NAPSNet Daily Report 15 July, 1998

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

IN TODAY’S REPORT:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

I. United States

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1. DPRK Nuclear Freeze

The New York Times (Philip Shenon, “NORTH KOREA SAID TO BLOCK INSPECTION OF NUCLEAR SITES,” Washington, 07/15/98) reported that a report by the US Congress General Accounting Office said that the DPRK is refusing to allow international inspectors full access to its nuclear sites. According to the report, the DPRK has refused repeated requests for information about the whereabouts of nuclear components that it had planned to install in the two nuclear reactors that were shut down under the 1994 Geneva agreement. It has also refused to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to install monitoring devices on tanks used to hold nuclear waste. The report warned that the DPRK may have tampered with the tanks since the agreement and secretly removed some of the nuclear waste in an effort to hide evidence of earlier diversions of plutonium from the reactors. David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, stated, “The danger is that the North Koreans already have nuclear weapons on the shelf.” Albright argued that, when the 1994 agreement was being negotiated, “not enough thought was put into verification, and that’s why these kinds of problems have developed. It’s well known among those who follow this issue that the North Koreans have not been cooperating as much as they should.” Senator Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska, who requested the report in his role as chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said that the new study showed that the Geneva accord was “folly.” He warned, “we may never know how much bomb-grade plutonium the North Koreans have diverted to their weapons program.” An anonymous State Department official responded, “Yes, there have been troubles with the inspection program. But from our standpoint, what is crucial is that the North Korean nuclear program is frozen.” A spokeswoman for the IAEA said that the agency had no immediate comment since it had not yet seen the report.

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2. Heavy Oil Deliveries to DPRK

The Associated Press (Laura Myers, “N. KOREA OIL FREEZE COSTS U.S.,” Washington, 07/15/98) reported that Clinton administration officials told a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on Tuesday that providing heavy fuel oil to the DPRK will probably cost the US US$50 million a year, double the amount expected. Rust Deming, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia, stated, “Frankly, we were overly optimistic about our ability to attract funds from other countries and we have to be much more realistic now. We recognize that we are going to have to do more ourselves.” He added, however, that US$50 million a year “is a small price to pay to reinforce peace on the Korean Peninsula and to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime.” Deming warned that the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization does not have the money to buy the remaining 284,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil due to be delivered to the DPRK by mid-October. Senator John Kerry, D-Mass, said that for the Clinton administration “to allow the agreement to languish in this way is the height of irresponsibility.” Senator Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., chairman of the East Asia subcommittee, said that he was concerned about indications that the DPRK might be looking for an excuse to back out of the 1994 agreement. He stated, “We also have to make sure that we don’t allow North Korea to find reasons not to comply.”

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3. DPRK Infiltrators

United Press International (“SEOUL TO DEMAND APOLOGY FROM N.KOREA,” Seoul, 07/14/98) and Reuters (“S.KOREA DEMANDS APOLOGY FROM NORTH ON INCURSIONS,” Seoul, 07/15/98) reported that ROK Unification Minister Kang In-duk announced that the ROK plans to demand a formal apology from the DPRK for the recent infiltrations. Kang stated, “Advancement on projects such as cattle aid will be carried out only when the North apologizes for dispatching armed spy agents into South Korea.” The ROK National Security Council said in a letter of resolution, “North Korea should admit that the latest provocations were a breach of the Joint Armistice Agreement and the South-North Basic Agreement.” The letter added, “The North has to apologize for the incursions, punish those involved and promise that it will never happen again.” It said that the ROK government would seek cooperation from allied countries to realize its demands. Meanwhile, the DPRK on Tuesday denied that the body found on an ROK beach was one of its agents.

Reuters (Bill Tarrant, “SPY FURORE CLOUDS S.KOREA KIM’S SUNSHINE POLICY,” Seoul, 07/14/98) reported that some analysts believe that the latest DPRK infiltrations may be an attempt by certain elements in the DPRK to undermine ROK President Kim Dae-jung’s “sunshine policy.” An unnamed top ROK intelligence official said that the DPRK military elite sees a thaw in relations with the ROK as a long-term threat to its privileged position. However, Park Young-ho of the Korea Institute of National Unification stated, “I don’t think this was an intentional operation on the part of North Korea to scuttle the sunshine policy. I think the two intrusions were discovered accidentally.” The ROK Unification Ministry has counted around 20 incidents since 1968 in which teams of infiltrators have been discovered. Intelligence officials assume that such incidents happen frequently and that many more infiltration teams successfully complete their missions. An unnamed military analyst in Seoul stated, “Satellites are great, electronic gizmos are great, but the best intelligence asset is the man on the ground.” Some officials in the ROK Defense Ministry and the Agency for National Security Planning have linked the infiltrations to Kim Jong-il’s expected accession to the DPRK presidency. One unnamed ROK intelligence official stated, “There are five or six bodies in North Korea that do covert activities. They don’t communicate very well with each other and they may all be competing to show how bold and brave they are to Kim Jong-il before he becomes president.”

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4. ROK Labor Unrest

The Associated Press (Kyong-Hwa Seok, “MORE JOIN SOUTH KOREA STRIKE,” Seoul, 07/15/98) reported that about 55,000 workers from five banks, the national telephone carrier, and other state-run companies joined a nationwide strike in the ROK on Wednesday to protest layoffs. Organizers said that the new strikers brought to about 110,000 the number of workers participating in the strike. However, the ROK Labor Ministry said that fewer than 60,000 workers had joined the strike, and said many union members disobeyed their leaders and did not take part. Earlier Wednesday, police said they had obtained warrants for the arrest of about four dozen union leaders. All the strikers except 26,000 workers from Hyundai Motors Co. were scheduled to return to work Friday. The Hyundai strike was indefinite.

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5. Taiwan Bid for UN Membership

The Associated Press (“ALLIES REQUEST U.N. SEAT FOR TAIWAN,” United Nations, 07/14/98) reported that eleven countries led by Nicaragua have asked that the status of Taiwan in the UN be placed on the agenda of the next General Assembly session in September. Five previous such requests have been turned down.

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6. US-PRC Military Cooperation

The Associated Press (“CHINA, US SEEK TO AVOID SEA FIGHTS,” Beijing, 07/15/98) reported that senior PRC and US military officers ended two days of discussions Wednesday on how to avoid accidental armed conflict between the two navies. The talks were the first of planned annual consultations on maritime safety. The decision to hold the talks grew out of the 1996 confrontation between US and PRC naval forces in the Taiwan Straits. A spokesman for the US Embassy in Beijing said that the officers at the meeting decided to set up a working group on navigational safety that is supposed to meet twice before next year’s consultations.

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7. Alleged Technology Transfer to PRC

The Associated Press (“CHINA DENIES LOTT’S ALLEGATIONS,” Beijing, 07/15/98) reported that PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Tang Guoqiang denied allegations from US Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott that the PRC used US satellite technology to enhance its military capabilities. Tang stated, “We have reiterated many times that the Chinese side would not and could not acquire American military technology in the course of supplying launching services for U.S. satellites.” Tang argued that “a few people in America, in disregarding the facts, make stories out of nothing, creating rumors and trouble. The aim is to obstruct and damage the improvement and development of China-U.S. relations.”

US State Department Spokesman James Rubin (“STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, 14 July 1998,” Washington, USIA Transcript, 07/14/98) said that having a policy which allows for the launching of US satellites in the PRC is in the US national interest. Rubin argued that such a policy promotes US competitiveness, promotes openness in the PRC, furthers the US engagement policy, and encourages the PRC to improve its non- proliferation practices. He added, “we do not believe that this policy has contributed to China’s ability to launch ballistic missiles armed with nuclear weapons; that capability was there before.” Rubin stated, “the United States has not authorized the providing of China with technology useful in upgrading its ballistic missiles; nor, to my knowledge, is there evidence that the US actually provided China with technology for the delivery of multiple satellites.” He added that “there are many technical steps” needed to turn a multiple satellite delivery system into a multiple warhead ballistic missile. He said, “The objectives of a MIRV capability and a satellite dispenser capability are significantly different. The release of a satellite in orbit does not require much accuracy and allows for a wide margin of error. A MIRV capability requires extreme accuracy for re-entry to ensure the warhead hits its target.”

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8. PRC-Russian Relations

The Associated Press (“RUSSIA PREMIER MAKES BEIJING VISIT,” Beijing, 07/14/98) reported that Russian Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko on Tuesday made a five-hour stopover in Beijing on his way back from Japan to meet PRC Premier Zhu Rongji and President Jiang Zemin. Evgueni Verlin, a Russian Embassy spokesman, said that the meetings were partly to prepare for Jiang’s visit to Russia in September. He added that Kiriyenko was on “a working visit to discuss problems with trade and to search for breakthroughs, especially in the field of energy.” Verlin said that Kiriyenko and Zhu were to discuss projects to pipe gas from eastern Siberia and to build a nuclear power plant in the eastern PRC.

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9. Theater Missile Defense

The Associated Press (Laura Myers, “GAO: MISSILE DEFENSE RUNNING LATE,” Washington, 07/15/98) reported that a US Congress General Accounting Office report said that the program to develop a national missile defense (NMD) system is unlikely to be completed in 2000 as scheduled. The report stated, “Also, any decision in fiscal year 2000 to deploy an NMD system by 2003 would involve high technical risk because the associated compressed schedule will permit only limited testing of the system.” US Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., said in a statement released Wednesday, “This report provides compelling evidence that we need to give the NMD program a chance to mature and prove itself rather than pile on deployment pressures that are more likely to lead to failure.”

II. Republic of Korea

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1. DPRK Infiltrators

ROK military authorities on Wednesday were still seeking the whereabouts of two DPRK agents who are believed to have come ashore on Tonghae beach, after the third consecutive day of search operations turned up nothing Tuesday. ROK intelligence specialists assume that there are two possibilities if the agents are still alive: either they returned safely to a “mother boat” that had awaited them, or they have infiltrated deep enough to escape from the areas under search. The officials said that the second possibility is more plausible than the first. First of all, they pointed out that the dead agent did not drown but died of a heart attack and that his death had likely occurred within one kilometer from the shoreline. If the agent had a heart attack right off the mother boat, it would be unlikely that his colleagues had hurried off, leaving behind the body that would wash ashore and alert the enemy. Also making this implausible is the fact that he had a heart attack sometime around 11 p.m. Saturday, leaving ample time to dispose of the body in order to leave no traces. Accordingly, it is speculated that the agent met his death close to the shore and his colleagues chose to go ahead and land, not being able to decide what to do with the body. This scenario has its own flaws, one being that nothing was found to indicate their landing despite intense search operations. The intelligence specialists discount the possibility that the dead agent was on his way alone to join the mother boat after dropping off his colleagues, citing the motorized underwater launch that needs at least three persons to operate. (Korea Times, “N. KOREAN AGENTS LIKELY ESCAPED SEARCH AREAS,” 07/15/98)

The DPRK’s Committee for Peaceful Fatherland Reunification announced Tuesday that the dead armed diver found on the east coast of the ROK had no connection with the DPRK whatever. A spokesman for the committee said that the incident was part of an ultra-right conservative scheme hatched by the ROK to heighten tensions between the DPRK and the ROK. The ROK Ministry of Unification commented that it was deplorable for the DPRK to try and shift the blame onto the ROK and called for an apology and guarantee of non-recurrence from the DPRK. (Chosun Ilbo, “NK DENIES INFILTRATION,” 07/15/98)

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2. US Sanctions Against DPRK

The latest infiltration of armed DPRK agents into the ROK could scuttle the US plan to ease sanctions on the DPRK, an ROK official said Tuesday. The ROK and the US are planning to hold talks on the issue in the near future. Kwon Jong-rak, director general for North American affairs at the Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry, said that in the wake of the incident, “the talks will start with a basic question. Do we really have to ease or lift the sanctions on the DPRK?” His remarks are taken as a step back from the ROK’s recent policy of engaging the DPRK, which included an ROK request for the US to ease sanctions on the DPRK. Kwon said that the ROK-US talks would focus on whether or not to ease or lift the embargo rather than on how and when. The working-level talks, which had been scheduled for this week, were postponed for a few weeks because the US Senate has delayed ratifying the appointment of Charles Kartman, who will lead the US delegation to the talks, as a special envoy on Korean affairs. (Korea Herald, “LATEST INFILTRATION MAY SCUTTLE US PLAN TO EASE NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS,” 07/15/98)

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3. Alleged DPRK Abduction Plot

The mission of a team of DPRK commandos may have been to try and assassinate or abduct DPRK defector Hwang Jang-yop, an informed military intelligence source in Seoul said Tuesday. The source, who requested anonymity, told the Korea Herald that ROK police had already stepped up security for Hwang and some other DPRK defectors. The military source said that some hawkish military and intelligence figures in the DPRK have threatened to take Hwang back to Pyongyang or assassinate him for slandering DPRK leader Kim Jong-il. The time period for bringing Hwang back, he said, would be before September 9, the date of the DPRK’s 50th anniversary. (Korea Herald, “NORTH KOREAN AGENT’S POSSIBLE MISSION: KILL OR ABDUCT HWANG JANG-YOP,” 07/15/98)

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

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

Choi Chung-moon: cily@star.elim.co.kr
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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