Disarmament DiplomacyIssue No. 76, March/April 2004
In The News (or Should Be)
"Differences, difficulties and contradictions" at North Korea nuclear talks
"Differences, difficulties and contradictions" at North Korea nuclear talks
The second round of six-party1 talks on the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), held from February 25-28, 2004 in Beijing, have broken up with little progress. China, as Chair of the talks, issued a short statement emphasising procedural issues, when the parties were unable to agree on more substantive steps. The seven-paragraph statement, printed in full below, expressed "commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free Korean Peninsula" and agreed to set up a working group to prepare for further talks to be held by the end of June.
Although Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao cited "differences, difficulties and contradictions" during the talks,2 Chief Negotiator Wang Yi gave a positive assessment, claiming that the talks had "demonstrated three features and achieved five advancements". According to Wang, the achievements of the meeting were:
"1) It successfully boosted the discussion on substantive
Wang noted, however, that an "extreme lack of trust" between the US and North Korea had been a stumbling block to persuading North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme entirely.
The recent crisis and deterioration in relations between the US and the DPRK were precipitated by President George W. Bush's State of the Union address in January 2002, in which he described North Korea, along with Iraq and Iran, as part of an "axis of evil". In December 2002, following US accusations that it was pursuing a uranium enrichment programme, North Korea threw out the IAEA inspectors and equipment monitoring its nuclear facilities, and in January 2003 gave notice of its intention to withdraw from the NPT.4
The first round of six party talks was held in August 2003, but resulted in little more than an exchange of already widely publicised views by the parties.5 In December 2003 the second round of six party talks was postponed due to disagreements between the US and North Korea. The US, along with allies South Korea and Japan, had been working on draft text for the talks, committing North Korea to end its nuclear programme in an "effective, verifiable and irreversible way" and outlining US readiness to prepare a statement on security assurances.6 North Korea rejected this, and set out its own proposal for a nuclear "freeze" in exchange for the US delisting the DPRK as a terrorism sponsor, lifting political, economic and military sanctions, and energy aid.
The second round of talks began on February 25 in Beijing, and was extended to continue into Saturday 28 as the parties tried to negotiate a detailed communiqué, based on a document developed by China.
Efforts reportedly stalled when China informed the US that North Korea was unlikely to sign up unless the communiqué included public reference to its demand for the US to drop its "hostile policy".
Reportedly, President Bush's response, following consultations with Vice-President Dick Cheney and other senior figures in Washington, was to send the US negotiating team a "curt directive" instructing the US delegates to make it clear that the administration's patience with the diplomatic process could run out and that all options were still on the table for dealing with the crisis.7
Following this setback, China attempted to obtain agreement on a stripped down joint declaration calling simply for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and efforts to hold regular talks. North Korea then backed out, announcing that its nuclear freeze proposal would not include its "civilian" nuclear programme. Unable to broker an agreed communiqué, China, in its capacity as Chair of the talks, closed the meeting and issued its own bland statement.
US Demand: Complete, Verifiable and Irreversible Dismantlement (CVID)
The current US approach to North Korea is based on two basic principles, as set out by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly: "First, we cannot accept anything less than the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of the North's nuclear programs. Second, the diplomatic format for achieving that outcome must be a multiparty framework."8 The US has also indicated that it is willing to "join with the other parties in providing security assurance to the DPRK."
By "complete" dismantlement, Kelly is referring to the US demand that North Korea dismantle all nuclear programmes, including any plutonium or uranium production that might be used to make weapons. The US claims that North Korea has privately admitted that it is secretly pursuing a uranium enrichment programme9 - an accusation that North Korea described as a "whopping lie".
The question of whether North Korea has a uranium enrichment programme has been an area of tension between the US and Russia and China, and has caused problems for other allies, not least because of US failure to come forward with convincing evidence for its claims. Chinese officials have previously indicated that they do not accept that North Korea has such a programme, but concerns have increased recently following the admission by Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan that he had provided nuclear secrets to Pyongyang.
Russia's position appeared equivocal, as Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov commented that "North Korea doesn't confirm it has the uranium enrichment programme... North Korea is likely to believe that this uncertainty creates stronger positions on the talks."10
It appears that the South Korean authorities believe that North Korea has been pursuing uranium enrichment, but would prefer the issue to be dealt with at a later stage, rather than as an immediate demand in the six-party talks. South Korean Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun said, "The US says that the North Koreans have made progress with the enriched uranium program, but the North Koreans deny that... If North Korea is forced to admit [to the uranium program], it would affect their pride. That would not be an effective way to go about this. We need to work out an arrangement."11
The US insists on a multilateral six party approach to negotiations, on the grounds that North Korea may attempt to use bilateral negotiations to play off its neighbours against each other. The US also hopes to put pressure on North Korea, by maintaining a united front. Despite indications that Russia and China were willing to work on North Korea's proposal for a freeze, the US succeeded in getting all parties (other than North Korea) committed to supporting its position on complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement, for which it has now coined the acronym, CVID.
The US failed to get inclusion of CVID in any declaration because North Korea remained adamantly opposed to the use of this phrase. Although an unnamed State Department official claimed that "denuclearization means complete dismantlement", the Associated Press commented: "All parties - including the North - say they want that, but their definitions of 'nuclear-free' have varied."12
The US and North Korea held bilateral sidebar talks, at head of delegation level, for 90 minutes during the three day meeting, which were characterised by the State Department as "useful". China's official People's Daily newspaper called for "more direct contacts" so that both sides could "gradually establish trust".13
North Korea's Offer: a 'Freeze'
Prior to the talks North Korea had advocated on a number of occasions a "freeze of nuclear activities", for which they expected to receive a range of rewards.14 The US has taken a strong stance against this, with President Bush stating that "the United States is not for a freeze of the nuclear programme; the goal is to dismantle a nuclear weapons programme in a verifiable and irreversible way."15
In mid-February, the US showed some signs of coming round to the idea of a nuclear freeze at least as an interim step. State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher commented that, "a freeze might be valuable", but "whatever the value of a freeze as a step along the way... the goal had to be elimination."16 On February 23, Secretary of State Colin Powell confirmed, "they might be able to freeze, but it can't be a freeze standing alone. "Powell underlined that the US would not offer any economic reward for a freeze.17
In contrast, North Korea continued to insist on its 'reward for freeze' policy. "Only if the compensation issue is settled can the North Korean freeze plan be achieved... If the 'freeze first, compensate later' question is raised in these talks, North Korea will resolutely oppose it," said a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman.18
At the talks, South Korea proposed a way to bridge the gap between the US and North Korea, by offering possible energy aid. Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Soo-Hyuck said the South Korean offer required "a presumption that North Korea freezes its nuclear activity as a beginning step to dismantle all of its nuclear programs completely, irreversibly and verifiably."19 According to Lee, the US and Japan both "expressed their understanding and support for this" but are unlikely to participate at this stage. Lee said he had told North Korea that its freeze must be followed "in a short period of time" by steps toward a complete and verifiable dismantling of nuclear capabilities.20
South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon said that any North Korean nuclear freeze must cover all nuclear programmes and allow inspections. "On the assumption that nuclear inspections should follow, North Korea's freeze of its nuclear weapons programs must be the first step toward the ultimate abolition of them, including the one based on highly enriched uranium," he told South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.21
South Korea is advocating a three-stage plan. According to a South Korean diplomat, "Basically our approach to the question is that it can be resolved through three steps... The first stage is verbal commitment, and the second stage is the dismantlement of the North Korean nuclear programme and the reciprocity to this dismantlement...The third stage is to improve overall relations among the participating countries."22
Russia and China have also offered energy assistance, if certain conditions are met. China has already provided North Korea with an estimated $50 million aid in recent months, which is believed to have helped bring North Korea to the negotiating table.
According to Russia's Losyukov, a "freeze is not an end, but a means, an interim phase on the road leading to the full elimination of North Korean nuclear projects."23 Russia has also specified that verification of any freeze is critical. "No one will agree to move forward without inspections," Losyukov told reporters.
As negotiations on a joint declaration were in their final stages, North Korea reportedly backed away from its nuclear freeze proposal, revealing for the first time that it did not intend to apply the freeze to its 'civilian' nuclear programme, only its 'military' nuclear programmes. North Korea's Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan stated, "A nuclear freeze means giving up activities related to nuclear weapons. We cannot give up nuclear development for civilian use."24
Despite being pressed repeatedly during the talks to explain the purpose of its civilian nuclear programme, North Korea claims that it "needs" nuclear energy for medical, agricultural and electricity generation purposes. However, as one US official was quoted as saying, "The problem is, I am not aware of any peaceful [nuclear] programmes in the DPRK."25
Russia took a more understanding view. Losyukov said North Korea showed "readiness" to abolish its nuclear weapons programme but wanted to maintain a "peaceful" nuclear capability. "North Korea is not ready to drop all its nuclear programs. It's not realistic to ask them to do it... North Korea is ready to drop its nuclear defence programme, but some countries are not satisfied with that."26 Given how inextricably the civilian programme has become linked with military objectives or ambitions, the distinction is one that will be very difficult to get agreement on, with far-reaching practical consequences for international law, security and verification.
A further concern is how any freeze or dismantlement of North Korean nuclear programmes would be verified. In February, ITAR-TASS reported that North Korea had held private talks with IAEA officials in Vienna on the possibility of a resumption of inspections of nuclear facilities at Yongbyon. North Korea would reportedly prefer IAEA inspections to US inspections of its facilities.27
IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei has not been party to the six-party talks, but his report to the IAEA Board of Governors on March 8 called for a "comprehensive solution that strikes a balance between the security needs of the DPRK and the need of the international community to gain assurance, through international verification, that all nuclear activities in the DPRK are exclusively for peaceful purposes."28 This call for international verification underlines the preference for many in the international community for a strong role for the UN and the IAEA in any agreement reached on North Korea.
To date, most US allies have praised developments at the six-party talks. Prior to the second round of talks, however, France called for the UN and the IAEA "to play a full role in North Korea in order to define and implement a lasting solution to that country's nuclear programme".29
No hostile intent?
Negotiations on China's draft communiqué foundered over a reference to North Korea's demand for the US to "drop its hostile policy. During negotiations, the US reportedly clarified that it "has no intention to invade or attack North Korea... [and] no intention to seek regime change against North Korea."30
According to China, the US affirmed that it had "no hostile intent" against the DPRK. Chinese officials, however, reportedly expressed some sympathy regarding "North Korea's requirement for reasonable security guarantees and to give North Korea a normal development environment."31
Whilst the US states that it has no intention of attacking North Korea, it is actively pursuing the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), aimed at countering proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missiles. Although the US asserts that PSI is not directed at North Korea, it acknowledges that "North Korea is affected because it is the world's leading proliferator", and that the project involves many of North Korea's neighbours.32
Comments and Reactions
The United States made a show of being upbeat about the second round of Six-Party Talks, despite the limited progress. Colin Powell told reporters, "We are... quite satisfied with the way those talks went. We have come out of those talks with an institutionalized process to move forward in further discussions at working group and plenary level."33
Returning from Beijing, James Kelly told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "We kept the talks focused on our objective: the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear programs, by which we mean both plutonium and uranium enrichment-based programs. It was clear by the conclusion of the talks that this is now very much on the table." This was evidence, according to Kelly, of "a very different, promising atmosphere" at the talks.34
China confirmed that there was no agreement over CVID. Wang Yi noted that North Korea "made clear its readiness" to give up its weapons program "once the United States gives up its so-called 'hostile policy' toward North Korea". However, "the parties did not have consensus on this proposal or the scope of North Korea's giving up nuclear weapons."35
South Korea publicly hailed the second round of talks as "very successful". Lee Soo-Hyuck welcomed the fact that North Korea "did not spurn down South Korea's specific proposal" on a peaceful settlement of the nuclear problem,36 but acknowledged that there had been little movement in the parties negotiating stances. "Overall, the North Korean delegation's positions have not changed from those they expressed in the first round," he said. "They firmly denied that they have a uranium-based nuclear program, and they also did not change their position on security guarantees."37
Japan also welcomed the outcome of the talks. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said that "It was significant that [the six nations] confirmed their common goal of trying to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."38
Russia, however, presented a bleak commentary on the second round of talks. Whilst a bland Foreign Ministry statement described the talks as "useful", Alexander Losyukov said that the talks had produced only "modest results".39 "Of course, to be honest, some flexibility could have been shown by the US in response to the North Korean freeze proposal," he said.40
Shortly before leaving Beijing, Losyukov told ITAR-TASS, "there is a feeling of dissatisfaction, since the negotiators could have achieved more. But this, regrettably, depended on the positions of our leading partners in the talks - the U.S. and North Korea."41 Reuters quoted Losyukov as saying, "If this goes on, mistrust will grow on the Korean peninsula. The situation could be aggravated and military intervention is possible... The North Korean problem is unlikely to be solved before the U.S. election... There are political factors involved here".42
North Korea, claimed to be "disappointed" by the US stance in the talks. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated that, "the U.S. again insisted on its old assertion about the DPRK's abandoning its nuclear program first, saying that it can discuss the DPRK's concerns only when it completely scraps its nuclear program in a verifiable and irreversible manner. This threw a big hurdle in the way of the talks. It also absurdly asserted that it can not normalize relations with the DPRK unless missile, conventional weapons, biological and chemical weapons, human rights and other issues are settled even after its abandonment of all its nuclear programs."43
Ten days later, a further Foreign Ministry statement was issued: "The US reckless stance only pushes the DPRK to further increase its nuclear deterrent force." Mimicking the US call for "CVID", North Korea demanded that the US should "completely drop its hostile policy towards the DPRK in a verifiable and irreversible manner," and claimed that, "The US far-fetched assertion about this program is intended to attack the DPRK under that pretext just as it did against Iraq."44
A long and bumpy road ahead
According to an unnamed US official, prior to the second round of talks a decision was made at the highest levels of the Bush administration that "the criteria for success is that the North Koreans don't walk out." The Washington Post reports that the US was "hoping at best to win North Korea's agreement to hold regular meetings - instead of talks that take place only after months of laborious negotiations. This option could take the form of lower-level 'working groups' which would at least provide the illusion of continued progress." "The motto is 'Do no harm,' " the official is quoted as saying. "This is a placeholder to get us through the election."45
Following the talks, Secretary of State Colin Powell emphasised that the US would be "patient" in pursuing a diplomatic solution and that it did not see any "urgency".46
At the closing ceremony, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing concluded: "The road is longer and more bumpy. But time is on our side. Time is on the side of peace."47
But as North Korea pledged to increase its "nuclear deterrent force", it vowed to take advantage of the delay in achieving a negotiated solution to "take more necessary steps with increased pace".48
1. The six parties are: China, the United States of America, North Korea (formally known as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea), Japan, South Korea (Republic of Korea), and the Russian Federation.
2. Jack Kim and Teruaki Ueno, 'N. Koreans Hesitate at Proposed Joint Statement', Reuters, February 28, 2004.
3. 'Three Features and Five Advancements,' Wang Yi Commenting on the Second Round of Six-Party Talks in Beijing, China Ministry of Foreign Affairs, February 28, 2004. See below.
4. See 'US Envoy visits North Korea, Disarmament Diplomacy 67 (October/November 2002); and 'North Korea Crisis Escalates Amid Consternation and Confusion', Disarmament Diplomacy 68 (December 2002/January 2003)
5. See Nicola Butler, 'North Korea Talks End in Stalemate', Disarmament Diplomacy 73 (October/November 2003).
6. Nicola Butler, 'North Korea: Six Party Nuclear Talks Delayed', Disarmament Diplomacy 75, (January/February 2004).
7. Glenn Kessler, 'Bush Signals Patience on North Korea Is Waning', Washington Post, March 4, 2004.
8. 'Kelly Hopeful North Korea Will Abandon Nuclear Weapons,' Washington File, February 13, 2004.
10. 'N Korea refuses to disclose details of its nuclear programme', ITAR-TASS, February 26, 2004.
11. Anthony Faiola, 'Seoul Urges U.S. 'Flexibility' in Nuclear Talks With North', Washington Post, February 28, 2004.
12. Jae-Suk Yoo, ' U.S., N. Korea Divided After Nuke Talks', Associated Press, February 28, 2004.
13. 'China Says Trust Crucial to Resolving N. Korea Crisis', Reuters, February 29, 2004.
14. 'Spokesman of DPRK Foreign Ministry on Issue of Resumption of Six-Way Talks,' Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) of the DPRK December 9, 2003.
15. 'President Bush and Premier Wen Jiabao Remarks to the Press', Remarks by President Bush and Premier Wen Jiabao in Photo Opportunity, The White House, December 9, 2003.
16. 'State Department Noon Briefing', Washington File, February 19, 2004.
17. Steven R. Weisman and David E. Sanger, 'North Korea May Get Aid if It Pledges Nuclear Curb', New York Times, February 25, 2004.
18. Ted Anthony, 'North Korea Seeks Compensation for Freeze', Associated Press, February 24, 2004.
19. 'N Korea offered energy aid', BBC News Online, February 26, 2004.
20. Audra Ang, 'N. Korea, Nations Convene Nuclear Talks', Associated Press, February 25, 2004.
21. Soo-Jeong Lee, 'Momentum Builds on N. Korea Nuke Crisis', Associated Press, February 22, 2004.
22. Hans Greimel, 'S. Korea Has Plan to End Nukes Standoff', Associated Press, February 20, 2004.
23. 'N Korea condemns US tough position on six-party talks', ITAR-TASS, February 26, 2004.
24. 'Key quotes: Korea nuclear talks', BBC News Online, February 28, 2004.
25. Teruaki Ueno and Jonathan Ansfield, 'N. Korea Talks End with Deep Divisions Laid Bare', Reuters, February 28, 2004.
26. Ted Anthony, ' U.S. Won't Leave Nuclear Talks Early', Associated Press, February 26, 2004.
27. 'DPRK discusses resumption of IAEA inspections', ITAR-TASS, February 24, 2004.
28. 'Introductory Statement to the Board of Governors by IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei', March 8, 2004.
29. 'Statement by the French Foreign Ministry Spokesperson', Paris, February 3, 2004.
30. Joe McDonald, 'Talks on N. Korea End Without Settlement', Associated Press, February 28, 2004.
31. Elaine Kurtenbach, 'N. Korea Proposes Stopping Nuke Activities', Associated Press, February 26, 2004.
32. 'Kelly Hopeful North Korea Will Abandon Nuclear Weapons,' Washington File, February 13, 2004.
33. 'Powell Says U.S. Committed to Six-Party Talks on North Korea', Washington File, March 4, 2004.
34. 'Korean Talks Made Progress on Several Fronts, Kelly Says', Washington File, March 2, 2004.
35. Joe McDonald, 'Talks on N. Korea End Without Settlement', Associated Press, February 28, 2004.
36. 'S. Korea calls six-party talks on nuclear problem "very successful"', ITAR-TASS, February 29, 2004.
37. Hans Greimel, ' Officials: N. Korea Denies Uranium Program', Associated Press, March 4, 2004.
38. 'Fukuda supports 6 nations' agreements as 'significant'', Kyodo, February 28, 2004.
39. Teruaki Ueno and Jonathan Ansfield, 'N. Korea Talks End with Deep Divisions Laid Bare', Reuters, February 28, 2004.
40. 'Key quotes: Korea nuclear talks', BBC News Online, February 28, 2004.
41. 'Talks on N. Korea nuke problem largely depend on working group', ITAR-TASS, February 29, 2004.
42. Tom Miles, 'Russia Warns of Worsening N. Korea Situation-Agencies', Reuters, February 29, 2004.
43. 'DPRK Foreign Ministry Spokesman on Six-way Talks', KCNA, February 29, 2004.
44. 'Spokesman for DPRK FM Denounces U.S. Reckless Stand at Six-way Talks', KCNA, March 10, 2004.
45. Glenn Kessler, 'Hopes Lowered for U.S.-N. Korea Talks', Washington Post, February 20, 2004.
46. 'Powell Says U.S. Committed to Six-Party Talks on North Korea', Washington File, March 4, 2004.
47. Jack Kim and Teruaki Ueno, 'N. Korea Talks End with 'Serious Differences'', Reuters, February 28, 2004.
48. 'Spokesman for DPRK FM Denounces U.S. Reckless Stand at Six-way Talks', KCNA, March 10, 2004.
1. The Second Round of Six-Party Talks was held in Beijing among the People's Republic of China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and the United States of America from 25th to 28th of February, 2004.
2. The heads of delegations were Mr. Wang Yi, Vice Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of PRC; Mr. Kim Gye Gwan, Vice Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of DPRK; Ambassador Mitoji Yabunaka, Director-General for the Asian and Oceanian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan; Ambassador Lee Soo-hyuck, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the ROK; Ambassador A. Losyukov, Vice Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia; Mr. James A. Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, United States Department of State.
3. The Parties agreed that the second round of the Six-Party Talks had launched the discussion on substantive issues, which was beneficial and positive, and that the attitudes of all parties were serious in the discussion. Through the talks, while differences remained, the Parties enhanced their understanding of each other's positions.
4. The Parties expressed their commitment to a nuclear-weapon-free Korean Peninsula, and to resolving the nuclear issue peacefully through dialogue in a spirit of mutual respect and consultations on an equal basis, so as to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and the region at large.
5. The Parties expressed their willingness to coexist peacefully. They agreed to take coordinated steps to address the nuclear issue and address the related concerns.
6. The Parties agreed to continue the process of the talks and agreed in principle to hold the third round of the Six-Party Talks in Beijing no later than the end of the second quarter of 2004. They agreed to set up a working group in preparation for the plenary. The terms of reference of the working group will be established through diplomatic channels.
7. The delegations of the DPRK, Japan, the ROK, Russia and the USA have expressed their appreciation to the Chinese side for the efforts aimed at the successful staging of the two rounds of the Six-Party Talks.
Source: China Ministry for Foreign Affairs, http://www.fmprc.gov.cn.
'Three Features and Five Advancements,' Wang Yi Commenting on the Second Round of Six-Party Talks in Beijing, February 28, 2004
Chairman of the Second Round of Six-Party Talks in Beijing, Head of the Chinese Delegation and Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Beijing on February 28, 2004 that the meeting has demonstrated three features and achieved five advancements, and China would remain committed to promoting the process of a peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue with a fair and just stance.
Wang Yi held a press conference for domestic and international media in Diaoyutai Hotel after the conclusion of the second round of six-party talks.
Three Features and Five Advancements
Wang Yi said that this meeting had been in-depth, pragmatic and conducive. The main features are as follows: 1) It launched discussions on substantive issues, signalling the process of the talks was going forward. 2) The parties retained a sober and constructive attitude, symbolizing that the meeting was going mature. 3) The forms of the meeting were more open and flexible, indicating the growing confidence of the parties in the meeting.
Wang Yi summed up the major advancements of the second round of six-party talks as follows: 1) It successfully boosted the discussion on substantive issues. 2) It reaffirmed taking coordinated steps to solve issues. 3) It issued the first statement since the launch of the peace-talk process. 4) It defined the timing and place for the third round of talks. 5) It agreed to set up a working group to mechanize the talks.
He said, these five advancements have laid foundations for future talks and paved the way for resolving the nuclear issue peacefully. He also point out that due to the complicatedness of the nuclear issue, the parties had different or even contradictory positions. However, it was important to note that differences were narrowing, consensus was expanding and the hopes for peace were increasing.
Three Issues on the Agenda
Wang Yi introduced the major subjects of this meeting. The first subject was the objective of resolving the nuclear issue. The DPRK reaffirmed its willingness to give up nuclear programs, indicating that it would dismantle its nuclear weapon development programs so long as the US abandoned its hostile policies toward the country. The US further explained its policies toward the DPRK, reiterating that it had no hostility to the nation and no intention of invading the country or attempting a regime change in the DPRK and saying that it hoped to normalize relations with the DPRK after its concerns were addressed. The parties agreed to settle the issue of security guarantee in written forms acceptable to all parties. The parties also discussed the concept of CVID (complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling) proposed by the US for the objective of nuclear dismantlement but no consensus has been achieved on the definition and range of nuclear dismantlement.
The second was the first-phase steps for the settlement of the nuclear issue. The DPRK offered to freeze its nuclear activities as the first step of dismantlement, saying that it also expected other countries to take corresponding actions. China, the ROK and Russia pledged to provide energy assistance to the DPRK on certain conditions. The US and Japan acknowledged and understood the DPRK's needs for energy. Japan said it would provide large-scale economic assistance to the DPRK after bilateral relations were normalized. Issues on the range of nuclear freezing and inspections are subjects for further discussions.
The third is the continuation of the peace-talk process. The parties agreed to keep on the peace-talk process, to hold the third round of six-party talks no later than the end of June and to set up a working group.
Chairman's Statement Is the Consensus of the Six-Party Talks and A Working Group will be Set up as Early as Possible
Wang Yi stressed that the six parties had conducted discussions in an in-depth manner on the written document during this round of talks and finally issued it to the public in the form of Chairman's Statement. The statement collected the consensus of the parties and was recognized by the parties. It has sent positive and important messages to the world.
Wang Yi said it was one of the achievements of this meeting that the parties agreed to set up a working group. As for how the working group will be established and operated, China will consult with the other five parties through diplomatic channels in a bid to set it up as early as possible. Setting up the working group is for the next round of talks and will not take too long.
Confidence over Future Prospects
Wang Yi said that the bifurcations between the DPRK and the US did exist, with some of them being sharp and even contradictory. The lack of trust was the major reason underlying the bifurcations. With historical factors, Cold-War background and conflicts of realistic interests all mixed up, the nuclear issue was an extremely complicated formula.
He emphasized that despite all the difficulties, if the parties demonstrate firm political will, give full play to their diplomatic wisdom and make sustained efforts, solutions will surely be identified to fix the crux and realize a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula ultimately.
Source: China Ministry for Foreign Affairs, http://www.fmprc.gov.cn.
'Kelly Hopeful North Korea Will Abandon Nuclear Weapons', Excerpts from remarks by James A. Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs to the Conference "North Korea: Towards a New International Engagement Framework", Washington, DC, February 13, 2004 Washington File, February 13, 2004.
For six decades, the threat of war on the Korean Peninsula has been one of the chief concerns of American foreign and security policy. While the Republic of Korea has, in recent decades, developed into a leading member of the international community, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea took a historic wrong turn from the very start of its existence. The result has been self-induced isolation resulting in insecurity for the regime and enormous suffering for the people of North Korea. In addition, the regime has become a source of global concern by its widely spread proliferation and illicit activities...
...North Korea needs to make a strategic choice and make it clear to the world, as Libya has done, that it will abandon its nuclear weapons and programs in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner. Two days ago, President Bush - in a most important speech - called on other regimes to follow the example of Libya. As he put it, abandoning the pursuit of illegal weapons can lead to better relations with the United States, and other free nations. Continuing to seek those weapons will not bring security or international prestige, but only political isolation, economic hardship and other unwelcome consequences...
...Ten years ago, we believed we were on the road toward ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program, once and for all... In the summer of 2002, however, the United States discovered that North Korea had not kept its part of the bargain. We learned conclusively that it was pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program based not on plutonium but on uranium enrichment. This was a clear violation of North Korea's obligations to South Korea under the Joint Denuclearization Declaration of 1992 and to the international community under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the DPRK's Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
It was also a fundamental breach of the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework, which aimed to achieve peace and security on a nuclear-free Korean peninsula. By the way, our negotiator of the Agreed Framework, Ambassador Robert Gallucci, left the North Koreans in no doubt that any uranium enrichment program would break the Agreed Framework. As he testified to Congress in December, 1994, the Agreed Framework requires the DPRK to implement the North-South Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, which precludes any reprocessing or enrichment capability. If there were ever any move to enrich, Ambassador Gallucci told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, we would argue they were not in compliance with the Agreed Framework.
The matter was extremely serious. North Korea's goal appeared to be a plant that could produce enough weapons-grade uranium for two or more nuclear weapons per year when fully operational....
...In fact, the recent confession of Pakistan's A.Q. Khan suggests that, if anything, the North Korean HEU program is of longer duration and more advanced than we had assessed...
...We insist on the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of all of North Korea's nuclear programs because we must not again allow a situation in which the North's dismantlement of its nuclear arms program is put off into the distant future, as it was under the Agreed Framework. That would permit North Korea, at any time, to resume its use of nuclear threats to blackmail the international community.
We will not be satisfied with a resolution that is not complete. North Korea must dismantle not only its plutonium program but also its uranium enrichment program and its existing nuclear weapons.
We will not be satisfied with a resolution that is not verifiable. In this regard, the burden is not on the international community but on North Korea to come clean. As the Libya cases illustrates, there are ways that North Korea can do this as a sovereign country. It is certainly in North Korea's interests, as it is in Libya's.
We will not be satisfied with a reversible solution. This must be once and for all. North Korea's nuclear programs and facilities must be dismantled, and never reconstituted. Mechanisms can be found to do this that are reasonable. This will not be difficult to accomplish once North Korea has made a fundamental decision to abandon its nuclear programs....
North Korea has an opportunity to change its path. As some Americans might put it there is a chance for redemption. The examples of Libya, Ukraine, South Africa and others demonstrate that there is real reason for hope that North Korea will eventually respond. States, even those with existing nuclear arms, can decide that abandoning nuclear weapons is in their interests. Presumably, the intention of the DPRK leadership in embracing nuclear weapons was to enhance the regime's security and status. Clearly, the effect has been the opposite. With continued international solidarity, there is good reason to believe that North Korea will eventually rethink its assumptions and reverse course. The Six-Party Talks offer North Korea a path toward international responsibility and increased well being for its people. The United States sincerely hopes that the DPRK will take the opportunity.
Source: US State Department, Washington File, http://usinfo.state.gov.
© 2004 The Acronym Institute.