(UPDATED) US removes DPRK from state sponsors of terror list

UPDATE 2: Below are a list of materials from the US Department of State web site related to the DPRK’s list removal:

1. Existing Sanctions and Reporting Provisions Related to North Korea (thorough, but does not mention that the DPRK never obtained MFN or NTR status with the US, making it subject to the higher column 2, Smoot-Hawley, tarrifs.

2. Briefing on North Korea With Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks Ambassador Sung Kim, Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Sean McCormack, Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation Paula DeSutter, and Acting Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation Patricia McNerney.

3. U.S.-DPRK Agreement on Denuclearization Verification Measures.

4. U.S.-North Korea Understandings on Verification

UPDATE 1: Since being removed from the list, it is now easier for the DPRK to obtain avian flu vaccinations from the US:

Yet deep inside an 86-page supplement to United States export regulations is a single sentence that bars U.S. exports of vaccines for avian bird flu and dozens of other viruses to five countries designated “state sponsors of terrorism.”

The reason: Fear that they will be used for biological warfare.

Under this little-known policy, North Korea, Iran, Cuba, Syria and Sudan may not get the vaccines unless they apply for special export licenses, which would be given or refused according to the discretion and timing of the U.S. Three of those nations – Iran, Cuba and Sudan – also are subject to a ban on all human pandemic influenza vaccines as part of a general U.S. embargo.

Under normal circumstances it would take at least six weeks to approve export licenses for any vaccine on the list, said Thomas Monath, who formerly headed a CIA advisory group on ways to counter biological attacks. All such decisions would follow negotiations at a “very high level” of government.

That could makes it harder to contain an outbreak of bird flu among chickens in, say, North Korea, which is in the region hardest hit by the virus. Sudan and Iran already have recorded cases of the virus in poultry and Syria is surrounded by affected countries. Cuba, like all nations, is vulnerable because the disease is delivered by migratory birds.(Associated Press)

ORIGINAL POST:
As reported in the Associated Press Saturday morning:

North Korea has agreed to all U.S. nuclear inspection demands and the Bush administration responded Saturday by removing the communist country from a terrorism blacklist. The breakthrough is intended to salvage a faltering disarmament accord before President Bush leaves office in January.

“Every single element of verification that we sought going in is part of this package,” State Department Sean McCormack said at a a rare weekend briefing.

North Korea will allow atomic experts to take samples and conduct forensic tests at all of its declared nuclear facilities and undeclared sites on mutual consent. The North will permit experts to verify that it has told the truth about transfers of nuclear technology and an alleged uranium program.

Verifying North Korea’s nuclear proliferation will be a serious challenge. This is the most secret and opaque regime in the entire world,” said Patricia McNerney, assistant secretary for international security and nonprofileration.

Proponents of de-listing say it is an important step in accomplishing the goals of the six-party talks which are ultimately aimed at realizing a denuclearized Korean peninsula.  Critics of this agreement claim that it addresses only the DPRK’s plutonium program while ignoring nuclear proliferation and uranium enrichment.  

North Korea stepped up the pressure this week barring IAEA inspectors from the DPRK’s nuclear facilities at Yongbyon:

North Korea “today informed International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors that effective immediately access to facilities at Yongbyon would no longer be permitted,” IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire said today in an e-mail. The country “has informed the IAEA that our monitoring activities would no longer be appropriate.”

The demand that inspectors leave the whole complex, which is the source of the country’s weapons-grade plutonium, followed a Sept. 24 instruction that monitors quit the reprocessing plant. The new orders will prevent UN personnel from seeing whether North Korea is removing spent uranium fuel rods from cold-water holding tanks. Spent uranium can be turned into plutonium.

IAEA inspectors will remain in the town of Yongbyon until ordered to leave by North Korean authorities, the agency said. (Bloomberg)

UPDATE: According to Reuters, “North Korea said on Sunday it would resume taking apart its plutonium-producing nuclear plant and allow in inspectors in response to a U.S. decision to remove it from a terrorism blacklist and salvage a faltering nuclear deal.”

Despite these recent developments, or maybe because of them, the Bush administration quickly negotiated a de-listing agreement with Pyongyang and spent the last few days selling it to other governments involved in the six-party talks. Though South Korea supported the move, the Japanese government was divided.  Japanese Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa (a North Korea hard-liner) called the move “extremely regrettable” as Japan was using US terrorism de-listing as leverage to discover the whereabouts of kidnapped Japanese citizens.  This leverage is now gone since the next president of the US will not likely go through the effort of adding the DPRK to the list again.  Other members of the Japanese government, however, believe there will not be any resolution to this issue until the nuclear issue is resolved. 

De-listing marks the end of the second of three phases agreed to in the six-party talks.  The third stage includes completely dismantling Yongbyon and ending atomic development on the Korean peninsula.  This is likely to be even more difficult than the previous stages. (Bloomberg)

De-listing, however, carries more political than economic significance.  According to the State Department web site (here) countries are added to the list for the following reasons:

Countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism are designated pursuant to three laws: section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act (which expred in August 2001), section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act (wikipedia), and section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act. Taken together, the four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation under these authorities include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.

Designation under the above-referenced authorities also implicates other sanctions laws that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with state sponsors. Currently there are five countries designated under these authorities: Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria.

As discussed before (here and here), the DPRK still faces a myriad of legal barriers which restrict it from accessing global trade and financial markets, including the US Column 2 tariffs (Smoot-Hawley Tariffs), US Treasury sanctions, bilateral Japanese sanctions (renewed on Friday), and recent UN resolutions 1695 and 1718.  In other words, the DPRK does not have much to gain financially from de-lisitng.

Here is the initial executive order to begin de-listing.  Now that the US terrorism list is one country shorter, who remains? Cuba, Iran, Syria, Sudan.

Read the full article here:
N Korea off US blacklist after nuke inspection deal
Associated Press (via Washington Post)
Matthew Lee
10/11/2008

N. Korea Removed From U.S. List of Terror Sponsors
Bloomberg
James Rowley and Viola Gienger
10/11/2008

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