Foreign Affairs, Military, Nuclear Weapons

Living History with Ambassador Robert Gallucci

Negotiating the 1994 Agreed Framework

The 1994 Agreed Framework was the result of negotiations between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) over the course of nearly two years. Signed on October 21, 1994, the goal of the agreement was to freeze North Korea’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

North Korea had previously built a 5MWe graphite-moderated nuclear reactor at a location called Yongbyon, and it was believed that the DPRK was using separated plutonium from the reactor to develop nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) detected suspicious activity at the site and called on North Korea to comply with its IAEA safeguards agreement as well as to submit to adhoc inspections. A larger international crisis erupted when the DPRK refused to comply with its treaty obligations and the IAEA referred the case to the UN Security Council. In March 1993, North Korea announced its intent to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

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The Agreed Framework was eventually concluded after North Korea agreed to freeze the operation and construction of its nuclear reactors in exchange for new proliferation-resistant light water reactors to be provided by a consortium of nations including the United States. As part of the deal, North Korea agreed to adhoc IAEA inspections and large amounts of heavy fuel oil were to be provided to the country to meet its energy needs during the construction of the new reactors. Negotiations that led to the signing of the agreement not only involved bilateral talks between the U.S. and DPRK but also multilateral talks between the U.S., Republic of Korea, Japan, and other countries from the European Union.

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