I. United States
1. Japan on US Nuclear Deterrence
Agence France (“JAPAN ASKED US TO KEEP ‘NUCLEAR CARD’ IN NEGOTIATION WITH NKOREA,” 08/22/03) and BBC (“BBC MONITORING JAPAN ASKS US TO MAINTAIN NUCLEAR DETERRENT,” Seoul, 08/22/03) reported that Japan has requested the US not to exclude the possibility of using nuclear weapons against the DPRK even if the DPRK pledges to give up its nuclear weapons program during the forthcoming multi-party talks, a Japanese newspaper reported on Friday. Mitoji Yabunaka, head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, made the request to US Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly during trilateral policy talks held last week in Washington, Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said quoting Japanese government sources. Tokyofears that Japan might not be under the protection of the US nuclear umbrella if the DPRK attacks Japan after it obtains security guarantees from the US, the newspaper said. Yabunaka said the guarantees should only include non-aggression pledges without going further to ban the US use of nuclear weapons against the DPRK in return for the DPRK’s achievement of nuclear disarmament. Yabunaka is Japan’s top delegate to the six-party talks which also involve the two Koreas, the US, China and Russia. The US delegation will be led by James Kelly.
2. Japan on DPRK Cargo Ships
The Associated Press (Hans Greimel, “JAPAN: NO MISSILE PARTS IN N. KOREA SHIP,” Tokyo, 08/22/03) reported that Japan cleared all cargo bound for the DPRK aboard a ferry that had been suspected of smuggling missile parts and illicit funds, saying Friday that no irregularities were found in more than 60 tons of goods. About 30 customs officials in the northern Japanese port of Niigata spent Thursday and Friday inspecting cargo to be loaded on the Mangyongbong-92 after it glides into port on Monday amid high security. Customs inspector Kenichi Seki said his team “thoroughly” inspected the outbound cargo, and that “everything was OK.” The cargo consisted mostly of clothes, food, appliances and even used automobiles, he said. The 60 tons of cargo had a total worth of roughly $168,000, he said. The white-hulled ship, with North Korea’s red-star emblazoned on its funnel, was a focus of suspicion during its regular visits to Niigata. The ship hasn’t docked there since Jan. 15 amid allegations that it smuggles missile parts and illicit funds. Two port calls in June were scrapped after Japan promised to search every inch of the vessel and angry protesters mobbed the pier. Japanese officials pledged again to thoroughly inspect all goods packed on board and unloaded during the upcoming port call. And police are planning to mobilize 1,500 officers to assure there is no trouble when the ferry docks. Authorities fear there may be clashes between DPRK residents welcoming the ship and extreme right-wing groups and other protesters who oppose the visit. The ship is to leave for its home port of Wonson on Tuesday.
3. Japan Missile Defense
Reuters (“JAPAN MINISTRY SEEKS $1 BILLION FOR MISSILE DEFENSE,” Tokyo, 08/22/03) reported that prompted by worries over the DPRK, Japan’s Defense Ministry is set to make a budget request of more than one billion dollars for the next fiscal year to introduce a missile defense system, media said on Friday. The ministry also plans to boost its air-to-surface attack capability by ordering a GPS guidance system from the US to convert its air force’s existing bombs into “smart bombs,” the Mainichi Shimbun said in its late edition. Japanese officials have repeatedly warned that their nation lacks the capability to defend itself from the DPRK, which launched a ballistic missile that passed over Japan in August 1998 and is thought to have built one or two atomic bombs. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun financial daily said the ministry is expected to make a budget request of some $1.19 billion for the fiscal year starting next April, a large part of which would be for a new US-made missile defense system. The ministry wants to deploy the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile system, an upgraded version of the PAC-2 system that Japan’s air force already possesses, the paper said. It also wants to upgrade its four Aegis destroyers, currently equipped with high-tech missile detection systems, with a US-made missile defense system that includes the Standard Missile-3 (SM-3), the report said. A Defense Ministry spokesman declined to comment on the report. The Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM) guidance system that the Mainichi said the Defense Ministry plans to order were used by US forces during the war in Iraq. A Defense Ministry official denied that the system would give Japan the capability to attack foreign countries, saying that Japanese air force planes do not have the capacity to disable radar systems, the Mainichi said. The budget would need approval from parliament, and debate is likely to be heated due to Japan’s nervousness of anything that threatens to exceed the limits of its pacifist constitution.
4. PRC-Japan Mustard Gas Incident
The Associated Press (Audra Ang, “CHINA COMPLAINS ABOUT CHEMICAL WEAPONS,” Beijing, 08/22/03)and Agence France-Presse (“MUSTARD GAS VICTIM DIES IN CHINA FROM MASSIVE BURNS,” 08/22/03) reported that the PRC issued its strongest complaint yet about drums of mustard gas abandoned by the Japanese in World War II, vowing Friday that it will not tolerate the “cancer” that has killed one man and sickened dozens of others. PRC Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi summoned Japanese Ambassador Koreshige Anamia to make an “urgent protest,” the PRC Foreign Ministry said on its Web site. “This situation has developed to such degree that the Japanese government has a responsibility it cannot shirk,” Wang was quoted as saying. “Even today, 58 years later, this cancer is constantly threatening the safety of PRC people’s lives. It makes the PRC people furious.” Li Guizhen, a migrant worker, was among 34 people who took ill after being exposed to the gas that leaked from the barrels of chemical weapons in the northeastern city of Qiqihar, the official Xinhua News Agency said. Li died Thursday night at a military hospital in Qiqihar more than two weeks after he was exposed. Li bought five barrels of the chemical weapons on Aug. 4 to resell for recycling, Xinhua said. While opening them, he was doused with an oily liquid, which experts later confirmed to be mustard gas abandoned by Japanese troops in China at the end of World War II. The chemical burned 95 percent of his body and sickened others nearby. Japan’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing condolences and promising to continue efforts to clean up the dangerous leftovers from the war. “Japan will also continue to respond sincerely to the accident in close cooperation with the PRC side,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima said in a statement. He didn’t say whether Japan was considering compensation for the victims. It is estimated that more than 700,000 chemical weapons were abandoned throughout the PRC by Japanese soldiers in the closing months of World War II.
5. US on PRC Human Rights
Agence France-Presse (“CHINA ‘BACKSLIDING’ ON HUMAN RIGHTS: US,” 08/22/03) reported that the US accused the PRC of “backsliding” on its commitments to improve its human rights record, as a perennial feud flared up to test improving US-PRC relations. Arrests of political activists and prison terms meted out to internet essayists factored into the unflattering State Department assessment, which came at a critical point in US-PRC relations with Beijing poised to hold six-nation DPRK crisis talks next week. “We have made (it) clear during the course of the year that there has been backsliding,” said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher. “Unfortunately that pattern has continued. “Despite the progress in 2002 we’ve been disappointed to see the negative developments in 2003,” he said, adding that Washington was dismayed at Beijing’s response to promises made at a US-PRC human rights talks last year. “The commitments made by China at the conclusion of the December human rights dialogue have not been met.” His comments followed remarks by US Assistant Secretary of State Lorne Craner in an interview published Thursday in the Washington Post which also contained a scathing critique of the PRC’s performance. “There were commitments made last December and those commitments have not been met,” Craner was quoted as saying. “As far as we’re concerned the PRC have not done well, and its disappointing.” Craner said President George W. Bush decided not to introduce a resolution critical of the PRC at the UN Human Rights Commission in April, based on the promises Beijing officials made in December. Boucher said that the US would keep up the pressure on Beijing to live up to what he said were its commitments. “We’re going to keep pushing for more progress in the dialogue and pushing also for progress on human rights,” he said.
6. PRC and Nuclear Proliferation
The Economist, (“Learning the hard way,” 08/23/03) reported that for years an unrepentant supplier to rogue bomb- and missile-makers the world over, the PRC is evidently having second thoughts about how many nuclear-armed neighbors it can handle. With Russia, India and Pakistan on its doorstep, it seems to have decided that the DPRK, which says it has a couple of bombs and is busy making more, is one too many. Leaving that prickly regime to its provocative ways could also touch off a dangerous chain reaction, with the ROK, Japan and Taiwan all able to turn nuclear at speed. Next week the PRC will host six-way talks in Beijing to help the US, the ROK, Japan and Russia start to lever the DPRK out of the nuclear business. The DPRK wanted to talk only to America, so China, its one semi-friend, had to press it to soften its threats and sit down with everyone else. Helping America tackle a proliferation problem, rather than making it worse, marks a welcome diplomatic about-face for the PRC. Yet its conversion to the anti-proliferation cause is still limited–and comes dangerously late. Until recently the PRC regarded promises to curb its nuclear and missile sales as little more than concessions to America, to be torn up whenever relations turned sour. Its nose-thumbing deals with Pakistan, Iran, Syria and others had plenty of nuisance value and brought in dollops of cash. Only now are the PRC’s leaders realising the cost to their own security. Extensive PRC nuclear help to Pakistan over the years (including handing over the complete design for a missile-mountable warhead) gave India its excuse in 1998 to test its weapons and declare itself a nuclear power, bringing a new hair-trigger instability to the India-Pakistan rivalry just across the PRC’s frontier. Worse, the PRC’s former weapons apprentices are now in business for themselves. Pakistan supplied North Korea with the technology for the secret uranium-enrichment program that sparked the latest nuclear crisis there (the North had previously been caught illicitly producing bomb-useable plutonium); there are fears, too, that it may have passed on the blueprint for that PRC warhead. Originally the PRC, but more recently Pakistan and the DPRK, have helped Iran with its covert nuclear and missile programmes. By helping to contain the nuclear threat from the DPRK, the PRC is undoing some of the damage its past promiscuous sales have caused. Yet it could do a lot more. Despite a string of new export-control laws, PRC firms are still supplying illicit weapons, technology and materials. Other governments have difficulty tracking sales by unscrupulous weapons dealers too. Yet in the PRC many of the firms dealing in sensitive technologies still enjoy cover from their connections with high-ups inside the armed forces or the Communist Party. As for the DPRK, it has got away with its nuclear defiance thus far because the PRC, which supplies most of its food and energy imports, still refuses to contemplate sanctions that would force its boss, Kim Jong Il, to choose between his weapons and his regime’s survival. Instead other governments, led by America, have started to intercept the DPRK’s shipments of missiles, drugs and counterfeit currency that finance Kim’s expensive nuclear habit. The PRC is unhappy at that. Yet it has blocked all efforts at the UN Security Council to censure North Korea, even when earlier this year it became the first signatory to pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. By letting the DPRK break the NPT with impunity, however, the PRC encourages others–Iran is the next big headache–to think they can get away with it too. If the PRC has learned anything from the DPRK crisis, it ought to be that unchecked proliferation harms the PRC’s interests as much as anyone’s.
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