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


"The U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework"

Testimony of Ambassador At-Large
Robert L. Gallucci

House International Relations Committee
Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific

February 23, 1995

Mr. Chairman, it is a pleasure to testify on the Agreed Framework concluded by the United States and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in Geneva just over four months ago.

The Clinton Administration believes the approach we have taken in the Agreed Framework serves our interests, the interests of our allies in the region and those of the international community. If fully implemented, it will create a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula, erase an important threat to the international non-proliferation regime and, potentially, open the door to discussions on other issues of concern, such as the North's export of ballistic missiles.

Since there has been a great deal of testimony recently on this issue-- including Secretary Christopher's extensive remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee-- I would like to just briefly explain our approach to the negotiations and to elaborate on why we believe the Agreed Framework is in our national interest. I would also like to discuss in more detail the process of implementation which has already begun.

U.S. Policy: An Overview

Mr. Chairman, when the Clinton Administration entered office in January 1993 it was immediately confronted with the problem of North Korea's nuclear program. That program, which had been underway for more than a decade, had the potential to produce hundreds of kilograms of plutonium and a significant stockpile of nuclear weapons by the end of this decade. Such a nuclear stockpile, in the hands of an totalitarian regime that had engaged in aggression in the past, whose conventional forces already threaten our close allies in the region, and that had seen fit to export ballistic missiles and might well do the same with nuclear material, would have been intolerable.

The Clinton Administration's direct involvement with the nuclear issue began in March 1993 when North Korea announced its intention to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). That declaration-- coming after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was unable to resolve discrepancies in the way the North accounted for its plutonium stocks-- raised international alarm about North Korea's nuclear program.

I do not want to recount now the events over the next 18 months which led to the October 1994 Agreed Framework but let me make just three points.

First, throughout this period, our diplomacy to resolve the nuclear issue was conducted from a position of strength including evident military readiness on the ground. When North Korea took the unacceptable step of unloading fuel from its 5 megawatt (MW) reactor last spring, we were prepared to pursue a sanctions resolution in the Security Council and to put additional forces in place to counter any hostile reaction. And the North Koreans knew it. When talks resumed again, it was only after North Korea accepted our new terms, namely that it not reload and operate the 5 MW reactor, not reprocess any of the spent fuel in the storage pond and accept a continuing IAEA presence.

Second, we set ourselves the goal of neutralizing the North Korean nuclear program in a way that went far beyond simply gaining North Korean compliance with its NPT safeguards. Our initial goal when we began this process was to bring North Korea back into compliance with its IAEA safeguard obligations and to end its threat to withdraw from the NPT. But the North's interest in light water reactors (LWRs) opened the door to a more far-reaching solution: freezing and ultimately dismantling its gas graphite program. Together with our South Korean and Japanese allies, we decided to pursue this more far reaching objective because, even under IAEA safeguards, these facilities posed a threat to our security. They would have enabled the North to continue to produce and separate large quantities of weapons-grade plutonium. As a result, when we went back to the table in Geneva last summer, we were determined to secure North Korea's return to its IAEA obligations and to dismantle North Korea's existing nuclear facilities. We succeeded in both these objectives.

Third, we conducted our policy, and continue to do so, in close consultations with our allies South Korea and Japan. These consultations have been unparalleled in my twenty years in government. They have been conducted through embassies in capitals, working-level discussions, daily consultations during the negotiations, regular trilateral meetings and contacts between the highest levels of all three governments.

The October 21 U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework

The result of these efforts was the U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework. The Agreed Framework resulted in an immediate freeze of the North's nuclear program. The freeze includes a prohibition on the reloading or restarting of the 5 MW reactor and thus a halt to any further production of plutonium. It also includes sealing the reprocessing plant and requires the safe storage and eventual shipment of existing spent fuel out of the country. This put a stop to the separation of any more plutonium and made provision for the removal of 4-5 bombs worth of plutonium from North Korea. The Framework also freezes construction of the two larger reactors-- 50 and 200 MW-- which, when completed, would have produced enough plutonium for dozens of bombs each year. Finally, under the Agreed Framework, North Korea will remain in the NPT: it must take any measures deemed necessary by the IAEA-- including special inspections-- to fully disclose past nuclear activities.

In return, we will lead an international effort to provide North Korea with proliferation-resistant light-water reactors and heavy fuel oil shipments until those reactors come on line. In this context, I want to emphasize that no delivery of any significant nuclear components for the reactors will take place until North Korea complies fully with its safeguards obligations. Also, under the Framework, the United States and North Korea will move toward more normal relations, including the opening of liaison offices in each other's capitals. However, under the framework, full normalization will only come when the DPRK moves to resolve other issues of concern to us. We have already identified for the North our strong concerns about its ballistic missiles exports and its forward, destabilizing conventional force deployments.

In addition to opening the way for the establishment of more normal political and economic relationships between the United States and North Korea, the Agreed Framework is intended to promote dialogue between North and South. As part of the Framework, North Korea has pledged to resume dialogue with South Korea on matters affecting peace and security on the peninsula. We have made it clear that resuming North-South dialogue is essential to the success of the Framework. Deputy Assistant Secretary Hubbard will have more to add on this point.

The Agreed Framework is a good deal since the burden of up front performance falls on North Korea, not on the United States. North Korea was required to freeze its nuclear program immediately. It has done that. In response, we have provided the North with a small amount of heavy fuel oil, begun to move towards establishing liaison offices and very selectively eased commercial sanctions. We are also working with the North to place the existing spent fuel in containers for it to be ready for shipment out of the country. The most significant benefit for North Korea-- construction of light-water reactors-- will not come for several years and sensitive nuclear components for them will not be delivered until the North fully accounts for its past nuclear activities.

Second, the Framework places highest priority on the elements of the North's program that most acutely threaten U.S. and regional security. Our most immediate concerns were the North's current capability to produce more plutonium for nuclear weapons-- the existing spent fuel, the operating 5 MW reactor and the reprocessing plant-- and its potential ability to produce more in the future-- the two larger reactors under construction. All are dealt with in the Agreed Framework. That document also requires the DPRK to accept special inspections and to come clean on past nuclear activities, but not immediately. Quite frankly, while it was vital to achieve such a commitment, from a national security perspective, just when those inspections were conducted was less critical than the time urgent need to stop any further production or separation of plutonium. The information to be obtained from special inspections will not perish during this time.

Finally, we will be able to monitor closely North Korean compliance with the Agreed Framework, both through IAEA inspection and the use of our own national technical means. Moreover, the structure of the Agreed Framework provides us with added insurance since the path to implementation has defined checkpoints. If at any time North Korea fails to meet its obligations, we can take appropriate action. Since the burden of up front performance falls on the North, if the agreement breaks down before the LWRs are complete, we will still be ahead of the game. North Korea's entire nuclear program will have been frozen, potentially for years.

Implementation of the Agreed Framework

Mr. Chairman, while the conclusion of the Agreed Framework is an important step forward, successful implementation will be critical. For our part, the United States intends to live up to its end of the bargain if North Korea fulfills its commitments. Currently, our overall assessment is that, while we have some concerns, we are satisfied with implementation of the Agreed Framework.

Nuclear Freeze: North Korea has frozen its entire nuclear program. While the IAEA already has inspectors on the ground monitoring the freeze, that presence will be expanded. We understand that talks between the DPRK and the IAEA on expanding the Agency's monitoring measures have gone well and, hopefully, will be completed soon.

Spent Fuel Storage: The United States and North Korea have agreed to a plan for safely storing the existing spent fuel unloaded from the 5 MW reactor last spring. That fuel, if reprocessed, could have yielded sufficient plutonium for 4-5 nuclear weapons. The U.S.-DPRK agreement followed a series of meetings between both country's experts and the first ever visits by our team to the Yongbyon nuclear facility to evaluate the situation on the ground. The process of placing the fuel in canisters for safe storage and eventual shipment out of the country can begin this spring and be completed by next fall provided the Department of Energy's request for reprogramming is approved by Congress soon.

Easing Commercial Restrictions: The United States and North Korea have eased restrictions on commercial transactions. In the Agreed Framework, the U.S. and North Korea agreed to begin reducing restrictions on telecommunications services and financial transactions within three months, or by January 21. On January 9, the DPRK announced it was lifting legal barriers to trade with the U.S., including prohibitions on imports from the U.S. and port-calls by U.S.-flag vessels. On January 20, the U.S. announced the easing of sanctions against North Korea including areas such as telecommunications, travel and journalism, and financial transactions. How we build on these first steps will depend on North Korea's performance on a wide range of issues of concern.

Liaison Offices: The Agreed Framework called for the U.S. and DPRK to open liaison offices in each others capitals after resolving technical and consular issues related to such an opening. These liaison offices would be opened at the lowest level allowed under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and staffing will be kept to a minimum. The mission of these offices will be to provide the necessary liaison between the U.S. and DPRK governments as we implement the various parts of the Agreed Framework. After two rounds of expert level talks, most of the technical issues and all of the consular issues have been resolved. The main issue to be resolved is choosing property for the sites of the liaison offices. This issue remains under discussion at the expert level. A U.S. team went to Pyongyang to look at property in early February and we expect a North Korean team will make a similar trip to Washington in the next few months.

LWR Supply Contract: Under the terms of the Agreed Framework, "best efforts" should be made to reach a LWR supply contract by April 21, 1995. While discussions with the DPRK on the light water reactor project have made progress, critical differences remain. The most important is which country will provide North Korea with those reactors. From the U.S. prospective, the only viable vendor is the Republic of Korea. The ROK, which has offered to play a central role in financing the LWR project, and Japan, which will provide significant funding for the project, insist on the provision of South Korean reactors. This point has been emphasized time and time again to the North. The DPRK says it is concerned about the technical viability of those reactors, but, more accurately, we believe the North finds it politically difficult to have South Koreans build reactors in its country. We plan to have another meeting with the DPRK on the LWR project soon.

Heavy Fuel Oil Deliveries: As specified in the Agreed Framework, the United States delivered 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil to North Korea in January. We have some concern about the disposition of a small portion of the heavy fuel oil that we have shipped them for heating and power generation. We have no concern, however, that the oil has been used to power North Korea's military machine. One of the reasons we sent them heavy fuel oil is that it cannot be used in military planes and vehicles. We have raised this issue with North Korea and told them that we expect them to comply fully with the terms of the Agreed Framework.

Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO): We have made important progress towards establishing the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), the international consortium that will have a key role in implementing the Agreed Framework. It is KEDO that will ensure the provision of light-water reactors to North Korea, the heavy fuel oil shipments, the safe storage of spent fuel and its eventual shipment out of North Korea. While the United States, South Korea and Japan are the consortium leaders, the South will play a central role, and Japan will play a significant role, in the financing and construction of the LWR project. Both countries strongly support the Framework as in their national interest, and have demonstrated that support with their significant commitment to finance its implementation.

KEDO's structure will also allow for broader international participation. The U.S., supported by its trilateral partners, has begun to approach other potential members of KEDO in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. We hope to hold a meeting of interested countries next month.

North-South Dialogue: The Agreed Framework obliges the DPRK to take steps to implement the North-South Denuclearization Declaration and to engage in North-South dialogue. North-South dialogue is therefore essential if the Framework is to be fully implemented. Even more to the point, however, North-South dialogue is the key to creating a solid, stable state of peace on the Korean Peninsula. So far, the DPRK has not taken any steps to fulfill its obligations under the Framework to engage in North-South dialogue. We are using every possible occasion to emphasize to the DPRK that dialogue is vital to the full implementation of the Framework. The U.S. will remain in close consultation with the ROK on this issue.


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