Fact Sheet On Dprk Nuclear Safeguards
International Atomic Energy Agency, January 8, 2003.

1980s: Origins of Nuclear Safeguards. On 12 December 1985 the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) became a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). On 10 April 1992 the NPT Safeguards Agreement entered into force (INFCIRC/403). Before that, in 1977, the country had concluded an INFCIRC/66 type Safeguards Agreement (INFCIRC/252) for two nuclear research facilities (the IRT research reactor and a critical assembly).

1990s: IAEA Safeguards Inspections. After the DPRK had submitted its initial report to the IAEA under its Safeguards Agreement in May 1992, inspections began. Shortly thereafter inconsistencies emerged between the DPRK's initial declaration and the Agency's findings, centring on a mismatch between declared plutonium product and nuclear waste solutions and the results of the Agency's analysis. The latter suggested that there existed in the DPRK undeclared plutonium. In order to find answers to the inconsistencies detected and to determine the completeness and correctness of the initial declaration provided, the IAEA requested access to additional information and to two sites which seemed to be related to the storage of nuclear waste. The DPRK, however, refused access to the sites.

US-DPRK Agreed Framework. The mid-1994 crisis was defused by the visit of former President Carter in June 1994 and in the subsequent negotiations that led to the Agreed Framework between the US and the DPRK on 21 October 1994. Under the Agreed Framework the US commits itself to make arrangements for the provision of a LWR generating capacity of approximately 2000 MW(e) in exchange for a DPRK "freeze" and ultimately the dismantlement of its graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities. The arrangements for the LWR project led to the creation, in 1995, of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO).

IAEA-DPRK Technical Talks. Notwithstanding the continuing difference between the Agency and the DPRK as to the status of the Safeguards Agreement, regular technical meetings, about twice a year, have taken place since 1994 in Vienna and the DPRK to resolve outstanding issues. Initially the discussions focussed on preserving the relevant information. However, despite 17 rounds of technical consultations, no progress has been achieved on key issues. After the Secretariat had determined, in September 2000, that it would need 3 to 4 years to carry out all the activities required to verify the correctness and completeness of the initial report, the focus has shifted to obtaining full DPRK cooperation to carry out these activities. So far the DPRK has not agreed to even discuss such a programme of work. The last technical meeting was held in November 2001. Repeated efforts in the course of 2002 to convene a technical meeting with "verification of the correctness and completeness of the initial report" on the agenda have not yet been successful.

KEDO Nuclear Plant Project. Factors relevant to the DPRK position are its relations with the US and the progress in the KEDO Project. The conclusion of an internal US review in June 2001 was that improved implementation of the Agreed Framework should be sought. The Agreed Framework aimed at the completion of the first reactor in 2003, but the project has suffered delays for a number of reasons. However, since the start of the construction phase in February 2000, the project has been on schedule. The concrete for the first reactor was poured on 7 August 2002. According to the Delivery Protocol to the 1995 KEDO-DPRK Supply Agreement, which was handed over to the DPRK (and brought to the attention of the Agency) at the end of April 2002, the first key nuclear components will be delivered in mid-2005. This is relevant to the Agency because the Agreed Framework specifies that the DPRK has to come into full compliance with its safeguards agreement before key nuclear components can be delivered.

October 2002 Disclosures. A new phase started on 16 October 2002 with the announcement by the US that the DPRK side had acknowledged, in talks with Assistant Secretary Kelly in early October that it had a "programme to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons". Subsequently in a number of statements, by the US, by the US together with Japan and the Republic of Korea (28 October 2002), and by KEDO (14 November 2002), the conclusion was drawn that the DPRK's programme was a violation of the Agreed Framework, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the DPRK-IAEA Safeguards Agreement and the North-South Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In light of those violations the KEDO Board decided to suspend heavy oil deliveries as of the December shipment.

November 2002: IAEA Seeks Clarification, Talks. The IAEA,in faxes of 17 and 18 October, requested information about the alleged programme and offered "to dispatch a senior team to the DPRK or to receive a DPRK team in Vienna, to discuss recent information and the general question of the implementation of IAEA safeguards in the DPRK". No reply to these faxes was received. On 29 November the Board of Governors adopted a resolution without a vote in which the Board insisted that the DPRK should reply and cooperate with the Agency. The Board recognized that the programme to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons "or any other covert nuclear activities, would constitute a violation of the DPRK's international commitments, including the DPRK's safeguards agreement with the Agency pursuant to the NPT".

December 2002: Exchanges of Letters. In his reply to the IAEA Director General (dated 2 December, received 4 December) the DPRK Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun expressed his disappointment about the Agency's unilateral and unfair approach. The DPRK Government could not accept the resolution, he said. On 12 December the Director General received a further letter, from Mr. Ri Je Son, Director General of the General Department of Atomic Energy in the DPRK, conveying the DPRK decision on that day to lift the freeze on its nuclear facilities as of 13 December in light of the US suspension of the heavy fuel oil supply pursuant to the Agreed Framework. The Director General replied the same day urging the DPRK not to take unilateral steps related to seals or cameras and to agree to an urgent meeting of technical experts to discuss practical arrangements involved in moving from the freeze to normal safeguards operations. However, on 22 December the DPRK started to cut seals and disable surveillance cameras. On 27 December it ordered the IAEA inspectors to leave the country.

January 2003: New Resolution, North Korea NPT Withdrawal. In light of developments, the IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution 6 January 2003 that called upon North Korea to cooperate fully and urgently with the Agency. The Board affirmed that unless the DPRK takes all required safeguards measures, it would be in further non-compliance with its safeguards agreement.

North Korea announced its withdrawal from the NPT effective as of 11 January 2003. No agreed statement on the matter has been issued by the NPT States Parties, or by the NPT depositary States (Russia, UK and USA), or by the UN Security Council. (Article X.1 of the NPT says that a State Party in exercising its national sovereignty has the right to withdraw from the Treaty ... it shall give notice of such withdrawal to all other Parties to the Treaty and to the United Nations Security Council three months in advance ... [and] shall include a statement of the extraordinary events it regards as having jeopardised its supreme interests.) The IAEA is not a party to the NPT and hence it is not in the position to determine the status of any State Party's membership of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. NPT States Parties' comprehensive safeguards agreements with the IAEA provide that such agreements would remain in force as long as the State is party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

February 2003: IAEA Refers Issue to Security Council. Expressing "deep concern" over North Korea's actions, the Board of Governors adopted a resolution 12 February declaring North Korea in further non-compliance with its nuclear safeguards obligations, and referring the matter to the UN Security Council, as the IAEA is required to do in such circumstances under its Statute. The Board called upon North Korea to “remedy urgently” its non-compliance, and fully cooperate with the Agency. It also stressed its desire for a peaceful resolution.

April 2003: Security Council Expresses Concern. Following consultations 9 April, the UN Security Council expressed its "concern" over the situation in North Korea and said it will keep following developments there. UN Secretary-General Annan additionally has appointed a Special Advisor on the North Korea issue.

No Complete Picture. The Agency has never been able to verify the completeness and correctness of the initial report of the DPRK under the NPT Safeguards Agreement. Since 1993 it has drawn the conclusion that the DPRK is in non-compliance with its obligations under the Agreement. In other words, the Agency has never had the complete picture regarding DPRK nuclear activities and has never been able to provide assurances regarding the peaceful character of the DPRK nuclear programme. Between 1994 and 2002, the Agreed Framework has been a tool that was aimed at bringing the DPRK into compliance with its safeguards obligations. However, the reports about a clandestine uranium enrichment programme, the end of the “freeze” pursuant to the Agreed Framework, and the expulsion of the IAEA inspectors have brought this phase to an end.

Commitment to Solution. As IAEA Director General ElBaradei stated to the Board 12 February 2003, the IAEA remains committed to continuing to work with the DPRK and all concerned parties, with a view to securing full safeguards compliance by the DPRK through peaceful means.