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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 51, October 2000

US-North Korea Discussions Intensify

The period under review saw unprecedentedly high-level meetings between US and North Korean officials to discuss Pyongyang' nuclear and missile programmes and related matters of traditionally bitter contention. In New York from September 27-October 2, Ambassador Charles Kartman and Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye-gwan held their latest round of discussions, following which a visit to Washington by Cho Myong-nok, the Vice Chairman of the national Defence Commission, was announced for October 9-12.

On October 6, the two sides issued a Joint Statement on International Terrorism, clearing the way for the removal of North Korea from a list of effectively blacklisted, formerly '', states deemed to be actively supportive of terrorist acts:

"The United States and the Democratic People' Republic of Korea held a series of [Kartman/Gye-gwan] talks in March, August, and October 2000... At the talks, the two sides agreed that international terrorism poses an unacceptable threat to global security and peace, and that terrorism should be opposed in all its forms, including terrorist acts involving chemical, biological, or nuclear devices or materials. ... As a demonstration of their cooperation in the fight against international terrorism, the US and the DPRK intend to exchange information regarding international terrorism and to resolve outstanding issues in this regard between the two sides. Taking account of the DPRK' opposition to international terrorism, the US noted that, as the DPRK satisfactorily addresses the requirements of US law, the US will work in cooperation with the DPRK with the aim of removing the DPRK from the list of state sponsors of terrorism."

Defence Commission Vice Chairman Cho Myong-nok became the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit Washington. An October 12 Joint Communiqué noted:

"The two sides agreed that resolution of the missile issue would make an essential contribution to a fundamentally improved relationship between them and to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. To further the efforts to build new relations, the DPRK informed the US that it will not launch long-range missiles of any kind while talks on the missile issue continue.

Pledging to redouble their commitment and their efforts to fulfil their respective obligations in their entirety under the [1994] Agreed Framework, the US and DPRK strongly affirmed its importance in achieving peace and security in a nuclear-weapons-free Korean Peninsular. To this end, the two sides agreed on the desirability of greater transparency in carrying out their respective obligations under the Agreed Framework. In this regard, they noted the value of the access which removed US concerns about the underground site at Kumchang-ri. ...

As set forth in their Joint Statement of October 6, 2000, the two sides agreed to support and encourage international efforts against terrorism. ..."

Note: on October 23-24, US Secretary of State Albright held discussions in Pyongyang with President Kim Jong-il, exploring options for a possible visit by President Clinton. At an October 24 press conference, Albright raised hopes that North Korea was now prepared to terminate its ballistic missile development programme: "Chairman Kim and I discussed the full range of our concerns on missiles, including both the DPRK' indigenous missile programmes and exports. We also discussed Chairman Kim' idea of exchanging DPRK restraint in missiles for launches of DPRK satellites. Chairman Kim was quite clear in explaining his understanding of US concerns. Indeed, during the October 23 mass performance we attended together, an image of the DPRK Taepo Dong missile appeared. He immediately turned to me and quipped that this was the first satellite launch and would be the last..." President Kim was referring to the August 1998 test-firing of a ballistic missile over Japanese territory, ostensibly to place a satellite in orbit. North Korea has since announced a moratorium on such flights. The North Korean leader first made his apparent offer to terminate his government' long-range rocket programme in return for international assistance in satellite launches during a visit by President Putin in July. See next issue for details and analysis of Secretary Albright' visit.

Reports: US, North Korea resume talks, Associated Press, September 27; US, North Korea wind up talks, Associated Press, October 3; US, N. Korea end five days of '' talks, Reuters, October 3; Joint US-DPRK Statement on International Terrorism, US State Department, October 6; US, N. Korea to cooperate on '', Reuters, October 6; North Korean envoy starts Washington meetings, Reuters, October 10; N. Korea, US hold detailed talks during Jo visit, Reuters, October 11; US-DPRK Joint Communiqué, US State Department text, October 12; US State Department transcript of press conference by Secretary Albright, Pyongyang, October 24.

© 2000 The Acronym Institute.