Remarks Following Meeting with Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan

Stephen W. Bosworth
Special Representative for North Korea Policy 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Seoul, South Korea
November 22, 2010

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Good morning. I am pleased to be here again for another in our ongoing series of coordination meetings with our friends, allies, and partners, and the government of the Republic of Korea. As has been reported in the press, we understand, or we now understand that the DPRK has unveiled a facility at Yongbyon, which is described as being a facility to produce enriched uranium. This is obviously a disappointing announcement. It is also another in a series of provocative moves by the DPRK. That being said, this is not a crisis. We are not surprised by this. We have been watching and analyzing the DPRK’s aspirations to produce enriched uranium for some time – dates back several years. This is not helpful, however, to the joint, jointly agreed goals we have subscribed to in terms of the peace and prosperity and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the region of Northeast Asia.

We will be consulting here this morning. I have met with Ambassador Wi Sung-lac. I have just met with the foreign minister. I am going over to the Blue House to meet with the national security advisor. I will be travelling on to Tokyo later today, and we will be going to China tomorrow. So, in the course of a very brief period of time, we expect to have consulted very closely with our major partners, and we will undertake other ways and other measures of coordination and consultation with Russia. So, I would be happy to take a couple of questions if you have such. Please.

QUESTION: Ambassador Bosworth, is it time for the U.S. to admit that its policy toward North Korea’s nuclear program has been a failure, that North Korea is a nuclear state and should be treated as such?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: No, I do not believe our policy is a failure. I believe our policy addresses what is beyond any doubt a most difficult issue, but a most important issue. It is, I think, fundamental that we deal with this in close coordination with the major countries of the region, and that is what we are trying to do. But no, I would not at all accept that our policy toward North Korea is a failure. This is a very difficult problem that we have been struggling to deal with for almost twenty years. They are a difficult interlocutor, and on the other hand, I think we are committed to continuing on with the policy, the broad policy that we have been following. We will refine that as necessary to take account of developments as they occur. But we are not throwing our policy away.

QUESTION: Do you think it is high time for the U.S. and other parties of the six parties to engage North Korea at the talks?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, we have engaged North Korea in many ways, in different ways over the last several years, both bilaterally and multilaterally through the Six-Party process. As you all will remember, I was in North Korea last December, and incidentally when we then raised our concern at that time over what they might or might not be doing in the area of uranium enrichment. So we do not at all rule out the possibility of further engagement with North Korea, but we want that to take place under a proper set of conditions, and in close coordination with our partners. I do not believe in engagement just for the sake of engagement – or talking just for the sake of talking. We have to begin to make progress, and it is fundamental that the North Koreans demonstrate that they approach dialogue and the discussions and the negotiations with that same measure of seriousness and willingness to actually take hard decisions.

QUESTION: It seems obvious by showing the uranium facility to the Americans who visited there that North Korea was trying to send a message to the United States, South Korea and others. What message now do you think Washington and Seoul should send to Pyongyang?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, I think the message that I have just communicated, which is we treat this as a serious matter. Unfortunately, it is the latest in a series of provocative moves by North Korea, and we are resolved to move forward in close coordination with our allies and partners as we seek to make progress in dealing with North Korea and the threat of nuclear, the nuclear threat from North Korea.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador. Do you think there is any chance of Six Party Talks resuming, or is that process sort of dead now?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: My crystal ball is foggy, but I would never declare any process dead. It is still breathing and I still think we have, we have hope that we are going to be able to resuscitate it.

QUESTION: Mr. Ambassador. You said this is a kind of provocative action from the North Korea. So, is it time for another sanction on North Korea?

AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: No, I am not predicting that – I am not trying to forecast what we may or may not do in the future. But this is clearly a violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874. It is a violation of North Korea’s commitments under the September 2005 Joint Statement. And it is a violation of other commitments that they have made to us and other partners in the Six Party process. So we have to recognize it for what it is. We cannot just ignore it. And we have to incorporate this now into our strategy as we move forward.

So thank you all very much. Good to see you.