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PacNet #37 – First things first in the Six-Party Talks: verify and implement

The Six-Party Talks will reconvene this week after a nine-month hiatus. Although the agenda should be clear to all participants, there are conflicting messages from various capitals that threaten to distract the negotiators. Pyongyang says it is not prepared to move into phase 3 of the talks (i.e., nuclear dismantlement) until it receives all the energy assistance and political benefits it was promised under phase 2. Fair enough — if North Korea means that it won’t start shipping spent nuclear fuel rods out of the country this summer. But this better not mean that Pyongyang will drag its feet on verification procedures or detailed planning for nuclear dismantlement. That can, and must, begin now.