NAPSNet Daily Report 09 December, 1998

Recommended Citation

"NAPSNet Daily Report 09 December, 1998", NAPSNet Daily Report, December 09, 1998, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-09-december-1998/

IN TODAY’S REPORT:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

III. Announcements

I. United States

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1. US-DPRK Talks

US State Deputy Spokesman James Foley (“STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, DECEMBER 8, 1998,” USIA Transcript, 12/08/98) said that talks between the US and the DPRK were set to resume in New York on Thursday. He said that this round of talks would likely be completed either Thursday or Friday.

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2. DPRK Missile Launches

Reuters (“US WATCHING POSSIBLE N.KOREA MISSILE SITES,” Washington, 12/08/98) reported that an anonymous US official said on Tuesday that the US is closely watching construction in the DPRK that allegedly involves bases for launching missiles. The official stated, “We have been aware of construction for some time, but I can’t get into any details of it. This is an issue we have been paying a lot of attention to.” In Tokyo, a Japanese defense spokesman said the government had heard “various rumors” about missile sites but had no information to confirm the report.

US State Deputy Spokesman James Foley (“STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, DECEMBER 8, 1998,” USIA Transcript, 12/08/98) said that the US was aware some weeks ago of the Japanese report alleging that the DPRK was constructing sites for missile launches. Foley stated, We’ve noted on several previous occasions that North Korea’s missile proliferation activities are of serious concern to the United States.” He added, “We are vigorously pressing for restraints on North Korea’s development, deployment and export of missile equipment and technology, and have made clear that further launches of long-range missiles, or further exports of such missiles, or related technology, would have very negative consequences for efforts to improve US-DPRK relations.”

US Defense Department Spokesman Ken Bacon (“PENTAGON REGULAR BRIEFING, DECEMBER 8, 1998,” USIA Transcript, 12/08/98) refused to comment on US intelligence reports about alleged DPRK missile launch site construction. Bacon stated, “All I can tell you is that we are obviously concerned about North Korea’s missile program. We’ve made that clear publicly and privately to the North Koreans. We’ve discussed this with our allies. As you know from time to time we’ve had talks with the North Koreans specifically about missile proliferation.” He added, “Clearly the first test has had I think a chilling impact in the Asia Pacific region. It certainly increased the level of fear and uncertainty in the region, and this is not good for stability in the region. Ultimately, I’m not sure that it helps North Korea reach its goals of trying to establish trade and diplomatic relationships with a wider range of countries.”

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3. US Policy toward DPRK

US State Deputy Spokesman James Foley (“STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, DECEMBER 8, 1998,” USIA Transcript, 12/08/98) said that former US Defense Secretary William Perry’s trip to Asia is designed to gather information as part of a comprehensive policy review. He added, “As Dr. Perry emphasized, however, the delegation went to listen, not to present any views of its own; and they have not come to any judgments.” Foley stated, “The US has no plans to take any further steps on easing sanctions at this time. Certainly in the context of future developments, were there to be an improvement in the prospects for a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula in the context, therefore, of the Four-Party Talks; also, if we were to see changes in North Korean attitudes on other issues of concern, including the missile area, where we have separate talks, we would be willing to look at an improved relationship between the United States and North Korea, in which those kind of issues, including sanctions, would be on the table.” He concluded, “The fact is that the DPRK is seeking an improved relationship with the United States. We’re willing to entertain that possibility, if our concerns can be addressed in the various fora in which we’re negotiating.”

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4. Agreed Framework

US Defense Department Spokesman Ken Bacon (“PENTAGON REGULAR BRIEFING, DECEMBER 8, 1998,” USIA Transcript, 12/08/98) said that the US is in the process of fulfilling its obligations under the 1994 Agreed Framework. Bacon stated, “We have the money to provide virtually all of [the heavy fuel oil], or will soon have the money to provide virtually all of that. So I’m confident that soon we will be able to meet that obligation for this year.” He added, “My understanding is that we’ve delivered 391,000 tons out of the 500,000 tons. We are working diligently to provide the other 109,000 tons, and I believe we will do that in a relatively short period of time. I think [the DPRK] clearly can complain as long as we have failed to meet that obligation, but I’m confident that we will meet that obligation and meet it relatively soon.” Bacon also said, “The North Korean part of the agreement is to stop work — fuel reprocessing – – which they have done at their reactor site. That has been well monitored by IAEA inspectors. Now the question is whether there are acts within North Korea to perhaps carry out parts of a nuclear program elsewhere.” He argued, “I think everybody agrees that we are better off because of the framework agreement than we would have been without it. It has, in fact, stalled or stopped their nuclear program. It has had an important impact on stability in the Korean Peninsula. We will vigilantly monitor their activities, and we are doing that.”

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5. DPRK War Warnings

US Defense Department Spokesman Ken Bacon (“PENTAGON REGULAR BRIEFING, DECEMBER 8, 1998,” USIA Transcript, 12/08/98) discounted the significance of recent DPRK statements warning of immanent conflict. Bacon stated, “I think the rhetorical rheostat goes up and down over time…. We have not seen any particular moves by their military backing up this increase in rhetoric. I think that they are in the process of trying to create some diplomatic pressure on us and other parties to the KEDO agreement and I would regard their rhetoric as part of that.” He said that he was not aware of UN Command forces in the ROK being put on a higher state of readiness as a result of the DPRK statements.

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6. ROK Soldiers’ Alleged Contacts with DPRK

The Associated Press (“S.KOREA ORDERS NEW PROBE IN SLAYING,” Seoul, 10/09/98) and Reuters (“SOUTH KOREA PROBES SOLDIERS’ CONTACTS WITH NORTH,” Seoul, 10/09/98) reported that the ROK Defense Ministry on Wednesday ordered a new investigation into an army officer’s death to determine whether he was killed by a subordinate trying to cover up illegal contacts with the DPRK. First Lieutenant Kim Hoon was found shot in the head February 24 in a bunker inside Panmunjom. The initial investigation concluded that he had shot himself with a pistol, but a recent parliamentary probe of the case led to allegations that an army enlisted man might have tried to hide his illegal contacts with DPRK officers by killing Kim. Staff Sergeant Kim Young-hoon was arrested Tuesday on charges that he made unauthorized contacts with DPRK officers at Panmunjom in 1997. Ministry officials said that Sergeant Kim allegedly crossed the border at night more than 30 times and received cigarettes, drinks and other gifts from DPRK officers assigned to lure ROK soldiers into spying for the DPRK. They said that at least two other ROK soldiers were under investigation on similar charges, including one who allegedly received a US$4,000 Rolex watch. ROK officials began the investigation after they were tipped off by a DPRK border guard who defected in February. The UN Command said it was cooperating with the investigation.

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7. ROK-DPRK Athletic Exchanges

The Wall Street Journal (Jane L. Lee, “DESPITE HOSTILITIES BETWEEN TWO KOREAS, THEIR ATHLETES SOCIALIZE LIKE BROTHERS,” Bangkok, 12/09/98) reported that the ROK culture and tourism minister said Tuesday that a planned meeting with a DPRK sports minister at the Asian Games in Thailand failed to occur. The minister said that the DPRK’s inflexible style and repeated propaganda forced cancellation of the meeting. However, ROK and DPRK athletes have been freely associating during the games.

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8. ROK Military Mishaps

The Associated Press (“KOREA MILITARY OFFICERS REPRIMANDED,” Seoul, 12/09/98) reported that ROK Defense Minister Chun Yong-taek reprimanded Army General Kim Dong-shin, Air Force General Park Choon-taek, and 11 other officers on Wednesday for a recent series of military accidents. Two other generals and four lower-ranking officers were referred to disciplinary committees. Four other officers were relieved of their posts and an army platoon leader was arrested and charged with failure to properly supervise his unit.

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9. ROK-EU Relations

The Associated Press (“E.U. TO IMPROVE TIES WITH S. KOREA,” Brussels, 12/09/98) reported that the European Union (EU) announced plans Wednesday for a “comprehensive new strategy” to improve political and economic relations with the ROK. The program expresses political support for reforms undertaken by President Kim Dae-jung, calls on the ROK to open markets, and backs efforts to defuse tensions with the DPRK. A statement released by the EU’s executive body, the European Commission, said that it “strongly backs the South Korean policy of seeking to engage, rather than isolate the communist North.” It added that the EU would “seek to actively engage North Korea with the international community.” EU and DPRK officials held their first talks in Brussels last week on issues including human rights, food aid, and security.

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10. Taiwanese Elections

The Associated Press (“TAIWAN WARNED ABOUT INDEPENDENCE,” Beijing, 12/09/98) reported that the PRC’s Taiwan Affairs Office on Wednesday accused unnamed Taiwanese officials of “contriving to use a citizen vote” to declare independence. The PRC’s official Xinhua News Agency quoted an unnamed spokesman for the office as saying, “All attempts to use a citizen vote as a way to block reunification and create ‘Taiwan independence’ are dangerously playing with fire.”

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11. Alleged Technology Transfers to PRC

The Washington Post (Walter Pincus and John Mintz, “REPORT FAULTS HUGHES ON DATA GIVEN CHINA,” 12/09/98, A22) and the New York Times (Jeff Gerth, “PENTAGON INQUIRY FAULTS MISSILE MAKER’S CHINA AID,” Washington, 12/09/98) reported that officials said Tuesday that a preliminary US Defense Department assessment has concluded that Hughes Electronics Corporation provided the PRC with information potentially damaging to US national security following the 1995 crash of a PRC rocket carrying a Hughes-built commercial satellite. The assessment found that Hughes officials told the PRC the cause of the crash had been traced to problems with the rocket’s fairing, a heat-resistant shroud covering the satellite. One official said the assessment concluded that Hughes “went well beyond what should have been allowed” by US government agencies regulating such exchanges. Hughes spokesman Don O’Neal said that no one at the company has seen the report, but he added that Hughes “stands by the conclusion that we transferred to the Chinese no information that could be used to improve their ballistic missiles…. There’s a significant difference between intercontinental ballistic missiles and commercial rockets.” Hughes officials said their conversations with the PRC were very general, and in any case could not have helped the PRC military because ballistic missiles do not have fairings. However, a official who has read the report stated, “What it taught [the PRC] how to do, which they evidently didn’t know how to do, is analysis on the stresses on a launch vehicle as it goes into the upper atmosphere.” He added that the information “could be directly applicable to military systems, although we have no information that it has been.” Senator Thad Cochran, R-Miss., said Tuesday, “Our suspicions that technology can be transferred in these situations, that you can improve the reliability of Chinese rockets/missiles, were well founded.” [Ed. note: The New York Times article appeared as one of the top stories in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news summary.]

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12. US-Russian Nuclear Talks

Reuters (“U.S. DELEGATION IN MOSCOW FOR NUCLEAR, ECONOMY TALKS,” Moscow, 12/09/98) reported that US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott arrived in Russia on Wednesday for high-level talks on nuclear and economic issues. A US official said that Talbott would discuss the START-2 arms control treaty, nuclear non-proliferation issues, and financial and economic subjects. Itar-Tass news agency said the US mission would meet Russia’s economic policy chief, First Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Maslyukov, Thursday and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov Friday. Talbott will meet Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov Saturday and the mission will also meet finance ministry and central bank officials.

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13. Russian Missile Test

Dow Jones Newswires (“RUSSIA SUCCESSFULLY TESTS NEW MISSILE – TASS,” London, 12/09/98) reported that the Itar-Tass news agency said Wednesday that the Russian Strategic Missile Troops (RVSN) have successfully tested a Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile. RVSN Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Yakovlev was quoted as saying, “the task, set by the supreme commander-in-chief and the Russian defense minister, to develop and to arm the Russian strategic nuclear forces with the Topol-M missile system has been successfully fulfilled. The first regiment of the new missile system will be put on combat duty this year.”

II. Republic of Korea

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1. ROK Military Mishaps

Chosun Ilbo (“MILITARY CHIEFS REPRIMANDED OVER ACCIDENTS,” Seoul, 12/09/98) reported that the Ministry of National Defense (MOND) reprimanded and ordered disciplinary hearings for thirteen officers, including the chiefs of the Army and Air Force Wednesday over the recent spate of military accidents that resulted in three fatalities. This is the first time in the ROK’s military history that ranking chiefs of staff have been called to account for accidents within their commands. MOND announced that General Park Chun-taek, commander of the Air Force, and four of his officers, including the commander of the antiaircraft division, would appear before the disciplinary committee. Battalion and company commanders of the antiaircraft division were relieved of their command. In regard to the 90mm-shell explosion that killed three soldiers, Army Chief of Staff Kim Dong-shin was severely reprimanded, the divisional and regimental commanders were ordered to appear before the disciplinary committee, both battalion and company commanders were relieved of their positions, and the platoon commander was arrested for negligence.

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2. ROK Soldiers’ Alleged DPRK Contacts

JoongAng Ilbo (“INVESTIGATION INTO DPRK GIFTS,” Seoul, 12/09/98) reported that the military criminal investigation unit announced on December 9 that it would enlarge its field of inquiry into a case involving suspicious contact between ROK and DPRK soldiers. The military said, “Since the United States forces retreated from the Panmunjom mutual guard area in 1994, a lot of secret contact between the two Koreas’ privates has occurred. We will summon all 300 soldiers who have, now or in the past, been stationed there to find out if any spy activities were committed.” An unnamed private, it has been revealed, received a Rolex wristwatch from the DPRK side, and the investigation will attempt to ascertain what he did to warrant such a gift. Moreover, there is a strong possibility that higher-ranking soldiers were involved since other privates also received gifts from the DPRK in the past that went unreported.

Korea Times (“4 SOLDIERS ACTED AS DPRK SPIES,” Seoul, 12/09/98) reported that a total of 42 ROK Army platoon members stationed in the Joint Security Area (JSA) in Panmunjom under the UN Command (UNC) have had contacts with DPRK soldiers and four of them acted as DPRK spies. Representative Har Kyoung-kun, head of the Defense Committee’s special subpanel on the death of 1st Lieutenant Kim Hoon in a JSA bunker in February, made the revelation, quoting testimony from DPRK defector Captain Pyon Yong-kwan. Representative Har claimed that four ROK military personnel went on spy missions after being persuaded to do so by DPRK soldiers at the JSA. The number of enlisted men in each platoon who have had contacts with their communist counterparts breaks down to six in the 1st platoon, 20 in the 2nd platoon (under the command of late 1st Lieutenant Kim), six in the 3rd platoon, and 10 in the 4th platoon. Military authorities appear to have kept such statements from Captain Pyon low profile for the last ten months and, as a result, they are now being severely criticized by the public for their apparent attempt to hide the truth of the incident. The lawmaker of the opposition Grand National Party said this alleged cover-up is closely linked to the mysterious death of 1st Lieutenant Kim.

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3. ROK-PRC Sea Crimes Pact

Chosun Ilbo (“ROK, PRC SIGN SEA CRIMES PACT,” Seoul, 12/09/98) reported that the ROK and PRC governments signed a marine criminal information exchange agreement in Beijing on Tuesday. The agreement requires that marine police from the two countries each establish a liaison office to exchange information on sea crimes such as piracy, stowaways, and smuggling. ROK and PRC marine police will also convene annually for a bilateral meeting to work out cooperative measures.

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4. ROK Economic Situation

JoongAng Ilbo (“GOVERNMENT WILL REPAY $2.8 BILLION TO IMF,” Seoul, 12/09/98) reported that the ROK government decided to repay US$2.8 billion to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that is due this month. However the government failed in its attempt to get a written promise from the IMF that would allow the ROK government to receive an equivalent loan in the event that the ROK economic situation worsens. The Ministry of Finance and Economy (MOFE) announced on December 9 that after negotiations with the IMF, the government will repay the US$2.8 billion due in December. The loan payments that come due after January next year can be discussed with the IMF, which will give due consideration to the economic situation both internally and outside the country at that time, but ultimately the government should repay the loans as scheduled, MOFE said. MOFE explained, “Even though we have no written promise from the IMF, they verbally promised their help if the ROK economic situation worsens.” The IMF loan repayment is expected to increase the ROK’s credibility in international markets.

III. Announcements

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1. Job Opportunity

The Graduate School of International Studies in Korea University is looking for a foreign scholar with a major in Asian Economic or Trade issues. The successful candidate should have a Ph.D. and will be required to teach 6 hours per week at Korea University. For more information, please contact Dong-young Lee via email or Professor Lee Shin-wha by telephone at: 82-2-3290-2408.

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2. DPRK Roundtable

The Institute for Strategic Reconciliation, Inc. (ISR) is sponsoring the Washington North Korea Roundtable: Relief and Development, at the ISR annual meeting. The meeting will take place on Thursday, December 17, 6 pm, at Woo Lae Oak Restaurant, 2nd floor, 1500 South Joyce Street, Arlington, VA, Tel – 703-521-3706 (near Pentagon City Fashion Center metro stop/Blue or Yellow line). Speakers will include Andrew Natsios, Senior Fellow, US Institute of Peace; Joseph Scalise, Director, UN World Food Programme Washington Office; and Tom Torrance, Director of North Korea Economic Affairs, US Department of State. Also included is a photo exhibit entitled, “The Stealth Famine in North Korea.” Andrew S. Natsios, the keynote speaker, will be discussing the North Korean Famine and Policy Recommendations for 1999. Joseph Scalise, Director of the UN World Food Program Washington Office, will be presenting both the findings from the first ever scientific nutritional survey of DPRK children and the consolidated UN appeal for humanitarian aid in 1999 to the DPRK, the final report of which will be publicly released just before the meeting. Tom Torrance, director of DPRK economic affairs of the US Department of State, will give a briefing about the progress of talks with the DPRK and humanitarian and economic agenda, including updates of US aid and economic sanctions. The participants in the roundtable will include US government officials, delegations from the US Congress, the NGO community, and donor countries, key leaders from the business and religious community, and Korea experts, among others. The set Korean buffet is $20.00 per person and must be paid at the door. RSVPs are required for this program. For a registration form, please contact ISR by fax at 301-570-0911 or by e-mail no later than Tuesday, December 15.

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Wade L. Huntley: napsnet@nautilus.org
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Timothy L. Savage: napsnet@nautilus.org
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Seoul, Republic of Korea

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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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