Charles Kartman, Special Envoy for the Korean Peace Process and U.S.Representative to KEDO, U.S. Department of State, United STate Policy Toward North Korea," Testimony Before the House International Relations Committee, Washington, DC, September 24, 1998


"United States Policy Toward North Korea"

Thank you for inviting me to be with you today.  I would like to
extend a special thanks to Chairman Gilman, with whom I have
enjoyed a close and valuable dialogue on the issues I plan to
address today.

As you know, this Administration, working closely with our allies
in the region -- the Republic of Korea and Japan -- along with
Congress, over the past five years has hammered out a policy that
seeks to address the perplexing and difficult problems we face
with North Korea, including holding North Korean nuclear
activities in check and curtailing its destabilizing missile
program.

We all recognize that North Korea remains a potential threat to
peace and stability in northeast Asia.  Its proliferation
activities contribute to instability in other areas as well,
particularly South Asia and the Persian Gulf.  Our policy toward
North Korea, with the Agreed Framework as its centerpiece,
recognizes that the principal problems of the Korean Peninsula
must be solved by North and South Korea, that it is in our
interest to support them, and that we can also engage the
D.P.R.K. through dialogue on issues of key concern.  This is a
policy that is not based on trust or confidence in the North
Korean regime.  On the contrary, it reflects a sober judgment of
how best to contain the threat of North Korea's nuclear program
and other destabilizing activities such as missile development.
Although it is a difficult task, we are convinced that we can
achieve our objectives best by carefully engaging the North
Korean regime, not by isolating it.  This is a view that is also
shared by our allies in the region, including the Republic of
Korea.

Through engagement, in 1994 we concluded with the D.P.R.K. the
Agreed Framework to deal with the D.P.R.K.'s nuclear program.
The Agreed Framework also provides a means to engage North Korea
on other key concerns such as terrorism, MIA remains, and missile
activities.  In late 1997, we formally began the Four Party Peace
Talks, a process designed to bring North Korea to the table to
discuss concrete tension reduction steps and to replace the 1953
Armistice with a genuine peace treaty.  At this moment, however,
results are mixed.

We have briefed concerned members and staff about North Korea's
suspect underground construction, its August 31 launch of a new,
longer-range missile, Pyongyang's implementation of the Agreed
Framework, and the results of our recent talks with the North
Koreans.  Congress is aware of the dilemmas that confront us,
both with regard to relations with the D.P.R.K. and with regard
to funding KEDO:  How do we change North Korean behavior without
seeming to "reward" them for their transgressions?  I would like
briefly to review our approach.

Working to resolve the nuclear problem with North Korea has never
been easy.  After difficult negotiations, the U.S. and North
Korea agreed in 1994 that, in exchange for the verified shutdown
and eventual dismantlement of North Korea's graphite-moderated
reactors and related reprocessing facilities, North Korea would
be provided with two proliferation-resistant, light-water
reactors.  We also agreed to provide North Korea heavy fuel oil
until completion of the first of the two LWRs. Although we had
sought to interest the North Koreans in conventional power plants
as a substitute for their graphite-moderated reactors, they
insisted on nuclear reactors.

When this Administration first approached Congress for HFO
funding, our expectation was that 30 million dollars per year
would be enough, and that the international community would make
up any difference between that amount and the total HFO cost.  We
are disappointed that, despite our best efforts, and generous
support particularly from the EU and Australia, we have not been
able to persuade enough others to make substantial contributions.
Money is now dangerously short, and we must find a way for KEDO
to deliver on our Agreed Framework commitments.  Otherwise --
putting aside technical legal arguments -- the United States and
our allies would lose irretrievably our best means of ending,
however slowly and painfully, North Korea's program to develop
and proliferate weapons of mass destruction.  We would provide
Pyongyang with a clear pretext for reneging on its Agreed
Framework commitments, and the resulting collapse of the Agreed
Framework would move us back to the crisis days of 1993-94 -- or
worse.

Despite our continued frustration and alarm over North Korean
actions -- which have varied in our view from aggressive and
provocative to puzzling and inconsistent -- we and our allies
will always be dealing with the North from a position of
political, economic and military superiority.  As such, we remain
convinced that firm and steadfast use of KEDO and the other
channels it has opened to us is the best way to obtain the
results we seek with respect to North Korea both in the short and
long term.

While we are hopeful that the resumption of dialogues with North
Korea on missiles, terrorism, the Four Party talks, and the
suspect underground construction will each result in concrete
results, we firmly believe that the Agreed Framework must
continue to be the centerpiece of U.S. policy toward the D.P.R.K.
for some time to come.  Though not perfect, the Agreed Framework
is still the only viable alternative we have that has a chance to
keep North Korea's nuclear activities in check and keep the North
engaged on other matters.

Without the Agreed Framework, North Korea would already have
produced a sizable amount of weapons-grade plutonium.  We have
prevented that for close to four years, and we are committed to
ensuring that this remains the case for the future.  This is
without doubt in the interest of the U.S. and our friends and
allies in and beyond the region.

We are clearly better off with the North Korean nuclear
facilities at Yongbyon shut down.  To cite specifics:  those
nuclear facilities are under IAEA monitoring; Pyongyong has
agreed as a result of this past round of negotiations to can its
remaining spent fuel, and there is a team on its way there now
for that purpose; and the D.P.R.K. is not reprocessing nuclear
fuel.  In other words, a dangerous program at Yongbyon is frozen
and under monitoring.  We have made it crystal clear to the North
Koreans that we expect them to continue to live up to these
obligations under the Agreed Framework.  In New York, I also made
it clear to them that our suspicions about their underground
construction must be resolved and that access will be essential
to doing so.

Mr. Chairman, what we also seek in our present dealings with the
D.P.R.K. is to avoid a return to the circumstances of 1993-94,
when tensions between North Korea, its neighbors, the United
States and the international community were dangerously high.  To
return to that state now would be particularly debilitating as
Asia seeks to recover from its financial crisis.  We will
continue to look for ways to reduce tensions on the Korean
Peninsula, but we will also continue to be firm and deliberate
with the North.  Together the Administration and the Congress can
go a long way toward eliminating North Korea's ability to
threaten its neighbors and to export that threat to other parts
of the world.

There is no question that much depends on North Korean intentions
and behavior.  I have no illusions about dealing with the North
Koreans.  The outcome of any negotiations with such a regime,
whether demonstrably meager or potentially positive, must be
viewed with skepticism until implementation is confirmed.
Progress can be achieved only a step at a time.

As you know, Mr. Chairman, on a parallel but separate track, the
U.S. Government has responded generously in pledging food
assistance to meet an acute humanitarian need in North Korea.  On
September 21, the U.S. Government committed to provide an
additional 300,000 metric tons of surplus U.S. wheat in response
to the World Food Program's current appeal for North Korea.  Our
policy has been, and continues to be, not to link this assistance
to our broader political concerns.  By all accounts, our
assistance has had a significant positive effect on the health
and nutrition of those vulnerable groups it targets, especially
North Korean children.  I have stressed to the D.P.R.K. that
adequate monitoring is a requirement for additional food
assistance.  While the current monitoring arrangement is far from
ideal, we are confident that our assistance has reached those for
whom it was intended and that there have been no significant
diversions.  The monitoring arrangements have been improving, and
we will continue to press for greater access.

With your support and that of your colleagues, we can make a
difference on the Korean Peninsula and can do our part to limit
North Korea's destabilizing behavior.  We must do so with
toughness and integrity -- and with a clear vision of the
consequences of failure.  We must keep North Korea in the Agreed
Framework.  To do that, we must honor our own commitments
undertaken in the Agreed Framework, and specifically provide
heavy fuel oil to the D.P.R.K. through KEDO as promised.  The
Congress and the Administration must, despite the frustrations we
have encountered, do that together.


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