NAPSNet Daily Report 29 March, 1999

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"NAPSNet Daily Report 29 March, 1999", NAPSNet Daily Report, March 29, 1999, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-29-march-1999/

IN TODAY’S REPORT:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

I. United States

1. US-DPRK Missile Talks

Reuters (“U.S., N.KOREA BELIEVED TO BEGIN MISSILE TALKS,” Seoul, 03/29/99) reported that an unnamed spokesman for the US embassy in the ROK said Monday that US deputy assistant secretary of state Robert Einhorn is believed to have begun talks in Pyongyang with DPRK officials about the DPRK’s missile program. The spokesman stated, “We think the talks have begun, but there is no way of knowing.” He added, “It’s the first in a series of talks. One of the purposes of the first meeting is to set the ground rules.”

2. DPRK Missile Sites

The Chicago Tribune (“10 MISSILE LAUNCH SITES REPORTEDLY READY FOR USE,” 03/28/99) reported that the ROK’s Korea Herald newspaper quoted an unidentified ROK government source on Friday as saying that the DPRK has completed 10 missile launch sites. The paper also said that the DPRK is producing 100 Soviet-type Scud missiles a year in four factories, and that at least four other missile factories are suspected to exist. It said that about 10,000 workers are building missile launch engines in an underground facility in Kaechon, 50 miles north of Pyongyang, while a factory in Kanggye, 125 miles northeast of Pyongyang, is manufacturing missile parts, and two factories in Pyongyang are producing explosive compounds and assembling missile parts.

3. Alleged DPRK Infiltration in Japan

The Associated Press (“REPORT: N.KOREA SPIES ENTERED JAPAN,” Tokyo, 03/29/99) reported that the Japanese Sankei newspaper quoted unidentified sources on Monday as saying that dozens of DPRK spies entered Japan last week while the country’s military and coast guard were distracted by the incursion of two unidentified ships. The report said that the spies, believed to be sabotage experts, have spread throughout the country after entering from the eastern Pacific. It added that spies from the DPRK have also flown into Japan using fake passports. A Japanese government spokesman quoted Chief Cabinet Spokesman Hiromu Nonaka as saying on Monday, “The government has been investigating to confirm the report, but we have not obtained evidence.”

4. Japanese Naval Engagement

The Associated Press (“N.KOREA DENIES KNOWLEDGE OF SHIPS,” Seoul, 03/27/99) reported that the DPRK’s official Korean Central News Agency quoted an unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesman as saying in a statement on Saturday that the DPRK had nothing to do with the incursion of two unidentified ships into Japanese waters. The spokesman stated, “At the present juncture, the loudmouthed ‘mysterious ships pursuit case’ cannot be construed otherwise than one more anti-DPRK fiction invented by the Japanese reactionary [sic] on purpose.” He accused Japan of fabricating the incident to obtain the Diet’s support for new bills on implementing the revised US-Japan defense guidelines.

Reuters (“JAPAN REJECTS ACCUSATION IT FAKED SHIP INCIDENT,” Tokyo, 03/29/99) reported that Japanese chief government spokesman Hiromu Nonaka on Monday denied a DPRK accusation that the government had faked last week’s ship incursion. Nonaka stated, “The incident is in no way a fiction designed to pave the way for the passage of bills related to Japan-U.S. defense cooperation guidelines.” He added, “There is a possibility the two suspicious ships were spy ships on certain missions from a third country. We know that the ships arrived in a North Korean port. We think North Korea should provide us with sincere explanations.” He also urged the DPRK to hand the ships and their crews over to Japan.

5. Repatriation of DPRK POWs

Reuters (“N.KOREA DEMANDS U.S. BACK RETURN OF EX-POWS,” Tokyo, 03/29/99) reported that the DPRK’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Monday urged the US to take responsibility for repatriating DPRK prisoners of war in the ROK. KCNA said that such repatriation is the responsibility of the US under the Agreed Armistice, but the US has persistently ignored this. It added, “Our side is now unearthing the remains of American soldiers who died in the area of the northern half of Korea during the Korean war and handing them to the U.S. side from a humanitarian point of view. The United States, however, is turning aside from the issue of the unconverted long-term prisoners though it should have sent them back to our side as a signatory to the (armistice agreement). This can never be overlooked.” It added that repatriation of DPRK former prisoners “will be helpful to the solution of GIs’ remains.”

6. US Food Aid for DPRK

Reuters (“U.S. ANNOUNCES SECOND NEW N. KOREA FOOD AID DONATION,” Washington, 03/29/99) reported that the US on Monday announced its second 100,000 metric ton donation of new food aid to the DPRK, raising the total of new aid to 200,000 metric tons. US officials said the second 100,000 metric tons in food aid would be part of a US$32 million program to introduce new potato crops to the DPRK.

7. Defection of DPRK Diplomat

The Associated Press (“N.KOREA DIPLOMATS FREED IN THAILAND,” Bangkok, 03/28/99) reported that Thai authorities have released on US$5,333 bail each four DPRK diplomats accused of kidnapping their former colleague Hong Sun-kyong and his wife and son. The Nation newspaper quoted Thai police as saying that they did not give the four diplomatic immunity because they had not declared themselves diplomats when they entered the country. The paper added that the DPRK Embassy has demanded that Thai police turn over all Hong’s possessions and assets.

8. DPRK Famine

USA Today (Barbara Slavin, “FOR REFUGEES, MISERY ‘BEYOND IMAGINATION’,” 03/17/99) reported that, according to DPRK refugees interviewed by a US congressional delegation, Kim Jong-il issued an edict on September 27, 1995 creating centers “for the protection of those who are wandering for food.” The report said that these “9-27 camps” are often hidden on the top floors of hotels in provincial cities. Mark Kirk, counsel to the US House of Representatives International Relations Committee, who interviewed many of the refugees, stated, “If we had reports like this in Kosovo, we’d be breaking down the doors.” Andrew Natsios, former vice president of World Vision, estimated that more than a million people pass through the camps each year. Natsios based his estimate on refugee reports that each of the DPRK’s 211 counties has such a center and each houses 300 to 1,500 people for up to two months. He said that the US should not send more food to the DPRK without access to the camps. However, Trevor Rowe, a spokesman for the UN World Food Program, said that program monitors have never seen such camps, and he cautioned that the descriptions are coming from refugees. He stated, “We don’t know if they exist or where they exist.” Courtland Robinson, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health who interviewed more than 400 DPRK refugees in the PRC last year, argued that the camps “have been mentioned by too many people to be a fiction.” Pierre Salignon, program manager for DPRK for Doctors Without Borders, said that his group found references to “September 27” camps in the files of children they examined last year.

9. Japanese Defense Laws

The Associated Press (“JAPAN DEFENSE CHIEF WANTS CHANGES,” Tokyo, 03/28/99) reported that Hosei Norota, head of the Japanese Defense Agency, on Sunday called for revisions in laws to better prepare the country for a military attack. Kyodo News agency reported that the Defense Agency began considering changes to the Self-Defense Forces Law and other laws in 1997 but has not sought revisions due to criticism from opposition parties.

10. Former President Carter’s Visit to Taiwan

The Wall Street Journal (Russell Flannery, “TAIWAN, WITH WOUNDS HEALED, NOW WELCOMES CARTER’S RETURN,” Taipei, 03/29/99) reported that former US President Jimmy Carter was scheduled on Monday to make his first trip to Taipei since he broke off official US-Taiwan relations on January 1, 1979. Windson Chen, a reporter who covered the 1978 US-Taiwan talks and subsequent protests in Taipei, said that at the time of Carter’s decision, “People felt the US had sold Taiwan out, and they blamed Carter.” However, Fredrick Chien, a deputy Taiwan foreign minister in 1978, said that Carter will likely receive a warm reception. He stated, “Taiwan has changed.”

11. PRC Police Force

The New York Times (Erik Eckholm, “A SECRETIVE ARMY GROWS TO MAINTAIN ORDER IN CHINA,” Beijing, 03/28/99, 4) reported that, in 1997, the People’s Armed Police, a PRC national police force trained in riot control, absorbed 14 divisions that had been demobilized from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Western analysts have estimated that the police force now numbers approximately one million, up from an estimated 600,000 in 1989. PRC President Jiang Zemin stated last month, “As a major force for maintaining state security and social stability, the People’s Armed Police shoulders a massive and formidable burden.” John F. Corbett Jr. and Dennis H. Blasko, who both previously served as US military attaches in the PRC, wrote in China Strategic Review recently, “By increasing the size of the People’s Armed Police, the leadership in Beijing implicitly acknowledges that internal unrest is a greater threat to the regime’s survival than is foreign invasion.” Dennis Shambaugh, a China expert at George Washington University and the Brookings Institution, said that the expansion of the police force allows the PLA to “concentrate on becoming a modern, externally oriented force.” However, an anonymous Western analyst stated, “The question now is whether the People’s Armed Police is up to the task. Because of a limited budget and long-term quality and management problems, it’s still debatable whether they can perform well in a major crisis.” James Mulvenon, a military expert with the Rand Corporation, likewise stated, “I don’t see much evidence (that the People’s Armed Police) has really improved its operational capabilities very much since 1989.”

12. Alleged PRC Nuclear Espionage

The New York Times (James Risen, “F.B.I. INTERVIEWS CHINESE MAN IN SPY CASE,” Washington, 03/27/99, A3) reported that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Thursday located a Chinese man who worked as a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory with Wen Ho Lee, the scientist suspected of passing nuclear secrets to the PRC. The researcher is now at Pennsylvania State University. US officials said that they were not sure whether the man was involved in the alleged espionage. One unnamed official stated, “They are taking what he says and seeing if it tracks with the facts.”

13. US Policy toward PRC

The Los Angeles Times carried an opinion article by Christopher Layne, visiting scholar at the Center for International Studies at the University of Southern California (“IN SEARCH OF A MIDDLE ROAD ON U.S. POLICY TOWARD CHINA,” 03/28/99) which said that the US needs to find a “middle ground” between engagement and containment in formulating policy toward the PRC. The article argued, “The fundamental cause of friction between the two countries is China’s looming emergence as a great power.” It added, “great-power rivalry is the norm in international politics. But if rivalry is certain, war is not…. If Washington prematurely resorts to containment, it could create a self-fulfilling prophecy of Sino-American tension and hostility.” It argued that while the US cannot stop the PRC from becoming a great power, the US should practice a strategic trade policy to prevent the PRC from amassing huge currency reserves to import militarily useful high technology. It stated, “rather than facilitating Beijing’s ambitions, Washington can make sure that China becomes a great power the old-fashioned way: by earning that status, step-by-step over time, as a result of its own efforts.” It also said, “U.S. leverage over Beijing is far too limited to force China to adopt more liberal policies on human rights and democratization…. Given China’s historical allergy to outside interference, any U.S. attempt to export democracy would only incite Beijing to denounce Washington’s meddling ways.” It also argued against the US taking a more firm posture in favor of protecting Taiwan. It stated, “For China, Washington’s willingness to accommodate Beijing’s aspirations for reunification is the litmus test of whether the U.S. is prepared to accept China’s great-power status. Moreover, the contention that the U.S. should be willing to fight to prevent Beijing from reincorporating Taiwan is nothing more than a veiled argument for waging preventive war to forestall China’s great-power emergence.” Arguing that the PRC does not currently pose a strategic threat to the US because of its inability to project power, the article concluded, “A sensible middle course for administration policy would be to protect U.S. security interests by cracking down on Chinese espionage and curtailing Beijing’s commercial access to U.S. high technology; to accommodate China’s legitimate political aspirations; and to keep a watchful eye, lest China’s future policies become overtly threatening.”

14. US Missile Defense

The Associated Press (“THAAD MISSILE FAILS TO HIT FLYING TARGET FOR SIXTH TIME,” White Sands Missile Range, 03/29/99) reported that the Theater High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) antimissile missile failed on Monday for the sixth time to hit its target in a test. Bob Hunt, spokesman for the Army program executive office for air and missile defense, said that it was not immediately known why the test failed. He stated, “The telemetry data is still coming in and they’re still analyzing it.” He added that Lockheed Martin Corp. will have to reimburse the government US$15 million for the failure. The system has cost US$3.8 billion so far.

The Los Angeles Times carried an opinion article by Ted Galen Carpenter, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute (“MAKE MISSILE DEFENSE A PAY-FOR-USE DEAL,” 03/28/99) which said that, instead of building a US theater missile defense system in Asia, the US should sell the hardware to its allies. The article argued, “Not only would that make more sense financially, it would reduce the risk of unpleasant diplomatic and strategic side effects.” It said that inviting other countries to join a US-controlled missile defense program encourages “free riding” and could increase “the already unhealthy security dependence they have on America.” It also warned that a US regional missile would hurt relations with the PRC. It stated, “True, Chinese officials would hardly be thrilled about a U.S. decision to sell missile defense hardware to its East Asian neighbors–especially if sales to Taiwan were approved. But at least that strategy would not create the impression that the United States was laying the foundation for a regional military alliance directed against China. A U.S.-controlled shield would inevitably create that impression.”

II. Republic of Korea

1. US-DPRK Missile Talks

Chosun Ilbo (“U.S.-N.K. NUKE TALKS RESUME IN PYONGYANG,” Seoul, 03/29/99) reported that the latest round of US-DPRK missile talks began in Pyongyang on Monday. One high-ranking ROK government official said that discussion of the ROK government-initiated package settlement would not be on the agenda at this series of meetings. The official added that the US is expected to enter into formal discussion of the package deal following the issuing of a report written by US special envoy on DPRK policy William Perry. Diplomatic sources thus expect that the two parties will be simply rehashing the same positions, with the US reiterating that the DPRK must abandon all development of nuclear weapons and the DPRK continuing to insist that US promise to hand over US$1 billion a year to the DPRK for three years.

2. DPRK Missile Sites

JoongAng Ilbo (“INTELLIGENCE CONFIRMS 15 MISSILE SITES IN NK,” Seoul, 03/28/99) reported that US and ROK intelligence agencies reportedly have found 15 missile-related sites in the DPRK. A site in Saneum-dong in Pyongyang reportedly has a missile producing plant. It is the first time intelligence agencies reported discovering the whereabouts of the DPRK’s missile production and launching sites. They were automatically included on the list of DPRK sites to be immediately bombed by ROK and US military forces in case of an emergency security situation. A source from the ROK government stated on March 28, “The two countries finally located the sites. The US government will request that North Korea discontinue missile production and cease exporting missiles to other nations.” He added, “In spite of the recent international furor over its missile development, North Korea is trying to send missiles and military arms to third world countries for badly-needed foreign currency.” The known missile sites consist of eight production and storage sites and seven launching centers, located in various places throughout the country. Apparently the DPRK has exported 490 missiles thus far to Iran, Syria, and Iraq.

3. Alleged DPRK Spy Base

Chosun Ilbo (“NK MAINTAINS SPY BASE IN CHONGJIN,” Seoul, 03/29/99) reported that according to a government source on Monday, the DPRK maintains a spy base in Chongjin for infiltration missions against Japan, which is why the two suspicious boats that had broached Japanese territorial waters docked there. Boats reportedly are used not only for gathering information, but to smuggle drugs and weapons. In September, one month before ROK President Kim Dae-jung’s Japan trip, two vessels were observed for two days off the Japanese coast. The DPRK reportedly maintains four spy bases, including Nampo, Wonsan, and Chongjin.

4. Alleged DPRK Infiltration of Japan

Chosun Ilbo (“NK SPY SHIP PLOTTED TO SEND AGENTS TO JAPAN,” Seoul, 03/29/99) reported that two suspected DPRK spy ships entered Japanese waters last week as a diversion to allow the DPRK to send agents there, according to the Japanese daily Sankei Shimbun. The conservative newspaper quoted several unnamed sources as saying that while Japanese authorities were closely monitoring the ships, the DPRK sent dozens of agents to Japan. The Japanese government said it was investigating the report but had found no basis to the allegations. “The government is looking into it now but we have not confirmed it,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiromu Nonaka. “Generally speaking, we have seen a number of illegal entries and we have told the police and the maritime safety agency to tighten security further,” he added. The suspected DPRK spy ships were detected in the East Sea (Sea of Japan) on March 24 and chased out by warning aerial bombs and cannon fire from Japanese warships and aircraft. According to the Sankei Shimbun, the DPRK sent some agents from ships in the Pacific into Japan while others infiltrated by flying in with fake passports. The DPRK agents were trained in Pyongyang to sabotage railroads, communication systems and bridges, said the newspaper, which gave no details of its sources.

5. ROK Aid to DPRK

JoongAng Ilbo (“400 GOATS TO BE SENT TO NORTH KOREA IN MID-MAY,” Seoul, 03/29/99) reported that a proposal to send 400 goats to the DPRK in mid- May will likely be officially approved. The National Livestock Cooperatives Federation (NLCF) with the support of the Korean Sharing Movement (KSM) announced on March 29 that they have reached a tentative agreement with the DPRK and the ROK Ministry of Unification to send 400 goats–70 males and 330 females–to the DPRK. The 400 goats have been raised at a livestock cooperative in Hongcheon, Kangwon Province. Both the NLCF and KSM have pushed to send goats to the DPRK based on the DPRK’s needs, but the goat shipment was postponed for the time being because of the DPRK’s concerns over the health and safety standards of the cattle that Hyundai had previously sent. The DPRK’s malnourished children need the milk and dairy products from the goats.

6. Kosovo Crisis Effects on ROK Diplomacy

Korea Herald (“KOSOVO CRISIS DELAYS OFFICIALS’ VISITS TO KOREA,” Seoul, 03/30/99) reported that ranking officials of Southeast European countries have called off or postponed indefinitely their planned visits to the ROK in the wake of the escalating crisis in Kosovo, Yugoslavia, according to ROK officials. Andrei Plesu, foreign minister of Romania, has canceled his ROK visit slated for April 6-9, while Marin Rajkov, deputy foreign minister of Bulgaria, has also delayed his visit to the ROK scheduled for March 28-31, they said. The Romanian and Bulgarian governments informed the ROK Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry that they would discuss the timing of their officials’ visits later through diplomatic channels, they said.

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

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

Lee Dong-young: UNPOL@netsgo.com
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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