IN TODAY’S REPORT:
2. DPRK Famine
3. Russian-Japanese Relations
4. PRC-Japanese Relations
5. US-PRC Summit Meeting
6. US Computer Sales Restrictions
2. US-PRC Summit Meeting
3. Conference on Nuclear Safety
4. Alleged DPRK Terrorist Threat
5. Inter-Korean Aviation Talks
Reuters (Bill Tarrant, “KOREA’S DMZ, A PLACE TO WATCH EVERY STEP,” Panmunjom, 10/29/97) quoted Jim Coles, spokesman for US Forces in the ROK and the UN Command, as saying, “Land mines save lives … because as part of our physical barrier array they constitute a very tough nut for any enemy commander to crack.” Coles said that mines on the ROK side of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) are safe. “We know exactly where these mines are and they are totally off limits to civilians, which is why we haven’t had the tragedies that other countries have had.” Coles also said that the US objects to the Global Land Mine Ban Treaty because it fails to exempt scatterable mines, which are fired by mobile artillery guns. “Scatterable mines save lives by reducing the number of troops we have to put in harm’s way on the frontline,” Coles stated, adding that the mines can be programmed to self-destruct or to turn themselves off after a period of time. However, the ROK Defense Ministry said earlier this month that at least 35 people have been killed and 43 injured from land mines since 1992. Most of the casualties came after heavy rains and flooding washed mines out of the DMZ into civilian farm areas. Yi Daehoon, chief coordinator of the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy in Seoul, said that his group is trying to raise public awareness about ROK mine victims. “We think we have to stop using land mines and immediately enter the international treaty and remove the already planted land mines,” Yi argued.
The Associated Press (Heidi Brown, “RUSSIA TOWN ATTRACTS NORTH KOREANS,” Khasan, Russia, 10/29/97) reported that many DPRK citizens have been crossing over the Tumen River to the Russian town of Khasan in search of jobs, money and food. Mikhail Zhdinovsky, director of Barabash Farm, said conditions were so bleak in the DPRK that DPRK citizens consider it good fortune to be able to work in Russia, despite Russia’s own economic woes. However the translator for the DPRK workers on the farm said that reports of the DPRK famine are “exaggerated.” He added, “We’re having a difficult situation because of the US government. They’re doing it on purpose.” Anatoly Babkin, head of Khasan Regional Customs, said that the number of DPRK citizens working in Russia is kept “artificially low,” since local Russians can not compete with the low salaries for which the DPRK citizens are willing to work. One anonymous Russian border guard said that hungry DPRK guards sometimes cross the Bridge of Friendship at night to ask the Russian soldiers for food.
The Associated Press (“RUSSIA, JAPAN TO DISCUSS ISLANDS,” Moscow, 10/28/97) reported that the Russian Interfax news agency quoted Sergei Yastrzhembsky, spokesman for Russian President Boris Yeltsin, as saying Tuesday that Yeltsin and Japanese Premier Ryutaro Hashimoto will meet this weekend in the southeastern city of Krasnoyarsk to discuss ways to jointly develop the disputed Kuril Islands. Meanwhile the ITAR-Tass news agency reported Tuesday that Yeltsin also is scheduled to visit the PRC on November 9-11 to meet with top PRC leaders for talks on expanding political ties between the two nations.
The Associated Press (“CHINESE PREMIER TO VISIT JAPAN,” Beijing, 10/28/97) reported that the PRC Foreign Ministry announced Tuesday that Premier Li Peng will visit Japan November 11-16 for meetings with Japanese Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. The talks are aimed at promoting better relations.
The New York Times (John M. Broder, “CLINTON, JIANG AGREE TO CREATE D.C.-BEIJING HOTLINE,” Washington, 10/29/97) and the Associated Press (“CLINTON QUIETLY WELCOMES JIANG; LEADERS REVIEW SUMMIT AGENDA,” Washington, 10/29/97) reported that US President Bill Clinton and PRC President Jiang Zemin agreed Tuesday night to establish a round-the-clock telephone line between Washington and Beijing as a concrete sign of warming relations between the two powers. US officials said that Clinton and Jiang are expected to sign an agreement Wednesday to encourage the sale of US technology to help the PRC meet its energy needs. Clinton is also expected to certify that the PRC has stopped supplying nuclear materials and weapons to Iran and Pakistan. US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that the agenda for the Clinton-Jiang summit includes limiting the spread of weapons technology, broadening US-PRC military contacts, curbing global crime and addressing trade friction.
The Washington Post carried an opinion article by three US Congressmen (Edward J. Markey, Benjamin A. Gilman and Christopher Cox, “CHINA AND NUCLEAR TRAFFICKING,” 10/29/97, A23) which argued that “providing access to American technologies [to the PRC] that could end up assisting Iran’s nuclear weapons programs would constitute an intolerable risk to U.S. national security.” The article said that “Communist China’s nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation has made it the Wal-Mart of international nuclear commerce.” The article maintained that the PRC “has continually failed to live up to its promises” to halt its sales of nuclear technology to states such as Pakistan and Iran. The article called on the PRC to join the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, cease all proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and follow through with its promise to implement an export controls. The article concluded that, if President Bill Clinton “certifies China as a nonproliferator, despite the record we have outlined and without a demonstrated change of behavior on the part of Beijing, he will have eviscerated U.S. nonproliferation policy and compromised U.S. national security.”
6. US Computer Sales Restrictions The New York Times (Jeff Gerth, “CONGRESS MOVES TO RESTRICT COMPUTER EXPORTS,” Washington, 10/29/97) reported that the US Congress plans to introduce legislation that would require computer manufacturers to check with the government before selling certain powerful computers to countries like the PRC and Russia. It also requires more federal monitoring of exports of high- performance computers. Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, said, “This amendment is desperately needed, as shown by the recent disclosures on acquisitions by Russia and China, and would put the burden back on the government to control exports instead of letting companies make that decision.” [Ed. note: See “US-Russia Computer Sale Conflict” in the US Section of the October 28 Daily Report.] However, US National Security Adviser Samuel Berger, in a letter to congressional leaders, argued that the executive branch, not Congress, should be able to adjust the controls, “given the rapid pace of technological change.” William Reinsch, the under secretary of commerce for export administration, said that while no decision has been made, “there is a good possibility the president will veto the bill.”
The ROK and the US reportedly disagree on whether the two sides reached a “1994 understanding” on paying for the DPRK light-water reactor construction project. Former ROK foreign minister Han Sung-joo and other ROK officials flatly deny that such an understanding exists. US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott will fly into Seoul on November 13 for a two-day visit during which he will meet with ROK President Kim Young-sam and ROK Foreign Minister Yoo Chong-ha mainly to exchange views on burden-sharing for the multi-billion-dollar reactor project. Talbott is likely to contend that Washington cannot make financial contributions to the reactor project because it is leading efforts to offer heavy oil to the DPRK under the 1994 “Agreed Framework.” Meanwhile, ROK officials are preparing to work out their own rationale about why the US should play a key financial role in or lead fund-raising efforts for the reactor project. The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), the international consortium responsible for the reactor construction project, is scheduled to convene an executive council meeting in Tokyo on October 30-31 in an effort to reach an agreement on the total cost of the reactor project and to launch talks on sharing the expenses. (Korea Times, “TALBOTT LIKELY TO BULLY SEOUL, TOKYO INTO LWR BURDEN-SHARING FOR NK,” 10/29/97)
Officials from the ROK, Japan and the US will meet in Tokyo Thursday to discuss how to share the more than US$5 billion cost of the DPRK light-water reactor construction project. During the 11th executive board meeting of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), they will try to narrow their differences on the rough order of magnitude (ROM) for the construction of the light-water nuclear reactors in Sinpo, DPRK, an ROK official said. KEDO’s prime contractor, the ROK Electric Power Corporation, has produced the ROM, which Japan views as being too high, he said. (Korea Herald, “KEDO MEETING TO TACKLE COST SHARING,” 10/29/97)
US State Department spokesman James Rubin said Monday that the US will ask PRC President Jiang Zemin to join in an effort to re-start the four-party. Prospects for the four-party peace talks will “have some prominence” during Jiang’s visit to Washington, he said. The DPRK is demanding that the withdrawal of US troops from the ROK be included on the agenda, a move that ROK officials have dismissed as a tactic to stall the opening of formal negotiations. The talks are not expected until after the ROK’s presidential election set for December. (Korea Times, “US TO ENLIST CHINA IN BID TO RE-START KOREA TALKS,” 10/29/97)
An ROK Foreign Ministry official said that about 80 government officials and private experts from 19 countries and three international agencies will attend an international conference in Seoul Thursday to discuss cooperation in enhancing nuclear safety in Asia. Agenda items for the second regional nuclear conference will include safety of nuclear facilities, safe management of radioactive waste, nuclear compensation systems, and the establishment of a nuclear safety consultative body for Asia. According to ROK ministry figures, 85 of the 444 nuclear units in operation around the world are located in Asia, including 53 in Japan, 12 in the ROK, six in Taiwan and three in the PRC. (Korea Herald, “SEOUL TO HOST CONFERENCE ON NUCLEAR SAFETY IN ASIAN REGION,” 10/29/97)
ROK Home Minister Cho Hae-nyoung, presiding over an inter-ministry meeting Tuesday, called for enhanced preparedness against terrorism, saying that the DPRK might try to instigate trouble in the ROK during the presidential election period. Officials from the National Police Agency (NPA) said that it will soon prepare measures to protect major presidential candidates from terrorism. (Korea Herald, “GOVERNMENT PREPARES FOR POSSIBLE NORTH KOREAN TERROR,” 10/29/97)
A spokesman from the Ministry of Transport and Communication said that the ROK and DPRK signed a letter of understanding Tuesday in New Delhi to permit flights through the Pyongyang flight information region. The agreement allows ROK civil airlines to use routes that go through DPRK airspace beginning April 23 of next year. The two sides will also establish a hot-line through Panmunjom in November and a reserve satellite link by the end of next January. (Chosun Ilbo, “SOUTH-NORTH FIR ACCORD SIGNED,” 10/29/97)
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