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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 23, February 1998

US Seeks to Reassure Congress over North Korea Agreement

Early February saw speculation that South Korea was struggling to meet its financial commitments to the Korean Peninsular Energy Development Corporation (KEDO) - the international consortium responsible for replacing North Korea's nuclear facilities under the terms of the October 1994 US-North Korea Framework Agreement. A 5 February New York Times report claimed that senior South Korean officials were visiting KEDO Headquarters in New York in an attempt to negotiate a lowering of South Korea's contribution to the $5.1 billion project.

The suggestion was speedily and emphatically rejected by KEDO and the US. KEDO spokesperson Jason Shaplen insisted (5 February) that cost-sharing "is an ongoing process and will continue to be an ongoing process." State Department spokesperson James Rubin told reporters (5 February): "The Korean government and President-elect Kim Dae-Jung have consistently stated that the Republic of Korea will meet its obligations to KEDO...including funding for the light-water reactor project...

" On 10 February, Secretary of State Albright told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that "the South Koreans are going to be able to fulfill their responsibilities."

In a 9 February memorandum (Presidential Determination No. 98-14), President Clinton certified to Congress that the project was progressing smoothly. The President's emphasis was on North Korea's satisfactory discharging of its responsibilities. In particular:

"North Korea is cooperating fully in the canning and safe storage of all spent fuel from its graphite-moderated nuclear reactors and...such canning is scheduled to be completed by 1 April 1998."

The same day, it was announced that US, Japanese and South Korean officials would meet in mid-March to discuss cost-sharing and related matters.

Reports: Paper - Korea nuclear plan imperiled, Associated Press, 5 February; US, Japan, S. Korea to discuss nukes, Associated Press, 9 February; Text - President Clinton certifies N. Korean cooperation on several issues, United States Information Service, 10 February; Asia reassures US on nuke plants, Associated Press, 11 February.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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