NAPSNet Daily Report
thursday, april 13, 2000

I. United States

II. Discussion III. Announcements

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Week in Review

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I. United States

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1. ROK Election

The Associated Press (Christopher Torchia, "S.KOREA RULING PARTY SEEKS PARTNERS," Seoul, 4/13/00) reported that with nearly 100 percent of the votes counted in ROK's general election on Thursday, the opposition Grand National Party had 133 seats while ROK President Kim Dae-jung's ruling party had 115 seats in a new, smaller 273- seat National Assembly. Grand National Party chairman Lee Hoi-chang said, "this is a strong public mandate for our party to play the role of checking the abuse of power by the arrogant Kim Dae-jung government." A campaign by civic groups to vote out corrupt politicians succeeded in electing at least a dozen candidates in their 30's who are perceived as honest, but many veterans kept their seats. As in past elections, many voters chose candidates from their home regions, regardless of their resumes or policies. The turnout among the ROK's 33.5 million eligible voters was a record low 57 percent, reflecting popular fatigue with government scandals as well as bickering between the ruling and opposition parties.

Reuters ("SOUTH KOREA'S MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY WINS," Seoul, 4/13/00) reported that the ROK National Election Commission said on Friday that a provisional breakdown of the seats won by each party in the election for the National Assembly gave the main opposition Grand National Party 133 seats against 115 for ROK President Kim Dae- jung's Millennium Democratic Party. The United Liberal Democrats won 17 seats while other parties and independents received eight. The commission is due to hold a meeting late Friday to confirm and declare final results.

The New York Times (Howard W. French, "PLAN FOR SUMMIT BUOYS KIM'S ELECTION HOPES IN SOUTH KOREA," Seoul, 4/13/00) reported that after the announcement of an inter-Korean summit, political experts began to say that ROK President Kim Dae-jung's Millennium Democratic Party could win, or at the very least stave off a debilitating defeat. The ROK newspaper Munhwa Ilbo stated, "it's clear that the ruling party is reaping benefits from the south-north summit and is likely to emerge as a majority force in the new Parliament." Many people said that they believe that the talk of increased investment to rebuild the DPRK was meant to help win over powerful business conglomerates, which have traditionally supported the president's conservative opponents. ROK political experts have for months said that Kim's indifferent popular support ranked as one of the biggest political enigmas of recent years. Despite leading the ROK to a recovery, including 10 percent growth last year and sharply lower unemployment, last week's opinion polls showed that voters were still clinging to regionalism that puts Kim in a difficult position.

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2. US Sanctions against DPRK

Agence France Presse ("NKOREA 'LIKELIEST' COUNTRY TO BE REMOVED FROM US TERRORIST LIST: OFFICIAL," Washington, 4/13/00) reported that US Coordinator for Counterterrorism Michael Sheehan told USA Today on Thursday that the DPRK is likely to be removed from the US list of state-sponsors of terrorism, if it meets certain conditions. Sheehan said, "North Korea doesn't have hard things to do [and is] the likeliest candidate for removal." He noted that the terrorist list had become too politicized, punishing countries for reasons other than supporting terrorism, and that his goal was to change that. He continued, "I want to get this list more dynamic so I can focus on the remaining guys who are troublemakers." Sheehan said that he would focus on two areas that have become havens for violent groups, "South Asia -- Afghanistan and Pakistan -- and the arc between Tehran, Damascus and Beirut, those are the real problem areas."

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3. Light-Water Reactor Project

The Associated Press ("G.E. SEEKS PROTECTION AGAINST ACCIDENT LIABILITY AT NORTH KOREAN POWER PLANT," Washington, 4/13/00) reported that the US based General Electric Company (GE) is asking the US government to pay legal claims in the event of a disaster at civilian nuclear power plants being built in the DPRK. GE has a contract of nearly US$30 million to provide steam turbines and some other equipment for two light-water reactors. Louise Binns, a GE spokeswoman, said on April 12 that indemnification "is a normal part of this kind of deal." She said that the company was asking the ROK to be responsible for liability in the highly unlikely event of a nuclear disaster and that the US would be the insurer only of last resort. Charles Kartman, US special envoy for Korea at the US State Department, confirmed that GE had made a proposal on indemnification for its participation in the project. Kartman said that GE's proposal is under review, and no decision has been made. He added, "all along, we have understood there was going to have to be an indemnification scheme in place for the company to participate." Kartman said that contractors were asked to participate even while liability arrangements were pending and "if they are not satisfied later, they will be able to opt out." The DPRK has about four years to provide liability protection.

The Los Angeles Times (Jim Mann, "A RISKY POLICY ON N. KOREA," Washington, 4/12/00) reported that Charles Kartman, US State Department special envoy for the DPRK, acknowledged that General Electric's request for indemnity was unusual, as other firms participating in the DPRK light-water reactor project have been willing to await a liability agreement. Kartman stated, "If there's an accident, they [GE officials] have to understand on what basis they'd be covered." Kartman said that the chance that the US will ever have to pay these claims is "very hypothetical," noting that the parts for the reactors would not be shipped for several more years, and that the US and other countries are trying to work out a new international liability agreement in the meantime. The article said that US officials are thinking of applying Title 85, Section 804, a law to indemnify companies taking part in nuclear cleanup operations, to protect the firms participating in the project.

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4. PRC Missile Sales to Libya

The Washington Times (Bill Gertz, "BEIJING DELIVERED MISSILE TECHNOLOGY TO LIBYA, U.S. SAYS," 4/13/00) reported that the director of the US National Security Agency (NSA), Lieutenant General Michael Hayden, outlined a classified report sent on March 2 to senior US government officials which said that the PRC is providing assistance to Libya's long-range missile program, and made the latest technology transfer last month. Officials familiar with the NSA report said that the missile technology transfer followed other intelligence reports in December that the PRC had agreed to supply Libya with a hypersonic wind tunnel. The wind tunnel will be used for modeling and simulation, key elements of missile development. According to congressional aides, US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright is expected to be questioned about the PRC-Libya missile cooperation during an appearance on Thursday before the US Senate Appropriations Committee. According to the intelligence officials, the missile cooperation began in March 1999 between the state-run China Precision Machinery Import-Export Company and the Libyan government. The deal involves help in developing Libya's long-range Al-Fatah missile program. However, the officials said that PRC technicians have been linked in intelligence reports to the Al-Fatah missile program as early as June 1998. Other defense officials said that the missiles sought by the Libyans are the DPRK 600-mile-range Nodong missile system, or possibly the longer-range Taepodong missile. The missile buying effort appears to be relatively recent. [Ed. note: This article was included as a Top Story in the US Department of Defense's Early Bird news service for April 13, 2000.]

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5. PRC-Russian Talks

Reuters ("RUSSIAN AND CHINESE PRESIDENTS TO MEET IN MAY," Moscow, 4/13/00) reported that Russia's Itar-Tass news agency said on April 12 that PRC President Jiang Zemin and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin will meet in the second half of May in Tajikistan. Tass quoted a high-ranking source in the Russian foreign ministry who said that Jiang and Putin would meet in the Tajik capital Dushanbe on the sidelines of the annual Shanghai Five- group summit. The talks will be the first between the leaders of Russia and the PRC since Putin took office. The Foreign Ministry could not immediately confirm the meeting.

II. Discussion

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1. Comments by Dr. Hazel Smith

[Ed. note: The following comments from Dr. Hazel Smith of the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, were sent in response to the coverage of the ROK-DPRK summit meeting announcement in Tuesday's Daily Report.]

It's interesting that NAPSnet has only circulated the negative commentary on the recent announcement of the Summit between north and south. Not every commentator on Korea shares these views although your readership would be hard-pressed to know this from the selection of comments you chose to circulate. Ironically, the only positive comment on the Summit came from the official statement by the Secretary of State.

You do not do your reputation for impartiality any justice by this approach. It is not only that you are unbalanced in the presentation of comments. You also choose to omit any of the commentary which suggests that the unease from the Republican perspective is due to the fact that continuing conciliation between north and south, goes a long way to damage the credibility of the various appeals for support for funds for theatre missile defence - the immediate claims for which are based upon the alleged imminent north Korean threat to ROK and US security.

My own view is that the Summit is a positive development and provides opportunities but also risks for both sides. The stakes are high but, seen in the context of the movement that has already taken place between the DPRK and the ROK over the last couple of years, the Summit represents much more than a one-off token gesture in respect of the ROK elections but is something much more substantial and significant. Serious analysis needs to avoid the sound bite and offer critical evaluation which considers complexity and nuance - to recognise positive as well as negative features of policy change.


Dr. Hazel Smith Politics and International Studies Depatrment University of Warwick

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2. Response by Timothy Savage

Dr. Smith is correct to point out the negative (and rather cynical) tone of Tuesday's report, although I do feel that NAPSNet's summaries accurately reflected the coverage in the US media. Most commentators quoted in the papers focused on the coincidence between the summit announcement and the ROK National Assembly election, arguing that the DPRK timed the decision to squeeze the maximum concessions from ROK President Kim Dae-jung at the summit. While that argument may be partly true, it greatly underestimates the significance of the DPRK's multilateral diplomatic putsch.

Historically, ROK-DPRK relations have always been a zero-sum game--on both sides of the Demilitarized Zone. Previous attempts at dialogue occurred when one side or the other feared abandonment by its great power ally--in 1972, in response to US President Richard Nixon's China visit, and in 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. This mentality continued during the negotiation of the 1994 Agreed Framework, as many ROK government officials, analysts, and journalists feared that in seeking accommodation with the DPRK, the US was turning its back on its long-time ally. Pro-DPRK elements likewise often portray improvement in Washington-Pyongyang relations as coming only at the expense of Seoul. (See, for example, "US-DPRK Will End Up in Shotgun Marriage" by Kim Myong Chol, Policy Forum Online #99-07G).

Rather than continuing in this mode, however, both Korean governments are now embracing a multilateral approach to the problems of the divided peninsula. June's summit in Pyongyang will follow a second round of DPRK-Japan normalization talks in Tokyo, and a likely visit to Washington by a high-ranking DPRK official. It also comes on the heels of increased PRC-DPRK contacts, including a visit by Kim Jong-il to the PRC Embassy in Pyongyang. The possibility of an exchange of visits between Kim and PRC President Jiang Zemin has also been discussed.

Taking into account this increased diplomatic activity, the DPRK's apparent desire to boost the ROK ruling party's electoral chances may be seen in a different light. Rather than simply seeking negotiating leverage, the DPRK may well feel that the current ROK administration represents the best hope for achieving a peaceful coexistence that will allow the DPRK to seek the outside aid it needs to rebuild its tattered economy. With elections also forthcoming in the US and Japan, the DPRK likely recognized that this window of opportunity may soon close.

Whether any of these diplomatic overtures will achieve concrete results remains to be seen. The DPRK faces the difficult task of trying to open to economic development while preventing outside influences from undermining the regime, but evidence suggests that it is at least pursuing such a policy. Currently, approximately 170 foreign representatives of non-governmental and UN organizations reside in the DPRK, including several who are stationed outside of Pyongyang for the first time. The Nautilus Institute's own experience with building windmills at Unhari village demonstrates the degree to which DPRK officials are willing to bend over backwards to ensure that cooperative projects with foreign NGO's can succeed. At the same time, the frustration that has led such groups as Oxfam, CARE, and Medecins San Frontieres to abandon their efforts in the DPRK indicates that the DPRK still has a long way to go to approach international norms of openness and accountability.

Timothy L. Savage NAPSNet Coordinator

III. Announcements

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1. Washington North Korea Forum

On Monday, May 15, 2000, 8:30 am - 12 noon, at the Capitol Hill Rayburn Building, Gold Room 2168, Washington, DC, The Institute for Strategic Reconciliation, Inc. (ISR) will host a half-day Washington North Korea Forum addressing both the June 12 summit of the two Koreas and the North Korea Policies of Presidential Candidates Al Gore and George W. Bush. Forum participants will include experts on Korea, government representatives, delegations from the US congress, international finance institutions, and non-governmental organizations. For further information, contact President Asaph Young Chun of ISR at or by fax at 301-570-0911.

The NAPSNet Daily Report aims to serve as a forum for dialogue and exchange among peace and security specialists. Conventions for readers and a list of acronyms and abbreviations are available to all recipients. For descriptions of the world wide web sites used to gather information for this report, or for more information on web sites with related information, see the collection of other NAPSNet resources.
We invite you to reply to today's report, and we welcome commentary or papers for distribution to the network.

Produced by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development in partnership with:
International Policy Studies Institute Seoul, Republic of Korea
The Center for Global Communications, Tokyo, Japan
Center for American Studies,
Fudan University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China
Monash Asia Institute,
Monash University, Clayton, Australia

Timothy L. Savage:
Berkeley, California, United States

Gee Gee Wong:
Berkeley, California, United States

Kim Hee-sun:
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Hiroyasu Akutsu:
Tokyo, Japan

Peter Razvin:
Moscow, Russian Federation

Chunsi Wu:
Shanghai, People's Republic of China

Dingli Shen:
Shanghai, People's Republic of China

John McKay:
Clayton, Australia

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