"I actually have a pretty good collection of Arms Control Today, which I have read throughout my career. It's one of the few really serious publications on arms control issues."
– Gary Samore
Former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and WMD Terrorism
Nuclear Nonproliferation

Slow Moving Diplomacy in South Asia Makes Headway

Rose Gordon

After more than a year and a half of silence, peppered by occasional threats and accusations, India and Pakistan are considering a range of options in order to re-establish ties that have been severely strained since the December 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament. These include assigning an ambassador to each other’s capital; resuming civil air, rail, and road links; hosting bilateral sporting events or other people-to-people exchanges; and making a serious effort to address the decades-old dispute over Kashmir.

The first hint of the possibility for improved relations between the two countries came from a speech by Indian Prime Minister Atal Vajpayee while he was visiting the Indian-held portion of the Kashmir region April 18-19. Vajpayee spoke of “extending the hand of friendship” to Pakistan and of the possibility for new talks between the two countries. At a press conference before returning to New Delhi, however, he indicated that India has its own conditions, saying, “Let us see how Pakistan responds to this” and indicating that talks would depend on whether there is a decrease in the number of anti-India militants crossing from Pakistan into India’s portion of Kashmir.

Pakistan responded in a press briefing several days later, saying that it welcomed Vajpayee’s initiative and hoped that negotiations would begin immediately.

Diplomatic efforts were further bolstered by an April 28 telephone call from Pakistani Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali to Vajpayee. According to statements by both leaders, the conversation focused on new peace possibilities between India and Pakistan. Following the telephone conversation, Pakistan released a number of Indian prisoners and suggested the resumption of bus services between Pakistan and India. India responded to these gestures by releasing Pakistani prisoners and approving a Delhi-Lahore bus service simultaneously May 26.

Despite these steps, concrete progress has so far been limited. India appointed Shivshankar Menon May 13 to be the next high commissioner to Islamabad, and Pakistan followed up by naming Aziz Ahmed Khan as its commissioner two weeks later. But it is uncertain when either will take his position. Furthermore, although both India and Pakistan have agreed to resume aviation ties, flights have yet to begin.

Leaders and diplomats in both countries have said that this new peace initiative will be a slow, step-by-step process.

The efforts at resuming dialogue have been strongly backed by the United States, which views its relationship with the two countries as strategically significant. President George W. Bush plans to receive Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf June 24 at Camp David to discuss ways to “further deepen and broaden the bilateral ties between the United States and Pakistan,” White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said May 20. Vice President Dick Cheney is also expected to meet with India’s Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani this June in Washington.

During a May visit to South Asia, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said he is “cautiously optimistic” that recent events could lead to substantial improvements in Indian-Pakistani relations. Armitage met with Vajpayee and Jamali, as well as Musharraf, during a previously scheduled trip to the region May 5 to May 11.

U.S. Policy in the Region

“[I]t has become very clear that the most vital interests of the United States are affected by events in South Asia,” Christina Rocca, assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, testified to the House International Relations Committee in March. “The continuing success of our alliance against terror and other initiatives in South Asia depends on productive and effective long-term relationships with each of the countries in the region, combined with economic growth, stability, and the strengthening of democratic institutions,” she added.

Since September 11, 2001, Pakistan has become an increasingly important U.S. ally, including arresting some al Qaeda members within its borders. In exchange for Pakistan’s help in the war on terror, the United States has increased economic assistance to Pakistan in the education and health sectors, as well as in law enforcement and military aid. As recently as May 20, Fleischer called Pakistan a “stalwart ally in the war on terror.”

Meanwhile, the military relationship between India and Pakistan has been growing. For example, Washington recently informed New Delhi that the United States no longer objects to Israel and India going ahead with a deal for an advanced airborne early warning system called the Phalcon. The United States, which convinced Israel to abandon a similar sale to China in July 2000, had tacitly approved the Israeli sale of the Phalcon to India more than a year ago, but Washington had urged Israel to postpone the sale because of heightened tensions in South Asia at that time. Delivery of the Phalcon to India will likely take place about two years after a deal is finalized.

U.S. and Indian officials are also expected to meet in July to discuss the possibility of boosting high technology trade, including some dual-use goods that have civilian and military applications, as part of an agreement signed in February by U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce Kenneth Juster and Indian Foreign Secretary Kanwal Sibal.

The Kashmir Dilemma

Many U.S. and South Asian analysts say India and Pakistan must resolve their dispute over Kashmir in order to achieve true stability in South Asia. The two countries agree that the issue is important, but they propose different avenues for solving it. India believes the issue of Kashmir is up to India and Pakistan alone to resolve. The United States might help facilitate the peace process, but real progress will have to be made on outstanding issues between Pakistan and India, an Indian diplomat in Washington said during a May 16 interview.

Pakistan, however, has expressed an interest in having a third party intervene. Foreign Minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri said he hopes the United States “remains engaged in South Asia” during a May 15 speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., adding that “sometimes we need friends” to get a conversation started.

It is unclear exactly what role the United States is willing to play. Armitage was reluctant to take a position on Kashmir or to offer the United States as a mediator. “We’ve often said that this is a problem to be solved between the two parties and a dialogue between the two parties…If we can be helpful in sort of setting the atmosphere surrounding that, then we’re delighted to do so,” Armitage told Pakistani media during his May visit.

The issues of Kashmir and terrorism have proved to be more than just minor hurdles in the latest round of peace initiatives. India asserts that attacks on Indian targets by militants crossing the border from within Pakistan must stop before high-level talks can take place. Pakistan denies that it offers anything more than moral support to the militants.

Meanwhile, India continued to test its ballistic missile arsenal. India’s Ministry of Defense annouced a successful launch of the Prithvi II on April 29 and the first test of the Astra on May 9. The Hindu also reported tests of the Astra on May 11 and the Akash on May 29. Pakistan did not respond with its own tests. Such tests have stirred animosity and reciprocal testing in the past, but the two countries seem to have scaled back the usual hostile responses in the wake of the diplomatic movement. “The mood on both sides is not as bad as two months ago,” the Indian diplomat said.


After more than a year and a half of silence, peppered by occasional threats and accusations, India and Pakistan are considering a range of options in order to re-establish... 

The North Korean Crisis: What's Next?



Robert Gallucci, Georgetown University
Lawrence Scheinman, Center for Nonproliferation Studies
David Albright, Institute for Science and International Security

Moderator: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association

Questions and Answers

At the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,
Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, May 7, 2003


Kimball: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to this morning's press conference of the Arms Control Association on the North Korean nuclear crisis. We are going to discuss what comes next. The Arms Control Association is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization devoted to supporting effective arms control, and educating the public and policymakers about arms control strategies to deal with weapons of mass destruction. We have organized this briefing this morning because this long-simmering crisis is now getting too close to the boiling point. Clearly the crisis is a problem for the international community, but the United States has a central role in solving the issue in a peaceful fashion. And many of us believe it's past time for the United States to put together a more effective diplomatic approach to verifiably dismantle North Korea's nuclear capabilities as well as its missile programs.

We are seeking here at the Arms Control Association to offer a range of views on this subject. And I would just like to point out that in our May issue of our journal of Arms Control Today, we have five articles providing different perspectives, a wide range of perspectives, including analysis on Chinese, South Korean, and Japanese perspectives. And there are preprinted copies outside, and it's also available on our website, www.armscontrol.org.

Before we introduce our panelists, I wanted to make a couple of brief points on the situation. First of all, it should be obvious to everyone that we believe that the North Korean government is clearly responsible for its own provocative and dangerous actions. But it should also be obvious that by now the administration's "axis of evil" approach has not produced the right kinds of results. Since the administration has come into office, we have seen a deterioration of this situation with regard to North Korea.

Second, as the United States and its allies consider next steps, they must be careful not to make statements or pursue actions at this stage that cause further harm, such as threatening economic sanctions or openly discussing military options. That could worsen the situation, undermining the prospects for a peaceful resolution.

Third, while the resumption of talks last month in Beijing was positive, this cannot be and should not be the end. This was just the second direct meeting between high-level U.S. and North Korean officials since the Bush administration came to office. And each time substantive proposals to resolving the crisis for denuclearizing North Korea have been withheld or overshadowed by dramatic accusations and threats. And as Ambassador Gallucci can tell us, diplomacy still requires a realistic negotiating strategy.

Currently the administration is demanding that Pyongyang dismantle all of its nuclear capabilities before agreeing to substantive negotiations on achieving that very goal. That approach does not seem to me to be very practical or effective.

And then finally as we look toward the visit of the South Korean president next week, I'd just like to point out that a truly multilateral approach, as the administration has said it wants to pursue, means, I think, from time to time that the United States needs to follow the advice of our allies. And while our friends and allies in the region clearly agree with us that a nuclear-armed North Korea is unacceptable, the administration has for the most part spurned the advice and suggestions of our allies, China and South Korea in particular, about how to achieve that result. And it's also important that when President Roh arrives here in Washington next week that we don't see the kind of open disagreement that we saw when President Kim Dae Jung visited Washington in 2001.

So we are pleased this morning to have three distinguished and expert speakers on this topic, to help us dissect the issues, outline the choices that are before the United States and the international community, and to offer their ideas about some solutions to this crisis.

First, we are very honored to have Ambassador Bob Gallucci here with us. He is the dean of the Georgetown University's Edmund Walsh School of Foreign Service. He is going to speak on the prospects and difficulties of negotiating with North Korea, based on his firsthand experience from the 1993-94 crisis. Those talks eventually led to the [1994] Agreed Framework. We also have with us Dr. Larry Scheinman, who is with the Monterey Center for Non-Proliferation Studies, and former assistant director for non-proliferation and regional arms control at the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He will address how this crisis affects regional security, and he will describe the perspectives of North Korea's neighbors on how this crisis should be resolved.

And finally we'll hear from David Albright, who is president of the Institute for Science and International Security. He's an author of numerous books and articles on North Korea's nuclear program. David will speak on the subject of the mechanisms and methods that would be necessary to verify with confidence that North Korea has dismantled its nuclear programs.

We will hear from each of them and then we'll take your questions. Bob, we'll start with you. Thanks for being here. The floor is yours.

Gallucci: Thanks very much, Daryl. Good morning, everyone. It's almost irresistible, therefore I won't resist saying that when we look at the North Korea case it is deja vu all over again. Ten years ago-I mean, literally a decade ago this month-we were in a process that looks spookily like this one. North Korea is caught cheating on a safeguards agreement, apparently cheating on a safeguards agreement. The IAEA reported the matter to the Security Council of the United Nations. The North Koreans pull out of the NPT at the threat of sanctions and inspectors are thrown out of North Korea.

Ten years later the North Koreans get caught cheating again. The first time it was on their safeguards agreement negotiated with the IAEA, pursuant to their obligations under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). This time you could argue it's the same agreement, but you could also add the Agreed Framework that was negotiated to deal with the problem last time. Again, inspectors are thrown out. Again, IAEA reports the matter to the Security Council of the United Nations. Again sanctions are discussed. Again, North Korea pulls out of the NPT.

Now, of course last time they didn't actually pull out. They announced their intention, and then withdrew their intention. This time having announced their intention before, they said they didn't have to wait the three months' time. But the overall context, the structure of the crisis, looks remarkably similar to what we went through 10 years ago. But of course 10 years ago that led the United States into what was essentially 16 months of on-again/off-again, mostly off-again initially, negotiations with the North Koreans that resulted in the Agreed Framework.

That framework agreement was not perfect, but it did stop the program we were concerned about a decade ago, a program aimed at the production of plutonium. There are lots of estimates of how much plutonium North Korea would have had the framework not been negotiated. But I would say it is not unreasonable to estimate that North Korea would now have a hundred or so nuclear weapons had that program been allowed to proceed apace. We knew at the time that the framework was not perfect; there were areas in which we did not have the capacity to monitor or verify North Korean compliance. We said it at the time. We'd have to rely on national technical means. And, as it turned out, those national technical means caught the North Koreans cheating. But the world is a better place because the Agreed Framework was negotiated, and those 100 nuclear weapons were not manufactured.

That was then, and this is now. This administration has been, I think it's fair to say, less enthusiastic about engaging the North Koreans in negotiations. That may be an understatement, but I think that is at least accurate.

There are other things that are different now from the situation a decade ago. North Korea has announced that it has nuclear weapons. It did not say that 10 years ago. I don't know that that's a new situation on the ground. In fact, I would submit to you it is not a new situation on the ground. If North Korea does have nuclear weapons now and they are telling the truth, it is likely in fact-as they say in the intelligence community, more likely than not-that North Korea has one or two nuclear weapons. That's a judgment that's a decade old. So they are the same one or two and maybe three or four, but in that range, nuclear weapons would have been built in the early '90s, or would have been built from plutonium separated around 1990-1991. So that's nothing new. But the declaration by the North Koreans that they have the weapons is new.

It is also true that they, the North Koreans, may have begun reprocessing. Again, I don't know that we know they have begun reprocessing any of the 8,000 [spent fuel] rods, but we have heard from the North Koreans that they have. We have also heard that they haven't, but they may. We have various indications, we are told in the press, that they might be doing something. I would say we don't know whether that situation is changed and whether they've separated more plutonium. We don't know for sure. But it's possible. Certainly they do have a secret uranium enrichment program, which is what we caught them at. They did not have that in 1994. We don't think that program has produced any enriched uranium as yet, as best I can tell from reports.

It is also true, I think, fair to say, that North Korea's ballistic missile program, wherever it was a decade ago, it's further along now. Not only in the Nodongs being deployed, but in the development of the Taepo Dong series I, II, and III-that is to say a greater capability for North Korea to reach the United States, whatever that precise capability may be at the moment.

Politically the situation is greatly changed with respect to our ally in Seoul. South Koreans a decade ago, I think it is fair to say, would have supported the United States and worked with us if we needed to move down the road to pressure the North Koreans with the use of force. They would not have been enthusiastic about the use of force, I am sure. But I think there was less reluctance to embrace that as an option than we see now. I think it is also fair to say that the popular perception in South Korea is that there is indeed a threat from the North, but there is also in a sense a threat from Washington, coming from the way Washington has dealt with the North Korean threat.

Finally, it seems to me one of the most critical differences is the North Koreans have given explicit substance to the fear that we have had that North Korea might some day transfer fissile material or nuclear weapons. They included that in a series of comments they made, undoubtedly intended to raise the stakes and get the attention of the United States and the international community. But that at least from my perspective is a qualitatively different kind of threat to the United States and the international community. The idea that the North Koreans would transfer fissile material and nuclear weapons to the highest bidder creates a prospect of a threat which the United States would have great difficulty defending against or deterring if that transfer would be to a terrorist group, such as al Qaeda. So I would like to put a line under that possibility as a new element with the North Koreans pointing to it.

The question always comes after one reviews where we are of what we ought to do next, and I do want to say something about that. One can desegregate these options any number of ways. I'll do it the following way. One of the first options one thinks of now, as we did then, was the possibility of United Nations sanctions. Sanctions are almost always appealing, because they are doing something, but they are usually not thought to be quite as provocative as actual military action. So one gets to do something with a slightly or significantly less risk than the use of military force. One gets to do it multilaterally if one is successful at the United Nations. And one usually feels good when one is doing something like that. The problem with sanctions is that I think now, as then, we could not have confidence that they would indeed end up solving the problem. If the problem is a nuclear weapons program in North Korea, sanctions would have to bring the North Koreans to their knees, and I don't know anyone in 1994 who thought they would produce that outcome, and I wonder if many think they would now, particularly if China did not fully support sanctions. And there is reason to believe they would not. The Chinese would wish to avoid a collapse, an implosion of North Korea, which would cause enormous difficulties for China in a variety of different ways. So I question whether sanctions would be effective.

I think a variation on sanctions, which you can find in today's Washington Post, which is a strategy of encirclement and cutting off the North Koreans from the money they gain from selling drugs and through counterfeit activity is one that you could not argue with. Those are things that they should not be allowed to do, and if we could stop them from doing them, I think, that would be a good idea. But it is an enormous leap to go from that good idea to that being the strategy to deal with the North Korean nuclear weapons program. And I don't understand exactly how that leap could be made.

A second option is the military option. The military option usually comes in two varieties. One is the airstrike, sometimes called the surgical airstrike, intended, in a sense, to do a nuclear- weapons-program-ectomy from North Korea by picking out those facilities and striking them. There are a couple of problems with this. The first is of course now that there is an [uranium] enrichment program, and I don't know that we know where that enrichment program is. A second problem is of course that it would have to be a significant airstrike and one could not be confident that it would not result in a large-scale North Korean reaction. There is no question that the known buildings associated with the plutonium program could be targeted. Secretary [of Defense William] Perry testified as much in 1995.

The second variation of the military option is regime change, and I do believe that some in this administration find that the only plausible long-term solution to the North Korean problem. I would suggest that once again we confront the prospect of a war on the Korean Peninsula. Such a war would not be the Gulf War again. Such a war would be the Korean War again, and that would be one that would involve, by anybody's estimates, enormous casualties-not tens of thousands, but more likely hundreds of thousands or even possibly more. Many of those would be Americans. Many of them would be South Koreans, and of course North Koreans as well. So this is not an option that one would elect quickly because of the loss of human life, but also because the South Korean government and people are unlikely to be brought to a point of being able to support such an action. One would have to contemplate the fracturing of the alliance.

It is however, the military option, always an option. The assertion that it is going to be taken off the table I find to be nonplausible. Even when we wish to take it off the table, it is always on the table. We have the capacity to project force in a unique way in the international community, and everybody knows that. That can be a useful thing in negotiations, I thought, in 1993 and 1994, and it can be useful again. It doesn't mean we have to talk about it. It is just there.

A third option is what you might call the "free lunch option"-very attractive. There are two varieties of the free lunch option. One is let China do it. And there's great enthusiasm of late for this option. I like it myself, if it were to work. The idea is that China would be stimulated out of a fear of the implications of the North Korean threat-the North Korean threat either leading to an American military response and the Chinese finding America on its doorstep with that enormous military capacity we have or, even worse, the North Korean threat leading the Japanese to reassess their non-nuclear weapons status and thus threatening the Chinese. Either one of these leading the Chinese to decide they must take a much more active role in pressuring Pyongyang. That's one version of the free lunch where we don't have to do anything, but we get the outcome we want anyway.

Another version would have the North Koreans respond with shock and awe at our success in Iraq, as the president I think suggested when the Beijing meeting was being scheduled, that the North Koreans had learned something from our victory over the Iraqis. And that also is appealing, because it allows us without firing a shot to take advantage of our capacity to project force and, in a sense, to intimidate the North Koreans into doing what they ought to do and abide by agreements, and caving to the pressure that comes from the threat of the use of American military force. That is also appealing.

I don't find either of these options to be options we could depend upon. Moreover, they will take a long time to test. I see instead the risk of a slow-motion failure. If we wait for the Chinese or wait for the North Koreans ultimately to be intimidated into the concessions we require, I worry that we don't have the time to wait for the free lunch options to work out. Time is not on our side. We see reports daily about how the situation in North Korea may be deteriorating further and their capabilities in the nuclear weapons area increasing. I am concerned.

If one of these options were to work, I would like everyone else, I suspect, embrace it. I'd much rather get the North Koreans to comply without giving them anything. I just don't see this as a strategy we can count upon.

Fourth, there is the contain-and-manage option. This can be combined with sanctions and a free lunch. The contain-and-manage option accepts the North Korean nuclear weapons programs. And we have heard that some in the administration believe this is the way to go, that we draw a red line someplace else, perhaps at transfer. But we accept the North Koreans having nuclear weapons, developing nuclear weapons, mating them to extended-range ballistic missiles, and we seek to contain them with our sanctions, U.N. or otherwise, cutting off the drugs and the counterfeit money, but we just don't let them do anything.

There are a couple of problems with this that make it an unacceptable option to me. The first and most obvious is this is not an outcome that South Korea or Japan can live with over the long term. What I am concerned about, what I think others are concerned about, is if you accept North Korea building a substantial nuclear weapons arsenal mated with ballistic missiles, then ultimately South Korea will find it necessary to move out of the Nonproliferation Treaty. Ultimately, Japan will decide to move out of the Nonproliferation Treaty because North Korea presents too much of a threat to rely upon the deterrent umbrella of the United States. So I see an unraveling of the nonproliferation regime beginning in Northeast Asia-not a happy prospect to contemplate.

Even worse though, even worse, is the idea that the North Korean program would be generating-just the plutonium program-would be generating 150 kilograms of plutonium a year. That estimate is conservative. At 150 kilograms, we are talking roughly about 30 nuclear weapons a year. That's a very large program. Add to that the uranium enrichment program, and add to that a starving North Korea, which we would have decided to starve and encircle, and ask yourself how we would stop North Korea from selling this material. If you would like to draw the red line there, I ask you how will you know when they cross it? How will you know for sure that material is being transferred? You know that the amount of material for, the amount of plutonium for a simple fission device can be the size of a baseball. Is it plausible we would have such trigger? I worry about this more than anything else, that's why I underline the threat or risk of transfer.

Finally, there's the option of negotiating. Unfortunately, there's a view that's been expressed by the administration that we can embrace diplomacy but flatly reject negotiation. I don't frankly understand that. I am told over and again, over and again, we are for diplomacy, but we shan't negotiate. We certainly won't give them anything. I think the North Koreans have told us in more than one way at different times that this program is on the table…for negotiation. They are prepared to give in order to get. I believe we should test that proposition and see whether what we are prepared to give will get us what we want. We should be prepared to test. And I don't think you can test without engagement. You can have a standard of only multilateral talks. You can have a standard of we will only talk after you make all the concessions required for us. But it doesn't seem to me that that is a prudent way to proceed.

Last time we did this we were concerned about negotiating with a gun to our head. We didn't like the idea of the North Koreans having thrown the inspectors out, and perhaps reprocessing their spent fuel. So we told them in that first meeting, the series I had in New York in 1993, that we would continue to negotiate, provided we had inspectors there to assure -- and the phrase was "continuity of safeguards." We couldn't settle a problem of the past, but we had to make sure we didn't create new problems while we were talking. No gun to our heads, we'll keep talking.

In 1994 we raised the bar just slightly, and we said you also couldn't produce plutonium while we are talking. So you couldn't run your 5-megawatt reactor while we are talking. You know, that seems to me a very reasonable proposition now. While we are talking, you have to turn off that 5-megawatt reactor. You have to get inspectors in there. We have to make sure you are not making the situation worse.

But to try to reach out and achieve all our objectives before we start talking to them sounds to me not like negotiation but a recipe for avoiding negotiation.

So, I conclude with the proposition that none of these options are ideal. Either they are not ideal because they sound terrific but they don't work, or they might work but they are painful, such as negotiations. And I am looking for something that works. And so I would suggest we explore the idea of negotiation, have very minimal prior conditions. The kind of conditions we had a decade ago seem to me to be reasonable.

In Q and A we can talk about what an outcome might be like. I 'd be happy to do that. I am sure others would as well. Thank you very much.

Kimball: Thank you, Bob. Larry, we'll turn to you.

Scheinman: Bob is always a hard act to follow. In a sense I'm here pinch-hitting a little bit, so you will have to bear with me on this.

But something Bob said at the very end is something I'd like to begin with. On the deja vu point that he mentioned a couple of times during his presentation, I think there's another aspect to this that he didn't bring out as much as might be, which is an attitude in this administration that whatever [the Clinton administration] did before we don't do it again. Don't repeat what was done in 1994, because in our view it didn't work and, as Bob said, we don't negotiate, even though we carry out diplomacy.

There's another aspect to this, however, and that is, what about more for more? If more for the same is not a very good idea, as something that Bob has already alluded to, but more for more might be a different thing. Enlarging the basket of things to be dealt with and then to go from there to get more out of this from North Korea, and at the same time to provide to the North Koreans some of the things that they seek.

My task here is supposed to be to talk about some of the attitudes and the concerns of the states in the region, namely South Korea, China, and Japan. Let me begin with Japan. I will make a couple of comments. I hope that they'll hold together. We'll have to wait and see.

Japan is not terribly much unlike the United States. Within the administration in Tokyo there are differences on how to proceed with the North Korean case. For example, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Asia-Pacific Bureau, they prefer the talks, while others in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are prepared to do whatever the United States thinks is best. And that may not be further talks; that may be playing hardball.

For the Japanese generally the goals are three in number. First of all, to prevent a military conflict, if it is at all possible. Secondly, to sustain the U.S.-Japan and the South Korean-U.S. alliances. And, thirdly, to prevent the emergence of North Korea as a nuclear-weapon state. If you look at the Japanese agenda it's actually much broader than ours. First of all, as I say, avoid military conflict on the Korean Peninsula if at all possible; secondly to terminate the nuclear weapons program. But beyond the nuclear weapons program there is also the question of the missile program because the missiles that are being produced in North Korea have a direct potential impact on Japan. In other words, getting to the Nodong missile question.

Then there's the big issue, which is not to mention it here, but for the Japanese is very big, which is dealing with the abduction question. And if you look at the way that the Japanese public has kind of weighed the importance of the North Korean nuclear challenge on the one hand and the abduction question on the other, the abduction question gets a lot more attention. One of my responsibilities is chairing the U.S.-Japan Arms Control and Nonproliferation dialogue. We have this dialogue twice a year. We had one in March in Japan. We met with 10 key members of the Diet, and they kept on telling us during the course of this discussion, "Yes, yes, the nuclear question is very, very important. We are going to have to deal with it. But that abduction question, we have to be responsible to our voters. Our voters are concerned about resolving this abduction question, getting answers to all the questions which remain at this point unanswered and that's where we need to put our effort and attention among other things with respect to North Korea."

Then there's been the problem of spy ships, including in Japanese territorial waters; spy ships coming out of North Korea. And then there's been of course, as Bob has mentioned, narcotics trafficking and counterfeiting, which is also on the Japanese agenda. So from the Japanese point of view, there is a whole range of things that need to be taken into consideration, and that's one of the reasons why the Japanese would like to be involved as part of a multilateral dialogue, while at the same time encouraging the United States to of course go ahead and talk face-to-face, to communicate with the North Koreans.

Japan is also concerned about the sustainability and the credibility of the nonproliferation regime. They would hate to see an outcome here that undermined that regime and led them, forced them to think about going in the direction that Bob mentioned of possibly having to find alternative ways of dealing with their own security, other than relying upon a U.S. nuclear deterrent or an effective nonproliferation regime, which has proven to be ineffective, and the like.

They're also concerned to avoid China or Russia having a dominate influence over the entire Korean Peninsula, because the Japanese see this as also potentially running averse to their interests.

There's been a lot of discussion about what happens if? And this has been mentioned as one of Bob's alternatives, you know, maybe the Japanese or the South Koreans go nuclear as an alternative to finding other ways to dealing with their security.

There's a very good article in Arms Control Today by Kamiya. And he makes this comment: "There's talk outside of Japan that in Japan, resurgence of a North Korean weapons program could cause Japan to reconsider the decision to forgo nuclear weapons"-and here I underscore-"but despite such speculation, only a small number of extremists have taken that stance."

And that is consistent with what I have found. There's a lot of discussion about what might have to be done with respect to the existence of a North Korea that is nuclear-armed. The nuclear option is not sitting there on the table as the primary outcome that Japan ought to be thinking about, although it's also the case that it's not entirely off the table. Things can go from bad to worse, and as they roll down the hill, it's altogether possible that the Japanese will give more and more consideration to the possibility of a nuclear alternative.

But what they are thinking about more directly at this point is missile defense: increasing the role of missile defense; looking at consequence management in the event of a CBW attack launched against Japan; looking at ways in which they could increase their deterrent capability without necessarily doing that through a nuclear means. For example, acquiring tomahawk missiles that might be used to strike at Nodong sites that might be the source of missiles being fired against Japan at some point in the future. The [August 1998] Taepo Dong experience has led, of course, to a deepened interest in missile defense in Japan, and they are going to acquire a PAC-3 and probably will be acquiring other capabilities, as well.

These all fall short of the nuclear option or nuclear response on the part of Japan, but it demonstrates that they are concerned about their security. They are concerned about how they are going to be able to respond to the situation that confronts them with respect to North Korea at this time and they are an important player in this process.

Secondly, South Korea. They want to focus on a peaceful resolution through dialogue, through diplomacy, and through persuasion. Their basic principle is that there must be dialogue, meaning that the United States has to step up and engage in negotiation, as well as talking, as Bob said. There's a need to develop trust and reciprocity in this dialogue and there needs to be international cooperation, which includes an element of Korean initiatives, and not just initiatives coming from the outside.

The South Koreans are not focused on regime change in the way that some in the United States may be. They would not countenance the launching of an attack from South Korean territory on North Korean sites. And an attack by the United States that did not have the approval of the Seoul government could put the U.S.-South Korean alliance at risk.

Going beyond this, however, they want to come to a conclusion in which there will be zero tolerance for and zero presence of nuclear weapons in North Korea, that there will be a peaceful resolution, and that South Korea will play an active role in bringing about this conclusion in the final analysis. It has a major stake in a peninsula-wide approach to this problem, bridging the gap between the North and the South. And it will, I believe, resist policies that lead to divisiveness, add to tensions, or that will enlarge the existing gaps that exist on the peninsula.

The third party that's important here, of course, is China. China, as Bob said, has taken on a more active role. Again, there's a very good article by Bates Gill and [Andrew Thompson] in Arms Control Today, which points out that China has taken a more comprehensive and strategic approach, given the fact that North Korea is right next door and that what happens on that peninsula can have some very unpleasant consequences for the Chinese that they would like to avoid. They don't want to have a violent situation on the peninsula that would result in a massive flow of refugees across the border into China, as they have had in the past.

Their basic positions are:

Peace and stability on the peninsula should be preserved.

The peninsula should remain nuclear-free. The Chinese are dedicated achieving the outcome of denuclearization of the peninsula.

And that the dispute that now exists should be settled through diplomacy and through a political approach.

China took the initiative to join the IAEA board of governors' resolution, which sent the North Korea case to the Security Council. But once it got to the Security Council-this has to do with the violation of the safeguards and NPT obligations of North Korea-the Chinese ended up saying, "Well, we're not going to go for a sanctions approach to this," because that would lead to unanticipated consequences that hopefully could be avoided.

From the Chinese point of view, a nuclear North Korea is bad news for at least three reasons. First of all, there's a potential for it leading to a totally nuclearized Northeast Asia in the longer run. In other words, North Korea, then eventually South Korea, and eventually Japan, and that can't possibly serve China's core security interests in the region.

Secondly, that ballistic missile testing and development by the North Koreans could also cause instability and lead the United States to step up theater missile defense, as well as lead Japan to take more steps in this direction, which also could become a concern for China and have some impact on the Chinese [military] modernization program insofar as their own weapons capabilities and security are concerned.

And thirdly, a military confrontation that leads to the demise of the North Korean regime would mean a loss of a strategic buffer that now exists with China, and they could suddenly end up-I think Bob made the comment here as well-the United States, with all of its power, could be right there on its doorstep because the peninsula then would no longer be a North and South Korean peninsula, but a Korean peninsula with an American presence and an American involvement.

So, China sees pressure on North Korea as not being very much of a promising way to approach things, potentially escalating problems and making things worse.

Now, there is the additional question that was raised at the end about North Korea not necessarily nuclearizing and threatening people all around the neighborhood, but passing on the fissile material or actually selling nuclear weapons to third parties. And that, indeed, is kind of another level of problem, as Bob suggested, but it's a very, very serious problem and one which probably can be even less tolerated in certain respects by the international community because it would have not just a regional, but a global implication if fissile material or weapons were being sent out to any and all customers willing to pay the price. Under those circumstances, I think that the nuclear nonproliferation regime probably would become unraveled, and at that stage we would be into a totally different kind of a framework which would not be an easy one for us to manage, and which would serve in no way, shape, or form the national interests or the security interests of the United States, the regional countries in Asia, or the world at large.

Kimball: Thank you, Larry, for that overview. David Albright from the Institute for Science and International Security.

Albright:An important implication of the current crisis with North Korea is that verification arrangements must be more central to the implementation of any nuclear agreement with North Korea. And in addition, during any negotiations that may take place with North Korea, the United States and its allies are going to have to scrutinize much more carefully any proposed agreements with respect to their impact on achieving effective verification. In a sense, this is the idea that we really don't want to have to do this again, and whatever is done has to be done more carefully.

And one immediate implication of that is what I'd call the verifiers must play a central role in the negotiations. And this would refer not just to the U.S. side to people who are expert in verification, but also the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). And that typically has not been the pattern.

The ultimate goal of any negotiations with North Korea is to ensure that North Korea's free of nuclear weapons or banned nuclear activities and North Korea's in compliance with its safeguards agreements with the NPT. But the verification arrangements will need to be implemented simultaneously with other aspects of any agreement. I think one of the things that made the 1994 agreement work so well was that a lot of these intrusive verification arrangements could be kicked down the road. And unfortunately, I don't think we can do that any more.

What I'd like to do is briefly discuss sort of the main verification tasks facing any negotiations. I'll mention these in a step-wise fashion, although in no particular order. But I would like to make the point that you don't have to verify everything at once. I think there is a view that North Korea needs to make an overarching commitment to come into compliance with its safeguards agreement to commit to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, but that you could in practice achieve that in a step-wise manner. Let me just mention four tasks.

One is-and it's been mentioned by Bob and Larry-that there's a need to re-establish the freeze at Yongbyon. I don't think the freeze can be re-established by just sending inspectors there. Unfortunately, the extent of what will define the freeze will really depend on how much plutonium North Korea has separated from the spent fuel. And I don't want to go into the details of that. But over some period of time-and I would agree with Bob that it shouldn't be a precondition-but over some period of time North Korea's going to have to provide a lot more information than it typically has done about any activities at its reprocessing plant and allow the inspectors to actually do much more. And then in the end of that you would re-establish the freeze. And, in a sense, you would know the fate of the spent fuel that was once previously stored in its spent fuel pond. And you'd have confidence that if North Korea did separate plutonium, that you would know how much.

The next item is-and the administration has talked about this often-is verifiably dismantling parts of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. And there's two main parts to that. One is to verifiably dismantle the gas centrifuge program, the uranium enrichment program that North Korea apparently has. And the other is to verifiably dismantle what I would call the nuclear weaponization program, where they actually develop, test, and build nuclear weapons. And that program may actually involve nuclear weapons.

The third is a traditional one: resolving past issues raised by the International Atomic Energy Agency in the early 1990s about how much plutonium North Korea has separated at Yongbyon.

And the last one is the IAEA goal to ensure that all activities are under safeguards. And what that means in an operational sense is that you need to develop confidence that North Korea doesn't have undeclared nuclear activities. I use the word "confidence" in a technical sense, that there is a whole series of steps you go through that are of a very technical nature, and in some cases very intrusive, to test the theory that North Korea doesn't have any undeclared nuclear activities. And over time you develop confidence that those activities aren't there. You can never be 100 percent certain because North Korea has, according to the U.S., cheated. Extra steps will be needed to ensure confidence.

Key to all of this will be North Korean cooperation and transparency. And if I could just say a few words about the dismantlement of the gas centrifuge and the nuclear weapons program I could illustrate this.

Most people, when they are confronted with an intrusive verification system, their first reaction is it's not possible to do. And I would say that that's not true. It's been done in South Africa, it's been done in Ukraine, it's actually been done in Iraq. Not all of [Iraq's] WMD programs were dismantled in a strip search form. There were actually programs dismantled cooperatively with the Iraqis, and those experiences have been quite valuable in trying to understand how you would design a cooperative verification system.

But I think all those experiences show, though, that the North Koreans, in order to be transparent, are going to have to do three or four basic things. One is they're going to have to allow the inspectors access anywhere and any time. They're going to have to provide detailed information about their nuclear activities defined in a broad sense. They're going to have to allow access to the people who are in the program. And they're going to have to permit environmental monitoring. And believe it or not, North Korea at one stage or another has agreed to all these conditions, and that it's a question of them living up to them. And they understand this. There have been discussions with the North Koreans. So they clearly understand that these are the kinds of issues at stake.

There's always a question of who does it. Traditionally we always think of the International Atomic Energy Agency doing this kind of verification. In terms of dismantlement, you at least are going to need to supplement the IAEA with experts on gas centrifuges, with experts on nuclear weapons. And you could actually design a verified dismantlement scheme where you don't involve the IAEA at all. It's not very hard to design a system where the United States and North Korea could sit down and agree to dismantle verifiably, let's say, a declared, North Korean-declared gas centrifuge program. You don't particularly want to use that model more broadly than a specific dismantlement goal, but you can do it. And if you're talking about nuclear weapons, you may want to, particularly if North Korea does have nuclear weapons, think beyond using just the IAEA. I think there will be a lot of resistance to that, and I think both from the IAEA's point of view they wouldn't support it, but even from the U.S. point of view they may not want to take the risk or the responsibility for this kind of situation. In a cynical way, if the IAEA does it, you can always blame them for missing something and then hide behind that in designing successive actions. But if it is a finite program declared and you're just seeking to do that, seeking to just accomplish that, then it could actually work and facilitate the process.

Another thing is that the dismantlement must be irreversible. And typically, what that means is things are going to have to be destroyed. If there are centrifuges, they have to be destroyed. If there's equipment or machine tools to make centrifuge parts, those have to be destroyed. You don't need to destroy buildings, but you do need to destroy a lot of items. You would also want to-at least for no other reason than to perhaps better understand the program-you'd like to collect and destroy all the documents, just burn them.

You also need to have ongoing monitoring, and the monitoring applies to non-nuclear activities. It could be dual-use machine tools that were part of centrifuge manufacturing. They could be used again for centrifuge manufacturing. So you do want to be able to verify that. And for these kind of activities, certainly the IAEA is the best choice. And then traditional activities on nuclear material would have to be brought in play. Let's say North Korea has enriched uranium-we don't actually know if any's been enriched-but that material would be subject to IAEA inspection.

Also, I just want to make a point that if you're designing a system to verifiably dismantle nuclear weapons, it really doesn't matter if there's one or five, it's essentially the same. It certainly matters if there's zero or one, but if it's a few, you essentially would do the same thing. And again, there's, particularly because of South Africa, there's a considerable amount of experience with that, and there's also a lot of cooperative attitudes among people who design verification and then people who have actually participated in nuclear weapons programs in countries like South Africa. And now with Iraq, I mean the Iraqis are making it very clear that they want to cooperate.

Let me close with just what I imagine will be a question, which is plutonium separation activities at Yongbyon. And I'd like to just give you sort of our own assessment at ISIS. And Mary Sigh (ph), who's in the back, has been doing some of this work.

We've more or less concluded, and I think it's fairly obvious, that reprocessing activities have probably restarted. I mean, North Korea always said it would, and I think the indications are that it's done something. We don't know if it's hot testing or if it's separating a significant amount of plutonium.

And with that in mind, I'd like to just add more confusion to North Korea's statement that it has nuclear weapons. If we accept it at face value that it does, what we've been seeing is that we can't actually tell if North Korea has had nuclear weapons for years or days. And let me just end it there.

Kimball: Thanks very much to our panelists. Appreciate your comments.

And just before we go to Q's and A's. We've focused a lot here on nuclear weapons, nuclear material. We haven't talked a lot about missiles. And one other aspect of the administration's approach here that I think is lacking and worth noting because of some recent statements of Ari Fleischer on the subject of missile defense. The administration has pointed out that the United States is pursuing missile defenses to deal with the North Korean missile program. But of course this, while it may have some marginal benefits down the road, does not provide us with any reliable fashion of dealing with North Korean missile threats, short-range existing threat or a future long-range threat, and it does nothing to deal with the nuclear material trade and proliferation problem. So again here, the first priority really needs to be to get at the source through negotiations leading to a verifiable end of that program.

So with that, let me open the floor to questions to any of our panelists. Please identify yourself before you ask your question. Yes, sir, in the front row.

Q. Al Milletin (ph), Washington Independent Writers. Is there reason to believe the United States will be more patient with North Korean arms inspections than with Iraq? And why should North Korea believe that its ultimate fate will be any better than the fate of the axis powers of World War II, Germany, Italy, and Japan? And hasn't North Korea shown themselves increasingly and emphatically to be not with the United States in the war on terrorism, but against it? And is it possible for the United States to be blackmailed or intimidated?

Kimball: That's several questions there, sir.

(To panelist.) Do you want to take a stab maybe at one of the first ones from the list?

Gallucci: I normally feel bad when I don't remember the second part of a two-part question, but there's no chance on this one.

Look, first of all, I think the enthusiasm everybody seemed to have for months to, I think, needle the administration over "how come you're not dealing with North Korea the way you're dealing with Iraq"-I mean, there's a short answer to that. It's because there are big differences between the two. There's history that's different between the two. And right now that kind of observation that the contexts are different, the politics are different, capabilities are different, the allied situation is different, all that is useful, I think, to go to the first part of your question and say-and turn it around and say the North Koreans-we're always concerned about lessons, but it would be the wrong lesson if they concluded that were the United States to make a deal, that the United States would not abide by the terms of the deal.

We abided by the terms of the deal that we made in 1994, in my view. I know some people have a different view, but I think we did. And I think if we made another one, we would, and the North Koreans should believe that. That is to say, if they accept inspections as part of, as Larry used a phrase, "give more and get more" kind of deal, it'll stick.

The Iraq situation was one in which there was never, in my view, a clear standard for what the inspectors needed to find, or the level of cooperation. And ultimately the United States, together with the U.K. and some other states, decided the inspection process was not going to adequately address the problem. There's no reason, I think, to transport this situation up to Northeast Asia. I just don't see it.

If I was going to cherry-pick from a few other of your questions, one of my favorite is always, "Will the United States be blackmailed?" I really like that one.

I think that you can turn any negotiation into a morality play, if that's what you wish to do. What I wish to do is try to figure out the best way to protect this nation's security, at the least cost in the loss of human life. And when we do a negotiation that stops a nuclear weapons program, which I think is what we did-stop the plutonium program in 1994-and someone says that we submitted to blackmail or suggests that this was appeasement, those are heavy, morally laden terms. And I don't think they help much. They don't help much to clarify what's happening.

Is there a threat from North Korea? You bet. All right? Would we be dealing with North Korea or have this press conference otherwise for a small, poor country? No, there are a lot of small, poor countries in the world. We're having this press conference because there is a threat. The question is how do you deal with it? I don't find anything immoral about negotiating with North Korea. I find something immoral about skipping negotiation because you don't like the image of that and going directly to the use of force or accepting the implications of the vulnerability of the United States because you won't negotiate. Now, that's immoral. So, please don't give me the blackmail and appeasement question again. Thanks.

Albright:Can I add one quick thing?

Kimball: David.

Albright: I think one lesson of the Iraq case is that the United States has to work harder on its intelligence to make sure that it doesn't create a bunch of phantom nuclear weapons in North Korea that don't exist and then expect the inspectors to find them. So, I think looking back at the Iraq case, the inspections actually didn't work too bad in the sense of containing the program, making it hard to break out, pushing it into the margins. And I think that in North Korea, that the inspection process could be extremely powerful.

Kimball: Okay, thanks. Yes, sir?

Q. (Name inaudible) with Radio Free Asia. My question is for Dean Gallucci. You said regarding the military option, it's not that effective of an option in terms of addressing, dismantling North Korean nuclear weapons program, and also, it's a very risky option. And you also said we still need to have that option on the table. So I was wondering exactly what you are suggesting here by saying that?

And also, this is the point, if my understanding is correct, where South Korea and the U.S. side has disagreement, whether we have to have military option on the table. So, I'd appreciate it if you can give me thoughts on that.

Gallucci: Sure. I don't think I said-and if I did say it, I misspoke-that the military option was ineffective. If the measure of effectiveness is the ability to destroy facilities so that they don't produce fissile material, I think the known facilities, and they are the ones that (are) known-these are facilities we've known about for a long time, principally the five- or 25-, depending on how you rate it, megawatt reactor reprocessing facility, the 15- to 20-megawatt reactors under construction-the secretary of Defense said in the last administration that we could target them and we could destroy them. So if that is your measure of effectiveness, it would be effective.

There are now some other problems. There is a uranium enrichment program, and from what I understand from the press, we do not know where that program is located, where the facilities are, facility or facilities. So that makes it hard for the airstrike to be executed, because you don't know where to go.

The second problem is-if the North Koreans have nuclear weapons or have separated additional plutonium-I don't know that we know where they are. So we don't solve that problem. There are these limits, therefore, on the surgical strike.

What about a regime change? What about a strategy of the kind we adopted to deal with another point on the axis of evil, Iraq? Okay? Would we win another Korean War? I think the answer to that is yes. I don't know anybody who says that a war against North Korea would be cheap in terms of human life. I think everybody is prepared to stipulate that that is a very high cost, it's not just high risk, it's high cost. The cost is what you fully expect to pay; the risk is what you may pay, that you hope not to have to. But the cost is high. You don't have to go to risk. We know that.

So it's not an option that you would want to embrace quickly or first or even second. You'd want to try other things, it would seem to me. You would only do it in extremis.

What would lead you to contemplate such an option? For me, the thing that I think about certainly is if the North Koreans seem to be making good on their threat ultimately of transferring fissile material or nuclear weapons to the highest bidder.

As an American, I find it unacceptable just in terms of the national security of this country to contemplate al Qaeda with nuclear weapons. I don't know how we defend against an unconventional threat on this country. I don't know how we deter those who would die for their cause. So I believe under those circumstances the use of military force would be a very plausible option to elect if we saw that as an outcome that was coming. As I observed before, we might not see that coming, though; that's why we ought to be looking for other ways to deal with the problem long before it gets to the point of the North Koreans considering that they would actually transfer this material.

There is now, as I've understood it, no support in South Korea on the part of the government or largely on the part of the population for the use of force to deal with this threat from the North. That should also condition American thinking about the viability, the political viability, of the option, as well as the other costs associated with it.

I don't believe you can ever take the military option off the table. I think even when you say we're not contemplating the use of force, and I believe that to be true about the administration. I certainly hope that when President Roh comes here and meets with President Bush that the conversation goes to other ways of dealing with the problem and that they might well say that the military option is not being considered. I think that's fair enough. What I submit to you is that, in logical terms, everybody knows of the capability the United States has. Everybody knows there could be a point, a red line, even if it isn't announced, that we would not allow North Korea to cross without the use of force in response. I think it is always a backdrop.

And I also believe that it was true in 1994 that it was a backdrop to the negotiations, and I believe it helped. I believe those negotiations benefited from the concern the North Koreans needed to have that the United States would perhaps at some point decide that the North Koreans had gone farther than they could be allowed to go in the interests of international security and the relationship we have with our allies in Japan and South Korea. That is always a backdrop.

I hope that helps.

Kimball: Yes, sir?

Q. Thank you. Massimo Calabresi from TIME magazine. In most of your remarks, it seems to have been taken as a given that the North Koreans might be willing not to develop a nuclear arsenal. I would like to ask all of the panelists how confident they are that North Korea is not in fact determined to get and maintain a nuclear weapons arsenal and, if they're not confident of that, what they think the policy implications for the U.S. are.

Kimball: Who's that question directed to?

Q. Any of the panelists.

Kimball: Any of the panelists. Larry Scheinman.

Scheinman: Okay. Why the North Koreans might be seeking to have nuclear weapons could be answered in two different ways. One could be that they've read the Bush statements. They've seen that they're on the "axis of evil." They've seen what happened to the first country that was on the axis and fear that they are basically next in line, no matter what, so they need to have this as a deterrent, and that they therefore will have to continue to develop this to whatever point is necessary, until such time as they've reached an acceptable outcome in a negotiation, which gives them all the things that they're seeking or most of the things that they're seeking from the United States.

Another possibility is that it's not for deterrence out of weakness, they're perceived self-weakness, that they're trying to develop the nuclear capability, but rather that they have an agenda, and that agenda is to remain as a nuclear-weapon state in the region, not simply for deterrent purposes but perhaps also to be able to continue their so-called lifestyle for as long as they possibly can without fear that they're going to be interdicted. So, there are two possibilities.

Q. (Off mike.)

Scheinman: That's a good question. Can we live with a nuclear North Korea? There have been suggestions made by some members of the administration that we may have to live with it for some indeterminate period of time.

But what do you mean by living with a nuclear North Korea? Does it mean accepting them into the club, welcoming them with a handshake? Absolutely not. What it would it mean would be de facto recognition of we've got a problem that we're going to have to continually try to address. What is the source of the North Korean interest in having a nuclear capability? What can we do to bring change about? And I don't think this is something that the United States would be alone in. I think that China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and the United States would all share a common concern about the continuation of that kind of a situation so that North Korea would find itself under pressure from five sides rather than from just one and that efforts to try to accommodate legitimate concerns that the North Koreans have would eventually be put on the table and the North Koreans would have to back away from their nuclear capability in order to reap the benefits of what's being offered.

Kimball: What do we do about it? I think in simple terms, Bob might want to jump in here also, is that it's important for the United States to correct North Korea's misperception that it is next on the axis of evil list after Iraq [and] that it is more secure with nuclear weapons. Instead, we need to very clearly and forthrightly communicate that its pursuit of nuclear weapons is going to lessen its security over the long term; [and] that if it also does not pursue nuclear weapons, there is the possibility of engaging not just with the United States, but with the international community and becoming a full partner in the international community, and that its security is not threatened. That's a general answer, but I think it gets to one of the fundamental issues here.

Scheinman: Could I just add one point? Taking off from what Daryl just said, go back to the Ukraine situation. The Ukrainians found themselves instantly in charge of a lot of nuclear weapons at the time of the break-up of the Soviet Union. They were persuaded, among other reasons, because they were on our target list as long as they had those weapons, that their security was not going to be benefited by having those weapons, but, in fact, they would be at greater risk. But if the weapons were gone, then they could get a security assurance, such as we negotiated with them, our negative security assurance that we negotiated with them along with the British, and took them off our target list. And I think that the same message could be given to the North Koreans: as long as you've got these, you're on our target list; you get rid of them, and the situation changes.

Kimball: Bob?

Gallucci: I'm just going to pile on a little bit.

I don't know that we know whether or not the North Koreans are unalterably committed to acquiring nuclear weapons. I think we know the program's a couple of decades old. We certainly know they gave up in '94 some significant capability in the freeze, in the commitment to dismantle. We also know, then, they started this enrichment program. We can all try to figure out why.

But the insight of the Perry process-and by the way, before there was a Perry process, there was a process at the National Defense University that Rich Armitage, now the deputy secretary of State that essentially went in the same direction. When you don't know, you really don't know what the North Koreans' strategy is, one reasonable, rational approach is to test it. And the North Koreans have said they are prepared to give up this program. Now, you don't have to accept their terms right now, which is you give us everything, then, when you're done giving us everything, we'll give up our program, which is kind of like, you know, you give up everything, then we'll start talking about normal relations. This is how negotiations begin. That's how we began in 1993 and 1994. You state a most extreme position.

The idea is you test them with negotiation. You see whether you can construct an arrangement that's acceptable to you to test them. And David went quite a bit down the line to say, okay, what kind of stuff do we need in the verification side of this to test them? Because we had some last time on the plutonium side; we didn't have any on the enrichment side. And so we need certain things now, you know? We've got a list here: no plutonium production, dismantlement of the facilities that was envisioned in the framework a little sooner, shipment of the spent fuel out, shipment of any separated plutonium out. We have special inspections as a matter of course so that you have an ability to use the agency anywhere that you're concerned about; dismantlement of, as David said, weapons if there are weapons; the facilities to fabricate the weapons, if you can get them; end of ballistic missile tests and exports; all kinds of things. And you make this list, you know, and it struck me when I was listening to David, it sound a little bit like the kind of list you have when you've just beaten a country at war, which is what we did, you know, with [UN Security Council Resolution] 687 in Iraq. Well, we haven't done that. And so this may be a little bit demanding as a list for negotiation. But then, of course, we did catch the North Koreans at cheating, so we have an argument that we need a little more transparency or a lot more transparency then we had before.

So all I'm saying to you in answer to your question here is that a logical way of dealing with the uncertainty over the strategic objectives of North Korea is to test them with a negotiation in which you have as a negotiating objective a specific set of requirements which would indeed test what they're doing.

Q. If I could follow up?

Kimball: Very quickly.

Q. Yeah, whether you call it testing or accepting their assumptions, it still means following the path of negotiation. And your argument, Mr. Kimball, was that, one, if they were determined to have nuclear weapons it was -- (inaudible) -- to convince them that they shouldn't have them for security. So it seems to me that negotiations may not be at this point the best way to convince them that they shouldn't have them.

Gallucci: No, wait. No, wait, look, let's slow down a bit here. (Laughs.) You and I can probably agree that we don't know what North Koreans are thinking right now, okay? Alright?

Q. Mmm hmm.

Gallucci: We don't know whether they are unalterably committed to acquiring nuclear weapons or that, if they can strike the right deal, they would give them up. Alright? So I'm saying let's test them with a negotiation. Now, suppose they are unalterably committed to acquiring nuclear weapons? You can then ask, okay, the negotiations should fail, if it's properly constructed, and then we're confronted with that problem. And then you can ask me, suppose they are? What would you do, Bob? Okay, well, first-this is not a trivial point-first, since I don't know, I don't want to leap to that, thank you very much. I want to test them.

What do we have now in the United States of America over North Korea policy? We have an argument. We have an argument over those people who want to negotiate and those people who don't. And I'm telling you there's a very rational reason for wanting to negotiate first before you push me to say, well suppose they're unalterably committed? Then what would you do? Okay, well, the last administration held out the prospect of the use of military force to even stop reprocessing and separation of plutonium. Now, I don't know what President Clinton would have done. President Clinton can say, and I think he has, that he would have used force. But, you know, that was then and this is now. We really can't redo history. But there is a thought that we might have used force then.

I'm not now saying at what point I think we ought to use force. I am saying clearly that I wouldn't take force absolutely off the table. You've got to have your eyes wide open about the costs associated with it. And under those circumstances, you ought to negotiate first.

I am saying that one thing that is absolutely unacceptable is the transfer of this material. And if you ask me and push me now would I use force to stop that? You bet.

Kimball: Yes, ma'am?

Q. I'd like to come back to Dr. Albright's point about the need to improve intelligence. And it also bears on Dean Gallucci's point about the proposition of testing them. We're told that U.S. intelligence on North Korea is far worse than it is on Iraq. And given the fact that we've had…

Albright:Not sure about that.

Q. Whether that's true or not, that's the first question. But I do have a question. Why can't we say conclusively, given how much intelligence resources must, we presume, is devoted to this problem, whether or not they've reprocessed? You just said you think that they are. People said last night, including the CIA, that the conclusion is they're not.

Albright:They said they're not reprocessing?

Q. Yes.

Albright:They said that with assurance, they could tell they're not reprocessing?

Q. They said they don't think…

Kimball: Wait a minute; who's "they"?

Albright:I thought there was a report in The Washington Post today that said they thought they may be.

Q. We can quibble about that. It's very messy. And I guess my question to you is, why is it so messy? Why don't we know? And if we don't know, what does that mean about our ability to verify all of the other steps on your list, which sound great, but how capable is the U.S. of verifying that they're not going to cheat again? And if there's a significant amount of doubt, then how do we test them if we can't really measure whether they're cheating or not?

Albright:Okay. Well, the first answer is that the reason you use inspectors on the ground who have considerable inspection rights is because we recognize that intelligence is such a poor tool. That was proven over and over again in Iraq in the 1980s, the 1990s, and now. And so you have to have the intrusive inspections on the ground to gain confidence that there isn't cheating going on. And then you'll never know for sure that there's not something, but you'll gain confidence that it's at the margins or that you'll have confidence that you'll detect it quickly if there's a breakout.

I think that's enough on that. The inspections are to compensate for the lack of intelligence. If the U.S. could look into a country and know everything, then they'd know where to bomb, they'd know how to intervene, and they can't. And it's just a very poor tool.

On the question of reprocessing, you're using essentially distant means: Satellite imagery to first order, praying for defector information, but not finding any, to look at a facility that's large, and you're looking for indications. There's a steam plant that produces process steam for the radiochemical laboratory operating and it's been (inaudible) and there's also a lot of cloud cover that's been over North Korea for the last couple months. You're looking for kind of a brownish smoke coming off the radiochemical laboratory, to show that fuel's been -- or that nitric acid has dissolved something and emitted these fumes. It's not a very large plume.

You're hoping that if North Korea really is separating plutonium, and there's going to be radioactive material emitted, namely, krypton- 85, which is inert and travels a long way. For 50 years, we've used that as a technique to detect reprocessing, and so you can be guaranteed that there's embassies in Pyongyang with krypton detectors, stuff in China, there may be stuff on ships, there's stuff in Japan, there's stuff at the demilitarized zone. I don't know; these are highly classified facts, but you would have (seen it ?) in other cases where they'll be looking for krypton-85.

I would say all this collectively would say it's kind of -- they haven't separated much plutonium. The lack of indicators would say they haven't separated much plutonium. On the other side, we do know there were a lot of activities at the plant in March. [ISIS] didn't get the satellite images ourselves, but we know people who did that tell us that. We know that there's been recent activity at the plant. And it could be that they're reprocessing very old, low-burn-up fuel, and that we just would miss it. And so, I would say that our uncertainty would say that they could get enough for a bomb from that kind of fuel and there wouldn't be krypton-85 emissions that would be detected. And so, they would just slip through. But eventually, it will show up that reprocessing is going on. It just has to. You can't hide it.

The other possibility, which you can't dismiss, is that they have another reprocessing plant and that we don't know where it is. There's a huge tunnel complex not far from the radiochemical laboratory. Inspectors were in it in the early 1990s, taken on a tour of it as a weekend visit when they used to be there more regularly. Perhaps there is another facility.

But again, all this would argue for accepting the limitations of intelligence and understand that the only way to know is to have people on the ground who have considerable rights to investigate what's going on.

Kimball: And to get those people on the ground, negotiations are necessary to work out the agreement that allows the details for that verification regime.

Albright:Yeah. I don't know what the U.S. government thinks, but I think a stepwise approach makes sense. And part of testing, to me, is that North Korea would allow what I would call a proper refreezing of Yongbyon, or take the step of dismantling verifiably its gas centrifuge program. Maybe it wouldn't give up its nuclearization program right away, but there does need to be something up-front, from my point of view, that really tests them in a concrete way that they are willing to make these commitments to transparency.

Kimball: Yes, sir. Right here on the left. Thank you.

Q. Do any of the panelists see any link between the North Korean situation and the situation in Iran in dealing with, for instance, engaging Russia, perhaps, in helping us in North Korea, given their activities in Iran?

Kimball: Anyone? Comparisons between the Iranian…

Gallucci: I'll make one observation, and that is that one of the critiques of the Agreed Framework with North Korea used to be that the wrong lessons would be learned; that Iran would learn the wrong lesson. You could say right now if we did a deal with North Korea, what lesson would Iran learn? And I kind of like the lesson Iran might learn. Given that Iran is proceeding as it is with uranium enrichment, heavy-water production, presumably for a heavy-water reactor, if they learn that a negotiation was possible and these programs could be turned off and a relationship could be struck with the United States, I think that would be a terrific lesson.

Kimball: Next question. Yes, sir?

Q. David McGlinchey from the Global Security Newswire. You're talking about the differences between Iraq and North Korea. State Department officials have said recently that if current negotiations fail, they want to take the situation to the U.N., even though after and during the Iraq situation a lot of U.S. officials were bad-mouthing the U.N. saying it wasn't getting the job done. What's the difference? Why would the United States want to go to the U.N. this time? How would it be more effective in dealing with North Korea than with Iraq?

Kimball: You're talking about through the Security Council?

Q. Yes. Yes.

Gallucci: Let me just take a shot at this. I can imagine there being a political advantage at some point in going to the United Nations, taking the North Korea situation to the United Nations, because I believe the administration is correct; this is not a bilateral issue only between the United States and North Korea. The North Koreans are acting inconsistent with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, as well as the Agreed Framework. They're a threat to the United States, to Japan, South Korea, and the international community. So it is appropriate for the administration to wish to multilateralize this in the negotiations and also at the U.N.

My concern about the multilateralization of the negotiation is that I don't know that I would wait for that. I think it's a desirable objective, but I see a certain urgency to the current situation.

With respect to the U.N., there is an issue, of course, and I think it has impacted the administration's assessment of when it's a good idea to have the U.N. take up the issue and consider sanctions, and that is-as the North Koreans once pointed out to me-the U.N. is not a neutral international organization to them. The U.N. was the belligerent in the Korean War and the armistice is with the United Nations. And so an act by the U.N. of adoption of sanctions would be regarded, they told me a decade ago, as a violation of the armistice and an act of war.

Now the North Koreans are capable of extraordinary hyperbole, and this may be part of it. But I don't think that you would move to sanctions lightly. You would want that to be a deliberate step in a strategy. And I don't know what the administration's plans are with respect to the overall approach to North Korea, so I don't know where this would fit. But at some point, it would make sense.

And again, I would caution you not to sort of transpose, you know, North Korea on top of what you think you may have learned from the Iraqi experience. I think they're really quite different. And indeed, as time passes, that was then and this is now.

Kimball: Part of the reality of a multilateral approach is also what do the other members of the Security Council think. One of the key members, China, does not support going to the Security Council specifically to pass a resolution that might impose or threaten sanctions on North Korea at this stage.

I think we just have time for one or two more questions. And before we do, I wanted to ask you, Bob, to touch upon your reading of the current tea leaves, what a negotiation might lead to, what would some of the elements be that might provide an appropriate solution from the United States' perspective? Is this within reach, or is this out of reach?

Gallucci: Yeah, I'll do this briefly, and I know Larry wanted to make a point.

I would continue to do what we've done in the past with North Korea, which is, in the first instance, focus on the nuclear issue. I don't mean to the exclusion of ballistic missiles, to the exclusion of the conventional force deployment issues, but I would deal with the issue that has the sharpest cutting edge, and that is the threat posed by the North Korean nuclear weapons program. I'd make that the centerpiece and see how much of the other issues were in fact open to negotiation with North Korea. If a big deal was possible, I think that would be preferable, but better to have a small deal and a narrowly focused one than no deal at all because you failed to get the big deal. That is the first point about what it looks like.

Second, I would look for everything we achieved in the framework and then a lot more is one way to put it. That is to say not only the freezing of the plutonium program but the dismantlement, which is envisioned in the Agreed Framework, sooner, rather than later; the special inspections that are envisioned in the framework, sooner, rather than later; the shipment of the spent fuel, so that is not a gun to our head, assuming it has not been reprocessed, sooner, rather than later.

And we have the new elements that have to be factored in. The enrichment program has to be dismantled. Now we have a declaration that they have weapons. Well, they're NPT parties. You want them back in the NPT as non-nuclear-weapon state. We have the South African case as an example for dismantlement under inspection. David will give you the details of what all that looks like.

So on the nuclear side, you want to do all that, and then you want to get the inspection process and the transparency, to make sure they're not cheating on the deal. I mean, there are other elements, but that's on the nuclear side.

I don't know that we can really stop there, though I would think that would be a success if we achieve that. Given our concerns about the ballistic missile transfers, I think we need to get to ballistic missile testing and transfers-the testing, which so antagonizes Japan, and the transfers, which bother us and a lot of countries in the Middle East that are impacted by those transfers.

The forward deployment of forces would come next on my list. And I think the thing that would come last would be, except in a rhetorical way, concern about the human rights abuses of North Korea. That's not because I am not troubled, concerned, find outrageous the way North Korea treats its own people, but I think we have a security issue to deal with, and I think if we are moving in to make those kinds of changes a condition of an arrangement, we may make the deal that we need to make on security grounds difficult to impossible.

On the plus side, I think we should be certainly willing to resume the construction of those lightwater reactors, which may or may not have been stopped; I really don't know. And if they were prepared to switch out conventional plants for one or two of those reactors, it would be far preferable. If they're not, I think we should be prepared to complete the reactors as we indicated we would; delivery of the heavy fuel oil, food aid, normalized relations, and if nonaggression language or an arrangement of some kind, including some formal arrangement, with respect to nonaggression commitment was desired, I'd be prepared to go there, as well, provided we got all of the other things that we wanted. That's kind of the outline.

Kimball: Okay, thanks. Larry, did you have a comment on the previous question?

Scheinman: Well, just on the Security Council. You can take something to the Security Council without ending up with a resolution that implies sanctions, but which demonstrates on two sides to the target state that, gee, all these people are together on this point. This is what happened when the IAEA reported noncompliance with the safeguards business to the Security Council just about a month and a half ago. China went along with getting that to the Security Council, but did not go along with the idea of getting a resolution on sanctions. But it was a signal that everybody was willing to take at least one step, and that there was a consolidation potential here with regard to an issue that the Security Council could deal with as one.

It's also an indication that the United States, as the lead state, is willing to use a multilateral institution to try to make it work to get a common consensus approach to a particular problem, rather than just going out on its own. We have to send messages not only to the North Koreans, we have to send messages to our friends and allies that we are prepared to work together to achieve certain outcomes.

Kimball: All right. I think we have time for one very quick question and…

(End of Available Audio)

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Top U.S. Officials Voice Concern About Syria's WMD Capability

Paul Kerr

Secretary of State Colin Powell will visit Damascus in early May, following several statements in April by U.S. officials that sparked speculation the United States might attack Syria. Some top U.S. officials cited concerns that Syria is developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD)—a primary U.S. justification for invading Iraq.

In an April 24 interview with al-Arabiyya television, Powell said he was looking forward to his third trip to Syria. Powell’s decision to visit Syria came as the United States began to cool down rhetoric toward Syria that had heated up after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. “We have seen some progress. The president has noted that the Syrians have been taking some action that we are pleased about, but there are still these fundamental issues of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, that I need to discuss with the Syrian president,” Powell said. U.S. officials have also expressed concern that Syria might have allowed Iraqi leaders to take refuge inside its borders.

Some administration officials have also indicated that Syria might facilitate the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction from neighboring Iraq. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stated in an April 13 interview on NBC’s Meet the Press that the United States had “reports” suggesting Iraq might have sent weapons of mass destruction and related materials to a neighboring country, but he did not elaborate. Undersecretary of State John Bolton said in an April 5 interview with Radio Sawa that “the intellectual capital that [Iraqi] scientists and others have developed [could] find its way to other rogue regimes.”

Bolton issued one of the strongest statements against Syria’s weapons activities in the April 5 interview, saying the Iraq invasion would send “a message” to Syria that “the cost of their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is potentially quite high…[and] the determination of the United States…to keep these incredibly dangerous weapons out of the hands of very dangerous people should not be underestimated.”

Bolton also said that Iran and Libya should learn a similar lesson. Washington has repeatedly accused both countries of pursuing weapons of mass destruction. (See ACT, April 2003.)

The United States toned down its rhetoric somewhat later in the month. Powell stated in an April 15 press briefing that “there is no war plan” to attack Syria and Bush stated April 20 that Syria is “getting the message” that it should not harbor Iraqi officials. Powell hinted during an April 14 press briefing that the United States would examine additional diplomatic or economic sanctions against Syria as a possible response to their actions. Syria is already subject to limited U.S. sanctions because it is included on the State Department’s list of countries sponsoring terrorism.

U.S. assertions that Syria has WMD programs are not new. Syria has “a stockpile of the nerve agent sarin that can be delivered by aircraft or ballistic missiles” and “a combined total of several hundred SCUD” and short-range ballistic missiles, according to a 2001 Department of Defense report. “Syria is believed to have chemical warheads available for a portion of its SCUD missile force,” the report says. Rumsfeld stated during an April 14 press briefing that Syria has tested chemical weapons “over the past twelve, fifteen months.”

A CIA report issued April 10 also states that “Russia and Syria have approved a draft cooperative program on…civil nuclear power” that “[i]n principal [sic]…provides opportunities for Syria to expand its indigenous capabilities, should it decide to pursue nuclear weapons.” Bolton expressed concern that Syria might be pursuing a nuclear weapons program in an April 15 interview with Arms Control Today. “I’m not saying they’re doing anything specific,” Bolton said. “I’m just saying it’s a worrisome pattern that we’ve seen.”

The CIA report also states that it “is highly probable that Syria…is continuing to develop an offensive [biological weapons] capability.”

Syria is not prohibited from possessing chemical weapons because it is not a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Syria is a nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) state-party with full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. Syria has signed but not ratified the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).

Syrian Ambassador to Russia Wahib Fadel denied the U.S. accusations in an April 17 statement to Interfax. Partly in response to U.S. accusations, Syria introduced a resolution at the UN Security Council April 16 that would require all countries in the Middle East to forswear the development of nuclear weapons. Syrian officials often complain about the threat of Israel’s WMD programs.

A U.S. official said in an April 23 interview that the resolution was submitted the previous day to a UN group of experts but failed to gain support because most Security Council members felt it was “ill-timed.”

The official added that the United States “has always supported” a nuclear-free Middle East, but that a lasting solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is necessary to attain that goal.

When asked during an April 21 interview how U.S. support for a nuclear-weapon-free Middle East relates to the U.S. position with respect to Israel’s nuclear weapons program, a State Department official said Washington “has long-standing concerns about Israel’s nuclear program, particularly the existence of unsafeguarded nuclear facilities in Israel.” The United States has urged Israel to sign the NPT, the official said.

Israel is widely considered a de facto nuclear weapons state. Estimates of the Israeli nuclear arsenal range from 75–200 weapons, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council’s 2002 Nuclear Notebook.

Israeli embassy press secretary Mark Regev reacted to the Syrian proposal in an April 21 interview, saying the “tensions between Syria and the United States have nothing to do with Israel” and that Syria’s “natural reflex mechanism is to blame Israel.”

He added that “Israel’s long-standing position is that it will not be the first state to introduce nuclear weapons into the region.” Israel will neither confirm nor deny that it possesses nuclear weapons.

Israel has not signed the NPT or the BWC. It has signed but not ratified the CWC. Syria refuses to sign the CWC unless Israel signs the NPT.



Syria’s Weapons of Mass Destruction

Nuclear: Syria is a state-party to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and its nuclear research reactor is under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. In its 2001 report Proliferation: Threat and Response, the Pentagon stated that Syria is not pursuing nuclear weapons. A report released this month from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), however, cautioned, “In principal, broader access to Russian expertise provides opportunities for Syria to expand its indigenous capabilities, should it decide to pursue nuclear weapons.”

Chemical: The U.S. government assesses that Syria has a stockpile of sarin, which is a nerve agent that can be lethal to victims who inhale it or absorb it through the skin or via eye contact. Syria is believed to be capable of delivering sarin with missiles and combat aircraft. The United States also asserts that Syria is trying to develop VX, the most potent nerve agent. The CIA claims that Syria is reliant on foreign suppliers to support “key elements” of its chemical weapons activities. Syria has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention, although it acceded to the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibiting biological and chemical weapons use in war.

Biological: Syria is not known to have produced any specific biological weapons agents, although the CIA deemed it “highly probable” that Damascus is trying to develop an offensive biological weapons capability. Syria has signed but not ratified the Biological Weapons Convention.

Missiles: Syria’s arsenal includes several hundred Scud B, Scud C, and SS-21 tactical ballistic missiles. The estimated maximum range of its operational missiles is approximately 500 kilometers, which enables Syria to target all of Israel and much of Turkey. Syria is reportedly receiving North Korean, Chinese, Russian, and Iranian assistance to improve its missile capabilities. —Wade Boese


Top U.S. Officials Voice Concern About Syria's WMD Capability

Key U.S. Officials in the North Korean Nuclear Standoff

Jonathan M. Katz

For the last decade, U.S. policy toward North Korea has been a battleground in Washington; Pyongyang’s recent withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and announcement that it possesses nuclear weapons has only intensified the debate over U.S. policy within the Bush administration and among members of Congress. Much of the debate revolves around whether the United States should seek a diplomatic solution with North Korea, and if so, the nature of any deal.

Some of the key U.S. participants in the debate have long opposed U.S. engagement with North Korea, in particular the 1994 Agreed Framework. The accord halted activities at North Korea’s plutonium-based nuclear facilities; in exchange, the United States agreed to provide the country with two proliferation-resistant nuclear reactors and heavy-fuel oil. Other U.S. leaders considered the accord the best solution to a dicey situation.

This article provides a brief glimpse of the views and backgrounds of some of the key people who will decide and implement U.S. policy toward North Korea. As the tug-of-war over the issue continues in Washington, the views of the strongest players are likely to determine future U.S. policy.

Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage

Richard Armitage brought a hefty defense résumé and considerable experience on Asian issues to the State Department when he was appointed deputy secretary of state in March 2001. So close to Secretary of State Colin Powell that he refers to Powell as “homeboy,” he has taken a lead role on North Korea policy. A former assistant defense secretary under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, Armitage is a graduate of the Naval Academy who completed three combat tours in Vietnam. From 1981 to 1983, Armitage was deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia and Pacific affairs. In 1992, Armitage acted as ambassador to the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. Until his March 2001 appointment as deputy secretary of state, he served as president of his consulting firm, Armitage Associates L.C.

Assistant Secretary James Kelly

Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly represented the United States at the first round of negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program. The three-day talks broke down hours earlier than expected on April 25 after North Korea declared itself to be a nuclear power.

Kelly was named assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs in April 2001. The current nuclear crisis with North Korea began in October 2002 when Kelly visited North Korea; U.S. officials said the North Koreans told Kelly the country was operating a covert, illicit uranium-enrichment program. Previously, he had advised Washington officials on East Asian and Pacific matters for six years during the Reagan administration as special assistant for national security affairs and as a deputy assistant defense secretary.

Admiral Thomas Boulton Fargo

Admiral Thomas Boulton Fargo has commanded the U.S. Pacific Command, at Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii, since May 2002. The equivalent of the U.S. Central Command’s General Tommy Franks, Fargo directs U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force operations across more than 100 million square miles in the Pacific and Indian Ocean theaters of operation. If the United States were to go to war on the Korean Peninsula, Fargo would command all U.S. forces in the region. U.S. troop deployments in South Korea have also become an issue as tensions have grown between the two longtime allies.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

Even in the midst of the war with Iraq, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned North Korea, Syria, and Iran against refusing to comply with demands to disarm. He advocated economic pressure and diplomatic arm-twisting to obtain compliance from Kim Jong Il’s government. Rumsfeld has also suggested that the United States could join with China in a policy of overthrowing Kim Jong Il’s regime.
In December 2002, Rumsfeld put Pyongyang on alert. “We are capable of fighting two major regional conflicts. We’re capable of winning decisively in one and swiftly defeating in the case of the other, and let there be no doubt about it,” he told London’s Guardian newspaper.

Senator Richard Lugar

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) chairs the Foreign Relations Committee. He is considered an expert on weapons of mass destruction, having forged a bipartisan agreement in 1991 to provide funds for destroying and safeguarding nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons in the former Soviet Union. Since regaining the chairmanship of the panel this year, Lugar has worked closely with Bush administration officials on U.S. policy.

Lugar has argued for multilateral engagement with Pyongyang and was pleased with China’s crucial role in bringing North Korea to the table in April, said a senior staff member on the committee. Lugar fears the prospect of accidental war on the peninsula due to a misunderstanding or miscalculation on either side, the aide said. Lugar has also said, however, that the administration should not rule out the use of force if necessary as a “very last resort.”

Senator Carl Levin

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) is the ranking member on the Armed Services Committee and has served in the Senate since 1978. After a 1998 visit to North Korea, Levin described it as a “basket-case country.” The North Korean government, he said, concentrated on building military might while the Korean people starved. He also said that North Korea could pose a threat to U.S. security.
He has criticized the Bush administration, however, for using aggressive rhetoric with North Korea. War-like language plays into the paranoia of the North Korean government, he said.

Senator Joseph Biden, Jr.

“North Korea is responsible for this crisis, but we are responsible for doing everything we can to find a way out of it,” Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) said February 4. Biden, ranking member on the Foreign Relations Committee, has criticized the Bush administration for its “malign neglect” of North Korea and emphasized the importance of a diplomatic solution to the problem of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons. In February, Biden, who supports the Agreed Framework, called on the administration to consider not only multilateral talks, but also “direct talks between the United States and North Korea.”

Representative Henry Hyde

As chairman of the House International Relations Committee, Representative Henry Hyde (R-IL) spoke out in 2001 against the transfer of nuclear power plants to North Korea, and he has also called for strict oversight of North Korean nuclear activities. He has joined with Cox and Markey in co-authoring several North Korea-related measures.

Representative Christopher Cox
In January, Representative Christopher Cox (R-CA) was appointed head of the House Homeland Security Committee. The congressman was previously associated with East Asian policy in 1998, when he chaired the House select committee investigating the alleged sale of nuclear secrets to China under the Clinton administration.

Cox is fiercely critical of the 1994 Agreed Framework, saying that pressure should have been applied to North Korea years ago. Along with Markey and Hyde, Cox has co-authored several pieces of hard-line legislation against North Korea that have passed in the more conservative House but stalled in the more moderate Senate.

Representative Edward Markey

Representative Edward Markey (D-MA), co-chair of the Bi-Partisan Commission on Nonproliferation, also opposes the Agreed Framework. He is a longtime foe of nuclear power who has extended this opposition to U.S. dealings with North Korea. When Energy Department officials said last month that they were still trading documents on nuclear energy with North Korea as part of the accord, Markey wrote a letter demanding that the trading stop.

Markey has also repeatedly asked both the Clinton and Bush administrations to stop the U.S.-led construction of two light-water nuclear reactors in North Korea. The United States agreed to help build the reactors, as part of the 1994 Agreed Framework.

For the last decade, U.S. policy toward North Korea has been a battleground in Washington; Pyongyang’s recent withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty...

North Korea, U.S. Meet; Pyongyang Said to Claim Nukes

Paul Kerr

North Korea’s reported disclosure that it has nuclear weapons has left the future direction of U.S. policy toward Pyongyang uncertain, although the United States has not ruled out the possibility of future talks and remains open to a diplomatic solution.

North Korean officials, for the first time, told a U.S. delegation that Pyongyang possesses nuclear weapons during trilateral talks with China in Beijing April 23-25, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher stated during an April 28 briefing.

It is not known whether North Korea’s claim is true. Boucher stated April 24 that “we have certainly said for years now that we thought North Korea had nuclear weapons. So it would not come as any great surprise for them to say something like that.”

A December 2001 National Intelligence Estimate states that “the Intelligence Community judged in the mid-1990s that North Korea had produced one, possibly two, nuclear weapons.” Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet seemed to support this view during a February 12 hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, stating that North Korea “probably” has “one or two plutonium-based devices.”

A January 2003 CIA report to Congress, however, states only that “North Korea probably has produced enough plutonium for at least one, and possibly two, nuclear weapons.” The most recent report, released April 10, does not mention the subject.

Crisis Intensifies

The Beijing talks marked the first time the United States and North Korea have met officially since October, when Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly visited North Korea. U.S. officials said that North Korea admitted to having an illicit uranium-enrichment program during the October meeting, but North Korea has denied making such an admission.

Frank Jannuzi, a Democratic staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote in a February Woodrow Wilson Center report that North Korea also offered to be flexible on “key areas of concern” to Washington, including its ballistic missile development and exports, the future of U.S. forces in Korea, and comprehensive inspections to ensure compliance with its nonproliferation commitments.

North Korea’s uranium-enrichment procurement activities are a violation of the 1994 Agreed Framework, as well as several other nuclear arms control agreements. (See ACT, May 2003.) The Agreed Framework was concluded to resolve the crisis following the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) discovery that Pyongyang had been diverting spent fuel from a plutonium-based reactor for a nuclear weapons program. North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear facilities, and the United States agreed to provide two proliferation-resistant reactors and to supply heating oil each year to North Korea during the reactors’ construction.

The U.S. announcement of North Korea’s admission of an enrichment program last October prompted the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization—the U.S.-led international consortium responsible for implementing the Agreed Framework—to suspend fuel-oil deliveries to North Korea in November. North Korea responded by announcing in December 2002 that it would restart the reactor to produce electricity, and U.S. officials confirmed in February 2003 that North Korea had done so.

During the weeks following its December announcement, North Korea removed seals and monitoring equipment from its nuclear facilities and expelled IAEA inspectors charged with monitoring the freeze and the spent fuel rods taken from the reactor. On January 10, Pyongyang announced that it was withdrawing from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

Renewal of Talks

The April talks represented an easing of the stalemate that has characterized relations between the two countries since October. Until January, the United States maintained it would not engage in formal talks or negotiate with North Korea until it agreed to give up its prohibited nuclear programs. Washington, however, shifted its policy in January, saying it would “talk to North Korea about how it will meet its obligations to the international community” but would not negotiate a settlement. (See ACT, January/February 2003.)

The United States has also insisted that it meet with North Korea in a multilateral setting and implied that behind-the-scenes diplomatic efforts were underway to convene such talks. (See ACT, April 2003.) The trilateral nature of the April talks signaled a compromise between Washington’s and Pyongyang’s negotiating positions.

Washington has argued that multilateral talks are necessary because the crisis affects many countries and because such talks will be more effective than bilateral negotiations. Secretary of State Colin Powell argued in an April 24 speech that the Agreed Framework was ineffective because of its bilateral nature. Although the Agreed Framework is a bilateral agreement, it obligates North Korea to accept full IAEA safeguards when a “significant portion” of the reactor project is complete.

North Korea had previously rejected multilateral talks, arguing that the issue should be settled in bilateral negotiations. However, an April 12 statement from the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) stated that Pyongyang “will not stick to any particular dialogue format,” although it reiterated previous calls for direct talks and a bilateral settlement.

Beijing’s exact role is unclear. Boucher said April 25 that China was a “significant participant” in the talks, but an April 25 KCNA statement described China as “presiding” over the talks. China’s ambassador to South Korea said his government did not plan to “mediate” between the two sides, according to an April 18 Associated Press report.

Boucher stated April 25 that the U.S. delegation told North Korea that it must “verifiably and irreversibly” end its nuclear weapons program, emphasizing that such a move was necessary for North Korea to be able to engage with other countries, including the United States. The U.S. delegation also emphasized that South Korea and Japan need to participate in future talks, Boucher said. Japan and South Korea have both said that they wish to participate in multilateral talks.

Boucher said April 28 that the North Korean delegation told the U.S. officials that Pyongyang “might get rid of all their nuclear programs…[and] stop their missile exports.” On April 28, Powell would not discuss what North Korea’s demands were, except to say it expects “something considerable in return.”

North Korea reiterated its call for the United States to conclude a “nonaggression treaty” in an April 27 KCNA statement and said in a April 24 KCNA statement that ending the U.S. “hostile policy” is a necessary precondition for discussing “verification and the dismantlement of physical deterrent force”—a possible reference to nuclear weapons.

North Korea reiterated its claims that Washington poses a threat in the April 24 statement, citing President George W. Bush’s inclusion of North Korea in his “axis of evil” and its belief that the United States has targeted it for a “preemptive attack.”

The Bush administration has countered that North Korea’s uranium-enrichment program started during the Clinton administration. (See ACT, May 2003.) Bush and other U.S. officials have also stated that the United States has no intention of attacking North Korea.

A September report outlining the U.S. National Security Strategy emphasizes preemptive action to counter threats from countries developing weapons of mass destruction. The report explicitly mentions North Korea. In addition, a leaked version of the Bush administration’s January 2002 classified Nuclear Posture Review lists North Korea as a country against which the United States should be prepared to use nuclear weapons, although it does not mention pre-emptive nuclear strikes. The Agreed Framework requires the United States to “provide formal assurances to [North Korea], against the threat or use of nuclear weapons.”

U.S. Policy

An April 25 statement from China’s foreign ministry said that “the parties agreed that they would continue to maintain contact on further talks through diplomatic channels,” but Boucher said April 25 that Washington is still evaluating possible options. He added that the United States is not willing to negotiate, saying the administration is “not going to give a quid pro quo to get rid of a nuclear weapons program that never should have existed in the first place.”

Boucher stated April 28 that the United States “could…move back to the comprehensive approach…to U.S.-North Korea relations that we had talked about before”—a policy the administration has called its “bold approach.” Kelly described that policy in congressional testimony last month as involving “economic and political steps” to help North Korea and move the bilateral relationship “towards normalcy” if Pyongyang dismantles its nuclear programs.

Since June 2001, the Bush administration has said other issues—such as conventional forces, terrorism, and human rights—must be addressed along with concerns over missiles and nuclear weapons. Powell suggested April 24 that this is still the case. North Korea is resistant to such an approach.

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer also indicated April 25 that the administration will continue to address the issue through the United Nations, but a U.S. official said in an April 28 interview that no specific meetings are planned. Fleischer added that the United States has not yet taken a position on whether it supports imposing sanctions on North Korea.

The United States wants the Security Council to adopt a statement condemning North Korea’s actions but was unable to overcome opposition from China during an April 9 Security Council meeting, the U.S. official said April 28. A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry reiterated April 8 Beijing’s position that Security Council action “will not be conducive to the settlement of the issue.” (See ACT, April 2003.)

Reprocessing Questions

The status of the spent nuclear fuel from the reactor frozen under the Agreed Framework is unclear. Boucher stated April 28 that North Korea told the U.S. delegation that they are reprocessing the fuel, but Powell said that same day that the intelligence community could not confirm this. U.S. officials have said that North Korea could extract enough plutonium for four to six nuclear weapons within approximately six months after beginning reprocessing.

Undersecretary of State John Bolton stated in an April 15 interview with Arms Control Today that reprocessing the spent fuel would make the crisis “even more serious,” but he added that the Bush administration has not “declared anything to be a red line.”

Allied Reaction

Other regional countries have signaled support for multilateral efforts to resolve the crisis but have also indicated their backing for diplomatic inducements. Alexander Losyukov, Russian envoy to North Korea, said that Russia believes North Korea “must abandon its nuclear option” and that it can be persuaded to do so by offering “reliable guarantees of security,” according to an April 25 Agence France-Presse report.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda expressed Tokyo’s support for continuing discussions and said Japan is “willing to give our full support on matters such as rebuilding the economy” if North Korea dismantles its nuclear facilities, Reuters reported April 25.

Meanwhile, North and South Korea held bilateral talks from April 27-29. Although South Korean officials participating in the talks asked Pyongyang for an explanation of its comment about possessing nuclear weapons, the North Korean officials “avoided direct responses to these requests” and requested discussions about “economic cooperation,” a South Korean press pool report from Pyongyang said, according to an April 28 Reuters article.



North Korea, U.S. Meet; Pyongyang Said to Claim Nukes

North Korea's Uranium-Enrichment Efforts Shrouded in Mystery

Paul Kerr

The current crisis over North Korea’s nuclear activities began when the United States announced October 16 that North Korea had admitted to Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly earlier that month that it had a covert uranium-enrichment program. The exact status of the program and its origins are not clear, but examining these issues is important for U.S. analysts attempting to divine North Korea’s motives for starting the program and what effect, if any, U.S. decisions had on Pyongyang’s actions.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee February 4 that the administration received a National Intelligence Estimate in June 2002 stating that North Korea “had engaged in at least [a research and development] project for highly enriched uranium.” He also stated that intelligence received the next month, however, indicated that North Korea was acquiring “many more [centrifuges] than was originally thought,” adding that a September 2002 intelligence memorandum said that North Korea “had embarked on a production program.”

A November 2002 CIA report to Congress says North Korea “is constructing a [uranium-enrichment] plant that could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for two or more nuclear weapons a year when fully operational.” Kelly testified during a March 12 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that the uranium-enrichment program could produce fissile material in “probably…months and not years.”

There are various U.S. government sources that provide clues as to when North Korea began its uranium-enrichment program, but disagreement among the sources makes it difficult to determine the exact start of the program. Most information, however, indicates it began between 1997 and 1999.

Armitage has provided the earliest estimate of the program’s origin, testifying February 4 that the U.S. government noticed “some anomalies in [North Korean] procurement patterns” starting in 1994. Similarly, Secretary of State Colin Powell stated during a March 26 hearing before the House Appropriations Committee that North Korea started the program to enrich uranium “before the ink was dry” on the 1994 Agreed Framework.

A March 17 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report states that the uranium-enrichment program “appears to date from [the end of] 1995,” although it does not cite a source or provide further detail. John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, stated in an April 15 interview with Arms Control Today that the program “goes back to about 1998…[but] it may go back earlier than that.”

Powell described a similar, although less precise, timeline in a series of television interviews on December 29, 2002. On NBC’s Meet the Press, he said the program began “four or five years ago, if not earlier.” Contrary to his later comment that North Korea began the program around the time the Agreed Framework was signed, he said on ABC’s This Week that North Korea started the program “in 1998 and 1999.”

The November CIA report to Congress indicates that “North Korea embarked on the effort to develop a centrifuge-based uranium enrichment program about two years ago.”

It is also unclear as to when North Korea decided to proceed from a research and development project to building a production facility for uranium enrichment. Armitage argued in his February 4 testimony that North Korea was “intent on going to a full-up production program” from “at least” February 2000—a possible reference to President Bill Clinton’s February 2000 decision not to certify that North Korea “is not seeking to develop or acquire the capability to enrich uranium, or any additional capability to reprocess spent fuel.” Congress had recently passed legislation requiring Clinton to make such a certification before funds could be released to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, which implements the Agreed Framework.

Wendy Sherman, the counselor to the Department of State, explained Clinton’s decision during a March 16, 2000, hearing before the House International Relations Committee, testifying that “the way that that certification is written, it goes to the intention of North Korea…it’s very hard to conceive of what their intentions are.”

An April 2003 CIA report states that the United States “has remained suspicious that North Korea has been working on uranium enrichment for several years,” adding that North Korea “began seeking centrifuge-related materials in large quantities” in 2001 and “obtained equipment suitable for use in uranium feed and withdrawal systems.”

It is interesting to note that the most recent estimates place the program’s origins at an earlier date, perhaps reflecting changes in intelligence assessments.





North Korea's Uranium-Enrichment Efforts Shrouded in Mystery

A Disillusioned Japan Confronts North Korea

Matake Kamiya

North Korea’s recent nuclear brinkmanship might have alarmed the United States and escalated tension in Northeast Asia, but it has not shocked Japan, already inclined to think the worst of Pyongyang. Japanese attitudes toward North Korea, which had already shifted since the end of the Cold War, hardened still further in August 1998 when Pyongyang sent a Taepo Dong missile flying over Japan. Any remaining Japanese sympathy for Pyongyang was largely dispelled by North Korea’s admission last fall that it had abducted several Japanese citizens.

As distrustful as they are of Pyongyang, however, Japan still clings to its postwar pacifist external posture that seeks to avoid forceful actions that might lead to confrontations with other countries.1 As a result, Tokyo has hewn to a policy of relative diplomatic silence, although it has begun to rethink its longer-term military strategy.

The decision by Japanese officials to downplay Pyongyang’s recent nuclear gambits marks a sharp contrast with the agitated reaction of Tokyo after the Taepo Dong test in 1998. That year, the Diet—Japan’s parliament—unanimously passed a resolution of protest against North Korea; Tokyo refused to resume talks on normalizing relations between the two countries and cut off future food aid to the North.

But in the latest crisis, which began in October when North Korea reportedly told a visiting U.S. delegation about its secret uranium-enrichment program, Tokyo has stayed on the sidelines. The lack of countermeasures is particularly noteworthy because Pyongyang appears to have violated a key provision in the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, signed barely half a month before by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. In that document, “[b]oth sides confirmed that, for an overall resolution of the nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula, they would comply with all related international agreements.”2

In an October 2002 press conference, immediately after the U.S. announcement about North Korea’s nuclear admission, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said that “the process toward normalization of the relations [between Japan and North Korea] will never proceed if North Korea breaks its word.” At the same time, however, he emphasized that talk and diplomacy with the North had to be maintained because, “if we do not talk with North Korea and leave it alone, its nuclear development program may advance further.”3 Normalization talks between the two countries took place as scheduled in Kuala Lumpur in late October, although they failed to produce any constructive results.

The Japanese public has also reacted quite calmly to the news of North Korea’s nuclear admission. They have not panicked in the face of a series of provocative actions taken in rapid succession by Pyongyang since last October, such as expelling International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors; announcing its withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT); restarting its frozen nuclear reactor in Yongbyon; and, according to U.S. officials, acknowledging that it had nuclear weapons and threatening to test or export them. Since the last nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula from 1993 to 1994, many outside observers have insisted that resurgence of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program might cause Japan to reconsider its own decision to forgo nuclear weapons. Despite such speculation, however, so far only a small number of extremists have taken such a stance.

Becoming Aware of the Threat

The relatively low-key Japanese reaction to the renewed North Korean nuclear crisis reflects the perception that North Korea’s nuclear weapons development is not an isolated issue but part of a broader “North Korea problem” that includes disputes over nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles (Nodong as well as Taepo Dong), abductions, and the dispatch of North Korean spy ships to Japan’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

Since the early 1990s, deep suspicions and misgivings about North Korea have grown in Japan. During the Cold War, the strong leftist orientation of many Japanese journalists encouraged reporting quite sympathetic to Pyongyang. Influenced by such reports, the Japanese people held a relatively benign image of North Korea through the late 1980s. Since the end of the Cold War, however, Japanese media reports about North Korea have become more objective. Consequently, the Japanese have become more familiar with the strange belief system shared among North Korean leaders, the extremely oppressive nature of the regime in Pyongyang, and the history of North Korea’s anti-Japan activities, such as the abduction of Japanese citizens to advance its espionage efforts in the 1970s and 1980s.

From 1993 to 1994, when Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development programs were disclosed, the Japanese began to recognize North Korea as a potential threat to their security. Then came the launching of the Taepo Dong on August 31, 1998. The shock that it gave to the Japanese was arguably comparable to the one the Soviet launching of Sputnik in October 1957 gave to the Americans. For most Japanese, the launching was the first occasion in the postwar period in which they really felt their country was being immediately threatened by a hostile external power. Although Japan had confronted Russian (Soviet) and Chinese military power for decades, most Japanese never perceived these threats as immediate, given their protection under the U.S. military umbrella.

In the case of the Taepo Dong, however, the very fact that North Korea launched a missile that actually flew over the main island of Japan and splashed down into the Pacific Ocean was enough to send shivers up just about every Japanese spine. The possibility that North Korea, viewed by most Japanese as the most enigmatic and unpredictable country in the region, had the capability to attack Japan with its ballistic missiles was horrifying. The North Korean spy ship incidents that took place in March 1999 and in December 2001 further intensified the perceived threat from Pyongyang.4

From Goodwill to Reciprocity

Despite this series of provocative actions taken by Pyongyang against Japan, Tokyo maintained a conciliatory posture toward the North until the end of 2000. It hoped that a patient show of goodwill would encourage Pyongyang to negotiate the long list of issues between the two countries, including the normalization of diplomatic relations. At the same time, the Japanese government maintained its assistance to North Korea, particularly food aid, without receiving anything in return from Pyongyang. Only in the short period after the Taepo Dong incident did Tokyo take any retaliatory measures for Pyongyang’s provocative actions toward Japan.

By the end of 2000, however, there was growing sentiment among foreign policy elites in Tokyo questioning the validity of such an approach toward Pyongyang. Arguing that Japan had received little in return for its cooperation with North Korea, Tokyo started to pursue a new policy line toward the country based on the principle of reciprocity. The Japanese government made it clear that, if Pyongyang wanted to obtain food and other forms of assistance, it first had to demonstrate in concrete terms its own goodwill toward Japan.

Further fueling Tokyo’s hard-line approach was the grave impact of the first ever Japan-North Korea summit meeting on September 17, 2002. Before Koizumi’s visit to Pyongyang, many in Japan were hopeful about the possibilities for improving relations between the two Asian countries. Many experts argued that North Korea—eager to normalize diplomatic relations with Japan in order to avoid being targeted by the United States as a “second Iraq” and to obtain desperately needed economic assistance—might be prepared to make substantial concessions on the pending problems between the two countries. These included resolving questions about whether or not Pyongyang had endorsed the abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.

Kim Jong Il actually took some steps at the summit meeting with Koizumi that appeared to address Japanese concerns and certainly astonished North Korea watchers all over the world. He admitted that his country had abducted 13 Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s and made a verbal apology for doing so. He also acknowledged sending spy ships into Japan’s territorial waters and EEZ and promised that such incidents would not recur.

Although Kim obviously expected that such confessions would greatly improve Japanese sentiment toward his country, the plan actually backfired. The Japanese public was outraged by Pyongyang’s explanation that eight out of 13 abductees had died at quite young ages.5 Pyongyang’s response to Tokyo’s demand to provide detailed information about those eight people, including the causes of their death, added fuel to the fire. Most Japanese believed that North Korea had tried to deceive them by providing highly questionable information.6 Japanese anger toward North Korea grew even further when Pyongyang declared at the normalization talks in late October that the abduction issue had already been solved; it is widely believed in Japan that tens or hundreds more Japanese were actually kidnapped by the North in the past.

The resurgence of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, therefore, took place at a time when the reputation and credibility of North Korea among the Japanese public had already hit rock bottom. At the same time, North Korea’s previous nuclear and missile threats might have irritated Tokyo, but they ironically and unintentionally have also given Japan confidence that Pyongyang, despite its harsh rhetoric and confrontational postures, is effectively deterred by the U.S.-Japan alliance. Tokyo has grown accustomed to the way Pyongyang speaks and behaves. In other words, the Japanese have acquired immunity to North Korean provocations. Consequently, even the recent warning issued by Pyongyang that Japan should recognize that it is “within the striking range of [North Korea]” and should behave well7 barely induced any reaction from the Japanese public.

Consequently, the Japanese public has strongly demanded that the government not make any concession on the nuclear issue, as well as on abductions, because they do not view North Korea as a trustworthy negotiating partner. Reflecting these views, the Koizumi administration has repeatedly emphasized that there will be no normalization of relations and no economic assistance to the North until the nuclear and abduction issues are solved. This policy line is similar to the Bush administration’s stance that the United States is ready to consider taking a “bold approach” toward Pyongyang but only after it verifiably abandons its nuclear weapons programs.

Japan’s Interests

There are, however, at least two significant differences between Japan’s North Korea policy and that of the United States. First, although aiming earnestly at the termination of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, Japan has more to fear from a military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula. Separated from the peninsula by the sea, almost the entire territory of Japan is believed to be within the range of Pyongyang’s Nodong missiles. If the United States uses military forces against North Korea, Japan is unlikely to remain safe.

The Koizumi administration understands that U.S. military pressure is necessary both to deter North Korea and to achieve a peaceful solution of the current nuclear crisis. At the outset of the Iraq war in March 2003, Koizumi maintained that the U.S.-Japan alliance “functions as a strong deterrent force against a country which is ready to attack Japan. Japan should not forget about it.”8

At the same time, however, the Japanese government does not want to see the United States rush to resolve the crisis militarily; Tokyo is particularly worried that the United States, inspired by its success in Iraq, might seek regime change in Pyongyang. As the final report of the Task Force on Foreign Relations for Prime Minister Koizumi maintained, the prime objective of Japan’s North Korea policy is not to overthrow Kim Jong Il’s regime but to persuade Pyongyang to stop taking harmful actions externally and to initiate gradual reform of its political and economic system domestically.9

Second, although Washington remains focused on the nuclear issue, the Japanese government wants the nuclear and abduction issues resolved simultaneously. Despite repeated assurances by the United States that it will raise the abduction issue when it has contact with North Korean authorities, Tokyo is worried that the United States might decide to sacrifice the abduction issue if North Korea shows a willingness to make significant concessions on the nuclear issue.

Recognizing these differences, the Japanese government has insisted that the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons development be discussed within a multilateral framework that includes Japan. On an assumption that the North desperately needs Japan’s money to escape from the current economic crisis, Tokyo judges that it can utilize economic assistance as its negotiating leverage against Pyongyang. It has been widely assumed among the Japanese that Japan, at some stage of the process to normalize relations with North Korea, will have to give Pyongyang a substantial amount of economic assistance as a quasi-reparation for Japan’s colonial rule from 1910 to 1945, as it did to South Korea in the 1965 normalization treaty. Until the Koizumi-Kim Jong Il summit last September, there had been a dispute between Japan and North Korea on the timing of such assistance. North Korea demanded that the colonial settlement precede the normalization of relations. The Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, however, clearly stated that Japan’s economic cooperation to the North would be provided only “after the normalization.”

Washington’s decision to start trilateral talks with only Pyongyang and Beijing was, therefore, disappointing to Tokyo, despite official support from the Japanese government. Taku Yamazaki, secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, even complained that “a multilateral talk without Japan and South Korea cannot be accepted.”10 There is a widespread consensus in Japan that the trilateral framework must be expanded to include these two countries as soon as possible.

Reconsidering Passive Defense

Pyongyang’s attempt to obtain nuclear weapons, together with its earlier acquisition of ballistic missile capabilities, has made it obvious to Japan that its long-cherished passive defense posture poses a severe handicap in dealing with a country such as North Korea.

Throughout the post-World War II period, Japan has maintained the remarkably self-restrained military posture of “exclusively defensive defense.” Within that framework, Japan has deliberately eschewed long-range power projection capabilities so that its Self-Defense Forces remain essentially nonthreatening to other countries. Australian security experts Andrew Mack and Pauline Kerr argued in 1995 that only Japan’s military posture fit closely with the precepts of “non-provocative defense” in the Asia-Pacific region at that time.11

Today, the Japanese people still want to maintain the passive defense posture in which they take great pride. As long as Japan sustains that posture, however, the offensive capability of the Self-Defense Forces will remain severely limited, and Japan by itself will never be able to deter, prevent, nor retaliate against attacks by enemies who are armed with nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

The further the North Korean nuclear weapons program develops, the more difficult this dilemma becomes for Japan. Going nuclear will not be a desirable way for Japan to resolve this dilemma, but some Japanese security experts and politicians have started to discuss possible ways to modify Japan’s exclusively defensive defense posture by strengthening its conventional weapons capability without provoking its neighbors. Under the traditional posture, the Japanese government has interpreted Japan’s postwar “Peace Constitution” to allow the country to use military force only to exercise the right of self-defense to the extent minimally necessary to repel aggressors. Japan has limited its defense efforts within the realm of defense in the narrowest sense and has relied on the United States for offensive and deterrent capabilities.

Since the Taepo Dong firing in 1998, however, there has been a growing, although still small, voice among the Japanese security circle that Japan should not shy away from facing up to the reality that effective defense requires some offensive capability. Shigeru Ishiba, director-general of Japan’s Defense Agency, has recently mentioned that it is worthwhile for Japan to consider an option to obtain the capability to attack ballistic missile sites of hostile countries,12 but Koizumi has expressed his unwillingness to do so.13

Although the majority of the Japanese people seem to be reluctant to change the basic framework of Japan’s decades-old “exclusively defensive defense” security posture in the near future, the public support for Japan’s acquisition of its own reconnaissance satellites, as well as for Japan’s participation in joint research on theater missile defense with the United States, increased suddenly and sharply after the 1998 Taepo Dong shooting. Japan successfully launched its first reconnaissance satellite March 28, 2003.

In the face of press reports that North Korea admitted at the U.S.-North Korea-China trilateral talks from April 23 to April 24 in Beijing that it already possesses nuclear weapons, the Japanese “government has reacted [to this news] cool-headedly,”14 and the Japanese public has also stayed calm. The long-term effect of the current North Korean nuclear crisis on Japanese security policy, however, could be significant, giving further impetus to shifts in Japan’s defense posture.


The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not represent those of the National Defense Academy of Japan or of Japan’s Defense Agency.

1. Thomas U. Berger, “From Sword to Chrysanthemum: Japan’s Culture of Anti-Militarism,” International Security, 17, no. 4 (Spring 1993).

2. “Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration,” September 17, 2002.

3. Yomiuri Shinbun, October 18, 2003.

4. The details of North Korean spy ship activities against Japan remain a mystery. It has been rumored for a long time that such ships frequently intrude into Japan’s territorial waters and EEZ in order to gather information, replace spies stationed in Japan, smuggle drugs into Japan, and even abduct Japanese citizens. In March 1999, two vessels that were suspected to be spy ships from the North were found off the coast of Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture and off the coast of Noto Peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture. It was confirmed that the ships, which the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) and the Maritime Self-Defense Force chased but failed to capture, ran to a North Korean port. In December 2001, another North Korean spy ship that was heavily armed was found in Japan’s EEZ in the East China Sea. After being chased for many hours, it exchanged fire with and was sunk by the JCG patrol boats.

5. According to the explanation provided by North Korea, four abductees died in their twenties, two in their thirties, and two in their forties.

6. For example, according to North Korea, most of the eight people died due to unnatural reasons such as a car accident, drowning, carbon monoxide poisoning, and suicide. Moreover, among errors with regard to birth dates and home addresses (in Japan) that were found in the death certificates of those people that were handed from Pyongyang to Tokyo, many coincided with inaccurate information that the Japanese side mistakenly gave to North Korea several years earlier.

7. “KCNA Urges Japan to Behave With Discretion,” Korean Central News Agency, April 15, 2003.

8. Yomiuri Shinbun, March 21, 2003.

9. Taigai Kankei Tasukufosu, “21 Seiki Nihon Gaiko no Kihon Senryaku,” November 28, 2002, p. 13.

10. Nihon Keizai Shinbun, April 17, 2003.

11. Andrew Mack and Pauline Kerr, “The Evolving Security Discourse in the Asia-Pacific,” Weapons Proliferation in the 1990s, ed. Brad Roberts (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995), p. 404.

12. Yomiuri Shinbun, March 27, 2003, evening ed.

13. Yomiuri Shinbun, March 28, 2003.

14. Asahi Shinbun, April 25, 2003, evening ed.

Matake Kamiya is an associate professor of international relations at the National Defense Academy of Japan.


NPT to Tackle Tough Questions in May

Christine Kucia

As delegates from member states of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) meet in Geneva April 28-May 9 for the second in a series of international consultations prior to the 2005 review conference for the treaty, North Korea’s withdrawal from the accord and Iran’s potential challenge to the treaty emerged as focal points of discussion at the conference, if not the formal program.

Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation John S. Wolf April 28 described Pyongyang’s actions as “both cynical…and dangerous in its impact on North Korea.”

But Wolf saved some of his strongest words for Iran which he termed “the most fundamental challenge ever faced by the NPT.”

This year’s NPT Preparatory Committee meeting, chaired by Ambassador László Molnár of Hungary, is confronted with a wide range of complicated issues. North Korea’s January 10 announcement of its withdrawal from the NPT—the first time an NPT member state has turned its back on the treaty since it entered into force in 1970—casts a shadow on the meeting. April 10 marked the end of the three-month period the treaty requires from the time a country announces its withdrawal to the time the withdrawal is official.

In addition, new U.S. nuclear weapons use policy that appears to contradict negative nuclear security assurances made in the context of the NPT is likely to elicit criticism at the meeting (See ACT, May 2003), as are U.S. moves to explore development of a nuclear bunker buster and repeal legislation banning research and development of low-yield nuclear weapons. Nuclear-weapon states agreed in Article VI of the treaty to pursue measures leading toward eventual nuclear disarmament, and NPT members also promised to take steps that could enable the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty—most recently at the 2000 Review Conference.

Member states face other outstanding questions, such as finding a way to include India, Israel, and Pakistan—which are believed to have nuclear weapons but have never signed the NPT—in a comprehensive nuclear nonproliferation regime; eliminating tactical nuclear weapons arsenals; and having all member states conclude fissile material safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which would allow the agency to monitor the safety and security of nuclear materials in member states. The unstable relationship between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan is likely to weigh heavily as a regional issue of global concern, as well as tensions from possible nuclear weapons development and possession in the Middle East.

States are also expected to highlight recent successes in nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. For example, the U.S.-Russian Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, ratified by the U.S. Congress March 6, will reduce each country’s arsenal down to 1,700-2,200 strategic nuclear weapons by 2012. Each state currently deploys 6,000 nuclear warheads.




NPT to Tackle Tough Questions in May

Pyongyang: The Case for Nonproliferation With Teeth

Henry Sokolski

After two decades of covert and overt nuclear weapons activities, North Korea now has the United States and its allies in a tight spot. The reasons why, however, have less to do with what nuclear provocations it might attempt after having violated and withdrawn from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) than what, if anything, the world is prepared to do about it. Further mischief following Pyongyang’s April Beijing warning that it might test or export its nuclear weapons might be unavoidable; inaction against Pyongyang’s shredding of the NPT, however, is not.1

So far, the Bush administration has rejected the idea of attacking North Korea’s nuclear facilities. At the same time, President George W. Bush has made it clear that Pyongyang must not be rewarded for its proliferation even as he has kept the door open to diplomatic solutions. More than merely avoiding bombing or bribing, though, will be needed to curb international and east Asian proliferation. In addition, the United States and its allies will have to cut off illicit flows of hard currency to North Korea’s military, which is using this money to finance improvements in its strategic weaponry. Also, to block North Korea and other proliferators from possibly exporting weapons of mass destruction, the UN Security Council needs to toughen the international rules against proliferation, starting with a ban on countries deploying nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons outside of their borders.2 Although establishing such restraints will be challenging, it will be far easier to tackle now—using the war against Iraq and the crisis in North Korea as reasons—than trying to manage the large and unruly crowd of weapons states that otherwise will arise if we fail to act.

What Is at Stake

Having withdrawn from the NPT and insisted that it has a right to develop strategic weaponry, Pyongyang could fire missiles over Japan, test a nuclear weapon, or make ever larger amounts of nuclear-weapon material. If Pyongyang were to take any of these steps, it would surely be provocative. Yet, none of these threats, or blocking them, is as critical to assuring international security as holding North Korea accountable for its earlier violations of the NPT. If Pyongyang is properly taken to task on this score, officials in Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Algeria, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Russia, and China will reconsider proliferation actions they might otherwise take. But if Pyongyang’s violations prior to its NPT withdrawal are ignored or rewarded,3 many of these states will conclude that proliferation pays or that, at least, if they acquire or help others get strategic weapons, they will not be penalized.

Recent developments in Iran and Iraq, moreover, will only fortify this conclusion. As Pyongyang recently argued, Iraq made a fatal error in allowing intrusive inspections.4 Would not countries be in a better position to deal with hostile states if they instead developed nuclear capabilities that could bring them within weeks of a large arsenal of weapons, as Pyongyang and Tehran will soon be able to do?

If enough countries decide the answer is yes, an unprecedented round of proliferation is in store. North Korea and Iran could produce scores of bombs. Japan and China could make thousands. Taiwan and South Korea, who have already tried to obtain nuclear weapons at least once, might try again. Saudi Arabia—reported to have bankrolled Pakistan’s program—might counter Iran’s increased nuclear ambiguity by asking Islamabad for help. In fact, so long as Pakistan retains so-called control of the nuclear weapons it might station on Saudi soil, Riyadh can claim it is in compliance with the NPT.5 Egyptian security experts, meanwhile, are also openly discussing the need to acquire a nuclear weapons option. Noting how little the United States has done to counter North Korea, India, or Pakistan, they are fully supportive of the Egyptian energy minister’s plans to emulate Syria’s announced scheme to build a nuclear desalinization plant with Russian help.6

In addition, Libya, according to Israel, is developing a weapons program with Iraqi nuclear scientists’ help.7 Then there is Algeria—a country that a decade ago was caught building a large covert research reactor in a remote, heavily defended desert location.8 Finally, Turkey has made it clear that it expects NATO and the European Union to back Turkey’s security vigorously (with sanctions against Iran and explicit nuclear guarantees for Turkey if need be) if Iran continues its proliferation activities, as expected. Whether or not Ankara will draw nearer to Israel and seek nuclear cooperative ties with it if Europe rebuffs Turkey, as Europe has done in the past, remains unclear.9

Would any of these states actually give nuclear help to groups such as al Qaeda or Hamas? One has to hope the answer is no. Still, there is good reason to fear that several of these states, once they were suspected of having or actually acquired nuclear arms, would be more inclined to give terrorist organizations safe harbor since, unlike Afghanistan, they would then have the nuclear insurance needed to keep the United States and its allies at bay.

The result, 10-15 years hence, would be a world crowded not only with hostile, suspected nuclear states but also with nuclearized friends—who, when the United States needed their help, would tend, like France, to go their own way. Rather than stability, this world would foment more diplomatic and military intrigue than any bureaucracy could ever hope to reign in—a global l914, spring-loaded to go nuclear.

This is a future worth avoiding and helps explain why North Korea’s violation of the NPT demands attention now. The question is how.

Don’t Bomb, Don’t Grovel

The two most frequently discussed options for addressing Pyongyang’s nuclear misdeeds are either striking its nuclear facilities or giving it the mutual nonaggression pact and the reestablishment of the Agreed Framework it is demanding in exchange for a pledge of some form of nuclear self-restraint. Each option is simple enough. Each has its backers. Neither, however, should be pursued.

Certainly, targeting North Korea’s known bomb-making facilities makes no sense. It not only risks a more frightening North Korean counterstrike against South Korea’s own reactors but also a complete breakdown of our security relations with Tokyo and Seoul. Bombing what we can target also leaves Pyongyang with what we cannot—one or more covert bombs and a set of hidden uranium-weapons plants that could provide the material for several more bombs a year.

On the other hand, giving Pyongyang the mutual nonaggression pact it craves—one that would recognize and treat it as the United States’ equal—would only confirm to the world’s nuclear wannabes, starting with Iran, that going nuclear wins you what you want. Pyongyang, after all, is not just pleading out of fear. It hopes that if it can make Washington formally agree that North Korea is no longer a military threat, South Korean support for stationing U.S. troops on the Korean Peninsula will implode and Pyongyang’s hand in negotiating the terms of Korean unification would be strengthened.

Nuclear inspections might sound appealing, but in North Korea, where the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has hardly gone much further than its first inspections in l992, they would have far less of a chance at success than what the IAEA and other UN inspectors with UNSCOM and UNMOVIC might have achieved over the last three decades in Iraq. Put aside that Pyongyang has publicly rejected the idea of ever allowing the IAEA to complete the inspections it was blocked from carrying out more than a decade ago. Ignore that North Korea has scorned Iraq for having committed the grave error of submitting itself to intrusive UN inspections.10 Gloss over the United States’ lack of information about the location of its uranium-bomb-making facilities or weapons plutonium. The fact is that, unless Pyongyang has a major change of heart and gives up its tyrannical ambitions to unify the peninsula under its military control, there is no way to be sure that it has surrendered all of its hidden nuclear assets. Although we must demand that Pyongyang accept intrusive IAEA inspections, we must also recognize that without a North Korea eager to prove that it is out of the bomb-making business, inspections will never find what they must to force Pyongyang to disarm.11

What, then, should we do? Pyongyang might make more nuclear weapons.12 It may export its nuclear capabilities; North Koreans recently were sighted at Iran’s uranium-enrichment plants.13 It might fire nuclear-capable rockets over its neighbors. All of these threats are real. None, however, is worth jeopardizing the U.S. alliances with Japan and South Korea, which is exactly what the United States will risk if it starts a war that is unwinnable without them. Each of the threats, moreover, can be mitigated if the United States and its friends act now to rein in Pyongyang.

How? First, the United States must continue to protect its troops and allies. Second, the United States must stop helping the North Korean military. In February, Japan’s foreign minister pleaded with the United Nations to do more to block Pyongyang’s illicit drug exports to Japan. This trade, which violates international strictures against selling drugs, is conducted entirely by North Korea’s military and annually nets it several hundred million dollars in hard currency. Pyongyang spends a good portion of this money to acquire foreign parts and technology that it still needs to complete its two unfinished military reactors, its uranium-bomb plants, and its long-range missiles. North Korea’s share of the Japanese illicit drug market is estimated to be approaching 50 percent.14

Meanwhile, there are Seoul’s cash transfers. Hyundai, South Korea’s most subsidized entity and the largest corporate sponsor of Seoul’s “sunshine” policy, is reported to have funneled $1.68 billion directly to Pyongyang. North Korea, in turn, has used this cash to feed its modernizing military.15 Like lax anti-drug enforcement, letting these cash payoffs continue is not only cynical, it is dangerous.

The United States, unfortunately, is culpable as well. It is helping North Korea construct two large power reactors. Each of these plants is capable of making more than 50 bombs worth of near weapons-grade plutonium in the first 15 months of operation.16 President Bill Clinton promised these reactors in 1994 to persuade North Korea to comply with the NPT. Earlier this year, North Korea withdrew from the treaty and was condemned by the IAEA’s Board of Governors for violating it. Yet, construction of the reactors and the sharing of nuclear technology—all useful to train the next generation of North Korean bomb makers—continues.

Washington’s diplomats, still anxious to reach some agreement with Pyongyang, want to retain the option of completing these plants. The result is growing suspicion abroad that Washington is less interested in enforcing the NPT than in finding a way to paper over its nuclear differences with Pyongyang.

As with Iraq, which defied the NPT and now is banned from receiving so-called peaceful nuclear technology, Pyongyang’s nuclear cheating should also disqualify it from possessing nuclear reactors. The White House, however, has yet to announce publicly that it is unwilling to waive the U.S. Atomic Energy Act, which forbids the United States from giving nuclear goods to NPT violators. Encouraged by this silence, South Korea and Japan continue to build the reactors, hoping that Washington might still ship the U.S. parts and technology needed to finish them.17

What else helps Pyongyang modernize its military power base? Counterfeiting, skimming from gambling operations in Japan, and selling ballistic missiles and related technology to whoever will buy them. Together, these rackets earn its military hundreds of millions of dollars a year.18 Improved law enforcement in the region, with assistance from the United States, like-minded countries, and the United Nations could help curb this trade, as would passage of proposed and pending measures in Japan.

These steps, of course, will not eliminate the North Korean nuclear threat. Nor can they entirely preclude Pyongyang from making additional fissile material for nuclear weapons or selling its nuclear capabilities. But they should alert other would-be bomb makers—who have already misread the U.S. silence and are now chomping at the bit—that there is a price for violating the NPT and no reward for going nuclear.

These steps also do not rule out the possibility of diplomacy and negotiations. But they will take certain things off the table—nonaggression pacts and reactors—that should not be there. At the same time, acting on these measures now should make it easier to insist, as the United States must, that North Korea be deprived of any new benefits until it proves to the IAEA and the world that it is entirely out of the bomb-making business. Finally, if Pyongyang continues to misbehave, implementing these measures should put the United States and its allies in a much better position to garner broader support to do more—something paying tribute or attacking militarily now would all but rule out.

A Nonproliferation Regime With Teeth

Pursuing these measures against Pyongyang should help make it clear that violating the NPT bears a price. None, however, will be sufficient to check North Korea if it decides to export its nuclear capabilities. Against this possibility, nothing less than an international interdiction effort against Pyongyang will do. Unfortunately, convincing China and Russia to join in singling out Pyongyang might not be easy.

This recommends a different strategy, one that is country-neutral but has enforcement mechanisms. Instead of targeting countries, this approach would ban dangerous proliferation activities. Unlike existing proliferation limits, however, this one would actually authorize states to act to assure adherence.

Such a regime should first focus on what everyone ought to agree should be banned: the deployment of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons outside of one’s borders. Such a ban would be hard to argue against. North Korea, after all, is not the only country that needs minding. Iran, for instance, has announced it wants to share its nuclear capabilities. It also is unclear what, if any, of his chemical arsenal Saddam Hussein might have redeployed to other countries for safekeeping.19

To address these concerns, the UN Security Council should authorize states to board and inspect any vessel or vehicle if there is reason to believe they are carrying weapons of mass destruction. This should be done with the permission of the country of origin or the flag carrier nation if possible, but without it if not. Like Great Britain and its interdiction of the slave trade in the l800s, the United Nations must make it clear that redeploying weapons of mass destruction to other states is too reprehensible to allow the perpetrators of such actions the protection of international law.

Assuming UN agreement could be reached on this limited ban, other dangerous items, such as the unique ingredients needed to make chemical and nuclear weapons, might be added. But initially, the proposal should not be burdened with such issues. The debate over just a nuclear weapons redeployment ban would be large enough.

Should past arms deployments, such as the U.S. stationing of nuclear weapons in Germany, be reversed? If foreign deployment of chemical, nuclear, or biological weapons is banned, should countries still be allowed to share the means to make such weapons? How should the lines be drawn between safe and dangerous weapons-related activities and materials? Is it sensible to allow states such as Iran to acquire all the so-called civilian facilities necessary to arrive within weeks of having a large arsenal of nuclear weapons? Is it reasonable to ask other countries to forgo acquiring weapons of mass destruction unless the states that have them reduce their own security reliance on them? How far might regime change in Iraq, Iran, and North Korea go to obviate other states’ will to proliferate?

All of these questions and more are sure to be raised by a proposal to toughen existing nonproliferation rules. The United States and its friends, however, should welcome such debate. Indeed, if the final outcome of taking North Korea’s violation of the NPT seriously is to reopen these issues and finally put teeth into the weapons restraints that international security requires, the tight spot Pyongyang now has the United States and its allies in will only serve to assure that Washington and its friends avoid much bigger crises later.


1. See, Glenn Kessler, “N. Korea Says It Has Nuclear Arms: At Talks with U.S. Pyongyang Threatens ‘Demonstration’ or Export of Weapon,” The Washington Post, April 25, 2003, p. A1.

2. Although conventions on chemical and biological weapons already prohibit states from producing or stockpiling chemical or biological weapons, at least 20 countries are believed to possess such weapons, including states that have signed one or both of the conventions.

3. Pyongyang has a sovereign right to withdraw from the NPT. It is still liable, however, for any violations committed before its withdrawal.

4. Howard French, “North Korea Says Its Arms Will Deter U.S. Attack,” The New York Times, April 7, 2003.

5. The NPT (see articles I and II) allows countries to accept nuclear weapons on their soil (as NATO and Warsaw Pact countries did from the United States and Russia, respectively) so long as they stay under the control of the nation that redeployed them. A nonweapons member to the NPT can even accept such “controlled” weapons from states (e.g., Pakistan) that are not members of the NPT. This point has not been lost on either the Pakistanis or Saudis. See Patrick Clawson, “Nuclear Proliferation in the Middle East: Who Is Next After Iran?” A presentation at The Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, April 2003, available at http://www.npec-web.org/project/clawson; Richard Russell, “A Saudi Nuclear Option?” Survival, 43, no. 2 (Summer 2001), p. 75; Global Security.org, “Saudi Arabia Special Weapons,” available at http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/saudi/; Anthony H. Cordesman, “The Evolving Threat from Weapons of Mass Destruction in the Middle East,” hosted by the U.S. State Department.

6. Emily Landau, “Egypt’s Nuclear Dilemma,” Strategic Assessment, 5, no. 3 (November 2002); Andrew Jack and Stephan Fiddler, “Russia in Talks to Build Syrian Nuclear Reactor,” Financial Times, January 15, 2003; Yotam Feldner, “Egypt Rethinks Its Nuclear Program, Parts I, II, and III,” MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis Series (l18, 119, and 120), January 17 and 22, 2003.

7. Ross Dunn, “Libya Leads Arab Race for Nuclear Bomb—Sharon,” Sydney Morning Herald, September 6, 2002.

8. David Albright and Corey Hinderstein, “Algeria: Big Deal in the Desert,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 57, no. 3 (May/June 2001), pp. 45-52; M. Gonzales and J. M. Laraya, “Spanish Intelligence Warns of Algerian Nuclear Potential,” El Pais, August 23, l998, available at http://www.fas.org/news/algeria/fbis-tac-98-235.htm.

9. See Clawson, “Nuclear Proliferation in the Middle East.”

10. Sang-Hun Choe, “North Korea Views to Prohibit UN Inspections,” Associated Press, April 12, 2003; BBC, “North Korea Rejects Nuclear Checks,” December 4, 2002.

11. Nautilus Institute’s April 11, 2003, reprint of three reports from the Korean Central News Agency and Nodong Sinmun, “Military-First Ideology Is and Ever Victorious Invincible Banner for Our Era’s Cause of Independence,” available at http://www.nautilus.org/pub/ftp/napsnet/special_reports/MilitaryFirstDPRK.txt.

12. “Beyond the Agreed Framework: The DPRK’s Projected Atomic Bomb Making Capabilities, 2002-2009,” available at www.npec-web.org/pages/fissile.htm.

13. Glenn Kessler, “Group Alleges New Nuclear Site in Iran,” The Washington Post, February 20, 2003, p. A31; Joby Warrick and Glenn Kessler, “Iran’s Nuclear Program Speeds Ahead,” The Washington Post, March 10, 2003, p. A1.

14. Mari Yamasuchi, “North Korea Plying Its Drugs in Japan,” Associated Press, March 4, 2003, reprinted in The Washington Times, March 14, 2003. See also Jamie Tarabay, “Australia Charges N. Korean Ship’s Crew in Drug Case, The Washington Post, April 22, 2003, p. A15; Jay Solomon, “Heroin Busts Point to Source of Funds for North Koreans,” The Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2003, p. A1.

15. Jay Solomon and Hae Won Choi, “How Hyundai’s Quest for Ties to North Korea Worked to Its Detriment,” The Asian Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2003, p. A1.

16. “The Special Problem of the Beginning-of-Life and End-of-Life Fuel Discharges” in Verifying the Agreed Framework, Michael May, ed., (Lawrence Livermore, CA: Center for Global Security Research, April 2001), pp. 49-50, 64-65. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory estimated that 330 kilograms of more than 80 percent plutonium 239 would be produced during the first 15 months of normal operation of a 1-gigawatt light-water reactor.

17. Seoul’s and Tokyo’s commercial motivations to continue construction of the reactors include redemption of more than $3 billion in public bond offerings, Korean corporate welfare, and a desire to demonstrate Korea Electric Power Company’s ability to build and export reactors to less-developed nations.

18. Matthew Engel, “Drugs and Forgery Sustain North Korean Economy,” The Guardian, January 20, 2003; Daniel Cooney, “Many North Korea Exports Go to Black Market,” Associated Press, April 11, 2003; Nicholas Eberstadt, “A Turn of the Screw,” Time Asia, February 28, 2003.

19. “Syria’s Role: Fierce Words, Tied Hands,” The Economist, April 5, 2003, p. 28.


Henry Sokolski is executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center in Washington, D.C., and author of The Best of Intentions: America’s Campaign Against Strategic Weapons Proliferation (Praeger, 2001).


Steering Between Red Lines: A South Korean View

Haksoon Paik

South Koreans have worried for months that a war between the United States and North Korea was imminent, awaiting only the conclusion of the U.S.-led military campaign against Iraq. They have asked what South Korea can do to avert a war and obtain a peaceful and negotiated resolution of the North Korean nuclear problem. Most urgently, they have asked what should be done to initiate a dialogue and prevent North Korea or the United States from crossing red lines—taking steps that will prompt the other side to retaliate strongly, including the use of military force.

So, even though Seoul was disappointed to be excluded, there was widespread relief in South Korea when the United States and North Korea sat down to talks hosted by China April 23-25. The trilateral talks in Beijing turned out to be half success and half failure. North Korea “set forth a bold new proposal” for the settlement of the nuclear issue1 but admitted that it had nuclear arms and claimed to have nearly completed reprocessing plutonium from more than 8,000 spent fuel rods at Yongbyon.2

Emotions in South Korea have shifted as people have learned more about what went on in talks: from disappointment over North Korea’s admission of its nuclear arsenal and reprocessing claims3 to a more positive outlook after North Korea’s offers and demands in the Beijing talks were disclosed. These developments indicate the difficult nature of the problem and how discouraging and time-consuming it will be to try to end the nuclear standoff, with brief periods of hope interspersed with much longer episodes of mistrust and confrontation. They also indicate that the new South Korean government will face problems gathering accurate intelligence as well as policy challenges in shaping its approach to Pyongyang.

This article will explain South Korea’s objectives in dealing with the North Korean nuclear problem and the domestic and external constraints Seoul faces in achieving its policy objectives. It will also examine what Pyongyang has offered and demanded in the Beijing trilateral talks and the hurdles that lie ahead for the South Korean government on the path toward a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Finally, policy recommendations for the South Korean, U.S., and North Korean governments are proposed.

South Korea’s Objectives

South Korea’s objectives in dealing with the North Korean nuclear problem are to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons and to secure a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. The new Roh government has put forth three principles in dealing with the North Korean nuclear problem: zero tolerance for North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, a peaceful resolution of the situation through dialogue, and South Korea’s active role in solving it.4

A more immediate and specific goal for South Korea has been to prevent North Korea and the United States from crossing each other’s red lines. The United States and South Korea have not officially specified what actions would constitute such a step in order to maintain flexibility in responding to contingencies. South Korean and U.S. officials, however, have indicated that North Korea would cross the line if it begins reprocessing plutonium from spent fuel rods at the radiochemical laboratory in Yongbyon. Plutonium reprocessing would mean North Korea has clearly decided to develop nuclear weapons, because it is an activity that serves no purpose in its civilian nuclear power generation. In addition, if North Korea were to develop a nuclear weapons arsenal, it would almost certainly trigger a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia, undermining the fundamental security interests of South Korea, Japan, the United States, China, and Russia.

The United States, on the other hand, will cross North Korea’s red line if it places UN sanctions or additional sanctions of its own on North Korea. Such a step would likely provoke a drastic reaction from Pyongyang: the North Korean crisis is at root an economic crisis, and North Korea has repeatedly declared that it would regard any sanctions as an act of war, voiding the armistice treaty that has been the foundation of maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula since the end of the Korean War.5

To be sure, the likelihood of a war in Korea is quite slim.6 For President Roh, however, avoiding such a conflict has become almost an obsession; he has refused to contemplate or even give lip service to the possibility of war on the Korean Peninsula. His behavior appears to have been based on two strategic calculations. First, that the United States cannot override the South Korean government’s opposition to a war in Korea, and secondly, that a refusal even to consider a war will most effectively prevent a conflict from breaking out.

In this vein, it is noteworthy that Roh explained his decision to dispatch South Korean military engineering and medical units to help the U.S.-led war efforts in Iraq by saying that “extending help to the United States in time of adversity and solidifying Korea-U.S. relations” is “far more helpful to resolving the North Korean nuclear problem peacefully.”7

Domestic Constraints

The South Korean government faces a serious domestic division over how to deal with North Korea and the nuclear problem. This division has much to do with political and ideological fault lines within South Korea and even Roh’s own political base. These divisions reflect different views of how to balance the importance of inter-Korean relations against relations between South Korea and the United States.

Those internal political and ideological divisions most recently surfaced in an unprecedented National Assembly debate on a resolution authorizing the dispatch of engineering and medical troops to Iraq. The vote was 179 in favor of the dispatch and 68 against, with 9 abstentions.8 Particularly noteworthy was that almost half of the legislators of the governing Millennium Democratic Party who were present voted against the resolution, despite a personal appeal from Roh. The president had to rely for most of his support on the conservative opposition Grand National Party, which strongly supported the measure.

The fact that this vote did not fall strictly along traditional party lines indicates that Roh faces a complex and tricky future in trying to steer between U.S. demands and his own political base when it comes to North Korea. He also faces pressures from civic groups that aided him in his recent election. South Koreans’ national pride, amply demonstrated during and since the presidential election last year,9 tends to defy what they see as unjust and unfair foreign intervention, including heavy-handed policies by the United States toward North Korea, and will constrain the scope of Roh’s actions in a serious way. At the same time, South and North Korea are fundamentally competing authorities in a divided Korea, engaged in a rivalry for the loyalty of the Korean people.

In addition to the difficulty of obtaining a national consensus on how to strike a balance between inter-Korean national cooperation and the South Korean-U.S. alliance, a more serious problem is the lack of communication between those who uphold nationalistic ideas of inter-Korean cooperation and those who advocate a South Korean-U.S. alliance in dealing with North Korea.

North Korea’s confusing behavior has complicated the problem further. Although it demanded that Seoul give inter-Korean cooperation greater emphasis than cooperation with the United States, North Korea blocked South Korea from participating in the aforementioned multilateral dialogue to be held in Beijing.10  North Korea then followed this rebuke to Seoul the next day by requesting food and fertilizer assistance from South Korea.11 North Korea’s self-contradictory and cold water-throwing behavior of this kind poses an additional challenge for Roh in conducting his North Korea policy and nuclear diplomacy.

External Constraints

There are several external constraints for the South Korean government in dealing with the North Korean nuclear problem. First, North Korea lacks trust in the United States, particularly after President George W. Bush’s “axis of evil” statement in his 2002 State of the Union address, the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and last year’s U.S. national strategy document calling for efforts to change regimes if necessary to remove weapons of mass destruction from rogue states.

That was not only the bit of Bush rhetoric that rankled Pyongyang. For instance, Bush’s declaration to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward that he “loathed” North Korean leader Kim Jong Il12 indicates that it will not be easy for Bush to develop a working relationship with Kim even if dialogue begins between Washington and Pyongyang for a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the North Korean nuclear problem.

North Korea has also grown more distrustful of South Korea’s handling of inter-Korean relations, as demonstrated by its decisions to postpone the North-South Korean ministers’ talks until late April and exclude South Korea from the multilateral dialogue to be held in Beijing.

At the same time, the United States’ complete lack of trust in North Korea also represents a serious constraint for Seoul. North Korea violated the 1994 Agreed Framework, withdrew from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and even admitted in the Beijing talks that it possessed nuclear weapons and was completing the process of extracting weapons-grade plutonium from spent fuel rods. Whatever the explanation, these actions have strengthened U.S. distrust in North Korea and emboldened hardliners opposed to negotiations.13

Meanwhile, in order for Seoul’s views to receive more credence in the United States, South Korea will have to overcome continued U.S. concerns about Roh. The South Korean president’s image in Washington has improved greatly since his decision to dispatch military units to Iraq, but Roh does not only have to convince U.S. government officials. He also faces pressure from international investors worried about war and U.S-South Korean tensions. Only five years after a major financial crisis battered the South Korean economy, Roh is deeply concerned that a worsening of the nuclear standoff, let alone a military confrontation, will sap the strength of the South Korean economy.

Taken together, the pressure from government and business circles in the United States is encouraging Roh to pursue policies to tamp down the crisis and soothe strains with Washington. In this regard, the first summit meeting between Roh and Bush to be held in mid-May 2003 will be a crucial opportunity for both leaders to dispel any remaining doubts.

The Beijing Talks

North Korea appears to have offered “a new bold proposal” that included a nonaggression pledge from the United States, normalization of relations between the two countries, and U.S. support for North Korean economic cooperation with South Korea and Japan. The North Korean proposal also called for compensation for the electricity loss incurred from the long-delayed construction of two light-water reactors (LWRs) called for under the 1994 Agreed Framework and the delivery of the reactors to North Korea as soon as possible. It is important to note that Pyongyang appears to have dropped the demand that the nonaggression pledge take the form of a treaty and has not demanded a new economic assistance package.

In return, North Korea would agree to dismantle its nuclear facilities and have the United States verify that it had done so. Pyongyang said that such a deal could also include suspending tests and exports of long-range ballistic missiles.

North Korea’s offer addresses all of the basic concerns and demands of the United States regarding the North Korean nuclear and missile problems. North Korea’s proposal represents a reasonable compromise that could lead to a comprehensive give-and-take and a resolution of the nuclear crisis.


The South Korean government has preferred to deal with the North Korean nuclear problem outside the UN Security Council. Seoul believes that North Korea is resistant to any discussion of the North Korean nuclear problem at the United Nations, given that North Korea believes UN discussions of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction encouraged the U.S. invasion of that country.14 So, the Roh government has proposed to work in such a way that tension would be diffused and war averted in Korea without involving the United Nations and without provoking North Korea. The multilateral format of dialogue held in Beijing caters to South Korea’s preference to solve the North Korean nuclear crisis outside the United Nations.

It appears, however, that the hurdles the South Korean government has to overcome in solving the North Korean nuclear crisis lie on both the domestic and external fronts: how to minimize domestic criticism for not having stood against or resolutely punished North Korea’s effort to develop nuclear weapons; how to make North Korea include South Korea and ensure its participation in future dialogue and negotiations at the earliest possible time; how to goad China and the United States into heeding South Korea’s interests; how to ensure that decisions reached at the end of the negotiations fairly share the burden; and above all, how to ensure that North Korea destroys its nuclear weapons and reverses its reprocessing of plutonium from the spent fuel rods (if North Korea had done so as was indicated in the April 18, 2003 statement15) or how to prevent it from reprocessing.

Another obstacle is U.S. opposition to South Korea taking a mediation role with North Korea rather than giving the straightforward support that the United States has come to expect from its ally. The Roh government has tried to ease this concern by emphasizing that South Korea is trying to contribute proactively to solving matters of common security for the common good of the United States and South Korea.

Finally, some segments in the South Korean political and civil societies, mostly conservative presses and opposition politicians, tend to echo the arguments and demands of the neoconservative elements in the United States. This reflects the political and ideological division in South Korean society, but it could also unintentionally serve the purpose of raising tension on the Korean Peninsula.

Policy Suggestions

The dialogue and negotiations for a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the North Korean nuclear problem has now become a more complex and time-consuming process after the unsuccessful multilateral talks in Beijing. The problems involved, including the lack of trust between the two countries, are complicated and deep-rooted, and there are other important pending issues to be solved between the United States and North Korea besides the nuclear issue. In addition, an increase in the number of the states involved in negotiations will make talks more complicated.

A wide range of policy options and instruments should be considered for a comprehensive solution of the North Korean nuclear problem, but a few suggestions should be considered by the South Korean, U.S., and North Korean governments.

First, the United States should treat North Korea’s demands and offers at the Beijing talks very positively and put forth its own demands and offers in the same constructive spirit. In addition, South Korea should encourage both the United States and North Korea to proactively accommodate each other’s demands and offers.

Second, North Korea must give up its nuclear bombs and must not reprocess plutonium from the spent fuel rods and test fire long-range ballistic missiles, however bumpy the path of negotiations lying ahead might be. If North Korea has developed nuclear weapons, it must dismantle them. If North Korea has already reprocessed plutonium, it must agree to transfer it to a third country under IAEA supervision. All these should be accomplished through good-faith negotiations that take into account the security concerns of all of the countries involved.

Third, the United States and South Korea should jointly make clear that they will not tolerate North Korea possessing nuclear bombs or reprocessing plutonium. If North Korea does not cooperate in giving them up, it should be given an unequivocal warning that such an act would demonstrate that North Korea is abandoning efforts to improve its relationship with the outside world, hastening its own collapse. The United States should also start preparing a series of contingency measures in order to avoid a worst-case scenario.

Fourth, Washington should refrain from imposing additional sanctions of any kind on Pyongyang before exhausting non-sanction options. South Korea should make sure that any sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council or by the United States be preceded by substantial dialogue between the United States and North Korea. Sanctions will end any chance of dialogue and will not be easy to revoke once applied.

Fifth, the United States should accept that, even though the U.S.-North Korea dialogue might take place within a multilateral framework, bilateral discussions must take center stage. North Korea should not continue to exclude South Korea from participating in the multilateral dialogue, however, and South Korea should make clear that if its participation in a future dialogue is not guaranteed at the earliest possible time, its cooperation will be limited because of domestic political reasons.

Finally, South Korea and the United States should each establish a special North Korea policy coordinator. An individual of high caliber with proven negotiation experience should be appointed and given comprehensive negotiating power. Policy coordination between South Korea, the United States, and Japan is needed more than ever for a successful resolution of the nuclear crisis.


1. “DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman on U.S. attitude toward DPRK-U.S. talks,” Korean Central News Agency, April 25, 2003.

2. Kessler, Glenn. “N. Korea Says It Has Nuclear Arms,” The Washington Post, April 25, 2003, p. A1.

3. David E. Sanger, “North Korea Says It Now Possesses Nuclear Arsenal,” The New York Times, April 24, 2003.

4. “Explanation of the Peace and Prosperity Policy,” Ministry of Unification, Republic of Korea, March 10, 2003.

5. “Spokesman for Panmunjom Mission of Korean People’s Army Issues Statement,” Korean Central News Agency, Feb. 19, 2003; “South Korean ‘National Assembly’s’ Argument about ‘Sanctions’ Failed,” Korean Central News Agency, April 7, 2003.

6. There are several reasons for this. On the U.S. side, President George W. Bush does not appear to want to take politically foolish measures to further split public opinion at home and estrange friends and allies abroad after the war in Iraq. Nor does he seem to want to have another war with North Korea, whose geopolitical environment and topography are vastly different from those of Iraq. It is also clear that several U.S. Army divisions will have to be tied to Iraq for a considerable period of time. Furthermore, Bush has to have an economic recovery at home more than anything else for his re-election next year. On the other hand, North Korea has begun to accommodate new developments in international politics. A military confrontation with the United States would mean a beginning of the collapse of the North Korean regime. Against this backdrop, North Korea decided to accept a multilateral format of dialogue, which the United States has demanded. The April 18 announcement on reprocessing plutonium is yet to be confirmed.

7. Address by President Roh Moo-hyun at the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, April 2, 2003.

8. Minutes No. 1 of the Plenary Session of the 238th National Assembly of the Republic of Korea, April 2, 2003.

9. Roh Moo-hyun’s victory in the presidential election in December 2002 was seen to symbolize a rebirth of national pride in South Korea. South Koreans chose Roh as their leader in an effort to continue national reconciliation with North Korea, show support for a negotiated resolution of the North Korean nuclear problem, and stop perceived unfair U.S. treatment of the Korean people, as was demonstrated in the huge candlelight protest against two girls’ death by a U.S. armored vehicle in June 2002. In contrast, his contester, Lee Hoi-chang of the Grand National Party, was viewed as pro-American during the presidential campaign.

10. Yonhap News Agency, April 16, 2003.

11. Yonhap News Agency, April 17, 2003.

12. Bob Woodward, Bush at War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002), p. 340.

13. David E. Sanger, “Administration Divided Over North Korea,” The New York Times, April 21, 2003, p. A15.

14. “Statement of Foreign Ministry Spokesman Blasts U.N. Security Council’s Discussion of Korean Nuclear Issue,” Korean Central News Agency, April 7, 2003.

15. As of April 25, 2003, there is not enough evidence that North Korea has been reprocessing plutonium except the country’s announcement to that effect.

Haksoon Paik is director of the Inter-Korean Relations Studies Program at the Sejong Institute in Korea, an independent think tank devoted to the research of security, unification, and foreign policy issues for the development of South Korea’s national strategy.



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