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
- "[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
- 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
- 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
- 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,
- 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
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
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
- 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