NAPSNet Daily Report 11 December, 1998

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"NAPSNet Daily Report 11 December, 1998", NAPSNet Daily Report, December 11, 1998, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-11-december-1998/

IN TODAY’S REPORT:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

III. Japan

I. United States

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1. US-DPRK Talks

US State Department Deputy Spokesman (James B. Foley, “US-N. KOREA TALKS ON SUSPECT UNDERGROUND CONSTRUCTION,” Washington, USIA Text, 12/11/98) announced that the US and the DPRK on Friday concluded their discussions in New York on US suspicions about underground construction at Kumchangni. Foley stated, “The talks were conducted in a serious atmosphere. The US continued to require the complete resolution of our concerns regarding the DPRK’s suspect underground construction and has made clear this will require access. Although gaps remain, the parties approached the issues in a problem-solving manner. The two sides recognized that progress was made and agreed to meet again as soon as possible at a venue and date to be determined through the New York channel.”

The Associated Press (“U.S., N. KOREA END TALKS ON UNDERGROUND SITE STILL AT ODDS,” New York, 12/11/98) reported that DPRK Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Gye-gwan said that “several problems” still remain over the US demand for access to a DPRK underground construction site. Kim said that the just-concluded US-DPRK talks in New York and Washington were “serious” and had led to a better understanding of each side’s concerns and in this context there was “some progress.” He added, “However, it’s apparent there are differences. We will continue to talk to solve these differences.” Kim stated, “There are some things we can give up and there are some things we cannot give up. We cannot give up positions related to some fundamental principles.”

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2. DPRK Famine

US State Department Deputy Spokesman Jim Foley (“STATE DEPT. NOON BRIEFING, DEC. 10,” Transcript, 12/11/98) said that it was based on the independent findings of international aid agencies that the US determined to donate an additional 300,000 metric tons of DPRK food aid to the World Food Program’s 1998 appeal. He added, “In light of the continuing humanitarian need, we urge other nations to contribute as well.” He cited statements by congressional staffers who recently visited the DPRK and by World Food Program officials as evidence that the food aid is reaching its intended recipients. He added, however, “While monitor access and the tempo of operations are improving, we would, of course, like to see greater openness regarding the food situation. We would like to see the number of monitors increased and their freedom of access further expanded. We have made clear to the North Koreans the importance of this matter; in fact, the DPRK recently issued visas to additional World Food Program monitors and agreed to a 1999 PVO consortium program.” Foley said that, despite US disdain for the DPRK regime, “we have made it very clear as a policy decision and as a reflection of what we stand for as a people, that we’re not going to impose political criteria when it comes to helping to feed innocent people who are victims of some of the … policies.”

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3. Remains of US Soldiers from Korean War

The US Department of Defense (“DEFENSE DEPARTMENT REPORT, DECEMBER 11, 1998,” 12/11/98) reported that Department of Defense negotiators began unaccounted-for remains recovery discussions with DPRK officials this week in New York. The department stated, “These negotiations seek to establish a schedule for 1999 in which US and North Korean teams will jointly recover the remains of Americans missing in action from the Korean War. This would mark the fourth consecutive year that US teams have operated inside North Korea on remains recoveries.”

The International Herald Tribune carried a letter from Robert L. Jones, deputy assistant secretary of defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs (“A MISSION IN NORTH KOREA,” Washington, 12/10/98, 11) in response to an earlier opinion article by Ralph A. Cossa. [Ed. Note: See US Policy toward DPRK, in the US Section of the December 4 Daily Report]. The author argued that US efforts to separate the recovery of the remains of US servicemen killed during the Korean War from other DPRK issues have paid dividends. He stated, “Although we have stated that progress on this issue contributes to the overall development of a relationship with North Korea, we steadfastly resist being tied to talks on missiles and nuclear facilities and to food aid. This separation of issues has allowed our work in North Korea to continue virtually uninterrupted for three years in spite of other crises that have arisen.” He also noted, “Our compensation formulas are straightforward. If we contract with North Koreans for fuel, we pay for it. If we require the service of a technical specialist, we pay.”

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4. DPRK Underground Construction

The Associated Press (“JAPAN WARNS N.KOREA ABOUT MISSILES,” Tokyo, 12/11/98) reported that Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura warned Friday that unless the DPRK clears up fears about its underground construction sites, it would be difficult for the Japanese government to gain support among Japanese citizens for the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) project to build light-water reactors in the DPRK. Komura stated, “KEDO is aimed at preventing nuclear development, and it becomes meaningless” if the DPRK is really building a nuclear facility.

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5. US-Japanese Exercises

Reuters (“NORTH KOREA DENOUNCES U.S.-JAPAN EXERCISES,” Tokyo, 12/11/98) reported that the DPRK on Friday criticized the US for carrying out military exercises with Japanese forces. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted a newspaper editorial as saying, “This indicates that a new Korean war is hourly approaching and it is a matter of time when the war will break out.” The editorial added, “Since it is as clear as day that the U.S. imperialists will unleash a new war any moment, we cannot but prepare ourselves for a just revolutionary war to wipe out the aggressors and win the final victory.” It warned, “The Korean people’s army and people will defeat the aggressors by waging a most decisive battle for revenge. A tiger moth is destined to perish in flame.” The report did not name the combined US-Japan military exercises it referred to.

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6. PRC-Taiwan Diplomatic Rivalry

The Associated Press (“CHINA ENDS TIES WITH MARSHALL ISLES,” Beijing, 12/11/98) reported that the PRC broke diplomatic ties with the Marshall Islands on Friday, three weeks after the South Pacific nation formally recognized the government of Taiwan. The PRC’s ambassador to the Marshall Islands, Zhao Lianyi, lodged a complaint with the Marshall Islands government and announced that diplomatic relations were broken effective Friday.

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7. US Missile Defense

The Defense Daily (Frank Wolfe, “COHEN: PENTAGON WANTS TO KEEP ‘THREE PLUS THREE’ FOR NMD,” 12/11/98, 5) reported that US Defense Secretary William Cohen said Thursday that the US Defense Department wants to maintain its “three plus three” strategy for the National Missile Defense (NMD) system. Cohen stated, “I intend to try to maintain the ‘three plus three’ timetable. We want to make sure the testing that’s done allows us to proceed in good faith and also to reassure the Congress and the country that we are pursuing a program that is technically sound and feasible.” Cohen added that the department is still studying the configuration of NMD and the compliance of the system with the 1972 Anti- Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia. Defense Department sources said that, under the revised “three plus three” strategy, a deployment readiness review in 2001 would determine whether the technical maturity of the program allowed it to move forward. Initial operational capability would be pushed back until 2005, from the earlier date of 2003. The sources said that the department has to determine how to come up with between US$5 billion and US$7.5 billion from 2000 to 2005 to pay for the revised NMD schedule. Without increased spending authority, the department may have to cut or cancel missile programs or look within service budgets to fund NMD.

II. Republic of Korea

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1. DPRK Diplomacy

JoongAng Ilbo (“DPRK REDUCES FOREIGN OFFICES,” Seoul, 12/10/98) reported that the “poverty-stricken” DPRK has eliminated 14 foreign offices in 1998 as of this month. A government source said on December 10, “The DPRK has curtailed 30 percent of its foreign residences and now only 54 remain.” At the same time, however, the DPRK established official relations with South Africa in August and attracted 22 investment deals from five countries: Romania, Malaysia, Czech Republic, Yugoslavia, and Slovakia. The DPRK also appointed 25 new ambassadors including Russian Ambassador Park Ui-chun.

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2. DPRK Tourism

JoongAng Ilbo (“HYUNDAI PLANS ANOTHER GRAND DPRK TOUR,” Seoul, 12/11/98) reported that Hyundai plans to create another tour program along the same lines as the Mt. Kumgang tour. Kim Yun-kyu, chairman of Hyundai Economic Cooperation Project Team, said on December 11, “After the Mt. Kumgang tour project settles in, we will develop another grand tour program connecting Mt. Baekdu, Mt. Chilbo, Mt. Myohyang, and Pyongyang.” Kim continued, “The tour program connecting Mt. Kumgang with other famous mountains in the DPRK was accepted by the DPRK during Honorary Chairman Chung Ju-yung’s first visit there in 1989. We confirmed that the agreement was still valid.” He added, “We will develop another roadway to Mt. Kumgang to compliment the current sea route.”

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3. ROK Soldiers’ Alleged Contacts with DPRK

Korea Times (“LIEUTENANT KIM’S DEATH BECOMING MURDER CASE,” Seoul, 12/10/98) reported that the “mysterious” death of ROK Army 1st Lieutenant Kim Hun at the truce village of Panmunjom is haunting the Armed Forces and the country once again nearly 10 months after it occurred. The latest revelations, made by a National Assembly special investigation committee, raised the possibility that Kim was murdered and his killer was his immediate subordinate officer, Sergeant First Class Kim Yong-hun, who served as deputy of the late lieutenant in one of five guard platoons in the UN Command (UNC) Security Battalion at the time. According to the National Assembly members and military authorities, Sergeant Kim had allegedly made contacts with DPRK guards, most of them being psychological warfare specialists, on more than 30 occasions last year. They said that on one occasion, the noncommissioned officer crossed the Military Demarcation Line, a median line separating the UNC sector from the DPRK-controlled area. ROK guards are not allowed to make any kinds of contacts with their DPRK counterparts.

Korea Times (“UNC TO FULLY COOPERATE WITH ROK PROBE,” Seoul, 12/11/98) reported that the United Nations Command (UNC) said it will fully cooperate with a new ROK military investigation into the death of 1st Lieutenant Kim Hun by going so far as to put all available resources at the ROK side’s disposal, if necessary. During a telephone interview with the Korea Times on Thursday, a US officer said that it is not true that the UNC authorities have been reluctant to assist with the ROK military’s probe into the controversial case. “The UNC has been cooperative and will continue to do all it can to support the investigation process. We will fully cooperate with a new probe led by another ROK army general,” he said. Some of the ROK military officials who testified before the National Assembly’s Defense Committee last week provided the excuse that a thorough probe into 1st Lieutenant Kim’s case was exceedingly difficult as a result of the fact that his death took place in the UNC-controlled Joint Security Area at the truce village of Panmunjom. The US military official denied this claim, contending that the UNC fully cooperated with both previous ROK investigations.

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4. ROK-Japan Fishery Agreement

Chosun Ilbo (“GNP TO OPPOSE FISHERY AGREEMENT,” Seoul, 12/10/98) reported that the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) announced Thursday that it will strongly oppose ratification of the ROK-Japan fishery agreement to be brought to the National Assembly by the Unification, Diplomacy and Trade Commission next Monday. GNP representative Lee Shin-bom said that the accord places the Tokdo islets in an intermediary zone, thereby weakening the ROK’s claim of sovereignty. He added that this was a deliberate manipulative strategy by the Japanese negotiators and unless the government agrees to strongly reaffirm its stance on the issue and provide adequate compensation to fishermen, the party would refuse endorsement.

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5. ROK Election Scandal

JoongAng Ilbo (“LEE HOI-SUNG ARRESTED FOR ILLEGAL FUND RAISING,” Seoul, 12/10/98) reported that the prosecutor’s office arrested Lee Hoi-sung, younger brother of opposition Grand National Party (GNP) president Lee Hoi-chang, on December 10. He was charged with collecting illegal political funds from chaebol groups. The prosecutors contend that he pressured Tax Administration Agency (TAA) members during last year’s presidential election to solicit the money from the conglomerates. A source from the prosecutor’s office commented, “We felt that he would attempt to remove all the evidence related with the case and not appear in court so we decided to seize him now.” According to the source, last November 1997 Lee telephoned his high school junior Lee Seok-hee, who at the time was the deputy president of the TAA, and strongly urged him to use the agency to collect money for his brother. He is charged with receiving the equivalent of US$800,000 in the Lotte Hotel parking lot on one particular occasion and collected more than the equivalent of US$10 million from 20 different companies in total. The prosecutors investigated Lee last September but soon released him. President Kim Dae-jung personally ordered another investigation into the matter.

Korea Herald (“OPPOSITION BLASTS RULING PARTY,” Seoul, 12/11/98) reported that the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) accused the government and its party of attempting to break up the opposition party when the prosecution arrested the party leader’s brother Thursday. Lee Hoi-sung was suspected of having mobilized top tax officials to raise campaign funds for opposition leader Lee Hoi-chang when he was running for the presidency last year. His arrest followed the passage of the government budget bill through the National Assembly on Wednesday. The GNP withdrew its lawmakers when the bill was put to vote. Representative Ahn Taik- soo, spokesman of the GNP, claimed the government and the ruling National Congress for New Politics (NCNP) are attempting to link the mobilization of tax officials in the fund-raising to GNP leader Lee under their plan to dissolve the party. “Lee Hoi-sung has maintained he was not involved in raising funds with the help of tax officials, and there is no evidence of his involvement,” Ahn said. “We know what it meant when Lee Hoi-sung was arrested as soon as the budget bill was passed.” The NCNP and its coalition partner, the United Liberal Democrats (ULD), refused to make any official comment on the arrest in an apparent move not to anger the opposition any further. They are worried that the arrest will strain their relations with the opposition as they try to pass other bills through the National Assembly before the current regular session finishes next Friday.

III. Japan

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1. US and Russian Nuclear Subcritical Tests

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Ryuichi Otsuka, “US POSTPONES NUCLEAR SUBCRITICAL TEST,” Washington, 12/11/98) reported that US Department of Energy announced that it will postpone again a planned nuclear subcritical test, which would be the fifth of its kind. The department said that a system to analyze data on the experiment had had a technical problem and the test had been previously postponed to December 10, but the department’s inability to fix the system forced the department to postpone the test again.

The Yomiuri Shimbun (“RUSSIA CONDUCTS NUCLEAR SUBCRITICAL TEST,” Moscow, 12/10/98) and the Asahi Shimbun (“RUSSIA CONDUCTS NUCLEAR SUBCRITICAL TEST,” Moscow, 12/10/98) reported that Russia’s nuclear authorities conducted a nuclear subcritical test in a northern island on December 8. According to the Yomiuri report, Russia has conducted the tests yearly since 1995. The Asahi Shimbun added that although both Russia and the US are signatories to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), they maintain that subcritical tests do not violate the treaty.

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2. Japanese-ROK Fishery Agreement

The Asahi Shimbun (“JAPAN-ROK FISHERY AGREEMENT IS APPROVED ON DECEMBER 11: STOCK FROM WATER SURROUNDING TAKESHIMA/TOKDO REMAINS TO BE DISCUSSED,” 12/11/98) reported that a new fishery agreement between Japan and the ROK will be approved at a Lower House plenary session on December 11 and will come into effect on January 23, 1999. The agreement aims to revise the existing agreement according to the UN Law of the Sea that became effective in 1994 and to establish a tentative area surrounding the disputed Takeshima/Tokdo islets where both Japanese and ROK governments claim sovereignty. The agreement also shelves the territorial issue between the two countries, and both governments will establish a committee to discuss allocation of fishery stocks and rule of operation. Although the newly established area will reduce the existing stock on the part of Japanese fisher people, the Japanese government already included 269 billion yen as compensation in the third supplementary budget under the name of fishery promotion for the fisher people who have been opposed to the new agreement.

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3. Japanese-Russian Relations

The Yomiuri Shimbun (“JAPANESE-RUSSIAN COMMITTEE ON DELIMITATION TO MEET ON JANUARY 21,” 12/10/98) reported that the Japanese and Russian governments met in Tokyo on December 9 and agreed to hold the first meetings of the Committee on Delimitation and the Committee on Economic Activities on January 21, 1999. These committees aim to facilitate achieving the goals of Japanese-Russian peace treaty negotiations. Both sides reaffirmed their policy to “do their best to conclude a peace treaty by the year 2000.” Russia also gave a detailed explanation as to the proposal on the territorial issue that President Boris Yeltsin had stated during the recent Japanese-Russian summit meeting. Although both governments have not announced the nature of the proposal so far, the report said that the governments may conclude a treaty to deal with the territorial issue separately from a peace treaty. The report added that Japan did not clarify its view on the proposal during the meeting.

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Wade L. Huntley: napsnet@nautilus.org
Berkeley, California, United States

Timothy L. Savage: napsnet@nautilus.org
Berkeley, California, United States

Lee Dong-young: UNPOL@netsgo.com
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Hiroyasu Akutsu: akutsu@glocomnet.or.jp
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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