2005: Shedding More Light on DPRK Nuclear Program and Policy Goals

Hinge Points: An Inside Look at North Korea’s Nuclear Program


Men in suit and ties posing for photo with lush drapes in the backdrop

Dates: August 23-27, 2005.

In August 2005, Hecker made his second trip to North Korea as part of the Stanford delegation led by John Lewis. This time, the Stanford team included John Lewis, Siegfried Hecker, and Charles “Jack” Pritchard.

Hecker arrived with a long list of questions to DPRK nuclear specialists. Hecker was told he would not be able to visit Yongbyon because reprocessing operations were in progress, but the hosts arranged for a discussion with Director of Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Facility Ri Hong Sop who provided “straight answers” to Hecker’s most important technical questions. Discussions with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosts made clear the message they wanted to convey to Washington: If the United States will provide the North the LWR (light water reactor), the North will give up its nuclear weapons capacity. Summed up by Vice Minister Kim Gye Gwan,

“No LWR, no deal”.

Meeting with officials from Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center notes.

Notes summarizing the statements of MFA officials

Soon after the return to the U.S., Lewis and Hecker presented their findings to Secretary of State Rice and other Department of State officials. Hecker argued that if North Korea was prepared to give up its nuclear weapons and its program, agreeing to an LWR sometimes in the future was worth the risk.

Briefing for Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State, Sept. 8, 2005

2005: Seeking a comprehensive approach to the nuclear issue

For Hecker, many additional meetings in North Korea outside of the nuclear issue agenda helped to “fill in the huge blank spots” he had about the country. These visits and meetings made him “realize how wrong a lot of the conventional wisdom was about North Korea.”

2005 Soldiers marching and red carpet laid out for VIP meeting at airport

2005 Red Carpet at Pyongyang airport. Could it be for us? It turned out that it was for the vice president of Zambia and his entourage who were on the same flight.

North Korean officials and the American delegation at a meeting in 2005

Dr. Ri Hong Sop, director of the Yongbyon Nuclear Center, met with us in a Potonggang Hotel conference room.

Man in suit and tie drinking water from a glass

Yongbyon Director Ri Hong Sop

Group of North Korean officials and the American delegation at a meeting in 2006

“We are not able to have you come to Yongbyon this time …because it’s not safe for you to visit.” Yongbyon Director Ri Hong Sop (center) meeting in Pyongyang.

Group of North Korean hosts and Americans at a meeting in Aug. 2005

Meeting with officials from the DPRK Academy of Sciences at the Potonggang Hotel in August 2005.

Group of three Americans and two North Korean hosts in Aug. 2005

Friendly reception by Yang Hyong Sop – Vice President, Presidium of Supreme People’s Assembly. Hecker, Lewis, Yang, Pritchard, and Kim Gye Gwan.

Three Americans and North Korean host in front of memorial to the birthplace of Kim Il Sung

During a visit to Myongyongdae, the birthplace and childhood home of Kim Il Sung. Pritchard, Lewis, Li Gun of DPRK Foreign Ministry, and Hecker. Aug. 2005.

Three Americans and a North Korean host at a meeting in Aug. 2005

Meeting with officials from the DPRK Committee for the Promotion of International Trade (CPIT). Pritchard, Hecker, Jon Ki Man, Vice President, CPIT, and Lewis.

Two North Korean military officers with three Americans in front of a landscape painting

Meeting with Korean People’s Army Colonel General Ri Chan Bok (center) and KPA Colonel Ri Jong Sop.

Five men in front of a building

American delegation in front of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences (AAS) with North Korean hosts.

Man walking along a newly planted alley with some greenhouses on the sides

Lewis walking on the grounds of the Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

A green field

Crops at Chigol, agricultural cooperative farm in the outskirts of Pyongyang.

Administrative building with a mosaic of men standing in a field and a green lawn in front

Chilgol Cooperative Farm. Administrative building with an art feature in front.

2006 8

At Chilgol Cooperative Farm.

A sculpture of winged horses in front of an entrance to a public building

In front of Mangyongdae Students’ and Children’s Palace, Pyongyang.

Bedecked girls in Korean traditional attire performing a dance on stage

“We saw impressive musical and dance performances by talented children at the Mangyongdae Students’ and Children’s Palace”.


Three girls in festive white tops and blue skirts performing on a Korea folk string instrument

Girls performing on Kayagŭm, Korean traditional zither, at the Mangyongdae Students’ and Children’s Palace.

Thousands of brightly dressed dancers performing a complex mass choreography

The Arirang Festival at the 114,000-seat Rungrado 1st of May Stadium, an impressive mass gymnastics and artistic performance that involves some 100,000 performers.

Thousands of brightly dressed dancers performing a complex mass choreography

Complex mass choreography at the Arirang Festival.

Mass choreography doing headstands and back flips

More variations of mass choreography with the ever changing pictorial backdrop at the Arirang Festival.

Group photo of people at a table toasting.

Lewis, Hecker and Pritchard at dinner with VM Kim Gye Gwan and Ms. Choe Son Hui


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