Nuclear Crisis Essay

4030 words - 16 pages

The North Korean Nuclear Crisis: Situational Awareness and a Proposed US ResponseThe Nuclear Crisis of 1993The question of a nuclear North Korea has roots dating back to the 1980's. Initial concerns arose in the mid-1980's, with intelligence reports proposing the potential for North Korean nuclear ambitions. Reports cite the construction of a nuclear reactor capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium. The reactor in question, located in Yongbyon, was the focus of the first North Korean nuclear crisis in 1993. The Clinton administration proceeded with diplomatic efforts, forging an agreement by 1994 that effectually ended the crisis. Under the Agreed Framework, North Korea agreed to: (1) halt operation and construction of nuclear reactors, (2) freeze reprocessing of spent fuel (from which plutonium can be derived to make nuclear weapons), and (3) allow IAEA inspectors to monitor nuclear facilities. In return, the US agreed to: (1) lead an international consortium in the construction of two proliferation-resistant light-water reactors (LWR), and (2) supply fuel oil until the first reactor is deemed operational.The Current Crisis in BriefThe current crisis officially began in October 2002, when a visiting US delegation, led by Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly, confronted North Korean officials with evidence of a nuclear weapons program (using enriched uranium, as opposed to the plutonium used in its first weapons program). Pyongyang admitted to the program's existence, stating, "We will meet the sword with the sword. " The US, South Korea, and Japan subsequently halted all shipment of fuel oil to North Korea, in November, on the grounds that the once covert nuclear program was in violation of the Agreed Framework. In December, North Korea announced the reactivation of its nuclear reactors at Yongbyon and followed by kicking IAEA inspectors out of the country. By January 2003, North Korea had withdrawn from the Non-Proliferation Treaty.North Korea's Cause for ConcernThe crisis has been largely framed as a bilateral dispute between the United States and North Korea. North Korea has repeatedly defended their nuclear weapons program, by claiming the need for "nuclear deterrence" is a result of the United State's "hostile policy." Pyongyang's cause for concern can be seen upon consideration of the noticeable shift in US policy that took place when the Bush Administration took office.In reaction to the North Korea-Japan controversy in August 1998, when North Korea test-fired a missile over the main island of Japan, President Clinton sent Former Secretary of Defense, William Perry, to Pyongyang to deliver a US disarmament proposal. By September 1999, North Korea had agreed to stop conducting long-range missile tests, and, in turn, President Clinton eased economic sanctions on the country. The situation is used as an example of the Clinton administration's approach to dealing with North Korea - a willingness to engage in dialogue that was...

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