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In today's Report:
I. United States
1. US-DPRK Relations
US State Department Spokesman Nicholas Burns (STATE DEPT. NOON BRIEFING, JAN. 10," USIA Transcript, 01/13/97) stated that US and DPRK representatives met in New York on Friday but that no date or venue for the upcoming briefing on the proposed four-party peace talks had yet been set. "Arrangements for the upcoming joint briefing on the Four-Party Talks are under discussion, and I think the joint briefing will probably be held towards the end of this month towards the end of January. What we need to work out with the North Koreans is where that will take place, who will attend and the specific date. We don't have that worked out yet," Burns said. In response to questions as to the causes and implications of the delay, Burns said, "I think we feel reasonably confident, following the gesture made by North Korea nearly two weeks ago, that the decision has been made by the North Koreans that they will participate in a joint briefing. The only question is modalities. Sometimes that takes a while to work out logistics."
2. DPRK To Accept Taiwan Nuclear Waste
The AP-Dow Jones News Service ("TAIWAN POWER TO SHIP NUCLEAR WASTE TO NORTH KOREA," Taipei, 01/13/97) reported that the state- owned Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) on Monday said it had reached an agreement to ship sixty thousand barrels of processed low radioactive nuclear waste to the DPRK for storage. Hsi Shih- chih, president of Taipower, said that under the pact signed Saturday, Taipower has an option to ship up to 200,000 barrels to the site during the two-year span of the agreement. Hsi said Taipower executives signed the contract with representatives of a state-owned DPRK trading company under auspices of a nuclear regulator in Pyongyang. Taipower has been searching for overseas dump sites as its Orchid Islet dump site last year reached its full capacity of 98,000 barrels of nuclear waste, and the company has stored about 69,000 barrels at three nuclear power plants. Taipower hopes to finalize soon negotiations with Russia for a similar agreement and plans trial shipment of 5,000 barrels of nuclear waste, he said.
3. DPRK To Attend Security Conference
The AP-Dow Jones News Service ("N. KOREA TO ATTEND CANADA MTG ON SECURITY ISSUES - SOURCES," Tokyo, 01/13/97) reported that the DPRK has signaled it will attend a working level meeting of the unofficial Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (CSCAP) to discuss security in the northern Asia-Pacific region. The CSCAP meeting is slated for February 1-2 in Vancouver, Canada. The other participants in the meeting include the US, Japan, the ROK, Russia and the PRC. If the DPRK does take part, it would mark the first time that all major parties in the region have met to directly exchange views on such issues. CSCAP was set up in June 1994 to discuss Asia-Pacific security at the private level, and has 16 member countries. The DPRK joined the forum in December 1994. Sources in Tokyo said that the DPRK has told Japan, which will chair the meeting, that staff from its Foreign Ministry's disarmament and peace institute will attend the meeting. The sources added that the DPRK has also said it is ready to submit a paper on ways to form a mechanism for fostering trust in the North Pacific region.
4. ROK Strikes
Reuters ("CONCILIATORY GESTURE IN SOUTH KOREA," Seoul, 01/13/97) reported that ROK New Korea Party leader Lee Hong-koo made a dramatic visit Monday to Seoul's Myongdong cathedral in an attempt to meet with union leaders who have taken sanctuary from arrest there as they plan the biggest strike in the nation's history. The visit appeared to be part of a "charm offensive" aimed at undercutting support for full-scale work stoppages planned for Tuesday. Country-wide, the plan showed signs of working, as even hardened union activists admitted workers were losing their appetite for confrontation. However, outside the cathedral, Lee was shoved aside by workers chanting "Get Out" and met instead with the ROK's Roman Catholic Cardinal. Unions have threatened to stage the ROK's biggest strike ever on Tuesday and Wednesday to protest the new labor law giving employers the right to lay off workers and replace strikers. However, President Kim Young-sam on Monday told ruling party lawmakers that the law would not be scrapped or amended. "The stark reality facing us today is that without the labor reforms, workers will get neither the income nor jobs in the face of cut-throat global economic competition," he said. "I could have delayed the legislation if I had wanted to spend the final year of my term without much trouble."
Reuters ("CONCILIATORY GESTURE IN SOUTH KOREA," Seoul, 01/13/97) reported that the ROK announced Monday that the military had been placed on standby to keep trains and telephone services running in the event that national unions went ahead with plans for the biggest strike in the country's history. Media reports said a force of 2,500 specialists had been trained to take over from railway drivers and telecommunications workers. "If anything happens, the military will be mobilised," a defense ministry spokesman said.
The Associated Press (Ju-Yeon Kim, "S. KOREA STRIKERS, COPS CLASH," Seoul, 01/11/97) reported that thousands of workers and students clashed with police in bloody confrontations in Seoul and four other cities on Saturday. In central Seoul, police fired tear gas to disperse 20,000 protesters marching in the streets after a rally at a park. As riot police fired staccato volleys of tear gas, shoppers, teen-age students, and other onlookers cheered the protesters. The report, issued Saturday, suggested that the intensifying violence indicated that anti- government sentiment was growing and that a sense of crisis was building in the government as the 17-day-old strike showed no signs of easing. "What appeared to be a simple labor protest has blown up into a complex issue with political repercussions," Yonhap TV quoted an unidentified high-ranking government official as saying. Meanwhile, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Paris-based group of industrialized countries that the ROK joined in December, was among the numerous international groups pressing for a resolution.
5. Analysis of Prospective DPRK Decline
Chuck Downs, associate director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in an editorial in The Washington Post ("TINY CRACKS IN THE WALLS OF A STRONGHOLD, 01/13/97, A17) that the recent defection of a seventeen-member family from the DPRK deserves special attention because "it sends a number of interesting signals about political realities on the Korean peninsula," most particularly concerning pressures on the DPRK regime. Downs noted that the escape showed the relative ease with which refugees can leave the DPRK, and revealed the strength of the "Korean-Chinese network" in the PRC, where many of the two million Koreans in residence stand ready to aid refugees, motivated by a sense of "ethnic altruism." Downs also outlined several reasons why the PRC would tacitly support such defections, including gaining the allegiance of its Korean population, improving ties with the ROK, and perhaps winning a modicum of respect from international human rights advocates. Downs stressed the need to be ready in the event that popular resentment of prevailing conditions in the DPRK, of which the refugee flow is one indication, reaches a breaking point. Drawing comparisons to the situation prior to the reunification of Germany, Downs dismissed assertions that DPRK citizens "have been effectively brainwashed and are therefore incapable of independent thought." Downs concluded, "If we convince ourselves of the same fallacy that the leaders of North Korea have deluded themselves with -- that their people are servile devotees of a corrupt oppressive regime -- we will be unprepared for the events that unfold as the North collapses."
6. US-PRC Relations After Guatemala Veto
The Associated Press (Ju-Yeon Kim, "U.S. MIFFED AT CHINA OVER VETO," Seoul, 01/11/97) reported that US State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said Monday that the US is disappointed that the PRC last week used its Security Council veto power to block the proposed deployment of UN peacekeepers in Guatemala to monitor the peace agreement that ended decades of war. "We felt it was the obligation of all Security Council members to support the peace process," Burns said. The PRC cast its veto to signal disapproval of Guatemala's diplomatic recognition of Taiwan.
7. Butler Writes on Repercussions of Nuclear Abolition Call
The Washington Post ("THE GENERAL'S BOMBSHELL," 01/12/97, C01) published a commentary by retired US General George Lee Butler, adapted from a speech Butler gave at the Henry L. Stimson Center in Washington the previous week, in which Butler discussed the responses to his call for the elimination of all nuclear weapons in a speech to the National Press Club in early December last year. Butler, who as past commander in chief of the US Strategic Command was once in charge of all US Navy and Air Force nuclear weapons, described his speech as "an intensely personal expression" of his "growing sense of alarm" concerning nuclear weapons issues. Butler said he has been "by turns encouraged, disappointed and dismayed" at subsequent responses. Elaborating, Butler said he was encouraged "by the flood of supportive calls and letters I have received from every corner of the planet." However, he has been "disappointed, thus far, by the quality of the debate," particularly with "pundits who simply sniffed imperiously at the goal of elimination" and with "critics who attacked my views by misrepresenting them." Finally, Butler said that he has been "dismayed that, even among more serious commentators, the lessons of 50 years at the nuclear brink can still be so grievously misread." Butler said his prescription for future US policy "is detailed in the report of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, established by the government of Australia in 1995, on which I served." However, Butler said, beneath the needed debate on alternative policies lies an even more needed debate over how the US should "see its responsibility for dealing with the conflicted moral legacy of the Cold War." Butler noted that US nuclear imperatives confronted the country, as a democracy, "with a tortuous and seemingly inextricable dilemma: how to put at the service of our national survival a weapon whose sheer destructiveness was antithetical to the very values upon which our society was based. ... Ultimately, we contrived a new and desperate theology to ease our moral anguish, and we called it deterrence." Butler described the role of deterrence in the Cold War as at best ambiguous, and emphasized "the crucial and alarming fact that we continue to espouse deterrence as if it were now an infallible panacea. And worse, other nations are listening, have converted to our theology, are building their arsenals, are poised to rekindle the nuclear arms race -- and to reawaken the specter of nuclear war." Butler termed this a "stunning, perverse turn of events," and concluded: "This cannot be the moral legacy of the Cold War. And it is our responsi- bility to ensure that it will not be."
1. DPRK To Accept Taiwan Nuclear Waste
A Taiwanese paper reported yesterday that Taiwan has signed an agreement with the DPRK under which Taiwan will ship to the DPRK for disposal sixty thousand barrels of low-radiation nuclear waste. The agreement was signed between the state-run Taiwanese electric power corporation and a DPRK firm. The Taiwanese government has been burying nuclear waste in isolated offshore islands; the amount so disposed reportedly now totals one hundred sixty thousand barrels. (Chosun Ilbo, "TAIWAN SIGNS A NUCLEAR WASTE DISPOSAL AGREEMENT WITH THE DPRK," Seoul, 01/13/97)
2. DPRK Free Trade Area Conception
The DPRK reportedly will pursue the creation of a "composite business town" in the Najin-Sunbong free trade area in order to revitalize border trade. The "business town" concept will be modeled after Mexico's Tijuana and Mexicali free trade areas. An official at the Korea Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) said yesterday, "North Korea's Committee for External Economic Cooperation reportedly told Korean industrialists in the US who visited the free trade zone last month that Pyongyang is pursuing a development plan modeled after Mexico's free trade areas." (Joong-ang Ilbo, "NORTH KOREA TO PURSUE CREATION OF COMPOSITE BUSINESS TOWN IN NAJIN-SUNBONG," Seoul, 01/13/96)
3. PRC Purchases Russian Destroyers
The Washington Times, citing Pentagon officials, said the PRC has agreed to purchase two Sovremenny-class guided missile destroyers from Russia, in a deal concluded during PRC Prime Minister Li Peng's visit to Moscow last month. The destroyers are to be equipped with advanced SS-N-22 anti-ship cruise missiles, which were designed specifically to counter US ships equipped with the most advanced air and ship defenses. The Times report said US military and intelligence officials attributed the PRC ship purchase to the showdown last March during which the US sent two aircraft carriers to the western Pacific to counter a series of threatening PRC military exercises and missiles tests near Taiwan. "It shows the tremendous impact that carrier exercise near the (Taiwan) strait had on the Chinese," an unnamed US military officer was quoted as saying. US Defense Department spokesman Pat Sevigny declined to comment on the report because it dealt with intelligence matters. According to the Times, the PRC made an initial payment of US$400 million, but the deal was estimated to be worth US$8-US$10 billion. (The Korea Times, "CHINA BUYS TWO GUIDED MISSILE DESTROYERS FROM RUSSIA: REPORT," Seoul, 01/12/97)
4. PRC to Utilize Hong Kong to Isolate Taiwan
The South China Morning Post reported yesterday that the PRC intends to fully utilize the return of Hong Kong as a means to further isolate Taiwan diplomatically. The return of Hong Kong will enable the PRC to place greater pressure on countries, such as Panama and Paraguay, that extend diplomatic recognition to Taiwan but that also have existing consulates and business interests in Hong Kong. The PRC recently demonstrated its willingness to utilize such means by vetoing deployment of UN peace keeping forces in Guatemala, which also has diplomatic relations with Taiwan. (Chosun Ilbo, Kim Sung-yong, "PRC TO USE HONG KONG CARD TO ISOLATE TAIWAN," Hong Kong, 01/13/97)
[Ed. note: The following announcement is reproduced from an internet posting that called for its open distribution.]
From January 20-28, 1997, Abolition 2000, an international network of over 680 citizen groups on six continents, will meet in the French- occupied islands of Tahiti and Moorea to assess the current state of the nuclear world and craft strategies for the abolition of nuclear weapons. Over 100 people from all over the world are expected to attend.
The meeting will take place as a landmark study on the health effects of French nuclear testing in the area , which ended last year, is in preparation. The results of the study will be released later in 1997 and a briefing about the study will be presented at a concluding press conference on January 27th, exactly one year after the last French nuclear test. Hiti Tau, a regional NGO affiliated with the Pacific Island Association of NGOs (PIANGO), and the Pacific Program of the American Friends Service Committee (based in Hawaii), will host the meeting.
This meeting place presents the network with unique possibilities as a way to continue the momentum generated by the international attention focused on French nuclear testing activities over the last year. The study on the long term health effects of the French testing program has been conducted by the indigenous Maohi people of the five island groups of French-occupied Polynesia, with the help and financial assistance of the World Council of Churches, and several European support organizations.
Meanwhile, the South Pacific Forum, the regional intergovernmental group, is cooperating with the International Atomic Energy Agency in a study that will make use of the French data (gathered over the course of the entire testing program) for the first time. Last year, the member countries of the SPF kicked France out of the Forum for resuming its nuclear testing program. This year, as a provision for allowing France back into the Forum, they required France to release its scientific data. The results of this study will also be available later in the year.
To coincide with the meeting there will be a day of internationally coordinated actions on JANUARY 27, 1997 to oppose the resumption of nuclear testing by the United States and to call for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The U.S. has announced plans to conduct "subcritical" underground nuclear tests at the Nevada Test Site as part of a larger program to maintain and expand its nuclear weapons capabilities under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). January 27 marks the 46th anniversary of the first U.S. nuclear test in Nevada, and the 1st anniversary of the last French nuclear test in the Pacific. Indigenous youth of French Polynesia (Tahiti) have called for a worldwide vigil on January 27 to support the movement to abolish all nuclear weapons.
Within the U.S., January 27 has been designated as a national call-in day to President Clinton. In Tahiti, the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons will be concluding its international meeting. NGOs everywhere are being encouraged to: 1) call on their national leaders to oppose the U.S. subcritical tests, take nuclear forces off alert, and support negotiations on a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons; 2) send messages of solidarity to those gathered in Tahiti; and 3) hold vigils in their own communities to support and publicize these objectives.
Having brought about an end to the French nuclear testing program and having campaigned to achieve a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty the Abolition 2000 Global Network intends to finish the job by working to tackle the health and environmental effects of testing and to ensure that nuclear weapons are abolished for all time.
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