- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 19, 2008

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Wednesday that the cost the United States has paid so far in its effort to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons is much smaller than the concessions made by Pyongyang.

She said, however, that President Bush intends to remove North Korea from the blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism, contingent on a nuclear declaration the North will provide “soon” to China, which hosts six-country negotiations.

In a speech at the Heritage Foundation a week before she is expected to travel to Asia, the secretary offered a pointed response to administration critics, who have accused her of talking Mr. Bush into appeasing a brutal regime.

“We haven’t given North Korea any significant economic assistance, we have not engaged in any trade or investment, and North Korea is still largely isolated from the international financial system. We haven’t made any security guarantees or normalized relations,” Miss Rice said.

“Most importantly, we have not lifted any of the pages and pages worth of sanctions that are still in effect on North Korea - both numerous bilateral sanctions passed by our Congress and multilateral sanctions, to which we are a party through the U.N. Security Council,” she said.

The only U.S. reward to the North so far, she said, is 134,000 tons of heavy fuel oil, which can only be used for heating, and not “in cars or trucks or tanks or high-performance engines of any kind.”

The thousands of tons in food aid the United States has given the North is “unrelated to our diplomacy, because providing food to starving people should never be treated as a tool of policy.”

In contrast to the little that she said Washington has done so far, Miss Rice listed a series of concessions by Pyongyang. They include handing over to the U.S. more than 18,000 pages of records from the North’s main plutonium facility in Yongbyon and disabling the reactor under U.S. supervision.

“The Yongbyon facility was producing nuclear material for weapons, and we’ve set back that capability,” she said. “And every day that North Korea is less able to develop the material for nuclear weapons is a safer day for our friends, for our allies and for us.”

Miss Rice conceded that the administration is prepared to offer more rewards to Pyongyang, but insisted that they will depend on the North’s behavior and will be reversible it cheats.

“North Korea will soon give its declaration of nuclear programs to China,” she said. “President Bush will then notify Congress of our intention to remove North Korea from the state-sponsors of terrorism list and to cease the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act.”

In the following 45 days, the administration will verify the truthfulness of the declaration, and if it determines that the North has cheated, Mr. Bush will reverse his decision, she said. Washington will seek access to more documents, as well as to key personnel and the nuclear reactor itself.

Bruce Klingner, a senior fellow at Heritage who asked Miss Rice about the sequencing of the next series of actions by the six parties, which also include Japan, South Korea and Russia, said it was not clear whether the North Koreans will provide access to sites other than Yongbyon.

“She was more definitive on the declaration and the terrorist list than the administration has been before,” Mr. Klingner said after Miss Rice’s speech. “She signaled that things are in progress.”

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