US-North Korea Relations

US-North Korea - Introduction

US-North Korea Relations
North Korea and United States have a checkered past and relations were hostile. The fissures had developed
primarily during the infamous ‘Korean War’, during which the U.S. Air Force bombed and destroyed parts of
North Korea leaving,20% of its population dead. During the past few years relations have been largely defined
by North Korea’s five tests of Nuclear devices coupled with its development of delivery systems, ie, Long
Range Missiles. It’s ongoing threats to strike the United States and South Korea with nuclear weapons and
conventional forces, was a major source of disharmony in the area. During his presidency, George Bush referred to North Korea as part of “The Axis of Evil” because of the potential threat of its nuclear capabilities. As the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States of America have no formal diplomatic
relations, Sweden (European Union member state) acts as the envoy of United States in North Korea for consular matters. Since the Korean War, the United States has maintained a strong military presence in South Korea, a friendly capitalist nation. According to ‘Gallup’s annual World Affairs survey’, only 9% of Americans have a favorable view of North
Korea, while 87% of Americans have a negative view. According to a BBC World Service Poll-2014, only 4% of Americans view North Korea’s influence positively with 90% expressing a negative view, one of the most negative perceptions of North Korea in the world.

How US- North Korean Relationship got spoiled?

From January 1958 to 1991, the United States reportedly held nuclear weapons due to its diplomatic and military influence, in South Korea for possible use against North Korea, peaking in number at some 950 warheads in 1967.Reports establish that these have since been removed but it has never confirmed by any
independent 3rd party organization such as IAEA. The U.S. still maintains “the continuation of the extended deterrent offered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella”.
In January 1957 the U. S National Security Council considered the stock piling of nuclear weapons in South Korea, on President Eisenhower’s instruction. However, paragraph 13(d) of the ‘Korean Armistice Agreement’
mandated that both sides should not introduce new types of weapons into South Korea, so preventing the introduction of nuclear weapons and missiles in the area. The U.S. decided to unilaterally abrogate paragraph 13(d), breaking the Armistice Agreement, despite concerns by United Nations allies. At a June 21,1957, meeting of the Armistice Commission, U.S. informed the North Korean representatives that the US no longer
considered itself bound by paragraph 13(d) of the armistice. In January 1958 nuclear armed ‘Honest John Missile system’ and 280 mm Nuclear Cannons were deployed in South Korea. An year later, US added nuclear armed ‘Matador Cruise Missiles’ with the range to reach China and the Soviet Union, to its stockpile in South Korea. North Korea denounced the abrogation of paragraph 13(d) as an attempt to wreck the armistice agreement
and turn Korea into a U.S. atomic warfare zone. At the UN General Assembly in November 1957, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia condemned the decision of the ‘United Nations Command’ to introduce nuclear
weapons into Korea. North Korea responded militarily by digging massive underground fortifications, and forwarded deployment of its conventional forces for a possible counterattack against the United States forces stationed in South Korea. In 1963, North Korea asked the Soviet Union for help in developing nuclear weapons, but was
refused. However, instead the Soviet Union agreed to help North Korea to develop a peaceful nuclear energy program, including the training of nuclear scientists. China though, formally rejected North Korean requests for developing own nuclear weapons, covertly helped their nuclear weapon program. Incidentally North Korea joined the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapons state in 1985, and North
and South Korean talks begun in 1990 resulting in a ‘1992 Denuclearization Statement’. However, US reconnaissance photos in early 1993, led the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to demand special
inspection of the North Korea’s nuclear facilities, which prompted Kim Il Sung’s March 1993 announcement of North Korea’s withdrawal from the NPT. On May 11, 1993 UN Security Council urged North Korea to cooperate with the IAEA and to implement the 1992 North-South Denuclearization Statement. It also urged all member states to encourage North Korea to respond positively to this resolution and to facilitate a solution for
the nuclear issue. US-North Korea talks began in June 1993 but with lack of clarity and purpose in implementing an agreement, North Koreans unloaded the core of a major nuclear reactor, which could have provided enough raw material for several nuclear weapons. With tensions high, ‘Kim Il Sung’ invited former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to act as an intermediary. Carter accepted the invitation, but could only act as a private citizen
not a government representative. Carter managed to bring the two states to the negotiating table. The negotiators successfully reached the ‘U.S.-North Korea Agreed Frame work’ in October 1994.The high lights were:- North Korea agreed to freeze its existing plutonium enrichment program, to be monitored by the IAEA;
Both sides agreed to cooperate to replace North Korea’s graphite-moderated reactors with Light Water Reactor (LWR) power plants, to be financed and supplied by an international consortium (later identified as Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisation (KEDO) by a target date of 2003;
The United States and North Korea agreed to work together to store safely the spent fuel from the five megawatt reactor and dispose of it in a safe manner that does not involve reprocessing in North Korea;
The United States agreed to provide shipments of heavy fuel oil to provide energy in the mean time;The two sides agreed to move toward full normalization of political and economic relations; Both sides agreed to work together for peace and security on a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula. Both sides agreed to work together to strengthen the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.

However the Agreement was flawed:-There was no specific schedule made for reciprocal moves, and the United States was granted a very long
time to fulfill its obligations to replace the dangerous graphite-moderated reactors with LWRs. Furthermore, no organization was chosen to monitor compliance, to supervise implementation or to make mid-course
adjustments that might become necessary. Finally, other interested nations, like South Korea, China, and Japan, were not included in the negotiations.Soon after the agreement was signed, U.S. Congress control
changed to the Republican Party who did not support the agreement. Some Republican Senators were strongly against the agreement
In accordance with the terms of the Agreed Framework, North Korea decided to freeze its nuclear program and cooperate with United States and IAEA verification efforts, and in January 1995 the U.S. relaxed
economic sanctions against North Korea. However, in 1996 KEDO’s first director, ‘Stephen Bosworth’ commented “The Agreed Framework was a political orphan within two weeks after its signature”.
In January 1995, as called for in the Agreed Framework, the United States and North Korea negotiated a method to safely store the spent fuel from the five-megawatt reactor. According to this method, U.S. and North Korean operators would work together to can the spent fuel and store the canisters in the spent fuel pond.
Actual canning began in 1995. In April 2000, canning of all accessible spent fuel rods and rod fragments was declared complete.
North Korea agreed to accept the decisions of KEDO, the financier and supplier of the LWRs, with respect to provision of the reactors. International funding for the LWR replacement power plants had to be sought. Formal invitations to bid were not issued until 1998, by which time the delays were infuriating North Korea. In
May 1998, North Korea warned it would restart nuclear research if the U.S. could not install the LWR.KEDO
subsequently identified Sinpo, as the LWR project site, and a formal ground breaking was held on the site on August 21,1997.In December 1999, KEDO and South Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) signed the
contract permitting full scale construction of the LWRs, but significant spending on the LWR project did not commence until 2000. Soon the relationship between South and North Korea deteriorated and all nuclear related projects suffered
and got stalled.
Present ScenarioFollowing the April 3, 2017 American missile strike in Syria in response to Basher’s chemical weapon attack on civilians ,tensions had mounted as U.S. ‘President Trump’ weighed further military options against North Korea’s ballistic missile program. In the second week of April 2017, global media outlets erroneously
reported that the Aircraft Carrier USS Carl Vinson, had been deployed to the Sea of Japan heading towards North Korea, as a result of confusion created by a “miscommunication” between the “Pentagon and the White House.” A premature announcement on April 8 from the Navy led to a “glitch-ridden sequence of events”. On April 17 North Korea’s deputy President accused the United States of “turning the Korean peninsula into “the
world’s biggest hotspot” and the North Korean government stated “its readiness to declare war on the United States if North Korean forces were to be attacked.” In reality on April 18, the War Ship USS Carl Vinson and its escorts were 3,500 miles from Korea engaged in scheduled joint exercises with Australia in the Indian Ocean.
Meanwhile an incident further created a further spark in the US- North Korea relations. An American citizen by the name of Tony Kim, also known by the local name of ‘Kim Sang-duk’, was detained while attempting to leave North Korea through Pyongyang Airport.


Defying warnings from the US and China, North Korea has test-fired a ballistic missile on 29 April,2017. US military officials said the missile was likely a medium-range weapon and appears to have broken up within
minutes of the launch from the ‘Pukchang region north of Pyongyang’. It was a show of repeated launching failures. President Donald Trump tweeted:
“North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!”
South Korea’s Foreign Ministry went even further saying Pyongyang was ‘playing with fire’ and warned of tougher sanctions. The spokesperson went on to say that South Korea would ‘accelerate measures to improve
deterrence with the combined South Korea-US defensive posture’ in order to protect its citizens. The ‘USS Carl Vinson Aircraft Carrier G roup’ is heading towards the waters off the Korean peninsula where it will join the ‘USS Michigan’, a nuclear submarine in a show of force. World powers are mulling further sanctions on the isolated nation, but previous rounds have done too little to deter North Korea Premier ‘Kim Jong Un’s nuclear ambitions.

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