North Korea and Nuclear Weapons
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North Korea Withdraws From the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, January 2003
In October 2002, North Korea announced it was restarting its nuclear programs, breaking a 1994 agreement to forego nuclear ambitions in exchange for the construction of two safer lightwater nuclear power reactors and shipments of oil from the U.S.
- The Washington D.C.-based Center for Defense Information (CDI) noted that the U.S. had failed to abide by its obligations to North Korea in a previous agreement1.
Pyongyang is justifying this move,CDI said,
with the fact that the US stopped supplying the country with fuel for thermal power plants as it was obligated to do under a previous agreement between these two countries.
- The BBC reported (January 10, 20032), North Korea felt that
the US has not kept to its side of the Agreed Framework, as the construction of the lightwater reactors—due to be completed in 2003—is now years behind schedule.
- The U.S. stopped shipments of oil to North Korea.
- North Korea started to ask the U.N’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to begin to stop its operations. Eventually inspectors from the monitoring group from the IAEA were expelled, while North Korea maintained that it was only developing civilian uses of nuclear technology.
- However, some experts fear that this will allow the development of nuclear weapons.
Amidst all these revelations, in January 2003 North Korea announced that its withdrawal from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT)3.
North Korea also threatened to resume ballistic missile tests, because of the failure in the agreements between the U.S. and North Korea4.
While all of this had been received with a mixture of concern, shock and anger, some have pointed out that perhaps it should not be so surprising. For example, as highlighted above, and elsewhere on this web site, for many years, controversial and aggressive policies of more powerful states may be perceived by smaller ones as threatening, and may urge them to consider various military options themselves, risking an arms race and regional insecurity.
Annotating George Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Speech, and his comments on Iraq, the Institute for Public Accuracy highlights a number of questionable assertions that highlight a very different view of North Korea’s agenda (the annotations are indented and preceded by the analysts name):
Daniel Plesch, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies in London comments on how U.S. President George Bush and his Administration’s aggressive policies in the recent past have not provided reason for nations like North Korea to think about more peaceful options, and is worth quoting at length:
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- 'Russia set to help relieve tensions around North Korea', CDI Russia Weekly #237, Center for Defense Information, December 26, 2002, http://www.cdi.org/russia/237-5.cfm
- 'Timeline: North Korea nuclear crisis', BBC, January 10, 2003, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/2604437.stm
- 'Alarm as North Korea raises nuclear stakes', BBC, January 10, 2003, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/2645729.stm
- 'N Korea threat to resume missile tests', BBC, January 11, 2003, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/2648337.stm
- 'US confirms N Korea nuclear test', BBC, October 16, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6056370.stm
- 'China urges UN action on N Korea', October 10, 2006, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6036129.stm
- Tim Shorrock, 'North Korea tests an A-bomb: Now what?', October 9, 2006, http://timshorrock.com/?p=105
- Jim Lobe, 'No War, No Talks, More Pressure', Inter Press Service, October 9, 2006, http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=35049
- Jim Lobe, 'U.S. Neo-Cons Call For Japanese Nukes, Regime Change', Inter Press Service, October 11, 2006, http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=35065
- Shen Dingli, 'PRC [People’s Republic of China] Scholar Analyzes Implications of a DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] Nuclear Test', The Nautilus, October 3, 2006, http://www.nautilus.org/fora/security/0681Shen.html
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