US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill visit to North Korea, press briefing, December 5, 2007
Evening Walk-Through at Six-Party Talks Christopher R. Hill, Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kerry Center Hotel Beijing, China December 5, 2007.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: It was a good two and a half day trip. The first part of it was, I made a visit down to Yongbyon. And, indeed, there is a lot of disabling activity going on. We went through all three sections of the facility there. That is, the fuel fabrication facility, the reactor, and then finally the reprocessing center. There is disabling activity going on at all three. They have done a lot of work in preparation of discharging the fuel in the reactor, which I think will have a big effect because that will mean they can't easily put it back. That will enable the disabling to be of real value, so that we have over a year worth of disabling.
We have Americans there on the spot staying in the guest quarters there and working together with the DPRK counterparts. I'd say the work is proceeding rather well. We put on protective gear in order to go inside some of the facilities and see what they are doing. And it really involves taking apart equipment and making it very difficult to get the facility started again. So that was mainly Monday's activities. Then on Tuesday I had talks, first of all, starting with the Foreign Minister. Or I should say on Monday, at the end of that day at Yongbyon, I met with the head of their nuclear energy agency, Dr. Rhee.
Then on Tuesday, I met with the Foreign Minister and then had lengthy discussions with Kim Kye Gwan. Now the discussions with Kim Kye Gwan centered on the activities leading to what we are calling Phase II. That is, leading to the end of the year. We talked about disabling, and I think we had a good understanding of what we are doing on disabling. But we also talked about the declaration that they are preparing. And we wanted to make very clear that when they submit the declaration to the Six Parties, it is important that the declaration, even as a first draft, should nonetheless be complete and correct. And we emphasized that. And I discussed some of the elements that I would want to see in the declaration to ensure that when the declaration comes forward there are no surprises.
So that was mainly the focus with Vice Minister Kim Kye Gwan. We also discussed the next phase, although I think Mr. Kim preferred to keep the discussion on Phase II because we have not yet completed Phase II. But I raised the issue of our strong view that we need to get through all of these phases and complete the process by "08. I saw the Vice President of the People's Assembly, Mr. Yang. Then I saw, the next day, I saw Kim Kye Gwan once again for additional discussions. We didn't really have a lot of time to get around Pyongyang. I did see We have a person who is working on the disabling and working on the administrative arrangements for the disabling staying at the Koryo
Hotel, and I was able to see him. His name is Pat O'Brien. In addition, I did see, I did one trip to go down and have a look at their subway system. So that was about it.
QUESTION: Ambassador Hill, on the declaration, what seems to be the holdup on that? You've been expecting a draft copy for quite a while now. What seems to be the hold up?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I hate to call it a holdup except that our concern is, we don't want a declaration that arrives and that immediately people see what is missing. So the DPRK is under an obligation to provide a complete and correct declaration. So we wanted to discuss what we see as, what we believe is necessary for complete and correct. So I think the DPRK is pretty close to providing a declaration, but we want it to be as good as possible.
QUESTION: And did, while you were up there, you get a chance to talk about what is in the declaration, or did you get a chance to see a draft copy?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No. We discussed what they plan to have in the declaration, and we wanted to make sure that they would also include all the facilities, materials, and programs that the DPRK has had in the nuclear era in these many years that it has had these nuclear ambitions.
QUESTION: Is the problem with HEU?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I'm not prepared to say it is a problem. But we need to make sure that all programs need to be included.
QUESTION: South Korea has said that North Korea might not be able to dismantle by the end of the year. What is your take on that?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You mean disable by the end of the year?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think the disabling has gone very well. You know, one of the issues has been the discharge of fuel which is very important, but we want it to be done safely. It was at our instigation that we slowed down the discharge to ensure that it would be done safely. I think it is fair to say the disabling is going very well.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) by the end of the year?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again, we are not looking for some sort of cliffhanger, five minutes of twelve. What we want to see is that this is going on as quickly as possible and as safely as possible, and we are very much convinced that that is the case. So disabling is going fine. And I thought it was very significant that all
members of the Six Parties came out and saw last week, and I think they had that same impression.
QUESTION: Is there a difference between what you think is necessary on the declaration and what the North Koreans think is necessary?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I don't want to go into details, but there are definitely some differences there, yes. But I don't want to go into details. We are trying to work with them to make sure we don't have differences, and the atmosphere of the meeting was very cooperative. So I don't want to suggest that we are at some impasse or that we can't seem to solve something, because the atmosphere was positive. But, yes indeed, there are some differences.
QUESTION: Not so big differences?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, again, I just told you I don't want to get into characterizing those differences.
QUESTION: But is this the reason why we can not have SixParty Talks this week?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: You know, I am not sure what is the reason we are not having SixParty Talks, because I think there are various things to talk about. But I'll be seeing the Chinese tomorrow. But you should ask the Chinese, who are the ones who talk to all the parties. I'm not sure that this has anything to do with the declaration, because although if we had had Six Parties we would have wanted to talk about the declaration, I don't think that it has been the issue. I think it's some other things, probably having to do with scheduling.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) tomorrow?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think my plan is, I'm going to stay here tomorrow. And then on Friday morning I will go through Narita, and I hope I will have the opportunity to meet with Ken Sasae and brief him in a little more detail than I am briefing you all.
QUESTION: Have you discussed with the North Koreans about the terrorism list issues, and also does that have anything to do with them not coming up with a list yet?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Second question, no, I do not think so. It does not seem to. And, yes, every time we talk to them we've talked about the terrorism list and the Trading with the Enemy Act.
QUESTION: Would you say that you made progress in your discussion with Mr. Kim Kye Gwan on the declaration?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Yes, I think we did actually.
QUESTION: Do you think you've narrowed your differences?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I can see you're writing an article, and you're looking for readymade quotes to fit your article. But look, I think we have had a very useful exchange on the subject. In that sense, I think we have made progress. I won't really know until I see a declaration though. So I don't want to go too far in characterizing the progress, because I need to see what their declaration is going to look like.
QUESTION: Did they give you an estimate of when that declaration might be available?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Certainly in time to meet the December 31st deadline.
QUESTION: On the enrichment issue and the declaration, is your concern that North Korea is not going to include that entire program in the declaration, (inaudible) certain elements of the enrichment program?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Again, I indicated that I do not want to discuss the specifics, but to be sure we are looking for elements. As we discussed the declaration, as we discussed materials, installations, and programs we found that items in each of these three lists were not there that in our view should be there. And so we discussed those items that we believe should be included in the declaration. Again, I don't want to get into specifics at this point.
QUESTION: Do you anticipate the heads of delegation meeting in December?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think it might have been possible in December. But I've just been out here this week, and I'm not sure I want to come around and turn back so soon before Christmas. So we will have to see, but it may slip to the beginning of January.
QUESTION: So you might not have a full declaration before the end of the year?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, no, I think we will have it, and then there will be the question of how it is looked at by the five other members. And I think, from a holiday point of view, it might be difficult to get the five members around a table - six all together, of course, since the DPRK will have to be there. So I am going to talk to the Chinese and see. This is their process, and let's see what they want to do.
And, by the way, the Chinese have been very, very helpful in terms of assisting in getting the material into the DPRK, because most of it is being purchased in China and being brought to the DPRK. We are talking about heavy earthmoving equipment, large lorries, frontend loaders, forklifts, large heaters for use inside warehousesized places. We have a lot of tanker trucks bringing fuel. We have a lot of major items that are being brought
in through China. It has not been done before, and we're very pleased at the cooperation we're getting on that.
QUESTION: The original plan was to get the draft and then go backandforth and get it finalized. Since you will not have the heads of delegation meeting, will [it] be more like a onetime declaration?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, I don't think we're quite in a position to tell you. I think you are quite right; the original idea was to get a draft and start working it. But I think what we want to do is make sure that the draft we get is as complete and correct as possible, because we know there are a lot of people - cheering on from the sidelines or not cheering on from the sidelines - who would perhaps leap at the opportunity to look at a draft that is not complete and not correct. So, in short, I think it is very important that whatever first draft gets out there is as complete and as correct as possible.
Now you raise an important question. How are we going to do this in the Six Parties? Because we do at some point need a meeting. Ideally, we should be doing this in time for December 31, because it is the time we all laid out for us. But a lot of members have problems trying to leave their families at Christmas to go and look at some pieces of paper because we want it to be done before the 31st and not immediately after the 31st. So let me talk to the Chinese and see how they see this.
QUESTION: When you were in Pyongyang, did the light water reactor issue come up?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: No, it did not.
QUESTION: Did you suggest to the North Koreans that they not present the declaration because you wanted a more complete draft, or were they at this time prepared to present it?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I think the North Koreans are prepared to move very fast. But I think it was Mr. Kim Kye Gwan who also said, we don't want to rush this and cause problems. "Haste makes waste," I think is what he said. So I don't think we have any big disagreement on that. But they were very interested in showing that they are meeting our timelines.
QUESTION: Do the North Koreans have any other issues that they want resolved, energy issues or anything like that, before they present the declaration?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Well, to be sure, we've been - The various members of the Six Parties or, I should say, four of the Six Parties have been organizing energy assistance, and we've been kind of rotating each month. So the North Koreans are very aware of when the energy arrives. In fact, one of the plants had to shut down because the energy hadn't arrived on time. So, yes, they are very aware of energy issues,
but they are also very aware that we are doing everything we can do to work on this and to keep it moving.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: I am so looking forward to going up to my hotel room and sleeping, and then I'll think about tomorrow. But, yes, I am seeing Wu Dawei. I think I also have some bilateral meetings at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, and I'm sure there are some other meetings. I'm sure the Embassy can give you a read out on what they all are. But my plan is to be here through tomorrow night, and then leave early Friday to get to Narita, and then see Ken Sasae.
QUESTION: And then continue on to Washington?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: And then continue on to Washington.
QUESTION: So what time are you leaving tomorrow morning?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: Tomorrow morning? I think it's Check with the Embassy. I want to say it is a nine thirty meeting, but
AIDE: Eight forty
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: So I'm leaving here at 8:40?
ASSISTANT SECRETARY HILL: So if you show up at 8:41 - (Laughter)
All right. See you later.
Source: US Department of State, http://usinfo.state.gov.