NAPSNet Daily Report 15 December, 1998

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"NAPSNet Daily Report 15 December, 1998", NAPSNet Daily Report, December 15, 1998, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-15-december-1998/

IN TODAY’S REPORT:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

I. United States

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1. DPRK Underground Construction

The Associated Press (“REPORTS: N KOREA DROPS $300M DEMAND,” Seoul, 12/14/98) and the New York Times (Philip Shenon, “NORTH KOREA SAID TO DROP DEMAND ON ATOM INSPECTION,” Washington, 12/15/98, A3) reported that ROK newspapers and senior US officials said Monday that the DPRK has dropped its demand for US$300 million to allow a US inspection of its underground construction site and will instead accept food aid and other economic benefits. The JoongAng and Dong-A newspapers quoted unidentified sources in Washington as saying that the agreement was reached in recent US-DPRK negotiations. The two sides were scheduled to start discussions on detailed terms of the inspection at their next round of negotiations, expected in late January in Geneva to coincide with the four-nation Korean peace talks. An unnamed senior US administration official stated, “The main thing is that they have agreed in principle to allow access to the site, which suggests that there probably isn’t anything there. It also indicates that whatever plans they had for this facility have been scrapped.” Another anonymous senior official said, “We seem to be in a problem-solving mode. We’re still apart, but there seem to be real negotiations going on.” The officials, however, denied ROK news reports that a deal to allow inspection of the site had already been reached. [Ed. note: This article appeared in the December 15 edition of the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news summary.]

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2. DPRK Missile Launch

Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post (“NORTH ‘TELLS OF FRESH ROCKET LAUNCH PLANS’,” 12/12/98, Tokyo) reported that Japan’s Asahi newspaper said that DPRK Vice-Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan told US lawmakers, including Republican Congressman Ben Gilman, in Washington on Wednesday about DPRK plans for a second rocket launch. Kim was quoted as saying that the planned launch of a Taepodong-1 rocket was not a missile test but part of the DPRK’s satellite program. He declined to say when the launch was scheduled. Kim reportedly said that the DPRK saw no need to notify neighboring countries beforehand given that they remained “legally at war.” [Ed. note: This article appeared in the December 14 edition of the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news summary.]

Reuters (“NKOREA SAYS U.S. SPREAD RUMORS OF MISSILE LAUNCH,” Tokyo, 12/14/98) reported that the DPRK’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Monday accused the US of “spreading rumors” that the DPRK might be poised to test launch ballistic missiles. KCNA stated, “The recently spread rumor about the DPRK’s possible missile launch is one more plot invented by the United States to attain its sinister political purpose.” It added that recent statements from spokesmen for the US State and Defense departments have created “threats to the regional situation.” It also said, “In order to break the DPRK-US Agreed Framework and unleash a war against the DPRK, the US (has) raised ‘nuclear suspicion’ over an underground facility in the DPRK, thus pushing the situation of the Korean peninsula to the extreme pitch of strain.”

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3. Alleged US-DPRK Contact at DMZ

The Washington Post (Don Kirk, “AMERICANS, N. KOREANS MINGLED AT DMZ PARTIES, EX-DIPLOMAT SAYS,” Seoul, 12/12/98, A31) reported that Kenneth Quinones, former head of the DPRK desk at the US State Department, said Friday that US and DPRK soldiers mingled for several years at parties in a game room in the truce village of Panmunjom. Quinones stated, “The United Nations command was hosting weekly beer and pizza parties for some years. At first it was just U.S. and North Korean soldiers smiling through their teeth at one another to open up informal channels.” He said that while the US soldiers eventually believed that they were obtaining valuable information from the DPRK soldiers, “you could never separate the wheat from the chaff” and they got “substantial misinformation.” He added that he was sure that what the DPRK soldiers did and said at the parties was “well choreographed.” Quinones said that the meetings “set a precedent” for a wide range of other previously unpublicized contacts between soldiers on both sides, adding that the meetings probably led to contacts between ROK and DPRK soldiers. Quinones said he understood that “the party room was shut down” as a result of the case earlier this year when an ROK officer was allegedly killed by one of his subordinates seeking to cover up illegal contact with the DPRK. He said he believed that ROK authorities were fully aware that their soldiers were meeting regularly with the DPRK soldiers in the joint security area. Quinones said that in July 1996, a DPRK colonel escorted him to the building at Panmunjom where US and DPRK soldiers held their parties. He added that he “heard from the North Koreans about how much fun it was,” and subsequently confirmed this by talking to a US officer at Panmunjom. [Ed. note: This article appeared in the December 14 edition of the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news summary.]

The Pacific Stars And Stripes (Jim Lea, “GENERAL DENIES N. KOREA, UNC HAD BEER PARTIES AT PANMUNJOM,” Seoul, 12/16/98, 3) reported that Major General Michael Hayden, UN Command (UNC) deputy chief of staff, denied a published report that the UNC had “weekly beer and pizza parties for some years” at Panmunjom with their DPRK counterparts assigned to the Joint Security Area in the Demilitarized Zone. Hayden stated, “There are factoids of truth in the report, but the overall characterization of the meetings is absolutely wrong. Meetings take place, refreshments are served. (But the) meetings are not designed to pump North Korea for information.” Hayden characterized the security area as “an 800-meter bubble on the Military Demarcation Line where (the UNC) and the Korean People’s Army meet. That’s the whole purpose of (the Joint Security Area) and our being there.” He said that the meetings are on several levels and follow a specific agenda approved by the UNC. Among those who meet are lieutenant colonels, colonels, general officers, joint duty officers, and language officers. Most of those the meetings are multinational with ROK officers and officers of other member states of the UNC attending. He added, “There is no color TV, and there is no unlimited supply of liquor.” He said that both sides do at times supply the meeting room with limited amounts of beer and liquor, stating, “We bring beer, they bring hard liquor.” Hayden said that the most recent meeting was Saturday, to discuss the shipment of 50 cars provided to the DPRK by Hyundai Business Group honorary chairman Chung Ju-young. [Ed. note: This article appeared in the December 15 edition of the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news summary.]

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4. ROK Soldiers’ Alleged Contacts with DPRK

The International Herald Tribune (Don Kirk, “SEOUL AND U.S. AT ODDS OVER JOINT BATTALION,” Seoul, 12/14/98) reported that the US and the ROK agreed Sunday to form a joint team to investigate the death of an ROK officer who was allegedly killed by subordinates trying to cover up illegal contacts with DPRK soldiers. However, UN Command headquarters issued a statement that said that the previous investigation by US and ROK forces “reviewed and thoroughly examined the evidence” and found that Lieutenant Kim Hoon “died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.” It added that it had received “no evidence that would cause it to question the results” of two earlier investigations into the death. Meanwhile, General John Tilelli Jr., head of the UN Command (UNC), turned down suggestions that the ROK completely take over the joint security battalion of 150 troops. Tilelli said he was “committed to the combined structure of the joint security battalion.” [Ed. note: This article appeared in the December 14 edition of the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news summary.]

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5. Remains of US Soldiers from Korean War

Reuters (Charles Aldinger, “U.S., N. KOREA AGREE TO EXPAND MIA SEARCHES,” Washington, 12/14/98) reported that the US Defense Department said Monday that US and DPRK negotiators have agreed to expand joint searches next year for the remains of US troops missing in action since the Korean War. The agreement calls for a total of six joint search operations between April and November of next year. The agreement also included two joint archival reviews in which US officials will be granted access to DPRK documents relating to US personnel lost or captured during the war. The announcement said that US negotiators continued to press to establish a mechanism for investigating reports of US nationals living in the DPRK and to interview US defectors in the DPRK. Bob Jones, US deputy assistant defense secretary for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs, stated, “We have hammered out an agreement that take [sic] us far beyond our three previous years’ operations. We formalized the concept of a joint investigation team to locate and interview witnesses to accelerate the pace of recovery long before our excavation teams begin their work. This concept gives us the potential to recover more remains by using our people more efficiently.” [Ed. note: This article appeared in the December 15 edition of the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news summary.]

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6. US Policy toward DPRK

The Los Angeles Times carried an analytical article (Thomas Plate, “NORTH KOREA’S BIGGEST THREAT IS TO ITSELF,” 12/15/98) which said that, until there is clear proof of a nuclear buildup, the US and the ROK must continue a policy of engagement toward the DPRK. The article quoted Stanley Roth, US undersecretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, as praising ROK President Kim Dae-jung’s attempt to engage the DPRK despite all the difficulties. Roth stated, “You have to give President Kim enormous credit. On the foreign policy side alone, he has been brilliant, especially with the tense North/South issue. There he has demonstrated incredible political skills in building public support for a fairly open and engaged policy.” The article cited Leon V. Sigal, a Columbia University professor and former New York Times editorial writer, as arguing in his book, “Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea,” that the West’s broken promises to the DPRK are as much responsible as the DPRK’s mistakes for the tension on the Korean peninsula. The article quoted Sigal as saying, “Appeasement of the weak by the strong promotes peaceful change.” Sigal also argued that cooperation with the DPRK “is far less costly than coercion.” The article also quoted Hyuck Choi, minister for economic affairs at the ROK Embassy in Washington, as saying, “With regard to the suspected nuclear-missile site we eventually will have to have access to see it. But until we have clear evidence that it contains our worst fears, we have to continue our policy of engagement.” The author concluded, “North Korea is more of a danger to itself than to anyone else unless U.S. policy gives it no choice but to embark on the course of ultimate self-destruction.”

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7. ROK POWs from Korean War

The Associated Press (“TWO S. KOREAN POWS ARRIVE IN SEOUL,” Seoul, 12/14/98) reported that ROK government officials said Monday that two ROK soldiers, believed killed during the 1950-53 Korean War, have returned home after being held captive in the DPRK for 45 years. Kim Bok-ki and Park Dong-il flew in along with their two children, who are a married couple, from a “third country” where they had been living in hiding since escaping the DPRK early this year. Officials said that the two men were captured by Chinese troops toward the end of the Korean War and had been listed as killed in action. The two were initially detained in a POW camp near Pyongyang but were later sent to a coal mine in northern DPRK where they had been forced to work until they escaped the country. [Ed. note: This article appeared in the December 15 edition of the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news summary.]

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8. ROK-DPRK Economic Cooperation

The Associated Press (“HYUNDAI CHIEF VISITS NORTH KOREA,” Seoul, 12/15/98) reported that Chung Ju- young, honorary chairman of the Hyundai group, crossed the Demilitarized Zone into the DPRK Tuesday to discuss tourism and other business ventures with DPRK officials. Chung said his discussions will include building an industrial park on the DPRK’s west coast to accommodate textile, footwear, and other labor-intensive facilities to be moved from the ROK. Aides said the industrial park would take 10 years to complete and could produce US$4.4 billion worth of goods a year. They added that DPRK citizens could expect to earn US$400 million a year in wages. Hyundai officials said that Chung will follow up other joint venture projects discussed earlier, including a thermal power plant, a car assembly plant, and an industrial park.

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9. DPRK Food Aid

The Associated Press (“U.N. SEEKS $376M IN NORTH KOREA AID,” Geneva, 12/15/98) reported that the UN appealed Tuesday for US$376 million in aid for the DPRK next year. The UN said that the money would help 5.5 million of the DPRK’s most vulnerable citizens survive in 1999. Some 90 percent will go to buy food or fund projects, while the rest will be spent to improve the health sector.

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10. Japanese Defense Cuts

Reuters (“JAPAN FINANCE MINISTRY PLANS DEFENCE CUTS – REPORT,” Tokyo, 12/12/98) reported that Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun on Saturday quoted Japanese Finance Ministry sources as saying that the ministry will recommend that the nation’s defense budget be cut for the second straight year in fiscal 1999. However, the sources said that the Defense Ministry has secured funds for a joint study of a ballistic missile defense system with the US. The article said that the ministry’s requested budget of 4.95 trillion yen for fiscal 1999 would not be granted, but it did not detail the size of the planned cut.

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11. PRC-Taiwan Military Exchanges

The Associated Press (“TAIWANESE PARTY PLANS VISIT TO CHINESE MILITARY SITES,” Taipei, 12/15/98) reported that Yok Mu-ming, secretary general of Taiwan’s New Party, said Tuesday that the party plans to send a delegation to visit PRC military sites next year. Yok said that the PRC extended the invitation to the two months ago, but the visit was put off because of elections in Taiwan. He stated, “Taiwanese have been worried about possible Chinese military actions against us. The visit could demonstrate that the Chinese communists are sincere about resolving differences by peaceful means.” Yok’s comments came one day after the daily Hong Kong Standard reported that the PRC may open several of its most sensitive military sites to Taiwanese visitors to promote military exchanges. It said that the sites include the military bases in Xiamen in the southeastern province of Fujian, which faces Taiwan’s offshore frontline, and an M-9 ballistic missile base in the central province of Jiangxi. It quoted unnamed sources as saying that the PRC’s Central Military Commission has approved the exchanges.

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12. Alleged US Technology Transfers to PRC

Aviation Week and Space Technology (David A. Fulghum and Joseph C. Anselmo, “PENTAGON PLANS NEW LOOK AT CHINA TECH TRANSFER, 12/14/98, Washington, 38) reported that the US Defense and State departments are launching a new, thorough study of whether the PRC benefited militarily from information passed to it by Hughes Corporation following a failed 1995 satellite launch. A Defense Department official said last week that the new study is being undertaken because the report to the Senate on the launch failure was “put together in absence of full documentation.” Until it is completed, Defense officials said they will not have a definitive judgment on the precise nature and seriousness of the impact on national security. The technical portion of the study will be conducted by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s technology security office. [Ed. note: This article appeared in the December 15 edition of the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news summary.]

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13. Alleged PRC Missile Aid to Pakistan

The Wall Street Journal (Robert S. Greenberger and Matt Forney, “CHINA-PAKISTAN MISSILE PACT SHOWS A CALCULATED STRATEGY,” 12/15/98) reported that Pakistan is using PRC-supplied blueprints and technology to build a center to produce a version of the PRC’s M-11 ballistic missile, which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to a target 185 miles. The article said that the PRC’s aid on the factory is part of a secret contract the two nations signed in early 1988. It added that US officials believe under the pact, the PRC also sold about 30 M-11s to Pakistan during the early 1990s. Han Hua, a proliferation specialist at Beijing University, stated, “China sees a weak Pakistan as destabilizing for the region.” The article said that several US officials have acknowledged privately that there is fairly convincing evidence that the PRC probably has shipped some 30 M-11s missiles to Pakistan, but the weapons have not been removed from their crates. Robert Oakley, a former US ambassador to Pakistan, stated, “There’s been a tacit understanding that the M-11s wouldn’t be taken out and tested.” [Ed. note: This article appeared in the December 15 edition of the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news summary.]

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14. Indian Nuclear Development

The Associated Press (Ashok Sharma, “INDIA WANTS TO KEEPS NUCLEAR PLAN,” New Delhi, 12/15/98) reported that Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee said Tuesday he would not negotiate away his country’s nuclear arsenal in talks with the US. Vajpayee said that the negotiations with the US were premised on the basis of maintaining “a minimum credible deterrent.” He added that India “will not accept any restraints” on developing missiles to carry nuclear warheads, which he called “integral (to) any country’s defense preparedness.”

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15. Russian Ratification of START II

The Associated Press (“RUSSIAN MISSILE CHIEF SUPPORTS START II RATIFICATION,” Moscow, 12/15/98) reported that General Vladimir Yakovlev, the chief of Russia’s missile force, said Tuesday that he supports ratification of the START II arms reduction treaty with the US. Yakovlev stated, “Just like human life, the lifetime of any piece of equipment is limited. We can only have these weapons on combat duty for 25-27 years.” He noted that many of the weapons already have been in service for 21 years, and will have to be decommissioned by 2007, the treaty’s deadline for dismantling the weapons. He added, “We aren’t taking a single missile off combat duty before its service life expires.” Yakovlev said that the government had persuaded Russian lawmakers to drop their objections to the treaty, claiming, “All differences are now settled.”

II. Republic of Korea

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1. ROK-US Defense Meeting

Korea Herald (“ANNUAL ROK-U.S. DEFENSE MEETINGS DUE JANUARY 14-15,” Seoul, 12/14/98) reported that ROK and the US will hold their annual Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) January 14-15 in Seoul. The SCM was previously scheduled for November 2-3, but had been delayed due to a new US-Iraq crisis. ROK Defense Minister Chun Yong-taek will hold talks with US Secretary of Defense William Cohen on January 15, while the chairmen of the ROK and US Joint Chiefs of Staff have their annual Military Committee Meeting on January 14, a Defense Ministry spokesman said. The Chun-Cohen agenda will include the DPRK’s August 31 launch of a rocket, and bilateral cooperation in logistics and defense technology, a Defense Ministry spokesman said. Due to the US-Iraq crisis, Cohen had to cancel his Asia trip, which would have taken him to ROK and Japan, and return to Washington on October 29.

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2. DPRK Underground Construction

JoongAng Ilbo (“DPRK ABANDONS 300 MILLIONS DOLLAR DEMAND,” Seoul, 12/13/98) reported that the DPRK has retreated from their original request to be compensated US$300 million for allowing investigators access to suspected nuclear facilities. In a second meeting held December 13 in New York between the DPRK and the US to clear up the controversial nuclear problem, the DPRK retracted their demand for both compensation and the elimination of economic sanctions by the US. This concession produced a thaw in relations and the two sides will have a third meeting in January 1999. A source from the ROK government commented on December 13, “The DPRK agreed to an investigation in the Kumchangri area, while the US also agreed to supply further food provisions.” When US special envoy Charles Kartman visited Pyongyang last month, the DPRK suggested they might accept goods such as rice instead of money.

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3. DRPK Food Aid

Korea Herald (“DPRK ASKS EU FOR CONTINUED FOOD AID,” Seoul, 12/14/98) reported that the famine-stricken DPRK has asked the European Union (EU) to continue food aid, but the EU insists that transparency in food distribution be assured first. That was what a delegation from the European Parliament discussed with DPRK officials when it recently visited Pyongyang, the EU delegation told ROK Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Hong Soon-young Saturday. The EU parliamentary delegation, including Former Belgian Prime Minister Leo Tindemans, visited the DPRK December 7-11 for talks with several key DPRK officials. The EU urged the DPRK to ensure transparency in aid distribution before asking for more food from the outside world, one EU delegate was quoted as saying.

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4. ROK-DPRK Family Reunions

Korea Herald (“ASSEMBLY SPEAKER SENDS RESOLUTION ON FAMILY REUNIONS TO DPRK COUNTERPART,” Seoul, 12/14/98) reported that ROK National Assembly Speaker Park Jyun-kyu on Sunday sent a lawmaker-adopted resolution to DPRK parliamentary leader Kim Yong-nam calling for the reunion of families separated between the two Koreas. The resolution, along with a letter from Park, was delivered to the DPRK when liaison officials from the Red Cross societies of the two sides met at the truce village of Panmunjom. “I send this resolution to you on behalf of the National Assembly, hoping that it will also be delivered to the DPRK’s Prime Minister,” Park said in his letter to Kim. Park’s northern counterpart is Choe Tae-bok, chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA). However, Park sent the letter and the resolution to Kim, chairman of the powerful Presidium of the SPA, because the organization represents the DPRK’s parliament during the recess of the SPA. Early this month, the ROK National Assembly unanimously adopted the resolution urging the reunion of separated families and confirmation of whereabouts of lost kin. In the resolution, lawmakers urged the ROK and DPRK parliaments to recommend that their Red Cross societies make the reunion of separated families a reality. “If it is difficult to do so, the two sides at least should promote the confirmation of the whereabouts of separated kin,” the resolution said.

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5. DPRK Agricultural Development

JoongAng Ilbo (“CORN INSTITUTE PROPOSED IN DPRK,” Seoul, 12/14/98) reported that the International Corn Foundation, which was established in May of this year by Dr. Kim Soon-kwon, is trying to establish a “Corn Institute” at Tongchon in the DPRK with the assistance of the Hyundai Group. An industry source said, “Dr. Kim, who has been carrying out a ‘Super-Maize Project’ for the DPRK, proposed this idea during his recent visit to the DPRK, and he is currently negotiating with the Hyundai Group.” Tongchon is the birthplace of Hyundai’s founder and honorary chairman Chung Ju-young. However he added that Hyundai has not decided to sponsor this project yet. Dr. Kim, widely known by his nickname “Dr. Corn”, worked from 1979 to 1995 at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in developing corn seed for famine-stricken African nations. He is now trying to develop a corn seed suitable for the DPRK climate.

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6. ROK POW’s from Korean War

Chosun Ilbo (“TWO MORE EX-POWS RETURN,” Seoul, 12/14/98) reported that the National Security Planning Agency (NSPA) announced Monday that two former ROK prisoners of war held in the DPRK since the end of the Korean War had managed to escape via the PRC to DPRK. Kim Bok-ki (67) and Park Dong-il (71) were accompanied by Kim’s second son and Park’s fourth daughter, who were married in 1991. Kim and Park were taken prisoner by PRC forces in July, 1951 during the battle of Kumhwa, and were held in a POW camp outside Pyongyang before being sent to the coal mines at Hakpo, Hambuk province. The two were listed as killed in action by the ROK military. At the end of last year, however, Kim’s second son Kim Young-ku made contact from the PRC with his father’s nephew at Kuri in the ROK, revealing his survival.

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7. UN Peacekeeping in the DMZ

Korea Herald (“SEOUL MAY INVITE U.N. FORCES TO DMZ IF DPRK SIGNS ACCORD,” Seoul, 12/14/98) reported that the ROK is considering inviting UN peacekeeping forces to watch over the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) if a new peace accord is concluded with the DPRK. “To safeguard the peace accord, we need to carefully study the possibility of stationing UN peacekeeping forces in the DMZ,” a government source said Sunday. The idea of keeping UN peacekeeping forces in the DMZ came as the fourth round of the four-party Korean peace talks, involving the two Koreas, the US, and the PRC, are to be held in Geneva next month. An ROK government source said that UN peacekeeping forces in the DMZ could help enforce the new peace agreement. The ROK is also considering depositing the peace accord, if it is adopted at future four-party peace talks, with the UN to make it legally binding. “The new accord would have to abide by the UN Charter,” the source said, “because the UN Security Council is the organization of last resort, which we can rely on in the case that the agreement is not implemented.”

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