Bring Peace To North Korea

High tension on the Korean peninsula and Pyongyang's recent revelation of a modern uranium enrichment plant come as the latest obstacles to the resumption of international talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear ambitions. The BBC looks at the background to the stop-start talks.

Who and what is involved?
File image of Yongbyon reactor from February 2002 Negotiations over North Korea's nuclear programme have been a stop-start process. The international negotiations on North Korea's nuclear programme involve South Korea, China, the US, Russia and Japan, as well as Pyongyang. China hosts the talks.

In September 2005, after more than two years of on-off talks, North Korea agreed a landmark deal to give up its nuclear ambitions in return for economic aid and political concessions.

But implementing the deal has proved extremely difficult, and the talks have been stalled since April 2009.

Why are they stalled?
Early wrangling involved the timeline for implementing the deal - the stages at which North Korea and its negotiating partners, primarily the US, should take particular steps.

On 9 October 2006, with the talks deadlocked, North Korea conducted its first nuclear test. The UN responded with sanctions - but talks resumed three months later.

They stalled again for several more months over the issue of $25m (£13m) in North Korean funds frozen because of the sanctions in a bank in Macau. Once the funds had been released, the talks appeared to begin moving forward.

In June 2007, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were allowed to visit the Yongbyon reactor - North Korea's source of plutonium - for the first time since 2002. A month later, North Korea shut the reactor down and was rewarded with a US pledge to take it off the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Dismantling work began on the reactor and North Korea began handing over details of its nuclear programmes. On 27 June 2008, in a symbolic gesture, it blew up the cooling tower at Yongbyon.

But the talks then became deadlocked over the issue of how Pyongyang's negotiating partners should verify that the information it had handed over was correct and complete, particularly on the issue of a possible uranium enrichment programme.

As relations deteriorated, North Korea carried out what it said was the launch of a satellite. Western nations said it was a pretext to test a type of missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Then on 14 April 2009 Pyongyang announced that it was pulling out of the six-party talks and, a month later, conducted its second nuclear test.

Since then the talks have not resumed. And tensions on the Korean peninsula have been high since an international panel blamed North Korea for sinking a South Korean navy warship in March, with the loss of 46 lives.

Does the news about the uranium enrichment plant change things?
US and South Korean officials have expressed surprise at the scale and modernity of the plant - which is equipped with at least 1,000 centrifuges - but not at the fact that it exists.

Christopher Hill, America's former top delegate to the six-party talks, said that North Korean purchases 10 years ago, as well as evidence found at Yongbyon more recently, had pointed to the presence of such a facility. He said that this was why the US had sought a stringent verification process for the information that North Korea had handed over.

Siegfried Hecker, the US scientist to whom the new facility was shown, said that while it appeared primarily aimed at civilian nuclear power, it could be "readily converted to produce highly enriched uranium bomb fuel".

As such, it would give North Korea a second way of making nuclear bombs, in addition to its plutonium-based programme.

Is North Korea concealing anything else?
Both the US and South Korea say they believe North Korea has additional sites linked to a uranium enrichment programme.

In December 2010 US state department spokesman Philip Crowley said that the work being done at the site shown to Siegfried Hecker could not have been achieved if other related sites did not already exist.

"We're very conscious of the fact that, in the recent revelations to American delegations, what they saw did not come out of thin air," he said. "It certainly reflects work being done at at least one other site."

So are the six-party talks dead?
Stephen Bosworth, the current US delegate to the six-party talks, said he did not rule out further engagement with North Korea but that he did not believe in "talking just for the sake of talking". North Korea had to approach negotiations with a "measure of seriousness", he said.

China has consistently called for the talks to resume, while Japan has called for greater regional co-operation to tackle the issue.

South Korea has said that the talks cannot resume until the issue of the sunken warship, the Cheonan, has been fully addressed. In the wake of North Korea's 23 November 2010 shelling of a South Korean island - which left four people dead - tensions between the two Koreas remain very high.

As for North Korea, it certainly wants the economic incentives and political concessions promised if it denuclearises. And it has called for the talks to resume in the wake of the 23 November incident. But some analysts believe that North Korea will never fully give up its atomic capability because the impoverished and isolated regime has few other cards to play.

Why does the issue of North Korea's nuclear capability matter so much?
The two Koreas remain technically at war, since no peace treaty was signed after the 1950-53 Korean conflict.

North Korea has a million-strong army. The North-South border is one of the most heavily militarised in the world.

Pyongyang's nuclear tests have sparked debate in Japan on allowing its military the option to launch a pre-emptive strike if it fears a missile attack. A fully nuclear North Korea could trigger an East Asian arms race, as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, for instance, consider whether to go nuclear as well.

Could North Korea drop a nuclear bomb now?
North Korea is believed to have enough plutonium to make about six bombs, but it is not thought to have yet developed a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

The second nuclear test, however, added to suspicions that the North is moving closer to becoming a fully fledged nuclear-armed state.

Just take a seat and Bring North Korean Peace
That's so great if two different Korean make a peace and stopping war, especially on Nuclear War. We trust that will be happen someday. God Bless North Korea and other countries.

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