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It must be a very strange experience for
Washingtonhas capitulated at the six-nation talks on the North Korean nuclear problem in …” Beijing
Kosyrev noted that the Beijing Agreement:
“…fits the spirit, if not the letter, of the 1994 agreements with the Clinton administration, under which Pyongyang abandoned its nuclear plans, to receive fuel oil until the construction of a light-water nuclear reactor according to the KEDO (Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization) specifications is completed.”
Kosyrev predicted that the
“There are PR experts who can present
Washington's diplomatic capitulation as its victory and 's defeat. This can be done because few people now remember that the conflict began with unsubstantiated Pyongyang USaccusations, or know about the situation in at that time.” North Korea
But John Bolton is too angry to try to spin the
Proliferator of accusations
By Bolton’s own account, it was in January 2002 that he named
On January 29th 2002, President Bush made the famous speech in which he said of
“States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger.”
On 6th May 2002, Bolton gave an address to the right-wing Heritage Foundation entitled 'Beyond the Axis of Evil', in which he extended the WMD accusations to
“For four decades
Cubahas maintained a well-developed and sophisticated biomedical industry, supported until 1990 by the Soviet Union. This industry is one of the most advanced in Latin America, and leads in the production of pharmaceuticals and vaccines that are sold worldwide. Analysts and Cuban defectors have long cast suspicion on the activities conducted in these biomedical facilities.
“Here is what we now know: The United States believes that
has at least a limited offensive biological warfare research and development effort. Cuba has provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states. We are concerned that such technology could support BW programs in those states. We call on Cuba to cease all BW-applicable cooperation with rogue states and to fully comply with all of its obligations under the Biological Weapons Convention.” Cuba
The insinuation was then taken up by Colin Powell and other White House officials. CNN reported on 14th May 2002:
“ ‘The United States has plenty of reason to be concerned’ that Cuba has given such technology -- which could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction -- to nations hostile to the United States, said Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary.”
The CNN article continued:
“But when pressed on whether the administration had any ‘hard evidence’ that countries are using Cuban biotechnology to develop biological weapons, Fleischer said, ‘Nobody in the government said hard evidence. We said we have concerns.’ ”
In other words, the allegation was completely baseless.
Bolton also played a key role in the construction of the spurious WMD allegations against
Not an atomic beggar
A common media interpretation of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) government’s strategy is that it is using the threat that it will acquire the ability to produce nuclear weapons in order to blackmail other countries into providing it with economic aid. For instance, a background article on the BBC News website comes close to conjuring an image of
's diplomatic bluster is inextricably linked to its need to keep what remains of its economy propped up by donations.” Pyongyang
The promised provision of fuel oil to
This shift to nuclear energy made perfect economic sense.
Of course, an interesting by-product of graphite-moderated nuclear power generation is plutonium which can be refined for military use. And, given the loss of the
In 1994, the
“Both sides will cooperate to replace the DPRK’s graphite-moderated
reactors and related facilities with light-water reactor (LWR) power
, representing the consortium, will make arrangements to US
offset the energy foregone due to the freeze of the DPRK’s graphite-
moderated reactors and related facilities, pending completion of the first LWR unit.
“Alternative energy will be provided in the form of heavy oil for heating and electricity production.”
The envisaged LWR plants could not be used to produce material for nuclear weapons.
On paper, the Framework should have met the stated aims of both sides, including ending the economic sanctions which had been used against
“The two sides will move toward full normalization of political and
“Within three months of the date of this Document, both sides will reduce
barriers to trade and investment, including restrictions on telecommunications services and financial transactions.”
And in exchange for staying within the Non-Proliferation Treaty and allowing inspections, the North Koreans would get a written guarantee that the
will provide formal assurances to the DPRK, against the threat or US
use of nuclear weapons by the
High hopes and bad faith
As a report in the New York Times in October 2006 revealed, the
In October 2002, claiming that North Korea was producing highly enriched uranium (HEU) for atomic weapons, the Bush administration arranged with its Consortium partners, Japan and South Korea, to suspend the heavy fuel oil consignments- the only thing that the DPRK had actually gained from the Agreed Framework.
“The belief that the North Korean economy was collapsing helped shape White House thinking in 1994 when it promised to deliver light-water reactors to North Korea by 2003 in exchange for Pyongyang [signing back onto the non-proliferation treaty]… Senior Clinton administration officials said privately at the time that they did not expect Mr. Kim’s government to be in power by the time the
had to make good on its pledge.” United States
No evidence has ever been produced for the HEU allegation, and it is notable that US experts agree that the device which
The DPRK’s countermove was to terminate its own commitments under the Agreed Framework. By January 2003, it had withdrawn from the NPT, expelled the IAEA inspectors and re-started the reactor at Yongbyon.
Construction work at Yongbyon
In these on-off negotiations, Kim Jong Il, although merely a ‘dear leader’ (unlike his father Kim Il Sung who was revered as North Korea’s ‘great leader’) showed some talent in asymmetric diplomatic warfare. The
At the September 2005 round of the Six-Party Talks, the
In September 2005 the USA, alleging that the DPRK is the manufacturer of the ‘supernotes’, the almost perfect fake $50 and $100 bills which have been in global circulation since 1989, took action under the US Patriot Act against the Banco Delta Asia based in Macao, forcing the Macao government to freeze the accounts of this bank which was used by companies involved in trade with, and inward investment in, the North Korean economy. This was followed by a successful global campaign to intimidate banks from having any dealings with the DPRK. It soon became extremely difficult to arrange finance for any international transactions involving
Despite requests by Russia and by companies adversely affected, the US Government has cited security reasons for refraining to produce any evidence that the ‘supernotes’ are North Korean products. On 6th January 2007, a German newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, published a report which suggested that the ‘supernotes’, which are made using US-made cotton and special US-made inks, and which require very expensive high-tech specialised machinery to produce, may be manufactured by the CIA to finance officially unapproved covert operations.
Then in November 2005, the
Trading with the enemy
“The DPRK and the
will start bilateral talks aimed at resolving bilateral issues and moving toward full diplomatic relations. 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 with the DPRK.” US
The relaxation of financial and trade sanctions and the resumption of supply of fuel oil are likely to be of huge benefit in allowing the country to develop economically. It is likely that Washington will procrastinate and backtrack over normalisation of economic and diplomatic relations with Pyongyang; but a signal has been given that countries and companies can legitimately engage with North Korea, which has for many years been starved of investment.
Within hours of the success of the talks, the business journal Forbes reported the announcement that a “joint venture assembly plant in
“Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd, the Chinese partner of BMW AG, said it has signed an agreement with
South Korea's Pyeonghwa Motors Corp (PMC) to assemble its Jinbei Haice mini-buses in … North Korea
“ ‘If the Haice project is successful, the two partners (Brilliance China and PMC) are very likely to consider further cooperation on the production of Brilliance China's other brands of vehicles in North Korea,’ said the statement.”
And although the DPRK itself has been careful to refrain from boasting of a tactical victory over the
Which is surely bad reporting. After all, to face down the most powerful country on earth, you have to be at least a little bit crazy.
Dancing in the streets, Pyongyang. (Picture by Peter Deegan)