Archive for February 29, 2012
Well, we have entered a new era in Texas executions. Live tweeting and blogging. WFAA-TV (Dallas) reporter Jason Whitely is a media witness to the execution of convicted police killer and Texas 7 gang member George Rivas. Here are his dispatches from Huntsville leading up to the execution:
6:31p Before being put to death, George Rivas said: “For Aubrey Hawkins’ family, I apologized for everything that happened.”
6:26p Texas 7 gang leader George Rivas was executed by lethal injection at 6:22 p.m. for the murder of Irving police Officer Aubrey Hawkins.
5:59p George Rivas will be strapped to a gurney, arms extended, and an IV for the lethal injection will be inserted in both arms. Once He’s strapped down, the warden will call for witnesses to enter the two observation rooms.
5:58p Once witnesses are in place, guards will ask George Rivas if he wants to make a final statement. He said he did.
5:48p Guards move George Rivas from his holding cell, 15 feet to the execution chamber. The lethal injection procedure is scheduled to begin a few minutes after six o’clock.
5:22p One of George Rivas’ four witnesses did not appear for his execution. Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins will attend instead.
WFAA Reporter Jason Whitely addresses the media outside the Huntsville prison tonight.
5:03p Three drugs are used in the lethal injection cocktail. That used to cost about $86, but the price has recently skyrocketed to more than $1,300 because the state has been forced to resort to a more expensive substitute for one of the drugs being used.
5:01p “I met with him a few minutes ago along with the warden and the chaplain, and Rivas stated that he’s… all these years he’s made it clear that he’s ready to go,” said Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. “He did say that he was going to make a last statement.” Rivas is said to have made several personal calls from a phone provided by the prison, He asked five friends to witness his lethal injection.
4:50p More than 15 Irving police officers are standing outside the Walls Unit where George Rivas will soon be executed for killing Irving Officer Aubrey Hawkins on Christmas Eve 2000.
4:42p The widow of Irving police Officer Aubrey Hawkins, who was killed by George Rivas, will not attend the execution. She told News 8 that she felt no closure after being present at the last execution of a Texas 7 gang member in 2009.
4:40p George Rivas was served barbequeue chicken for his final meal, just like the other inmates at the Walls Unit.
4:30p George Rivas’ appeals have all been denied. Clemency is denied. The state says attorneys for the convicted killer do not plan a last-minute challenge to the scheduled 6 o’clock execution.
3:49p Texas no longer offers a special “last meal” to condemned inmates. At 4 o’clock, George Rivas will get the same meal the rest of the unit gets today.
2:48p WFAA photojournalist Taylor Lumsden is following five Irving Police Department vehicles en route to Huntsville to witness the execution of George Rivas.
12:47p Arriving at the Walls Unit, George Rivas goes to a holding cell 15 feet away from the death chamber. He is alone and unrestrained and can use a phone.
12:45p George Rivas will be fingerprinted and given a new white uniform upon arriving at the Walls unit following lunch for his scheduled 6 o’clock execution.
11:50a Guards will soon move George Rivas from Death Row about 40 miles to the Walls Unit for a scheduled 6 p.m. execution.
11:45a George Rivas spent this morning meeting with friends behind glass at Texas Death Row.
Rivas was already a notorious criminal serving a total of 18, 15-year-to-life sentences when he gained infamy in 2000 as the leader of a band of prison escapees. Wednesday evening, the 41-year-old was administered a lethal injection in the state’s death chamber in Huntsville. His last words were an apology to the family of a man he killed, Irving Police officer Aubrey Hawkins.
On Christmas Eve of 2000, eleven days after Rivas and six other violent prisoners broke out of the Connally Unit in Kenedy, the group robbed a sporting goods store in Irving. Officer Hawkins arrived on the scene, was shot nearly a dozen times, and was then run over. The seven escapees remained on the run for another month before authorities received a tip they were staying at an RV park in Woodland Park, Colorado. Six of the escapees were captured, including Rivas, a seventh committed suicide.
Rivas was tried in Dallas and said he deserved a death sentence, but spent 11 years appealing the punishment. Among those in Huntsville who witnessed the execution was attorney Toby Shook, the prosecutor in the Rivas case. “This crime couldn’t be more brutal… breaking out of prison, murdering a police officer. It’s a case that gives a great example to why the death penalty is appropriate in certain cases,” said Shook. Michael Rodriguez is the only one of the six living escapees to be executed so far. Four others remain on death row in the Polunksy Unit in Livingston.
Those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis know that I am not a proponent of Capital Punishment, per se. That being said, if there was ever a candidate for the gurney, George Rivas was it. Rivas and accomplices he handpicked for the escape broke out of the Texas Prison system’s Connally Unit, about an hour south of San Antonio, on Dec. 13, 2000. They overpowered workers, stole their clothes, broke into the prison armory for weapons and drove off in a prison truck. They left behind an ominous note: “You haven’t heard the last of us yet.” While out of prison, they supported themselves by committing robberies. Hawkins was shot 11 times and run over with a stolen SUV driven by Rivas as the gang held up a sporting goods store closing on the holiday eve. They drove off with loot that included $70,000 in cash, 44 firearms and ammunition for the guns.
Nashville, Tennessee this afternoon.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee — (DMN/CNN) – A powerful storm system that spawned suspected tornadoes left destruction and death in its wake as it pushed through the Midwest on Wednesday, leaving at least eight dead and more than 100 injured, authorities said. Other possible tornadoes are expected Wednesday afternoon and night, as the storm pushes toward the Mid-Atlantic region, according to CNN meteorologist Sean Morris. Such activity was possible in northern Alabama, extreme north Georgia, southern and eastern Kentucky, northern Mississippi, western North Carolina and much of Tennessee, he said.
In addition to possible tornadoes, the storm itself will carry thunderstorm winds as strong as 80 mph. Among the hardest hit cities was Harrisburg, Illinois, where at least six people were killed, according to the governor’s office. The number of fatalities in Harrisburg could rise in the wake of the suspected twister, which appeared to have been on the ground for several miles, said Mayor Eric Gregg. The path of destruction was about three or four football fields wide, he said. The scene in the southern part of Harrisburg was one of debris and collapsed houses. Commercial and residential buildings were crushed. A tractor-trailer could be seen laying on its side, off the highway.
Crews were searching “piece by piece” for survivors, Gregg said. It was “a path of destruction that is absolutely devastating,” he said. “It’s a very difficult day for a very good community in southern Illinois.” According to the sheriff’s office, some 100 people were injured and between 250 and 300 houses were damaged or destroyed. Some 25 businesses were also damaged or destroyed, the sheriff’s office said. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen, and something I don’t care to see again,” Gregg said. Among the structures hit was the Harrisburg Medical Center.
The suspected tornado sheared off part of the building’s southern wall, leaving several patients’ rooms exposed, as well as some offices, said hospital worker Jane Harper. Luckily, hospital staff had enough time to move those patients to the better-protected center of the building before the suspected twister struck, she said. “I’ve had my share of disasters, but never seen a tornado like this, that’s for sure,” she said. As of Wednesday afternoon, the storm was threatening Kentucky, among other states. Several counties in the Bluegrass State reported storm damage, but no fatalities were immediately reported. “We can’t confirm there was a tornado, but we have reported sightings and they have actually seen some video of what appears to be a tornado,” Kentucky Emergency Management spokesman Buddy Rogers said.
That possible tornado struck in McCracken County, where five injuries were reported, one critical, Rogers said. At least six counties in the state reported structure damage. Earlier, two deaths were reported in Missouri as a result of the storms. A woman was killed overnight in Dallas County, Missouri, the coroner there said, without giving further details. An apparent tornado near Cassville, Missouri, left another person dead, the Barry County Sheriff’s Office said. That person was thrown out of a mobile home, the sheriff’s office said. The resort community of Branson was also hit. “I woke up this morning and looked outside and saw houses were destroyed,” said Steven Scharmanzer in Branson. “I’ve never seen anything like this in the 20 years I’ve lived here.”
Kansas was hit Tuesday night, and Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency for the tiny town of Harveyville, about 20 miles southwest of Topeka. Emergency teams combed the community to assess damage after the National Weather Service confirmed a tornado had struck the city. Some homes and a church were damaged, and there were numerous reports of trees and power lines down throughout the area, according to the Kansas Adjutant General’s Department. At least one person was critically injured and transported to a hospital in Topeka, while four others were briefly trapped in a structure. There were also reports of a suspected tornado touchdown in Kansas’ Reno County, near Hutchinson, and another in central Nebraska.
DAY 1 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK CORR 1
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
1134 AM CST WED FEB 29 2012
VALID 291630Z - 011200Z
...THERE IS A MDT RISK OF SVR TSTMS TODAY ACROSS MUCH OF TENNESSEE
AND ADJACENT SOUTHERN KENTUCKY...SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA...WESTERN NORTH
CAROLINA...NORTHERN GEORGIA...NORTHERN ALABAMA AND NORTHERN
...THERE IS A SLGT RISK OF SVR TSTMS TODAY THROUGH
TONIGHT...SURROUNDING THE MODERATE RISK AREA...ACROSS THE OHIO
VALLEY...SOUTHWARD INTO PARTS OF THE LOWER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY AND
NORTHERN GULF STATES...EASTWARD INTO SOUTHERN MID ATLANTIC COASTAL
CORRECTED WORDING AND TYPO IN LAST SENTENCE FOR GREATER CLARITY
...OH/TN VALLEYS/NRN GULF STATES INTO SRN MID ATLC COAST...
SIGNIFICANT WEAKENING OF THE DEEP/OCCLUDING UPPER MISSISSIPPI VALLEY
SURFACE CYCLONE IS EXPECTED AS IT DEVELOPS EASTWARD INTO THE GREAT
LAKES REGION LATER TODAY. HOWEVER...MODELS INDICATE THAT DEEP LAYER
FLOW AND SHEAR WILL REMAIN STRONG /50-60+ KT/ THROUGH MUCH OF ITS
WARM SECTOR...WHERE BREAKS IN CLOUD COVER SHOULD ALLOW SUFFICIENT
INSOLATION FOR MIXED LAYER CAPE OF 500 TO 1000 J/KG. COINCIDENT
WITH THIS DESTABILIZATION...GUIDANCE ALSO INDICATES THAT A SHORT
WAVE IMPULSE...PIVOTING AROUND THE SOUTHERN PERIPHERY OF THE
ASSOCIATED MID-LEVEL LOW...WILL CONTRIBUTE TO INCREASING UPWARD
VERTICAL MOTION THROUGH THE 18-21Z TIME FRAME... ROUGHLY ALONG A
NORTHEAST-SOUTHWEST PRE-COLD FRONTAL AXIS THROUGH THE OHIO AND
TENNESSEE VALLEYS. AS THIS OCCURS...RENEWED CONVECTIVE DEVELOPMENT
AND INTENSIFICATION IS EXPECTED...PROBABLY BOTH IN BROKEN LINES AND
THE JUXTAPOSITION OF THE SOUTHERN FRINGE OF STRONGER MID-LEVEL
FORCING AND BETTER MOISTURE/INSTABILITY DURING THE PEAK AFTERNOON
HEATING STILL APPEARS LIKELY TO BE CENTERED ACROSS THE TENNESSEE
VALLEY...JUST SOUTH OF A LINGERING ONGOING INITIAL BAND OF STORMS
EXTENDING ACROSS WESTERN TENNESSEE INTO CENTRAL KENTUCKY. THIS MAY
PROVIDE THE FOCUS THE MOST CONCENTRATED SEVERE THREAT... INCLUDING
THE RISK FOR SUPERCELLS...WITH LOW-LEVEL HODOGRAPHS LARGE ENOUGH TO
SUPPORT POTENTIAL FOR STRONG TORNADOES...IN ADDITION TO THE RISK FOR
LARGE HAIL AND DAMAGING WIND GUSTS.
ADDITIONAL...BUT PERHAPS MORE WIDELY SCATTERED...STRONG/SEVERE STORM
DEVELOPMENT IS PROBABLE NORTH OF ONGOING ACTIVITY...THROUGH THE
REMAINDER OF THE WARM SECTOR TO THE NORTH OF THE OHIO RIVER...WHICH
SHOULD GRADUALLY SHRINK FROM WEST TO EAST...TOWARD THE
APPALACHIANS...AS THE SURFACE CYCLONE CONTINUES TO OCCLUDE. LATE
THIS AFTERNOON INTO THE EVENING HOURS...PRE-FRONTAL FORCING FOR
UPWARD VERTICAL MOTION WILL GRADUALLY SHIFT EAST OF THE
CENTRAL/SOUTHERN APPALACHIANS...WHERE DESTABILIZATION ALONG A
RETREATING WARM FRONT AND LEE SURFACE TROUGH MAY BECOME SUFFICIENT
FOR NEW STRONG/SEVERE STORM ACTIVITY. AT THE SAME
TIME...STRONG/SEVERE STORMS PROBABLY WILL CONTINUE AHEAD OF THE
SOUTHWARD SHIFTING FRONT INTO THE NORTHERN GULF STATES...BEFORE
DESTABILIZATION AND LARGE-SCALE ASCENT DIMINISH LATER TONIGHT.
HUNTSVILLE, Texas — (DMN) – The leader of the fugitive “Texas 7″ gang was headed to the death chamber Wednesday for killing a suburban Dallas police officer during a robbery 11 years ago after organizing and pulling off Texas’ biggest prison break. George Rivas, 41, from El Paso, was set for lethal injection for gunning down Aubrey Hawkins, a 29-year-old Irving police officer who interrupted the gang’s holdup of a sporting goods store on Christmas Eve 11 years ago. The seven escapees had fled a South Texas prison about two weeks earlier.
They were caught in Colorado about a month after the officer’s death. One committed suicide rather than be arrested. Rivas and five others with lengthy sentences who bolted with him were returned to Texas where they separately were convicted of capital murder and sentenced to die. Rivas would be the second of the group executed. The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles this week voted 7-0, rejecting a clemency petition for Rivas. No eleventh hour appeals were made to try to head off the execution, the second this year in the nation’s most active death penalty state. “It’s fair to say they’re exhausted,” attorney Mick Mickelson, who last met with Rivas a few weeks ago, said Tuesday. “He seemed ready for it.”
Rivas and accomplices he hand-picked for the escape broke out of the Texas Prison Connally Unit, about an hour south of San Antonio, on Dec. 13, 2000. They overpowered workers, stole their clothes, broke into the prison armory for weapons and drove off in a prison truck. They left behind an ominous note: “You haven’t heard the last of us yet.” While out of prison, they supported themselves by committing robberies. Hawkins was shot 11 times and run over with a stolen SUV as they held up a sporting goods store closing on the holiday eve and drove off with loot that included $70,000 in cash, 44 firearms and ammunition for the guns. A month later, they were arrested in Colorado, ending a six-week nationwide manhunt. One of the fugitives, Larry Harper, committed suicide as officers closed in.
In 2008, accomplice Michael Rodriguez, 45, who at the time of the breakout had a life term for arranging the slaying of his wife, ordered his appeals dropped and was executed. The four others remain on death row awaiting the outcome of court appeals. Toby Shook, the former Dallas County assistant district attorney who prosecuted all six surviving defendants for Hawkins’ death, called Rivas a manipulator with superficial charm. “Just a pure psychopath,” Shook said. “He had no fear of committing crime… He’s not a very good criminal. He always got caught.”
Rivas planned the escape while serving 17 life sentences for aggravated kidnapping and aggravated robbery and another life sentence for burglary. Prosecutors said his record began at age 11 when he molested a 6-year-old relative. Wayne Huff, one of his trial lawyers, said Rivas picked accomplices for the breakout “who probably were more dangerous than he was” and failed to consider they might get caught doing robberies. “When that cop pulled up, no one knew what to do,” Huff said, calling the officer’s slaying “just a tragic situation.” “The evidence was pretty overwhelming,” he said. “We had no doubt at all that he’d be found guilty.”
Shook said the officer’s widow, who was in the death chamber to Rodriguez’s lethal injection nearly four years ago, would not attend Rivas’ punishment and asked him to represent her on Wednesday evening. “Rivas has worked hard for this particular day,” Shook said. “He justly deserves everything he’s going to get. He’s not a very good criminal. He always got caught.” Rivas was among three escapees arrested at a convenience store near a trailer park in Woodland Park, Colo. Two were in a motor home at the trailer park, where Harper shot himself to death. Two were apprehended at a motel in Colorado Springs, Colo. The men had told the people who ran the RV park they were Christian missionaries from Texas but a neighbor recognized them as the case was profiled on the TV show “America’s Most Wanted” and called police.
The four former fugitives still awaiting execution are Patrick Murphy Jr. 49; Joseph Garcia, 40; Randy Halprin, 34; and Donald Newbury, 49. Newbury was set for injection in early February but was spared, at least temporarily, by a U.S. Supreme Court order. Another execution is scheduled for next week in Texas. Keith Thurmond, 52, faces death on March 7 for killing his estranged wife and her boyfriend at their home near Houston more than 10 years ago.
The Houston Chronicle contributed to this report.
TITAN Storm Tracker shows severe weather in Kentucky this midday.
ELIZABETHTOWN, Kentucky — (DMN) – A powerful storm system that produced multiple reports of tornadoes lashed the Midwest early Wednesday, roughing up the country music resort city of Branson and laying waste to small towns in Illinois and Kansas. At least 9 people were killed. An apparent twister rolled through Branson just before 1 a.m. and seemed to hopscotch up the city’s main roadway, ripping roofs off hotels and damaging some of the city’s famed music theaters dangerously close to the start of the heavy tourism season. More than 30 people were reported hurt, mostly with cuts and bruises.
“If it was a week later, it’d be a different story,” said Bill Tirone, assistant general manager for the 530-room Hiltons of Branson and the Branson Convention Center, where windows were shattered and some rooms had furniture sucked away by high winds. Hotel workers were able to get all guests to safety as the storm raged. John Moore, owner of the damaged Cakes-n-Creams `50s Diner, said the tornado seemed to target the city’s main strip, moving down the entertainment district, right through the convention center, across a lake and into a housing division. He said the tornado appeared to “jump side to side.” “The theater next to me kind of exploded. It went everywhere. The hotels on the two sides of me lost their roofs. Power lines are down. Windows are blown out,” Moore said. “There’s major, major destruction. There has to be millions dollars of damage all down the strip.”
At least six people were killed in the southern Illinois town of Harrisburg after a storm leveled much of the community of 9,000 people. KFVS-TV is reporting that at least two of the Harrisburg victims are children. KFVS’ Arnold Wyrick, reporting from the scene of destruction in Harrisburg, said there are flipped 18-wheelers, downed power lines and debris in trees. “There are no distinguishable signs of where roads used to be,” he said. In Missouri, one person was killed in a trailer park in the town of Buffalo, and at least three people were critically injured in the small eastern Kansas town of Harveyville.
The tornadoes were spawned by a powerful storm system that blew down from the Rockies on Tuesday and was headed across the Ohio and Tennessee river valleys toward the Mid-Atlantic region. Corey Mead, lead forecaster at the U.S. Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., said a broad cold front was slamming into warm, humid air over much of the eastern half of the nation. From Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, at least 16 tornado sightings were reported from Nebraska and Kansas across southern Missouri to Illinois and Kentucky, according to the storm center, an arm of the National Weather Service. Jennifer Verhaalen, a long-term resident at the Hillbilly Inn Motel in downtown Branson, said she saw a white funnel cloud followed by a wall of rain as the storm closed in on the town around 1 a.m. She said she retreated to a back bedroom with her husband as the storm slammed into two other hotel buildings tearing the roof off one.
Across the road, a strip mall lay in tatters, its roof missing and several walls collapsed. As the sun rose Wednesday, business owners picked through the remains of their stores. Keith and Glenna Bartley, tourists from Kingsport, Tenn., said staff at the Grand Victorian Hotel where they were staying ushered them to the basement around 1:30 a.m. Branson has long been a tourist destination for visitors attracted to the beauty of the surrounding Ozarks. But the city rose to prominence in the 1990s because of its theater district, which drew country music stars and other music celebrities including the Osmond twins and Andy Williams. It is about 110 miles southeast of Joplin, which was devastated by a monstrous twister last May that killed 161 people.
Farther north, rescue crews waited for sunrise to begin searching a trailer park south of Buffalo where at least one person was killed after an apparent twister slammed the area. Lt. Dana Eagan of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office said 13 people at the park were hurt and the entire town was without power. Buffalo is about 35 miles north of Springfield. Tornado season normally starts in March, but it isn’t unusual to see severe storms earlier in the year. Forecasters can seldom assess how serious a season will be because twisters are so unpredictable. This year, two people were killed by separate tornadoes in Alabama in January, and preliminary reports have showed 95 tornadoes struck that month.
In neighboring Kansas, the National Weather Service reported brief tornado touchdowns southwest of Hutchinson, and Gov. Sam Brownback declared a state of emergency after an apparent tornado struck Harveyville. The declaration covered Wabaunsee County, southwest of Topeka. The governor’s office said one person was critically injured, several homes and a church were damaged and trees and power lines were down. The system also skirted northern Arkansas, bringing gusts of up to 60 mph in the northwest. A wall cloud, which often produces twisters, was reported in Cherokee Village, where trees were scattered along roads, the weather service said. Residents of Clay County in northeastern Arkansas reported hail the size of golf balls, while half dollar-sized hail was reported in Mountain Home.
In northern Oklahoma, gusts of up to 80 mph flipped trailers and damaged homes near Cherokee. Tornado warnings and watches were posted for most of Kentucky and a large portion of Kentucky.
The United States said Wednesday North Korea has agreed to suspend nuclear activities and accept a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests, in a breakthrough in negotiations with the secretive communist nation. The announcement comes little more than two months after the death of longtime ruler Kim Jong Il, and suggests North Korea has met the key U.S. preconditions for restarting multi-nation disarmament-for-aid talks that the North withdrew from in 2009. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the North has agreed to allow International Atomic Energy inspectors to verify and monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment and confirm disablement of its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. Her statement says the U.S. will meet with North Korea to finalize details for a proposed package of 240,000 metric tons of food aid.
North Korea issued a similar, although differently worded statement released simultaneously in Pyongyang. An unidentified spokesman from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in its statement carried by the state-run news agency that the North agreed to the nuclear moratoriums and the allowance of U.N. inspectors “with a view to maintaining positive atmosphere” for the U.S.-North Korea talks. The development was met with varying levels of optimism. The International Atomic Energy Agency said it was an “important step forward” and said it was ready to return nuclear inspectors to North Korea if requested. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called North Korea’s decision a “modest step” in the right direction during testimony to a House Appropriations panel shortly after the State Department announcement.
The announcement follows talks in Beijing last week between U.S. and North Korean negotiators, the first since negotiations were suspended after Kim’s death in December from a heart attack. Before his death, the U.S. and North Korea were close to such an agreement, which appears to meets U.S. preconditions for restarting the six-nation talks suspended three years ago. “The United States still has profound concerns regarding North Korean behavior across a wide range of areas, but today’s announcement reflects important, if limited, progress in addressing some of these,” Nuland said. She said the United States reaffirms that it does not have hostile intent toward North Korea and “is prepared to take steps to improve our bilateral relationship in the spirit of mutual respect for sovereignty and equality.”
The North Korean (DRPK/KCNA) News Service carried this: The spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on Wednesday gave the following answer as regards questions raised by KCNA concerning the result of the latest DPRK-U.S. high-level talks: Delegations of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States of America (U.S.) met in Beijing, China on 23rd and 24th of February for the third round of the high-level talks between the DPRK and the U.S. Present at the talks were the delegation of the DPRK headed by Kim Kye Gwan, the First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the delegation of the U.S. headed by Glyn Davies, the Special Representative of the State Department for the DPRK Policy.
The talks, continuation of the two previous DPRK-U.S. high-level talks held respectively in July and October, 2011, offered a venue for sincere and in-depth discussion of issues concerning the measures aimed at building confidence for the improvement of relations between the DPRK and the U.S. as well as issues related with ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and resumption of the six-party talks. Both the DPRK and the U.S. reaffirmed their commitments to the September 19 Joint Statement and recognized that the 1953 Armistice Agreement is the cornerstone of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula until the conclusion of a peace treaty. Both the DPRK and the U.S. agreed to make a number of simultaneous moves aimed at building confidence as part of the efforts to improve the relations between the DPRK and the U.S.
The U.S. reaffirmed that it no longer has hostile intent toward the DPRK and that it is prepared to take steps to improve the bilateral relations in the spirit of mutual respect for sovereignty and equality. The U.S. also agreed to take steps to increase people-to-people exchanges, including in the areas of culture, education, and sports. The U.S. promised to offer 240,000 metric tons of nutritional assistance with the prospect of additional food assistance, for which both the DPRK and the U.S. would finalize the administrative details in the immediate future. The U.S. made it clear that sanctions against the DPRK are not targeting the civilian sector, including the livelihood of people.
Once the Six-Party Talks are resumed, priority will be given to the discussion of issues concerning the lifting of sanctions on the DPRK and provision of light water reactors. Both the DPRK and the U.S. affirmed that it is in mutual interest to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, improve the relations between the DPRK and the U.S., and push ahead with the denuclearization through dialogue and negotiations. Both sides agreed to continue the talks. The DPRK, upon request by the U.S. and with a view to maintaining positive atmosphere for the DPRK-U.S. high-level talks, agreed to a moratorium on nuclear tests, long-range missile launches, and uranium enrichment activity at Yongbyon and allow the IAEA to monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment while productive dialogues continue.”
Houston, Texas this morning.