The Nautilus Institute

Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network
For Thursday, September 4, 1997, from Berkeley, California, USA

The Daily Report is distributed to e-mail participants of the Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network (NAPSNet). For more information on the Daily Report, visit the NAPSNet Daily Report Page. To join the network and receive the Daily Report by email, visit the NAPSNet Signup Page. Send news items, discussion contributions, or other comments to:

A plain text version of the most recent Daily Report may be obtained automatically by sending an email message in any form to: Other recent hypertext (web) version Daily Reports may be found through the Recent Daily Reports Calendar. Plain text versions of all previous Daily Reports may be accessed (using either web browsers or ftp software) in the Daily Report Archive.

In today's Report:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

I. United States

1. Chang Defection

US Deputy State Department Spokesman James Foley ("STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, SEPTEMBER 3, 1997," USIA Transcript, 9/3/97), was asked if the DPRK was telling the US diplomatically, as it was saying publicly, that US haven to diplomatic defectors Chang Sung-kil and Chang Sung-ho was a hurdle to continuing the preliminary four-party Korean peace talks. Foley replied, "Without getting into specifics, what you've seen publicly has been reflected. But we've seen no indication, to this point, of a change of plans in regard to the four-party talks, which we still hope will take place the week of September 15." Foley added that he had nothing new to say on the issue of granting asylum to the defectors.

2. DPRK Famine Effects on DPRK Military

The Associated Press (Susanne M. Schafer, "N. KOREAN SOLDIERS HARVEST CROPS," Seoul, 9/4/97) reported that a senior US military officer, who is based in the ROK and focuses on the defense of US and allied forces there, told reporters on condition of anonymity that the DPRK military has cut training time in half so troops can help harvest the drought-stricken nation's summer crops. The officer said that for their efforts soldiers receive more food than the civilian population but not "a varied diet as we know it." However, the officer added that the work does not appear to have affected the DPRK military's readiness, and there appeared to be no lessening of discipline among the troops, nor a fracturing of the DPRK's political and military leadership. Meanwhile, Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-N.Y.), chairman of the US House Committee on International Relations, has requested a study of how US and other foreign food assistance to the DPRK is being used. Mark Kirk, chief counsel for the committee, said that the PRC, which provides the majority of the DPRK's food aid, is "unconcerned" about monitoring it, and that expatriate North Koreans in Japan believe most of this aid goes to government and military officials.

3. US View of DPRK Tidal Wave, Food Aid

US Deputy State Department Spokesman James Foley ("STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, SEPTEMBER 3, 1997," USIA Transcript, 9/3/97), asked about reports that a tidal wave on August 21 destroyed a large portion of this year's DPRK corn crop and displaced some 28,000 people, replied, "Well, clearly the people of North Korea have been much plagued by calamity over the years and certainly in recent years." Foley stated that the US "would be willing to look at any additional requests that the World Food Program might bring our way," adding, "We made, I think, an important policy decision not to link political considerations with the plight of the North Korean people and what we feel is a responsibility that is shared by the American people to help people in need. That hasn't changed."

4. Private US Aid to DPRK

The New York Times ("NORTH KOREA TO ACCEPT PRIVATE U.S. MEDICAL AID," United Nations, 9/4/97) reported that the DPRK has given permission to the private relief organization Americares to airlift about US$23 million worth of donated medicines to the country for emergency use, officials of the charity said Wednesday. Americares plans to announce details of its agreement Thursday and expects to make its first flight early next week. Robert C. Macauley, founder and chairman of Americares, said Wednesday that he believes their chartered cargo plane will be the first civilian US plane to land in Pyongyang since 1949, a year before the beginning of the Korean war.

The Associated Press (Russ Bynum, "N. KOREANS GET FARMING LESSON," Athens, Ga., 9/4/97) reported that the University of Georgia recently hosted a DPRK delegation of agricultural and economic officials for a three-day examination of US farming techniques. Choe Kang-ryong, director of seed production and management for the DPRK Agricultural Commission, said through an interpreter, "We are trying to develop and increase production of grain to a point where we can be self-subsistent ... with the eventual goal of elevating our people's living standard to internationally accepted living standards." Han S. Park, director of the university's center for global studies and the delegation's host, organized the visit six months ago in the hope that the DPRK could glean some long- and short-term solutions to the country's food shortage. Park, a ROK native, commented, "They kept saying, 'God is unfair -- one country has been so richly given compared to others.'"

5. ROK Military Spending

Reuters ("KOREA TO BUY AWACS JETS, MISSILES - PENTAGON," Washington, 9/3/97) reported that the US Defense Department said Wednesday that the ROK plans to buy four Boeing E-767 airborne warning and control system (AWACS) jets at a cost estimated at US$3 billion. The ROK also intends to purchase 248 shoulder-fired "Stinger" anti-aircraft missiles from the US for another US$45 million. The Pentagon said, in a notice to the US Congress, that the weapons would improve both sea and air defense of a key ally against possible DPRK attack. The notice did not say when the sales would be completed or when the AWACS planes would be delivered.

The AP-Dow Jones News Service ("S. KOREA STILL UNDECIDED ON MODEL FOR EARLY WARNING AIRCRAFT," Seoul, 9/3/97) reported that the ROK Defense Ministry denied a US Defense Department statement that the ROK has asked to buy four Boeing E-767 Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) jets. The ministry confirmed that it requested price and technical information on the US-made AWACS planes in February, but said it has made no decision to buy them. Ministry officials said they also were considering planes made in other countries, but refused to elaborate. The ROK has said previously that it plans to buy four early warning airplanes during a 10-year period starting in 2001. The ROK currently has no such early warning aircraft. [Ed. note: See also "ROK Military Spending" in the ROK section, below.]

The Associated Press carried a press release issued by the Lockheed Martin Corporation announcing that the company had received a contract from the ROK to purchase 29 units of the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) at a cost of US$82 million, with delivery expected to be completed by July 1999.

6. ROK Popular Views of Korean Unification

The New York Times (Nicholas D. Kristoff, "IN SOUTH, KOREAN UNITY APPEALING IN ABSTRACT ONLY," Kumgok, ROK, 8/31/97, A8) reported that, throughout the ROK, ordinary people are beginning to express openly their doubts about the practical desirability of Korean unification in the foreseeable future. The report noted that, while the viewpoint is increasingly common, many are still uncomfortable challenging the established teaching that unification as soon as possible is the supreme national goal. Ironically, the desirability of reunification is waning for the same reason as its occurrence may be growing more likely: a DPRK economic and political collapse, were it to produce a speedy reunification, would also impose significant material and social burdens on the ROK government and population. The report quoted a number of average individuals cognizant of the hard lessons of German unification, and whose concerns included not only how and when to provide food aid to DPRK residents now, but also how and when to integrate them into ROK democracy later on.

7. PRC-Japan Relations

The Associated Press ("JAPAN TRIES TO EASE CHINA'S FEARS," Beijing, 9/4/97) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto tried Thursday to ease PRC fears about a US-Japanese military treaty that threatened to spoil his first visit to the PRC as Japanese leader. The PRC, upset at remarks by a Japanese official last month that the treaty could lead to Japanese support for US forces in a conflict over Taiwan, has called the agreement a Cold War throwback intended to isolate it. Hashimoto told his PRC counterpart, Li Peng, that Japan "does not envision the possibility" of conflict around Taiwan and would stick to its purely defensive military policy, according to a transcript released by Japanese officials. However, Japanese and Chinese spokesmen gave differing accounts of the meeting. Asked whether the PRC was satisfied with Hashimoto's explanation of Japanese policy, Cui Tiankai, a spokesman for the PRC Foreign Ministry, responded, "That's the thing we will have to see."

8. US Plans Laser Test on Satellite

The New York Times (William J. Broad, "MILITARY IS HOPING TO TEST-FIRE LASER AGAINST SATELLITE," 9/1/97, A1), reported that the developers of the most powerful US military laser, operated by the Army at a base in New Mexico, are seeking permission to fire the laser at a US$60 million Air Force satellite currently in orbit. The test would be the first of its kind and a major step in the development of a weapon that could destroy satellites and other spacecraft. The US Defense Department regards this new capability as needed to enable the US to retain its long-held dominance of space-based reconnaissance, but arms control advocates say the test could set off a new arms race. Military officials suggested the final decision on conducting the test would be made by the Secretary of Defense and the President, and offered differing views as to the likelihood of its approval.

US Defense Department Spokesman Ken Bacon ("PENTAGON SPOKESMAN'S REGULAR TUESDAY BRIEFING," USIA Transcript, 9/3/97) replied to questions concerning reports that the US military may test-fire its most powerful laser against an orbiting satellite. Bacon said, "That question has not reached the Secretary yet and no decision has been made, and I think it's premature to talk about it until a decision is made." However, Bacon said, "we have a national space policy that allows us to consider ways to protect our assets in space and to control space to the event necessary to protect our national security interests." "If the test took place, it would produce two types of information. First, it would give us some data on the vulnerability of our own satellites and, secondly, it would give us information on space control systems that we might be able to develop in the future, if we wanted to develop them," he said. Bacon added, "There is no treaty, and there is no legislative injunction against conducting such an experiment." Bacon distinguished between this laser and the airborne laser that is part of the Theater Missile Defense System. Bacon said of the latter, "that's basically designed to shoot a target that is moving through a parabolic flight path. That's an entirely different challenge than this." Asked if the test might spark an arms race, Bacon replied, "In all complex decisions there are many considerations."

9. Russian "Seismic Event"

US Defense Department Spokesman Ken Bacon ("PENTAGON SPOKESMAN'S REGULAR TUESDAY BRIEFING," USIA Transcript, 9/3/97) commented on reports that data from nearby seismic monitoring stations suggests Russia may have conducted a small nuclear test August 16 near its Novaya Zemlya nuclear test site. "There has not been any determination as to what caused that seismic event in Russia, and it remains a mystery," Bacon said. "Some experts believe it could have been an earthquake; others believe that it had the characteristics of an explosion," he said, adding it also is not clear whether the "seismic event" took place on land or on the water. Bacon added that Russia's denial that it conducted a nuclear test has not resolved the issue. "We are continuing to look at all of the seismic and other information available," Bacon said.

The US Defense Department issued a statement ("PENTAGON CORRECTION ON RUSSIAN SEISMIC EVENT," USIA Transcript, 9/3/97) to clarify an earlier comment by a department spokesman concerning the Russian "seismic event." The statement read: "In response to a question regarding the recent seismic event in Russia during the regular DoD briefing on Aug. 28, 1997, the spokesman, Capt. Mike Doubleday, USN, incorrectly said: 'If the seismic event was actually a low-level nuclear test event, then the Russians would be violating the object and the purpose of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.' The Department believes a low-level nuclear test would be a breach of the Russian moratorium that has been in place for at least five years, but not a violation of the CTBT since it has not yet entered into force. Beyond that, we do not believe it useful to make a legal determination. We have not yet reached any conclusions on the nature of the seismic event."

The Washington Times (Bill Gertz, "SEISMIC ANALYSTS DIFFER ON 'EVENT' IN RUSSIA," Washington, 9/3/97) reported that the Institute for Science and International Security said in a statement that Russia should allow experts to determine the nature of the August 16 "seismic event" near its nuclear test site. "Russia should allow a team of international experts to visit the test site and the surrounding area to look for evidence of a nuclear yield," the private research group said in a statement. "Such a visit would help clarify ambiguous data and help reassure the international community that Russia is adhering to its nuclear test moratorium, as it says," the statement said. A second private research group, the Center for Security Policy, said the suspected nuclear test is "a dramatic opening salvo in the fight expected to occur in the US Senate" over ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

II. Republic of Korea

1. DPRK-Japan Red Cross Talks

The DPRK and Japanese Red Cross societies will meet in Beijing Saturday, reportedly to discuss the pending visit by DPRK resident Japanese wives to Japan. According to the DPRK's official news agency, the meeting will focus on humanitarian issues. The DPRK Red Cross delegation will be headed by Li Song-ho, who was also chief delegate to the inter-Korean Red Cross talks held in March and July. The DPRK and Japan agreed to hold Red Cross talks at their preliminary talks on normalization of bilateral relations August 21. (Korea Herald, "DPRK, JAPAN TO HOLD RED CROSS TALKS," 09/03/97)

2. DPRK Defectors

The number of DPRK citizens defecting to the ROK has steadily risen over the past five years, to number around 40 to 50 per year, but is expected to rise to around 100 this year. Whereas past defectors mostly crossed the Military Demarcation Line by sea or on land, recent defectors have come via the PRC. Last year many defectors reached the ROK from the PRC via Hong Kong, with the help of the Hong Kong field office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and with benign oversight by the PRC. However, this route has been closed since the defection of the Kim Kyung-ho family in December 1996, and the return of Hong Kong to the PRC sovereignty, so more are now trying to defect directly from the PRC, although it involves more risks, in part because the PRC government does not recognize the function of the UNHCR Office in Beijing and has a criminal extradition treaty with the DPRK. The ROK government said early this year that about 500 defectors have applied for political asylum at the ROK Embassy in the PRC. The Seoul government has said that it will accept all defectors who can prove they have family in the DPRK. (Korea Herald, Kim Ji-soo, "MORE DEFECTORS COMING THROUGH PRC," 09/04/97)

3. ROK Military Spending

The ROK Defense Ministry is likely to see its requested 12.5 percent increase in the ROK military budget reduced to a 5.8 percent increase. The new and slimmer budget proposal will be submitted to the regular National Assembly session this year should it survive the scrutiny by the Finance and Economy Ministry on September 9. The ministry is concerned that the reduced growth will constrain big ticket Force Improvement (FI) programs and also require cuts in the soldiers' food budget. Among the FI projects to be affected are the purchase of airborne early warning & control systems (AWACS), the overhaul of K-series weapons and equipment, and the Navy's KDX-II destroyer program. The ROK Air Force considers the AWACS to be especially needed to "put an eye on the blind man of the ROK military intelligence." A ministry official said that there is no way of telling when the AWACS program will be revived. (Korea Herald, Oh Young-jin, "SLIMMER DEFENSE BUDGET LIKELY TO AFFECT SOLDIERS' MEAL TRAYS," 09/03/97)

4. ROK Ex-Presidents' Amnesty

ROK President Kim Young-sam, discussing proposals for a special amnesty for the former presidents Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, said Wednesday, "Granting amnesty ought to be considered sometime in my presidential term, but the time is not ripe yet." The statements conflicted with the position of Lee Hoi-chang, Chairman of the ruling New Korea Party (NKP), who has proposed "granting amnesty before Chusok." Chief Secretary Moon Jong-soo said, speaking for President Kim, "Amnesty should not be granted according to political concerns, ignoring the legislative measures taken against the former presidents." Chief Moon added, "That means no amnesty or release is granted before Chusok." Now, the focus is on the meeting of President Kim and Chairman Lee in which conflicts between the two as well as the possible changing of presidential candidates for the ruling party are expected to be discussed. An official concerned commented, "The timing for granting amnesty is highly likely to be around Christmas, just after the presidential election." (Joongang Ilbo, "PRES. KIM SAYS 'PARDONS FOR CHUN, ROH NOT POSSIBLE BEFORE CHUSOK'," 09/03/97)

The ROK opposition National Congress for New Politics (NCNP), in its staff meeting Wednesday, reaffirmed its support for granting special amnesty to former presidents Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, stating, "Although a grand harmony resulting from apologies of the offenders and forgiveness of the victims would leave nothing wanted, forgiving first could be an alternative considering the circumstances of today." Attendees of the meeting, including NCNP president Kim Dae-jung, added, "It would be good to take care of the matter while President Kim is still in power." (Joongang Ilbo, "UNCONDITIONAL PARDON FOR CHUN, ROH, NCNP POSITION CONFIRMED," 09/03/97)

5. USFK to Return Land to ROK

Negotiations expected soon to conclude will result in the return of over 19.8 million square meters of land in Tongduchon, north of Seoul, originally ceded to US Forces Korea (USFK) for use as a training grounds. A senior ROK Ministry of Defense official said yesterday, on condition of anonymity, "We have a few minor details to work out before the agreement is signed and the land is returned to its owners. I expect that the agreement will be finalized this month at the earliest." The official added, "There will be a working level meeting between the deputy chief of the ministry's policy bureau and the USFK logistics officer to iron out remaining differences next week. An agreement is possible in that meeting." The last remaining differences between the two sides concern how many days US forces will be allowed to use ROK training ranges in return for handing over the Tongduchon training grounds, now under the control of the US 2nd Infantry Division. The return of the land is thought to be the first such case under the ROK-US Status Forces Agreement (SOFA). (Korea Times, Oh Young-jin, "USFK TO HAND OVER LAND IN TONGDUCHON," 09/04/97)

6. ROK Nuclear Energy

The Wolsung No.2 Power Plant, the ROK's second pressured heavy water nuclear reactor, which began commercial operation in July, was completed on Wednesday. Wolsung No.2 adds 700 thousand kilowatts to the ROK's electrical capacity, increasing the total to 1.302 billion kilowatts. The ROK now has 12 nuclear power plants supplying 36 percent of the nation's electricity. The power plant cost a total of 1.33 trillion won. (Chosun Ilbo, "Wolsung Power No.2 Generator Completed," 09/04/97)

The NAPSNet Daily Report aims to serve as a forum for dialogue and exchange among peace and security specialists. Conventions for readers and a list of acronyms and abbreviations are available to all recipients. For descriptions of the world wide web sites used to gather information for this report, or for more information on web sites with related information, see the collection of other NAPSNet resources.
We invite you to reply to today's report, and we welcome commentary or papers for distribution to the network.

Produced by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development.

Wade Huntley:
Berkeley, California, United States

Shin Dong-bom:
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

Return to the top of this Daily Report

Go to the Daily Report Archive

Return to the Nautilus Institute Home Page