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1/4/03 - NORTH KOREA’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM - 2003-01-06

North Korea’s recent moves to restart its nuclear weapons program pose a serious concern. The North Korean regime has acknowledged its pursuit of a program to produce enriched uranium, a key ingredient in the production of nuclear weapons. Monitoring devices at nuclear facilities that were frozen under the 1994 Agreed Framework have now been removed and United Nations weapons inspectors have been expelled.

North Korea has blamed the United States for the collapse of the 1994 accord under which North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear program in return for energy supplies. North Korea said that it wants negotiations and a non-aggression pact with the U.S. But as Secretary of State Colin Powell said, the United States will not negotiate in response to threats or broken commitments. Doing so would only reward the North Korean regime for violating international agreements.

North Korea’s actions are “foolhardy,” according to Secretary of State Powell. “It is a country that is in deep distress,” he said. “Its economy is not working. It can’t feed its people. And they are investing in the wrong kind of things.”

North Korea is already paying a price for restarting its nuclear weapons program. U.S. friends and allies have joined in the pressure on North Korea. The Japanese had been moving toward normalization with North Korea, including economic assistance. Now the plan is on hold. South Korea has spoken out strongly about North Korea's behavior. And the European Union has said that this is a problem between North Korea and the whole world, not just North Korea and the United States.

“North Korea has created a problem for itself and is in the process of isolating itself,” said Mr. Powell.

Despite the hostile actions of the North Korean government, the U.S. remains the biggest food provider to the people of North Korea. “We have no ill intent toward North Korea,” said Secretary of State Powell. “But we are deeply concerned about some of the actions they have taken over the years to proliferate weapons of mass destruction.”