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Sunday, January 31, 2010

North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons: Technical Issues

Mary Beth Nikitin
Analyst in Nonproliferation

This report summarizes what is known from open sources about the North Korean nuclear weapons program—including weapons-usable fissile material and warhead estimates—and assesses current developments in achieving denuclearization. 

In total, it is estimated that North Korea has between 30 and 50 kilograms of separated plutonium, enough for at least half a dozen nuclear weapons. While North Korea's weapons program has been plutonium-based from the start, in the last decade, intelligence emerged pointing to a second route to a bomb using highly enriched uranium. However, the scope and success of a uranium enrichment program may be limited. Little detailed open-source information is available about the DPRK's nuclear weapons production capabilities, warhead sophistication, the extent of a uranium enrichment program, or proliferation activities. 

Beginning in late 2002, North Korea ended an eight-year freeze on its plutonium production program, expelled international inspectors, and restarted facilities. In September 2005, members of the Six Party Talks (United States, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and North Korea) issued a Joint Statement on the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. On October 9, 2006, North Korea conducted a nuclear test, with a yield of less than 1 kiloton. In February 2007, North Korea and the other members of the Six-Party Talks agreed on steps for phased implementation of the 2005 denuclearization agreement. Phase 1 included the shut-down of plutonium production at the Yongbyon nuclear complex in exchange for an initial heavy fuel oil shipment to North Korea. Phase 2 steps included disablement of plutonium production facilities at Yongbyon and a "complete and correct" declaration of DPRK nuclear activities, in exchange for delivery of energy assistance and removal of certain U.S. sanctions. The declaration was submitted in June 2008. Thereafter, President Bush removed North Korea from the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA) list and notified Congress of his intent to lift the State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) designation after North Korea agreed to verification provisions. North Korea did not accept initial U.S. verification proposals, and in September 2008, threatened to restart reprocessing plutonium. U.S. officials announced a verbal bilateral agreement on verification in October 2008, and the Bush administration removed North Korea from the SST List. North Korea soon after said that it had not agreed to sampling at nuclear sites, a key element for verification of plutonium production. The Six-Party Talks have not convened since December 2008. 

North Korea's failed satellite launch on April 5, 2009, which used ballistic missile-related technology, led to U.N. Security Council condemnation. In response, North Korea said it would abandon the Six-Party Talks and restart its nuclear facilities, and asked international and U.S. inspectors to leave the country. North Korea claimed it tested a nuclear weapon on May 25, 2009, which is estimated as larger than the 2006 blast, but still modest. Through its official news agency, North Korea claimed in September 2009 that it was conducting "experimental uranium enrichment" and in November 2009 that it had reprocessed spent fuel at the Yongbyon facility and had begun to weaponize the resulting plutonium. 


Date of Report: January 8, 2010
Number of Pages: 27
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Friday, January 29, 2010

Korea-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress

Larry A. Niksch
Specialist in Asian Affairs

The United States has had a military alliance with South Korea (R.O.K.) and important interests in the Korean peninsula since the Korean War of 1950-1953. Many U.S. interests relate to communist North Korea. Since the early 1990s, the issue of North Korea's development of nuclear weapons has been the dominant U.S. policy concern. Experts in and out of the U.S. government believe that North Korea has produced plutonium for at least six atomic bombs. North Korea tested nuclear devices in October 2006 and May 2009. In 2007, a six party negotiation (among the United States, North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia) produced agreements that resulted in a disablement of North Korea's main nuclear reactor and U.S. removal of North Korea from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. In April 2009, North Korea rejected six party talks. The Obama Administration began bilateral talks with North Korea in December 2009 aimed at returning North Korea to the six party talks; North Korea demanded first a lifting of U.N. sanctions and negotiation of a U.S.-North Korean peace treaty. 

Other North Korean policies affect U.S. interests. North Korean exports of counterfeit U.S. currency and U.S. products produce upwards of $1 billion annually for the North Korean regime. North Korea earns considerable income from sales of missiles and missile and nuclear technology cooperation with Iran and Syria. It has developed short-range and intermediate-range missiles, but it has so far failed to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile. It is estimated to have sizeable stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons. Pyongyang's main goal of its nuclear program appears to be the development of nuclear warheads that can be mounted on its missiles. North Korean involvement in international terrorism has included the kidnapping of Japanese citizens, reportedly arms and training to the Hezbollah and Tamil Tigers terrorist groups, and cooperation with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards in development of missiles and nuclear weapons. 

U.S. human rights groups are involved in responding to the outflow of tens of thousands of North Korean refugees into China, due to severe food shortages inside North Korea and the repressive policies of the North Korean regime. U.S. and international food aid to North Korea has been provided since 1995, but North Korea rejected South Korean food aid in 2008 and expelled U.S. food aid workers in March 2009. North Korea faces severe food shortages in 2010. 

South Korea followed a conciliation policy toward North Korea under the administrations of Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun; but President Lee Myung-bak, elected in December 2007, linked South Korean aid to North Korea, including food aid, to the nuclear and other policy issues. North Korea responded by cutting off most contacts with the Lee government until August 2009. North Korea then made overtures to South Korea, probably because of its worsening food situation. 

The United States signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea (the seventh-largest U.S. trading partner) in 2007. There is substantial opposition to the FTA in Congress. The Obama Administration has called for renegotiation on the automobile provisions and additional South Korean measures to open the R.O.K. market to imports of U.S. beef. The U.S.-R.O.K. military alliance appears to function well. It is dealing with several issues of change: relocations of 28,500 U.S. forces within South Korea; construction of new bases; the creation of separate U.S. and South Korean military commands in 2012; possible future withdrawals of U.S. ground forces to U.S. conflict areas; an R.O.K. military contribution to Afghanistan; and South Korean financial support for U.S. forces.


Date of Report: January 12, 2010
Number of Pages: 24
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China-North Korea Relations

Dick K. Nanto
Specialist in Industry and Trade

Mark E. Manyin
Specialist in Asian Affairs

Kerry Dumbaugh
Specialist in Asian Affairs

The People's Republic of China (PRC) plays a key role in U.S. policy toward the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea). The PRC is North Korea's closest ally, largest provider of food, fuel, and industrial machinery, and arguably the country most able to wield influence in Pyongyang. China also is the host of the Six-Party Talks (involving the United States, China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and Russia) over North Korea's nuclear program. The close PRC-DPRK relationship is of interest to U.S. policymakers because China plays a pivotal role in the success of U.S. efforts to halt the DPRK's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, to prevent nuclear proliferation, to enforce economic sanctions, and to ensure that North Korean refugees that cross into China receive humane treatment. Since late 2008, China has been not just the largest, but also the dominant, provider of aid and partner in trade with North Korea. 

This report provides a brief survey of China-North Korea relations, assesses PRC objectives and actions, and raises policy issues for the United States. While Beijing still maintains its military alliance and continues its substantial economic assistance to Pyongyang, in recent years many PRC and North Korean interests and goals appear to have grown increasingly incompatible. Increasingly, many Chinese officials and scholars appear to regard North Korea as more of a burden than a benefit. However, Beijing's shared interest with Pyongyang in preserving North Korean stability generally has trumped these other considerations. 

The Obama Administration's public statements have emphasized common interests rather than differences in its policy toward China regarding North Korea. China's interests both overlap and coincide with those of the United States, but China's primary interest of stability on the Korean peninsula is often at odds with U.S. interest in denuclearization and the provision of basic human rights for the North Korean people. Moreover, North Korean leaders appear to have used this interest to neutralize their country's growing economic dependence on China; the greater North Korea's dependency, the more fearful Chinese leaders may be that a sharp withdrawal of PRC economic support could destabilize North Korea. Since the late 1990s, as long as North Korea has been able to convince Beijing's senior leadership that regime stability is synonymous with North Korea's overall stability, the Kim government has been able to count on a minimum level of China's economic and diplomatic support, as well as some cooperation along their border region to ensure that the number and activities of North Korean border-crossers do not spiral out of control. 

Beijing and Pyongyang are currently going through a period of amicable diplomatic and economic relations following the negative response by Beijing to the DPRK's nuclear and missile tests in 2009 and China's support of new United Nations Security Council sanctions directed at North Korea. China's enforcement of those U.N. sanctions, however, is still unclear. China has enforced some aspects of the sanctions that relate directly to North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear programs, but Beijing has been less strict on controlling exports of dual use products. Chinese shipments of banned luxury goods to the DPRK continue to increase.


Date of Report: January 22, 2010
Number of Pages: 23
Order Number: R41043
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Sunday, January 24, 2010

U.S. and South Korean Cooperation in the World Nuclear Energy Market: Major Policy Considerations

Mark Holt
Specialist in Energy Policy


A South Korean consortium recently signed a contract to provide four commercial nuclear reactors to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), signaling a new role for South Korea in the world nuclear energy market. The $20 billion deal indicates that South Korea has completed the transition from passive purchaser of turn-key nuclear plants in the 1970s to major nuclear technology supplier, capable of competing with the largest and most experienced nuclear technology companies in the world. The South Korean government reportedly has established a goal for South Korea to capture 20% of the world nuclear power plant market during the next 20 years, and the importance placed by Seoul on the UAE contract was underscored by South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's presence at the signing ceremony in the UAE. 

In the 1970s, South Korea launched its nuclear power program through the government-owned Korea Electric Company (now Korea Electric Power Corporation, KEPCO), which purchased the country's first nuclear power units from Westinghouse. In the early years of the Korean nuclear program, Westinghouse and other foreign suppliers delivered completed plants with minimal Korean industry input. After the first three units, Korean firms took over the construction work on subsequent plants, although the reactor systems, turbine-generators, and architect/engineering services continued to be provided primarily by non-Korean companies. In 1987, KEPCO embarked on an effort to establish a standard Korean design, selecting the System 80 design from the U.S. firm Combustion Engineering as the basis. Combustion Engineering won the competition for the Korean standard design contract by agreeing to full technology transfer, according to KEPCO. The technology transfer program resulted in the development of the APR- 1400 power plant, which is the design purchased by the UAE. 

In the UAE deal, the South Korean consortium is headed by KEPCO and includes other major Korean industrial companies that are involved in Korea's rapidly growing domestic nuclear power plant construction program. The consortium also includes Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric Company, which currently owns the U.S. design on which the Korean design is based, and the Japanese industrial conglomerate Toshiba, which now owns most of Westinghouse. 

Because the AP-1400 is based on a U.S. design, U.S. export controls will continue to apply. Westinghouse plans to seek the necessary authorization from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to transfer the technology to the UAE. The UAE recently reached a nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States in which the country agreed not to develop fuel cycle facilities to support its planned nuclear power program, which could ease weapons proliferation concerns. The UAE program may establish a precedent for U.S. policy on future Korean exports to nonnuclear power nations, which is likely to be of continuing congressional interest. 

The Korea-UAE nuclear plant sale also has been cited by the Korean news media as an important consideration in upcoming negotiations on the renewal of the U.S.-Korea nuclear cooperation agreement, a prerequisite under Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act for nuclear trade. The current agreement expires in 2014, and the first discussions on renewal are likely within the next year. Congress will have an opportunity to review any new agreement before it takes effect.


Date of Report: January 21, 2010
Number of Pages: 14
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chinese Tire Imports: Section 421 Safeguards and the World Trade Organization (WTO)

Jeanne J. Grimmett
Legislative Attorney


On April 20, 2009, the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union filed a petition with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) requesting that it initiate an investigation under Section 421 of the Trade Act of 1974, a trade remedy statute addressing import surges from China, to examine whether Chinese passenger vehicle and light truck tires were causing market disruption to U.S. tire producers. Market disruption will be found to occur under Section 421 whenever imports of a Chinese product that is "like or directly competitive with" a domestic product "are increasing rapidly ... so as to be a significant cause of material injury, or threat of material injury, to the domestic industry." The ITC initiated the investigation (TA-421-7) on April 24, 2009. 

As a result of its investigation, the ITC in June 2009 voted 4-2 that imports of the subject tires were causing domestic market disruption and recommended that the President impose an additional duty on these items for three years at an annually declining rate. The ITC also recommended expedited consideration of trade adjustment assistance applications filed by affected firms or workers. On September 11, 2009, President Obama proclaimed increased tariffs on Chinese tires for three years effective September 26, 2009, albeit at lower rates than those recommended by the ITC. The tariff increase is 35% ad valorem in the first year, 30% in the second year, and 25% in the third year. The President also directed the Secretaries of Labor and Commerce to expedite applications for trade adjustment assistance and to provide other available economic assistance to affected workers, firms, and communities. The President may review the tariffs in six months and, after receiving an ITC report on the probable effects of any change, may modify, reduce or terminate them. Although six petitions were filed under Section 421 in the past and the ITC found that market disruption existed in four out of six of its investigations, President Bush decided against providing import relief under the statute in these earlier cases. 

Section 421 was enacted as one element of 2000 legislation that permitted the President to grant most-favored-nation (MFN) tariff treatment to Chinese products upon China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). Section 421 authorizes the President to impose safeguards— i.e., temporary measures such as import surcharges or quotas—on Chinese goods if domestic market disruption is found. The statute implements a China-specific safeguard mechanism contained in China's WTO Accession Protocol that may be utilized by WTO Members through December 2013. The Protocol provision is separate from Article XIX of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994 and the WTO Agreement on Safeguards, which allow WTO Members to respond to injurious import surges generally but on a stricter basis than under the Protocol. A major difference is that the Protocol provision permits a safeguard to be applied only to Chinese products while the Safeguards Agreement requires that a safeguard be applied to a product regardless of its source. 

China filed a WTO complaint against the United States on September 14, 2009, and requested a dispute panel on December 21, 2009, claiming that the Section 421 tariffs violate U.S. GATT obligations to accord Chinese tires MFN tariff treatment and not to exceed negotiated tariff rates, that the United States imposed tariffs under China's Accession Protocol without first attempting to justify them under general GATT and WTO safeguard provisions, and that Section 421 and its application in this case violate U.S. obligations under the Protocol. Although the United States blocked China's panel request, the panel will be established virtually automatically if a second request is made. If a panel is ultimately appointed, this would be the first time that obligations of other WTO Members under the China-specific safeguard would be subject to WTO panel review.


Date of Report: January 5, 2010
Number of Pages: 29
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Laos: Background and U.S. Relations

Thomas Lum
Specialist in Asian Affairs


The United States and the Lao People's Democratic Republic (LPDR) cooperate in important areas despite ideological differences and U.S. concerns about alleged human rights abuses against the ethnic Hmong minority. The U.S. government has gradually upgraded its relations with the communist state, which has strong ties to Vietnam and growing economic linkages with China. Major areas of U.S. assistance and bilateral cooperation include de-mining and counter-narcotics programs, strengthening the country's regulatory framework and trade capacity, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, the recovery of Americans missing in action during the Vietnam War, and military education and training. In 2008, the United States and Laos exchanged defense attach├ęs the first time in over 30 years. The U.S. government has embarked upon a policy of economic engagement with the LPDR as a means of influencing the future direction of Lao policy. 

The Obama Administration and Members of Congress have expressed concerns about the plight of former ethnic Hmong insurgents and their families, who have historical ties to the U.S.-backed Lao-Hmong guerilla army of the Vietnam War period, and efforts by Thai authorities to repatriate over 4,500 Lao-Hmong living in camps in Thailand, many of whom claim that they likely will be persecuted or discriminated against if they return to Laos. In June 2009, 31 Members of Congress signed a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging her to appeal to the Thai government not to forcibly repatriate Hmong asylum seekers. U.S. officials have called upon the Thai and Lao governments for greater transparency in the repatriation and resettlement process. In April 2009, H.Con.Res. 112, "Expressing Support for Designation of a 'National Lao-Hmong Recognition Day,'" was introduced in the House of Representatives. 

Laos, one of the poorest countries in Asia, has made some notable political, social, and economic progress in recent years. Religious freedom reportedly has improved, particularly in urban areas. In 2009, the LPDR ratified the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and promulgated a legal framework for non-governmental organizations. Opium production and use have dropped dramatically since 1998. Between 1988 and 2008, the economy grew by over 6% per year, with the exception of 1997-1998 due to the Asian Financial Crisis. Meanwhile, U.S.-Laos trade has grown rapidly, albeit from a low base. In 2008, total trade between Laos and the United States was valued at $60 million compared to $15 million in 2006. The government has implemented market-oriented reforms, but progress has been slow. 

Major U.S. policy considerations include urging the Lao government to accept independent, international monitoring of the resettlement of former Lao-Hmong insurgents and Hmong returnees from Thailand; urging the Thai government not to forcibly repatriate Hmong determined to be political refugees; increasing assistance for de-mining activities in Laos; granting trade preferences or tariff relief for Lao products, particularly garments; and developing programs for sustainable management of the Mekong River.


Date of Report: January 4, 2010
Number of Pages: 12
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

U.S.-China Counterterrorism Cooperation: Issues for U.S. Policy

Shirley A. Kan
Specialist in Asian Security Affairs


After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the United States faced a challenge in enlisting the full support of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in the counterterrorism fight against Al Qaeda. This effort raised short-term policy issues about how to elicit cooperation and how to address PRC concerns about the U.S.-led war (Operation Enduring Freedom). Longer-term issues have concerned whether counterterrorism has strategically transformed bilateral ties and whether China's support was valuable and not obtained at the expense of other U.S. interests. 

The extent of U.S.-China counterterrorism cooperation has been limited, but the tone and context of counterterrorism helped to stabilize—even if it did not transform—the closer bilateral relationship pursued by President George Bush in late 2001. China's military, the People's Liberation Army (PLA), has not participated in the counterterrorism coalition. The Bush Administration designated the PRC-targeted "East Turkistan Islamic Movement" (ETIM) as a terrorist organization in August 2002, reportedly allowed PRC interrogators access to Uighur detainees at Guantanamo in September 2002, and held a summit in Texas in October 2002. 

Since 2005, however, U.S. concerns about China's extent of cooperation in counterterrorism have increased. In September 2005, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick acknowledged that "China and the United States can do more together in the global fight against terrorism" after "a good start," in his policy speech that called on China to be a "responsible stakeholder" in the world. The summits of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in 2005 and 2006 raised U.S. concerns. Since the summer of 2007, U.S. officials have expressed more concern about China-origin arms that have been found in the conflict involving U.S. forces in Afghanistan, as part of the broader threat posed by Iran and its arms transfers. 

Congress has oversight over the closer ties with China and a number of policy options. U.S. policy has addressed law-enforcement ties; oppressed Uighur (Uyghur) people in western Xinjiang whom China claims to be linked to "terrorists"; detained Uighurs at Guantanamo Bay prison; Olympic security in August 2008; sanctions that ban exports of arms and security equipment; weapons nonproliferation; port security; military-to-military contacts; China's influence and support in Central Asia through the SCO; and China's arms transfers to Iran. 

Congress has oversight of President Obama's efforts to transfer the Uighurs detained at Guantanamo since soon after the war began in Afghanistan in late 2001 as well as to seek China's further counterterrorism cooperation with assessments of mixed implications. The United States detained 22 Uighurs and rejected China's demand to take them. In 2006, Albania accepted five of them. In June 2009, Bermuda accepted four. In November 2009, Palau accepted six, leaving seven at Guantanamo. On June 26, 2009, the House Intelligence Committee reported H.R. 2701 (Reyes), which would require an unclassified summary of intelligence on any threats posed by the Uighurs who have been detained at Guantanamo. Other relevant legislation in the 111th Congress includes H.R. 2346 (P.L. 111-32); H.Res. 624 (Delahunt); H.Res. 774 (Hastings); H.R. 2294 (Boehner); S.Res. 155 (Brown); S. 1054 (Inouye). The Obama Administration has proposed that China increase investments and assistance to help stabilize Afghanistan (and Pakistan) as well as possible cooperation in a military supply route into northern Afghanistan. While there has been no progress in this option, the United States has concerns about dealing with China in the northwestern region of Xinjiang. After President Obama announced on December 1, 2009, that he would deploy 30,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, China has not pledged troops. This report will be updated as warranted. 


Date of Report: January 6, 2010
Number of Pages: 36
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North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Development and Diplomacy

Larry A. Niksch
Specialist in Asian Affairs


Since August 2003, negotiations over North Korea's nuclear weapons programs have involved six governments: the United States, North Korea, China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia. Since the talks began, North Korea has operated nuclear facilities at Yongbyon and apparently has produced weapons-grade plutonium estimated as sufficient for five to eight atomic weapons. North Korea tested a plutonium nuclear device in October 2006 and apparently a second device in May 2009. North Korea admitted in June 2009 that it has a program to enrich uranium; the United States had cited evidence of such a program since 2002. There also is substantial information that North Korea has engaged in collaborative programs with Iran and Syria aimed at producing nuclear weapons. 

On May 25, 2009, North Korea announced that it had conducted a second nuclear test. On April 14, 2009, North Korea terminated its participation in six party talks and said it would not be bound by agreements between it and the Bush Administration, ratified by the six parties, which would have disabled the Yongbyon facilities. North Korea also announced that it would reverse the ongoing disablement process under these agreements and restart the Yongbyon nuclear facilities. Three developments since August 2008 appear to have influenced the situation leading to North Korea's announcement: the failure to complete implementation of the Bush Administration-North Korean agreement, including the Yongbyon disablement, because of a dispute over whether inspectors could take samples of nuclear materials at Yongbyon; the stroke suffered by North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, in August 2008; and the issuance by North Korea after January 1, 2009, of a tough set of negotiating positions, including an assertion that the United States must extend normal diplomatic relations prior to any final denuclearization agreement rather than in such an agreement; and that U.S. reciprocity for North Korean denuclearization must be an end of the "U.S. nuclear threat," meaning major reductions of and restrictions on U.S. military forces in and around the Korean peninsula. 

The Obama Administration reacted to the missile and nuclear tests by seeking United Nations sanctions against North Korea. It secured U.N. Security Council approval of Resolution 1874 in June 2009. The resolution calls on U.N. members to restrict financial transactions in their territories related to North Korean sales of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to other countries. It also calls on U.N. members to prevent the use of their territories by North Korea for the shipment of WMD to other countries. In December 2009, the Administration sent a special envoy to North Korea in an attempt to secure North Korean agreement to return to the six party talks. North Korea gave a general positive statement regarding six party talks; but it raised other issues, including its proposal for negotiation of a U.S.-North Korean peace treaty, and appeared to seek a continuation of bilateral meetings with the United States. 

North Korea seemed to moderate its provocative policies in August 2009. It invited former President Bill Clinton to North Korea, where he secured the release of two female American reporters who were taken prisoner by the North Koreans along the China-North Korea border. It also released a South Korean worker at the Kaesong industrial complex in North Korea, whom the North Koreans had arrested in March 2009. A North Korean delegation came to Seoul for the funeral of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and met with President Lee Myung-bak. This raised the prospect of renewed U.S.-North Korean negotiations over the nuclear issue, but any future negotiations appear to face daunting obstacles. 

This report will be updated periodically.


Date of Report: January 5, 2010
Number of Pages: 33
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Thursday, January 14, 2010

North Korea: Terrorism List Removal

Larry A. Niksch
Specialist in Asian Affairs


The issue of North Korea's inclusion on the U.S. list of terrorism-supporting countries has been a major issue in U.S.-North Korean diplomacy since 2000, particularly in connection with negotiations over North Korea's nuclear program. North Korea demanded that the Clinton and Bush Administrations remove North Korea from the terrorism support list. 

On June 26, 2008, President Bush announced that he was officially notifying Congress of his intent to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism after the 45 calendar-day notification period to Congress as required by U.S. law. The White House stated an intention to remove North Korea on August 11, 2008. This announcement was part of the measures the Bush Administration took on June 26 to implement a nuclear agreement that it negotiated with North Korea in September 2007 and finalized details of in April 2008 at a U.S.-North Korean meeting in Singapore. The President also announced that he was immediately lifting sanctions on North Korea under the U.S. Trading with the Enemy Act. North Korea's obligations under this nuclear agreement are to allow the disabling of its plutonium facility at Yongbyon and present to the United States and other government in the six party talks a declaration of its nuclear programs. North Korea submitted its declaration on June 26, 2008. 

However, in July 2008, the Bush Administration proposed a system of intrusive international inspections of North Korean nuclear facilities or suspected nuclear facilities. North Korea rejected the proposal, suspended the disablement of Yongbyon, and threatened to resume operations of its nuclear facilities. In October 2008, the Administration negotiated a more limited verification-inspection system with North Korea. On October 11, 2008, the Administration removed North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. 

Secretary of State Clinton said on June 7, 2009, that the Obama Administration would consider reinstating North Korea on the list of state supporters of terrorism. However, she said that there would have to be "recent evidence of their support for international terrorism." 

The Bush Administration increasingly took the position that the issue of North Korea's kidnapping of Japanese citizens was not linked to removing North Korea from the terrorism list, from the standpoint of U.S. law or policy. The Japanese government objected to the removal of North Korea. The State Department continued to declare that North Korea had not committed a terrorist act since 1987. However, reports from French, Japanese, South Korean and Israeli sources described recent North Korean programs to provide arms and training to Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, two groups on the U.S. list of international terrorist organizations. Large quantities of North Korean arms bound for Iran, intercepted in 2009, contained weapons that Iran supplies heavily to Hezbollah and Hamas. Moreover, a large body of reports describe a long-standing, collaborative relationship between North Korea and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps that has continued throughout 2009.


Date of Report: January 6, 2010
Number of Pages: 32
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Guam: U.S. Defense Deployments

Shirley A. Kan
Specialist in Asian Security Affairs

Larry A. Niksch
Specialist in Asian Affairs


Since 2000, the U.S. military has been building up forward-deployed forces on the U.S. territory of Guam to increase deterrence and power projection for possible responses to crises and disasters, counter-terrorism, and contingencies in support of South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, or elsewhere in Asia. The defense buildup on Guam has been moderate. Nonetheless, China has concerns about the defense buildup, suspecting it to be directed against China. Guam's role has increased with plans to withdraw some U.S. forces from Japan and South Korea. In 2006, the United States and Japan agreed on a "Roadmap" to strengthen their alliance, including a buildup on Guam to cost $10.3 billion, with Japan contributing 60%. The goals are to start the related construction on Guam by 2010 and to complete relocation of 8,000 marines and their 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam by 2014. 

On February 17, 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Tokyo and signed the bilateral "Agreement Between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Japan Concerning the Implementation of the Relocation of the III Marine Expeditionary Force Personnel and Their Dependents From Okinawa to Guam" that reaffirmed the "Roadmap" of May 1, 2006. The two governments agreed that of the estimated $10.27 billion cost of the facilities and infrastructure development for the relocation, Japan will provide $6.09 billion, including up to $2.8 billion in direct cash contributions (in FY2008 dollars). The United States committed to fund $3.18 billion plus about $1 billion for a road. 

However, on September 16, 2009, Yukio Hatoyama of the Democratic Party of Japan became Prime Minister. This political change raised a question about whether Japan would seek to renegotiate the agreement, even while the United States seeks its implementation. This dispute has implications for the relocation of marines from Okinawa to Guam. 

The National Defense Authorization Act for FY2010 (H.R. 2647, enacted as P.L. 111-84 on October 28, 2009) authorized the first substantial incremental funding for the relocation of marines from Okinawa to Guam, but conditioned upon the Defense Department's submission to Congress of a Guam Master Plan. Among a number of provisions related to Guam in the legislation and conference report, Congress designated the Deputy Secretary of Defense to lead a Guam Executive Council and coordinate interagency efforts related to Guam. Congress also required a report on training, readiness, and movement requirements for Marine Forces Pacific, without an impact on the implementation of the U.S.-Japan agreement on relocation. 

Updated as warranted, this CRS Report discusses major developments and policy issues. On appropriations related to military construction on Guam, see CRS Report R40731, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies: FY2010 Appropriations.

Date of Report: January 7, 2010
Number of Pages: 10
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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Understanding China’s Political System

Kerry Dumbaugh
Specialist in Asian Affairs

Michael F. Martin
Specialist in Asian Affairs


Opaque and shrouded in secrecy, China's political system and decision-making processes are mysteries to many Westerners. At one level, China is a one-party state that has been ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) since 1949. But rather than being rigidly hierarchical and authoritarian, which is often the assumption, political power in China now is diffuse, complex, and at times highly competitive. Despite its grip on power, the Party and its senior leaders (the Politburo and its Standing Committee) are not always able to dictate policy decisions as they once did. Instead, present-day China's political process is infused with other political actors that influence and sometimes determine policy. 

Three other main actors co-exist with the Party at the top of China's political system. Chief among these is the muscular state government bureaucracy, whose structures closely parallel the Party's throughout China, operating in a largely separate but interlocking way to implement and administer state business. Another key institution is the People's Liberation Army, operating again largely separately and with a tenuous distinction between civilian, military, and Party leadership. Completing the top political institutions is the National People's Congress, constitutionally the highest organ of state power but in practice the weakest of the top political institutions. 

Other political actors in China include: provincial and local officials; a growing body of official and quasi-official policy research groups and think tanks that feed proposals into the policy process; a collection of state sector, multinational, and even private business interests exerting pressure on policy decisions; a vigorous academic and university community; a diverse media that informs public opinion; and an increasingly vocal and better-informed citizenry that are demanding more transparency and accountability from government. New forms of communication and information availability also have pressured the PRC government to make changes in its political system, and have provided the Party with new means of maintaining political control. The political story in China today is the extent to which these multiple actors and changing circumstances have helped blur the communist regime's lines of authority. 

Chinese politics is further complicated by other factors. In the absence of a more formalized institutional infrastructure, personal affiliations can play a significant role in political decisions, adding unpredictability to an already murky process. In addition, discipline between the different levels of party and government structure can be tenuous, leading to ineffective implementation of policy and, in some cases, serious problems with corruption. 

Despite its internal problems, the PRC's Communist Party-led political system has proven exceedingly resilient to past and current challenges, but nevertheless is under stress and undergoing reluctant transition. Ironically, the Party's commitment to remaining in power appears to be forcing it to adapt continually to changing circumstances and to make incremental compromises with other participants in the political process when it is pragmatic to do so. A better understanding of how China's political system functions, as well as what are its strengths and weaknesses, may help U.S. lawmakers make more effective policy decisions that directly benefit U.S. interests.


Date of Report: December 31, 2009
Number of Pages: 27
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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990

Shirley A. Kan
Specialist in Asian Security Affairs

This report, updated as warranted, discusses U.S. security assistance to Taiwan, or Republic of China (ROC), including policy issues for Congress and legislation. Congress has oversight of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), P.L. 96-8, which has governed arms sales to Taiwan since 1979, when the United States recognized the People’s Republic of China (PRC) instead of the ROC. Two other relevant parts of the “one China” policy are the August 17, 1982, U.S.-PRC Joint Communique and the “Six Assurances” to Taiwan. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have been significant. The United States also has expanded military ties with Taiwan after the PRC’s missile firings in 1995-1996. However, there is no defense treaty with Taiwan.

At the U.S.-Taiwan arms sales talks on April 24, 2001, President George W. Bush approved for possible sale diesel-electric submarines, P-3 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft (linked to the submarine sale), four decommissioned U.S. Kidd-class destroyers, and other items. Bush also deferred decisions on Aegis-equipped destroyers and other items, while denying other requests. Afterward, attention urned to Taiwan, where the military, civilian officials, and legislators from competing political parties debated contentious issues about how much to spend on defense and which U.S. weapons systems to acquire, despite the increasing threat (including a missile buildup) from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), as described in the Pentagon’s reports to Congress on PRC military power. In February 2003, the Administration pointed Taiwan to three priorities for defense: command and control, missile defense, and ASW. Some in the United States questioned Taiwan’s seriousness about its self-defense, level of defense spending, and protection of secrets. The Pentagon broadened its focus from Taiwan’s arms urchases to its regular defense budget, readiness for self-defense, and critical nfrastructure protection. Blocked by the Kuomintang (KMT) party in the Legislative Yuan (LY) that opposed the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s president (2000-2008), the Special Budget (not passed) for submarines, P-3C ASW aircraft, and PAC-3 missile defense systems was cut from $18 billion in 2004 to $9 billion (for submarines only) in 2005. In March 2006, Taiwan’s defense minister requested a 2006 Supplemental Defense Budget (not passed) in part for submarine procurement, P-3Cs, and PAC-2 upgrades (not new PAC-3 missiles). In June 2007, the LY passed Taiwan’s 2007 defense budget with funds for P-3C planes, PAC-2 upgrades, and F-16C/D fighters. In December 2007, the LY approved $62 million to start the sub design phase. After the KMT’s Ma Ying-jeou became President in May 2008, Taiwan retained the requests but has cut the defense budgets.

Also, attention turned to U.S. decisions on pending arms sales. In 2008, congressional concerns mounted about a suspected “freeze” in President Bush’s notifications to Congress on eight pending arms sales as well as his refusal to accept Taiwan’s request for F-16C/D fighters. On October 3, 2008, Bush finally notified Congress. However, he submitted six of the eight pending sales (not a “package”) for a combined value of about $6.5 billion. The Administration did not submit for congressional review the pending programs for Black Hawk utility helicopters or the submarine design. Moreover, the sale of PAC-3 missile defense systems was broken up into two parts (with notification of one part). Other pending programs include the Osprey-class minehunters that Congress authorized for sale in P.L. 110-229 and follow-on technical support for the Posheng command and control program. Congress might further assert its legislated role in any objective determinations of Taiwan’s needs and oversight of President Obama’s adherence to the TRA. The Administration argues that it has been reviewing pending arms sales, but it did not notify Congress of any such programs in 2009. Legislation in the 111th Congress include: National Defense Authorization Act for FY2010, P.L. 111-84; H.Res. 733 (Gingrey); H.Con.Res. 200 (Andrews); H.R. 4102 (Ros-Lehtinen); and H.Res. 927 (Barton).

Date of Report: December 29, 2009
Number of Pages: 65
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Monday, January 4, 2010

China Naval Modernization: Implications for U.S. Navy Capabilities—Background and Issues for Congress

Ronald O'Rourke
Specialist in Naval Affairs

Summary
In the debate over future U.S. defense spending, including deliberations taking place in the current Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), a key issue is how much emphasis to place on programs for countering improved Chinese military forces in coming years. Observers disagree on the issue, with some arguing that such programs should receive significant emphasis, others arguing that they should receive relatively little, and still others taking an intermediate position. The question of how much emphasis to place in U.S. defense planning on programs for countering improved Chinese military forces is of particular importance to the U.S. Navy, because many programs associated with countering improved Chinese military forces would fall within the Navy's budget.

China's naval modernization effort encompasses a broad array of weapon acquisition programs, including programs for anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs), anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs), land-attack cruise missiles (LACMs), surface-to-air missiles, mines, aircraft, submarines, destroyers and frigates, patrol craft, and amphibious ships. In addition, observers believe that China may soon begin (or already has begun) an indigenous aircraft carrier construction program. China's naval modernization effort also includes reforms and improvements in maintenance and logistics, naval doctrine, personnel quality, education, training, and exercises. Although China's naval modernization effort has substantially
improved China's naval capabilities in recent years, observers believe China's navy continues to exhibit limitations or weaknesses in several areas.

DOD and other observers believe that the near-term focus of China's military modernization effort, including its naval modernization effort, has been to develop military options for addressing the situation with Taiwan. Consistent with this goal, observers believe that China wants its military to be capable of acting as a so-called anti-access force—a force that can deter U.S. intervention in a conflict involving Taiwan, or failing that, delay the arrival or reduce the effectiveness of intervening U.S. naval and air forces. DOD and other observers believe that, in addition to the near-term focus on developing military options relating to Taiwan, additional goals of China's naval modernization effort include improving China's ability to do the following: assert or defend China's claims in maritime territorial disputes and China's interpretation of international laws relating freedom of navigation in exclusive economic zones (an interpretation at odds with the U.S. interpretation); protect China's sea lines of communications to the Persian Gulf, on which China relies for some of its energy imports; and assert China's status as a major world power, encourage other states in the
region to align their policies with China, and displace U.S. regional military influence.


A decision to place a relatively strong defense-planning emphasis on countering improved Chinese military forces in coming years could lead to one more of the following: increasing activities for monitoring and understanding developments in China's navy, as well as activities for measuring and better understanding operating conditions in the Western Pacific; assigning a larger percentage of the Navy to the Pacific Fleet; homeporting more of the Pacific Fleet's ships at forward locations such as Hawaii, Guam, and Japan; increasing training and exercises in operations relating to countering Chinese maritime anti-access forces,
such as antisubmarine warfare (ASW) operations; and placing a relatively strong emphasis on programs for developing and procuring highly capable ships, aircraft,and weapons.


Date of Report: December 23, 2009
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North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons: Technical Issues

Mary Beth Nikitin
Analyst in Nonproliferation

Summary
This report summarizes what is known from open sources about the North Korean nuclear weapons program—including weapons-usable fissile material and warhead estimates—and assesses current developments in achieving denuclearization. In total, it is estimated that North Korea has between 30 and 50 kilograms of separated plutonium, enough for at least half a dozen nuclear weapons. While North Korea's weapons program has been plutonium-based from the start, in the last decade, intelligence emerged pointing to a second route to a bomb using highly enriched uranium.

However, the scope and success of a uranium enrichment program may be limited. Little detailed open-source information is available about the DPRK's nuclear weapons production capabilities, warhead sophistication, the extent of a uranium enrichment program, or proliferation activities.


Beginning in late 2002, North Korea ended an eight-year freeze on its plutonium production program, expelled international inspectors, and restarted facilities. In September 2005, members of the Six Party Talks (United States, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and North Korea) issued a Joint Statement on the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. On October 9, 2006, North Korea conducted a nuclear test, with a yield of less than 1 kiloton. In February 2007, North Korea
and the other members of the Six-Party Talks agreed on steps for phased implementation of the 2005 denuclearization agreement. Phase 1 included the shut-down of plutonium production at the Yongbyon nuclear complex in exchange for an initial heavy fuel oil shipment to North Korea. Phase 2 steps included disablement of plutonium production facilities at Yongbyon and a "complete and correct" declaration of DPRK nuclear activities, in exchange for delivery of energy assistance and removal of certain U.S. sanctions. The declaration was submitted in June 2008. Thereafter, President Bush removed North Korea from the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA) list and notified Congress of his intent to lift the State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) designation after North Korea agreed to
verification provisions. North Korea did not accept initial U.S. verification proposals, and in September 2008, threatened to restart reprocessing plutonium.

U.S. officials announced a verbal bilateral agreement on verification in October 2008, and the Bush administration removed North Korea from the SST List. North Korea soon after said that it had not agreed to sampling at nuclear sites, a key element for verification of plutonium production. The Six-Party Talks have not convened since December 2008.

North Korea's failed satellite launch on April 5, 2009, which used ballistic missile-related technology, led to U.N. Security Council condemnation. In response, North Korea said it would abandon the Six-Party Talks and restart its nuclear facilities, and asked international and U.S. inspectors to leave the country. North Korea claimed it tested a nuclear weapon on May 25, 2009, which is estimated as larger than the 2006 blast, but still modest. Through its official news agency, North Korea claimed in September 2009 that it was conducting "experimental uranium enrichment" and in November 2009 that it had reprocessed spent fuel at the Yongbyon facility and had begun to weaponize the resulting plutonium.


Date of Report: December 16, 2009
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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Prospects for Democracy in Hong Kong: The 2012 Election Reforms

Michael F. Martin
Specialist in Asian Affairs

Summary
Support for the democratization of Hong Kong has been an element of U.S. foreign policy for over 17 years. The Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-383) states, "Support for democratization is a fundamental principle of United States foreign policy. As such, it naturally applies to United States policy toward Hong Kong. This will remain equally true after June 30, 1997." The Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-8) provides at least $17 million for "the promotion of democracy in the People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan..."

The democratization of Hong Kong is also enshrined in the Basic Law, Hong Kong's quasiconstitution that was passed by China's National People's Congress (NPC) prior to China's resumption of sovereignty over the ex-British colony on July 1, 1997. The Basic Law stipulates that the "ultimate aim" is the selection of Hong Kong's Chief Executive and the members of its Legislative Council (Legco) by "universal suffrage." However, it does not designate a specific date by which this goal is to be achieved.

On November 18, 2009, Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen released the government's long-awaited "consultation document" on possible reforms for the city's next Chief Executive and Legislative Council (Legco) elections to be held in 2012. The release of the document reopens a period of public consultation on the subject that is to end on February 19, 2010. After that date, Chief Executive Tsang is expected to introduce draft legislation to Legco specifying what changes are to be made in the 2012 elections. Chief Executive Tsang suspended the public consultation process in January 2009 because of a "once in a lifetime economic crisis" precipitated by the ripple effects of the collapse of the U.S. sub-prime mortgage market. At the time, many observers were critical of the suspension, saying it violated a promise made in 2007 during his campaign for re-election as Chief Executive.

The potential 2012 election reforms are important to Hong Kong's democratization for two reasons. First, they are an indication of the Hong Kong government's willingness to press for democratic reforms. Second, the Chief Executive and Legco selected in 2012 will have the power to implement universal suffrage for the Chief Executive election in 2017 and the Legco election in 2020, if they so choose.

The document delineates the changes possible for the 2012 elections in light of the December 2007 decision by the Standing Committee of China’s National People's Congress (NPCSC) that precluded the direct election of the Chief Executive and Legco by universal suffrage in 2012.

These include: expanding the size of the Election Committee that selects the Chief Executive from 800 to 1,200 people; increasing the number of Legco seats from 60 to 70; and allocating the five new functional constituency seats to the elected members of Hong Kong's District Councils. The document was immediately met by sharp criticism from representatives of Hong Kong's "pro-democracy" parties. Their comments focused on the failure to provide a path towards universal suffrage for the Chief Executive election in 2017 and the Legco election in 2020. In a
press conference, Chief Executive Tsang called the document a step forward for democracy in Hong Kong. He also made a call for unity, saying, "This is a time for seeking consensus, not differences. This is a time to abandon impractical demands."

This report will be updated as circumstances warrant.

Date of Report: December 10, 2009
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North Korea: Chronology of Provocations, 1950 - 1998 Updated October 14, 1998

Rinn S. Shinn
Analyst in Asian Affairs
Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division

Abstract
This report provides a selective chronology of instances of North Korean provocations against South Korea, the United States, and Japan since 1950. It will be updated periodically. For more information on North Korea from the Congressional Research Service, see the Guide to CRS Products under "East Asia."

North Korea: Chronology of Provocation,1950-1998

Summary
This selective chronology provides information on instances of North Korean provocations against South Korea, the United States, and Japan between June 1950 and June 1998. The term "provocation" is defined to include: armed invasion, border violations, infiltration of armed saboteurs and spies, hijacking, kidnapping, and terrorism (including assassination, bombing, threat intimidation against media personnel and institutions): and incitement aimed at the overthrow of the South Korean government. Throughout the period of this chronology, North Korea consistently issued denials, blaming South Korea for fabricating the alleged provocations. In meetings with U.S. officials North Koreans have demanded that North Korea be removed from the U.S. list of countries supporting terrorism. In April 1993, Pyongyang condemned all forms of terrorism including "the encouragement and support of terrorism." A similar statement was issued in February 1996 and in August 1998. North Korean provocations remain an issue for congressional concern because of implications not only for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, but also for the U.S. sanctions on North Korea in force since 1950. This was an issue raised by South Korean President Kim Dae Jung during his visit to Washington in June 1998 for a summit meeting with President Clinton. It remains an active issue, given the revelation of a suspected North Korean underground nuclear weapons facility as well as the Taepodong-i missile launch on August 31, 1998.

The sources used for this chronology include: South Korean newspapers (Choson Ilbo, Chung'ang Ilbo, Hanguk llbo, Korea Herald, Korea Times, and Seoul Sinmum) and Yonhap News Service; the North Korean ruling party's organ (Nodong Sinmun)and official [North] Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) wire service reports; Japanese newspapers (Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, and Yomiuri Shimbun) and Kyodo News Service; U.S. dailies such as the Washington Post, New York Times, Washington Times, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times; Foreign Broadcast Information Service daily reports; and Associcrted Press and Reuters wire service reports.

This report is an expanded, revised, and updated version of a CRS memo on the "History of North Korean Terrorist Activities," March 271 1997. For the earlier version, see Congressional Record, v. 143, No. 101, July 16, 1997, S7528-S7530.

' [North] Korean Central Mews Agency (KCNA) in English. April 17, 1993; KCNA in English, February 23; 1996; KCNA in English, August 13, 1998


Date of Report: October 14, 1998
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China and Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Missiles: Policy Issues

Shirley A. Kan
Specialist in Asian Security Affairs

Summary
Congress has long been concerned about whether U.S. policy advances the national interest in reducing the role of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and missiles that could deliver them. Recipients of China’s technology reportedly include Pakistan and countries that the State Department says support terrorism, such as Iran and North Korea. This CRS Report, updated as warranted, discusses the security problem of China’s role in weapons proliferation and issues related to the U.S. policy response since the mid-1990s. China has taken some steps to mollify U.S. and other foreign concerns about its role in weapons proliferation. Nonetheless, supplies from China have aggravated trends that result in ambiguous technical aid, more indigenous capabilities, longer-range missiles, and secondary (retransferred) proliferation. According to unclassified intelligence reports submitted as required to Congress, China has been a “key supplier” of technology to North Korea, Iran, and Pakistan
for use in programs to develop ballistic missiles, chemical weapons, or nuclear weapons.

Policy issues in seeking PRC cooperation have concerned summits, sanctions, and satellite exports. On November 21, 2000, the Clinton Administration agreed to waive missile proliferation sanctions, resume processing licenses to export satellites to China, and discuss an extension of the bilateral space launch agreement, in return for another promise from China on missile nonproliferation. However, continued PRC proliferation activities again raised questions about sanctions. In contrast to the Clinton Administration, the Bush Administration repeatedly imposed sanctions on PRC “entities” for troublesome transfers. Since 1991, the United States has imposed sanctions on 26 occasions on over 30 different PRC “entities” (not the government) for transfers (related to missiles and chemical weapons) to Pakistan, Iran, or another country, including repeated sanctions on some “serial proliferators.” (See the table at the end of this report.) Among those sanctions, in September 2001, the Administration imposed missile proliferation sanctions that effectively denied satellite exports (for two years), after a PRC company transferred technology to Pakistan, despite the November 2000 promise. In September 2003, the State Department imposed additional sanctions on NORINCO, a defense industrial entity, effectively denying satellite exports to China. However, for six times, the State Department waived this sanction for the ban on imports of other PRC government products related to missiles, space systems, electronics, and military aircraft, and issued a permanent waiver in March 2007.

Skeptics question whether China’s cooperation in weapons nonproliferation has warranted the U.S. pursuit of closer bilateral ties, even as sanctions were required against some PRC supplies of sensitive technology. Some question the imposition of numerous U.S. sanctions targeting PRC “entities” but not the PRC government. Others question the effectiveness of any stress on sanctions over diplomacy. Since 2002, the United States has relied on China’s “considerable influence” on North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons and praised its role, but Beijing has hosted the “Six-Party Talks” with limited results, while the United States also resumed bilateral negotiations with North Korea. China has evolved to vote for some U.N. Security Council sanctions against nuclear proliferation in North Korea and Iran. But it also has maintained balanced positions on North Korea and Iran, including questionable enforcement of sanctions and business as usual (particularly expanded energy exports to North Korea and investments in energy projects in Iran). Some have called for pressing Beijing to use effective leverage against Pyongyang and Tehran. However, North Korea’s second nuclear test in May 2009 prompted greater debate about the importance of China and the Six-Party Talks. Still, at a summit in Beijing on November 17, 2009, President Obama discussed China’s “support” for nuclear nonproliferation in North Korea and Iran.

Date of Report: December 15, 2009
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