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5/10/03 - NORTH KOREA’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS - 2003-05-12

North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is a violation of its commitments under a 1994 accord known as the Agreed Framework, as well as its commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, its International Atomic Energy Agency Safeguards Agreement, and the North-South Korean Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The Agreed Framework froze North Korea's plutonium production facilities, and committed North Korea to dismantle its plutonium production program, to come into compliance with its I-A-E-A Safeguards Agreement, and to turn over its stocks of spent fuel and separated plutonium. In return, the U.S. agreed to organize an international consortium to construct two light-water nuclear reactors in North Korea to be used for peaceful purposes and, until the first reactor came on line, to deliver five-hundred-thousand metric tons of heavy fuel oil annually to replace the energy forgone by the frozen plutonium facilities.

But, as White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, North Korea has broken its promise concerning nuclear weapons:

“North Korea entered into an agreement and then did not keep up their terms of the agreement. They received aid in return to [for] promising not to develop nuclear weapons. They took the aid, they ran with the aid, and then they developed a nuclear program anyway.”

A North Korea armed with nuclear weapons poses a grave threat to Asia and the world. But neither the U.S. nor its allies will be blackmailed. As Mr. Fleischer said, “North Korea will not be rewarded for developing nuclear weapons”:

“What we seek is North Korea’s irrevocable and verifiable dismantlement of its nuclear weapons program, and we will not provide them with inducements for doing what they always said they were going to do anyway."

North Korea’s only choice is to abandon its nuclear weapons program.