The Nautilus Institute

Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network
For Wednesday, October 1, 1997, from Berkeley, California, USA

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In today's Report:

I. United States

II. Republic of Korea

I. United States

1. Four-Party Peace Talks

Reuters (Carol Giacomo, "U.S. HOPES FOR KOREA PEACE MOVE NEXT MONTH," Washington, 9/30/97) reported that US officials who met their DPRK, ROK and PRC negotiating partners in New York several weeks ago have concluded that the DPRK is stalling on peace talks until Kim Jong-il is formally vested as his country's leader. The DPRK's state media last week reported the start of a long-delayed process that could see Kim Jong-il finally assume power officially. One US official told Reuters that the DPRK may also be waiting to see how ROK elections set for December turn out, but he noted that such a strategy could be risky because a new government in the ROK may withdraw the peace talks proposal from the table, adding that the DPRK has been warned of this possibility. The US view has been colored by extensive discussions with PRC officials, including talks in New York last week between US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and PRC Foreign Minister Qian Qichen. One US official said that the most recent meetings on the four-party talks broke off after the DPRK negotiators made clear, "we have no flexibility on anything. We have no authority to reach any agreements. We want everything we ever said plus a little more." While it remains possible that the DPRK wants to stall peace talks permanently, US officials believe it is more likely that the DPRK's failing economic system will ultimately compel it to negotiate.

2. US Secretary of State on DPRK Policy

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: ("SECSTATE AT COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS SEPT. 30," USIA Transcript, 10/1/97), commented on current US policy toward the DPRK. Albright stated: "North Korea is a dinosaur in the international system. The people are suffering there because of a government that is completely out of step with what is happening in the world. Clearly, the people there, large portions of them, are starving while, in fact, there continues to be support for their military. It has been our desire to try to do what we can to get reconciliation on the Peninsula and to move towards peace and a normal relationship with North Korea. There have been four-party talks in the works. As you know, last week the final preparatory talks that we were involved in did not succeed, mainly because the North Koreans are involved in trying to leverage food assistance from all of us in order to go on with the four-party talks. The United States is the largest contributor to alleviating their food problem, but we do it as a result of a response to a humanitarian appeal through the World Food Program, and not as a way to bargain into these talks. So we want these talks to go forward. We are waiting for Pyongyang to figure out that basically it is to their advantage to get back with the talks. Our policy is to try to get reconciliation as we can through the four-party talks on the Korean Peninsula."

3. US Military Head to Visit ROK

Pentagon Spokesman Ken Bacon ("PENTAGON SPOKESMAN'S REGULAR TUESDAY BRIEFING," USIA Transcript, 10/1/97) reported that General Henry U. Shelton, newly sworn-in as the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, will go to the ROK in November for the annual Security Consultative Commission meetings. US Defense Secretary William Cohen will also attend those meetings as part of his Asian trip in November.

4. New Book on 1994 DPRK Nuclear Crisis

The Associated Press (George Gedda, "BOOK: US, N.KOREA NEARLY HAD WAR," Washington, 10/1/97) reported that, according to "The Two Koreas," a new book by former Washington Post reporter Don Oberdorfer, the dispute three years ago over the alleged DPRK nuclear bomb program triggered US military preparations for a war that senior officials believed could quickly have claimed hundreds of thousands of US and ROK casualties. The book quotes General Howell Estes, senior US Air Force commander in the ROK, as saying, "We all thought we were going to war." While former US President Jimmy Carter was initiating consultations with then DPRK President Kim Il-Sung, General Gary Luck, the US military commander in the ROK, met with the US ambassador to the ROK, James Laney, to plan the urgent evacuation of the 80,000 US civilians in the ROK, Oberdorfer writes. Meanwhile, Pentagon officials were examining a series of military options, one of which called for boosting air power in the ROK and adding tens of thousands of US troops to the more than 35,000 already there, but feared that such a buildup would lead to a preemptive strike by the DPRK. On June 16, while US President Bill Clinton and his top advisers were meeting on the crisis at the White House, Carter called with the news that Kim had agreed to make some concessions, including a freeze of his nuclear program.

5. Pending US Congressional Action on PRC

The Associated Press (Slobodan Lekic, "HOUSE BANS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATORS," Washington, 10/01/97) reported that on Tuesday the US House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution urging the Clinton administration to supply Taiwan with the latest theater anti-ballistic missile system, if the government in Taiwan requests it. "The only point we want to send to Beijing is: You mess around and we'll put some missiles in your back yard," said Representative Donald Manzullo (R-Ill). US State Department representatives opposed the resolution, arguing that it was premature. "I think this measure will be viewed as taking China as an enemy, as a hostile measure," said Susan Shirk, deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia. "It will cause some disruption in our plans for the summit." The US already has sold Taipei the latest version of the Patriot missiles used in the Gulf War, which Taiwan requested after the PRC test-fired missiles into waters near the island in 1995 and 1996. However, Taipei has not asked for an upgraded version of the missile, which is still on the drawing boards. Later Tuesday, the US House International Relations Committee voted to bar PRC officials who commit human rights violations from visiting the US. "We don't want the ghouls of the world to come here," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), one of the measure's co-sponsors. The legislation is part of an attempt by Republican conservatives to influence the agenda of the upcoming summit between President Clinton and PRC President Jiang Zemin. Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.), the committee's ranking Democrat, criticized the move. "The cumulative effect of these bills does a number of things: It points us in the direction of cutting off dialogue with China, in the direction of disengagement from China, in the direction of making China the enemy," he said.

II. Republic of Korea

1. ROK Air Force

According the officials at the ROK Defense Ministry, the recent crashes of ROK KF-16 fighter jets will likely eliminate any chance of aircraft makers receiving additional orders from the ROK government for the production of KF-16 jets. This decision would be a big blow for local aircraft manufacturers such as the Samsung Aerospace Industry Co. which had been trying to get government orders to make up for a lack of private sector orders. The crashes, however, likely will not scrap the Korea Fighter Program (KFP) itself. (Korea Herald, Song Jung-tae, "KF-16 JET CRASHES LIKELY TO LEAD TO TEMPORARY FACTORY CLOSINGS IN 1999," 10/01/97)

2. Russian Nuclear Plans

Russian President Boris Yeltsin said Monday that Russia will significantly reduce its stockpiles of plutonium and highly enriched uranium as part of an overall nuclear cutback. In a letter to the Geneva-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is holding its 41st general session, Yeltsin said Russia would remove 500 tons of weapons-grade uranium and 50 tons of plutonium from its military programs. A recent international study concluded that a total of 1,750 tons of highly enriched uranium and 230 tons plutonium have been produced worldwide for military purposes over the past 50 years. (Korea Times, "YELTSIN ANNOUNCES MAJOR CUTS IN N-MATERIALS," 10/01/97)

3. ROK Presidential Elections

The ruling New Korea Party (NKP) selected Chairman Lee Hoi-chang, already its presidential candidate, to be its new president at its national convention held at a Taegu gymnasium Tuesday afternoon. Lee will now begin his election campaign in earnest and organize a new party leadership around October 6th. However, with the election only eighty days away, Lee currently ranks third in recent media polls, following National Congress for New Politics leader Kim Dae-jung and independent candidate Rhee In-je. (Chosun Ilbo, "LEE HOI-CHANG ELECTED NKP PRESIDENT," 10/01/97)

4. Financing Reunification of Korea

A report presented Tuesday to the ROK National Assembly's Reunification and Foreign Affairs Committee by the Ministry of National Unification said that the ministry will gear up for reunification by establishing a budget for crisis management, and that it is considering various ways to finance a prospective reunification. The ministry did not specify its estimation of the cost of unification. (Korea Herald, "GOVERNMENT STUDIES HOW TO FINANCE REUNIFICATION WITH DPRK," 10/01/97) [Ed. note: See "Financing Reunification of Korea" in the ROK Section of the September 30 Daily Report.]

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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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