April 22, 2003
HAS 'STUNNING VICTORY' IN IRAQ MADE DPRK 'CONCILIATORY?'
** The prevailing view was
that "the North learned a lesson" from the war in Iraq, which is why
it "has agreed to dialogue."
But others, mostly on the left, contended that Washington's aggressive
policies threaten to "trigger a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia."
** The talks set for 23-25
April in Beijing are needed to prevent a "messy military conflict."
** Seoul, Tokyo and Moscow
see exclusion from the meeting as a "bitter disappointment."
Pyongyang's willingness to talk is a 'vindication' of Bush's
'nuanced approach'-- DPRK acceptance resulted
from the U.S.' "determination to deal with nations suspected of possessing
WMD" and the "overwhelming military might" shown in Iraq. Japan's moderate Yomiuri stated the
"collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime" played the "decisive
role" in Kim Jong Il's decision to open talks. Russian and Indian dailies agreed the U.S.
had been "fully successful" in persuading Pyongyang to "voice
its readiness for talks of any multilateral format."
Kim thinks he can 'contain the U.S. by developing nuclear
weapons'-- U.S. threats of a
"unilateral military campaign" caused Pyongyang to decide "the
only way to keep the U.S. at bay is to maintain a real nuclear deterrent"
and revealed the "counter-productive effect of the U.S. "policies of
regime change," according to leftist dailies. Russia's neo-communist Slovo said the
DPRK's behavior proved "the current security and nuclear non-proliferation
system" is "unreliable and shaky," while China's official International
Herald Leader advised the U.S. against "impetuous and careless
actions" such as setting "the DPRK as its next target."
'Dialogue is the only correct way to resolve the DPRK nuclear
issue'-- The Beijing talks offer
a new opportunity to "resolve peacefully the smoldering conflict in North
East Asia." Conservative papers in
London and Bangkok supported North Korea's "step back from nuclear blackmail"
and commitment to "at least talk to the outside world." Chinese and leftist dailies urged the U.S. to
"abandon its hostile policy" and focus on negotiations because
"military action is not a serious option." Prioritizing a "peaceful
resolution," Seoul's left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun stressed that
the DPRK's "claims of nuclear reprocessing" must be prevented
"from derailing the three-way talks."
Neighbors urge a 'wider dialogue'-- ROK outlets found Seoul's exclusion
"extremely regrettable." Independent
Joong-ang Ilbo expressed "anger at the North's two-faced attitude
of demanding our aid while excluding us."
Other papers said that Seoul cannot remain just an "onlooker"
because its "interests are direct and vital." Russian and Japanese papers also urged
"multilateral talks with all six nations" involved. Reformist Izvestiya termed Moscow no
longer "a strong and independent player in East Asia" after having
been "taken out...of multilateral negotiations."
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: This survey
is based on 43 reports from 16 countries over 16 - 22 April 2003. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
GREAT BRITAIN: "China
The conservative Times declared (4/22): "The description 'totalitarian tyranny'
hardly does justice to the injustice visited on a population denied the most
basic of necessities but fed a daily diet of nonsense lauding the extraordinary
achievements of the Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, whose family’s indulgence in
self-aggrandising iconography makes Saddam Hussein seem a relatively modest
man. Pyongyang had previously insisted
on bilateral negotiations with Washington, but the US sensibly demanded that
China participate, recognising that this hardest of hard cases needs a
multilateral, multilayered approach. A hitherto reluctant Beijing,
traditionally an ally of the North but which now pretends to have little or no
influence on that country, must get involved, if only for the sake of
self-interest; escalating tension in North-East Asia would certainly not be
good for business. It is reassuring that
the head hermit of the 'hermit kingdom' has agreed that his deprived country
should at least talk to the outside world. Washington will be understandably
wary of any agreement, given that Pyongyang violated a 1994 pact under which
fuel oil was exported to North Korea in return for an end to its nuclear
weapons programme. The difference this time is China’s involvement. Beijing can
prove that it deserves a place at the top table by assisting in the resolution
of one of the world’s most perilous predicaments or, as with its initial
response to SARS, it can make the potentially fatal mistake of feigning
"North Korea Next:
Pyongyang Feels The Grave Digger's Breath"
The liberal Guardian editorialized (4/20): "The crisis over North Korea's nuclear
plans is an object lesson in the counter-productive effect of announced
policies of regime change. Once a government thinks it is in a superpower's
sights, it becomes harder to negotiate a compromise and, if the target state
has the means to develop weapons of mass destruction, to persuade it not to do
so.... Its sense that it was under
threat or, at least, that it had enemies who devoutly wished it to expire, had
some basis in fact.... During the
fighting in Iraq the North Korean foreign ministry ominously pronounced that
the conflict suggests that 'disarmament through inspection does not help avert
a war but rather sparks it' and that "even the signing of a non-aggression
treaty with the US" would not prevent such a war. So the news that talks
between the US, North Korea and China are due to begin next week is especially
welcome.... The US, which had wanted all
the main regional actors involved, has agreed for the moment to be content with
a triangular forum. America has hard choices here. North Korea in the past has
reneged on agreements, accepted inducements to restore them, then reneged once
more. That could happen again.... Yet military
action is not a serious option....
Letting things stay as they are, with North Korea advancing to the point
of regular production of nuclear weapons and their possible sale to others, is
not a solution either. That leaves negotiations. They should be pursued with
the utmost seriousness."
"Now North Korea Must Be Invaded And
Liberated, For The Sake Of Its People"
Johann Hari wrote in the center-left Independent
(4/18): "Let's look at North Korea.
We imagine that the world has shrunk and even the worst places on earth are
only a live broadcast away, yet the sole remaining fully Stalinist state is a
dark abyss about which we know very little....
But a crack in the seal of North Korean tyranny has opened, allowing us
a glimpse into a world we had not imagined....
Starvation is endemic in North Korea because of the government's
catastrophic economic system.... It is
tempting to argue that the solution to the horrific suffering in this country
is to flood it with humanitarian aid--but the people who have tried that very
tactic say that it does not work. Most refugees say they never saw a drop of
food aid--despite almost one million tonnes flooding into the country every
year since 1994.... The diplomatic
route--which Colin Powell is trying to relaunch next week when he meets with
the North's neighbour, China--might deal with WMD, but would do nothing about
the human rights abuses. Does anyone think in all conscience that we should
deal only with the bomb factories, and ignore the human rights abuses? No, no,
no. America's fear about WMD should be directed to do some wider good. The nations of the world united through the
UN (and we can all surely agree that Kim Jong Il is the last person alive who
we'd like to have his finger on a nuclear button) must take out the North's
nukes with a targeted use of special forces, intelligence and bombing. This is
not as dangerous as it sounds.... North
Korea--if the regime doesn't implode--can then be invaded and liberated. It
should be pointed out that the British government is sceptical of this
solution.... Any decision today to stand
by while the people of North Korea are butchered, battered and starved will
be--to coin a phrase--Not in My Name."
Peter Sturm judged in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine
(4/17): “It may be attractive to
speculate whether it was really the quick victory of the allies which drove
North Korea back to the negotiating table.
Only one thing is important now: There is a new chance to resolve
peacefully the smoldering conflict in North East Asia. From what one hears, the Americans have
established informal contacts with North Korea for quite some time. And nothing speaks against the assumption
that they tried to find out whether North Korea is willing to accept a peaceful
solution. China, too, seems to have used
its influence. Both developments
obviously impressed the North Korean regime to such a degree that it is wiling
to accept “new forms’ of talks.... In
any case, a way out has been found that saves face of all sides involved. But this does not say anything about the
success of the failure of the talks.
South Korea has now fallen a bit offside. The North does not want the South to take
part in these talks. That is the reason
why the South Korean government, which has constantly demanded such talks, said
that it hopes to be included in the talks some day in the future.”
“Stone Age Warriors”
Stefan Kornelius noted in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung
of Munich (4/17): “Washington is
disarming its nuclear weapons, but does not want to sign the Test Stop
Treaty.... With respect to the
Bio-Weapons convention, the Bush administration refuses to sign the
Verification Protocol on their disarmament, while Washington acts as a model
pupil when it comes to the destruction of chemical weapons. But those who want to push the genie back
into the bottle should not play this genie.
Washington must act as a model pupil if it wants to continue to exert
internationally legitimized pressure on the illegitimate ABC powers. The treatment of North Korea is
exemplary: Pyongyang has now declared
its willingness to address the arms problem in talks with China and the United
States. According to Washington’s will, disarmament is not turning into a
bilateral matter, and the Bush administration acknowledged as an aside the
value of multilateral policy.”
ITALY: “U.S., North Korea
Roberto Rezzo wrote in pro-Democratic Left party L’Unita
(4/22): “President Bush lets it be known
that there are ‘good chances’ of convincing North Korea to suspend its nuclear
programs through diplomatic pressure, but the party of the ‘hawks’ at the White
House is pushing for an Iraqi-style solution.
On the eve of the multilateral talks that will begin tomorrow in Beijing among the United States, North
Korea and China, U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld mentioned the idea of creating
a Washington-Beijing axis in order to topple North Korean dictator Kim Jong
II. The plan is detailed in a confidential
memorandum that has been circulated among Administration top officials,
including Vice President Cheney but, apart from the details, it is clear that
it clashes with the strategy defined by the State Department: i.e., to convince
Kim Jong II that the United States has no intention whatsoever of toppling
”North Korea Gives In And Negotiates”
Renato Ferraro said in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della
Sera (4/17): “Made more conciliatory
by the show of U.S. military strength and the fall of the Saddam Hussein
regime, North Korean leader Kim Jong II, the tyrant of the second nation
included by Bush in the Evil Axis, stopped pledging ‘death and destruction’
against the United States and accepted, instead, to begin talks next week in
Beijing. Six months after the explosion
of the crisis, prompted by North Korea’s admission to programs aimed at
producing nuclear weapons, the impasse between the two sides was broken by Chinese
mediators, who proposed a compromise.”
RUSSIA: "Kim Jong Il
Andrey Piontkovskiy remarked in reformist Novaya Gazeta
(4/21): "North Korea having come
around to voice its readiness for talks of any multilateral format is a
political sensation that may not have been noticed by all, with those reports
about the fall of the Baghdad regime.
Trying to explain that decision, many analysts say that Kim Jong Il must
have been impressed with his Iraqi colleague's fate."
"U.S. Remains Firm"
Vasiliy Golovnin observed in reformist business-oriented Kommersant
(4/21): "By making confused statements, North Korea is clearly attempting
to raise the stakes now in order to gain more later. But the Americans are not going to let up on
that, making it plain that, should the meeting in Beijing take place, they will
insist on the total liquidation of all components of Pyongyang's nuclear
program, including on the physical destruction of its reactors and
"Current Security System Shaky"
Vitaliy Gan asserted in neo-communist weekly Slovo
(4/18): "The Iraq adventure has won
Bush bagfuls of political capital. He is
the first in a long line of U.S. presidents to have spectacularly upheld the
antiquated Pax Americana concept. In the
case of the unjustifiably defiant North Korea, it looks different, though. Pyongyang's behavior is a stark testament to
the current security and nuclear non-proliferation system being unreliable and
"Russia Told Not To
Vasiliy Golovnin wrote in reformist Izvestiya (4/17): "For all its diplomatic vigor and
activity over Korean affairs, Russia has (at least for now) been taken out of
the process of multilateral negotiations concerning Pyongyang's withdrawal from
nuclear non-proliferation. The current
format of the talks shows that aside from the United States, only China has
been recognized as a strong and independent player in East Asia."
Sold Nuclear Reactors To 'Axis Of Evil'"
The populist, center-right weekly Sunday Independent
carried an article by Eoghan Williams stating (4/20): "Former Irish Attorney General Peter
Sutherland and US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld helped sell nuclear
reactors worth $200m to North Korea....
The multimillion-dollar reactor deal was struck just a year before
President George W Bush branded the reclusive communist state part of an 'axis
of evil'. American nuclear experts warned last week that radioactive components
from the reactors could be used to develop powerful nuclear weapons. Now
Pyongyang says this is exactly what it intends to do. Mr Sutherland and Mr
Rumsfeld, who work together on several high-level projects, were both board
members of a Zurich-based energy company, ABB, which sold two light-water
nuclear reactors to the communists in 2000.
The pair simultaneously stepped down from the ABB board a year later
when Mr Rumsfeld was drafted into the Bush administration."
Les Hollings held in the conservative tabloid Sunday Mail
(4/20): "What a difference a
stunning victory makes. Rogue North
Korea is beginning to talk sensibly about its nuclear future and Syria,
controller of Lebanon, could back Middle East peace moves rather than Hezbollah
terrorists. In a welcome change of heart,
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is to have three-way talks with the US and
China in Beijing this week. Hopefully,
this might lead to the North returning to the global non-nuclear proliferation
treaty. Similarly, Syria is becoming
more flexible about its relations with the West. A less aggressive Syria could make all the
difference as Mr Bush produces his road map for Middle East peace. An exchange of Iraqi oil for Syrian food
might tempt al-Assad to stop supporting anti-Israel terrorism in Lebanon and
withdraw his 20,000 'peacekeeping' troops.
First, though, Iraq has to be reconstituted and rehabilitated quickly
before the people's new-found freedom sours and the nation splinters into rival
factions. That would set back all our
hopes for a fresh start in the Middle East and Korea."
"N. Korea, U.S. Back From Brink"
Stephen Lunn commented in the conservative Australian (4/19):
"The US and North Korea each gave ground this week in the
acrimonious nuclear crisis threatening northeast Asia, paving the way for
face-to-face talks starting next Wednesday in Beijing. China will join the initial meeting aimed at
dealing with North Korea's nuclear ambitions, with key regional players South
Korea, Japan and Russia being brought into the talks as negotiations
progress. Pyongyang backtracked last
weekend on its demand for one-to-one talks with Washington. The US had wanted a
broader multilateral forum to discuss North Korea's suspected covert nuclear
weapons program, but accepted the staged approach in a bid to get the talks
started.... Secretary of State Colin
Powell attributed the change of heart to the rapid US success in Iraq.... The new talks were expected to ease concerns North
Korea's nuclear ambitions could lead the region into a messy military conflict,
but US officials said they were only at the start of a very long process. Pyongyang wanted security guarantees and
economic assistance. Washington wanted an ironclad, transparent and verifiable
dismantling of North Korea's nuclear capability. The diplomatic breakthrough
did little to sway international opinion about North Korea's human rights
violations, with the UN Human Rights Commission adopting a resolution
criticising the North's human rights record....
If survival is Kim's only aim, will he conclude that the only way to
keep the US at bay is to maintain a real nuclear deterrent?"
CHINA: “China Strenuously
Helped To Bring About DPRK-U.S. Talks: ROK Opinion Thinks China Has Contributed
The Most To The ‘Trilateral Talks’”
Xu Baokang and Ren Yujun noted in official Communist Party-run
international news publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao)
(4/21): “Experts from various countries
commonly think that the ‘trilateral talks’ are just the start of a peaceful
resolution to the DPRK nuclear issue.
Dialogue is what all people hope to see in spite of lots of future
difficulties in resolving the DPRK nuclear crisis.”
"DPRK Is Not Iraq"
Gao Haorong commented in the official Xinhua News Agency
international news publication International Herald Leader (Guoji Xianqu
Daobao)(4/18): “The differences and
similarities between the DPRK and Iraq give a clue that parties concerned need
to increase the chances for peace and restrict the ‘precedented effect’ of
war.... The most essential thing at the
moment is to emphasize that dialogue is the only correct way to resolve the
DPRK nuclear issue.... The U.S. should
be warned not to be dizzy by its victory, not to take impetuous and careless
actions toward the Northern Korean peninsula and not to set the DPRK as its
“DPRK Nuclear Crisis Is Essentially A Trust Crisis”
Guo Hui commented in China Radio International-sponsored World
News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao, 4/17): "Experts think once the DPRK nuclear
crisis evolves to the stage of breaking out, its aftermath and influence will
surpass the Iraqi crisis.... The DPRK
nuclear crisis is essentially a trust crisis and trust cannot be established in
a short time. This is definitely true especially after a long-time
distrust. This means the DPRK crisis is
even harder to resolve.... What is
incomprehensible is: The latest DPRK nuclear crisis resulted from a translation
problem. That is, the key statement of DPRK was mis-translated from ‘DPRK has
the right to possess nuclear weapons’ to ‘DPRK has possessed nuclear weapons’.
Outsiders have no way to know that whether DPRK said ‘have right to possess’ or
‘has possessed’ at the talk, and whether it is DPRK who corrected its statement
afterwards or it is the U.S. who made the best of the mistake.”
“DPRK’s Attitude Arouses Great Concern"
Xu Baokang wrote in official Communist Party-run international
news publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao, 4/16): “Experts on DPRK issue pointed out three
reasons why DPRK changed its stand: China exerted influence; UN Security
Council vetoed the resolution of DPRK nuclear issue and it made DPRK decide on
an attitude change; and, DPRK does not want to confront the U.S., hoping for a
peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue.”
CHINA (HONG KONG & MACAU SARS): "China's Korean Initiative Vital For A
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
said in an editorial (4/18): "As
North Korea's closest diplomatic and economic ally, China holds a pivotal
position in the discussions. That it has
taken the much-needed step to act as host reveals its concern over events on
the Korean peninsula. China's offer is
also proof of the desire of its leaders to play a more prominent role on the
international diplomatic stage.... The
U.S. insisted on multilateral negotiations.
Although Mr. Bush and his officials have denied any intention to take
military action--a difficult proposition when third countries would
automatically be involved--the ease with which Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein
was toppled was doubtless watched with growing alarm by Mr. Kim. South Korea and Japan, facing North Korea's
one-million-strong army and its missiles, have rightly expressed unease. The situation has not been helped by the
differing opinions of the Bush administration and the South's new president,
Roh Moo-hyun, about how to deal with the North.
The U.S. has demonstrated with devastating clarity its unwillingness to
accept weapons proliferation by rogue nations.
North Korea's decision to change tack and accept China's offer to
mediate gives hope that proliferation will cease to be an impediment to
regional security. It must also be the
start of a wider dialogue to end concerns about North Korea."
Frank Ching declared in the independent English-language South
China Morning Post (4/17):
"South Korea is working hard to repair its alliance with the U.S.,
which was badly damaged last year during the presidential election campaign,
when anti-American sentiment spread across the country.... During the campaign, Roh Moo-hyun, the
eventual winner, repeatedly called for more balance in South Korea's
relationship with the US and demanded a revision of the status-of-forces
agreement between the two countries....
Mr. Roh has finally been forced to confront reality. In effect, the U.S. called his bluff and he
had to back down. But it is by no means
clear that the alliance can be restored to its previous robust state.... Mr. Roh, who has never been to the U.S., will
visit Washington next month for talks with President George W. Bush and other
American officials. To a large extent,
the future of the alliance depends on the outcome of that visit."
"North Korea Wise To Accept Multilateral Talks "
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked
(4/16): "There are many reasons for
Pyongyang to give up its insistence on direct negotiations with the U.S. American troops easily defeated Iraq,
revealing the U.S. determination to take 'pre-emptive' measures, as well as the
power of three-dimensional warfare. The
U.S. may take a tougher stance towards the North Korean nuclear crisis, which
may be a reason for Pyongyang to adjust its policy. It is also important to note South Korean,
Chinese and Russian insistence on a peaceful resolution to the crisis. All three have tried their best to mediate
the crisis and have submitted concrete plans to resolve it.... Pyongyang believes it can contain the U.S. by
developing nuclear weapons and strategic missiles. This is a dangerous game, however, one that
will trigger a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia. South Korea has already commented on the
importance of mastering nuclear weapons.
Japan is waiting for the opportunity to expand and can now plausibly
contemplate launching a spy satellite, studying the introduction of new missiles,
and adopting 'pre-emptive measures' to counter missile attacks. Japan has also proposed strengthening its
Self Defense Force. In the long run,
what good will this do for North Korea's security and development? Rather than escalate the crisis with demands
for direct dialogue with the U.S., North Korea should take the more pragmatic
approach of holding multilateral talks to resolve the crisis soon.... The ball is now in the U.S. court. It is up to Washington to abandon its hostile
policy towards North Korea and sign a non-aggression pact."
JAPAN: "Pyongyang Up
To Old Tricks"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri opined
(4/20): "North Korea is doing it
again--using its nuclear development program as a bargaining chip. North Korea announced it was in the final
phase of reprocessing more than 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods, a process that
could enable Pyongyang to build nuclear bombs.
Even as it agreed to take part in multilateral talks that it had
previously rejected, North Korea opted for the provocation of flashing its
nuclear bargaining chip--typical behavior for Pyongyang.... North Korea's actions should fool no
one. One aspect of North Korea's
decision to hold talks with the United States and China is clear--that the
United States' determination to deal with nations suspected of possessing
weapons of mass destruction and the overwhelming military might it displayed in
the Iraq war impressed North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.... It is important to make North Korea recognize
the international community's uncompromising determination to stop Pyongyang's
nuclear development.... The focus must
now be on forcing North Korea to abandon its nuclear development and
establishing a rigid inspection mechanism to make certain it does so.... Japan, the United States and South
Korea...reaffirmed their intention to work together to pressure Pyongyang to
abandon its nuclear program. The three
countries, however, do not necessary share identical views of North Korea.The gap
between the United States and South Korea in their Pyongyang approaches is
especially conspicuous. While U.S. President George W. Bush's administration
says no option, including military action, should be eliminated, South Korean
President Roh Moo Hyun's government favors reconciliation.... North Korea should realize the price that it
must pay for the game of brinkmanship it chose to play."
"U.S., China, DPRK Talks:
Towards Sustaining A Multilateral Framework"
Liberal Mainichi declared (4/18): "It is supposed that North Korea, which
until now has always insisted on bilateral talks with the U.S. to discuss
nuclear issues, agreed to multilateral talks due to both the strong pressure
from neighboring countries that feel threatened and the strong position shown
by the U.S. in Iraq. Although it is not
the six-party talks, including Russia, South Korea and Japan, the outcome is
that North Korea was pushed into the seat for dialogue.... On 6 April, the North Korean foreign
ministry said, in relation to the Iraq war, "Neither international opinion
nor the UN's articles prevented the U.S. war.
The lesson is that only by possessing a strong military deterrent power
can we stop a war and protect our nation and people's safety." The extreme measure of maintaining nuclear
weapons to protect Kim Jong Il's system is not only wrong, but it also just
deepens the country's isolation. For as
long as the country doesn't dispose of its WMD, the internaitonal community
won't help it.... Continuing to stop the
presence of Japan in a seat at the talks will only prove fruitless for North
Korea as well.... Changing to
nation-building for the sake of enriching its people's lives means throwing out
the priority on military issues and cooperative relations with Japan and South
Korea are necessary.... For progress in
solving the DPRK nuclear issue, it is necessary to move from three-way talks
between China, the U.S. and North Korea to basic multilateral talks with all
six nations. We urge China and the U.S.
to work towards that goal."
"Iraq War And DPRK"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri observed (4/18): "The upcoming trilateral
(U.S.-DPRK-China) meeting in Beijing on the DPRK's nuclear weapons program
should not be considered a cause for optimism. Kim Jong Il, who is developing
WMD, had good reason to be awed by overwhelming U.S. military power shown in
Iraq. The collapse of Saddam Hussein's
regime has played a decisive role in causing the North Korean leader to change
his mind. The meeting is aimed at
persuading Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear arms development in a verifiable
manner. Eventually, Japan and South
Korea will have to join talks on the North's WMD problem. The GOJ should take all necessary
measures--in close cooperation with the U.S.--to prevent North Korea from
arming itself with nuclear weapons."
"Hopes Pinned On U.S.-China Cooperation in Resolving DPRK's
Liberal Asahi editorialized (4/17): "The Bush administration has decided to
hold a trilateral (U.S.-DPRK-China) meeting in Beijing starting next Wednesday
to discuss a solution to North Korea's nuclear development. Given the current
confrontational stance between the U.S. and DPRK, difficult negotiations are
more likely at the scheduled senior working-level meeting. But it is significant that the U.S. and North
Korea have agreed to sit down and discuss measures to avert the North's nuclear
brinkmanship. Not to be overlooked is the key role that China played in
arranging the talks. Both Japan and South Korea should give support to the
realization of progress in the talks."
"Why Does Japan Choose To Remain Naked To
The Threat Of North Korean Missiles?"
Robyn Lim wrote in the leftist, English-language
Japan Times (4/16): "North
Korean leader Kim Jong Il, fearing that he is next on U.S. President George W.
Bush's list for "regime change," is openly threatening Japan with his
Nodong missiles. Yet Japan chooses to remain naked to this threat. Why doesn't
it ask for PAC-3 (Patriot) missiles to be deployed by U.S. forces in
Japan?.... Japan should also be drawing
attention to the fact that an attack on any of the major U.S. bases in Japan
would also constitute an attack on the United Nations. That's because those
bases also fly the U.N. flag.... North
Korea has developed missiles targeted at U.S. bases in Japan, with the purpose of
impeding operations from those bases in the event of another war.... North Korea is now able to threaten Japan
before the U.S. and Japan can deploy missile defenses. Both alliance partners
have contributed to this sorry state of affairs. In the 1994 North Korean
nuclear crisis, the Clinton administration struck a deal with North Korea that
kicked the nuclear problem down the road. That arrangement did nothing to
address the growing Nodong threat to Japan....
For its part, Japan did little to help itself. In the 1994 crisis, the
timidity of Japan and South Korea undermined American resolve.... Since then, Japan has dragged the chain on
missile defense, ostensibly on grounds of cost, but in reality because of Chinese
opposition. China rails against missile defense partly because it fears such
defenses would nullify China's small nuclear arsenal.... The longer Japan opts to remain naked to the
Nodong threat, the more emboldened North Korea and China will become."
Off More Than It Can Chew"
Teodoro Benigno stated in the independent Philippine Star
(4/16): "Now the leaders of America
are laying it thick on Syria. The warning is that unless Syria, according to
the U.S. allegation, stops giving refuge to pro-Saddam Iraqi leaders fleeing
Iraq, then it too will experience American wrath.... If America is on a war momentum, the whole
world has a right to be scared.... If
Syria is indeed next, and after Syria, North Korea, America, I am afraid, will
be biting off more than it can chew....
An American attack on Syria or North Korea will bring in Russia, China,
Japan and South Korea. The limits of American power will be tested--and beaten
back.... I haven't mentioned China. Americans, as a general rule, are wary, even
afraid of China. Prof. Joseph Nye cites polls that show "half of the
American people thinks China will pose the biggest challenge to U.S. world
power status in the next one hundred years."
SINGAPORE: "Mind The
The pro-government influential Straits Times opined
(4/16): "United States President
George W. Bush had good reason to be smug when he said on Sunday his
multinational formula for talks to settle the North Korean nuclear issue was
'coming to fruition'. It vindicated his vastly different approaches towards
Iraq and North Korea on the question of meeting perceived threats to U.S.
security: war against one and persuasion with the other.... But the Bush administration should be attentive
about detail, even as Pyongyang has acceded to the principle of a multinational
framework for talks. As far as can be made out from remarks made by a foreign
ministry official, the country's premise that only the U.S. can guarantee its
security has not changed.... If the US
is generous with its invitations to the party, Pyongyang will not be amused.
Plenary talks are only the lead-in to a bilateral process on security and
economic bargaining.... North Korea will
object to the presence of Russia and Japan, as it is focused on its goal of having
a non-aggression treaty with the US to replace the 1953 armistice which ended
the Korean War. Pyongyang contends that Russia and Japan have no say on Korean
security, a position China shares. But it would accept the EU, for the promise
of economic support. Those who recall the skirmishing over the shape of the
table that preceded the Vietnam peace talks in Paris would not laugh.
Preliminaries can render a process stillborn."
SOUTH KOREA: "North
Korea's 'Nuclear Reprocessing Gamble' Will Not Pay Off"
Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (4/21): "North Korea's recent announcement [on
nuclear reprocessing] leaves it uncertain whether it is in the final stage of
preparing for reprocessing spent fuel rods or in the final stage of reprocessing
the spent fuel rods. Either way, North Korea has lost more international
credibility.... If Pyongyang still
believes that its brinkmanlike tactics will work on the Bush Administration, it
would do well to worry about the consequences of a misjudgment. In the war in Iraq, the Bush Administration
did not waver from its preemptive strategy even lacking a UN resolution and in
the face of opposition from France and Germany.
Pyongyang should think seriously about how Washington will respond to
its announcement.... The best policy for
the North for now is to abandon its nuclear programs, put an end to its
isolation, and let other countries help it become a country that treats its
people as humans."
"The Need To Leave Three-way Talks To The U.S."
Gil Jeong-woo wrote in independent Joong-Ang Ilbo (4/21):
"We still are not in a position to play a leading role in dealing with
North Korea. In addition, Washington
does not appear intent on waging war with the North.... If it considers incomplete peace to be better
than war, the ROK had better prepare itself to shoulder responsibilities
decided during the three-way talks rather than remain angry at its exclusion
from the talks.... Let's leave the talks
to the U.S. for the moment. Regrettable though it is, there is no alternative."
"Three-way Talks Should Be Held As Scheduled"
Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun declared
(4/21): "It is evident that 'this
North Korean intimidation' will strongly provoke U.S. hawks who are displeased
with holding talks with the North. The
fact that Washington has yet to decide whether to go ahead and hold the Beijing
three-way talks indicates that there is friction within the U.S.
administration.... Even if the three-way
talks are held as scheduled, it is looking increasingly likely that the talks
will be an uncomfortable first tête-à-tête between the U.S. and the North,
dimming prospects for a successful outcome....
It is high time for the ROKG to make every effort to prevent the North Korean
Foreign Ministry's claims of nuclear reprocessing from derailing the three-way
talks, and to revive inter-Korean dialogue as a channel to pressure Pyongyang
to take part in multilateral talks on its nuclear issue."
"Need To Speed ROK
Participation In Multilateral Talks"
The nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun contended
(4/18): "Even though the ROKG
believes that North Korea's nuclear issue is ultimately a matter for discussion
between Washington and Pyongyang, it needs to examine all aspects of problems
arising from its exclusion from the April 23 Beijing talks. Failing to have our views reflected in talks
that could seal the peninsula's fate will seriously undermine our diplomatic
efforts and our security.... Instead of
remaining an onlooker or a stumbling block to the Beijing talks, overcome by
unhappiness at its exclusion, Seoul should make every effort to make the talks
an opportunity to achieve peace on the peninsula. In addition, it must use diplomatic channels
with the U.S. and China to ensure its early participation in multilateral
talks. The immediate restoration of
stalled inter-Korean talks as a channel to apply pressure on Pyongyang can be
part of such efforts."
"Does ROK Once Again Remain Onlooker In Talks On North
Korea's Nuclear Issue?"
Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (4/17): "Talks aimed at resolving the North
Korean nuclear issue are important because significant issues, which could
bring drastic changes to the peninsula's peace and security, will be discussed. The Korean public will be angry to see
Washington, Pyongyang and China participate in such talks either as concerned
parties or as arbiters, while the ROK remains an onlooker. We wonder what happened to President Roh
Moo-hyun's much-touted principle of the ROK playing a leading role in North
"Is ROK's Exclusion From Beijing Talks Reward For
Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo held (4/17): "The Beijing meeting is most welcome
because North Korea and the U.S. have agreed to return to the dialogue
table. However, it is extremely
regrettable that the ROK has been excluded from the talks, for our interests
are direct and vital. Especially, we feel anger at the North's two-faced
attitude of demanding our aid while excluding us from discussions that could
seal the peninsula's fate.... Even
though the ROKG explains that over time the talks will expand to include the
ROK, Russia and Japan, it is doubtful that Seoul will actually play a leading
role in future multilateral talks.
Furthermore, considering that the 1994 U.S.-North Korea talks failed to
appropriately reflect our position as a result of our absence, we cannot take
lightly being spurned once more this time around."
"ROK Is Excluded From Beijing Talks"
Independent Dong-a Ilbo maintained (4/17): "Despite China's participation, the
Beijing meeting will mostly be led by the U.S. and North Korea. The meeting might end up a repetition of the
Geneva U.S.-North Korea talks. Even
though the ROKG says that it will closely coordinate with Washington, we worry
that the ROK might eventually be required to shoulder heavy responsibilities
without having played any part in the negotiating process."
"Beijing Three-Way Talks A Bitter Disappointment"
Moderate Hankook Ilbo contended (4/17): "The reason the ROK did not participate
in the vote on a resolution denouncing human rights abuses in North Korea is
because it did not want to upset Pyongyang.
Pyongyang should note that its attempt to block Seoul's participation in
negotiations on its nuclear program runs counter to its long-standing calls for
national cooperation. Foreign Minister
Yoon Young-kwan has rightly declared that the ROK will not take any
responsibility for matters decided during its absence. The ROK should no longer
serve as the fall guy that shoulders the burden while being excluded from
THAILAND: “Sense Of Urgency
Impels Korea Talks”
The lead editorial in top-circulation, moderately conservative,
English-language Bangkok Post read (4/21): “North Korea blinked last week after six
months of increasingly acrimonious attempts to stare down the world, the region
and the United States over nuclear arms....
Whatever the reason, the region is pleased that North Korea took a step
back from nuclear blackmail. Not only
does the confrontation switch to diplomacy, it will happen on the basis of U.S.
insistence that talks involve concerned parties, and not just Pyongyang and
Washington. That was the major sticking
point, and the Beijing conference demonstrates it is possible to stare down
North Korea. Now comes the even tougher
part-quickly convincing North Korea to step away from the nuclear
threshold.... A three-nation committee
of the ASEAN Regional Forum, led by Cambodia as chairman and including
Thailand, should be writing the approaches it will make at the annual ARF
meeting in Phnom Penh in June. Other
countries should consider offering their help to North Korea. It is important to make Pyongyang feel the
urgency to settle this issue, whether they are at the official conference or
INDIA: "North Korea
Returns To Its Senses"
Independent, Calcutta-based Bengali-language Ananda Bazar
Patrika contended (4/19):
"There are ample proofs that the Iraqis have not become crestfallen
even if they were not so jubilant with the fall of Baghdad. Not only that,
there was an ambitious objective behind such an offensive, launched by Bush.
That he has been fully successful in sending a message of caution out to other
evil countries, dealing with weapons of mass destruction becomes quite evident
with the marked example of DPRK.... It
is still not clear to what extent the situation in Iraq would be improved with
the conquering of Baghdad. However, there is no denying the fact that the
invasion of Iraq has already facilitated some positive changes in the international
From China On U.S.-N Korea Relations"
The Lahore-based Daily Times editorialized (4/18): "With Iraq under its belt, at least
militarily, the Bush administration seems to have also scored a win in the
diplomatic standoff with North Korea that began last October when Pyongyang declared
its nuclear-weapon program, threw out inspectors from the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA), started issuing bellicose statements and insisted that it
would not speak with anyone but the United States, one on one. It now seems that all the while Washington
was taking a nuanced approach behind the scenes to the problem.... It seems to us that there is a lesson in all
this for Pakistan, which incidentally has had a long relationship with
Beijing. States interact with each other
at multiple levels rather than putting all their eggs in one basket, which is
what we always tend to do.... The issue
is not whether the U.S. war on Iraq is or was morally right. It relates to the space every state has in
relation to its capabilities. Engaging
the United States, or for that matter any other state, has to be seen from that
perspective. This is where we need to
learn a few lessons from China."
CANADA: "Rogue States
Understand What Might Happen To Them"
Jean-Sébastien Rioux remarked in Montreal's centrist Le Soleil
(4/19): "The next conflicts will
use the model that was tested in Afghanistan and which proved itself in Iraq:
quickness, flexibility, heavy reliance on technology and massive use of special
forces.... Potential thugs have every
right to be worried that that their statues could be the next to fall.... The swiftness of Iraq's conquest with the
'small' amount of force used scares a lot of people.... Maybe Kim Jong-II understands the new world
order; he has just softened his position by accepting to take part in
multilateral discussions with the U.S., China, and South Korea. The White House
is now equipped with a military machine adapted to its vision of
security.... The other issues may now be
solved diplomatically because rogue states understand what might happen to
"America's Anger Is Not Blind"
Foreign affairs editorial writer Gordon Barthos commented in the
liberal Toronto Star (4/17):
"It would be unwise to underestimate the Bush administration's
ability to sell the public on the merits of a wider, unilateral military
campaign against Syria, North Korea or Iran.
It can, and may. But Bush risks
alienating people by charging down that road.
America's anger is real, after 9/11.
It is not blind."
(Front Line) Checker-board"
Claudio Uriarte opined in leftist Pagina 12 (4/19): "In this new chapter of the deep
confrontation between the State Department and the Pentagon, looks like State
has already lost the battle, but the Pentagon is far from winning it.... Rumsfeld is the expression of a U.S. without
international counterparts to balance it in the military field, while Secretary
Colin Powell is the heir of a Foreign Ministry shaped in the days of the 'Cold
War balance of terror.' In this sense, the real dissuader of U.S. destruction
by North Korea's nuclear reactors was never a reply by Pyongyang--regardless of
all the damage that its artillery can inflict on Seoul--but the presence of
Japan, China, Taiwan and Russia in the conflict.... This is why Pyongyang's recent escalation,
after the victory in Iraq and on the eve of negotiations with North Korea, mean
a step forward by the hawks, who will say that negotiations are leading nowhere
and that it’s time to 'go it alone with the bombings' again. They will also say
that it's time for South Korea to defend itself on its own, and for Japan to
re-militarize and go nuclear again, and for Taiwan to become the new axis of
U.S. policy in the Pacific area."
"Threat, Bluff Or Mistranslation?"
Liberal, English-language Buenos Aires Herald maintained
(4/19): "Just days away from
high-stakes talks with the U.S., North Korea announced yesterday that it was
reprocessing nuclear fuel rods, a step that if true would suggest development
of atomic weapons.... On Friday night,
officials in the U.S., South Korea and Japan all said they lacked any strong
indication of reprocessing of the country's known plutonium fuel rods. Some North Korea analysts saw the statement
as an attempt to pre-empt any U.S. hard-line in the negotiations, and to offset
a kind of image that the North learned a lesson from the Iraqi war, and that is
why it has agreed to dialogue. Others
said it was a bluff intended to cover the fact that they had not yet begun
reprocessing. U.S. officials suggested
the statement may have been mistranslated and that North Korea was on the
'verge' of, rather than already reprocessing nuclear rods."