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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs > Releases > Remarks > 2002 East Asian and Pacific Affairs Remarks, Testimony, and Speeches

North Korea's Nuclear Program: Light Water Reactor Project

Charles L. Pritchard, U.S. Representative to KEDO
Remarks at KEDO Concrete Pouring Ceremony
Kumho, North Korea
August 7, 2002

As U.S. representative to KEDO, I congratulate the KEDO partner countries and the hundreds of workers from KEPCO, Uzbekistan, and the DPRK who have brought us to this important new phase in the construction of the light water reactor project under the Agreed Framework.

The Agreed Framework has been a key component of US-North Korea policy. When we agreed to the terms of the Agreed Framework, we did so with the full expectation that all aspects of our concerns over North Korea's nuclear program would be resolved finally and completely. As Administration officials have stated many times, the United States will continue to abide by the terms of this accord so long as North Korea does the same; we expect the DPRK to abide by the fact and the spirit of the agreement.

Under the Agreed Framework, the United States agreed to organize an international consortium to finance and construct the LWR project, and to supply 500,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil per year to the DPRK.

Shortly after the Framework was signed, KEDO was created and since 1995, the United States and our allies have spent over $1.3 billion to finance reactor construction and to provide 500,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil annually to the North in accordance with our commitments.

Today’s ceremony is a tangible demonstration that the United States and our KEDO partners are meeting those commitments. It is hard evidence of the seriousness with which the United States and KEDO partners have treated our obligations under this project and the Agreed Framework. In short, the United States and our KEDO partners have kept our end of the bargain. We expect the DPRK to do the same.

It is time for us to see the same kind of tangible progress by the DPRK in meeting its commitments under the Agreed Framework. Those commitments are to cooperate with the IAEA and to come into compliance with the NPT. The path is clear, and the schedule is demanding. Under the schedule recently provided to the DPRK, KEDO is on course to complete a significant portion of the project and deliver key nuclear components in mid-2005, before which the DPRK is obligated to come into full compliance with its IAEA safeguards agreement, including taking all steps that may be deemed necessary by the IAEA. The IAEA believes that with full cooperation from the DPRK it will take at least 3-4 years to verify the completeness and correctness of North Korea’s initial safeguards declaration. That means the DPRK must start meaningful cooperation now with the IAEA and to comply with its other obligations under the Agreed Framework.

This is essential for the health of the project. It makes no sense, for KEDO or for the DPRK, to push forward to completion of a significant portion of the first reactor just to stop work for years as the DPRK only then begins to deliver on their safeguards obligations.

The success of the LWR project and the Agreed Framework ultimately hinges on the choices North Korea makes, including whether to cooperate with the IAEA, now, not later. The challenge for the DPRK is to see the tangible progress that this concrete pouring ceremony represents, to do the math on achieving project milestones, and to move expeditiously to match its cooperation with the IAEA with the same intensity and on the same schedule.

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