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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 18, September 1997

North Korea Leaves Missile Discussions;
Nuclear Deal Remains On Course

On 27 August, talks between the US and North Korea on missile proliferation and export policy were broken off by North Korea in protest at the defection of two of its diplomats to the US. The move was regretted, rather than denounced, by White House spokesperson Barry Toiv:

"While this decision by the North was not unexpected, it is nonetheless disappointing... We see no linkage between the defection[s] and the missile talks and we believe it is in North Korea's interest to remain engaged in the talks..."

The setback followed encouraging progress in the process of replacing North Korea's suspended nuclear facilities. On 19 August, a 'groundbreaking' ceremony (see last issue) was held at Kumho, in North Korea's South Hamgyong province - the proposed site of new, light-water reactors which are to be provided by a consortium, the Korean Energy Development Organization (KEDO), led by the US, Japan and South Korea. The ceremony, complete with fireworks and, according to KEDO officials, a "symbolic blast", was welcomed by the Executive Director of KEDO, US official Stephen Bosworth: "This groundbreaking ceremony...marks the fulfilment of a promise - a promise made over two years ago by the Republic of Korea, Japan and the United States." KEDO's senior South Korean official, Chang Sun-sup, enthused:

"...the light-water reactor project was initiated to help ensure the peace and stability of a denuclearized and war-free Korean peninsular...

[This ceremony] is the promising product of a concerted international effort to realize these ideals on the Korean peninsular."

Reports: Ground broken in N. Korea nuclear project, Reuters, 19 August; White House calls N. Korea move disappointing, Reuters, 27 August; 'Insulted' North Korea skips missile talks, Reuters, 27 August; US urges N. Korea to return to missile talks, Reuters, 28 August.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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