DATE:03/05/92 TITLE:RISCASSI: NORTH KOREA COULD HAVE NUCLEAR WEAPON BY 1994 (03/05/92) TEXT:*92030519.EPF *EPF419 03/05/92 * RISCASSI: NORTH KOREA COULD HAVE NUCLEAR WEAPON BY 1994 (Article on Senate Committee hearing March 4) (510) By Jane A. Morse USIA Staff Writer Washington -- U.S. intelligence indicates that North Korea could amass enough materials by this summer to complete a single nuclear weapons system by 1994, according to General Robert W. Riscassi, commander-in-chief of the Combined Forces Command in the Republic of Korea. In responding to questions at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee March 4, Riscassi said U.S. intelligence data suggest the device, though untested by then would be deliverable at that time via SCUD missile or aircraft. But he added that while U.S. intelligence reports allow him to monitor North Korean actions, they do not give an accurate account of North Korean intentions. "The most destabilizing issue affecting security on the peninsula, and the region at large, has been the growing suspicion that North Korea is on the verge of developing a nuclear weapon," Riscassi said in his prepared testimony. North Korea appears to have been making a start on complying -- though ever so slowly -- with international demands, he said. In 1985 North Korea signed the Nonproliferation Treaty, but refused to sign the contingent International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) accord until January of this year, after arduous negotiations with South Korea. However, North Korea has yet to ratify the agreement, saying ratification will be considered by its parliament this April. Riscassi said"MDBU""MDNM" that it is possible North Korea is trying to buy 1ime to reprocess enough material to build a nuclear weapon, but only the parliamentary decision in April will give any indication. He added that it might be September before IAEA inspections could begin. In December 1991, the two Koreas agreed to a nonaggression and exchange pact, under which both sides agree to neither test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy, nor use nuclear weapons. A bilateral inspection regime is to be constructed, including the right to perform challenge inspections of suspect nuclear facilities and military bases. "The denuclearization pact is now in effect, but there still is no agreement on the structure or timing of the accompanying inspection program," Riscassi pointed out in prepared testimony. At the hearing, there was some committee discussion regarding the precise meaning of President Bush's announcement in September 1991 of the U.S. withdrawal of all naval and land-based forward deployed tactical nuclear system. (In November, President Roh publicly announced the denuclearization of the ROK.) In responding to questions, Riscassi commented that there has been "no local pressure for the United States to remove its nuclear umbrella over the Korean peninsula." He said that the actions taken by Presidents Bush and Roh have not undermined the United States' flexible response policy. Riscassi was asked about the operational significance of a single, untested North Korean nuclear device. He replied that given North Korea's capability to deliver such a device, it is of regional concern, but added that international pressure and the actions of international atomic agencies have constituted a proper response. NNNN .