The Nautilus Institute

Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network
For Monday, September 15, 1997, from Berkeley, California, USA

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Please note: There will be no ROK section of the Daily Report until Friday, September 19, due to the Chusok holidays.

In today's Report:

I. United States

I. United States

1. Four-Party Peace Talks

US Deputy State Department Spokesman James Foley ("STATE DEPARTMENT BRIEFING, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15," USIA Transcript, 9/15/97) confirmed that the second round of the preliminary four-party peace talks are set to begin Tuesday in New York. Foley had no further comment on the upcoming meetings.

2. DPRK Famine Conditions

The New York Times (Barbara Crossette, "NORTH KOREA FAMINE MAY BE KILLING 15 PERCENT IN TOWNS, SURVEY SAYS," 9/10/97, A6) reported that Andrew Natsios, vice president of the international relief organization World Vision, said Sunday that an informal survey conducted for Korean-American organizations has found that about 15 percent of people in the DPRK's towns and villages may be dying of starvation and famine-related diseases. The DPRK government was not informed of the survey, which reached some 400 individuals, and which was carried out by ethnic Koreans living on the PRC side of the PRC-DPRK border who can travel freely into the DPRK. Respondents told stories of unclaimed bodies being collected from village streets and coffins being reused to save wood. "Fifteen percent is a huge famine," Natsios said in a telephone interview Sunday from his home in Washington. "And the thing that's alarming is that those three provinces on the Chinese border where the survey was conducted are ones where the World Food Program has found that people are the best fed." Natsios said that if these figures are reflective of the national picture, as many as half a million of the DPRK's 22 million population may have died. In addition to calling for more food aid, World Vision and other private relief organizations also asking the secretive DPRK government to allow relief experts and reporters to travel freely in the country, especially to remote areas. "The North Korean government must be pressed to open the country up so that we can judge its needs," he said.

Reuters ("N. KOREA REPORTS INCREASED CORN CROP," Tokyo, 9/15/97) reported that the DPRK's official Radio and Television Broadcasting, monitored in Tokyo by the Radiopress news service, said on Monday that the DPRK expects to have a 30 percent increase in its corn harvest this year. The broadcast came days after the UN Food and Agricultural Organization and World Food Program expressed "very serious alarm" over the food shortage in the DPRK, where a drought and typhoon have aggravated two years of flooding. [Ed. note: See "DPRK Food Production Crisis" in the US section of the September 12 Daily Report.]

3. ROK Returns DPRK Body

Reuters ("S.KOREA SENDS HOME BODY OF N. KOREAN SOLDIER," Panmunjom, ROK, 9/15/97) reported that the ROK on Monday returned to the DPRK the body of a DPRK soldier shot on the heavily fortified demilitarized zone last Tuesday. At the border village of Panmunjom, a six-member honor guard from the US-led UN Command handed over the coffin to six DPRK guards. The ROK Defense Ministry has said the soldier was shot after he neared the ROK border and aimed his rifle at ROK border guards. The US, ROK and DPRK have all played down the shooting as an "isolated incident." The return of the soldier's body was seen as a goodwill gesture intended to clear the last hurdle for resumption of the four-party peace talks preliminary meetings in New York.

4. New US Ambassador to ROK

Reuters ("CLINTON NAMES AMBASSADORS TO VATICAN, S.KOREA," Washington, 9/13/97) reported that US President Clinton on Friday nominated veteran diplomat Stephen Bosworth to be the next US Ambassador to the ROK. Bosworth was US ambassador to Tunisia from 1979 to 1981 and to the Philippines from 1984 to 1987, and has also served in a number of positions in the State Department. [Ed. note: Bosworth most recently has served as head of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO), created to implement the construction of two new nuclear power plants in the DPRK called for in the 1994 US-DPRK Agreed Framework.]

5. PRC Military Policy

The Associated Press ("CHINA PLEDGES TO REDUCE MILITARY," Beijing, 9/12/97) reported that PRC Communist Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin, in a wide-ranging speech to 2,000 members of the communist elite, on Friday pledged to cut its 3 million-member military by 500,000 troops over three years. Jiang said the savings would go into upgrading weaponry and other defense systems to create a "more revolutionary, modernized and standardized army." "We should strengthen the army by relying on science and technology," he said. Foreign analysts and diplomats who spoke under condition of anonymity questioned whether the reduction represented a new commitment or was part of a process underway for the past few years. Hong Kong media known for their contacts inside the party and military have reported for two years that the People's Liberation Army planned to cut its numbers to 2 million under the current five-year plan, which began in 1996. The PRC has embarked on a concerted drive to modernize the military, testing long-range missiles and buying technology they can't make at home, such as advanced Sukhoi jet fighters, Kilo-class submarines and Sovremenny destroyers from Russia.

6. Japanese Foreign Policy Strategy

The San Jose Mercury News (Michael Zielenziger, "BEHIND JAPAN-RUSSIA THAW, A FEAR OF CHINA," Tokyo, 9/15/97) reported that some analysts and diplomats believe that a common fear of the growing power of the PRC is drawing Russia and Japan closer together diplomatically, a development that also benefits the US. Diplomats and Russian experts in Japan were cited as saying that Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto has sought to break five decades of distrust and a long stalemate over the Northern Territories to improve relations with Russia. The new dialogue "must be seen as a response to the growing concern over China," an Asian diplomat here said. "A confrontation with China is not something the Japanese want, so maybe if they get Russia on their side it will help strengthen them against China." The new overtures to Moscow also come as Japan is moving to renew its security pact with the US in ways to which the PRC has objected. PRC Premier Li Peng recently denounced as "totally unacceptable" proposed new US-Japan defense guidelines that would allow Japanese forces to support the US troops defending Taiwan from PRC military attack. Shigeki Hakamada, a Russian scholar and professor of international politics at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo, was quoted as saying, "If Japan, Russia and the United States all have good relations, the Chinese might have to face the problem of isolation." "If these three relationships are good, then China has to find a way to have good relations with the United States, too," Hakamada added.

7. US Position on Landmine Ban

The New York Times (David E. Sanger, "U.S., IN SHIFT, SAYS IT MAY SIGN TREATY TO BAN LAND MINES," Washington, 9/15/97, A1) reported that senior US government officials said on Sunday that the US informed its allies over the weekend that it could sign a treaty banning anti-personnel landmines under a compromise that would allow it an additional nine years before it begins to remove mines on the Korean peninsula. The report termed the move "a major change in policy" toward the treaty nearing completion at a conference in Oslo, Norway. Previously, the US has been insisting that its use of anti-personnel landmines in Korea be exempted from the treaty. The Pentagon initially opposed even joining the talks in Oslo, and has insisted upon the Korean exception. Neither the ROK nor the DPRK are parties to the talks, and neither would be bound by the treaty. In its new position, the US still seeks an allowance for certain deployments related to anti-tank landmines and a provision allowing withdrawal from the treaty. "We think that we have made a very major change in our position in order to smooth the way for an anti-land-mine treaty that the United States can sign," a senior White House official said on Sunday. "We hope that the other nations considering this treaty can now go the extra mile," the official added. US officials acknowledged that pressure on the US to join the treaty grew after the death two weeks ago of Diana, Princess of Wales, drew broader attention to the land-mine treaty, which she worked to advocate.

US Deputy State Department Spokesman James Foley ("STATE DEPARTMENT BRIEFING, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15," USIA Transcript, 9/15/97) confirmed that the US has introduced a "compromise proposal" to the Oslo treaty negotiations, under which the US would drop it proposed exception for the use of landmines on the Korean peninsula, but only after a "deferral period" of nine years. Foley termed this "a negotiating change," arguing that, contrary to media reports, the US has not changed its basic position on a global ban on landmines. "Our goals in Oslo remain the same. We are seeking to achieve a key presidential objective which deals with the humanitarian problem of landmines by seeking a global ban as soon as possible while at the same time safeguarding our national security interests and those of our friends and allies," Foley said.

US White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry ("WHITE HOUSE DAILY BRIEFING, SEPTEMBER 15, 1997," USIA Transcript, 9/15/97) denied that the US has changed its position on a global ban on landmines. "Our position is that we want to eradicate landmines and achieve an international convention that meets our objectives and we've got some approaches we're exploring at Oslo," McCurry said. McCurry added that, "as a practical matter, we will continue to pursue our interest in a ban on anti-personnel land mines, subject to the exclusions that are necessary for the Commander in Chief, the President of the United States, given the unique responsibilities that we have in certain places in the world." Asked if Princess Diana's position on landmines has affected the administration's evolving policy position, McCurry said, "No, I think that her advocacy and the outpouring of grief for her, and her recognized leadership on that issue affect the climate in which the issue is addressed, but it hasn't affected the approach that we have undertaken which is to achieve the ban on landmines that we are after consistent with what the President's responsibilities are as Commander in Chief."

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Wade Huntley:
Berkeley, California, United States

Choi Chung-moon:
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Shin Dong-bom:
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Hiroyasu Akutsu:
Tokyo, Japan

Peter Razvin:
Moscow, Russian Federation

Chunsi Wu:
Shanghai, People's Republic of China

Dingli Shen:
Shanghai, People's Republic of China

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