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Is it a Signal Resolve the Nuclear Conflict Between N.K. and the U.S.?

Is it a Signal Resolve the Nuclear Conflict Between N.K. and the U.S.?

Posted January. 02, 2004 23:13,   


As the news came through on the first day of 2004, that the North Korean government will admit a U.S delegation which is supposed to visit North Korea next week, entering Yongbyon’s nuclear facility compounds, diverse presumptions on the background of this decision and the intentions behind disclosing the nuclear facility, have come up.

As this visit has not been publicized in advance, the decisive objectivities of the delegation have not been made clear. But, the report of Japanese news agencies, that the deadline for solving the nuclear problem has been fixed as March by the U.S. administration, attracted people’s attention.

What is North Korea aiming at? The government regards this delegation as a team of expert committee members from the U.S. Congress. They consider that the reason for North Korea admitting the delegation to the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon is to temporize the situation.

Because, if any progress has not appeared when the six-nation talks are skidding, the atmosphere will reflect badly on North Korea.

In particular, as Libya, which once was included in the U.S.-specified “axis of evil” group, has recently repealed their plan to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and has agreed to receive the inspection team from the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), North Korea seems to have judged that it is necessary to show a positive attitude at the negotiation table.

It is also expected that North Korea, through these changes in attitude, would focus on the real obstacle that stops the six-nation talks from resuming, which is the United States, not North Korea. They might also expect that the U.S. will not immediately put pressure on North Korea, when their delegation has been invited to Yongbyon.

But, though the expert group from the U.S. congress will visit Yongbyon, there is still a chance of them kicking up a fuss around which facilities will be disclosed or how much of will be revealed. It is still difficult to conclude that the upcoming visit would become a turning point on this problem.

Though this visit is an official visit at the U.S. governmental level, they are not prepared to inspect the nuclear facility itself, and most of the related officials in the government think that this measure by North Korea will not directly affect the six-nation talk.

What is the background of the U.S. administration to permit this visit? It is not like the attempt from the House of Representatives back in January 2003, when the U.S. administration refused to let them carry out their visit to Pyoungyang. At this time, they permit the team, including Dr. Hecker, to visit North Korea, USA Today pointed out.

This newspaper expressed that Dr. Hecker is the top nuclear scientist. Dr. Hecker used to be the director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1985 to 1997, which manufactured the first nuclear bomb in the United States. The Los Alamos Laboratory is reckoned as one of the leading nuclear research centers in the U.S. It has become very popular since the U.S. Energy Ministry signed a document in April 2003 requesting the Laboratory develop a brand-new nuclear bomb.

People guess about the background of the U.S. saying that the objectives of their visit to North Korea are unclear. But, experts assessed that the U.S. administration might have thought this to be a chance of grasping whether North Korea has an intention to take part in the talks and to find out what kind of technological status they have.

“For example, according to North Korea’s decision whether the delegation can access the nuclear chemistry laboratory or can check out the status of the nuclear fuel pipe, the U.S. administration will judge their intentions and will about the six-nation talks,” assessed Kim Sung-han, a professor from the Institute of Foreign Affairs & National Security.

Young-Sik Kim Jung-Ahn Kim spear@donga.com credo@donga.com