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friday, october 17, 2003

I. United States


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I. United States

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1. ROK on DPRK Nuclear Bargaining

Agence France-Presse ("NORTH KOREA'S NUCLEAR TEST THREAT SEEN AS BARGAINING TACTIC," 10/17/03) reported that the ROK dismissed as a bargaining ploy the DPRK's veiled threat to test a nuclear bomb, a move that would represent a sharp escalation of the nuclear crisis. A DPRK foreign ministry spokesman said Thursday Pyongyang would publicly display the "physical force" of its nuclear deterrent at a moment of its own choosing. The unidentified spokesman said Pyongyang would end doubts about whether it possessed atomic weapons. "When an appropriate time comes, the DPRK will take a measure to open its nuclear deterrent to the public as a physical force and then there will be no need to have any more argument," he was quoted as saying by the official Korean Central News Agency. "This is another bargaining chip for negotiations to get the upper hand at the next round of six-way talks," the ROK's National Security Advisor Ra Jong-Yil told reporters here. In Washington, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said he was perplexed by the DPRK's latest outburst. But he declined to be drawn into a war of words with the DPRK and said he had heard similar statements in the past.

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2. DPRK-ROK Relations

The Associated Press (Jae-Suk Yoo, "SOUTH, NORTH KOREA PASS ON NUCLEAR TALKS," Seoul, 10/17/03) reported that the DPRK and ROK ended talks in Pyongyang on Friday without an agreement on the standoff over the DPRK's nuclear weapons development. The Cabinet-level talks concluded one day after North Korea hinted that it might test an atomic bomb to prove itself a nuclear power. The negotiators from the divided Koreas released a statement that included no mention of the nuclear dispute. "We will continue to press North Korea to change its attitude through various inter-Korean dialogue channels," a ROK negotiator said on condition of anonymity. The official, quoted by ROK pool reports from Pyongyang, said his delegation also protested Pyongyang's claims that it had reprocessed spent nuclear fuel rods, a key step in the production of atomic bombs. Despite the failure to agree on the nuclear issue, the two sides agreed to hold another round of Cabinet-level talks on Feb. 3-6 in Seoul and economic talks in Pyongyang in early November. "North Korea is stressing that the nuclear dispute is only with the US," Koh Yu-hwan, a DPRK expert at Seoul's Dongguk University, said of the joint statement. The ROK had hoped to persuade the DPRK to accept another round of multilateral talks on the nuclear issue. On Thursday, a DPRK Foreign Ministry spokesman said his country would "open its nuclear deterrent to the public as a physical force." The remarks were the strongest indication that Pyongyang may test a nuclear bomb, a provocative move that would escalate the nuclear standoff.

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3. Japan and Russia on DPRK Nuclear Threat

Agence France-Presse ("TOKYO, MOSCOW TURN ON DPRK OVER NUCLEAR TEST THREAT," 10/17/03) reported that Moscow and Tokyo turned on the DPRK following its veiled threat to test a nuclear bomb as the ROK dismissed the latest statement from Pyongyang as brinkmanship. The DPRK issued the threat ahead of US President George W. Bush's arrival in Tokyo at the start of a six-day Asian tour to consult key allies. A foreign ministry spokesman in Tokyo expressed frustration Friday with the DPRK, calling for a "responsible and forward-looking response from North Korea toward the settlement of the issue." Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yury Fedotov demanded an end to "statements and actions which would complicate the negotiated resolution of the problem." Heads of state at a summit of 21 Pacific Rim nations which Bush will attend next week along with the PRC's leader Hu Jintao are considering stepping up the pressure on Pyongyang after the Stalinist state promised a public demonstration of its nuclear capability. However, efforts to coax the DPRK back to multilateral talks to resolve the year-long nuclear crisis ended in failure at inter-Korean cabinet-level talks in the DPRK capital. A DPRK foreign ministry spokesman said Thursday Pyongyang would publicly display the "physical force" of its nuclear deterrent at a moment of its own choosing. "This is another bargaining chip for negotiations to get the upper hand at the next round of six-way talks," the ROK's National Security Advisor Ra Jong-Yil told reporters here.

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4. US Military Spy Plane DMZ Crash

The Associated Press ("UNMANNED U.S. SPY PLANE CRASH-LANDS NEAR BORDER WITH NORTH KOREA," Seoul, 10/17/03) reported that an unmanned U.S. military spy plane crash-landed near the border with communist North Korea, forcing the U.S. military to ground all planes of the same type deployed in South Korea last month, officials said Friday. Nobody was injured. The plane, called the Shadow 200 Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, crash-landed Thursday night on a river bank in Dongduchon, 20 miles south of the border with the DPRK, said Choi Yang-do, a spokesman of the 2nd U.S. Infantry Division. The US military grounded all Shadow 200 planes in the ROK and elsewhere in the world, except Iraq, pending an investigation into what caused the accident, Choi said. The U.S. military began flying Shadow planes last month to help monitor the DPRK military activities along its border with the ROK. Shadow planes have a 13-foot wingspan. They fly at an altitude of between 10,000 feet and 14,000 feet.

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5. APEC on DPRK and Terrorism

Agence France-Presse ("APEC LEADERS PLEDGE TO DISMANTLE TERROR GROUPS, KICK START TRADE TALKS," 10/17/03) reported that the leaders of APEC's 21 member nations will pledge to dismantle terrorist organizations and kick start multilateral trade talks at their meeting here next week, according to a draft statement. The leaders, including the presidents of the US, Russia and the PRC, will also vow to halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, without mentioning any specific states or groups. "We agreed to dedicate APEC not only to ensuring the prosperity of our economies, but also to the complementary goal of ensuring the security of our people," said the draft copy obtained by AFP. The statement, to be released after their two-day summit Tuesday, pledges to "dismantle, fully and without delay, transnational terrorist groups whose operational and ideological reach threatens the APEC economies". The APEC leaders, representing 2.8 billion people, said they would strengthen international non-proliferation regimes and export controls and take other "necessary measures" to achieve their goal. Washington has made clear that US President George W. Bush, who arrives Saturday to attend the October 20-21 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, intends to push regional nations to stand firm against terrorism. The draft declaration said APEC would "increase and better coordinate our counter-terrorism capacity building activities, such as through technical assistance between developed and developing APEC economies". It said a partnership between APEC's Counter-Terrorism Task Force, the Counter-Terrorism Action Group of the G8 and the United Nations' Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee would be established. The DPRK nuclear crisis will also be a hot topic when the leaders meet after Pyongyang threatened to display the "physical force" of its nuclear deterrent. While there was no specific reference to the DPRK in the draft document, Japanese foreign ministry spokesman Hatsuhisa Takashima said Friday that APEC leaders were negotiating to issue a separate joint statement urging the North to disarm.

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6. US-Japan Summit

Agence France-Presse ("BUSH KICKS OFF ASIAN TOUR WITH KOIZUMI SUMMIT," 10/17/03) reported that US President George W. Bush arrived in Japan for talks at which Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is expected to offer to send troops to Iraq, following a promise by Tokyo of 1.5 billion dollars towards reconstructing the war-hit country. Bush and First lady Laura Bush arrived in Tokyo amid tight security, on the first leg of a tour aimed at boosting the fight against terrorism and seeking support for rebuilding post-war Iraq. In what is Bush's second visit to Japan since taking office in 2000, the US president Bush and Koizumi are expected to discuss reconstruction efforts in Iraq, the DPRK's nuclear crisis and economic issues, including foreign exchange rates. Tokyo police said they had deployed 9,000 officers to provide security during Bush's stay. Koizumi is expected to tell Bush of Japan's plan to send 150 troops to the southern Iraq city of Basra in December as an advance party, with an additional 550 troops to be sent early next year, Japan's top-selling daily Yomiuri Shimbun said Friday, quoting government sources. The dispatch of troops, authorized under a law passed in July, would mark the first time since World War II that Japanese forces would be deployed in a country where fighting is continuing. If sent, Japanese troops will give support in the areas of water supply, electricity and medical assistance, the major daily Mainichi Shimbun said Friday. Koizumi's expected announcement came as the 15-member UN Security Council unanimously adopted its resolution to authorize a multinational force in Iraq Thursday. Japan's military contribution would be in addition to its pledge, announced on Wednesday, to provide 1.5 billion dollars in grant aid for the reconstruction of Iraq in 2004 with a strong signal it will offer more at a donors conference next week in Spain. While Bush has warmly applauded Japan for its financial contribution, the aid amount was far smaller than the 14 billion dollars Tokyo stumped up during the 1991 Gulf War.

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7. PRC Reforms?

Agence France-Presse ("CHINA'S COMMUNIST PARTY VOWS MORE REFORM BUT WHAT ELSE?" 10/17/03) reported that the PRC's communist leaders ended a four-day secret meeting this week with uncertain promises to uphold private property rights but analysts said the potentially groundbreaking proposal offered few new clues. "There is nothing new, we heard of this for not months, but for years," said Gilles Guiheux, director of the Hong Kong-based French Center for Research on Contemporary China. "It's more like the end of a process started several years ago." The annual meeting of the party's Central Committee was expected to put forward two amendments to the 1982 constitution in what would have been tantamount to an admission that the PRC had finally broken with its communist roots. Amid high expectations for the first-ever protections of private property in the Marxist document, along with a plan to enshrine the theories of former president Jiang Zemin into state ideology, the communique revealed little. It said several kinds of property ownership should be considered for discussion, according to state media. It further called for establishing a "modern property rights system with a defined ownership structure" and the rights of farmers to be allowed to buy and sell land at will. The decision by party mandarins late Tuesday to possibly undertake these issues at its next legislative congress underscore the government's radical departure with its Marxist and Maoist past. And while there was little new, or more likely, much remained secret, talk about private property was in itself crucial, said Joseph Fewsmith, a political analyst at Boston University. "That is an important step in adjusting the legal system toward a system of private property," Fewsmith said. "We'll probably hear more if it is an important decision -- you'll see it in editorials."

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8. DPRK on Russia Far East "Cheap Labor"

Reuters (Jeremy Page "NORTH KOREA TOUTS CHEAP LABOR IN RUSSIAN FAR EAST," Vladivostok, 10/17/03) reported that the advertisement is brief and to the point: "Koreans. Apartment renovations. Fast and cheap. Call 325-925." A gruff male voice answers the phone and explains in broken Russian that the decorators will work 16 hours a day, seven days a week. "Good workers. Not lazy. No drinking," says the man, who refuses to give his name. "Koreans -- North Koreans." Newspapers in Russia's far eastern port of Vladivostok are full of similar advertisements touting the services of laborers sent by the DPRK over the border to Russia to earn hard currency for its cash-strapped government. An estimated 10,000 of its people are working in logging camps, mines and construction sites all around Russia's Far East -- and increasingly further afield. In Vladivostok, several groups of North Koreans seen working on building sites refused to talk to a foreign reporter. But in the Russian border town of Khasan, one DPRK who gave his name as Kim told Reuters he had been decorating apartments in the Siberian city of Omsk for three years. "The work is hard but the pay is better in Russia," he said as he waited for a train back to his homeland. "I try to save money for my family." Kim said he earned about $100 a month and mostly lived in the apartments he was decorating. He and a co-worker were heading home because their travel documents had expired, he said. His colleague squatted nearby, chain-smoking and eyeing the foreigner with suspicion. The labor teams are partly a hangover from the Soviet era, when North Korea sent workers to logging camps in far eastern Russia in exchange for massive economic aid from Moscow. The DPRK handled security in these camps and Amnesty International has documented serious human rights abuses, including torture and execution of those trying to escape. Some of these camps still exist, according to Russian media reports, with the DPRK providing free labor to help pay off its $3.8 billion Soviet-era debt. The North Koreans usually stay in dormitories, supervised by their own plainclothes security agents, locals and experts say. Some work in teams on big construction projects, but others are sent out to find smaller jobs, such as decorating apartments, for themselves. Once a week, they have to attend a meeting to report on their activities and hand over the bulk of their earnings. Conditions in the dormitories are poor. Many workers, like Kim, prefer to stay in the apartments they are working on. Viktor Plotnikov, head of the immigration department for the Primorye region around Vladivostok, said there were up to 2,500 DPRK workers legally registered in his region. "There is a rotation," he said. "Some of them may stay here after getting a new permit, some may return home and others come in their place, but the number never exceeds 2,500." Illegal migrants and asylum seekers are sent back to the DPRK, where they face imprisonment or worse, experts say. But for most Russians in cities like Vladivostok, the benefits of plentiful cheap labor seem to outweigh concerns about mass migration.

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9. PRC Corn Fueled Automobiles

Reuters (Nao Nakanishi, "CHINA TO PUT CORN INTO GAS TANKS TO CLEAN UP," Jilin, 10/17/03) reported that Jilin province, home to the PRC's first car factory and also its biggest corn producer, is putting corn and cars together in a project to ease the country's exploding pollution ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Like many other agriculture giants such as Brazil, the US, and India, the northeast province is using its huge farm surplus to make organic fuel that cuts pollution, and reduces dependency on petroleum imports at the same time. Industry sources say, the PRC, which is the world's fastest growing car and energy market, could extend the use of ethanol gasoline throughout the country by 2005 if initial exploratory steps are successful. An Olympics shrouded in smog is not a scene the PRC wants to show the world, but that is what it will look like, unless the traffic pollution in major cities is brought under control. Turning grains into fuel also happens to allow the government to continue to subsidize agriculture outside its obligations under the World Trade Organization (WTO), avoiding more social unrest from farmers who are now exposed to global competition. In Jilin, not far from the provincial capital Changchun, one of the world's largest fuel ethanol plants is currently gearing up for full operation. From October 18, all car, truck and bus drivers in the province must blend into their gasoline 10 percent of the biofuel distilled from corn. A similar policy nationwide would make a significant dent in regular gasoline consumption, which totaled more than 37 million tonnes last year. Fuel ethanol cuts greenhouse gas emissions that are held responsible for global warming. It can be produced also from wheat, sugar, rapeseed, palm oil, cassava or even recycled food oil, such as old frying oil collected from fast food restaurants.

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Ilmin Internationl Relations Institute
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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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