Libmonster ID: KG-663


Doctor of Historical Sciences

Korean nuclear crisis Keywords: six-party talksNorth-East Asia, nuclear nonproliferation problemRussia's position. UN Security Council

For more than 65 years, the Korean problem - the problem of unification of the two states of the Korean Peninsula-has remained unresolved. The permanent tension on the peninsula is aggravated by the nuclear issue, which in recent years has become a serious destabilizing factor in Northeast Asia.

Over the years, the Korean people have experienced a three-year bloody war in 1950-1953, dozens of dangerous escalations, including the crisis of 1968, when North Korea captured the American reconnaissance ship "Pueblo" and held its crew for almost a year. Periodically, fierce skirmishes occurred in the area of the 38th parallel, which divides the peninsula into two parts. In 2010 alone, two major incidents occurred between Pyongyang and Seoul - the sinking of the Republic of Korea (ROK) warship Cheonan, for which the South blamed the DPRK, and the shelling of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong by the North Koreans. These events almost led to a military conflict between the Korean sides.

The problem of nuclear proliferation in the region is particularly acute today. Without a political solution to the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula, the situation with the international nuclear non-proliferation regime as a whole may become very serious.


The problem of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on the peninsula arose in the early 1970s, when the South Korean administration of President Park Jong-hee began to develop its own nuclear weapons. Then Washington quite firmly opposed the acquisition of such weapons by the Republic of Korea. Seoul was forced to comply and stopped implementing the program.

The DPRK at that time had an experimental nuclear reactor built with Soviet technical assistance and controlled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). After some time, the North Korean leadership decided to start secret work in the field of creating nuclear weapons, which noticeably intensified in the 1980s, which caused concern to the international community.

This was followed by serious international events - the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the Republic of Korea in 1990, and between China and the ROK in 1992, the disintegration of the USSR and, as a consequence, the collapse of the bipolar system of international relations. All this has weakened Pyongyang's international position.

The DPRK perceived the events with great concern, regarding them as a threat to the existing political regime. It is then that Pyongyang makes the final choice: withdraws from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and activates the implementation of the program for creating "nuclear deterrent weapons".

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This was hinted at in a statement made by North Korean Foreign Minister Kim Yong Nam during talks in Pyongyang in early September 1990 with Soviet Foreign Minister Yevgeny Shevardnadze. The Soviet minister then arrived in the DPRK in order to inform the North Korean side of Moscow's intention to normalize relations with the Republic of Korea. At the same time, the desire of the USSR to strengthen cooperation with the DPRK in every possible way was emphasized.

The reaction of the North Korean minister was very sharp. Kim Yong Nam regarded this intention of the USSR as a step leading to the consolidation of the split of Korea, the isolation of the DPRK, and the creation of a trilateral alliance of the USSR-USA-ROK in order to "overthrow the socialist system of the DPRK." Under these conditions, the North Korean Foreign Minister noted, Pyongyang will be forced to " take measures to create certain types of weapons on its own."1. This meant that North Korea was actively working on military nuclear programs.

In the early 1990s, the nuclear issue of Pyongyang became the subject of negotiations between the DPRK and the United States. Despite the very difficult relations between the two countries, they managed to sign the so-called Framework Agreement on the Settlement of the Nuclear Problem (Geneva Agreements) in October 1994. It was an important document. The implementation of its provisions could radically change the situation, lead to the elimination of the DPRK's plutonium program, and establish official relations between Pyongyang and Washington. A significant role in establishing contacts between the DPRK and the United States was played by China, which also did not want Pyongyang to become the owner of WMD.

A certain contribution to easing tensions on this issue was made by the Russian initiative put forward in March 1994, which provided for the convening of an international forum with the participation of the UN and interested states. It was this move by Moscow that prompted the Americans to seek compromises with the North Koreans at the Geneva talks. In the West and in the United States, they prefer to keep silent about the Russian proposals of 1994, which actually formed the basis of the 1994 Framework Agreement.

However, the American administration of J. R. R. TolkienPresident George W. Bush torpedoed the process of eliminating the North Korean nuclear program, went on to tighten its policy towards the DPRK, which ultimately led to North Korea's withdrawal from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the termination of the IAEA's inspection activities at the DPRK's nuclear facilities and the resumption of Pyongyang's production of weapons-grade plutonium.

As a result, the situation around the North Korean nuclear issue escalated, which forced the interested parties-the Russian Federation, China, the United States, Japan and the two Koreas - to start searching for a new political structure to resolve it. Such a framework was found, and the six-party talks began in August 2003. The new dialog format was difficult and often interrupted. The United States was in no hurry to find mutually acceptable solutions to the North Korean problem. They repeatedly imposed sanctions against various manufacturing and foreign trade companies of the DPRK under the pretext of their involvement in the military nuclear program, which led to the termination of the negotiation process.

The Japanese position was and remains a serious obstacle to the negotiations of the "six". Tokyo, not without the support of the United States, is seeking to include in the joint document being developed by the parties a clause on Japanese citizens abducted by the DPRK special services. Of course, this is a serious problem that needs to be solved. But it is quite obvious that it is not directly related to the nuclear issue, to the North Korean nuclear issue. This is nothing more than an attempt by the United States and Japan to artificially slow down the negotiation process and force Pyongyang to make new concessions.

Despite the difficulties and obstacles, the participants in the Six-Party talks eventually reached a compromise, agreed on and signed a Joint Statement on September 19, 2005. The document contains important agreements of the six countries on the main aspects of resolving the DPRK nuclear issue. In particular, the negotiators stressed that the process of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will be carried out peacefully, without the use of force. The North Korean side has committed itself to curtail its military nuclear program, return to the NPT, and allow IAEA inspectors to visit its nuclear facilities. The United States, for its part, confirmed the absence of nuclear weapons in the South of the peninsula and stated that it has no intention of attacking the DPRK.

Pyongyang has secured the inclusion of a provision on the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy in the joint document. This issue was one of the most acute during the negotiations, as Washington sought to deprive North Korea of the right to develop a peaceful nuclear program.

The six-nation Joint Statement is an important constructive step in resolving the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula. It opened up opportunities to move towards denuclearization in the area. Further developments, however, have shown that the implementation of the Geneva agreements is very, very difficult.

Americans increased pressure on North Korea, imposed new sanctions

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against her companies, they froze her accounts in the bank "Delta Asia "(Macau). Pyongyang did not remain in debt and announced the termination of negotiations "due to the hostile policy of the United States aimed at overthrowing the political regime of the DPRK"2. In early July 2006, the North Koreans backed up their bellicose statements with missile launches. And they did it just before the meeting of the "big Eight" in St. Petersburg.


By September 2006, the situation on the peninsula had sharply worsened. October 9, 2006 Pyongyang has tested a nuclear device. The reaction of the international community was solidary.

The vast majority of UN member states condemned Pyongyang. The UN Security Council adopted resolution 1718, condemning the DPRK, demanding an end to such actions and a return to the NPT. The UN Security Council imposed sanctions on the DPRK. The United States, Japan and South Korea have taken even tougher restrictive measures against North Korea. In May 2009, the DPRK conducted another test of a nuclear device. The UN Security Council reacted again, approving resolution 1874, and imposed new sanctions against Pyongyang.

Today, the situation on the Korean Peninsula remains difficult. Tensions have increased markedly since the well-known incidents in the Yellow Sea (the sinking of the frigate Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island). The six-party talks were suspended. Interested parties are trying to start the negotiation process. Intensive consultations are underway among the States participating in the six-Party talks.

During the last three visits to China in May and August 2010 and in May 2011 by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula was also discussed. The North Korean leader declared Pyongyang's "commitment to denuclearization" and expressed readiness to "engage with Beijing on the nuclear issue." 3

The Chinese side has put forward a plan to resume the six-party talks. Chinese diplomat Wu Dawei, who oversees the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, held a series of meetings in the capitals of the "six"countries. In Seoul and Pyongyang, he urged South and North Koreans to come to the negotiating table. It wasn't easy to do that. As a condition of their participation in the negotiation process, the North Koreans demanded the lifting of UN Security Council sanctions and a direct dialogue with the United States to conclude a peace treaty in exchange for the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement. The South Koreans insisted on Pyongyang's apology for the sinking of the Cheonan corvette, the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, and guarantees of non-repetition of such actions in the future.

Dawei's shuttle diplomacy ended with the development of a three-stage plan for the resumption of the six-party talks, which includes the following points: :

- Holding consultations between the DPRK and the United States;

- informal meeting of the heads of delegations of the six countries participating in the negotiations;

- holding an official round of six-party talks 4.

From the very beginning, the possibility of implementing the "Wu Dawei Plan" raised serious doubts. So, its first point is a clear concession to the North Koreans, who for many decades have been trying to establish a direct dialogue with the United States on security issues on the Korean peninsula and sign a peace treaty with them. However, it is known that Washington categorically rejects North Korean intentions and does not want to discuss all-Korean problems behind the back of its South Korean ally.

After the second incident in the Yellow Sea (the North Korean shelling of Yeonpyeong Island), the Chinese plan to resume the six-party talks was finally rejected by South Korea, the United States and Japan. Beijing has once again started active shuttle diplomacy. As a result, the following updated plan appeared::

- conducting inter-Korean consultations;

- North Korea-US dialogue;

- full-scale six-party talks.

All participants in the six-party talks agreed to the formula developed for resuming the negotiation process on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, but it is not easy to implement it in practice.

Inter-Korean contacts began in the context of the aggravation of the confrontation between the parties. Following the incidents in the Yellow Sea, South Korea has strengthened its military presence in the area, deploying advanced weapons and military equipment. The United States and South Korea conducted joint large-scale military and naval maneuvers, which caused a sharp reaction in the North. The propaganda of the DPRK and the ROK accused each other of unwillingness to conduct a constructive dialogue. In May 2011 Pyongyang and Seoul held a closed-door meeting to discuss the possibility of an inter-Korean summit. This meeting, like others, ended in failure. As a result, the DPRK decided "not to have any dealings with Lee Myung-bak and his clique."5

"Adequate" measures followed from the South Korean side. The ROK government refuses to provide food aid to the DPRK through the state line. In South Korea, extensive anti-North Korean events are held - "North Korea Freedom Week"6. With the tacit consent of the Government of the Republic of Korea, balloons are sent to the north of the peninsula with propaganda materials condemning the Kim Jong Il regime, its policy of "succession to power" , etc.

Inter-Korean relations at this stage are characterized by a tough confrontation. North Korea and South Korea's allies, China and the United States, have a lot of work to do to encourage Pyongyang and Seoul to engage in constructive dialogue and compromise.

The United States is in no hurry to establish a stable dialogue with Pyongyang, although it maintains contacts with it. Washington slams North Korea for missile proliferation-

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and nuclear technologies, and the illicit arms trade. The United States supports South Korean accusations of North Korea's involvement in the sinking of the Cheonan frigate, and condemns North Korea's shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.

Pyongyang has repeatedly advised the Americans "not to wait for the collapse of the socialist system of the DPRK", but to sit down at the negotiating table and discuss the existing problems. However, Washington leaves the North Korean proposals unanswered, continuing military and political pressure on the DPRK.7 From time to time, voices are heard from the banks of the Potomac saying that "North Korea's nuclear weapons pose a threat to the security of the United States" and that the United States should be prepared to " seize and remove North Korean nuclear weapons in an emergency."8. (According to US data, the DPRK has accumulated 40 kg of weapons-grade plutonium, which is enough to produce 6-8 nuclear warheads. 9)

The United States drew attention to reports that the DPRK, while implementing a uranium enrichment program, is building a plant for its production. This fact was also reported by the DPRK media. If the IAEA officially confirms the existence of Pyongyang's new nuclear program, it will further complicate the achievement of agreements, if not disrupt the negotiation process at all. Nevertheless, in our opinion, despite the above-mentioned difficulties, there are still chances for the resumption of the six-party talks.

Now let's talk about the positions of other stakeholders.

In essence, Japan is not an independent factor in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. Of course, Tokyo does not want to have a nuclear-armed North Korea at its side. At the same time, Japan's line of conduct on this issue does not go beyond supporting US-South Korean measures, including tightening sanctions against North Korea. Japan has almost completely cut off all ties with Pyongyang, depriving it of Japanese technology, equipment, and luxury goods for the North Korean elite. The main thing for Japan, as the previous experience of the six - party talks shows, is to achieve a solution to the problem of abducted citizens of their country. Tokyo's obsession with this issue during the six-party talks makes it very difficult to reach compromises and implement them in practice. Japan flatly refuses to implement the agreements set out in the Joint Statement of September 19, 2005, which also provide for the provision of humanitarian assistance to the DPRK.


Throughout the Korean nuclear crisis, Moscow has repeatedly and clearly expressed its principled position, the essence of which is to turn the Korean peninsula into a zone free of all types of WMD.

Russia, which has political and other resources to influence the situation on the Korean peninsula, has consistently pursued a policy of strengthening stability, denuclearizing the region, and expanding diverse cooperation with both Korean states.

Russia opposes Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, considering that its security concerns, which by the way are well-founded, should be resolved through political and diplomatic means. The Russian side actively participated in the development of two UN Security Council resolutions-1718 and 1874, which condemn North Korea's underground nuclear tests and impose serious sanctions on the DPRK. In addition, in accordance with the above-mentioned resolutions, Moscow has introduced its own restrictive regime against the DPRK. At the same time, Moscow is categorically opposed to forcing Pyongyang into a corner, depriving it of the opportunity to seek a political solution to the nuclear problem together with interested countries. As Russian President Dmitry Medvedev emphasized, "North Korea needs such incentives to understand that there is no alternative to cooperation." 10

In connection with the second nuclear test conducted by Pyongyang on May 25, 2009, Russia gave a principled assessment of North Korea's actions, which were regarded as a violation of the UN Security Council resolution, as a serious blow to international efforts to strengthen the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, and as undermining the international norm on the prohibition of tests established by the Comprehensive nuclear tests. The Russian side stated that the North Korean nuclear explosion provokes an escalation of tension in Northeast Asia and threatens security and stability in this region11.

During regular Russian-North Korean consultations through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Moscow consistently comes up with initiatives aimed at unraveling the knot of acute contradictions on the Korean Peninsula. At such meetings held in March 2011, the Russian side proposed to immediately resume the six-party talks. To do this, Moscow believes that the DPRK should declare its readiness to sit down to the Six-party talks without any preconditions on the basis of the Joint Statement of September 19, 2005, impose a moratorium on the production and testing of nuclear weapons, invite IAEA inspectors to the Nenben nuclear Center, and include the "uranium dossier" in the agenda of the Six-party talks. negotiations. Along with the above-mentioned proposals, Russia stressed its interest in launching trilateral (Russia-DPRK-ROK) economic projects as soon as possible (construction of a gas pipeline, connection of railways, transmission of electricity from Russia to ROK through the territory of the DPRK, etc.) 12.

Pyongyang agreed in principle with Russian ideas for resuming the negotiation process. The representative of the DPRK Foreign Ministry stressed the importance of the six-party talks, which, in his opinion, should be conducted "in the spirit of respect for sovereignty and the principle of simultaneous action."13

The unsettled nature of the North Korean nuclear issue also provokes Seoul to take actions that lead to a violation of its international obligations in the field of nuclear non-proliferation. Except for those already mentioned by-

page 60

After President Park Jong-hee was forced to acquire nuclear weapons, South Korean scientists conducted "uranium enrichment experiments"in 1982 and 2000. Recently, a certain part of the South Korean political elite has been calling for the return of US tactical nuclear weapons to the ROK, which were removed from there in 1992.Some ROK politicians even talk about the need to create their own nuclear weapons. However, the United States has made it clear that it has no intention of returning its tactical nuclear weapons to the South and does not support calls by Seoul politicians to build their own nuclear bomb.

Further delay in resuming the six-Party talks is fraught with serious consequences for the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. It would be wrong to hold Pyongyang fully responsible for the current stalemate in resolving the Korean nuclear crisis. Yes, it certainly bears its share of responsibility, but a significant part of this responsibility lies with the Americans and their allies, who do not hide their plans to" soft land " the North Korean regime, in other words, to eliminate it. If Washington does not abandon these plans, the situation around the DPRK nuclear issue will degrade, creating more and more obstacles to a political settlement. It should also be borne in mind that recent events in the Middle East, especially in Libya, strengthen the position of those in the leadership of the DPRK who defend the country's nuclear ambitions.

The Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is closely intertwined with the establishment of a peace mechanism in Northeast Asia. The Joint Statement of the "six" contains the idea of convening a special forum of interested states for this purpose. Within the framework of the six - party talks, a working group was set up to work out a new peace mechanism in the NEA (the head of the group is the Russian side), which has done significant work. In particular, the guiding principles of peace and security in the region were agreed upon.

In this context, the problem of concluding a peace treaty in place of the Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953, which would legally consolidate the end of the Korean War, guarantee the non-resumption of the conflict, and contribute to the establishment of lasting peace on the Korean peninsula, is very relevant. North Korea supports signing such a treaty with the United States. During the period of inter - Korean detente between 1998 and 2008, Pyongyang agreed to Seoul's participation in an international meeting of the two Koreas, China and the United States to conclude a peace treaty. However, after the sharp deterioration of relations between Pyongyang and Seoul in 2010, North Korea again insists on negotiations on this issue only with the United States.

Almost 60 years have passed since the signing of the Korean Armistice Agreement. The document is, of course, very outdated. A number of its important provisions do not apply. The Armistice Monitoring Commission of Neutral States has practically collapsed. The Military Armistice Commission has also undergone significant changes. A representative of the People's Republic of China came out of it. By the decision of the 30th Session of the UN General Assembly in 1975, the Command of the UN Forces in Korea was dissolved. Instead, a South Korean-American military command was created, whose representatives are currently participating in the work of the Military Armistice Commission. Thus, it turns out that today one of the most important tasks of the six - party talks is to build a mechanism designed to solve the long-standing problem of the Korean peace treaty and create conditions for stabilizing the situation on the Korean peninsula.


Many experts give a positive answer to this question. What is their conclusion based on? First of all, it is based on the fact that a joint approach of the six states to solving the nuclear problem of the Korean peninsula has been developed and continues to exist. This approach is documented in the relevant document-the Joint Statement of September 19, 2005. The following tasks are of primary importance today:

- resumption of the six-party process;

- Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula;

- Normalization of North Korea-US, North Korea-Japan relations;

- improvement of inter-Korean relations, resumption of the DPRK-ROK dialogue;

- Creating a mechanism for peace in Northeast Asia.

Of course, the tasks are not easy, but with the political will and sincere desire of the States concerned, it is possible to resolve the Korean nuclear crisis.

In July 2011, the Indonesian island of Bali hosted the annual events of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-the 18th session of the ASEAN Regional Security Forum and the ASEAN - Russia Ministerial Meeting. For the first time, Russia participated in them as a full member at the meeting of foreign ministers of the countries participating in the Mechanism of East Asian Summits (EAC). Along with other issues, Russian representatives actively participated in the discussion of issues related to the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

The efforts of the Russian side and other participants in the meeting yielded some results. So, at the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the DPRK and the ROK and their deputies held within the framework of the ASEAN Regional Security Forum (ARF), an agreement was reached to start inter-Korean consultations. This gives hope for the possibility of resuming full-scale negotiations of the " six " on the settlement of the DPRK's nuclear problem.

Torkunov A.V., Ufimtsev E. P. 1 Koreiskaya problema: novy vzglyad [The Korean Problem: a new view]. Moscow, Ankil Publishing Center, 1995, pp. 53-54.

2 Minju Joseon, December 21, 2005

3 Xinhua, August 28, 2010. CPC, March 15, 2011.

4 KBS World Radio, sept 19 2010.

5 Nodong sinmun, May 31, 2011

6 KBS World Radio, April 25, 2011.

7 KCNA, May 16, 2010.

8 KBS World Radio, Jan. 12, 2011.

9 KBS World Radio, March 14, 2010.

10 April 12, 2011.

11 828 - 25 - 05 - 2009.

12 324 - 14 - 03 - 2011.

13 KCNA, March 15, 2011.


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