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2009/03/26 10:34 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 47 (March 26, 2009)


Bosworth Advised Then President Clinton Not to Visit Pyonyang

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- A former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Stephen Bosworth, said he advised then President Bill Clinton not to go to Pyongyang for nuclear and missile talks because chances of a breakthrough were slim.

   "If a summit were going to be held, there should be a reasonable likelihood that it would lead to a real breakthrough," Bosworth said in a book titled "Ambassador's Memoir: U.S.-Korea Relations Through the Eyes of the Ambassadors." "As a practical matter, there was not enough time to lay the negotiating groundwork, and the administration reluctantly accepted that there could be no U.S.-DPRK (North Korean) summit."

   Bosworth, recently appointed as U.S. President Barack Obama's pointman on North Korea, was talking about the proposed summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il that was thwarted in late 2000 in Clinton's waning weeks.

   Clinton had pledged to visit Pyongyang, following North Korean Marshall Jo Myong-rok's visit to Washington and a return visit to the North Korean capital by then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in December 2000.

   Clinton recently said he regretted not going to Pyongyang at that time.

   Obama has said he intends to meet with Kim Jong-il to try to persuade him to abandon the North's nuclear ambitions, while continuing to pursue six-party denuclearization talks.

   Bosworth is charged with overseeing the six-party talks as well as the Obama administration's overall North Korea policy, including a possible Kim-Obama summit.

   Bosworth toured South Korea, China and Japan last month in his first overseas mission as the U.S. special representative for North Korea, but failed either to meet with North Korean officials or visit Pyongyang, as North Korea apparently refused to accept him.

   Bosworth's failed attempt to visit Pyongyang came amid escalating tensions in the Korean Peninsula over North Korea's imminent launch of a satellite, which the U.S. sees as a cover for test-firing a ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental U.S.

   Bosworth said he was asked for his views by Washington in mid-December of 2000.

   "I cautioned that a presidential visit to North Korea should be the culmination of a successful diplomatic process," he said. "In the arsenal of U.S. diplomacy, a presidential visit to North Korea would be the heavy artillery."

   The former top U.S. diplomat in Seoul said the high-level exchanges between North Korea and the U.S. in Clinton's waning months were prompted by North Korea's 1998 test-firing of a three-stage rocket to launch a satellite.

   The Clinton administration had been "left with a de facto, if undeclared, policy of waiting for North Korea to collapse while hoping that the Agreed Framework would keep the nuclear genie in the bottle," Bosworth said.

   "The provisions of the 1994 Agreed Framework that provided for political engagement between Washington and Pyongyang and movement toward a more normal relationship were put aside."


N. Korea Deploying Missiles Capable of Hitting Alaska: Gen. Sharp

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- North Korea has been deploying new intermediate-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting Alaska, the commander of the U.S. Forces in Korea said on March 19.

   "North Korea is now fielding a new intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of striking Okinawa, Guam and Alaska, and continues to develop and mature systems with an intercontinental range capability," Gen. Walter Sharp said in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

   Sharp's remarks come amid escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula, as North Korea announced it will launch a rocket in early April to put a satellite into orbit.

   The U.S. and its allies see the rocket launch as a guise for test-firing a ballistic missile capable of reaching the continental U.S., saying the rocket can also be used for a missile launch.

   Washington and Tokyo have been threatening to intercept the rocket, with Pyongyang issuing warnings that any interception will lead to war.

   "North Korea continues to build missiles of increasing range, lethality and accuracy, thereby bolstering its inventory of missiles available for internal use or external sale, while maintaining several hundred missiles in active force," said the general, who doubles as the commander of the Combined Forces of South Korea and the U.S.

   North Korea is said to be a major provider of missiles and missile parts to Syria, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries.

   "The DPRK's missile export program, with established links to Syria and Iran, among others, along with its quest to develop improved ballistic missile technology, poses a threat to Northeast Asia and the world at large," Sharp said, referring to North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "It is a threat that we cannot afford to overlook."

   The commander said North Korea "views its ballistic missile programs as a source of prestige, a strategic deterrent, a means of exerting regional influence and a source of hard currency."


S. Korea Co-sponsors U.N. Resolution on N. Korean Human Rights

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korea has co-sponsored a U.N. resolution condemning North Korea's human rights abuses that is expected to be put to a vote next week, officials here said on March 20.

   "We co-sponsored the European Union-drafted resolution submitted to the 10th session of the U.N. Human Rights Council underway in Geneva," a foreign ministry official said, asking not to be named.

   He refused to disclose the contents of the resolution, saying the U.N. body will soon release the documents.

   "Since North Korea's human rights condition is not a matter that improves or worsens today or tomorrow, the contents of this year's resolution is similar to that of last year," he added.

   South Korea's conservative government voted last March for the Human Right Council resolution criticizing the dire situation in the socialist state, adopting a tougher stance on the issue after a decade of near silence from the two previous liberal administrations.

   In November, the South went further by co-sponsoring a resolution at the U.N. General Assembly, the first time it has done so.

   "A date for the vote on this year's resolution has yet to be fixed, but I think it will take place some time next week," the official said.


Kim Jong-il Named 3rd Worst Dictator After Mugabe, Al-Bashir

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has been named the third worst dictator in the world, a U.S. weekly magazine said on March 22.

   Kim is the worst only after Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe and Sudan's Omar Al-Bashir, the magazine Parade said in "The World's 10 Worst Dictatorships" published in its March 22 edition.

   "Kim is believed to have suffered a stroke and has been absent from important public events. But his regime continues to be one of the world's most repressive," the magazine said. "Hundreds of thousands of citizens, including children, are imprisoned in labor camps for such crimes as hoarding food and anti-socialist activities."

   The North Korean leader was selected by the magazine as the worst dictator last year.


U.S. Doesn't Want to Use Force in Denuclearizing N.K.: Envoy

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The United States is committed to diplomatic efforts in denuclearizing North Korea, its envoy to Seoul reiterated on March 23, dismissing the possibility of resorting to military force.

   "We have to be very persistent and strong. We don't want to see war here," responded U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Stephens after a lecture to university students in Seoul when asked whether Washington would consider using force as an option to end North Korea's nuclear program.

   The U.S. has been engaging in multilateral talks to end the North's nuclear developments through six-party talks, also involving South Korea, China, Japan and Russia. The negotiations have been stalled since December as Pyongyang rejected a proposed protocol on verifying its past nuclear activities and stockpile.

   "Nobody wants to see war and violence on the Korean Peninsula. Everyone understands what a disastrous course that would be," Stephens said.

   Washington also wants to see "renewed dialogue" between the two Koreas, Stephens said.

   "We want to see renewed dialogue between the North and South, a better relationship and an end to the sort of provocative rhetoric and behavior that we've seen recently," said Stephens.


Aid Possible Before Full Denuclearization of N. Korea: Official

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korea will provide economic assistance to North Korea even before the North completely gives up its nuclear ambitions if the communist nation agrees in principle to give them up, a senior advisor to South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said on March 23.

   Kim Tae-hyo, secretary for national security strategy, also said Seoul will continue to seek dialogue with Pyongyang even after the communist nation launches what it claims is a communications satellite, believed by many to be a long-range missile.

   "Currently, there are many misunderstandings about our North Korea policy," Kim said in a security forum hosted by the ruling Grand National Party.

   Even before his inauguration some 13 months ago, the South Korean president repeatedly called on the communist North to give up all its nuclear programs, vowing in return to help bring the North's per capita income to US$3,000 under an initiative he named "Denuclearization, Openness, 3000."

   Pyongyang snubbed the offer as an insult and has since cut off all dialogue with Seoul.

   Kim, a former political science professor, said Seoul's goal was not to wait for the North's regime collapse, but rather to engage Pyongyang in dialogue as soon as possible. But he added the conditions would first have to be met.

   "We are saying we would like to begin with an agreement from North Korea that denuclearization is our final destination even though it will be difficult to resolve the issue right away," he said.

   The presidential aide said Seoul can expand and even start new economic cooperation projects between the two Koreas if Pyongyang agrees to eventual denuclearization.

   "To this end, slandering each other has to go away," Kim noted.

   Since Lee's inauguration, Pyongyang has labeled him a puppet of "U.S. imperialists" and a "traitor," despite past accords between the two Koreas that prohibit slander or defamation of each other's leaders.

   Kim said Seoul will work to get North Korea to abide by these past accords.


Obama Urged Not to Overreact to N. Korean Rocket, to Revive Talks

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The Barack Obama administration was urged on March 23 to refrain from trying to intercept a North Korean rocket scheduled for launch in early April due to fears over its negative impact on the six-party nuclear talks.

   Frank Jannuzi, professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, also recommended that the Obama administration revive the missile talks with North Korea suspended under the Bill Clinton administration.

   "Overreaction would be shooting down the missile, taking out the missile from the launch pad, suspending and terminating the six party talks," Jannuzi told a seminar at the Heritage Foundation.

   North Korea has said it will launch a rocket in early April to put a satellite into orbit as part of its space program, and threatened that any rocket interception will trigger a war.

   U.S. and Japanese officials have talked about a possible shooting down of any North Korean rocket despite skepticism over their capability to do that, saying the rocket has dual use for launching either a satellite or a ballistic missile capable or hitting the continental U.S.

   Jannuzi, who served as a key foreign policy adviser for the Obama camp, urged the administration to revive the missile talks.

   "North Korea may be aiming to revive the negotiations stalled at the end of the Clinton administration," he said. "Some may recall North Korea was aiming for US$1 billion in annual payment in return for ending its missile exports and aiming (for) expansion of the six-party talks to include the missile program."

   North Korea is said to be a major provider of missiles and missile parts to Syria, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries.

   "If North Korea would not deploy, would not export, would not produce long range missiles, it's cheaper than keeping an aircraft carrier to shoot it down, cheaper than keeping national missile defense in Alaska," the congressional staff member of the majority party said.

   Jannuzi was talking about the aborted missile talks in the late 1990s under the Clinton administration in which North Korea demanded that the U.S. provide up to US$1 billion annually in return for the North refraining from exporting its missile and parts.

   The missile talks followed North Korea's launch of its first Taepodong ballistic missile over Japan in 1998, which shocked the Clinton administration when the rocket's debris fell into seas off Alaska.

   The missile talks did not produce results, as Clinton withdrew his promise to visit Pyongyang to conclude the missile and nuclear talks in the waning months of his presidency in 2000, citing a lack of time.

   U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier this month talked about the "need to have a conversation about missiles" with North Korea.