North Korea Destroys Nuclear Reactor Tower
BILL WOLFF: From NPR News in New York. This is the Bryant Park Project.
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MIKE PESCA, host:
Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, live from NPR Studios, this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. News, information, last dance.
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PESCA: Thank you, Donna. I'm Mike Pesca.
RACHEL MARTIN, host:
And I'm Rachel Martin. It's June 27th 2008. Some famous last dances to commemorate today. Bill Gates founder of Microsoft, his last day on the job today.
PESCA: He did a hilarious video commemorating that occasion.
MARTIN: It was so funny.
PESCA: How do you think he was able to get all those stars like Bono, McConaughey and George Clooney?
MARTIN: Bill runs in those circles?
MARTIN: Yeah, I think so.
PESCA: Why would they be friends with Bill Gates? Is it the fact that he's the richest guy ever?
MARTIN: It might be.
PESCA: (Unintelligible) friends. Bono was great.
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PESCA: Funny video.
MARTIN: I don't know friends that important. Well, you, you're important.
PESCA: Yeah, I'd wear those kind of glasses.
MARTIN: Tony Blair, prime minister - former prime minster of the United Kingdom last day, a year ago today, June, 27th, 2007.
PESCA: But of course, the reason that we're obsessing on the last dance is, of course, that it is the final day of campaigning in the Victoria state of Kororoit. Tomorrow is the big bi-election. Les Twentyman is running. You may remember Les Twentyman. Les Twentyman not worried by strip-club antics, 13 years ago, arrested for poll dancing in California. So that is really what the big last dance...
MARTIN: No, it's not!
PESCA: That we're talking about. Oh, yeah, and our li'l Rachel is all grown up and she's going away.
MARTIN: My last dance on the Bryant Park Project today, folks.
PESCA: This is Rachel Martin's last show here.
MARTIN: I know, it's sad.
PESCA: So, you know what we're going to do to commemorate?
PESCA: We're going to do, like, The Ramble and The Most, talk some news, and you know, everything we normally do.
MARTIN: OK. I think that sounds appropriate.
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MARTIN: I might cry.
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PESCA: Coming up, People Magazine does their hundred-most-beautiful-people issue, which is great, but have you seen Foreign Policy Magazine's top 20 public intellectuals? Hot, hot, hot! Turkish readers really got excited about this, and they voted in one of their own. We'll hear about the issues surrounding the issues, and who takes issue with that.
MARTIN: Mm-hm. And kill switches. OnStar will soon allow police to shut off your engine remotely. The Pentagon wants kill switches in airplanes in case they get hijacked. Matt Martinez wants a kill switch for The Most sometimes. But what might this new trend in technology mean?
PESCA: Could we - do we have a kill switch for you leaving this show? Could we kill that idea?
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PESCA: Public intellectual and Turk, Rachel Martin.
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PESCA: Also the U.S. picks its Olympic track & field team this weekend at the Oregon track, where fabled American Steve Prefontaine's legend began. Of course, Rachel Martin's leaving is like a javelin to the heart. To paraphrase Pre, there's going to be some guts races. There - ugh. You know, you just - I couldn't understand what he said. He had a big moustache. Anyway, he was great and we're going to talk to Amby Burfoot about track & field. We will get today's headlines in a just minute, but first...
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MARTIN: In an explosion meant to be heard around the world, North Korea has blown up the cooling tower at its main nuclear reactor site.
PESCA: It happened around four a.m. eastern time in front of international television cameras. The destruction of the tower was more symbol than substance. It's not the most important piece of equipment at the nuclear site in Yongbyon, but it makes the biggest boom and looks the coolest going down.
MARTIN: Charles Pritchard, who worked on North Korean issues in the Bush and Clinton administrations, tells NPR that North Korean nuclear facilities were already disabled as a result of earlier talks. He describes the public demolition like this.
(Soundbite of NPR's All Things Considered, June 26, 2008)
Ambassador CHARLES L. PRITCHARD (Special Envoy to North Korea, George W. Bush Administration): A visible sign from North Koreans designed primarily for an American audience that says, we are committed to this process, look favorably upon us.
PESCA: The demolition comes a day after North Korea delivered a declaration of the extent of its nuclear programs to China, a leading member of the international group that was negotiating with North Korea over its nuclear program.
MARTIN: Now, those nations, including the U.S., will try to verify the information, which reportedly includes how much plutonium the Yongbyon facility produced. But doesn't say how many weapons North Korea may have or whether they sent them to anyone else, like, say, Syria. Experts believe North Korea has enough radioactive material to build six to 10 bombs.
PESCA: So, we know what North Korea gives up, but what does it get? How about getting its name off the Axis of Evil list? President Bush yesterday said he'd ordered the State Department to remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism within 45 days.
MARTIN: And the president also promised to lift trade sanctions against North Korea, but he warned the changes will only last if North Korea keeps its end of the bargain.
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President GEORGE W BUSH: The next 45 days will be an important period for North Korea, to show its seriousness of its cooperation. We will work through the six-party talks to develop a comprehensive and rigorous verification protocol, and during this period, the United States will carefully observe North Korea's actions and act accordingly.
PESCA: You can go to npr.org throughout the day for updates on this story. Now let's get some more of today's headlines with the BPP's returning champion, Mark Garrison.