NAPSNet Daily Report 02 June, 1999

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"NAPSNet Daily Report 02 June, 1999", NAPSNet Daily Report, June 02, 1999, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-02-june-1999/

IN TODAY’S REPORT:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

III. People’s Republic of China

IV. Discussion

I. United States

1. DPRK-ROK Relations

Reuters (“TWO KOREAS TO SIGN PACT IN BEIJING TO RESUME TALKS,” Seoul, 06/02/99) reported that ROK Unification Ministry Spokesman Shin Eun-sang said that DPRK Vice Minister Jon Kum-chol, counselor of the DPRK cabinet, and Kim Bo-hyun, special aide to ROK Prime Minister Kim Jong-pil, would meet in Beijing on Wednesday to sign an agreement. Shin did not indicate what the agreement was about. An unnamed official from another ministry said that the agreement was on resuming bilateral talks between the two Koreas.

Reuters (Jean Yoon, “S.KOREA TRYING FOR TALKS WITH NORTH,” Seoul, 06/02/99) reported that the ROK government said on Wednesday that it was trying to resume bilateral talks with the DPRK in Beijing about aid and other issues, but the DPRK had yet to agree to a meeting. The ROK Unification Ministry issued a statement saying the government was having “unofficial contacts” with the DPRK at the vice-ministerial level in Beijing. The statement said, “At this minute, negotiations continue. When they will conclude is not yet known.” An ROK ministry spokesman said earlier that the DPRK did not show for a meeting on Wednesday in Beijing to sign an agreement on holding the talks. He said, “We were notified (by the ROK delegation) that the North Koreans did not show up. We don’t know why, but it doesn’t look like we are going to sign the agreement today (Wednesday).”

The Associated Press (Sang-hun Choe, “KOREAS NEAR AGREEMENT ON TALKS,” Seoul, 06/02/99) reported that Shin Eun-sang, a spokesman for the ROK Unification Ministry, said that the two Koreas are close to an agreement to resume official talks. Shin said, “Their talks are in their final stages,” without giving further details. Topics on the agenda will include negotiations on food and fertilizer for the DPRK and the reunions of separated families.

2. DPRK-PRC Relations

The Associated Press (“N. KOREA SEEKS TO MEND FRAYED RELATIONS WITH CHINA,” Seoul, 06/02/99) reported that Kim Young-nam, head of the presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly, was to depart for Beijing on Thursday to try to mend relations with the PRC. The five-day trip by Kim caps a year of effort by both countries to restore relations to their pre-1992 level. The DPRK has already agreed to increase high-level visits from once a year to twice a year, once in Beijing and once in Pyongyang. ROK government officials said that if Kim’s visit is successful, PRC Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan is likely to visit the DPRK later this year. Kim is expected to be accompanied by up to 50 officials, including Prime Minister Hong Song-nam and Foreign Minister Paik Nam-sun.

3. DPRK Defector

The Associated Press (“EX-N.KOREAN SOCCER COACH DEFECTS,” Seoul, 06/02/99) quoted Yonhap news agency on Wednesday as saying that, according to the ROK National Intelligence Service, Yoon Myong-chan, the DPRK’s former national soccer team coach from 1990-1994, has escaped the DPRK and arrived in the ROK to seek asylum. Yoon left the DPRK last July and arrived in the ROK in April, 1999. Yonhap news agency said Yoon coached the DPRK soccer team when the two Koreas held soccer matches in their respective capitals in 1990.

4. DPRK Famine

Reuters (Chris Johnson, “NORTH KOREAN FAMINE EASING, AID AGENCY SAYS,” Bangkok, 06/02/99) reported that Wattanapong Santatiwat, World Vision vice president for the Asia Pacific, on Tuesday said that international aid has brought some “genuine improvement” to the DPRK. However, Wattanapong said that although there were now fewer signs of the acute malnutrition in the cities or rural areas than 18 months ago, the DPRK still needs international aid. Wattanapong said, “Children are still in need. Traveling along the roads, you can still see people in a much, much worse condition than can be seen in many of the other countries we work in. I don’t think they can yet fully help themselves.” Wattanapong also said the fate of the DPRK this winter would hang on this year’s rice crop now being planted. Wattanapong stated, “If the harvest is a success there can be another improvement.”

5. ROK Views on DPRK

Reuters (Bill Tarrant, “N.KOREA AT CROSSROADS AFTER PERRY’S VISIT,” Seoul, 05/31/99) reported that ROK analysts said that US presidential envoy William Perry’s visit to the DPRK has put the DPRK into a dilemma. Park Yong-ho at the Korea Institute of National Unification said, “North Korea’s at a crossroads. Their first priority is to maintain Kim Jong-il’s system. They need economic benefits from the U.S., South Korea and the West, but only if doesn’t endanger their system.” Park also said that the DPRK would probably counter with a piecemeal approach of negotiating incremental changes. Yu Suk-rul at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security in Seoul agreed with Park’s point of view. Yu said that he thought the DPRK has already decided that it cannot accept the comprehensive approach, adding, “The status quo is much better, even though it has fewer economic benefits. Once they open up society, it poses a serious challenge from inside to Kim Jong-il’s system.”

6. US Views on DPRK

The New York Times carried an editorial (“A NEW APPROACH TO NORTH KOREA,” 06/02/99) which argued that the DPRK can improve relations with the US by responding positively to the offer US envoy William Perry delivered last week. The editorial said that the US will lift economic sanctions and begin steps toward diplomatic recognition of the DPRK only if the DPRK commits itself to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions and long-range missile programs. The editorial also argued that the US is right to coordinate its policies with the ROK’s policies by also offering better ties. [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for June 2.]

7. DPRK View of US

Reuters (Bill Tarrant, “N.KOREA AT CROSSROADS AFTER PERRY’S VISIT,” Seoul, 05/31/99) reported that the DPRK’s official party-run daily Rodong Shinmun in a Sunday editorial denounced the US as being “imperialists” for planning “pre-emptive strikes” against the DPRK. The editorial said, “The U.S. imperialists have already worked out a timetable for a nuclear war against the DPRK … and are waiting for a chance to train the fuse of a war.” It also said that NATO strikes against Yugoslavia are “a test war, a preliminary war to verify the effectiveness and feasibility” of the plan.

8. PRC Missile Test

Reuters (“CHINA TO TEST SUBMARINE-LAUNCHED BALLISTIC MISSILE,” Beijing, 06/02/99) reported that the PRC’s state-run Weekly Digest said that the PRC plans to test a submarine-launched ballistic missile, Julang II, this year. According to the Weekly Digest, the missile, Julang II, which is an upgraded version of the Julang I and has a range of 8,000 km (5,000 miles), would first be launched from a conventional submarine and then from a “Summer” class nuclear sub.

9. Cox Committee Report

The Los Angeles Times carried an analytical article by Robert S. Norris, military analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council (“A HABIT OF DISTRUST,” Washington, 05/30/99) which argued that the PRC’s technical advances have been most likely made on the basis of a variety of sources. The article listed quoted the Central Intelligence Agency’s April 21 damage assessment as attributing the development to “classified and unclassified information derived from espionage, contact with US and other countries’ scientists, conferences and publications, unauthorized media disclosures, declassified weapons information and Chinese indigenous development.” Norris asserted that although the Cox report makes it seem as though everything the PRC government may have learned came from spying, a wide range of information on technologies that are useful to the PRC as well as other audiences is available in the public domain. Norris said, “It is somewhat arrogant, especially after the Iraqi experience, to believe other nations’ scientists are incapable of building weapons of mass destruction. Unless interrupted for some reason, every nation that has set out to build a nuclear weapon has succeeded…. The tricks Chinese may or may not have learned from us about how to make a missile warhead lighter and more compact have been ‘discovered’ by other nuclear powers. Chinese are traversing paths others have taken and would have eventually discovered the ‘tricks’ on their own, given enough time and effort.” Norris also pointed out that the Cox report is silent on the composition and character of the PRC’s nuclear forces. Norris stated, “Chinese missiles take 24 hours to fuel and prepare for firing, carry one warhead, may not be reliable and are not that accurate. China has one ballistic-missile submarine; the U.S. has 18. China’s submarine has never ventured beyond its regional waters and is basically too unsafe to operate.” Norris said that the Cox report’s suggestion that the PRC weapons are “on a par with our own” of US weapons is “absurd.” Norris concludes that it is “hardly surprising” for the PRC, which was initially spurred to obtain nuclear weapons after several atomic threats by the US during the Korean War and other Asian crises in the 1950s, to value nuclear weapons when the US and Russia continue to value nuclear weapons as well.

10. US Missile Defense

The Associated Press (Tom Raum, “NUKE TREATY REMAINS IN SENATE LIMBO,” Washington, 06/02/99) reported that arms-control advocates in the US Congress suggested that if the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is ratified, it would be harder for the PRC to take its acquired nuclear-weapons technology to the next level. However Jesse Helms, a North Carolina Republican and chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, first wants the US administration to send the Senate modifications of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Moscow. US Senator Bob Kerrey, Nebraska Democrat, said, “I suggest we may be losing touch with reality. We are keeping more weapons in our arsenal than we need, and forcing the Russians to keep more in theirs than they can control.” US Senator Byron Dorgan, South Dakota Democrat, said he and other CTBT supporters will work in the coming days “to speak with some aggressiveness on this issue on the floor of the Senate” in hopes of prompting a vote.

II. Republic of Korea

1. DPRK-ROK Talks

Chosun Ilbo (Jee Hae-bom “SECRET TALKS IN PROGRESS IN BEJING,” Seoul, 06/01/99) and Joongang Ilbo (Bong Hwashik, “SOUTH-NORTH KOREA TALKS TO BE RESUMED IN BEIJING,” Seoul, 06/01/99) reported on Tuesday that the ROK Ministry of Unification (MOU) is reportedly holding secret talks in Beijing with their DPRK counterparts. The report said that ROK Vice Unification Minister Yang Young-shik and Jon Kum-chol, a DPRK vice minister-level official, are expected to represent each side as the chief delegates in inter-Korean talks taking place in Beijing. An unnamed source said, “U.S. envoy William Perry’s visit to Pyongyang last week indicated a more positive environment for talks at prime ministerial level. This marks a change from the past.”

Chosun Ilbo (Kim In-ku, “BEIJING CONTACTS HIT STALEMATE,” Seoul, 06/02/99) reported on Wednesday that the closed contacts between the DPRK and the ROK in Beijing have reached a stalemate. A government source said that the DPRK officials attended the meeting, but did not sign the document, despite both sides agreeing in principle. The ROK officials said that the DPRK refused to sign because the content of the talks were leaked to the ROK media before the DPRK handed down a final decision.

Joongang Ilbo carried an editorial (“PROSPECT OF INTER-KOREA TALKS,” Seoul, 06/02/99) which said that before talks are held between the two Koreas, humble reflection should be made on the failure of the last meeting. The editorial pointed out that the reason for the failure of the last meeting was because the ROK insistence on a reciprocal arrangement for the unification of divided families was inflexible. The editorial said, “We should also remember that providing fertilizer to the North is fundamentally for humanitarian ends, and we should not seek to gain from this. The issue of fertilizer aid should not be seen as a bargaining-stick with which to achieve other ends.” The editorial added that the DPRK should also show that it enters the talks with sincerity, “The South Korean public becomes angry at the impression that, while the South gives aid to the Pyongyang region, the North refuses to behave with manners at the talk table.” The editorial concluded that the inter-Korean talks must not be used for political reasons, but for genuine stated ends.

2. DPRK-PRC Relations

Joongang Ilbo (Bong Hwashik, “CHINESE LEADERS MAY VISIT NORTH KOREA,” Seoul, 06/02/99) reported that the DPRK will apparently invite top PRC leaders to Pyongyang. An unnamed source from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said on Wednesday, “During his five day stay in Beijing, Kim Young-nam will meet with the Chinese president Jiang Zemin and the former prime minister Li Peng, and possibly suggest a state visit to Pyongyang, as there has been no summit-level visit between the two countries for seven years.”

3. ROK Aid to DPRK

Chosun Ilbo (Kim Dong-han, “BUSINESS COERCED INTO MAKING W10 BIL. NK DONATION,” Seoul, 06/02/99) and Joongang Ilbo (Kang Jooan, “BUSINESS WORLD TO COLLECT 8 BILLION WON FOR NK FERTILIZER SUPPORT,” Seoul, 06/02/99) reported on Wednesday that the chaebols (business conglomerates) have decided to comply with a government order that they contribute W10 billion to raise a total of W30 billion toward the cost of donating 50,000 tons of fertilizer to the DPRK. Vice-Chairman of the Federation of Korea Industries (FKI) Son Byung-doo said, “I will make efforts to collect contributions totaling 8 billion won in order to provide fertilizer support for North Korea, as requested by the Republic of Korea National Red Cross, by June 14.” Son rejected suggestions that public officials were under pressure from conglomerates keen to expand into the DPRK. The opposition Grand National Party (GNP) said that the government’s pressure on the private sector to provide W10 billion is another example of the problems created by the current administration’s pursuit of its sunshine policy.

4. DPRK Defector

Chosun Ilbo (Kim In-ku, “EX-NK SOCCER TEAM MANAGER DEFECTS TO SOUTH,” Seoul, 06/02/99) reported that Yoon Myung-chan, who managed the DPRK national soccer team in the early 90s, has defected to the ROK. Yoon managed the DPRK national soccer team that played in pro-unification matches held both in Seoul and Pyongyang in October 1990. Yoon fled the DPRK last August to a third country, and defected to the ROK in April. Yoon served as manager of the DPRK national team from 1990-1994, but was demoted to the position of a laborer at a sports equipment manufacturer in Pyongyang after coming into conflict with his superiors. Yoon is the second DPRK athlete to defect to the ROK.

5. ROK-DPRK-Russia Fishing Grounds

Chosun Ilbo (Lee Kwon-hoi, “FISHING GROUNDS TO EXTEND NORTH,” Seoul, 06/01/99) reported that the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MOMAF) announced Tuesday that it is planning to extend its voluntary fishing restriction line 15 miles to the north in the East Sea near to Exclusive Economic Zone borders with the DPRK and Russia. MOMAF will first consult with the Ministries of Defense, and Foreign Affairs and Trade on matters of safety and diplomatic protocol.

6. DPRK Students Applying to US Schools

Chosun Ilbo (Sung In-bae, “NK WOMEN APPLY FOR US MBAS,” Seoul, 06/02/99) reported that according to the Wall Street Journal, eight DPRK women have applied to take the Graduate Management Admissions Test to gain admission to Masters of Business Administration courses in the US.

7. Hyundai-DPRK Economic Cooperation

The Korea Herald (Kim Ji-ho, “HYUNDAI, N.K. TO DISCUSS EXPANSION OF MT. KUMGANG TOUR THIS MONTH,” Seoul, 06/02/99) reported that the Hyundai Group and the DPRK will meet in Beijing this month to discuss expanding the Mt. Kumgang tour business. Kim Young-soo, a manager at Hyundai Asan Corporation, said, “North Korea almost agreed on the expansion plan during our meeting in Pyongyang last month. The forthcoming meeting is for receiving official documents guaranteeing the agreement from the North.” The business expansion plan calls for, among other things, allowing foreign tourists to join the tour, building a large hotel near Changjon Port, and a beach resort complex. Kim added, “Although the North is dragging its feet in issuing the written guarantee, the government expects Pyongyang to keep its word at the upcoming meeting.”

Joongang Ilbo (Shim Shang-bok, “ANOTHER POSSIBLE CONFLICT BETWEEN HYUNDAI AND NK,” Seoul, 05/31/99) reported that an unnamed official said another conflict may occur between Hyundai Group and the DPRK, as the DPRK failed to keep its promise regarding the Mt. Kumgang development plan. In January the DPRK reportedly promised to deliver a document to Hyundai by May guaranteeing exclusive development rights on Mount Kumgang, but Hyundai has not yet received the document. The official said, “This could become a hurdle in the Hyundai’s Mt. Kumgang tour business. We are awaiting the results of the upcoming negotiations between the two sides.”

III. People’s Republic of China

1. Perry’s Visit to DPRK

China Daily (“ROK HAILS PERRY’S VISIT TO DPRK,” Seoul, 5/31/99, A11) reported that the ROK on May 30 hailed the trip by US envoy William Perry to the DPRK as setting the stage for new peace talks. “Perry’s visit created a chance for talks on drawing up a framework for peace on the Korean Peninsula,” ROK Foreign Minister Hong Soon- Young told ROK journalists in Moscow. However Hong, who is accompanying President Kim Dae-jung on his state visit to Russia and Mongolia, warned against drawing hasty conclusions from Perry’s four-day visit to the DPRK.

People’s Daily (“PERRY: VISIT REACHES EXPECTED AIMS,” 6/1/99, A6) reported that after a four-day visit to the DPRK, US envoy William Perry said on May 30 in Seoul that his visit has accomplished his expected aims. At a press conference in Seoul, Perry said that he has clearly conveyed US, Japanese, and ROK leaders’ views on Korean Peninsula issues to Kim Jong-il through high-level DPRK officials. The DPRK side reiterated that it will abide by the DPRK-US joint statement, the Geneva Agreement, and its dialogue position on the Four-party talks. Perry said he will submit a report on DPRK policy to the US Government in several weeks on the basis of the achievements of this visit.

2. ROK President’s Visit to Russia, Mongolia

People’s Daily (“RUSSIA, ROK ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT,” Beijing, 5/29/99, A3) reported that Russia and the ROK issued a joint statement after their presidents’ summit on May 28. The joint statement said that strengthening the reciprocal and constructive partnership between Russia and the ROK is an established policy of the two countries. According to the statement, the two countries welcome the initiative of establishing a multilateral negotiation mechanism participated by the ROK, the DPRK, Russia, the PRC, the US, and Japan to safeguard Northeast Asian security. The two countries believe that that mechanism and the operating mechanism of the four-party talks participated in by the US, the ROK, the DPRK, and the PRC can simultaneously play a role in Korean Peninsula issues. The two countries also said that they support the process of realizing the non-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. On this issue, related parties should cooperate constructively with International Atomic Energy Agency and implement their commitments to the agency, the statement said.

People’s Daily (“ROK, MONGOLIAN PRESIDENTS HAVE TALKS,” 6/1/99, A6) reported that the Mongolian President met his ROK counterpart Kim Dae-jung on May 31. The two sides expressed that they will push forward the two countries’ relationship onto a new stage. The Mongolian President said that Kim’s visit to Mongolia is a historical incident that will lay a foundation for the two countries to establish a 21st century-geared relationship and develop cooperatively. Mongolia will comprehensively develop its relations with the ROK in all fields, the president said.

3. ROK Attitude to TMD

People’s Daily (“ROK NOT JOINT TMD SYSTEM,” Moscow, 5/28/99, A6) reported that in an interview just before ROK President Kim Dae-jung’s visit to Russia, he expressed that his country will not join the theater missile defense (TMD) system that the US and Japan are seeking to develop. According to a report in a Russia newspaper on May 27, Kim said that developing missile defense system should consider regional interests of the whole Northeast Asia and should not cause misunderstandings of the countries in this region.

4. PRC Response to Cox Report

China Daily (“WTO BID STANCE STAYS CONSISTENT,” 5/28/99, A1) reported that PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said at a regular news briefing on May 27 that the PRC does not have a policy of “stealing” technology from other countries and also has never “stolen” any nuclear secrets from any country. “The allegation in the Cox Report is a complete and fabricated lie, the charges are made for certain political motives and the purpose is to defame China, incite the anti-China mood and undermine Sino-US relations,” said Zhu. “We urge the US administration to give clear opposition to it and to take practical measures to eliminate the odious influence of the report,” he added.

People’s Daily (“A FARCE TO INSTIGATE ANTI-CHINA FEELINGS,” Beijing, 6/1/99, A4) reported that Minister Zhao Qizheng, Director of the Information Office of the PRC State Council, said at a press conference on May 31 in Beijing that the “Cox Report” is a farce to instigate anti-China feelings and undermine Sino-US relations. Zhao pointed out that the report claims that the PRC “employs all types of people, organizations and collection operations to acquire sensitive technology.” “This is a great slander against the Chinese nation and people, and is typical racial prejudice,” said Zhao. Between 1964 and 1970, under a US blockade, China successfully launched its first surface-to-surface missile, its own earth satellite and exploded its first atom bomb and H-bomb, Zhao pointed out. The Cox Report, turning a blind eye to these facts, has tried its best to belittle and deny the Chinese people’s innovative capacity in developing their own defense technology, said Zhao. The report, offering no substantive evidence but full of terms of conjecture such as “seemingly,” “presumably,” “if,” “probably” and “perhaps in the future,” claims that China’s “theft” threatened US national security, Zhao said, adding, “This is utterly absurd.” Zhao noted that the performance data on the seven types of nuclear warheads are now available in publications and on the Internet. The minister also refuted the report’s allegation that China had “acquired” US missile guidance technology through commercial launches to promote the development of its own missiles. Commercial satellite launches require only an economic and rational guidance system with moderate precision, instead of the high-precision guidance system needed for ballistic missile, Zhao said. “It is understandable if it is a non-professional who is saying the precision of the missile guidance system can be improved through commercial launches, but it is very surprising such a statement comes from the so-called investigation report of the Special Committee of the US Congress,” said Zhao. According to Zhao, China launches the US satellites strictly in accordance with the agreement between the two governments and the security of US-made satellites was under the strict 24-hour control of the US side. The Cox Report, Zhao said, published shortly after the US-led NATO’s missile attack on the PRC Embassy in Belgrade, is aimed at diverting public attention, fanning anti- China feelings, defaming the PRC’s image and trying to hold back Sino-US relations so as to stop the PRC’s development.

5. PRC-US Relations

China Daily (“NATION OPPOSES US CONGRESSIONAL RESOLUTIONS,” 5/31/99, A1) reported that a leading official of the PRC National People’s Congress (NPC) Foreign Affairs Committee said in a statement on May 30 that the PRC firmly opposes using the human rights issue to impose pressure on other countries, and any attempts to use the pretext of human rights to interfere in China’s internal affairs are doomed to fail. The statement said that the US House of Representatives and Senate adopted anti-China resolutions on May 25 and 27, based on the excuse of the so-called “10th anniversary of the June 4 Incident” to wantonly distort historical facts, to attack the PRC’s human rights conditions, and to incite a new anti-China wave by referring to an incident about which a final conclusion has long been made. According to the statement, it was an attempt to undermine the PRC’s stability, and to obstruct development of Sino-US relations.

6. PRC Accession to WTO

China Daily (“WTO BID STANCE STAYS CONSISTENT,” 5/28/99, A1) reported that PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said in Beijing on May 27 that the PRC’s stance and attitudes on its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) are not changed. “China insists on the balance of rights and obligations: as a developing country, China can only assume the obligation commensurate with its national power,” said Zhu at a regular news briefing. In the letters, some congress members urged Clinton to suspend talks on the PRC’s entry into WTO. Without the PRC’s participation in WTO, the organization is not complete, said Zhu, adding that China’s accession to WTO will not only benefit the organization itself, but also the development of world trade. However, “China will never sacrifice its basic interests in order to take part in WTO,” he added. The spokesman made the remarks when commenting on the letters written by some US congress members to US President Bill Clinton after the House of Representatives Committee headed by Republican Christopher Cox issued its report on May 25.

IV. Discussion

1. How To End North Korea’s Missile Program By Leon V. Sigal

[Ed. note: Leon V. Sigal, a consultant at the Social Science Research Council, is the author of “Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea.” This essay was originally issued by the Global Beat Syndicate, and is available on their website at: http://www.nyu.edu/globalbeat/syndicate ]

NEW YORK — Last week’s visit to Pyongyang by former Secretary of Defense William Perry marks the end of cold war confrontation in Korea and the start of reconciliation between former foes. Most important, the visit opens the way for North Korea to trade in its ballistic missile program for political and economic engagement with the United States.

Some members of Congress want to impede engagement in the misguided belief that the way to get the North Koreans to abandon their nuclear ambitions is to demonize them as outlaws and force them to disarm. But a crime-and- punishment approach will not succeed.

The United States has four main objectives: * Assure that, whatever happens internally in North Korea, the artillery Pyongyang has placed within range of Seoul is never fired in anger; * Prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear arms; * Keep North Korea from developing, testing, deploying and selling any more medium- or long-range ballistic missiles; * Promote reconciliation between the two Koreas and the peaceful reunification of the peninsula.

The only way to achieve these goals is to test whether North Korea is willing to cooperate. Coercion will not work. In fact, it is likely to encourage exactly the opposite behavior that the United States seeks to encourage.

Some in Congress think it’s in nation’s interest to encourage North Korea’s collapse. But this course is too risky, especially if the first three objectives have not been achieved. Even benign neglect could turn out not to be very benign.

Others want to condition U.S. aid on change or reform in North Korea. Yet change will come when North Korea lets in more outsiders, who bring with them advice and assistance. Again, this can happen only with Pyongyang’s cooperation.

There is significant evidence that Pyongyang wants to cooperate. If, as most people in Washington believed, North Korea had been determined to acquire nuclear arms in the early 1990s, it could have shut down its nuclear reactor and quickly reprocessed the spent fuel to extract plutonium, the explosive ingredient in bombs.

But it did not reprocess any spent fuel. Neither did it shut down its reactor until May 1994, long after it was expected to do so. Even then, it allowed international inspectors to verify the procedure. That was a strange way to acquire nuclear arms. It suggests that, starting in 1991, North Korea was restraining itself somewhat in the hopes of concluding a nuclear deal with the United States.

Similarly, if North Korea is determined to develop, deploy and export longer-range ballistic missiles, as some in Congress believe, it should have been testing and perfecting its No Dong, Taepo Dong-I and Taepo Dong-II missiles for several years.

Yet the North did not conduct any tests from May 23, 1993 until August 31, 1998. Again, that is a strange way to develop new missiles. It suggests that North Korea is restraining itself somewhat in the hopes of concluding a missile deal with the United States. Pyongyang has been expressing interest in such a deal since 1992.

Why is North Korea showing self-restraint? There is no way to know for sure, but it may want the United States to assure its security against a South Korea it fears, a Japan it hates, and a China it distrusts. What better way to restrain South Korea and Japan and have a counterweight to China than to cooperate with the United States?

While security remains its paramount concern, the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe and the economic transformation of China has led the North to seek aid, investment, and trade from the West to deal with its own stricken economy. So if North Korea wants engagement with the United States, why does it dig suspicious-looking tunnels and test missiles? Unfortunately, Pyongyang has learned that threats are the only way to get Washington to negotiate in earnest, a lesson Washington keeps reinforcing by its own inaction, in the absence of such threats.

But threats to break the 1994 Agreed Framework are not the same as breaking it. U.S. inspectors confirmed on a recent visit that the tunnels are indeed empty, further evidence that North Korea has been punctilious in observing the accord.

North Korea’s expressed interest in a missile deal is a sign of its larger purpose: to end its lifelong enmity with the United States. American economic sanctions, dating from the Korean War, are a monument to that enmity. Ending the embargo is the key to a missile deal.

Without meaningful political and economic engagement on the part of the United States, the North is unlikely to agree to any meaningful military disengagement. How can Pyongyang be expected to deal while the “Trading with the Enemy Act” remains in force?

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Tokyo, Japan

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Chunsi Wu: dlshen@fudan.ac.cn
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Dingli Shen: dlshen@fudan.ac.cn
Shanghai, People’s Republic of China


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