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News Review Special Edition

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International Developments, November 15, 2002 - February 1, 2003

North Korea Turns Its Back on NPT in Spiralling Diplomatic Confrontation

Editor's Note

The following summary tracks the major developments in the North Korea crisis from late-November to early-February. For extensive coverage and documentation relating to subsequent developments - notably the referral of the issue to the UN Security Council by the IAEA Board of Governors on February 12 - please visit our website, http://www.acronym.org.uk.


The period under review saw a vertiginous rise in tension between North Korea and the international community over Pyongyang's clear determination to operate unsafeguarded nuclear facilities, presumably to produce weapons-grade fissile material. As detailed below, following a flurry of disturbing developments, on January 10 North Korea announced its intention to withdraw with immediate effect from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), citing a grave and gathering threat to its security from the United States.

For is part, Washington - which has raised the possibility that North Korea may already possess material for a small number of nuclear warheads - has reacted to the crisis with a steadfast refusal to engage in direct negotiations with Pyongyang, or provide any concessions to the Kim Jong-il regime. In particular, the Bush administration refuses to accede to Pyongyang's principal demand - a formal guarantee, in the form of a non-aggression pact, that it will not be attacked. US officials insist they have no plans to attack, and that it is prepared to talk, rather than bargain, with North Korea; specifically, to discuss the steps the country needs to take to return to full compliance with its NPT and related obligations.

Washington's stance is clearly causing difficulties - seen, for example, in the heated debate over the possible role of the United Nations Security Council in resolving the dispute - with its closest allies in the region, Japan and South Korea, as well as Russia and China. Moscow and Seoul have been leading concerted, and thus far fruitless, efforts to find a diplomatic formula capable of meeting North Korea's security concerns while enabling a verified reversal of its decision to abandon the NPT.

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November 14: as reported in the last issue, the Executive Board of the Korean Peninsular Energy Development Organisation (KEDO) meets in New York and decides to suspended shipments of heavy oil fuel to North Korea in protest at Pyongyang's violation of the October 1994 US-North Korean Agreed Framework (AF). Under the Framework, North Korea suspended operation of its existing, graphite-moderated nuclear reactor site at Yongbyon - capable of producing plutonium - in return for the construction by KEDO of proliferation-resistant light-water reactors (LWR), and the interim provision of heavy fuel. In early-October, the current crisis was triggered when US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, visiting Pyongyang, apparently drew an admission from North Korean officials that the country was operating a clandestine uranium-enrichment programme, in blatant disregard of both the framework and the NPT. Although details of the admission remained sketchy, the KEDO Board - consisting of US, Japanese, South Korean and European Union (EU) officials - decided to halt fuel shipments to force, at minimum, a clarification of the true situation.

November 19: the last oil shipment, dispatched before the November 14 KEDO meeting, reaches North Korea. Assistant Secretary of State Kelly tells reporters that the existing arrangement for providing fuel is currently inapplicable, and may never be resurrected: "The US view on the Agreed Framework is that the North Koreans said it was nullified, and we guess it's been nullified. But we are not in any rush to make decisions on all aspects of it..."

November 21: a North Korean Foreign Ministry statement provides the first official reaction to the oil-shipment suspension, describing the move as "a wanton violation of Article 1 of the Framework". "It is high time," the statement continues, "to decide upon who is to blame for the collapse of the Framework..." On November 22, North Korea reportedly bars access to officials intending to monitor the distribution and destination of the fuel aid. An unnamed source tells Reuters: "North Korea is taking this action as a countermeasure against what KEDO did..."

November 29: meeting in Vienna, the 35-member Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unanimously adopts a resolution insisting "that the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] urgently and constructively respond to letters from the IAEA Secretariat requesting clarification of the reported uranium enrichment programme", recognising that "such a programme, or any other covert activities, would constitute a violation of the DPRK's international commitments, including the DPRK's safeguards agreement with the Agency pursuant to the NPT". The resolution further "deplores the DPRK's repeated public statements that it is entitled to possess nuclear weapons, which runs contrary to its obligations under the NPT". Deputy US State Department spokesperson Philip Reeker praises the resolution for sending "a clear, strong and unmistakable signal that the international community will not tolerate a North Korean nuclear weapons program".

December 1: a joint Russia-China statement, issued by Presidents Jiang Zemin and Vladimir Putin on December 1, stresses "the extreme importance of normalising relations between the United States and the DPRK on the basis of continued observation of earlier-reached agreements, including the Framework Agreement of 1994, and of constructively equal dialogue in the interests of settling mutual concerns".

December 2: dismissing the November 29 resolution, North Korean Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun claims in a letter to IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei the Agency's Board of Governors were clearly "still acting under the manipulation of the United States". The letter states: "This crisis is a product of the US' hostile policy towards the DPRK from A to Z... This [organisation, the IAEA] can never be considered an impartial one, and it [this resolution] will only lay one more serious obstacle in the way of solving the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsular".

December 12: a North Korean Foreign Ministry statement announces a decision "to lift the measure of the nuclear freeze, taken on the premise that 500,000 tons of heavy oil would be annually supplied to the DPRK under the DPRK-US Agreed Framework, and immediately resume the operation and construction of nuclear facilities to generate electricity." The statement continues: "The US is misleading public opinion, claiming that the US took this measure because the DPRK 'admitted its nuclear development program', thus being the first to violate the AF. But this is a foolish attempt. The US [has] already listed the DPRK as part of an 'axis of evil' and a target of pre-emptive nuclear attack. It, therefore, cannot flee from the responsibility for its flagrant violation of the spirit and articles of the AF. ... Whether the DPRK refreezes its nuclear facilities or not entirely depends on the attitude of the US." White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer declares that the "announcement flies in the face of the international consensus that the North Korean regime must fulfil all its commitments, and, in particular, dismantle its nuclear weapons programme." Fleischer is equally insistent that "we have no intention of invading North Korea" and that the US "will not enter into dialogue in response to threats or broken commitments". Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Yakovenko expresses "deep concern" and urges "the parties concerned to solve the existing problems through dialogue on the basis of the earlier-reached accords, including the 1994 Agreed Framework..." European Union concern is voiced on December 13 by Per Stig Moeller, Foreign Minister of Denmark, current holders of the EU Presidency: "We are deeply concerned about the...statement that Pyongyang plans to resume nuclear activities. We urge North Korea to see what the impact of their actions may be... The future of relations with the EU depends on North Korea meeting its commitments." The same day, Emma Udwin, a spokesperson for EU External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten, argues that, in the Union's view, "future shipments" of fuel oil by KEDO "will depend on North Korea's concrete and credible actions to dismantle completely its highly-enriched uranium programmes..." Former US President Jimmy Carter, the 2002 Nobel Peace Laureate, tells reporters in Berlin (December12) that North Korea's drastic actions were undoubtedly related to dissatisfaction over the implementation of the Agreed Framework: "They cancelled their nuclear programme [in 1994] on condition that we supply them with 500,000 tons of heating oil every year [which we have now suspended] and build two modern nuclear reactors, which we haven't [yet] done..."

IAEA Director General ElBaradei receives a letter (December 12) from Ri Je Son, Director General of North Korea's General Department of Atomic Energy, "requesting" the Agency "to take necessary measures to remove the seals and monitoring cameras from all our nuclear facilities at the earliest possible date". On December 14, a second letter from Ri Je Son cautions: "If the IAEA fails to expeditiously take measures to meet our request, we will take necessary measures unilaterally". ElBaradei (December 12) pleads with Pyongyang to reconsider, noting that he is not in a position to help North Korea violate its commitments: "Any such action would not be in compliance with the requirements of the IAEA-DPRK Safeguards Agreement."

December 15: in a speech in Rotterdam, former US President Bill Clinton reveals that during the North Korean nuclear crisis of 1993/94, "we actually drew up plans to attack North Korea and to destroy their reactors, and we told them we would attack unless they ended their nuclear programme." Clinton adds: "You do not want North Korea making bombs and selling them to the highest bidder because they cannot feed themselves through the winter..."

December 21: North Korea carries out its threat to unilaterally start disabling and removing IAEA equipment at Yongbyon. An Agency press release expressed "deep regret" at the "DPRK's actions...to cut most of the seals and impede the functioning of surveillance equipment installed at the 5MW(e) reactor".

December 22: North Korea removes seals from the reactor's spent fuel pool, containing some 8,000 radioactive fuel rods. The IAEA Director General issues a statement stressing the gravity of the development: "As the spent fuel contains a significant amount of plutonium, the DPRK's action is of great non-proliferation concern... It is deplorable that the DPRK has not responded to repeated requests I have made...for an urgently needed discussion on safeguards issues..." A Russian Foreign Ministry (December 23) "presumes that the DPRK, continuing to be a party to the NPT, will strictly fulfil its obligations under the Treaty and under the agreement with the IAEA on full-scope IAEA safeguards."

December 23: in an interview published in the Vremya Novostei newspaper, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgy Mamedov launches a stinging attack on US policy towards Pyongyang: "To blackmail North Korea with its difficult economic position is counterproductive, dangerous. Russia promotes dialogue, encourages the creation there of joint ventures, the construction of a railway between North and South. This is the right policy. To call someone part of an 'axis of evil,' try to intimidate him and then charge that after such intimidation incautious statements are made, as they were made by Pyongyang, seems to me incorrect. Here I disagree with my friend John Bolton, who said to my question in this regard whether he was pleased by what had happened: 'Yes, I am.' I told him: 'There you're wrong. This is very dangerous. You forgot the Korean war and the incidents in the demilitarized zone, where your own servicemen were killed.' People's memory is short, and so we have to concern ourselves with strategic stability." With regard to the 'axis of evil' stance more generally, Mamedov had even stronger words: "The phrase 'axis of evil' is extremely unsuccessful, even provocative. It has engendered many problems, frightening a number of countries. Russia surely can feel calm, never allowing anyone to blackmail itself under any circumstances. And all know this. But what about a little state which is being told that it is almost part of the biblical forces of evil that have to be fought until their full destruction. To use the words of the song, 'I know of no other country' where officially a law would be passed to change the leader of an independent state. One can hardly expect passivity from the countries included in the 'axis of evil.' Trying to do something, they, naturally, may violate some international agreements. But to accuse them of provoking the entire crisis is unfair. Responsibility should indeed be borne by those who are unfolding the campaign of intimidation and by those who because of this consider themselves entitled to violate international agreements. We do not recognize such a right and we have issued many statements."

December 24: the IAEA declares that "the DPRK has unilaterally continued the process of disrupting IAEA safeguard measures at its nuclear facilities. On 23-24 December, the DPRK cut most of the seals and impeded the functioning of surveillance equipment installed at both the fuel rod fabrication and the reprocessing facility" at Yongbyon.

December 27: North Korea orders IAEA nuclear monitors to leave the country. A letter from Atomic Energy Department Director General Ri Je Son informs the Agency: "Since there is no reason for those inspectors to remain in the DPRK any longer, the DPRK government has decided to order them out of the country. ... [T]he DPRK will [now] complete the suspended construction of its nuclear powerplants and operate the radiochemical laboratory as part of its preparations for safely storing a large of spent fuel rods which would be turned out during the operation of those plants." ElBaradei complains: "Together with the loss of cameras and seals, the departure of inspectors would practically bring to an end our ability to monitor [the] DPRK's nuclear programme or assess its nature. This is one further step away from diffusing the crisis." White House spokesperson Scott McClellan describes the demand as "yet another violation of its IAEA safeguards agreement". McClellan adds: "We will continue our consultations with friends and allies in light of these latest moves by the North Korean regime. But let me make it clear that we will not negotiate in response to threats or broken commitments."

December 28: the IAEA reluctantly agrees to pull its inspectors out of North Korea on December 31. An exasperated Dr. ElBaradei observes: "This is a country in defiance of its international obligations. It [the expulsion of inspectors] sets a dangerous precedent fore the integrity of the non-proliferation regime."

The US announces a policy of 'tailored containment' against North Korea, balancing the prospect of aid and assistance, following any reversal of course by Pyongyang, with diplomatic and economic pressure, possibly backed by military interdiction of missiles being exported from North Korea.

January 3: North Korea's Ambassador to China, Choe Jin Su, again claims that "if the US legally assures us of security by concluding a non-aggression treaty, the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsular will be easily settled". Without such a pact, according to the ambassador, "we are compelled not to implement [the Agreed Framework]... The situation is getting worse and worse." US State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher again rebuffs the suggestion: "The issue is not non-aggression. The issue is whether North Korea will verifiably dismantle this nuclear enrichment program... We have no intention to sit down and bargain again, to pay for this horse again."

January 5: reports in South Korea suggest an imminent, major diplomatic campaign to resolve the crisis. According to Lim Chae-jung, head of the Transition Committee for President-elect Roh Moo-hyun, Seoul is "preparing for a compromise that will call for both US President George W. Bush and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to make concessions." Senior US Democratic Senator Carl Levin strongly backs South Korea's efforts, noting (January 5): "We don't know what the details of the plan are, but we should welcome South Korea being involved in this way, making suggestions... Instead [of doing just that], the administration, at least half the time, has said we're not going to have any discussions with North Korea, we're just simply not going to talk with North Korea. That is wrong..." According to media accounts, the Seoul compromise formula would include the provision of formal security guarantees from Washington.

Note: President-elect Roh Moo-hyun, a member of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) and an impassioned defender of President Kim Dae-jung's 'sunshine policy' towards Pyongyang, is due to take office on February 25, having won a hard-fought election on December 19 against Grand National Party (GNP) candidate Lee Hoi-chang, an outspoken critic of the current approach to the North. On December 16, for example, Mr. Lee stated: "We cannot entrust the country to a person who say we must keep on giving cash to North Korea while our cash comes back as nuclear programmes threatening the lives of our people..." For his part, Roh Moo-hyun observed on December 4: "I don't think Bush's hardline position will help North Korea completely abandon its nuclear program..."

January 6: the IAEA Board of Governors unanimously adopts a resolution calling on North Korea to come into full compliance with its obligations under the NPT and its safeguards agreement with the Agency. The resolution "deplores in the strongest terms the DPRK's unilateral acts to remove and impede the functioning of containment and surveillance equipment at its nuclear facilities and the nuclear material contained therein, including the expulsion of IAEA inspectors, which renders the Agency unable to verify, pursuant to its safeguards agreement with the DPRK, that there has been no diversion of nuclear material in the DPRK", and "calls upon the DPRK to co-operate urgently and fully with the Agency" by taking four steps: 1) "allowing the re-establishment of the required containment and surveillance measures at its nuclear facilities and the full implementation of all the required safeguards measures at all times including the return of IAEA inspectors"; 2) "complying with the Board's resolution of 29 November 2002 and the Secretariat's letters seeking clarification of its reported uranium enrichment programme, as well as by giving up any nuclear weapons programme expeditiously and in a verifiable manner" 3) "enabling the Agency to verify that all nuclear material in the DPRK is declared and is subject to safeguards"; and 4) "meeting immediately, as a first step, with IAEA officials".

In his opening statement to the meeting, Director General ElBaradei, accusing Pyongyang of "chronic non-compliance", put the issue in a broader context: "This is clearly an unsustainable situation and sets a dangerous precedent, namely that non-compliance with non-proliferation obligations can be tolerated. If we aim to maintain and preserve the integrity of the non-proliferation regime then it must be incumbent on all parties to that regime to fully meet their respective obligations, and all cases of non-compliance must be consistently addressed in a uniform fashion - namely zero tolerance. In my view, the next few weeks and months will be important to the future of the non-proliferation regime. We can succeed only if all the parties to the regime understand that the settlement of disputes cannot be linked to the threat of the use of nuclear weapons or other forms of nuclear brinkmanship." The senior US representative at the meeting, Ambassador Kenneth Brill, likewise stressed the international dimension to the crisis: "[W]hen the Director General or Secretariat or other concerned member states have tried to engage the DPRK in dialogue about these nuclear issues, the invariable response from the North Korean side has been that they are bilateral issues between the DPRK and the US, and of no concern to the rest of the international community. Today's Board resolution, like our resolution of November 29, shows that this is not the case. States throughout the world supported this resolution because all of us are concerned with the compliance of each with all the NPT requirements."

A Russian Foreign Ministry statement lays emphasis on the need for all parties concerned - and the two main parties in particular - to work to resolve the crisis: "The Russian delegation in its statement at the Board of Governors session reaffirmed the principled stand of Russia in support of the strict observance of the NPT by all its participants and of the fulfillment of the obligations under the Agreed Framework between the DPRK and the United States of 1994 and in favour of the establishment of a constructive dialogue bilaterally and multilaterally."

January 7: in Washington, a joint statement from the US-Japan-South Korea Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group (TCOG) ringingly endorses the latest IAEA resolution, stressing that "elimination of nuclear weapons by North Korea would provide an opportunity to return to a better path leading toward improved relations with the international community". Any tensions over the desirability of concluding a non-aggression pact are kept out of view by agreement that "there is no security rationale for North Korea to possess nuclear weapons." The statement continues: "The US delegation reiterated President Bush's statement that the United States poses no threat and has no intention of invading North Korea. The Republic of Korea and Japanese delegations renewed their strong welcome for this statement." On the issue of 'talks' vs. 'negotiations', the statement reads: "The US delegation explained that the United States is willing to talk to North Korea about how it will meet its obligations to the international community. However, the US delegation stressed that the United States will not provide quid pro quos to North Korea to live up to its existing obligations." The TCOG delegations are headed by US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Tae-sik, and Mitoji Yabunaka, Director-General of Asian and Oceanic Affairs at the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

January 8: Director General ElBaradei stresses the short timeline envisaged in the January 6 resolution: "I have transmitted the decision to North Korea. I expect them to respond in a matter of days, or weeks at the most. If they do not, then I will have to go back to the Board of Governors, and the Board will then report the issue to the Security Council. So it's a fairly urgent situation - it's a question of weeks and not months."

January 10: North Korea announces its intention to promptly withdraw from the NPT. A government statement declares: "As it has become clear once again that the US persistently seeks to stifle the DPRK at any cost and the IAEA is used as a tool for executing the US hostile policy towards the DPRK, we can no longer remain bound to the NPT, allowing the country's security and the dignity of our nation to be infringed upon. Under the grave situation where our state's supreme interests are most seriously threatened, the DPRK Government adopts the following decisions to protect the sovereignty of the country and the nation and their right to existence and dignity: firstly, the DPRK Government declares an automatic and immediate effectuation of its withdrawal from the NPT - on which "it unilaterally announced a moratorium as long as it deemed necessary," according to the 11 June, 1993, DPRK-US joint statement - now that the US has unilaterally abandoned its commitments to stop nuclear threat and renounce hostility towards the DPRK, in line with the same statement; secondly, it declares that the DPRK, withdrawing from the NPT, is totally free from the binding force of the safeguards accord with the IAEA under its Article 3." The statement concludes: "The withdrawal from the NPT is a legitimate self-defensive measure taken against the US moves to stifle the DPRK and the unreasonable behaviour of the IAEA following the US. Though we pull out of the NPT, we have no intention to produce nuclear weapons and our nuclear activities at this stage will be confined only to peaceful purposes such as the production of electricity. If the US drops its hostile policy to stifle the DPRK and stops its nuclear threat to it, the DPRK may prove through a separate verification between the DPRK and the US that it does not make any nuclear weapon."

International reaction was prompt and strong. A spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan notes that the "NPT is the lynchpin of the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime and with 188 states parties is the most widely subscribed to multilateral treaty in this area. No state party to the NPT has ever withdrawn from the treaty in the 33 years since its entry into force. While noting the denial by the DPRK of any intentions to acquire nuclear weapons, the Secretary-General stresses the importance of adhering to Treaties and their legal obligations in achieving international peace and security in accordance with international law. He takes this opportunity to reiterate that the problems regarding DPRK's nuclear programme must be resolved through peaceful dialogue." Director General ElBaradei argues that a "challenge to the integrity" of the NPT "may constitute a threat to international peace and security", and urges "the DPRK to reverse its decision and to seek instead a diplomatic solution" as "the only way to address the DPRK's security and other concerns."

ElBaradei's comments follow a meeting in Washington with US Secretary of State Colin Powell. Powell tells reporters: "North Korea has thumbed its nose at the international community. This is very regrettable. It's a sad statement on the part of the North Koreans of the respect in which they hold their own people. This makes it more difficult to find a solution. Nevertheless, we will continue to search for a solution. We will continue to be open to the opportunity for talks, but talks that will deal with this problem - a problem created by North Korea, not by the international community, and not by the United States. ... The Non-Proliferation Treaty is an important international agreement, and this kind of disrespect for such an agreement cannot go undealt with." Asked "why, given this escalation, then, does the administration not think it may be time to change tactics or try something more aggressive?", White House Press Secretary Fleischer replies: "Well, the real news came when North Korea admitted that it was violating the treaty. The news that it will no longer belong to a treaty that it has violated is secondary to the more important fact and news when North Korea informed the world that in violation of all its agreements it made with the world, it was not in compliance with the very treaty that it had signed." French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin describes the move as a "major development" and "a serious decision heavy with consequences, that has to be dealt with by the United Nations Security Council." British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw warns that "the withdrawal, if affected, will only increase North Korea's isolation from the international community". Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham reflects ruefully that "Canada entered into relations with North Korea recently with the view of trying to them [to become] more open... This [move is] in our view is the totally wrong thing [for Pyongyang] to do..." In Moscow, a Foreign Ministry statement notes: "It is undoubted that such a move can only exacerbate the already tense situation around the Korean Peninsula and inflict substantial harm upon the universal international legal instruments of ensuring global and regional security."

In the region itself, a Chinese Foreign Ministry statement expresses "concern" and a determination to "continue to work to promote a peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue". South Korean President Kim Dae-jung describes the announcement was taking "the situation on the Korean peninsula from bad to worse by one step." Kim adds optimistically, however: "But at the same time, thanks to our efforts, the United States is now moving toward dialogue with North Korea. We have to make the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons. For this purpose, we have to be patient and persistent in achieving a peaceful solution." Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is more downcast: "It is deeply regrettable... We are gravely concerned. Japan strongly urges North Korea to withdraw this decision immediately."

Speaking hours after the announcement, Pak Gil Yon, North Korea's Ambassador to the United Nations, tells a rare press conference in New York that "any kind of economic sanctions to be taken by the Security Council" will be interpreted by Pyongyang "as a declaration of war". Russian UN Ambassador Sergei Lavrov tells reporters there is no need to refer the matter to the Council at thus juncture: "I think the IAEA is dealing with it, and the IAEA should continue..."

Note: as quoted above, North Korea's statement proclaimed an "automatic and immediate effectuation" of the country's withdrawal from the NPT. In a letter submitted to the President of the UN Security Council, Ambassador Alfonso Valdivieso of Colombia, on January 10, North Korean Foreign Ministry Paek Nam Sun specified that the withdrawal "would be effectuated from January 11, 2003". Under the treaty, however, no such exit is allowed for. Article X instead states: "Each Party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the Treaty if it decides that extraordinary events, related to the subject matter of this Treaty, have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country. It shall give notice of such withdrawal to all other Parties to the Treaty and to the United Nations Security Council three months in advance. Such notice shall include a statement of the extraordinary events it regards as having jeopardized its supreme interests." In this case, then, interpreting the January 10 statement as "notice", which is disputable, North Korean withdrawal could take effect as of April 10. There is, however, no allowance for a state party to violate its obligations under the treaty before completing a formal disengagement from those same commitments.

January 9-11: a North Korean delegation, headed by senior UN diplomat Han Song Ryol, discusses the crisis in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with state governor Bill Richardson, UN Ambassador and Energy Secretary under President Clinton. At the close of the talks, Richardson tells reporters: "Ambassador Han has expressed to me North Korea's willingness to have better relations with the United States. He told me the government of North Korea wants to resolve the nuclear issue through dialogue..." On January 12, Richardson comments: "What I think the administration needs to do, with all due respect, is just pick up the phone, start the preliminary talks at the UN in New York at a low level to set up broader talks... What I would suggest...is a bilateral, binding non-aggression pact that basically says the United States is ready to agree that North Korea is not going to be treated in an aggressive, hostile fashion..." An unnamed senior administration official insists, referring to Governor Richardson's remarks: "We've made clear our views. The President [has] said again and again that he has no intention of invading North Korea..."

January 11: Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yakovenko sets out Moscow's proposed "package plan" to solve the crisis - "The escalation of tension must be stopped immediately. The solution must be a package. The path lies in constructive dialogue that takes into account the interests of all the parties involved and establishes a lasting peace on the Korean peninsular." Reports identify the main elements of the package as: 1) strict North Korean compliance with the NPT; 2) reaffirmation of the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free Peninsular; 3) security guarantees from Washington; 4) resumption and deepening of economic and humanitarian aid, preferably in the context of the resumed application and implementation of the Agreed Framework. The plan is discussed in a telephone call from Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov to his counterparts in the US, China, France and South Korea.

Speaking in Beijing, North Korea's Ambassador to China, Choe Jin Su, throws a large measure of doubt over the continuation of his country's moratorium on ballistic missile tests, in place since 1998: "Because all agreements have been nullified by the United States side, we believe we cannot go along with the self-imposed missile moratorium any longer."

January 13: visiting Seoul, US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly sets out the Bush administration's strictly conditional willingness to 'talk' to Pyongyang: "We are, of course, willing to talk to North Korea about their response to the international community, particularly with respect to elimination of nuclear weapons". Kelly also suggests that, following North Korea's full return to compliance, a certain amount of economic assistance may be forthcoming: "It may well be that - once we get beyond nuclear weapons - there may be opportunities with the US, with private investors, with other countries, to help North Korea in the energy area." No public disappointment was expressed by South Korean officials over the omission of security guarantees from Kelly's mapping of a path back from crisis.

January 14: in remarks widely reported as a 'softening' of his administration's position, President Bush tells reporters - "We expect them [the North Koreans] not to develop nuclear weapons, and if they so choose to do so - their choice - then I will reconsider whether or not we will start the bold initiative that I talked about... People say, 'well, are you willing to talk to North Korea?' Of course we are - but what this nation won't do is be blackmailed." The 'bold initiative', or 'bold approach', is the administration's label for its decision in June 2001 to resume high-level discussions with Pyongyang - discussions suspended by President Bush when he took office to allow for a six-month policy review of US goals in the region. In the words of State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher, answering questions on the President's remarks (January 15), "we were prepared [before last October] to take a bold approach to the relationship and we were prepared to do things as they did things on the issues of concern to us, to resolve some of the other issues in the relationship. But that was made impossible because we found they weren't meeting commitments they'd already made. And we have made clear at this point that they need to meet those commitments in the nuclear area and then we'll see. As President said [yesterday], we'll have to reconsider how we can proceed on those other matters."

Writing in The Washington Post (January 14), former US President Carter criticises both main parties: "The announced nuclear policies of North Korea and the American rejection of direct talks are both contrary to regional and global interests. Unfortunately, both sides must save face, even as the situation deteriorates." Carter continues: "To resolve this impasse, some forum - perhaps convened by Russia or China - must be found within which these troubling differences can be resolved. The principles of the Agreed Framework of 1994 can be reconfirmed, combined with North Korea's full and verifiable compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a firm US declaration of non-aggression against North Korea, so long as all agreements are honoured." A Russian Foreign Ministry statement (January 15) notes that "many of the ideas of the former US President are essentially consonant with our well-known 'package proposal' for an early settlement on the Korean Peninsular."

January 18: speaking on South Korean television, President-elect Roh Moo-hyun reveals that "at the time of the elections [last December], some US officials, who held [positions of] considerable responsibility in the administration, talked about the possibility of attacking North Korea... I couldn't even say in public what would happen if the United States attacked North Korea, because that would make the people afraid... I then felt that no matter what differences I might face with the United States, I would oppose an attack on North Korea. Fortunately, opinion in the United States [then] started to change to resolving the matter peacefully." US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage responds: "The President has no hostile intentions and no plans to invade. That's an indication that North Korea can have the regime that they want to have..." On January 19, Lee Nak-yeon, a spokesperson for the President-elect, claims that a "misunderstanding" had been "created because some foreign media and US press, using this material, reported [the President-elect's comments] as if Roh said the possibility of attacking North Korea had been discussed, considered or planned within the US administration. This is an imprecise quotation and can distort his intentions."

January 18-21: Russian special envoy Alexander Losyukov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, visits Pyongyang to discuss Moscow's 'package deal'. Shortly before leaving the country, Losyukov delivers a statement to the press: "Yesterday [January 20] a very important conversation took place with Chairman...Kim Jong-il. We are appreciative of the fact that the leader of your country paid us attention. During this meeting, I was able to hand over to chairman Kim Jong-il a message from Russian President Vladimir Putin. A substantive talk was held and we learned many important things about the position of the DPRK..." Interviewed by ITAR-Tass on January 20, Losyukov notes that the "reaction of the Korean side to our proposals was very keen. ... It is understandable that this work cannot be limited to one round of contacts. It will require...more time, a comparison of the positions held, and a discussion with the other participants in the conflict, in particular with the United States." On the critical issue of security assurances, the envoy states: "I cannot vouch for the likelihood of a non-aggression pact being signed... In any case, it is perfectly clear that some definite security guarantees, fairly explicit and perhaps recorded in writing, should be given to that country so that it could normally develop its relations with the surrounding world and feel out of danger, in which they feel right now. This is a very important condition for a stable, calm atmosphere to be established in the Korean Peninsular..."

January 24: the IAEA postpones a meeting of its Board of Governors, reportedly at the request of South Korea. According to an unnamed UN official, the meeting would have considered "a resolution which would inform the Security Council of the breach of the nuclear safeguards agreement with the IAEA". On January 25, Agency spokesperson Melissa Fleming notes only that it's "important to take into consideration the views of the key players who are working towards a diplomatic solution, and who have serious diplomatic initiatives underway... The key countries on the Board of Governors have agreed they would wait to decide on the timing of the meeting until [they] all believe the timing would be right."

Speaking to reporters at the US Embassy in Tokyo, John Bolton, US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, cautions (January 24) against the assumption that Washington is in favour of imposing sanctions against North Korea: "When the Non-Proliferation Treaty is violated, there is automatically a requirement that the Security Council take the matter up. ... North Korea's ongoing nuclear weapons programmes amount to just such a threat as the Council is intended to deal with. ... The question of getting the matter into the Security Council is an entirely separate and very different question from whether or not sanctions might be warranted." In a separate interview later in the day, Bolton declares that "we do not seek sanctions in the near term".

Following discussions in Moscow with US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Boris Malakhov is asked for Russia's reaction to US proposals to consider a 'five-plus-five' format - the UN Security Council's five permanent members, the two Koreas, Japan, Australia and the EU - for exploring a diplomatic solution. Malakhov states that "in principle, we are prepared to support any dialogue format which is acceptable to the parties involved and helps an early resolution of the situation. But first of all, right now, in our opinion, a direct Pyongyang-Washington channel should be activated without any further delay."

January 25: downplaying talk of a growing crisis, US Secretary of State Colin Powell tells reporters that "there's been some progress, but no breakthroughs. A lot of conversations are taking place. The Russians have come back with a plan, some ideas that they share with the North Koreans. ... The South Koreans will be sending an envoy in, there have been some Japanese contacts. There are some things that are going on, no breakthroughs... At the same time, I think it's settled down a little bit." Referring to the postponed meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors, Powell states: "We initially thought they'd be able to have agreement for a meeting today. But as the week unfolded, there were some nations that did not want to meet this soon, and there were some other nations that asked for a delay because of something they were doing with North Korea. So the judgment was made in Vienna not to have it today. ... There's not quite the sense of urgency that I would have liked to have seen, but it's not a major problem for us."

January 27-29: a South Korean delegation, headed by special presidential envoy Lim Dong-won, visits Pyongyang in search of a breakthrough. A planned meeting with President Kim Jong-il fails to materialise. Returning to Seoul on January 29, the disappointed envoy comments: "The fundamental solution of the nuclear issue can be achieved only when the country suspected of building nuclear weapons doesn't feel any security threats and builds relationships with other countries... North Korean officials repeated that the nuclear issue is a matter that concerns North Korea and the United States... It's going to be a very long and gradual process..." Interviewed by Reuters on January 28, Bill Clinton urges his successor to provide a formal security guarantee to Pyongyang. Clinton argues: "North Korea has greater capacity to produce atomic weapons than Iraq does, and less capacity to feed itself than Iraq does. So for the North Koreans their 'cash crops', if you will, are missiles and bombs... [We should] give them a non-aggression pact if they want that, because we'd never attack them unless they did something that violated that pact anyway..."

January 30: the European Union in Strasbourg passes a resolution calling on North Korea to "reverse its decision" to withdraw from the NPT, to "cease its programme to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons in a highly visible and verifiable manner", and to continue its "moratorium on ballistic missile tests".

January 31: the Pentagon reportedly draws up plans for a possible, significant increase in its military presence in the region. IAEA Director General ElBaradei warns that the Yongbyon facility "could produce quite significant amounts of material, plutonium...within six months". ElBaradei states his full expectation that the Agency's Board of Governors will soon agree to refer the matter to the Security Council: "I've already submitted a report to the Board saying that North Korea is in non-compliance, so we need to get the Board to certify that conclusion, We will then have to report...to the Security Council, and then the Security Council can be seized of the matter and take it from there..." North Korea's Ambassador to Russia, Pak Ui Chun, declares that "North Korea will not take part" in any "Emergency meeting" of the IAEA: "Pyongyang takes a dim view of the activities of this organisation and believes it serves the interests of the United States". IAEA spokesperson Fleming points out: "They can't be at the meeting. They're not a member state and they're not on the board..."

February 3: the IAEA announces that its Board of Governors will meet to consider its next steps on February 12.

February 4: Russia restates its opposition to referring the issue to the Security Council. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yakovenko argues: "The chief element of a diplomatic solution to the 'DPRK nuclear problem', we believe, should be a direct dialogue between the DPRK and the United States - although other countries, including Russia, could also participate in the creation of a mechanism of guarantees. 'Internationalising' the question right now would be counterproductive." Yakovenko also referred to the reports of a possible American military build-up: "We are convinced that any expansion of the US military presence on and around the Korean peninsular as an element of heightened pressure on the DPRK would play a negative role since it will not bring nearer the desirable negotiated solution, but, on the contrary, may provoke a response."

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage insists: "We cannot change our relationship with the DPRK until the DPRK changes its behavior. North Korea must abandon its nuclear weapons programs in a verifiable and irreversible manner. Specifically, North Korea must return immediately to the freeze on activities at the Yongbyon complex and dismantle the plutonium program there. Second, North Korea must dismantle its program to develop nuclear weapons through highly enriched uranium and must allow international verification that it has done so. Third, North Korea must cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency. Finally, North Korea must comply with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and adhere to the safeguards agreement that is part of that treaty. The United States will not dole out any rewards to convince North Korea to live up to its existing obligations. But we do remain prepared to transform our relations with that country, once it complies with its international obligations and commitments. Channels of communication between our countries remain open, but ultimately, it is the actions of North Korea that matter." With reference to the doubtful future of the Agreed Framework, Armitage comments: "We are consulting with our KEDO partners - South Korea, Japan, and the EU - about KEDO's future, including the fate of the light water reactor project. In the meantime, the Administration has asked Congress to appropriate $3.5 million in FY03 to fund the US contribution to KEDO's administrative account, should we decide it is in our national interest to do so. I want to stress that no part of that funding would go to heavy fuel oil shipments, which the KEDO Executive Board suspended in October, or to light water reactor construction. But the ability to make a contribution to the administrative account will give us flexibility in working with our KEDO allies to achieve our shared non-proliferation goals." Questioned by Senators, the Deputy Secretary remarks: "Of course we are going to have direct talks with the North Koreans, there's no doubt about it..."

Speaking prior to Armitage's testimony, Senator Richard Lugar, the Republican Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, states his conviction "that United States officials should talk to North Korean officials about ending North Korean nuclear weapons programs with provisions of comprehensive international inspection to ensure a successful cleanup procedure." Lugar further urges the administration to appreciate that such 'talks' cannot be divorced from some level of negotiation: "North Korea may mention in these talks its desire for non-aggression guarantees, potential commercial relations with other countries, and urgent humanitarian and fuel contributions through international agencies to assist the North Korean people. We should be prepared to talk to North Korea about all of this."

February 5: a North Korean Foreign Ministry statement declares that the country "is now putting the operation of its nuclear facilities for the production of electricity on a normal footing after their restart". Reports suggest that such a 'footing' does not yet include actual power (and plutonium) production. The statement further declares that "if the UN Security Council, responsible for the issue of world peace and security, does not call the US wrong Korean policy to task, this organisation will turn out to be partial, and the DPRK will, accordingly, not recognise it."

February 6: testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Powell stresses that the administration has not ruled out possible limited military action against North Korea, presumably against the contested nuclear facilities: "No options have been taken off the table. The option of sanctions, the option of additional political moves, no military option's been taken off the table, although we have no intention of attacking North Korea as a nation..." The same day, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz confirms that the US has raised the level of military preparedness in the region: "We are dealing with an unpredictable regime and a regime that seems to be moving along a ladder of escalation... But what [Defense] Secretary Rumsfeld has done, in outing those bombers on alert, is simply to reinforce our deterrent posture, to make sure that North Korea doesn't do anything adventurous or dangerous of a military kind." The New York Times quotes an unnamed senior administration official, asked how Washington might respond to a full restart of the Yongbyon reactor, as observing: "That's for us to know and them to find out." Senior North Korean Foreign Ministry official Ri Pyong-pap tells The Guardian: "The United States says that, after Iraq, we are next, but we have our own countermeasures. Pre-emptive attacks are not the exclusive right of the US."

February 12: the IAEA Board of Governors agree, in a resolution adopted by 31 votes to 0 with 2 abstentions (Cuba and Russia) to refer the issue to the Security Council. See next issue for extensive coverage and reaction.

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Selected Comment, I: North Korea

Choe Jin Su, Ambassador to China, Beijing, January 31: "We are opposed to any attempt to internationalise the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsular and we will never take part in any form of multilateral talks... It is the United States that menaces the sovereignty of the DPRK and its right to existence. Only the US is responsible for doing away with this threat... [It is] the sinister intention of the United States to evade its responsibilities...and create international pressure upon our country..."

Ambassador Choe Jin Su, January 3: "If other countries are concerned about nuclear security on the Korean Peninsular, they should urge the United States to assure us of security - and if they can't do that, they should be quiet..."

Pak Ui Chun, Ambassador to Russia, December 31: "The Bush administration, using nuclear weapons as blackmail, has in fact annulled the Korean-American Framework Agreement... This has led to the fact that Pyongyang today cannot secure the continuation of guarantees of its special situation..."

Foreign Ministry Statement, January 25: "The only way of solving the nuclear issue on the Korean Pen insular peacefully and in a most fair way is for the DPRK and the US to hold direct and equal negotiations. This is the invariable, principled stand [of our government]..."

Statement issued by the North Korean Embassy in Moscow, January 28: "We categorically oppose all attempts to internationalise the nuclear question on the Korean Peninsular and in this connection we state that we will not take part in 'multilateral talks' in any form... The only means for a peaceful and fair resolution of the nuclear question...is direct negotiations between North Korea and the United States, face-to-face... There cannot be another way..."

Government commentary, broadcast on the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), January 27: "It is...an objective reality that the Secretariat of the IAEA is not in a position to discuss the DPRK issue and the days are gone, never to return, when it could reasonably handle it..."

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Selected Comment, II: The United States

President George W, Bush, January 6: "I went to [South] Korea last year and clearly said that the United States has no intention of invading North Korea. I said that right there in South Korea. And in Kim Jong-il's neighbourhood, I spoke as clearly as I said, and said we won't invade you. And I'll repeat that: we have no intention of invading North Korea. We expect North Korea to adhere to her obligations. She's in an agreement with the United States - she said she would not develop nuclear weapons."

President Bush, December 31: "There is a strong consensus, not only among the nations in the neighbourhood and our friends, but also with international organisations, such as the IAEA, that North Korea ought to comply with international regulations. I believe this can be done peacefully, through diplomacy, and I will continue to work that way."

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, January 19: "Our approach has been not to make this a crisis between the United States and North Korea... There is leverage here - this is a problem for all concerned countries, particularly in the region. ... North Korea escalated and may continue to escalate, we have to say that. But they're doing so at the cost of their own isolation."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, January 19: "[The danger is] not just that they might use these capabilities, but that they would proliferate nuclear weapons and nuclear materials to other countries."

Secretary of State Colin Powell, February 6: "North Korea is a more direct threat to South Korea and China than anyone else. Now, those nations are...encouraging us: 'Quick. Quick. Talk to the North Koreans.' And we are prepared to engage with the North Koreans and we're prepared to talk with them. But what we can't find ourselves in the position of doing is essentially panicking at their activities and their demands..."

Secretary Powell, December 29: "We are going to be patient. We are going to continue to apply pressure. ... We are going to keep channels open in case there are messages coming from North Korea. We want to communicate with North Korea and wait for an opening to solve this diplomatically. ... Nobody's going to attack North Korea. We have no plans to attack North Korea. We've said it repeatedly."

Undersecretary of State John Bolton, January 24: "If anybody needs assurances of non-aggression, the rest of us need those assurances from North Korea..."

Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, January 30: "The United States will not be pressured or blackmailed into providing the North with quid pro quos to meet its existing obligations. But, if the North is willing to return to its obligations, we will talk with them about how to do so. And, if the North abodes by its obligations, we are prepared to work with it for a different and better future for its people."

Assistant Secretary Kelly, January 16: "We all agree on the end result - the Korean Peninsular needs to be free of nuclear weapons. It's going to be a very slow process to make sure that we achieve this in the right way..."

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, January 13: "North Korea wants to take the world through its blackmail play-book, and we won't play. It's up to North Korea to come back into international compliance with their obligations. IF and when they do that, then the world, of course, would make clear to North Korea that...the world was prepared to engage..."

Thomas Hubbard, US Ambassador to South Korea, January 19: "If they satisfy our concerns about the nuclear programs, we are prepared to consider a broad approach that would entail, in the final analysis, some economic cooperation, perhaps in the power field... We are prepared to go beyond food aid."

Unnamed senior administration official, quoted by Reuters, January 15: "I think the light-water reactor project is probably dead... The North Koreans [have] forfeited their right to have anything nuclear..."

Senate Minority Leader Thomas Daschle (Democrat), February 6: "North Korea is a grave threat that seems to grow with each day that passes without high-level engagement... The President should stop downplaying this threat, start paying more attention to it, and immediately engage the North Koreans in direct talks."

Senator Daschle, January 12: "First of all, we have to take all actions necessary to dismantle this nuclear assembly line that the North Koreans have... Secondly, we have to express in no uncertain terms that we have no hostile intentions. The best way to do that is...that we enter into direct talks."

Senator Joseph Biden (Democrat), speaking on the floor of the Senate, February 6: "Mr. President, please, please, if you don't want to enunciate it [as a crisis], in your mind, Mr. President, treat this as a crisis, because it is, if not contained now..."

Senator Evan Bayh (Democrat), January 5: "If you're going to use tough rhetoric, you better be prepared to back it up. And what we've had here is [that] the North Korean regime has basically called our bluff..."

Senator John McCain (Republican), January 5: "If you allow the North Koreans to gain some sort of leverage or agreement that would be beneficial to them, that will be a lesson to all other nations: 'do the same thing'..."

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Selected Comment, III: International

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, addressing the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva, January 21: "Recent challenges to the existing non-proliferation regimes - in particular the announcement by the government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea of its withdrawal from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - raise serious concerns. I regret this development and I strongly urge, once again, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to reconsider its decision. The only viable solution to this latest setback for disarmament and non-proliferation is through peaceful means, dialogue, and a spirit of mutual interest."

Maurice Strong (Canada), UN envoy on humanitarian issues in North Korea, January 22: "This is a real crisis. It requires immediate attention. The North Koreans say, as much as they need, and they clearly need, humanitarian assistance, they will not accept it if it is attached to political conditions."

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei, January 16: "North Korea should understand that this is no way to proceed for a dialogue through...nuclear blackmail... There are elements of a solution to the problem out there... I think it would be good to discuss North Korea's security concerns."

Director General ElBaradei, December 26: "The reprocessing facility at Yongbyon is irrelevant to the DPRK's ability to produce electricity. The DPRK has no current legitimate peaceful use for plutonium, given the status of its nuclear fuel cycle. Moving towards restarting its nuclear facilities without appropriate safeguards, and towards producing plutonium, raises serious non-proliferation concerns and is tantamount to nuclear brinkmanship."

IAEA spokesperson Melissa Fleming, December 31: "We were the eyes of the world. Now we have virtually no possibility to monitor North Korea's nuclear activities nor to provide any assurances to the international community that they are not producing a nuclear weapon."

South Korean President-elect Roh Moo-hyun, December 27: "Whatever North Korea's rationale is in taking such actions, they are not beneficial to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsular and in Northeast Asia, nor are they helpful for its own safety and prosperity."

South Korean envoy Chyung Dai-chul, speaking after meetings with senior US officials in Washington, February 4: "We...expressed our hope that the United States...plays a more proactive role in engaging in dialogue with North Korea, but also with an international setting, with a multilateral approach... The basic position of the Roh Moo-hyun administration would be that, yes, the IAEA could bring this issue to the Security Council. But the solution to this should be sought in a gradual and step-by-step manner..."

South Korean Defence Minister Lee Jun, January 16: "If the North Korean nuclear problem cannot be resolved peacefully and America attacks North Korea, war on the Korean Peninsular will be unavoidable... Our Army is prepared for the worst-case scenario..."

South Korean Ambassador to Washington Yang Sung-chul, interview with the Global Security Newswire, January 6: "To us, it's a life-and-death matter. Any military flare-up over North Korea having nuclear weapons is a life-and-death scenario. We are not seeing the world or conflict through TV screens. So the US and my government, as the closest allies in Asia, adopt a strong position on this. First, North Korea must dismantle its nuclear projects. Second, we [must] try to resolve it peacefully and diplomatically, so [that] it's good for North Korea to come out of this policy of pushing this nuclear weapons programme."

Japanese Deputy Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe, January 12: "If the world applies pressure and convinces North Korea that it will not gain anything with this game...I think it is possible for the situation to return to the way it was."

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, December 30: "Pyongyang's decisions to expel IAEA inspectors and prepare the resumption of unmonitored work on its nuclear energy complex cannot help but provoke regret. ... The Russian side...regards the preservation and strict implementation of the 1994 Agreed Framework...as important, and supports all the other international accords directed to ensuring the nuclear-free status of the Peninsular. Achieving this goal is possible only via a constructive dialogue between all the concerned parties - whereas aggressive rhetoric and threats, and even more so attempts to isolate the DPRK, can lead only to a further escalation of tensions..."

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov, interview on Russian television, January 25: "Everyone is interested in seeing the Korean peninsular nuclear-free - I stress, not only its north, but the south as well. For this purpose it is necessary to conduct negotiations with the North Koreans, who stress their concern at the threat which the United States poses for them. And they refer...to the fact that the US has assigned them to that 'axis of evil', and is threatening to strike a nuclear blow at them - which, by the way, under the NPT is impermissible. ... It is necessary to find such a negotiated solution. We have found out that the DPRK is ready for such a negotiated solution. The crisis has gone too far, and at its root lies the question whether North Korea will be making a nuclear bomb or not. ... We in Pyongyang were told, perhaps for the first time, that they will not develop a nuclear [weapons] programme and do not want to do that, but as a last resort, if the continue to be leaned on, then they might think of it."

UK Foreign Office spokesperson, January 1: "We have said that we want to work for a peaceful resolution. Obviously, some form of economic pressure has to be an option..."

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Related material on Acronym website:

Reports: Last oil shipment before cutoff reaches N. Korea, Reuters, November 19; Transcript - Kelly says no final decision on status of N. Korea Agreed Framework, Washington File, November 20; DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman on US decision to stop supplying heavy oil, Korean Central News Agency, November 21; Source - N. Korea refusing entry to oil monitors, Reuters, November 22; N. Korea raises stakes in nuclear row, BBC News Online, November 22; IAEA Board of Governors adopts resolution on safeguards in the DPRK, IAEA Media Advisory 2002/33, November 29; Text - US welcomes IAEA resolution on North Korea's nuclear program, Washington File, November 29; China, Russia call on N. Korea, US to open ties, Reuters, December 1; South Korean presidential candidate says he would seek meeting with Bush, Associated Press, December 4; DPRK's principled stand on nuclear issue clarified, Korean Central News Agency, December 4; Operation and building of nuclear facilities to be resumed immediately, Korean Central News Agency, December 12; IAEA Director General calls for DPRK restraint, IAEA Press Release PR 2002/12, December 12; White House regrets North Korean decision on nuclear facility, Washington File, December 12; N. North Korea to reopen nuclear plant over oil cutoff by US, New York Times, December 12; White House Report - North Korea, Washington file, December 12; Remarks by Alexander Yakovenko, official spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, December 12, 2002, Russian Foreign Ministry transcript; North Korea urged to reconsider resuming its nuclear program, Associated Press, December 12; Japan joins international condemnation of North Korea's move to revive nuclear program, Associated Press, December 13; EU deeply concerned by North Korea's revival of nuclear program, Associated Press, December 13; Secretary-General concerned by lifting of nuclear programme freeze, UN Press Release SG/SM/8561, December 13; North Korea steps up pressure on UN nuclear watchdog, Associated Press, December 14; IAEA urged to remove monitoring cameras, Korean Central News Agency, December 14; Clinton says his govt. threatened to attack N. Korea, Reuters, December 15; Clinton 'threatened' N. Korea over nuclear arms, BBC News Online, December 16; S. Korean candidates clash over North, BBC News Online, December 16; Joint Statement, US-Japan Security Consultative Committee, Washington, December 16, 2002, US Department of State, Office of the Spokesman; DPRK interferes with IAEA safeguards agreement, IAEA Press Release PR 2002/22, December 21; Further disruption of IAEA safeguards implementation in the DPRK, IAEA Press Release PR 2002/23, December 22; UN agency concerned by removal of monitoring equipment at DPR of Korea nuclear site, UN News Service, December 23; Russia says Bush to blame for North Korea crisis, Reuters, December 23; Regarding DPRK unilateral actions removing IAEA monitoring instruments from its nuclear facilities, Russian Foreign Ministry Statement, December 23; Continued disruption of IAEA safeguards equipment in DPRK, IAEA Press Release PR 2002/24, December 24; IAEA Director General cites DPRK 'nuclear brinkmanship', IAEA Press Release PR 2002/25, December 26; DPRK government decides to order IAEA inspectors out of DPRK, Korean Central News Agency, December 27; South Korea's president-elect criticizes North Korea for nuclear ambitions, Associated Press, December 27; White House Report - North Korea, Washington File, December 27; IAEA responds to DPRK request to remove inspectors, IAEA Press Release PR 2002/26, December 27; IAEA inspectors to leave North Korea, IAEA Press Release PR 2002/27, December 28; UN inspectors to leave N. Korea, Washington Post, December 29; US says no attack planned on N. Korea, Reuters, December 29; Powell - US, allies keeping diplomatic channels to North Korea open, Washington File, December 29; Russia denounces Pyongyang's nuclear brinkmanship, Reuters, December 30; Remarks by Igor Ivanov, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, December 30, 2002, Russian Foreign Ministry transcript; Remarks by the President to the press pool, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, December 31; IAEA official says departure of inspectors leaves world with little idea over whether North Korea is producing nuclear weapons, Associated Press, December 31; Nuclear issue on Korean peninsular should be settled between DPRK and US, Korean Central News Agency, January 1; Europeans urge N. Korea on nuke monitors, Associated Press, January 1; North Korea rejects US pressure to stop nuclear work, demands nonaggression talks, Associated Press, January 3; North Korea defends decision to restart nuclear program, New York Times, January 3; North Korea says willing to talk to US and IAEA, Reuters, January 3; US dismisses N. Korean request for pact, Reuters, January 3; Democrats blast Bush on North Korea policies, Reuters, January 5; Democrats criticize Bush on North Korea, Associated Press, January 5; North Korea issues warning, and Seoul seeks compromise, New York Times, January 5; IAEA Board of Governors adopts resolution on safeguards in North Korea, IAEA Press Release, 2003/04, January 6; On the IAEA Board of Governors' resolution concerning implementation of the agreement the IAEA and the DPRK, Russian Foreign Ministry Statement, Document 16-06-01-2003, January 6; Transcript - Bush calls Saddam Hussein accusation 'discouraging news', Washington File, January 6; Bush views IAEA statement on North Korea as appropriate, Washington File, January 6; IAEA gives North Korea chance to come into safeguards compliance, Washington File, January 6; Text - US says North Korea must respect nuclear safeguards agreement, Washington File, January 6; Introductory statement to the Board of Governors by IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, January 6, 2003, IAEA website; Nuclear challenge, PBS interview with IAEA Director General, January 6, http://www.pbs.org; Excerpt - US 'willing to talk' to North Korea, Washington File, January 7; Joint Statement by the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group, January 7, 2003, US State Department; US will talk to North Korea but not negotiate or offer inducements, Washington File, January 8; IAEA interviews on DPRK resolution, IAEA Media Advisory 2003/09, January 8; N. Korea quits nuclear treaty - text, BBC News Online, January 10; IAEA Director General calls on North Korea to reverse its decision on NPT withdrawal, IAEA Press Release PR 2003/01, January 10; Statement attributable to the spokesman for the Secretary-General on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's announcement of its withdrawal from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, UN News Service, January 10; Regarding the DPRK's intention to withdraw from the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, Russian Foreign Ministry Statement, Document 36-10-01-2003, January 10; Jack Straw deplores action by North Korea, UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, January 10; N. Korea nuclear crisis - world reaction, BBC News Online, January 10; N. Korea blames US for treaty withdrawal, BBC News Online, January 10; Comment by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi concerning North Korea's withdrawal from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (http://www.mofa.go.jp), January 10; Japan's reaction to North Korea's declaration to pull out of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Conference, January 10; North Korea says its withdrawal from nuclear treaty will take effect Saturday, Associated Press, January 10; Transcript - Powell says North Korean disrespect for NPT must be dealt with, Washington File, January 10; White House - North Korea's withdrawal from NPT of 'serious concern', Washington File, January 10; Lugar, ElBaradei discuss North Korea, Iraq in Capitol Hill meeting, Washington File, January 10; N. Korea nuclear move draws world condemnation, Reuters, January 10; Canada sees N. Korea move as 'troubling setback', Reuters, January 10; Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Ivanov speaks by telephone to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the PRC, France and the Republic of Korea and the US Secretary of State, Russian Foreign Ministry Statement, January 11; Richardson - N. Korean pledges no nuclear weapons, Reuters, January 11; Russian Foreign Ministry says it's too early to take North Korea issue to Security Council, Associated Press, January 11; N. Korea threatens to resume missile tests, Washington Post, January 12; US sends envoy to Seoul to defuse 'dangerous game', Reuters, January 12; Richardson urges nonaggression pact with N. Korea, Reuters, January 12; Transcript - Kelly says talks with North Korea, energy aid possible, Washington File, January 13; White House Report - North Korea, Washington File, January 13; Interview - South Korea's US Ambassador Yang Sung-chul, Global Security Newswire, January 13; Bush would consider aiding North Korea if it ends weapons program, Washington File, January 14; Analysts - N. Korea developing new missile, Associated Press, January 14; Bush offers prospect of deal with North Korea, Reuters, January 14; Back to the framework, by Jimmy Carter, Washington Post, January 14; Excerpt - Bush administration offers talks, food aid to North Korea, Washington File, January 15; Remarks by Alexander Yakovenko, official spokesman of the Russian Foreign Ministry, January 15, 2003, Russian Foreign Ministry transcript; DPRK FM spokesman on US rumor about dialogue, Korean Central News Agency, January 15; US Asia allies cautious on N. Korea project's fate, Reuters, January 15; Seoul braced for 'worst case' Korea scenario, Reuters, January 16; US envoy - resolving North Korean nuclear issue will be 'very slow process', Associated Press, January 16; IAEA sees outline of solution over North Korean nuclear crisis, Associated Press, January 16; S. Korean - US weighed attack on North, Associated Press, January 18; South Korea - US didn't debate attack, Associated Press, January 19; US envoy to South Korea dangles possible aid to North in nuclear crisis, Associated Press, January 19; Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Losyukov interview with ITAR-TASS news agency, January 20, 2003, Russian Foreign Ministry transcript; N. Korea wants 'knee-to-knee' US talks, Reuters, January 20; Bush administration makes headway with China on North Korea, Associated Press, January 20; Transcript of Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Losyukov's remarks upon departure from Pyongyang, January 21, 2003, Russian Foreign Ministry; Annan urges N. Korea to reconsider dropping treaty, Reuters, January 21; UN official says North Korea would regard UN sanctions as an 'act of war', Associated Press, January 22; Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Losyukov meets with Richard Armitage, the US Deputy Secretary of State, Russian Foreign Ministry Statement, Document 153-23-01-2003, January 23; Remarks by Boris Malakhov, deputy official spokesman for Russia's Foreign Ministry, January 24, 2003, Russian Foreign Ministry transcript; IAEA sets Feb 3 meeting on N. Korea nuclear plans, Reuters, January 24; Nuclear agency puts off meeting to take up North Korean nuclear program, Associated Press, January 25; North Korea reiterates opposition to 'multiparty talks' on nuclear issue, Associated Press, January 25; Powell discusses Iraq, North Korea en route to Davos economic forum, Washington File, January 25; Transcript of Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Losyukov remarks, January 25, 2003, Russian Foreign Ministry transcript; Transcript - threat of aggression comes from North Korea, not US, Washington File, January 27; Transcript - US will present evidence against Iraq when time is right, Washington File, January 27; Transcript - Bolton says US has evidence Iraq has weapons program, Washington File, January 27; N. Korea says IAEA cannot discuss nuclear crisis, Reuters, January 27; Seoul envoy to meet N. Korean leader on nuclear crisis, Reuters, January 28; North Korea rejects Russian mediation, United Press International, January 28; South Korean envoy says North Korean nuclear issue will take a long time, Associated Press, January 29; South Korean envoy says North Koreans told him nuclear issue concerns only United States, Associated Press, January 29; EU parliament condemns North Korea over its nuclear program, Associated Press, January 30; North Korea vows to resist US pressure over its nuclear dispute, Associated Press, January 31; US warns N. Korea on nuclear activity, Reuters, January 31; Envoy says N. Korea will boycott IAEA meeting, Reuters, January 31; ElBaradei wants UN council to take up N. Korea, Reuters, January 31; Russian Foreign Ministry Statement, Document 253-01002-2003, February 1; UN nuclear agency's board to meet Feb. 12 on North Korea crisis, Associated Press, February 3; Pentagon thinking of bolstering troops in Korea region amid North Korea nuclear crisis, Associated Press, February 3; US official sees talks with North Korea on nuclear program, New York Times, February 4; S. Korea presses US to engage N. Korea, Reuters, February 4; Lugar backs idea of talks between US and North Korea, Washington File, February 4; Remarks by Alexander Yakovenko, official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, February 4, 2003, Russian Foreign Ministry transcript; Text - N. Korea threatens the international community, Kelly says, Washington File, February 4; Text - US willing to hold direct talks with North Korea, Armitage says, Washington File, February 4; N. Korea says reactor put on normal footing, Reuters, February 5; N. Korea threatens US with first strike, The Guardian, February 6; US ready for 'any contingencies' with North Korea, Reuters, February 6; White House dismisses North Korea threats, Associated Press, February 6; Bush administration defends its approach on North Korea, New York Times, February 7; North Korea - US officials investigating troop reduction, reports say, Global Security Newswire, February 7.

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