The question of a nuclear North Korea has roots dating back to the 1980's. Initial concerns arose in the mid-1980's, with intelligence reports proposing the potential for North Korean nuclear ambitions. Reports cite the construction of a nuclear reactor capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium . The reactor in question, located in Yongbyon, was the focus of the first North Korean nuclear crisis in 1993. The Clinton administration proceeded with diplomatic efforts, forging an agreement by 1994 that effectually ended the crisis. Under the Agreed Framework, North Korea agreed to: (1) halt operation and construction of nuclear reactors, (2) freeze reprocessing of spent fuel (from which plutonium can be derived to make nuclear weapons), and (3) allow IAEA inspectors to monitor nuclear facilities. In return, the US agreed to: (1) lead an international consortium in the construction of two proliferation-resistant light-water reactors (LWR), and (2) supply fuel oil until the first reactor is deemed operational .
The Current Crisis in Brief
The current crisis officially began in October 2002, when a visiting US delegation, led by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, confronted North Korean officials with evidence of a nuclear weapons program (using enriched uranium, as opposed to the plutonium used in its first weapons program). Pyongyang admitted to the program?s existence, stating, ?We will meet the sword with the sword. ? The US, South Korea, and Japan subsequently halted all shipment of fuel oil to North Korea, in November, on the grounds that the once covert nuclear program was in violation of the Agreed Framework. In December, North Korea announced the reactivation of its nuc...
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...?we will not attack you? if all nuclear ambitions are abandoned . The administration should also make good on its proposition to agree on a system in which ?corresponding measures? are taken on both sides to resolve the crisis. It will be imperative to develop a verifiable means of dismantling Pyongyang?s weapons program. Furthermore, the focus of future dialogues should be on the issue of nuclear dismantlement, straying from the topic as sparingly as possible.
As President Bush and other administration officials have reminded the international community, and in particular North Korea, ultimately ?all options are on the table.?
Given the current status of dialogues and continued willingness of countries in the region to proceed with diplomatic efforts, however, the option for military action is effectively taken off the table for the US for the time being.
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