Council Rebukes North Korea: US needs viable diplomatic strategy as the DPRK threatens to test a nuclear weapon

Statement by Senator Gary Hart, Chairman, and Jerome Grossman, Chairman Emeritus

Washington, D.C. -- Council for a Livable World rebukes North Korea for threatening to conduct a nuclear weapons test.

After several weeks of international suspicion that North Korea was preparing an underground nuclear test, North Korea officially announced on October 3, 2006 that it was in fact planning to test a nuclear weapon.

North Korea’s recent long-range missile test and its new threat jeopardize peace and security in North Asia and could create a regional spiral of proliferating nuclear weapons.

The heightened urgency of dealing with North Korea’s nuclear weapons stems from the concern that North Korea has threatened to sell bomb-grade material to terrorists or a country hostile to the United States.

In addition, North Korea continues to produce bomb-grade material at the rate of one bomb per year (which could increase to ten bombs per year once North Korea starts its new reactor) and continues work on its missile program.

At the same time, Council for a Livable World urges the Bush Administration to pursue a more effective and viable plan to engage North Korea in negotiations that will lead to North Korea abandoning its nuclear weapons and missile programs.

Although US Special Envoy on North Korea Chris Hill offered direct talks to the North Koreans last month, the Administration has squandered important opportunities to deal effectively with North Korea’s nuclear weapon program. Focusing on form over substance, the Administration has long insisted on negotiating with North Korea only on the context of the six-party talks (with China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea), refusing to negotiate with North Korea directly.

In addition, the Administration continues to link the need to address the problem of North Korea’s abysmal human rights record to negotiations on North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

This strategy has failed to make Americans safer from the North Korean nuclear threat, instead allowing North Korea to produce in the last several years enough material for about ten nuclear weapons.

It is time for North Korea to refrain from provocative steps and for the United States to put forward a serious proposal that would include a non-aggression pact, a promise not to threaten the North Korean regime, as well as economic and energy incentives, in exchange for North Korea verifiably dismantling its nuclear weapon program and rejoining the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The United States must not allow its diplomatic effort to lapse despite North Korea’s provocative act.