Alex WagnerThe United States and North Korea resumed missile negotiations in July and terrorism talks in August as legislation was introduced in Congress to reimpose sanctions on Pyongyang. Following the talks—neither of which made any breakthroughs—North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il reportedly said that his country has been exporting missiles abroad, underlining assertions made by U.S. intelligence.
Kim's remarks were made during an August 13 luncheon with South Korean media executives at which he acknowledged that his country exports missiles to Iran and Syria in return for hard currency, according to South Korean press reports. A recent CIA report to Congress highlighted North Korea as the principal exporter of missile equipment and assistance to Syria and as one of the most active suppliers of ballistic missile-related goods, technology, and expertise to Iran.
North Korean export activities were taken up July 10-12 by Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation Robert Einhorn and Jang Chang Chon, head of North Korea's bureau on U.S. affairs. Their meeting, held in Kuala Lumpur, marked the fifth round of bilateral missile talks. At a July 12 press briefing, Einhorn said the meeting covered developments since the last round of talks in March 1999 and U.S. proposals to end North Korea's missile exports and indigenous capabilities. Einhorn specified that in return for addressing U.S. concerns, the United States is "prepared to move step by step to full economic normalization."
Einhorn characterized the talks as "very useful" and said that he hopes to meet again with the North Koreans in the near future. However, on July 12, Jang "clarified" that North Korea would only continue the talks if the United States compensated Pyongyang "for the political and economic losses to be incurred in case we suspend our missile program." During the meeting, the United States had once again rejected North Korea's long-standing demand for $1 billion per year in return for the cessation of missile exports. "North Korea should not be receiving cash compensation for stopping what it shouldn't be doing in the first place," Einhorn said.
Following the talks, on July 13, Chairman of the House International Relations Committee Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) introduced the North Korean Nonproliferation Act of 2000. The proposed legislation would require the president to reimpose sanctions on North Korea that were eased in June unless the president certifies that Pyongyang has not tested or proliferated missiles or missile technology. (See ACT, July/August 2000.)
Despite the recent easing of sanctions, some sanctions remain in place, including those derived from North Korea's classification as a state sponsoring terrorism. The second round of bilateral talks designed to discuss steps that North Korea must take to shed this classification were held August 9-10 in Pyongyang after a break since March.
Led by U.S. envoy for counterterrorism Ambassador Michael Sheehan and North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Kim Gye Gwan, the talks were not able to reach a resolution. In return for removing North Korea from the list of states that sponsor terrorism, the United States wants North Korea to extradite members of the Japanese Red Army terrorist group and publicly condemn terrorism.
During his August meeting with South Korean media executives, Kim Jong-Il reportedly said that removal from the terrorist list is a precondition for resuming diplomatic relations with Washington. If that occurs, Kim told the executives that he would be willing to immediately establish full diplomatic ties, according to the Korea Herald.