Mr. D'AMATO. Mr. President, I rise today to comment on the truly incredible developments that have occurred in President Clinton's Korea policy, and I use the word `policy' loosely, since last week. I cannot recall, and no one I have spoken with can recall, a situation in which the abrupt collapse of a major U.S. international effort was caused by the personal intervention of a former President.
Here, former President Carter took the initiative to travel to North Korea to meet with Kim Il-sung after consulting with President Clinton and being briefed by high administration officials. Then, Mr. Carter engages in exchanges with Kim Il-sung in which he certainly sounds as if he were representing the United States, even though he claims it was a private trip. Finally, the representations that Mr. Carter makes to Kim Il-sung effectively short-circuit current United States policy toward North Korea.
Mr. President, I was under the distinct impression that the U.S. Constitution provides for only one person to hold the office of President of the United States at a time. Mr. Carter held that office once, but he has not been in office since January 1981. Mr. Clinton holds the office now.
I have the gravest objections, both on constitutional and substantive grounds, to Mr. Carter's intervention in U.S. policy. He had no authorization to speak for the United States on such a grave matter as our policy toward North Korea. Reportedly, Mr. Clinton did not delegate this authority to Mr. Carter, and Mr. Carter's actions reached far beyond the customary scope allowed any informal representative acting for the President in international situations.
This raises questions about the nature and degree to which Mr. Clinton is meeting his constitutional responsibility to conduct the foreign policy of the United States. In fact, the published descriptions of the way Mr. Carter's visit was prepared for and conducted, and how the administration reacted to it, paint such a picture of confusion and disarray in the foreign policy process as to be without parallel since the days of strongest internal dispute over the conduct of the Vietnam war. In fact, even then it appeared that one person--President Johnson--was clearly in charge, even though much maneuvering, carping, leaking, and conspiring was going on around him. Now, it is legitimate to ask whether anyone really is in charge.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that a series of articles that appeared in the press concerning this issue be printed in the Record following my remarks. The articles are as follows: `U.S. Shift on Korea: Clinton Retreating From a Showdown,' by Michael R. Gordon, the New York Times, Saturday, June 18, 1994, p.1; `Carter Visit to North Korea: Whose Trip Was It Really?' by David E. Sanger, the New York Times, Saturday, June 18, 1994 p. 6; `Carter Faulted by White House on North Korea: Policy Statements Cause Confusion on Sanctions,' by R. Jeffrey Smith and Bradley Graham, the Washington Post, Saturday, June 18, 1994, p. A1; `Carter Trip May Offer `Opening': White House Wary of Ex-President's View N. Korea `Crisis Is Over,' by R. Jeffrey Smith and Ruth Marcus, the Washington Post, Monday, June 20, 1994, page A1; `Mr. Carter's Trip,' an editorial, the Washington Post, Monday, June 20, 1994, page A14; and `U.S. Debates Shift on North Korea: Carter's Visit Derails Sanctions Drive,' by R. Jeffrey Smith and Ann Devroy, the Washington Post, Tuesday, June 21, 1994, p. A1.
(See exhibit 1.)
Mr. D'AMATO. These articles, taken together, show why our allies question our resolve and our judgment in a wide range of foreign policy questions, not just North Korean policy. These articles document an absence of commitment to principle--any principle--and an absence of management of the policy process, that can only be described as breathtaking.
What are the principles this administration lives by and is willing to stand behind with blood, treasure, and steel if necessary? These questions are being asked by our allies, but they are being answered by our enemies.
Mohammed Aideed, Slobodan Milosevic, General Cedras, and now Kim Il-song are providing the answers. These answers are dismaying our friends and emboldening our enemies. And I believe that if we do not see an abrupt and strong reversal of this disintegration of our foreign policy leadership, more of our enemies will decide to act, and sooner rather than later.
Mr. President, the price the people of the United States may have to pay to redeem American leadership--and with it, U.S. national security in a potentially hostile world--may be beyond the ability of the present administration to imagine. Moreover, if we do not pay the price when our enemies present the bill, we will find ourselves in retreat behind our ocean moats, facing a much diminished future for ourselves and our children.
This is the issue, and it demands an immediate and urgent response from a focused and committed President. He can start by obeying the old maxim, `when in charge, take charge.' He has not, and we are beginning to comprehend what that means. It is not a question of `inside the beltway' maneuvering, it is a question of leadership and character. We will soon know, whether Mr. Clinton desires it or not, if he has the judgment and the strength to lead successfully when events are turning against him. For the sake of this Nation, we must pray that the answer is `yes.'
U.S. Shift on Korea; Clinton Retreating From a Showdown
Washington, June 17: North Korea's latest offer to resolve the crisis over its nuclear program appears to include little that is new, but President Clinton's willingness to seize it as an opportunity to avoid a confrontation reflects an abrupt shift of policy.
The change says less about the prospects for a diplomatic resolution than it does about the Administration's apprehensions over a showdown and its difficulties in marshaling an international coalition for tough sanctions.
The White House got to the precipice of economic sanctions and sending military reinforcements, was nervous about what it saw and decided to take another crack at diplomacy, even though that meant backing away from a key condition for high-level negotiations. The condition was its insistence that North Korea insure that monitors be allowed to take measurements to determine whether Pyongyang has ever diverted plutonium for a nuclear weapon.
Administration officials say they are merely exploring new signs of flexibility on the part of the North Koreans, and argue that any agreement in which they would freeze their nuclear weapons program while high-levels tasks proceed would be a good bargain for the United States.
`As the President said yesterday, our policy has not changed one lota,' said Anthony Lake, Mr. Clinton's national security adviser.
But the officials also acknowledged that the details of the North Korean proposal, which would allow international monitors to remain in North Korea as long as Washington made `good-faith efforts' to negotiate, remain to be clarified.
And they acknowledge that former President Jimmy Carter complicated the picture by asserting wrongly that Washington had stopped `sanction activity' in the United Nations, where the officials said the United States is still consulting with other nations on the possibility of sanctions.
But even supporters of the Administration's new approach say it represents a major change in Washington's stance.
Representative Gary L. Ackerman, the Queens Democrat who visited North Korea in October, said the Administration was right to try to follow up any opening that might have been created by Mr. Carter's diplomacy in Pyongyang. But Mr. Ackerman added that the North Korean statements, which the White House has hailed as signs of a new policy, reflected longstanding positions.
Mr. Ackerman said `almost everything' that the North Koreans had proposed had been floated before. `They they have sold it to somebody new at a different time,' he said, referring to Mr. Carter.
Some experts were more critical. `There has been a clear change in our position. We put our markers down, and now we are doing the very thing that we said was unacceptable,' said Zalmay Khalilzad, the head of the Pentagon's office of policy planning in the Bush Administration. `When you state you won't do something and then you do it, it undermines your credibility.'
DISPUTE BEGAN LAST YEAR
The controversy arose last year when the International Atomic Energy Agency determined that North Korea had produced more plutonium than it had acknowledged when it shut down its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon in 1989. The agency then sought to carry out additional inspections to confirm its findings.
The inspections were important because the Central Intelligence Agency believe that the North Koreans diverted enough plutonium for one or two bombs, while Pyongyang says it produced only a minute quantity of plutonium.
But the North Koreans balked at allowing the inspections.
That put the ball squarely in the Administration's court, which debated how to respond. Pentagon officials argued that it was more important to limit the North Korean program in the future than to resolve the mystery of the past diversion, but they were overruled.
Taking a resolute stance, the Administration vowed not to engage in high-level talks unless the North Koreans took steps to freeze their plutonium production and insure that monitors could take future measurements to determine whether and how much plutonium was diverged when the reactor was shut down in 1989.
U.S. DEMANDS IGNORED
But the North Koreans ignored the American demands.
In April, they shut down the Yongbyon reactor yet again and withdrew its fuel rods, destroying the evidence
that inspectors needed to determine its past plutonium diversion.
In response, the Administration announced that it would seek economic sanctions and that it would not engage in high-level talks.
`This act undercuts the basis for our dialogue with North Korea,' Robert Gallucci, the Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs, told the House Foreign Affairs on June 9. `We will not continue that dialogue until a reasonable basis for it can be re-established.'
Until Thursday, the Administration held to its position that North Korea had not offered a sufficient basis to resume high-level talks. But when North Korea repeated its interest in holding high-level talks to Mr. Carter, Washington's stance changed.
Mr. Clinton announced that American officials were now willing to engage in talks if North Korea would freeze its nuclear program by refraining from future processing of plutonium, refraining from refueling the reactor at Yongbyon and allowing international inspectors to stay at the Yongbyon site.
By exclusion it dropped its condition on making it possible to trace past plutonium diversion.
In effect, Washington went for the most risk-free approach. It put aside the policies that were difficult, that required the painful building of international coalitions and that raised the prospect of military intervention.
ANY HEADWAY UNCLEAR
By today, it was unclear whether headway was made. Pak Gil Yon, North Korea's representative to the United Nations, denied that North Korea would ever allow monitors to inspect its waste sites to try to determine the extent of its past plutonium diversion.
If the Administration's diplomatic gambit works, Washington will have succeeded in the short run in limiting--but not erasing--the North Korean nuclear menace.
But if it fails, the credibility of the Administration's foreign policy, already under question for flip-flops over China, Haiti and Somalia, may come under fire.
`I am not surprised that the North Koreans took the opportunity of the visit of a former President of the United States to `send a message,' Mr. Gallucci said today. `What we don't know really is the meaning of that message, and particularly what we don't know is whether the message they intend to send is really one in which one can see a desire in fact to re-establish a dialogue.'
From the New York Times, June 18, 1994
Carter Visit to North Korea: Whose Trip Was it Really?
Seoul, South Korea. Saturday, June 18--Completing his mission to North Korea, former President Jimmy Carter hugged the country's dictator on Friday and called the trip `a good omen,' but immediately touched off a squabble with the Clinton Administration over whether North Korea had specifically offered to freeze its nuclear weapons development project.
President Clinton and his advisers, who had originally said Mr. Carter was on a private trip and then became televised participants in the delicate talks with the North Korean leader, Kim II Sung, clearly distanced themselves from the former President's initiative.
At times they seemed to openly contradict each other. On Friday, Mr. Carter told Mr. Kim that the White House had `stopped the sanction activity in the United Nations,' where an American draft resolution has been circulating since Wednesday. But Administration officials quickly responded that they had done nothing of the kind, and questions swirled over whether North Korea had simply repackaged old proposals that Washington had already rejected.
Speaking to reporters in Chicago on Friday, Mr. Clinton said:
`The position is just exactly what it was yesterday. We are pursuing our sanctions discussion in the U.N. If the North Koreans meant yesterday when they said they would leave the inspectors and equipment there--if they meant they would cease their nuclear operations while talks went on, then we could have talks.
`But we have to go to sanctions if the violations continue.'
VERIFICATION IS SOUGHT
The Administration's chief coordinator on Korean issues, Robert L. Gallucci, said he was trying to verify, through diplomatic channels, the exact meaning of Mr. Kim's vague promises to open up his country's nuclear facilities after high-level, official talks with Washington. Until
they can determine that the promises constitute a new initiative, Mr. Gallucci said, `we are going to continue consultations in New York on a sanctions resolution.
Embracing Mr. Carter's efforts without endorsing its results, Mr. Gallucci said that `we will look at it very closely and if it is something on which we can build, we will try to build.
Similarly, Mr. Carter said that the Clinton Administration had `provisionally agreed' to go ahead with the high-level talks that North Korea has long demanded. But American officials said there would be no such talks unless they determined that Mr. Kim had actually agreed to freeze the North's nuclear program, assuring that it could not produce more weapons from the nuclear fuel it recently extracted from its largest reactor.
Still, there were unconfirmed reports that Mr. Gallucci may soon meet a senior North Korean official.
There was considerable suspicion that Mr. Kim may have given up considerably less than Mr. Carter's optimistic tone would suggest. Mr. Kim's offer to allow two United Nations inspectors to remain in the country did constitute progress, but merely preserved the status quo ante. Many of his other offers were repackaged proposals that the Administration had previously found unacceptable.
OPPORTUNITIES AND RISKS
In Seoul, officials said that Mr. Carter's trip offered some new opportunities, but was also filled with risks and they clearly feared that Mr. Carter was not in command of the complexities of North-South relations.
`I think that the U.S. has the same view we do, a mix of concern and expectation,' a top South Korean official said today.
The White House had approved and even encouraged the Carter visit, but American officials said they had viewed the Carter mission as an attempt to gain a clearer picture of North Korea's position and had not expected to get swept into negotiations that were being carried out on television.
Taken by surprise by Mr. Carter's comments on Thursday, Secretary of State Warren Christopher woke up several Foreign Ministers in Asia to try to craft a response before Mr. Carter went in for another negotiating session with Mr. Kim.
Chosun Ilbo, one of South Korea's most prominent newspapers, said in the edition prepared for Saturday that South Korea `could not hide the bewilderment at such a turn of events.
`There is nothing new in the North Korean proposal,' it said. It added that `for an administration that has been emphasizing its close cooperation with Washington, it was difficult to hide its dissatisfaction with Clinton' for speaking before sorting out the North's intentions.
Still, the hope is that Mr. Kim's statements, particularly as they filter down through the tightly controlled North Korean Government, will end the cycle of threats and counterthreats that have escalated tensions in recent weeks. If the effort fails, one American official here noted tonight, `we can turn the sanctions back on fairly quickly.'
The fact of the matter is that Mr. Clinton has time. It will likely take weeks to get the sanctions resolution through the Security Council, and then a 30-day grance period kicks in before the first, mild steps are implemented.
American and South Korean officials believe that no diversion of the fuel extracted last month from the reactor is possible for at least another month or two. Until that time the fuel rods are too radioactive to handle. After that point, however, experts estimate that the rods could be reprocessed into bomb-grade plutonium in a matter of months.
From the Washington Post, June 18, 1994
Carter Faulted by White House on North Korea; Policy Statements Cause Confusion on Sanctions
The Clinton administration yesterday disowned statements by Jimmy Carter in North Korea, saying the former president evidently had misstated U.S. policy despite earlier consultations between Carter and officials in Washington.
In an embarrassing split, administration officials said they could not explain why Carter said in North Korea the United States had dropped its recent proposal for sanctions against the country, a day after President Clinton had said the diplomatic drive for sanctions would continue.
`We have no way of knowing why he thought what he thought, or why he said what he said,' a senior official said.
Senior U.S. officials also said Carter apparently had misled the North Koreans by telling them Clinton had already agreed to hold new high-level diplomatic talks over the isolated country's nuclear program.
Clinton, Vice President Gore, national security adviser Anthony Lake and Assistant Secretary of State Robert L. Gallucci each went to considerable lengths yesterday to say Washington is still pursuing its sanctions drive even as it explores new prospects for dialogue with the hard-line communist state.
Clinton, asked during a trip to Chicago about the seemingly mixed signals sent by Carter and Washington, said, `We worked all day long [Thursday] on a very clearly and carefully worded statement so that our position could not be misunderstood by [the North Koreans] or anyone else, and it is the same position today.'
Clinton left open the possibility Carter's statement about sanctions--in a brief appearance carried by CNN--could have been misinterpreted.
In the presence of a television crew, Carter said to North Korean President Kim II Sung, `I would like to inform you that they [the United States] have stopped the sanctions activity in the United Nations,' which Washington had begun only on Tuesday. CNN reported Carter told Kim he was passing on the message after consultations with the White House.
Clinton noted, `There was no question and
answer, there was no clarification.' Other officials said they had not had a chance to talk with Carter yesterday to check the remarks. But, for the second day in a row, U.S. officials privately expressed anguish over Carter's public remarks during his visit as a private citizen to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang at the invitation of the government there. `We would not have scripted it this way,' a U.S. official said.
While publicly welcoming an unexpected North Korean concession to Carter on Thursday--in which North Korea promised not to eject international inspectors from a sensitive nuclear site--the officials had been privately scathing that the former Democratic president would so embarrass his successor by challenging his policy at a highly sensitive moment.
The official said that on Thursday Lake and Gallucci had read to Carter over the telephone the text of an official statement worked out by the administration in response to the North Korean concession that made clear Washington was `continuing to consult on our sanctions resolution at the [U.N.] Security Council.'
Officials said during Lake's telephone call with Carter on Thursday evening [Washington time], Carter had made clear he was not happy with that policy. U.S. officials said both men knew the conversation was subject to North Korean eavesdropping.
Carter `wanted to see more give in our position,' the official said. But Lake `made clear to him' in the 20-minute conversation that the position was firm.
`Carter is hearing what he wants to hear, both from Kim Il Sung and from the administration. He is creating his own reality,' said a senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition he remain unidentified.
Asked if the scrambled signals could undermine U.S. policy or reflect poorly on Clinton's handling of the dispute with North Korea, another senior official said caustically that `the implications are for Carter and what does it say about Jimmy Carter, not what does it say about Bill Clinton.'
In a related development, Defense Secretary William J. Perry and Gen. John Shalikashvili yesterday briefed members of Congress on military preparations in light of tensions over Korea. They hoped to calm concerns on Capitol Hill about the readiness of U.S. forces in South Korea. Senators and representatives emerged generally satisfied about the steps so far but somewhat divided over the extent to which the Clinton administration should move now to reinforce American troops in Korea.
`Some members are pressing for more decisive action,' said a congressional source who attended the briefing. `But others contend we must be careful not to take military measures that would eliminate our diplomatic maneuvering room.'
In weighing how quickly and how much to bolster American forces in Korea, administration officials worry about provoking a North Korean invasion but also worry about not doing enough to guard against attack.
After weeks of intensive planning, the Pentagon has drafted several options for building up U.S. military assets
in the region, ranging from a minimum of sending support personnel to a maximum of dispatching squadrons of fighters and bombers as well as an additional aircraft carrier to supplement the one normally based in Japan.
Carter, who has regularly stepped in to try to help resolve diplomatic disputes since his defeat by Ronald Reagan in the 1980 elections, told acquaintances before his departure for North Korea that he wanted to try to head off what he feared could be an unwarranted slide toward devastating conflict there.
The dispute stems from a clash between the International Atomic Energy Agency, a U.N.-affiliated nuclear proliferation watchdog, and North Korea over promised inspections of the country's suspected nuclear weapons program.
The dispute became more serious earlier this month, when North Korea defied IAEA demands to conduct tests critical to assessing whether North Korea in the past had sought to build nuclear weapons. Washington then decided to seek a series of gradually escalating sanctions that North Korea claims would be an act of war.
When Carter first informed Washington of his desire to accept the North Korean invitation, officials were divided about whether to try to talk him out of it.
Gallucci said Carter would be questioned by U.S. officials this weekend, after leaving North Korea, and that Washington would then attempt to confirm his account of North Korea's position through routine diplomatic channels next week as a prelude to possible high-level talks.
Only if North Korea meets a series of U.S. conditions will the talks go forward, and the U.S. sanctions effort be suspended, Gallucci said.
As diplomatic strains have grown with North Korea, the United States so far has taken relatively limited military measures aimed essentially at improving defensive capabilities. These include delivery to South Korea this spring of six Patriot anti-missile batteries, and an increase in intelligence personnel and equipment in--and over--Korea.
A number of other significant improvements in the firepower and mobility of U.S. forces have occurred in recent months as part of a new war plan adopted several years ago before tensions began to rise. These have included dispatch of Apache attack helicopters, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and counter-battery radar.
But, in contrast to the buildup that marked the faceoff between the Bush administration and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in 1990, the Clinton administration has taken pains to keep its latest reinforcement efforts as low-key as possible. Four years ago, the United States was hoping to scare Saddam into pulling his forces out of Kuwait rather than risk war. This time, U.S. officials are afraid of scaring a paranoid North Korean leadership into invading the South.
`We have to be careful that we don't propel ourselves into a war we're trying to prevent,' Adm. Charles R. Larson, commander-in-chief of U.S. forces in the Pacific, told a naval conference in Newport, R.I., this week.
From the Washington Post, June 20, 1994
Carter Trip May Offer `Opening:' White House Wary of Ex-President's View-- North Korea `Crisis Is Over'
The Clinton administration yesterday offered an upbeat appraisal of the controversial visit by former president Jimmy Carter to North Korea, saying it may have produced `an opening' in stalled efforts to resolve a dispute over that country's nuclear program.
Assistant Secretary of State Robert L. Gallucci, the senior U.S. envoy on North Korean nuclear matters, offered this assessment after a two-hour briefing by Carter for senior officials at the White House. During the briefing, Carter also spoke by telephone for 30 minutes with President Clinton, who was at Camp David.
Gallucci, at a news briefing, repeated the administration's position that Washington needs to verify the specifics of North Korea's reported offer to Carter to freeze its nuclear program in exchange for new high-level talks with the United States.
Gallucci also declined to endorse Carter's statement outside the White House after his briefing that `the crisis is over.' But Gallucci's assessment, while guarded, was more optimistic than the tentative stance that he and other administration officials adopted before hearing from Carter face-to-face.
`It may be well that President Carter has brought back something upon which we can build and defuse the situation,' Gallucci said, explaining that his conclusion was based on hearing new deals of the visit. `The characterization I'm comfortable with is that there may be an opening here.'
Gallucci took pains to make clear that `certainly, we're very appreciative of President Carter's good efforts' to resolve the standoff over inspections by key nuclear facilities, apparently seeking to smooth over criticism by some officials of Carter's statements about U.S. policy in North Korea earlier in the week. `I think we are all on the same sheet of music,' Gallucci said.
As Gallucci was briefing at the White House, however, Carter was telling reporters in a suite at a nearby hotel that he felt the administration's policy on Korea had been misguided and that he undertook the four-day visit to rescue Washington from a precipitous slide toward a devastating new war on the Korean peninsula.
Carter told reporters that in his view, the administration was wrong to put forward a proposal last week for gradually escalating U.N. sanctions to punish past North Korean intransigence on international inspections of its nuclear facilities. He said sanctions would be `a direct cause of potential war' and would not block North Korea's access to desired foreign trade or nuclear technology.
Carter said he has been unable to reconcile his views of the dispute with that of `so-called experts' in the administration who assert North Korea will bend under the threat of sanctions to allow the required inspections. `The experts who briefed me before I left have never been to North Korea,' he noted caustically.
In commenting on his brief visit, which came after a series of invitations from North Korea, Carter offered a strikingly uncritical assessment of the country and its autocratic leaders.
`People were very friendly and open,' he said, and had refrained from leveling any criticism at South Korea, something that he said had appeared `quite interesting.' He called the capital of Pyongyang, which U.S. intelligence officials have said experiences periodic blackouts from energy shortages, a bustling city with shops that looked like `Wal-Mart in Americus, Georgia,' and that the neon lights at night reminded him of Times Square.
`I don't feel as if I have been duped,' he said, explaining that `the proof is in the pudding' because North Korea must now make good on a promise to him by President Kim Il Sung that its nuclear program will be frozen during new high-level negotiations with Washington.
This means, Carter said, that the country will not eject the last two international inspectors from a key nuclear complex and will not produce new plutonium. But he said he was not sure if it also meant the country would agree to not refueling a reactor suited to plutonium production, a condition set out by Washington for new talks that Carter said in an `oversight' he had neglected to mention.
Carter first met alone yesterday with national security adviser Anthony Lake, who was a senior official in Carter's State Department. The meeting then expanded to include Gallucci, Assistant Secretary of State Winston Lord, deputy national security adviser Samuel R. `Sandy' Berger and national security council staffer Daniel B. Poneman.
Gallucci said his optimistic appraisal of the results of Carter's visit was based on what Carter had depicted as North Korea's apparent interest in `genuinely decommissioning and putting aside' nuclear reactor technology suited to the production of plutonium, a key ingredient of nuclear arms.
Gallucci also cited Carter's assertion of North Korea's general interest in `improving relations and meeting international standards' in the nuclear field, as well as its possible willingness to settle U.S. questions about its past plutonium production `in the context of an overall settlement' of all major disputes with Washington.
`There's much that could be there, and . . . we need to determine whether it is there,' Gallucci said.
But House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), speaking later on CNN's `Late Edition,' expressed more skepticism than Carter about the results of the trip. He said he disagreed with Carter's assessment that the Korean crisis was resolved, explaining that `the fundamentals really have not changed. . . . North Korea is still not living up to its commitments. . . . There is no real concession on their part at this point.'
Former Secretary of State Lawrence S. Eagleburger, appearing on the same program, was biting in his criticism of Carter. `I really wish he'd stayed home,' Eagleburger said. He said he was `horrified' to hear Carter `taking the word of this murderer who runs North Korea,' and that North Korea still had not complied with international inspection demands.
Carter said he was taken aback by the criticism of his visit, but that Clinton had told him during the telephone call that `he was very grateful that I had gone and he thought it was a very fine accomplishment.'
Carter confirmed that the State Department had dissuaded him from traveling to North Korea on two prior occasions, but said Clinton had signaled his approval for the trip in a message relayed from Europe by Vice President Gore on June 6.
By Carter's description, his decision to proceed came after a three-hour briefing by Gallucci in Atlanta convinced him that sanctions could lead to war. `I was distressed to realize we were approaching the possibility of a major confrontation . . . and that there was no avenue of communication that I could ascertain that might lead to a resolution,' Carter said.
After a series of additional briefings in Washington, including a chat with Lake, Carter flew to Seoul on June 12 with his wife Rosalynn and two aides from his policy center in Atlanta. Carter said he found South Korean officials there `concerned about my visit' but that the U.S. military commander in Korea, Gen. Gary Luck, gave a `very positive reaction.'
Carter emphasized he was never authorized to convey any message to North Korea from the administration, and had not been recruited to play a `good cop' to the `bad cop' image of Washington's sanctions drive.
But he indicated he clearly viewed himself as a mediator in the dispute who could broker a solution that would stave off war. On Wednesday, when the trip appeared to be going badly, he dispatched an aide and former U.S. diplomat, Marion Creekmore, to the border with South Korea carrying a letter for transmission to Clinton pleading for a U.S. compromise that could lead to new negotiations.
The letter was never sent because on Wednesday and Thursday, Carter said, Kim accepted his proposal that the North Korean nuclear program be frozen as a condition of new high-level talks and also said he was willing to move toward eventual denuclearization of the entire peninsula under a stalled 1991 accord with South Korea.
Carter also disclosed that Kim had suggested that North and South Korea make substantial troop reductions along their border and engineer a pullback of weaponry under some form of inspections. He also said that at the urging of Kim's wife, Kim had accepted Carter's proposal of joint U.S. North Korean searches for remains of U.S. servicemen buried by U.S. troops during the Korean conflict.
`I don't think that they are an outlaw nation,' Carter said. `Obviously they've done some things in the past that we condemn. They have their own justification for them and I won't go into that . . . But this is something that's not for me to judge.'
Carter apologized for the confusion caused by his televised claim from North Korea on Friday that Washington had `stopped the sanctions activity in the United Nations' in response to an apparent North Korean concession on the inspection issue. Administration officials had said the remark conflicted with what Lake had told Carter in a telephone conversation earlier that day.
But Carter, who had spoken with Lake around 5 a.m. local time in Korea, told reporters he did not recall hearing that pledge. `I regret that misunderstanding,' he said. `It was my fault' because his televised claim that sanctions work had been suspended did not make clear he was expressing his personal view, rather than administration policy.
From the Washington Post, June 20, 1994}
Mr. Carter's Trip
That was an astonishing trip that Jimmy Carter made to North Korea. He went in on his status as a former American president but conducted himself as an above-the-fray mediator trying to keep two heedless parties from going over the brink to war. Or perhaps only one heedless party: the United States. Mr. Carter seems to take at face value much of the stated position of North Korea and its `Great Leader,' dictator, aggressor and terrorist Kim II Sung, whom he found a rather reasonable and pleasant fellow.
At one point he appeared to be committing the U.S. government to a no-sanctions policy. The resulting uproar produced assertions that he was not speaking for the United States at all. But he kept on repeating his view that sanctions are wrong: wrong not because they would inflict economic pain--the Koreans could bear up fine, Mr. Carter believes--but because they embody an insult to Kim II Sung so offensive that they would provoke him to war, and wrong because North Korea has done nothing proven in its nuclear development to warrant being stimatized as an outlaw nation. So much for anyone else's concern that North Korea is a chronic cheater on its anti-proliferation vows.
Still, the Clinton administration was smart to keep its cool. The shrewd Kim II Sung may have been using Jimmy Carter as a cover for making policy adjustments he did not care to make directly to Bill Clinton. An offer of a nuclear freeze, another teasing reference to inspection, resumption of U.S.-North Korean talks, a proposal of a first North Korean summit with South Korea: these items are chips in play on an extended bargaining table. But as offered by Kim II Sung, they serve a strategy of seeking advantage from the United States--a guarantee against attack, a return to international society, a recognition of North Korea's place and pride--without surrendering the nuclear option.
The United States needs something very different: to make sure North Korea gets off the nuclear road. On this crucial requirement, Mr. Carter has drawn no rabbit out of the hat. The crisis is not, as he says, over. We are still no closer to knowing whether North Korea means to comply with international nonproliferation pledges or to play for time. This is what President Clinton must keep foremost in mind as he continues a negotiation that has been complicated but perhaps also loosened by Jimmy Carter's intervention.
From the Washington Post, June 21, 1994
U.S. Debates Shift on North Korea: Carter's Visit Derails Sanctions Drive
The Clinton administration scrambled yesterday to find a fresh strategy for dealing with North Korea after former president Jimmy Carter's visit there derailed a U.S. drive for economic sanctions to punish that country for its suspected nuclear weapons program.
After being criticized last week by Carter for trying to be too tough on North Korea, and by prominent conservatives for acting too weakly toward the hard-line communist states, senior U.S. officials met at the White House with nearly a dozen independent experts to hear advice about what the policy should be.
But the meeting produced no clear road map, as `there were divisions' among the participants that were not resolved, an administration official said.
The administration also put on hold its plans to contact the North Korean regime immediately in the aftermath of Carter's briefing of the White House over the weekend on the results of his four-day visit.
Although the administration had said last week it would seek to confirm the results of the visit through diplomatic channels, `we have not made a decision yet about the best way to do that,' a senior official said. He said the contact with North Korea is still likely to be initiated this week.
Officials said President Clinton and national security adviser Anthony Lake were among those who attended the unannounced White House seminar, which featured as guest lecturers a gaggle of former diplomats under presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan as well as several academic experts and recent visitors to North Korea besides Carter.
Most of those picked for the group had been critical of what the administration has done so far to try to stop North Korea's nuclear program. `It's basically all the guys who have been trashing us in op-ed pieces,' including both liberals and conservatives, said one official.
An official described the session as an effort to `get a sense of whether there is a consensus on how to proceed. We are simply getting their perspective on what they think is the situation and what our course should be.' Another official said Lake also wanted to explain to the group the rationale behind the administration's actions so far.
Several officials said the administration's decision to seek outside advice underscored the confusion provoked by the results of Carter's visit, which produced a North Korean promise to Carter that the country would freeze its plans to accumulate more plutonium--a key ingredient of nuclear arms.
As relayed by Carter, North Korea's promise was conditioned on Washington's acceptance of immediate high-level, bilateral negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang. Such talks would effectively sideline the recent U.S. proposal for mild economic and other sanctions to punish North Korea for its past intransigence on nuclear matters.
The administration had maintained for weeks that these talks would not occur if North Korea withdrew spent nuclear fuel from its 25-megawatt reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear complex. The demand reflected Washington's desire for international inspectors to get a look at the fuel to assess the country's past production of plutonium, as well as U.S. concern that the fuel could be used to produce enough plutonium for four or five nuclear weapons.
But North Korea withdrew the fuel without inspectors present, prompting Washington to press for sanctions and Carter to depart for the North Korean capital to head off what he feared was a likely war. Both before and after his visit, he publicly condemned Washington for its aloof style of dealing with North Korea, and criticized the U.S. push for sanctions.
Officials said Carter's criticisms had provoked internal discussion of whether the administration should seek to confirm the results of his visit by opening a new high-level channel of contacts with North Korea, use an existing lower-level channel, or simply write a letter.
An official indicated the administration's confusion reflected in part some uncertainly about whether North Korea's pledges to Carter are sincere. He said the consensus at the White House broke down like this: `There is maybe a 15 percent chance the whole world caught a break because the North Koreans could make concessions to someone not in the government--Carter--that they could not make with us. There is a 35 percent chance that it was pure stalling [while North Korea prepares to make more bombs] and maybe a 50 percent chance that it is really an opening [though not a breakthrough] that we can exploit now to achieve the results we all want.'
Another factor in the administration's desire for fresh advice was the controversy created by some of Carter's statements about his trip. While Carter may get credit for finding a way for both Washington and Pyongyang to step back from confrontation, several diplomatic analysts questioned his description of the North Korean capital as bustling and neon-lit, combined with his refusal to criticize a regime accused of terrorism and human rights abuses.
`If Carter is right, everything we have been told about North Korea for 40 years is wrong,' one former U.S. official said.
Carter `was very effectively used by Kim Il Sung to dissipate the pressure for sanctions and split the coalition' that Washington has been trying to build, said a former high-ranking diplomat who served in Democratic and Republican administrations.
Attending the seminar from the administration were Lake, deputy national security adviser Samuel R. `Sandy' Berger, Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and other senior officials. The outside experts included former ambassador to China James Lilly, former ambassador to South Korea Donald Gregg, and former undersecretary of state Arnold Kantor.
Others attending were Sandy Specter and Selig Harrison from the Carnegie Endowment, Alan Romberg from the U.S. Institute for Peace, and Asia scholar Michael Oxenberg.
In other fallout yesterday from Carter's visit, South Korea asked North Korea for a meeting on June 28 to discuss plans for a first-ever summit meeting between their presidents, aimed at reducing nuclear tensions on the peninsula, Reuter reported. Carter brought back from Pyongyang a message from North Korean President Kim Il Sung proposing a meeting with his southern counterpart, Kim Young Sam.
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