Is North Korea set to come off US terror-sponsor list?
Report says it could happen today, but Japan opposes the plan.
New reports indicate that the US could remove North Korea from the list of nations supporting terrorism very soon, resolving a key issue in convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. But Japanese resistance to the deal may put it on hold.Skip to next paragraph
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The Times of London reports that the US could be set to announce North Korea's delisting as soon as today.
According to US and South Korean media reports, and informed sources in Tokyo who spoke to
, American and North Korean negotiators reached a compromise agreement in Pyongyang last week. President Bush will agree to delisting, reportedly as early as today, in return for North Korea's agreement on steps to be taken to verify its nuclear declaration.
The details of the "verification protocol" are still unclear, and will be scrutinised by those who suspect Mr. Bush of caving into the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il. Conservatives, including some of the president's former neo-con supporters, object on principle to the deal of cutting a deal with a regime which they regard as murderous, illegitimate and inherently untrustworthy.
North Korea is currently listed by the US as a state supporter of terrorism, but the US agreed to remove North Korea from its list in a nuclear disarmament deal signed in 2007 by both nations, as well as China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia. The Christian Science Monitor reported that last month, North Korea announced that it was restarting its nuclear program, which some believe was due in part to the fact the US had not yet removed the country from the State Department's terrorism-sponsor list.
The Times adds that the recent compromise agreement is opposed by Japan, one of the six nations involved in the North Korea nuclear talks.
The "delisting" of North Korea will cause particular dismay in Japan, which is pressing Pyongyang to provide more information about its own citizens who were abducted and brought to North Korea in the 1970s and 1980s. The fact that the US has chosen to reward the North before this issue has been resolved is regarded by many in Tokyo as a betrayal.
Many in the Japanese government regard Washington's rush to move ahead with the nuclear agreement as a transparent attempt to come up with a concrete foreign policy achievement in the last weeks of a struggling administration – and at the expense of a loyal ally.
Taro Aso, the Japanese prime minister, has informed the Bush administration that he cannot accept the North Korean offer, which Washington had urged him to support, two sources familiar with the decision told the Financial Times. ...
Chris Hill, the US negotiator, returned from Pyongyang last week with a North Korean counter-proposal. After several days of debate, the administration decided to accept the offer if the other six-party members – Japan, China, South Korea and Russia – agreed. But Japan has now rejected the proposal.
An informed Japanese source said the deal was rejected because it "seems bad". The Japanese decision has prompted President George W. Bush to instruct his negotiating team to get more concessions from North Korea.