The Nautilus Institute

Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network
For Wednesday, May 28, 1997, from Berkeley, California, USA

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In today's Report:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

I. United States

1. DPRK Nuclear Plant Site Visits

The AP-Dow Jones News Service ("TEAM TO VISIT N. KOREA TO DISCUSS BUILDING NUCLEAR PLANTS," Seoul, 5/28/97) reported that forty-four US, ROK and Japanese officials will visit the DPRK later this week to discuss details of building the two new nuclear power plants stipulated under the 1994 Agreed Framework. The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), the international consortium overseeing the construction of the plants, said that the team is made up of 10 KEDO officials, plus 27 ROK, three US, and four Japanese advisors and experts in legal, transportation, communications, and other fields. During the May 31-June 7 visit, the two sides are to discuss administrative details, including the use of postal and communications systems, employment of DPRK workers, and the use of hospitals. Talks on these issues began in April.

2. DPRK Food Aid

United Press International ("FOOD AID ARRIVES IN N.KOREA," Seoul, 5/28/97) reported that the DPRK's official news agency said Wednesday that 59,000 tons of food aid has arrived to help avert food shortages. The government news agency said food from the US, Europe, and other aid donors will help relieve "temporary difficulties" caused by flood-damaged crops.

US Defense Department Spokesman Ken Bacon ("PENTAGON SPOKESMAN'S DAILY BRIEFING, MAY 27," USIA Transcript, 5/28/97) stated, in response to a question regarding the DPRK-ROK Red Cross food aid agreement, "Basically we applaud that agreement and we applaud efforts to relieve starvation in the Democratic Republic of Korea. We ... are in the process of making available $25 million worth of food aid. We've delivered $10 million worth, that's 27,000 metric tons, earlier this month. We've announced plans to deliver an additional $15 million worth. That will be delivered in June, and probably the second shipment in July." Bacon added that the US is satisfied with the method of distribution of the aid, but said he could provide no details because international organizations are handling that.

3. DPRK Extravagance

Reuters ("HUNGRY N.KOREA SELLS GOLD FOR BIRTHDAY PARTY," Seoul, 5/28/97) reported that the ROK Unification Ministry Wednesday released figures showing that the DPRK exported gold ingots to the ROK worth US$19.8 million in April to fund a lavish party to mark the birthday of the late "Great Leader" Kim Il-sung. That came on top of gold sales by the North worth US$9.3 million in March. "We got many calls from the North in April," said a trader at a Seoul bullion house. "They said they wanted hard currency in exchange for gold to pay for birthday celebrations for the 'Great Leader.'" Although the DPRK desperately needs grain to feed its hungry people -- the UN estimates that 4.7 million North Koreans, almost one fifth of the population, face starvation this year -- there were no reports of any major overseas food purchases by the country last month, grains traders said. Pyongyang concluded a deal in early April to buy 20,000 tons of wheat worth US$4 million from US grains giant Cargill Inc., but that was a barter deal in return for 4,000 tons of zinc. The celebrations marked the 85th anniversary of the birth of DPRK founder Kim Il-sung on April 15. Official DPRK media at the time gave details of feasting, gymnastics displays and a circus. Foreign guests were entertained at an international arts festival. Kim Il-sung, whose son Kim Jong-il now leads the country, died in 1994 and is still deeply mourned. DPRK gold sales to the ROK in February were just US$820,000, in January US$719,000, and for the whole of last year US$58.8 million (an average of US$4.9 million per month), according to the ministry data.

4. DPRK Submarine Intruder Seeks ROK Navy Post

The Associated Press ("INTRUDER WANTS N. KOREA NAVY JOB," Seoul, 5/28/97) reported that ROK military officials said Wednesday that Lieutenant Li Gwang-su, the only sailor captured alive from the 26 aboard the DPRK submarine that ran aground on the ROK coast last September, now wants to serve in the ROK navy. After months of debriefing, Li is now hoping to teach the DPRK navy's combat tactics to ROK sailors, officials said on condition of anonymity. Li says his vessel was on a spy mission. The DPRK insists the sub was on a routine training mission when it developed engine trouble. Apart from one still missing, all the other submarine occupants were either killed or found dead.

5. PRC Offers Taiwan Nuclear Waste Aid

The Environmental News Network ("CHINA OFFERS HELP TO TAIWAN DISPOSE OF N-WASTE," 5/28/97) reported that a PRC Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said in Beijing Wednesday that the PRC is willing to help Taiwan dispose of its nuclear waste. "Regarding the problem of handling Taiwan's nuclear waste, the mainland is willing to provide assistance to Taiwan," she said, without giving details of any plan. "Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory," she added. The state-run Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) signed a deal in January to ship up to 200,000 barrels of low-level nuclear waste to the DPRK for storage, at a reported cost of US$230 million. Taiwan has faced widespread opposition to its plan, but Taipower said last week it would press ahead. The ROK has particularly opposed the plan, citing possible health hazards and fears of inadequate safety provisions in the DPRK despite Taipower's assurances that the nuclear waste is not dangerous. Greenpeace has thrown its support behind the ROK, and said a recent secret inspection of the nuclear dump on Taiwan's Lanyu (Orchid) island showed waste there was not low in radiation, contrary to statements by Taipower. Taipower denied the charges. US acting Assistant Secretary of State Charles Kartman has expressed concern over the deal. Last year, Yang Jike, vice-chairman of the PRC parliament's environmental and resources protection committee, said the PRC could solve Taiwan's nuclear waste storage problems, but only if the island accepts rule by Beijing.

II. Republic of Korea

1. ROK President Meets with IAEA Director

ROK President Kim Young-sam met yesterday with Hans Blix, visiting director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The two discussed matters of mutual concern, including the DPRK's nuclear program, Taiwan's planned shipment of nuclear waste to the DPRK, and the IAEA's upcoming election for Blix's successor, according to a presidential spokesman. Kim gave high marks for the IAEA's handling of the DPRK's nuclear arms program and asked for its further assistance in verifying the DPRK's past nuclear activities. On Taiwan's planned shipment of radioactive waste to the DPRK, Kim warned of the uncertain effects that the waste would have on the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Kim also asked that the IAEA take appropriate measures to solve the matter at an early date. (Korea Times, "PRESIDENT KIM TALKS WITH HANS BLIX ON NK NUKES, IAEA ELECTION," 05/28/97)

2. ROK Cites PRC, Russia Human Rights Violations

The Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU), affiliated with the National Unification Ministry, yesterday issued its annual white paper on the human rights situation in the DPRK, which called the forcible repatriation of DPRK escapees by PRC and Russian authorities "a major human rights violation." According to the white paper, the number of DPRK escapees staying in the PRC, Russia and other countries is about 1,500 at present, with more than 1,000 now residing in northeastern areas of the PRC and mostly working on farms while taking shelter at relatives' houses. Some 500 have sought asylum at the ROK's overseas missions. However, the paper said that it is impossible to get an exact number of DPRK escapees and survey their situations in third countries because they are not in position to officially call for help. The white paper, calling them "refugees," said that they should receive proper treatment from foreign governments and international organizations. Currently, PRC and Russian authorities have been sending them back to the DPRK by force, where they are subject to harsh punishment by DPRK authorities, the paper said. According to debriefings of DPRK defectors, the DPRK has sent squads to search for and arrest refugees in the PRC. PRC authorities and pro-DPRK residents support these efforts. Under a secret PRC-DPRK agreement signed in the early 1960s, arrested escapees are forcibly repatriated to the DPRK, where many are either sent to secret prisons or executed publicly. The white paper called the bilateral agreement a major violation of international conventions on human rights. In Russia, DPRK escapees work as street peddlers or day laborers in Vladivostok, Central Asia, and Russia-DPRK border areas. Russia's local authorities have dealt with the issue in an "arbitrary" manner and have also sent some refugees back to the DPRK, the white paper said. Meanwhile, the DPRK government has stepped up surveillance of its citizens to prevent them from fleeing their homes. (Korea Times, "CHINA, RUSSIA VIOLATE HUMAN RIGHTS THRU FORCIBLE REPATRIATION OF N. KOREANS," 05/28/97)

3. Korean Forced Laborers in Japan

A list of 27 Koreans forced to work at a Japanese military factory during World War II was uncovered in Nagasaki, attesting to Tokyo's massive mobilization of war laborers. Kim Soon-gil of the Korean A-bomb Victims Association said Tuesday he found the list at a security insurance office in Nagasaki. All 27 people on the list are still living, and they will be demanding monetary compensation in social security insurance next month. Japan at the time forced all of its war-time laborers to have social security insurance, and the list apparently revealed names of Koreans among these laborers. Six of them were recorded as working at the Mitsubishi Shipyard, two at the Hatajima Coal Mine, and others spread out between the Kawanami Shipyard and Mitsubishi Steelworks. The list records the day the Korean laborers joined and discontinued their insurance, a period ranging from seven to 36 months. For most of them, Aug. 9, 1945, the day of the Nagasaki bombing, was recorded as the date insurance was discontinued. (Yonhap) (Korea Times, "LIST UNCOVERED NAMING 27 KOREAN FORCED LABORERS IN NAGASAKI," 05/28/97)

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Produced by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development.

Wade Huntley:
Berkeley, California, United States

Choi Chung-moon:
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Peter Razvin:
Moscow, Russian Federation

Chunsi Wu:
Shanghai, People's Republic of China

Dingli Shen:
Shanghai, People's Republic of China

Hiroyasu Akutsu:
Tokyo, Japan

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