Tracking Number:  213533

Title:  "Solarz Pessimistic About North Korean Nuclear Intentions." Speaking before the Asia Society, Representative Stephen Solarz described his two-and-a-half hour talks with North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, saying he left the talks pessimistic regarding North Korean intentions of complying with IAEA nuclear safeguards. (920205)

Date:   19920205

*EPF304 02/05/92 * SOLARZ PESSIMISTIC ABOUT NORTH KOREAN NUCLEAR INTENTIONS (Article on Solarz trip report at Asia Society) (1100) By Jane A. Morse USIA Staff Writer Washington -- Two and a half hours worth of talks with North Korea's "Great Leader" left U.S. Representative Stephen Solarz (Democrat of New York) pessimistic regarding North Korea's intentions of complying with the International Atomic Energy Agency's safeguards (IAEA).

Solarz, who has served as the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs since 1981, described his recent meeting with North Korean President Kim Il Sung during a February 4 talk at the Asia Society.

Solarz reported that Kim, who will turn 80 years old this April, seemed to be "in remarkably good condition," yet in spite of the smiles he kept on his face gave only "utterly unresponsive or completely negative answers" to the congressman's many questions regarding the nuclear intentions of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and possible cooperation with the IAEA.

Although Pyongyang denies working toward nuclear weapons production capabilities, U.S. intelligence sources say North Korea may soon be able to reprocess weapons-grade plutonium and to build an atomic device. And while North Korea has signed the IAEA nuclear safeguard agreement, it has not given any indication that it will let the agency's inspectors examine suspected nuclear weapons-related sites.

Noting the DPRK's long and fearsome track record of terrorist activities against the South, Solarz said a nuclear-armed North Korea -- which he described as the world's most tyrannical, rogue regime -- would create a "dangerous and destabilizing situation" for the Asia-Pacific region.

"Were North Korea to become a nuclear weapons state, it would, in my judgment, really increase the possibility of a major conventional war on the Korean peninsula," Solarz said. "It would certainly exponentially increase the possible use of nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula.

"At the very least," he added, "it would generate tremendous pressures on South Korea to go nuclear as well. And would probably, over time, bring into question Japan's continuing commitment to remain a non-nuclear state."

Furthermore, with North Korea's desperate financial situation, it is not inconceivable that it would be tempted to sell nuclear weapons components to countries eager to join the "nuclear club" as a way to raise foreign exchange, Solarz said. "That would bring an end to any meaningful effort on our part and on the part of other countries to prevent the widespread proliferation of nuclear weapons," he said.

What should be the U.S. response to North Korea on the nuclear issue? "To paraphrase the words of former President Reagan, when it comes to North Korea, I think we need to 'mistrust but verify,'" Solarz advised. "Until such time as the inspections actually take place, it remains to be seen whether North Korea is simply engaged in an effort to deflect pressures for economic sanctions and the possible use of military force to prevent them from becoming a nuclear weapons state; or whether they have in fact decided, because of their perilous economic condition, because of their desire for normal relations with Japan and the United States, to forego the achievement" which they are close to attaining, Solarz said.

The congressman emphasized that the United States government must recognize that the only satisfactory solution to this problem is that North Korea must dismantle any and all of its reprocessing facilities. He added that "our experience in Iraq demonstrates that if a satisfactory (IAEA) inspection regime is going to be established in North Korea, it would by definition have to be a regime in which challenge inspections are permitted."

Solarz praised the approach of the Bush administration toward North Korea and noted U.S. concessions: the withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from its facilities in South Korea; the cancellation of the annual joint U.S.-Republic of Korea military exercise called "Team Spirit"; and, high level U.S.-DPRK talks.

But if North Korea does not cooperate on nuclear issues, the United States should move through the United Nations Security Council for mandatory international economic sanctions, Solarz advised. He said if that route fails, "other options" -- including military force -- should be considered. He qualified this by explaining that military force would depend on the circumstances and on cooperation from South Korea and Japan.

Solarz was invited to visit North Korea by the DPRK's foreign minister. The two-day visit is his second; his first trip was in 1980.

During his recent swing through Asia, Solarz also visited Cambodia, where he talked to Premier Hun Sen and Prince Sihanouk. Solarz said he found that despite the commitment of all the Khmer factions to the United Nations peace agreement, the peace is very fragile. Political "disappearances" and demonstrations are threatening progress; all the factions are maneuvering to extract advantage for themselves, he observed.

If the agreement is to work, "it will be absolutely essential for the U.N. peacekeeping forces that are an essential part of this agreement to be sent to Phnom Penh as soon as possible," Solarz said. "But without a substantial on-the-ground U.N. presence, I would have to say the probabilities are that this agreement will unravel. The U.N. presence is necessary to keep the peace, to reverse the continuing disputes between the factions...and to begin the process of implementing the agreement by gathering the four factional armies into cantonments, and then pursuant to the agreement, disarming and demobilizing them," he said.

Solarz acknowledged the displeasure of some of his congressional colleagues with the U.N. peace agreement because to them it represents an "immoral compromise" by giving the Khmer Rouge a role in the political settlement. But Solarz pointed out that without a willingness to allow the Khmer Rouge to participate, no agreement at all would be possible.

If the agreement collapses, Solarz warned that Cambodia "will be doomed to become a Southeast Asian Lebanon, in which the fighting goes on indefinitely and perhaps in perpetuity."

According to Solarz, among the fundamental objectives of the United States regarding Cambodia are to: bring the fighting to an end; help repatriate the estimated 300,000 displaced Cambodians now languishing in refugee camps in Thailand; and, prevent the Khmer Rouge from returning to power.

It is absolutely essential, he said, to move the power struggle from the battlefield to the ballot box. He urged all members of the U.S. Congress to vote in favor of funding the 350 million dollars the United States must contribute to make the U.N. peacekeeping effort work.


File Identification:  02/05/92, EP-304
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Thematic Codes:  1AC
Target Areas:  EA
PDQ Text Link:  213533
USIA Notes:  *92020504.EPF