The March 23 editorial “Give North Korea the Iran treatment” continued the general practice of claiming that North Korea failed to fulfill its commitments, when it was the United States that failed to do so in the two most promising negotiations to stop the North Korean nuclear weapons program.
The 1994 Agreed Framework successfully suspended production of plutonium by North Korea. The United States, however, was delinquent in deliveries of fuel oil and years late in beginning construction on two promised light-water reactors and normalizing economic and political relations. The agreement was terminated in 2003.
The United States agreed in September 2005 to a Statement of Principles providing for phased steps of “commitment for commitment, action for action.” Negotiations finally moved into Phase II in October 2007 with North Korea fulfilling its commitments, including submission of an extensive record of its past nuclear activities and dramatically blowing up the cooling tower on its reactor. There was no provision for verification of the North Korea report, anticipated for Phase III. Nevertheless, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a June 2008 speech demanded an immediate agreement on arrangements to verify the statements in the North Korean report as a precondition for the United States fulfilling its Phase II commitments to delist North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism and relax trade sanctions. This was the beginning of the end of these negotiations.
Responsible negotiations haven’t been tried.
Robert Gibbins Gard Jr., Arlington
The writer is a member of the National Advisory
Board for the Center for Arms Control