International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

December 17, 2002

December 17, 2002




**  According to Asian writers, North Korea is a more severe 'threat to world peace' than Iraq. 

**  Observers worldwide speculated on U.S. motives for such a 'first-class embarrassment' as the abortive seizure of missiles aboard the North Korean ship on its way to Yemen.

**  Most saw the DPRK's 'brinkmanship' as aimed at restarting dialogue with the U.S.

**  Some criticize lack of 'coherent North Korean policy' in Washington.



Pyongyang is a 'reckless agent of weapons proliferation'--   Numerous dailies, especially in East Asia, cited both the discovery of DPRK missiles on a freighter heading to Yemen and Pyongyang's announcement it would restart its nuclear program as proof that North Korea is an "extremely dangerous neighbor."  Most predicted an "aggravation of already tense U.S.-DPRK relations."  South Korea's conservative Chosun Ilbo criticized Seoul's "one-sided appeasement policy" as helping Pyongyang's "continued nuclear development and missile exports."  Hong Kong's independent South China Morning Post spoke for many by saying that while the U.S. considers "Saddam Hussein a priority...Kim Jong-Il's regime is a far more pressing problem."


Liberal papers blamed hidden U.S. aims for the 'embarrassing political incident'--  Germany's Die Tageszeitung said the "whole operation was meant as a sign of strength" to prove the U.S. "is in charge," while a Belgian daily called it a "warning" to other countries, especially China, against proliferation.  Israel's Ha'aretz was irked that Washington granted "significant concessions on the issue of non-conventional weapons" to Yemen in return for anti-terror "cooperation."  Others, including Britain's Guardian, implied the U.S. allowed the "diplomatic shipwreck" in order to "help the conservative, pro-Bush candidate in South Korea’s imminent, close-run presidential election."


Pyongyang's activities are an effort to force U.S. into negotiations--  Asian papers called North Korea's promise to resume operation and construction of nuclear facilities a "clearly targeted provocation" of the U.S.  Analysts in Tokyo and Seoul demanded Pyongyang "immediately stop" its "extreme and dangerous brinkmanship tactics."  South Korea's independent Joongang Ilbo termed the DPRK announcement a "strong call for dialogue with the U.S."  Several called for international cooperation "to foil Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions."


Criticism of U.S.' 'starkly contradictory' policies--  Some dailies called U.S. policy on the DPRK and WMD "confusing at best, crudely hypocritical at worst."  A centrist German observer cast doubt on U.S. anti-proliferation strategies because "the North Korean example shows...those who have the bomb will be unassailable."  Indonesia's independent Kompas reflected widespread sentiment in asking why the U.S. is "moving to threaten Iraq rather than North Korea," concluding the U.S. is "pursuing...Iraq's oil riches," not WMD removal.

EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 44 reports from 14 countries, over 12 - 16 December.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed by most recent date. 




BRITAIN:  “North Korea’s Missile Exports Hold A Lesson For Dealing With Iraq”


An editorial in the centrist Independent stated (12/12):  "The seizure...provides a compelling illustration of how weapons of mass destruction and the vehicles which can carry them can spread--and of the difficulties of dealing with both the states which supply them and those which acquire them....  Why were the missiles being transported as hidden cargo....  And why precisely does impoverished Yemen need offensive Scud missiles? It cannot be ruled out that the missiles were ultimately intended for someone else--al-Qa’ida perhaps, or even Iraq?  The interception of the vessel will be advanced by Washington’s critics as further proof that the lone superpower is behaving self-appointed global policeman....  North Korea today is what an Iraq with weapons of mass destruction would be tomorrow--a state with the means to blackmail its neighbours and supply those weapons to other countries....  But the real problem is North Korea.  This latest incident confirms...that the Pyongyang a reckless agent of weapons proliferation....  Pyongyang shelters behind its own policy of blackmail and deterrence....  Although there is no guarantee that the carrot-and-stick diplomatic approach long pursued by the U.S. and its regional allies, together with pressure form its neighbours China and Russia, will succeed in defanging North Korea, there is no alternative."


“High Seizures”


An editorial in the liberal Guardian declared (12/12):  "At first, the seizure...appeared straightforward, if highly dramatic.  Here was incontrovertible proof, it seemed, of Pyongyang’s involvement in illegal proliferation of weapons of mass destruction....  What a coup!  What a find!  What a stunning success for the U.S.-led campaign against the dark forces of the “axis of evil."  Or, alternatively: what a stunt!....  First it was pointed out that North Korea is perfectly within its rights to ship and sell arms...others do it, too.  Only Iraq, uniquely, is constrained....  In Washington, celebration of a watershed intelligence feat turned into fear of diplomatic shipwreck....  The missile snatch of the century had, it seemed, misfired.  Did the U.S. deliberately stage this incident to illustrate its new, self-given right of pre-emptive action against perceived WMD threats?....  Was the U.S. trying to help the conservative, pro-Bush candidate in South Korea’s imminent, close-run presidential election, Lee Hoi-Chang?  All is a misty mystery....  But one thing is deadly certain.  Meaningful, high-level engagement with Pyongyang is ever urgently required.  Threats and provocations will only make matters worse."


“Deadly Proof Of Terror War”


The mass circulation tabloid Sun editorialized (12/12):  "When Bush branded Iran, Iraq and North Korea an 'axis of evil' the chattering classes scoffed.  But Bush’s warning was not just rhetoric.  Yesterday the world was the proof of the threat presented by North Korea....  Yemen is an enemy of the whole world....  Yemen claims the missiles were for its own defensive purposes.  It that true, why did they hide them under 40,000 bags of cement?  America must be sick it’s having to let Yemen keep them....  Is it too much to hope that all those who apologise for Saddam and attack Bush and Blair will now admit they were wrong?  Are they so blinkered that they cannot now see why the West has to purge the planet of the evil regimes that threaten our futures?  The war on terror is most definitely not about the size of egos in the White House or Downing Street.  It is a fight between good and evil--and good will win."


FRANCE:  “An Embarrassed Bush Administration”


Fabrice Rousselot opined in left-of-center Liberation (12/13):  “Is Bush concentrating on the wrong target within the ‘axis of evil’?  In the last two days North Korea has reminded the U.S. of its existence and placed America in a most embarrassing position.  That of a superpower so obsessed with changing Iraq’s regime that it has forgotten about priorities....  For the time being the U.S. seems to be having a hard time leading a coherent North Korean policy.  Some observers are wondering about Washington’s decision to allow the North Korean Scud missiles to continue on their route to Yemen without further investigation.”


GERMANY:  “New Threat, Old Strategy”


Henrik Bork wrote in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (12/13):  “North Korea’’s announcement to re-activate the nuclear reactors it decommissioned in 1994 is a clearly targeted provocation of the United States.  Does North Korea plan to provoke a U.S. military strike?  On the contrary, North Korea wants negotiations with the United States....  This is the most recent example of an old North Korean tactic.  It is called strategy of escalation and worked perfectly in the past....  But a dialogue with North Korea is possible.  Bill Clinton gave evidence of it...[and] North Korea’s new détente-oriented foreign policy and the reforms for the opening of the country demonstrate this.  Unlike his father, Kim Jong-il is dependent on international money.  Of course, in the past, he presented himself often as a difficult interlocutor...but limited progress in the treatment of a rogue state is still better than a blockade and escalation, including the threat with nuclear weapons.”


“Those Who Have The Bomb”


Clemens Wergin judged in Berlin's centrist Der Tagesspiegel (12/13):  “The [security] strategy of the Bush administration is based on the conviction that the classical policy of containing WMD has failed....  Even agreements do not keep some rogue states from acquiring and passing on WMD.  We could have the impression that the Americans are now applying double standards.  While North Korea, with its nuclear policy, has thus far not faced serious consequences, Iraq is about to be attacked because of its WMD.  But such criticism ignores the decisive difference between the two systems.  North Korea has almost become invulnerable because it is threatening its neighbors with nuclear weapons, and the Americans cannot intervene on the basis of their new security doctrine.  For Washington, this inactivity with respect to North Korea is only a further argument to prevent a similar situation elsewhere….  But it is still unclear whether the new U.S. strategy will make the world safer....  The North Korean example also shows this:  Those who have the bomb, will be unassailable.”


“Acting Tough”


Karim El-Gawhary pointed out in an editorial in leftist Die Tageszeitung of Berlin (12/12):  “The whole operation was meant as a sign of strength.  On the one hand, it was a message for North Korea, which is working on nuclear weapons and, according to President Bush, belongs to the ‘axis of evil.’  On the other hand, it underlined who has the power in the Middle East, because the Spanish forces captured the boat after being ordered to do so by the United States.  The message is clear: The United States is in charge here.”


ITALY:  “North Korea Reopens Its Nuclear Plants As Well As The Crisis”


Washington correspondent Ennio Caretto observed in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (12/13):  Yesterday, Kim announced that he would resume his nuclear program....  It’s a challenge for the super power (America)....  The North Korean dictator’s challenge...and Bush’s tougher attitude represent the most serious consequence of the temporary seizure of So San ship’s load, 15 Scud missiles.  The U.S. administration did finally hand the missiles over to Yemen... but its dispute with North still getting worse.  In fact, yesterday, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that Pyongyang ‘is the principal cause of the missile proliferation on the earth, a problem that must be dealt with.’  However, for the time being, the American President doesn’t seem to have any intentions to open a North Korean front on top of the Iraqi one.”


“Ship Full Of Scud Missiles Intercepted”


Washington correspondent Ennio Caretto wrote in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (12/12):  “A cargo ship with 15 North Korean missiles destined for Yemen, similar to the Iraqi Scud missiles, arose suspicions in the United States that the missiles could be, in fact, aimed for Saddam Hussein or bin Laden, and almost caused a diplomatic incident between Washington and Sanaa, and made relations between the U.S. superpower and North Korea even more tense....  The Bush Administration modified its language (towards Yemen) but was instead very tough towards North Korea.”


“U.S. Gaffe: Ship With Scud Missiles For Yemen Blocked And Then Released”


Strategic/defense analyst Andrea Nativi noted in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (12/12): "The sensational seizure by Spanish naval units of a ship from North Korea with a cargo of Scud ballistic missiles aimed for Yemen--but which Washington obviously thought were meant for Iraq--is turning into an embarrassing political incident.  From a military point of view, the operation was successful, but things are different from a political angle.  The Yemeni foreign minister sent a very harsh letter to the U.S. ambassador, explaining that the missiles are destined for the Yemeni army and should be sent to Yemen right away....  Too bad that it is difficult to find justifications when the buyer of the ballistic missiles is an ally that already possesses that kind of weapon and that, in fact, has even better weapons (the SS-21 missiles provided by Russia).  For many observers, it is difficult to forget that, at the present time, the main producer, user and seller of ballistic missiles and cruise missiles is, in fact, the United States.”


AUSTRIA:  “North Korea: An Embarrassment for Bush”


Foreign affairs writer Stefan Galoppi commented in mass-circulation Kurier (12/14):  “North Korea’s regime certainly wasn’t shy about disclosing the facts. It admits it has been enriching uranium for building nuclear weapons. It has sent missiles, hidden under a few bags of cement, halfway around the globe. Now it wants to reactivate three atomic reactors that – aside from energy - produce large amounts of weapons-grade plutonium as well. Whatever an ambitious terrorist may be looking for, Kim Il Yong can provide it – but apparently Bush, the anti-terror warrior in the White House, can’t or won’t do anything about the obvious threat.”




Foreign affairs writer Markus Bernath commented in liberal Der Standard (12/12):  "The Scud affair is taking some peculiar and outlandish turns....  Washington, after all, is faced with a first-class embarrassment here: Yemen gets to keep the missiles, and even rogue states are apparently entitled to export weapons....  North Korea, the world's last Stalinist regime gets away with admitting it is busily putting together a nuclear arms program....  The point is, even the most unrelenting critics of the Pyongyang regime are aware that a military strike against North Korea is out of the question at this point.  There's no way to predict Pyongyang's reaction. U.S. troops in South Korea are far too vulnerable, and besides, the timing just isn't right.  The U.S. is gearing up for a war in Iraq....and apparently Washington's 'preemptive doctrine' applies only to some, but not to others."


BELGIUM: "North Korea Gets Aggressive"


Tristan De Bourbon opined in left-of-center Le Soir (12/13):  "North Korea is now being aggressive.  Its theory is the following: Washington’s refusal to sign a non-aggression pact amounts to an aggression.  Therefore, North Korea must develop WMD to protect itself....  Confrontation is at its peak.  Pyongyang will stick to its positions as long as American diplomacy does not demonstrate that it is willing to begin a dialogue without precondition.”


“Multiple Targets Missiles” 


Philippe Paquet observed in independent La Libre Belgique (12/12):  “Paradoxically, this interception might be embarrassing for Washington....  Because, if this spectacular operation has the advantage of catching North Koreans in the act of ‘proliferating,’ it also has the disadvantage of putting the Americans against the wall.  Indeed, how could the White House forgive Pyongyang for what it continues to accuse Iraq of, i.e. representing a serious threat for world security?  Actually, the interception of the So San seems to have to be considered a warning to countries other than North Korea, as suggested by the timing chosen to intercept the ship.  The U.S. Administration explained that it did not wait for the ship to get closer to its destination in order not to upset the Yemeni authorities, whose cooperation it needs to dismantle the al-Qaida networks in the region.  But this argument is not convincing, since Yemen was upset and immediately demanded that the missiles be delivered."


HUNGARY:    "New Evil States Are Targets”


Senior columnist Hanna Szalay judged in influential Hungarian-language business-oriented Vilaggazdasag (12/16):  “The news from Iran and Teheran about their nuclear capacity caused some nervousness in the world.   Iran’s nuclear power plant plans generated only temporary tension in the U.S.-Russian relationship, as long as North Korea’s announcement that it will reopen its nuclear plants has brought Washington and Beijing closer.

The situation is that Pyongyang is blackmailing Washington with the nuclear plant issue.   North Korea wants the United States to restart its oil-supply delivery it stopped in early December.  North Korea has the chance of receiving oil only if it complies fully (with the requirements of the IAEA and Washington).  Because not only the IAEA but China too is now a good partner of the U.S.  Beijing has unexpectedly announced to support the proposal of clearing the Korean Peninsula of any nuclear weapons.” 




ISRAEL:  "Silence, We're Fighting Terror"


Senior Middle East affairs analyst Zvi Bar'el wrote in independent Ha'aretz (12/12):  "What is one to do with a state that allows you to fly helicopters in its airspace, to shoot freely at suspects, and that promises to fight with all its meager strength against al-Qaida activists?  It deserves a prize: the right to possess Scud missiles....  This is more than simple cooperation.  The U.S. forces have been given almost carte blanche to act in a country that only partly controls its territory....  Based on that logic it can be assumed that, had Syria cooperated with the U.S. Administration against terror, it would also had been able to import missiles with various ranges.  The attitude of the U.S., which is not even expressing wonderment as to why Yemen needs ballistic missiles and against which foe it wishes to protect itself; the lack of minimal condemnation of the missiles' very acquisition and the seal of approval for the deal--all those could constitute evidence of the strategic transformation the U.S. Administration is going through.  It turns out that the war against terror involves significant concessions on the issue of non-conventional weapons."




CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "Beijing's Chance To Shine"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post said in an editorial (12/14):  "North Korea's closest allies, China and Russia, have a rare opportunity to show their worth as members of the international community. Together, they have the diplomatic leverage to end an escalating security breach in East Asia....  Pyongyang's decision to rescind a 1994 agreement with the United States and resume operation and construction of nuclear power plants is a frightening prospect. While it desperately needs electricity, its secretive plutonium and uranium programs point to as much interest in nuclear weapons as power generation.  The US realized the escalating seriousness of the situation and has embarked on an unprecedented push for North Korea's neighbors and allies to pressure the isolationist nation. On Friday it emerged that President George W. Bush had asked China, Russia and Japan to help....  China has urged the US and North Korea to resolve the standoff through talks. But Beijing, through its diplomatic relationship with Pyongyang, holds a key to resolution that it must use. By doing so, it may resolve the worst threat to security in the region while proving its peace-brooking abilities on the international stage."


"North Korea:  U.S. Must Break Silence"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (12/13):  "The world community has been jolted from its complacency over North Korea's plight in the most spectacular fashion.  Pyongyang's announcement that it will scrap a 1994 agreement with the U.S. and resume operation and construction of nuclear facilities is an alarming wake-up call....  The North says it will not scrap its nuclear program unless the U.S. signs a non-aggression pact.  The U.S., agitating to wage war to overthrow Iraq's President Saddam Hussein, says it will reopen talks only on its terms....  Yesterday's developments are worrying and only the U.S. can resolve the situation.  Washington must soften its stand and resume dialogue.  Mediating on behalf of the international community, it can help the starving nation overcome its humanitarian difficulties.  North Korea must similarly become more open to agreements."


"A Dangerous Regime"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (12/12):  "The price of peace is the multi-billion-dollar arms industry, which generates enough revenue to maintain a medium-sized country.  No nation has a monopoly on selling weapons, although some would dearly like a bigger market share.  Pacifists argue that the proliferation of weapons spawns increased violence.  Poverty-stricken North Korea should therefore not be condemned for exporting its missile technology.  Where it is on shaky ground is the people it sells it to....  North Korea has already disregarded agreements it has made on weapons proliferation and is believed to be exchanging the products of its missile program for nuclear technology.  The U.S. and its allies in the United Nations consider Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein a priority, but Mr. Kim Jong Il's regime is a far more pressing problem that needs urgent attention."


"On North Korea, Washington Is In Charge"


Foreign Editor Peter Kammerer wrote in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (12/12):  "Presidential candidates Roh Moo-hyun and Lee Hoi-chang can say what they like about South Korea's foremost foreign policy issue, North Korea; the reality is that the U.S. speaks loudest and with the most authority on the matter.  Their views, though, are of little immediate consequence while the U.S. and North Korea are locked in a heated standoff over Pyongyang's admitted nuclear weapons program....  Neither Mr. Roh nor Mr. Lee has attempted to make political ground from the U.S. relationship.  Anti-Americanism among South Koreans has been growing steadily....  But whichever candidate wins, Washington will retain a steering role in policy towards North Korea."


JAPAN:   "Kim Jong Il Must Scrap Nuclear Program"


Business-oriented Nihon Keizai editorialized (12/15):  "The tension on the Korean Peninsula has been beginning to rise since the DPRK's announcement to reactivate its nuclear facilities to 'make up for' the U.S.'s suspension of fuel oil supplies to the reclusive Stalinist state. The North's resumption of nuclear development does not stand to reason, given the fact that the U.S. stopped oil shipments to retaliate against the North's admission of its nuclear program that indisputably violated the 1994 Agreed Framework.  Even Russia and China, the North's allies and friends, are opposed to North Korea's nuclear program. It must discard its nuclear ambitions.  Long isolated from the international community, Pyongyang may not be fully aware of the post-9/11 world current. The U.S., which took a direct beating from the simultaneous terrorist attacks, and other nuclear powers, including Russia and China, are joining hands to counter terrorism and the proliferation of WMDs. The world community will no longer yield to the North's brinkmanship. The North must first and foremost scrap nuclear and other WMDs in a verifiable manner to return to square one to resume talks with the U.S. Finally, we are hopeful that rising anti-U.S. sentiment over a U.S. Army vehicle's killing of two South Korean schoolgirls will not adversely affect close policy coordination between the U.S., Japan and South Korea in dealing with the North."


"More DPRK Brinkmanship?"


Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri editorialized (12/13):  "The DPRK's announcement of its immediate activation of a nuclear program poses a renewed threat to world peace. The announcement is, in effect, tantamount to scrapping the Agreed Framework the North signed with the U.S.  In October, Pyongyang told Assistant Secretary of State Kelly that it had a secret program to enrich uranium to produce nuclear weapons, despite the 1994 accord.  Pyongyang's latest hard-line policy may be indicative of trying to provoke Washington into extending new aid, as it did in 1994.  If so, Pyongyang's tactics should be seen as a typical example of brinkmanship.  Members of the world community must form a joint front to prevent the North from developing nuclear weapons."


"Nuclear Crisis Must Be Avoided"


Liberal Asahi observed (12/13):  "The DPRK's announcement of its reactivation of a nuclear program in the wake of the U.S. interception of a North Korean ship carrying Scud missiles could lead to a crisis similar to the 1994 crisis on the Korean Peninsula.  Pyongyang must immediately halt its brinkmanship that has caused one crisis after another.  The Kim Jong Il leadership may be adopting a 'hard-line' stance in a bid to draw U.S. attention to resuming dialogue.  But such tactics will not be at all effective in dealing with the Bush administration that is determined to use power to curb power, if necessary.  If Pyongyang wants to seek a peaceful solution to nuclear and other disputes, it should abandon its nuclear development."      


"Nuclear Development Must Be Stopped"


Conservative Sankei editorialized (12/13):  "The U.S., Japan and South Korea need to join hands in preventing North Korea from 'recklessly' reactivating its nuclear development program. Assistance from other countries is also necessary to foil Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. The North's announcement...warrants Washington's retaliatory measures against Pyongyang.  Only days ago, the U.S. and Spanish navies intercepted a North Korean ship carrying Scud missiles in the Arabian Sea, an incident apparently violating international law.  Japan should again realize the North is an extremely dangerous neighbor."


"DPRK: Dangerous State" 


Conservative Sankei observed (12/12):  "The U.S. and Spanish interception of the North Korean ship carrying 15 Scud missiles off Yemen in the Arabian Sea was the first on-site detection of the North's long-rumored practice of exporting more than 100 missiles to Middle East and African nations during the last 10 years.  Missile exports are just another piece of evidence showing that North Korea is, indeed, a dangerous state determined to pose a threat to world security.  The missiles inspected reportedly were bound for Yemen, which had previously imported similar missiles from North Korea.  Given rising concerns that terrorists may purchase weapons in Yemen, the North's export of missiles (to Yemen) could become a destabilizing factor in international society.  The North's missile exports violate the Pyongyang declaration that Prime Minister Koizumi signed with Kim Jong Il.  Can Japan negotiate sincerely and seriously with the DPRK?  We are also concerned about South Korea's conciliatory 'sunshine' engagement policy toward the North."            


"U.S. To Apply Greater Pressure On DPRK" 


Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri's Washington correspondent Hishinuma commented (12/12):  "In the wake of the U.S. and Spanish interception of the North Korean ship carrying 15 Scud missiles off Yemen in the Arabian Sea, the aggravation of already tense U.S.-DPRK relations will be inevitable.  Washington is likely to ask Seoul to join forces in applying greater pressure on Pyongyang."


INDONESIA:  “Commotion About North Korean Arms Escalates With Missile Issue”


Leading independent Kompas commented (12/13):  “The interception of the vessel carrying Scud missiles in the Arabian Sea earlier this week has added to the commotion over the North Korean arms issue.  It is increasingly clear that North Korea possesses dangerous weaponry....  It is becoming questionable as to why the U.S. and its allies are moving to threaten Iraq rather than North Korea....  It is indeed very likely that the U.S. is pursuing economic and geopolitical interests in the broader world’s political constellation.  There has been speculation that the U.S. is lured by the magnitude of Iraq’s oil riches.”


SOUTH KOREA:  “Three North Korea Strategies Of The U.S.”


Kim Kyung-won, former ROK Ambassador to the U.S. and professor of Korea University, opined in independent Joongang Ilbo (12/16):  “What is the U.S. strategy against North Korea’s plans to reactivate its nuclear facilities?  Without resorting to military mobilization, three strategies are possible.  First is a ‘regime change’ strategy.  The U.S. may induce North Korea’s abandonment of nuclear weapons by either ousting the North’s leadership or attempting to change the nature of the North Korean regime....  However, it is questionable whether the U.S. can truly induce a regime change in the North....  The second strategy is to resolve problems through negotiations....  For this strategy to work, the U.S. needs to give up its longstanding stance that North Korea’s abandonment of nukes is the prerequisite for dialogue....  The U.S. may adopt a strategy of pursuing limited engagement and containment while maintaining the status quo.  In other words, it may continue with private sector exchanges while suspending government-level economic cooperation with North Korea....  The third strategy would prolong the North Korean nuclear issue.  The U.S. has no reason to rush to a resolution....  However, a real problem arises if North Korea chooses not to give up its nuclear weapons in response to the three strategies....  Instead of vaguely repeating the need for a peaceful resolution, we must look closely at the U.S. and the DPRK stances and try to find common ground.”


“The ‘North Wind’ No Longer Holds Sway”


Pro-government Hankyoreh Shimmun editorialized (12/16):  “North Korea’s sudden announcement that it would reactivate its nuclear facilities is creating political tension in the lead-up to South Korea’s presidential elections.  Conservative media are fanning jitters of a pending crisis on the Korean Peninsula....  Elections in Korea have always suffered as a result of last-minute variables....  The 2002 presidential elections are no exception.  News of U.S.’s seizure of a North Korean cargo ship carrying missiles to Yemen was followed by North Korea’s announcement that it would rescind the 1994 Geneva Agreement.  It is not yet clear whether the U.S. or North Korea was trying to use such astounding incidents to influence South Korea’s elections....  Mature citizens do not allow parties to employ obsolete methods in an attempt to secure more votes.” 


“Issues of Capital Transfer And North Korean Nukes Should Be Scrutinized”


Independent Dong-a Ilbo opined (12/16):  “The focus of the final TV debate for presidential candidates scheduled for today should be the issues of moving the nation’s capital and the North Korean nuclear program.  Moving the seat of government to another province entails enormous economic, social and cultural costs. The feasibility and side-effects of the plan must be reviewed by the two leading candidates, Lee and Roh, during the TV debate.  Candidates should not treat the North Korea nuclear problem as one of either  ‘war or peace,’ thereby aggravating national conflict as the safety of the country rests on this issue.  Manipulating the people’s fear of war to gain more votes is typical ‘old politics.’ The North Korean issue, also entangled in the complex dynamics of international politics, requires deep discussion among the presidential candidates.”


“Leaders of ROK, U.S., Japan, Busy Over North Korean Nuclear Issue”


Moderate Hankook Ilbo observed (12/16):  “The leaders of ROK, the U.S. and Japan are currently coordinating a peaceful resolution to the North Korean nuclear problem, as agreed during the October summit in Los Cabos.  This is the proper way to fundamentally resolve the issue.  Pyongyang should pay close attention to the determination of the leaders to resolve the matter peacefully while disallowing the re-activation of North Korea’s nuclear facilities.  We believe that differences between Pyongyang’s call for a package deal and Washington’s demand that the nuclear program be abandoned first can be narrowed through dialogue.”


“NK Should Not Unseal Nuclear Facilities”


Government-owned Daehan Maeil commented (12/16):  “North Korea’s announcement that it would unseal and remove surveillance cameras from its nuclear plant will have ripple effects greater than those produced by the halt of heavy fuel shipments.  It signals that the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula has ‘crossed the Rubicon.’ North Korea can no longer hope for a peaceful resolution, as maintaining the freeze on the Yeongbyon facility is the foundation for both the IAEA Nuclear Safety Agreement and the Geneva Framework....  We urge North Korea to, above all, accept President Bush’s statement that the U.S. has no intention of attacking North Korea and then begin honest dialogue with the international community on its enriched uranium program.  Meanwhile, the U.S. should also present justification sufficient for North Korea to abandon its stubborn attitude and come to the negotiating table.”


“North’s Gamble Only Invites Self-Destruction”


Independent Dong-a Ilbo editorialized (12/14): “Given the current situation in the world and in North Korea, the North is not in a position to confront the international community. Nevertheless, North Korea is daily issuing hard-line remarks while turning its back on reality.  It is regrettable that the North does not seem to know what it is doing wrong, though the outside world is well aware of its wrongdoings....  The World Food Program (WFP) confirmed the possibility of some four million North Korean children starving to death by next year....  Against this backdrop, North Korea asked the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to remove seals and surveillance cameras at its nuclear facilities.  Consequently, the international community’s response must become more hard-hitting....  North Korea should rid itself of the illusion that South Korea will continue to generously extend aid.  It would be nothing more than wild fancy for the North to expect the international community to make concessions after being terrorized by its brinkmanship tactics.”


“North Korea And U.S. Should Resume Dialogue”


Pro-government Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (12/14):  “After declaring that it would resume its nuclear activities, North Korea demanded the removal of the surveillance cameras IAEA installed at its nuclear facilities.  This North Korean move does not mean that it will promptly produce nuclear weapons....  It will be a considerable amount of time before weapons-grade plutonium can be extracted from the facilities....  For this reason, the eruption of a real nuclear crisis is still a long way off. The real problem is the new situation created by the disruption of the Geneva Agreed Framework....  First of all, North Korea should do away with its traditional brinkmanship tactics and keep its nuclear facilities frozen as stipulated under the Geneva agreement.  Meanwhile, the U.S. should actively pursue dialogue with North Korea to put off the looming nuclear crisis, instead of repeating the need for a peaceful solution....  The U.S. needs to do away with its oppressive policy toward North Korea.  It is hypocritical for the U.S. to argue for a peaceful solution while leveling a gun barrel at North Korea’s head.”


“A Second Nuclear Crisis Looming On The Korean Peninsula”


Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (12/13):  “We don't know what's behind Pyongyang’s decision to nullify the Geneva Accord.  However, given the firm determination of the international community --notably the Bush Administration--not to allow such nuclear development, it is clear that if there is no dramatic change, the Korean peninsula will be headed toward full-scale confrontation between the North and the rest of the world....  This North Korean statement has brought to a dramatic close the Kim Dae-jung government’s five-year-long ‘Sunshine Policy’ of providing generous aid to the North....  The ROK has no choice but to join forces with the international community in pressuring the North to give up its nuclear program....  In addition, with the presidential election just a week away, the biggest task at hand for presidential candidates is to present clear plans for solving this crisis.”


“North Korea Should Not Resume Its Nuclear Program”


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (12/13):  “In order to prevent further escalation of tension on the peninsula, Pyongyang must immediately withdraw its decision to lift its nuclear freeze, and dialogue between the U.S. and the North and between North and South Korea should be promptly resumed....  The North Korean statement appears to be Pyongyang’s strongest possible measure to counter the U.S. suspension of fuel oil supplies, but carefully looking at the statement, we can read between the lines that Pyongyang is making a strong call for dialogue with the U.S....  The issue is whether the Bush Administration will go along with North Korean brinkmanship tactics.  Taking into account the Bush Administration’s attitude so far, it seems unlikely that Washington will do so willingly....  The ROK, therefore, must put forth its best efforts to induce the two countries to come to the negotiating table and also explore ways to cooperate with China and Russia in dealing with the North.”


“Specter Of North Korean Nuclear Armaments Revived”


Independent Dong-a Ilbo opined (12/13):  “The North Korean announcement that it would reactivate the operation and construction of its nuclear facilities is tantamount to declaring that it refuses to abandon its nuclear arms program, turning the Korean peninsula clock back to before 1994....  Pyongyang cited the U.S. suspension of heavy fuel oil shipments as its reason for the decision.  However, it is the North that violated the Geneva Accord by pursuing a nuclear program....  Even though we oppose confrontation between the U.S. and the North escalating into armed conflict, the time seems ripe for both the ROK and the U.S. to do something about North Korea.”


“North Korea’s Dangerous ‘Brinkmanship’”


Pro-government Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (12/13):  “In the belief that the North’s extreme and dangerous brinkmanship tactics--as demonstrated by its recent decision to lift its nuclear freeze--only heighten tension and confrontation, rather than resolve problems, we urge Pyongyang to withdraw the decision.  As we have repeatedly pointed out, both the North and the U.S. have breached the Geneva Accord.  Thus the two countries must look back on their past behavior and exert best efforts to resolve the current crisis.”


“‘Sunshine’ Missiles”


Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (12/12):  “We are witnessing that the result of our government’s one-sided appeasement policy toward North Korea is not corresponding changes in the North but continued nuclear development and missile exports.  Now that Pyongyang has been caught red-handed exporting missiles following its clandestine development of nuclear weapons, we must actively participate in international efforts to find a fundamental solution to the problem of the North’s weapons of mass destruction.  In particular, the ROK must strengthen its cooperation and alliance with the U.S. in addressing the North Korean issue.”


“North Korea, Is This A Time To Export Missiles?” 


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo noted (12/12):  “Following Pyongyang’s acknowledgement of nuclear weapons development, the recent incident--in which a North Korean cargo ship carrying 15 missiles was intercepted by Spanish warships on the high seas near Yemen--is expected to send U.S.-DPRK relations to a new low. Since the incident took place after the U.S. vowed to stop international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), we are extremely concerned about future developments on the peninsula....  The North may argue that its missile exports are a matter of sovereignty and a way to survive stepped-up U.S. pressures--including the suspension of heavy oil shipments--after its admission of a nuclear program....  However, such an act by the North is bound to fall under global criticism, because it comes at a time when almost all countries in the world are making every effort to eradicate international terrorism and deter the spread of WMD." 


THAILAND:  “Bush...Aready Has Saddam; Why Must There Be Kim?”


Café Dam said in top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post (12/14):  “Is it possible that the U.S. will attack North Korea before Iraq?  The question arises from the U.S. justification that it has the right to pre-empt countries that are developing weapons of mass destruction in order to defend itself....  We have more evidence about nuclear weapons in North Korea than we do in the Iraq case because North Korea has just conceded it attempted to develop nuclear weapons.  A Spanish ship intercepted a North Korea ship and found parts of scud missiles which Pyongyang was shipping to Yemen....  This incident confirms that North Korea does possess weapons of mass destruction whereas there is no hard evidence in the Iraq case.  I don’t believe the U.S. has the legitimacy to launch a pre-emptive strike against any country simply because it suspects that that country possesses the same weaponry it also has.  If its justification were to apply, the U.S. then had a reason to attack North Korea in order to ‘disarm’ the country.  But nothing has been said about North Korea and the U.S continues to be all set to attack Iraq.”




INDIA:  "Skidding On Scuds"


An editorial in the centrist Indian Express stated (12/14):   "Inscrutable are the ways of the powerful, and the starkly contradictory US policies on non-proliferation at the present juncture has only added substance to this view. On the one hand, the US has been insisting on pre-emptive use of force....  On the other, is the kid glove treatment of North Korea....  Credible evidence has also emerged from the US that Pakistan supplied nuclear weapons technology to North Korea in return for ballistic missiles for nuclear weapons delivery against India. At one end is the readiness to go to war against Iraq in the name of counter-proliferation, at the other end is the permissiveness in dealing with perceived allies. North Korean ballistic missiles supplies to Pakistan, Yemen, Iran and other countries have been central to the rapid spread of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in our region....  If the way the US handled the proliferation challenges that emerged into public domain during the past two months is any indication of Washington's commitment to its announced policies, then the world is more likely to witness spread of WMD to non-state actors and terrorists in future. Proliferation of WMD (including missiles), and promiscuous response to proliferation, would only provide incentives for more proliferation either for defense or for offensive strategies."


"Subverting Missile Non-Proliferation"


The centrist Hindu declared (12/13):  "The seizure...of an unflagged ship carrying Scud missiles despatched from North Korea to Yemen and its quick release, following strong protests by the authorities in Sana'a, have come as yet another illustration of the manner in which Washington's pursuit of near-term objectives is subverting the goal of global non-proliferation....  There have been other credible reports--not officially denied by Washington though vehemently refuted by Islamabad--that Pyongyang had supplied Pakistan with long-range missiles in payment for the knowhow to produce nuclear weapons material....  The U.S. has done little to indicate that the problem will be addressed either by reinvigorating treaty commitments in place or through punitive measures.....  U.S. policy is confusing at best, crudely hypocritical at worst."




CANADA:  “Menace Of North Korea Must Be Faced”


Montreal’s conservative English-language Gazette commented (12/12):  “Yemen has a right, the United States has grudgingly acknowledged, to buy Scud-type missiles from North Korea. And North Korea has a right to sell the things....  The Americans, and indeed all states, need to come to grips at once with North Korea's global game of Russian roulette.  If military action is impractical, intelligence efforts are not; we can only trust that the U.S. and its more useful allies--a group that does not include Canada--are working very hard, indeed, in this field. Meanwhile, the whole panoply of diplomatic tools must be used to tame the menace of North Korea's moral irresponsibility.  Here, at least, Canada should be playing what small part it can.”



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