NAPSNet Daily Report 22 September, 1998

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"NAPSNet Daily Report 22 September, 1998", NAPSNet Daily Report, September 22, 1998, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-22-september-1998/

IN TODAY’S REPORT:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

I. United States

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1. US Food Aid for DPRK

US State Department spokesman James P. Rubin (“U.S. CONTRIBUTES ADDITIONAL FOOD AID TO NORTH KOREA,” Washington, USIA text, 09/21/98) issued a statement that said that the US has decided that it will further respond to the January 1998 World Food Program (WFP) appeal for food assistance to the DPRK by contributing an additional 300,000 metric tons of wheat. The statement added, “This wheat will be provided as part of the President’s July 18 wheat initiative.” The statement noted that the WFP plans to conduct a detailed harvest assessment in the DPRK in October. The final shipment of an earlier US contribution of 200,000 metric tons is due to arrive in the DPRK this month. The statement added, “We currently plan for the new U.S. contribution to be made in three tranches of approximately 100,000 metric tons each through the remainder of this year.” It also said, “U.S. assistance will be targeted at North Korean civilians who are most vulnerable to the effects of malnutrition caused by the food crisis, including children in nurseries, schools, and orphanages, pregnant/nursing women, handicapped people, and hospital patients, as well as the food-for-work programs to rehabilitate agricultural land damaged by deforestation or natural disaster.”

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2. ROK Food Aid for DPRK

The Associated Press (“S KOREA PROPOSES JOINT PROBE OF DEAD CATTLE IN N KOREA,” Seoul, 09/22/98) reported that the ROK on Tuesday proposed a joint probe of a DPRK claim that the ROK had plotted to kill the 500 cattle given as a gift by Hyundai founder Chung Ju-yung. The ROK Unification Ministry said in a statement, “We suggest that veterinarians and officials of North and South Korea jointly investigate to verify the North’s claim.” It added, “We cannot help expressing our deep regret that North Korea is groundlessly slandering the South over the cattle that have been donated out of pure compatriotism and humanitarianism.”

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3. US-Japan Missile Defense Cooperation

Reuters (Yvonne Chang, “NKOREA LAUNCH BOOSTS US-JAPAN ANTI-MISSILE EFFORTS,” Tokyo, 09/21/98) reported that analysts said on Monday that the DPRK’s firing of a rocket over Japan last month has given the US and Japan an ideal excuse to involve Japan in US efforts to create anti-ballistic missile defense system. Japanese defense analyst Tetsuya Tsukamoto stated, “The basis of all argument stems from that missile launch. If it wasn’t for North Korea, things would not have progressed this fast.” He added that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party could use the DPRK threat to push for passage of key security bills. He argued, “The general public finds the North Korean missile frightening, and it will be hard for the opposition parties to deny the threat posed by North Korea.” However, defense analyst Haruo Fujii warned, “The TMD (Theater Missile Defense) could eventually threaten the entire U.S.-Japan security framework. If officials are unable to prove the plausibility of the program, it could turn public opinion against them.”

The Associated Press (“CHINA WORRIES U.S., JAPAN AGREEMENT MIGHT SPARK ARMS RACE,” Beijing, 09/22/98) reported that the PRC expressed concern Tuesday that a US-Japan agreement to research an anti-missile defense system could set off an arms race in Northeast Asia. PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao stated, “All parties concerned should exercise restraint and refrain from doing anything that may cause tensions in the region and spark a new arms race.” He added that the PRC opposed any side trying to “seek military superiority and undermine regional security.”

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4. US-Japanese Summit Meeting

The Associated Press (Sonya Ross, “JAPAN’S ECONOMIC OPTIONS LIMITED BY POLITICS, CLINTON SAYS,” New York, 09/22/98) reported that US President Bill Clinton and Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi held talks Tuesday in New York. Clinton invited Obuchi to visit the US early next year and Obuchi accepted. The two discussed the Asian economic crisis and Japan’s efforts to deal with the situation.

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5. Japanese Nuclear Policies

Reuters (Elaine Lies, “JAPAN CALLS FOR END OF NUKE TESTS, MORE DISARMAMENT,” United Nations, 09/21/98) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi, in an address to the UN General Assembly on Monday, called on nuclear powers to pare down their arsenals. Obuchi complimented British and French steps to reduce their strategic arms and urged all nuclear weapon states to carry out their obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). He acknowledged that the current system was not perfect but added, “further advancement of nuclear disarmament by nuclear weapon states is more important than ever.” He said that the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan were “formidable challenges” to international disarmament efforts. He added that it was also necessary to ensure strict export controls on equipment, materials, and technologies related to nuclear weapons.

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6. PRC-Taiwan Talks

The Associated Press (“CHINA INSISTS REUNIFICATION DISCUSSIONS PREFACE TAIWAN TALKS,” Beijing, 09/22/98) reported that PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao on Tuesday urged Taiwan’s main negotiator, Shi Hwei-yow, to use his upcoming visit to Beijing to prove that Taiwan was committed to reuniting with the mainland. Zhu stated, “We hope the Taiwan side can present its sincerity, give up the position of two Chinas, and not prolong the negotiations on procedural matters for political negotiations.” Shi’s eight-member delegation is scheduled to meet Wednesday with Li Yafei of China’s Association for Relations Across the Straits.

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7. Pakistani Adherence to CTBT

Reuters (Carol Giacomo, “PAKISTAN SAYS COMPLIANCE WITH NUCLEAR TEST BAN DEPENDS ON U.S. SANCTIONS,” United Nations, 09/21/98) reported that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif told US President Bill Clinton on Monday that his country would sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) if the US waived economic sanctions. Pakistani Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad stated after the meeting, “The only thing is that we cannot take a decision as long as there is this atmosphere of coercion and economic sanctions. We have received assurances that the United States is doing everything possible to remove that atmosphere so we still have, I think, sufficient time.” Later, US National Security Adviser Samuel Berger said that Sharif told Clinton he would have “a positive statement to make with respect to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty” when he speaks to the UN General Assembly later this week. Berger said that Clinton “wanted to be helpful” to Pakistan but that the president “made clear that our capacity to do that is quite directly related to the progress we make on the non-proliferation issues.” Berger added, however, “Neither did the president give the prime minister any particular commitment with respect to what will happen if the (waiver legislation) were enacted except to say that, as the government of Pakistan made steps along the path of strengthening the nonproliferation regime, we would be in a stronger position to take steps on the sanctions side.”

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8. US-Russian Nuclear Agreements

The Associated Press (“U.S., RUSSIA SIGN TWO NUCLEAR AGREEMENTS,” Vienna, 09/22/98) reported that US Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson and Russian Minister of Atomic Energy Yevgeny Adamov signed two agreements Tuesday on nuclear privatization. Richardson stated, “The United States agreed to help Russia work towards privatizing its nuclear sector and promote investment in the Russian nuclear economy.” The first agreement clears the way for each country to get rid of about 50 metric tons of plutonium by breaking it down and selling it selling to Western uranium companies so it cannot be used for military purposes. In the second accord, the US will invest a total of US$30 million over the next five years to bring private companies and investors to 10 of Russia’s leading nuclear research centers. According to Adamov, Russian professionals working in the centers had become upset over unpaid wages, and nuclear experts in the US feared that researchers would begin searching for jobs elsewhere. Richardson said, “I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to us all that economic hardship not drive Russian nuclear weapons scientists into employment in places like Iran and North Korea.”

II. Republic of Korea

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1. Implementation of Agreed Framework

The ROK government and parliament are trying to persuade the US Congress to continue to supply heavy oil to the DPRK to prevent it from restarting its suspect nuclear program. ROK President Kim Dae-jung is planning to send a letter to leaders of the US House of Representatives and Senate soon to ask for congressional support of fuel aid for the DPRK, ROK government sources said Monday. In his letter to be delivered through ROK Ambassador Lee Hong-koo in Washington, sources said, ROK President Kim will stress that the ROK and the US need to continue the policy of engaging the DPRK despite rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The ROK National Assembly will dispatch a six- member delegation to Capitol Hill Friday to lobby US lawmakers for continued congressional support of the fuel aid for the DPRK. The delegation will be led by Representative Park Chung-soo of the ruling National Congress for New Politics (NCNP), a former ROK foreign affairs and trade minister. During their six-day visit, the delegates plan to meet Representative Benjamin Gilman, chairman of the House Committee on International Relations, and other congressional leaders. The ROK is worried that the US congressional decision not to fund heavy oil shipments will give the DPRK an excuse to cancel the Geneva agreement and resume its nuclear development. To stave off renewed DPRK hostilities, ROK Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Hong Soon-young, who is visiting the UN in New York, plans to meet with his US and Japanese counterparts and ask for their cooperation. (Korea Herald, “SOUTH KOREA ENTREATS US CONGRESS TO CONTINUE SHIPPING FUEL TO NORTH,” 09/22/98)

ROK Science and Technology Minister Kang Chang-hee plans to call on the DPRK to cooperate in good faith with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) inspection of its facilities, an official at the ministry said Monday. In a keynote speech to the 42nd plenary session of the IAEA, which opened Monday in Vienna, Austria, Kang will stress that it is critically important that the IAEA obtain comprehensive information on the DPRK’s past nuclear programs, the ROK official said. In addition, Kang will express the ROK’s misgivings over the DPRK’s uncooperative attitude to the IAEA review of past nuclear activities. (Korea Times, “KANG TO ASK NK TO BOW TO NUKE PROBE,” 09/22/98)

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2. DPRK Missile Development

The DPRK could deploy a long-range missile capable of threatening the US in less than four years, the ROK Defense Ministry said Monday. In a briefing on the North’s August 31 launch of a “rocket,” an ROK ministry spokesman said, “Considering the example of the North’s Rodong missile and the accelerated pace of development concerning its latest rocket, we see that its actual deployment in the form of a missile could come in even less than four years.” The ROK spokesman, however, said that the DPRK rocket, composed of three stages rather than the typical two, should be able to overcome problems detected in its test-launch, allowing it to have inter-continental range. Although he did not elaborate, it has been reported that the payload aboard the DPRK rocket, whether it consisted of a satellite or a dummy warhead, was too small and was not backed by sufficient propellant capacity. Thus, it fell far short of posing a clear and present threat to a land 6,000 km away. Some experts also doubt the DPRK’s ability to build a reentry vehicle that can hold a warhead and withstand extreme heat on its journey back through the earth’s atmosphere leading up to hitting its target. The ROK ministry also said the first two stages of the DPRK rocket were a success, while the third stage did not operate as planned. Addressing reports that the DPRK was planning a second launch of a projectile, he said that it was unlikely. (Korea Times, “NK COULD DEPLOY 6,000 KM RANGE MISSILE IN 4 YEARS,” 09/22/98)

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3. DPRK Economic Reform

The DPRK under the leadership of Kim Jong-il is expected to open its economy wider, albeit in limited way, by establishing more free economic zones and allowing greater rooms for private economic activities, an ROK report said Monday. In a report on the DPRK economy under the younger Kim’s rule, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) predicted that the DPRK will likely grope for a change to resolve its economic crisis so, within the extent that its current system is not threatened. The DPRK Constitution, revised earlier this month, reiterated that it would encourage free business activities within the free economy zones, the ROK report noted. “It is likely that Pyongyang will establish more free economic zones in Shinuiju and Mt. Kumgang areas, in addition to the existing Rajin-Sonbong area and Nampo-Wonsan bonded area just south of Pyongyang,” it said. The DPRK is also expected to redouble its efforts to introduce more foreign funds, from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Asia Development Bank (ADB), through improving relations with the US. The revised constitution also allows the DPRK people to engage in small-scale private farming nearby their homes and possess incomes earned through legal businesses, indicating it would permit private business activities within certain limits, the KOTRA report analyzed. In the meantime, the DPRK trade with neighboring countries will likely decline sharply this year, judging from its trade figure during the first half of this year, according to another KOTRA report. The DPRK’s trade with Japan and the PRC, for example, has declined 1.8 percent and 35.6 percent, respectively. As part of its moves to enhance economic cooperation with neighboring countries, the DPRK has recently established two join venture firms with Thailand, the KOTRA said. (Korea Herald, “KIM JONG-IL’S NORTH KOREA EXPECTED TO OPEN ECONOMY WIDER, BUT LIMITEDLY,” 09/22/98)

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4. ROK Defense Budget

The ROK government has decided to request Korean Won 13.749 trillion in its finalized defense budget proposal for next year, 0.4 percent less than it requested for this year. If approved, it will mark the first time the defense budget has decreased on a year-to-year basis. When outside factors such as consumer price rises are considered, next year’s defense budget is expected to contract even further. The requested budget breaks down to Korean Won 4.1403 trillion for force improvement (FI) projects and Korean Won 9.6087 trillion for personnel and maintenance. The FI portion of the total budget is up by 60 billion won, or 1.5 percent, from this year, while the maintenance expenses are down by 1.1 percent, or Korean Won 69.9 billion. The now-finalized defense budget proposal will soon be submitted to the ROK National Assembly for review. (Korea Times, “W13 TRILLION PROPOSED FOR 1999 DEFENSE BUDGET,” 09/22/98)

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5. US-Japan Missile Defense Cooperation

Concerned about the DPRK’s ballistic missile development, the US and Japan agreed to conduct joint research on a missile defense system that could protect the island nation from attack. “No one should doubt our commitment to defend our interests and to work together for peace and stability in Asia,” Defense Secretary William Cohen said Sunday at a joint news conference with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and their Japanese counterparts. “And this is the best way to protect both the US and Japan.” Japan has conducted preliminary studies, some with the US, on ways to defend against missiles. The US is developing several theater missile defense systems as well, although US scientists have not been able to overcome technological hurdles to knock a fast-moving target out of the sky. Now, the US and Japan will work together on research and development, which could lead to a missile defense system in the future. No target date was set. (Korea Times, “US, JAPAN WILL STUDY MISSILE DEFENSE TO COUNTER NK,” 09/22/98)

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Choi Chung-moon: cily@star.elim.co.kr
Seoul, Republic of Korea

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Tokyo, Japan

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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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