Current Issues Brief no. 18 2002-03
North Korea Nuclear Crisis-Issues and Implications
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Group
18 March 2003
List of Maps
Map 1: Democratic People's Republic of
Map 2: Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Map 3: Democratic People's Republic of Korea
The Korean Peninsula
The Current Nuclear Crisis
North Korea Today
History of North Korean Nuclear
'Threat, Coercion and Concession'
Factors Affecting the Resolution of the Current
Reconciliation Between North and South
US North Korea Policy
Bush Administration Response to Current
The 'Iraq Effect'
Sanctions, Engagement or 'Carrots and
A Larger Role for China?
The AustraliaDPRK Relationship
Economic Relations with Northeast
Australia's Role in the Resolution of the
Appendix 1: Nuclear Crises Compared
Map 1: Democratic
People's Republic of Korea
For higher resolution map click here: JPEG 417KB
Source: United Nations Cartographic Section
Map 2: Democratic
People's Republic of Korea Nuclear Facilities
Image courtesy of Center for Non-proliferation Studies, Monterey
Institute of International Studies.
Map 3: Democratic People's
Republic of Korea Missile Capabilities
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)
remains isolated, economically near collapse and facing yet another
potentially devastating humanitarian crisis. Its decision to
withdraw from the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and to
restart its graphite moderated reactor have sparked international
concern over nuclear proliferation and regional concern about an
The crisis is based on the potential of the DPRK
to develop nuclear weapons within a short time frame after
recommencement of the program. These concerns are heightened by the
DPRK ballistic missile program and the potential proliferation of
both nuclear and ballistic missile knowledge and components. In
addition, the historically opaque nature of the DPRK regime is
likely to exacerbate the challenge of finding a rapid resolution to
The resolution of the current nuclear crisis is
affected by factors which distinguish it from previous crises on
the Korean peninsula. Reconciliation between North and South Korea,
wider US foreign policy interests and growing anti-Americanism in
South Korea have made it difficult for the presentation of a united
front between South Korea and the US. Further, the attention of the
US and the international community is focused on the disarming of
Iraq, diverting resources from the resolution of the nuclear crisis
on the Korean peninsula.
Scenarios for the resolution of the crisis lie
in two diametrically opposed categories of sanctions and
engagement. However, the US has had limited success in the
application of either approach in dealing with the DPRK.
Alternative options include a greater role for China, given it has
vital strategic interests at stake, or the use of multilateral
negotiations, perhaps including Australia, to resolve the crisis.
Both options have been rejected by the DPRK, which seeks a
bilateral resolution of the crisis with the US.
The implications for Australia of the crisis
include potential adverse economic effects as a result of
increasing instability in the Northeast Asian region. Any
escalation of the crisis, or the outbreak of conflict, would
compound these effects. Australia suffered more than 1500
casualties in the defence of South Korea during the Korean War
(195053) and was a signatory to the Joint Policy Declaration
Concerning the Korean Armistice signed in Washington on 27 July
1953. An Australian contribution to any conflict on the Korean
peninsula would be expected given its historical and continuing
interest in the security of South Korea as well as its alliance
with the United States.
On 16 October 2002 the United States disclosed
publicly that a delegation had received confirmation from North
Korean officials that the DPRK was in possession of a covert
nuclear weapons program using highly enriched uranium. In November,
after consultations with regional allies, the United States
recommended suspension of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development
Organization (KEDO) shipment of heavy fuel oil to North Korea,
citing the DPRK admission as a violation of the 1994 Agreed
In response to the suspension of heavy fuel oil
supplies, in December 2002 the North Korean regime expelled
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, disabled
monitoring equipment and reopened the Yongbyon nuclear reactor
complex. This, and the statement by Pyongyang of its withdrawal
from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) on 10 January 2003,
has sparked international concern of nuclear arms proliferation and
regional concerns of an imminent crisis.
On 14 January a five member delegation of senior
Australian diplomats, led by Department of Foreign Affairs and
Trade (DFAT) North East Asia head Murray McLean, arrived in the
North Korean capital, Pyongyang. The delegation presented a letter
from the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, to his North Korean
counterpart Paek Nam-Sun. The delegation undertook four days of
discussions, expressing Australia's interest in stability on the
Korean peninsula and strong condemnation of North Korea's decision
to withdraw from the NPT.
On February 26 the DPRK restarted the 5 MW
research reactor within the Yongbyon complex. The spent fuel rods
of the 5 MW reactor could yield enough plutonium for the production
of five to six nuclear weapons within a sixmonth period. The
restarting of the 5 MW reactor brings the crisis a step closer to
what US officials have described as the 'red line that should not
be crossed'the reactivation of the Yongbyon nuclear fuel
reprocessing plant which would allow for the production of nuclear
weapons grade material within a 23 month period.
It is with this background that this paper
traces the current North Korean nuclear crisis and the factors
affecting its resolution. The paper presents alternative scenarios
for the resolution of the current crisis and the implications for
Australia. The paper is confined to the current North Korean
nuclear crisis and does not consider the longterm resolution of the
security situation in North East Asia.
At the closing stages of the Second World War
the Soviet Union and the US agreed that their respective forces
would occupy the Korean peninsula divided by the 38th parallel just
north of the capital, Seoul. With the rapid emergence of the Cold
War, discussions aimed at unifying the peninsula under a single
government failed. A pro-Soviet regime, the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea (DPRK) was installed in the North under
Kim Il-Sung, an anti-Japanese resistance fighter who had fled
to Soviet territory during the Japanese occupation. In the South, a
pro-American regime, the Republic of Korea (ROK), was established,
led by an American exile, Syngman Rhee.
The Korean War (195053), a particularly vicious,
fratricidal war resulted in the permanent division of the peninsula
along the DeMilitarised Zone (DMZ). Failure to successfully
negotiate a peace settlement has resulted in the two states
remaining to this day in a de jure state of war, and in a de facto
state of war readiness.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)
emerged rapidly from the devastation of the Korean War (19501953).
The DPRK installed a centralised economic system allowing for rapid
industrialisation and economic growth. Focus was on heavy industry
with a lower priority given to light industry and agriculture. In
response to increasingly limited assistance from its allies, the
Soviet Bloc and China, the DPRK initiated a development strategy
based on the concept of Juche, or self reliance.
Juche entered all walks of life, most
notably the military and the economy. Military expenditure in the
1960s rose from 6 per cent of GDP to approximately 30 per cent.
Eventually stabilising at this level in the 1970s, it effectively
neglected other sectors of the economy, creating the basis for
future economic failures.
From the 1970s North Korea began to retreat
deeper into isolation. USChina detente and USSoviet detente led to
greater international acceptance of a divided Korean peninsula,
leaving only the DPRK to pursue its aim of unification by military
means. The failure to repay international debt due to poor economic
planning isolated the DPRK from investment and trade. The DPRK was
further isolated by its continuing erratic militancy, losing the
brief support it gained from the non-aligned movement. In 1983 the
death of seventeen ministers and officials in a failed
assassination attempt by DPRK agents of South Korean president Chun
Doo-Hwan in Burma confirmed the international community's
perception of North Korea as a 'pariah state'.
By the 1990s a plethora of academic literature
on the future collapse of North Korea emerged. With the destitute
state of the economy, its failing political institutions and an
increasing inability to feed its population, the end of the regime
seemed not only probable, but imminent. The collapse of the Soviet
Union and the subsequent collapse of its autocratic satellites cast
a long shadow over the future of the DPRK.
Despite expectations to the contrary, the DPRK
has continued to survive. Attempts to emerge from isolation and
achieve economic reform have been overshadowed by international
concern over its ballistic missile and nuclear development
programs. Today the DPRK remains isolated, economically near
collapse and facing an emerging and potentially more disastrous
Relations between the DPRK and the Republic of
Korea (ROK) have until recently been marked by hostility and
mistrust with both nations refusing to recognise the legitimacy of
the other. The DPRK reaction to its declining economic situation,
compared to the increasingly successful South Korean economy, has
included overt attempts to destabilise, threaten and marginalise
the ROK. The economic disparity between the two nations stood in
stark contrast to the ideological heritage of the DPRK which
emphasised the eventual victory of the North.
In light of the recent nuclear crisis, current
relations between the two states have been tense, but relatively
cordial given the circumstances. The two states have continued
economic exchanges and inter-Korean meetings which began after the
June 2000 Leader's Summit. The newly installed ROK president, Roh
Moo-Hyun has stated his intention to continue engagement with the
The current nuclear crisis centres upon the
potential development of nuclear weapons by the DPRK. The program
poses a direct threat to the region through the DPRK ballistic
missile program; the potential proliferation of knowledge and
components also poses a threat to the international community.
According to US intelligence estimates, the DPRK
already has one or two nuclear devices. In August 2001, a statement
by Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, in Moscow gave a larger
estimate, stating 'North Korea possessed enough plutonium to
produce two to three, maybe even four to five nuclear
warheads'.(2) With the reprocessing of fuel rods at the
Yongbyon facility the DPRK will have the ability to produce weapons
grade plutonium within four months and the ability to produce four
to six atomic bombs in a further one or two months.
The DPRK ballistic missile development program
includes the Nodong and Taepo Dong series of
missiles. The Nodong series has a range estimated at up to
1500 kms,(3) covering South Korea and limited areas of
central Japan. By 2003 the DPRK will have deployed approximately
100 Nodong series missiles. In 1998, the DPRK tested a
three stage Taepo Dong 1 over the Sea of Japan (East Sea).
The Taepo Dong series has a confirmed range covering all
of South Korea and Japan. US intelligence estimates state a range
of up to 5600 kms could be achieved without further testing, giving
it the ability to reach Hawaii, Alaska and consequently northern
Australia. US intelligence estimates further state that a
hypothetical extension of the Taepo Dong series program
could achieve a range capable of reaching the continental US, and
consequently the entirety of Australia.(4)
These concerns are further heightened by the
potential proliferation of both nuclear and ballistic missile
components. The severe economic crisis faced by the DPRK has
created a greater potential for the regime to seek hard currency
through the sale of nuclear and ballistic missile technology and
components. The fear of proliferation is enhanced by the global war
on terrorism and the threat presented by terrorist group
acquisition of DPRK knowledge and/or components.
The current North Korean nuclear crisis cannot
be fully understood without reference to both the historical
nuclear ambitions of North Korea and its current economic plight.
These two factors fused together offer an explanation of the
current crisis based firmly on the desire of the North Korean
regime to ensure its survival.
Immediate regime survival depends upon the
ability of the regime to defend itself. As part of its
revolutionary ideological heritage, North Korea perceives its
security to be threatened. It perceives itself as confronted by the
increasing superiority of the US military as evidenced by the Gulf
War and the Afghanistan conflict and by the future overwhelming
superiority of US Forces emboldened by a successful Iraq conflict
and rapidly building advanced National Missile Defence (NMD)
technology. In addition, the DPRK doubtlessly appreciates that with
its weakened economy its ability to continue the high levels of
military expenditure is decreasing daily. The DPRK perceives the
nuclear deterrent as essential to its defence.
Immediate regime survival also depends upon the
ability of the regime to maintain a functioning
economy.(5) Current reports indicate that the economy is
facing a severe threat of further breakdown. The state's continuing
failure to provide the basics of existence has caused an increase
in the black market economy, the spread of foreign, particularly US
currency, and a surge in refugee flows across the Chinese border.
There are widespread electricity shortages and inadequate
infrastructure undermining modernisation attempts. Most alarmingly,
according to the United Nations World Food Program, the DPRK will
face another severe humanitarian crisis,(6) with famine
conditions expected in 2003.
Estimates on the ability of the regime to
survive vary considerably due to the lack of available data. It
must be noted that the DPRK has managed to survive with a moribund
economy and widespread famine since the early 1990s. It has shown
an ability to 'muddle through', surviving on a combination of aid,
foreign financed reform projects and financial concessions extorted
from the international community for the maintenance of stability.
As the Korea expert Adrian Buzo notes, North Korea is a 'regime in
decline and decay, although with an almost infinite capacity to
continue this trend'.(7)
North Korea showed an early interest in the
potential of nuclear power. It has been noted by Korea expert Dr
Stephen Linton that Japan's capitulation, as the result of the
atomic bomb, had a profound effect on the young anti-Japanese
guerilla fighter and future founder of the DPRK, Kim Il-Sung. His
personal interest in nuclear power remained embedded in its ability
to immediately overcome a powerful foe.(8)
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
notes two distinct phases in the development of the DPRK's nuclear
programan assisted phase and an indigenous development stage. The
first stage commenced with an agreement between the Soviet Union
and the DPRK for cooperation in nuclear research in 1956. During
the 1950s scientists were trained in nuclear physics in both the
Soviet Union and China, as well as at the newly established nuclear
physics departments of both Kim Il-Sung National University and Kim
Ch'aek Industrial College. During the 1960s North Korea
consolidated its entry into the nuclear age with the construction
of a research reactor at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Complex.
This was followed by the delivery of two research reactors by the
The second phase started with the construction
of an experimental 5 MW natural uranium reactor at the Yongbyon
complex in January 1986. In this period an ore processing plant and
a fuel rod fabrication plant were built. The construction of two
larger gas-graphite reactors also began in the same year and in
1987 this was followed by the construction of a Radiochemical
Laboratory, with a sizeable reprocessing capacity.(9)
According to reports by defectors, the 1970s to 1980s was a period
of rapid expansion of the DPRK nuclear program.(10) Work
commenced on uranium extraction, underground facilities, nuclear
fuel enrichment technology, nuclear device and delivery system
From the early stages of its nuclear program the
DPRK has been reluctant to commit to IAEA standards and
regulations. Initially, IAEA compliance was encouraged by the
Soviet Union.(11) As further evidence has emerged on the
DPRK nuclear program, pressure has been increasingly applied by the
international community. It was not until 1974 that the DPRK
officially joined the IAEA, and 1977 when the first agreement on
the limited monitoring of its nuclear reactors was signed. The DPRK
signed a 'Type 66' Safeguards Agreement under which the IAEA
undertook inspections of declared facilities in 1988 and 1989. In
1985 the DPRK signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Seven years later, in 1992, the DPRK submitted its initial report
to the IAEA under the Safeguards Agreement. Inconsistencies were
immediately apparent. The IAEA findings suggested the existence of
undeclared plutonium in the DPRK. A request for further information
and IAEA access to two sites related to the storage of nuclear
waste was denied.(12) This led directly to the 1994
The 1994 nuclear crisis consisted of a steady
escalation of events marked by the DPRK decision to withdraw from
the NPT, the widening of non-compliant activities, and the
withdrawal from the IAEA. Parallel to these events was the
increasingly bellicose tone of DPRK statements most notably the 19
March statement by North Korean delegate, Park Yong Soo, to turn
Seoul into a 'sea of fire', and the statement by North Korea
(reiterated again in 2003) that any imposition of further trade
sanctions through the UN Security Council would be regarded as an
act of war. At this stage the US made preparations for a
pre-emptive strike on DPRK nuclear facilities.
With military preparations on the peninsula at a
state of unprecedented high alert and negotiations in tatters, the
crisis was defused abruptly by the June 1994 summit meeting between
former US President Jimmy Carter and North Korean leader Kim
Il-Sung. At the summit meeting an agreement was reached that
provided for the temporary freezing of the DPRK nuclear program
while negotiations towards a final solution took place in Geneva.
On 21 October 1994 the Agreed Framework was signed providing a
basis for the long term resolution of the nuclear issue on the
Under the Agreed Framework the DPRK was to stop
and eventually dismantle its nuclear weapons related programs. It
was also to account for and resolve past discrepancies in its
safeguards program. These actions would be reciprocated by the
provision of alternative fuel sourcesinitially heavy fuel oil for
electricity production and later by the construction of two
proliferation resistant light water reactors (LWR). Each step in
the elimination of the DPRK nuclear weapons program was to be
matched by both a verification process and a corresponding
The Agreed Framework was a limited and
ultimately questionable success. It achieved the freezing of the
DPRK graphite moderated reactor program and an immediate end to
DPRK brinkmanship. However even this limited success has since come
into question with the current nuclear crisis.
The strongest criticism of the Agreed Framework
focused on both the cost and the precedent set by using incentives
to encourage good behaviour. From the beginning of negotiations,
opponents considered the use of incentives in negotiating with
North Korea as equivalent to blackmail which set an unwelcome
precedent for other problematic states such as Libya and Iran.
However a much stronger criticism has emerged
since the revelation of the current nuclear crisis. The Agreed
Framework did not achieve the ultimate objective of an 'end' to
DPRK ability to produce nuclear weapons but rather a 'freeze', thus
postponing rather than resolving the crisis. Critics have gone
further to accuse the Agreed Framework of providing both economic
benefits to the DPRK and time for the advancement of a covert
nuclear weapons program.(13)
With the current nuclear crisis the Agreed
Framework has met an ignoble end. Both the United States and the
DPRK have accused the other of violating the agreement.
The DPRK accuses the US of non-compliance with
the Agreed Framework by delays in the provision of alternative
energy (heavy fuel oil). The DPRK believes this has exacerbated
tension already caused by the US refusal to normalise relations
between the two states until compliance is proven. The DPRK also
accuses the US of continuing its policy to isolate the DPRK through
inclusion on the 'terrorist states' list and repeated accusations
labelling the DPRK a 'rogue state'. The DPRK believes this has
negatively affected its chances at socioeconomic reform due to its
inability to access international development aid from
organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) because of its inclusion on the US Terrorism
An internal US review concluded in June 2001
that improved implementation of the Agreed Framework should be
sought.(15) After July 2001 the Bush administration
warned that it would suspend the construction of the LWRs unless
the DPRK fully complied with IAEA obligations. Violation of the
framework became clear with the October statement by the US that
the DPRK had admitted to special envoy Assistant Secretary Kelly of
a program to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. In consultation
with Japan, South Korea and the KEDO board, the US decided to
suspend heavy oil shipments to the DPRK as of December. This
decision effectively ended the Agreed Framework.
Food security has always been a challenge to
North Korea. Cultivable land covers only approximately 20 per cent
of total land mass. The agricultural sector faces notoriously
difficult seasonal variations exacerbated by a misdirected
agricultural policy which has further increased vulnerability to
floods, landslides and drought. Floods in 1995 and 1996, followed
by drought in 1997 and 2001, devastated the agricultural sector
already weakened by declining inputs of pesticides, fertiliser and
machinery. The national agricultural base declined dramatically as
a result of these natural disasters with annual production of rice
and maize falling from 8 million metric tons in the 1980s to 2.9
million metric tons in 2000.(16) Widespread malnutrition
and famine had already devastated the country in 1994, resulting in
an appeal to the United Nations World Food Program (UNWFP) in 1995.
A 1998 nutrition survey conducted by the UNWFP found 16 per cent of
children acutely malnourished and 62 per cent chronically
malnourished.(17) Estimates of deaths from famine
related illness range from 900 000 to more than 3.5 million.
The UNWFP estimates that 2003 will be another
particularly difficult year for North Korea with the nation once
again facing a high risk of severe famine. Despite an increase in
agricultural production in 2002, the North will face a grain
shortfall of over one million tons. International donor fatigue
coupled with emerging crises in other parts of the world have
decreased pledges of food aid to the increasingly vulnerable North.
The DPRK continues to maintain an inefficient 'socialist'
agricultural system further contributing to donor fatigue. High
level representation of the threat by UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan and World Bank President, James Wolfensohn, have as yet
failed to increase donor pledges. A UN Special Envoy dispatched to
North Korea by the Secretary General, Maurice Strong, stated to the
international press on 14 January that failure to increase
international aid will result in a significant crisis in March or
North Korea has made awkward and sporadic
attempts to modernise its ailing economy. The most significant
reforms to date have included the establishment of economic zones,
an increased interest in intra-Korean trade and a marginal market
In November 2002 the presidium of the Supreme
People's Assembly (SPA) passed laws formally establishing the Mt
Geumgang tourist special economic zone (SEZ) and the Kaesong
industrial SEZ. These SEZs add to the original Rajin-Sonbong
region, established in 1992. The Mt Geumgang SEZ has been
operating, albeit unsuccessfully, for the previous four years. The
zone is dominated by the Mt Geumgang resort, operated by South
Korean chaebol (conglomerate) Hyundai. Kaesong, also
originally planned by the Hyundai group is located just north of
the De-Militarised Zone (DMZ) which divides North and South Korea.
The Kaesong SEZ sought to capitalise on wage and rent cost
differentials between the two Koreas, particularly targeting South
Korean high tech industry. This plan has largely failed due to the
existence of cheaper and inherently less risky alternative SEZs in
both China and Vietnam.
A Special Administrative Region (SAR) was
declared in September for the Chinese border region of Sinuiju.
This SAR aimed to be the most radical experiment, going beyond the
limits of the Chinese SARs it was modelled on. Sovereignty was to
be handed over to a special administrator, a Chinese entrepreneur
holding Dutch citizenship, Yang Bin. However the suspected failure
of the North Korean government to fully inform China of its plans
led to the arrest of Yang Bin on tax evasion charges and the
suspension of further SAR regulatory changes.(18)
The DPRK also made sporadic attempts to
experiment with greater market influence. In 2002, local markets
began to flourish despite attempts to impose stricter
controls.(19) The partial abandonment of the state
distribution system and failed price controls resulted in increased
inflation and wider interpretation of new economic regulations, in
turn leading to a greater reliance on private businesses and
DPRK foreign trade remains minimal with exports
totalling US$826 million and imports totalling US$1 847
million. The vast majority of trade is conducted with China with a
significant amount of this estimated to be de facto
Intra-Korean trade increased substantially in
2002 to US$600 million, an increase of more than 50 per cent on the
previous year. The majority of DPRK imports are in the form of aid,
including food and farm produce, woven products, steel, machinery
and textiles. A maritime accord signed in December allowing for
cabotage on seven designated inter-Korean routes will further
improve prospects for inter-Korean trade.
Despite the attempts at modernisation the DPRK
economy remains extremely fragile. Economic reform has been slow,
haphazard and difficult. The strongest challenge facing the economy
remains the dichotomy that exists between reform and regime
control. Economic reform challenges the legitimacy and rule of the
DPRK elite. Reform increases the economic independence of citizens
and challenges the ideological basis of juche. More significantly,
economic reform also brings into question the past achievements of
Kim Il-Sung and the legitimacy of the current great leader Kim
Threat, coercion and concession became the
trademark of DPRK diplomacy in the post Cold War period as its
strategic aims appear to have shifted from reunification of the
peninsula to regime survival.
Prior to the collapse of the communist bloc in
1989, the DPRK campaign against South Korea included terrorist
attacks such as the bombing of Gimpo International Airport (1986),
the bombing of Korean Air Flight 858 (1987), and assassination
attempts on the South Korean President (1970, 1974, 1981, 1983).
Other measures included violations of the armistice agreement
including construction of infiltration tunnels, submarine
infiltration of armed guerillas and maritime border
With the end of the Cold War, DPRK regime
survival methods included the use of provocative measures such as
naval incursions to attain concessions in negotiations. With
greater frequency these negotiations have been aimed at securing
financial and material benefits, such as during the 1994 nuclear
crisis, in which the DPRK attained significant financial
concessions in exchange for agreement to suspend and eventually
dismantle its nuclear program. Nuclear development and the
ballistic missile program have since become the two pillars
characterising DPRK threat, coercion and concession diplomacy.
In the 1990s DPRK nuclear and ballistic missile
development became international issues triggering DPRK direct
negotiations with the US and securing financial concessions in
return for a 'suspension' of activities. The similarity of the
current crisis to the previous nuclear and ballistic missile
development crises are striking. The current crisis reflects the
previous crises in the insistence on one-to-one negotiations with
the US, a manufactured deadline (the reprocessing of fuel rods) to
increase negotiating power, and escalation accompanied by
hyperbolic threat to increase allied (South Korean and Japanese)
pressure on US negotiators.
There are four related factors that distinguish
the current nuclear crisis from its historical counterparts.
Firstly, South Korea's commitment to reconciliation with the North
has exposed differences of opinion between US and South Korean
policy on relations with North Korea. This has also been reflected
in the reaction to the current crisis. Secondly, the rise in
anti-Americanism currently prevalent in South Korea relating to
other matters (including the revision of the Status of Forces
Agreement for the stationing of US Forces in South Korea) has
further exacerbated tension between Seoul and Washington. Thirdly,
United States wider foreign policy and the Bush administration
Korea policy have severely limited the options available to
negotiators seeking resolution of the crisis. Finally, America's
preoccupation with the situation in Iraq has reduced options and
resources available to deal with North Korea. These factors have
increased the difficulty of finding an immediate acceptable
resolution to the crisis.
The June 2000 Leader's Summit marked the
culmination of President Kim Dae Jung's 'Sunshine Policy' of
engagement with North Korea. The meeting was greeted with elation
in South Korea, allowing for the first time the realisation that
peaceful unification may be possible. This was followed by
subsequent events such as the joint march around the stadium under
the 'unification flag' by athletes at the opening ceremony of the
Sydney 2000 Olympics to a standing ovation and the increased
working contacts on issues such as displaced families reunions,
trade and investment.
A revolution in thinking occurred in the South
with the advent of the 'Sunshine Policy'. Despite the success of
the Leader's Summit, subsequent progress was sporadic. Kim Jong-Il
failed to make a return visit to Seoul, and no progress was made on
military confidence building measures. Recent controversy has also
erupted over accusations that Kim Dae-Jung made illegal financial
payments to the DPRK to arrange the historic Leader's Summit.
These events have precipitated a revolutionary
change of thought in South Korea. The idea that the DPRK is the
enemy has dissipated to be replaced by a feeling of 'friendship'
and even 'brotherhood'. In November 2000, a poll in a leading South
Korean daily newspaper, the Dong A-Ilbo, showed 59 per cent
believed 'the possibility of war had almost disappeared following
the NorthSouth Summit'.(22) The revolution in thinking
also lead to the cancellation of the Defence Ministry's 2002 White
Paper due to an unwillingness to designate North Korea as the
The current increased affinity expressed by
South Koreans for the DPRK is in stark contrast to the situation
that prevailed in the 1994 nuclear crisis. A major stumbling block
to the resolution of the 1994 nuclear crisis was the insistence by
Seoul that the Agreed Framework include provisions referring to
resumption of inter-Korean dialogue. Indeed, during the 1994
nuclear crisis Seoul threatened to push for international economic
sanctions and generally played a harder line than the current Bush
administration. This stands in glaring contrast to the current
With the decreased perception of North Korea as
the enemy, greater differences have become apparent in the South
Korean US relationship. This has been exacerbated since the
inauguration of the Bush presidency and its failure to continue the
policy of engagement started during the Clinton presidency. Under
President Clinton, Secretary of State Madelaine Albright made an
historic visit to Pyongyang on 23 October 2000. The difference
between the two administrations was noted in the South Korean press
in an article aptly subtitled 'the workload has increased'.
Interviews conducted with academics from major universities
concluded 'the emergence of the Bush administration will
considerably influence NorthUS, SouthNorth and SouthUS
The difference of opinion was furthered by the
decision of the Bush administration to initiate the National
Missile Defence (NMD) plan. NMD targeted North Korea specifically
as a 'raison d'etre', frustrating Seoul's attempts to end North
Korea's isolation. Polls revealed a widening gap in the outlook
between the longtime allies. In South Korea 73 per cent of people
polled considered the unification of the two Koreas likely in the
near future, compared to only 28 per cent in the
USA.(25) In February 2002, a poll in the leading South
Korean political journal, Sisa, revealed over 56 per cent
considered their opinion of America had recently changed for the
worse and, more alarmingly, 41 per cent considered China a closer
ally of South Korea than the United States compared to 30 per cent
who considered the United States as the prime
The State of the Union address by George W. Bush
on 29 January 2002 that labelled North Korea with Iraq and Iran as
part of an axis of evil received about as much support in South
Korea as in North Korea. The speech caused vitriolic anti-American
statements in internet chat-rooms, street protests in Seoul and
Pusan and even a scuffle in parliament. South Korean popular
sentiment could be summed up by the statement of parliamentarian
Song Sok-Chan 'Mr Bush is an evil incarnate who wants to make the
division of Korea permanent by branding North Korea part of the
axis of evil'.(27)
The emergence of the American pre-emptive strike
policy has threatened to drive an even wider wedge between
Washington and Seoul. The National Security Strategy 2002,
submitted to the United States Congress in September, stated:
The United States has long maintained the option of pre-emptive
actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security.
The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inactionand the
more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend
Fears that an American 'hardline' approach to
North Korea may eventually transform into pre-emptive action which
would destabilise the region has already caused concern in Asian
Both President Kim Dae-Jung and Japanese Prime
Minister Junichiro Koizumi have felt the need to urge the United
States to open dialogue with North Korea.(30) After the
revelation of North Korea's nuclear program, President Kim again
called on the United States to take a softer stance on North
Korea.(31) The divergent views on North Korea policy
between the United States and South Korea has been intensified by
the fear that the pre-emptive strike policy may extend to North
Korea, particularly in the wake of the nuclear revelation.
Inevitably the South Korean public views recent United States
policy in North Asia from the decision to adopt a National Missile
Defence to 'hardline' approaches with North Korea as divergent from
The Bush administration response to the current
nuclear crisis reflects both its characteristic 'hardline' North
Korea policy, and an attempt to postpone the crisis until after the
disarming of Iraq.
The Bush administration has insisted that the
current situation is not a bilateral issue but rather an
international issue. As such, the issue can only be resolved
through the agreement of the international community. The
administration has been increasing diplomatic efforts to place
pressure on the DPRK through South Korea, Japan, Russia, and
particularly China. The administration has placed a particular
emphasis on the role China can play in the crisis given its
historical and strategic interests on the peninsula.(32)
It has also stated that it will not enter into bilateral
negotiations with the DPRK until existing obligations are met.
Prior to any negotiations taking place
administration officials insist that the DPRK must first come into
full compliance with its past nuclear agreements. The
administration has further stated that any dialogue will not be
aimed at the negotiation of a new agreement, but rather aimed at
assisting the DPRK to comply with its existing obligations to the
international community. The administration has vowed not to be
'blackmailed' by offering inducements to the DPRK to end violations
of existing obligations.(33)
Finally, in an effort to forestall resolution of
the crisis until after the disarming of Iraq, the Bush
administration has reiterated that it does not consider the current
nuclear situation in the DPRK as a 'crisis',(34) but
rather considers it a 'situation'. The administration has
repeatedly stated its intention not to invade the North but to
resolve the 'situation' through diplomatic means. The US has
simultaneously increased pressure on the regime by the movement of
a carrier battle group to the Sea of Japan (East Sea), the movement
of strategic long range bombers to Guam(35) and the
holding of extensive joint US-ROK annual training exercises
scheduled for March 2003.(36)
In a statement to the Press Pool outside the
Treasury Building on 7 February 2003, President Bush reiterated the
administration's position combining both its hardline North Korea
policy and its desire to forestall the crisis, stating:
All options on the table, of course. But as I said many times,
and I still believe thisthis will be solved diplomatically, and we
will continue to work diplomatically.(37)
Anti-Americanism has become a major concern for
Washington since the events of September 11. In August 2002, the US
State Department announced an inquiry 'to explore various
manifestations and roots of anti-Americanism around the world, what
it means for the United States and how the United States may
address it'.(38) Anti-Americanism in South Korea has
been particularly virulent. Its effect on policy options to resolve
the nuclear crisis will be substantial. Daily protests in the lead
up to the December presidential elections outside the American
embassy in Seoul have extended beyond traditional devotees of
student and labour unions to include religious leaders, housewives,
mothers and schoolchildren. Anti-American sentiment became such a
strong factor in the December 2002 presidential elections that even
conservative opponent Lee Hoi-Chang declared his intentions to
revise the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) if elected. It has
been widely suggested that the election victory of Roh Moo-Hyun was
assisted by the strong anti-American sentiment prevalent across
South Korea, especially among younger voters whose support for Roh
The issues most influencing anti-Americanism in
South Korea include the perceived unilateralism of the Bush
administration, the deaths of two schoolgirls in a United States
Forces Korea (USFK) training accident,(39) calls for
revision of the Status of Forces Agreement to allow for the trial
of USFK servicemen in all cases in Korea, and the relocation of the
USFK Yongsan military complex, located in downtown Seoul.
The increased anti-American sentiment has
inevitably affected policy options available to both Seoul and
Washington. Public sentiment is strongly anti-American to the
extent that the fiftyyear old alliance has even been questioned on
both sides of the Pacific. A Korean Research Center poll found that
51 per cent of South Koreans believe the cause of the nuclear
crisis was American hardline policy while only 24.6 per cent blamed
North Korean 'adventurism'. A poll conducted by the Gallup
organisation in conjunction with a leading South Korean daily, the
Chosun-Ilbo, found 54.4 per cent of South Koreans believed that
'other countries' would be the likely target of a North Korean
nuclear program, while only 27.7 per cent believed South Korea
would be the target.(40)
The greatest difference lies in the change of
current South Korean perceptions of the North compared to those
during the 1994 nuclear crisis. A poll conducted by Chosun
IlboGallup showed more than 53 percent of South Koreans surveyed
said they disliked the United States, up from 15 percent in 1994.
Over the same period, the percentage of those who said they liked
the United States fell from nearly 64 percent to 37
This widespread antiAmericanism has led to
elements within the US calling for the abrogation of the USROK
alliance have gaining greater credibility. The influential think
tank, the Cato Institute, a long time critic of the US military
presence in the ROK, reflects the growing sentiment in its
If it were not for the 37 000 US troops stationed in South Korea
and the nearly 50 000 stationed in Japan, the United States
could afford to view the prospect of a nuclear North Korea with
Bush administration officials have reacted to
the growing resentment. The US ambassador to Seoul, Thomas Hubbard,
confirmed the realignment of the USFK's role on the Korean
peninsula. A reduction in ground forces would be replaced by a
stronger air force and naval presence, allowing an easing of
anti-American tension through the reduction of USFK numbers in
The current situation in Iraq affects the
resolution of the Korean nuclear crisis in two distinct ways. The
Iraq crisis serves to draw attention and resources from the
international community effectively decreasing international
pressure on the DPRK. Conversely, the successful resolution of the
Iraqi situation could signal both the effectiveness of a US
hardline approach to non-compliance and the overwhelming
superiority of US led forces.
Iraq has drawn international attention and
resources away from the Korean nuclear crisis. Despite its
potentially graver consequences, the Korean nuclear crisis has
repeatedly been treated as a secondary concern by both the
international media and politicians. As the British prime minister,
Tony Blair, stated in parliament:
After we deal with Iraq we do, yes, through the UN, have to
confront North Korea about its weapons program.(44)
While the statement might serve as a warning to
North Korea of future stronger action, it also signals that dealing
with North Korea will be after Iraq. Also supporting this
is the fact that the Bush administration initially signalled a
possible end to the historic 'two war strategy'. The 'two war'
strategy which enables US capability to successfully carry out two
concurrent major wars in different regions came under question in
the preSeptember 11, postCold War peace.
The desire of the US to deal with the nuclear
crisis after the disarming of Iraq places greater pressure on the
US to acquiesce to DPRK requests for bilateral negotiations to
avoid escalation. Limited conflict on the peninsula during an Iraq
conflict would increase public pressure on a negotiated solution
with North Korea.
Recent press statements however have reiterated
the ability of US forces to engage in two major wars. As stated by
Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld:
I have no reason to believe that North Korea feels emboldened
because of the world's interest in Iraq, if they do, it would be a
mistake. We are perfectly capable of doing that which is
A successful resolution of the Iraq situation
will strengthen calls for a harder line in dealing with the DPRK.
It will encourage the already vocal opposition to dealing with
North Korean 'blackmail'.
A US Senate bipartisan group led by Senators Jon
Kyl (RepArizona), John McCain (RepArizona) and Evan Bayh
(DemIndiana) introduced legislation on 13 January for the formal
end of all US aid to North Korea under the Agreed Framework and the
reimposition of sanctions lifted in 1999. The bill further urges
the imposition of further sanctions to interdict DPRK sales and the
enhancement of US military capability in the region. The successful
resolution of the Iraqi situation will strengthen such positions.
As stated in a press release by Senator Kyl:
This is exactly the kind of approach the international community
has taken with respect to Iraq; we should do nothing less in
dealing with North Korea.(46)
Given these factors the DPRK's ability to secure
bilateral negotiations with the US, and to achieve favourable terms
in negotiations, would be strengthened by the resolution of the
crisis before the successful conclusion of the Iraq
situation. This suggests that the DPRK is likely to seek to impose
both stricter deadlines and engage in more severe escalation
tactics to speed up negotiations.
The options for dealing with the immediate North
Korean nuclear crisis lie in two diametrically opposed
categoriessanctions and engagement. Historical precedents exist for
the use of each approach in relations with North Korea, however no
one strategy has proven wholly successful.
The use of sanctions (limited or extensive) to
change DPRK behaviour do not have a strong record of success. Since
the early 1970s the juche ideology of self reliance,
coupled with its economic mismanagement, has effectively placed
self-imposed sanctions on the DPRK. The US first imposed sanctions
on North Korea in 1950 under the Trading with the Enemy Act. They
have been modified on several occasions, most recently on 19 June
2000 in support of the Agreed Framework and to encourage the
cessation of DPRK missile tests.
Since the easing of sanctions in 2000 the export
and import of goods to and from the DPRK have been allowed,
providing licensing and prior notification to appropriate US
agencies. Travel restrictions have also been lifted. However,
significant increases in trade have not occurred. This is largely
due to both the fact that the DPRK remains suspicious of the
potential for increased trade to weaken regime security and the
inherent wariness of business regarding export finance in such
unstable circumstances. Economic sanctions were reinforced in
August 2002 after evidence of missile sales to Yemen
While the effectiveness of limited sanctions to
influence DPRK behaviour remains questionable, the threat of
stricter sanctions has gained significant responses from Pyongyang.
Extensive sanctions will threaten North Korea's extensive arms
exports which are a key source of hard currency for the regimein
particular the powerful military elite. There are no verifiable
figures of the value of arms exports with estimates varying from
US$100 million to US$1 billion. The main customers in the past have
been Iran, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Most recently,
Pyongyang issued a strong protest on 12 December after the
unflagged vessel So-San, carrying North Korean
Hwasong Scud missiles bound for Yemen, was intercepted by
Spanish forces in the Indian Ocean. The protest emphasised the
importance Pyongyang places on arms exports as a valuable source of
The final consideration against stronger
sanctions is the DPRK declaration that the imposition of sanctions
will be regarded as an act of war. This tactic was also employed
effectively by North Korea in the 1994 nuclear crisis. The high
level of brinkmanship raises the cost of imposing sanctions to the
level of a military strike. Both China and South Korea remain
opposed to sanctionsthe latter heeding the traditional Korean
saying 'a cornered rat will attack the cat'.
Engagement with the DPRK has historically proven
difficult due to both domestic opposition and North Korea's often
erratic handling of international relations. The most successful
policy of engagement has been followed by South Korea, with similar
policies in the US and Japan facing strong domestic opposition.
Since the election of Kim Dae-Jung in 1998,
engagement has been the central feature of South Korea's relation
with the North. The success of the approach has been limited, but
significant. Culminating with the historic leader's summit in 2000,
the policy of engagement has enabled a closer working arrangement
on issues of humanitarian assistance, inter-Korean trade and
economic assistance. The success of the policy is perhaps best
viewed as one of its greatest challenges. The July 2002 naval clash
in which five South Korean naval personnel lost their lives
resulted not in an escalation of tension as would have occurred
prior to the policy of engagement but rather in a statement of
'regret' from the DPRK.
The United States has attempted engagement with
the DPRK to varying degrees. Under the Clinton administration trade
restrictions were eased and closer cooperation sought, highlighted
by the visit of Secretary of State, Madelaine Albright, in October
However, domestic consensus for closer
engagement with the DPRK has proven difficult. Opposition in the US
centres upon the use of incentives in negotiating with Pyongyang.
Incentives are considered by opponents as equivalent to paying
blackmail. Opponents claim the use of incentives in a 'carrot and
stick' approach have not yielded results due to the over emphasis
on the 'carrot'. A strong opponent of the Clinton policy of
engagement Senator McCain (REPArizona) emphasised in June 1995:
Our diplomacy employs only carrots; theirs only sticks. Whenever
our carrots have failed to prevent North Korean transgressions, the
administration has limited its choice of sticks to the withdrawal
of the carrot.(48)
In Japan, engagement is limited by strong public
opinion opposed to the DPRK regime. Despite the September 2002
KoizumiKim Summit meeting in Pyongyang, public opposition to
increased financial assistance remains strong due to
dissatisfaction with the DPRK's handling of cases involving
kidnapped Japanese nationals. Opposition to engagement is also
based on the very real threat of DPRK ballistic missile and nuclear
China continues to maintain a low profile in the
current nuclear crisis despite having vital strategic interests at
stake and potentially holding the greatest influence over the DPRK,
being its main source of energy, food and diplomatic support.
Its position on the nuclear issue remains based
on (1) peace and stability on the peninsula should be preserved;
(2) the peninsula should remain nuclear free; and (3) the dispute
should be resolved through diplomatic and political
methods.(49) China has urged both the US and DPRK
governments to return to the 1994 Agreed Framework and to resolve
the dispute through dialogue.
Given China's wider strategic interests on the
peninsula, a larger role for China in the resolution of the current
crisis may eventuate. A nuclear build up in Northeast Asia, the
more rapid deployment of US NMD, and possible immediate deployment
of Theatre Missile Defence (TMD), would not serve China's
interests. Further, the possible collapse of the North Korean
regime as a result of sanctions, military action or North Korean
adventurism would inevitably lead to adverse humanitarian, economic
and military situations on China's border with North Korea, also
central to China's strategic interests.
China's role will be central to any resolution
of the current crisis. The US has given signals that it expects
China to play a larger role in applying pressure on North Korea. In
a television interview Secretary of State, Colin Powell, urged
China to take a greater role in the crisis, stating on 9 February,
Half their foreign aid goes to North Korea. Eighty percent of
North Koreas wherewithal, with respect to energy and economic
activity, comes from China. China has a role to play, and I hope
China will play that role.(50)
On 11 February 2003 Chinese Foreign Ministry
spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue stepped out from China's previous low key
position on the crisis to insist that the two sides should talk
directly, reiterating the DPRK position. In response to a question
on the US Secretary of State's request for China to play a greater
role, the spokesperson agreed that the North Korean nuclear issue
was a concern to all of North Korea's neighbours, but insisted that
the two sides should negotiate bilaterally a return to the 1994
Given that China's vital interests are best
served by the maintenance of the status quo on the peninsula, it is
unlikely to support any hardline sanctions approach that may
precipitate the downfall of the DPRK. Its role will more likely
prove decisive in a behind-the-scenes support for a diplomatic
initiative to ensure the survival of the DPRK based on its
principles of peace and stability, a nuclear free peninsula and
diplomatic/political resolution of the crisis.
Australia has traditionally maintained greater
independence in interaction with Asia given its evident self
interest in the region. This has been reflected in Australia's
early re-establishment of diplomatic relations with the DPRK and
its ongoing search for a pragmatic and rapid resolution of the
current crisis. The implications of the crisis for Australia centre
upon its important economic relations with the Northeast Asian
region. Australia also remains committed to an alliance structure
that provides a strong argument for Australian involvement in
conflict on the peninsula. In addition, there exists the
possibility of Australian participation in the resolution of the
current crisis through multilateral dialogue.
Australia was the second western nation to
re-establish diplomatic relations with the DPRK as it emerged
hesitatingly from its isolation in the late 1990s. Stating his
purpose as 'ensuring that Australia continues to play its part in
bringing North Korea in from the cold', on 14 December 2000 the
Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, arrived in North
Korea to initiate negotiations on the establishment of diplomatic
relations.(52) On 5 March 2002 DPRK officials were
granted diplomatic accreditation in Canberra. The resumption of
diplomatic relations resumed direct contact which had ceased with
the abrupt, and as yet unexplained, departure of the first DPRK
delegation in 1975. The Australian embassy to be opened in the DPRK
capital, Pyongyang, has been postponed due to the current
The resumption of diplomatic relations opened a
channel of communication, allowing for the direct presentation of
Australian viewpoints to the DPRK on regional security issues.
Australia's ability to influence developments in the DPRK remain
commensurate with its low level of trade and development
assistance, and its limited influential capacity in global
In 2001 Australian trade with the DPRK totalled
A$5 million, comprising primarily of imports from the DPRK. While
there exists significant potential in a long term stabilised North
Korea, the current low level of trade can be attributed to the
uncertainty and risk faced by business in such an unstable
Australian aid to the DPRK remains at a low
level reflecting both international donor fatigue and concerns with
the distribution of food aid within the DPRK. The DPRK has not
allowed international aid agency access to the food distribution
system, raising suspicions of aid diversion to the military and
black marketeers. Further, the DPRK restricts access to certain
areas of the country, making a complete nutritional survey
impossible. On 21 February 2003 Australia committed A$3 million to
the alleviation of hunger in the DPRK through a contribution to the
World Food Program. The total Australian commitment to DPRK
humanitarian requirements since 1996 is approximately A$39
Australia also maintains an active interest in
the stability of the region through its significant contribution to
the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO).
Australia is the largest non-executive board member contributor to
KEDO. KEDO was developed as part of the 1994 Agreed Framework to
fund the delivery of alternative energy (initially heavy fuel oil)
to the DPRK in return for the suspension of its nuclear development
program. In its 2002 annual report KEDO notes that from March 1995
until December 2001, Australia contributed US$13.3 million.
Northeast Asia remains Australia's most
important export market despite recently declining growth trends.
In 200102 it accounted for 40.7 per cent of Australia's merchandise
exports. Any disruption to the region, affecting Australian trade,
or intra-regional trade will inevitably affect Australia's economic
The current crisis has already affected consumer
and investor confidence in South Korea, Australia thirdlargest
export market. An authoritative measure of business confidence, the
Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) business survey index (BSI)
fell to a 14 month low in January, with analysts citing
geo-political uncertainty as a possible reason. The international
credit rating agency, Moody's, conducted a review of South Korea's
credit rating in January downgrading the nation's long term credit
rating from positive to negative. Moody's attributed the change to
the current nuclear crisis.
The downgrade in South Korea's credit rating
will affect short term Australian business confidence in South
Korea, possibly harming the diversification of the trade
relationship, which remains largely based on the export of
Australian raw materials and the import of South Korean finished
consumer products. However, given an early resolution of the
crisis, current levels of trade will not be affected and consumer
confidence will rapidly be replaced given South Korea's positive
Escalation of the crisis has the potential to
affect intra-regional trade. The crisis could possibly exacerbate
tension between the major actors of the region, South Korea, Japan
and China, adversely affecting recent moves towards closer
integration. Tension already exists as China and Japan vie for the
economic leadership of the East Asian region. Any upset of the
status quo in the region that could affect the rebound of the
stagnant Japanese economy, or slow Chinese economic growth will
adversely Australia's key export markets in the medium term.
Escalation of the current crisis could be also
be the trigger for destabilisation of this key region. Tension
could be dramatically increased if any number of reactionary
scenarios eventuate such as a decision by Japan to alter its
pacifist constitution in response to North Korean threats, a US
pullout from South Korea, more rapid Japanese and US deployment of
Theatre Missile Defence or National Missile Defence, or collapse of
A high level of conflict on the peninsula and
its probable spread to Japan would severely affect Australian trade
interests. The cessation of trade with South Korea and the severe
disruption to trade with Japan would threaten more the more than
A$52 billion trade relationship which accounts for approximately 22
per cent of Australia's merchandise trade.(54)
The US currently maintains 37 000 troops in
South Korea as well as 45 000 troops in Japan. Analysts
consider the troops a 'tripwire' of the much greater involvement
required should hostilities break out on the Korean peninsula.
Given Australia's close alliance with the US, its interest in the
security of South Korea, and its historical commitment to Northeast
Asian security, strong pressure for an Australian contribution
would be expected.
Australia committed forces to the defence of
South Korea during the Korean War (19501953) suffering more than
1500 casualties, of whom 339 were killed. Australia's immediate
commitment included forces stationed in Japan as part of the
Commonwealth Occupation Force, the 77 Squadron RAAF and 3 Royal
Australian Regiment (3 RAR) and later extended to include rotation
of the 1 RAR and 2 RAR.
Australia was one of the sixteen signatories to
the Joint Policy Declaration Concerning the Korean Armistice signed
in Washington on 27 July 1953. This agreement confirmed the resolve
of signatories to resist any new armed attack, in the interest of
world peace, and in accordance with the principles of the United
Nations. Given the fact that an armistice remains in place on the
peninsula, not a peace treaty, the declaration provides further
strength to the case for immediate Australian involvement in any
future Korean conflict.
Australian participation in the resolution of
the current crisis has been limited to the dispatch of a five
member diplomatic delegation to Pyongyang. The delegation expressed
Australia's concerns and point of view on the issue, and presented
a letter from Foreign Minister Downer to his North Korean
Future possible Australian participation in
Permanent Five Plus Five (P5 +5) negotiations on the issue has been
expressed by the US. The US maintains the position that it does not
want to engage in bilateral negotiations with the DPRK, preferring
to include members of the international community. The P5 +5 would
include the permanent members of the UN Security Council, the US,
UK, France, Russia and China along with Japan, the two Koreas, the
EU and Australia. While participation in such a forum would
increase Australia's role in the resolution of the crisis,
statements by the DPRK Ambassador to Australia, Chon Jae Hong, have
emphasised the DPRK's absolute rejection of multi-party talks in
favour of 'direct equal negotiations' with the US based on the
principles of respect for sovereignty, non-aggression and economic
Australian Government policy remains aimed at
increasing diplomatic pressure on the DPRK to return to its
safeguards obligations and comply with the NPT. The Australian
position emphasises dialogue both through regional multilateral
bilateral USDPRK channels. In response to a Parliamentary question
on 13 February 2003, the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer
It is not unreasonable for the United States to talk with the
North Koreans and see what can be achieved. So we hope that in the
fullness of time, in an appropriate circumstance and under
appropriate conditions, such bilateral discussions may take
On 26 February, after a meeting with US
Secretary of State, Colin Powell, the Foreign Minister echoed the
US position that bilateral talks between the US and the DPRK may
take place, but only in the context of a multilateral
It is crucially important that countries like China, which has
so much leverage over North Korea, play a key part in trying to
ensure not just that the framework for meetings can take place, but
also that North Korea can be persuaded to
- The 1994 Agreed Framework allowed for International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of North Korean nuclear
facilities, the decommissioning of the graphite moderated reactor
in exchange for heavy fuel oil, the resumption of normal diplomatic
relations and the construction of two light water reactor (LWR)
nuclear power plants, judged to be safer given their dependence
upon an external fuel cycle. With the suspension of heavy fuel oil
shipments it is estimated North Korea would face a 15 per cent
reduction in electricity supply, triggering the closure of
factories and transport facilities, thus further weakening the
- Larry Niksch, North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program,
Congressional Research Service, January 2003.
- Federation of American Scientists, Missile Overview, available
- 'The Rumsfeld Report', The Commission to Assess the Ballistic
Missile Threat to the United States, 104th US Congress.
- For further detailed information on the prospects of DPRK
economic survival see Marcus Noland, Between collapse and
revival: a reinterpretation of the North Korean economy, IIE
2001, available at: http://www.iie.com/papers/noland0201-2.htm.
- The DPRK faced recurring famine conditions in the 1990s.
Estimates of the death toll vary greatly from 900 000 to 3.5
- Adrian Buzo, The Making of Modern Korea, Routledge
Press, 2002. p. 193.
- Scott Snyder, North Korea's Nuclear Program: The Role of
Incentives in Preventing Deadly Conflict, available at:
- IAEA, Fact Sheet on DPRK Nuclear Safeguards, 8 January
- Alexandre Y. Mansourov, The Origins, Evolution, and Current
Politics of the North Korean Nuclear Program, The
Nonproliferation Review, SpringSummer 1995
- For a detailed account of Soviet influence on DPRK nuclear
program see Alexandre Y. Mansourov, ibid.
- IAEA, loc. cit.
- Peter Brookes, Agreed Framework in Danger of Collapse, Nautilus
- Larry Niksch, Korea: USKorean RelationsIssues for
Congress, Issue Brief for Congress, Congressional Research
Service, Library of Congress, 23 January 2003.
- IAEA, Fact Sheet on DPRK Nuclear Safeguards, 8 January
- UN World Food Program, North Korea Country Brief.
- UN World Food Program, Nutrition Survey of the Democratic
People's Republic of Korea, November 1998, available at: http://www.wfp.org/country_brief/indexcountry.asp?country=408#
- Economist Intelligence Unit, DPRK Country Profile 2002, p.
- ibid, p. 17
- ibid, p. 18
- Yongho Kim, North Korea's use of terror and coercive diplomacy:
looking for the circumstantial variants, The Korean Journal of
Defense Analysis, vol XIV, no 1, Spring 2002, p. 61.
- Referenced in Nicholas Eberstadt, Our Other Korean
Problem, The National Interest, Fall 2002, p. 110.
- Yonhap News Agency, 4 March, 2001.
- Boo Hyung-Kwan, Bush's policy towards North Korea,
Donga Ilbo, 8 November, 2000.
- The Harris Poll, 3 January 2001.
- Survey: Anti-US sentiment in South Korea, Joongang
Ilbo, 27 February 2002.
- 'Protests, tight security await Bush in S. Korea', Manila
Times, 20 February 2002.
- National Security Strategy of the United States of America,
September 2002, available at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss.html
- Oh Young Jin Kim, Koizumi urge US to resume talks with NK,
Korea Times, 22 September 2002.
- Shim Jae Yun, 'Seoul to call on US to take softer stance on
nuke issue', Korea Times, 23 October 2002.
- Secretary Colin Powell, Press Conference St Regis Hotel,
Beijing, China, 24 February 2003.
- Phillip Reeker, US State Department Briefing, State Department,
23 December 2002.
- Richard Boucher, 'North Korea Situation Not a Crisis', US State
Department Daily Briefing, 10 January 2003.
- United States Navy Seventh Fleet News, 'Carl Vinson Battlegroup
Visits Guam', 25 February 2003.
- United States Force Korea News Release No. 030207, RSOI and
Foal Exercises Combined, 17 February 2003.
- President George W. Bush, Remarks by the President to the Press
Pool Office of International Information Programs, US Department of
State, 7 February 2003.
- Richard Boucher, Spokesman Department of State Daily Press
Briefing , Washington, DC 28 August 2002.
- On June 16 2002 two teenage girls were killed in a road
accident in Yangju, north of Seoul involving a USFK tank on the way
to training exercises in the area. The tragic accident grew into a
major issue centring upon the presence of American forces in South
Korea. The extremely emotional nature of the accident galvanised
growing anti-American sentiment to such an extent that fears were
expressed by both governments of the rise in anti-American
sentiment. At the centre of the issue was the refusal of USFK to
release the two soldiers to be tried under South Korean
jurisdiction, after a request by the South Korean Justice Ministry.
Under the SOFA the USFK is not required to hand over jurisdiction
for incidents which occur during training.
- Michael Lev, 'Many S. Koreans fault US for Crisis', Chicago
Tribune, 6 January 2003.
- Peter S. Goodman, 'Anti-US Sentiment Deepens in South Korea',
Washington Post, 9 January 2003.
- Ted Galen Carpenter, 'Needless Exposure to Risk',
Washington Times, 19 November 2002.
- Shin Young-Bae, 'Hubbard Confirms Plans to Realign Forces in
Korea', Korea Herald, 18 February 2003.
- Sydney Morning Herald, 'Blair Points to North Korea as
Next Target', 31 January 2003.
- Washington Times, 'Rumsfeld Says US Can Win War on Two
Fronts', 24 December, 2002.
- Jon Kyl, Senate Press Release, Senate Bipartisan Group
Urges New Strategy Toward North Korea, 13 January 2003.
- For further information on US economic sanctions see Dianne
Rennack, North Korea: Economic Sanctions, Congressional
Research Service, Report for Congress, 24 January 2003.
- As cited in Scott Snyder, op. cit.
- Zhang Qiyue, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China, Spokeperson's
Press Conference, 13 February 2003.
- Interview with Colin Powell, Fox Sunday News, 9
- Jim Randle, 'China Urges Direct N. Korea US Talks', Voice of
America, 11 February 2003.
- As cited in David Goldsworthy, Issues in Australian Foreign
Policy, The Australian Journal of Politics and History,
June 2001, vol. 47, no. 2, p. 225.
- The OECD Country Report released February 2003 estimates growth
rates of 56 per cent for the ROK in 2004.
- DFAT Composition of Trade 200102.
- Speech by DPRK Ambassador Chon Jae Hong at the Australian
Institute for International Affairs, Canberra, 11 February
- Parliament of Australia, House of Representatives,
Debate, Thursday 13 February 2003, p. 837.
- AAP, 'Australia Calls on Other Nations to Help Deal with North
Korea', 26 February 2003.
1994 Nuclear Crisis
2003 Nuclear Crisis
February 1993. IAEA request for
special inspection refused by DPRK.
November 2001. Technical
meetings between the DPRK and IAEA fail to agree on program of work
for activities required to verify the correctness and completeness
of the initial report.
12 March 1993. DPRK announces
withdrawal from NPT.
16 October 2002. DPRK
acknowledges the existence of a program to enrich uranium for
nuclear weapons in talks with US Assistant Secretary Kelly.
1 April 1993. IAEA Board of
Governors deems DPRK in noncompliance with Safeguards Agreement,
referred to Security Council.
Statements by the US, by the US together with Japan and South
Korea, and by KEDO conclude the DPRK program to be in violation of
the Agreed Framework, the NPT, the DPRKIAEA Nuclear Safeguards
Agreement and the NorthSouth Joint Declaration on the
Denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.
11 May 1993. Security Council
calls on DPRK to comply.
November 2002. KEDO suspends
heavy oil shipments to the DPRK.
June 1993. DPRK announces
suspension of withdrawal from NPT.
November 2002. IAEA Board of
Governors adopts resolution calling for immediate DPRK reply and
1993 and 1994. DPRK allows
conduct of Safeguards activities with limited scope.
December 2002. DPRK Foreign
Minister Paek Nam Sun expresses disappointment at IAEA unfair and
unilateral approach. DPRK refuses to accept resolution.
December 1993. IAEA Director
General's report states limited safeguards activities permitted by
the DPRK no longer provides meaningful assurance of peaceful use of
DPRK declared nuclear installations.
13 December 2002. DPRK
announces decision to lift the freeze on its nuclear facilities in
light of KEDO suspension of heavy fuel oil.
19 March 1994. DPRK officials
threaten to turn ROK capital into a 'sea of fire', dramatically
increasing growing tension on the peninsula.
22 December 2002. DPRK begins
cutting seals and removing surveillance cameras.
31 March 1994. Security Council
calls on DPRK to allow IAEA inspectors to carry out required
27 December 2002. DPRK orders
IAEA inspectors to leave the country.
28 April 1994. DPRK Foreign
Ministry issues statement, describing the Armistice Agreement as
'blank sheets of paper', threatening withdrawal from the
6 January 2003. IAEA adopts new
resolution calling for urgent cooperation with the agency.
May 1994. DPRK hastily
discharges fuel from 5 MW reactor, making clarification of core
10 January 2003. DPRK announces
withdrawal from NPT effective immediately. The required three
months notice is stated as unnecessary due to the effective
withdrawal being only 'suspended' in 1993.
30 May 1994. Security Council
calls for immediate consultation between DPRK and IAEA.
5 February 2003. US satellite
images show movement of spent fuel rods at Yongbyong nuclear
10 June 1994. IAEA Board of
Governors adopt a resolution stating the DPRK's continued and
increased non-compliance with safeguards.
12 February 2003. IAEA refers
DPRK violations of the Safeguards Agreement to the UN Security
13 June 1994. DPRK withdraws
its membership from the IAEA.
17 February 2003. DPRK
threatens withdrawal from Armistice Agreement that ended
hostilities on the Korean peninsula in 1953.
June 1994. Former US President
Jimmy Carter visits DPRK as US Special Envoy.
20 February 2003. DPRK MiG-19
flies over the Northern Limit Line (NLL) initiating immediate alert
in the ROK.
21 October 1994. US and DPRK
commit to the Agreed Framework. DPRK 'freeze' and ultimate
dismantlement of graphite-moderated reactor projects in exchange
for supply of heavy fuel oil, Light Water Reactor (LWR) generating
capacity of 2000 MW, a formal assurance against the use of nuclear
weapons against the DPRK, and the easing of trade restrictions.
24 February 2003. The DPRK
launches a surface to sea missile in the Sea of Japan (East Sea),
on same day as inauguration of new ROK president Roh Moo-Hyun.
25 February 2003. DPRK protests
at US spyplane flights along its eastern coast. Warns citizens to
prepare for US preemptive attack.
26 February 2003. DPRK restarts
Yongbyong nuclear reactor.
4 March 2003. Four DPRK fighter
jets intercept a US 'spyplane' in international waters of the DPRK
5 March 2003. US military
official confirms additional forces to be deployed to Western
Pacific as a defensive measure.
10 March 2003. DPRK launches
second surface to sea missile after declaring a maritime exclusion
zone in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) for the period 811 March.
11 March 2003. US deploys six
F111 Stealth Fighters and 20 F-15 fighters, as well as the aircraft
carrier USS Carl Vinson to participate in USROK military
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