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12/23/02 - NORTH KOREA’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM - 2002-12-26

The U.S. and its Asian allies, Japan and South Korea, are united in calling for a denuclearized Korean peninsula. This call has been echoed by Russia, China, and the European Union. But North Korea is now violating various commitments not to go nuclear.

North Korea has acknowledged that it is actively pursuing a highly enriched uranium program for nuclear weapons. As President George W. Bush said, “This program undermines regional and international security and the international nonproliferation regime.”

North Korea has also said it is lifting the freeze on facilities frozen under the agreed framework between the United States and North Korea, including a nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. This reactor is thought to be capable of producing about seven kilograms of plutonium annually. Furthermore, North Korea has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to remove its cameras from the Yongbyon facility.

In 1994, the U.S. and North Korea signed an agreement under which North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear program. As Secretary of State Colin Powell said, “North Korea’s decision to lift the freeze on its nuclear facilities flies in the face of international consensus that the North Korean regime must fulfill all its commitments and, in particular, dismantle its covert nuclear weapons program in a complete and verifiable manner.”

The U.S. and its allies, Japan and South Korea, agree. It is time for North Korea to stop its nuclear weapons program.

As Mr. Powell said, “The United States will not enter into dialogue in response to threats or broken commitments and we will not bargain or offer inducements for North Korea to live up to the treaties and agreements it has signed.” The U.S., said Secretary of State Powell, seeks “a peaceful resolution and will continue the closest consultation with our friends in the region.”