평화/화해

NEPSNet Special Report - DPRK(2)

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2000-03-29 00:03
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Myth #3: KEDO doesn't need, or deserve, strong U.S. support

According to published accounts, North Korea's work at the nuclear
facilities covered by the Agreed Framework has halted. This nuclear freeze
is being monitored not only by U.S. national technical means, but also by
international inspectors on the ground at these sites in North Korea.

This nuclear freeze is the result of KEDO, the multinational consortium
envisioned in the Agreed Framework and established in 1995. Without this
nuclear freeze, it is estimated that Pyongyang would have the capability to
build 5-6 nuclear weapons per year; in other words, without the Agreed
Framework, North Korea could have a nuclear arsenal of at least 25-30 bombs
by now. Needless to say, this result would be profoundly destabilizing to
all of East Asia and detrimental to U.S. stature and influence in the region.

Despite this useful role, KEDO suffers today from a number of problems, all
of which require immediate high-level attention from Washington. First,
KEDO needs to reach an agreement with the prime contractor, KEPCO, that is
acceptable to the subcontractors on nuclear liability for the LWR project.
If certain subcontractors decide not to participate in the project because
of the nuclear liability issue, then the entire project will be put at
risk, or at a minimum, suffer additional delay and cost. Specifically, if
General Electric, which licenses technology for the steam turbine
generators and supplies certain components, decides not to participate, the
next best source of technology and components would be a Japanese company.
This option would be strongly resisted by Seoul and, even if it were
approved eventually, would entail extensive revisions of LWR plant design.
The result would be additional delays and increased costs for the LWR
project, which is already an estimated five years behind schedule.

Second, there is still no agreed-upon delivery schedule that sets out the
time-frame for KEDO's construction of the two LWR plants, as well as the
obligations the DPRK side must meet for the project to be completed.
Currently, KEDO has been unable to arrive at a consensus approach to this
protocol. A major point of internal disagreement is how to handle the
timing of North Korea's coming into full compliance with its International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards obligations. It is estimated that
the IAEA's investigative and analytical process may take as long as 24
months, during which time little or no work would be done at the Kumho
site. This delay would increase significantly the cost of the LWR project.
As the country footing the largest portion of the bill, South Korea has
argued that this time period needs to be shortened by having the North
Koreans take certain cooperative steps with the IAEA in advance of the
IAEA's inquiry. Seoul would like KEDO to require that these steps be
enshrined in the delivery schedule and performance protocol. The Clinton
Administration is opposed to this approach, not wanting to entangle KEDO on
an issue that is primarily the concern of the IAEA.

Third, KEDO is faced with the difficult task, first, of explaining to the
KEDO Executive Board members that an internationally acceptable nuclear
liability regime must be established in the DPRK, a regime that may be very
different from the ones in place in the ROK and Japan. It then must
explain to the North how this regime works and, in addition, have Pyongyang
formally adopt domestic legislation that will channel to the DPRK operator
of the LWR plants all liability for claims arising from a nuclear incident.
While many of these steps are stipulated in the December 1995 Supply
Agreement, which provides the overall framework for the LWR project, few
officials in Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have to date invested much time in
understanding this complex issue.

Making matters potentially more difficult, the entire KEDO project is
premised on the DPRK assuming all nuclear liability and the DPRK always
being deemed the operator of the two LWR plants. However, there is already
a conflict on this subject between KEDO and the North Koreans. Because
this project will be delivered on a "turn-key" (completed) basis to the
North, Pyongyang has argued that KEDO is responsible for delivering two
fully functioning nuclear power plants to the North. This would include
KEDO performing all of the nuclear commissioning tests to ensure the LWR
plants worked properly before responsibility for the reactors was formally
transferred to the North. Under this scenario, KEDO would have to operate
the LWR plants during this commissioning phase, and would thereby assume
the risk of nuclear liability. North Korea has identified language in the
Supply Agreement that supports its interpretation. A nuclear liability
protocol must be in place before the project goes very far forward because
of the time that will be required for the DPRK to implement the procedures
necessary to establish a nuclear liability regime acceptable to KEDO, its
contractors and the larger international community.

These three issues have been debated for years inside the KEDO Secretariat,
which has been unable to broker differences among the Executive Board
members. The reality is that none of these issues will be resolved - and
the KEDO project will not go forward -- without the attention of senior
officials in Washington, as well as in Seoul and Tokyo.

It is useful to recall that under the Agreed Framework, North Korea has
pledged to come clean about its nuclear past - to disclose how much
weapons-grade plutonium it has separated - only after KEDO completes a
"significant portion" of the two light-water reactors it has pledged to
build. Many people, including myself, are skeptical whether Pyongyang will
ever place all of its nuclear cards on the table. But we delay testing
this proposition with each day the KEDO project is stalled. We delay
forcing North Korea to choose which path to follow - the one leading to
greater engagement with the outside world or the one leading to greater
isolation and poverty for the North Korean regime.

In the past, Congress has from time to time played a useful role in
critiquing the Administration's North Korea policy. Congress has been most
helpful when it has avoided the temptation to score political points at the
Administration's expense and instead focused on the larger strategic issues
at stake for the United States in Northeast Asia. For example, in November
1998, it passed legislation requiring the Clinton Administration to appoint
a Special Coordinator to conduct a thorough review of Washington's North
Korea policy. This Congressional initiative yielded tangible results: the
Perry Report and the Trilateral Coordination and Oversight Group.

Congress still has an important role to play in helping shape the
Administration's strategy towards North Korea. Congress should emphasize
to the Administration that U.S. goals are greater security and stability on
the Korean Peninsula, continued close policy coordination with our South
Korean and Japanese allies, and the maintenance of a strong deterrent
posture towards the North. The purpose of future negotiations with the
North is not simply more negotiations. Rather, it is to ensure that the
North take tangible steps to reduce the military threat it poses to the
South and in the region through its nuclear weapons, chemical, biological
and ballistic missile programs, and with its conventional forces.

At the same time, Congress can and should articulate what it is willing to
allow the Clinton Administration to place on the negotiating table when it
discusses these issues with the North. Are we willing to relax all
economic sanctions? Are we willing to remove the North from the terrorism
list? Are we willing to establish diplomatic relations and exchange
ambassadors? Are we willing to officially end the Korean War and sign a
peace treaty with North Korea? Are we willing to "buy out" the North's
ballistic missile program, and if so, for how much? Are we willing to
establish confidence-building measures, such as establishing hot lines
between military commanders on either side of the DMZ? Are we willing to
consider redeploying US/ROK forces if the North agrees to redeploy its
forces?

During the past five years of dealing with the North, the Clinton
Administration has not even asked many of these questions, let alone come
to some consensus on answering them. To be sure, these are complex issues
that resist simple answers. But if the United States is serious about
addressing the threat posed by the North, we must first of all decide what
price we are willing to pay. Only then will we be able to present the
North with a clear and well-defined choice - either greater engagement and
better relations with the outside world or continued international
isolation and poverty. Otherwise, the North will defer making this choice
for as long as possible, milking the negotiations for every concession it
can extract from the United States.

By proceeding in a more resolute manner - stating clearly what we want from
the North and what we are prepared to offer in return -- we allow ourselves
the greatest opportunity for a successful policy of engagement with
Pyongyang that will lead to greater security and stability in Korea. We
will also emerge in a much stronger position, with domestic public opinion,
with our allies and with the international community, should the North
decline our offer. Congress, and this Committee especially, has an
indispensable and ongoing role to play in this effort.