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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 41, November 1999

Congress Reacts Angrily On US-North Korean Relations

Many members of the Republican-controlled Congress have reacted with anger to the improvement in US-North Korean relations of recent weeks. On September 17 the US announced a partial lifting of sanctions, following an assurance from North Korea that it did not intend to carry out further ballistic missile tests. On October 12, former US Defense Secretary William Perry announced his review of US policy towards North Korea. Conciliatory in tone, the review expressed confidence that diplomatic engagement was both the surest route towards encouraging North Korea to adopt a permanently restrained missile-development and missile-export policy, and the only secure political context within which to achieve full implementation of the 1994 US-North Korea Agreed Framework specifying the suspended operation and subsequent replacement of North Korea's heavy-water nuclear reactors, capable of making weapons-grade missile materials.

On November 3, a House of Representatives Advisory Panel, consisting of nine Republicans appointed by Speaker Dennis Hastert, released a report characterising the conclusions of the Perry review as deeply flawed, doomed and politically objectionable. The full study is available at http://www.house.gov/international_relations/nkag/report.htm. In the summary of Representative Spence, chair of the Armed Services Committee: "The Administration policy of appeasement and bribery with North Korea has not worked." The panel express particular disapproval of US aid to North Korea, which has amounted to $645 million since the Agreed Framework was signed in Geneva: "This aid frees other resources for North Korea to divert to its weapons of mass destruction and conventional military programs." Using the report as the basis of hearings, the House aims to draw up legislation on the issue by April 2000.

North Korea has expressed frustration at the slow progress in implementing the Agreed Framework. On October 20, a Foreign Ministry statement complained: "Now that the DPRK has done everything possible so far, now is the time for the US side to show a good faith by taking a prompt measure to sincerely implement what was agreed. ... The US side has paid only a lip service to the construction of the [new, light-water] reactors and delivered on the basis of serious fluctuation heavy oil which it promised to offer us as a substitute energy...thus creating a great confusion and difficulty in our economic performance... If the construction of the reactor is further delayed...the US side will be held wholly responsible for that and it will have to meet undesirable consequences... The US is still pursuing its hostile policy toward the DPRK." On November 15, the two sides met in Berlin. According to the head of the North Korean delegation, Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan: "The prospects of the discussions are not so promising."

In November, Japan announced it was lifting a ban on commercial charter flights to North Korea which was imposed after a North Korean ballistic missile was fired on August 31, 1998, passing over Japanese territory.

Reports: Pyongyang slams US stance on Framework Agreement, Reuters, October 20; Japan lifts ban on Charter flights to N. Korea, Reuters, 2 November; Text - Gilman Nov. 3 news release on North Korea report, United States Information Service, November 3; House Republicans blast US policy on North Korea, Reuters, November 3; North Korean not optimistic about US talks, Reuters, November 15.

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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