Tuesday, August 09, 2005

❄ North Korea [I]

A fourth session of six-nation talks on North Korea began on 25 July 2005 in Beijing, thirteen months after the last session. Participants are North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia, China, and the United States. [The talks continued for 13 days, and then recessed, with the declared intention to resume in three weeks.] One prime sticking-point was North Korea’s insistence that it not be barred from operating a light-water reactor, and a US demand that no nuclear power program be permitted. The New York Times, 9 August 2005, reported that

“the chief North Korean negotiator, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, said the United States had been unwilling to compromise on North Korea’s desire for a peaceful nuclear program and needed to acknowledge its right as a sovereign nation for such a program. . . ”

US negotiator Christopher Hill

“said that the talks began with great promise and that an agreement began to crystallize after four or five days of meetings. He said this optimism prompted the Chinese to begin assembling draft texts based on comments from each delegation. But as last weekend neared, Mr. Hill said North Korea said it wanted a reference to light-water reactors included in the draft statement.

“ ‘That was something that the other delegations wouldn’t go along with,’ he said. ‘These light-water reactors are simply not on the table.’ ”

The Question

How could the six-party talks be brought to an agreed conclusion?


US fears that a North Korean civil nuclear reactors could be used to create plutonium for a weapons program could be met by putting the program under IAEA safeguards. This is the standard method, called for in the Nonproliferation Treaty. North Korea has said it envisages recommitting to the NPT if an acceptable deal is negotiated. The GW Bush administration scoffed at IAEA inspection in Iraq prior to the 2003-.. Iraq War, but we now know that Hans Blix and the IAEA got it right.

The White House’s penchant for bilateral rather than international assurances suggests something like the ‘portal monitoring’ provisions of the INF Treaty. Soviet families moved to Utah as Soviet specialists kept track of a cruise missile factory, literally standing at the gates to implement an inspection regime; and US personnel did similar duty in the Soviet Union.

Is it necessary that North Korea be open, with visitors, especially South Koreans, coming and going freely, to achieve adequate assurance against a clandestine nuclear program?

The Political Design Problem

Is there a way to achieve ‘adequate security’ while meeting the North Korean wish to maintain a civil nuclear program? Alternatively, is there a way to meet North Korea’s requirement that its sovereignty be respected which does not include its being free to undertake civil nuclear activities?


[1] Jim Yardley, “The U.S. and North Korea Blame Each Other for Stalemate in Talks,” The New York Times, 9 August 2005. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/08/international/asia/08korea.html?pagewanted=all

[2] Congressional Research Service. Sharon A. Squassoni. “North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons: How Soon an Arsenal?,” updated May 12, 2005. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/RS21391.pdf

[3] Congressional Research Service. Larry A. Niksch. “North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program,” updated May 6, 2005. http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/IB91141.pdf

[Political Design 2005.08.09 Post A03. http://www.learnworld.com/blog/design.html]


Post a Comment

<< Home