.

    Last year, diplomats from Russia, the United States, China, North Korea, and Japan agreed that it is essential to establish trust between all partners in dialogue in order to reach the finals goal of the talks. For their part, Americans promised to launch in Congress the process on excluding North Korea from a list of countries supporting terrorism, and ridding it from the restrictions of the Trading with the Enemy Act. In turn, Pyongyang was supposed to present a declaration listing all of North Korea's nuclear installations and programs by December 31, 2007.

    But this was achieved only recently, because the United States and North Korea could not agree on how complete this list should be. At first, Washington insisted that the declaration should reflect the number of the available nuclear weapons (North Korea announced their successful nuclear tests in October 2006), and demanded that North Korea give a clear answer to the question of whether it had supplied Syria with nuclear technologies.

    In a bid to get things moving on the eve of the presidential elections, Washington made a concession and agreed to resume the discussion of the number of North Korea's nuclear weapons and its nuclear contacts with other countries at subsequent stages.

    U.S. sanctions against North Korea have been in force for almost six decades. They were imposed after the start of a three-year Korean War in 1950. Formally, the war is still not over because in 1953 the two sides only signed a truce agreement, and Washington turned a deaf ear to Pyongyang's appeals to replace it with a peace treaty.

    Since these times, Pyongyang has been considered an American "enemy," and the United States keeps an almost 30,000-strong contingent in South Korea to offset the North Korean army.

    The United States blacklisted North Korea as a terrorist state after the mysterious incident with a South Korean passenger plane, which exploded over the Andaman Sea in 1987. South Korea accused North Korea of staging an act of terror on the eve of the Seoul Olympics, and North Korea shot back.

    The United States will start the process of removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and lifting trade and financial restrictions in the near future. It will take 45 days to complete this process.

    Analysts believe that this will give North Korea big opportunities in foreign trade, and help it break long-term international isolation.

    As a symbolic gesture, North Korea blew up on June 27 the cooling tower of its main atomic reactor at Yongbyon (100 km to the north of Pyongyang). This process was shown live by major world TV channels.

    But it will take a long time to overcome this second crisis on the Korean Peninsula. In the next few days, the participants in the six-sided talks will resume the discussion of a third stage in North Korea's nuclear disarmament - irreversible and verified cessation of all nuclear programs, and complete normalization of Pyongyang's relations with Washington and Tokyo.

    The first nuclear crisis broke on the peninsular in the early 1990s, when North Korea had just started developing nuclear weapons at Yongbyon. This was a brinkmanship situation, but in 1994 U.S. and North Korean diplomats came to a compromise: North Korea agreed to freeze its Yongbyon facility in exchange for the supply of two light-water reactors, which were inadequate for the production of weapons-grade plutonium.

    Having come to power in Washington, George W. Bush rejected Bill Clinton's policy on North Korea. The construction of light-water reactors was stopped, and North Korea resumed development of nuclear weapons.

    The six-sided talks, which started in Beijing in August 2003, were rather sluggish until North Korea conducted an underground nuclear explosion. The participants in the talks were shaken up and got matters off the ground. Pyongyang promised to give up nuclear weapons if a threat to its security were removed. It did not want to become a second Iraq.

    Strange as it may seem, but it appears that in order to get into U.S. graces, have the sanctions lifted, and be removed from the black list, North Korea had to develop nuclear weapons. Pyongyang is well aware that if it had not gone nuclear, Washington would have refused even to talk with it.

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

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