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Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

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North Korea withdrew from the NTP in 2003 on the grounds that USA had not met its obligations under the 1994 Agreed Framework and had not supplied it with light water reactors to meet its legitimate energy needs. After it tested a nuclear device in 2006 economic sanctions were imposed by the UNSC. However, the March 2006 deal that the USA signed with India that is developing nuclear weapons and its attitude with Israel gives legitimacy to the actions taken by North Korea.

The relevant section of the NTP that applies to North Korea is Article X of the treaty. On the 10th of January 2003 North Korea decided to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. According to Article X of the treaty the withdrawal would come into effect three months after the declaration. However, the North Korean officials insisted that the withdrawal was effective immediately. Under the NPT countries like North Korea that did not have nuclear weapons had agreed not to develop nuclear weapons nor would they endeavor to procure nuclear weapons. In return those countries that already possessed these weapons would disarm and not give weapons to other states(United States Mission-Geneva 2002).

The point of view of North Korea is that it should be supplied with light water reactors to replace its local nuclear power plant program. This was included in the 1994 agreed framework but was now not being honored. After the 2003 pullout by North Korea several six-party talks were hosted by China to resolve the situation but to no avail. The agreed framework had clearly mentioned that by the year 2003 the USA would supply light water reactor plants that would replace graphite-moderated nuclear power plants and oil for heating and electricity production would be supplied while reactors were shut down until the achievement of production from light water plants.

The October 9, 2006 detonation of a nuclear device by North Korea had an explosive power of less than one kiloton. There are reports that the yield of explosion was smaller than expected. Action can be taken against North Korea under Chapter VII, Article 41 of the United Nations Charter and this was supported by USA, UK, Japan and France. On October 14, 2004 sanctions were finally imposed against North Korea.

India, Pakistan and Israel have refused to sign the NPT. Of the three India and Pakistan have carried out nuclear tests and the Israeli Prime Minister has indirectly indicated that his country has nuclear weapons. In case of India, the rationale given for nuclear power is that India has energy needs for such power and in March 2006, USA and India signed a deal by which the USA will supply India with US civilian nuclear technology. However, no such deal was signed with Pakistan because the USA felt that it did not have such high energy requirements and that it was one of the nuclear proliferators.

The agreement of USA with India brings into focus the legitimacy of North Korean requirement. North Korea also needed energy for peaceful purposes and had the Agreed Framework with the USA since 1994. Why did the USA not honor this framework and then proceeded to sign a treaty with India. The 2006 treaty of USA with India provides legitimacy to the claims and demands of North Korea (Malhotra. I, 2006).

The position of North Korea gains legitimacy from the actions of the UNSC. After their nuclear tests in 1998 there were economic sanctions that were approved against India and Pakistan but the sanctions were abandoned. Even though Israel is developing nuclear weapons there are no sanctions against Israel. Then, what is the legitimacy in imposing sanctions against North Korea?

To sum, North Korea withdrew from the NPT in January 2003. It claimed that it was withdrawing because it had energy needs and it publicly carried out nuclear weapons tests. It puts the blame for its withdrawal on the USA because it did not meet its commitments under the 1994 Agreed Framework. The current actions of the US with regards to the deal with India in 2006 and its attitude towards Israel provide legitimacy to North Korean claims.


United States Mission-Geneva (2002) Press Releases 2002, Retrieved on February 14, 2007 from: http://www.usmission.ch/press2002/0124boltonpress.htm

Malhotra. I, (2006) Now, a nuclear North Korea, Retrieved on February 14, 2007 from: http://www.centralchronicle.com/20061013/1310301.htm

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