This Day in International Law: North Korea and the US Sign Agreed Framework

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By: Jon Woodmansee

On October 21, 1994, North Korea and the United States signed the Agreed Framework, a deal aiming to freeze the North Korean nuclear program. In return for freezing development of nuclear reactors, the United States promised to establish proliferation resistant power reactors and provide North Korea with the fuel necessary to run these reactors. This deal was the culmination of a months-long crisis. The United States was scrambling to sign a deal with North Korea after it announced its departure from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. This deal established the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization. This organization included many regional countries and aimed to reduce nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula. Member nations included Japan, South Korea, Australia and the United States.

The Agreed Framework would ultimately fail and lead to an ever-worsening North Korean nuclear scenario. Was this failure destined to happen or were there initiatives that the United States and regional powers could have taken to bolster the efficiency of the Framework? Many defense experts still debate about the lessons to be learned from the Framework and how it may apply to present issues, including the ongoing North Korean nuclear crisis, but also deals with nuclear ambitious countries, such as Iran.

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