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2009/12/31 10:59 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 87 (December 31, 2009)


N. Korea Sanctions among U.S. Foreign Policy Achievements

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The United States on Dec. 23 listed international cooperation to impose sanctions on North Korea for its missile and nuclear tests as one of its key foreign policy achievements this year.

   The U.S. has "maintained an international coalition which condemned North Korea's missile and nuclear tests through the adoption of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874," the State Department said in a report titled "Strategic Goals and Results."

   Among other "achievements" were the resumption of negotiations with Russia to replace the expiring Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) and holding the first round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue to discuss regional security concerns, nonproliferation, and military-to-military relations, the report said.

   Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., on Dec. 22 expressed satisfaction with international cooperation in implementing the sanctions on North Korea, saying they "are now the toughest sanctions on the books against any country in the world today."

   The sanctions "have been actively and forcibly implemented by member states all over the world," she said. "So North Korea is feeling far greater pressure to halt its nuclear weapons program than it has in the past."

   The United Arab Emirates in July seized a Bahamian-flagged ship carrying North Korean rocket-propelled grenades and other conventional weapons labeled as machine parts, the first seizure of its kind since the Security Council adopted Resolution 1874 in June after North Korea's nuclear test in May.

   In December, a plane carrying 35 tons of heavy arms from North Korea to somewhere in the Middle East was seized in Bangkok after landing for fuel.


Kim Yong-nam Complained about Threats from Outside World: Report

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- North Korea's ceremonial head of state complained about threats from the outside world when he met with a group of U.S. businesspeople recently, a report said on Dec. 24.

   Charles Boyd, president of Business Executives for National Security, a nonpartisan Washington-based organization, led a group of U.S. businessmen to Pyongyang earlier this month to meet with Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA), and other officials in the reclusive communist state.

   "Kim Yong-nam, president of the SPA, told (Boyd) how threatened North Korea felt by its neighbors," said the report, carried by the Web site North Korean Economy Watch.

   A retired U.S. Air Force four-star general, Boyd told the Web site, "To the extent that I could, I think I tried to relieve him of some of his anxiety about the external threats to the country."

   North Korea has said its nuclear weapons programs are a deterrent to threats from the U.S., insisting it will not abandon its arsenal unless there is an end to what it considers U.S. hostility.

   Pyongyang wants to forge a peace treaty with the U.S. to replace the fragile armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War, when U.S. troops fought alongside South Korea against invading North Korean troops, aided by their communist ally, China.

   The U.S. position is that any peace treaty should be discussed within the six-party talks on ending the North's nuclear ambitions.

   Stephen Bosworth, U.S. special representative for North Korea policy, who visited Pyongyang earlier this month, hinted at holding four-party discussions on the peace treaty within the six-party framework.

   Boyd said his delegation did not discuss investment or any other business opportunities while in Pyongyang, citing U.N. sanctions slapped on North Korea for its nuclear and missile tests.

   "I think they believed that we came with business leaders who were interested in investing in North Korea, and of course that we had to make that clear to them right from the outset that nobody had any intention whatsoever of making any investments in North Korea and in fact could not due to international sanctions," he was quoted as saying.

   "They were not particularly pleased to hear that. They wanted to talk about investments. They didn't want to talk about the linkage of those investments to a resolution of the nuclear issue," he said, adding he and his colleagues discussed "the benefits of leaving their isolation and entering into the globalized world."

   The delegation included Ross Perot Jr., chairman of the board of the Perot Systems Corp., Maurice Greenberg, chairman of C.V. Starr & Co. Inc., and Boyd's wife, Jessica Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.


North Korea May Detonate Third Nuclear Device: Think Tank

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea may detonate a third nuclear device and provoke border clashes in the future that could escalate tension on the Korean Peninsula, a report by a state-run think tank said on Dec. 25.

   In a report on possible developments in 2010, the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) warned Pyongyang may test another nuclear device to show the world that it has no plans to give up its atomic weapons program.

   "Such a step could highlight that North Korea is a nuclear power," the report said. It added that North Korea might even launch an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching U.S. territories in the Pacific and the western coast of North America.

   The North tested its first nuclear weapon in October 2006 and another more powerful device on May 25. The explosion that took place earlier in the year is estimated to have had a yield five times that of the 2006 device.

   "The recent explosion has been estimated to have had a 4-kiloton yield, indicating that the North has made headway in developing an operational nuclear weapon," the report said.

   KIDA said that if the international community starts to accept the North as a nuclear power, this could cause South Korea to shift towards building up its own nuclear deterrent capabilities.

   The institute said the North may also try to incite military clashes along the inter-Korean border, perhaps invading islands in the Yellow Sea just south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL) hoping to trigger a strong response by South Korea.

  Such a development would likely cause the dismantlement of the armistice regime signed after the Korea War (1950-1953) and weaken the NLL that has been the de facto sea border between the two countries.

   There have been a total three clashes along the NLL so far, with the latest taking place on Nov. 10.

   KIDA said that although clashes along the 248-kilometer demilitarized zone could take place, such events will probably be short firefights between troops. Air-to-air combat is not likely due to the North's weak Air Force assets, it said.


UNDP to Resume Operations in North Korea in February

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The U.N. development agency plans to restart its operations in North Korea in February after a two-year hiatus, a U.S. radio station reported on Dec. 26.

   Stephane Dujarric, spokesman at the U.N. Development Program (UNDP), told Voice of America that the remodeling of its Pyongyang office was completed in September and works are underway to install furniture and other equipment as well as to connect the Internet.

   The office will become "fully operational" by the end of February, he said.

   Currently, Jerome Sauvage, head of the UNDP's Pyongyang office, and two other foreign staffers are manning the office. Two others are due to arrive in Pyongyang in February, according to the spokesman, and the UNDP has already recruited 13 North Korean employees.

   The UNDP first launched development projects in the North in 1981 -- including agricultural development, human resource development and economic reform programs. But it withdrew from Pyongyang in early 2007 after suspicions arose over the socialist regime's misappropriation of development funds.

   On her visit to Seoul last month, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark said that her agency will reopen the office "with a small program -- around $2.5 million a year and a very small number of employees."

   The UNDP, meanwhile, shut down its office in Seoul earlier this month, with South Korea having transformed itself from a recipient of international assistance to donor nation.