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US Ambassador Bosworth briefing on North Korea, 3 April
U.S. Policy Regarding North Korea April 3, 2009 FPC Briefing
Ambassador Stephen W. Bosworth Special Representative for North
Korea Policy, U.S. Department of State Foreign Press Center
MODERATOR: Okay. Welcome to the Washington Foreign Press
Center. We are very honored to have with us our Special
Representative for North Korea Policy Ambassador Stephen
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Thank you very much. It's good to be
here this morning. I recognize some faces and I suspect I will come
to recognize more.
I have now been in this position for about six weeks. It has been
a rather busy six weeks. I made, together with Ambassador Sung Kim
and colleagues, a trip to the region. We went to Beijing, Tokyo and
Seoul. In Seoul, we consulted with our Russian partners in the
Six-Party process. And I met with the press several times on that
trip. This is the first time I've met with the press since being
Let me just say a few words and then I'll take your questions. On
the subject of the missile launch, which I suspect is at the
forefront of everyone's mind, I really don't have anything new to
say. We have continued to press the North Koreans and other
countries on the issue of a missile launch. We take the position,
as you know, that it is a violation of UN Security Council
Resolution 1718. We have continued to urge, as we urge now, the
DPRK not to launch this. Whether it's a satellite launch or a
missile launch, in our judgment, makes no difference. It is a
provocative act. And we hope that they will still reconsider and
not do this.
If it does occur, we will be continuing to work closely with our
partners and our allies in the UN Security Council to consult
vigorously on what action might then be appropriate. We believe
that a defiance of a UN Security Council resolution is an action
that requires that there be some consequences, and that will be our
objective. At the same time, however, I would also say that we
continue to look with great interest, and give great priority, to
the need to resume the Six-Party discussions with the goal of the
denuclearization - the verifiable denuclearization - of the Korean
Peninsula. And that remains, of course, our long-term goal. And we
would hope to be able to return to that goal in as reasonable a
period of time as possible.
So with that brief introduction, I would be happy to take
MODERATOR: Wait, just one moment, please. I'd ask you,
please, to wait for the microphone and identify your media. Start
in the back. Sir.
QUESTION: Zoltan Mikes, World Business Press Online,
Slovakia. I would like to ask if you have a set of negative
incentives, like a set of punishments, what happens if North Korea
do not - do not back up, end their launch? This flight, and if -
because the positive ones didn't work in the past, so what do you
plan to do if North Korea will go on and they'll provoke?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I really am not going to get into that
question in any depth at all, other than to say that we will
continue to consult with our partners and the other members of the
UN Security Council on what would be an appropriate response.
QUESTION: Hi, good morning. Tomohiro Deguchi with Kyodo
News, Japanese wire. It looks like the North Koreans are trying to
link the missile issue and the Six-Party Talk issue. It's - if you
bring the missile issue to the UN Security Council, then they are
going to leave from the Six-Party Talk framework. And is that your
position to - I mean, if they move forward on the denuclearization,
are you willing to give them the remaining assistance, which is the
Japanese portion, about 200,000 tons? Thank you.
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I'm sorry, the two questions seem
conflated somehow. Whether the North Koreans step back from the
Six-Party Talks as a result of what might happen in the UN Security
Council as a result of their decision to launch a missile is up to
the North Koreans. We can't obviously control that. I would hope
that they would not link the two issues because from our point of
view, both are important.
With regard to fuel deliveries, that's something we continue to
consult with our partners about, and I am confident that when we
get back to the negotiating table in the Six-Party process, that we
will be able to find solutions to that question.
MODERATOR: I'm going to take a question from New York via
videoconference. Go ahead, New York.
QUESTION: Okay. Hi, Mr. Ambassador. My question is about
the UN Security Council discussion and - well, actually, given the
fact that North Korea is threatening to withdraw from the Six-Party
Talks, do you think - if there's any chance for the U.S. to make a
compromise in the discussion to talk them into coming back to the
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I really do not want to prejudice the
outcome of discussions that may occur in the UN Security Council,
so I really can't comment on that. As I just said, we would hope
and believe strongly that everyone has a long-term interest -
regardless of this short-term problem, everyone has a long-term
interest in getting back to the negotiations in the Six-Party
process as expeditiously as possible. I'm not able to predict when
that might occur, but we will be talking vigorously with our
partners in the process to try to bring that about.
MODERATOR: Okay. Back there.
QUESTION: Arshad Mohammed of Reuters. Ambassador Bosworth,
one, can you tell us how it is that you are urging the North
Koreans not to go ahead with this proposed launch? Is it in direct
contacts with them in - through the New York channel or otherwise?
Or is it simply through intermediaries or is it just the sort of -
you know, the comments that we've heard in public from the State
Department spokesman and now yourself?
And secondly, are you not - you know, the Administration has made
very clear from the Secretary on down that a launch would have
consequences. Are you not concerned that consequences, whatever
they might be, will simply push the North Koreans further away from
returning to the Six-Party Talks?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: We have been communicating our
position to the North Koreans in a variety of ways including most
of the ones that you enumerated - through the New York channel,
through our partners who are doing so directly, and through our
And my concern that acting to show that there are consequences
would have an impact on the Six-Party - on the Six-Party Talks,
obviously, there are connections here. But as I said, we believe
that one, we have an obligation to demonstrate that there are
consequences for the defiance of a UN Security Council resolution,
and we believe that a missile launch, satellite launch, whatever it
is, is in violation of that resolution.
We also believe quite strongly that all parties concerned,
including the North Koreans, have an interest in coming back to the
table to complete the discussions and the negotiations on the
denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
MODERATOR: Yes, right here.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. My name is Ai Awaji.
I'm from Japanese newswire Jiji Press. So how are you going to get
them back to the negotiation table? Are you still prepared to go
back to Pyongyang if they invite you after the missile launch?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I don't know what's going to happen
specifically after the missile launch, but I am prepared to go to
Pyongyang whenever it appears to be useful. Whether we will be
invited or not, I don't know. We will be, as I said earlier,
working very closely with our partners to ensure that after the
dust of the missiles settles a bit, we get back to the longer-term
priority of the missile - of the Six-Party Talks.
MODERATOR: I'll take the next question from New York. Go
ahead, New York.
QUESTION: Yes, it's Ronda Hauben and I'm from Ohmy News
International. And my question is: Is it possible that this is, in
fact, not a provocative act of North Korea, but it's a modification
of its activities? Because it isn't launching a missile; it's
saying it's launching a satellite, and a satellite is not a
missile. And so has that been considered? And has it been
considered that there's an - this is part of an effort to have the
talks resume and that this should be looked at that way?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I think it's a stretch to characterize
this as part of an effort to have the talks resume. That the rest
of the international community reacts adversely to a launch will
come as no surprise to the North Koreans.
In our view, and this is a view shared by many others, UN Security
Council Resolution 1718 prohibits any launch, whether it's a
ballistic missile or whether it's to launch a satellite. And the
reason for that is that we are concerned that even a satellite
launch would advance North Korean capabilities in a way that would
prove provocative and destabilizing.
MODERATOR: Okay. Here, this lady.
QUESTION: Good morning, Rosslyn Jordan with Al Jazeera
English. Much was made during the last administration about the
efforts between the United States and China to put positive
pressure on Pyongyang. What can you say about a similar
relationship in order to make Pyongyang back away from this planned
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I would only say that we've been
working very closely and productively with the Chinese, and I think
that that line of cooperation will continue. We share a broad range
of common interests with regard to the region and particularly with
regard to North Korea.
MODERATOR: Okay. The gentleman in the middle.
QUESTION: Hawon Lee, Washington correspondent for South
Korea newspaper Chosun Ilbo. When - could you - according to the
formula within the Six-Party Talks and bilateral talks in the Obama
Administration, it seems that there are some concerns that having
bilateral talks by you will weaken the Six-Party Talks.
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: The Six-Party Talks, we believe, must
be at the center and forefront of our efforts to deal with the
issues of North Korea and their nuclear program. So that will not
change. We will continue to have bilateral contacts with the North
Koreans. And we are prepared to open that channel at any point. Now
I don't think that bilateral contacts of the sort, that have
occurred in the past, and that, I believe, will occur in the
future, weaken the Six-Party process. I think, indeed, that it is
possible they will strengthen the Six-Party process.
And I would note that during the last administration in
Washington, many of our partners and allies were urging that we
have bilateral contacts with the North Koreans. And indeed, in the
last couple of years of that administration, we did have bilateral
talks, and they proved to be quite useful.
QUESTION: My name is Alison Smith. I'm with the Canadian
Broadcasting Corporation. I'm curious to know what real leverage,
what real pressure can be brought to bear on the North Koreans at
this point. There's an assessment that, in fact, their
brinksmanship is working and that they have little to lose by
firing off this missile. So what real leverage, what range of
options do you have to pressure them not to do so?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: In my experience in dealing with North
Koreans, pressure is not the most productive line of approach. You
have to combine pressure with incentives and I think we are in a
position to begin doing that.
QUESTION: What are the incentives?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I would rather not get into the
incentives at this point, just to say that I think there are things
that we can provide and do that the North Koreans would find
QUESTION: My name is Hyunju Yi from KBS, Korean
Broadcasting System. And you have emphasized the visiting schedule
through the -- Pyongyang several times, including Hillary Clinton,
and she also mentioned about regret about North Korea's reject of -
for the invitation to North Korea. But what could be the agenda you
can talk with North Korean authority when you are allowed to visit
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, I think there's a wide range of
issues that we would have on any agenda, and it would be on their
agenda as well, having to do not only with the denuclearization
issue, which is of course foremost in our thinking, but also with
what might be required to normalize the relationship between the
DPRK and the United States.
And one further point: how we can facilitate North Korea's
accommodation, integration into the region, which is another, I
think, very important question.
MODERATOR: The gentleman in the front here. The microphone,
QUESTION: Mike Lavallee from TBS. You keep on saying that
everybody wants to get back to the Six-Party process as soon as
possible, but as you said, there has to be consequences if they
fire off this missile. Wouldn't it be reasonable to expect some
cooling-off period after - if they do go ahead and fire off this
And secondly, North Korea will most - if there are consequences,
North Korea will mostly go into a mode of escalation. Are you
confident that you can stop that escalation? Are you concerned
about escalation, if there are consequences after this?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: First of all, I'm not in any way
predicting that they will go into a mode of escalation. They might.
They might not. I'll come back and simply reiterate that in the
period after the launch, we will be coordinating very closely with
our partners to determine what steps would be most appropriate.
I think we all share the long-term objective of a negotiated,
verifiable denuclearization of the peninsula. That is not going to
disappear as a result of the missile launch. It complicates the
equation, without question. And it may be that a cooling-off period
is the inevitable result. I don't know. I'm not predicting that. I
still hope that they decide not to launch the missile.
QUESTION: Is that realistic?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Realistic or not realistic, it's still
MODERATOR: Okay. I'll take a question from New York
QUESTION: Hello. My name is Joe Geni of Yomiuri Shimbun.
Regarding consequences for North Korea after - assuming they do go
ahead with the launch, could we see the U.S. seeking enforcement of
existing sanctions under 1718, either through further Security
Council action or through multilateral action with our
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Again, I'm reluctant to get into that
question, because I do not want in any way to prejudice the outcome
of the discussions that are going to be underway in New York at the
UN. That's a question that at an appropriate time you might address
to the UN, to the U.S. Mission to the UN.
MODERATOR: Okay. The gentleman in the back there.
QUESTION: Thank you. Yonhap News Agency, South Korea. Some
say you may not be able to focus on (inaudible) North Korea because
your job as special representative is part-time. What do you think?
Also, North Korea rejected the offer - proposal to visit Pyongyang
in February. What does that mean?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, the part-time issue is not, for
me, an issue. I have committed to devote as much as time as is
necessary to this position, and I have been doing so. I think that
the two roles that I have are very compatible, one with the other,
so I'm not concerned about the part-time issue. And I think I've
demonstrated to our partners that I am accessible, I'm available, I
can -- I'm able to travel, whatever.
And the second question you had was?
QUESTION: North Korea rejected your proposal to visit
Pyongyang in February. What does that mean?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I don't think it means anything. So -
I've been there actually, in February, in the first part of
February, in a private capacity before I was appointed to this
position. So I don't think that my - the fact that I did not visit
there in early March is relevant at this point.
MODERATOR: The lady here. Sorry, could you pass the
QUESTION: Bagya from the Straits Times, Singapore. Do you
think the hardliners have the upper hand in North Korea now?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I think I know relatively little -- in
fact, very little about who's hard line, who's soft line in North
Korea. And you know, my view is that we must deal with North Korea
as we find it, not as we would like it to be.
QUESTION: Thank you. Nami Inoue from Tokyo Broadcasting
System. Once you get back to the Six-Party Talks, how would you try
to put together the verification protocol which the North Koreans
have been rejecting? Are you -- do you have any different tactics
or new ways to construct the verification protocol?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: We've been giving quite a bit of
thought to that question. We've been discussing it very intensively
with our partners. I think we have some ideas about how this could
be done. Our immediate goal, of course, is to complete so-called
phase two of the process, and move on to phase three of the
dismantlement phase. And I'm quite confident that with some intense
negotiating and diplomatic activity, we can get over that
MODERATOR: This lady here.
QUESTION: Kim Ghattas from the BBC. Ambassador Bosworth,
when were you appointed, just over a month ago, you seemed to
indicate that you believe the North Koreans were willing to engage
with a new administration in the United States. And yet, now you
are still waiting for an invitation to visit Pyonyang. Is the task
proving much more difficult than you expected? How frustrated are
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: I've been dealing with North Korea on
and off for 15 years or so. And I've long since suppressed my
tendency toward frustration. I think that what is required is
patience and perseverance. I think with patience and perseverance,
we can make progress. So I'm not really frustrated. There are times
in a negotiation process with the North Koreans where everything
just stops for a time.
MODERATOR: Okay. The gentleman in the back.
QUESTION: Libo Liu, Voice of America, Mandarin Service.
Ambassador, what's China's position on the North Korea launch that
is related to you? Thanks.
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: As I understand the Chinese position
as explained to me by the Chinese Government, they have taken a
very strong position that this is an act of provocation and that it
should not occur.
MODERATOR: Okay. In the back.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Korean newspaper. My question is
about the journalists that were detained by North Korea recently.
So I wonder who are in charge of this issue in Department - State
Department or U.S. - or Obama Administration? Are you also in
charge of this issue of the journalists who are detained?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, let me just comment - to just
say briefly, there is no higher priority for American foreign
policy and the Department of State than the protection of American
citizens abroad. We have been working with the Government of Sweden
who, as you know, represents U.S. interest in North Korea, and we
will continue to do that. We are fully engaged with the Swedes
As to who is responsible for that particular problem within the
bureaucracy, there are a lot of us who are responsible for that,
starting with the Secretary of State and going down from there. As
I said, there is no issue on which we give higher priority than the
protection of American citizens.
QUESTION: Thank you. I'm Kaori Arioka with NHK Broadcasting
Corporation. Ambassador, are you willing to start the missile talks
- I mean, missile negotiation with North Korea? And if so, would
you rather do it in a Six-Party context or, I mean, rather
separately from the denuclearization issue?
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, I don't want to get too much
into the details, but I think it's - the current situation
demonstrates quite effectively why it's important for us to engage
with North Korea on the subject of missiles. As you will recall,
this was a topic that was under discussion at the end of the
Clinton Administration. And we had made substantial progress - did
not have an agreement, but we had made progress. We think it's time
to come back to that. Obviously, we think that it's a subject that
requires discussion, negotiation, as to precisely how it would be
handled within the Six-Party process, I'm really not able to say
right now. This is something on which we've been consulting with
our partners. And I think we will work out an acceptable
MODERATOR: We're going to have time for about two more
questions. I'll start here and then go back.
QUESTION: Thank you, Ambassador. Jimkule Kim with Radio
Free Asia. I know you went to the Capitol Hill last Wednesday to
brief on North Korean issues. And as you know, some of the U.S.
congressmen and senators have urged that U.S. should intercept
North Korea missile. How much are you concerned about those
opinions on the North Korean missile launch - those so-called
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: We had very useful consultations on
the Hill with the House leadership and then with staff directors on
the Senate side. I found a considerable amount of support for the
approach that the U.S. is taking.
MODERATOR: The next question. This gentleman here.
QUESTION: Ambassador, I was wondering if you could comment
a little on how the negotiating tactics might have changed for you
with the Obama Administration coming in? And conversely, also, do
you feel there's been any change in reaction from the North Koreans
in how their response may have altered over the last few
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Well, I wasn't here in the last
administration, so my point of reference is not all that clear. But
I think I would say that clearly the Obama Administration is
committed to diplomacy to solve problems of this sort. That does
not mean that it is a diplomacy without strength. My own view is
that diplomacy is most useful when it reflects strength and that
will be our effort in this negotiation.
And the second part of your question?
QUESTION: Has North Korea changed its response in any
AMBASSADOR BOSWORTH: Oh, I don't know. We'll see. I would
hope that perhaps they are little less difficult than I've found
them in the past, but my expectations are well under control.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. Thank you all for coming.
# # #
Source: US Department of State, www.state.gov.
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