Will North Korea Attack Japan 1

Department of History and Cultural Studies

The origins of the North Korean nuclear program go back to the 1950s and are commonly traced back to the signing of early cooperation agreements with the former Soviet Union (see e.g. Mansourov 2004, Kim Jae-mok 1). This was followed in 1959 by a contract on the peaceful use of nuclear energy and the first concrete personal and material support (cf. Kim Jae-mok 1995: 14; Oberdorfer 1997: 2). When the construction work on a 5MW reactor in the Yŏngbyŏn plant became known in the early 1970s, international and, in particular, US concerns about the North Korean motives became more and more obvious. Under pressure from the Soviet Union, North Korea joined the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1974, signed a partial “Nuclear Safety Management Treaty” and allowed regular inspections (Kim Jae-mok 1995: 14). In 1985, North Korea finally acceded to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT), whereby the signing of the Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA for the monitoring of nuclear material, which is mandatory under Article 3 (within 18 months), was not achieved until January 1992. Previously, North Korea had repeatedly tied the signing to the withdrawal of all US nuclear weapons from South Korea and to the guarantee that no country - especially not the US - may attack or threaten North Korea with nuclear weapons, after the withdrawal of the US nuclear weapons and unprecedented bilateral agreements Dialogue initiatives with Seoul and Washington, North Korea signed the Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA in early 1992, which formed the basis for the six rounds of inspections in North Korea between 1992 and 1993, and the "Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula" with South Korea.

The first nuclear crisis and the Carter Initiative

After the IAEA discovered irregularities between the inspection results obtained and the initial report previously submitted to the authorities, the dispute with the North Korean regime intensified (cf. Oberdorfer 1997: 269; Reiss 1995: 241-243). The IAEA requested access to and the taking of samples from two facilities not declared by North Korea, which were suspected of being reprocessing facilities for waste containing nuclear fuel. The latter demand in particular was vehemently rejected by the North Korean side, however, with reference to the military character of the institutions and their own autonomy and sovereignty. On March 12, 1993, North Korea announced its withdrawal from the non-proliferation treaty amid increasing tensions with the United States. North Korea suspended its exit from the NPT after renewed bilateral negotiations with the US, but the North Korean refusal to grant the IAEA full access to the suspicious facilities and to investigate the (1989) removed fuel rods further escalated the conflict. The renewed failure of talks between North Korea and the USA and the IAEA, North Korea's threatened withdrawal from the IAEA and P'yŏngyang's decision to shut down the 5MW reactor in the Yŏngbyŏn plant and remove fuel rods led the Korean peninsula to the edge in 1994 of a war. At the height of the conflict in June 1994, the Clinton administration was considering a pre-emptive strike against the nuclear facilities in Yŏngbyŏn in order to prevent the reprocessing of plutonium by military means (cf. Harnisch and Wagener 2010: 135). This was ultimately only averted by a "private initiative" by former US President Jimmy Carter in P’yŏngyang. In the meeting with Carter, Kim Il Sung [Kim Il Sŏng] offered to freeze the nuclear program in exchange for a number of specific assurances from the United States, in particular a protest against a nuclear attack and the delivery of two light water reactors. Despite the sudden death of Kim Il Sung in June 1994, the subsequent negotiations between North Korea and the USA in October 1994 led to the signing of the so-called Geneva Framework Agreement (Agreed Framework), which subsequently functioned together with the newly established Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) as a quasi-institutional framework to defuse the first nuclear crisis (cf. Harnisch and Maull 2000). With the agreement, North Korea declared itself inter alia. ready to freeze its previous nuclear activities, dismantle the existing nuclear facilities and have this process monitored by the IAEA. In return, the USA undertook not to launch a nuclear attack, for example, to deliver two modern, but largely proliferation-resistant light water reactions to P’yŏngyang, which was to receive corresponding compensatory deliveries of heavy oil until its planned completion in 2003. After initial progress, however, the financing of heavy oil deliveries in particular turned out to be increasingly difficult - not least due to the fact that these have repeatedly been the plaything of domestic political disputes in Washington. To make matters politically more difficult, P’yŏngyang continued to test and export delivery systems for nuclear weapons. In 1999, the Republican-led Congress secured the appointment of Special Envoy William J. Perry to formally revise American North Korea policy. Perry recommended, among other things, the opening of negotiations to end North Korea's launch system activities, which ultimately led to renewed bilateral talks and a visit by Foreign Minister Madeleine Albright to P’yŏngyang in October 2000.

The second nuclear crisis and the six-party talks

Despite the initially different rhetoric, after the inauguration of the government under the newly elected US President George W. Bush in January 2001, there were quick signs of a departure from Clinton's (bilateral) engagement policy towards North Korea (Kindermann 2005: 353). The continuation of the bilateral normalization process and the continued participation of the USA in the KEDO process were made dependent on the IAEA accessing the suspicious locations and on further disarmament measures for delivery systems and conventional weapons. Especially after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the attitude of the Bush administration hardened, which established a "foreign diplomacy of active proliferation prevention" as the first step in dealing with the "threat policy of rogue states" - and in the course of this the fight against the international one Terrorism moved to the center of their foreign policy agenda. By branding North Korea as a developer of weapons of mass destruction and a sponsor of international terrorism, P’yŏngyang was directly involved in this foreign policy problem. After the US announced its intention in October 2001 not to resume negotiations with North Korea regarding its missile program ("no negotiations - no dialogue"), P'yŏngyang responded on October 27, 2001 with a statement from the State Department in which the US was declared accused of “freezing the American-North Korean dialogue” and found a stark contrast to the Clinton era, when there was an intense dialogue between the two countries (The People's Korea, October 27, 2001). The rhetoric was finally exacerbated by George W. Bush's address on the State of the Union in January 2002, in which the latter announced that the fight against international terrorism would also be carried out preventively if necessary, and North Korea (along with Iran and Iraq) in the much quoted "Axis of Evil" included, whose "pursuit of weapons of mass destruction" must be actively fought. P’yŏngyang accused Washington of wanting to crush North Korea with power politics and making it the target of military offensives (cf. for example collective of authors of the Institute for the Reunification of the Fatherland 2004: 32). Against this background, North Korea has no choice but to “arm itself with powerful offensive and defensive weapons” (cf. The People’s Korea, February 9, 2002).

A sharp escalation in bilateral relations between Washington and P’yŏngyang arose in October 2002 during a visit to North Korea by US negotiator James Kelly. According to the US account, North Korea - confronted with concrete evidence - admitted the existence of a secret program for the (uranium-based) production of nuclear weapons after an initial denial. North Korea firmly rejected this representation and reacted to the suspension of the heavy oil deliveries by the KEDO, which the USA had obtained, with the expulsion of the IAEA inspectors, the announcement of the withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in January 2003 and, from February, the reactivation of the 5MW reactor in Yŏngbyŏn . North Korean officials said the IAEA and US demands for the swift and verifiable abandonment of the nuclear program were an expression of a policy aimed at suppressing North Korea. The solution to the crisis requires a bilateral dialogue between North Korea and the USA "on an equal footing", at the end of which there must be a non-aggression pact (The People’s Korea, January 19, 2003). Washington strictly rejected such a bilateral solution mechanism and instead advocated the establishment of a multilateral forum with the involvement of key regional powers.

Under the impression of the dramatic escalation of relations between the USA and North Korea, China intervened in the conflict and tried, in the role of a proactive mediator, to bridge the widely divergent positions by means of "pendulum diplomacy" and thus a military one by initiating a diplomatic process Preventing conflict on the Korean peninsula (Kim Samuel S. 2006). After a failed round of negotiations between the USA, North Korea and China in April 2003, Beijing succeeded - not least due to a combination of warnings and assurances - in July 2003 in getting North Korea to agree to a proposal coordinated with the USA and South Korea, according to which the trilateral Initiative by including Russia, Japan and South Korea to the so-called six-party talks should be expanded.

The first round of negotiations in the six-party talks, which began in Beijing in August 2003, once again revealed the widely divergent positions of the participants, particularly those of the USA and North Korea. North Korea's four-stage package proposal aimed at one tit-for-tatSolution, in the course of which the DPRK and the USA were to provide a series of specific services and consideration step by step and according to a set schedule, whereby the demands for a bilateral negotiated solution with the USA remained the core of the North Korean position.2 P'yŏngyang therefore preferred a package solution based on simultaneous actions, according to which the abandonment of the nuclear program and the return of international observers would only be possible if the USA agreed to sign a non-aggression pact in return, provide economic aid and close relations Normalize North Korea permanently. The American side, which rejected such a package solution, affirmed, on the one hand, that the conflict is not being resolved through bilateral negotiations with the DPRK and that, on the other hand, the demonstrable and irreversible abandonment of the nuclear program at the beginning of any political process.

A first breakthrough in the negotiations was ultimately only achieved during the fourth round of negotiations with the adoption of the "Joint Statement" on September 19, 2005, which indicated a concrete way to a negotiated solution to the North Korean nuclear issue.3 However, the associated hope of a breakthrough to resolve the nuclear issue was disappointed again immediately after the adoption. The reason for this was, on the one hand, the vague wording of the agreement (among other things with regard to the order and the time frame in which the resolutions were to be implemented), which ultimately led to completely different interpretations by the USA and North Korea. On the other hand, in September 2005 the USA set the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia (BDA) under Section 311 of the “Patriot Act” as a financial institution under strong suspicion of money laundering and froze around 50 North Korean accounts (Kwak Tae-Hwan and Joo Seung-Hoo , 2007; Gaylord 2008). North Korea, which vehemently rejected the American accusations, made further participation in the six-party talks directly dependent on the lifting of the financial sanctions and switched (again) to a foreign policy that maximized autonomy (Ballbach 2013). The North Korean regime launched several short- and long-range missiles on July 5, 2006, and carried out the first nuclear test on October 9. These measures, condemned as provocative by the international community, led not least to the UN Security Council Resolutions 1695 and 1718 (also supported by China), in which, among other things, additional financial and economic sanctions were decided, as well as to the further tightening of existing bilateral sanctions against North Korea, for example through the USA and Japan.

According to the South Korean North Korea expert Paik Haksoon (2007: 261), the nuclear test marked a debacle for the efforts of the USA and the international community to prevent North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons. Nonetheless, the event also acted as a catalyst for renewed diplomatic interactions between the parties. In the course of diplomatic consultations with China, North Korea declared its willingness in principle to resume the six-party talks if the USA showed a serious willingness to relax the financial sanctions. Against this background, the bilateral consultations between Christopher Hill and Kim Kye-Gwan in January 2007 in Berlin marked promising progress. As diplomatic sources later reported, the two negotiators agreed not only on the general resumption of the six-party talks, but also on the basic cornerstones and a concrete roadmap for the implementation of the agreement, which ended a little later as the "February 13 Agreement" at the third meeting of the fifth round of negotiations. After initial progress had also been made in January 2007 on the Banco Delta Asia question, North Korea promised in the February agreement that it would close the main nuclear facilities of the Yŏngbyŏn plant under international supervision within 60 days. In return, P’yŏngyang was to receive extensive aid supplies and 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil. In addition, the USA and Japan undertook to enter into a bilateral dialogue to normalize relations with the People's Republic (cf. for example Chae Kyu-Chul 2007; Ballbach 2008).

In July 2007, North Korea promised to hand over a full statement on "all nuclear facilities, materials and programs" to the US and to disable it by the end of 2007. North Korea invited a team of experts from the USA, China and Russia to visit the Yŏngbyŏn plant to discuss specific steps to shut it down. In November 2007, P’yŏngyang began to render the central facilities of the Yŏngbyŏn facility unusable and in May 2008 handed over an approx. 18,000-page package of documents containing information on its own nuclear program to the USA. In June 2008 the media-effective demolition of a cooling tower in the Yŏngbyŏn plant followed. In October 2008, the United States removed North Korea from the list of countries supporting terrorism. While the February agreement of 2007 in particular led to substantial progress on the path to denuclearization of North Korea, a number of key questions nevertheless remained unanswered. For example, there were different views on the establishment of a verification mechanism, which caused the process to stall again from the end of 2008. Since then, further missile tests and the second and third nuclear tests in North Korea in May 2009 and February 2013 not only led to tougher sanctions against P‘yŏngyang, but also contributed to another standstill in the negotiations on the nuclear program. In the revised constitution of 2012, the country described itself as a nuclear state for the first time and thus seems (for the time being) to have dispelled all doubts about its own pursuit of nuclear weapons.