Good afternoon. I am pleased that the United States and North Korea yesterday reached agreement on the text of a framework document on North Korea's nuclear program. This agreement will help to achieve a longstanding and vital American objective: an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula.
This agreement is good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world. It reduces the danger of the threat of nuclear spreading in the region. It's a crucial step toward drawing North Korea into the global community.
I want to begin by thanking Secretary Christopher and our chief negotiator, Ambassador at Large Bob Gallucci, for seeing these negotiations through. I asked Bob if he'd had any sleep, since he's going to answer all your technical questions about this agreement, and he said that he had had some sleep. So be somewhat gentle with him. After meeting with my chief national security advisers, and at their unanimous recommendation, I am instructing Ambassador Gallucci to return to Geneva on Friday for the purpose of signing an agreement.
The United States has been concerned about the possibility that North Korea was developing nuclear weapons since the 1980's. Three administrations have tried to bring this nuclear program under international control. There is nothing more important to our security and to the world's stability than preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. And the United States has an unshakeable commitment to protect our ally and our fellow democracy South Korea. Thirty-eight thousand American troops stationed on the Peninsula are the guarantors of that commitment.
Today, after 16 months of intense and difficult negotiations with North Korea, we have completed an agreement that will make the United States, the Korean Peninsula, and the world safer. Under the agreement, North Korea has agreed to freeze its existing nuclear program and to accept international inspection of all existing facilities.
This agreement represents the first step on the road to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. It does not rely on trust. Compliance will be certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The United States and North Korea have also agreed to ease trade restrictions and to move toward establishing liaison offices in each other's capitals. These offices will ease North Korea's isolation.
From the start of the negotiations, we have consulted closely with South Korea, with Japan, and with other interested parties. We will continue to work closely with our allies and with the Congress as our relationship with North Korea develops.
Throughout this administration, the fight against the spread of nuclear weapons has been among our most important international priorities, and we've made great progress toward removing nuclear weapons from Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and from Belarus. Nuclear weapons in Russia are no longer targeted on our citizens. Today all Americans should know that as a result of this achievement on Korea, our Nation will be safer and the future of our people more secure.
Now I'd like to ask Ambassador Gallucci to come up and make a statement and answer your questions.