Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; September 8, 2009

DE RUEHUL #1436/01 2510739
O 080739Z SEP 09



E.O. 12958: N/A


Chosun Ilbo, Hankook Ilbo, Segye Ilbo, Seoul Shinmun
Pyongyang Does Not Apologize for ROK Casualties Caused by Its Dam

JoongAng Ilbo
34 Heads of Local Governments Support Mergers
with Other Cities or Counties

Dong-a Ilbo
Government Agencies Out of Step over "Green Projects"

Hankyoreh Shinmun
Peace Forum Launched to Continue Engagement Policy
toward Pyongyang


In response to the ROK's demand for an explanation for the sudden
rise in water level along the Imjin River that has claimed at least
three ROK lives so far, North Korea admitted Monday that it released
water from one of its dams after flash flooding occurred along the
river on Sunday. Seoul still expressed regret, saying that the
North did not mention the casualties caused by the unannounced
discharge, adding that it would seek an inter-Korean accord to
prevent a recurrence. (All)

Chairman of the Korea International Trade Association Sakong Il, who
also heads the G-20 Summit Korea Coordination Committee, will visit
the U.S. from September 8-10 as a special envoy of President Lee
Myung-bak to prepare for the G20 summit. (Chosun)

The Barack Obama and George W. Bush Administrations are the same in
that they intend to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue within a
multilateral framework and place importance on a nuclear
non-proliferation policy, but the Obama Administration departs from
the Bush Administration by seeking a reduction of its own nuclear
stockpile and a comprehensive package deal with North Korea.


The World Food Programme said in its report, which recently appeared
in a magazine published by the ROK's Korea Development Institute,
that a third of North Korean women and young children are
malnourished and the North will run short of food by almost 1.8
million tons this year. (Hankyoreh, Seoul)

North Korean denuclearization - Ambassador Bosworth's trip

Conservative Dong-a Ilbo said in its inside-page feature story that
the Barack Obama and George W. Bush Administrations are the same in
that they intend to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue within a
multilateral framework and give importance to nuclear
non-proliferation policy, but the Obama Administration makes a
departure from the Bush Administration by seeking a reduction of its
own nuclear stockpile and a comprehensive package deal with North

On their Monday editions, right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo and moderate
Hankook Ilbo quoted Ambassador Bosworth as saying in an apparent
response to Pyongyang's call for direct dialogue with the U.S., that
there is no fundamental change in North Korea's attitude and,

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therefore, this is not the time to start a dialogue with North
Korea. He was quoted further as saying that even if (the United
States has) a bilateral dialogue with the North, it will be held
within the context of the Six-Party Talks. Joongang Ilbo reported
that through consultations with Ambassador Bosworth, the ROK and the
U.S. coordinated their stances to seek a two-track approach of
sanctions and dialogue in dealing with the North. Hankyoreh Shinmun
quoted a high-ranking ROKG official as saying, "We are not currently
considering a visit by Ambassador Bosworth to North Korea."

JoongAng Ilbo reported on Monday that the Washington-based Institute
for Science and International Security (ISIS) said a black and white
satellite image of the Yongbyon nuclear facility showed key parts of
the reactor still in disrepair. The daily also replayed a Christian
Science Monitor story saying that North Korea's uranium claim
"appears as a grab for the attention of the U.S. and other major

In reference to North Korea's claim that it has entered the final
phase of uranium enrichment, Chosun Ilbo reported on Saturday that
North Korea has moved from "begging (for dialogue) to threatening."

JoongAng Ilbo reported on Monday that Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a ranking
U.S. Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called for
the re-designation of North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism,
saying that Washington's North Korea policy has failed.


Moderate Hankook Ilbo reported that there is discord among Western
troop-contributing nations over Afghan policies. While the U.S.
plans to deploy additional troops to Afghanistan, the U.K, Germany,
and France recently said that an international conference would be
held this year to discuss the transfer of security control to the
Afghan government, which can be interpreted as the three nations'
desire to "wash their hands of" Afghanistan.

JoongAng Ilbo and Hankook Ilbo reported on Monday that with a large
number of civilian casualties in a NATO airstrike, Obama is in a
difficult position regarding a new Afghan strategy.

Under the headline, "Will Russia Join Hands with the U.S. in Obama's
War?" Hankyoreh Shinmun reported in its Monday edition that Russia
made clear its intention to join Western allied forces in the war in
Afghanistan, and the U.S. and NATO responded positively to it.


Chosun Ilbo, in its September 7 edition, quoted Japanese media
reports as saying that although Japan's Prime Minister-elect Yukio
Hatoyama picked Katsuya Okada, who has stressed a "balance" in
foreign policy, instead of focusing on the U.S. , to be foreign
minister, there will be no big change in pending issues, including
the redeployment of U.S. troops in Japan, for the time being.


Ilbo, September 5, 2009, page 27)

"The international community, including the UN, must consistently
maintain its position that it will strengthen sanctions in response
to North Korea's threat. Cooperation between the ROK and the U.S.
should be, of course, watertight... The two nations should remind
the North that the only solution (to the current standoff) is for
the North to return to the Six-Party Talks and take a path toward
denuclearization. They also need to clearly warn Pyongyang that
additional provocations will only ratchet up sanctions against the
North. China should now take specific actions so that the North
will change its attitude."

SEOUL 00001436 003 OF 008

(Chosun Ilbo, September 5, 2009, page 35)

Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (09/05): "It is more
realistic to think that the North Korean nuclear issue does not
depend on the outcome of the Six-Party Talks or U.S.-North Korea
dialogue but on (the survival of) the North Korean regime. To date,
the international community has tried to ignore a pessimistic view
that Pyongyang will never give up its nuclear ambitions as long as
it survives. However, a moment of truth will arrive some day, and
then, everyone will have to face up to the reality... While managing
the situation regarding the North with pressure and dialogue, we
should prepare for the moment that will determine the fate of the
Korean Peninsula."

(JoongAng Ilbo, September 5, 2009, page 34: Excerpts)

North Korea has challenged international society once again. When
the United Nations Security Council asked North Korea to explain why
it violated UN resolutions, it did not present any excuses.
Instead, it resorted to provocative language, increasing a nuclear

Pyongyang has revealed that tests to make weapons using plutonium
and uranium were successful and has made clear that it will face any
sanctions with "strengthened nuclear control." The attitude of
North Korea is ridiculous. Its actions are like a wild child waving
a weapon, cutting himself and creating a scene in the marketplace.

It is a shame because the North Korean people would not have to
starve anymore if the government thought about how it could (improve
living conditions) with the budget that is going into developing
nuclear weapons.

It appears as if North Korea's actions are based on its own
calculations. North Korea said it has linked its nuclear armament
to what it regards as a hostile North Korea policy pursued by United
States. It also said the United States should meet the demands of
North Korea at negotiations to advance denuclearization of the
Korean Peninsula and the rest of the world.

The unique point about the recent incident is that North Korea went
further than just the Korean Peninsula and mentioned "world
denuclearization." The claim was aimed at U.S. President Barack
Obama, who is pursuing international denuclearization. Success of
the uranium tests was mentioned as a subtle threat, showing it could
pursue the development of uranium nuclear weapons, which are more
difficult to observe and trace than plutonium nuclear weapons.

North Korea may have (announced that it has) new uranium nuclear
developments, but its actions are not new. It says it is not
against denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula or the world, but
s-e-c-r-e-t-l-y it has no intention of giving up its nuclear
weapons. The fact that North Korea has always found an excuse for
nuclear armament and has actively pursued such a program for almost
20 years proves this point.

If we take our eyes off the ball, tensions could rapidly rise on the
Korean Peninsula. We need to show that we will always stand firm
and we need to demand evidence that the North is genuine about

Neglecting North Korean nuclear armament is likely to turn into a
bigger problem for the ROK and international society. The only
solution is for North Korea to quit its nuclear weapons program
through compromise, a concept the communist country is not familiar
with, but should be.

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

SEOUL 00001436 004 OF 008

(Hankyoreh Shinmun, September 5, 2009, page 23)

North Korea sent a letter to the United Nations Security Council
(UNSC) on Friday in which it criticized international sanctions and
announced its intentions to improve its nuclear capabilities.
Although it cannot be interpreted as a new provocation, we feel
regret over any possible negative effects it may have on resuming
negotiations. We are especially concerned about the effect of North
Korea's declaration, "We are in the last stages of uranium

This letter was a response to the UNSC's request for an explanation
about the fact that a North Korean ship was detained by the United
Arab Emirates because of weapons on board. In this letter, North
Korea fails to recognize UNSC resolutions related to sanctions.
Moreover, North Korea focuses on direct negotiations with the U.S.
by saying, "The denuclearization of the Korea Peninsula is closely
related to the U.S.'s nuclear policy on the Korean Peninsula." This
can be interpreted to mean that North Korea has made it clear that
it will counter sanctions by improving its nuclear capability, but
hopes for dialogue with the U.S. The attitude of the letter is in
line with its recent behavior to improve the environment for
negotiations with the ROK and the U.S.

There is no precedent for evaluating North Korea's recent moves,
including the content of this letter, either pessimistically or
optimistically. In addition, we believe no country thinks that the
matter can be solved by sanctions alone, and the resumption of
negotiations regarding the nuclear issue is not going to be easy.
As a result, there seems to be no other way but to find a new
framework for negotiations and talks while sanctions are in place.
During this process, every country involved should restrain from
provoking each other.

What is critical now is the creation of an effective negotiation
framework in order to completely resolve the nuclear issue while
controlling the factors (that might lead to) conflict. The U.S. and
China talks have demonstrated these efforts, and the visit of U.S.
Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth to
Seoul on Saturday can be seen as related (to these efforts to create
a negotiation framework.)

The problem facing us now is speed and depth. It has been two
months since the U.S. appointed Kurt Campbell as the Assistant
Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and his
announcement that preparations of a "comprehensive package" for
North Korea were underway.

Matters could proceed on a positive note once dialogue begins,
however, further delay could have a negative effect. Every
participating country should work with this in mind and stop waiting
for a better environment to emerge. The ROKG should be making an
effort to speed up dialogue as a matter of the highest priority.

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


(JoongAng Ilbo, September 7, 2009, page10: Excerpts)

By Reporter Ye Yeoung-june

Through consultations with U.S. Special Representative for North
Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth, the ROK and the U.S. coordinated
their positions to seek a two-track approach of sanctions and
dialogue in dealing with the North. The two-track approach is
fundamentally different from the ones in the past in that the U.S.

SEOUL 00001436 005 OF 008

will not lift sanctions even if it engages in talks with the North.
An ROKG official said that, in the past, sanctions became futile
when talks began with North Korea. There was a continuous pattern
in which North Korea initiated talks at its will and halted them,
citing excuses. This led to North Korea buying time to continue its
nuclear development.

The two-track approach also calls for seeking an ultimate solution
through negotiation while leaving the door of dialogue open.

This will remain as a guiding principle as long as the ROK and the
U.S. want to solve the North Korean nuclear issue diplomatically.
However, for the present, the ROK and the U.S. share the view that
they should not yet hastily accept North Korea's overtures for talks
even though (North Korea) expressed a keen interest (in having the
talks) by making a flurry of conciliatory moves. The ROK and the
U.S. are not rejecting Pyongyang's suggestion of talks but are
urging North Korea to demonstrate its seriousness first.

An ROKG official said that the ROK and the U.S. have not laid out
any definite and concrete conditions for resuming talks but the
conditions will be set in a flexible manner. But the one
(condition) that has been consistently reiterated by both countries
is that North Korea should return to the Six-Party Talks.

(JoongAng Daily, September 7, 2009)

By Reporter Yoo Jee-ho

The U.S. Special Representative for North Korea (Policy) believes
Pyongyang hasn't fundamentally changed, despite its recent
conciliatory moves, and that denuclearization of the Korean
Peninsula remains a goal for Washington and its dialogue partners at
the Six-Party table.

Stephen Bosworth, who wrapped up his three-day stay in Seoul
yesterday, also said the United States would have bilateral talks
with North Korea only within the Six-Party framework.

Bosworth, who met with ROK Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan and chief
nuclear envoy Wi Sung-lac over the weekend, said he was "pleased"
with the level of agreement and coordination between Washington and
Seoul, and said, "We are agreed entirely that denuclearization,
complete and verifiable, of the Korean peninsula remains our core
interest in engagement with the North Koreans."

Bosworth, former U.S. Ambassador to the ROK, added the United States
and its partners "remain committed to the Six-Party process."

"As we've indicated in the past, we're prepared to engage
bilaterally as well with the North Koreans, but only in the context
of the Six-Party process," Bosworth added.

The diplomat also noted that there has not been any fundamental
change on North Korea's part, despite the recent release of the two
American journalists from Pyongyang's detention.

"Our primary interest remains the denuclearization of the Korean
Peninsula," Bosworth said, "and we continue to look for
opportunities to reinitiate this process."

Bosworth arrived in Seoul on Friday, the same day North Korea
announced that its uranium enrichment program for nuclear weapons
development was in its final phase. Bosworth called the nuclear
program "a subject of concern" and added the issue "would have to be
addressed if we are going to deal comprehensively with the
denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."

"Clearly, it is another manifestation of the problems posed by North
Korea's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons," he said. "This is not
the first we've heard of (uranium enrichment). It may not be the

SEOUL 00001436 006 OF 008

An ROK source with knowledge of Bosworth's meeting with Wi said
yesterday that the two diplomats agreed that North Korea hasn't
changed its position on possessing nuclear weapons and that the
United States and the ROK would continue to pursue both sanctions
and dialogue in dealing with the nuclear standoff.

"This sort of approach is something that will take a while to be
effective," the source said. "North Korea may have made some
concessions of late, but in areas other than nuclear weapons. The
goal is to try to persuade North Korea to make some conciliatory
moves in nuclear weapons, too."

Russia is prepared to join the ROK and the United States in
pressuring North Korea to return to the Six-Party setting, according
to a Moscow news report.

"Russia is ready to continue working to reach the common goal for
the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula ... and the creation of
conditions for the stable socio-economic development of all the
countries in the region," Alexei Borodavkin, Russia's top nuclear
representative, told Interfax news agency. "These goals should be
reached through negotiations with the participation of the six
nations," he added, referring to Russia, the United States, China,
Japan and the two Koreas.


(Hankyoreh Shinmun, September 7, 2009, page 2)

By Reporter Lee Je-hoon

While U.S. and S. Korea look for stronger signs of North Korea's
will to denuclearize, Bosworth leaves open the possibility of a
visit to Pyongyang and bilateral North Korea-U.S. talks.

Stephen Bosworth, U.S. Special Representative for North Korea
Policy, said Sunday that while North Korea's freeing of two U.S.
journalists was a welcome development, he believes there has been no
fundamental change in North Korea's attitude concerning

During a press conference with reporters at the Lotte Hotel in
Sogong-dong, Seoul, Bosworth said that the U.S. and the ROK agree
that the core issue is the complete and verifiable denuclearization
of the Korean Peninsula, and that the nuclear issue requires a
multilateral solution. He also added that signs of North Korea's
continuing nuclear program, including highly enriched uranium (HEU),
are cause for worry, and that the U.S. would deal with the issue in
a comprehensive way. He stressed that he has been satisfied with
the level of cooperation with the ROK and other partners in
executing United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1874,
which calls for the inspection of cargo vessels to and from North
Korea if states have "reasonable grounds" to believe they contain
prohibited items.

A high-ranking ROK official who spoke with Bosworth also said that
while North Korea's recently moves appear to be conciliatory, since
North Korea has revealed that it continues to make progress in
developing their nuclear capabilities, there does not appear to be a
fundamental change in its attitude. The official also said the ROK
has decided to continue working closely with relevant nations to
further the goal of bringing North Korea back to the Six-Party

These statements from both Bosworth and the ROK government official
suggests that, while North Korea has recently seemed open to a
dialogue with the U.S. and the ROK, Washington and Seoul do not
believe there has been a meaningful change concerning Pyongyang's
will to denuclearize. The statements also suggest a feeling that
now is not the time to change the key strategy of the "two track"
policy promoting both simultaneous dialogue and sanctions based on
UNSC Resolution 1874. The high-ranking ROK official's comments

SEOUL 00001436 007 OF 008

underscore (the point) that the Lee Administration's North Korea
policy has changed.

The ROK and the U.S. also reportedly discussed a response to
Pyongyang's invitation to Bosworth to North Korea. A high-ranking
ROK official says although Bosworth is not currently thinking of
visiting North Korea, if conditions materialize where such a visit
would aid the situation, a trip is always possible rather than
sending North Korea the wrong signal.

The official added that conditions must progress further for such
bilateral North Korea-U.S. talks to take place. Meanwhile, Bosworth
left open the possibility of a visit to North Korea and bilateral
North Korea-U.S. talks, and emphasized that such a visit is not
immediately possible. Attention is now focusing on North Korea's

Bosworth arrived in the ROK on Friday and met with Foreign Minister
Yu Myung-hwan, Unification Minister Hyun In-taek and Wi Sung-lac,
Six-Party Talks chief negotiator.

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

(Hankyoreh Shinmun, September 5, 2009, page 4)

By Reporter Lee Yong-in

Although N. Korea appears to be making concessions, analysts say its
letter to the UNSC references uranium enrichment capabilities and
presses U.S. to choose dialogue

In a letter sent to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on
Friday in the name of North Korea's Permanent Representative to the
United Nations, the country accepted some of the conditions set by
the U.S. for dialogue while also attempting to apply reverse
pressure on the U.S. to choose between dialogue and sanctions.

Around the time of former U.S. President Bill Clinton's visit to
North Korea which took place from July 4 to July 5, North Korea
urged the U.S. to participate in bilateral dialogue through various
channels. It also carried out efforts to create conditions
conducive to bilateral dialogue, including making active moves to
thaw cold inter-Korean relations such as granting a meeting between
Hyundai Group Chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun and North Korean leader Kim
Jong-il and the release of the detained Hyundai Asan employee, Yu

Although the U.S. has taken a positive view of these actions by
North Korea, (the U.S.) has adhered to the fixed position that
these actions are unrelated to the essential issue of North Korea's
denuclearization. The U.S. is seeking a political promise of
denuclearization from North Korea and an agreement to return to the
Six-Party Talks as conditions for dialogue.

North Korea's "letter" shows a certain degree of responsiveness to
these demands. With regard to an expression of intent to
denuclearize, the letter states that it has "never disavowed the
denuclearization of the Joseon (Korean) Peninsula and of the world
in and of itself." Analysts are speculating that Kim Jong-il made a
statement along similar lines during former President Clinton's
visit, but this is the first time it has been formalized in a
written document. It is also appears to represent a significant
retreat from claims made in a statement by North Korea's Foreign
Ministry on June 15 objecting to UNSC Resolution 1874 (which
established) sanctions against North Korea. In that statement, the
Foreign Ministry said, "Denuclearization has become something that
can absolutely, utterly never be realized."

In connection with the condition of "agreeing to return to Six-Party
Talks," the letter says that what North Korea objected to was the
"composition of the Six-Party Talks." Analysts are interpreting

SEOUL 00001436 008 OF 008

this as a nuanced indication that North Korea has refused to
participate in the talks because it opposes the arrangement of five
nations against one. "North Korea indicates some flexibility with
regard to the format of the talks," says Kim Yeon-cheol, head of the
Hankyoreh Peace Research Institute. However, the letter also
indicates North Korea's strong aversion to the U.S.'s "two-track
strategy" of simultaneously pursuing both sanctions and dialogue and
counters that the U.S. has to choose one or the other. Analysts are
saying North Korea's announcement that it is extracting and
weaponizing plutonium and that its uranium enrichment tests have
entered their final stage could be seen as a strategy to draw the
U.S. into bilateral dialogue by stressing that time is not on the
U.S.'s side.

References to uranium enrichment raise an especially sensitive
issue, as it is not known precisely what level of technology North
Korea possesses. North Korea is saying that the enrichment is for
"light water reactor development," but some analysts are expressing
concern that if the enrichment process continues, it could also be
diverted to military use. There was also a dispute between North
Korea and the U.S. over whether North Korea possessed a nuclear
weapon-grade uranium enrichment program (UEP) which set off the
"second North Korean nuclear crisis" in 2002. "North Korea's open
mention of something that they could be doing in secrecy is part of
their typical 'discursive diplomacy' intended to maximize their
negotiation cards," said a one-time senior official in foreign
affairs and national security. "There is no other way to find out
the level of North Korea's uranium enrichment capabilities except
through discussions and dialogue," the former official added.

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


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