The Nautilus Institute

Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network
For Wednesday, September 17, 1997, from Berkeley, California, USA

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In today's Report:

I. United States

I. United States

1. Four-Party Peace Talks

US State Department Spokesman Jaime Rubin ("STATE DEPARTMENT NOON BRIEFING, SEPTEMBER 17," USIA Transcript, 9/17/97) described Tuesday's US-DPRK bilateral meeting in New York as "useful and constructive. They were conducted in a business-like atmosphere. The entire range of bilateral issues were discussed." Rubin said the DPRK reacted favorably to a US proposal to send a team of experts to investigate the DPRK food shortage. The US also informed the DPRK of its intention to survey US citizens' financial claims against the DPRK, which "would be the initial step necessary to eventually resolve the issue of remaining frozen North Korean assets in the US." Regarding the recent DPRK defections, Rubin said, "I'm not aware that came up in any significant way. I mean, as we have stated earlier, we regard the defector issue as not linked to the four-party peace process or to other issues. As I understand it, they did raise it, but I doubt it got into much detail." Rubin also said the US proposed resumption of missile proliferation talks in October, and that the DPRK delegation "said they would get back to us."

United Press International ("U.S., CHINA, S.KOREA SET FOR PEACE TALKS," Seoul, 9/17/97) reported that US officials were set to meet ROK and PRC officials in bilateral talks in preparation for resumption of the preliminary four-party Korean peace talks in New York on Thursday and Friday.

2. DPRK Tidal Wave Recovery

Reuters ("FLOODS THREATEN NEW CALAMITY IN NORTH KOREA-U.N.," Beijing, 9/17/97) reported that Christian Lemaire, Pyongyang representative of the United Nations Development Program, said Wednesday that some 40,000 DPRK peasants are waging a desperate but probably futile effort to rebuild a sea wall flattened by a tidal wave in order to prevent worse damage to a key grain-producing region. In August, a tidal wave whipped up by a typhoon destroyed a 200,000-hectare (494,000-acre) swath of rice paddy running inland from the wall. Lemaire said that the peasants, malnourished and working around the clock using only bare hands, in just two days had rebuilt a head-high wall of mud and rock along a 40 kilometer (24 mile) stretch of eastern coastline. However, he said the effort probably was in vain, because an unusually high sea tide was expected to wash over the primitive dike on Saturday or Sunday, depositing a fresh blanket of salt over what was once some of the DPRK's most fertile rice paddy fields. "They've done what they can, but it's not enough," Lemaire said during a visit to Beijing.

3. US Position on Landmine Ban

Reuters ("U.S. LEFT OUT OF LANDMINE AGREEMENT," Oslo, 9/17/97) reported that an international treaty to ban landmines was endorsed Wednesday by the 89-nation conference in Oslo, Norway, but the US refused to sign the accord. US delegation head Eric Newsom said that he was disappointed the conference had refused to accept a US-proposed compromise formula that met US security concerns. "Completion of this treaty is certainly a significant accomplishment. I think it would have been a much stronger treaty had they taken the steps so that the US would have been able to join with others," he said.

The AP-Dow Jones News Service ("U.S. CLINTON WON'T ENDORSE LAND MINE TREATY," Washington, 9/17/97) reported that shortly after the treaty to create an immediate and total ban on anti-personnel mines was approved by acclamation in Oslo, presidential spokesman Mike McCurry said the US would not be a signatory because, although President Clinton supports the ban, it does not include several exceptions the US requires. McCurry said Wednesday, "We are determined to continue to press for the eradication of anti-personnel landmines. We regret that the document emerging from Oslo ... will not meet some of the necessary precautions that the United States insists upon as we make the transition to a landmine-free globe."

US President Clinton ("CLINTON REMARKS ON LANDMINES SEPTEMBER 17," USIA Transcript, 9/17/97) explained the US refusal to sign the landmine ban treaty reached in Oslo and announced a series of steps that the US "will take on its own to advance" US efforts "to rid the world of landmines." Clinton said the absence of recognition in the treaty for the continuing US need for landmines in the Korean peninsula was a key sticking point. Clinton stated: "There, our 37,000 troops and their South Korean allies face an army of one million North Koreans only 27 miles away from Seoul, Korea. ... In the event of an attack, the North's overwhelming numerical advantage can only be countered if we can slow down its advance, call in reinforcements and organize our defense. Our antipersonnel mines there are a key part of our defense line in Korea. They are deployed along a DMZ where there are no villages and no civilians, [and so] are not creating the problem we are trying to address in the world." Among the unilateral initiatives the US would be taking instead, Clinton announced that the US would develop alternative technologies of defense that would eliminate the need for landmines in Korea by 2006, "the time period for which we were negotiating in Oslo. ... In short, this program will eliminate all antipersonnel landmines from America's arsenal."

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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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