The ICAS Lectures


The Status of North Korea’s Nuclear Issues

Robert L. Gallucci

ICAS Spring Symposium
Humanity, Peace and Security
May 22, 2006 9:00 AM -- 6:30 PM
United States Senate Russell Office Building Caucus Room SR 325
Capitol Hill, Washington D.C. 20510
Institute for Corean-American Studies, Inc.

965 Clover Court, Blue Bell, PA 19422


Biographic Sketch & Links: Robert L. Gallucci

[Note: this transcript is an unedited verbatim of Robert Gallucci's remarks. ]

The Status of North Korea’s Nuclear Issues

Robert L. Gallucci
Georgetown University

Thank you so much. You know, when I thought about talking to you today with this assignment, a status report on the US-North Korean relations, this is actually not a hard topic for me when I have a general audience. When I have an audience of experts on this who have followed this issue for more than a decade, two decades, and read everything there is written about it, it's a question I would ask you – or that I ask myself: What is it today that I can tell you that you don't know? What interesting things do I have to say? And as I was thinking of this, what I would say to you, it reminded me of a story about how they tell jokes in prison. Have you ever heard that?

Everybody's in prison. They're there for all these years. They know all the jokes just like you and me. So they actually don't tell a joke. All the jokes have numbers. And one inmate would say, "46." And everybody laughs. Another inmate will say, "23." Everybody laughs. And then the new guy comes in and says, "19." Nobody laughs. And someone says, "It's all in how you tell it!"

There is no need for me to review the history here, I assume. If we were right, those of us who wrote a book recently, called "First North Korean Nuclear Crisis," – and we are then now in the second – this is truly a slow motion crisis. I mean, we are really moving through this – it's been going on for years now with very, very little movement – what I would have considered movement as a diplomat, and what I would consider movement now as an academic. Not much has happened. It is like watching paint dry.

There is one issue though to go back a ways, which I think is and remains central to the story, and where we go from here, and if somebody – as we get to Q&A – would like to offer the answer to the question with an explanation, I'll make notes on it. And that is – was North Korea in 1994 truly interested in a deal where it would give up its nuclear weapons program in exchange for economic assistance, for normalization of political relations, for security assurances? Or alternatively, was North Korea in 1994 planning for all time to preserve a nuclear weapons option, indeed, even to pursue one no matter what they agreed to? In other words, was a deal possible in 1994, or in other words, did we do a genuine deal in 1994? That's relevant to the central issue of what is going on right now.

One point before we get into the Bush Administration and what we've been about that I would like to underline to you that is context – is not only all that happened up to 1994 and what happened as the agreed framework was implemented. One thing – one point I'd like to make is that the Clinton Administration concluded – at least I understand it did – that North Korea cheated on the agreed framework – that getting gas centrifuge components from Pakistan was inconsistent with the framework. The North Koreans did it. That's why they did it secretly. They cheated. And, the Clinton Administration's response to that was to plan a new negotiation, right? Their response was the Perry process, and the Perry process was, to shorthand it, to give more to get more. And the plan was, of course, after Marshall Jo Myong Rock came here, the plan was for very senior, perhaps even President Clinton, to go there to Pyongyang. So the Clinton Administration's response to the conclusion that the North Korean's were cheating on the last deal they made with them was to make another deal that would be better than the first with respect to transparency, would clean up this problem of North Korean cheating.

Okay. Just hold that thought.

Now we come in to the Bush Administration, and the factual situation the Bush Administration in 2001 confronts is one of a North Korea that we know has cheated. It is not publicly known, but the Bush Administration knows it, and it has an ideology – I'm submitting to you as my argument – that leads it to a policy posture that would say that a negotiation with North Korea – that is, what the Clinton Administration planned to do – would have two important features: it would be immoral and it would be ineffective. Those are two bad things about a policy.

So the position or the posture of the new Bush Administration is not to continue the Perry process; to insist if there are going to be talks with the North, in a way to not tarnish the Administration, to rise above the Clinton Administration's approach, and insist that the issue be multilateralized. Hence, it must be a six-party process. Now, the rationale was actually framed somewhat differently by my recollection. It was that this is really not a bilateral problem for the United States of America and our security. It was really a regional problem, and all the countries in the region ought to be part of the negotiation and the solution. Uh-huh. I really think what the administration did not wish to do was to be in a position like the Clinton Administration with what it regarded as a rogue state, engaging in something that it believed was immoral and ineffective. It insisted, in other words, that the process be multilateral, and the second thing about it is that – about the posture is that the Bush Administration insisted that the North Koreans, in a sense, in essence, make the first concessions. That's how the negotiation must begin by the North Koreans giving up something.

Now, the administration has been, and I believe still is fond of saying, "We favor solving this problem through negotiation." I have never believed that they meant that. Actually they said, "We favor solving the problem through diplomacy." But not negotiation. Most people understand a negotiation as both sides concede something. They were interested in a diplomatic resolution but without conceding anything from our side, to have the concession come from the other side – always a good deal if you can get it.

The idea here was that since the North Koreans had cheated, we should not reward the bad behavior. It would be bad to reward bad behavior for not only the immorality of it, but also because it would teach the North Koreans the wrong thing. It would teach them that it's okay to cheat. Moreover, there was a global lesson here. It would teach other countries that it was okay to cheat. And of course, everybody was thinking that the country that apparently looked to be in the most similar situation was Iran, and we wouldn't want to do something with North Korea that would set a bad precedent for how we proposed to deal with Iran.

So, diplomacy yes. Negotiation no. Talks with the North Koreans would have to begin with the North Koreans rolling back progress they had made as a result of cheating. If it didn't begin with that, if it began with where we were at the moment, it means we were accepting their cheating and beginning the negotiation there, and we wouldn't do that.

From that posture in 2001, in early 2001, and you all remember Kim Dae Jung came to the United States looking for an endorsement of the Sunshine Policy and how he got one from the Secretary of State that was pulled back almost immediately by the President of the United States, and there was a policy review that was undertaken during this period, but all that I would submit to you was cut off as a process of evolving an administration policy for North Korea by the events of the 11th of September. The attacks on the United States of that day had a profound effect on our foreign policy and I think on the psyche, the viscera of the administration – those charged with our national security – because it wasn't long after the attacks of September 11, that we were preparing for the State of the Union Address in which the President of the United States would use that phrase that has become pretty well known and describe an "axis of evil" – Iran, Iraq, and North Korea – and would refer to these three countries, and the phrase was, "They are terrorist allies."

What was going on here, I think, is that the administration having recognized that they presided over the first really catastrophic attack on the continental United States ever since 1812 – presided over this, the quintessential next step was pretty obvious and that is still in the minds of the administration and all of us who think about security, and that is a terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon. And that image I think informed the administration in how it was going to approach the axis of evil – one of the reasons North Korea was included. And the idea was North Korea's threat turns not only on the implications for Northeast Asia, for the Japanese, for ourselves, for the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, but the linkage between North Korea and terrorist groups, the linkage through fissile material. That's what that was about. If you doubted that, then just watch that space, because not too long after, the portion of the NPR leaked, and we learned but should not have been surprised to learn that our strategic targeting program, our plans included North Korea. In June we had the President's speech at West Point in which he foreshadowed the more formal national security strategy a few months later in which American Doctrine of Pre-emption is laid out and defended, and the case looks remarkably like – if you read that language – the case of North Korea. Iran, too, but at that point more like North Korea. We were announcing that there are circumstances in which, because we are so vulnerable in the world today, we cannot wait for a threat to become fully formed. We must act pre-emptively.

Now, a little asterisk here. That is an incorrect use of the word "pre-emption" by the way strategists divide things up. Pre-emption is something I do when I am expecting someone to attack me imminently. I am going to pre-empt their attack upon me. Preventive war is something I do when I can anticipate maybe years down the road you may become my enemy, and when you do, you will have achieved a situation that will make it impossible for me to deal with your threat, so I decide to engage you now in a preventive way. But at this moment you are not just about to attack me. And what the administration did was say that pre-emption needs to be re-defined. No. Pre-emption needs to be put aside and it was really a Doctrine of Preventive War, which we said was morally, ethically and legally appropriate for the United States. We didn't give that right to anybody else, but for the United States to launch.

Now, this could not have been missed in a number of places, and I would submit to you it wasn't missed in Tehran, and it wasn't missed in Pyongyang.

About the same time as our national security strategy was being so enunciated, you will recall that Assistant Secretary of State James A Kelly was in Pyongyang and was delivering the news to the North Koreans that we were aware that they were cheating, and that they had already received significant gas centrifuge components from Pakistan. And then of course, as we all know, the next day, depending upon which set of interpreters you believe, the North Koreans either said something like – and this is was Kang Seok Ju – something like, "That's correct. We are pursuing a centrifuge program and we have every right to." Or, if you believe the more North Korean oriented interpretation, or so the North Koreans have told me, they said nothing like that. They didn't admit to it at all. They just said, "Well, we would have the right to do that if we chose." But they never said that they had actually so chosen.

This is maybe important and maybe not, depending on whether you think our intelligence is incontrovertible, or whether you doubt it. If you doubt it, then an admission by North Korea would be pretty significant. If you think the intelligence is incontrovertible, then you don't really care whether the North Koreans accepted it or not.

In any event, what happened soon afterward is that first the KEDO leaders met – Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization met and decided to discontinue the heavy fuel oil deliveries, and then in a matter of some significant number of months, more months than I would have anticipated, the decision was to cease the construction of the light water reactor project. And so the agreed framework was either at that moment dead, or in deep cryogenic arrest.

Early in the new year, in 2003, there was a trilateral meeting in Beijing. It was for the American side, a multilateral meeting, and for the North Korean side, it was a bilateral meeting, suggesting some very skilled diplomacy by those in Beijing, so we all got to go to the meeting we wished to go to. Nothing particularly important happened out of that except – and I want you to remember this – some reports of that meeting have the North Koreans warning us explicitly that at some point in the future, the North Koreans might be forced to transfer nuclear material, to sell it, if they are sufficiently pressed. Please put that thought aside. That is an April 2003 threat from North Korea.

Later that year, we had the first of four rounds of the so-called six-party talks in August of 2003, then in February 2004, June 2004, and the last one in September 2005. I'm not going to go through each one of these because with my impressionistic view of these talks, I will say nothing much happened. More paint dried during those meetings.

However, in the September 2005 meeting, something significant did happen and that is that there was agreement on a statement of principles. You can read the statement of principles. Essentially, I would shorthand them by saying that the North Koreans agreed to abandon their nuclear program once again, in exchange for security assurances, economic assistance, and political normalization of relations once again. That was the deal last September. It would be the deal now, and it will be the deal if one is ever struck. That's it. That's the deal.

But it hasn't come to pass that we've had Round 5. Now, you could say that's because of the Macao Branch of Banco Delta Asia and its asserted role in narcotics and counterfeiting for the North Koreans. Or you can say it's because of U.S. action which the North Koreans regard as sanctions. But I think it's much more interesting for us to ask the question, because we know this all so well, is: What goes on? What's really happening now? Does the United States of America wish a negotiated settlement with North Korea? Now, that's a trick question. Who do we mean when we say "The United States of America"? So that we don't take a poll across the United States, let's say that I mean that question as – "Do the senior officials in the administration, the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense – are they all looking for a negotiated settlement to deal with the threat posed by the North Korean nuclear program?" That's the first question.

The second question: "Does the regime in North Korea seek a negotiated settlement right now with the United States of America that would solve the problem created by their nuclear weapons program?"

The answer to those questions for me is "No," and "No." And that's why we're watching paint dry. In other words, it is the opposite of how one would answer those questions in 1994 when we negotiated the agreed framework, when the answers to those questions was "Yes" and "Yes." So something fundamental has changed. On the U.S. side, I point my finger at the ideology of the Bush Presidency and Administration. This is not pejorative – not yet anyway – on my part. This is really for an explanation, and it seems to me that the ideology is, as I said, to view a negotiation, a real negotiation with a partner, a negotiating partner – the United States and North Korea – is immoral and ultimately ineffective for this administration. There have been battles. We know that. I'm not inside the administration and I can't see it terribly well, but like the folks in the cave in the metaphor – Plato's metaphor – you can see the shadows, you can see the reflections here. There have been battles over instructions to Kelly and then to Hill. There's been battles over talking points at many turns. So you can see that there's disagreement within the administration. But at the senior-most level, the President and the Vice President and Secretary of Defense – there's no enthusiasm for a true negotiation with the North. And we are not in a position to dictate an outcome.

As it turns out, it seems that North Korea has the same view as the United States. It's identical. For the North Koreans and for the United States, the only solution here, ladies and gentlemen, is regime change. Right? The only thing that really meets the administration's needs is a change in the North Korean regime. The only thing I think the North Koreans have concluded would work for a negotiation is a change in the American regime. Both are waiting for a change in regimes.

What is fundamentally different, though, in addition to this, is that there's been a profound change, from my perspective anyway as an observer, in the posture of the Republic of Korea. I suspect others have spoken to this over the course of the day but it's very striking to me. It was striking to me as we moved from working with the government of Kim Young Sam, and then to Kim Dae Jung, and now President Roh and the slower change, demographic change in the population in South Korea and what that means for South Korean foreign policy, particularly with its relationship to North Korea and its relationship with the United States. To go to the point at the end of the spear right away, it seems to me there is no popular enthusiasm in South Korea for addressing the threat that's posed by the use of force, or even threatening the use of force, or keeping the possibility of the use of force as we say on the table. It is off the table.

Second, there's no enthusiasm, no interest in threatening sanctions. Doing business with North Korea seems to be a good idea. Dealing with North Korea with patience seems to be a good idea. There is, in short, skepticism over the Bush Administration's approach to this problem. I think there's a question about – this is a word that I never got to use quite so much until I first started working on the North Korean problem – there's a question I think over the sincerity of the Bush Administration's approach to North Korea, and certainly there's a skepticism over the threat, the magnitude of the threat posed by North Korean nuclear weapons program to South Korea. Fundamentally, it just doesn't make any difference. It is not regarded, I do not think, as plausible that the North Koreans are going to get up one day and somehow use these nuclear weapons to change the political relationship between North and South. There is, in short therefore, no hurry from the perspective of Seoul.

In addition, if you look ahead, to what kind of deal would have to be made, while I said the structure is what it was and what it will be – give up nuclear weapons program; get political normalization; get economic assistance; and get security assurances. Well, that may be the structure, look at specifically what we have to accomplish. We need to gain an extraordinary level of transparency in North Korea, and remember, we have not gone to war and beaten North Korea as we did with Iraq in order to get, in the first instance Resolution 687, setting up UNSCOM. But we need to find out what happened to that old plutonium that caused and incensed the first North Korean nuclear crisis. We need to find out what happened to the new plutonium, and those nuclear weapons the North Koreans say they've manufactured. We need to find out where the enrichment program is and what's been happening with it, and if there's anything more hidden in that program. We need to know a lot about that program, and we need ongoing transparency, probably more than standard IAEA safeguards, even what the additional protocol could provide. So a deal with North Korea on the nuclear side would not be easy. Now, those are standards that I would have, never mind the proctologists who are in this administration who are quite keen on having inspections in North Korea.

And then there's the question of the light water reactor. You all recollect that while we had some enthusiasm – those of us who negotiated the deal in 1994 for a light water reactor, in fact two, as preferable to the gas graphite rectors – that there was quite a backlash against solving the nuclear problem in North Korea by delivering light water reactors, so much so that you'd have to do something about some strong divisions out there against including light water reactors in any deal with North Korea if the North Koreans continued to insist that they must be part of a deal. And if you'll remember, this was slid over, papered over in the principles done in September. Immediately after there was agreement, the North Koreans noted that they got their light water reactor, and of course the Secretary of State noted immediately that they didn't. So that we didn't exactly solve that problem.

Serious issues out there, I would submit to you.

However, I think the one I would propose that you focus on particularly is the gap that has grown up between Seoul and Washington. It's a gap over threat perception, I would submit to you. In very real terms, the particular threat which the United States sees from North Korea is not one that the South Koreans care particularly about, because as I was foreshadowing before, the particular threat the United States sees is not so much the mating of nuclear weapons with Nodong or Tapodong missiles to threaten Japan or Continental United States. It isn't so much that if North Korea proceeds with their nuclear weapons program, eventually South Korea and Japan will find the American nuclear umbrella inadequate and will re-consider their non-nuclear status and so will begin the changing of the power relations in Northeast Asia and so will begin the unraveling of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. It's all important – it is. But that's not it.

The key issue for the United States is precisely what was reported to have been threatened by the North Koreans in April of 2003 – that the North Koreans, once they accumulate sufficient quantities of fissile material, and of most concern, highly enriched uranium more so than plutonium for technical reasons, they will do with that what they have done with ballistic missiles. You know that the Pakistani Garri missile, their medium-range ballistic missile, is not a Pakistani missile. It's a North Korean Nodong. You know that the Iranian medium-range ballistic missile, the Shahap 3, is not a Iranian missile. It's a knock-off of a North Korean No Dong that received some assistance from the Russians. So they have sent these medium-range ballistic missiles to two regions in crisis – the India-Pakistan situation, and Iran and the rest of the Middle East, causing major destabilization because of the ranges of these missiles – missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons. And the North Koreans have no problem doing that because that's something they can sell that nobody else is selling. There is not a country on earth now that's transferring medium-range ballistic missiles. China has stopped – we think, anyway. Nobody is. So they've cornered the market. If they start selling fissile material, I'm pretty sure they will have cornered the market on that.

Now, what would stop them? Well, the thought that they'd get caught. If they think they can get – deliver missiles and not get caught, understand what we're talking about by the delivery of fissile – the kind of fissile material that it would take – plutonium would be a smaller amount than highly enriched uranium, but the kind of material to produce the weapons that leveled Hiroshima, the highly enriched uranium in that bomb, or the plutonium that was in the Nagasaki bomb, would fit in that little bag. So do you think they think they could get away with transferring something that would fit in that little bag without getting caught? I think they think that. So what stops them? Well, their good judgment. They care about humanity. I don't think that's something I particularly want to depend upon right here. And that's the gap, because nobody thinks the North Koreans would transfer that fissile material to a non-national group or a national group that would threaten South Korea, and they have no intention of threatening South Korea, and I think the South Koreans know that.

Washington, on the other hand, is another matter. Now, understand from our perspective what this means. For those of us who do national security strategy and have done it since we were five years old, there's kind of a tenet here about deterrence. The United States of America has relied on deterrence since two things came together. The V2 missile from Germany, a true rocket. We call it a missile. And nuclear weapons. So that one unstoppable delivery system and one of those destroys one city. That meant we no longer could defend the United States by denial – by denying an access to the United States. We have – since the British were rude enough to burn our capitol in 1814 – we have been able to actually defend the United States of America and stop an attack. But if I should be so unlucky as to suffer a S……. attack, and I know I have no way of defending myself, all I can think to do is to threaten him with what will happen after he attacks me. Now you may wonder – how will I be able to do that? Well, that's what deterrence is all about. It's promising that you're struck, you will go back and retaliate, and make the attacker sorry in some way. That's what deterrence has always been about. A survivable retaliation.

Well, we now confront an enemy that attacked us on the 11th of September and we now confront an enemy who, should they attack us, we may not be able to identify. If a detonation were to happen this afternoon and it didn't happen in Washington so we could have hearings over here – happened in Boston, the first question would be: Who did it? Well, we might or might not know. If it's a missile attack, you'd know – you'd retaliate. You can see the arc. Right? We've got all this radar. We can tell exactly where the missiles come from. If it's delivered in a van or a boat, you don't know who did it. Suppose they take credit for it. Suppose al Qaeda says, "We did it." Who do you retaliate against? Where do you go? Do you bomb Afghanistan and get them? Maybe. Maybe not. Where do they live? Suppose you find out who did it, and you find out where they live. But they're suicide bombers. What are you threatening them with? Where's the deterrent?

We don't have a defense against unconventional delivery and we have no deterrent against this attacker. We cannot tolerate this enemy having a nuclear weapon. And I will tell you that if it's highly enriched uranium, the design of that weapon is so simple, al Qaeda could put it together. It's so simple, I could put it together.

So – why am I drawing this point out? Because this for me is the point at the end of the spear. This is the real – this is the gap between us and South Korea right now. This is a threat we – the national security establishment of this country – trust me, this government, while it doesn't talk about this much because there's nothing nice we have to say, we're worried about this one. That was what was behind the State of the Union address although it was never really laid out so explicitly as I just have. In short, we can't afford to have accumulations of fissile material in Iran or in North Korea and trust that they won't transfer it.

Now, for me, that means – so let me come out of the closet on this one – for me, that means once you've exhausted every other means of dealing with that threat, and I mean negotiations, sanctions, everything you can think of – before you just live with it, you use force to destroy it. Not pre-emptively, because you never – you can't have any hope of pre-empting – of knowing when you're going to be attacked. It must be preventively. That's a horrendous thing to say. In the Northeast Asian situation, nobody would support it. Certainly not in Seoul, and I don't think in Tokyo. We'll save the Middle East for another time.

So – this leaves me pretty pessimistic for a whole bunch of reasons that we're going to make much progress on this problem any time soon. I can't imagine successful negotiation with North Korea in which the United States and South Korea were not like this – close to one another. And Japan, too. But first South Korea. But I do not see that in the near term, and I do not see the United States engaging the North in serious diplomacy and negotiation in any event.

So, on that happy note, ladies and gentlemen, thank you. We have some more time and if you'd like to ask questions ………

QUESTION: My name is ………. Thanks for your amusing talk. I guess I have actually several questions, but your very first question you raised during your talk has sort of compelled me to add another question, so let me address that question first. Your question raised that – whether North Korea was genuine in making a deal in 1994. But I guess on the other hand – well, I'm obviously not trying to defend or justify North Korea's movement of breaking out of that agreement, but was the U.S. indeed genuine in making a deal? You know, since – I hear – well, there are a couple of things that are sort of indicating that U.S. was not genuine in making an agreement in the sense that the KEDO program supplying oil as well building a light water reactor was dragged on and on, so in that sense, from North Korea's point of view, that may have sort of – not a fair deal for them. Also I hear some buzzes coming out of the newspapers saying that all these officials who participated in the negotiation of that agreement – they were hoping that – they didn't think that Kim Jong Il would last before, so they were sort of waiting for Kim Jong Il to collapse and by that time, the KEDO – there would be no need for KEDO. Second question is – you have clearly summarized the differentiation of the objectives from South Korea's perspective as well as the U.S. perspective. With the end of the Cold War era, the objectives for both countries toward North Korea have changed significantly in the sense that for South Korea, the priority now is the reunification, in that it wants to, despite the fact that it's still the 10th largest economy country, but it's still surrounded by many countries (END OF SIDE A – SIDE B CONTINUES) – how ever many times. So through reunification, South Korea's strategy is to strengthen its position in respect to the geography. So while at the same time, gradually – well, they don't want Kim Jon Il's collapse right away, obviously. That would put a huge economic burden on South Korea, so they'd like to do it in a gradual manner that would minimize the cost of reunification. So their objective, as you pointed out, is clearly not coinciding with what the U.S. is hoping to accomplish in resolving North Korea's issue which is basically – it's eliminating the threats to national security arising from Kim Jong Il's having nuclear weapons and on top of that, exporting the weapons as well as the technology to terrorists or some third countries. So in light of that, where do you think the – I mean, what is the direction that the U.S. should take as far as the implementing strategy and policy in regards to resolving North Korea's current situation? Then one last question -- ……

GALLUCCI: I have the …… and I'm now going to try to respond. First, on the question of – I accused the North Koreans of cheating. Your first question was – well, didn't the Americans and KEDO cheat, too because we didn't do what we were supposed to? I feel rather strongly that that's nonsense – that in any agreement or arrangement, there are things that are material to it and things that are peripheral. And what the North Koreans did was material. I mean, essentially, the deal was "You give up nuclear weapons. We do these things." And they were cheating on giving up nuclear weapons when they secretly went about getting centrifuge components from Pakistan. That's called cheating. Now, if we, under the framework had agreed, outside of the framework, remember, to a certain schedule for delivering heavy fuel oil and didn't always stick to the schedule by which the time the oil was supposed to be delivered, I'd say that's not material. Eventually all of the heavy fuel oil gets delivered. It doesn't hit an agreed schedule that's easiest for the North Koreans to absorb it. That's all.

With respect to the construction of the light water reactor – we were proceeding with the construction of the light water reactor. The hold-ups were not all on our side. Remember this – that we had not a small number of difficulties with the North Koreans. Talk to somebody who's worked in KEDO about making that work out. So again, it wasn't a refusal to deliver the reactors. We were just – it takes a while. We told the North Koreans explicitly – they wanted a date on which we'd deliver, and I refused to do it. I said, "We just don't know how long it's going to take to build a reactor, or two reactors in North Korea." We know how long it takes to build 12 of them in South Korea, but not how long to build 2 in North Korea. So there wasn't any material breach on our side. Were we dragging our legs on political normalization? Dragging our feet? Yes. We were for a variety of domestic reasons principally. But I don't think we violated any part of the framework. I think they did.

Second point. Isn't it true – it has been charged that those who negotiated the deal with North Korea only negotiated that deal because they expected the North Korean regime to collapse, and so we never anticipated delivering the reactors? The answer to that for the one who was in charge of the negotiations is No. I can tell you what I was thinking. It's very hard for me to tell you what other people were thinking, because that's what the question calls for. Not what we did, but what we thought. So I'm prepared to tell you I never thought that. Indeed, when I had an opportunity to sway the view of one Senator, a key Senator – and I don't know if I should mention Senator McCain's name – but I will. He said to me, "I don't like this deal, but if you told me – if you told me that you negotiated this deal with the thought that that regime is not going to be around very long, and that we're never really going to have to deliver those reactors, I might be interested in this." And I said, "No, Senator, I can't tell you that. We have a plan to build the reactors. I'm not one who believes that the North Korean people are going to become so unhappy with their regime that they are going to overthrow it. I see the regime as a cult. It's a cult of Kim Il Sung that Kim Jong Il is taking advantage of, and I don't see it withering away any time soon, unlike the then director of central intelligence who thought it would disappear." He said, "Well, then, I don't support it at all. And I think it's stupid besides." All right, that was his view. So I can say unequivocally what I thought. I can tell you that at no point in the National Security Council meetings on this with the President, did anybody argue for this on that basis.

QUESTION: I'll keep it very simple and to the point. Just one clarification, Bob. I really enjoyed your presentation. You say that South Korea does not perceive North Korea as a threat. I don't think that is the case. One example, North Korean missiles are becoming increasingly accurate, and if you look at the missile that was fired two months ago, that was extremely accurate, and that was keyed into threatening the U.S. forces in Korea. And you know the current tensions in the combined forces command, and also the extreme difficulties in the political relations with the U.S., and that impacts the military dimensions of the alliance, and I think that's a serious threat, not to mention 2000 long-range artillery, or the nuclear, chemical, biological capable artillery. And so I'm wondering what your –

GALLUCCI: I should be more careful, and you're right to call me on this. I was really talking about – this is a horrible thing – the North Korean people. I believe that if you check on what ROK forces command believes, you'll find they're still preparing to deal with a possible contingency with North Korea, and that includes those artillery pieces along the DMZ that in the first instance can range to Seoul. So, yes, I agree wholeheartedly. But I think I'm going to stick with my position that broadly, the view is becoming in the South dominant, if it isn't already, that the North isn't that much of a threat. There's a popular view to that.

QUESTION: But Bob, I have to say that you're talking about broadcasts, with the exception of SBS and this, again – if you have the heads of the broadcasting corporation appointed by the President with the kind of propaganda, it's very different. If you look at the private broadcasters and also the newspapers, you will get a very different view. With due respect, but you know that I have the highest respect for you, Bob.

GALLUCCI: You know lots more than I do about this, and I'm hoping to get to Seoul again before too long, and I remain – I'm prepared to be instructed and learn about this. I will tell you – what I was sharing with you was my perception. It's open to change.

QUESTION: With due respect. Thank you.

QUESTION: Miles ….. from Arms Control Today. Bob, a few short and simple questions. There's been some reports in the New York Times, for instance, last week that the administration was going to sort of side-step the nuclear talks and look for perhaps negotiating a peace treaty with North Korea. Secondly, you mentioned, we're looking for regime change – that's one of the obstacles; and the North Koreans are looking for it. You didn't really elaborate on that. How can they wait this out? Is the situation from their point different from what it was in 1994, and when you mentioned the deliveries of the – they might deliver fissile material if they get desperate – doesn't it seem counter-productive then to impose sanctions on them because that would make them desperate?

GALLUCCI: Okay. The first issue is the New York Times story that I'm sure you all saw where it was – David Sanger I think reporting that – obviously there was a debate within the administration over whether we ought to go for finally a peace treaty as opposed to an armistice – replace the armistice with a peace treaty. And trying to do that would be "easier" than tackling the nuclear issue head-on. I thought that was bizarre, myself. One – I don't know – and I'm not questioning David's sources. I'm sure they're better than mine, but I hadn't heard that, actually – that that was going on. Second, the proposition that it would be somehow easier to do a peace treaty strikes me as weird anyway. I don't understand why that would be particularly easy, politically. Third, I care about the nuclear issue. I mean so much – I didn't mention human rights here today. Did you notice that? This administration would never engage this issue without saying, "And," as the Secretary of State did when she was in Asia, "we can't just solve the nuclear problem. We have to solve the problem of conventional forces. We have to solve the problem of human rights. We have to solve the problem of this totalitarian regime." Right. You're going to do all that, are you? Thanks very much. I don't think so. I think if you're particularly worried about a national security issue – because all these things have been around for 60 years. So you can live with those things. Maybe North Koreans can't, but I can. Unhappily – and it's too bad – and it's awful. But I wouldn't have war on the Korean Peninsula for it. Over the nuclear issue, maybe. So that's – and the third thing – I forget. What was the third thing?

QUESTION: About the North Koreans – why they don't want to negotiate …

GALLUCCI: Okay – would sanctions make the North Koreans so desperate they would transfer ... I don't think the North Koreans would transfer fissile material until they had sufficient accumulations in order to build a nuclear arsenal of their own. That I don't think is going to happen in the next year or two. I think we have time, in other words, to deal with North Korea. So I think if you – I don't know why you'd want to do sanctions right now anyway, because it would be overcome immediately by South Korea, never mind China.

QUESTION: My name is ... I'm a Junior at Georgetown University, now a rising Senior, and I just want to thank you for your insightful presentation, and I just want you to know that I always liked your jokes since I was a freshman. My question is that – you said before that President Bush – he gave a speech to West Point graduates in 2002 in which he laid out the Bush Doctrine in which he put a high emphasis on pre-emption and pre-emptive strike, right? I mean, that's a well-known fact. Everybody knows that. The thing is – the thing that kind of confused me is the thing that you said after that which is – you said, that the concept of pre-emption is against rogue states – mostly directed against North Korea, which is contrary to my previous perception. My understanding was that it was directed against amorphous, unidentified Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups, but it doesn't mean that the U.S. actually had a serious intention to initiate military attack on North Korea, because actually I was watching this interview on TV, this interview with Michael Green who currently is a resident professor at Georgetown University, one of my favorite professors. He said that the one thing that most people are not fully aware of is the fact that the U.S. actually did not have any serious intention to attack North Korea, so I just want to know your thoughts on that – like what do you think of that? Did the U.S. actually think that kind of plan – did they actually have a concrete plan, a specific plan to –

GALLUCCI: I think you're essentially correct, but I think so am I. Here's how we both end up being correct. I have no question but that when the administration framed – when the speechwriters were doing the West Point commencement address for President Bush in the Spring of 2002, they were foreshadowing the language that would turn up in the national security strategy a few months later in September, and that language is there for anybody to read, and it is a description of why the concept of pre-emption needs to be revised in the world we live in now, where we don't have troops marshalling on a border, so we don't have the opportunity to see an enemy getting ready to strike. So therefore we need, if we want to preserve pre-emption, we need to be able to strike at an enemy even when we're not sure when or where they may strike us. That's what the doctrine said. And I offered to you before that shouldn't change the idea of pre-emption. We should just simply call it what that is. That's preventive war. And I submitted to you that I thought that the administration clearly had North Korea in mind and wished Pyongyang to know that Washington has North Korea in mind, and the same with Iran and probably – certainly with Iraq, and probably even Libya. There was a belief that these states posed threats to us that were serious, that were grave, that would materialize without us being able to see them materialize, and that we would act preventively or pre-emptively, if you like, to deal with them. When I say that, I don't mean that we were about to strike anybody. I do mean certainly that we had plans. Now, "plans" is tricky. Anybody who's worked in the government, particularly if they've ever worked on political-military issues, knows that the Pentagon has plans. I don't think Andorra is safe from the plans! I mean – they have plans for everything, and it doesn't mean there's any political reality to it. But the plans are there. I'm saying more than that, though, for North Korea. I mean, as you may have heard, in 1994 we had more than that on the table. JCS had done a lot more than simply have ready plans. I mean, there was a lot more developed thinking.

With respect to this administration when Professor Green – who I'm thrilled we have at Georgetown – says that we weren't actually going to do anything – I think that's probably correct because we were focused on Iraq and have been, by the way, and we're going to be kind of busy there. So I don't think that North Korea was on the table. But as a country that needed to think about us dealing with them that way, North Korea was a target of the doctrine, I would submit.

QUESTION: Mark ….., Wilson Center and ……. Student of …….. You delineated very well the reasons why you think the Bush Administration does not want to really engage North Korea in a valid negotiation. They think it's immoral. They want North Korea to make the first step. Yet, you said at the end of your presentation that the main fear in Washington is that North Korea will, once it gets enough fissile material, possibly transfer it to a terrorist group. The two sides don't make sense. If you think they're going to transfer, wouldn't you want to engage them? …… I do.

GALLUCCI: You're at the Woodrow Wilson Center. I'm at Georgetown. How many phone calls do you get from the Administration saying, "What do you think we should do?" I don't get any. I mean – come on! This administration is not entirely unknown to you.

MARK: When I offer, they tell me to shut up!

GALLUCCI: I know they're going to say that, so I don't need the rejection. You know what I mean? Yes, it makes – another way to put this – there's another talk that I give – it's the same talk but it's structured a little differently, and that talk says, "What are the options? And there are three options. The first option is to use force, and the second option is negotiation, and the third option is to accept it. The administration really doesn't have a "use force" option. A) It doesn't know where the enrichment program is. It's unlike 1994 where we sure knew where ……… was. Second, to launch a strike that is not preceded by an all-out effort at negotiations is for certain to crack two remaining alliances that we have that matter – one with South Korea and the other with Japan. So the "force" option doesn't look very appealing. Not to mention the fact you may have a war in the Korean Peninsula, and it may involve an ally who didn't plan on going to war. So force doesn't look good.

Negotiation is something they've taken off the table. So what have they actually hit upon as their option? Living with it. But living with it is unacceptable in the out-years, and they say in "Pentagon-speak." So that's where we are. Does it make sense? Not to me. But I'm here to describe.

DENNIS: From International Relations. You laid out a very good scenario of the preventive war and the fact that this administration does not want Iran or North Korea to build up large stockpile of fissile materials. My question, at the same time the great issue in Congress is the India deal – the same administration is saying – people say, maybe as a check in Asia to China or for whatever reason, we need to engage India, and to engage India we need to deal with their nuclear issue and reach a compromise. So my question is to you, of course, there's great debate raging behind closed doors in the Congress of what the India deal – nuclear deal – what this means as a precedent for Iran and North Korea. So how do you fit that into the world view – if you're worried about Iran and North Korea accumulating nuclear materials, but you forgive India, is this a consistent approach?

GALLUCCI: I'm actually on record in this building before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the India deal, and I testified along with Ashley T….., Bill Perry, and Ash Carter, and I was the only one who opposed the deal. In that testimony, not to drag you through it, I said people would make a comparison between this – the deal with India – and what Iran and North Korea could expect. I said that was a bad comparison because those who argue for the deal with India point out that India is actually a pretty nice country, in non-proliferation terms, apart from the fact that it detonated a nuclear explosive device, and is continuing to build more nuclear weapons – it's a pretty nice country in terms of transfer. It's been very responsible as far as we know, relative to such countries as North Korea and Iran, which we regard as having violated treaty commitments – the NPT. The North Koreans, while …… legally can't do what they did which was, under threat of being found in violation, to withdraw from the Treaty. So we claim that there isn't any real – by "we" this means the United States Government – it really isn't a comparison with North Korea and Iran. The concerns I had over India were countries that also behave well that I don't think should be given the example of India which can get up one morning and decide – even though it's not going to be a member of the NPT, it could still get the benefits of an NPT party and have nuclear weapons because it's behaved so well. Because there are other states that behave well too, like Brazil or Argentina or Sweden or Japan, and we wouldn't want the example of India for them. I don't think the India deal is anything but rhetorically difficult for the administration in dealing with Iran and North Korea. I have separate reasons for wishing that the India deal would fail, but not so much this one.

QUESTION: Alexander …….. Just now I am a Visiting Fellow in the Brooking Institution and I'm primarily from Russia ……. Sciences. Thank you very much for a great presentation. One question: There is a widespread argument which is often used to explain why – as you told – the present administration doesn't want to come back to serious negotiation with North Korea, and this argument is North Korea never will give up nuclear weapons. Never – not under any conditions. And in Russia many people ….. specialists have a little bit different assessment. Which is your personal point of view? Thank you.

GALLUCCI: I'm sorry. I started this talk by saying that I needed you to tell me the answer to that question. I mean – I said, if you recall – that I think that is a key question, and I was asked when I was sent around to defend the agreed framework – "Do you really think North Korea is ever going to give up its nuclear weapons? It needs this to guarantee its security. It needs this is it wants to preserve an option ever to attack South Korea and deter the United States from intervening, or Japan from intervening. It must maintain – what do you think?" I was asked. I said, "I don't know. But since I don't know, I want to construct a deal which works either way – that has sufficient transparency that will catch them if they cheat, and if they don't cheat, then we're that much farther ahead. So right now, I don't know – I really don't know whether the North Koreans would make such a deal at this point. But it strikes me as somewhere between bizarre and stupid not to test the proposition, not to do the deal – the best deal you can, remembering that they're not a country you can simply trust. I'm not sure besides Canada who you can, but you want to have some transparency in the deal so you have some hope of catching them if they do decide to cheat. But to not engage them because you have somehow some insight into their motivations on this strikes me as bizarre.

LARRY _____: From the Congressional Research Service. Mr. Ambassador, you mentioned the Clinton Administration's vacillation on political normalization of relations with North Korea, and I believe in the agreed framework there is a statement that relations would be normalized when the nuclear issue, but some other issues were settled as well. Now the Bush Administration has taken a similar position in a broad sense saying that a settlement of the nuclear issue is not sufficient for diplomatic relations to be fully normalized – that other issues, missiles, human rights, etc., have to be settled as well. The South Koreans and the Chinese have argued throughout the six-party talks that the United States should offer a full normalization of diplomatic relations in exchange for a full dismantlement of North Korea's nuclear programs. How do you come down on this right now? Are the South Koreans and the Chinese asking too much? Or is this a card that at this stage in the talks perhaps we ought to consider playing?

GALLUCCI: The short answer to that is – we're not having talks. We're not any place near being able to do that. If you're asking me: were we to be in talks, would I think it reasonable to have a package which included full normalization of relations in which we got for that what we wanted on the nuclear issue, I would say yes, with a little asterisk here. I mean, in a way a few minutes ago, I was quite critical of trying to solve the human rights problem, for example, while you were at it solving the nuclear problem. But when you say "full normalization" of political relations, it's very hard for me to envision full normalization of a political relationship, where we acknowledge them as a legitimate state in the international arena, with this particular regime behaving in this particular way with respect to its own people. That's hard. Between hard and impossible. So would I give a lot on security assurances? – you bet. A lot on security assurances. Would I build the light water reactors? Absolutely. Provide economic assistance? Yes. But the political normalization phrase I think has to be paced with the other elements of the political relationship and development of the political setting in North Korea. I mean, this doesn't come from some sort of moral perspective so much as a practical political one. It's not that I'm without morality. It's just on this one I can just say that I don't think it works for the United States politically to try to have a full political relationship with a country like North Korea. There'd have to be some adjustments. Could there be full diplomatic relationship? Absolutely. I mean, we could skip the Liaison Office and go right to Embassy as far as I'm concerned.


GALLUCCI: Absolutely. Absolutely No, I'm talking in the context of full settlement – that's how I started with – we're not negotiating now so I wouldn't put anything particularly on the table right at this moment. I'd kind of wait until I got into a negotiation.

QUESTION: Yes, thank you Mr. Ambassador for your insightful and frank remarks. I just want to go into the human rights aspect a little bit further. I think you and I are in agreement actually that the six-party talks have been like watching paint dry, and just watching North Korean behavior over the years and you'd know this better than me, obviously they're not entirely trustworthy, and in fact I think it would be best to characterize them as criminal, as we've already acted on their financial criminal dealings. Their crimes actually extend in the human rights category to crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes. It's been estimated that about one million people have died already in the prison camps. So I think that in negotiating with a regime with that kind of record, I find it difficult to separate out one piece, the nuclear piece, because you're still dealing with the same people who are committing these crimes, and so there's a little bit of a credibility problem, I think with those people who are willing to do those things. And so given the fact that we haven't seen much progress with the six-party talks, I wonder if in fact a different forum could – might be appropriate such as the Security Council, and in 1994 the – as I understand it, there was a threat of a Security Council resolution in which China had told North Korea that they may not be able to veto, which was a factor in pressuring North Korea to then engage in negotiations with Jimmy Carter. I just wonder how long do we have patience for the six-party talk format?

GALLUCCI: Actually, I don't think we do agree. How many people do you – this is rhetorical; please don't leap to answer – how many people do you think died in the cultural revolution in China? Let's just say a lot. I think we're safe with that. A lot. But we're not going to ask for a full accounting, or war crimes or anything, because of that, because there are other relations with China that are just too important. We're going to move on. And in the North Korean case, I have no obligation for policy – no responsibility, so I could – you and I could say "Yes, I think they're criminal." If I was working for the government right now, I wouldn't say they were criminal. I'd avoid saying they're criminal, even though I thought they were criminal, because what I'd want to do is have a negotiation. I was once asked by a reported from the New York Times – "Don't you admire Ambassador Bolton for speaking the truth?" I said, "No, I don't. If you want to make a deal with somebody, you don't – in my view – go into the room and the first thing, observe that the person is very overweight and say, ‘you're fat.'" That's not a good – it could be accurate, but it's not a good way to start the conversation. If you want to have one. If you don't have one, it's a great way to start a conversation. You're a hero to everyone behind you. You just told the truth. Isn't it great? So we can all stand up and say, "They're criminals. They've committed genocide." Great. Where do you want to end up here? You'd like that regime gone. Can you make that regime go? I can't. And the first thing I'm concerned about is not the people of North Korea. The first thing I'm concerned about are the people in the United States and her allies. North Korea ain't one of those. And so what I'm looking to do is to solve the nuclear problem. That's what I'm after. If I could solve the nuclear problem and the human rights problem, great! But not otherwise.

QUESTION: Actually I view myself as being very pragmatic, and I'm not saying walk into a room with Kim …… and say, "You're a criminal." I'm just being realistic in that in making a deal with someone – I mean, would you buy an apartment from a murderer if you knew that this person that you wanted to do a deal with on their apartment had killed …… I mean, there's a credibility problem with that person in making the deal, and so I'm just saying that – looking at the behavior we've seen, perhaps another forum in which we saw China cooperate in the 1994 in pressuring North Korea to behave. You know, maybe something else like that could take place.

GALLUCCI: The problem here is asking me if I'd buy an apartment from a murderer is just a generalization from everyday relations with one another to international relations. It is – I would call that "playground diplomacy," and this administration – watch this one – this administration uses the playground image. Have you not heard "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." That's why we're not going to negotiate with North Korea. Excuse me???? That may be just fine if you're teaching kindergarten. It's not international politics. Whether I would buy an apartment from a murderer or not is an interesting question. You know, if the person had been convicted and somehow had served his term, was still thought to be dishonest, I might – I'd be very, very careful. But it's not the right question. The question is: how are you going to solve this problem? Are you going to negotiate with North Korea, or are your ethics going to be so high that you're going to have to go to war to deal with the problem as a threat? Those ethics, if you have kids who are draft age, cost too much to me. They cost too much.

QUESTION: Ambassador, thank you for such an interesting presentation. You're a lot more interesting as an academic than as a government official, for sure. I have a question about something you said in the talk. You said that the North Koreans are waiting for a regime change, and the Bush Administration is waiting for a regime change. It seems like the North Koreans, if they were to wait for a Democratic administration and if there was somebody in position like yourself, whereas the Democrats are moving to a more hawkish stance on North Korea, the regime that they're going to be dealing with is not going to be that vastly different. Maybe tactically, but in the final analysis, isn't the regime change in North Korea or regime transformation really what's important for the safety of your children, your grandchildren, and our children? And in that vein, isn't it important for the human rights issue to be discussed, and I'm going to follow-up with Grace's comment – as in the Soviet Union – why are we so afraid to bring it up -- … just take it off the table so we can't talk about it. I mean, why can't we just put it on the table and say, "Well, address it the best you can, but this is something that's important for the world community and for everyone." So why do you have to let that blackmail succeed by just saying we don't talk about it?

GALLUCCI: Wonderful word "blackmail." Just a wonderful word. Thank you for that word. Listen – one more time here. I don't like what the North Korean regime does to its own people. I don't know that I can do anything about that. I don't. I do know that there's a direct threat to the national security of the United States and America's allies that I think we have an obligation to do something about. Certainly, people with responsibility of government service have an obligation to do something about. They have an obligation to deal with that first, in my view, and if they can't deal with that because they insist on solving the human rights problem in North Korea and the totalitarian regime problem, then I believe they're making a mistake; then they're putting that ethical judgment up and making an ultimately unethical decision to leave America and its allies vulnerable so that it can do something which I regard as ultimately ineffective by complaining about the human rights problem. That's the first point. The security issue for me comes first. Second. We're not getting blackmailed by North Korea. We're making a decision here. We're making it – or one could make a decision – I think the last administration did – I had no problems when – I don't know whether Jim was there or could remember this, but I had no problems when Vice Foreign Minister Kong Suk Joo (?) said. "You wish to strangle us." He said it publicly in our plenary and then privately sipping coffee, he said, "You want to strangle us." I had no problem saying, "Don't confuse two things here. We have no sympathy for your regime, and for your government. It's completely antithetical to all our values – what you do to your people, and the way you do it." You can say that to him. I believe you can – and did more than once. And said, "But don't confuse that attitude that we have, our view, our values when you act entirely inconsistently with our values, between that and what we are saying we will be prepared to do, which is commit here to not posing a security threat to you, if we can resolve the nuclear issue. We are going to expect that over time there'll be evolution in North Korea as there has been if you've noticed, Vice Foreign Minister, around the rest of the world. You're not exactly in the majority. There are no other states like you with this ideology on the planet. Given time, we believe there will be change. What we're talking about is the United States not provoking that change by the use of force. Will we speak against your system? Yes. But that's different than strangling you." Now that's a conversation not only can we have – have had. And we can have that again. But that's not holding resolution of the nuclear issue hostage to solving the human rights issue, and that's what I oppose. Thank you.

QUESTION: This morning – I guess we've gone the full circle – I asked the question to Dan Glaser regarding linkage. I have another quick question for you and I think it relates to linkage. And I think in terms of the six-party talk – I think that chances are, if anything's going to be successful, we have to be unilateral. The reason I say this is I do not feel, and I've had numerous conversations with Chinese officials and diplomats over at the Embassy and at various meetings – the issue of Taiwan is so intense with them that I find – I think they would cut off their noses to spite their faces – do you feel that we can work through a six-party policy with the Chinese that are not cooperating with us on North Korea because they're linking everything to Taiwan? I don't want to leave everybody laughing on that note, but you know, as a closing thought – how do we bring in the six-party to really be effective, and China in particular based on that theory?

GALLUCCI: I have a – I know the Chinese enthusiasm for linking Taiwan to everything. I understand that. But it seems, as a pretty attentive newspaper reader, that the Chinese have been fairly active in trying to get us to the table with the North Koreans and trying particularly last September to drive that deal and telling everybody, "Take this deal. No changes in it." In other words, they've been trying to advance talks to settle this issue. So I see them as fairly activist – and that is, more active than we were able to get them to be 11 years ago. God knows we tried. I made several trips to Beijing for that purpose, and they may have been helpful quietly. It's been suggested that they were helpful. I actually didn't know what you said before – that they had done that with the North Koreans. But it's consistent with what I hoped they were doing with the North Koreans. But I think they've been far more active now. So that's the first part of the answer. The second part is – I have never been a friend of six-party talks when you make six-party an objective. If it's a vehicle and it works, I've got no problem with it. But as soon as it becomes an obstacle, since the settlement is never going to be six-parties – only two parties need to make this deal – that's the North Koreans and the United States – we can't make our deal without our allies, South Korea and Japan. That's how we proceeded before, and that's how I think politically how we have to proceed again, and I think the Chinese will be satisfied and happy were we to do this and take this issue off the table as a security issue.

Thank you all very much.


This page last updated 8/12/2006 jdb

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