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Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - North Korea Missile Tests

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A
PARIS - Thursday, July 06, 2006


North Korea Missile Tests


While the victory of France over Portugal in the World Cup semi
finals dominates the majority of today's headlines, the North Korean
missile tests are the topic of a number of editorials and analyses.

Francois Sergent in left-of-center Liberation notes that President
Bush is "spinning around the Axis of Evil." Sergent quotes Henry
Kissinger, who said that the format of current negotiations with
Iran... and with North Korea is "highly dysfunctional" enabling the
two countries to "play off of each other." On state-run France 2's
evening newscast the reporter said that the North Korean missile
tests are "intentionally political," that North Korea is pushing to
be treated like Iran and that while North Korea is "used to testing
the limits of the international community," this is "a dangerous
game in which Kim Jong Il could get burned." (See Part C)

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Press reports on the North Korean tests agree that they serve to
strengthen the military and political alliance between the U.S. and
Japan. "This alliance is summed up in the Security Treaty signed by
the two countries some fifty years ago: 'Any country that attacks
Japan, attacks, de facto, the U.S.'" notes left-of-center
Liberation's correspondent in Tokyo.

In right-of-center Le Figaro a full page of op-eds is devoted to
Iran. Ramin Parham, Iranian thinker and president of the
Franco-Iranian Committee for Democracy in Iran, writes that "faced
with theocratic fanaticism, diplomacy is pointless." Seyed Ali
Moujani, Charg d'Affaires at the Iranian embassy in Paris, however,
insists that "Iran has the right to nuclear technology." Nicole
Gnesotto, Director of the European Union Institute for Security
Studies, says that the "Iranian Crisis is a Test for Europe's
Security Policies." "The shift in the American position, agreeing in
principal to direct talks after over 25 years of diplomatic silence,
is a major victory with regard to Europe's determination and
strategy... Of course we must remain extremely cautious concerning
the final outcome of the Iranian crisis... but the latest steps
taken are decisive... They show that when Europe is united it can
have real influence, in particular on its American partner. Divided,
as Europe was at the outset of the Iraqi conflict, it simply does
not count. In a world that must become by definition, multi-polar...
strengthening the EU's influence on each of the world's strategic
poles should be Europe's only objective."

Left-of-center Le Monde's front page says that: "Baghdad is Under
the Rule of Warlords and Islamists." A two-page article by the
daily's correspondent in Baghdad, Patrice Claude, paints a grim
picture of day-to-day life in Iraq with violence, assassinations,
and intimidation running rife. Claude says that "when the virus of
fanaticism infects youths who are pathologically ignorant and often
illiterate it becomes lethal."

Catholic La Croix gives a brief account of the six French nationals
captured by the U.S. in Afghanistan. Their trial began in Paris
yesterday. All six men traveled to Afghanistan through London-based
clandestine networks. Once in Afghanistan, they had direct links to
al-Qaeda either through enrollment in Koranic schools or by training
at military camps. A French diplomatic telegram published in
left-of-center Liberation yesterday referred to intelligence agents
who conducted interviews with the suspects at least twice while at
Guantanamo. Defense lawyers are claiming that these interviews
violated their clients' rights. France 3 television last night
aired a report in which one defense lawyer said that the entire
trial is "underhanded." The defense has asked for the case to be
thrown out and for France to be sentenced by the European Court.
The journalist pointed out the irony in the fact that the telegram
stressed the "excellent cooperation of French intelligence with the
Americans at Guantanamo" while the French government was openly
denouncing the illegality of the detention center. An editorial in
regional Les Dernieres Nouvelles d'Alsace says that "this
contradiction could be very damaging for the image of France on the
other side of the Atlantic."
North Korea Missile Tests

"Diplomacy on the Edge of the Abyss"
Philippe Pons pens an analysis in left-of-center Le Monde (07/06):
"Until now Pyongyang's regime has shown that it is much less
unpredictable than thought and that it is skillfully playing the few
cards that it still has in hand... From the point of view of the
North Koreans, the U.S. nuclear agreement with India and the ongoing
negotiations with Iran (which possesses a much less advanced nuclear
program than North Korea) are proof of the little regard that
Washington has for Pyongyang... North Korea may think that the time
has come to open a new front, or at least create a diversion while
Washington remains mired in the Iraqi conflict and is condemned to
keep waiting in its tug-of-war with Teheran. From Pyongyang's point
of view, Washington today is being forced to negotiate with the 'bad
guys' (Iranians, Iraqi insurgents...). But the surprise may come
from China, to what point will the Chinese put up with North Korea's
provocations...? Provocations which will also reinforce the
U.S.-Japanese military alliance - and it should be noted that Japan
is inclined to adopt a hard line stance vis-`-vis North Korea. The
U.S., for its part, is becoming increasingly impatient ... but is at
an impasse, Democrats and Republicans alike are urging George W.
Bush to change tactics. The American wait-and-see attitude, along
with sanctions and arm waving have proved fruitless with North Korea
but the U.S. continues to refuse direct dialogue... After including
North Korea in the 'axis of evil' with Iran and Saddam Hussein's
Iraq, Washington, today, seems to be minimizing the threat level
that North Korea represents... a reticence that could indicate a
certain degree of embarrassment."

"Iran - North Korea: The Axis of Blackmail"
Stephane Marchand editorializes in right-of-center Le Figaro
(07/06): "The concert of protestations from the international
community is music to Pyongyang's ears. Irritated since September
2005 by the stalemate of the six-way negotiations on the subject of
his nuclear program, Kim Jong Il is trying to win back the upper
hand with regard to the U.S. in order to establish a direct dialogue
with the superpower... To be able to exist on the international
scene, North Korea, which has a disastrous economic situation...
only possesses two things with which to scare: its rudimentary
nuclear weapons... and the missiles that it builds and exports. Over
the course of the last ten years the country has consummately
wielded these two instruments of blackmail. This blackmail, that
some would call deterrence, has been fruitful. Condoleezza Rice...
implicitly promised last year that he U.S. would not engage in
military strikes against North Korea. This military and diplomatic
toing and froing is being closely watched in the Middle East, where
the invasion of Iraq proved one thing: it is better to have real
weapons of mass destruction if one is on Washington's blacklist...
On the 'Axis of Blackmail" the Islamic Republic and the Communist
dictatorship mutually copy one another... Both of them are intent on
wreaking havoc, biding their time and using the threat of the bomb
to protect their regimes."

"Washington Seeking Not to Fall Into a Trap
Washington correspondent Philippe Gelie writes in right-of-center Le
Figaro: "If Kim Jong Il wanted to steal Iranian president
Ahmadinejad's thunder by becoming the lead trouble maker in the
world, he succeeded pretty well. With a salvo of missiles launched
on the same day as the take-off of the shuttle Discovery, the day
the U.S. observed July 4 - when Americans had their eyes riveted to
the sky to watch the fireworks, and while George Bush was
celebrating his 60th birthday (which is today) with 150 guests
invited in Washington, the least one can say is that the
'provocation' did not go unnoticed. But if it was intended to
destabilize the American Administration it definitely failed...
Immediately the White House reacted in a calibrated way condemning
Pyongyang's actions and insisting on a diploma tic solution to the
"Beijing - Pyongyang: The Temptation to Let Go"
Alexandre Adler in right-of-center Le Figaro (07/06): "The only
thing that is saving North Korea right now is the fact that the U.S.
is entirely focalized on the Middle East... Americans see only the
benefits of putting off until later a confrontation with North

"Bogged Down"
In left-of-center Liberation the editorial by Antoine de Gaudemar
(07/06): "For the time being George W. Bush is stalling by putting
the emphasis on diplomacy as opposed to the use of force, a use of
force that the hawks in the Administration would like to see used
against North Korea. If truth be told, President Bush does not
really have a choice. He is mired down in Iraq and at odds with
Russia and China... Despite the fundamental importance of the
non-proliferation treaty, the international community seems to be
incapable of blocking the road to nuclear weapons... and applies a
double standard when it allows a country like India to acquire the

Communist l'Humanite's editorial by Maurice Ulrich: (07/06): "Are
the missile tests proof of the absurd blindness of a paranoid and
megalomaniac power or a last ditch attempt to get the attention of
the international community? The answer is: perhaps both. For years
North Korea has been dangerously shilly-shallying with the U.S. to
get economic aid and diplomatic recognition... The official
reactions of world leaders do not tell the whole story. Nuclear
powers, France among them, continue to preach to a dozen other
countries 'do as I say, not as I do.' The club of nuclear powers is
a very closed one that is, not surprisingly, hostile to general
nuclear disarmament. Remember just a few months ago President Chirac
made the case for reinforcing France's powers of deterrence... And
while France condemns the tests it should also plead for dialogue,
for transparency for a stronger relationship between the UN and the
international community, and not just with the members of the
'club.'" STAPLETON

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