NAPSNet Daily Report
friday, january 2nd, 2004

I. United States


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I. United States

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1. Private Group of Americans Plans Visit to the DPRK

The New York Times (Steven Weisman, "Private Group Prepares Visit to North Korea," Washington, 01/02/04) reported that a private delegation of US experts on the DPRK will travel to the DPRK and possibly visit a nuclear weapons plant. Bush administration officials said the delegation did not have any official government blessing and would not carry any message to the DPRK. The delegation will be led by John Lewis, a professor emeritus of international relations at Stanford University, who will be accompanied by Sigfried Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos laboratory. Also traveling with the group will be Jack Pritchard, a former staff member of President Bush's National Security Council. "This is not a US government-sponsored trip," someone involved in the planning said. "The US government has no say. Nor were they asked to say yes or no to the trip itself." Bush administration officials and people involved in the trip said that because Hecker is on a consulting contract with the Department of Energy and has a high security clearance, the administration was asked if it objected to his traveling to the DPRK and the administration said it did not. "There's a limit to what I can say, simply because it's not our deal," said J. Adam Ereli, a State Department spokesman. "Any efforts that complicate prospects or undertakings to reconvene the six-party talks and to achieve forward movement in dismantling the DPRK's nuclear program aren't helpful."

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2. US Groups May Visit Yongbyon

Reuters (Arshad Mohammed, "US GROUPS TO VISIT N.KOREA, MAY SEE ATOMIC COMPLEX," Washington, 1/2/04) reported that the two US groups expect to visit the DPRK next week and may tour the nuclear complex at Yongbyon. One group consists of two US Senate Foreign Relations Committee aides and the other of private citizens, including a former top US nuclear scientist, a former US special envoy for the DPRK and a Stanford University scholar. A visit to Yongbyon would mark the first time outsiders have been allowed in the nuclear complex since U.N. inspectors were expelled a year ago at the start of the latest US-North Korean confrontation over the DPRK's nuclear ambitions. "I would not want to put too much meaning to the visit," said the South Korean official. "It is difficult to use the visit as a gauge of the next round of six-party talks."

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3. US Announces Food Aid to DPRK

The Associated Press ("U.S. SENDING 60,000 TONS OF FOOD TO NORTH KOREA: AID PROGRAM HAD WARNED THAT LACK OF DONATIONS COULD FORCE CUTOFF; 4 MILLION EXPECTED TO BENEFIT," 12/25/03) reported that the State Department announced 60,000 metric tons of American food will be sent to the DPRK to help avert hunger and starvation. Spokesman Richard Boucher said the decision was based on reports from the World Food Program's executive director, James Morris, that about 4 million North Koreans were vulnerable and in need of contributions. Last week, Morris said the program probably would be forced to cut off food aid to 3 million North Koreans in coming weeks because of insufficient donations. The donation brings the total of U.S. contributions for the year to 100,000 metric tons.

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4. PRC Official States DPRK Willingness to Begin Talks

Agence France-Presse ("PYONGYANG WANTS N.KOREA NUCLEAR TALKS EARLY NEXT YEAR: CHINESE OFFICIAL," Seoul, 12/29/03) reported that Fu Ying, head of the Chinese foreign ministry's Asian affairs department, told journalists that "the six countries share the view that the second round of talks should take place at the earliest possible date early next year. The DPRK has the same view...Details concerning the preparation of the second round of six-way talks have not yet been fixed." Fu made the remarks after briefing her counterparts Chung Sang-Ki of the ROK and Mitoji Yabunaka of Japan on Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit to the DPRK last week. "We hope to proceed with a second round of the six-party talks at the earliest date possible and agreed to make good preparations," Fu said of her talks with South Korean and Japanese officials.

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5. Decrease in Kim Jong-Il Media Mentions

Agence France-Presse ("KIM JONG-IL ENDING A YEAR IN THE DARK," Tokyo, 12/29/03) reported that Radiopress, a Tokyo news agency which monitors North Korean affairs, has reported that official media in the DPRK had carried 86 items related to Kim's public activities from January 1 to December 25. The number was down from 117 for the same period last year. For 49 days in February, March and April, Kim was absent from official media at the height of the US-led war on Iraq. It was his longest absence from media exposure since he became head of the Workers Party in 1997. Although the number of reports on his public appearances decreased, his military-related activities rose by 24 to 56, accounting for 65 percent of the total, underlining his so-called "military-first" politics, Radiopress said. On December 24, the Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim inspected army units "almost every day and took good care of servicemen's life," leaving him and his soldiers in "perfect harmony."

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6. US Realigns Military in ROK

The New York Times (Norimitsu Onishi "US AND SOUTH KOREA TRY TO REDEFINE THEIR ALLIANCE," Seoul, 12/26/03) reported that as the US embarks on a realignment of its global military bases, the shift will perhaps be felt most intensely in the ROK, where US soldiers continue to play a central role even as South Koreans themselves are rethinking their relations with Americans. Under a Pentagon plan, the troops would be moved and consolidated in bases south of Seoul. Both sides are emphasizing that the plan, put in motion as the North Korean nuclear threat remains unresolved, would not diminish the US' capacity or commitment to defend the ROK. Citing advances in military technology and changes in the political environment, the ROK foreign minister, Yoon Young Kwan, said in an interview, "If we consider those two changes, it is natural for us to try to make some kind of adjustment in military allocation of personnel and resources...the important issue is U.S. commitment, and I think that commitment is stronger than ever." Scott Snyder, a Korea expert with the Asia Foundation, said, "It's the unspoken issue behind these talks over the US troops. Is this the beginning of the reconfiguration of the alliance? Or is this the first step in the dismantling of the alliance?" A new generation of South Korean leaders, backed by young voters, is more independent-minded and less beholden to the US. "The older Koreans tend to be more nervous about any changes in the U.S. troops here," said Kim Il Young, the author of "U.S. Forces in Korea" and a university professor. "The younger generation believes more in self-reliance and independence. It feels that in the long term, South Korea should strike a balance between the United States and China and adopt a more neutral position toward the United States."

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7. KCNA Issues New Year's Statement

The Associated Press (Soo-Jong Lee, "N. KOREA URGES PEACEFUL NUKE RESOLUTION," Seoul, 12/31/03) reported that the DPRK issued a New Year's message reiterating a willingness to resolve a nuclear standoff, but warning that would react with strength to what it called a US hard-line policy. The message was issued in the form of a joint editorial by the country's three major newspapers representing its communist party, military and youth militia force. "Consistent is our principled stand to seek a negotiated peaceful solution to the nuclear issue between (the DPRK) and the US," said the editorial carried on the country's foreign news outlet, KCNA. "But we will always react with the toughest policy to the US hard-line policy of totally denying and threatening the dignified idea and system of our style," it said.

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8. Koizumi Visit to War Shrine Draws Protest

The Associated Press (Natalie Obiko Pearson, "KOIZUMI VISIT TO WAR SHRINE DRAWS PROTEST," Tokyo, 1/02/04) reported that demonstrators in Seoul and Tokyo protested Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's visit to a shrine honoring Japan's war dead the day before, saying it damaged efforts to ensure peace in the region. The ROK summoned Japan's ambassador to object to the New Year's Day visit to Yasukuni Shrine, Koizumi's fourth in three years. The shrine pays tribute to Japanese military veterans killed in war, including convicted war criminals.

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9. PRC Blames Gas Accident on Negligence

The Associated Press (Stephanie Hoo, "CHINA BLAMES GAS ACCIDENT ON NEGLIGENCE," Beijing, 1/2/04) reported that the PRC blamed negligent gas well workers for an accident that spewed toxic fumes over mountain villages and killed 233 people. "This was an accident due to negligence," said Sun Huashan, deputy director of the State Administration for Work Safety. "Those people who were responsible will be dealt with." But he listed a series of errors that allowed a poisonous mix of natural gas and hydrogen sulfide to gush from the state-owned gas well northeast of the city of Chongqing, killing villagers in a 10-square-mile "death zone" as they slept or tried to flee. Emergency workers couldn't enter the area until more than a day after the gas started flowing because they lacked the proper safety equipment. Investigators concluded that the drilling crew improperly dismantled equipment meant to prevent such blowouts, misjudged the amount of gas in the well and failed to recognize the blowout once it began. The government had earlier blamed an unspecified drilling accident.

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10. Report on Hyundai's Inter-Korean Venture

Agence France-Presse ("RARE VISIT TO THE DPRK OFFERS GLIMPSE OF BOOM TOWN," Kosong, 1/2/04) reported that a selected group of diplomats and journalists visited a local town, where they were whisked to the market garden, run by South Korean industrial giant Hyundai. The Yongnongwon Garden is mainly a cluster of greenhouses occupying six hectares (28.2 acres) of land in this southeastern coastal town near Mount Kumgang, the only tourist attraction in the North open to South Koreans. The garden produces some 20 tons of vegetables, some of which are consumed by South Korean tourists, every year. The garden, now worked by 70 North Koreans, was built five years ago with money and skill from Hyundai Group and labor and land from the DPRK, with the production supposed to be shared on a 60-40 basis in favor of Hyundai.

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

International Peace Research Institute (PRIME),
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Monash Asia Institute,
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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

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Clayton, Australia

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