02 September 1998
US-NORTH KOREA TALKS WILL RESUME ON SEPTEMBER 3(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 framework." 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 Korea. "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.