NAPSNet Daily Report
thursday, february 27 2003

I. United States

II. Japan

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I. United States

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1. DPRK Nuclear Re-Activation

The Associated Press (George Gedda, "NORTH KOREA DEFIES US, RESTARTS REACTOR," Washington, 2/27/03) and The Washington Post (Walter Pincus and Glenn Kessler, "NORTH KOREA RESTARTS NUCLEAR FACILITY US EXPECTS 2ND SITE TO GO ONLINE," 2/27/03) reported that the DPRK has restarted a nuclear reactor it had mothballed as part of a 1994 pact with the US aimed at halting its nuclear weapons program, US officials said yesterday. In a move apparently timed to coincide with the inauguration of the ROK's new president Tuesday, the DPRK flipped the switch on the facility within the past four or five days, one US official said. A telltale plume was spotted over the reactor just hours after Secretary of State Colin Powell ended a visit to the ROK. President Bush called Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the crisis and also Iraq, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Thursday. He provided no details on the conversation, other than to say the two leaders agreed to cooperate on the DPRK. Fleischer reiterated the administration's view that "North Korea continues to put itself on a path that is provocative and isolationist, that sets itself back from other nations in the region and other nations in the world." DPRK officials have insisted that the small research plant at Yongbyon, 55 miles north of the capital, Pyongyang, was necessary to produce electricity for the power-starved nation because the US and its allies cut off fuel shipments late last year. US experts, however, say the five-megawatt plant is not large enough to provide significant electrical power and could only be intended to produce plutonium for use in weapons. The plant could produce enough fissile material in a year for a single weapon, about the size of the bomb dropped by the US on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945. US officials said the DPRK does not appear to have restarted a plant capable of reprocessing 8,000 spent fuel rods into enough material for five or six bombs within a period of weeks.

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2. ROK on DPRK Nuclear Re-activation

The Associated Press (Christopher Torchia, "SOUTH KOREA'S PM URGES PEACEFUL NUKE FIX," Seoul, 2/27/03) reported that ROK Prime Minister Goh Kun on Thursday said his country would work with the US to seek a peaceful resolution to the standoff with the DPRK following a report that the DPRK has restarted a nuclear reactor. For weeks, there have been conflicting reports about whether the reactor was up and running or not. The US believes the DPRK already has one or two nuclear bombs. However, there were no reports that the DPRK has restarted a plant at Yongbyon that could be used to extract weapons-grade plutonium from spent fuel rods. Prime Minister Goh said he could not confirm the reactor report. Officials at the South Korean Foreign Ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they were trying to confirm it. Goh said the ROK will maintain close consultations with the US to try to reach a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear dispute. "As President Roh Moo-hyun has said, the North Korean nuclear program is a grave threat to peace in the Korean peninsula and the rest of the world," Goh said. "One of the top priorities of the new government is to try to end the nuclear issue peacefully, in close cooperation with the US."

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3. UN Response to DPRK Nuclear Re-activation

Reuters (Louis Charbonneau, "UN SLAMS NORTH KOREA FOR ALLEGED NUCLEAR BREACH," Vienna, 2/27/03) reported that the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said on Thursday it was firmly opposed to the DPRK operating its nuclear facilities without the presence of U.N. safeguards inspectors. "If this is true, the International Atomic Energy Agency deplores the operation of the DPRK (North Korean) nuclear facilities without the presence of safeguards inspectors," IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said in a written statement. She added that without the presence of U.N. inspectors to verify the DPRK's compliance with, or breach of, its nuclear safeguards obligations the agency was unable to verify what was happening at the Yongbyon nuclear complex. "Restarting this now unsafeguarded nuclear facility will further demonstrate the DPRK's disregard for its nuclear non-proliferation obligations," Fleming said. "Our Board of Governors has confirmed that the DPRK's safeguards agreement with the IAEA remains binding and in force," she added.

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4. ROK-US War Drills

The Associated Press (Hans Greimel, "US STAGES WAR GAMES AT SENSITIVE TIME AS NORTH KOREA PREPARES FOR WAR," Chichon, South Korea, 2/27/03) reported that a sudden DPRK attack is often the last thing that goes through the mind of Sgt. Cavason Sutton before he drifts off to sleep. "I think about it every night ... what if they bomb me?" the 21-year-old Montana native said. Thursday provided another sobering wake-up call as he and 3,000 other US Army soldiers slugged through war games within cannon range of the DPRK just a day after the communist country warned its citizens to prepare for war. Thursday's war games, part of annual maneuvers, were just a prelude to what's in store. Next month, the US and ROK are planning massive joint military exercises billed as boosting defenses against "external aggression." The US, which bases 37,000 troops in the ROK as a deterrent against the DPRK, says the maneuvers are not related to new concerns about the DPRK. But they come at a sensitive time, when the DPRK is locked in a global standoff over its suspected nuclear weapons program. The DPRK government condemns the drills as "escalating the military threat" and aggravating tension on the divided Korean Peninsula. Underlining its concern, the DPRK predicted Wednesday that the DPRK could be the US military's next target after a war in Iraq, and urged its people to brace for attack. Brig. Gen. Jim A. Coggin, who commanded Thursday's maneuvers, said they had nothing to do with the recent tensions. But he said the standoff "has contributed in a positive way" to morale because it "reminds soldiers why they're over here."

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5. ROK Military Presence

The Associated Press ("US, SOUTH KOREA DISCUSS RESHAPING AMERICAN MILITARY PRESENCE," Seoul, 2/27/03) reported that senior defense officials of the US and ROK on Thursday discussed plans to reconfigure or cut the US military presence in the ROK. The two allies plan to launch formal consultations in April to reshape the US military presence in the ROK. US Deputy Assistant Defense Secretary for East Asia Richard Lawless met ROK Assistant Defense Minister for Policy Lt. Gen. Cha Young-koo in Seoul on Thursday to discuss the agenda for the planned talks. The two exchanged views on possible agenda items, such as the relocation of the US 8th Army headquarters out of Seoul and a reduction of the US military presence, said Maj. Ha Joo-yon, a Defense Ministry spokesman. The Pentagon officials have said that no firm plans are in place, but serious thought has been given to reducing the size of the US force in Germany and the ROK. The US and the ROK agreed last year to reduce the number of US troop installations in South Korea from 41 to 25 over the next 10 years.

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6. ROK Presidential Cabinet Nomination

The New York Times (Don Kirk, "South Korean President Names Cabinet and Faces New Challenge," Seoul, 02/27/03) and BBC News ("SOUTH KOREAN LEADER NAMES CABINET," 2/27/03) reported that ROK President Roh Moo Hyun today named his first cabinet, a mix of inexperienced and veteran officials, and faced his first major challenge in the form of claims by the US that the DPRK had restarted the nuclear reactor at its complex north of Pyongyang. Roh's newly appointed prime minister, Goh Kun signaled the desire of the government to avoid confrontation, saying its "primary task will be the peaceful resolution of the North Korean nuclear issues." The new cabinet was announced a day after parliament approved Goh Kun, a former Seoul mayor, as prime minister. Key figures in the new cabinet are: Jeong Se-hyun, Unification Minister - helped lead former President Kim Dae-jung's "sunshine policy" of engaging with the DPRK; Yoon Young-kwan, Foreign Minister - a professor at the prestigious Seoul National University, who served on Roh's government transition team and was a key adviser during Roh's election campaign, but who has no government experience; Kim Jin-pyo, Finance Minister - a 56-year-old career bureaucrat who analysts said was likely to favour the economic status quo; Cho Young-kil, Defense Minister; a former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff; and Kang Gum-sil, Justice Minister - a 46-year-old female lawyer.

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7. PRC-Russia on Iraq War

The Associated Press (Alexa Olesen, "RUSSIA AND CHINA BACK NORTH KOREA'S CALL FOR DIRECT TALKS WITH US," Beijing, 2/27/03), CNN News ("CHINA, RUSSIA: WAR CAN BE AVOIDED," Beijing, 2/27/03) and Reuters (Brian Rhoads, "CHINA, RUSSIA AGREE IRAQ WAR SHOULD BE AVOIDED," Beijing, 2/27/03) reported that the PRC and Russia said on Thursday that war against Iraq "can and should be avoided" and pledged to do their utmost to bring the US and the DPRK into talks to resolve the crisis over the DPRK's nuclear ambitions. Analysts said the joint appeal was a denunciation of the US push for war in Iraq, but it remained unclear whether the PRC would veto, support or abstain from a second U.N. resolution. "Both sides reiterate their determination to render their full efforts for promoting a political solution to the Iraqi issue," said a joint communique issued by the two countries' foreign ministers. It noted the international community had called widely for all measures to avoid war. "Such aspiration should be respected," the communique said. "The two sides advocate to resolve the Iraqi crisis through political and diplomatic means," it said, adding that weapons inspections had made definite progress and must continue.

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8. Australia-US Missile Shield Developments

The Associated Press (Peter O'Connor, "PRIME MINISTER SAYS AUSTRALIA IN TALKS WITH US OVER MISSILE SHIELD AGAINST NORTH KOREA," Canberra, Australia, 2/27/03) reported that Prime Minister John Howard said Australia is considering building a missile defense shield with the US to protect itself against rogue states such as the DPRK. His comments, which drew criticism from the PRC and French embassies, came a day after the government issued a new defense policy aimed at increasing the military's ability to respond to the new threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. "If North Korea does have missiles that can reach all sorts of countries including Australia, I would have thought the Australian people would want us to look at something that might defend us against that possibility," Howard told Brisbane radio station 4BC on Thursday. The PRC embassy in Canberra responded with a warning, saying missile defense plans would undermine the global strategic balance and lead to a new arms race. "And TMD (theater missile defense) counteracts the confidence-building efforts in the region and deepens the instability in the region in terms of security," said embassy spokesman Feng Tie. In a rare public comment on local politicial issues, France's ambassador to Australia agreed. "Generally speaking, when the US started a few years ago to speak about building this kind of shield, we said what the PRC are saying. It will only push the arms race a little further," said Pierre Viaux.

II. Japan

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1. Japanese Logistic Support for US

The Japan Times ("NONAKA OPPOSES ARABIAN SEA OPERATION," 02/15/03) reported that Hiromu Nonaka, former secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), expressed opposition to a plan to expand the Self-Defense Forces' (SDF) mission of refueling foreign warships in the Arabian Sea. "It will cost huge sums of money," Nonaka told the LDP Executive Council. "While some people are committing suicide over the sluggish economy, we shouldn't do a pointless thing."

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2. Japan on War against Iraq

The Japan Times ("KOIZUMI BACKS U.S.," 02/15/03) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi criticized observations that the US is applying a double standard toward Iraq and the DPRK regarding the use of force. "I think they have misunderstood," Koizumi said in response to the opinions expressed at a LDP meeting. "It's a different story from North Korea. There was the Gulf War, and Iraq has not complied (with UN resolutions) after invading Kuwait." "We will call on (the international community) to make the case not as Iraq v. the United States and Britain, but as Iraq verses the international community," he added.

The Japan Times ("INSPECTORS INEFFECTIVE WITHOUT IRAQ COOPERATION: KAWAGUCHI," 02/16/03) reported that Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi questioned Saturday whether the ongoing UN arms inspections in Iraq will bear fruit if Iraq does not cooperate. Kawaguchi's remarks came after the disclosure of an updated report by Hans Blix at the Security Council that said Iraq's cooperation was still inadequate. Kawaguchi noted there had been "slight progress" in Iraq's cooperation with the inspection process. She added, however, that the country should be more proactive, such as by offering concrete evidence that it has abandoned efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. The minister said it is still not time to say whether Japan would support a US-led war against Iraq, despite its urging of other rotating members of the UN Security Council to adopt a resolution for a possible attack.

The Japan Times ("ATTACK NEEDS U.N. APPROVAL: NEW KOMEITO," 02/17/03) reported that Tetsuzo Fuyushiba, secretary general of New Komeito, said Sunday his party opposes a US-led attack on Iraq in the absence of a new UN resolution authorizing such action. He added that even if the council were to pass such a resolution, the attack should not begin immediately. On the other hand, despite his own reluctance to support the imminent use of force in Iraq, Fuyushiba harshly criticized opposition by France and Germany to the US and Britain, which are seeking a new resolution on attacking Iraq. "Those opposing the US when it's putting pressure (on Iraq) could be wartime collaborators with Iraq," Fuyushiba said. "The continued inspection is what Hussein would hope for."

The Japan Times ("JAPANESE FIRMS IN MIDDLE EAST PREPARE FOR WAR," 02/17/03) reported that Japanese firms in the Middle East are preparing for a possible attack on Iraq by distributing gas masks to its employees and confirming evacuation routes, officials of the firms said. Some firms have already evacuated family members of employees. More than 100 Japanese were held hostage in Iraq near military targets during Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. According to the Foreign Ministry, about 5,300 Japanese are living in 11 countries in the Middle East.

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3. Peace March in Japan

The Japan Times (Nao Shimoyachi, "ANTIWAR PROTESTERS MARCH IN TOKYO," 02/16/03) reported that thousands of people took to Japan's streets last Saturday to protest against a probable war in Iraq. Antiwar protesters take to the streets of Tokyo as part of an International peace demonstration expected to involve more than 400 cities around the world. Several hundred people packed the narrow street in front of the American Embassy in Tokyo to express anger at the US for moving closer to military action. "Respect international law!" an American demonstrator said through a loud speaker, a chant that was repeated by the crowd. Other chants included, "Don't attack Iraq!" and "US kills for oil!" "This is more than I expected," said Akira Kawasaki, who has organized protests in front of the embassy every Saturday since early January. He submitted to an embassy official a collection of messages written by people taking part in the protest. "Thanks to information technology, we have been able to mobilize more people this time," said Kawasaki, who arranged protests during the Gulf War in 1991.

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4. US Bases in Japan

The Japan Times ("U.S. PLANNING MILITARY BUILDUP IN JAPAN TO GUARD AGAINST NORTH KOREA," 02/17/03) reported that the US has told Japan of its plan to beef up its military presence in Japan to prepare for a possible emergency amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The build-up includes F-15 fighter bombers and U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, according to sources. Japan has welcomed US plan, citing "the need for deterrence under the Japan-US security arrangement in the Asia-Pacific region to remain effective" even if the US attacks Iraq, the sources said. The plan was reported at a "strategic dialogue" meeting in Washington on Feb. 10, as well as on other occasions. US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Yukio Takeuchi are said to have attended the meeting. The US told Japan of the possibility of dispatching a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the Carl Vinson, from its base in Hawaii to seas near Japan. The move would fill the gap left when the US aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk, based at the US naval base in Yokosuka, set sail for seas near Iraq. The Japan-US security treaty requires advanced bilateral consultations for any sizable changes in the deployment of US forces in Japan. According to the sources, however, the latest move will not be large enough to require such consultations.

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Produced by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development in partnership with:

Ilmin Internationl Relations Institute
BK21 The Education and Research Corps for East Asian Studies
Department of Political Science, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Center for American Studies,
Fudan University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China

International Peace Research Institute (PRIME),
Meiji Gakuin University, Tokyo, Japan

Monash Asia Institute,
Monash University, Clayton, Australia

Brandon Yu:
Berkeley, California, United States

Timothy L. Savage:
Berkeley, California, United States

Kim Young-soo:
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Hibiki Yamaguchi:
Tokyo, Japan

Saiko Iwata:
Tokyo, Japan

Hiroya Takagi:
Tokyo, Japan

Peter Razvin:
Moscow, Russian Federation

Wu Chunsi:
Shanghai, People's Republic of China

Dingli Shen:
Shanghai, People's Republic of China

John McKay:
Clayton, Australia

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