The Nautilus Institute

Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network
For Friday, May 29, 1998, from Berkeley, California, USA

Policy Forum Online 17: Implications of South Asian Nuclear Tests

Photos: Nautilus Wind Energy Team Visits the DPRK.

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I. United States

II. Republic of Korea III. Japan

I. United States

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1. DPRK Military Threat

Reuters ("NKOREA BIGGEST THREAT TO ASIA PEACE-US JAPAN ENVOY," Tokyo, 05/29/98) reported that US ambassador to Japan Thomas Foley said on Friday that the DPRK represented the most serious potential threat to Asian regional peace. Foley stated that Japan and the US "consult closely on how we can manage the problem of North Korea, which remains the most serious potential threat to regional peace." Meanwhile, Kyodo news agency on Thursday quoted an anonymous top Japanese Foreign Ministry official as saying there could be a possible transfer of nuclear technology from Pakistan to the DPRK if Pakistan "goes nuclear."

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2. DPRK Agricultural Development

The Associated Press ("N. KOREA, AID DONORS DISCUSS PROGRAM FOR RECOVERY," Geneva, 05/29/98) reported that DPRK Vice Foreign Minister Choe Su-hon said Friday that the DPRK will be able to feed its people without emergency aid in three years if a recovery plan is implemented. Choe stated, "We are sure that in three years' time we can manage to produce the necessary quantity of cereals." Choe said that while limited fertile land does not permit any extension of private ownership at present, "The principle of self-reliance ... does not exclude foreign trade relations, joint ventures and foreign investments." He added that the DPRK is willing to establish trade relations "even with countries hostile to my country." Choe claimed that the DPRK had made available "everything that we can make public" in terms of agricultural statistics to visiting UN experts. The UN said that, based on DPRK figures, production of rice, which ran an average of 445 grams a day per person until 1993, dropped to barely a quarter of that by 1996. While it has recovered slightly, it still will be only 308 grams daily per person by the year 2000. The total cost of the "action plan" worked out by the DPRK and the UN Development Program is estimated at US$2 billion over three years. The DPRK said that it needs US$300 million of that from other countries. Among other things, the plan aims to encourage crop diversification and help replant forests. Nay Htun of the UN Development Program said that the DPRK particularly welcomed an ROK offer to provide seeds, fertilizers, and other aid.

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3. ROK Food Aid to DPRK

The Associated Press ("SEOUL TO DONATE 40,000 TONS OF FOOD TO NORTH KOREA," Seoul, 05/29/98) reported that the ROK National Unification Ministry promised Friday to donate 30,000 tons of corn and 10,000 tons of wheat flour to the DPRK by August. The ministry stated, "We have our own domestic economic difficulties but we will continue to help our northern brethren."

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4. Pakistan Nuclear Tests

Reuters (Tahir Ikram, "PAKISTAN SENDS MIXED SIGNALS ON NEW N-TESTS," Islamabad, 05/29/98) reported that Pakistan Finance Minister Sartaj Aziz said Friday that "There is no prospect at the moment" that Pakistan will conduct further nuclear tests. However, Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan said in an interview with the US network ABC, "One cannot rule [more tests] out. The prime minister has not said anything in his speech in this regard." In Washington, an unnamed US intelligence official stated, "We have indications that they are working at a second site for a possible additional test. We are monitoring it carefully. They could be in a position to conduct a test in the next couple of days."

Reuters ("PAKISTAN DENIES ARMING MISSILE WITH N-WARHEADS," Islamabad, 05/29/98) reported that the Pakistan Foreign Ministry said in a statement that newspaper reports that Pakistan was fitting nuclear warheads to its Ghauri missile were "patently wrong." Earlier, a foreign Ministry spokesman said he was not aware of any further test-firings of the Ghauri on Friday.

United Press International ("PAKISTAN TESTS LONG-RANGE MISSILE," Islamabad, 05/29/98) reported that Pakistani Defense Ministry officials said Friday that Pakistan has tested a long-range ballistic missile that is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. The officials said that the Shaheen missile has a range of 1,500 miles (2,500 km).

The Associated Press (Kathy Gannon, "PAKISTAN DECLARES NUCLEAR STATEHOOD," Islamabad, 05/29/98) and Reuters ("PAKISTAN DECLARES EMERGENCY AFTER NUCLEAR TESTS," Islamabad, 05/28/98) reported that Pakistan Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan said that Pakistan is now a nuclear power and would respond in kind to any Indian attack. Ayub stated, "Our retaliation would be taken swiftly, with vengeance and devastating effect." Ayub said that Pakistan was on high alert Wednesday, as it had "concrete evidence" that India had armed several jet fighters with bombs it was preparing to drop on Pakistan's nuclear facilities. He reiterated that Pakistan will put nuclear warheads on some of its Ghauri missiles. He also said that Pakistan would be willing to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty if India also signed. Ayub said that Pakistan waited before testing to see what protection it could expect from the West, but found the offers of assistance insufficient. He said that Pakistan had a choice to "face sanctions for three months, six months, one year, two years, or face the hegemonic and military domination of India." On Thursday, Pakistan President Rafiq Tarar declared a state of emergency, citing threats of "external aggression." The order suspends Pakistan's constitution and legal system and gives extraordinary powers to the government.

Reuters ("U.S.: NO SIGN OF PAKISTAN THERMONUCLEAR BLAST," Washington, 05/28/98) reported that Defense Department spokesman Ken Bacon said Thursday that there was no immediate evidence that Pakistan's nuclear tests included a thermonuclear explosion. Bacon stated, "We haven't seen any evidence of a fusion device, or a thermonuclear device. But we are going to be spending a lot of time evaluating the evidence." He added that there was no evidence that India and Pakistan were quickly moving toward nuclear conflict, but noted that both countries were developing missiles capable of carrying such weapons deep into the territory of the other. He also stated, "I think we have realized for a long time that both countries had the capability to put together a nuclear weapon very quickly." Bacon suggested that limited sanctions placed on Pakistan earlier by the US Congress may have contributed to their decision to test the nuclear option. He stated, "Since they were unable to develop conventional forces the way they wanted to -- to modernize their air forces -- they saw that they had little choice but to move ahead with a nuclear capability. Clearly, a country has a number of military options. And to the extent that you shut down some of them, that forces them to pay more attention to the fewer remaining options."

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5. PRC Reactions to South Asian Nuclear Tests

Reuters (Benjamin Kang Lim, "CHINA FEARS NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION," Beijing, 05/29/98) reported that analysts in Beijing and Hong Kong said on Friday that fears of global nuclear proliferation prompted by the South Asian atomic tests could prompt the PRC to expand its own nuclear arsenal. They added that initial signals indicated that the PRC would not openly side with Pakistan against India, but rather would seek to defuse nuclear tensions. One unnamed Western diplomat was quoted as saying, "It's proliferation they are worried about. They're frightened Iran will be the next to test, then North Korea will test and then Japan will test. The thing that most scares them is the thought of a nuclear Japan." He also found significance in the PRC's failure to cast blame on India in Thursday's statement on the Pakistani tests. He stated, "They could have said India was to blame. They've left open the door to India." Ming Cheung, a Hong Kong-based military analyst, warned, "The nuclear arms race in South Asia has potential to spread and causes concern for China. At the end of the day, it can represent a direct threat to China's national security. China has to increase its nuclear capabilities just in case and also develop its anti-nuclear deterrence capabilities." He added, "Now that Pakistan has become a declared nuclear power China will have to back away in terms of the nuclear relationship in South Asia. China will think twice now in providing nuclear assistance or missile assistance." Another Western diplomat said, "The Chinese will be urging the Pakistanis: 'You've done your tests. You've evened the score. Let's have some restraint. Let's keep the temperature down.' It might bring the United States and China closer. Both sides are worried."

The Washington Post (John Pomfret, "CHINA ASKED PAKISTAN NOT TO CONDUCT TESTS," Beijing, 04/29/98, A36 ) reported that unnamed sources said that days before Pakistan conducted nuclear tests, PRC President Jiang Zemin, at the behest of President Clinton, wrote to the Pakistani government asking it not to launch a nuclear test. However, PRC sources confirmed that the PRC did not offer Pakistan any type of security guarantee. An informed Chinese source said that India's nuclear tests caused some PRC officials to reconsider any commitment they might have to US nonproliferation policy. The source stated, "The previous rationale was that we should agree with the nuclear powers to stop proliferation. But if the United States cannot convince other countries to stop nuclear development, and if it is seen as subtly supporting India, then we must rethink our whole rationale."

The Washington Times (Bill Gertz, "CHINA A MAJOR INFLUENCE IN EXPANDING THE NUCLEAR CLUB," 05/29/98) reported that former CIA director R. James Woolsey said that the PRC has had "a major hand" in the development of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. Woolsey said in an interview that the PRC provided weapons design information to Pakistan. He added that US government policy of relaxing exports to the PRC also "had some hand in giving the Indians an excuse to test." US Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said that the US has "not agreed" with the PRC on weapons proliferation, but a bilateral dialogue has led to "some progress on some issues." He added that the Clinton administration believes the motivation for India's tests, "which led directly to the Pakistani test, was not security concerns about China." Henry Sokolski, head of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, said that the US allowed the PRC to "build a production plant for missiles and nuclear materials and ignored their sales of M-11s and ring magnets. The Chinese certainly have been active." he said. He added that India's nuclear and missile program benefited from US assistance to India's civilian reactor program and space launchers. William C. Tripplet, a former Republican counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the US State Department acknowledged for the first time in 1996 that Chinese experts had provided Pakistan with nuclear "weaponization" technology. Tripplet stated, "The entire Pakistani strategic weapons program should be stamped 'Made in China.'"

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6. US Response to South Asian Nuclear Tests

Reuters (" JAPAN ENVOY CALLS FOR PAKISTAN, INDIA RESTRAINT," Tokyo, 05/29/98) reported that US Ambassador to Japan Thomas Foley said on Friday that Pakistan and India should show restraint on nuclear tests. Foley stated, "We would hope that both of them would sign the non-proliferation treaty at the earliest possible opportunity, and restrain any further scientific tests and nuclear tests." Foley said that "Both the United States and Japan have independently but very similarly condemned the Pakistani nuclear explosions as they did the Indian detonations."

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7. Asian Nuclear Arms Race

Reuters (Michael Perry, "WORLD AWAITS ASIAN N-ARMS RACE," Sydney, 05/29/98) reported that analysts said on Friday that the South Asian nuclear tests have created a very dangerous and confusing security environment for Asia. Chin Kin Wah, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, warned "A nuclear arms race is a real prospect," it is less of a danger than a pre-emptive strike by either India or Pakistan before the other side gained a second strike capability. Chin stated, "The danger area is between now and the attainment of Mutually Assured Destruction." Chin also said that the PRC may consider re-targeting its nuclear weapons toward India. He argued, "I think China will become a point of reference in this rather complicated three-cornered nuclear relationship." He said that a nuclear South Asia can now be added to the PRC's traditional regional security concerns of the Korean Peninsula, the Taiwan Straits, and the islands of the South China Sea. However, Zafar Iqbal Cheema, the head of the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies at the Quaid-e-Azam University in Pakistan, stated, "Nuclear weapons are weapons of deterrence, they are weapons of terror, they are meant to stop wars and not to fight wars." Chris Smith, senior research fellow with the Centre for Defence Studies at London's Kings College, said that Pakistan was ill-equipped to enter a nuclear arms race. He noted, "They're not talking about weaponisation and inducting or assimilating nuclear weapons into force structures, which will mean effectively that nuclear weapons are pointing at each other." Former assistant US secretary of defense Richard Pearle warned that if Pakistan and India produced nuclear weapons it would create a "hair trigger" security environment in South Asia. He added, "It is important that the Pakistanis have some confidence in their conventional defenses -- in their ability to defend themselves without resorting to nuclear weapons. An imbalance in conventional weapons is exactly the sort of thing that might lead to a reckless act of aggression."

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8. Russian Views on Nuclear Proliferation

The Associated Press ("RUSSIAN LAWMAKER CALLS FOR G-8 MEETING ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS," Moscow, 05/29/98) reported that Vladimir Lukin, chairman of the foreign affairs committee of the lower house of the Russian parliament, on Friday called for a meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized countries to discuss the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Lukin added, "Indian and Pakistani representatives should certainly be invited to this meeting." He also termed the South Asian nuclear tests, "another incentive for the soonest possible ratification of the Russian-U.S. START II treaty." Meanwhile Gennady Seleznyov, the speaker of the State Duma, said that he was sure India and Pakistan "have enough common sense not to use their newly acquired weapons against each other." However, he added that the tests are reason for "serious fears and alarms" because they may lead to "a chain reaction of proliferation of nuclear weapons in Asia."

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9. US-Russian Nuclear Safety Cooperation

The San Francisco Chronicle (David Perlman, "U.S. HELPS RUSSIA GUARD NUCLEAR SECRETS," 05/28/98, A5) reported that William Dunlop of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory said that the US is spending US$150 million per year to improve the safeguards at Russian nuclear facilities. Dunlop said that the total cost of the program, due to be completed in 2002, will reach nearly US$1 billion. He added that the US is offering "reasonable" salaries of US$600 per month to Russian weapons scientists so they can work on non-nuclear projects with commercial potential. Livermore is working with the nuclear weapons plant Chelyabinsk-70 to help improve security there. John Blasy, Livermore's chief representative at Chelyabinsk, said that, in formal ceremonies Wednesday, high-ranking Russian officials and their US colleagues announced that they had completed revamping security and personnel. Experts from the US Los Alamos National Laboratory are working on new safeguards with their counterparts at Russia's secret plant code-named Arzamas-16.

II. Republic of Korea

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1. Light Water Reactor Project

The ROK, Japan, and the US will resume talks in New York June 1-2 to discuss how to share financial burdens to build two light-water reactors (LWR) in the DPRK, a spokesman for the Office of the Planning for the LWR Project said yesterday. The three executive council members of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) will also exchange opinions on the development of ongoing negotiations between KEDO and the DPRK to sign protocols needed for the construction works. The ROK will dispatch a six-member delegation led by Chang Sun-sup, head of the LWR project office. So far, the ROK has pledged to shoulder 70 percent of the total construction costs while Japan expressed its determination to pay US$1 billion. However, the US said that it can only offer around US$50 million, thus hampering an early conclusion of the burden-sharing talks. As the total construction costs would be lowered from US $5.2 billion to around US $4 billion due to the ROK currency's sharp depreciation, the US has less financial burdens now than last year. (Korea Times, "KEDO TO DISCUSS LWR COST- SHARING JUNE," 05/29/98)

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2. DPRK-Pakistan Nuclear Cooperation

The ROK, having closely monitored the successive nuclear tests by India and Pakistan, has started delving into the worst-case scenario that Pakistan might export its nuclear materials or technologies to the DPRK. Pakistan, which detonated five nuclear devices on Thursday, has maintained close cooperation with the DPRK in the development of its long-range Ghauri missiles. On April 17, the US decided to slap sanctions on Pakistan's Khan Research Laboratories and the DPRK's Changgwang Trading Company, noting that the DPRK company had transferred missiles or missile parts to Pakistan. An official statement issued following the testing said that Pakistan was preparing to arm its long-range Ghauri missile, tested on April 6 and capable of hitting most targets in India, with nuclear warheads. Officials in the ROK did not rule out the possibility that Pakistan might transfer nuclear materials and technologies to the DPRK, noting that the detailed terms of the missile transactions between Pakistan and the DPRK were not known to the outside world. They also noted that, following the nuclear tests, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced that Pakistan would not transfer nuclear technologies to foreign countries. "We hope that Pakistan would keep its promise,'' said an official of the Foreign Affairs-Trade Ministry. (Korea Times, "SEOUL FEARS POSSIBLE NK-PAKISTAN 'MISSILES FOR NUKE TECH DEAL'," 05/29/98)

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3. Sanctions on DPRK

A group of ROK and US experts on Thursday called on their respective governments to give up any attempt to absorb the DPRK and ease sanctions against the DPRK as part of any efforts to seek the gradual transformation of the DPRK. The Seoul Forum, led by former ROK ambassador to Washington Kim Kyung-won and former foreign minister Han Sung-joo, and the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), headed by former US ambassador James Laney and CFR senior fellow Morton Abramowitz, announced the so-called "Korea Report," wrapping up their seven-month-long joint project on the DPRK. A Foreign Affairs-Trade Ministry official welcomed the report, noting that it reflected the Kim Dae-jung administration's basic DPRK policies, termed the "Sunshine Policy." The report said that the DPRK had lost out in its competition with the ROK after eight years of negative economic growth and international isolation. However, it said that the DPRK is unlikely to face a breakup because its key socialist ally, the PRC, has offered major assistance to uphold the regime. (Korea Times, "SANCTIONS ON PYONGYANG SHOULD BE ERASED," 05/29/98)

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4. Russian Weapons Sale to ROK

Russia is using high-powered diplomacy to persuade the ROK to buy its anti-aircraft missiles and submarines, among other military items. In a meeting with his ROK counterpart Ahn Byung-gil Friday, Russian Vice Defense Minister Nikolai Mikhailov officially asked the ROK to buy Russian-made subs and S-300 surface to air missiles (SAM). Military experts say that Russia is asking for hard cash for part of the entire payment for its weapons, with the rest to be paid through the redemption of some US$1 billion that Russia owes the ROK, a tempting formula for the ROK, which is being forced to postpone armed forces improvement projects amid the ongoing economic crisis. Also in Friday's vice ministers' meeting, the two countries agreed to hold a working-level "defense policy meeting" of directors on a regular basis, while signing a memorandum of understanding on the exchange of military personnel for the 1998-99 period, among other things. (Korea Times, "RUSSIA PUSHING FOR WEAPONS SALE TO KOREA," 05/30/98)

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5. ROK Student Movement

The outlawed student group Hanchongyon held a surprise inaugural ceremony at Seoul National University Friday, attended by some 3,000 members. The organization was supposed to hold its sixth annual change of leadership at Hanyang University on either Saturday or Sunday, and the move initially caught authorities by surprise. Police quickly assembled 4,000 riot troops and surrounded the university as helicopters ordered the students to disperse. Authorities decided to deal with the situation without confrontation and only arrest the central leadership and core members. (Chosun Ilbo, "HANCHONGYON HOLD SURPRISE INAUGURAL CEREMONY," 05/29/98)

III. Japan

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1. Japanese Defense Policy

The Yomiuri Shimbun ("PRIME MINISTER REAFFIRMS THAT THERE IS NO CHANGE IN 'SITUATIONS IN AREAS SURROUNDING JAPAN'," 05/29/98) reported that, regarding the PRC's opposition to the provisions on "situations in areas surrounding Japan" in the New Guidelines for Japan-US Defense Cooperation, Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto told Foreign Ministry officials on May 28, "There is no change in our stance that 'situations in areas surrounding Japan' is not a geographical notion." On the same day, Japanese Ambassador to Beijing Sakutaro Taniya also told a PRC official at the PRC Foreign Ministry that there is no change in the Japanese government's stance on the notion.

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2. Influence of Pakistan's Nuclear Tests on DPRK

The Yomiuri Shimbun ("PAKISTAN'S NUCLEAR TESTS MAY SPREAD TO KOREAN PENINSULA," 05/29/98) expressed a concern that Pakistan's nuclear tests may trigger the DPRK's resumption of its nuclear program, which may also threaten Japan's security. The article pointed out that the March 6 statement by a DPRK spokesman indicates that the continuation of US economic sanctions on the DPRK may lead to the DPRK's resumption of the nuclear program and that the May 7 statement by the same spokesman also indicates that the uncertain schedule for heavy oil supply from the US may cause the DPRK to resume the program. The article also pointed out that although both the US and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) deny the possibility of the DPRK's resumption of the program, the spokesman's message should not be ignored as a mere "bluff." The article emphasized that the Heavy Oil Fuel project has been facing a periodical financial shortage because of US inability to support the funding.

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3. Japanese-Russian Relations

The Nikkei Shimbun ("DATE OF PRIME MINISTER'S VISIT TO RUSSIA IS DECIDED," 05/28/98) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto will visit Russia for peace treaty negotiations in October. The visit will be the first visit by Japan's prime minister in 25 years. The article pointed out that the talks are expected to focus on Russia's response to Hashimoto's proposal of delimiting the Northern Territories.

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Produced by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable Development in partnership with:
The Center for International Studies,
Yonsei University, Seoul, Republic of Korea
The Center for Global Communications, Tokyo, Japan
Center for American Studies,
Fudan University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China

Wade L. Huntley:
Berkeley, California, United States

Timothy L. Savage:
Berkeley, California, United States

Shin Dong-bom:
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Choi Chung-moon:
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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