Press Statement by James P. Rubin, Spokesman
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
On May 18-24, 1999, a U.S. Department of State team traveled to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea with the purpose of visiting the underground facility at Kumchang-ni. The visit took place on an exceptional basis at the invitation of the DPRK. The U.S. team consisted of fourteen members, including relevant technical experts. After initial consultations with the DPRK authorities, the team began its visit to the site at Kumchang-ni on May 20. The visit was completed the evening of May 22. After reviewing data gathered from the visit with the DPRK authorities, the U.S. delegation departed the DPRK on May 24.
Throughout the visit, the DPRK provided the U.S. delegation with good cooperation. The U.S. delegation was permitted to conduct all activities previously agreed to under the March 16, 1999 U.S.-DPRK agreement which permitted the U.S. access to the site at Kumchang-ni. Those activities included measuring the dimensions of all underground areas at the main complex, videotaping those areas, and photographing agreed above-ground facilities supporting the site at Kumchang-ni.
Of particular importance, the DPRK allowed the delegation to conduct the visit "in the manner the U.S. deemed necessary," as agreed in March between the two sides, to help remove suspicions about the site. After an initial orientation tour of the underground areas provided by the local official in charge, the U.S. delegation spent the next two days underground in order to ensure that it covered all the underground areas. The U.S. delegation criss-crossed those areas a number of times at a pace and according to a plan determined by the delegation, in consultation with the DPRK. The U.S. delegation saw no evidence of DPRK efforts to conceal any portion of the facility.
At the site, the U.S. delegation viewed a large underground tunnel complex. Excavation of the complex, as currently configured, was almost complete but a great deal of additional finishing work remained to be done with almost all of the tunnels still bare rock. Moreover, there was no indication that equipment was ever installed at this location. In addition, the delegation visited above-ground installations -- dams under construction, the electric substation, as well as various utility buildings and construction support facilities.
Based on the evidence gathered by the U.S. delegation and a subsequent review of that evidence by U.S. technical experts, we have reached the following conclusions about the underground site at Kumchang-ni.
The site at Kumchang-ni does not contain a plutonium production reactor or reprocessing plant, either completed or under construction.
Given the current size and configuration of the underground area, the site is unsuitable for the installation of a plutonium production reactor, especially a graphite-moderated reactor of the type North Korea has built at Yongbyon.
The site is also not well designed for a reprocessing plant. Nevertheless, since the site is a large underground area, it could support such a facility in the future with substantial modifications.
At this point in time the U.S. cannot rule out the possibility that the site was intended for other nuclear-related uses although it does not appear to be currently configured to support any large industrial nuclear functions.
Based on the data gathered by the U.S. delegation and the subsequent technical review, the U.S. has concluded that, at present, the underground site at Kumchang-ni does not violate the 1994 U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework. New construction of graphite-moderated reactors and related facilities in the DPRK would be a violation of the Framework.
The U.S. expressed its appreciation to the DPRK for its cooperation on this matter. As agreed between the U.S. and DPRK in the March 16 document, the next U.S. visit to the site at Kumchang-ni will take place in May 2000 and will include examining its feasibility for commercial use.
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