Ban Ki Moon

Korea Policy Review – Harvard University

Inaugural Edition – 2005


Transcription of the September 20, 2005 Speech
By His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Republic of Korea and Discussion held at the Forum, JFK School of Government, Harvard University


“Editors of the Korea Policy Review want to thank the Kennedy School of Government and Korean Embassy for a copy of the transcription.  Due to space constraint, it was necessary to edit parts of this transcript.  However, the integrity of the dialogue has not changed and all participants have agreed to this edited version.”

I. Introductory Remarks by Professor Carter

Ashton Carter:

Good evening. Welcome to the Forum at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. I’m Professor Ashton Carter, and I and Dean David Ellwood welcome you to this event. We’re very privileged this evening to have as our visitor Ban Ki-moon, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea.

Ban Ki-moon is someone well known to Americans like me and my colleagues here who have worked with the Republic of Korea for many years. He is a life-long diplomat, who joined the foreign service in 1970, and has risen steadily in that service. He has served three Presidents of South Korea, each with distinction: Kim Young-sam, Kim Dae-jung, and now Roh Moo-hyun, whom he has served both in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the Blue House. During all that time he’s been a steady hand in U.S.–South Korea relations, and in dealing with a subject that I’m sure will be the centerpiece of Ban Ki-moon’s talk tonight, namely, dealing with North Korea.

I first met him in 1994. In 1998 I had a privilege of going with Secretary of Defense Perry to Pyongyang, North Korea, as the first Presidential envoys to go there. My coach among South Korean diplomats was none other than Ban Ki-moon.

So I have known him for a long time and have great confidence in his judgment, but I must say that we should look upon the affairs he’s telling us about today with great alarm. Why alarm? First and foremost, because for the last four or five years North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has been preceding unchecked to the point at which North Korea is believed to have made somewhere between six and eight nuclear weapons.

Now think about that for a moment. Graham Allison, one of the other speakers tonight, has written at great length about this. Just think about what has happened to New Orleans with Katrina: The obliteration of a city. That’s what each nuclear weapon built by anybody anywhere in the world today can portend, and in the last few years North Korea has been making those bombs and continued to do so at the rate of about one per year.

Months ago, Minister Ban Ki-moon titled this evening’s address, “Beyond the Six-Party Talks.” The Six-Party Talks are those talks intended to cap North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. You probably all know that in the last 48 hours something has resulted from those talks, a result after years of negotiation – a result about which some are optimistic and others are pessimistic. However, nobody’s in a better position to illuminate the costs and benefits of that agreement than Ban Ki-moon. I also hope that since he is looking beyond North Korea’s nuclear situation, he will also talk to us about what is to come. What is the destiny of this little funny place, North Korea, whose GDP is far less than what we will spend to reconstruct New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, but which yet poses a threat with the development of one nuclear weapon per year as we sit here this evening, and beyond that to the role of Korea in East Asia and East Asian security? Once again no one is better suited at this time and especially this place to address these matters than you, Ban Ki-moon.

Thank you for coming this evening.

II. Speech by Ban Ki-moon, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Minister Ban:

Thank you very much Professor Carter for your kind introduction, and Dean Allison, Dean Joseph Nye, and most importantly Dean Ellwood, Distinguished Faculty, Students and Guests, thank you for your kind participation this evening, and for the chance to speak to you on the latest developments on the Korean Peninsula.

Based upon my own career as a diplomat, I would like to share with you this evening some thoughts on the security issues in Korea and Northeast Asia including the key role of U.S.-Korea alliance, under the subject of “Beyond the Six-Party Talks.” In fact, when I chose this subject, I was not quite sure whether by the time I was standing at this podium, whether we would be able to agree and adopt the Joint Statement as we did yesterday.

But somehow I was a little bit more optimistic than anybody else, and among several subjects I chose this subject “Beyond the Six-Party Talks.” I think this is quite a timely subject at this time, and you are going to be the first people to hear this discussion. This is my first public appearance, my first public speech as Korean Foreign Minister to speak about the future of the Korean Peninsula after the North Korean nuclear issue has been resolved. Even though we cannot claim that North Korean nuclear issue is entirely over, we have achieved a very important, historic milestone in the final resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue. So I think you should be privileged to have this opportunity.

Now the resumed session of the fourth round of talks started last Tuesday. But during the 37 days of recess, there was a great deal of diplomatic effort made by each party to narrow down the differences among the Parties, particularly between North Korea and the other five participating countries. I, myself, visited Beijing first and then came to Washington DC to have a consultation with Secretary Rice and other senior officials of my government.  I also traveled to Russia and Japan to have consultations among the four Parties, I mean, five Parties. Key issues which have been outstanding comprised the scope of nuclear programs for dismantlement and the right to peaceful use of nuclear energy by North Korea.

During the past week, all parties concentrated their discussions on the key issues and finally managed to agree on a Joint Statement. This is the first, but very important step toward the full resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue. During my stay in New York last week and today, I was in frequent contact with my counterparts of the countries, four countries, participating in the Six-Party Talks. The negotiation in Beijing was at a critical juncture.

So I had to make a lot of contacts or meetings, with the State Secretary, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing of China, Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia, and also Foreign Minister Machimura of Japan. I think that I made at least seven or eight telephone conversations with Secretary Rice just during the two days at the final stage of this negotiation. It was very hectic, and also I had to meet twice or three times with each of these Foreign Ministers in New York. In fact, the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York provided us with a very good opportunity as a forum venue. There were all the foreign ministers, and we had very easy access to each other over telephone or in the lobbies of the United Nations. Otherwise it might have been very difficult for the Foreign Ministers of  the four Parties to have such a frequent and very focused negotiation on that matter. When we discussed this matter we instructed our chief negotiators respectively in Beijing so that they would act swiftly according to instructions from respective foreign ministers

Now, I would like to explain some major elements of the Joint Statement and its significance. First, the six parties reaffirmed the goal of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. And North Korea committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons they have claimed to have manufactured and all existing nuclear programs, and returning to the NPT (non-proliferation treaty) at an early day and also committed to abide by the full scope of safeguards of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). By agreeing on the goal and principles, we will be able to build a firm foundation to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, which has been the main threat to the security on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.

Second, as the Statement includes respecting North Korea’s right to peaceful use of nuclear energy, promising to take steps to normalize relations among the parties concerned and to promote economic cooperation, North Korea’s major political, economic, and security concerns will be addressed. In implementing this Joint Statement, we can expect North Korea to open up more and become a more responsible member of the international community.

Third, the directly related countries will negotiate a permanent peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. As you know, since the division of the Korean Peninsula, particularly after the Korean war, this armistice agreement has been in force, and we will start to negotiate to transfer this current armistice arrangement to a lasting and durable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. This will have, once completed, a tremendous effect not only on the Korean Peninsula but also on Northeast Asia and beyond.

Fourth, North Korea, the United States and Japan will take steps to normalize relations. I am confident that these steps will contribute to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and the region.

Fifth, with the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue, inter-Korean economic cooperation will be accelerated, and thereby the peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia will be consolidated.

Sixth, the objective of the Joint Statement to stop the development of nuclear weapons will be very much conducive to the strengthening of the global non-proliferation regimes prevent the weapons of mass destruction.

Seventh, the Six Parties agreed to explore ways and means to promote security cooperation in Northeast Asia beyond the Korean Peninsula. Thus, when we are over with the North Korean nuclear issues, we think that the Six-Party Talks forum could be developed into a more permanent security mechanism in Northeast Asia. As you know again, there is no such security mechanism established in Northeast Asia or in the region. In Asia we have only one such security mechanism called the ASEAN Regional Forum. It comprises ten ASEAN countries and other countries including the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Korea, Japan, China, and Russia, too. So it would be much desirable if we could establish such a security mechanism in Northeast Asia after resolution is made on the nuclear issue.

Throughout the process of the Six-Party negotiations, the Korean government has been playing an active role to move the negotiation forward based on the principle of peaceful resolution through dialogue and diplomacy. In particular, the Korean government made an important proposal on July 12th to provide 2 million kilowatts of electric power to North Korea to get Pyongyang back to the talks and help make substantive progress in the negotiations.

In addition, I would like to emphasize without hesitation the importance of the Republic of Korea (ROK)-US coordination in producing this historic Joint Statement. Throughout the whole process, I greatly enjoyed the close work with Secretary Rice, and was satisfied with the outcome we were able to produce.

Taking this opportunity, I want to express my appreciation to the flexibility and creativity shown by all the participating countries, particularly to the United States Government. Although we should expect to encounter some bumps along the road during the implementation process, I believe that all six parties will be able to overcome any difficulties we might face, based on the spirit of cooperation and flexibility.

We hope that North Korea will be forthcoming in faithfully implementing its commitment as early as possible, so that the respect and benefits included in the Joint Statement can be soon ascertained.

Ladies and Gentlemen, now, I would like to go back to the other issues that I intended to address in the beginning. Let me start with how Korea has advanced politically and economically to this day.

Looking back over the past quarter-century, we can see that remarkable changes have taken place in and around the Korean Peninsula. Just 25 years ago, politically, my country was ruled by authoritarian leadership. Economically, we were still lagging behind with per capita GNP with only $2,000. The news on the peninsula was mainly of confrontation and clashes with no hope of reconciliation between the South and North. Korea’s contribution to the international community was limited, due to its preoccupation with its own survival and development.

Yet in just over two decades, Korea has undergone a fundamental change. Korea stands as a mature democracy, the world’s 11th largest economy and an active player on the world stage. Korea has broadened its diplomatic horizons, engaging in proactive diplomacy to promote the vision of democracy and market economy. Korea’s progress is largely derived from a combination of the political leadership’s outward-looking policies and the dedicated response of the people. Our quest for a better future is continuing still, through practical innovation and reform aimed at greater efficiency and transparency.

The neighborhood Korea lives in has also been a factor. Northeast Asia is home to about one-fourth of the world’s population and comprises approximately a quarter of the global GDP. Consequently, many futurists predict Northeast Asia will emerge as a new driving force for the global economy. But as we can observe, both converging and diverging forces are at work in the region. On the plus side, the tide of globalization is accelerating economic cooperation and socio-cultural exchanges. Conversely, this region is also suffering from the diverging forces of mistrust and friction emanating from past history and differences in socio­political systems among the major powers. These destabilizing factors undermine not only regional harmony and stability but also global peace and stability. A new order in Northeast Asia will depend on the visions and policies of the region’s political leaders. The principal players should work to overcome divisiveness and resentment while striving to make this region safer and more prosperous.

To this end, I believe it is important to institutionalize a regional security regime in the future, to secure peace and stability and restore trust among the different parties.

The Six-Party Talks are really an unprecedented multilateral forum in Northeast Asian region. As a forum for institutionalized communication and confidence-building among the participants, I believe the Six-Party Talks will serve as a good example for the development of a multilateral dialogue mechanism to address regional security concerns in the future.

Now I would like to briefly touch upon our relationship with North Korea. We are pursuing a “Policy for Peace and Prosperity.” This approach aims to lay the foundation for peaceful unification by promoting peace on the Peninsula and pursuing the mutual prosperity. We believe that inter-Korean reconciliation with Pyongyang is the right path. We were able to achieve significant progress in many areas, including economic cooperation and exchange of people. We hope to solidify this cooperation and expand it to other areas on the basis of mutual benefit.

Now, again let me briefly touch about the U.S.-Korea alliance. In fact, you know, as I am going to conclude, I cannot finish without mentioning this very important Korea-U.S. relationship.

As history has unfolded and relationships have shifted over the past half-­century, the rock-solid Korea-U.S. alliance has remained a constant. This alliance has played an invaluable role as a firm foundation for Korea’s great achievements. Without such deep and profound ties, the political and economic dynamics of Korea today could not have been achieved.

Korea and the United States fully share the common values of democracy, the market economy, human rights, and the rule of law. Korea has always stood beside the U.S. in addressing issues of mutual concern such as the North Korean nuclear issue as well as the regional and global agenda for the 21st century. As I mentioned in the beginning, the close consultation over many meetings and telephone conversations between Secretary Rice and myself affirmed the closeness of our alliance. As the relationship evolved into a more equal partnership, the U.S. and Korea have resolved almost all long-standing alliance issues during the last couple of years, such as the relocation and reduction of Yong-san Base, and also the relocation of all U.S. military bases into two big hubs in South Korea, and relocation of the U.S. Embassy, and defense burden sharing. Except this defense cost sharing, all three issues have been pending during last at least twenty years. These issues have been some sources of conflict and disappointment in our relationship over last two decades. We have decided with firm determination that without resolving these long-standing issues, we would not be able to enjoy this very strong Korea-U.S. alliance.

Korea’s decision to dispatch its troops to Iraq of about 3,300 soldiers, which is the 3rd largest troop contribution from participating countries, demonstrates Korea’s firm commitment to this alliance with the United States. We also pledged 30 million dollars to help Americans affected by Hurricane Katrina. This all demonstrates that the Korean people have never forgotten the help generously given to Korean people by the Americans when we were in need.

For regional peace and stability, Korea and the United States will work together as a major driving force to achieve this common goal. Through this joint effort, I hope that we will see a more peaceful and prosperous Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia in the future. To that effect, it is very important that the people of the two countries make every effort to better understand and become closer to each other. I do hope that the guests here in this hall will join all in this rewarding endeavor. Through this joint endeavor, I believe that peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula as well as in Northeast Asia is well within our reach.

III. Comments and Discussions by the Panelists

Ashton Carter:

I am going to ask both Graham first and then Joe to add some remarks to those that have been made by Minister Ban. And before they do I just want to reflect myself on what Ban Ki-moon said. I too hope this recent Agreement reached in the last 48 hours leads North Korea to do all the things that the Agreement says that North Korea needs to do. But I have some doubt regarding the North Koreans, and I have observed that pinning them down is always the hard part. I worked once with Paul Nitze when he was a negotiator with the Soviet Union on arms control. I was not much older than our younger students here. And he is the person who coined the phrase “the devil is in the details” for arms control.

And if you look at the Agreement reached in the last 48 hours, it says North Korea will do all these things, but it doesn’t give a time table. It doesn’t say how we will verify that they are going to do it. It doesn’t address one of their key demands which is to receive light water reactors in compensation. So there are a lot of details for the devil to reside in. And I for one am not prepared to begin the celebration although I believe it is a step forward.

One of the thoughts that I have been working on over the last few years is the question of what we would do if this fails, because I’m of the view that we can’t tolerate a continuing nuclear weapons program in North Korea. It’s not only because they might use them. And I remind you again since we all have Katrina so vividly in our mind – that was the disappearance of a city, but not the people with the city. One nuclear weapon, one, causes the disappearance of the city along with all the people in the city. And North Korea is in the process of making the capacity to do that at a steady rate. It doesn’t have to be the North Koreans who use them. We don’t know who they may sell them to and into whose hands they may fall in the future, when if, for example North Korea collapses. I’m a physicist and I’ll tell you that the half life of plutonium 239, which is a material out of which a bomb is made, is 24,000 years. So North Korea is today creating a capability that will cast a shadow over every city on this planet for 24,000 years, many turns of the wheel of history. And therefore I feel that if the diplomatic path doesn’t’ succeed we are going to need to take another path, which is maybe something that Graham and Joe will comment on as well. So let me first ask Professor Graham Allison and Professor Joe Nye to comment on this subject.  And then we will take questions from all of you on the floor.

Graham Allison:

Thank you very much Ash, it is a pleasure and an honor to be here with the Foreign Minister, whom I knew as a student here some time ago. I think that as you listen to his comments tonight, not only in his professional capacity but also his personal capacity, you can see why he’s been extraordinarily effective over a whole career in diplomacy in dealing with often recalcitrant parties, not only in his own government, and not only in North Korea, but even an American ally. While I agree that while much has been appropriately noted and even celebrated to some extent in terms of this Agreement, it’s the beginning of the road not the end of the road. We wouldn’t be here today except for the very hard and effective work he has done. I’m very proud to be here on the panel with him in that respect.

I will make three quick points. First, to underline the points that Ash made. Why did Ash start this and Ban Ki-moon as well, why should we view with such alarm the situation with North Korea. The fact is that for that last two and half years, just to take the recent path, North Korea has taken 8,000 fuel rods that’d been previously frozen, reprocessed them to produce enough plutonium for six additional bombs, and turned on the nuclear weapons production line. Let that process run and you have every reason to worry about precisely what Ash said, namely the sale of one of these weapons to somebody like Osama Bin Laden who could bring one to an American city, or two or three such weapons.

Second, what’s gotten so worrisome is what the UN high level commission reports as “a cascade of proliferation,” which would follow North Korea becoming a recognized nuclear weapons state, which would probably start with Japan.  Ban Ki-moon wouldn’t say so, but I would say South Korea wouldn’t be too far behind, that would be my betting, and Taiwan would be looking. So you are talking about an entirely different world in Northeast Asia. That’s point one.

Point two. We try to think now of early analyzing just what did happen in the last 48 hours. But if I’m asked myself of the six parties, which you had been trying to deal with over this period – during the period of the Six-Party Talks, which of the parties moved the furthest from its policy and behavior of the previous four years just as a controversial way to think of it in terms of the game. And in my list, I think the first place is tied between China and the United States, not North Korea.

For years China thought that it fulfilled its responsibilities by serving as the host of the meetings, and providing concierge services like providing tea or something. And it was up the other parties to decide what they were going to do. But in the last months, and rather intensely here in the last a couple of weeks, China became an active diplomatic player, actually writing a draft of the Joint Agreement and several revisions of the draft and then most surprisingly to me, giving the U.S. and North Korea in effect an ultimatum which said that “this draft is going to be finished, accepted or rejected within the next 24 hours and it’s over to you.” So, if you read this Sanger story today, you see a lot of the internal politics of the American Government in that respect where, according to Sanger, on Sunday afternoon President Bush had to decide either to accept this agreement as it was stated, or as the Chinese had explained to him, to have them explain that the Agreement failed because the U.S. failed to accept it. That’s not exactly the active role for China that President Bush had counseled China to play. But it’s an active role for China and it’s very interesting to me. And I think what it bodes for the future, I’d be very interested. Perhaps in the questions the Foreign Minister would say something more about it.

In the case of the U.S., I regard this as a great triumph for the second term of the Bush foreign policy in which you see a realism and pragmatism. That’s quite a sharp contrast with the more ideological approach of the first term. In the first term, that summary of it for me was Vice President Cheney’s one-liner, which said, “We do not negotiate with evil. We defeat evil.” And left to that, so, after occasional insults the U.S. basically provided for North Korea no carrots, as the policy said “no benefits for North Korea, no rewarding for good or bad behavior,” and no sticks. So when North Korea proceeded to reprocess these 8,000 fuel rods for six more nuclear bombs, the U.S. basically neglected the situation. And it was getting worse, and worse, and worse. So the fact that the U.S. has moved into a zone of negotiating about carrots and sticks, basically what’s called “the more for more approach” that Ash Carter and Bill Perry proposed back in 1998 seems to me the movement into the reality zone and a big, big shift for the Bush administration which I think is quite positive.

My final point is, “are we prepared to celebrate that the problem of nuclear North Korea is over?” Absolutely not. I agree very much with Ash. I think we’re at the beginning of the road here, but the road looked like a dead alley, you know, a dead end for me a long period of time. And I see a little bit of glimmer of hope open in this situation. It seems to me basically we’re on the ten-yard line, if you put it in football terms, but in our ten-yard line. So, it’s ninety yards to the goal line even if there is an agreement. And there are battles between that to go in that implementation. I would say nonetheless we’re on the offense, and there is an idea about where the goal line is. And I’m rather positive and I’m very admiring of the work that Ban Ki-moon did in getting rather recalcitrant group to this point.

Joseph Nye:

Let me echo my colleagues’ pleasure at having Ban Ki-moon back at the school. He has been a voice of reason on the Korean Peninsula and Asia generally. For more than a decade he was National Security Advisor and now is Foreign Minister, so the Kennedy School is justly proud of him. I also applaud what he has accomplished and I think this is a great footing. A glimmer of hope is important for a policy maker. A policy maker doesn’t say “the odds are 50-50” or “they are against me and give up.” The policy maker says “even if there aren’t any odds at all, I’m going to work like the devil for that.” And Ban Ki-moon deserves credit for that.

But tonight, I’m here as an analyst not a policy maker. So I can applaud what he’s doing, but say that if I had to make a bet, I would not bet on my preferences which is that he succeeds, but that what I think would happen as best I can see the situation.

And I think I would be somewhat pessimistic. The key question is “whose side is the time on?” I was a head of the National Intelligence Council when we did the first estimate on the North Korean nuclear weapons back in 1993, twelve years ago. At that time we felt they might have made perhaps up to two bombs based on a material about which they had cheated. Back in the first Bush administration they cheated on their IAEA agreements. But we felt with only two bombs they can’t sell them and give them away and probably they wouldn’t even explode one because there were so few. But now they have reprocessed material for six more bombs. And they have a program, which is ongoing, which we think is a nuclear enrichment program which can make more.

It is extraordinary how badly we misjudged the North Koreans over the last twelve years. In ’94 when we had a Framework Agreement, where we would trade them a light-water reactor for their putting inspectors in Yong-byon, not for processing, there was a general view that it’s ten to fifteen years to build a light-water reactor, and by that time surely the regime would have changed. But guess what? It didn’t. And in the early days of the Bush II administration, there was also a feeling that this regime could not persist. But it has.

I think the interesting question is what’s going on now. Have the North Koreans really set their foot down on the path toward a better future, or are they just buying time to keep their nuclear program going? From the North Korean point of view, the best outcome is to develop nuclear weapons and also get access to outside resources. If you’re going to have both, having your cake and eat it too, that’s a lot better than giving away your nuclear weapons. And so if I’m asked what’s going on, if I look at the ambiguities, I would say that the North Koreans are quite brilliant in their ability to play us. If you were a man from Mars and you came down to the Earth, then you said, “Look at this tiny country, poor, weak, starving. How does it deal with the Superpower?” But you know what? It beats the Superpower. On most of the Agreements we reached with them, they have done better. And right now the interesting thing is they reached another agreement which we hope is a step to a right direction. But there’s enormous ambiguity about time. Do they stop the nuclear program before they get the reactor, or vice versa?

There’s also an ambiguity about the enrichment. The Agreement says they will dismantle all nuclear facilities, but they don’t even admit having enrichment facilities, which the Pakistanis have told us they gave them. So when we say what’s in this agreement, there’s a promise of hope, but it’s full of ambiguity. And it is quite consistent with a hypothesis that North Koreans are buying time, because their best option is to have their cake and eat it too. If that is true, then I’m a little bit on the pessimistic side, speaking analytically. But as a policy maker, I would be exactly where Ban Ki-moon is. I would keep trying, because it is possible that you can enlarge that glimmer of hope, because it is possible that something would get better.

I think what Graham said about change in the role of the Chinese is probably the greatest source of optimism. If any country has leverage, it’s China. And for the last several years China has been profoundly ambivalent. They don’t want to press the North Koreans because they don’t want to destabilize North Korea. But they don’t want the Korean Peninsula to go nuclear, either. So China has been on the fence. And if by pressing the Americans and the North Koreans to reach this agreement, the Chinese committed enough of their prestige that they now have to make this agreement work, that might be what we call the ray of optimism which might make this thing grow. And in that case I hope that my analysis is wrong because I’m firmly behind what Ban Ki-moon is trying to do as a policy maker.

IV. Q &A Session with the Audience

Ashton Carter:

Join the conversation, come forward to the microphone, put a question to Minister Ban, who might also choose to respond to anything else he’s heard this evening.


Is there any usefulness in thinking about the ultimate goal of reunification of the Korean Peninsula in these talks or in the foreseeable future? Or is it just too far down on the road?

Minister Ban:

Well, unification is our goal, this ardent aspiration of 70 million Korean people. But the problem is before we reach that ultimate goal, aspiration of unification, we have to resolve all this security issues including this North Korean nuclear issue. Now, as I have explained, when this North Korean nuclear issue is over or in the process of resolving, we are going to initiate a very important meeting to discuss transferring this current armistice arrangement into a peace regime on the Korean Peninsula. That will be a step toward unification. To realize unification I think my government takes position this unification should be realized in gradual, step-by-step, instead of sudden situation happening on the Korean Peninsula. South Korean Government will maybe be in a very difficult position to absorb and accommodate a sudden political and social impact when North Korea suddenly collapses. To prevent this situation from happening we are now trying to exchange a widened scope of exchanges and cooperation thereby bridging gap of distrust. Also we need to reconcile each other. We need to promote reconciliation through exchanges of separate families and also making North Korea reform and change and open up into the international society. It may take quite a long time, we are not sure how long it will take, but I can surely tell you that this is our ultimate goal to realize unification, thank you.


As professor Carter emphasized, even one nuclear weapon can have far worse devastation power than hurricane Katrina, now if the current assumption is that North Korean has six to eight of these weapons, then shouldn’t the Agreement focus of touching not only suspending current work on the nuclear weapons program, but also a pledge at least to.. not to use nuclear weapons, the existing nuclear weapons North Korea has, perhaps even their abandonment or confiscation by the United Nations?

Minister Ban:

Now, first of all we don’t know, we’re not quite sure, we don’t have exact intelligence or information on how many North Koreans have manufactured nuclear weapons. The key question in our end-goal and our principle is that North Korean should dismantle all nuclear weapons, whatever, how many. They have claimed to have manufactured. It is significant that North Korea has committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing programs. Existing programs includes all, plutonium based or uranium based. There have been a lot of talks. What about uranium enrichment program? Now we have demanded and urge North Korea to dismantle all nuclear programs whether they may be based on uranium and plutonium. So, we need to continuously urge and seek North Korea to faithfully implement this joint statement.

Ashton Carter:

I have the Joint Statement in front of me. The text reads, “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” I mean, North Korea, “committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs.” So the nuclear weapons are included in the Agreement.


What is your advice to Japanese Government to resolve abduction issue and how Japanese Government should take the best advantage of the Agreement, the recent Agreement?

Ashton Carter:

May I explain the abduction issue to the audience? Some years back North Korea abducted Japanese citizens from Japanese territory. The North Koreans traveled in a submarine, came ashore, took the Japanese citizens, took them back to North Korea, and made them interpreters. Now this is quite an astonishing practice, which North Korea admitted to doing but has not given full accounting to Japan of all of the abductees and their fates. This is a big issue in Japan. It’s a big issue and somehow Japan feels that this nuclear issue is tied to the abductee issue. I’m just explaining this to the audience for the background.

Minister Ban:

First of all, I would like to say Japan has been a very constructive role, and Korea, Japan, and the United States have been in very close coordination in this negotiation over the North Korean nuclear issue. We know how difficult and important this abduction case issue is Japanese people. My government has always expressed its full support and sympathies to Japanese Government over this issue. Now this issue, this abduction case, has not been much discussed in the course of the Six-Party Talks, because the Six-Party Talks were focused and meant on resolving North Korean nuclear issue.

The Japanese Government sometimes wanted raise this issue, and discussed it during and after the Six-Party Talks. Since the Agreement is adopted, I think there is an opportunity and good ground for Japanese Government to engage with North Korea in negotiations or dialogue to first normalize relationship with North Korea, and then they will be able to discuss this abduction issue with North Korea.


How do you think this succession issue will play out since Kim Jong-il is more than sixty years old already. Will it go to his second son, and do you think there are any forces or factions in North Korea that are pushing for internal changes in that country?

Minister Ban:

Well, this is rather a very sensitive issue for Foreign Minister of Korea to mention anything about succession issue of North Korea.

Ashton Carter:

Here, it’s Harvard. No one will tell.

Minister Ban:

I think, I understand there are Korean TV’s and CSPAN covering this whole discussion which will be broadcast nationwide. If I may say one thing, the assessment of our observation is that Chairman Kim Jong-il seems to be well in power, managing every aspect of North Korean society. Now we do not have much information about what’s going on in the internal politics. That is, should be, something to be left to North Korean people to decide what kind of system or leadership they want to have. For us we will try to convince North Korea to reform and change their society so that we will be able to have much greater exchanges not only economically but also socially and culturally to bridge the gap which has been created during the last five decades of division. I think I will stop here, I think you will understand.


I just wanted to ask you a question about the previous 1994 Agreed Framework in assessing how it moved toward, passed to the Six-Party Talks might be constructed to look at how that Agreement fails. I think among the many factors, there are many over which we have no controls, so you know, recalcitrance of the U.S. Congress, North Korean behavior, famines, and floods. One of the things we do have control over is the structure of the Agreement. Coming from a sort of legal perspective, I’m sort of interested in how you can phrase or structure this Agreement to better enable us to verify the Agreement is moving forward, to verify that North Korea is in compliance. In particular I think it’s article 5 perhaps, that talks about commitments, “commitments for commitments” step-by-step sort of process which didn’t seem to work so well last time. What are the plans that your Government has for fixing that structure this time around?

Minister Ban:

First of all, you should understand that both Agreements, Geneva Agreed Framework and this time Beijing Joint Statement are all political declarations, political agreements. It’s not legal-type, treaty-type agreements. However, this is also very important political commitment made among the Six-Parties.

There is a very significant difference between the 1949 Geneva Agreed Framework Agreement and also this Joint Statement adopted in Beijing. First of all, in terms of participants, there were only two parties, the United States and North Korea who made this Agreed Framework Agreement in 1994. This Agreed Framework was broken by violation by North Korea that is nuclear crisis has happened and we have been engaging to prevent further proliferation as well as further development of nuclear weapons program by North Korea. Now this Six-Party Talks Agreement is a very important political statement agreed among six countries, and we need to engage in discuss detailed action programs, which will facilitate implementation of the principles and goals.

But if you read carefully this joint statement, it contains all important elements, principles, and goals. But one may claim that there is a certain ambiguity, but to complement this ambiguity we are now going to work, to discuss the detailed action programs. And another important difference between the two is that while Geneva Agreed Framework was mainly meant for freeze vs. corresponding measures. But this Beijing joint statement is meant for the immediate dismantlement vs. corresponding measures. When I say corresponding measures, it means providing economic assistance including energy, multilateral security assurances, and also some, at later stage, giving North Korea right to peaceful use of nuclear energy including light water reactors.


My question is for you Foreign Minister. You said the Six-Party Talks could promote more permanent, more secure multilateral security regime in Northeast Asia. If that’s the case, I think South Korea should wisely use this new regime to speed up unification process between the two Koreas by actively coordinating all other parties with different national interests. So to do that what should be South Korea’s strategy?

Minister Ban:

Basically I think unification process should be discussed and resolved between the two parties directly concerned, that is South and North Korea. When I said that it would be desirable to establish a sort of multilateral security regime in Northeast Asia, that is meant to discuss all regional security issues. There are many important and challenging issues in 21st century. Not only this nuclear issue, but also there are many issues, proliferation of mass destructions (weapons), and missile issues, and many issues. These issues should be discussed among the parties concerned in Northeast Asia.


How do you see a civil society contribute to world peace for the Korean Peninsula and how much do you believe young people’s power to social changes and transformation?

Minister Ban:

Civil societies’ contribution will be very important, while most of reconciliatory exchange and cooperation programs are being done on government level. At this time, there are many NGO’s, humanitarian civil societies who are involved in the process of exchanges and cooperation. We do encourage continuous engagement in that important and noble action. But there are many problems in North Korea. Recently they have requested some international humanitarian assistance to withdraw from North Korea. However, it would be important to continuously try to engage North Korea to bring them outside by widening doors for such opportunities. So I’m encouraging to do so. Thank you.


You mentioned that we know very little about North Korea and how secure Jong-il Kim is. We also don’t know the exact number of nuclear weapons that North Korea possesses, I would just ask you to agree that to implement this Agreement to better insure that North Koreans living up to expectations that they set for themselves. We are to improve our intelligence, capabilities of both U.S. and South Koreans in terms of dealing with Korea.

Minister Ban:

There is an important passage in the joint Statement. North Korea will abide by full safeguard of IAEA. IAEA is an important organization of the United Nations, specialized in inspections and verifications. They will soon be in contact in technical consultation with North Koreans in accordance with the joint Statement. But all this detailed program action will have to be worked out among Six-Parties when we meet again in November in Beijing. So, we will watch and see how faithfully North Koreans will implement this Agreement. Thank you.

Ashton Carter:

I think that we need to bring this evening to a close now. For those of you who are new students to the Kennedy School, this event illustrates what this school and this Forum are all about. You have students from throughout the university, not just the Kennedy School, meeting together talking about subjects that are not only current but also of deepest importance to human society. You had an illustration of everything we try to create here at the Kennedy School with our graduate, Ban Ki-moon. And we have this inquiring spirit we try to apply to these very difficult problems. No matter how difficult it gets, no matter how pessimistic and cynical we can all be, you can’t give up. It’s the only world we have, this is the only government we have, this is the only government South Korea has, and we’re very, very fortunate to have the kinds of people represented by Ban Ki-moon at the helm of these important countries. And so keep coming back to the Forum, and let’s hope that each and every one of you ends up like Ban Ki-moon, this kind of international civil servant. We’re very proud of this Foreign Minister. Thank you so much taking the time to come back here to share your views. Thank you very much.

Ban Ki-Moon is Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Republic of Korea.  He graduated from the Department of International Relations, Seoul National University, and from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University (Master in Public Administration).  Since he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in 1972, he has taken numerous positions as a career diplomat, including Chairman of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ambassador to the United Nations, and Advisor to the President for Foreign Policy.

Grahan Allison is Douglas Dillon Professor of Government and Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. From 1977-1989, Allison served as Dean of the Kennedy School. In the first term of the Clinton Administration, Allison served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy and Plans, where he coordinated Department of Defense strategy and policy toward Russia, Ukraine, and the other states of the former Soviet Union. His publication Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (1971) was recently released in an updated and revised second edition (1999) and ranks among the best-sellers in political science with more than 350,000 copies in print. Other publications include Avoiding Nuclear Anarchy: Containing the Threat of Loose Russian Nuclear Weapons and Fissile Material (1996),Realizing Human Rights: From Inspiration to Impact (2000), and Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe (2004).

Ashton B. Carter is Ford Foundation Professor of Science and International Affairs and Codirector, with former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, of the Preventive Defense Project. From 1993 to 1996, he served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, where he was responsible for national security policy on arms control in the states of the former Soviet Union, for countering arms proliferation worldwide, and for overseeing the U.S. nuclear arsenal and missile defense programs. He was twice awarded the Department of Defense’s Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award given by the Pentagon. Before his government service, Carter was Director of the Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School. He received bachelor’s degrees in medieval history and in physics from Yale University and a doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He has authored numerous scientific articles, government studies, and books.

Joseph S. Nye Jr., University Distinguished Service Professor, is also the Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations and former Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He received his bachelor’s degree summa cum laude from Princeton University, did postgraduate work at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, and earned a PhD in political science from Harvard. He has served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Chair of the National Intelligence Council, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science and Technology. In 2004, he published Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics, Understanding International Conflict (5th edition), and The Power Game: A Washington Novel.