Way to go Bill. That worked a treat didn’t it? Clinton approved a plan to give aid to North Korea just like Obama approved a plan for Iran
The accord calls for a consortium of nations, led by South Korea and Japan, to provide the North with two light-water nuclear reactors, designed in a manner that makes it far more difficult for the North to convert nuclear waste into atomic weapons..”
American and North Korean officials plan to sign the broad accord on Friday, and almost immediately the United States will begin a remarkable new foreign aid program: it will provide for the North, with which it has never signed a peace treaty ending the Korean War, supplies of heavy oil to keep factories running and homes heated.
The Pentagon had expressed concern that some of the fuel could be diverted to the North’s million-man army, but officials said they were working to assure supplies that would be incompatible with its tanks and other military equipment.
“This agreement is good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world,” Mr. Clinton said in a brief appearance in the White House press room this afternoon. “It’s a crucial step toward drawing North Korea into the global community.”
The accord calls for a consortium of nations, led by South Korea and Japan, to provide the North with two light-water nuclear reactors, designed in a manner that makes it far more difficult for the North to convert nuclear waste into atomic weapons.
The total cost of the project was put at $4 billion by Robert L. Gallucci, the chief American negotiator with the North. The financing would be supplied by South Korea, Japan and possibly Germany, Russia and the United States.
Under the accord, North Korea would agree to allow full and continuous inspections of its existing nuclear sites, freeze and then later take apart some of its most important nuclear plants and ultimately ship out of the country fuel rods that could be converted into fuel for weapons.
But the agreement also allows North Korea to keep those rods for an unspecified number of years. This provision means that the potential that North Korea could break its agreements and quickly produce nuclear weapons will not disappear until the end of the decade.
The provision also means that it will be years before inspectors can resolve the question of how much weapons-grade plutonium the North has already produced and perhaps converted into a primitive nuclear weapon. Some of Mr. Clinton’s defense and intelligence aides said today that they had hoped North Korea would be forced to surrender its nuclear fuel under a much more rapid timetable. But they said that this goal could not be accomplished, and that the agreement reached this week was better than a continuing confrontation.
In the view of the Administration’s experts, North Korea clearly did not want to abandon its largest national project until large-scale aid began to flow in. Over the years, the North has come to view the nuclear program as its only true defense against what it sees as hostile neighbors: South Korea, Japan and American forces in the Pacific.
But Mr. Gallucci insisted to reporters today that the agreement “does not rely on trust.”
He said that the Government in Pyongyang would not receive any nuclear-sensitive materials for the new reactors until the International Atomic Energy Agency was able to conduct full inspections of nuclear sites, including two sites that the Central Intelligence Agency believes will help unravel the mystery of whether the North already possesses one or more nuclear weapons.
The accord struck in Geneva gave the President a chance to proclaim a major foreign policy success just weeks before the midterm election. But Asian diplomats pointed out today that it also placed the United States in the odd position of bolstering the political capital of a man it has regularly denounced as a terrorist, a supplier of missile technology to Iran and a dictator: Kim Jong Il.
Mr. Kim is expected to take control of the country formally later this month, succeeding his late father, Kim Il Sung. Little is known about Kim Jong Il, but American, Japanese and South Korean intelligence officials have described him in the past as the chief proponent for the past decade of the North’s secret nuclear weapons program.
Japan and South Korea endorsed the agreement today, but have not yet said what share they will take in the new energy consortium.
American officials said that after some initial balking, Seoul had agreed to pay somewhat more than 50 percent of the cost of building the reactors — the design of which will be based on a nuclear plant in Ulchin, South Korea — and that Japan would probably pay 30 percent or more.
Germany and Russia, possibly along with the United States, may also become minor investors.
The agreement that Mr. Clinton announced today is perhaps the biggest turning point yet in a nuclear program that the United States paid little attention to in the 1980’s, then could not stop in the early 1990’s, and that over the past year has sometimes seemed on the verge of setting off a military confrontation.
In June the Administration was on the verge of imposing sanctions against North Korea — a step that would have required the commitment of thousands of American troops to Korea to reinforce the 38,000 already stationed there — until former President Jimmy Carter invited himself to Pyongyang and negotiated directly with Kim Il Sung. Mr. Kim died just a few weeks later, but, to the amazement of American officials, the new tone set by Mr. Carter and the man known for four decades as the North’s “Great Leader” survived.
Mr. Gallucci, a seemingly unflappable negotiator who has spent hundreds of hours with the North Koreans and still professes to understand very little about their motives, insisted at the White House today that the United States had obtained virtually everything it sought. “The agreement goes to concerns we’ve had about the North Korean nuclear program with respect to past activities, current activities and future activities,” he said.
The main accomplishment of the agreement is that it commits North Korea to never resuming operations of its five-megawatt nuclear reactor — a source of fuel for its nuclear weapons project — and never to finish construction of two larger reactors, rated at 50 and 200 megawatts, which potentially could produce fuel for hundreds of additional weapons. In time, North Korea is also committed to dismantling the most crucial installation in its nuclear complex: a reprocessing plant that can convert spent nuclear fuel into weapons-grade plutonium.
The heavy oil and the new nuclear reactors are being described by the Administration as compensation for the energy production the North has forgone by shuttering the plants.
What bothers some nuclear experts, from the Pentagon to the International Atomic Energy Agency, is that the North will continue to possess nuclear spent fuel for years, surrendering it only when the new reactors are nearing completion. That leaves open the possibility that if it ever renounced this week’s agreement it could eject all international inspectors and resume the bomb project.
“This means that we are living with a country that flouted the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and will remain in noncompliance for years,” an atomic energy agency official said today. “We wanted to get that fuel out of the country, and out of the country fast.”
Similarly, some of the agency’s officials are concerned that the so-called special inspection of a suspected nuclear site that they demanded two years ago — a demand that prompted the North to announce it would pull out of the Nonproliferation Treaty — will be delayed for five years or more. “It is not a good precedent to set,” the official said, “if we have to demand a special inspection in Iran or Iraq or someplace else in the world.” Clinton Approves A Plan to Give Aid To North Korea