Friday, February 11, 2005

North Korea advertises its nuclear weapons arsenal : comments from the ICG

North Korea says it has manufactured nuclear weapons for
its self-defence and is suspending participation in
six-way talks on its atomic arms programme for an
"indefinite period". Here is the comment of a well known
expert : Timothy L. Savage, of the International Crisis
Group based in Seoul. Tim commented this announcement for
my blog and news media Corp.

Quotes :

"Well, everyone’s known for awhile that they’ve had the
capacity to build nuclear weapons. Saying that they have
it amps up the tension a bit, but doesn’t “prove�
anything; only an actual nuclear test would do that. So
it sounds like they’re just trying to strengthen their
position and take away any thoughts the Bush
administration might be harboring of a pre-emptive

The ICG published a very interesting report in november
2004 in Seoul and Brussels that Tim introduced to a
panel of Japan Korea US watchers (academics,
journalists, diplomats, defense officers, analysts)
based in Tokyo, panel held by CFR fellow Robert

Asia report no: 87 "North Korea : Where next for the
nuclear talks?"

Timothy L. Savage, Senior Analyst
ICG - International Crisis Group, Northeast Asia Office
King's Garden #3 Officetel, Suite 802
Naesu-dong 72, Chongro-gu
Seoul, 110-040 Republic of Korea
P: 82-2-730-2914
F: 82-2-730-2915
C: 82-17-212-1253

Press quotes on the issue :

"North Korea yesterday declared it had manufactured
nuclear weapons and announced it was withdrawing from
multilateral negotiations on its disarmament.

The statement is Pyongyang's first public claim to have
crossed the nuclear threshold, and its most brazen
challenge to the US.

"We had already taken the resolute action of pulling out
of the NPT [nuclear non-proliferation treaty] and have
manufactured nukes for self- defence to cope with the
Bush administration's ever-more undisguised policy to
isolate and stifle [North Korea]," North Korea's foreign
ministry said in a statement published by the official
Korean Central News Agency.

Pyongyang told the US it possessed nuclear weapons in
Beijing in April 2003 when the two sides resumed
contacts. According to senior US officials, Li Gun, the
foreign ministry negotiator for North Korea, threatened
at the time that North Korea would test and export
nuclear weapons.

Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, cast doubt on
the latest claim, saying that while US intelligence
reports have estimated Pyongyang could create nuclear
weapons, he has not seen proof that they possess such
arms. "One has to be concerned about it form a
proliferation standpoint, if you believe them," he said
at a meeting of Nato defence ministers in Nice. "They've
indicated other things from time to time that haven't
proved out."

Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, said: "This is
an unfortunate move . . . because it deepens North
Korea's isolation from the international community." Her
remarks were echoed by Junichiro Koizumi, the Japanese
prime minister, and Kofi Annan, the United Nations

The North Korean statement comes just weeks after the
country described the US as "a friend", and amid
optimism of a resumption of the stalled six-party talks
with China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the US. .

"This is really serious. North Korea is now stepping
over the red line," said Kim Tae-woo, a nuclear expert
at the Korean Institute for Defence Analysis in Seoul.

But some analysts pointed out that North Korea, with its
fondness for belligerent outbursts, had a history of
strengthening its threats just before agreeing to talks,
a tactic aimed at increasing its bargaining power.

Pyongyang said it was pulling out of the six-party talks
until "there is justification for us to attend". But the
statement also said: "The DPRK's principled stand to
solve the issue through dialogue and negotiations and
its ultimate goal to denuclearise the Korean peninsular
remain unchanged."

North Korea's declaration poses a potentially serious
challenge to China's efforts to avoid further escalation
of the crisis surrounding the impoverished Stalinist
state on its north-eastern border.

Beijing played a leading role in setting up the six-way
talks and in persuading Pyongyang to take part, seeing
the multilateral forum as a way of reducing the
potential for US military action against North Korea." (FT)

Quotes :

"Accusing the United States of seeking to topple its
political system and threatening it with a nuclear
stick, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)
said on Thursday it is suspending its participation in
the six-party talks on the nuclear issue for an
"indefinite period".

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs carried
by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said "
We have wanted the six-party talks but we are compelled
to suspend our participation in the talks for an
indefinite period."

The DPRK said it would not resume its participation in
the six-party talks until it has recognized that there
is justification for it to attend the talks and there
are ample conditions and atmosphere to expect positive
results from the talks.

"The present deadlock of the six-party talks is
attributable tothe U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK,"
the statement said.

There is no justification for the DPRK to participate in
the six-party talks again given that the Bush
administration termed the DPRK, a dialogue partner, an
"outpost of tyranny", it said.

US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice branded last month
the DPRK, along with some other countries, as an
"outpost tyranny" that needed to be liberated.

"The U.S. disclosed its attempt to topple the political
system in the DPRK at any cost, threatening it with a
nuclear stick. This compels us to take a measure to
bolster its unclear weapons arsenal in order to protect
the ideology, system, freedom and democracy chosen by
its people," said the statement.

"We had already taken the resolute action of pulling out
of theNPT and have manufactured nukes for self-defense
to cope with the Bush administration's undisguised
policy to isolate and stifle theDPRK," it said.

"The DPRK's principled stand to solve the issue through
dialogue and negotiations and its ultimate goal to
denuclearize the Korean Peninsula remain unchanged," the
statement added. Three rounds of six-party talks,
participated by representatives from the DPRK, the
United States, China, South Korea, Russia and Japan,
have taken place in Beijing since August 2003.

Although some practical progress has been made,
especially during the third round talks held last June,
which was praised by all the parties as "constructive",
no breakthrough emerged on substantial issues."

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