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Cablegate: Seoul - Press Bulletin; November 4, 2009

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 SEOUL 001762

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV MARR ECON KPAO KS US
SUBJECT: SEOUL - PRESS BULLETIN; November 4, 2009

TOP HEADLINES
-------------

Chosun Ilbo
Japanese Prime Minister: "Japan-U.S. Alliance is
under Comprehensive Review... Tokyo will Say
What It Has to Say to America"

JoongAng Ilbo
Prime Minister Chung to Announce Roadmap
for Sejong City Project Today

Dong-a Ilbo
Six LPG Suppliers Face Largest Ever Fair Trade Commission Fine for
Price Fixing

Hankook Ilbo
ROKG Measures to Contain New Flu Insufficient
to Ease Public Anxiety

Hankyoreh Shinmun
ROKG and Ruling Party under Mounting Criticism for Giving Special
Treatment to Comprehensive Program Channels

Segye Ilbo
U.S. Foreign Policy Magazine: "N. Korea, U.S. Agree to Hold Two
Rounds of Official Talks before North Returns to Multilateral
Talks"

Seoul Shinmun, All TVs
N. Korea Says It Completed
Reprocessing 8,000 Spent Fuel Rods


DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
----------------------

U.S. Ambassador to the ROK Kathleen Stephens, in a Nov. 3 speech at
the National Assembly, said: "The U.S. is not prepared to consider a
completely normalized relationship with a North Korea that insists
upon having a nuclear weapons program. That makes normalization very
difficult." (Hankook, KBS, Yonhap)


INTERNATIONAL NEWS
------------------

North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said yesterday
that North Korea "successfully completed reprocessing 8,000 spent
fuel rods" in late August and made "remarkable achievements in
weaponizing the extracted plutonium" to strengthen the North's
nuclear deterrence. (All)

The ROK Foreign Ministry expressed "deep regret," saying: "There is
no way to confirm the statement, but if it is true, it would be a
clear violation of UNSC Resolutions 1718 and 1874." (JoongAng)

According to Foreign Policy magazine, the U.S. and North Korea have
agreed to hold two rounds of official talks before the North returns
to multilateral talks. According to the magazine, this agreement was
reached during recent negotiations in the U.S. between Ri Gun, the
North's No. 2 nuclear negotiator, and Sung Kim, Special Envoy for
the Six-Party Talks. (Dong-a, Hankyoreh, Segye, all TVs)


MEDIA ANALYSIS
---------------

-N. Korea
----------
All ROK media gave front- and inside-page play to North Korea's
claim yesterday that it "successfully completed reprocessing 8,000
spent fuel rods" in late August and made "remarkable achievements in

SEOUL 00001762 002 OF 005


weaponizing the extracted plutonium" to strengthen the North's
nuclear deterrence.

According to media reports, if the North's claim is true, the North
could have obtained some 6-8 kg of plutonium, enough for one nuclear
weapon, for which about 6-7 kg of plutonium is normally needed.

Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo quoted the ROK Foreign Ministry as
expressing "deep regret," saying: "There is no way to confirm the
statement, but if it is true, it would be a clear violation of UNSC
Resolutions 1718 and 1874."

Most media cited experts as viewing this North Korean announcement
as designed to press the USG to hold direct talks to deal with the
nuclear issue. Right-of-center JoongAng Ilbo, in particular,
carried an analysis that said: "North Korea seems determined to
enhance its status as a nuclear state by strengthening its nuclear
capability. ... Given that this announcement came shortly after Ri
Gun, the North's No. 2 nuclear negotiator, headed back home after
talks in the U.S., it may suggest that the talks between Ri Gun and
Sung Kim, Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks, fell short of the
North's expectations."

Most media covered a Nov. 3 report by Foreign Policy magazine saying
that the U.S. and North Korea have agreed to hold two rounds of
official talks before the North returns to multilateral talks.
According to the U.S. magazine, this agreement was reached during
recent negotiations in the U.S. between Ri Gun, the North's No. 2
nuclear negotiator, and Sung Kim, Special Envoy for the Six-Party
Talks.

On the other hand, conservative Dong-a Ilbo editorialized: "It will
not be too late if the U.S. (waits) to enter into dialogue (with
North Korea) until after the North takes substantial steps to
resolve its nuclear issue and to resume the Six-Party Talks. If the
U.S. takes a laid-back attitude and misjudges the North, it will
deal a blow not only to international cooperation but also to the
Obama Administration's vision for a 'nuclear-free world.'"


OPINIONS/EDITORIALS
--------------------

U.S.-N. KOREA DIALOGUE; RESULTS MORE IMPORTANT THAN DIALOGUE ITSELF
(Dong-a Ilbo, November 4, 2009, page 35)

The U.S. Department of State said on November 2 that Sung Kim,
Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks, had useful discussions with
Ri Gun, Director General of American Affairs at North Korea's
Foreign Ministry. During his 11-day visit to the U.S. beginning
October 23, Ri met with U.S. government and academic officials
including Ambassador Sung Kim. The meeting between Sung and Ri was
the first U.S.-North Korea contact since the inauguration of the
Obama Administration. The State Department's positive remarks seem
to signify the USG's position that it is ready to hold bilateral
talks with the North. The possibility of U.S.-North Korea bilateral
talks was raised when President Bill Clinton visited Pyongyang.
According to sources in Washington, Special Representative for North
Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth is highly likely to visit North Korea
this month.

It is too early to say that the U.S.-North Korea contact this time
will pave the way for the international community to shift toward
dialogue over sanctions. North Korea's official Korean Central News
Agency claimed yesterday that North Korea successfully completed
reprocessing 8,000 spent fuel rods in late August and made
remarkable achievements in weaponizing the extracted plutonium. The
North Korean Foreign Ministry issued a threatening statement a day
earlier that if the U.S. is not ready to sit down face to face,
North Korea will go its own way. What is clear is that North Korea
has not ceased its nuclear development. The North also has not
changed its tactics to use U.S.-North Korea dialogue as a place for
nuclear disarmament talks.


SEOUL 00001762 003 OF 005


It will not be too late if the U.S. (waits) to enter into dialogue
(with North Korea) until after the North takes substantial steps to
resolve its nuclear issue and to resume the Six-Party Talks. If the
U.S. takes a laid-back attitude and misjudges the North, it will
deal a blow not only to international cooperation but also to the
Obama Administration's vision for a 'nuclear-free world.' In
addition, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il told Chinese Premier Wen
Jiabao that his country is ready to rejoin the Six-Party Talks,
depending on progress in its negotiations with the U.S. It seems
that North Korea intends to decide whether to rejoin the Six-Party
Talks after receiving what it wants from the U.S. through salami
tactics, in which Pyongyang slices the process of nuclear
abandonment as thinly as possible in order to maximize its gains.
The U.S. should not hastily respond to this North Korean maneuver.


The ROK and the U.S. should further step up their coordination since
North Korea has been alternating threats and conciliatory gestures.
The ROKG 's position is to not resume the Mt. Kumgang tour project
and massive food aid before the North changes its attitude to a
satisfactory level. There should not be any reward for the North's
provocations. The U.S. should not hold dialogue for the sake of
dialogue. The U.S. will be able to get North Korea to give up its
nuclear ambitions only when it thoroughly responds to the North
Korea's tactics of resorting to both threats and dialogue.


FEATURES
---------

NORTH KOREA RENEWS PRESSURE ON THE U.S. TO HAVE BILATERAL TALKS
(JoongAng Ilbo, November 4, 2009, Page 10)

By Reporter Ye Young-joon

North Korea officially announced on November 3 that it has completed
reprocessing 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods and was successful in
weaponizing plutonium. This announcement came a day after the North
urged the U.S. to make a decision on U.S.-North Korea bilateral
talks, saying, "If the U.S. is not ready (to sit down face-to-face
with us,) we will go our own way."

North Korea's move is interpreted as meaning that North Korea seems
determined to enhance its status as a nuclear state by strengthening
its nuclear capability. It could also be a message that the North
will turn bilateral dialogue with the U.S. into nuclear reduction
talks. The announcement has made the process of denuclearizing
North Korea more complicated. This is because now the process of
plutonium reprocessing in August should also be verified.

Through this announcement, Pyongyang pressured the Obama
Administration, which has been postponing laying out its position on
dialogue with the North. A diplomatic source said that the timing
of the announcement is worth attention. According to the Korean
Central News Agency, the reprocessing of spent fuel rods was
completed at the end of August. Prior to this, in April, Pyongyang
announced that it would start to reprocess nuclear fuel rods, and,
in June, Pyongyang said that it would weaponize all extracted
plutonium. The reprocessing took four months and was completed by
the end of August, but Pyongyang delayed its official announcement
for over two months.

At the end of August, North Korea was in the middle of its "charm
offensive." It made a series of conciliatory gestures, such as
releasing detained U.S. female journalists during former U.S.
President Bill Clinton's visit, releasing an ROK employee working at
the Kaesong Industrial Complex, and sending a condolence delegation
to the ROK for the funeral of the late President Kim Dae-jung. It
was around this time that the North invited U.S. Special
Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth to Pyongyang.
Afterwards, the North also invited Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao,
signaling its intention to return to the Six-Party Talks. In other
words, the North did not make the announcement on the completion of
reprocessing nuclear fuel rods (in August), which could have cast

SEOUL 00001762 004 OF 005


cold water on the conciliatory mood, so that it could use it as a
bargaining chip in the future.

It is also noteworthy that the announcement came shortly after Ri
Gun, the North's No. 2 nuclear negotiator, headed back home after
talks in the U.S. This may suggest that the talks between Ri Gun
and Sung Kim, Special Envoy for the Six-Party Talks, fell short of
the North's expectations. North Korea said on November 2, "This
contact was not a preliminary meeting for the DPRK (North
Korea)-U.S. talks, and thus there were no substantive discussions
related to the DPRK-U.S. talks." This indicates that both sides
simply reiterated their positions and failed to make concrete
progress on the schedule for Bosworth's possible visit to the North.
Contrary to expectations, Ri and Kim had only one one-on-one
meeting. An ROKG official noted, "Unlike the North, the U.S. did
not give much significance to the Ri-Kim meeting. This is because
the North did not show any big change in its position, and it is
also part of Washington's tactics to lower Pyongyang's
expectations." In short, by belatedly announcing that it has
completed reprocessing spent fuel rods, the North openly expressed
its displeasure about the U.S.'s lukewarm attitude.

In addition, considering Pyongyang's previous negotiating tactics,
it can be said that the announcement was intended to strengthen the
North's bargaining position at possible bilateral talks with the
U.S. and (multilateral) nuclear negotiations. Pyongyang thinks that
it can reap many rewards only when it has increased its nuclear
capability before returning to dialogue.


AMBASSADOR STEPHENS: "U.S. IS NOT READY TO CONSIDER NORMAL RELATIONS
WITH NUCLEAR-POSSESSING N. KOREA"
(Hankook Ilbo, November 4, 2009, Page 6)

By Reporter Chung Sang-won

U.S. Ambassador to the ROK Kathleen Stephens said on November 3,
"The U.S. is not prepared to consider a completely normalized
relationship with a North Korea that insists upon having a nuclear
weapons program. That makes normalization very difficult."

Ambassador Stephens made the statement during her speech before the
Peaceful Unification Forum at the VIP restaurant in the National
Assembly Main Building. The title of the speech was the "Obama
Administration's Smart Diplomacy and Peace Policy toward Korean
Peninsula."

Ambassador Stephens stressed, "The U.S. remains willing to engage
North Korea bilaterally within the framework of the Six-Party
process," adding, "Just to be clear, we do think that this is a
multilateral issue, not a bilateral issue simply with the United
States.".

Ambassador Stephens said that the Six-Party Talks are important
because the September 2005 Six-Party Talks Joint Statement of
Principles "remains a good definition of what an eventual outcome
should look like; a denuclearized Korean Peninsula with new
opportunities for normalized relations between North Korea and the
U.S. and North Korea and Japan, much better inter-Korean relations
with the eventual replacement of the armistice by a more permanent
peace agreement and, very importantly, quite substantial economic
and energy assistance.". She added, "On October 26 Ambassador Sung
Kim met with North Korean representative Ri Gun in New York. It is
our sincere hope that this meeting will start the process of getting
North Korea back into a multilateral talks process." Stephens also
noted, "We have made it clear that the international community as a
whole is not prepared to accept the notion of nuclear weapons
programs in North Korea." She added, "We also need to continue to
be concerned about North Korea's export of nuclear and ballistic
missile-related equipment, materials and technologies to countries
concerned. And that's why not only the U.S. but all the countries
in the international community are united in full implementation of
the relevant UN Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874 in order
to prevent proliferation activities by North Korea. "

SEOUL 00001762 005 OF 005


STEPHENS

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