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Pyongyang signed NPT for Soviet military support: CIA

Nov 01,2017
North Korea signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1985 not to denuclearize, but to receive military assistance and financial support from Russia, which tried to use Pyongyang’s participation as leverage to pressure other pro-American nations to follow suit during the Cold War, according to a classified CIA document drafted in March 1986.

Copies of the “North Korea-USSR: Implications of NPT Accession” report, which ran in an online Radio Free Asia article Monday, partially read, “North Korea’s recent accession to the Nonproliferation Treaty and its growing nuclear cooperation with the Soviet Union will place controls on a suspect nuclear program but will not eliminate some longer term risks of nuclear weapons development on the Korean Peninsula.”

It added, “We believe Pyongyang has decided Soviet help is essential to developing a nuclear power program, while Moscow views the cooperation … of increasing influence in North Korea on the expense of the Chinese.”

A paragraph titled “Pyongyang’s Objectives and Soviet-North Korean Relations” read that North Korea’s accession to the NPT was “no doubt a condition for Soviet help” to its nuclear program and “conceivably a condition for increases in conventional military and economic assistance.” For the North, Soviet help was “essential” to help relieve chronic energy shortages.

Mentioning North Korean Premier Kang Song-san’s visit to Moscow from Dec. 24 to 28, 1985, during which Russia agreed to help the North construct a nuclear power plant, the CIA assessed that discussions on the reactor deal and NPT accession may have been under way since May 1984, when then-North Korean leader Kim Il Sung visited the Russian capital.

The deal, according to the CIA, probably involved one or more electric pressurized water reactors of the type the Soviets were constructing in Cuba. In return, Russia wanted to use North Korea’s participation in the NPT as some sort of a diplomatic tool to pressure Israel, South Africa and Pakistan, all U.S. allies, into jointing the pact as well, Radio Free Asia cited the CIA as having written, though the exact English wording was not specified.

It is difficult to figure out North Korea’s true intentions, said the American intelligence agency, because the regime had not signed a safeguard accord with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), disallowing the nuclear watchdog’s inspectors from reaching anywhere near its nuclear facilities.

The safeguards refer to a set of technical measures that allow the IAEA to independently verify a state’s legal commitment not to divert nuclear material from peaceful nuclear activities to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, according to IAEA descriptions.

North Korea eventually walked out on the NPT in January 2003, citing an article that allows withdrawal for supreme national security considerations. The move had shortly come after the IAEA board of governors condemned in the “strongest terms” Pyongyang’s decision to restart its uranium enrichment program, and urged IAEA inspectors to verify the program was subject to its safeguards.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]