NAPSNet Daily Report
july 24, 2003

I. United States


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I. United States

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1. US President Bush DPRK Stance

The New York Times (David Sanger, "PRESIDENT TAKES A SOFTER STANCE ON NORTH KOREA," Crawford, 07/21/03) reported that US President Bush appeared today to shrug off evidence that North Korea may have begun producing plutonium at a second, hidden nuclear facility, and avoided any hint of confrontation with the country as it races to expand its nuclear arsenal. "The desire by the DPRK to convince the world that they're in the process of developing a nuclear arsenal is nothing new," Bush said, striking a far more moderate tone than in March, when he declared that the US would not tolerate a nuclear DPRK. He insisted that cooperation with the PRC on a diplomatic solution was moving forward and said American allies would work "to convince Kim Jong Il," the DPRK leader, "that his decision is an unwise decision." Bush's remarks - which are in sharp contrast to his words and actions regarding Iraq - come at a time when US and Asian officials have said there is "worrisome" but not "conclusive" evidence that the DPRK has constructed a second plant for producing weapons-grade plutonium. Some administration officials have concluded that the DPRK may be on the verge of declaring itself a nuclear state, and that there is not much they can do to stop it. "We're alert to the fact that this could be the summer surprise," a senior official said. "The president's words were intended to give diplomacy another chance." Another senior Bush aide said on Sunday that the administration believed that it still had time to defuse the DPRK situation and that a confrontation might be exactly what the DPRK was trying to provoke, to extract economic concessions from the West.

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2. Perry on DPRK Nuclear Resolution

The Washington Post (William J. Perry, "IT'S EITHER NUKES OR NEGOTIATION," 07/23/03) carried an editorial by former US Secretary of Defense, William J. Perry that read that the DPRK's nuclear facility at Yongbyon, which had been "frozen" under international inspection since 1994, was reactivated this January for the production of plutonium. Just last week the DPRKs announced that they intended to use the resulting plutonium to make nuclear weapons, which only confirmed what we always believed. If it keeps on its present course, the DPRK will probably have six to eight nuclear weapons by the end of the year, will possibly have conducted a nuclear test and may have begun deployment of some of these weapons, targeted against Japan and the ROK. By next year, it could be in serial production of nuclear weapons, building perhaps five to 10 per year. This is a nightmare scenario, but it is a reasonable extrapolation from what we know and from what the DPRK has announced. The administration to this point has refused to negotiate with the DPRK, instead calling on the countries in the region to deal with the problem. The strategy underlying this approach is not clear, but the consequences are all too clear. It has allowed the DPRK in the past six months to move from canned fuel rods to plutonium and, in a few more months, to nuclear weapons. And the consequences could extend well beyond the region. Given the DPRK's desperate economic condition, we should expect it to sell some of the products of its nuclear program, just as it did with its missile program. If that happens, a nuclear bomb could end up in a US city. The administration has suggested that it would interdict such transfers. But a nuclear bomb can be made with a sphere of plutonium the size of a soccer ball. It is wishful thinking to believe we could prevent a package that size from being smuggled out of the DPRK. There are three basic approaches for dealing with this dangerous situation. The administration can continue to refuse to negotiate, "outsourcing" this problem to the concerned regional powers. This approach appears to be based on the hope that the regional powers will be able to prevail on the DPRK to stop its nuclear program. But hope is not a strategy. If their hopes are not realized and the DPRK continues on its present course, it will soon have a significant nuclear arsenal. And while the regional powers could play a role in resolving this crisis, they are unlikely to succeed in the absence of a clear American negotiating strategy in which they can participate. A second alternative is to put economic pressure on the DPRK and hope for "regime change." Or the US could take military action to bring this change about. But while the regime may one day collapse, with or without economic pressure, there is no reason to believe that it will happen in time -- the nuclear threat is imminent. Taking military action to force a timely regime change could result in a conflict comparable to the first Korean War, with casualties that would shock the world. The third alternative is to undertake serious negotiations with the DPRK to determine if there is a way to stop their nuclear program short of war. The administration is clearly reluctant to negotiate with the DPRK, calling them loathsome and cheaters. It is easy to be sympathetic with this position; indeed, the only reason for considering negotiation with the DPRK is that the other alternatives are so terrible. The administration, seeing the danger, has said that it "would not tolerate" a DPRK nuclear arsenal. The DPRK responded to this declaration by accelerating their program. The conflict between our views and their actions is a formula for drifting into war. It is imperative that we stop that drift, and the only clear way of doing that is by negotiating.

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3. ROK-US DPRK Diplomacy

The Associated Press (Sang-hun Choe, "BUSH, S. KOREA LEADER TO DISCUSS N. KOREA," Seoul, 07/24/03) reported that US President Bush (news - web sites) and ROK President Roh Moo-hyun agreed Thursday to seek multilateral talks concerning the DPRK's suspected nuclear weapons program - again rejecting Pyongyang's call for direct talks with Washington. Earlier, the ROK's Unification Minister Jeong Se-hyun said US-proposed multilateral talks may begin "in a near future." Bush and Roh also reaffirmed during their Thursday telephone conversation that the DPRK must end its nuclear programs irreversibly and verifiably, the ROK presidential office said. "The two leaders expressed their firm belief that they could find through multilateral talks the key to peacefully resolving the DPRK nuclear issue," said a statement from Roh's office. The statement did not say who would be involved in those talks. In recent days, ROK officials have expressed optimism that the US, DPRK, and the PRC will meet in Beijing, possibly next month, to discuss how to end the crisis over the DPRK's suspected nuclear weapons program.

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4. ROK-US Bio-Weapons Joint Task Force

Asia Pulse ("S KOREA, US TO WORK TOGETHER AGAINST BIO WEAPONS THREAT," Washington, 07/23/03) reported that the ROK and the US yesterday agreed to tackle the threat of biochemical weapons. The agreement, which establishes a joint task force on biochemical weapons, was signed by ROK Health and Welfare Minister Kim Hwa-joong and her US counterpart Tommy Thompson. The memorandum also covers cooperation on issues such as epidemics, chronic diseases and sanitation. The panel on biochemical weapons is also aimed at promoting health worker exchanges and joint projects between the two nations.

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5. DPRK on War Prevention

Agence France-Presse ("NORTH KOREA INSISTS IT IS TRYING TO PREVENT WAR," 07/24/03) and Korean Central News Agency ("DPRK AGENCY ON OPENING OF "INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE FOR PEACE," Pyongyang, 07/24/03) reported that the DPRK has insisted it is doing all it can to prevent war on the Korean peninsula, but said it was ready to fight to the death if there were a conflict, official PRC media reported. "The DPRK has made unremitting efforts to prevent the outbreak of war and safeguard peace on the Korean peninsula," said Yang Hyong Sop, vice-president of the DPRK's Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly. "But the US has turned down the DPRK proposal for signing a non-aggression treaty." Yang made the remarks at the opening ceremony of the International Conference for Peace on the Korean peninsula in Pyongyang, the PRC's Xinhua news agency reported from the DPRK capital. Delegates from dozens of countries and international organizations are attending the three-day meeting, Xinhua said. Yang was quoted as saying participants "will discuss issues with a view to fundamentally removing the dangerous war crisis on the Korean peninsula caused by the US provocative moves." "The DPRK has continuously faced military threat and great obstacles to economic development from the US since the Korean War ended 50 years ago," he said. Yang stressed that "the peace-loving DPRK army and people will fight to the end in defending the national dignity", Xinhua said.

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6. DPRK Tactical Nuclear Arms Threat

Reuters (Judy Lee and Martin Nesirky, "N. KOREA THREATENS TO BUILD TACTICAL NUCLEAR ARMS," Seoul, 07/24/03) reported that the DPRK said Thursday it would treat any new US high-tech weapons deployed in the ROK as tactical nuclear weapons and respond in kind. The latest rhetorical twist in the DPRK's standoff with the US came soon after President Bush and ROK President Roh Moo-hyun agreed in a telephone call to keep pushing for multilateral talks on the DPRK'snuclear aims. A DPRK statement -- issued to mark the July 27 50th anniversary of the truce that ended Korean War fighting -- said the US was "trying to complicate the nuclear issue" by avoiding the bilateral talks that Pyongyang favors. But it stopped short of ruling out multilateral talks, which seem likely to take place in a few weeks, according to diplomats. The US is considering deploying more modern weapons systems in the ROK, where 37,000 US troops are based to augment the 690,000-strong ROK forces and ward off any attack by the DPRK's 1.1-million-man army. "The DPRK (North Korea) will consider the ultra-modern weapons the new conservatives of the US try to use as tactical nuclear weapons, which compels the DPRK to make as powerful weapons as them," it said. However, the statement did not rule out other forms of dialogue -- a sign Pyongyang might be positioning itself to accept a PRC compromise proposal of three-way talks including the PRC followed by multilateral talks with Japan and the ROK also at the table.

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7. DPRK Kim Jong-Il Sushi Chef Disappearance

Agence France-Presse ("SUSHI CHEF WHO DISHED UP DETAILS ON KIM JONG-IL'S TASTES NOW IN HIDING," 07/24/03) reported that a Japanese sushi chef who served DPRK dictator Kim Jong-Il for 13 years until 2001, has gone underground again after dishing up a book of titillating insights into the life and tastes of the reclusive bon vivant. His book, detailing Kim's love of shark's fin soup and caviar and shedding some light on his veiled family including a rumored "prince", has sold some 25,000 copies in the month since it went on sale on June 20. Simply entitled "Kim Jong-Il's Chef" and complete with 70 pictures showing the author with Kim and other VIPs, the book is also due to be translated into Korean and English. It relates how the "Dear Leader" and his entourage moved from one of his country retreats to another during a 1994 nuclear stand-off -- "at midnight or early hours to escape detection by US spy satellites." "It was an exodus in camouflage, a convoy of 10 Mercedes," it reads. "But Kim Jong-Il always drove up front and no one was ever allowed to drive in front of the honourable general (Kim)." After granting a few initial interviews, the 56-year-old author, who goes by the pseudonym Kenji Fujimoto and is fully aware of his "betrayal," has refused to meet the media out of concern for his personal safety. "At present, the author is basically living without going out of his place," said an editor for the book's publisher, Fuso Publishing Inc. of Tokyo. "He has used a pseudonym for security reasons," she said. "Although photographs of him were used, he wanted to conceal his identity as much as possible." She added that neither the author nor the company had been subjected to any protest or threat, while the book has already gone into its fifth edition. In the epilogue to the book addressed to Kim, Fujimoto writes: "If I work at some place in Japan, the honorable general will no doubt track me down (and issue orders to 'kill' me.)" He adds that he needed to earn a living in a capitalist society and writing the book was the inevitable solution. Fujimoto first went to work in Pyongyang as a highly paid sushi chef from 1982 to 1983 at the prompting of a DPRK trader in Japan. Kim quickly recognised the chef's skill at banquets, repeatedly ordering highly prized "toro", or fatty marbled tuna. When Fujimoto went back there in 1988, he became a special chef and gambling and sporting companion for the bouffant-haired Kim, five years his senior. Kim provided the divorced Japanese with a wife, who was a former member of the "pleasure-giving team" of female dancers assigned exclusively to entertain the North's power elite at parties. Fujimoto recalls he was often allowed to travel abroad to procure food for his master: caviar from Iran and Uzbekistan, melons and grapes from China, durians and papayas from Thailand and Malaysia, pilsner beer from the former Czechoslovakia, pork from Denmark and tuna and other fish from Japan. Among all the book's titillating snippets, one real intelligence bonanza is the chapter confirming the existence of Kim's third son, Jong-Woon, his second from his marriage to Ko Yong-Hui, a former prima donna of Pyongyang's premier song-and-dance troupe. The now 20-year-old Jong-Woon, whose existence was only suspected by foreign intelligence agencies before the book came out, "resembled his father in every way, including his physical frame," Fujimoto writes, expecting him ultimately to succeed him. Kim's second son, Jong-Chul, 22, had been widely regarded by outside analysts as the heir apparent. But he was often labeled by his father as "no good because he is like a little girl," according to Fujimoto. Jong-Nam, 33, Kim's eldest son from a previous marriage, has apparently fallen from grace after being deported from Japan for illegal entry in 2001.

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8. US ROK Microchip Sanctions

Agence France-Presse ("US DECIDES TO SLAP DUTIES ON ROK MICROCHIPS," 07/24/03) reported that the US authorities voted to slap steep duties on ROK semiconductor imports, even in the face of furious protests from Seoul. The quasi-judicial International Trade Commission (ITC) voted three-to-zero in support of a determination that the semiconductor imports from major manufacturer Hynix Semicondcutor were damaging to US industry. One of the four ITC members was absent. The ITC vote, taken in public but without any open discussions, was effectively the final stage in a lengthy process leading to duties of 44.71 percent on the imports from Hynix Semiconductor. The Commerce Department had already found that the dynamic random access memory semiconductors (DRAMS) were unfairly subsidized because Hynix had been bailed out by ROK banks. On August 4, the ITC members will send a copy of their decision to the Commerce Department, which will then issue the official order for duties to be imposed. The ROK government filed a formal complaint last month with the World Trade Organization against the US findings. Under WTO rules, the ROK and the US will have two months to hold negotiations over the countervailing duty before the world body will intervene

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9. Japan Trade Surplus Drop

Agence France-Presse ("JAPAN'S TRADE SURPLUS DROPS 30.7 PERCENT IN JUNE," 07/24/03) reported that Japan's trade surplus in June dropped 30.7 percent from a year earlier to 846.0 billion yen (7.2 billion dollars), the finance ministry said Thursday. Exports for the month were flat to 4.43 trillion yen while imports rose 11.6 percent to 3.58 trillion yen, the ministry said. Japan's trade surplus with the US fell 21.7 percent year-on-year to 483.1 billion yen as exports declined 12.0 percent to 1.08 trillion yen and imports slipped 2.3 percent to 598.5 billion yen. The trade surplus with the rest of Asia also dropped 20.5 percent to 453.8 billion yen in the month. Asia-bound exports grew 3.8 percent to 2.04 trillion yen and imports rose 13.7 percent to 1.59 trillion yen. With the European Union, Japan's trade surplus fell 11.0 percent to 216.9 billion yen as exports climbed 3.9 percent to 670.3 billion yen and imports rose 13.0 percent to 453.4 billion yen. In the six months to June, Japan's trade surplus declined 10.1 percent to 4.38 trillion yen. Exports gained 3.9 percent to 26.3 trillion yen and imports rose 7.2 percent to 21.9 trillion yen.

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10. Australia-Japan on DPRK Issue

Agence France-Presse ("PM HOWARD, KAWAGUCHI AGREE ON NKOREA ISSUE, BUT AT ODDS OVER TRADE ROW," 07/16/03) reported that Australian Prime Minister John Howard agreed with Japan's foreign minister to work together to defuse the DPRK nuclear threat, but remained at odds over a beef trade row, an official said. Howard, who arrived here late Tuesday on the second leg of his three-nation Asian tour, met Yoriko Kawaguchi ahead of talks with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi later in the day. "During the meeting, the two shared the view that both dialogue and real action are needed when we handle the issue of DPRK nuclear arms development," said a foreign ministry official, who attended the meeting. "Prime Minister Howard told our minister that quiet diplomacy is important, but it is also important to step up inspections" on DPRK ships amid concerns that the Stalinist state allegedly smuggled nuclear arms-related equipment and illegal drugs. Australia has committed its military, police and intelligence services to participate in maritime exercises -- probably starting in September -- as part of a US-led 11-nation alliance aimed at stopping the trade in illicit arms and drugs principally by the DPRK. At a later speech before an Australia-Japan symposium, Howard urged caution in dealings with the DPRK. "The threat of North Korea is real, but like all threats it has to be dealt with in a careful and sober fashion," he said. He downplayed an earlier suggestion by Philippines President Gloria Arroyo for a joint-sponsored regional meeting to deal with the DPRK, saying the focus should remain on a "five power" discussion involving the two Koreas, Japan, the US and the PRC. "We shouldn't at the moment get diverted by a focus on some other initiative," he said, adding it was "one that we should perhaps come to if other components don't work."

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