The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula has recorded a
substantial progress as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
(DPRK) announced that it had shut down its Yongbyon nuclear
"We have shut down the nuclear facilities at Yongbyon after we
received the first shipment of heavy oil on Friday," the official
Korean Central News Agency reported Sunday, citing a spokesman of
the DPRK Foreign Ministry.
A substantial progress
July 14 is remarkable for all parties participating in the
negotiation on the Korean Peninsula's nuclear issue. On the day,
the DPRK informed the United States of its shutdown of the Yongbyon
reactor, after a South Korean ship carrying 6,200 tons of heavy
fuel oil arrived at its northeastern port of Songbong. It also
witnessed the return of a 10-member team of UN inspectors to the
DPRK to verify and monitor the shutdown and sealing.
"We welcome this development and look forward to the
verification and monitoring of this shutdown by the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team that has arrived in the DPRK," US
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in a statement.
The nuclear issue has finally recorded a substantial progress
since all six countries -- the DPRK, South Korea, China, the United
States, Japan and Russia -- began negotiations in August 2003.
A process of common aim, dialogue and mutual trust
Analysts believe the shutdown of the DPRK's Yongbyon
nuclear facilities is a result of the endeavor of all sides, which
have definitely and unswervingly insisted on the aim of a Korean
Peninsula free of nuclear weapons.
During the negotiation process, all parties concerned were
firmly committed to solving the nuclear issue through dialogue.
This has once again demonstrated that pressure and threat are
neither workable nor conducive to resolving the nuclear issue, but
only to make the situation more complicated.
Meanwhile, the process showed that it is very important for all
parties concerned to establish mutual trust in solving the nuclear
issue. The process of the six-party talks, especially the process
of resolving the frozen fund dispute, has made people understand
better the principles of "promise for promise" and "action for
A long way to go
Shutdown of the DPRK's Yongbyon nuclear facilities is only the
first step toward the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula,
Among other steps, the DPRK, Under a joint document issued at
the six-party talks on Feb. 13, should declare all nuclear programs
and disable all existing nuclear facilities, including the graphite
moderated reactor and its post-treatment plant.
Also under the joint document, the DPRK and the United States
should start bilateral talks aimed at resolving pending bilateral
issues and moving toward full diplomatic relations.
The United States should begin the process of removing the
designation of the DPRK as a state-sponsor of terrorism and advance
the process of terminating the application of the Trading with the
Enemy Act with respect to the DPRK.
The DPRK and Japan should also start bilateral talks aimed at
taking steps to normalize their relations in accordance with the
Pyongyang Declaration, on the basis of the settlement of
unfortunate past and the outstanding issues of concern, according
to the document.
The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is complicated,
covering a wide range of issues, such as a Korean Peninsula free of
nuclear weapons, normalization of relations among the countries
involved, establishment of a peace and security mechanism in
Northeast Asia and economic and energy cooperation among the
countries concerned. Obviously, difficulties lie ahead and there is
a long way before these issues can be resolved completely.
At present, with an aim of achieving a nuclear-free Korean
Peninsula and maintaining peace and stability in Northeast Asia,
all parties concerned should continue dialogues on an equal footing
and fulfill their own commitments on the basis of the principle of
"action for action."
Top US nuclear envoy Christopher Hill gave the DPRK's shutdown a
cautious welcome on Sunday, saying: "This is just a first step ...
This is only a meaningful step insofar as it will be followed by
The DPRK also has urged other parties concerned to fulfill their
commitments quickly according to the Feb. 13 agreement.
"The DPRK has done what it should do, now it's the time for
other parties to abide by their obligation under Feb. 13
agreement," said a spokesman of the DPRK Foreign Ministry.
(Xinhua News Agency July 16, 2007)