Nuclear declaration and US Sanctions

UPDATE 3:  Executive Order: Continuing Certain Restrictions with Respect to North Korea and North Korean Nationals

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.) (NEA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that the current existence and risk of the proliferation of weapons-usable fissile material on the Korean Peninsula constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat. I further find that, as we deal with that threat through multilateral diplomacy, it is necessary to continue certain restrictions with respect to North Korea that would otherwise be lifted pursuant to a forthcoming proclamation that will terminate the exercise of authorities under the Trading With the Enemy Act (50 U.S.C. App. 1 et seq.) (TWEA) with respect to North Korea.

Accordingly, I hereby order:

Section 1. Except to the extent provided in statutes or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the date of this order, the following are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:

all property and interests in property of North Korea or a North Korean national that, pursuant to the President’s authorities under the TWEA, the exercise of which has been continued in accordance with section 101(b) of Public Law 95-223 (91 Stat. 1625; 50 U.S.C. App. 5(b) note), were blocked as of June 16, 2000, and remained blocked immediately prior to the date of this order.

Sec. 2. Except to the extent provided in statutes or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the date of this order, United States persons may not register a vessel in North Korea, obtain authorization for a vessel to fly the North Korean flag, or own, lease, operate, or insure any vessel flagged by North Korea.

Sec. 3. (a) Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Sec. 4. For the purposes of this order:

(a) the term “person” means an individual or entity;

(b) the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization; and

(c) the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.

Sec. 5. The Secretary of the Treasury, after consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order.

Sec. 6. The Secretary of the Treasury, after consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to submit the recurring and final reports to the Congress on the national emergency declared in this order, consistent with section 401(c) of the NEA (50 U.S.C. 1641(c)) and section 204(c) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1703(c)).

Sec. 7. This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.



June 26, 2008.

UPDATE 2: How much plutonium does the DPRK have?

From the Daily Times (Pakistan):

But there may be problems ahead with the declaration. Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported an informed source as saying the North declared it produced around 30 kg (66 lbs) of plutonium, while US officials have said they think it is closer to 50 kg. Sung Kim, a State Department envoy who witnessed the cooling tower blast, told reporters in Seoul on Saturday that there might not be enough time to complete the North’s denuclearisation before President George W Bush leaves office in January 2009.

‘Emotionally attached’: Kim said North Koreans engineers appeared to have formed an “emotional attachment” to their atomic programme that has become apparent during international efforts to dismantle it. Kim told reporters that he saw emotion in Ri Yong-ho, head of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, and his colleagues when they all witnessed Friday’s demolition of the plant’s cooling tower. “I think I detected a sense of sadness when the tower came down but I thought he put it well when he was asked what this all meant for him and he said that he just hoped this would contribute to peace and stability,” said Ri.  

“US Treasury says N.Korea sanctions remain in place”
Reuters via Guardian
David Lawder

U.S. Treasury financial sanctions aimed at ending North Korean money laundering, illicit financing activities and weapons proliferation remain in effect despite the easing of other sanctions against Pyongyang, a Treasury spokesman said on Thursday.

The move by the Bush administration to lift some sanctions after North Korea delivered a long-delayed account of its nuclear activities will not restore the country’s access to the international banking system, Treasury spokesman John Rankin said.

North Korea was largely cut off from the international banking system in 2005 when the Treasury named Banco Delta Asia, a small bank in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau, as a primary money laundering concern.

The Treasury accused the bank of circulating counterfeit U.S. currency produced by North Korea, and of knowingly handling transactions by North Korean entities involved in illicit activities, including the narcotics trade and sales of counterfeit cigarettes and other goods.

Both North Korea and Banco Delta Asia have denied the Treasury’s allegations.

Although about $25 million in frozen North Korean funds in Banco Delta Asia was released last year, the sanctions against the bank, which prohibit transactions with U.S. banks, remain in effect, Rankin said. International banks have largely shunned Banco Delta Asia as well.

As recently as April, Treasury officials said so called “supernotes” — high quality counterfeit $100 bills produced by North Korea, were still surfacing.

“The lifting of sanctions associated with the Trading with the Enemy Act, and removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism does not represent North Korea’s re-integration into the international financial system,” he said.

Sanctions that prohibit U.S. companies from owning, leasing, operating, insuring North Korean-flagged shipping vessels, as well as registering vessels in North Korea, remain in place. 

ORIGINAL POST: Today North Korean made the nuclear declaration required by the February 2007 six-party agreement.  This web site does not focus on the nuclear issue, but this turn of events represents a significant US policy shift with economic implications for the DPRK.  The coverage has been overwhelming, so below are media excerpts that cover most of the angles:

“Pyongyang Submits Nuclear Declaration”
Wall Street Journal
Evan Ramstad

After keeping the U.S. and other countries waiting for 15 months, North Korea delivered a description of its efforts to develop nuclear weapons, setting up the next – and more difficult – stage in an international effort to disarm and reshape the isolated, authoritarian country.

North Korean diplomats gave a declaration of its nuclear-weapons program to Chinese counterparts in Beijing who have been coordinating the six-nation talks. In return, U.S. President George W. Bush announced the lifting of some trade sanctions and beginning of the process of removing North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terror. (Read the text of the White House statement here).

Under the February 2007 deal, North Korea also agreed to disable a nuclear plant that provided fuel for its nuclear weapons, a step that’s also nearly complete. On Friday, it plans to blow up the cooling tower at the nuclear plant and invited TV crews from several countries, including the U.S. and South Korea, to record the event.

The contents of North Korea’s declaration weren’t immediately disclosed. In recent weeks, U.S. diplomats have said they didn’t expect it to include a key piece of data – how many nuclear weapons the country has built. The document also is believed to be limited to North Korea’s efforts to develop plutonium as a nuclear fuel, but doesn’t mention suspected research into highly-enriched uranium as a fuel nor its suspected proliferation efforts to Syria.

“North Korea removed from US ‘axis of evil'”
London Times
Jeremy Page and Richard Lloyd Parry

The US move, which will also see a lifting of long-running sanctions, would mark the most significant thaw in relations between Washington and Pyongyang since the 1950-53 Korean War. Mr Bush said that it was intended to reward and encourage North Korean co-operation and accelerate the tangled negotiations on the country’s nuclear disarmament.

In the first instance, America will exempt North Korea from sanctions under the Trading with the Enemy Act, a piece of First World War legislation that was employed during the Korean War, and which restricts trade with Pyongyang by US companies and citizens. The only other country subject to its provisions is Cuba.

It also gave notice that it would start the 45-day process of removing North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, where it stands alongside Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria. Sanctions against them include a ban on arms sales, economic assistance, and an obligation on the US Government to oppose loans to listed countries by such international institutions as the World Bank.

“Diplomacy Is Working on North Korea”
Wall Street Journal
Condoleeza Rice
6/26/2008; Page A15

In its declaration, North Korea will state how much plutonium it possesses. We will not accept that statement on faith. We will insist on verification. North Korea has already turned over nearly 19,000 pages of production records from its Yongbyon reactor and associated facilities. With additional information we expect to receive – access to other documents, relevant sites, key personnel and the reactor itself – these records will help to verify the accuracy and completeness of Pyongyang’s declaration. North Korea’s plutonium program has been by far its largest nuclear effort over many decades, and we believe our policy could verifiably get the regime out of the plutonium-making business.

Getting a handle on North Korea’s uranium-enrichment program is harder, because we simply do not know its full scale or what it yielded. And yet, because of our current policy, we now know more about North Korea’s uranium-enrichment efforts than before, and we are learning more still – much of it troubling. North Korea acknowledges our concerns about its uranium-enrichment program, and we will insist on getting to the bottom of this issue.

Similarly, we know that North Korea proliferated nuclear technology to Syria, but we do not know whether that is the end of the story. Rather than just trying to address this threat unilaterally, we will be more effective in learning about North Korean proliferation and preventing its continuation through a cooperative effort with Japan, South Korea, China and Russia.

And in return for these steps, what have we given thus far? No significant economic assistance. No trade or investment cooperation. No security guarantees or normalized relations. And our many sanctions on North Korea, both bilateral and multilateral, remain in place.

“‘Good start’ to UN’s Syria probe”

The head of a UN team investigating allegations that Syria has been working on a secret nuclear weapons programme says their work is off to a good start.

The IAEA official, Olli Heinonen, said inspectors had taken samples at the al-Kibar site in the Syrian desert.

“It was a good start, but there’s still work that remains to be done,” he said.

“For this trip we did what we agreed to. We achieved what we wanted on this first trip. We took samples which we wanted to take. Now it’s time to analyse them.”

Mr Heinonen also said he was generally satisfied with the level of co-operation by Syria.

Additional information: 

To read a hawk perspective, see Josh’s post at One Free Korea.  Also, the Telegraph (UK) reports that Vice President Cheney tried to block the deal.

David Kang spoke to NPR’s Market Place.

US move reduces Japan’s negotiation leverage over DPRK.


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