NAPSNet Daily Report 19 February, 1999

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"NAPSNet Daily Report 19 February, 1999", NAPSNet Daily Report, February 19, 1999, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-19-february-1999/

IN TODAY’S REPORT:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

III. Japan

I. United States

1. DPRK Missile Development

Pacific Stars And Stripes (Jim Lea, “REPORT: N. KOREA USING JAPANESE TECHNOLOGY FOR DEVELOPING MISSILES,” Seoul, 02/20/99, 3) reported that Japan’s Jiji Press said that the Monterey Institute of International Studies quoted Chinese sources as saying that the DPRK was using Japanese technology to develop its rockets. [Ed. note: See DPRK Report #15.] The report also said that an unnamed Western military source “acknowledged having information” that Japanese technology may have been used in developing the Taepodong missile. ROK Defense Ministry spokesman Captain Park Kun-yol stated, “All I can say is that we are aware of the news report but it has not been substantiated.” Meanwhile, Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun on Thursday quoted Li Kun, DPRK deputy ambassador to the UN, as saying that the DPRK will continue to launch rockets in spite of international condemnation. Li said that the DPRK will conduct “second and third launches as a matter of course.” [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for February 19.]

2. ROK Policy toward DPRK

The Associated Press (“S. KOREA PRES FAVORS ‘INCENTIVES’ FOR N. KOREA’S COOPERATION,” Seoul, 02/19/99) reported that ROK President Kim Dae-jung said Friday that the US and other Western countries should offer “incentives” to encourage the DPRK to make Chinese-style reforms and stop making weapons of mass destruction. Kim told a group of ROK legislators returning from a visit to the US, “We must tell North Korea that we’ll give them incentives if they cooperate.” He added, “If North Korea makes reforms and opens its society with Western incentives, it will become a country like China and Vietnam.” Kim said that the DPRK has no choice but to change. He warned, however, “If we spend too much time and drag on this, the situation will be only beneficial to them, because there is no opposition party or public opinion in North Korea.”

3. DPRK Defectors

The Associated Press (Kyong-Hwa Seok, “N.KOREAN DEFECTORS SUE SOUTH KOREA,” Seoul, 02/19/99) reported that nine defectors from the DPRK on Friday filed suit against the ROK intelligence agency for allegedly torturing them during interrogations after their arrival. The defectors are seeking compensation of US$16,700 each for physical and psychological damage. Kim Young-hoon, a spokesman for the National Intelligence Service, acknowledged that the agency interrogates most defectors in an attempt to weed out possible spies, but said that allegations of torture were “totally untrue.” Kim stated, “They fabricated the fact and claimed they were tortured … in a desperate attempt to receive more government subsidies.” He pointed out that, because of changes in the law, DPRK citizens who defected to the ROK between December 1993 and December 1998 received US$12,500 in “settlement money,” less than the US$15,000 for those who arrived before them or the US$30,800 for those who arrived after them. However, defector Han Chang Kwon stated, “Of course, it would be great if we could receive more money because we are poor. But money is not what we are after. Our human rights are the real issue.” Huh Chul-soo, a former DPRK logger in Russia who says he was tortured after arriving in 1994, stated, “We’ve decided to speak up because we saw signs of changes after the new government of President Kim Dae-jung was inaugurated last year.”

4. US-PRC Military Exchanges

The Washington Times (Bill Gertz, “MILITARY EXCHANGE WITH BEIJING RAISES SECURITY CONCERNS,” 02/19/99) reported that an internal US Department of Defense document called “Game Plan for 1999 US-Sino Defense Exchanges” outlined more than 80 activities by the US and PRC militaries planned for the coming year. Key parts of the plan call for 12 high-level visits by US and People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officials, 40 “functional exchanges” of working-level military officials, 16 confidence-building measures, and 13 international security meetings with PLA officials. Unnamed US military and congressional officials who are skeptical of the exchanges said that most of the activities are considered “sensitive” because they will provide military information that could assist the PRC. One unnamed US Defense Department official stated, “This is an increase in transfer of military know-how to China. It could be the highest level of military exchange in a decade.” An unnamed congressional aide who specializes in PRC affairs warned, “We’re helping them to modernize their logistics — how they arm and supply their troops.” US Defense Department spokesman Kenneth Bacon said that the exchange program has been under way quietly for years and is being carried out “in the spirit of developing transparency” between the two militaries. Another unnamed senior defense official said the exchanges will seek to limit the PRC’s access to militarily useful information. [Ed. note: This article was one of the top stories in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for February 19.]

5. US-PRC Relations

The Washington Times (Richard Halloran, “ADMIRAL SEES STORM CLOUDS OVER CHINA,” Honolulu, 02/19/99) reported that Admiral Joseph Prueher, outgoing commander of US military forces in the Pacific and Asia, said that the US faces a period of difficult relations with the PRC in the months immediately ahead. Prueher argued that if the PRC’s encounters continued economic difficulties, that would generate “great problems with stability.” He warned that as the government seeks to stabilize the nation, “that bleeds into human rights, it bleeds into control. It’s a dilemma and that creates a problem with the United States.” He added, “I think our approach needs to be one of respect and also of strength in dealing and working and moving forward with the Chinese.” However, Prueher said he was optimistic about US relations with the PRC, especially between the US military and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). He added, “The Chinese believe they are the hub of the region. At some point in the future, they would like to have everyone in the region have to have China’s approval for whatever they might want to do.” He also stated, “We would be irresponsible as nations develop missiles if we did not worry hard as we send our troops and our ships and our aircraft around the world. So we are going to do theater missile defense. We will do it in the Pacific.” He said that senior officers of the PLA, Taiwan, and the US all “agree that bringing the China-Taiwan issue to a military type of confrontation is a no-winner. That path doesn’t take anybody anywhere any of us want to go.” [Ed. note: This article was one of the top stories in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for February 19.]

6. India-Pakistan Talks

The Wall Street Journal (Jonathan Karp, “INDIA, PAKISTAN SUMMIT OFFERS REASON FOR HOPE IN SOUTH ASIA,” New Delhi, 02/19/99) reported that Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was scheduled to travel to Pakistan on Saturday for talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. K.R. Malkani, a member of Vajpayee’s Bharatiya Janata Party, stated, “It may not happen at this meeting, but we are moving in the direction of a declaration of ‘no war’ between India and Pakistan. I think there is a new air of friendliness.” C. Raja Mohan, strategic affairs editor of the Hindu newspaper, wrote on Thursday, “The meaning of the political burden that comes with atomic weapons … has also begun to sink into the consciousness of the policy makers on both sides of the border.” Marshall Bouton, executive vice president of the Asia Society, commented, “The moment is favorable for some breakthroughs. But, as always, the devil will be in the details.”

II. Republic of Korea

1. ROK President’s Remarks on DPRK

Korea Herald (“KIM SAYS HE SEES SIGNS OF CHANGE IN DPRK,” Seoul, 02/19/99) reported that ROK President Kim Dae-jung said Thursday that the recent DPRK proposal to hold high-level talks with ROK shows that DPRK is accommodating his initiatives for engagement. “The DPRK suspected (our intentions) in the beginning, but it has changed little by little and has now come forward, ready to hold a dialogue at any time,” Kim was quoted as saying in a meeting with a group of lawmakers. The President made the statement in reference to the DPRK’s recent announcement that it was ready to hold high-level political talks in the second half of the year. The ROK has welcomed the proposal, which led to reports suggesting imminent developments in inter-Korean ties, including possible unconditional provision of fertilizer aid to the DPRK. Kim has said he expects that inter-Korean relations will improve this year more than ever before. Kim talked about his DPRK policy at a breakfast meeting with four of the National Assembly members who visited the US recently to sell the ROK’s economic and DPRK policies.

JoongAng Ilbo (“KIM STILL ADVOCATES APPEASING DPRK,” Seoul, 02/19/99) reported that ROK President Kim Dae-jung said, “We have to prevent the DPRK from engaging in an unwinnable war, so we should also be prepared to give them some incentive.” Kim asserted that the DPRK initially doubted the ROK governments’ intentions, but it has finally started to believe in the ROK’s sincerity. Kim added, “We have to face DPRK issues not through individual situations but by treating all the issues as a whole in order to solve the problem.” “Since the DPRK does not have any opposition party or public opinion, it is advantageous for the DPRK to drag out any process,” Kim emphasized. He added that this was the primary reason why the ROK should take the initiative in seeking peaceful relations with the DPRK. The opposition’s Grand National Party leader, Lee Hoi-chang, responded to the government’s stance by stating, “The policy of the government lacks consistency and is not based on reality.” Korea Times (“KIM HOPES DPRK TO ADOPT PRC MODEL,” Seoul, 02/19/99) reported that ROK President Kim Dae-jung on Thursday voiced the hope that the DPRK will adopt the market economy model that the PRC and Vietnam have introduced. In a meeting with both ruling and opposition lawmakers at Chong Wa Dae, the Chief Executive noted, “If DPRK reforms and opens, it will have either a PRC- or Vietnamese-style market economy, which will lead to the broadening of the middle class and the emergence of a multiple party system.” Kim made the remarks while meeting with a four- member parliamentary delegation headed by Representative Park Chung-soo, a former foreign minister, who recently returned from a visit to the US. Kim stressed that ROK should encourage the DPRK to renounce war, move out of its “isolationist cocoon,” cooperate with the international community, and develop its economy.

2. ROK-DPRK Relationship

Korea Times (“DPRK SENDS SIGNS OF RECONCILATION, NCNP OFFICIALS SAY,” Seoul, 02/19/99) reported that the DPRK has recently begun to show signs of its intention to reconcile with the ROK. Representative Kim Sang-woo of the National Congress for New Politics (NCNP) said on Thursday, “It seems that the DPRK is beginning to favorably respond to the ROK’s persistent bids to foster friendly inter-Korean relations.” Kim quoted informed sources at the intelligence agencies as saying that the DPRK has made “some” proposals through the Ministry of National Unification and the National Red Cross. He added that there have been some specific cases involving such proposals by the DPRK, but declined to comment further, calling them classified secrets. However, he indicated the proposals are closely tied to the DPRK’s dire need for food, and that the DPRK must manifest its willingness to provide something in return to the ROK.

Korea Herald (“INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS EXPECTED TO IMPROVE THIS YEAR,” Seoul, 02/19/99) reported that the ROK’s top unification policymaker on Thursday forecast that relations between the ROK and the DPRK will improve this year. “There is a high possibility that inter-Korean relations will break out of a stalemate and head for reconciliation and cooperation,” Unification Minister Kang In-duk said at a seminar. He said that his prediction is backed up by international support for the ROK’s engagement policy on the DPRK and an increase in inter-Korean exchanges. The government, he said, will be consistent in promoting the engagement drive with support from major friendly nations. As a long- term goal, he said, the government will seek to dismantle the Cold War structure remaining on the Korean Peninsula. To this end, Kang said, the government will urge the US and Japan to improve relations with the DPRK. He made the remarks during a speech at a seminar to mark the seventh anniversary of the landmark inter-Korean basic agreement and the 30th anniversary of the Ministry of Unification.

3. DPRK-ROK Talks

Korea Herald (“DPRK REPORTEDLY INTERESTED IN POLITICAL DIALOGUE WITH ROK,” Seoul, 02/19/99) reported that the DPRK sent a message to the ROK through an Iranian official that it is interested in a political dialogue with the ROK. Mohsen Aminzadeh, Iranian vice foreign minister, told his ROK counterpart Sun Joun-yung on Thursday that he was asked by DPRK Foreign Minister Paek Nam-sun to convey the message to ROK leaders. Aminzadeh, who visited Pyongyang February 9-11 for talks with DPRK leaders, including Paek, flew into Seoul Thursday after a visit to Brunei and Singapore. Aminzadeh’s visit to the DPRK was made at the invitation of the DPRK, which wishes to improve bilateral relations, ministry officials said. After their talks, Sun and Aminzadeh signed an agreement on exchange programs in the fields of culture, arts, sports, education and mass media.

4. ROK-DPRK Religious Leaders’ Meeting

JoongAng Ilbo (“BOTH KOREA’S RELIGIOUS LEADERS TO MEET,” Seoul, 02/19/99) reported that ROK and DPRK religious leaders will meet in Tokyo to attend the “Religious Leaders’ Tokyo Peace Meeting” which is scheduled from March 13 to 19. At this meeting, a 14-member ROK delegation from the Korean Conference for Religion and Peace (KCRP) and a six to eight-member DPRK delegation from the Korean Council of Religionists (KCR) will take part along with a Japanese delegation. They will participate in a seminar titled “Peace and Coexistence – The Religionists’ Role in the Unification of the Korean Peninsula” on March 15. The participants will discuss religious exchanges between the ROK and the DPRK and peace in northeastern Asia.

5. DPRK Defectors

Korea Herald (“DPRK DEFECTORS SUE GOVERNMENT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES,” Seoul, 02/19/99) reported that nine DPRK defectors on Thursday sued the government for a total of 180 million won (US$152,000) in compensation for alleged human rights violations against them by security agencies in Seoul. The defectors brought the suit to the Seoul District Court, with the help of Lawyers for a Democratic Society, an organization of progressive lawyers. In the suit, the defectors claimed that they were battered and mistreated by investigators during questioning after they arrived in the ROK. They also claimed they were put under surveillance by the National Intelligence Service (NIS) under the pretext of probation even after they had lived in the ROK for some time. The NIS, however, rejected the defectors’ allegations as “totally untrue,” adding that they were making false accusations to get more government subsidies. Because of changes in the law, DPRK people who defected to the ROK between December 1993 and December 1998 received far less settlement money than those who arrived before or after them, the NIS said. Some of the defectors are waging a campaign to urge the government to apply the most recent law and dole out more subsidies, the agency said.

III. Japan

1. DPRK Military Situation

The Daily Yomiuri (“NORTH KOREA BOOSTS ROLE OF MILITARY,” 02/19/99) reported that the DPRK is increasing the role of the military under the Kim Jong-il regime, according to an annual report released on February 17 by the National Institute for Defense Studies, a research institute affiliated with the Defense Agency. The report entitled “The East Asian Strategic Review 1998-1999” said that the missile test-launch over Japan in August by the DPRK posed a strong threat to Japan. It added that the DPRK’s military structure and senior members of the DPRK Workers’ Party remain almost unchanged since the death of Kim Il-sung in 1994, and that the DPRK’s missile development could destabilize not only Northeast Asia, but also the rest of the world through proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The review also pointed out that the missile launch was mainly intended to boost the prestige of Kim Jong-il and to gain a diplomatic bargaining chip against other countries, particularly the US. Although the missile launch served to promote DPRK missile exports to earn hard currency on the one hand, the missile launch backfired diplomatically as it resulted in strong protests from Japan and the US that could further isolate the DPRK. The review concluded that Kim Jong- il “may have created a regime under which he could avoid responsibility as a leader by not succeeding his father as the official head of state,” according to the report.

2. Japanese Security Policy

The Yomiuri Shimbun (“BASIC PLAN FOR SECURITY COOPERATION WITH US TO BECOME ITEM TO DISCUSS AT SECURITY MEETING,” 02/19/99) reported that, regarding a new bill for the New Guidelines for Japan-US Defense Cooperation, the proposed security meeting will include security cooperation with the US as an item for discussion. The report said that, although the government had previously stated that the basic plan for security cooperation with the US should be approved by the cabinet only after it received an approval from the security meeting, the bill only says, “The basic plan should be approved at the Cabinet meeting and should be reported to the Diet without delay.” However, the law for the security meeting stipulates items for the meeting to discuss, including basic policy of national defense, outlines for defense planning, decision on defense mobilization, and important matters concerning national defense that the Prime Minister sees as necessary. The report added that these important matters include the number of Self-Defense Force personnel and introduction of major weapons, but do not include a basic plan for assistance to US forces.

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