Nuclear Nonproliferation:

Implementation of the U.S./North Korean Agreed Framework on Nuclear Issues

RCED/NSIAD-97-165: Published: Jun 2, 1997. Publicly Released: Jun 16, 1997.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed issues related to the implementation of the Agreed Framework between the United States and North Korea, focusing on: (1) U.S. costs to implement the Agreed Framework; (2) options for disposing of North Korea's existing spent (used) fuel; (3) the contracting for light-water reactors and other goods and services being provided to North Korea under the agreement; (4) the status of actions to normalize economic and political relations between the United States and North Korea; and (5) the status of actions to promote peace and security on the Korean Peninsula.

GAO noted that: (1) as of April 1, 1997, the United States had approved about $82 million in funding to implement the Agreed Framework; (2) the total cost to the United States is unknown but is expected to reach tens of millions of dollars; (3) South Korea and Japan are expected to provide the majority of the estimated $4 billion needed to construct the two light-water reactors; (4) the removal of North Korea's 50,000 kilograms of spent nuclear reactor fuel is expected to begin in about 4 to 7 years; (5) North Korea's spent fuel could either be reprocessed and stored or stored without reprocessing until a deep underground repository is available for the fuel's permanent disposal; (6) the international organization created to implement portions of the Agreed Framework has developed draft guidelines for contracting for services needed to carry out the agreement; (7) details about how the organization's prime contractor will procure goods and services for the reactors' construction will not be known until the contract is finalized; (8) as specified in the Agreed Framework, the United States has taken steps to normalize its economic and political relations with North Korea; (9) further progress will depend on addressing issues of concern to the United States, such as the return of the remains of U.S. soldiers missing in action from the Korean War; (10) progress on issues of concern has been limited; (11) the United States expects that improved relations between the two Koreas will contribute to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula; (12) in April 1996, the United States and South Korea invited North Korea to participate in peace talks; and (13) while North Korea accepted the talks "in principle," there has been no agreement about the timing of the talks or the steps needed to initiate them.

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