NAPSNet Daily Report 23 February, 1998

Recommended Citation

"NAPSNet Daily Report 23 February, 1998", NAPSNet Daily Report, February 23, 1998, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-23-february-1998/

IN TODAY’S REPORT:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

I. United States

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1. Light-Water Reactor Project

Nucleonics Week (Mark Hibbs, “DPRK INTRANSIGENCE ON SAFEGUARDS BARS PACE FOR U.S. KEDO EXPORTS,” Bonn, 02/19/98, 4-6) reported that US and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials said that the DPRK has made almost no progress in bringing its nuclear program into safeguards compliance. An unnamed senior US official was quoted as saying, “There are no ongoing talks about this, no negotiations, it’s absolutely ice cold.” US officials said that as long as the DPRK is not in compliance with its safeguards agreement with the IAEA, the US cannot conclude a nuclear cooperation agreement which would allow it to export reactor components to the DPRK. The article reported that a group from the IAEA Department of Safeguards led by Demetrius Perricos, director of Operational Division A, will visit the DPRK next week to try to persuade the government to allow the IAEA to verify the DPRK’s nuclear materials inventory at some future time. However, IAEA spokesman David Kyd stated, “If the North Koreans behave the way they have behaved so far, when Perricos comes back here we won’t have any satisfaction that they are keeping records intact to enable us to reconstruct their program history and assure continuity of safeguards.” The article also said that State Department officials had “informally advised” advised ABB-Combustion Engineering not to file an application for an export license to send reactor components to the DPRK. [Ed. note: See Light-Water Reactor Project in the US Section of the February 12 Daily Report.] The article also quoted congressional sources as saying that some US lawmakers are drafting questions for the Clinton administration regarding the state of the reactor project. One source said that some critics of the project are calling for sending non-nuclear electric generation to the DPRK instead of the reactors.

Nucleonics Week (Naoaki Usui, “TOKYO HINTS AT LARGER KEDO SHARE AS IT CONFIRMS JAPAN’S COMMITMENT,” Tokyo, 02/19/98, 6) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi told the Diet on February 16 that Japan continues to support the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO). He added, “We will seek to rectify the anomalous relations between Japan and North Korea, in a way conducive to the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula, in close contact with the Republic of Korea and other countries concerned.” On February 17, Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Sadaaki Numata said that there had been no “substantive change” in the operative concept that Japan will make a “significant financial contribution” to KEDO. He added, “precisely how that may translate into numbers is something that these ambassadors are working hard at.”

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2. Aid for DPRK

The Associated Press (“UNICEF TO DOUBLE AID IN NORTH KOREA,” Beijing, 02/23/98) reported that Omawale Omawale, UNICEF representative in the DPRK, said Monday that the agency plans to double its aid to the DPRK to fight diseases killing malnourished children. Omawale said that the agency has allocated US$14.5 million mainly to provide clean water, improve sanitation, and reduce diarrhea and respiratory infections.

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3. US Military in ROK

The Associated Press (“IRAQ CRISIS CUTS U.S. CREW IN KOREA,” Washington, 02/21/98) reported that General John Tilelli, commander of US troops in the ROK, said in a secret memo reported by the magazine “Inside the Air Force” that diversion of troops to the Persian Gulf has impaired his force’s ability to defeat a limited-warning attack by the DPRK. The report quoted Tilelli as saying that during the first phase of a battle with the DPRK, the absence of ammunition ships “places our ability to sustain defensive forces at very high risk.” He added, “The combined shortfalls in Patriot, Army Tactical Missile Systems, Hellfire and TOW missiles and 120mm … tank rounds will severely impact our ability to defend Seoul.” However, Tilelli also conceded that the risk of an imminent DPRK incursion is unlikely, given that DPRK forces are currently involved in major winter training exercises. He also noted that additional forces from the US and Pacific Command have been deployed to the ROK to “mitigate vulnerabilities associated with the USS Independence repositioning.”

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4. ROK-DPRK Relations

US State Department Spokesman James Rubin (“STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, FEBRUARY 20,” USIA Transcript, 02/23/98) said that the US would have to wait and see regarding the DPRK’s latest proposals to improve relations with the ROK. He added, “we support the concept of family reunification and better communication between families.”

The Washington Post carried an opinion article by Scott Snyder of the U.S. Institute of Peace (TWO KOREAS AND THEIR PROGRESS TOWARD PEACE,” 02/23/98, A19) which said that, while the ROK economic crisis has hurt the chances for progress in economic integration and exchanges with the DPRK, “it is creating a more balanced psychological environment for possible progress between the two Koreas.” The author added, “The major unknown is whether Pyongyang, facing its own political transition from Kim II Sung to his son, Kim Jong Il, and having become economically dependent on China and the international community to feed its own people, can muster a constructive response to changes in Seoul.” He said that progress in inter-Korean relations requires US help, for which “bipartisan support in Congress for a clearly defined negotiating strategy and close coordination both with South Korea’s new leadership and with our other allies and collaborators” will be necessary. He stated that the objective for the US and the ROK should be elimination of the DPRK’s military threat, since “without such an objective there will be no basis for congressional support for a peace process, much less the creation of an environment that might attract foreign investment to the North.” In return, the US and the ROK will need to offer the DPRK the prospect of greater security and economic rejuvenation. The author said that any progress in relations between the US and the DPRK will be useful “only if it is accompanied by normalization of exchanges and cooperation between the two Koreas.” He concluded that “the parties involved seem to be proceeding on the assumption that stabilizing that division is the most desirable objective for the immediate future.”

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5. DPRK Participation in Olympics

Reuters (Teruaki Ueno “NKOREANS WIN NO MEDALS, BLAME OBSOLETE EQUIPMENT,” Nagano, 02/21/98) reported that DPRK officials expressed regret Saturday at their failure to win a medal at the Winter Olympics. A DPRK official blamed obsolete skating shoes and other out-dated equipment for the failure. He added, “The biggest problem is money. We must start to cope with it in order to do better in international competitions.” The ROK meanwhile ended the games with three gold medals, one silver, and two bronze.

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6. ROK Presidential Transition

The Associated Press (“NEW SOUTH KOREAN LEADER NAMES PM,” Seoul, 02/22/98) reported that ROK President-elect Kim Dae-jung on Monday named Kim Jong-pil, founder of the Korea Central Intelligence Agency, as his prime minister. However, the majority Grand National Party vowed to defeat Kim Jong-pil’s appointment when the National Assembly votes on it on Wednesday, arguing that he lacks the background and ability to help deal with the nation’s financial crisis. President-elect Kim also named human rights lawyer Han Seung-hun as the chief government inspector, responsible for rooting out official corruption.

The New York Times Nicholas D. Kristof (“A NEW KIND OF LEADER FOR SOUTH KOREA, AND ASIA,” Seoul, 02/23/98) reported that ROK President-elect Kim Dae-jung said in an interview that he intends to transform the ROK into an example for the world. Kim stated, “I want Kim Dae-jung to be a model that is successful in Asia, proving that democracy and the economy can go together well.” He added, “In every country in Asia, including Korea, the major reason for failure was lack of democracy.” The article quoted Donald Gregg, former US ambassador to the ROK and now chairman of the Korea Society, as saying, “He is really going to change the whole profile of Asian leadership.” However, National Assembly lawmaker Lee Shin-bom warned that Kim’s aides “behave like a military junta.” He added, “I know Kim is a wise man and a courageous man and has a vision for our nation. But to run the government he needs to share decision-making and open up the policy process.”

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7. PRC-Taiwan Relations

The Washington Post (John Pomfret, “U.S. SEEKS CHINA-TAIWAN DIALOGUE,” Beijing, 02/21/98, A16) reported that former US Secretary of Defense William J. Perry visited the PRC last month at the head of a delegation of former US officials, including former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Shalikashvili, former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, and Ashton Carter, former assistant secretary of defense for international security policy. The group met with PRC officials to discuss PRC- Taiwan relations. Afterwards, Perry spent three days in Taiwan, where he told opposition leaders Chen Shui-bian and Hsu Hsin-liang that they should not count on US military support if they were to officially declare Taiwan’s independence. Taiwanese officials said his remarks constituted the most significant signal in years from the US about its intentions toward Taiwan. US officials said that Perry’s mission was part of an attempt by the US government to open an informal back channel of communication between the PRC and Taiwan. It was one of a series of meetings sponsored by Harvard University and the National Committee on US-China Relations planned for the next few years. An unnamed senior US administration official called the talks “a useful and necessary component of a not very productive official dialogue.” He added, “This is a way to get away from the formulaic and ritualistic nature of many of our contacts.” The Perry talks are also a way for the US to seek broader contacts with the PRC security establishment.

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8. Taiwanese Diplomacy

The Associated Press (“TAIWAN VEEP TO VISIT MIDDLE EAST,” Taipei, 02/23/98) reported that Taiwan’s Central News Agency said that Vice President Lien Chan left Monday on unannounced visits to the Middle East and Malaysia. He will receive an honorary doctorate from a Jordanian university, then visit Bahrain before returning via a brief stopover in Malaysia. Lien will also visit Lebanon’s capital of Beirut on February 27.

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9. Japan-Russia Peace Talks

The Associated Press (“JAPAN HOLDS PEACE TALKS WITH RUSSIA,” Moscow, 02/21/98) and Reuters “RUSSIA, JAPAN SALVE ISLAND ROW WITH FISHING PACT,” Moscow, 02/21/98) reported that Japanese Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi arrived in Moscow on Saturday for talks to prepare for a meeting between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto in April aimed at concluding a bilateral peace treaty between Russia and Japan. In his three days in Moscow, Obuchi plans to meet with Yeltsin, Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov, and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Obuchi and Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov on Saturday signed an agreement giving Japanese fishermen access to fishing around the south Kuril islands. Obuchi said that the pact symbolized trust between the two countries.

Agence France-Presse (Karl Emerick Hanuska, “RUSSIA AND JAPAN PLAN INFORMAL SUMMIT IN APRIL,” Moscow, 02/23/98) reported that a senior Japanese diplomat said Monday that Russian President Boris Yeltsin will hold an informal summit with Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto on April 11- 13 in Kawana, a coastal resort in Japan. The summit dates and venue were finalized during talks between Yeltsin and Japanese Foreign Minister Keizo Obuchi in the Kremlin. Japan meanwhile announced Monday that it would grant Russia a US$1.5-billion loan as part of the World Bank’s structural adjustment program for Russia. Yeltsin said the loan would be used to build housing for Russian servicemen.

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10. Global Land Mine Ban

US State Department Spokesman James Rubin (“STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, FEBRUARY 20,” USIA Transcript, 02/23/98) said that the US is not putting pressure on any government not to sign the global treaty banning land mines. He added, however, that there are discussions going on with allies on how to reconcile “essential defense cooperation” with the obligations of the treaty.

II. Republic of Korea

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1. DPRK Internal Affairs

ROK officials reported on February 20 that the DPRK is undergoing massive reshuffling of its government and is carrying out internal inspections of its military personnel. ROK officials, quoting sources in Japan, said that the DPRK has been pushing for consolidation of its government organization since the defection of Hwang Jang-yop. In addition, the Communist Youth League members around the DPRK-PRC border area are reported to be interacting with ROK intelligence officials and pursuing anti-governmental movements. The DPRK has begun a thorough investigation against such movements. (Kunghyang Shinmun, “DPRK IN PURSUIT OF GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION,” 02/21/98)

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2. ROK-DPRK Relation

The incoming Kim Dae-jung government stands at a crossroads of either switching policy priorities to a direct dialogue with the DPRK or maintaining the outgoing government’s stance, which focuses on the creation of a multinational mechanism for guaranteeing peace on the Korean peninsula. The outcome of the second four-party peace talks meeting, slated for March 16-20 in Geneva, will be decisive in determining the new government’s future DPRK policies. Key officials for the four-party talks in Seoul are feeling the patience of chief policymakers from the Kim Dae-jung camp evaporating, as the peace talks have had no tangible results. (Korea Times, Son Key-young, “KIM DJ STANDS AT CROSSROADS IN NK POLICY,” 02/21/98)

The DPRK has shunned ROK President-elect Kim Dae-jung’s idea of a six-nation declaration on peace and stability in Northeast Asia. In its first response to the idea, the DPRK said on February 20 that some ROK politicians are making a play of seeking a joint declaration by the two Koreas, the PRC, Japan, Russia and the US. “The fact that peace and stability have not yet settled on the Korean Peninsula is not because there is no multilateral declaration, but because the US stations its troops in the South, posing a military threat to the North,” the DPRK’s official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a commentary. (Korea Herald, “DPRK SLAMS DJ SIX-NATION DECLARATION OFFER,” 02/23/98)

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3. ROK-Russia Arms Deal

The Russian Embassy in Seoul has dismissed allegations that Russian weapons are incompatible with the ROK’s weapons system, which is mostly composed of US-made weapons. The embassy also asserted that Russian weapons of the same high quality as arms of any other country are 50 percent less expensive. The statement was issued in response to a local press report on problems with Russia’s bid for wider access to the ROK’s weapons market. (Korea Herald, “RUSSIAN EMBASSY SAYS WEAPONS COMPATIBLE WITH ROK SYSTEMS,” 02/23/98)

The NAPSNet Daily Report aims to serve as a forum for dialogue and exchange among peace and security specialists. Conventions for readers and a list of acronyms and abbreviations are available to all recipients. For descriptions of the world wide web sites used to gather information for this report, or for more information on web sites with related information, see the collection of other NAPSNet resources.
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Produced by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development.

Wade L. Huntley: napsnet@nautilus.org
Berkeley, California, United States

Timothy L. Savage: napsnet@nautilus.org
Berkeley, California, United States

Shin Dong-bom: dongbom_shin@wisenet.co.kr
Seoul, Republic of Korea

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

Hiroyasu Akutsu: akutsu@glocomnet.or.jp
Tokyo, Japan

Peter Razvin: icipu@glas.apc.org
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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