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Explaining North Korean Nuclear Crisis. Lecture Note for Pease Studies II October 24, 2007 Sung Chull Kim Hiroshima Peace institute. Preliminary questions. What is the nature of North Korean problem, that is, the nuclear weapons development? And how is the process for a solution going on?

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Explaining North Korean Nuclear Crisis

Lecture Note for Pease Studies II

October 24, 2007

Sung Chull Kim

Hiroshima Peace institute


Preliminary questions

  • What is the nature of North Korean problem, that is, the nuclear weapons development? And how is the process for a solution going on?

  • How has the North Korean nuclear issue been intermingled with the abduction issue?


North Korea in Northeast Asia


North Korea Profile

  • Population: 22,697,553 (July 2004 est.)

  • Population growth rate: 0.98% (2004 est.)

  • Life expectancy at birth: total population: 71.08 years, male: 68.38 years, female: 73.92 years (2004 est.)

  • Natural resources: coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron ore, copper, gold (no oil or natural gas)

  • Land use: arable land 20.76%

  • Food shortage: around 2million tons per year


Nature of North Korean nuclear crisis and nuclear test

  • On October 9, 2006, North Korea conducted nuclear test.

  • The Six-Party Talks are going on to make North Korea to give up the nuclear weapons development project.

    - 6 countries: North Korea, South Korea, the United States, China, Japan, Russia

  • Why nuclear weapons?

    - Reflection of North Korea’s perceived insecurity in the post-Cold War period

    (Both domestic and international)


Background of the crisis (I): international level

  • For North Korea, the U.S. has been the “key” to solve all the diplomatic problems.


Background(I): international level (continue)US sanctions on North Korea

  • The U.S. domestic laws and regulations has denied since 1953

    • (Trading with Enemy Act, Commercial Control List)

    • (list of Terrorism-supporting countries)

      - any loans or credit facilities from international financial institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank

      - the status of “beneficiary developing country” under the U.S. Generalized System of Preference

      - approval for application to investment risk insurance programs in the Overseas Private Investment Corporation

    • a grant from U.S. agricultural commodities to developing and least developed countries

  • The U.S. influence over international financial flow

    - example: financial sanction against the North Korean accounts in Banco Delta Asia in Macao


Background(I): international level (continue)Regime competition with South Korea

  • Refer to the lecture in spring

    - division, 1945

    - Korean War, 1950-53

    - confrontation and competition after the war

    - recent development of inter-Korean relations, but fear of South Korean influence


Background(II): domestic level

  • Economic crisis erupted in junction with the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

    - shortage of (1) energy, (2) foreign currency, (3) food

  • Death of Kim Il Sung in 1994


Kim Il Sung’s death and transfer of power to Kim Jong-il in 1994


“Arduous March”


Transitions for survival


Chronology of Nuclear Crises

  • 1991: South-North Basic Agreement

  • 1992: South-North Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

    1. no nuclear weapons

    2. use of nuclear energy solely for peaceful purpose

    3. no nuclear reprocessing, no uranium enrichment


Chronology, continue

  • 1992: IAEA inspects nuclear facility at Yongbyon and concludes there are inconsistencies between North Korea's declaration and inspection results

  • 1993: IAEA request special inspection on the two unreported, suspect, facilities (waste storages)/ North Korea’s rejection

  • 1993: North Korea’s exit of NPT and declaration of state of semi-war (the 1st nuclear crisis)

  • 1994: Former President Carter visits North Korea; Kim Il Sung offers to freeze North Korea's nuclear program in return for high-level talks between the U.S. and North Korea.

  • 1994: U.S. and North Korea conclude the Geneva Agreed Framework. (see next)


(Agreed Framework, Oct. 1994)

  • Freeze of nuclear facilities: NK’s freeze of graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities, being compensated by US’ arrangement of light-water reactor (LWR) power plants with a generating capacity of 2,000 MW(e) by 2003

  • Dismantlement: Dismantlement of the frozen facilities, when the LWR project is completed

  • Normalization: US and NK move toward full normalization of political and economic relations

  • In 1995, Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) was established for the construction of two light-water nuclear reactors in North Korea.


Chronology, continue

  • 2000: summit between South and North Koreas (Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong Il), “Joint Declaration”

  • 2002: summit between Japan and North Korea (Koizumi Junichiro and Kim Jong Il), “Pyongyang Declaration”

  • 2002: North Korea allegedly confessed its nuclear project based on highly enriched uranium (HEU) to James Kelly, special envoy from the United States (the 2nd nuclear crisis)

  • 2002: KEDO decides the stop of sending of heavy oil to North Korea.

  • 2002: North Korea expels IAEA inspection teams.

  • 2003: North Korea declares the exit from NPT.

  • 2005: declaration of nuclear state status

  • 2005: Joint Statement of the 4th Round of the Six-Party Talks (see next)

  • 2005: dissolution of KEDO

  • 2006: missile launches

  • 2006: underground nuclear test

  • 2007: shut down of nuclear facilities


Quest for solution: Six-Party Talks

  • Participants: North Korea, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea, US

    - China’s active role for moderating especially the differences between North Korea and Japan

    Joint Statement of the 4th Six-Party talks: 19th Sept. 2005

  • - Verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, DPRK’s abandoning of nuclear weapons and nuclear programs; US of no intention of invasion, 1992 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula as the benchmark, future discussion about provision of light water reactor

  • - abiding the Charter of UN and recognition of norms of international relations, normalization of DPRK-US, NK-Japan relations;

  • - economic assistance to NK, energy aid by the five countries, power aid of 2 million kw by ROK;

  • - efforts for the peace and stability in Northeast Asia, peace regime talk at a separate forum;

  • - principle of “commitment for commitment, action for action”


Progresses and obstacles in the de-nuclearization

  • Progresses

    - shut-down of nuclear facilities in North Korea in July 2007

    - prospective disablement of nuclear facilities and clarification of nuclear-related issues by the end of December 2007

  • Obstacles

    - lack of coordination among the six countries, each of whom has one’s own strategy and objectives

    - the existing distrust between the U.S. and North Korea, on the one hand, and Japan and North Korea


Status of abduction issue

  • Abduction issue in the context of normalization talks

  • Previously (before Sept. 2005), the abduction issue was considered a bilateral issue.

  • Now (after Sept. 2005), the abduction issue is linked to the multilateral context, particularly to the Six-Party Talks.


Concluding remarks

  • The Korean peninsular still remains “the last remaining island of the Cold War” because of the division between two Koreas, both of which maintain heavily armed military forces.

  • For North Korea, the U.S still remains the key enemy, in spite of some progress in the U.S.-North Korea relations particularly at the Six-Party Talks for the denuclearization of North Korea.

  • The future in the abduction issue, the most sensitive issue in Japan-North Korea relations, seems to be linked to the process of the denuclearization.

  • Engagement with North Korea by neighbors, especially the U.S. and Japan, is essential for inducing North Korea’s cooperation.


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