Saturday, June 07, 2003
"No totalitarian regime of the last century has exercised a greater degree of absolute control over its society than the North Korean government," says Andrew Natsios, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development. "North Korean refugees have often described their country as one massive prison."
Friday, June 06, 2003
Oh the joys of politics. I wonder how deeply Roh regrets entering the maelstrom of administration.
The Associated Press (Kenji Hall and Soo-Jeong Lee, "CRAB SEASON PEAKS, SO DOES KOREAN CLASH," Yeongpyeong Island, 06/05/03) reported that it is peak season for catching prized blue crabs, and fishing boats and navy vessels have resumed their sometimes deadly game of cat-and-mouse in the rich fishing waters along the border of DPRK and the ROK. Confrontations have become a near-daily occurrence as boats from both countries come within hundreds of yards of each other.
the North has used three sources of hard currency earnings to buttress its weapons programs. "One is the sale of weapons of mass destruction: the DPRK is the largest sellers of ballistic missile technology to 'proliferant'This has been a recurring refrain in Washington. Sounds like an area in which hard-liners can crack down on North Korea without having to resort to military options.
countries in the world," he said. "The second . . . is the sale of illegal drugs. And third is a combination of remittances from illegal and quasi-illegal activity outside the country from, basically, organized criminal networks in Japan and elsewhere."
The Associated Press (Doug Struck, "US PULLING TROOPS FROM KOREAN DMZ, FORCES TO MOVE 75 MILES FROM BORDER, ABANDONING LARGE BASE IN SEOUL" Tokyo, 06/05/03) reported that US troops soon will withdraw from the Demilitarized Zone between the DPRK and the ROK, bringing an end to 50 years of guard duty that began at the end of the Korean War, officials said today. A joint statement by US and ROK officials said US troops will be pulled back to positions at least 75 miles from the DMZ, and will abandon a large base they occupy in downtown Seoul. The move will free US troops to be more mobile, replaced by soldiers in a modern ROK army, officials said.This is, from almost any perspective, a welcome development. The removal of U.S. troops from the DMZ cannot help but reduce North Korean fears of a U.S. ground invasion of the North. The reduction of the U.S. military footprint in South Korea will probably help improve U.S.-ROK relations. In addition, the ROK will be required to shoulder more of the burden of its own defense, a necessary precondition to a more equal U.S.-ROK relationship.
Tuesday, June 03, 2003
THE GLASS IS HALF FULL
Agence France-Presse ("US LAWMAKERS SAY NORTH KOREA "READY TO DEAL" OVER NUCLEAR ARMS," Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, 06/03/03) reported that "shaken" by displays of US military might, the DPRK is "ready to deal" over its nuclear weapons and gave a positive response to a plan proposed by US Congressmen, members of the group said. Congressman Curt Weldon said he presented the plan to DPRK Foreign Minister Paek Nam-Sun during a private 90-minute meeting in Pyongyang last week. "His response was, 'It's very positive. It's exactly what we are looking for,'" Weldon, who headed the six-member bi-partisan delegation, told reporters here upon his return to the US.
. . . .
"We learned that the present DPRK nuclear weapons stockpile is subject to negotiation -- along with their nuclear facilities and materials," Weldon pointed out.
THE GLASS IS HALF EMPTY (AND LEAKING)
Reuters (Linda Sieg, "TIME RUNNING OUT FOR NORTH KOREA SOLUTION -PERRY," Tokyo, 06/03/03) reported that the US and its allies have months, not years, to prevent the DPRK from becoming a serious nuclear power and sparking an atomic arms race in East Asia, former Defense Secretary William Perry said on Tuesday. "The worst-case scenario I see is a major nuclear arms race unfolding in the Pacific. That's not a forecast, that's a logical train of events," Perry stated. "We have maybe half a year; the first month or two are more important than the last month or two in that half-year period," he said. "We loose leverage each month that we delay."
Monday, June 02, 2003
Japan has persistently refused to compensate its Asian victims for its crimes before and during World War II. The question of its extremely slow moral atonement aside, Tokyo has cited the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951 and the 1965 agreement with Seoul for normalization of relations, as well as domestic statutes, as the legal bases for its position. Both international accords are clearly flawed, however, because they failed to reflect the voices of the victims of imperial Japan's brutal aggression and exploitation of its neighbors.
Last Friday, the Osaka High Court passed down a ruling that again reaffirmed Japan's lamentable insensitivity to the unhealed wounds from its militarism. It overturned a district court decision that ordered the Japanese government to pay 45 million yen to 15 South Koreans, either relatives of those who were killed in or survivors of the tragic explosion of a Japanese naval vessel on Aug. 24, 1945, nine days after Korea's liberation from Japanese rule.
President Roh Moo Hyun of South Korea caught the mood in ambivalent remarks timed for the 100th day of his presidency in which he seemed to dispute United States intelligence estimates that the North has one or two nuclear warheads. Although North Korea had told American officials that it had developed nuclear weapons and reprocessed spent fuel rods, Mr. Roh said in remarks broadcast by Korean television networks, the North "has not confirmed that to anyone else."It is hard to say which claims are correct. It is, however, important to note that without the threat of possessing nukes, there is little about North Korea that would entice the outside world to pay attention to it and give it concessions. So, the DPRK might have an incentive to play up the degree to which it has developed nukes. Or, on the other hand, it might actually develop the weapons rather than talk about them.
The deputy secretary of defense, Paul Wolfowitz, said after seeing Mr. Roh that such uncertainty reinforced the need for "some way to verify what we know and those things we don't know." In the meantime, he said, "What we know suggests we should take what they say very seriously."
Representative Curt Weldon, Republican of Pennsylvania and vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, stopping here after leading six members of Congress on a visit to Pyongyang, reflected the the impressions that North Korea has been spreading in recent months of both its nuclear potential and its desire for dialogue with the United States. Senior North Korean officials had not only admitted having nuclear weapons, he said, but had confirmed they were expanding their nuclear weapons program and moreover had almost finished reprocessing 8,000 spent fuel rods. That claim, if correct, would enable the North to build several more nuclear warheads in a matter of months.