U.S. may stop giving oil to North Korea

By Salon Staff

Published November 10, 2002 7:32PM (EST)

Officials meet this week to consider suspending U.S. oil shipments to North Korea, and President Bush's national security adviser said Sunday it's not going to be business as usual" since the recent disclosure of its nuclear weapons program.

Condoleezza Rice would not say if a shipment of oil that left Singapore on Wednesday for North Korea would be allowed to reach the communist state.

I'm not going to get ahead of the diplomacy. We're dealing with our friends and allies on this,'' Rice said. The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, comprised of the United States, South Korea, Japan and the European Union, plans to meet in New York this week to try to reach a consensus on whether the shipments should continue.

The United States has been providing 500,000 metric tons of heavy oil to North Korea annually since 1994 as part of an accord with the United States. Under the original plan, the shipments were to continue until two light water reactors, financed by South Korea and Japan, are completed in North Korea.

But both the oil shipments and the reactor projects are in jeopardy as a result of the North's admission last month that it is undertaking a new nuclear weapons project.

Rice said the Bush administration was having very serious discussions" with organization members and Asian nations on how best to deal with North Korea.

The key, she said on ABC's This Week,'' is to convince the North Koreans that they cannot re-enter -- or, I should say, enter (because) they've never been in it -- the international community of peace-loving states and all the benefits that are there until they give up this program, this nuclear weapons program, and all pretensions to it."

Asked about the possibility of the oil shipment reaching North Korea, Rice said diplomacy should be given a chance to work. But, she said, The North Koreans should understand that it's not going to be business as usual while they are in violation of their international agreements."

North Korea's development of its weapons program puts at risk economic and other aid, Rice said, that could help the impoverished communist country.

They have signaled their desire to break out of their isolation ... not because they are great democrats, but because their economy is a shambles,'' she said on Fox News Sunday."

They want more prosperity," she added.

Salon Staff

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