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The North Korean Nuclear Crisis Essay

4138 words - 17 pages

The Nuclear Crisis of 1993

The question of a nuclear North Korea has roots dating back to the 1980's. Initial concerns arose in the mid-1980's, with intelligence reports proposing the potential for North Korean nuclear ambitions. Reports cite the construction of a nuclear reactor capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium . The reactor in question, located in Yongbyon, was the focus of the first North Korean nuclear crisis in 1993. The Clinton administration proceeded with diplomatic efforts, forging an agreement by 1994 that effectually ended the crisis. Under the Agreed Framework, North Korea agreed to: (1) halt operation and construction of nuclear reactors, (2) freeze ...view middle of the document...

North Korea?s Cause for Concern

The crisis has been largely framed as a bilateral dispute between the United States and North Korea. North Korea has repeatedly defended their nuclear weapons program, by claiming the need for ?nuclear deterrence? is a result of the United State?s ?hostile policy.? Pyongyang?s cause for concern can be seen upon consideration of the noticeable shift in US policy that took place when the Bush Administration took office.

In reaction to the North Korea-Japan controversy in August 1998, when North Korea test-fired a missile over the main island of Japan, President Clinton sent Former Secretary of Defense, William Perry, to Pyongyang to deliver a US disarmament proposal. By September 1999, North Korea had agreed to stop conducting long-range missile tests, and, in turn, President Clinton eased economic sanctions on the country. The situation is used as an example of the Clinton administration?s approach to dealing with North Korea ?a willingness to engage in dialogue that was presumably perceived by North Korea as a necessary step towards normalizing relations with the United States.

The Bush Administration sought to make their policy towards North Korea clear, even before taking office, as the foreign policy team ?blasted the Clinton Administration for being soft on Pyongyang ? during the presidential campaign. North Korea?s disapproval of the new hard-line approach was made clear soon after the Bush Administration took office, with Pyongyang threatening to reconsider the freeze on long-range missile testing previously mentioned .

In contradiction to Secretary of State, Colon Powell?s assertions that the new Administration would be picking up where Clinton left off in relation to North Korea, President Bush set the new tone for dealing with North Korea, in March 2001, after visiting with South Korean President Kim Dae Jung. In a press conference, President Bush essentially condemned North Korean leader Kim Jong Il as untrustworthy, questioning whether Pyongyang was ?keeping all terms of all agreements. ? The President told reporters that he ?look[s] forward to, at some point in the future, having a dialogue with the North Koreans, but that any negotiation would require complete verification of the terms of a potential agreement. ?

Pyongyang reacted to Bush?s statements by canceling scheduled meetings with South Korean officials, and claiming that the Bush Administration was attempting to disrupt dialogue between North and South Korea . It was in this instance that North Korea initially described Washington?s policies as ?hostile? ? the claim that would later be the basis on which the country?s nuclear weapons program would be defended.

US-North Korea tensions steadily mounted during 2002, as the Bush Administration applied pressure on the country through a number of different means. On January 29, 2002, President Bush delivered the State of the Union Speech in which he labeled North Korea...

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