NAPSNet Daily Report 21 September, 1998

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"NAPSNet Daily Report 21 September, 1998", NAPSNet Daily Report, September 21, 1998, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-21-september-1998/

IN TODAY’S REPORT:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

I. United States

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1. Implementation of Agreed Framework

US State Department Spokesman James Rubin (“STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, SEPTEMBER 18,” USIA Transcript, 09/18/98) said that the State Department has “serious concerns” about certain congressional restrictions on funding for the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO). Rubin stated, “We believe that this is an agreement that is in our interest.” He argued that the Agreed Framework brought the US and the DPRK back from the brink of war in 1994 and froze the DPRK’s nuclear weapons system. He added that the agreement “was designed to induce North Korea to take these extraordinary steps and agree to inspections and no reprocessing, which no country had previously agreed to under the international proliferation system.” He also argued, “We believe that if we can’t fulfill our part of the agreement, it will be much, much harder to convince the North Koreans to fulfill their part of the agreement.” He concluded, “We have no illusions about what North Korea’s intentions are, what kind of society they are; but we think this is the best alternative to the kind of crisis and nuclear danger that we faced in 1994.” He said that the administration intends “to continue to make our case to Congress about the danger to the world of a failure of North Korea to live up to its required positions in the agreed framework and the fact that if we don’t do our share, it will be harder to get them to do that.”

The Associated Press (“INDIA, PAKISTAN CRITICIZED FOR NUCLEAR TESTS AT U.N. CONF,” Vienna, 09/21/98) reported that Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), criticized the DPRK for failing to cooperate with the IAEA. In particular, he said that the DPRK has not preserved material the IAEA needs to verify the accuracy of information the country has provided on its nuclear program.

The Washington Post carried an opinion article by former US ambassadors to the ROK Donald P. Gregg and James Laney (“DON’T DISMANTLE THE NUCLEAR FRAMEWORK ON KOREA,” 09/21/98, A21) which said that the DPRK’s recent missile launch underscores the importance of maintaining the 1994 Agreed Framework rather than scuttling it. The authors stated, “The immediate problem for the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), which is responsible for implementing a significant portion of the accord, is that a combination of North Korean ham-handedness, Japanese apoplexy, Republican obstructionism and Clinton administration flaccidity jeopardizes the progress that has been made with North Korea since the signing of the nuclear Agreed Framework in 1994.” Pointing out that the US and the DPRK have agreed to hold talks in the near future to address several issues of concern, the authors argued, “We would be well advised to wait and assess these talks before consigning KEDO to the trash heap.” They added, “It also should be remembered that the Agreed Framework was designed to deal with North Korea’s nuclear problem, not its missile problem. Now that the latter is a serious concern, it needs to be addressed in a new binding agreement.” They maintained, “KEDO has been a remarkable success and is the Clinton administration’s most innovative attempt to deal with a tough foreign policy issue.” They concluded, “Above all, we should not prematurely abandon KEDO. Without it, we would be back at ground zero in our dealings with Pyongyang, with mutual suspicions at dangerously heightened levels.”

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2. DPRK Satellite Launch

The Associated Press (“NORTH KOREA PROTESTS U.N.’S DISCUSSION OF SATELLITE LAUNCH,” United Nations, 09/21/98) reported that DPRK Deputy Ambassador to the UN Kim Chang-guk filed a formal protest Monday with the Security Council complaining about its discussion of the DPRK satellite launch. Kim’s letter stated, “The satellite launch is not a matter to be discussed in the Security Council, nor is there any precedent for such a discussion.” It added, “The mere fact that those countries gathered in the Security Council and slandered the satellite launch … can be construed as nothing but a peculiar phenomenon.” The letter rejected the council’s admonition that the DPRK should provide advance notice of such launches, arguing that the DPRK “has never been informed in advance by any countries, including Japan, which launched satellites in the past.” It added that the DPRK would continue its “full-fledged use of outer space for peaceful purposes, no matter what other countries may say about it.”

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3. DPRK Military

The Associated Press (Sang-Hun Choe, “N.KOREA SAID TO BE TRAINING BOMBERS,” Seoul, 09/19/98) reported that an anonymous high-ranking ROK government source said Saturday that the DPRK is training up to 140 suicide bomber pilots to plunge into key ROK targets if war breaks out on the peninsula. The official, who is involved in the ROK’s civil defense programs, said that the new unit appears to be fashioned after the Japanese kamikaze pilots of World War II. He added that the DPRK set up the suicide squads earlier this year to use its outdated Soviet-designed MiG-15 and MiG-17 jets. He also said that the new air unit appears to be under the direct command of DPRK leader Kim Jong-il. Officials at the ROK Defense Ministry and the Agency for National Security Planning were unable to confirm the reports. Defense Ministry officials, however, pointed out that the DPRK typically calls its soldiers “human bombs,” ready to sacrifice their lives.

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4. ROK Food Aid for DPRK

The Associated Press (“S.KOREA TO SEND FOOD AID TO N.KOREA,” Seoul, 09/18/98) reported that ROK Ministry of National Unification officials said Friday that civic groups will send more than US$700,000 worth of food to the DPRK by the middle of next month. The ministry said that, for the first time, five civic groups will give aid directly to the DPRK instead of sending it through UN agencies or the Red Cross. Shipments of 2,510 tons of corn, 200 milk cows, sugar, and powdered milk will begin Monday.

The Associated Press (“N. KOREA ACCUSES S. KOREA OF PLOTTING TO KILL DONATED CATTLE,” Seoul, 09/21/98) reported that the DPRK’s official Korean Central News Agency on Monday accused the ROK government of a “vicious plot” to kill the 500 cattle it received as a gift from Hyundai founder Chung Ju-yung. The agency said that the cattle were force-fed indigestible material before being shipped across the border so they would later die slowly. The report said the scheme was devised by the ROK Unification Ministry and the Agency for National Security Planning (NSP). It added, “Their act proves once again that they are stooped to any plots to block the inter-Korean non-governmental cooperation and create distrust between the South Korean businessmen and us.” The news agency said that 15 cattle already have died and eight more are near death. Autopsies found vinyl strips and lumps of hemp rope in the stomachs of the dead animals, items “which cannot be seen in the DPRK.” An anonymous official at the NSP stated, “It is nonsense. It is not even worth making a comment.” Hyundai officials declined comment, saying they had no information about the DPRK’s claim.

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5. DPRK Tourism Project

The Associated Press (“HYUNDAI GROUP TO DELAY SIGHTSEEING TOURS TO N. KOREA,” Seoul, 09/21/98) reported that Hyundai Group Chairman Chung Mong- hun said Monday that the group’s planned sightseeing tours of Mt. Kumgang in the DPRK will be delayed for at least a month. Chung, returning from a trip to the DPRK, stated, “I believe we will be able to start the tours in mid-October at the earliest.” Hyundai had planned to start the tours Friday. Chung stated, “Some working-level issues have yet to be resolved,” adding that the project was not being delayed because of political reasons.

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6. ROK Defense Budget

The Associated Press (“S. KOREA’S DEFENSE BUDGET TO DECREASE FOR FIRST TIME,” Seoul, 09/21/98) reported that the ROK said Monday that it plans to trim its defense budget by 0.4 percent next year, the first contraction in the country’s history. The Defense Ministry said it would ask the National Assembly for 13.74 trillion won for 1999, down from 13.8 trillion won this year. The ministry said that most cuts will come in administrative costs and will not seriously affect the ROK’s defense posture. Defense spending represented 17 percent of this year’s overall budget of 80.76 trillion won.

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7. Seoul Peace Prize

Reuters (“SEOUL PEACE PRIZE AWARDED TO U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL,” Seoul, 09/21/98) reported that the ROK on Monday named UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan the winner of the Seoul Peace Prize for his contribution to world peace. Lee Chung-seung, the president of the Seoul Peace Prize Committee, said in a statement that Annan would be awarded US$200,000 and a plaque for his role in ending a standoff over UN arms inspections in Iraq. The statement said Annan would be also be given the award for his contribution to peace on the Korean peninsula, including voicing the UN’s opposition to Taiwan’s shipment of nuclear waste to the DPRK and urging Japan to provide food aid to the DPRK. Lee stated, “These activities clearly demonstrate Mr. Annan’s keen interests in inter-Korean issues as an ardent peace lover.” The peace prize was inaugurated in 1990 and is awarded to people or institutions contributing to world peace. It is financed by profits from the Seoul Olympic Games and by an ROK sports promotion fund.

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8. US-Japan Security Talks

The United States Information Agency (“JOINT U.S.-JAPAN STATEMENT ON 9/20 SECURITY MEETING,” USIA Text, Washington, 09/21/98) reported that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Secretary of Defense William Cohen, and their Japanese counterparts discussed the security environment in Northeast Asia and issues concerning the bilateral security relationship between the US and Japan at the September 20 meeting of the Security Consultative Committee (SCC). According to the Joint US-Japan Statement on the meeting, the SCC “reconfirmed both governments’ perception that the August 31 missile launch by North Korea presents a serious threat to the security interests of our two countries and to the region.” It added, “The Ministers called on North Korea not to develop, test, launch or deploy missiles, or export missiles and related material and technology” and “affirmed their support for the Agreed Framework and KEDO (the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization) as the best means for preventing the danger of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula.” The statement also said, “The Ministers affirmed that strong and healthy U.S.-Japan ties are essential to furthering our respective cooperation with China on regional and global issues. They also reviewed other regional issues, including the situation in Russia and Southeast Asia.” The two sides also discussed the Guidelines for US-Japan Defense Cooperation, and the Japanese side confirmed its intention to seek early passage of the Guidelines legislation package. Both sides emphasized the importance of Ballistic Missile Defense, and pledged to proceed with further work in the direction of conducting cooperative research.

The Associated Press (“ALBRIGHT: KEEP HEAT ON NORTH KOREA,” New York, 09/21/98) reported that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Sunday that the US and Japan must “keep the heat on” the DPRK to abide by its obligations under the Agreed Framework. Albright stated, “Neither of our nations is under any illusions about the government of Pyongyang or the potential threat it poses to peace and stability in the region.” She added, “We must keep the heat on Pyongyang by meeting our commitments … even as we press North Korea’s leaders to meet theirs.” Japanese Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura concurred that the Agreed Framework is “the best method for preventing nuclear development by North Korea. On this score, Japan and the United States see eye-to-eye.”

The Associated Press (Laura Myers, “U.S., JAPAN ANNOUNCE JOINT MISSILE DEFENSE PROGRAM,” New York, 09/20/98) reported that the US and Japan agreed Sunday to conduct joint research on a missile defense system. US Defense Secretary William Cohen stated, “No one should doubt our commitment to defend our interests and to work together for peace and stability in Asia. And this is the best way to protect both the United States and Japan.” No target date was set for the project. Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Masahiko Komura stated, “Our two countries will spare no efforts” to improve defense and security in the region. Komura also said that Japan still supports the KEDO agreement, but added, “We cannot go ahead with the smooth contribution of $1 billion as if a missile launch had not taken place at all. That would only send the wrong message to the North Koreans … that they will, with impunity, do almost anything at any time.”

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9. Japanese Defense Minister Injured

Reuters (“JAPANESE DEFENSE CHIEF INJURED IN CAR ACCIDENT AT PENTAGON,” Washington, 09/21/98) reported that US defense officials said that Japanese Defense Minister Fukushiro Nukaga was injured Monday when a steel barrier accidentally lifted under his limousine as he arrived at the Pentagon for talks with US Defense Secretary William Cohen. A US Defense Department spokesman said that Nukaga and other Japanese officials in the car were taken to a nearby hospital by ambulance to check possible back or other injuries, but the extent of their injuries was not immediately known.

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10. PRC-Taiwan Relations

The Associated Press (“CHINA REPORTEDLY PRESSURING TAIWAN,” Taipei, 09/20/98) reported that Taiwanese newspapers said Sunday that the PRC is stepping up efforts to isolate Taiwan diplomatically and force it into reunification talks. Taiwan’s United Daily News reported that PRC Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan plans to hold private talks in New York this week with the foreign ministers of Costa Rica and Panama, two of the 27 countries that recognize the Nationalist government in Taiwan. Meanwhile, Taiwan’s main negotiator, Shi Hwei-yow, will travel to the PRC on Tuesday to make further arrangements for the visit of Koo Chen-fu, chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation, to the PRC next month. In a separate report, the paper said that PRC officials in Beijing are calling for a timetable to be set down for Taiwan’s return to the PRC. It quoted unidentified PRC officials as saying that PRC President Jiang Zemin hopes to make a major breakthrough on relations with Taiwan during his term as president.

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11. India-Pakistan Nuclear Tests

The Associated Press (“INDIA, PAKISTAN CRITICIZED FOR NUCLEAR TESTS AT U.N. CONF,” Vienna, 09/21/98) reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency opened its annual conference Monday with criticisms of India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear tests. Yukata Takeyama, chairman of Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission, told delegates at the conference, “Japan finds the nuclear tests totally unacceptable as they pose a grave challenge to the international non-proliferation regime and seriously undermines stability in South Asia.”

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12. India-Pakistan Talks

The Associated Press (Donna Bryson, “LITTLE SEEN FROM MEETING OF INDIA, PAKISTAN LEADERS,” New Delhi, 09/21/98) reported that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee will hold talks Wednesday at the United Nations. Maleeha Lodhi, editor of the Pakistani newspaper The News and former Pakistani ambassador to the US, stated, “The entire international community is actually saying that India and Pakistan have to sit down and resolve their differences. The best you can expect is that it will reduce tensions.” Jasjit Singh, director of New Delhi’s independent Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses, stated, “The reality is that things are going to move slowly. But we’re talking.” Indian envoy Jaswant Singh was also scheduled to meet with US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott Tuesday in Washington, to discuss the possibility of India signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Brahma Chellaney, a nuclear affairs specialist with India’s independent Center for Policy Research, said that Vajpayee still has to work to persuade not only opposition parties, but members of his own governing coalition that a change of attitude toward the CTBT is justified.

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13. Clinton’s South Asia Trip

Reuters (Carol Giacomo, “S. ASIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAMS MAY DELAY A CLINTON TRIP,” Washington, 09/19/98, A19) reported that US officials said Friday that US President Bill Clinton’s planned trip to South Asia this year is expected to be postponed because India and Pakistan have not made sufficient progress toward agreeing to curb their nuclear programs. They said that the White House has declined to announce a final decision on the trip until after Clinton meets Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif next week in New York, but aides doubt there could be enough achieved in time to make the trip possible. One senior US official said that when Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, National Security Adviser Samuel R. “Sandy” Berger, and other top aides discussed the South Asia nuclear situation at the White House last Friday, they agreed India and Pakistan “have a long way to go before we can recommend a trip.” One unnamed US official said that US-Indian talks were “going downhill…. We haven’t really gotten to first base with them. And that has spilled over into the Pakistani dynamic.” However, another official cautioned that every day brings “radically different developments from both governments,” and hence there could be movement next week.

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14. US-Pakistan Talks

The Wall Street Journal (Jonathan Karp, “PAKISTAN’S LEADER TO MEET CLINTON AMID TREATY HOPE,” New Delhi, 09/21/98) reported that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was scheduled to meet US President Bill Clinton Monday. Diplomats in Islamabad said that Pakistan has indicated that it is ready to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in exchange for an end to US-led economic sanctions. Local press reports said that Sharif will announce Pakistan’s acceptance of the CTBT in his speech to the UN on Wednesday. Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Tariq Altaf refused to confirm the reports, saying, “We are not opposed to the CTBT, but the coercive atmosphere is weighing heavily on everyone’s mind here.” He suggested that Sharif’s public statement will depend on the outcome of his meeting with Clinton.

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15. US Non-Proliferation Official

The United States Information Agency (“WHITE HOUSE CREATES NEW DOE NON- PROLIFERATION POSITION,” Washington, USIA Text, 09/21/98) reported that US President Bill Clinton announced his plan on September 18 to create the new position of assistant secretary for Non-Proliferation and National Secretary at the Department of Energy. Rose Eilene Gottemoeller, who is currently serving as the Energy Department’s Director of the Office on Nonproliferation and National Security, is the nominee. The Assistant Secretary will serve as the Secretary’s principal advisor on matters of nonproliferation and arms control, nonproliferation research and development programs, emergency management policy, and the safeguards and security at the Department of Energy.

II. Republic of Korea

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1. Implementation of Agreed Framework

The US House of Representatives approved a US$12.5 billion foreign aid bill Thursday which included the barring of the release of US$35 million to finance heavy oil deliveries to the DPRK. The House’s move was touched off by the recent DPRK satellite launch and is expected to further deadlock the Clinton administration’s efforts to save the troubled 1994 Geneva nuclear agreement. (Chosun Ilbo, “US HOUSE CUTS FUEL AID TO NK,” 09/21/98)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is expected to adopt a resolution calling on the DPRK to abide by its safeguard accord with the agency at its annual general assembly Monday in Vienna. An ROK government official said Sunday that at the five-day meeting, the DPRK will be urged to take all measures to keep intact all information regarding its nuclear verification efforts in the DPRK. During the Vienna session, ROK Science-Technology Minister Kang Chang-hee will ask the DPRK to verify whether its huge underground facilities now under construction near Yongbyon are for storing nuclear facilities. (Korea Times, “IAEA TO ASK TO COMPLY WITH SAFEGUARD ACCORD,” 09/21/98)

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2. ROK Food Aid for DPRK

DPRK officials reported Monday that 15 of the 500 cows shipped by the Hyundai Group last June have already died, and that 8 are close to death. Ingestion of indigestibles such as vinyl and rope has been cited as the cause of deaths; however, observers say that the root cause is likely a lack of feed in the famine-stricken country. A Pyongyang radio station monitored by the Naewoo News Agency accused the ROK government and the ROK National Security Planning Agency of feeding the indigestibles to the cows before sending them across the Demilitarized Zone to thwart cooperation between the DPRK and private parties in the ROK. ROK officials have denied the accusations, but have admitted that it is possible that the cows could have chewed the canvas coverings of the transport trucks that took them on their long journey to the DPRK. It is speculated that the allegations are being made in the hopes of securing food in the place of a second shipment of 500 more cows, as was originally planned. (Chosun Ilbo, “NORTH COMPLAINS OVER DEATH OF 15 HYUNDAI COWS,” 09/21/98)

According to news reports, it was learned Friday that the DPRK has asked the Hyundai group for cattle fodder to feed the cows that the company sent to the DPRK. Hyundai’s negotiators on the Mount Kumkang project were told that, as people were starving, they had no need for the second shipment of 501 cows and asked for grains to be sent instead to feed them, along with the fodder. (Chosun Ilbo, “NK ASKS HYUNDAI FOR CATTLE FODDER,” 09/21/98)

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3. DPRK Tourism Project

The Hyundai group announced Friday that chairman Chung Mong-hun would visit the DPRK through Beijing on Saturday after a one week delay to finalize the Mount Kumkang project. The trip was postponed because the DPRK had suddenly stopped contact with the company. The facilities, vehicles, and personnel to build a terminal at the Changjun harbour will leave Ulsan and Seokcho on Wednesday. Chung will take care of safety and routing issues and decide on a start date, before returning on Monday. (Chosun Ilbo, “HYUNDAI CHAIRMAN TO VISIT NK SATURDAY,” 09/21/98)

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4. US-Japan Talks

Japan’s economic recovery effort and the DPRK’s test of a new missile will figure prominently in talks Tuesday between US President Bill Clinton and Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi. Significantly, experts and officials said, the exchange will amount to a show of solidarity between the world’s two biggest economies as East Asia grapples with a lingering recession and the threats of the DPRK. Clinton and Obuchi are to meet Tuesday at the old Rockefeller family estate in Tarrytown, New York, simultaneously with the opening of the UN General Assembly. The two leaders are also certain to discuss the DPRK, which on August 31 tested an advanced new rocket that far surpassed expert assessments of its ballistic capabilities. (Korea Times, “US JAPANESE LEADERS TO DISCUSS ECONOMY AND NK,” 09/21/98)

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5. ROK-Japan Relations

According to a Japanese press report, ROK President Kim Dae-jung will move to build the type of political climate that will enable him to invite the Japanese emperor to the ROK in 2001. The report quoted a Japanese parliament member, Dan Hideo, who had visited President Kim earlier that day, as saying that the president plans to explore ways to invite the Japanese emperor. Meanwhile another Japanese newspaper, the Mainichi, reported that President Kim is likely to invite Emperor Akihito to visit the ROK when they meet during Kim’s October 7-10 visit. (Chosun Ilbo, “AKIHITO LIKELY TO VISIT KOREA: JAPANESE PRESS,” 09/21/98)

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6. DPRK Rocket Launch

The US Department of Defense (DOD) announced Thursday that it cannot confirm the truth of a recent media report that a fragment of the DPRK rocket launched August 31 dropped in the waters off the coast of Alaska. A DOD spokesperson said that the government does not have any information with regard to the press report and said that even specialists are in disagreement about how the radar tape which monitored the DPRK rocket launch is to be interpreted. He added that there are new interpretations of the rocket launch, but reconfirmed the DOD’s evaluation that the DPRK launched a satellite that failed to go into its intended orbit. (Chosun Ilbo, “US UNABLE TO CONFIRM IF NK ROCKET HIT ALASKAN SEAS,” 09/21/98)

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7. DPRK Military

The DPRK launched a “Kamikaze” or suicide squad with some 140 run-down fighters early this year with a view to attacking the ROK’s key targets, according to a high-level ROK government official Saturday. He said that the DPRK established a Kamikaze-style commando band and recruited pilots for MiG-15 and MiG-17 fighting planes used by the band. The DPRK singled out some 200 qualified personnel out of tens of thousands of volunteers. Another official in the ROK government also said, “The fighters of the ‘Kamikaze’ air-raid squad could be outfitted with chemical weapons, including poison gas.” The squad, organized under Kim Jong-il, chairman of the powerful DPRK National Defense Commission (NDC) and the country’s top leader, is known to have underground training bases in Wonsan and Haeju, near the border line with the ROK. Cho Myong-rok, the NDC’s first vice chairman, would in a possible scenario directly lead the Kamikaze squad, which would be able to make an incursion into the ROK by flying at a very low altitude of 100 to 200 meters. The DPRK would allegedly commission the squad to attack the ROK’s key institutions, including the ROK presidential office, the ROK Defense Ministry, and the ROK Integrated Government Complex Building. The DPRK’s Air Force maintains 500 fighters, including 60 new fighter-bombers and older generations of MiG fighters, to be used for the suicidal commandos, bringing the total to 320, the ROK official said. (Korea Times, “KAMIKAZE ATTACK SQUAD IN NK,” 09/21/98)

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