모하메드 엘바라데이 국제원자력기구 IAEA사무총장이 핵사찰단 파견 문제를  논의하기 위해 오는 13일 북한을 방문합니다.

북한은 지난 2002년 12월 IAEA 사찰단을 추방한 이래 4년여 만에 이들의 재입국을 곧 허용할 방침입니다.  북한이 IAEA 사찰단을 다시 받아들이는 것은 최근 북 핵 문제를 논의하기 위한 6자회담에서 합의된 ‘2.13 합의’의 중요한 합의 사항입니다. 

IAEA의 전 핵무기 사찰단장을 역임한 데이비드 케이 박사는 엘바라데이 사무총장은 북한 파견 핵무기 사찰단의 임무를 북한측과 정확히 협의해야 할 것이라고 말했습니다. 

케이 박사는  엘바라데이 총장이 IAEA를 대표해서 북한측이 수용하려고 하는 바가 효과적인 핵 안전장치의 요건들을 충족하는 지 결정해야한다고 말했습니다. 케이 박사는 이번 협의는 아주 어려운 협상의 시작이 될 것이라고 말하고, IAEA는 북한이 플루토늄 생산과 분리를 계속하고 있는지 확신있는 판단을 할 수 있도록 세밀한 사찰을 주장하게 될 것이라고 지적했습니다. 

전문가들은 핵무기에 사용되는 핵 분열성 물질을 제조하는 방법은 플루토늄 생산과 우라늄농축 과정을 통한 두 가지라고 말합니다. 전문가들은 북한의 플루토늄 생산시설에 관해서는 상당한 정보가 알려져 있는 반면 우라늄 농축 계획과 관련해서는 소재조차 파악되지 않는 등 알려진 것이 없다고 지적하고 있습니다.

북한의 고농축우라늄 계획과 관련해 알려진 사실은 북한이 파키스탄으로 부터 우라늄 농축기술을 제공받았다는 것입니다.  파키스탄의 페르베즈 무샤라프 대통령은 최근 자신의 자서전에서 파키스탄 핵무기의 아버지로 알려진 A.Q. 칸 박사가 우라늄농축 계획의 핵심 요소가 되는 24개의 원심분리기를 북한으로 이전하고 원심분리 기술을 지도했다고 밝힌 바 있습니다.

부시 행정부는 지난 2002년 10월 그러한 정보를 가지고 북한을 추궁했습니다. 미국 관리들에 의하면 북한은 처음에 우라늄농축 계획을 계속하고 있다는 사실을 인정했다가 후에 부인한 것으로 알려졌습니다.  하지만 북한은 대외적으로  우라늄농축 계획에 대한 혐의를 부인해 오고 있습니다.

당시 미국 중앙정보국 CIA는 미국 정보관리들은 북한이 전면가동 될 경우 일년에 2~3개의 핵무기 제조에 충분한 무기급 우라늄을 생산할 수 있는 공장을 건설 중에 있는 것으로 생각한다고 한 보고서에서 밝혔습니다.    

과학국제안보연구소, ISIS의 데이빗 올브라이트 소장은 당시 그 정보는 잘못된 것이었다고 말했습니다.

올부라이트 소장은 2002년 미 중앙정보국이 이 정보를  공개했을 때  그것은 과장된 것이었다고 생각한다고 말했습니다. 그는 개인적으로 그것은 상대적으로 적은 정보에서 산출된 판단을 근거로 한 잘못된 평가였다고 생각한다고 말했습니다.

올부라이트 소장과 다른 전문가들은 이를 계기로 양측의 대화는 단절됐고, 지난 1994년 북미 간에 체결된 제네바합의에 따른 미국의 대북 중유공급이 중단 되는 등,   미국과 북한의 관계가 악화되기 시작했다고 말합니다. 북한은 이에대한 반발로 IAEA 사찰단을 추방했고, 핵확산금지조약, NPT를 탈퇴했으며 플루토늄 생산을 재개해 급기야 지난해 10월 핵실험을 감행하기에 이르렀습니다.

조셉 디트라니 미 국가정보국 북한담당관은 지난 2월 27일 의회의 한 청문회에서 북한의 고농축우라늄 계획 의혹과 관련한 미국정부의 완화된 입장을 밝혔습니다.  

디트라니 담당관은 북한이 고농축우라늄을 생산할 수 있는 수준의 장비를 구입하고 있다는 당시 정보는 높은 수준의 신뢰도를 가진 것이었다고 말했습니다.  하지만 디트라니 담당관은 현재 미국은 북한의 고농축우라늄 계획에 대해  ‘중간수준’의 확신을 가지고 있다고 밝혔습니다. 

*****

 INTRO: Mohamed El-Baradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency - or IAEA - travels to North Korea in a few days (March 13th) to discuss sending nuclear inspectors back into the country.

In Focus, Senior Correspondent Andr頤e Nesnera looks at what is known about North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

TEXT: North Korea expelled IAEA inspectors in December 2002. And now more than four years later, they are on the verge of going back in.

The return of IAEA inspectors is an important element of the February 13th agreement reached by the six-party talks discussing North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The agreement calls on Pyongyang to freeze plutonium production and reprocessing at its Yongbyon plant within 60 days of the accord and to allow IAEA inspectors to monitor and verify the freeze. In exchange, North Korea would get 50-thousand tons of heavy fuel oil.

David Kay, former IAEA chief nuclear weapons inspector, says El-Baradei will have to negotiate exactly what the inspectors' responsibilities will be in North Korea.

/// KAY ACT ///

"Mohamed El-Baradei, on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has to judge whether what the North Koreans are willing to accept meets the requirements of effective nuclear safeguards. I
suspect that's going to be the start of some really tough negotiations, with the IAEA pressing for intrusive inspections that would give it confidence as to whether North Korea is continuing with its plutonium production and separation - and whether the North Koreans are willing to accept that."

/// END ACT ///

Experts say there are two ways to make fissile material for nuclear weapons. One way is to produce plutonium and the other is through the process of enriching uranium.

David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security - a private organization that tracks nuclear weapons - says there is a fair amount of information about North Korea's Yongbyon plutonium plant.

/// ALBRIGHT ACT ///

"There's a reactor - it's a relatively small one, it's called a five megawatt electric reactor. There's an associated plant to take the irradiated fuel from the reactor and separate the plutonium - and that's called a radio chemical laboratory. There is a fuel fabrication complex and there is also a much bigger reactor - a 50 megawatt electric reactor - under construction at Yongbyon. And so all those facilities and all the further construction of the 50-megawatt electric reactor comes to a halt. And there isn't any
evidence that North Korea has any other plutonium production facilities."

/// END ACT ///

While there is substantial information on North Korea's plutonium production complex, experts say little is known about Pyongyang's uranium enrichment program - and there are even questions as to whether it ever existed.

What is known is that North Korea received technology from Pakistan for such a program. In his memoirs, Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf says A.Q. Khan - the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb - transferred to North Korea nearly two dozen centrifuges - essential components of a uranium enrichment program - as well as coaching on centrifuge technology.

In October 2002, the Bush administration confronted North Korea with that information. According to U.S. officials, Pyongyang first admitted, then denied it was pursuing a uranium enrichment program.
Publicly, North Korea has rejected accusations it was engaged in such an endeavor.

A CIA report at the time made it clear that intelligence officials believed North Korea was - in the words of the report - "constructing a plant that could produce enough weapons grade uranium for two or more nuclear weapons per year when fully operational - which could be as soon as mid-decade."

David Albright felt that the information at the time was flawed.

/// 2nd ALBRIGHT ACT ///

"In 2002, when the U.S. intelligence community first made this assessment public, I think it was hyped up. And I believe personally that what we heard about in public represented a flawed assessment
based on extrapolations from a relatively small set of information. And these statements were made to Congress, they were made to the press - and were used at the time to basically discredit the "Agreed Framework" that had been established under the Clinton administration with North Korea and to disrupt cooperative initiatives that were ongoing or growing between North Korea and its neighbors.
So I think this flawed assessment did a lot of damage."

/// END ACT ///

Albright and others say relations between Pyongyang and Washington worsened. Talks between the two parties ended. Fuel shipments to North Korea stopped. Retaliating, North Korea expelled IAEA inspectors, left the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and resumed plutonium production, which ultimately led to last October's explosion of a nuclear device.

Just a few days ago (Feb. 27th), Joseph DeTrani, a U.S. intelligence expert on North Korea addressed a congressional panel and softened the U.S. government's position on Pyongyang's supposed uranium enrichment program.

/// DETRANI ACT ///

"The assessment was with 'high confidence' that indeed they were making acquisitions necessary for - if you will - a production-scale program. And we still have confidence the program is in existence - at the 'mid confidence level', yes sir."

/// END ACT ///

For Arnold Kanter, former U.S. Undersecretary of State (1991-93), the truth will come out soon enough.

/// KANTER ACT ///

"This should all be clarified, at least to some extent, in the next phase of the negotiations when the North Koreans are obliged to make a full and complete declaration of all of their nuclear activities.
Presumably, they would have to have something to say about whether they did acquire components that could be used for uranium enrichment and if so, what's become of them?"

/// END ACT ///

In the meantime, experts expect tough bargaining ahead as the United States and others try to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons for good. (Signed)