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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 17, July - August 1997

KEDO-North Korea Agreement:
Satisfactory Progress Reported, More Awaited

On 8 July, Charles Kartman, Acting Assistant Secretary in the US Department of State's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, gave an account of the current situation regarding the planned replacement of North Korea's nuclear facilities by the Korean Energy Development Organization (KEDO). Addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Kartman stated:

"The freeze on North Korea's nuclear program has been in place since November 1994 and has been continuously monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)... Thanks to the hard work of a team of experts led by the Department of Energy, over 85% of North Korea's nuclear fuel-rods have been placed into storage, under IAEA safeguards. Barring unforeseen delays, we anticipate that the project will be completed later this year.

...KEDO is fulfilling its commitment to finance and supply...two light-water reactors (LWR) and heavy fuel oil, until the first reactor is completed. ... KEDO has successfully negotiated...numerous agreements and protocols which govern the terms and conditions for the reactor project. KEDO has also sent seven site-survey teams of technical experts (primarily from South Korea)... This progress sets the stage for KEDO to break ground on the first reactor in North Korea, likely early next month. [See Documents and Sources.]

KEDO has grown into an important arm of our coordinated diplomacy with the ROK [South Korea] and Japan, and is developing into a truly international organization. The European Union (EU) is scheduled to join KEDO later this month, and will become the fourth member of KEDO's Executive Board. The EU's commitment to contribute approximately $20 million annually to KEDO for the next five years will help put KEDO finances on a more solid foundation.

Nonetheless, KEDO continues to run a serious deficit in its oil funding account. Although the ROK and Japan will shoulder the bulk of the responsibility for the multi-billion dollar LWR project, continued US funding for KEDO activities, primarily heavy fuel oil deliveries, remains indispensable to the organization's ability to fulfil its commitments and keep the Agreed Framework on track. ..."

On 2 August, a senior official of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) told reporters that the US had asked ASEAN for a contribution of $30 million to KEDO. According to the unnamed official, speaking in Manila, the request was for that sum over 5 years, with an initial payment of $10 million followed by four $5 million instalments. The request was apparently made by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at a meeting of ASEAN Foreign Ministers in the Philippines on 28 July. It was not clear from the official's remarks, as reported, what the response of ASEAN was likely to be.

On 4 August, KEDO announced that the first stage of construction - land-clearance at the chosen site, near the coastal town of Sinpo, would begin imminently. Phone lines between the site and KEDO were established by South Korea's main telephone company Korea Telephone, on 4 August.

Reports: Text - Kartman 7/8 remarks on US policy toward North Korea, United States Information Agency, 8 July; US asks ASEAN to give $30 million to KEDO, Kyodo News International News Wire, 2 August; KEDO due to clear land, Reuters World Service, 4 August.

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