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North Korea Agrees to Nuclear Disarmament

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2007 – North Korea has agreed to shut down nuclear operations and allow international inspectors into the country, President Bush announced today, hailing it as an important step toward a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

At six-party talks in Beijing, North Korea said that within 60 days it will shut down and seal all operations at the primary nuclear facilities it has used to produce weapons-grade plutonium. North Korea also agreed to allow international inspectors to verify and monitor this progress and to disclose all of its nuclear programs as an initial step toward abandoning them.

In exchange for North Korea’s commitments, the five other parties at the table -- China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the United States -- made commitments to provide economic, humanitarian and energy assistance to the people of North Korea.

“This is a unique deal. First of all, unlike any other agreement, it brings together all of North Korea's neighbors in the region, as well as the United States,” Bush said today at a White House news conference.

Bush noted that the agreement is backed by a United Nations Security Council resolution.

The breakthrough came at the six-party talks because other countries joined the U.S. in condemning North Korea’s nuclear programs, Bush said. The North Koreans have to prove themselves by actually following through on the deal, he said, but if they do, the people will benefit greatly.

The first aid that will arrive in North Korea will be 50,000 tons of fuel from South Korea as soon as the main weapons manufacturing facility is shut down and all the nuclear programs are declared, Bush said. If the North Koreans disable and abandon all their nuclear facilities, other countries will step in with additional fuel, food and economic assistance, he said. “That's not going to happen until there's some verifiable measures that have been taken,” he added.

“This is good progress; it is a good first step,” Bush said. “There's a lot of work to be done to make sure that the commitment is made and this agreement becomes a reality. But I believe it's an important step in the right direction.”

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