US Expects North Korean Nuclear Declaration Thursday

25 June 2008

U.S. officials say they expect North Korea to make its long-delayed declaration about its nuclear program on Thursday, and if it does the Bush administration is ready to begin dropping sanctions against Pyongyang. A senior State Department official is heading to North Korea for the demolition, expected Friday, of a key element of the country's Yongbyon nuclear site. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

Casey said State Department Korean Affairs Director Sung Kim will attend the event, expected to be broadcast live, along with representatives of the other parties to the accord, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea.

He said Kim will also hold talks with North Korean officials on verifying the declaration.

The six-party accord is to lead eventually to normalized relations between North Korea and both the United States and Japan.

The White House says President Bush spoke by telephone Wednesday with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to stress U.S. understanding of Japanese concern about North Korean abductions of Japanese nationals.

More than a dozen Japanese are believed to have been abducted by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 1980s and Pyongyang has still not accounted for all of them.

Japan had voiced opposition to removing North Korea from the U.S. terrorism list until the abduction issue is fully resolved.

Bush administration officials say they raise the matter at every opportunity with the North Koreans, and it must be resolved to the satisfaction of Japan before the six-party deal comes to a final conclusion.