Nuclear Weapons - 2004 Developments
On Thursday, January 8, 2004, five members of an American delegation visited the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center.
In January 2004 DPRK Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Gye Gwan stated, "The most reasonable way [to proceed] is to have simultaneous action steps. ... The U.S. says it will give us a security assurance if we dismantle our nuclear program. We say it differently. The first step would be a freeze of the present [DPRK] nuclear activities. You will see how important a freeze will be when you are at Yongbyon. This means there will be no manufacturing, no testing, and no transferring of nuclear weapons." [Hecker testimony]
During talks in February 2004, the US side outlined three "coordinated steps" the US would take. The first step is a freeze of the North's weapons program. In return, South Korean and the North Korean propose the North be provided "compensation" -- China, South Korea and Russia -- have offered shipments of heavy fuel oil. The US proposed taking "corresponding measures" -- multilateral security guarantees -- but no aid. "In the first stage, the United States was ready to discuss multilateral security assurances if North Korea made such a commitment. In the second stage, as verifiable benchmarks were achieved, the United States was prepared to offer technical and financial assistance to dismantle North Korea's nuclear programs and discuss ways that the country's energy needs could be met. In the final stage, once the program was nearly dismantled, the United States was prepared to enter into comprehensive negotiations leading to diplomatic relations and a permanent mechanism to replace the armistice ending the Korean War." ["Talks On North Korean Nuclear Program To Resume In Beijing" By Glenn Kessler Washington Post May 10, 2004 Pg. 22]
During the May 2004 interview with Selig Harrison, DPRK vice-foreign minister said that in Step One, the Kim North would freeze its plutonium program "in exchange for multilateral energy aid, an end to US economic sanctions and the removal of North Korea from the US list of terrorist states, which would open the way for World Bank and Asian Development Bank aid." Initially the freeze would only ban reprocessing and would not include the "operation of nuclear reactors for civil power generation" though this later element was negotiable. ["Inside North Korea: leaders open to ending nuclear crisis," Selig Harrison, Financial Times (London, England) May 4, 2004 Tuesday]
In a May 2004 interview with Selig Harrison, DPRK vice-foreign minister Kim Gye-gwan said "... the bomb dropped by the US at Nagasaki was made after four months of preparation. It's now a half century later, and we have more up-to-date technologies, so you can come to your own conclusions on this matter." DPRK foreign minister Paik Nam-soon said: "I don't think mere devices and the possession of nuclear material constitute a genuine deterrent. When we say deterrent, we mean a capability that can deter an attack." Adn Gen. Ri Chan-bok, spokesman for the Korean People's Army said "When we can't develop without a test, we'll test. ... Even without a test, we can develop, complete and manufacture nuclear weapons." ["Inside North Korea: leaders open to ending nuclear crisis," Selig Harrison, Financial Times (London, England) May 4, 2004 Tuesday]
UN envoy Maurice Strong arrived in Beijing 22 May 2004, after a visit to the North Korean capital, where he met with officials, including military commanders and the head of North Korea's legislature. Mr. Strong, who made the trip on behalf of the UN secretary general said the officials repeated warnings that they have been making for the past year. Mr. Strong said officials in Pyongyang told him they are developing a nuclear deterrent force to prevent the United States from attacking North Korea, as it did Iraq. The UN envoy said the North Koreans continue to believe that threat is real. "They look at their nuclear weapons as the best guarantee they have against a threat that they perceive from the United States.... They are going to continue, they say, to develop that capability, until there is a security guarantee that they can rely on.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, after a summit meeting with Mr. Kim in Pyongyang 22 May 2004, said the North Korean leader made some conciliatory remarks about resolving the crisis through diplomacy. Five family members of Japanese abducted by North Korea during the Cold War returned to be reunited with their parents in Japan. They boarded a Japanese government plane , following a 90-minute summit between Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. The Japanese government announced it would provide cash-strapped North Korea with 250-thousand tons of food and ten-million dollars in medical supplies.
On 23 June 2004 the US delegates at the multilateral talks in Beijing presented a "practical series of steps to achieve the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear program," White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said. The negotiators offered the proposal to North Korea as the third round of multilateral negotiations began. Under the proposal, the United States and the other four nations participating in the talks (South Korea, China, Japan and Russia) would give North Korea energy aid and a security guarantee in exchange for ending its nuclear program, said the spokesman. "First you would have to have North Korea commit to the dismantlement of its nuclear program," McClellan said, "Then the nations could begin to agree to a detailed implementation plan of -- disablement, dismantlement, [and] elimination of all nuclear-related facilities and materials, centrifuge and other nuclear parts, fissile material and fuel rods, and a long-term monitoring program." If North Korea agrees to the proposal, the US will take steps to ease North Korea's political and economic isolation. However, any lasting assistance to North Korea would be contingent on the verifiable dismantling of their nuclear program.
The US proposal would give North Korea three months to prepare for the eventual comprehensive dismantling of its nuclear programs. During that time, Washington would allow other nations to supply the North with much needed fuel oil. The US is also prepared to give diplomatic rewards, such as starting the process of lifting sanctions against Pyongyang. North Korea remains on a list of nations that the United States says support terrorism. In exchange for its concessions, the United States wants North Korea to provide a full listing of its nuclear activities, allow monitoring of its atomic operations, and disable dangerous materials over the three-month period before actual dismantling begins. The United States itself would not provide any benefits short of an agreement for the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of the program, or CVID. The US showed some tolerance towards North Korea by replacing the term CVID, which North Korea objects to, with a new term: "comprehensive denuclearization." But the new terms reflects the CVID requirements. The term "Nuclear Freeze" is favored by North Korea, which is not prepared for complete dismatlement in the initial phase.
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