Text Only | Disarmament Diplomacy | Disarmament Documentation | ACRONYM Reports
back to the acronym home page
WMD Possessors
About Acronym

Disarmament Documentation

Back to Disarmament Documentation

US-Japan Ministerial Meeting, Washington, December 16: Comment on Iraq, North Korea, Missile Defence

'Press Availability: Two Plus Two Ministerial with US Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, US Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Her Excellency Yoriko Kawaguchi, and Director General, Defense Agency of Japan, His Excellency Shigeru Ishiba, December 16, 2002, Loy Henderson Auditorium, Washington, D.C.'; US Department of State, Office of the Spokesman, December 16.

US Secretary of State Colin L. Powell: ... Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and I have just completed very good meetings with our colleagues, Japanese Foreign Minister Kawaguchi and Minister of State for Defense Ishiba. Our meetings took place in the context of the US-Japan Security Consultative Committee, also known as the Two Plus Two. As you may recall, we were not able to meet last year because of the September 11th attacks, so I am very pleased that we were able today to resume our meetings. We spent much of our time discussing the war on terrorism. Japan has been a good friend and close ally in the international coalition against terrorism and we appreciate the sense of commitment our Japanese friends conveyed today as we continue this very important campaign. We also discussed the full range of issues that come within the scope of our security alliance. On the situation in Iraq, we agreed on the need for full Iraqi compliance with all United Nations Security Council resolutions. We also agreed to coordinate closely should Iraq fail to cooperate with the international community. We also agreed that North Korea's December 12th announcement that it would restart its nuclear power generation and construction program is a regrettable step backward for the DPRK. We call on the DPRK to reconsider this decision. We noted that the international community, including Russia, China and the European Union, is united in calling for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. As President Bush has said repeatedly, the United States seeks a peaceful resolution to this problem. We have no intention of attacking North Korea. Quite the contrary, we have been working with the Japanese and the South Koreans and the Russians and the Chinese in reaching out to North Korea to try to assist them with their problems of poverty, with their economic problems. And that effort to move forward in dialogue with North Korea has been stopped and put back by North Korea's actions with respect to enriching uranium. And their announcement to also open up [their nuclear reactors at] Yongbyon has complicated our efforts to reach out to North Korea. North Korea must respect international nonproliferation regimes and honor its commitments under the NPT, its IAEA Safeguards Agreement, the South-North Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and the US-North Korea Agreed Framework. We strongly support IAEA Director General El Baradei's call on North Korea not to take any unilateral actions that might further complicate the IAEA's ability to verify the North's inventory of nuclear material. North Korea's decision to lift the freeze on its nuclear facilities flies in the face of the international consensus that the North Korean regime must fulfill all its commitments and, in particular, dismantle its covert nuclear weapons program in a complete and verifiable manner. The United States will not enter into dialogue in response to threats or broken commitments and we will not bargain or offer inducements for North Korea to live up to the treaties and agreements it has signed. We seek a peaceful resolution and will continue the closest consultation with our friends in the region, and especially with Japan. We also had a productive discussion of missile defense in which we agreed that missile defense is an increasingly viable and attractive option, given the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz and I welcome the important role missile defense plays in Japan's strategic considerations and look forward to continuing to work closely with Japan on this issue. ...

Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi: ... We discussed various matters, but in our meeting today we confirmed that while a peaceful resolution is desirable for the weapons of mass destruction issue of Iraq, our countries will cooperate and coordinate even more closely should the international community need to take further action in accordance with the UN resolution. With regard to the North Korean issue, which includes the nuclear and missile issues as well, we will closely coordinate our positions in order to work with perseverance for their peaceful resolution. And we reaffirmed that it is important for Japan, the United States and the Republic of Korea to maintain close coordination, and that North Korea, in response to the message of the international community, needs to, in the first place, dismantle their nuclear weapons related program. It is important for North Korea to fully understand that point. ...

US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz: ... As Secretary Powell mentioned, we discussed a number of important regional and international security issues, perhaps most significantly Iraq and Korea, and we had extensive discussions about our very close defense cooperation, including in the area of missile defense, where we believe that Japan, with its advanced technology and advanced science capabilities, can contribute to its own defense and to ours in joint cooperative efforts which we look forward to implementing. ...

Japanese Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba: ... I believe we are faced with challenges of an entirely new age. And how are we to respond to them? How are we to deter them? On this question, I believe Japan and the US side have been able to share a common perception that I believe has been very useful. Also, terrorism is seen as a challenge against freedom and democracy, and therefore we need to eradicate terrorism. On this point, again, I believe it is very important that our two countries see eye to eye. With regard to ballistic missile defense and other issues, I believe we have found common ground in many cases and the question now is how Japan, with its own initiative, address this question. That, I believe, is the homework assignment given to us. ...

Question: Mr. Secretary, North Korea is saying the signing of a non-aggression treaty with the United States is the only way to prevent a war on the Peninsula. You said in your remarks today that the US has no intention of attacking North Korea. Is there a virtue in trying to commit that to formalize that in some way?

Secretary Powell: The first thing that has to be done is for North Korea to stop this activity with respect to enriched uranium or putting their reactor back online by removing plutonium from the stocks at Yongbyon. And then we can determine how to move forward with respect to dialogue. North Korea knows the United States does not intend to start a war with North Korea. All of our friends in the region know it. The President has made this clear repeatedly, as have I, as have other members of the administration. And the issue of a treaty suggests that we should pay something right now for their misbehavior. What we can't do and won't do is reward North Korea for its misbehavior. The whole international community has expressed a willingness to assist North Korea during this time of difficulty with respect to starvation, with respect to a lack of energy, with respect to a failing economy. You have to keep in mind that when this story broke a few months ago, Japan had committed to starting to move forward with respect to normalization, we had begun to open routes north for railroad lines to go from South Korea to North Korea. The community, the international community, was responding to North Korea's needs and what appeared to be some reaching out on the part of North Korea. It all went in the other direction when it became clear they were enriching uranium. This is the time for North Korea to make it known to the world that they will not do that and they will not take any precipitous action with respect to their facilities and the reactor at Yongbyon. Then we can move forward. ...

Question: ... North Korea has announced its reactivation of nuclear facilities and construction, and the situation on the Korean Peninsula has become tougher. But the Japanese side wishes to proceed with dialogue with North Korea, but the United States is not in position to engage in dialogue with North Korea, so the positions of the two countries differ...

Minister Kawaguchi: Well, between the governments of Japan and the United States, I think you suggested that there is a fundamental difference of position. Actually, between our two governments there is no difference, no fundamental difference of position - absolutely none in that respect. That said, we did discuss nuclear development by North Korea in our meeting earlier today. Now, to resolve this matter in a peaceful manner, Japan, US, and the Republic of Korea will need to maintain a close coordination, and that is extremely important. And as Secretary Powell mentioned, North Koreans will first have to dismantle their uranium enrichment program. They need to do that in the first instance. And then under the Framework Agreement, the freezing of related facilities need to be maintained. That is a message that Japan has communicated to North Korea on numerous occasions. So there is no difference in the awareness of our two countries, nor any difference between our two countries in terms of the response we take. Now, Japan is engaged in normalization talks with North Korea; in other words, we do have a channel for dialogue with DPRK. And through that channel, we've been communicating to DPRK the sort of thing that I said...

Secretary Powell: I agree completely with my colleague. Our positions are identical. We have been in the closest touch on this matter since the very beginning, not only with Japan, but with South Korea, with Russia and with China. The United States is not seeking to precipitate a crisis. And there are ways for North Korea to communicate with us and for us to communicate with North Korea. And we stand ready to move forward once North Korea does what I believe it is obliged to do, and that is to end this activity with respect to the enrichment of uranium and to, frankly, pull back from the decisions that they made last week concerning the removal of cameras and seals and other protection items from their reactor facility and the construction site. ...

Question: Mr. Secretary and Mr. Wolfowitz, can either of you offer an evaluation of the 12,000-page document that the Iraqis gave to the UN based on the US assessment of these documents? And if Iraq isn't forthcoming in providing lists of scientists or access to scientists, is this a redline issue for this government?

Secretary Powell: We have been analyzing the declaration for a week now, and we have received some preliminary reports, but the analysis is continuing and I will wait for the task force working on it to complete their work before making a definitive statement. We said at the very beginning that we approached it with skepticism, and the information I have received so far is that that skepticism is well founded. There are problems with the declaration. We are sharing the problems we see with UNMOVIC and IAEA and we are in discussions with the other permanent members of the Security Council. But we will withhold making a final judgment or final statement until we have completed our analysis, completed our discussions with UNMOVIC and IAEA and our colleagues on the permanent membership of the Security Council, and then statements will be forthcoming, I expect, toward the end of the week after Dr. Blix makes his presentation to the Security Council on Thursday. The Resolution 1441 provides for those who need to be interviewed to be made available, and if Iraq does not comply with that requirement of the resolution, I'm sure the international community will take note and decide what action is appropriate. But I would not like to characterize what might or might not happen in the future at this point. ...

Question: ... My question is as follows, and that is Japan's coordination regarding the Iraqi situation. The four of you, in your respective initial remarks, did refer to Iraq. In case new international cooperation is needed vis-à-vis Iraqi situation, I understand you confirmed in your meeting that Japan and US will engage in close coordination. When you speak of new international cooperation, I believe you envisage military action against Iraq. If that military action against Iraq becomes inevitable, Japan has various legal constraints, and therefore cannot have its self-defense forces participate in combat action. So I wonder what sort of assistance US considers would be appropriate by Japan or what sort of assistance the US would hope to get from Japan, and I wonder what sort of support Japan considers it possible to provide.

Secretary Powell: President Bush, and I think all world leaders, hope that this matter can be resolved peacefully. But if Iraq does not cooperate and, once again, violates a UN resolution, then I believe the international community has an obligation to act and do whatever is necessary to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction, and that includes the use of military force. It remains to be seen whether Iraq will cooperate. It remains to be seen what the UN will do in the absence of cooperation. With respect to what Japan might or might not do, consistent with their basic laws and their constitution, that's an issue I really must yield to my colleague to address and I would not speculate other than to say that we are in the closest coordination and it is up to the Government of Japan and the people of Japan to determine how they might respond in the face of a mandate from the international community to do something about Iraq's lack of cooperation.

Minister Kawaguchi: In our meeting today, as I mentioned earlier, we exchanged our views on Iraq, and of course a peaceful resolution is most desirable, but if further action by the international community would become necessary in accordance with the Security Council resolution, then our two countries will engage an even closer coordination. That is what we said. As far as Japan is concerned, should there be material breach of the UN resolution, and military action becomes inevitable, then what response would Japan take? Now, in the first place, we have to remember that the problem is caused by the weapons of mass destruction of Iraq and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. So Japan sees this as a challenge for the entire international community. Japan, as a responsible member of the international community, needs to consider what action, what response will be appropriate for Japan as a responsible member of the international community. And we have to decide on that with our own initiative, support for refugee[s], support for the neighboring countries around Iraq. These are possible areas we will have to take into consideration - these and other options. And we are, in fact, currently considering all sorts of possibilities. We communicated this to the US side. A special envoy of the Prime Minister visited neighboring countries of Iraq. At that time, the special envoy explained that in case there is military action, refugee assistance and assistance for the neighboring countries would be necessary, or rather, these were the points raised by the neighboring countries. So we'll keep in mind various possibilities. ...

Question: ... There's another country whose nuclear and WMD program has been in the news of late, and that is Russia - excuse me, Iran. ... And there's a report in a paper today that says that the US believes that Russia has been supplying...the Iranian nuclear program, not just for peaceful means for energy, but for nuclear weapons. Has anyone in the [Bush] administration spoken either with Iran to send a warning there - can we expect a similar action as was taken in the UN toward Iraq? - and have you spoken with the Russians about this recently?

Secretary Powell: It is a matter of continuing discussion with the Russians. Ever since the administration came into office, Presidents Bush and Putin have discussed it on a number of occasions, and it is a subject of discussion foreign ministry to foreign ministry and defense ministry to defense ministry. Russia has been providing support to Iranian power generation nuclear plans. We've always found it curious as to why Iran would need nuclear power when they are so blessed with other means of generating electricity, and thereby that kind of leads to the possibility of proliferation. And we have had conversations with Russia that we are concerned about this and that some of the support they are providing might well go to developing nuclear weapons within Iran, and it will continue to be a matter of discussion with us and the Russians. With respect to messages delivered to Iran, I have no comment on that. We haven't delivered a particular message, but it is a matter of continuing assessment on our part. ...

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz: Very little to add, except to say that it's not an accident that in the State of the Union message President Bush spoke about those three countries [Iraq, Iran, North Korea]. It's also the case that each one is different in its level of threat that it poses and the state of its programs, and also in where we stand with respect to the international community in addressing common solutions to the problem. And that's why each one of these has got to be approached in a different fashion. ...

Question: [inaudible question about possibility of war on Korean Peninsular]

Secretary Powell: I don't know that I would characterize the situation as being on the verge of war. The United States has no plans to attack North Korea and I see no indication that North Korea, however concerned it might be, is taking any action that would suggest we are on the verge of war from them attacking south. It is a difficult situation. It is a dangerous situation. And the way to get away from this situation, to step back from it, is for North Korea to comply with its obligations under existing agreements with respect to developing weapons of mass destruction. So if there is any concern about war, that concern has been raised by North Korea's actions, not the actions on the part of the United States or any other member of the international community or any other state in the region. Every state in the area, every nation in the area - Japan, South Korea, Russia, China - all have been saying the same thing: We do not want to see nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula; North Korea is moving in this direction; it is time for North Korea to step back and worry not about nuclear weapons, but to worry about people who are starving, people who do not have electricity, an economy that is in desperate need, and an international community that wishes to help North Korea. Let me remind everyone that the United States is the largest provider of food to North Korea and so we would not do that if we thought we were on the verge of war. We want to help the North Korean people. We do not want to attack the North Korean people. And the way to move forward, not just with the United States but with all of the other nations that I have touched on, is for North Korea to step back from these steps they have taken, from these actions they have taken in recent months, and we can find a way forward if they were to act in a more responsible way.

Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz: I would only add that it should be obvious the real threat the North Korea's security comes from the collapsing state of its economy and that the world, including both the United States and Japan, have made it clear, amply clear, that our willingness to assist in that recovery if North Korea will honor the agreements that it has already made to get rid of weapons of mass destruction. It's really up to North Korea, and I think that's how they can address what is clearly the most serious problem they face.

Back to the Top of the Page

© 2002 The Acronym Institute.