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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Testimony of Robert L. Gallucci,
Dean of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University,
Before the Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee,
14 July 1998

Mr. Chairman,

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee on the subject of KEDO and the Agreed Framework with North Korea.

I understand the issue before the Congress, in general terms, to be whether or not to permit the Administration to provide additional funds to KEDO for the purchase of heavy fuel oil, that would then be supplied to North Korea, and thus help meet an immediate need as provided by the terms of the Agreed Framework. Put even more broadly, the issue is whether or not the financial burden of providing heavy fuel oil through KEDO, for years into the future, in order to preserve the Agreed Framework, is worth it to the United States. Is it in the national interest, or even the national security interest, to spend perhaps twice as much for this purpose as Secretary Christopher estimated, more than three years ago, when he thought the bill for the United States would be between twenty and thirty million dollars per year until the first light water reactor came on line in North Korea?

That was a controversial question three years ago when the ink on the Agreed Framework had not yet dried, but with three years of experience behind us, one might expect that the calculation would become a bit easier. For most it has, but for some it has not.

Those who see the clear benefits of the Agreed Framework observe that the gas graphite reactors and associated facilities have indeed been frozen: the 5MW reactor that produced about a bomb's worth of plutonium each year of its operation has not been refueled; the estimated six bombs' worth of plutonium contained in spent fuel has been re-canned by American technicians for safe storage and eventual shipment out of the country -- rather than separated for weapons fabrication as we believe had been planned; the plutonium separation facility has been frozen; the two larger gas graphite reactors under construction that we estimated when completed could have produced enough plutonium each year for 25-30 nuclear weapons have both been frozen; IAEA inspectors have been on the ground verifying these provisions of the Framework.

This was the biggest, most immediate benefit to the United States, its allies South Korea and Japan, and the international community. Over time, if the Framework is sustained, the gas graphite reactors and associated facilities will be dismantled, the spent fuel shipped out, and the North will accept whatever inspections the IAEA determines are necessary to come into full compliance with its safeguards obligations --including the resolution of the dispute over its initial plutonium declaration.

The North can be expected to do all this in the future for the same reason that it has cooperated over the last three years: its short term gain of 500,000 tons of heavy fuel oil each year, and in the long term, the delivery two light-water moderated power reactors.

The Framework has a number of other important provisions aimed at objectives that have not yet been realized, such as establishing a dialogue between North and South, and resolving other issues of concern to us that would in turn permit normalizing relations between the North and the United States. The North's failure to respond adequately to President Kim Dae Jung's initiatives, together with intermittent military provocations, leave North Korea far short of the position envisioned in the language of the Framework. Similarly, our concerns about the North's development and export of extended-range ballistic missiles, and forward deployment of its army along the DMZ, while not explicitly mentioned in the Framework, remain important obstacles to the improved relations between the U.S. and the North which are part of the Framework.

That said, the principal purpose of the Agreed Framework, as seen from the American perspective, was to stop a very large nuclear weapons development program from succeeding in a country run by a rogue regime, and eventually to bring that country, which had violated its safeguards undertakings and announced its intention to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, back into the safeguards and treaty regimes. That is the road we are now on. The Framework, a diplomatic solution, costs about $5 billion for the light water reactors, virtually all of which will be managed by South Korea and Japan, and about another $65 million per year for perhaps ten years, some significant portion of which the Administration argues that the U.S. should manage.

However one judges the fairness of the burden-sharing in this arrangement, no one should doubt that the size of the burden for the United States would have increased astronomically if a military solution had been forced upon us by a failure to find a diplomatic one. Even the cost to the U.S. of those relatively small land, air, and sea movements necessary to improve our defensive posture in the event of a vote in the Security Council to impose sanctions, would dwarf the funding levels now discussed for heavy fuel oil. Should we have had to resort to force to deal with the emerging nuclear threat, the financial cost, while far greater still, would have been slight compared to the cost in American and South Korean lives.

For some of those who see the virtue of a diplomatic solution, particularly when compared to the alternatives, the Framework is criticized for making the provision of nuclear reactors to North Korea part of that solution. Why not, they ask, provide the same amount of energy with conventionally fueled power stations. The answer is that in both Berlin and Geneva, at the technical and the political levels, the North was pitched on the virtues of conventional plants --facilities that could be provided much earlier and would be much better suited to the North's electrical grid; however, the North insisted on having modern light-water moderated nuclear reactors if they were going to give up their gas graphite nuclear reactors.

The Agreed Framework does not put to rest all our concerns about North Korea nor could it. It addresses a group of facilities that we were confident would have produced a significant amount of fissile material by now if not stopped. Is that worth twice what Secretary Christopher estimated it might cost, perhaps $50 million each year? If it is not worth that much to manage this nuclear threat with diplomacy, how much would it cost to remove it or defend against it with military means? Would we be willing to remove the risk of nuclear war between India and Pakistan --where no American troops are deployed --for that amount of money?

Mr. Chairman, an increase in the amount of U.S. funding for KEDO is essential now and for the longer term, even if the Administration is successful in its efforts to draw greater support from other countries. Sustaining KEDO sustains the Agreed Framework, and it is clearly in the national security interest to do so.

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