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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 19, October 1997

Work Continues on North Korea Nuclear Accord as Missile Allegations Persist

Work on constructing two nuclear reactors for North Korea - a project first agreed in an October 1994 US-North Korea Framework Agreement - was briefly halted on 1 October when North Korea postponed a visit by South Korean officials to the site of the planned new reactor - the Kumho 'special zone'. The officials were part of a 24-member inspection team from the international consortium in charge of the project, the Korean Peninsular Energy Development Corporation (KEDO). The reason given for the postponement was the alleged 'defiling' of North Korean newspapers by South Korean workers on site. However, on 6 October, permission was given for the visit to proceed. According to senior South Korean official Chang Sun-sip: "Work resumed, while the dispute has not been resolved."

On 19 September, the European Union (EU) became a member of KEDO's Executive Board. A statement issued by the European Commission said the move was intended to pave "the way for a more important European political and economic role in East Asia." The statement continued:

"Under the Accession Agreement, the EU, through the Euratom Treaty, will work towards KEDO's objectives as a full member of the Executive Board, on the same terms as the original members (South Korea, Japan and the USA). The EU envisages a financial contribution of ECU 75 million over five years, broadly comparable to the USA's contribution."

The US warmly welcomed the move. A State Department press release of 19 September stated:

"The EU's accession to KEDO was a key priority under the US-EU New Transatlantic Agenda and is an important example of the US partnership with the EU in responding to global security threats. ... the EU has pledged to provide 15 million ECU annually to KEDO for the next five years. ..."

Although the KEDO deal is allaying concerns about North Korea's capacity to produce weapons-grade fissile materials, concerns about the State's missile capability and exports control continue to abound. On 22 September, the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri reported that North Korea had installed the No Dong-1 (or Rodong-1) intermediate-range ballistic missile, reportedly capable of reaching Japan, on mobile launchers. The paper said the installation was intended as a prelude to test-firing. It is thought the missile was last tested in 1995. Japan's Vice Foreign Minister Shunji Yanai reacted warily (22 September) to the reports:

"North Korea's attempts, if there are any, to extend the range of [its] ballistic missiles would bring about anxiety not only in Japan but also in many countries..."

On 26 September, Admiral Joseph Prueher, Commander of US forces in Asia and the Pacific, suggested to reporters that the speculation may be premature: "We have not seen the deployment of the No Dong missile. ... If they were deployed, they would be a potential threat to our forces... We stay concerned about it and we watch it really closely, but it's not something that we have seen."

On 19 September, Robert Einhorn, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Politico-Military Affairs, told a meeting in Washington about the scale of revenue North Korea receives from missile exports: "We have estimated that, over the last decade or so, they have earned close to $1 billion dollar-equivalent for their missile exports."

Reports: EU joins North Korea Security body, European Commission statement, 19 September; European Union joins KEDO, State Department statement, 19 September; Report - N. Korea to test new missile, Associated Press, 22 September; N. Korea earned 1 billion dollars in missile exports, Kyodo, 22 September; Japan concerned over N. Korea missile program, Kyodo, 23 September; US watching North Korea missile moves, Reuters, 26 September; Inspection of N. Korea nuclear reactors cancelled over dispute, Associated Press, 5 October; Construction resumes on Korea nukes, Associated Press, 6 October.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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