RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN NORTH KOREA
TESTIMONY BY SPECIAL ENVOY FOR THE KOREAN PEACE PROCESS
THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
September 10, 1998
Senator Thomas, the last time I appeared before you was to seek
confirmation as the U.S. Special Envoy for the Korean Peace Process.
Subsequently, the Secretary also appointed me the U.S. Representative
to the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, more commonly
known as KEDO.
I want to thank you again for your and the Committee's support. And I
reiterate to you my intention to consult regularly with you as we
proceed with North Korea.
It has been a busy month since I assumed my duties. As you know, I
returned from New York September 5, following two weeks of intensive
negotiations with the North Koreans.
Those negotiations resulted in commitments from the DPRK to take a
number of steps toward resolving key U.S. concerns about North Korea's
suspect underground construction, its August 31 launch of a new,
longer-range missile, and its implementation of the Agreed Framework.
Let me make clear that, in these as in past negotiations, the U.S.
approach was one of seriousness with respect to the security risks at
stake, coupled with deep skepticism. Let me be clear, we do not trust
North Korean intentions. It remains indisputable that North Korea
represents a major threat to peace and stability not only in northeast
Asia, but also in other volatile areas in the region.
We have no illusions about our dealings with North Korea. There are no
assured outcomes. But I must underscore the significance of the
commitments we just obtained in New York. They will facilitate our
ability to deal squarely with the issues of great and immediate
concern -- suspect underground construction and the North Korean
missile program. It will also lead to the quick conclusion of the
spent fuel canning -- thus dealing with an otherwise serious
proliferation risk. The understanding we have reached also will lead
to a resumption of Four Party talks in the near future.
We made clear in New York that the North Koreans need to satisfy our
concerns about suspect construction in the DPRK. This is essential for
the Agreed Framework. Reaching an agreement to deal with our concerns
in this area is a top priority. Further talks on this issue, which we
intend to continue in the coming weeks, will get into the details of
clarifying DPRK activities to our satisfaction; clarification will
have to include access to the site. We made it quite plain to the
North Koreans that verbal assurances will not suffice.
During our recent talks, in close consultation with our South Korean
and Japanese allies, we put the North's missile program and alleged
nuclear activities front and center, insisting that the DPRK address
U.S. concerns in these areas. As a result, North Korea has agreed to
resume missile talks October 1. During these upcoming negotiations we
will seek to curtail North Korea's efforts to develop, deploy and sell
But, if there is anything more dangerous than a long-range missile, it
is a long-range missile with a nuclear warhead. That is why we sought
and obtained in New York a North Korean commitment to resume by
mid-September, and to complete quickly and without interruption, the
canning of their remaining spent nuclear fuel. This will put an end to
their threat of recent months to reprocess this spent fuel.
Finally, the North Koreans have agreed to convene a third round of
Four Party peace talks by October. It is understood by all, including
the North Koreans, that the participants must move on to practical
business such as tension reduction.
We remain convinced that firm and steadfast use of available channels
is the best way to achieve the results we seek with respect to North
Korea. This is the basic approach we used in New York, and it is one
that proved to be of value during our negotiations of the Agreed
Framework in Geneva.
While we are hopeful that the resumption of the various talks agreed
to in New York will result in concrete benefits, we also firmly
believe that the Agreed Framework must continue to be the centerpiece
of U.S. policy toward the DPRK for some time to come. Though not
perfect, the Agreed Framework is still the only viable alternative we
have that has a chance to keep North Korea's nuclear activities in
check and keep the North engaged on other matters.
Without the Agreed Framework, North Korea would have produced a
sizeable arsenal of weapons-grade plutonium by now. We have prevented
that for close to four years, and we are committed to ensuring that
the DPRK nuclear program remains frozen for the future. This is
without doubt in the interest of the U.S. and our friends and allies
in and beyond the region.
We are clearly better off with the North Korean nuclear facilities at
Yongbyon frozen. To cite specifics: the nuclear facilities are under
IAEA inspection; Pyongyang has agreed as a result of this past round
of negotiations to can its remaining spent fuel; the DPRK is not
reprocessing nuclear fuel. In other words, the compliance record for
the existing facilities is good, and a dangerous program at Yongbyon
is frozen and under inspection. We have made it crystal clear to the
North Koreans that we expect them to continue to live up to these
obligations under the Agreed Framework.
In conclusion, what we seek in our present dealings with the DPRK is
to avoid a return to the circumstances of 1993-94 when tensions
between North Korea, its neighbors, the United States and the
international community were dangerously high. We will continue to
look for ways to reduce tensions on the Korean Peninsula, but we will
also continue to be firm and deliberate with the North. With the
proper support, we can go a long way toward eliminating North Korea's
ability to threaten its neighbors and to export that threat to other
parts of the world.
There is no question that much depends on North Korean intentions.
But, with the limited tools we have, I can assure you that we will
press the North to take substantive steps to comply fully with its
obligations; we will push to resolve questions about suspect
underground construction; and we will persist in our efforts to
eliminate the destabilizing nature of the North's missile program,
including testing, deployment and exports of missiles.
As we have explained on many occasions, however, this strategy will be
best served if we are honoring our own commitments undertaken in the
Agreed Framework, and specifically the provision of heavy fuel oil to
the DPRK through KEDO.
Mr. Chairman, this Administration has worked closely with Congress as
a partner in our broader policy toward the North and will continue to
do so. Together, along with our allies and friends, we can make a
difference and do what we can to ensure that Koreans in both the North
and South can live on a peaceful and secure Peninsula.
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