DPRK (North Korea) Chronology for 2010


DPRK (NORTH KOREA) CHRONOLOGY FOR 2010
Compiled by
Leon V. Sigal
Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project
Contact:


1/1/10:
Joint New Year Editorial: “After kindling the torch of a great upsurge in Kangson, home to the Chollima movement, he proposed launching the 150-day and 100-day campaigns successively, and took revolutionary measures to bring them to a victorious conclusion. His outstanding leadership ability was the source of impetus for the unprecedentedly great innovations and leap. … Last year witnessed one remarkable event of knocking on the gate to a thriving nation after another. The successful launch of man-made satellite Kwangmyongsong-2 and the successful second underground nuclear test by our own efforts and technology were a landmark event signaling the first victory in the building of a thriving nation. … The 150-day and 100-day campaigns were an unforgettable struggle that wrote the most brilliant chapter in the history of our great upsurge. … Now, based on the brilliant achievements of the great revolutionary upsurge, the Party is unfolding unprecedentedly grand plans and operations to bring about a decisive turn in the people’s standard of living. It is the firm determination and will of the Party to enable the people, who have braved severe hardships together with the Party, to enjoy the blessing of socialism to their hearts’ content by getting them relish the substantial fruits of the present great upsurge and realize without fail the noble intention and desire of President Kim Il Sung who devoted his heart and soul to the people all his life. … We should conduct an all-Party and nationwide drive for improving the people’s standard of living to ensure that the achievements of the great upsurge are followed by greater ones and this year becomes a prosperous year filled with the people’s happiness. ‘Bring about a radical turn in the people’s standard of living by accelerating the development of light industry and agriculture once again this year that marks the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea!’ is a slogan we should uphold. Light industry and agriculture are the major fronts in the efforts for improving the people’s standard of living. … We should radically increase the state investment in the fields related to the people’s living, and all the sectors and units should supply fully and in time the raw and other materials needed for the production of light-industry goods. We should gain access to more foreign markets, and undertake foreign trade in a brisk way to contribute to economic construction and the improvement of the people’s standard of living. … This year marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of the historic June 15 North-South Joint Declaration. … Last year, we took active and bold measures and made sincere efforts in order to improve the aggravated inter-Korean relations and bring a radical phase in national reunification. … This year we should hold high the slogan ‘Let the entire nation unite under the banner of north-south joint declarations and achieve national reunification at the earliest date!’ The way for improving the north-south relations should be opened. Unshakable is our stand that we will improve the north-south relations and open the way for national reunification on the basis of the historic June 15 joint declaration and October 4 declaration. If the South Korean authorities continue to negate the June 15 joint declaration and cling to the policy of confrontation in collusion with the foreign forces, the relations between the north and the south will never be improved. … The fundamental task for ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the rest of Asia is to put an end to the hostile relationship between the DPRK and the USA. It is the consistent stand of the DPRK to establish a lasting peace system on the Korean Peninsula and make it nuclear-free through dialogue and negotiations. Our Party and the government of our Republic will strive to develop relations of good-neighborliness and friendship with other countries and achieve global independence under the unfurled banner of independence, peace and friendship.” (KCNA, “Joint New Year Editorial of Leading Newspapers in DPRK Released,” January 1, 2010)

North Korea’s latest New Year’s message showed that the Pyongyang regime is prepared to cooperate to restart the stalled multilateral talks aimed at ending Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programs. The North also appeared to be considering better relations with South Korea and the United States, towards which it has been vigorously critical of in the past. Pyongyang is refraining from such attacks and setting down “unreasonable” preconditions for cooperating with Seoul or others. “Regardless of whether this is a strategic ploy or not, the North has shown strong signs of willingness to improve relations with nations such as Seoul and Washington,” said Professor Yang Moo-jin of the University of North Korean Studies here. Towards Seoul, the North directly called on the need to “open the path for improving relations between the two Koreas” in the message carried in a joint newspaper editorial on Jan.1. Pyongyang stressed that this year marks the 10th anniversary of the June 15 agreement reached between the two sides under former president Roh Moo-hyun. Other noticeable points of the message were the regime’s emphasis on the economy. “Pyongyang, for the first time in many years, has put more focus on the economy than the military,” Yang said. The unfavorable economic climate is part of the reason Pyongyang is so eager to mend fences with Seoul, experts said, as inter-Korean projects have served the North well financially. “There is also a political twist to the North’s focus on the economy and cooperation with others,” Professor Yang said. “It is all proof that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is desperate to stabilize his state before relinquishing his throne.” Officials here, however, were cautious about being overly optimistic on the North’s latest message. “It was a good to see the North not as hostile as before, but we are still far from seeing Pyongyang proving itself to be sincerely committed to denuclearization,” one high-ranking official said on the condition of anonymity. (Kim Ji-hyun, “N.K. Shifts to Softer Mode,” Korea Herald, January 1, 2010) Characteristic of this year’s editorial was a softened tone toward archrival South Korea and Cold War enemy, the United States. The mentioning of relations with the U.S. and South Korea was made in surprisingly moderate language devoid of the usual propaganda harangues. The North Korean message manifested its dual pursuit for a stable peace regime and denuclearization on the Korean peninsula through dialogue and negotiation. Pyongyang’s policy statement unequivocally stated its intent to deal with the two issues in a package. But its most noticeable points were its emphasis on the economy. The editorial said that all efforts should be concentrated on improving the people’s standard of living. As the slogan of the editorial indicated, light industry and agriculture are the major fronts for this. Another notable point is the editorial’s de-emphasis of the defense industry, which is reduced to its work on science and technology: “The sector of defense industry, a major front in pushing back the frontiers of science and technology, should continue to lead the efforts to open the gate to a great, prosperous and powerful country…” (Vantage Point, “Softened Tone in N.K.’s New Year Policy Goals,” February 2010, p. 2-7)

North Korea’s No. 2 leader urged the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, Chongryon, in a New Year’s letter to “positively contribute to” improving bilateral relations with Japan based on the spirit of the Pyongyang Declaration, the official Korean Central News Agency said. It was the first time since a New Year’s letter to Chongryon in 2003 that Kim Yong Nam has referred to the declaration, raising speculations that Pyongyang may have become more interested in Japan’s North Korea policy under the government of Prime Minister Hatoyama. (Kyodo, “N. Korea Urges Pro-Pyongyang Body in Japan to Help Improve Ties,” January 2, 2010)


1/4/10:
President Lee Myung-bak proposed that the two Koreas establish a liaison office in each other’s capital for “standing dialogue” and a new turning point in their tumultuous relations.
“The government will endeavor to improve relations with North Korea,” he said in a televised New Year’s address. “For this, there is a need to establish a body that will allow inter-Korean dialogue to take place at all times. I hope that North Korea will engage in genuine dialogue, opening up the road to cooperation,” he added, apparently reviving his proposal during a U.S. visit in April 2008, two months after his inauguration. Lee suggested in an interview with the Washington Post that the two Koreas set up a high-level diplomatic channel and create the first liaison offices in each other’s capital. North Korea, however, rejected Lee’s proposal nine days later through a commentary run in the Rodong Sinmun. (Lee Chi-dong, “Lee Proposes Establishing Regular Dialogue Channel with North,” Yonhap, January 4, 2010) President Lee proposed a humanitarian project with rival North Korea under which the two states would cooperate in repatriating remains of tens of thousands of soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War. “South Korea will not forget those who gave their lives on foreign soil,” Lee Myung-bak said in a New Year’s address. He said the recovery project would be an appropriate way to mark the 60th anniversary of the start of the war in which U.S.-led U.N. forces and South Korean troops fought North Korea and China. “This can only come out of trust between the two countries. It is also a problem that will likely be solved with money,” said Kim Yong-hyun, an expert on the North at Dongguk University. (Jon Herskovitz and Christine Kim, “South Korea Calls on North to Search for War Dead,” Reuters, January 4, 2010) Unification Minister Hyun In-taek said that dialogue between the divided countries should bring about a “turning point” this year in the solution of the North Korean nuclear problem. “Among others, a turning point in resolving the North Korean nuclear problem should be created through productive inter-Korean dialogue,” said in a speech to his ministry officials in a ceremony to mark the formal start of the year. He also called for greater regional cooperation to help end hostility on the peninsula. “People’s hope for reunification should be brought together, while we must expand at full speed cooperation with neighboring countries to form consensus on it,” he said. (Sam Kim, “S. Korea Says Dialogue with N. Korea in 2010 Should Help Denuclearize Pyongyang,” Yonhap, January 4, 2010)


1/5/10:
The United States will welcome any trip to China by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to help reopen the stalled six-party talks on ending the North’s nuclear ambitions, a senior State Department official said. “We have always welcomed interaction with North Korea by our partners in the six-party process, and we welcome that interaction if Kim Jong-il travels to Beijing,” the official said. “China has had multiple trips to Pyongyang to make clear to Kim Jong-il what needs to be done now. If Kim Jong-il comes to Beijing and tells Chinese leaders that he is ready to return to the six-party process and move forward, we will welcome that news.” The U.S. official said that the five other parties have been closely coordinating their North Korea policy. “Our primary focus is what will Kim Jong-il say, what will he do?” the official said. “We maintain ongoing consultations with six-party members to try to see what North Korea is prepared to do.” He said the five parties “have a commitment that any dialogue with North Korea is in the context of the six-party process just as we made clear why Stephen Bosworth went to North Korea last month.” “We welcome any interaction that other countries have with North Korea whether it’s South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, whoever,” he said. “I think that we are confident that we all view the situation the same. I think we are confident that the message that North Korea is receiving from all of the six-party countries is the same.” Asked about Kim’s possible Chinese trip, DoS spokesman Philip Crowley said, “You know, whatever the Dear Leader decides to do, it’s up to him.” (Hwang Doo-hyong, “U.S. Welcomes Possible Beijing Trip by Kim Jong-il,” January 5, 2010)

North Korea has upgraded the status of a free trade zone near its border with China and Russia as it looks to boost foreign investment, state media said. “Rason City was designated as a municipality” in a decree issued by the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, KCNA said. The cabinet and relevant organs” shall take practical measures to implement the decree.” The move is also seen by analysts as a further attempt by Pyongyang to reassert government control of the faltering economy, more than a month after North Korea drastically revalued its currency. Three weeks ago North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il reportedly visited the northeastern city of Rason, formerly Rajin-Sonbong, which became a special economic zone in 1991 but never fulfilled its proposed role as a transport hub. Analysts say the move to upgrade the zone to a municipality reflects Pyongyang’s fresh drive to revitalize the area through cooperation with China and Russia. North Korea and Russia have agreed to renovate a cross-border railway and port facilities in Rason. China has also been actively exploring investment opportunities in the city. “It is an expression of North Korea’s will to attract foreign investment and also to strengthen ties especially with China,” Seoul’s Dongguk University professor Kim Yong-Hyun said. (AFP, “North Korea Looks to Boost Failed Trade Zone,” January 5, 2010)


1/6/10:
North Korea likely began its uranium-based nuclear weapons program soon after it agreed to give up its nuclear ambitions in a 1994 deal with the United States, FM Yu Myung-hwan said in an interview, accusing Pyongyang of using negotiations to buy time for its clandestine nuclear programs. Yu said little is still known about the communist country’s secret nuclear program, including how much uranium they have produced or in what stage of development the program is. “Still, what is certain is that North Korea began its (uranium) enrichment program for nuclear weapons from very early on. It appears that North Korea began the enrichment program shortly after signing the Geneva agreement, or at least in 1996,” Yu said. The minister noted the North may have also used, and is continuing to use, the six-way talks in a similar way to win international concessions while securing enough time and resources to further its nuclear programs. “There, of course, may have been times when North Korea used its nuclear issue as leverage for short-term economic gains, but there is a need to look at it as a more serious issue because, more fundamentally, the North Korea nuclear issue has to do with the North’s regime,” he said. Minister Yu said the North may soon return to the negotiating table for economic assistance, but made clear the other countries will not reward the communist nation for simply returning to dialogue. “I believe there is always a possibility (North Korea) may return to negotiations to evade its economic crisis. And that is why not only South Korea, the U.S. and Japan, but also China and Russia share a firm understanding that we cannot reward the North for its return to the negotiations alone,” the minister said. Yu said this means the countries will first deal with the most fundamental and serious issue of permanently and completely ridding North Korea of its nuclear capabilities. “The proposal for a grand bargain comes from a belief that it is not logical to have negotiations that only deal with easy issues while leaving difficult ones in a far side corner, negotiations that no one can say how long it will take,” he said. The minister also said his country will reject the North’s recent proposal for separate talks to discuss replacing the Korean armistice with a permanent peace treaty if the proposal is only an attempt to stall its denuclearization process. “If North Korea has sincerity about a peace treaty, it will have to first show it with a decision to denuclearize,” Yu said. (Byun Duk-kun, “FM Says N. Korea’s Uranium Program Likely Began in Mid-1990s,” Yonhap, January 6, 2010)

Deputy PM Kan Naoto will be Japan’s next finance minister after Fujii Hirohisa steps down for health reasons, PM Hatoyama Yukio told reporters. (Kyodo, “Hatoyama Picks Kan As New Finance Chief to Succeed Fujii,” January 6, 2010) “In reality, this is about Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General (Ichiro) Ozawa,” said Takagi Masaru, a professor at Meiji University in Tokyo, pointing out that Fujii and Ozawa — regarded as the most powerful man in the ruling coalition — had been on bad terms recently.Takagi said that rather than health concerns, the discord between Fujii and the Cabinet’s so-called shadow shogun was the main factor that prompted Fujii to resign. (Hongo Jun and Alex Martin, “Clash with Ozawa Said Behind Resignation,” Japan Times, January 7, 2010)

After a delay of nearly seven years, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology jointly established by the two Koreas will finally open its doors in April in the North Korean capital. It was originally set to open in 2003, but the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions caused a delay in those plans. Most of the facilities have been built and the university has already completed its recruitment of students, according to Kim Chin-kyung, president of Yanbian University of Science and Technology based in this city in China’s Jilin province, who has been a driving force behind the new university. He said 17 buildings will be constructed for classrooms and dormitories. In the first year, about 200 undergraduates and 100 graduate students will be enrolled. Most classes will be taught in English by 13 professors from South Korea, the United States and Europe. Tuition will be free and students will also receive a monthly stipend for living expenses. The new university is a joint project of North Korea’s Ministry of Education and South Korea’s Northeast Asia Foundation for Education and Culture. Operating costs will be covered mainly through donations from South Korea, the United States and Europe. Kim Chin-kyung was asked by North Korean officials to head the group created to establish the new university because of his experience in creating China’s first private university. (Nishimura Daisuke, “In Pyongyang, Science Gets a South Korean Spin,” January 6, 2010)

Questionnaire sent to 42 scholars and former officials finds that although the administration had demonstrated a clear intention to resolve the nuclear issue through negotiation and dialogue, it has not yet presented a concrete vision and strategy. Chung Chang-hyun, president of Minjok 21, a monthly magazine on North Korean issue, said, “The Obama administration is following the North Korean policy of the second term of the Bush administration.” He added, “Up until this point, it has not yet demonstrated its own North Korean policy.” The North Korea experts and former high officials also commented on the economic crisis originating from the U.S., the struggle with health care reform and issues with Iran and Afghanistan as factors in why the Obama administration has shown demonstrated a dubious North Korea policy. In other words, the respondents believe these issues have contributed to North Korea’s lower ranking in the U.S.’s list of priorities. Other respondents were more severe in their assessments of Obama’s North Korean policy by calling it “a failure.” Kim Yeon-cheol, head of the Hankyoreh Peace Institute, said, “The Obama administration’s emphasis on cooperating with the South Korean government that has demonstrated methods of governance compared to the Bush administration has led to a failure in North Korean policy.” Kim and others suggest cooperation with a conservative ruling South Korean government has weakened efforts to gain momentum towards negotiation with North Korea. A professor who opted for anonymity said, “The Obama administration’s North Korean policy has become the hostage of bureaucratic politics in Washington D.C. and the conservative governments of Seoul and Tokyo.” He described it as “a typical policy without any creativity.” Others recognized some differences between Obama administration’s North Korean policy and that of the Bush administration. Jeong Se-hyun, former Unification Minister, said, “Since her inauguration, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has suggested a peace agreement as part of the solution on the North Korea nuclear issue and sent a similar message to North Korea even after the second nuclear test was conducted, and that is significant difference from the Bush administration.” On the same item, some conservative-leaning experts offered a favorable assessment on Obama administration’s North Korean policy and said, “It has maintained the principle that the U.S. will not reward wrong behavior.” Chun Sung-hoon, senior research fellow of the Korean Institute for National Unification, said, “The Obama administration has shown a firm attitude and that it will not be cheated by North Korea, which has violated agreements repeatedly.” Chun added, “It has made it clear to North Korea that nuclearization will not benefit it.” (Hankyore, “South Korean Expert Views on Obama’s North Korea Policy Are Mixed,” January 6, 2010)


1/7/10:
UnifMin Hyun In-taek has said he is always willing to meet the top North Korean official dealing with South Korea to solve any problems between the two sides. In an interview with the Chosun Ilbo, Hyun said his ministry “is the official channel for inter-Korean dialogue, so it would be only natural for the two Koreas to go through the communication line between the Unification Ministry and the United Front Department [of North Korea] if they want dialogue.” In his first interview with a local publication since his inauguration, Hyun was noncommittal when asked about his views about the background and prospects of the recent mood of détente between the two Koreas. But he was unequivocal that the Unification Ministry should “take center stage” Asked about the state of inter-Korean relations, he said, “It’s not dawn yet, but the day will break soon.” President Lee Myung-bak’s call for a standing dialogue channel with the North in his New Year’s address Monday, Hyun said, “is an important task to solve in the process of inter-Korean dialogue. I hope that the channel will materialize as soon as possible.” (Chosun Ilbo, “Unification Minister Seeks Central Role in Ties with N. Korea,” January 8, 2010)

The number of North Korean defectors hiding in China is estimated to have shrunken in recent years to almost one tenth the level seen in the late 1990’s, a U.S. demographer said. Activists and relief groups say tens of thousands of North Korean defectors live in China, but Dr. Courtland Robinson at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health said the number may have dropped to between 6,000 and 16,000 as of 2007. “About a decade ago, people were literally being starved to death and fleeing to China,” Robinson said in an interview, putting the 1998 figure between 50,000 and 130,000. Famine had reportedly killed as many as 2 million people in North Korea in the mid-1990s. (Sam Kim, “N. Korean Defectors in China Decreasing: U.S. Expert,” Yonhap, January 7, 2010)

Joseph Nye: “The Pentagon is properly annoyed that Hatoyama is trying to go back on an agreement that took more than a decade to work out and that has major implications for the Marine Corps’ budget and force realignment. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressed displeasure during a trip to Japan in October, calling any reassessment of the plan “counterproductive.” When he visited Tokyo in November, President Obama agreed to a high-level working group to consider the Futenma question. But since then, Hatoyama has said he will delay a final decision on relocation until at least May. Not surprisingly, some in Washington want to play hardball with the new Japanese government. But that would be unwise, for Mr. Hatoyama is caught in a vise, with the Americans squeezing from one side and a small left-wing party (upon which his majority in the upper house of the legislature depends) threatening to quit the coalition if he makes any significant concessions to the Americans. Further complicating matters, the future of Futenma is deeply contentious for Okinawans. Even if Mr. Hatoyama eventually gives in on the base plan, we need a more patient and strategic approach to Japan. We are allowing a second-order issue to threaten our long-term strategy for East Asia. … Sometimes Japanese officials quietly welcome “gaiatsu,” or foreign pressure, to help resolve their own bureaucratic deadlocks. But that is not the case here: if the United States undercuts the new Japanese government and creates resentment among the Japanese public, then a victory on Futenma could prove Pyrrhic.” (Joseph S. Nye, Jr., “An Alliance Larger Than One Issue,” New York Times, January 7, 2010, p. A-27)


1/8/10:
North Korea held events to celebrate what is believed to be the 28th birthday of ruler Kim Jong Il’s youngest son, according to aid groups and others with contacts there, adding to speculation that the younger Mr. Kim is bring groomed to take over from his father. High-ranking military and Communist Party officials at one of the events were told to serve Kim Jong Un, the third of the elder Mr. Kim’s sons, as “another great leader” for the country, according to South Korean media outlets that monitor affairs in the North. People sang songs to praise Kim Jong-un and pledged their loyalty to him, according to media and North Korea-focused groups, which also said party officials held lectures to glorify the greatness of the Kim family. (Jaeyon Woo, “North Korea Celebrates Birthday of Leader’s Youngest Son,” Wall Street Journal, January 8, 2010)

PM Hatoyama Yukio expressed his intention to consider crafting a joint security declaration between the governments of Japan and South Korea. But it remains unclear whether Japan and South Korea can fashion such a document given the strong reservations among diplomats of the two countries. “This is a topic that has come up amid the growing momentum for boosting cooperation between Japan and South Korea…on the occasion of President Lee’s visit to Japan,” Hatoyama told reporters. Strong anti-Japanese feelings remain among many South Koreans for Japan’s colonization of the country. But Hatoyama said, “Although various problems lay between Japan and South Korea, the so-called emotional part [feelings] in the two countries has receded to a fair degree.” DefMin Kitazawa Toshimi expressed hope for moving forward on crafting the declaration, noting that the Korean Peninsula, which remains divided between North and South, is an extremely important region to Japan. “We should greatly welcome the move if we can talk with South Korea,” he said at a news conference. “If we could consult [with each other] by overcoming our indebtedness and ill feelings in the 100th year since Japan’s annexation of Korea, it couldn’t be better than that.” Kitazawa denied, however, that the Hatoyama Cabinet has already begun considering the move. The prime minister’s side appears to be willing to. But in Seoul, reservations are said to be strong because it could invite negative reactions from South Koreans. “There’s no fact that backs the move to consider [crafting the declaration],” a senior FoMin official said. (Kyodo, “Japan Likely to Consider Joint Security Declaration with S. Korea,” January 8, 2010)

Forty North Korean officials were taught about the stock market, supply of consumer goods, light industrial policies, international trade and intellectual property right protection at China’s Dalian University in October and November, 2009, a source at the Ministry of Strategy and Finance said. A research institute under the state-run Seoul National University provided the education program, which cost the South 220 million won (US$194,000). The ministry said that South Korean officials were not directly involved in the training program. (Yonhap, “S. Korea Gave Pyongyang Officials Market Economy Training in 2009: Source,” January 8, 2010)

The United States will soon start talks with Japan aimed at deepening the bilateral alliance without waiting for the dispute over the relocation of a U.S. airfield in Okinawa Prefecture to be resolved, said U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell in a recent interview. “There are many aspects of our relationship, and we can’t put those other dimensions on hold …So we will begin discussions.” (Ogawa Satoshi, “U.S. to Put Futenma on Back Burner; Campbell Says Alliance Talks to Start Soon,” Yomiuri Shimbun, January 8, 2010)

Victor Cha: “There is a new sheriff in town. Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio and Ozawa Ichiro, secretary of the DPJ, are breaking the half-century of conservative rule by the Liberal Democrat Party. But the problem is they lack a clear direction. Bureaucrats who once ran the country like the autopilot on a jumbo airliner now openly complain that monkeys (politicians) are in the cockpit. Normally polite and serene establishment types now pound the table in anger, and in full view of foreigners, over Hatoyama’s incompetence and deride the D.P.J., a coalition of socialist and liberal politicians who through their own ineptness once ensured that Japan would be forever seen as a one-party democracy. But now, “citizen’s committees” in the new government publicly call bureaucrats to task as they slash budgets and redistribute resources. Hatoyama is wresting power from every corner of the bureaucracy but he has done nothing with his party’s new found clout, effectively causing the entire government to grind to a halt. This is the biggest political change in Japan in many decades; one that has rattled the foundations of the stable, predictable U.S.-Japan alliance. … Is Japan rewriting the terms of the U.S.-Japan alliance? Probably not. One gets the sense of a new government trying to define an identity that is different from its wholly pro-American conservative predecessors, but certainly not one that is anti-American. Domestic political calculations play a role in that the government needs to appease about 10 socialists (who are anti-American) until it can pass its budget, and then must focus on winning an absolute majority in the next legislative elections in July. The unfortunate victim of this confluence of political forces is the U.S. base agreement, as Hatoyama and Ozawa delay real decisions for vote calculations. But Tokyo needs to realize that time is not on its side. What has resulted from Hatoyama’s failure to enunciate a clear strategy or action plan is the biggest political vacuum in over 50 years. And the problem with such vacuums is that every statement or action can be taken out of context and propel U.S.-Japan relations in unpredictable directions. In this context, Hatoyama’s statements about an East Asia community minus the U.S. or its red carpet treatment of Iran start to deplete the reservoir of trust and goodwill. Amid this vacuum, Mr. Ozawa took 140 politicians to Beijing last month to share toasts and smiles with President Hu Jintao, making an otherwise welcome event in regional relations look like a deliberate poke at Washington. Operating without strategic clarity can have costs beyond the loss of trust and political goodwill. In 2002, for example, Roh Moo-hyun was elected president of South Korea amid a groundswell of anti-American sentiment. Like Hatoyama, he made inflammatory statements about being independent of the U.S. alliance, but had no real vision behind them. This led to the worst of both worlds — angry relations with allies, but no real alternate strategy. Moreover, the crisis of trust in the alliance precipitated a drop in market confidence among foreign investors and massive transfers of currency abroad by South Korean companies until the situation stabilized. Hatoyama and Ozawa need to learn from this experience. They must elucidate an economic strategy and an alliance action plan. Otherwise the costs could be far worse than hurt feelings on either side of the Pacific.” (Victor Cha, “Focus on Policy, Not Politics,” New York Times, January 8, 2010)


1/11/10:
DPRK FoMin Statement: “A year has gone by while the process for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is standing at the crossroads due to serious challenges to it. The denuclearization of the Peninsula is the goal of the policy consistently pursued by the Government of the Republic with a view to contributing to peace and security in Northeast Asia and the denuclearization of the world. It was thanks to the sincere and exhaustive efforts of the Government of the Republic that dialogues had taken place for the denuclearization of the Peninsula since the 1990s and, in this course, such important bilateral and multilateral agreements as the “DPRK-US Agreed Framework” and the September 19 Joint Statement were adopted. The implementation of all the agreements, however, stopped half way or was overturned. Since then the nuclear threat on the Korean Peninsula has not been decreased, but on the contrary it has further increased and, consequently, even nuclear deterrent came into being. The course of the six-party talks which witnessed repeated frustrations and failures proves that the issue can never be settled without confidence among the parties concerned. Still today the talks remain blocked by the barrier of distrust called sanctions against the DPRK. It is our conclusion that it is necessary to pay primary attention to building confidence between the DPRK and the United States, the parties chiefly responsible for the nuclear issue, in order to bring back the process for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula on track. If confidence is to be built between the DPRK and the US, it is essential to conclude a peace treaty for terminating the state of war, a root cause of the hostile relations, to begin with. [Broadcast text: “To build trust between the DPRK and the United States, a peace agreement for putting an end to the state of war should first be concluded.] When the parties are in the state of war where they level guns at each other, distrust in the other party can never be wiped out and the talks themselves can never make smooth progress, much less realizing the denuclearization. Without settling such essential and fundamental issue as war and peace no agreement can escape from frustration and failure as now. The peace treaty by nature should have been already concluded in the light of its intrinsic necessity, regardless of the nuclear issue. Had durable peace regime been established on the Korean Peninsula long ago, the nuclear issue would have not surfaced. Now that the issue of concluding the peace treaty is mentioned in the September 19 Joint Statement, too, it is good to move up the order of action as required by practice in the light of the lesson drawn from the failure of the six-party talks. The conclusion of the peace treaty will help terminate the hostile relations between the DPRK and the US and positively promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula at a rapid tempo. Upon authorization, the DPRK Foreign Ministry courteously proposes to the parties to the Armistice Agreement an early start of the talks for replacing the AA by the peace treaty this year which marks the lapse of 60 years since the outbreak of the Korean War. The above-said talks may be held either at a separate forum as laid down in the September 19 Joint Statement or in the framework of the six-party talks for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula like the DPRK-US talks now under way in view of their nature and significance. The removal of the barrier of such discrimination and distrust as sanctions may soon lead to the opening of the six-party talks. [Broadcast text: “Should the barrier of discrimination and mistrust called sanctions be removed, the Six-Party Talks themselves, too, will be able to open soon. “] If the parties to the AA sincerely hope for peace and security and the denuclearization of the Peninsula, they should no longer prioritize their interests but make a bold decision to deal with the fundamental issue without delay.” (KCNA, “DPRK Foreign Ministry Proposes to Parties to Early Start of Talks for Replacing AA by Peace Treaty,” January 11, 2010)

A MOFAT official close to the nuclear talks said the North’s proposal may well be part of an attempt to disrupt the negotiations. FM Yu Myung-hwan noted in a recent interview with Yonhap News Agency that Pyongyang may try to bring the issue into the six-party dialogue in an attempt to delay negotiations on ending its nuclear ambitions. “We cannot rule out the possibility that that is what North Korea really is trying to do. I believe there is nothing very positive in the North’s statement, though we still have to look deeper into the negative elements,” the official told reporters. The official said South Korea will continue to oppose launching discussions for a peace treaty until the nuclear negotiations show significant progress. “What we have said before is that we can start discussing a peace regime when there is strong momentum for progress in the denuclearization of North Korea,” he said. (Yonhap, “S. Korea Skeptical of N. Korea Proposal for Peace Treaty,” January 11, 2010)

Robert King: “I have just finished a meeting with the Foreign Minister. I have been in the position of Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights [Issues] now for six weeks. … Q: Do you have any plans to meet with North Koreans or to visit Pyongyang in the near future? KING: If the North Koreans invite me to Pyongyang, I will be happy to go. Q: Do you feel it is part of your mission to bring a court action in the International Court of North Korean human rights? KING: We have to look at that. I don’t have a case in mind right now. That is one option. The North Koreans have engaged with the UN Human Rights Council. We probably ought to continue to encourage the North Koreans to participate in international agencies that look at human rights issues. … Q: Do you have a plan that the North Korea human rights program to put on the Six-Party Talks as a (inaudible)? KING: The Six-Party Talks include a subgroup of the United States and the DPRK. We will hold bilateral discussions in the context of the Six-Party Talks. As we have said on many occasions, a relationship of the United States and North Korea will have to involve human rights.” (DoS, Robert R. King, Press Walkout at the MOFAT,” Seoul, January 11, 2010)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SEOUL 000062

SIPDIS

EO 12958 DECL: 01/14/2030

TAGS PHUM, PREL, PGOV, PINR, SOCI, ECON, KN, KS, CH

SUBJECT: SPECIAL ENVOY KING’S 1/11 MEETING WITH FM YU

Classified By: Ambassador D. Kathleen Stephens. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).

Summary

South Korea’s foreign minister tells American diplomats that Kim Jong-il will soon visit China to seek assistance and backing for his plan to anoint his youngest son as his political heir. Minister YU says Kim also needs Chinese economic aid and political help to deal with an increasingly “chaotic” situation at home. Key passage highlighted in yellow.

Summary

  1. (C) During a January 11 meeting with Special Envoy Robert King, FM Yu downplayed press speculation that a North-South summit is imminent. Yu asserted that Kim Jong-il (KJI) would visit China in late January or early February; the North Korean leader needed both Chinese economic aid and political support to stabilize an “increasingly chaotic” situation at home. An unspecified number of high-ranking North Korean officials had recently defected to the ROK, according to Yu. The foreign minister thanked King for his willingness to press the PRC on the treatment of North Korean refugees. Yu said the ROK would provide “significant” food aid to the DPRK if Pyongyang asked for it and agreed to monitoring. The ROK also planned to help fund work by NGOs to combat TB and multi-drug-resistant TB in the North, which has spread widely within the DPRK’s chronically malnourished population. At a lunch following the meeting, Seoul’s point man on DPRK issues, Ambassador Wi Sung-lac, reiterated the FM’s call for U.S. help in persuading China to go easier on North Korean refugees. Wi also thanked Ambassador King for his willingness to keep the ROK updated on discussions between the American Red Cross and its DPRK counterpart regarding potential reunions between Korean-Americans and their North Korean kin. End summary.

FM Yu on: Prospects for North-South Summit…

  1. (C) During a January 11 meeting with Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues Robert King, Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan downplayed press speculation that a North-South summit is imminent. The ROK was discussing the issue with the DPRK, Yu said, noting that there were two major Blue House preconditions: the nuclear issue had to be on the agenda and the ROK would not pay the North to hold a summit. Yu speculated that it would “take some time” for the North Koreans to “digest” the preconditions.

Rumors of a KJI Visit to China…

  1. (C) Yu asserted that Kim Jong-il (KJI) would visit China in late January or early February. The North Korean leader had visited the PRC twice before in that timeframe, Yu related, adding that KJI needed both Chinese economic aid and political support to stabilize an “increasingly chaotic” situation at home. In particular, FM Yu claimed that the North’s botched currency reform had caused “big problems” for the regime and that the power succession from KJI to Kim Jong-eun was “not going smoothly.” Moreover, Yu confided, an unspecified number of high-ranking North Korean officials working overseas had recently defected to the ROK. (Note: Yu emphasized that the defections have not been made public. End note.)

Pressuring Beijing on Refugees…

  1. (C) Yu thanked Ambassador King for stating that he intended to work closely with the ROK on the issue of improving human rights conditions in North Korea. Yu also expressed appreciation for Ambassador King’s willingness to engage the Chinese on the issue of North Korean refugees. Yu said he has repeatedly raised the matter with PRC FM Yang, only to get a boilerplate response emphasizing that North Koreans in China are economic migrants. Yu claimed that the number of North Koreans fleeing into China XXXXXXXXXXXX continues to increase; 2,952 North Koreans made it to the ROK in 2009 and more than that are expected in 2010. Yu noted that at least 80 percent of the refugees who come to the South are women, adding that they are often abused by human traffickers. XXXXXXXXXXXX Yu added that he was skeptical that the DPRK would engage in dialogue with the EU about human rights.

. and Humanitarian Assistance to the North

  1. (C) Responding to a question from Ambassador King, Yu said the North Korean grain harvest was approximately 4 million metric tons (MMT), which was better than expected but still short of the 4.5 MMT the regime needs to ensure stability. (Note: The official ROKG estimate is that the DPRK harvest was approximately 5 MMT. End note.) Given the North’s chronic transportation and storage problems, there would be starvation “here and there” during the spring, Yu lamented. The foreign minister said the ROK would be willing to provide “significant” food aid to the DPRK if Pyongyang asked for it and agreed to monitoring. The ROK would not, Yu said, simply give the North a huge amount of grain. Any aid would be given in small amounts, he stressed. The foreign minister also said the ROK would help fund work by NGOs to combat multi-drug-resistant TB in the North, which has spread widely within the DPRK’s chronically malnourished population.

Follow-On Lunch with XXXXXXXXXXXX

  1. (C) At a lunch following the meeting with XXXXXXXXXX reiterated the FM’s call for the United States to XXXXXXXXXXXX
  2. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX thanked Ambassador King for his willingness to keep the ROK updated on discussions between the American Red Cross and its DPRK counterpart regarding potential reunions between Korean-Americans and their relatives in North Korea. XXXXXXXXXXXX said that North Korea has made only token efforts to support North-South family reunions and has “reacted badly” to Seoul’s repeated calls for the release of the approximately 1,000 abductees and POWs believed to be still held by the DPRK. XXXXXXXXXXXX stressed that Seoul appreciated Ambassador King’s effort to keep the family reunion, abductee, and POW issues on the proverbial agenda. STEPHENS

DoS Daily Briefing: Q: On North Korea, reported by North Korean military broadcast this morning, North Korea will not be attending the Six-Party Talks unless United States agree peace treaty with the – North Korea. What is the U.S. position on that? CROWLEY: Well, I think if you go back to the discussions last month that Ambassador Steve Bosworth and Ambassador Sung Kim had in Pyongyang, I think both sides reaffirmed the importance of the Six-Party process and the significance of the September 2005 joint statement. Now if you go down the joint statement, there are a number of elements outlined there. It talks about denuclearization, the establishment of a peace regime, normalization of relations among all of the parties concerned and economic and energy cooperation. What we’ve made clear is that we are – if North Korea says yes, it comes back to the Six-Party process. If it makes affirmative steps towards denuclearization, then a wide range of other opportunities open up. But the first – the key here is that North Korea has to come back to us, say yes, come back to the Six-Party process, start working on the – its obligations under the joint communiqué – joint statement, and then we are perfectly willing to have other kinds of discussions. Q: But the North Korea demands peace treaty with the United States before the Six-Party Talks begin. [Not so.] What is the U.S. position? You think the Six-Party is — CROWLEY: Our position is that we see – we want to see North Korea come back to the Six-Party process. Remember, if you want to have a negotiation regarding an armistice, we are not the only party to that prospective negotiation. So that’s expressly why we think having a multilateral forum like the Six-Party process is important. So right now, the issue before North Korea is saying yes, coming back to the Six-Party process, and then we can begin to march down the list of issues that we have beginning with the nuclear issue.Q: P.J., on North Korea, the statement also says that they want the U.S. to drop all sanctions [?], or they want the international community to drop sanctions before they’ll come back to Six-Party Talks. So I’m wondering, is there any possibility of that and — CROWLEY: We’ve made clear, going back several months, we’re not going to pay North Korea for coming back to the Six-Party process. Q: So, no, you’re not going to drop sanctions. So do you see anything in this? Before they come back, is what I mean. CROWLEY: Right. …Q: So are you still willing to have another bilateral talks with North Koreans to resume the Six-Party Talks or you’re just waiting for them to say okay, we’re coming back? CROWLEY: We want to see them say yes, and then set up a meeting, get the process restarted and see what progress can be made. Q: So are you prepared to reach out to them and say, okay, why don’t we have another bilateral talks? CROWLEY: Well, I mean, I think when we left Pyongyang last month, I think it’s our view the ball is in North Korea’s court. We’d like to see them say yes. We’d like to see a Six-Party meeting take place. I won’t predict at this point – there are a number of ways of getting that done.” (DoS Daily Briefing, Assistant Secretary Philip Crowley, January 11, 2010)


1/12/10:
North Korea will not return to nuclear disarmament negotiations unless the United States agrees to peace treaty talks and lifts sanctions, leaving little room for compromise. North Korea’s ambassador to China, Choe Jin-su, said in a rare news briefing in Beijing, there could be immediate progress if the reclusive state’s demands were met. But six-party negotiations could resume only with the lifting of sanctions on North Korea and acceptance of its latest proposal for peace treaty talks. “Only concluding a peace treaty can eradicate the hostile relations between the DPRK and the United States and rapidly and actively advance denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” Choe told a small group of reporters, speaking through English and Chinese translators. “Only if the sanctions on the DPRK — these barriers expressing discrimination and distrust — are removed can the six-party talks resume,” said Choe. “If the sanctions on the DPRK are lifted, then the six-party talks can resume immediately. The key word is immediately.” (Chris Buckley and Benjamin Kang Lim, “North Korea Digs in on U.S. Peace Talks Demand,” Reuters, January 12, 2010)

South Korea’s Red Cross chief proposed talks with its North Korean counterpart quickly on resuming reunions of families separated by the Korean War. “It is important to help aging people who are part of separated families to realize their dream of reunion,” Yoo Chong-ha said in an interview with Yonhap. “I will make my best effort to have this issue discussed even before the governments of the two Koreas restart dialogue. The issue of family reunions is something to be pursued separately from political and governmental talks.” (Yonhap, “S. Korea’s Red Cross Proposes Talks with N. Korea on Family Reunions,” January 12, 2010)


1/13/10:
Bosworth: “Anytime that the U.S. is not somehow engaged with North Korea, the likelihood that they will do irresponsible things goes way up. …The North Korea delegation agreed with us that the six-party process is of fundamental importance to them as well as to the other participants. They agree on the essential importance of the Joint Statement of September 2005. …We did not, however, reach agreement on when and at what point the six-party process might recommence. ….The letter [from Obama to KJI] said nothing that I was not saying personally and directly and publicly. So it is not secret diplomacy. It is simply an effort to make sure that at the very top of North Korea that it is understood what our approach is, what our goals are, and how we would, in very general terms, like to proceed.” (Transcript of speech at KEI, Stephen Bosworth, January 13, 2010, Washington)

The government prepared an integrated “contingency plan (emergency plan)” to prepare for a rapid change situation in North Korea, under the code name “Revival [puhu’ng],” at the end of last year. This emergency plan, which appears to have been prepared along with “Operation Plan 5029,” a provision between the ROK and the United States for a rapid change situation in North Korea, is reportedly in the nature of an “integrated manual” at the government level jointly participated by the Ministry of Unification and the National Intelligence Service, unlike in the past. A government source said “it is known that the government began the work of preparing a ‘contingency plan’ centered around the National Intelligence Service and others since autumn of last year, and it was almost completed at the end of last year.” It was learned that the government prepared an emergency plan for this under the code name of “Revival” at the end of last year, even bringing in research organizations for [formulating] national policy such as the Institute for National Security Strategy and the Korea Institute for National Unification. The name, “Revival,” symbolizes a North Korea development plan that the Lee Myung-bak government’s “Denuclearization, Opening, 3000 Initiative” plan contains, and it is interpreted as having the same way of handling matters as the “Marshall Plan.”It was learned that the “Revival” plan contains administrative measures for emergency ruling of North Korea in case the North Korean system collapses, just like the “Ch’ungmu 3300” and “Ch’ungmu 9000” which had been prepared under the Kim Young-sam government. At the time, the “Ch’ungmu” plans were emergency plans prepared as the “rumor of North Korea’s collapse” spread within the country after North Korea’s President Kim Il Sung died in 1994.In addition, the distinctive character of the “Revival” plan is that it has integrated divided emergency plans into a single plan at the government level. Another government source said “it is known that the Ch’ungmu plans had already been discarded, and an integrated emergency plan has been newly established instead.” (Sin Po-yong, “ROK Government” Made Assistance Plan for Rapid Change Situation in North, Code Name ‘Revival,’” Munhwa Ilbo, January 13, 2010)


1/14/10:
North Korea proposed talks January 26-27 with South Korea on resuming joint tours to its scenic mountain and a historic border town that had been suspended after inter-Korean ties unraveled in 2008. The proposal came a day after the North agreed to hold a meeting with the South next week on ways to improve their joint industrial park in Kaesong. The tour to Mount Kumgang on the east coast was suspended in July 2008 after a South Korean tourist was shot dead by a North Korean soldier after wandering into a restricted area near the resort. The tour to the North Korean border town of Kaesong near the west coast was also suspended in November of the same year. “It is very regrettable that tour of Mt. Kumgang and the area of Kaesong has been suspended for one and a half years,” North Korea said in its message to South Korea, according to KCNA. UnifMin spokesman Chun Hae-sung confirmed the proposal was made by the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, which oversees inter-Korean businesses for North Korea. Another official, who declined to be named because the proposal was under review, said his government was likely to accept it. “It’s a positive move, and we will consider it positively,” the official said. (Sam Kim, “N. Korea Proposes Talks withS. Korea on Resuming Joint Tours,” Yonhap, January 14, 2010)

National Assembly Vice Speaker Lee Yoon-Sung: “Even if the Six-Party Talks were to be resumed, North Korea will likely pursue practical interests while demanding political and economical compensation, rather than resolving the nuclear issue. Even if negotiations were to begin, North Korea may be expected to assume a double stance where it will probably continue its nuclear development in secrecy while trying to acquire a stronger position as a nuclear state. Therefore, North Korea may try to come up with an excuse to refuse returning to the Six-Party Talks while demanding the conclusion of a peace treaty with the U.S., or it may try to shake the cooperation between South Korea and the U.S., and other parties. As mentioned above, regardless of North Korea’s intention, we are in a situation where we are unable to confirm any fundamental change to North Korea’s attitude towards the nuclear issue. … The two leaders [Obama and Lee] wholly agreed that we must break away from the pattern of the past where North Korea indulged in provocative actions and then returned to the Six-Party Talks to reap concessions. It was also agreed that we needed a comprehensive solution in the form of a ‘Grand Bargain’ as was proposed by President Lee Myung-Bak. The main concept of President Lee’s ‘Grand Bargain’ is that we reach a single, comprehensive agreement that includes complete denuclearization measures by the North and responsive measures by the five parties (including security assurance to the North, normalization of relations and economic assistance) in order to achieve complete nuclear dismantlement. …, North Korea is trying to discuss only economic cooperation issues with the South, and leaving political and security issues, including the nuclear issue, to discuss solely with the U.S. Such attitude is unrealistic, and unacceptable from a national perspective. We must establish a body for permanent inter-Korean dialogue, so that we can directly discuss all issues, including the nuclear issue with North Korea. If the North proves its decision to abolish its nuclear programs, we will take on measures that will help North Korea to overcome its economic difficulties and dramatically improve inter-Korean relations.” (Lee Yoon-sung, speech at SAIS, January 14, 2010)

North Korea will allow more tourists from its arch-foe the US to visit this year, seeking alternative sources of hard currency as sanctions bite deeper. North Korea at present allows US groups to visit only for the Arirang mass games, but Pyongyang has said that it will also allow visits throughout the rest of the year, according to Simon Cockerell of Beijing-based Koryo Tours, which says it escorts about 80 per cent of US travelers. (Christian Oliver, “North Korea to Allow More U.S. Visitors,” Financial Times, January 15, 2010, p. 1)


1/15/10:
Japanese FM Okada Katsuya met his South Korean counterpart Yu Myung-Hwan ahead of a two-day meeting of top diplomats from East Asian and Latin American countries, a Japanese MOFA official said. During the talks, Okada and Yu said their countries will “never allow” Pyongyang to go ahead with nuclear and missile development, and agreed not to accept any plan to lift sanctions immediately, the official said. They agreed that stalled six-party nuclear disarmament talks must resume first, and “confirmed the importance of urging (North Korea) to take concrete and forward-looking action,” the official said. “Minister Yu said it’s important to maintain a two-track approach — opening the window of dialogue and carrying out sanctions firmly — and Minister Okada replied that he agreed on it,” the official added. (AFP, “Japan, S. Korea Rebuff N. Korea Peace Proposal,” January 15, 2010)

DPRK National Defense Commission spokesman: It was reported by foreign press that the South Korean authorities recently worked out what they called “Emergency Ruling Plan-Puhung” to cope with a sort of “emergency” in the DPRK. The South Korean newspaper Munhwa Ilbo on January 13 did not bother to open to media the plan reportedly worked out by tricksters of the South Korean “Ministry of Unification” handling issues of the inter-Korean relations and the “National Intelligence Service” in top secrecy from the autumn last year to its end. This provocative plan reportedly puts into a concrete form the contents of the vicious scenario for toppling the system in the DPRK. After classifying the categories of “emergency” which is unimaginable in the DPRK and can never happen here into “incident,” “coup d’etat,” “revolt of inhabitants”and others the plan calls for deliberately “fostering and hyping them to the maximum” with an aim to bring down the dignified socialist system in the DPRK and putting into force even “administrative measures” to cope with them. The “Emergency Ruling Plan-Puhung” is a plan for bringing down the socialist system in the DPRK unilaterally worked out by the South Korean authorities while the already publicized “OPLAN 5029” is a scenario for toppling the system in the DPRK jointly drafted by the American master and his stooge with an aim to bring it to a “collapse.” The army and people of the DPRK regarded from the outset the improved north-south relations and the resumption of dialogue touted by riff-raffs of South Korea including its chief executive as sheer hypocrisy and have followed their rhetoric with vigilance without even a moment’s slackness. They did so because it was none other than the South Korean authorities who have played a double game since they designated fellow countrymen as “a principal enemy,” insisting on the cooperation with outsiders even today when the desire and demand of the Koreans for peace and reunification are growing strong throughout Korea. Looking back on history, no sooner had the South Korean authorities come to power than they negated the two historic declarations, gains common to the nation, and cried out for “unification under liberal democracy.” They unhesitatingly cried out for even “preemptive attack on the north” while kicking up an “anti-north human rights racket” and anti-DPRK psychological campaign.

Under the prevailing grave situation, the National Defense Commission of the DPRK responsible for the security of the socialist system in the DPRK and its defense, is authorized to clarify internally and externally the iron will and tough stand of the army and people of the DPRK as follows: 1. The South Korean authorities should immediately disband the present “Ministry of Unification” and the “National Intelligence Service” of south Korea, the architects of the treacherous, anti-reunification and anti-peace “Emergency Ruling Plan-Puhung,” and promptly take due measures to severely punish the prime movers of the said reckless plan for confrontation at the nation’s trial. It is the steadfast stand of the army and people of the DPRK that there can be neither national reconciliation and cooperation nor improved inter-Korean relations as long as such plot-breeding mechanisms as the present “Ministry of Unification” and the “National Intelligence Service” are left intact in south Korea. 2. Once the reckless provocative plan of the South Korean authorities to bring down the supreme headquarters of our revolution and the dignified socialist system is completed and put into practice, there will start a sacred nationwide retaliatory battle to blow up the stronghold of the South Korean authorities including “Chongwadae” that have led the drafting of the plan and backed it. This battle will be a nationwide and all-out just struggle with all the fellow countrymen in the north and the south an d abroad including our revolutionary armed forces. 3. The South Korean authorities should bear in mind that they will be thoroughly excluded from all the forthcoming dialogues and negotiations to improve the inter-Korean relations and ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula unless they make sincere apology for the crimes committed against the DPRK before the whole nation. They should clearly understand that whoever incites distrust and confrontation, instead of working for national reconciliation and cooperation, and seeks war and division, not peace and reunification, is fated to meet a merciless punishment by the strong revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu. (KCNA, “Spokesman for NDC of DPRK Warns S. Korean Authorities of Anti-DPRK Operation,” January 15, 2010)

A rare statement by the National Defense Commission, North Korea’s top decision-making body, may herald a deep freeze in inter-Korean ties and a further delay in resuming nuclear disarmament talks, analysts said. The North threatened to break off all dialogue with South Korea unless Seoul apologizes for allegedly drawing up a contingency plan for handling regime collapse. The NDC, which is headed by leader Kim Jong-Il, denounced the alleged plan as a “crime,” vowing to stage a “holy war” against those responsible for it, blaming Seoul’s presidential Blue House. Unconfirmed South Korean news reports say officials have a blueprint to administer the North in the event of regime collapse, a coup or a popular uprising there. The NDC said the “Emergency Ruling Plan” is aimed at bringing down the North’s socialist regime and was worked out by South Korean authorities to complement a joint US-South Korea military operation to overthrow the regime. Unless Seoul apologises, it will be “thoroughly excluded from any dialogue and negotiations aimed at improving inter-Korean ties and securing peace and stability,” it said. The NDC statement perplexed South Korean authorities, coming only hours after Pyongyang’s Red Cross authorities said they would accept food aid, which the North had shunned for two years as political tensions with the South rose. “We find it deeply regretful that North Korea took a threatening stance toward us, based on some unconfirmed media reports,” UnifMin spokesman Chun Hae-Sung said. (AFP, “North Korea Ends Peace Initiative toward South Korea, Say Analysts,” January 16, 2010) Kim Yeon-cheol, head of the Hankyoreh Peace Institute, said, “North Korea’s statement should be interpreted as a comprehensive evaluation of inter-Korean relations by North Korea from last August through now.” Kim expressed his anticipation for inter-Korean relations in saying, “Inter-Korean relations are entering a new tough season.” Regarding North Korea’s recently mixed attitude, former Unification Minister Chung Se-hyun said, “Conflict will arise between military authorities and the united front line, which has thus far maintained power on inter-Korean affairs.” Chung, however, also said, “In the end, the military leadership’s hard-line policy will win out over the united front line’s conciliatory policy.” (Hankyore, “N. Korea Issues Strong Response to Reported S. Korean Contingency Plan,” January 16, 2010)


1/17/10:
Japanese Foreign Minister Okada Katsuya told his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi on Sunday in Tokyo that Japan will take ”certain” action if China goes against a bilateral accord to jointly explore gas resources in the East China Sea, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official said. Yang expressed strong opposition to Okada, who suggested that Japan may start development on its own in the area if China moves ahead with gas production on one of the disputed gas fields, known as Shirakaba in Japan, according to a ministry source. The heated exchange came after more than a year has passed without the two countries starting negotiations toward concluding a treaty to implement the 2008 agreement, while China irritated Japan last summer with vessels cruising around Shirakaba. On North Korea’s nuclear issues, Okada asked China to work toward bringing Pyongyang back to the six-party denuclearization talks ”unconditionally” and Yang was quoted as telling him that China, the chair of the multilateral talks, will try to get the talks resumed soon. (Kyodo, “Japan to Take Action If China Violates E, China Sea Project Accord,” January 17, 2010)

Kim Jong-il has inspected a joint training of military forces, the country’s official media reported, two days after the communist state threatened to attack South Korea over its contingency plan. “The supreme commander acquainted himself with the units’ performance of duty and mounted an observations platform to watch servicemen in training,” KCNA said, without specifying the inspection date. “Training was to defend our socialist state from invaders.” It is the first time for the reclusive state to disclose Kim’s inspection of a joint training by the ground, naval and air forces since he became supreme commander of the country’s military in December 1992. (Shin Hae-in, “N. Korea Leader Views Military Drill after Warning,” Yonhap, January 17, 2010)

What initially appeared to be an attempt by North Korea to stall multilateral negotiations on ending its nuclear program may have been an attempt to provide its own excuse to return to the negotiating table, a ranking South Korean official said, noting Pyongyang may soon be ready to return to the nuclear talks. “North Korea said in April that it will completely quit the six-party talks. So there is a view that North Korea may be trying to create an excuse for its return to the six-party talks,” the official told reporters in Tokyo at the Forum of East Asia-Latin America Cooperation. (Byun Duk-kun, “North Korea Getting Ready to Return to Nuclear Negotiations: Official,” Yonhap, January 17, 2010)

Seoul has yet to provide full material support for the Proliferation Security Initiative, mostly for fear of unnecessarily aggravating North Korea, sources said. Government officials said there was no need to instigate the North when there was no urgent need to offer material support for the “North Korea is a big factor for our decision. As long as the drills do not occur near the waters we share, the government has yet to feel the need to participate in terms of material provisions,” one official said requesting anonymity. South Korea became a full-fledged PSI member in May. (Kim Ji-hyun, “Seoul Holds Back Full PSI Support,” Korea Herald, January 18, 2010)


1/18/10:
DPRK FoMin spokesman: “If the joint statement is to be implemented, the spirit of mutual respect and equality, which keeps the statement vital, should not be violated and there should not be such practice as distorting the order of action, the statement said, and went on: The joint statement calls for ‘harmoniously’ settling the issues of denuclearization, normalization of relations, energy compensation and the establishment of a peace-keeping regime. There is no agreed point that the issue of establishing a peace-keeping regime can be discussed only when denuclearization makes progress. Only the principle of ‘commitment for commitment’ and ‘action for action’ is laid down as the only principle for implementing the joint statement. Taking the situation of the U.S. side into consideration, the DPRK made such magnanimous efforts as keeping the discussion of denuclearization ahead of the debate on the issue of concluding a peace treaty at the Six-Party Talks for more than six years. In 2008 the international community witnessed the blowing up of the cooling tower of the nuclear facility in Yongbyon. The process of denuclearization made such substantial progress that the U.S. stopped applying the Trading with the Enemy Act and de-listed the DPRK as a ‘sponsor of terrorism.’This notwithstanding, the debate on the conclusion of a peace treaty failed to kick off, consequently pushing back the process of denuclearization. The mode of pushing ahead with denuclearization before discussing the peace-keeping regime ended in failure. The practical experience proved that pushing forward denuclearization in the absence of confidence is just like building a house without a foundation. The DPRK is not opposed to the Six-Party Talks and has no ground whatsoever to delay them. There happened such a thing as taking issue even with the satellite launch for peaceful purposes as there was no confidence among the parties to the talks. A satellite launch has never been considered as problematic among the countries that trust one another. Such extreme encroachment upon the sovereignty of a country as discriminately taking issue with its satellite launch compelled it to take such self-defensive counter-measure as a nuclear test and the resultant sanctions caused such a vicious cycle of distrust as bringing the Six-Party Talks to a collapse. It is the purport of the DPRK’s proposal for concluding a peace treaty to put an end to such vicious cycle of distrust and build confidence to push forward denuclearization. There will be a starting point of confidence building only if the parties concerned sit at a negotiating table for concluding a peace treaty. If the Six-Party Talks are to take place again, it is necessary to seek whatever way of removing the factor of torpedoing them. The latest sanctions are not particularly new for the DPRK as it has got used to blockade and sanctions for decades. But if the DPRK goes out for the Six-Party Talks, remaining subjected to the sanctions, such talks will not prove to be equal talks as clarified in the Sept. 19 Joint Statement but the talks between ‘defendant’ and ‘judge.’ The dignity of the DPRK will never allow this to happen. It is nonsensical for the DPRK to sit at the negotiating table with those countries that violate its sovereignty, allowing it to be persistently encroached upon, and discuss with them the deterrent it built to defend its sovereignty. The DPRK will continue to make sincere efforts to persuade the parties concerned into accepting its realistic proposal based on experience and lesson.” (KCNA, “DPRK Foreign Ministry Spokesman on Reasonable Way for Implementing Sept. 19 Joint Statement,” January 18, 2010)


1/19/10:
Speaking at a North Korea forum, Minister Yu Myung-hwan said, “North Korea has taken stance that is hard to understand by issuing a statement from a National Defense Commission spokesman that launched serious threats against (South Korea)…while agreeing to accept our humanitarian aid and hold working-level talks on the Kaesong industrial complex.” “North Korea’s denuclearization is a subject that cannot be ignored in inter-Korean ties,” he said in his keynote speech. “That is why we have repeatedly said that we will help North Korea overcome its economic crisis and significantly improve South-North ties if North Korea expresses a firm decision to give up its nuclear ambitions.” (Yonhap, “S. Korean FM Says N. Korea Making Unreasonable Demands,” January 19, 2010)

South Korea and the United States will not give in to North Korea’s demands in order to resume negotiations on ending the North’s nuclear ambition, saying that this time, they will try to “break” the communist nation’s pattern of brinkmanship, a foreign ministry official said. The ministry official, who is well-informed on the six-party process, noted the North’s demand for the removal of U.N. sanctions is one that could very well further stall the talks, noting the sanctions can only be removed by the U.N. Security Council when it sees progress in North Korea’s denuclearization, as it said in its resolution that imposed the sanctions in the first place. “Maintaining a distance from such practices of ours in the past is our current stance. What the leaders of South Korea and the U.S. said at their bilateral summit last year, too, was that they will stay away from such practices,” the official told reporters. The official was referring to an agreement between South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, in June, in which they said the countries will work to “break a pattern” in which North Korea behaves in a belligerent fashion, and if it waits long enough, it is rewarded. “That is to say we have always suffered from such a syndrome, but that it does not mean we always have to,” the official said. The official noted it will take some time before the countries can change the way North Korea behaves. “We will need some time to reach a compromise with North Korea while the North is waging an international campaign on this issue [of removing the U.N. sanctions]. And we do not know how much time will be needed,” he said, asking not to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue. South Korea’s nuclear negotiator, Wi Sung-lac, is scheduled to visit Washington this week for discussions with his U.S. counterparts on ways to bring North Korea back to the nuclear negotiations, ministry officials said. (Byun Duk-kun, “N. Korea, U.S. Out to Break North Korea’s Pattern of Belligerence: Official,” Yonhap, January 20, 2010)

Trade between South and North Korea plummeted 8.5 percent in 2009 compared to the year before, recent data show. The Korea Customs Service said inter-Korean trade totaled around US$1.7 billion last year, down from $1.8 billion in 2008. Outbound shipments were valued at $733 million and imports at $933 million amounting to a $200 million trade deficit, the highest since inter-Korean trade began in 1999. (Chosun Ilbo, Inter-Korean Trade Drops in 2009,” January 19, 2010)


1/19-21/10:
Despite lingering tension after North Korea threatened to mount a “sacred” battle against South Korea, officials from the divided countries sat down Tuesday at a joint industrial complex in the North and held talks on ways to revamp its operation, the Unification Ministry said. The two-day talks in the North Korean border town of Kaesong marked the first official contact this year between the sides. “The first day of talks is moving in a serious and practical mood,” UnifMin spokesperson Chun Hae-sung said of the meeting that began shortly after 2:00 p.m. (Yonhap, “Divided Koreas Hold Talks on Industrial cooperation amid Tension,” January 19, 2010) South and North Korean officials met in a perfectly civil atmosphere. “North Korean officials neither accused nor threatened South Korea,” the Unification Ministry said. A researcher at a government-funded think tank speculated the North is apparently backing down “to pursue practical interests.” A ministry spokesman said the two sides discussed “practical matters for the development of the Kaesong industrial park. There was no mention of other issues.” South Korean officials brought up the issue of easier travel, communications and customs for South Korean staff at the industrial park, while North Koreans reportedly focused on wages and construction of a dormitory for North Korean workers. Pyongyang earns W30-40 billion (US$1=W1128) from the industrial park per year.(Chosun Ilbo, “No Talk of Battle at Inter-Korean Meeting,” January 20, 2010) Representatives from the two countries had met a day earlier in the North Korean border city of Kaesong and held “useful talks while brainstorming ideas for improving the industrial complex” there, ministry spokesperson Lee Jong-joo said in a briefing. “Based on the ideas put forth yesterday, the two sides are having a comprehensive discussion on their proposals for the improvement of the Kaesong complex,” she said. She later told reporters that the talks were extended by a few hours as the agenda, including the arrangement of future meetings, demanded longer discussions. (Yonhap, “Divided Koreas Hold Talks on Improving Joint Industrial Park,” January 20, 2010) North Korea made a last-minute agreement to a South Korean proposal for additional talks on February 1 on improving operations at a joint industrial park in the communist state. “The North Korean side accepted our proposal right before our delegation left Kaesong, just as we were bidding farewell” this morning, chief South Korean delegate Kim Young-tak said in a briefing. (Yonhap, “Koreas Agree to Meet Again Feb. 1 over Industrial Park,” January 21, 2010) Following the scheduled sessions that were supposed to end yesterday afternoon, the two sides had further talks that lasted past midnight as they wrangled over the agenda for the February meeting. Kim Young-tak, the head of the South Korean delegation, said his team proposed that the meeting first address facilitating cross-border trips and communications for South Korean workers and building residences for North Korean workers. The North countered that in addition to these matters, the wage issue should be on the table. “The North Koreans didn’t give specific figures for wages,” Kim explained in a press briefing yesterday in Seoul. “At this point, we don’t know whether they will bring that up again on Feb. 1.” More than 100 South Korean companies employ about 42,000 North Koreans at the complex. (Yoo Jee-ho, “North Agrees to February Kaesong Plant Meeting,” January 21, 2010)


1/20/10:
Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told a defense forum. “We would have to strike (North Korea) right away if we detected that it has a clear intention to attack (South Korea) with nuclear weapons.” (Shin Hae-in, “S. Korea Will Launch Preemptive Strike in Case of Imminent Attack: Minister,” Yonhap, January 20, 2010)

An estimated 200,000 North Koreans are in six prison camps in the communist country and those inmates are under constant threat of public execution, rape and torture, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) reported. Of six prison camps in the North, four are for inmates who have been given life sentences, the report said. Interviewees who had been in the camps said the authorities arrested them without warrants and put them there without trials. The commission recommended that the government address the appalling human rights conditions in the prison camps as a policy priority. The report by the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights at the request of NHRC was based on accounts of 322 North Korean refugees who defected to South Korea after 2006. Of them, 17 had experienced the concentration camps as either inmates or guards, and another 32 went through repatriation to the North after failed attempts to flee the North. According to the Ministry of Unification, about 1,000 North Koreans defected to the South in 2001 ― the figure rose to 2,018 in 2006. About 2,800 North Korean defectors settled in South Korea in 2008. (Kang Hyun-kyung, “’200,000 Are in Six Prison Camps in North Korea,’” Korea Times, January 20, 2010) The report is South Korea’s first assessment of human rights abuses in North Korea and marks a significant shift in the South’s approach toward the North. (Chosun Ilbo, “Seoul Breaks Silence on N. Korea’s Human Rights Abuses,” January 22, 2010)

North Korea will establish a state development bank which will deal with international financial organizations and commercial banks and invest according to state policies, KCNA reported. The decision was made by the powerful National Defense Commission, which is headed by leader Kim Jong-il. It will also set up an international cooperation agency called the Korea Daepung International Investment Group to take charge of attracting investment for the bank. KCNA claimed the bank has “modern financial rules.” Kim Yang-gon, the director of the Workers’ Party’s United Front Department in charge of inter-Korean relations, has been named chairman of the Korea Daepung Investment Group, and Pak Chol-su vice chairman. A North Korean source said Pak is a Korean businessman who resides in China and maintains relations with South Korean officials and businessmen. He apparently once arranged a secret inter-Korean meeting. Pak is also believed to have been involved in a secret meeting held between Labor Minister Yim Tae-hee and Kim Yang-gon in Singapore last October. Kim is a board member, as are seven officials from the NDC and cabinet. Rumor has it that Jang Song-taek, Kim Jong-il’s brother-in-law and the director of the Administrative Department of the Workers’ Party, is also on the board of directors. (Chosun Ilbo, “N. Korea to Establish State Development Bank,” January 21, 2010; Kwak Youngsup, “North Korea’s Establishment of Development Bank,” Vantage Point, April 2010, pp. 18-21)

WikiLeaks cable: “C O N F I D E N T I A L USUN NEW YORK 000028 1/20/10 SUBJECT: DPRK: EXPERTS INVESTIGATE SANCTIONS VIOLATIONS, REQUEST INFO 1. (C) SUMMARY AND ACTION REQUEST: The Panel of Experts (POE), a team mandated in UNSCR 1874 to help monitor and improve implementation of UN sanctions on North Korea, has launched investigations into the four sanctions violations reported to the Security Council’s DPRK Sanctions Committee (“1718 Committee”). The team is entering a make-or-break period: it has only three months or so to wrap up its investigations in time to finish its final report due in May 2010. The POE plans to submit to the Committee an “incident report” for each violation that will lay out relevant facts, analysis and recommendations for actions the Committee may take in response. To aid its work, the POE will travel to key capitals, mostly in Asia, in January and February. The POE has requested that “friendly governments” supply them with more information and leads to aid these and other investigations. USUN requests that Washington consider favorably the POE’s request for more information. END SUMMARY AND ACTION REQUEST. 2. (C) Halfway through its year-long mandate, the UN Panel of Experts (POE) — a seven-person independent team mandated by UNSCR 1874 to monitor the enforcement of UN sanctions on North Korea and recommend ways to improve their implementation — has launched investigations into the four sanctions violations reported to the Security Council’s DPRK Sanctions Committee (“1718 Committee’). These investigations will occur during a critical make-or-break period for the Panel: it must complete its investigations in the first three months of 2010 in order to be able to finish its final report due to the Council in May 2010. The POE’s work in this short window will be an important factor in whether the Council decides to renew the POE’s mandate in June 2010. …7. (C) POE Coordinator David Birch (UK) briefed mission experts on the state of play of the four sanctions violations reported to the 1718 Committee in 2009: — “ANL Australia” (a violation reported by the UAE in August 2009 involving the transfer of arms-related materiel from Iran to the DPRK): Birch explained that the POE had engaged the UAE mission in New York and was waiting for a formal visit to inspect the cargo, preferably in January. The UAE authorities, he said, may wish for the POE to be present when the cargo is destroyed. The POE has also been analyzing additional information supplied by Member States in the fall in response to requests from the Committee regarding the incident. — “MS Rachele” (a violation reported by South Korea in October involving the transfer of chemical warfare protection suits from the DPRK to Syria): Birch reported that the POE had inspected the suits on a December visit to the South Korean port of Busan. He noted that although some Committee members believed that the protection suits did not constitute “arms-related materiel” for the purposes of UNSCR 1874, the team’s visit to South Korea had uncovered facts that supported the conclusion that these suits were primarily for military use. The POE has begun drafting an incident report, but is still negotiating the language with the Russian/Chinese experts who believed the items had a plausible civilian use. — Thai air seizure (a violation reported by Thailand in December 2009 involving the transfer of arms from the DPRK aboard an aircraft): Birch said that the POE was also waiting on an invitation to visit Bangkok to inspect the items. The POE hoped to schedule this trip in late January, but was frustrated that the Thai mission, which seemed unclear about what they should do in the aftermath of this incident, had not yet extended a formal invitation. Mission representatives agreed to prod the Thais to issue one soon. At the same time, the 1718 Committee is poised to send letters to all the states involved in the incident requesting additional information and cooperation with the POE. — Luxury yachts (a violation reported by Austria in December involving the DPRK’s attempt to procure yachts, which are a “luxury good” banned for export under UNSCR 1718): Birch said the report from Austria illustrated the need for the Committee to help states define what “luxury goods.” He said the POE had already detected a wide disparity in national practice regarding the implementation of this provision. In addition to engaging with the Austrians and the Italian authorities who later seized the yachts the POE is now working on draft guidance on the definition of “luxury goods” that the Committee may wish to publish on its website. …10. (C) ACTION REQUEST: USUN recommends that Washington consider seriously the POE request for more information or leads that might help focus the team’s efforts. The regular provision of such information could significantly improve the POE’s ability to support better enforcement of the UN sanctions imposed on North Korea. END ACTION REQUEST. RICE”


1/22/10:
North Korea changed a law regarding its northeastern Rason special economic zone in an apparent move to attract more foreign investment, including from South Korea, a government official said on March 13. The Seoul government has confirmed the revision, which includes a clause that says the North will allow “Korean compatriots living outside the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)” to be engaged in economic and trade activities in the communist state’s first free trade zone, set up in 1991, the official said on condition of anonymity. The North had banned South Korean investors from Rason in a 1999 revision. Under the latest revision, the reclusive state will lower tax rates and simplify administrative procedures for foreign investors who want to establish branch and agent offices there, the official said. The revision took effect January 27 when Pyongyang upgraded the status of Rason to a special city, he said. The official anticipated that South Korean firms would do business in the zone, saying the latest revision is a positive sign of North Korea opening its doors to outside world. (Jung Sung-ki, “N. Korea to Attract S. Korean Investment in Rason,” March 14, 2010)


1/24/10:
Japan and four other countries involved in the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear disarmament have reached a basic agreement to make a new joint proposal to Pyongyang if it returns to the stalled negotiations. The new proposal will include concrete steps to realize the commitments made in a joint statement in September 2005. The Obama administration has held discussions with the four countries and obtained their approval to enhance the measures stipulated in the 2007 joint document, in an attempt to entice North Korea back to the six-party talks, the sources said. North Korea reportedly hoped to make conclusion of a peace treaty with the United States a condition for reviving the dormant negotiations, while Washington is considering including conclusion of a peace treaty in the new proposal along with denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and economic assistance for North Korea, the sources said. (Honma Keiichi, “Basic Deal Reached on Luring N. Korea Back to Six-Party Talks,” Yomiuri Shimbun, January 25, 2010)

South Korea’s top negotiator over North Korea’s nuclear program hinted at a slight change in Seoul’s position on talks for a peace treaty with the communist North, saying such dialogue could be held in parallel with the nuclear negotiations. Returning from a trip to Washington, Wi Sung-lac said, “Once the denuclearization process gains driving force, we can start discussing the two separate issues at the same time.” Seoul earlier said such talks could only be held after North Korea returns to the six-way talks on ending its nuclear ambitions and takes denuclearization measures. Wi said his country will hold the nuclear talks and negotiations for a peace treaty simultaneously “in a way that they do not clash with each other, but create a synergy that will mutually help the other.” (Yonhap, “Seoul’s Nuclear Envoy Hints at Early Start of Talks on Peace Treaty with N. Korea,” January 25, 2010)

KPA General Staff spokesman’s statement: blasted “the outbursts about ‘preemptive strike’ let loose by the south Korean puppet defense minister which have created such grave situation under which the tragic June 25 war may repeat itself on the Korean Peninsula at any moment. …The defense minister, addressing an open seminar titled ‘Defense reform and prospect of inter-Korean relations’ held on January 20, blustered that south Korea would mount a ‘preemptive strike’ if necessary to cope with the ‘nuclear threat’ from the north, adding that ‘such stand’ of the south Korean puppet army is ‘invariable.’ At a ‘National Assembly confirmation hearing’ for informally designating the chairman of the puppet Joint Chiefs of Staff held in March 2008, he blared that south Korea would make a ‘preemptive strike’ at the nuclear bases in the north with precision guided missiles. The above-said reckless remarks about ‘preemptive strike’ openly made by the guy once again upon assuming the post of defense minister are by no means gaffes but fully reflect the will of the south Korean puppet authorities displeased with the process for improving the inter-Korean relations, the statement said. The KPA General Staff re-clarifies the principled stand of our revolutionary armed forces to cope with the grave situation, the statement said, and went on: Our revolutionary armed forces will regard the scenario for ‘preemptive strike’ which the south Korean puppet authorities adopted as a ‘state policy’ as an open declaration of war. They will take prompt and decisive military actions against any attempt of the south Korean puppet authorities to violate the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK and blow up the major targets including the commanding center. Steadfast is our stand to improve the inter-Korean relations on the basis of the historic June 15 joint declaration and the October 4 declaration and pave the way for national reunification, but we will never remain a passive onlooker to the moves of the puppets to escalate the confrontation with the DPRK. Those seeking to realize their daydream will not be able to escapre an unimaginably miserable fate, warned the statement.” (KCNA, “KPA General Staff Blasts S. Korean Defense Minister’s Outbursts,” January 24, 2010)


1/25/10:
South Korea proposed holding talks with North Korea early next month to discuss ways to resume suspended tourism programs to the communist nation’s Mount Kumgang and Kaesong city. An official at Seoul’s unification ministry said, “The government proposed holding working-level talks on Mount Kumgang and Kaesong tourism programs on Feb. 8 in a message signed by the unification minister to Kim Yang-gon, director of the Central Committee of North Korea’s Workers’ Party.” Seoul, meanwhile, rejected North Korea’s proposal to hold immediate military talks over border restrictions, saying the talks should come after the discussions on their joint venture are concluded. North Korea had last week proposed holding military talks on January 26 to discuss restrictions hindering South Korean transportation and communications in and out of a joint factory park in Kaesong. (Yonhap, “Seoul Proposes Talks with N. Korea over Suspended Tour Program,” January 25, 2010)


1/26/10:
North Korea has declared “no-sail” zones off the peninsula’s west coast, a possible indication that the regime is readying for a missile test in the area. “The North declared the no-sail zones in the waters south of the NLL in the Yellow Sea,” said a South Korean official. The Northern Limit Line is the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas. “We have activated close surveillance to see if the North’s no-sail zone declaration is a part of its winter military training or a preparation to test-fire a short-range missile,” the official said. According to the source, two areas near the South’s Baeknyeong Island were designated by the North as no-sail zones from Monday until March 29. The no-sail zones include both Koreas’ waters. It is the first time that the North included the South Korean waters in the no-sail zones, a possible indication that Pyongyang is attempting to challenge the Northern Limit Line using a new tactic. One of the two areas is where the two Koreas had a naval skirmish two months ago. (Ser Myo-ja and Kim Min-seok, “North Declares Two ‘No-Sail’ Zones in Yellow Sea,” JoongAng Ilbo, January 27, 2010)

The United States will discuss next week South Korea’s demand for the right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel to help South Korean firms make inroads into the global nuclear energy market. “I think we will resume some of the discussions next week when I am in Seoul,” Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told South Korean correspondents here ahead of his trip to Seoul next week. “But I will anticipate we will be working through this question in the coming weeks or months.” Campbell was discussing a 1974 agreement, valid until 2014, that calls for South Korea to obtain U.S. consent before reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. He said he met with South Korea’s Vice Foreign Minister Chun Yung-woo here today to discuss pyroprocessing and other related issues. (Hwang Doo-hyong, “U.S. to Discuss S. Korea’s Demand for Nuclear Reprocessing: Campbell,” Yonhap, January 27, 2010)

North Korea’s weapons exports have reportedly dropped 90 percent since the U.N. Security Council slapped unprecedented sanctions on the communist regime last year that included the banning of all arms exports from the country. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says even African countries and Vietnam, which used to import small weapons from North Korea, have stopped their transactions with the reclusive country. However, the institute said Iran may still be receiving weapons from North Korea as it has long been a key supplier of missile technology to the Middle Eastern country. (Chosun Ilbo, “N. Korea’s Weapons Exports ‘Down 90%’ Since UN Sanctions,” January 26, 2010)


1/27/10:
South Korea warned North Korea against military provocations after the North’s firing of about 30 artillery rounds into waters near its disputed western sea border with the South earlier in the day and said the North will be held accountable for any consequences from further actions. “Our military forces will sternly deal with the North’s provocative actions and the North will be held responsible for any ensuing consequences,” the South Korean Defense Ministry said in a statement sent to the North. South Korea also called on the North to immediately scrap a declaration of “no-sail” zones in the South’s western sea area, calling it as a violation of the armistice agreement and non-aggression agreement between the two Koreas, the statement said The artillery fire lasted from 9:05 a.m. to 10:16 a.m. and the rounds fell on the North’s side of the two maritime areas that the North declared ”no-sail” zones yesterday, the official said. (Kyodo, “S. Korea Warns North Following Artillery Fire near Sea Border,” January 27, 2010) North Korea fired artillery rounds toward its disputed sea border with South Korea, prompting a barrage of warning shots from the South’s military and raising tensions on the divided peninsula. North Korea fired about 30 artillery rounds into the sea from its western coast and the South immediately responded with 100 shots from a marine base on an island near the sea border, an officer at the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul said. The North said it would continue to fire rounds. He said the North’s artillery fire landed in its own waters while the South fired into the air. (Hyung-jin Kim, “N.Korea, S. Korea Exchange Fire near Disputed Border,” Associated Press, January 27, 2010) After firing the first batch of about 30 artillery shells in the morning, North Korea began firing again at 3:25 p.m., with dozen more shells landing north of the Northern Limit Line, the de facto inter-Korean maritime border in the west sea. The area is within the boundaries recently declared by the communist state as “no-sail zones,” Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said. While holding back from immediate counterattacks, the South Korean military said it is “fully prepared to make a military response” should North Korea’s provocations exceed the limit line. “We would have made a counterattack if the shells flew toward the west (of the NLL into South Korean territorial waters), but they landed on the north side,” Lee Gi-shik, a senior JCS officer, told reporters. “We will act upon our exchange fire principles, however, should North Korea cross the line. We are fully prepared for all circumstances and are on high alert.” (Yonhap, “N. Korea Fires Artillery, Ups Tension near Sea Border,” January 27, 2010) North Korea was apparently testing its capability to hit selected targets simultaneously using a variety of artillery pieces. The South Korean military believes North Korea conducted the test on using coastal artillery pieces, multiple rocket launchers and self-propelled howitzers. The North deployed 130 mm cannons (27-34 km range) positioned along its western coast and islands, as well as 240 mm MLRS (approximately 60 km range) and 170 mm self-propelled howitzers (54 km range). The type of maneuver is referred to as “Time on Target,” involving simultaneous volleys of rounds landing on a single target. The shells must hit a target at the same time, so different weapons must be fired at different times, with guns further away from the target firing first. In TOT maneuvers, rounds fall on or near a target at the same time, making the attack more devastating than shells falling at different intervals and reducing the chances of escape. North Korea is said to have succeeded in hitting its intended targets fairly accurately this time, with the aim being to inflict serious damage on South Korean gunboats in a crisis despite the inability of coastal artillery to deliver precision blows.(Chosun Ilbo, “N. Korea Artillery Fire ‘Was Time-on-Target Drill,’” January 29, 2010)UnifiMin Hyun In-taek said the inter-Korean talks will proceed as planned. “We will pay attention to maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula,” Hyun told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar yesterday. “We will go ahead with the working-level talks in Gaeseong on February 1 as planned.” The minister urged North Korea to “stop raising unnecessary tension and show us trust.” “The government will engage in dialogue with the North with a consistent principle. We will not hurry or step back,” he said. “North Korea is exercising a two-track policy of aggressively seeking economic cooperation and humanitarian aid on one hand while heightening military tension on the other,” said Kim Yong-hyun, professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University. “The North’s military provocations are obviously a negative sign in inter-Korean relations but are unlikely to affect the upcoming inter-Korean talks”. “By firing (rounds of artillery) in the West Sea, the North seems to have intended to demonstrate that it can always act on its words,” said Professor Kim. “Such military actions may have two purposes. One would be to highlight the dispute over the NLL and stress the importance of a peace treaty ahead of six-party talks and the other to strengthen national solidarity as it prepares for a post-Kim Jong-il era.” (Kim So-hyun, “N.K. Firing Part of Two-Track Strategy,” Korea Herald, January 28, 2010)

Obama, State of the Union Address: “Now, even as we prosecute two wars, we’re also confronting perhaps the greatest danger to the American people -– the threat of nuclear weapons. I’ve embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan through a strategy that reverses the spread of these weapons and seeks a world without them. To reduce our stockpiles and launchers, while ensuring our deterrent, the United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades. (Applause.) And at April’s Nuclear Security Summit, we will bring 44 nations together here in Washington, D.C. behind a clear goal: securing all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years, so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists. (Applause.) Now, these diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of nuclear weapons. That’s why North Korea now faces increased isolation, and stronger sanctions –- sanctions that are being vigorously enforced. That’s why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran’s leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: They, too, will face growing consequences. That is a promise. (Applause.)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SEOUL 000202:
SUBJECT: DASD SCHIFFER: KOREAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY MEMBERS PITCH “SUNSHINE POLICY”, OPCON DELAY, AND ACTION ON FTA 1.(C) Summary: In separate meetings with DASD Michael Schiffer on January 26 and 27, ruling Grand National Party (GNP) and opposition Democratic Party (DP) National Assembly Members affirmed the strength of the U.S.-ROK Alliance and discussed North Korea, wartime OPCON transition, and the KORUS FTA. The DP Members were critical of what they described as the USG’s hard-line policy toward North Korea and urged engagement in the spirit of former President Kim Dae-jung’s “Sunshine Policy”. GNP and DP Members supported delaying OPCON transition, while one DP Member advised that, if not delayed, it must be handled cautiously. GNP Members expressed their frustration at what they described as a lack of good will on the part of the USG in not acting to ratify the KORUS FTA. End Summary. 2.(C) DASD Schiffer hosted DP National Assembly Members Park Jie-won, Park Sun-sook, and Seo Jong-pyo for dinner on January 26. Park Jie-won, currently Chairman of the DP’s Policy Committee, was former President Kim Dae-Jung’s chief of staff and seckret emissary to North Korea for arranging the 2000 summit in Pyongyang between Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il. Park Sun-sook was Kim Dae-jung’s press secretary. Seo Jong-pyo is a first-term National Assembly Member and retired General. DASD Schiffer hosted GNP Memebers Hwang Jin-ha and Cho Yoon-sun on January 27. Hwang Jin-ha, a retired Lieutenant General, is a second-term National Assembly Member and serves on the Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Unification Committee. Cho Yoon-sun is a first-term National Assembly Member, who, before entering politics, was Chief Legal Officer for Citibank Korea. 3.(C) Park Jie-won, though pessimistic that North Korea would ever abandon its nuclear weapons, said the U.S. should normalize relations, discuss a peace agreement, and provide energy assistance to reestablish trust with the North. He said North Korea tested nuclear weapons and missiles because, feeling ignored and “lonely” in the early days of the Obama administration, it was trying to draw America’s attention. Moreover, because, according to Park, the U.S. seemed to be currently preoccupied with fighting terrorism and relief efforts in Haiti, the North could be preparing a new round of provocative acts. The possibility of armed conflict was real, Park said, and the North’s call for peace regime talks was not mere rhetoric. The potential for dialogue existed, but the choice was not North Korea’s; it was up to the U.S. and the other Six Party Talks members to woo North Korea back to negotiation, said Park. Nevertheless, Park said, “I don’t think they will abandon nukes in the final stage. The most they will do is seal the facilities. Then they will want to verify U.S. nuclear capability in the ROK. It is unreasonable.” 4.(C) DASD Schiffer, recounting the history of U.S. efforts to engage North Korea, including President Obama,s offer of an outstretched hand in his inaugural address, told Park Jie-won it would be “absurd” to attribute the development of Kim Jong-il’s nuclear program to North Korea being “lonely”. The choice, DASD Schiffer said, was North Korea’s to make: to walk through the open door of engagement or not. In exchange for verifiably abandoning its nuclear weapons, North Korea would find the U.S. willing to normalize relations, negotiate a peace agreement, and provide aid. DASD Schiffer noted that action for action worked both ways: negative DPRK actions, such as missile launches and nuclear tests, resulted in negative U.S. actions, such as sanctions. He asked what more the U.S. could do to induce North Korea to dialogue, especially given our attempts to engage North Korea had resulted in North Korean provocations. 5.(C) Seo Jong-pyo, representing the conservative wing of the DP, said that North Korea, from the perspective of former President Kim Dae-jung’s “Sunshine Policy”, was South Korea’s brother. But from a security perspective, the retired general said North Korea was the enemy. The strong U.S.-ROK Alliance made ROK engagement with the North possible during the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations, but the North’s 2006 nuclear test was a turning point that revealed the North’s true intentions. “The nuclear issue,” Seo said, “can only be resolved if the regime collapses.” Park Jie-won, who had invited Seo to the dinner, laughed, “He is very conservative.” 6.(C) Park Jie-won said time was of the essence to strike a deal with Kim Jong-il before he died, because nobody else had the decision making authority to make a deal stick, and before the North succeeded in miniaturizing its nuclear weapons. Park emphasized that the Sunshine Policy was the least expensive method to resolve the nuclear issue with North Korea. DASD Schiffer noted that rewarding bad behavior set up bad incentives and created a moral hazard, which would not lead to a successful resolution. The DP, Park added, would welcome and support a summit between Lee Myung-bak and Kim Jong-il. Park worried about instability that might result from the North Korean government’s inability to fulfill expectations it had raised by promising economic improvements by 2012. He said the currency revaluation was an example of the government’s attempt to regain control of the economy. The pressure on Kim Jong-il to produce results was immense, he speculated, making it more likely that his health would deteriorate further. 7.(C) Park Jie-won, based on recent conversations he had with Chinese government officials, said China did not take the sanctions against North Korea seriously. China’s position, he said, was that the South and North should work out their differences like two brothers but that President Lee was blocking progress. China was worried that if the North’s nuclear weapons program was not halted, the ROK, Japan, and maybe even Taiwan would also seek nuclear weapons. The only solution in China’s view, according to Park, was for the U.S. to engage in dialogue with the North, lift sanctions, give the North a security guarantee, and provide aid. Park agreed, though, that North Korea was making the &biggest mistake in a history of mistakes8 by continuing its provocative actions and rhetoric. He lamented that North Korea was &holding the threat of war8 as leverage over Seoul. 8.(C) GNP Member Hwang Jin-ha said planning for contingencies in the North was critical because Kim Jong-il’s poor health and the destabilizing effects of the sanctions increased the likelihood of contingency situations. Hwang said it was important to find a way to signal to China and Russia what U.S. and ROK expectations were “to educate them on how we expect to see things unfold.” 9.(C) GNP and DP members were nearly unanimous that the planned transition of wartime operational control (OPCON) to the ROK in 2012 should be delayed. Only DP Rep. Park Sun-sook said it should proceed, but added that the matter called for careful handling lest it spark a domestic political crisis in the ROK or, worse, embolden the DPRK to take advantage of what it might see as an opening. The Korean public, they all said, believed OPCON transition meant the U.S. commitment to the ROK’s defense was decreasing. Moreover, 2012 would be a potentially volatile year with presidential and National Assembly elections in the ROK, a presidential election in the U.S., a Party Congress and new President in China, and the (likely disappointing) culmination of North Korea’s effort to become a “strong and prosperous nation”. 10.(C) Hwang Jin-ha, reflecting a broad consensus in the ruling GNP, argued strongly for delaying the planned transition of wartime OPCON to the ROK in 2012. Hwang said the agreement between former President’s Bush and Roh to transition OPCON was “like a bad marriage” with each side hiding its true intentions from the other. The U.S. side, according to Hwang, saw that it had an opportunity for “strategic flexibility” while for Roh it was an ill-guided matter of reclaiming Korea’s sovereignty. It was clear, in hindsight he said, that Roh’s judgment on security matters was deeply flawed because he did not see North Korea as a threat; he claimed that this flaw remained the basis of the OPCON transition agreement. Hwang said in light of the current nuclear security threat in North Korea, taking any unreciprocated act to weaken — as Hwang saw it — Korea’s security posture would be a mistake. 11.(C) OSD Senior Country Director for Korea Brian Arakelian told Hwang that the process of preparing for OPCON transition had strengthened U.S.-ROK combined defenses and the bilateral assessment of the strategic environment because it had prompted a necessary reevaluation of contingency plans and the desired bilateral assumptions and end-states for the peninsula inherent in those plans. With or without OPCON transition, Arakelian said, the ROK would play a lead role in the event of conflict — in a manner not accounted for in current plans and command relationships. Preparation for OPCON transition, therefore, had resulted in bilateral plans and alliance structures and arrangements &catching up8 to the reality of today,s security environment — ensuring the U.S. and ROK were better prepared )- rather than the claim by many that the transition was neglecting consideration of that strategic environment. Representative Cho replied that while valid points, such arguments were difficult to convey to the ROK public. Arakelian further asserted that it was perplexing how the ROK public could be persuaded to support ROK forces deploying to Afghanistan and elsewhere globally, and yet not be convinced of the necessity of the ROK,s lead role in its own defense, or of viewing the ROK,s global commitments in the context of impacts on the combined defense (alluding to the ROK public,s apprehension with U.S. strategic flexibility). 12.(C) DP Members Park Jie-won and Seo Jong-pyo said OPCON transition should be delayed. Seo’s opinion was based on his assessment that OPCON transition would harm the ROK’s security posture. Park Jie-won, implicitly criticizing the Roh administration, said the ROK’s agreement to OPCON transition during the Roh Administration was based on the assumption of a small group of Koreans that it would be better for USFK to leave Korea. That assumption, he said, does not accurately reflect Korean opinion. Rep. Park Sun-sook said that if OPCON transition did not mean that USFK would be “hands off” in a war on the peninsula, then it should proceed as planned, but very quietly and without publicity. 13.(C) GNP Rep. Hwang Jin-ha was critical of the U.S. delay in ratifying the KORUS FTA. Hwang said ratification of the FTA was strategically important because it would send a signal to the region that the U.S.-ROK alliance was strong. GNP Rep. Cho Yoon-sun said that the lack of action in ratifying the FTA would cast doubt on U.S. commitments beyond the economic sphere. 14.(C) DASD Schiffer told Hwang and Cho that while he understood and appreciated the strategic significance of the FTA, the U.S.-ROK Alliance was more than the FTA and that we should not make the decision to ratify the FTA a proxy for the entire future of the alliance. There were other ways, he said, to also signal the strength of the relationship. 15.(U) DASD Schiffer cleared this message. STEPHENS.


1/28/10:
North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells in the waters north of the NLL in the Yellow Sea near Yeonpyong Island on the peninsula’s west coast today at 8:15 a.m., according to a Defense Ministry official. The shells landed in the waters north of the NLL, the de facto maritime border between North and South Korea. (Lee Min-yong, “North Fires Again toward Yeongpyeong Island,” JoongAng Ilbo, January 28, 2010)

KCNA: “An American was detained for trespassing on the border of the DPRK with China on January 25. He is now under investigation by an organ concerned. (KCNA, “American Trespasser Detained,” January 28, 2010) An American man detained by North Korea after allegedly entering illegally has sought asylum and wants to join its military, Dong-a Ilbo reported. It said an unidentified source in North Korea told the newspaper the 28-year-old man said he came to the country because he did not “want to become a cannon fodder in the capitalist military,” and “wants to serve in the North Korean military” instead. (Associated Press, “Report: Detained American Seeks Asylum in N. Korea,” January 30, 2010)

Q: North Korean coastal artillery has fired continued toward the South Korean territorial coast. And in the meantime, North Korea has proposed United Nations command to resume search for U.S. soldiers’ remains. Can you tell us what North Koreans’ true intentions would be? CROWLEY: As to what North Korea’s intentions may be at any particular time, who knows? We’ve seen provocative actions in the past. We always have concerns about this. As to why they enter into provocative actions at one point, a so-called charm offensive at another point, we don’t know. We don’t know what they’re thinking. We do know what they should be doing, which is to return to the Six-Party process. And through the Six-Party process, there’s the potential to address and resolve any number of issues. First and foremost among them is for North Korea to take affirmative steps towards denuclearization. But as to issues regarding concerns that North Korea may have, obviously we have longstanding issues and have sought cooperation from North Korea over decades to determine the fate of American soldiers from the Korean War. But there’s a great deal of potential here, but North Korea has to take the first step. It has to commit to this process, commit to its prior obligations. With that, lots of other things become possible. But we continue to consult closely with our counterparts in South Korea on the current situation. We remain concerned that – about any provocative actions that North Korea’s been taking and – but we remain adamant that, at this point in time, what North Korea needs to do is commit to come back to the Six-Party process and to meet its obligations. Q: That’s maybe – this is speculation for the true hidden intentions of North Korea is to get a peace treaty with the United States. CROWLEY: I mean, North Korea has a history, when confronted with a straightforward but difficult decision, of taking any number of actions to try to hide the ball. The ball is in their court. What North Korea needs to do is clear. We’ve communicated that directly. Our counterparts in the Six-Party process have sent the same message to North Korea. The fundamental issue remains – what is North Korea prepared to do? Q: I didn’t quite follow your answer when it – regarding her question on the North Koreans’ interest in resuming U.S. participation in the search for remains from the war. Is that something you – I mean, the U.S. unilaterally cut that off a couple of years ago. Are you interested in resuming it, or is it part of the Six-Party — CROWLEY: Well, I think, as we’ve made clear, our foremost interest right now is to get North Korea back into the Six-Party process to address the obligations that they have previously committed to regarding denuclearization. We know there are a large number of issues regarding – in the bilateral context. We think there’s an opportunity to address those inside the Six-Party process once it resumes. From our standpoint, we do have an interest in resolving outstanding MIA cases. In the case of North Korea, it has expressed an interest in pursuing a peace agreement. All of these things are possible. But first and foremost, we need to see North Korea back in the Six-Party process. We think that’s the right framework for any number of issues to be addressed. Q: So it seems like you’re not really interested, at least for the moment, in pursuing the search for MIA remains, that coming back to the Six-Party Talks has to happen first. CROWLEY: We have a lot of bilateral issues. We’re willing to address those bilateral issues. But first and foremost, our concerns are to get North Korea back in the Six-Party process. Q: The previous position was that this was a humanitarian issue and should be separate from the nuclear issue. CROWLEY: I mean, it is. … But right now, our focus is on getting North Korea to roll back its nuclear program. That’s where our emphasis is. We would entertain having a bilateral dialogue on issues of concern to us, issues of concern to them. But at the present time, what we want to see North Korea do is make a commitment back to the Six-Party process. …Q: President Obama talked about stronger sanctions on North Korea last night. Do you have any specific plans for that? CROWLEY: Yeah. Clearly, the fact the President included North Korea in the foreign policy portion of his State of the Union speech, as he did in the context of Iran and our efforts on arms control and nonproliferation, it emphasizes the importance that we attach to this issue. We’ve made engagement with North Korea something – a priority during the course of the past year. We’ve reached out to North Korea. We’ve given them what we think is a compelling rationale for why heeding the will of the international community and understanding the unity with which all of the parties in the Six-Party process attach to this issue. This is in North Korea’s interest. It is in their interest and they have the opportunity – they control their own destiny. They have the opportunity to end their isolation. They have the opportunity to have international cooperation, international support that would result in improved standards of living for their people. All they have to do is to understand that by giving up nuclear weapons, by ending their isolation, that this would be very good for North Korea in the long run. But as to why they continue to hold out, that’s always the $64,000 question and something of a mystery.” (DoS Daily Briefing, Assistant SecState Philip Crowley, January 28, 2010)

ISIS: “The evidence supports that Burma and North Korea have discussed nuclear cooperation, but is not sufficient to establish that North Korea is building nuclear facilities for Burma’s military junta, despite recent reports to the contrary. …Another dimension is whether Burma is helping North Korea obtain items for its nuclear programs. Burma could act as a cooperative transshipment partner for goods ultimately destined for North Korea’s gas centrifuge uranium enrichment program. …Evidence of North Korean/Burmese cooperation includes the reported presence in Burma of officials from Namchongang Trading (NCG), a North Korean trading company that is sanctioned by U.N. Security Council. Syria’s reactor project depended on assistance from NCG. Reports of North Korea selling a reactor to Burma date back to at least 2004, a time when NCG was helping Syria acquire its reactor. According to a 2004 Asia Times article [Arun Bhattacharjee, “India Frets over Yangon-Pyongyang Deal, June 4, 2004], citing Indian intelligence, Burma approached North Korea in November 2002 as a seller of last resort after the military regime failed to acquire a reactor from Russia, China, and India. Russia at the time had signed only a draft reactor sales agreement. India turned down Burma’s request for a reactor in 2000, according to the article, because of India’s view that Burma did not need such a reactor and was concerned about riling the United States which had sanctions on Burma. The Asia Times article makes the additional claim that a reactor deal was signed between Burma and North Korea in early 2004. But all these claims remain unconfirmed. …In June 2009, Japan arrested three individuals for attempting to illegally export a magnetometer to Burma via Malaysia, under the direction of a company associated with illicit procurement for North Korean military programs. Authorities learned subsequently that this group successfully delivered other nuclear dual-use equipment to Burma. The original order for the magnetometer came from the Beijing office of New East International Trading, Ltd., which reportedly operates under the direction of North Korea. The company is headquartered in Hong Kong but also has a Pyongyang office, which is flagged by watch lists of the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) for its involvement in illicit procurement for North Korean military programs. The magnetometer, which is a dual-use instrument that measures magnetic fields, was intercepted before it made its way to Burma. In addition to legitimate commercial uses in archaeological and geophysical sciences, a magnetometer can be employed in making missile control system magnets and gas centrifuge magnets (in magnetizing magnets and measuring strength).This item is controlled under Japan’s “catch-all” regulations, which ban the export of dual-use items for military applications to countries such as North Korea or Burma. Japanese officials seized the item in January 2009 and launched an investigation which later led to the arrests. The three individuals, one of North Korean nationality and two of Japanese nationality, were the heads of three separate Japanese entities: Li Gyeong Ho, a North Korean national was president of the Toko Boeki trading company; Hirohiko Muto was president of Taikyo Sangyo trading company (internet searches indicate this may be a clothing company); and Miaki Katsuki, was president of Riken Denshi Company. Riken Denshi was the manufacturer of the magnetometer. In September 2008, Li Gyeong Ho, under direction of the Beijing office of New East International Trading, asked Muto at Taikyo Sangyo to submit documents to the local customs authorities for the purpose of exporting the device. METI informed the company that an export license was required and the export could not be authorized.At this time, the accused conspired to export the item to Burma via Malaysia without a license. In January 2009, the three conspired to replace the name on the customs documents to that of Riken Denshi and tried to export the item for seven million yen, or about $72,500, without a license from METI. The export was stopped by customs agents in Japan, and METI confirmed the company had not applied for an export license. In February, the premises of Toko Boeki were searched. The individuals were charged with violating Japan’s Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law by attempting to export the magnetometer without a license. The magnetometer was not the only item ordered by New East International Trading for shipment to Burma by Toko Boeki. In August 2008, Toko Boeki exported to Burma two small cylindrical grinders, each valued at 2.5 million yen, or about $28,000, without permission of Japanese authorities; this type of grinder, which was produced by Manba Seisakusho Co. Ltd, can be used to make missile control systems and to grind magnets for gas centrifuges. In November 2008, Toko Boeki exported another cylindrical grinder to Burma. Burma’s Ministry of Industry No. 2 reportedly received the grinders. In November 2009, Li Gyeong Ho of Toko Boeki trading company was found guilty and given a two year suspended sentence and a fine of six million yen (about $67,000). In his ruling, the judge said that all these exports or attempted exports involved “all dangerous equipment used to develop and/or manufacture nuclear weapons.” The judge concluded that there was “thus a risk of greatly affecting the peace and security of Japan and the world.” Although this case implies that North Korea was purchasing dual-use equipment for Burma, the investigation did not confirm whether the items were intended for use in Burma in a missile or nuclear program or for shipment onward to North Korea or another country.” (David Albright, Paul Brannan, Robert Kelly and Andrea Scheel Stricker, “Burma: A Nuclear Wannabe; Suspicious Links to North Korea; High-Tech Procurements and Enigmatic Facilities,” Institute for Science and International Security, January 28, 2010)


1/29/10:
President Lee Myung-bak said in an interview in Davos with the BBC that he is open to a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. “I am prepared to meet Chairman Kim Jong-il at any time,” Lee said. “There is no reason not to meet [him] within this year,” if an appropriate situation emerges that can help establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and resolve the North Korea nuclear issue, he added. “I think the two sides should have dialogue with their minds open to cooperation and reconciliation.” He said, however, a precondition for the summit is that the nuclear issue should be high on the agenda. “President Lee’s remarks were a reiteration of his basic position that an inter-Korean summit is possible anytime if a condition is met,” Lee Dong-kwan, top public relations secretary at Cheong Wa Da explained. The South Korean government’s stance remains firm: no meeting for the sake of meeting and no talks to be used for political and tactical purposes, he stressed. The official said there is “no concrete move currently for an inter-Korean summit,” but such a summit, if held, should produce “substantial and tangible” results to help resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis. North Korea argues that the nuclear crisis is a matter between Pyongyang and Washington. In his first public comment on the North’s latest provocations near a disputed sea border in the Yellow Sea, meanwhile, Lee said, “It is not desirable for North Korea to make this kind of threat.” The president said North Korea, under growing pressure to rejoin the six-party nuclear talks, might be trying to put pressure on South Korea to resume inter-Korean dialogue. “Or, it may be a strategic move aimed at signing a peace treaty,” he said. “North Korea is still using the past strategy of buying time and delaying a resolution to the nuclear issue. But the North’s strategy won’t be accepted by the international community any more.” Lee said Kim’s health seems to have recovered somewhat and the North’s economic difficulty is not new. “We would be prepared for the worst scenario but we do not think the collapse of North Korea is imminent.” (Lee Chi-dong, “Lee Says Inter-Korean Summit Possible This Year under Right Conditions,” Yonhap, January 29, 2010 N. Korea to Rejoin Six-Party Talks,” February 1, 2010)

North Korea fired artillery toward a disputed sea border with its southern neighbor for the third straight day. “There was the sound of about 20 artillery rounds above North Korean waters near Yeonpyeong island,” an official with the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said by telephone. (Jack Kim, “North Korea Fires More Artillery towards South,” Reuters, January 29, 2010)

North Korea lifted a travel ban imposed on Americans, Radio Free Asia reported. Quoting Walter L. Keats, the owner of Asia Pacific Travel, Ltd, based in Illinois, the news report said Americans can now visit North Korea anytime they wish. Until now, American tourists were only granted visas to the repressive regime between August and October. (Korea Times, “N.K. Lifts Travel Ban on Americans,” January 29, 2010)

Dep SecState Steinberg: “From the beginning of the Obama administration, we have made clear that the United States is prepared to engage diplomatically with North Korea, and that we remain committed to the full implementation of all elements of the 2005 Joint Statement, of the Six Party Talks. These include verifiable denuclearization, the establishment of a peace regime, normalization of relations, and economic and energy cooperation. As President Obama said in Seoul – and I quote – ‘Our message is clear. If North Korea is prepared to take concrete and irreversible steps to fulfill its obligation and eliminate its nuclear weapons program, the United States will support economic assistance and help promote its full integration into the community of nations. That opportunity and respect will not come with threats; North Korea must live up to its obligations.’ The President’s words. Pyongyang has expressed a desire to engage, but it has not yet shown that it will take the concrete steps necessary to live up to those obligations. Since agreeing to the 2005 Joint Statement, it has tested two nuclear devices, one in 2006 and one last May, modernized its ballistic missile arsenal, proliferated sensitive technologies and weapons, and engaged in provocative and destabilizing behavior. The international community, and particularly our partners in the Six Party Talks, have responded to these provocations firmly and clearly. Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874 are an important reflection of this determination, and we have taken, together, unprecedented steps to implement them. The new measures include a total ban on arms and related materiel experts from North Korea, and a major expansion of the ban on arms imports; strict financial restrictions and enhance provisions for inspection of suspected transfers of proscribed cargo. Last month, following close consultations between us and our allies and partners, Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy, led a delegation to Pyongyang. There, North Korean officials expressed a willingness, in principle, to resume Six Party Talks, and reaffirmed their commitment to the September, 2005 Joint Statement, including the goal of denuclearization. They did not reach agreement, however, on the specifics of when and how to proceed. Ambassador Bosworth made absolutely clear to the North Koreans that concrete actions through the Six Party Talks, through verifiable denuclearization is the sole path to improved relations that North Korea claims to seek. We believe it’s important that the Six Party Talks resume expeditiously and that North Korea begin to take those irreversible steps to eliminate its nuclear weapons program. In the meantime, neither the United States nor our allies will provide incentives or material benefits for North Korea simply to return to negotiations. The terms of the UN Security Council Resolutions will continue to be enforced. And, our determination to see that enforcement was made clear in the recent seizure of arms and related material from a North Korean charter flight that was transiting Thailand. That incident clearly demonstrated the resolve of the international community in countering the proliferation of destabilizing technologies from North Korea. Meanwhile, we will continue to speak out clearly for the basic human freedoms and dignity to which all North Koreans are entitled. Secretary Clinton’s designation of Bob King as the Special Envoy for Human Rights in North Korea, and his recent travel to South Korea and Japan demonstrate the importance we attach to this issue. Secretary Clinton has described the approach that our administration is taking, in close coordination with our Six Party partners, as one of ‘strategic patience.’ That doesn’t that we’re not doing anything. On the contrary, we are working closely with our allies and partners in the region, to offer North Korea a different future. ‘Strategic patience’ means that North Korea must live up to its commitments and its international obligations. There is a clear path open, through the Six Party Talks and denuclearization, to achieve the security and international respect that North Korea says that it seeks. And, once it returns to the Six Party Talks and begins to make progress on denuclearization, we will all be prepared to discuss, including, where appropriate, in bilateral talks, all of the other elements of negotiation, including, with our South Korean partners, a permanent peace regime for the Korean Peninsula. But, we will not defer the core nuclear issue. As Secretary Clinton has said, current sanctions will not be relaxed until Pyongyang takes verifiable, irreversible steps towards complete denuclearization. Its leaders should be under no illusion that the United States will ever have normal sanctions-free relations with a nuclear-armed North Korea.It’s also clear that our partners in the Six Party Talks share that view. The unity that we’ve seen in the past year, with the unprecedented action by the UN Security Council and cooperative implementation of sanctions has been an important achievement, both for the future of this process and for future cooperation in Northeast Asia, beyond this challenge. That’s something I want to emphasize, that even as we work together on overcoming the very difficult challenge posed by North Korea, we can take advantage of our joint action to build a new capacity for cooperation and collective action in a part of the world that will become more and more important in the years to come. Q: Recently, North Korea demanded a peace treaty with the United States before the Six Party Talks resume, to give up their nuclear weapons. What is the U.S. position on that? And, what does North Korea want? STEINBERG: Let me try to answer the question. I don’t want to try to characterize the North Koreans’ position. I’ll let them characterize their own position. But, I will be happy to characterize ours which is, as I said in my remarks, we believe that there’s an appropriate time and place to discuss the issue of how we replace the armistice, going forward, but the first step is to return to the Six Party Talks and to begin the process of denuclearization. Within that framework, we have a clear path forward to discuss the full range of issues, including the potential for a peace agreement. But as we do so, of course, we will do this in close consultation with our South Korean allies who are, indeed, the principal parties in interest for anything of that sort. So, there is a path forward. Certainly, we accept the fact that there is an appropriate time and place for those discussions to take place. But, it should be very clear to the North Koreans that the way to get there, if that’s their objective, is to return to the Six Party Talks, and to begin the process of implementing their prior commitment, under the 2005 Joint Statement. …Q. South Korean President Lee said he wanted to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il this year. Any comment on this, North-South relations? STEINBERG: We strongly support President Lee and the very clear path that he’s set forward about what is necessary to achieve peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and we have great confidence in our relationship and our close consultations. And I am confident that, whatever form of engagement that the South Korean government chooses, we will do this in close cooperation and that we will do it in a framework we’ve all agreed on, which is that, if North Korea wants to make meaningful progress, it’s going to need to return to the Six Party Talks. And, this strong sense of shared approach is something that I think has characterized our relationships from the first days of our administration. So, we would be very supportive of the measures that President Lee takes, because we know that we’re pursuing a shared goal.” (Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, Woodrow Wilson Center Conference on Peace and Security on the Korean Peninsula,” January 29, 2010)

DeTrani: “So, with that, let me just say what’s the role of – and, certainly, I can tell you this very clearly – the uranium enrichment issue is a front and center issue, and I can tell you very clearly that, although we’ve never accused North Korea of enriching uranium, they’ve now put that on the table, and I can’t imagine anyone saying, ‘We have a verification protocol that speaks to Yongbyon,’ that doesn’t touch uranium enrichment, now that it’s on the table. Now, how do you explain it? That’s the transparency. And, you know, “trust but verify.” And that’s a piece that’s going to be out there. And then, of course, the other piece is proliferation. We cannot have – ‘we,’ the corporate ‘we,’ the international ‘we’ – another Syria, another Syria. And then we get to delivery systems, and I’m talking about nuclear now. When we get to delivery systems. And you know the chores of the people I work for, and my responsibility, working for the DNI and President on this, is to include delivery systems. When you see what North Korea was doing with their delivery systems, what they continue to do with their delivery systems – (inaudible) – and I say they were right, then we just need to – this is why the Six Party Talks need to be reconvened. We need discussions. They need to cease and desist immediately, a moratorium on missile launches. They need to cease and desist on any future nuclear tests. The IAEA needs to be reintroduced to it. And the opportunities need to be there for North Korea. What’s available for them? It’s not one-way. And, let me end on this. The North Koreans always tell us in negotiations, ‘You want us to dismantle, denuclearize. And then you’re prepared to do A, B, C, D, energy assistance, economic, and eventually normalization.’ Nonsense. Nonsense. It was never that way. And, they have the term and we have the term, and the Chinese, ‘actions for actions.’ That may not be the proper approach, but it was always everything would be simultaneous. There would be movement towards denuclearization and there would be movement on the other side, the energy assistance, economic assistance, talking about discussions of peace treaties and so forth. There will be movement on the other side. It wasn’t ‘comprehensive dismantlement and then we’ll talk about it,’ because what the North Koreans said is, ‘Once we dismantle, we’re weak and we have no cards. Why would you expect us to do that?’ And, you know, it sort of makes sense. That’s a card they have. That’s a card they have. And that makes eminent sense. There needs to be trust. There needs to be mutual trust. And then, ultimately, there needs to be normal relations. And, with normal relations will be trust, and that interaction, and the more interaction we have in the interim, as we get there, the better it is. But, there is a lot of work to be done on what’s happening in their country, understanding what’s happening in their country with respect to their nuclear program, with respect to their missile program, with respect to the dynamics within the country itself, because there are a lot of things going on that affect leadership decisions there, and so forth. But, the key is getting back to the Six Party Talks. And, hopefully – and I hate to say this because it’s sort of, almost, a “weak reed” when we keep repeating this, we look to China so often to sort of carry this responsibility, because of their very unique relationship with the DPRK.But trying to convince – and that’s not the right word – China to sort of explain to Kim Jong Il and the leadership in Pyongyang it’s in their interest also to come back to the Six Party Talks, and to move away from the confrontation, because the bottom line is North Korea will not, cannot, should not ever be recognized as a nuclear weapons state. …Q: I’m Bill Smith. I want to start you off with a very provocative question. I haven’t made up my mind on the answer to this question, but I think it needs to be on the table. And that is that it seems to me there are an increasing number of responsible figures, at least in the private sector, who are saying there’s not a – (inaudible) – there’s no realistic chance of non-proliferation succeeding over the long term, so we’d be a lot better off in trying to accept proliferation as a fact of life and manage it, things like transparency, people on the spot trying to monitor the nations that didn’t have them, would be far better than the way we’re going now, including with North Korea. Because, the thing that is the most dangerous in what North Korea is doing is selling them to others. Okay? Non-state actors. Okay? So, as long as you can bottle it up among state actors, you have a much better chance that they won’t be used, than not. So, number one, respond to that in general. But, I mean, at what point would you reassess, as a policy, as either the Six Parties or just the United States, your current track, which is very much focused on maintaining non-proliferation indefinitely? DETRANI: No, I understand the question. I think we’re doing both. I think there’s the counter-measures, the counter-proliferation, side of the ledger, that is a very powerful one. And I think we all see this with the implementation of 1874, where we have all countries, certainly to include China, all countries, committed to ensuring that 1874 is implemented, which is North Korea will not be able to sell or be permitted to sell, or acquire, weapons of mass destruction, delivery systems, and high-end conventional weapons. And, as I mentioned before, the Kanmun One, which was, I guess, going to Myanmar, we just saw the interdiction in Bangkok, and that was using the air domain, the sea domain and so forth, but what we see is these countries are coming together. It’s a commitment, because this is a UN Security Council Resolution. This isn’t the U.S. or the ROK imposing anything; this is the UN Security Council sort of saying, “Member-states, you’re obliged,” and there’s a Sanctions Committee in the UN Security Council that looks at all of these issues and the disposition of those materials that are acquired to states that go onto, let’s say, North Korean vessels and return there. So, one piece of this is being implemented. We’re watching, I think the community’s watching, because sanctions are in play and so forth. Now, will sanctions – I think most people who have seen sanctions say, “Well, sanctions are good for so long and they eventually dissipate and the efficacy is a question mark,” and so forth. Well, then, that’s a historical footnote. So be it. We should learn from that So, if you put something in, it needs to be robust, it needs to be consistent, and we need to stay with it. On the other side of the ledger is what you said. On the other side of the ledger is that the answer to this issue isn’t really just playing defense and so forth; it’s halting that program and reversing that program, and getting them back into a normal relationship and so forth, assuming – and I think that’s the assumption – I don’t think we would ever keep up the Six Party Talks if we didn’t think – and as North Korea talks about 2012 and so forth – that North Korea, the DPRK, would not aspire to [be] a country that’s economically richer, a country that can feed its people, a country that can have international legitimacy, a country that doesn’t have to put their won into satchels because banks wouldn’t deal with them, a country that would not be treated as a pariah, because that’s not right for North Korea. It’s not right for a nation-state like that, a country with that rich history, with that rich culture, and so forth. So, it’s a two-path approach. So, I guess the short answer to your question is, in my job I could never – I could not imagine any government sort of saying, “It’s all just fine. It’s got to be.” It’s got to be preventing, it’s got to be halting, it’s got to be acquiring other ways, as we assure them they can count on that happening, i.e. Syria and some other pieces.” (Ambassador Joe DeTrani, Woodrow Wilson Center Conference on Peace and Security on the Korean Peninsula,” January 29, 2010)


2/1/10:
President Lee’s BBC interview carried a clear and visible message to North Korea regarding inter-Korean summit talks. A closer look at his statements shows some clear differences from previous remarks. The first clear difference is the reference to a time frame. President Lee indicated that if he were to engage in an inter-Korean summit, he would do so within the year. A government official communicated the changed mood within the government in saying, “This year, the atmosphere in the Cheong Wa Dae (the presidential office in South Korea or Blue House) has been one of placing a greater emphasis on inter-Korean relations than on economic issues.” President Lee will also enter the latter half of his term next year. Government officials and inter-Korean relations experts share the understanding that a summit meeting is nearly impossible politically and realistically once a president enters the second half of his or her term. Analysts suggest that North Korea could also be viewed as tacitly agreeing on this score, as it may determine that it does not want to go through a repeat of 2000, when a planned visit by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton failed to take place due to a change in administrations, or the failure to implement the 2007 inter-Korean summit declaration from late in the Roh Moo-hyun administration. President Lee made no reference to POWs or abductees, whose existence North Korea does not acknowledge. Instead, the president said the dialogue would have to be “beneficial.” He also did not take the position that the nuclear issue would have to be on the agenda, opting instead for a generality by saying that the leaders would “have to be able to talk sufficiently.” Finally, and most notably, he shifted from the use of the phrase “if it helps in North Korea’s denuclearization” to the phrase “if it is a situation that can be of help in achieving peace on the Korean Peninsula and solving the North Korea nuclear problem.” While his previous remarks presented a clear precondition for summit talks, the latest statement indicated he would be willing to engage in such talks if a suitable situation was formed and if sufficient discussions were possible. This is a subtle but hugely significant change in stance.(Hankyore, “President Lee Shifts N. Korea Policy Tenor,” January 30, 2010) ) In examining the situation from an insiders perspective, however, the U.S. has left the path to talks for a peace treaty open, as demanded by North Korea, and has also persuaded South Korea to agree to this. In response to the statement issued by North Korea’s Foreign Ministry offering talks between both countries to create a peace treaty, South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan has responded negatively, saying that North Korea has armed itself with nuclear weapons and is seeking recognition as a nuclear power, so a peace treaty would have no meaning. Following Wi’s visit to the U.S., however, Washington and Seoul agreed on a plan to hold talks for a peace treaty once North Korea opens talks over denuclearization. As we have seen in a report by the Japanese Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper on January 25, South Korea, the U.S. and Japan appear to be moving in the direction of presenting a comprehensive proposal that would simultaneously address denuclearization, a peace treaty and economic aid for North Korea if it rejoins six-party talks. The problem, as Unification Minister Hyun In-taek pointed out when he said the ball is in North Korea’s court, lies in the way in which North Korean authorities will view this proposal. Chosun Sinbo, the organ of the pro-North Korea General Association of Korean Residents of Japan, revealed during the secret talks in Singapore that took place last October that North Korea views relations with the U.S. and South Korea as a political development in which the two wheels are connected together. This is not a “talk with the U.S. while isolating South Korea,” but rather a strategy of linking inter-Korean relations and relations with the U.S. In fact, North Korea has not suspended talks with South Korea regardless of the situation, including its notification of working-level talks in Kaesong on Monday. Moreover, North Korea, depending upon the progress in the situation, is considering a major decision that would transform the structure of confrontation on the Korean peninsula. What North Korea put on the negotiating table in January was talks between the parties involved to finalize a peace treaty. If South Korea agrees to this, it means that through a bold decision, denuclearization and an inter-Korean summit would be possible. (Hankyore, “U.S. and S. Korea Seemingly Divide Roles to Persuade N. Korea to Rejoin Six-Party Talks,” February 1, 2010)

North Korea has declared five more “no sail” zones off its coasts effective from 7 am today to 8 pm (1100 GMT) on February 2, raising concerns of possible short-range missile launches days after its artillery barrage, Yonhap reported, quoting military sources. (AFP, N. Korea Declares More ‘No Sail’ Zones,” February 2, 2010)

The divided Koreas began talks on ways to improve their joint factory park in the North, amid rising tension triggered by days of artillery fire by the North near their western maritime border last week, the Unification Ministry said. The South Korean delegation, led by Kim Young-tak, met with its North Korean counterpart at an inter-Korean office for economic cooperation in the border town of Kaesong just north of the heavily armed border, the ministry said in a message to reporters. Some 110 South Korean manufactures employ about 42,000 works at the complex. Kim told reporters that his delegation would press to sideline the pay raise issue and first discuss border restrictions that have slowed South Korean transport and communication in and out of the complex. He said he would also focus on planned construction of a facility to house North Korean workers, a move he said would boost profitability. “We will persuade the North to understand that a mood favorable to discussing the wages will be naturally created” once the border restriction and housing issues are resolved. (Yonhap, “Koreas Begin Talks on Joint Industrial Park,” February 1, 2010) North Korea is expected to demand in talks on Monday that the current minimum wage of US$57.88 per North Korean worker at the Kaesong Industrial Complex should double to some $100, an informed source said. (Chosun Ilbo, “N. Korea May Demand over $100 in Wages,” February 1, 2010) South and North Korea held a fourth round of working-level talks over the operation of a joint industrial complex in the North Monday but failed to narrow their differences. The South Korean delegation, led by Kim Young-tak, met with its North Korean counterpart at an inter-Korean office for economic cooperation in the border town of Kaesong just north of the heavily armed border, the ministry said in a message to reporters. “In a keynote speech, our chief delegate noted the necessity to improve systems regarding telecommunications, customs and immigration,” a UnifMin official said. The South proposed introducing a cross-border passage procedure using radio-frequency identification (RFID) to help employees enter and leave the industrial park at any time, he added. “Under the current system, workers and visitors can only enter the complex at a certain time. If they miss the time, they have to wait several days for another permit,” he said. “So, we suggested the simplified passage procedure under which South Koreans can visit the North at any time.” However, the North insisted that those issues should be dealt with during military talks. The reclusive state proposed having the military talks on Jan. 26 but the South reset the date to Feb. 8. The North has yet to respond to the offer. “North Korea insisted that these working-level talks be centered on the pay hike issue,” the official said. But Pyongyang did not elaborate on the salary increase, he said. (Kim Sue-young, “N.K. demands Wage Hike for Kaesong Workers,” Korea Times, February 1, 2010) North Korea demanded a more than three-fold wage hike for its workers at a joint industrial complex with South Korea when delegates from the sides met there for talks earlier this week, Pyongyang’s official media said February 3.The Unification Ministry in Seoul disputed the report, saying that North Korea did not specify its demand concerning a pay raise during Monday’s talks held in its border town of Kaesong. The monthly wage for a North Korean worker at the Kaesong industrial complex remains just under $58. Citing an interview with an unidentified North Korean negotiator, the official Web site of a North Korean reunification organ, Uriminzokkiri, claimed that its side demanded monthly pay of over US$200 for each North Korean worker. (Yonhap, “N. Korea Wants Sharp Pay Rise for Kaesong Workers: Report,” February 3, 2010)

Rodong Shinmun said Kim expressed “compassion” for the reliance of his people on broken rice, a cheaper, inferior product, in their staple diet. “What I should do now is feed the world’s greatest people with rice and let them eat their fill of bread and noodles. Let us all honor the oath we made before the leader [Kim Il-sung] and help our people feed themselves without having to know broken rice.”The newspaper on January 9 quoted Kim as recalling nation founder Kim Il-sung’s promise of rice and meat soup for all, but adding, “We have not yet fulfilled his wishes.” Prof. Kim Yong-hyun of Dongguk University said, “The North is playing up its economic difficulties in an effort to wheedle aid out of the international community including South Korea.” (Chosun Ilbo, “Kim Jong-il Plays up Food Shortages in N. Korea,” February 2, 2010)

In an attempt to avert a food crisis and stem popular discontent, the North Korean authorities have reportedly bowed to pressure and started lifting market regulations across the country. The decision, which apparently came into force at the start of February, may seem to be an abrupt one, yet it is largely inevitable. A food crisis has seemed to be on the cards for a while, while acts of violence against security officials have been occurring with increasing frequency and discontent among the people has been rising rapidly since the currency redenomination at the end of November. An inside source said, “Since February 1st, in Yangkang and Hamkyung Provinces, jangmadang regulations have been completely lifted. The price of rice, which had been more than 400 won, has now stabilized at between 250 and 300 won.” The source added, “It is a good thing that the jangmadang is open. We were worried about a coming crisis as the rice price has been soaring and we have not been given any wages. That said, the people are watching the authorities’ next move, so they are still reticent to trade.” (Jung Kwon-ho, “Ban on Markets Lifted at Last,” Daily NK, February 3, 2010)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BEIJING 000250:
SUBJECT: PRC/KOREAS: ROK EMBASSY VIEWS ON RECENT DEVELOPMENTS AND TRENDS 1. (C) SUMMARY: North Korea asked China to stop publishing cross-border trade statistics, the South Korean Ministry of Unification (MOU) Counselor in Beijing told Econoffs. The North’s recent currency revaluation probably would work in the short term, but the he assessed the ban on foreign currency would be less effective. China-South Korea economic ties remained strong despite last year’s drop in investment flows. ROK Economic Counselor Myunghee Yoo predicted that the upcoming ROK-PRK-Japan trilateral FTA negotiations would progress very slowly. END SUMMARY. 2. (C) Chinese officials told MOU Counselor Chang-ryul Lee that China Customs Statistics still collects monthly data on China-North Korea trade by product, but began reporting only the total figure in September 2009 at the North’s request to cease publishing. Lee also noted that 49 percent of China’s 2009 exports to North Korea consisted of oil, whereas the bulk of North Korean exports–on the order of 45 percent–were minerals. The pricing structures for these trades are not equal, according to Lee, who said that some of China’s oil exports are considered aid. However, China recently told the North it would receive no more “discounts” on oil, including in the RMB 200 million in aid pledged during Premier Wen Jiabao’s October 2009 trip to Pyongyang, which would not include any oil. The proliferation of unofficial cross-border trade, however, muddied the picture. Lee estimated that almost as much is traded unofficially as is recorded by China customs. 3. (C) On North Korea’s recent currency revaluation and foreign currency ban, Lee said that every family in the North has at least one person working in a market. Within the formal economy, a salaried worker earns an average of NKW 3,000 per month, whereas a person doing business in a market could earn up to NKW 100,000 per month. This disparity caused Pyongyang to fear losing control over the economy, and triggered the recent crackdowns. Lee believed Pyongyang could achieve its short-term goal of restoring control over markets, but that in the long run the country’s economy would suffer. 4. (C) Although people with access to kitchen gardens previously sold their produce in markets, the revaluation has caused all such activity to dry up, continued Lee. First, no one has the money to purchase items at the markets, and second, producers are not willing to grow surplus food to sell under fluctuating economic policies. Everyone has lost trust in the currency and those with goods to buy and sell have reverted to a barter system to conduct business, according to Lee. As for foreign currency, North Koreans were saving it because they knew they would be able to use it later. Lee opined that this willingness to save foreign currency–rather than give it over to the government–would allow North Koreans to continue to purchase some imports, and would in turn support Chinese-North Korean trade. 5. (C) Lee said that Chinese investment into North Korea remained small, mostly because of the unstable investment climate. Chinese companies tend to purchase minerals outright rather than expose themselves to risk by investing in mines. 6. (C) On China-South Korea economic ties, Counsellor Yoo said that although the two countries would conclude their joint study on a free trade agreement (FTA) this year, many unresolved issues would make progress slow, noting that “every chapter is a problem.” At the same time, South Korea’s exports to China have boomed, with the surplus rising to USD 30 billion in mid-December 2009. Yoo said that exports of liquid crystal displays (LCD) and auto parts to China experienced record increases in 2009. Further, although 70 percent of South Korea’s 2008 exports to China were for reprocessing–with only 30 percent remaining in China for end-use–this pattern was changing, and South Korean exports increasingly were staying in China. Concomitant with this rise has been an increase in anti-dumping accusations by the Chinese against South Korea, with one potential case against a chemical company involving USD 2.8 billion in 2009. Yoo expected Beijing to release the preliminary findings on its investigation in February or March 2010 but did not speculate on what the findings would say. 7. (SBU) Although the South Korean won (SKW) has appreciated against the renminbi because of the Chinese currency’s peg tothe dollar, last year’s record surplus forestalled any complaints by the South Koreans. Yoo also noted that, although South Korea’s flow of investment funds to China dropped in 2009, several major deals–including a Samsung-invested LCD factory–were in the works and that 2010 would see a rise in investment flows. 8. (C) South Korea was less concerned about behind-the-border issues such as IPR protection and indigenous innovation requirements in government procurement procedures, according to Yoo. Regarding the new indigenous innovation circular, Yoo said that no Korean companies had raised any complaints with her, but that she did know whether they really understood the implications of the circular. 9. (C) Yoo said that the global financial crisis, which shrank U.S. and EU export markets, not the lack of KORUS ratification, was pushing South Korea–and indeed other Asian countries–to look to their regional partners for increasing market share and economic integration. China hoped to achieve three goals through its FTAs, according to Yoo. First and foremost were its political and diplomatic objectives, which it believed it could further through strong economic ties. Second was its drive to secure natural resources. Third, and lowest on the list, was China’s desire to have developing nations grant market status to China, which it perceived as a status boost. HUNTSMAN


2/2/10:
A group of South Koreans whose family members were abducted by the called on the government not to sweep the issue under the carpet again for the sake of an inter-Korean summit. Choi Sung-yong, the head of Family Assembly Abducted to North Korea, complained in a telephone interview that President Lee Myung-bak, who in a town-hall meeting in November promised not to hold a summit unless the question of South Korean prisoners of war and abduction victims is on the agenda, seems to have changed his mind.

Families of abduction victims supported the Lee administration when it proposed to take up the issue, which the two previous administrations failed to do, Choi noted. “How can the government abruptly omit the abduction issue and stress only the resolution of the nuclear issue?” he said. (Chosun Ilbo, “Abduction Victims’ Families Irate over Inter-Korean Summit,” February 2, 2010)

The North says the United States must agree to hold talks about a peace pact before it returns to six-party nuclear disarmament negotiations that it quit last April, a month before staging a second nuclear test. It also demands that United Nations sanctions be lifted before it comes back. The North “has, again, put a great stumbling block in its path towards denuclearization,” said South Korea’s Unification Minister Hyun In-Taek, referring to the latest demands. “By making such claims that defy the expectations of the international community, it seems to be stepping further away from the denuclearization talks.” Hyun, the chief policymaker on the North, said in a speech, “As North Korea continues to remain unclear about whether it will return to the six-party talks, we cannot stop raising a fundamental question on its commitment to denuclearize itself.” The minister criticized the North’s “repeated provocations” at sea but said North-South relations were nevertheless slowly getting back on track. But on the nuclear issue “we are still stuck in a deep, dark tunnel,” he said in a gloomy assessment. “North Korea, without changing its own stance, is demanding the international community make concessions,” Hyun said, adding it is using its return to the six-party talks as a bargaining chip. “If this continues, we can never be sure when the North Korean nuclear problem will be solved.” (AFP, “South Korea Says North Is Stalling on Nuclear Talks,” February 2, 2010)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 TOKYO 000214 1. (C) During an 80-minute meeting with EAP A/S Campbell February 2 on regional and bilateral issues, Vice Foreign Minister Yabunaka agreed on the need for a continued focus on DPRK denuclearization and cautioned against being distracted by DPRK calls for peace regime discussions; called on the United States and Japan to leverage their alliance to shape China’s choices; and welcomed greater U.S. involvement in regional organizations, including the EAS. Yabunaka also agreed with A/S Campbell on the utility of Japan proposing a vice minister-level U.S.-Japan-China trilat, and said that FM Okada had been invited to travel to Burma in May. VFM Yabunaka said he would try to address budget and timing issues involving former American WWII POWs’ travel to Japan. He also pledged to look into ways to facilitate contact between left behind parents and their children, in addition to efforts to promote Japan’s Hague Convention accession. 2. (C) EAP A/S Kurt Campbell opened his February 2 meeting with Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka by describing the current state of play with the DPRK, including ongoing U.S. efforts to bring North Korea back to the Six Party Talks and the apparent economic impact of UNSCR 1874 implementation. The Assistant Secretary stressed that the United States remained focused on using U.S.-DPRK contacts within Six Party framework to make progress on denuclearization, and that we would not allow the North Koreans to change the focus of discussions from denuclearization to creation of a peace regime. In light of the DPRK’s poor harvest last year and economic distortions caused by the North Korean won’s revaluation, Pyongyang may need external assistance soon. That said, there are no signs — including in North-South contacts — that the North will return to the Six Party Talks anytime soon, A/S Campbell said. Succession issues also remained unclear, he added. 3. (C) VFM Yabunaka welcomed continued U.S. adherence to a policy of strategic patience with the DPRK, and said that any calls for peace regime discussions were a “”trap.” Before any discussions about peace arrangements, the Six Parties needed to fully agree on denuclearization. VFM Yabunaka noted that, in his January 27 meeting with Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Denisov, his Russian counterpart offered the view that 1874 implementation was hurting the DPRK, and that the resultant lack of certain goods in Pyongyang was even having a negative impact on the Russian Embassy’s operations there, “including the embassy’s in-house dental clinic.” “Things in North Korea seemed to be very chaotic,”” Yabunaka said. 4. (C) In response to A/S Campbell’s question about reported DPJ contacts with the North, Yabunaka acknowledged that there had been some speculative reports, and that any feelers were likely through the Chosen Soren (Association of North Korean Residents in Japan). Responding to Asia DG Akitaka Saiki’s query about recent reports of two detained American citizens in North Korea, A/S Campbell provided an update on U.S. actions, including efforts to secure consular access through the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang. Also in response to DG Saiki’s question, ASD Gregson said that future efforts in the area of Fullest Possible Accounting of U.S. servicemen lost during the Korean War would have to take place within the context of overall U.S.-DPRK relations to prevent the North from using this humanitarian effort for other goals. 5. (C) On U.S.-PRC relations, A/S Campbell noted that Chinese domestic political imperatives not to appear weak in dealing with the United States will likely lead to continued ups and downs in the bilateral relationship. The Chinese reaction to the Taiwan arms package was one manifestation of this, and there will likely another negative reaction to the Dalai Lama’s upcoming visit to Washington and senior-level meetings in his capacity as a spiritual leader. Compounding our challenges in the months ahead were personnel changes among those handling the bilateral relationship, including Vice Minister He Yafei’s transfer to Geneva. In spite of possible difficulties ahead, the United States would seek to work closely with China on climate change, cyber-related matters and Iran, among other issues, A/S Campbell said. 6. (C) VFM Yabunaka noted that the U.S.-Japan relationship is key in helping to shape China’s choices, and that the United States and Japan must work closely together to encourage China to pursue “more responsible interactions with the rest of the world.” On Iran, Yabunaka recalled again his conversation with Russian First DFM Denisov, who had said that China would likely approve tougher action through a UNSCR, would insist on IAEA involvement, and would prefer diplomatic over military action. 7. (C) The United States did not see Japan’s relations with the United States and China as zero sum, A/S Campbell said. In fact, Japan’s recently improved relationship with the PRC was positive, and put Japan in a good position to press for a U.S.-Japan-China trilateral meeting. VFM Yabunaka noted that he had discussed this matter with outgoing Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai, and Yabunaka agreed with A/S Campbell that it made sense for Japan to press for a vice minister-level trilateral in the summer. 8. (C) The United States recognizes that it needs to play a greater role in regional organizations, and to that end will soon begin a dialogue with Southeast Asian partners on possible participation in the East Asian Summit, A/S Campbell continued. For the EAS to be effective, however, it needed to be better choreographed with APEC, and this process will take time, A/S Campbell said. A/S Campbell urged Japan, in discussing regional architecture, to continue to avoid “Asia for the Asians” formulations. VFM Yabunaka welcomed possible U.S. participation in the EAS and noted that recent GOJ statements on regional architecture have included a strong call for U.S. involvement. 12. (SBU) USG Participants: Ambassador Roos, A/S Campbell. ASD Gregson. DCM Zumwalt, EAP Special Advisor Nirav Patel, EAP/J Director Kevin Maher, OSD Senior Country Director for Japan Suzanne Basalla,Embassy Tokyo Political Deputy Marc Knapper. MOFA Participants: VFM Mitoji Yabunaka, Foreign Policy Bureau DG Koro Bessho, Asia DG Akitaka Saiki, North America DG Umemoto, Embassy of Japan Political Minister Takeo Akiba, North America 1 Director Tomoyuki Yoshida, Security Treaty Director Funakoshi, North American Deputy Director Hideaki Konayaga. ROOS


2/3/10:
President Obama announced that he would not put North Korea back on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, after a classified study determined that the country “does not meet the statutory criteria” for that designation. (New York Times, “U.S. Keeps North Korea off Terror List,” February 4, 2010, p. A-8)

WikiLeaks cable: Monday, 22 February 2010, 08:54

C O N F I D E N T I A L SEOUL 000290

SIPDIS

EO 12958 DECL: 02/23/2030

TAGS PREL, PGOV, SOCI, MARR, ECON, ETRD, KN, KS, CH

SUBJECT: A/S CAMPBELL’S FEBRUARY 3 MEETING WITH NSA KIM

Classified By: Ambassador D. Kathleen Stephens. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).

Summary

In discussions with American officials, South Korea’s National Security Adviser Kim Sung-hwan points to growing instability inside North Korea,including reports of possible armed resistance to the regime. Key passage highlighted in yellow.

Summary

  1. (C) During a February 3 meeting, National Security Adviser Kim Sung-hwan told EAP Assistant Secretary Campbell the ROKG wished to have discussions with Washington about delaying the planned transfer of wartime operation control to Korea. Kim agreed that turbulence in Sino-American relations meant Beijing would be hesitant to call a new round of the Six Party Talks. It was encouraging, however, that veteran DPRK negotiator Kim Gye-gwan was slated to visit Beijing next week. NSA Kim asserted that Kim Jong-il needed to visit China soon in order to get more economic assistance, as the DPRK’s internal situation appeared to be significantly more unstable. NSA Kim acknowledged it was important to reach out directly to key DPJ officials like Foreign Minister Okada and Finance Minister Kan. The North Koreans, Kim said, were clearly using several different channels to “knock on the DPJ’s door.” President Lee may visit a Korean factory in the United States to help sell KORUS to the American public. Kim suggested that President Obama and President Lee pay a joint visit to the Korean War Memorial in Washington to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War. Campbell asked for ROK understanding for U.S. plans to resume MIA remains recovery operations in North Korea. Kim emphasized that President Lee would never “buy” a summit with Pyongyang. End summary.

OPCON Transfer

  1. (C) During a February 3 meeting with Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell, ROK National Security Adviser Kim Sung-hwan said he wished to have discussions with the USG on the planned April 2012 transfer of wartime operation control (OPCON) to Korea. Kim agreed with Campbell’s observation that it was important for the Korean public to understand that any change that may be considered concerning OPCON transfer timing, and the U.S. Quadrennial Defense Review, would not diminish America’s commitment to the ROK’s security, and should not be so interpreted. China Unlikely to Call New 6PT Round
  2. (C) NSA Kim agreed with Campbell’s observation that the current turbulence in Sino-American relations meant Beijing would be hesitant to call a new round of the Six Party Talks (6PT) anytime soon. Referring to POTUS’ upcoming meeting with the Dalai Lama, Kim said the Chinese were “far too sensitive” about the Tibetan spiritual leader’s meetings with foreign officials. A few years ago, Kim related, the PRC had crudely pressured the ROK government into canceling a planned speech by the Dalai Lama at a Buddhist conference on Cheju Island.
  3. (C) NSA Kim said he was encouraged by reports that veteran DPRK negotiator Kim Gye-gwan was slated to visit Beijing next week at the invitation of Chinese 6PT chief Wu Dawei. NSA Kim said he understood Kim Gye-gwan might also visit New York. Campbell noted it was important for the DPRK authorities to hear from the Five Parties that Pyongyang’s attempt to shift the focus from denuclearization to a peace treaty was not working.

KJI China Trip and Deteriorating Conditions Inside DPRK

  1. (C) NSA Kim asserted that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il needed to visit China soon in order to get more economic assistance. The PRC was in the process of delivering a portion of the food aid promised during Premier Wen’s visit to the DPRK last fall; approximately 6,000 metric tons (MT) of rice and 20,000 MT of soybeans has been delivered, but the DPRK needed a lot more. The situation inside North Korea, he added, appeared increasingly unstable. The North’s currency replacement had created strong resentment throughout DPRK society, Kim said, adding that DPRK Finance Chief Pak Nam-gi had apparently been sacked. Kim asserted there were credible reports of unrest in the North; according to ROK intelligence sources, DPRK police recently found a bomb on a passenger train en route from Pyongyang to Beijing.

U.S.-Japan Relations

  1. (C) Kim concurred with Campbell’s assessment that the DPJ was “completely different” from the LDP and agreed it was important for the DJP to coordinate with Seoul and Washington as it made preliminary overtures to Pyongyang. The North Koreans, Kim said, were clearly using several different channels to “knock on the DPJ’s door.” Kim acknowledged Campbell’s point that it was important to reach out directly to key DPJ officials like Foreign Minister Okada and Finance Minister Naoto Kan.

FTA Prospects

  1. (C) It was the ROK government’s view, Kim said, that there might be a window of opportunity to pass KORUS immediately after the U.S. Congressional elections this fall. Kim added that the ROK Embassy in Washington was working on a possible FTA event for President Lee during his upcoming trip to the United States for the nuclear summit. One idea, Kim explained, was to have President Lee visit a Korean factory to help underscore to the American public that the FTA was about creating jobs in America as well in Korea. Campbell praised ROK Ambassador Han Duck-soo for his public outreach on KORUS and noted that the U.S. business community needed to “stop being lazy” and help get KORUS through Congress.

Korean War Memorial Visit

  1. (C) NSA Kim asked if, during the April nuclear summit in Washington, it would be possible to have POTUS and President Lee pay a joint visit to the Korean War Memorial. Campbell acknowledged the powerful symbolism for both the Korean and American audience of such a visit during the 60th anniversary of the Korean War, but cautioned that it would be extremely difficult to arrange during the nuclear summit.

MIA Remains Recovery in North Korea

  1. (C) Campbell asked for ROK understanding about the U.S. position on resuming MIA remains recovery operations in North Korea. The USG felt strongly, Campbell explained, that this was an important humanitarian issue. Campbell stressed that the U.S. would coordinate closely with the ROK on the issue to “avoid sending the wrong signal” to the DPRK. Pressed by Kim about paying the North Koreans cash to help recover U.S. remains, Campbell agreed it was distasteful; he noted, however, that the United States had made similar payments to the Burmese and Vietnamese governments to facilitate cooperation on MIA issues.

Prospects for a North-South Summit

  1. (C) On prospects for a North-South summit, NSA Kim clarified remarks that President Lee made in an interview with the BBC in Davos. Kim said that, beginning last fall, the ROK has had contact with the DPRK about a summit. The North, however, has demanded that Seoul provide a certain amount of economic aid prior to any summit. That precondition was unacceptable, Kim stressed, noting that the Blue House had emphasized to the ROK press this week that President Lee would never “buy” a summit with the North. STEPHENS

C O N F I D E N T I A L SEOUL 000254 SUBJECT: A/S CAMPBELL’S FEBRUARY 4 MEETINGS WITH FM YU AND AMBASSADOR WI SUNG-LAC … 3. (C) Yu agreed with Campbell’s observation that the current tensions in Sino-American relations meant Beijing would not be forward-leaning about calling a new round of the Six Party Talks (6PT). Yu stressed that China needed to do more to help get the talks back on track; it was Beijing’s responsibility, he said, to get Pyongyang back to the 6PT. 5. (C) Yu said that during his February 26 working lunch with the Secretary he may raise the issue of delaying the planned April 2012 transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) from the United States to Korea. The majority of conservatives in the ROK felt “uneasy” about the transfer given continued provocations from North Korea. We need to talk about the OPCON issue more frankly, Yu said, stressing that the two sides needed to “calm public concerns.” Yu asserted that OPCON transfer needed to be linked more closely with USFK’s move from Seoul to Pyongtaek, which was slated to happen by 2016; perhaps a one or two year delay in the transfer of OPCON would be appropriate, Yu added. Campbell stressed that the United States was prepared to listen to Korean concerns about the issue. He said the strongest U.S. bilateral relationship in Asia is with the ROK, and the USG would do nothing to harm it. Meeting with Ambassador Wi 6. (C) Prior to the discussion with FM Yu, Campbell met with ROK Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Wi Sung-lac. Wi downplayed press speculation that a North-South summit was imminent. It was clear, Wi said, that Pyongyang still viewed Washington, not Seoul, as its main “channel” for dialogue. In addition, Wi stressed, now was not the time to show any flexibility on peace regime discussions with the North; the focus needed to be on denuclearization. Campbell said the U.S. was in complete agreement, noting that the “toughest North Korea desk officer in Washington is President Obama.” 7. (C) Wi cautioned that the Chinese may be preparing to raise the issue of easing UN sanctions on North Korea. Campbell agreed with Wi’s observation that Seoul and Washington had to be united against this Chinese approach. Moreover, Wi said, a case involving suspected torpedo testing equipment had raised fresh ROK concerns about the PRC’s willingness to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1874. STEPHENS

WikiLeaks cable: Thursday, 18 February 2010, 04:57

C O N F I D E N T I A L SEOUL 000248

SIPDIS

EO 12958 DECL: 02/18/2035

TAGS PREL, PHUM, PGOV, SOCI, KN, KS, CH

SUBJECT: A/S CAMPBELL DISCUSSES DPRK FUTURE WITH EXPERTS

Classified By: AMB D. Kathleen Stephens. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).

Summary

Kurt Campbell, the senior US diplomat for east Asia, seeks the views of five regional experts on North Korea. If they agree on anything at all, it is that the situation in the DPRK is totally unpredictable and the succession process could yet turn violent. Key passage highlighted in yellow.

SUMMARY

  1. (C) A group of five ROK opinion leaders and experts on North Korea issues told A/S Kurt Campbell on February 3 it was difficult to predict whether Kim Jong-il‘s youngest son Kim Jong-un would be able to succeed his father without sparking instability in the North. Of the five experts, one thought the younger Kim might succeed and one argued his lack of leadership experience made it unlikely he would win the support of the ruling elites. They agreed that Kim Jong-il’s brother-in-law Jang Song-taek would prove a strong rival for the younger Kim and would probably be tempted to challenge him. Kim Jong-il had used draconian controls and international aid to discourage coups after having foiled three such attempts in the late 90s. China‘s strategic interests were fundamentally at odds with U.S.-ROK interests in North Korea. End Summary. Succession in Progress
  2. (C) Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell met on February 3 with Korean opinion leaders with a keen interest in DPRK issues to hear their views on the future of North Korea. The experts agreed that regime succession was fully underway and that the North Korean people had accepted the process. XXXXXXXXXXX said a North Korean diplomat based in Beijing had told him over the phone that morning that the DPRK Foreign Ministry had instructed all of its overseas missions to “lay the foundation for leadership change in Pyongyang.” Most of the experts believed the challenge for Kim Jong-il’s youngest son and designated heir, Kim Jong-un, would most likely come after his father died. XXXXXXXXXXX recalled the Chosun Dynasty’s 500 year history in which political intrigue and tension might simmer for years, but tended to erupt only after the king died. 3. (C) The group agreed that Kim Jong-il’s brother-in-law and right-hand man Jang Song-taek was spearheading the succession drive and would be a rival for power once Kim Jong-un’s father died, but the group was split on the younger Kim’s prospects for holding onto power. XXXXXXXXXXX believed it would be difficult for Jang to wrest power from the younger Kim once the succession process was complete. XXXXXXXXXXX suggested it was unclear whether Jang would be content to control the younger Kim from behind the curtain, or would challenge him directly for outright control. XXXXXXXXXXX

Doubts About Younger Kim’s Experience

  1. (C) There were many reasons to doubt that Kim Jong-un would be able to successfully fend off challenges to his control after his father died. XXXXXXXXXXX noted that Kim Jong-il had twenty years of experience as an official of the Korean Workers’ Party before his father died. Furthermore, Kim Jong-il had the benefit of years of guidance from his father after he had been officially anointed in 1980 to eventually succeed him. By contrast, Kim Jong-un had very limited experience and might not get much direct guidance before Kim Jong-il dies. Even now, XXXXXXXXXXX it was not clear that Kim Jong-il’s health was good enough to exercise the faculties necessary for day-to-day management of state affairs. Given the limited opportunity the younger Kim had to gain experience, XXXXXXXXXXX doubted his ability to solidify his position in the Party and win the unwavering support of Pyongyang’s power elites. XXXXXXXXXXX recalled the tumultuous state of affairs in the ROK following the death of President Park Chung Hee in 1979 and suggested the DPRK succession would be “100 times more troublesome.” XXXXXXXXXXX

Tight Control and Aid Kept Regime Afloat

  1. (C) XXXXXXXXXXX opined that brutal repression and international aid had been the secrets of Kim Jong-il’s ability to fend off challenges. After three separate coup attempts in the 90s, Kim Jong-il had implemented very strict controls and sent a stern warning to would-be plotters by executing anyone who had been even remotely involved in the plots. Therefore, only the military could even dare consider rising up, but the Security Services had successfully kept the military in check. XXXXXXXXXXXwent on to suggest that the “indulgence” of the international community over the past ten years had also helped sustain the regime. The large-scale assistance provided to the regime by the ROK, China, the U.S., Japan and others had been intended in part to avoid a hard landing, and indeed had kept the regime afloat, he said. [Name removed] suggested that North Korea had skillfully played Washington and Beijing off one another.XXXXXXXXXXX believed that the DPRK had exploited large amounts of assistance from China, taking advantage of a situation in which Beijing was presumed by Washington to have significant influence over Pyongyang. China Complicates the Endgame
  2. (C) The experts agreed that China’s obsession with DPRK stability at all costs, was clearly and fundamentally at odds with U.S. and ROK interests. Given a choice between reaching out to Seoul or Beijing, [name removed] believed that Pyongyang elites would reflexively look to China for support if they believed they needed help in maintaining stability. The Seoul option would be unacceptable because of the U.S.-ROK alliance and concerns over becoming subservient to Seoul. China, on the other hand, would gladly provide support with few or no strings attached, just to maintain the DPRK as an independent entity, XXXXXXXXXXX maintained.
  3. (C)XXXXXXXXXXXnoted that although Washington had a keen interest in both denuclearization and human rights, the U.S. stake in North Korea was minimal compared to that of China by virtue of its proximity to the North. China did not share American perspectives on these two key issues, considering them somewhat abstract. Rather, Beijing was concerned about what it considered to be more concrete issues, such as a potential flood of “economic migrants” and broader social unrest on its immediate border. Reaching the People and Close Cooperation are Key
  4. (C) Negating Chinese influence over the long term, [Name removed] observed, would involve close U.S.-ROK cooperation in winning the hearts and minds of the North Korean people. XXXXXXXXXXX STEPHENS

C O N F I D E N T I A L SEOUL 000187 02/08/2009 SUBJECT: A/S CAMPBELL’S FEBRUARY 3 MEETING WITH ROK DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER LEE YONG-JOON 1. (C) During a February 3 meeting with EAP Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell, Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Yong-joon dismissed ROK press speculation that a North-South summit was imminent. Lee related that veteran DPRK Six-Party Talks negotiator Kim Gye-gwan would visit China week of ebruary 8, and speculated Kim Jong-il would go to the PRC in March. Lee, who had just returned from Beijing, said he and his Japanese and Chinese counterparts agreed to establish a trilateral secretariat in Seoul next year; Lee would consult with his counterparts on U.S. participation as an observer. The DFM reassured Campbell that the ROKG remained committed to establishing a PRT in Afghanistan by July. Lee hoped the USG would “take into consideration” the overall security situation on the Korean peninsula as the date for OPCON transfer to Korea drew nearer. According to Lee, the Joint Environmental Assessment Procedure (JEAP) was instrumental in the smooth implementation of the Camp Hialeah return; the ROKG hoped to use it for future base returns. Lee claimed that open-ended strategic flexibility “jeopardized” an important aspect of ROK security: a strong U.S. military presence on the peninsula. The ROKG’s preference is that this year’s “2 plus 2” meeting (between Secretaries Clinton and Gates and their ROK counterparts) be held in Seoul during the first half of the year. End Summary. 2. (C) During a February 3 meeting with EAP Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell, Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Yong-joon dismissed press speculation that a North-South summit is imminent. Lee stressed that if a summit happened, the North Korean nuclear issue would be a key element. 3. (C) Lee, who had just returned from Beijing, related that veteran DPRK Six-Party Talks negotiator Kim Gye-gwan would visit China the week of February 8. Lee said that, according to his PRC interlocutors, Kim accepted the invitation only after intense Chinese lobbying. Lee speculated that a trip by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to the PRC would occur in March. …9. (C) When the ROK agreed to the principles of strategic flexibility in 2006, it had not agreed to “open-ended” strategic flexibility, Lee said. The open-ended arrangement, which allowed U.S. troops based in Korea to be deployed elsewhere, “jeopardized” an important aspect of ROK security: a strong U.S. military presence on the peninsula. Lee suggested that bilateral consultations should be held to determine a guaranteed minimum level of U.S. military presence in South Korea, in the context of strategic flexibility. 10. (C) The deputy foreign minister said it was the ROKG’s preference that this year’s 2 plus 2 meeting (between Secretaries Clinton and Gates and their ROK counterparts) be held in Seoul during the first half of 2010. Lee added that it would be useful to hold annual or biennial “2 plus 2” meetings at the Assistant Secretary level. Such consultations could cover issues like strategic flexibility, OPCON transfer, instability planning, and other Alliance issues. STEPHENS

Rodong Sinmun signed article: “How to approach the June 15 joint declaration and the October 4 declaration serves as a barometer to distinguish the harmony between the north and the south from confrontation and reunification from division. …The inter-Korean relations should be developed by the concerted efforts of the Koreans on the basis of the declarations under any circumstances. If the south Korean authorities persist in kicking up the racket of confrontation in league with foreign forces while denying the June 15 joint declaration, the inter-Korean relations will never be improved. Those who struggle for the implementation of the above-said declarations are patriots at present whereas those who negate them are anti-reunification elements. Whoever truly wants the reunification and prosperity of the country should respect the inter-Korean declarations and sincerely implement them. One should not rely on foreign forces but take the stand of national independence and settle the issue of inter-Korean relations on the principle of ‘by our nation itself.’ The south Korean authorities should meet the desire of the fellow countrymen and the need of the era for improving the inter-Korean relations and bringing about a landmark turn in national reunification as indicated by the declarations, concludes the article.” (KCNA, “Implementation of Inter-Korean Declarations Called for,” February 3, 2010)

Orascom, the Egypt-based telecoms group, says its subsidiary in North Korea, Koryolink, has acquired 100,000 subscribers in its first year and expects to add millions more to its 3G network in the next five years though it declined to put a number on it. We see that there is a very big plan for an economic boom,” said Khaled Bichara, chief executive of Orascom. “They are really looking to have, by 2012, a much stronger economy. We believe that mobiles and eventually international communication will definitely be part of this.” Koryolink, a pre-pay system, has been available in Pyongyang and Nampo, the capital’s port, since December 2008. To help expand the network from there, Bichara said North Korea was laying fiber-optic cables in the provinces. Its key focus is on natural resources. Irish oil company Aminex says it was “warmly received” in Pyongyang last November and was assured that stalled exploration would likely restart. Colin McAskill, executive chairman of London-based financial adviser Koryo Asia, says the North Koreans are keen for him to start investment in projects to process minerals domestically. This will help Pyongyang add value to exports. Pyongyang is also seeking investors to work on the Taedonggang brewery, a plant it bought and shipped from Britain a decade ago. In February, a North Korean trade delegation is due to visit Europe, according to Paul Tjia, a Dutch consultant who is organizing a European business delegation to Pyongyang in May. He hopes to take 10 to 15 potential investors. Tjia, founder of GPI Consultancy, says European companies have been using North Korea’s low-cost IT outsourcing sector to design web sites and software for administration, mobile phones and computer games.“It is a surprising fact but the level of IT knowledge is high and they are very aware of the latest software. North Korea has put a lot of effort into IT development, training and technical universities,” he says. European studios are also known to be outsourcing the illustration of cartoons to North Korea, he adds. (Heba Saleh and Christian Oliver, “N. Korea Operator Looks to Millions of 3G Users,” Financial Times, February 3, 2010, p. 22)

The North Korean regime apparently sacked the Workers’ Party’s Finance Director Pak Nam-gi, letting him take the fall for the failed currency reform late last year. Pak was appointed finance director in July 2007 to oversee North Korea’s economic policies and has spent the past few years trying to root out a nascent market economy. “Right now, North Korean officials are busy blaming each other for the failed currency reform and Pak, who spearheaded the revaluation, is believed to have been sacked,” said a diplomatic source in Beijing. “Markets have come to a grinding halt following the currency revaluation and prices have soared,” the source said. It seems North Korea hoped to stabilize prices through the currency reform and then credit the achievement to Kim Jong-il’s third son and heir apparent Jong-un to consolidate his grip on power, but this flopped, the source added. Some North Korea watchers in China predict that the regime may perform a U-turn back to timid market reforms now that Pak, who led the crusade against capitalism, has been fired. One North Korea expert in Beijing said, “There is a strong possibility that high-ranking North Korean officials who led the drive to crush market forces since 2004 will be removed from office, while policies will shift toward market reforms starting in the second half of this year.” (Chosun Ilbo, “N. Korean Finance Chief Sacked over Currency Reform,” February 3, 2010)

Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said his country will not improve ties with North Korea or work to remove U.N.-imposed sanctions until the communist nation returns to six-way negotiations aimed at ending its nuclear weapons programs. He also said the United States will oppose the start of any discussions for a peace treaty with North Korea, until Pyongyang first returns to the nuclear talks and moves toward denuclearization. Campbell said the U.S. welcomes Seoul’s efforts reach out to the North, but again stressed the very next step for the countries to take was to resume the six-party talks. “We think an improvement of relations between the North and the South can be a critical component of that and we welcome efforts by the South Korean president to reach across the divide to North Korea,” he told reporters shortly after a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Deputy Foreign Minister Lee Yong-joon. “We need to see North Korea accepting and recommitting to the steps they took in 2005 and 2007. Until those steps are taken, the Unites States will not be prepared either to ease sanctions nor begin discussions on other issues like (the) establishment of a peace regime,” Campbell said, referring to six-party accords signed in those years, under which North Korea agreed in principle to denuclearize. “However, once North Korea comes back to the six-party talks and recommits to their statements and positions of 2005 and 2007, then it will be possible to conduct bilateral discussions on a range of issues and also to think about next steps in terms of other matters associated with the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” he said in the earlier meeting with journalists. (Byun Duk-kun, “Campbell Says U.S. Will Not Improve Ties with N. Korea before 6-Way Talks,” Yonhap, February 3, 2010) Kim Jong-il has only three years to live based on all medical information compiled so far, Campbell told South Korean officials in a closed-door meeting, sources said. Campbell invited three North Korean defectors, Liberty Forward Party lawmaker Park Sun-young, Democratic Party leader Jang Sang and Daily NK publisher Han Ki-hong to the U.S. embassy last month to discuss the political situation in North Korea and the prospects of dynastic succession there. U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Kathleen Stephens was also present. Campbell asked participants how long they thought the North Korean leader has to live. One forecast five years, while another predicted less than that. Campbell added his own prediction of less than five years, saying that based on all medical information available it may be three years. One of the participants at the meeting said U.S. agents gathered information about Jong-un’s personality and intellectual capacity by interviewing teachers at the Swiss international school he had attended. Participants predicted a smooth transfer of power from father to son, saying major uncertainties await the North anywhere between two to five years after the handover. (Chosun Ilbo, “Kim Jong-il ‘Has 3 Years to Live,’” March 17, 2010)

WikiLeaks cable: “C O N F I D E N T I A L SEOUL 000254 2/18/10SUBJECT: A/S CAMPBELL’S FEBRUARY 4 MEETINGS WITH FM YU AND AMBASSADOR WI SUNG-LAC 1. (C) During a February 4 meeting with EAP A/S Kurt Campbell, ROK Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan noted that ROK civil society organizations and private citizens had donated nearly 10 million USD to the earthquake relief effort. Campbell praised the ROK’s Haiti response and noted that strategic bilateral consultations should include discussion of how the United States can support President Lee’s “Global Korea” vision. Yu agreed with Campbell’s observation that current tensions in Sino-American relations meant Beijing would not be forward-leaning about convening a new round of the Six Party Talks. Yu called for Presidents Lee and Obama to make short joint visit to the Korean War Memorial during the April nuclear summit in Washington. Yu said that during his upcoming working lunch with the Secretary he may raise the issue of delaying the planned April 2012 transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) from the United States to Korea. In a separate discussion, ROK Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Wi Sung-lac told Campbell that a North-South summit was not imminent. Wi cautioned that the Chinese may be preparing to raise the issue of easing UN sanctions on North Korea. End summary. ….3. (C) Yu agreed with Campbell’s observation that the current tensions in Sino-American relations meant Beijing would not be forward-leaning about calling a new round of the Six Party Talks (6PT). Yu stressed that China needed to do more to help get the talks back on track; it was Beijing’s responsibility, he said, to get Pyongyang back to the 6PT. …5. (C) Yu said that during his February 26 working lunch with the Secretary he may raise the issue of delaying the planned April 2012 transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) from the United States to Korea. The majority of conservatives in the ROK felt “uneasy” about the transfer given continued provocations from North Korea. We need to talk about the OPCON issue more frankly, Yu said, stressing that the two sides needed to “calm public concerns.” Yu asserted that OPCON transfer needed to be linked more closely with USFK’s move from Seoul to Pyongtaek, which was slated to happen by 2016; perhaps a one or two year delay in the transfer of OPCON would be appropriate, Yu added. Campbell stressed that the United States was prepared to listen to Korean concerns about the issue. He said the strongest U.S. bilateral relationship in Asia is with the ROK, and the USG would do nothing to harm it. 6. (C) Prior to the discussion with FM Yu, Campbell met with ROK Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Wi Sung-lac. Wi downplayed press speculation that a North-South summit was imminent. It was clear, Wi said, that Pyongyang still viewed Washington, not Seoul, as its main “channel” for dialogue. In addition, Wi stressed, now was not the time to show any flexibility on peace regime discussions with the North; the focus needed to be on denuclearization. Campbell said the U.S. was in complete agreement, noting that the “toughest North Korea desk officer in Washington is President Obama.” 7. (C) Wi cautioned that the Chinese may be preparing to raise the issue of easing UN sanctions on North Korea. Campbell agreed with Wi’s observation that Seoul and Washington had to be united against this Chinese approach. Moreover, Wi said, a case involving suspected torpedo testing equipment had raised fresh ROK concerns about the PRC’s willingness to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1874. STEPHENS”

Additional U.S. ground forces may not be able to arrive in South Korea in time in case of an emergency situation in North Korea due to America’s heavy commitment in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We could not get the Army units required for South Korea into South Korea on the time line required by the plan,” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee. “That’s not to say they wouldn’t get there. It’s just that they wouldn’t get there as quickly because of the commitments that we have in Iraq and Afghanistan. And so certainly initially we would be especially dependent on the Navy and the Air Force.” The United States, however, will be able to send extra ground troops to Korea in time after the completion of the proposed drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq in 2011, Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said. “I would only add that, as you look at the time line that you just described — end of ’11, Army’s out of — we’re out of Iraq — it’s the beginning of reset, really, for the Army in terms of equipment and actually training,” Mullen said. “Ideally, probably a year or two before we’re well into that, to be able to do it … on a time line we choose.” (Hwang Doo-hyong, “Extra U.S. Troops Not Likely to Arrive in Time in Case of N.K. Crisis: Gates,” February 3, 2010)


2/4/10:
Both South and North Korea have put “all cards” on the table when it comes to conditions for another round of summit talks, a senior South Korean government official said. “That is why we say the ball is in North Korea’s court.” It is now Pyongyang’s turn to make a strategic decision. “South and North Korea have already shown all cards. There were some differences on the conditions. The North asked for food aid in advance,” the official told Yonhap. “We have lowered our demands… Now, it is up to North Korea. I think it is not impossible for North Korea to accept our demands. If it does, things will go easier and faster than expected.” He did not provide details. The official admitted that South and North Korea had “intensive discussions” on the terms of a summit last year but failed to reach a consensus. “Our position is clear: We are ready to go for an inter-Korean summit but our three main demands should be met,” he said. The South wants to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue and the fate of South Korean abductees and prisoners of war still in the reclusive communist neighbor. He said what South Korea wants from North Korea regarding the nuclear issue depends on when the summit will take place. “If it is held before the resumption of the six-way (nuclear) talks, our accomplishments will include securing North Korea’s promise to return to the talks,” he said. “Anyway, South Korea will put forward the Grand Bargain proposal.” He said, “What is important is to make North Korea officially acknowledge that South Korea is a directly related party in terms of this nuclear crisis and it should be discussed bilaterally (between South and North Korea) as well as multilaterally.” The ongoing trip by a top presidential aide to Washington is not directly associated with a possible inter-Korean summit, Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Park Sun-kyoo told reporters.“Kim Tae-hyo, secretary for national security strategy, is visiting the U.S. for regular consultations on general issues of mutual interest between Cheong Wa Dae and the White House (but they are) not intended to talk about a specific issue.” (Lee Chi-dong, “Korea Showed ‘All Cards” and Now Ball Is in Pyongyang’s Court: Official,” Yonhap, February 4, 2010)

“The five parties hold the oxygen mask for North Korea,” Vice FM Chun Yung-woo said in a speech at a forum in Seoul. Chun described as “enormous.” the influence of U.N. arms and trade sanctions toughened against Pyongyang when the country went ahead with its second nuclear test in May last year. “If we give (North Korea) no other choice but denuclearization or the end of the regime, there is a chance of progress in denuclearization,” Chun said, speaking in English. “When they are convinced their nuclear ambition is not [an] insurance policy for survival but that’s the shortcut to their demise, they will be more willing to cooperate in denuclearization,” he said. Describing North Korea as “desperate enough to show interest” in resumption of the six-party talks, Chun said he is “cautiously optimistic” that the North will return to the negotiations, but said the state would drag its heels in giving up its nuclear weapons programs. “Once they come to the six-party talks, they may wish to wait as much time as possible on other issues than the central issue of denuclearization.” He said, “They will play petty games,” suggesting the North Korean demand for a peace treaty is designed to dilute the focus on nuclear arms development. “The timing is not important. What is important is with what intentions North Korea comes back when it does,” he said. Chun said the chance of success in denuclearizing North Korea is “extremely slim, close to zero,” but opposed the view that it is an illusion. “I do not agree with those who argue that this is intrinsically and fundamentally impossible,” he said. (Yonhap, “Negotiating Partners Hold N. Korea’s ‘Oxygen Mask’: S. Korean Diplomat,” February 4, 2010)

WikiLeaks cable: “UNCLAS SEOUL 000255 2/18/10 SUBJECT: NGOS CALL FOR GREATER ENGAGEMENT WITH NORTH KOREA 2. (U) The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University held a major North Korea human rights conference February 4-5 in Seoul. The event was well-attended, drawing more than 200 participants from South Korean and foreign government ministries, embassies, donor agencies, foundations, and NGOs. In remarks at the beginning of the conference, Ambassador Stephens highlighted the USG commitment’s to democracy, development, and human rights in the DPRK and the importance of USG partnerships with North Korea-focused NGOs. She reviewed the USG’s current initiatives, including the International Visitors’ Program (IVLP), DRL funding for human rights NGOs and radio broadcasts into the DPRK, and the recent selection of Dr. Lee Ae-ran for an International Woman of Courage award. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues Bob King’s congratulatory remarks were read by an NED official. Other VIP participants included National Assembly Speaker Kim Hyung-o, MOFAT Vice-Minister and former lead negotiator for the Six-Party Talks Chun Yung-woo, and ROK Ambassador-at-Large for Human Rights Jhe Seong-ho. 3. (SBU) At a session that was closed to the press, Vice Minister Chun spoke candidly about the big-picture reality of inter-Korean relations. He said the ROKG would continue to pursue a “Denuclearization First” policy towards the DPRK. Chun argued that the North’s current charm offensive stemmed from an “existential crisis” that had allegedly made the regime “desperate to embrace anyone who can alleviate the pain” and financial squeeze of UN sanctions. The DPRK, he asserted, was “on life support” and the international community, especially the Five Parties, held “the oxygen mask.” 4. (U) Ministry of Unification Director-General for Intelligence and Analysis Yang Chang-seok told the participants that the DPRK’s economy was continuing to deteriorate. He confirmed that North Korea’s currency replacement was an effort to crack down on free market activity, curb inflation, legitimize the planned economy, and reduce differences between official and black market exchange rates; the effort, he indicated, had clearly failed (reftel). Korea Institute for International Economic Policy Director Cho Myung-chul stressed that dealing with severe food sortages would be the most pressing issue for the DPRK in the next few months because the informal markets that once compensated for the failed public distribution system (PDS) were only now beginning to recover from the negative effects of the currency replacement fiasco. … STEPHENS”

The figures that have confirmed the president’s intent to hold a summit are pursuing meetings with North Korea in an “individualistic combat” format, claiming to be close associates of the president. However, because most of the windows of opportunity for meetings are through private channels whose official status and responsibility cannot be ensured, some observers are concerned that the efforts may end up generating confusion. A source on North Korea said that the individuals in question “are attempting to schedule meetings with North Korea by saying things such as ‘I can really convey President Lee’s wishes’ and ‘I can give you a letter from the president.’ It is as if a letter from the president is some kind of love letter,” the source remarked sardonically. Meetings between North Korea and South Korea to discuss the possibility of holding of a have been experiencing a lull since agenda conflicts resulted in the breakdown of a meeting in Singapore last October between Labor Minister Lim Tae-hee and Kim Yang-kon, director of the United Front Department (UFD) of the Korean Workers’ Party, and of a subsequent follow-up meeting between officials of South Korea’s Ministry of Unification and North Korea’s UFD. Based on accounts from private groups involved in work with North Korea and various experts on inter-Korean relations who are familiar with the situation within the government, however, at least three or four different groups are known to be embarking on separate efforts to construct channels for an inter-Korean summit. To begin with, a major ruling party figure who served previously as a lawmaker for the Grand National Party is known to have met with individuals from North Korea’s State Security Department in Beijing last week. In addition, it was reported that an expert on North Korean economics at a private research institution has been seeking contacts with North Korea at the government’s behest. In addition, there have also been reports that a GNP figure actively affiliated with a private group involved in work with North Korea took along a message from President Lee during a recent trip to North Korea. Many experts are expressing skepticism about the chances of such activity producing a channel strong and reliable enough to guarantee a summit will take place. A number of analysts claim that the crisis of trust between the two Koreas could actually be exacerbated if the individuals focus too much on results or if too many private interests result in distorted communication during discussions. In particular, many observers say that a careless response from the administration may generate more confusion. In other words, there is no core figure or system within the administration capable of taking full control of inter-Korean relations, especially major international affairs such as summit meetings. An inter-Korean relations expert who asked to remain anonymous said, “If the administration takes responsibility, whether officially or unofficially, there is no room for the non-official line to operate.” The expert continued, “This is proof the fact that there is a serious lack of policy and a confusing structure for making North Korea policy decisions.” Other observers are pointing to President Lee’s leadership methods as the problem. They claim that the CEO-style method of giving projects to various people and then selecting those with the best results is also being reflected in inter-Korean relations. For this reason, observers are saying that the situation could become more chaotic in the future as dozens of different people become involved in the effort to bring about the summit. The process of bringing the summit about through a contest between different groups with the task delegated by the administration could break down if it is exposed to the media. Additionally, if the competition between the various channels raises North Korea’s expectations, this could potentially diminish South Korea¡’s bargaining ability and neutralize the Lee administration’s official policy line. Indeed, some observers have reported that the Ministry of Unification and the National Intelligence Service (NIS) are competing in their summit efforts rather than cooperating. It is also unclear whether the figures who are attempting contacts with North Korea have made reports to the Ministry of Unification. “The current situation is a carbon copy of the Kim Young-sam administration, when various brokers were all engaged in similar efforts,” Kim Yeon-cheol, head of the Hankyoreh Peace Research Institute, said,. “They need to consider the lesson learned in 1995, when the non-official line made inter-Korean relations worse by getting involved in discussions during the rice talks.” (Hankyore, “Inter-Governmental Competition Increasing to Broker Summit Talks,” February 4, 2010)

In dozens of interviews with his closest allies and friends in Washington – most of them given unattributably in order to protect their access to the Oval Office – each observes that the president draws on the advice of a very tight circle. The inner core consists of just four people – Rahm Emanuel, the pugnacious chief of staff; David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, his senior advisers; and Robert Gibbs, his communications chief. “It is a very tightly knit group,” says a prominent Obama backer who has visited the White House more than 40 times in the past year. “This is a kind of ‘we few’ group … that achieved the improbable in the most unlikely election victory anyone can remember and, unsurprisingly, their bond is very deep.” John Podesta, former chief of staff to Bill Clinton and founder of the Center for American Progress, the most influential think-tank in Obama’s Washington, says that while he believes Obama does hear a range of views, including dissenting advice, problems can arise from the narrow composition of the group itself. Among the broader circle that Obama also consults are the self-effacing Peter Rouse, who was chief of staff to Tom Daschle in his time as Senate majority leader; Jim Messina, deputy chief of staff; the economics team led by Lawrence Summers and including Peter Orszag, budget director; Joe Biden, the vice-president; and Denis McDonough, deputy national security adviser. But none is part of the inner circle. (Edward Luce, “A Fearsome Foursome,” Financial Times, February 4, 2010, p. 11)

Prosecutors indicted Ishikawa Tomohiro, a House of Representatives member who was a secretary to Ozawa, but decided not to seek criminal charges against his former boss and DPJ Secretary General Ozawa Ichiro due to insufficient evidence in relation to the alleged false reporting of the veteran politician’s funds, sources close to the case said. Ishikawa was arrested last month on suspicion of failing to book 400 million yen in a 2004 report of Ozawa’s fund body Rikuzankai in violation of the Political Funds Control Law. (Kyodo, Lawmaker Ishikawa Indicted over False Fund Report; No Charges against Ozawa,” February 4, 2010)


2/5/10:
The North Korean regime is purging senior military and party officials In the Workers’ Party, three key economic figures have been replaced. Finance Director Pak Nami-gi was apparently axed on Jan 20, taking the fall for the failed currency revaluation late last year. “Room 39” bureau director Kim Tong-un was recently replaced by his deputy Jon Il-chun after having managed the regime’s secret coffers for 36 years. A source says that Kim Tong-un was replaced because he was put under a personal travel ban by the EU in December last year and it was difficult for him to manage overseas funds for the North Korean leader. Han Kwang-sang was apparently promoted from first deputy of the finance and accounting department to head, which has been vacant for a long time. The department is in charge of managing party funds. North Korean leader Kim Jong-il last month tapped Vice Foreign Minister Kim Yong-il, who is familiar with Chinese affairs and served as the chief negotiator to the six-way nuclear talks, as the head of the party’s department for international affairs. An intelligence officer in Seoul says the appointment of Kim Yong-il is likely related to the international sanctions, which were imposed after the North conducted its second nuclear test. Several military leaders in their 70s and 80s have disappeared from the scene due to old age and chronic disease, including Marshal Ri Ul-sol; Jo Myong-rok, director of the Army’s General Political Bureau; and Ri Yong-mu, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission. They have been in the military since the era of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung. Defense Minister Kim Yong-chun has also not been seen in public for more than two months, apparently due to ill health. He had been the chief of the Army’s General Staff for more than 10 years after Kim Jong-il succeeded his father. Rising military leaders are Gen. Ri Yong-ho, the current chief of the Army’s General Staff, and Kim Jong-gak, vice-director of the Army’s general political department. Both are, though not exactly youthful, in their 60s. A North Korea source says Ri is an artillery expert and may have been behind North Korea’s recent firing of artillery shells into waters near the maritime border in the West Sea. Baek Seung-joo, chief of the Center for Security and Strategy at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, says, “Many North Korean military officers in their 50s and 60s were assigned to the general political department, which checks the loyalty of the military to the North Korean leader.” They will play an important role in consolidating the succession to the heir apparent Kim Jong-un, he added. (Chosun Ilbo, “N. Korea Purges Party, Military,” February 5, 2010)

Amid accounts of starvation, food shortages in the army, and runaway inflation, senior economic officials have been fired in recent days, according to reports in South Korean media. The dismissals were reported in a week in which North Korean leader Kim Jong-il made a rare acknowledgement of his state’s failure to provide its citizens with an acceptable standard of living. “I am most heartbroken by the fact that our people are living on corn,” Kim said in a report monitored by South Korea’s Yonhap. “What I must do now is feed them white rice, bread and noodles generously.” Two people a day have been dying of hunger in South Hamgyong province, according to a report by Good Friends, a Seoul-based aid and human rights group with informants inside the North. It also said that North Korean army commanders met with government officials January 20 to discuss how to obtain more food for troops.South Korea’s National Intelligence Service said yesterday that North Korea has now recognized the social upheaval; caused by the currency revaluation and is easing curbs on black-market trading, Reuters reported. “To quell public discontent, controls and the crackdown on marketplaces has been eased,” an intelligence official told the news agency. “Discontent is high.” (Blaine Harden, “Inflation-Hit North Korea Has Fired Top Economic Officials, South Korean Media Report,” Washington Post, February 5, 2010, p. A-8)

A North Korean source has shed more light on an apology by Premier Kim Yong-il on February 5 which apparently acknowledged that the currency reform in late December went disastrously wrong. The source said Kim, not to be confused with leader Kim Jong-il, read out an hour-long statement before village chiefs and other party officials at the People’s Palace of Culture in Pyongyang. “I sincerely apologize for having caused great pain to the people by recklessly enforcing the latest currency reform without making sufficient preparations or considering the circumstances,” the source quoted him as saying. Kim also pledged to rectify the mistakes, saying he would do “my best” to stabilize people’s financial circumstances. He indicated that the regime will allow people to use foreign currency, which has been banned since the reform, and permit open-air markets to return to normal after a crackdown that seemed aimed at strangling a nascent market economy. But Kim at the same time stressed the need to stick to state-set prices, adding that the government will strictly crack down on the hoarding of goods. Some experts say the situation in the North has returned to almost the state before the currency reform. A South Korean official said North Korean authorities loosened their control of the markets since there has been unprecedented resistance from ordinary people. This seems to have forced Kim’s hand. After Kim’s apology, most money changers and illegal traders who had been arrested were reportedly freed. The number of people leaving for China has grown noticeably as offices of state agencies or state-run corporations involved in earning dollars, which suspended business due to the ban on use of foreign currency, have resumed business. The apology apparently quenched a lot of the simmering public anger. “Premier Kim Yong-il’s direct apology to village chiefs, who are representatives of the people of each region, is tantamount to an apology to the people themselves. It’s a big event in the history of North Korea,” a former senior North Korean official who defected to the South said. “Authorities have never apologized to the people for wrong policies before.” He believes the apology came “because discontent with the currency reform had spread widely even among core supporters of the regime,” he added. (Chosun Ilbo, “N. Korea Climbs down over Anti-Market Reforms,” February 11, 2010)

North Korea announced it would release a US missionary who entered the communist country on Christmas Day to urge leader Kim Jong-Il to resign for human rights abuses. Robert Park had expressed “sincere repentance” for his actions which were prompted by “false propaganda” from the West, KCNA said. “The relevant organ of the DPRK decided to leniently forgive and release him, taking his admission and sincere repentance of his wrongdoings into consideration.” It did not say when he would be freed. KCNA carried what it said was an interview with Park. “I trespassed on the border due to my wrong understanding of the DPRK caused by the false propaganda made by the West to tarnish its image,” the Tucson, Arizona, resident was quoted as saying, that he had been treated “in a kind and gentlemanly manner” and that “religious freedom is fully ensured” in the North. He allegedly said he was allowed to pray daily, his Bible was returned to him and he was allowed to attend a service at a Pyongyang church. “I would not have committed such crime if I had known that the DPRK respects the rights of all the people and guarantees their freedom and they enjoy a happy and stable life,” KCNA quoted Park as saying. “The North is making a friendly gesture towards Washington as Pyongyang is actively seeking to open dialogue with the United States,” Kim Yeon-Chul, director of the Hankyoreh Peace Research Institute, told AFP. “It also comes after President Barack Obama said that North Korea would remain off the US list of terrorist states.” (AFP, “North Korea to Free ‘Repentant’ U.S. Missionary,” February 5, 2010) Robert Park, 29, a Korean-American who was released in February after 43 days of detention, gave a harrowing account of his imprisonment, which he said included beatings, torture and sexual abuse. “The scars and wounds of the things that happened to me in North Korea are too intense,” Park said in an interview with KBS. “As a result of what happened to me in North Korea, I’ve thrown away any kind of personal desire. I will never, you know, be able to have a marriage or any kind of relationship.” Park said he attempted suicide soon after he returned to the United States. He told the magazine Christianity Today that he had been “in and out” of psychiatric hospitals for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. Analysts in Seoul said such personal affronts to Kim were forbidden in the North and typically drew long prison terms or death sentences. But Park told friends in Seoul before he left that he would die with political prisoners in the North if Kim refused to free them. Park said that his apology was a fake, and that the statement had been dictated to him. He said that he had a new appreciation for the harshness and cynicism of the North Korean government, which he vowed to devote his life to fighting. (Mark McDonald, “Activist Tells of Torture in North Korean Pruison,” New York Times, October 28, 2010)

Asst SecState Kurt Campbell: “Q: I would like to ask a question about the inter-Korean summit. North Korea’s position is that it prioritizes the normalization of ties with the U.S. first. That obviously means that the normalization of the ties between the U.S. and North Korea will have an impact on the inter-Korean summit. So, what is your – the U.S. government’s stance – on the peace negotiation that North Korea is talking about and what kind of impact do you think this will have on the inter-Korean summit? CAMPBELL: Let me say that the American perspective is, as we say in English, ‘first things first.’ What’s most important right now – at the top of the list, no distractions – are for the resumption of Six-Party Talks and the return of North Korea to that framework. And as part of that action, we need to see North Korea accepting and recommitting to the steps they took in 2005 and 2007. Until those steps are taken, the United States will not be prepared to either ease sanctions nor to begin discussions on other issues, like an establishment of a peace regime. However, once North Korea comes back to the Six-Party Talks and recommits to their statements and positions of 2005 and 2007, then it will be possible to conduct bilateral discussions on a range of issues and also to think about next steps in terms of other matters associated with the maintenance of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. It’s so important for us not to be distracted. And we need to focus on the central issue, which is the resumption of Six-Party Talks. …Q: Last year you talked about [a] ‘comprehensive package’ and my question is: Is there content of that ‘comprehensive package’ – do you have it as concrete steps? And [the] South Korean government has also been talking about the “grand bargain.” So, how much have you been consulting each other on the content or the elements of the “comprehensive package” or [the] “grand bargain.” And in the ‘comprehensive package’ I believe is included a peace regime or peace agreement. North Korea’s stance is that it wants to reach this quickly. Do you think that the Six-Party Talks and the negotiation for peace agreement can go together? CAMPBELL: First of all let me say that the Governments of the United States and South Korea have had very close consultations on, shall we say, a comprehensive approach should North Korea come back to the Six-Party framework. And these incentives are political, they are financial, they are humanitarian and they are technical in nature, and they would come into play if North Korea took strong and clear steps towards meeting its denuclearization commitments. Now other aspects of diplomacy are possible. But the essence of the Six-Party Talks will remain on these fundamental issues associated with nuclear matters relating to North Korea. And if we ever start to make real progress on nuclear and human rights and other issues, then it is possible to imagine a variety of diplomacy running concurrently. But I must also say we’re quite a distance from that point today, and we are still waiting for a clear sign from North Korea about returning to the Six-Party Talks.” (Assistant Secretary of State Kurt M. Campbell, Roundtable with Korean Journalists, Seoul, February 5, 2010)


2/6/10:
A survey taken February 4-5 showed 72.7 percent of people surveyed believed that Ozawa Ichiro should resign as secretary general of the ruling DPJ over a funding scandal despite the fact he has not been indicted, the latest nationwide telephone poll by Kyodo News showed. The disapproval rate for the Cabinet of PM Hatoyama Yukio, meanwhile, edged up to 45.1 percent, staying above the approval rate for the second consecutive poll, (Kyodo, “Over 70% Want Ozawa to Resign, Cabinet Disapproval Rate at 45%: Poll,” February 6, 2010)

Addressing the National Tea Party Convention in Nashville, Sarah Palin derided his efforts at diplomacy, singling out North Korea. “We must spend less time courting our adversaries and more time working with our allies,” she said. (Kathleen Hennessey, “Palin to Tea Party Convention: ‘This Is about the People,” Los Angeles Times, February 7, 2010)


2/7/10:
Rodong Sinmun signed article: “The Korean Peninsula has now become an acute hotspot where a war may break out any moment. It is an urgent requirement of the times to replace the outdated Armistice Agreement (AA) by a peace treaty. …The present AA would not make it possible to prevent the eruption of military conflicts by any incidental cause. An early conclusion of a peace treaty replacing the AA would help turn the relations of acute belligerency into those of peace and confidence. The long ceasefire on the Korean Peninsula unprecedented in the world history of ceasefire is just like a time-bomb in work that poses constant threat to Northeast Asia and furthermore, Asia-Pacific. A peace treaty only would bring peaceful environment to the peninsula and the rest of Asia-Pacific. The urgency for replacing the AA with a peace treaty is also related to the main trend of the present times toward reconciliation, cooperation and development, not war and confrontation. The issue of concluding a peace treaty would see a smooth solution if the U.S. comes out with the political will to make a bold switchover in its hostile policy toward the DPRK in conformity with its interests and the desire of the world peace-loving people, facing up to the changed situation and trend of the developing history. The U.S. had better make a bold decision at once to fulfill the duty it assumes in replacing the AA with a peace treaty. Steadfast is the stand of the DPRK to establish a durable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula and denuclearize it through dialogue and negotiations, the article concludes.” (KCNA, “Replacement of AA by Peace Treaty Urged,” February 7, 2010)

Wang Jiarui, head of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Department, and his delegation arrived in Pyongyang in what many analysts believe is a trip aimed at persuading the North to rejoin stalled six-party nuclear disarmament talks. Wang met with Kim Yong-il, director of the international affairs department of the Workers’ Party, in a reception hosted by the department that day, the North’s Korean Central Broadcasting Station radio said. Also present the dinner were Kim’s deputy Kim Song-nam and other party officials, it added. (Yonhap, “Chinese Envoy Meets Pyongyang Official: State Radio,” February 7, 2010)


2/8/10:
Officials from North and South Korea ended talks without an agreement on steps to restart stalled cross-border tours, as Pyongyang’s top security organs warned of an attack on Seoul with what they called secret weapons. Chief South Korean delegate Kim Nam-sik said in a briefing after returning from the talks in Kaesong that North Korea maintained its refusal to allow a joint on-site investigation into the shooting. He quoted his North Korean counterparts as saying they “regret the death anyway” while they spurned the South Korean request for access to a restricted zone where Park Wang-ja was shot. “What matters is that a full account must be given” concerning the death of the 53-year-old South Korean housewife in July 2008, Kim said. While the meeting continued, two of the highest security organs in the North issued a joint statement warning of “all-out strong measures” against South Korean authorities they said were seeking to topple their communist regime. “We have world-level ultra-modern striking force and means for protecting security which have neither yet been mentioned,” the Ministry of People’s Security and the Ministry of State Security said in the statement released through official media. South Korea should “immediately disband all the plot-breeding machines and bodies of the authorities going against national reconciliation,” it said. (Yonhap, “Koreas Fail to Agree on resuming Border Tours; North Stokes Tension,” February 8, 2010) UnifMin: “On February 8, the ROK delegation compellingly insisted at the inter-Korean working-level meeting today that three preconditions – conducting a joint investigation on a South Korean tourist’s death in 2008, setting up measures to prevent the same accident and establishing institutional instruments for security guarantee – should be satisfied in order to resume Mt. Kumgang and Kaesong tourism. The DPRK delegation, however, repeated what they had said before and didn’t respond to our demand, so the discussion couldn’t go further.” (Unification Ministry Press Release, February 8, 2010) North Korea provided a written guarantee for the safety of tourists at Mt. Kumkang during 2010 working level talks with the South Korean government. The draft of the inter-Korean working level agreement to resume tourism at Mt. Kumgang and Kaesong, disclosed on Nov. 26 by Democratic United Party lawmaker Hong Ik-pyo. This contradicts Seoul’s claims that it could not reopen the tourism venture because no such guarantee had been received. The draft was provided by Pyongyang during its February 2010 working level talks with the South Korean government in Kaesong. In it, it pledged to “fully guarantee all necessary amenities for tourism and the physical safety of tourists.” To date, the South Korean government has maintained that it cannot restart tourist trips to Mt. Kumgang because North Korea did not provide any written guarantee of visitors‘ safety during the talks. But of Seoul’s three demands for resuming tourism there – an investigation into the shooting death of a South Korean tourist, measures to prevent similar incidents from reoccurring, and guarantees of tourist safety – the evidence suggest Pyongyang did at least meet the last of them, and with a written rather than oral pledge. Then-leader Kim Jong-il also made a spoken promise during an August 2009 meeting with Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun, telling her he would fully guarantee all necessary tourism amenities and the personal safety of tourists. The group subsequently attempted to resume the Mt. Kumkang tourism effort based on the promise. The working level talks in February 2010 were held after Seoul decided there needed to be a promise from the North Korean government for the safety and lives of South Korean visitors. North Korea also appears to have honored its contract with the Hyundai Group up to that point. The document stated that it would “actively cooperate for the amicable execution of the agreements reached between [North Korea’s] Asia-Pacific Peace Committee and the Hyundai Group.” But after the talks broke down in April 2010, North Korea began seizing and freezing South Korean assets within the Mt. Kumgang tourism zone, including property of the Hyundai Group and Korea Tourism Organization, and canceled the Hyundai Group’s monopoly rights for the tourism venture. It also enacted the Mt. Kumkang Special International Tourism District Act and went to work on a tourism effort with other foreigners. (Kim Kyu-won, “Newly Released Document Contradicts Seoul’s Claim on Mt. Kumgang Tourism,” Hankyore, November 27, 2012)

About 34 percent of South Koreans think increasing exchanges with the North is the best way to lower tension on the Korean Peninsula, a survey conducted by a local defense think tank showed. Nearly 30 percent cited reinforcing South Korea’s military capabilities as the most important task, while 18 percent pointed to a stronger alliance with the United States and 17.7 percent chose greater cooperation with such neighboring countries as Japan, China and Russia. In the nationwide poll of 1,261 adults, including 60 North Korea experts, 60.1 percent of respondents and 71.1 percent of experts answered positively when asked whether inter-Korean exchanges will have a positive influence in changing North Korea. The Research Institute on National Security Affairs, part of the Korea National Defense University, conducted the survey from September to October last year. Results showed that 33.6 percent of respondents pointed to the expansion of exchanges with North Korea as the most important means to reduce security threats on the peninsula. Among experts surveyed, 40 percent said cementing cooperation with the U.S. is the most significant, while 28.3 percent cited “increasing exchanges with the North” and the remaining 15 percent “reinforcing South Korea’s military power.” About 80 percent of ordinary Koreans said the North’s nuclear programs pose a threat to South Korea’s security, while an almost unanimous 98.5 percent of experts answered that the programs are threatening. Only 9.7 percent of respondents answered the same question in the negative. Almost 46 percent of ordinary Koreans and 88.3 percent of experts agreed that the North Korean regime is seeking to gain security through its nuclear weapons, while 33.1 percent and 5 percent of both groups said the aim is to get more aid from the international community. (Yonhap, “S. Koreans Say Inter-Korean Exchanges Reduce Tensions: Poll,” February 8, 2010)


2/9/10:
North Korea’s nuclear envoy Kim Kye-gwan arrived in Beijing as Wang Jiarui, a top Chinese Community Party official in charge of international affairs, wrapped up his trip to Pyongyang. In a meeting with Wang, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il reportedly reiterated Pyongyang’s commitment to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, although no further details were disclosed. UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s top political adviser Lynn Pascoe was also due in Pyongyang later today. “Those brisk diplomatic efforts are a positive sign in efforts to bring North Korea back to the six-party talks,” a senior South Korean government official told Yonhap. “It is hard to expect when the six-way talks will be resumed but it is clear that a positive mood is being created,” he said. The official said South Korea has no plan yet to send its own special envoy to Pyongyang, however. “We will first need to monitor the development of diplomatic efforts by China and other related parties,” he said. (Lee Chi-dong, “China’s Role Positive in Efforts to Resume N. Korea Nuclear Talks: Seoul,” Yonhap, February 9, 2010)


2/9-11/10:
A U.N. envoy said after visiting Pyongyang that North Korea does not appear to be eager to return to the stalled six-party talks on its nuclear programs, but he urged it to do so soon without preconditions. U.N. SecGen Ban Ki-moon’s special envoy Lynn Pascoe, also told reporters in Beijing that the North Korean figures he met with made clear to him that they are unhappy with U.N. sanctions imposed in the wake of the country’s rocket and nuclear tests last year. Pascoe, who is U.N. undersecretary general for political affairs, said he urged North Korea to return to the six-party talks, which also involve South Korea, the United States, China, Russia and Japan, “without preconditions and further delay.” In Pyongyang, he met with North Korea’s No. 2 leader Kim Yong Nam, who is president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, and government officials, as well as with the U.N. country team and foreign diplomats. (Yonhap, “U.N. Envoy Says N. Korea Not Eager to Return to Six-Party Talks,” February 12, 2010) “Their attitude right now, certainly they’re not happy with sanctions. They’re certainly not eager, not ruling out, but not eager to return to six-party talks,” Pascoe, told reporters in Beijing. Pascoe said the country was only getting about a quarter of the aid it needed, and cited donor fatigue as one of the reasons for the shortfall. (Lucy Hornby, “North Korea Not Eager to Return to Six-Party Talks,” Reuters, February 12, 2010)


2/10/10:
China has named Wu Dawei, a former vice foreign minister, special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs in charge of the six-party talks and related issues, the country’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website. Though Wu, who is 64, retired as vice foreign minister late last year, he has kept serving as China’s chief nuclear negotiator and chair of six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing North Korea. On Tuesday he met with his long-time North Korean counterpart Kim Kye-gwan, who was visiting Beijing. “The Chinese authorities seem to value the expertise Wu has accumulated chairing the talks for a long time,” a diplomatic source in Beijing said. “It looks like a vote of confidence.” (Chosun Ilbo, “China in Vote of Confidence for Nuclear Point Man,” February 11, 2010)

WikiLeaks cable: “C O N F I D E N T I A L SEOUL 000202 2/10/10 SUBJECT: DASD SCHIFFER: KOREAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY MEMBERS PITCH “SUNSHINE POLICY”, OPCON DELAY, AND ACTION ON FTA 1.(C) Summary: In separate meetings with DASD Michael Schiffer on January 26 and 27, ruling Grand National Party (GNP) and opposition Democratic Party (DP) National Assembly Members affirmed the strength of the U.S.-ROK Alliance and discussed North Korea, wartime OPCON transition, and the KORUS FTA. The DP Members were critical of what they described as the USG’s hard-line policy toward North Korea and urged engagement in the spirit of former President Kim Dae-jung’s “Sunshine Policy”. GNP and DP Members supported delaying OPCON transition, while one DP Member advised that, if not delayed, it must be handled cautiously. GNP Members expressed their frustration at what they described as a lack of good will on the part of the USG in not acting to ratify the KORUS FTA. End Summary. 2.(C) DASD Schiffer hosted DP National Assembly Members Park Jie-won, Park Sun-sook, and Seo Jong-pyo for dinner on January 26. Park Jie-won, currently Chairman of the DP’s Policy Committee, was former President Kim Dae-Jung’s chief of staff and seckret emissary to North Korea for arranging the 2000 summit in Pyongyang between Kim Dae-jung and Kim Jong-il. Park Sun-sook was Kim Dae-jung’s press secretary. Seo Jong-pyo is a first-term National Assembly Member and retired General. DASD Schiffer hosted GNP Memebers Hwang Jin-ha and Cho Yoon-sun on January 27. Hwang Jin-ha, a retired Lieutenant General, is a second-term National Assembly Member and serves on the Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Unification Committee. Cho Yoon-sun is a first-term National Assembly Member, who, before entering politics, was Chief Legal Officer for Citibank Korea. 3.(C) Park Jie-won, though pessimistic that North Korea would ever abandon its nuclear weapons, said the U.S. should normalize relations, discuss a peace agreement, and provide energy assistance to reestablish trust with the North. He said North Korea tested nuclear weapons and missiles because, feeling ignored and “lonely” in the early days of the Obama administration, it was trying to draw America’s attention. Moreover, because, according to Park, the U.S. seemed to be currently preoccupied with fighting terrorism and relief efforts in Haiti, the North could be preparing a new round of provocative acts. The possibility of armed conflict was real, Park said, and the North’s call for peace regime talks was not mere rhetoric. The potential for dialogue existed, but the choice was not North Korea’s; it was up to the U.S. and the other Six Party Talks members to woo North Korea back to negotiation, said Park. Nevertheless, Park said, “I don’t think they will abandon nukes in the final stage. The most they will do is seal the facilities. Then they will want to verify U.S. nuclear capability in the ROK. It is unreasonable.” 4.(C) DASD Schiffer, recounting the history of U.S. efforts to engage North Korea, including President Obama,s offer of an outstretched hand in his inaugural address, told Park Jie-won it would be “absurd” to attribute the development of Kim Jong-il’s nuclear program to North Korea being “lonely”. The choice, DASD Schiffer said, was North Korea’s to make: to walk through the open door of engagement or not. In exchange for verifiably abandoning its nuclear weapons, North Korea would find the U.S. willing to normalize relations, negotiate a peace agreement, and provide aid. DASD Schiffer noted that action for action worked both ways: negative DPRK actions, such as missile launches and nuclear tests, resulted in negative U.S. actions, such as sanctions. He asked what more the U.S. could do to induce North Korea to dialogue, especially given our attempts to engage North Korea had resulted in North Korean provocations. 5.(C) Seo Jong-pyo, representing the conservative wing of the DP, said that North Korea, from the perspective of former President Kim Dae-jung’s “Sunshine Policy”, was South Korea’s brother. But from a security perspective, the retired general said North Korea was the enemy. The strong U.S.-ROK Alliance made ROK engagement with the North possible during the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations, but the North’s 2006 nuclear test was a turning point that revealed the North’s true intentions. “The nuclear issue,” Seo said, “can only be resolved if the regime collapses.” Park Jie-won, who had invited Seo to the dinner, laughed, “He is very conservative.” 6.(C) Park Jie-won said time was of the essence to strike a deal with Kim Jong-il before he died, because nobody else had the decision making authority to make a deal stick, and before the North succeeded in miniaturizing its nuclear weapons. Park emphasized that the Sunshine Policy was the least expensive method to resolve the nuclear issue with North Korea. DASD Schiffer noted that rewarding bad behavior set up bad incentives and created a moral hazard, which would not lead to a successful resolution. The DP, Park added, would welcome and support a summit between Lee Myung-bak and Kim Jong-il. Park worried about instability that might result from the North Korean government’s inability to fulfill expectations it had raised by promising economic improvements by 2012. He said the currency revaluation was an example of the government’s attempt to regain control of the economy. The pressure on Kim Jong-il to produce results was immense, he speculated, making it more likely that his health would deteriorate further. 7.(C) Park Jie-won, based on recent conversations he had with Chinese government officials, said China did not take the sanctions against North Korea seriously. China’s position, he said, was that the South and North should work out their differences like two brothers but that President Lee was blocking progress. China was worried that if the North’s nuclear weapons program was not halted, the ROK, Japan, and maybe even Taiwan would also seek nuclear weapons. The only solution in China’s view, according to Park, was for the U.S. to engage in dialogue with the North, lift sanctions, give the North a security guarantee, and provide aid. Park agreed, though, that North Korea was making the &biggest mistake in a history of mistakes8 by continuing its provocative actions and rhetoric. He lamented that North Korea was holding the threat of war as leverage over Seoul. 8. (C) GNP Member Hwang Jin-ha said planning for contingencies in the North was critical because Kim Jong-il’s poor health and the destabilizing effects of the sanctions increased the likelihood of contingency situations. Hwang said it was important to find a way to signal to China and Russia what U.S. and ROK expectations were “to educate them on how we expect to see things unfold.” 9.(C) GNP and DP members were nearly unanimous that the planned transition of wartime operational control (OPCON) to the ROK in 2012 should be delayed. Only DP Rep. Park Sun-sook said it should proceed, but added that the matter called for careful handling lest it spark a domestic political crisis in the ROK or, worse, embolden the DPRK to take advantage of what it might see as an opening. The Korean public, they all said, believed OPCON transition meant the U.S. commitment to the ROK’s defense was decreasing. Moreover, 2012 would be a potentially volatile year with presidential and National Assembly elections in the ROK, a presidential election in the U.S., a Party Congress and new President in China, and the (likely disappointing) culmination of North Korea’s effort to become a “strong and prosperous nation”. 10.(C) Hwang Jin-ha, reflecting a broad consensus in the ruling GNP, argued strongly for delaying the planned transition of wartime OPCON to the ROK in 2012. Hwang said the agreement between former President’s Bush and Roh to transition OPCON was “like a bad marriage” with each side hiding its true intentions from the other. The U.S. side, according to Hwang, saw that it had an opportunity for “strategic flexibility” while for Roh it was an ill-guided matter of reclaiming Korea’s sovereignty. It was clear, in hindsight he said, that Roh’s judgment on security matters was deeply flawed because he did not see North Korea as a threat; he claimed that this flaw remained the basis of the OPCON transition agreement. Hwang said in light of the current nuclear security threat in North Korea, taking any unreciprocated act to weaken — as Hwang saw it — Korea’s security posture would be a mistake. 11.(C) OSD Senior Country Director for Korea Brian Arakelian told Hwang that the process of preparing for OPCON transition had strengthened U.S.-ROK combined defenses and the bilateral assessment of the strategic environment because it had prompted a necessary reevaluation of contingency plans and the desired bilateral assumptions and end-states for the peninsula inherent in those plans. With or without OPCON transition, Arakelian said, the ROK would play a lead role in the event of conflict — in a manner not accounted for in current plans and command relationships. Preparation for OPCON transition, therefore, had resulted in bilateral plans and alliance structures and arrangements &catching up8 to the reality of today,s security environment — ensuring the U.S. and ROK were better prepared )- rather than the claim by many that the transition was neglecting consideration of that strategic environment. Representative Cho replied that while valid points, such arguments were difficult to convey to the ROK public. Arakelian further asserted that it was perplexing how the ROK public could be persuaded to support ROK forces deploying to Afghanistan and elsewhere globally, and yet not be convinced of the necessity of the ROK,s lead role in its own defense, or of viewing the ROK,s global commitments in the context of impacts on the combined defense (alluding to the ROK public,s apprehension with U.S. strategic flexibility). 12.(C) DP Members Park Jie-won and Seo Jong-pyo said OPCON transition should be delayed. Seo’s opinion was based on his assessment that OPCON transition would harm the ROK’s security posture. Park Jie-won, implicitly criticizing the Roh administration, said the ROK’s agreement to OPCON transition during the Roh Administration was based on the assumption of a small group of Koreans that it would be better for USFK to leave Korea. That assumption, he said, does not accurately reflect Korean opinion. Rep. Park Sun-sook said that if OPCON transition did not mean that USFK would be “hands off” in a war on the peninsula, then it should proceed as planned, but very quietly and without publicity. 13.(C) GNP Rep. Hwang Jin-ha was critical of the U.S. delay in ratifying the KORUS FTA. Hwang said ratification of the FTA was strategically important because it would send a signal to the region that the U.S.-ROK alliance was strong. GNP Rep. Cho Yoon-sun said that the lack of action in ratifying the FTA would cast doubt on U.S. commitments beyond the economic sphere. 14.(C) DASD Schiffer told Hwang and Cho that while he understood and appreciated the strategic significance of the FTA, the U.S.-ROK Alliance was more than the FTA and that we should not make the decision to ratify the FTA a proxy for the entire future of the alliance. There were other ways, he said, to also signal the strength of the relationship. 15.(U) DASD Schiffer cleared this message. STEPHENS”


2/9-13/10:
Kim Kye-gwan, the North’s representative to the six-party negotiations, said he held “in-depth” discussions on resuming the talks in his meetings with Chinese officials, Xinhua reported. “We exchanged important opinions with China on the matters of a peace treaty between the two Koreas and the resumption of the six-party talks,” he told reporters in Beijing. North Korea says talks aimed at replacing the 1950-53 Korean War truce with a peace treaty should be launched if it is to rejoin the six-party dialogue. (Yonhap, “U.N. Special Envoy ‘Very Satisfied’ with Talks in Pyongyang: Report,” February 12, 2010) North Korea on February 10 repeated demands for sanctions to be lifted before it returns to nuclear disarmament talks, resisting appeals from its ally China to resume dialogue, a news report said. Pyongyang’s nuclear negotiators were holding a second day of talks in Beijing amid international efforts to kick-start the stalled negotiations, Yonhap reported from the Chinese capital. North Korea restated its stance that it would not come back to the six-party forum as long as sanctions are in force. Yonhap quoted a diplomatic source as saying. It urged China, as a permanent UN Security Council member, to play an active role in lifting the UN sanctions, the source said. The negotiators also reportedly sought Beijing’s backing for their demand that the United States agree to start talks about a permanent peace treaty before the nuclear forum resumes. China stressed North Korea should first return to the dialogue table and ease its tough conditions, the source was quoted as saying. Pyongyang was reportedly playing hardball despite its own worsening food shortages and international efforts to revive the six-party forum. (AFP, “North Korea Demands End to Sanctions at Beijing Talks,” February 11, 2010) DPRK FoMin spokesman: “The delegation led by Kim Kye Gwan, vice-minister of Foreign Affairs, visited China from Feb. 9 to 13 at the invitation of Wu Dawei, special envoy of the Chinese government for the affairs of the Korean Peninsula. During the visit both sides had an in-depth discussion on the issue of boosting the DPRK-China relations and matters of speeding up the denuclearization of the peninsula through confidence building such as the conclusion of a peace treaty, the lifting of sanctions and the resumption of the six-party talks.” (KCNA, “Spokesman for DPRK Foreign Ministry on Its Delegation’s China Visit,” February 13, 2010)


2/11/10:
North Korea must rejoin six-party talks on its nuclear programs and allow irreversible progress in denuclearization if it wants a lasting peace regime on the Korean peninsula, South Korea’s Unification Minister said. “To establish a durable peace regime, the starting point should be the time when North Korea returns to the six-party talks and makes progress in achieving irreversible denuclearization,” Hyun In-taek told a forum. “North Korea’s proposal for a peace treaty is not a positive signal geared toward making progress in denuclearization,” he said. “If we fail to create a breakthrough in resolving the North Korean nuclear conundrum in the near future, the political situations on the Korean Peninsula will become extremely unstable.” (Sam Kim, “Lasting Peace Regime Only Possible When N. Korea Denuclearizes: Minister,” Yonhap, February 11, 2010)

South Korean FM Yu Myung-hwan and Japan’s visiting FM Okada Katsuya called for joint efforts to mend ties between their countries as the Japanese minister offered a rare apology for Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of Korea. “Regarding what happened 100 years ago, Japan deprived Koreans of their nation and left a great wound on their national pride,” Okada told a joint press conference with Yu after their talks here. “I can understand the feelings of the people who were deprived of their nation and had their national pride damaged,” he added. “We should not forget the pain of the victims [of the colonialization].” The Japanese foreign minister was earlier misquoted by his interpreter as calling the Japanese colonial rule of Korea a “tragic incident.” Still, Okada’s remarks were widely viewed as an apology as the countries were set to mark this year the 100th anniversary of the start of Japan’s colonial rule of Korea. Okada also said the Tokyo government stands by a 1995 statement issued by then Japanese PM Murayama Tomiichi in which Japan offered a “heartfelt apology” for causing “tremendous damage and suffering to the people” of countries colonized or invaded by Japan. “Minister Okada and I noted the relationship between the two countries is becoming closer than ever and we agreed to further develop our relations while working to solve the issues related to the countries’ past history,” Yu told the press conference. Seoul and Tokyo established relations in 1965, but their ties have often been strained by what many South Koreans believed were Japanese attempts to whitewash its past wrongdoing. “While doing so (keeping in mind the past sufferings of Korean victims), I believe we must move toward building a truly friendly and future-oriented relationship for the next 100 years to come,” Okada told the press conference. (Byun Duk-kun, “S. Korea, Japan Call for Fresh Start, Resumption of 6-Way Talks,” Yonhap, February 11, 2010)

North Korea plans to open up 12 special zones for foreign investors in an attempt to shore up its crumbling economy, Dong-A Ilbo reported, quoting sources in China. It said the communist state’s parliament would pass a law next month declaring the zones in five or six cities – describing the move as a limited Chinese-style economic reform — said foreign firms would be allowed to rent cheaply for 50 years, either on their own or jointly with a local partner. Dong-A said the zones would be in cities including the capital Pyongyang, the southern border city of Kaesong which already has a Seoul-funded jointly-run industrial estate, Sinuiju on the northwestern border with China and Rason in the northeast near the Chinese and Russian border. Dong-A said Sinuiju would specialize in light industries, information technology and tourism. The North has already declared special zones in Sinuiju and Rason and it was unclear how the reported new law would change their status. A policy-setting New Year editorial stressed the need to develop light industry and agriculture to boost living standards, with the help of foreign investment. (AFP, “North Korea to Woo Foreign Investors,” February 11, 2010)

In a plenary session Thursday morning, the National Assembly’s Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee passed the North Korean Human Rights Law. All of the Democratic Party lawmakers who hold seats on the committee walked out after expressing their opposition to the bill and issued a statement condemning the law. The North Korean Human Rights Law calls for the establishment of an advisory committee for North Korean human rights within the Unification Ministry, the establishment of a North Korean human rights foundation to conduct studies on North Korean human rights, research policy and conducting activities to improve human rights in North Korea, provision of support for civic groups related to North Korean human rights, the submission of reports on North Korea’s human rights situation to the National Assembly and increasing limits for humanitarian aid to North Korea to prevent its use by the North Korean military. The DP the DP condemned the law, and criticized the ruling Grand National Party (GNP) for railroading the law through the committee, saying it plans to take committee Chairman Park Jin to the National Assembly Ethics Committee for ignoring their objections. In its statement the DP is saying the law would not contribute to improvements in North Korean human rights, rather, they are saying it is an ‘Anti-North Korean Citizens Law,’ and the North Korean government, who views the law as a threat to their government, could repress the actual human rights of North Koreans by strengthening its controls over them. The DP also says the law bans humanitarian aid to North Korea by strictly limiting humanitarian assistance and is a ‘New Right Support Bill’ to support groups that send balloons and pamphlets to North Korea under the guise of promoting North Korean human rights. DP Lawmaker Chung Dong-young said the current administration is setting as its departure point the Basic Agreement of 1991, signed during the Roh Tae-woo administration, but the law clashes with the spirit of the agreement, which calls on both countries not to slander or commit libel against the other country’s government. Chung asked whether the administration could hold an inter-Korean summit with this law in effect. Civic groups also slammed the law. Koo Kab-woo, head of the People’s Solidarity for a Participatory Democracy’s Center for Peace and Disarmament, said it is possible to address the North Korea human rights issue under the Inter-Korean Relations Development Law passed by the ruling and opposition parties in December 2005, and he does not understand why it was necessary to unilaterally pass the North Korean Human Rights Law at this time. Suh Bo-hyuk, research fellow of the Korea National Strategy Institute, said there is concern that by making the Ministry of Unification the primary body to handle North Korean human rights policy, the law could weaken the ability of the ministry to negotiate with North Korea and have an adverse effect on the development of inter-Korean relations and bringing about substantive improvements in North Korean human rights. (Hankyore, “GNP Lawmakers Pass North Korean Human Rights Law, February 12, 2010)

Despite talks of an inter-Korean summit in Seoul, the ruling GNP did what critics believe will dash any hope of a meaningful dialogue with North Korea. Of course, its proponents argue that a bill on North Korea was long overdue and will improve the life of ordinary North Koreans. The North Korean Human Rights bill was passed by GNP members of the National Assembly Foreign Affairs, Trade and Unification Committee. Some opposition members boycotted the vote, and more partisan fighting is expected during a parliamentary review. The bill would call for more transparency in the delivery, distribution and monitoring of aid to North Korea, and the creation of an ambassadorial post for North Korean Human Rights in the MOFAT. The bill would also establish the North Korean Human Rights Foundation and its mandate for keeping track of North Korean human rights violations and calls for funding for relevant non-governmental organizations. The bill is the third of its type following the United States and Japan but is more stringent than the two others. UnifMinHyun In-taek, called the passage “very meaningful because it provides a legal and institutional basis for establishing North Korean human rights policies and enables their systematic and effective implementation.” The main opposition Democratic Party vowed to veto the bill, with its members refusing to participate in the standing committee vote. The DP and other critics of the bill criticize the bill because they believe it is a politically-motivated legislation that does nothing to promote the exchange and cooperation needed to actually improve the lives of ordinary North Korean citizens. “Subjecting the provision of aid to increased transparency will result in the suffering of ordinary citizens because the North Korean regime would rather let their people starve than open itself up to the level of transparency the bill calls for,” Rep. Song-min soon of the DP said in a recent online essay. Alternatively, Song urged the government to increase inter-Korean contact and cooperation, establish a fund for supporting the settlement of North Korean defectors and opt for the forming of a resolution rather than a bill in criticizing North Korean human rights practices. The former foreign minister, who is known to have played a large part in drafting the foreign and inter-Korean policy sections of the “New Democratic Party Plan,” underlined that the bill runs counter to its original purpose. The DP party platform was announced earlier this month. (Do Je-hae, “Seoul’s N.K. Tights Bill Likely to Be Obstacle for Summit, Korea Times, February 16, 2010)


2/12/10:
North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator is expected to visit the United States next month on a trip that could signal the resumption of stalled six-way talks on the communist state’s denuclearization, a diplomatic source here said. Kim Kye-gwan, also North Korea’s vice foreign minister, has been in Beijing since Tuesday for discussions on ways to resume the nuclear talks with China’s former vice foreign minister Wu Dawei, who was named this week as the special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs. “I believe the dates for Kim’s trip to the United States have already been set,” the source said. (Yonhap, “Top N. Korean Nuclear Negotiator Set to Visit U.S. in March: Source,” February 12, 2010) Another source said Kim appears to have informed Washington of his intention to travel during his Beijing stay but added, “It’s not clear whether the United States had accepted the proposal.” South Korean nuclear officials said they couldn’t immediately confirm Kim’s traveling schedule. But they said earlier this week that they had been aware of Kim’s visit here “well ahead of time.” (Chang Se-jeong and Yoo Jee-ho, “North Envoy May Soon Visit U.S.for Nuclear Arms Talks,” JoongAng Ilbo, February 13, 2010)

DoS spokesman Philip Crowley: “Q: P.J., there’s some reporting out there that the North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Kye Gwan will be coming to the United States next month. Apparently, some sort of – possibly as a reciprocal visit for Bosworth, and also Lynn Pascoe’s mission to North Korea. He came back and he said that they seemed to be disinclined to return to the Six-Party Talks unless the sanctions by the UN are lifted. CROWLEY: On your – on the first issue, we have no plans for such a visit at this point. On the second, yeah – I mean, we have heard from the North Koreans that they recognize the importance of the Six-Party process. What we need now is for them to pull the trigger and actually come back to that process. Q: Good choice of words. CROWLEY: (Laughter.)CROWLEY: All right, all right. Of course, that’s the kind of trigger we think is appropriate to pull, as opposed to a trigger that fires something into the air that we think is destabilizing to the region. So they’re hesitating, and they shouldn’t. We think the – obviously, resolving the situation will require them to come back to the Six-Party process to take the kind of steps to meet the commitments that they’ve made in the past. We don’t see any other alternative to this. And it’s unfortunate that it would appear that they continue to hesitate. Q: You said there are no plans for a visit right now, but does that mean you’re discussing it somehow through the New York channel? CROWLEY: There’s no discussion that we’re having with North Korea about a visit at this point.” (DoS Daily Briefing, February 12, 2010)


2/13/10:
North Korea may take some time before it returns to six-nation talks on ending its nuclear program, but the communist nation certainly wants to improve its ties with South Korea, a senior U.N. official said after his trip to Pyongyang. Lynn Pascoe, under-secretary-general of the United Nations for political affairs, said he had a “fair amount of discussions” with North Koreans on ways to improve South-North ties. “I don’t really want to go into the details. Mainly the issue was that in general they did want to improve the relations (with South Korea), but the specifics are another issue, of course,” he told reporters after arriving at Incheon International Airport from China. The U.N. official had been on a four-day trip to the North Korean capital. “We think the trip was very useful. We worked quite hard to improve the reengagement with the North and the United Nations and I think in that we were quite successful,” he said. (Byun Duk-kun, “U.N. Official Says N. Korea Wants Improved Ties with Seoul,” Yonhap, February 13, 2010)

WikiLeaks cable: Monday, 22 February 2010, 08:54 see 2/3/10


2/14/10:
South Korea will press for the release of its nationals believed to be held in North Korea when the divided states hold reconciliation talks this year, a senior official said. Hundreds of South Korean prisoners of war remain in North Korea, according to the defense ministry, even though the North denies holding any from the 1950-53 Korean War. North Korea has also abducted over 480 South Koreans, mostly fishermen, since the three-year war ended in a truce, the Unification Ministry says. “This issue will be treated as an important topic along with the North Korean nuclear issue if South and North Korea start dialogue,” Vice UnifMin Hong Yang-ho said. “We have made preparations with the determination to make a breakthrough in these issues this year.” (Yonhap, “S. Korea to Seek Release of Nationals in Talks with North: Official,” February 14, 2010)


2/15/10:
Seoul has been pushing to launch security talks involving South Korea, China and Japan to discuss military and security matters in an effort to reinforce their cooperation in the region, a senior South Korean government official said. “Discussions are under way to launch security talks involving South Korea, China and Japan,” the official said, requesting anonymity. “We are mediating opinions of the related countries to push ahead with its launch by the end of this year.” The security body will be composed of senior-level military officials from the three nations who will regularly meet to discuss military and security issues in the region, the official said. (Yonhap, “S. Korea, Japan, and China Seeking to Establish Security Talks,” February 15, 2010)

China is arranging a huge foreign investment deal to revive North Korea’s faltering economy amid an international drive to coax Pyongyang back to nuclear disarmament talks, Yonhap reported. Beijing is helping the communist state obtain more than 10 billion dollars in investment from Chinese banks and multinational firms. The deal was discussed a week ago when North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il met China’s senior communist party official Wang Jiarui, it said. A North Korean body known as the Korea Taepung International Investment Group plans to conclude the deal in March, Yonhap said, adding that Chinese capital would account for 60 percent of total investments. (AFP, “China Arranging Foreign Investment Deal for N. Korea: Report,” February 15, 2010)


2/16/10:
North Korea’s nominal head of state Kim Young-nam says Pyongyang will end hostile relations with the United States through dialogue and negotiations. The conciliatory rhetoric came in a speech in Pyongyang marking the 68th birthday of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il today. The no. 2 leader also said that North Korea stands “steadfast” in improving relations with South Korea and paving a way to reunification. (Chosun Ilbo, “N. Korea Wants to ‘End Hostility’ with U.S.,” February 16, 2010)

A U.S. scholar said Tuesday that North Korea could produce up to 14 to 18 nuclear warheads by 2019 if multilateral talks on its denuclearization fail. In a report, titled “Four Scenarios for a Nuclear North Korea,” Joel Wit, visiting fellow at the U.S. Korea Institute at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, said that North Korea’s “current nuclear stockpile is believed to consist of sufficient plutonium to build four to eight weapons.” He was quoted as saying by Yonhap, “By using existing stocks of fresh fuel, North Korea could produce a bomb’s worth of plutonium each year from 2011 to 2013.” Wit continued: “If North Korea is able to refurbish its fuel fabrication plant, that production rate could continue indefinitely with its arsenal reaching 14 to 18 weapons by 2019.” The Korea Institute for Defense Analyses reported in December that the North’s military could accelerate efforts to deploy a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile and mass produce warheads. The report said Pyongyang would likely conduct a third nuclear test this year in an effort to be recognized by the international community as a nuclear state. “Compared to the first test held in October 2006, the second (conducted on May 25, 2008) was evaluated to yield 4 kilotons of explosive power, five times more than the first one,” it said. “This means North Korea has secured a substantial capability to make nuclear weapons.” (Jung Sung-ki, “’N. Korea to Possess 14-18 Nuclear Warheads by 2019,” Korea Times, February 17, 2010)


2/17/10:
Wikileaks cable: Monday, 22 February 2010, 09:32

S E C R E T SEOUL 000272

SIPDIS

EO 12958 DECL: 02/22/2034

TAGS PREL, PGOV, KNNP, ECON, SOCI, KS, KN, JA, CH

SUBJECT: VFM CHUN YOUNG-WOO ON SINO-NORTH KOREAN RELATIONS

Classified By: AMB D. Kathleen Stephens. Reasons 1.4 (b/d).

Summary

  1. South Korea’s vice Foreign Minister Chun Yung-woo tells the Americans that senior Chinese officials have told him that China is fed up with the North Korean regime’s behaviour and would not oppose Korean reunification. Chun says North Korea has already collapsed economically and will collapse politically when Kim Jong-il dies. Key passage highlighted in yellow.

Summary

  1. (S) Vice Foreign Minister Chun Yung-woo told the Ambassador February 17th that China would not be able to stop North Korea‘s collapse following the death of Kim Jong-il (KJI). The DPRK, Chun said, had already collapsed economically and would collapse politically two to three years after the death of Kim Jong-il. Chun dismissed ROK media reports that Chinese companies had agreed to pump 10 billion USD into the North’s economy. Beijing had “no will” to use its modest economic leverage to force a change in Pyongyang’s policies — and the DPRK characterized as “the most incompetent official in China” — had retained his position as chief of the PRC’s 6PT delegation. Describing a generational difference in Chinese attitudes toward North Korea, Chun claimed XXXXXXXXXXXX believed Korea should be unified under ROK control. Chun acknowledged the Ambassador’s point that a strong ROK-Japan relationship would help Tokyo accept a reunified Korean Peninsula. End summary.

VFM Chun on Sino-North Korean Relations…

  1. (S) During a February 17 lunch hosted by Ambassador Stephens that covered other topics (septel), ROK Vice Foreign Minister and former ROK Six-Party Talks (6PT) Head of Delegation Chun Yung-woo predicted that China would not be able to stop North Korea’s collapse following the death of Kim Jong-il (KJI). The DPRK, Chun said, had already collapsed economically; following the death of KJI, North Korea would collapse politically in “two to three years.” Chun dismissed ROK media reports that Chinese companies had agreed to pump 10 billion USD into the North’s economy; there was “no substance” to the reports, he said. The VFM also ridiculed the Chinese foreign ministry’s “briefing” to the ROK embassy in Beijing on Wang Jiarui’s visit to North Korea; the unidentified briefer had “basically read a Xinhua press release,” Chun groused, adding that the PRC interlocutor had been unwilling to answer simple questions like whether Wang had flown to Hamhung or taken a train there to meet KJI.
  2. (S) The VFM commented that China had far less influence on North Korea “than most people believe.” Beijing had “no will” to use its economic leverage to force a change in Pyongyang’s policies and the DPRK leadership “knows it.” Chun acknowledged that the Chinese genuinely wanted a denuclearized North Korea, but the PRC was also content with the status quo. Unless China pushed North Korea to the “brink of collapse,” the DPRK would likely continue to refuse to take meaningful steps on denuclearization.

XXXXXXXXXXXX

  1. (S) Turning to the Six Party Talks, Chun said it was “a very bad thing” that Wu Dawei had retained his position as chief of the PRC’s delegation. XXXXXXXXX said it appeared that the DPRK “must have lobbied extremely hard” for the now-retired Wu to stay on as China’s 6PT chief. [NAME REMOVED] complained that Wu is the PRC’s XXXXXXXXXXXX an arrogant, Marx-spouting former Red Guard who “knows nothing about North Korea, nothing about nonproliferation and is hard to communicate with because he doesn’t speak English.” Wu was also a hardline nationalist, loudly proclaiming — to anyone willing to listen — that the PRC’s economic rise represented a “return to normalcy” with China as a great world power.

. China’s “New Generation” of Korea-Hands…

  1. (S) Sophisticated Chinese officials XXXXXXXXXXXX stood in sharp contrast to Wu, according to VFM Chun.XXXXXXXXXXXX Chun claimed XXXXXXXXXX believed Korea should be unified under ROK control.XXXXXXXXXXXX, Chun said, were ready to “face the new reality” that the DPRK now had little value to China as a buffer state — a view that since North Korea’s 2006 nuclear test had reportedly gained traction among senior PRC leaders.

. PRC Actions In A DPRK Collapse Scenario…

  1. (S) Chun argued that, in the event of a North Korean collapse, China would clearly “not welcome” any U.S. military presence north of the DMZ. XXXXXXXXXXXX Chun XXXXXXXXXXXX said the PRC would be comfortable with a reunified Korea controlled by Seoul and anchored to the United States in a “benign alliance” — as long as Korea was not hostile towards China. Tremendous trade and labor-export opportunities for Chinese companies, Chun said, would also help salve PRC concerns about living with a reunified Korea. Chundismissed the prospect of a possible PRC military intervention in the event of a DPRK collapse, noting that China’s strategic economic interests now lie with the United States, Japan, and South Korea — not North Korea. Moreover, Chun argued, bare-knuckle PRC military intervention in a DPRK internal crisis could “strengthen the centrifugal forces in China’s minority areas.”

.and Japan

  1. (S) Chun acknowledged the Ambassador’s point that a strong ROK-Japan relationship would help Tokyo accept a reunified Korean Peninsula under Seoul’s control. Chun asserted that, even though “Japan’s preference” was to keep Korea divided, Tokyo lacked the leverage to stop reunification in the event the DPRK collapses. STEVENS

S E C R E T SEOUL 000273 2/22/11

SUBJECT: VFM CHUN WARNS THAT ROK-U.S. CIVILIAN NUCLEAR COOPERATION AGREEMENT RENEGOTIATION COULD BECOME “DEFINING” ISSUE IN BILATERAL RELATIONS

1. (S) Vice Foreign Minister Chun Yung-woo told the Ambassador February 17th that revising the ROK-U.S. Civilian Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (CNCA) could soon become a “defining issue” in ROK-U.S. relations. The issue, he warned, was already drawing significant amounts of negative press attention and had to be handled skillfully. The ROK was now one of the world’s top five nuclear power producers; other members of that “club,” including Japan, all had the capability to reprocess spent fuel. Public opinion would not tolerate the perception that Korea was being discriminated against vis-a-vis Japan, Chun emphasized. The ROKG view of the way forward was for very quiet negotiations, with no publicity, resulting in a USG agreement that Korea had the right to reprocess. That, Chun claimed, would defuse critics and shift public debate to the issue of cost. The budget-busting cost of a reprocessing facility meant that the ROK would not actually reprocess spent fuel “during the next 20 years, although a reprocessing facility would eventually be built, likely near Kyongju. Negotiations had to begin in the second half of 2010, Chun argued, with the USG represented by an ambassadorial-level official. End Summary. 2. (S) This was an unusually strong presentation from an able and experienced diplomat with a strong affinity for the United States. Koreans, and the Lee Myung-bak Administration in particular, are extremely proud of having won the recent nuclear reactor contract for the United Arab Emirates, and view the nuclear industry as both a source of national pride and a significant contributor to the economy. Chun’s presentation over lunch was probably an opening gambit rather than the ROKG’s bottom line, and we do not agree with the way that Chun characterized various aspects of this complicated issue, but he is right to flag the potential for damage to the overall bilateral relationship if the United States is perceived here as hamstringing the ROK effort to develop its nuclear industry. This will need careful handling. End Comment. 3. (S) During a February 17 lunch hosted by Ambassador Stephens that covered other topics (septel), ROK Vice Foreign Minister Chun Yung-woo emphasized the urgent need to revise the ROK-U.S. Civilian Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (CNCA), which is set to expire in 2014. The issue, he warned, was already drawing significant amounts of negative press attention and attracting “grandstanding politicians” like Liberty Forward leader Lee Hoi-chang, who earlier in the day had publicly lectured a MOFAT Director-General about the need to “regain our nuclear sovereignty.” The ROK was now one of world’s top five nuclear power producers/users; other members of that “club,” including Japan, all had the capability to reprocess spent fuel. Public opinion would not tolerate Korea being discriminated against vis-a-vis Japan, Chun emphasized. 4. (S) Chun asserted that revising the CNCA could, in time, become a “defining issue” in ROK-U.S. relations. It had to be handled with tact, skill, and “very little publicity,” Chun stressed. Summarizing the ROKG view of the issue, the VFM said political conservatives strongly believe the ROK unfairly forfeited its right to reprocess spent fuel by signing the 1992 “Joint Declaration of South and North Korea on Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” With the rapid growth and sophistication of the ROK civilian nuclear energy industry, Chun said, it now made economic sense for the ROK to consider reprocessing. 5. (S) The CNCA needed to be revised to permit reprocessing and completed by the end of 2013 at the latest but preferably by the end of 2012, according to the vice foreign minister. Simply renewing the agreement would be unacceptable, Chun said, explaining that renewal would be viewed “as a fiasco” by politicians across the political spectrum. Chun asserted that the ROK should quickly be given the right to reprocess. That, he explained, would defuse critics and shift public debate to the issue of cost. The estimated USD 10 billion, budget-busting price tag of a reprocessing facility meant that the ROK would not actually reprocess any spent fuel “during the next 20 years,” according to Chun, who added that building a storage facility was a lot cheaper. 6. (S) At some future point, though, Korea would have to build a reprocessing facility, Chun continued. Even if the United States, China, or Russia agreed to store ROK spent fuel, transporting it was costly and potentially dangerous, as environmental protesters would be out in force at key Korean ports. The Korean Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation (KHNPC), Chun said, would probably build a reprocessing facility near Kyongju and the massive Wolsong nuclear power site. The KHNPC has already publicly pledged to move its headquarters to Kyongju, Chun explained, adding that the KHNPC would likely “sell” the reprocessing facility to the public as a potential hub of high-tech, high-paying jobs that would be a huge boost to the local economy. 7. (S) In terms of the negotiation process, Chun said the joint feasibility study on pyroprocessing was a good start. (Note: Post delivered a non-paper January 22 outlining the conditions under which the U.S. would be able to undertake with the ROK a joint study of the technical, economic, and non-proliferation aspects of pyroprocessing. We are still awaiting a formal response from the ROKG. End note.) The study, though, would take at least two years. Chun stressed that the two sides “can’t just wait and leave it to the experts.” Formal talks had to begin in the second half of 2010, Chun argued. The lead ROK negotiator was Deputy Foreign Minister Cho Hyun, an ambassadorial-level official; the State Department, Chun said, needed to appoint an ambassador as Cho’s counterpart. It would be unacceptable to the ROK to have the United States represented by a State Department office director-level official, Chun stressed. STEPHENS 2/18/10:
Former North Korean agent Kim Hyon Hui told Japanese officials last May that she had met Yokota Megumi, who was abducted to North Korea in 1977, according to Nakai Hiroshi, state minister in charge of the abduction issue. Nakai was quoted as saying during a meeting of lawmakers handling the abduction issue that he will try to invite Kim to Japan because Yokota’s parents want to meet her. According to lawmakers who attended the meeting, Nakai said Kim, 48, made the remarks about meeting Yokota when she was questioned last May by Foreign Ministry and National Police Agency officials sent from Tokyo to South Korea, where the former North Korean operative now lives. Nakai only learned about Kim’s remarks recently, he was quoted as saying. Last March, when Kim met with the brother and son of another Japanese abductee, Taguchi Yaeko, in Busan, she said at a news conference, “Megumi was teaching Japanese to my fellow agent, Kim Suk Ki, and I’ve seen a photo of the two taken together.” Kim also said, “She married a South Korean, gave birth to a daughter and has been admitted to a hospital, but I was told that her condition was not that severe.” Kim was convicted of the 1987 downing of a South Korean jetliner. (Kyodo, “Spy Admitted Meeting Yokota in the North: Nagai,” Japan Times, February 18, 2010)

WikiLeaks cable: Thursday, 18 February 2010, 04:57 see 2/3/10

The envisioned forestation project in North Korea, one of the Lee administration’s key policy objectives, is still far from being realized as Seoul has no plans to discuss it with the North yet. A North Korean point man on South Korea had sought to meet with Seoul’s head of a presidential panel to discuss the tree planting plan among others, but Seoul turned down the request. Won Dong-yeon, deputy director of the United Front Department under the North Korean Workers’ Party, had conveyed through authorities that he would like to meet with Goh Kun, chief of the Presidential Committee on Social Cohesion, in Beijing early this month, sources said. Won’s proposal came after the presidential panel last month announced as one of its 10 major tasks a bipartisan forestation project in North Korea. The meeting with Goh never happened, and Won blamed it on Seoul’s Unification Ministry during a meeting with South Korean NGO figures in Beijing, according to Kim Kyu-chul, representative of civic group South-North Forum. Won claimed that the ministry broke agreements between special envoys on a summit and rice aid to the North, Kim said. The North Korean official also accused Seoul of making public remarks on a summit “for its own needs, when a summit must be prepared in strict confidence.” The project is something that can be discussed in working-level talks and besides, Won Dong-yeon is of a lower rank compared to Goh, a former prime minister who currently assumes a post of prime ministerial level,” said Yang Moo-jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies. “But what is most important for the tree planting scheme is our government’s will. If realized, it can greatly help improve inter-Korean relations as the South would have to hire North Korean workers to look after the trees.” The forestation project in North Korea has been on the Lee administration’s list of major policy tasks for the past two years. UnifMin Hyun In-taek said his government will push for the forestation project as a top priority in inter-Korean cooperation once the two sides begin a full-fledged dialogue. “Inter-Korean cooperation for forestation would be related to our aid to the North and ultimately to the North’s economic development,” Hyun said in a conference on the tree planting scheme early this month. “The South and North must share a long-term vision for green growth in order to achieve sustainable growth after unification amidst the global climate change.” About 2.84 million hectares, or 32 percent of the 8.99-million-hectare forest area in the North, were without trees in 2008. Compared to 1999, the treeless area increased by 1.21 million hectares, about 20 times the size of Seoul. (Kim So-hyun, “Seoul Not Ready for N.K. Reforestation,” Korea Herald, February 19, 2010) North Korea is still demanding rice and fertilizer in return for an inter-Korean summit, even as it keeps sending increasingly urgent messages to Seoul to bring such a summit about. Since a secret meeting between South Korean Labor Minister Yim Tae-hee and Kim Yang-gon, the director of the KWP’s United Front Department, in Singapore in October, “North Korea has kept asking us for a huge amount of economic aid in return for arranging a meeting” between President Lee Myung-bak and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, a South Korean government source said. But the North seems to have no interest in giving in to South Korean demands to put denuclearization and the repatriation of prisoners of war and abduction victims on the summit agenda. “The North basically wants economic gain in return for letting us make political use of an inter-Korean summit for the upcoming local elections” on June 2, the source said. “It seems that the North still feels nostalgic for the Sunshine Policy,” which netted it huge benefits over the past decade. In another secret meeting between South Korea’s Unification Ministry and the North Korean Workers’ Party’s United Front Department in November, the North again insisted on specifying humanitarian aid in an agreement to be signed at an inter-Korean summit. (Chosun Ilbo, “N. Korea Still Expects Payment for Summit,” February 26, 2010)


2/19/10:
North Korea has raised the possibility of a further show of force in the East and Yellow seas by temporarily designating six regions along its maritime border with South Korea as “naval firing zones,” a government Web site said. North Korea has unilaterally notified the South it will conduct artillery fire drills in four areas in the Yellow Sea and two areas in the East Sea for three days from Saturday, Seoul’s National Oceanographic Research Institute said on its Web site. The designated regions are all in North Korea’s own territory, north of the Northern Limit Line. “North Korea has warned South Korean ships via the Navtex service to stay clear of the areas from 7 a.m. through 8 p.m. through Monday,” the oceanographic research institute said. (Yonhap, “N. Korea Again Designates ‘Naval Firing Zones’ along Sea Border,” February 19, 2010)

KCNA: “Piffles that ‘economic reward’ will be given to the DPRK if it dismantles its nuclear weapons are heard from countries around the Korean Peninsula these days. Some of them have gone the lengths of talking nonsense that it is necessary to stop giving such rewards as providing foodstuff, fuel, loan, etc., if the DPRK persistently refuses to dismantle its nuclear weapons and they ‘will not use money for persuading it into returning to the six-party talks.’ In a word, their utterances mean giving sort of ‘economic reward’ to the DPRK in return for the dismantlement of its nukes. This is nothing but sophism that can be let loose only by the worst fools in the world who do not know how things are going there. The DPRK had access to the nuclear deterrent by spending a stupendous amount of money while tightening belt and weathering out all sorts of difficulties and ordeals. This was a measure for self-defense to cope with the U.S. nuclear threat. This is aimed neither to threaten others nor to get any ‘economic benefit’ or reward. Those who talked the above-said nonsense are sadly mistaken if they think the DPRK may do such a stupid thing as dismantling its nukes in anticipation of ‘economic reward’ from outsiders. The DPRK’s dismantlement of its nuclear weapons can never happen even if the earth is broken to pieces unless the hostile policy towards the DPRK is rolled back and the nuclear threat to it removed. This is the consistent independent stand and principle of the DPRK. The hostile forces including the U.S. are now working hard to force the DPRK to disarm itself and pursuing extreme confrontation with it. They are under an increasing pressure from their own countries and other parts of the world to withdraw the nuclear weapons deployed by them there. Much upset by this development, the U.S. is becoming vociferous about the DPRK’s nuclear activity in a bid to use it as a pretext for steadily bolstering up its nuclear weapons. All facts go to prove that the master key to truly breaking the deadlock in the process to settle the nuclear issue on the peninsula lies in the U.S. drop of its hostile policy towards the DPRK. The DPRK’s nuclear deterrent for self-defense will remain as ever and grow more powerful to protect the sovereignty and dignity of the nation as long as the U.S. nuclear threat and hostile policy persist. Those who talk about ‘economic reward’ to the DPRK in return for the dismantlement of its nuclear weapons would be well advised to awake from their daydream. (KCNA, “KCNA Snubs Call For DPRK’s Dismantlement of Its Nukes,” February 19, 2010)


2/19/10:
DoS spokesman Philip Crowley: “There are no plans right now for North Korean officials to come to the United States, nor for U.S. officials to meet with North Koreans.” Diplomatic sources here said that discussions are under way regarding Kim’s U.S. visit. “No decision, however, has been made yet on that,” a source said. Crowley dismissed the report that Kim’s delegation contacted U.S. officials in Beijing. “We did not have a meeting (with North Koreans) in China,” he said. (Hwang Doo-hyong, “U.S. Has No Immediate Plans for High-Level Contact with N. Korea: State Dept.,” Yonhap, February 20, 2010)


2/22/10:
Wikileaks cable: Monday, 22 February 2010, 09:32 see 2/17/10

DoS Spokesman Philip J. Crowley: Ambassador Steve Bosworth and Sung Kim will depart Washington tomorrow for consultations with our partners in the Six-Party process. They will make stops in Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo. I don’t have specific dates for their travel, where they will be at each stop. But as part of – and as part of our ongoing consultation, Secretary Clinton will host Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan here at the State Department on Friday. I’m sure we’ll have a press availability following that bilateral. … Q: Can I just ask briefly on Bosworth? … Any other planned – any other travel? I mean, that’s not all of the party – all of the partners are not there. CROWLEY: No, that’s — Q: No Russia? CROWLEY: No Russia. Q: No North Korea? CROWLEY: No. … Q: Can I go back to North Korea?… Is there any possibility that Ambassador Bosworth and Sung Kim met with North Korean interlocutors in —CROWLEY: No. Q: — Beijing or other places? And — CROWLEY: They will be going to Beijing. I do not expect them to go to Pyongyang. Q: And U.S. has been waiting for North Korea signal that they are going to come back to Six-Party Talks. Has there been any change on this position from North Korea? CROWLEY: Well, I think that’s one of the reasons we’re going to consult with our counterparts in Beijing, our counterparts in Korea and in Japan. In a couple of cases, there have been meetings recently with North Korean officials, and we’re going to be consulting to see where we think we stand in the process. Q: But there has been no decision made so far about resumption of Six-Party Talk or additional U.S.-North Korean — CROWLEY: Again, we are looking for a signal from North Korea, and we’re still waiting for that signal. (DoS Daily Briefing, Assistant Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley, February 22, 2010)

South Africa notified the UN Security Council’s panel monitoring sanctions imposed on North that it recently seized a shipment of North Korean arms bound for Congo in violation of UN resolutions, diplomats said. One diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said spare parts for tanks were seized last November. Another Western diplomat, who also asked not to be named, said the South Africans acted after being tipped off by a French shipping company that it was ferrying suspicious cargo to the Republic of Congo. An inspection by South African authorities determined the cargo contained spare parts for T-54 and T-55 tanks, the diplomat added. (AFP, “S. Africa Seized N. Korean Arms,” February 24, 2010) News reports say the letter details the shipment’s route, saying it was first loaded onto a ship in China and then transferred to a French-owned ship in Malaysia. At a regular FoMin briefing in Beijing, spokesman Qin Gang said China has noted the reports and is “looking into the issue.” (Stephanie Ho, “China Investigating Whether It Helped North Korea Violate U.N. Sanctions,” VOA News, February 25, 2010)

The United States has informally told Japan that it will retire its sea-based Tomahawk cruise missiles carrying nuclear warheads, in line with President Barack Obama’s policy to pursue a world free of nuclear weapons, Japanese government sources said. Washington said the move would not affect its “nuclear umbrella.” The retirement policy will likely be stipulated in the Nuclear Posture Review. The nuclear-tipped Tomahawk was loaded on nuclear-powered U.S. submarines that called in Japan during the Cold War era, but later removed for storage at bases on the U.S. mainland for possible deployment in the event of a contingency, according to U.S. nuclear experts. (Kyodo, “U.S. to Retire Nuclear Tomahawk Missiles,” Japan Told,” February 22, 2010)

Life expectancy in the North fell by 3.4 years to 69.3 since 1993, according to statistics released by the UN from a census conducted in 2008. The figures showed infant mortality rose from 14 per 1,000 live births in 1993 to 19, while the maternal mortality rate grew from 54 to 77 deaths per 100,000 live births. The census, conducted with help from the United Nations Population Fund, found that North Korea’s population had increased from 21.2 million to 24.05 million over the 15 year period between the two censuses, despite a famine in the mid- to late 1990s which is believed to have killed hundreds of thousands of people. (Al Jazeera, “North Korea Life Expectancy Falls, February 22, 2010)

China urged the United States and North Korea to step up efforts to restart stalled nuclear disarmament talks, as US and South Korean envoys to the six-party talks were due in Beijing this week for meetings with their Chinese counterparts. “We encourage multilateral and bilateral meetings and dialogue… on this issue, China adopts a supportive and positive attitude,” FoMin spokesman Qin Gang told reporters. Such contact between the United States and North Korea “will be conducive to the early resumption of the six-party talks and ensure the peace and stability of northeast Asia and the Korean peninsula,” he said. Qin said US special envoy Stephen Bosworth would hold talks with Chinese Vice FM Wu Dawei in Beijing tomorrow. South Korea’s chief negotiator Wi Sung-Lac was also expected in Beijing today and would hold talks with Wu. Meanwhile, a senior North Korean Communist Party official, Kim Yong-Il, held talks today with his Chinese counterpart Wang Jiarui and met President Hu Jintao, China Central Television reported. Yonhap said the North Korean official was likely to deliver a letter from leader Kim Jong-Il to Hu. (AFP, “China Encourages U.S., North Korea to Meet,” February 23, 2010)


2/23/10:
South Koreans’ perception of North Korea has worsened to a level not seen since before Seoul adopted a more open-arms policy toward Pyongyang in the late 1990s, according to a survey of 1,000 South Korean adults by the Korea Institute of National Unification conducted last November. The survey showed that 56.4 percent have a negative perception about North Korea. Only 31.1 percent had such a view on North Korea in 2005, the last time the survey was taken. “The results reflect [South Koreans’ disenchantment about] the series of North Korean provocations, including the second nuclear test [in 2009], and the deteriorating inter-Korean relations,” said Choi Jin-wook, head of the Center for South-North Korean Cooperation Studies under the institute. Nearly 70 percent said they feel threatened by North Korea’s nuclear weapons, and nine out of 10 said they were pessimistic that the North would abandon its nuclear arms. Nearly 90 percent of the surveyed said they would like to see a summit take place. “Many South Koreans feel the North is responsible for strained inter-Korean relations,” Choi said. “But they would like to see the government pursue dialogue rather than put pressure on North Korea.” (Yoo Jee-ho, “South Korean View of North Takes Nosedive,” JoongAng Ilbo, February 23, 2010)


2/24/10:
Speaking in Beijing, the U.S. Special Representative for North Korea, Stephen Bosworth, said his talks with Chinese counterpart Wu Dawei had addressed how to “try to regain momentum and get back to the negotiating table.” Bosworth is visiting China and then South Korea and Japan as North Korea’s neighbors seek to restart stalled negotiations aimed at ending the isolated country’s nuclear weapons program. “I think everybody shares the view that it is important to get back to the negotiating table as soon as possible,” he told reporters at a short news briefing, but added it would be premature to disclose how negotiations could be boosted. (Chris Buckley, “U.S. Envoy Says Seeking Fresh Momentum on North Korea,” Reuters, February 24, 2010)

Pyongyang’s recent change in attitude on the six-party talks and economic reforms followed an unexpectedly harsh reaction from China over North Korea’s nuclear test in May last year, diplomatic sources said. The Communist Party of China (CPC) told North Korea to reform and open up its economy, end its hereditary succession of political power and abandon its nuclear development programs, according to party sources. Before the test, Pyongyang sent Chang Sung Taek, a National Defense Commission member and Kim Jong Il’s younger brother-in-law, to China in early May to explain that North Korea had nominated Kim’s third son, Jong Un, as his successor, according to North Korean sources. After the test, Chang visited China again in late May. Only Wang Jiarui, director of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, met Chang. Wang conveyed China’s three requests to North Korea. According to diplomatic sources in Beijing, China suspended its dispatches of high-ranking government officials and delegations to North Korea. Beijing also sent home some of the North Korean researchers and staff members at Chinese companies and universities. China underscored its disapproval of North Korea’s nuclear test in the Huanqiu Shibao (Global Times), a newspaper affiliated with the People’s Daily, the organ of the CPC Central Committee. One headline in the newspaper read, “Don’t play with fire anymore.” A North Korean source in Beijing said, “We had never seen such a strong reaction from China.” North Korea on June 10 sent Jong Un to China, accompanied by a military delegation led by Chang. “With Jong Un’s visit to China, Pyongyang apparently wanted Beijing, which is against the hereditary succession, to recognize him as the successor. Pyongyang also sought China’s understanding on the nuclear experiment,” a CPC source said. After the visit, exchanges of senior officials between the two countries resumed. Dai Bingguo, China’s state councilor who oversees foreign policy, visited North Korea on September 16, immediately after China abruptly closed a pipeline that supplies crude oil to North Korea. [??] The pipeline, which runs from Dandong, Liaoning province, supplies more than 90 percent of North Korea’s crude oil demand. “The move was designed to ensure the success of Dai’s visit by severing (North Korea’s) lifeline and exerting pressure,” a source close to the CPC said. Dai’s mission was to keep North Korea from abandoning the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program, which were last held in December 2008. In a meeting with Dai, Kim Jong Il said: “North Korea wants to solve (the denuclearization issue) through bilateral and multilateral dialogue.” In October, Premier Wen Jiabao traveled to Pyongyang after careful preparations. Still, Kim only indicated that the United States should improve its relations with North Korea before Pyongyang returns to the six-party talks. Wen promised food aid worth $21 million (1.92 billion yen) but withheld plans for projects totaling billions of dollars, such as railways, factories and housing development, in North Korea. Chinese officials expect Kim will declare his intention to return to the six-party framework when he visits China in the near future. “If we leave things as they are, the six-party framework could collapse,” a source close to the Chinese government said. “We cannot let Kim visit China empty-handed.” North Korea, meanwhile, has eased up on its refusal to reform and open its economy. In December, Kim inspected Rason city in northeastern North Korea, a special economic zone, and instructed officials to expand trade with other countries. On January 20, Kim announced the establishment of a national development bank to invite foreign companies to set up plants in North Korea. (Minemura Kenji, “N. Korea Squirms after China Raps Test,” Asahi Shimbun, February 24, 2010) [CCP party school making believe China made things happen, strains credulity by ignoring Clinton visit, currency, lack of 6PT]


2/25/10:
North Korea will likely continue to stay away from six-nation talks on ending its nuclear weapons programs for some time, Seoul’s chief nuclear negotiator said, noting there still is a wide gap between the communist North and other nations on conditions for the resumption of negotiations. “What everyone is trying to do now is to find ways to resume the six-party talks, so I believe it is important for the countries to work together to make sure their efforts will lead to a positive outcome,” Wi Sung-lac told reporters shortly after a meeting with U.S. special representative for North Korea policy Stephen Bosworth. The South Korean official said the continued stalemate is mainly due to North Korea’s continued demands for the removal of U.N. sanctions and start of negotiations for a peace treaty, both of which have been rejected by Seoul. “What I heard (about North Korea’s demands) in Beijing was almost the same as what I heard before leaving Seoul,” Wi told reporters. “We could not see any significant changes (to North Korea’s demands),” an official said earlier regarding the outcome of Wi’s meeting with China’s special envoy for Korean affairs. (Byun Duk-kun, “Resumption of N. Korean Talks Unlikely in Near Future: Nuclear Envoys,” February 25, 2010)

The Ministry of Unification has revised its policy to take a tougher stance on North Korea’s nuclear program, a ministry official said. The decision was made at a meeting of the Committee on the Development of Inter-Korean Relations, and is South Korea’s first policy change since President Lee Myung-bak took office two years ago. “Since the Lee administration was inaugurated in early 2008, many things such as the suspension of inter-Korean talks and North Korea’s second nuclear test have taken place,” UnifMin Hyun In-taek said before the meeting. “So, we reached the conclusion that we cannot carry out the existing North Korea policy anymore.” The original plan was scheduled to stay intact until 2012. The ministry plans to submit the revision to a Cabinet meeting and the National Assembly. (Kim Sue-young, “N.K. Denuclearization Top Priority of Revision,” Korea Times, February 25, 2010)

KPA General Staff spokesman: “Currently, a touch-and-go dangerous situation, in which a war may break out any moment, is being created on the Korean peninsula due to brigandish US imperialists and South Korean puppet warmongers’ reckless war maneuver. Ignoring our repeated warnings, the enemies finally announced that they would stage the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises, which are northward aggression war exercises, from 8 March. Massive forces of some 18,000-strong forces, including over 10,000 troops of the US aggression forces forcibly occupying South Korea, and state-of-the-art arms and equipment are to be intensively committed to the joint military exercises. [Also,] army corps-level, fleet command-level, and flying corps-level units of the South Korean puppets and even civilian forces are to be mobilized. The enemies describe [the joint military exercises] as annual exercises and defense, but [the exercises] are pilot operations and nuclear war exercises aimed at a surprise, preemptive attack on our Republic to all intents and purposes. It is by no means coincidental that South Korean puppet warmongers, who colluded with the US imperialists, have been frantically staging training under all kinds of pretexts, including mid-winter tactical training, and large-scale joint ground training, from the beginning of the year, while recklessly saying that they will launch a preemptive attack by picking on our self-defensive nuclear deterrent. This by itself revealed that the US imperialists and South Korean puppet warmongers are the ones who are war fanatics trying to bring in dark clouds of a nuclear war to our sacred land, while only pursuing aggravation of tension and confrontation. We will not just keep looking at today’s grave situation created by the provokers. Each heart of our military and people, who hold a deep grudge that has built up for more than half a century due to the aggressors, is strongly seething with soaring hatred and rage against the enemies that are igniting fire to a fuse of war, while giving off the smell of gunpowder, on this land today. If the US imperialists and South Korean puppet warmongers carry out the aggressive joint military exercises despite our repeated warnings, we will respond to them with our powerful military counteraction, and if necessary, we will mercilessly beat to a muddy place the stronghold of aggression by mobilizing all the offensive and defensive means, including nuclear deterrent.” (DPRK Radio, “KPA General Staff Spokesman’s Press Statement on ROK-US Joint Exercises,” February 25, 2010)


2/26/10:
Bosworth: Q: Are you willing to have direct bilateral talks with the DPRK once more if she [North Korea] promises to come back to the Six-Party Talks? BOSWORTH: Well, that depends on the nature of what happens afterwards. We have said that we are not philosophically opposed to further bilateral contacts with the DPRK, but only within the framework of the Six-Party Talks, and we must be confident that it will in fact lead to a prompt resumption of the Six-Party Process. But I am not going to speculate today as to when or whether we would entertain that. That is a subject that we are, we will be discussing with our partners. Q: You said that there are many items from the 2005 Joint Statement that you want to pursue. Does that include beginning talks on a peace treaty, and does that mean to offer North Korea that it could, such discussions could take place as soon as the Six-Party Talks resume? BOSWORTH: Well, what we have said is that obviously all parties are committed to working on the topics that are set forth in the Joint Statement, and first and foremost among those, of course, is denuclearization. But we also recognize that it will be important to begin discussions on questions regarding the peace treaty, establishment of diplomatic relations, and the issues of economic and energy assistance to North Korea. And, we are prepared to do that in the normal course of events once we have come back in the Six-Party Process, and once we have begun to make some significant progress once again on denuclearization. Q: Did you see, did you find a kind of positive side from the DPRK with regard to rejoining the Six-Party Talks after [inaudible] recent visit to the DPRK? BOSWORTH: Well, we did not have direct contacts with the DPRK in, from Beijing. Q: But did it go through China? BOSWORTH: I think China has been working hard to, as the Chair of the Six-Party Process, to bring about an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks, and obviously as we all know they have had a number of contacts with the DPRK. But I am not going to try to speculate or comment on the results of those contacts, only to say that we remain of the view that we are prepared to come back to the Six-Party Process as soon as possible. (Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, Remarks to the Press upon Departure from Seoul,” Incheon, February 26, 2010)


2/25/10:
Two shipping containers loaded at a Chinese port and bound on a ship for the Congo Republic carrying what the manifest called “bulldozers” were found to be transporting North Korean parts for T-54 and T-55 tanks and other military equipment in violation of international sanctions, diplomats at the United Nations said . South Africa, which made the discovery in November, presented a rough summary of the episode in a two-page letter sent this week to the special Security Council committee focused on sanctions against North Korea. The two containers containing parts for T-54 and T-55 tanks, shipped by a North Korean company, were loaded in Dalian onto a container ship operated by a French company and sent to Malaysia, where they were transferred, according to diplomats, who read details from the confidential report. The ship stopped to refuel in Durban on its way to the Congo Republic, but it was initially turned away. After it left Durban, however, South African officials ordered it back to port, where they found the military equipment hidden behind stacks of rice, the report said. They could not confirm the value of the shipment, but estimated it at $770,000. The two containers are now in a secure storage area in Durban port, the report said, while an inquiry continues. Investigators have been contacting every country involved in the shipping route or transport and asking them to explain what occurred. (Neil MacFarquhar, “North Korean Military Parts Were Intercepted, U.N. Says,” New York Times, February 25, 2010)

C O N F I D E N T I A L USUN NEW YORK 000107 SUBJECT: DPRK: SOUTH AFRICA REPORTS SANCTIONS VIOLATION 1. (C) SUMMARY: South Africa has confidentially reported to the Security Council’s North Korea Sanctions Committee (“1718 Committee”) a sanctions violation involving the transfer of North Korea-origin conventional arms to the Republic of Congo via China and Malaysia. According to this report, in November 2009 South Africa discovered and seized tank components aboard the ‘Westerhever,’ a vessel chartered by the subsidiary of a French shipping company. Per standard practice, the Committee will likely write letters to solicit additional information from all of the states involved in this transaction. A UN expert panel will also investigate. END SUMMARY. 2. (C) On February 18, South Africa reported to the UN Security Council’s North Korea Sanctions Committee (“1718 Committee”) a violation of UN sanctions imposed North Korea. The 1718 Committee, which consists of the same fifteen states as the Security Council, has a mandate “to examine and take appropriate action on information regarding alleged violations” of sanctions imposed in UNSCRs 1718 and 1874. Although South Africa requested the report be kept confidential to the Committee, it was immediately leaked to the press. 3. (C) In its report, South Africa told the Committee that it had received information at the end of November 2009 about North Korea-origin military equipment being shipped aboard the vessel ‘Westerhever’ to the Republic of Congo. South Africa reported that a subsequent search of the vessels revealed conventional arms consisting of components for a T54/T55 military tank, including tank communication equipment, gun-sights, tank tracks, periscopes, “HF radio with Chinese markings,” protective head gear for tank crewmen and search lights.” The shipment was estimated to be worth R6 million (approximately $770,000) 4. (C) South Africa reported that the draft bill of lading identified the containers as “SPARE PARTS OF BULLDOZER,” and further identified port of loading as Dalian, China, and the point of discharge as Pointe Noire (Republic of Congo). The items were apparently discharged loaded onto the ‘Westerhever’ prior to its departure on November 16 from Port Klang, Malaysia. The bill of lading identified the shipping company and consignee to be North Korean firms. South Africa further reported that the ‘Westerhever’ was chartered by a subsidiary of the French firm CMA CGM. (NOTE: A vessel belonging to CMA CGM, the third-largest container shipping firm in the world, was also linked to a sanctions violation reported to the Committee in 2009. END NOTE). Although the vessel’s flag state was not identified in South Africa’s report, open-source information suggests that the ‘Westerhever’ was registered in Liberia. …”


2/26/10:
KCNA: “A relevant institution of the DPRK recently detained four south Koreans who illegally entered it. They are now under investigation by the institution.” (KCNA, “S. Korean Trespassers Detained,” February 26, 2010) KCNA did not reveal identities of the detained South Koreans or the circumstances surrounding their entry. The South Korean government is currently unable to verify the ‘detention’ aspect of the statement. A Cheong Wa Dae official said, “If the North Korean report is accurate, it is presumed that the South Koreans crossed into North Korea from the shared Chinese border.” The same official said, “We are currently looking into the situation from different angles through intelligence organizations, including the possibility that they are tourists, missionaries to North Korea or activists connected with North Korean defectors, but there has not yet been any confirmation of the truth of the reports or the identity of the detainees.” UnifMin spokesman Chun Hae-sung said, “It has been confirmed that the 1,054 South Korean citizens currently staying in Pyongyang, Mt. Kumgang, Kaesong and other regions are not in any danger.” (Hankyore, “Four S. Koreans Detained in N. Korea,” February 27, 2010)

DoS Background Briefing: “: Can we go back to North Korea? The encouragement and the signs – was there something new out of Beijing, was there some information that came through that makes them thing things are moving faster than they were? A: One of the issues that came up in the bilateral with South Korea was the current state of the Korean economy. The reforms that North Korea have put in place have been a disaster, so North Korea is likely to require international assistance and this can create an opportunity. So, we think that the circumstances are pointing towards a North Korean decision to return to the Six-Party Process but, just to be clear, while the conditions appear to be moving in the right direction, they have not said ‘Yes’ yet. And the other part of that is that it’s not just a ‘Yes.’ If and when they do come back to the Six-Party Process they have to show a commitment to actually affirmatively take the steps that are outlined in the previous agreements that they have approved, or they’ve committed to, at least on paper.”


2/27/20:
“We believe North Korea will come back to the six-party talks sooner or later, possibly in March or April, although we cannot predict the exact timing,” a South Korean official visiting Washington said. “Our judgment is based on circumstantial evidence surrounding recent contacts between North Korea and China.” The official made the remarks one day after FM Yu Myung-hwan met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “China’s position is that North Koreans need measures for face-saving,” the South Korean official said. “What South Korea and the U.S. fear is that North Korea will employ a strategy of buying time by circumventing the six-party format and focusing on bilateral meetings with the aim of being recognized as a nuclear weapons state eventually.” Speaking to South Korean correspondents here over a luncheon meeting, Yu said, “We’ve agreed that we will continue the two-track approach of dialogue and sanctions so North Korea can come back to the six-party talks as soon as possible for a resumption of steps toward its nuclear dismantlement.” He added that he and Clinton also discussed the importance of ratifying the pending Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement signed in 2007. “We’ve reconfirmed the resolution of the two governments to make efforts for progress on the FTA issue.” The Obama administration has said it wants to address the imbalance in auto trade and restricted shipments of beef before presenting the free trade deal to Congress for approval, while South Korea has pressed for the deal’s ratification by this summer ahead of the November mid-term elections. “I don’t think the U.S. government has a consensus on the timeline of the Korea FTA’s ratification in consideration of the November elections,” another South Korean official said. “However, it seems the Obama administration has a more favorable opinion on the issue than that of the campaign period in 2008, as it has linked the trade pact to job creation.” (Hwang Doo-hyong, “N. Korea Likely to Soon Return to 6-Way Talks: S. Korean Official,” Yonhap, February 28, 2010)

North Korea provided about 45 tons of “yellowcake” uranium to Syria in September 2007 for production of fuel for an undeclared nuclear reactor, diplomatic and military sources knowledgeable on North Korean issues said. But the shipment was followed shortly by an Israeli air strike targeting the reactor and the uranium involved is believed to have been transferred to Iran around last summer, according to a Western diplomatic source. But a Middle East military source has said that Syria may have returned the yellowcake to North Korea in the wake of the air strike. David Albright, president of the U.S.-based Institute for Science and International Security, said 89 to 130 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium could be produced if 45 tons of yellowcake is further processed into uranium hexafluoride and is enriched. “In any case, 45 tons of yellowcake is enough for several nuclear bombs,” Albright said in a written response to Kyodo News. Such an amount of yellowcake is equivalent to making 5,500 nuclear fuel rods for the type of 5,000-kilowatt graphite-moderated experimental reactor in North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex, on which Syria is believed to be modeling its own reactor. Plutonium, another material used for nuclear weapons, can be extracted from spent fuel rods. The diplomatic source said the cargo of yellowcake left Nampo and passed though Dalian and Shanghai before it reached the port of Tartus in Syria on September 2, 2007. Israel noticed the move – a factore that led the country to launch its air strike on Syria on September 6. (Kyodo, “N. Korea Provided Raw Uranium to Syria in 2007: Sources,” Mainichi, February 28, 2010)


3/1/10:
China is sounding out the United States, Japan and other members of the six-nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program on a three-step proposal to resume the stalled negotiations, sources close to the process said. The formula would be spearheaded by a resumption of U.S.-North Korean talks on bilateral issues to be followed by a preparatory meeting of the countries involved in the six-nation talks that would lead up to a formal resumption of six-nation talks issues. The sources said China outlined its proposal when Wu Dawei, China’s special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, met with U.S. and South Korean envoys in Beijing last month. (Kyodo, “China Makes 3-Step Proposal on Resumption of Nuke Talks,” March 1, 2010)

Rodong Sinmun signed commentary: “Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises to be staged by the U.S. imperialists and the south Korean puppet army from March 8 to 18 are a dangerous large-scale test war from A to Z as they are aimed to provoke an all-out nuclear war and bring down the DPRK by force of arms. The warmongers are talking about ‘annual exercises’ and ‘improvement of defense capability’ when referring to the joint maneuvers, but they are nothing but hypocrisy to mislead the public opinion at home and abroad. Key Resolve is aimed to ensure the rapid introduction and deployment of the U.S. reinforcements on the Korean front in ‘emergency’ and to perfect the procedures for coordinated operations with the puppet army. Foal Eagle is typical offensive exercises to launch an all-out war against the DPRK through large-scale ‘preemptive nuclear attacks.’ The joint war exercises are so aggressive and provocative that with no rhetoric can the United States and warmongers of the south Korean military justify them no matter how desperately they may let loose a spate of such rubbish as ‘annual exercises’ and ‘defense.’ We can never remain a passive onlooker to this grave situation created on the Korean Peninsula by the aggression forces against the DPRK. Our answer to the exercises is merciless and annihilating retaliation. If the United States and south Korean puppets launch the joint military exercises, ignoring our warnings, we will react to them with our powerful military counteraction to clearly show the aggressors how merciless and decisive our sacred retaliation war for justice is, the commentary concludes. (KCNA, “Projected DPRK-Targeted Joint Military Exercises Blasted,” March 1, 2010)

North Korea appears to have stopped state-sponsored drug trafficking, but still continues to counterfeit brand cigarettes and remains a large source of phony U.S. currency, the U.S. State Department said on March 1. “There is insufficient evidence to say with certainty that state-sponsored trafficking by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) has stopped entirely in 2009,” the 2010 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report released by the department said. “Nonetheless, the paucity of public reports of drug trafficking with a direct DPRK connection suggest strongly that such high-profile drug trafficking has either ceased, or has been reduced very sharply.” The annual report said, “No confirmed instances of large-scale drug trafficking involving the DPRK state or its nationals were reported in 2009,” noting, “This is the seventh consecutive year that here were no known instances of large-scale methamphetamine or heroin trafficking to either Japan or Taiwan with direct DPRK state institution involvement.” Numerous instances of narcotics trafficking involving North Koreans, North Korean vessels and military patrol boats have been recorded in Taiwan and Japan over the past decades until 2003, according to the report. The report noted that trafficking of methamphetamine along the North Korea-China border continues. “There are indications that international drug traffickers can purchase methamphetamine in kilogram quantities in some of the major towns on the Chinese side of the DPRK-China border,” it said. North Korea, meanwhile, continues counterfeit cigarette and U.S. bills called supernotes, the report said. “Press, industry and law enforcement reports of DPRK links to large-scale counterfeit cigarette trafficking in the North Korean Export Processing Zone at Rajin continue,” it said. “It is unclear the extent to which DPRK authorities are complicit in this illegal activity, although it is likely that they are aware of it, given the relatively high-profile media reports.” The report cites examples of supernotes caught across the world in the previous years. “Counterfeit $100 U.S. notes called supernotes continue to turn up in various countries, including in the United States,” it said. “There are reports, for example, of supernote seizures in San Fransisco and a very large supernote seizure in Busan, South Korea, during 2008 and 2009.” Supernotes are uniquely associated with North Korea, the report said. “But it is not clear if recent seizures are notes which have been circulating for some time, or they are recently-counterfeited new notes.” (Yonhap, “N. Korea Seems to Have Ceased State-Sponsored Drug Trafficking,” North Korea Newsletter, No. 96 (March 4, 2010)


3/2-5/10:
Officials from South and North Korea met in the town of Kaesong for discussions on issues related to the passage of people and goods to their joint industrial complex in the North, Seoul’s Defense Ministry said on February 28. The two Koreas had sought to hold military-level talks on issues of border transit, customs and communication to the Kaesong industrial complex. But the talks will be led by non-military officials. “As the talks will be led by an official from the Unification Ministry, it will be a meeting of working-level officials, not a military-level meeting,” the defense ministry said in a statement. It did not say why the two Koreas changed the parameter of the talks. (Yonhap, “Koreas to Hold Talks on Joint Industrial Park Tuesday,” February 28, 2010) The talks took place in a “concrete and practical atmosphere” in the morning, South Korean Unification Ministry spokesperson Chun Hae-sung said. But he declined to say whether the North accepted Seoul’s request to identify the four South Koreans that the communist state said last week that it detained for illegal entry. The sides agreed to separate their discussions in the afternoon into three subcommittees dealing with each of North Korea’s restrictions, Chun told reporters. He did not elaborate. The restrictions include a ban on the use of mobile phones and Internet communications by South Korean workers; the introduction of electronic tags on goods moving in and out of the complex; and the around-the-clock access into Kaesong by South Korean personnel. South Korea says the restrictions must be lifted or at least eased to improve the competitiveness of the industrial park that has merged South Korean capital with North Korean labor since 2004. But the North — under U.N. sanctions that toughened after it conducted its second nuclear test in May last year — vowed earlier Tuesday it would bolster its nuclear arsenal if South Korea and the U.S. conduct their joint annual military drill planned next week. The impoverished North says wage hikes for its workers are the most important agenda item, while the South says the profitability of the park should be enhanced before the issue can be negotiated. But the North vowed earlier in the day it would bolster its nuclear arsenal if South Korea and the U.S. conduct their joint annual military drill planned next week. The Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercise from March 8-18, along with U.S. reluctance to immediately forge a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, “will only compel (the North) to boost its nuclear deterrent and its delivery means,” KCNA said. (Yonhap, “Two Koreas Hold Talks on Improving Joint Industrial Park,” March 2, 2010) KCNA: “The north-south military working-level talks took place in Kaesong. At the talks Colonel of the Korean People’s Army Ri Son Gwon, head of the delegation of the north side, stated as follows over the fact that the south side has recently driven inter-Korean relations to a catastrophic phase and obstructed military guarantee for passage, communications and customs clearance for revitalizing the Kaesong Industrial Zone while getting hell-bent on the unpardonable escalated confrontation with the DPRK: Firstly, the situation in waters of the West Sea of Korea is reaching the brink of explosion due to the recent grave military provocations of the south side’s military authorities in the waters. The military authorities of the south side, who intentionally and directly organized the premeditated armed conflict in the said waters in November last year, staged a ‘citation ceremony’ for those involved in it, inciting an atmosphere of confrontation. Then, they are gradually escalating the military tension in the controversial waters. The south side authorities’ foolish attempt to preserve the illegal ‘northern limit line’ and make the existence of the ‘territorial waters’ of the south side along it an established fact can never be overlooked. Secondly, the psychological warfare designed to do harm to the dignified system of the DPRK and its security is going to extremes. The campaign for scattering leaflets slandering the ideology and system in the DPRK has escalated into the depth of the north side, going beyond the areas along the Military Demarcation Line. And anti-DPRK psychological broadcasting is getting more vicious in its content and form than ever before.And it is long since the moves for bringing down the system of the DPRK by spying on what is going on inside it and destabilizing it via the northern border areas have gone beyond the danger line. The authorities of the south side should stop at once such a ridiculous and foolish act. Thirdly, if the authorities of the south side finally stage Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises in collusion with outside forces, the situation on the Korean Peninsula will be ‘uncontrollable.’ The joint military exercises to be kicked off on March 8 are adventurous offensive operational exercises involving massive arms buildup, infiltration into rear areas, ground attack, coast landing and assault operation and nuclear war maneuvers for an actual war for the purpose of mounting a surprise preemptive attack on the DPRK on the ground, in the sea and sky in ‘contingency’ on the peninsula. Now the south Korean authorities are getting hell-bent on the moves to do harm to the DPRK by intentionally escalating the military tensions for the purpose of inventing any pretext for conflict in the waters of the West Sea of Korea and, at the same time, tying to stage the large-scale DPRK-targeted war maneuvers in collusion with foreign forces while resorting to the unheard-of anti-DPRK psychological warfare. But this is a foolish act just as banging their heads on a rock and will negatively affect the development of inter-Korean relations and the revitalization of the Kaesong Industrial Zone. The head of the north side delegation charged that the ill-boding hostile moves of the south side are being pushed forward according to the carefully worked out scenario. He solemnly clarified the resolute will and fixed stand of the army and people of the DPRK to mercilessly wipe out all hostile forces including anti-DPRK confrontation maniacs and traitors keen to stifle the DPRK politically and by force of arms. Discussed at the talks were issues related to the implementation of ‘the agreement on military guarantee for passage, communications and customs clearance in the areas under the north-south control in the east and west sea regions’ which was adopted according to the historic October 4 declaration.” (KCNA, “Inter-Korean Military Working-Level Talks Held,” March 3, 2010) On March 5 South Korea insisted on firm safety guarantees from North Korea before it resumes cross-border tourist programs, despite the North’s threat to shut down the business permanently. “There is no change in the government’s stance that firm measures must be taken first to ensure the safety of tourists,” South Korean unification ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-Joo told AFP. Yesterday the North threatened to tear up all tourism agreements and contracts with the South unless it agrees quickly to restart them. The North also said it would open the border to South Korean visitors starting this month while “guaranteeing their safety completely.” (AFP, “South Korea Demands North Guarantee Tourists’ Safety,” March 5, 2010) The North’s official Korean Central News Agency carried a statement by the Asia Pacific Peace Committee on March 4 which claimed that the Seoul government was blocking South Koreans from visiting its tourist attractions. “We have repeatedly explained in detail about the unfortunate incident caused by the South Korean tourist’s illegal entry into a restricted area, and have conducted a joint on-the-spot inspection with South Korean officials (of Hyundai Asan Corp.) immediately after the incident,” the North said in the statement. “We have also given our highest word on the safety of tourists and preventing recurrence (of such incidents) during the Hyundai Group chairwoman’s visit to Pyongyang last year, and repeatedly confirmed our position in the recent talks.” North Korean leader Kim Jong-il gave his word to Hyundai chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun during her visit last August. North Korea’s warning appears to signal a shift from dialogue to political offensive against the Lee Myung-bak administration ahead of the local elections in June, according to Yang Moo-jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies. “The North believes that Seoul has no will to resume tours or other inter-Korean cooperation projects whatsoever and that even if it agrees to revise rules on safety, Seoul would bring up the issue of replacing cash payments for the tours with something else,” Yang said. “In this respect, the North is likely to use the four South Koreans it detained as a bargaining tool to pressure the South.” The North has refused to identify the four South Koreans it claimed a week ago to have detained for illegal entry. The leader of a Seoul-based aid group who recently visited Pyongyang suggested that the North seemed to be taking the illegal-entry case in a broader context of threats against the North Korean regime. Lee Il-ha, chief of Good Neighbors International, said a high-ranking North Korean official told him that the four detainees are “just one of the various cases (the North) could not publicly speak about.” Lee quoted athe North Korean official as saying, “There have been black rats and white rats, but now we have found all the rat holes.” By black rats, he may have meant anti-North South Koreans entering the country illegally. “(The detention) is a result of the South Korean administration (turning) a blind eye to those seeking to overthrow the North. We will see how Seoul reacts from now on.” (Kim So-hyun, “Seoul Uneasy with N.K. Threat,” Korea Herald, March 5, 2010)


3/2/10:
KCNA: “The United States is going to stage together with the puppet army of south Korea large-scale joint military exercises codenamed Key Resolve and Foal Eagle from March 8. They describe the exercises as ‘annual ones’ and ‘defensive’ in a bid to cover up the dangerous and grave nature of the war maneuvers but this is nothing but sheer sophism which can convince no one. The projected joint military exercises are nuclear war exercises aimed at mounting a preemptive attack on the DPRK to all intents and purposes. The military doctrine of the U.S. is one of war calling for a preemptive attack and the U.S. and south Korean puppet armed forces’ scenario for a war against the DPRK is a scenario for a nuclear war based on the provision of ‘extended deterrent.’ All their military exercises are pursuant to the above-said war doctrine and scenario. As a matter of fact, the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle have so far been staged according to the OPLAN 5027, a scenario for an all-out war to occupy the DPRK by a preemptive attack. Last year the U.S. and the south Korean authorities worked out even a document on the provision of the ‘extended deterrent’ presupposing the use of nukes against the DPRK in contingency. They do not conceal the fact that ‘equipment, capability and manpower’ will be mobilized in the said joint military exercises to the fullest extent. This, needless to say, means the involvement of even the nuclear war forces in the war maneuvers. What merits a more serious attention is that the U.S. is set to stage such nuclear war exercises at a time when the international community is growing more vocal than ever before calling for a settlement of the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula. Obviously this is a deliberate attempt to disturb peace on the peninsula and torpedo the process for its denuclearization. The U.S. has always stood in the way of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, pursuing only a war to stifle the DPRK, not seeking a solution to the issue on the basis of respect for sovereignty in relations with the latter. It is open secret that the U.S. administration ruled by the Democratic Party attempted to provoke a war against the DPRK behind the curtain of denuclearization in the 1990s. The U.S. is still increasing the nuclear threat through such nuclear war exercises as Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, driving the process for the denuclearization of the peninsula to a collapse. The reality goes to prove that how urgent and crucial the conclusion of a peace treaty and the termination of the hostile relations are for finding a solution to the nuclear issue on the peninsula and how just the DPRK was when it took measures to have access to nuclear deterrent to cope with U.S. constant military threat. The process for the denuclearization of the peninsula can never take even a step forward as long as the DPRK and the U.S. remain technically at a war and the latter’s threat of a nuclear war against the DPRK remains. Should the U.S. persist in its unrealistic moves to stifle the DPRK in disregard of its realistic proposal, this will only compel it to boost its nuclear deterrent and its delivery means. (KCNA, “KCNA Denounces U.S.-S. Korea Military Exercises,” March 2, 2010)

North Korea has acknowledged the failure of the currency reform it conducted last November in a note sent to its diplomatic missions abroad in mid-February, saying it caused confusion in the supply of money and the distribution of goods, sources familiar with China-North Korea relations said. The note urged North Koreans to “get united and overcome the difficulty,” they said. It is rare for North Korea to acknowledge a failure of economic policy. North Korean officials “do not need to deny” the confusion sparked by the redenomination of the currency when explaining it externally, the notification said, according to the sources. By acknowledging the problem, Pyongyang is believed to have attempted to ease a sense of alarm among foreign companies about trading with and investing in North Korea. (Kyodo, “N. Korea Acknowledges Failure of Currency Reform,” March 2, 2010)


3/3/10:
FM Yu Myung-hwan indicated that bilateral talks between North Korea and the United States may soon occur, but within the framework of the multilateral dialogue devised to terminate the North’s nuclear weapons programs. “North Korea seems to be making plans to visit the United States later this month for bilateral talks, so that may be an opportunity for the two sides to sit down,” Yu said in a monthly press briefing. He added, however, that Washington appears to be skittish about holding exclusive talks, as the members of the six-nation talks have agreed that the North should communicate only via the official denuclearization dialogue. (Kim Ji-hyun, “N. Korea, U.S. May Soon Hold Talks: Yu,” Korea Herald, March 4, 2010)

Kim Yong-il, the chief of the KWP’s International Department, has been touring cities in northeastern China cities since late February. The unusually long tour gives rise to a speculation that he may be preparing for a China visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. “Given that summits between North Korea and China have to be arranged, Kim Yong-il may be there to discuss Kim Jong-il’s China visit,” a diplomatic source in Beijing speculated. “Some of the cities Kim Yong-il has visited may be included in the itinerary of the North Korean leader.” On February 23, the first day of his visit, Kim Yong-il paid a courtesy call on President Hu Jintao and met Wang Jiarui, his Chinese counterpart. Wang had been the North early in February and delivered a letter from Hu to Kim Joing-il to invite him to China. Concluding meetings with Chinese leaders on the first day of his tour, Kim started visiting major cities in north and northeastern China the following day. He visited the Binhai economic zone in Tianjin on February 24. The next day he toured Dalian in Liaoning Province’s coastal economic belt and Shenyang. On February 28, he visited Changchun, Jilin Province. The regional development belt of Changchun, Jilin and Tumen is linked to the Rajin-Sonbong area in North Hamgyong Province, which the North turned into a special economic zone in January. “If the North Korean leader visits China, economic cooperation issue will be the main agenda along with the six-party talks,” a Chinese expert on North Korea said. But some sources say Kim Yong-il’s trip has nothing to do with preparations for a visit from his leader since his entourage consists mainly of International Department officials. (Chosun Ilbo, “Speculation Rife as Top N. Korean Official Tours China,” March 3, 2010)

North Korea has designated allocated priority industries for cultivation in the eight cities: Pyongyang (high-tech industry); Nampo (medical supplies and cooking oil); Shinuiju (light industry and textiles); Wonsan (shipbuilding); Hamhung (coal and chemicals); Kimchaek (metallurgy); Nason (petrochemicals); and Chongjin (heavy industry)., Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported. Additionally, the communist country will expand investment in infrastructure, including massive construction of roads and railroads linking the eight cities. Pyongyang will induce foreign capital through tax incentives to finance its projects to foster the economic zones and expand and upgrade infrastructure. Quoting an official of North Korea’s Trade Ministry, the Japanese daily said, “Egypt, France and Vietnam have expressed a strong intent to invest in North Korea.” A source from the Taepung International Investment Group, which is reportedly effectively leading North Korea’s new economic policy, was also quoted as saying, “We’re considering leasing farmland in turn for cutting-edge agricultural technologies.” The company is headed by Kim Yang Gon, confidant of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and director of the Unification Front Department of the ruling Workers` Party. Taepung has 25 subsidiaries including those dealing in finance, investment, credit and insurance and corporations in railroads, roads and farming. Critics say, however, that the economic zones and the plan to attract foreign capital were measures Pyongyang announced when it designated the Rajin-Sonbong region as a special economic district in 1991. Hence, they add, the latest measure does not indicate a change in policy. (Dong-A Ilbo, “N.K. Names 8 Cities ‘Special Economic Zones,’” March 3, 2010)

The World Food Program will have to stop delivering aid to starving North Koreans by July if it does not receive more donations immediately. Although a senior UN official said the Pyongyang office risked closure, Torben Due, the program’s North Korea representative, said he remained optimistic despite growing donor fatigue. “The WFP can continue to support around 1.4m children and pregnant women with fortified foods until the end of June. However, new contributions are required now or the operation will come to a standstill in July. We are hopeful that donors will come forward with contributions, given the situation,” he told the Financial Times. In 2008 the WFP hoped 6.2m people would receive such aid but found it increasingly hard to get donations. Annual aid to North Korea is equivalent to $4.50 per person across the population. The average across other low-income countries is $37 per person. The US, once the leading food donor, has said it will not supply cereals until North Korea resumes proper monitoring, allowing aid agencies to track the final recipients. (Christian Oliver, “N. Korea Food Aid under Threat,” Financial Times, March 4, 2010, p. 4)


3/4/10:
The Obama administration is concerned that Burma is expanding its military relationship with North Korea and has launched an aggressive campaign to convince Burma’s junta to stop buying North Korean military technology, U.S. officials said. Concerns about the relationship — which encompass the sale of small arms, missile components and, most worryingly, possible nuclear-weapons-related technology — helped prompt the Obama administration last October to end the Bush-era policy of isolating the military junta, said a senior State Department official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. So far, senior U.S. officials have had four meetings with their Burmese counterparts, with a fifth one expected soon. “Our most decisive interactions have been around North Korea,” the official said. “We’ve been very clear to Burma. We’ll see over time if it’s been heard.” (John Pomfret, “White House Wary As Burma Deepens Military Relationship with North Korea,” Washington Post, March 4, 2010, p. A-13)

North Koreans are getting better medical treatment as the result of a joint program between the two Koreas that has trained thousands of doctors, provided modern equipment and renovated hospitals, the World Health Organization said. Maternal mortality has declined by over 20 percent since 2005, and diarrhea cases and deaths in operations have also dropped, said Dr. Eric Laroche. WHO has helped in the wide-ranging program, which started in 2006 and is funded by South Korea. It has cost a total of $30.2 million so far. The program has trained more than 6,000 doctors and nurses in emergency obstetric care, newborn care and child illnesses, said Laroche, who assessed its progress in a four-day visit to North Korea. The specialization marks a change in health strategy in North Korea, which has about 90,000 family doctors who care for about 130 families each, according to Laroche. “They know each family one by one,” he said. But, he added, “they’re extremely keen to be trained.” (Elaine Engeler, “WHO: Korean Cooperation Boosting Health in North,” Associated Press, March 4, 2010)


3/4/10:
Monk Beopryun, chairperson of Good Friends, a leading North Korean human rights NGO, said during a lecture held in Korus House, culture center of the South Korean Embassy in Washington, “After the currency reform, a number of people have starved to death since mid-January.” It is known that the price of foods have risen 45 times compared to that before the currency reform. Monk Beopryun said, “The aim of currency reform was to restore the system of a planned economy, however, most supplies to the country have been stopped, because the distribution system of the planned economy has not worked well, while circulation at the marketplace has been banned.” He added, “If no specific countermeasures are taken in response to this situation, starvation will become an even more serious threat by March or April.” He emphasized the need to send humanitarian food aid to North Korea. (Hankyore, “Reports Say 2 Thousand N. Koreans Have Starved to Death since Currency Reform,” March 6, 2010)


3/5/10:
Minju Chosun signed commentary: “Should the U.S. imperialists and the south Korean puppet warmongers launch the joint military exercises for aggression defying the DPRK’s repeated warnings, the KPA will react to them with strong military counteraction and, if necessary, mobilize all its offensive and defensive means including nuclear deterrent to mercilessly destroy their bulwark of aggression. War does not know any mercy. If they ignite a war against the DPRK, they will have a taste of the strong self-defensive war deterrent which the army and people of the DPRK have built under the banner of Songun. Only deaths await the aggressors, the commentary concludes.” (KCNA, “Cancellation of Anti-DPRK Nuclear War Exercises Called for,” March 5, 2010)


3/7/10:
Panmunjom Mission of the KPA spokesman’s statement “in connection with the fact that the U.S. and the south Korean authorities finally set about the DPRK-targeted Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military maneuvers: “The revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will no longer be bound to the Armistice Agreement and the north-south agreement on non-aggression. There is no reason whatsoever for the DPRK to remain bounded to the AA and the non-aggression agreement now that the other belligerent party scrapped the AA and the other dialogue partner reneged on the non-aggression agreement. The revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will, therefore, legitimately exercise their force for self-defense, unhindered, just as they had determined to do. The process for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will naturally come to a standstill and the DPRK bolster its nuclear deterrent for self-defense given that the saber-rattling is proven to be nuclear war exercises and maneuvers for a war of aggression against the DPRK in its nature. It is an inviolable right of the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK for self-defense to counter with powerful nuclear deterrent the U.S. nuclear offensive means threatening the territorial waters and air and land of the DPRK on account of exercises. The revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will be left with no option but to exercise merciless physical force as the rival is set to do harm to the DPRK no matter how dear peace, national reconciliation and cooperation are to it. It is their stand to settle accounts with the rival by actual use of military force if it does not wish neither to conclude a peace treaty nor have reconciliation and cooperation. (KCNA, “KPA Panmunjom Mission Vows to Build up Nuclear Deterrent,” March 7, 2010)

57 percent of respondents to the latest Yomiuri Shimbun survey do not want the DPJ to win a majority of seats in this summer’s House of Councilors election, surpassing the 33 percent who said the party deserved to gain a majority. The survey also found the approval rating for the Hatoyama Cabinet was 41 percent, down three percentage points from the previous poll a month earlier. The Cabinet’s disapproval rating increased by three percentage points to 50 percent. Asked which party they would vote for in the proportional representation blocs in the election, 25 percent said they would vote for the DPJ, down two percentage points, while 22 percent said they would choose the LDP, the same level as in the previous survey. The latest telephone survey was conducted Friday through Sunday. (Yomiuri Shimbun, “57% Oppose DPJ Majority in Upper House; Approval Rate for Cabinet Falls to 41%,” March 8, 2010)


3/9/10:
DPRK FoMin spokesman: “The U.S. and south Korean authorities finally kicked off nuclear war exercises aimed at mounting a preemptive attack on the DPRK defying its repeated warnings and the concern of the international community. They launched such large-scale war exercises at a time when the DPRK government advanced an important proposal for building a lasting peace-keeping regime on the Korean Peninsula. This cannot be interpreted otherwise than a grave provocation. It is an act of chilling the efforts to realize the denuclearization of the peninsula. This fact indicates that though there was a regime change in the U.S. there is no change in the U.S. administration’s hostile policy towards the DPRK, a policy to bring down by force the ideology and system chosen by its people. The U.S. is leaving no means untried to bring down the DPRK including military threat, economic sanctions and ideological and cultural poisoning. Military threat and economic sanctions cannot go with dialogue based on equality and they are incompatible with the process for denuclearization, in particular. Without a peace treaty it is impossible to defuse the military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula and it can never be denuclearized unless this confrontation is put to an end. The justice of the DPRK’s proposal for concluding a peace treaty has been proved once again. The DPRK is fully ready for dialogue and war. It will continue bolstering up its nuclear deterrent as long as the U.S. military threats and provocations go on.” (KCNA, “DPRK Fully Ready for Dialogue and War: Spokesman for Its Foreign Ministry,” March 9, 2010)

Desperate for foreign exchange North Korea has been generating hard currency by re-exporting British cigarettes, despite renewed efforts by the international community to apply tougher sanctions on the impoverished state. North Korean and other Asian trading entities started re-exporting State Express 555 cigarettes, manufactured by British American Tobacco in February last year, just months before North Korea’s second nuclear test in four years prompted the United Nations to impose tougher sanctions on Pyongyang. BAT sold the so-called “NK 555s,” made and packaged in Singapore for the North Korean market, to a Singaporean distributor for shipment to Nampo, a port near Pyongyang. However, at least 15,000 cases worth $6.3million rebounded out of Nampo to ports in Vietnam and the Philippines, according to documents seen by the Financial Times, to go to other markets where they commanded a higher price. U.N. member nations have been allowed to compile their own sanctions lists, which critics say created loopholes. The US, Japan, Australia and Canada banned a broad range of tobacco products. Meanwhile, the European Union and Singapore sanctioned only cigars, which allowed BAT to continue exporting NK 555 cigarettes to North Korea. BAT said it halted exports of the cigarettes from Singapore to North Korea after discovering a diverted cargo of NK 555s in August. National customs authorities target counterfeits rather than so-called “diverted real product.” BAT has maintained some business ties to the country. It still supplies its former Pyongyang joint venture, from which it divested in 2007, with materials to make and sell cheaper Craven A cigarettes on the domestic market. BAT says 175million NK 555s were exported to North Korea in 2008. They were made and packaged in Singapore which, like the EU, banned exports of cigars but not cigarettes.The London-based company sold the NK 555s to SUTL Group, a family-controlled distributor in Singapore, for onward shipment to the North Korean port of Nampo. “When we became aware of the diversion, we immediately launched an investigation,” Pat Heneghan, global head of BAT’s anti-illicit trade division, told the FT. “We certainly didn’t like what we found.” While there was no evidence of any involvement by SUTL in the diversion, Heneghan said BAT still had “a very hard discussion with the distributor.” SUTL declined to comment. There is no evidence that the re-export of NK 555s by a number of unidentifiable North Korean entities and other small trading companies across Asia was illegal. While tobacco companies consider the re-routing of legitimate cigarettes from their intended market as “illicit,” they are not necessarily “illegal” in the eyes of customs authorities focused on counterfeits and smuggling. “In August last year, BAT discovered a diverted NK 555 shipment in Singapore, which we assumed could be for transshipment to other markets in Asia,” said a BAT spokeswoman. “But we were unable to inspect the shipment as we could not demonstrate any breach of Singapore law to the authorities.” On April 10 2009, the NK 555 re-exports were discussed in an e-mail sent by a Singapore-based cigarette trader to a potential buyer in Manila. “We have to confirm by next week,” wrote Bert Lee of Compass Inc. “Empty containers will have to start moving into Nampo . . . So kindly speak and plan with your buyer and let me know if you want to take up this new NK 555 Blue.” Compass began to sell cases of NK 555 to a Hong Kong-based trading company in early 2009. E-mails and shipping documents show the cigarettes were first diverted to Dalian, a Chinese port, and then shipped on to Singapore before finally landing in Haiphong in Vietnam. While the trail ran cold in Haiphong, people tracking the shipment suspected its ultimate destination was China. “They sell it to someone who can handle it for the China market,” said one person involved in the trade, who asked not to be identified. Invoices sent from Compass to its Hong Kong buyer in February 2009 do not reveal the North Korean source of the NK 555s. But Lee left no doubt about the cigarettes’ provenance. “Stocks are now in NK and sample already send [sic] out to us,” he wrote to his potential buyer in Manila. “I hope we can work on this New Blue [555] and controlling the market and stocks as soon as possible.” Lee did not reply to phone calls, e-mails and faxes from the FT. “As a trader, we just get the product and buy and sell,” said one Compass executive who declined to identify himself or comment on the NK 555 shipments when contacted by telephone. “Where it goes, who knows?” (Tom Mitchell and Pan Kwan Yuk, “N. Korea Draws on Tobacco to Generate Hard Cash,” Financial Times, March 9, 2010, p. 5)

North Korea has set up an independent military division to deploy and operate its medium-range ballistic missiles, a South Korean government source quoted by Yonhap said. North Korea has developed a missile called the Musudan-1 with a range of 3,000 km. with a range of more than 3,000 kilometers (1,860 miles) capable of hitting US military bases in Japan and Guam. “We believe the operation of this separate unit indicates North Korea’s intention to produce new IRBMs,” the source was quoted as saying. “These missiles have US military bases in Japan and also in Guam in range.” Seoul’s 2008 defense ministry white paper confirmed the North recently deployed intermediate-range missiles after developing them since the late 1990s, but gave no details. “We presume that it is natural for the North to have a unit to run the weaponry system, but we cannot confirm whether such a division has been created,” ministry spokesman Won Tae-Jae told a briefing. (AFP, “N.K. Launches a Medium-Range Missile Unit,” March 9, 2010)

In 2008 North Korea exported an estimated total of $2,801 million in merchandise (up from $2,535 million in 2007) while importing $4,127 million (up from $3,437 million in 2007). This created an apparent merchandise trade deficit of $1,326 million (up from $901 million in 2007). Imports from China, in particular, rose 46% from $1,393 million in 2007 to $2,033 million in 2008. North Korean exports to China of $754 million in 2008, generated a trade deficit with China of $1,279 million. If South Korean exports to and imports from the Kaesong Industrial Complex just across the border in North Korea are not counted, the vast majority of North Korean trade is with China. Economic sanctions imposed by Japan and the United States have reduced their respective trade with the DPRK to almost nothing except for intermittent humanitarian aid. In 2008, China’s major imports from North Korea included ores, mineral fuels (coal), iron and steel, woven apparel, fish and seafood, and salt/sulfur/earths/stone. China’s major exports to North Korea include mineral fuels and oil, electrical machinery, machinery, knit apparel, plastic, vehicles, man-made filament, and iron and steel. A recent development has been North Korea’s increase in exports of primary products (such as fish, shellfish and agro-forest products) as well as mineral products (such as base metallic minerals). Pyongyang reportedly has imported aquaculture technology (mainly from China) to increase production of cultivated fish and agricultural equipment to increase output of grains and livestock. It also has imported equipment for its coal and mineral mines. Much of the coal and mineral exports have resulted from partnering with Chinese firms through which the Chinese side provides modern equipment in exchange for a supply of the product being mined or manufactured. China is a major source for North Korean imports of petroleum. According to Chinese data, in 2008, exports to the DPRK of crude oil reached $414 million, and exports of oil (not crude) totaled $120 million. Total exports of mineral fuel oil of $585 million accounted for 29% of all Chinese exports to the DPRK. China, however, does not appear to be selling this oil to North Korea at concessionary prices. In 2008, the average price for Chinese exports of crude oil to North Korea was $0.78 per kilogram, while it was $0.71 for such exports to the United States, $0.66 for South Korea, $0.81 for Japan, and $0.50 for Thailand. China also provides aid directly to Pyongyang. By bypassing the United Nations, China is able to use its assistance to pursue its own political goals independently of the goals of other countries. It is widely believed that some Chinese food aid is taken by the DPRK military. This allows the World Food Program’s food aid to be targeted at the general population without risk that the military-first policy or regime stability would be undermined by foreign aid policies of other countries. China is the largest foreign direct investor in North Korea (not counting South Korean investment in the Kaesong Industrial Complex). In 2007, the total foreign direct investment (FDI) into the DPRK reported to the United Nations amounted to $67 million (excludes investment from South Korea). Of this, China supplied $18.4 million. In 2008, of a total of $44 million, China supplied $41.2 million. Chinese companies have made major investments aimed at developing mineral resources located in the northern region of the DPRK. This is part of a Chinese strategy of stabilizing the border region with the DPRK, lessening the pressure on North Koreans to migrate to China, and raising the general standard of living in the DPRK. Some of the Chinese investment include:

  • China Tonghua Iron and Steel Group (a state owned but partially privatized enterprise) has invested 7 billion yuan (approximately $875 million) in developing the DPRK’s Musan Iron Mine, the largest open-cut iron mine in Asia with verified iron-rich ore reserves reaching seven billion tons.
  • China’s Tangshan Iron and Steel Company (Hong Kong capital) is building a steel smelting plant in the DPRK with an annual steel output of 1.5 million tons. It is to be jointly funded by the DPRK side and is to involve joint development and utilization of nearby iron ore.
  • The China Iron and Steel Group (joint stock enterprise) reportedly is developing a molybdenum mine in the DPRK with a goal of producing more than 10,000 tons of molybdenum concentrate per year.
  • China’s Jilin Province also has cooperated with the Hyesan Youth Copper Mine, Manp’o Zinc and Lead Mine, and the Hoeryo’ng Gold Mine in the DPRK. One project is to transmit electricity from Jilin’s Changbai County to the DPRK in exchange for the gold, copper, and other ores. In 2007, the Luanhe Industrial Group and another unnamed Chinese privately owned company took a 51% controlling interest in Hyesan Youth Copper Mine.
  • China’s Heshi Industry and Trade Company (a private company) along with the International Mining Company have set up a joint venture with the DPRK’s So’gyo’ng 4 Trade Company called the “DPRK-China International Mining Company.”
  • China Minmetals (State controlled enterprise) established a joint venture for mining coal with the DPRK at the Ryongdu’ng Coal Mine.
  • China’s Zhaoyuan Shandong Guoda Gold Stockholding Company and the DPRK Committee for the Promotion of External Economic Cooperation have established a joint venture mining company to mine the gold in the DPRK’s Mt. Sangnong and to ship all the mined gold concentrate to Zhaoyuan for smelting. …

China, however, has cooperated with the U.N. sanctions by cancelling a joint venture with North Korea to produce vanadium (used to toughen steel alloys used in missile casings) and has intercepted a shipment of 70 kilograms of vanadium hidden in a truckload of fruit crossing the border into North Korea. In 2008, China exported an estimated $100 million to $160 million in sanctioned luxury goods. China’s monthly exports of luxury goods prohibited under the U.N. Resolutions. The resolutions did not specify exactly which Harmonized System trade categories were affected. Therefore, banned items was generated using the Harmonized System categories that appear to match most closely those categories listed by the U.S. Department of Commerce and European countries in their export control orders. The figure indicates that the ban has had little effect on China’s exports of luxury goods to the DPRK. Following both UN resolutions, such exports continued to rise with some month-to-month fluctuations. Note that the food and beverage category includes only luxury food items such as prepared beef, caviar, crab/lobster/shellfish, and alcoholic beverages. It also is apparent from the figure that Pyongyang seems to go on a buying spree for luxury goods in December, possibly in preparation for celebrations and gift giving associated with the New Year. Chinese exports of luxury goods to the DPRK averaged around $11 million per month in 2009, while total Chinese exports to the DPRK have been in the range of $100 to $200 million per month. It is possible that China views sanctions on exports of luxury goods as “unenforceable,” since such goods can be bought on the open market by North Korean traders (and their representatives) who are engaged in buying a variety of other consumer goods from wholesale and retail outlets. China also may be focusing its efforts on large, security related items rather than luxury goods. (Dick K. Nanto, Mark E. Manyin, and Kerry Dumbaugh, “China-North Korea Relations,” Congressional Research Service, March 9, 2010)

France’s move to improve relations with North Korea has stalled as South Korea, the United States, and Japan voice concerns that it will send the wrong message while Pyongyang continues to stay away from multilateral talks on its nuclear program, a South Korean government source said. France, the only European Union member without a normal diplomatic relationship with North Korea, launched a diplomatic outreach to Pyongyang last year, with President Nicolas Sarkozy sending a high-level envoy to the socialist nation last November. The efforts appeared to produce progress, as the North announced the following month that it approved France’s plan to open a cultural office in its capital as part of broader efforts to eventually establish diplomatic ties between the two sides. “t no further progress is being made,” the source said, citing information from the French government. “South Korea and France’s other friendly nations including the U.S. and Japan delivered opinions that such a move may send a wrong message to North Korea at a time when it is refusing to return to the six-way talks.” (Yonhap, “France Faces Backlash against Plan to Open Office in Pyongyang,” North Korea Newsletter, No. 97, March 11, 2010)

Goodby: “Participants in the Six-party Talks have said that a peace treaty can be negotiated once the North Korean nuclear issue has been resolved. North Korea has declared that a peace treaty should be negotiated now, as part of the North Korea’s return to the Six-party talks. It goes without saying that this demand is a political impossibility. You don’t conclude and ratify a peace treaty overnight. … One of the main ways to open the process towards a peace regime could be negotiating a U.S. – North Korea interim agreement on regulating military activities on and around the Korean Peninsula, in the context of a North Korean acceptance of disabling and dismantlement of its weapons programme. South Korea should join in, and probably China. This interim agreement would not be a peace treaty. Relations are not yet mature enough for that. But, this agreement could define borders and provide a Four-party Consultative mechanism between North and South Korea, China and the United States – those nations most directly concerned with the Armistice Agreement. European post-war experiences might be useful references in this process, including military confidence-building measures, a CSCE invention in 1970s. Such agreements, like “an incidents at sea” agreement, which helped the U.S. and Soviet navies avoid confrontations in the last years of the Cold War, would be a genuine step forward.” (James Goodby and Markku Heiskanen, “Northeast Asia – A Major Global Challenge for the New Decade” NAPSnet, March 9, 2010)


3/10/10:
North Korea plans to replace Ri Tcheul, its ambassador to U.N. agencies in Geneva, who is believed to be a key manager of leader Kim Jong-il’s alleged secret funds stashed overseas, Yonhap reported, citing an unidentified diplomat in Bern. Ri is to step down as early as late this month after about 30 years of service in Switzerland. “Ri Tcheul has been exposed too much” as the manager of the secret funds, said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. (Hyung-jin Kim, “Report: N. Korea to Replace Top Diplomat in Geneva,” Associated Press, March 10, 2010)

U.S. troops who would be tasked with eliminating North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction in the event of armed conflict are participating in military drills with South Korea, the top U.S. commander in the country said. “They are here for this exercise and if we ever went to war, they would naturally come also,” Army Gen. Walter Sharp told reporters at Yongsan Garrison, the main U.S. military headquarters in central Seoul. Sharp said that the troops are carrying out daily exercises with South Korean troops to practice locating, securing and eliminating the North’s weapons of mass destruction. “What we are training for is all the threats that North Korea can throw at us,” Sharp said. About 18,000 American soldiers and an undisclosed number of South Korean troops are taking part in the war games, dubbed Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, according to U.S. and South Korean militaries. Some involve computer simulation. (Kwang-tae Kim, “U.S. Anti-WMD Troops Join Military Drills in S. Korea,” Associated Press, March 11, 2010)


3/11/10:
Daniel Glaser, deputy assistant secretary of the treasury for terrorist financing and financial crimes, held talks with officials of the foreign and finance ministries in Seoul on North Korea and financial issues between Seoul and Washington, a diplomatic source said. (Yonhap, “Senior U.S. Official Handling N. Korea Sanctions Visits S. Korea,” March 12, 2010)


3/12/10:
Top nuclear negotiators of South Korea and Japan urged North Korea Friday to immediately return to six-nation talks on ending its nuclear programs. The meeting between South Korea’s Wi Sung-lac and his Japanese counterpart, Akitaka Saiki, was held in Seoul as Saiki stopped here on his way to Jeju for a meeting with Japanese diplomats. Wi and Saiki agreed there will be no reward for North Korea’s mere return to the nuclear negotiations that also involve the United States and Russia. “The sides agreed the North must return to the six-party talks without any preconditions, and that although North Korea continues to demand the removal of U.N. sanctions, such a move can only be considered when there is significant progress in the denuclearization of North Korea,” the official said. The ministry official said the North appears to want the removal of the U.N. sanctions more than the start of discussions for a peace treaty that would officially end the 1950-53 Korean War. “What is blocking the resumption of the talks is the sanctions,” the official said. (Byun Duk-kun, “Nuclear Envoys of Seoul, Tokyo Urge N. Korea’s Return to 6-Way Talks,” Yonhap, March 12, 2010)

The government pledged to develop technology that will dramatically reduce radioactive waste and recycle spent nuclear fuel as an alternative resource. The pledge, a thinly veiled protest against U.S. refusals to allow Korea to reprocess its own spent nuclear fuel rods, was made by Prime Minister Chung Un-chan in his opening speech at the 2010 Summit of Honor on Atoms for Peace and Environment that kicked off in Seoul. “The premise to the successful worldwide adoption and use of atomic technology is bilateral or multilateral cooperation through sharing of relevant information and experience,” he said. Seoul is banned from reprocessing spent fuel rods under a nuclear agreement with the U.S., signed in 1953 and amended in 1973. It expires in 2014, and the two sides are gearing up for negotiations for its renewal. However, former International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei said today, “All new enrichment and reprocessing activities, anywhere in the world, in future should be put exclusively under multilateral control.” He said that the “final step” would be “to convert all existing enrichment and reprocessing facilities from national to multinational operations.” (Chosun Ilbo, Seoul Pledges to Develop Nuclear recycling Technologies,” March 12, 2010)

Constructive dialogue and engagement are needed to resolve North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, the former secretary general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.In a press conference held at the Summit of Honor on Atoms for Peace and Environment (SHAPE) in Seoul, Mohamed ElBaradei said that while pressure can resolve an impasse, a solution to ending Pyongyang’s nuclear program will come from holding talks.”In my opinion, the issue involves North Korea’s insecurity and need for economic development, and in order for headway to be made, the world should address both these issues,” he claimed. He said that only by alleviating concerns that Pyongyang will not be attacked or be subject to regime change can there be progress. On South Korea’s mounting nuclear fuel waste problem that may force it to come up with a “definitive” solution by 2016, ElBaradei said a multi-lateral solution should be followed that is safe, economical and does not risk current non-proliferation efforts. He added that working with other countries is better than taking independent measures, even if South Korea has the know-how to engage in such advanced technologies as pyroprocessing. (Yonhap, “Dialogue Needed to Resolve N. Korean Nuclear Standoff: ElBaradei,” North Korea Newsletter, No. 98, March 18, 2010) South Korea is contemplating a decision that could have critical implications for the future of the international nonproliferation regime: whether to reprocess its spent fuel. Driven by a combination of factors—local government resistance to extended spent fuel storage at its nuclear power plants, irritation that the United States has consented to spent fuel reprocessing in Japan but not South Korea, and alarm over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program—much of South Korea’s nuclear establishment wants to do so. Japan is the only non-nuclear-weapon state today that reprocesses or attempts to do so. Reprocessing makes no sense economically, and contrary to the claims of its advocates, it complicates radioactive waste disposal. Given the U.S. inability to site either a geological repository or a central interim spent fuel storage facility, there should be some sympathy in the United States for the plight of the nuclear utilities in South Korea and Japan. Yet, the United States has another option once the spent fuel storage pools at its power reactors become full: dry-cask storage of the older, cooler spent fuel next to the reactors. Japan’s and South Korea’s nuclear utilities claim that they do not have that option because local governments are not allowing them to build on-site dry-cask storage. Reprocessing creates huge flows and stockpiles of separated plutonium. Japan’s reprocessing plant in full operation will separate enough plutonium to make 1,000 nuclear bombs annually. South Korea’s nuclear establishment proposes not to separate the plutonium completely from other transuranic elements, but the final separation step would be relatively trivial. The United States consented to Japan’s reprocessing program during the Carter administration only after the issue had escalated to the point where Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda was stating publicly that the right to reprocess was “a life or death issue for Japan.” The trauma of the 1973 Arab oil embargo was still a fresh memory, and it is likely that the prime minister had been convinced by Japan’s nuclear energy establishment that a rapid transition to plutonium breeder reactors, which require reprocessing, would free Japan from a similar dependence on imported uranium. Today the rhetoric around reprocessing is escalating in South Korea. Following North Korea’s nuclear test in May 2009, the political opposition demanded that South Korea have “nuclear sovereignty,” i.e., the same rights as Japan. The 1974 U.S.-South Korean nuclear cooperation agreement requires U.S. consent if “any irradiated fuel elements containing fuel material received from the United States of America [are to be] altered in form or content.” As a matter of policy, South Korea requests that the United States agree to such activities even if U.S.-origin material is not involved. The cooperation agreement will expire in 2014, however, and South Korea wants to negotiate a new agreement that will give it the same programmatic permission that the United States has given the European Union, Japan, Switzerland, and, with certain conditions, India. South Korea’s government-supported Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) has launched a campaign to try to convince the Obama administration and the U.S. nongovernmental nonproliferation community to agree to this proposal. At the end of January 2010, the U.S. government responded to high-level South Korean lobbying on this issue by agreeing with South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Chun Yung-woo to what he described as “a technological and economical feasibility study by experts on pyro-processing prior to the negotiations on revising” the 1974 nuclear cooperation agreement. Pyroprocessing is the variant of reprocessing that South Korea is pursuing. If the U.S. government and nonproliferation community accept South Korea’s need to reprocess, however, it will become difficult to resist the same demand from additional countries. South Africa, for example, also has expressed an interest in reprocessing. One of its nuclear officials has described reprocessing as “an element of contemporary power relations.” Implementation of pyroprocessing in South Korea would be inconsistent with its 1992 joint declaration with North Korea on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Under this agreement, the two countries agreed not to “possess nuclear reprocessing and uranium enrichment facilities.” Pyroprocessing advocates in South Korea point out that North Korea has repeatedly broken the 1992 agreement and argue that there is little hope that North Korea will denuclearize any time in the foreseeable future. If South Korea were to launch a pyroprocessing program, however, it would at best further complicate efforts to persuade North Korea to carry through on the commitment it made in 2005 to end its nuclear program. At worst, it could lead to a nuclear arms race between South and North. Concerns that South Korea’s interest in reprocessing could destabilize the nonproliferation regime should stimulate China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the United States—the countries that, along with North Korea, are the participants in the six-party talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear program—to discuss alternatives to a proliferation of national reprocessing plants. The U.S. government must also resist demands from some congressional Republicans that spent fuel reprocessing be part of any U.S. program to deal with climate change. South Korea has nuclear power reactors at four sites with a combined generating capacity of about 18 gigawatts-electric (GWe) and more reactors with a total additional 10 GWe under construction. There are plans to build enough generating capacity for an additional 15 GWe by 2030. That would bring total South Korean nuclear generating capacity to 43 GWe, almost equal to Japan’s nuclear generating capacity today. South Korea’s nuclear utility, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP), has stated that the spent fuel pools at some of its power reactors will be full in 2016. In theory, the older spent fuel in the pools could be shifted to the pools of newer reactors being built on some of the same sites or to dry-cask storage, as is standard practice at U.S. nuclear power plants. In practice, local communities in South Korea are expected to resist both of these on-site storage expansion approaches. In January 2009, the South Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy established the Korea Radioactive Waste Management Corporation and launched a public consensus process to formulate a national policy on spent fuel management. Six months later, however, the Blue House (South Korea’s equivalent of the U.S. White House) halted the process and then announced that a legal framework was required and that expert opinion would have to be solicited first. The political issues facing South Korea with regard to interim storage are similar to the ones that Japan has been confronting for about 25 years. Originally, Japanese nuclear utilities embraced reprocessing because they shared the vision promoted in the 1960s by the United States that the future of nuclear power would be plutonium breeder reactors. In the 1980s, therefore, Japanese nuclear utilities began to ship their spent fuel to Europe for reprocessing to obtain separated plutonium for startup cores for breeder reactors. Today, Japan’s nuclear establishment does not expect to commercialize breeder reactors until after 2050. Therefore, it is trying to dispose of almost 50 tons of separated plutonium by recycling it into fuel for the light-water reactors (LWRs) that originally produced it. Japan’s reprocessing program continues, however, and Japan has even built its own hugely costly reprocessing plant because the facility provides an interim storage destination for both Japan’s spent fuel and the reprocessing waste that is being shipped back from France and the United Kingdom. Commercial operation of the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant, which has a design capacity to reprocess 800 tons of spent fuel annually, has been delayed for more than eight years. The plant’s on-site storage capacity for about 3,000 tons of spent fuel is almost full. In any case, the plant does not have the capacity to reprocess spent fuel at the same rate it is discharged from the country’s power reactors. As a result, Japanese utilities are still confronted with the challenge of building additional storage capacity. KAERI, with support from the South Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, urges that the spent fuel from the country’s pressurized water reactors (PWRs) be reprocessed using pyroprocessing technology. That technology electrochemically separates the elements in the fuel after they have been dissolved in molten salt instead of in acid, as is done in standard PUREX reprocessing. The plutonium and other transuranic elements recovered from PWR fuel then would be recycled repeatedly in the fuel of liquid-sodium-cooled fast-neutron reactors until they were completely fissioned except for process losses. The liquid-sodium-cooled reactors would be basically the same plutonium breeder reactors on which the industrialized countries have spent about $100 billion in research and development (R&D) and (mostly failed) demonstration projects, but with their cores reconfigured so that they would be net consumers rather than producers of plutonium. Opinion within South Korea’s government is supportive of pyroprocessing R&D but divided on actual deployment. KHNP refuses to back KAERI’s proposed approach until it sees credible cost estimates. KAERI has had a modest R&D program on spent fuel reprocessing ever since the early 1970s, when South Korea briefly pursued nuclear weapons after President Richard Nixon proposed that U.S. allies in Asia take primary responsibility for their own defense. Since 1997, KAERI has been doing R&D related to pyroprocessing. About 10 percent of KAERI’s 1,100 employees work on this effort. This small group of government-funded researchers has had an outsized impact on South Korean spent fuel management policy. Like their counterparts at the Argonne and Idaho national laboratories in the United States, their primary interest is to sustain political support for reprocessing and fast-neutron-reactor R&D. Given public concerns about radioactive waste, key politicians have seized on KAERI’s claim to have a “solution” to the spent fuel problem. KAERI has not yet carried out any processing of irradiated fuel in its pyroprocessing R&D program but has requested U.S. permission to do so. It has constructed an Advanced Spent Fuel Conditioning Process Facility capable of converting the uranium and transuranic elements in 20-kilogram batches of spent PWR fuel from oxide to metal form. No chemical separation would occur at this stage, but the high temperatures involved would drive off the volatile element cesium-137, which generates most of the gamma radiation field around spent fuel that is more than a decade since discharge. This would make it much easier to separate the plutonium. Although plutonium recovered from LWR fuel is not of weapons grade, it is weapons usable. A single 1-GWe pressurized-water nuclear power plant discharges about 200 kilograms of plutonium in its spent fuel annually—enough, if separated, for 25 Nagasaki-type nuclear bombs. Vice President Dick Cheney’s 2001 energy task force declared pyroprocessing more “proliferation resistant” than conventional reprocessing. Pyroprocessing was one focus of the Bush administration’s Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative, which included collaborative research on pyroprocessing between KAERI and the Department of Energy’s nuclear energy laboratories. For some time, Bush administration officials who were sympathetic to South Korea’s interest in pyroprocessing even tried to argue that “pyroprocessing is not reprocessing.” KAERI has made similar claims. The primary basis for the claim that pyroprocessing is proliferation resistant is that, unlike traditional PUREX reprocessing, it does not produce pure plutonium. However, like PUREX, pyroprocessing separates plutonium from the fission products that account for most of the gamma radiation field around spent fuel. As a result, the radiation field around the transuranic mix produced by pyroprocessing would be reduced to about 0.1 percent of that around the spent fuel and to less than 1 percent of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s self-protection standard. Therefore, it would be possible to separate plutonium from the mix without the remote operations behind heavy shielding required for recovering plutonium from spent fuel. Given the confusion that was generated during the Bush administration, it is useful that the implications of this fact were recently stated clearly in a report by an Energy Department multilaboratory task force: “The assessment focuses on determining whether three alternative reprocessing technologies—COEX, UREX+, and pyroprocessing—provide nonproliferation advantages relative to the PUREX technology because they do not produce separated plutonium. [We] found only a modest improvement in reducing proliferation risk over existing PUREX technologies and these modest improvements apply primarily for non-state actors.” Pyroprocessing thus is slightly more proliferation resistant than traditional PUREX reprocessing but much less proliferation resistant than not reprocessing at all. KHNP currently projects that the spent fuel storage space at its Kori, Wolsong, Ulchin, and Yonggwang sites will be full in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2021, respectively—only six to 11 years hence. KAERI will still be early in its pyroprocessing R&D program at that time. It has proposed completion of: 1. An engineering-scale facility with the capacity to reprocess 10 tons of PWR spent fuel per year by 2016. By that time, South Korean PWRs will be discharging more than 400 tons of spent fuel per year. 2. A prototype facility with the capacity to reprocess 100 tons of spent fuel per year by 2025. By 2030, South Korean PWRs are expected to be discharging about 800 tons of spent fuel per year. KAERI does not project a date for having an operational pyroprocessing facility capable of dealing with South Korean spent PWR fuel at a rate at which it is being produced, but it proposes building only one 0.6 GWe demonstration fast-neutron reactor before 2050. In order to fission the transuranics discharged annually in the spent fuel of 40 GWe of PWRs—the nuclear generation capacity South Korea is projecting it will have in 2030—it would have to deploy 16-30 GWe of fast-reactor capacity. Thus, before 2050, KAERI’s program would address only a small fraction of KHNP’s spent fuel production. Whatever the long-term solution for South Korean spent fuel, it will need more interim storage. In the meantime, if KAERI’s prototype pyroprocessing facility and fast-neutron reactor were built and operated at full capacity, South Korea would be accumulating about 100 bomb equivalents of excess separated plutonium annually. The demonstration fast-neutron reactor would have a generating capacity of 0.6 GWe and would require an initial fuel-cycle inventory of 2-3 tons of plutonium. After it started, however, even if operated at 90 percent average capacity, it would have a net consumption of only 0.2-0.4 tons of transuranics per year, while the prototype pyroprocessing facility would be separating out about a ton per year. Even South Korea’s proposed engineering-scale pyroprocessing plant, if operated at full capacity, would separate out about 100 kilograms of plutonium annually, enough for more than 10 Nagasaki-type bombs. Therefore, South Korea’s pyroprocessing R&D program would deliver a nuclear-weapon option quite quickly, as did India’s reprocessing program. Thus, South Korea would be going down the same track as France, India, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom, where huge stockpiles of excess separated plutonium were produced with reprocessing plants that were originally proposed in the 1970s on the basis of expectations that, by 2000, the world would be building more than 100 GWe of fast-neutron reactor capacity each year. Pending the construction of a geological repository, South Korea would have to store at its pyroprocessing plant the fission products, the surplus transuranics, and the uranium separated from the spent fuel. It would be far less costly and much less destabilizing both to the nonproliferation regime and the disarmament negotiations with North Korea if interim storage of these materials were in intact fuel, i.e., if South Korea did not have a stockpile of separated weapons-usable material. In Japan, the extra cost of PUREX reprocessing has been estimated by Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission as $2,400 per kilogram. A U.S. national laboratory comparison has found that the cost of pyroprocessing could be considerably higher than for PUREX reprocessing. By comparison, the cost of centralized interim dry-cask storage for LWR spent fuel is very inexpensive—only about $100 per kilogram. KAERI argues that South Korea is not large enough to accommodate the repositories that would be required to hold the quantity of unreprocessed spent fuel projected to be discharged by South Korean PWRs by 2100. Yet, KAERI’s claims for reductions in repository size that could be achieved by pyroprocessing are incorrect for South Korea because they are based on analyses that have been done by U.S. pyroprocessing advocates for Yucca Mountain. In those analyses, the area of a spent fuel repository is determined by the requirement that the peak temperature in the rock midway between the waste-holding tunnels in a repository not exceed the boiling temperature of water, in order to allow the passage of liquid water downward between the tunnels. This temperature, about 40 meters from the spent fuel casks, would peak about 2,000 years after the emplacement of the spent fuel. During this period, the long-lived transuranics would be the dominant contributors to the accumulated radioactive heat in the rock around the tunnels. This analysis is irrelevant to the Swedish type of geological repository being considered by KAERI, in which spent fuel would be buried in copper canisters embedded in clay in water-saturated granite. For KAERI’s design, the capacity limit would be determined by the requirement that the clay around the canister not dry out and crack. Therefore, the amount of spent fuel that can be emplaced in a cask is determined by the current heat output of the spent fuel, not its output over millennia. KAERI’s analyses assume that spent PWR fuel would be emplaced in a repository 40 years after discharge from the reactor. At that time, the transuranics account for slightly less than one-half of the radioactive heat generation from spent fuel. Eliminating them would increase the capacity of a repository approximately by a factor of two. The same result could be accomplished, however, by waiting until the spent fuel is 100 years old before emplacing it in the repository. By then, the 30-year-half-life fission products that dominate the fission-product heat output at 40 years would have largely decayed away. Because of political constraints imposed by local governments on the amount of spent fuel that can be stored at its reactor sites, South Korea must, by around 2020, either find a way to relax those constraints or find an off-site location to which spent fuel can be shipped. KAERI has proposed spent fuel pyroprocessing and transuranic recycle in fast-neutron reactors as a solution, but it does not propose to deploy more than a demonstration fast-neutron reactor before 2050. Therefore, if South Korea pyroprocesses on a large scale before 2050, the separated weapons-usable transuranic elements and fission-product waste would simply accumulate at the pyroprocessing plant. It would be far less costly simply to store South Korean spent fuel, at least until the country can demonstrate that it can succeed in commercializing large numbers of sodium-cooled fast-neutron reactors where all other countries have failed. More importantly from an international security perspective, pyroprocessing would make plutonium much more accessible, exacerbating the danger of nuclear weapons proliferation. If reprocessing does not facilitate radioactive waste management and is costly and proliferative, it would be far better for the number of countries that are reprocessing to continue to decline rather than to add a second non-nuclear-weapon state to their number. South Korea requires more interim spent-fuel storage. Its government should launch public consultations and see whether there are conditions under which one or more local governments would be willing to provide additional interim storage and perhaps a geological repository for its spent fuel. Aomori Prefecture, which hosts Japan’s reprocessing plant, received 190 billion yen ($1.7 billion) in incentive payments by 2004 before the plant was completed and has been promised 24,000 yen ($216) for every kilogram of spent fuel shipped to the plant. That will total another 760 billion yen ($7 billion) for the projected 32,000 tons of spent fuel that are to be reprocessed during the lifetime of the plant. The total subsidy will be 30 times the $300 million incentive that was part of the package that helped persuade the local governments around South Korea’s Wolsong site to host a 2-square-kilometer underground repository for low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste. Given the inherently low danger from stored spent fuel that has cooled for about two decades in comparison with that from the fuel in an operating nuclear power plant or freshly discharged fuel in at-reactor spent-fuel cooling pools, it is quite possible that, if the compensation were comparable to what Aomori Prefecture is receiving for hosting the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant, a jurisdiction already hosting a nuclear power plant might be willing to host an interim spent fuel storage site as well. The cost would still be small in comparison to the estimated 11 trillion yen ($100 billion) cost of building, operating, and decommissioning the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant. In fact, in Sweden and Finland, local jurisdictions that already host nuclear power plants have volunteered to host deep-underground spent-fuel repositories. In the meantime, if R&D on fast-neutron reactors is to continue, it should be done on a multinational basis. Because of the high cost, proliferation concerns, and uncertainty whether these reactors will be cost effective, it does not make sense to develop fast-neutron reactors in national programs. The multinational alternative would be to emulate the fusion energy community where the countries with major fusion energy programs have decided to build a single experimental reactor jointly. Indeed, because of the decline in fission R&D funds, 13 countries established the Generation IV International Forum in 2001 to coordinate their R&D on advanced fission reactors. More than half expressed interest in joint work on fast-neutron reactors: China, the European Union, France, Japan, South Korea, and the United States. Russia, whose nuclear establishment also has a major commitment to fast-neutron reactor R&D, joined the Gen IV Forum in 2006. These countries could use China’s existing small experimental fast-neutron reactor and the BN-800 demonstration reactor being built by Russia for joint R&D. Given the huge surplus of already separated plutonium that some of them already possess, there would be no need to reprocess to acquire the fuel. Far better would be to restrict the focus of collaborative R&D to reactor types that do not require reprocessing. Collaboration on nuclear energy among China, Japan, and South Korea would be especially useful for trust building and nonproliferation in East Asia. What is needed especially is multinational cooperation in the sensitive parts of the nuclear fuel cycle that are required by current-generation reactors operating on a once-through fuel cycle, namely uranium enrichment and spent fuel repositories. (Frank N. von Hippel, “South Korean Reprocessing: An Unnecessary Threat to the Nonproliferation Regime,” Arms Control Today, March 2010, 22-27)


3/13/10:
A UN rights expert has accused North Korea’s regime of turning the country “into one big prison,” saying widespread abuses by Pyongyang put it in a class of its own. In a report due to be examined at the UN Human Rights Council on Monday, the expert, Vitit Muntarbhorn, said the ruling elite had created “a pervasive ‘state of fear’ or ‘state as one big prison'” for the masses. He called on top UN bodies such as the Security Council and International Criminal Court to play a more active role in tackling the impunity of the state, potentially for crimes against humanity. “Abuses against the general population for which the authorities should be responsible are both egregious and endemic,” the special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea said. “The human rights situation in this country can be described as ‘sui generis’ — in its own category — given the multiple particularities and anomalies that abound. Simply put, there are many instances of human rights violations which are both harrowing and horrific,” Muntarbhorn’s report said, accusing the military regime of trying “to perpetuate its survival at the cost of the people.” He called on North Korea to immediately restore equitable food distribution, halt executions, physical abuse and violations of civil liberties, and allow him into the country. North Korea has refused to cooperate with the UN expert. Muntarbhorn has relied on interviews with people who fled to neighboring countries and information from rights groups and other sources. “Practices to instill fear among the population are rampant, including public executions, torture, collective punishments and mistreatment of women and children,” as well as extensive surveillance, he noted. He also highlighted reports that the regime had tightened its grip on food distribution by prohibiting smallholders and markets. “The situation concerning food shortages in 2009 — with impact on 2010 — remains severe,” especially in the northeast, he added. Muntarbhorn stressed that “the problem is not simply food shortage but distorted food distribution, from which the elite benefits.” (AFP, U.N. Expert Slams ‘Horrific’ Abuse in North Korea,” March 13, 2010) In a report monitored in Seoul, KCNA declared that Pyongyang will never recognize the “ghost-like” special rapporteur on its human rights, insisting that the system is a “leftover of the already defunct” U.N. committee on human rights. (Yonhap, “N. Korea Rejects Role of U.N. Rights Rapporteur on It,” March 13, 2010)


3/14/10:
South Korea recently started constructing a test facility for a sodium-cooled fast reactor capable of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel without generating weapons-grade plutonium, an official at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute said. The move seeks to get around a clause in the Korea-U.S. Atomic Energy Agreement that bans Seoul from reprocessing its own nuclear fuel. The agreement expires in 2014. KAERI said it started constructing the W30 billion (US$1=W1,129) experimental facility last month at a science research and development center in Daedeok, Daejeon, and plans to complete construction in 2014. The facility contains a 1:125 scale reactor enabling researchers to conduct tests under identical pressure or temperature conditions as a real reactor. KAERI plans to use the research data to build a full-scale facility by 2028. The country’s capacity to store spent nuclear fuel is reaching its limit. As of the end of last year, South Korea had over 10,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel, and the amount is increasing some 700 tons every year. “We’ve been storing spent nuclear fuel at Gori and Wolseong nuclear power plants, but the facilities will be completely full by 2016,” a government official said. “We can’t build more storage facilities since residents oppose them, so the sodium-cooled fast reactor is the best way to deal with this problem.” China, France, Japan, the U.S. and other advanced countries plan to put similar reactors into operation around 2030. It remains to be seen how the U.S. will react, since Washington is against South Korea’s move to develop the technology, citing the impact it may have on efforts to scrap North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. A senior South Korean official said the process will be entirely transparent “to gain the understanding and support of the international community.” (Chosun Ilbo, “S. Korea Builds Experimental Nuclear Reprocessing Plant,:” March 15, 2010)

North Korea’s food imports from China more than tripled in January from a year earlier, an indication the impoverished nation is bracing for serious food shortages. North Korea brought in 13,834 tons of grain from the neighboring ally in January, a 3.6-fold increase from 3,869 tons a year earlier, said Kwon Tae-jin, a senior researcher on the North’s agricultural sector at the South’s Korea Rural Economic Institute, in a posting on his blog. Rice accounted for about 61 percent or 8,425 tons of the North’s grain imports from China, followed by corn with 3,448 tons, beans with 1,553 tons and wheat with 304 tons, Kwon said, citing data from the Korea International Trade Association. “The big rise in imports of corn and beans, which the North didn’t bring in last year, appears to be not only because the country’s corn harvest was not good, but also suggests the North increased imports over concerns about possible food shortages,” he said. Kwon also said that the North’s regime could have increased imports to enlarge state food rations after last year’s currency reform caused strains on the country’s food supply system. (Yonhap, “N Korea’s Food Imports from China More Than Triple in January,” North Korea Newsletter, No. 98, March 18, 2010)

A propaganda poster in front of the Pyongyang First Department Store shows massive fireworks that took place in April last year and a long-distance rocket whose launch ended in failure last year, both hailed as achievements of leader Kim Jong-il’s son and heir apparent Jong-un. (Chosun Ilbo, “N. Korea Celebrate ‘Achievements’ of Leader’s Heir,” March 15, 2010)


3/16/10:
Horrible and getting worse best describes public opinion of the performance of PM Hatoyama and his administration, with 32 percent of voters saying they support the government, down 5 points from last month, according to an Asahi Shimbun survey conducted March 13-14. Those who said they did not support the Hatoyama government rose 1 point from the previous poll conducted Feb. 20 and 21 to 47 percent. Asked if the recent string of political fund mismanagement cases that have hit Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan would affect their votes in the Upper House election this summer, 56 percent of respondents said they would “greatly” affect their decision. This compared with 36 percent who said no. The opposition Liberal Democratic Party was not doing much better, however, with only 15 percent of voters saying they supported the party, down from 18 percent in the previous poll. Meanwhile, unaffiliated voters rose to 50 percent, up from 41 percent in the previous poll. (Asahi Shimbun, “Hatoyama’s Approval; Rating Dives to 32%,” March 16, 2010)


3/17/10:
North Korea has increased its missile arsenal by 25 percent in the past two years to about 1,000, expanding the threat the state poses to the region, the South’s defense chief Kim Tae-young said. Pyongyang’s arsenal includes intermediate-range missiles that can hit targets at up to 3,000 km (1,860 miles) away, Yonhap quoted Kim as telling a forum of business leaders. The missiles could hit all of Japan and put U.S. military bases in Guam at risk. South Korea’s last estimate of 800 missiles was done in 2008, Yonhap said. (Jack Kim, “N. Korea Has 1,000 Missiles, South Says,” Reuters, March 17, 2010)

A copy of North Korea’s 2008 census obtained by Hankyoreh shows the population of North Korea to be 24,052,231, with the male population of 11,711,838 totaling 95.1 percent of the female population of 12,330,393. This stands in contrast with the slight preponderance of males in the North Korean population, amounting to 101 percent of the female population as of 2006. The population of those aged 65 or older in the overall North Korean population was around 8.8 percent, or 2,096,648 people, indicating a higher percentage of the elderly than in China (8 percent) or India (5 percent). Park Keong-suk, a Seoul National University professor who analyzed the 2008 census data, said that the percentage of those under the ages of 35 to 40 has shrunk. Park said, “It is not as rapid as in South Korea, but North Korea is also showing the pattern of an aging society.” Between October 1 and 15, 2008, some 35 thousand census takers and 8 thousand supervisors were mobilized to carry out the survey in an interview format. The Central Statistics Bureau submitted a sealed copy of its final census report to the U.N. in December 2009, and the specific data have not been released to the public to date. (Hankyoreh, “Census Figures Reveal N. Korea Is Also an Aging Society,” March 17, 2010) Estimates indicate that the number of North Koreans who starved to death during the famine in the mid to late 1990s is estimated around 340 thousand people. Park Keong-suk, Seoul National University sociology professor, reached this conclusion after comparing and analyzing data from the 2008 census and the 1993 census reportedly carried out independently by North Korean authorities. The latest figures are considered have a relatively greater amount of objectivity than the various projections presented previously, as they have been gathered through a formal census procedure. Park said, “If you ignore the scale of migrants [overseas North Koreans who cannot be confirmed statistically], North Korea’s population loss since 1993 as a result of the size of changes in birth and death rates is estimated at around 630 thousand people.” Park added that the population loss as a result of the falling birth rate is around 290 thousand, while the loss resulting from an increased death rate is around 340 thousand. (Hankyoreh, “N.K. Census Says 340 Thousand Died during N. Korea’s ‘March of Tribulation,’” March 17, 2010)

North Korea has informed South Korea of its plan to look into all of the real estate owned by South Koreans inside the scenic mountain resort along its east coast, the South’s government confirmed Thursday, as Pyongyang apparently grows impatient with Seoul’s refusal to allow its citizens to travel there. In a recently faxed message to the South Korean government, the North’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, a state agency in charge of cross-border exchanges, said, “South Korean figures who possess real estate in the Mount Kumgang district should come to Mount Kumgang by March 25,” according to the Unification Ministry, which deals with inter-Korean affairs. The North went on to say, “All assets of those who do not meet the deadline will be confiscated and they won’t be able to visit Mount Kumgang again.” (Yonhap, “N. Korea Threatens to Seize S. Korean Assets at Mount Kumgang,” March 18, 2010)

South Korean FM Yu Myung-hwan met his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi in Beijing. Seoul has repeatedly rejected the North’s demands, saying such concessions will only be possible after the communist nation first returns to the nuclear talks and makes significant progress toward denuclearization. China, on the other hand, is said to favor a compromise — the resumption of the six-way talks after what officials called a “preliminary” meeting to see what each side wants and what they can give. “China has not made any specific demands for South Korea to act in any certain way. It is only saying the countries must work to resume the nuclear talks while trying to understand North Korea’s position,” a ranking South Korean official here told reporters. (Byun Duk-kun, “S. Korea, China Call for Early Resumption of N. Korea Nuclear Talks,” Yonhap, March 18, 2010)


3/18/10:
North Korea executed a former top finance official, Pak Nam-gi, last week, holding him responsible for the country’s currency reform fiasco that has caused massive inflation, worsened food shortages and dented leader Kim Jong-il’s efforts to transfer power to a son, Yonhap reported. Pak, who was reportedly sacked in January as chief of the KWP planning and finance department, was executed at a shooting range in Pyongyang, according to Yonhap. “All the blame has been poured on Pak after the currency reform failure exacerbated public sentiment and had a bad effect” on leader Kim Jong-il’s plan to hand power over to his third son Kim Jong-un, one source told Yonhap. Pak, a 77-year-old technocrat, was charged with “deliberately ruining the national economy” as a “son of a big landowner,” the sources said. (Korea Times, “N. K. Official Executed over Currency Reform,” March 18, 2010)

A U.N. panel monitoring racial equality and nondiscrimination expressed concern Tuesday about Japan’s possible exclusion of pro-Pyongyang schools for Korean residents from its planned tuition waiver program for public high school students. In a report, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said it “expresses concern about acts that have discriminatory effects on children’s education, including . . . the approach of some politicians suggesting the exclusion of North Korean schools” from the program. The panel urged Tokyo to “ensure that there is no discrimination in the provision of educational opportunities.” The discriminatory acts concerned also include “the differential treatment of schools for foreigners and descendants of Korean and Chinese residing in (Japan), with regard to public assistance, subsidies and tax exemptions,” it said. The panel also said Japan needs laws to fight racial discrimination and protect foreign residents and minorities, countering Tokyo’s view that a national antidiscrimination law is not necessary. (Japan Times, “Include Pro-North Schools in Tuition Waiver: U.N. Panel,” March 18, 2010)

South Korea is phasing out sand imports from North Korea, delivering a heavy blow to the impoverished regime which is already reeling economically because of confiscated arms shipments and bungled currency reforms. Sand was the biggest export to South Korea from the north in 2008, earning Pyongyang $73million. This represents about twice as much as it gains annually from wages at factories in Kaesong, a cross-border industrial zone for South Korean companies. South Korean officials told the Financial Times that Seoul would phase out sand exports when existing contracts with its northern neighbor expired. “Once those companies receive their sand, for which they have already paid, that will be the end,” a senior South Korean security official said. (Christian Oliver and Song Jong-a, “Seoul Cuts North Korean Lifeline,” Financial Times, March 19, 2010, p. 6)

France will not open diplomatic relations with North Korea but plans to establish an office there to support non-governmental groups, French FM Bernard Kouchner said. “We are not going to open an embassy, certainly not,” he said at a press conference in Tokyo. “Open an office, yes, in order to help the NGOs there.” France is the only European Union country other than Latvia that does not have diplomatic ties with the communist state. Paris has argued that the human rights situation in North Korea must improve and has cited concerns over nuclear proliferation. (AFP, “France Rules out Opening an Embassy in N. Korea,” March 18, 2010)

The United States and Japan have started formal discussions on a wide range of security issues, including the U.S. nuclear umbrella and missile defense, Michael Schiffer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific security affairs, told a hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs. Touching on a letter from Japanese FM Okada Katsuya calling for bilateral dialogue on nuclear policy and nuclear deterrence, Schiffer said the two countries began the consultation this year and that several issues were likely to be addressed in the context of nuclear deterrence, including information security, countermeasures against cyber terrorism, use of space and missile defense. (Kyodo, “U.S. Japan Begin Debate on Security Issues Including Nuclear Umbrella,” Mainichi Shimbun, March 18, 2010)

. Interviews with more than a dozen senior White House and State Department officials, and friends of Obama and Clinton, suggest that the president and his top diplomat are still easing into their alliance. Most of those interviewed spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, but their accounts have been matched against those of other participants whenever possible. The officials and associates tell a story of painstaking cultivation and sublimated ambition, seat-of-the-pants diplomacy and ritualized White House meetings (she sips water; he munches an apple). While their underlings at times grouse about one another — some Clinton supporters call White House officials “The Cardinals” (to suggest that they are too controlling), and some Obama staff members refer to the State Department as “Hillaryland” (the campaign’s leftover name for the enemy camp). Obama and Clinton used humor publicly to take the sting out of their once toxic rivalry. At a summit meeting in April, Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, confessed that he had never expected Obama to be elected president. “Well, neither did I,” Clinton joked. A few weeks later, at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, Obama celebrated his new chumminess with Clinton. “The second she got back from Mexico,” he said, “she pulled me into a hug and gave me a big kiss — told me to get down there myself.” Mexico was then battling a swine flu outbreak. To make sure Obama and Clinton talked to each other, White House officials scheduled a standing 45-minute meeting on Thursday afternoons. A handful of senior aides sit in, though Obama often clears the room at the end to talk to her privately. At last week’s session, for example, the two discussed rebuking Israel for its plan to build Jewish housing units in East Jerusalem, and Clinton followed up with a stern phone call to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [but opposed a cutoff of funds]. On Afghanistan, Obama heeded Mrs. Clinton’s counsel to deploy more American troops, but she was echoing the recommendation of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. [did she want more than Gates?] And on Iraq, he handed responsibility to Mr. Biden. “You ask people who’ve been in government for a long time, and they would say this is one of the most centralized policy-making operations ever,” said Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. Even on small matters, the White House has been intent on getting its way. One of Mr. Obama’s key foreign-policy advisers, Denis McDonough, has clashed over ambassadorial appointments with Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl D. Mills, a negotiation that is more delicate than usual because the secretary of state, like the president, wants to reward political supporters. And Mr. Obama’s advisers rejected a plan to give Sidney Blumenthal, a longtime Clinton family confidant, a consulting job at the State Department. Administration officials insist that Mrs. Clinton joins in all major debates and voices her opinion. And they point out that she has taken the lead in rallying support for tougher sanctions against Iran. (Mark Landler and Helene Cooper, “After a Bitter Campaign, Forging an Alliance,” New York Times, March 19, 2010, p. A-1)

The U.S. Treasury Department advised American financial institutions to take enhanced precautions against North Korea and several other countries trying to launder money and engage in other illicit financial transactions. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) said: “U.S. financial institutions should apply enhanced due diligence … when maintaining correspondent accounts for foreign banks operating under a banking license issued by Angola, DPRK, Ecuador, and Ethiopia.” (Yonhap, “U.S. Advises Enhanced Precaution against Money Laundering by N. Korean Banks,” North Korea Newsletter, No. 99 (March 25, 2010)


3/19/10:
South Korea said it will allow the operators of now-suspended tours to North Korea decide whether to comply with Pyongyang’s order that they convene in the communist nation next week for an asset inspection or else have their resort properties seized. But Unification Ministry spokesperson Chun Hae-sung said that the threat, made a day earlier, will not intimidate his government into resuming cross-border tours to Mount Kumgang, renewing a demand for improved safety measures for South Korean tourists. “Such a threat violates not only inter-Korean agreements and deals between South and North Korean business partners, but also international customs,” Chun said in a briefing. Chun declined to comment how the South would respond if the North carried out its threat, only saying the government will allow its nationals to cross the border if they decide to attend the meeting. “We will respect the decisions of the companies on this issue,” he said. Dozens of South Korean firms possess 360 billion won (US$31 million) worth of land and buildings in the tourist zone, including Hyundai Asan Corp’s two hotels, Emerson Pacific Group’s golf course, and other facilities, according to government data. The Seoul government also poured more than 60 billion won into the construction of a family reunion center there, but said it will not attend next week’s meeting because the North’s message technically rules it out as a partner subject to confiscation. The North’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, a state agency overseeing inter-Korean exchanges, also said in a faxed message to Hyundai Asan that it will seek a “new business partner” if the South rejects its offer to resume the tours by April.The North’s General Scenic Spots Development Guidance Bureau, the office in charge of the tour program in the country, also condemned the Seoul government for suspending tours, placing blame on the deceased tourist for her “carelessness” and saying the South Korean authorities “failed to properly take care and control the tourists,” a report from KCNA said. The bureau also said that Seoul’s refusal to resume the tours is equivalent to the South rejecting inter-Korean relations and the spirit of reconciliation and unity, according to KCNA. Hyundai Asan officials said they have not decided on whether to comply with the North’s order. The company issued a statement saying it hopes the situation will not deteriorate further. “Even though the situation is difficult, we hope both sides (South Korea and North Korea) will resolve the issue through consultations,” the statement said. (Sam Kim, “S. Korean Investors Allowed to Visit North amid Asset Freeze Threat,” Yonhap, March 19, 2010)


3/21/10:
A 2004 explosion at a railway station in North Korea was an attempt to assassinate leader Kim Jong Il, China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency quoted an analysis as saying. “The train explosion at Ryongchon Station in North Pyongan Province on April 22 that year killed nearly 200 people, injured more than 1,500, and destroyed more than 8,000 homes. The explosion is believed to have been an attempt to assassinate Kim,” Xinhua said. (Dong-A Ilbo, “’2004 Explosion Was Attempt on Kim Jong-il’s Life,’” March 22, 2010)


3/22/10:
Having insisted on one-on-one talks with the United States, North Korea was not responding to China’s proposal to hold a preliminary six-nation meeting before resuming the actual multilateral nuclear talks, a senior Seoul official said. “As chair of the six-nation talks, China is trying to bring the six parties together by all means and we are not against a six-nation meeting of any form or title,” the South Korean official said. Citing multiple U.S. government officials, Yomiuri Shimbun said Washington accepted Beijing’s proposal to hold a preliminary meeting before resuming the six-nation talks: “Washington plans to hold substantial discussions on the North’s denuclearization at the preliminary talks and to flexibly deal with the North’s demand for one-on-one talks within the framework of the preliminary multilateral meeting.” (Kim So-hyun, “N.K. Still Mum on Preliminary Talks,” Korea Herald, March 23, 2010)

North Korea was continuing to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles which could threaten the United States someday. “In 1998, North Korea tested its first long-range missile, leaving open the possibility that the U.S. homeland could someday be targeted by a rogue state,” Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn told a forum in Washington. “North Korea continues to develop its ICBM-class Taepo Dong II. And Iran is at work on a space launch vehicle that could provide the basis for a long-range ICBM. Both could someday threaten the United States itself.” His remarks are in line with the Ballistic Missile Defense Review 2010, a report released by the Pentagon last month to assess the U.S. government’s missile defense policy in the coming years. Despite North Korea’s failure so far to orbit a satellite, the report said, “If there are no major changes in its national security strategy in the next decade, it will be able to mate a nuclear warhead to a proven delivery system.” The review also said that North Korea “successfully tested many technologies associated with an ICBM despite the most recent launch’s failure in its stated mission of orbiting a small communications satellite.” (Kim So-hyun, “’N.K. Continues ICBM Development,’” Korea Herald, March 24, 2010)

KCNA: “The organ concerned of the DPRK decided to indict for trial Aijalon Mahli Gomes, male U.S. citizen, born on June 19, 1979 and residing in Boston, Massachusetts State, who illegally entered the country as his crime has been confirmed.” (KCNA, “U.S. Citizen to Be indicted for Trial,” March 22, 2010)Gomes is a Christian who taught English at a South Korean primary school, former colleagues said. He was arrested in January. “Mr. Gomes was a quiet man and was very diligent in church activities,” said Kang Hyang-seon, a teacher who worked with him at Sinbong Elementary School in Pocheon, a town north of Seoul near the border with North Korea. Gomes flew into South Korea in the spring of 2008 for a one-year teaching job with Sinbong, where he taught 20 hours a week helping third graders to sixth graders learn English. His contract with Sinbong expired on March 31 last year, and he did not renew it, the school said. Gomes told his colleagues that he wanted to move to a town closer to Seoul so it would be easier for him to attend a foreigners’ church in the industrial district of Kuro. They remembered his talking about doing volunteer community work with other Christians. No one at Sinbong knew what had happened to Gomes after he left the school a year ago. (Choe Sang-hun, “U.S. detainee in N. Korea Was a Teacher,” New York Times, March 24, 2010, p. A-8) In the days after Park’s arrest, Gomes attended at least two rallies in Seoul calling for Park’s release, a Seoul-based activist said. “I saw him weeping,” Jo Sung-rae of Pax Koreana said. Jo said Gomes, who contacted him in November about working with his rights group, met Park in Seoul last summer. “I felt he may have gone to North Korea after being inspired by Robert Park,” Jo said. Thaleia Schlesinger, a spokeswoman for Gomes’ family in Boston, said she had no comment on any connection between Gomes and Park. “I have no information on that,” she said. “Anything on that would come from the State Department. The family is praying for him and for his speedy return home.” (Hyung-jin Kim, “U.S. Man Held in N. Korea Rallied against Pyongyang,” Associated Press, March 24, 2010)


3/23/10:
The U.S. and South Korea must prove to North Korea that they do not harbor any hostile intent if they want to avoid a “catastrophic war” with the nuclear-armed regime, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said. He said the communist regime is unlikely to back down from the standoff over its nuclear weapons program without “a firm statement of ‘no hostile intent’ in the form of a treaty.” “No one can predict the final answers from Pyongyang, but there is no harm in making a major effort, including unrestrained direct talks,” he said. “The initiative must be from America and South Korea.” Carter, a trained nuclear physicist, called sanctions counterproductive. He said the international community should give the impoverished nation humanitarian aid. He also doubted that a change in leadership would bring any major shift in North Korean policy. Kim Jong-il, now 68, is believed to be paving the way to name his third son as his successor. (Sangwon Yoon, “Carter: U.S., S. Korea Must Talk Directly with N. Korea,” Associated Press, March 23, 2010)

A career-long government specialist on inter-Korean relations, Um Jong-sik, took office as vice unification minister, touting his government’s policy of tying large-scale aid to North Korea to progress in Pyongyang’s denuclearization. “For the past two years, we have established new principles and directions for inter-Korean relations,” Um said in his inaugural speech at the ministry in Seoul. “We should consistently pursue changes in North Korea and progress in inter-Korean relations that is based on principles.” Um, 52, has served at the ministry and in North Korea-related posts at other government branches, including the presidential office, since he joined the government in 1986. (Sam Kim, “New S. Korean Vice Minister Pledges to Maintain Hard-Line Stance on N. Korea,” Bloomberg News, March 23, 2010)

Today’s report by the joint study group of Japanese and South Korean historians highlights the perception gaps in the two countries’ modern and contemporary history, in relation to the content of history textbooks used in the two nations. FM Okada Katsuya pointed out the difficulty of reconciling the views of the two countries, noting at a press conference Tuesday evening that “a variety of views are possible regarding history.” But he also mentioned the joint history study’s significance, saying, “If the areas in which there are common perceptions increase, mutual understanding and acknowledgment will become closer.” Meanwhile, the South Korean side has insisted from the beginning that common understanding of history is essential. On this point, a Japanese committee member expressed discontent about South Korea’s unchanged perception of history. “It’s basically an ‘anti-Japanese’ perception, unchanged from the era of Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula,” he said. “Taking South Korean public opinion into account, the South Korean side aimed to publish textbooks to urge Japan to hew to the same perception of history as South Korea.” This is the two countries’ second joint history study by the committee comprising 17 scholars each from Japan and South Korea. In this second round, the study of history textbooks was held for the first time at the strong request of South Korea, but many of the subsequent discussions ended without progress. The Japanese side pointed out that vigilant eyes would note South Korea’s history curriculum has continually portrayed Japanese in an unfavorable light after World War II and argued that “there is no evidence that [the South Korean government] has succeeded in moving away from this basic template.” The South Korean side replied that its government has not directed the anti-Japanese educational content. Nonetheless, the South Korean group acknowledged that history education in South Korea conveys to children the historical image of “intruder Japan.” Concerning “comfort women,” the South Korean side wrote, “Many South Koreans remember the fact that many women who were sent to the front line [war zones] to provide sexual services for Japanese soldiers in the colonial Korean Peninsula in the 1930s were those from ‘teishintai’ labor corps.” Regarding the issue, the Japanese side rebutted that the word usage of “joshi (female) teishintai” was limited to referring to women working at munition factories. “[The South Korean side’s] argument has been based on the critical fault of confusing these two terms,” a Japanese scholar said. Concerning the territorial dispute over Takeshima, a group of rocky islets in the Sea of Japan, known as Dokdo in South Korea, the Japanese side proposed that the issue be included in contemporary history instruction and be subjected to analysis on how it has been treated after the war and in negotiations between the two countries. However, the South Korean side refused this idea outright. A Japanese committee member speculated that the South Korean government does not even admit the existence of the current situation in which the islets’ ownership is disputed by Japan. There are a few cases in which both countries share the same views. One example is the existence of the ancient Mimana Nihon-fu government. In the arguments about whether wajin–the Japanese who came to the Korean Peninsula from Japan – actually ruled the peninsula, the Japanese side wrote, “It’s impossible to believe that there was a Japanese territory [in the peninsula at the time].” Many in the South Korean media took this to mean Japan had revised its conventional assertion. Chosun Ilbo, a major South Korean newspaper, said of the report, “Historians from South Korean and Japan have agreed that a theory long asserted in Japan about its occupation of ancient Korean kingdoms is false.” (Ishikawa Yukiko and Takekoshi Masahiko, “History Gap Hard to Bridge; Japan-ROK Experts Group Remains at Odds over Fundamental Issues,” Yomiuri Shimbun, March 25, 2010)


3/24/10:
East Asian countries are to launch a $120 billion multilateral currency swap program today aimed at fending off global financial volatility and promoting regional cooperation. The Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization plan involves Korea, China and Japan, and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It was signed on December 24. Under the new CMIM, each country can swap its local currency with U.S. dollars equal to a certain multiple of its contribution. China and Japan each pledged $38.4 billion and Korea $19.2 billion, together accounting for 80 percent of the total reserves. While the three Northeast Asian nations are entitled to $19.2 billion each, the five major ASEAN nations can swap 2.5 times their contributions and the five smaller nations, five times as much. For example, Thailand pledged $4.77 billion but may swap 2.5 times that amount and Vietnam pledged $1 billion but may swap five times that amount. Seoul officials and analysts reckon the launch of the CMIM is likely to serve as a catalyst to the discussion of establishing a global financial safety net, which will be a major item on the agenda at the upcoming G20 summit to be held in Seoul in November. “The CMIM is a contractual agreement between member central banks and, unlike the International Monetary Fund, it is not an actual pool of funds. Hence, if the Plus Three countries were themselves in need of dollar liquidity, the CMIM would not be useful,” Moody’s said. (Kim Yoon-mi, “Multilateral Currency Swap Plan to Buffer Asia Volatility,” Korea Herald, March 24, 2010)

Officials of South Korean companies that hold real estate assets within North Korea’s Mount Kumgang resort visited the tourist zone yesterday to comply with the North’s real estate survey. Nineteen officials from nine companies including Hyundai Asan Corp., Korea Tour Organization and Emerson Pacific Group crossed the border yesterday to check on their property and attend the inspection that starts today. More officials from eight companies are scheduled to visit the resort today to meet the deadline set by the North. North Korea informed the South last week that all South Koreans who hold real estate in the resort must show up for the survey by today, threatening to seize all assets of those who don’t. (Kim So-hyun, “S. Koreans Attend N. K. Property Survey,” Korea Herald, March 25, 2010) On march 25 North Korea said it would take “extreme measures” unless the stalled Mount Kumgang tour program resumes by April 1. Choi Yo-sik, an official representing interests of South Korean companies at the resort, said Lee Kyong-jin, an official from the North’s Myong-seungji General Development Guidance Bureau, informed the companies of the threatened actions. (Yoo Jee-ho, “North Threatens ‘Extreme’ Actions If Tours Stay Shut,” JoongAng Ilbo, March 26, 2010)

There is mounting evidence that Kim Jong Il is losing the propaganda war inside North Korea, with more than half the population now listening to foreign news, grass-roots cynicism undercutting state myths and discontent rising even among elites. A survey of refugees has found that “everyday forms of resistance” in the North are taking root as large swaths of the population believe that pervasive corruption, rising inequity and chronic food shortages are the fault of the government — and not of the United States, South Korea or other foreign forces. The report will be released this week by the East-West Center, a research group established by Congress. It comes amid unconfirmed accounts from inside North Korea of a rising number of starvation deaths caused by a bad harvest and bungled currency reform that disrupted food markets, caused runaway inflation and triggered widespread citizen unrest. The number of starvation deaths in South Pyongan province, in the center of the country, is in the thousands since January, according to Good Friends, a Seoul relief group with informants inside North Korea. It said bodies of malnourished elderly people were being found in the streets of Pyongyang, and it quoted unnamed party officials as saying that starvation has risen in some areas this winter to levels unseen since the 1990s, when famine killed as many as 1 million North Koreans. “Once a government has so badly damaged trust, it may be very difficult, if not impossible, to restore its credibility,” said Marcus Noland, co-author of “Political Attitudes under Repression,” the new report. The results are based on a November 2008 survey of 300 North Korean refugees living in South Korea. The refugees in the survey — parts of which were first publicized last fall — include new arrivals as well as those who fled during the height of the 1990s famine. “Evaluations of the regime appear to be getting more negative over time,” the report said. “Although those who departed earlier were more willing to entertain the view that the country’s problems were due to foreigners, respondents who left later were more likely to hold the government accountable.” Noland and his co-author, Stephan Haggard, an Asian specialist at the University of California in San Diego, concede that the survey — with its reliance on a self-selected group that made the perilous choice to flee North Korea — might over-represent those who abhor the leadership in Pyongyang. But they note that most refugees fled the North for economic reasons and that their demographic background roughly mirrors North Korean society. The survey found that cynicism about the government — and willingness to crack jokes about its failures — was higher among refugees who come from elite backgrounds in the government or military. It also found that distaste for the government was strongest among those deeply involved in the markets. The most striking finding of the survey was the reach of those markets across all strata of North Korean society, with nearly 70 percent of respondents saying that half or more of their income came from private business dealings. In addition, more than half of refugees who have fled North Korea since 2006 said they listened or watched foreign news reports regularly. North Korea outlaws radios and TVs that can be tuned to foreign stations, but consumer electronics have flooded into the country from China. “Not only is foreign media becoming more widely available, inhibitions on its consumption are declining as well,” the report said, referring to broadcasts from South Korea, China and the United States. “The availability of alternative sources of information undermines the heroic image of a workers’ paradise and threatens to unleash the information cascade that can be so destabilizing to authoritarian rule.” Although Kim’s government appears to be losing the hearts and minds of North Koreans, there is little or no indication that organized opposition has emerged inside the country, said Noland, deputy director of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. But signals of internal stress are growing, according to another new report on conditions inside North Korea. The International Crisis Group, an independent group that advises many Western governments and U.N. agencies, said last week that pressure from the deteriorating food supply and “disastrous” currency reform “could have a number of unanticipated consequences for regional international security. A sudden split in the leadership, although unlikely, is not out of the question.” (Blaine Harden, “Resistance against N. Korean Regime Taking Root, Survey Suggests,” Washington Post, March 24, 2010, p. A-11) [Close reading of the Haggard-Noland study suggests support for a very different proposition: that Chinese style engagement works. Increasing reliance on the market led to negative and cynical perceptions of the reforms because of rising materialism, corruption and inequality for which the state is held responsible, and an increasingly permeable information barrier with more watching or listening to foreign media.]

“Over the past year, Kim has systematically introduced his third and youngest son, Kim Jong-un, as the heir apparent,” said Gen. Walter Sharp, commander of the USFK, in testimony before a House Appropriations Committee hearing. Sharp said that despite public discontent over the disastrous currency revaluation, loyalty to Kim Jong-il among the North’s ruling elite “appears unwavering,” given that their “privileged position apparently rests upon the continuance of the status quo.” But he did not rule out a possible collapse of the regime, saying, “We would also be mindful of the potential for instability in North Korea.” “Combined with the country’s disastrous centralized economy, dilapidated industrial sector, insufficient agricultural base, malnourished military and populace, and developing nuclear programs, the possibility of a sudden leadership change in the North could be destabilizing and unpredictable.” (Kim Young-jin, “North Korean Leader Establishing Son as Heir Apparent,” Korea Times, March 25, 2010)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure and receives kidney dialysis once every two weeks, the head of a think tank affiliated with the National Intelligence Service claimed. Nam Sung-wook of the Institute for National Security made the claim in a lecture on the future of inter-Korean relations organized by the Young Korean Academy. “The reason why Kim’s fingernails are white seems to be chronic kidney failure,” he said. Medical experts agree with the assessment. If the kidneys fail, the body becomes unable to discharge toxic substances. The condition affects melanin cells in the skin and causes it to turn dark. Experts say the unusually dark color of Kim’s hands in recent photographs is probably a symptom. Meanwhile the fingernails, which do not contain melanin cells, are not affected by color changes and end up looking whiter. For several years, experts have been saying symptoms of edema apparent in Kim’s body are due to chronic kidney failure. The North Korean leader is believed to have suffered from diabetes, the main cause of chronic kidney failure, for some time. “Kim, who is about 165 cm tall, weighed 86 kg before his stroke around August 15, 2008 and was widely expected to develop problems with his circulation,” Nam said. “He went on a three-month diet after recovering in January of 2009 to prevent another stroke and now weighs between 70 kg to 73 kg.” Kim was born in 1942 and his age makes complete recovery difficult, Nam added. “Footage of him applauding during a March 7 rally in Hamheung shows him using his right hand to hit an immobile left hand,” he recalled. Speaking about the transfer of power from Kim Jong-il to his third son Jong-un, Nam said, “The power transfer process gathered momentum after Kim’s stroke, but it appears that efforts have slowed down a bit since June.” (Chosun Ilbo, “Kim Jong-il ‘Getting Dialysis for Kidney Failure,” March 25, 2010)


3/25/10:
The U.N. Human Rights Council slammed widespread abuses in North Korea, among them torture and labor camps for political prisoners, and renewed the mandate of its investigator for the state for a year. Adopting a resolution submitted by the European Union, the Council also called on Pyongyang to ensure that food aid is distributed on the basis of need to its hungry population. South Korea, Japan and the United States were among 28 states voting in favor, while North Korea’s major ally China and Russia were among five against. Thirteen abstained and one delegation was absent for the vote at the 47-member forum. The Council deplored “the grave, widespread and systematic human rights abuses in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in particular the use of torture and labor camps against political prisoners and repatriated citizens of DPRK.” Choe Myong Nam, a North Korean diplomat in Geneva, rejected the resolution as “politically motivated” and “full of distortions and fabrications.” (Stephanie Nebehay, “U.N. Slams Rights Abuses in North Korea,” Reuters, March 25, 2010)

Six months after his party’s historic election victory, tumbling approval ratings and mounting troubles threaten to make Hatoyama Yukio end up as just another unpopular Japanese prime minister. But in at least one crucial area, political experts say his new government has surpassed its predecessors: challenging the nation’s powerful and entrenched bureaucracy. Hatoyama’s Democratic Party has proclaimed its top mission to be changing the way the country is governed by a process that is commonly called “escaping the bureaucracy.” The aim is to make Japan’s political system more responsive by ending more than a century of de facto rule by elite career bureaucrats at Tokyo’s central ministries, and empowering democratically elected politicians instead. It has already made considerable progress, say political experts, who caution that the battle is far from won. The Hatoyama administration has put teams of lawmakers in charge of daily operations at the ministries, which long ran Japan with backroom decision-making. It has centralized the appointment and promotion of top officials in the prime minister’s office, and forced out recalcitrant top officials. “The bureaucrats created a very centralized system that has become out of date, and unable to react to the world’s changes,” Haraguchi Kazuhiro, the minister of internal affairs, said in an interview. “We need a system that serves the people, not the bureaucracy and entrenched interest groups.” One of the Hatoyama administration’s first targets was the bureaucracy’s long tradition of writing laws and making policy decisions, which were then rubber-stamped by Liberal Democratic lawmakers. One target is the Cabinet Legislation Bureau, a little-known agency that is empowered to interpret the Constitution, including Japan’s often convoluted reading of the article prohibiting it from having a military. In January, the bureau’s director general, a career bureaucrat, resigned after Hatoyama announced that the minister in charge of administrative reform, Edano Yukio, a lawmaker, would be replacing the director general as the bureau’s chief spokesman. “Before, politicians just left everything to the bureaucrats,” said Sakata Masahiro, a former director general at the bureau who retired in 2006. “Now, the Democrats are treating bureaucrats like an unnecessary hindrance.” The director general who just resigned refused interview requests. In another assault on bureaucratic prerogative, the government submitted a bill last month that would create an agency in the prime minister’s office to decide all job appointments involving top officials, which had been decided within each ministry. The bill would also greatly reduce the responsibilities of the administrative vice ministers, the top bureaucratic job in each ministry that had long been the actual center of ministry control. “The bureaucracy’s autonomy on personnel issues had been the source of their independence and ability to hold on to power,” said Sengoku Yoshito, the minister of civil service reform and the government’s point man for changing the bureaucracy. There has also been resistance. According to some political experts, the most damaging counterattack has been the unending string of inquiries into the political parties’ finances by public prosecutors, who are a part of the Justice Ministry. Bureaucrats have also struck back with damaging leaks to the major news media, which have close ties with the bureaucracy through the “press clubs” of reporters permanently stationed in each ministry. Haraguchi, the internal affairs minister, described how a flurry of negative stories suddenly appeared in major newspapers after he reassigned top bureaucrats in his ministry to different jobs — something no minister, usually an elected politician, had ever done before. He said that he found the source of the leak, who would be passed over for future promotions. “The leak was a way of striking back,” Haraguchi said. “What we are doing here is without precedent, and so many officials are uneasy.” (Martin Fackler, “Rooting out Career Bureaucrats to Plant a New Economic Formula,” New York Times, March 25, 2010, p. A-16)


3/26/10:
A South Korean Navy ship, the Cheonan, with 104 crew members on board was sinking off the Seoul-controlled island of Baengnyeong in the Yellow Sea, near North Korea, Navy officials said. The 1,500-ton ship sank between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. near the island, but the cause of the accident was unknown, the officials said. A rescue operation was underway, they added. (Yonhap, “S. Korean Navy Ship Sinking in Yellow Sea,” March 26, 2010) Rescuers pulled 58 crew members, including the captain, from the ship before it sank, but more than 40 others are missing. The Seoul government did not blame North Korea for the incident, which occurred in an area of the Yellow Sea where three North-South naval skirmishes have occurred in the past decade. A spokeswoman for President Lee Myung-bak said the government is withholding judgment about the cause of the explosion, pending further investigation. “Finding the truth [behind the incident] is important, but saving our soldiers is more important,” Lee said, according to Yonhap. (Blaine Harden and June Lee, “Explosion Sinks South Korean Naval Ship near Disputed Sea Border with North,” Washington Post, March 27, 2010, p. A-7) President Lee Myung-bsk became the first South Korean head of state to visit the disputed western waters off the Korean Peninsula, urging rescuers on March 30 to continue searching for 46 sailors still believed to be trapped in a naval vessel that sank after a mysterious explosion four days earlier. The sinking has focused the South’s fears on North Korea. Shortly after Lee left the scene, the military announced that a 53-year-old navy diver engaged in the operation had fallen unconscious and died. They have struggled with rapid currents and poor underwater visibility in the effort to reach a chunk of the ship that lies mired in mud 132 feet down. The divers reached that section on March 29, but heard no response after rapping it with hammers. The air supply even in sealed watertight cabins would have run out by Monday night, military experts said. The political pressure remained high on the government and the military, which have been unable to offer a convincing explanation for the explosion that broke up the 1,200-ton corvette, the Cheonan. The mystery may not be solved for days. A crane was slowly being taken to the site to recover the ship. South Korean officials, while careful not to point directly at North Korea, have allowed speculation regarding its culpability to rage. “The government or our Defense Ministry has never said it ruled out the possibility of North Korean involvement,” Defense Minister Kim Tae-young of South Korea said March 29 during a grilling in parliament. Asked about mines there, Mr. Kim said that it was “possible” that the Cheonan was hit by one of thousands of mines North Korea deployed near its coasts during the Korean War, from 1950 to 1953. He also kept open the possibility that a North Korean submarine might have launched a torpedo, an initial focus of suspicion. North Korea has used difficult-to-detect submersibles to carry spies into the South. Other theories mentioned at Parliament and in domestic media included an on-board saboteur and something exploding inside the warship, which reportedly carried torpedoes, depth charges, missiles and other weaponry. (Choe Sang-hun, “Sinking of Ship Feeds South Koreans’ Fears of the North,” New York Times, March 30, 2010, p. A-12) After initially ruling out the possibility of North Korean involvement in the sinking of the Patrol Combat Corvette (PCC) Cheonan, the government has been subtly shifting its stance and leaking theories implicating North Korea. In particular, this trend has emerged mainly from the military, the party most directly involved with this incident, leaving some critics charging that they are trying to evade responsibility without providing accurate information to the public. (Hankyore, “Government Shifts Tenor on N. Korea-Cheonan Connection,” April 1, 2010) Amid persistent speculations over North Korea’s possible role in the sinking of a naval patrol ship, the Defense Ministry yesterday reiterated that there were no unusual North Korean activities detected at the time of the disaster last week. “With regard to this case, no particular activities by North Korean submarines or semi-submarines (moving southward before the sinking) have been verified. I am saying again that there were no activities that could be directly linked to [the sinking of the ship],” Defense Ministry spokesman Won Tae-jae said during a press briefing. His remarks came after a news report that the 1,200-ton Cheonan carrying 104 crewmembers was deployed to the scene near the western inter-Korean maritime border in response to several semi-submarines moving toward the south. (Song Sang-ho, “Military Plays down N.K. Foul Play,” Korea Herald, April 2, 2010) Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said at a National Assembly session April 2, “Both torpedoes and mines are possible causes of the sinking. But I believe that there is a higher chance that torpedoes were the cause.” The minister, however, said the sonar operator of the ill-fated Cheonan did not detect any signs of torpedoes approaching at the time of the disaster that took place near the western sea border on March 26. Kim downplayed the possibility of Pyongyang’s involvement in the sinking, though he admitted that two North Korean submarines were spotted near the site from March 24 to 27. (Jang Sung-ki and Lee Tae-hoon, “’Torpedo More Probable Cause Than Mine,’” Korea Times, April 2, 2010) “We closely watched the movement of the North’s vessels, including submarines and semi-submersibles, at the time of the sinking,” said Commodore Lee Gi-sik, chief of information operations under the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Seoul, during a media briefing. “But [the South’s] military did not detect any North Korean submarines near the countries’ western sea border.” The ministry did not comment directly on semi-submersible activity in the area at the time. (Lee Min-yong, “No Subs Near Cheonan: Ministry,” JoongAng Ilbo, April 2, 2010) A joint military-civilian investigation team tentatively concluded on April 16 that the Cheonan was split in half by a water shock wave, or “bubble jet,” resulting from an external explosion. While military authorities had been eying the possibility of an external explosion since early after the incident, observing are noting the emphasis now has been on a bubble jet resulting from an underwater explosion, rather than a direct strike to the hull from an external explosive. A bubble jet is a powerful shock wave and high-pressure gas bubble that arises when a torpedo or mine explodes underwater underneath a vessel. It generally appears when an explosive detonates beneath the vessel and repeatedly expands and contracts, causing the vessel to rise and fall. The hull of the vessel splits in two as a result of this shock. In the Cheonan’s case, the team believes that a torpedo or mine detonated underwater beneath the left side of the hull. In a briefing with journalists Friday, Co-chairman of the joint military-civilian investigation team into the sinking of the Cheonan Yoon Duk-yong said, “It appears that it exploded underwater beneath the left-side draft line.” Yoon added, “The explosive force went in the left side and out the right, so the right side is open.” In other words, the explanation is that a powerful water shock wave that appeared from an underwater explosion pushed in through the hull’s bottom plating and rose upward before bursting outward to the right. It is also because of this direction of the force that the right side of the Cheonan’s stern deck appears to be bent outwardly more than the left side. Yoon said that for this reason, “It appears that the explosion occurred on the right side.” This form of external explosion can be caused by a torpedo or a mine. However, among types of torpedoes, direct hit or straight running torpedoes that explode after direct contact with the hull must be excluded as a possibility, as they do not generate bubble jets. In the case of a direct hit torpedo, a hole would be found in the impacted part of the hull, but no such hole was found on the Cheonan’s stern. Yoon said, “It appears to be a bubble jet, not a torpedo going through the hull and into the boat.” However, Yoon added that it is still too early to conclude whether a mine or torpedo was responsible. On this question, military officials believe it is more likely to be a bubble jet-type torpedo than a mine. This is because one of the characteristics of a torpedo is that it can find its target more precisely than a mine. Also, while mines mostly explode below the bottom of the vessel, the fact that the explosion occurred on the lower left side below the draft line rather than underneath lends strength to the possibility of a torpedo. (Hankyore, “Cheonan Sinking Likely Caused by Bubble Jet from Explosion,” April 17, 2010) Military intelligence early this year alerted the Navy to the threat of “human torpedo” attacks from North Korea, which was pledging revenge for its defeat in a sea skirmish in November last year. “Human torpedoes” are underwater suicide squads who operate torpedoes equipped with a mini motor or engine to sneak up to a target and blow it up. “Military authorities detected several signs showing that the North was preparing for revenge for its defeat in the sea skirmish in November last year,” a government official said. “The North intensively trained military units for various means of attack, in particular human torpedoes.” The North is reportedly operating a brigade of suicide attack squads each in its East Sea and West Sea fleets. But it is still unclear whether the Navy corvette Cheonan was sunk by a North Korean human torpedo on March 26. Navy ships charged with defending the maritime frontline in the West Sea were ordered to keep at speeds faster than 12 knots to guard against any retaliatory attack from the North, but the Cheonan was traveling at only six knots before it sank, the official added. “Despite the possibility of retaliatory attacks, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had deployed Navy ships on duty at the West Sea frontline including Baeknyeong, Yeonpyeong and Socheong islands, closer to the frontline than in the past.” (Chosun Ilbo, “Navy ‘Was Warned of N. Korean Human Torpedoes,’” April 22, 2010)

KPA General Staff spokesman: “According to the south Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo dated March 19, presided over by the command of the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces in the Pacific, those concerned of the ‘Institute for National Defense Studies,’ the ‘Institute for Maritime Strategy Studies’ of south Korea and the ‘Institute for State Policy Studies’ of neighboring countries would be closeted together in the middle of April to examine the possibility of what they called ‘contingency’ in the DPRK and discuss a ‘proposal for cooperation,’ etc. to cope with it. It was reported that they would further their confab in Seoul in June and in Hawaii in July. The disclosed fact clearly indicates that the scenario to bring down the system in the DPRK already worked out by them is entering a reckless phase of implementation. As far as the socialist system in the DPRK is concerned, it constitutes the unshakable faith of the Korean people and it is like an impregnable fortress firmly guarded by the invincible army of Songun. For them to wait for what they call ‘contingency’ to happen is a pipe dream of a lunatic wishing for the sky to fall. Such ‘contingency’ will take place in south Korea where all sorts of social evils and ills and internal contradictions and conflicts have reached their height, not in the DPRK where people are bringing about epochal miracles and leap forward everyday with the day of the emergence of a thriving nation drawing near. It is the height of folly for the present south Korean puppet authorities to dare talk about ‘bringing down system’ of someone and ‘unifying the systems’ to please their master, unaware of where they stand. The above-said fact once again clearly proves that the U.S. imperialists and the south Korean puppet bellicose forces have not an iota of intention to improve the relations with the DPRK but only seek to hatch plots to ‘bring down its system’ and ignite a war.The People’s Army and people of the DPRK who always follow with high vigilance the abnormal developments in areas around the DPRK will bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defence capable of frustrating any plot and provocation at a single strike and keep all the powerful striking means fully ready to go into action at all times. The U.S. imperialists and the south Korean puppet warmongers should bear in mind that they will not be able to find a shelter to survive the unpredictable strikes of the KPA, should they persistently work to bring down the system in the DPRK. Those who seek to bring down the system in the DPRK, whether they play a main role or a passive role, will fall victim to the unprecedented nuclear strikes of the invincible army and the just war to be waged by all the infuriated service personnel and people.” (KCNA, “U.S.-S. Korean Moves to Bring down System in DPRK Warned,” March 26, 2010)

South Korea called on North Korea immediately to identify four of its citizens the communist country said last month it was holding for illegally entering the nation. “A month has passed since the North said it was investigating them,” Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said in a briefing. “We strongly urge the North to tell us the facts regarding the current situation as quickly as possible.” (Sam Kim, “S. Korea Calls for Immediate Identification of Nationals Purportedly Held in N. Korea,” Yonhap, March 26, 2010)


3/29/10:
KCNA: “There is now a deluge of ‘news’ about the internal situation in the DPRK from the US, Japan and South Korea. Various kinds of ‘reports’ are pouring in to give impression that ‘contingency’ is imminent in the DPRK and wild rumors about even the health of the supreme leader are afloat. There are ‘analysis and comment’ that shortage of food and economic difficulties are more serious than those in the 1990s due to the ‘failure of monetary reform.’ There is also misinformation that the DPRK continues missile and other arms smuggling, its nuclear capacity is being steadily bolstered up, there is concern about its possible proliferation of nuclear weapons and it is opening Rajin Port and sending workers to foreign countries en masse in a bid to earn foreign currency due to financial difficulties. The scenario for vituperation seems to know no bound. The campaign to mislead the public opinion by concentrically and malignantly tarnishing the image of the other party by such specialized methods and means of psychological warfare has been called a black propaganda campaign. This campaign naturally seeks an aim. Behind this despicable propaganda are forces displeased with any investment in the DPRK. It is aimed at holding in check investment in the DPRK in a bid to hamstring its efforts to improve the people’s standard of living by focusing efforts on economic construction. After bolstering up its nuclear deterrent strong enough to check the outbreak of a war in the Korean Peninsula, the government of the DPRK has been concentrating its efforts on the economic construction and the improvement of people’s standard of living since last year. While expanding its external economic relations, the DPRK is making a switchover to actively introducing investment from other countries. The world’s interest in making investment in the DPRK is growing exceptionally strong as it has powerful war deterrent as well as tremendous economic foundations and potentials and inexhaustible resources and as it is located in an economically and geographically favorable region. The hostile forces seek to stem this trend. When the DPRK becomes rich economically, there will be no use of ‘economic lever’ to be applied against it. They had already employed such coercive means as sanctions. But the “resolutions on sanctions” of the United Nations Security Council were not enough to hinder the overall routine economic activities of the DPRK because they are confined to the munitions field. That is why those forces are getting hell-bent on the unethical moves to suffocate not only the civilian industry but also the fields related to the people’s living by describing the system in the DPRK as ‘unstable one’ to check foreign investment in it. The objective of their black propaganda is not confined to this. At present the US administration finds itself in such difficult internal situation that it can hardly take any sincere approach toward the DPRK-proposed negotiations for the conclusion of a peace treaty and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. With the midterm elections slated to take place in forthcoming November, the Obama administration is under the weight of fear that it might be censured for its weakness in external relations. It contends that its start of negotiations with the DPRK may create the “danger” of betraying its weakness. However, for the US to remain doing nothing would bring it the label of incompetence. Hence, the Obama administration advocated “strategic patience.” In other words, it contends this attitude is not prompted by its incompetence and it does not make haste but waits for something as the DPRK government seems not to last long. The South Korean authorities have a similar daydream under the signboard of ‘waiting is a strategy.’ History proves that one’s shameless swindling to get rid of one’s poor position by slandering others is bound to seriously backfire. When the US, Japan and South Korean authorities cam e out with a ‘waiting strategy,’ vociferating about ‘theory of collapse’ in the 1990s, the DPRK responded to it with the victorious conclusion of the ‘Arduous March’ and the successful launch of satellite Kwangmyongsong-1. And when the US again came out with ‘a waiting strategy,’ talking about ‘an axis of evil’ and ‘preemptive nuclear attack’ in the first decade of the new century the DPRK reacted to it with two successful nuclear tests and launch of satellite Kwangmyongsong-2. They would be well advised to remember that the DPRK has a firm foundation of the independent national economy which remains solid despite any storm from outside. The DPRK will witness the appearance of a light water reactor power plant relying on its own nuclear fuel in the near future in the 2010s in the wake of mass-production of juche iron and Juche-based vinalon cotton, its reply to them.” (KCNA, “KCNA on Despicable Inside Story about Megaphone War,” March 29, 2010)

North Korea, one of the world’s most impenetrable nations, is facing a new threat: networks of its own citizens feeding information about life there to South Korea and its Western allies. The networks are the creation of a handful of North Korean defectors and South Korean human rights activists using cellphones to pierce North Korea’s near-total news blackout. To build the networks, recruiters slip into China to woo the few North Koreans allowed to travel there, provide cellphones to smuggle across the border, then post informers’ phoned and texted reports on Web sites.. Recruiters spend months identifying and coaxing potential informants, all the while evading agents from the North and the Chinese police bent on stopping their work. The North Koreans face even greater danger; exposure could lead to imprisonment — or death. The result has been a news free-for-all, a jumble of sometimes confirmed but often contradictory reports. Some have been important; the Web sites were the first to report the outrage among North Koreans over a drastic currency revaluation late last year. “In an information vacuum like North Korea, any additional tidbits — even in the swamp of rumors — is helpful,” said Nicholas Eberstadt, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “You didn’t used to be able to get that kind of information,” he said of the reports on the currency crisis. “It was fascinating to see the pushback from the lower levels” of North Korean society. The first of their Web sites opened five years ago; there are now five. At least three of the sites receive some financing from the United States Congress through the National Endowment for Democracy. “I take pride in my work,” said Mun Seong-hwi, a defector turned Web journalist with the site Daily NK, who works with the informers and uses an alias to protect relatives he left behind. “I help the outside world see North Korea as it is.” Of the 8,400 agents South Korea sent over the border between the end of the Korean War in 1953 and 1994, just 2,200, or about 1 in 4, made it home. Some defected, according to former agents, but many were killed. The cellphones work on China’s cellular networks, so they operate only within several miles of the Chinese border. Because North Koreans cannot travel freely in their country, the Web sites are forced to depend mostly on people who live near China. Beyond that, Ha Tae-keung, who runs one of the Web sites, says that some sources are prone to exaggerate, possibly in the hopes of earning the bonuses he offers for scoops. He and other Web site operators, meanwhile, are vulnerable to “information brokers” in the North who sell fake news. But Ha said that the quality of the information was improving as Web sites hired more defectors who left government jobs and remained in touch with former colleagues, often by cellphone. “These officials provide news because they feel uncertain about the future of their regime and want to have a link with the outside world,” he said, “or because of their friendship with the defectors working for us, or because of money.” The North Korean government can monitor cellphone calls, but tracing them is harder, so the police rove the countryside in jeeps equipped with tracking devices. The informants call him once a week; they never give their names, and they hide the phones far from their homes. Despite those precautions, they are sometimes caught. This month, Ha’s Web site reported that an arms factory worker was found with a cellphone and confessed to feeding information to South Korea. A source said the informant was publicly executed by firing squad. (Choe Sang-hun, “North Koreans Use Cellphones to Bare Secrets,” New York Times, March 29, 2010, p. A-1)


3/31/10:
A one-year extension of Japan’s sanctions on North Korea beyond the April 13 expiration was approved at a meeting of senior vice ministers this morning and will be formally adopted by the Cabinet soon, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Yorihisa said. The sanctions include bans on port calls by North Korean vessels, on imports and exports with North Korea, and on North Korean officials’ entry into Japan. The government seeks to extend the sanctions for a year, instead of six months as studied, since Pyongyang has not fulfilled a promise made in 2008 to reinvestigate cases of its abductions of Japanese nationals, nor has it returned to the six-party talks to defuse tension over its nuclear development, according to government officials. (Kyodo, “Japan Eyes 1-Year Extension of Sanctions on N. Korea,” March 31, 2010)

For better or for worse, Washington has grown used to the fact that Barack Obama runs the most centralized – or ‘White House-centric’ – administration since Richard Nixon. Obama has no big foreign policy strategist. Even insiders give different answers when asked to whom he turns for advice on the big international questions. But almost all agree with the following observation. “The truth is that President Obama is his own Henry Kissinger – no one else plays that role,” says a senior official. “Every administration reflects the personality of the president. This president wants all the trains routed through the Oval Office.” “On the positive side, we have a very conscientious president who takes advice widely,” says the official. “On the debit side, for all the president’s intelligence, Barack Obama came to office with very little experience. He just doesn’t have much depth on some issues.” The most widely questioned link in the chain is Jim Jones, whom, to many people’s surprise, Obama brought in as his national security adviser. Only briefly acquainted with Obama beforehand, General Jones, a retired four-star marine corps general, shows little interest in running the “inter-agency” process – a key part of the job. Somewhat unconventionally, Gen Jones travels frequently and is thus often out of town. Unusually, it is Obama himself who usually chairs the weekly National Security Council, known as the “principals meeting”, not Gen. Jones. Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, is also a key part of it. “If you were to ask me who the real national security adviser is, I would say there were three or four, of whom Rahm is one and of which Gen. Jones is probably the least important,” says another official. Anyone who has dealt with Gen. Jones speaks highly of his matter-of-factness, his geniality and the respect many foreign governments have for him – Pakistan and Israel among them. But as he himself admitted rather disarmingly last year, he does not have a taste for bureaucracy. Speaking at the Atlantic Council, a think-tank where he previously worked, Gen Jones provoked laughter when he said: “I fondly remember [the Atlantic Council] as a place where people actually did what you asked them to do. In my new role I’m finding out that an order is a basis for negotiation.” The lack of a strong national security adviser has created recurring difficulties. Perhaps the best example is the Arab-Israeli peace process, which Obama launched on his second day in office when he appointed George Mitchell as his envoy. Three months later, Obama insisted Benjamin Netanyahu freeze all settlements activity in order to boost Arab confidence in the talks. In a heated showdown in the Oval Office last May, in which Netanyahu refused to accede to Obama’s demand, the only officials present were Emanuel and David Axelrod, senior adviser to Obama in office and during the campaign. Gen. Jones was not there. The fallout put the talks in abeyance and damped high Arab hopes for Obama. “The question is, which bright spark advised the president to demand a settlements freeze without working out what the next step should be when Netanyahu inevitably said ‘No’?” says Leslie Gelb, an official in the Carter administration and former head of the Council on Foreign Relations. “Why wasn’t George Mitchell in the room? Where was Jones?” Obama’s character is also stamped on the inter-agency process, set up and managed by Tom Donilon, deputy national security adviser. The nitty-gritty of foreign policy-making is done at these frequent “deputies’ meetings”, which can sometimes consume four to six hours a day. Described by one insider as “the most powerful man in the White House whose name isn’t widely known”, Donilon, who was an official in the Clinton administration, is the man who keeps Obama’s trains running on time. And there are a lot of trains. Last year, Donilon held 270 deputies meetings – a workload described as “clinically insane” by a former senior diplomat under Bill Clinton. But as time goes on, it is becoming streamlined – now taking up roughly two to three hours a day, say officials. “People forget that we inherited two wars, terrorism threats, and perhaps the biggest single eight-year decline [George W. Bush’s two terms] in America’s power and reputation in our history,” says a senior official. “It took time to put in place a process that could deal with the very complex decisions we had to take.” Also the organizer of Obama’s 9.30am national security briefing, Donilon reinstated the paper trails needed to prevent intra-governmental anarchy, using the model de­vised by Brent Scowcroft, national se­curity adviser to George Bush senior and Gerald Ford. Vice-president Joe Biden’s team was also incorporated to prevent the kind of “parallel process” Dick Cheney used to circumvent the bureaucracy under George W.Bush. “If you look for the 2002 or 2003 meeting where the decision to go to war in Iraq was taken, you cannot find it,” says the senior official. “By getting the process right, we are improving the quality of decisions.” The deputies’ ties go back years. For example, the families of Donilon and Jim Steinberg, deputy secretary of state, often go on holiday together. Donilon’s wife, Cathy Russell, is chief of staff to Jill Biden, the vice-president’s wife. Steinberg’s wife, Sherburne Abbott, is deputy to John Holdren, Obama’s chief scientific adviser. All those who regularly attend, including Michèle Flournoy, a senior Pentagon official, and Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, have known each other since at least 1993, when they started off in the Clinton administration. This is just as well, since they spend half their lives together: “A lot of work gets done in that group,” says Flournoy. “Sometimes it feels like shovelling coal to keep the fires going.” The refurbished machinery was perhaps most in evidence during the build-up to Mr Obama’s decision in December to send another 30,000 US troops to Afghanistan – a journey that took four months and involved him in 40 hours of Oval Office meetings. But the very diligence of the process crowded out Obama’s time to focus on other crises – of which there are many. “Time is the most precious commodity a president has,” says a for­mer national security ad­viser. “On average he is only going to have 45 minutes a day for foreign policy, so you want to make sure it is well spent.” The widely expected departure of Gen Jones before the end of the year has also created rivalries within the engine room. Those who are thought to have ambitions to replace him include Steinberg, Rice, Donilon and Denis McDonough, NSC chief of staff and the foreign policy official who is personally closest to Obama. Although all are widely respected, none is considered a big strategic thinker in the Kissinger or Scowcroft mould. Described by Mr Gelb as Obama’s “Lord High Executioner”, McDonough “has appended himself to the Chicago crowd”, says another official. McDonough’s widely feared role highlights some of the contradictions of Obama’s foreign policy apparatus. Once an adviser to former Senate majority leader, Tom Daschle, McDonough was frequently at Obama’s side during the campaign. Insiders describe him as the “en­forcer” and as the keeper of “message discipline”, a key element of any campaign but something that can drastically slow the wheels of government. “McDonough is the guy from the campaign and the one who plays basketball with the president – they’re very close,” says an official. “Instead of Jim Jones telling McDonough what the president thinks, it is the other way round.” Indeed, if Obama’s highly centralized foreign policy machine had a face, it would be Mr McDonough’s. “Donilon has been perceived to make the process inclusive and give everyone a seat at the table,” says David Rothkopf, a former Clinton official and scholar on the NSC. “Fairly or not, McDonough has been perceived as representing a process that was taking place in another room, among the inner circle, at a table to which most weren’t invited.” Obama has built a machine in which all roads lead to and from him. On the minus side, that means a lot of lower-level meetings without decisions. It also means neglecting issues that cannot be squeezed into his diary, such as trade policy, which continues to drift; or relations with India, which are unnecessarily tense. On the plus side, Obama has a sharp learning curve, which means his administration continues to evolve. On the plus side also, if it has to be White House-centric, it is perhaps better with him as the Sun King than, say, Nixon or George W. Bush. “At the end of each meeting, the president summarizes what everyone has said and the arguments each has made with a real lawyer’s clarity,” says a participant to the NSC principals meeting, which includes Mr Gates and Mrs Clinton. “When the president finally makes a decision, it is with the full facts and usually shows a high caliber of judgment.” When Obama makes a decision, that is. (Edward Luce and Daniel Dombey, “Waiting on a Sun King,” Financial Times, March 31, 2010, p. 11)


4/1/10:
Squeezed by food shortages and financial sanctions, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il appears to be reaching out to China and Chinese investors. Kim may soon travel to China, according to the office of South Korea’s president and U.S. officials. They cited preparations that appear to be underway in the Chinese border city of Dandong and in Beijing. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Thursday it does not have information on whether Kim will visit China. The potential trip could help restart six-party talks, hosted by China, aimed at persuading North Korea to denuclearize in return for economic and political benefits. Kim is also attempting to accelerate Chinese investment in his destitute country. To that end, he has ordered the creation of a State Development Bank. Officials from the new bank told a South Korean professor last week that they intend to allow the construction of foreign-owned factories in major North Korean cities. This would allow Chinese firms, many of which are running short of low-cost factory workers, access to North Korea’s pool of low-wage laborers. Kim, 68, and showing the effects of a 2008 stroke, is in the early stages of handing power over to his untested 27-year-old son, Kim Jong Eun. But the legitimacy of the succession — and of the state itself — is being weakened by the growth of the markets and increased public access to foreign media. Refugee surveys show that many North Koreans blame Kim’s government for food shortages, corruption and incompetence. “Kim Jong Il doesn’t have many cards to play, so there is more and more pressure on him to return to the six-party talks,” said Koh Yu-whan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul. “He is also aiming to get investment from ethnic Korean businesses in China.” [cause-and-effect??] (Blaine Harden, “Facing Food Shortages and Sanctions, Kim Jong-il Appears to Reach out to China,” Washington Post, April 1, 2010)

In a 20-minute telephone conversation early today President Barack Obama offered to help South Korea find the exact cause of the sinking of the ROK Navy frigate Cheonan, Cheong Wa Dae said. The U.S. President reaffirmed his earlier pledge to provide an extended nuclear deterrence for South Korea to counter North Korea’s threats, said Cheong Wa Dae. The leaders also discussed the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit slated for April 12 in Washington. The U.S. has said it has no evidence showing North Korea’s involvement, but some local media, citing anonymous sources, raised the possibility of an attack on the Cheonan, which defense officials here claim was on a routine patrol mission. (Na Jeong-ju, “U.S. Offers to Help Find Cause of Ship Sinking,” Korea Times, April 1, 2010)

When South Koreans flocked to see The Host – the 2006 hit film, ostensibly about a killer monster terrorizing the banks of the river Han in Seoul – part of the appeal came from a more tangible fear. The story’s real villain is the heavy-handed South Korean state itself, which bewilders and misleads frightened, grieving people. Families recovering from the monster’s first rampage are herded up without explanation by authorities in biological-warfare suits. Throughout the drama, angry people get no help or answers from the state. The sinister state in the film is a pastiche and real South Korea has made huge strides since military dictatorship ended. However, its 22-year-old democracy still struggles to build trust between government and people. The past few days have been a perfect example. Last week’s mysterious sinking of a South Korean warship, in which 46 sailors are feared dead, has left Seoul taken aback by the visceral rage of distraught families. While some parents questioned the seaworthiness of the ship, the touch-paper was lit by the way the families felt they were treated. They have sobbed, screamed and fainted, lamenting a lack of communication from the government and complained that the armed forces treated them like a troublesome enemy. One can sympathize with the government. In cold, choppy waters with dismal visibility, both rescue work, suspended yesterday because of bad weather, and determining the cause of the sinking are extremely difficult. South Korea is also a world apart from Russia, which stood ready to sedate furious parents with hypodermic syringes after the Kursk submarine sank in 2000. However, the families have identified two areas where Seoul continually shoots itself in the foot: appalling communication and the instincts of military autocracy reappearing at just the wrong moments. South Korea still blocks access to North Korean websites and even Pyongyang’s histrionic state news agency, which makes more of a mockery of the regime than Seoul ever could. Ironically, democratic South Koreans cannot be trusted to make up their own minds about the autocratic North. It is telling that a current bestselling book was written by a whistle-blowing former chief lawyer from Samsung Electronics, who alleged corruption involving the world’s biggest technology company and state officials. South Koreans yearn to read these stories but the papers, whose advertising revenue is controlled by the chaebol, have refused to review or advertise the book. This tarnishes the government’s credibility. Lee Myung-bak, the conservative president and a former boss of chaebol Hyundai’s construction unit, last year pardoned Samsung’s chairman after he was convicted of serious financial crimes. Lesser mortals grumble that they would go to jail for less.This skepticism about the government and mainstream media has made the web the main forum for dissent and co-coordinating protests. The whistle-blower’s book on Samsung got most of its publicity through Twitter. The government’s reflex is to take the battle to the cybernauts, even arresting the country’s most celebrated financial blogger last year. The supreme challenge for Korean democracy is to steer the cathartic debate on corruption and corporate governance away from angry tweeters and into the mainstream. Until that happens, South Korea will remain an explosively polarized democracy. And the authorities will continue to be blindsided by tortuous conspiracy theories and spectacular outbursts of rage from the masses it refuses to trust. (Christian Oliver, “Sinking Underlines South Korean View of State As Monster,” Financial Times, April 1, 2010, p. 3)

UK Amb. James Hoare: “At a recent private meeting in London, a former senior United Nations’ official, drawing on experience relating to a wide range of countries, said that transforming a ‘failing’ or ‘fragile’ state was not something that could be done overnight. Those involved needed to think in terms of ten to twenty years rather than weeks or months. Regardless of whether or not one accepts the idea of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as a failed or even fragile state—and the term is often used in some quarters—the idea that one is in for the long haul in bringing about major modifications in behavior and attitude is certainly a good one to have in mind when dealing with the DRPK. It was such an approach that marked the Republic of Korea’s policy towards the North under former Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun. Since the Lee Myung-bak government took office in the Republic of Korea in 2008, it is fashionable to dismiss the policies followed by his predecessors as an expensive failure. Sneers about ‘ATM diplomacy,’ innuendo about Kim Dae-jung’s motives, and references to his successor Roh Moo-hyun’s naivety, are the commonplace of South Korean academic and press comment, and are heard much further afield. ‘Sunshine’ or engagement have become terms of mockery. The Lee government has adopted a more aggressive policy towards North Korea. It has not refused assistance outright, but has couched its offers in such a way that rejection is inevitable—the most recent example is the “grand bargain” proposed in 2009 in which the DPRK must first give up its nuclear program to receive security guarantees and aid. This is then played back as evidence that the North is incorrigible and not deserving of assistance. The Lee government’s approach is based on an incorrect assessment both of the Sunshine Policy and what went before it. ‘Sunshine’ or ‘engagement’ was not something that sprang from Kim Dae-jung’s fertile brain, though he certainly can be credited with refining and developing the idea. The policies pursued by Kim and Roh lay firmly within a tradition that goes back to President Park Chung Hee in the early 1970s and that was followed by all his successors to a greater or lesser degree. However, it was never easy to engage the North and it did not take much to divert earlier presidents from such a policy. Frustrated or annoyed, they eventually gave up the effort. The difference after 1998 was that South Korea stuck to ‘sunshine’ even when there were difficulties. Neither Kim nor Roh were starry-eyed and neither expected that the North would be changed overnight. Both responded to Pyongyang’s bad behavior with firmness. But they realized that circumstances had changed with the famine and other problems that hit North Korea in the 1990s. They also realized that for engagement to be successful, it was best to avoid rubbing in the fact that the country faced real problems. Even if the explanations offered for the problems often ignored the North Korean regime’s own part in bringing them about, there was nevertheless an acceptance that help was needed. The unprecedented appeal for outside assistance that brought in UN agencies and resident non-governmental organizations in the late 1990s showed that the South would help without preaching. No doubt the expense and complications of German reunification also gave pause for thought. If the two Germanys, which had not fought a savage war and were far richer, could not achieve a smooth reintegration, how could the two Koreas? So Kim and Roh did not break off engagement as a result of ‘bad’ behavior or outside criticism of “soft policies.” They accepted that it would take a long time to modify Pyongyang’s policies and that there were likely to be few expressions of thanks. Of course there was no instant transformation. But the new approach provided a window for other countries to establish relations with North Korea. In theory, it had long been the South’s policy to allow if not to encourage such relations, but the reality had been different. From 2000 onwards, that changed. Countries that had hitherto held back for fear of offending Seoul now found themselves encouraged to establish relations with Pyongyang. Those that did so found a North Korea that seemed eager for change, although very careful about how that eagerness was expressed. But there was a readiness to do things that would have seemed improbable only ten years before. While never quite admitting that the policies pursued under Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il might have had defects, those of us working in the North between 2000-2002 found a willingness on the part of officials to admit that they needed assistance and that mistakes had been made. Examples included a vice-mayor who admitted that post-Korean War town planning had many defects that were only then becoming obvious. Officials were willing to admit that the country was in need of a whole range of economic and commercial skills that had hitherto been neglected. Perhaps most telling of all, a country that had responded to the changes in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China in the early 1990s by calling home all its overseas students now was most anxious to send students abroad once again. Engagement was thus helping to open North Korean eyes to possibilities beyond juche, but unfortunately, even before the 2002 nuclear crisis, there was relatively little follow-up on these expressions of intent. Pyongyang found difficulty in matching students to the requirements of foreign universities and other training institutions. Some countries that established diplomatic relations preferred to concentrate on human rights issues to the exclusion of other matters. Since several of these were members of the European Union (EU), their approach inevitably affected the EU’s broad approach to North Korea. Even among countries that did not give predominance to human rights, goodwill was rarely transformed into sufficient funding to make a real difference. That said, in the British case alone, we were able to fund several sessions of economics training, an English-language training program that put initially two—now four –British teachers into DPRK universities to train English teachers, and intensive English courses for a variety of North Korean officials. In addition, non-governmental bodies such as the BBC and Reuters conducted training programs for media staff in modern methods of news presentation and communication skills. Perhaps if the United States had been more supportive of its ally’s engagement policy these efforts would have made a difference. But as the relatively benign approach towards engagement of the Clinton years gave way to hostility under President George W. Bush after 2000 that too had an impact on how far countries such as Britain would support the sunshine policy. It was South Korea’s approach to engagement that had the greatest impact. Seoul’s aid and other measures taken under the umbrella of the “sunshine” approach brought North and South into contact across many fields. During the period from 1998-2008, the North became known to South Korean citizens in a totally unprecedented way. The process had begun earlier, especially during the Roh Tae-woo presidency (1988-93), but the trickle of information about the North of those years became a flood. And it was not only information but actual contact with North Korea. For some, this meant tightly controlled tours to the Diamond Mountains (Mount Kumgang) or towards the end of the period, to Kaesong at the western end of the Demilitarized Zone. Limited though these were, they were still a glimpse into what had hitherto been unknown and feared. There were also signs that, as the North got used to the idea of such visits, it might open up a little more; the decision to allow the use of visitors’ own cars in March 2008 was one such indication, but there were several others. Much more important were the wide range of government and non-governmental contacts. Relatively few North Koreans came South but the traffic in the other direction was enormous. On any given day, there were likely to be several thousand South Korean visitors in the North, dealing with aid, trade, cultural, educational and even religious exchanges—both the Protestant and the Roman Catholic churches in the North had regular South Korean officiating ministers as well as hymnbooks and prayer books produced in the ROK. South Korean journalists were also a not uncommon sight. Most of this activity may have been confined to Pyongyang, by not all of it was. South Koreans were visiting many parts of the country, especially in connection with agricultural assistance and other aid-related projects. Nobody was starry-eyed about these visits. South Korean visitors were watched and controlled. But they were able to learn a lot since they could speak and read Korean. If the projects agreed to at the October 2007 summit between Kim Jong-il and Roh Moo-hyun had been implemented by the incoming Lee Myung-bak government, there would have been a huge increase in these types of contacts. No doubt engagement was expensive and sometimes the means used to bring it about were shady, but it was producing benefits. The South, and to some extent the rest of the world, now has a far better understanding of how North Korea works then it did before engagement began. Within the North, a large number of people have come to see their southern compatriots in a less hostile light and have some, even if limited, understanding of the economic and social structures of South Korea. Perhaps some of the assistance provided was diverted away from its original purpose, but enough rice and fertilizer bags reached areas far away from Pyongyang and enough people were willing to ask questions about the South to show that the impact of engagement extended beyond a small circle of ruling elite. Slowly, the policy was creating a group of people who could see benefits in remaining on good terms with South Korea and who had wider links with the outside world. Engagement has worked in other countries, most noticeably China, and I believe that it was beginning to work in North Korea. There was never going to be a speedy change in attitudes built up over sixty years, but stopping the process after ten was not a wise decision.” (James E. Hoare, “Why the Sunshine Policy Made Sense,” 38North, April 1, 2010)

Jeffrey Lewis: “Signs that Six Party Talks might resume have triggered another round of debate about the wisdom of engaging North Korea. These debates play out in the pages of newspapers, like the Washington Post, which published a pair of stories at the end of 2009 based on a letter written by A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb and notorious nuclear smuggler. The articles contained some striking claims about Pakistan’s involvement with North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs: first, that North Korean officials showed Khan three disassembled nuclear weapons in 1999; and second, that North Korea, in 2002, was constructing a large uranium enrichment facility. A casual reader could be forgiven for concluding that the two stories—“A Nuclear Power’s Act of Proliferation” (November 13) and “Pakistani Scientist Depicts More Advanced Nuclear Program in North Korea” (December 28)—contained new revelations bearing on U.S. policy towards the North Korea…news, in other words. The Post lent its pages to a former White House official to say just that: “This paints a picture of even more collaboration than I assumed those countries had,” said Robert G. Joseph, a prominent critic of the 1994 agreement. Joseph served as the principal nonproliferation official at the White House under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005 and then as undersecretary of state for arms control. The fact is these claims were well known before Joseph left the White House. They were available to senior government officials like him, as well as to anyone who read the New York Times, where both stories were reported. It also turns out that neither claim is very plausible. It is important to understand the role that these tales have played in the ongoing debate over U.S. policy towards North Korea. According to one narrative, Pyongyang snuck into the nuclear club in the early 1990s. It then attempted to cheat on the Agreed Framework, which the Clinton Administration had accepted as a necessary evil to stop North Korea at a small number of nuclear weapons with the ultimate objective of eliminating its program altogether. The Bush Administration had no choice but to confront Pyongyang about its cheating before it was too late, even at the price of dismantling that agreement. Since it inherited a North Korea with a handful of nuclear weapons and secret plans to add many more, the Bush Administration could hardly be blamed if the North’s arsenal grew under such circumstances. This bears directly, therefore, on the wisdom of decisions made during Joseph’s tenure at the White House, in which he was a major advocate of a much tougher line against North Korea. If Pyongyang had three nuclear weapons in 1999 and was on the verge of opening a large enrichment facility, then the 1994 Agreed Framework can largely be judged a failure and Joseph vindicated. If, however, North Korea had separated relatively little plutonium prior to 2003 and remained many years away from building an enrichment facility, then the Agreed Framework was a success in managing the risk from North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. If Pyongyang had been kept within the Agreed Framework, it would not have been able to engage in many of its later provocations, including nuclear tests conducted in 2006 and 2009. Worse yet, if North Korea possessed even less plutonium than the American intelligence community believed it had, then the Bush Administration alone bears responsibility for the train of events by which Pyongyang went from having no nuclear weapons in 2002 to enough plutonium for a stockpile of at least half a dozen weapons and two nuclear tests. Joseph doesn’t just have a dog in this fight; he is one of the dogs. But even more important, the expansion of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities suggests the Bush administration made a catastrophic blunder, a perfect matched pair with the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The first Washington Post story, which is largely about Chinese assistance to Pakistan, contains a claim by Khan that North Korean officials showed him three disassembled nuclear weapons during a visit in 1999. David Sanger first reported the sensational claim in the New York Times in the weeks after Khan’s arrest. Why does this matter? In 1999, the United States didn’t know if North Korea had any nuclear weapons. While the public debate centered on the claim that North Korea had enough plutonium for “one, possibly two nuclear weapons,” this estimate was not completely certain. The American intelligence community had compelling reasons for suspicions, but the evidence was always circumstantial. And it did not, at the time, express a view about whether North Korea had actually attempted to render the plutonium in the form of a working weapon. Let’s review for a moment. The first North Korean nuclear crisis started when Pyongyang claimed, in a May 1992 declaration to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to have separated 62 grams of plutonium from about 90 grams produced in 86 broken fuel rods. The reprocessing came as a surprise to U.S. intelligence. Moreover, when the IAEA visited the Yongbyon nuclear complex, its inspectors found many discrepancies in the North Korean declaration, suggesting that Pyongyang had conducted multiple reprocessing campaigns over a longer period of time than it had declared. As a result, the intelligence community judged that North Korea had probably secretly unloaded the Yongbyon reactor in 1989 and, as a result, reprocessed enough plutonium for “one, possibly two” nuclear devices. Still, American intelligence was not certain—it merely placed the odds of North Korea having enough plutonium for a nuclear device at “better than even.” And the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) dissented from the estimate. The majority view could not—and did not—exclude the possibility that North Korea had less than the amount of plutonium needed to make a bomb. Indeed, the intelligence community quickly revised downward the estimate of plutonium produced from as much as 12 kilograms to 8.3-8.5 kilograms, only enough for one weapon. Yet, developing an approach that hedged against a range of possibilities made sense. That was the rationale behind the 1994 Agreed Framework. Whatever the current status of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, U.S. negotiators were confronted with intelligence estimates that by the end of the decade, North Korea might be able to produce hundreds of kilograms of plutonium once all its facilities were completed. While some would criticize the agreement as a “freeze, in fact President Clinton and his senior aides all agreed that,” it was more urgent to protect the present and the future than to unravel the past, by pinning down how much plutonium North Korea had indeed separated in its earlier reprocessing campaign.” The question of whether North Korea already had nuclear weapons would later play a central role in the decision in 2002 to confront North Korea over its clandestine enrichment efforts, even if that meant triggering the collapse of the Agreed Framework (which many senior officials in the Bush administration loathed). After all, if North Korea already had a stockpile of weapons, then a few more might not matter. Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell expressed this view on one of the Sunday morning talk shows, asking, “What are they going to do with another two or three nuclear weapons?” Whether or not North Korea had enough fissile material for zero, one, or two nuclear weapons in 1999 will probably remain one of those great mysteries. The documents that Pyongyang handed over to the United States in May 2008 during the Six Party nuclear negotiations indicated that it did not reprocess enough material for a bomb until 2003 after the Agreed Framework had collapsed.Khan’s claim that North Korea showed him three nuclear weapons is, like many of his statements, self-serving and probably an embellishment or fabrication, apparently meant to demonstrate that he had done no harm to Pakistan since it suggests North Korea was a nuclear power prior to Khan’s assistance. Although the New York Times did not retract the story—after all, Pakistani officials did apparently say Khan claimed to have seen three nuclear weapons—in July 2005, Sanger noted in passing that the claim was “doubted by several specialists in the American intelligence community.” Siegfried Hecker, the leading American expert on the North Korean nuclear program, told the Post that Khan was trying to evade blame for his actions by claiming that what he had supplied to North Korea “was not that bad because these guys already had nuclear weapons. That’s a nice way to cover his own tracks.” Some stories are, at first blush, too good to check. Reading Sanger’s original reporting suggests a certain credulity on his part about either Khan or his source in the administration. The story stated that the three North Korean nuclear weapons “roughly” accorded with the estimate of enough fissile material for “one, possibly two” nuclear weapons. In fact, it was “roughly” three times as much as the authoritative “worst case” estimate by the Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee (JAEC). That committee estimated North Korea’s plutonium production before 2003 at 8.3-8.5 kg—enough for just one nuclear weapon, assuming some loss during processing and a conservative nuclear design. Even were North Korea to use a very aggressive design that utilized just four kg—as Pyongyang claimed in its Six Party Talks declaration—three nuclear weapons would require 14.4 kilograms of plutonium, sixty percent more than the worst-case scenario. There is no sense in which the claim of three assembled nuclear weapons accords with the intelligence estimate, roughly or otherwise. In the second story, the Post quotes Khan as claiming “North Korea may have been enriching uranium on a small scale by 2002, with ‘maybe 3,000 or even more’ centrifuges.” In other words, North Korea may have a small centrifuge facility perfectly capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium for one or two nuclear weapons each year. This is an extraordinary claim, though there is less to it than one might think. While it is difficult to know what Khan actually said, Smith and Warrick quote him using qualifiers like ‘maybe’ and ‘quite likely.’ Why might he use such language? Is it possible Khan had little knowledge of the status of North Korea’s efforts by 2002? The Pakistani scientist played a central role in his country’s assistance to Pyongyang’s uranium enrichment efforts, even traveling to North Korea in 1994 and 1999. (Claims that Khan traveled to North Korea 13 times appear to be an exaggeration). In early 2001, however, although cooperation between the two countries continued, the new Musharraf government appears to have forcibly retired him under pressure from the United States. As a result, Khan seems to have been extrapolating North Korea’s progress based on Pakistan’s experience with its own HEU program, and on the assistance he had provided to North Korea through 2000. This is interesting information from a well-placed (if untrustworthy) source. But it is not dispositive. The United States intelligence community was also watching North Korea’s uranium enrichment efforts. Though it had had concluded in June 2002 that the program was largely limited to research and development, the U.S. assessment changed in July 2002, when it received intelligence that suggested North Korea had recently procured 150 tons of aluminum tubes from Russia. Whether this shipment alone resulted in a reappraisal of the scale of North Korea’s program, or whether reporting from a source in North Korea also played a role is unclear. In any event, the American intelligence community issued a September 2002 “memo to holders” of the June 2002 estimate that concluded North Korea had embarked on a production program for highly enriched uranium. The original estimates remain classified, but the CIA provided an untitled one-page document to Congress in November 2002. That document stated North Korea was “constructing a centrifuge facility” capable of producing enough fissile material for “two or more nuclear weapons per year” potentially “as soon as mid-decade.” This is consistent with Khan’s estimate of a facility containing 3,000 centrifuges. (Three thousand machines per unit appears to be the standard configuration for centrifuge modules based on the Pakistani program.) Adding to the confusion, the estimate referred to when the facility was ‘fully operational’—leaving some room for doubt as to whether North Korea had acquired all the necessary components. The allegation that North Korea was constructing a bricks-and-mortar enrichment facility was crucial in setting the collapse of the Agreed Framework in motion. It was on the basis of this information that the then-Assistant Secretary James Kelly confronted North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kang Sok-ju during his visit to Pyongyang in fall 2002, resulting in what Kelly claimed was an acknowledgement of the uranium enrichment program. On these grounds, the Administration decided to stop providing heavy fuel oil to Pyongyang, a U.S. obligation under the Agreed Framework, triggering a North Korean response and the demise of that agreement. The Administration chose this course despite warnings from the intelligence community that ‘if the [Agreed] Framework collapses,’ North Korea could ‘recover enough plutonium for several more weapons. As in the case of Khan’s interrogations, the Bush administration sought to defend its decision to abandon the Agreed Framework by leaking all of this information to the New York Times, which duly reported the construction of a large North Korean uranium enrichment facility with Pakistani assistance. Eventually, however, doubts began to surface in the press about whether North Korea was constructing a “bricks-and-mortar” facility. In 2003, a skeptical U.S. intelligence official told Barbara Slavin and John Diamond in USA Today that the CIA is ‘not certain there even is’ a uranium-enrichment plant in North Korea. In 2005, a former State Department official told Paul Kerr in Arms Control Today that the evidence was ‘pretty sketchy.’ The United States has never identified a specific facility under construction.’In subsequent Congressional testimony in mid-2007, after the “mid-decade” of the 2002 estimate had passed, the intelligence-community walked back these claims. According to Joseph DeTrani, the North Korean mission manager for the Director of National Intelligence, the community had ‘high confidence’ that North Korea was seeking the components for a large centrifuge program, but only “mid-confidence” that such a program existed. There was no mention of an actual facility. The New York Times, Washington Post and the wire services produced a flurry of coverage on the apparent turnabout. The Times and Post wrote outraged editorials, suggesting the Administration had again ‘exaggerated,’ ‘hyped,’ and ‘spun’ the intelligence. It seems odd that Smith and Warrick would revive the claim of the centrifuge facility without referencing this history, which includes reporting by their colleague Glenn Kessler. As in the case of North Korea’s plutonium production, we may never know how close Pyongyang was to building a large uranium enrichment facility that could provide another route to the bomb. It appears most of the equipment found its way into other projects, according to testimony by then-Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill. The aluminum tubes were used into two conventional weapons systems. The North Koreans provided limited access to confirm the end use of materials including samples of the aluminum tubes. In a final twist to the bizarre saga, according to a report by Kessler, one of the samples was contaminated with enriched uranium, though the source remains unclear. The question of whether or not North Korea had a massive enrichment program bears directly on the wisdom of the Bush administration’s decision to confront the North Koreans, triggering the collapse of the Agreed Framework, allowing Pyongyang to produce more plutonium and eventually leading to two nuclear tests. Khan’s speculation about the possibility of such a facility is interesting, especially his estimate of how quickly North Korea might be able to undertake a full-scale production program. But the crucial question remains whether or not North Korea was constructing a full-scale enrichment facility or still attempting to acquire all the components. And, on this matter, Khan had relatively little insight. A.Q. Khan, of course, isn’t writing about North Korea at all. North Korea is just the scenery for a story that he is telling about Pakistan’s domestic politics. This is a tale in which other, more powerful individuals have decided to cooperate with North Korea, Libya and Iran, while he is just a humble civil servant trying to do right by his country. It’s not a wholly convincing story, but it is understandable enough that Khan’s statements should be self-serving. Similarly, the embrace of his claims by Joseph and others is also understandable. Even if, in any other context, they would be skeptical of someone like Khan, the vindication he provides for discredited policies is obviously appealing. These are simple enough human motivations to understand. Yet self-serving statements by scoundrels like Khan or former officials like Joseph obscure, rather than reveal, the real state of North Korea’s nuclear program and, in important ways, complicate the task of devising appropriate policies. Nor are the North Koreans any help, with their bombast, bluster and threats. Over the past year, North Korea has a made a series of statements—on April 14, April 29, June 13, and September 4—suggesting that it is in fact pursuing uranium enrichment to produce fuel for yet-to-be-constructed light-water reactors. Much of the press coverage of these statements was inept, incorrectly describing North Korea’s announcement as involving full-scale production (wrong), highly enriched uranium (wrong again), or weaponization (still wrong). The actual status of North Korea’s enrichment programs remains unclear. The Obama Administration will have to think through an approach to North Korea that takes into account this uncertainty, while placing in appropriate context what some have called a “footnote” to Pyongyang’s much larger plutonium program. There are not obvious or easy answers. But my first bit of advice in devising such policies is an oldie, but goodie: Don’t believe everything you read in the newspaper.” (Jeffrey Lewis, “How A.Q. Khan Helped Distort America’s DPRK Policy,” 38North, April 1, 2010)

North Korea told visiting South Korean company officials that they plan to “freeze” a Seoul-run reunion facility at its eastern mountain resort, a government official here said. “We have learned from company officials who visited the resort that North Korean authorities plan to freeze the reunion center,” used as a venue for the gathering of families separated by the Korean War, Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung told reporters. (Sam Kim, “N. Korea Says It Will ‘Freeze’ S. Korean Government Facility,” Yonhap, April 1, 2010)


4/2/10:
Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell met with South Korea’s top nuclear negotiator and other security and foreign policy officials here for discussions on what he called important “developments” in the region. “It was important, given the developments, to come (to Korea) for a chance to talk” with officials in Seoul, said at the start of a meeting with Wi Sung-lac, Seoul’s chief envoy in six-nation negotiations on Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. He did not elaborate on the “developments.” But his trip came amid reports that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is likely to visit China soon, a move that could lead to the resumption of the nuclear talks that also involve South Korea, the United States, Japan, China and Russia. (Yonhap, “Senior U.S. Diplomat Visits Seoul to Discuss N. Korea,” Yonhap, April 2, 2010) South Korea has asked the U.S. not to hold talks with North Korea before the cause of the sinking of the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan is determined. This is expected to derail the planned visit to the U.S. by North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan. “We’ve asked U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell to postpone North Korea-U.S. talks for a while. If relations between North Korea and the U.S. improve at a time when inter-Korean relations worsen due to unexpected events such as the sinking of the Cheonan, Seoul could feel isolated. We have informed the U.S. government of such worries,” a South Korean official said on April 12. “The U.S. has accepted our request and deferred its issuance of an entry visa for a key North Korean figure who had planned to visit the U.S.” Campbell offered condolences over the Cheonan mishap April 2 to Wi Sung-lak, South Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator, saying, “We’ll do anything to help our South Korean friends, who have recently suffered a lot.” Another South Korean government source said, “The U.S. has participated in efforts to find the cause of the Cheonan’s sinking. (South Korea) will be left with an egg on its face if North Korea turns out to have attacked the Cheonan. To avoid such an awkward situation, Washington decided against speaking with Pyongyang before the cause of the incident is confirmed.” (Dong-A Ilbo, “U.S. Asked to Delay Talks with N. Korea,” April 13, 2010)


4/4/10:
President Obama said that he was revamping American nuclear strategy to substantially narrow the conditions under which the United States would use nuclear weapons. But the president said in an interview that he was carving out an exception for “outliers like Iran and North Korea” that have violated or renounced the main treaty to halt nuclear proliferation. Discussing his approach to nuclear security the day before formally releasing his new strategy, Obama described his policy as part of a broader effort to edge the world toward making nuclear weapons obsolete, and to create incentives for countries to give up any nuclear ambitions. To set an example, the new strategy renounces the development of any new nuclear weapons, overruling the initial position of his own defense secretary. Obama’s strategy is a sharp shift from those of his predecessors and seeks to revamp the nation’s nuclear posture for a new age in which rogue states and terrorist organizations are greater threats than traditional powers like Russia and China. It eliminates much of the ambiguity that has deliberately existed in American nuclear policy since the opening days of the cold war. For the first time, the United States is explicitly committing not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear states that are in compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, even if they attacked the United States with biological or chemical weapons or launched a crippling cyberattack. Those threats, Obama argued, could be deterred with “a series of graded options,” a combination of old and new conventional weapons. “I’m going to preserve all the tools that are necessary in order to make sure that the American people are safe and secure,” he said in the interview in the Oval Office. White House officials said the new strategy would include the option of reconsidering the use of nuclear retaliation against a biological attack, if the development of such weapons reached a level that made the United States vulnerable to a devastating strike. “We are going to want to make sure that we can continue to move towards less emphasis on nuclear weapons,” and, Obama added, to “make sure that our conventional weapons capability is an effective deterrent in all but the most extreme circumstances.” The release of the new strategy, known as the Nuclear Posture Review, opens an intensive nine days of nuclear diplomacy geared toward reducing weapons. Obama plans to fly to Prague to sign a new arms-control agreement with Russia on Thursday and then next week will host 47 world leaders in Washington for a summit meeting on nuclear security. The most immediate test of the new strategy is likely to be in dealing with Iran, which has defied the international community by developing a nuclear program that it insists is peaceful but that the United States and its allies say is a precursor to weapons. Asked about the escalating confrontation with Iran, Mr. Obama said he was now convinced that “the current course they’re on would provide them with nuclear weapons capabilities,” though he gave no timeline. He dodged when asked whether he shared Israel’s view that a “nuclear capable” Iran was as dangerous as one that actually possessed weapons. “I’m not going to parse that right now,” he said, sitting in his office as children played on the South Lawn of the White House at a daylong Easter egg roll. But he cited the example of North Korea, whose nuclear capabilities were unclear until it conducted a test in 2006, which it followed with a second shortly after Obama took office. “I think it’s safe to say that there was a time when North Korea was said to be simply a nuclear-capable state until it kicked out the I.A.E.A. and become a self-professed nuclear state,” he said. “And so rather than splitting hairs on this, I think that the international community has a strong sense of what it means to pursue civilian nuclear energy for peaceful purposes versus a weaponizing capability.” Obama said he wanted a new United Nations sanctions resolution against Iran “that has bite,” but he would not embrace the phrase “crippling sanctions” once used by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. And he acknowledged the limitations of United Nations action. “We’re not naïve that any single set of sanctions automatically is going to change Iranian behavior,” he said, adding “there’s no light switch in this process.” The document to be released tomorrow after months of study led by the Defense Department will declare that “the fundamental role” of nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attacks on the United States, allies or partners, a narrower presumption than the past. But Obama rejected the formulation sought by arms control advocates to declare that the “sole role” of nuclear weapons is to deter a nuclear attack. In shifting the nuclear deterrent toward combating proliferation and the sale or transfer of nuclear material to terrorists or nonnuclear states, Obama seized on language developed in the last years of the Bush administration. It had warned North Korea that it would be held “fully accountable” for any transfer of weapons or technology. But the next year, North Korea was caught aiding Syria in building a nuclear reactor but suffered no specific consequence. Obama was asked whether the American failure to make North Korea pay a heavy price for the aid to Syria undercut Washington’s credibility. “I don’t think countries around the world are interested in testing our credibility when it comes to these issues,” he said. He said such activity would leave a country vulnerable to a nuclear strike, and added, “We take that very seriously because we think that set of threats present the most serious security challenge to the United States.” (David E. Sanger and Peter Baker, “Obama Limits When U.S. Would Use Nuclear Arms,” New York Times, April 5, 2010, p. A-1)

Obama interview: “Q. The posture review clearly makes most nations immune from first strike — with some notable exceptions: nuclear states — but the most interesting new exception that you have in this is states like Iran and North Korea, that are, particularly in Iran’s case, not living up to the NPT, at least as viewed by many around the world. If you were Iran or North Korea and you read this document, what would your takeaway be from it? A. What I hope everybody understands is that coming into office I’ve tried to maintain a consistent, comprehensive strategy that moves us in the direction of strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty and that encourages countries to abide by international codes of conduct and basic rules of the road. And so the Nuclear Posture Review, I would say, is part of an overall strategy to send a clear message that we’re going to have a strong NPT, that everybody has an interest in being in the NPT, that we’re going to follow our obligations within the NPT, and that we are going to try to bring every tool that we have at our disposal to prevent proliferation and to prevent nuclear terrorism. And so all countries — whether they’re nuclear weapons states, nonnuclear weapons states or aspiring nuclear weapons states — I think should be very clear about what our approach and our strategy is. And I do think that when you’re looking at outliers like Iran or North Korea, they should see that over the course of the last year and a half we have been executing a policy that will increasingly isolate them so long as they are operating outside of accepted international norms. Q. You picked up on some wording that President Bush left over after the North Korea nuclear test, I think Mr. Hadley then repeated, which was that states would be held “fully accountable.” At the same time, you could argue that that’s got less credibility than it did — North Korea obviously was helping Syria build a complete nuclear reactor, didn’t suffer a whole lot for that action in 2007-2008. How does this become more credible? A. Well, I don’t think countries around the world are interested in testing our credibility when it comes to these issues. The message we’re sending here, consistent with what I said earlier about our overall approach, is that for you to assist a terrorist organization to obtain nuclear material or nuclear weapons, or for you to as a state to actively pursue a proliferation agenda is one that will leave you outside of our negative assurances. We take that very seriously because we think that that set of threats present the most serious security challenge for the United States. … Q. Mr. President, you raise a critical question there when you said “nuclear weapons capabilities.” You have said before you could not live with a nuclear weapon state in Iran, and many members of your administration have said that. People have been less specific about whether you could live with a nuclear-capable Iran, an Iran that runs right up to the edge. A. I’m not going to parse that right now. I think it’s safe to say that there was a time when North Korea was said to be simply a nuclear-capable state until it kicked out the I.A.E.A. and become a self-professed nuclear state. And so rather than splitting hairs on this, I think that the international community has a strong sense of what it means to pursue civilian nuclear energy for peaceful purposes versus a weaponizing capability. And a weaponizing capability is obviously significant as we evaluate whether or not Iran or any other country is serious about these issues. … But we do think that sanctions that are robust send a strong message. And the sanctions that we have applied on North Korea have been enforced vigorously, and we do think have had an impact.” (Excerpts from Obama Interview, New York Times, April 6, 2010)

Nuclear Posture Review: “The United States will continue to strengthen conventional capabilities and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks, with the objective of making deterrence of nuclear attack on the United States or our allies and partners the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons. Since the end of the Cold War, the strategic situation has changed in fundamental ways. With the advent of U.S. conventional military preeminence and continued improvements in U.S. missile defenses and capabilities to counter and mitigate the effects of CBW, the role of U.S. nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks – conventional, biological, or chemical – has declined significantly. The United States will continue to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks. To that end, the United States is now prepared to strengthen its long-standing “negative security assurance” by declaring that the United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations. This revised assurance is intended to underscore the security benefits of adhering to and fully complying with the NPT and persuade non-nuclear weapon states party to the Treaty to work with the United States and other interested parties to adopt effective measures to strengthen the non-proliferation regime. In making this strengthened assurance, the United States affirms that any state eligible for the assurance that uses chemical or biological weapons against the United States or its allies and partners would face the prospect of a devastating conventional military response – and that any individuals responsible for the attack, whether national leaders or military commanders, would be held fully accountable. Given the catastrophic potential of biological weapons and the rapid pace of bio-technology development, the United States reserves the right to make any adjustment in the assurance that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of the biological weapons threat and U.S. capacities to counter that threat. In the case of countries not covered by this assurance – states that possess nuclear weapons and states not in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations – there remains a narrow range of contingencies in which U.S. nuclear weapons may still play a role in deterring a conventional or CBW attack against the United States or its allies and partners. The United States is therefore not prepared at the present time to adopt a universal policy that deterring nuclear attack is the sole purpose of nuclear weapons, but will work to establish conditions under which such a policy could be safely adopted. Yet that does not mean that our willingness to use nuclear weapons against countries not covered by the new assurance has in any way increased. Indeed, the United States wishes to stress that it would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners. It is in the U.S. interest and that of all other nations that the nearly 65-year record of nuclear non-use be extended forever. Accordingly, among the key conclusions of the NPR:

• The United States will continue to strengthen conventional capabilities and reduce the role of nuclear weapons in deterring non-nuclear attacks, with the objective of making deterrence of nuclear attack on the United States or our allies and partners the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons.

• The United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the United States or its allies and partners.

• The United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations. …

Key NPR recommendations include:

• Conduct follow-on analysis to set goals for future nuclear reductions below the levels expected in New START, while strengthening deterrence of potential regional adversaries, strategic stability vis-à-vis Russia and China, and assurance of our allies and partners. … Given that Russia and China are currently modernizing their nuclear capabilities – and that both are claiming U.S. missile defense and conventionally-armed missile programs are destabilizing – maintaining strategic stability with the two countries will be an important challenge in the years ahead.

• The United States will pursue high-level, bilateral dialogues on strategic stability with both Russia and China which are aimed at fostering more stable, resilient, and transparent strategic relationships. … With China, the purpose of a dialogue on strategic stability is to provide a venue and mechanism for each side to communicate its views about the other’s strategies, policies, and programs on nuclear weapons and other strategic capabilities. The goal of such a dialogue is to enhance confidence, improve transparency, and reduce mistrust. As stated in the 2010 Ballistic Missile Defense Review Report, ‘maintaining strategic stability in the U.S.-China relationship is as important to this Administration as maintaining strategic stability with other major powers.’ … First, any future nuclear reductions must continue to strengthen deterrence of potential regional adversaries, strategic stability vis-à-vis Russia and China, and assurance of our allies and partners. This will require an updated assessment of deterrence requirements; further improvements in U.S., allied, and partner non-nuclear capabilities; focused reductions in strategic and nonstrategic weapons; and close consultations with allies and partners. The United States will continue to ensure that, in the calculations of any potential opponent, the perceived gains of attacking the United States or its allies and partners would be far outweighed by the unacceptable costs of the response. … In Asia and the Middle East – where there are no multilateral alliance structures analogous to NATO – the United States has maintained extended deterrence through bilateral alliances and security relationships and through its forward military presence and security guarantees. When the Cold War ended, the United States withdrew its forward deployed nuclear weapons from the Pacific region, including removing nuclear weapons from naval surface vessels and general purpose submarines. Since then, it has relied on its central strategic forces and the capacity to redeploy nuclear systems in East Asia in times of crisis. Although nuclear weapons have proved to be a key component of U.S. assurances to allies and partners, the United States has relied increasingly on non-nuclear elements to strengthen regional security architectures, including a forward U.S. conventional presence and effective theater ballistic missile defenses. As the role of nuclear weapons is reduced in U.S. national security strategy, these non-nuclear elements will take on a greater share of the deterrence burden. Moreover, an indispensable ingredient of effective regional deterrence is not only non-nuclear but also non-military – strong, trusting political relationships between the United States and its allies and partners. …In pursuit of their nuclear ambitions, North Korea and Iran have violated nonproliferation obligations, defied directives of the United Nations Security Council, pursued missile delivery capabilities, and resisted international efforts to resolve through diplomatic means the crises they have created. Their illicit supply of arms and sensitive material and technologies has heightened global proliferation risks and regional tensions. Their provocative behavior has increased instability in their regions. Continued non-compliance with non-proliferation norms by these and other countries would seriously weaken the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), with adverse security implications for the United States and the international community at large. The potential for regional aggression by these states raises challenges not only of deterrence, but also of reassuring U.S. allies and partners. In the Cold War, our allies sought assurance that they would remain safe in the face of Soviet threats because the United States was demonstrably committed to their security. Today’s environment is quite different. Some U.S. allies are increasingly anxious about changes in the security environment, including nuclear and missile proliferation, and desire reassurance that the United States will remain committed to their security. A failure of reassurance could lead to a decision by one or more non-nuclear states to seek nuclear deterrents of their own, an outcome which could contribute to an unraveling of the NPT regime and to a greater likelihood of nuclear weapon use. … We will continue to assure our allies and partners of our commitment to their security and to demonstrate this commitment not only through words, but also through deeds. This includes the continued forward deployment of U.S. forces in key regions, strengthening of U.S. and allied non-nuclear capabilities, and the continued provision of extended deterrence. Such security relationships are critical not only in deterring potential threats, but can also serve our non-proliferation goals – by demonstrating to neighboring states that their pursuit of nuclear weapons will only undermine their goal of achieving military or political advantages, and by reassuring non-nuclear U.S. allies and partners that their security interests can be protected without their own nuclear deterrent capabilities. Further, the United States will work with allies and partners to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime, especially the implementation of existing commitments within their regions. Security architectures in key regions will retain a nuclear dimension as long as nuclear threats to U.S. allies and partners remain. U.S. nuclear weapons have played an essential role in extending deterrence to U.S. allies and partners against nuclear attacks or nuclear-backed coercion by states in their region that possess or are seeking nuclear weapons. A credible U.S. “nuclear umbrella” has been provided by a combination of means – the strategic forces of the U.S. Triad, non-strategic nuclear weapons deployed forward in key regions, and U.S.-based nuclear weapons that could be deployed forward quickly to meet regional contingencies. The mix of deterrence means has varied over time and from region to region. …In Asia and the Middle East – where there are no multilateral alliance structures analogous to NATO – the United States has mainly extended deterrence through bilateral alliances and security relationships and through its forward military presence and security guarantees. When the Cold War ended, the United States withdrew its forward-deployed nuclear weapons from the Pacific region, including removing nuclear weapons from naval surface vessels and general purpose submarines. Since then, it has relied on its central strategic forces and the capacity to redeploy non-strategic nuclear systems in East Asia, if needed, in times of crisis. The Administration is pursuing strategic dialogues with its allies and partners in East Asia and the Middle East to determine how best to cooperatively strengthen regional security architectures to enhance peace and security, and reassure them that U.S. extended deterrence is credible and effective. Enhancing regional security architectures is a key part of the U.S. strategy for strengthening regional deterrence while reducing the role and numbers of nuclear weapons. These regional security architectures include effective missile defense, counter-WMD capabilities, conventional power-projection capabilities, and integrated command and control – all underwritten by strong political commitments. The goal is to ensure that if states attempt to attack U.S. forces or our allies and partners, their attacks will be blunted and their aims denied by an enhanced set of capabilities – and that these states understand this reality and so are deterred from threatening or undertaking such an attack. Strengthening the non-nuclear elements of regional security architectures is vital to moving toward a world free of nuclear weapons. The United States is positioned with capabilities across all domains to deter a wide range of attacks or forms of coercion against itself, its allies, and partners. Credible deterrence depends on land, air, and naval forces capable of fighting limited and large-scale conflicts in anti-access environments, as well as forces prepared to respond to the full range of challenges posed by state and non-state groups. These forces are enabled by U.S. capabilities to protect its assets in cyberspace and outer space and enhanced by U.S. capabilities to deny adversaries’ objectives through resilient infrastructure (including command and control systems), global basing and posture, and ballistic missile defense and counter-WMD capabilities.” (U.S., Department of Defense, “Nuclear Posture Review Report,” April 2010)


4/5/10:
A number of analysts argued that by publicly painting a target on Iran and North Korea the administration could, perhaps unwittingly, bolster hard-liners in those countries, who have made the case that nuclear weapons are the only way to ensure their safety against American plotting. The opposite critique came from two senior Republican Party national security experts — Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl, both of Arizona — who contended that the pressure was not direct enough. “We believe that preventing nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation should begin by directly confronting the two leading proliferators and supporters of terrorism, Iran and North Korea,” they wrote. “The Obama administration’s policies, thus far, have failed to do that, and this failure has sent exactly the wrong message to other would be proliferators and supporters of terrorism.” To Mr. Obama and his aides, the “outlier” approach is all part of a broader strategy of adding to the pressure on both countries. Over the past year, they have aided the interception of North Korea’s shipping. They have sought to develop new sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and to undermine its nuclear program with a program of covert action. (David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker, “Obama’s Nuclear Strategy Intended as a Message,” New York Times, April 6, 2010, p. A-)

North Korea threatened to abandon a search for the remains of U.S. soldiers who went missing during the 1950-53 Korean War, saying Washington would be to blame for the loss. The statement is likely a move by the destitute North to win cash from Washington, which due to political reasons had suspended joint recovery projects that once brought cash to the reclusive state’s depleted coffers, experts said. “Though lots of U.S. remains are being dug out and scattered here and there in our country, our side will no longer be concerned about it,” a North Korean army spokesman was quoted as saying by KCNA. In January, the United States rejected a North Korean proposal to reopen talks on finding the remains of U.S. soldiers missing in action (MIA) from the 1950-53 war, saying Pyongyang must first return to negotiations aimed at ending its nuclear arms program. “We are very surprised at the U.S. which is turning away from the fact that its servicemen’s remains are being spoiled and scattered here and there in the DPRK,” the North’s military official said. The U.S. State Department said roughly 8,100 of the country’s servicemen remain unaccounted for. In 33 missions to North Korea until recovery work was suspended in 2005 amid rising tensions over the North’s nuclear ambitions, more than 20 sets of remains had been identified. (Jack Kim, “North Korea Threatens to Abandon U.S. MIA Remains,” Reuters, April 4, 2010)


4/7/09:
President Lee Myung-bak: “What’s the status of efforts to denuclearize North Korea? As of now, I don’t think that North Korea will voluntarily and willingly give up its nuclear weapons capabilities. Without continued tough sanctions and measures employed by the members of the six-party talks, as well as the members of the U.N. Security Council and the international community as a whole, I don’t think North Korea will willingly give up its nuclear weapons capabilities. Unless North Korea is forced into a position where they have no choice but to give up their nuclear weapons capabilities, until such a time comes, I don’t think the North Koreans will voluntarily give it up. And I’m sure President Obama fully understands the situation as well, and that is perhaps one reason why we are seeing a very close coordination among the members of the international community when it comes to dealing with the North Koreans. And I think such cooperation and close coordination by the international community is applying a lot of pressure on North Korea, telling them to return to the six-party talks table. For a regime willing to let its own people starve, how can sanctions be effective? I think it’s . . . there’s no denying that the North Korean regime and its leadership are facing a transformative moment right now. Because in the past we know that the North Korean leadership was unilaterally forcing its ideology and its way of life to the North Korean people. And the general population really had no choice but to go along with the North Korean leadership. But now that is changing. This is a small yet very significant change we are detecting within North Korea. As you know, recently the North Korean leadership failed dismally in its effort to reform its currency; the state of the North Korean economy is worsening by the day; the people’s perception about their leadership is changing as well, which is a very, very dramatic and significant change. How are you detecting this change? I mentioned their efforts to have currency reform, which failed, and as a result, the ordinary lives of the North Korean people have just gotten worse than before, and it’s worsening day by day. We have received a lot of reports from North Korea that for the first time the North Korean leadership is now intent on actually explaining their reason for the failure to the North Korean population — something that we haven’t seen before is them admitting that they made mistakes. . . . This in itself is a very significant change compared to the past; it has been said that the North Korean leadership has executed the person in charge who undertook the currency reform, although we don’t have 100 percent verifiable proof . . . . And so the difference in the North Korean leadership’s behavior is that now they are actually addressing the population’s discontent — something that we haven’t seen in the past. And where could that lead? We know the challenges that the North Korean leadership is going through at the moment and I believe this can be an opportunity for us to really explore substantive dialogue with the North Koreans whereby we can convince them to fully give up their nuclear weapons capabilities; we can really sit down and talk about specific ways whereby South Korea and the international community can help the North Koreans in terms of reviving their economy and improving their quality of life. It has never been my intention to topple the North Korean regime, but it has been my intention to help the North Korean regime achieve a level of sustainability that can provide the necessary goods to its people. And so this is my policy; this is something I will continue to do. What’s the level of hunger in North Korea? We’re going to have to wait and see how their agricultural productivity performed this year, because now we’re just beginning with the planting season. In terms of the number of those who died from hunger, that statistic fortunately has gone down a little bit. And I think one reason for that is because many North Korean people, on a personal level, are venturing forth into northern China to gather whatever necessary food or other products they can get. So the number of people dying of hunger, from hunger, is decreasing, thankfully. If North Korean leader Kim Jong Il goes to China, will he receive aid that might relieve the pressure you hope could lead to an agreement? Well, I think the Chinese leadership is fully aware of what the North Koreans may want or may demand. If the Chinese leadership decides to provide North Korea with some sort of assistance, either in food or financial assistance, it is going to be very limited and with conditions. For instance, the Chinese will demand that North Korea return to the six-party negotiating table or they will put other conditions in return for their assistance. But I think the Chinese leadership is very aware that the international community is fully behind [it] and they’re working very closely together. I do not think that the Chinese will freely go against what the U.N. Security Council has adopted in its resolution or what the other remaining members of the six-party talks want to do. Do you have useful conversations with China’s leaders about this? Yes, I think it’s safe to say that we have been engaging in more in-depth dialogue with Beijing compared to the past. You’ve said no one should jump to conclusions about the sinking of your naval ship. But if North Korea turns out to be responsible, what options would you have for response? The most important thing for us is to determine, of course, the actual cause of the sinking, but also for us to come up with a result, a report, that the international community will find acceptable and approve. So the process must be transparent and it must yield accurate results, and for that, we have invited experts from our ally the United States to take part in the investigation to determine the cause of the sinking. If need be, we will be inviting other countries or other experts from other institutions and countries. And also we’ve asked the United Nations for help and assistance in determining the accurate cause, and all of these measures are being carried out so that we can increase the credibility of the report that will be coming out. And for me, as president, I don’t attach too much importance on whether we can come up with results as soon as possible, because I attach much more importance on the accuracy of the report. But when it’s finished, you will have to weigh y our options. Yes, of course. With the report, we will respond accordingly. But right now, I think it’s premature for me to make a comment on what type of option or policy options that we will employ. But I’m very committed to responding in a firm manner if need be. Would you ask Chinese leaders to press Kim Jong Il for any information the North might have about this? When it comes to the sinking of the ship, I don’t think there’s anything that we could ask or ascertain from the Chinese. Right now, like I said, what’s important is to accurately assess the reason for the sinking of the ship and then we will respond accordingly. What’s your view of the new government in Japan and its talk about new forms of Northeast Asian cooperation? We have seen the change of Japan’s leadership for the first time in more than 50 years. This has a lot of meanings, significant meaning, both within Japan domestically and also when you look at the region of Northeast Asia as well. And I think lots of changes are happening and will happen in the region. As for how the alliance relationship between Japan, the United States and our relationship with Japan changes and evolves, we are going to wait and see for the time being. As for the talks of establishing a Northeast Asia community that has been put forth by the Democratic Party of Japan, and for it to be materialized, lots of preconditions have to be met, but I don’t think it is going to be very easy at the moment, and there is lots of work that has to be done in order to make this happen. I think within Japan there is talk about how there is the need to reassess the future of the U.S.-Japan alliance. This discussion, when side by side with talks of establishing a Northeast Asia community, there is a lot of speculation coming out, especially from the U.S. perspective. I think we have to continue to watch very closely how this discussion evolves, but it is my personal thinking that our trilateral cooperation between the United States, Japan and Korea when they consider the regional and global issues, we will once again enter into a very healthy partnership that contributes positively to global peace and stability.” (Fred Hiatt Interviews South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, Washington Post, April 12, 2010, p. A-17)


4/8/10:
A spokesman for the General Guidance Bureau for the Development of Scenic Spots of the DPRK issued the following statement Thursday: The Cabinet and relevant institutions of the DPRK recently conducted an overall survey of real estates of the south side in the Mt. Kumgang Tourist Zone. The survey was carried out, pursuant to the solemn declaration made internally and externally in a statement of a spokesman for the Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee on March 4 that it would allow the tour of the Kaesong area from March and the tour of Mt. Kumgang from April and take resolute measures in case the south Korean authorities continue obstructing the resumption of the tour. The south Korean authorities, however, have not taken any sincere approach toward the resumption of the tour while talking about “adherence to their stand” despite our persevering efforts and the unanimous demand of the south Koreans from all walks of life. It is against this backdrop that we started the survey to freeze the real estates of the south side in the tourist zone as already declared. …Enormous are economic losses suffered by us due to the long suspension of the tour and the confiscation of all real estates and facilities of the south side in the tourist zone would not be enough to compensate for them. Moreover, how can one assess in cash the military and security value of area of Mt. Kumgang, the south Koreans’ wishes to see world famous scenic spots and the joy shown by the Koreans at the tour symbolic of national reconciliation and reunification? If there be anyone who suffered losses, it is none other than the Korean people, the Korean nation and the south side’s businesses, not the puppet group. …It is also preposterous for the group to talk about “breach of south-north agreement and international norms.” Who did unilaterally suspend the tour after totally violating the June 15 joint declaration and the October 4 declaration which are the most important of the north-south agreements and overturning the agreements between us and Hyundai? It is the universally accepted practice and common sense that if any economic agreement or contract remains unimplemented for a certain period, it is bound to be scrapped and compensation should be made for the resultant loss, even according to international practice. … Now that there is no way to save the tour of Mt. Kumgang from a crisis, the General Guidance Bureau for the Development of Scenic Spots of the DPRK is authorized to solemnly declare that it enters the phase of implementing the following steps in the wake of the survey of real estates of the south side in the Mt. Kumgang Tourist Zone as already clarified: 1. We will freeze as the first phase the Mt. Kumgang Reunion Center and the fire brigade belonging to the south Korean authorities and a cultural center, a hot spring resort and tax exemption office belonging to the Tourist Company of south Korea and expel all their management personnel. 2. We will deprive the Hyundai Securities, the Idun Company and the Phyongan Fibre Industrial Co. Ltd of the south side that dodged the survey of their business rights and disallow the entry of those concerned into Mt. Kumgang. 3. Tour of Mt. Kumgang by people at home and abroad will soon start through new business enterprise now that the agreement and contract on the tour made with Hyundai are no longer valid due to the south Korean authorities. 4. In case the south Korean conservative group continues mocking at the sincere efforts of the DPRK and defiling them and escalate confrontation with the DPRK quite contrary to the spirit of the joint declarations and the desire of the nation, we will reexamine the work in the Kaesong Industrial Zone in an all-round way. (KCNA, “South Side’s Assets in Mt. Kumgang to Be Frozen,” April 8, 2010)


4/9/10:
North Korea has as many as six nuclear weapons, according to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, news agencies reported on Saturday. “We know that North Korea has some where between one and six nuclear weapons,” Clinton said during a speech at the University of Louisville in Kentucky. “In North Korea, the leadership — what do they call him, the Dear Leader? — has had some health problems,” she said. “Kim Jong-il has had some difficulties with some of the economic policies that he’s put forward that have engendered real popular protest on the part of North Koreans. So it’s been difficult to get this regime to move back into the six-party talks.” She added, “But our alliance with China, Russia and South Korea and Japan is very strong, and I believe we will eventually get there.” (Korea Herald, “N. Korea Has up to 6 Nuclear Weapons, Says Clinton,” April 11, 2010)

DPRK FoMin spokesman: “The review made public on April 6 proves that the present U.S. administration still regards nukes as a mainstay in carrying out its strategy for world domination. President Obama blustered that the U.S. will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that comply with the provisions of NPT but exception is made for countries such as the DPRK and Iran. This proves that the present U.S. policy towards the DPRK is nothing different from the hostile policy pursued by the Bush administration at the outset of its office during which it was hell-bent on posing a nuclear threat to the DPRK after designating it as a “target of preemptive nuclear strike.” By releasing the review the U.S. completely backpedaled its commitment made in the September 19 Joint Statement of the six-party talks that it has no intention to attack or invade the DPRK with nuclear weapons or conventional weapons, and again chilled the hard-won atmosphere for the resumption of the talks. As far as the NPT is concerned, it is not a treaty to last long because it is a transitional step to prevent nuclear proliferation till the world is denuclearized. The DPRK pulled out of the treaty after going through legitimate and legal procedures as the U.S. more undisguisedly used the NPT as a lever for isolating and stifling it. The DPRK manufactured nukes, not prompted by any nuclear ambition. It produced them for the purpose of deterring the U.S. attack and defending its sovereignty and right to existence because the latter posed substantial nuclear threat to it after singling it out as “a target of preemptive nuclear attack.” The DPRK has so far sincerely implemented its international obligation as a responsible nuclear weapons state. The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is the invariable goal of the DPRK. If the peninsula and the rest of the world are to be denuclearized, the U.S. should stop such hostile acts as trampling down upon other countries’ sovereignty and right to existence, pursuant to its policy of strength based on nuclear supremacy. What is most urgent is for the U.S. to roll back its hostile policy towards the DPRK in practice, not with an empty talk, and take a confidence-building measure. As long as the U.S. nuclear threat persists, the DPRK will increase and update various type nuclear weapons as its deterrent in such a manner as it deems necessary in the days ahead. The DPRK is fully capable of doing so. It is the U.S. that gives the former ground and justification to do so. The U.S. should know that gone are the days never to return when the DPRK was only exposed to the blackmail and pressure slapped by the former on the strength of its nuclear weapons. (KCNA, “Foreign Ministry Dismisses U.S. Nuclear Plan,” April 9, 2010)


4/12/10:
South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy, Wi Sung-lac, met with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, James Steinberg to discuss the stalled six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear dismantlement. Wi did not give details on the meeting, saying only that “We are continuing bilateral dialogue with our counterparts from the State Department,” Yonhap reported. Wi is scheduled to meet tomorrow with Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, and Sung Kim, special envoy for six-party talks. (Kim Young-jin, “Top Nuclear Envoy Meets U.S. Official,” Korea Times, April 13, 2010)

According to the sources, during informal talks between the two this evening, Hatoyama told Obama: “The relationship between our two countries is very important. I am making every effort, and am always thinking about it. I’ll settle [the relocation issue] by the end of May.” Hatoyama then asked Obama for his cooperation. In response, however, Obama “strongly demanded” that Hatoyama settle the matter as he said he would do, according to the sources. (Ogawa Satoshi, “Obama to Hatoyama: Get Futenma Base Issue Sorted Out, Yomiuri Shimbun, April 16, 2010)


4/13/10:
The military managed to hoist a part of the sunken Cheonan’s stern above the waterline yesterday, and discovered several pieces missing, which suggests a strong blast from the outside sunk the ship. A section of the Cheonan’s stern was hoisted by a sea floating crane and moved to shallower waters near Baengnyeong Island, close to the western sea border in the Yellow Sea, 17 days after the unexplained sinking. A defense official said that two of four ship-to-ship harpoon missiles installed in the stern appear to be missing. Also, a large stovepipe disappeared. (Yonhap, “Cheonan Stern Breaks Surface after 17 Days; Certain Signs of Damage Suggest Powerful Blast from Outside Ship,” JoongAng Ilbo, April 13, 2010)

North Korea has told four employees at a South Korean-run mountain resort to leave the communist nation within 24 hours as part of measures to freeze Seoul-held assets there, sources here said. The North has also sealed the key holes of entrances to five facilities and has pasted keep-out stickers, they said. The facilities were built and run by the South Korean government and its state tourism agency. The workers, ethnic Koreans from China, had been overseeing the maintenance of a family reunion center at Mount Kumgang. The other facilities subject to the asset freeze included a duty free shop run by Seoul’s Korea Tourism Organization. (Yonhap, “N. Korea Tells S. Korean Employees at Mount Kumgang to Leave,” April 13, 2010)

North Korea’s market prices and currency exchange rate appear to be stabilizing after severe fluctuations from an abrupt government-led currency reform last year, the Seoul government said. (Tony Chang, “N. Korea’s Inflation, Exchange Rate Stabilizing after Currency Reform Shock: Seoul,” Yonhap, April 13, 2010)


4/14/10:
As world leaders gathered in Washington this week for a first-ever global nuclear summit, with North Korea being a major item on the agenda, a former British diplomat recalled that the U.S. had a chance to put a lid on North Korea’s nuclear ambition in 2002, but then sabotaged talks with Pyongyang due to domestic partisan politics. “It was a missed opportunity.” That’s how James Hoare, the first British diplomat to open the British Embassy in Pyongyang in 2001, describes a key confrontation that emerged one year after his arrival in the reclusive nation, what North Korea watchers called the onset of the “second North Korean nuclear crisis.” The Agreed Framework was de facto nullified in 2002 and started the second nuclear crisis when James Kelly, then U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific Affairs, accused the North, immediately after a visit to Pyongyang, of having secret plutonium-based and highly-enriched uranium weapons programs, violating the agreement. The shocking news, which came amid North Korea’s uncommon experiment to reform its economy and improve relations with the world’s major powers, followed by bitter confrontation between the two, made the North halt its coming-out drive and dive deeper into bolstering its nuclear devices. “Now, North Korea has some number of nuclear weapons,” Hoare said. In their confrontation in 2002, the U.S. didn’t have any evidence, but said that Kang Suk-ju, Kelly’s North Korean counterpart, “admitted” operating the clandestine program, something the North denied. Since then, long blame games have erupted between the two, while what Kelly actually heard in Pyongyang from Kang, a confidant of Kim Jong-il and first deputy minister of the foreign affairs, and used as “evidence,” has remained a subject of debate to this day. “The night Kelly and his party came to my [British] Embassy in Pyongyang, there were three interpreters. And they all said they were sure about what they heard [from Kang]. But all three of them subsequently said they weren’t sure,” Hoare recalled. According to Hoare, however, at the end of the day what Kang told Kelly didn’t really matter because he observed that the mission to Pyongyang was instructed to sabotage the Agreed Framework from the beginning and the highly-enriched uranium matter served as convenient cover. “In a way, it didn’t matter what North Korea said to them. When Kelly came, I felt that his hands were tied by his masters back in Washington,” Hoare, now retired from diplomatic duty, spoke in undiplomatically figurative terms. “Kelly’s intention was to destroy the Agreed Framework. And it worked,” he said. “He destroyed the Agreed Framework, and as a consequence, North Korea now has nuclear weapons.” Hoare said the framework had a problem. “It was intensely disliked by the U.S. Republican Party because it was Clinton’s policy. It was also seen as a U.S. move to compromise on the issue of principle. So the George W. Bush administration during its first year was determined to smash the whole thing. I don’t think it was a very sensible policy. Indeed, Bush himself didn’t think it was a sensible policy either because he retracted from this hard-line posture in 2005 after winning his second election. “Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney in particular were determined that they would not have an agreement with North Korea,” said Hoare. “Since then, North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests, and it has gone back to testing missiles. I don’t think that was a very positive result from Kelly’s visit to Pyongyang.” The reason Kelly’s delegation visited the British Embassy at that time was because the U.S. didn’t have diplomatic relations with the North and the Americans wanted to use the embassy’s communication lines to report to Washington. For Hoare, the behavior of the American diplomats in Pyongyang was unusual from the beginning. “Kelly’s team turned up. And they did no socializing with North Korean officials. That was pretty unusual. I think it was done to create confrontation.”The Americans’ behavior was also a great contrast to that of the North Koreans who were making efforts to accommodate the visitors’ needs. For example, when Kelly’s team said they would want to fly directly from Seoul to Pyongyang, officials agreed to this. When the team then said the airplane wasn’t big enough for all the delegation members and some of them would have to travel by road, crossing the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), the North Koreans also accepted it. For Hoare, the 2002 confrontation was also unfortunate because while he was living inside North Korea at that time he saw the country was showing signs of genuinely opening up to the outside world. “It was an interesting time to be there. The engagement-based Sunshine Policy by South Korean President Kim Dae-jung seemed to be working. While being suspicious of the intentions of the policy, North Koreans were also eager for outside contracts. They were eager to send students abroad. They were seeing the benefits of engagement,” he said. Hoare got the impression during the period he was there that the thrust of North Korea’s approach was to engage in the outside world to learn. They were particularly keen to have training in economics and commercial practices. With financial support from the British government, “two North Korean cadres even attended a human rights training course at a U.K. university,” he said. “You can never go back on what has already happened,” Hoare said. “But I still think that the highly-enriched uranium issue in 2002 was an unnecessary crisis.” (Sunny Lee, “Nuclear Summit and Missed Opportunity in Pyongyang,” Korea Times, April 14, 2010)

In Washington, a senior South Korean official [Wi Sung-lac] said that efforts to resume international talks on North Korea’s nuclear programs could suffer a setback if Pyongyang is found to have been involved in the sinking. “We’ve not yet fixed a concrete game plan, but we may face criticism from the media if we reopen the talks after North Korea’s involvement is confirmed,” the official said. “We want to be very clear that there is a complete agreement between South Korea and the United States about next steps if there are to be next steps given recent developments,” Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told reporters, according to the AFP. (Chang Jae-soon, “S. Korea Raises Naval Ship; Bodies Recovered,” Yonhap, April 15, 2010)

South Korea and the United States have agreed to begin negotiations to revise a bilateral pact on the use of nuclear energy as early as possible, South Korean officials said. The nuclear accord, signed in 1974 and set to expire in 2014, requires South Korea to get consent from the United States to reprocess spent nuclear fuel as a measure against its possible use for military purposes. Seoul has demanded a renegotiation as the country’s storage facilities for spent fuel are expected to reach capacity in 2016. “On the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington D.C., the two allies held working-level talks to discuss a revision of the nuclear pact,” a South Korean official said on condition of anonymity. “Both sides agreed in principle to renew the accord as early as possible. The negotiations may begin in a few weeks.” (Na Jeong-ju, “Korea, U.S. to Tackle Nuclear Energy Pact,” Korea Times, April 15, 2010)

The United States has rejected Japan’s proposals to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa to an island in Kagoshima Prefecture or an artificial island to be constructed in Okinawa, throwing cold water on Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s goal to present a workable relocation site by the end of May. During his two-day stay in Washington through Tuesday, PM Hatoyama Yukio had no opportunity to hold a formal bilateral meeting with President Barack Obama, who hosted the Nuclear Security Summit. All the increasingly embattled prime minister was able to get was a chance to speak to Obama for 10 minutes during a summit working dinner Monday, when they were seated next to each other. “I told him that the Japan-U.S. alliance is extremely important and that we are in the process of making efforts toward resolving the Futenma relocation issue,” Hatoyama told reporters afterward. “I said we will settle it by the end of May.” “It is unlikely that the Obama administration will throw a lifeline to Hatoyama,” said Asano Kazuhiro, a professor at Sapporo University. “That means he will be unable to resolve the Futenma issue and will have to step down.” (Yasumoto Mariko, Kyodo, “Hatoyama Looks Vulnerable after Fruitless U.S. Trip,” Japan Times, April 15, 2010)

The United States will investigate why the Korean warship Cheonan sank near the disputed border with North Korea three weeks ago before seeking to jumpstart nuclear talks with Pyongyang. “Let’s find out what happened in the sinking of the corvette,” Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs Kurt Campbell said when asked by reporters in Washington on Wednesday to comment on moves to revive six-nation talks to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons drive. “At this juncture, we told our South Korean friends that our primary objective is to work with them on the recovery of the ship and at that point, we will be able to make some judgments about the way forward.” (Kim So-hyun, “Cheonan Probe Comes before Nuke Talks: U.S.,” Korea Herald, April 15, 2010)


4/17/10:
KCNA: “A military commentator Saturday issued an article disclosing the truth about the “story about linkage with the north” floated by the South Korean group of traitors. There occurred an accident in which ‘Chonan,’ 1 400 ton-warship of the south Korean puppet navy, sank all of a sudden in the waters between Paekryong Island and Taechong Island in the West Sea of Korea at night of March 26, the article said, and went on: Though the sunken large ship belongs to the south side, we have so far regarded the accident as a regretful accident that should not happen in the light of the fact that many missing persons and most of rescued members of the crew are fellow countrymen forced to live a tiresome life in the puppet army. Failing to probe the cause of the sinking of the ship, the puppet military warmongers, right-wing conservative politicians and the group of other traitors in South Korea are now foolishly seeking to link the accident with the north at any cost. At the outset of the accident the group asserted that no sign of intrusion of the north’ submarine was spotted by their so-called “water-tight” maritime caution and round-the-clock radar monitoring and sound detection system. But after making a U turn from their earlier stand that there should be no foregone conclusion as regards the accident, the group started floating the “story about the linkage with the north.”
Traitor Lee Myung-bak said that one should not carelessly utter that the north is linked with the accident at its beginning. But from some days ago he began making a spate of accusations against the north while blustering that it is necessary to “probe the accident without a shred of suspicion on the premise of the possible linkage with the north”, “thoroughly cope with the movement of the north” and “South Korea will resolutely counter” the north if the cause of the accident is finally confirmed. The gentries of “Chongwadae,” though they asserted that “there was slim possibility of the north’s attack,” are now taking an attitude that they are not ruling out the “story about the linkage with the north,” jabbering that the testimonies of the survivors and the conditions of the sunken ship suggest a large possibility that the ship was hit hard from outside. The military warmongers are getting more undisguised in their moves to link the accident with the north though it was caused by their fault. Disclosing the aim sought by the group in the above-said behavior, the article continued: It is prompted by its ulterior intention to get rid of the worst ruling crisis caused by the “state management failure.” If public opinion is built to claim that the accident occurred due to “an internal factor” and its cause is not properly clarified, the group of traitors will be held directly responsible for it and, accordingly, will not be able to escape a heavy defeat in the forthcoming “June 2 local elections”. This will lead to the split of the conservative camp including the “Grand National Party” and the weakening of its ruling power, throwing the group into an inescapable predicament. Another sinister aim sought by the puppet regime in floating the above-said story is to justify the persistent and anachronistic policy towards the DPRK and shirk the blame for having driven the inter-Korean relations to the worst crisis. It is a well-known fact that from the outset of its office the group of traitors has persistently pursued the inter-Korean confrontation, insisting that “the north dismantle its nukes first.” People from all walks of life in South Korea are now becoming evermore vocal critical of the wrong policy pursued by the group towards the north, blatantly challenging the demand of the times and the desire of the nation. It is against this backdrop that the group is hyping the “story about linkage with the north’ in a bid to flee from the responsibility for having deteriorated the north-south relations and justify their mean policy toward the north with the sinking of its warship as a momentum. The ruckus kicked up by the puppet authorities while peddling the story is designed to stir up the atmosphere of international sanctions against the north and increase pressure upon it in various aspects. The group of traitors is zealously supporting its American master in his moves to bring down the system in the DPRK, while trying to give impression that the U.S.-led sanctions are proving effective. This group is making desperate efforts to block the general advance of the north toward the eminence of a great prosperous and powerful nation. Herein lies another sinister aim sought by the group of traitors in floating the nonsensical ‘story about the linkage with the north.’ It is a trite trick of the stupid to hatch plots and stoop to any infamy under that pretext whenever they are driven into a tight corner. The group of traitors would be well advised to face up to the trend of the times and refrain from uttering any word as it pleases. ” (KCNA, “Truth About S. Korean Puppet Regime’s ‘Story About Linkage With North’ Disclosed,” April 17, 2010)


4/18/10:
Ri Ki Song, a professor at the Institute of Economics, a part of North Korea’s Academy of Social Sciences, acknowledged during an interview today that the North’s currency revaluation of last November had caused some instability to unfold across the country. Professor Ri emphasized during an interview in Pyongyang with Kyodo, “there was some temporary unrest in some areas . . . but there was absolutely no social upheaval and unstable situations were immediately controlled.” Regarding foreign media reports of the currency reform, Ri stated that the articles did not reflect the reality of the situation, and that the reforms had not destabilized the North Korean society. These comments were in line with those he made on April 1, when he stated at an APTN press conference, “Many people outside of North Korea have been noisily prattling on about problems emerging during exchange rate fluctuations, but there is no social unrest of the kind they speak of.”
He explained that some instability had occurred because price controls and other measures had not immediately followed the revaluation, and that “markets did not open for a few days [after the currency reform],” acknowledging that preparations for the measures had been insufficient. He also explained that following the currency reform, North Korean authorities had taken steps such as reducing prices on some foods and slashing unproductive expenditures. The government also encouraged women to take up jobs in light industry and in the service sector, and repaired the transport system. In an effort to develop the economy in 2010, the North Korean government boosted the budgets for the light industrial sector by 10.1 percent, and that of agriculture by 9.4 percent. Professor Ri went on to say that authorities had reduced the price of a kilogram of rice from 40 won to 24 won, had lowered the price of eggs to 8 won, and had cut the prices on cooking oil and soap, as well. He added that this trend will continue for the near future. The currency revaluation, the first of its kind since 1992, was aimed primarily at increasing the value of the North’s money and harnessing inflation, but despite the reform, the government is still managing foreign exchange rates. While keeping exchange rates under control, Ri stated that authorities could still adjust the value of the won, depending on economic developments as well as other domestic and international conditions.” (Institute for Far Eastern Studies [Seoul], “DPRK Economist: Currency Reform Caused Instability,” April 20, 2010) Professor Ri Ki Song, Economic Institute of the Academy of Social Sciences, a DPRK think tank, said that “redenomination was intended to curb inflation, enhance currency values and create a favorable environment for economic management, and it was also aimed at stabilization and improvement of the people’s livelihood by supplying goods through a systematic national distribution system.” He said, “Price adjustments and other related measures were not implemented quickly enough, and there was a situation where [North Korea] could not open the market for several days.” But he took issue with “some Western reports that did not reflect what actually happened.” Ri noted that “In the early days immediately after the currency change, market prices were not fixed, so markets were closed for some days, but now all markets are open, and people are buying daily necessities in the markets.” (Kyodo, “North Korea’s Redenomination Was ‘Temporarily Unstable,’” April 18, 2010)


4/19/10:
Korea plans its second attempt to put its domestically made satellite into orbit, June 9 at its space center in Goheung, South Jeolla Province. The same type of Russian rocket as in the first failed attempt in August will be used in the upcoming launch. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1) is scheduled to take off between 16:30-18:40, if the weather conditions are good at the Naro Space Center, located 485 kilometers south of Seoul. (Kim Tong-hyung, “Korea Plans to Launch Space Rocket June 9,” Korea Times, April 19, 2010)

President Lee Myung-bak said yesterday that he believed North Korea should “gather its senses,” referring to its recent extravagant display of fireworks to celebrate the birthday of the country’s founder. “I heard that North Korea spent some 6 billion won to set off fireworks all night when its people are suffering,” Lee said during a meeting with members of a presidential advisory group on inter-Korean affairs in Cheong Wa Dae.
“Think how much corn they could have bought with that money. I believe North Korea should take the right path.” Lee also said that Pyongyang imported high-end cars and gave them as presents to senior government officials. “I have no intention to unite with North Korea by force or economic power,” Lee told the advisors based in North America.
“What is imperative is to help North Korean economy stand on its own and keep peace between the two countries. Unification will follow then.” Also yesterday, the president asked for political parties’ cooperation in the aftermath of the Cheonan disaster during a meeting with party leaders, six weeks ahead of the June 2 local elections. Rep. Lee Hoi-chang of the Liberty Forward Party, Rep. Chung Sye-kyun of the Democratic Party and Rep. Chung Mong-joon of the ruling Grand National Party were invited to the presidential office for a luncheon meeting with the president. “In addition to taking part in the probe, we asked them to sign the investigation report to help raise international credibility of the investigation,” Lee was quoted as saying by his spokesman Park Sun-kyoo. “It has been confirmed that it was caused by an external explosion and the investigators are now trying to collect possible fragments of a torpedo or a sea mine for scientific analysis.” The president said it would be clarified not long before whether North Korea was involved. Regarding possible reprehension of top military officials amid public criticism over the slow reporting and alleged attempts to obscure the salvage operation, Lee said he is considering the right timing. “I don’t think now is the right time to talk about reprimanding those who are responsible (for the slow response),” he said.
“We will look into when would be a good time in terms of national security and how we should go about it without damaging military morale.” The president also denied some opposition lawmakers’ claims that the government is trying to use the Cheonan case politically. “If I were to use the case politically, wouldn’t (the government) have said it seemed like North Korea did it from the beginning?” he said, according to Park. “We are trying to be very careful in finding the truth, so I hope the opposition parties understand that.” LFP leader Lee Hoi-chang suggested launching a governmental investigation into the “Kumyang 98” fishing boat that sank on April 2 while returning from a search for clues to the Cheonan disaster. Rep. Lee also called on the government to hold a funeral for the dead crew members of the Kumyang. The president said that it would be done. (Kim So-hyun, “Lee Says N.K. Should ‘Gather Senses,’” Korea Herald, April 20, 2010)


4/20/10:
Two North Korean agents sent to South Korea to assassinate Hwang Jang-yop, the highest-ranking official ever to defect from Pyongyang, have been arrested, intelligence and law enforcement authorities announced yesterday. According to the National Intelligence Service and prosecutors, Kim Yong-ho, 36, and Dong Myong-gwan, 36, have been arrested. Both men were majors of the North Korean Army’s reconnaissance bureau, the authorities said. The two agents were ordered in November by the bureau’s chief, Colonel General Kim Yong-chol, to assassinate Hwang, the former secretary of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party. According to the authorities, the agents were sent to China last December and received training. The men then smuggled themselves into Thailand posing as North Korean defectors with the intention of being arrested by Thai authorities. Kim was sent to the South in January this year and Dong the next month. “The Thai authorities send arrested North Korean defectors automatically to South Korea, and the two agents took advantage of the policy,” said a prosecution source. The covers of the two agents, however, were exposed during National Intelligence Service interviews upon their arrivals in the South. During follow-up interrogation, the two men confessed their mission to assassinate Hwang, prosecution sources said. Prosecution sources said the two men had attempted to kill themselves during interrogation. They are being watched around the clock to prevent suicide, the source said. (Lee Chul-jae and Ser Myo-ja, “North Korean Spies Caught,” JoongAng Ilbo, April 20, 2010)

Korea and the U.S. have agreed to delay Washington’s transfer of wartime operational command to Seoul that had been scheduled for April 2012, a high-ranking South Korean official said. The delay is likely to be announced at a strategic meeting of the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries as early as June in Seoul. “The White House finished its review of Korea’s request for the delay and decided to accept. Under such an agreement, the two countries are discussing detailed follow-up measures,” the official said. “I understand that unlike the White House, the U.S. Defense Department still opposes the delay.” The official added, “The two countries reached an agreement in principle, but discussions are necessary on details such as whether the agreed implementation plan for the transfer should be replaced with a new plan or the agreed plan will be postponed, and if so, how long. In addition, who will pay the additional costs of the delay should be also discussed.” (Dong-A Ilbo, “Korea, U.S. Agree to Delay Command Transfer,” April 21, 2010)


4/21/10:
DPRK Foreign Ministry memorandum on the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula: “[It] underscored the need to get a correct understanding of how nuclearization started on the peninsula and what was the root cause of it if a solution to the denuclearization of the peninsula is to be found with proper understanding of its essence. According to the memorandum, no nation in the world has been exposed to the nuclear threat so directly and for so long time as the Koreans. Koreans were the second biggest victims of the U.S. A-bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki next to Japanese as they directly suffered from them. … It worked hard to remove the U.S nuclear threat by means of establishing a nuclear-free zone through peaceful dialogue and negotiation at the first phase and made similar efforts on the strength of international law at the second phase. All these efforts, however, proved futile. The last and only option was to react to ‘nukes with nukes.’ The extreme nuclear threat of the U.S. persistently compelled the DPRK to have access to nukes. … Consistent is the stand of the DPRK government to build a lasting peace regime on the peninsula and denuclearize it, the memorandum says, and continues: The process of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula clarified in the September 19 Joint Statement adopted at the six-party talks in 2005 called for totally eliminating substantial nuclear threats posed to the peninsula from outside in a verifiable manner, thereby turning the whole Korean Peninsula into a nuclear-free zone on that basis. The denuclearization presupposes confidence-building. An earlier conclusion of a peace treaty on the Korean Peninsula still in the state of ceasefire would help build confidence needed for denuclearization as early as possible. The mission of the nuclear armed forces of the DPRK is to deter and repulse aggression and attack on the country and the nation till the nuclear weapons are eliminated from the peninsula and the rest of the world. The DPRK has invariably maintained the policy not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states or threaten them with nukes as long as they do not join nuclear weapons states in invading or attacking it. The DPRK has a willingness to join the international efforts for nuclear non-proliferation and on nuclear material security on an equal footing with other nuclear weapons states. It will manufacture nukes as much as it deems necessary but will neither participate in nuclear arms race nor produce them more than it feels necessary. It will join the international nuclear disarmament efforts with an equal stand with other nuclear weapons states. The DPRK will as ever make consistent efforts for the denuclearization of the world including the Korean Peninsula, regardless of whether the six-party talks are resumed or not.” (KCNA, “Foreign Ministry Issues Memorandum on N-Issue,” April 21, 2010) Full version of DPRK FM memorandum: “The construction of a nuclear-free world is mankind’s ardent wish that has been maintained from the 20th century to the 21st century. The denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is a part of global denuclearization. The Six-Party Talks have been held over the past years for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, but the talks are currently facing grave obstacles without producing results that are worth a mention. Along with the deep-seated distrust among the parties concerned, the main reason is because some countries participating in the talks are seriously distorting the essence of the issue for their sinister objectives. If the essence of the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula is to be precisely understood and if the way of its realization is to be correctly found, it is essential to correctly realize the initial circumstances and causes of the nuclearization of the Korean peninsula. 1. The Most Serious Nuclear Victim in the World Never has there been such a nation in the world as the Korean nation that has suffered nuclear threat most directly and for the longest period. For our people, nuclear threat is by no means an abstract concept but a realistic and concrete experience. Our nation is the one that directly sustained the damage caused in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States’ nuclear attacks, and it is the nation that suffered the most casualties there, only next to the Japanese. For the people that directly experienced the horrible catastrophes of atomic bombs, the atomic bomb blackmail that the United States wielded during the days of the Korean war was literally a nightmare. After US President Truman on 30 November 1950 openly mentioned the use of atomic bombs on the Korean front, an order was given on the same day to the US Strategic Air Command on “Maintaining a standby status to fly bombers to immediately drop atomic bombs in the Far East.” In December of the same year, [Douglas] MacArthur, Commander of the US Forces Far East, let loose an outburst, “A radioactive corridor will be created from the East Sea [Sea of Japan] to the West Sea [Yellow Sea] of the northern region of Korea. In this region living things will not be able to resurrect over the next 60 years or 120 years.” Because of the United States’ nuclear blackmail, the rows of “atomic bomb refugees” were created to flow from north to south of the Korean peninsula during the war. When entire family members were unable to leave together, many families forced their husbands or sons to evacuate to the South with only the desire to maintain their family bloodlines. Millions of the “separated families” created through this course are still living divided in the North and the South of the Korean peninsula.The United States is the ringleader who was the first to bring nuclear weapons into the Korean peninsula. When the retention of the pro-US regime was jeopardized, as the anti-nuclear campaign was escalating in Japan in the late 1950s, the United States moved the nuclear weapons deployed in Japan to South Korea. In 1957, the United States’ first strategic nuclear weapons were brought from Japan into South Korea and deployed there. In the end, the United States nuclearized the Korean peninsula in place of the “denuclearization” of Japan. The United States’ deployment of nuclear weapons in South Korea constantly built up, and the number of nuclear weapons reached over approximately 1,000 in the mid 1970s. From the late 1960s, the United States began to stage joint military exercises to actually use the nuclear weapons deployed in South Korea in a war of aggression against our Republic. The US-South Korea joint nuclear war exercise — which began with the “Focus Retina” operations in 1969 — has ceaselessly continued every year since then for such a long, long period of 40-odd years, while its name being changed to “Freedom Bolt,” “Team Spirit,” “Reception, Staging, Onward Movement, and Integration [RSOI],” “Key Resolve,” “Foal Eagle,” and “Ulchi Freedom Guardian,” and the like. It is precisely a stark nuclear reality of the Korean peninsula that even the post-war generations have grown in this way while inhaling nuclear powder odor as the targets of the US nuclear weapons that are deployed in South Korea for a real war. 2. The Effort That the Government of the Republic Has Made To Remove US Nuclear Threat The DPRK’s effort aimed at removing the United States’ nuclear threat has been made in three stages. In the first stage, the government of the Republic made an effort to remove the United States’ nuclear threat by the method of creating a denuclearized zone through peaceful dialogue and negotiations. In 1959, it [government of the Republic] proposed to establish an atomic bomb-free peace zone in Asia; in 1981, it put forth a proposal for the establishment of a denuclearized zone in Northeast Asia; and in 1986, it proposed to turn the Korean peninsula into a non-nuclear-weapon region and made an active effort for its implementation. On 10 January 1984, it proposed the convening of three-party talks — the talks in which the South Korean authorities, too, would participate in the DPRK-US talks to be held to remove the danger of a nuclear war; and in a government statement released on 23 June 1986 it solemnly declared that it would not test, produce, store, or introduce nuclear weapons, would not allow any military bases, including foreign nuclear bases, and would not allow the transit of foreign nuclear weapons via its territorial land, territorial airspace, and territorial waters. Nevertheless, the United States has escalated the nuclear threat to us while ignoring all our efforts exerted to create a non-nuclear-weapon region in the Korean peninsula. In the second stage, the government of the Republic combined efforts to remove the United States’ nuclear threat based on international law. In 1978, the depositary states of the NPT — the United States, the former Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom — issued, though conditional, a “non-use of nuclear weapons” statement [stating] that they would not use nuclear weapons against the non-nuclear-weapon states that joined the treaty. The DPRK joined the treaty in December 1985 with a hope that this would help the removal of the United States’ nuclear threat to us. When the United States made a pledge that it would discontinue the “Team Spirit” nuclear war exercise, we, based on the relevant NPT clause, actively helped the aperiodic inspections that the IAEA conducted six times during the period of May 1992 through February 1993. Nevertheless, the United States, by instigating the sinister forces in the agency while talking about the so-called “suspicion about nuclear development,” fabricated a “resolution for special inspection” targeting not only our nuclear facilities but even our sensitive military targets, even before the completion of the agency’s aperiodic inspections based on the safeguard agreement. Since then, the brigandish nature of such a mandatory inspection was completely laid bare through the Iraqi situation. Under the pretext of inspection, the United States combed even the Iraqi Presidential Palace and concocted the “intelligence” that there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in order to use it as an excuse to carry out military strikes. Later on, it was revealed to the whole world that the “intelligence” that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction was a groundless fabrication, but it was too late; it was already after the country collapsed, and the nation had become submerged in a sea of blood. In order to impose a “special inspection” on us, the United States blatantly perpetrated nuclear threat by even resuming the “Team Spirit” joint military exercise that it already suspended. After all, it was impossible to stop the United States’ high-handedness even with the international treaty, and it had become clear that the treaty was actually being abused as a tool to justify the United States’ coercion. Based on Article 10 of the NPT, the DPRK on 12 March 1993 declared its withdrawal from the NPT for the defense of the country’s sovereignty and security and informed the depository states of the fact. Then, when the United States responded for DPRK-US talks, it [DPRK] took measures to unilaterally and temporarily suspend the effectuation of its withdrawal from the NPT — through the DPRK-US joint statement on 11 June 1993 — while DPRK-US talks were underway. On 21 October 1994 during the Clinton administration, the “DPRK-US Agreed Framework” was adopted to resolve the nuclear issue of the Korean peninsula, but the United States unilaterally scrapped it when the Bush administration was inaugurated. In the “State of the Union Address” on 30 January 2002, the Bush administration even called us part of an “axis of evil.” The harboring of such hostility toward a country by the world’s largest nuclear power state means the greatest nuclear threat to that country. In particular, when the United States announced in March in that year the “Nuclear Posture Review [NPR],” which included us in the “targets for preemptive nuclear strikes,” the security of our country and nation was placed in extremely grave jeopardy of nuclear catastrophes. It had become clear that the effort made through dialogue and the effort exerted based on international law all ended up in smoke. The unique situation on the Korean peninsula, which could be found nowhere else in the world, required a special measure for a solution. The only and last option was to counter “nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons.” With the most serious nuclear threat, the United States was persistently compelling us to possess nuclear weapons. On 10 January 2003, the government of the Republic took a resolute, self-defensive measure of completely withdrawing from the NPT by bringing into effect the withdrawal from it, which it had suspended for 10 years. After delivering itself from the treaty, it [the government of the Republic] turned in the direction of legally and stately weaponizing the entire amount of the plutonium produced in the course of producing electricity from a pilot atomic power plant. It conducted the first nuclear test in October 2006, three years after its withdrawal from the treaty, and the second nuclear test in May 2009. By this, the state of nuclear imbalance in Northeast Asia where nuclear weapons and nuclear umbrellas were packed and where only the DPRK remained as a nuclear vacuum zone was brought to an end. By the deterrence effect provided by the Republic’s possession of nuclear weapons, the danger of the outbreak of a war has noticeably reduced. This is precisely the effort made on the current stage to remove the nuclear threat not through pleas only in words but by deterring the United States’ nuclear weapons with our nuclear weapons. 3. DPRK’s Nuclear Policy The position of the government of the Republic to establish a solid peace regime on the Korean peninsula and achieve denuclearization there remains unchanged. The denuclearization of the Korean peninsula — which was pointed out in the 19 September Joint Statement that the Six-Party Talks adopted and announced in 2005 — is the course of turning the entire Korean peninsula into a nuclear-free zone by completely removing in a verifiable manner the existing nuclear threat from outside to the Korean peninsula. Realizing denuclearization requires confidence-building. On the Korean peninsula, which is still in a state of the ceasefire, the sooner a peace agreement is concluded, the quicker the confidence necessary for denuclearization will be built. The mission of the nuclear forces of the DPRK is to deter and repel aggression and attack against the country and the nation until the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and the world is realized. The DPRK is invariably maintaining the policy not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states or threaten them with nuclear weapons as long as they do not join the act of invading or attacking us in conspiracy with nuclear weapons states. We are ready to join the international efforts for nuclear non-proliferation and for the safe management of nuclear materials on an equal footing with other nuclear weapons states. We will produce as many nuclear weapons as we need but will neither join the nuclear arms race nor produce more nuclear weapons than is necessary, and we will join the international efforts for nuclear disarmament on an equal footing with other nuclear weapons states. Regardless of whether the Six-Party Talks are resumed or not, the DPRK, as in the past, will continue to make a consistent effort in the future as well for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and in the rest of the world.” (KCNA, “Memorandum of the DPRK Ministry of Foreign Affairs — The Korean Peninsula and Nuclear Weapons,” April 21, 2010) [FM response to Nuclear Posture Review, including paraphrases of some of its language]

President Lee Myung-bak gave a sharp slap to North Korea in an unusually candid remark yesterday. “I believe North Korea should sober up,” Lee said in his meeting with National Unification Advisory Council members at the Blue House. “The North Korean people are suffering hardships, but the authorities spent 6 billion won for fireworks to celebrate the birthday [of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung]. Think about how much corn the country could buy with that money.” Lee also criticized the North Korean leadership for “importing luxurious vehicles and providing them as gifts to [senior leaders].” The president said he has no intention to unite the two Koreas with force or economic power. “What’s more urgent than unification is making North Korea become economically independent,” he said. “It’s more important that the two Koreas maintain peace. Then [unification] will come.” (Ser Myo-ja, “Lee Tells North, ‘Sober up,’” JoongAng Ilbo, April 21, 2010)

South Korea will not ask the United States to redeploy nuclear weapons on the peninsula despite North Korea’s tactics to become a nuclear state. “That will never be an option to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions,” Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Yu Myung-hwan said at a forum in Seoul. Redeployment of nuclear weapons should be carried out within the framework of global security and in that regard, policy coordination with the United States as part of its global nuclear strategy is crucial, he said. “President Barack Obama has pledged to work toward a ‘world free of nuclear weapons,’” he said. “We should press North Korea by using international politics.” (Jung Sung-ki, “Seoul Won’t Ask U.S. to Redeploy Nukes,” Korea Times, April 21, 2010)


4/22/10:
Breaking nearly a month of silence, China this week called the sinking of the Cheonan “a tragedy” and hoped for a thorough investigation. China’s FoMin spokeswoman Jiang Yu on April 20 called the incident “a tragedy” and said China had already sent condolences through bilateral channels. “We take note that [South Korea] plans to carry out scientific and objective investigation and believe the issue will be properly handled,” Jiang said, according to the English-language transcript posted on the ministry’s Web site. Zhang Xinsen, Chinese ambassador to Seoul, met with South Korean journalists on April 22 for the first time since he arrived in late March. He sent condolences to the victims’ families and called the sinking “an unfortunate incident.” Zhang evaded a question about what China would do if North Korea is found responsible. “I understand South Korea is cooperating with other countries in carrying out the probe,” the ambassador said. “It’s China’s hope that this matter will be handled properly. The stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula also corresponds to the interests of other [neighboring] countries.” China took time to comment on the incident because of its ties to North Korea, analysts said, which is suspected in South Korea of having attacked the Cheonan. There was public disgruntlement in Korea over China’s silence, compared to quick condolences from the United States and Japan. “China used a neutral term like ‘unfortunate incident’ but they could’ve expressed the sentiment much earlier,” a diplomatic source said yesterday. “China was too conscious of North Korea and probably erred on the side of caution.” Hours before Jiang made her comments, South Korean FM Yu Myung-hwan was asked about China’s silence during his monthly press conference. Yu said China had sent condolences through diplomatic channels and he believed China was being extra careful “because this wasn’t an ordinary event and it involved a warship.” Both Zhang and Jiang called for “proper” handling of the investigation. Another source interpreted the comments as suggesting that Seoul shouldn’t accuse North Korea of an attack before obtaining convincing evidence or take “improper” steps such as military action. Discussing inter-Korean relations, Zhang said both Koreas are friendly to China and that China supports inter-Korean dialogue for the sake of stability and peace on the peninsula. When asked if China would still support dialogue if North Korea turns out to be responsible for the Cheonan sinking, Zhang said, “That’s not an accurate interpretation. I am trying to make a point that no diplomatic achievement would be possible without exhaustive negotiations and communication.” (Yoo Jee-ho and Kang Chan-ho, “After Delay, China Calls Cheonan a ‘Tragedy,’” JoongAng Ilbo, April 23, 2010)


4/23/10:
North Korea said Friday it will seize five South Korean facilities at a mountain resort on its soil, and will either take over ownership itself or turn them over to a new tourism business partner.The North also said all other South Korean assets at Mount Kumgang will be frozen and that all South Korean employees at the resort will be deported. The measures were seen as aimed at pressuring Seoul to resume the suspended mountain tour program that had been a source of foreign currency for Pyongyang. Seoul quickly rejected the move, calling it a violation of contracts between the two Koreas. “We cannot accept the measures as they are in violation of contracts between North Korea and our businesses, agreements between the governments and of international laws. It is an unjust step that undermines the very foundation of South-North relations,” an official at Seoul’s unification ministry told reporters. The North’s move comes at the end of a two-day inspection by North Korean military officials of the mountain resort, where dozens of South Korean businesses and private investors own various facilities that are part of the suspended tourism program.The five facilities to be seized include a family reunion center, funded and owned by Seoul’s National Red Cross, as well as a fire station and a duty free shop. Pyongyang froze the assets on April 13 after an on-site inspection by its officials late last month. The latest inspection ended today. “First, we will confiscate all five assets of the South Korean authorities that have already been frozen in compensation for our loss due to the long suspension of the tour,” an unidentified spokesman for the General Guidance Bureau for the Development of Scenic Spots said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency. (Yonhap, “N. Korea to Seize Frozen S. Korean Assets at Mount Kumgang,” April 23, 2010)

The Japanese government indicated today that it would broadly accept a plan to relocate a U.S. Marine Corps base on Okinawa, a move that could ease months of discord between the two allies, U.S. and Japanese officials said. FM Okada Katsuya presented U.S. Ambassador John V. Roos with a proposal to settle the dispute, telling him that Japan was moving toward accepting significant parts of a 2006 deal to move the Futenma air station from the center of a city of 92,000 to a less populated part of Okinawa, the sources said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. Okada, however, suggested some changes, including altering the design of the runway at the new air station, planned for the town of Henoko, and moving parts of the Marine Corps facility to an island about 100 miles from Okinawa, the sources said. U.S. officials said they were pleased by the proposal but stressed that it was a first step and that Japanese officials would be providing more details next week. The meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo marked the first significant good news in a relationship that has been marked by strain, mistrust and befuddlement on both sides ever since a new Japanese government took charge in September after a historic election — only the second time since the 1950s that an opposition party has taken power. (John Pomfret, “Japan Moves to Settle Dispute with U.S. over Okinawa Base Relocation,” Washington Post, April 24, 2010, p. A-1)

Scott Snyder: Given the strategic value of access to Rajin-Sonbong port facilities for China’s booming northeastern provinces, it would be natural for China to seek maritime access to the East Sea/Sea of Japan regardless of the UN resolution—or perhaps as part of a package of inducements designed to bring North Korea back to the Six Party Talks. South Korean experts indicate that about half of North Korea’s total foreign trade in 2008 was with China, of which about 76 percent was with the three northeast provinces (Korea Times, November 25, 2009). According to Jilin provincial leaders, North Korea was Jilin’s fourth biggest trade partner in 2008, when the Jilin-North Korea trade volume of $770 million accounted for 28 percent of China-DPRK trade (South China Morning Post, November 17, 2009). Official statistics show that Jilin’s GDP grew an annual 13 percent to 720.3 billion RMB in 2009 despite the crisis, with a 16 percent increase in foreign investment and growth in foreign trade to $11.75 billion (China Daily, February 12). China now has its own capital to invest in the port, in contrast to the situation in the 1990s. North Korea’s financial distress provides an opportunity for China to gain strategic access at bargain prices. North Korea has once again tried to involve Russia in a competition with China for access to the port by pursuing deals with both sides simultaneously. In addition, North Korea’s offer of such a prize, if successful, provides an opportunity to evade the negative effects of the UN Security Council resolution on the North Korean economy. UN sanctions constitute a potential new obstacle to North Korea’s trade in specific illicit items, and the half-dozen interdictions that have occurred under the resolution have diminished the reliability of North Korean supply for potential buyers of such exports from North Korea. Kim Jong Il’s visit and a recent confirmation of a deal with North Korea by Jilin provincial authorities suggests that trade and investment in Rajin-Sonbong is a priority of the central government in Pyongyang. The emergence of the North Korean Taepung Investment Group (with apparent state backing but posing as a private entity) would be a natural interlocutor with Chinese state-owned enterprises, and the establishment of a North Korean State Development Bank, further suggest that Rajin’s opening to trade and investment is being driven by DPRK central government authorities who naturally would seek involvement with central-level counterparts in China (Chosun Ilbo [South Korea], March 3). Initially established in Hong Kong in 2006, Taepung was reportedly involved in joint deals in 2007 with China’s state-owned Tangshan Iron and Steel and Datang Power, which is directly managed by the CPC Central Committee, to build plants in North Korea’s Kimchaek Industrial District (NK Brief No. 10-01-22-1, January 22). The Chuangli Company is reported as the Chinese company that has contracted to develop Rajin’s port number one, reportedly for a period of only ten years, while Russian investors have been offered a fifty-year deal to develop the second of Rajin’s five berths. In the future, the Rajin port can become a logistics hub for northeastern China through which initial plans are to export Chinese coal to Southeast Asia and Japan (Global Times Online, March 10). During Kim’s December visit to the Rason Daeheung Trade Company, he reportedly stressed the importance of export growth. The Korean Central News Agency reported Kim as saying that “it is very important to abide by the principle of the credit-first policy in foreign trade” and that Kim urged workers to observe, “export discipline and improve the quality of goods” (Yonhap News Agency [South Korea], December 24, 2009). Early this year, the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly designated Rason as a “special city,” reaffirming the central government’s direct interest in Rajin-Sonbong’s economic potential (The Daily NK [South Korea], January 6). Rajin’s provincial leadership has been replaced by a team led by former Minister for Foreign Trade Rim Kyung-man, signaling the central government’s interest in successful management of the port (Chosun Ilbo; March 9). No doubt, the appointment also reflects high expectations regarding the level of capital that can be extracted by opening the port to foreign investment. How the PRC central government handles Rajin-Sonbong may provide additional needed leverage to drive a financially hurting regime back to the negotiating table, or it may provide the North Koreans with a lifeline that sustains the leadership and provides it with the capacity to avoid necessary reforms. Given that many Chinese private firms recognize the risks of investing in North Korea under the current regime, a central government decision to invest in the Rajin-Sonbong is likely to be aimed more at perpetuating the status quo than at achieving the regime transformation necessary to promote North Korea’s economic integration into the region. (Scott Snyder, “Rajin-Sonbong: A Strategic Choice for China in Its Relations with Pyongyang,” NAPSnet, April 23, 2010)


4/24/10:
Two former presidents yesterday added their voices to the chorus of suspicion of North Korean involvement in the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan, as Kim Young-sam and Chun Doo Hwan talked to President Lee Myung-bak about their experience of armed provocations from Pyongyang. The former leaders urged Lee to take stern countermeasures if the North is proved to be behind the disaster, and to seek Beijing’s cooperation, the Blue House reported. (Ser Myo-ja, “3 Presidents Mull National Security,” JoongAng Ilbo, April 24, 2010)


4/25/10:
North Korea and China are making final arrangements for a visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to China from late April to early May, diplomatic sources said. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas plans to hold talks with Kim in China when Abbas visits the country on April 30, the sources said. Abbas plans to attend the opening ceremony of the World Expo in Shanghai that day. If Abbas were to be able to meet Kim in Beijing, Kim’s visit to China would have to be around this time. A source familiar with North Korean affairs said Kim’s third son and possible heir Kim Jong-un may accompany the leader to China. A delegation of the Workers’ Party of Korea arrived in Beijing on Thursday, received by the Chinese Communist Party’s International Department. (Kyodo, “N. Korea’s Kim Likely to Visit China from Late April to Early May,” April 24, 2010)

KCNA: “General Secretary Kim Jong Il visited the command of KPA Unit 586 and congratulated servicepersons there on the occasion of the 78th birthday of the KPA. … He was accompanied by KPA Vice Marshal Kim Yong Chun, vice-chairman of the NDC of the DPRK and minister of the People’s Armed Forces, KPA General Ri Yong Ho, chief of the General Staff of the KPA, KPA General Kim Jong Gak, member of the NDC of the DPRK and first vice director of the General Political Bureau of the KPA, and other commanding officers of the army.” (KCNA, “Kim Jong-il Pays Congratulatory Visit to KPA,” April 25, 2010)

Kim Jong-il visited a naval base in Nampo on November 10, immediately after his country lost a skirmish near Daecheong Island, and called for “modernization of warfare strategy and equipment” to “regain strength at sea.” Kim is quoted as making the remarks by North Korean naval officer Kim Kwang-il of a naval unit identified only by the number 587 in a documentary by the North’s official Korean Central Television celebrating the People’s Army’s anniversary on April 25, 2010. KCNA, 17 days after the skirmish, reported that Kim visited Unit 587 along with other senior officials including Minister of the People’s Armed Forces Kim Yong-chun, the first vice-director of the People’s Army’s General Political Department, Kim Jong-gak, and Ri Yong-ho, the chief of the Army’s General Staff. “Kim Jong-il proposed tasks to strengthen naval power,” it said but did not elaborate. (Chosun Ilbo, “Kim Jong-il Called for Stronger Navy after Defeat in Skirmish,” May 6, 2010) Following North Korea’s crushing defeat by the South in last year’s skirmish in the Yellow Sea, Kim Jong-il, directed its navy to intensify training “to raise heroes for do-or-die squads at sea,” North Korea’s media reported May 4, 2010. “Do the comrades know why I visit this unit frequently?” the navy officer quoted Kim Jong-il as saying after he observed a training session. “It’s because I trust you the most.” “The supreme commander visited our unit at dawn and boarded a naval vessel” Kim Kwang-il said. “He also instructed us to upgrade the warships’ weapons systems and combat technologies to meet the needs of modern-day warfare.” (Lee Young-jong and Ser Myo-ja, “Fleet Officer Says Kim Intensified Navy Training after Nov. 10 Defeat,” JoongAng Ilbo, May 6, 2010)


4/26/10:
“Some of the recent dialogue between U.S. and Japan and some of the proposals that we are now looking at are encouraging,” Asst SecState Kurt Campbell told Kyodo on the eve of a two-day visit to Japan. PM Hatoyama said the government is focusing on alleviation of the burden of hosting U.S. military forces and the removal of safety risks posted by the Futenma base in order to settle the dispute by his self-imposed deadline of the end of May. Campbell, who was in Hong Kong for a conference, said the United States and Japan are discussing ”relocating substantial elements of U.S. forces out of highly and densely populated areas, moving some capacities out of Okinawa and also further steps towards easing noise and other operational issues.” Yesterday, about 90,000 local residents and politicians, including Okinawa Gov. Nakaima Hirokazu, gathered in Yomitan to call for the relocation of the Futenma base outside the prefecture, which hosts the bulk of U.S. forces in Japan. (Kyodo, “Campbell Calls Japan Proposals on Futenma Relocation ‘Encouraging,’” April 26, 2010)


4/27/10:
North Korea began freezing privately owned South Korean assets at a joint mountain resort on Tuesday as planned, officials here said, a move certain to press Seoul to consider harsh retaliation. Sheets denoting “freeze” were plastered on shops inside four buildings at the Mount Kumgang resort on the east while South Koreans who used to run them looked on, Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-joo said. “The work ended in a little more than an hour,” she told reporters, adding the freeze affected 25 companies that ran a restaurant, a karaoke bar, a souvenir shop and others. She added adding North Korea plans to freeze more South Korean assets, including hotels and a golf course, over the next few days. (Sam Kim, “N. Korea Begins Freezing S. Korean Assets at Joint Mountain Resort,” April 27, 2010)


4/28/10:
DoS Briefing: “Q: Some State Department official said they – it will suspend efforts to get the North Korean back to the Six-Party Talks pending the result of South Korean sinking navy ships. Is that the position – the State Department position on Six-Party Talks currently? CROWLEY: Well, I wouldn’t necessarily link those directly. The investigation on the ship sinking continues. As we’ve said from this podium and elsewhere, we’ll be – we’ll draw conclusions once we understand what the investigation discovers. We want to see North Korea come back to the Six-Party process. We’re committed to this with our partners. But clearly, provocative actions that North Korea takes has an impact on the broader environment. So I wouldn’t predict anything going forward. Let’s – on the investigation itself, let’s find out and conclude what is responsible for the sinking of the ship, and we’ll draw implications from that. Q: The military officials – U.S. military officials are saying that it was not an internal explosion; that it was an external explosion that caused the sub to sink. I’m sorry, that caused the South Korean ship to sink. So now that they know it’s not a boiler, there was obviously some kind of explosive device that – I guess what I don’t understand is what’s taken so long to determine that there was some sort of offensive action here that sunk the ship? CROWLEY: Well, I mean, I’m not aware that the investigation has arrived at the destination that you described. But for argument’s sake, if it was an external explosion, what was it and where did it come from? Again, these are all things that have to be investigated, and once we understand more about what actually happened, we’ll draw the appropriate conclusions. Q: Is anybody thinking of any foul play or any kind of terrorism? CROWLEY: That’s all part of the investigation. Ships don’t normally sink of their own accord; they can occasionally. But that’s one of the reasons why we are supporting the South Korean effort. The ship has been raised and we should be able to answer these questions in time.” (Assistant Secretary Philip J. Crowley, DoS Daily Press Briefing, April 28, 2010)


4/28/10:
South Korea will engage in prior consultations with China and Russia in referring last month’s deadly warship sinking to the United Nations, a ranking official here said, as North Korea increasingly became a suspect in the naval disaster. Seoul will also inform the two countries, traditional allies of the North, of the results of its investigation into the sinking of Cheonan and seek their support in actions against those responsible, the official said. “There is a need to adequately brief China and Russia (before taking the issue to the U.N. Security Council) because, unlike the United States, the countries are not directly involved in the investigation and may have different security interests,” the official told reporters. China’s new ambassador Zhang Xinsen met with Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan. Following their official meeting, Yu and the Chinese diplomat held private talks unattended by others, during which the two are believed to have discussed sensitive issues such as the Cheonan tragedy. Russian ambassador Konstantin Vnukov met with Seoul’s chief nuclear envoy to North Korea denuclearization talks, Wi Sung-lac. An official said the two discussed the “investigation into the sinking of Cheonan and the measures that will follow.” Seoul has yet to find any definitive evidence, such as debris from a torpedo, believed to be a likely cause of the explosion, to prove North Korea’s involvement. But some say circumstantial evidence points to the communist regime. “The damaged ship itself is hard evidence,” the official said, implying that an external explosion suggests an attack. Both the stern and bow of the broken ship have been salvaged and are now under close examination by a joint investigation team, consisting of officials and experts from South Korea, the United States, Australia, Britain and Sweden. Photos and three-dimensional images of the ship’s wreckage will soon be sent to U.S. naval labs for thorough analysis, officials here said. (Byun Duk-kun, “Seoul Seeks Support of China, Russia to Refer Warship Sinking to U.N.,” Yonhap, April 28, 2010)

North Korea’s No. 2 leader has met with World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan. Chan arrived in Pyongyang on April 26, becoming the U.N. agency’s first chief to visit the communist country since 2001. KCNA said in a brief dispatch that Kim Yong Nam spoke with Chan at Pyongyang’s Mansudae Assembly Hall. Details of the conversation were not released. Chan and North Korean health officials yesterday held the formal inaugural ceremony for a medical videoconference network aimed at giving smaller, rural hospitals access to specialists in Pyongyang. WHO has been providing cameras, computers and other equipment to help North Korea launch the system. (Associated Press, “North Korea’s No. 2 Leader Meets WHO Chief Chan,” April 28, 2010)


4/29/10:
A visit by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to China slated to take place from late April to early May has been postponed, sources familiar with North Korea-China relations said. (Kyodo, “Kim Jong-il Visit to China Slated for Late April Postponed: Sources,” April 29, 2010)

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with her Chinese counterpart about the efforts to resume the stalled six-party talks on North Korea’s denuclearization, amid speculation of the North’s involvement in the sinking of a South Korean Navy vessel. During a “lengthy” phone conversation, Clinton and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo discussed issues regarding North Korea as well as Iran, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters. The two “talked about our ongoing engagement regarding a new U.N. Security Council resolution on Iran, and they also discussed mutual efforts to get North Korea back to the six-party process,” Crowley said. (Kim Young-jin, “U.S., China FMs Discuss N. Korea,” Korea Times, April 30, 2010)

Pyongyang ordered most personnel at South Korean facilities in the Mt. Kumgang resort. According to a Ministry of Unification spokesman, a senior North Korean tourism official told Hyundai Asan, the South Korean operator of the cross border tours, that 64 of the 80 personnel working at the facilities must leave no later than 10 a.m. May 3.
Twelve workers from Hyundai Asan and four from a golf course operator will be allowed to stay, reportedly as a means to maintain channels of communication. (Kim Young-jin, “N.K. Expels Most Workers from Mt. Kumgang,” Korea Times, April 30, 2010)

Tomorrow, President Lee Myung-bak will travel to China under growing pressure at home to make the case for crucial Chinese support for tough international sanctions against North Korea if, as is widely expected, the North is found responsible for the sinking of a South Korean ship. But he is unlikely to win that support, experts say, a reflection of China’s growing role in the Korean Peninsula. Since taking office in 2008, Lee has wound down his predecessors’ “sunshine policy” of aid and engagement with the North, heightening Chinese fears of instability and driving the North into China’s economic embrace. Ultimately, that could give Beijing greater leverage in determining the fate of the northern half of the Korean Peninsula, a situation that many South Koreans would consider to be a nightmare. “China’s influence has become so important that we can almost say that it can now claim the first and last piece of the apple on the Korean Peninsula,” said Lee Byong-chul, a senior fellow at the Institute for Peace and Cooperation in Seoul, using a Korean saying to suggest that China can have whatever it wants. Even conservatives, who have usually opposed aid to the North, warn of North Korea’s becoming a “Chinese colony” whenever reports circulate of Chinese companies taking over North Korean ports and mines at bargain prices. Those fears are undoubtedly overblown, but they contain a kernel of truth, experts say. South Korea’s concern “about China’s rising dominance over North Korea in economic terms is well founded,” said John Delury, associate director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society in New York. “However, I think it’s the result of Lee Myung-bak’s decision to let the sunshine policy unravel, rather than a strategic plot by China to ‘colonize’ North Korea economically.” China, which supplies an estimated 70 percent of North Korea’s trade, is the one country that can provide the necessary economic pressure to push the isolated North to the brink of collapse — or, as Washington, Seoul and Tokyo hope, press it to agree to concessions over its nuclear weapons program. But Beijing is always going to be wary of stronger sanctions. It fears an implosion in North Korea that could release a flood of refugees across its border or put it under pressure to intervene militarily should South Korea and the United States move into the North to seize its nuclear arsenal and build a Western-leaning, unified Korea on China’s border. Its paramount concern regarding North Korea is to preserve stability, more than to punish it for truculent behavior or persuade it to give up its nuclear weapons. “China is more interested in maintaining the status quo and avoiding instability, and believes that more trade will help to keep things from falling apart in North Korea,” said David Straub, a North Korea specialist at the Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford who was formerly a senior State Department official who specialized in Northeast Asian affairs. Jin Jingyi, a Chinese specialist on Korean affairs at Peking University , said that the sinking of the South Korean ship had highlighted the weakness of Lee’s position. “The fact that South Korea keeps talking about international cooperation with China and others shows that Lee Myung-bak has lost the initiative in inter-Korean relations,” Jin said. “China will be very cautious,” he continued. “It won’t think pressuring the North will help solve the problem.” China, which seeks to enhance stability and reduce economic risk in the region, would like to see better inter-Korean relations, experts say. “China would probably rather share the burden of economic engagement with the South, but if necessary, it will hold its ground as North Korea’s sole economic outlet,” said Delury. “The resource-hungry, stability-centric, sanctions-averse Chinese will continue filling the void left by the dismantling of inter-Korean cooperation. China, for its part, knows that the Koreans historically have never been pliant neighbors and that North Korea is an unreliable place to invest. China reportedly has complained to the North about its aid trains “disappearing” inside the North, apparently stolen and torn apart. “Despite their public rhetoric about the closeness of their ties, officials in both China and North Korea each tell even American officials how much they dislike the other,” said Straub. “North Korean officials have on numerous occasions suggested to American officials that it would be in the interests of our two countries to have a strategic relationship — to counter China.” (Choe Sang-hun, “China Gains Influence in Korean Affairs as North and South Warily Seek Its Help,” New York Times, April 29, 2010, p. A-8)

Public support for PM Hatoyama’s government fell below 30 percent for the first time since its launch last September to stand at 20.7 percent, a Kyodo telephone survey conducted yesterday and today found. The approval rate declined 12.3 percentage points from the previous survey conducted April 3 and 4. The disapproval rate rose 11.1 points to 64.4 percent. Hatoyama’s “lack of leadership” was mentioned by 40.7 percent — the largest segment — of the respondents who disapprove of his Cabinet. As many as 83.8 percent of the survey respondents said Ozawa should leave his post, up 2.4 points, while 10.3 percent said he should remain in the DPJ’s No. 2 position, down 4.2 points. As for the issue of relocating the U.S. Marines’ Futemma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture, 54.4 percent said Hatoyama should step down if he fails to settle the matter by the self-imposed end-of-May deadline, a 7.3-point increase from the previous survey, while 39.2 percent said there is no need for him to step down, down 6.1 points. The support rate for the DPJ was down 6.2 points to 24.1 percent, while it edged up 0.7 point to 18.7 percent for the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party. Your Party, which was formed by reformists before the general election held last August, saw public support rise above 10 percent for the first time at 11.5 percent, while 29.0 percent said they have no specific party to support. Support stood at 3.1 percent for the New Komeito party, 2.7 percent for the Japanese Communist Party, 1.6 percent each for the Social Democratic Party and Masuzoe’s Shinto Kaikaku, and 1.3 percent for the Sunrise Party of Japan. Asked who was best suited to prime minister, former Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Masuzoe Yoichi remained on top of the list. But support for him slipped from 22.4 percent to 18.3 percent in the first survey conducted after he left the LDP and announced the launch of a new party. Maehara Seiji, minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, surged into second with 10.6 percent. Maehara, who is in an anti-Ozawa group within the DPJ, had just 4.9 percent support in the previous poll. (Kyodo, “Approval for PM Hatoyama’s Cabinet Plunges to 20.7%: Kyodo Poll,” April 29, 2010)


4/30/10:
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Chinese President Hu Jintao had “serious discussions” on last month’s deadly sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan, which officials said laid the groundwork for cooperation for on a joint response to the tragedy as suspicions grow against North Korea. “The two leaders had serious discussions on the Cheonan incident,” Lee Dong-kwan, senior secretary for public affairs at Cheong Wa Dae, told reporters. “Today’s South Korea-China summit was the (fastening of the) first button for formal consultations (between the two sides on the matter).” Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Premier Wen Jiabao are scheduled to visit South Korea next month for separate meetings also involving Japan, he pointed out. The Chinese leader also noted South Korea’s “scientific and objective” investigation into the case that is still underway, the secretary added. The South Korean president told Hu that “all of South Korea’s 50 million people take the incident seriously,” briefing him on the results of a preliminary probe that indicate the 1,200-ton patrol ship was broken in half and sank from a “non-contact” explosion. The secretary said the president deliberately used the expression of “50 million people” to underscore the depth of the nation’s sadness and furor over the naval tragedy. Forty-six of the 104 sailors aboard the Cheonan were killed.
“President Lee promised to first inform China of the results of the investigation once it is completed and appealed for its interest and cooperation,” the secretary said. (Lee Chi-dong, “S. Korean, Chinese Leaders Open Consultations over Ship Sinking,” Yonhap, April 30, 2010) [Xinhua’s report made no mention of the Cheonan]

Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People’s Assembly, who is heading the delegation of the DPRK on a visit to China to participate in the opening ceremony of the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, met and had a talk with Hu Jintao, general-secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and president of the People’s Republic of China, in Shanghai. (KCNA, “Kim Yong-nam Meets Chinese President,” April 30, 2010)


5/1/10:
The United States agrees with Seoul’s move to take the sinking of a South Korean warship to the U.N. Security Council even if an ongoing investigation into the case does not provide any hard evidence proving who is responsible, an informed diplomatic source here said Sunday. “We want to show our support to our Korean allies and show to the international community that an action like this is not without consequence,” the foreign diplomatic source said. The source noted the joint investigation into the sinking may very well end with only “ambiguous” or circumstantial evidences, but said that will only make it harder, not impossible, to prosecute who is responsible.
“If it’s an ambiguous outcome, it makes it a more diplomatically and militarily difficult challenge … But the Security Council is not a U.S. code of law. It is not an ROK code of law. The security council makes political judgments.” The source also said the U.S., at least for now, will likely refuse to hold any dialogue with North Korea for the resumption of six-way negotiations aimed at denuclearizing the communist nation, though it continues to urge Pyongyang to recommit itself to its denuclearization efforts. “I think we need a little bit of a pause in efforts to restart the six-party talks.” The source said there are other measures South Korea and the U.S. will take in regard to the Cheonan tragedy. “The U.S. military, especially the navy, is prepared to work with the ROK navy to make sure their ships up there (near the border with North Korea in the Yellow Sea) don’t have such things happen to them.” (Byun Duk-kun, “U.S. Sees Need for U.N. Action on Sinking of S. Korean Warship,” Yonhap, May 2, 2010)


5/2/10:
Israeli President Shimon Peres is accusing North Korea of smuggling missiles to Iran. Peres says North Korea has become a “duty free for long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.” He says some of the weaponry flows to Iran and from there to militants in Lebanon and Syria, though he provided no proof. (Associated Press, “Peres Says North Korea Smuggling Arms to Iran,” May 2, 2010)

A next-generation missile interceptor being co-developed by Japan and the United States would not be able to take out U.S.-bound North Korean long-range ballistic missiles flying over Japan, senior Defense Ministry officials said. This is because the 200-300 kilometer range of the interceptor, dubbed the Standard Missile 3 Block 2A, would not allow an Aegis-equipped ship deployed off Japan to target high-flying missiles, the officials told Kyodo. The outlook could affect debate in Japan over whether to exercise the constitutionally banned right of collective self-defense so as to shoot down U.S.-bound missiles flying over the country. An advanced version of the SM-3, the SM-3 Block 2A, will have a longer range and higher targeting accuracy. The United States plans to begin deploying it in 2018. (Kyodo, “Planned Defense Seen Unable to Destroy U.S.-Bound N. Korean Missiles,” May 3, 2010)

A number of observers are saying that First Vice Foreign Minister Shin Kak-soo’s decision to summon Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Zhang Xinsen on May 3 to protest China’s acceptance of Kim’s visit essentially constitutes diplomatic interference. Diplomatic customs limit the ability of officials to summon an ambassador to issue strong protests over an issue pertaining to its own nation. Several factors appear to be at work in this exceptional “clash diplomacy” of the South Korean government. To begin, it appears the Lee Myung-bak administration, while firmly believing the warship Cheonan was sunk by the North Koreans, has taken China’s acceptance of the visit as a move to excuse North Korea’s role in the sinking. Many point out, however, that the Lee administration’s protests to the Chinese government without an official announcement that the sinking was committed by North Korea is illogical. Moreover, the North Korea-China relationship is a “third-party relationship” in which the South Korean government cannot interfere. A second factor behind the protest seems to be hurt feelings that Seoul was not informed ahead of time of Kim’s visit despite the fact that President Lee Myung-bak and Chinese President Hu Jintao held a summit during their attendance of the opening of the Shanghai Expo. A key Cheong Wa Dae (the presidential office in South Korea or Blue House) official did not hide his disquiet, but told reporters Tuesday in a straightforward manner that China did not mention anything to South Korea. Analysts are also saying, however, that the administration’s response is due to its ignorance of the special relationship between North Korea and China. The North Korea-China relationship is close to an alliance in blood, comparable to the South Korea-U.S. alliance. Moreover, the Chinese government has never informed a neighboring nation beforehand of an upcoming visit by Kim. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu stated during a regular briefing Tuesday that she had no new information to share, refusing to confirm Kim’s visit. Some are also viewing the Lee administration’s response as a rebirth of Cold War diplomacy. One expert in diplomacy said the Lee administration’s response is almost the first of its kind since the diplomacy of inter-Korean confrontation disappeared from the international stage with the Roh Tae-woo administration’s July 7 Declaration that professed an open policy towards socialist nations, including North Korea, and brought back feelings of the Cold War of the 1970s and 1980s. Another irregularity was the decision to open the first 10 minutes of the meeting Tuesday between Unification Minister Hyun In-taek and Chinese Ambassador Zhang to the media. Diplomatic practice during these meetings is to open the floor to the media for just the first two to three minutes, merely enough time for a normal report. Accordingly, a number of analysts are saying that Hyun’s decision to take a stance that seemed to pressure the Chinese government as he stressed the need for a “responsible role by China” as reporters looked on was an intentional statement made with the press in mind. Hyun also mistakenly referenced the “CheonanMUN satae” (“The Tienanmen Square Incident”) rather than then “CheonanHAM satae” (“The Warship Cheonan Incident”). This was an act of diplomatic discourtesy that is not light in its implications. Chinese embassy charge d’affaires Xing Haiming, who attended the meeting, straightly said the comment went too far, giving a glimpse of insight into the feelings of Chinese officials. Among diplomats in Beijing, there is criticism that the Lee Myung-bak administration is making ¡°strategic mistakes,¡± having been embarrassed by Kim’s visit just four days after it exaggerated for domestic political purposes Chinese President Hu Jintao comments about the Cheonan made April 30. At the time, the Cheong Wa Dae (the presidential office in South Korea or Blue House) promoted Hu’s comments, made during his meeting with President Lee, that expressed condolences for the sinking of the Cheonan and stressed the need for a scientific and transparent investigation as a virtual statement of support for the position faced by the South Korean government. The Chinese press, however, did give any coverage of Hu’s comments at the summit regarding the sinking of the Cheonan. This is being interpreted as reflecting a decision not to convey the appearance of siding with South Korea. On the other hand, the Chinese state-run media did report that Hu met the same day with Kim Yong Nam, president of the Presidium of North Korea’s Supreme People’s Assembly, and said the two would support each other and cooperate on the international stage. Experts say that South Korean diplomacy could isolate Seoul if it remains engrossed with connecting the sinking of the Cheonan with six-party talks. (Hankyore, “S. Korea-China Relationship on the Brink,” May 5, 2010)


5/3-6/10:
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is believed to have arrived in the Chinese port city of Dalian after crossing the border into China by train early this morning, sources in Seoul and Beijing said. “We have confirmed the arrival of a special train at Dandong, and we believe it is highly likely that Chairman Kim was on board,” an official in Seoul said, referring to the North Korean leader by his official title as the head of the National Defense Commission. A convoy of 15 limousines was later seen arriving at a hotel in Dalian, shortly after the North Korean train arrived. Traffic in the city was halted for nearly an hour until the convoy arrived at the hotel. South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan earlier said his country will oppose resuming the nuclear negotiations if the communist North is found to have been involved in the sinking of the 1,200-ton warship, Cheonan, because the North “must be made to pay for its actions.” (Sam Kim, “N. Korean Leader Believed to Be in China: Official,” Yonhap, May 3, 2010) Analysts say China is not expected to agree to increase economic or food aid without movement from North Korea on the stalled six-party talks, the on-and-off denuclearization negotiations that lost steam early last year. “Whenever North Korea is having troubles with other countries, it always plays the China card,” said Zhang Liangui, retired professor at the Institute of International Strategic Studies at the Party School of the Central Committee. “That makes the U.S. and South Korea nervous. But it will just as easily play the China card with the U.S. later on. This visit is nothing more than a diplomatic tactic, a kind of performance. It’s not really about the real issues on the table.” (Lauren Keane, “North Korea’s Kim Jong-il Arrives in China, amid Internal, External Tensions,” Washington Post, May 4, 2010, p. A-12) North Korean leader Kim Jong-il arrived in Beijing March 5, after making a stopover at the nearby port city of Tianjin. Video clips showed him dragging his left foot as he walked. His left arm appeared almost motionless. He also appeared to have lost weight and hair, suggesting to some experts the effects of kidney dialysis, which South Korean intelligence analysts say he has been undergoing for some time. Kim met with Chinese President Hu Jintao on the night of May 5 and with Premier Wen Jiabao on May 6, according to South Korea media. In Beijing, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told reporters May 6 that she had “no information which can be offered to you” on Kim’s whereabouts. Asked about the South Korean ship, the spokeswoman said “the visit of [North Korea’s] leader and the navy ship accident are two separate issues. It is a Chinese sovereign right to decide which country’s leaders are allowed to visit China.” (Blaine Harden, “Media Report Kim Jong-il’s Visit to Beijing: China Won’t Confirm,” Washington Post, May 6, 2010) According to Xinhua, Wen Jiabao told Kim Jong-il that “China, as always will support North Korean efforts to develop its economy and improve its people’s livelihood and is willing to introduce North Korea to the experience of China’s reform and opening-up and construction.” (Lee Kwangho, “Kim Jong-il’s Five-Day Trip to China,” Vantage Point, June 2010, p. 4) North Korean leader Kim Jong Il vowed in talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao this week in Beijing to “work with China to create favorable conditions for restarting the six-party talks” on his country’s nuclear programs, China’s Xinhua News Agency reported. Kim and Hu agreed in their meeting Wednesday that relevant parties in the six-party talks should “demonstrate sincerity and make positive efforts for pushing forward the talks,” which North Korea quit last year, Xinhua said. Kim told Hu that North Korea “remains unchanged in sticking to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula,” according to Xinhua. In a separate meeting, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao encouraged Kim to “make joint efforts to major cooperative efforts, quicken the infrastructure construction in border areas and explore new cooperative fields and methods,” the Chinese news agency said. Wen was quoted as telling him that China will support North Korea in developing its economy and is willing to share China’s experiences with reform and opening-up initiatives. Meanwhile, diplomatic sources said Kim, aboard a special train that left Beijing Station around 4:30 p.m. Thursday, stopped at Liaoning’s capital Shenyang on his way back to Pyongyang. (Kyodo, “Kim Vows to Create ‘Favorable Conditions” for Resuming Talks,” May 7, 2010) China urged Friday to separate the China tour of Kim Jong Il, top leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), from the sinking of a Republic of Korea (ROK) warship amid complaints about its alleged different treatment towards the two countries. Both the ROK and the DPRK are China’s important close neighbors, and to develop good-neighborly friendship with neighboring nations is China’s persistent policy, said FoMin spokeswoman Jiang Yu. Jiang made the remarks when answering a journalist’s question about the comment that China displayed partiality by welcoming Kim before the conclusion of the probe into the warship sinking, in which the DPRK was doubted by some to be involved. The DPRK has firmly denied its involvement. Jiang said Kim’s unofficial visit to China from May 3 to 7 was arranged long before, and the visit and the sinking of the corvette Cheonan were two separate events. “Before the complete fact is found, each side should keep calm and practise restraint, and be cautious on words and deeds,” Jiang said. (Xinhua, “China Urges Separation of Kim’s Visit, Warship Sinking amid ‘Partiality’ Criticism,” May 7, 2010) Top leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Il paid an unofficial visit to China from May 3 to 7, pledging his country is committed to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. The DPRK remains unchanged in sticking to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, Kim, general secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, told Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing. The two leaders agreed that the peace, stability, prosperity on the Peninsula is in line with the common interests of China, the DPRK and the Northeast Asian countries, and the two sides will make joint efforts for denuclearization on the Peninsula in accordance with the joint statement the six parties involved in the nuclear talks released on Sept. 19, 2005. Kim, also chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission, said the DPRK will work with China to create favorable conditions for restarting the six-party talks, which was launched in 2003 but hit a snag in April 2009 when Pyongyang pulled out of the talks in protest of the UN condemnation of its missile tests. (Xinhua, “Kim Visits China, Says NK Committed to Denuclearization,” May 7, 2010) At first glance, the North Korean report is no different than the version of China’s official Xinhua News Agency on Friday, but it makes no mention of Hu saying he wished to “bolster strategic communication about diplomatic matters and internal affairs” nor of Premier Wen Jiabao saying he wished to “introduce China’s experience in market-opening measures.” Instead, the North Korean media says that “each side agreed to inform the other side of the situation in their own countries” and “China explained its economic development model.” Xinhua reported that Hu proposed exchange of dialogue between senior officials, strategic communication about internal affairs and diplomatic issues, economic cooperation, sports and cultural exchange programs and cooperation for peace and stability in Northeast Asia. “The most important principle of Chinese politics is to stay out of the internal affairs of another country,” said Kim Heung-kyu, a North Korea expert at the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security. “Using terms such as strategic communication involving matters of internal concern is tantamount to saying it wants to intervene in North Korea’s government.” (Chosun Ilbo, “N. Korea Cleans up Chinese Statements about Kim Jong-il’s Visit,” May 10, 2010) China told North Korean leader Kim Jong-il during his recent visit that it will respect international sanctions imposed on Pyongyang and refused to provide extraordinary economic assistance, an informed source here told the JoongAng Ilbo. According to the source, the Chinese government’s position prompted Kim to cut short his stay in China. “At the luncheon between Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Kim on May 6, the Chinese government informed the North that China will not provide aid outside the framework of the United Nations Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang,” the source said. “After Beijing’s position was explained, Kim shortened his schedule in China.” Kim’s trip in China lasted from May 2 to 7. Although sources said Kim was to attend the North Korean Pibada Opera Company’s performance of “A Dream of Red Mansions” with Chinese leaders on the evening of May 6, he canceled at the last minute and rushed home. Asahi Shimbun also published a similar report on May 15, quoting a South Korean government official. “There is a possibility that China had raised the issues of Kim’s successor and policies of opening up the country and reform,” the source was quoted as saying by the newspaper. “Then, Kim could have felt discontent.” Observers here said Kim’s recent trip to China appeared to be a failure and North Korea must do more – internationally and domestically – to win China’s assistance. “At least, both the sides seem quite stymied, and the visit highlights a distinctive rift between Beijing and Pyongyang,” Zhu Feng, professor at the Peking University’s School of International Studies and deputy director of Center for International and Strategic Studies at the university, wrote recently for the Asia Security Initiative of the MacArthur Foundation. “Kim is very economically motivated to see the Chinese open their wallet,” he said. At the end of the day, he said, China didn’t defer to North Korea for the sake of it returning to six-party talks on the shutting of its nuclear weapons program. “Unfortunately, the standoff will continue,” he said. (Chang Se-jeong and Ser Myo-ja, “Beijing’s Rebuff Made Kim Cut Visit Short,” JoongAng Ilbo, May 16, 2010)

The Obama administration is seeking to calm allies’ nerves about North Korea and Iran’s nuclear program, suggesting that Pyongyang is on good behavior and that Tehran is making slower progress than expected. A White House official said that Pyongyang was refraining from provocative acts – in contrast with last year, when it carried out nuclear and missile tests – and that Iran was suffering technical problems. “At least for now, the North Koreans are on good behavior, although nobody can predict how long that will last,” the official said. He added that Iran’s “nuclear clock has slowed down . . . they are not making dramatic technical progress given the difficulties they are facing in their [uranium] enrichment program and the fact that their efforts to build secret facilities have been disclosed.” The remarks reflect Washington’s calculations that external pressures and domestic problems have constrained the North Korean program and that there is still time for sanctions to convince Iran to negotiate. But the Obama administration’s stance is not necessarily shared by Seoul – which is investigating whether the North sank a South Korean warship in March – or Israel, which depicts Iran’s nuclear program as an existential threat. The White House official suggested North Korea’s ambitions were being checked by factors such as Kim Jong-il’s efforts to pass on the leadership of the country to his youngest son and economic and financial difficulties. “They know that if they misbehave at this moment the Chinese may, if not cut them off, at least cut down on their largesse,” he added. The North Korean leader is currently on a visit to China, his first for four years. (Daniel Dombey and Christian Oliver, “Washington Urges Calm on Iran and North Korea,” Financial Times, May 5, 2010, p. 2)


5/6/10:
Investigators have found traces of gunpowder in the wreckage of a sunken South Korean naval ship, a government official said, further bolstering suspicions of a North Korean attack. “A tiny amount of gunpowder ingredient was detected in the Cheonan’s hull, and a detailed analysis is under way,” a government official said on condition of anonymity. “It will be determined within this week whether this is from a torpedo or not.” Along with four pieces of aluminum collected from the scene earlier, the gunpowder adds to possible evidence of a torpedo attack. Aluminum is a key element used in making torpedoes, and officials said the aluminum found appears to be different from the ship’s structure. The official said the aluminum pieces were also under examination to determine whether they came from a torpedo. The sinking was a key topic at today’s talks between South Korean and U.S defense officials. “The two sides agreed to maintain close policy coordination and cooperation to work out necessary security measures according to the result of an investigation in the future to prevent this kind of incident from happening again,” the defense ministry said in a statement. It did not elaborate what the “necessary security measures” would be. Michael Schiffer, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific security affairs, represented the U.S. in the session of the Security Policy Initiative (SPI), while the South’s chief delegate was Chang Kwang-il, deputy defense minister for policy. (Chang Jae-soon, “Gunpowder Detected in Sunken Ship Wreckage,” Yonhap, May 6, 2010) According to a government official in Seoul, who spoke to reporters on the condition of anonymity, the joint military and civilian investigation team has found traces of RDX, one of the most powerful military explosives. “RDX is used in torpedoes, not sea mines,” the official said. “The traces were found in the Cheonan’s chimney and the damaged side of the stern.” Investigators are trying to determine whether the alloy was made in Germany, China or Russia. “It’s possible that North Korea may have used a German torpedo to disguise its attack, knowing that South Korea uses German torpedoes,” the official said. In a related development, Kim Hong-kyun, director of the South Korean Foreign Ministry’s bureau of the peace regime on the Korean Peninsula, and Joseph Donovan, U.S. principal deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, met yesterday in Seoul. Their meeting was largely focused on the handling of the Cheonan case, a ministry official said. (Yoo Jee-ho, “Cheonan Probe Finds RDX, Alloy Used in Torpedoes,” JoongAng Ilbo, May 8, 2010)


5/10/10:
South Korea should develop a new strategy in dealing with North Korea, as evidence on the sinking of the Cheonan won’t change China’s engagement posture with the North, and the United States will also eventually want to move the stalled six-party nuclear talks forward, said a U.S. analyst on Korean affairs. Leon Sigal, director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council in New York, said while Washington stands by Seoul’s firm position of not taking part in the nuclear talks until it determines the cause for the sinking of the Cheonan, it doesn’t want its Asian ally to drag the disarmament negotiation process o n for an extended period.” As far as the six-party nuclear talks are concerned, I do not think the U.S. will change its mind in the immediate future,” Sigal said in an interview with the Korea Times. Yet he added that the U.S. cannot wait for “months,” either. Officials in Seoul have said they will not take part in the six-party talks until they determine the cause of the ship’s destruction. Now, with the revived hope for a resumption following Kim’s visit to China in which he told the Chinese he would be willing to provide “favorable conditions” for the negotiations to happen, South Korea is concerned that the other parties, including its ally the U.S., will engage Pyongyang and move forward on the talks, leaving the South behind. Seoul also wants to take Pyongyang to the U.N. Security Council if it is proven that the North was responsible for the sinking of the Cheonan. The preparation and the ensuing resolution at the U.N. are expected to take weeks or even months. Sigal, who advised the U.S. government on “strategy dealing with North Korea” by testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last year, said there were two critical conditions that would enable South Korea to achieve its goal. “One, the investigation has to find unambiguous evidence — unambiguous not in the minds of South Koreans but in the minds of Chinese and others. Secondly, the investigation cannot drag on forever. You cannot wait for months.” To persuade China, South Korea plans to provide “scientific and objective evidence” briefing it on the outcome of the investigation before it makes a public announcement. Sigal is pessimistic about this strategy. “There may be technical, forensic evidence in question, which is going to be very difficult to persuade China to act.” Yet more importantly, Sigal said, Beijing is ultimately predisposed not to add pressure on Pyongyang because doing so would go against China’s long-term strategy of engaging the North. “The premise of those who believe sanctions would work if China joins them is wrong because it’s not that country’s policy. It has never been a Chinese policy. And it won’t be affected by Cheonan, either,” he said. Sigal also said even if South Korea was successful in taking North Korea to the U.N. Security Council, any reaction there will be limited. “The U.N. isn’t going to say, ok you’re going to have a naval embargo or something like that. By the way, that’s the last thing you want to do, because by doing so, you will have more naval incidents in the West Sea and more dead bodies on both sides, not fewer,” Sigal said. If the U.N. metes out a lukewarm response, the U.S. will be in an awkward position of managing South Korea’s frustration, which might lead to a potential rift between the two allies. “If there is overreaction in South Korea, I think we could really get into trouble here,” Sigal said. He said punitive measures may satisfy Seoul’s longing to punish Pyongyang, but it may not change the latter’s behavior. “It will keep North Korea in a hole. Some people like that. But I think it’s not good for the long-term interest of South Korea or the United States. The South Korean government wants to show the North Koreans who’s tougher. This is the game South Korea is playing. The problem with that game is that it is the game of North Koreans. That’s what North Koreans are good at.” Sigal knows the mounting pressure the Lee administration faces ahead of the local elections. “I understand he has to appease the right wing sector with the elections coming up in June. So, he has to argue for punishment, but he should argue for a very limited punitive gesture.” For Lee to do so would be very unpopular in large portions of South Korea right now. “But it’s very important for South Koreans to think very hard about not just easing the situation, but think about how they got into it and how they can get out of it. I know what the South Korean government wants to do. But punishment isn’t going to solve it,” he said. (Sunny Lee, “’Evidence on Cheonan Won’t Change China’s Posture on N.K.,” Korea Times, May 11, 2010)

The head of South Korea’s new presidential commission on national security, Lee Sang-woo, said the government should delay the transfer of wartime operational control (OPCON) of the country’s troops from the U.S., scheduled for April 17, 2012. Although he said it is his personal view, his remarks add to repeated calls by conservatives here to renegotiate the date. “The OPCON should be transferred to us someday when we are capable of commanding a war independently. For now, however, it is right to delay the transition as (South Korea) is not ready yet partly because of the economic problem,” he told Yonhap. Lee has been appointed to lead the Commission for National Security Review, a 15-member ad hoc organization at Cheong Wa Dae composed of five civilian experts and 10 others with military backgrounds that was created after the March 26 sinking of a South Korean warship, tasked with reviewing South Korea’s defense posture and mapping out reform measures. (Yonhap, “Presidential Security Aide Says Delay in OPCON Transfer Necessary,” May 10, 2010)

A top U.S. official visiting Myanmar issued a strong warning against its military regime buying arms from North Korea in defiance of a U.N. embargo, and also said that Washington believes that its election plans lack legitimacy. Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asia, read a statement to the press as he prepared to leave Myanmar after holding nearly two hours of closed-door talks with detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party was disbanded last week as a result of its refusal to register for the polls, slated for sometime this year. Campbell earlier held talks with several Cabinet ministers. The U.S. envoy issued what appeared to be Washington’s strongest warning to date concerning Myanmar’s arms purchases from North Korea, which some analysts suspect includes nuclear technology. A U.N. Security Council resolution bans all North Korean arms exports, authorizes member states to inspect North Korean sea, air and land cargo and requires them to seize and destroy any goods transported in violation of the sanctions. Campbell said that Myanmar leadership had agree to abide by the U.N. resolution, but that “recent developments” called into question its commitment. He said he sought the junta’s agreement to “a transparent process to assure the international community that Burma is abiding by its international commitments.” Campbell said, “Without such a process, the United States maintains the right to take independent action within the relevant frameworks established by the international community.” He did not explain what the new developments were or what action the U.S. might take, though it has in the past threatened to stop and search ships carrying suspicious cargo from Pyongyang. (Associated Press, “U.S. Envoy Warns Myanmar over North Korea Arms Links,” May 10, 2010)


5/11/10:
The Ministry of National Defense announced it is considering a plan to resume psychological warfare against North Korea. This would include announcements to North Korea along the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) as a measure in response to the sinking of the Patrol Combat Corvette (PCC) Cheonan. Such broadcasts have been suspended since June 2004. There has been concern that if South Korea resumes loudspeaker broadcasts to North Korea, it could result in a seriously detrimental effect on inter-Korean relations as a whole. Defense Ministry spokesman Won Tae-jae said a working-level team was examining whether to restart psychological warfare against North Korea as part of research to cultivate various responses if the joint civilian-military investigation team looking into the sinking of the Cheonan finds that the ship was sunk by North Korea. He said the Defense Ministry plans to wait until the investigation results come out, and that nothing has yet been decided upon. Defense Minister Kim Tae-young reportedly directed the ministry last week to report how much time and money would be needed to restart the broadcasts. (Hankyore, “Defense Ministry Considers Resuming Psychological Warfare against N. Korea,” May 11, 2010)

North Korea claimed it successfully accomplished a nuclear fusion reaction to mark the birthday of late founder Kim Il Sung, and called the achievement “a breakthrough” toward developing new sources of energy. South Korean officials and scientists dismissed the report as “absurd,” but said the North Korean claim may have some political implications. Rodong Sinmun reported on the feat and it was carried by KCNA. “The successful nuclear fusion marks a great event that demonstrated the rapidly developing cutting-edge science and technology of the DPRK,” the report read, adding the North “made a definite breakthrough toward the development of new energy and opened up a new phase in the nation’s development of the latest science and technology.” It said the new energy source was like an “artificial sun.” South Korean officials with expertise in energy and civilian scientists were deeply skeptical of the claim. According to experts, nuclear fusion requires sophisticated technologies not yet developed by even the world’s most advanced nations. The International Atomic Energy Agency describes the building of fusion power plants “a great challenge” for the future. According to the IAEA, nuclear fusion occurs when two hydrogen nuclei collide at high speed and fuse together into a heavier nucleus. They release an enormous amount of energy in the process. The nuclear fusion takes place at about 100 million degrees Celsius (180 million degrees in Fahrenheit). One Foreign Ministry official with expertise in energy said yesterday the North Korean claim was “in a word, absurd.” “Nuclear fusion requires a major facility and as far as we know, there isn’t one in North Korea,” the official told reporters in a background briefing. “North Korean scientists probably did some small experiment or studied some related theory, and exaggerated these activities.” The official pointed out that the members of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, a nuclear fusion project, have given themselves about half a century to create a controlled nuclear fusion reaction. The seven members of the ITER are South Korea, the United States, the European Union, India, Japan, Russia and China. In 2006, they agreed to fund the building of a nuclear fusion reactor in France, and the South Korean official said the work would cost about 5 billion euros ($6.35 billion). Lee Choon-geun, a researcher at the Science and Technology Policy Institute in Seoul, said North Korea has been researching nuclear fusion since the beginning of this decade. “But nuclear fusion is difficult to achieve in a laboratory setting,” Lee said. “Some have claimed that they did it at room temperature but they were later refuted.” (Yoo-Jee-ho, “North Claims Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough,” JoongAng Ilbo, May 12, 2010) Right after North Korea claimed a successful nuclear fusion test on May 12, the northernmost radiation detection station of the [South] Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety detected an eightfold increase in the radioactive substance xenon, it emerged June 19.Since nuclear fusion is the core process in hydrogen bombs, there is speculation that the North actually ran a small-scale nuclear test to develop the technology at the time. On May 14, two days after the North’s announcement, air analysis of KINS’s radiation detection station in Geojin, Gangwon Province showed about eight times as much xenon as in ordinary times, a government official said. “Authorities concerned have concentrated on analyzing this,” he added. Like krypton, xenon is a gaseous radioactive matter that is produced as a result of nuclear fission. It is regarded as the surest proof of a nuclear test because it does not interact chemically with other matters. A nuclear expert said fusion technology normally uses magnetic fields or laser beams to compress tritium. “But an atomic bomb is used to compress the tritium in hydrogen bombs. If xenon was detected, it must have been produced in such a process.” (Chosun Ilbo, “Radioactivity Detected after N. Korean Nuclear Funsion Cliam,” June 21, 2010)

Steinberg: “I think the – our willingness to both engage and to offer the prospect of engagement with North Korea, but also to make clear that we have very clear expectations of what that engagement needs to produce has helped to build a strong international consensus both in support of diplomacy, but also in support of effective international measures where North Korea has turned its back on diplomacy. And I think that has paid off very substantially in the common actions we took along with China and the other members of the Security Council in response to North Korea’s missile tests last year and its nuclear – announced nuclear test last year which led to, I think, both swift and unprecedented degree of consensus among the remaining parties in the Six-Party Talks, and then at the Security Council, to move forward with new sanctions on North Korea which we believe are having a significant impact there. We obviously face a very challenging situation with the sinking of the Cheonan and it really underscores the precariousness of the situation on the Korean Peninsula. And I think that we all recognize that we need a thorough and complete investigation. No one is trying to hasten unduly the conclusions on this, but we are determined to pursue this thoroughly and to follow the facts where they point. And this will, in turn, have an impact on how we proceed in dealing with the challenge of North Korea and its actions, not only the nuclear front but in other provocative measures that it takes. And how we proceed is going to depend first on clarity on the cause of the sinking of the Cheonan, second a clear understanding by North Korea that it must live up to its international obligations on the nuclear weapons program, on abiding with UN Security Council resolutions, and more broadly ending its belligerent and threatening behavior towards its neighbors. Throughout this process, as I say, China has played an important and constructive role through the Six-Party Talks and in our engagements, both bilaterally and in New York. And now, we are engaged in an intensive discussion with all of the key partners in the region, including China, on how to deal with this latest incident. And we very much hope that during this recent visit of Kim Jong-il to China that they had an opportunity to share with them their concerns about North Korea’s behavior and to make clear that we are watching very closely to see how events unfold in connection with the Cheonan. So that’s the first basket on security. …Q: Chris Nelson, Nelson Report. On the recently completed North Korea meeting, are you getting a sense that the Chinese are getting a little bit closer to seeing the U.S. argument that North Korea, as it is, is a strategic threat to China, or are they still trying to keep it going to somehow? And in that regard, as the Cheonan incident shows, regardless of who’s judged to be at fault ultimately, it does seem to have started a more considered discussion of the level of U.S.-South Korean military intelligence sharing, perhaps enlarged BMD, all that sort of thing. Do you think it’s correct to be thinking about an enhanced U.S. relationship with South Korea in the military and strategic sphere, leveraging that on Chinese progress in seeing our point of view on North Korea? Or is that – am I mixing apples and oranges, going too far with that? STEINBERG: No problem. Let me kind of being with a few general observations and then – I think, first, I think I’ll let the Chinese speak for themselves in terms of their own assessment of the situation in North Korea and I’m sure they’ll have some things to say about that. But I would say, first, that there is a strong understanding that stability in the region is in the interest of all of the neighbors, and that’s a common interest; and that aspects of North Korea’s behavior, particularly their nuclear activities, is a threat to that stability; and that we have a common interest that binds the other five parties in the Six-Party Talks together to address that, as well as other risks of instability coming out of North Korea. And those are the subject of intense consultations both bilaterally and multilaterally among all of the various combinations and permutations in twos, threes, fours, and otherwise of the parties in the region. I think no country can feel entirely at ease with the situation in North Korea right now. We are looking for ways to work together to try to address that in ways that enhances the common security of all of North Korea’s neighbors. I think in terms of our engagement with South Korea – I mean, it’s hard to imagine a much more enhanced capacity than the unique relationship that we have with South Korea, both on a political and a security level. I mean, the Combined Command is an almost unique example of two militaries that are deeply, deeply intertwined in dealing with the security challenges of the Korean Peninsula, and we work together in a remarkably united way together as two militaries to address those challenges. So whether we need to make specific adjustments in our posture or operations is something I’m sure we’ll all take a look at. But in the terms of the need to get closer, it’s just hard to imagine. And that extends not only to the operational day-to-day of the two militaries, but I think on the political level, beginning with our two presidents, I think the level of cooperation and consultation between the United States and the Republic of Korea now is unprecedented in my experience, which now isn’t as long as Jack Pritchard’s, but it goes back a ways. And I am really very encouraged and heartened by the degree to which we are working so closely together on a full range of issues, not just on the issues of stability on the Korean Peninsula but the strong contribution that South Korea’s making to our efforts in Afghanistan, its global commitment on piracy, and other issues. It really is a remarkably strong and important bilateral relationship, and so that’s why we’re working so closely together on the investigation of the Cheonan. It’s why we are consulting closely on all aspects of the challenges on the Peninsula, and I’m confident that that close collaboration will continue as we move forward. Q: Foster Klug with the Associated Press. You seem to be willing in your speech to link the Cheonan incident to the future of nuclear talks. Is there any other guidance you can give on what else the U.S. is prepared to do if, as appears will happen, there’s some sort of linkage to North Korea with this attack? STEINBERG: I’m going to resist all of those “ifs” in your question. We have made no conclusions. We are continuing the investigation. We will do this thoroughly, objectively, and in close cooperation, not just with the South Koreans but this is actually a multinational effort with Australia, Norway, and others who are involved in this. So this is not – I think it’s been very important that is a broad-based and very objective assessment. And I don’t propose to speculate on how this will turn out, because we don’t know yet and we really want the facts to lead us. But we won’t – at the same time, we will follow the facts where they go and we’ll draw the conclusions from the facts.
But I do mean to say that we can’t be indifferent to this event. This was a very – a deep tragedy for South Korea, and the people of South Korea are entitled to a full – as full an explanation as possible as to what caused it. And we will work with them to do that. And until we have clarity about this, I think it’s important for us to be careful about how we move forward, leaving open any of the possibilities and without prejudging what the possibilities of this investigation are. But I think right now is a time to be prudent in terms of our actions going forward, and we’ve encouraged all sides to be prudent in every respect until we know what the results of those investigations are. …Q: I’m Teuan He, a correspondent from South Korean newspaper (inaudible) Ilbo. I’m trying not to use the term “if,” but – (laughter) – (inaudible) the question. Once the final investigation report by South Korean Government about (inaudible) finalized, can the schedule, the transfer of 2012 (inaudible) can be rearranged, in your opinion? STEINBERG: The only thing I want to say on that issue is that I don’t see any linkage between the two issues. I think that we’ve had a long discussion and we will continue to have a discussion about the command relationships on the Korean Peninsula. But I would not see that whatever discussions we have or don’t have on that topic would be influenced by this particular incident, however it comes out. I think that’s something – we want to make sure that whatever command relations we have serve the interests of our two countries and promotes stability on the Korean Peninsula.” Deputy SecState James Steinberg, “U.S.-China Cooperation on Global Issues,” Brookings Institution, May 11, 2010)

Hee-seog Kwon: “The precise status of the North’s uranium enrichment throughout this period is unknown. But from a historical and technical standpoint, there is good reason to believe that Pyongyang’s pursuit of an enrichment capability is part of a larger pattern of deception. Despite the North’s claim to have a successful experimental enrichment program, the program may turn out to be, at best, pilot scale, or at worst, a ruse. Rather than attempting to build a production enrichment program, Pyongyang may have embellished its nuclear capabilities to inflate the threat it poses and to add one more negotiating card for future deals. …Even if an aspiring nuclear weapon state were to use HEU in an implosion-type device—the route taken by China for its first nuclear test in 1964—the amount of HEU needed is still greater than the requisite amount of plutonium, were a comparable design used. The London-based International Institute for Strategic

Studies has assessed that North Korean weapons are based on a first-generation implosion design, the logical choice for states in the initial stage of nuclear weapon

development. Therefore, Pyongyang would need 5–8 kilograms of weapon-grade plutonium or 20–25 kilograms of weapon-grade HEU for each implosion device. These estimates roughly correspond to the amounts of fissile material used by the nine current

nuclear weapon states in their early designs. … Another likely technical disadvantage in North Korea’s pursuit of a uranium enrichment capability is that the larger missile payload resulting from a rudimentary HEU nuclear weapon would limit its range. In general terms, a plutonium bomb would offer Pyongyang a better chance of making a warhead small and light enough to be loaded onto its nascent long-range missile force. In short, the most efficient and cost-effective use of North Korean security resources would be for Pyongyang to invest in its existing reprocessing program. The North can support additional plutonium production for use in nuclear weapons, above and beyond the material it obtained from the recent reprocessing of 8,000 spent fuel rods. For instance, it could reconfigure and reload the inventory of fresh fuel stored in Yongbyon. Currently, Yongbyon contains 2,400 fuel rods configured for the complex’s 5-megawatt-electric

reactor and an additional 12,400 fuel rods that are presently configured for the site’s nonfunctional 50-megawatt-electric reactor that could be easily converted into fuel for the smaller reactor. It also could restart construction of its 50- and 200-megawatt-electric plutonium-producing reactors, whose construction was suspended as part of the Agreed Framework. And it could excavate and mill more natural uranium to make additional fuel for its bomb-making complex. Yongbyon’s facilities are outdated and aging, but they are workable. …One plausible rationale that would explain North Korean development of a full-scale enrichment capability is that the North intends to use the capability as leverage in negotiations with the United States and other countries. But so far, Pyongyang has been able to extort benefits from its negotiating partners without the enrichment program being on the table. …That said, the countries negotiating with the North should be careful not to play into Pyongyang’s hands on the matter—i.e., buying the North Korean government off with aid or political compromises in exchange for concessions on a uranium enrichment program that is either incredibly nascent or a complete fabrication.” (Hee-seog Kwon, former director for nonproliferation and disarmament, ROK Foreign Ministry, “Negotiatinbg with the North: Doubting Its Enrichment Claims,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May/June 2010, pp. 10-18)


5/12/10:
The government is hoping that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit around May 20, when the investigation of the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan is to be complete. Seoul apparently wants to show to the international community that it has closely cooperated with the U.S. in the aftermath of the sinking. When China accepted North Korean leader Kim Jong-il’s visit on May 3, some South Korean Foreign Ministry officials worried that a gulf could open in international cooperation to find the cause of the shipwreck. But now ministry officials are recently saying there was no big change in China’s attitude over the sinking despite Kim’s visit. “The U.S. and China don’t differ in their belief that it would be difficult to push for a resumption of the six-party nuclear talks before the outcome of the investigation into the sinking is out,” a government official said. Since Kim did not manage to distract China’s attention from the sinking, Seoul is apparently seeking to create a favorable atmosphere in the international community through a big event like a visit by Clinton. But ministry officials say conclusive evidence proving the North’s involvement in the sinking is vital if Clinton is to come to Seoul. “Which U.S. official comes to Seoul depends on the findings of the investigation,” another government official said. (Chosun Ilbo, “Govt. Hopes for Clinton Visit as Cheonan Probe Concludes,” May 12, 2010)


5/14/10:
The government is urging companies not to make new investments or establish joint businesses with North Korean firms outside the Gaeseong Industrial Complex in North Korea, a government official said. The move comes after the sinking of a South Korean Navy ship near the western maritime border on March 26, and Pyongyang’s confiscation and freezing of South Korean assets at the joint Mt. Geumgang tourist resort in the North last month. “The government has requested businessmen not to travel outside the Gaeseong Complex, especially in Pyongyang and refrain from signing new deals with North Korea,” Lee Jong-joo, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Unification said. The last approval for a business was given on March 12, 2009 to an IT company, which expressed its desire to develop software with Samcheonri General, a North Korean firm that has jointly produced a full 3D animation series with EBS and other South Korean firms.
So far, the government has approved a total of 55 South Korean firms to operate outside the joint industrial park. The measure, however, does not apply to South Korean companies operating at the industrial complex, which opened in June 2004. About 120 South Korean companies operate at the complex in the North Korean border city of Gaeseong, though Seoul has approved more than 300 South Korean firms to run businesses there. Meanwhile, the spokeswoman confirmed that the government has recently urged companies not to send industrial resources to the reclusive regime as shaky inter-Korean relations continue while an investigation is underway over the sinking of the Cheonan. (Lee Tae-hoon, “Seoul Restricts New Ventures in N.K.,” Korea Times, May 14, 2010)

The delivery to North Korea of hepatitis vaccine to inoculate one million North Korean children and teenagers was abruptly canceled on May 14, when the Unification Ministry sent an official dispatch to government offices and ministries ordering the immediate halt of all North Korean projects funding from the government budget. The Unification Ministry was also confirmed to have notified private groups that it could not approve delivery of humanitarian aid items such as flour and bread that the groups were planning to send to North Korea. “On May 14, we had intended to deliver hepatitis vaccines for one million children and youths aged 16 and under in North Korea’s South Pyongan and North Pyongan provinces, shipping it from Incheon to Dandong in China, but we have not been able to send it because the related offices, including the Unification Ministry, directed us not to,” said a government official on May 17. “The plan this time was to send the vaccine to North Korea and monitor the situation early next month after the inoculations, but it has become impossible to go ahead with the project.” The vaccines are valued at 340 million Won ($296 thousand). The Unification Ministry’s decision to block delivery of the vaccine conflict with the remarks made at a briefing by ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung about humanitarian aid. “There is no change in the administration’s position that humanitarian efforts and aid to disadvantaged classes in North Korea like newborns and small children will continue,” said Chung. “On May 14, we issued an official document to ten related offices and ministries, including the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, the Health, Welfare and Family Affairs Ministry and the Korea Forest Service, telling them that we would appreciate it if they would temporarily suspend North Korea efforts using the budgets administered by the respective office.” In addition, the Unification Ministry is effectively blocking humanitarian aid efforts to North Korea by private groups, including deliveries of flour and bread. “We were planning to send another 100 tons of flour to Kumsan Farm in Chunghwa County in North Korea’s North Hwanghae Province following an April 24 delivery of 100 tons, but we received notice from the Unification Ministry telling us not to carry out purchasing procedures, since they could not authorize the delivery,” said a World Vision official. The 100 tons of flour are valued at 30 million Won. “An agreement was made with North Korea for an effort involving sending bread made in China to some 6,400 students at 105 kindergardners in Onsong County in North Korea’s North Hamgyong Province, and we were allotted 900 million Won last December from the Inter-Korean Cooperation Fund,” said a senior official with the Korean Sharing Movement. “The Unification Ministry, however, has refused to provide the funding without giving us any clear reason why,” “It is not true that all deliveries to North Korea are being effectively disallowed,” said one Unification Ministry official, who also cited the approval granted on May 14 for the delivery to North Korea of 19 tons of flour valued at 5.8 million Won to be sent by the private group North-South Sharing. (Hankyore, “Hepatitis Vaccine Delivery to N. Korea Cancelled by Lee Administration,” May 18, 2010)


5/15/10:
Two North Korean patrol boats crossed the disputed inter-Korean sea border and returned to their territorial waters as the South Korean Navy sent warning messages and fired warning shots, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A North Korean patrol boat came 2.2 kilometers south of the NLL at around 10:13 p.m., about 13.6 kilometers northwest of Yeonpyeong Island, before going back north after the South Korean Navy’s warning messages, the JCS said. The boat was in South Korean territorial waters for about half an hour. Another patrol boat reached about 2.1 kilometers south of the NLL at 11:30 p.m. It continued to move southward despite the South Korean Navy’s warnings, so the Navy fired two warnings shots. The North Korean boat returned to its waters within about nine minutes. “North Korean patrol boats have frequently violated the NLL, so it doesn’t seem like (the North) had any special intentions this time,” a JCS official said.“But it is their first NLL violation since the Cheonan sank, so we are closely looking into possible motives.” Military officials here believe the North may have intentionally sent the patrol boats southward to check on South Korean Navy operations after the 1,200-ton corvette sank or to demonstrate that they had nothing to do with the sinking, as their NLL violations are nothing new. (Kim So-hyun, “S.K. Fires Warning Shots As N.K. Ships Cross Border,” May 16, 2010)

During the meeting held in South Korea on the sidelines of a meeting of foreign ministers from Japan, China and South Korea Japanese FM Okada Katsuya offered support to his South Korean counterpart Yu Myung Hwan in handling the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, while calling for ”restraint” in dealing with a territorial dispute over the South Korea-controlled islets called Takeshima in Japan. (Kyodo, “Japan Offers Support to S. Korea in Dealing with Sinking Incident,” May 16, 2010) South Korea and China are once again showing a clear difference in position on the sinking of the Cheonan and the issue of six-party talks. The nations have showed a stark contrast in both policy priorities and policy approaches on both issues, which have become key variables in the political situation on the Korean Peninsula. During the fourth foreign ministers’ meeting held by South Korean, Japanese and Chinese foreign ministers in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, China emphasized the importance of resuming the six-party talks over a response to the Cheonan situation. Meeting with journalists following the tripartite meeting, Japanese FM Okada said, “China talked about issues such as a specific method for resuming the six-party talks and other related issues.” An official with the Japanese Foreign Ministry also told South Korean journalists on May 16, “China stressed that the six-party talks are the best method of achieving denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and said that it was doing its best as chair nation for the resumption of the six-party talks.” China also showed a clear temperature differential from the South Korean government with regard to the Cheonan situation. A South Korean Foreign Ministry authority said China repeatedly referred to previous expressions of condolences and words of comfort on the “unfortunate incident” while listening to the South Korean explanation during a meeting between the South Korean and Chinese foreign ministers. The authority added, “There were also comments about the importance of an objective and scientific investigation.” China is known to have also talked about the need for conclusive evidence if the cause of the Cheonan’s sinking is to be determined. In other words, it is stating in a roundabout way that it will be unable to recognize the sinking as being due to a North Korean attack unless conclusive evidence is presented. According to a report published in the People’s Daily, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu on May 15 quoted Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi as saying at the tripartite Foreign Ministers meeting, ¡°China hopes that the nations involved value the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and this region, take a long-term view, and maintain dispassionate self-control so that they can handle related issues smoothly.¡± Since North Korea has continued to deny responsibility for the Cheonan disaster, calling the charges ¡°South Korean slander,¡± this shows that China is using the six-party talks to establish a course toward stabilizing the political situation on the Korean Peninsula. (Hankyore, “S. Korea and China Remain Divided over Cheonan Responses,” May 17, 2010)

President Lee Myung-bak has directed an increase of 3 trillion won ($2.6 billion) in expenditure for weapons systems to cope with North Korea’s asymmetrical and irregular warfare, a government source said. The President made the decision during the first meeting of a newly established presidential task force for revamping national security and defense plans on May 13, he said. “There is a certain need for changes in defense equipment and weapons systems as well as military operations,” Lee told the 15-member panel led by Lee Sang-woo, a former professor who now chairs the Defense Reform Committee. “Upon the President’s direction, defense authorities are expected to review current arms acquisition plans and readjust their priorities,” the source told The Korea Times. “The focus will be on how to thwart the North’s asymmetrical and irregular operations.” A Cheong Wa Dae spokesman said President Lee hadn’t directed detailed plans on the arms programs, adding the military will decide upon these. “For example, buying helicopters for maritime and air-to-ground operations will gain speed in order to help prevent the infiltration of North Korean special forces into the South, or to drop our commandos into enemy areas,” the source noted. Other weapons to be affected by a potential increase in defense expenditure would include upgrades of warships’ sonar, deployment of a sound surveillance systems (SOSUS) for islands near the sea border, development of three-dimensional anti-air radar and an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) bomb, and acquisition of bunker-busting bombs, he said. “On the other hand, arms programs aimed at deterring North Korea’s conventional threats could be put on the back burner for the time being,” he added, apparently referring to the production of the K2 Black Panther main battle tank and K21 infantry fighting vehicle. (Jung Sung-ki, “Lee Directs W3 Trillion in Arms Buying,” Korea Times, May 16, 2010)


5/16/10:
A push by Japan’s ruling Democratic Party to forge closer ties with China has failed to prevent rising diplomatic friction between the two over nuclear disarmament and naval operations in the seas that divide them. In a strikingly direct personal criticism, China at the weekend denounced Okada Katsuya, Japan’s foreign minister, for making “irresponsible” remarks about Beijing’s nuclear deterrent policy during a meeting with Yang Jiechi, his Chinese counterpart. The same meeting also involved a robust exchange of views on a incident involving vessels of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army navy and Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force that have prompted diplomatic complaints from both sides. Frictions with Beijing could ease concerns among some in Washington that Japan’s 50-year-old alliance with the US might be a casualty of DPJ efforts to snuggle up to the region’s new rising power. Okada has repeatedly dismissed such talk, telling the Financial Times last month that China’s growing power made it essential to “further strengthen” the alliance. China’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that Mr Okada had accused Beijing of failing to fulfill its commitment to nuclear disarmament but Mr Yang had rebutted his “irresponsible remarks on the spot.” An insider said the exchange on the topic was “pretty severe” with Yang questioning Japan’s right to challenge it on the topic given Tokyo’s dependence on the huge U.S. nuclear “umbrella” for its own security. (Mure Dickie and Kathrin Hille, “Nuclear Dispute Sours Ties between Tokyo and Beijing,” Financial Times, May 18, 2010, p. 6) “Q: It is said that Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada made remarks on the nuclear issue against China at the 4th China-Japan-ROK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Gyeongju. He accused China of failing to fulfill its commitment to nuclear disarmament as China kept enlarging its nuclear arsenal when the international community is engaged in nuclear disarmament. Thus Japan felt “strongly concerned”. Please brief us on the situation. A: Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi rebutted such irresponsible remarks on the spot and pointed out that China’s nuclear strategy and policy was very clear, that its proposition and efforts on nuclear disarmament were widely recognized. China always stands for the complete prohibition and thorough destruction of nuclear weapons and firmly pursues the nuclear strategy of self-defence. China is the only nuclear-weapon state that undertakes not to be the first to use nuclear weapons and not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones. China never participates in any forms of nuclear arms race or deploys nuclear weapons in other countries. China will continue to keep its nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required for national security. This itself is China’s unique contribution to the process of international nuclear disarmament. China’s position is proper, transparent and above reproach. China hopes that Japanese Foreign Minister could respect facts and keep the overall China-Japan relations and the fundamental interests of the two peoples in mind.” (PRC Foreign Ministry, “Spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu’s Remarks on Japanese Foreign Minister’s Groundless Accusation against China on Nuclear Disarmament,” May 16, 2010) Chinese FM Yang Jiechi became enraged by his Japanese counterpart Okada’s repeated calls for a reduction in China’s nuclear arsenal when they met Saturday and nearly walked out of the talks, several diplomatic sources said. With tension showing on his face, Yang maintained that Beijing’s nuclear policy is restrained and insisted that the issue was not a suitable agenda item for the meeting, which was intended to deepen the partnership between the three countries. Despite Yang’s claim, Okada continued his arguments and the Chinese minister hit back in Chinese — at one point looking likely to leave the gathering — saying he could no longer participate under such conditions, the sources said. Although Yang decided not to walk out, he later lodged a protest against Okada through diplomatic channels, saying he had been rude. (Kyodo, “Okada’s Call foer Nuke Cut Irks China,” Japan Times, May 19, 2010)


5/17/10:
South Korea said it has suspended funding for government-level exchanges with communist North Korea amid rising tensions over the sinking of a Seoul warship and other issues. The unification ministry, in charge of cross-border relations, said it has asked 10 ministries or other organizations to suspend spending on the exchanges. (AFP, “South Korea Freezes North Korea Funds over Sinking,” May 17, 2010)

Investigators have apparently discovered pieces of a propeller from a torpedo, which could provide valuable clues to exactly what caused the Navy corvette Cheonan to sink on March 26. “In a search using fishing trawlers, we recently discovered pieces of debris that are believed to have come from the propeller of the torpedo that attacked the Cheonan,” a high-ranking government source said. “Analysis of the debris shows it may have originated from China or a former Eastern-bloc country like the former Soviet Union.” (Chosun Ilbo, “Cheonan Investigators Find Pieces of Torpedo Propeller,” May 18, 2010)

Toloraya: “At present the basic underlying approach, which more or less determines practical policy in Korea for Russia, can be summarized as follows. … Under no circumstances should military action or attempts to change the regime (effectively eliminating the North Korean state from the political map) be permissible. Sanctions do not help either. Only a compromise can lead to a breakthrough. Under that logic, maintaining amicable relations between Moscow and Pyongyang is imperative both for Russia’s ability to prevent dangerous developments and to influence Pyongyang to be more receptive to compromise. Such an approach suits well the core Russian strategy based on its national interests and in tune with the policies of its “strategic partner” China. It is also useful to contain potentially hostile Western ambitions in a vital area where Russian positions have never been strong enough. This accounts for Russia’s seeming ‘passivity,’ which sometimes displeases the US. … Since 2009, Pyongyang’s provocative behavior (above all its pursuit of nuclear and long-range missile capabilities) has almost overfilled the cup of the Kremlin’s patience and given rise to a less lenient approach to the DPRK’s adventurism. This new trend can be described as follows. Global interests, including the need to preserve the nonproliferation regime, in the framework of such an approach are more important than appeasing the whims of an abhorrent regime. The distant possibility of Japan, South Korea, or Taiwan aspiring for a nuclear capability is particularly worrisome. This would change the power equation not in Russia’s favor and would require costly countermeasures. A reset of relations with the US, high on the Russian leadership’s agenda, might prompt a sacrifice of good relations with Pyongyang for the sake of closer cooperation with Washington in vital security areas, especially in strategic arms limitation and counter-proliferation. Nor should Iran, where Russian interests are much deeper than in Korea, be forgotten. Maintaining a delicate balance around Tehran’s nuclear program is more essential to Russian interests than keeping unruly Pyongyang out of trouble. Such an approach presupposes that effective measures against the potential implications of a North Korea with an established nuclear status might be necessary, including increased military preparedness in the Russian Far East, as well as a more supportive approach to international sanctions against North Korea.Would Russia turn to a hard-line policy supportive of the US “sanctions first” approach in the quest for unconditional DPRK denuclearization? That would be strange, especially as a more comprehensive and forward-looking US approach is yet to be fully worked out. What would be the benefit for Russia of pressuring Pyongyang? Would that be likely to bring about a real change in North Korea’s policies in nuclear-related matters? Regardless of Russia’s actions, Pyongyang will not change its behavior unless US policies change. Since this is beyond Russia’s control, Moscow feels no need to rush. The status quo, which is actually not deleterious to Russia’s overall regional position, and can only be considered an indirect challenge to its global priorities, in my opinion, suits Russian interests. … What could really affect Russia’s interests is a further expansion of North Korean nuclear programs and improvement of their nuclear weapons and delivery systems (missile programs). That could endanger Russia’s national security, mostly because of an increased regional response to these developments, which would require counter-measures. The possibility of North Korea’s WMD technologies falling into terrorist hands should not be totally discarded. Russia’s interest in stopping any such development coincides with those of the US, Japan, and ROK. But, for Russia, denuclearization at all costs, without regard to broader security issues and consequences, should not become the overriding goal. Peace and security preservation are more important. … If denuclearization under the current rules of the game seems unattainable, why should Russia put it ahead of other goals, namely, the goal of stability in Korea? A collapse of the North Korean state, involving de facto occupation by South Korea, is not how Russia would like to see the future. I will not speculate on the possible long-term destabilization of Russia’s neighborhood that could follow internal strife in the North except to note that it might include armed opposition or the inability of North Korean population – ‘second class’ citizens in a unified Korea — to adapt to the new rules. Another possibility is ‘soft’ regime change with Chinese involvement. That might range from Beijing sending troops to control the disintegrating country or parts of it (in accordance with a February 1958 Kim Il Sung-Chou En-lai Joint statement) to the installation of a pro-Chinese faction in power. Such a scenario would also mean an increase in regional tensions (contradictions between China and South Korea, the latter supported by the US) and a possible arms race, which would certainly follow from what would be perceived in Asia as a new Beijing hegemonism. Under any of these scenarios Russia will lose. It would probably also be totally devoid of leverage and ability to influence the development of the situation or the post-change leadership. For Russia the more viable option is trying to rein in the DPRK nuclear potential — to “manage the risks”, silently agreeing to the temporary preservation of the current limited potential. The condition for that is responsible DPRK behavior: no new tests, or, God forbid, international proliferation, no new development of nuclear or missile technology. This is feasible and can be achieved through the diplomatic process, although the goal of actual denuclearization would move ‘over the horizon.’ I have long advocated the view that this would only occur in a distant future, when a new generation leadership has emerged and relations between the DPRK and the world have improved based on the country’s own transformation. Then, the need for a “nuclear deterrent” for Pyongyang would probably disappear. In the meantime, however, for this to happen, the world’s only existing partner in maintaining the status quo is the current North Korean elite. They need guarantees and Russia should not ignore the importance of their concerns. There is no alternative to communication with them. Pyongyang’s aims are to remove military-political threats to the regime, achieve security arrangements, prevent foreign interference, and obtain economic assistance. The mechanism to discuss these concerns exists. It is again the Six-Party Talks. But the talks should not concentrate exclusively on the nuclear issue. They should deal with comprehensive security problems, dating back several decades. Denuclearization is only one track of these talks, and actually it is even a secondary one.” (Georgy Toloraya, “Russia and the North Korean Knot,” Asia Pacific Journal, carried in Pacific Forum, May 17, 2010)


5/18/10:
President Barack Obama expressed full support for Seoul’s response to the March sinking of a South Korean naval ship in his telephone conversation with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Lee’s office said, “President Obama emphasized that the U.S. fully trusts and supports South Korea’s response and investigation by an international team.” A White House statement said the two leaders “emphasized the importance of obtaining a full accounting of the event and committed to follow the facts of the investigation wherever they lead.” It also said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit South Korea next week to discuss the ship sinking. Lee placed the phone call to provide “an update on the status of the investigation into the sinking of the ROK (South Korea) naval vessel Cheonan” and “expressed appreciation on behalf of the Korean people for U.S. support in the Cheonan rescue and salvage operations, as well as for the participation of U.S. experts in the international inquiry,” the White House statement said. During the phone call, Obama “reaffirmed the strong and unwavering commitment of the United States to the defense and the well-being of its close friend and ally, the Republic of Korea,” and the leaders also “pledged their utmost efforts to ensure the security of the Republic of Korea, its armed forces, territory and its people,” it said. The two leaders did not explicitly blame North Korea for the ship sinking, but they urged the North to end its provocations. “President Obama and President Lee reiterated that North Korea must live up to its commitment to eliminate its nuclear-weapons program, comply with its international obligations under relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions, and put an end to belligerent behavior towards its neighbors,” the statement said. Cheong Wa Dae said the two presidents agreed to hold what is known as a “two-plus-two,” a joint meeting of foreign and defense ministers of the two countries, on July 22 in Seoul. It will be their first such meeting. (Hwang Doo-hyong and Lee Chi-dong, “Lee, Obama Discuss Ship Sinking, Response,” Yonhap, May 18, 2010)

Seven South Korean companies have suspended their sand imports from North Korea, one of the longest-running economic cooperation projects between the countries since yesterday, Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said. “We warned them to be careful about the safety of their employees” because political tension is rising between the Koreas, Chun told reporters. He denied that the government pressured the companies into suspending their imports, saying they “voluntarily” halted their operations after the warning. “There are fears that further deterioration in the inter-Korean ties may undermine their businesses,” he said. (Sam Kim, “S. Korea Halts Sand Imports from N. Korea amid Tension,” Yonhap, May 18, 2010)

David Hawk report: “For the last twenty years, the paradigm that has guided approaches to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) is that the pursuit of peace—either in the form of diplomatic discussions centering on North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs or in the form of extended social, economic, and political engagement aimed at fostering improved relationships between the DPRK and other nation-states that intersect in Northeast Asia—requires that human rights concerns be kept off the table and that North Korea’s potential partners in the pursuit of peace and reconciliation affect a deaf, dumb, blind, and mute posture toward the systematic, severe, and widespread human rights violations in the DPRK. Over the last two decades of diplomatic interaction with the DRPK, there have been recurring cycles of provocation, confrontation, and crisis alternating with negotiations and engagement. Throughout, these two contrasting approaches to North Korea—negotiations, reconciliation, and engagement in the pursuit of peace in ways that rebuff human rights considerations, or alternatively, the raising of human rights concerns about North Korea in the absence of an attempt to reconcile and engage the DPRK—have both failed. …Pursuing Peace While Advancing Rights: The Untried Approach to North Korea argues that the reigning paradigm—the idea that either centrally involved nation-states seek to reconcile, engage, and negotiate with the DPRK, inwhich case raising human rights issues is taboo, or another government raises human rights issues but forgoes engagement and negotiations—is all wrong. This report seeks to make the case that the two should go hand in hand, and outlines an alternative paradigm, which combines the search for peace with the promotion of human rights, and suggests some ways that this alternative, as yet untried, approach might be pursued. …rights is, of course, much stronger than the mere process of elimination—the only approach to North Korea that has not yet been tried.

The most noteworthy proponent of combining human rights and the search for peace in recent years was the Soviet academician Andrei Sakharov … who in 1968, wrote an internationally acclaimed essay, “Thoughts on Progress, Peaceful Co-existence, and Intellectual Freedom,” which argued, in global terms, that human progress required arms

control and coexistence (between and among Cold War rivals), along with the necessity for intellectual freedom and broader human rights. His 1975 Nobel Peace Prize Lecture, “Progress, Coexistence, and Human Rights,” reiterated these themes. …As far back as 1648, the Peace of Westphalia, which ended thirty years of population-decimating post-Protestant Reformation warfare in Central Europe and which is commonly recognized as the birth of an international system based on sovereign states, acknowledged citizen rights—in this case limited religious freedom (for Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists)—among the states party to the Westphalian peace agreements. In the present era, human rights considerations and provisions—in much more detail than expressed in the UN Charter—were explicitly incorporated into the peaceful resolution of Cold War conflicts in Europe in the mid-1970s, in Central America in the mid-1980s, and in Southeast Asia in 1991.8 Further, most post-Cold War conflict resolution efforts contain human rights provisions and human rights components in the peacekeeping, peacemaking, or peacebuilding operations that oversee contemporary regional or intranational peace agreements. …of its insecurity.” North Korea’s pariah status cannot be mitigated or even tackled without taking up its human rights problems …Specifically, if the Six Party Talks can be revived and if they get back to what was previously envisioned for ‘phase three,’ human rights issues will arise in virtually all of the ‘working groups’ within the Six Party Talks, with the exception of the Working Group on Denuclearization. Normalization of relations with North Korea will not likely be achievable without tackling human rights concerns because the reality is that, since at least the early 1970s, factoring human rights considerations into U.S. relations with other nation-states—be they allies, adversaries, or neutrals—is now standard U.S. practice. It is the normal U.S. practice because, irrespective of lapses, failings, inconsistencies, or what some call‘double standards,’ U.S. foreign policy is based on a projection of values as well as on the protection and

advancement of interests. …The bottom line is that there will not be denuclearization or even progress toward denuclearization without improvements in U.S.-DPRK relations. The gross violations of human rights in the DPRK are an impediment to better relations—an impediment that has to be tackled proactively by U.S. diplomacy. …Oddly, both the implementation of the 1994 Agreed Framework during the 1990s and the negotiations at the Six Party Talks after 2005 got bogged down in the technicalities of arms-control trade-offs, and did not soon enough tackle the improvement of U.S.-DPRK relations. While the Agreed Framework was signed in 1994, opposition to it by the newly Republican-controlled Congress led the Clinton administration to let the ‘relationship’ aspects languish until the Perry Process was initiated four years later following North Korea’s1998 missile test. Similarly, according to one close student of the Six Party Talks, ‘the U.S.-DPRK political relationship…was not well defined by earlier Six Party Agreements.’ In neither case did the parties get to the core issue between the United States and North Korea: would North Korea trade off its nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons programs for a new relationship with America, and, if so, what would that entail? Discussions of establishing or normalizing relations—whether essentially

bilateral discussions, or in the guise of the U.S.-DPRK Working Group at the Six Party Talks—are also the most direct and immediate circumstance for discussing North Korea’s human rights issues. The U.S. side will likely seek to withhold full and final diplomatic normalization, as well as the signing of a Korean War peace treaty or agreement, until North Korea actually parts with its nuclear arsenal, as those are among the most important of the few bargaining chips deemed available to the United States. But that need not preclude a series of discussions on what is desired and envisioned by both sides with respect to the substance and circumstance of removing antagonisms and working toward normal relations. This could be included at an early stage of renewed negotiations between the United States and the DPRK, rather than waiting, again, until after the next confi dence-building measure, or, waiting again, until the next step of a

very long list of technical arms-control details is hammered out and implemented. Nor can antagonisms be removed by avoiding them. The unavoidable reality is that addressing human rights concerns is part and parcel of any process of removing antagonisms and moving toward more normal relations between NorthKorea and the United States. …If the DPRK is unwilling to discuss human rights with the United States, it is a good indication that they are not really serious about wanting a new, nonhostile, nonconfrontational relationship. …Approached positively and proactively, human rights issues arise organically between the United States and North Korea in ways large and small, including: 1) responding to the DPRK report recently submitted to the United Nations as part of the Universal Periodic Review; 2) discussing the possible removal of sanctions and reporting provisions that stand in the way of improving and normalizing relations, including sanctions and the reporting provision that derive from congressionally-imposed human rights conditionalities; and 3) probing what North Korea is really looking for by way of security assurances from the United States. The recent submission by the DPRK to the UN Human Rights Council calls for substantive dialogue

with other UN Member States in general and the United States in particular. This offi cial North Korean report to the UN explicitly claims, ‘The DPRK has taken into serious consideration the observations and recommendations made by the treaty bodies, and accepted and implemented them.’ This assertion is the basis for a sustained discussion between the U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights and the relevant authorities in North Korea. What could be the objection to asking for information about the measures that the DPRK says it has made to implement the international human rights norms and standards that North Korea has formally endorsed and acceded to? …Alongside the dozen or so sanctions and aid conditionalities against the DPRK that remain in place for proliferation, for nuclear detonations, and for ‘status as a communist state,’ are several that relate directly to human rights. The DPRK is listed as a ‘tier three’ country under section 110 of the Trafficking Victims is designated as a ‘country of particular concern’ under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998,which carries with it restrictions under the Jackson-Vanik legislation of the 1970s. North Korea remains covered by the prohibitions on development assistance to countries that engage in ‘a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights’ under section 116(a) of the Foreign Assistance Act. What these (and the other non-human-rights-related sanctions) mean, how they work, and how they could be removed is quite complicated. But the salient point is that removing these U.S.-imposed strictures limiting U.S. government interaction with the DPRK would seem a likely and reasonable part of any bilateral process to reduce antagonism between North Korea and the United States. …At the outset of diplomatic discussions between states, it is common for both sides to make ‘opening statements’ outlining issues that each side wishes to address. Judging from previous statements by North Korean officials, it may well be that, prior to taking up the substantive core of human rights issues with the DPRK, it may be necessary to preface a substantive human rights dialogue by clearing away the underbrush of potential misconception; that is, to talk about talking about human rights before getting to talk about human rights substantively. Following are several points that are prologue to substantive discussions. It may well be that North Korean diplomats confl ate observations of human rights violations with the politics of ‘regime change.’ Certainly in recent years many South Koreans associated human rights advocacy about North Korea with coercive or forced regime change, seeking to suborn and bring about the collapse

of the Kim family regime in North Korea. But fundamentally, the promotion and protection of human rights pertains to the extent to which each and every government observes various norms and standards of government policy and practice towards its citizens in the modern world. Human rights advocacy aims to change a government’s policy and practice with respect to the specific rights recognized or set forth in

international standards—not the overthrow of governments themselves. …Put differently, there is nothing in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that prohibits or precludes the idiosyncrasies of the North Korean state such as dynastic succession, the fervent veneration of the founder of the state and his family, the ideology of ‘Juche thought,’ ‘military first’ politics, ‘socialism in our style,’ and so on. From the perspective of human rights it does not matter whether Kim Jong-il continues to rule for decades hence, is succeeded by his first, second, or third son, or by a collective leadership arrangement. What matters is whether the present administration or the next one, however it is comprised or organized, respects, or does not respect, the specific rights explicitly prescribed in the international human rights declarations and conventions, particularly the human rights conventions that North Korea has formally endorsed and acceded to. …To demonstrate concretely that its approach to human rights is intended to be cooperative and is not intended as slander or political attack, the United States should offer to engage in technical cooperation with the DPRK in the area of human rights. One such suggested area could be in the rights of persons with disabilities, wherein it could be proposed that U.S.-based disabled persons’ organizations could cooperate on developing programs with the Korean Federation for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities that was founded in 2005. Another area for proposed technical cooperation could be with respect to children’s

rights. While the Convention on the Rights of the Child works rather differently from the other core UN human rights conventions, UNICEF, which already has a substantial program in North Korea, works as an implementing agency for the children’s rights convention. Developing a trilateral program between the United States, UNICEF, and the relevant North Korean institutions could be proposed for consideration, as part and

parcel of an improved U.S.-DPRK relationship. …The basis for a human rights dialogue between the United States and North Korea is that both states are signatories to the same core international human rights conventions. Both states have signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). These twin conventions convert the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into the language of international law. Between them they cover the full range of human activities that are recognized as ‘rights’ in the international community. These conventions specify in

considerable detail what signatory governments should not do to their citizenry and what signatory governments should do for their citizens to the extent that resources allow. …The DPRK has submitted its implementation report under the ICCPR to the UN Human Rights Committee, and its implementation report under the ICESCR to the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights. And in 2001 and 2003, respectively, these committees issued their reports on North Korea’s implementation of its obligations under both Covenants. These reports, with their series of expert recommendations, constitute a veritable UN roadmap for improving human rights in North Korea. …The door to human rights dialogue has to be opened by the Special Envoy for North Korea Policy, who is presently the only interlocutor between the United States and the DPRK. Once Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, the current U.S. Special Envoy for North Korea Policy, is suffi ciently sure there is enough common ground with the DPRK on denuclearization issues to resume negotiations, he will have to make the initial

case to North Korea that improving relations and the road to diplomatic normalization with the United States will be facilitated by a human rights dialogue. What is less obvious is that there are substantial discussions than need to be had, and can be had, on human

rights matters at the technical or sub-ambassadorial level, just as there was a substantial amount of technical discussion between U.S. and DPRK scientists and engineers on what exactly was involved in the ‘disabling’ process at the Yongbyon nuclear facility. …Two examples of technical human rights dialogue are as follows. In 2004 and 2007 the DPRK revised its Criminal Code and Criminal Procedures Code. These revisions included a number of improvements from a human rights point of view, incorporating, it is said, several recommendations made to the DPRK by the UN human rights treaty bodies referred to above. There are North Korean officials, it should be recognized, who have worked to bring DRPK law up to international standards. But there is a lot about the functioning (or malfunctioning) of the DPRK legal system that is not clearly understood.

The United States could seek meetings with the North Korean officials responsible for legal revisions for purposes of genuine dialogue and knowledge-sharing regarding the legal/social system of the DPRK. From the testimony of former detainees in the North Korean kwan-li-so (political penal labor colonies), it appears to be the case that these prison labor camps—holding an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 persons—operate

entirely outside North Korea’s court system and legal codes. If so, by definition, these detentions are ‘arbitrary.’ The punishments and executions that occur in the camps are, by defi nition, ‘extra-judicial.’ So a question to ask North Korean law officials is: What provisions in the constitution or institutional framework preclude the jurisdiction of the courts, the criminal codes, and criminal procedures codes from what the North Koreans call ‘managed places’ or ‘total control zones’?’ Similarly, while the revised North Korean criminal codes and criminal procedure codes now prohibit the use of torture and prohibit confessions obtained under torture from being used in court, there is a large body of very recent testimony from former North Koreans who were beaten and/or systematically tortured upon forced repatriation from China. So it would seem entirely appropriate to ask DPRK legal authorities in Pyongyang what measures are being taken to ensure that articles prohibiting torture and prohibiting the use of confessions obtained under duress are being implemented in the police interrogation and detention facilities that abut the corridors from which North Koreans are being forcibly repatriated from China. In the area of freedom of thought, conscience, and belief, there are knowledge-sharing questions that could be asked of the leaders of the various “religious federations” in North Korea. For example, North Korea has churches only in Pyongyang. It is well known that following the Korean War and into the 1960s, many families of Protestant Christian believers were transferred from Pyongyang to the industrial cities along North Korea’s east coast, such as Hamhung and Chongjin. Given the proclivity of Christian believers all over the world, including certainly Korea south of the 38th parallel, to gather in congregations to pray, sing hymns, and read scripture together, why is it, the leaders of the DPRK ‘Protestant Christian (Kiddokyo) Federation,’ could be asked, that Christian believers in Pyongyang have, or want to have, churches but those in Hamhung, Chongjin, or, say, Hoeryong, Onsong, or Sinuiju, do not? …North Korean authorities at a variety of levels could also be asked about current DPRK policies that result in widespread and unnecessary suffering. Two examples are outlined below: violence against women and the prison-labor camps.” (David Hawk, Pursuing Peace While Advancing Rights: The Untried Approach to North Korea, A U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS Report, May 2010)


5/19/10:
South Korea will formally blame North Korea tomorrow for launching a torpedo at one of its warships in March, causing an explosion that killed 46 sailors and heightened tensions in one of the world’s most perilous regions, U.S. and East Asian officials said. South Korea concluded that North Korea was responsible for the attack after investigators from Australia, Britain, Sweden and the United States pieced together portions of the ship at the port of Pyeongtaek, 40 miles southwest of Seoul. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because South Korea has yet to disclose the findings of the investigation, said subsequent analysis determined that the torpedo was identical to a North Korean torpedo that South Korea had obtained. Of the countries aiding South Korea in its inquiry, officials said that Sweden had been the most reluctant to go along with the findings but that when the evidence was amassed, it too agreed that North Korea was to blame. A spokesman for the Swedish Embassy declined to comment. Yesterday, North Korea for the first time directly denied that it was involved in the Cheonan’s sinking. “We will not tolerate the confrontations and warmongering schemes of the puppet regime of South Korea,” said Yang Hyong-sop, vice president of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly. China has called on both parties to remain calm, but its fence-sitting risks damaging its ties with South Korea, East Asian officials said. “China wants to be a wise giant treating all parties the same,” said a senior diplomat. “But somebody committed murder here. This is ridiculous. This is a barometer for China. We are watching how they respond.” It is unclear whether Beijing would support taking the issue to the Security Council; a senior Chinese official said China would first need proof that North Korea launched the attack. “I just cannot imagine the Chinese saying, ‘Okay, we agree with you. Let’s go to the Security Council and condemn North Korea for their action,’ “said Bonnie S. Glaser, a security specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. South Korea’s conclusion that North Korea is responsible for the sinking of the Cheonan also means it is unlikely that talks about the North’s nuclear weapons program will resume anytime soon. David Straub, a former director of the State Department’s Korea desk who is now at Stanford University, said that while the Cheonan’s sinking was horrendous, it marked more of a return to “normal” behavior for North Korea than a new direction. “We tend to look at this as shocking because things have been relatively quiet for a decade or two,” he said. But North Korea killed 30 sailors aboard a South Korean warship in the 1970s; in 1983, its agents were believed to have been behind a fatal bombing in Rangoon, Burma, that narrowly missed then-South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan. What has changed, Straub said, is the Western view of North Korea. In the past, North Korean misbehavior was often rewarded with Western attention and aid from Japan and South Korea. But after North Korea conducted its second nuclear test in May 2009, “opinion changed in a fundamental way,” he said. “Before, there was a tendency of government officials to say, ‘Well, maybe if we try hard enough to persuade the North Koreans to give up the bomb, they will,'” he said.”Now the conclusion of most people, including in the Obama administration, is that they can’t see the North Koreans giving up their nuclear weapons on terms that would be acceptable to anyone.” (John Pomfret and Blaine Harden, “South Korea to officially Blame North Korea for March Torpedo Attack on Warship,” Washington Post, May 19, 2010, p. A-1)

The clouds of war are gathering in inter-Korean relations as the Lee Myung-bak administration has reportedly planned to effectively announce Thursday that the sinking of the Cheonan was caused by a North Korean torpedo attack. Clashing in words and deeds, North Korean and South Korean authorities are being rapidly drawn into a hair-trigger crisis situation. The South Korean government has taken the countermeasure of having all South Korean personnel staying in North Korea withdraw with the exception of those in the Kaesong Industrial Complex and Mt. Kumgang tourism zone. An excavation team of 11 South Koreans returned home Tuesday after working with North Korea on an excavation study at Manwoldae, a Goryeo Royal Palace site in Kaesong. They were initially scheduled to carry on the study through June 10. “The government ordered us to withdraw by today, citing the recent deterioration of inter-Korean relations,” said an official with the excavation team. Workers collecting sand from the East and West Seas off North Korea also returned home between Friday and Sunday. The reaction from North Korea has been vehement. “South Choson’s puppet conservative thugs are making a strained link between the sinking of the puppet army’s warship and us and are driving the political situation to the utmost extreme of confrontation,” said North Korean Supreme People’s Assembly Standing Committee Vice Chairman Yang Hyong-sop on Monday. “We will not simply stand by and watch.” “The South bears full responsibility for the catastrophic aftereffects that will be summoned by a resumption of psychological warfare against the North,” said a North Korean delegation leader for the inter-Korean general-level military talks on Sunday in a message to South Korea. “As warned, we will take real measures over and above the level of limiting and blocking the land passage of Southern workers at North-South administration zones in the East and West Sea regions.” This was a warning of a counter response in connection with a plan under examination by South Korean military authorities to resume propaganda broadcasts to North Korea, and the distribution of flyers to North Korea by certain private groups. In essence, the Kaesong Industrial Complex is now a target. Voices of concern about this sharp confrontation between North Korea and South Korea are also keen within the government. “It is impossible to attempt to gauge where this will end,” said one government official. “Since everything is taking place in a top-down manner, the scope of action for the working-level offices is narrow,” said another government official. This seems to indicate that the recent hardline measures against North Korea are being directed by the Cheong Wa Dae (the presidential office in South Korea or Blue House). Experts have continued to call for a rational response. “The administration’s recent measures are an ideologically driven act of self-destruction that tears down infrastructure in inter-Korean relations that was established with great difficulty over two decades following the July 7 Declaration by the Roh Tae-woo administration in 1988,” said Inje University Professor Kim Yeon-chul. “For the sake of peace, a balance must be found between solid security on one side and interchange and cooperation on the other,” said University of North Korean Studies Professor Yang Mu-jin. “Even if the Defense Ministry and Foreign Ministry are calling for pressure on North Korea, the Unification Ministry is the last bulwark for inter-Korean relations, and it must not sever the thread of interchange and cooperation.” “If private interchange and cooperation and the Kaesong Industrial Complex are halted, after serving as a safety valve for inter-Korean relations even amid the deteriorating relations between authorities since the Lee Myung-bak administration took office, catastrophe becomes inevitable,” said an expert at one institute who request anonymity. “I am fearful of what historical disaster will be brought about by the ignorance and incompetence of conservative groups that find their identity in North Korea-bashing at a time when a carefully crafted North Korea strategy is urgently needed.” (Hankyore, “Tensions on Korean Peninsula Escalate Prior to Release of Cheonan Report,” May 19, 2010)

Joel Wit op-ed: “In the 16 years I have worked with North Korea, I have made 18 trips there, and I remain convinced that sustained diplomatic engagement is the only way to encourage the North to moderate its threatening behavior. The alternative is far worse: an isolated North Korea that is heading down a path of defiance. This lesson has been forgotten. When President Obama took office he pledged to engage rogue states in dialogue, but he didn’t follow through with North Korea. Confronted by its provocative nuclear and missile tests, he secured international sanctions, stepped up cooperation with South Korea and Japan and even garnered some support from China, the North’s closest friend. All that made sense as far as it went. But then American officials neglected to re-engage Pyongyang. Instead of using last summer’s extraordinary meeting between former President Clinton and Kim Jong-il to jump-start dialogue, they lashed themselves to a set of hard and fast preconditions for talks, demanding that Pyongyang pledge to give up its nuclear arsenal and return to multilateral nuclear negotiations. Last December, Ambassador Stephen Bosworth was sent to North Korea to keep communications open, but his visit was wasted as Washington spent months debating about whether to hold another meeting. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travels to Asia next week, amid reports that a South Korean investigation has found the North responsible for sinking the South’s warship Cheonan, the administration persists in playing a waiting game — Mrs. Clinton calls it “strategic patience” — based on the assumption that time is on our side. The more Pyongyang is plagued by political instability, food shortages and a declining economy, the theory goes, the more likely it will be to yield to American demands. Yet Kim Jong-il remains in control. Food shortages exist, but harvests from the past two years have been relatively good. Industrial production grew last year and, thanks to ties with China, trade declined only slightly. And the North believes its nuclear security blanket makes it less vulnerable to American threats. Officials in Pyongyang who have hard-line tendencies welcome American strategic patience. It enables North Korea to keep its nuclear weapons, build new ones and export dangerous technologies. (The Internet makes exporting a bomb design as easy as pressing the send button.) The Cheonan sinking makes clear the dangers of playing a waiting game. The sinking — probably the North’s effort to retaliate for past clashes and to humiliate the conservative South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak — shows how unwise it is to leave stability on the peninsula hostage to Pyongyang’s goodwill. What should the Obama administration do instead? Since Mr. Kim has said publicly that he is open to talks, the United States should do nothing to shut what may be a window of opportunity. Now that North Korea has been found responsible for the Cheonan sinking, Seoul will demand — and the United States should support — punishing Pyongyang. But the Cheonan sinking also provides an opportunity for the Obama administration to shift its approach to North Korea. Now, we should avoid steps that might lead to a major escalation of tensions. One reasonable response would be to seek condemnation by the United Nations Security Council, while expanding military defenses against the North and strengthening cooperation with Japan. And instead of demanding new preconditions for talks — an apology for the Cheonan, for example — we should mount a gradual pragmatic effort to engage in new discussions, not as a reward for bad behavior or to talk for the sake of talking, but to make us more secure. We should not delude ourselves into thinking that Kim Jong-il will soon give up his nuclear arsenal, even for financial rewards; it is too important to his vision of a strong North Korea. But Mr. Kim’s vision is not set in concrete. While growing political and economic ties with China have benefited the North, he is probably uncomfortable with his country’s increasing dependence on Beijing. Concerned about inter-Korean tensions and about a nuclear-armed North, China would also be supportive. So a serious initiative to build better relations could eventually make headway. And it is very possible that, as relations improve, the North Koreans may be persuaded to accept a step-by-step process of increasingly tight, verifiable controls on their nuclear program, and on their dangerous exports. While this process would not eliminate all of North Korea’s nuclear weapons right away, as trust is restored, the North may reach a point where it no longer sees them as vital to its national security. But our immediate focus should be on the journey toward denuclearization, not on the final destination. (Joel Wit, “Don’t Sink Diplomacy,” New York Times, May 19, 2010, p. A-27)


5/20/10:
South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan criticized North Korea for breaching the Armistice Agreement signed at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. Yu pledged that the government will take firm measures on the incident with the help of the international community. The Joint Civilian-Military Investigation Group (JIG), which includes 24 foreign experts from the United States, Britain, Australia and Sweden, announced a North Korean midget submarine torpedoed the Cheonan at night. The sub was believed to have sneaked through international waters into the West Sea two or three days before the attack, according to the group. It said the torpedo, with an explosive weight of about 250 kilograms, exploded 3 meters under the gas turbine area of the 1,200-ton ship. The group provided what it called decisive evidence to prove North Korea’s involvement in the tragedy that claimed the lives of 46 sailors. It displayed parts of the propulsion system of the torpedo collected from the site of the sinking and said the remains matched in size and shape the specifications on a blueprint of a North Korean torpedo. The blueprint was included in brochures of torpedoes provided to foreign countries for exports, it said. Investigators also found markings in hangeul, which read “No. 1” in English, on the parts. They said the font was similar to that on a North Korean torpedo discovered by the South seven years ago. “The Cheonan was split apart and went down due to a shockwave and bubble effect produced by an underwater torpedo explosion,” said Yoon Duk-yong, a professor emeritus at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. “Based on all such relevant facts and classified analysis, we have reached the clear conclusion that the Cheonan sank on March 26 as the result of an external underwater explosion caused by a torpedo made in North Korea,” said Yoon who co-heads the JIG. “The evidence points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that the torpedo was fired by a North Korean submarine. There is no other plausible explanation.” Yoon also cited statements of eyewitnesses, post mortems on the deceased sailors, analysis of seismic and ultrasound waves, a simulation of an underwater explosion, and analysis of currents off Baengnyeong Island near the sea border with the North. (Jung Sung-ki, “Seoul Confirms N.K. Torpedo Sank Warship,” Korea Times, May 20, 2010) “We have collected propulsion parts (of the torpedo), including a propulsion motor with propellers and a steering section,” said Yoon Duk-yong, co-head of the investigation team during a press conference at the Ministry of National Defense. “They perfectly match the schematics of the CHT-02D torpedo included in introductory brochures provided to foreign countries by North Korea for export purposes.” The team discovered a mark in Korean at the end of the propulsion section of the torpedo, which reads “No. 1.” The mark is “consistent” with that of the North Korean training torpedo the South obtained seven years ago off its southern coast, it said. The torpedo in point is a heavyweight passive acoustic homing torpedo measuring about 53 centimeters in diameter and weighing 1.7 tons with a net explosive weight of about 250 kilograms. Yoon added that the team’s investigation shows that a strong shockwave and bubble jet effect caused the ship to be torn in two. “A sentry on the shore of Baengnyeong Island stated that he witnessed a roughly 100-meter-high pillar of white light for two to three seconds. The phenomenon is consistent with damage resulting from a shockwave and bubble jet effect,” Yoon said. The team judges that a Yeono-class midget submarine fired the torpedo. It has found that a few small submarines and a mother ship supporting them left a North Korean naval base in the West Sea two to three days prior to the attack and returned to their port two to three days after the attack. “We also confirmed that all submarines from neighboring countries were either in or near their respective home bases at the time of the incident. This is confirmed by the multinational combined intelligence task force comprised of five states including the U.S., Australia, Canada and the U.K.,” Yoon said. The investigation team believes that the submarine took a detour to launch an attack in the West Sea. “It is presumed that the submarine took a detour on the outskirts of the West Sea. For the fatal attack, it appears that the North identified its target at night and mounted the attack at close range,” said Air Force Lieutenant Gen. Hwang Won-dong who headed the investigation team’s intelligence analysis section. “After the provocation, the submarine appears to have swiftly moved away from the scene and returned (to its home port) using the same infiltration route.” (Song Sang-ho, “North Korea Submarine Torpedoed Chenon,” Korea Herald, May 20, 2010) Today marked one hundred days since the sinking of the Cheonan on March 26, but the debate over the truth behind the sinking shows no signs of cooling. The debate has been most heated with regard to the torpedo recovered by a pair trawler on May 15. When announcing its investigation findings on the cause of the sinking on May 20, the investigation team presented this torpedo as conclusive evidence, saying that it was a “CHT-o2D” torpedo manufactured in North Korea. As basis for its claim that this torpedo was responsible for the Cheonan’s sinking, the team cited analysis results on aluminum oxide, an adhesive substance that arises from explosions, the word “No. 1” written in Korean on the torpedo’s propeller, the degree of corrosion on the torpedo and hull, and the correspondence between the torpedo propeller and a North Korean torpedo blueprint. However, the evidence presented by the team has faced more challenges with each day that passes. To begin, the team explained that the white adhesive substance arose when aluminum powder in the torpedo’s explosive detonated and burned onto the Cheonan’s hull and the torpedo’s propeller. However, Seung-Hun Lee, a physics professor at the University of Virginia in the United States, and Panseok Yang, manager of the Microbeam Laboratory in the Department of Geological Sciences at Canada’s University of Manitoba, conducted their own analyses of the data presented by the team and concluded that the substance was not aluminum oxide resulting from an explosive, but was more likely an ingredient in clay. Second, the team announced during a June 29 briefing for press groups, including the Journalists Association of Korea and the National Union of Mediaworkers, that its analysis results showed ingredients of “Solvent Blue 5” in the blue oil magic ink used to write “No. 1” on the torpedo’s propeller. However, the solvent line is a commonly used ingredient in ink, and since the team was unable to secure a sample of North Korean ink to compare it with the ingredients in the ink used to write “No. 1,” it is insufficient as evidence.
Third, the degree of corrosion on the torpedo and vessel, which would have been underwater for similar lengths of time, was viewed as an important indicator. However, the team explained, “Because of significant differences in the corrosion thickness on the torpedo propeller, up to around six times depending on the materials and part, it is difficult to determinate how long the corrosion had been taking place.” In other words, it was impossible to give a scientific explanation.
Fourth, confidence in the military’s announcement took a hit after the belated discovery that the full-scale Korean torpedo blueprint presented by the team during its announcement did not correspond to the torpedo in question. Also, the team’s announcement suggested that the blueprint was in a catalog produced by North Korea for torpedo sales, but Defense Minister Kim Tae-young and others later changed their story and said that it was on a CD.
 Additionally, the team’s announcement and the accounts of Baengnyeong Island sentries differ on the presence of a large water column from a bubble jet torpedo explosion. Besides this, questions have been raised over whether the sonar used to detect submersibles and torpedoes was functioning on the Cheonan, and whether there was really no thermal observation device (TOD) footage from the time of the sinking. Experts commented that the administration “reaped what it sowed” after trying to solve the puzzle too quickly to meet the timeline of the June 2 local elections. According to an array of military sources, there was a considerable debate within the Cheong Wa Dae (the presidential office in South Korea or Blue House) and military over the cause of the sinking, with factions developing in support of and against the torpedo explanation. This stemmed from divergent accounts by survivors and eyewitnesses, as well as differing assessments of North Korea’s tactical capabilities. Indeed, the investigation team itself acknowledged at its briefing with three press groups on June 29 that North Korea would be the first to have succeeded at using a bubble jet torpedo in actual fighting. Military experts also reportedly did not readily accept the possibility of a small-scale submersible typically used for reconnaissance and maneuvering actually being fitted with a heavy torpedo and used to attack. The “torpedo theory” proponents won the day when the “No. 1 torpedo” was salvaged on May 15, and establishing a linkage between the “No. 1 torpedo” and the Cheonan’s sinking became a task of vital importance. Even so, just five days later, the administration made an announcement as though the entire relationship between the torpedo and the Cheonan had been proven. A military source who asked to remain anonymous said, “If you leave out the time spent moving the torpedo, removing water and dust, and writing a report, the whole examination only lasted about three days.” “The government has invited distrust by being excessively greedy,” the source added. (Hankyore, “Questions Linger 100 Days after the Cheonan Sinking,” July 3, 2010) Sources reported September 9 that for its final report on the Cheonan sinking, scheduled for release on Sept. 13, the Ministry of National Defense changed the explosive force of what they have called the North Korean-made “No. 1 torpedo” (CHT-02D). The Defense Ministry changed the previously announced level equivalent to 250 kilograms of TNT up to the level of 350 kilograms of TNT, a 44 percent increase. As this reverses the findings announced on May 20 by the civilian-military joint investigation group (JIG), controversy is expected to flare up again over the reliability of government investigation findings. During a recent telephone interview with the Hankyoreh, an expert at a state think tank who took part in the JIG as a civilian committee member said that the Defense Ministry “carried out a simulated underwater experiment with the torpedo’s explosive force raised to the level of 360 kilograms of TNT” prior to the report’s publication. The expert added that this level of explosive force represented “the last conditions for the explosion that were given by the JIG team investigating the form of explosion.” The expert went on to say that the initial simulation “was done hastily from late April to May 20, and in the process it was impossible to reflect (all of the water-related) variables.” “For the next two months or so, they worked hard to fix things and to supplement and revise their model,” the expert explained. “There were in such a hurry that they did not even have enough time before May 20, so they just showed the simulation up to 0.5 seconds. This time they were able to calculate sufficiently up to two seconds, and now it shows the bottom of the Cheonan’s engine room shearing apart.” The expert’s account suggests that the simulation conducted with the torpedo’s explosive force changed to 360kg of TNT gave an image of the damage to the Cheonan that is closer to the reality. In May, the JIG announced that the explosive force of the “No. 1 torpedo” was equivalent to 250kg of TNT, and presented simulation results based on this figure. This was based on the fact that the amount of explosive material was specified as 250kg on the torpedo characteristics presented at the time. But analysts have interpreted the ministry’s decision to set the value more than 100kg of TNT higher in its final report as a last-ditch strategy to match the explosive force of the “No. 1 torpedo.” Experts said that because a variety of high-performance explosives are mixed into the torpedo’s explosive material, the explosive force calculated in terms of kilograms of TNT would increase to around 1.4 to two times the actual amount of explosive material. In this case, the explosive force of the “No. 1 torpedo” would increase to 350 to 500kg of TNT, similar to the defense ministry’s “revised estimate.” But if the explosive force that sank the Cheonan was equivalent to 250kg of TNT as announced by the JIG on May 20, the “No. 1 torpedo” theory loses credence. If this value is converted into an equivalent amount of high-performance torpedo explosive, the amount of explosives in the “No. 1 torpedo” would come to only 125 to 179kg, well short of the specified dimensions. The ministry now appears likely to face criticisms that it has adhered to a false account for over three months since the JIG announcement on May 20. According to experts, the reasons for this can be surmised to some extent. When asked why the explosive force affecting the Cheonan was set at 250kg of TNT at the time of the initial simulation, an expert at one state think tank said, “It wasn’t so much that we did it. After U.S. experts did a simple simulation first, it was said that 250kg seemed to be the most likely figure.” However, the date the simulation began was reportedly late April to early May. In other words, there was no time to amend the announcement to take into account the explosive force of the “No. 1 torpedo,” a fragment of which was unexpectedly salvaged on May 15, five days prior to the findings’ announcement. In spite of this, the JIG went so far as to say at its May 20 announcement that the simulation results based on a force of 250kg of TNT “produced something similar to the damage suffered by the Cheonan.” With the defense ministry increasing the explosive force of the torpedo to 360kg of TNT, it is expected to encounter considerable problems in the future with its explanation, as the figure does not match the scale of explosion recorded in seismic waves, which was between 140kg and 260kg. This is certain to present difficulties for the ministry, which has relied upon seismic waves and infrasound waves as a major basis for determining the time and position of the Cheonan’s sinking. Moreover, because factors such as shock and heat vary depending on the scale of explosion, observers have predicted the ministry will find itself back at square one having to explain contentious areas in connection with the explosive force, including the height of the water column, the degree of injury to sailors on board the vessel, and the possibility of the writing on the torpedo fragment surviving the blast. (Lee Choong-sin, “Defense Ministry Alters Explosive Force in Cheonan Report,” Hankyore, September 10, 2010) South Korea released the full results of a multinational investigation into the March sinking of a warship, reaffirming that it was sunk in a North Korean torpedo attack and providing more details that officials hope will quell doubts and questions leveled at interim probe results.A Seoul-led multinational team of investigators concluded in May that the vessel was sunk from the underwater explosion of a torpedo fired by a midget North Korean submarine that sneaked into South Korean waters. Investigators presented as evidence the propulsion device of the torpedo retrieved from the site of the sinking, marked with “No. 1″ written in North Korean-style characters.The team also said the recovered torpedo parts point to a model shown in North Korea’s pamphlet of its weapons. The full report contained some more details, including those on the explosion, to explain how the 73 investigators from South Korea, the United States, Britain, Australia and Sweden reached their outcome. “The detonation location was 3 meters to the port from the center of the gas turbine room and at a depth of 6 to 9 meters,” it said. “The weapon system used was a CHT-02D torpedo with approximately 250 kilograms of explosives manufactured by North Korea.” The 310-page document also included communication records between the Cheonan’s surviving captain, Cdr. Choi Won-il, and his immediate boss, Squadron Commander Capt. Lee Won-bo, at the time of the sinking. Minutes after the attack, Choi reported to Lee, saying, “I think we’ve been hit by something.” Lee asked, “What do you think it is?” and Choi replied, “I think it’s a torpedo.” (Kim Deok-hyun, “S. Korea Releases Full Report on Ship Sinking, Reaffirming N. Korea’s Responsibility,” Yonhap, September 13, 2010) Cheonan Report summary: “ROKS Cheonan was sunk by a North Korean torpedo attack while conducting its normal mission in vicinity of Baekryong Island at 2122 hours on March 26, 2010. Immediately following the sinking of the ship, the ROK military conducted a surface, coastal and underwater search until April 3, and transitioned from a personnel recovery operation to a salvaging operation on April 4. The salvage and transportation of the separated bow and stern section were completed on April 25. During the salvage of the ship, 40 bodies were recovered as well. Following the salvage of the ship, emphasis was placed on search operations and a detailed search was conducted focusing on the areas where the likelihood of collecting debris was assessed to be the highest. A detailed search of the seabed using special nets commenced on May 10 and parts of a torpedo propulsion section, including a propulsion motor and propellers, were recovered on May 15. The analysis on the cause of the sinking initially left open every possibility and explored the possibilities of a non-explosion, internal explosion or external explosion for causing the sinking. However, a detailed investigation following the salvage of the ship eliminated the possibilities of a non-explosion and internal explosion, leading the JIG to assess that an external explosion, and more specifically an underwater explosion, was the most likely cause behind the sinking. The possibility of a non-contact torpedo generating an underwater explosion was assessed to have the highest likelihood and the possibility of a moored mine was not ruled out despite its low likelihood. The basis of our assessment that a torpedo attack caused the sinking is as follows: First, precise measurement and analysis of the damaged hull showed that a shockwave and bubble effect caused significant upward bending of the Center Vertical Keel compared to its original state. The shell plating was steeply bent with parts of the ship fragmented. On the main deck, fractures occurred along the large openings used for the maintenance of equipment in the gas turbine room and the portside was deformed significantly in an upward direction. The bulkhead of the gas turbine room was significantly damaged and deformed. The upward bending of the bottom of the stern and bow proves that an underwater explosion occurred. Second, a thorough investigation of the interior and exterior of the ship found evidence of extreme pressure on the fin stabilizer (which prevents significant rolling of the ship); traces of high water pressure and bubble effect on the bottom of the hull; and wires cut with no traces of heat; and traces of spherical pressure on the gas turbine room. The above indicate that a strong shockwave and bubble effect caused the splitting and sinking of the ship. Third, the JIG analyzed statements made by survivors that they heard a near simultaneous explosion once or twice and water was splashed on the face of the port lookout who fell from the impact. Furthermore, the statements were made by coastal sentries on Baekryong Island that they saw a 100-meter high pillar of white flash for 2~3 seconds. The analysis of these testimonies indicated that the aforementioned phenomena are consistent with the occurrence of a water plume resulting from a shockwave and bubble effect. Also, no traces of fragmentation or burn injury were found from our examination of the wounded survivors and the deceased service members, while fractures and lacerations were observed. These observations are consistent with phenomena resulting from a shockwave and bubble effect. Fourth, the seismic and air acoustic wave analysis conducted by the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM) showed the following. A seismic wave of magnitude 1.5 was detected at 4 stations. Two air acoustic waves with a 1.1 second interval were detected at 11 stations. The seismic and air acoustic waves originated from an identical site of explosion. All these are consistent with the phenomena that arise from a shockwave and bubble effect produced by an underwater explosion. Fifth, the 1st analysis result by US team, from the hull deformation showed that the possible explosion type is an explosion of TNT equivalent of 200~300kg charge size at a point of 3m to the port from the central bottom of the gas turbine room, and at a depth of 6~9m. 2nd analysis result on simulation, by the ROK, resulted in the identical location, with TNT equivalent 250~360kg charge size. The efforts on this was also supported by the UK Investigation Team. Sixth, based on the analysis of tidal currents in the vicinity of Baekryong Island, the JIG determined that although the currents would have had a minimal influence on the launch of a torpedo, they were strong enough to limit the emplacement of mines. Seventh, analysis of the explosive residue found HMX from 28 locations including the stack and fractured surface; RDX from 6 locations including the stack and seabed; and traces of TNT from 2 locations including the fin stabilizer. Based on this analysis, the use of an explosive compound containing HMX, RDX, and TNT was confirmed. Lastly, on May 15, 2010, the JIG recovered conclusive evidence that confirmed the use of a torpedo while conducting a detailed search in the vicinity of the incident location using special nets. The conclusive evidence was a torpedo propulsion motor system including propellers, a propulsion motor and steering section. The evidence is consistent in its size and design to the torpedo schematics included in an introductory brochure produced by North Korea for export purposes. A composition analysis of the adhered materials from ROKS Cheonan showed that the materials are identical to that found on the rear section of the torpedo. The Korean marking ‘1?(No. 1 in English)’ inside the rear section of the propulsion system is also consistent with the marking of a North Korea test torpedo obtained in 2003. The above evidence confirm that the recovered torpedo parts were manufactured by North Korea. In conclusion, taking the entirety of the analysis results of the CIV-MIL Joint Investigation Group and Multinational Combined Intelligence TF on the following factors into consideration – the torpedo propulsion system recovered from the incident location, deformation of the hull, statements by related personnel, medical examination of the deceased and wounded service members, seismic and infrasound waves, simulations of underwater explosions, tidal currents in vicinity of Baekryong Island, analysis of explosive components, recovered torpedo parts, and the identification of the perpetrator – the JIG and MCITF concluded the following: ROKS Cheonan was split and sunk due to shockwave and bubble effect generated by the underwater explosion of a torpedo. The detonation location was 3m to port from the center of the gas turbine room and at a depth of 6~9m. The weapon system used was a CHT-02D torpedo with approximately 250kg of explosives manufactured and used by North Korea.”

South Korea’s formal accusation that a North Korean torpedo sank one of its warships, killing 46 sailors, will set off a diplomatic drumbeat to punish North Korea, backed by the United States and other nations, which could end up in the United Nations Security Council. This morning in Seoul, the South Korean government presented forensic evidence, including part of a torpedo propeller with what investigators believe is a North Korean serial number. They said it proved that the underwater explosion that shattered the 1,200-ton corvette, the Cheonan, in March near a disputed sea border with the North was caused by the detonation of a torpedo. On May 24, South Korea is expected to push for the case to be referred to the United Nations, and the United States plans to back Seoul “strongly and unequivocally,” according to Obama administration officials. The investigation “points overwhelmingly to the conclusion that North Korea was responsible for this attack,” the White House said in a statement after the report was released in Seoul. “This act of aggression is one more instance of North Korea’s unacceptable behavior and defiance of international law.” North Korea dismissed the findings as a fabrication and warned that it would wage “all-out war” if it were punished, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency reported. The sharp escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula complicates a trip to China by a delegation of senior American officials, led by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, to hold a so-called Strategy and Economic Dialogue. Nearly 200 American officials will travel to Beijing this weekend to consult with their Chinese counterparts on an array of issues, including sanctions against Iran, China’s exchange rate, climate change policy and exchanges between the American and Chinese militaries. Yesterday, South Korea briefed Chinese diplomats, as well as those of other countries, about its findings. “China has always tried to avoid making choices between North and South Korea, but an incident like this doesn’t allow that,” said Victor Cha, a former Bush administration official, responsible for North Korean policy, who now teaches at Georgetown University. “They have to choose.” For the United States, the calculus is also complicated. The Obama administration just won China’s backing for a fourth round of United Nations sanctions against Iran related to its nuclear program. That, some analysts said, was the administration’s main strategic priority at this point. Still, the United States has been deeply involved in the South’s investigation of the sinking. It sent a team from the Pacific Command to take part in the search for clues, officials said, headed by an expert in submarine escape and rescue, Rear Adm. Thomas J. Eccles. Australia, Canada, Britain and Sweden also took part in the investigation and will endorse its conclusions, officials said. South Korea, the officials said, wanted to have an international team so it would be harder for the North to dismiss the inquiry as politically motivated. South Korea is weighing other measures against North Korea, which could include cutting imports of raw materials from the North. Those shipments have already been constricted since the North closed several North-South joint-venture companies north of the border. South Korea could also undertake naval exercises in its coastal waters as a form of muscle-flexing, Cha said, perhaps in cooperation with the United States. But the world’s leverage over North Korea is extremely limited, analysts said. The North has little trade with its neighbors, aside from China. It no longer admits United Nations inspectors to visit its nuclear facilities and announced in 2003 that it would withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Japan said that the report on the sinking would make it harder to resume six-party talks with North Korea over the fate of its nuclear program. Kurt M. Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said he discussed Mr. Kim’s visit with Chinese officials earlier this week. He predicted that it would be a prime topic for Mrs. Clinton when she meets with Dai Bingguo, a state councilor in charge of foreign affairs. “A central issue of discussion for Secretary Clinton and her Chinese interlocutors, Dai Bingguo and also the Chinese leaders, will be on their assessments of developments in North Korea and their reaction to the report,” he said. (Mark Landler, “Diplomatic Storm Brewing over Korean Peninsula,” New York Times, May 20, 2010, p. A-8)

In a telephone conversation with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd earlier today, Lee said he will “take resolute countermeasures against North Korea and make it admit its wrongdoings through strong international cooperation and return to the international community as a responsible member.” He emphasized the secretive communist regime’s past record of denying its military provocations and terrorist attacks against the South. But such a practice will not be allowed this time, Lee stressed, citing material evidence that he said “no country and no one can refute.” Presidential spokesman Park Sun-kyoo said Lee “will review (related steps) and make a conclusion before long.” The National Security Council (NSC) meeting has been scheduled for early Friday morning in which “overall security situations and countermeasures (against North Korea) will be broadly discussed,” according to the spokesman. (Lee Chi-dong, “Lee Vows Resolute Measures against N. Korea,” Yonhap, May 20, 2010)

DPRK National Defense Commission statement: “We had already warned the South Korean group of traitors not to make reckless remarks concerning the sinking of warship Cheonan of the puppet navy. Nevertheless, the group of traitors had far-fetchedly tried to link the case with us without offering any material evidence. It finally announced the results of the joint investigation based on a sheer fabrication, which assert that the warship was sunken by our torpedo attack, in a bid to mislead the public opinion inside and outside Korea. It is, at the same time, crying out for ‘punishment’ and ‘retaliation’ internally and foolishly seeking to prod the international community into applying additional ‘sanctions’ against the DPRK.What matters is that traitor Lee Myung-bak is taking the lead in such anti-DPRK smear campaign, even daring slander the headquarters of our revolution. Meanwhile, Kim Thae Yong and other gangsters of the South Korean puppet military accustomed to flattery and blind obedience echo Lee Myung-bak’s outbursts. This smear campaign is fanned up by Ryu Myung Hwan and other ultra-rightist conservatives of South Korea. This is also joined by the U.S. and Japanese aggressors who are making desperate efforts to keep their hostile policy towards the DPRK on its orbit. … What is evident is that the sinking of warship Cheonan can never be construed otherwise than a ‘conspiratorial farce’ and ‘charade’ orchestrated by the group of traitors in a deliberate and brigandish manner to achieve certain political and military aims because only 46 soldiers met miserable deaths while officers survived the case. … The National Defense Commission of the DPRK responsible for the defense of the country and the security of the nation clarifies the principled stand of our army and people in view of the grave situation where the sinister plot of the group of traitors may lead to reckless actions against us. 1. As the group of traitors declared that the sinking of the warship ‘Cheonan’ is linked with us, the NDC of the DPRK will dispatch an inspection group to the spot of South Korea to verify material evidence concerning the linkage. The group of traitors should produce before the dignified inspection group of the DPRK material evidence proving that the sinking of the warship is linked with us. We remind the group of traitors in advance that there should be not a shred of doubt about the material evidence to be produced before the inspection group. 2. Our army and people will promptly react to any ‘punishment’ and ‘retaliation’ and to any ‘sanctions’ infringing upon our state interests with various forms of tough measures including an all-out war.The all-out war to be undertaken by us will be a sacred war involving the whole nation, all the people and the whole state for completely eliminating the strongholds of the group of traitors who orchestrated “the conspiratorial farce” and “charade” and their followers and building instead a reunified power in which the whole nation emerges powerful and prosperous. The tough countermeasures to be taken by us will prove to be practical actions of justice for dealing unpredictable sledgehammer blows at the group of traitors who blocks national reconciliation and unity and stirs up an atmosphere of confrontation in the South Korean society. 3. Now that the group of traitors declared what it called ‘decisive actions,’ we will brand any small incident that occurs in the territorial waters, air and land where our sovereignty is exercised including the West Sea of Korea as a provocation of confrontation maniacs and react to it with unlimited retaliatory blow, merciless strong physical blow. It is our invariable iron will to react to ‘retaliation’ with more powerful retaliation and to ‘punishment’ with indiscriminate punishment of our style. Availing ourselves of this opportunity, we sternly warn the U.S. and Japanese authorities and riff-raffs, their poor lackeys, to act with discretion. The world will clearly see what dear price the group of traitors will have to pay for the clumsy ‘conspiratorial farce’ and ‘charade’ concocted to stifle compatriots.” (KCNA, “Spokesman for National Defense Commission Issues Statement,” May 20, 2010)

DoS Daily Briefing: “Q: In light of the investigation results from the ship sinking, is the Administration considering any unilateral action against North Korea to include putting them back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism? CROWLEY: Let’s take this step by step. The Secretary obviously left in the last couple of hours for her trip to Asia. As Kurt Campbell indicated here yesterday, we would expect North Korea to be a significant topic of conversation as we meet with officials in Tokyo, in Beijing, and in Seoul. As he also said, and I think we reaffirmed in a White House statement last night, we are committed to support South Korea through this effort. We think this was a very thorough, intensive, scientific investigation. We think the results are categorical. We will obviously consult closely with the five parties as to what the appropriate next steps should be. That’s one of the reasons why the Secretary will be meeting with her counterparts in Tokyo and Beijing and Seoul. We have, obviously, an array of existing authorities available to us. We’ll continue to evaluate whether there’s other measures that we can take within those authorities, the most recent being Security Council Resolution 1874. But I think right now, we’re focused on supporting South Korea as it itself goes through the process of determining what it would like to see the international community do. Q: You’re not contemplating any unilateral steps at this point? CROWLEY: I’m ruling out any unilateral steps. We will be consulting closely. I think one of the hallmarks of our policy towards North Korea over the past 15 months has been the strong consensus that we have had and maintained with China, with Russia, with Japan, with South Korea, on this process. It was a matter that, after a series of provocative steps with North Korea last year, the Council acted aggressively and affirmatively in passing 1874. We’ve seen over many months aggressive implementation of 1874 and other resolutions. So there are tools that are already available to us. We will be looking at what other steps we might take, but we will do this in close consultation with our partners. Q: (Inaudible) back on the terrorism list? You didn’t answer my question about the terrorism list. CROWLEY: Well, I mean, regarding terrorism, there is a significant and detailed process that the United States goes through under our laws to list a state as a state sponsor of terrorism. North Korea has been on that list in the past. It is not currently on that list. So that is a course that is available to us. But as the President has said, we will follow this based on the facts. There is – there will be – I think as we go through this, there’s a definitional question as to whether this activity meets the criteria under that law, but we will — Q: Do you consider that a terrorist act? Aren’t the two countries at war? Isn’t it more of an act of war? CROWLEY: Clearly, as the White House statement said last night, this was a violation of the existing armistice. This was a clear act of aggression by North Korea against South Korea. Q: A country it’s at war with, right? CROWLEY: Well, yeah. And I mean, there is a clear definition of terrorism. Terrorism normally involves acts of violence against innocent civilians. At one level, this was a torpedo fired by one military vessel at another military vessel. So I’m sure that we will review these issues and we will follow that process and our law. Q: Well, also, I mean, this had nothing really to do with you. I mean, it was a horrible and heinous attack, but it was from one country to another that isn’t you. So I mean, do you expect that any action you would take would be in the realms of international instruments like the United Nations or something? I mean, you don’t really have diplomatic relations with North Korea. CROWLEY: I mean, that’s a very good point. I mean, this was the deliberate sinking of a South Korean vessel by a North Korean torpedo. But we have a shared interest and a shared responsibility. South Korea is a very close ally of ours. We will continue to support South Korea through this. We will be guided by actions that South Korea wishes to take. We all have a mutual interest in a stable and peaceful and secure Korean Peninsula. In that regard, there are clearly things that North Korea must do. It must recognize that provocative actions will not be tolerated and that there will be consequences for those. Q: Just to clarify my understanding of your answer to my question about the terrorism list, is it correct to say that you are not going through that process that you described to consider putting them back on the list? You’re not — CROWLEY: I’m not ruling out that we will take a look at this. I’m simply saying that there are set criteria that – and a threshold that one has to meet to list a country as a state sponsor of terrorism. And I think there is a legitimate question as to whether this specific act is – it is clearly an act of aggression. It may or may not be considered an act of terrorism. Q: So it sounds like you’re making a political – you’re making a political judgment as to whether they should be on the list, when you pretty much are saying that the legal criteria doesn’t apply. CROWLEY: What I’m saying is that there are fine and outstanding lawyers here at this Department of State and elsewhere within the federal government. I am confident that probably somewhere in this process we’ll take a look at our understanding of what happened here and we will be looking at a range of tools that are available to us to make clear to North Korea that these kinds of provocative actions will not be tolerated. Q: Speaking of provocative actions, it’s been just about a year since North Korea launched the missile which led to 1874. Is there any concern that there may be a similar sort of action in the offing over the next few weeks? CROWLEY: Boy, I’m not sure anybody makes any money by making any predictions about North Korea and what they’re capable of doing. (Laughter.) Q: But aren’t you guided in your response by not provoking them to take provocative actions? CROWLEY: Well, we – there are things that we definitely want to see them do, and certainly, ceasing the string of provocative actions that undermine peace and security in the region is fundamental. They have a range of responsibilities under the 2005 agreement and other responsibilities, and North Korea must fulfill those responsibilities if they have any hope of changing their relationship with the United States or other countries in the region. But it wouldn’t surprise us if we go through a period of time where you see rhetoric. I mean, who knows why North Korea chose to take this action? Q: North Korea also said that it would take more offensive action if South Korea tried to impose any sort of sanctions. Since the U.S. is calling itself a very close ally, what is the U.S. prepared to do to protect South Korea? CROWLEY: Well, we are firmly committed to the security of South Korea. It’s why we have an alliance with South Korea. We have our forces there to secure South Korea and the peninsula. So we will continue to support South Korea throughout this process. Q: Will you consider new naval maneuvers, maybe in the Yellow Sea where the incident occurred? CROWLEY: Again, the Secretary is off on her trip. We will be consulting closely with officials in Japan, China, Korea about this. And we will work closely and collaboratively as we work through this, just as we have in the past. So as you’re highlighting, there are a range of actions that we can take collectively, there are actions that we could take with our own authorities. We have the ability to – we have the authority to take unilateral actions in the financial sector and other areas. I’m confident that given this tragedy, we will look at how we can send a clear signal to North Korea. Q: Was there a message sent to Seoul to not try to retaliate in a military fashion? CROWLEY: I don’t think that kind of message was necessary. We will be consulting closely with South Korea. We have – we were an integral part of the investigation. We have been talking to South Korea throughout this process. That’s one of the reasons why the Secretary is stopping in Seoul after Beijing, so we will have the opportunity to have high-level consultations, determine what South Korea believes the appropriate actions is, and we are pledged to support them as we respond to this. Q: Backing up on a question about the terrorism list, is the process for designating someone or not designating someone on that list consideration, as you suggested, of the objective factors with technical experts, or is it a function of our bilateral relationship with that country? CROWLEY: (Laughter.) If you’re listing a country as a state sponsor of terrorism, having firm evidence that they are, in fact, a state sponsor of terrorism, I would think, would be one of those criteria. Look, I mean, this is a very specific and arduous, and justifiably so, legal process because it has significant ramifications, not only for – it in that bilateral context but in a multilateral context. So this is not something that anyone would do lightly, and there is an evidentiary standard here that has to be applied. Q: But also, I mean, don’t they have to have launched – supported a terrorist attack which killed American citizens? CROWLEY: I don’t necessarily think that that’s – I mean, if they are a state sponsor of terrorism, that can be terrorism directed at the United States. I certainly think that there’s – part of that criterion would be their threats to us, their threats to allies. I don’t think it would be difficult to construct a scenario where North Korea poses a threat to the United States or to our interests. The real issue is there are specific criteria that are part of this process. I’m sure – confident that we’ll review this matter as we determine how to respond to what has occurred. But we will be guided by our laws and we’ll also be guided by working collaboratively with the other countries in the process, what we think is the most effective actions and appropriate actions to take at this point in time. Q: (Inaudible) any possibility for you to take up these allegations that North Korea is (inaudible) arms to terrorism groups like Hezbollah or Hamas in order to — CROWLEY: Again, I’m confident that we will be reviewing a range of ideas, and we have a range of tools available to us. And we will be guided by not only what’s available to us that we think can have an impact on the thinking of North Korean leadership, but also working with our partners in this process what we think the most effective steps in the coming weeks and months should be. Q: Even after the announcement of this investigation, China is still calling for the resumption of the Six-Party Talks. What’s your response to that? CROWLEY: Well, I – our response is that we will have talks with Chinese officials during the Secretary’s trip and we’ll be comparing notes on how we view what has occurred and what should occur now. I think in Chinese comments in recent days, they’ve indicated that they as well will be guided by the facts that were presented in this investigation. And we find those facts to be very, very compelling. Q: What’s your position on the Six-Party Talks after — CROWLEY: Look, our position is that we’re going into consultations in the coming days with our Japanese, Chinese, and South Korean partners in this process. We will obviously take light of what has occurred, review the specific findings in the investigation and the range of steps that are available to us both on a multilateral basis and a bilateral basis, and will be guided – we will work collaboratively as we have for the last year. Q: North Korea challenged the investigation outcome and said they will send an investigation team to – it will send its own investigation team to South Korea to examine the investigation outcome. Do you have any comment on that? CROWLEY: If North Korea wants to start an investigation to see if they have any torpedoes missing, that would be a good way – place to start. (Laughter.)” (DoS, Daily Briefing, Assistant Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley, May 20, 2010)

U.S. officials refused to call North Korea’s torpedoing of a South Korean warship an act of war or state-sponsored terror, warning that an overreaction could cause the Korean peninsula to “explode.” The tempered response was an indication of how few options President Barack Obama has, and how volatile the situation is, after an international team of investigators said a North Korean sub torpedoed and sank a South Korean corvette March 26. While the U.S. has vowed to defend South Korea — and has 28,500 troops there to prove it — it doesn’t want to provoke new hostilities or spark chaos in the region. “There’s no interest in seeing the Korean peninsula explode,” said P.J. Crowley,DoS spokesman. Republicans suggested the Obama administration’s response was too mild. “We cannot continue to dismiss actions by North Korea as ‘more of the same,'” said Sen. James Inhofe, a conservative Republican from Oklahoma. Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. response “must be serious and immediate” and urged China to “work more responsibly than it has thus far for the security and stability of East Asia.” Rep. Edward Royce of California, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on terrorism, said the U.S. and South Korea should present the evidence on the Cheonan sinking to the U.N. Security Council.”We cannot allow North Korea to take the lives of 46 South Korean sailors with a torpedo attack and pretend it didn’t occur,” Royce said in an interview yesterday. Asked repeatedly by reporters about the U.S. military reaction, Defense Secretary Robert Gates would only say that he “accepts” South Korea’s assertion that North Korea was to blame for the blast that ripped the 1,200-ton Cheonan in two.”The key thing to remember here is that this was an attack on a South Korean ship, and the South Koreans need to be in the lead in terms of proposing ways forward,” Gates told reporters. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, also declined to discuss a U.S. response other than to confirm that American troops stationed on the Korean peninsula were not on a heightened state of alert. Republicans sounded a sterner note, suggesting the U.S. push quickly for a tough international response. (Anne Flaherty and Matthew Lee, “Pentagon Won’t Say Ship Sinking Is an Act of War,” Associated Press, May 20, 2010)

Despite what appears to be the bloodiest North Korean attack for more than two decades, there has been no outpouring of public rage against Pyongyang. On a superficial level, South Koreans, particularly the young, appear to have become desensitized to North Korea’s behavior, or even embarrassed by it, having experienced decades of terrorist attacks and nuclear brinkmanship. The loss of the warship has also exposed South Koreans’ mistrust of whatever the government says and a historic sense of fraternity with the North, feelings that can override strategic dangers. “The government seems to be hiding something. If not, why did it take so long to announce the conclusion?” said Bae Sung-hoon, a 37-year-old office worker. Polls indicating whether South Koreans believe that North Korea was responsible for the sinking diverge from 40 percent to 80 percent. Many ordinary South Koreans say that their government is merely seeking a convenient scapegoat for what was a mistake on the part of the South’s navy, or what was a “friendly fire” incident involving the U.S. military. (Christian Oliver and Song Jung-a, “Seoul Blames Pyongyang for Sinking of Warship,” Financial Times, May 20, 2010, p. 2)

PM Hatoyama Yukio said North Korea’s action should be strongly condemned by the international community. Amid growing tension in Northeast Asia, Hatoyama said he wants China, Pyongyang’s traditional ally, to act together with other countries to prevent a recurrence of “this kind of unbelievable act.” “We support South Korea’s stance,” Hatoyama told reporters at the premier’s office in the evening after an international investigation concluded the North’s involvement in the deadly sinking is clear. He said Japan will “take the lead” in addressing the issue in the international community if South Korea decides to seek a U.N. Security Council resolution following the release of the investigation results. Earlier in the day, Cabinet members responsible for Japan’s security, including FM Okada Katsuya and Defense Minister Kitazawa Toshimi, met and agreed to be ready for any eventuality by working closely with Seoul and Washington. Following the meeting, Kitazawa asked senior officials at the ministry and the Self-Defense Forces to strengthen surveillance activity around Japan, as North Korea said it is poised to react to any punishment “with various forms of tough measures including an all-out war.” Top Japanese government spokesman Hirano Hirofumi said at a news conference, “You never know what will happen,” referring to rising tension on the Korean Peninsula. (Kyodo, “Japan Says N. Korea Must Be Strongly Condemned for Ship Sinking,” May 20, 2010)

More than 70 percent of South Koreans say they trust the joint investigation team`s conclusion that a North Korean torpedo sank the Cheonan. According to the survey, 72 percent said the Cheonan incident was caused by North Korea as announced by the investigation team. Only 21.3 percent rejected the announcement. On Seoul`s most desirable response, the number of respondents opposed to military countermeasures (59.3 percent) was double that supporting the idea (30.7 percent). On if South Korea should stop inter-Korean economic cooperation and close the Kaesong industrial complex, 46.1 percent said no and 42.8 percent said yes. On government sanctions on North Korea via international cooperation such as referring the incident to the U.N. Security Council and imposing financial sanctions on Pyongyang, 75.9 percent were in favor and 15.2 percent opposed. On wartime operational command slated for transfer from the U.S. to South Korea in 2012, 42.3 percent said it should be delayed and 9.3 percent wanted an annulment. Only 32.3 percent said they wanted the transfer to proceed. In the survey, 60.6 percent showed a positive attitude toward President Lee Myung-bak`s response and crisis management capabilities, while 33 percent were negative. The Dong-A Ilbo commissioned the Korea Research Center to survey 700 adults on the announcement of the joint investigation team May19-20. (Dong-A Ilbo, “72 Pct Say N.K. Caused Cheonan Sinking,” May 22, 2010)


5/21/10:
North Korea’s intention is to send a fact-finding team to prove that it had nothing to do with the sinking of the Cheonan. But in reality, there is a far deeper and broader strategy at play in the context of inter-Korean relations and the geopolitics of the Korean Peninsula. “It is unprecedented in the history of inter-Korean relations for North Korea to propose sending an investigation team in response to an issue that has been deemed a ‘military provocation by North Korea,’” said Kim Yeon-chul, professor of unification studies at Inje University. “The Cheonan situation has entered a new phase.” “Regardless of whether the government accepts or rejects North Korea’s proposal, the situation will inevitably unfold in a different manner from what the government had initially planned for the days ahead,” said a former senior figure who worked at the Unification Ministry and the Cheong Wa Dae. If the government does not accept the proposal, there is a considerable chance that it will find itself in a difficult position in future discussions with the international community, including the UN Security Council. In this sense, North Korea’s counterproposal to send its own review team is a double-edged sword for the South Korean government. “The government has found itself in a confining situation,” said Former Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun. Also noteworthy is the fact that in addition to North Korea’s formal announcement of an “NDC spokesperson’s statement,” the country also made an informal proposal through an inter-Korean authorities’ channel to send the review team on Friday and Saturday. This indicates the possibility that the proposal may not simply be a political offensive. “North Korea’s proposal is positive in that it is an attitude of ‘finding the truth based on the facts’ rather than a military response,” said Jang Yong-seok, research director at the Institute for Peace Affairs. “If the government rejects North Korea’s proposal, it could face an irremediable crisis of trust within and outside the country.” “The government must accept North Korea’s proposal,” said Jang. “There also appears to be an intention on North Korea’s part of using this review team proposal as part of an attempt at new dialogue between North Korean and South Korean authorities,” said a former high-ranking official. The official added, “It suggests that so long as South Korea does not enact provocative measures, North Korea does not want tensions to heighten due to the Cheonan issue.” Perhaps because of this complex array of factors, the government has shown a cautious approach to the proposal from North Korea. “The investigation will begin at the UN Command Military Armistice Commission according to the armistice agreement, and we only need to follow that procedure,” said Park Jung-yi, military head of the joint civilian-military fact-finding team. (Hankyore, “N. Korea’s Reinvestigation Proposal Alters Cheonan Situation,” May 21, 2010)

Until now, military officials have been saying they did not detect any unusual military movements from North Korea. “From March 24 to 27, the military detected two North Korean Sango Class Submarines, but the likelihood of their connection to the sinking was judged to be weak.” said Defense Minister Kim Tae-young before the National Assembly on April 2. “We have not detected any unusual movements from the North Korean military,” said U.S. Combined Forces Command Commander General Walter Sharp through a press release on March 28, two days after the sinking. In other words, at the time, the Sango Class Submarine that was detected around the time of the sinking was not believed to be directly connected with the sinking, while the Yono Class Submarine was not detected at all. The investigation team confirmed that around the time of the attack, they had been unable to clearly identify the submarines that had left the base. A military intelligence official said later, through comprehensive analysis of all sorts of intelligence material, including communication intercepts, video footage and human intelligence, they belatedly learned that a Yono Class Midget Submarine had left with its mother ship. This explanation, however, failed to clarify all questions. A joint South Korean-U.S. naval exercise involving several Aegis warships was underway at the time, and the Cheonan was a patrol combat corvette (PCC) that specialized in anti-submarine warfare. The question remains whether it would be possible for a North Korean submarine to infiltrate the maritime cordon at a time when security reached its tightest level and without detection by the Cheonan. “If the North Koreans were to try an ambush in revenge for the Daecheong Island naval clash, they would have done so only after they were certain of success following several infiltration exercises in the waters off Baengnyeong Island,” said a former Navy admiral. “The investigation team announcement basically stated that North Korea had planned an attack with a low probability of success on paper and successfully carried it out on one attempt, but that assessment lacks military credibility.” In fact, if things transpired as the investigation team announced, then a North Korean submarine penetrated the South Korean-U.S. surveillance net, waited precisely where the Cheonan would be approaching, sank the Cheonan in one shot, and then leisurely disappeared after completely avoiding a naval anti-submarine net that included the Naval ship Sokcho and Linx helicopters. Some have stated that while it was possible the Cheonan was unable to detect the submarine, it remains difficult to understand how it could not detect the torpedo launch. “A submarine is supposed to be difficult to detect military, but most torpedoes can be detected,” said Kim Jong-dae, editor-in-chief of defense journal D&D Focus. “It is doubtful they would have been completely unable to detect the launch.” One military official explained they were unable to detect the torpedo since the one used in the attack had a different audio range from those ascertained by the South Korean military, but some respond that it is difficult to understand why they would not have the audio information contained even in brochures regarding a torpedo that has been produced since the 1980s. Accordingly, in order to clear up these doubts, some are calling for the military authorities to release the communication intercepts to show the North Korean submarine‘s intent to attack. The investigation team, however, has reportedly been unable to secure intelligence data that would confirm clearly the circumstances of the attack besides the fact that the Yono Class Submarine left its base in North Korea. There are also some questions regarding the North Korean torpedo fragment, which was presented as conclusive evidence. First, some experts stated that the marking 1 beon, No. 1, presented as key evidence that it was a North Korean torpedo, is different from typical North Korean markings. “North Korea does not frequently use the term beon,” said one North Korea expert. “Instead, they use the term ho, as in Daepodong 1-ho, Gangnam 1-ho, etc.” In fact, a North Korean training torpedo obtained by the South Korean military seven years ago was marked “4 ho.” In light of the fact that the beon discovered on the torpedo fragment and the ho found on the training torpedo are different, the investigation team could not have conducted a precise handwriting analysis. The team said it would consider a plan to determine the similarity through ink analysis, but it is uncertain whether a clear answer will result. (Hankyore, “Questions Raised Following Cheonan Announcement,” May 21, 2010)

After Clinton-Okada meeting in Tokyo FM OKADA: (Via translator) “This is my fifth meeting with Secretary Clinton since last September. We had a very candid exchange of views. In today’s meeting we had discussions centering on the regional situations in Asia, and the response to the Iranian nuclear issue — but of course, other themes as well. Instabilities and uncertainties as represented by the sinking of the ROK Navy corvette are becoming visible. And the Japan-U.S. alliance is, therefore, all the more important. Against this backdrop, this meeting, I believe, was important and timely for the purpose of addressing these situations through mutual cooperation, with common awareness of them between Japan and the United States. And, as such, it is gratifying that Secretary Clinton has visited Japan. With regard to the sinking of the Korean corvette, we discussed the response we should take following the announcement yesterday of the results of the investigations. Setting aside details, we confirmed that coordination among Japan, U.S., and ROK, including our future response, is important, and that we shall maintain close communication with each other in addressing the matter. As the Secretary is on her way to attend the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, I explained to her the results of the Japan-China-ROK Trilateral Foreign Ministers meeting, as well as the Japan-China Bilateral meeting held in its margins, and exchanged the views on Japan-China and U.S.-China relations, as well. On the Iranian nuclear issue, while we will need to watch how the recent agreement between Iran, Turkey, and Brazil will play out, we see eye to eye that the cause for concern remains unchanged as Iran has publicly stated that it will continue the enrichment of uranium to approximately the 20 percent level. I told Secretary Clinton that Japan will actively play a role in the discussions for a new UN Security Council resolution in order to enable the international community to put out a unified message. We confirmed that our two countries will continue to work closely together. We confirmed afresh the significance of the Japan-U.S. alliance, including the above-mentioned exchange of views, and we shall carry on our consultations to further deepen the alliance. On the question of relocating the Futenma air station, working-level officials of our two countries were having a meeting today, as well. And I also explained Japan’s position on this. Talks are proceeding intensively between Japan and the United States. Both Japan and the United States will make further efforts towards a settlement by the end of May. CLINTON: “We had a detailed discussion on the results of the international investigation into the sinking of the Korean military vessel. This was a thorough and comprehensive scientific examination, and the United States and other international observers were deeply engaged. The evidence is overwhelming and condemning. The torpedo that sunk the Cheonan and took the lives of 46 South Korean sailors was fired by a North Korean submarine. And the United States strongly condemns this act of aggression. As Minister Okada and I discussed, we will be in deep and constant consultations, not only between the United States and Japan, but also with South Korea, China, and others to determine our response.” (Secretary of State Clinton, Joint Press Availability with Foreign Minister Okada, Tokyo, May 21, 2010)

DPRK Foreign Ministry statement: “denouncing the United States for pulling up the DPRK, absurdly asserting that the sinking of a south Korean warship was an attack made by north Korea and challenge to the international peace and security: This betrays the intention of the U.S. to stir up the atmosphere of international pressure upon the DPRK by backing the Lee Myung Bak group of traitors of south Korea, the statement said, and went on: This indicates that the U.S. is invariably pursuing a hostile policy towards the DPRK to isolate and stifle it. As the DPRK had already clarified, it has nothing to do with the case. The DPRK has always abided by international law but the U.S. made such absurd assertion which reminds one of a thief crying ‘Stop the thief!’ The fabrication of the case and the ‘results of the investigation into it’ are, in the final analysis, nothing but a farce orchestrated by the group of traitors with the approval of the U.S. and under its patronage. The U.S. claimed that there was hardly any side which was ready to do so except north Korea and that the cause of the sinking of the warship was most likely a torpedo attack by north Korea even before the announcement of the results of the investigation, paying lip-service to scientific and objective investigation. From the very day the case occurred, the U.S. branded the DPRK as a “suspect” and led the investigation into the case in that direction. Prompted by its miscalculation that the DPRK would yield to its sanctions, the U.S. chose to shun dialogue and negotiations under the signboard of strategic patience. The DPRK and the U.S. were in negotiations over the issue of holding another round of talks in New York in the wake of the Pyongyang bilateral talks held in December of 2009. This was part of the efforts to finally revive the framework of the six-party talks according to the third phase proposal made by China, the host country of the talks. But the Obama administration of the Democratic Party which was defeated by the Republican Party in the by-election to the Senate that took place in January after it was criticized for being weak in the foreign policy again made a switchover to a hard-line policy, totally derailing even the process for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula by linking the DPRK with the above-said case. It is the intention of the present U.S. administration to suffocate the DPRK politically and economically by internationalizing the sanctions against the latter and use south Korea as a servant for executing its Asian strategy. The U.S., however, should know that it is not so easy to pull the wool over the eyes of the world people. They vividly remember upbeat and ‘persuasive’ U.S. Secretary of State Powell reading top secret information about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq for 70 minutes at the meeting of the UN Security Council held in February of 2003. It was with such unprecedented lie that the U.S. justified an armed invasion of Iraq and it is still not free from such disgraceful fallout. Should the U.S. tell another lie on the Korean Peninsula and let its running dogs strain the situation, they will have to pay a price incomparably dearer than what the U.S. has done for the Iraqi war. The U.S. and its vassal forces will witness only the reality of prospering socialist Korea quite contrary to what they had dreamed for such a long time. It is the invariable policy of the DPRK to realize the denuclearization of the peninsula and protect the stability and peace of the region but it will not allow any slightest act to infringe upon its sovereignty and right to existence.” (KCNA, “Foreign Ministry Accuses U.S, of Linking with South Korea Ship Sinking,” May 21, 2010)


5/22/10:
North Korea’s defense minister suddenly recalled an inter-Korean agreement which he said would allow inspectors from Pyongyang to verify evidence in the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan. North Korea had completely neglected and declared null and void the 1992 Basic Agreement between the two Koreas, but now Kim Yong-chun said it obliges the South to “unconditionally allow an inspection group” from the North’s National Defense Commission to look into the accusations that Pyongyang sank the ship on March 26. Kim said in a statement sent to Seoul, “There is no reason for the South not to allow in our inspectors if the findings of its probe are objective and scientific. It is also justified based on Chapter 2 Article 10 of the Basic Agreement and Chapter 2 Article 8 of the Annex.” Chapter 2 Article 10 stipulates that North and South Korea must resolve confrontation and disputes through dialogue. Meanwhile, Chapter 2 Article 8 of the Annex states that North and South Korea will conduct a joint investigation if the agreement is violated to find out who is responsible for the violation and seek ways to prevent a recurrence. A South Korean security official said North Korea’s sudden recollection of the agreement “shows how urgent the situation is.” (Chosun Ilbo, “Pyongyang Cites Forgotten Inter-Korean Agreement for Demands,” May 24, 2010)

Japan and the United States broadly agreed on a fresh pact that effectively states that U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa will be relocated to the coast of the Henoko district of Nago, also in the prefecture, as per an existing Japan-U.S. accord, sources said. The pact, expected to be announced May 28, was prepared by FM Okada Katsuya, U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos and foreign and defense officials of the two countries. It outlines where to transfer the Futenma base by May 31, the deadline set by PM Hatoyama for settling the issue, and says the two countries will not delay the current environmental assessment being conducted under the existing bilateral deal, the sources said. The existing plan agreed in 2006, which stipulates that two runways in a V-shaped configuration will be built on land to be reclaimed by filling in the sea near U.S. Marine Corps Camp Schwab, has already been subject to nearly three years of environmental assessment. By affirming the assessment process, the new pact effectively states that Japan will follow the existing plan, giving up on a new relocation proposal that would entail a new environmental assessment. The agreement also says the two governments will consider joint usage of the new facility by U.S forces and the Self-Defense Forces, the sources said.The two countries also agreed to transfer part of U.S. drills outside Okinawa in a bid to lessen the burden on the residents of the prefecture, which hosts the bulk of U.S. forces in Japan, according to the sources. However, the agreement fails to specify where the drills will be transferred to and leaves this up to future negotiations. (Kyodo, “Futenma to Stay in Okinawa: New Pact,” Japan Times, May 23, 2010)


5/24/10:
DPRK FoMin spokesman as regards the NPT review conference now underway in New York: “Some unsavory forces are busy floating inside and outside the conference hall the assertion that the DPRK should not be recognized as a nuclear weapons state and it should dismantle nuclear weapons and return to the NPT, etc. while finding fault with its withdrawal from the treaty. There is a paragraph in the NPT stipulating that a country may withdraw from the treaty in the event its supreme state interests are put at peril. The DPRK began to go through the procedures for the withdrawal from the NPT according to its Paragraph 10 in 1993 to cope with the emergency situation in which the U.S. became evermore undisguised in posing a nuclear threat to the DPRK while gravely violating its sovereignty by abusing the NPT. According to the treaty, the withdrawal from the NPT shall take effect three months after the notification on it, but the DPRK went through all the formalities for the withdrawal stipulated in the treaty, thus finally putting into force its withdrawal in 2003. This proves that the DPRK handled the withdrawal from the NPT in a serious manner, exercising utmost patience even when its supreme state interests were in jeopardy. In the subsequent period, too, the DPRK manufactured nuclear weapons legitimately by opening to the public all facts in a transparent manner in order to protect the sovereignty of the country and the security of the nation from the increasing U.S. nuclear threat. By all accounts, it was the U.S. that compelled the DPRK to pull out of the NPT and have access to nukes.There were some views taking issue with the DPRK’s access to nukes at the on-going review conference but the DPRK does not care about it as it is outside the NPT. The DPRK is not bound to any duty not to have access to nukes but has legitimate right to steadily bolster up its nuclear deterrent as much as it deems necessary for protecting its supreme state interests. The DPRK does not want anybody to recognize it as a nuclear weapons state nor feels any need to be done so. It is just satisfied with the pride and self-esteem that it is capable of reliably defending the sovereignty of the country and the security of the nation with its own nuclear weapons. The DPRK had never violated the NPT even before its withdrawal from it. There have been breaches of only Paragraph 6 stipulating the nuclear weapons states’ commitment to nuclear disarmament so far. Four decades have passed since the NPT took effect but the destructive power of nuclear weapons existing on the earth has further increased, far from being dismantled in this period. This treaty should not have been extended for an indefinite period from the outset as it recognizes the existence of nuclear weapons states. It should have been replaced by a worldwide treaty for eliminating nuclear weapons. In order to build a world without nuclear weapons, it is necessary to step up nuclear disarmament so as to deprive the treaty of any justification to exist, far from allowing the NPT to remain in force for an indefinite period.” (KCNA, “FM Spokesman on Right to Bolster Nuclear Deterrent,” May 24, 2010)

South Korea said it will unhesitatingly exercise its right of self-defense in the event of future armed provocation by North Korea and freeze all of its remaining exchanges with the communist neighbor, except for Kaesong industrial park. “From now on, the Republic of Korea will not tolerate any provocative act by the North and will maintain a principle of proactive deterrence,” the president said in a nationally televised address made at the War Memorial of Korea in central Seoul. “If our territorial waters, airspace or territory are militarily violated, we will immediately exercise our right of self-defense.” Lee said Seoul will suspend all trade and exchange programs with the North, apart from the Kaesong project, while maintaining minimum levels of humanitarian aid for infants and children living in the impoverished country. “Under these circumstances, any inter-Korean trade or other cooperative activity is meaningless,” the president said, adding that North Korean ships will no longer be allowed to use South Korean waterways as short-cuts, including the Jeju Strait. His speech was followed by a joint press conference by his defense, unification, and foreign ministers who provided more details on how Seoul will punish Pyongyang for the attack, one of the worst on the peninsula since the 1950-53 Korean War. Defense Minister Kim Tae-young said his military will conduct joint anti-submarine drills with the U.S. in the Yellow Sea and expand participation in international interdiction training as a member of the Proliferation Security Initiative — aimed at curbing the spread of weapons of massive destruction. The South’s troops will also resume sending propaganda messages through loudspeakers across the heavily fortified border with the North, a campaign that was halted six years ago. Unification Minister Hyun In-taek, Seoul’s point man on Pyongyang, said Seoul will prevent new investment in the Kaesong industrial zone, where more than 100 South Korean manufacturing firms operate and about 1,000 South Korean workers stay, as well as ban South Koreans from entering the North outside of Kaesong. “If the security of our nationals (there) is threatened, we will respond sternly,” Hyun warned. Officials here said Seoul will first scale down the operation of the Kaesong park and consider the next step in accordance with the North’s attitude. (Lee Chi-dong, “Lee Says Seoul Ready to Invoke Self-Defense against Future N.K. Provocation,” Korea Times, May 24, 2010) These countermeasures on the North will remain in place until the North “apologizes and seeks preventive measures,” said FM Yu Myung-hwan. (Kim Ji-hyun, “Seoul Stays Firm But Leaves Door Open to N.K.,” Korea Herald, May 24, 2010)

President Lee: “The Cheonan was sunk by a surprise North Korean torpedo attack. Again, the perpetrator was North Korea. Their attack came at a time when the people of the Republic of Korea were enjoying their well-earned rest after a hard day’s work. Once again, North Korea violently shattered our peace. The sinking of the Cheonan constitutes a military provocation against the Republic of Korea by North Korea. Since the end of the Korean War, the North has perpetrated incessant armed provocations against us, including the bombing attack against the presidential delegation at the Aung San Martyr’s Mausoleum in Myanmar and the bombing in midair of Korean Air Flight 858. The North Koreans, however, have never officially admitted the crimes they committed. This time is no different. They continue to insist that my Government fabricated the sinking of the Cheonan. …We have always tolerated North Korea’s brutality, time and again. We did so because we have always had a genuine longing for peace on the Korean Peninsula. But now things are different. North Korea will pay a price corresponding to its provocative acts. I will continue to take stern measures to hold the North accountable.
From this moment, no North Korean ship will be allowed to make passage through any of the shipping lanes in the waters under our control, which has been allowed by the Inter-Korean Agreement on Maritime Transportation. The sea routes meant for inter-Korean exchanges and cooperation must never again be used for armed provocations. Trade and exchanges between the Republic of Korea and North Korea will also be suspended. We still remember the killing of an innocent South Korean tourist by a North Korean armed guard at the Mt. Kumgang resort. More recently, North Korea unilaterally confiscated South Korean assets at this same resort. Worse yet, the North sank the Cheonan taking the precious lives of our young sailors. Under these circumstances, any inter-Korean trade or other cooperative activity is meaningless. However, we will continue to provide assistance for infants and children. Matters pertaining to the Kaesong Industrial Complex will be duly considered, taking its unique characteristics into consideration. From now on, the Republic of Korea will not tolerate any provocative act by the North and will maintain the principle of proactive deterrence. If our territorial waters, airspace or territory are violated, we will immediately exercise our right of self-defense. The North’s military provocation against the Cheonan on March 26 violated the Charter of the United Nations and contravened the existing agreements reached for the sake of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, including the Korean War Armistice Agreement and the Basic Agreement between South and North Korea. In close consultations with the nations concerned, the Government will refer this matter to the UN Security Council, so that the international community can join us in holding the North accountable. Many countries around the world have expressed their full support for our position. I solemnly urge the North Korean authorities to do the following. Apologize immediately to the Republic of Korea and the international community. Immediately punish those who are responsible for and those who were involved in the incident. These are basic measures that the North has to take before anything else. If the North continues to make excuses and wild assertions as it has always done in the past, they will not find any place to stand in the world. … It is now time for the North Korean regime to change. Today, no country can maintain peace and make economic development on its own. It is imperative to conduct exchanges and cooperate with the world and to join the path that everyone else is taking. It is time to look at reality and make that courageous decision. It is time for the North Korean regime to start thinking about what is truly good for the regime itself and its people. The Korean Peninsula must not be left standing as the danger zone in Northeast Asia. The two Koreas must take the initiative and resolve this problem. … Through the Cheonan tragedy, we learned a painful lesson once again. We had been forgetting the reality that the nation faces the most belligerent regime in the world. We have to admit that our Armed Forces made mistakes as well. On the occasion of this incident, the Government will solidify the national security readiness. The discipline of the Armed Forces will be reestablished, military reform efforts will be expedited and combat capabilities will be reinforced drastically. The ROK-US joint combat readiness will be further strengthened on the basis of strong ROK-US alliance. Public awareness of the importance of national security will be strengthened as well. We must never waver in the face of threats, provocations and divisive schemes by the North. We must become one when it comes to national security. …” (President Lee-Myung-bak, Address to the Nation, May 24, 2010)

White House statement: “President Obama fully supports President Lee in his handling of the ROKS Cheonan incident and the objective investigation that followed. The measures that the government of the Republic of Korea announced today are called for and entirely appropriate. The Republic of Korea can continue to count on the full support of the United States, as President Obama has made clear. Specifically, we endorse President Lee’s demand that North Korea immediately apologize and punish those responsible for the attack, and, most importantly, stop its belligerent and threatening behavior. U.S. support for South Korea’s defense is unequivocal, and the President has directed his military commanders to coordinate closely with their Republic of Korea counterparts to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression. We will build on an already strong foundation of excellent cooperation between our militaries and explore further enhancements to our joint posture on the Peninsula as part of our ongoing dialogue. As President Lee stated in his address earlier today, the Republic of Korea intends to bring this issue to the United Nations Security Council. We support this move. Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice are each consulting very closely with their Korean counterparts, as well as with Japan, China, and other UN Security Council member states in order to reach agreement on the steps in the Council. In response to the pattern of North Korean provocation and defiance of international law, the President has directed U.S. government agencies to review their existing authorities and policies related to the DPRK. This review is aimed at ensuring that we have adequate measures in place and to identify areas where adjustments would be appropriate. The U.S. will continue to work with the Republic of Korea and other allies and partners to reduce the threat that North Korea poses to regional stability. Secretary Clinton is currently in Beijing and she will travel to Seoul for discussions with President Lee and his senior advisors on May 26 before reporting back to the President on her consultations in the region. Secretary Gates is in close contact with ROK Defense Minister Kim and will meet with him and other counterparts at the June 4-6 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. President Obama and President Lee agreed to meet in Canada at the time of the G-20 Summit. (White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Statement, May 24, 2010)

Xinhua: “China today urged parties involved in disputes over the sinking of a Republic of Korean (ROK) naval warship to exercise restraint to avoid the escalation of tension on the Korean Peninsula. China hopes the parties to maintain calmness and restraint and to properly deal with relevant issues, Chinese spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said during the second round of the China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogues (S&ED) Monday in Beijing. He said the Chinese and U.S. sides touched upon many important international and regional issues during the talks, including the issue of the sunken Cheonan corvette. Ma, spokesman for the S&ED’s strategic track talks, told the press that China had been highly concerned about the development of the warship sinking issue and had clearly expressed its stance on the matter. “China has always been committed to maintaining the stability in Northeast Asia and the Korean Peninsula, promoting the six-party talks and denuclearization of the Peninsula,” said Ma. He added that international and regional matters such as the sinking of the warship should be handled in an objective and fair manner and based on facts. The ROK unveiled Monday a series of punitive measures against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), less than one week after an international team of investigators invited by the ROK announced their findings and blamed DPRK for sinking the warship in late March, which killed 46 sailors, in a torpedo attack. Pyongyang has denied any involvement and threatened an “all-out war” in case sanction was imposed.” (Xinhua)

MinUnif: “the Government will take the following resolute and practical measures against North Korea: First, North Korean vessels will not be allowed to navigate our waters. The Government will prohibit all North Korean vessels from entering our ports and navigating our territorial waters, including the Jeju Strait. Second, trade between the two Koreas will be suspended. The Government will prohibit general trade between the two Koreas, as well as all inbound and outbound shipments of goods and materials for processing on commission. Third, South Korean citizens will not be allowed to visit North Korea. The Government will not allow South Korean citizens to visit North Korea, with the exception of necessary visits to the Gaeseong Industrial Complex and the Mt. Geumgang district. Contacts with North Korean people will also be restricted. Fourth, new investment in North Korea will be prohibited. The Government will not allow any additional investment for ongoing projects either. The establishment of new businesses in the Kaesong Industrial Complex as well as additional investment in the joint economic district will be prohibited. The current production activities in the complex will not be discouraged, but the number of South Korean personnel in the district will be reduced. Fifth, in principle, humanitarian aid to North Korea will be suspended for now. However, we will continue providing pure humanitarian aid for such vulnerable groups of people as infants and young children. In particular, as for the Kaesong Industrial Complex, the Government wants to make this clear. If North Korea ignores our careful consideration to preserve the complex even under the current circumstances, and subsequently threatens the safety of our citizens there, we will never tolerate any harm to our citizens and we will respond with resolute measures.” (Ministry of Unification, “Announcement of Measures against North Korea,” May 24, 2010) Explanatory Notes:

  • Number of North Korean vessels navigating ROK waters (unit: time(s), one-way sailing)
Type 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Up to
April 2010
Total
Inter-Korean Sailings 6 (3) 31 (25) 223 (40) 252 (44) 533 (61) 345 (4) 1,390 (177)
North-North Sailings 39 (39) 97 (97) 138 (138) 147 (147) 184 (184) 71 (71) 676 (676)
Total 45 (42) 128 (122) 361 (178) 399 (191) 717 (245) 416 (75) 2,066 (853)

※ The number in parenthesis refers to the number of North Korean vessels that navigated ROK’s waters since the maritime agreement went into effect in August 2005.

※ North Korean vessels have been allowed to pass the Jeju Strait since August 15, 2005.

  • Expected costs for North Korea due to the ban

– North Korea is expected to face an annual loss of $10 million on average since it will lose revenue from transporting goods for inter-Korean trade as well as the reduction of shipping costs by transiting the Jeju Strait.

※ Costs saved by passing the Jeju Strait: about $970,000 in 2009.

※ Revenue from transporting goods: about $9 million in 2009.

< Inbound and total inter-Korean trade from 2000 to 2009 > (unit: $10,000)

Year ’00 ’01 ’02 ’03 ’04 ’05 ’06 ’07 ’08 ’09
General trade: Inbound 7,855 10,090 16,740 17,744 15,012 18,892 28,195 44,124 36,645 24,519
Commission-based processing trade: Inbound 7,197 7,258 10,279 11,164 10,775 13,122 15,939 20,452 25,734 25,404
Economic cooperation project: Inbound 23 46 138 17 2 3 102 130 558 1,573
Subtotal 15,075 17,394 27,157 28,925 25,789 32,017 44,236 64,706 62,937 51,496
Total inbound 15,237 17,617 27,158 28,925 25,804 34,028 51,954 76,535 93,225 93,425
Total inter-Korean trade 42,515 40,296 64,173 72,422 69,704 105,575 134,974 179,790 182,037 167,908

※ Total amount of inbound trade includes products from the Gaeseong Industrial Complex and the Mt. Geumgang district.

< Key inbound items in general trade: 2009 > (unit: $ 1,000 )

Ranking 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Item Shellfish Dried seafood Shrimp Zinc ingots Coal Mollusks Processed seafood products Bracken Octopus Other non-metal minerals
Amount 54,234 20,970 20,964 18,831 18,188 18,071 16,199 11,345 7,885 7,599

< Key inbound items in commission-based processing trade: 2009 >(unit: $ 1,000 )

Ranking 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Item Athletic training suit Coats and jackets Men’s trousers Men’s jackets Ladies’ pants and skirts Garlic Undershirts Underwear and house wear Electric wire Radio and cassette players
Amount 58,017 41,924 26,718 23,283 13,344 13,328 11,351 8,088 7,701 4,388

 

  • Inter-Korean visits (excluding tourists)
Number of Visits ’89-99 ’00 ’01 ’02 ’03 ’04 ’05 ’06 ’07 ’08 ’09 Total
Visits to the North 11,321 7,280 8,551 12,825 15,280 26,213 87,028 100,838 158,170 186,443 120,616 734,565
Visits to the South 637 706 191 1,052 1,023 321 1,313 870 1,044 332 246 7,735
Total 11,958 7,986 8,742 13,877 16,303 26,534 88,341 101,708 159,214 186,775 120,862 742,300

 

  • The total amount of assistance provided to North Korea from 2000 to April 2010 was 2.8 trillion won, including 2.8 trillion won of government assistance and 768.1 billion won of private assistance.

(Unit: 100 million won)

  ’00 ’01 ‘02 ’03 ’04 ’05 ’06 ’07 ’08 ’09 ’10.4 Total
Government 2,035 975 2,650 2,607 2,672 3,147 2,273 3,488 438 461 13 20,759
Private 387 782 576 766 1,558 779 709 909 725 376 114 7,681
Total 2,422 1,757 3,226 3,373 4,230 3,926 2,982 4,397 1,163 837 127 28,440

※ Government assistance from 2000 to 2007 includes loan-based food aid.

SecState Clinton “The United States fully supports President Lee’s responsible handling of the Cheonan incident, and the objective investigation that followed, which we and other international observers joined. The measures that President Lee announced in his speech are both prudent and entirely appropriate. The Republic of Korea can continue to count on the full support of the United States, as President Obama made clear when he spoke to President Lee last week. First, we endorse President Lee’s call on North Korea to come forward with the facts regarding this act of aggression and, above all, stop its belligerence and threatening behavior. Second, our support for South Korea’s defense is unequivocal, and President Obama has directed his military commanders to coordinate closely with their Korean counterparts to ensure readiness and to deter future aggression. As part of our ongoing dialogue, we will explore further enhancements to our joint posture on the Peninsula. Third, we support President Lee’s call to bring this issue to the United Nations Security Council. I will be working with Ambassador Rice and our Korean counterparts, as well as Japan, China, and other UN Security Council member states to reach agreement on a way forward in the Council. Fourth, President Obama has directed U.S. Government agencies to review their existing authorities and policies related to North Korea, to ensure that we have adequate measures in place, and to identify areas where adjustments would be appropriate. As I have said, the path that will lead North Korea to security and prosperity is to stop its provocative behavior, halt its policy of threats and belligerence toward its neighbors, and take irreversible steps to fulfill its denuclearization commitments, and comply with international law. Let me also briefly address another matter that several of you have inquired about. I want to commend Prime Minister Hatoyama for making the difficult, but nevertheless correct, decision to relocate the Futenma facility inside Okinawa. We are working with the Japanese Government to ensure that our agreement adopts Japanese proposals that will lighten the impact on the people of Okinawa. We are confident that the relocation plan that Japan and the United States are working to conclude will help establish the basis for future alliance cooperation. As a former politician, I know how hard Prime Minister Hatoyama’s decision was, and I thank him for his courage and determination to fulfill his commitments. This is truly the foundation for our future work as allies in the Asia Pacific region. Q: Secretary Clinton, on North and South Korea, can you specify precisely what kinds of things the U.S. Government will look at as it studies policies and authority regarding North Korea? Are you, for example, specifically looking at the possibility of putting them back on the state-sponsor of terrorism list? Regarding the military coordination that the President has ordered, will that include such things as joint anti-submarine warfare measures to try to prevent precisely this kind of incident from happening again?And you’ve said that you will — that you fully support South Korea taking this matter to the UN Security Council. Do you think that North Korea should actually face additional sanctions, sanctions that go beyond 1874, in the Council? CLINTON: Well, Arshad, we are obviously continuing to review and consult closely on these matters, some of which are quite sensitive. And I look forward to discussing them in depth when I am in Seoul on Wednesday. We will provide additional details at the appropriate time. With respect to your specific question about the state-sponsor of terrorism list, the United States will apply the law as the facts warrant. The legislation, as you know, sets out specific criteria for the Secretary of State to base a determination. And the Department of State continually reviews North Korea’s actions to determine if the evidence supports its designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. If the evidence warrants, the Department of State will take action. Currently, several North Korean entities, financial institutions and individuals, are subject to sanctions due to their involvement in or their support of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program. You may also know that the White House issued a statement a few hours ago. We are closely coordinating what we’re doing in Washington and here in the region, and I think the requests that President Lee made in his speech are fully appropriate, and are being analyzed. So there will be more to report in the days ahead. Q: I was wondering how much you can tell us what the Chinese are telling you, as far as their response to the Cheonan issue. There has been a lot of anger in South Korea that the Chinese haven’t been more proactive in condemning the North, and I would like — maybe you could say what the Chinese are telling you. And also, how serious is this situation? I mean, are you concerned this could escalate into a war? CLINTON: As I said, we are in the midst of very intensive consultations with the Chinese Government on this issue. It would, again, be premature for me to discuss details of those conversations. But I can say that the Chinese recognize the gravity of the situation we face. The Chinese understand the reaction by the South Koreans, and they also understand our unique responsibility for the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. As I said in my statement earlier today, we have cooperated very well with China to respond to North Korea’s provocative actions last year, and we are discussing how we will be able to cooperate equally effectively in this context, as well. It is part of the — obviously, a category of its own, when it comes to the strategic and economic dialogue. But I have to say that we are off to a very good start, with respect to the dialogues. We spent in a very small group at dinner last night about two-and-a-half hours discussing important matters. I have just completed another small group discussion with about — of about two-and-a-half hours. So, the Chinese are taking this very seriously, and recognize the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. And we will continue to work with them on the way forward. We are working hard to avoid an escalation of belligerence and provocation. This is a highly precarious situation that the North Koreans have caused in the region. And it is one that every country that neighbors or is in proximity to North Korea understands must be contained. So that is what we are working to achieve. And, at the same time, to send a message to North Korea that we are not simply resuming business as usual, that we intend to work with the international community to create a climate in which both consequences are felt by North Korea, and working to change their behavior, going forward, to avoid the kind of escalation that would be very regrettable. (DoS, Secretary of State Clinton Briefs the Traveling Press on the Republic of Korea,” May 24, 2010)

North Korea threatened to fire at South Korean loudspeakers if Seoul resumes its propaganda activities. The threat came after South Korea announced it would install megaphones along the Demilitarized Zone and resume its anti-North Korea broadcasting that had stopped in a 2004 agreement with Pyongyang. North Korea also withdrew its megaphones that year. If an anti-Pyongyang slogan on a South Korean building facing the North is not removed and loudspeakers are set up, “there will start the firing of direct sighting shots to destroy them,” an unnamed commander of North Korea’s central forces said in a statement carried by KCNA. “If the group of traitors challenges the just reaction of (North Korea), this will be followed by stronger physical strike to eliminate the root cause of the provocations.” (Sam Kim, “N. Korea Threatens to Fire at S. Korean Propaganda Equipment,” May 24, 2010)

South Korea and the United States will conduct joint anti-submarine exercises in the seas off the Korean Peninsula in the near future, the Pentagon said. “Those initiatives are a result of the findings of this recent incident” spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters. “We think that this is an area where, working with the Republic of Korea, we can hone some skills and increase capabilities.” (Hwang Doo-hyong, “U.S., S. Korea to Conduct Anti-Submarine Drills after Ship Sinking: Pentagon,” Yonhap, May 25, 2010)


5/25/10:
Japan has no plans to put forth a joint proposal with South Korea to the U.N. Security Council to seek punitive measures against North Korea. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirano Hirofumi said Japan will “strongly support” South Korea if it decides to call for sanctions against North Korea, but it will not take the form of bringing forward a joint proposal to the United Nations. “’This is a South Korean issue, so it won’t be a joint proposal,” but Tokyo will provide strong support to Seoul in dealing with the issue, Hirano said at a news conference. Japan is considering strengthening financial sanctions, such as lowering the amount of money that may be remitted to the North without reporting to the government from the current 10 million yen threshold, ruling party lawmakers said. “We have to consider sanctions in order to show our stance,” Finance Minister Kan Naoto said at a news conference. But Kan also said he is not clear to what extent such fresh economic sanctions will have an impact on North Korea. (Kyodo, “Japan Not to Jointly Propose Sanctions vs. N. Korea with S. Korea,” May 25, 2010) PM Hatoyama Yukio instructed his ministers to consider new sanctions against North Korea over the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan with a torpedo, resulting in 46 sailor deaths. Hatoyama convened a meeting of the Security Council of Japan earlier today to thrash out the issue. Hatoyama instructed his ministers to work on four areas: Strengthening cooperation with their South Korean and U.S. counterparts, including how to pursue the matter at the U.N. Security Council; drawing up new sanctions; working for early passage of a special measures bill to allow for cargo inspections of ships that enter and leave North Korea; and strengthening intelligence-gathering to secure the safety of the public. (Asahi Shimbun, “Japan Eyes New Sanctions on N. Korea,” May 25, 2010)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il told the country’s military to be combat-ready in a message broadcast last week that coincided with South Korea’s announcement that it blamed his regime for the sinking of a warship, a dissident group said. The order was broadcast on May 20 by O Kuk Ryol, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission, according to the website of North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, a Seoul-based group run by defectors from the communist country. Yonhap News agency reported on the posting earlier today, sending the won lower by the most in more than a year and causing stocks to drop. The won fell 3 percent to 1,251.1 per dollar as of the 3 p.m. close in Seoul, the biggest drop since March 30, 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It touched 1,277.85, the weakest level since July 16. The Kospi index sank 2.8 percent to 1,560.83. (Boni Lim, “Kim Jong Il Orders Military to Prepare for Combat, Group Says,” Bloomberg News, May 25, 2010)

Rear Adm. Peter Gumataotao, commander of the U.S. navy in Korea, was quoted as saying the U.S will assume a role to support South Korea’s measures against the North. The U.S. official had met earlier today Vice Adm. Kim Sung-chan, South Korea’s naval chief of staff. South Korea is also considering reviving a large-scale joint military maneuver with the U.S., similar to the Team Spirit exercises, a government source said. The maneuver, a large-scale annual exercise that began in 1976, was suspended in 1993 to encourage Pyongyang to denuclearize. “As part of anti-North military measures, we are reviewing (whether) to resume a joint exercise like the Team Spirit,” the source said. “Depending on the North’s reactions against our measures, we will make a final decision after consulting with the U.S. side.” (Kim Deok-hyun, “U.S. to Assume Significant Role in Naval Drills against North,” Yonhap, May 25, 2010)

Seoul decided to revive the military operation concept of seeing North Korea as its “main enemy” after a team of investigators found that the North torpedoed its warship in March. ‘Reviving the ‘main enemy’ concept will be considered at the working-level,” presidential spokesperson Kim Eun-hye said. “Our military failed to clarify the ‘main enemy’ concept,” President Lee Myung-bak was quoted as saying by Kim at a meeting with senior nongovernmental advisors on Tuesday. “(The South Korean military) neglected the threats close by and focused on potential threats outside the Korean Peninsula.” Another presidential aide said on condition of anonymity that it was “natural” for Seoul to revive the main enemy concept, which was deleted from defense policy papers six years ago. “The government has begun working-level discussions to go back to seeing North Korea as the main enemy,” he said. “What now remains is the technical issue of how to phrase the concept and in which parts of the defense white paper.” North Korea first started to be referred to as the “main enemy” in South Korean defense white papers in 1995 under former president Kim Young-sam, a year after a North Korean general threatened to turn Seoul into a “sea of fire.” But since 2004, the description was replaced by “direct military threat” or other watered-down expressions. (Kim So-hyun, “Military Toughens Posture against N.K.,” Korea Herald, May 25, 2010)

Determining the cause of the Cheonan’s sinking appeared to have become utterly meaningless yesterday. North Korea has requested permission to send its own review team, and some in South Korea claim that they do not believe the investigation results, but the Lee Myung-bak administration has remained unyielding. Yesterday, President Lee Myung-bak blocked off his own avenue of retreat by coming out himself and clearly stating, “The sinking of the Cheonan was a North Korean military provocation that was an attack on the Republic of Korea.” Irrespective of the cause of the sinking, the way in which the Cheonan situation has played out was as good as foreordained, given the characteristics of the Lee administration. The administration has continuously derided the previous ten years of North Korea policy under the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations as “unilateral giving” and pledged to establish a new relationship between North Korea and South Korea. The Lee administration’s North Korea policy was plausibly packaged as “Vision 3000: Denuclearization and Openness,” but its message, in so many words, was, “If you abandon your nuclear program and come out with your head hanging low, we will send food.” Inter-Korean relations develop through interaction. North Korea’s response naturally changes depending on what form of North Korea policy the South Korean government adopts. Right-wing conservatives have called the Cheonan incident the result of “ten years of pouring money into North Korea,” but this is a clear distortion that confuses cause and effect. It is of course true that there was some element of “pouring.” However, South Korea obtained real gains from providing economic support to North Korea, including the relief of military tensions and expanded economic cooperation. To be precise, there was “pouring in” of money as well as “pouring out” of real diplomatic gains. The Lee administration, however, has done its utmost to ignore the pouring out aspect, highlighting and shutting off only the money pouring in. It stands to reason that the relaxation of tensions and inter-Korean economic cooperation that poured out over the years would fall apart. The Cheonan incident was the inevitable product of this type of hardline North Korea policy. There is another reason for the push for hardline policy from the right-wing conservatives, who cannot be unaware of this logic. It is their belief that if our government continues to apply pressure on North Korea, military tensions may flare in the short term, but before long the North Korean regime will collapse. The problematic aspect of this assumption is the extent of the reality used to frame it. In the best-case scenario for the Lee administration, the U.S. and the nations of Western Europe in addition to China and Russia would take part in this pressure on North Korea, completely isolating the country. This is also the reason behind the concerted effort the administration has shown in its international diplomacy since the sinking. If events transpire in this matter, it will indeed be difficult for North Korea to withstand. However, given the impossibility of persuading China, the chance of reality following this script is scant. Another scenario is an internal collapse of North Korea. This is unlikely as long as China is providing support. North Korea is quite a difficult customer to deal with, a country that becomes ever more militant the harder the pressure from outside. In the end, the Lee administration is simply repeating the same policy of pressure on North Korea based on unrealistic assumptions that have failed to pan out time and time again. There is a chance that a military clash might occur in the process, in the West Sea or near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). If the tension persists into the long term, there is also the risk of dealing a serious blow to the economy, as the Korean peninsula becomes a geopolitical risk factor. We will not be able to withstand such circumstances until North Korea chooses to come out with its hands up, at which point our government will find itself faced with a dilemma. President Lee is taking this risk and beginning a “Cheonan gamble,” with the nation’s security and the future of the Korean people at stake. The real question, then, is will he succeed? (Jeong Seok-gu, senior editorial writer, “President Lee’s Cheonan Gamble,” Hankyore, May 25, 2010)

Clinton: “As part of this dialogue, we also had our most serious high-level discussion to date on development, which is a core pillar of our foreign policy, along with diplomacy and defense. And we had very frank and detailed conversations about international security challenges and regional hot spots, including Iran and North Korea. We stressed the importance of reaching a conclusion on resolution of the United Nations Security Council to send a message to Iran to, “Live up to your international responsibilities or face growing isolation and consequences.’ Similarly, with respect to North Korea, the United States and China share the objective of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. Last year, we worked to pass and enforce a strong UN Security Council resolution in the wake of North Korea’s nuclear test. Now we must work together again to address the serious challenge provoked by the sinking of the South Korean ship. We are looking forward to working with our friends in South Korea. We appreciated the very statesmanlike approach that President Lee is following, and the prudent measures that he announced in his speech. No one is more concerned about the peace and stability in this region than the Chinese. We know this is a shared responsibility. And in the days ahead, we will work with the international community and our Chinese colleagues to fashion an effective and appropriate response. The consultations between China and the United States have started here in Beijing. They continue very closely, and we expect to be working together to resolve this matter.” (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “Remarks on the Closing of the U.S.-China Dialogue,” May 25, 2010)

North Korea announced that it is severing all relations with South Korea, heightening the risk of armed conflict and creating perhaps the most serious crisis on the Korean Peninsula in more than two decades. Kim’s government said it would cut communications with South Korea, close its waters and airspace to its neighbor and refuse any contact with it during the tenure of President Lee Myung-bak, a popular leader who has nearly three years left in office. It also said it would expel South Korean officials from the Kaesong Industrial Park, a joint North-South venture that is a major source of hard currency for Pyongyang. But the next morning, North Korea used a military hotline to approve the entry of South Korean workers into the Kaesong complex, according to the government in Seoul. The move raised the question of what North Korean leader Kim Jong-il stands to gain from infuriating the outside world and triggering sanctions that seem certain to deepen the misery of his people. Because North Korea has the world’s most secretive government, there is no definitive explanation for its apparently self-destructive actions. But there are revealing patterns in Kim’s behavior and how it is sold to his isolated citizenry. The North’s internal propaganda machine uses Kim’s defiance of the outside world to whip up nationalist fervor and to distract North Koreans from their increasingly grim circumstances. “The Kim Jong Il regime has no source of mass support except public pride in military strength,” said B.R. Myers, director of the international studies department at Dongseo University in Pusan, South Korea. “Acts of aggression are built into the North Korean system.” In the most recent act comparable to the sinking of the Cheonan, North Korean agents planted bombs in 1987 on a South Korean passenger jet. It exploded in flight, killing all 115 people on board. But Michael J. Green, a top adviser on Korea in the George W. Bush White House, said there is an important difference between the bombing of the plane and the sinking of the warship. He noted that now the North is mired in “the brittleness and desperation” of an internal succession process that is expected to shift power from Kim, who is 68 and ailing, to his third son, Kim Jong Eun, who is untested and 27 years old. Green also cited the “the danger that Pyongyang may now think it can use force with impunity backed by a nuclear deterrent.” (Blaine Harden, “North Korea Severs All Ties with the South,” Washington Post, May 26, 2010, p. A-1)

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner wrapped up extensive talks with Chinese officials At the second annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue without any significant progress on Iran, North Korea or other key issues dividing the countries. Asked Tuesday whether she had succeeded in pushing China to change its views, Clinton replied: “We had very productive and detailed discussions about North Korea. The Chinese understand the gravity of the situation.” China has increasingly shown its assertiveness on issues in Asia. That stance, along with the increasing tension between the Koreas, could benefit the U.S. strategic position across the region, analysts say, as countries such as Japan and South Korea draw closer to Washington as a hedge against China’s newfound strength. Even former U.S. enemies such as Vietnam and nonaligned states such as Malaysia, which for years had adopted a lukewarm view of the United States, have moved closer — in part because of China’s rise. The talks in Beijing occurred against a backdrop in Asia in which recent Chinese missteps and trouble between the Koreas appear to be benefiting the United States, halting what many in the region had viewed as a strategic slide in American influence. China reacted slowly to the sinking of the Cheonan, the South Korean warship, waiting almost a month before offering South Korea condolences. Then, without telling South Korea of its plans, it feted North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in early May, apparently offering him another large package of aid. China’s attitude enraged South Korean officials. But more important, according to Michael Green, a former National Security Council official who was in the region as the crisis unfolded, China’s attitude toward the attack served to underscore how differently China views the Korean Peninsula than those in South Korea or Japan. For China, keeping the Koreas separate is a foundation of its policy, he said, whereas for South Korea and even for many in Japan, a united, democratic Korea is the goal. “It is a defining moment,” he said. Chinese missteps with Japan and the crisis between the Koreas have also helped to push the Japanese government, which had been considering a foreign policy more independent from the United States, firmly back into the American orbit. On May 23, Prime Minister Hatoyama Yukio, who leads only the second opposition party to run Japan in nearly 50 years, announced he would accept a plan to relocate a U.S. Marine Corps base on Okinawa despite a campaign promise that the base should be moved out of Japan. A day later, Hatoyama said a key reason was the Korean trouble. But Chinese aggressiveness also played a role, Japanese officials said. In April, Chinese military helicopters twice buzzed Japanese defense ships that were monitoring Chinese naval exercises. And on May 15, during negotiations between Japan, South Korea and China, China’s foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, erupted at his Japanese counterpart, Katsuya Okada, after Okada suggested that China cut its nuclear arsenal. Yang almost left the talks in the South Korean city of Gyeongju, according to diplomatic sources, and screamed at Okada that his relatives had been killed by Japanese forces in northeastern China during Japan’s occupation of China during World War II. Okada was shocked, a Japanese official said. “He’s always been a peace lover,” the official said. “I guess the Chinese felt like yelling.”(John Pomfret, “U.S.-China Talks End without Accords on Key Issues, Washington Post, May 26, 2010, p. A-9)

Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea statement: “Traitor Lee Myung Bak of south Korea on Monday made public a ‘statement to the people’ over the case of the sinking of a warship of its puppet army, in which he viciously slandered the DPRK again. He formally announced a ban on the passage of DPRK’s ships through waters of the south side, ‘stop to trade and exchange between the south and the north,’ the exercise of ‘the right to self-defense”’and the reference of the case to the UNSC, daring vociferate about ‘responsibility’ and ‘apology.’ Then the chiefs of the puppet ministries of defense, foreign affairs and trade and unification called a joint press conference at which they ballyhooed about follow-up measures. This is little short of formally declaring that they would not rule out a war by standing in confrontation with the DPRK to the last. …The DPRK had already solemnly declared that it would regard the puppet group’s anti-DPRK smear campaign over the sinking of the warship as a declaration of a war against the DPRK and mete out a merciless and strong punishment if the group dare defile its dignity. The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, accordingly, formally declares that from now on it will put into force the resolute measures to totally freeze the inter-Korean relations, totally abrogate the agreement on non-aggression between the north and the south and completely halt the inter-Korean cooperation.In this connection, the following measures will be taken at the first phase: 1. All relations with the puppet authorities will be severed. 2. There will be neither dialogue nor contact between the authorities during Lee Myung Bak’s tenure of office. 3. The work of the Panmunjom Red Cross liaison representatives will be completely suspended. 4. All communication links between the north and the south will be cut off. 5. The Consultative Office for North-South Economic Cooperation in the Kaesong Industrial Zone will be frozen and dismantled and all the personnel concerned of the south side will be expelled without delay. 6. We will start all-out counterattack against the puppet group’s ‘psychological warfare against the north.’ 7. The passage of south Korean ships and airliners through the territorial waters and air of our side will be totally banned. 8. All the issues arising in the inter-Korean relations will be handled under a wartime law. There is no need to show any mercy or patience for such confrontation maniacs, sycophants and traitors and wicked warmongers as the Lee Myung Bak group. The Lee group’s call for ‘resolute measure’ is as a foolish and ridiculous suicidal act as jumping into fire with faggots on its back. The group is making a last-ditch effort in league with outsiders but will get nothing but its self-destruction.The army and the people of the DPRK and all other Koreans will never pardon the group of traitors as it is finally bringing the dark clouds of war to hang over the Korean Peninsula, wantonly violating the historic June 15 joint declaration and the October 4 declaration and bringing the inter-Korean relations to a total collapse.” (KCNA, “CPRK Declares Resolute Actrions against S. Korea,” May 26, 2010)


5/26/10:
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the international community should not turn a blind eye to North Korea’s deadly sinking of a South Korean warship, in an apparent attempt to pressure China which has been reluctant to punish the communist neighbor.
“The international independent investigation was objective, the evidence overwhelming, the conclusion inescapable,’ Clinton told a joint news conference with South Korean FM Yu Myung-hwan, referring to a five-nation joint investigation into the March sinking of the warship Cheonan. (Chang Jae-soon and Sam King, “Clinton Urges Intl Community to Respond to N. Korea’s Sinking of S. Korean Ship,” Yonhap, May 26, 2010)

Clinton: “Over the last week I have consulted with leaders in Japan and China, and we have stayed in close contact with our friends here in Seoul about the best way forward. We will be working together to chart a course of action in the United Nations Security Council, and I want to acknowledge Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s strong statement on this issue. The U.S. and South Korean militaries have announced plans for joint exercises, and we will explore further enhancements to our posture on the Peninsula, to ensure readiness, and to deter future attacks. The United States is also reviewing additional options and authorities to hold North Korea and its leaders accountable. We call on North Korea to halt its provocation and its policy of threats and belligerence toward its neighbors, and take steps now to fulfill its denuclearization commitments, and comply with international law.North Korea can still choose another path. Instead of isolation, poverty, conflict, and condemnation, North Korea could enjoy integration, prosperity, peace, and respect. Its people could finally experience a better life. We know this is possible. Here in South Korea we see it every day, the talent and creativity of the Korean people flourishing in a vibrant democracy. North Korea’s future depends on the choices that its leaders make today.” Q: … there have been past crises between North and South Korea, but that was before North Korea developed a nuclear capability. I am curious, particularly from Minister Yu, how North Korea’s nuclear capability kind of constrains how the U.S. and South Korea respond. YU: For the denuclearization of North Korea, for a long period of time — over seven years — we have made various efforts. However, unfortunately, North Korea has conducted nuclear tests twice. Regarding North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, we have not been able to verify those capabilities, so it is difficult for me to publicly make a statement on that. But with the Cheonan incident, I think the Cheonan incident will serve as an occasion to solve the nuclear issue, as well. The — and it’s not to bring North Korea back to the Six-Party Talks, per se, but to see progress in North Korea taking steps towards denuclearization. (DoS, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Joint Press Availability with Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan, May 26, 2010)

North Korea has completely cut off state food rations after China failed to supply the impoverished communist country with extra cereals, a welfare group said June 14. The ruling communist party announced in a directive on May 26 that there would be no state rations for a while, said South Korea’s Good Friends group which has contacts in the North. People were authorised to buy food supplies through private markets, it said, adding the directive was due to delayed shipments of food from China.”The directive was unavoidable” because China failed to send the aid which had been anticipated after leader Kim Jong-Il’s trip to Beijing in early May, group president Pomnyun, who uses just one name, told reporters. Private markets are now open around the clock across the North, he said. (AFP, “N. Korea Completely Cuts off State Rations: Aid Group,” June 14, 2010)

North Korea’s population totaled 23.34 million in 2008, with nearly 9 percent of its people over age 65, a South Korean state think tank said Wednesday, citing the results of the communist country’s latest census. The Korea Rural Economic Institute (KREI) said the 2008 North Korean census showed the population growing an average of 0.85 percent annually from 1993 through 2008, with 4.4 million people engaged in agriculture, forestry and fisheries activities. The institute said more than half of the population, or 12.2 million, worked directly for the government, state-operated corporations and agricultural cooperatives. The total number of people working in the public sector accounted for 70 percent of the 17.4 million people over age 16. The census showed about 3 million people were classified as retired, with 1 million engaged in homemaking activities. Of all people over the working age of 16, 79.5 percent of men were engaged in economic activities, with the percentage reaching 62.2 percent for women. KREI said that 8.7 percent of North Korea’s population, or 2.09 million people, were classified as senior citizens over 65 in 2008, up from just 1.14 million in 1993.The institute said the rise in the ratio of elderly people is due to a drop off in the number of young people. An average North Korea woman gave birth to 2.0 children in 2008 down from 2.1 in 1993, while mortality rate for infants and mothers dying while giving birth all rose. The infant mortality rate reached 1.9 percent in 2008 from 1.4 percent 15 years earlier, while the maternal mortality rate hit 7.7 percent for every 100,000 mothers giving birth, up from 5.4 percent in 1993.(Yonhap, “N. Korea’s Population Exceeds 23 Million: Census,” May 26, 2010)

The Defense Reform 2020 plan was initiated in 2005 by the liberal Roh Moo-hyun administration in pursuit of a “self-reliant” military that could deal with regional threats beyond defense against a North Korean invasion. The plan included reducing the number of standing troops and instead equipping the armed forces with advanced weapons systems by 2020 in stages. The Roh administration believed the level of North Korean threat would decrease gradually with the help of its engagement policy. Against that backdrop, the previous administration put more emphasis on developing a blue-water Navy and advanced Air Force, rather than strategies to deter North Korea’s conventional forces. But the situation has changed drastically, as the Cheonan tragedy reminded South Koreans that they are facing one of the most belligerent regimes in the world, defense experts say. “Last year’s revision of the original Defense Reform 2020 called for boosting a readiness against North Korea’s asymmetrical threats and its weapons of mass destruction. But the new version still ignored its conventional capabilities,” Cha Doo-hyeon, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA), told The Korea Times. “A case in point is a submarine attack as seen in the Cheonan sinking. So now we need a critical and comprehensive review of the defense reform plan to look at what are the real threats we’re facing now and then how can we readjust reform plans enough to thwart such threats.” Some analysts are worried that the reform plans would be too much focused on the North Korean threat to cope with emerging, regional threats in the long-term. “I’m worried that defense authorities will be in a hurry to come up with stop-gap measures, not envisioning long-term military development,” a former Navy admiral said, asking not to be named. “The best scenario is drawing up plans to deal with both North Korean and regional threats in the future. I hope the Defense Reform plan is readjusted and refocused in a more balanced manner.” Following the Cheonan incident, military authorities are seeking to readjust their operational and arms acquisition priorities, as the naval disaster revealed the lack of necessary equipment. For example, the Navy came under heavy fire for failing to swiftly respond to the incident. The service dispatched two minesweepers from the Southern Fleet command in Jinhae to the western waters to search for the wreckage, but the vessels arrived there nearly two days after the incident. A fishing boat equipped with a fish finding sonar found the sunken ship faster than the minesweepers. Critics said minesweeper helicopters could have sped up the search-and-rescue operation. On Tuesday, the Cabinet endorsed 35.2 billion won ($29 million) in supplementary funds to procure and maintain weapons systems and defense equipment. The supplementary budget is to be used to upgrade warship sonar, deploy sound surveillance systems for islands near the sea border and develop an indigenous three-dimensional radar system among others.The military also plans to buy minesweeper and anti-submarine helicopters. Potential helicopters include the Sikorsky MH-60S Knighthawk and AgustaWestland EH101. According to a Cheong Wa Dae source, President Lee has directed an increase in expenditure for weapons procurement to cope with North Korea’s irregular warfare.Lee apparently called for spending about 3 trillion won within his term, the source said. (Jung Sung-ki, “Defense Reform 2020 to Be Revised for N.K. Threat,” Korea Times, May 26, 2010)

PM Hatoyama Yukio was facing open rebellion in his coalition over the Futenma issue, and the possibility of it splintering if efforts fail to heal the rift with Fukushima Mizuho, who leads the Social Democratic Party. Fukushima, whose Cabinet portfolios cover consumer affairs and the declining birthrate, visited Okinawa Prefecture today and met with Governor Hirokazu Nakaima. During the meeting, Fukushima said, “The will of the people of Okinawa is clear. Constructing a U.S. base off the coast of Henoko absolutely cannot be allowed.” A Democratic Party of Japan official said the SDP’s cooperation would be needed if the party was to win in single-member prefectural districts in this summer’s Upper House election. Other government officials were also hinting at a separate document on the Futenma relocation for Cabinet approval. The government plans to have Foreign Minister Okada Katsuya and Defense Minister Kitazawa Toshimi release a joint statement with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Pentagon chief Robert M. Gates on the Futenma relocation this month. The document that would be submitted for Cabinet approval could be different by not including a specific site for the transfer of Futenma functions. There is precedent for such a move. When the Liberal Democratic Party held power, it reached agreement with the United States in 2006 to move Futenma’s functions to a runway off the Henoko coast built on landfill. That required the preparation of two different documents. (Asahi Shimbun, “Ruling Coalition Standoff on Futenma,” May 26, 2010)

China may soon abandon its cautious neutrality and join the international condemnation of North Korea’s role in sinking a South Korean warship, senior American officials said. Speaking after strategic talks this week in Beijing, the U.S. officials predicted that China will gradually endorse the view that North Korea should be held accountable for the March 26 torpedo attack. On a visit to South Korea this weekend, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is likely to express regret for the deaths of 46 South Korean sailors in the incident and signal that China will accept the results of an international investigation blaming North Korea, the U.S. officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the discussions with China. Wen is also expected to leave open the possibility of backing action against Pyongyang at the U.N. Security Council, although it’s not clear how far Beijing is prepared to go in rebuking its historic ally. (Matthew Lee, “China Could Join Moves to Sanction North Korea,” Associated Press, May 27, 2010)

North Korea threw out eight South Korean government officials from their joint venture in Kaesong in a stern response to Seoul’s move to punish the communist state for the deadly sinking of a naval warship. Taking steps to its declaration on Tuesday that it would sever all ties with South Korea, Pyongyang also threatened to completely shut down the joint industrial park in Kaesong just north of the border should Seoul resume its propaganda warfare. “If the south side sets up even loudspeakers in the frontline area to resume the broadcasting, in particular, the KPA (North Korean army) will take military steps to blow them up one by one the moment they appear by firing sighting shots,” an unnamed North Korean military chief said in a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency. North Korea also notified that it was cutting off the hotline with South Korea at their truce village and their maritime communication links, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said. (Shin Hae-in, “N.K. Expels 8 Seoul Officials from Kaesong Park,” Korea Herald, May 26, 2010)


5/27/10:
The General Staff of the Korean People’s Army issued the following crucial notice: “The top-class servants of the puppet ministries of Defense, Unification and Foreign Affairs and Trade buckled down all at once to putting into practice the scenario for confrontation with fellow countrymen already worked out by them after traitor Lee Myung Bak declared it as a ‘state policy’ to escalate all-out confrontation with the DPRK in his May 24 ‘statement to the people.’ Such movement of the group of traitors is an act of totally scrapping the historic June 15 joint declaration and the October 4 declaration, the program for implementing it, gains common to the nation, and a hideous criminal act of driving the north-south relations to the state of war.As the group of traitors dared preempt all-out confrontation with the DPRK, the KPA General Staff informs it in strong terms that the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will put into practice crucial measures to cope with such action. 1. The KPA will retract all measures for providing military guarantees for the north-south cooperation and exchange.It will start examining the closure of the military communications liaison offices in the eastern and western coastal areas and the total suspension of the overland passage concerning the Kaesong Industrial Zone, etc. for the present.2. As for the anti-DPRK psychological campaign which the puppet military is set to resume, merciless counteractions will be taken throughout the frontline areas as the commander of the forces of the KPA in the central sector of the front had already warned the enemy side. 3. Bilateral agreements concluded to prevent accidental conflicts in the West Sea of Korea will be declared completely null and void. In this connection the use of international maritime ultra-shortwave walkie-talkie will be banned and the communications line which has been in service to handle an emergency situation be immediately cut off. 4. The KPA will make a prompt physical strike at the intrusion into the extension of the Military Demarcation Line under our side’s control in the West Sea of Korea. 5. It will totally ban the passage of warships, airplanes and other means of transportation of the group of traitors through the territorial waters, air and land of the DPRK. 6. It will strictly ban the entry of the group of traitors including the puppet authorities into the DPRK. 7. It will probe the truth about the ‘fabrication’ and ‘charade’ to the last as long as the group of traitors persistently refuses to receive the inspection group of the DPRK National Defense Commission. The above-said steps are the first-phase reaction of the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK to the reckless moves of the group of traitors, confrontation maniacs, sycophants and quislings to escalate the showdown with it. The group will come to keenly realize what dear price it will have to pay for having completely scrapped the June 15 joint declaration and the October 4 declaration. (KCNA, “General Staff of the KPA Issues Crucial Notice,” May 27, 2010)

Obama administration officials have dubbed their policy toward North Korea “strategic patience” — a resolve that Pyongyang has to make the first move to reengage and that it won’t be granted any concessions. Now that patience is going to be tested. When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stopped in Seoul on Wednesday to meet with President Lee Myung-bak and other officials, Lee’s spokesman said, she reaffirmed the policy of strategic patience. Officials traveling with Clinton said efforts to restart long-dormant nuclear disarmament talks had been put on hold. “What we’re focused on is changing North Korean behavior,” one senior U.S. official said. “We are not focused on getting back to the table.” “We recognize that diplomacy, some form of diplomacy with North Korea, is inevitable at some point,” another official said. “We’re really not there.” Analysts worry, though, that the administration’s policy allows North Korea to set the agenda. The United States and its allies are constantly reacting to Pyongyang’s actions and, partly as a result, have little opportunity to reduce tensions or bolster diplomatic efforts. The administration is “all about resolve. We want North Korea to know they can’t jerk us around again,” said Susan Shirk, a former Clinton administration official who is director of the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation and a professor at the University of California at San Diego. “The problem with it is, how do you credibly convince them that if they did something positive, we would be prepared to engage?” Still, L. Gordon Flake, a Korea expert who is executive director of the Mansfield Foundation in Washington, said the administration and the current South Korean government “have displayed remarkable adherence to their core principles in dealing with North Korea. There is a consistency you have not seen before.” But “looking forward, I’m a bit concerned,” he said. “It leads down a road where the diplomatic options are increasingly constrained. Strategic patience is a solid policy, but what if North Korea is not patient?” The lesson may be that the United States ignores North Korea at its peril. “The problem is that North Korea won’t let you put them on a back burner,” Shirk said. (Glenn Kessler, “Analysts: North Korea Tests U.S. Policy of ‘Strategic Patience,’” Washington Post, May 27, 2010, op. A-12)

South Korea heightened vigilance for additional military provocations from North Korea and began an antisubmarine drill, a week after announcing that the North torpedoed its warship in March. The antisubmarine exercise took place off Taean in central South Chungcheong Province. in the West Sea and was the first naval exercise since the Cheonan sank near the inter-Korean sea border two months ago. A 3,500-ton destroyer, three 1,200-ton patrol ships and six high-speed boats were deployed in the drill during which soldiers practiced dropping antisubmarine bombs and firing artillery shells, according to an officer at the Navy Second Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek. Seoul yesterday raised the level of WATCHCON, an alert state system used by and coordinated between South Korea and the U.S. to measure reconnaissance posture, from WATCHCON 3 to WATCHCON 2, which is in effect amidst “indications of a vital threat.” WATCHCON 1 is in effect during wartime. “We are on full alert for unusual military movements,” Defense Minister Kim Tae-young told a group of senior journalists today. “We have not detected any serious, major movements of North Korean troops so far” since the South prohibited North Korean vessels from passing through South Korean waters and resumed anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts along the border as punitive measures for the Cheonan attack. (Kim So-hyun, “Seoul Launches Antisub Drills, Raises Vigilance,” Korea Herald, May 27, 2010)

South Korea plans to bring North Korea’s sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan in March to the U.N. Security Council ”at the earliest possible date,” the South Korean foreign ministry spokesman told a press briefing Thursday. “We are holding the basic view (the ship sinking) should be referred to the U.N. Security Council at the earliest possible date,”’ Kim Young Sun said. (Kyodo, “S. Korea May Seek U.N. Action on Sunken Ship as Early as Next Week,” May 27, 2010)

South Korea’s presidential office said Thursday it will decide the timing and scale of widely expected changes in military leadership, depending on the results of an ongoing state audit into its handling of the March sinking of a South Korean naval ship. It was a rebuttal to media reports that President Lee Myung-bak plans to replace many military commanders soon after the June 2 local elections, holding them responsible for a sloppy response to the Cheonan incident. (Yonhap, “S. Korea Mulls Shakeup of Military Leadership over Ship Sinking,” May 27, 2010)

North Korea said it is withdrawing all its military safeguards with South Korea, including a pact aimed at preventing clashes off their west coast, amid boiling tension between the sides after Seoul blamed Pyongyang for the sinking of its warship. The announcement by the North’s general staff heightens the risk of a conflict on the divided peninsula, where the communist state has warned of an all-out war against any punishment for the sinking. “The (North Korean military) will retract all measures for providing military guarantees for the north-south cooperation and exchange,” the North said in a statement. It also warned of “a prompt physical strike at the intrusion into the extension of the Military Demarcation Line under our side’s control in the West Sea of Korea.” The general chiefs of staff added its army will “mercilessly respond” if Seoul resumes its anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts along the heavily armed border after a six-year hiatus. In apparent retaliation for the ban the South imposed on North Korean commercial ships and airplanes from its territory, the North said it will carry out a similar measure against the South.The staff also said it is “immediately” cutting off its hot lines that have been used for emergency situations while shutting down military liaison offices on both sides of the peninsula. (Sam Kim, “North Korea Says It Is Retracting All Military Safeguards with S. Korea,”Bloomberg News, May 27, 2010)

Between 70 and 80 percent of North Korea’s submarine fleet is stationed along the eastern coast, where four shark-class submarines disappeared recently from South Korean radars. Compared to the shallow waters of the West Sea, conditions in the East Sea are so favorable to submarines that it has been referred to as a “paradise” for them. North Korea has around 70 submarines — 20 Romeo-class subs weighing 1,800 tons, 40 shark-class subs (325 tons) and 10 salmon-class subs (130 tons). A Salmon-class sub is believed to be responsible for sinking the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan. There are four North Korean submarine bases along the east coast, including Chaho Base where the four shark-class subs that vanished are stationed, as well as Mayangdo, Toejo and Wonsan, all in South Hamgyong Province. Chaho and Mayangdo are the main bases. Chaho is equipped with a cave to protect submarines from aerial attacks as well as a canal that can transport submarines faster to the ocean. (Chosun Ilbo, “N. Korea Subs Ply East Sea with Impunity,” May 27, 2010)

When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday declared America’s solidarity with South Korea in its mounting confrontation with North Korea, she had more than a domestic audience in mind: she was also speaking to the Chinese. “We believe it’s in everyone’s interest, including China, to make a persuasive case for North Korea to change direction,” Clinton said after meeting South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak. She implored the Chinese to study the 400-page South Korean government report that concluded that the North torpedoed a South Korean warship in March, killing 46 sailors. And she promoted a visit to Seoul tomorrow by the Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao, which American officials hope will open the door for Beijing’s support of a United Nations resolution condemning the attack. The American effort to muster Chinese backing for South Korea is emerging as a test case for how the Obama administration handles China, a nation that is more assertive on the world stage, yet possessed of some of the same insecurities and internal divisions that have long preoccupied its leaders. While China’s decision-making on core foreign policy issues tends to be secretive, American officials said they had picked up hints that there was some disagreement within the leadership about how to respond to North Korea’s behavior, pitting civilian party leaders against the military. The debate surfaced last year after North Korea tested a nuclear device, American officials said, and has accelerated since the attack on the South Korean ship, the Cheonan. Chinese civilian leaders have expressed growing puzzlement and anger about the North’s behavior, these officials said, while military officials tend to see the North’s moves as more defensible given the threat North Korea perceives from the United States. China and North Korea, onetime ideological allies, conduct their relations through their ruling parties. But the two militaries, which fought together against the United States and South Korea during the Korean War, have their own close ties. “There is profound frustration with North Korean behavior and with the way in which it complicates China’s own security calculations,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly. Clinton also pushed hard to change China’s aloof posture on the Korean standoff. She spent many hours in meetings with Chinese leaders, going over the fine points of the South Korean report and brandishing other evidence of the North’s involvement. Given China’s reluctance to single out North Korea, officials said it was unrealistic to expect that Mrs. Clinton could break down their resistance in a couple of days. That is likely to take days or even weeks of talks. Meanwhile, the United States signaled that it stood firmly behind President Lee, a former business executive who has the difficult task of responding to North Korea’s attack without allowing the situation to spiral out of control. Mrs. Clinton described him several times as statesmanlike. “We will stand with you in this difficult hour, and we stand with you always,” Mrs. Clinton said during a four-hour stop in Seoul. (Mark Landler, “U.S. Stands with an Ally, Eager for China to Join the Line,” New York Times, May 27, 2010, p. A-8)


5/28/10:
PM Wen Jiabao told South Korean President Lee Myung-bak that his government will not “defend” anyone responsible for the sinking of a South Korean warship in March, Lee’s spokesman said. Wen, however, also said Beijing has yet to decide whether to accept a South Korea-led multinational investigation’s findings that blamed North Korea for a torpedo attack on March 26 tragedy that left 46 sailors dead, according to Lee Dong-kwan, senior secretary at the presidential office, Cheong Wa Dae. “The Chinese government will decide its position by objectively and fairly judging what is right and wrong about the incident while respecting the international probe and responses to it by each nation,” Wen was quoted as saying. (Lee Chi-dong, “Wen Says China Will Not Defend Anyone Responsible for S. Korean Ship Sinking: Cheong Wa Dae,” Yonhap, May 28, 2010) “The Chinese government will seriously review the results of the international probe and from countries concerned, and in accordance with the outcome, China will not protect anyone,” Wen was quoted as telling Lee. Wen said China has made efforts for peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and opposes and censures any kind of acts that can destroy this. President Lee called for China’s active role in addressing the Cheonan incident which claimed the lives of 46 sailors, the secretary said. “The President stressed that we have to employ a new method to lead North Korea to another path. He asked that China play an active role in making Pyongyang admit its wrongdoing,” the aide said. If Pyongyang goes unpunished again, it will think it can get away with anything whenever it does something wrong, the President said. (Jung Sung-ki, “China Will Not Protect Those behind Ship Sinking,” Korea Times, May 28, 2010) “China and Korea have established a strategic, cooperative partnership, built on political trust and continued communication on the North Korean nuclear issue,” Wen said before entering talks with Lee and other Korean officials. “The two countries have worked together in responding to international issues. We will make joint efforts with Korea to further develop the strategic, cooperative partnership.” (Kim So-hyun, “China Won’t Defend Anyone: Wen,” Korea Herald, May 28, 2010)

KCNA: “The National Defense Commission of the DPRK held a press conference at the People’s Palace of Culture today denouncing the Lee Myung Bak group of traitors of South Korea for having recently kicked off a racket of confrontation with the DPRK after groundlessly linking the case of the sinking of warship Cheonan with it. … Maj. General of the Korean People’s Army Pak Rim Su, director of the Policy Department of the NDC, spoke at the press conference. Referring to the fact that the situation created after the case of warship Cheonan cooked up by the group of traitors is so grave that a war may break out anytime, he stressed that any accidental clash that may break out in the waters of the West Sea of Korea or in areas along the Demilitarized Zone will lead to an all-out war. The South Korean puppet authorities persistently refused the field inspection, unilaterally insisting on the forged ‘results of investigation’ out of guilty conscience, he noted. He disclosed the truth behind the case as follows: The case of the warship sinking is a fabrication and charade orchestrated by the South Korean puppet authorities from A to Z. First, we can say this because the ‘scientific investigation’ and ‘objective investigation’ touted by the South Korean authorities were nonsensical. To begin with, the ‘team for investigation’ was formed in such a way that it could not make a scientific and objective investigation, and this is clear from the fact that the South Korean military supervised the investigation. It is as clear as noonday that in what direction its results were worked out because the investigation was supervised by those who should be tried for being chief culprits of the case. The ‘international joint investigation team’ was also made up of those countries which were not in a position to conduct an objective investigation. The United States was included in it. The U.S. is in the hostile relationship with the DPRK as it is still technically at war with it, and countries including Britain, Australia and Canada which joined the team are also those countries which participated in the Korean war by toeing the U.S. line and are now cooperating with the south Korean authorities. Clear is which party the members of the team from those countries would side with and what conclusion they would make. The same is the case with the ‘civilian and military joint investigation team.’ It raked up its brain to link ‘the material evidence’ produced with the DPRK after supporting the story about “the north’s involvement” the South Korean authorities spread before the results of investigation were announced. It was reported that civilians involved in the investigation team were hindered in their movements, leading a prison life aboard the warship ‘Tokdo’ of the South Korean navy, because they had been strictly isolated from the outside since the start of investigation. They were barred from taking part in the major investigation. No wonder, some were expelled from the investigation team for the mere reason that they made assertions contrary to the stand of the ‘Ministry of Defense’ and even they were prosecuted for them. The course in which the results of investigation changed several times and they were fabricated to gradually focus on the story about ‘a torpedo attack of the north’ goes to prove that the investigation was unscientific and nonobjective. The time and place the sinking occurred changed several times. At first, it was stated that the case took place at 21: 45 and then it was corrected as 21:16, changing the time several times. The south side said that the warship was sunken near Baekryong Islet with lots of rocks, but later corrected that the place was changed into other place without rocks. It cannot be construed otherwise than intentional changes to draw a conclusion that the case was not an accident caused when the warship ran against rocks. The announcement of the stand on the question as to whether there was ‘outside provocation’ or not was also repeatedly changed. The captain of the warship Cheonan who can be called irrefutable eyewitness said at first that ‘there was not outside provocation at all.’ But, finally he said ‘there was outside provocation.’ The puppet military said at first that ‘there was no ground whatsoever to say it was an attack from the north.’But, finally it changed its stand by saying that ‘the warship was sunken by a torpedo attack of the north.’It claimed there was no eyewitness who saw the column of water rising during the warship explosion, even among survivors of the warship. But later, it made a guard on Paekryong Islet far away from the waters where the ship sank state that he saw the white column of water 100m high in the pitch-dark. This was also a dastardly farce orchestrated by the group of traitors to link the case with the DPRK. There is a lot of evidence to prove it. The DPRK, therefore, categorically turns down and totally refutes the ‘results of investigation’ announced by the south side. Second, a scrutiny into the ‘evidence’ produced by the South Korean authorities makes it easy to guess that the story about ‘a torpedo attack of the north’ is a sheer fabrication. Senior Colonel of the KPA Ri Son Gwon, official of the Policy Department of the NDC, with the help of a visual aid analyzed ‘pieces of evidence’ produced by the south side one by one. He cited facts to scientifically prove that they were nothing but a sheer fabrication. Pak said there is the need to think over which side of both the north and the south got benefit from such case of warship sinking. He went on to say: The entire army and all the people of the DPRK are all out to bring about great innovations and leap forward in building a thriving nation in 2012, the historic year. Is there any reason for the DPRK to attack such South Korean patrol ship because it is channeling all its efforts into attaining the above-said gigantic goal? It was only the group of traitors that required such shocking case, he noted, laying bare its ulterior intention as follows: The case was needed by the group to justify its anti-DPRK moves. The policy of the present South Korean government is, in a word, to totally deny the policy of reconciliation, unity, cooperation and exchange which was followed in the past. Furthermore, it is aimed to totally scrap the historic June 15 joint declaration and the October 4 declaration, the program for implementing it. This policy brought the inter-Korean relations to the brink of a war. The resistance of the South Korean public against it has reached the point of explosion. Precisely for this reason, the South Korean authorities needed the case of the warship sinking by ‘a torpedo attack of the north’ in a bid to spread among the South Korean people the conception that the DPRK is the ‘princpal enemy,’ not fellow countrymen. Next, the case was needed to justify the South Korean authorities’ foreign policy put in a crisis. Under the existing agreement reached between the United States and south Korea, the ‘right to command wartime operations’ is to be transferred to south Korea in 2012. If this happens, the U.S. forces will be deprived of any justification to stay in South Korea. This would deal a telling blow at the South Korean authorities as they regard the ‘South Korea-U.S. alliance almighty’ as the core of their foreign policy. For this reason, the South Korean authorities cooked up the fiction that the warship was sunken by ‘an armed attack’ of the DPRK in a bid to hype such ‘security uneasines’” that a war may break out on the Korean Peninsula any time. The case was also needed to rally the conservative forces in South Korea. The South Korean conservative ruling forces are now torn apart. This cannot but be a cause of anxiety for the present South Korean authorities. So, they floated the story that the warship was sunken by ‘a torpedo attack of the north’ in a bid to stir up confrontation with the DPRK and rally the conservative forces. The above-said case was also required to win in the forthcoming elections to local self-governing bodies. The puppet authorities egged the military warmongers on to groundlessly link the case with the DPRK in an effort to strain the situation and stoke the confrontation with it for the purpose of creating a phase favorable for winning in the elections. For the present, the farce was needed to evade their responsibility for the case. It is quite evident that in case the sinking of the warship is confirmed to be caused by stranding from self-carelessness or the ‘aging’ of the warship, the blame for it will rest with the commander-in-chief of the puppet armed forces and military bosses. The group of traitors can prolong their remaining days only when it fakes up the conclusion that the warship was caused by the attack of the DPRK. The noisy racket of confrontation with the DPRK kicked up by the group over the sinking of Cheonan is nothing but an act of precipitating its self-destruction as it is an undisguised declaration of a war against the DPRK and a hideous criminal act of driving the inter-Korean relations to the state of war. The DPRK has so far bolstered up its nuclear deterrent under the banner of songun [military-first] for the purpose of coping with such present acute situation. Its powerful physical means including nuclear weapons are not to be on display or to be stockpiled. Now is the time for the DPRK to demonstrate the mettle of its revolutionary armed forces. How the situation will develop entirely depends on the attitude of the group of traitors. Upon the authorization of the National Defense Commission of the DPRK, Pak once again notified the participants of the important steps taken by the KPA. And he solemnly clarified the principled stand of the army and people of the DPRK to strongly retaliate against the frantic actions of the group of traitors to do harm to the dignified DPRK.” (KCNA, “Press Conference on Case of Cheonan Sinking Held,” May 28. 2010)

North Korea is exporting nuclear and ballistic missile technology and using multiple intermediaries, shell companies and overseas criminal networks to circumvent U.N. sanctions, U.N. experts said in a report obtained by The Associated Press. The seven-member panel monitoring the implementation of sanctions against North Korea said its research indicates that Pyongyang is involved in banned nuclear and ballistic activities in Iran, Syria and Myanmar. It called for further study of these suspected activities and urged all countries to try to prevent them. The 47-page report, obtained late Thursday by AP, and a lengthy annex document sanctions violations reported by U.N. member states, including four cases involving arms exports and two seizures of luxury goods by Italy – two yachts and high-end recording and video equipment. The report also details the broad range of techniques that North Korea is using to try to evade sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council after its two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. The experts said an analysis of the four North Korean attempts to illegally export arms revealed that Pyongyang used “a number of masking techniques” to avoid sanctions. They include providing false descriptions and mislabeling of the contents of shipping containers, falsifying the manifest and information about the origin and destination of the goods, “and use of multiple layers of intermediaries, shell companies, and financial institutions,” the panel said. It noted that a chartered jet intercepted in Thailand in December carrying 35 tons of conventional weapons including surface-to-air missiles from North Korea was owned by a company in the United Arab Emirates, registered in Georgia, leased to a shell company registered in New Zealand and then chartered to another shell company registered in Hong Kong – which may have been an attempt to mask its destination. North Korea is also concealing arms exports by shipping components in kits for assembly overseas, the experts said. As one example, the panel said it learned after North Korean military equipment was seized at Durban harbor in South Africa that scores of technicians from the North had gone to the Republic of Congo, where the equipment was to have been assembled. The experts said an analysis of the four North Korean attempts to illegally export arms revealed that Pyongyang used “a number of masking techniques” to avoid sanctions. They include providing false descriptions and mislabeling of the contents of shipping containers, falsifying the manifest and information about the origin and destination of the goods, “and use of multiple layers of intermediaries, shell companies, and financial institutions,” the panel said. It noted that a chartered jet intercepted in Thailand in December carrying 35 tons of conventional weapons including surface-to-air missiles from North Korea was owned by a company in the United Arab Emirates, registered in Georgia, leased to a shell company registered in New Zealand and then chartered to another shell company registered in Hong Kong – which may have been an attempt to mask its destination. North Korea is also concealing arms exports by shipping components in kits for assembly overseas, the experts said. As one example, the panel said it learned after North Korean military equipment was seized at Durban harbor in South Africa that scores of technicians from the North had gone to the Republic of Congo, where the equipment was to have been assembled. (Edith Lederer, “U.N. Experts Say N. Korea Is Exporting Nuke Technology,” Associated Press, May 28, 2010)

The National Security Strategy lays out multiple avenues to isolate North Korea and force it to abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions. “If the socialist country ignores its international obligations, we will pursue multiple means to increase its isolation and bring it into compliance with international nonproliferation norms,” the report released by the Obama administration said. “The nation faces a clear choice. If North Korea eliminates its nuclear weapons program, it will be able to proceed on a path to greater political and economic integration with the international community.” The report, mandated by Congress, emphasized the shift in national security strategy to multilateralism through diplomacy, a departure from the Bush administration’s unilateralism allowing preemptive war, but it did not elaborate on the multiple means.
“The United States will pursue the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” it said. “This is not about singling out nations — it is about the responsibilities of all nations and the success of the nonproliferation regime.” (Yonhap, “U.S. to Use Multiple Means for N. Korea’s Denuclearization: White House, May 27, 2010)

China “always opposes and condemns any acts detrimental to peace and stability on the peninsula,” Wen said, according to the official New China News Agency. He added that Beijing “takes serious note of the results of a joint investigation by South Korea and other countries, as well as the reactions of all parties.” Still, Wen signaled a shift in position by not simply supporting North Korea and by telling Lee that China would not defend anyone responsible for the sinking of the 1,200-ton Cheonan. “It is a modest shift, but a pretty disappointing one,” said Michael J. Green, a top adviser on North Korea in President George W. Bush’s administration. Green said that among China’s leaders, Wen is one of the most sympathetic to South Korea’s position and that his remarks indicate that China ultimately would support a U.N. resolution — but “will do everything to water it down” and press for a return to negotiations. He noted that “Beijing never before has been under such pressure to choose between North and South,” which is a major trading partner. Russia announced this week that it will send a team of experts to examine evidence gathered by investigators. South Korean officials said they think that Russia is likely to accept their findings. China has made no similar commitment to send its scientists to look at the evidence. But South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan said in an interview Friday that it is his “expectation” that such a commitment will be made after officials “consult with the Chinese a bit more.” Yu said South Korea needs to move carefully in dealing with China on the ship incident, nudging Beijing to accept the “facts” of the investigation without derailing “very good relations” between the two countries. “I don’t want to push them,” Yu said. China is South Korea’s most important trading partner, the primary focus of its foreign investment and its leading tourist destination. About 5 million people travel between the two countries every year. Yu said his government understands that the warship’s sinking has pushed Beijing into an awkward corner. “China has a very special linkage and interest” in North Korea, Yu said. “So I presume that it is not that easy to ignore the North Koreans’ appeal to support their position.” “If China will do anything, it will be done in a very quiet manner,” Yu said. “China will never say in public what they are going to do.” (Blaine Harden, “China Toughens Stance toward North Korea, But Doesn’t Back Sanctions,” Washington Post, May 29, 2010, p A-12)

DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman’s statement: “Recently the U.S. secretary of State let loose a spate of sheer lies to brand the DPRK as the chief culprit of the warship sinking during her junkets to Japan, China and south Korea. But a scrutiny into who is to benefit from the “story about a torpedo attack by north Korea” and what will be gained from it makes it clear that the case was orchestrated by the U.S. and the south Korean authorities. Firstly, the Obama administration is using the recent case for orchestrating with utmost efforts a farce to make it appear “strong” with the Congress mid-term election slated for coming November at hand as it was known to be weak externally in the first year of its administration. Secondly, the U.S. hyped the “threat from north Korea” to sound real, finally making the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, which had been keen to drive the U.S. forces out of Okinawa, yield to it. This is the reason why the “results of investigation” were announced within May. Thirdly, the U.S. has come to justify its policy of “strategic patience” designed to degrade the environment for international investment in the DPRK and steadily suffocate its economy. Fourthly, it became possible for the U.S. to put China into an awkward position and keep hold on Japan and south Korea as its servants. The truth remains unchanged though the U.S. sticks to its own opinion. The U.S. is blustering that it would refer the said case to the UNSC, but the UNSC is the very forum which had already been besmirched due to Powell’s lies about Iraq in February 2003. The U.S., branding the case as a “breach of the Armistice Agreement,” instigated the south Korean authorities to spread the assertion that the case should be discussed at the ‘Military Armistice Commission’ (MAC). This is also a self-contradiction. As far as the AA is concerned, it was reduced to a dead document long ago due to the U.S. The MAC has been defunct since the U.S. unilaterally recalled the senior member of the “UN Forces” side and replaced him with a ‘general’ of the south Korean puppet army, not a signatory to the AA. As the MAC exists only in name, the U.S. government made a conclusion that the case is a ‘violation of the AA’ before the ‘UN Forces’ side of the MAC announced that it would make an investigation into the violation. Irony is that the U.S. secretary of State is vociferating about the AA, though she does not know in what shape the AA is. … The U.S. is seriously mistaken if it thinks it can occupy the Korean Peninsula just as it did Iraq with sheer lies. If the UNSC is again taken in by U.S. lies and tables the ‘results of investigation’ into the ‘Cheonan’ warship and discusses them, then this will mean that the UNSC is misused for encroaching upon the dignity of the Korean people and the sovereignty of the DPRK. In case the DPRK takes toughest self-defensive counter-measures as already declared, the U.S. and its servants will be wholly to blame for their consequences.” KCNA, “FM Accuses U.S. of Creating Atmosphere of International Pressure,” May 28, 2010)

China has put forth a new mediation offer regarding the Cheonan. A diplomatic source who requested anonymity said that China had proposed to the U.S. to conduct a joint investigation with the participation of the UN Command, China and North Korea. The source said China made the offer last week through its UN delegation in New York, and that the offer called for convening the UN Command’s Military Armistice Commission, which has lost its function over time. The U.S. and China reportedly informed the South Korean government of the offer through the UN Command’s special investigation team for the Cheonan sinking following some final adjustments during China-U.S. strategic and economic talks in Beijing from May 24 to 25.In response, the UN Command special investigation team told the South Korean government that they will ask China’s People’s Liberation Army to rejoin the Military Armistice Commission, and will request the North Korean People’s Army also send representatives to the Joint Observer Team. The UN Special Investigation Team also reportedly stressed the need to resolve the Cheonan incident through dialogue. The UN Command Military Armistice Commission composed a special investigation team on May 22 to look into the cause of the Cheonan sinking. (Hankyore, “China Proposes U.N. Military Armistice Commission Convene for Reinvestigation into Cheonan,” May 29, 2010)

As pressure tightens on North Korea to come clean on its attack on a South Korean warship, the exit strategy for Pyongyang’s idolized leader, Kim Jong-il, may be lying in the words of his foes — or in the absence of words directly placing blame on him. Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea professor at the Dongguk University, said the only way for Pyongyang to survive the crisis would be for its 68-year-old leader to have the courage to say, “I did not know.” He said, “That would be the most rational face-saving measure for Kim.” Koh said if North Korea chose to admit to its responsibility, it would likely blame a military unit that harbored a grudge for a naval defeat off the west coast in November last year. Room for such a maneuver opened when South Korean President Lee Myung-bak made a nationally televised address last week, refraining from directly criticizing Kim Jong-il. His aides said the name of the North Korean leader was absent from the text on purpose. The restraint was shared by the U.S. when its top diplomat, Hillary Clinton, visited Seoul earlier this week and said her country is considering “additional options and authorities to hold North Korea and its leaders accountable.” “The plurality in describing the North Korean leadership is a shrewd diplomatic move that allows the North room to breathe and think,” Kim Hong-kyu, a scholar at the state-run Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security. “South Korea and the U.S. are leaving open a retreat route for Kim,” he said, a view shared by Lee Sin-hwa, an international relations expert at Korea University in Seoul. “Clinton’s remarks appear to be in line with President Lee’s,” she said, adding the North could seize on the chance to find a scapegoat for the Cheonan sinking. In his routine briefing on May 26, South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung hinted at a step the North could take to start defusing tension along their border. “When North Korea should apologize and prosecute those responsible (for the sinking,) it has again taken measures undermining inter-Korean relations,” Chun said as he expressed regrets for Pyongyang severing all ties with Seoul. “There’s the answer,” Lee, the analyst, said. (Sam Kim, “N. Korea’s Exit Strategy May Be Hidden in Foe’s Words,” Yonhap, May 28, 2010)

Sigal op-ed: “For the past year, the Obama administration pursued a policy of ‘strategic patience’ toward North Korea in the erroneous belief that sanctions would make Pyongyang more pliable. Instead of scuttling that policy in the wake of North Korea’s deadly attack on the South Korean naval warship Cheonan, the administration is now raising the stakes by supporting South Korea’s efforts to punish North Korea with more sanctions and to adopt ‘proactive deterrence.’Yet punishment, even if justifiable, will not prevent another Cheonan any more than it has stopped North Korea from making more nuclear weapons. Worse, blockading North Korean shipping, stepping up naval patrols, and threatening to preempt militarily risks more firefights. Only negotiations might avert dangerous escalation. The Cheonan attack was the latest test of wills between North and South over Korea’s contested territorial waters. At the end of the Korean War, a sea boundary was unilaterally imposed north of the Military Demarcation Line on land. That Northern Limit Line is not recognized internationally and has long been rejected by the North. In 2007, the South signed a wide-ranging accord with North Korea’s Kim Jong Il that sidestepped the issue of the maritime border but pledged “to discuss ways of designating a joint fishing area in the West [Yellow] Sea to avoid accidental clashes and turning it into a peace area and also to discuss measures to build military confidence.’’ Within days of Lee Myung Bak’s election as president two months later, his transition team backed away from the summit accord.North Korea’s response was to build up its artillery near the boundary. It also accused South Korea of violating its territory in the West Sea, and launched short-range missiles into the contested area, a provocative reminder of the risks of leaving the issue unresolved. At the same time, Pyongyang urged that the armistice agreement be replaced with a permanent peace treaty as part of six-party talks on denuclearization, a step Seoul resisted. Throughout 2009 a war of words escalated, and on Nov. 9 the two navies exchanged hostile fire. After a North Korean patrol boat crossed the Northern Limit Line, the South fired warning shots. The North returned fire and the South fired some 50 rounds, crippling the vessel and causing an unknown number of casualties. The North Korean high command demanded an apology from the South, which did not respond. Amid media talk about avenging the attack, on November 26, by North Korean accounts, Kim Jong Il ordered his high command to train a “do-or-die unit of sea heroes.’’ His November order was executed with the March 26 attack on the Cheonan. Many officials in Seoul are still determined to show who is boss on the Korean peninsula. Unfortunately, that is North Korea’s game, one it plays all too brutally. Punitive action has been met tit-for-tat by the North in the past. Recall that Pyongyang’s reaction to Security Council sanctions in July 2006 for its missile tests was to conduct a nuclear test. Its response to tougher UN sanctions in June 2009 for its second nuclear test was to reprocess more plutonium. In reaction to new sanctions, North Korea could restart its reactor at Yongbyon to generate more plutonium. Negotiations, whether in six-party talks or bilaterally, are the only way to keep that from happening. If the two Koreas refuse to hold talks, the six-party talks provide a forum for peace talks to defuse the current crisis. The only way to make the waters off Korea safer and stop further nuclear arming is to try negotiating in earnest. North Korean acceptance of responsibility for sinking the Cheonan would be a suitable starting point.” (Leon V. Sigal, “Sinking Strategy,” Boston Globe, May 28, 2010)


5/29/10:
The Japanese and U.S. governments on Friday morning delivered a joint statement detailing a fresh agreement on the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture to the Henoko district of Nago, also in the prefecture. The document clearly states both governments have “confirmed the intention to locate the [Futenma] replacement facility at the Camp Schwab Henokosaki area and adjacent waters.” Henokosaki is a cape in the Henoko district, where Camp Schwab is located.Prior to the document’s release, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and U.S. President Barack Obama spoke via telephone and confirmed the bilateral agreement. The document states the replacement facility’s runway zone will be 1,800 meters long, including overruns but excluding protective seawalls. Concerning the relocation of training programs, the document says both countries have “committed to expand the relocation of the U.S. forces’ activities…outside of Okinawa [Prefecture]. In this regard, utilization of Tokunoshima [island in Kagoshima Prefecture] will be considered,” on the condition appropriate facilities are developed on the island.As matters for further discussion, the document says, “The two sides intend to study opportunities to expand the shared use of facilities between U.S. forces and the SDF [Self-Defense Forces].”Locations and SDF facilities outside Okinawa Prefecture may also be utilized for relocation of U.S. forces’ activities, the document says. This is an apparent concession to the Social Democratic Party, which opposes the Futenma functions being relocated within the prefecture. Both sides will examine the option of relocating training programs outside Japan in the future, possibly to Guam. (Yomiuri Shimbun, “Formal Word on Futenma: Japan-U.S. Statement Sets Henoko as ‘New’ Site, Deadlines,” May 29, 2010) PM Hatoyama booted consumer affairs minister Fukushima Mizuho out of the cabinet after she opposed the base relocation agreement. Fukushima said the Social Democratic Party, which she heads, will discuss whether to quit the ruling coalition in an executive meeting tomorrow. Its departure would be another blow to the DPJ ahead of the July Upper House election. At a meeting of executives of the three ruling coalition parties in the evening, Hatoyama asked Fukushima, 54, and Shizuka Kamei, who heads the People’s New Party, the other junior coalition partner, to sign the Cabinet document on the Futenma relocation. When Fukushima said she could not do so, Hatoyama asked to talk privately to her. Unable to persuade Fukushima to change her mind, he fired her. Meanwhile, local government officials in Okinawa were outraged by the joint statement because Futenma heliport functions would not be moved out of the southern prefecture as Hatoyama had once promised and which many had prayed would happen. Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima said of Friday’s joint statement, “It is extremely regrettable. I have always thought that (a Henoko move) would be a very difficult choice. There is no other way to put it.” Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine also threw cold water on the proposal to move functions to the Henoko area of his city and said, “There is zero possibility of pulling this off. It will simply not happen.” Inamine also said he would not negotiate with the central government over relocating Futenma functions to his city. (Ito Masami and Alex Martin, “Fukushima Fired from Cabinet over Futenma,” Japan Times, May 29, 2010; Asahi Shimbun, “Hatoyama Fires SPD Chief from Cabinet,” May 29, 2010)


5/30/10:
China resisted pressure Sunday from South Korea and Japan to censure North Korea publicly for the sinking of a warship, calling only for regional tensions over the incident to be defused. The leaders of China, Japan and South Korea agreed that they will work closely to ease rising tension after the sinking of a South Korean warship by a North Korean torpedo in March and avoid a clash on the Korean Peninsula. But China maintained its position of not condemning North Korea during the annual trilateral summit on South Korea’s Jeju Island. ”We have reached a common understanding that the sinking is a very serious issue for stability in Northeast Asia,” said Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who spoke first at a joint news conference shortly after the two-day summit, standing next to his counterparts. Hatoyama, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and South Korean President Lee Myung Bak mainly discussed the aftermath of the ship sinking on the second day of the summit. During the news conference, Wen said, ”The pressing task for now is to properly handle the serious impact caused by the incident, gradually ease tension over it, and avoid a conflict” on the divided peninsula. Wen said any development in East Asia would not be possible without peace and stability on the peninsula and China will ”actively involve” itself in addressing the tragedy. Hatoyama, who has already shown his support for taking up the issue in the Security Council, said at the meeting that the whole international community needs to stand on the side of South Korea, according to Japanese government officials. But China, as well as South Korea, stopped short of mentioning whether the incident, which took place near the disputed maritime border with the North, should be brought before the United Nations, the officials said. Hatoyama and Wen will hold bilateral talks Monday in Tokyo, in which the Cheonan disaster will likely be high on the agenda. To help realize the next-decade vision, they agreed to establish a permanent secretariat in South Korea in 2011 in order to better coordinate their activities given that there are already 17 ministerial meetings, combined with some 50 dialogue programs. (Kyodo, “China, S. Korea, Japan Agree to Ease Rising Regional Tension,” May 30, 2010) “China will make proactive efforts for closer communication and seek to tackle the (Cheonan) issue in a direction that promotes peace and stability of the Northeast Asian region,” Wen said during his speech concluding the summit. “Without continued efforts for regional peace and security as the precondition, hard-earned progress in other areas of trilateral cooperation will disappear.” Noting that “resolving the tension and repercussions of the Cheonan case” was the “most pressing” security task now, the Chinese leader stressed that “a collision must be avoided.” (Kim So-hyun, “Collision Must Be Avoided: Wen,” Korea Herald, May 30, 2010) On Beijing’s fear of increased military tension on the peninsula in the second session of the summit, President Lee’s chief spokesman Lee Dong-kwan quoted the chief executive as saying, “We’re neither afraid of war nor do we want war. We have no intent to go to war. But we shouldn’t be lenient to ensure that North Korea stop going astray and direct Pyongyang onto the righteous path.” Wen is known to have responded by saying, “China is a responsible country. We will respect the results of the investigation by the international joint inspection team and countries’ responses to it. We oppose and condemn any action that disrupts peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.” Hatoyama said, “The six-party talks will be resumed only after North Korea clearly reflects on the incident and apologizes. It is natural that this case is referred to the U.N. Security Council, and Japan will strongly support it. We should not send the wrong message to North Korea.” They released a joint statement saying, “The leaders of Japan and China paid respect to the victims of the Cheonan incident, and conveyed condolences to their bereaved families and the Korean people.” “Leaders of Japan and China valued the joint probe by the Republic of Korea and the international joint inspection team, and the responses of various countries. The leaders of the three nations will continue consulting each other to ensure regional peace and stability, and to properly cope with the matter.” Presidential spokesman Lee said, “The inclusion of the Cheonan incident in the statement is in and of itself a major step forward,” adding, “The joint statement contains the bottom line among consensus on various issues.” (Dong-A Ilbo, “S. Korea, China, Japan to Cooperate on Cheonan Incident,” May 30, 2010) PM Wen said Beijing “will not protect anyone” after it had made an “impartial judgment” about who was responsible for the Cheonan. (BBC, “China ‘Will Not Protect’ Korea Ship Attackers,” May 28, 2010)

China appears to be seeking greater economic cooperation with North Korea, despite tensions over the North’s sinking of a South Korean naval ship, as provincial officials exchange visits and Beijing’s top envoy calls for greater business ties. Wang Min, a top communist party official in China’s northeastern province of Liaoning, visited North Korea on Thursday last week for economic cooperation talks, according to Chinese media reports published today. In a meeting with Kim Pyong-hae, a top communist party official in the North’s South Pyongan Province, Wang proposed that the two sides strengthen friendship through economic cooperation and seek mutual prosperity. Kim agreed to the proposal, according to the reports. (Yonhap, “China Seern As Seeking Greater Economic Cooperation with N. Korea despite Ship Sinking,” May 30, 2010)

Like many South Koreans, Choi Byung-wook said he felt outrage over the North Korean attack that sank the warship Cheonan and killed 46 sailors. But he also said that he did not expect the hostilities to get any worse and that his nation must continue to engage the North. “Inside, we are furious,” said Choi, 46, a government employee who shopped on a recent afternoon at a mall in this city just a few miles from the South’s heavily fortified border with North Korea. “But even with 46 dead, cutting off North Korea is not an option for us.” Choi’s views are typical in this affluent nation. Since the government released evidence implicating North Korea in the attack, reactions in South Korea have ranged from anger to betrayal and even disbelief that North Korea would launch a strike against a neighbor that had showered it with fertilizer, investments and food aid. But as the ship’s sinking has blown into an international crisis, South Koreans als