NAPSNet Daily Report 14 April, 2008
Contents in this Issue:
- I. Napsnet
- 1. DPRK Nuclear Program
- 2. ROK on DPRK Nuclear Program
- 3. DPRK Missile Tests
- 4. DPRK Defectors
- 5. DPRK Tourism
- 6. ROK-US Relations
- 7. US-ROK Security Alliance
- 8. US-ROK Free Trade Agreement
- 9. Bird Flu in ROK
- 10. Cross Strait Relations
- 11. Cross Strait Relations
- 12. Tibetan Unrest
- 13. Japan-Russia Territorial Dispute
- 14. US Military in Japan
- 15. Japan Whaling Issue
- II. ROK Report
1. DPRK Nuclear Program
Chosun Ilbo (“WASHINGTON GREETS DEAL WITH N. KOREA WITH SKEPTICISM”, Seoul, 2008/04/14) reported that some U.S. government officials and congressmen have expressed opposition to a tentative deal reached with the DPRK in Singapore last week. One deputy secretary in the Bush administration says the Singapore deal does not clearly specify Pyongyang’s proliferation record and uranium enrichment program. Radio Free Asia reports that when U.S. chief nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill briefed the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs on the deal last Thursday, “Congressmen expressed displeasure when Hill said that the U.S. and North Korea agreed to exchange a secret memorandum of understanding on the U.S. making a report on North Korea’s nuclear cooperation with Syria and the alleged uranium enrichment program on the latter’s behalf and North Korea agreeing to ‘acknowledge’ the U.S. concern over the two issues.”.
2. ROK on DPRK Nuclear Program
Associated Press (“SKOREA TO NORTH: DROP NUCLEAR PROGRAM”, Seoul, 2008/04/13) reported that ROK President Lee Myung-bak renewed his call Sunday for the DPRK to scrap its nuclear weapons programs. The ROK wants to persuade the DPRK that abandoning its nuclear programs “is in its interest,” Lee said in a news conference ahead of his trip to the United States. Lee also said the ROK is prepared for talks with the DPRK if they help to resolve the DPRK’s nuclear impasse and improve the livelihood of DPRK citizens. “The door is open,” Lee said.
Joongang Ilbo (Jung Ha-won, “LEE LASHES NORTH FOR SIDESTEPPING SEOUL IN TALKS”, Seoul, 2008/04/14) reported that ROK President Lee Myung-bak said Sunday that he will not allow Pyongyang to sidestep Seoul in its nuclear negotiations with Washington. “The North has long had a strategy to go around the South and directly talk to the United States, but such strategy could never work,” Lee said. “Details of the agreement made in Singapore have not been revealed, and the U.S. has yet to make an official announcement. I would like to make clear that North Korea’s tactic to cut out South Korea and talk to the U.S. only can neither work nor will it ever work,” he said.
3. DPRK Missile Tests
Chosun Ilbo (“‘SIGNS OF ACTIVITY’ AT N. KOREAN MISSILE LAUNCH SITE”, Seoul, 2008/04/14) reported that U.S. military authorities have been closely watching since spotting signs of lively activity at a missile launch site in the DPRK. “The activity has prompted concerns Pyongyang is planning a new round of ballistic missile tests of either medium or longer range missiles,” the unnamed US officers were quoted as saying. But CNN added, “The activity is in its early stages and it’s not yet possible to determine what the North Koreans are doing.”
4. DPRK Defectors
Associated Press (Kwang-tae Kim, “3 NKOREANS LEAVE FOR ASYLUM IN US”, Seoul, 2008/04/14) reported that three DPRK defectors left Thailand for the United States early Monday, becoming the latest refugees accepted by Washington under a 2004 law, officials said. The Rev. Chun Ki-won, head of the Seoul-based missionary group Durihana Mission, said the three were among 29 DPRK refugees who launched a hunger strike in a DPRK detention center last week to press their demand for asylum in the United States.
Los Angeles Times (Barbara Demick, “CHILDREN OF NORTH KOREAN WOMEN IN CHINA FACE HURDLES, RIGHTS GROUP SAYS”, Beijing, 2008/04/14) reported that thousands of children in the PRC unable to attend school or obtain the privileges of citizenship because their mothers are DPRK refugees, Human Rights Watch said Sunday. The numbers of affected children may reach the tens of thousands, Human Rights Watch said in its report. “For a half-Chinese, half-North Korean child, you must obtain a police document verifying the mother’s arrest or another form that you fill out explaining that the mother ran away. You also need signatures of three witnesses,” the father of an 8-year-old girl told Human Rights Watch researchers. The father also said officials expect a bribe to register a child with a DPRK mother, even if the mother is no longer around.
5. DPRK Tourism
Yonhap (“WESTERNERS FLOCK TO N.KOREA FOR TOURISM DESPITE RISING TENSIONS”, Seoul, 2008/04/13) reported that sightseeing in the DPRK is still popular among foreigners despite rising tensions, Radio Free Asia said Sunday. Over 30 tourists from Britain, France and Germany will fly to Pyongyang this week for package tours of four to six days organized on the 100th birthday of the DPRK’s late leader Kim Il-sung, (RFA) quoted a spokesman for Koryo Tour, a tour agency based in Beijing, as saying. The spokesman said tour programs on Labor Day, May 1, are also popular among Europeans, adding that more Westerners are usually ready to pay for a tour of the DPRK when the Arirang mass gymnastics festival is held around Sept. 9.
6. ROK-US Relations
Agence France-Presse (Simon Martin, “SKOREA HOPES TO STRENGTHEN ‘BEDROCK’ ALLIANCE IN US SUMMIT”, Seoul, 2008/04/13) reported that ROK President Lee Myung-bak’s top diplomatic priority is the advancement of ROK-US alliance, according to a government briefing paper, which terms it the “bedrock for peace and prosperity” in the ROK and the region. “We want to broaden the scope, depth and horizon of relations. We have high expectations for the visit” of Lee to the US this week, a senior ROK presidential official told reporters last week. Lee said Sunday his visits to the US and then Japan “will be a first step towards the pragmatism in diplomacy that the new government pursues.”
Korea Times (Jung Sung-ki, “SUMMIT TO TEST KOREA-US ALLIANCE”, Seoul, 2008/04/14) reported that Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Yu Myung-hwan said Monday that issues such as Seoul’s redeployment of troops to Afghanistan, an increase in host-nation financial contribution for the presence of U.S. troops, opening up to U.S. beef imports and participation in the U.S.-led global ballistic missile defense network were old ones that have long been discussed but unresolved. “Those issues are not ones raised just on the occasion of this summit,” Yu said in a news conference in Seoul. “The two sides have discussed the issues for a long time, so it’s wrong to say the U.S. is suddenly making demands.”
7. US-ROK Security Alliance
Korea Herald (Jin Dae-woong, “USFK CHIEF RESTATES STRONG ALLIANCE”, Seoul, 2008/04/14) reported that Gen. Burwell Bell, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, on Monday reaffirmed that the ROK’s recovery of wartime operational control of its armed forces from the U.S. military will help further strengthen the bilateral alliance.”Throughout this transition period, the ROK-US Alliance will grow even stronger, and will continue to deliver on the security needs of both nations. It will retain an overwhelming joint and combined military capability to effectively deter, and if necessary defeat any attack, then end the fighting on terms established by the alliance,” Bell said in a key-note speech at the opening of 14th ROK-U.S. Defense Analysis Seminar. “The United States will remain a reliable and trusted military ally, and fight by Korea’s side in any confrontation with any aggressor. While our command and control relationships will change, what will not change, by any measure, is the foundation of our Alliance – The ROK-US Mutual Defense Treaty,” Bell said.
8. US-ROK Free Trade Agreement
Yonhap (Shin Hae-in, “RULING PARTY VOWS PROMPT RATIFICATION OF KOREA-U.S. FTA”, Seoul, 2008/04/14) reported that after securing a majority in the National Assembly via last week’s elections, the Grand National Party has been pushing to open an extraordinary parliamentary session next month to settle several bills including the motion to ratify the ROK-U.S. free trade deal. “We must open a May assembly session and vote on the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement and other bills,” GNP spokeswoman Cho Yoon-sun said Monday. “We plan to review damages expected from settlement of the deal and set up countermeasures within this month.”
9. Bird Flu in ROK
Associated Press (“BIRD FLU CASE CAUSED BY DEADLY STRAIN”, Seol, 2008/04/13) reported that the ROK government confirmed a fourth outbreak of the H5N1 bird flu virus in the country’s southwest Sunday, as the tally of birds slaughtered to control the spread of the disease rose to 1.3 million. Quarantine workers have slaughtered 470,000 chickens and ducks at 20 farms within a 1.8 mile radius of the site of the latest outbreak, according to Ryu Chul-hyuk, an official of the South Jeolla provincial government.
Korea Times (Bae Ji-sook, “BIRD FLU SPREADS, TAKES NEW PATTERN”, Seoul, 2008/04/14) reported that experts studying several outbreaks of the bird flu in the ROK since first reported on April 2 said this time, the outbreak has seen very different patterns from before. According to governmental reports, the flu appeared to be spread in cold weather by migratory birds The suitable environment for the virus to infect poultry, especially chickens, was mainly November through to March when temperatures were below 4 degrees Celsius, they said. However, the initial outbreak this year occurred in April, which means the highly contagious flu had appeared in warmer days with summer time approaching.
10. Cross Strait Relations
Associated Press (William Foreman, “CHINA-TAIWAN TIES IN NEW ERA”, Boao, 2008/04/13) reported that on Saturday Taiwanese Vice President-elect Vincent Siew met with PRC President Hu Jintao. Siew said the exchange was “friendly,” and Hu had personally escorted him from the room after the dinner — a gesture of great respect in China. Hu welcomed Siew’s economic proposals and was inspired to “think deep” about relations with Taiwan, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday. Washington praised the gathering, with Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte calling it a “good way forward.” Former Secretary Colin Powell, who attended the conference, said the rivals were “at the beginning of a new phase in relations.”
11. Cross Strait Relations
Agence France-Presse (Benjamin Yeh, “TAIWAN-CHINA MEET BEGINS TO ‘THAW THE ICE’: PRESIDENT-ELECT”, Seoul, 2008/04/14) reported that weekend talks have started to “thaw the ice” in ties between the PRC and Taiwan, the island’s incoming president Ma Ying-jeou said Monday. “We’ll push for the reopening of cross-strait negotiations after May 20,” said Ma, speaking of his inauguration date. “Thanks to the Boao meeting, some of the barriers for the resumption of talks have been removed,” he said. “The mainland authorities displayed goodwill at the forum.”
12. Tibetan Unrest
Associated Press (Henry Sanderson, “9 MONKS ACCUSED OF BOMBING IN TIBET”, Beijing, 2008/04/13) reported that the PRC has detained nine Buddhist monks and accused them of planting a homemade bomb last month in a government office building in eastern Tibet, an official said Sunday. There were no known deaths or damage from the first reported bombing since anti-government protests by monks began March 10 in Lhasa. The official Xinhua News Agency said the monks from the Tongxia monastery fled after a bomb exploded in Gyanbe township on March 23. They later confessed to planting the explosive, Xinhua said.
New York Times (William Yardley, “DALAI LAMA SAYS HIS AIDES ARE TALKING TO CHINA”, Seattle, 2008/04/14) reported that the Dalai Lama said Sunday that “some efforts” at diplomacy were under way between his representatives and those of the PRC government. “Just a few days these are going on,” the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, said of the discussions. He said it was unclear what the talks might yield.
13. Japan-Russia Territorial Dispute
Agence France-Presse (“STRIDES IN SETTLING JAPAN-RUSSIA ISLAND DISPUTE KEY: MINISTER”, Moscow, 2008/04/14) reported that concrete progress in negotiations with Russia over the Kuril Islands/Northern Territories territorial dispute are indispensable, Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura told Interfax News Agency Sunday ahead of talks on the question. “So far as talks on concluding a peace treaty are concerned … we can see no change. We hope in tomorrow’s meeting our ministers … will at least start a process of negotiating a peace treaty,” he added of talks Monday with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.
14. US Military in Japan
Kyodo (“OKINAWA LOBBIES TOKYO, U.S. IN FIGHT AGAINST U.S. SOLDIERS’ CRIMES”, Tokyo, 2008/04/14) reported that a group of disparate Okinawan organizations including city and town mayors of the prefecture visited Tokyo on Monday to convey their grievances over the bilateral accord governing the handling of U.S. soldiers and civilians who have committed crimes in Japan. The groups comprising some 70 people called for a drastic revision of the current bilateral accord, or the Status of Forces Agreement, known as SOFA, at the U.S. Embassy and the prime minister’s office, based on a resolution adopted at a rally in the prefecture in March.
15. Japan Whaling Issue
Associated Press (Chisaki Watanabe, “JAPAN FALLS SHORT OF WHALING TARGET”, Tokyo, 2008/04/14) reported that clashes with animal rights groups and fewer whale sightings forced Japan’s whaling fleet to head home from the Antarctic with only 55 percent of its 985-whale hunting target, the government said Monday. “We did not have enough time for research because we had to avoid sabotage,” Japan’s Fisheries Agency said in a statement Monday.
II. ROK Report
16. DPRK Nuclear Problem
Yonhap (“BACKGROUND FOR DPRK NUCLEAR REPORT: ‘UEP DETOUR'”, 2008/04/14) reported that the US, which demanded that the DPRK confess to an HEU program, is now promoting a very low-level detour agreement of the DPRK indirectly admitting the uranium enrichment issue. Diplomats interpret that the US’s internal issue of the presidential election has caused this situation. There are also suggestions that the US is trying to come up with a basis for distrust on HEU by making the DPRK at least admit it indirectly. Obviously, some show their dissatisfaction over the Singapore meeting and are protesting against the DPRK being removed from the terrorist-supporting nation list.
17. Inter-Korean Relations
The Peace Foundation (Baek Seung-Joo, “PROSPECTS AND HOPE FOR INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS AFTER GENERAL ELECTION”, 2008/04/15) carried an article by a researcher at the Korean Institute of Defense Analysis, who wrote that the DPRK must accept the political geography of conservative spectrum that ROK citizens have chosen as an uncontrollable fact, and under the principle of not interfering with each other’s domestic administration, respect it. The ROK government should also accept the decision of the DPRK as an uncontrollable political setting. The ROK government should set up stages—fulfillment of the phase two agreement, evaluation by IAEA, progress in phase three of the six-party talk—and display flexibility by proposing policies that can be done through many steps and policies to be postponed. Also, even though there might be slight loss, “the agreement items” should be charted in priority order under the condition of fulfillment. Hopes for future inter-Korean relations are not “interruption or mutation,” but “continuum and evolution.”