Negotiations With North Korea

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A briefing book surfaced which contains declassified documents that shed light on the negotiations with North Korea during the Clinton administration.

William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton, the U.S. president from 1993 to 2001, and his administration made efforts to improve its relation with the so-called Hermit Kingdom.

How did these negotiations with North Korea end up? Read on and find out.

What Was The Deal With North Korea In 1994?

The Clinton administration’s negotiations with North Korea in 1994 is known as the Agreed Framework.

It was a diplomatic agreement signed between the United States and North Korea on October 21, 1994, in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Agreed Framework aimed to resolve the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Under the agreement, North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear program, including the operation of its nuclear facilities, in exchange for economic aid and two light-water nuclear reactors to be built by an international consortium.

The United States, South Korea, and Japan would provide the reactors.

In addition to freezing its nuclear program, North Korea agreed to allow inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to verify compliance with the agreement.

As part of its negotiations with North Korea, the U.S. also agreed to take steps to normalize relations with North Korea, including easing economic sanctions.

The Agreed Framework was seen as a significant step towards reducing tensions on the Korean peninsula, but it faced criticism from some who believed that North Korea would not abide by its commitments.

The agreement broke down in 2002 when the U.S. accused it of running a secret uranium enrichment program.

In response, North Korea expelled IAEA inspectors and withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Declassified Evidences Of Negotiations With North Korea

In June 2020, the National Security Archive, a non-governmental research institution located at George Washington University, published a briefing book on its website titled “New Evidence on Clinton Negotiations with North Korea.”

The documents reveal that the Clinton administration engaged in several rounds of negotiations with North Korea between 1994 and 2000.

They aimed at persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.

The two main individuals who conducted the negotiations, which ultimately led to the signing of the Agreed Framework in October 1994, were:

  • Robert Gallucci (the US Special Envoy for North Korea)
  • Kang Sok Ju (Galluci’s North Korean counterpart)

As mentioned earlier, the Agreed Framework was a landmark agreement that required North Korea to freeze its nuclear program in exchange for the following:

  • economic aid
  • energy assistance
  • provision of two light-water reactors for civilian energy purposes

The negotiations with North Korea were widely hailed at the time as a major diplomatic achievement. Unfortunately, it was ultimately derailed by a combination of factors, including North Korean cheating and U.S. domestic politics.

The declassified documents in the briefing book provide new insights into the negotiations that led to the Agreed Framework.

a. For one, they reveal that the negotiations were often contentious and difficult, with both sides making tough demands and engaging in brinksmanship.

For example, in March 1999, North Korea threatened to withdraw from the negotiations unless the U.S. provided concrete assurances that it would not attack North Korea with nuclear weapons.

b. Another is that the documents shed light on the role played by President Clinton in the negotiations with North Korea.

According to one memo, Clinton “remained personally involved in the substance of the negotiations” and was “closely tracking” the progress of the talks.

Clinton Administration Foreign Policy

The foreign policy of the Clinton administration can be characterized by a focus on international cooperation, engagement with the global economy, and the use of military force as a last resort.

Its negotiations with North Korea were part of the collective effort of President Clinton and his cabinet to work together with the reclusive nation.

Some key aspects of the Clinton administration’s foreign policy include:

1. Expansion of international trade.

Clinton was a strong advocate for free trade and sought to expand the reach of U.S. businesses into new markets.

He signed into law the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico in 1993, as well as other trade agreements with countries like China.

2. Humanitarian intervention.

The Clinton administration was willing to intervene militarily in situations where it deemed there to be a humanitarian crisis.

Examples of this include the U.S. involvement in the Balkans, where the U.S. led a NATO bombing campaign in 1999 to stop Serbian forces from committing atrocities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

3. Multilateralism.

Clinton believed in working with international organizations, such organization include the United Nations.

It principally did so to address global issues and to seek multilateral solutions to problems such as the following:

  • arms control
  • environmental protection
  • economic development

4. Middle East peace process.

The Clinton administration made several attempts to broker a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, culminating in the 2000 Camp David Summit.

Although the summit did not result in a final agreement, it was seen as a significant effort to resolve one of the world’s most intractable conflicts.

Overall, the Clinton administration sought to promote American interests and values through diplomacy, trade, and cooperation with the international community, while using military force sparingly and only as a last resort.

The negotiations with North Korea, still a part of the global community no matter how much it secludes itself, were steps to achieve the administration’s foreign policy goals.

People Also Ask

Who Gave North Korea Nuclear Weapons?

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program began in the 1980s.

The origins of North Korea’s nuclear program can be traced back to assistance from the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s, which provided North Korea with nuclear research facilities and technical expertise.

Later, North Korea obtained nuclear technology from China and Pakistan in the 1990s.

Who Is Funding North Korea?

North Korea heavily relies on the government for its funding.

The country’s main sources of income are believed to be revenue from natural resources such as coal, iron ore, and precious metals, as well as exports of textiles, seafood, and other goods.

It has received aid and loans from other countries, such as China and Russia, and has received humanitarian aid from international organizations.

Has A U.S. President Ever Been To North Korea?

As of this writing, no sitting U.S. president has ever visited North Korea.

However, Bill Clinton was the first former U.S. president to ever go to North Korea. It happened in 2009 when he visited Kim Jong-il (1941-2011), its former Supreme Leader.

Additionally, in 2018, President Donald Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to meet with a North Korean leader when he held a summit with Kim Jong-un (Jong-il’s son and successor) in Singapore.


The declassified documents that provide insight into negotiations with North Korea by the United States during the Clinton administration.

North Korea has a history of making promises to denuclearize but then reneging on those promises.

As Kim Young Sam (1927-2015), former president of South Korea (1993-1998) warned Clinton before, as quoted by the National Security Archive:

Any commitment they make can’t be relied on. . . . We can’t really trust them. . .
– South Korean President Kim Young Sam

The issues at the heart of the negotiations with North Korea in the 1990s continue to be relevant today, as the U.S. and other countries seek to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons.

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