NAPSNet Daily Report 14 November, 1997

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"NAPSNet Daily Report 14 November, 1997", NAPSNet Daily Report, November 14, 1997,


I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

III. Japan

I. United States

1. Four-Party Peace Talks

Reuters (Bill Tarrant, “PRELIMINARY KOREA PEACE TALKS SET TO RESUME,” Seoul, 11/14/97) and the AP-Dow Jones News Service (“KOREAN PRELIMINARY PEACE TALKS TO RESUME NEXT WK – OFFICIAL,” Seoul, 11/14/97) reported that Lee Kyu-hyung, spokesman for the ROK Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Friday that preliminary talks to lay the groundwork for a permanent peace on the Korean peninsula will resume in New York on November 21. Lee connected the DPRK’s decision to resume talks with Kim Jong-il’s recent assumption of the post of General Secretary of the DPRK Workers’ Party, saying, “This could be a kind of achievement by the new leader to have four party talks.” He added, “And if they can get a great amount of food out of it that could be another achievement for the new great leader.” Lee cautioned, though, that “it is not clear yet whether [DPRK officials] have withdrawn their insistence on putting the withdrawal of U.S. troops on the agenda for the plenary session. If they haven’t, then there’s no point to these [preliminary] talks.” However, the ROK cable network Yonhap TV quoted an unidentified Foreign Ministry official as saying that the DPRK dropped the demands for US troop withdrawal and massive food aid in an informal contact with the US earlier this week. Lee stated that, if the New York talks are successful, four-party plenary peace negotiations would begin in Geneva, possibly on December 15. He argued that the Geneva peace talks should begin before the ROK presidential election on December 18, adding that the election could be part of the DPRK’s motivation for resuming the talks. “If the four-party plenary negotiations get started then there would probably be some sort of obligation or responsibility by the new president to the talks that convened before his election,” Lee said.

US State Department spokesman James Rubin (“STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING,” Washington, USIA Transcript, 11/13/97) confirmed that a working level meeting among the US, the ROK, the PRC, and the DPRK was held in New York on November 10. He said that US negotiators are “increasingly optimistic that we will be able to put together that plenary session next month, but it’s not done yet.”

2. Japan-DPRK Normalization Talks

The AP-Dow Jones News Service (“NORTH KOREA WILLING TO LOOK INTO ALLEGED KIDNAPPINGS,” Seoul, 11/14/97) reported that on Friday, delegations of Japan’s ruling coalition and the DPRK Workers Party completed three days of talks in Pyongyang aimed at normalizing diplomatic ties. In a joint communique carried by the DPRK’s official Korean Central News Agency, the delegates “agreed to exercise the parties’ influence to promote the reopening of the ninth round of the full-fledged inter-governmental talks as early as possible.” The communique quoted the chairman of the DPRK’s Korea-Japan Friendship Association as saying that an alleged kidnapping of a Japanese girl by DPRK agents was faked, but the DPRK “may make an investigation into the case along with the investigation into the issues of other missing persons.” It added, “The Korean side expressed the willingness to continue allowing Japanese wives in Korea to visit their hometowns.”

3. Japanese-Russian Relations

The Associated Press (“ASIA NEWS BRIEFS,” Tokyo, 11/14/97) reported that a Japanese official said that Japanese Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov on Friday reaffirmed their governments’ pledge to sign a peace treaty and agreed to high-level talks on the issue before Russian President Boris Yeltsin visits Tokyo in April. The meeting followed an agreement earlier this month between Yeltsin and Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto to work toward reaching a peace pact to formally end World War II-era hostilities by the year 2000.

4. US Attitudes toward Nuclear Disarmament

The Committee on Nuclear Policy at the Henry L. Stimson Center (“PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR REDUCING NUCLEAR ARSENALS,” Washington, 11/10/97) released a poll on the attitude of US citizens toward nuclear disarmament. Twenty-four percent of voters surveyed said that reducing the threat of nuclear war would be the most important legacy which US President Bill Clinton could leave. Asked about specific measures for reducing the threat of nuclear war, eighty-five percent of respondents supported increasing security at nuclear sites around the world, eighty-one percent approved of the US assisting Russia to dismantle its nuclear weapons, sixty-six percent favored taking nuclear forces off their current high-alert status, and sixty-six percent also approved reducing all nations’ nuclear arsenals down to a few hundred each. Thirty-six percent of those polled said that the goal of the US should be to eliminate nuclear weapons worldwide, while thirty-three percent said the goal should be to reduce the total number of nuclear weapons. While three-quarters of respondents said that the world would be a safer place without nuclear weapons, fifty-six percent also believed that nuclear weapons improve national security. Eighty percent expressed support for a “verifiable and enforceable international agreement to eliminate nuclear weapons,” but eighty-two percent thought it unlikely that other countries would abide by such a treaty.

II. Republic of Korea

1. DPRK Defector

DPRK defector Hwang Jang-yop, at a meeting of the Advisory Council on Democratic and Peaceful Unification held this week, said that economic failure is prompting the collapse of the DPRK regime and that this could lead to a revolt in the near future. He also claimed that the DPRK’s war industry will be paralyzed in a few years because two thousand industry specialists died of hunger in 1995, adding that about half of the workers at munitions factories in the DPRK stay home due to hunger. Hwang said that morale has plummeted in the DPRK military, and even the elite members of the military and government, who receive special rations, have indulged in acts of thievery. He said that the DPRK’s top diplomatic priority is to improve relations with Japan rather than with the US. The DPRK is now focusing on diplomatic deals with the US only in the hope of removing US objections to normalization of ties between Japan and the DPRK, Hwang said. The DPRK wants to get compensation for Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula and money from pro-DPRK Koreans in Japan, he stated. He added that DPRK leader Kim Jong-il does not want US diplomatic representation in his country. (Korea Herald, “DEFECTOR SAYS CONDITIONS IN NORTH COULD SPARK REVOLT,” 11/14/97)

2. Four-party Peace Talks

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Wednesday expressed hope that the four-party peace talks on the Korean peninsula will begin next month. In a luncheon meeting with wives of US military officers, Albright said, “these (four-way) talks have been slow to get off the ground. A series of preliminary meetings have set the stage for plenary discussion which we hope will begin next month.” Her remarks came after delegations of the four countries–the ROK, the DPRK, the US, and the PRC–met in New York Monday. The four parties reportedly will meet again within a week in New York to negotiate holding the first plenary talks next month in Geneva, Switzerland. Albright added, “these so-called four-party talks are important, not because we expect dramatic early results, but because the dangers of miscalculation in that part of the world are extremely serious.” James Rubin, spokesman for the State Department, also said that the US is trying to hold the plenary talks as soon as possible. In a daily press briefing, Rubin said, “as we said in late October, the North Koreans have indicated a willingness to proceed.” Asked to confirm Albright’s statement on holding the talks next month, he said, “her expectation, we hope, will be met by the work that is done through these working-level contracts in New York.” (Korea Times, “ALBRIGHT HOPES FOR FULL-SCALE KOREAN PEACE TALKS IN DECEMBER,” 11/14/97)

3. ROK Arms Development

The ROK Ministry of Defense said yesterday that it has approved development by Daewoo Heavy Industries of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Daewoo started exploratory research and development in 1989 and will finish engineering the prototype by the year 2000, when it hopes to begin production of the pilotless aircraft, a ministry spokesman said. The UAV, equipped with infrared radar and state-of-the-art equipment, would be able to collect sensitive security data at any time. All the Army corps would receive a UAV to increase their reconnaissance and intelligence capabilities, the ministry spokesman said. (Korea Herald, “UNMANNED RECONNAISSANCE AIRCRAFT TO BE DEVELOPED,” 11/14/97)

4. ROK Arms Procurement

The ROK has selected Eurocopter, a German-French firm, as the foreign contractor for the US$110 million (110 billion-won) light combat helicopter project, the ROK defense ministry announced yesterday. Under the contract, Daewoo Heavy Industries will build twelve BO-105 light combat helicopters with technological assistance from Eurocopter, a joint venture between Germany’s Daimler-Benz and France’s Aerospatiale. Daewoo Heavy Industries is also now the main contractor in a submarine construction project, which calls for nine 1,200-ton submarines. (Korea Herald, Lee Sung-yul, “ROK TO BUY COMBAT HELICOPTERS FROM EUROPE,” 11/14/97)

5. Russian Arms Sales

Russian Foreign Economic Relations Minister Mikhail Fradov said Wednesday that Russia is the world’s second biggest arms exporter, accounting for about 20 percent of the global market. “Russian arms exports rose to US$3.6 billion [in 1996], which made the country the world’s second largest arms exporter after the US,” said Fradov. Weapons sales leapt by 65 percent in 1995 and a further 18 percent the following year, Fradov said, adding that the government was preparing an overhaul of arms export regulations to further boost sales. However, Fradov noted that Russia held the number two spot only in terms of sales volumes, not foreign exchange receipts, as armament deals were often used to offset debt or involved complex barter arrangements. (Korea Times, “RUSSIA WORLD’S NUMBER TWO ARMS EXPORTER: MINISTER,” 11/14/97)

III. Japan

1. Japan-DPRK Normalization Talks

The Yomiuri Shimbun (“JAPANESE PARTY DELEGATE REFUSES DPRK PROPOSALS,” Pyongyang, 11/14/97) and the Asahi Shimbun (“JAPANESE DELEGATE CANCELS JOINT STATEMENT WITH DPRK, BUT DPRK EMPHASIZES IMPROVING BILATERAL RELATIONS,” Pyongyang, 11/14/97) reported that a Japanese ruling-party delegate on Thursday refused the DPRK Workers’ Party’s three proposals–striving for resumption of Japan-DPRK normalization negotiations, solving humanitarian issues, and broadening bilateral exchanges beyond the political arena. The reason for the refusal was not given, but the refusal means cancellation of the planned agreement between the two sides, according to the Yomiuri article. The article also said that the Workers’ Party included in the humanitarian issues the DPRK’s assistance to the victims of the Hanshin earthquake and Japanese wives’ visits to Japan, but excluded the DPRK’s suspected abduction of Japanese civilians. The article added that a representative of the Workers’ Party said, “Japan should clarify its response to the issue of ‘comfort women’ before it talks about the suspected abduction, which does not really exist.” On the other hand, the Asahi article reported that the Japanese delegate sees the DPRK’s stance toward Japan as softening because the DPRK desperately needs to find a way out of its collapsed economy and severe food shortage, and because the DPRK has found it difficult to remain isolated when the ROK’s relations with the PRC and Russia, Japanese-Russian relations, PRC-Russian relations, and US-PRC relations are all improving.

2. Four-Party Peace Talks

The Yomiuri Shimbun (“THE FOUR-PARTY PEACE TALKS TO RESUME FOR FIRST TIME IN TWO MONTHS,” Washington, 11/14/97) reported that, according to a UN official, the third preliminary session of the Four-Party Peace Talks will take place November 21 in New York. Another related source said that if an agreement is reached at the preliminary session, the Peace Talks will be held sometime in the third week of December in Geneva.

3. Japanese-Russian Relations

The Yomiuri Shimbun (“JAPAN-RUSSIA FOREIGN MINISTERIAL TALKS START,” 11/13/97) and the Asahi Shimbun (“JAPAN-RUSSIA FOREIGN MINISTERIAL MEETING DISCUSSES PEACE TREATY,” 11/13/97) reported that Japanese Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeniy Primakov met in Tokyo on November 13, reaffirming the agreement between Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto and Russian President Boris Yeltsin at their last summit meeting in East Siberia earlier this month. Obuchi also proposed an early start of negotiations, including drafting a treaty text, with a view to signing a Japan-Russia peace treaty by 2000. According to the Asahi Shimbun, Hashimoto and Yeltsin already agreed that they will strive to achieve the signing of a peace treaty by 2000. The Yomiuri Shimbun added that the Obuchi-Primakov meeting will discuss whether to set up some new framework for the negotiations before Obuchi’s visit to Russia next February and Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin’s visit to Japan next March, and the Asahi Shimbun also added that Hashimoto and Yeltsin agreed that Yeltsin will visit Japan next April.

4. PRC-Russia Relations

The Nikkei Shimbun (“CHINA AND RUSSIA AGREED ON EASTERN BOUNDARY AND GAS WELL DEVELOPMENT,” 11/10/97) reported that Russian President Boris Yeltsin and PRC Prime Minister Jiang Zemin agreed November 10 on their eastern boundary and signed a joint statement. The Nikkei Shimbun said that the signing signifies a major step forward to establishment of a partnership, following an era of PRC-USSR confrontations. The Nikkei also reported that both countries signed an inter-governmental accord in which they agreed that Japan and the ROK will be invited to join a PRC-led gas well development in Eastern Siberia.

5. Russia’s Nuclear Subcritical Test

The Yomiuri Shimbun (“RUSSIA CONDUCTS NUCLEAR SUBCRITICAL TEST,” Moscow, 11/14/97) reported that a Russian Atomic Energy Department official revealed November 13 that Russia conducted several nuclear subcritical tests in Northern Russia between May and June. The official said, “Subcritical tests are necessary to keep nuclear weapons safe. Another nuclear weapons state has also conducted subcritical tests after its signing of the CTBT,” indicating that Russia will resume the tests whenever necessary, according to the report. The report added that India’s reasons for its refusal of signing the CTBT include such tests by some nuclear weapons states.

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Wade L. Huntley:
Berkeley, California, United States

Timothy L. Savage:
Berkeley, California, United States

Shin Dong-bom:
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Choi Chung-moon:
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Hiroyasu Akutsu:
Tokyo, Japan

Peter Razvin:
Moscow, Russian Federation

Chunsi Wu:
Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

Dingli Shen:
Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

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