Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Framework for new negotiations with North Korea

Fresh off his trip as a private citizen to North Korea, Bill Richardson, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called the trip to the isolated country a success.

"The South Koreans exercised their self defense and the North Koreans demonstrated that maybe they're ready for serious negotiations," Richardson said.

The North agreed to allow International Atomic Energy Agency personnel to return to a nuclear facility in the country and agreed to negotiate the sale of 12,000 fuel rods and ship them to an outside country, presumably to South Korea. The fuel rods would be enough to make about six to eight nuclear weapons.

The North also agreed to consider Richardson's proposal for a military commission among the United States, North Korea and South Korea as well as a separate hotline for the Koreas' militaries.

"This is a start of a new chapter," Richardson said. "I think there's a new opportunity for all countries, the six-party countries, to come together, and make potential negotiations."

But Richardson said North Korea needs to improve its behavior. "That has to be established first. But they made a move in that direction. … Right now what needs to happen is North Korea needs to abide by the 2005 declaration that says they are going to denuclearize, get rid of their nuclear weapons. That needs to be a framework for new negotiations."

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