AccessMyLibrary provides FREE access to millions of articles from top publications available through your library.
North Korea's nuclear weapons program became an immediate foreign policy issue facing the United States because of North Korea's refusal to carry out its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and other nuclear accords it had signed. North Korea has constructed nuclear reactors and a plutonium reprocessing plant at a site called Yongbyon. U.S. intelligence assessments have concluded that North Korea probably has manufactured at least one nuclear weapon.
The United States and North Korea signed an agreement on October 21, 1994, that offers North Korea a package of benefits in return for a freeze of North Korea's nuclear program. Benefits to North Korea include: light water nuclear reactors totaling 2,000 electric megawatts; shipments of "heavy oil" to North Korea (50,000 tons in 1995 and 500,000 tons annually beginning in 1996 until the first light water reactor is built).
The pace of implementation of the Agreed Framework has been very slow. Instead of the original target date of 2003, it generally is estimated that completion of the light water reactors will not take place until well beyond 2010.
The United States has faced several policy problems since the signing of the Agreed Framework, including securing money annually to finance heavy oil shipments to North Korea (the cost of the oil has risen from about $30 million in 1995 to over $100 million), suspicions of clandestine North Korean nuclear activities, and North Korea's development of long range missiles. In October 2002, under U.S. diplomatic pressure, North Korea admitted that it was conducting a secret nuclear weapons program based on uranium enrichment.
MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
The Bush Administration disclosed on October 16, 2002, that North Korea had revealed to U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly in Pyongyang that it was conducting a secret nuclear weapons program based on the process of uranium enrichment.
BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS
Implications of North Korea's Secret Nuclear Program, October 2002
North Korea's revelation of its secret nuclear weapons program reportedly contained three elements. One, North Korea admitted the program in response to U.S. evidence presented by Assistant Secretary of State Kelly. The program is based on the process of uranium enrichment, in contrast to North Korea's pre-1995 nuclear program based on plutonium reprocessing. North Korea began a secret uranium enrichment program after 1995 reportedly with the assistance of Pakistan. North Korea provided Pakistan with intermediate range ballistic missiles in the late 1990s. Two, North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister, Kang Sok-ju (an influential figure in the regime), asserted that the disclosure of the secret program "nullifies" the 1994 U.S.-North Korea Agreed Framework, which shut down North Korea's known plutonium reprocessing facilities. (See section under "Diplomatic Background to the Agreed Framework and Amending Agreements.") Three, Kang Sok-ju declared to Kelly that North Korea also possesses "more powerful" weapons.
The first implication for U.S. policy is the balancing of the U.S. response to North Korea with the Bush Administration's priority to Iraq in U.S. diplomacy and probably in preparations for war with Iraq. The Administration clearly has wanted to keep issues with North Korea on a lower priority than U.S. policy toward Iraq. The revelation, however, creates the need for at least an initial policy response in the context of three events. One is the meeting between Presidents Bush and Jiang Ze-min of China (October 25-28,2002) in which North Korea will be the number one topic. The second is the Japan-North Korea talks on normalization of relations beginning on October 29, 2002. Japan, a key U.S. ally, has stated that it will press North Korea on the issue of the secret nuclear weapons program. The Bush Administration has an interest in coordinating diplomatic strategy with Japan. Third, the International Atomic Agency (IAEA) has called for a meeting with North Korea on the secret program and has indicated that it will ask the Bush Administration for U.S. information on the secret program. The IAEA has a safeguards agreement with North Korea providing for inspections (see section on "Diplomatic Background to the Agreed Framework and Amending Agreements"). The United States in the past has provided intelligence information on North Korea's nuclear program to the IAEA.
The second, longer term implication for U.S. responses involves at least three issues. The first is whether to negotiate with North Korea, seeking a new agreement dealing with the secret program, or whether to insist first that North Korea fulfill the procedures set out in the 1992 North Korea-IAEA safeguards agreement. That agreement sets out specific procedures under which North Korea would disclose the specifics of the secret program, put the program under IAEA safeguards inspections, and allow to IAEA to conduct "special inspections" of any unrevealed suspicious activities. The second issue would be whether to negotiate before or after the settlement of the Iraq problem, if the Administration decided to negotiate on the issue. The third issue would be whether to attempt to continue the 1994 Agreed Framework despite Kang Sok-ju's statement of nullification or suspend or terminate it in view of the general view that the North Korean secret program constitutes a major violation of it. Bush Administration officials described the secret nuclear program as a violation of the Agreed Framework. In congressional testimony following the signing of the Agreed Framework, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Secretary of Defense William Perry, and Ambassador Robert Gallucci (who negotiated the Agreed Framework) all said that if North Korea conducted secret nuclear activities, the United States would terminate its obligations under the Agreed Framework. Gallucci testified that the United States would support demands by the IAEA for inspections of secret nuclear facilities and materials. The fourth issue would be consideration of coercive measures if North Korea refused to abide by its obligations to the IAEA or tried to restart the nuclear installations shut down under the Agreed Framework. Past consideration of coercive measures have included economic and military sanctions.
Bush Administration Policy
As part of a policy review toward North Korea, President Bush issued a statement on June 6, 2001, outlining policy objectives related to implementation of the U.S.-North 1994 Agreed Framework on North Korea's nuclear program, North Korea's missile program, and its conventional forces. He stated that if North Korea took positive actions in response to U.S. policy, the United States "will expand our efforts to help the North Korean people, ease sanctions, and take other political steps." President Bush's designation of North Korea as part of an "axis of evil" in his January 29, 2002 State of the Union address clarified the Administration's policy that emerged after the June 6 statement. The policy is aimed at reducing and/or eliminating basic elements of North Korean military power, including nuclear weapons and/or nuclear weapons-grade materials, weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), and conventional artillery and rocket launchers positioned on the demilitarized zone (DMZ) within range of the South Korean capital, Seoul. The Administration's emphasis on WMDs mounted after the Central Intelligence Agency gained documentary evidence in Afghanistan that al Qaeda seeks WMDs (including nuclear weapons) and plans new attacks on the United States. This reportedly influenced the Bush Administration to broaden the definition of the war against terrorism to include states like North Korea that potentially could supply WMDs to al Qaeda.
The Administration's strategy is to employ public accusations and warnings to pressure North Korea to make policy changes regarding its …