[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]A reader’s correctionsI’m pleased to encourage 10th grader Heeje Yoo to further develop his research and reasoning skills. A student needs to rigorously question and cross-check his sources and assumptions, and the inaccuracy of Heeje’s notion that the United States broke its 1994 treaty obligation to provide light-water reactors (LWR) is no doubt due to tainted sources. By contrast, the U.S. Government responded entusiastically to North Korea’s decision to freeze its nuclear program by authorizing numerous financial transactions, unblocking frozen assets and authorizing the LWR project.
Although smooth implementation of the agreement was obstructed by North Korea’s refusal to accept South Korean-designed model reactors, the issue was resolved in Kuala Lumpur in 1995 and a groundbreaking ceremony to begin construction of two light-water reactors was held in August, 1997. The US and its allies have since spent over $1.3 billion to finance reactor construction and to provide 500,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil annually to the North in accordance with their commitments.
However, in October 2002, in violation of the Agreed Framework, North Korean officials acknowledged the existence of a clandestine program to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. It subsequently expelled International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors and announced its withdrawal from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). On November 21, 2003 KEDO suspended construction in response to the North’s treaty violation.
Pyongyang’s justifications have been false accusations that Washington is targeting North Korea for “preemptive nuclear attack” and working toward “regime change,” making Heeje’s argument that the U.S. is “aggressively accusing the North, as if America has something to be proud about” ironic. The U.S. does indeed have much to be proud of for ending an 18-month crisis by the Agreed Framework, during which North Korea announced its intention to withdraw from the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
The U.S.’s inestimable contributions to the Korean peninsula have helped this country to emerge as a peaceful, more affluent democratic nation where today’s impressionable young students are now free to repeat North Korea-inspired disinformation. The U.S. gives abundant humanitarian aid to North Korea while continuing to negotiate in good faith. Anti-American statements in circulation today owe a great debt to rumors and mistruths and to ignoring the U.S.’s real record of massive sacrifices on behalf of the people of this peninsula.
As you continue your studies, Heeje, I recommend that you subject every political assertion you read to the scrutiny of rigorous critical analysis. May your future opinions be well informed ones!
by Ron Stevenson