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– Hans Blix
Former IAEA Director-General
North Korea

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

Jonathan M. Katz

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

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

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

Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage

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

Assistant Secretary James Kelly

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

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

Admiral Thomas Boulton Fargo

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

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

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

Senator Richard Lugar

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

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

Senator Carl Levin

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

Senator Joseph Biden, Jr.

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

Representative Henry Hyde

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

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

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

Representative Edward Markey

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

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

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

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

Paul Kerr

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

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

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

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

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

Crisis Intensifies

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

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

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

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

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

Renewal of Talks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. Policy

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

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

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

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

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

Reprocessing Questions

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

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

Allied Reaction

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

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

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

 

 

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

The North Korea Nuclear Crisis: A Strategy for Negotiations

Alan D. Romberg and Michael D. Swaine

After weeks of behind-the-scenes discussions, the United States and North Korea have finally revived a dialogue to resolve the ongoing confrontation over the North’s nuclear weapons program and what Pyongyang views as hostile U.S. policy toward it. The reopening of this dialogue was long overdue and constitutes only the first step in what will almost certainly prove to be an extremely arduous and prolonged process.

The structure of the Beijing talks represented a compromise. Although it maintained its insistence on “direct” talks with the United States, North Korea relented on its demand for a bilateral framework by permitting China to participate. At the same time, Washington agreed, at least for that round, to compromise on its insistence on multilateral talks in favor of the less-then-desirable trilateral format. After the first day, however, the talks stumbled over North Korea’s insistence on holding a bilateral U.S.-North Korean conversation, which the United States refused to accept. This underscores the reality that, regardless of the formal structure of any future talks, it is unlikely that agreement will be achievable or sustainable without direct discussions between Washington and Pyongyang.

Overcoming an earlier reticence to become too heavily involved, China played a critical role,1 not only facilitating the arrangement but also acting as a principal interlocutor in the trilateral meetings and in separate conversations with the U.S. and North Korean delegations after the disagreement over a bilateral U.S.-North Korean meeting. Although China was the only participant in the Beijing talks other than the North and the United States, Japan and South Korea were closely consulted and are already deeply involved in working with Washington on next steps.

Eventually, assuming dialogue continues, the United States hopes to move to a genuinely multilateral negotiation involving all five countries plus Russia. Indeed, if the discussion remains trilateral rather than either expanding to include the other players directly or contracting to become a solely bilateral U.S.-North Korean dialogue, this will present a major challenge for the United States in preserving and strengthening its strategic relationships in the region. South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun’s official visit to Washington in mid-May will be an important step in that process.

Determining the next steps in the dialogue will be complicated by what actually transpired in Beijing, especially the North Korean delegation leader’s reported claim that the North already possesses nuclear weapons and his assertion that what happens next with those weapons depends on whether the United States negotiates sincerely on Pyongyang’s key issues. The delegate also reportedly reiterated an earlier ambiguous claim that North Korea is in the “final phase” of reprocessing more than 8,000 spent fuel rods—enough for five or six weapons worth of fissile material—that had previously been canned and placed in safe storage.

Assessing the implications of the talks will take some time, but an initial reading suggests that, while the North has chosen to brandish the nuclear card in a more open way than before, it has done so not necessarily because it intends formally to declare itself a nuclear-weapon state but rather to stimulate attention to its agenda—rejecting the U.S. position that Pyongyang must return to the status quo ante before a broader conversation can take place. Moreover, it is by no means clear that North Korea indeed possesses deliverable nuclear weapons or has completed reprocessing. Both claims might be bluffs, or at least exaggerations, designed to strengthen its hand in any subsequent dialogue.

In any event, each side has laid out its “principled” positions in Beijing, alerting the other to its bottom-line requirements. North Korea’s recent claims will no doubt stir further debate in Washington about whether the North has crossed a “red line” and, if so, how to react. The views of others—principally China and South Korea—will be critical. Beijing has already stated its position in favor of continuing diplomacy and “peaceful talks.” At this early stage, while it might hint at more coercive action and will probably insist on taking the issue to the UN Security Council, for the moment the United States would be hard put to pursue a nondiplomatic course.

Ultimate success in any future dialogue with North Korea will require the United States to reach some level of agreement with, or at least elicit tacit acceptance by, China, South Korea, Japan, and probably Russia2 on the key elements of a strategic roadmap for engaging North Korea at all stages of the negotiating process. The need for close consultation with South Korea and Japan is particularly important, given the fact that, despite their vital national interest in the outcome, they have been excluded, at least initially, from discussions with Pyongyang.

This strategic roadmap should incorporate, to the extent possible, the minimum objectives desired by all five powers in dealing with Pyongyang and their preferred responses to the North’s likely efforts to manipulate the negotiations and to avoid or minimize compliance with any agreement reached. At the same time, it should ensure that the North’s most important concerns are also addressed. This is a tall order and will require great diplomatic finesse, patience, and probably some degree of compromise on all sides.

Agreement among the five on such issues almost certainly is unlikely even in the next stage of talks with North Korea. China—and probably South Korea and Russia as well—will most likely resist agreeing early on to any specific demands beyond the desire to rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons and to resolve the existing problem peacefully. At some point, however, all five powers will need to reach a basic understanding on the key specifics of the negotiation process and objectives. The alternative—an excessively general, uncoordinated, U.S.-dominated strategy possibly centered on unrealistic or unreasonable demands on the North—will almost certainly result in failed negotiations, a further escalation of tension, and perhaps a military conflict that would prove catastrophic for all parties concerned.

North Korea’s specific negotiating objectives are a matter for speculation. On the surface, Pyongyang calls for a U.S.-North Korean nonaggression treaty, U.S. respect for North Korea’s sovereignty, and U.S. willingness not to obstruct the North’s economic relations with other countries and relevant international financial institutions. In return, Pyongyang has said that it will fully satisfy U.S. concerns, presumably meaning that it is willing to dismantle its nuclear weapons program and allow U.S. inspections to verify that action. More recently, North Korea has cast some doubt on the value of a nonaggression pact and said that only a powerful physical deterrent would suffice to ward off American aggression. This has reinforced concern that Pyongyang intends to negotiate whatever security assurances it can but hold on to at least some form of a nuclear weapons program.

For the United States, any negotiating strategy must aim to achieve the complete, verifiable abandonment by North Korea of its nuclear weapons program. Despite the doubts just cited, it is by no means clear that North Korea will ultimately refuse to dismantle its nuclear program if it obtains political, security, and economic benefits sufficient to ensure regime survival for now, especially if the alternative appears to be a confrontation that could well lead to regime change. Therefore, any subsequent negotiations must be designed, first and foremost, to test the North’s willingness to give up that program. Over time, it will also be important to address the termination of any chemical and biological weapons programs and, eventually, the far broader question of reducing and redeploying conventional weapons. For the moment, however, focusing on the elimination of the nuclear weapons program and on constraining the missile delivery systems will be more than enough to handle and sufficient to quell the current crisis.

Fundamentally important, any negotiating strategy must also contain contingencies for handling various actions Pyongyang might undertake in response to U.S. negotiating offers or agreements reached, including evasion, cheating, or an outright refusal to completely dismantle its nuclear program. These actions should not be assumed, but, as the North Korean statements in Beijing make clear, they must be anticipated, and a lack of agreement among the United States and the other involved powers concerning how to respond to North Korea could easily undermine any effort to attain Washington’s minimum objectives.

This “test and response” negotiating approach will most likely require a far more comprehensive version of the 1994 Agreed Framework—one that trades formal security guarantees, economic assistance, and diplomatic recognition for a complete and verifiable abandonment of Pyongyang’s nuclear program. Where the 1994 accord focused almost exclusively on one complex of facilities—plutonium producing reactors and a reprocessing plant at Yongbyon—any new agreement must be comprehensive, covering all types of potential fissile material production and including a provision to inspect any suspect sites. Implementing this entire package will not only require actions by the United States but also by the other involved countries, which is—in addition to their obvious vital security interests—why their participation is so important. As a first step, however, North Korea must agree to return to the status quo ante without compensation.

This will require an initial freeze on all activities relating to Pyongyang’s nuclear program, especially the operation of the reprocessing facility, the existing small (5 megawatt) Yongbyon research reactor, construction of two larger (50 megawatt and 200 megawatt) reactors, and any uranium-enrichment efforts. It should also include reaffirmation of an indefinite moratorium on long-range missile launches. Such actions should be accompanied by a commitment to abide by the terms of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, including the readmission of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors and their monitoring equipment to Yongbyon and verifiable steps to halt efforts to procure highly enriched uranium and dismantle any uranium-enrichment facilities that might exist.

To facilitate acceptance of these conditions by Pyongyang (and to ensure the support of Beijing and Seoul), Washington should provide prior assurances that it will sincerely address each of Pyongyang’s specific concerns in subsequent talks. In practical terms, this will require the United States to back off from its refusal even to talk about its well-advertised “bold vision” for a new relationship and to lay out with some specificity the terms of that vision, even though implementation will not begin until the nuclear status quo ante is restored. Prominent among the issues the United States must address early on is the question of whether it harbors “hostile intent” toward North Korea and, even more important, the possible means available to avow credibly that it does not.

This exchange is intended to establish at least a minimum level of mutual trust prior to embarking upon efforts to attain a much more difficult set of objectives—the formulation of a “more-for-more” agreement that trades very specific types and levels of assurances and aid from the United States, China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia for the complete and irreversible elimination by North Korea of its nuclear weapons programs. This set of agreements should include the near-term dismantling of the existing Yongbyon facilities and the shipping of all existing spent fuel out of the country, as well as a comprehensive proscription on any future nuclear weapons-related activities, including associated high-explosives testing. It must also include the acceptance of adequate and reliable means to verify full compliance with these objectives.

However, amending what appears to have been the all-encompassing nature of the “more-for-more” approach as originally conceived, the negotiations should not place great weight on various demands, currently favored by some in Washington, relating to human rights, conventional weapons deployments, economic or political reforms, shorter-range ballistic missile production, or other issues unrelated to North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs. Such extraneous demands—however desirable in and of themselves—will certainly be rejected by Pyongyang, and even raising them in any but a perfunctory way will reduce the chances of reaching an agreement on the far more urgent issues of unconventional weapons. Moreover, they will likely undermine the level of support provided to the entire negotiating process by Beijing and Seoul.

This logic obviously applies even more so in the case of regime change. At every stage of negotiations and in every official statement of relevance, Washington should avoid conveying the impression that it ultimately seeks the collapse of the North Korean government. Otherwise, China, South Korea, and perhaps Russia as well are likely to conclude that the United States intentionally seeks to levy unacceptable demands on Pyongyang in order to justify the eventual application of highly coercive actions, including military force. Such a conclusion would of course prevent any basic understanding regarding any “more-for-more” agreement and would scuttle any prospects for gaining the necessary North Korean confidence to move forward with nuclear dismantlement.

In return for its acceptance of the basic objectives above, North Korea should be given a reliable set of security guarantees that convey a clear respect for Pyongyang’s sovereignty. Moreover, the international community—and in particular South Korea and Japan3 —must be willing to provide adequate economic and technological assistance, without any interference or limits set by Washington.4 Without such incentives, neither Beijing nor Seoul will support any larger set of negotiating objectives. More importantly, without them, it will likely prove impossible to reach any agreement with Pyongyang that tests its willingness to dismantle its nuclear programs.

At the same time, Washington should avoid mixing any security guarantee with negotiations over U.S. force reductions on the Korean Peninsula, as North Korea might demand. This would be premature and could further increase existing tensions between Seoul and Washington, given the highly sensitive nature of the U.S. force presence in South Korea. More importantly, any decisions on U.S. force reductions or redeployments should come from agreement by Washington and Seoul, based on the shared assessment of the threat they face, not from an agreement negotiated between the United States and North Korea.

Ultimately, the success of any “more-for-more” agreement will rely primarily on North Korea’s acceptance of an intrusive set of procedures verifying the complete dismantling of its existing nuclear programs and the absence of any future nuclear weapons-related activities. In particular, they must provide credible assurances that Pyongyang does not continue to carry out covert plutonium reprocessing or uranium-enrichment activities. Without North Korea’s acceptance of these procedures, Washington would neither have sufficient confidence in the arrangements nor receive sufficient political support in Congress and elsewhere for conveying a credible security guarantee to Pyongyang, thus dooming the negotiations to failure.

Yet, the issue of verification will undoubtedly prompt vigorous debate. In this debate, it will be necessary to balance what is required for confidence by the outside world with what is acceptable to Pyongyang. North Korea has already said it would allow the United States to do whatever is necessary to satisfy itself on this score. But in reality, despite recent “Track II” U.S.-North Korean experts talks on verification, Pyongyang might not be aware how high the nonproliferation experts in the U.S. government will want to set the bar, and one can predict that Washington will demand a much more intrusive level of verification than Pyongyang will readily accept. Moreover, even if the standards are agreed, it is far from clear that the United States would either want to or should take on the responsibility for verification. In theory, international inspections specified and led by the IAEA should be reassuring to all concerned. But given the North’s current antipathy toward the IAEA, one cannot automatically take the agency’s acceptability for granted.

In any event, with or without IAEA involvement, it will be essential for Washington to maximize its leverage on this issue by achieving some level of basic understanding with the other involved powers on what is required. In the absence of such an understanding, North Korea will possess a much greater ability to resist intrusive verification procedures. In order to achieve this objective, however, Washington must, in turn, not only refuse to allow the “best” to become the enemy of the “good” with regard to the stringency of inspections, it must also be willing to offer a level of security assurances to the North that the other powers (and especially China and South Korea) can endorse. Beijing and Seoul will be more likely to back a specific set of intrusive verification procedures if they are tied to a highly credible U.S. security guarantee and if the United States is not leveling excessive demands unrelated to Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

Such an overall, consensus-oriented approach will likely make it easier for the United States to gain acceptance of any coercive measures, such as sanctions or other forms of coercive diplomacy, that might ultimately be deemed necessary to ensure the attainment of Washington’s minimum objectives. In other words, the other powers involved will probably be more willing to support significant sanctions on Pyongyang if they are convinced that Washington is pursuing reasonable objectives and that Pyongyang has been offered all possible reasonable incentives to comply with those objectives.

On the other hand, China and South Korea, and perhaps Russia, are unlikely to support a military strike against Pyongyang’s nuclear facilities under any set of circumstances, and only in extremis would they support a quarantine and interdiction efforts. This should not preclude U.S. consideration of such coercive measures, which should be retained as implicit options in any negotiation with the North. The United States, however, should not openly brandish the threat of military action or directly raise it with North Korea.

Instead, as it has in recent weeks, the United States should continue to convey in more rounded fashion that it will indeed retain all options in handling the situation. The credibility of this approach has been heightened in the wake of the Iraq war and the North Korean revelations in Beijing. The regional powers will now almost certainly have an increased incentive to reach a basic understanding with Washington on the overall negotiation strategy, thus enhancing the leverage they can collectively use to help bring Pyongyang to agreement.

That said, the actual application of military force to Pyongyang should be regarded by Washington as an option of last resort, contemplated only in the event that the North Korean leadership has conveyed an unalterable commitment to amass nuclear weapons and fissile materials in the face of all reasonable—and hopefully well-coordinated—efforts to dissuade it from doing so. But even under such circumstances, it is by no means clear that the advantages of launching a pre-emptive strike would outweigh the enormous costs.

Even if it forbore the catastrophic and suicidal choice of launching a “sea of fire” attack on South Korea, Pyongyang could well decide—either pre-emptively or as a first response to a U.S. strike—to launch its own strike against U.S. forces or facilities in South Korea, hoping to split the U.S.-South Korean alliance and mobilize world opinion against any further escalation by the United States. Supposing only part of this came to pass—splitting the U.S.-South Korean alliance, for example—the consequences for U.S. regional security interests would still be immeasurable. Moreover, whatever restraints were applied at first, a pre-emptive strike by either side could produce an escalatory spiral leading to a full-blown conflagration on the peninsula. Although the United States and South Korea would ultimately prevail in such a conflict, the cost in lives, property, and political relations with all the other countries concerned would almost certainly be enormous.

Washington might eventually be forced to choose between a military strike or accepting a decidedly suboptimal situation: the existence of a small North Korean nuclear arsenal and the implementation of an international quarantine and interdiction effort designed to prevent the export of any fissile material (and probably any long-range missiles) from North Korea. Some observers in Washington, including, perhaps, some in the Bush administration, promote the latter option as the only possible alternative to conflict because they believe that Pyongyang will never give up any nuclear weapons it might currently or soon possess.

This course of action, however, would be fraught with danger. Acceptance of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons could fatally weaken the global nonproliferation regime, perhaps pressuring other states in the region to acquire nuclear weapons, and would leave open the door to North Korean nuclear blackmail at some future time. Moreover, a quarantine on missile exports, which North Korea has previously depended upon as a principal source of foreign exchange, could well lead to a rapid escalation of tensions and thus raise the risks of war. In addition to this risk, a quarantine on fissile material, even if supported by China and South Korea (an absolute necessity, but by no means certain), would be extremely difficult to implement, primarily because it is almost impossible to monitor and prevent the transfer of the small amounts needed to develop a nuclear weapon.

In any case, the recently initiated dialogue should aim at avoiding such an unpalatable set of alternatives. If the United States, China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia can reach a basic understanding on how to handle North Korea, the effort to convince Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program and accept a reasonable “more-for-more” agreement, while not easy, should enjoy a reasonable chance of success.


NOTES

1. Although Pyongyang stated that China would only act as a facilitator of the talks between the United States and North Korea, in actuality, China’s role accorded much more closely with Washington’s position that China should take an active part in the discussions.

2. Russia’s direct contribution to the process is not likely to be great. For example, it will probably be unable to provide any significant material assistance to North Korea. However, it does enjoy a certain amount of access to Pyongyang and could usefully serve as an international “guarantor” for any agreements reached. For this reason, including Moscow in the diplomacy at some point will be useful.

3. Japan has another serious obstacle to overcome—North Korea’s history of abducting Japanese citizens.

4. “There is one report that North Korea demanded large-scale US economic assistance in the Beijing talks.” This would represent a change from its previous emphasis on removing U.S. obstacles to other economic relationships rather than seeking U.S. resources directly. In any event, the U.S. government itself should avoid promising any significant level of economic assistance to Pyongyang, given the likelihood that Congress will use its funding authorization power to reduce or resist entirely providing such assistance. That said, some resources are required, for example, to fund the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), and steps such as the recent Markey/Cox amendments to the energy bill (H.R. 6) denying support for the light-water reactor project could destroy any possibility of agreement.


Alan D. Romberg is a senior associate at the Henry L. Stimson Center. Michael D. Swaine is a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and co-director of its China program.

 

North Korea's Uranium-Enrichment Efforts Shrouded in Mystery

Paul Kerr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

North Korea's Uranium-Enrichment Efforts Shrouded in Mystery

ACT Interviews Undersecretary Bolton on North Korea

Interviewed by Miles A. Pomper

Arms Control Today Editor Miles A. Pomper met with John R. Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, on April 15 to discuss the U.S. approach toward North Korea. Tensions between the two countries increased last October when U.S. officials announced that North Korean officials had acknowledged to Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly that the country was pursuing a uranium-enrichment program, which would violate its commitments under the 1994 Agreed Framework and other nuclear nonproliferation commitments. Since then, the United States has cut off supplies of fuel oil pledged to North Korea under the Agreed Framework, and North Korea has withdrawn from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), removed seals and monitoring devices from its plutonium-based reactor and nuclear facilities, and expelled International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors.

Until recently, North Korea insisted that it would only consider bilateral talks with the United States to discuss its nuclear program, but the United States insisted on a multilateral forum. On April 12, North Korea signaled it might drop its demand that any talks involve only the United States and North Korea, although it continued to hold the United States ultimately responsible for reaching a resolution. On April 16, U.S. officials announced that North Korea, the United States, and China would hold talks in Beijing April 23-25.

Bolton was sworn in as undersecretary on May 11, 2001. Before joining the State Department, Bolton was senior vice president of the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington policy organization. A lawyer by training, Bolton was a partner in the law firm of Lerner, Reed, Bolton & McManus from 1983 to 1999. He has held several government positions, including assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs from 1989 to 1993 and assistant attorney general from 1985 to 1989.

The following is a transcript of the interview.

ACT: On Saturday, the North Koreans seemed to hint that they were open to a multilateral format for negotiations, and the president was apparently very pleased about that. Do you think this is a breakthrough, and what is the state of the diplomatic dialogue with North Korea?

Bolton: I do think that the North Korean statement represents an acknowledgement that the multilateral approach to the question of the nuclear weapons is appropriate. That is something we've been insisting on for some time. The problem posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons program is not a bilateral problem between them and us; it is a problem for the region as a whole because of threat it poses to the nearby countries, and it is also a global problem because it's a direct challenge to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and it's also because of North Korea's well-documented proliferation behavior with missiles and other advanced systems and weapons of mass destruction.

It's a problem because of what they might do in terms of outward proliferation. So, we do see it as global problem; we've approached it that way. It's one reason that we've sought to have the IAEA board of governors refer the question to the [UN] Security Council-which they did some weeks ago, why we thought the Security Council was an appropriate place to discuss this obvious threat to international peace and security, and why we've sought to have a multilateral forum to have the issue considered in. So, from that perspective, I think the statement was a step forward. Now, what exactly it means and how it will play out at this early stage or at this stage, it's too early to tell. Events could move fairly quickly, but sitting here today I just don't know that. We're prepared, as we've said for quite some time, to have discussions in a multilateral context, and we'll see what develops from here.

ACT: Do you have any additional preconditions on any discussions?

Bolton: Well what we've said, going back months now, is that we expect the complete verifiable dismantlement of the North Korean nuclear weapons program before bilateral talks would proceed. That was the position in October, when [Assistant Secretary of State] Jim Kelly went and when the North Koreans admitted they had a nuclear weapons program, and that's the position today, too. But in terms of discussions in a multilateral context, we're fully prepared for that to proceed.

ACT: And was there any diplomatic response-obviously we saw the president's statement [on multilateral talks]-but was there any contact, message to the North Koreans about setting up a dialogue, or any specifics?

Bolton: Well, they have been communicating principally with the Chinese, who have been advancing, with them, the idea of various formulations for a multilateral conference. We have proposed a number ourselves, but the president wanted to be clear we weren't focused on one formula or the other, so the actual arrangements, I think, will be handled by the Chinese, who have indicated that they would be willing to host such a conference. Probably in Beijing, which would be fine with us.

ACT: No dates have been set?

Bolton: No. No, like I said, that could move quickly, or not -I just don't know at the moment. We're prepared, if it happens in a relatively short period of time, or whatever the circumstances may be.

ACT: Are you planning, or any other administration officials planning, for instance, to go to China to advance this process?

Bolton: I think it's too early to answer that. I mean, we'll have to see what the logistics of the conference look like. We've been in consultation with the Chinese at all levels from the president to [Chinese President] Hu Jintao, Secretary [of State Colin] Powell, former foreign minister Tang [Jiaxuan], the new [Chinese] foreign minister, myself, Jim Kelly-at all levels on this.

ACT: When they announced their willingness to hold multilateral talks, the North Koreans also referenced a "bold switchover in U.S. policy" that seemed to tie into the notion of a bold package, which we had advanced before Assistant Secretary Kelly was there. Is that still on the table as far the U.S. in concerned? Is that something down the road that we could see as an outcome of these talks?

Bolton: I think it's a possibility, but as I said-as was the case in October-they have to have the dismantlement of the nuclear weapons program before that becomes possible. That is because the uranium-enrichment program in particular was a violation of the Agreed Framework, as well as the nonproliferation treaty. And obviously, since October, they have taken a lot of steps at [the nuclear facility at] Yongbyon that are very troubling, and everybody is familiar with the expulsion of the IAEA inspectors, the unsealing of the reactor in the reprocessing plant, and all the rest of that.

ACT: Is there anything more specific on what you would be prepared to offer them in terms of that or what you would demand of them in terms of that, beyond the nuclear question?

Bolton: No, I think that it is, as the president said earlier last summer, what a bold initiative would look like. That didn't go anywhere because of the evidence we had of their ongoing uranium-enrichment program. I think the ball is really in their court at this point in terms of the dismantlement of what they have now, which is two nuclear weapons programs.

ACT: The Russians and the Chinese appear to have put out more pressure recently on the North Koreans. First of all, is that so, how helpful has it been, and what do you think of the prospects for bridging the gap between the U.S. position and the Russian-Chinese position?

Bolton: Well, I think there is complete agreement at the declaratory level among China, Russia, and the United Sates, and that is that it is not acceptable to have nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. In that sense, we certainly are all at the same point. I think that the North Korean statement about not sticking to a particular dialogue format was probably caused by a variety of factors. Number one, the realization that the president was serious when he said that he wanted multilateral talks. Number two, the successful conclusion of the conflict in Iraq. Number three, I do think Chinese and Russian persuasion. Now I don't mean to say that the causes were in that particular order. I don't know what the order was; I think that's trying to judge what went on in the mind of the North Korean leadership-which is not something that we can particularly do with accuracy-but I think it was some combination of those three factors.

And I do think that it reflects the Russian and Chinese view that we take this matter seriously but that we're prepared, if there's a true multilateral environment, to see if there's not a way to work it through to a solution. Now I note that there have been statements attributed to North Korea since the Saturday statement [announcing willingness to engage in multilateral talks] to say that they don't want Russia and Japan to participate in these multilateral talks. That requires further analysis; that's certainly not the view we hear from Russia and Japan-they very much want to be involved in such conversations. And that's-we've been prepared to accept that before. So, I think that's one of the things we need to analyze a little bit more closely.

ACT: Do you think it's important to have Russia and Japan there?

Bolton: Again, I think the president has tried to show flexibility on what the formula is. Certainly, there's a strong argument that all five of the legitimate nuclear weapons states in the NPT should be present at some point. And certainly, that includes Russia, as well as Britain and France. Japan has an obvious equity in this matter, given its geographical location and threat that a nuclear-equipped North Korea would pose. So, I don't think ultimately there's a multilateral solution unless these equities are taken into account, but I don't think that necessarily translates into the shape of the table at the first meeting, and I think it's substance that we want to focus on, not process.

ACT: Is there anything more that you'd like the Russians and Chinese to do in terms of advancing dialogue?

Bolton: Well, I think there was a very helpful statement by Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov on Friday of last week, where he said-I'm sure you can get the transcript from Reuters or somewhere like that-what he said was, basically that we think the North Koreans have to take steps here, and we don't rule out sanctions at some point down the road if the North Koreans are not cooperative. That reflected a change in the Russian position.

You know, our view has been, one of the reasons we wanted to get this into the Security Council is because we thought that was the appropriate international institution to consider it, but that we were not pressing, right now, for sanctions. We thought if the North Koreans took the more responsible approach, we wouldn't need to get to the sanctions point. At some stage, there were some who were saying the Russians and the Chinese would never agree with sanctions. Obviously the Russian position on that has changed, and we think that's helpful, too. Not because that means sanctions are our first preference; our first preference is to get the North Koreans, on their own, to dismantle their nuclear weapons programs. But I think you can see from the vigorous efforts that China made to try to put this international multilateral conference together and from the statements of the Russians that they have been moving more vigorously to try and get the North Koreans to see reason on this.

ACT: Earlier this year you characterized as "very serious" steps North Korea had already taken in terms of its plutonium and uranium program. Maybe you can illustrate a little bit more what you mean. What does it mean if North Korea continues with nuclearization; how will it affect the region; how will it affect the global proliferation regime, and so on?

Bolton: Well, I think the course that the North took through this clandestine effort to gain an enrichment-uranium-enrichment capability-posed a very serious threat, because it was a rejection of all of their public commitments: the nonproliferation treaty, the safeguards agreement, the North-South joint denuclearization agreement, and the Agreed Framework. And it cast great doubt on the credibility on finding a successor agreement that we would have any confidence that they would follow. And likewise, the steps that they took to unfreeze Yongbyon-moving towards a nuclear weapons capability through plutonium reprocessing-was also very troubling. Now we know what we know about Yongbyon; we don't know everything about the uranium-enrichment side of things, although we do know that their international procurement efforts on that continue. So the real issue here is when North Korea is going to stop further progress on its nuclear weapons program. Basically the ball remains in North Korea's court because of the actions they have taken and whether it gets more serious or not is also in their hands. If they begin reprocessing, if they launch another ballistic missile, as people have said, that would make it even more serious, but we're hoping-that's why we're pressing for a diplomatic solution, to avoid that potential.

ACT: I guess my question is more specifically, what is the threat of a nuclear-armed North Korea? What would that mean to the region, and what it would mean to the United States?

Bolton: Well, I think it poses a threat to everybody in the region and would be very destabilizing and cause enormous concern to South Korea and Japan and enormous concern to us and others with an interest in the area. And, once they achieve a nuclear weapons capability, because of the risk that they are selling technology, fissile material, and complete weapons, the global proliferation risk would also be considerable.

ACT: Given that, are there any kind of red lines that we've laid down, either directly or indirectly, in terms of steps that they would cross that would bring punitive action, military action? For instance, reprocessing?

Bolton: No, we haven't declared anything to be a red line, in part because the idea here is to get the North Koreans into a multilateral negotiations framework, and not to speculate about how bad things would get if they continued visibly to move towards an additional nuclear capability. What we've said in totality is that all options are on the table, and we're not going to go beyond that. The president has directed, and our efforts have been aimed at, a diplomatic resolution, and that's really what our concentration is on.

ACT: Do you think we could live with a nuclear-armed North Korea?

Bolton: Well, our objective is the peaceful elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The stress is on peaceful, but it is also on elimination of the nuclear weapons program.

ACT: What do you perceive as North Korea's intentions? Why are they doing this-building up these nuclear weapons and pulling out of the NPT?

Bolton: I think, given their record of proliferation of ballistic missiles and other weapons technology, I think they see a nuclear capability as a potential source of hard currency. I think they see it as a bargaining chip vis-a-vis us, and I think they see it as leverage that they can apply to their neighbors to get additional tangible support for the regime.

ACT: You said last week you hoped a number of regimes would draw a lesson from our actions in Iraq, particularly North Korea. Some critics have said, on the other hand, North Korea itself has said that there is another lesson to be drawn, which is to move quickly toward a nuclear weapons program and not cooperate with international inspectors and so on. How would you respond to that?

Bolton: Well they sure, they could draw that lesson-it would be the wrong lesson to draw. The Iraqis did fail to cooperate with international inspectors, they did maintain an aggressive denial and deception posture, and they did frustrate UNMOVIC [inspectors in Iraq] and the IAEA. The appropriate lesson to draw is that ultimately weapons of mass destruction or efforts to get them are inappropriate for these countries-that they should give them up. I don't think you can say that having eliminated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein that that gives any encouragement to any other regime to continue to seek such weapons, and I think the general view in the international community is that people who have adhered to international treaties ought to comply with them. And so, in that situation, the lesson for countries that are in noncompliance with treaties they've entered into is pretty strong, and that's something that throughout this administration we've stressed. Whether it's the BWC [Biological Weapons Convention], the CWC [Chemical Weapons Convention], or the NPT, if you adhere to a treaty, you ought to live up to your obligations under it.

ACT: So you don't think that lack of military action against North Korea, versus the military action in Iraq, lends credence to this criticism at all?

Bolton: No, not at all. I think the actions are completely different. Iraq comes after 12 years of defiance of Security Council resolutions and after a UN-granted cease-fire that they repeatedly violated. That's why, in fact, Iraq is not an example of preventive warfare. This is not quite like the 30-years war in Europe, but it's the conclusion of a war that's gone on for 12 years-12 years of Iraqi resistance to the very cease-fire agreement that they signed up to back in 1991.

ACT: In terms of what North Korea actually has, there have been conflicting reports from the CIA about whether they have the plutonium to make a nuclear weapon or whether actually have nuclear weapons themselves. Can you shed any light on what is a more accurate analysis of that? Do they actually have nuclear weapons at this point?

Bolton: Well, I think [Defense] Secretary [Donald] Rumsfeld has said publicly that we think they probably have one or two. You know, I think that's a pretty authoritative statement.

ACT: South Korean President Roh, as you probably saw last week in the Washington Post, said that he was certain that they did not have nuclear weapons.

Bolton: I'll go with Secretary Rumsfeld.

ACT: Talking about the uranium program, when did the North Koreans start procuring parts for the uranium program?

Bolton: I don't know that they necessarily have. the technology that the Iranians and North Koreans are both using is something that was stolen from the Urenco technology; in other words, this is a uranium-enrichment approach through a centrifuge cascade approach that has been followed by a number of rogue states. The fact that various rogue states are using the same technology doesn't necessarily tell you that one got it from the other. It's possible, but it doesn't tell you that definitively; they could have purchased it out there on the black market.

One of the things that I'm hoping for to come out in the post-conflict stages in Iraq is that we might learn about the "netherworld" of WMD procurement. Obviously, we'll learn a lot about Iraq's WMD programs, but I'm hoping that if the files haven't been destroyed or the scientists haven't disappeared, that we'll learn, not because the Iraqis were participating in these programs, but learning about front companies, financial channels, all kinds of ways in which these programs were put together. That would tell us a lot about how to pursue nonproliferation in a variety of other contexts as well, as one of the benefits of the Iraq operation.

ACT: What I was trying to get at was a sort of a timeline in terms of when you thought the North Koreans, whether they procured them from a particular country or not, when they started getting the parts for these centrifuges?

Bolton: We can…what we've concluded, I think, is that this goes back-the North Korean uranium-enrichment effort is a serious attempt to get production scale capabilities-goes back to about 1998. That we know of. It may go back earlier than that; we don't necessarily know, but it's a program that has been out there for quite some time.

ACT: Why, then, did you wait until 2002 to confront them-for Secretary Kelly to confront them?

Bolton: We didn't really wait. What happened was, in a fashion, certainly unprecedented in my experience, is that a lot of information came together in roughly the summer of 2002 that pointed unmistakably to North Korean production scope enrichment efforts, and Secretary Powell and others were very clear to us that they wanted us to think about this, to evaluate the evidence, and to be very sure of it and to make sure we didn't do anything that anyone could accuse us of acting precipitously. So you know, the information came in; we evaluated it, we studied it, we thought about it, and there was uniform interagency agreement that that is what the North Koreans are up to. It was at that point that the decision was made to send Jim Kelly, so it was a process. Actually, in terms of governmental decision-making, it was very quick.

ACT: How long would you say?

Bolton: From three or four months from the beginning, when we began to appreciate what this information was revealing to us and the decision to send [Jim]-and Jim's actual trip was about three or four months later.

ACT: Let me ask you a couple of questions on Syria. First of all, how serious a threat do you think their WMD capability represents?

Bolton: Well, they have a very serious chemical weapons capability. We've been saying that for some time-goes back to the speech I made at the BWC review conference, or on CWC that I talked about that and talked about their chemical weapons capability. So these are real programs; there's no doubt about it. We've also been concerned about what might be happening in the nuclear area as well, in addition to missile and cruise missile capabilities.

ACT: What about the nuclear issue?

Bolton: Well we don't-well they've got, they're getting outside assistance in the civil nuclear area. There are a variety of things that they've got that we're concerned about from a weapons point of view. I'm not saying they're doing anything specific; I'm just saying it's a worrisome pattern that we've seen, and I think that has been our view, well, before the onset of the second gulf war.

ACT: Has that changed-the chemical weapons part? I know Secretary Rumsfeld mentioned they've been doing some testing recently. As you said, this is kind of a long-standing concern in terms of the chemical weapons.

Bolton: Well, I think what has aroused the extent of the comments in the past couple of weeks has been not their existing weapons programs, although we've been concerned about them, we've spoken publicly about it. But about concern that there might be shielding of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, that there might be assistance in the form of facilitating trans-shipment of military supplies to the Iraqis and providing refuge for top Iraqi leaders. So in other words, these are all things-and support of terrorism, of course-things that have been prominent in the past couple of weeks.

ACT: My last question on Syria is what are you looking at as of the options in dealing with this situation? I know general comments have been made by Secretary Powell and others. For instance, I know that in terms of sanctions, the Syria Accountability Act-past congresses or administrations have said "we don't want this to move forward"-has there been any talk of you changing your position on that issue?

Bolton: Well, I think what we're-we're on a fast moving situation now, at least we have been in the past couple of weeks with active military hostilities underway, and I think the level of seriousness is reflected in the kind of comments the president, Secretary Rumsfeld, and Secretary Powell have made. And you're asking me today a question that will appear in a periodical a month from now. I think we're looking at it in a day-by-day basis, but I don't think you can blink at the seriousness of the problem.

ACT: Can I ask you one more question? Ambassador [U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations John] Negroponte recently said that U.S. policy is not just a matter of getting North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions; it also must have a verification regime that will work. What would constitute such a regime?

Bolton: We-we're discussing internally what a complete and verifiable dismantlement would mean in practice, and we've got some excellent ideas that we're considering; we've gotten some consultation on that internationally, as well. We don't have a final package at the moment, but I would say our thinking is well advanced on that, and it's provided an opportunity-not that I'd go looking for reasons to do this-but it's provided an opportunity to do some very good and detailed thinking on what that kind of verification would require.

ACT: Is there any model that you're using, something that you've viewed as successful?

Bolton: No, actually what we did in this case was to start from the ground up and say, "What kind of effective verification system would you devise?" As I said, I wouldn't go out looking for reasons to do this, but it has provided an opportunity to do some new and creative thinking. And as I said, we're in consultation within the administration and internationally.

ACT: With the IAEA?

Bolton: Well, with British and French and others, to discuss what this might look like.

ACT: And is there any administration plan to turn the unilateral freeze on the North Koreans' unilateral moratorium on their flight-testing of their missiles into a permanent freeze?

Bolton: Well, I think that would be something to see if we get into a multilateral context whether that is something worth discussing. We have had concerns that, although there is not actually launch testing on the Korean Peninsula, that the North Koreans might be benefiting from data from launch testing elsewhere, like in Iran. That's something that we're concerned about.

 

North Korea: What's Next?

Daryl G. Kimball

The North Korean nuclear crisis that has been simmering for months is getting closer to the boiling point, and it urgently requires a better-coordinated, more effective diplomatic effort to cool tensions and reach a deal to verifiably dismantle Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities. In late April, at the first such meeting in six months, North Korea’s representative reportedly told a senior U.S. official that Pyongyang already has nuclear weapons. Although the restart of talks was a positive step, and long overdue, the nuclear boast could polarize views, making a peaceful resolution of the conflict even more difficult.

As the Bush administration considers its next move, its first priority should be avoiding statements or actions that could worsen the situation. During the past two years, the administration’s “axis of evil” approach has clearly not halted North Korea’s nuclear programs. Instead, North Korea has undertaken a dangerous series of actions: it expelled International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, withdrew from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and accelerated uranium-enrichment and plutonium work.

North Korea’s defiance must be met with firm, universal condemnation. At this stage, however, the pursuit of economic sanctions would do little to stop North Korea’s dangerous nuclear activities and could further escalate tensions. Nor should the administration talk publicly about military options, which would further stoke North Korean fears andbrinksmanship. South Korea would not support preemptive military action, in part, because it would likely lead to a major conventional war that could devastate Seoul.

Despite North Korea’s ominous and typically brash negotiating tactics, the United States cannot afford to rule out further talks or to lose focus on achieving prompt results. Doing so would only give the North the time it needs to produce plutonium and uranium for additional weapons, thus further undermining regional security. The late-April meetings in Beijing were only the second such exchange in more than two years. Each time, substantive proposals for resolving the crisis have been withheld or overshadowed as a result of dramatic accusations and threats.

Further diplomacy, absent a realistic U.S. negotiating strategy, however, will not eliminate the North’s nuclear weapons potential either. For months, the Bush administration has been at war with itself over how to handle North Korea. Hard-liners resist further talks and want to use the Iraq war to pressure Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear programs or else to meet the same fate as Saddam Hussein’s regime. Other factions seek a diplomatic solution but have been undercut by North Korean missteps and unnecessarily tough talk from other administration officials.

As a result, the administration’s plan has amounted to little more than demonizing Pyongyang and demanding that it dismantle all of its nuclear capabilities before agreeing to substantive negotiations on achieving that very goal. Such an approach might play well on the television talk shows, but it leaves Pyongyang without a face-saving means to meet the United States’ bottom-line objectives and risks further escalation of the crisis.

Pyongyang’s claim that it already has nuclear weapons suggests it fears it is on the U.S. target list and believes that nuclear weapons can help avoid attack. In reality, North Korea’s sizeable conventional force already constitutes a powerful deterrent, and its pursuit of nuclear weapons increases, not decreases, the motivation of Washington to strike. The Bush administration should be willing to clarify that it bears no hostile intent and pledge not to attack the North so long as Pyongyang freezes current nuclear activities and allows the verifiable dismantlement of any nuclear weapons, along with its fissile material production facilities, to proceed according to a clear timetable.

Meanwhile, to reinforce its North Korea policy and preserve the nuclear nonproliferation regime, the United States must adopt a more consistent and balanced global strategy. If the lesson Pyongyang has drawn from the Iraq war is that it needs nuclear weapons, the lesson it has drawn from Pakistan and India is that there are only short-term penalties for violating nonproliferation norms. These two NPT holdouts, along with Israel, have maintained nuclear weapons programs with little or no U.S. criticism.

In the next few weeks, other Asian states must help press for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula and urge North Korea and the United States to seek a comprehensive agreement. A new deal centered on security assurances and energy assistance in exchange for a verifiable end to the North’s nuclear and missile programs is still feasible. Such a result would not represent a reward for bad behavior as much as it would eliminate Pyongyang’s stated motive for going nuclear and help end a new Asian arms race before it starts.

 

A Disillusioned Japan Confronts North Korea

Matake Kamiya

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

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

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

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

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

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

Becoming Aware of the Threat

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

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

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

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

From Goodwill to Reciprocity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Japan’s Interests

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reconsidering Passive Defense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


NOTES

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

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

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

3. Yomiuri Shinbun, October 18, 2003.

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

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

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

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

8. Yomiuri Shinbun, March 21, 2003.

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

10. Nihon Keizai Shinbun, April 17, 2003.

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

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

13. Yomiuri Shinbun, March 28, 2003.

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


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

 

A Test for Beijing: China and the North Korean Nuclear Quandary

Bates Gill and Andrew Thompson

China’s late paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, set the tone for much of China’s foreign policy in the 1990s when he cautioned Chinese strategists to “keep a low profile and avoid taking the lead.” For better or worse, this axiom has come to define China’s approach to the ominous North Korean nuclear quandary. Although China has significant interests in seeing a peaceful resolution to this troubling situation, it finds itself severely constrained from taking a more open and proactive approach with its neighbor. Moreover, for a range of complex reasons, Beijing’s near-term and strategic priorities differ in many respects from those of the United States, risking increased tensions with Washington over North Korea.

Faced with a host of difficult choices and with a predilection toward a reactive, wait-and-see approach, Beijing has urged caution, diplomacy, and abjuration of coercive measures. But as the standoff of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions becomes more intractable and threatening, Washington and others in the region will expect far more of China. Encouragingly, with the prospects for Washington-Pyongyang-Beijing talks, there are important signs of a more proactive but still low-profile Chinese role.

China’s Priorities

The United States and China share a common set of overarching goals vis-à-vis the Korean Peninsula: both wish to see a stable and non-nuclear North Korea that resolves differences peacefully and does not become a fulcrum for regional instabilities more broadly. Considering how to achieve those aims, however, and under what terms exposes divergent priorities and strategic preferences between Washington and Beijing. Put another way, while Washington and Beijing might have similar goals regarding Korean Peninsula security, their respective priorities are ordered differently.

North Korea’s geographic proximity and geostrategic importance require Chinese leaders to take a more comprehensive and strategic approach to addressing Pyongyang’s provocations. With North Korea on its doorstep, Beijing has to place Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions within a calculus of other, often more important concerns in Northeast Asia and on the Korean Peninsula. At the same time, all of its decisions—good, bad, or worse—carry more weight for China than for the United States. That alone explains much of Beijing’s uneasy caution about intervening in the crisis.

Further complicating the geostrategic picture for Beijing is the fact that the other major player in the ongoing North Korea dilemma—the United States—happens to be the world’s most powerful country and China’s single most important economic partner. Until Beijing clearly understands Washington’s policies and intentions toward North Korea and how China’s interests fit into that picture, it will be reluctant to take bold measures from which it cannot easily retreat, that might weaken its hand in the overall outcome of the current North Korea imbroglio, or that undermine a productive relationship with the United States.

Chinese strategists are sensitive to the Catch-22 problem they face in Washington: China is under pressure to exert its influence over North Korea and is criticized for not doing enough. On the other hand, although Beijing has quietly begun exerting pressure through oil-supply disruptions and closed-door diplomacy, it must be sensitive not to appear too eager to take the lead or too intent on marginalizing the U.S. presence on the peninsula. All the while, Washington has haltingly provided signals on the direction it wishes to go or whether it is prepared to support China’s efforts fully. From Beijing’s perspective, caution and circumspection seem warranted.

Until recently, Beijing had a particularly strong incentive to move slowly on any issue of major geopolitical importance. The current flare-up in the North Korean nuclear impasse has coincided precisely with the just-completed formal transition of power to the new “fourth generation” of leaders in Beijing—a period in which Chinese leaders were not prepared to make any bold moves. Until the new leadership becomes more firmly established and confident in foreign affairs, it is unlikely we will see bold moves in the near term, either.

China’s cooperation with U.S. policies toward North Korea will also be limited by the nearly equal priority it gives to maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula generally and in North Korea in particular. China will aim to prevent rapid changes of the political situation in Pyongyang that would lead to less-than-positive outcomes for Chinese strategic interests. Beijing is concerned with preventing economic or military crises that would lead to thousands of North Korean refugees fleeing across the 1,400-kilometer border into China. There are already an estimated 300,000 North Koreans illegally residing in China in addition to economic refugees continually crossing the border to seek opportunities in China, placing increasing pressure on an already burdened regional economy and posing challenges to central and regional authorities.

Destabilization in North Korea could lead to other scenarios contrary to Beijing’s interests, including the stirring of nationalist passions among China’s ethnic Korean population along the Jilin Province-North Korean border. From a broadly political perspective, Beijing cannot relish the prospect of yet another collapsed communist regime, especially one on its border with which it has traditionally close ties.

Instability and uncertainty on the Korean Peninsula also risks undermining Beijing’s carefully crafted and largely successful two-Korea policy, which aims to steadily assert and establish greater Chinese influence on the peninsula over time. In conducting its two-Korea policy, Beijing must attempt a balanced approach toward the North and South, keeping both within China’s good graces. Currently, it appears that Beijing, Seoul, and Pyongyang share a common interest in giving high priority to a more accommodating, negotiated resolution to tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and Beijing will not want to break up that consensus or force choices between one Korea or the other.

In addition, China has a particularly strong interest in avoiding disruptions in its beneficial economic relations with South Korea. China and South Korea are major trading partners with one another, and South Korea is a significant direct investor in China’s manufacturing sector, creating Chinese jobs, adding value both to Chinese and Korean raw materials, and contributing to China’s export revenues.

Of course, as noted above, Beijing will also want to avoid instabilities on the peninsula for fear of potential military conflict involving the United States—especially one that could potentially place U.S. and allied troops near China’s border or result in political outcomes on Washington’s terms that might be unfavorable to Beijing’s interests.

In seeking to avoid these kinds of instabilities on the Korean Peninsula and within North Korea itself, Beijing will abjure coercion, such as sanctions, embargoes, or the threat or use of military force. Beijing will much prefer a gradual change in North Korea, largely on Chinese terms, to include the introduction of Chinese-style economic and political reforms; the stabilization of North-South relations; and the eventual reconciliation of a stable, non-nuclear Korea within China’s sphere of influence.

The third and more narrow priority for China concerns the realization of a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula. China recognizes that a nuclear-armed North Korea presents a threat to regional stability and China’s long-term interests. Rather than seeing a direct threat aimed at China, however, Beijing’s concerns focus primarily on potential ripple effects throughout Northeast Asia in reaction to a nuclear-armed North Korea.

Chinese strategists and scientists recognize that North Korean nuclear ambitions might lead to a military strike by the United States, possibly leading to a wider military conflict on the Korean Peninsula. In addition, North Korea’s nuclear weapons development helps drive military modernization programs elsewhere in the region, most notably in Japan. Japan’s steps toward the development and deployment of missile defenses in cooperation with the United States are not viewed favorably in Beijing, especially to the degree those systems might someday strengthen Japanese and U.S.-Japan allied postures during a Taiwan-related confrontation with China.

More broadly, North Korean nuclear- and ballistic missile-related provocations strengthen the case for a more robust and ready Japanese defense and military modernization program, including a stronger U.S.-Japan alliance relationship and, in some circles, a discussion of a more offensive conventional and even nuclear capability—moves that are not in Beijing’s interests. As a recent editorial in a pro-Beijing Hong Kong newspaper put it, if Japan were to go nuclear in response to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, “the negative impact for China would be greater than the sum of India, Pakistan, and North Korea having nuclear weapons.”1

Beijing is also concerned about the implications of North Korean nuclear weapons use and the possible export of nuclear materials to terrorists. Although there are few conceivable scenarios in which North Korea would use nuclear weapons against China, a nuclear exchange, or even the threat of one, between North Korea and the United States would have tremendously negative effects economically, politically, and in security terms for China. Finally, some Chinese analysts will concede that a nuclear North Korea could provide weapons or weapons-grade material to other countries or substate actors. However, this is not seen as a direct threat to China and is not given anywhere near the same degree of importance as in the United States. Moreover, all of these troubling nuclear weapons-related scenarios remain speculative for the moment in Beijing’s view and have yet to drive the narrow nuclear issue to a higher priority status in Chinese strategic perceptions toward the Korean Peninsula.

In sum, Beijing’s priorities with regard to North Korea and its nuclear ambitions derive from a complex and often contradictory mix of long-term geostrategic interests and near-term concerns over stability and proliferation. Beijing seeks to balance its long-term aims of asserting its interests and influence on the Korean Peninsula and maintaining productive relations with the United States on the one hand, while averting instabilities and a nuclear Korean Peninsula on the other. But rather than presenting a cogent and proactive framework for action, these priorities and interests do more to constrain Beijing’s self-perceived room to maneuver. China might wield the most influence in Pyongyang of the major powers concerned, but it is an influence that Beijing feels constrained from exercising fully without great risk. That stance, however, will become increasingly untenable if the North Korean situation evolves toward an even greater crisis.

China’s Policy Response

Faced with a complex and often contradictory situation, Beijing has steadfastly supported a fundamentally conservative and cautious return to the status quo ante, with a strong emphasis on a diplomatic solution, fearful that any precipitous action would only make a bad situation even worse. China’s publicly articulated approach stresses three elements: restart diplomacy and dialogue, avoid escalatory and provocative actions, and assure the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Behind closed doors, Beijing stepped up high-level discussions with Pyongyang and Washington, aimed at getting the parties together for dialogue within a mutually acceptable framework.

Reading between the lines of official Chinese policy reveals other important but less prominent elements to China’s approach. First, Beijing initially emphasized the importance of bilateral, face-to-face dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang. China recognizes this as a core interest for North Korea and also sees merit in acting as an outside supporter of such dialogue and negotiation but not necessarily as a direct participant.

China, however, appears increasingly open to the possibility of multilateral talks. During the first phone conversation between President George W. Bush and newly appointed President Hu Jintao on March 18, Chinese official media quoted Hu as saying, “The key lies in launching some form of dialogue as soon as possible, especially dialogue between the United States and the DPRK.”2 The phrase “some form of dialogue” appeared to express support for multilateral dialogue and perhaps growing exasperation with North Korea’s insistence on bilateral talks. With the advent of trilateral discussions in Beijing at the end of April, Chinese leaders have taken their farthest step yet toward becoming fully invested partners in a multilateral approach to this issue, but still with some reticence.

Second, in advocating dialogue and the eschewal of provocative steps, Beijing expresses its opposition to applying coercive means such as sanctions or force against North Korea. This view is shared by others in the region, such as South Korea, Russia, and within some Japanese quarters.

Opposition to coercive measures is also Beijing’s diplomatic reminder to the United States to rein in its threatening posture toward North Korea, which, in the Chinese view, is in part responsible for Pyongyang’s belligerence. Many strategists in China point out that the Bush administration’s tougher approach toward North Korea—including Pyongyang in the “axis of evil,” considering nuclear pre-emption contingencies aimed at North Korea, and personalizing attacks against Kim Jong Il—only force North Korea’s back to the wall. In Beijing’s view, further tough rhetoric and escalatory actions by Washington would only lead to more provocative and potentially destabilizing responses by Pyongyang. If escalating confrontation leads to conflict, by design or miscalculation, China will resent U.S. insensitivity to its interests and its inability, as the world’s sole superpower, to chart and lead a negotiated solution.

Third, as signaled in the recent UN Security Council debate on North Korea, Beijing is reluctant to have the North Korean matter raised in that international forum. Beijing fears it could lose considerable influence over the situation if it becomes more “internationalized,” and the nuclear weapons issue—as opposed to the broader political and security issues that concern Beijing most—would be the focus of Security Council deliberations and resolutions.

On the surface, China’s overall position does not differ considerably from the 1993-1994 nuclear crisis in most respects. During the current situation, however, Beijing appears to be taking a slightly more proactive role, at least behind the scenes. This results from considerably changed circumstances from a decade ago. China believes it can play a more beneficial role as a mediator between the United States and North Korea because, of all the major powers to this dispute, Beijing has the best relations with both the United States and North Korea. Importantly, it is in a better position today to place some pressure on Pyongyang in particular and has much to gain with Washington if its efforts bear fruit in gaining greater cooperation from North Korea.

Finally, Beijing might be more concerned than in the past about the outbreak of conflict on the Korean Peninsula, whether brought on by Pyongyang or Washington, and has more to lose should it happen.

Looking Ahead

Given Beijing’s interests and responses thus far regarding the changing nuclear equation on the Korean Peninsula, a mixed picture emerges for U.S.-China relations on this issue. On the one hand, the two sides can fairly say they share common interests in a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and a peaceful resolution to the issue. Under the surface, however, a number of differences are apparent, and under certain conditions, these differences could increase in the months ahead.

Belatedly responding to the gravity of the situation, Beijing’s top leaders reportedly formed a leadership group on the North Korea crisis. China is increasingly displaying its irritation with Pyongyang through various channels, trying to gain greater cooperation from its recalcitrant neighbor. For example, while diplomatic traffic between Beijing has increased, Pyongyang’s officials are no longer given special treatment. China is also signaling to Pyongyang that it might consider curtailing economic and trade relations if stability is threatened on the peninsula. Importantly, Beijing appeared to play an instrumental role in bringing together the United States and North Korea for tripartite talks in China. Should matters go well, expectations will also be placed on China to offer up various forms of assistance and incentives to keep North Korean reform and compliance on track. Such inputs might include increased energy handouts and a stronger commitment on Beijing’s part to support intrusive verification measures and enforcement options.

If matters go badly, such as a costly conflict on the peninsula or the proliferation of nuclear materials from North Korea to U.S. adversaries, China might be seen as part of the problem. Unlike the current Iraq situation, the North Korea crisis should be of immediate strategic concern to Beijing, and the world will look to China to take an even more proactive and responsible position in assuring a peaceful outcome and the rollback of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programs.

Interestingly, the Chinese term for “crisis”—weiji—combines characters denoting “danger” and “opportunity.” Fittingly, as Beijing grapples with the current North Korean crisis, China’s hopes for improved relations with Washington, a greater leadership role in the region, and a stable Korean Peninsula will be tested in momentous and difficult ways.


NOTES

1. Ta Kung Pao, “DPRK ‘Crisis,’ Iraqi War Issue ‘Hot Topics’ at NPC, CPPCC Sessions in China,” March 5, 2003, found in FBIS.
2. Xinhua News Agency, “Hu Jintao Talks With U.S. President Bush Over the Phone,” March 18, 2003, found in BBC Monitoring.


Bates Gill is the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Andrew Thompson is a research associate in the same CSIS program.

 

North Korea, Pakistani Lab Sanctioned for Proliferation

Rose Gordon

On March 24, the United States imposed sanctions on a North Korean company and a Pakistani laboratory for a related missile technology transfer.

The Changgwang Sinyong Corporation of North Korea was sanctioned for transferring Category 1 items regulated under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) to Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) in Pakistan, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said March 31. The laboratory was sanctioned for receiving the items. Category 1 items include complete missile systems or unmanned air vehicle systems that exceed MTCR range limits.

Although some early media reports suggested that the trade involved nuclear technology, the State Department quickly dismissed such claims. Philip Reeker, deputy State Department spokesman, said April 1 that, after a careful review, the administration had determined that sanctions could be imposed only for a “missile-related transfer” and not the transfer of nuclear technology from Pakistan to North Korea.

The company and laboratory are now under two-year sanctions, which prohibit the U.S. government or U.S. companies from exporting goods to or importing items from the sanctioned entities.

The laboratory was sanctioned under Executive Order 12938, and the Changgwang Sinyong Corporation under the Arms Export Control Act and the Export Administration Act. The Arms Export Control Act closely follows regulations established in the MTCR, while the Export Administration Act goes slightly beyond the MTCR in the number and types of dual-use items it regulates. President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12938 in 1994 as an additional way to levy sanctions for weapons of mass destruction proliferation.

Khan Research Laboratories—named for A. Q. Khan, who helped found Pakistan’s nuclear development program—is Pakistan’s primary nuclear weapons laboratory. It has been sanctioned in the past for similar missile-related transfers from the same North Korean company, Reeker said in his April 1 statement. The laboratory has been listed as an entity of proliferation concern in the Export Administration Regulations since 1998.

The North Korean corporation has been sanctioned repeatedly by the United States, most recently in August 2002. (See ACT, September 2002.)

The Bush administration extended the sanctions to the North Korean government, which is currently locked in a nuclear crisis with the United States. The sanctions on the Khan Laboratory, however, do not apply to the Pakistani government. The laboratory is considered separate from the government of President General Pervez Musharraf, who is currently a key U.S. ally in the war on terrorism.

The Pakistani government has repeatedly stated that their missile program is indigenous, but most weapons experts say that Pakistani missiles are largely based on Chinese and North Korean technology. For example, Pakistan’s long-range Ghauri missile appears to be based on North Korea’s Nodong missile, and the Shaheen I resembles China’s M-9.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the sanctions against the laboratory “unjustified” in a March 29 press release. In a press briefing two days later, a spokesman for Pakistan’s Foreign Office said the sanctions would not have an effect on the laboratory because “it has no commercial links with any firms in the United States.”

The sanctions on the North Korean company are also viewed as largely symbolic because it is U.S. policy—under the Arms Control Export Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations—to deny imports or exports of defense-related material to North Korea, regardless of these new restrictions.

North Korea, Pakistani Lab Sanctioned for Proliferation

Nuclear Weapons on the Korean Peninsula

An Introduction to the ACT Special Issue on the North Korean Crisis

The conclusion of the April 23-April 25 talks in Beijing among the United States, North Korea, and China makes this month’s features especially timely. Reports that North Korea told the United States that it has nuclear weapons raise the stakes in the current crisis over North Korea’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

The United States has been here before. A decade ago, Pyongyang challenged the nuclear nonproliferation regime by pursuing nuclear weapons in violation of its treaty commitments, ultimately threatening to withdraw from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) but stopping a day short of doing so in June 1993.

Months of protracted negotiations followed, resulting in the October 1994 Agreed Framework. Under that agreement, North Korea agreed to shut down its plutonium-based nuclear reactor and related facilities, and the United States agreed to provide two proliferation-resistant reactors and supply North Korea with heating oil while the reactors were under construction.

The Agreed Framework and its implementation were controversial from the beginning and subject to criticism both from the United States and North Korea. For example, North Korea complained that reactor construction lagged well behind the original deadline, while some members of Congress expressed doubts that North Korea was complying with its nonproliferation commitments. The plutonium-based nuclear facilities, however, remained frozen.

During October 2002, the Bush administration announced that North Korea admitted to having an illicit uranium-enrichment program to Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly during a meeting earlier that month.

The situation escalated. North Korea ejected international arms inspectors, announced its withdrawal from the NPT, and restarted its frozen nuclear reactor.

Although similar to the situation in the mid-1990s, today’s crisis is potentially worse. North Korea is the first country to announce its withdrawal from the NPT, and its decision to restart its plutonium-related nuclear facilities represents a rollback of the Agreed Framework’s achievements. Moreover, its apparent pursuit of a uranium-enrichment program in violation of its nonproliferation commitments illustrates the difficulties of arriving at a negotiated resolution to the crisis that will result in the verifiable dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear facilities.

Yet, other options are not promising. The Bush administration’s increasing willingness to take pre-emptive military action against proliferation threats has run up against the difficult reality that the risks of a military strike against North Korea are extraordinarily high. In any case, U.S. allies oppose such a policy.

These five articles, featuring seven authors from three different countries, offer a valuable blend of policy prescriptions and insightful analysis about the dynamics surrounding this complex issue. Taken as a whole, they provide a comprehensive picture of the current debate surrounding the North Korean crisis.

Michael Swaine of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Alan Romberg of the Henry L. Stimson Center provide a detailed proposal for negotiating a resolution to the current crisis, arguing that a near-term focus on Pyongyang’s nuclear program is critical for such a resolution.

Henry Sokolski of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center makes the case for penalizing North Korea for its pursuit of nuclear weapons, arguing that a tough stance on North Korea’s suspected weapons program is important to discourage additional countries from trying to acquire nuclear weapons.

Bates Gill and Andrew Thompson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies provide perspective on the dynamics surrounding China’s current and future role in the North Korean crisis. They argue that ironing out differences between Washington and Beijing will be important to resolving the crisis and to the future of U.S.-Sino relations.

Matake Kimiya of Japan’s National Defense Academy discusses Japanese attitudes toward North Korea and their relationship to Tokyo’s North Korea policy. He also evaluates the potential effects of the crisis on Japan’s defense posture.

Haksoon Paik of South Korea’s Sejong Institute explains Seoul’s role, offering prescriptions both for U.S. and South Korean policymakers for a peaceful resolution to the crisis, as well as describing the obstacles to such a resolution.

The North Korea crisis encapsulates the dilemmas facing foreign policy students and practitioners who wish to control proliferation. We believe all audiences will find this issue informative.



 

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