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N. Korea Agrees to Uphold Nuclear Bargain

The response marks the latest in a new wave of unusually direct communication between the two countries.

The message, the country’s first official response to a letter President Bush sent Dec. 5, was delivered through diplomatic channels in New York, though it was unclear whether it came directly from Kim Jong Il, according to an official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, reported the Associated Press.

“I got his attention with a letter and he can get my attention by fully disclosing his programs, including any plutonium he may have processed and converted some of that into whatever he’s used it for. We just need to know,” said President Bush at the White House Friday.

Under the deal, Pyongyang must give a full accounting of its nuclear programs by the end of the year, and the Bush administration will then drop it from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, which imposes economic and other sanctions.

President Bush had declared the communist country as part of the “axis of evil,” along with Iraq and Iran, in a 2002 speech.

His Dec. 5 letter offered normalized relations with the United States if North Korea disclosed its entire nuclear program and got rid of its weapons.

North Korea, which conducted a nuclear test in 2006, agreed in October to provide a “complete and correct” declaration of its nuclear programs by the end of the year and dismantle its main nuclear complex.

Pyongyang largely agreed to the terms in exchange for economic and diplomatic incentives.

The United States and others involved in the six-party talks — Russia, Japan, China and South Korea — “agree that there’s a way forward for … Kim Jong Il, and an important step is a full declaration of programs, materials that may have been developed to create weapons, as well as the proliferation activities of the regime,” Bush said, according to Reuters.

North Korea told the U.S. in its message it would live up to its obligations under the deal but expected Washington to keep its end of the bargain, a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity told Reuters.

He paraphrased the North Korean response as: “we’ll live up to our side and hope you’ll live up to your side.”

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