IN TODAY’S REPORT:
2. Alleged DPRK Spy Ring
3. ROK Financial Crisis
4. DPRK Famine
5. ROK Presidential Election
6. Political Effects of Asian Economic Crisis
7. Taiwanese Diplomacy
8. Nuclear Power and Global Warming
2. Alleged DPRK Spy Ring
3. Alleged DPRK Kidnappings
4. ROK Submarine Development
5. APEC Forum
2. ROK Financial Crisis
3. RF Missile Test
4. RF Portable Nuclear Devices
5. Chemical Weapons Ban
6. RF Strategic Missile Force
7. RF-PRC Military Sales
8. PRC-Japan-Taiwan Territorial Dispute
Reuters (“KOREAN TALKS LIKELY TO BE HELD IN SWITZERLAND,” Geneva, 11/24/97) reported that diplomats said Monday that the UN’s Palais des Nations is the likely site for the four-party peace talks on the Korean Peninsula that are due to start on December 9. One unnamed envoy was quoted as saying, “The U.N. could certainly offer the backup in terms of space, communications, staff and security that would be needed.” Officials at the UN missions for the four countries said that no final decision on the venue was likely until next week when advance teams were expected to start arriving, and UN sources said no formal approach had yet been made to the world body.
Reuters (“N.KOREA: TALKS TO FOCUS ON U.S. TROOP PULLOUT,” Tokyo, 11/23/97) and the Associated Press (“N.KOREA: US TROOP PULLOUT ON AGENDA,” Seoul, 11/23/97) reported that, according to the DPRK’s official Korean Central News Agency, the DPRK Foreign Ministry said on Sunday that the four-party peace talks scheduled for December will focus on the withdrawal of US troops from the ROK. An unidentified foreign ministry spokesman stated, “It has been promised that the talks will focus on the U.S. troop pullout and the conclusion of a peace agreement between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the USA, as we have demanded. That is why we agreed to hold the talks.” He added, “Thanks to our sincere efforts, confidence and political atmosphere for the four-party talks have been created. We will do all we can to make the talks contribute to peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.”
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (“SECSTATE ON ABC-TV’S ‘THIS WEEK’,” Vancouver, USIA Transcript, 11/24/97) denied that the question of US troop withdrawal from the ROK will be on the agenda for the four-party peace talks. Albright stated, “That is not a subject that is on the agenda up front.” She added, “The issue here is to get these talks started, and to see about how to replace a temporary armistice agreement with some kind of a full-blown way to stabilize the Korean Peninsula. I am not going to speculate about the future of American forces. They play a key role there. They will continue to be there. We are just starting down these talks, which are going to be very — I think they’re going to take quite a long time. We’re very glad that they have started — or the announcement that they will start, that I was able to make that. I think that we’re in for some fairly lengthy talks. The American forces there are key.”
Reuters (“ALBRIGHT HAILS KOREA PEACE TALKS, SEES LONG PROCESS,” Vancouver, 11/21/97) reported that US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on Friday called the announcement of Korean peninsula peace talks a “significant diplomatic achievement”. She stated, “We know that this is the beginning of a long road. However, success is in the interests of all the parties.” Meanwhile, State Department spokesman James Rubin stated that the US “remain[s] ready to consider further assistance” to the DPRK.
The White House (“CLINTON STATEMENT ON FOUR-PARTY TALKS ON KOREAN PENINSULA,” Washington, USIA Text, 11/21/97) released a statement Friday by President Bill Clinton regarding the four-party talks. The statement read: “I am pleased with the agreement reached today in New York to begin plenary talks on December 9 in Geneva to achieve a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. It carries forward the Four-Party peace initiative President Kim Young Sam and I launched in April 1996. In Geneva, the four parties — the United States, the Republic of Korea, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the People’s Republic of China — will together discuss how we can secure a stable and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula. There is a lot of hard work ahead. But this is an important first step and the United States is prepared to be a full partner in helping the Korean people build a future of peace.”
Reuters (“N. KOREA ACCUSES SEOUL OF FABRICATING SPY RING,” Seoul, 11/23/97) reported that the DPRK’s Pyongyang radio dismissed the ROK’s claim that it has uncovered a DPRK spy ring. The ROK’s Naewoe Press, which monitors the DPRK media, quoted a DPRK radio broadcast as saying on Sunday, “The South Korean puppets must immediately stop their groundless anti-Republic slander campaign consisting of an outcry over us, as well as their game of fabricating the spy incident involving the couple sent to South Korea.” The broadcast said, “As is known, South Korea is in all-out political confusion and in a political crisis. Because of the unprecedented political dog fight going on and the 15th presidential election around the corner, the ruling bunch is being pushed into an inescapable corner and South Korea is being turned into a mess. Fabricating spy incidents and announcing them before an election in South Korea is the puppet NSP’s [ROK Agency for National Security Planning] stereotypical scheme.”
The Wall Street Journal (Namju Cho, “SOUTH KOREA SEEKS IMF AID, BUT STRINGS WILL BE ATTACHED,” Seoul, 11/24/97) and Reuters (Robin Bulman, “SEOUL, IMF TO GET DOWN TO BUSINESS NEXT WEEK,” Seoul, 11/24/97) reported that Kim Woo-suk, director general of the ROK Finance Ministry’s international finance and securities division, said on Monday that full-scale negotiations between the ROK and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on conditions for a US$20 billion rescue loan will begin next week. He added that the ROK is unlikely to receive any emergency funds from the IMF for at least three weeks. Members of one IMF team who have arrived in Seoul began discussing the exact size and conditions for the loan with a Finance Ministry task force led by Deputy Finance Minister Kang Man-soo. ROK President Kim Young-sam, in a speech on Saturday, apologized for the country’s economic troubles and asked the people to practice austerity to overcome the crisis.
The AP-Dow Jones News Service (Kenneth McCallum, “HASHIMOTO:JAPAN MAY JOIN IMF KOREA AID-OFFICIAL,” Vancouver, 11/24/97) reported that an unnamed Japanese government official said Monday that ROK President Kim Young Sam has told Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto that the success of the International Monetary Fund bailout package depends on the cooperation of Japan and other countries. The official stated that Hashimoto replied that Japan is considering cooperating in the bailout, and added that Japan welcomes the ROK’s aid request to the IMF “to the greatest degree possible.” The official also quoted Hashimoto as saying that if Kim explains ROK economic policy to Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders during a meeting later Monday, Hashimoto will express support for the ROK’s position. The official noted that during the bilateral meeting, Kim did not request economic aid from Japan.
The United States Information Agency (John Lundin “AMERICAN RELIEF EXPERTS MONITOR DONATED USAID FOOD TO NORTH KOREA,” Washington, 11/21/97) reported that the Non-Governmental Organizations Consortium, the first team of US relief experts to spend three months in the DPRK, returned recently from monitoring food donated by the US Government. Consortium Chairman Els Culver stated, “For nearly three months, a team of five monitors… has worked in North Korea to help the World Food Programme target and monitor 55,000 metric tons of U.S. Government food. This program has provided over five million North Koreans with about a month’s worth of food.” Team member Dr. John LaNoue of Amigos Internacionales said that the Consortium delivered 1,100,000 sacks of food on this trip. He added, “Those sacks were emptied, and we know the food went to where it needed to be because those sacks were out in the fields being refilled with local harvests.” Consortium team leader Michael Frank stated, “health services [in the DPRK] are the worst I’ve seen. I’ve never seen hospitals as empty [of medical supplies] as I’ve seen in North Korea… blankets are worn thin [and] no heating.” The Consortium team agreed with the assessment of a US government team that also returned recently from the DPRK that while there is not a famine, “there is going to be a continuing serious food shortage.” Frank added, however, “We saw international aid making the difference between hunger and starvation.” He said that, although the team traveled widely, “There is still a lot of the country where there is no access. We need to continue to push to get access to those places.”
The Washington Post (Kevin Sullivan, “ECONOMY BECOMES MAIN ISSUE IN S. KOREA’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE,” Seoul, 11/24/97, A18) reported that the ROK decision on Friday to ask the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for an emergency loan has become a major issue in the upcoming presidential campaign. Ahn Byung-joon, professor of political science at Yonsei University said that the candidates “are all scrambling to say something useful.” However, Park Jae-chang, a professor at Sookmyung Women’s University, said, “Even in the political arena, no one was prepared to deal with this issue, so none of the candidates has presented a very illuminating solution.” A poll conducted Friday showed opposition leader Kim Dae-jung with 38 percent support and each of his two rivals with about 28 or 29 percent. Kim has said that an IMF bailout would be better than dragging out the problem to “save face.” Kim has also formed a partnership with Park Tae-joon, the founder of Pohang Iron and Steel Co., the world’s second-largest steel-maker. If Kim is elected, Park would be his likely choice for finance minister. Ruling party candidate Lee Hoi-chang meanwhile has joined with former Seoul mayor Cho Soon, an economist and former finance minister. Lee has named Cho chairman of a new committee to respond to the current economic crisis. This week, Lee and Cho merged their parties and formed the Grand National Party. Analysts said the name change will probably succeed in placing political distance between Lee and President Kim Young-sam’s failed economic policies.
The New York Times carried an analytical article (David E. Sanger, “ANALYSIS: ASIAN ECONOMIC TURMOIL WILL RESHAPE U.S. POLICY,” Washington, 11/24/97) which said that US policymakers are concerned that the recent economic troubles in Asia will adversely affect the political power of US allies. An unnamed senior US foreign policy adviser was quoted as saying, “This is a region where the political power has grown directly out of economic success. If Korea is going to be under the strictures of the IMF for the next few years and Japan is consumed with cleaning up its own act, we have a lot of thinking to do.” In particular, the article said that policymakers planning scenarios for responding to a potential collapse of the DPRK have long assumed that the ROK and Japan would invest billions of dollars in the DPRK, but now it is increasingly clear that far less cash will be available if the collapse happens while the ROK and Japan are working through their own economic strains. The article also quoted former ROK foreign minister Han Sung-joo as saying that the ROK’s economic problems will hurt its bargaining power in peace talks with the DPRK. “Any linkage of their concessions to our willingness to provide economic assistance will clearly ring hollow to the North Koreans,” he added. The article also said that the economic situation will affect military developments in the region. Masashi Nishihara, one of Japan’s leading defense experts, was quoted as saying, “We are going to see a significant slowdown in arms procurement, and that will almost certainly lead to a rise in fears about China.” He added that in Japan, pressure will grow to cut the billions of dollars that the Japanese government spends each year to maintain the US military presence. “You can see the disagreements with the United States starting on this,” he said.
The Los Angeles Times carried an analytical article (Tom Plate, “WILL PRAGMATISM EQUAL PEACE IN KOREA?” 11/23/97) which said that “a promising and potent new regional pragmatism” has arisen in Northeast Asia. The article said that one example of that new pragmatism is the PRC’s abandonment of its former ideological support for the DPRK in favor of reducing tension in the Korean Peninsula. “For the time being at least, China sees its national interest in cooperation, not confrontation.” A further example is the recent movement toward Japanese-ROK cooperation to solve the ROK’s financial crisis. The article said that one “reason for the emerging Asian pragmatism is that the region has been without serious international war for so long,” which the author attributed to the presence of 100,000 US troops stationed in Asia. The article quoted Singapore Foreign Minister Shunmugam as saying, “The role of the U.S. has been and will remain critical for the Asia-Pacific. Indeed, if not for U.S. involvement in the region, I don’t think Asia-Pacific could even have developed.”
Reuters (“CHINA SAYS TAIWAN CANNOT HOST APEC,” Vancouver, 11/23/97) reported that PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Shen Guofang said Sunday that Taiwan could not host a summit of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group because the island has not accepted the PRC’s rule. Shen stated, “In strict terms, only sovereign states are in a position to host an APEC meeting.” He said however that Hong Kong may apply to host the yearly gathering “because it has already returned to the motherland.”
The Associated Press (Charles J. Hanley, “WORLD DEBATES NUCLEAR POWER,” 11/24/97) reported that Hans Blix, the head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has been arguing that, with growing fears of global warming caused by fossil fuels, governments will soon realize they must embark on “the era of expanded nuclear power.” Steve Kerekes, spokesman for the US nuclear industry’s Nuclear Energy Institute, stated, “The world’s need for nuclear energy will essentially be the subtext of what goes on in Kyoto in December” at the international conference on global warming. The IAEA stated that nuclear plants, which supply 17 percent of the world’s electricity, already keep man-made carbon dioxide emissions at least 8 percent below what they otherwise would be. A White House experts’ panel on energy, citing the risk of global warming, has recommended that the US Energy Department’s annual budget for nuclear fission research and development be tripled to US$120 million by 2003. In Japan meanwhile, the influential Keidanren business federation has called on the government to “position atomic energy as the central source among the various sources of basic energy.” However, Japanese anti-nuclear activist Jinzaburo Takagi, citing a series of accidents at atomic power plants this year, said that such a plan “is absurd and unrealistic.” Anti-nuclear protesters recently held up a banner outside the general conference of the IAEA in Vienna which read, “Nuclear Death Is No Answer To The Climate Disaster.” Michael Oppenheimer, an atmospheric expert for the Environmental Defense Fund, stated, “Nuclear has a big economic monkey on its back. It’s too expensive. They can say whatever they want. It can’t overcome that economic problem.”
Amid every indication that the DPRK will agree on the minister-level Korean peace talks, the ROK, the DPRK, the PRC and the US opened a preliminary meeting in New York Friday. According to ROK officials, one of the controversial issues in the third round of the preliminary talks is how the international community should make additional grain aid donations to the DPRK. This preliminary round was reconvened because the DPRK exhibited flexibility on the agenda. Earlier, the ROK and the US called for the adoption of a “single, comprehensive” agenda designed to build confidence and reduce tension between the ROK and the DPRK. If they reach an agreement on the date and other modalities, the minister-level peace talks are expected to open early next month in Geneva with foreign ministers from the four countries attending. (Korea Times, “NK LIKELY TO JOIN FULL-DRESS PEACE TALKS,” 11/22/97)
Follow-up investigations of DPRK spies in the ROK involving a former Seoul National University professor, Ko Young-bok, are sending repercussions through political, academic and other sectors of society. After announcing the crackdown Thursday, ROK officials at the ROK Agency for National Security Planning (NSP) said they were conducting “extensive” probes to find more suspected DPRK sympathizers. About 200 people in “leading” positions of society, including politicians, professors and journalists, are on the probe list, according to officials. They declined to go into further detail, but some news reports said that those on the list include many “associates” of the arrested former professor. That group includes students Ko taught at Seoul National University, according to reports which quote unidentified investigators. (Korea Herald, “MORE PROBES OF SPIES SENDING REPURCUSSIONS THROUGH POLITICAL, ACADEMIC SECTORS,” 11/22/97)
An ROK Foreign Ministry spokesman said Friday that the ROK is considering putting before the United Nations human rights organizations the 1978 abduction case in which three ROK high school students were allegedly taken by DPRK agents. In announcing the result of an investigation of an espionage case involving a DPRK couple, the Agency for National Security Planning revealed Thursday that the three students were carried off to the DPRK by DPRK agents. (Korea Herald, “SEOUL CONSIDERS BRINGING NK KIDNAPPING CASE TO UN,” 11/22/97)
The ROK Defense Ministry has decided to award a 2-trillion-won submarine contract to Daewoo Heavy Industries, ignoring complaints by rival shipbuilder Hyundai. Accordingly, Daewoo, which is supplying 1,200-ton submarines for the ROK Navy, will also build 1,500-ton submarines with the help of German sub builder HDW by the early 2000s. The ROK ministry said it came to the decision after a comprehensive evaluation of local and foreign contractors’ capabilities following the ROK Navy’s request to buy 1,500-ton submarines. (Korea Times, “DAEWOO AWARDED W2 TRILLION CONTRACT FOR NAVY SUBMARINE,” 11/23/97)
Chong Wa Dae officials yesterday tried to defend ROK President Kim Young-sam against criticism of his decision to attend the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Kim’s chief foreign policy advisor, Mr. Ban, said “In view of the current domestic political and economic situation, some may well be skeptical of the President’s trip. But basically, APEC is an economic forum and it should be noted that practical issues have been added to the forum’s agenda this year.” Ban was referring to APEC’s decision to put the recent currency turmoil in the ROK and other Asian countries on the agenda when leaders of the eighteen economies gather in Vancouver, Canada, next week. “President Kim’s summit diplomacy at the APEC forum will help the government’s efforts to restore international confidence in our economy,” Ban said. (Korea Herald, “CHONG WA DAE DEFENDS PRESIDENT’S APEC TRIP,” 11/23/97)
Kommersant-daily (“ROK DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER IN MOSCOW,” Moscow, 5, 11/20/97) reported that Li Jong-rhin, ROK Deputy Defense Minister, came to Moscow November 19 on an official 3-day visit to have talks with Nikolai Mikhailov, his counterpart at the RF Defense Ministry. A memorandum is to be signed concerning the bilateral cooperation in development of weapons and defense technologies.
Segodnya’s Aleksandr Chudodeyev (“KOREANS HEAL THE ECONOMY WITH MICHAEL JACKSON,” Moscow, 4, 11/21/97) reported that ROK President Kim Young-sam on November 20 approved the retirements of ROK “chief financial person” Kang Gen-sik and Presidential economic advisor Kim In-ho due to their inability to deal with the growing monetary financial crisis. Lim Chan-yuel, former executive director of the World Bank, has been appointed as new Vice Premier.
Sovetskaya Rossia (“IN BRIEF …. SIANGANG,” Moscow, 7, 11//97) reported that “an international conference in Manila rejected an idea of creating an anti-crisis ‘Asian fund’ … of US$100 billion.” The idea emerged as a reaction to the recent monetary crisis in South East Asia. It was opposed by the US and the International Monetary Fund.
Segodnya (“A NEW BALLISTIC MISSILE EXPLODED AFTER LAUNCH START,” Moscow, 1, 11/21/97) reported the failure of a test launching of a new multistage ballistic missile at the Central Naval Missile Test Site in Nepoksa (Arkhangelsk Region). According to RF Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev “the missile exploded after the start.” The new missile was a sea-based one to be deployed on RF nuclear submarines. An investigation commission has been created.
Segodnya’s Aleksandr Koretskiy (“LEBED’S WORD IS NOT A SPARROW,” Moscow, 1, 11/21/97) reported that former Secretary of the RF Security Council Aleksandr Lebed said Thursday that so-called “nuclear briefcases” were produced in the former USSR in two modifications to use on land and underwater and that their weight was about 30 kilograms each. But, the author pointed out, in his “inexplicable fascination” with the “briefcases” Lebed “evidently overdid it” and “crossed an invisible line” by naming their service markings: “RA-115” for land devices and “RA-115-01” for underwater ones. If Lebed’s revelations are in any way true, then he might be persecuted under RF law for revealing a state secret.
Nezavisimaia gazeta (“CONTROL OVER NUCLEAR MINES IS NOT LOST,” Moscow, 2, 11/21/97) reported that Vladimir Klimenko, Chief of the RF Defense Council Administration, quoted a November 14 statement of RF Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev that there are no nuclear weapons in the RF, including portable ones, that could be used without the RF President’s authorization. The process of utilization of tactical nuclear devices, including all nuclear mines, has been going on in a planned manner to be completed by 2000. Prior to that similar commitments were taken by the USSR and the USA. Klimenko also said that earlier this week an official statement was made to US Congressmen Kurt Weldon that the RF system of development, ordering, accounting for, distribution, and utilization, and constant safety control of nuclear weapons at all stages, totally exclude the loss or theft of nuclear devices.
Nezavisimaia gazeta (“‘NUCLEAR BRIEFCASES’ SCANDAL INITIATED BY LEBED AND FUELLED BY YABLOKOV IS A BLUFF,” Moscow, 1, 11/22/97) published an article by journalist Andrey Vaganov and Dr. Georgiy Kaurov, Press Secretary of the RF Atomic Energy. The article pointed to recent remarks by former RF Presidential advisor Aleksey Yablokov threatening to “publicize the technical parameters” of the portable nuclear devices if RF President Boris Yeltsin does not reply to his earlier letter alleging that some of the devices are beyond Presidential control. The authors explained Yablokov’s actions by saying that he was trying to make use of Western countries’ concerns about former Soviet nuclear weapons for his own personal gain.
Segodnya (“CHEMICAL WEAPONS WILL ELIMINATED BY 2000,” Moscow, 1, 11/22/97) reported that Valeriy Kapyshin, Director of the RF Chemical Weapons Stockpiles Elimination Program, said that the chemical weapons of the RF Armed Forces will be totally eliminated by 2000 in accordance with the Chemical Weapons Convention. He added that safe elimination technologies have been developed in the RF, but implementation might be disrupted by inadequate financing.
Segodnya’s Aleksandr Koretskiy (“RUSSIAN ‘NUCLEAR SHIELD’ BECOMES OBSOLETE,” Moscow, 3, 11/19/97) reported that Colonel General Vladimir Yakovlev, RF Strategic Missile Force Commander, said Tuesday that the merger of his force with the previously independent Military Space Force and Missile Space Defense Force will save about 1.2 trillion rubles (US$200 million) next year. Yakovlev stated that with the present level of financing the existing group of RF reconnaissance satellites could continue their mission till 2001 at the latest and are actually “dying.” Two new missile regiments armed with the newest “Topol” and “Topol-M” strategic missiles are to be deployed at the end of 1997.
Nezavisimaia gazeta’s (“THE BIGGEST DEAL OF ‘ROSVOORUZHENIYE’,” Moscow, 1, 11/22/97) reported that Severnaya verf, the largest ship-building company in the RF, signed a contract Thursday with Rosvooruzheniye, the RF state arms trading enterprise, to produce two destroyers for the PRC Navy by 2000. The sum was not revealed, but reportedly the contract is the biggest in the history of Rosvooruzheniye in terms of “intensity of money flows per year.”
Kommersant-daily (“JAPANESE SHIPS PROTECT THE DISPUTED ISLES,” Moscow, 6, 11/19/97) reported that Japanese patrol ships have begun a permanent patrol regime in the area of the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyutao Isles in the South China Sea. The PRC, Taiwan and Japan all claim sovereignty over the isles. The measure came in response to actions by activists from Hong Kong and Taiwan, some of whom landed on the biggest island last year and planted flags of the PRC and Taiwan. This year 60 Japanese ships disrupted an attempt of Hong Kong and Taiwanese vessels to break through to the isles, which presently are under actual Japanese control.
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