MISSILE SALES BY NORTH KOREA (Senate - June 25, 1998)

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Mr. MURKOWSKI. Mr. President, I rise to call attention to an article which ran on the front page of the Washington Post yesterday morning regarding missile sales by North Korea. Although North Korea has denied selling missiles in the past, I for one have never taken them at their word on this and have long believed that they have been and continue to be actively engaged in the weapons trade; without question, the sale of weapons to rogue states has been and continues to be a major source of revenue for the North Korea government.

Well, despite their past denials, the Washington Post reports that North Korea now admits to selling weapons to countries such as Iran, Iraq and Syria, and has actively assisted these countries with their own missile development programs.

Mr. President, this article really comes as no surprise--it simply verifies what many of us have suspected all along. But I think we should also consider for a moment whether we have, in no small way, contributed to North Korea's missile development program.

I am referring, of course, to the 1994 Agreed Framework, whereby North Korea would dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for American assistance in building two light-water reactors. Without going into the details, Japan and South Korea would contribute several billion dollars worth of assistance to the construction of the reactors, and the United States would also supply heavy oil to North Korea until the reactors were up and running--this would help North Korea meet its energy needs pending construction of the facilities.

Mr. President, the Agreed Framework, no matter how well intentioned, puts a gaping hole in the international sanctions which we have levied against North Korea. The United Sates has already given close to $200 million taxpayer dollars, perhaps more, in combined food aid and to support the Korean Economic Development Organization (KEDO), which is tasked with sending heavy fuel oil to North Korea and carrying out other activities under the Agreed Framework. For a country whose economy is completely isolated and strapped for cash, this assistance frees up sizable amounts of money which North Korea can invest in other areas--including their national missile development program.

So, the North Koreans use the aid which comes from the United States, Japan, South Korea and other countries to support other aspects of their economy, freeing up resources which can be used to develop weapons. These weapons are then sold to our enemies, and pointed at our troops, our allies, and even us.

Mr. President, last year two North Korean defectors indicated in testimony before the Senate Government Affairs Committee that the North Korean missile development program already poses a verifiable threat to American forces in Okinawa and is on track to threaten parts of Alaska by the turn of the Century.

Mr. President, I have no problem with humanitarian aid in itself--this is not the issue. The issue is whether we have an effective policy toward gaining cooperation with North Korea? I would argue, and I think the facts back me up, that we do not! Think about it. Every concession North Korea has ever granted has been on their terms--not ours, theirs! And when things do not appear to go their way, they take action which we try to deter through additional concessions. Sounds to me like the tail is wagging the dog.

Last month, the New York Times ran a story indicating that North Korea announced it would suspend their efforts to carry out the 1994 nuclear freeze agreement, the Agreed Framework. I would ask that a copy of this article appear in the Record at this time.

What does this tell us, Mr. President? That North Korea is not committed to a freeze; and that the freeze is simply a vehicle by which North Korea can exploit aid and other concessions from the United States and our allies.

I am not at this time suggesting that we should cut off all assistance to North Korea, nor am I suggesting that we should cut off funding and assistance to KEDO. We can discuss these issues during the appropriations process--and I suspect we will.

But I am encouraging my colleagues to think hard about this issue. Last week, we were honored to receive President Kim Dae-jung from the Republic of Korea. He hinted that the United States should consider easing sanctions against North Korea. Well, Mr. President, in light of these incidents, I don't know how we could possibly consider easing sanctions against North Korea--although I wonder whether we haven't already vis a vis KEDO and other assistance which we continue to extend to the North Korean government.

Mr. President, when the Senate turns back to the Defense Authorization bill, Senator Kyl and I will offer an amendment which requires the Secretary of Defense to study the issue of effective deployment of a theater missile defense system for the Asia-Pacific region. This is obviously needed to protect our troops in Okinawa and on the Korean peninsula. This amendment will further require that Korea, Japan and Taiwan be allowed to purchase, should they desire, such a system from the United States. I suspect that all of them would be extremely interested in such a defense system, Mr. President, and I think it is incumbent upon us to extend this protection to them.

Finally, Mr. President, I would simply reiterate that the United States needs a policy whereby we can effectively gain cooperation with North Korea. KEDO does not appear to be that framework. Perhaps we need to evaluate this, or whether a different approach is needed.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that relevant articles be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:

From the Washington Post


N. Korea Admits Selling Missiles--Move Seen as Test of U.S. Embargo


SEOUL, June 16--North Korea declared today that it will continue to develop, test and export ballistic missiles, officially acknowledging for the first time a clandestine weapons trade that analysis say has helped build arsenals in Iran, Iraq and Syria.

North Korea's admission added to tensions in Asia following nuclear testing by India and Pakistan, which has also reportedly purchased some of North Korea's Soviet-inspired missiles.

The blunt disclosure of the missile program appears to be aimed directly at the United States, which has imposed a near total economic embargo on North Korea. Pyongyang has been trying for years to persuade Washington to lift the embargo, which is strangling North Korea at a time when its economy is in desperate need of outside assistance.

In Washington, the State Department branded the North Korean statement `irresponsible' and rejected the economic arguments Pyongyang offered to justify missile sales, staff writer Thomas W. Lippman reported.

`Their missile proliferation activities have been of concern to us for a long time,' a State Department official said. `It's well known that they sell missiles and technology virtually indiscriminately, including to regions in the Middle East and South Asia where we didn't think it was wise.'

If North Korea wants improved relations with the United States and an easing of sanctions, the official said, it should restrain its missile sales, not expand them.

The United States has imposed sanctions on North Korea four times for missile exports, most recently in April of this year after Pakistan conducted flight tests of missile of North Korean design known in Pakistan as the Ghauri.

Many U.S. officials have pointed to North Korea's missile sales to Iraq and other states as evidence that the Stalinist government in Pyongyang remains a threat to global security. The Clinton administration has pressed North Korea repeatedly to stop exporting missiles--which, until today, North Korea had flatly denied doing.

`We will continue developing, testing and deploying missiles,' said the official Korean Central News Agency, monitored in Tokyo. `If the United States really wants to prevent our missile export, it should lift the economic embargo as early as possible and make a compensation for the losses to be caused by discontinued missile export. . . . Our missile export is aimed at obtaining foreign money, which we need at present.'

It was unclear whether North Korean officials had timed their statements to take advantage of concern over the Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests. North Korea, facing desperate food shortages and an economy that has been in a downward spiral for eight years, is widely seen as a shrewd manipulator capable of turning tensions on the Indian subcontinent into an opportunity for itself.

Pyongyang also may be trying to build on any momentum created by South Korean President Kim Dae Jung's recent visit to the United States. Kim, who favors broader peaceful engagement with North Korea, suggested gently to President Clinton and members of Congress that sanctions could be lifted gradually in exchange for reciprocal acts of good faith by Pyongyang.

By pressing the missile point just three days after Kim's return to Seoul, officials in North Korea may be hoping to capitalize on any new softening of Washington's resolve on sanctions.

Donald Gregg, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and now chairman of the Korea Society in New York, said he met today with officials of the North Korean U.N. delegation and was told they were dissatisfied with the pace of oil deliveries from the United States promised under a 1994 agreement. In that deal, North Korea agreed to suspend its suspected nuclear weapons program in exchange for two new nuclear reactors and 500,000 tons of fuel oil each year until the reactors were producing electricity.

Several oil shipments have been delayed, and Gregg said the North Koreans complained that the United States was not living up to its end of the deal. He said they argued that steady deliveries of fuel are especially important now during the agricultural growing season.

Gregg said the North Koreans also may feel that there had been less movement on the sanctions issue than they expected following Kim's visit to Washington. That, combined with irritation over the oil deliveries, may have spurred today's announcement, he said.

`The hard-liners may have thought, `Well, we've got to make a move,' Gregg said, adding that it is good that North Korea's missile program had finally been `flushed out.'

Pyongyang's announcement is not likely to win any friends in Washington. `With missiles of the United States, which is at war with [North Korea] technically, aiming at our territory, we find no reason to refrain from developing and deploying missiles to counter them,' the North Korean statement said.

The United States and North Korea began talks last year in which American negotiators hope to persuade Pyongyang to freeze its missile program and join an international agreement to restrict missile proliferation. The talks have gone virtually nowhere; the latest round, set for last August in New York, was canceled, and no new sessions are scheduled.

North Korea's missiles have long been a matter of grave concern in Asia. In 1993, it test-fired a medium-range Rodong-1 model into the Sea of Japan, demonstrating that parts of Japan, a key U.S. ally in the region, were well within the missile's 1,000-mile range.

Defense analysts say North Korea has since developed the Rodong-2 missile, which has a range of 1,500 miles, putting virtually all of Northeast Asia, including the 80 million residents of greater Tokyo, within striking distance. Analysts believe North Korea also is developing missiles with even longer ranges.

North Korea's provocative statements about its missile program come as Pyongyang has been more receptive and open on other issues. In recent months, relations between North and South Korea have thawed somewhat, especially on economic matters.

Under Kim Dae Jung's `sunshine policy' of engaging North Korea, many South Korean business leaders have been traveling to the North to discuss possible ventures there. For example, Chung Ju Yung, founder and honorary chairman of the Hyundai conglomerate, entered North Korea today with a donation of 500 cattle for the impoverished nation.



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From the New York Times International, Wednesday, May 13, 1998


North Korea Says It Will Unseal Reactor


Beijing, May 12--North Korean officials have announced that they are suspending their efforts to carry out the 1994 nuclear freeze agreement that was intended to dismantle that country's nuclear program. United States officials have said the program was intended to produce weapons.

Protesting that the United States had failed to honor promises to send fuel oil, a high-ranking member of the North Korean Government told a visiting academic on Saturday that North Korea had recently decided to unseal a nuclear reactor that under the agreement, was to have been closed permanently, and had also barred technicians from packing the last of the reactor's spent fuel rods (or shipment out of the country. The rods contain plutonium that can be used in nuclear weapons.

Although North Korea's decision to reopen the plant, in Yong Byon, about 90 miles from the capital, Pyongyang, had no immediate effect, some arms experts called it an ominous symbolic action.

`This is like somebody dusting off the old .45 and making sure that it shines, but not loading it,' said Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. `They're sending a clever signal in our direction saying, remember, we can stop cooperating.' Mr. Milhollin also said the approximately 200 rods did not contain enough plutonium to pose a nuclear threat.

Under the 1994 agreement, North Korea pledged to dismantle its nuclear program in exchange for American promises to coordinate the building of two light-water reactors to generate electricity and to deliver 500 metric tons of oil annually. North Korea also promised to ease barriers to trade. Although the United States has had trouble raising the billions of dollars required for those measures, it has repeatedly said it would carry out its side of the agreement.

But last Friday, North Korea's Government-run Korean Central News Agency expressed deep displeasure with the pace of the United States' efforts, and hinted that the North Korean Government might restart its nuclear program. North Korea `should no longer lend an ear to the empty promises of the United States side, but open and readjust the frozen nuclear facilities and do everything our own way,' a statement from an unnamed Foreign Ministry official said.

And the next day, North Korea's Foreign Minister, Kim Young Nam, elaborated on the statement in a private two-hour meeting in Pyongyang with an American expert on Korea, Selig Harrison, of the Twentieth Century Fund.

According to Mr. Harrison, Mr. Kim said that on April 19, the North Koreans had opened up the previously sealed plant to `conduct maintenance activities,' and had also halted the `canning of spent fuel rods' from the reactor, which is being conducted under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Agency supervisors have been asked to leave the reactor site, although not the country. Two hundred of the reactor's 8,000 rods have not yet been prepared, he said.

`We are keeping up our progress in implementing the nuclear freeze agreement, but the U.S. is behind,' Mr. Kim told Mr. Harrison, who spoke with reporters in Beijing en route back to the United States. `So we have now decided to slow down and suspend certain aspects of the agreement.' He said that once the United States had a chance to `catch up,' North Korea would resume cooperation.

The North Koreans contend that the United States is behind schedule in heavy fuel shipments and in its preparations to build the new reactors, to be completed by 2003.

On Saturday, the State Department said the United States had lived up to its obligations, noting that even though oil shipments have been slow for the first part of the year, the stipulated quota would be met by year's end. `Anything that would happen to undermine the integrity of that agreement from the North Korean side or from the outside would be, in our view, extremely lamentable and regrettable,' Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering said.

A State Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity said he had no information about the unsealing of the plant. He said that whether that act violates the agreement depends on what those `maintenance activities are'

Although North Korea has generally honored its commitments under the 1994 agreement, the United States has been unhappy with what it sees as North Korea's tepid attempts to improve relations with South Korea. North Korea, in turn, had been angered by it regarded as the United States' halfhearted efforts to remove trade barriers--efforts that have so far been mostly limited to allowing phone and fax lines.

Plans for the two reactors promised under the agreement have also been slowed by the financial crisis in Japan and South Korea. The two countries have delayed payments of billions of dollars in cash they had pledged.

Despite the announcement, Mr. Harrison said North Korean leaders had made some conciliatory statements during his talks. He said they signaled that they might be willing to negotiate with both the United States and South Korea to create a threeway peacekeeping force and structure for the tense Korean demilitarized zone. North Korea has previously refused to deal with Seoul as an equal partner on the issue.