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wednesday, february 5, 2003

I. United States


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I. United States

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1. DPRK Nuclear Reactivation

BBC News ("NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR SITE 'REACTIVATED,'" 02/05/03) and The Associated Press ("NORTH KOREA RESTARTS NUCLEAR PLANT," Seoul, 02/05/03) reported that the DPRK said Wednesday that it had reactivated its nuclear facilities and is going ahead with their operation "on a normal footing." The DPRK will use the facilities to generate electricity "at the present stage," an unidentified North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said. His remarks were carried by the official KCNA news agency. The DPRK's main nuclear facility at Yongbyon has been dormant since a 1994 deal with the US, but the DPRK announced in December that it would revive it. The Yongbyon facility was the center of a suspected nuclear weapons program in the 1990s. "The DPRK is now putting the operation of its nuclear facilities for the production of electricity on a normal footing after their restart," the spokesman said. "The DPRK government has already solemnly declared that its nuclear activity would be limited to the peaceful purposes including the production of electricity at the present stage," the spokesman said. In Washington, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said he was unaware of the reports. US officials and nuclear experts say the amount of electricity that North Korea can produce at its nuclear facilities is negligible.

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2. US-ROK Military Reinforcements

The Associated Press (Paul Shin, "TOP US MILITARY COMMANDER SAYS HE WILL CONSULT WITH SOUTH KOREA IF REINFORCEMENTS NEEDED," Seoul, 02/05/03) reported that the top US military commander in the ROK said he will consult with the ROK if reinforcements are needed amid a deepening crisis over the DPRK's suspected nuclear weapons development. "The combined (US-South Korean) forces are highly trained, well-equipped and superbly led," Gen. Leon J. LaPorte said Tuesday. "We will consult with the Ministry of National Defense if additional forces are required on the Korean peninsula for the accomplishment of our mission." LaPorte made his statement after US officials in Washington said US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is considering sending an aircraft carrier to the waters off the Korean Peninsula and adding bombers in Guam.

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3. DPRK Response to US ROK Reinforcements

The Associated Press (Paul Shin, "NORTH KOREA SHOWING NO SIGN OF BACKING DOWN; US MOVING TO BEEF UP MILITARY AROUND KOREAN PENINSULA," Seoul, 02/05/03) and The Agence France-Presse ("NORTH KOREA WARNS OF STRONG MEASURES AGAINST US MILITARY BUILD-UP," 02/05/03) reported that defying international pressure to abandon its nuclear ambitions, the DPRK accused the US Tuesday of beefing up its military presence around the Korean Peninsula to "crush" the DPRK. DPRK leader Kim Jong Il also reviewed a naval unit and praised the sailors as "human bombs," the DPRK's KCNA news agency said. The DPRK's latest actions followed comments by US officials in Washington that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is considering sending an aircraft carrier to the waters off the Korean Peninsula and adding bombers in Guam. "In an attempt to crush us to death, the US military is scheming to beef up forces in Japan and South Korea," said the DPRK's Central Radio, monitored by South Korea's Yonhap news agency. KCNA said Kim inspected a naval unit at an undisclosed location Monday and was greatly satisfied with its combat readiness. Kim commended the sailors, calling them "invincible fighters" armed with "the spirit of becoming human bombs and the spirit of blowing oneself up as their invariable faith," it said.

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4. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on DPRK

The Washington Post (Peter Slevin, "BIDEN, LUGAR ASSAIL NORTH KOREA POLICY SENATORS CALL FOR WHITE HOUSE TO OPEN TALKS WITH PYONGYANG ON NUCLEAR BID," 02/05/03) and the Agence France-Presse ("US MUST TALK TO NORTH KOREA : SOUTH KOREAN ENVOY, TOP SENATOR," 02/05/03) reported that senior members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday criticized the Bush administration's policy toward the DPRK as inadequate and called on the president to initiate talks to halt the DPRK's nuclear program. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) charged that the US strategy is "largely reactive and predictable" and said the administration needs to regain the initiative. Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) offered measured praise but said the White House should show "immediate US leadership" by opening a broad dialogue with the DPRK and designating a senior official to coordinate policy. Lugar said many senators believe US policy is on hold while the administration is preoccupied with Iraq and the campaign to remove President Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. The result, he said leaves the US in a more difficult situation. The senators' comments came during testimony by Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, who said the administration will hold direct talks with the DPRK, but not until a new ROK government is in place and the timing seems right. The new government takes office February 24. "We're absolutely going to have to talk with them bilaterally. We acknowledge that," Armitage said.

5. Armitage DPRK Testimony to Senate Foreign Relations

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The Washington File ("US WILLING TO HOLD DIRECT TALKS WITH NORTH KOREA, ARMITAGE SAYS," Washington, 02/05/03) reported that the US is willing to hold direct talks with the DPRK, according Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said February 4 in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Responding to a call from committee Chairman Richard Lugar for direct US-North Korean talks on DPRK's nuclear weapons program, Armitage said "of course we're going to have to have direct talks with the North Koreans. There's no question about it." Armitage went on to say that "Before we do that, we want to make sure ... that we have, one, a strong international platform from which to have these talks; and number two, we don't want this to become simply a problem between the US and the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea]. ... [T]here are regional, good friends of our, allies of ours, plus two major powers, who are intimately involved in this, and we want to make sure this thing doesn't rub off entirely on us to come up with a solution. We're part of it, and we're going to have to speak to the North Koreans, and we shall at a point in time when it's considered efficacious to move forward."

The full transcript can be found:

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6. KEDO Budget Reduction

The Washington File ("Transcript: State Dept. Briefing on FY04 International Affairs Budget," 2/03/03) reported that Joseph W. Bowab, deputy assistant secretary for foreign assistance programs and budget was questioned why the Bush administration had allocated no funding for continued heavy oil shipments to the DPRK for fiscal year 2004, Bowab said that when the budget was put together, the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) had already decided to discontinue heavy fuel oil shipments. "As of the time we put the budget together, that decision still stands. So, naturally we did not request funding for heavy fuel oil in this budget." he said. Bowab said the KEDO secretariat is still operational, and there is sufficient funding in the secretariat to continue operations. "We're not saying," added Bowab, "that there will never be a day where we would want to resume heavy fuel oil to that country. But when and if that happens is when we would have to address funding for heavy fuel oil."

For the full transcript see:

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7. DPRK-ROK Railway Opening

The Associated Press (Sang-Huh Choe, "SOUTH KOREA PUSHES EXCHANGES WITH NORTH," Seoul, 02/05/03), BBC News ("FIRST KOREAN BORDER CROSSING OPENS," 02/05/03) and the Agence France-Presse ("SOUTH KOREAN TOUR CONVEY SNAKES THROUGH LAST COLD WAR FRONTIER, 02/05/03) reported that the ROK opened a road across its heavily militarized border with the DPRK on Wednesday, the first such connection between the countries in more than five decades. The ROK also said it wanted to take further steps toward reconciliation despite the DPRK's defiance over its nuclear program. In a conciliatory move on Wednesday, a group of 107 ROK tourism officials and business people traveled to a scenic mountain resort in the DPRK on a recently built cross-border road. The 10 buses moved slowly along the narrow dirt road to the northern side as snow fell. The ROK's Hyundai business group started a money-losing cruise to the Diamond Mountain resort in 1998. The company hopes the cheaper overland trip will attract more ROK tourists. The road is the first overland route linking the two Koreas since they were divided in 1945. Wednesday's trip was hoped to pave the way for organized tours by South Korean tourists.

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8. DPRK Japanese Nationals

The Associated Press ("FORMER NORTH KOREAN SPY SAYS 100,000 JAPAN-BORN KOREANS, KIN IN NORTH KOREA WANT TO ESCAPE THEIR 'HELL,'" Tokyo, 02/05/03) reported that a former DPRK spy said Wednesday that about 100,000 Japan-born Koreans and Japanese nationals living in the DPRK want to flee their "hell," and urged Japan to welcome those who make the dangerous journey. Disguised in a wig, sunglasses and a gauze mask, Kenki Aoyama said those who left Japan for the DPRK under a repatriation program organized by Pyongyang decades ago are living in near-starvation conditions in the DPRK. "I would say 100 percent of them want to come to Japan. Why? North Korea is hell," Aoyama, who goes by a pseudonym, told a news conference in Tokyo. Aoyama, a Japan-born Korean, was 21 when he left Japan for the DPRK in 1960. Under the DPRK's repatriation campaign, about 93,000 Koreans, most of them originally from the ROK, and their 6,700 Japanese spouses went to the DPRK to escape the discrimination they faced in Japan. The survivors and their kin currently number about 100,000, Aoyama said. Aoyama, who said he developed missile technology for the DPRK and later stole secrets in the PRC as a spy, told the news conference that he and about 50 others who fled the DPRK don't feel safe in Japan and can't receive aid because Tokyo doesn't consider them refugees. They can't find jobs because they can't use their real names for fear of reprisals against relatives they left behind, he said. "We have no legal status here," he said. "We are both asylum seekers and refugees ... We want Tokyo to recognize us as refugees and guarantee our human rights."

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9. Japan DPRK Missile Exports?

The Agence France-Presse ("JAPANESE FIRM EXPORTED MISSILE-RELATED EQUIPMENT TO NORTH KOREA," 02/05/03) reported that a Japanese machinery firm suspected of exporting arms-related technology to Iran has also illegally shipped to DPRK equipment capable of producing solid fuel for missiles. Seishin Enterprise Co. Ltd. exported a Jet Mill grinder to a firm controlled by the DPRK Ministry of People's Armed Forces in 1994, Kyodo News and the Yomiuri Shimbun said Wednesday, quoting sources. The Tokyo-based grinding and measuring equipment manufacturer sold the equipment for 20 million yen (167,000 dollars) and shipped it through a DPRK cargo-passenger ship from Niigata, central Japan, the sources said. Japanese police alleges the grinder may have been used by the DPRK military, unnamed officials said. Neither police nor customs officials would comment on the case and the company also declined to comment. Exports of the grinder are restricted under the trade law because of its dual-use technology. It uses compressed air to grind solid materials, such as medicines or printer toner ink, into fine powder, and can also be used to increase the burn efficiency of solid rocket fuel, the reports said. Seishin is suspected of exporting similar equipment to Iran between May 1999 and November 2000 without a permit from the trade industry. The firm is suspected of exporting two of its Jet Mill machines, which cost from 20 million to 100 million yen each, to an Iranian military goods company and to a rocket science laboratory at a university in the country.

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