- The Washington Times - Friday, March 9, 2001

Secretary of State Colin Powell raised the price of continued U.S. engagement with North Korea yesterday by calling on Pyongyang to trim its million-man army and suggesting that Washington would seek to renegotiate a 1994 nuclear deal.
The new U.S. conditions came as South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, now visiting Washington, continued to tack in the opposite direction by urging the Bush administration to "seize this opportunity" for peace.
Mr. Powell's comments marked a further retreat from a pledge Tuesday to pick up where President Clinton left off, with missile talks that included an attempt by North Korea to bring an American president to Pyongyang for a groundbreaking summit.
The secretary of state suggested substituting conventional power plants for twin atomic reactors that were promised to North Korea in exchange for freezing its nuclear weapons program.
"We're going to take our time; we're going to put together a comprehensive policy; and in due course, at a time and at a pace of our choosing, we will decide and determine how best to engage with the North Korean regime," Mr. Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Under the 1994 deal known as the Framework Agreement the United States, South Korea and Japan formed a consortium to build two modern nuclear power plants in North Korea and supply fuel oil until the plants came on line.
North Korea last year ended decades of isolation, opened diplomatic relations with a half-dozen Western countries and held a friendly summit with South Korea.
But Mr. Powell's remarks yesterday underscored the new administration's suspicions of Pyongyang openly voiced by President Bush on Wednesday after a White House summit with Mr. Kim.
"[North Korea] is a regime that is despotic," Mr. Powell said. "It is broken. We have no illusions about this regime. We have no illusions about the nature of the gentleman who runs North Korea. He is a despot."
He was referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
Mr. Powell tempered the praise he gave Tuesday for Clinton administration efforts to negotiate an agreement with North Korea to end its development and sales of missiles.
"As we look at the elements of the negotiation that the previous administration had left behind, there are some things there that are very promising," he said.
"What was not there was a monitoring and verification regime of the kind that we would have to have in order to move forward in negotiations with such a regime."
However Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, voiced concern that the new tough line would spoil the chance of an agreement.
"What I'm very worried about is that this opportunity to find out whether or not there is any real possibility [for peace] here is slipping away," he said.
The South Korean president, meanwhile, urged the Bush administration not to let North Korea's present eagerness to normalize ties with the United States slip away.
One day after President Bush called the North a "threat" and delayed missile talks until a policy review takes place, Mr. Kim agreed with the need for verification and for keeping security measures in place.
But he went on to push his sunshine policy of friendship toward the North, which won him a Nobel Peace Prize and led last year to the first North-South summit since the 1950-53 Korean War.
Mr. Kim said he favors "engagement with a background of a solid security stance" but added that he believed based on nine hours of talks with Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang last year that the North Korean leader wants peace.
Above all, the North Korean leader wanted good relations with the United States and needed help, the South Korean president said.
"We must assist so that North Korea can go along on the path of change," he told the American Enterprise Institute.
The South Korean president said his North Korean counterpart agreed that even after North-South reconciliation, American troops should remain in place to prevent power plays by Russia, China and Japan.
"We do not have any illusions about North Korea we will help them where we can but seek assurances" there will not be any future military conflict, he said.
Wendy Sherman, the former State Department counselor who led negotiations with North Korea until the end of the Clinton administration, expressed hope that the Bush administration would move quickly to restart talks.
"I don't know what their real intent is, but I hoped they would have walked through the open door" and set talks on missiles and other issues of concern to the United States, she said in an interview.
"We should remain engaged with North Korea. We were close to an agreement, and North Korea would have stopped exports and production of missiles," she said. "We had discussions on verification no arms-control agreements would not include it. It was on the table.
"I hope [the Bush administration] will complete their review very quickly and get their team in place."
Mr. Powell said for the first time that the United States might seek, as part of a deal to normalize relations, a cut in the size of North Korea's million-man army.
He characterized it as "poised on the Demilitarized Zone pointing south."
"That's probably as great a threat to South Korea, Seoul and regional stability as weapons of mass destruction," Mr. Powell said.
South Korean newspapers yesterday noted that the sunshine policy of Mr. Kim seemed to clash with the skepticism voiced by Mr. Bush.
"The sunshine theorists in Korea have up till now denounced general demands for 'reciprocity,' hinting we should 'give now and receive later,' while Americans want to take an entirely different approach," said an editorial in the on-line edition of the Chosun Ilbo, South Korea's largest-circulation daily.
Mr. Kim said yesterday that his policy is for "comprehensive reciprocity," under which the North agrees on three things:
Strict adherence to the 1994 Framework Agreement to freeze nuclear weapons.
Complete resolution of missile development and sales issues.
A pledge of no armed aggression against the South.
In return, he said, North Korea would receive three things:
An assurance of security from South Korea and the United States.
An appropriate level of economic assistance.
Aid in joining international lending institutions such as the World Bank.

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