US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the North Korea agreement, September 19, 2005
September 19, 2005
QUESTION: On North Korea, you have a breakthrough agreement but it includes a concession in allowing North Korea to pursue at some point a peaceful nuclear -
SECRETARY RICE: No, let me say what the agreement says. The agreement says that North Korea will abandon its nuclear weapons and its nuclear programs. So not just its nuclear weapons but it will be denuclearized.
Secondly, it says that the Korean Peninsula will be denuclearized verifiably. It says that North Korea will come back into the NPT and adopt IAEA safeguards. But of course, since it's had an illegal program it's got to dismantle before it could be in good standing with the IAEA.
And then it says, and at an appropriate time we'll discuss the issue of a light-water reactor.
The North Koreans asserted that they have a right to peaceful nuclear uses. We took note of that and said at an appropriate time we'll discuss a light-water reactor.
Now, the associated statements by various parties to the agreement make clear that even the discussion of a light-water reactor is after the North Koreans have dismantled, come back into the NPT and been into IAEA safeguards. Frankly, by that time, when the North Koreans are verifiably denuclearized, we can discuss anything.
And so call it a concession if you will. I think saying you'll discuss a light-water reactor sometime in the future when the North Koreans have disarmed and are back in the NPT and the IAEA, it seemed worth it.
QUESTION: Well, what led to the breakthrough? Did that language, that particular language, help or -
SECRETARY RICE: Well, actually, the language that says "discuss an LWR at an appropriate time" was in the Chinese - the Chinese did a composite fifth draft and they essentially asked for an up/down on that draft. We debated it long and hard as to whether or not we wanted to agree to that draft. It had the good language, from our point of view, about abandoning nuclear weapons and nuclear programs because the North Koreans had fought to have it say nuclear weapons-related programs or whatever. It had the good language on IAEA safeguards. It had the good language on verifiably denuclearized Korean Peninsula. It required really that the United States only state things that we've been prepared to state before about not attacking and so forth. So the agreement was good from our point of view.
The question was: Were we prepared to leave in "discuss a LWR at an appropriate time"? We did have concerns that if "at an appropriate time" was vague that the North might try and tie up the next round saying, "Where's our light-water? You know, where's the discussion of our light-water reactor?" And that's why we thought it was important that other states make clear that there is a sequence here and that the light-water reactor is an issue for the future. The key here is the dismantlement of the nuclear programs....
QUESTION: Can I come back to North Korea for a second and talk specifically about the implications for the U.S.-China relationship? Because it does seem that in many ways China did play a key and constructive role with regard to North Korea. Does that in any way have an impact on U.S.-China relations? I think about, say, the speech that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld gave that tended to characterize the Chinese ultimately as a threat to the U.S. and thinking about things like, if you will, the congressional reaction to the CNOOC effort to acquire UNOCAL and so forth. And I'm just wondering what impact this might have on both Congress and Bush Administration with regard to China.
SECRETARY RICE: Sure. I think it emphasizes the positive side of relations. This is a complicated relationship. It has puts and takes. It has good sides and it has bad sides. On the good side, we obviously have been pretty effective with them in this multilateral diplomacy and we'll see how it goes from here. And I want to emphasize in this North Korea deal that we got today is really a first step so we have a long road ahead of us. But obviously, they've played a constructive role.
We have good cooperation in the war on terrorism. I think you'll see that we have good cooperation in the UN on things like Haiti. There are a lot of good aspects of the relationship. There are good aspects to the trade relationship in that the growth of the Chinese economy is good for markets. It's been particularly good for commodities producers. And so there are good things about the economy.
On the other hand, a Chinese economy that is that big and that robust that isn't reformed is going to be a problem for the international system. So when you hear people talking about their currency reform or about protection of intellectual property rights, I think it's just acknowledgement that the reason for integrated China into the WTO was to integrate China into a rules-based economy so that you didn't have a huge economy playing outside of the rules and creating a different kind of playing field. And on that, the question - the picture is mixed.
On the defense side, I couldn't agree more with Don. China's military buildup looks outsized for its regional interests. Now, does that necessarily have to be a threat to the United States? Not necessarily. It also depends on how - whether or not the United States maintains its own robust defense capabilities and technological advancement in this region, which I'm sure we will.
So I think trying to characterize the U.S.-Chinese relationship as all positive or all negative is just difficult to do because it's such a complex relationship and there's so many different aspects, you're going to have good and bad existing side by side. But on balance, I think at this point in time I think it's a relationship that is better than it's ever been and it's really our job, given that China is going to be a factor and an influence, it's our job to try and make that a positive influence in international politics, not a negative one.
September 19, 2005
Q. ... Given what you've said in the past about North Korea's record of noncompliance, what makes you think that this time North Korea will abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons?
THE PRESIDENT: Five nations, in working with North Korea, have come up with a formula which we all hope works. Five nations have spoken and said it is not in the world's interest that North Korea have a nuclear weapon. And now there's a way forward. And part of the way forward is for the North Koreans to understand that we're serious about this, and that we expect there to be a verifiable process. In other words, they have said, in principle, that they will abandon their weapons programs. And what we have said is, great, that's a wonderful step forward, but now we've got to verify whether or not that happens.
It was a positive step yesterday. It was a step forward in making this world a more secure place. And I want to thank our other partners in the six-party dialogue, you know, by working together. The question is, over time, will all parties adhere to the agreement.
Source: US Department of State Washington File, http://usinfo.state.gov.
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