- The Washington Times - Friday, November 1, 2002

The U.S.-led agency implementing a 1994 nuclear accord with North Korea said yesterday it plans to send heavy fuel oil to the North this month despite its recent admission that it has a nuclear weapons program and considers the deal "nullified."

Bush administration officials, meanwhile, said that the November shipment would probably go ahead, since no final decision has been made on whether to continue supplying the oil.

"There are many aspects to the agreement and we need time to consult with our allies," a senior State Department official said.

The 1994 accord, known as the Agreed Framework, required North Korea to give up efforts to build nuclear weapons. In exchange the United States and its allies, South Korea and Japan, set up the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) to supply fuel oil and build two nuclear power plants.

None of these three countries nor the European Union, the fourth member of KEDO's executive board has yet called for stopping the deliveries, which, in effect, would spell the end of the Agreed Framework.

The present oil-supply contract expires at the end of January. All but a token amount of the yearly shipments of 500,000 metric tons is paid for by the United States. The average cost of one installment is $6.5 million.

The last shipment of 43,500 metric tons started on Oct. 8 and offloading was done by Oct. 18, a KEDO official said by telephone from the organization's New York headquarters.

Last month, North Korea admitted it had embarked on a project to make highly enriched uranium the type of fuel used in the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of World War II. That was a violation of its promise under the 1994 agreement to freeze work on nuclear weapons.

North Korea is said by Washington to have admitted developing its clandestine nuclear program during an Oct. 3-5 visit to Pyongyang by James Kelly, assistant secretary of state for Asian and Pacific affairs.

After the United States announced Pyongyang's admission last month, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also called the accord invalid. But the administration has not formally withdrawn its support.

Bush administration officials have said they will attempt to end North Korea's latest quest for nuclear weapons through negotiations involving other nations in the region.

On Wednesday, five members of Congress urged President Bush to nullify the Agreed Framework, impose sanctions on North Korea and consider a change in government in the communist state.

Republican Sens. John Kyl, Robert C. Smith and Jesse Helms, along with Republican Rep. Christopher Cox and Democratic Rep. Edward J. Markey, said they saw "no viable alternative given the proven failure of subsidizing North Korea and of relying upon that country's promises, as well as the regime's continued deplorable treatment of the North Korean people."

Pyongyang has resisted U.S. demands for an immediate end to its nuclear program. Yesterday, it went as far as to claim a right to developing nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

"We unambiguously told the U.S. presidential special envoy that, facing a growing nuclear threat from the U.S., we have the right to possess not only nuclear, but even more powerful weapons in order to defend our sovereignty and the right to survive," Pak Hui-chun, the North Korean ambassador to Moscow, was quoted by wire reports as saying.

Also in Moscow, after a meeting with North Korean officials yesterday, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Losyukov said he found North Korea's explanation of its nuclear ambitions insufficient.

"There is some ambiguity in the statements by North Korean representatives," Mr. Losyukov was quoted as saying by Russia's Interfax news agency. "In our view, such ambiguity is very dangerous because it leads to mutual suspicions and can negatively affect the situation on the Korean Peninsula."

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