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Six-Party Talks

3rd Round Talks


Time and Place Jun. 23~25, 2004 (Beijing, China)
  • Lee Soo-hyuk Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
  • Kim Gye-gwan Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • James Kelly Assistant State Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs
  • Wang Yi Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Yabunaka Mitoji Director-General of Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau
  • Alexander Losyukov Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs


  • Failure to announce a Joint Declaration / agreement on a Chairman's Statement of eight articles

- Chairman's Statement - reconfirmation of determination for the denuclearization of the Peninsula, stresses the prompt specification of the scope/time, interval/method of verification for the CVID process as a first step in resolving the crisis / emphasizes gradual progress under 'words for words' and 'actions for actions'

- Agreement to hold 4th round of talks in Beijing before September 2004

Main Issues

U.S. - presents working-level plan for the first time

  • The U.S. presents a working-level plan, similar to South Korea '3-stage process', for the first time at the 3rd round of the talks
  • The plan accepts some North Korea requests, such as providing energy and ensuring regime security in exchange for North Korea actions to freeze nuclear program
Summary of the U.S. Proposa
North Korea Actions Concessions (implemented gradually)
Announcement on abandoning nuclear program (including HEU) / enacting preparatory measures to dismantle nuclear facilities ( within 3 months ) ⅰ) Consent for South Korea/China/Japan/Russia to provide North Korea with crude oil
ⅱ) Multilateral security assurance, including non-aggression treaty
ⅲ) Provision of non-nuclear energy
ⅳ) Discussion of U.S. declassification of North Korea as state sponsor of terrorism
Complete denuclearization Pursuit of normalization of U.S.-NK relations

North Korea - modifies position on freezing program and CVID

  • North Korea expresses willingness to freeze all facilities and reprocessed materials concerned with nuclear weapons - and also possibly nuclear use altogether - so long as certain conditions are met.
  • North Korea also states that the freeze would include a pledge to halt further production, transfer, or testing of nuclear weapons. ※ North Korea also announces that it is willing to include its facilities in Yongbyon in the proposed freeze.


Six-party framework retained / U.S. and NK present working-level plans

  • Both the U.S. and North Korea present specific working-level plans as basis for future negotiations.

Continued U.S.-NK distrust and emphasis on 'the other's action first'

  • Much progress is achieved during the 3rd round of the talks through the revised and detailed working-level plans proposed by both the U.S. and North Korea. North Korea even comments that the U.S. proposal was 'constructive'.
  • However, the mutual distrust between the two parties proves to be deep-rooted; both express reluctance to take action until the other takes verifiable action first.
  • Both parties fail to bridge fundamental differences in opinions concerning the scope of CVID, peaceful use of nuclear technology, and the existence/method of verification of HEU.
Developments Until the 4th Round
  • The window of opportunity provided by the outcomes of the 3rd round is squandered due to deteriorating U.S.-NK relations stemming from pressure from U.S. hard-liners (who pushed for a Lybian model of disarmament) and the U.S. Congress' passing of North Korea Human Rights Act. The 4th round of talks fail to convene before the September 2004 deadline.
  • Dashing the hopes of North Korea leadership, President George W. Bush is re-elected to a second term in November 2004. North Korea takes a 'wait-and-see' stance.
  • Various negative events occur during the organization of the Bush administration's North Korea policy-related staff, headed by Condoleezza Rice and Christopher Hill: tensions following U.S. officials' use of the term, 'outpost of tyranny' in reference to North Korea; North Korea's Feb. 10 announcement on its possession of nuclear weapons; the DRPK proposal to transform the talks into a regional arms-reduction negotiation, etc.
  • With the talks being suspended for more than a year since the last (3rd) round, participant states begin to question the usefulness of the talks by June 2005. The six-party talks are in danger of losing momentum
  • Agreement to hold a 4th round of talks comes after a series of events including: South Korea-U.S. summit talks; a softer U.S. attitude toward North Korea; U.S. Secretary of State Rice's remark acknowledging North Korea sovereignty; resumption of U.S.-NK contact through the New York channel; South Korea Unification Minister Chung Dong-young's talks with Kim Jong-il; unofficial contact between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Hill and North Korea Vice Foreign Minister Kim; suggestion of the possibility of bilateral U.S.-NK talks within the six-party framework; and South Korea government's announcement of its own 'important proposal'.