US - Korea

Jul — Sep 2005
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A Breakthrough at the Six-Party Talks

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Donald G. Gross
The Atlantic Council of the United States

For the first time in more than two years, diplomats at the Six-Party Talks made significant progress this quarter on the nuclear issue with North Korea. In a joint statement of principles, Pyongyang committed itself to “abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning at an early date to the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.”

In return, North Korea received security assurances, a U.S. and Japanese promise to take steps toward normalization of relations, a South Korean offer of 2 million kilowatts of electricity, and a commitment to implement the agreement sequentially on a reciprocal basis. In the Chinese-brokered joint statement, the United States and North Korea further agreed to discuss Pyongyang’s right to develop peaceful nuclear energy and its demand for light-water reactors at a future meeting.

Importantly, the agreement also gave impetus to negotiating a permanent peace regime for the Korean Peninsula and establishing a system for multilateral security cooperation in Northeast Asia.  The parties decided to conduct another round of the Six-Party Talks in November 2005 to discuss detailed arrangements for verifying and implementing the joint statement.

Their successful meeting came after more than a year-long impasse in the talks. North Korea agreed to resume the negotiations July 9, following a meeting in Beijing where the U.S. envoy to the Six-Party Talks, Ambassador Christopher Hill, conveyed several desired assurances to Pyongyang.

Despite political pressure that arose after the London terrorist bombings in July to withdraw South Korean forces from Iraq, South Korea appeared to lay the groundwork this quarter to extend its troop deployment into 2006.  Without an extension, the National Assembly’s mandate for the forces in Iraq will expire at the end of November.

U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman announced in early September that the U.S. would decide by the end of the year whether to launch a negotiation for a U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement.  He said Washington’s decision would hinge on Seoul’s willingness to resolve several outstanding trade issues, including South Korea’s “screen quota” on showings of Hollywood movies and its import ban on U.S. beef.  At the end of the quarter, South Korea was reportedly reassessing its refusal to meet U.S. demands on those issues.

North Korea returns to the Six-Party Talks

The impasse in the Six-Party Talks came to an end July 9 when Ambassador Hill conveyed several assurances to North Korean Ambassador Kim Gye-gwan at a bilateral meeting in Beijing. According to the DPRK’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), “the U.S. side clarified its official stand to recognize the DPRK as a sovereign state, not to invade it and hold bilateral talks within the framework of the Six-Party Talks…The DPRK side interpreted the U.S. side’s expression of its stand as a retraction of its remark designating the former as an ‘outpost of tyranny’ and decided to return to the Six-Party Talks.”

Since all the noted U.S. assurances were delivered at least six months earlier through either public statements or the so-called “New York channel,” Pyongyang’s decision to rejoin the talks seemed to hinge on three factors: 1) Ambassador Hill’s appointment, coupled with his willingness to meet the North Korean ambassador one-on-one in Beijing; 2) South Korea’s offer of massive assistance to North Korea, conveyed effectively and directly by Unification Minister Chung Dong-young to Kim Jong-Il in June; and 3) China’s decision to postpone the sought-after visit of President Hu Jintao to Pyongyang until after North Korea returned to the Six-Party Talks.

Among these three factors, Ambassador Hill’s qualifications and capabilities for negotiating a nuclear agreement with North Korea received the least public notice.  A professional diplomat of long-standing, Hill is a veteran of peace negotiations in both Bosnia and Kosovo, where he acquired critical experience dealing with intractable political disputes. As importantly, Hill has the full support of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who in turn is close to President George W. Bush.

For the first time in five years, the U.S. negotiator with North Korea can now speak with the full authority of the U.S administration, without being caught in the factional warfare between moderates in the State Department and hardliners in the White House.  (John Bolton, the most powerful conservative in the State Department during the tenure of Secretary of State Colin Powell, now serves as U.S. representative to the United Nations after receiving a recess appointment from President Bush.)

Following North Korea’s announcement of its decision to return to the Six-Party Talks, Secretary Rice said it was “a very good step but only a first step.  We look forward to a strategic decision by the North Koreans to abandon their nuclear weapons.” Most importantly, Rice emphasized that the starting point for the new round of negotiations was exactly where the parties had left off at their last meeting more than a year earlier:  “But let me just remind everybody that what is on the table is essentially what was on the table in June of 2004.”

Under the June 2004 proposal, North Korea would commit to dismantling its nuclear weapons program in exchange for immediate energy assistance from China, South Korea, and Japan. At the time Pyongyang made this commitment, Washington would give North Korea a “provisional security guarantee” not to attack it and not to seek a change in its regime. The U.S. would also begin direct bilateral talks with North Korea aimed at lifting the remaining economic sanctions and removing North Korea from the list of countries that support terrorism.

Under the June 2004 U.S. proposal, North Korea would then have three months for a “preparatory period of dismantlement” to freeze its nuclear program by shutting down and sealing its facilities. After the three-month period, continuation of energy assistance and provision of a more enduring security assurance would depend on North Korea meeting specific deadlines for declaring completely its nuclear programs, shipping nuclear materials out of the country, and admitting international inspectors. Additional incentives that could be negotiated at this point would include assistance to North Korea to develop “safe energy” sources and an agreement to normalize diplomatic relations with the U.S. and Japan.

Seoul’s proposals on electricity and diplomatic modalities

Prior to the opening of the new round of Six-Party Talks on July 26, South Korea made two significant proposals, one substantive and the other procedural, that were intended to move the negotiations in a positive direction.  Unification Minister Chung announced that South Korea would provide annually to North Korea 2 million kilowatts of electricity if it agreed to dismantle its nuclear program. The electricity would be the equivalent of the energy Pyongyang expected to derive from the two light-water reactors it was suppose to receive under the 1994 Geneva Agreement. Secretary Rice welcomed the South Korean proposal, saying it could meet North Korea’s energy needs without entailing any “proliferation risk.” The Bush administration feared that North Korea could obtain fissile materials from the light-water reactors to build nuclear weapons.

Procedurally, Unification Minister Chung proposed that the upcoming round of talks should be extended for as long as it would take to reach an agreement. On a radio program, he said “Okay! Let’s grapple with this problem for a whole month!  If all the nations come to the Six-Party Talks with this attitude, we can surely resolve the problem.” Chung objected to the prior practice of meeting for several days and then adjourning without significant progress.

After Chung offered his energy proposal, some South Korean energy experts expressed skepticism about the plan, saying South Korea lacked sufficient information about North Korea’s power distribution system and could not properly calculate the cost of supplying massive amounts of electricity.  They also underscored the risk of simultaneous electric power blackouts in the two countries, given current inadequacies in technology.

Former Unification Minister Park Jae-kyu argued that North Korea’s military would resist the electricity aid for fear that South Korea could cut it off any time it chose.  He predicted that North Korea would instead ask South Korea to build conventional power plants that would come under full North Korean control.

Issues on the table in the new round of talks

After opening on July 26, the new round of Six-Party Talks stretched 13 days until its adjournment for a planned three-week recess, Aug. 7. Among the key elements in the talks, as reported publicly, were:

  • North Korea stated it seeks the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
  • North Korea was willing to “verifiably” end its nuclear weapons program if the U.S. removes its “nuclear threat,” withdraws its “hostile policy” to bring down the North Korean regime, and normalizes relations with Pyongyang. To this end, the U.S. should withdraw its “nuclear umbrella” from South Korea.
  • North Korea said it seeks “mutual verification” allowing North Korean inspections of South Korean facilities and U.S. bases in South Korea to ensure the U.S. does not maintain any nuclear weapons there.
  • North Korea will return to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) once outstanding nuclear issues are resolved.
  • South Korea requested that the Japanese delegation not raise the issue of North Korea’s past abduction of Japanese nationals in the 1970s and 1980s.
  • The U.S. met with the North Korean delegation for direct bilateral discussions on five separate occasions.
  • According to Ambassador Hill, the U.S. is “prepared to address the DPRK’s energy needs.” (This statement represented a change of position from the June 2004 round when the U.S. declined to provide energy assistance to North Korea.)
  • The U.S. “will undertake to normalize relations” with North Korea if it dismantles all existing nuclear weapons programs in an effective and verifiable manner.
  • Ambassador Hill referred respectfully to Kim Jong-il as “chairman” of the National Defense Commission.

Toward the end of this session of talks, a principal sticking point emerged that prevented agreement on a joint statement concerning the very issue that caused an impasse at the June 2004 round – whether North Korea would retain a “right” to develop peaceful nuclear energy after giving up its nuclear weapons programs.

North Korea argued that it had a sovereign right to pursue peaceful energy programs, as guaranteed to any state that agrees not to develop nuclear weapons under the NPT.  Having asserted this right, the North Korean representative insisted that his country was therefore entitled to obtain light-water reactors.  For its part, the U.S. was unwilling to concede even Pyongyang’s right to peaceful nuclear energy under the NPT, expressing suspicion that Pyongyang would once again engage in developing nuclear weapons under cover of a “peaceful” program. As for a light-water reactor, Ambassador Hill said “it is simply not on the table.”

One day before the talks adjourned, North Korea made a new critical demand that the U.S. negotiate a peace agreement formally ending the Korean War as part of a nuclear accord on the Korean Peninsula.  In a commentary, the state-controlled North Korean newspaper Rodong Shinmun said “Replacing the armistice agreement with a peace treaty is an urgent issue, which North Korea and the United States should immediately address to resolve the nuclear problem in a fair manner.”

U.S. diplomats did not object to the idea of pursuing a peace agreement, but worked to ensure that it would occur as the fruit of successful nuclear negotiation rather than bogging down the already complex nuclear talks.

U.S.-South Korean consultations on peaceful nuclear energy

During the recess in the Six-Party Talks, the U.S. and South Korea consulted closely over the “peaceful nuclear energy” issue. Unification Minister Chung publicly supported North Korea’s right to develop peaceful nuclear energy under the NPT, and Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon conveyed this South Korean view to U.S. officials in Washington.  The U.S. remained publicly noncommittal on this point, though diplomats realized it was virtually impossible to deny North Korea the right to develop peaceful nuclear energy under international law, once Pyongyang rejoins the NPT.

The initial three-week recess planned by the participants turned into a five-week recess when North Korea demanded a further delay to protest two events – a regular U.S.-South Korean military exercise of command and control systems called Ulchi Focus Lens and the appointment of Jay Lefkowitz as the new Special Envoy on Human Rights in North Korea.

Agreement on a joint statement

Once the new session of the fourth round of Six-Party Talks began Sept. 13, the questions that emerged before adjournment came front and center. North Korea’s ambassador insisted once again both on his country’s right to develop peaceful nuclear energy, and more specifically, on its demand for light-water reactors: “Light-water reactors are closely related with the issue of building trust between the relevant parties. Building trust is the kernel to the process of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula,” he said.

Not surprisingly, Ambassador Hill quickly rejected the North Korea demand for light-water reactors as a “non-starter.”  But he also cast doubt on the wisdom of the North Korean position from its own standpoint, pointing out that Seoul had offered equivalent energy of 2 million kilowatts of electricity and that constructing a reactor would be very expensive and take a long time.

On Friday, Sept. 16, China proposed a revised joint statement for the talks that contained compromise wording. That same day, a North Korean spokesman called the U.S. position “brigandish” and on Saturday, Japan’s top envoy observed that the “prospects are not at all bright.”

Over the weekend, Hill conferred with Secretary Rice by telephone and President Bush reportedly signed off on the compromise language in the Chinese proposal.  On Sunday night, Hill said he was planning to leave Beijing the following day and that it was time to “put the cards on the table.  Everyone knows each other’s positions, everyone knows the agreement, everyone can almost recite it from memory at this point, so I’m not sure we have to do too much talking.”

At Monday’s session, China’s top envoy, Wu Dawei, announced the agreement of all parties on the joint statement, calling it “the most successful outcome” since the talks began. In fact, it was the only successful outcome since the first round of six-party negotiations in August 2003.

For the first time ever, North Korea agreed to fully dismantle its nuclear weapons development program: “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning at an early date to the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons (NPT) and to IAEA safeguards.” (By contrast, in the 1994 Geneva Agreement, Pyongyang agreed only to freeze its nuclear activities). Importantly, the language on “existing nuclear programs” covered the suspected uranium enrichment program which North Korea has refused to acknowledge.

In return, North Korea received:

  • Assurances that the U.S. has no nuclear weapons in Korea and no intention to attack North Korea;
  • South Korea’s commitment not to receive or deploy nuclear weapons in Korea pursuant to its 1992 Joint Declaration;
  • A U.S. commitment to respect North Korea’s sovereignty and to take steps to normalize relations with Pyongyang;
  • A promise that Japan would take steps to normalize relations;
  • The promise of all the other countries to promote economic cooperation with North Korea;
  • South Korea’s reaffirmation of its offer to provide 2 million kilowatts of electricity to North Korea; and
  • A commitment to observe North Korea’s preferred principle of “commitment for commitment, action for action” as a method of implementing the joint statement.

With the exception of the South Korean offer of electricity, which Seoul announced in July, the other quid pro quos had been on the table for a considerable time.

The final joint statement brokered by China finessed the two most difficult disputes in the talks – whether North Korea had a “right” to develop peaceful nuclear energy and whether it deserved light-water reactors in return for dismantling its nuclear weapons program.  The joint statement said on these points:  “The DPRK stated that it has the right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.  The other parties expressed their respect and agreed to discuss at an appropriate time the subject of the provision of light-water reactor to the DPRK.”

With this language, the U.S. fell back from its original position by agreeing to discuss the light-water reactor issue at an unspecified “appropriate time” in the future, but without acknowledging that North Korea had a definitive right to develop peaceful nuclear energy. For its part, North Korea compromised by withdrawing its insistence that the joint statement of principles had to guarantee one or more light-water reactors in exchange for dismantling its nuclear weapons program.

From a historical perspective, two issues referenced in the joint statement may well be seen as important milestones, although they do not bear directly on the nuclear issue.  According to the statement:

  • “Committed to joint efforts for lasting peace and stability in northeast Asia, the directly related parties will negotiate a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula at an appropriate separate forum”; and
  • “The six parties agreed to explore ways and means for promoting security cooperation in northeast Asia.”

The first point sketches an initial roadmap to a peace treaty that would replace the 1953 Armistice and conceivably provide for mutual reductions of conventional forces as well as other critical arms control measures. The second point endorses the concept of a multilateral security forum for Northeast Asia that scholars such as former U.S. Ambassador James Goodby have argued is essential to ensure future stability and cooperation in the region.

Following announcement of the agreed joint statement, U.S. officials praised the diplomatic achievement but focused on the importance of its full implementation at the next scheduled negotiating round in November 2005. Ambassador Hill called it a “turning point,” but noted “we expect the DPRK to move promptly on this.” He suggested that a good way for North Korea to begin implementation would be to shut down its Yongbyon reactor. President Bush called the agreement a “positive step.” He said:  “Now there’s a way forward. And part of the way forward is for the North Koreans to understand that we’re serious about this and that we expect there to be a verifiable process.”

A day after agreeing to the joint statement, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry back-tracked to the position it held before accepting compromise language: “The U.S. should not even dream of the issue of [North Korea’s] dismantlement of its nuclear deterrent before providing [light-water reactors], a physical guarantee for confidence-building.”

Secretary Rice brushed off this comment carried by KCNA, saying “I think we will not get hung up on this statement. We will stick to the text of the Beijing statement, and I believe we can make progress if everybody sticks to what was actually agreed to.”

For his part, South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in a telephone conversation expressed gratitude to President Bush for U.S. negotiating flexibility. He told his Cabinet,  “Now we’ve found a clue to the ultimate solution of the nuclear problem…I’m optimistic about the future situation…It feels like we’ve just loaded a cart with the burden that had been placed on our shoulders.”

South Korea’s deployment of troops to Iraq

After the London terrorist bombings in July, President Roh came under political pressure from members of the National Assembly – in the ruling and opposition parties – to withdraw the 3,200 troops South Korea has deployed to Iraq in support of the U.S.-led coalition.  The politicians argued that the troops had become increasingly vulnerable and their deployment was “meaningless” in light of the January election in Iraq that successfully established a new democratic government.

Since December 2004, Korean troops in the so-called Zaytun Unit have mainly carried out reconstruction of infrastructure in and around the city of Irbil in the Kurdish-controlled section of northern Iraq. The National Assembly approved a deployment period of one year.

President Roh told journalists after the London bombings that he objected to an early withdrawal of Korean troops and stated the criteria he would use to decide whether to extend them: “We will consider not only relations with the U.S., but with Iraq. We are trying hard to find a way to end the troop dispatch without disappointing our allies.”

By early September, it appeared the South Korean Defense Ministry was laying the groundwork for continuing deployment of the Zaytun Unit for an additional year.  The ministry began forming a new contingent of troops that it plans to rotate to Iraq by mid-December.  The move was consistent with Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung’s previous testimony in the National Assembly that “I believe Iraq needs the multinational force until the middle of next year [2006], when it can secure its own security forces and military.”

 Trade issues

U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman revealed in early September that the U.S. would decide by the end of the year whether to initiate full-scale negotiations with South Korea on a free trade agreement (FTA). Although Washington and Seoul held preliminary procedural discussions on a FTA in February and March, the U.S. has sought concessions from South Korea on several outstanding trade disputes before agreeing to go any further.

Trade officials in Seoul are reportedly reassessing their previous refusals to meet U.S. demands on ending the South Korean “screen quota” (which limits the showing of Hollywood movies), removing South Korea’s import ban on U.S. beef (due to the fear of mad cow disease), or further liberalizing its automobile sector.

Seoul was prepared in the early summer to remove the restrictions it originally imposed in 2003 after the first announced case of mad cow disease in the U.S.  But a second case in June allowed the domestic beef lobby to assert that U.S. beef was not safe. Since that time, South Korean officials have dragged their feet on the issue, saying they have not yet received from the U.S. the information they need to make a decision. A senior South Korean Ministry of Agriculture official, Kim Chang-sup, said in mid-August that it “may take several more months” to obtain and evaluate the requisite U.S. data on the safety of U.S. beef.

In late July, South Korea joined a new climate treaty, promoted by the U.S., to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S. has pushed this alternative to the Kyoto Protocol because it objects to the Kyoto requirement of cutting emissions by 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by the period of 2008-2012.  The new climate treaty does not put a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and instead focuses on developing new technology to eliminate their pernicious effect. In addition to the U.S. and South Korea, Australia, India, China, and Japan have supported the alternative pact.

Resignation of Korean ambassador to the United States

A South Korean political scandal led to the late July resignation of South Korea’s ambassador to the U.S., Hong Seok-hyun after serving only five months.  A secret recording by South Korea’s intelligence service, released to the media, revealed that Hong was deeply involved in illicitly delivering millions of dollars from the Samsung Corporation to a candidate for president in 1997.  Hong is the brother-in-law of Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee.

In accepting the resignation of Hong, who was vice president of the JoongAng Ilbo, a major South Korean newspaper prior to his ambassadorial appointment, President Roh said that Hong “performed his job very well at an important time” and would remain in place until his successor arrives in Washington.

Appointment of U.S. special envoy for human rights

The appointment of former Bush administration official Jay Lefkowitz as special envoy for human rights in North Korea stirred controversy this quarter. Lefkowitz, a New York-based lawyer, in late August took up the part-time post established under the North Korea Human Rights Act that President Bush signed into law last fall. The “central objective” of the envoy, according to the act, is “to coordinate and promote efforts to improve respect for the fundamental human rights of the people of North Korea.”

Even before the appointment of the new envoy, South Korea’s chief delegate to the Six-Party Talks, Song Min-soon, stridently asserted in late July that  “the human rights issue is not and cannot be an agenda item” for the nuclear negotiations.  By contrast, a U.S. State Department spokesman said that “one cannot fail to speak out about [human rights]. And so it will always be an element of our approach to the issue of North Korea.”

Beneath the sharply differing statements lay Seoul’s anxiety that raising human rights with North Korea at this juncture would derail the Six-Party Talks, which contrasted with the strongly held U.S. view that Pyongyang should not escape sanction for its torture and detention of hundreds of thousands of dissidents.  South Korea’s fears were borne out to some extent when Pyongyang declared a delay in returning to the Six-Party Talks during August in part because of the human rights envoy’s appointment.

Lefkowitz got off to a bad start when he announced that the U.S. and its allies needed to consider “all different aspects” of their relationship with North Korea as means of bringing pressure against the communist regime. His remarks were immediately interpreted as suggesting that U.S. humanitarian relief to North Korea, especially food aid, could be linked to Pyongyang’s human rights record. A day later, Secretary Rice contradicted the special envoy when she said that the U.S. never engages in such linkage:  “Our policy is that we don’t use food as a weapon.”


Although the joint statement at the Six-Party Talks remains to be implemented, its critical importance should not be underestimated. Instead of continuing a negotiating impasse that could easily spiral downward to political and even military confrontation, diplomats achieved an agreement that had eluded them for more than two years.

The significance of the recent negotiating round is evident from the more mature position taken by key parties to the negotiation. China acted as a broker in pushing both North Korea and the U.S. to reach a tentative compromise on the difficult issue of peaceful nuclear energy. The U.S. was willing to back away from some strongly held political views to move the negotiation forward. South Korea provided the generous offer of 2 million kilowatts of electricity as a major quid pro quo.  And not least, North Korea acquiesced in the demand to dismantle all its nuclear weapons programs, albeit kicking and shouting every step along the way (even after the negotiation ended).

This evolved process for achieving agreement as well as the parties’ more moderate approach to the negotiation is cause for optimism, even though a follow-on agreement concerning implementation remains to be reached. It is likely the U.S. would agree to North Korea’s right to develop peaceful nuclear energy once it rejoins the NPT (inasmuch as this “right” is central to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty). So long as neither the U.S. nor any other party is obligated actually to provide a light-water reactor to North Korea, they could even agree on carrying out a feasibility study for light-water reactors or other North Korean peaceful nuclear energy activities while Pyongyang is dismantling its nuclear program. Practically speaking, the cost of providing both 2 million kilowatts of electricity and light-water reactors would be prohibitive for South Korea.  Seoul will no doubt make this fact clear to Pyongyang.

Ultimately, the diplomatic achievement at the recent round of Six-Party Talks comes down to this: the negotiators agreed on all they possibly could and put off the rest for future discussions. Instead of presiding over an ominous breakdown in negotiations, they proceeded down the path of dispute resolution.  No doubt their agreement on “principles” will acquire a political momentum of its own and pressure the parties to avoid a negotiating failure at the upcoming November round.

Chronology of US - Korea Relations

July — September 2005

July 8, 2005: At a Beijing meeting, North Korean Ambassador Kim Gye-gwan informs U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill that the DPRK will return to the Six-Party Talks.

July 10, 2005: Unification Minister Chung says North Korea has a right to develop peaceful nuclear energy under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

July 11, 2005: ROK representative to the Six-Party Talks Song Min-soon urges the U.S. to remove security threats to North Korea that allegedly underlie its nuclear weapons program.

July 13, 2005: Secretary Rice in Seoul welcomes South Korean proposal to provide North Korea with 2 million kilowatts of electricity.

July 17, 2005: President Roh says the U.S. “holds the key” to the success of the Six-Party Talks.

July 21, 2005: Song Min-soon says the “human rights issue is not on the table” in the negotiations.

July 25, 2005: President Roh accepts resignation of Ambassador to the U.S. Hong due to Hong’s involvement in an election scandal; prior to opening of Six-Party Talks, U.S. and North Korean delegations hold an informal bilateral meeting.

July 26, 2005: Fourth round of the Six-Party Talks opens in Beijing.

July 31, 2005: North Korean Foreign Minister Paek says Pyongyang will rejoin the NPT after the nuclear issue is resolved.

Aug. 4, 2005: In a press conference, North Korean negotiator Kim Gye-gwan says “only one country” opposes North Korea’s right to develop peaceful nuclear energy.

Aug. 6, 2005: North Korea calls for a peace treaty with the U.S. to replace the 1953 ceasefire agreement.

Aug. 7, 2005: Six-Party Talks are adjourned for several weeks without adopting a final statement.

Aug. 11, 2005: Unification Minister Chung says North Korea should be permitted to have peaceful nuclear energy if it gives up its nuclear weapons program.

Aug. 20, 2005: Bush administration appoints Jay Lefkowitz as special envoy for human rights to North Korea.

Aug. 22, 2005: U.S. official Joseph DeTrani contacts North Korean officials for the third time in a week on Six-Party Talks issues; U.S. and ROK forces begin command and control military exercise called Ulchi Focus Lens.

Aug. 23, 2005: ROK FM Ban Ki-moon conducts meetings in Washington and reportedly achieves “consensus” with U.S. diplomats on DPRK’s peaceful nuclear energy use issue.

Aug. 30-Sept. 3, 2005: U.S. Congressmen Jim Leach and Tom Lantos travel to Pyongyang and surrounding areas.

Sept. 3, 2005: North Korean Red Cross expresses sympathy for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Sept. 4, 2005: South Korea pledges $30 million in humanitarian assistance for victims of Katrina; North Korean officials tell U.S. congressmen that Pyongyang intends to keep a peaceful nuclear energy capability.

Sept. 6, 2005: Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea Lefkowitz’s tenure begins.

Sept. 9, 2005: Contradicting Special Envoy Lefkowitz, Secretary Rice says the U.S. does not use humanitarian aid as a political weapon, as a matter of policy.

Sept. 13, 2005: Six-Party Talks resume in Beijing as North Korean envoy Kim Gye-gwan asserts both a right to develop peaceful nuclear energy and a demand for a new light-water reactor (LWR).

Sept. 14, 2005: Ambassador Hill says the U.S. would like to negotiate a peace treaty for the Korean Peninsula if the Six-Party Talks succeed.

Sept. 15, 2005: Hill rejects the DPRK’s demand for a LWR as a “non-starter.”

Sept. 19, 2005: The six parties issue a joint statement, based on a Chinese draft, in which North Korea pledges to dismantle its nuclear program and return to the NPT. The U.S. agrees to discuss in the future providing LWRs to North Korea.

Sept. 20, 2005: North Korea declares it will return to the NPT only after receiving a light-water reactor from the U.S.

Sept. 28: 2005: Asst. Sec. Hill says the next thing DPRK needs to do is to tell where its nuclear arms facilities are, noting there could be trouble ahead if DPRK refuses to admit to a uranium enrichment program in the next round of talks.