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U.S. Envoy Christopher Hill Discusses North Korea Nukes Deal

North Korea agreed Tuesday to shut down its Yongbyon nuclear facility within 60 days and readmit inspectors in exchange for 50,000 tons of fuel oil or financial aid of an equivalent amount. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, the chief U.S. envoy, discusses the deal.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    President Bush used his first news conference of the year yesterday to tout the agreement reached earlier this week to begin curbing North Korea's nuclear program.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: This is good progress. It is a good first step. There's a lot of work to be done to make sure that the commitments made in this agreement become a reality, but I believe it's an important step in the right direction.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    On Tuesday, North Korea agreed to shut down, seal, and eventually abandon its Yongbyon nuclear facility. In exchange, the communist country would receive fuel oil and short-term humanitarian aid.

    Further, it agreed to work toward the dismantling of its entire nuclear program in return for more fuel oil, aid, and better relations with the U.S. and Japan.

    But even within Mr. Bush's administration, the nuclear accord has already run into conservative criticism. Today's Washington Post reported that Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams was sending e-mails to other administration officials criticizing aspects of the deal.

    The Post reported that the officials who shared those e-mails did so, quote, "because they agreed with the concerns and wanted to make public the depth of disagreement within the administration."

    Abrams reportedly was upset with a provision of the accord that he said would allow North Korea to be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism before fully abandoning its nuclear program.

    White House Spokesman Tony Snow told reporters today that Abrams' concerns have been addressed.

  • TONY SNOW, White House Press Secretary:

    Just as we've done with other states, you still have performance requirements before you get de-listed. And I talked with Elliot about that this morning, and he says this has, in fact, satisfied his concerns, and he does support it.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But the man who served last year as Mr. Bush's United Nations ambassador has been widely shown on television denouncing the agreement.

    JOHN BOLTON, Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations: I think the six-party talks failed. I think the only solution is the enhanced isolation of North Korea, ultimately bringing the regime down and peacefully reuniting the peninsula.

    That's the course I would advocate, not the illusion that the North Koreans are actually going to follow through on these commitments that they've supposedly made. They have no history of that; their entire history is to the contrary.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    To which the president responded…

  • GEORGE W. BUSH:

    I strongly disagree, strongly disagree with his assessment.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But such critiques have been echoed by conservative publications. A Wall Street Journal editorial blasted the accord for ignoring, quote, "a couple of decades of broken promises, missile launches, and nuclear tests" by the North Koreans.

    The online edition of the National Review magazine asserted, quote, "There's no obvious reason North Korean President Kim Jong Il will honor the latest agreement" and that the deal amounted to, quote, "a promise from a liar."

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