US Envoy: North Korea Must Live Up To Its Obligations

Posted July 24th, 2012 at 9:20 pm (UTC-5)
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A senior U.S. diplomat says North Korea can rejoin the international community if it lives up to its international obligations to dismantle its nuclear programs.

Ambassador Glyn Davies, special representative of the Secretary of State for North Korea policy, told VOA that Pyongyang made promises to do that at a meeting with U.S. officials on February 29, but shortly after that reneged on the pledges.

“We came through almost a year's worth of effort on the part of the United States to talk to North Korea. We had three separate negotiations with North Korea on three continents over 11 months and our effort there was to provide an opportunity for North Korea to rejoin the international community. They decided at the end of that not to follow through on their promises. That was a missed opportunity, a miscalculation.”

Davies said that only 16 days after the agreement was reached, Pyongyang invalidated it by launching a rocket, which he said was obviously a ballistic missile test. He said North Korea's action was incomprehensible in view of the time and effort it invested in reaching the agreement.

“It didn't make sense to me that they would have invested a year of effort in negotiating with us only to then put an end to our bilateral track by making the announcement that they intended to launch a missile. So I thought they must be confused in Pyongyang. The right hand and the left hand potentially are not communicating with each other because it was quite clear in our protracted negotiations with the North Koreans over three separate occasions what it was that we were looking for out of the February 29th agreement. We were quite explicit, we spent hours and hours in discussions. They knew that a rocket launch such as they announced shortly after our deal was concluded — they knew that they would put an end to our efforts to improve relations bilaterally.”

As a result, he said the United States lost faith in North Korea's promises and decided to halt plans to send food aid to the chronically impoverished country. The U.S. envoy said the food assistance program would require a complex process of verification that the food would go to needy people and not to North Korea's huge army.

“That was a missed opportunity, that was a shame that they chose to put an end to our cooperation. I hope at some point we can get back to it, but we are nowhere close to that now because we have yet to see from North Korea steps that would prove that they are serious about living up to their promises.”

The U.S. envoy urged North Korea to improve its relationship with South Korea and the rest of the world by taking action on the multiple United Nations resolutions it has flouted so far. He said Pyongyang has to prove by its actions that it is serious about fulfilling its obligations because its words cannot be trusted.

Reiterating an earlier statement from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Davies said the government in Pyongyang also must begin to put the needs of its people first — to ensure that they get food, education and other basic necessities. He said the United States is watching the human rights situation in North Korea as well as its attitude toward South Korea and the international community.