"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004
North Korea

U.S. Lawmakers, Officials Seek End to NK Nuclear Aid

Charles Crain, Medill News Service

As diplomats seek to negotiate an end to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, some U.S. lawmakers and Bush administration officials are pushing to end a program designed to provide North Korea with civilian nuclear energy.

Since last year, the United States and several allies have been building two light-water reactors in North Korea whose construction was a key component of the 1994 Agreed Framework, under which North Korea agreed to freeze its plutonium-based nuclear weapons program in exchange for the reactors and other aid. In 1995 the United States, South Korea, and Japan established the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) to build the two reactors. KEDO remains in the early stages of its work—having established basic infrastructure and poured concrete for the first reactor—but none of the nuclear components for the reactor have yet been delivered.

Reuters reported on August 26, the day before negotiations commenced between North Korea and the United States and four other countries, that the program to build nuclear reactors in North Korea would probably be suspended in September. Citing U.S. officials, the report said the suspension was a compromise between the United States, which wants to end the program entirely, and South Korea and Japan, which prefer a suspension.
In addition, a June South Korean embassy release had said the United States has proposed stopping the construction of two reactors in North Korea, but the release said South Korea opposes such a move.

A State Department source, however, said August 26 the United States was not lobbying for a suspension. He said decisions about KEDO’s future would be made by its board when it meets in September.

A diplomatic source familiar with KEDO and with the negotiations said a suspension of KEDO’s work would probably result in the program’s demise. “KEDO is like a train—it’s hard to stop and hard to get back on track,” the source said. He said there was less than a 50 percent chance the program would be restarted after a suspension.

Meanwhile, some members of the U.S. Congress are seeking to ensure that KEDO will not continue, regardless of decisions taken by the Bush administration or other KEDO member states.

An amendment to the House energy appropriations bill that passed July 18 would prohibit the government from allowing U.S. hardware or technical information from being transferred, directly or indirectly, to states the United States identifies as sponsors of terrorism.

Representative Christopher Cox (R-CA) said he is confident the Senate will approve similar language to end U.S. support for the reactors project and that President George W. Bush would sign it into law. A spokesman for Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-IN) said he expected one or more senators would add similar language to the Senate bill.

Cox said he has spoken with a number of senators’ offices and has received especially strong support from Senator John Kyl (R-AZ). In an August 20 op-ed in the Asian Wall Street Journal, Kyl wrote, “After eight years of the Agreed Framework…the result was not one, but two North Korean nuclear weapons programs.” He advocated a hard-line stance, adding, “History shows it is futile to negotiate with Pyongyang as if it were a normal government.”

Cox and Kyl, along with Representative Edward Markey (D-MA), have opposed the project since its inception. In January, Kyl sponsored a bill to prohibit “certain” aid to North Korea or KEDO. The bill had seven co-sponsors, including Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a senior member on the Armed Services Committee; Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence; and Senator Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), an Armed Services Committee member.

Congressional critics of the legislation have suggested that it is irrelevant because the Bush administration has decided not to request funding for KEDO. Cox disagreed: “I think that’s exactly wrong, because they’re still pouring concrete.” He added, “We haven’t put our foot down and said no yet.”
In addition, Cox said simply declining to fund KEDO would be an unclear and ineffective signal because it would leave open the possibility of other countries continuing to build the reactors with U.S. technical support. Cox said the language in the amendment would prevent even foreign countries and companies from continuing construction, since U.S. technology is vital to the designs. “If this language remains in the legislation, this will be the end of it,” Cox said. “There remains this haze of ambiguity, and I want to make sure this is all transparent.”

But the State Department source said congressional action would not necessarily limit the administration’s options or spell the end of KEDO. “One of the nice things about the Congress is that Congress can pass one bill today and tomorrow, if conditions change, pass another bill,” he said.

Some supporters of negotiations with North Korea express concern that terminating support for KEDO could make matters worse. Erasing ambiguity might be counterproductive, according to the foreign diplomat familiar with KEDO. He said suspending the reactors project and making its resumption contingent on North Korean cooperation would be a valuable bargaining tool, which would be lost if the program is canceled. “You need the carrot and the stick—everybody sees the stick, after Iraq, but you also need to show the carrot,” he said.

The diplomat also said unilateral action by the United States might strain relations with South Korea and other U.S. allies at a time when the international community is seeking to present a united front. South Korea, in particular, has advocated for negotiations with North Korea. “If you want to really get rid of this difficulty with North Korea, and if at the same time you want to avoid a war, that means you have to engage them,” he said.


As diplomats seek to negotiate an end to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, some U.S. lawmakers and Bush administration officials are pushing to end a program designed to provide...

U.S. Imposes Sanctions on China, North Korea

Jonathan Yang

In July, Paula DeSutter, U.S. assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance, testified that China has so far failed to implement and enforce acceptable export controls. Meanwhile, the United States imposed sanctions on five Chinese companies for exporting materials that could be used for producing weapons of mass destruction or missiles.

DeSutter told the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission—an advisory body that reports to Congress—during a July 24 hearing that China is not doing enough to enforce its missile nonproliferation commitments. The State Department has repeatedly accused Chinese state-owned companies of transferring missile technology to countries such as Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, and Libya. China often defends the companies, denying the alleged proliferation activities occurred.

In 2002, China issued new export control laws aimed at curbing the spread of biological and chemical weapons technology and missiles and related technologies. (See ACT, November 2002.) DeSutter, however, said that China is not living up to the commitment it has made on paper. China is not properly enforcing its borders, and “it must establish a system of end-use verification checks to ensure that items approved for transfer are not diverted,” she stated.

Meanwhile, on July 3 the United States imposed sanctions on one North Korean and five Chinese companies for exporting materials to Iran that could be used for weapons of mass destruction programs. According to the sanctions, the exports occurred during the first half of 2002. The sanctions, imposed pursuant to the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000, took effect June 26 and will last for two years. The sanctions limit the dealings that these entities may have with the United States.

Additionally, the North Korean company—Changgwang Sinyong Corporation—was sanctioned July 25 pursuant to the 1976 Arms Export Control Act and the 1979 Export Administration Act (EAA); those sanctions last three years and eight months. Five days later, sanctions were also placed, for an indefinite period of time, on China Precision Machinery Import/Export Corporation (CPMIEC), pursuant to Executive Orders 12938 and 13094.

In addition to CPMIEC, the Chinese firms affected are Taian Foreign Trade General Corporation, Zibo Chemical Equipment Plant, Liyang Yunlong Chemical Equipment Group Company, and China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO). All of these companies, except Taian Foreign Trade General, are already under sanctions for previous nonproliferation violations.

The State Department refused to provide further details regarding the transfers these companies made that violated the Iran Nonproliferation Act. The sanctions imposed under the act prohibit the U.S. government from purchasing goods or services from and providing assistance to these entities. All sales of goods on the U.S. Munitions List or other defense-related materials and services to these entities are also prohibited. Additionally, any existing export licenses for the transfer of dual-use material to sanctioned entities are suspended, and no new licenses may be granted.

The State Department’s additional sanctions on the North Korean firm reflect its alleged transfer of Scud missiles to Yemen in December 2002. (See ACT, January/February 2003.) These latter sanctions are similar to those imposed under the Iran Nonproliferation Act but also ban the importation of products produced by the sanctioned company into the United States. In addition, because North Korea has “a non-market economy that is not a former member of the Warsaw Pact,” the Helms amendment to the EAA extends these sanctions to the North Korean government. The sanctions have little effect, however, because North Korea conducts negligible trade with the United States.


In July, Paula DeSutter, U.S. assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance, testified that China has so far failed to implement and enforce acceptable export controls. 

Other Participants' Views on the North Korea Talks

Paul Kerr

The five other parties to the Beijing talks have all stated that North Korea should not have nuclear weapons. But the United States and the other four countries—China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia—have taken different approaches, voicing their support for U.S. negotiations with North Korea and displaying far less enthusiasm for containment efforts. These differences of opinion will likely complicate any U.S. efforts to gain future support for a hard line on North Korea and suggest that the White House might allow the other participants to take the lead in offering inducements such as energy and economic assistance.


Beijing retains strong economic ties with North Korea, accounting for the bulk of that country’s economic activity. China was not involved in negotiating the Agreed Framework in 1994, under which North Korea agreed to freeze its plutonium-based nuclear weapons program in exchange for certain aid, but Beijing has taken a leadership role in bringing the United States and North Korea into a format for talks acceptable to both sides, including hosting both rounds of talks.

Many experts believe that Beijing has been applying pressure on North Korea through back-door diplomacy to resolve the issue. China, however, has constantly emphasized its opposition to the use of force or pressure to resolve the issue and held that the United States should engage North Korea in direct dialogue. China has also opposed U.S. efforts to raise the issue at the United Nations, and a Chinese arms control official said Beijing expressed reservations about the U.S.-proposed Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), according to an August 23 Washington Post article.

China’s delegate to the August talks, Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, stated August 26 that “the Korean Peninsula should be nuclear-free. At the same time, [North Korea’s] security concerns should also be addressed through…dialogue and peaceful talks.”


Tokyo has publicly taken the position closest to Washington but has still supported negotiations with North Korea. Japanese-North Korean relations appeared to make progress last September, when Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi became the first Japanese prime minister to visit North Korea. During that meeting, North Korea apologized for the kidnapping of a number of Japanese citizens and extended its moratorium on missile tests beyond 2003. The two sides also agreed to meet the next month to discuss normalizing diplomatic relations and undertaking some economic cooperation initiatives.

The normalization talks have been stalled, however, due to revelations about North Korea’s nuclear program and public anger over the kidnapping issue. Hatsuhisa Takashima, press secretary for Japan’s Foreign Ministry, said August 26 that Japan could normalize relations and “extend economic assistance” to North Korea if the latter resolves the issues surrounding its nuclear programs and the abductions.

Takashima added that Japan would “raise” the abduction issue during the talks but would leave the detailed discussion on the matter to bilateral talks it hopes to hold with North Korea on the sidelines of the Beijing talks.

Japan has shown somewhat greater interest in putting pressure on North Korea than the other participants in the Beijing discussions. Tokyo has expressed interest in stemming North Korea’s trade in illicit cargo, such as illegal drugs, and has stepped up port inspections of North Korean ships traveling between the two countries. Japan is also a participant in the PSI but has not publicly committed to any further interdiction efforts, partly because the PSI is still a work in progress. It is unknown whether Japan will fully participate in the PSI’s September Australia-hosted interdiction exercises or merely observe, an Australian government official said August 27.

South Korea

South Korea has repeatedly expressed its opposition to a nuclear-armed North Korea but has emphasized a negotiated solution to the issue. Although the nuclear issue has somewhat strained the countries’ bilateral relationship, Seoul and Pyongyang have continued discussions about various bilateral issues for some time.

South Korea has proposed a step-by-step negotiating strategy with Pyongyang to address that country’s April proposal. (See ACT, July/August 2003.) President Roh Moo-hyun said August 15 that, if Pyongyang gives up its nuclear weapons, South Korea “will take the lead in developing [North Korea’s] economy” and will “lure international organizations and funds” to North Korea.


Moscow’s ties to North Korea have weakened considerably since the end of the Cold War, but Russia has publicly been one of the countries most supportive of North Korea. Russia has repeatedly expressed its support for a negotiated resolution of North Korea’s nuclear program. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said August 15 that Russia was considering the merits of a “joint document on security guarantees...[to North Korea] to which Russia and China could accede,” according to the official ITAR-Tass news agency.

The five other parties to the Beijing talks have all stated that North Korea should not have nuclear weapons. But the United States and the other four countries...

Countries Meet to Discuss N. Korean Nuclear Stand-off

Paul Kerr

The United States and North Korea participated in multilateral talks August 27-29 in Beijing to discuss issues surrounding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The discussions, which also included China, South Korea, Russia, and Japan, marked the first time the two countries have met officially since April, when they participated in trilateral talks with China in Beijing.

The talks did not appear to achieve any significant breakthroughs. Although participants in the talks appeared optimistic that there would be another round of talks, North Korea cast some doubt on this shortly after the meetings ended. One of the chief reasons behind the impasse is a fundamental difference over timing: the United States insists that North Korea dismantle its nuclear arsenal before discussing security guarantees to Pyongyang or other issues; Pyongyang demands that the United States sign a nonaggression pact and take other steps before it eliminates its nuclear facilities.

Nonetheless, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in an August 29 press conference that the participants now “share a consensus” on several items: a “peaceful settlement” of the crisis through dialogue, the need to address North Korea’s security concerns, the continuation of dialogue and the six-party talks, the need to avoid actions that would escalate the situation, and a plan to solve the nuclear issue “through synchronous and parallel implementation.”

State Department spokeswoman Jo-Anne Prokopowicz said August 29 that Washington is “pleased” at the participants’ endorsement of the multilateral process, according to Agence France-Presse.

Despite positive comments from China and the United States, however, an August 30 statement from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) expressed Pyongyang’s dissatisfaction with the U.S. position at the recent talks, adding that Pyongyang has no “interest or expectation for the talks as they are not beneficial” to North Korea. The U.S. delegation reiterated its demand that North Korea dismantle its nuclear weapons program before addressing other North Korean concerns, according to the statement.

Wang Yi appeared to confirm that the United States had taken a hard-line stance during the talks, telling reporters September 1 that the U.S. policy is “the main problem” in achieving diplomatic progress.

Press reports indicated that the North Korean delegates threatened to test nuclear weapons, but the nature of their statement is unclear. According to an August 29 KCNA statement, North Korea told the other parties that it would not “dismantle its nuclear deterrent force” and “will have no option but to increase it” if the United States does not react positively to its proposal. Hatsuhisa Takashima, press secretary for Japan’s Foreign Ministry, said August 29 that North Korea referenced nuclear weapons but said he would not characterize the delegation’s statement as a threat.

Prokopowicz said August 29, however, that the North Korean statement at the talks was “an explicit acknowledgement” that North Korea “has nuclear weapons, but the United States will not respond to threats.” U.S. officials have said that North Korea made a veiled reference to nuclear testing during the April talks.

Attempting to Defuse a Crisis

U.S. officials had warned that the talks were the beginning of a process and not likely to yield quick results. It appeared that Washington was taking a somewhat harder line going into the talks than its allies.

A State Department official interviewed August 26 said the U.S. delegation, led by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, was to “comment” on a North Korean proposal put forward during the April talks. That proposal, according to a South Korean official, offered to eliminate Pyongyang’s two nuclear programs and halt its missile exports in exchange for energy assistance, the completion of nuclear reactors promised under a 1994 accord called the Agreed Framework, normalization of bilateral relations, and an “assurance of non-aggression.”

The April talks in Beijing were an effort to defuse the most recent nuclear weapons crisis with Pyongyang, which began last October when U.S. officials announced that their North Korean counterparts had admitted to a clandestine uranium-enrichment program in violation of several arms control agreements. In the series of tit-for-tat actions and statements that followed the October meetings, North Korea responded to U.S. pressure with several steps: ejecting UN inspectors charged with monitoring the plutonium-based nuclear facilities frozen under the Agreed Framework, withdrawing from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in January, and restarting its nuclear reactor.

Still, the exact status of North Korea’s nuclear program as the August talks began was unclear. U.S. officials said that North Korea told the United States during the April talks that it possesses nuclear weapons, threatened to transfer them to other countries, and referred to testing. Moreover, North Korean officials at the United Nations told the United States that North Korea has completed reprocessing the 8,000 spent fuel rods from its previously frozen plutonium reactor, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said July 15. Washington, however, cannot confirm these claims, Boucher added. During the April talks, North Korea claimed to have reprocessed the fuel rods, Secretary of State Colin Powell told Congress April 30.

Powell has said that reprocessing the fuel rods could yield enough plutonium for as many as six nuclear devices. But even if North Korea has extracted fissile material, it is unclear whether the country has used it to construct any nuclear weapons.

In addition, North Korea further muddied the waters August 29 when for the first time KCNA ran an explicit denial from Pyongyang to the U.S. charges that it had a uranium-enrichment program.

Bush said in a May joint statement with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun that the two countries “will not tolerate” a North Korean nuclear weapon, but U.S. officials have not specified what the United States would do if North Korea produces such weapons anyway.

China Finds a Compromise

The talks came about after intense diplomatic efforts by China to find a workable format—an issue that has been a major impediment to their taking place. Before the April talks, Washington insisted on a multilateral setting while Pyongyang insisted on meeting only bilaterally. Washington says it has insisted on multilateral talks because they will place the maximum amount of pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear program. North Korea has explained that bilateral commitments from the United States are the only way it can be sure that the United States will not threaten its security. (See ACT, May 2003.)

The April trilateral talks represented a compromise between these two positions. Afterward, the United States said it was willing to meet again but that it preferred multilateral talks expanded to include Japan and South Korea. Pyongyang responded that it would participate in such a format but wanted to first hold a bilateral meeting with Washington.

Aspects of the latest talks also represented a compromise. State Department spokesman Phillip Reeker stated August 27 that members of the U.S. and North Korean delegations met bilaterally on the sidelines during the first day of the Beijing talks. South Korean Foreign Ministry official Wie Sing-rak said that the U.S. officials “made comments about easing North Korea’s security concerns,” but he did not elaborate, according to an August 27 Associated Press article.

John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said during a July 31 speech that, in addition to multilateral diplomacy, Washington is pursuing two other tracks to counter the North Korean threat. The first is the Proliferation Security Initiative—a broad effort to prevent proliferation by persuading other countries to interdict the transfer of weapons of mass destruction and related technologies. Bolton described the initiative as a vehicle for pressuring the North Korean regime, but countries involved in the initiative are still discussing its specifics, and they have not yet made final decisions regarding interdictions. Boucher said August 18 that the United States is scheduled to participate in interdiction exercises in Australia sometime in September.

Bolton also mentioned the U.S. effort to persuade the UN Security Council to adopt a statement condemning North Korea’s actions. Washington, however, has been unable to overcome Beijing’s opposition to such a measure. Bolton said August 1 that the United States would delay going to the United Nations if multilateral talks make progress.

U.S., North Korea Stake Out Positions

According to the August 29 KCNA statement, North Korea made a proposal at the talks, similar to that made at the April discussions, for settling the nuclear issue. North Korea insisted that the United States end its “hostile policy” toward Pyongyang by concluding a “non-aggression treaty,” normalizing bilateral diplomatic relations, refraining from hindering North Korea’s “economic cooperation” with other countries, completing the reactors promised under the Agreed Framework, resuming suspended fuel oil shipments, and increasing food aid.

North Korea has repeatedly cited Washington’s “hostile policy” as the justification for its nuclear program, expressing fear that the United States intends to attack it in the same manner that U.S.-led coalition forces attacked Iraq in March. It has also cited the U.S. policy of pre-emptively attacking states developing weapons of mass destruction—as described in the Bush administration’s September 2002 National Security Strategy.

The planned U.S. response going into the talks was somewhat difficult to discern. But U.S. officials appeared to expect Pyongyang to take the first step. A senior administration official in an August 22 briefing characterized the talks as the “beginning of a process” and added that the U.S. delegation would “urge” North Korea to comply with Washington’s oft-repeated demand that North Korea “commit to the complete, verifiable, and irreversible ending of its nuclear arms program.”

Whether the United States would offer North Korea incentives to comply was uncertain. In his July speech, Bolton condemned the idea of negotiating with Pyongyang, saying that “giving into [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-il’s extortionist demands would only encourage him and…other would-be tyrants around the world.” Washington has repeatedly ruled out offering North Korea quid pro quos for an end to its nuclear program, and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice has dismissed North Korea’s April proposal as “blackmail.”

A senior Bush administration official said August 22, however, that North Korea’s compliance “could open the door to a very new kind of relationship” with the United States and other countries. This is an apparent reference to the administration’s previously proposed “bold approach,” which involves “economic and political steps” to help North Korea. The administration has repeatedly said that Pyongyang’s elimination of its nuclear program is necessary—although not necessarily sufficient—to reap the rewards of this policy, but the senior official indicated that he was not going to the talks “with some package of rewards in anticipations of progress.” Powell said August 1 that the administration would not “trade” economic incentives at the meeting for North Korean compliance.

Indeed, the administration has also insisted that issues such as human rights, missiles, and conventional forces be addressed before Washington would provide aid to North Korea. The senior official said August 22 that the talks were to be “primarily focused” on North Korea’s nuclear program, but some of these other issues could be discussed.

Washington did, however, indicate some flexibility. Powell said August 1 that the multilateral talks could provide some form of written security assurance to North Korea, although he ruled out a nonaggression treaty. In addition, the senior official said that the United States would not necessarily oppose other countries offering incentives to North Korea. Some of the other participants have indicated their intentions to so.

The agreement to solve the nuclear issue through “synchronous and parallel implementation” is perhaps another indication of U.S. flexibility on it previous position that North Korea had to dismantle its nuclear program before the United States would undertake actions of its own.

The two sides appeared to be far apart on two issues in particular. First, an August 20 KCNA statement emphasized that Washington and Pyongyang should take “simultaneous actions” to arrive at a solution, but Washington did not indicate that it planned to do so. For example, the senior administration official said August 22 that normalization of diplomatic relations was something that could occur “in the future, as progress is developed.” North Korea also has a sequence of steps it insists on following. For example, an August 20 KCNA statement said North Korea has insisted the United States must meet its demands before it could allow inspections of its nuclear facilities.

The second bone of contention is a nonaggression treaty. Although the United States said that it could provide North Korea with written security assurances that have less formal congressional backing, North Korea insisted on a treaty as a guarantee that the United States had reversed its “hostile policy.”

Administration officials have repeatedly said that the United States has no intention of attacking North Korea, and several joint statements, including the Agreed Framework, explicitly state this policy. North Korea, however, argues that the U.S. National Security Strategy—which explicitly mentions North Korea—and the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review indicate that the administration is preparing to attack it. A leaked version of the Bush administration’s January 2002 classified Nuclear Posture Review lists North Korea as a country against which the United States should be prepared to use nuclear weapons.

U.S. officials have offered conflicting statements in the last three months. In June, the administration emphasized pressuring North Korea by persuading other governments to interdict shipments of items such as weapons components and illegal drugs, which are sources of hard currency for North Korea. (See ACT, July/August 2003.) Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz argued in May that the Pyongyang regime was “teetering on the edge of economic collapse” and that this weakness was a “point of leverage” for the United States and its allies.

Powell said August 1, however, that he has no reason to believe that the regime is in danger of “imminent collapse” and that he plans to work with Pyongyang. He also acknowledged that North Korea’s neighbors do not support a policy of causing the regime’s collapse.


The United States and North Korea participated in multilateral talks August 27-29 in Beijing to discuss issues surrounding North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. 

U.S. Courts Allies to Contain North Korea, Talks Lag

Paul Kerr

As the United States continues to insist that it seeks a peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis, recent statements from high-level officials indicate that Washington plans to push forward with a strategy of containment. No negotiations have been held between the two countries since April, and on June 9 North Korea explicitly declared for the first time that it is pursuing a nuclear weapons capability.

A U.S. containment strategy would aim to impede North Korea’s trade in items that provide Pyongyang with hard currency that could then be used to support its weapons programs. John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, identified “remittances” from foreign organized crime networks, as well as the sale of ballistic missile components and illegal drugs, as sources of North Korean hard currency during a June 4 hearing before the House International Relations Committee.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said in a June 9 press briefing that preventing North Korea from acquiring hard currency would “restrict the…movement of the regime” and perhaps induce North Korea to give up its nuclear program. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz argued during a May 31 conference in Singapore 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. Other countries in the region should threaten to cut off aid to North Korea if it does not change policies the United States finds objectionable, he added.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said in a June 11 press briefing that the United States has been consulting with Japan and Australia on specific measures to stop North Korean illicit trade but emphasized that no decisions on interdiction have been made. South Korea participated in similar discussions with the United States and Japan, according to a joint statement following a June 13 meeting of the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group (TCOG). Japan has taken a first step toward enhancing interdiction, increasing port inspections of North Korean ships traveling between the two countries, Japan’s Minister of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport Chikage Oogi said in a June 10 press conference.

The effort to contain North Korean trade policy is related to the Bush administration’s recently announced Proliferation Security Initiative—a broader U.S. effort to prevent proliferation by persuading other countries to interdict the transfer of weapons of mass destruction and related technologies. Australia and Japan are members of the initiative, but China and South Korea are not. (See ACT, July/August 2003.) Secretary of State Colin Powell said June 17 that he believes that sufficient pressure can be brought to bear on North Korea even without China’s help.

There is concern among experts, however, that the containment strategy taking shape will not protect the United States from North Korea’s nuclear program—at least not for the immediate future. When asked if a containment policy provides a short-term solution to the nuclear crisis, Wolfowitz conceded that it does not but added that he did not think any other solution would be effective in the short term.

North Korea called the planned U.S. interdiction policy “little short of a sea blockade” and a “war action” in a June 18 statement from the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). North Korea also denied that it conducts illicit commerce, saying specifically that it would not sell nuclear material or missiles to terrorist organizations.


Despite its moves to strengthen the containment of North Korea, the United States maintains that it wants to “have multilateral talks” with Pyongyang that include Japan and South Korea, Armitage said in a June 20 press briefing. In a June 9 KCNA statement, Pyongyang reiterated that it would be willing to participate in multilateral negotiations but insisted that it first hold bilateral talks with Washington.

The United States and North Korea last held formal discussions in April that included China. During the trilateral talks, which took place in Beijing, North Korea told the United States that it possesses nuclear weapons, threatened to transfer them to other countries, and made a veiled reference to nuclear testing, according to U.S. officials. (See ACT, April 2003.)

The April talks were the first since the nuclear crisis started last October. At that time, according to the United States, North Korean officials told a U.S. delegation during a meeting in Pyongyang that North Korea was pursuing a uranium enrichment program in violation of several nuclear agreements, including the 1994 Agreed Framework. The situation escalated for months, and in January North Korea announced its withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). [See sidebar below.]

It is not known whether North Korea possesses nuclear weapons, but Powell said June 9 that the United States believes North Korea has “some small number of nuclear weapons.” The uranium enrichment program is being designed to produce two weapons per year. (See ACT, June 2003 and April 2003.) Additionally, U.S. officials have said that North Korea can develop five or six nuclear weapons within months if it reprocesses several thousand spent-fuel rods it has. Despite reports that in April North Korea claimed to have begun reprocessing its spent fuel, a State Department official interviewed June 24 said the United States does not know the status of Pyongyang’s reprocessing efforts.

The official also confirmed that Washington continues to insist that Pyongyang verifiably dismantle its nuclear program before President George W. Bush will undertake his self-described “bold approach,” which U.S. officials have said involves “economic and political steps” to help North Korea and to improve relations between the two countries. The official explained that the Bush administration may initiate these steps if North Korea gives up its nuclear program, but that issues such as human rights, missiles, and conventional forces would still have to be addressed.

North Korea continues to reject the U.S. stance on negotiations. A June 18 KCNA statement stated that this policy, combined with Washington’s efforts to increase pressure on Pyongyang, is an attempt to “contain” the country “with ease after forcing it to disarm itself.” The statement also explained North Korea’s view that such attempts at disarmament are a prelude to war, citing the invasion of Iraq in March as proof.

Increasing its rhetoric even further, North Korea stated in a June 9 KCNA statement that it would “build up a nuclear deterrent force” if the United States “keeps threatening [North Korea] with nukes instead of abandoning its hostile policy toward Pyongyang.” Although the statement did not say that North Korea possesses nuclear weapons, it marked the most explicit public statement from North Korea on the issue. The statement nevertheless maintained that a North Korean nuclear force would not be aimed “to threaten and blackmail others.”

U.S. officials have said that in April North Korea offered to eliminate its two nuclear programs and halt its missile exports if the United States complied with a list of demands which, according to a South Korean official, included the resumption of heavy-fuel oil deliveries, the completion of the reactors promised under the Agreed Framework, the “normalization of relations” between the two countries, and an “assurance of non-aggression.”

North Korea referenced its April proposal in the June 9 statement and indicated that it would “clear up” U.S. concerns about its nuclear program if Washington “drops its hostile policy toward” North Korea—a reference to what North Korea perceives as U.S. attempts to weaken its economy and threaten its security with both nuclear and conventional forces.

Meanwhile, Washington is renewing its efforts to persuade the UN Security Council to adopt a Security Council president’s statement condemning North Korea’s actions, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said June 20. A U.S. official interviewed that same day said that the United States has informally circulated a draft among the Security Council’s members.

The official added that China continues to oppose the statement because it does not believe the timing is right and wants to know more about the U.S. “game plan” for resolving the situation. (See ACT, April 2003.) Beijing continues to encourage dialogue and support a negotiated settlement to the nuclear crisis, a foreign ministry spokesperson said in a June 17 press briefing. (See ACT, June 2003.)

South Korea and Japan also continue to support a diplomatic solution to the crisis, but a joint press conference held June 7 between Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun revealed that the two leaders continue to differ somewhat in their approaches to North Korea. Koizumi stated that “dialogue and pressure are necessary for the diplomatic…solution,” according to a June 7 Agence France Press report, but Roh said that Seoul places “more emphasis on dialogue.”

Indeed, Seoul proposed a negotiating strategy with North Korea during the TCOG meeting, apparently similar in many respects to North Korea’s April proposal. According to a June 17 Joongang Ilbo article, the South Korean plan suggests “step-by-step measures,” requiring North Korea to verifiably dismantle its nuclear program, end missile exports, and continue its missile-test moratorium. In return, Pyongyang’s demands for security assurances, economic assistance, normalized relations, and the resumption of heavy-fuel oil shipments that had been part of the Agreed Framework would be addressed.

North Korea’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Status

Although North Korea announced its withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) on January 10, Pyongyang’s status within the regime has yet to be formally determined.

Some states have argued that because North Korea did not cite or explain what “extraordinary events” led to its January 10 announcement, as required by the treaty, its withdrawal is invalid. A requisite three-month waiting period ended without comment on April 10, and a meeting of the remaining 188 NPT member states in late April did not confront the issue directly. (See ACT, June 2003.) The treaty’s depositories—Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States—have not arrived at a decision about how to address North Korea’s withdrawal, prolonging the holdup of a formal announcement of North Korea’s treaty status.

Sources indicated that the depository governments are unwilling to expend bureaucratic time and energy on the question. One Western diplomat stressed, “It’s important to focus on what the North Koreans are actually doing” and leave the question of its NPT status aside for the moment. According to another source close to the issue, if the biggest problem—getting Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons ambition—is solved, North Korea could again be compliant with NPT standards, thus rendering the question of withdrawal moot.

-Christine Kucia

As the United States continues to insist that it seeks a peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear crisis, recent statements from high-level officials indicate...

Congressional Delegation Visits North Korea to Ease Tension

Jonathan Yang

A bipartisan delegation returned June 3 from a rare trip to North Korea convinced that a negotiated solution could be found to the current tension over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

The delegation considered its purpose to put “a human face on the U.S.” rather than to represent the administration, according to Representative Curt Weldon (R-PA), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and the leader of the delegation. Representatives Solomon Ortiz (D-TX), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), Jeff Miller (R-FL), and Joe Wilson (R-SC) were also members of the delegation. Weldon added that the delegation’s trip was “extremely worthwhile” and “positive,” with discussions covering a variety of issues with North Korean officials, including allegations of drug trafficking, weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missile testing and sales, and Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Trying to gauge whether diplomacy could solve the current tensions with Pyongyang, Weldon presented a 10-point plan of action to Kim Gye Gwan, North Korean vice foreign minister and the appointed leader for negotiations on this issue, and received an encouraging response. In a June 25 speech at the 50th anniversary celebration of the U.S.-South Korean alliance, Weldon emphasized that the plan was not an attempt to negotiate, and the vice minister understood that the points were Weldon’s personal ideas and were not endorsed by the U.S. State Department. However, the vice minister’s extremely positive response provided encouragement that official negotiations could provide a solution—after hearing the plan, Kim “smiled and said that it was ‘exactly what we’re looking for,’” recalled Weldon.

In his June 25 speech, Weldon described his 10-point plan as a two-phase solution. Initially, the United States, its allies and North Korea would pursue five points of action. These included the United States entering into a one-year nonaggression pact with the North Korean government and officially recognizing that government. Pyongyang would “officially renounce its entire nuclear weapons and research programs” and rejoin the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). The United States and its allies would also provide an economic aid package to help North Korea’s economy and its citizens.

The second phase would occur at the end of one year or another agreed upon time period, contingent on the successful completion of the other points in phase one, including complete nuclear transparency and ratification of the NPT by North Korea. This phase proposes an additional five points of action. Pyongyang would join the Missile Technology Control Regime and agree to establish a plan for improving humanitarian rights in North Korea. The United States would enter into a permanent nonaggression pact and establish interparliamentary relationships to work with North Korea’s legislature on a variety of issues. Finally, a multinational threat reduction program would attempt to remove all nuclear weapons, materials, resources, and capabilities from North Korea within two years.

With the sense that a diplomatic solution exists, Weldon is now focused on encouraging Pyongyang to drop its opposition to multilateral talks. He plans to meet in New York City with North Korea’s UN ambassador, Song Ryol Han, to discuss this issue.


A bipartisan delegation returned June 3 from a rare trip to North Korea convinced that a negotiated solution could be found to the current tension over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

North Korea Chronology

Paul Kerr


October 3-5, 2002: James Kelly, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, visits North Korea. The highest-ranking administration official to visit Pyongyang, Kelly reiterates U.S. concerns about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, export of missile components, conventional force posture, human rights violations, and humanitarian situation. Kelly informs North Korea that it could improve bilateral relations through a “comprehensive settlement” addressing these issues. No future meetings are announced.

Referring to Kelly’s approach as “high handed and arrogant,” North Korea argues that the U.S. policy “compels the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] to take all necessary countermeasures, pursuant to the army-based policy whose validity has been proven.”

October 16, 2002: The United States announces that North Korea admitted to having a clandestine program to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons after Kelly confronted representatives from Pyongyang during an October 3-5 visit. Kelly later explained that the North Korean admission came the day after he informed them that the United States was aware of the program. North Korea has denied several times that it admitted to having this program.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher states that “North Korea’s secret nuclear weapons program is a serious violation of North Korea’s commitments under the Agreed Framework as well as under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, its International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards agreement, and the Joint North-South Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” Boucher also says that the United States wants North Korea to comply with its nonproliferation commitments and seeks “a peaceful resolution of this situation.”

November 5, 2002: North Korea threatens to end its moratorium on ballistic missile tests if North Korea-Japan normalization talks do not achieve progress.

November 14, 2002: The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, which is responsible for building the two light-water reactors the United States agreed to supply in the 1994 Agreed Framework, announces that it is suspending heavy-fuel oil deliveries to North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s October 4 acknowledgement that it has a uranium-enrichment program. The last shipment reaches North Korea November 18.

November 29, 2002: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopts a resolution calling upon North Korea to “clarify” its “reported uranium-enrichment program.” North Korea rejects the resolution, saying the IAEA’s position is biased in favor of the United States.

December 9, 2002: Spanish and U.S. forces intercept and search a ship carrying North Korean Scud missiles and related cargo to Yemen. The United States allows the shipment to be delivered because it lacks the necessary legal authority to seize the cargo. White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says that Washington had intelligence that the ship was carrying missiles to the Middle East and was concerned that its ultimate destination might have been Iraq.

December 12, 2002: North Korea sends a letter to the IAEA announcing that it is restarting its one functional reactor and is reopening the other nuclear facilities frozen under the Agreed Framework. The letter requests that the IAEA remove the seals and monitoring equipment from its nuclear facilities. A North Korean spokesman blames the United States for violating the Agreed Framework and says that the purpose of restarting the reactor is to generate electricity—an assertion disputed by U.S. officials.

A November 27 Congressional Research Service report states that the reactor could produce enough plutonium annually for one bomb. The CIA states in a 2002 report to Congress that the spent fuel rods “contain enough plutonium for several more [nuclear] weapons.”

U.S. estimates on North Korea’s current nuclear status differ. A State Department official said January 3, 2003, that the U.S. intelligence community believes North Korea already possesses one or two nuclear weapons made from plutonium produced before the negotiation of the Agreed Framework. A January 2003 CIA report to Congress estimates that Pyongyang “has produced enough plutonium” for one or two weapons.

December 14, 2002: North Korea states in a letter to the IAEA that the status of its nuclear facilities is a matter between the United States and North Korea and “not pursuant to any agreement” with the IAEA. The letter further declares that North Korea will take unilateral action to remove seals and monitoring cameras if the IAEA does not act.

December 22-24, 2002: North Korea cuts all seals and disrupts IAEA surveillance equipment on its nuclear facilities and materials. An IAEA spokesman says December 26 that North Korea started moving fresh fuel rods into the reactor, suggesting that it might be restarted soon.

December 27, 2002: North Korea orders IAEA inspectors out of the country. They leave December 31.


January 6, 2003: The IAEA Board of Governors adopts a resolution condemning North Korea’s decision to restart its nuclear reactor and resume operation of its related facilities. The resolution “deplores” North Korea’s action “in the strongest terms” and calls on Pyongyang to meet “immediately, as a first step” with IAEA officials. It also calls on North Korea to re-establish the seals and monitoring equipment it dismantled, to comply fully with agency safeguards, to clarify details about its reported uranium-enrichment program, and to allow the agency to verify that all its nuclear material is “declared and…subject to safeguards.”
January 10, 2003: North Korea announces its withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), effective January 11. Although Article X of the NPT requires that a country give three months’ notice in advance of withdrawing, North Korea argues that it has satisfied this requirement because it originally announced its decision to withdraw March 12, 1993, and suspended the decision one day before it was to become legally binding. An IAEA spokesman says the agency considers North Korea to have a safeguards agreement in place for the remainder of the three-month period from Pyongyang’s withdrawal announcement, suggesting the IAEA still considers North Korea to be party to the NPT.

January 12, 2003: Choe Jin Su, North Korea’s ambassador to China, signals that Pyongyang might not adhere to its moratorium on testing long-range missiles, saying that Pyongyang believes it “cannot go along with the self-imposed missile moratorium any longer,” according to a January 12 Los Angeles Times article.

February 12, 2003: Responding to North Korea’s rejection of the November 2002 and January 2003 IAEA resolutions, the IAEA Board of Governors adopts a resolution declaring Pyongyang in “further non-compliance” with its obligations under the NPT. The board decides to report the matter to the UN Security Council, in accordance with agency mandates.

February 27, 2003: U.S. officials confirm North Korea has restarted the five-megawatt nuclear reactor that had been frozen by the Agreed Framework.

March 19, 2003: North Korea again signals that it might not adhere to its moratorium on testing long-range missiles, asserting in a March 19 Korean Central News Agency statement that it has the “sovereign right” to have a “peaceful” missile program. North Korea conducted missile tests February 24 and March 10, but both tests involved short-range missiles that did not violate the moratorium.

March 24, 2003: The United States imposes sanctions on the Changgwang Sinyong Corporation of North Korea for transferring missile technology to Khan Research Laboratories in Pakistan. The laboratory was sanctioned for receiving the items. Philip Reeker, deputy State Department spokesman, said April 1 that the sanctions were imposed only for a “missile-related transfer” and not the transfer of nuclear technology from Pakistan to North Korea.

April 23-25, 2003: The United States, North Korea, and China hold trilateral talks in Beijing. North Korea tells the U.S. delegation that it possesses nuclear weapons, according to Boucher on April 28—the first time that Pyongyang has made such an admission.

North Korea also tells the U.S. delegation that it has completed reprocessing the spent nuclear fuel from the five-megawatt reactor frozen under the Agreed Framework, according to Secretary of State Colin Powell during an April 30 hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Boucher adds that the North Korean delegation told the U.S. officials that Pyongyang “might get rid of all their nuclear programs…[and] stop their missile exports.” Powell states April 28 that North Korea expects “something considerable in return” for this effort.


Congress Divided on North Korea, Confused by Bush Policy

Jonathan M. Katz

Complaining that the Bush administration has offered little guidance as to how to interpret the behavior of Kim Jong Il’s government, members of Congress have been putting forward their own solutions to the nuclear standoff with Pyongyang.

The congressional ferment served as a backdrop to Bush’s May meetings with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

Some legislators went as far as traveling to North Korea. A bipartisan group of six lawmakers began a fact-finding visit to North Korea May 30 in an effort to ease tensions between Pyongyang and Washington. Curt Weldon (R-PA), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, led the group, which included Republican Representatives Joe Wilson (SC) and Jeff Miller (FL) and Democratic Representatives Eliot Engel (NY) and Texans Solomon Ortiz and Silvestre Reyes.

Some congressional leaders remain committed to diplomacy. One round of talks between North Korea, the United States, and China dissolved earlier than expected April 25 when Pyongyang declared itself a nuclear power. But Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-IN), for one, remains convinced that problems could be resolved in a future round of negotiations.

“At the moment, we really need to let the diplomatic route in which we are very active proceed,” Lugar said. “[The negotiations are] not for show or going through the motions.”

Roh’s meeting with Bush was a sign that cooperation is possible on the peninsula, Lugar said in an interview two days before Koizumi’s visit to Crawford, Texas. Lugar said he was further encouraged by plans for a June meeting between Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Although he thinks diplomatic pressure is the most sensible way to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear program, Lugar said he believes the threat of force will strengthen the stance of U.S. negotiators at the table. He worries, however, about the possibility of accidental war stemming from misunderstandings, according to a senior staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The senator himself called the prospect of war “undesirable” and said with some concern that military action “had not been ruled out.”

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he also believes in negotiations. Levin has been critical of what he describes as the Bush administration’s aggressive stance. The assistance of South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia will also be necessary to deal with Pyongyang, Levin said.

On the other hand, some on Capitol Hill want the Bush administration to take a firmer approach with North Korea. The Missile Threat Reduction Act of 2003, which is being prepared for a vote in the House, would threaten sanctions against North Korea and any country that purchases nuclear technologies from Pyongyang. The item, a section of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for fiscal years 2004 and 2005, was introduced by Representative Tom Lantos (D-CA), ranking member on the House International Relations Committee.

The act is intended to provide a legal framework for preventing incidents such as Yemen’s December 2002 purchase of North Korean Scud missiles. That missile shipment was intercepted en route to Yemen—and released. The United States did not have authority to hold the missiles, White House spokesman Ari Fleisher said at the time.

Citing a Bush policy he described as “all hat and no cowboy,” a House International Relations Committee aide said the act would force the administration to be tougher on Pyongyang by imposing sanctions against governments who sponsor corporations and individuals involved in missile trading. Lantos’ bill would double the current two-year period of sanctions. The legislation also proposes a three-year probationary period of close scrutiny, making an effective penalty period of seven years.

The framers of the act seek to end a tradition of dismissing sanctions against proliferators through entirely classified proceedings, the staffer said. The desire not to embarrass allied countries has led the United States to waive sanctions behind closed doors in years past, he said. The Bush administration would still be able to waive sanctions against governments and individuals but would be asked to file an open document noting that the initial violation occurred.

The Lantos measure would provide up to $750 million to countries not listed on the State Department’s terrorist list that shut down their nuclear programs. Because it is on that list, North Korea would not be eligible for the program. But Lantos’ staffer said the intended effect would be to discourage other countries that have shown an interest in acquiring nuclear capabilities from following North Korea’s path.

Another bill in the House would end the transfer of nuclear-related technologies to the North. Under the Clinton administration’s 1994 Agreed Framework, North Korea’s energy needs were to be partly met through the U.S. transfer of technology, such as light-water nuclear reactors, in exchange for North Korea’s agreement to shut down its plutonium program.

Representative Edward Markey (D-MA), who sponsored the amendment to the 2003 Energy Policy act, has vehemently pushed the Bush administration and Energy Department to stop such transfers.

“Whatever steps are taken in future negotiations to reduce the threat posed by the government in Pyongyang, providing additional nuclear technology and know-how should be off the table,” said Representative Christopher Cox (R-CA), the bill’s other sponsor. The House passed the full bill, including the Cox-Markey amendment, in April. It is now pending before the Senate.

Frustration with the tenets of the Agreed Framework between the United States and North Korea is pervasive in the Senate as well.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, was scathing in his criticism of the Clinton administration’s bargain with Pyongyang. “The greatest foreign policy failure of the Clinton administration was entering into a deal that they could not verify or enforce,” McCain said.

Clinton administration officials have defended the agreement as necessary to bring the 1994 conflict over the North’s attempts to develop a nuclear weapons program to a peaceful resolution. For example, Ambassador Robert Gallucci, a key architect of the Agreed Framework, challenged McCain and other critics to come up with a workable framework of their own.

Indeed, in the current crisis, lawmakers are also not relying solely on diplomatic “sticks.” As “carrots,” Lugar, Levin, and other leaders have said that humanitarian assistance to the famished people of North Korea could be on the table. Many on the Hill have also said that they would consider assisting Pyongyang’s energy needs as long as they could be assured that the power would not be used to produce weapons.


Complaining that the Bush administration has offered little guidance as to how to interpret the behavior of Kim Jong Il’s government, members of Congress have been...

North Korea Ups the Ante in Nuclear Standoff

Paul Kerr

North Korea accused the United States of violating the spirit of a 1992 agreement to keep the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons, calling the agreement a “dead document” in a May 12 statement from the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). Meanwhile, Washington and its allies worked to formulate their next moves in the diplomatic standoff surrounding North Korea’s nuclear program, but no decisions have been made on whether another round of talks with North Korea will take place.

The 1992 Joint North-South Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula mandates that the two countries “not test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons” or “possess nuclear reprocessing and uranium enrichment facilities.” The agreement also calls for the two countries to conduct inspections in order to verify the agreement, but the inspections have never been implemented.

Pyongyang did not explicitly repudiate the agreement but blamed the United States for causing the nuclear confrontation and singled out the Bush administration’s policies for especially severe criticism. The May 12 statement cited President George W. Bush’s 2001 termination of negotiations over North Korea’s missile programs, his inclusion of North Korea in his “axis of evil,” the administration’s policy of pre-emption, and the U.S. attack on Iraq as evidence that the United States poses a threat to North Korea. North Korea has repeatedly made similar charges in the past. (See ACT, May 2003.)

The statement also says that North Korea needs a “physical deterrent force”—a possible reference to nuclear weapons—to protect itself from a U.S. attack. Bush and other U.S. officials have repeatedly stated that the United States has no intention of attacking North Korea.

In a May 13 statement, State Department spokesman Philip Reeker termed Pyongyang’s announcement a “regrettable step…in the wrong direction.”

The United States has argued for months that North Korea violated the 1992 agreement by pursuing a clandestine uranium-enrichment program. U.S. officials said in October that North Korea admitted to having such a program during a meeting earlier that month when a U.S. delegation visited North Korea. North Korea has denied making such an admission. (See ACT, November 2002.)

North Korea, however, told the United States during trilateral talks held in April with China in Beijing that it possesses nuclear weapons. Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Senate Appropriations Committee during an April 30 hearing that North Korea also threatened to transfer the weapons to other countries or “display them”—a possible reference to nuclear testing.

The state of Pyongyang’s nuclear program remains unclear. Powell stated April 30 that North Korean officials told the U.S. delegation during the April talks that it “reprocessed all the fuel rods” stored in North Korea as a result of the 1994 Agreed Framework. Sun Joun-yung, South Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, was less definite in a May 15 speech, saying that North Korea declared during the talks that it “had nearly completed” reprocessing.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher did not comment on whether North Korea has started reprocessing during a May 8 press briefing. Whether North Korea actually possesses nuclear weapons is also unknown, but Powell said during a May 4 interview on NBC’s Meet the Press that North Korea could generate enough plutonium for “five or six” nuclear devices by reprocessing the fuel rods.

Washington Evaluates Options

Meanwhile, Bush held meetings with South Korean and Japanese leaders to coordinate policy on the nuclear standoff. A May 14 joint statement issued after a meeting that day between Bush and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun said the two countries “will not tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea” and expressed their “commitment to work for the complete, verifiable and irreversible elimination of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program through peaceful means based on international cooperation.”

The statement added that “increased threats to peace and stability on the peninsula would require consideration of further steps,” but it did not specify what those steps might be.

Additionally, the joint statement reiterated the U.S. claim that it cannot implement its “bold approach” unless North Korea eliminates its nuclear programs. Administration officials have described this policy as involving “economic and political steps” to help North Korea and improve relations between the two countries, although it is not clear whether North Korean concessions on its nuclear program would be sufficient for Washington to implement these measures.

Bush said during a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi following a bilateral May 23 meeting that talks with North Korea “must…include Japan and South Korea.” Washington has argued that multilateral talks are necessary because the crisis affects many countries and because such talks will be more effective than bilateral negotiations.

Whether the United States will pursue future talks with North Korea is unknown. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice stated during a May 14 speech that the United States would be “willing” to conduct further talks with North Korea “if we believe that they are useful at some point in time.”

But Rice also stated in a May 12 interview with Reuters that the United States will not “respond point by point” to a proposal North Korean delegates made during the April talks. Boucher said in April that North Korea had offered to eliminate its two nuclear programs and halt its missile exports in exchange for U.S. compliance with a list of demands. Rice characterized the North Korean proposal as “blackmail” during the May 14 speech.

Ambassador Sun stated in his May 15 speech that North Korea’s demands included the resumption of heavy-fuel oil deliveries, the completion of the reactors promised under the Agreed Framework, the “normalization of relations” between the two countries, and an “assurance of non-aggression.”

North Korea has repeatedly demanded a nonaggression pact and an end to U.S. economic sanctions in its public statements. Washington insists that North Korea dismantle its nuclear program as a precondition for discussions on other issues.

North Korea argued in a May 13 KCNA statement that it is only asking the United States to live up to promises made in past agreements. The first three of its demands are explicitly covered under the Agreed Framework, which also requires the United States to “provide formal assurances to [North Korea], against the threat or use of nuclear weapons.”

A May 24 KCNA statement indicated that Pyongyang will accept multilateral talks but wants to have bilateral talks with Washington “for a candid discussion on each other’s policies” before participating in multilateral discussions.

Bush administration officials also indicated that Washington might pursue a more robust interdiction policy to halt illicit North Korean exports. Rice indicated May 12 that the United States would step up its efforts to interdict North Korean shipments of missiles and narcotics. Powell said in a May 5 press briefing that the United States would work to prevent any exports of nuclear material. The United States intercepted a shipment of Scud missiles bound for Yemen in December but let the cargo go through. (See ACT, January/February 2003.)

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer would not say during a May 23 press briefing whether the United States was pursuing sanctions against North Korea.

A North Korean army spokesman said in February that North Korea would “abandon its commitment” to the 1953 Armistice Agreement signed at the end of the Korean War if the United States imposes a blockade.

Allied Policy

Differences remain among Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington over North Korea policy. Roh expressed support for continuing negotiations with North Korea during a May 15 interview on the Newshour with Jim Lehrer, arguing that “there is a high likelihood” that North Korea will give up its nuclear program if the United States, South Korea, China, and Japan offer North Korea “security guarantees and…an opportunity to reform and open up its economy.” “It’s quite common to arrive at a compromise through giving and taking,” Roh added.

Despite Roh’s pro-negotiation stance, the U.S.-South Korean statement also says that “future inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation will be conducted in light of developments on the North Korean nuclear issue”—an indication that Seoul is taking a harder line in its bilateral relations with North Korea. South Korea has previously held talks on economic cooperation and other issues without any linkage to North Korea’s nuclear program.

In the May 15 interview, Roh also stated that North Korea “will not be allowed to reprocess…plutonium to make new nuclear weapons”—a tougher stance than the United States has taken. In a May 8 statement, Reeker said only that reprocessing “would be a matter of deep concern.”
North Korea reacted negatively in a May 21 KCNA statement to the Bush-Roh meeting’s outcome, criticizing Seoul for its apparent policy shift and arguing that increased pressure on Pyongyang would increase the risk “of a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula.”

Tokyo’s North Korea policy statements have been more in line with Washington’s view than with South Korea. Koizumi, however, took a position on further talks with North Korea that reflected Seoul’s stance, saying May 23 that “continuation of the multilateral talks is important.”

Koizumi also said the same day that Tokyo would not normalize relations with Pyongyang until the latter resolves concerns about its nuclear program, its development of ballistic missiles, and abduction of Japanese citizens. The two countries agreed during a September 2002 meeting to meet to discuss normalizing diplomatic relations, but progress has been stalled by reports of North Korea’s claim to have a nuclear weapons program and Japanese anger over Pyongyang’s September 2002 admission that it had abducted Japanese citizens.

Addressing concerns about illegal exports to North Korea, Koizumi added that “Japan will crack down more rigorously in [sic] illegal activities,” apparently referring to more stringent enforcement measures on Japanese firms that have been trading with North Korea. A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, however, said in a May 20 statement that Japan “has not been considering” sanctions on North Korea.

A May 27 joint Chinese-Russian statement expresses support for the “nuclear-free status of [the] Korean peninsula and observance there of the regime of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” but it adds that “power pressure or the use of force to resolve the problems existing there are unacceptable” and that the issue should be resolve diplomatically.

The statement seems to express greater support for the North Korean negotiating position, saying that North Korea’s security “must be guaranteed and favorable conditions…established for its socio-economic development.” It also says that these activities should occur “simultaneously” with nonproliferation efforts.

A May 27 Chinese Foreign Ministry statement expressed support for the continuation of multilateral talks but added that the United States and North Korea should make future trilateral talks a “top priority.”


North Korea accused the United States of violating the spirit of a 1992 agreement to keep the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons...

The North Korean Crisis: What's Next?



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

Moderator: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association

Questions and Answers

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Their basic positions are:

Peace and stability on the peninsula should be preserved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kimball: That's several questions there, sir.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Albright:Can I add one quick thing?

Kimball: David.

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

Kimball: Okay, thanks. Yes, sir?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope that helps.

Kimball: Yes, sir?

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

Kimball: Who's that question directed to?

Q. Any of the panelists.

Kimball: Any of the panelists. Larry Scheinman.

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

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

Q. (Off mike.)

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

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

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

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

Kimball: Bob?

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

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

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

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

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

Q. If I could follow up?

Kimball: Very quickly.

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

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

Q. Mmm hmm.

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

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

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

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

Kimball: Yes, ma'am?

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

Albright:Not sure about that.

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

Albright:They said they're not reprocessing?

Q. Yes.

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

Q. They said they don't think…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kimball: Anyone? Comparisons between the Iranian…

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

Kimball: Next question. Yes, sir?

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

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

Q. Yes. Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(End of Available Audio)

Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

ACA Press Conference

Country Resources:

Subject Resources:


Subscribe to RSS - North Korea