North Korea has submitted a long-awaited declaration about the extent of its nuclear activities, and the United States responded by announcing it would drop trade sanctions and intends to remove the Pyongyang government from a terrorism blacklist.
U.S. President George Bush welcomed North Korea's declaration, which was handed over to Chinese officials Thursday. China is the host of six-nation talks aimed at disarming North Korea of nuclear weapons.
Speaking at the White House shortly after North Korea's action, Mr. Bush called the gesture an important step, and said Washington would respond with two actions of its own. Mr. Bush said the United States will drop long-standing trade sanctions against Pyongyang and begin the process of removing it from a terrorism blacklist. Over the next 45 days, the United States will carefully assess North Korea's recent efforts before finally removing it from the list.
Mr. Bush said it is an important time for North Korea to show its seriousness and commitment to the process of ending its nuclear weapons program.
North Korea originally agreed to turn over the list at the end of last year and disable its nuclear facilities, in exchange for energy aid and diplomatic initiatives.
Nuclear negotiators expected the declaration to include an accounting of Pyongyang's nuclear materials, facilities, and programs, but it was not believed to include a list of its atomic weapons. Those details are expected to be released at a later date.
In addition to its declaration, North Korea is expected to destroy the cooling tower at its main Yongbyon nuclear complex on Friday. The U.S. State Department's top Korean expert, Sung Kim, will travel to North Korea for the planned destruction of the cooling tower.
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