International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

February 17, 2004

February 17, 2004





**  The DPRK seeks an "international guarantee of its political system."


**  Nearly all dailies say the DPRK must "completely abandon its ongoing nuclear programs."


**  Leftist papers join Chinese writers in hoping "constant dialogue" will allay tensions. 


**  Beijing, the host of the talks, retains its "leading role" in the issue.




'Kim's Bomb' and Kim's regime inseparable--  Global dailies debated if the DPRK nuclear issue could be solved without "regime change."  One German paper warned that Pyongyang will want to retain some nuclear weapons because it lacks "other means of...securing its power."  Seoul's independent Joong-Ang Ilbo declared that any "successful resolution" of the issue "must be accompanied by the North's democratization."  The moderately conservative Bangkok Post advised the world to help the North "develop into a responsible and economically improving state" if it verifies the end of its nuclear program.


'A complete halt' to its nuclear program is the DPRK's only option--  Hawkish writers, with Japanese papers in the lead, urged the parties to "get tough with the North."  Moderate Yomiuri praised Tokyo's sanctions, terming it "meaningful to have another card to increase the pressure" on the North.  A German analyst added that only a "credible, threatening scenario" can force the DPRK to the table.  ROK analysts demanded Pyongyang "do its utmost to show sincerity," with pro-government Seoul Shinmun saying Seoul can "persuade the U.S. to take a more forward-looking policy" only if the North "promises to give up nuclear weapons."


Neither side should 'force unilateral concessions'--  Moderate Asian dailies agreed it is "possible to resolve" the issue through dialogue, calling the DPRK's willingness to talk "very positive progress."  A "fundamental solution" is possible if the U.S. provides sufficient "humanitarian aid and security guarantees," said a leftist South Korean outlet.  Official Chinese papers stressed the talks' inherent difficulties, foreseeing an "arduous and lengthy process."  World News Journal warned it is "not realistic to expect...a breakthrough"; the more optimistic China Daily insisted the talks could yield "resolution of a very complex and volatile issue."


'China's role is crucial'--  Hong Kong's independent South China Morning Post labeled China's efforts "crucial."  As the "largest supplier of fuel and food to North Korea," it is the most able to mediate with the North.  But Germany's left-of-center Berliner Zeitung opined that "Beijing cannot operate freely" because it "cannot simply stop the supplies and risk the collapse" of the DPRK.  A Chinese analyst, stressing Beijing's "leading role in brokering the negotiations," called for the parties to show the "utmost sincerity and flexibility" so the talks do not fail and cause China to lose face.


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis was based on 33 reports from 7 countries over 16 January - 17 February 2004.  Excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




GERMANY:  "Double Victim"


Harald Maass noted in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (2/10):  "The United States, Europe, and mainly Japan withheld or delayed food shipments to North Korea over the past few months.  The reason is obvious:  they want to exert pressure on North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-il to prompt him to give up his nuclear plans.  It is true that officials in Washington, Brussels and Tokyo reject the view that humanitarian assistance is linked to politics, since the governments promised food supplies to North Korea, but this time the deliveries are smaller and have been delayed so that any food deports are empty by then.  As far as morals are concerned, such approach is questionable.  Nobody knows how many North Koreans will die of hunger or exhaustion.  But what is even worse:  such moves are politically useless.  There is no opposition in North Korea, which could be strengthened through a famine.  In the mid 90s, hundreds of thousands of people died without any public protests.  Kim Jong-il...will simply ignore the hunger in the country.  The ones who will suffer are the people in North Korea.  Thus far, they have been only the victims of a regime, but now the world leaves them in the lurch."


"Wait And See And Build Bombs"


Henrik Bork remarked in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (2/4):  "It is too early to hope for a breakthrough in talks with North Korea.  Time is working for Pyongyang.  North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il knows that George W. Bush is not interested in opening a new front before the presidential elections.  Bush did not repeat his phrase of the 'axis of evil' in his most recent State of the Union address, and his warnings against North Korea sounded conspicuously mild this time.  In this situation we must fear that North Korea will continue to delay an agreement.  It is probably speculating on a new U.S. government making more concessions, but a comprehensive and verifiable stop of nuclear programs is quickly necessary, since Pyongyang could otherwise continue to build its nuclear bombs unimpededly.  In this situation, the United States and its allies do not have too many means to exert pressure....  But without a credible, threatening scenario, North Korea cannot be forced to accept anything.  The only thinkable way out is to seek a compromise with Pyongyang."


"Disappeared Fuel Rods"


Frank Herold commented in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (1/27):  "Assuming the North Korean presentation was not a bluff, there is urgent need for action.  But there are not many options.  A military regime change is absolutely out of question.  Under no circumstance would China tolerate an U.S. invasion in front of its doorstep.  The diplomatic attempts reached an impasse last year.  The negotiations in Beijing between China, Russia North Korea, the U.S., and Russia produced no results.  More talks are supposed to be held soon but time is on North Korea's side.  Until now it was understood that Pyongyang would trade off its nuclear program against a non-aggression pact with the U.S. and lavish economic aid.  Now it looks like Pyongyang wants to keep a number of nuclear weapons, because the regime has no other means of deterrence and securing its power.  China will play the crucial role in the future process.  Until now, Beijing avoided publicly condemning its neighbor and ally.   The uncontrolled and unpredictable behavior of the North Korean leadership is a challenge for China's claim to be the superpower of the region.  But Beijing cannot operate freely.  Despite North Korea being completely depended on Chinese food supplies since the U.N. cancelled its aid, China cannot simply stop the supplies and risk the collapse of the regime in order to exert pressure (on North Korea).  As a result millions of starving refugees would invade the northeastern China and intensify the already existent social tension in this region.   The guessing game how to deal with North Korea will continue."


RUSSIA:  "N. Korea's Nukes May Not Worry The U.S. Too Much After All"


Georgiy Bulychev contended in reformist Vremya Novostey (2/12): "It is not implausible that Pyongyang's nuclear program does not worry America too much now.  The DPRK being increasingly isolated and closely watched means that it has been cut off from key materials and technologies.   Exposing its ties to nuclear experts in Pakistan has closed one more channel of nuclear secrets.   Even if Pyongyang does have a uranium enrichment program, it can't do much in that area now.   The hypothetical chance of the North Koreans adding a few plutonium bombs to their arsenal won't bother the Americans as long as they are sure that their real enemies can't get hold of those weapons.   As for other North Korean threats, the Americans, owing to their innate practicality and after one and a half years of a permanent crisis, have stopped taking them seriously.   Between Kim's Bomb and Kim himself, the latter probably worries the Americans more.   U.S. neo-conservatives don't want to put up with the Pyongyang regime.   But given that attitude, the North Koreans will hardly stop posing as a nuclear power....  The Chinese hope that the six-party talks on Korea will give rise to an unprecedented regional structure to deal with political and economic problems in Northeast Asia....  Moscow, too, realizes that this is not so much about the North Korean Bomb as about the future of the region.  So it can't be an indifferent observer or mediator between Pyongyang and Washington, much less support one of them.  A compromise solution meeting the concerns of all the parties is no concession to nuclear blackmail.   It is a kind of solution that meets our own interests."


"They Like 'Russian Hills' In Pyongyang"


Valery Denisov wrote in reformist Kommersant (2/9):  "Without rejecting the DPRK's legal right to its own security, one cannot however agree with the North Korean intentions to develop WMD and use them to engage in blackmail in order to attain its own objectives. Such a policy leads to a further increase in tensions on Korean Peninsula, in the entire North-East Asia, and is undermining the fragile foundations of the international-legal regime of nuclear nonproliferation. The North Koreans ought to calculate well the possible consequences of its Juche behavior and agree to a political settlement of the nuclear conflict, especially considering that there is no shortage of reasonable proposals on that score."


HUNGARY:  "American Chess Game"


Gabor Zord stated in right-wing conservative Hungarian-language Magyar Nemzet (2/10):  "North Korea is characteristic of a horrible duality: the starving people are those who pay the price of maintaining a one million strong army and the country's quite ambitious weapons program. The leaks that allegedly came from the American administration's circles (and that are often described as reports by prestigious security policy think tank) don't deal with the issue of incredible poverty in North Korea.  These 'studies' analyze more the threat that the North Korean regime's new weapons might pose [to the outside world]. These studies describe North Korean leader Kim Yong Il's crack-brained, idiotic abuse [of power] as a possible source of the conflicts.  But they forget to mention that the source of the conflict could also be the immense dissatisfaction of the North-Korean people generated by poverty.  Do these intelligence reports that are available in Washington take this option into consideration as well? Do they take it into consideration that not only the North Korean dictator but the calumniated nation can also be important in the Korean chess game?"




CHINA:  "Cautious Optimism For Solving Nuclear Issue”


Hu Xuan commented in the official English-language China Daily (2/17):  "Expectations are riding on all parties in the upcoming six-way talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue to reach new consensus and push for substantial results.  Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in the Republic of Korea (ROK) capital of Seoul yesterday that conditions are in place to launch substantial negotiations in the new round of talks.  Should we view this as an encouraging sign of more progress on the road to a final resolution of the nuclear standoff?....  The easing of the stands of both the United States and the DPRK, the two key players in the crisis, coupled with active international intercession appears to have paved the way for a solution to the impasse. It is in the interests of all parties involved to try to seize the opportunity and strive for narrowing differences as quickly as possible.  It may be difficult to expect a breakthrough from the new round of talks, but the position of each party will become clearer. To push for substantial results, it is imperative, in particular, to cultivate a sense of mutual trust between the United States and the DPRK....  The other parties concerned have also maintained close contacts to co-ordinate their stances.  Attaching great importance to the second round of talks, all parties concerned will hopefully frame the consensus reached in the first round in the form of a joint document....  A solution lies within reach as long as all parties work together through peaceful negotiations, showing the utmost sincerity and flexibility for co-operation.  With new negotiations kicking off, it is hoped that the diplomatic channels will remain open and accessible, and that eventually a comprehensive security consultation mechanism on the peninsula, and throughout the region, can be established.”


“Difficulty With ‘Simultaneous Action’ At Six-Party Talks”


Shi Zheng commented in China Radio International-sponsored World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (2/9):  “Some DPRK analysts believe that although at this moment the U.S. and DPRK still publicly insist on their own positions, but the second round of the Six-Party Talks has been settled after several months of diplomatic mediation, which proves at least that the U.S. and DPRK have reached a certain common view with regard to a discussion of ‘simultaneous action'....  Therefore, some experts predict that the format of U.S.-DPRK ‘simultaneous action’ will be the core topic of the talks....  But this is easier said than done.  The root reason is that the U.S. and DPRK don’t trust each other....  A peaceful solution to the DPRK nuclear issue will serve the needs of all parties, but it will be a complicated, arduous and lengthy process.  It is not realistic to expect that a breakthrough will be made through a few conversations.  But all parties should have the utmost sincerity and continuously adopt a flexible attitude to promote the talks.  Then mutual trust will grow from nothing, divergences will decrease and prospects to solve the issue will become brighter." 


“To Hold Smooth Talks Is The Common Wish Of All Parties”


Wang Li held in official Communist Party-run People’s Daily (Renmin Ribao) (2/9):  “The first round of the Six-Party Talks was one important step for dialogue and a peaceful solution of the Korean Peninsula’s nuclear issue. The agreement that all parties reached during the talks provided the basis for continued talks....  The DPRK nuclear issue is complex and has a complicated historical...background; it concerns countless geopolitical and economic issues, so one has to be patient and use one’s wisdom to solve the issue and should not expect it to be solved overnight....  At this point the DPRK nuclear issue is already on the track of dialogue and peaceful resolution, and various parties should maintain their sincerity, cherish the opportunity and conduct the talks with constructive attitudes.  Only thus can the talks ‘be started, smoothly conducted and sustained.”


“New Six-Way Discussion Offering Hope Of Peace”


Wang Hui declared in the official English-language China Daily (2/8):  "Cautious optimism greeted Tuesday's announcement of a new round of six-party talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear standoff....  The willingness of all six nations to return to the negotiation table is testimony to their strong commitment to pursue the peaceful path mapped out in the first round of talks six months ago....  Sharing a common border with the peninsula, China has always maintained the area in question should be free of nuclear weapons to ensure peace and stability. To that end the country has taken a leading role in brokering the negotiations ever since the nuclear standoff surfaced 15 months ago.  China has a long-cherished policy of pursuing diplomatic efforts for a peaceful solution of the crisis. However, it also recognizes the nuclear issue is very complex and will require more than one or two rounds of talks before it can be resolved to the satisfaction of all stakesholders....  Nevertheless, it should be clearly understood that while putting forth proposals of their own, all parties should make a renewed commitment to consider contrary points of view. This will help avoid the senseless rehashing of the same old arguments, while fostering real dialogue that could translate into a final consensus.  Furthermore, while mutually concerned with general interest and regional peace and security, all parties have indicated a willingness to compromise on individual interests.  These are all good signs the initiative will end with the peaceful resolution of a very complex and volatile issue.”


“Readout On The Current Situation On The Korean Peninsula”


Guan Juanjuan maintained in China Radio International-sponsored World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao) (2/3):  “Yang Bojiang [Director of the Northeast Asian Studies Office at the Contemporary International Relations Institute] said, I think the DPRK’s latest series of expressions represent very positive progress....  Lately the DPRK seems to be giving more and asking less....  But the U.S.-DPRK divergence has not decreased.  It is regrettable that, in my opinion, the Bush administration wants to ‘take’ but is unwilling to ‘give’ in the DPRK nuclear negotiations....  On the one hand, to establish a peace-loving Presidential image, Bush needs to respond positively to a compromise by the DPRK.  On the other hand, the attitude that the Bush administration has taken shows that it will not necessarily sit down and conduct a serious negotiation with the DPRK....  Yang Bojiang said...the tone of the negotiation will be determined by the U.S. attitude and its response to the DPRK’s representations.  Obviously now the ‘ball’ is in the U.S. court....  There are two aspects to the influence of the DPRK issue.  It deteriorated Northeast Asia’s security situation and may give rise to another arms race in the region.  Moreover, it also has created an opportunity for the concerned parties in the region to enhance cooperation and negotiation for peace.”


“Japan Uses Embargo To Suppress North Korea: Hardliners Have Upper Hand In Government"


Sun Dongmin opined in official Communist Party-run international Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (2/2):  “Japan has three reasons for taking tough measures against North Korea: first, the hardliners have the upper hand in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Koizumi administration....  Second, Japan’s domestic consensus is dissatisfied with the kidnapping issue and with North Korea’s long postponement of a solution....  Third, Japan pursues a ‘dialogue and pressure’ North Korea policy.  Its essence is that pressure plays a major role in its North Korea diplomacy....  In view of Japanese government’s saying that ‘Japan does not intend to issue sanctions at present,’ observers think that Japan’s current measures are just a tricky card in its hand, its frequent flashing of its ‘knife’ is just another measure to add pressure.  Under the present conditions, it is unlikely that Japan will wantonly initiate economic sanctions against North Korea.”




Michael Richardson concluded in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (2/13):  "Continuing revelations about clandestine international trafficking in technology and equipment to build nuclear weapons will put added pressure on North Korea to come clean, in negotiations due to resume in Beijing this month, about the full extent of its program.  In his televised confession last week, Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan said that he had sold nuclear secrets to Libya, Iran and North Korea....  It is not yet clear whether North Korea also received Dr Khan's blueprint for making a uranium bomb....  But more disclosures about the Pakistan-North Korean connection are likely as international efforts intensify to unravel and shut the nuclear black market.  This must worry Pyongyang, which has acknowledged that it has a program to make nuclear weapons from plutonium but refutes reports that it is developing a uranium-based one.  China, too, has refused to accept the U.S. contention that North Korea has a two-track program. However, Beijing's position, which Washington has described as unhelpful, may shift as more evidence comes to light.  China's role is crucial because it is by far the largest foreign supplier of fuel and food to North Korea and is hosting the six-party talks due to resume on February 25."


"Time To Look The Other Way?"


Robert Keatley observed in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (2/3):  "But several things are not working out.  For one, it is not certain that Pyongyang will surrender any existing weapons, no matter what peaceful pledges Washington has on offer.  The country's leader, Kim Jong-il, so thoroughly distrusts the George W. Bush administration (the feeling is mutual) that he may insist on keeping a few weapons as a deterrent, even if he accepts tough restrictions against adding new ones....  Specialists like Jack Pritchard, a former U.S. negotiator who visited Pyongyang recently, are convinced that Mr. Kim is ready to scrap the entire program if the price is right, and he criticizes the Bush team for stalling.  But others disagree; they believe Mr. Kim is determined to keep a small deterrent.  But does North Korea really have any nuclear weapons?  The CIA has long assumed that Pyongyang has a weapon or two, and a London think-tank has concluded that this could expand to about 20 in a few years.  But doubts remain....  The Bush administration remains torn between settling with the Kim regime or trying to topple it....  Forecasts about North Korea are notoriously unreliable. Even so, the possibility now exists of a diplomatic deal that would curb its nuclear plans under verifiable controls, while leaving it the odd bomb or two--provided they exist."


"The Door For Six-party Talks On The DPRK Nuclear Crisis Is Opening Gradually"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (1/16):  "There are two signals that the six-party talks will possibly be convened shortly.  First, on January 8, the newly appointed U.S. special envoy on the DPRK issue, Joseph De Trani, and Pyongyang's Ambassador to the UN held a short meeting.  It was a direct dialogue between DPRK and U.S. senior officials, which has seldom happened since the DPRK nuclear crisis broke out last October....  Second, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly held separate meetings with the Chinese director of the Asian section of the PRC Foreign Ministry, Fu Ying, on the 13th.  A Japanese paper reported that Chinese and U.S. officials coordinated in drafting a joint declaration for a new round of six-way talks....  Chinese Foreign Ministry's spokesperson, Kong Chuan, said that China and the U.S. had 'profound' discussions.  He said that the preparation work for the six-way talks had begun and that the talks would be convened soon....  Since Libya and Iran announced that they would give up their nuclear weapons plans, the international community has put more and more pressure on the DPRK.  Pyongyang cannot ignore this, which will help advance the six-way talks."


JAPAN:  "Pyongyang Talks Leave Door Ajar"


The independent, leftist Japan Times declared (2/17):  "It appears that North Korea now wants to reach some sort of agreement with Japan over the abduction issue....  Maybe Pyongyang is looking for a face-saving arrangement....  Dealing with a complex issue such as this one requires a great deal of diplomatic finesse. The bottom line is that the abduction issue must be settled in one way or another before normalization talks can begin.  It remains unclear why Pyongyang offered to discuss the issue at this time. However, its abrupt invitation, coming ahead of a second round of six-party talks...suggests that it wants to disconnect this humanitarian problem from the central theme of the meeting: North Korea's nuclear-weapons program. Tokyo remains committed to the policy of seeking a package settlement within the framework of the six-nation dialogue.  There is also little doubt that international pressure is driving North Korea into a corner. Its leaders, from General Secretary Kim Jong Il on down, must be disturbed by what has happened lately to Libya and Iran...and to Pakistan....  The Japanese threat of unilateral economic sanctions against North Korea, such as halting cash remittances, must have deepened its sense of isolation....  Tokyo's position, of course, is that all the remaining eight family members must come to Japan....  As things now stand, North Korea's position is unacceptable, not only to the returned abductees but also to the Japanese government and people. It can be favorably considered only if Pyongyang gives clear-cut assurance that the remaining relatives will be allowed to depart on the basis of their voluntary decisions. Given the scant progress made in the Pyongyang talks last week, Japan will have to press its case at the six-nation talks and via revived government-to-government contacts."


"Japan-N. Korea Talks Outcome Of Pressure"


Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri editorialized (2/13):  "There is only one way to settle North Korea's criminal abductions of Japanese nationals.  Pyongyang must immediately and unconditionally allow the family members of the former abductees to come to Japan. It must also admit that the abductions were state-commissioned crimes....  There is no other way to resolve this issue....  North Korea agreed to hold talks because the Japanese government stepped up its pressure.  The Diet recently passed the revised Foreign Exchange and Foreign Trade Law, which will allow the government to stop money transfers to and trade with North Korea....  In consideration of future talks with North Korea, it will be meaningful to have another card to increase the pressure.  Recently, Libya and Iran have come under international pressure over their nuclear development programs. In addition, Japan, the United States and Europe have strengthened their joint actions to prevent the proliferation of WMD.  Because of these moves, North Korea is also feeling the heat....  Behind Pyongyang's decision to accept Japan's request to hold talks appears to be its intention to undermine cooperation between Japan, the United States and South Korea, using the abduction issue as leverage, and to try to improve the way the Japanese view North Korea while, at the same time, dividing Japanese public opinion.  For the time being, North Korea presumably hopes to coax food aid, such as rice, from Japan, and avoid economic sanctions. Also apparent is Pyongyang's desire to win Japan's economic assistance by normalizing diplomatic ties.  In the past, however, Japan ended up sending rice to North Korea without receiving anything in return. Such aid turned out to be useless in improving mutual relations. The government and ruling parties must remember the bitter lessons of the past.  In negotiating with North Korea, the government must hold to the principle of resolving not only the abduction issue, but also those involving Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development programs. At this stage of negotiations, it is vitally important to stick to principles."


"Nuclear and Abduction Issues Should be Resolved Early"


Business-oriented Nihon Keizai editorialized (2/4):  "China will host a second round of six-way talks on the North Korean nuclear standoff in Beijing starting on Feb. 25. It is imperative that North Korea negotiate in good faith with the US, Japan and other participants at the talks to bring a complete halt to its nuclear development program and resolve the abduction issue. The North is going ahead with its uranium enrichment program to develop nuclear weapons.  Japanese nationals abducted by the North and their family members have already reached the end of their endurance. 'Negotiations for further negotiations' with the North can no longer be acceptable. All the participants should get tough with the North at the upcoming talks, keeping the imposition of sanctions in mind."


"GOJ Toughening Stance Toward DPRK"


Business-oriented Nihon Keizai observed (2/2):  "With a bill allowing the GOJ to unilaterally impose sanctions on the DPRK expected to be enacted at the Diet (parliament) later this week, a tug-of-war is intensifying over Tokyo's future policy toward Pyongyang between GOJ groups in favor of 'pressure' and those advocating 'appeasement.'  The two rival groups are set for further clashes, depending on North Korea's reaction to the GOJ's move.  MOFA Deputy Vice Minister Tanaka, who is said to be in favor of behind-the-scenes negotiations to improve ties with the North, has reportedly expressed opposition to Deputy Secretary of State Armitage's plan to meet with the families of Japanese abductees at the US Embassy on Monday before attending the Strategic Dialogue meeting with MOFA Vice Minister Takeuchi.  Tanaka reportedly said that as long as there is no progress on the abduction issue, the abductees' kin should not be allowed to meet with Armitage.  Tanaka's opposition to the meeting is indicative of his concern that if Armitage and the kin of abductees indicate an uncompromising stance toward Pyongyang, it will adversely affect Japan's future negotiations with the North.  The 'pro-Pyongyang' MOFA official withdrew his opposition after learning that it was not MOFA, but the US Embassy that had arranged the meeting between Armitage and the abductees' family members." 


"U.S. And Japan Should Not Surrender To North Korean Intimidation"


Conservative Sankei commented (1/23):  "Although the US and Japan should not ignore an American scientist's observation that North Korea possibly has the capacity to make weapons grade plutonium, Washington and Tokyo should not panic at Pyongyang's bluff.  The USG's unruffled reaction to the expert's testimony is very appropriate.  The DPRK should give a full explanation of its nuclear weapons development programs, including alleged uranium enrichment operations, to the international community."


SOUTH KOREA:  “Even Though Our Compatriots Are Dying In Gas Chambers”


Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (2/13):  "A local NGO advocating the human rights of North Korean defectors yesterday made public a document showing that North Korea tested chemical weapons on political prisoners....  In addition, the BBC broadcast a program, titled ‘Access to Evil,’ last week to disclose the North’s human experimentation....  Nevertheless, the ROKG and Korean society are showing cool and lackadaisical responses to the developments....  Considering the ROKG’s failure last year to participate in a vote on a UN resolution urging the North to improve its human rights situation, for fear of angering the North Korean regime, Seoul will inevitably come under criticism for overlooking the North’s human rights abuses....  What good are inter-Korean reconciliation and exchanges if our innocent North Korean compatriots are being gassed in a prison camp at this very moment?”


“Great Expectations For Second Round Of Six-Party Talks”


Koh Yoo-hwan wrote in moderate Hankook Ilbo (2/13):  “In the run-up to the upcoming second round of the Six-Party Talks, both the U.S. and North Korea are responding positively to freezing the North’s nuclear program as a first step toward a complete dismantlement.  In particular, President Bush has expressed optimism about the North Korean nuclear problem, saying that good progress is being made in the North....  Mr. Bush seems to have determined to peacefully resolve the North Korean issue in order to use it as a diplomatic achievement for his reelection....  With these changes in U.S. and North Korea, chances are growing that a substantial process will begin to resolve the nuclear issue during the upcoming Six-Party Talks....  If the talks are to produce tangible results, it is very important for the concerned parties to reach a meaningful agreement [on issues of contention] ahead of the talks, through behind-the-scenes negotiations.  It is high time for the relevant parties, including the ROK, to display their diplomatic capabilities. ”


“Traps Lying In Wait For Six-Party Talks”


Kim Tae-woo opined in independent Joong-Ang Ilbo (2/12):  “Even if Washington made concessions, allowing the current nuclear crisis to be resolved in favor of North Korea, there are many traps lying in wait....  As for Pyongyang, weapons of mass destruction are so instrumental in maintaining its system that there is always the chance that Pyongyang will resume its nuclear program any time it wants....  By denying the existence of a uranium-enrichment program, Pyongyang may be trying to keep another way of developing nuclear weapons intact even after resolution of the nuclear crisis....  Furthermore, even if Pyongyang abandons its nuclear program, it still holds its powerful missile expertise and stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons--the seeds of future conflicts with the U.S....  After all, the substance of the North’s nuclear problem lies in Pyongyang’s desire to maintain its system.  Pyongyang is well aware that its dismantlement of weapons of mass destruction and its adoption of reform and open-door policies will end its hostile relationship with Washington and improve its tattered economy.  However, it fails to do so because reforming and opening up its system will bring ‘capitalistic contamination’ to the North and will eventually threaten the existence of its regime....  In this respect, a successful resolution of the nuclear issue must be accompanied by the North’s democratization....  The concerned parties must keep this core of the nuclear issue in mind when they come to the upcoming Six-Party Talks.” 


“The Need To Respond Wisely To The Controversy Surrounding Pakistani Nuclear Technology Transfer”


Moderate Hankook Ilbo editorialized (2/6):  “We worry about the possible negative impact of a top Pakistani nuclear scientist’s admission to transferring uranium-enrichment technology to North Korea may have on the upcoming Six-Party Talks aimed at resolving the North Korean nuclear problem.  Given that it is becoming a bone of contention whether or not the North actually has a highly enriched uranium-based nuclear program, the Pakistani admission will obviously cloud the mood of the talks....  However, considering that the resolution of the nuclear issue is being delayed by conflicts between the U.S. and North Korea over ways to resolve the problem, not by their divergent claims over the North’s nuclear capabilities, the success of the talks hinges on whether the U.S. and the North have the will to resolve the issue.  With this Pakistani controversy expected to push the U.S. to step up its pressure on the North, it is important for the ROK to respond wisely, considering various circumstances in the run-up to the Six-Party Talks.”


“Six-Party Talks Should Rekindle Spark Of Hope”


Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun held (2/5):  “The upcoming second round of the Six-Party Talks is of great significance in that it makes it possible to resolve the North Korean nuclear problem through dialogue and to maintain the momentum of the talks....  The success of the upcoming talks hinges on whether or not the U.S. and North Korea truly have the will to resolve the nuclear issue.  The two countries should not try to force unilateral concessions from each other, as they did during the first round of talks.  In particular, should Washington once again fail to grant its Chief Delegate James Kelly the full authority to negotiate and let ‘neo-cons’ work behind the scenes to foul up the talks, the upcoming talks would be a complete waste of time.  The North, for its part, should display its negotiation capabilities by making efforts to find common ground with the U.S., rather than insisting on its own demands....  We sincerely hope that the upcoming talks will serve as a good occasion to rekindle the spark of hope [to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.]”


“This Round of Six-Party Talks Should at Least Strengthen Basis for Dialogue”


Conservative Chosun Ilbo noted (2/4):  “Even though there are still big differences of opinion between the U.S. and North Korea, there are expectations for a breakthrough, though small, in resolving the North Korean nuclear problem.  This is because the North’s recent invitation of civilian U.S. experts to show its plutonium could be seen as the communist country’s way of urging dialogue with the U.S., not only as a tactic to pressure Washington.  However, if either Washington or Pyongyang does not show its strong willingness to resolve the nuclear issue while believing time is on its side, the crisis will further deepen, driving Pyongyang--depending on the developments of the U.S. presidential election--to declare itself a ‘nuclear state’ in order to gain the upper hand in negotiations with the U.S.  It would also be undesirable for Washington to believe that, if it plays for time while stepping up its pressure on the North, Pyongyang will eventually capitulate.”


“These Six-Party Talks Must Find A Breakthrough”


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo stated (2/4):  “There are things both Koreas should bear in mind.  First, Pyongyang should believe in the good will of the participating nations....  It will never acquire, to the degree it desires, an international guarantee of its political system without some minimum confidence among the countries.  In addition, Pyongyang should note that the ROK is not a hostage of the talks but an important partner who guarantees its security.  Seoul, for its part, should work hard to get Pyongyang to realize that it has no more room to play, and to convince Washington that the nuclear issue should be resolved peacefully....  We truly hope that the upcoming talks will find a substantial breakthrough in maintaining the momentum of the Six-Party Talks.”


“Success of Six-Party Talks Hinges on North Korea’s Attitude”


Independent Dong-a Ilbo commented (2/4):  “After all, the success of the Six-Party Talks hinges on North Korea’s attitude.  In this regard, the North should do its utmost to show sincerity by stopping aggravating the situation and working hard to resolve the nuclear issue.  Only then can the talks be productive....  If the upcoming talks end without any results, the patience of the international community will inevitably erode and the resolution of the nuclear problem will be all the more difficult.”  


“Hoping For Productive Results In Six-Party Talks”


Moderate Hankook Ilbo contended (2/4):  “Considering that there have been direct and indirect talks between the U.S. and the DPRK since the first round of the Six-Party Talks in August, we expect that this second round of talks will produce a productive outcome....  Since the concerned parties, including the U.S. and the DPRK, all agreed to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue peacefully, with Pyongyang dismantling its nuclear programs in return for Washington providing security assurances and lifting economic sanctions, what is at issue now is according to what schedules the U.S. and the North should implement such steps....  How this matter will be addressed during this round of talks draws our special attention....  Furthermore, we hope that the Six-Party Talks will develop into a mechanism for constant dialogue.  In this regard, it is encouraging to hear that the concerned parties are considering establishing a working-level meeting that will deal with the major issues for the official Six-Party Talks.”


“Hoping For Substantial Progress To Be Made During Six-Party Talks”


Pro-government Seoul Shinmun declared (2/4):  “Considering that this round of the Six-Party Talks will be held after a six-month hiatus, this hard-won meeting must be an occasion for achieving substantial progress in resolving the North Korean nuclear problem.  To this end, Pyongyang must make clear its willingness to completely abandon its ongoing nuclear programs and facilities--including already produced nuclear materials--during the talks....  Faced with a recent media report that Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s top nuclear scientist, has admitted to providing nuclear technology to the North...our position is that neither North nor South Korea should produce or possess nuclear weapons....  We urge Pyongyang to keep in mind that only after it promises to give up nuclear weapons can the ROK persuade the U.S. to take a more forward-looking policy toward it.”


“Ongoing Inter-Korean Ministerial Talks Should Serve As Channel To Persuade Pyongyang To Give Up Nuclear Weapons”


Pro-government Seoul Shinmun editorialized (2/3):  “We believe that there will be no further progress in inter-Korean dialogue and economic cooperation without resolving the North Korean nuclear issue....  Pyongyang made clear last month that it has a program to develop nuclear weapons by showing a visiting civilian U.S. delegation plutonium, [a material used to make nuclear bombs.]  This North Korean move is a provocation that cannot be tolerated, especially considering that the ROK people will certainly be the first victim of the nuclear program....  If inter-Korean minister-level talks are to function as a useful channel to convince Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program, our delegation to these inter-Korean talks should, at least, elicit a definite promise from the Northern side to participate in a second round of the Six-Party Talks.”


“Bush Administration Should Produce Fundamental Solution to North Korea’s Nuclear Issue”


Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun maintained (2/3):  “Visiting Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly told the Unification Minister that inter-Korean talks are functioning very usefully and are providing a basis to resolve the North Korean nuclear problem, apparently helping to dispel ‘unnecessary misunderstandings’ between the two countries, including suspicions that Washington is putting the brakes on inter-Korean dialogue while expecting Seoul to adjust the pace of the talks....  There has been widespread criticism at home and abroad that the Bush Administration’s lack of willingness to resolve the nuclear issue has derailed the Six-Party Talks, with Sen. John Kerry, a strong U.S. Democratic presidential candidate, denouncing Mr. Bush’s rejection of direct talks with North Korea as ‘imprudent’ and IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei asserting that humanitarian aid and security guarantees should be provided to the North in order to resolve the nuclear crisis.  We truly hope that the Bush Administration will examine the North’s proposals in a more serious manner and produce a fundamental solution so that the Six-Party Talks can be successfully held.”   


THAILAND:  “Claiming Defense Only To Proliferate”


The lead editorial in top-circulation, moderately-conservative, English-language Bangkok Post read (2/2):  “In recent weeks, the United States, Japan and South Korea have said little about the Pyongyang part of the “axis of evil”.  Washington has properly treated Iraq, Iran and North Korea as separate cases.  Clearly, the hope is that China can convince its long-time ally that its best hope is to cooperate with the world.  It is likely the dictator Kim Jong-il can survive yet another winter by scraping up income through aid--including from Washington--and illegal, covert weapons sales like the recent Scud missiles smuggled to Yemen.  Mr Kim is most worried about his survival.  In fact, while his fall and the collapse of his regime would be welcomed in decent circles everywhere, the fallout from a Pyongyang political implosion would be massive.  A far more attractive solution would see a change of policy in Pyongyang, where the nuclear program and illicit weapons sales halt immediately, in return for which the world would help North Korea develop into a responsible and economically improving state.  The time has come to challenge and to rein in the tiny handful of rogue nations using the pretext of national defense to proliferate.  The world must face Pyongyang and a number of other uncooperative countries with more determination.  North Korea has the right to develop a system of national defense.  Every country has the duty to defend its borders and thus its citizens.  In these dangerous days, however, no country has the right to challenge peace and stability.”



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