NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 66 (August 6, 2009) |
*** FOREIGN TIPS
N. Korea May Face Anarchy After Kim Jong-il's Death: Scholar
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- North Korea may face anarchy after the death of its leader, Kim Jong-il, due to a lack of a clearly powerful successor despite reports that Kim has anointed one of his sons as heir, a Korea expert here said on July 29.
"The fact that no succession process has been put into place openly makes one thing certain: the potential for anarchy within North Korea following Kim's death is very real," Bruce Bechtol, a professor at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, told a forum at the Korea Economic Institute.
Bechtol also would not preclude North Korea imploding in dysfunction or exploding with violence after the ailing North Korean leader's death.
"If no clear succession process is in place and no clear powerful leader is in the wings who has a strong base in both the party and the military, what could easily ensue would be a no-holds-barred grab for power between the military, the party and the security agencies," the scholar said. "If so, there is no way to predict the potentiality for implosion or explosion -- or both."
The North Korean leader is rumored to have contracted pancreatic cancer last summer, when he also apparently suffered a stroke. Fewer than 5 percent of pancreatic cancer patients live longer than five years, studies show.
North Korean media have recently shown Kim to be thin and limping, although he was apparently healthy until last summer.
The reports on Kim's health come amid rumours that his third and youngest son, Jong-un, has been named as heir.
Kim Jong-il's brother-in-law, Chang Song-thaek, who was recently appointed to the all-powerful National Defense Commission, is said to be playing the role of regent in the power transition.
Bechtol is pessimistic about the 26-year-old's future.
"Should Kim Jong-il not live long enough to build a strong power base for his youngest son, many analysts suggest that Kim Jong-un would be vulnerable to the old guard among the power brokers within the party and the military," he said. "North Koreans place great emphasis on age and experience, and these are two things the youngest Kim certainly will not have."
Any collective leadership that might appear after Kim Jong-il's death "would likely be weak and unable to hold the country together for an extended period of time," he said.
Kim Jong-il had consolidated power for two decades in various party and government posts until the death in 1994 of his father, Kim Il-sung, North Korea's founder.
"To attempt to radically disrupt this system as it has existed in the monolithic communist government of North Korea would mean the likelihood of confusion, power struggles and possibly even armed conflict among factionalized members of the party, the military and the security services," Bechtol said.
U.S. Blacklists N.K. Firm for Involvement in WMD Proliferation
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The United States on July 30 blacklisted a North Korean firm for its involvement in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which were banned by U.N. resolutions after North Korea's nuclear and missile tests.
"The U.S. Treasury Department today designated a North Korean entity, the Korea Hyoksin Trading Corporation, under Executive Order 13382 for being owned or controlled by a North Korean entity, the Korea Ryonbong General Corporation," the department said in a statement.
Executive Order 13382 "freezes the assets of proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and their supporters, and it prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in any transactions with them, thereby isolating them from the U.S. financial and commercial systems," the statement said.
Adam J. Szubin, director of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, said, "The world community is taking forceful action against the arms and agencies of North Korea's WMD and missile programs, prohibiting dealings with them and banning them from participation in the global financial system. We will continue to do our part to identify and sanction such entities."
Hyoksin is among five North Korean firms blacklisted by the U.N. Security Council earlier this month under resolution 1874, adopted after North Korea's second nuclear test on May 25.
Ryonbong was among three North Korean firms targeted by the Security Council in 2006 under resolution 1718, adopted after the North's first nuclear test.
Thursday's statement cited Hyoksin for "being subordinate to Ryonbong and for its involvement in the development of WMD," adding Ryonbong "specializes in acquisition for North Korean defense industries and support to Pyongyang's military-related sales."
The U.S. already has its own list of several North Korean firms being subjected to asset freeze and transaction ban, and the additional listing comes days after Washington and Beijing agreed Tuesday at a strategic dialogue to cooperate closely on implementing U.N. resolutions on sanctioning North Korea.
The U.N. Security Council blacklisted five North Korean firms earlier this month, imposed a travel ban on and froze the assets of five North Korean officials, and banned the trade to and from North Korea of graphite for electrical discharge machining and aramid fiber, used in nuclear weapons and missiles.
The listing of the five North Korean officials is said to be a compromise between China and the U.S. and its allies amid skepticism of the effectiveness of the new sanctions on North Korea, already one of the world's most heavily sanctioned countries.
U.S. to Have Bilateral Talks with N.K. Only in Six-party Context
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The United States on July 30 dismissed calls by North Korea to hold bilateral talks to resolve the standoff over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, repeating that it will have bilateral negotiations only within in the six-party framework.
"As you know, our approach on North Korea is we feel very strongly that we have to engage North Korea multilaterally through the six-party mechanism," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said in a daily news briefing.
Kelly was responding to the remarks U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon made one day before suggesting Washington engage Pyongyang bilaterally to resolve the deadlock over the six-party talks on ending the North's nuclear ambitions.
"What we've been very clear about our position on any kind of bilateral talks, we feel very strongly that any talks that we have have to be in the context of the six-party talks, in context of the -- in a multilateral context. And that position hasn't changed," he said.
Ban on July 30 supported the multilateral format but added, "If necessary, there should be some other forms of dialogue... That I would like to support and welcome."
North Korea has said it will boycott for good the six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia, citing U.S. "hostile policy" and U.N. sanctions following its recent missile and nuclear tests.
The North's Foreign Ministry on July 27 issued a statement saying there is "a specific and reserved form of dialogue that can address the current situation," an apparent reference to bilateral talks between Pyongyang and Washington.
In a joint statement to wrap up the two-day strategic dialogue here, the U.S. and China on July 28 "affirmed the importance of the six-party talks and continuing efforts to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and maintaining peace and stability of the peninsula and Northeast Asia."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently urged the North to return to the six-party talks and pledged not to accept "half measures" or to reward provocations. She also warned North Korea "will face international isolation and the unrelenting pressure of global sanctions" until it agrees to denuclearization.
North Korea, however, dismissed as "nonsense" Clinton's assurance that "full normalization of relations, a permanent peace regime, and significant energy and economic assistance are all possible in the context of full and verifiable denuclearization."
In a related move, Philip Goldberg, U.S. interagency coordinator for implementation of the sanctions on North Korea, said in New York earlier in the day that "We're interested to returning to six-party talks."
But Goldberg, set to visit Moscow and some Asian capitals in the coming days to discuss sanctions on North Korea for the second time in about a month, added, "So while that door of course is open, our goal is and my specific responsibility is to implement the resolutions."
Speaking to reporters after a closed-door session of the Security Council's sanctions committee, Goldberg said that U.N. member states are in "unity of view" and "a singleness of purpose" in sanctioning the North.
"I do think that, in terms of our discussions with the Chinese, that there's a very strong commitment not just on China's part or the U.S. part, on the part of all the member states to implementation," he said. "But in terms of the exact measures, I want to allow China to speak for itself."
U.S. Reviewing Relisting N. Korea as State Sponsor of Terrorism
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The United States said on July 31 it was reviewing whether to relist North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism in connection with North Korea's alleged proliferation of missile and nuclear technology in recent months,
"There is a policy review going on," Philip Crowley, assistant secretary of state for public affairs, said in a daily news briefing. "I'm sure within that policy review, certain elements of that are being debated. We continue to evaluate North Korea in light of this provocative act."
"We are always reviewing and evaluating, you know, the countries of concern and their performance when it comes to terrorism," he said. "And there is a legal process that is required in statutes, whether you take a country off or whether you put a country on."
On July 22, the U.S. Senate adopted a resolution calling on President Barack Obama’s administration to "assess the effectiveness" of relisting North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism.
The resolution calls for Obama to submit a report within 30 days on Pyongyang's record on weapons of mass destruction proliferation and terrorism since it was removed from the U.S. State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism in October.
North Korea was first put on the terrorism list soon after it downed a South Korean airplane over Myanmar in 1987, killing all 115 passengers. Its delisting came in October 2008 and paved the way for a fresh round of multilateral nuclear talks deadlocked for nearly a year.
U.S. officials have raised fresh concerns over North Korea's alleged nuclear and missile technology transfer to Myanmar, formerly Burma.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed "growing concerns" over "military cooperation between North Korea and Burma, which we take very seriously," hinting at the possible transfer of North Korean nuclear and missile technology.
Strong Message Necessary to Resolve N. Korean Nuclear Issue: Bush
SEOGWIPO, South Korea (Yonhap) -- Former U.S. President George W. Bush on Aug. 1 urged member nations to the six-party disarmament talks to send a strong and clear message to North Korea to persuade it to give up its nuclear weapons program.
Bush made the remark at an economic forum organized by the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) on the southern island of Jeju during his five-day visit to South Korea.
Unless North Korea clearly and transparently ends its nuclear weapons drive, the U.S., South Korea, China, Japan and Russia should let North Korea know that it will face economic and other consequences, Bush said.
North Korea has made a series of provocative actions since its leader, Kim Jong-il, reportedly fell ill in August 2008. Responding to a U.N. condemnation of its long-range rocket launch in April, Pyongyang withdrew from the multilateral denuclearization talks.
In July in South Korea, Kurt Campbell, the U.S. Secretary of States for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said if North Korea takes "serious and irreversible steps" to end its nuclear program, Washington -- together with Seoul and other allies -- is ready to offer a "comprehensive package" of incentives.
Bush was scheduled to have dinner with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on the same day in Jeju, according to the forum's organizers.