Magazine article Arms Control Today

U.S.-North Korean Missile Talks Collapse Following Defection

Magazine article Arms Control Today

U.S.-North Korean Missile Talks Collapse Following Defection

Article excerpt

WHILE THE collapse of U.S.-North Korean missile talks in late August may have temporarily set back Clinton administration efforts to rein in Pyongyang's missile activities, the cause of the break down-the defection to the United States of a senior North Korean diplomat believed to be familiar with the North's missile-related transfers to the Middle East-may produce an intelligence bonanza for the United States. The diplomat, Chang Sung Kil, North Korea's ambassador to Egypt and a former vice foreign minister, is the highest-ranking official from the North ever to defect directly to the United States.

Chang's defection and that of his brother, a lower-ranking diplomat based in Paris, and their families prompted North Korea to withdraw from a scheduled third round of missile talks in New York only hours before they were set to begin on August 27. A North Korean official said the defections would also have "serious effects" on the four-party talks (involving North and South Korea, the United States and China) on formally ending the Korean War scheduled to resume September 15.

The U.S.-North Korean missile talks, which opened in April 1996, focus on Pyongyang's missile development programs and its missile-related exports. So far, however, the talks have apparently not produced any changes in Pyongyang's proliferation behavior. The United States is particularly concerned about North Korean transfers to Egypt, Iran and Syria, as well as Pakistan, and its development of short- and medium-range ballistic missiles. …

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