Joshua PollackHere We Go 'Round The Mulberry Bush

Comeback time already?

I’m pretty sure this was made of concrete.

Following are some excerpts from a translation of the August 26, 2008 statement of the North Korean Foreign Ministry Spokesman. The full text appears in the comments.

The official English translation is now available here.

The 3 October agreement — which stipulates the second-stage action measures for the implementation of the 19 September Joint Statement on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula — includes our obligation to submit a nuclear declaration and the US obligation to remove our country from the list of “state sponsors of terrorism.”

We fulfilled our obligation by submitting a nuclear declaration on 26 June.

However, the United States did not remove us from the list of “state sponsors of terrorism” by the promised date for the “reason” that there was no agreement on a verification protocol on our nuclear declaration.

This is clear violation of the agreement.

In no agreement among the six parties or between the DPRK and the United States does an article stipulate the issue of verifying our nuclear declaration as a conditionality for the removal from the list.

If the United States thought it could conduct a house search on our country, too, as it pleased — like in Iraq — it is a big miscalculation.

Under the condition where the United States violated the agreements, we have been unavoidably left with no option but to take the following countermeasures in accordance with “action-for-action” principle.

First, to immediately suspend the work of neutralizing our nuclear facilities, which was in progress in accordance with the 3 October agreement. This measure came into effect on 14 August, and concerned parties have been notified already.

Second, we will consider soon the measure of restoring the Yo’ngbyo’n nuclear facilities to their original state…

You’ll sometimes hear it said that verification, as an issue, is the opposite of arms control. That strikes me as short-sighted. Not everything can be finessed. With hindsight, certainly, it is hard to explain how the verification subplot of the North Korea soap opera has been neglected to the point of re-emerging as BDA, Round Two.

Comments

  1. Josh Pollack

    Full text:

    DPRK Foreign Ministry Spokesman’s Statement:

    Due to the US refusal to implement the 3 October agreement from the six-party talks, a grave obstacle has been created in the resolution of the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula.

    The 3 October agreement — which stipulates the second-stage action measures for the implementation of the 19 September Joint Statement on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula — includes our obligation to submit a nuclear declaration and the US obligation to remove our country from the list of “state sponsors of terrorism.”

    We fulfilled our obligation by submitting a nuclear declaration on 26 June.

    However, the United States did not remove us from the list of “state sponsors of terrorism” by the promised date for the “reason” that there was no agreement on a verification protocol on our nuclear declaration.

    This is clear violation of the agreement.

    In no agreement among the six parties or between the DPRK and the United States does an article stipulate the issue of verifying our nuclear declaration as a conditionality for the removal from the list.

    If we are to talk about verification, it is an obligation to be met by all the six parties together at the final stage of the denuclearization of the entire Korean peninsula, in accordance with the 19 September Joint Statement.

    The principle of “action for action” is, precisely, that the verification of confirming that there are no US nuclear weapons in and around South Korea and that [no nuclear weapons] are newly carried in or passed through, must be carried out simultaneously with the verification of our implementation of obligations.

    In the current stage, all that has been agreed upon is the establishment of a verification mechanism and a monitoring mechanism within the framework of the six parties.

    However, the United States, by abusing this agreed point, suddenly brought forward the issue that an “international standard” must be applied to the verification of the nuclear declaration and coerced [us] to accept inspections such as arbitrarily rummaging in any place of our country and extracting and surveying samples.

    The “international standard,” which the United States is talking about is, namely, the “special inspection” which the IAEA brought forward in the 1990s and gave rise to our withdrawal from the NPT as a consequence of attempting to violate the sovereignty of our country.

    If the United States thought it could conduct a house search on our country, too, as it pleased — like in Iraq — it is a big miscalculation.

    For the United States to say that it will unilaterally inspect only us is a brigandish demand aimed at throwing away the denuclearization of the entire Korean peninsula — whose essence is the removal of US nuclear threats pursuant to the 19 September Joint Statement — and at disarming only us, the counterpart in a war where we are leveling guns at each other.

    The reason we are trying to denuclearize the Korean peninsula is so that the nuclear threats which are being inflicted upon our nation are removed. By all means, we do not mean to strike a bargain over our nuclear deterrent.

    If the six-party talks were to degenerate into a ground where big countries can trifle with small countries as they please, like now, who indeed needs such a six-party talks framework?

    The fact that the United States postponed the delisting this time for the reason of the verification issue — even though it had officially declared at home and abroad that our country was not a “state sponsor of terrorism” — is tantamount to the acknowledgement that that list is, in reality, not a list related to terrorism.

    It does not matter whether we remain on the list of “countries that are not submissive to the United States” as before.

    Right now, the United States is attempting to gravely infringe upon our country’s sovereignty.

    Under the condition where the United States violated the agreements, we have been unavoidably left with no option but to take the following countermeasures in accordance with “action-for-action” principle.

    First, to immediately suspend the work of neutralizing our nuclear facilities, which was in progress in accordance with the 3 October agreement. This measure came into effect on 14 August, and concerned parties have been notified already.

    Second, we will consider soon the measure of restoring the Yo’ngbyo’n nuclear facilities to their original state, per our relevant agencies’ strong demand.

    Chuch’e 97, 26 August 2008
    Pyongyang

  2. Lao Tao Ren (History)

    The timing of this is interesting….

    – End of Beijing Olympics

    – Russia/Georgia crisis

    – US-India Agreement stalled at NSG

  3. Harry Lime (History)

    Unsurprisingly, neither side in the current tit for tat battle or words is being entirely straightforward in their telling of events. Forget all the statements made by either side, these can be dismissed as interpretation, aspiration, spin, economies with the truth or downright lies. Instead, concentrate on those relatively few words the two parties have managed to agree upon in the Six Party statements. Looking at phrases relevant to the current impasse and working backwards, we have:

    “The DPRK agreed to provide a complete and correct declaration of all its nuclear programs in accordance with the February 13 agreement by 31 December 2007” Oct 2007,

    “The US will begin the process of removing the designation of the DPRK as a state-sponsor of terrorism and advance the process of terminating the application of the Trading with the Enemy Act with respect to the DPRK” Feb 2007 and Oct 2007,

    “The Six Parties unanimously reaffirmed that the goal of the Six-Party Talks is the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner” and “The 1992 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should be observed and implemented” Sept 2005, and

    “The South and the North, in order to verify the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, shall conduct inspection of the objects selected by the other side and agreed upon between the two sides, in accordance with procedures and methods to be determined by the South-North Joint Nuclear Control Commission” Jan 1992.

    Now, so few and carefully phrased words leave an ocean of greyness but there are two undeniable truths: the only mention of verif* pertains to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsular whilst on the other hand there’s no commitment from the US to actually remove the DPRK from those designated as being a state-sponsor of terrorism, just to “begin the process”.

    These documents were not drafted by idiots – the language and thus the greyness is therefore deliberate and has been used as means for allowing the process to advance with apparent agreement whilst pushing all the difficult issues into the future i.e. to a time when the grey has to be dispersed and some clarity brought in to define various phrases and terms a little, or rather a lot, more precisely. Unfortunately that day appears to have arrived.

    The North Koreans have demonstrated that they’re quite prepared for the process to stall, they sat quietly until the BDA issue was sorted out to their satisfaction and held firm to their version of what was meant to be ‘fessed up to until Hill finally gave in and accepted an, apparently, incomplete declaration. The apparent shock and horror from the US side at the North Korean’s suggestion that they might want to verify the absence of US weapons in the South is disingenuous given the wording of the past agreements whilst the attempt to include verification of anything other than the declared Pu programme is difficult to understand, what would verification of some acknowledged concerns amount to? Hill’s previous use of the phrase ‘declaration package’ is another act of obfuscation – either the enrichment programme and proliferation activities are included in the declaration or they’re not and to my understanding they’re not, they’re in something else and very definitely not the declaration as far as the North Korean’s are concerned.

    So how’s this going to turn out? My money’s on an eventual further US concession: minimal, and meaningless, verification of the declared amount of Pu that hasn’t been taken off into the weapons programme with anything more substantive to wait for a later phase. Oh, I hope I’m wrong.

  4. Robot Economist (History)

    You can set up the most quantifiable, objective verification proces ever imagined, but a state party will ultimately measure compliance by whether the process has adequately ensured its national security.

    But hey, I’m just a cynical arms control guy…

  5. Lao Tao Ren (History)

    The cycle of DPRK intransigence is directly related to the harvest and their need for fuel oil.

    Might this behavior also be related to an issue that dropped off the radar:

    How much Pu did they use for the first test?

    If it is really a very advanced weaponized device that was tested, it is begging additional questions as to how they got that far that fast.

  6. rkelly

    Ho hum. surely there’s no surprise in this reaction. We’ve all been waiting for it.

  7. nuc free korea (History)

    Talk about deja vu! The issue at hand is special inspections, the same issue that was at the heart of the original nuclear crisis. It was not solved then and the path to solving it is not yet clear. To the Americans, special inspections are a way to find what NK has hidden and to try to get them to tell the truth. NK has not in the past, nor do they seem willing in the future, to admit to anything that the international community considers wrongdoing. Their nature and their strategic objectives don’t allow them to.

    In furthering the analysis of the documents cited above. You should note that NK did agree to submit a “complete and correct” declaration. We all know that it is only US winking that makes the document complete, but the verification protocol under discussion was meant to get at the correctness of the declaration as a basis for future negotiation. NK has turned this into a larger issue of reciprocal inspections, probably to get the US to ease up on the special inspections requirement.

    In any case, as long the NK is forced to deny their uranium enrichment program, it can’t be used as a deterrent. If they try, then they are subject to sanctions and that would open the door for negotiations to get them to give them up.

    We should be asking ourselves why they want nuclear weapons in the first place. They place great strain on their economy (limiting their ability to maintain their conventional forces that are arrayed along the border) and subject them to sanctions further limiting their economy. And why would they enter into negotiations to give them up?

    The answer is simple, to get the US to no longer provide South Korea with a nuclear umbrella.

  8. AntiquatedTory (History)

    And why would NK be so concerned about removing the US nuclear umbrella from South Korea? Isn’t the umbrella itself part of a deterrent against NK trying to reunify the country by force? Do you think the possibility of North Korea invading South Korea so farfetched that no deterrent is necessary? The war, I believe, is technically still not over.

  9. Lao Tao Ren (History)

    The tragedy of starving North Koreans is gradually pushing me toward thinking in terms of “Regime Revocation”….

    ——————

    http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=5704665

    UN Seeks $60 Million for North Korean Food Aid
    UN Agency Says It Urgently Needs $60 Million to Fund Emergency Food Aid for North Korea
    By GILLIAN WONG
    The Associated Press

    BEIJING

    The U.N. food agency urged donors Tuesday to separate politics from humanitarian aid as it appealed for $60 million to help impoverished North Korea avert its worst food crisis since the 1990s.

    The World Food Program said it needed the funds urgently for an emergency program to feed 6.3 million North Koreans.

    The WFP needs a total of $503 million to fund the 15-month operation — but requires $60 million immediately to run the program until the end of the year, the agency’s Asia director, Tony Banbury, told reporters in Beijing.

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