USIS Washington 

02 September 1998


(State Dept. backgrounder, SecState remarks) (570)

By Jane A. Morse

USIA Diplomatic Correspondence

Washington -- US-North Korean bilateral talks will resume in New York
City September 3, according to a State Department official.

Talking to reporters on background September 2, the official, who did
not wish to be identified, said that North Korea has yet to provide an
explanation to the United States for its provocative test flight over
Japan of its new missile, the Taepo Dong 1.

The North Korean delegation had failed to attend the meetings set for
September 2, claiming they had not received guidance from Pyongyang,
the State Department official said.

On August 31, North Korea test fired its new Taepo Dong 1 missile that
has a range of more than 1500 kilometers. The missile flew over
Honshu, Japan's main island and landed in the Pacific Island.

Some intelligence officials have been quoted in the press as saying
the Taepo Dong 1 brings North Korea closer to developing the
capability to build a long-range intercontinental missile.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has said the United States is
"very displeased" with the North Korean missile test. But she said the
United States continues to support the US-North Korean pact known as
the Agreed Framework.

"We have to keep in mind what it is that we have accomplished," she
said in an interview conducted late September 1 on CNN's "Late
Edition" program.

"This Agreed Framework that we have negotiated with the North Koreans
has, in fact, frozen the nuclear materials that would be available for
nuclear weapons," the Secretary of State said. "We are concerned about
a number of things that are going on in North Korea. But to the best
of our ability, they are still in compliance with this agreed

Under the Agreed Framework, North Korea agreed to dismantle its gas
graphite nuclear reactor program, which produced weapons grade
material. North Korea also agreed to engage in dialogue with South
Korea, remain in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and to meet obligations
set by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In exchange, the United States spearheaded the establishment of the
Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), an
international consortium lead by the United States, the Republic of
Korea, Japan and the European Union.

The main purpose of KEDO is to finance the building of two light water
reactors in the DPRK to meet North Korean energy needs. These reactors
are considered safer in that they use fuel that produces significantly
fewer byproducts that can be used for nuclear weapons. The reactors
will be of South Korean design.

The State Department official discounted the possibility that the KEDO
light water reactor plan could be derailed by Japan's angry reaction
to the North Korean missile test. Press reports say Japan has halted
its food aid and suspended all charter flights to and from North

"The Japanese have made a number of statements about what they're
going to do in their bilateral relationship, but that's between Japan
and the DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea)," the State
Department official said.

The US official maintained that Japan's bilateral response does not
impact KEDO.

Japan, however, along with all the KEDO members, has decided to
postpone plans to sign a burdensharing agreement to finance the costs
of the light water reactor project for North Korea, the official said.