The U.S. is not alone either. India and Pakistan both
have developed declared nuclear arsenals since the 90s in an ongoing
brinkmanship power play.
Other countries, including Iran and North
Korea are suspected or known to have produced nuclear power and weapons
grade materials in secret. Because of this, both countries were dubbed
part of the "Axis of Evil" by President Bush several years ago.
Now North Korea has agreed to a full
public accounting of its nuclear assets and has agreed to scale back its
nuclear production. The move was a culmination of a series of talks led
by fellow-communist neighbor China, which included four other nations,
including the U.S.
President Bush welcomed the move and said it would allow the U.S. to remove
North Korea from its list of states which support terrorism.
One particularly interesting detail of accounting should be North Korea's
revelation of its plutonium stocks. It is unknown how much plutonium has
been amassed by the country's nuclear operations. Plutonium is primarily
used in the creation of nuclear weapons, while uranium, from which plutonium is
produced, is primarily used for nuclear power generation.
North Korea has also agreed to dismantle a major reactor, which was shrouded
with controversy. Bush has agreed to call for the removal of North Korea
from the terror list, but warned that North Korea must show its cooperation in
a "verifiable" way. He stated, "The United States has no
illusions about the regime in Pyongyang, yet we welcome today's development as
one step of a multi-step process."
He added a warning, "If North Korea continues to make the right choices,
it can repair its relationship with the international community. If North
Korea makes the wrong choices, the United States and its partners in the
six-party talks will respond accordingly."
As part of the deal, North Korea will "acknowledge" international
concerns about its nuclear proliferation and uranium enrichment activities.
While it has not agreed to destroy its current plutonium stocks, it is willing
to agree as part of the agreement to suspend future enrichment activity.
It has also not agreed to reveal if it has any nuclear bombs, so it may have a
trump card or two up its sleeve.
In exchange the nation will receive economic and energy assistance.
It will be monitored to assure that the dismantlement of its nuclear program
proceeds earnestly. On Friday, North Korea will take an important step in
the dismantlement of its Yongbyon nuclear reactor, by imploding the cooling
tower. The power production section of the plant is currently being
dismantled. U.S. officials warn that the cooling tower's destruction is
nothing more than a symbolic gesture and much work remains.
In a surprising development, North Korea invited the international press to
cover the tower's destruction. North Korea typically bans foreign media.
The other nations involved in the talks have been South Korea, Japan, and
Russia. The U.S. backed off its initial demands that North Korea confess
to a large enriched uranium stockpile, which U.S. intelligence officials
believe exists. The U.S. also backed down from its accusations that North
Korea supplied Syria, a terror state, with nuclear weapons technology and/or
Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice said the deal was far from ideal, but it was
the best that could be accomplished. The documents from the talks will
now be reviewed for completeness and accuracy.
An irony is that North Korea's removal from the terror list will have no real
effect on U.S. sanctions against the nation and similar sanctions exist for a
variety of reason through other measures. Thus sanctions remain, but the
nuclear tensions between the communist state and the West will temporarily