Former President Jimmy Carter said he believes North Korea would be willing to give up its nuclear weapons for U.S. diplomatic recognition, a peace deal with South Korea and America, and if it got new atomic power reactors and free fuel oil.
"It could be worked out, in my opinion, in half a day," Carter said in an interview Monday with The Associated Press.
Last week, North Korea's Foreign Ministry said it would give up its nuclear weapons only if Washington establishes diplomatic relations with the regime and the U.S. ceases to pose a nuclear threat to the North -- an apparent reference to Pyongyang's long-standing claim that American nuclear weapons are hidden in South Korea. Both Seoul and Washington deny the accusation.
Carter's and Clinton's deals to dismantle the North Korean nuclear program -- then consisting of reactors with only a theoretical weapons-building capacity -- were shelved when President George W. Bush took office in 2001. "When Bush came in he threw that in the wastebasket, and it started all over with the 'Axis of Evil,' and so therefore they began to reprocess their (nuclear) fuel," Carter said.