NAPSNet Daily Report Wednesday, August 11, 2004
I. United States
1. US – DPRK Relations
The Associated Press (“U.S., N. KOREAN OFFICIALS ATTEND MEETING”, 2004-08-11) reported that senior US and DPRK officials attended a conference that discussed the six-party talks on the DPRK’s nuclear program. The two scheduled no bilateral meeting. But there were unconfirmed reports that Joseph DeTrani, the US special envoy for negotiations with the DPRK, was seen talking Tuesday with Li Gun, deputy head of US affairs at the DPRK’s Foreign Ministry, during a break. “It’s interesting,” DeTrani told reporters when asked how the conference was going. He refused to comment further.
2. US – DPRK Relations
Korea Times (“NK NUKE TALKS STALLING AHEAD OF US ELECTION”, 2004-08-11) reported that negotiations to resolve the standoff over the DPRK’s nuclear weapons programs are faltering amid growing signs of frustration from a US administration that is running out of ideas for dealing with Pyongyang. A government official in Seoul said Wednesday working-level meetings to prepare for the next round of six-party nuclear talks in Beijing will likely be delayed. Peter Hayes, executive director of public policy think tank the Nautilus Institute, said the recent US reports on the DPRK appeared to be an attempt by hardliners in Washington to disrupt the six-party talks. “Those who leaked the reports likely want the negotiations to hit an unmovable obstacle,” he said. Hayes, however, agreed that this is unlikely to succeed as President George W. Bush’s top priority will be stability with the election approaching.
3. Working Group Talks on DPRK Nuclear Issue
Reuters (“N.KOREA NUCLEAR TALKS NOT YET ON HORIZON – SEOUL”, 2004-08-11) reported that the ROK on Wednesday saw no new round of working-level talks on the DPRK’s nuclear crisis in sight, but said the six parties involved remained committed to more discussions. A spurt of diplomacy in July and early August had raised expectations that the two Koreas, the US, Japan, Russia and the PRC would send deputy chief negotiators to Beijing as early as this week to pave the way for a fourth round of negotiations on dismantling the DPRK’s nuclear programs. Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon could not say when the talks might take place, but said he was optimistic they would still occur soon. “I have the feeling that it is going to be late,” said the official, who declined to be identified.
4. DPRK – Iranian Relations
Donga Ilbo (“IRAN VISITED NORTH KOREA AND LEARNED NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY “, 2004-08-11) reported that on August 10 during a hearing before the U.S. House of Representatives, Iran was accused by a representative of dispatching three groups to the DPRK for the purpose of acquiring nuclear knowledge. Until now, the DPRK was known to have received nuclear technology from Pakistani Dr. Abdul Cadir Khan, along with Iran, Libya, and Iraq. However, this is the first time that the DPRK and Iran are suspected for being closely connected with regards to nuclear technology. Curt Weldon, a representative from Pennsylvania, said during a hearing of the House of Representatives’ Military Committee that it had informed the State Department a year ago that Iran was pursuing a nuclear program and had sent three groups to the DPRK to learn nuclear expertise.
5. Japanese – Libyan Relations
Jiji Press (“JAPAN ASKS LIBYA TO GIVE INFO ON N. KOREA’S NUKES “, 2004-08-10) reported that Japan on Tuesday asked Libya to provide information about the DPRK’s nuclear and missile development program. Japanese Senior Vice Foreign Minister Ichiro Aisawa made the request in a meeting with his visiting Libyan counterpart, Mohamed Siala. Aisawa also called on Libya to press the DPRK into resolving the problem of its nuclear and missile development, sources with access to the meeting said. Siala replied that Libya is prepared to play an important role on the issue of weapons of mass destruction and missiles, the sources said.
6. Japan – DPRK on Abductions
Agence France-Presse (“JAPAN, NKOREA OPEN TALKS IN CHINA ON KIDNAPPING ISSUE”, 2004-08-11) reported that Japan and the DPRK opened two-day talks in Beijing to discuss the highly emotional and sensitive issue of Japanese citizens kidnapped by the DPRK, a Japanese embassy official said. Japan is expecting to receive a status report on Pyongyang’s renewed investigation into the fate of 10 Japanese nationals who were kidnapped by DPRK agents and whom Pyongyang had said were dead, according to diplomats. “Kim Jong-Il had agreed to re-investigate the case in May during Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s visit to Pyongyang, so we will now ask for the results of the investigation,” another embassy minister Hidehisa Horinouchi told AFP. “Many Japanese people believe they are still alive.”
7. Japanese – DPRK Relations
Yomiuri Shimbun (“PYONGYANG WARMS UP TO RETURN OF 4 HIJACKERS”, 2004-08-11) reported that the DPRK has adopted a positive attitude toward over the return of four former members of the Red Army Faction, a radical leftist group that hijacked Japan Airlines’ Yodo airliner and defected to the country in 1970, government sources said Tuesday. The government plans to decide a date for the hijackers’ return to Japan and other details during a working-level meeting with DPRK government officials in Beijing on Wednesday and Thursday. However, it is still uncertain whether the two sides can reach an agreement at the talks because the DPRK might attach conditions to allowing the four to return, the sources said.
8. DPRK Leadership
Yonhap (“WIFE OF NORTH KOREAN LEADER SAID TO BE TERMINALLY ILL”, 2004-08-11) reported that Ko Yong-hui, wife of DPRK leader Kim Jong-il, is terminally ill with breast cancer, and the DPRK seems to be preparing for her death, a Japanese report. Quoting unidentified sources in Seoul, the Sankei Shimbun said the DPRK has purchased an “extremely expensive” coffin in Paris, where Ko, 51, had received cancer treatment earlier this year. Apparently related to Ko’s illness, the coffin was transported to Pyongyang via a chartered flight after her return, the report said. It added that ROK intelligence authorities are trying to verify the information.
9. DPRK Domestic Economy
Chosun Ilbo (“N. KOREA INVIGORATING THE MARKET: LE MONDE”, 2004-08-11) reported that the French daily “Le Monde” reported Wednesday that the DPRK is cautiously experiencing the market economy and actively invigorating the market. In a report entitled “North Korea Tastes Timidly the Market Economy ” Le Monde conveyed the realities of the DPRK focused on the large “Unification Market,” which opened in a southern suburb of Pyongyang one year ago, and said the DPRK citizens are seeking freedom in the midst of these changes. Le Monde reported that in other sections of Pyongyang, 10 smaller markets have been built by the city and similar markets have begun to appear in local areas. The newspaper said that although the food situation is still insecure and some of the DPRK people live on international aid, one could clearly sense the change.
10. DPRK Human Rights
Yonhap (“U.N. DELEGATE DETERMINED TO ‘SEE’ HUMAN RIGHTS IN NORTH KOREA “, 2004-08-11) reported that a new U.N.-appointed researcher on the DPRK human rights on Tuesday signaled his determination to make a firsthand look at the situation there. Vitit Muntarbhorn, 51, a Thai academic named as the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the DPRK, said he is determined to “see the situation” in the reclusive country, which has rarely permitted such visits.
11. DPRK Defectors
Reuters (“ACTIVIST: CHINA ABOUT TO DEPORT 100 N.KOREA REFUGEES”, 2004-08-11) reported that more than 100 DPRK refugees seeking asylum have been expelled from southeast Asia to the PRC and face deportation to the North, a human rights leader said on Wednesday. Chun Ki-won, who leads a group of missionaries that helps DPRK refugees in the PRC as well as those that reach various countries in southeast Asia, said the refugees had been captured and sent back across the border from Vietnam and were being held in a prison in southern PRC. “The chances of them winning freedom are bad. It’s a desperate situation,” Chun told Reuters.
12. Inter – Korean Relations
Yonhap (“ROH URGES MILITARY TO GET USED TO CHANGING INTER-KOREAN TIES “, 2004-08-11) reported that President Roh Moo-hyun urged the military on Wednesday to try to adjust to the changing security environment on the Korean Peninsula given the reconciliatory mood in inter-Korean relations. “The military needs to be on the alert, but it also has to try to become accustomed to the changing environment in which inter-Korean general-level meetings are held and inter-Korean relations are changing,” Roh told a luncheon meeting with scores of military commanders at Cheong Wa Dae, the presidential office. “As the president, I myself, however, have an obligation to ease inter-Korean tensions,” he said.
13. Inter – Korean Athletics
Agence France Presse (“KOREAS AIMING FOR UNIFIED TEAM AT 2008 OLYMPICS”, 2004-08-11) reported that the DPRK and ROK hope to send a fully unified team to the 2008 Beijing Olympics after marching together side-by-side at Friday’s Athens Games opening ceremony, officials said Wednesday. Shin Bark-Jae, chef de mission of the ROK’s Olympic team, told reporters that the two Koreas were in talks aimed at strengthening sporting ties between the two bitter rivals. But although they will compete in Athens as separate teams, talks are underway to send a joint team to Beijing in four years time, Shin said. “We would like to have one team at the Beijing Olympics although so far we have not agreed anything,” Shin said. “We will try our best to have one team at the next Olympics in 2008.”
14. DPRK – Mongolian Relations
Yonhap (“N.K. VICE FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS MONGOLIA’S PRESIDENT”, 2004-08-11) reported that the DPRK’s Vice Foreign Minister Kim Yong-il paid a visit to Mongolian President Nachagyn Bagabandy last week, the DPRK’s state-run broadcaster said Wednesday. Kim conveyed DPRK leader Kim Jong-il’s greetings to the Mongolian president during the visit on Friday, the (North) Korean Central Broadcasting Station, monitored in Seoul, said.
15. Jenkins Case
Kyodo News (“JENKINS SAYS TWO FORMER US SOLDIERS IN NORTH KOREA ALREADY DIED”, 2004-08-11) reported that alleged US army deserter Charles Jenkins, now in Tokyo, has told Japanese officials that two of a number of former US soldiers in DPRK have already died, government sources said Wednesday. Jenkins made the statement when he met with the officials in Jakarta where he went from Pyongyang on 9 July for a reunion with his Japanese wife, Hitomi Soga. It was their first meeting since she was repatriated in 2002 after having been abducted by the DPRK in the late 1970s. Their two DPRK-born daughters also accompanied Jenkins to the family reunion, and are also now in Tokyo.
16. US – ROK Relations
Korea Herald (“MUTUAL TRUST KEY TO KOREA-U.S. MILITARY TIES”, 2004-08-11) reported that US troops on the Korean Peninsula are not only a visible deterrent to possible aggression by the DPRK but also a constant target of anti-Americanism. The airlift of 3,600 combat soldiers from the frontline border with the DPRK to Iraq was completed yesterday. The redeployment started last Thursday with the departure of about 600 U.S. troops. The troops are from the U.S. 2nd Infantry Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division. The two countries will discuss Aug. 19-20, at their 11th round of policy initiative talks, Washington’s plan to cut its troop presence here by one third to 25,000 within the next 18 months. But the presence of American troops has become an increasingly sore point for many younger ROK citizens, who see the large US military presence as an insult to national sovereignty and a stumbling block to reunification of the peninsula.
17. ROK Capital Relocation
Agence France-Presse (“SOUTH KOREA ANNOUNCES SITE FOR NEW CAPITAL”, 2004-08-11) reported that the ROK announced that it had chosen an area straddling Yeongi and Gongju counties in the central South Chungcheong province as the site for its new capital. The government wants to move the capital as Seoul and its surrounding Gyeonggi Province are densely populated. “The Yeongi-Gongju area has been selected as the site for a new capital,” Prime Minister Lee Hai-Chan said at a press conference broadcast live across the country. The new site is 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Seoul. It is 71.28 square kilometers (28.51 square miles) in size and occupies most of the two farming counties.
18. ROK Military Spending
Chosun Ilbo (“HYUNDAI HEAVY INDUSTRIES TO CONSTRUCT KOREA’S FIRST AEGIS WARSHIP “, 2004-08-11) reported that domestic construction of a warship armed with the Aegis Combat System, the world’s best anti-air defense system, will begin in earnest next month. Each Aegis ship, equipped with all sorts of electronic gear and weapon systems, costs W1 trillion. The navy announced Wednesday that Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. Ltd., was chosen to build the first among three Aegis-capable “KDX-‡V” destroyers. The KDX-III is a 7,000 ton ship, the development of which has been pushed since 1985. Construction would begin from September. The navy said that it won Defense Ministry approval for its KDX-‡V blueprints and construction plans for the first vessel on July 9. Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. will work on detailed plans and start construction of the first vessel starting next month and deliver it to the navy by the end of 2008. The navy plans to deploy a second and third ship in 2010 and 2012 respectively.
19. US Military Spending
Agence France-Presse (“ANALYSTS: US CONSIDERS SECOND AIRCRAFT CARRIER IN ASIA-PACIFIC REGION”, 2004-08-11) reported that the US is seriously considering stationing a second aircraft carrier in the Asia-Pacific region in the face of threats posed by nuclear-armed DPRK and a potential crisis across the Taiwan Strait, officials and analysts said. The move is more likely, they said, because the US Navy need not send aircraft carriers anymore on a rotational basis to the Persian Gulf, where it had to enforce no-fly zones before Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s ouster. The top US military commander in the Asia-Pacific region, Admiral Thomas Fargo, recently recommended to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that an additional Navy carrier be permanently placed in the region “somewhere between Hawaii and Guam,” a government official told Agence France-Presse.
20. Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
Yomiuri Shimbun (“GOVT TO PUSH CTBT RATIFICATION AT SEPTEMBER MEET”, 2004-08-11) reported that Japan and other nations that have ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) plan to hold a foreign ministers meeting in New York in late September in a bid to facilitate the early entry into force of the treaty, government sources said Monday. Tokyo also plans to announce a joint declaration with other nations that stipulates the need to persuade more countries to ratify the treaty, and to establish an inspection system that would assure they comply with it, the sources said. The government expects more than 18 nations will participate in the meeting, the sources said. The CTBT, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in September 1996, stipulates that it will come into effect when ratified by 44 nuclear powers or nations with the capability to develop nuclear weapons. Only 32 such nations, including Japan, have ratified the treaty so far.
21. Japanese Nuclear Safety
New York Times (“BLOWN PIPE IN JAPAN NUCLEAR PLANT ACCIDENT HAD BEEN USED, BUT NOT CHECKED, SINCE 1976”, 2004-08-11) reported that a section of steam pipe that blew out Monday, killing four workers at a Japanese nuclear power plant, had not been inspected in 28 years and had corroded from nearly half an inch to a thickness little greater than metal foil, authorities said Tuesday. “To put it bluntly, it was extremely thin,” Shoichi Nakagawa, Japan’s minister of the economy, trade and industry, said Tuesday after touring the power plant, in Mihama, about 200 miles west of here. “It looked terrible, even in the layman’s view.” “We thought we could postpone the checks until this month,” Akira Kokado, the deputy plant manager, told reporters at Mihama. “We had never expected such rapid corrosion.”
22. Japan Domestic Economy
Agence France-Presse (“IMF SHARPLY UPGRADES JAPAN GROWTH OUTLOOK”, 2004-08-11) reported that the IMF dramatically upgraded the outlook for Japan in 2004, saying economic growth will match the US pace as it emerges from more than a decade in the dumps. Japanese gross domestic product, or total economic output, would grow 4.5 percent in 2004, sharply up from a four-month old forecast for 3.4-percent growth, the International Monetary Fund said on Wednesday. “Directors welcomed signs that the Japanese economy is emerging from its long period of slump, with support from a range of policy measures,” the IMF said in a statement after an annual review of the economy.
23. Japanese Space Program
The Associated Press (“JAPANESE LUNAR PROBE FACING DELAYS”, 2004-08-11) reported that a lunar orbiter that Japan had planned to launch this year could face further delays, possibly until next year or later, because of a funding shortfall and problems developing the probe’s information-gathering capabilities, Japan’s space agency said Wednesday. The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, released a report to a government-run commission explaining expected delays to the launch of the $135 million Lunar-A probe. Earlier this year, an agency committee said it would be “difficult” for the probe to be launched as scheduled this summer from a space center in southern Japan because some of its thruster valves have been recalled for potential defects by their U.S. manufacturer, Moog Inc.
24. Cross Strait Relations
Agence France-Presse (“TAIWAN STAGES WAR GAMES AS REPORT SHOWS CHINA WOULD WIN IN SIX DAYS”, 2004-08-11) reported that Taiwan’s armed forces staged a drill simulating an invasion by rival the PRC, as a military computer exercise showed Taiwanese troops could withstand a similar onslaught for just six days. The scenario of the maneuver, the first of two rehearsals for a major exercise to be held on August 25, was that Taiwan troops had failed to hold off an amphibious landing by PRC forces, TVBS cable television showed. The drill came as Defense Minister Lee Jye confirmed a report that in a recent computer-simulated exercise, Taiwanese troops were wiped out 130 hours after the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) started invading.
25. US on Cross Stait Relations
Reuters (“TAIWAN MAY PAY LESS FOR U.S. ARMS DEAL”, 2004-08-11) reported that Taiwan may be able to cut the cost of an $18 billion U.S. arms deal by about $3 billion, a newspaper quoted defense officials as saying on Wednesday after lawmakers complained about the price tag. The three-year-old arms deal, which would be the biggest weapons sale to Taiwan in a decade amid an aggressive military build-up by arch-rival PRC, has been delayed by budget concerns as some lawmakers balked at the cost. Taiwan has asked Washington to lower the cost of the T$610 billion (US$18.2 billion) arms package, which also includes six Patriot Advanced Capability-3 anti-missile systems and 12 P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft, before parliament reviews the special budget later this year.
26. PRC on Cross Strait Relations
Agence France-Presse (“CHINA WARNS PACIFIC NATIONS AGAINST SIDING WITH TAIWAN”, 2004-08-11) reported that the PRC has warned Pacific nations against caving in to Taiwan’s “dollar diplomacy”, cautioning it would be against their interests to establish ties with Taipei over Beijing, state media reported. Vice Foreign Minister Zhou Wenzhong said it was important that Pacific nations that wanted to develop relations with Beijing recognize the “one-China” principle which states that Taiwan is part of the PRC. Zhou, who met Pacific leaders after their annual summit in Samoa last week, said Pacific island nations should be “highly vigilant to the political maneuvers of the Taiwan authorities to split up China and undermine China’s relations” with them and other countries with diplomatic ties with Beijing.
27. Sino – US Relations
The Associated Press (“CHINA RELEASES AMERICAN PROFESSOR”, 2004-08-11) reported that the US is protesting the PRC’s treatment of a Chinese-born American university professor who was detained for two weeks on espionage charges, calling it harsh and inappropriate, the US Embassy said Wednesday. Fei-ling Wang’s arrest was the latest in a string of such cases against academics with ties to the US. He was arrested July 25 in Shanghai and released Aug. 8, when he returned to the US, where he teaches at the Georgia Institute of Technology, an embassy spokeswoman said. She said Wang was accused of stealing state secrets but she had no details of the charges, why he was later released or the status of his case.
28. PRC Religious Freedom
The Washington Post (“SOOTHING HONG KONG WITH SYMBOLS BIBLE EXHIBIT IS LATEST GESTURE BY BEIJING SINCE APRIL DECISION TO STIFLE DEMOCRACY”, 2004-08-11) reported that under one glass case was an exquisite 102-year-old Bible dictionary for PRC readers, decorated with Egyptian figures in the style of a tomb drawing. Preserved under another case was a yellowed edition of the Bible itself, published in the PRC in 1890 and written in large, easy-to-read Mandarin characters. The two antique volumes were among dozens gathered by the PRC’s officially sanctioned Christian churches and put on display in Hong Kong’s sleek harbor-side convention center. It was the PRC government’s latest gesture to reassure this former British colony, particularly its 600,000 Christians, that being ruled by Beijing is nothing to fear.
29. PRC Domestic Economy
The New York Times (“CHINA’S ECONOMY OFFERS ANOTHER HINT OF SLOWING”, 2004-08-11) reported that the PRC’s booming economy showed another small hint of slowing on Tuesday, as growth in industrial output edged down slightly. Industrial output was 15.5 percent higher last month than a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said. It was the fifth consecutive month of the growth rate’s inching lower, after hitting 23 percent in February. Economists and the PRC’s central bank have been preparing for evidence of higher inflation and Tuesday’s figures may have offered some respite. Slower growth in industrial output, of the sort that Tuesday’s data suggested might be starting to happen, would eventually bring under control current shortages and elevated prices of raw materials. Auto production, one of the most robust areas of the Chinese economy through the spring, has particularly slackened.
30. DPRK Students
Joongang Ilbo (“YONGCHEON STUDENTS GET NEW BUILDING FOR CLASSES”, 2004-08-11) reported that Students of Yongcheon Elementary School in DPRK, which was destroyed by an explosion at a nearby station in April, will begin their fall semester in a new building, a Japanese newspaper reported. Chosun Sinbo, a newspaper of pro-Pyeongyang DPRK residents in Japan, said yesterday that about 85 percent of recovery operations in Yongcheon have been completed. The new four-story Yongcheon elementary school is nearly finished, the newspaper said. The destroyed three-story building, which was only 150 meters (492 feet) from the explosion site, had been built in 1973. At the time of the blast, 710 children were in t! he building, the newspaper said. The accident took the lives of 54 students and two teachers and injured 600. According to the report, 1,250 students will return to the new school to attend an opening ceremony on Sept. 1. “We tried to resume classes three days after the explosion, but the classrooms were empty and unprepared,” Choe Byong-ryop, principal of the school, was quoted as saying. “Loud noises reminded some students of the accident, and they became visibly scared. We need to help them mentally.”
31. Koguryo Historical Revisionism
Chosun Ilbo (“DISTORTIONS PART OF CHINESE PREPARATIONS OF POST KOREAN RE-UNIFICATION ERA: REPORT”, 2004-08-10) reported that it has been revealed that the government published a report last December in which it refutes distortions of Koguryo history made by PRC. The report also suggested that PRC’s Northeast Asia Project, which seeks to incorporate Koguryo history into PRC history, was a resolute attempt by PRC to head off potential border and territorial issues that might follow Korean re-unification. It appears the government is referencing the report in formulating responses to PRC historical distortions. The report, which was made by the Society for Korean Ancient History at the request of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development, points out that in the case of the Northeast Asia Project, PRC government organizations are participating in driving the historical distortions, so this matter is much more serious than the Japanese history textbook incident of 2001, in which one of the textbooks approved for school use by the Japanese Ministry of Education proved to be problematic.