Wall Street Journal
April 1, 2015
By the nuclear compliance standards of Barack
Obama and John
Kerry, North Korea was a model state—in 1992. In 1985, North Korea joined
the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. In 1992 it and South
Korea jointly declared the “denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula. North
Korea next signed a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy
Agency. Within months, the IAEA reported “inconsistencies” in North
Korea’s nuclear program.
What follows is a quarter-century summary of
arms negotiations with North Korea, based on the chronology
assembled by the Arms Control Association. What happens in Lausanne
doesn’t matter. No agreement is going to stop Iran. Agreements, and a lot of
talk, did not stop North Korea.
After negotiations with North Korea (shortened
here to “NK”)—and after the CIA reports that NK has separated enough
plutonium for one or two nuclear weapons—the U.S. and NK in 1994 sign the
Agreed Framework in Geneva. With NK promising to eliminate its ability to
produce nuclear weapons, the Agreed Framework is hailed as a major diplomatic
triumph for the Clinton presidency.
Through 1996-97, the U.S. negotiates with NK
over ballistic-missile proliferation. On Aug. 31, 1998, NK launches the Taepo
Dong-1 missile with a range of about 1,200 miles. The missile flies over Japan.
U.S. intelligence admits “surprise” at the new third stage on the
Paekdosan-1 launch vehicle.
Nonetheless, talks are held in December over a
suspected underground nuclear factory. A U.S. inspection team visits the
facility at Kumchang-ni and finds no violation of the Agreed Framework.
In 2000, the Clinton administration relaxes
economic sanctions. Kim Jong Il tells visiting Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright he won’t test the Taepo Dong-1 long-range missile again. The seventh
round of missile talks is held in Malaysia.
In 2001, new U.S. President George W. Bush
commits to “comprehensive” talks. In October 2002, the U.S. says North Korea
has admitted it has had a secret program to enrich weapons-grade uranium. The
State Department’s Richard Boucher calls it a “serious violation” of the
North Korea then cuts the IAEA seals on its
nuclear factories, withdraws from the Non-Proliferation treaty and restarts a
nuclear reactor. Talks resume in Beijing in April 2003. North Korea says it
possesses nuclear weapons—but will dismantle its “nuclear facility” in
return for fuel oil and food.
In February 2005, NK’s foreign ministry says
again that it has produced nuclear weapons. Months later, the Koreans now say
they are willing to abandon “all nuclear weapons” and rejoin the
nonproliferation treaty. A new round of talks begin.
On July 4, 2006, North Korea fires seven
ballistic missiles, including the new, long-range Taepo Dong-2. The State
Department calls this “provocative.” U.N. Security Council Resolution 1695
condemns the Koreans.
In October, North Korea explodes a nuclear
device in an underground test. The Security Council adopts Resolution 1718.
Six-party talks resume in Beijing. North Korea says it will stop if it receives
massive shipments of fuel oil. It gets the fuel oil.
In March 2007, the U.S. agrees to North
Korea’s primary demand: that the U.S. unfreeze $25 million of its assets held
in Banco Delta Asia in Macau. In 2008 President Bush removes NK as a state
sponsor of terrorism.
In January 2009, North Korea says its
stockpile of plutonium is “already weaponized.” We are now into the Obama
That April, NK launches the Unha-2 long-range
ballistic missile, which the Security Council condemns. NK says it is no longer
“bound” by any agreements.
On May 25, 2009, North Korea conducts its
second underground nuclear test. The Security Council unanimously passes
Resolution 1874. The State Department says the U.S. wants “a bilateral
discussion with North Korea.” In November 2010, NK announces it has a
2,000-centrifuge uranium enrichment factory.
In early 2012, the Obama administration offers
to give 240,000 metric tons of food in return for “strict monitoring.” Late
that year, NK launches a long-range ballistic missile, which the Security
Council condemns, citing violations of Resolutions 1718 and 1874.
In early 2013, a monitoring group detects
activity with “explosion-like characteristics” at North Korea’s
underground test site. The Security Council passes Resolution 2094.
Last November, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov said that North Korea is ready to the resume six-party talks.
Every member of the Senate should read the
full 81-page chronology. North Korea proves, irrefutably, that the “talks”
model, absent credible measures of coercion or threat, won’t work.
Iran knows it has nuclear negotiators’
immunity: No matter how or when Iran debauches any agreement, the West,
abjectly, will request—what else?—more talks. Iran’s nuclear-bomb and
ballistic-missile programs will go forward, as North Korea’s obviously did, no
The next U.S. president has to find an
alternative to the existing nuclear negotiations model. Hillary will not. That
unavoidable job falls to her opposition.