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Old Tuesday, October 24, 2006
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Arrow Us-north Korea Relations


U.S.-North Korea relations developed primarily during the Korean War, but in recent years have been largely defined by the United States' suspicions regarding North Korea's nuclear programs, and North Korea's perception of an imminent US attack.

Although hostility between the two countries remains largely a product of Cold War politics, there were earlier conflicts and animosity between the US and Korea. In the mid-19th century Korea closed its borders to Western trade, much as North Korea has today. In the General Sherman Incident, Korean forces attacked a US gunboat sent to negotiate a trade treaty and killed its crew, after it defied instructions from Korean officials. A US retribution attack, the Sinmiyangyo, followed.
Korea and the US ultimately established trade relations in 1882. Relations soured again when the US negotiated peace in the Russo-Japanese War. Japan persuaded the US to accept Korea as part of Japan's sphere of influence, and the US did not protest when Japan annexed Korea five years later. Korean nationalists petitioned the US to support their cause at the Versailles Treaty conference under Woodrow Wilson's principle of national self-determination, without success.
The US divided Korea after World War II along the 38th parallel, intending it as a temporary measure. However, the breakdown of relations between the US and USSR prevented a reunification. The North Korean government came to see the US as an imperalist successor to Japan, a view it still holds today. The United States maintains economic sanctions against the DPRK under the Trading with the Enemy Act.
Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula
North Korea joined the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapons state in 1985, and North and South Korean talks begun in 1990 resulted in a 1992 Denuclearization Statement. However, lack of progress in developing and implementing an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for the inspection of the North's nuclear facilities led to North Korea's March 1993 announcement of its withdrawal from the NPT. A UN Security Council resolution in May 1993 urged North Korea to cooperate with the IAEA and to implement the 1992 North-South Denuclearization Statement. It also urged all member states to encourage North Korea to respond positively to this resolution and to facilitate a solution of the nuclear issue.
U.S.-North Korea talks beginning in June 1993 led to the U.S.-North Korea Agreed Framework in October 1994:
• North Korea agreed to freeze its existing plutonium enrichment program, to be monitored by the IAEA;
• Both sides agreed to cooperate to replace North Korea's graphite-moderated reactors with light water reactor (LWR) power plants, to be financed and supplied by an international consortium (later identified as the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization or KEDO);
• The United States and North Korea agreed to work together to store safely the spent fuel from the five-megawatt reactor and dispose of it in a safe manner that does not involve reprocessing in North Korea;
• The two sides agreed to move toward full normalization of political and economic relations;
• Both sides agreed to work together for peace and security on a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula; and
• Both sides agreed to work together to strengthen the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.
In accordance with the terms of the Agreed Framework, North Korea decided to freeze its nuclear program and cooperate with United States and IAEA verification efforts, and in January 1995 the U.S. eased economic sanctions against North Korea. North Korea agreed to accept the decisions of KEDO, the financier and supplier of the LWRs, with respect to provision of the reactors. KEDO subsequently identified Sinpo as the LWR project site and held a groundbreaking ceremony in August 1997. In December 1999, KEDO and the (South) Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) signed the Turnkey Contract (TKC), permitting fullscale construction of the LWRs.
In January 1995, as called for in the Agreed Framework, the United States and North Korea negotiated a method to store safely the spent fuel from the five-megawatt reactor. According to this method, U.S. and North Korean operators would work together to can the spent fuel and store the canisters in the spent fuel pond. Actual canning began in 1995. In April 2000, canning of all accessible spent fuel rods and rod fragments was declared complete.
In 1998, the United States identified an underground site in Kumchang-ni, which it suspected of being nuclear-related. In March 1999, North Korea agreed to grant the U.S. "satisfactory access" to the site. In October 2000, during Special Envoy Jo Myong Rok's visit to Washington, and after two visits to the site by teams of U.S. experts, the U.S. announced in a Joint Communiqué with North Korea that U.S. concerns about the site had been resolved.
As called for in Dr. William Perry's official review of U.S. policy toward North Korea, the United States and North Korea launched new negotiations in May 2000 called the Agreed Framework Implementation Talks.
North Korea policy under George W. Bush
Following the inauguration of President George W. Bush in January 2001, the new Administration began a review of North Korea policy. At the conclusion of that review, the Administration announced on June 6, 2001, that it had decided to pursue continued dialogue with North Korea on the full range of issues of concern to the Administration, including North Korea's conventional force posture, missile development and export programs, human rights practices, and humanitarian issues. In 2002, the Administration also became aware that North Korea was developing a uranium enrichment program for nuclear weapons purposes. U.S.-D.P.R.K. tensions mounted, when Bush categorized North Korea as part of the "Axis of Evil" in his 2002 State of the Union address.
When U.S.-D.P.R.K. direct dialogue resumed in October 2002, this uranium- enrichment program was high on the U.S. agenda. North Korean officials acknowledged to a U.S. delegation, headed by Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James A. Kelly, the existence of the uranium enrichment program. Such a program violated North Korea's obligations under the NPT and its commitments in the 1992 North-South Denuclearization Declaration and the 1994 Agreed Framework. The U.S. side stated that North Korea would have to terminate the program before any further progress could be made in U.S.-D.P.R.K. relations. The U.S. side also made clear that if this program were verifiably eliminated, the U.S. would be prepared to work with North Korea on the development of a fundamentally new relationship. In November 2002, the members of KEDO agreed to suspend heavy fuel oil shipments to North Korea pending a resolution of the nuclear dispute.
In December 2002, Spanish troops boarded and detained a shipment of Scud missiles from North Korea destined for Yemen, at the United States' request. After two days, the United States released the ship to continue its shipment to Yemen. This further strained the relationship between the US and North Korea, with North Korea characterizing the boarding an "act of piracy".
In late 2002 and early 2003, North Korea terminated the freeze on its existing plutonium-based nuclear facilities, expelled IAEA inspectors and removed seals and monitoring equipment, quit the NPT, and resumed reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel to extract plutonium for weapons purposes. North Korea subsequently announced that it was taking these steps to provide itself with a deterrent force in the face of U.S. threats and the U.S.' "hostile policy". Beginning in mid-2003, the North repeatedly claimed to have completed reprocessing of the spent fuel rods previously frozen at Yongbyon and later publicly said that the resulting fissile material would be used to bolster its "nuclear deterrent force". There is no independent confirmation of North Korea's claims.
President Bush has stated that the United States has no plans at this time to invade North Korea now or in the forseeable future. He also stated that the United States intends to make every effort to achieve a peaceful end to North Korea's nuclear program in cooperation with North Korea's neighbors, who have also expressed concern over the threat to regional stability and security they believe it poses. The Bush Administration's stated goal is the complete, verifiable, and irreversible elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons program. North Korea's neighbors have joined the United States in supporting a nuclear weapons-free Korean Peninsula.
In the last months of 2005, relations between the countries have been further strained by US allegations of North Korean counterfeiting of American dollars. The US alleges that North Korea produces $15 million worth of 'supernotes' every year, and has induced banks in Macau and elsewhere to end business with North Korea.
Six-party talks
: Six-party talks
In early 2003 multilateral talks were proposed to be held among the six most relevant parties aimed at reaching a settlement through diplomatic means. North Korea initially opposed such a process, maintaining that the nuclear dispute was purely a bilateral matter between themselves and the United States. However, under pressure from its neighbors and with the active involvement of the People's Republic of China, North Korea agreed to preliminary three-party talks with China and the United States in Beijing in April 2003.
After this meeting, North Korea then agreed to six-party talks, between the United States, North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan and Russia. The first round of talks was held in August 2003, with subsequent rounds being held at regular intervals. However, since the last round (5th round, 1st phase) was held in November 2005, North Korea has refused to return to the talks. This was in retaliation for the US freezing offshore North Korean bank accounts in Macau.
In early 2005, US government told its East Asia allies that Pyongyang had exported nuclear material to Libya. This backfired when the Asia allies discovered that US government had concealed involvement of Pakistan; a key U.S. ally was the weapon's middle man. In March 2005, Condoleezza Rice had to travel to East Asia in an effort to repair the damage.
2006 nuclear test
U.S. intelligence agencies have been unable to confirm that a test has occurred, but are presently looking into the situation. Tony Snow, President George W. Bush’s White House Press Secretary, said that the United States would now go to the United Nations to determine “what our next steps should be in response to this very serious step.”President Bush stated in a televised speech Monday morning, that such a claim of a test is a "provocative act" and U.S condemns such acts. President Bush stated that the United States is "committed to diplomacy" but will "continue to protect [America] and [America's] interests."
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