Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing

FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 1999

5-8U.S. Citizen Arrested in DPRK/Possible Violations of Geneva or Vienna Conventions/Lack of Privacy Act Waiver/Trilateral Meeting/Dr. Perry/Site Visit to Kumchang-ni/No Violation of 1994 U.S. - DPR Agreement

DPB #81
FRIDAY, JUNE 25, 1999, 12:45 P.M.


QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit about this American citizen who's been arrested by the North Koreans?

MR. RUBIN: On that issue, the government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has confirmed to Swedish authorities, who are the US protecting power in North Korea, that an American citizen was arrested on June 17 in the Rajin Sonbong area. The American is being investigated for alleged violations of law. The Swedish consulate in DPRK has requested consular access under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and the Interim Consular Agreement between the US and the DPRK. We do not have a Privacy Act release from the individual, and therefore are unable to provide additional details.

QUESTION: Has this subject come up today in the trilateral talks?

MR. RUBIN: I'm not aware of that, but I'll have to check for you.

QUESTION: Since the arrest - no consular access - what does the Geneva or Vienna Convention require with respect to access?

MR. RUBIN: Certainly quick access and this doesn't.

QUESTION: Quicker than that?

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: Is this a case where a guy just - (inaudible) - straight across the border?

MR. RUBIN: Again, I wouldn't be able to provide any more details because of the Privacy Act.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) - further violation of the Vienna Convention?

MR. RUBIN: I think I didn't say that; I very carefully didn't say that. We want quick access, we want early access. I don't believe there's a number of days written in the Vienna Convention, so I will have to check with the lawyers on how to describe our concern that they haven't had quick access.

QUESTION: Can you say whether this is a Korean-American or an American?

MR. RUBIN: An American citizen.

QUESTION: Male or female?

MR. RUBIN: I'm told that because of the lack of a Privacy Act waiver, I'm not legally able to provide you more information on that.

QUESTION: The law they allegedly violated - do you have anything on that?

MR. RUBIN: Something to do with their efforts to build a hospital in a garment manufacturing business in North Korea, is my understanding.

QUESTION: Has the trilateral begun yet; and if they're not discussing this, what will they be discussing?

MR. RUBIN: The State Department Counselor, Wendy Sherman, will lead the US at today's trilateral meeting which will conclude tomorrow, June 26. The ROK side will be led by Deputy Foreign Minister Jang and the government of Japan by Director General Kato. The meeting will continue discussions on a comprehensive approach to reducing tensions and instability on the Korean Peninsula.

As you know, Dr. Perry met with senior Japanese and Korean officials in Honolulu from April 23 to 25, to continue consultations in conjunction with his North Korea policy review. He earlier traveled to Seoul. The three sides agreed to establish a trilateral coordination and oversight group -- got a new acronym, TCOG - to institutionalize coordination on North Korea policy issues, and have met since in Tokyo and Seoul May 24 and 29 respectively.

The talks are not intended to specifically address any current situation. They are aimed at continuing the policy coordination among the parties. That doesn't mean that issues don't arise, but that's not their principal function.

QUESTION: Did they have -- (inaudible) --

MR. RUBIN: I don't know what time the meeting started. I'll have to check for you.* Related -- as I told some of you earlier, I'm able to provide the report on the site visit to Kumchang-ni. On May 18 through 24, a US Department of State team traveled to North Korea with the purpose of visiting the underground facility. The visit took place on an exceptional basis. Throughout the visit, North Korea provided the US delegation with good cooperation.

[* The Spokesman's office released this answer following the press briefing: The Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group (TCOG), comprised of representatives from the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea, began their meeting today at 2:30 p.m. They will conclude tomorrow.]

The delegation was permitted to conduct all activities previously agreed under the March 16 US-North Korea agreement. These activities included measuring the dimensions of all underground areas at the main complex, videotaping those areas and photographing agreed above-ground facilities supporting the site at Kumchang-ni.

The DPRK allowed the delegation to conduct the visit in the manner the US deemed necessary. The US delegation spent the next two days underground - after a preliminary orientation -- in order to ensure that it covered all the underground areas. They criss-crossed those areas a number of times at a pace and according to a plan determined by the delegation in consultation with North Korea. The delegation saw no evidence of North Korean efforts to conceal any portion of the facility.

The delegation viewed a large underground tunnel complex, excavation of the complex was almost complete but a great deal of additional finishing work remained to be done, with almost all of the tunnels still bare rock. There was no indication that equipment was ever installed at this location. In addition, the delegation visited above-ground installations - dams under construction, the electric substation, as well as various utility buildings and construction support facilities.

Based on the evidence gathered by the US delegation and a subsequent review of that evidence by technical experts, we have reached the following conclusions about the underground site at Kumchang-ni. The site at Kumchang-ni does not contain a plutonium production reactor or a reprocessing plant either completed or under construction. Given the current size and configuration of the underground area, the site is unsuitable for the installation of a plutonium production reactor - especially a graphite moderated reactor of the type North Korea has built at Yongbyon. The site is also not well designed for a reprocessing plant. Nevertheless, since the site is a large underground area, it could support such a facility in the future with substantial modifications.

At this point in time, the US cannot rule out the possibility that the site was intended for other nuclear related uses, although it does not appear to be currently configured to support any large industrial nuclear function. We have concluded at present that the site at Kumchang-ni does not violate the 1994 US-DPR agreed framework. New construction of graphite moderator reactors and related facilities in North Korea would be a violation of the framework.

There are some other details in the statement I will release after the briefing. On this subject --

QUESTION: Do you have any conclusions as to what it was going to be used for?

MR. RUBIN: At this point, we are doing an analysis of what we saw, and we have made, as I indicated, certain conclusions as to what it's not well-suited for. As I also indicated, we cannot rule out the possibility of what it was intended for. At this time, that is as far as our conclusions will go.

QUESTION: Follow-up -- you don't think this was kind of red herring designed to lead people astray, that perhaps got a little --

MR. RUBIN: Well, we think that it's important when we have concerns -- significant concerns -- and suspicions, as we've had, that we need an opportunity to conduct these type of visits. These visits yielded the following information, and I don't think there's any harm in that at all. That's a pretty good way to do business. That's why we've reserved the right to return in May of next year.

QUESTION: Did they ask them what the site was intended for?

MR. RUBIN: I'm sure there were discussions to that effect. I think, as I indicated the last time someone asked me that question, what we're more concerned about is what we think it could be used for than what they say, because there have been many cases in which we've had concerns about their stated intentions on a number of issues. So we've tended to judge things based on verification, and that's what we've done in this case.

QUESTION: But if you asked and they told you something, did what they tell you --

MR. RUBIN: Well, if you're interested in their view, I welcome the opportunity for you to talk to them about it and they'll give you their view. What I'm in a position to do is tell you what our verification and our visit yielded in terms of our conclusions, based on what they saw and their technical assessments, not based on what the stated purpose was or was not.

QUESTION: Did they find any evidence that work was continuing there, or was it just basically an abandoned site?

MR. RUBIN: I think it was a site being excavated. It was not an abandoned site, to my knowledge.

QUESTION: Work was continuing while they were there?

MR. RUBIN: Well, I don't know that there weren't - the impression that I got was that this is a hole in the ground that is being excavated; that they are engaged in excavating it. As currently configured, the excavation was almost complete, but a great deal of additional finishing work remained to be done with almost all of the tunnel still their rock. But it was not abandoned, to my knowledge. Any more on this --

QUESTION: This is the report that you've been promising for several days?

MR. RUBIN: Correct.

QUESTION: Okay. Just wanted to make sure this was it.

MR. RUBIN: This is it.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MR. RUBIN: You're welcome.


(The briefing concluded at 1:30 P.M.)

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