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4th Round (Stage 1) Talks

Outline

Time and Place
Time and Place Jul. 26~Aug. 7, 2005 (Beijing, China)
Representatives
  • Song Min-soon Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Kim Gye-gwan Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Christopher Hill Assistant State Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
  • Wu Dawei Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Sasae Genichiro Deputy Director-General of Asian and Oceanian Affairs
  • Alexander Alexeyev Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Outcomes

  • Failure to arrive at a Joint Declaration despite 13 days of talks, mainly due to U.S.-North Korea differences on the peaceful use of nuclear energy
  • 3-week recess period announced through Chairman's Statement to retain the momentum of the talks
< Chairman's Statement >
assessment that all six participant states, upon a joint understanding on the principle of denuclearization, have made practical progress and deepened mutual understanding / 4th round of talks to be resumed in the last week of August, after a recess period during which delegations of each nation will confer with highest authorities

Key Issues - 'North Korea's right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes'

North Korea - insists on retaining the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes

  • Citing the right as natural for any sovereign state, North Korea says it won't abandon its light-water reactor energy program.
    ※ During the 4th round of the talks, a comment by North Korea Foreign Minister Baek Nam-sun at the ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum) Minister-level talks in Laos concerning 'North Korea's return to the NPT' alludes to an NPT member state's right to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
  • North Korea Vice-Minister Kim Gye-gwan remarks during the recess period that the U.S. must alter its position from "that of disallowing any form of nuclear technology whatsoever"

U.S. - light-water reactors out of the question / all nuclear technology subject to CVID

  • Citing North Korea's 1994 violation of the Geneva Agreement and the possibility of using light-water reactors to develop weapons, the U.S. maintains that North Korea must give up its light-water reactor energy program.
  • That is, all nuclear technology must be abandoned and the DRPK must abide by international conventions (re-establish NPT membership, etc.).
  • Assistant Secretary of State Hill urged North Korea delegation to "return to Pyongyang and explain that the light-water reactors are simply not on the table"

South Korea-China - mediation efforts

  • China : proposes that North Korea "abide by duties and enjoy rights as an NPT member" / rejected by North Korea
  • South Korea : proposes that North Korea "abide by duties and enjoy rights to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes as an NPT member" / rejected by the U.S.
    ※ South Korea has proposed that electricity be sent directly to the DRPK, satisfying both the US's insistence of no light-water reactors and North Korea's demand for energy

Assessments

Longest round of the six-party talks / efforts to arrive at Joint Declaration

  • The 13-month gap in the disarmament talks has prompted nations to take on a more earnest and practical approach to the negotiations. Moreover, there is a shared determination to produce concrete results.
  • Although there were concerns that several 'hot issues' including HEU, arms reduction, human rights, and missiles, might emerge during the negotiations, both the U.S. and North Korea have limited themselves to only general statements on these topics. This suggests that both states are participating in the 4th round of talks with a more practical attitude, with the objective of arriving at concrete agreements.
    ※ Only Japan has raised the issue of kidnapped Japanese citizens and North Korea's missiles, to the anxiety of the other participating states wishing to draw working-level conclusions.
  • The original 4-day schedule was extended to 13 days of some 100 sessions of bilateral/multilateral contact between the participant states. 'Small meetings of senior delegates' were held for the first time, producing practical results

Progress in U.S.-North Korea negotiations and mutual understanding

  • Over the 13 days of intense contact and negotiation, the six participants made substantial progress in adjusting positions. In particular, some 10 U.S.-North Korea contact sessions took on the nature of 'consultations for the adjustment of views' rather than mere conversation.
  • Although North Korea's peaceful use of nuclear technology remains an issue, consistent consultations have led to clear U.S. recognition of North Korea's will to abandon its nuclear program along with the 'difficulties' North Korea faces in the actual implementation of such. North Korea, in turn, has observed a more flexible U.S. position and obtained U.S. consent to eventually normalize U.S.-North Korea relations through a bilateral framework
    ※ South Korea was seen as playing a major role in coordinating U.S.-North Korea communication and drawing agreement between the three parties (U.S./SK/NK) as an active mediator.

Recess period announced to retain momentum

  • Participants hoped to be able to put together a 'Joint Declaration' rather than a 'Chairman's Statement', but remaining issues such as the peaceful use of nuclear technology have so far prevented them from doing so.
  • Instead of ending the 4th round, participating states introduced a recess period for the purpose of preparing a 'Joint Declaration on Principles and Objectives' that may serve as the basis for the next round of talks.

General agreement on principles such as the denuclearization of the Peninsula

  • The six participating states reconfirmed their shared will for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has expressed willingness to abandon its nuclear weapons program, while other states have clarified their positions concerning concessions and support (such as energy aid). Moreover, the U.S. has expressed willingness to normalize relations with North Korea.
  • China, tas a mediator, has drawn up four separate drafts of a Joint Declaration containing general and inclusive articles on the issues presented during the 4th round of the talks. Also included in the drafts is an article on 'establishing peace on the Peninsula', suggesting that discussions to upgrade the current armistice to a peace treaty may be possible. ※ It is noteworthy that the drafts presented by China are based on the 1992 SK/NK 'Joint Statement for the Denuclearization of the Peninsula'.