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USIS Washington 
File

19 November 1998

TRANSCRIPT: KARTMAN 11/19 NEWS CONFERENCE ON TALKS WITH N. KOREA

(U.S., S. Korea want access to suspicious Kumchangni site) (1160)



Washington -- During a press conference at the Korean Ministry of
Foreign Affairs and Trade November 19, U.S. Special Envoy for the
Korean Peace Talks Charles Kartman said the United States and South
Korea are determined to resolve suspicions that North Korea is using a
site in the Kumchangni area for nuclear related purposes.


Kartman said that although the two sides have discussed some ideas for
access to the Kumchangni site, "there is still a rather wide gap
between our positions, and I have to say that we are not yet satisfied
that we have a solution in hand."


The United States and South Korea "both believe that there is
compelling evidence that this site is intended to be used for nuclear
related activities," the envoy said. "We take those suspicions so
seriously that I was sent with a very senior U.S. Interagency Team to
make sure that the North Korean government understood how serious this
was."


Kartman warned that failure to resolve suspicions concerning the
Kumchangni site could call into question the viability of the Agreed
Framework signed October 21, 1994.


Under the Agreed Framework, North Korea agreed to dismantle its gas
graphite nuclear reactor program, which produced weapons-grade
material. North Korea also agreed to engage in dialogue with South
Korea, remain in the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and to meet obligations
set by the International Atomic Energy Agency.


In exchange, the United States spearheaded the establishment of the
Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), an
international consortium led by the United States, the Republic of
Korea, Japan and the European Union.


The main purpose of KEDO is to finance the building of two light water
reactors in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) to meet
North Korean energy needs. These reactors are considered safer because
they use fuel that produces significantly fewer byproducts that can be
used for nuclear weapons. The reactors will be of South Korean design.


The United States also agreed to provide 500,000 metric tons of heavy
fuel oil per year to help North Korea meet its energy needs until the
new, safer nuclear reactors can be completed.


Kartman said that the United States and South Korea have invited North
Korea to continue talks about the Kumchangni site as soon as possible
and will be "discussing some particulars of timing and venue through
our New York channel."


Following is a transcript of the press conference:



(begin transcript)



Press Conference by

U.S. Special Envoy for the Korean Peace Talks

Ambassador Charles Kartman



Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade



November 19, 1998 



(Ambassador Kartman was introduced by Choi Seong Hong, Deputy
Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs.)


AMBASSADOR KARTMAN: I thank you very much Minister Choi and I thank
all of you for coming by to hear what I have to say about my brief
talks in Pyongyang.


First I am here in order to keep the government of the Republic of
Korea informed, to be guided by their advice at each stage of these
serious talks with the North Koreans. I have had very good discussions
this morning with Minister Choi and his Interagency Team and will look
forward to continuing to work with them at each stage of the way. I
reported that I had two days of quite intensive discussions in
Pyongyang with a team lead by Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Kwan. I
made a presentation to Vice Minister Kim about U.S. suspicions about a
site in the area known as Kumchangni. I noted that those suspicions
were that this site is intended for nuclear related purposes and that
it was imperative that these suspicions be resolved.


Although we discussed some ideas for access to that site, there is
still a rather wide gap between our positions, and I have to say that
we are not yet satisfied that we have a solution in hand. Nonetheless,
I feel that we have had a useful exchange of presentations, and we
have invited the North Koreans to continue these serious talks as soon
as possible and we will be discussing some particulars of timing and
venue through our New York channel. Although I have to depart for a
luncheon very shortly, I would like to reward your patience by
entertaining a couple of questions; so if there are any questions
please raise your hand.


Q: How much was the compensation North Korea asked for access to the
site, and what was the position of the United States conveyed to North
Korea?


AMBASSADOR KARTMAN: The North Korean position is that they are not
engaged in any nuclear related activities and that if they were to
provide access to the site they should receive compensation for the
insult that they will have incurred. We have absolutely rejected the
concept of compensation so the question of the amount is sort of
irrelevant.


Q: Did you ask for just one Kumchangni site, or is there any other
site you asked access for?


AMBASSADOR KARTMAN: We have asked for the North Korean side to remove
our suspicions about Kumchangni. Only Kumchangni.


Q: Does that mean the suspicions about Hagab and Taechon are resolved?


AMBASSADOR KARTMAN:  Only Kumchangni means only Kumchangni.



Q: Did the question come up about the impact this might have on the
provision of the shipment of oil and that sort of thing?


AMBASSADOR KARTMAN: I think it should be clear that my presentation
about the need to resolve our suspicions contained a very clear
element of the danger that the failure to resolve those suspicions
would pose for the viability of the Agreed Framework.


Q: On a scale of one to ten what is the possibility, what are the
chances, of this facility developing into a nuclear site?


AMBASSADOR KARTMAN: I believe that the United States and the Republic
of Korea have shared views very extensively about this site, and we
both believe that there is compelling evidence that this site is
intended to be used for nuclear related activities. We take those
suspicions so seriously that I was sent with a very senior U.S.
Interagency Team to make sure that the North Korean government
understood how serious this was. But if we are successful, there will
be zero chance of it being used for nuclear related activities.


Q: Will there ever be a situation where there would be a surgical
strike to take out these facilities or something of that nature, if it
came to that?


AMBASSADOR KARTMAN: If I have to go back to Pyongyang, I may need
surgery. (laughter)


Q:  How serious is the Congress about the possibility of (garbled).



AMBASSADOR KARTMAN: You will have to ask the Congress that, but I take
it seriously. Thank you very much everyone.


(end transcript)