WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush said Thursday he will lift key trade sanctions against North Korea and remove it from the U.S. terrorism blacklist, a remarkable turnaround in policy toward the communist regime he once branded as part of an "axis of evil."
The announcement came after North Korea handed over a long-awaited accounting of its nuclear work to Chinese officials on Thursday, fulfilling a key step in the denuclearization process. Bush said the move was "a step closer in the right direction" although he made clear the United States remains suspicious about the communist regime in Pyongyang.
"The United States has no illusions about the regime," Bush said in a statement that he read to reporters in the Rose Garden.
Specifically, Bush said the U.S. would erase trade sanctions under the Trading With the Enemy Act, and notify Congress that, in 45 days, it intends to take North Korea off the State Department list of nations that sponsor terrorism.
North Korea's declaration falls short of what the administration once sought, and the White House already has come under criticism from some conservatives. Bush said there was still a long way to go.
Bush said the U.S. message to North Korea was, "We will trust you only to the extent you fulfill your promises. I'm pleased with the progress. I'm under no illusions. This is the first step. This isn't the end of the process. It is the beginning of the process."
"If North Korea continues to make the right choices it can repair its relationship with the international community ... If North Korea makes the wrong choices, the United States and its partners in the Six-Party Talks will act accordingly."
This is interesting. I think it's a step in the right direction for sure, and it tallies up another success for talking
someone out of their nuclear program, rather than trying to bomb
them out of it.
It's amazing to me that a scant few years ago this country was labeled as an "axis of evil" -- and now we're lifting sanctions against them while we still have so many restrictions against Cuba and it doesn't appear they'll be removed any time in the near future.
That said, it's still a genuine success of this Administration it would appear (at least from this article). I wish Bush had been more patient and willing to give diplomacy a chance to work in the case of Iraq, though.. and hope he'll see that it's the best course to take with regards to Iran as well, and not rush into war with them.