English Chinese Japanese Arabic Spanish
Home North Korea
2009/02/05 11:03 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 40 (February 5, 2009)


Stabilizing post-collapse N. Korea would require 460,000 troops

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- South Korea, the United States and their allies would need to send up to 460,000 troops and other security forces -- three times more than the U.S. troops deployed in Iraq -- to help maintain stability in North Korea in the event of the state's collapse, a U.S. think tank said on Jan. 28.

   "In an insurgency, according to one Defense Science Board study, as many as twenty occupying troops are needed for every thousand persons, implying a force of 460,000 troops, more than three times the number of American troops in Iraq," the Council on Foreign Relations said in a report. "Coping with such a contingency would likely be impossible for the South Korean and American forces to manage alone."

   The report, written by Paul Stares, director of the CFR's Center for Prevention Action, and Joel Wit, senior research fellow at Columbia University, broke down the number to a maximum of 230,000 in military personnel and additional police forces, depending on "the level of acquiescence to foreign intervention."

   They based the figures on "previous experiences elsewhere," saying, "The rule of thumb for the number of troops required for successful stability operations in a permissive environment is somewhere between five and ten per thousand people." North Korea's population is about 23 million.

   "If former elements of the North Korean military, its security and intelligence forces, or its large special operations force were to resist the presence of foreign forces, the size of the needed stabilization force would escalate dramatically," said the report titled "Preparing for Sudden Change in North Korea."

   The scholars noted securing North Korea's weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear warheads, chemical and biological weapons and long range missiles, should be a top priority.

   "Locating, safeguarding, and disposing of materials and stockpiles of the North's estimated six to eight nuclear weapons, four thousand tons of chemical weapons, and any biological weapons, as well as its ballistic missile program, would be a high priority, especially for the United States," they said.


President Lee Says Inter-Korean Relations Will Soon Be Repaired

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The relationship between the divided Koreas will soon be repaired despite the current chill in ties, but only when North Korea realizes it has to work with South Korea to receive the help it needs, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said on Jan. 30.

   The remarks came hours after a North Korean committee on unification and inter-Korean affairs said the socialist nation will no longer honor any political or military agreements reached between the two Koreas.

   "North Korea must realize which country out of the many nations in the world sincerely works to help it. If the North thinks hard enough, it will realize it is South Korea that will help it with compassion, and North Korea must realize this," Lee said in nationally televised roundtable discussion.

   Lee noted the inter-Korean relations under his administration, inaugurated 11 months ago, got off to a rough start, but said it is necessary for Pyongyang to understand it cannot depend on brinkmanship diplomacy forever when dealing with Seoul.

   "I cannot say how long it will take to reunify (the two Koreas), but one year out of the 60 years the two have been divided is not a long period of time if we want to normalize the South-North relationship, and we are not just sitting idly," he said.

   The president said there must be a point in the inter-Korean relations where the two Koreas can start to completely trust each other.

   "The relationship in the past often became ruptured after a good run, and then ruptured again. This was because the relationship set off wrong in the beginning," said the president.

   Pyongyang cut off nearly all dialogue with Seoul as Lee took a tougher stance on the North than his liberal predecessors, linking humanitarian assistance to progress in inter-Korean ties and multilateral talks aimed at denuclearizing the North.

   "We are waiting for North Korea to understand that the South will work with an open heart and compassion to help the North. I believe the South-North relationship will improve before too long," said Lee.


U.S. Korea Experts Going to Pyongyang Amid Rising Tensions

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- A former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and a number of other U.S. experts on Korea will travel to Pyongyang next week, sources said on Jan. 30, amid repeated threats by the North against South Korea as the new U.S. administration launches.

   "Former ambassador Stephen Bosworth and several other delegates will visit Pyongyang on Feb. 3 and meet with North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan before coming back home at around the 7th (of February)," a source said.

   A State Department official said it "can't confirm this kind of thing," adding that such a trip, if any, "should not be an official trip" and would have nothing to do with the U.S. government.

   However, the North's news media, as of Feb. 4, made no mention of the expected arrival of the U.S. group. The visit is the first civilian exchange between the two countries since U.S. President Barack Obama took office last month.

   A South Korean diplomat based in Washington said the trip by Bosworth and his colleagues is a private one for which they do not need permission from the State Department.

   The diplomat described the trip as part of North Korea's track two diplomacy, involving civilians to promote its cause in six-party nuclear talks and its bilateral relations with the U.S., coinciding with the advent of the Barack Obama administration a couple of weeks ago.

   He said the trip is "a private one which does not carry any official message of the Obama administration," adding that Bosworth had already made a couple of private visits to Pyongyang.


Six-way Meeting on Peace Regime Set for Mid-February in Moscow

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea and its five dialogue partners in ongoing denuclearization talks will convene a meeting later this month as scheduled in Moscow on ways to establish a regional security mechanism, officials in Seoul said on Feb. 2.

   The meeting comes despite a stall in broader talks over the North's nuclear program and would mark the first high-profile gathering of the six nations since new U.S. President Barack Obama took office. Obama's policy on North Korea has not taken final shape as key appointments have yet to be made and with the two Koreas taking a wait-and-see attitude.

   "The third meeting on the Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism will be held from Feb. 19-20 in Moscow," foreign ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young said during a press briefing.

   South Korea will be represented by Hur Chul, director general of the ministry's Korean Peninsula peace regime bureau, he added.

   Russia chairs the group within the six-party framework also involving the U.S., China, and Japan. The other four working groups are designed to discuss energy assistance for North Korea, denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, normalizing North Korea-U.S. relations and normalizing North Korea-Japan ties.

   Two previous meetings on a security mechanism -- the first in March 2007 on the sidelines of six-way talks in Beijing, followed by the second five months later in Moscow -- failed to produce tangible results amid slow-going discussions on ridding North Korea of its atomic weapons program.

   The participants from North Korea, the U.S. and the other nations are not known yet.


N. Korea Likely to Back Down from Bellicose Campaign

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea will eventually back down from its bellicose tactics aimed at driving a wedge between South Korea and the United States, a U.S. expert said on Feb. 4, calling Seoul's wait-and-see approach "wise."

   Richard Bush, director of the U.S. Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution, said the Barack Obama administration should also make clear that Pyongyang won't be rewarded by Washington for raising military tension.

   Bush is reportedly on the shortlist of candidates for Obama's special envoy to Pyongyang.

   "Pyongyang knows the capabilities of our satellites. It is saying, 'We will behave in an aggressive way. What are you going to do about it?" Bush said in an email to Yonhap News Agency.

   "In my view, the DPRK (North Korea) is engaging in these tactics to drive a wedge between the ROK (South Korea) and the United States, and to stimulate opposition within South Korea to President Lee (Myung-bak)," Bush said.

   The Lee government has reacted calmly, as he said in a nationally televised roundtable discussion on Jan. 30 night that such threats were "not new."

   Bush said Seoul and Washington should maintain a low-key approach. Pyongyang will withdraw its coercive campaign at some point, he predicted.

   "I believe that the Seoul government's wait-and-see approach is wise," he said, "If Pyongyang does fire a missile, whom will the world see as the responsible actors?

   "Whether it will lead to North Korea to back down quickly is another question -- It will back down at some point," he said.


U.S. Slaps Sanctions on North Korean Firms

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The United States imposed two-year sanctions on three North Korean firms for their involvement in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

   The move on Feb. 3 was the first of its kind from the Barack Obama administration. The sanctions, while largely symbolic, bar U.S. companies and government agencies from doing business with the North Korean firms.

   Similar penalties were also imposed on Iranian and Chinese companies.

   The Federal Register notice comes at a sensitive time for Washington's diplomatic initiative to denuclearize North Korea. Pyongyang reiterated on Feb. 2 it intends to hold on to its atomic arsenal until the U.S. removes "nuclear threats" against it.

   North Korea has also lashed out at the conservative South Korean government of Lee Myung-bak in recent weeks. It has notably refrained from making direct criticisms of Washington's new government.

   Obama's administration has underlined the importance of the six-party framework in disarming the North, but is also seeking more direct bilateral engagement with Pyongyang.

   The North Korean firms include (North) Korea Mining and Development Corporation (KOMID), Moksong Trading Corporation and Sino-Ki.

   The notice did not elaborate what kind of proliferation activities the companies were involved in, saying only the sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and several other acts have become effective as of Feb. 2.

   The U.S. regularly issues lists of foreign firms sanctioned for their involvement in WMD proliferation.

   In October, the U.S. released a notice that a slew of foreign companies, including a South Korean firm, were being sanctioned for contributing to WMD development in North Korea, Iran and Syria.

   South Korea's Yolin/Yullin Tech Inc. was on the October list announced by the State Department. Two North Korean firms, (North) Korea Mining and Development Corp. and (North) Korea Taesong Trading Co., were also listed along with other companies from Iran, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and China.

   Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced the U.S. at the time for violating international laws by unilaterally imposing trade sanctions on foreign firms, including a Russian arms manufacturer.


US Commander in S. Korea Urges N. Korea to Stop Raising Tension

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The top U.S. commander in South Korea urged North Korea on Feb. 4 to stop raising tension on the divided peninsula, amid intelligence reports the socialist state is gearing up to test-fire its most advanced missile.

   Seoul officials said earlier this week U.S. and South Korean intelligence agencies have spotted a North Korean train carrying what they believe to be a ballistic missile capable of reaching U.S. territory.

   The intelligence came as North Korea continues to step up its bitter campaign against South Korea, declaring all cross-border peace deals and the fragile western sea border void.

   "We're prepared... for any contingency, any provocation," Gen. Walter Sharp of the U.S. Forces Korea said in a speech on Feb. 4.

   "We watch North Korea along with the Republic of Korea (ROK/ South Korea) very, very closely," he said, calling on Pyongyang to "stop the provocations that have been going on, whether it is declaring old agreements to be no longer valid or missile technology that they continue to develop."

   About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed here as a deterrent against the North. The allies have yet to forge a peace pact with the communist state after the 1950-53 Korean War ended, resulting in one of the world's most heavily fortified borders.

   The allies "call upon North Korea to abide by the agreements they have made in the past, which includes the complete denuclearization," Sharp, who also heads the South Korea-U.S. combined forces command, said, warning against "proliferation of technology for any nuclear capabilities."