Probably this moment marked the last boost the DPRK needed to immerge itself into a nuclear program, there were no guarantees of peace, the discourse alluded to a possible attack, and the US demonstrated there was no room for a non-aggression pact as requested by the DPRK several times before. Furthermore in October 2002, assistant secretary of states for East Asian and pacific affairs James Kelly in a visit to Pyongyang with high rank North Korean officials was informed by that Pyongyang had a clandestine program to enrich uranium12; Position that was later changed denying the existence of such program3.
Bush was very reluctant to negotiate with DPRK unless it had proceeded to do a series of conditions that would have jeopardized DPRK’s security. On the other hand North Korean diplomacy insisted in a diplomatic statement guaranteeing peace between the states as a gateway before giving away all its nuclear capabilities to a threating state as in this case was the US. As the situation evolved in November 14, 2002: The KEDO4, announced it would stop the shipment of oil to the DPRK in accordance to the DPRK’s violation of the 1994 framework5. In response, the DPRK decided to start all the procedures to reactivate the Yongbyon 5 MW old Nuclear facility alleging it needed to compensate for the loss of oil supply deriving from the 1994 framework6, in accordance to their energy needs, on December 12, 2002 they asked the AIEA to remove the seals and surveillance equipment from the nuclear facilities, In light of the refusal from the AIEA, fifteen days later the regime expulsed two inspectors from the AIEA. Within this line the regime pulled out of the NPT on January 10 2003, the DPRK justified this action by stating that the AIEA was playing a unilateral role in the management of the issue by being biased in favour of the US. « Withdrawal was a legitimate and self-defensive measure. »7
In Jan 12, 2003 the ambassador of the DPRK to PRC Choe Jin Su stated that DPRK “cannot go along with the self-imposed missile moratorium any longer” as it jeopardized its chances of defending from the US and the regime sees it more as an obligation given the fact the US challenged its survival.8 Leaving an impression they were ready to act in order for the regime to survive. As the US started fighting a war on terrorism, and the war of Iraq (March 2003) fears of the DPRK exporting missiles and nuclear technology to terrorist groups grew; Concerns surged when in December 2002 a cargo ship directed to Iraq, was intercepted containing North Korean missiles9. Among the fears the Bush administration had, was the continuous collaboration and exchange of technology between the DPRK, Syria, Pakistan, Iran, Yemen and Libya10. The Bush administration started to lobby around the globe for military support with Seoul, Tokyo, and Moscow. The Bush administration very influenced by the astonishing first months of war in Iraq and the fall of Saddam Hussein started using those events as a bargaining power; a clear example was elaborate by Dick Cheney, Bush’s Vice President; “If there is anyone in the world today who doubts the seriousness of the Bush doctrine, I would urge that person to consider the fate of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein’s regime,” 11 said Cheney ARCHIVE1 JUNE 2003
4.1. The Six Party Talks
Within the global perspective the People’s Republic of China (PRC) instead, wanted to avoid a refugee crisis and military action right in their borders, Beijing started to lobby on Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear program. Without having any results Beijing propose itself as mediator between Washington and Pyongyang12. Given the hawkish attitude from the White House those years, the Chinese diplomacy saw as a potential risk of a pre-emptive military strike right at its borders, the Chinese diplomacy worked a way to avoid such situation, they installed in Beijing a dialogue table between the interested actors in the region, the dialogue was meant to develop an agreement just like the 1994 agreed framework. These talks will be named from now on the “Six party talks” these talks will extend from 2006 till 200813 with the aim of solving peacefully through talks the North Korean nuclear weapon program. The six party talks will see Japan, ROK, US, PRC, DPRK and Russia as participants. The talks will be hectic and will lead nowhere, the North Korean diplomacy skillfully managed to obtain several benefits from the actors involved without giving anything in exchange. These talks are important as they are the last talks that gave some sort of “result” to the American administration. In this way the six party talks begun. There were different expectation on how the dialogue was meant to be developed, the North Koreans wanted a continuation of the step by step solution like in the 1994 agreed framework, and hoped to continue down that road till conclude with was agreed in the 1994 agreed framework14. The US instead were aiming at a full dismantlement policy “Dismantle first, dialogue later “, by being asked to do so the North Korean delegation expected to be reassured of the US’ intentions with a Non-aggression-treaty, the Bush administration offered only a verbal assurance15. This approach was rejected from both parties making difficult to negotiate. According to Boucher on April 28, in this trilateral meeting, North Koreans officially admitted possession of nuclear weapon16 and they stated that they had already managed to reprocess the nuclear fuel in the old nuclear facility (Yongbyon). According to Collin Powell in this meeting the North Korean negotiating team offered their nuclear arsenals as a bargaining chip stating that they “might get rid of all their nuclear programs…and stop their missile exports. For “something considerable in return” “The North Koreans acknowledged a number of things that they were doing, and in effect said these are now up for further discussion. They did put forward a plan that would ultimately deal with their nuclear capability and their missile activities, but they of course expect something considerable in return,”17 According to Powell
The first two years of the six party round talks were not very fruitful, negotiations moved slowly and there was a perception that both parties wanted to gain time; On one hand it gave the impression that the DPRK wanted to gain time to continue with their nuclear program and in the meantime be accepted as a nuclear state; the American administration was hoping to delay as much as possible their nuclear program in the hope to obtain a North Korean implosion that would have led to a regime change.
Important to notice to growing role of PRC into this negotiations, PRC is seen as key factor to legitimize the negotiation process, the first meeting didn’t have any positive outcome beside the facts that both parties talked sincerely about mistrust and communication issues, both parts had a long list of mutual recrimination, this meeting was only useful for the purpose of establishing a canal of communication.
The North Koreans mainly wanted to obtain from the six party talks was a formal assurance of non-aggression from the US before even agreeing on anything. Which Bush denied18 to formalize although he proposed a verbal assurance of non-aggression; on the other hand the American administration wanted to obtain a complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement” of its nuclear programs (CVID).19 The Bush administration to achieve the CVID, proposed a short term freeze of the plutonium, HEU program, and a return of the AIEA inspectors; In exchange DPRK would obtain a removal off terrorist funding states, and a softening of the economic sanctions20.
Finally in 2005, it was issued a joint declaration, where as a result of the previous meetings the parties agreed on some key points in order to obtain a common ground to continue the dialogue. The main issues that the parties agreed on were:
· Goal of Denuclearization of the Korean peninsula
· DPRK would still be able to pursue nuclear energy with peaceful purposes under the NPT and the watch of AIEA
· The US agreed on not attacking DPRK or placing nuclear weapons in the Korean peninsula
· ROK agreed of not accepting nuclear nukes on its territory
· The resume of the construction of the two LWR21
· A verbal assurance from the Bush administration of non-attacking22
Right after the joint declaration, an unexpected announcement from DPRK’s Foreign minister Paek Nam-sun, stated that it was “essential” for the US to provide with LWR “as early as possible” as the DPRK would not dismantle its nuclear deterrent before receiving the reactors. The following month, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, was informed that the North Korean officials had already reprocessed the 8000 spent fuel rods from the Yongbyon reactor. The US’ unwillingness to seal a deal with the DPRK could be seen in its behaviour, on one hand the US was signing the agreed declaration, with the other one was “slapping” the DPRK with sanctions with the Executive order 13382,23 the US proceeded to sanctions eight DPRK entities (including Banco Delta Asia) for
Higly enriched Uranium: The nuclear fuel used in a nuclear reactor needs to have a higher concentration of the U235 isotope than that which exists in natural uranium ore. U235 when concentrated (or “enriched”) is fissionable in light-water reactors. The heat energy released, by the controlled nuclear reaction within the nuclear reactor, can be harnessed to produce electricity. Commercially, the U235 isotope is enriched to 3 to 5% (from the natural state of 0.7%) and is then further processed to create nuclear fuel. https://www.nrc.gov/materials/fuel-cycle-fac/ur-enrichment.html
4 KEDO Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization- was the organization in charge of executing all the operations from the construction of the 2 reactors to the training of DPRK personnel, and the delivery of the promised goods in accordance to the 1994 Agreed Framework
5 Sharon Richardson, Perspectives On U.S. Policy Toward North Korea (Lexington Books 2006).
7 KIHL Young Whan, KIM Hong Nack, Op. Cit., p. 20.
12 http://www.china-un.org/eng/hyyfy/t28285.htm The trilateral talks seem to have provided an acceptable compromise.
13 Shulong, C., & Xinzhu, L. (2008). THE SIX PARTY TALKS: A CHINESE PERSPECTIVE. Asian Perspective, 32(4), 29-43. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/42704652
14 Ashizawa, Kuniko. “Tokyo’s Quandary, Beijing’s Moment in the Six-Party Talks: A Regional Multilateral Approach to Resolve the DPRK’s Nuclear Problem.” Pacific Affairs 79, no. 3 (2006): 411-32. http://www.jstor.org/stable/40022085.
15 Anthony H Cordesman, Changing Military Balance In The Koreas And Northeast Asia (2015).
18 Peter Scoblic and J. Peter Scoblic, U.S. Vs. Them (Penguin Books 2008).
19 Izumikawa, Y. (2008). NORTH KOREA’S SECOND NUCLEAR CRISIS AND NORTHEAST ASIAN SECURITY. Pacific Affairs, 81(4), 649-651.
23 Executive Order 13382 of June 28, 2005, blocks the property of persons engaged in proliferation activities and their support networks. OFAC administers this blocking program, which initially applied to eight organizations in the DPRK, Iran, and Syria. Treasury, together with the Department of State, is authorized to designate additional WMD proliferators and their supporters under the new authorities provided by this Executive Order. https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Documents/wmd.pdf