After Saturday’s “deadline” for North Korea to shut down its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon had come and gone, a U.S. Senior State Department Official in Washington said, on background, during a conference call with journalists on Saturday afternoon, that it would be reasonable to wait at least until after Kim Il Sung’s birthday on Sunday before getting upset.
The Senior Official also conceded that, from the other side, there had also been delays in releasing North Korean funds from a Macao Bank. Here are excerpts from her remarks:
“[O]ur patience is not an infinite supply. But we feel that given the kind of unexpected complexities that did arise in connection with some of the banking issues, that it’s probably prudent to give this thing a few more days …
“[T]he Chinese think that with a little bit of patience and coordination among the parties that despite the fact that we’ve reached our 60-day deadline and that we obviously have a concern that the deadline has not been met that this is still do-able. And so I think that there will be some very close consultations over the next few days to really try and get that done.
“[T]he Chinese believe, as I was mentioning earlier, that we need to show a little patience, but promised that they would be in very close touch with us and with the other partners in the coming days. And make clear — that all of us would make clear to, as we have tried to do in our statement, that we think the time is here for the DPRK to move forward with shutting down Yongbyon … we’re just a little delayed in the timing here and we’re going to try to work with the partners in the next few days to get it back on track.
“Well, I mean — I think we’re not interested in somehow negotiating, you know, a new deadline. I think our aim here now is, as I mentioned, without establishing an exact deadline here, to say within the coming days, and I think it is a matter of days, to get real movement. Now, you know, how long it takes to get Yongbyon shutdown and sealed is something we need to be in consultation with the IAEA about. But we want to see the initial actions of the 60 days completed as quickly as possible … what we’re saying is some of this took a little bit longer than we thought and we hoped it would. So what we’re going to focus on now is just getting it done as quickly as we possibly can.
“The 60 days has passed and a number of things that were supposed to happen did happen, but a number of things that were supposed to happen haven’t happened yet. But, you know, I think we made a good start in some areas. This — the BDA issue did turn out to be far more complex, far more technical, I think than any side had anticipated and it’s going to take us a few more days to get to where we wanted to be today.
“I think what I’d really point to, as I said, is what the North Koreans have said publicly on April 13th, which did recommit them and obviously is quoted in Sean’s statement to implementing their part of the February 13th agreement. You know, I mean, they’re suspicious. And tomorrow, as I understand, is Kim Il Sung’s birthday. It’s a Sunday. I mean, I’m not trying to say this didn’t happen because it’s a weekend and because it happened to fall on Kim Il Sung’s birthday but, you know, here we are, it’s Saturday and I’d like to be able to say to you that, you know, the banking thing is totally resolved. But we’ve — I don’t think we’re going to hear anything out of Pyongyang or — over the next 24 hours we could, but I’m just guessing that maybe we won’t. But, you know, we think within a reasonable period of time that we’ll see. We’ll see if the intent is there for the DPRK to move forward they’re going to have the option to do and we can get this process going. Continue reading U.S. accepts China's wisdom on North Korea – and will be patient for a few more days