Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) is considered to be one of world’s most closed and isolated countries in the world. After the breaking up of the two Koreas in 1945, they emerged on the world map as Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Republic of Korea. Families divided and one culture and value system sustained on both sides of the border, yet hostilities between the two countries marred their relations and international peace. US dumped its nuclear arsenal in South Korea which eventually led to a deterioration in situation.
Russia opted to support North Korea in the ensuing years which led to international deadlocks. Being surrounded by great powers, the escalating tension and ensuing events took shape of global events that affected the whole world and changed the policies of super powers. The subsequent ambitious nuclear goals of Pyongyong had to be curtailed and this is what has kept the region in lime light ever since. Clinton’s Policy towards North Korea The policies of Bill Clinton regarding North Korea were recently criticized by Republican presidential candidate Senator McCain.
He said while referring to the then in the race democratic candidate for presidency Hillary Clinton “the framework agreement her husband’s administration negotiated was a failure”. Senator McCain was quoted as saying this and a lot more while defending the policy of Bush administration regarding North Korea. He said that the aid North Korea received under Clinton’s policy was subsequently diverted to the up gradation of their military and nuclear program.
Reversely there are many who support Clinton’s policies and criticize Bush administration for not adequately following up on negotiation with North Korea and ignoring the issue while focusing more on Iraq, Afghanistan and war on terror in general. Observers however, noted that the Agreed Frame work has been a success as “North Korea abided by the freeze. ” Clinton’s strategy was supported by many others as well who contended that the agreement had resulted in progress.
Reviewing Clinton’s Policy towards Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea and the dynamics that played a major role in this regard it will be noted that initially President Clinton’s policy towards North Korea was a bit aggressive but it gave way to a general consensus of cooperation and negotiation. Few extracts from the paper “The Mouse that Roared? Clinton’s Foreign Policy towards North Korea” are given below. “During the Clinton presidency, US foreign policy towards North Korea started with conflict with the nuclear crisis and ended with cooperation by beginning diplomatic normalization.
North Korea did not change its foreign policy; it remained aggressive in its anti-American rhetoric and actions. Therefore, why was there a foreign policy change from conflict to cooperation towards the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea during the Clinton administration? Some scholars will argue that there was no or little change in foreign policy. However, there are some differences that are puzzling and do not fit the standard mold of foreign policy formation. High politics involving security and power should not mix with low politics like peace and economic prosperity, but they do in the case of the DPRK.
The DPRK is a closed state that few completely understand, and this would usually lead to more cautious and protectionist policies. Instead, the US became more cooperative, and this needs explanation. The factors that led towards foreign policy change are divided into two themes. The first theme is that Clinton became a supporter of the Democratic Peace Thesis (DPT) and incorporated these ideas into his foreign policy. ” “…, the second theme is that Congress reasserted itself as a major actor in foreign policy matters and became more supportive of cooperation.
The checks and balances of the American political system did not apply to the “1994 Agreed Framework Between the United States of America and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea” (Agreed Framework). It was a document that Congress had to support even though Senate did not have to ratify it. ” (Jane Kim, 1, 2). American government has always had issues and concerns regarding North Korea’s military ambition, especially its nuclear program and the American government thought the long impending predicament was resolved when during the Clinton Regime United States and North Korea signed the “Agreed Framework” on 12 August, 1994.
The framework proposed a three step process according to which North Korea agreed to freeze its plutonium weapon program and in return American government promised to progress towards stabilized economic and diplomatic relations and will provide North Korea two proliferation-resistant nuclear reactor. Afterwards the Clinton regime also initiated talks with North Korean government in Berlin and later in New York as well to confine its ballistic missile program but no concluding agreement could be reached in the end.
United States also imposed sanctions on North Korea for missile proliferation activities and for the transfer of missile technology and its components. Quite a large number of Congressmen did not approve of Clinton’s foreign policy towards North Korea and also the fact that the Agreed Framework was the root of the US’s North Korean policy. It is evident from the congressional documents that Congress was reluctant to accept the Clinton government’s diplomatic and peace-centered negotiations with North Korean regime and tolerant approach towards North Korea.
Similarly many Congressmen were also not in accord with applying Democratic Peace Theory for defining US policy governing relationship with North Korea. Members of Congress were in favor of placing economic sanctions on North Korea. Although after both the governments concurred on the Agreed Framework, Clinton’s Policy was accepted reluctantly, but this did not stop Congress from trying to wield influence on American foreign policy. In 1998, President Clinton also assigned former Secretary of Defense William Perry the task to carry out an enhancement of America’s policy towards the North Korea.
William Perry immediately undertook an interagency review of U. S. policy toward North Korea and began discussions with South Korea and Japan focusing on creating a combined approach to deal with the issues at hand. The following Perry Report led to the pave the final phase of Clinton’s North Korean policy. With the lukewarm support of Congress, Clinton continued to peacefully engage North Korea in talks and negotiations, and the United States of America reduced its economic sanctions against North Korea.
During this time, Clinton government successfully involved North Korea as well as South Korea and Japan in the peace talks while exchanges of officials between the two countries continued to decrease tensions. US inspectors visited North Korean nuclear plants and United States also promised to cooperate with North Korea in economic affairs as well as for the peaceful uses of nuclear technology but after the 2000 election and the consequent change in the White House Clinton’s North Korean policy ended abruptly. Post-2001 American Policy for North Korea
American policy for DPRK underwent a complete change after President George W. Bush took oath of the office in January 2001. Shortly before President George W. Bush declared his intent to completely review the state’s policy towards DPRK, Secretary of State Colin Powell had stated that the current administration plans to “pick up where President Clinton left off”(Manyin, Chanlett-Avery and Marchart 2005, 13) . In his joint statement a day later, after his first summit meeting with the President Kim of ROK, he declared his views against those of the ROK President about alteration of America’s DPRK policy.
The Bush administration consequently changed its stance completely declaring that the previous administration was rewarding North Korea for its bad behavior. Prior to any further dialogues, North Korea is asked to “1) start to take serious, verifiable steps to reduce the conventional weapons threat to the South, 2) “improved implementation” of the 1994 Agreed Framework, and 3) verifiable “constraints” on North Korea’s missile exports. ” (Ibid, 14) In response to these statements, North Korea also asked a return of the US to the stance of the last administration.
This, however, was not achieved as President Bush in his statement in the state of the Union address combined North Korea with Iran and Iraq, and declaring that they “constitute an axis of evil” which further instigated hostilities between the two countries. The Bush Administration further demanded that multilateral talks be conducted with North Korea so as appropriate pressure could be built for seeing the future agreements carried through. On the other hand North Korea was insisting for bilateral talks. The intervention of China in this regard, at the behest of President Bush, helped in the smooth flow of matters.
The Chinese diplomats succeeded in building up a negotiating party that consisted of representatives of six countries, whose stakes were involved in the negotiations; this included South Korea, Japan, Russia, China and US. The first three rounds of bilateral talks took place in August 2003, February 2004 and June 2004, but these were without any substantial results. This delay in reaching any diplomatic settlement has been blamed on US because of its inability to come up with a negotiating proposal so that the talks could move forward substantially and in a direction.
A group of officials within the top notch Bush administration wanted the Korean regime to collapse and therefore advocated the sternest measures, such as unilateral promises from the North Korean regime for demilitarization as well as for the US to keep the sanctions in place. After the fourth round of talks, the six parties agreed on a joint declaration of intentions that was released on September 19, 2005. The declaration comprised of numerous linguistic minefields and was a reflection of the mutual mistrust between the major negotiating parties.
It was as a result of these many misunderstandings that overshadowed the talks and resulted in the US officials backing out of their promise of help in peaceful use of nuclear energy. Dr. Quinones was also cited as saying that “the track record of the current administration is not one of diplomacy, but rather one of vacillation, inconsistency, and ultimately the undercutting of the position and the efforts of its own diplomats. ” South Korea’s Policy through different regimes
Since 1991, South Korea has adopted a policy of flexibility and reconciliation towards North Korea giving rise to bilateral relations that are getting better over the years. In 1991, President Roh Tae Woo of South Korea declared a unilateral Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, under which he promised not to produce, possess, store, deploy, or use nuclear weapons. Following it, a high level meeting took place between the two countries in which they both declared a complete denuclearization and inspections for verification.
In 1998, President Kin Dae Jung came up with his Sunshine Policy that declared that South Korea will build its relations with North Korea upon peace and harmony. While the policy foresaw no unification in the near future, it nonetheless envisioned a peaceful co-existence and unification when the hurdles of rivalry were removed. The South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun also rejected US suggestions of curtailing the Sunshine Policy and warned the US against any “accidental war” showing solidarity for North Korea.
Mike Billington has argued in his article that the two Koreas are bound to unite and the nuclear issue will not entangle their matters very far. It is now up to the US regime to understand the flow of events. The high points of these bilateral relations were Summit meetings such as the one that took place in 2000-01. Here the two leaders South Korean President Kim Dae Jung and North Korean Leader Kim Jong-il declared their intent for “eventual reunification” (Manyin, 4). Summit meetings such as these eventually lead analysts to believe that in the case of these two countries, eventual reunification is a great possibility.
North Korea’s Military Capabilities and its Impact North Korea initiated its nuclear program around 1962, as it planned to intensify its defence. The atomic energy research complex near Yongbyon was established during mid 1960s. North Korea and United Soviet States of Russia (USSR) had signed agreements and according to these agreements an IRT-2M research reactor was established during 1965. The fuel elements were also supplied to North Korea from 1965-1973. In 1974, North Korean scientists upgraded and modernized the IRT-2M reactor just as other countries with nuclear capabilities were doing.
This upgrading brought North Korea’s nuclear capacity up to 8 megawatts and its fuel enrichment to 80%. Before 1977, North Korea had started construction of its second nuclear reactor. North Korea signed a “Type 66” agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 1977. In lieu of this agreement the IAEA inspectors were allowed to visit and inspect the 2MW IRT-research reactor and 0. 1MW critical assembly located at Yongbyon built with the assistance of USSR. From the early 1980s North Korea focused on the practical uses of the nuclear energy and attempted to complete the nuclear weapon development system.
It began to operate facilities for uranium fabrication and conversion. Besides the 200 MW (e) nuclear reactor in Yongbyong and Taechon, North Korea built nuclear reprocessing facilities. North Korea also conducted high-explosive detonation tests. It was in 1985 that the United States officially announced that it had reports of the nuclear reactor near Yongbyong. Under international pressure at that time, DPRK became a signatory to the Non-proliferation Treaty. Under the treaty, North Korea was required to sign a document regarding the safeguards of the facilities which it refused to do.
North Korea and South Korea signed a Joint declaration on 31st December, 1991. The declaration effectively curtailed any chance for either side from plutonium reprocessing and uranium enrichment. There were, however no progresses on the inter-Korean agreement. For two years, no real progress was made between the two sides on the agreement. In the year 1993, the joint U. S. ¬¬¬- South Korea military exercises were held and North Korea declared its intent to withdraw from the NPT. It also refused to allow the IAEA team to visit two nuclear waste sites.
The tensions escalated after these events. A series of talks between North Korea and United States over the next two years resulted in the signing of the “Agreed Framework” in Geneve on 21st October 1994. According to the agreement North Korea agreed to freeze it nuclear program and have enhanced security from the IAEA personnel. It was agreed that North Korea’s graphite-moderated reactors will be replaced with Light-water power plants. Full normalization of economic and political relations was aimed at. That the Korean peninsula would be made a nuclear free zone was also agreed upon.
It was decided that both sides would work to strengthen the nuclear proliferation-free regime. In August 2002, the U. S. government renewed the pressure on North Korea to allow the IAEA inspectors to visit the nuclear reactors and to let them inspect how much plutonium North Korea had produced. With ups and downs in the relationship between the two countries, it was in 2002, that American President George Bush decided to halt the shipment of heavy fuel oil to North Korea. Eight days after this announcement by the President North Korea declared that the 1994 agreement with the United States had collapsed.
The Six-party talks started in August 2003 as the United States was not interested in bilateral talks after the failure of the Agreed Framework. The talks included North Korea, South Korea, China, Russia, Japan and United States. Thus the diplomatic initiatives to prevent North Korea from carrying out nuclear explosions continued. Second and third round of six-party talks were held in early 2004; but in February 2005 DPRK after declaring possession of nuclear weapons, boycotted the six-party talks.
On 5th July, 2006 North Korea fires seven missiles into the sea of Japan and consequently UN security councils imposes sanctions on North Korea. After refusing to engage in nuclear talks and claiming to have tested a nuclear weapon in October 2006, North Korea finally agrees to give up on its nuclear program. During May 2008 North Korea briefed America regarding the its reactor at Yongbyon, and provided critical information. Due to these and other positive steps taken by the North Korean Government President Bush of USA announced on 26th June 2008: First, I’m issuing a proclamation that lifts the provisions of the Trading with the Enemy Act with respect to North Korea. “And secondly, I am notifying Congress of my intent to rescind North Korea’s designation as a state sponsor of terror in 45 days. ” Policy Options of America for North Korea Bush administration has recently declared that it no longer counts North Korea amongst the nations and countries spreading terrorism. It should be noted that earlier hard and inflexible stances led to the situation where North Korea felt compelled to demonstrate its nuclear capabilities and missile technology.
Comparing between the two administrations of US that dealt with the North Korean nuclear issue, the conclusion can be easily reached that although all great powers tried their utmost to stop the country from going nuclear, they could not bring it about. Although being flexible might be what was termed as rewarding bad behavior but that is the diplomatic way. Keeping a tough stance might result in unfortunate events such as war, which if it takes place now, will not effect only the Korean peninsula but the whole region, affecting global crisis.
Courtney from Study Moose