Albright Visit Considered Breakthrough in U.S.-N. Korean Relations
Arms Control group considers global security implications
By Kerri DiZoglio
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington - Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's upcoming visit
to North Korea is not expected to result in specific resolutions on
major security issues, but "will establish a foundation to address the
more complicated security concerns in the future," according Joel Wit,
former U.S. State Department Coordinator of the U.S.-North Korean
Wit made his comments during an Arms Control Association press
conference October 20. The conference was held to discuss the
significance of the upcoming meeting between Albright and North Korean
leader Kim Jong-Il on October 23-24 in Pyongyang.
Members of the group consider Albright's North Korea visit
groundbreaking because it marks the highest-level visit ever by a U.S.
official and a possible end to years of tense relations between the
In a statement released at the press conference, the Arms Control
Association said the visit could potentially have far-reaching
implications for such security issues as stability in Northeast Asia,
efforts to control nuclear and missile proliferation, and U.S.
national defense plans.
Conference panelist David Albright, president of the Institute for
Science and International Security, cautioned, however, that "North
Korea must first put an end to undeclared nuclear activities and
demonstrate a commitment to transparency by cooperating with the
International Atomic Energy Agency in order to bring about peace in
A nuclear-free North Korea would not only increase security in the
region but also around the globe, according to Joseph Cirincione,
Director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace. The elimination of the North Korean missile
program would put an end to the exportation of missiles by North Korea
to "major states of concern." Without North Korean support, Iran's and
Pakistan's medium- to long-range missile programs, which are of
greatest threat to the U.S. and their troops abroad, would be severely
weakened if not incapacitated, Cirincione said.
Then, he said, assuming Russia and China could also be persuaded to
discontinue missile support to Iran, the justification for developing
a major U.S. national missile defense system would be abolished. This
would serve to enhance U.S. global relations, Cirincione said, because
the proposed missile defense system has been a source of disagreement
with Russia, China and U.S. allies.
The Secretary's trip to North Korea was announced in a joint statement
issued by the Department of State and North Korea following a visit to
the United States by Vice Marshal Jo Myong Rok, Kim Jong-Il's
second-in-command, in early October. The statement also indicated the
possibility of a visit by President Clinton to North Korea, but such a
visit will be largely dependent upon the outcome of the talks between
Secretary Albright and Kim Jong-Il.
According to Alan Romberg, senior associate at the Henry L. Stimson
Center and former principal deputy director of the policy planning
staff at the U.S. Department of State, achieving "an open, democratic
society in North Korea is not yet practical, but influencing their
external behavior to reduce the threat to peace and security is a
(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list