The North Korean Nuclear/Missile Crisis Dr. Clay Moltz Center for Nonproliferation Studies Monterey Institute of International Studies October 2003
Current Crisis • October 2002—U.S. accuses DPRK of cheating • U.S. cuts off heavy fuel oil • DPRK withdraws from NPT; demands security assurances • DPRK restarts reactors, ousts IAEA inspectors • DPRK now says it is building bombs • How did we get here?
Overview • Roots of “Korean Peninsula” nuclear crisis: • no treaty to end Korean War • South Korean crisis (1970s) • last communist state • Crisis raises alliance and security dilemmas • Poses questions for future nuclear/missile controls
History of the North Korean Nuclear Program • Soviet assistance in civilian nuclear field • Post-Korean War agreement on nuclear training (1956) • Soviet provision of a 2 MWt research reactor • Yongbyon reactor installed in 1965 • Possible planning for weapons capability
South Korean Nuclear Program • Nuclear power program in 1950s and 60s • U.S. deploys tactical nuclear weapons in S. Korea; but begins force cuts in 1970s • South Korean reacts with domestic nuclear weapons program in 1970s • U.S. negotiates end to S. Korean program, but with a cost • Precedent of “rewarding” a proliferator
DPRK Decision-Making: 1970s • Fear of ROK cheating • Increasing political isolation from China and Soviet Union • Beginning to lose economic race with South • Drive to develop independent nuclear capability (for power, weapons, or both)
Nuclear Expansion in 1980s • Weapons research, uranium mining/milling, and fuel fabrication facilities opened • 20 MWt (5 MWe) research reactor in Yongbyon • Construction of two power plants begun (gas-graphite reactors) • Power reactor deal with Soviets; DPRK forces to join NPT (1985) Outside of Yongbyon-1 reactor Yongbyon 20 MWt (5 MWe) reactor
DPRK Missile Program • Attempts to produce Chinese missiles • Scuds from Egypt reverse-engineered • Development of independent production capability • Cooperation with states in Middle East; exports to Iran (War of the Cities) • Development of Nodong missile
International Nuclear Issues: Early 1990s • U.S. withdraws tactical nuclear weapons from ROK • Bilateral denuclearization agreement with South (1991) • IAEA safeguards agreement (1991) and DPRK facilities declaration (1992) • IAEA inspections reveal discrepancies
Agreed Framework and KEDO • IAEA calls for special inspection (February 1993) • DPRK initiates withdrawal from NPT (March 1993) • Jimmy Carter visits Pyongyang (July 1994) • Agreed Framework (October 1994) • Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) (1995)
Emerging Missile Concerns (late 1990s) • Beyond the Nodong • Rumsfeld Commission Report (July 1998) • Taepodong I test over Japan (August 1998) • Satellite or missile test? • Exports and financial incentives
Taepodong I Test (August 1998)
Other North Korean WMD Programs • Biological Weapons • Several facilities • Inadequate technologies • Problems of domestic health system/control • Chemical Weapons • Numerous facilities (stockpile of 5,000 tons) • Evidence of warheads • Threat to U.S. forces and ROK
Progress and Problems pre-2000 • Delays in Agreed Framework • Missile test/moratorium for food aid • Normalization of relations (Italy, Australia, UK); economic engagement (South Korean tourism) • But apparent DPRK nuclear cheating • Clinton fails to reach missile deal
U.S.-DPRK Relations Today • Pres. Bush’s distrust of Agreed Framework • “Axis of evil” speech and DPRK fears • October 2002, April 2003, August 2003 DPRK threats and nuclear claims • Agreed Framework frozen
How Far is DPRK from a Bomb? • Pu on hand: 12-20 kg. • Pu in spent fuel rods that could be reprocessed: 25 kg. • Pu production of 5 kg./year at Yongbyon • Future uranium enrichment and other Pu reactors?
How Far is the DPRK from an ICBM? • Limitations (payloads, CEPs, numbers) • Multiple stages and range extension • Taepodong II and CONUS: terror weapon • Japan? • Is a deal possible?
Current Dilemmas • DPRK need for electricity, food, investment, and security • U.S. distaste for “propping up” Kim; but lack of attractive military options • Mutual dissatisfaction with Agreed Framework • DPRK’s view: no reactors, no security guarantees • U.S. view: weapons research ongoing, reactors risky
Current Policy Options • Pressure DPRK (join with allies/IAEA and force Kim to back down) • Appease Kim (buy him off using security guarantees and economic tools) • Deal with Kim (negotiate destruction of weapons programs, but provide aid for economy)—Combination
Conclusion • Nuclear/missile threat is increasing over time (how to stop the clock?) • Using incentives while ensuring compliance • Longer-term requirement: halting “demand” for weapons within North Korea • New framework for Korean Peninsula