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I salute the Arms Control Association … for its keen vision of the goals ahead and for its many efforts to identify and to promote practical measures that are so vitally needed to achieve them. -

– Amb. Nobuyasu Abe
Former UN Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs
January 28, 2004
North Korea

Intelligence Agencies Clarify North Korea's Nuclear Capabilities

Paul Kerr

As U.S. diplomats move closer to restarting talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, intelligence analyses recently made public shed new light on Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities and political stability. In unclassified responses provided to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence earlier this year and made public by the Federation of American Scientists Oct. 31, intelligence officials say North Korea has attained a nuclear weapons capability without conducting a nuclear test. They also portray the Kim Jong Il regime as more stable than some Bush administration officials have indicated.

The CIA response, dated Aug. 18, said that “North Korea has produced one or two simple fission-type nuclear weapons and has validated the designs without conducting yield-producing nuclear tests.” Noting “press reports” that North Korea has conducted tests with conventional high explosives, the report added that such tests allow the North Koreans to verify their weapons designs. “There is no information to suggest that North Korea has conducted a successful nuclear test to date,” the CIA stated.

The CIA also observed that “conducting a nuclear test would be one option” for North Korea “to further escalate tensions and heighten regional fears in a bid to press Washington to negotiate” on Pyongyang’s terms. The report, however, added that North Korea “appears to view ambiguity regarding its nuclear capabilities as providing a tactical advantage,” noting that a nuclear weapons test could produce “an international backlash and further isolation.”

On the question of a suspected North Korean nuclear arsenal, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) response, dated June 30, stated that “North Korea has produced one, possibly two nuclear weapons.” Although a 2001 National Intelligence Estimate says the intelligence community reached the same conclusion in the mid-1990s, the intelligence community’s assessment of this question has at times varied. For example, a January 2003 CIA report to Congress stated that “North Korea probably has produced enough plutonium for at least one, and possibly two, nuclear weapons.”

North Korea has said it possesses nuclear weapons and has issued apparent threats to test them. (See ACT, November 2003.) Pyongyang’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ri Yong Ho, told Reuters Nov. 7 that his country possesses a workable nuclear device.

Two intelligence agencies also addressed the question of North Korea’s stability. The Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research stated in its April 30 response that it does not “perceive [North Korea’s] collapse as imminent.” Similarly, the DIA asserted that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s “hold on power appears secure” and that the regime showed no indications of collapse from a declining economy.

Such assessments stand in contrast to Bush administration officials who have expressed the belief that economic pressure will induce Pyongyang to comply with administration demands that it dismantle its nuclear programs. For example, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz argued in May that North Korea “is teetering on the edge of economic collapse” and that this weakness “is a major point of leverage” for the United States and its allies.

 

 

 

 

 

As U.S. diplomats move closer to restarting talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, intelligence analyses recently made public shed new light on...

North Korea and Iran: Test Cases for an Improved Nonproliferation Regime?

Joseph Cirincione and Jon B. Wolfsthal

If Iran and North Korea acquire nuclear arsenals, their weapons will present obvious and direct dangers to the United States, its troops, its allies, and regional and global stability. Yet, the current standoffs with Tehran and Pyongyang also represent an opportunity—a chance to fill in important gaps in the nonproliferation regime. Taking advantage of this opportunity will require near-term fixes to deal with Tehran and Pyongyang and longer-term solutions to prevent other states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) from following similar paths. But by doing so, the Bush administration can chart a course that will lead to enhanced security in the 21st century.

The most promising way to keep North Korea and Iran from developing nuclear weapons is the effective, forceful, and determined use of the full range of nonproliferation tools, ranging from diplomacy to the threat of international sanctions and use of force. The norm of nonproliferation remains strong if not absolute, and the use of traditional nonproliferation approaches that have stood the test of time remain viable for addressing these current crises. Moreover, several of the motivations both states have to pursue nuclear weapons can be affected by concerted action by the United States and its allies. Although Washington may not hold all the cards, the means to affect the security of both states for better or for worse exist and can be applied to moderate their interest in going nuclear.

Still, the type of nuclear challenge posed by these two states has not been nor is likely to be fully prevented over the long term using only existing nonproliferation-regime mechanisms. This requires initiatives that go beyond the regime as currently defined. The two cases, aside from their immediate impact, shed new light on long-standing gaps within the regime.

Article IV: A Gap in the Regime?


Chief among these is that the NPT permits non-nuclear-weapon states to acquire technology that can create both the ingredients for nuclear weapons, namely highly enriched uranium and plutonium, and the lower-grade fuels needed for civilian nuclear reactors. As a condition, the NPT requires that any produced or processed uranium or plutonium, regardless of quality, be accounted for and placed under “safeguards,” that is, subject to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This system is supposed to serve as an alarm system but cannot and was never intended to physically prevent misuse of material.

Indeed, the NPT explicitly seeks to make such technology available to non-nuclear-weapon states. The preamble to the NPT affirms that “the benefits of peaceful applications of nuclear technology…should be available for peaceful purposes to all Parties of the Treaty.” Article IV of the NPT describes this as an “inalienable right” to all nuclear fuel-cycle technologies including “the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information.” Article IV was an essential provision in the “Grand Bargain” that convinced key non-nuclear-weapon states to accept the nuclear constraints of the NPT and has helped foster the near universal acceptance of the pact.

Yet, by allowing non-nuclear-weapon states to import nuclear technologies that can be used to build nuclear weapons, the NPT (and its predecessor, the “Atoms for Peace Program” [see page 26]), Article IV has also made it possible for states to use peaceful nuclear programs as a cover for weapons programs. North Korea’s and Iran’s misuse of these provisions, in particular, threatens to undercut the viability of the nuclear nonproliferation regime and the entire system of international nuclear commerce. Is this a permanent state of affairs? Can sovereign states possess or pursue facilities that by their nature inherently present a threat to the security interests of their neighbors? Under what conditions can such facilities be made benign or less threatening? As the United States and its allies move to reinforce the regime and adapt it to the new insecurities of this era, these are only a few of the fundamental questions that must be addressed.

Some States Are More Equal than Others


Clearly, all states are not equal when we examine the potential security risk they might pose in possessing such facilities. Nuclear-weapon states that operate commercial enrichment or reprocessing facilities represent the lowest category of concern, as long as they maintain facility and material security at high international standards. A country with a nuclear weapons infrastructure has little or no incentive to appropriate safeguarded materials.

On the other hand, non-nuclear-weapon states with uranium-enrichment or plutonium-production and extraction capabilities represent at least a potential concern. Yet, context matters. States with potential incentives to acquire nuclear weapons, due to their location, regional instability, or leadership, present a greater concern than states fully integrated into the international political, diplomatic, and economic systems. Iran and North Korea clearly fit into the highest category of concern, just as Japan, Belgium, and Germany are a lesser worry.

Still, even “safe” states present more concern than states without any means of nuclear material production. Japan’s pursuit of an independent nuclear energy supply in the 1970s, for example, began a long-running debate between advocates and opponents of plutonium reprocessing, focused on concerns that Japan was either secretly interested in building nuclear weapons or at least had the potential for doing so by creating a plutonium-based fuel economy. These fears lay dormant for many years but have been recently revived by concern that North Korea’s nuclear weapons drive could prompt a reciprocal move from Japan. East Asia also has the examples of previous attempts by Taiwan and South Korea to misuse research reactors for weapons purposes—efforts that the United States clamped down on bilaterally but that left the systemic gaps in the nonproliferation regime unaddressed.

Fixing the Problems in Article IV

Although the seeds of the conflict are built into the NPT itself, changes to that agreement are not the answer. Amending the NPT would be impractical and inadvisable, but other mechanisms can and should be developed to reduce national control over materials and facilities that can be used to advance nuclear weapons capabilities. At least two areas of promising efforts exist: internationalization of the fuel cycle and fuel supply, and management guarantees.

The basic proliferation problem is not the construction and operation of a nuclear power reactor. It is what goes in and what comes out of the reactors that pose the challenge. Countries that build facilities for enriching uranium to the point needed for reactor fuel can also use those same machines and techniques to continue enriching the uranium to the point where it can be used for nuclear weapons. The plutonium-bearing spent fuel can be chemically treated, or reprocessed, to separate plutonium from unwanted radioactive waste by-products. The resulting plutonium can be used in reactors or in nuclear weapons.

Obviously, the greatest barrier to the misuse of enrichment or reprocessing facilities is for them not to exist in the first place. On the other end of the spectrum, the greatest risk of misuse comes when these capabilities are built by states that have a track record of noncompliance with IAEA safeguards or have strong incentives to acquire nuclear weapons. There are, however, some interesting possibilities for a middle ground. Facilities can be operated and controlled in a way that makes misuse impractical or politically unattractive.

Alternative Fuel-Cycle Arrangements


One potentially useful model could be private enrichment or reprocessing facilities under multilateral or international control. For example, the enrichment company Urenco has capabilities owned jointly by Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Although the company’s enrichment facilities are able to produce weapons-grade uranium, actually doing so would require the acquiescence of three countries or the seizure of existing plants by national authorities in one of the three countries. Such highly observable events would not only draw attention but provoke such sharp national and international reactions that they significantly raise the cost to taking such action. Such multilateral control does not constitute a guarantee; nonetheless, the deterrent effect of such institutional barriers may be useful if applied to facilities in some other places. Japan’s facilities present a potentially attractive candidate for such measures.

More generally, in an October interview with Arms Control Today, IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei suggested the “multilateralization of the fuel cycle.” A possible new protocol to the NPT, he said, could continue to guarantee access to nuclear technology for health, agriculture, medicine, and reactors but “would restrict the parts of the fuel cycle that create the most concern, and these are, in my view, the reprocessing and enrichment and also, possibly, a final repository where you have spent fuel with plutonium in it.”

Another approach is market based. Increased attention is now being paid to the idea of trying to create viable commercial and political alternatives to national fuel-cycle facilities for states willing to abandon domestic enrichment and reprocessing programs. One such option is guaranteed access to fresh-fuel and spent-fuel management at prices cheaper than any one nation could match. Such arrangements could go beyond simple commercial contracts and provide a broader international promise of access to supplies of fresh fuel for reactors and of management of irradiated materials.

Arrangements that pooled potential suppliers would carry greater weight and be more attractive to customers concerned about reliability of supply. Joint Russian, European, and U.S. commitments to provide fuel services would require prior development of a political and commercial consensus, but these too would need to be placed in a form that gave the client confidence in their durability. No guarantees are absolute, and the challenge is to develop a formula that gives both sides confidence that the underlying bargain—access to nuclear fuel services for abandonment of the domestic capability to produce weapons-usable materials—can be sustained.

In one model, the IAEA could act as an intermediate supplier, with material sold to it by enriching states as provided under the IAEA statute. A less complex (but by no means simple) arrangement would see the IAEA act as an auctioneer of fuel services to states, helping to ensure competitive pricing for recipient states. The IAEA could even glean much needed resources by taking a commission on sales. At present, such schemes only exist on paper. Many questions remain unanswered. It is not clear how states giving up the Article IV rights to fuel-cycle facilities would codify these commitments. Would a supplemental treaty be required or desirable? Could any of the states pull out for unrelated reasons? How would such agreements be verified? If potential violations are uncovered or alleged, could the guarantees be rescinded?

These are important long-term questions that require careful study and serious debate. In the more immediate future, however, the nuclear-weapon states, especially the United States, need to deal with North Korea’s and Iran’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons. In doing so, a balance must be maintained between immediate resolution of nonproliferation challenges and preservation and strengthening of the regime for the future. In dealing with Iran, for now there appears to be some room to maneuver, thanks to U.S. pressure and an agreement negotiated between European foreign ministers and their Iranian counterparts in October (See ACT, November 2003). In North Korea, with a repeated record of violating treaties and promises, the only solutions may rest in complete nuclear abstinence, at least until the nature of the regime, if not the regime itself, changes. Below is a broad outline of how these new concepts and arrangements could be applied to the twin crises.

Dealing with Iran and North Korea

Resolving Iran

The goal in Iran is to prevent that country’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. An Iranian nuclear program could soon be matched by similar programs in other Middle Eastern states, possibly including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Libya; and Israel would almost certainly accelerate the modernization of its nuclear deterrent. The misuse of the NPT and a new, even regional, nuclear arms race would cripple nuclear commerce globally and shatter the regime from within, forcing dozens of states to question the value and future of the agreement that has helped keep the number of nuclear-weapon states down to single digits.

Iran’s clear violations of its safeguards obligations also mean that in the future Tehran must not be permitted the means to produce weapons-usable uranium or plutonium. Otherwise, such assets would give Iran the ability at some point in the future to leave the NPT and deploy nuclear weapons. In order to obtain Iranian acquiescence to these restrictions, which go well beyond Tehran’s NPT commitments, the United States and its allies should be willing to offer Iran appropriate alternatives. In particular, offering Iran a commercially viable method of acquiring fresh fuel for its nuclear reactors and removing and disposing of the spent fuel would be a powerful lure. Russia’s plans to supply fresh fuel for Iran’s Bushehr reactor as long as Tehran guarantees that it will return any spent fuel is an appropriate example. In exchange, Iran should be required to verifiably and legally abandon its rights to develop and operate facilities to enrich uranium and produce and separate plutonium.

Developing such a plan would have several benefits. First, it would undercut the economic and energy security argument used by Iran to justify these destabilizing programs. A decision by Iran to pursue such a proposal, backed by effective verification, would begin building trust between Iran and the rest of the world, which in the end is the only way to head off long-term nuclear ambitions in Iran. Rejection of a viable plan along these lines would then lay bare Iran’s underlying ambitions to acquire advanced nuclear capabilities, allowing the international community to pursue alternatives means, which may include a mix of punitive and positive measures.

If Iran is going to remain a non-nuclear-weapon state or, at the very least, abandon the most critical facilities needed to acquire nuclear materials, it must make the decision to do so from within. There are signs that Iran is moving in this direction. Although trust remains justifiably low in Washington and European capitals, Iran’s initial steps to deepen cooperation with the IAEA and to disclose all past nuclear activities are promising.

Still, in order to enhance confidence that Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons, the United States, Europe, and Russia must press Tehran to abandon all uranium-enrichment activities, including operation and construction of pilot or commercial facilities; uranium conversion; and research, development, and construction of centrifuges and other enrichment methods. In addition, Iran must give up plans to build a proliferation-sensitive heavy-water reactor and other plutonium-production and extraction facilities. The initiative undertaken by the European foreign ministers is a promising step in this direction. In that accord, Iran pledged to sign agreements to make it easier for the agency to carry out wide-ranging inspections on its territory. Tehran also agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

Still, it is clear that the nuclear question is only one part of the long-standing problems between the United States and Iran. Historical issues aside, Tehran’s human rights record, its continued support for terrorist groups, and its opposition to the Middle East peace process make improvements in direct ties difficult. Moreover, the process of political reform in Iran and the special role that policies toward the United States play in Iranian politics complicates any broad efforts to improve the relationship. Oddly, it appears that the nuclear issue—among the most sensitive imaginable—holds out the prospects for near-term progress that could allow the two sides to build something broader in the near future.

Dealing with North Korea

In many ways, the situation in North Korea is more dangerous, immediate, and complex. However, the range of possible solutions is easier to define and determine. That North Korea is capable of building nuclear weapons is no longer in doubt, even though claims (by either the United States or North Korea) regarding its nuclear capabilities should be viewed with some skepticism. What remains in doubt and what must be addressed if any efforts to end Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions are to be successful is the desire and willingness of North Korea to negotiate a verifiable end to its nuclear weapons program. Despite more than 10 years of direct and indirect negotiations, threats, confrontations, and analysis, the United States still does not know with any certainty the answer to the question: Will North Korea eliminate all of its nuclear facilities and give up all of its nuclear materials under effective international inspection if the terms are right?

There is clear and compelling evidence to support speculation on both sides, but neither case is conclusive. Yes, North Korea cheated on its 1994 agreement with the United States to freeze its nuclear activities, but it is equally true that the United States had abandoned its efforts to normalize relations and improve ties with the North. The debate is not whether North Korea can be trusted; it clearly cannot. The questions that need to be answered are whether Pyongyang can be motivated truly to abandon its nuclear program and, if not, what outside states can do about it.

When North Korea’s nuclear program was still in its infancy, the United States, South Korea, Japan, and others could afford to wait to answer these questions. Now that the North’s program is coming of age, they cannot. In a worst-case scenario, North Korea could produce more than 100 nuclear weapons by the end of the decade. Such an arsenal not only threatens U.S. allies and troops in the region, but given North Korea’s economic strains, it is conceivable that it could be motivated to sell nuclear materials to other states or even terrorist groups if the price is right. Such a scenario is so grave that U.S. policymakers could soon face a truly appalling choice between accepting its realization or plunging into a full-fledged war on the Korean peninsula. By comparison, many negotiated settlements—no matter how distasteful—become attractive.

It is time for the United States to get serious about negotiations with the North. President George W. Bush’s October statement that he is willing to consider some form of security guarantees for North Korea was a positive step. There is enough collective experience in the United States after 10 years of efforts to know how the North negotiates and how to make progress. At a minimum, it takes time and a complex mixture of resolve and open respect for the negotiations themselves. Any mixed messages, public or otherwise, can quickly derail progress and undercut efforts at negotiations.

To test whether North Korea is prepared to eliminate its program under effective verification, the United States needs to:

· Establish a full-time and ongoing negotiating mechanism based on the six-party talks. They should be continuous, or close to it, and work to establish a fixed timeline for conclusion.
· Appoint higher-level representation for the talks, including a presidentially appointed envoy. This person must be fully committed to the negotiations and prepared and empowered to make serious progress.
· Ensure continued presidential engagement with the negotiating process and effectively impose a coordinated position in the administration (no loose statements or diatribes).
· Create a coordinated position among itself, Japan, and South Korea. The lack of a common position within the six-party talks is a major reason for its lack of progress.
· Continue to encourage Chinese engagement, with the awareness of the limits of Chinese influence over North Korea.

Lastly, the United States needs to determine what it is prepared to offer North Korea if that country is willing to terminate its nuclear program and eliminate, under effective verification, its nuclear capability. This can involve a broad mix of political, diplomatic, economic, and symbolic steps including establishment of diplomatic relations and the provision of considerable agricultural assistance. Moreover, as many have suggested, the United States should be prepared to offer more to North Korea than it did under the 1994 Agreed Framework as long as Pyongyang also agrees to do more. The nuclear issue is so pressing, however, that it should not become hostage to issues related to ballistic missiles, conventional force deployments, chemical and biological weapon programs, and human rights. The United States should work to resolve those issues but only once the nuclear question is answered.

To date, President Bush has moved from a wholesale rejection of negotiations with the North to the verge of a new set of real talks. To make progress, he must take the next step: test North Korea directly and conclusively. If a positive result materializes, the president must be willing to invest his personal prestige domestically and abroad to make and sell a deal with the North. If the result is negative, having tried the alternative, punitive options will remain viable, and broader support for confronting North Korea’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons may materialize.

Conclusion

In the 1960 presidential debates, Senator John F. Kennedy (D-Mass.) warned that, if the United States did not change its policy, there would soon be dozens of nuclear states instead of the four that then existed. Fortunately for America, Kennedy did change government policy and started the process that led to the negotiations for the NPT. Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon finished the treaty and brought into being a system that, through the cooperative work of liberals and conservatives, large nations and small, has effectively proscribed, though not completely stopped, the spread of nuclear weapons ever since. It is under a greater strain than ever before, both internally and externally. Yet, 43 years later, we have eight known nuclear-weapon states, not 20. The criticisms, justified and not, should not be allowed to overshadow this seminal success. Even as we reach to build new nonproliferation frameworks, officials have to take great care not to burn the bridges on which we now stand.

Forceful diplomacy utilizing and expanding the treaty regime has put solutions to the Iranian and North Korean crises within reach. They have also pointed the way toward a broader nonproliferation regime that can help maintain global security well into the 21st century. Doing so will require political will and the courage to lead. It is still possible, as Kennedy said, to abolish the weapons of war before they abolish us.


Joseph Cirincione is director and Jon B. Wolfsthal is deputy director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. They are authors of Deadly Arsenals: Tracking Weapons of Mass Destruction.

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KEDO Suspends Construction of Nuclear Reactors

Paul Kerr

In the latest move in the ongoing standoff over North Korea’s nuclear program, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Corporation (KEDO) has suspended construction of two light-water nuclear reactors (LWRs) it was charged with providing to Pyongyang under the 1994 Agreed Framework. KEDO’s Executive Board announced Nov. 21 that it would suspend construction of the two reactors for one year beginning Dec. 1. The suspension is in response to Pyongyang’s failure to meet “the conditions necessary for continuing the…project,” according to a statement from KEDO’s Executive Board, which is comprised of the United States, South Korea, Japan, and the European Union. The announcement came as the United States continued to consult with its allies on the terms and timetable for an anticipated second round of six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs.

The decision to suspend the project represents a compromise between the United States and the other board members. The United States had pushed to end the project altogether, but South Korea, which is funding and building the reactors along with Japan, favored a suspension, citing public support, its financial investment, and the need to continue the project if it becomes part of a settlement with North Korea. North Korea has demanded for some time that the reactors be completed as part of a settlement to the nuclear crisis. (See ACT, October 2003.) Japan has been less vocal about the rationale for its decision, but both Seoul and Tokyo have supported greater engagement with North Korea than Washington has.

Whether reactor construction will ever resume is unclear. KEDO said the project’s future “will be assessed and decided by the Executive Board before the expiration of the suspension period,” but the Bush administration believes there is “no future for the project,” Department of State spokesman Adam Ereli said Nov. 5.

KEDO indicated that the organization would continue some of its duties. “The suspension process will require preservation and maintenance both on-site and off-site. KEDO continues to consult with [North Korea] in this process,” according to the statement. The United States has not requested funding for KEDO’s administrative budget for fiscal year 2004.

The United States set up KEDO to implement the reactor project and supply 500,000 metric tons of heavy-fuel oil each year to North Korea as part of the Agreed Framework between the two countries. The Agreed Framework defused a tense standoff following the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) discovery that Pyongyang had been diverting spent fuel from its graphite-moderated nuclear reactors for a plutonium-based nuclear weapons program. It is more difficult to use LWRs to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.

In exchange for the reactors and fuel oil, North Korea agreed to freeze its operating five-megawatt nuclear reactor, along with two others under construction and their related facilities. The agreement also provided for the storage and monitoring of the reactors’ spent fuel, as well as its eventual removal. The first reactor was originally scheduled to be completed by 2003, but construction had fallen far behind schedule.

The decision to suspend the reactor project comes just more than a year after KEDO suspended shipments of heavy-fuel oil in reaction to U.S. claims that, during an October meeting with a U.S. delegation, North Korea admitted to having a clandestine uranium-enrichment program. Urnium enrichment can also be used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. (See ACT, December 2002.)

Pyongyang responded to the fuel shipments suspension by restarting its plutonium reactor and announcing its withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. North Korea has since claimed it has completed reprocessing the spent fuel and implied that it is using it to construct nuclear weapons. It is not known whether either claim is accurate. (See ACT, November 2003.)

North Korea’s initial response to KEDO’s most recent decision was more restrained. Reacting to a Nov. 4 KEDO announcement that the board was considering suspending the project, a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman argued Nov. 6 that KEDO should compensate North Korea for the reactors and said North Korea would “never allow” KEDO to remove “all the [reactor project’s] equipment, facilities, materials and technical documents.”

Ereli told reporters Nov. 6 that North Korea is obligated to allow KEDO to remove these items but did not say how the United States would respond to North Korean interference.

Next Round of Talks

Meanwhile, participants in the August six-party talks held in Beijing continued efforts to reach consensus on a date and agenda for another round of talks.

President George W. Bush said in October that the United States is willing to provide a written, multilateral assurance that the United States will not attack North Korea. However, the U.S. proposal is still being developed in consultation with the other participants. A South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman told Agence France Presse Nov. 22 that Washington and Seoul are “discussing detailed wording” of a security proposal, but the discussions are in the “early stages.”

South Korean Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan hinted at the agenda for the next round of talks, saying Nov. 18 that it will focus on “North Korea’s abandonment of its nuclear weapons program and a multilateral security guarantee for the North.”

A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman repeated Nov. 16 that Pyongyang is willing to consider Bush’s idea. North Korea had previously demanded a formal nonaggression treaty, claiming it fears a U.S. attack, but softened that demand following Bush’s statement.

The Foreign Ministry spokesman also suggested Nov. 16 that Pyongyang could be flexible in its previous demands that the two sides take “simultaneous actions” to implement any agreement. North Korea has resisted the idea of dismantling its nuclear facilities before the United States takes any actions—a previous U.S. demand—because it fears Washington will pocket any concessions. The United States has also signaled flexibility on this point, but that flexibility appears limited to North Korea’s demand for a security assurance. A State Department official stated Nov. 20 that the United States would not address other North Korean demands until Pyongyang dismantles its nuclear programs.

In addition to a security assurance, Pyongyang has also called on the United States to normalize bilateral diplomatic relations, refrain from hindering North Korea’s “economic cooperation” with other countries, resume the suspended fuel-oil shipments, and increase food aid, as well as complete the reactor project.

 

 

 

 

 

In the latest move in the ongoing standoff over North Korea’s nuclear program, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Corporation (KEDO) has suspended construction...

Course Correction on North Korea?

Daryl G. Kimball

Wearing a somber gray suit, North Korea’s number two leader entered the White House and met with President Bill Clinton for 45 minutes. The unprecedented visit produced a joint communiqué and put efforts to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear programs back on track.

The joint statement pledged that North Korea would grant U.S. and international inspectors better access to its nuclear facilities. In turn, the United States vowed to accelerate the normalization of relations and to provide a negative security pledge stating that it bears “no hostile intent” toward the military-controlled regime.

That was three years ago. Since 2000, the security situation on the Korean peninsula has deteriorated badly. President George W. Bush’s decision to delay additional talks and his infamous “axis of evil” remarks did not help. North Korean efforts to acquire uranium-enrichment capabilities and the subsequent U.S.-led decision to cut off fuel aid poisoned the relationship further. Pyongyang escalated the crisis by ejecting international inspectors and restarting its advanced plutonium-production facilities.

Bush has prudently maintained that he seeks a “peaceful” and “diplomatic” solution. This makes sense. North Korea can potentially churn out enough material to make six bombs in a year, and pre-emptive military action against the North’s nuclear sites could lead to catastrophic war. Yet, the president’s advisers have thus far failed to provide him with a practical and effective negotiating strategy. A midcourse correction is now essential.

At the previous multilateral meetings in April and August of this year, Bush’s envoy essentially told the North Koreans that they must dismantle their nuclear programs before discussions on other issues could begin. Disappointed, the other states involved in the talks—China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea—have pressed the United States to develop a workable proposal. North Korea threatened not to engage in further talks.

Now, as a possible third and final round of talks approaches, Bush has stepped into the policy void by suggesting that the administration is interested in discussing multilateral security guarantees not to “attack” or “invade” North Korea. Like the 2000 meeting and no-hostile-intent pledge, a formal negative security pledge from Bush could jump-start progress.

A peaceful way out of the latest North Korean nuclear crisis requires that the United States address the North Korean regime’s perceptions of insecurity. North Korea has indicated that it will verifiably dismantle its nuclear weapons programs, but it will not do so if its concerns are not met. Bush’s willingness to discuss a security pledge should signal to North Korean leader Kim Jong Il that he is not only being responsive to his negotiating proposals but to his fears about U.S. aggression.

So long as North Korea agrees to give up its entire nuclear weapons program, allows re-entry of inspectors, and suspends further plutonium separation or uranium enrichment, the Bush administration should pledge not to attack North Korea. The pledge should continue as long as the North is actively dismantling any nuclear weapons and fissile-material production facilities, according to the terms and timetable of a new agreement.

Even if a negative security pledge changes North Korea’s behavior in the short term, the path forward remains littered with hazards. Conducting effective diplomacy requires more than issuing non-negotiable demands. The president and his closest advisers must overcome internal differences about its negotiating stance and begin to engage in a genuine give-and-take with North Korean officials. In addition, the White House cannot afford to allow senior U.S. officials to jeopardize progress by leveling gratuitous personal criticism against North Korea’s leaders, as Undersecretary of State John Bolton did on the eve of the August round of talks.

If progress remains slow, as it most likely will be, hard-line skeptics within the administration will lobby the White House to impose tougher political and economic sanctions, hoping this will produce regime change in Pyongyang. Sanctions would do little to stop North Korea’s advanced nuclear programs and could provoke even more destabilizing actions, such as a demonstration nuclear-test explosion.

As William Perry, former secretary of defense and special envoy on North Korea, said in 1999, the United States must remain focused on the most urgent threat: North Korea’s plutonium program. As Perry noted, success would require that U.S. leaders work with our allies to meet North Korea’s basic security and economic concerns.

Bush finally appears to have recognized the wisdom of Perry’s formula. Now, the administration must put this plan into action. Otherwise, it will have failed to prevent the emergence of a new and dangerous nuclear power in Asia.

 

 

 

 

Bush Hints at North Korea Security Agreement

Some headway was made in October toward breaking the stalemate between the United States and North Korea, but it is far from clear that the year-long crisis surrounding North Korea’s nuclear program will be settled anytime soon. President George W. Bush said Oct. 19 that the United States is willing to provide a written, multilateral guarantee that the United States will not attack North Korea—an indication that the United States will present a concrete offer to North Korea if future multilateral discussions are held. North Korea said Oct. 25 that it is willing to consider the still-developing U.S. proposal but announced earlier in the month that it is closer to developing additional nuclear weapons.

The U.S. proposal is still a work in progress and will be developed in consultation with the other participants in the six-party talks. Although the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Oct. 30 that North Korea has “in principle” accepted a new round of multilateral talks, no date has been set.

The crisis began in October 2002 when a U.S. delegation told North Korean officials that Washington possessed intelligence confirming Pyongyang’s pursuit of a uranium enrichment program. Such a program can produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Since then, the crisis has escalated. North Korea pulled out of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), restarted its plutonium-based nuclear facilities frozen under the 1994 Agreed Framework, and regularly reported advances in its nuclear weapons capabilities. The Agreed Framework defused the first North Korean nuclear crisis by providing North Korea with heavy-fuel oil and two proliferation-resistant light-water reactors in exchange for freezing its plutonium program. Construction on the reactors has not been terminated, but the oil shipments were suspended in November 2002 in an effort to pressure North Korea.

The apparent decision to negotiate with North Korea is part of an evolution in stated U.S. policy. Administration officials had previously dismissed the idea of negotiating a settlement to the crisis as giving in to blackmail.

Two rounds of talks aimed at resolving the crisis have taken place in Beijing since October 2002. The United States, North Korea, and China took part in the first round in April and were joined by Japan, Russia, and South Korea for a second round in August. Neither round yielded an agreement. The United States has said its delegation to the August talks did not make an explicit offer but signaled Washington’s willingness to compromise with North Korea. North Korea argues that Washington simply restated its previous policy, however, and U.S. allies have said they want the administration to be more flexible. (See ACT, October 2003.) Bush’s statement came during a trip to Asia earlier this month, where he consulted with other participants in the six-party talks.

U.S. officials have said repeatedly that Washington has no intention of attacking North Korea and have indicated their willingness to provide a written agreement to this effect. Department of State officials said in September that the United States is willing to employ a step-by-step approach to resolve the crisis, rather than continuing to insist that North Korea first completely dismantle its nuclear facilities.

Still, the administration has also emphasized multilateral diplomacy with Pyongyang and said it wants any security agreement to be concluded within the context of the six-party talks. Bush said Oct. 19 that previous bilateral agreements with North Korea have failed, asserting that North Korea “cheated” on the Agreed Framework. Administration officials have previously argued that multilateral negotiations will be more effective than bilateral ones because North Korea will feel increased pressure to comply in a multilateral setting.

Although the Agreed Framework is a bilateral agreement, its implementation is multilateral in nature. For example, South Korea, Japan, and the European Union share membership on the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization’s (KEDO) executive board. KEDO is the U.S.-led consortium that is charged with supplying the heavy-fuel oil and building the reactors under the Agreed Framework.
The United States has not yet decided on a precise formulation for a security arrangement, but the United States has addressed the question in past official statements. For example, the Agreed Framework requires the United States to “provide formal assurances” to North Korea that the United States will not threaten or use nuclear weapons. Additionally, the two countries stated in an October 2000 Joint Communiqué that neither “would have hostile intent toward the other.”

The Way Forward

After initially dismissing Bush’s statement Oct. 21 as “laughable,” a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said Oct. 25 that Pyongyang would “consider” Bush’s comments, according to KCNA. The spokesman added, however, that any U.S. proposal would have to come with “the intention” for the two countries to “coexist” and be part of a step-by-step solution to the crisis. Pyongyang is currently evaluating the “intentions” behind Bush’s remark, the spokesman said, labeling discussions of further six-party talks “premature.” Secretary of State Colin Powell said Oct. 26 that North Korea contacted the United States about the matter two days before.

There are several potential obstacles to a settlement. One question is whether the U.S. proposal will be sufficient to satisfy North Korea’s concerns about its relations with the United States. Pyongyang has condemned Washington’s preference for multilateral solutions as a tactic intended to divert attention away from what Pyongyang regards as the real issue: Washington’s “hostile policy” of placing economic pressure on North Korea and threatening it with military force, including use of nuclear weapons.
In particular, North Korea cites a September 2002 document describing the U.S. National Security Strategy, which explicitly mentions North Korea and emphasizes pre-emptive action to counter threats from countries developing weapons of mass destruction. To justify their stated fears of a pre-emptive nuclear attack, North Korean officials cite a leaked version of the Bush administration’s January 2002 classified Nuclear Posture Review, which lists North Korea as a country against which the United States should be prepared to use nuclear weapons in the event of a military confrontation.

The administration has pursued other aspects of a containment policy, such as attempting to persuade allies such as Japan and Australia to interdict Pyongyang’s sources of hard currency. Moreover, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz argued in May that other regional powers should threaten to cut off aid to North Korea if it does not change its objectionable policies.

Bush made it clear during an Oct. 19 press conference that a formal nonaggression pact—a persistent North Korean demand—was “off the table.” North Korea said Oct. 7 that it wants U.S. security assurances to come in the form of a treaty because it does not trust Congress or future administrations to adhere to policies made by any president, according to a KCNA statement. North Korea has frequently argued that the United States did not live up to its commitments under the Agreed Framework, citing delays in the reactors’ construction and the administration’s “hostile policy.”

North Korea has also previously rejected the idea of a multilateral security agreement. An Aug. 19 KCNA statement dismissed such a plan as a diversionary tactic and referred to “the concept of ‘collective security’” as “an insult” to North Korea, suggesting that Pyongyang wants to be seen as an equal to the United States in any negotiations.

The specifics of implementing any agreement may well prove to be another sticking point. Pyongyang has resisted the notion of dismantling its reactor before concluding an agreement with the United States because it believes the United States will simply pocket any concessions. Washington has yet to finalize either the specific steps required by each side or the sequence in which they will be implemented.
It is also unclear how the United States intends to address other North Korean demands. Pyongyang has called on the United States to normalize bilateral diplomatic relations, refrain from hindering North Korea’s “economic cooperation” with other countries, complete the reactors promised under the Agreed Framework, resume suspended fuel oil shipments, and increase food aid.

Pyongyang’s declaration that it would discuss verification measures for any agreement “only after the [United States] drops its hostile policy” could also complicate a settlement.

Upping the Ante

Meanwhile, North Korea again upped the ante in the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula, announcing earlier this month that it had completed reprocessing the spent fuel rods from its five-megawatt nuclear reactor and implying that it was using the resulting plutonium to construct nuclear weapons. Pyongyang further increased concern Oct. 16 by issuing what may have been a veiled threat to test nuclear weapons.

North Korea had privately made the reprocessing claim earlier, but an Oct. 2 KCNA statement marked Pyongyang’s first public pronouncement.

An Oct. 3 KCNA statement said that the country completed reprocessing the spent fuel rods in June, and an Oct. 2 statement noted that Pyongyang “made a switchover in the use” of the spent fuel “in the direction increasing [sic] its nuclear deterrent force.” The earlier statement added that North Korea would continue to produce and reprocess additional spent fuel when deemed necessary.

According to Powell and other U.S. diplomats, North Korean officials on more than one occasion have told their U.S. counterparts that they had completed reprocessing the spent fuel.

But U.S. officials have expressed skepticism about the earlier announcements and continue to cast doubt on the North Korean claims. Powell told reporters Oct. 2 that Washington has “no evidence” that Pyongyang has reprocessed the spent fuel rods, adding that the United States would “continue to pursue diplomacy.” North Korean officials have said Pyongyang possesses nuclear weapons, but it is unclear whether this is the case.

North Korea’s possible suggestion that it may test nuclear weapons came in a Oct. 16 announcement from KCNA, which stated that Pyongyang will “take a measure to open its nuclear deterrent to the public as a physical force” if the United States refuses to change its negotiating stance.

The Oct. 2 KCNA statement also said that Pyongyang is “stepping up the preparations for the construction of a graphite-moderated reactor.” Whether this statement refers to incomplete reactors whose construction was frozen under the Agreed Framework is uncertain, but the announcement could be a signal that North Korea intends to produce additional fissile material for nuclear weapons. Graphite-moderated reactors are better suited for producing nuclear weapons-grade fuel than their light-water replacements. These plants could produce enough fuel for approximately 30 nuclear devices per year, according to an August Congressional Research Service (CRS) report.

Powell has said that North Korea’s fuel rods could yield enough plutonium for as many as six nuclear devices, and the CRS report estimates the reactor could produce enough fissile material for one weapon per year.

North Korea produced the spent fuel rods before agreeing to freeze operating the reactor and its related facilities in accordance with the Agreed Framework. North Korea announced in December that it was restarting the reactor, and U.S. officials confirmed in February that it had done so.

At the same time it announced its reprocessing claim, North Korea also reiterated two previous claims regarding its nuclear intentions. North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon said North Korea has no intention of exporting nuclear material to other countries, Xinhua News Agency reported Oct. 2. Additionally, the Oct. 2 KCNA statement repeated North Korea’s claim that its nuclear weapons are solely for defensive purposes.

 

 

Some headway was made in October toward breaking the stalemate between the United States and North Korea, but it is far from clear that the year-long crisis surrounding...

Congressional Delegation Cancels Trip to North Korea at White House Request

A bipartisan congressional delegation led by Representative Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) postponed a late October trip to North Korea after the White House expressed opposition to the visit. “At the eleventh hour, the White House withdrew its support,” Weldon said in a statement. The congressman, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, described the delay as temporary and said a new date for the visit is forthcoming.

The postponement follows indications from the North Koreans that they might consider President George W. Bush’s proposal to provide a written guarantee that the United States will not attack North Korea as part of a multilateral agreement.

“Discussions continue between our delegation and North Korean officials,” Weldon stressed. “The members of the delegation still believe that a congressional visit will positively impact relations between our two nations. In that regard, the North Koreans continue to make overtures that our delegation will have access to the Yongbyon nuclear facility,” where the North Koreans say they have reprocessed spent fuel rods to use in their nuclear weapons program.

Representative Solomon P. Ortiz (D-Texas), a member of the delegation, told Arms Control Today he is “dumbfounded” by the administration’s stance. “We were going there because we think we can be supportive of the administration,” Ortiz said. Ortiz credits the delegation’s June 2003 visit with helping to bring the North Koreans to the six-party talks. (See ACT, July/August 2003.)

Former Negotiator Warns Bush: Last Chance for Diplomacy with North

One glance at the wall in Charles L. “Jack” Pritchard’s new office lined with magazine covers of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il makes clear that the veteran diplomat may have left the State Department, but his interest in striking a deal to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons remains undiminished.


Pritchard left his post as chief U.S. interlocutor with North Korea in late August. Since leaving the executive branch, this often lonely voice for more intensive diplomacy has prodded the Bush administration to engage Kim’s regime in arms control talks, a case he made in a 45-minute interview with Arms Control Today Oct. 28.

The United States wants North Korea to dismantle its recently-restarted plutonium-based nuclear facilities and suspected clandestine uranium enrichment program, both of which can produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. Two previous rounds of talks have not resulted in agreements.

Another round of six party talks is likely to occur, Pritchard said, but he warned that they might well be Washington’s final opportunity to shut down North Korea’s weapons programs. And he fretted that despite President George W. Bush’s recent statements that he will support a security agreement with North Korea, the administration has so far put “no substance on the table.”

“The North Koreans, if they believe that there’s nothing in it for them and we haven’t got our act together” will not return for a next round of talks, Pritchard said. A diplomatic breakdown, he warned, could lead to a sizeable North Korean nuclear arsenal. “This thing has the potential of getting well out of hand,” he said.

In particular, Pritchard said it was possible that North Korea would sell nuclear materials to terrorists or other rogue states if negotiations fail. He acknowledged that his assessment of the likelihood of that threat had changed in the last few years. Until “a couple of years ago,” Pritchard said, North Koreans were “trending away from what we would view as legitimate state sponsors of terrorism.”

Asked why the administration has not gone further in its diplomatic efforts, Pritchard said that “a wide range of views within the administration” has inhibited the administration’s ability to develop “a single, focused effort.”

To maximize the possibilities for a diplomatic breakthrough, Pritchard said the United States should concentrate on persuading North Korea to freeze its plutonium-based nuclear facilities, arguing that the less-developed uranium enrichment program is a much longer-term threat. Pyongyang’s current efforts to reprocess the spent fuel from previous operations of its reactor have “the potential” to yield enough material to give North Korea a total of between six and ten nuclear devices “in the very near future,” he said.

Obtaining such a freeze and addressing North Korea’s perceptions of a military threat from the United States “simultaneously and early will set the stage for the longer-term prospects that would include some form of economic developmental assistance” that could be coupled with a termination of the uranium enrichment program, he continued.

Commenting on preparations for a next round of talks, Pritchard expressed concern that the administration will agree to a date for a next round of talks before having a complete proposal. This approach will allow “those who are opposed to this level and direction” of diplomacy to “stall” the process. If that happens, “time will run out and then there will be a compromise and something less than sufficient will go forward.”

Pritchard stressed the need for a “sustained bilateral dialogue” between the United States and North Korea and recommended that the United States initiate a multilateral working-level meeting “ahead of the six-party talks to get most of the substantive work done.”

Speaking on how an agreement could be verified, an issue which “remains unresolved within the administration,” Pritchard cautioned that obtaining a completely verifiable deal from North Korea ought not become a stumbling block to a settlement. He characterized as “ridiculous” the notion held by some U.S. officials that an acceptable agreement must be “100 percent verifiable.”

Pritchard added that verifiably shutting down North Korea’s plutonium-based nuclear program in a manner acceptable to Pyongyang would be “relatively easy.” He admitted that verifying the elimination of the uranium enrichment program would “be a little bit trickier,” but said the United States should accept a deal if it “looks reasonable” because “if they cheat in the future, we will find out” through national intelligence sources.

He also warned against the alternatives to successful negotiations, arguing that increasing pressure on North Korea in hopes of overthrowing Kim Jong-Il’s regime would fail. Describing the North Korean government as “relatively stable,” Pritchard continued: “In the near term, is there anything on the horizon that suggests that regime change is imminent? No. Nothing. Zero.” He added that, based on accounts of recent visitors to North Korea, its economy “is inexplicably better off than it was a year ago…if you’re looking for things to implode because they’re getting worse, [they don’t] appear to be.”

Moreover, he said that key regional powers, particularly China, would be unlikely to support U.S. efforts to further pressure Pyongyang. “We’ve reached a peak” with Beijing in terms of its willingness to pressure North Korea “because of what the Chinese have perceived as a relatively poor showing by the [United States] in the April and August talks,” Pritchard said. The Chinese “fully expected that the [United States] would have a more mature and flexible approach in April. That was absolutely not the case.” At the time, in fact, he worried that the Chinese “might very well have walked away from their commitment to the six party talks” as a consequence.

Pritchard further cautioned that Washington should not use the talks merely as a means to gain support for a containment policy as opposed to reaching a genuine diplomatic resolution. “The other parties will not buy into it,” he warned.

 

 

One glance at the wall in Charles L. “Jack” Pritchard’s new office lined with magazine covers of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il makes clear that the veteran diplomat may...

Interview with Charles L. "Jack" Pritchard, the State Dept's former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea

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Charles L. "Jack" Pritchard, the State Department's recently retired former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, discussed the Bush administration's North Korea policy in an Oct. 28 interview with Arms Control Today Editor Miles Pomper and Arms Control Association Research Analyst Paul Kerr. The interview took place shortly after President George W. Bush said the United States is willing to provide a multilateral agreement that it will not attack North Korea.

ACT: What do you think the situation is now vis a vis talks with North Korea, particularly after President Bush's recent statement [concerning a possible security guarantee]?

Pritchard: The Secretary of State has embellished on [Bush's statement], and we now have a public offer of a written security assurance, not further defined, for which the North Koreans have followed an extraordinarily predictable script coming out three days later on the 22nd, saying "Ahh! What a laughable matter. No fool would entertain that kind of bizarre offer." Three days after that, on the 25th, came what most people would have expected-the North Koreans saying, "we're willing to look at this offer." Now, the operative part is the clause they put in there: "if this means that the U.S. is prepared to switch its hostile attitude and prepared to accept the principle of simultaneity as we laid out in our packaged deal in April." That's a big, huge "if." So things are moving very rapidly on the form side. Wu Bangguo, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National's People's Congress, is headed tomorrow to Pyongyang. The North Koreans have done this deliberately in advance of that trip so they don't have to be seen as knuckling under pressure of the Chinese. All these things are going to play themselves out. They will setup and agree to next round of six-party talks. But again, there is no substance on the table here.

ACT: You say that their behavior is entirely predictable. Why do you say that?

Pritchard: For me, I could have written this script two weeks ago. I've been saying all along that I had no doubt that the North Koreans would come to another round of talks. As an example, Wu Bangguo has been attempting to go, you know, the Chinese don't want to lose momentum, they want to get this nailed down, they want a date. Wu has tried on two previous occasions to set up a trip. He's the number two guy in China and the North Koreans have said "not yet." And then they finally said, "you can come after the twentieth." All of which was calculated to let them watch and see what Bush did on his Asia trip. So they weren't in a position of having to say yes or no to the Chinese before finding out what the president did or did not do during the trip. They go through a pattern of things, and right now because there is no substance on the table, this is all form and it's going to play itself out.

ACT: When you say there's no substance, you don't think our offer…

Pritchard: What is the offer? Besides the fact that the president has said that he's willing to look at [security assurances], but what? Is it the Ukraine model? (ACT: The United States, Britain, and Russia issued a Memorandum on Security Assurances in December 1994 after Ukraine acceded to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The memorandum stated that none of those countries would threaten Ukraine with economic coercion or military force "except in self-defense or…in accordance with" the United Nations Charter.) The answer is, don't know.

ACT: And we've said this before too.

Pritchard: The president has said these things orally. The secretary of state has said he could envision that we'd be able to put something on paper. Now, it's a more formal declaration by the president and it has to go through the process of looking at the model things we're willing to do. You can't just write this unilaterally. You've got to put your thoughts together and get it blessed within the administration. We're not even close to doing that. Then you've got to market it with the other four partners, then you've got to figure out how you're going to play it in the six-party plenary, which will probably fall flat on its face. Or you can do something more substantive, either directly with the North Koreans within the context of six-party talks, or, what I would hope they do, which is kind of a working-level meeting ahead of the six-party talks to get most of the substantive work done. But right now…

ACT: Bilateral or multilateral working meeting?

Pritchard: It can be multilateral. It ought to be multilateral. Within all of this, there has to be, in my opinion, has to be strong, sustained bilateral dialogue. Not an independent dialogue, not a parallel dialogue. It all is part of working in the six-party. But you've got to have some dialogue.

ACT: Where are you hearing that they are in terms of the internal process? Are you saying nothing has happened?

Pritchard: You're one week into the offer. And no one has suggested that they have got something in hand. My personal concern is that they're going to work this thing backwards and they're going to work it form over substance, and that is, the Chinese will be successful in getting the North Koreans to agree-everyone's going to pick a date, and we will have a date. And yet we will not yet have an administration position on what it is that we're going to do there. That puts an extraordinary amount of pressure on the negotiating team itself, and those who are opposed to this level and direction now have the upper hand. They can stall, they can nibble away, time will run out, and then there will be a compromise and something less than sufficient will go forward.

ACT: What would you conversely…

Pritchard: Conversely, the ideal would be, other than letting the Chinese continue down in the theoretical of getting the North Koreans to agree to a next round, do not set a date until you've got something to work with. That way, you've got the ability to…you know, if it takes six weeks to develop, fine. Let it develop. Get it right. Get it substantively correct. Work with your allies, then set a date. [We went] into the April and August talks with an agreed locked-in date before there had been any development of what the U.S. was going to do there. It just doesn't make any sense at all. The concept is fine, but the U.S. right now has blown off any sense of urgency about shutting down the North Koreans' plutonium program at Yongbyon. So why not get it right? Because in my opinion, you only have one opportunity to do it in the next round of talks. After that, I think the North Koreans, if they believe that there's nothing in it for them, and we haven't gotten our act together, they're not coming back.

ACT: Would you say then, so far, that what the Administration is doing enough to keep the Chinese and others happy?

Pritchard: I certainly don't believe that it is motivated in that sense. I think there are some legitimate motivations. The problem is, it hasn't gone beyond the superficial. Not only is there nothing wrong with six-party talks, at this point in time in the administration, two-and-a-half years plus into it, it's the right way to go. We began the process in February of this year with the Secretary's suggestion to the Chinese in terms of hosting and organizing a five-party set of talks that later turned into six-party. Right way to go. What we didn't realize is how fast and the depth to which the Chinese would in fact engage themselves in this. So it's not a question of keeping them happy and busy. The Chinese are committed to this for their own specific reasons and it's a good thing. The U.S. involvement in this needs to go beyond a satisfaction that we've now captured this in a multilateral setting and are not having to deal directly with the North Koreans exclusive of a multilateral setting. We need to go beyond that and find ways to exploit it to get to a resolution that shuts down North Korea's nuclear program.

ACT: And why do you think it hasn't gone beyond that? Is it because the president has been unwilling to broker these differences in the administration?

Pritchard: That's speculation. The specifics of this is that there has been such a wide range of views within the administration on how to deal with this, and after, again, more than two-and-a-half years, [they] have been unable to bring this into a single, focused effort.

ACT: So they've just sort of done the minimum, okay, we're going to do multilateral, and then no one's…

Pritchard: Your words. I'm not saying we've only done the minimum. We just haven't exploited the opportunity for success.

ACT: In terms of this statement, would it rule out any sort of preemptive attack on North Korea's nuclear facilities?

Pritchard: It all depends on what it is they want to do. The Ukraine model is actually a pretty good document. Part of the language here says, "The United States, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland reaffirm in the case of the Ukraine their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon state party to the Treaty of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an attack on themselves, their territories, or dependent territories, or armed forces or allies by such a state in association or alliance with a nuclear weapon state." This isn't all that restrictive. It doesn't prohibit the defense of a nation there, but it's something to look at. Whether this turns out to be the model acceptable to the other five parties, don't know. But you really have to put something on the table to look at. But to answer your question, from a North Korean point of view, this is precisely what they would want: a guarantee of non-preemption by the United States.

ACT: Does it seem like something we can offer politically?

Pritchard: Let's put it into the framework here. If this is offered as part of a resolution of the nuclear problem in Korea-as an example, if the North Koreans have agreed to and implemented a freeze at Yongbyon, and if we are on our way to a resolution that will get rid of the North Korean nuclear weapons program to include HEU [highly enriched uranium] at some point there and they are in the process of doing that, then it is precisely what the U.S. ought to be offering (ACT: The United States says that North Korea possesses a program to produce nuclear weapons using HEU). It is conditional in its nature. As long as the North Koreans are living up their end of the deal, why wouldn't the U.S. set aside the right of preemption as long as progress was being made in the direction we wanted?

ACT: So far the discussion has been about the security guarantees, but presumably there's an economic and food aid component.

Pritchard: That component is, what I believe, to be a part of a larger picture. There are pieces in which to go after. The urgency for us is shutting down Yongbyon. Putting a freeze in place. It is not the HEU that is the critical factor in the next 'x' number of months or years. It is what is going on right now: the reprocessing of 8,017 spent fuel rods. The potential adding to a suspected arsenal of one to two, making that six, eight or ten in the very near future. For a country that needs zero nuclear weapons, why would you want to see them in possession of an extraordinary amount of excess nuclear weapons that could ultimately find their way out into either the black market or into non-state player's hands? So that's our urgency. For the North Koreans, there is a-what they perceive to be hanging over their head-is a threat by the United States. So moving that aside, so they can continue down what they are perceiving to be a path of economic reform and normalization with their neighbors-however we judge that as unimportant -but that's what's important in the near term for them. So solving those two pieces of the puzzle simultaneously and early will set the stage for the longer-term prospects that would include some form of economic, developmental assistance.

ACT: Would you say, as someone who knows the North Koreans well, how realistic is the notion that they would sell nuclear materials?

Pritchard: I don't put anything out of the realm of the possible…. Ask me a couple years ago "Would they have done that ?"and I would have said "No. They would have done everything short of that." They were moving away and trending away from what we would view as legitimate state-sponsors of terrorism. I am not so sure about the future. When, if you paint a scenario that says: the talks are not succeeding, we are not peacefully and diplomatically resolving the problem and we are concurrently squeezing the North Koreans - from their point of view, as an example, the Japanese shutting down remunerations and flows of money from Japan to North Koran - that commercial trade is being curtailed. And they view the PSI [Proliferation Security Initiative], the Pacific Protector exercises and future ones, as precursors to an isolation and containment policy. (ACT: PSI is a U.S.-led multilateral effort to interdict shipments of weapons of mass destruction and related materials.) Put in that light, is it possible that, in combination with their views of this administration, the North Koreans might do something? Yeah. I hope that is not the case, but I don't dismiss it as not possible.

ACT: What do you think are the prospects for securing an effective verification regime for North Korea, something that we can live with?

Pritchard: Yeah, that's a huge question. It's one that remains unresolved within the administration. It was the beginning problem, in terms of what is acceptable. The attitudes early on have been, if it is not one-hundred percent verifiable, it is not verifiable. I find that to be, in my own personal view, ridiculous. I can't imagine, anything less than total regime change to be verifiable. So what are you willing to do, what are you willing to accept in terms of what is verifiable, what is possible? Can you shut down all their known programs? Can you verifiably shutdown the plutonium and nuclear weapons program at Yongbyon, and will it be acceptable to North Koreans? Yes, that one's relatively easy. Getting to the HEU is going to be a little trickier and our level of confidence about the verifiability of it will be up in the air. But I err on the side of, "if it looks reasonable, go with it" because at some point in time, just as we have discovered their HEU program, if they cheat in the future, we will find out. And doing it in a multilateral setting means that, in addition to the U.S., there are four sets of other eyes in the world community at large that will help detect leakage of verifiability. So I don't subscribe to it's a hundred percent open verification. I can accept less.

ACT: What kind of remote monitoring, on site access, what combination, would be good for monitoring plutonium, HEU program?

Pritchard: There is a precedent that I go back to, and that is Kumgchang-Ni. (ACT: Kumgchang-Ni is a suspected nuclear weapons site visited by a U.S. inspection team in 1999.) While we know now that it was not a nuclear-related facility, we did not know that at the time and it was and is a sensitive North Korean military-security location, with a high degree of security around it. Even though we still don't know what it is designed to be, but even under those circumstances, over a period of intense engagement and negotiations, we ended up with… access [for] … inspectors with sophisticated equipment that had access, in this case, on two occasions with a year in between, and the right to go back until we were satisfied that it was not what we initially suspected. So the model and the precedent is there. I think that some element of on-site inspections are in fact possible and required. Things where we know there is an existing program, the reestablishment of monitoring, as we had through the IAEA, is required and necessary. There are variations or combinations that can and will work and can be negotiated.

ACT: Turning to their HEU program, there's been very little said publicly about it. Can you give us a sense of how advanced you think it is?

Pritchard: I can't, only because [of] previous access to classified material, and there's speculation about this. Do I believe that they are churning out enriched uranium as we speak? No. But I can't quantify nor do I know how long it will be, nor [what] the size of the program will ultimately look like.

ACT: Turning to the role of the other participants in the Beijing talks, we talked about them just a little bit. The administration has talked a lot about the role of our allies putting pressure on North Korea, characterizing the talks as being successful in that way. But to what extent have our allies influenced our decision to be more conciliatory, more reasonable, willing to compromise?

Pritchard: There are two aspects to that. One is the reality of what's going on in the rest of the world, meaning Iraq. And the other is, over time, the South Koreans continue to express their concerns about any approach other than a peaceful one on the peninsula. That came home for the president when he visited South Korea in February of 2002. It was then-I don't if it was the first time, but he certainly voiced in a question and answer session at the Blue House with President Kim Dae-Jung-he said the United States has no intention of invading North Korea. That was designed as a message not to the North Koreans, but for the South Korean public at large. The developing relationship with China is what's most interesting here, that from this administration low-point of the EP-3 …from that point until now, it has been an upward and rapidly moving, better relationship with China. There has been some accommodation, particularly in moving to the six-party talks with the Chinese. You may recall Dai Bingguo, the Vice Minister who came to town to talk to Powell, there was a great deal of desire to take into consideration Chinese concerns. Some movement can be attributed to the kind of developing relationship we have with China.

ACT: This is just pure speculation on my part, but I also see that the Commerce Secretary is giving a major speech today on China's market access and are trying to get the Yuan and everything else. Do you think there's flexibility on these issues because we're trying to press them on economic issues at all?

Pritchard: No, I don't think there's a connection. And I am not an economics person, but the most recent concerns about the RMB, the currency, and trade, have come-in terms of public awareness-after we begun the process of moving towards six-party talks. I don't think there's a quid quo pro of any kind or a degree of flexibility we're showing towards one or the other.

ACT: To what extend do you think the other participants, particularly China, are able and willing to exert pressure on Pyongyang?

Pritchard: I think we've reached the peak with the Chinese at this point, because of what the Chinese will perceive or have perceived as a relatively poor showing by the U.S. in the April and August talks. The Chinese, prior to January of this year, were far more empathetic towards the North Koreans. But for whatever reason, they've come to their own conclusions that they had to get involved and they've applied a degree of pressure on the North Koreans to bring them into the six-party setting. They fully expected that the U.S. would have a more mature and flexible approach in April. That was absolutely not the case. The Chinese, I thought, might very well walk away from their commitment to the six-party talks because of the poor U.S. performance. They did not. They were committed, they got the six-party talks going. The U.S., from the Chinese point of view, did not do well in that. You recall shortly following the six-party talks, when Vice Minister [Wong Yew] was in Manila, and asked "What is the problem here?" and he said the U.S. is the biggest obstacle to resolution of the problem. Now part of that was designed with a North Korean audience in mind. Part of that was because is because he believes it.

ACT: With regards to the question of six-party talks, what more needs to be done by the other parties at the next round? I know you talked about presenting a concrete solution, but what would constitute progress?

Pritchard: Not only progress, but the minimum that we need is a North Korean commitment, if not an actual putting into play, is a freeze on the activities at Yongbyon. Time is not on our side in this matter. If they haven't already, as they claim, they will shortly, or certainty in the near future, complete the reprocessing. We need to shut that down. That's an imperative. Because I don't believe we have a third or fourth round of six-party talks that we can count on down the road. And likewise, to keep the North Koreans engaged in this, there has to be a discussion about the concerns they have. What they offered in April are absolutely non-starters. And the U.S. should have told them on the spot in April, six-plus months ago, "No, these are not acceptable proposals." But what we've done is we've allowed the North Koreans to have the diplomatic high ground by saying they've put a "reasonable proposal" on the table, and the U.S. just hasn't responded to it. And now they're couching, six months later, their potential, continued involvement in six-party talks in the terms of the proposal that they put on the table in April which wasn't acceptable. So we've got to put this back into an acceptable discussion of what is possible in addressing not only their concerns, but what is reasonable and doing it in a simultaneous fashion.

ACT: What aspects were not…

Pritchard: The North Koreans, for example, said that once the United States turns back on the heavy fuel oil and vastly expands food aid, then we will tell you our intention of doing this. Then once the U.S. signs a non-aggression pact, then we will commit to doing the next thing. These things are not bizarre from a North Korean point of view, but they were clearly, absolutely unacceptable. They're old kind of ideas. They talked about compensation for the delay of the LWR. The North Koreans are as culpable as any other factor in the delay of the LWR, and there's no compensation that should be considered or given, so that should be taken off the table. Those things continue to persist because we failed to take them off the table early on.

ACT: So that proposal became the working proposal by default?

Pritchard: It is by default-it is a non-working proposal, but it is the only thing out there. We've had plenty of time to make the U.S. the driver in these talks and we are not.

ACT: I know this is speculation, but is it an unreasonable fear that some in the administration may support these talks simply to get other countries on board for containment policies, believing that the talks are going to fail?

Pritchard: It's not unreasonable in a theory. The problem is, lacking a sustained U.S. commitment to pull up all the stops, make the diplomacy work, it is a naïve view, because the other partners-the Russians, the Chinese, the South Koreans, the Japanese-will see through a very shallow attempt by the U.S. to use this in the manner that you are speaking. They will not buy into it. Whereas, after the first round of the six-party talks, you heard people thumping their chests and saying "we've succeeded in containing, there's now five against one." On paper, for seven minutes during that day, that might have been true, but it's no longer true.

ACT: What happens if the next round of talks is perceived to produce no tangible gains? You said this was probably the last shot we had.

Pritchard: I think the practical effect of this is that there will not be a coalition of five against one-the North Koreans will walk away. The problem will become as to whether or not the North Koreans perceive the Chinese as unduly supporting the U.S. in light of the failure. Who do the Chinese blame? If they blame the North Koreans, then I think you can expect to see the North Koreans move rather rapidly down their nuclear program and that the first sign of their unhappiness with the Chinese will be their public declaration of being nuclear weapon state. So this thing has the potential of getting well out of hand.

ACT: How would you assess the alternatives to a negotiated solution-tighter export controls, the containment aspects of our policy?

Pritchard: There are elements that are going on the periphery in terms of tightening down, that are in of themselves absolutely appropriate. There is an economic initiative going on in terms of shutting down illegal drug trafficking, prostitution, other things along this line, money laundering, counterfeiting-should have been doing that a long time ago. The North Koreans shouldn't have a free pass about that. Likewise, the Proliferation Security Initiative…why weren't we doing that a long time ago? So there are elements that are fine, but they're not going to work by themselves. The idea that everything is going to fall into place in the coalition of five out of the six is going to stay intact, and that the South Koreans, the Russians, the Chinese are going to be clamoring to join PSI is not going to happen. So we will have an ineffectual, but slightly stronger, containment policy towards North Korea.

ACT: But clearly, some in the administration believe to some extent that other nations would fall in line with that. Let's give them as much benefit of the doubt as possible, I guess a lot of it is based on the possibility of regime change in North Korea. How likely do you see that? How stable is this government?

Pritchard: For what it is, it is relatively stable-that is, it's a dictatorial regime. Period. If Kim Jong-Il falls off his horse and dies, will the regime survive, because it's otherwise a vibrant organization? No. When he leaves, in my opinion, that spells the beginning of the end of North Korea. There will be no hereditary transition to a younger son. There will not be anything other than a temporary triumvirate of military officers that will preside over the demise of North Korea. The regime, in my opinion, will last only as long as Kim Jong-Il does. But now, in the near term, is there anything on the horizon to suggest that regime change is imminent? No. Nothing. Zero. So anybody pinning their hopes that in the race against the North Korean nuclear program and the race towards regime change, that somehow pinning their hopes on regime change that will then affect the former…go play the lottery.

ACT: To get a little more specific, we've heard the argument voiced in an Arms Control Today article (See ACT, October 2003) that the North Koreans have managed to make some changes to their economy to where people in local areas have small micro-economies to cushion the blow of the communist failings. Is there anything you have to say about that?

Pritchard: The problem is that I don't have the specifics, I have the anecdotes as an example. You look at the last several years of North Korea, and it's gone through a transition from patron alliances with the former Soviet Union and China to that having essentially gone away with some subsistence stability provided by China now. They've gone through the death of Kim Il-Sung, they've gone through massive famine, and they're still here…Almost to a person, people who I've talked to who have been to North Korea recently say it is inexplicably better off than it was a year ago. Now, is that attributed to the July of last year reforms that have taken place? Probably not. I don't know. If you're looking for things to implode because they're getting worse, it doesn't appear to be. Something's going on. Is there now a base development there of micro-economies that is holding everything together? I doubt it. Does what is going on now support the theory that regime change is [out]. The answer is: No it doesn't, but I can't tell you why. Most people will look at the reform efforts going on and say "too little, too late, doesn't matter, hyper-inflation, etc. …" But something is happening that is creating some element of maneuver room for the North Koreans.

ACT: One last question, a bit of a historical question, but I think it is relevant. When the United States and North Korea were meeting towards the end of the Clinton administration, there was a bit of interaction going on before the talks, was the issue of uranium enrichment raised with them?

Pritchard: No. Not that I can recall in any specific terms. The uranium enrichment was probably an embryonic concern at the time. We had probably seen some intelligence reporting of dabbling, for the lack of a better word. It didn't look like more than small-scale R&D. I don't remember any effort to talk to them about HEU.

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Interviewed by Miles A. Pomper and Paul Kerr

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U.S. Shows More Flexibility in North Korea Talks

Paul Kerr

With another round of six-party talks concerning the North Korean nuclear crisis likely to take place, the Bush administration has signaled new flexibility in its bargaining position. Although U.S. policy is still far from fully formed, the biggest change appears to be that the United States will not insist that North Korea completely dismantle its nuclear facilities before Washington addresses some of North Korea’s concerns. Instead, Department of State officials say, they are looking at a step-by-step approach to reduce tensions.


Secretary of State Colin Powell said Sept. 22 that future multilateral discussions are likely, and officials from South Korea, Japan, Russia, and China—the other participants in the recent talks held in Beijing—have all expressed support for another round.

North Korea, however, has been ambivalent. An Aug. 30 statement from the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) indicated that Pyongyang was uninterested in further six-party talks. But a Sept. 2 agency statement reaffirmed Pyongyang’s “will to peacefully settle the nuclear issue…through dialogue.”

Subsequent North Korean statements have argued that future six-party talks will not be useful unless Washington changes its “hostile policy” of threatening a military attack and economic strangulation. Pyongyang officials have repeatedly demanded that the two countries conclude a non-aggression treaty before Pyongyang destroys its nuclear weapons program.

Pyongyang’s ambivalence toward future talks stems from its aversion to U.S. demands that North Korea dismantle its nuclear program before addressing any of North Korea’s concerns. Indeed, the United States has repeatedly insisted that North Korea dismantle its nuclear program as a necessary—although not necessarily sufficient—condition for improved bilateral relations.

North Korea contends that the United States continued to articulate this position during the Beijing talks. (See ACT, September 2003). However, a senior State Department official insisted during a Sept. 4 press briefing that the U.S. delegation actually displayed more flexibility than the North Koreans claim and that Pyongyang’s statements seemed “pre-scripted” rather than responsive to the actual discussions.

The official said the U.S. presentations were “different in tone and in content” from those made during talks with North Korea in Oct. 2002 and this past April. The official added that the U.S. delegation “made clear that we are not seeking to strangle North Korea…we can sincerely discuss security concerns in the context of nuclear dismantlement, and...we are willing to discuss a sequence of denuclearization measures with corresponding measures on both sides.” The United States did not specify what measures it would take, the official said.

This account of the U.S. position is somewhat consistent with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s Aug. 29 statement that all parties had reached a “consensus” to solve the nuclear crisis “through synchronous and parallel implementation.” However, a Sept. 1 statement from the South Korean government said there were “sharp differences” between the two sides, and Wang told reporters the same day that—despite his earlier comments—Washington’s policy is the “main problem” preventing diplomatic progress.

Pyongyang’s Proposal

During the talks, North Korea reiterated and elaborated on its solution for resolving the standoff. According to an Aug. 29 KCNA statement, North Korea proposed a step-by-step solution, calling for the United States to conclude a “non-aggression treaty,” normalize bilateral diplomatic relations, refrain from hindering North Korea’s “economic cooperation” with other countries, complete the reactors promised under the 1994 Agreed Framework, resume suspended fuel oil shipments, and increase food aid. In return, North Korea would dismantle its “nuclear facility,” as well as end missile testing and export of missiles and related components.

North Korea made a similar proposal during a round of trilateral talks held in Beijing in April. A Sept. 10 KCNA statement also said that Pyongyang would discuss verification measures for any agreement “only after the U.S. drops its hostile policy.”

“Nuclear facility” appears to refer to its plutonium-based nuclear reactor frozen under the Agreed Framework—the agreement that defused the first North Korean nuclear crisis by providing North Korea with heavy fuel oil and two proliferation-resistant light water reactors in exchange for freezing its plutonium-based nuclear facilities. An August KCNA statement denied U.S. charges, first made during a bilateral meeting in Oct. 2002, that North Korea possesses a uranium-enrichment program—another method for producing fuel for nuclear weapons.

A Compromise?

Following meetings with Bush and Powell in early September, South Korean Foreign Affairs-Trade Minister Yoon Young-kwan said in a statement that the United States would probably go to the next round of talks with a proposal that would likely address North Korea’s security concerns. Powell said in August that the United States could support some form of written security assurance to North Korea, although he ruled out a nonaggression treaty.

Although State Department spokesman Richard Boucher Sept. 5 said the United States is not “going to grant inducements to North Korea to change its behavior,” a State Department official interviewed by ACT Sept. 24 said Washington is “looking at a sequence of steps” toward North Korean dismantlement. The senior State Department official stated Sept. 4 said North Korea would not “have to do everything before they would hear anything.”

Still, U.S. policy is clearly in flux. For example, the senior State Department official said Washington has not “completely decided” on procedures for verifying any North Korean agreement. And although Bush said in May that the United States “will not tolerate” a nuclear-armed North Korea, the administration has not said how it will respond to North Korea’s producing nuclear weapons. Powell stated during a Sept. 22 interview with Business Week that the United States will say “Gee, that was interesting” if North Korea test nuclear weapons, contending that North Korea would only conduct such a test to “scare the international community.”

State Department Spokesman J. Peter Ereli said Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly is to meet his counterparts from South Korea and Japan Sept. 29-30 to coordinate their North Korea policies.

A Nuclear Doctrine?

North Korea articulated the circumstances under which it would use nuclear weapons in a Sept. 1 KCNA statement, which describes Pyongyang’s “nuclear deterrent” as “defensive,” adding that its weapons will “remain unused” unless another country “provokes” it. North Korea does not intend to sell its nuclear weapons or provide them to terrorists, the statement adds.

North Korea told the U.S. delegation during the April talks that it had nuclear weapons and made a veiled reference to testing them. According to the senior State Department official, during the August talks the North Korean delegation threatened to test nuclear weapons or “demonstrate the means that they would have to deliver” them—an apparent reference to their missiles. The Sept. 2 statement warned that North Korea “will have no option but to increase its nuclear deterrent force” if the United States does not change its policy.

KEDO’s Future

Meanwhile, Bush agreed Sept. 14 to waive the restrictions on funding to the Korean Peninsula Development Organization (KEDO), the U.S.-led consortium that is building the reactors under the Agreed Framework. Congress had prohibited funding KEDO unless Bush determined “that it is vital to the national security interests of the United States.” Bush’s decision provided “up to” $3.72 million for KEDO’s administrative expenses—not for the actual reactors, which the United States has never funded.

U.S. allies have opposed scrapping the reactor project. Minister Yoon said Seoul favors a “temporary suspension” of the project, as opposed to terminating it, according to a September press release.
Decisions about the reactor project’s future would be made at a KEDO Executive Board meeting, but no meeting has been scheduled, a KEDO official said during a Sept. 24 interview.

A North Korean Proposal

The following is the keynote speech given by Kim Yong II, North Korea’s vice minister of foreign affairs, at the six-party talks in Beijing Aug. 27. It is the most detailed account to date of what the North Koreans proposed, and appeared in an article published by KCNA, the state-run news agency:

For a package solution, the U.S. should conclude a non-aggression treaty with the D.P.R.K., establish diplomatic relations with it, and guarantee the economic cooperation between the D.P.R.K. and Japan and between the north and the south of Korea. And it should also compensate for the loss of electricity caused by the delayed provision of light-water reactors [LWRs] and complete their construction.

For this, the D.P.R.K. should not make nuclear weapons and allow the nuclear inspection, finally dismantle its nuclear facility, put on ice the missile test fire, and stop its export.

According to the order of simultaneous actions, the U.S. should resume the supply of heavy-fuel oil and sharply increase the humanitarian food aid while the DPRK should declare its will to scrap its nuclear program.

According to this order, we will allow the refreeze of our nuclear facility and nuclear substance and monitoring and inspection of them from the time the U.S. has concluded a nonaggression treaty with the DPRK and compensated for the loss of electricity.

We will settle the missile issue when diplomatic relations are opened between the DPRK and the U.S. and between the DPRK and Japan. And we will dismantle our nuclear facility from the time the LWRs are completed.

First, the DPRK and the U.S. should make clear their will to clear up bilateral concerns.
The DPRK will clarify its will to dismantle its nuclear program if the U.S. makes clear its will to give up its hostile policy toward the DPRK.

Second, all the countries participating in the six-way talks should agree on the principle to implement the measures for solving the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the U.S. through simultaneous actions.

If our reasonable proposal is turned aside at the talks, we will judge that the U.S. does not intend to give up its attempt to stifle the DPRK by force at an appropriate time while persistently insisting the DPRK “scrap its nuclear program first” to waste time.

In this case, the DPRK cannot dismantle its nuclear deterrent force but will have no option but to increase it. Whether the nuclear issue will be settled or not depends on the U.S. attitude.

In His Own Words

The following are excerpts from the first public comments made by Charles L. “Jack” Pritchard, former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea, since he resigned from the State Department in late August (prior to the Beijing talks) over the Bush administration’s approach toward North Korea. The comments were made during a Sept. 8 press briefing at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.:
“I’ll start off by saying…the prospects for success, unless the format is slightly altered, are very grim. [T]he six-party formulation is in fact the right one. Multiparty internationalization of the issue, particularly on the nuclear issue, is the right track to take…The change that has to occur is putting in the component of a true bilateral engagement between the United States and North Korea....
“What is required is a sustained involvement by the United States with North Korea. Does that mean that we’re going to resolve the problem bilaterally? No. We’re going to lay the ground work that will put it back into the six-party format….But it cannot occur without a sustained and serious dialogue between the United States and North Korea. You cannot get to the point where you understand who your opponent is at the negotiating table unless you have had continuous contact with them over a period of time….
“[I]t’s going to be very difficult to trust any arrangements that are made with the North Koreans. But the alternative is not acceptable. Allowing the North Koreans to become a declared nuclear weapons state, testing the nuclear weapons, and potentially having the ability to transfer the technology or the weapons is not acceptable. Nor is not negotiating acceptable….
“Rather than the drive-by meetings that occur, where we roll down the window and we kind of wave to the North Koreans and then move on, we’ve got to have a full-time negotiator who can do the coordination with North Korea, do the coordination of our policies with our allies Japan and South Korea on a continuous basis, and touch base with the Chinese and the Russians….”

 

 

 

 

 

With another round of six-party talks concerning the North Korean nuclear crisis likely to take place, the Bush administration has signaled new flexibility in its bargaining position. 

Summit Leaves Iran, North Korea Questions Unanswered

Christina Kucia

Despite what they described as “open, very frank” discussions about Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs, U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin concluded their Sept. 26-27 talks at Camp David without any concrete decisions on how to address the crises.

At a joint press conference Sept. 27, Bush said the United States and Russia “share a goal…to make sure Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon or a nuclear weapons program.” Putin maintained that “Russia has no desire and no plans to contribute in any way to the creation of weapons of mass destruction, either in Iran or in any other spot, region in the world.” He noted that Russia’s decision to help Iran build a nuclear reactor at Bushehr is in full compliance with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and agreed with Bush that both countries will continue to urge Iran to comply with International Atomic Energy Agency requirements.

The United States has criticized Russia’s assistance to Iran in constructing the $800 million reactor and providing nuclear fuel for the plant. Russia has maintained that it will require Iran to return any spent fuel, although the two countries have yet to sign an agreement enforcing this pledge. (See ACT, January/February 2003.) Concern over Iran’s nuclear energy program escalated in September after international investigators detected traces of highly enriched uranium in two facilities. (See “Concern Heats Up Over Iran’s Alleged Nuclear Program,” p. 20.)

Both presidents agreed that North Korea must cease its nuclear weapons program. At the press briefing, Bush reiterated his call for North Korea “to completely, verifiably, and irreversibly end its nuclear programs.” Putin, however, also pressed the United States to offer Pyongyang “guarantees in this sphere of security,” drawing attention to U.S. reluctance to provide such explicit guarantees. (See “U.S. Shows More Flexibility in North Korea Talks”) On the Iraq front, Bush failed to secure military or financial support from Putin for Iraq’s reconstruction.

Also during the summit, both sides discussed implementation of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, which entered into force in May 2003. (See ACT, June 2003.) The Bilateral Implementation Commission, which is scheduled to meet twice yearly, has yet to convene. The commission’s first meeting may be scheduled later this fall, in late October or early November.

 

 

 

Despite what they described as “open, very frank” discussions about Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs, U.S. President George W. Bush and Russian President...

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