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World > Asia > Korea, North > Relations with U.S. (Notes)

Korea, North - Relations with U.S. (Notes)


U.S. POLICY TOWARD NORTH KOREA

U.S. Support for North-South Dialogue and Reunification
The United States supports the peaceful reunification of Korea on terms acceptable to the Korean people and recognizes that the future of the Korean Peninsula is primarily a matter for them to decide. The United States believes that a constructive and serious dialogue between the authorities of North and South Korea is necessary to resolve outstanding problems, including the North's nuclear program and human rights abuses, and to encourage the North's integration with the rest of the international community.

Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
North Korea joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapons state in 1985. North and South Korean talks begun in 1990 resulted in the 1992 Joint Declaration for a Non-Nuclear Korean Peninsula (see, under Foreign Relations, Reunification Efforts Since 1971). However, the international standoff over the North's failure to implement an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency for the inspection of the North's nuclear facilities led Pyongyang to announce in March 1993 its intention to withdraw from the NPT. A UN Security Council Resolution in May 1993 urged the D.P.R.K. to cooperate with the IAEA and to implement the 1992 North-South Denuclearization Statement. It also urged all UN Member States to encourage the D.P.R.K. to respond positively to this resolution and to facilitate a solution to the nuclear issue.

The United States opened talks with the D.P.R.K. in June 1993 and eventually reached agreement in October 1994 on a diplomatic roadmap, known as the Agreed Framework, for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The Agreed Framework called for the following steps:
North Korea agreed to freeze its existing nuclear program and allow monitoring by the IAEA. Both sides agreed to cooperate to replace the D.P.R.K.'s graphite-moderated reactors with light-water reactor (LWR) power plants, by a target date of 2003, to be financed and supplied by an international consortium (later identified as the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization or KEDO). As an interim measure, the United States agreed to provide North Korea with 500,000 tons of heavy fuel oil annually until the first reactor was built. The United States and D.P.R.K. agreed to work together to store safely the spent fuel from the five-megawatt reactor and dispose of it in a safe manner that did not involve reprocessing in the D.P.R.K. The two sides agreed to move toward full normalization of political and economic relations. The two sides agreed to work together for peace and security on a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. The two sides agreed to work together to strengthen the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. In accordance with the terms of the Agreed Framework, in January 1995 the U.S. Government eased economic sanctions against North Korea in response to North Korea's freezing its graphite-moderated nuclear program under United States and IAEA verification. North Korea agreed to accept the decisions of KEDO, the financier and supplier of the LWRs, with respect to provision of the reactors. KEDO subsequently identified Sinpo as the LWR project site and held a groundbreaking ceremony in August 1997. In December 1999, KEDO and the (South) Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) signed the Turnkey Contract (TKC), permitting full-scale construction of the LWRs.

In January 1995, as called for in the 1994 Agreed Framework, the United States and D.P.R.K. negotiated a method to store safely the spent fuel from the D.P.R.K.'s five-megawatt nuclear reactor. Under this method, United States and D.P.R.K. operators worked together to can the spent fuel and store the canisters in a spent fuel pond; canning began in 1995. In April 2000, canning of all accessible spent fuel rods and rod fragments was completed.

In 1998, the United States identified an underground site in Kumchang-ni, North Korea, which it suspected of being nuclear-related. In March 1999, after several rounds of negotiations, the United States and D.P.R.K. agreed that the United States would be granted 'satisfactory access' to the underground site at Kumchang-ni. In October 2000, during D.P.R.K. Special Envoy Marshal Jo Myong-rok's visit to Washington, and after two visits to the site by teams of U.S. experts, the United States announced in a Joint Communiqué with the D.P.R.K. that U.S. concerns about the site had been resolved.

As called for in former Defense Secretary William Perry's official review of U.S. policy toward North Korea, the United States and the D.P.R.K. launched Agreed Framework Implementation Talks in May 2000 The United States and the D.P.R.K. also began negotiations for a comprehensive missile agreement, pursuant to the Perry recommendations.

In January 2001, the Bush Administration discontinued nuclear and missile talks, specifying that it intended to review the United States' North Korea policy. The Administration announced on June 6, 2001, that it was prepared to resume dialogue with North Korea on a broader agenda of issues--including North Korea's conventional force posture, missile development and export programs, human rights practices, and humanitarian issues.

In October 2002, a U.S. delegation confronted North Korea with the assessment that the D.P.R.K. was pursuing a uranium enrichment program, in violation of North Korea's obligations under the NPT and its commitments in the 1992 North-South Joint Declaration on Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the Agreed Framework. North Korean officials asserted to the U.S. delegation, headed by then-Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James A. Kelly, the D.P.R.K.'s 'right' to a uranium enrichment program and indicated that that it had such a program. The U.S. side stated that North Korea would have to terminate the program before any further progress could be made in U.S.-D.P.R.K. relations. The United States also made clear that if this program were verifiably eliminated, it would be prepared to work with North Korea on the development of a fundamentally new relationship. Subsequently, the D.P.R.K. has denied the existence of a uranium enrichment program. In November 2002, the member countries of KEDO's Executive Board agreed to suspend heavy fuel oil shipments to North Korea pending a resolution of the nuclear dispute.

In late 2002 and early 2003, North Korea terminated the freeze on its existing plutonium-based nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, expelled IAEA inspectors, removed seals and monitoring equipment at Yongbyon, withdrew from the NPT, and resumed reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium for weapons purposes. North Korea announced that it was taking these steps to provide itself with a deterrent force in the face of U.S. threats and U.S. 'hostile policy.' Beginning in mid-2003, the North repeatedly claimed to have completed reprocessing of the spent fuel rods previously frozen at Yongbyon and publicly said that the resulting fissile material would be used to bolster its 'nuclear deterrent force.' There is no independent confirmation of North Korea's claims. The KEDO Executive Board suspended work on the LWR Project beginning December 1, 2003.

President Bush has made clear that the United States has no intention to invade or attack North Korea. The President has also stressed that the United States seeks a peaceful end to North Korea's nuclear program in cooperation with North Korea's neighbors, who are directly affected by the threat the nuclear program poses to regional stability and security.

In early 2003, the United States proposed multilateral talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. North Korea initially opposed such a process, maintaining that the nuclear dispute was purely a bilateral matter between the United States and the D.P.R.K. However, under pressure from its neighbors and with the active involvement of China, North Korea agreed to three-party talks with China and the United States in Beijing in April 2003 and to Six-Party Talks with the United States, China, R.O.K., Japan and Russia in August 2003, also in Beijing. During the August 2003 round of Six-Party Talks, North Korea agreed to the eventual elimination of its nuclear programs if the United States were first willing to sign a bilateral 'non-aggression treaty' and meet various other conditions, including the provision of substantial amounts of aid and normalization of relations. The North Korean proposal was unacceptable to the United States, which insisted on a multilateral resolution to the issue and opposed provision of benefits before the D.P.R.K.'s complete denuclearization. In October 2003, President Bush said he would consider a multilateral written security guarantee in the context of North Korea's complete, verifiable, and irreversible elimination of its nuclear weapons program.

China hosted a second round of Six-Party Talks in Beijing in February 2004. The United States saw the results as positive, including the announced intention of all parties to hold a third round by the end of June and to form a working group to maintain momentum between plenary sessions.

At the third round of Six-Party Talks in Beijing, in June 2004, the United States tabled a comprehensive and substantive proposal aimed at resolving the nuclear issue. All parties agreed to hold a fourth round of talks by the end of September 2004. Despite its commitment, the D.P.R.K. refused to return to the table, and in the months that followed issued a series of provocative statements. In a February 10, 2005, Foreign Ministry statement, the D.P.R.K. declared that it had 'manufactured nuclear weapons' and was 'indefinitely suspending' its participation in the Six-Party Talks. In Foreign Ministry statements in March, the D.P.R.K. said it would no longer be bound by its voluntary moratorium on ballistic missile launches, and declared itself a nuclear weapons state.

Following intense diplomatic efforts by the United States and other parties, the fourth round of Six-Party Talks were held in Beijing over a period of 20 days from July-September 2005, with a recess period in August. Discussions resulted in all parties agreeing to a Joint Statement of Principles. In the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement, the six parties unanimously reaffirmed the goal of verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner. The D.P.R.K. for the first time committed to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and to return, at an early date, to the NPT and to IAEA safeguards. The other parties agreed to provide economic cooperation and energy assistance. The United States and the D.P.R.K. agreed to take steps to normalize relations subject to bilateral policies, which for the United States includes our concerns over North Korea's ballistic missile programs and deplorable human rights conditions. While the Joint Statement provides a vision of the end-point of the Six-Party process, much work lies ahead to implement the elements of the agreement.

A fifth round of talks began in November 2005, but ended inconclusively as the D.P.R.K. began a boycott of the Six-Party Talks, citing the 'U.S.' hostile policy' and specifically U.S. law enforcement action that had led in September to a freeze of North Korean accounts in Macau's Banco Delta Asia (BDA). The United States held discussions in Kuala Lumpur (July 2006) and New York in (September 2006) with other Six-Party partners, except North Korea, along with representatives from other regional powers in the Asia-Pacific region, to discuss Northeast Asian security issues, including North Korea. On July 4-5, 2006 (local Korea time), the D.P.R.K. launched seven ballistic missiles, including six short- and medium-range missiles and one of possible intercontinental range. In response, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1695 on July 15, which demands that the D.P.R.K. suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program and reestablish existing commitments to a moratorium on missile launching. The resolution also requires all UN Member States, in accordance with their national legal authorities and consistent with international law, to exercise vigilance and prevent missile and missile-related items, materials, goods and technology from being transferred to the D.P.R.K.'s missile or weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, prevent the procurement of missiles or related items, materials, goods and services from the D.P.R.K., and the transfer of any financial resources in relation to the D.P.R.K.'s missile or WMD programs. The D.P.R.K. immediately rejected the resolution.

On October 9, 2006, North Korea announced a successful nuclear test, verified by the United States on October 11. In response, the United Nations Security Council, citing Chapter VII of the UN Charter, unanimously passed Resolution 1718, condemning North Korea and imposing sanctions on certain luxury goods and trade of military units, WMD-related parts, and technology transfers.

The Six-Party Talks resumed in December 2006 after a 13-month hiatus. Following a bilateral meeting between the United States and D.P.R.K. in Berlin in January 2007, another round of Six-Party Talks was held in February 2007. On February 13 2007, the parties reached an agreement on 'Initial Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement' in which North Korea agreed to shut down and seal its Yongbyon nuclear facility, including the reprocessing facility and to invite back IAEA personnel to conduct all necessary monitoring and verification of these actions. The other five parties agreed to provide emergency energy assistance to North Korea in the amount of 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the initial phase (within 60 days) and the equivalent of 950,000 tons of HFO in the next phase of North Korea's denuclearization. The six parties also established five working groups to form specific plans for implementing the Joint Statement in the following areas: denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, normalization of D.P.R.K.-U.S. relations, normalization of D.P.R.K.-Japan relations, economic and energy cooperation, and a Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism. All parties agreed that the working groups would meet within 30 days of the agreement, which they did. The agreement also envisions the directly-related parties negotiating a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula at an appropriate separate forum. As part of the initial actions, North Korea invited IAEA Director General ElBaradei to Pyongyang in early March for preliminary discussions on the return of the IAEA to the D.P.R.K.

The sixth round of Six-Party Talks took place on March 19-23, 2007. The parties reported on the first meetings of the five working groups. The talks recessed following the March round.


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