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Cablegate: Press Bulletin - December 15, 2008

O 150816Z DEC 08
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TAGS: KPAO PGOV PREL MARR ECON KS US
SUBJECT: PRESS BULLETIN - December 15, 2008

Opinions/Editorials

1. "Six-Party Process Reveals Its Fundamental Limitations" (JoongAng
Ilbo, December 13, 2008, Page 26)
2. What the "Controversy over North Korea's Nuclear Status" Means
(Chosun Ilbo, December 15, 2008, Page 35)
3. Obama's Way of Dealing with North Korea
(Hankook Ilbo, December 15, 2008, Page 39)
4. What's the Answer, Hill?
(JoongAng Ilbo, December 15, 2008, Page 31)
5. Seoul and Washington Must See Eye to Eye on N. Korea (Chosun
Ilbo, December 13, 2008, Page 31)
6. New Momentum for Six-Party Talks
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, December 15, 2008, Page 27)
7. Zaytun Unit Enhanced the ROK's Standing
(Hankook Ilbo, December 15, 2008, Page 39)


Features

8. Nuke Talks' Collapse Strikes Blow to Bush Administration
(Dong-a Ilbo, December 13, 2008, Page 8)
9. Six-Party Nations Disagree Over Fuel Aid to N. Korea
(Chosun Ilbo, December 15, 2008, Page 6)
10. N. Korea Socks It to Bush but Keeps Mum on Obama
(Chosun Ilbo, December 15, 2008, Page 6)


Top Headlines

Chosun Ilbo
ROKG to Provide Emergency Financial Support to Low-income Households
If Their Breadwinners Lose Their Jobs

JoongAng Ilbo
ROK's Middle Class, a "Driver of Economic Growth," Declining

Dong-a Ilbo, Seoul Shinmun
ROKG to Frontload 2009 Budget Spending

Hankook Ilbo
Hacker Gained an Early Look at
2009 College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) Results

Hankyoreh Shinmun
Following Budget Passage, "Dinosaur" Ruling Grand National Party
(GNP) Poised to Push Other Key Bills Through, Despite the
Opposition's Resistance

Segye Ilbo
Obama Considers Expanding Economic Stimulus Measures
to Total $1 Trillion


Domestic Developments

1. A high-ranking Pentagon official told ROK correspondents in
Washington on Dec. 13 (local time) that the ROK should contribute
more to Afghanistan. Media reported that it is unusual for a senior
U.S. Defense Department official to ask for Seoul's aid to
Afghanistan in such a direct and open manner. (Chosun, Dong-a,
Hankyoreh, Segye, Seoul)
International News

1. Following the collapse of the latest round of the Six-Party Talks
on North Korea's nuclear programs, countries in the talks are in
confusion over whether to continue fuel aid to North Korea. State
Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said in a Dec. 12 (local time)
press briefing: "I think this is the understanding of other parties;
that future fuel shipments are not going to move forward absent a
verification regime." However, Russia responded on the same day that
it had not agreed upon any joint arrangements about a delay or
suspension of fuel oil shipments to North Korea. An ROK official
also said on Dec. 14 that it would be up to each country to decide
whether to continue fuel aid to the communist state. (All)

2. "Kim Jong-il's 'Music Politics' Aimed at Obama:" According to the
Dec. 13 issue of The Washington Post, North Korea wants its National
Symphony Orchestra to perform in New York in March next year. Many
see the move as an attempt to improve ties with the U.S. in an
apolitical manner. (JoongAng)

3. It was confirmed on Dec. 13 that the U.S. National Intelligence
Council (NIC) followed the example of the U.S. Joint Operation
Command, listing North Korea as a "nuclear weapon state" in its
latest report entitled "Global Trend 2025." (Dong-a, Segye, Seoul)


Media Analysis

Six-Party Talks/ North Korea

Following the collapse of the latest round of the Six-Party Talks,
the ROK media gave wide attention to the confusion arising between
the Six-Party countries over whether to continue fuel aid to North
Korea. The ROK media compared State Department Spokesman Sean
McCormack's Dec. 12 statement -- "I think this is the understanding
of other parties that the future fuel shipments are not going to
move forward absent a verification regime" -- with Russian Envoy to
the Six-Party Talks Alexei Borodavkin's December 13 remark that
Russia had not agreed upon any arrangements about a delay or
suspension of fuel oil shipments to North Korea. The ROK media also
cited an ROK official who said on Dec. 14: "It is up to each
country to decide whether to continue heavy fuel oil aid to the
communist state." Furthermore, press also cited chief North Korean
Nuclear Negotiator Kim Kye-gwan, upon leaving Beijing on Dec. 13, as
warning: "If the heavy oil delivery is suspended, we will moderate
the pace of the nuclear disablement process."

Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo editorialized on Saturday (Dec. 13):
"The biggest reason (for the collapse of the latest round of the
Six-Party Talks) is the Bush Administration's failure to grasp the
substance of North Korea's negotiating strategy and wavering between
hard-line and conciliatory policies on the country... Even though
the Six-Party Talks have produced some achievements, they are far
from progress in terms of the substantive goal of dismantling North
Korea's nuclear programs."

Most of the ROK media gave attention to the U.S. National
Intelligence Council (NIC)'s latest report entitled "Global Trend
2025," saying that the NIC report followed the example of a recent
report by the U.S. Joint Operation Command in listing North Korea as
a "nuclear weapon state." In a related development, conservative
Chosun Ilbo's Senior Reporter Kang In-sun commented: "U.S. Secretary
of Defense Robert Gates also said in an article in the latest
edition of Foreign Affairs that North Korea has produced several
nuclear bombs. Taken all this together, I wonder if a slight and
delicate change is in the works in the U.S. policy vis-`-vis North
Korea's nuclear programs."

Most of the ROK media also gave play to a Dec. 13 Washington Post
report saying that North Korea wants its National Symphony Orchestra
to perform in New York in March next year in return for the New
Philharmonic's performance in Pyongyang last February.
Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo viewed this North Korean move as an
attempt to improve "the political relationship between North Korea
and the U.S. in the most apolitical manner." JoongAng also wrote in
the headline: "Kim Jong-il's 'Music Politics' Aimed at Obama"

Afghanistan

Most of the ROK media gave front-and inside-page play to a report
quoting a high-ranking Pentagon official as telling ROK
correspondents in Washington on Dec. 13 (local time) that the U.S.
is grateful for the ROKG's contribution to the war in Afghanistan
but that Seoul should contribute more to the war-torn country. In
particular, conservative Chosun Ilbo noted that it was unusual for a
senior Defense Department official to openly ask the ROK for support
in Afghanistan, and quoted a diplomatic source in Washington as
commenting: "Since U.S. President-elect Barack Obama is giving
priority to the Afghan War over the Iraq War, the Defense Department
hopes that the ROK will reach a decision quickly, in time with
Obama's inauguration in January."


Opinions/Editorials

"Six-Party Process Reveals Its Fundamental Limitations"
(JoongAng Ilbo, December 13, 2008, Page 26)

"The biggest reason (for the collapse of the latest round of the

Six-Party Talks) is the Bush Administration's failure to grasp the
substance of North Korea's negotiating strategy, wavering between
hard-line and conciliatory policies on the country. Even though the
Six-Party Talks have produced some achievements, they are far from
progress in terms of the substantive goal of dismantling North
Korea's nuclear programs."

What the "Controversy over North Korea's Nuclear Status" Means
(Chosun Ilbo, December 15, 2008, Page 35)

By Acting Deputy Managing Editor Kang In-sun

Recently there has been controversy over North Korea's nuclear
status. The U.S. Defense Department sparked the controversy when it
issued a report last week listing North Korea as one of the
nuclear-weapon states in Asia. The ROK Foreign Ministry's response
was simple and clear. The Foreign Ministry said, "The U.S. position
is that North Korea is not a nuclear state. The U.S. said it would
take the necessary steps to correct it (the listing)." Foreign
Minister Yu Myung-hwan also told the National Assembly, "It was a
clear mistake by the U.S."

The U.S. stated, "As a matter of policy, we do not recognize North
Korea as a nuclear state." Intelligence agencies not only in the
ROK but also in other major nations such as the U.S. estimate that
North Korea has already manufactured several atomic bombs.
Nevertheless, the reason why they do not acknowledge the North as a
"nuclear state" is that the term itself changes the reality. There
are different grades of "nuclear status." While five nations,
including the U.S., the U.K., and China, are defined as nuclear
powers under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), India and
Pakistan are unofficially recognized as nuclear weapons states.

Everyone knows that North Korea is developing nuclear weapons, but
the international community does not accept the North as a nuclear
state. Recognizing the North as a nuclear state would make it
possible for the communist state to act as a "nation which has
nuclear weapons," not as a "nation which has a nuclear issue" in the
global community. In that case, North Korea's nuclear weapons would
be subject to supervision, not to removal or dismantlement any more.
Sanctions or international talks aimed at resolving the North
Korean nuclear issue would no longer be necessary. Then, we would
have to think about what defense system is needed to live next-door
to a nuclear-armed neighbor.

Because the situation will change rapidly like this, the Foreign
Ministry explains, the U.S. must not have described the North as a
nuclear state in a written document. While the controversy over
North Korea's nuclear status was arising, the U.S. National
Intelligence Council was also found to have described North Korea as
a nuclear weapon state in its report titled "Global Trends 2025: A
Transformed World." U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates also
said in an article in the latest edition of Foreign Affairs that
North Korea has produced several nuclear bombs. Taken all this
together, I wonder if any slight and delicate change is in the works
in the U.S. policy vis-`-vis North Korea's nuclear programs. This
might be a change in the U.S.'s perception of reality, although the
U.S. does not want to admit it.

It is ironic that the controversy arose shortly before the launch of
the Obama Administration and right after the failure in the
Six-Party Talks. I sincerely wish that this was a simple mistake by
a working-level official as the Foreign Ministry explained, and
therefore, it would disappear from reality as soon as it is deleted
from the report. My wish is all the more desperate as the U.S. has
a history of changing its stance on an issue like this without an
official announcement, as shown in the example of Pakistan, which
had been under sanctions for its s-e-c-r-e-t nuclear development
before suddenly becoming a U .S. ally after the September 11
terrorist attacks.


Obama's Way of Dealing with North Korea
(Hankook Ilbo, December 15, 2008, Page 39)

By Washington Correspondent Hwang Yu-suk

The Six-Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear issue ended without
any result. Observers offered various interpretations on the
failure, saying that the reason why the North adamantly objected to
allowing outside inspectors to take nuclear samples out of the
country for testing is either that Pyongyang judged that it would be
advantageous to deal with the Obama Administration or that Pyongyang
wanted to underscore the futility of the Six-Party Talks. This
analysis appears to be based on the belief that the Obama
Administration will be more active in dialogue with Pyongyang and is
more interested in bilateral talks than in a multilateral
framework.

Then the question becomes, will North Korea be able to gain more of
what it wants from the Obama Administration? Experts in Washington
have a different outlook. They say that although it is certain that
the Obama Administration will engage in active diplomacy, it does
not necessarily mean giving more carrots to Pyongyang. Although the
Obama Administration may be starkly different in "methodology" for
resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, it will apply strict
standards to the "outcome." The Obama Administration will be
lenient in methods but stricter in the goal.

An expert says that under the Obama Administration, it would rather
be more difficult for the North to win its removal from the
terrorism blacklist before the second phase of denuclearization
involving nuclear disablement is completed. Most experts share the
view that if the North thinks that the Obama Administration will be
easier to deal with than the Bush Administration, it is making a
miscalculation.

The ROKG also appears to think that the Obama Administration is a
little naove. After Mr. Obama won the presidential election,
numerous interpretations and speculations about his policy toward
the Korean Peninsula came out. Among them, the most
attention-grabbing outlook was that a relationship between the Obama
administration and Pyongyang will become close so rapidly that it
will see swift progress on the North Korean nuclear issue, bringing
a sea change to the normalization of diplomatic ties between
Washington and Pyongyang. Observers also raised concerns that while
the U.S. and North Korea lead the situation on the Korean Peninsula,
the ROK might be sidelined from the negotiating table.

It was not as if there was no evidence for this. Obama's key think
tank proposed sending a special envoy (to Pyongyang) within 100 days
of his inauguration. It is not wrong, either, to say that the
nomination of Sen. Hillary Clinton as the U.S. Secretary of State
will serve as a good opportunity to repeat an event like the
exchange visits of high-ranking officials of the U.S. and North
Korea in 2000 during the waning days of the Clinton Administration.

However, the Obama camp is confirming that this outlook is too
hasty. The fact that progress on the U.S.-North Korea relations
will be made in close consultation with the ROKG was also revealed
during the meeting in the U.S. between the ROK's parliamentary
delegation and the Obama camp. Obama's statement prior to the
presidential election that he can even meet with North Korean leader
Kim Jong-il is no longer heard. There is a huge difference between
presidential candidate Obama and President Obama. Furthermore,
Korean Peninsula affairs, including the North Korean nuclear issue,
take a low priority in the Obama Administration's foreign policy.

It was reported that Ri Gun, Director General of the American
Affairs Bureau of the North Korean Foreign Ministry, visited New
York last month, right after the election of Obama, and requested
that former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger be sent to Pyongyang
as a special envoy. This seems to show that North Korea also has
high expectations of the Obama Administration. There is nothing
wrong with having hope. However, it is worrisome that (Pyongyang)
may take the wrong direction based on unfounded expectations.


What's the Answer, Hill?
(JoongAng Ilbo, December 15, 2008, Page 31)

By Yeh Young-june, deputy political news editor

United States nuclear envoy Christopher R. Hill sat with three
Chinese citizens in a quiet restaurant in the back alleys of
Beijing. The conversation took place in June ahead of North Korea's
planned declaration of its nuclear program and demolition of a
cooling tower at Yongbyon.

The three were North Korea specialists. One of them recalls Hill
starting the discussion with an unexpected question: "Do you think

North Korea really intends to give up its nuclear ambition?" The man
has been the mastermind behind many breakthroughs in talks with
North Korea, and yet he remained doubtful on the most fundamental
question.

When talks between North Korea and its five dialogue partners ended
fruitless in December 2006 after Pyongyang tested a nuclear device,
Hill sent a messenger to the North Korean Embassy in Beijing. He
told North Korean diplomats to name the time and place, and he would
be there to talk.

His dexterity and boldness brought North Korea and the U.S. together
in Berlin the following month and eventually led to North Korea's
agreement in Feb. 13 to lay out concrete action plans to dismantle
its nuclear facilities.

To Hill, Japan was no easy partner as Tokyo had opposed the U.S.
plan of removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of
terrorism, because of the abduction of Japanese citizens decades
ago. Hill is said to have carried around photos of abducted
Japanese citizens to show them to his North Korean counterpart, Kim
Gye-gwan, to resolve the problem.

But informally, he is known to have said the train has left the
station, suggesting that the decision to remove North Korea from the
terror list cannot be retracted due to North Korea's failure to
address the abduction issue. Among Japanese diplomats, he later
earned the nickname "Kim Jong-Hill."

Hill's relations with officials in Seoul were amicable during the
Roh Moo-hyun administration, but one of Hill's aides say a shift in
Seoul's policy toward North Korea under the new administration gave
the U.S. diplomat a headache. At last week's six-party talks in
Beijing, Hill failed to cajole North Korea to agree to specific
steps to verify its nuclear activities. He expressed disappointment
over North Korea's refusal to put in writing what it has agreed to
do verbally.

But he should be no stranger to such backtracking from the North
Korean regime. The career diplomat's role in the Obama
administration is unknown, but we hope Hill walks away from his job
with an answer to the question posed to the Chinese specialists.
It's something we all need to know.

* This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.


Seoul and Washington Must See Eye to Eye on N. Korea
(Chosun Ilbo, December 13, 2008, Page 31)

The latest round of Six-Party Talks collapsed on Thursday. In the
U.S., the Bush Administration is on its way out, leaving many
questions about the North Korean nuclear issue unanswered: When will
the next round of Six-Party Talks be held? When will the "firm and
direct" diplomacy President-elect Barack Obama has promised kick in
with the North? And how will that influence the Six-Party Talks?

Robert Gates, who continues as U.S. Secretary of Defense in the
Obama Administration, in the January edition of Foreign Affairs says
North Korea has built "several bombs." While it does not identify
them expressly as "nuclear," it adds that Iran is seeking to join
the nuclear club. But if the "bombs" are shorthand for nuclear
bombs, as seems likely, the article would be in line with a Pentagon
report that includes North Korea along with China, Russia, India and
Pakistan among "nuclear powers" in the Pacific region.

The South Korean government has asked for an immediate correction of
the loaded term, but no change has been made. The central task, in
any case, should be changing not the statements but the perspective
of officials in the U.S. State Department. If the U.S. Secretary of
Defense suggests North Korea has nuclear weapons, the impression is
that the U.S. has accepted it as a nuclear power and is now seeking
ways to deal with it on those terms.

Neither Seoul nor Washington officially acknowledge North Korea's
nuclear test in October 2006 as an irrefutable demonstration that
Pyongyang has the bomb. When talking about the North Korean nuclear
issue, U.S. officials have been reserved in their statements,
stating only that North Korea "has the capacity" to build six to
eight nuclear warheads. They are being cautious with their
vocabulary because acknowledging North Korea as a nuclear power
could be seen as tacit acceptance of the provocations of the past 15
years.

With the collapse of the latest Six-Party Talks, the South Korean
and U.S. governments are talking about suspending a shipment of
450,000 tons of heavy oil, the remaining balance from 1 million tons
promised to the North in an Oct. 3, 2007 agreement. That stick may
be necessary if North Korea keeps refusing to allow sampling as part
of the nuclear verification process. Seoul and the incoming Obama
Administration will need to share the same road map for navigating
the North Korean nuclear issue. That must be the starting point for
dealing with the matter successfully.

* This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.


New Momentum for Six-Party Talks
(Hankyoreh Shinmun, December 13, 2008, Page 27)

The Six-Party head of delegation talks in Beijing came to an end
after four days of meetings in which negotiators failed to adopt a
verification protocol on North Korea's nuclear programs. This is
disappointing, even considering the situation created by the change
of administrations in the United States. The talks are going to be
at a stalemate for the time being.

It is North Korea that has the most responsibility to bear for the
fact that the talks produced no results. Its delegation repeatedly
said that it could not accept the collection of samples, saying that
would be exposing its nuclear capabilities in a situation in which
there is no trust, all the while also claiming the issue is one of
"sovereignty" and "national security." Its attitude makes no sense.
Verification is all about determining what the North's nuclear
capabilities are, and agreeing on a more developed verification plan
would build a lot more confidence. If, on the other hand, the North
continues to do what it did this time, which was to act as if it
still has something to hide about its nuclear capabilities, that
(type of activity) is not going to allow for the confidence
essential to making progress at the Six-Party Talks.

It appears to be thinking that it should hold on to the verification
issue as a card to play against the incoming administration of U.S.
President-elect Barack Obama. There is, of course, some possibility
that aspects of Pyongyang's relationship with Washington could
change when Obama is inaugurated, since he has pledged to have
"package negotiations" and direct, high-level talks. But there is
clearly going to be no resolution to the matter of verification
without agreement on sample collection, no matter what the
situation. If the North wants more meaningful dialogue with the
Obama Administration, the best thing it could do would be to show
receptiveness towards the adoption of a verification protocol, and
now would not be too late.

South Korea deserves criticism for its behavior. Our delegation
gave up being the "creative mediator" it had been previously and
froze the mood at the talks by making its strategy one of being
high-handed with the Northerners. A fine example of this would be
when Seoul's top delegate to the talks, Kim Sook, openly said the
South is going to link the adoption of a verification protocol to
energy and economic aid. Seoul needs to be more proactive than
anyone about resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, but it has
come down to South Korea being called a bystander and an
obstructionist at the talks, just like Japan.

The countries party to the Six-Party Talks are now in a position in
which they have to find a way to inject new momentum into the
process. For starters, disablement and aid need to proceed without
any hitches, so as to bring closure to the second phase of the
process. Talk in some quarters about reconsidering aid will only
exacerbate the situation. At the same time, we need to find ways to
approach the next phase, including verification and then
denuclearization, in an effective manner. One way to do that would
be for the Seoul government to change its hard-line North Korea
policies in a way that promotes smooth going for inter-Korean
relations and the Six-Party Talks.

* This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.

Zaytun Unit Enhanced the ROK's Standing
(Hankook Ilbo, December 15, 2008, Page 39)

The ROK's Zaytun Unit in northern Iraq's Irbil area has successfully
concluded four years and three months of its military operations and
will return home on December 20. Zaytun troops were excellent
diplomats that enhanced the ROK's national standing another notch.
Although they were dispatched due to the ROK's alliance with the
U.S., they were highly praised for successful civilian operations,
including providing medical assistance, running technical education
centers, and building and renovating various facilities. The fact
that locals even called the Zaytun Unit "another present from God"
clearly shows how much the troops have accomplished in the war-torn
country.

In order to make the service of youths fruitful, we should analyze
the process of sending troops to Iraq and its results from many
different angles. We should assess cool-headedly what we gained and
lost by joining the "unjustified war," which the U.S. unilaterally
conducted without UN approval, on the grounds of an alliance with
the U.S. In particular, we need to tighten up diplomatic strategies
in case we are placed in a similar dilemma again. We should also
overhaul the system of making a decision on foreign policy issues so
that we can minimize a national division like the one that appeared
when Seoul decided to extend the presence of the Zaytun Unit in
Iraq.

Above all, we, as the world's 13th largest economy, should seek ways
to contribute to world peace and security. By concluding the
long-running issue of organizing a standing force for UN
Peacekeeping operations, we should also show the world that we are
making every effort as a responsible member of the international
community.


Features

Nuke Talks' Collapse Strikes Blow to Bush Administration
(Dong-a Ilbo, December 13, 2008, Page 8)

By Washington Correspondent Ha Tae-won, Reporter Cho Soo-jin from
Beijing, and Tokyo Correspondent Suh Young-ah

In the wake of the collapse of the Six-Party Talks on North Korea's
nuclear disarmament Thursday, a U.S. diplomatic source said
yesterday, "Pyongyang is using its leverage from its `verification
protocol` and has no reason to give gifts to U.S. President George
W. Bush, who is now called a 'broken duck,' not a lame duck."

Chief U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill headed back to Washington
empty handed after failing to put in writing verification methods
the North verbally agreed to when he visited Pyongyang in October.

- Disappointed White House

State Department Sean McCormack, in a news briefing, stressed the
principle of "action for action" on which the talks have operated
since August 2003. "This process is not going to move forward
beyond this point without a verification protocol being agreed
upon," he said.

His comments signal the suspension of a million tons of fuel oil or
equivalent energy aid pledged to the North by the five other parties
to the talks in return for the disablement of Pyongyang's main
nuclear facility in Yongbyon.

Echoing McCormack's comments, White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino
said Washington will reconsider the action-for-action principle,
adding, "One of the things people have in mind in this regard is the
provision of energy aid."

Four of the six countries have provided 60 percent of the promised
aid. The United States has delivered 200,000 tons of heavy fuel
oil, South Korea 150,000 tons and Russia and China 100,000 tons
each. Russia was scheduled to send an additional 50,000 tons of oil
to the North.

After wrapping up the talks Thursday, Seoul's top negotiator Kim
Sook implied a halt to energy assistance, saying, "Energy aid to
North Korea will continue but we don't know when it will be
complete."

After negotiators failed to produce a deal on the verification,
South Korean delegates, who had tried to link the agreement on
verification protocol to energy aid from the first day of the talks,
did not make official the already agreed-upon timetable on energy
provision to be completed by March next year.

- Fate of the talks unclear

Considering the several months needed for the incoming Obama
Administration to form the North Korea team after its inauguration
Jan. 20, chances are that the Six-Party Talks will remain deadlocked
until March or April.

With the economic crisis serving as the top priority of the new U.S.
administration and Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East
peace deal taking precedence over North Korea, the denuclearization
of Pyongyang will be consigned to oblivion, said Michael O4Hanlon, a
senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

After the collapse of the talks, critics blasted the Bush
Administration's policy shift toward the North. Michael J. Green,
former senior adviser for Asian issues at the National Security
Council, said, "The Bush Administration erred in removing North
Korea from the list without extracting a more concrete step on
verification. We now know the North Koreans tricked us."

- Change in South Korea's stance

The Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun said, "South Korea clearly sided
with the United States and Japan, which drew attention from many."

"This seems to reflect the conservative Lee Myung-bak
Administration's stance. This is in stark contrast to the previous
Roh Moo-hyun Administration, which sought a mediating role between
North Korea and the United States and Japan."

Yomiuri also said, "In trilateral talks among top negotiators from
South Korea, the United States and Japan in Tokyo early this month,
Seoul also joined forces with Tokyo in demanding that Washington
make corrections on taking samples in the draft verification
agreement reached between Washington and Pyongyang."

The daily, however, questioned if the close cooperation among the
three allies can last under the Obama Administration.

* This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.

Six-Party Nations Disagree Over Fuel Aid to N. Korea
(Chosun Ilbo, December 15, 2008, Page 6)

By Reporter Lim Min-hyuk

Since the latest round of Six-Party Talks on producing a North
Korean nuclear verification protocol ruptured in Beijing, confusion
has arisen over whether to continue fuel aid to the North.

U.S. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack last Friday said
there would be no more shipments unless a verification protocol had
been reached, and the other Six-Party nations agreed to it. But
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Borodavkin on Saturday issued
a statement saying, "Russia has never given consent to the
suspension of heavy oil shipments. We will continue delivering fuel
to North Korea." Meanwhile, upon leaving Beijing on Saturday, chief
North Korean nuclear negotiator Kim Kye-gwan warned, "If the heavy
oil delivery is suspended, we'll moderate the pace of the nuclear
disablement process."

All this suggests that fuel has emerged as the largest variable that
could determine the consequence of the North Korean nuclear issue
for the time being.

The five remaining Six-Party nations had agreed to deliver economic
and energy aid equivalent to 1 million tons of oil in return for
North Korea's disablement and its declaration of nuclear programs
and stockpiles. As of now, about 450,000 tons of oil is waiting to
be delivered, an amount worth approximately W280 billion
(US$1=W1,377) or 10 percent of North Korea's annual foreign currency
income.

Under circumstances by which the U.S. has already struck the North
from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, the oil delivery
remains one of its only points of "leverage over North Korea."

The disagreement between the Six-Party nations originates from their
differing interpretations of the Oct. 3, 2007 denuclearization
agreement - whether oil should be delivered only in return for
disablement or whether it should be delivered in return for
completion of phase two of the denuclearization process: including a
verification protocol. At the latest round of talks, the ROK
delegation took the initiative to link the "verification with the
heavy oil delivery." However, participating nations failed to reach
a clear conclusion. The ROK's suggestion was also ignored in the
chairman's statement.

Apparently due to this, the ROK has stepped away from its previous
hard-line stance and is taking an equivocal stance. An ROKG
official said on December 14, "The five parties have not agreed to
suspend the provision of heavy fuel oil, but they did not set a
specific time for ending the aid, either. As to whether to continue
fuel oil to the North, each nation can make its own decision."

* We have compared the English version on the website with the
Korean version and added the last paragraph to make them identical.


N. Korea Socks It to Bush but Keeps Mum on Obama
(Chosun Ilbo, December 15, 2008, Page 6)

By Reporter Ahn Yong-hyun

North Korea is putting out almost daily diatribes against the
outgoing Bush Administration while keeping a discreet silence about
President-elect Barack Obama, evidently still hedging its bets about
the next U.S. government.

When Washington hinted at halting energy aid to North Korea
immediately after the collapse of Six-Party Talks on
denuclearization last week, the official Rodong Shinmun daily on
Saturday said the best thing for the Bush Administration was to
"shut up and leave the White House in silence; now that is all there
is left for it to do." It said all the Bush government has done
over the last eight years "is create trouble in the world, commit
wrongdoings in its every endeavor, and bring about disaster."

However, in regards to the verification protocol for its nuclear
declaration, over which the talks collapsed and which the next U.S.
government will now have to deal with, the North drew a veil. After
the Six-Party Talks ended, the official (North) Korean Central News
Agency said nothing about the verification process, giving the
impression that the talks ended fruitfully and saying the six
countries agreed to complete delivery of 100 tons of heavy oil as
part-reward for the denuclearization process. Nor did the North
blame the U.S. for the rupture of negotiations. A South Korean
government official said, "It seems North Korea doesn't want to make
a negative impression on the new U.S. president right from the
start."

On the day Barack Obama won the U.S. presidential election, North
Korea sent its Foreign Ministry's America chief Ri Gun to the U.S.
and had him establish contacts with officials in the Obama's camp.
It has also so far made no negative comments about Obama. Baek
Seung-joo, of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, said, "North
Korea seems to be cautiously studying the Obama Administration
before the real negotiations on nuclear weapons begins."

* This is a translation provided by the newspaper, and it is
identical to the Korean version.


Stephens

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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