NAPSNet Daily Report 13 February, 1997

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"NAPSNet Daily Report 13 February, 1997", NAPSNet Daily Report, February 13, 1997, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-13-february-1997/

In today’s Report:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

I. United States

1a. Hwang Defection: Current Diplomacy

The Associated Press (Renee Schoof, “KOREAS MANEUVER OVER DEFECTOR,” Beijing, 2/13/97) reported that the PRC, the DPRK and the ROK were involved in frantic diplomatic maneuvering Thursday in the wake of the apparent defection of Hwang Jang-yop, the 72-year-old high-ranking DPRK official and party ideologue who on Wednesday sought asylum in the ROK embassy in Beijing. Defecting with Hwang was Kim Duk-hong, 59, identified as the president of a DPRK trading firm in Beijing. The ROK pressed the PRC to allow the ROK to bring Hwang immediately to Seoul, and enable ROK officials to learn all Hwang knows about the DPRK’s secretive government. The DPRK continues to insist Hwang has been kidnapped, and DPRK nationals have made attempts to get past PRC police guarding the ROK embassy to reach him [Ed. note: see item below]. The DPRK urged the PRC to take “appropriate measures” and threatened unspecified retaliation if Hwang had been kidnapped. The ROK responded by putting its entire 650,000-member military on higher alert. The PRC Foreign Ministry issued a brief statement calling for calm. PRC media did not cover the story other than to report the statement. PRC officials appeared to be seeking a way to navigate through the situation without offending either the DPRK, a long-time ally, or the ROK, an important new trading partner. Ultimately, however, the PRC government will have to decide whether Hwang will go to Pyongyang or Seoul.

In today’s Report:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

I. United States

1a. Hwang Defection: Current Diplomacy

The Associated Press (Renee Schoof, “KOREAS MANEUVER OVER DEFECTOR,” Beijing, 2/13/97) reported that the PRC, the DPRK and the ROK were involved in frantic diplomatic maneuvering Thursday in the wake of the apparent defection of Hwang Jang-yop, the 72-year-old high-ranking DPRK official and party ideologue who on Wednesday sought asylum in the ROK embassy in Beijing. Defecting with Hwang was Kim Duk-hong, 59, identified as the president of a DPRK trading firm in Beijing. The ROK pressed the PRC to allow the ROK to bring Hwang immediately to Seoul, and enable ROK officials to learn all Hwang knows about the DPRK’s secretive government. The DPRK continues to insist Hwang has been kidnapped, and DPRK nationals have made attempts to get past PRC police guarding the ROK embassy to reach him [Ed. note: see item below]. The DPRK urged the PRC to take “appropriate measures” and threatened unspecified retaliation if Hwang had been kidnapped. The ROK responded by putting its entire 650,000-member military on higher alert. The PRC Foreign Ministry issued a brief statement calling for calm. PRC media did not cover the story other than to report the statement. PRC officials appeared to be seeking a way to navigate through the situation without offending either the DPRK, a long-time ally, or the ROK, an important new trading partner. Ultimately, however, the PRC government will have to decide whether Hwang will go to Pyongyang or Seoul.

I. United States

1a. Hwang Defection: Current Diplomacy

The Associated Press (Renee Schoof, “KOREAS MANEUVER OVER DEFECTOR,” Beijing, 2/13/97) reported that the PRC, the DPRK and the ROK were involved in frantic diplomatic maneuvering Thursday in the wake of the apparent defection of Hwang Jang-yop, the 72-year-old high-ranking DPRK official and party ideologue who on Wednesday sought asylum in the ROK embassy in Beijing. Defecting with Hwang was Kim Duk-hong, 59, identified as the president of a DPRK trading firm in Beijing. The ROK pressed the PRC to allow the ROK to bring Hwang immediately to Seoul, and enable ROK officials to learn all Hwang knows about the DPRK’s secretive government. The DPRK continues to insist Hwang has been kidnapped, and DPRK nationals have made attempts to get past PRC police guarding the ROK embassy to reach him [Ed. note: see item below]. The DPRK urged the PRC to take “appropriate measures” and threatened unspecified retaliation if Hwang had been kidnapped. The ROK responded by putting its entire 650,000-member military on higher alert. The PRC Foreign Ministry issued a brief statement calling for calm. PRC media did not cover the story other than to report the statement. PRC officials appeared to be seeking a way to navigate through the situation without offending either the DPRK, a long-time ally, or the ROK, an important new trading partner. Ultimately, however, the PRC government will have to decide whether Hwang will go to Pyongyang or Seoul. Under a 1978 treaty, the PRC is required to return any North Koreans found without visas or other valid travel documents, but that presumably would not apply in this case.

Reuters (“S.KOREA ENVOY MEETS N.KOREAN DEFECTOR IN CHINA,” Beijing, 2/13/97) reported that Kim Ha-jung, a special adviser to ROK Foreign Minister Yoo Chong-ha, arrived in Beijing Thursday to try to resolve the problem of how to get DPRK defector Hwang Jang-yop from the PRC to the ROK. ROK sources said that Kim met with Hwang in the consular office, but no other details were available. However, ROK embassy officials said that PRC officials, possibly angered at their predicament in the ROK’s latest conflict with the DPRK, had avoided meeting with Kim. “Regarding the transit through Beijing by Hwang Jang-yop, we were not notified in advance,” a PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman said, in a signal of the PRC’s anger. Meanwhile, Yoo was to meet his PRC counterpart Qian Qichen in Singapore on Friday morning at 9 a.m. (0100 GMT) to discuss the diplomatic crisis. Previously, low-profile DPRK defectors have made their way quietly through the PRC, apparently after making contact with the ROK embassy. While the ROK had not publicly announced such defectors until they were out of the PRC, it announced Hwang’s defection on Wednesday after he arrived at the Beijing embassy.

Reuters (“DEFECTOR CRISIS A NO-WIN SITUATION FOR CHINA,” Beijing, 2/13/97) reported that the PRC sees itself as caught in a no-win situation in the ROK-DPRK dispute over the defection of Hwang Jang-yop to the ROK embassy in Beijing. “Whatever way they (the Chinese) play it … it’s impossible to keep both Koreas happy,” one Western diplomat said. Diplomats said they saw little opportunity for Beijing to settle the row taking place in its front yard without disappointing the DPRK, one of the PRC’s few remaining socialist allies, because if the ROK can convince the PRC that Hwang sought asylum of his own free will and was not kidnapped, the PRC will have little choice but to allow the defector to leave for the ROK. “The inevitable outcome is that the guy will end up in Seoul. I can’t see any way around it,” a second diplomat said. Diplomats said they expected some tough negotiations on the crisis, with Hwang possibly locked inside the ROK compound for some time. “They’ll have to find some face-saving way to resolve the problem,” the second diplomat said. “They (the PRC) turned a blind eye in the past to defections through China and that may become a lot more difficult from now on,” he said.

1b. Hwang Defection: Embassy Events

The Associated Press (Charles Hutzler, “POLICE PROTECT N. KOREA DEFECTOR,” Beijing, 2/13/97) and Reuters (“S.KOREA ENVOY MEETS N.KOREAN DEFECTOR IN CHINA,” Beijing, 2/13/97) reported that PRC police on Thursday widened their security zone around the ROK embassy in Beijing after a challenge by DPRK nationals raised fears of an attempt to kidnap DPRK defector Hwang Jang-yop. Witnesses outside the embassy said that on Thursday night, a dozen DPRK nationals walked up to police lines and were turned away when they tried to go past. Following the encounter, police ordered reporters and the DPRK nationals to move a block away from the three-story building in a diplomatic district. The DPRK nationals, mostly in suits and ties, had been waiting outside the office tower block housing the DPRK embassy. None believed Hwang actually had defected. A DPRK embassy official who gave his Chinese name, Zhao Riqing, said: “He’s a secretary in the Central Committee. He’s worked his whole life for our country. Now he’s given everything up. That’s why I say it’s not possible. I don’t believe it.” Other DPRK diplomats sat in parked cars outside the consular compound, watching the embassy from behind the police cordons. Wednesday night, ten DPRK nationals tried to enter the building and others tried to chase ROK diplomats driving home, prompting the ROK to request that the PRC ensure security. ROK embassy spokesman Chang Moon-ik told reporters, “Last night, North Korean people who we believe were from the embassy tried to enter our consular section. We have asked the Chinese government to protect our embassy compound … against North Koreans and any unexpected (incidents).” However, whether Hwang actually remained in the building was not known.

1c. Hwang Defection: Hwang’s Statements

The Associated Press (Charles Hutzler, “POLICE PROTECT N. KOREA DEFECTOR,” Beijing, 2/13/97) reported that the ROK government released a three page statement in which Hwang said: “After a long period of agonizing deliberation, I have decided to leave the North and have a broader discussion with South Korean authorities about how to save our nation from misery.” “I only hope that I could help the two Koreas make peace and reunite,” Hwang’s statement said. Hwang said he did not believe the DPRK would collapse, despite widespread food shortages and a crumbling economy. While acknowledging that his “family and others will think me crazy,” Hwang asked: “Is it the action of sane people to call each other enemies and talk of turning the other into a sea of fire?” “Can we call people sane when they talk of having built a utopia for the workers and the farmers when the workers and farmers are starving?” the statement asked.

The AP-Dow Jones News Service (“N.KOREA DEFECTOR SAYS HE’S FED UP WITH DICTATORSHIP – REPORT,” Seoul, 2/13/97) and Reuters (“A Squabble over N. Korean Defector’s Fate,” Seoul, 2/13/97) reported that The Chosun Ilbo, a major ROK national daily, said it received a handwritten statement in January from DPRK defector Hwang Jang-yop indicating that he is seeking asylum in the ROK because he’s fed up with the growing dictatorship in the DPRK under de facto leader Kim Jong-il. “Today’s North Korea has nothing to do with socialism,” the newspaper quoted Hwang as saying. “How can a society of people, workers, farmers and intelligentsia dying of hunger be called socialist?” the letter said. “In Soviet-style socialism, the dictatorship went too far but there was no hereditary one-man rule.” “After being engrossed in extolling himself as great and a genius, the great leader has come to believe that he is really great and a genius,” Hwang’s statement said. The letter added that “every North Korean move is in preparation for war.” The Chosun Ilbo said it obtained the statement from a ROK businessman in Beijing who had been in secret contact for months with Hwang’s aide, who also was based in Beijing as a trader and who defected with Hwang. [Ed. note: At this time the authenticity of this letter is not certain.]

1d. Hwang Defection: DPRK View

United Press International (“N. KOREA DENIES DEFECTOR SEEKS ASYLUM,” Tokyo, 2/13/97) reported that the DPRK on Thursday continued to deny that Hwang Jang-yop had sought political asylum in the ROK embassy in Beijing. The DPRK’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), quoting the DPRK’s Foreign Ministry, said that if Hwang is indeed in the ROK embassy, it is “an obvious case of an abduction on the part of an enemy.” Meanwhile, ROK Information Minister Oh In-hwan trumpeted the defection as “a symbolic incident heralding the end of the Pyongyang regime’s ideology.”

1e. Hwang Defection: Background

The Associated Press (Renee Schoof, “KOREAS MANEUVER OVER DEFECTOR,” Beijing, 2/13/97) reported that DPRK defector Hwang Jang-yop was traveling home through Beijing from a DPRK-sponsored international seminar in Japan when he sought asylum in the ROK embassy. Hwang is believed to be a cousin of the late Kim Il-sung, who ruled the DPRK until his death in 1994. Hwang studied communist ideology in Moscow in 1948 to 1952, taught philosophy at Kim Il-sung University and later served as the university’s president. Hwang is known as a key theoretician behind the country’s “Juche” ideology of self-reliance, and is ranked 24th in the DPRK’s power hierarchy by ROK officials. The defection would be a huge embarrassment for the DPRK, particularly as it prepares for festivities Sunday celebrating the 55th birthday of Kim Jong-il, Kim Il-sung’s son and successor.

1f. Hwang Defection: Japan Prime Minister’s Statement

Reuters (“A Squabble over N. Korean Defector’s Fate,” Seoul, 2/13/97) reported that Japan’s Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto said that DPRK defector Hwang Jang-yop was apparently a marked man when he was in Tokyo this month for a conference on “Juche,” the DPRK’s fanatical doctrine of self-reliance that Hwang helped author. Hashimoto told reporters that Hwang’s bodyguards may have been tipped off to his escape plans. “On his departure, North Korean guards were tightly huddled two meters all around Hwang as if they knew he intended to defect,” Hashimoto said.

1g. Hwang Defection: Implications

The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition (Steve Glain, “DEFECTION FUELS TALK OF STRAIN IN NORTH KOREA,” Tokyo, 2/13/97) reported that the defection of a senior DPRK official Hwang Jang-yop suggests that cracks in the DPRK’s ruling regime are deeper than many Pyongyang watchers have thought. However, analysts cautioned that the significance of Hwang’s decision to defect hinged on his motivation. Most high-level officials who have defected from the DPRK were chased out after they were accused of a wrongdoing or lost out in a power struggle. The report noted that Hwang’s statement after defecting, released by the ROK government, was rather philosophical and did not say clearly why he fled the DPRK, where he is still respected as a national leader. But if an official with the rank and privileges of Hwang has defected out of general frustration with the DPRK’s failed Stalinist system, analysts said, the reservoir of discontent in Pyongyang may be rising faster than expected. “If it’s just disillusionment, it’s very significant,” said a Western observer in Seoul. “It would be like [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein’s brother-in-law defecting.” Most analysts believe Kim Jong-il has almost completed a thorny transition to power, although that assumption could change in the wake of Hwang’s defection, the report said.

The New York Times (Nicholas D. Kristof, “HIGH NORTH KOREAN OFFICIAL REPORTED TO SEEK ASYLUM,” Tokyo, 2/13/97) reported that if Hwang Jang-yop’s defection is confirmed, it would amount to a spectacular coup for Western intelligence services trying to learn more about the DPRK, one of the most isolated countries in the world. The defection would be a devastating blow to the DPRK and a major signal that even the nation’s top elites are running for cover. Hwang, the top theoretician of the DPRK’s ideology of “Juche,” or self-reliance, would be by far the most senior DPRK leader ever to seek refuge abroad. “Here you have a core member of the regime bailing out,” said a longtime Western intelligence expert. He added that the reported defection, coupled with other signs of disarray, indicate the country’s desperation and possible disintegration down the road. Both Hwang and Kim Duk-hong, the aide who reportedly defected with Hwang, have a wife and four children in Pyongyang. In the past, family members of defectors have often been sent to concentration camps to deter other defections.

1h. Hwang Defection: FAS Press Release

The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) issued a press release (“NORTH KOREAN HWANG SHOULD BE TREATED AS POTENTIAL MEDIATOR NOT DEFECTOR,” Washington, 2/13/97) urging the DPRK to react moderately to Hwang Jang-yop’s apparent defection. The statement suggested that “Hwang could become, in time, a key figure in negotiating improvements in relations” between the two Korean states. The statement quoted FAS president Jeremy J. Stone as saying: “Academician Hwang is more than a high-level defector. … He is considered in North Korea as a Confucian sage and is described there as one who believes that evil should not be answered by evil but by justice and that justice should be tempered by love.” The statement also called on the US and ROK to ask the DPRK “not to retaliate against the family, the political allies and the friends of Hwang for his defection.”

2. DPRK Food Aid

Reuters (“ALBRIGHT ENDORSES FOOD AID FOR NORTH KOREA,” Washington, 2/13/97) reported that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has endorsed U.S. food aid for the DPRK. “We … think that it is important to give some food assistance to North Korea through the World Food Program because instability in North Korea is not to anybody’s advantage,” Albright told a congressional subcommittee Wednesday. The State Department said Tuesday that the US would contribute to the World Food Program’s appeal for US$41.6 million in new food aid. Albright did not say how much aid the US might contribute but experts have said Washington was expected to donate at least US$8.425 million. The ROK was expected to contribute about US$3 million, and Japan about US$6 million. The contributions from all three countries would be roughly the same as last year. US officials have acknowledged that the World Food Program limited its appeal to only a fraction of the DPRK’s needs, estimated at 2.3 million metric tons of foodstuffs. They say it would be impossible for the program to meet all of the DPRK’s needs, and that donations must therefore be supplemented by commercial purchases by Pyongyang. The US has given Minneapolis-based grain giant Cargill Inc. a license to export 500,000 metric tons of foodstuffs to the DPRK, but Pyongyang and the company have been unable to strike a deal on financing.

3. DPRK Nuclear Plant Construction Talks

The AP-Dow Jones News Service (“JAPAN, U.S., S.KOREA WRAP UP NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR AID TALKS,” Tokyo, 2/13/97) reported that officials from Japan, the ROK and the US on Thursday concluded talks on providing new nuclear reactors to the DPRK. The closed working-level meetings, begun Wednesday, covered technical matters involving the activities of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), which is overseeing the construction. A Foreign Ministry official said Thursday’s session lasted all day, and did not touch on non-technical matters such as the reported DPRK official’s defection to the ROK embassy in Beijing. [Ed. note: For further information please see the related item in the US section of the February 11 Daily Report.]

4. ROK Financial Scandal

United Press International (“S.KOREA LAWMAKERS ARRESTED FOR GRAFT,” Seoul, 2/13/97) reported that three ROK lawmakers have been arrested for bribery in a widening probe of graft linked to the collapse of Hanbo Iron and Steel Co., the ROK’s second largest steel maker. The arrests Thursday include Home Affairs Minister Kim Woo-suk, who stepped down after being accused of accepting more than US$230,000. Former Ambassador to the PRC Hwang Byong-tae, who sits on a parliamentary finance and economy committee, was arrested for accepting the same amount, allegedly in return for pressuring creditor banks to extend loans to the financially troubled company. Opposition lawmaker Kwon Roh-kap has also been arrested for accepting almost US$290,000 for silencing parliamentary questions about the company’s finances. The arrests bring to eight the number implicated in the scandal, including Hanbo founder Chung Tae-soo, two bank officials, and two other lawmakers arrested on similar charges of influence-peddling. Hanbo collapsed last month with debts of more than US$5.8 billion, the bulk of which is owed to three main creditor banks which continued to lend to the company despite its debt burden. President Kim Young-sam, whose former close aide is one of the other lawmakers arrested, has ordered a thorough investigation and appointed a new home affairs minister. Chief Prosecutor Choi Byong-kuk says prosecutors have not found evidence to implicate any more politicians, qualifying his statement by saying, “We only deal with illegal acts, not unfair acts.”

II. Republic of Korea

1. Hwang Defection

Hwang Jang-yop, Secretary for International Affairs of the DPRK Labor Party, applied for political sanctuary at the ROK embassy in Beijing on Wednesday. The ROK embassy said that Hwang visited the ROK Counsel Wednesday morning and expressed their desire to go to the ROK. It is known also that one of his associates, Kim Duk-hong, the Vice-chief of the Labor Party Materials Study Office, has also requested asylum. Hwang is currently under protection at the ROK embassy, awaiting consultation with the PRC government for his defection to be realized. The ROK government is also planning to request a review of his exile by the United Nations High Commissioner. Hwang, a vice-minister in the DPRK government, practically controlled DPRK diplomacy and is the highest-ranking member of the DPRK ruling party ever to ask for exile. Hwang had systematized the DPRK’s “juche” ideology, created the Juche Ideology Institute in the seventies; he also worked as chief of the Diplomat’s Committee of the Supreme People’s Council since 1993, and was a tutor of Kim Jung-il, even helping in his succession to the leadership after the death of Kim Il-sung. Hwang visited Japan on January 30 and attended an international seminar held in Tokyo from Friday to Sunday. He stayed in Japan until Tuesday. Chochongryon, a pro-DPRK group based in Japan, put Hwang under strict surveillance, preventing any attempt at exile. It is known that Hwang also made contact with Korean businessmen while staying in Beijing and that he expressed his wish to defect to the ROK Embassy before departing for Japan. Allegedly using the excuse of doing some shopping, Hwang did not board the Pyongyang-bound train scheduled to leave Wednesday. Rumors of his defection circulated last year amid talk about trouble in Hwang’s management of Kim Jung-il’s slush fund, which was under the care a relative of Hwang living in the PRC. (Chosun Ilbo, “HIGH-RANKING NORTH PARTY OFFICIAL DEFECTS TO SOUTH,” Seoul, 02/13/97)

2. DPRK Food Aid

The US and the ROK Tuesday were poised to contribute to a new UN emergency appeal for food aid for the DPRK. The UN World Food Program (WFP) approved Tuesday an emergency appeal for 100 thousand tons of food, valued at US$41.6 million, for the DPRK, said spokesman Mike Ross. Washington, which in recent days has hinted its willingness to participate, edged closer to commitment. A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “I believe the US will make a decision to contribute.” In New York, the ROK’s ambassador to the United Nations, Park Soo-gil, told journalists that his country would contribute to the appeal. US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said Washington was “very carefully studying this request.” The food aid is intended to feed 1.7 million DPRK civilians, including 600 thousand children under five, he said. Last week the DPRK said it had produced only half the food it needs to feed its population because of the severe flooding in the last two years, and pleaded for aid. It was the third straight year that the reclusive Stalinist state has appealed for international food assistance. According to the WFP, food shortages in the DPRK are critical, with state rations in urban areas declining to 100 grams per person per day. Burns, in a veiled allusion to US concerns that the 1.1 million-strong DPRK military might siphon off the aid, said that Washington believes the amount of aid “is within the capacity of the WFP to monitor.” (The Korea Times, “SEOUL, WASH. TO GIVE FOOD AID TO PYONGYANG,” Seoul, 02/13/97)

3. DPRK-Taiwan Nuclear Waste Deal

The ROK government reportedly issued an “ultimatum” to the Taiwanese government regarding its plans to ship nuclear waste to the DPRK. A ROK government official said yesterday, “Through diplomatic channels, we revealed our position that diplomatic counter-measures will be inevitable if the Taiwanese government does not revise its plans to introduce nuclear waste into North Korea.” He added, “Although the term ‘ultimatum’ was not actually used, the meaning was clearly there.” The ROK government is reviewing multilateral means of applying pressure on Taiwan and will reportedly mobilize international opinion to totally alienate Taiwan from international society if Taiwan goes ahead with its plans. (Joong-ang Ilbo, “GOV’T ISSUES ULTIMATUM TO TAIWAN OVER ITS PLANS TO EXPORT NUCLEAR WASTE TO THE NORTH,” Seoul, 02/13/97)

The ROK and the US agreed Tuesday to have close consultations to resolve the problem of Taiwan’s proposed shipment of nuclear waste to the DPRK. ROK Chief Presidential Secretary for Diplomacy and Foreign Affairs Ban Ki-moon explained to US Defense Secretary William Cohen that Taiwan’s move is an issue that is directly linked with the security of the entire Northeast Asian region. The ROK official asked for Washington’s active cooperation in preventing the nuclear waste from entering the Korean peninsula. Doubting the DPRK’s capability to store nuclear waste, he said that under such circumstances, introduction of the waste into the DPRK could cause inter-Korean tension and ruffle relations between the ROK and Taiwan. This would run counter to US interests in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific, Ban was quoted as saying. Ban took up the issue again in his talks with US National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, who said that Washington understands Seoul’s concerns and will consult with Taipei. A group of ROK lawmakers was on a separate mission in Washington where they met with US House Speaker Newt Gingrich, asking for the cooperation of the US Congress in resolving the matter. The delegation also met Kenneth Baker, director of nonproliferation at the US Department of Energy, and Charles Kartman, deputy assistant Secretary of State, on Wednesday. The lawmakers are scheduled to see UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to seek cooperation from the world body as well. (The Korea Times, “US TO COOPERATE IN DETERRING N-WASTE SHIPMENT TO NK,” Seoul, 02/13/97)

4. DPRK Nuclear Plant Construction Talks

Officials from the governments of Japan, the ROK and the US began talks Wednesday on how to provide the DPRK with safe nuclear reactors. The working-level meeting, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, is aimed at discussing technicalities involving the Korea Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), said a US embassy official. He refused to disclose any other details. Earlier this week, the ROK Foreign Ministry said the talks will focus on issues that include the participation of the European Union in the international consortium that will build the two light-water reactors in the DPRK. Officials will also discuss the dispatching of a survey team expected later this month. (The Korea times, “KOREA, US, JAPAN DISCUSS SAFE N-REACTORS IN NK,” Seoul, 02/13/97)

While a working-level group from the three-member Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) was meeting in Tokyo Thursday, the ROK’s Office of the Light-Water Nuclear Reactor (LWR) Project said Wednesday that the survey team for the seventh site will be going to Pyonygyang on February 22. The 30-man team, which will conduct a five-month long study of the Sinpo site’s earthquake durability, will enter the DPRK via Beijing. (The Korea Herald, “SITE SURVEY TEAM TO GO TO THE DPRK FEBRUARY 22,” Seoul, 02/12/97)

5. First Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM)

Foreign Minister Yoo Chong-ha will attend the ministerial conference of the 25-member Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), which is scheduled to open in Singapore on Friday for a two-day run. During the ministerial conference, Yoo will seek support from other participants for Seoul’s proposal to launch the Asia-Europe Vision Group in time for the next ASEM summit planned for London in 1998. The Vision Group, which will be comprised of eminent figures from each of the 25 ASEM members, is designed to recommend measures to strengthen Asia-Europe cooperation. Yoo will also ask participants at the conference for their support in keeping Taiwan from shipping nuclear waste to the DPRK and for the light-water reactor project in the DPRK. During the two-day conference, the 25 ASEM ministers and the European Commission vice president will discuss preparations for the 1998 summit, future direction of the ASEM and other international and regional issues. In addition to the meeting, Yoo plans to hold bilateral talks with his counterparts from the PRC, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, the Netherlands, France, Italy, Spain and Austria, a ROK foreign ministry official said yesterday. (The Korea Herald, “YOO TO LEAVE FOR ASEM CONFERENCE TODAY,” Seoul, 02/12/97)

6. Russian Nuclear Policy

The Russian national security chief, Ivan Rybkin, said in an interview published Tuesday, that Russia reserves the right to use nuclear weapons to defend itself, even if its attacker is using conventional arms. Other officials hurried to play down Rybkin’s comments and several prominent members of parliament were highly critical. One Communist leader said Rybkin had displayed a “shallow” understanding of security affairs. Presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky told reporters that since “strategic” policy is made only by the president, the premier, and the foreign minister, “All other opinions are private ones, regardless of what post the person holds.” However, Rybkin’s comments reflect the growing anxiety about Russia’s place in the post-Cold War world, anxiety which is caused by the crisis in Russia’s military and NATO’s eastward expansion. Rybkin’s comments come hard on the heels of warnings by Russia’s defense minister that budget cuts are endangering control of the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Rybkin said in his interview that the poor state of Russia’s conventional armed forces makes nuclear weapons all the more important. (The Korea Times, “RUSSIA MIGHT USE N-WEAPONS AGAINST CONVENTIONAL ARMS,” Seoul, 02/13/97)

7. Russian Arms Sale to Vietnam

Russia is winding up talks with Vietnam on the sale of Su-27 jet fighters, the Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday. The report cited a source in the company that makes the fighters, but did not give the source’s name. It said the source would not reveal details of the deal. Russia has been aggressively marketing its weapons abroad in a bid to recapture the Soviet Union’s share of the world arms market and earn badly needed hard currency. It has concluded several lucrative deals recently, including the sale of advanced Su-30 jet fighters to India, along with the technology to make more. (The Korea Times, “RUSSIA NEGOTIATING SU-27 JET FIGHTER SALE WITH VIETNAM,” Seoul, 02/13/97)

8. Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

The United Nations announced Tuesday that 141 nations, including the five nuclear powers and the ROK, have subscribed to the comprehensive test ban treaty, a landmark agreement for nuclear arms reduction. However, the treaty will not go into effect until India, Pakistan and the DPRK sign it. India has maintained that it cannot subscribe to the treaty because it does not specify the dates for complete nuclear arms elimination by the five nuclear powers. Pakistan also says it will not endorse the treaty as long as India does not sign it. The DPRK did not attend the UN General Assembly meeting last year where the treaty was adopted. The world body called on the three nations to subscribe to the treaty, so that the treaty can go into effect. (The Korea Times, “141 NATIONS SIGN UN N-TEST BAN TREATY,” Seoul, 02/13/97)

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

Hiroyasu Akutsu: akutsu@glocomnet.or.jp
Tokyo, Japan

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http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/inatl/asia.htm
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http://interactive5.wsj.com/edition/current/summaries/asia.htm
http://www.latimes.com/HOME/NEWS/
http://cnn.com/WORLD/index.html
http://www.usia.gov/products/washfile.htm
http://www.un.org/News/
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Wade Huntley: napsnet@nautilus.org
Berkeley, California, United States

Shin Dong-bom: gator@star.elim.co.kr
Seoul, Republic of Korea

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

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

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

Hiroyasu Akutsu: akutsu@glocomnet.or.jp
Tokyo, Japan

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