U.S. State Department Geographic Bureaus: East Asia and Pacific Bureau

OCTOBER 25, 1994


OCTOBER 25, 1994

MS. SHELLY: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm going to kick off with an announcement . . . and then after that I'll be happy to turn to our star attraction for today's briefing, Robert Gallucci, who is well and largely and favorably known to all of you and certainly a frequent briefer here in this room. He is going to give you just a bit of an update on the Korean nuclear issue.

AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: Thanks Christine. Good afternoon. I know most of you have had an opportunity to look at the framework document that we negotiated with the DPRK. So I will not try to bring you through it again in a presentation.

But I do want to make a couple of points about the agreed framework, partly because I'm still reading stories which misstate the terms or language of the agreement. I think it's particularly important, as you write stories and describe that which we think we have done that I ask you please you try to put both sides of an agreement into a story instead of just one side. I have no difficulty with recognizing that the agreement does provide that the DPRK receive -- as it converts from its gas-graphite nuclear technology to light-water reactor technology that that is a substantial assistance. There is substantial assistance envisioned in the document for the DPRK on the order of 2000-megawatts of light-water reactor generating capacity. That's certainly true.

The document also provides for interim energy to be provided in the form of heavy oil to the DPRK to make up for the lost energy for the reactors that will not be operated, will not be completed.

I think it's very reasonable and appropriate that these benefits to the DPRK be clearly laid out. I also ask that you address the impact of the document on the non-proliferation regime and non-proliferation benefits that fall to the people who live in northeast Asia, to the United States and to the rest of the world.

Again, let me just characterize that as benefits that we derive with respect to the current DPRK-North Korean program, the future North Korean program, and concerns about the past North Korean program.

Immediately upon the signature, we begin to realize under the terms of the agreement a freeze in the operation of the 5- megawatt reactor that produced the spent fuel that's in the pond. The spent fuel remains in the pond. The radio chemistry lab processing facility is sealed and subject to safeguard.

These reactors -- this sealing of the radio chemistry lab, this freeze, is all verified by the IAEA with whatever measures the IAEA may deem necessary to conduct an inspection to monitor that freeze. This is all provided in the agreement.

At the same time, as we look to the future, those large reactors -- the 50-megawatt reactor, the 200-megawatt reactor - - construction on both of these reactors that would have produced hundreds of kilograms per year -- that is to say, over a five-year period -- then hundreds of nuclear weapons worth of material would have been produced by these reactors. These reactors will be frozen now. Construction will cease on these reactors.

Indeed, over the life of the framework document envisioned to parallel the construction timeframe of the light-water reactor project, all these facilities will be entirely dismantled -- all three reactors. The radio chemistry lab will be dismantled. The spent fuel that's in the pond will be shipped out. Ultimately, the 25-to-30 kilograms of plutonium will leave the DPRK.

The program will no longer exist. That's extremely important from our perspective.

With respect to the past, we have said all along that we would not reach an agreement with the DPRK that did not resolve the question of their past nuclear activities. Indeed, the agreement does provide for the DPRK, for the first time, to come into full compliance with the safeguards obligations to accept whatever inspection activity the IAEA may deem necessary to resolve questions about the initial inventory.

That's all very important. The timing of that is important, too. That does not happen immediately. It can happen immediately, but it must happen before any nuclear equipment is delivered to the DPRK under the light-water reactor project delivery schedule.

The document is a complicated one. It has a lot of elements to it that are interrelated. I think it's best understood as a series of steps that the DPRK would take and a series of steps that the United States and other countries would take.

They move in parallel. The agreement, as we've said often enough, is not based on trust. It is certainly our hope that it will build trust, but it is an agreement that is verified by the IAEA in the first instance, and we're very comfortable with it and believe it does meet our security interests and those of the countries in the region.

We hope also over the longer term that it does truly contribute to an atmosphere in which the North and South can resume their discussions and reduce tensions so that other security issues can be addressed, including, for example, the conventional balance.

I'd like to stop here and maybe make one other point I really should make. That is, we have said that there is, in addition to the framework document, also a confidential "Minute" associated with it. That is a document that is about two and a half pages long. We will make every effort to keep it confidential. We, of course, are sharing it with our Congress.

We will, as I answer questions and as members of the Administration answer questions, we will answer questions consistent with the confidential "Minute." The "Minute" contains some details which, as is often the case, parties agree that they will, as I say, keep confidential. So we will not explicitly refer to the document but we will not answer in a way inconsistent with what the document provides for.

Your questions, please.

Q Can you talk to us a little bit about what's happening on the ground now; what manifestations of this agreement can we see? Have they started nailing the boards on the reprocessing facility?

AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: I signed this document on Friday in Geneva. I think this is Tuesday. I don't know whether they've gotten out their nails and their hammer yet and exactly what's happening on the ground.

I can tell you on the ground, certainly, the IAEA inspectors that have been there are still there at Yongbyon to assure that the reactor has not restarted, the fuel is in the pond, and the radio chemistry lab is inoperative.

What should be happening -- if you give me a larger timeframe than what's happening this morning, I can speak to that perhaps a little better. What should be happening over the next couple of weeks to the next month or so, is that the DPRK will need to take steps to put a freeze in place at the two larger reactors, or make arrangements with the IAEA for the agency to do something which it normally doesn't do, which is to go to facilities that are under construction. The agency will be doing that as well as making special arrangements with the agency to monitor a frozen facility like the radio chemistry lab.

That facility is, under the terms of the framework document, to be sealed with access by the IAEA as necessary to ensure that it's entirely inoperable. The IAEA and the DPRK have both said separately to us that they will be talking to one another to work out those arrangements.

I can't tell you that between Friday night and today that they've begun to have those discussions. I have not yet heard what is happening at the facilities. But those are some immediate things.

Let me say to what's happening immediately. There are a series of activities that follow from the agreement that need to be undertaken in the near term.

The DPRK and the United States must begin consultations over the spent fuel that's in the pond, both to assure that it is safely stored but also to assure that it is stored in a way so that when the time comes in the delivery schedule of the light-water reactor, the fuel will be in a condition such that it may be shipped out of the DPRK. Those consultations have to begin quite soon.

As I said, between Friday and today, they have not yet begun. We need before too long to get together with the DPRK to discuss the establishment of a liaison offices. There are a lot of issues that were raised and identified in the initial discussions that took place in the August-September timeframe, and we need to follow up on that.

We need to meet also on the subject of interim energy. How, in fact, the heavy oil will be provided to the DPRK. So there are a lot of activities over the coming weeks that will be taking place.

Q Do you have any dates or specific timetables for all of these steps? Do you have a meeting scheduled for next week?

AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: If you look at the agreement, there are some things in which there are some time schedules. There's a month's period within which the DPRK is to have the facilities frozen -- in other words, put in a condition so that they can be frozen.

If you look in the agreement, you'll see that within three months the United States, with others, is supposed to provide for the first tranche of fuel delivery. So there are some dates. But the other steps, which I said are near term, are just clearly understood between us and the DPRK.

For example, there is language that refers to "as soon as possible, as soon as practical" for these other steps.

Q On the question of spent fuel in the pond, you've said frequently that the chemistry is very fragile there and it can go -- you know, you don't how quickly it might go or that you take steps -- you'd offered to help them change the chemistry of the water to make those rods go longer before they start blacking or something. What is the status of those rods now? How long can they sit there before they need to be stored? Is there real sensitive timing right now? Does that have to be done immediately? You sort of alluded to it there, the first thing --

AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: The technical question about the condition of the water, the water chemistry -- I still don't have a better answer than I've been giving you, because we still haven't had our experts look at that water. I can say that under the terms of the agreement and from a discussion I had with Vice Foreign Minister Kang on Friday evening last in Geneva, we expect to be getting together with the DPRK very soon.

How exactly we will address the water chemistry, I'm not yet sure, and I'll be able to tell you more after we have a meeting with them. There is a time factor. Unfortunately, what I cannot tell you technically is how much time there is. Certainly, the sooner the water chemistry is adjusted, the sooner the fuel is put into a condition, and I have to put it in a vague way, because we have our own concept of what that might be.

I understand that the DPRK technical people have some ideas of their own, and we need to talk to them and figure out what's the safest and most efficient way and perhaps even the most economical way to store the fuel until the time comes for it to be shipped. So I can't give you a time frame at this point.

Q You say that it is critical, but you don't know how critical, and you don't have a firm commitment as to when you're going to start talking about it.

AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: So that it doesn't quite come out sounding so silly, let me rephrase that for you. Certainly the safety issue can become critical, and we said that from the start. Also from the start, we've said that we, the United States, cannot tell you at exactly what time frame is. Based upon our consultations with other countries that have had experience with gas graphite fuel, we know that it could be a matter of months to a matter of years. But the simple proposition is the sooner one addresses water chemistry, the better. So we would like to have that discussion with the DPRK.

A second proposition is the fuel will not be left for years in water safely, and we'd like to be talking to them about what modality is about to store the fuel. I said that there is no specific time frame provided for that discussion except language such as "as soon as possible," "as soon as practical" is there, and we have had discussions with the DPRK -- I have with Vice Foreign Minister Kang about getting on with that -- so I could tell you that I would expect within the next couple of weeks that we will certainly be talking to them about the spent fuel issue; and as soon as we know more about that, I'd be happy to share that with you.

Q To what extent is cooperation of Congress required in order for the United States to play its part? For example, the Trading with the Enemy Act, does that have to be waived or lifted? Does North Korea have to be given specific exemptions by Congress or can the Executive Branch do that?

AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: As you know, the framework document provides that the United States will take steps to reduce trade barriers and also barriers of telecommunications contacts in the context of moving to improve U.S.-DPRK relations.

We need early on probably to take those steps which we can do via the Executive authority of the President, and as soon as we determine how we're going to proceed, I'll be pleased to share that with you.

Over time, there will be steps that would require legislative action, and at an appropriate time we reach that point, we will certainly go to the Congress. Beyond that, we at this moment for the provision of a small amount of heavy oil in the coming two/three months would not require new authorities. That can be done, our judgment is, under the authorities given to the Department of Energy. We do not need new appropriations at this point for this either.

As we move down the line, if there are other connections between us and the DPRK -- for example, if United States companies were to become involved in the role of supplier of any significant nuclear equipment, that would require an agreement of cooperation with the DPRK and (inaudible) cooperation is a treaty and would have to go to the Senate.

So the best way to answer your question is there are some things which we can do -- the Executive Branch can do unilaterally. In all cases, of course, we are consulting with the Hill. That began some time ago. It has been a constant process throughout our negotiations with the DPRK. As we moved into the agreement phase, it became more intense, and we are staying, I believe, in close contact with those members of both the House and the Senate who have been interested in this issue, and we'll continue to do so.

The extent to which we have to go further than that will depend upon where exactly we are in the process of our connections with the DPRK.

Q Just to follow up on the same point, in these consultations with Congress which have already occurred, have you come into any reservations on their part about the confidential minute?

AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: I have not myself. Any number of members of the Administration have had these contacts. I don't believe the minute has been officially transmitted to the Congress. That may well be happening today. I'm not precisely certain of that. So if you mean as the confidential minute is revealed to the Congress, has the Congress then -- or members of Congress who have been briefed expressed any concerns about that. That, to my knowledge, hasn't happened yet and could not have happened.

But I will tell you, I don't expect that to happen. I think the kinds of concerns you have heard from some members of the Senate are the only concerns that I am made aware of at this point.

Q Have we agreed to any kind of reassurances to the North Koreans on what will happen to the spent fuel rods once they are removed from North Korea? Do they want assurances that the country where they eventually reside won't reprocess the fuel, or have we agreed to anything?

AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: There is no provision in the framework document for a DPRK oversight on the ultimate disposition of the spent fuel once it leaves the DPRK. That is something we would be concerned about and, while I think I have responded to questions about where the spent fuel would go by saying that I and others have consulted a number of other governments and we believe we have two, three or four possibilities, in all cases we would find a likely disposition in the countries that are candidates now and perhaps in the future not to be a problem in terms of proliferation.

So, in other words, that's something we would be concerned about, independent of any DPRK concerns. But in any case, there's nothing in the framework document that gives DPRK oversight over the disposition of the fuel once it's removed.

Q Some Administration officials say that it is more likely than not that North Korea has one or two nuclear devices. As I read the agreement, I don't see it addressing that particular problem. Do you see a way that this agreement will get North Korea to get rid of those devices?

AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: Yes. First, what we know and what we don't know. We know that there is an anomaly discovered by the IAEA as a result of an inspection -- inspection process actually -- and that anomaly suggests that the DPRK declaration of how much plutonium it has was understated. The IAEA has not put forth a proposition about how much it was understated.

Our own analysis of how much plutonium could have been separated by the DPRK in excess of the gram quantities that they have acknowledged and declared to the agency is that it could be some kilograms less than ten. The assessment that we have made is that the amount of material that they could possibly have would be enough for the DPRK to manufacture one and possibly two nuclear weapons.

We do not know whether the DPRK has enough plutonium to manufacture one nuclear weapon. We do not know if they do have that material whether they have done the work necessary to design and manufacture the triggering package for a nuclear explosive device. We do not know whether they have manufactured such a device. We do not know whether they have weaponized such a device. There is a possibility of this because of the anomaly. That's sometimes referred to as the problem of the past.

The agreement, as I described to you, massively goes at, from our perspective, a current program where there's enough plutonium for five or six nuclear weapons in the storage pond to make sure that material is never separated and made available, indeed is ultimately shipped out. It goes at the concern that no more plutonium be produced in the reactor; that the reactor not be finished.

So we have addressed the real concern about a massive plutonium buildup. There is and will be until it's resolved the question about how much plutonium they have and do they have enough for one or two devices and did they in fact manufacture one or possibly two devices.

The way that is addressed in the agreement is it provides for the first time for the DPRK to say, as it does in the agreement, that they will accept whatever safeguards measures may be deemed necessary by the IAEA to resolve that question of its initial inventory. That's a position they've never taken before, and they take it in this document.

It is in the document required that the DPRK permit the IAEA to do this before any significant nuclear equipment is provided by the international community to the DPRK in the course of the construction of the light-water reactor project.

We have estimated, in response to questions, if the reactor project remains on schedule, that that could come as much as five years down the road. The DPRK could agree or decide that it is in their interests to settle this matter any time between now and then, but they certainly know there will be no nuclear equipment delivered to the DPRK until that issue is resolved.

If, in the course of resolving it, there is a question about nuclear weapons having been manufactured under the Non- Proliferation Treaty, as in the case of South Africa, complete dismantlement would be required. Any material that is discovered or declared would have to be declared to the IAEA and subject to safeguards. That's the way the agreement deals with that issue.

From our perspective, it would certainly have been more desirable to solve that issue immediately. That was not a negotiable outcome. In terms of the risks, the security of South Korea, Japan, the United States, the international community, we do not believe there is any. There is no time factor that bears upon the capability of the agency to resolve the past, as a result of providing that this be resolved somewhat later.

The radioactive waste sites are not going to disappear. Those are the sites that need to be inspected. Inspections on everything else begin immediately.

Q Financing question. This has sometimes been characterized -- mischaracterized as a $4 billion sort of give- away to the North Koreans. Can you discuss how much it will cost and how the financing will be distributed among ourselves, South Korea and Japan and others, if there are others?

AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: In a a general way I can. First of all, about what this represents -- the light-water reactor project -- and the number $4 billion has been used -- it was first used -- I first heard it in Seoul, and it's a number that I've adopted, and I'm told it's roughly right. It's a large amount of money in any case to finance the project. There's no question about that -- 2,000-megawatt reactors.

The theory of this assistance is, assistance that goes to the DPRK, not because it's coming into compliance with its NPT obligations its full-scope safeguards obligations, but because it is giving up gas graphite technology and making a transition to light-water reactor technology. Yes, you want to interrupt.

Q (Inaudible) How much do you estimate in what they're giving up? How much have they sunk into what they are giving up, if you can put any --

AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: I'm glad you asked that question. The first point to make is, however you evaluate the size of the assistance package, it is assistance for a transition from one energy technology to another, not for simply doing what it is obligated to do. It is not obligated to give up that gas graphite system. It is certainly in our non-proliferation interests that it do that, however.

Before we provided -- and I did on Friday -- a letter from the President of the United States to the leader of the DPRK -- Kim Jong-Il -- assuring him that the United States would seek to put together the necessary consortium, and the President would do what was necessary to try to bring about this assistance in the form of a light-water reactor project, to the extent he was able to do that and as long as the DPRK acted in conformance with the framework document. That assurance followed assurances that we first received from the Japanese and from the South Koreans of their assistance and their support of this project.

So certainly we expect the South Koreans, as they said they wished to do, to take on the central role or the lion's share of the burden of financing and constructing the light- water reactor project. We expect the Japanese to help in that connection and others under the concept of creating a Korean Energy Development Organization.

Just one more word, Christine, and that was with respect to the cost of the program that the DPRK is giving up. The reason I was enthusiastic about telling you this -- because I don't know the answer to that -- I was enthusiastic about telling you that because you may recall at the Berlin meeting that the North Koreans had some concept in mind that we and the international community would compensate the DPRK for reactors that they did not begin to construct but were thinking of constructing and also for the investment.

What we learned from that is that it was a lot more money, and I believe we have called that absurd, ridiculous and ludicrous on various occasions, and all those words apply, and there's no thought to doing that. But we are and we have said that we would assist them in the transition, and that's the light-water reactor project and the interim energy.

MS. SHELLY: Last question, Charlie.

Q A non-technical question.


Q Can you give us some flavor of what the negotiations were like? How the North Koreans negotiated in light of the change in leadership, with the confidence with which they negotiated? What your impression is of what they're looking to gain out of all of this?

AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: I have been unable to do justice to the question that I've received about the impact of the death of Kim Il-Sung on the negotiations, and I have not been able to because I have not directly been able to discern in the course of many intense hours of negotiations that impact. I just could not say that what I was seeing was the result of a change.

I do believe that -- to go back for a moment to the Berlin meeting -- that that was a bit bizarre what we experienced in Berlin. I was not there. Gary Seymour represented the United States at that meeting, but that presentation was a little odd, and I wondered at the time whether there wasn't a looser decision-making apparatus at work at that moment.

I couldn't quite explain why we were confronting positions in Berlin which were quite inconsistent with understandings which we so recently reached in Geneva. But I did not see that again when we were back in Geneva, and I saw a much more coherent presentation on the part of the North.

You may not be surprised to find out that I have some thoughts about what it's been like negotiating with the DPRK over those days, and I think I'm going to mostly have to keep those to myself for at least some period of time. And I'm sorry to say that, but I think that's the only thing I could say.

Q Just one follow up, Bob. Did Kim Jong-Il respond to Clinton's letter?

AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: Let me take that, Christine. To my knowledge, the answer to that is no, but there's also no anticipation. You'll note at the bottom of the letter, when you see it, and you will, and it does not say, "Hope to hear from you soon." (Laughter) There's nothing like that, and the letter is linked to the framework document. In other words, as long as there's compliance with, and we did not seek either verbally or in writing any response. We're not rejecting one if we should get one, but what we wanted was a package which was coherent on the terms in which we laid them out, and that's what we have. So we weren't looking for language to come back to us.

Q Just one: How did you address the letter? To the President, Dear Leader -- what -- how did he send it? (Laughter)

AMBASSADOR GALLUCCI: The DPRK, as is often the case with other governments, has their own way of referring to their leader, and they gave us the address and how they would like their leader to be addressed, and we addressed it precisely as they asked. I in fact do not have it in front of me, but you will soon. I mean, this is not part of the -- it's not confidential, and it's not secret, so I believe it was to the Supreme Leader of the DPRK, but you'll have an opportunity to see that for yourself. Thank you all very much.

MS. SHELLY: Thanks, Bob.


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