Korea Times Feb 21, 2007
North Korea Enacts Law Against Money LaunderingIntelligence Agency Says Pyongyang Has Highly Enriched Uranium Program
By Park Song-wuStaff Reporter
The National Intelligence Service (NIS) on Tuesday confirmed that North Korea recently enacted a law that prohibits money laundering.
The standing committee of the North’s Supreme People’s Assembly adopted the legislation last October to ban financial transactions involving illegal earnings, the agency said in a press release.
The enactment apparently aimed at settling the U.S. financial sanctions on a bank in Macau that was blacklisted by Washington in September 2005 for its suspicious role in helping the North conduct illicit financial activities, it said.
Under the latest six-party agreement, reached on Feb. 13, the United States is to resolve financial sanctions within 30 days on North Korean assets worth $24 million that have been frozen in the Macau bank.
The NIS also confirmed that the North has a highly enriched uranium (HEU) program.
NIS officials made the confirmation during a closed-door National Assembly session as the Beijing deal on initial actions to implement the denuclearization of North Korea came under criticism for not mentioning the HEU program.
After ending the session, a lawmaker said on condition of anonymity that the NIS officials confirmed the existence of the HEU program in the North.
When North Korea’s uranium enrichment program came to the fore in 2002, Washington and Pyongyang accused each other of violating the 1994 agreed framework that eventually collapsed.
Seoul and Washington are reportedly sharing the view that Pyongyang has an HEU program, for which the North began purchasing large quantities of centrifuge-related equipment in 2001.
But what is not yet clear is whether the North has begun to produce weapons-grade uranium.
In a separate Assembly session, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Song Min-soon also faced the same question from lawmakers on why the Beijing agreement did not mention the HEU program.
He avoided speaking specifically on the sensitive issue that triggered the second nuclear crisis in October 2002. But he said it will be addressed as the latest agreement invoked section one of the joint statement adopted in September 2005.
“The Beijing deal is about initial steps, and it’s not a complete roadmap toward the denuclearization,” Song said. “But the recent agreement requires the North to declare all of its nuclear programs.”
In section one of the September statement, the North committed to abandoning “all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs” and returning at an early date to the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons treaty (NPT) and to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.
The main opposition Grand National Party (GNP) also expressed doubts over Pyongyang’s willingness to abide by its pledges to implement initial measures for the denuclearization of North Korea.
Rep. Kim Yong-kap of the conservative party found problems with the deal reached in Beijing on Feb. 13 since key components of it, especially on the disablement of the North’s nuclear facilities, are overly “abstract.”
“Despite the North’s agreement to disable its 5 megawatt reactor in Yongbyon, it later changed the wording into a temporary stoppage of operations,” Kim said.
The North’s media promptly reported the result of latest six-party talks, but did not use the term “disablement.” Seoul officials interpreted it as an attempt to mislead North Koreans so they do not lose their pride.
“In addition, there is no deadline on the disablement. I am simply doubtful of the deal’s practicality,” he said.
According to a Chosun Ilbo-Gallup Korea poll, conducted on Feb. 19, 77.9 percent of respondents predicted that the North would not keep its pledges, while 15.8 percent of the 1,006 respondents trusted the North.
But Song said the Beijing deal was a good chance to reaffirm Pyongyang’s willingness for an early denuclearization.
He also dismissed the GNP’s claim that Seoul is determined to share the largest financial burden of aiding the North to achieve a second inter-Korean summit in the run-up to the December presidential election.
“We will not bear all the burden because all five parties have agreed to provide economic aid on the principle of equality and equity,” he said. “And the provision of assistance will be made in line with the principle of action for action.”
As a first step toward denuclearization, North Korea is to shut down its nuclear-related facilities at Yongbyon while allowing United Nations nuclear inspectors back to the nuclear complex to seal them off.
Seoul’s top nuclear negotiator, Chun Yung-woo, said in Beijing on Feb. 13 that the deal is working under an “incentive system.”
For shutting down the Yongbyon complex, the North would receive the equivalent of 50,000 tons of heavy fuel oil in emergency relief aid. An additional 950,000 tons of heavy oil or equivalent aid will be provided to the country upon its completion of disabling other nuclear-related facilities.
[email protected] 02-20-2007 21:31
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