NAPSNet Daily Report 23 April, 2008

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NAPSNet Daily Report 23 April, 2008

NAPSNet Daily Report 23 April, 2008


Contents in this Issue:

Preceding NAPSNet Report

I. NAPSNet

1. US on DPRK Terror List Status

Reuters (Arshad Mohammed, “NORTH KOREA LIKELY TO STAY ON U.S. TERROR LIST IN REPORT”, Washington, 2008/04/20) reported that the DPRK is expected to remain on the US state sponsors of terrorism list when the US releases its annual report on global terrorism next week, the US State Department said. The “Country Reports on Terrorism” document, scheduled for release on April 30, describes countries’ efforts to combat terrorism and lists the five Washington views as state sponsors of such violence: Cuba, Iran, the DPRK, Sudan and Syria. State Department spokesman Tom Casey sought to quell speculation that the DPRK could be dropped from the list as early as next week. “A country’s inclusion or noninclusion as a state sponsor of terror has absolutely nothing to do, and never has, with the release of an annual report that .. catalogues previous year’s activities and actions with (respect) to terrorism,” he said.

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2. Alledged DPRK-Syrian Nuclear Cooperation

The Associated Press (Pamela Hess and Matthew Lee, “CONGRESS TO HEAR OF ALLEGED SYRIAN, NKOREAN NUKE COOPERATION “, Washington, 2008/04/22) reported that members of Congress will be told this week about intelligence suggesting that the DPRK was helping Syria build a nuclear reactor similar to one it has constructed, a government official familiar with the matter said. Congress will be presented with evidence that the DPRK was helping Syria construct a reactor similar to its facility at Yongbyon, in the west-central part of the country, said the government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. That reactor has in the past produced a small amount of plutonium, which can be a component in nuclear weapons.

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3. US on DPRK Nuclear Program

Chosun Ilbo (“U.S. WANTS N.KOREA TO DECLARE NUCLEAR WARHEADS”, 2008/04/20) reported that the US is asking the DPRK to include a full account of the number of nuclear warheads it has produced in its declaration of nuclear programs and stockpiles. According to a ROK government source, the US has decided to allow the DPRK to “indirectly acknowledge” its uranium enrichment program and nuclear proliferation to Syria, but the DPRK must declare its weapons-grade plutonium. This means the US wants the DPRK to document the total amount of plutonium, the number of nuclear warheads, and the logbook of the Yongbyon atomic reactor and nuclear reprocessing facility and their operation.

Agence France-Presse (“US TEAM CROSSES BORDER FOR NKOREA NUCLEAR TALKS “, Seoul, 2008/04/20) reported that a team of US experts crossed the heavily fortified inter-Korean border into the DPRK on Tuesday to discuss Pyongyang’s promised declaration of its nuclear activities, officials said. The group led by Sung Kim, director of the Korean Affairs office at the US State Department, left Seoul for Pyongyang by car Tuesday morning, according to the US embassy here. “They crossed the border by land at around 11:00 am (0200 GMT). They’ll return to Seoul on Thursday,” US embassy spokesman Max Kwak told AFP.

Associated Press (Hyung-jin Kim, “SKOREA SAYS US TRYING TO END NUCLEAR IMPASSE WITH NKOREA”, Seoul, 2008/04/23) reported that a team of U.S. officials visiting the DPRK was trying to resolve a deadlock in nuclear disarmament talks, ROK Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said Wednesday. “The North’s nuclear declaration has been put off, but the U.S. State Department experts’ team has been conducting the final works in Pyongyang since yesterday,” Yu told a ministry meeting, according to his office. If the trip results in progress, Yu said he hoped international nuclear talks would resume in May.

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4. Sino-DPRK Relations

Kyodo (“N. KOREAN FOREIGN MINISTER TO VISIT CHINA APRIL 26-29 “, 2008/04/22) reported that DPRK Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun will pay a four-day visit to the PRC from Saturday, a PRC Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said. The visit comes at a time when Pyongyang faces the task of giving a full account of its nuclear programs under a six-party denuclearization deal reached last year.

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5. Inter-Korean Relations

Xinhua (“DPRK SENIOR OFFICIAL CALLS FOR OPENING UP NEW PHASE OF INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS “, Pyongyang, 2008/04/22) reported that a senior official of the DPRK called for an anti-U.S. and anti-war struggle to fulfill the national unity, the official news agency KCNA reported. Yong Hyong Sop, vice president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK, called on the ROK to open up a new phase of inter-Korean relations and peace and prosperity through their concerted efforts, in a national meeting marking the 60th anniversary of the historic Joint Conference of Representatives of Political Parties and Public Organizations in the DPRK and ROK held from April 19 to 23 in 1948.

Donga Ilbo (“N.KOREAN DAM TO CAUSE WATER SHORTAGE IN S.KOREA “, 2008/04/22) reported that the DPRK is confirmed to be trapping water behind the walls of the Hwang River Dam in the upper stream of the Imjin River, something which will lead to a water shortage in certain parts of the ROK. Grand National Party lawmaker Hwang Jin-ha of the parliamentary defense committee said yesterday, “We have confirmed through Defense Ministry sources that North Korea has been storing water in the Hwang River Dam since the end of last year.” If water stored in the dam is not released, places along the lower stream of the river, including Yeoncheon County and Paju in the ROK’s Gyeonggi Province, will suffer a water shortage.

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6. Inter-Korean Economic Cooperation

Korea Times (“N. KOREA BARS S. KOREANS FROM TAKING POULTRY, EGGS TO GAESEONG”, 2008/04/22) reported that the DPRK asked the ROK not to bring birds, poultry and bird meat and eggs to the joint Gaeseong Industrial Complex, a DPRK border town, the Unification Ministry said. Pyongyang said the measure, which will go into effect Saturday, is to prevent avian flu from spreading to the DPRK, according to the ministry’s spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun. Currently, the ROK sends about 8.5 tons of chicken and 127,000 eggs every month to canteens in the complex, the ministry said.

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7. DPRK-Japan Relations

Xinhua (“DPRK ATOMIC VICTIMS DEMAND JAPANESE APOLOGY, COMPENSATION “, Pyongyang, 2008/04/22) reported that atomic bomb victims in the DPRK demanded an apology and compensation from the Japanese government for their suffering in World War II. The Japanese government has offered the DPRK victims neither an apology nor compensation for the latter’s sufferings in the atomic bombings in Japan’s Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, citing that Japan and the DPRK have yet to establish diplomatic ties, Gye SongHun, secretary-general of the Association of the Atomic Victims of the DPRK, told a press conference here. Gye said 1,911 DPRK victims have registered in the association, among whom only 382 are still alive but suffering from the after effects of the bombs.

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8. ROK Bird Flu Outbreak

Joongang Ilbo (Ser Myo-ja, “AUTHORITIES DETECT H5 CASE IN KOREAN SOLDIER”, 2008/04/22) reported that a 22-year-old soldier, quarantined since Sunday, is suspected of having been infected with a form of avian influenza virus, but did not develop symptoms, authorities said yesterday. Tests have shown that the virus detected in the patient’s body was an H5 strain, according to the ROK Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Following the initial examination of Cho, a small amount of H5 virus was detected,” CDCP head Lee Jong-ku said in a media briefing at the Health Ministry yesterday. “Since his condition is normal now, we believe that the virus did not cause serious harm.”

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9. ROK-Japan Territorial Dispute

Chosun Ilbo (“KOREA REFUTES NEW DOKDO CLAIMS FROM JAPAN”, 2008/04/22) reported that the Japanese Foreign Ministry in February on its website posted a 14-page document to support its claim to the ROK’s Dokdo islets. Entitled “10 Issues of Takeshima” — the Japanese name for Dokdo — and available in Korean and English as well as Japanese, the controversial document is highly likely to mislead readers as to the legitimacy of Japan’s claims to the East Sea islets. Now, the Dokdo Research Center under the ROK Maritime Institute has produced a document entitled “Did Dokdo Really Belong to Japan?” which refutes the Japanese claims one by one.

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10. Yasukuni Shrine Issue

The Financial Times (David Pilling, “TOKYO WAR TRIBUTE BECOMES LOW-KEY AFFAIR”, Tokyo, 2008/04/22) reported that dozens of Japanese parliamentarians paid tribute at the controversial Yasukuni shrine on Tuesday, although no cabinet member attended – a sign the war memorial has temporarily lost its significance as a diplomatic flashpoint. The visit by 62 lawmakers, according to the tally of local media, came a day after the visit of Lee Myung-bak, the ROK’s new president, and a few weeks before Hu Jintao becomes the first PRC president to come to Japan in a decade. Takao Toshikawa, a political analyst and editor of Inside Line, said: “For Japan, this is shrinking as an issue little by little.”

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11. Sino-Indian Relations

Agence France-Presse (“INDIA NEEDS TO CATCH CHINA BUT GAP IS GROWING: FINANCE MINISTER “, New Delhi, 2008/04/22) reported that India needs to catch up economically with the PRC but the gap now is growing rather than shrinking, Indian Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said in an interview. “We want to catch up with China but that requires greater political consensus on the needed (economic) reforms,” he told the Wall Street Journal. The PRC’s one-party government can be quicker in spurring growth, Chidambaram said. “They are in the position to take some decisions which we are not,” he said. “We have to follow a process that is more consultative, more deliberative and more amenable to judicial scrutiny.” The divergence between the Indian and Chinese growth rates was an area of concern, he said.

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12. PRC Rural Unrest

Reuters (“CHINA POLICE “SHOOT TWO” IN VILLAGE LAND PROTEST”, Hong Kong, 2008/04/22) reported that PRC police opened fire during a clash over land use between villagers and employees of the PRC’s number two gold miner, killing two and wounding more than 20, a Hong Kong newspaper said. Ming Pao cited unidentified sources as saying riot police in the southwestern province of Yunnan were sent in on Sunday after almost 100 villagers clashed with Zijin Mining workers. The villagers were angry with offers of compensation and relocations when Zijin was trying to buy up small mines in the area, the newspaper said. An unidentified police official told the newspaper the shooting was in self-defense and that just one person was killed.

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13. PRC Security

The Associated Press (Tomislav Skaro, “UIGHUR REJECTS TERROR CLAIMS “, Berlin, 2008/04/22) reported that a leading activist for ethnic Uighurs denied PRC accusations the Muslim minority group is planning terrorist attacks tied to the Beijing Olympics, saying that PRC leaders are trying to distract attention from their problems with Tibet. “Just recently the Chinese authorities said that they arrested some 45 Uighurs, and that they were terrorists planning to attack foreign tourists, athletes and reporters,” Rebiya Kadeer, the president of the World Uighur Congress, said at a conference in Berlin. “The Chinese government is attempting to divert the attention from Tibet and get the international community to focus on us,” Kadeer said.

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14. PRC Environment

Xinhua (“CHINA TO CRACK DOWN ON ENVIRONMENT DAMAGE CAUSED BY DUTY DERELICTION”, Beijing , 2008/04/22) reported that the PRC’s procuratorate authorities have prosecuted 3,822 government officials from 2004 to 2007 for dereliction of duty causing damage to the natural environment and wasting energy resources. “Their misconduct has cost the country billions of yuan in terms of direct economic losses,” Wang Zhenchuan, deputy procurator-general of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, said. Wang did not offer details as to the specific amount of economic losses, nor how severely the officials were dealt with, but admitted that crooked government officials were the reason why environment related crimes continued to occur.

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15. PRC Protests

The New York Times (Andrew Jacobs, “PROTESTS OF THE WEST SPREAD IN CHINA”, Beijing, 2008/04/22) reported that nationwide demonstrations against a French supermarket chain spread on Sunday as thousands of people protested what they said was France’s sympathy for pro-Tibetan agitators. The protesters have also been singling out Western news outlets, especially CNN, for what they said was biased coverage of unrest in Tibet. In a sign that the government was still allowing anti-foreign sentiment to spill over into rare street demonstrations, thousands of people rallied in front of Carrefour markets in six cities, including two, Harbin and Jinan, where there had not been protests earlier. The authorities maintained a heavy police presence but did not interfere with the demonstrators, according to wire service reports.

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16. PRC Internet

USA Today (Calum MacLeod , “CHINA VAULTS PAST USA IN NUMBER OF INTERNET USERS”, Beijing, 2008/04/22) reported that the PRC, already the world leader in cellphone use, has surpassed the USA as the No. 1 nation in Internet users. The number of PRC on the Internet hit more than 220 million as of February, according to estimates from official PRC statistics by the Beijing-based research group BDA China. The government is likely to confirm the leap at its half-yearly report in July. The percentage of American users — 71% — still exceeds the PRC’s 17%.