The ICAS Lectures


A Road to Peace in the Korean Peninsula

Evans J. R. Revere

ICASWinter Symposium
Humanity, Peace and Security
February 24, 2005 12:30 PM -- 5:30 PM
U.S. Senate Dirksen Building Room SD 226
Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. 20510

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Biographic Sketch & Links: Evans J. R. Revere

A Road to Peace in the Korean Peninsula

Evans J. R. Revere
Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs,
United States Department of State, Washington D.C.


  • Let me begin by thanking the Institute for Corean-American Studies for having me at your winter symposium. It has been some years since I last addressed this Forum, and I want to convey a special word of appreciation to President Synja Kim and Executive Vice President Sang Joo Kim for providing me with this opportunity.

  • It's a great pleasure to address this distinguished gathering, and I look forward to taking your questions following my brief remarks.

  • Recent developments on the Korean Peninsula make this a very timely symposium.

  • The challenges facing us as we seek to secure true peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula are significant, as we were reminded recently when Pyongyang issued an unfortunate and worrisome statement.

  • The stakes are high on the Korean Peninsula, and one has only to glance at the topics being addressed at this symposium to be reminded that, even a century ago, the Korean Peninsula was the center of major developments.

Pyongyang's Challenge and U.S. Policy

  • Turning to more contemporary matters, however, on February 10, the North Koreans issued a Foreign Ministry statement, claiming that:
    • Nuclear weapons are "for self-defense to cope with the Bush administration's ever more undisguised policy to isolate and stifle" the DPRK; and it further said that

    • "[We are] compelled to suspend our participation in the talks for an indefinite period" until the U.S. abandons its "hostile policy."

  • The U.S. has never accepted the assertion that we have a hostile policy towards the DPRK. Quite the contrary -- the senior most levels of my government have made clear what our policy approach is towards the DPRK.

  • Secretary Rice in confirmation hearing: "we've made clear to the North Korean regime that the President of the United States has said that the United States has no intention to attack North Korea, to invade North Korea, that multilateral security assurances would be available to North Korea, to which the United States would be party, if North Korea is prepared to give up its nuclear weapons program, verifiably and irreversibly."

    • I invite you to contrast that statement with the odd rhetoric that Pyongyang used to mischaracterize our policy. And for any in the DPRK who still are having trouble understanding the essence of our approach, let me summarize it in even clearer terms:

    • If the DPRK is prepared to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions, the U.S. remains ready to work in the context of the Six-Party Talks to resolve the issues between us.

  • DPRK rhetoric that it needs nuclear weapons because of an alleged "hostile policy" of this Administration therefore ignores the reality of our policy and also ignores important historic reality:

    • The DPRK set out to acquire nuclear weapons decades ago. Our estimates have long suggested a North Korean nuclear weapons capability, and previous DPRK statements have hinted that they possess nuclear weapons; thus the latest claim is a troubling, but not surprising, development.

    • I don't need to remind anyone here today that the DPRK failed to live up to its 1994 Agreed Framework obligations and violated its commitments to the ROK under the 1991-92 North-South Denuclearization Agreement. Pyongyang also began to develop a covert program of uranium enrichment, even while promising publicly that it would abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons and live up to its international obligations.

    • And now, after three rounds of Six-Party Talks designed to resolve the nuclear issue once and for all, the DPRK has refused to return to negotiations and instead has escalated its rhetoric.

June 2004 US Proposal

  • The proposal the U.S. presented at the last round of Six-Party Talks was developed in close coordination with the ROK and Japan. Under the U.S. proposal, the DPRK would, as a first step, commit to dismantle all of its nuclear programs. The parties would then reach agreement on a detailed implementation plan requiring, at a minimum, the supervised disabling, dismantlement and elimination of all nuclear-related facilities and materials; the removal of all nuclear weapons and weapons components, centrifuge and other nuclear parts, fissile material and fuel rods; and a long-term monitoring program.

  • The proposal includes a short initial preparatory period, of perhaps three months' duration, to prepare for the dismantlement and removal of the DPRK's nuclear programs. During that initial period, the DPRK would:

    • provide a complete listing of all its nuclear activities, and cease operations of all of its nuclear activities;

    • permit the securing of all fissile material and the monitoring of all fuel rods, and;

    • permit the publicly disclosed and observable disablement of all nuclear weapons/weapons components and key centrifuge parts.

  • These actions by the DPRK would be monitored subject to international verification.

  • For the DPRK's declaration to be credible and for the process to get started, the North would have to include its uranium enrichment program and existing weapons, as well as its plutonium program.

  • Under our proposal, as the DPRK carried out its commitments, the other parties would take some corresponding steps that would be provisional or temporary in nature and would only yield lasting benefits after dismantlement of the nuclear programs had been completed. Upon agreement of the overall approach, including a DPRK agreement to dismantle all nuclear programs in a permanent, thorough and transparent manner subject to effective verification, non-U.S. parties would provide heavy fuel oil to the DPRK.

  • Upon acceptance of the DPRK declaration, the parties would:

    • provide provisional multilateral security assurances, which would become more enduring as the process proceeded. (DPRK rhetoric on this issue notwithstanding, it is reasonable to conclude that security assurances given through the multilateral Six-Party process would have considerably more weight than bilateral assurances);

    • begin a study to determine the energy requirements of the DPRK and how to meet them by non-nuclear energy programs;

    • begin a discussion of steps necessary to lift remaining economic sanctions on the DPRK, and on the steps necessary for removal of the DPRK from the List of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

No Response From DPRK

  • The DPRK has never responded to our proposal, nor have the North Koreans sought to explore it through subsequent contacts since we presented it in Beijing in June.

Diplomatic Efforts Ongoing

  • Despite the North's intransigence, diplomatic contacts among the six parties are continuing as we explore ways to resolve the current impasse:

    • Ambassador Christopher Hill was recently appointed as Head of Delegation to the Six-Party Talks. This step reaffirms in a clear and demonstrable way the U.S. commitment to the Talks.

    • Chinese Envoy Wang Jiarui visited Pyongyang earlier this week and reportedly conveyed an oral message from President Hu to Kim Jong-il encouraging him to return to the Talks.

    • I should remind you that U.S. negotiators met twice with the North Koreans in New York late last year, describing our policy approach, emphasizing our commitment to resolving this issue, and reiterating that we were ready to resume talks without preconditions.

    • All five parties have sent a common message to the DPRK that the Six-Party process provides the best mechanism for peaceful resolution of the current problem, and for assistance with DPRK integration with its region and the international community.

DPRK Isolating Itself

  • Our diplomacy, and that of others, has sought to drive home the message to Pyongyang that its brinksmanship and threats only lead to its further isolation in the international community.

  • Statements from other parties have also encouraged the DPRK to return to talks and abandon its nuclear ambitions.

Six-Party Talks Can End DPRK Isolation

  • Our individual and collective diplomacy has emphasized that the Six-Party Talks provide a path towards a real solution to the nuclear issue on the Peninsula.

  • As Secretary Rice said recently in Europe: "The world has given North Korea a way out, and we hope they will take that way out."

  • DPRK must return to the Talks if it wishes to demonstrate its declared intent for a relationship based on cooperation, not conflict, and a relationship based on its membership in the international community.

  • Multilateral diplomacy is the most effective approach to the DPRK's nuclear problem, as the problem threatens the international community. This multilateral approach is also the best way of marshalling the resources and the collective wisdom of the parties in a way that makes a permanent solution possible.

  • If the DPRK moves to dismantle its nuclear programs, multilateral efforts can provide opportunities for better lives for the North Korean people.

  • Resolving the nuclear issue opens the door to improved relations with the U.S. But obviously there are other concerns that must be tackled as part of any such process: missile development and deployment; abductions and past support for terrorism; human right violations and abuse of refugees; and ongoing illicit activities.

A Unity of Views

  • Other than the DPRK, all of the other parties in the Six-Party Talks have reaffirmed their unqualified commitment to this important multilateral process. Each one of the five parties has an important stake in the success of this effort.

  • For our Japanese ally, PM Koizumi has consistently expressed his determination to continue Japan's efforts to resolve nuclear and ballistic missile concerns and to normalize Japan-North Korea relations, as well as to resolve outstanding questions about the abduction of Japanese nationals.

    • As the world's second largest economy, Japan would be positioned to contribute substantially to assistance programs and regional cooperation.

  • China and Russia have repeatedly made clear they share the goal of a denuclearized Korean peninsula. China has used its unique relationship and special access to reinforce the message that the Six-Party Talks are the best vehicle for resolving the nuclear issue.

  • Our allies in South Korea recognize that a Korean Peninsula without nuclear weapons is critical to maintaining regional security and advancing prosperity and cooperation throughout East Asia; resolving this concern should be the basis for, not an obstacle to, improved North -- South relations.

North Korea's Choice

  • Faced with the views of its Six-Party partners, North Korea needs to understand that it has a choice.

  • North Korea needs to understand that it is increasingly seen as an isolated, out-of-step country that is a threat to regional stability, peace and prosperity in a region where the trend has been in the opposite direction, i.e. towards greater democracy, economic growth and regional cooperation.

    • Democracy is strengthening through the Asia-Pacific region. In the past year, successful elections have taken place in old democracies such as Japan and Australia, new ones in Mongolia and Indonesia, and developing ones, such as Hong Kong.

    • Amid growing prosperity, the region is moving toward greater economic openness, lower trade barriers, and regional cooperation and integration.
    • The Asia-Pacific region now accounts for over 25 percent of world production, and about 23 percent of world trade.

    • Income levels have doubled and redoubled almost everywhere in East Asia. East Asians increasingly look beyond their borders for markets, investment capital, higher education, and ideas.

  • New security initiatives and frameworks through organizations like the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) have accelerated regional cooperation on issues such as maritime security and emergency preparedness.

  • The region recently demonstrated its capacity to work together in its collective response to the tsunami disaster.

The Way Forward

  • North Korea's nuclear threat and self-generated isolation are clearly at odds with the region's overall trajectory toward cooperation and integration. The Six-Party Talks provide a path back to the international community.

  • It is within North Korea's power to achieve both integration into this dynamic region and a wholly transformed relationship with the US.

  • Today, I was asked to describe "A Road to Peace in the Korean Peninsula." I would like to think that I have done just that.

  • That road leads through the Six-Party Talks to a future in which the threat of nuclear weapons is gone forever from the Korean Peninsula and in which the people of the DPRK are finally able to reap the benefits of a normal relationship with the region and the world.

  • The path that the DPRK's leadership needs to take is clear. I hope that they will have the wisdom to do so.

  • Thank you.

This page last updated 2/25/2005 jdb

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