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North Korea to Get Almost $2B in Benefits from Nuclear Deal

By Jim Mann
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON

The Clinton administration revealed Thursday that under the agreement it recently signed with North Korea, the Pyongyang government will get nearly $2 billion in benefits before it has to submit to special international inspections of its nuclear program.

South Korea will contribute most of the money by supplying the equipment for new nuclear reactors which make it much harder for North Korea to make weapons-grade fuel. However, Ambassador-at-large Robert Gallucci, the Clinton administration's top negotiator, also estimated that the costs to the United States will be "tens of millions of dollars."

The disclosures came at the first congressional hearing on the nuclear agreement. During the session, held by the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Asia, Republicans voiced considerable unhappiness about the deal the administration signed in Geneva in October.

"We seem to be giving up, virtually, on every front," complained Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska. He argued that the financial benefits North Korea are to receive will serve to "prop up" the impoverished Pyongyang government, so that it will be less susceptible to the threat of international economic sanctions.

The Clinton administration began negotiating with North Korea last year, after it refused to submit to the International Atomic Energy Agency's demand to carry out special inspections of two waste sites. Those inspections could show how much weapons-grade fuel North Korea produced in the past.

Under the deal, North Korea does not have to submit to the special inspections for approximately five years - until after "a significant portion" of the work is finished for the new nuclear reactors. Gallucci said that work was worth nearly $2 billion. North Korea will not get any of the key components for the reactors, however, until the special inspections are carried out.