News

USIS Washington File

25 June 1999

TEXT: U.S. CONCLUDES NORTH KOREA UNDERGROUND SITE NOT NUCLEAR

(Kumchang-ni does not violate 1994 Agreed Framework)  (820)

Washington -- Based on the data gathered by a U.S. delegation visiting
North Korea and a subsequent technical review, the United States has
concluded that, at present, the underground site at Kumchang-ni, North
Korea does not violate the 1994 U.S.-Democratic People's Republic of
Korea (DPRK) Agreed Framework, according to a statement released by
the State Department spokesman June 25.

The statement notes, however, that any new construction of
graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities in the DPRK would
be a violation of the Framework.

"At this point in time," the statement says, "the U.S. cannot rule out
the possibility that the site was intended for other nuclear-related
uses although it does not appear to be currently configured to support
any large industrial nuclear functions."

Following is the text of the statement:

(begin text)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman

June 25, 1999

STATEMENT BY JAMES P. RUBIN, SPOKESMAN

Report on the U.S. Visit to the Site at Kumchang-ni,
Democratic People's Republic of Korea

On May 18-24, 1999, a U.S. Department of State team traveled to the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea with the purpose of visiting the
underground facility at Kumchang-ni. The visit took place on an
exceptional basis at the invitation of the DPRK. The U.S. team
consisted of fourteen members, including relevant technical experts.
After initial consultations with the DPRK authorities, the team began
its visit to the site at Kumchang-ni on May 20. The visit was
completed the evening of May 22. After reviewing data gathered from
the visit with the DPRK authorities, the U.S. delegation departed the
DPRK on 24.

Throughout the visit, the DPRK provided the U.S. delegation with good
cooperation. The U.S. delegation was permitted to conduct all
activities previously agreed to under the March 16, 1999 U.S.-DPRK
agreement which permitted the U.S. access to the site at Kumchang-ni.
Those activities included measuring the dimensions of all underground
areas at the main complex, videotaping those areas, and photographing
agreed above-ground facilities supporting the site at Kumchang-ni.

Of particular importance, the DPRK allowed the delegation to conduct
the visit "in the manner the U.S. deemed necessary," as agreed in
March between the two sides, to help remove suspicions about the site.
After an initial orientation tour of the underground areas provided by
the local official in charge, the U.S. delegation spent the next two
days underground in order to ensure that it covered all the
underground areas. The U.S. delegation criss-crossed those areas a
number of times at a pace and according to a plan determined by the
delegation, in consultation with the DPRK. The U.S. delegation saw no
evidence of DPRK efforts to conceal any portion of the facility.

At the site, the U.S. delegation viewed a large underground tunnel
complex. Excavation of the complex, as currently configured, was
almost complete but a great deal of additional finishing work remained
to be done with almost all of the tunnels still bare rock. Moreover,
there was no indication that equipment was ever installed at this
location. In addition, the delegation visited above-ground
installations -- dams under construction, the electric substation, as
well as various utility buildings and construction support facilities.

Based on the evidence gathered by the U.S. delegation and a subsequent
review of that evidence by U.S. technical experts, we have reached the
following conclusions about the underground site at Kumchang-ni.

-- The site at Kumchang-ni does not contain a plutonium production
reactor or reprocessing plant, either completed or under construction.

-- Given the current size and configuration of the underground area,
the site is unsuitable for the installation of a plutonium production
reactor, especially a graphite-moderated reactor of the type North
Korea has built at Yongbyon.

-- The site is also not well designed for a reprocessing plant.
Nevertheless, since the site is a large underground area, it could
support such a facility in the future with substantial modifications.

-- At this point in time the U.S. cannot rule out the possibility that
the site was intended for other nuclear-related uses although it does
not appear to be currently configured to support any large industrial
nuclear functions.

Based on the data gathered by the U.S. delegation and the subsequent
technical review, the U.S. has concluded that, at present, the
underground site at Kumchang-ni does not violate the 1994 U.S.-DPRK
Agreed Framework. New construction of graphite-moderated reactors and
related facilities in the DPRK would be a violation of the Framework.

The U.S. expressed its appreciation to the DPRK for its cooperation on
this matter. As agreed between the U.S. and DPRK in the March 16
document, the next U.S. visit to the site at Kumchang-ni will take
place in May 2000 and will include examining its feasibility for
commercial use.

(end text)