US to take North Korea off rogue states list and lift sanctions........Hum........
US to take North Korea off rogue states list and lift sanctions Jonathan Watts, east Asia correspondent and Mark Tran guardian.co.uk, Thursday June 26, 2008Article history
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George Bush announces lifting of sanctions
George Bush today took the first steps to remove North Korea from America's black list of states that sponsor terrorism and the lifting of key sanctions against the secretive regime.
The move followed Pyongyang's long-awaited declaration of nuclear activities a few hours earlier.
US financial sanctions imposed under the Trading With the Enemy Act will be lifted within 45 days, on condition that international inspectors verify the inventory, Bush said.
The US state department will meanwhile start the process of taking North Korea - which Bush once named as part of an "axis of evil" along with Iran and Saddam Hussein's Iraq - off its list of nations that sponsor terrorism.
Sanctions will be lifted unless Congress blocks such a move. That is unlikely as the Democratic majority in Congress has supported Bush's diplomatic courtship of Pyongyang.
But the US Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, said US sanctions should only be lifted "based on North Korean performance". He called on Congress to examine the North Korean declaration and verification procedures.
Obama's Republican opponent, John McCain, was also cautious.
"We'll have to have a look and see how the overall agreement is and whether we should continue to lift sanctions, whether the Japanese and South Korean concerns have been addressed," the Arizona senator told reporters in Cincinnati.
Hardline Republicans were quick to condemn the White House's rapprochement with North Korea.
"It's shameful," John Bolton, Bush's former US ambassador at the United Nations, said of the president's decision. "This represents the final collapse of Bush's foreign policy."
"Profound disappointment" was the reaction of a Republican member of the House of Representatives, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
In his announcement in the Rose garden at the White House, Bush said the US would continue to carefully observe the actions of the North Korean government and UN sanctions would remain in effect. For its international isolation to end, Pyongyang had to fully disclose all of its nuclear activities and meet other obligations, he said.
Pyongyang has been on the rogue list since 1986, when North Korean agents planted a bomb on a South Korean airliner, killing 115 people.
As a visible sign that it is dismantling its programme, North Korea will allow dozens of foreign TV companies to film and broadcast the demolition tomorrow of the cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear plant.
Coming half a year after an agreed deadline, the declaration will kick-start stalled six-party talks on the denuclearisation of the peninsular, but tougher tasks lie ahead, including assessing, locating and eliminating North Korea's atomic arsenal in return for economic aid and diplomatic recognition.
"Obviously, the weapons and all the programmes are going to have to be dealt with and dismantled if we are to have denuclearisation and it's going to have to be done so verifiably," said the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.
"If we can verifiably determine the amount of plutonium that has been made, we then have an upper hand in understanding what may have happened in terms of weaponisation."
The accuracy of the inventory will be assessed over the next 45 days by international inspectors at the Yongbyon plant.
Estimates earlier this year by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security reckoned Pyongyang has between 28-50kg of weapons-grade plutonium, enough for six to 10 bombs.
North Korea joined the nuclear club in October 2006, when it conducted an underground test explosion of a small plutonium bomb. It has denied US allegations that it was also enriching uranium for a secret nuclear programme. Those claims, made by a US diplomat in 2002, led to a tense standoff between Washington and Pyongyang.
The two sides have now compromised, in sharp contrast to the Bush administration's approach to the other two "axis of evil" nations, Iraq and Iran. This is likely to spark a fierce foreign policy debate in the upcoming US presidential election.
Calling North Korea's declaration of its nuclear activities a step in the right direction, Bush told reporters at the White House that multilateral diplomacy was the best way to peacefully resolve issues.
The issue of North Korean abductions of Japanese citizens remains a sore point with Tokyo, and Bush said the US would pressure Pyongyang to swiftly resolve the issue.
North Korea's population grows Published: Jan. 20, 2008 at 10:51 AM Order reprints
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PYONGYANG, North Korea, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- North Korea's population increased to 23.6 million in 2004 despite the reclusive communist state's economic woes, it was reported Sunday.
The figure represents a steady increase of the North's population from 22.1 million in 1996, 22.9 million in 2000 and 23.3 million in 2002, said an almanac released Sunday by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.
The population increase translates into an annual average increase of about 200,000 for the seven-year period from 1996, the South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.
A CIA estimate last year put the North Korean population at 22.6 million in 2004. The comparable figure from the Unification Ministry is 22.3 million. "It's shameful," John Bolton, Bush's former US ambassador at the United Nations, said of the president's decision. "This represents the final collapse of Bush's foreign policy." ( Bolton cfr member. ) 22.3 mpre people in the world who can now trade with the U.S. and what will they buy? Food hence (MON & POT) Energy Hence (uso) oil will now go up again> So with about 22.3 million people who will be entering the market place and will need lots of food and oil do you still think the comadies trade is over? ( on a personal note in my conspercy world thoughts the pope visits bush and bush looks like he is sucking on lemons when he made the anouncement any connection? no just in my mind)