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MARCH 7, 2001
4:05 PM
CONTACT:  Council for a Livable World
Steve LaMontagne 202.543.4100 x119
John Isaacs 202.543.4100 x131
Bush to North Korea: The Engagement is off
WASHINGTON - March 7 - Only a day after the U.S. hinted that it would resume a policy of engagement with North Korea, President Bush has abruptly changed course and decided that name calling rather than negotiations is the best policy.

In his meeting today with South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, Bush labeled North Korea a threat and indicated that the U.S. was not ready to resume negotiations on ending the country's development and export of ballistic missiles and related technologies.

"If the U.S. does view North Korea as a threat, all the more reason to accelerate negotiations, not postpone them," said Steve LaMontagne, Non-Proliferation Research Analyst at Council for a Livable World Education Fund. The Council is a Washington DC-based arms control advocacy organization.

"The administration's overnight shift in rhetoric will only make it more difficult to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile programs," continued LaMontagne

Secretary of State Colin Powell echoed the President's remarks, "It [North Korea] is a threat. It's got a huge army poised on the border within artillery and rocket distance of South Korea."

Powell's remarks stand in sharp contrast to comments he made yesterday."We do plan to engage with North Korea to pick up where President Clinton and his administration left off," Powell said at a news conference. "Some promising elements were left on the table, and we'll be examining those elements."

Today's comments come at a crucial time. The 1994 Agreed Framework, under which North Korea suspended its nuclear weapons program in exchange for two light-water reactors from an international consortium led by the U.S., is being heavily criticized. Last month North Korea stated that it may end its moratorium on missile tests.

"The Bush Administration remarks threaten to push North Korea back into isolation and antagonize it into resuming its pursuit of ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons," LaMontagne argued. "North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il is already upset at what it perceives as a hard-line stance from the Bush administration." he added.

For more information on the Agreed Framework and missile talks with North Korea, please call or email for an issue brief.


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