Stalemated LWR Project to Prompt
Pyongyang to Restart N-Program


Pyongyang has warned Washington that it would restart its own nuclear research activities if the U.S. could not install the Western-oriented civilian nuclear light water reactor project in the DPRK, the core of the historic October 21, 1994 Agreed Framework.

"Our competent organ says that the DPRK should no longer lend an ear to the empty promise of the U.S. side, but open and readjust the frozen nuclear facilities and do everything our own way," said a DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman on May 8.

Although similar actions were taken against the U.S. gun-boat diplomacy in the past, the remarks by the Foreign Ministry spokesman was a stronger warning to Washington. It called on the Americans to fulfill the Agreed Framework, saying, "There is a limit to our patience concerning this matter." (See on page 8)

"All facts show that the DPRK has gone farther in implementing the agreement whereas the U.S. side is not sincerely fulfilling its obligations," he stressed.

The latest remarks by the Foreign Ministry highlighted some of the important factors that the Clinton Administration should know in dealing with the DPRK.

First, north Korea's Juche-style courtesy and obligation counted significantly in the decision of General Secretary Kim Jong Il to stop north Korea's own nuclear program, which could have been an unlimited alternative energy resource for recovering the country's economy.

In the Agreed Framework, the U.S. promised to construct two nuclear light-water reactors with a total generating capacity of approximately 2,000 MW(e) by 2003. In exchange, Pyongyang agreed to stop all its domestic nuclear activities. In a personal letter to General Secretary Kim Jong Il, President Clinton also pledged that he would use "full power" to fulfill the commitment.

In north Korean values, if one makes a promise to do best for them, it's a moral obligation to keep their own commitment to show their responsibility.

Thus, immediately after the Agreed Framework was signed, the DPRK government allowed international nuclear watch-dog inspectors to make unrestricted access to north Korean nuclear facilities and sealed cans in which the spent fuel rods were stored.

"No sooner had the agreement been adopted than we promptly froze self-reliant nuclear power facilities, comprehensively lifted the sanctions on the United States and smoothly promoted safe storage of spent-fuel rods. Thus, we have sincerely fulfilled our obligations under the agreement," the spokesman said.

U.S. State Department spokesman James Foley endorsed the DPRK fulfillment of the Agreed Framework, saying, "We are until now, satisfied that the DPRK has indeed met its obligations to the present."

Despite lack of diplomatic relations and the continuing technical state of war, Pyongyang also gave the Americans in 1997 unprecedented access to north Korean military documents for archival reviews of the U.S. Korean War dead, for the first time since the end of the war.

From Oct. 25 to Nov. 4 1997, Pyongyang allowed the first U.S. official team of experts to visit flood-stricken areas on a food needs assessment mission. The findings led the U.S. government to confirm the need for continued assistance, referring to the WFP estimate of the north Korean food shortage.

This is the north Korean code of conduct as it promised in the agreement.

Kim Yong Hun, Asia section director of a U.S. Congress-affiliated think tank, said in an interview with Korea Report, Japanese-language monthly magazine in Tokyo, "North Korean people regard principle as very important and are very polite and morally obliged. They never return a rice bowl empty when someone pledge to help them. It's very important (to deal with north Korea)."

This is why Pyongyang has come to the conclusion that it didn't feel obliged to the U.S. government in implementing the agreement as the U.S. has not taken any practical steps since the conclusion of the Agreed Framework.

Second, contrary to Pyongyang's fulfillment of the Agreed Framework, the Americans have not kept their commitment in the Agreed Framework to reduce barriers to trade and invest including a possible lifting of the nearly half-century-old economic embargo on north Korea; open liaison offices in each other's capital and realize eventual political and economic normalization between the two countries.

Washington still imposes strict regulations and economic sanctions on the DPRK, which is the main obstacle responsible for delaying the LWR project more than one year.

"The U.S. side has not taken practical steps to ease the sanctions against the DPRK as it promised in the agreement. It is trying to use them as a means for gaining concession from the DPRK and, at the same time, is persistently pursuing a hostile policy toward the DPRK with intensified military threat," the spokesman said.

Last February, an American engineering company withdraw its application to Congress to export nuclear program-related items to north Korea due to the U.S. government regulation.

To be more blunt, the Clinton Administration has no plan to revise its sanction regulation against the DPRK and to support the LWR project.

"On the light water reactor construction, we have no plans ourselves to participate in funding, in conformity with the previous agreement," State Department spokesman James Foley said on May 8.

The American economic sanctions have denied the north Koreans access to high technology, Western funding, and Western markets while the U.S.-forced defense buildup has produced the American-desired effect of bleeding the north Korean economy.

The third consideration is the problem of American promise to deliver heavy fuel oil to the DPRK.

As a substitution for energy loss, Pyongyang received 150,000 tons of heavy-fuel oil for heating and electricity production by October 1995 and would receive 500,000 tons annually thereafter until the start of full-power operation of the first LWR.

However, the spokesman said, "The U.S. side has not set forth the timetable for heavy oil supply this year and is not supplying heavy oil to the DPRK in time."

To make matter worse, according to Mr. Kim Yong Hun who traveled north Korea last December, heavy-fuel oil provided by the U.S. was found to be at low quality.

Mr. Kim said that heavy-fuel oil has been provided not directly from the U.S. but from other countries including south Korea and the Arab region. Chemical components in such low-quality oil are substandard. They have caused accidents in power plants and stopped up pipes of power plants, he added.

"The situation keeps the DPRK from promoting spent-fuel rods storage any longer till the U.S. side has taken relevant measures."

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