Monday, May 01, 2017

North Korea and the KEDO Attempt To Stop Its Bomb Program

This was in last week's installment of the Diplomacy Oral History project newsletter. 

Here is a link to an oral history of the first attempt to work out a nuclear deal with North Korea:

Near the middle, around the graph of KEDO (Korean Energy Development Organization) funding and the picture of the North Korean nuclear plant, is a description of the KEDO funding difficulties.  This article doesn’t mention it, but while I was in Rome, KEDO was having trouble getting funding for the fuel oil it had promised the North Koreans as a reward for them if they would not work on their bomb project while KEDO worked on building a nuclear power reactor in North Korea that would not produce bomb-usable plutonium.  As the article says, the US Congress would not approve the money for the fuel oil.  The main sticking point was the Republican congressman from Mobile, Alabama, (I forget his name) who was on the Appropriations Committee.  Since he would not approve the money, somebody from KEDO came to Rome (maybe Bosworth, I don’t remember) to ask the EU (through the Italians since they held the rotating presidency of the EU) if it would contribute $2 million to help KEDO meet its obligations.  I think the EU eventually said, “No thanks,” although they promised to think about it, and expressed European concern about a North Korean bomb.   

It really ticked me off that the North Korean deal looked like it might fail because the US refused to meet its obligations, thus giving the North Koreans an excuse to go back to building bombs.  Interestingly, Bosworth says here that the North Koreans were not too upset about the funding problems, but in Rome I didn’t know that.  In any case, the KEDO deal fell apart later.  Joel Wit, who worked for Bosworth and was more my level (we had worked together on the Missile Technology Control Regime),has said somewhere that KEDO never missed a payment.  But I think maybe he and Bosworth tend to gloss over the payment difficulties so as not to make themselves look too responsible for KEDO’s failure. 

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