May 5, 2003
DPRK NUKE ADMISSION: 'INFLAMMATORY' CLAIM AIMS FOR 'CONCESSIONS'
** The DPRK's brinkmanship
is an attempt at "blackmail" to gain an "economic
** A multilateral coalition
is necessary because the DPRK's "threats" concern "all
** Leftists blame the
"U.S. policy of hostility" for the regional turmoil.
** Dialogue, not a
"military solution," should resolve the "maverick minnow state's"
Pyongyang's 'nuclear intimidation' poses a 'major threat'-- Conservative papers backed the U.S.' "firm
stance of not yielding" to the North's "nuclear brinkmanship
game," urging military action be considered if Pyongyang refuses to
surrender its WMD. Canada's National
Post predicted it won't, because Kim Jong-il places "existential
importance" on his WMD program. All
"the increasingly isolated and friendless Kim Jong-il" has is his
nuclear program. Thus, his
"readiness to cut a deal" to obtain financial aid and security
guarantees underlines the DPRK's "economic collapse" and insecurity.
International policy coordination is the most important
factor-- Because Pyongyang seeks
to "drive a wedge" between the U.S. and its allies, "nothing is
more important than policy coordination" among the U.S., Japan and South
Korea. Germany's center-right Frankfurter
Allgemeine emphasized, "Talks over North Korea are more important than
talks with North Korea." Chinese
outlets stressed Beijing's "great achievement" in arranging the
U.S.-DPRK-China discussions, terming them a "good start for initiating a
dialogue process." The
business-oriented Australian Financial Review agreed that China was
"America's most important partner" in dealing with the DPRK. But South Korean outlets warned of a domestic
"public backlash" because Seoul was "excluded" from the
North Korea proves 'the only way to resist U.S. aggression' is
'nuclear programs'-- Calling the U.S. a
"colossal, arrogant, glowering bully," leftist outlets said its
"militarism and neocolonialism" could trigger a "regional
nuclear arms race." Seoul's Hankyoreh
Shinmun warned Pyongyang's "nuclear admission" may give U.S.
hard-liners an excuse "to take the offensive." There was widespread understanding, if not
support, for Pyongyang's "need to retain nuclear weapons as a
deterrent" to a U.S. attack.
Russia's centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta said the crisis helps
"justify Washington's implementing its missile defense program."
Mutual compromise and concession can relieve the 'grim
situation'-- Diplomacy is essential
to resolve the "steadily deteriorating situation." South Korea's conservative Segye Ilbo
reflected the widely-held view that any "conflict between U.S.
unilateralism and North Korean brinkmanship could drive the nuclear crisis to
catastrophe." As the "fight
against WMD can never be won militarily," an "atmosphere for
negotiations" is necessary. The
U.S. should retain both "flexibility" and a "steady and composed
manner" in order to strike a "grand compromise" for a
EDITOR: Ben Goldberg
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis is based on 55 reports from 21 countries over 25 April - 5 May
2003. Editorial excerpts from each
country are listed from the most recent date.
Right-of-center Volksstimme of Magdeburg declared
(4/29): “Is the conflict over the North
Korean nuclear program heading for a compromise solution? According to the latest reports, Pyongyang is
obviously offering a stop of its nuclear arms modernization in exchange for the
U.S. commitment to normalize mutual relations.
This is called an exchange package, but the better term would be horse
trade. It is true that every agreement
that reduces the danger of wear must be welcome. But if the United States allows the sinister
regime in Pyongyang to dictate conditions, then only because the superpower can
and does not want to afford an escalation of the situation. Kim Jong-il and his leading clique are hoping
that they get as much stability for their power as possible from this rather
defensive U.S. position. And if necessary,
they will simply turn on the nuclear reactor again.”
“North Korean Nuclear Power?”
Peter Sturm argued in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine
(4/26): “The future of North Korea will
depend on how the other side will react.
That is why talks over North Korea are more important than talks with
North Korea. The U.S., China, South
Korea, Japan, and Russia agree that there should be a peaceful solution, but it
is unclear how they can reach a halfway coherent negotiating line toward
Pyongyang.... Washington does not allow
anybody to blackmail it. If North Korea
is unmistakably told that the game is over, it could do nothing about it. From a geographical location of the Americans,
this strategy could be maintained. North
Korea is really in a desperate situation.
It needs foreign assistance, the regime wants to do everything to get a
guarantee to survive. This creates
unease in neighboring Japan and South Korea....
We would ask too much from Japan and South Korea to sit out the threat
from North Korea, something the Americans would like to do. In any case, North Korea will face a tight
front of nations that are not willing to accept a nuclear North Korean power.”
Leading center-right Il Giornale opined (4/27): “The U.S. is not willing to make concessions
of any kind to the North Korean Communist regime after the latter announced
that it possesses nuclear weapons and is ready to use them.... The U.S., in any case, intends to examine
with the allies the possibility of asking for U.N. sanctions against the North
Koreans. This is a delicate initiative,
however, since the Communist regime has let it be known that it would consider
a possible international embargo as a ‘declaration of war.’”
RUSSIA: "U.S. Patient"
Katerina Labetskaya noted in reformist Vremya Novostey
(4/28): "So far, Washington has
been patient and exercised restraint, exerting no pressure on the Security
Council. Besides, China and Russia,
with their veto power, are dead set against sanctions. So what hopes there are for a peaceful
solution to the crisis rest primarily on multilateral negotiations involving
not only the U.S., the DPRK and China but also Japan, Russia and South
"U.S. Needs Kim To Deploy MD"
Yevgeniy Verlin argued in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta
(4/28): "Washington, obviously,
would not mind a regime change in Pyongyang.
Beijing is strongly against it (if only for fear of catastrophic
consequences of a possible political crisis inside the DPRK) and thinks it
would be ideal for all to come to terms among themselves so the Korean
Peninsula becomes free of nuclear weapons and U.S. troops. The big question is, What is it the United
States wants? The Iraq story shows that
with the Americans, possessing WMD may not necessarily be the overriding
concern. Talk about the DPRK's nuclear
program serves to justify Washington's implementing its missile defense program
in the Asia-Pacific region. The idea
behind it is to contain China and protect Taiwan from a missile attack from the
mainland. Beijing is well aware of that
and will work to make Kim Jong Il less armed and less dangerous."
"Pyongyang To Rev Up Nuclear Program"
Vasiliy Golovnin wrote in reformist Izvestiya (4/28): "A plutonium explosion in North Korea is
not ruled out if Kim Jong Il decides that he might just as well try to 'bring
the U.S. imperialists to their senses.'
In any event, it looks like Pyongyang will bend every effort to build a
nuclear bomb and, at the same time, obtain security guarantees from the United
"Who's To Blame For Crisis?"
Aleksandr Zhebin held in official, government-run Rossiyskaya
Gazeta (4/26): "Had it not been
for the 'North Korean rocket threat,' the Americans true aim--using MD to
neutralize China's and Russia's nuclear missile deterrents--would be much too
apparent.... An unbiased study of the
framework and other U.S.-DPRK accords shows that North Korea's demands,
including those in the security area, do not go beyond the commitments the
Americans made earlier but failed to fulfill.
The White House's attempts to form a multilateral coalition on the basis
of the presumption of the DPRK's guilt and get it to bear full responsibility
for the current situation in the Korean Peninsula don't look serious, to say the
least.... The security interests of all
states in that area need to be taken into account."
Enemies And Real Threats"
Livia Klingl commented in mass-circulation Kurier
(4/26): “They have the bomb, they
reserve the right to test it, to sell it and to use it. This was the message that China and the U.S.
received in talks with North Korea....
The credibility problem of the U.S. is particularly relevant in
connection with real threats to the U.S. and thus Western civilization, such as
Islamic terrorists or the North Korean terror regime. North Korea is the most insulated country on
earth. It breaks international
agreements and it runs ‘re-education camps’ for those resisting Stalinism. It is a poorhouse, it cannot feed its people,
and it is a daily threat for its neighbor South Korea, a friend of the
U.S. The possibility that the system
will collapse and make the entire peninsula tremble is real. This nation has to be taken seriously--ideally
by diplomats, not warlords. Just like
the warnings of a mega-attack in the U.S. on the part of the CIA and the FBI
long before 9/11 should have been taken seriously.”
BULGARIA: "The U.S.
March From Baghdad To Pyongyang"
Leftist, stridently anti-U.S. Monitor contended
(4/30): "Setting North Korea as the
next target doesn't come down to the
existence of hypothetical nuclear weapons. This is about Washington's ambition to dispense with another Stalinist
regime.... It is clear that the Bush Administration scored a political and
military success with its targets, but
doesn't have the vision or the tools for the subsequent, most difficult phase--the stabilization and
reconstruction of the conquered
countries.... Washington's hawks will
run into the strongest opposition yet from the depths of American society and
parts of society's elite. The global war
on terrorism seems to be a pretext for conducting an extreme rightist policy in the U.S.,
including limiting civil freedom and
enforcing U.S. will abroad.... Aside
from this the U.S. broke the rule,
saying that democracies do not conduct pre-emptive wars. It is not
clear for how much longer the American society will tolerate the burden
of new militarism and
neocolonialism.... The global economic
situation requires the American
corporations and capital to seek trade and economic partners, and not enemies in the EU and the
other developed countries."
IRELAND: "Dilemma For
U.S. As North Korea Offers To Scrap Nuclear Plans"
Jasper Becker commented in the center-left Irish Times
(4/30): "The US must decide how to
respond to North Korea's offer to terminate its nuclear program. North Korea
surprised the American side during last week's trilateral talks by putting
forward a package of proposals to ease tensions on the peninsula which Chinese
diplomats are presenting as a positive sign despite the mixed signals coming
out of Washington.... President Bush's
top security advisers were planning to meet yesterday to discuss the US response
to the proposals and were expected to face competing suggestions on whether to
continue negotiations with Pyongyang, US officials said last night.... Any suggestion of concessions to North Korea
was ruled out flatly by the White House....
China has a keen interest in furthering the negotiations to prevent a
conflict breaking out. It offered to broker the talks after the Americans and
North Koreans disagreed on whether there should be bilateral or multilateral
negotiations.... Analysts say the North
Koreans have consistently used such aggressive negotiating tactics in their
eagerness to shock and awe the Americans into coming to the table.... Washington insists Pyongyang must honor
previous promises and scrap its nuclear weapons programs before the United
States will discuss economic and diplomatic rewards.... Washington press reports at first quoted
American officials revealing the belligerent statements but leaving out North
Korean's sweeping proposal. This only came to light after the Chinese briefing
on Monday.... In response, Mr. Powell
cautiously acknowledged that such proposals had indeed been made."
NORWAY: "North Korea’s
Social democratic Dagsavisen stated (4/26): "North Korea’s initiative that the
country already has nuclear weapons has led to an increased tension on the
Korean peninsula.... It is anyway
encouraging that the U.S. and North Korea yesterday agreed on continuing
diplomatic contact. It gives hope that negotiations about a full stop in the
North Korean nuclear program might be maintained.... The fight against weapons of mass destruction
can never be won militarily.... To gain
this it is assumed that the U.S. also participates--both through removing [its]
own nuclear weapons and through abstaining from plans to develop new ones.”
SWEDEN: "The Worst
Independent, liberal Stockholm-based tabloid Expressen
declared (5/5): "Saddam Hussein has
a superior with regards to terror and aggression: North Korea's dictator Kim
Jong-Il, who has appointed himself God in a perverted Stalinist myth. He has
let between one and two million North Koreans die from starvation, not because
of sanctions but because the ebbing resources of the country have been
concentrated on the military.... (With
regards to North Korea) the U.S. is using diplomacy--not force, but the
prognosis seems gloomy.... Sanctions, a
popular method among the hawks in Washington, might work. But that would be an
awkward policy.... If one would like to
rescue a people from its dictator one cannot just let the people starve to
death in the process.... Therefore the
world has continued to give aid to North Korea, but it seems to be drying up.
When the Soviet Union collapsed a major contributor of assistance disappeared,
and the World Food Program, which distributes the Western assistance, is now
talking about donor fatigue.... But
China still is an important donor of food and other relief. Most important are
the oil deliveries. Should they stop North Korea and its military would come to
a standstill.... Earlier in this year
China stopped its oil shipments for three days. This was a clear signal to Kim
Jong-Il to stop provoking the U.S.
Should China continue on this path, possibly talks between the U.S.,
DPRK, South Korea, and China might help move the Korean peninsula from the
verge of ruin.... The U.S. has to take a
detour through China."
AUSTRALIA: “Beijing’s Role
In Shaping North Korea”
The business-oriented Australian Financial Review declared
(4/30): "The talks last week
between North Korea, the United States and China did not help the world see
much more clearly through the fog of rhetoric that shrouds the ‘hermit
kingdom’. But the fact that the talks
did take place was a crucial move in dragging Pyongyang towards stable
relationships with its neighbors.... The
US should take a pragmatic approach, based on what will work in leading North
Korea towards stable relations with its neighbors. It would be wonderful to be able to engineer
regime change there.... Washington
should insist on a multilateral framework, to which North Korea must sign
up.... But America’s most important
partner in this process for peace remains China.”
"North Korea Plays A Dangerous Game"
The liberal Melbourne Age held (4/28): "The threat of nuclear weapons
demonstrates the limitations of a military solution.... North Korea may be bluffing but the steadily
deteriorating situation requires a cautious and reasoned response.... By displaying a willingness to play the
nuclear card, North Korea has, in a sense, neutralised America's great
advantage: its military superiority....
Diplomacy, not only from the U.S. but also from neighbours South Korea,
China and Japan, is essential now to help defuse the crisis. Any further escalation could damage them all,
not to mention the long-suffering people of North Korea."
CHINA: “DPRK Expressed Its
Hope For A Peaceful Resolution Of The Nuclear Issue”
Ji Xinlong stated in official popular Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing
Qingnianbao) (4/30): “The DPRK
expressed that it does not think the talks have broken down. The nuclear crisis is due to the U.S. policy
of hostility. Restarting the talks depends on whether the U.S. will give up
“A Welcomed Good Start”
Wang Li stated in official Communist Party People’s Daily (Renmin
Ribao)(4/28): “The form of dialogue
is not important. The key point is that
the parties involved reach agreement, and the DPRK and the U.S. start to talk
no matter whether it is bilateral or multilateral talks. Whether the DPRK nuclear crisis can be
resolved or not depends on whether the U.S. and DPRK are sincere, whether the
talks involve substantive contents and consequences, whether the peninsula
nuclear-free state can be realized, and whether it is beneficial to solve the
different issues concerned respectively by DPRK and the U.S. and maintain the
peace and stability of the peninsula....
Solving the crisis in the short term can hardly be expected. However we believe that it all depends on the
efforts of the parties concerned.... The
talks at Beijing are, after all, a good start for initiating a dialogue process
and it has made a positive step.”
“Details Of DPRK, U.S. And China Talks”
Wan Qi said in official Communist Party-run Global Times (Huanqiu
Shibao)(4/28): “The consensus of the
international community is that the talks themselves are a great achievement of
China’s diplomacy. China was the first
to address this big issue that many countries wanted to resolve but were
incapable and reach a beneficial result for all. It proves China’s special and favorable
position in Korean Peninsula affairs....
Analyzing the results of the talks, the Chinese government put forth
great dedication to promote a peaceful resolution to the DPRK nuclear issue.”
CHINA (HONG KONG & MACAU SARS): "Out In The Cold"
Frank Ching wrote in the independent English-language South
China Morning Post (5/2):
"South Korea, left out of the tripartite talks in Beijing, held its
own three-day ministerial meeting with North Korea this week in Pyongyang, but
failed in its key goal of getting the North to agree to scrap its nuclear
program.... North Korea, of course,
wants to negotiate with the U.S.--and only the U.S.--on the fate of its nuclear
arms program. If it were to agree to the
South's demand to abandon the program, it would have little left for bargaining
with America. While the North wants the
U.S. to guarantee its security, it is eager for economic aid from South Korea. The South agreed to hold economic talks in
Pyongyang from May 19 to 22, when the two sides will discuss economic
co-operation and other exchange projects, including the reconnection of
railways and roads across the demilitarized zone. The two Koreas also agreed to hold another
round of family reunions and a national festival, although no dates were
set.... That was not much of a
concession from North Korea, since it does not commit officials in Pyongyang to
any real action. Since North Korea has
not co-operated with South Korea in the past on nuclear matters, agreeing to
continue this does not amount to much."
"North Korea Crisis Has Entered A Complicated Stage"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News editorialized
(4/29): "To quickly settle the
nuclear crisis--that began last October--on its own terms, North Korea
surprised the international community by pushing its policy of 'nuclear
brinkmanship' a step further, trying to compel the U.S. and allied Asian
nations to submit to its conditions.
Pyongyang hopes that the U.S. will sign a non-aggression pact and it
with provide economic assistance, particularly funding for a modern nuclear
power facility. This shows that senior
officials in Pyongyang have been inspired by the war in Iraq. The threat of nuclear weapons is needed to
back up policies in modern international relations.... In dismissing international warnings against
developing nuclear weapons, North Korea has pushed the nuclear crisis to a more
complicated stage. At the same time,
North Korea has accelerated the turmoil in Northeast Asia by making itself more
passive. The South Korean cabinet, which
has consistently advocated a policy of containment through conciliation towards
Kim Jong Il, recently said that North Korea's development of nuclear weapons
was the biggest threat to peace in Northeast Asia. The South Korean public is now increasingly
urging the government to readjust its 'sunshine policy' of conciliation. Hawkish Japanese political factions are using
North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons as an excuse for greater arms in
Japan. They are urging the Japanese
government to 'finish its missile defense system quickly and pass emergency
security legislation.' As North Korea's
allies, China and Russia also feel that mediation is difficult, given North
Korea's obstinacy in developing nuclear weapons. The situation is grim. If either side -- the U.S. or North Korea -
acts rashly, the consequences could be disastrous."
Frank Ching commented in the independent English-language South
China Morning Post (4/29): "The
tripartite talks last week in Beijing...ended without visible progress, as both
America and North Korea refused to budge from their previous positions. But, despite the stalemate on the nuclear
issue, China is already a winner....
Getting the two sides to talk to each other was itself a big
achievement, which showed the world that China is a major diplomatic player, at
least where regional affairs are concerned....
Details of the proposal have not been disclosed, but it was presumably
an offer to forego nuclear weapons in return for security assurances and
economic aid. Mr. Kelly, who flew to
Seoul and Tokyo to brief America's allies on the talks, reportedly said that
the North Korean proposal merits further attention. The U.S., Japan and South Korea are to hold
formal talks to iron out a joint response to the North Korean offer. However, the initial American response was
not encouraging, with President George W. Bush characterizing the North Korean position
as blackmail.... While the American
victory in the war on Iraq may have been a factor in persuading North Korea to
go to the bargaining table, it may also have had the effect of toughening its
stance on the need to retain nuclear weapons as a deterrent to an American
"Cool Heads Needed In Korean Nuclear Talks"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
editorialized (4/26): "Yesterday,
the world learned that the North Korean delegates to the three-way talks in
Beijing had admitted to their American and Chinese counterparts that their
country already possessed nuclear weapons and could use or export them. But as U.S. intelligence had long ago
concluded this, the revelation was more baffling than shocking. What was the message that the North wanted to
send to the U.S. with such an inflammatory statement? Was it a negotiating ploy, or blackmail, as
President Bush characterized it?....
After watching the war in Iraq, it is hard to think that Mr. Kim still
believes confronting America militarily is anything other than suicide. Placing his nuclear card on the table is
probably meant to raise the stakes of the negotiations so that he can extract
maximum concessions from the U.S., as well as to deter any threat of a
preemptive American attack on his nuclear facilities.... A grand compromise is not impossible. But the two sides should not forget that this
is also the beginning of the diplomatic endgame. And if Mr. Kim wants America's blessing to
stay in power, he should realize that he has no choice but to pay the price Mr.
Bush is asking."
"Throw Lifelines, Not Bombs"
The independent English-language Standard noted
(4/26): "Early signs are not
encouraging.... The truth is that North
Korea is in no position at all to be a real menace. Its veiled threats of incinerating its
Southern neighbor or tossing nuclear bombs at Japan, have always been an
entirely transparent--if not somewhat daft--attempt at forcing the world to do
a deal.... From [its] position of utter
powerlessness, the increasingly isolated and friendless Kim Jong Il has
recurringly played the only card he was left with. The dark menaces he makes of a nuclear
holocaust are plainly nothing more than a bid to secure agreements that will
lead to an economic lifeline being thrown to his people. Of course, it is the work of a desperate man
who personally does not deserve rescuing.
But for the sake of North Koreans and peace on the peninsula, why not
throw it? Or would it be better, as the
U.S. fresh and pumped with victory from an unequal battlefield in Iraq seem to
believe, to throw bombs?"
"Too Much Is At Stake For Talks With North Korea To Fail"
Li Dunqiu opined in the independent English-language South
China Morning Post (4/26): "The
relative ease with which the U.S. met its military objectives in Iraq, coupled
with the speed of the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, exerted a subtle influence
on the discourse between the U.S. and North Korea over the North Korean nuclear
problem. It provided a contrasting case
that both America and North Korea might use because, after all, neither side
wants to go to war.... North Korea's
sudden shift was not simply a matter of an improvement in U.S.-North Korean
relations. In addition, the mediation
and influence of neighboring states was a factor. China, South Korea, Japan and Russia all
hoped for a peaceful solution to the problem, and China also used its own
approach to influence matters. One of
the many differences between the situation in Iraq and North Korea is the fact
that Iraq had no neighbors who were too big for the U.S. to ignore.... The Iraq war was a huge setback for relations
between the two Koreas. On March 22, the
head of the North's team in the Korean economic co-operation committee said the
South was using the outbreak of war as an excuse to threaten North Korea. It claimed that a joint military exercise
between South Korea and the U.S. was hastening the likelihood of war.... When Mr. Roh was elected, he pledged to
continue the sunshine policy of former president Kim Dae-jung, as well as
promoting a policy towards the North of peace and prosperity and attempting to
establish a system for North-South co-operation. This represented a new stage for relations
between the North and South. In an
unprecedented move, North Korea sent a message of congratulation and support to
Mr. Roh following his election victory.
But the Iraq war has disrupted the atmosphere of North-South
co-operation, as well as the contacts that were just beginning, and undermined
the process of peaceful resolution of the Korean peninsula problem. It is a matter of strategic choice for the
U.S., after resolving the Iraq issue, whether it wishes to eliminate this
effect in the coming weeks."
"Curbing Nuclear Proliferation Will Be Difficult With No
Independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal
said (4/26): "As the North Korean
nuclear crisis continues to evolve, one must wait and see what the future will
bring. The situation on the Korean
peninsula has raised an issue that will have a profound global impact. In the 1960s and 1970s, many experts and
scholars warned that more than 20 to 30 countries would possess nuclear weapons
before the end of the 20th century.
Their forecasts, of course, came to nothing. This is not because other countries have not
had the capabilities to develop nuclear weapons, but because U.S. and the
Soviet Unions expanded their nuclear armaments to their allied countries during
the Cold War, forming an international safety net with nuclear weapons as the
basis. With the disintegration of the
Soviet Union, however, there was no need to maintain this nuclear safety
net. Those countries previously
protected by U.S. and Soviet nuclear weapons may now feel their security is
threatened, prompting them to develop nuclear weapons of their own. North Korea's example is very specific: It has a collapsed economy, giving its people
no means of livelihood. But because the
international community believes it has one or two nuclear bombs, North Korea
can bargain with the U.S., the world's sole superpower. If the U.S. does not stipulate an effective
policy to stop nuclear proliferation, it fears North Korea will not be the only
card playing the nuclear card."
"DPRK Nuclear Issue Has A Chance Of Reconciliation"
Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked
(4/25): "Emboldened by its victory
in Iraq, U.S. hawks are now threatening sanctions against North Korea. They dream of regime change there through the
imposition of international sanctions.
When an Australian paper reported that North Korea had repossessed
nuclear fuel rods, the Pentagon even proposed a plan to bomb North Korea's
Yongbyon power station. Just as
U.S.-North Korea relations were heading for a dead end, prompting worry among
the international community that the U.S. take military action against North
Korea, the situation has suddenly taken a subtle turn, to the world's
relief.... Neither the U.S. nor North
Korea has discussed the two-day talks, indicating no substantial progress has
been made. Given the complicated
background to the North Korean nuclear issue, with such polarized stances,
people do not expect a miracle in such a short time. At the present stage, the talks can only
provide the two sides with the chance to better understand each other. As long as the talks did not break up in
discord and the two sides are willing to continue, the talks in Beijing are
still off to a good start."
Appeasement Policy Toward North Korea's Nuclear Program"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri opined (5/1): "The South-North Korea ministerial in
Pyongyang ended after the South was forced to give in (to the North). The
ministerial stalled because the North claimed at last week's Beijing trilateral
that it possesses nuclear weapons. The Pyongyang meeting showed Seoul's
appeasement policy alone could not prompt Pyongyang to halt its nuclear
development program. The Roh
administration must firmly adhere to the basic principle of making the
denuclearization of the North the precondition for its financial aid to the
North and not acquiescing to the North's nuclear armament. South Korea has only
one choice--to press the North to abandon its nuclear program in close
coordination with the U.S. and Japan. President Roh's determination to resolve
the nuclear dispute will be tested at the upcoming meeting between Japan, the
U.S. and South Korea this month, and at the U.S.-South Korea summit meeting to
take place later in the month."
"DPRK Shows Its True Colors"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri editorialized
(4/26): "The DPRK's reported
declaration that it possesses nuclear weapons runs counter to efforts to
peacefully resolve the nuclear dispute.
It is necessary to analyze the North's 'nuclear' declaration and
determine the Stalinist state's real intentions. But it is fair to say that Pyongyang has finally
shown its true colors. The Bush
administration has reiterated its firm stance of not yielding to the North's
intimidation and not rewarding the North even if it abandons its nuclear
program. The North must not misinterpret
the U.S. position. Pyongyang must also
understand that the world community will have no choice but to take resolute
action if it escalates acts of provocation."
"DPRK's Nuclear Crisis Must Be Resolved Diplomatically"
Liberal Asahi opined (4/26): "We could not help but call North
Korea's possession of nuclear weapons an extremely dangerous development in its
nuclear brinkmanship. At this juncture,
nothing is more important than policy coordination among the U.S., Japan and
South Korea to deal effectively with this nuclear crisis. In the U.S., 'hard-line' and 'conciliatory'
groups in the Bush administration appear to be debating what to do to counter
the North's rising nuclear threat, while in South Korea, opposition lawmakers
have become more critical about President Roh's 'peace and prosperity' policy
toward the North. Japan, without
over-reacting to the North's nuclear brinkmanship, should continue to tell the
North to scrap its nuclear program, using its diplomatic card of economic
INDONESIA: “Diplomacy Over
Korea Still Shows Hope”
Leading independent Kompas commented
(4/28): "If the [nuclear]confession
of North Korea is true, then there is a major threat to peace in East
Asia.... But a [peaceful] solution to
the issue is still open in Korea and one of the key factors that can help is
the involvement of China in this issue.
Although Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing called the meeting only a ‘good
beginning,’ it implied optimism for a peaceful solution to the issue he
admitted as very complicated and sensitive....
If Beijing can prove that the next round of talks can begin again, it
would be significant progress. We view
that no matter how complicated the diplomacy of the Korean issue is, it
contains more hope than the diplomacy of the Iraqi issue."
Teodoro Benigno wrote in the independent Philippine Star
(4/30): "SARS must be understood
within the wider context of a world breaking up. America was looking for a country to punch
slug-silly after September 11, 2001 and a tinpot dictator to knock his teeth
in.... Both Saddam and his Ba'ath regime
were demolished faster than the first octave of the Star Spangled Banner.... Over in Asia, different cultures...had
refused to cower before the bomb-clutching American eagle.... North Korea...is spoiling for a fight. Will America oblige? If it does, will all of Asia just remain
silent? Or will China, South Korea and
Japan react?.... Take if from me, this
hombre George W. Bush will not hesitate to wipe North Korea from the face of
the earth.... In the case of SARS, we
all hang together or separately. In the
case of an aroused and angry America, the rest of the world stands no change of
winning military combat.... The
terror...of 9/11...transformed America overnight from what many called a gentle
giant into a colossal, arrogant glowering bully."
Rene Bas wrote in the independent Manila Times (4/29): "At the South Korea-North Korean
ministerial meeting going on right now, Pyongyang refuses to discuss the
nuclear crisis.... Although it is
generally known that Russia, like China, would want the North to curb its
nuclear weaponry ambitions, some experts suspect that Russia is helping fuel
those ambitions or is at least helping North Korea build nuclear power plants.
Russia definitely wants to play a major role in the Korean Peninsula. But North Korea wants most of all for talks
to be between itself and the USA. For only America can afford to finance the
massive economic and industrial programs Pyongyang must undertake to become a
normal-and less poverty-stricken-country."
Julius Fortuna wrote in the government-owned People's Journal
(4/26): "The U.S. has dropped its
demand for multilateral talks on the nuclear issue. Now they are meeting the North Koreans which
(they) have not considered in the past.
A face-to-face meeting, meaning a discussion without the South Koreans present,
is an advance from earlier discussions."
"A Weak Hand For Kim In A High-stakes Nuclear Game"
Lee Kim Chew noted in the pro-government Straits
Times (5/1): "Americans claim
North Korea told them it has a nuclear bomb. The Chinese say Pyongyang didn't
admit as much. Whichever the case, this is North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's
game--keep the world guessing.... Mr Kim
is now betting on an offer to give up his nuclear weapons programme and missile
tests in exchange for fuel, food, diplomatic recognition and security from an
American attack.... The Americans need
to reassess their position. Bush administration hawks will have to stop pushing
for economic and diplomatic sanctions or a military strike against the
Stalinist regime--for now at least....
Mr Kim's latest show of cards signals his readiness to cut a deal. The
US, however, will not be rushed and has said it won't reward bad
behaviour.... Clearly, the Bush
administration's hawkish attitude is unpopular among South Koreans, who want
the US, Japan, China and Russia to give Pyongyang aid if it forsakes nuclear
weapons and enters into multilateral peace talks. Like the US, China too wants a non-nuclear
Korean peninsula.... Beijing will use
whatever leverage it has to get the North off their nuclear weapons programme.
But there is no certainty that Pyongyang will oblige.... Mr Kim's nuclear blackmail card conceals a
weak hand.... In any case, the Americans
have refused to rule out a pre-emptive military strike against North Korea's
nuclear facilities.... Japan's future
rearmament is being retailored to fit into America's strategic plans for East
Asian security. Tokyo is also reviewing its pacifist constitution with American
blessings to loosen the restrictions on its military activities. Against this backdrop, Mr Kim plays his
nuclear brinkmanship game for regime survival."
SOUTH KOREA: "ROK's
About-face On Participation In Nuclear Talks"
Independent Dong-a Ilbo editorialized (5/2): "It is hardly understandable for
National Security Adviser Ra Jong-yil to say that the ROK will not insist on
participating in three-way talks between the U.S., North Korea, and
China.... Should the ROK--a party
directly concerned with the nuclear issue--be left out of such talks and
required to accept the results of the talks, we wonder if many Koreans would
accept that.... The ROKG's about-face
regarding its participation in nuclear talks will not help resolve the nuclear
crisis but will rather add to the confusion.
Seoul might be playing into the hands of Pyongyang, which is trying to
drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.
If Mr. Ra's remarks are a result of coordination with the U.S. in the
run-up to the upcoming U.S.-ROK summit, then ROKG must frankly explain to the
public the circumstances leading to such a decision."
"Not The Time To Take North Korea's Nuclear Issue To UN"
Government-owned Daehan Maeil declared (5/2): "Instead of seeking to bring the North
Korean nuclear issue before the UN Security Council, Washington should quickly
wrap up its analysis of Pyongyang's proposal and arrange a second round of
three-way talks to discuss its position....
Taking the nuclear issue to the Security Council will only invite tough
new policies, as Pyongyang asserted.
This would lead to the collapse of three-way talks, driving the nuclear
crisis to catastrophe. China, which has
played mediator, must also oppose such a move at this juncture. We urge Washington to concentrate its efforts
on creating an atmosphere for negotiations by stopping all discussion of taking
the nuclear issue to the UN and by putting hard-line voices to rest."
"Seoul Gives Much To Pyongyang But Receives Little In
Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo maintained (5/1): "Since North Korea has admitted to
having nuclear weapons, an admission that could seal our fate, the ROK
delegation to recent inter-Korean cabinet-level talks should have at least
obtained Pyongyang's pledge to observe the 'Inter-Korean Joint Declaration on a
Nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.' If indeed
the North refused to do so, the ROK delegation should have broken off the talks
and returned home. Is it only when we
take a firm stand on the nuclear issue that Pyongyang will consider adjusting
its position?.... If Seoul really
intends to resolve the nuclear issue, it should relinquish its obsession with
producing tangible results, a legacy from the former Kim Dae-jung government,
and display its firm resolve not to be dragged along by Pyongyang. This is the only way to redress our
relationship with North Korea."
"Two Koreas Need To Build Mutual Confidence In Times Of
Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun held
(5/1): "Recent inter-Korean
cabinet-level talks are significant in that they served to revive inter-Korean
dialogue, stalled since the launch of the new ROK government, and to
demonstrate to the world that inter-Korean talks are a useful dialogue channel
comparable with three-way talks between the U.S., China and North Korea. In addition, the talks highlighted the fact
that the two Koreas were engaged in 'reasonable' talks in the run-up to
President Roh's trip to the U.S., lending a hand to Mr. Roh's argument for a
peaceful settlement of the North Korean issue.... The higher tensions and conflict over the
nuclear issue grow on the peninsula, the more important inter-Korean dialogue
will become. Thus we need to work in a
steady and composed manner to build mutual confidence with North Korea."
"Is Pyongyang Resuming Its Threatening Rhetoric?"
Conservative Segye Ilbo observed (5/1): "The war of nerves between the U.S. and
North Korea following the three-way talks in Beijing can be seen as both
countries intending to gain the upper hand in future negotiations. As long as the U.S. holds fast to its
position of 'no reward for bad behavior' and insists that the North first
abandon its nuclear programs, it will be difficult for Washington to find
common ground with Pyongyang, which demands a package deal implemented in
stages.... Considering that U.S.
moderates on North Korea are losing ground following the U.S. victory in the
Iraq war, conflict between U.S. unilateralism and North Korean brinkmanship
could drive the nuclear crisis to catastrophe.
We urge Washington and Pyongyang to stop their war of nerves and find a
path of compromise and concession."
"The Need For Thorough Examination Of The 'Bold
Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (4/29): "North Korea has reportedly proposed a
package deal to scrap its nuclear programs in return for the U.S. providing
security assurances and economic aid.
This North Korean proposal represents a significant development that
could lead to a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the nuclear issue. However, considering the North's statement
during Beijing talks that it already had nuclear weapons, the U.S. and the ROK
need to work out strategies that take into account every possible worst-case
scenario.... Negotiations must start by
making clear the North's mistakes.... If
economic aid or a security guarantee is provided without holding Pyongyang
accountable, it will amount to rewarding the North for its wrongdoing. If
negotiations do not proceed smoothly, the North might attempt to use the
deadlock as a chance to pursue nuclear weapons.... In order to avoid being held hostage by the
North's nuclear gamble, we must establish a thorough system of verification to
confirm that the North has given up its nuclear ambitions."
" 'Bold Abandonment' Of Nuclear Weapons Only Way For
Pyongyang To Survive"
Independent Dong-a Ilbo held (4/29): "We cannot afford to be optimistic about
North Korea's signal that it would conditionally abandon its nuclear programs.
This is because the level of verification demanded by the U.S. will take a very
long time. The key to resolving the nuclear issue lies in North Korea's hands. We urge Pyongyang to immediately give up its
nuclear programs in a bold fashion, rather than promote its bold
"ROK Should Not Be Excluded From Negotiations On North Korean
Government-owned Daehan Maeil maintained (4/29): "If the North Korean proposal truly
intends to realize a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, no one can fail to support
it. Of great importance now is for North Korea to abstain from using
brinkmanship tactics in negotiations on the proposal and for the U.S. to
display flexibility in striking a package deal with the North.... There is some concern that the ROK might
again be excluded from negotiations on the North's bold proposal.... The ROK, as a party to the Inter-Korean
Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, is well positioned
to take part in such talks. If the ROK
again ends up assuming responsibility for the costs of decisions made in its
absence, as in 1994 when the Geneva Accord was arranged, the public backlash
will be enormous."
"North Korea's Nuclear Gambling Invites Nothing But
Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (4/26): "What became clear during the Beijing
three-way talks is that no matter how earnestly Seoul requests a peaceful
settlement of the nuclear crisis, Pyongyang continues with its nuclear games in
order to sustain its political system.
Therefore, our countermeasures should be flexible yet firm, ready to
adjust to even the worst-case scenario.
If North Korea actually has nuclear bombs or has started to reprocess
spent nuclear fuel rods, complex measures are going to be required, and
military tension must be considered....
Given this, President Roh's visit to the U.S. next month is all the more
important. He and Mr. Bush must use
their meeting to put to Pyongyang a decision between two paths--catastrophe or
coexistence--and to work out cooperative strategies in preparation for all
"North Korea's Possession Of Nuclear Weapons A Calamity For
The Korean Peninsula"
Independent Dong-a Ilbo declared (4/26): "There is a great likelihood that the
U.S. will change the way it deals with North Korea following the North's
admission that it possesses nuclear weapons.
Until now, the U.S. did not define the North as a nuclear state, although
that possibility was considered. Will
the U.S. try to live with a North Korea armed with nuclear weapons or seek to
eliminate the weapons? The U.S.' choice
is not hard to predict, given the skepticism of Bush Administration hardliners
toward negotiating with North Korea, brewing U.S. animosity toward the North
for ruining the trilateral talks, and the U.S. victory in the Iraq war.... The North's possession of nuclear weapons may
trigger an arms race in this region, prompting other Asian countries to pursue
a 'balance of terror.' Since we are the
party directly affected by this horrifying situation, we must accept reality
and change our perception of North Korea. How can we continue to regard the
North as a good-will dialogue partner when it has been found to be covertly
developing nuclear weapons while we send them rice and fertilizer?"
"Does North Korea Actually Have Nuclear Weapons or Is It
Moderate Hankook Ilbo maintained (4/26): "North Korea has once again embarrassed
the international community with its brinkmanship.... If the North actually has nuclear weapons,
stability in Northeast Asia and our national security is greatly
threatened.... For now it is hard to
understand what is behind Pyongyang's abrupt declaration that it possesses
nuclear weapons: Is Pyongyang trying to protect its regime by securing nuclear
state status or is the declaration just one of the North's brinkmanship tactics
intended to elicit more concessions from the U.S.? If North Korea has indeed chosen the path of
armaments to protect its regime, it seems a foolish and self-destructive
"The True Facts Behind North Korea's Statement On Nuclear
Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun observed
(4/26): "It is hard to understand
the State Department spokesman's remark during a briefing that North Korea's
admission of possessing nuclear weapons 'was by no means surprising'.... We need to pay special attention to this
unusually cautious U.S. response toward the North Korean admission.... If it is true that the North has nuclear
weapons as the North Korean representative said, the repercussions are
enormous. Thus, the urgent task for now is an accurate analysis of the
statement.... It is worrisome that the
nuclear admission may provide an excuse for Bush Administration hardliners to
take the offensive, regardless of Pyongyang's true intentions.... The possibility that they will claim
'dialogue is useless' and raise calls for resolution through military means is
much higher.... We hope that the next
round of talks between the North and the U.S., with China as mediator, will be
set through diplomatic channels and that dialogue will continue."
THAILAND: “North Korea Wields
The Nuclear Threat”
Top-circulation, moderately-conservative, English-language Bangkok
Post commented (4/28): “North Korea
effectively called off the three-way talks with China and the United States on
Friday, declaring that the Americans had nothing new to say.... North Korea has made a dreadful choice. By choosing to become an isolated, relentless
military state, it has managed to offend every nation. It has rejected advice from Seoul, from
regional bodies like ASEAN, and from its best friends like Russia and, in
particular, China. By bragging of its
nuclear weapons and promising to-somehow-use them in confrontation, North Korea
provides explicit and chilling proof that campaigns to halt the spread of nuclear
weapons and material are not too strong at all.
They are too weak.... North Korea
has insisted its dispute is with America alone.
That is wrong. Threats of nuclear
blackmail concern all countries, and particularly those close to the
INDIA: "The U.S. And
An editorial in the Guwahati-based English-language left-of-center
Sentinel read (5/1): "Now
that the objectives of the Bush Administration have been achieved in Iraq...its
(and therefore the world's) focus now has shifted to yet another 'rogue',
'evil' state--North Korea.... It is not
a question of North Korea going about threatening its neighbors, most of whom
are staunch U.S. allies, but of the probability of a fundamental change in the
equation of forces in the Korean peninsula and beyond, which has sent alarm
bells ringing in Washington. A nuclear
North Korea will invariably tilt the balance against the US in the strategic
Asia-Pacific region.... There are
reasons to believe that the Bush Administration will launch a pre-emptive
strike against North Korea sometime in the coming months. It has already started enacting the scenario
it had created before invading Iraq in the international politico-diplomatic
circles, with the full backing of the international media. Its multilateral
talks with China and North Korea held recently, was a clever ploy to camouflage
its intention, as was revealed by Mr. Collin Powell himself.... The UN must be able to stop this impending
war if the world is not to become subservient to US hegemony."
Independent Calcutta-based Bengali-language Ananda Bazar
Patrika declared (5/1): "That
North Korea has clearly reiterated that it will hold talks only with Washington
is really significant. There is no room
for any doubt that it is not ready to make any step without American financial
benevolence.... The current situation
naturally has led to internal feuds in Washington. Will it mean accepting North
Korea's nuclear threat for all practical purposes? Will it lead to anything substantial, leaving
the question of prestige alone? Or will
Pyongyang go back to its nuclear program after extracting the most important
promise of economic assistance? The answer is still unclear except in one case. The pride Washington has been enjoying after
the Iraq venture with other 'evil' nations getting alerted and alarmed has
waned to some extent. Pyongyang's
gestures are pointing out rather that the only way to resist U.S. aggression is
through nuclear programs. Washington probably did not expect this sort of
boomerang results out of its foreign policy."
SOUTH AFRICA: "North
The liberal Mercury commented (4/29): "North Korea...is a product of the
ideological and military confrontation which began the Cold War.... It exists in a time warp.... North Korea has come just about to the end of
the road.... But the political
system...could never survive the embrace of the South [Korea].... The South Korean government is in talks with
its neighbor.... It is like an
international version of negotiations with a delusionary gunman who has holed
up somewhere, from where he makes all kinds of demands and threats. As with the gunman, tact and firmness are
required. Usually they work."
CANADA: “Waiting On N.
The centrist Winnipeg Free Press observed (4/28): “The government of North Korea achieved its
long-sought meeting with representatives of the United States government last
week but at the end of it, the United States was left as uncertain as ever about
the reclusive republic's intentions and capacities and about the nature of the
threat it poses to its neighbours….
North Korea's neighbours should continue to make contracts and do
business with the Pyongyang government in small things such as shipments of
food and medicines so confidence can slowly be built. Even if the present
rulers cling to their isolation, their policy cannot continue forever. The
waiting game is a game the United States and its allies will eventually win,
though the wait may be very long."
"N. Koreans Pay High Price For Peace"
Richard Gwyn remarked in the liberal Toronto Star
(4/30): "This week, small, poor,
bankrupt and starving North Korea is negotiating one-on-one with the Americans.
The Chinese are also present--the talks are in Beijing--but mostly only so
Washington can claim not to have yielded to North Korea's insistence on
one-to-one negotiations. The difference between this diplomatic glove treatment
and the mailed fist that's just been used on Iraq is so stark that the
"it's all about nukes" analysis does have considerable
credibility.... The true threat is
global. North Korea has already sold its missile technology to countries like
Pakistan and Iran. It may one day--it apparently has hinted at this during the
Beijing talks--sell its nuclear materials to terrorist cells. It's the
possibility for this kind of global destructiveness that determines the U.S.'
policy toward North Korea rather than its immediate potential consequences,
although the risk of a regional nuclear arms race, starting with Japan and soon
afterward likely encompassing South Korea, is real and serious. The U.S. thus
is looking for a solution--not just another freeze of its program by North
Korea but the complete dismantling of it under United Nations' inspection--that
could apply elsewhere, as in Iran and perhaps Syria.... For the world, the kind of jaw, jaw, jaw now
going on between the U.S. and North Korea is a far better policy than would be
war, war, war. But for the people of North Korea, war would be their one chance
to escape from a jail and a lunatic asylum--as has just happened to the
"North Korea's Nukes"
The conservative National Post declared (4/28): "Last week, U.S. officials met with
their North Korean counterparts in talks held under Chinese auspices. The fact
the Chinese were involved at all was seen as a victory for U.S. President
George W. Bush, who has long refused Pyongyang's demands for purely bilateral
negotiations. But Beijing must do more than merely facilitate--it must be a
player. Like Saddam, Mr. Kim has a fundamentally paranoid, belligerent approach
to foreign relations, and therefore attaches existential importance to his WMD
program.... The Chinese continue to prop
up North Korea because they worry about the prospect of a unified Korea governed
from U.S.-friendly Seoul. This attitude will eventually change: Beijing is
furious at Pyongyang and is slowly increasing its links to South Korea. In the
meantime, though, the Chinese must at least use their power to snuff out Mr.
Kim's WMDs. The United States and China should present a united front: not a
stitch of aid until North Korea dismantles its nuclear program and destroys
whatever weapons it has already built. China may be wary about helping the
United States squeeze Pyongyang. But surely Beijing must view the only
alternative, war, as far worse."
Korea And The 'Domino Theory'"
Oscar Raul Cardoso opined in leading Clarin (4/26): "A reversed 'domino theory' seems to be
taking place in the controversial case of North Korea's possible nuclear
arsenal. And its first moves offers an interesting approach to understand the
US foreign policy after its recent and shocking military victory in
Iraq.... The 'domino theory' is a
byproduct of the US strategic thought of the last three decades of last
century.... The domino is now back in
Washington: the Hussein regime was at least the first of the peaces that will
bump into each other in the Middle East, thus throwing a new final design that
will include the region in the field of the West's wishes.... North Korea offers a relevant problem Iraq
never offered. Although it is an undeniably weak country, perhaps it is not so
weak to fit in the 'asymmetrical war' model that US strategists seem to prefer.
According to some recent intelligence report, all along the line that separates
the US and South Korean armies from that of North Korea, Pyongyang has deployed
some 13,000 artillery peaces half of which are able to shoot bullets containing
chemical and/or bacteriological weapons. This does not promise the sort of
post-heroic war which US military have been so fond of in recent times."
"Another Provocation Of The Most Feared Member Of The 'Axis
Marcelo Cantelmi wrote in leading Clarin (4/25): "North Korea could appear as a labyrinth
for the U.S.... North Korea's
strategy...is holding the old Cold War doctrine of the ensured mutual
destruction in order to compel the White House to resume suspended food and
energy programs, which are vital for its survival.... This crisis is leading to a strategic
reconfiguration of all Asia. The appearance of a labyrinth is precisely given
not only by the features of the North Korean regime but also by the danger
represented by China, among other Pyongyang's alliances, that could bring
unpredictable consequences if the conflict continues growing.... The dangerous ties (between North Korea and
Pakistan), plus the contradictions and crises in the Middle East, the Far East
and Central Asia should deserve diplomatic cautiousness that does not seem to
prevail in this stage of the world redesign promoted by the White House."
CHILE: "North Korea: A
Leading-circulation, popular Santiago-based La Tercera
editorialized (4/28): "Beijing
should reformulate its policy toward North Korea. If the announcement by North Korean
authorities is true, China's old ally will become a dangerous threat to a
region in which the Asian giant aspires to be a leader in the short term. However, some analysts think the information
provided by North Korea might be a strategy to dissuade the U.S. and its allies
from intervening in that nation. In the
past, Pyongyang has bragged about its nuclear program without showing concrete
proof of its progress.... In a sense,
the mutual commitment in the last round of negotiations to keep channels of
communication open between the delegations of the three participating countries
is of special relevance."