NAPSNet Daily Report 07 January, 1999

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"NAPSNet Daily Report 07 January, 1999", NAPSNet Daily Report, January 07, 1999, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-07-january-1999/

IN TODAY’S REPORT:

I. United States

II. People’s Republic of China

I. United States

1. Four-Party Peace Talks

US State Department Spokesman James Rubin (“STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, JANUARY 6, 1999,” USIA Transcript, 01/07/99) announced that a working-level group on the four-party peace talks met in New York on Tuesday, January 5, to discuss arrangements for the fourth plenary session. Rubin stated, “As a result, the four parties have agreed to convene the plenary in Geneva beginning January 19. Obviously, Ambassador Kartman will lead our delegation.” He added, “Let me remind you that the U.S. goals in these talks continue to be the reduction of tension on the Korean Peninsula, and replacing the armistice by the achievement of a permanent peace arrangement. As agreed at the third plenary, two subcommittees will convene during the fourth plenary to discuss, respectively, the establishment of a peace regime in the Korean Peninsula and tension reduction there.”

2. DPRK Underground Construction

US State Department Spokesman James Rubin (“STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, JANUARY 6, 1999,” USIA Transcript, 01/07/99) said that the US and the DPRK on January 5 completed consultations in New York on arrangements for the next round of talks on the DPRK’s suspect underground construction. Rubin stated, “These discussions on the Kumchangni underground construction site will resume in Geneva on January 16 and 17…. We are seeking that North Korea fully satisfy our concerns about this site, including by providing access to it. Let me make clear we are not prepared to pay North Korea to ensure compliance with this obligation under the Agreed Framework.” He added, “We have said that were we able to improve our economic and political relations with North Korea in the context of an Agreed Framework implementation, missile proliferation progress, and cooperation on the return of remains of missing Americans, as well as terrorism, success in the four-party talks would also have a significant improvement — impact — on our bilateral relations. So were we able to make success in those four areas, we are prepared to improve our economic and political relations, including by sanctions easing. But that is a long way off, given the current posture of North Korea.”

The Associated Press (“CHINESE S KOREA ENVOY: U.S. HAS NO RIGHT TO INSPECT N KOREA,” Seoul, 01/07/99) reported that Wu Dawei, PRC ambassador to the ROK, said in an interview published by the Korea Herald on Thursday that the US has no right to demand an inspection of an underground construction site in the DPRK. Wu stated, “No country in the international community is entitled, or authorized, to have such a right.” He added that the PRC has no hard evidence that the disputed site is nuclear-related. He also criticized US attempts to curb DPRK development of rockets. Wu argued, “It is not fair for only the United States, not other countries like North Korea, to be allowed to launch a rocket for the purpose of putting a satellite into orbit.”

3. DPRK Rocket Launches

Reuters (“JAPAN WARNS NORTH KOREA OVER MISSILES,” Seoul, 01/07/99) reported that Japanese Defense Minister Hosei Norota said Thursday that Japan may halt its contributions to the Korea Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) if the DPRK launches another missile.

4. ROK-Japan Defense Talks

The Associated Press (“JAPAN, S. KOREA AGREE TO STRENGTHEN MILITARY COOPERATION,” Seoul, 01/07/99) reported that Japanese Defense Minister Hosei Norota and ROK Defense Minister Chun Yong-taek agreed Thursday to strengthen military cooperation between their two nations in the face of security threats from the DPRK. The two also agreed to set up a system to facilitate the exchange of information during emergencies. Cha Young-koo, a spokesman for the ROK Defense Ministry, stated, “The cooperation between Japan and South Korea will significantly contribute to the peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.” Cha said that the two ministers recognized the importance of keeping alive the 1994 Agreed Framework. He added that Norota and Chun agreed that their countries should closely cooperate with the US to pressure the DPRK to accept the US demand on inspection of the DPRK’s underground construction site. The two also confirmed an earlier agreement to conduct a joint naval training exercise this year. They also agreed to have their Joint Chiefs of Staff consult regularly on security issues.

5. ROK Nuclear Development

Nucleonics Week (Mark Hibbs, “LEGACY OF SECRET NUCLEAR PROGRAM LED U.S. TO BLUNT ROK COOPERATION,” Seoul and Washington, 01/07/98) reported that ROK government sources said that the ROK government had for years run a secret research program to develop a clandestine nuclear weapons capability. The sources said that the program has led the US government since the 1970s to refuse to put its nuclear cooperation with the ROK on the same basis as that with Japan. One official at the ROK Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) said that, until recently, the US Department of State “kept telling us that because we had a past nuclear weapons program under President Park (Chung-Hee), they would not help us” to develop a closed nuclear fuel cycle. A former ROK official said that the US also strongly objected to some nuclear activities under President Roh Tae-Woo. The US Department of State would neither confirm nor deny that ROK had a nuclear weapons program. One unnamed State Department official said that the US had made clear that, because the Korean peninsula is a “region of tension” the US opposed providing nuclear cooperation at the level afforded to Japan, and categorically opposed ROK reprocessing and uranium enrichment. ROK officials said that the US and the ROK for years used non-officials channels to discuss nuclear cooperation, allowing both sides to formally deny that the ROK had ever requested to reprocess US-origin spent fuel. US-ROK nuclear relations are governed by a bilateral cooperation accord from 1974 that gives the US wide-ranging consent rights over use of all US-origin nuclear materials. Unnamed US officials said that the US has carried out “challenge inspections” at ROK nuclear sites outside of the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency. One senior US official asserted that “without this level of interference, South Korea would be a de facto nuclear weapons state by now.”

6. DPRK Defectors

The Associated Press (“SIX NORTH KOREANS DEFECT,” Seoul, 01/07/99) reported that officials at the ROK Agency for National Security Planning said that six people arrived in Seoul Thursday after escaping the DPRK. The defectors included Kim Soon-hee and her two children. Officials said that Kim’s husband, Suh Jung-hyon, was an ROK prisoner of war who had been forced to work in a coal mine until his death in 1997.

7. Alleged Technology Transfers to PRC

The Wall Street Journal (Carla Anne Robbins, “CHINA RECEIVED SECRET DATA ON ADVANCED U.S. WARHEAD,” Washington, 01/07/99) reported that US officials said that a US scientist working at the Los Alamos National Laboratory is suspected of passing secret design information for the W88 US nuclear warhead to the PRC in the mid-1980s. The W88 is fitted to the submarine-launched Trident II ballistic missile. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is still investigating the incident, which was uncovered in 1995. No arrest has been made, but officials say the suspect has been removed from any sensitive projects. US officials describe the loss of data on the warhead as the most significant incident in a 20-year PRC espionage effort. Officials said that the PRC has not developed a weapons system using the information, and still faces very high design hurdles. However, US analysts believe that the PRC tested a warhead with characteristics similar to the W88 in the mid-1990s. Officials believe that the PRC did not get any equipment, blueprints, or advanced designs, but rather general, although still highly secret, information about the warhead’s weight, size, and explosive power, and its internal configuration. One unnamed official stated, “The most important thing is they learned it could be done this way,” adding that that knowledge may have saved the PRC “between two and 10 years” of warhead-design efforts. [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for January 7.]

The Associated Press (“CHINA ACCUSES U.S. CONGRESS,” Beijing, 01/07/99) reported that PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao on Thursday denied US congressional findings that the PRC used routine exchanges with the US to acquire military secrets. Zhu called the allegations “unreasonable and groundless and irresponsible.” He stated, “The purpose is to attempt to damage China’s image and undermine China-U.S. relations. The Chinese side hereby expresses its strong resentment and firm opposition.” He added, “Obsessed with a Cold War mentality, a few U.S. congressmen run counter to the historical trend and fabricate rumors out of thin air in an attempt to obstruct the improvement and development of China-U.S. relations.” Zhu said that there was opportunity to build on the momentum created by reciprocal visits between US President Bill Clinton and PRC President Jiang Zemin, and he called on the Clinton administration to limit the damage done by the report and for Congress to do more to promote ties.

8. US Theater Missile Defense

The New York Times (Steven Lee Myers, “CLINTON TO PLEDGE $7 BILLION FOR MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM,” Washington, 01/07/99) reported that US officials said that President Clinton plans to pledge about US$7 billion over six years to build a limited missile defense system. While Clinton is not expected to decide whether to build a system until the summer of 2000, the officials said the decision to set aside money now was meant to underscore the administration’s political commitment to the idea. On Tuesday, General Henry Shelton, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the military had the resources to continue to develop the program. He added that the administration is “also putting money into the program so that at the time that we have the technology, if in fact the threat justifies it, then we could go ahead with the fielding.” The next test of the ground-based interceptor missile system is scheduled for June. Three more tests are scheduled before Clinton makes a decision next year. Lieutenant Colonel Richard Lehner, spokesman for the National Missile Defense Program, said Wednesday, “Those of us who work in the program are very confident we’re going to have a working system, and we’re going to have it soon.” However, Spurgeon Keeny Jr., president of the Arms Control Association in Washington, argued, “This does not seem to be a wise and balanced approach to U.S. defense needs.” [Ed. note: This article was one of the top stories in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for January 7.]

II. People’s Republic of China

1. ROK-DPRK Relations

China Daily (“ROK AFFIRMS EFFORTS FOR RECONCILIATION WITH DPRK,” Seoul, 01/06/98, A11) reported that the ROK announced on January 4 that it will stick by President Kim Dae-jung’s “sunshine policy” of attempted reconciliation with the DPRK. The ROK National Security Council said in a statement that the country would remain vigilant and, at the same time, maintain cooperation with the DPRK in 1999. The ROK media raised questions over whether the government would stick to its rapprochement policy towards the DPRK, especially following a dispute between the US and the DPRK over access to the alleged underground nuclear site. However, the statement said that the ROK will pursue peaceful exchanges with the DPRK by trying to reunite families separated by the militarized border between the two sides. The ROK will promote agricultural and development aide for the DPRK, the statement said.

2. ROK Intelligence Scandal

China Daily (“TRAVEL BAN IMPOSED,” Seoul, 01/07/98, A11) reported that ROK prosecutors barred 11 opposition legislators from leaving the country on January 6, ensuring that they will face an investigation into the theft of classified government documents. On New Year’s Eve, members of the opposition Grand National Party broke into a room in the National Assembly building and seized dozens of documents owned by the government intelligence agency. They said that the small, windowless room was used by intelligence agents to spy on politicians, and that the documents they seized proved their accusations. Both President Kim Dae-jung’s ruling party and the spy agency denied the charges.

3. PRC-US Relations

People’s Daily (“CHINESE AND US PRESIDENTS SEND LETTERS TO EACH OTHER,” 01/02/98, A1) reported that PRC President Jiang Zemin and his US counterpart Bill Clinton expressed hopes on January 1 for improving relations between the two countries on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Jiang said that he has “seen with pleasure the significant progress scored in China-US relations in recent years.” He expressed the hope that the two countries will work together to move PRC-US relations forward in the spirit of mutual respect, by seeking common ground, while shelving differences, broadening identities of views and promoting cooperation, and helping to bring a peaceful, stable and prosperous world into the 21st century.

4. PRC-US Military Exchange

China Daily (“MILITARY COOPERATION SPURS STABILITY,” 01/07/98, A4) reported that military exchanges between the PRC and the US have during the last two decades played a significant role in building up healthy Sino-US relations. Xiong Guangkai, deputy chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), said that a rather solid dialogue between the armies of the two countries has been set up. Cooperation between the two focuses on increasing mutual military openness and strengthening joint military activities, he said. Personnel exchanges between the two sides will play an important part in mutual understanding, Xiong said. At a seminar in Beijing sponsored by the China Institute for International Strategic Studies (CIISS), visiting Harvard professor Joseph S. Nye, Jr. echoed Xiong’s view and said that developing dialogue between the two armies is very important for both countries and the rest of East Asia. He further said that the long-term stability and prosperity in East Asia depend on a solid triangular relationship between the PRC, the US, and Japan. He suggested that such an institution could be initiated by academic and low-ranking governmental contacts among the countries concerned, especially the PRC, the US, and Japan. Many Chinese scholars at the seminar believed that such a relationship should be built on equal relations between the PRC, the US, and Japan. Another issue that concerns East Asian countries is the scale of the US military presence in the region.

5. Alleged US Technology Transfer to China

China Daily (“SATELLITE TECHNOLOGY ALLEGATIONS REFUTED,” 01/02/98, A1) reported that the PRC has expressed strong resentment over the US House of Representatives’ allegations on US satellite technology deals with the PRC. PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said on January 1 that these charges do not tally with the truth and are a “sheer fabrication.” Zhu said, “It is not only unnecessary, but also impossible, for China to obtain satellite, rocket and missile technology through the provision of a commercial launch service.” A spokesman for China Aerospace Corporation has also refuted the allegations. He said last Thursday night that the allegations have “greatly damaged the good image and international reputation of the Long March rocket as well as the producer and launcher of the rocket.”

6. Cross-Taiwan Straits Relations

China Daily (“DIALOGUE IMPORTANT TO BOTH SIDES,” 01/07/98, A2) reported that the influential Cross-Straits Relations magazine said in its January issue that continuous political and economic dialogue will be the way to better cross-Straits relations in the coming year. The mainland hopes the common understanding reached by both sides during the chairman of Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation Koo Chen-fu’s visit to the mainland last October will be respected, the magazine said. If the president of the mainland’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, Wang Daohan’s, visit could be preceded by progress in political dialogue, it would certainly carry more weight, suggested the article. The magazine urged the deepening of talks in future meetings between Wang and Koo.

7. PRC Nuclear Export Policy

China Daily (“COUNTRY TO STRENGTHEN COOPERATION WITH IAEA,” Vienna, 01/02/98, A1) reported that the PRC has declared it will keep the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) informed of its cooperation with non-nuclear-weapon countries and its imports and exports of nuclear materials. Under an additional protocol to a strengthened safeguards and supervision treaty signed by the two sides on December 31, 1998, the PRC promised the IAEA it would verify any information about nuclear issues in the PRC presented by non-nuclear-weapon nations to the agency.

8. Kuril Islands Disputes

People’s Daily (“RUSSIA DENIES IT WILL TURN OVER TWO ISLES TO JAPAN,” Moscow, 1/7/98, P6) reported that Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman stressed on January 6 that Russia had not held any negotiations with Japan on the hand-over of the southern Kuril Islands. According to him, the report by some Japanese newspapers that the Russian side was considering turning over two isles in the southern Kuril Islands to Japan is totally sheer nonsense.

9. Japanese Official’s Remarks on Peace Constitution

People’s Daily (“NAKAMURA TAKES BACK REMARKS ON CONSTITUTION,” Tokyo, 1/6/98, P6) reported that Japan’s Justice Minister, Shozaburo Nakamura, retracted remarks he made on January 4 that were taken as suggesting that the country should revise its anti-war constitution. At a news conference, Nakamura told reporters that the true meaning of his remarks was to explain that there were a number of discussions on how Japan might participate in international peace activities, and that Japan’s involvement would be restricted by the current constitution. In a speech at a New Year party with justice officials and prosecutors on January 4, he had criticized Japan for binding itself to a no-war constitution forced on it by the US-led allied powers after its defeat in World War II.

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Tokyo, Japan

Peter Razvin: icipu@glas.apc.org
Moscow, Russian Federation

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

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


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