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CHOCO
Jan 15th, 2003, 04:33 PM
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Soldiers of South Korea, foreground, and North Korea, background, stand guard at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, 32 miles north of Seoul, on Wednesday.


N. Korea rejects U.S. talks offer

Will diplomacy work when negotiating with Kim Jong-Il? Wendy Sherman, a former special adviser to President Clinton on North Korea, discusses the options with ''Today's'' Matt Lauer.

Anti-U.S. drumbeat continues while Pyongyang agrees to talks with South Korea

MSNBC NEWS SERVICES

Jan. 15 — North Korea on Wednesday rejected as “pie in the sky” U.S. offers of dialogue and possible aid if it abandons its nuclear ambitions, according to its official news agency. However, the Pyongyang regime did agree to hold high-level talks with South Korea later this month, boosting the diplomatic drive for a peaceful solution to a nuclear dispute.

U.S. OFFICIALS — including President Bush on Tuesday — have held out the prospect of food and energy supplies, but Pyongyang maintained it would not accept any offer of dialogue with conditions attached.
Washington’s “loudmouthed supply of energy and food aid are like a pie in the sky, as they are possible only after the DPRK is totally disarmed,” a North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said, according to the news agency KCNA.
DPRK stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pyongyang’s official title for the nation. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said Wednesday there had been no official word on the possible offer. “That’s an additional unfortunate comment that North Korea has made,” he said of the north’s reported dismissal.
According to the agency report, the unidentified spokesman said his country’s nuclear issue could be resolved only when both sides negotiate “on an equal footing through fair negotiations that may clear both sides of their concerns.”
He repeated the regime’s oft-stated insistence that it win a nonaggression treaty from the United States.


“It is clear that the U.S. talk about dialogue is nothing but a deceptive drama to mislead the world public opinion,” the report quoted the unidentified ministry spokesman as saying.

RISING TENSION

As talk of aid stalled, an announcement Wednesday by the two Koreas that they would hold Cabinet-level meetings later this month was matched by hopeful comments from U.S. envoy James Kelly, who said before meetings in Beijing he was “reassured” by efforts to persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons development.
Tensions on the peninsula have been rising since North Korea admitted in October to having a secret nuclear program. Last week the communist regime announced its withdrawal from a global treaty aimed at limiting the spread of nuclear weapons, and threatened to begin testing missiles again.
South Korean officials have said they would use all inter-Korean contacts to persuade the North to give up its nuclear ambitions. Upcoming talks would be the ninth round the two countries have had since a North-South summit in June 2000 and the first since October.
While the North has maintained its antagonistic stance against the United States, it has not made any alarming moves on the ground.

DMZ ACTIVITY

Meanwhile, the U.S. military spotted increased patrols by North Korean soldiers over the past week in one area of the Demilitarized Zone dividing the Korean Peninsula, said Lt. Col. Matthew Margotta, who commands a combined battalion of U.S. and South Korean soldiers.
But the activity in the 2½-mile-wide, 156-mile-long DMZ were “not alarming, just unusual,” and were probably “triggered by a heightening of tensions,” Margotta said.
The North Koreans have also occupied a guard tower in the DMZ that hadn’t been used in years, he said.

In a speech Wednesday at the Yongsan command headquarters for U.S. troops in South Korea, President-elect Roh called the U.S.-South Korean alliance the “driving force” for security in the region.
“We can never accept North Korea’s nuclear weapons program,” Roh said, calling for international diplomacy to defuse the standoff. “The South Korean-U.S. alliance should be the basis for this effort,” he said.
The United States keeps 37,000 troops in South Korea, and the accidental killing of two teenage girls by American soldiers driving a military vehicle had increased calls that the force be scaled down.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The North has continually tried to drive a wedge between the South and the United States, its key ally, and on Wednesday called for a joint Korean struggle against “U.S. imperialists.”

“If the North and South join forces and take a joint stand, we can protect the nation’s dignity and safety against U.S. arrogance,” said Pyongyang Radio, monitored by South Korea’s national Yonhap news agency.
In Beijing, U.S. envoy Kelly entered talks at the Chinese Foreign Ministry saying he was optimistic about international efforts to peacefully resolve the confrontation. China has offered to host negotiations between the United States and North Korea.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, urged Russia to become involved in diplomatic efforts, saying Moscow could play a “vitally important role.”
The Supreme Court ordered a vote recount Wednesday for South Korea’s national election, a process that could overturn the victory of President-elect Roh Moo-hyun. But officials at the neutral National Election Committee and both parties say such a result is very unlikely.

CHOCO
Jan 15th, 2003, 06:51 PM
Analysis: Global fears over Korean crisis
By John Zarocostas
From the International Desk
Published 1/15/2003 10:26 AM


GENEVA, Switzerland, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Top arms control officials fear the North Korean nuclear crisis could adversely affect global disarmament efforts and they fault both Pyongyang's brinkmanship and the Bush administration for the latest flare-up.

Senior East Asian, Western, and U.N. diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, say it is difficult to estimate whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Il is playing a nuclear blackmail card to extract economic concessions for his isolated and impoverished nation, or to deter the Bush administration from planning to overthrow his regime.

The officials hope it is the former and that Pyongyang will step back from the brink and that current diplomatic efforts by the United States and the international community will help defuse the crisis.

President Bush said Tuesday: "I'm absolutely convinced this issue will be solved in a peaceful way."

Bush said that while the United States is willing to talk to North Korea, "what this nation won't do is to be blackmailed."

Mike Moore, a former New Zealand prime minister, told United Press International, the region is appalled by Pyongyang's actions and stressed Washington's strategy to pursue diplomacy along with its allies, is the correct thing.

"Bush is handling it correctly," he said.

But security analysts argue the Bush administration's policy toward North Korea may have contributed to the crisis.

Rebecca Johnson, executive director at the U.K.-based Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, said the Bush team "could have done more to keep the lid on the threat of North Korea."

There is a danger, Johnson fears, that to concentrate on dealing with Iraq, the United States might try to appease Pyongyang, "sending the wrong signal to North Korea and other potential proliferators."

The United States needs to rethink how it views its international security mix of international and national measures to restrict the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, she said.

Some experts believe the decision by North Korea on Jan. 10 to withdraw from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty -- the first time a country has walked out of a global arms control pact since World War II -- threatens to weaken the whole arms control structure.

Patricia Lewis, director of the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research, said in an interview, "Arms control is in a terrible situation. It has not been properly supported for years, and with this onslaught of North Korea, Iraq, and the India/Pakistan nuclear tests, the whole structure could crumble."

The Korean crisis, say arms control officials, is a blow to a stalled global disarmament agenda.

For years, the Geneva-based, U.N.- sponsored, Conference on Disarmament has been blocked by differences among its 66 member states. The conference is supposed to come up with a treaty that would ban production of material for making nuclear weapons.

In December 2001, the United States rejected what it considered a flawed draft accord on strengthening a bio-weapons control.

Jozef Goldblat, vice president at the Geneva International Peace Research Institute, said the Bush administration's decision to withdraw last year from the 1972 treaty with the former Soviet Union on the limitation of Anti-ballistic Missile systems set a bad precedent.

"North Korea has followed the example of the Americans," Goldblat said, quickly adding that if the U.N. Security Council decides North Korea poses a threat to international security, it can slap sanctions on Pyongyang. Pyongyang has warned, however, that sanctions would be regarded as an act of war.

In Geneva, the consensus is that the NPT regime can withstand the shock of the North Korean action.

North Korea is almost totally isolated, its huge armed forces are out of date, not well-trained, and it has no smart weapons, said a disarmament diplomat familiar with the nation's military capabilities.

In the meantime, some diplomats are concerned that if Pyongyang is not bluffing and is not stopped from building up its nuclear arsenal in the coming months, it could trigger an arms race in East Asia that could spill into other sensitive regions.

U.S. officials have said that North Korea possesses one or two nuclear weapons and Japan, which well-placed diplomats believe is not too sure of the U.S. strategic guarantee, has the requisite technology and plutonium to could acquire a nuclear-weapons capability within months if North Korea emerged as a serious threat.

But experts rule out such a scenario, given Japan's strong moral opposition to nuclear weapons.

Indeed, on Friday Japan Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said Tokyo was concerned by North Korea abandoning the NPT and would urge it to reverse its decision.

Diplomats differ on whether North Korea is free of its NPT obligations.

According to some disarmament diplomats, Pyongyang's withdrawal took effect immediately as it had given the required 90-day notice in March 1993, but suspended its withdrawal on the 89th day after heavy pressure from the United States.

Other Western and Asian diplomats doubt the old notice applies, and maintain North Korea can only withdraw after 90 days have passed from the latest notice.

The 1993-94 crisis was defused when the United States and North Korea signed an Agreed Framework accord in Geneva in October 1994. The pact kept North Korea in the NPT and provided stability for eight years in the volatile peninsula, experts note.

According to senior Asian diplomats close to Pyongyang, North Korea believes the United States violated the framework agreement, leading it to quit the NPT.

Under the framework accord, North Korea agreed to freeze its existing nuclear program, to remain a party to the NPT, and to allow its facilities to be monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In exchange, the United States agreed to cooperate in replacing contested graphite moderated reactors with proliferation-proof light water reactors and to provide 500,000 tons of heavy oil for heating until the project is completed.

Washington also agreed to provide North Korea with formal assurances against the threat or use of nuclear weapons. Pyongyang undertook to engage in a dialogue with the South and to create a nuclear free Korean peninsula.

The two sides also agreed to move toward full normalization of political and economic relations, including reducing barriers to trade and investment.

The crisis began last October, when Washington announced to the world that North Korean diplomats had acknowledged to having a nuclear weapons program. The program would have been a violation of a 1994 agreement with Washington. Following the October announcement, Washington halted the fuel supply.

But Sunday, Pyongyang denied it had told U.S. diplomats about its program.

CHOCO
Jan 15th, 2003, 11:28 PM
Pyongyang rejects offer of US talks
By Guy Dinmore in Washington
Published: January 15 2003 21:06 | Last Updated: January 15 2003 22:04


North Korea on Wednesday rejected the latest US proposal of talks, describing President George W. Bush's offer to reconsider food and energy aid in return for Pyongyang giving up its nuclear weapons programme as "deceptive drama" and "pie in the sky".


As US officials continued their diplomatic efforts to co-ordinate an international response to North Korea's withdrawal from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Ari Fleischer, White House spokesman, described the rebuff as "an additional unfortunate comment".

North Korea's foreign ministry, quoted by the official Korean Central News Agency, said the US had set unacceptable preconditions for dialogue, namely the scrapping of what Washington called Pyongyang's "nuclear programme". The ministry also criticised the US for linking future shipments of food aid to greater monitoring of deliveries.

"It is clear that the US talk about dialogue is nothing but a deceptive drama to mislead world public opinion," the ministry said.

Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, said he remained "hopeful" and the US would continue to seek a diplomatic solution through regional countries and the United Nations. Analysts in Washington did not see North Korea's response as a final rejection, rather as an attempt to probe what the US means about offering "talks", but not "negotiations".

More crucial, diplomats said, would be signs that North Korea was ready to take the crisis to the point of possible confrontation by resuming long-range missile testing or by starting to reprocess plutonium taken from its Yongbyon reactor, which is now in storage.

North Korea also disclosed details of what it said was the US effort to restart talks broken off last October, saying Washington had conveyed its willingness through a third country to engage in dialogue. "However, what we heard from the US side was simple words, that the US had nothing to say about the resumption of dialogue," the statement said. North Korea repeated its demands that the US should recognise its sovereignty, give assurances of "non-aggression" and help its economic development.

The US continued on Wednesday to seek international support. James Kelly, the top US envoy to Asia, held talks in Beijing with Li Zhaoxing, China's deputy foreign minister. John Bolton, a senior non-proliferation official, was in London.

The US believes China should put more pressure on its neighbour, while diplomats said the talks in London were expected to include discussion of co-ordinating a response through the UN Security Council. The Council is not expected to act until the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency meets, possibly next week.

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, the UN's nuclear watchdog, said in Moscow that Russia was well placed to broker a solution. Alexander Losyukov, deputy foreign minister, is to travel to Beijing today and then on to Pyongyang. "The elements of a solution are there on the table. They just need an honest broker or an interlocutor to put it together," Mr ElBaradei said.

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