*EPF405  02/06/92 *
(Article on Kanter before SFRC subcommittee)  (560)
By Jane A. Morse
USIA Staff Writer
Washington -- Although North Korea finally signed the International Atomic
Energy Agency's (IAEA) safeguards agreement last week, a U.S. official
expressed concern about whether the agreement will be implemented.

In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian
and Pacific Affairs, Arnold L. Kanter, under secretary of state for
political affairs, told senators February 6 North Korea's "track record
does not leave one optimistic."

North Korea has been accumulating nuclear expertise since the mid-1960s when
it acquired a small research reactor from the then Soviet Union.  This was
operated under IAEA safeguards as condition of sale, Kanter explained.  But
since 1987, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has operated an
unsafeguarded, indigenously developed reactor of a type suitable for
producing plutonium, the building-block of nuclear weapons, according to

U.S. intelligence shows that the North Koreans are constructing another,
larger reactor and a reprocessing plant, he said.

Although the DPRK signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in December
1985, it was not until a week ago that North Korea took the first step
toward compliance, which involves signing a nuclear safeguards agreement
with the IAEA that allows for IAEA inspections.  This second agreement must
be ratified by the North Korean government, a step the United States hopes
will take place before February 19 when the North-South Prime Ministerial
talks begin.

"We have to be cautious, even skeptical, until we see whether and how the
North Koreans move forward," Kanter said.

The United States fears proliferation on the Korean peninsula and
instability in northeast Asia if North Korea attains nuclear weapons
capability, Kanter said.  "We could also face the danger of the covert
export of nuclear materials and/or technology by the DPRK to unstable areas
of the world," Kanter noted in his prepared text.  "Such a harrowing
scenario is in no nation's interest, but it is, unfortunately, not the
stuff of mere science fiction."

In responding to questions, Kanter emphasized that "the heart of our
estimate of whether the North Koreans are following through on their
obligations connected to their nuclear program will be the fact of
inspections -- not whether they signed or ratified the IAEA paper and
agreement -- but the result of the IAEA inspections."

He added that the IAEA inspections must be "complemented and reinforced by a
separate, effective inspection regime in the North-South Non-nuclear
Agreement."  This bilateral agreement, which has already been signed by
1oth Koreas with the blessing of the United States, allows -- if and when
implemented -- inspections of military as well as civilian nuclear
facilities on each side, including U.S. military facilities in South Korea,
Kanter noted.

The United States, Kanter said in response to questions, "is reasonably
confident" that implementation of the IAEA safeguards and the inspection
regime, along with the bilateral inspection agreement, "will in combination
give us high confidence that North Korea could not have significant nuclear
weapons capability."

Kanter noted that the South Koreans are urging North Korea to begin now with
"trial inspections as a confidence-building measure without waiting for the
machinery to be set up under either IAEA or under the bilateral agreement."
 This would involve inspections of one military and one civilian facility
each for both sides, he explained.