Geneva Framework Agreement

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The Geneva Framework Agreement of October 21, 1994 was an attempt to regulate the nuclear conflict between North Korea and the USA by means of a bilateral treaty. Communist North Korea had started the reprocessing of nuclear fuel rods in 1993, despite declarations to the contrary , in order to get hold of fissile material for nuclear weapons . At the same time, North Korea announced its intention to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty , which aroused additional fears in Japan , South Korea and the USA.


A nuclear program had existed in North Korea since the 1950s, and at the time it was intensively supported by the USSR with the aim of economically modernizing socialist states in the Far East . It was not until 1985 that the Soviet Union tied the delivery of a nuclear reactor to the North Korean signature under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which should put North Korea's military armaments under international observation. The North Korean nuclear program, which was expanded with Soviet support, was based on what is known as gas-graphite reactor technology , which is described as an extremely rich plutonium producer - and thus ideal for building nuclear weapons. Although the North Korean atomic inspirations were viewed with suspicion by the world public until the mid-1980s, no one trusted the Northeast Asian country to soon come into possession of the know-how, technology and raw materials in order to actually be able to build nuclear weapons and make them usable. North Korea's accession to the NPT in 1985, however, seemed to re-emphasize the largely civilian nature of the program.

The negotiations

In 1993, after a formal request from the IAEA to open two undeclared nuclear facilities on a site in Nyŏngbyŏn , 100 kilometers north of Pyongyang , the crisis between the IAEA and North Korea escalated. On March 12, 1993, the state news agency, the Korean Central News Agency, announced that North Korea would terminate its membership in the NPT. South Korea, Japan and political America reacted in shock. Initial talks between US negotiator Robert Galluci and the North Korean State Secretary Kang Sok-ju at the United Nations resulted in a joint statement in which the common will for a political solution to the problem was formulated. In the subsequent negotiations in Geneva, North Korea's proposal that the country accept the delivery of low-plutonium light water reactors (LWR) in exchange for the old gas-graphite reactors was of particular importance . The background to this offer was North Korea's argument that the nuclear program only served civil energy supplies and the prevailing energy shortage would make it impossible for North Korea to do without its reactors. The delivery of LWR also offered the advantage that the plutonium extraction, which is necessary for the construction of nuclear weapons , would have been much more expensive and inefficient with these reactors . At the same time, North Korea should have sought help from foreign powers because the country lacked the appropriate technologies.

This option was not approved by the US at the time. Before returning to the negotiating table, North Korea let the crisis escalate again to such an extent that the Clinton government even considered military strikes at short notice: In May 1994, North Korea made preparations to reprocess 8,000 nuclear fuel rods from a reactor in Nyŏngbyŏn, thereby enabling itself to to win weapons-grade material. The UN Security Council could not agree on a condemnation of this unilateral measure, sanctions were not imposed because of the rejection of China and Japan. Former US President Carter's surprise visit to Pyongyang finally led to a breakthrough, when the “great leader” Kim Il-sung not only announced his return to the negotiating table, but also held out the prospect of the first ever North-South Korean summit .

The Geneva Framework Agreement

The third bilateral round of talks, which began on July 8, 1994 in Geneva, started with an unexpected setback. One day after the talks began, North Korean President Kim Il-sung died of a heart attack . After a period of mourning lasting several days, the discussion ended on August 13, 1994 with the long-awaited rough sketch of an agreement between the USA and North Korea. The diplomatic intervention of South Korea, which no longer wanted to be left out in the negotiation process, opened the door on September 23, 1994 for a multilateral package to be offered to North Korea. On October 17, 1994, the delegations signed the Geneva Framework Agreement. The basis of the agreement was North Korea's offer to stop its work on two gas-graphite reactors and to refrain from reprocessing nuclear fuel rods if the USA guaranteed the delivery of light water reactors in return and oil supplies were made available for North Korea's energy supply during the construction period. In addition, North Korea would remain a member of the NPT and consent to IAEA inspections . In addition, both sides agreed to open diplomatic liaison offices in each other's capital, which should ultimately pave the way to full diplomatic recognition. The dismantling of sanctions , the guarantee of negative security guarantees by the USA and the engagement in a North-South Korean security dialogue rounded off the ideal incentive component of the Geneva Framework Agreement.

The implementation

The Korean Energy Development Organization ( KEDO ) was founded in the spring of 1995 by the USA, South Korea and Japan to implement the reactor transfer and the agreed heavy oil deliveries . This organization was entrusted with implementing the agreed reactor and oil transfer services in a step-by-step implementation scenario including the IAEA and the bilateral political agreement components. But persistent conflicts and implementation problems made the implementation of the rules of the Geneva Framework Agreement more difficult. The agreed light water reactors were never built (in the Kŭmho nuclear power plant ). When, on August 31, 1998, a North Korean Taepodong rocket was fired into the Sea of ​​Japan and rumors arose about an underground nuclear facility in North Korea, demands for revision of the agreement increased. The attempt to revise the agreement began in 1999 in the form of the Perry Report . After an initially hopeful reformulation of common policies in the late Clinton era, severe political crises followed as a result of the change in office in the White House in 2001 ( Nuclear Posture Review , Preventive War Doctrine , “ Axis of Evil ”).

On January 10, 2003, North Korea again declared its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and was the first and only country to withdraw.


  • Hensel, Gerald: Positive incentive control in the nuclear conflict with North Korea. 1st edition. Oberhausen: Athena-Verlag 2004.
  • Mansourov, Alexandre Y .: North Korea's Negotiations with the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO). In: The North Korean Nuclear Program. Security, Strategy and New Perspectives from Russia. Edited by James Clay Moltz and Alexandre Y. Mansourov. 1st edition. London: Routledge 2000. pp. 156-171.
  • Noland, Marcus: Avoiding the Apocalypse: The Future of the Two Koreas. 1st edition. Washington: IEE 2000.
  • Reiss, Mitchell: Bridled Ambition. Why Countries Constrain their Nuclear Capabilities. 1st edition. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press 1995 (= Woodrow Wilson Center Special Studies)
  • Smithson, Amy E .: North Korea: A Case in Progress. In: The Politics of Positive Incentives in Arms Control Ed .: T. Bernauer / D. Ruloff. 1st edition. Columbia: South Carolina 1999. SS 72-110.
  • US General Accounting Office (= US GAO) (Ed.). Implementation of the US / North Korean Agreed Framework in Nuclear Issues. Report to the Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, US Senate. (PDF document on the Internet, as of June 1997). Internet: (accessed June 1, 2003).
  • US General Accounting Office (= US GAO) (Ed.) Nuclear Nonproliferation. Difficulties in Accomplishing IAEA's Activities in North Korea. Report to the Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, US Senate. (PDF document, status July 1998). Internet: (accessed June 1, 2003).
  • US General Accounting Office (= US GAO) (Ed.) Nuclear Nonproliferation. Heavy Fuel Oil Delievered to North Korea Under the Agreed Framework. Testimony Before the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives. (PDF document, as of October 1999). Internet: (accessed June 1, 2003).

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Devon Chaffee: North Korea's Withdrawal from Nonproliferation Treaty Official ( Memento of April 12, 2006 in the Internet Archive ), on: of April 10, 2003.