International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

January 7, 2003

January 7, 2003




**  Kim Jong-Il's goal remains "bringing the U.S. to the negotiating table."

**  Writers said the U.S. should be more "flexible and pragmatic," with leftists wanting the U.S. to accept Kim's "call for a non-aggression pact" as part of a "package deal" with the DPRK.

**  Some termed the contrast in U.S. Iraq and DPRK policies an "infringement on logic."



DPRK's 'unruly behavior' and 'brinkmanship' make dialogue difficult-- There was widespread agreement that a "highly aggressive and vitriolic" Pyongyang is "playing a game of nuclear brinkmanship" in order to force "economic and political concessions."  Many dailies accepted that it is "difficult for the rely on a diplomatic solution" in the face of North Korean "provocation" and "nuclear blackmail."  One Hungarian paper noted Pyongyang had verified Bush's position that "evil regimes are unpredictable, therefore they are dangerous."  Some conservative dailies conditionally backed a military solution, with the Jerusalem Post saying that "preemption is sometimes the only recourse."


Others believe a deal with the North is possible--  Leftist observers opined that a solution is possible if there are "concessions and good faith from" the U.S. and the DPRK.  Many, especially in Asia, echoed the call of Seoul's pro-government Hankyoreh Shinmun for "a package deal" in which the U.S. accepts the North’s demand for a non-aggression pact "and the North gives up its nuclear ambitions."  Sweden's liberal Dagens Nyheter backed "negotiations and dexterous diplomacy" to avoid a military "disaster."  Many sought "neighboring join forces in mediating" between the U.S. and the DPRK. 


Many approved of the U.S.' 'tailored containment strategy'--  Centrist and conservative analysts welcomed the U.S. policy of economic sanctions as "relatively moderate," with South Africa's balanced Business Day saying the world must "give diplomacy and various forms of pressure a chance to work."  However, some Asian and leftist outlets expressed "opposition to the U.S. policy of economic containment," with Japan's liberal Asahi bemoaning the U.S.' "hard-line stance."  A pro-government Seoul daily agreed that "U.S. containment a highly dangerous plan that aggravates the situation and does nothing to resolve it."


Criticism mounts of 'America's schizophrenic rhetoric'--  Many outlets contrasted Washington's "dovish response" to Pyongyang with its "intransigence" towards Iraq, terming the North "an equally dangerous threat."  Several guessed North Korea "calculated it can take a tough stance since" Bush is "obsessed with Iraq."  India's right-of-center Newstime speculated that the U.S. secretly "feels it would be safer to attack Iraq than North Korea" because the latter "may actually be in possession" of WMD.  Virtually all papers blasted as "bombast" Secretary Rumsfeld's insistence that the U.S. can fight two wars at once.

EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 103 reports from 36 countries over 23 December 2002 to 6 January 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




BRITAIN:  “Kim Is A Baby Rattling The Sides Of A Cot”


Peter Preston offered this view in the liberal Guardian (12/30):  "Why such a lather over Saddam when the alleged peril in Pyongyang is so much further advanced?....  There is a well grounded assumption that too much attention merely inflates a problem into a crisis.  Poverty, incapacity and failure contain Kim Jong-il; and he, in turn, seeks to contain a military apparatus bent only on hanging on to what privileges and powers it possesses.  One fine, distant day, with more trade and more aid, the barriers will come down.  That is the best kind of regime change....  There’s no bonus in overreaction as the cot rattles."


“War With North Korea Is Now The Unavoidable Choice Facing America”


Bruce Anderson wrote in the center-left Independent (12/30):  "As usual, the Europeans are wrong.  In their determination to convict Bush of serial naivety, a number of European commentators have been accusing the U.S. of concentrating on the wrong enemy.  Why go to war with Saddam...while ignoring North Korea....  But this charge against the Americans is [erroneous]....  The Americans are fully aware of the risk....  There is every reason to hope for another walkover against Saddam.  There is no hope of a walkover against North Korea....  The military options all involve great risks....  If it were possible to draw Kim Jong II’s nuclear fangs, it might also be possible to revert to containment....  At present, however, there seems no hope of such a benign outcome.  Kim Jong II is bent on provoking America, and America has no alternative but to respond.  There seems no way of avoiding a terrible war on the Korean peninsula."


"Fuelling A Crisis"


The liberal Guardian expressed this view (12/23):  "North Korea's decision to remove UN monitoring equipment at its Yongbyon nuclear reactor and resume operations there is a direct result of the recent U.S.-led move to cut off oil supplies to Pyongyang.  North Korea says it needs the electricity only Yongbyang can produce.  That the reactor, before its closure in 1994, was used to produce weapons-grade plutonium for nuclear warheads may be true;  the U.S. certainly believes it to be so.  But through its renewed pressure on the North Korean regime, the Bush administration has now produced the very opposite of what it says it wants....  Rather than engaging directly as a way of reducing concerns about the regime's nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction activity, the U.S. seems intent on driving the North Koreans into a corner, amid wild talk of military air strikes aimed at Yongbyang.  This is dangerous, irresponsible behavior."


FRANCE:  “Obsessed With Iraq, Bush Minimizes Pyongyang’s Threat”


Pascal Riche noted in left-of-center Liberation (12/30):  “Has George W. Bush picked the wrong crisis? While his administration is preparing for a war against Iraq, a country that does not have a nuclear bomb...that same administration is also refusing to speak about a ‘crisis’ with North Korea....  Reactions against America’s schizophrenic rhetoric are growing in the experts on the Korean Peninsula state that Pyongyang’s threat is more real than Baghdad’s.”


“A War In The Making Versus Infinite Patience”


Dominique Garraud opined in regional La Charente Libre (12/30):  “America’s different strategies in dealing with Iraq and North Korea cannot be ignored.  The reasons for Washington’s patience with Pyongyang’s military and totalitarian delirium are both numerous and understandable.  North Korea serves as a buffer between China and South Korea, where U.S. forces are still very much present.  But North Korea is also Pakistan’s partner in military nuclear development....  America’s strategy against dictatorships possessing WMD should put Iraq and North Korea in the same category.  Yet this is not the case: on the one hand we have Iraq and a war in the making, on the other North Korea and infinite patience.”


“Caught Off Guard”


Gerard Dupuy wrote in left-of-center Liberation (12/27):  “Bush’s simplistic and Manichean image of an ‘Axis of Evil’ makes us nod in agreement only if we admit that the Iraqi, Iranian (in part) and North Korean leaders are indeed real bad guys, unscrupulous and dangerous....  Of the three the Asian leader is the least well known but not the least menacing....  Bush has been caught off guard as the situation escalates with Iraq. What the American president has admonished Iraq for doing on the sly - making and hiding WMDs - North Korea not only openly says it has been doing but gives the U.S. president the finger in the process. Bush has been dared to react with the same intransigence towards North Korea as with Iraq.”


“Bush’s Three-way War”


Economics-oriented Les Echos' unsigned editorial read (12/27):  “Donald Rumsfeld clearly let it be known that the U.S. is capable of continuing the fight against terrorism as well as wage two regional wars at the same time.  U.S. forces continue to surround Iraq and are planning operations in Yemen. All the while the North Korean crisis is becoming a full-blown conflict. Yesterday the IAEA...pulled the alarm saying that it could no longer control the situation. In this context, it will be difficult for the U.S. to repeat that it intends to rely on a diplomatic solution to the problem.” 


GERMANY:  “Korean Lessons”


Nikolas Busse noted in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (1/6):  “A U.S. paper recently cited a high-ranking U.S. official as saying that North Korea’s military capabilities limit U.S. military options.  That is precisely the difference between the North Korea of today and that of half a year ago.  When the United States developed its strategy against ‘rogue states,’ it believed that Pyongyang was still without nuclear weapons.  Now that North Korea has admitted to owning such weapons, the strategic balance has shifted dramatically....  This is the problem with proliferation....  A poor developing country like North Korea has gained a degree of influence on the international stage that has nothing to do with its actual standing.  What makes the situation in North Korea particularly worrisome is that Pyongyang now has the freedom to push ahead with the sale of other developing nations.  For now, President Bush has to play along....  German foreign policy experts...should study the example of North Korea carefully - it is a fine example of why Iraq should be disarmed, if necessary with military force.”


“Nightmare North Korea”


Dietrich Alexander observed in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (1/3):  “President Bush does not want to burn his fingers with North Korea.  His policy toward the ‘axis of evil’ is hard to understand for many observers.  Isn’t North Korea a greater danger than Iraq?  The country has expelled IAEA inspectors; it has restarted its old graphite reactors to produce weapons-grade plutonium and continues its nuclear weapons program.  North Korea is a bankrupt nuclear power, which makes it so dangerous.  President Bush has many reasons for making a distinction between Iraq and North Korea:  Pyongyang is well-armed, has 1.2 million soldiers, and owns nuclear missiles.  Korea is still an American trauma, and it would be difficult to convince the American public to sacrifice thousands of soldiers for another war.  The United States cannot and does not want to be omnipresent.  It accepts help where it makes sense – even if that help comes from China.”




Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine observed (12/31):  ”Beijing has promised to use its influence in North Korea, and Russia is demanding that Pyongyang stick to all international agreements.  Both China and Russia must feel reassured by Secretary Powell’s statement that an attack on North Korea is not on the U.S. agenda.  It is now their task to contain this potential crisis along their borders.  After all, nobody knows how long the United States will continue to steer a relatively moderate course.  The situation on the Korean peninsula is difficult, the risks are high.  The United States cannot really protect South Korea.  Even if the North refrained from using its nuclear weapons, a conventional military strike against Seoul would be disastrous.  North Korea’s ‘friends’ have to step up to the plate.”


“North Korea’s Neighbors Do Not Want Escalation”


Roland Heine pointed out in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (12/31):  “There has been much speculation lately about what Pyongyang wants to achieve with its confrontational course.  Less attention has been paid to the question of why the Bush administration has been strictly opposed to direct talks with North Korea....  The regime in Pyongyang allows the United States to justify its enormous troop presence in the South.  If tensions disappear, so will the reasons for 37,000 soldiers in the region, and the United States would lose one of its strategic pillars in Asia....  On the other hand, the United States is not the only country active in the Northeast Asia.  China and Russia...are not interested in an escalation, and neither are the U.S. allies in the region--Japan and South Korea.  This status quo opens up the possiblity of political solution for the crisis.  North Korea would hardly be able to ignore a shared diplomatic effort by Russia, China, and the United States.  Such a scenario, however, does not look very likely right now.  It appears as if Washington is planning to isolate North Korea until it collapses.”


“Sanctions Are Not Enough”


Kathrin Hille pointed out in business-oriented Financial Times Deutschland of Hamburg (12/30):  “The United States wants to deprive North Korea of its economic potential.  This approach is meant to force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program and to bring down the regime in the end.  Neither hope is justified.  Even in times of famine, North Korea has always succeeded in feeding its officials and soldiers as well as pushing ahead with its weapons programs....  The United States must adopt a clear position, also vis-à-vis China.  Washington needs to convey to Beijing that it cannot use North Korea as a buffer against U.S. influence and avoid trouble with the United States....  It is time for China to accept global responsibility.  Beijing and Washington could work together in developing a new order for the Korean peninsula.”


“A Guarantee For Kim Jong-il?”


Peter Sturm said in a front-page editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (12/27):  “This North Korean provocation is senseless.  Even if the U.S. attention centers on the conflict with Iraq, North Korea cannot hope producing a nuclear deterrence potential on time in order to negotiate from a position of strength with the United States.  But such negotiations are the real goal of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-il....  If we tried to watch the world from North Korean glasses, the result would be a frightening picture:  enemies all around North Korea.  This constellation reveals a second reason for the violation of the 1994 framework agreement:  It is said that Kim Jong-il...hopes to negotiate this by pursuing a course of nuclear blackmail....  But since Kim is not interpreting the international situation correctly, the question is who could urge Kim to leave his dangerous course.  In this respect we must look at China but also at Russia....  Moscow allegedly offered the United States its service as mediator.  It would be worth an attempt since Russia could offer North Korea something.”


“Strike The United States, Hit Europe”


Centrist Der Tagesspiegel of Berlin judged (12/27):  “The communist stone age regime in North Korea is doing everything to provoke the U.S. government.  And it only confirms the U.S. view that the international architecture of treaties is not enough to prevent dangers....  And that is why the Europeans must feel duped even more than the United States.  Those who, like North Korea, violate treaties weaken the things in which the Europeans have believed since WW II:  that conflicts of interests can be resolved in mutual respect and in treaties.”


“Play With Fire”


Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich noted (12/23):  “North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-il is playing a dangerous game.  He is trying to irritate the United States with nuclear threat until it is willing for new talks....  We can easily imagine further provocations that Kim could hatch.  He could now call upon the IAEA inspectors to leave the country, then he could re-activate the nuclear power plant, and continue the construction of another reactor right next to the old one.  With every headline in the media, pressure on the United States and its allies to deal with the almost bankrupt communist regime again will grow.  Pyongyang considers this a chance to force the United States to make economic and political concessions.  This is a dangerous poker game since the United States could again resort to Bill Clinton’s bombing plans since it lacks any other ideas [how to cope with North Korea].  Thus far, George W. Bush said that he, unlike in Iraq, does not seek a military solution.  But with every further North Korean defiant action, Washington’s arguments are disputed that diplomacy in the case of North Korea can have an effect.”


ITALY:  “North Korea Wrong-Foots Kofi Annan”


An editorial in elite, classical liberal Il Foglio commented (1/3):  “The Bush Administration has delivered the usual statements of condemnation, but it does not consider the Korean bluff to be too dangerous and does not want to encourage the anti-American feelings that are already so strong in South Asia, talking, instead, of the need for a diplomatic solution.  George W. Bush does not want to be distracted from his main goal, the disarmament of Iraq, even though he is making it known that he is in a position to wage more wars simultaneously.  At this point the United Nations, and particularly its Secretary General, is caught wrong-footed.  What is being obviously rejected (by North Korea) is a very clear U.N. resolution, but if the Americans don’t threaten a punishment, Kofi Annan cannot possibly play his usual role as a pacifier and moderator of U.S. unilateralism, while the other members of the UNSC do not know what to do.  Furthermore, Saddam Hussein’s media are adding to the fire, by denouncing that ‘North Korea is kicking out U.N. inspectors.’  They are obviously doing so to emphasize Iraqi ‘collaboration,’ but the result is that of showing the impotence of the United Nations in the absence of a decision (and troops) by Washington.”


“Putin Warns Pyongyang: You Risk A Lot With The United States”


Washington correspondent Alberto Pasolini Zanelli wrote in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (12/31):  “America is trying to bang its fist on North Korea’s table through a third party, no matter whether Chinese, South Korean, Japanese or Russian.  Washington’s hands, in fact, are already too full in preparing a war against Iraq.  The diplomatic appeal to the above improbable and heterogeneous ‘partners’ seems to be producing the first results--from Moscow, the most far away of Pyongyang’s ‘neighbors.’  The Kremlin has issued a warning--perhaps not tough enough for Bush, but explicit: mind you, by engaging in a race to nuclear weapons against the American giant, you risk disaster, and, furthermore, you are destabilizing the Far East where, albeit marginally, we are also present.  Moscow’s message is not exactly that of a mediator, but is not an ultimatum either: Putin is doing what he can, just as he tried to do, more or less in vain, with Iraq.”


“The Nuclear Weapon Can Wait”


An analysis by Livio Caputo in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale said (12/30):  "Notwithstanding the statements to the contrary issued by Secretary Rumsfeld, not even the United States is in a position to wage simultaneously two wars in two different areas of the world....  Kim Jong II is aware of that, and that is why he can afford to raise his voice: to respond to his defiance now would mean, for Washington, to put itself in a position of serious disadvantage.  Better, for now, to delegate the solution of the problem to the United Nations, and to give Moscow, Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul the time to try a mediation....  Kim Jong II, the last Stalinist dictator still alive, has instead provoked South Korea, Japan and the United States several times, but has always stopped at the verge of the abyss....  It is much more likely that Kim is carrying out his own personal strategy of calculated risk, with the goal of bringing the United States to the negotiating table, obtain from it the much sought treaty of non-aggression and exchange his renunciation to build nuclear weapons for more economic aid.”


“North Korea, Nuclear Blackmail To Dialogue With Bush”


Centrist, influential La Stampa opined (12/23): “Like an active volcano, albeit not in a phase of eruption, North Korea continues to spoil the dreams of the Western world....  Alarm and uneasiness over Pyongyang’s attitude have grown over the last few days after the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has denounced that TV cameras monitoring the North Korean nuclear reactor at Yongbyon have been de-activated....  The United States does not want to open another front as it is getting ready to attack Baghdad, and tried to minimize, pointing out that it has not seen signs of a resumption of activities around the plant.  At this point, the Japanese have offered to resolve the problem, and Japanese diplomats yesterday made it known that they are exploring ways to resume talks with North Korea....  And there should be good news for North Korea even from South Korea in the wake of the recent election of Roh Moo-hyun....  But all these signs cannot balance the growing disagreements that are shaping up between North Korea and its former  Chinese ally.”


RUSSIA:  "Security Council Will Drag Pyongyang On The Carpet"


Vladimir Bogdanov wrote in the government-run Rossiiskaya Gazeta (12/31):  "In the course of a telephone conversation the Russian and Chinese foreign ministers have stressed that they 'consider contributing to the resumption of a balanced and constructive dialogue between the U.S. and the DPRK to be a priority.'  They also spoke for the preservation of the non-nuclear status of the Korean Peninsula and continued regime of nuclear non-proliferation there.  The two ministers noted that an important element in the stabilization of the situation could be the adoption by the Organization for Korean Energy Development of a decision to resume supplies of fuel oil to the DPRK simultaneously with Pyongyang's freezing of its nuclear program."


"Pyongyang's Bluster"


Maria Seleznyova wrote in liberal Novye Izvestia (12/30):  "To use undiplomatic language, North Korea is just 'playing tricks'....  The world powers have confined themselves to calling for a negotiated solution to the Korean nuclear issue.  Pyongyang appears not to hear these appeals or, on the contrary, hears what the rest of the world does not.  The statements coming out of the country look like a response to serious threats.  But no one is threatening Korea at this stage."


"U.S. To Deal With North Korea Next Summer"


Natalia Babasian wrote in reformist Izvestiya (12/27):  "The game that Pyongyang has been playing may have very grave consequences for the North Koreans.   According to Ivan Safronchuk of the Center for Defense Information, Washington has its hands full now.  The Administration will take on North Korea, but not before next spring or summer.   By that time the United States may be annoyed by the DPRK's unruly behavior so much, a dialogue may never come about."


"Now Is Different From 50 Years Ago"


Yaroslav Yastrebov said in centrist army-run Krasnaya Zvezda (12/26):  "The United States is in earnest about implementing its plan to destroy the axis of evil.   North Korea's nuclear program is too plausible an excuse for Washington not to use it.   But nobody knows how stiff the DPRK's resistance is going to be.   We live in an entirely different world, and there is no telling if a new conflict will end in a draw like the one 50 years ago. Were a war to break out, the casualties might be global."


AUSTRIA:  “Images”


Senior columnist Ernst Trost stated in mass-circulation tabloid Kronen Zeitung (12/27):  “Satellite pictures of North Korean nuclear facilities clearly reveal their overwhelming crisis potential. However, instead of tough talk from Washington, diplomacy would probably be more suitable in order to prevent the worst.”


CZECH REPUBLIC:  "Bitter Villain"


Petr Pesek commented in center-right Lidove Noviny (12/23):  "Isn't this annoying? North Koreans coldly confess in front of members of the U.S. delegation that they continue developing nuclear weapons. The Stalinists in Pyongyang hope that they will force the Republicans in the White House to start negotiating with them seriously. However, the Americans have some other business to do now several thousand miles away (from the North Korea). But it is not ruled out that if North Koreans keep pushing, they will live to see the desired attention."


HUNGARY:  “A Two-Front War?”


Senior columnist Janos Avar held in weekend Vasarnapi Hirek (12/29):  "According to experts the North-Korean dictator, of his own volition, is mistakenly blackmailing Washington...with the threat to restart its nuclear program.  But Pyongyang only wants to renew the stalled dialogue.  Unexpectedly a new, two-front war-like situation has developed.  The situation is a verification of the Bush government’s position: that evil regimes are unpredictable, therefore they are dangerous.  The North Korean leader hopes dialogue, money, food and energy supplies will result from the blackmail.  But Kim’s move has pushed not Washington but Seoul into panic.  Seoul is literally shooting distance from North Korea.  Considered from this perspective Pyongyang is a more acute danger than Baghdad.  It would be quite difficult to stop the vast North Korean army, at least in the beginning.  President Bush might even use nuclear weapons.  But the Bush administration is careful.  Its response to North-Korea’s blackmail is to make first all possible diplomatic efforts to handle the situation.”


"An Ugly Nuclear Story”


Renowned columnist Endre Aczel concluded in top-circulation Nepszabadsag (12/27):  “By 'recalling' the threatening conditions of 1994, the North Koreans want to blackmail the Bush administration; that is, to turn U.S.-North Korean relations in the “good direction” again.  Kim Jong Il had expected that the Americans would, sooner or later, recognize them, and even sign a non-aggression pact with them; instead, came the freezing of the talks and excommunication....  The tacit confirmation of the right to possess nuclear weapons [North Korea] had always had a claim to is the only trump card this miserable country has. In response, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, well known for his sanguinary character, said that America was ready for even a two-front war....  The conflict is escalating verbally.”


IRELAND: "Time For Decisive Action To Solve The Korean Problem Once And For All"


Jasper Becker wrote in the liberal Irish Times (12/31):  "North Korea's Kim Jong Il is more of a monster than Saddam Hussein....  Kim Jong Il wants to be assured that his state will not disappear like East Germany and that he will not end up like the Ceausescus in Romania. Yet, realistically, he can never voluntarily abandon the weapons of mass destruction, because they provide the only reliable guarantee that Washington will never go back on its word. Giving Kim such guarantees is so morally repugnant, in view of his record, that President Bush has rejected this strategy out of hand. Equally, it is out of the question, especially after Mr Roh's election, for the US to unilaterally prepare an invasion. Without the full backing of South Korea, Washington cannot realistically threaten war, and Pyongyang knows this. Yet there is a third alternative. Kim Jong Il must be faced with a UN ultimatum endorsed by all the great powers. This time round, the US and South Korea must persuade Europe, Japan, Russia and China to speak and act with one voice. Kim should be presented with a coherent list of demands and a timetable which covers not just strategic nuclear issues but the entire spectrum of domestic policies. Kim should be singled out and held personally responsible for any failure to comply by the threat of arrest and trial. At the same time, he should be encouraged to leave the country and, if necessary, even be offered a comfortable retirement."


"The Korean Threat"


The conservative, populist Irish Independent declared (12/28):  "We are right, of course, to be deeply concerned about new developments in North Korea....  It represents a threat to South Korea and, if provoked by aggressive actions from the U.S., could take its revenge on its southern neighbour with serious repercussions in the region.  But talk by the U.S. of war at this early stage borders on the ludicrous.  Donald Rumsfeld's remark on Thursday about America being 'capable of fighting two major regional conflicts' is also deeply alarming.  He has the unnerving capability of adopting a position of extreme prejudice and then tempering it with a fallback position that is ameliorative.....  Odious though the Iraq regime may appear to us, its threats are turned inward....  Ironically, North Korea represents a more serious military threat, both in terms of being a supplier of nuclear missile technology and equipment and of being highly aggressive and vitriolic towards its neighbours, notably Japan and South Korea....  In both cases the value of diplomacy over military aggression should be clear to us all."


LITHUANIA:  "What Pyongyang Wants, Washington Does Not"


Editorialist Egle Digryte noted in second-largest Lithuanian-language Respublika (12/31):  "North Korea has become a ticking bomb.  As it turned out, they have been scrupulessly violating the agreements and secretly executing the nuclear weapons production program.  But the biggest concern is the political situation in this country. The Dear Leader suspects that America is interested in removing him from power, so foreign relations with the U.S. isn't diplomacy to him--it's the strategy of survival.  There is only one problem--it remains unclear what is it that Pyongyang wants.  Probably they are seeking another nonaggression pact and support of the U.S., but America emphatically rejects this....  The previous U.S. Administration sent a peace messenger...President Jimmy Carter.  After his trip to Korea in 1994 the reactors were shut down....  Maybe it's time for another trip to Pyongyang?"


NORWAY:  “North Korea’s Nuclear Drama”


Independent Dagbladet commented (12/30):  "Some speculations are that North Korea with its aggressive line first and foremost wishes to force the US into negotiations, not least about new oil deliveries. The super power USA will not very likely be forced and in the meantime South Korea hopes for help from Russia, China and the EU to solve the crisis....  The Americans can’t bomb every country that develops nuclear weapons. Then they finally will have to bomb Israel and themselves.”


POLAND:  “Unbearable Invariability Of Politics”


Marcin Krol wrote in centrist Rzeczpospolita (1/4-5):  “As it turns out, foreign policy has not changed much for at least a couple of centuries. A merely moderate reaction to North Korea’s decision [to resume its nuclear program] is the result of everyone thinking that this country is not going to use its weapons.  But by declaring its intention to resume work on weapons production, it only tries to ensure best bargaining position before inevitable negotiations with South Korea....  North Korea has applied a typical foreign policy tactic to obtain something it could use as a bargaining chip.”


PORTUGAL:  "Fleeting Brilliance"


Influential moderate-left Público deputy editor-in-chief Nuno Pacheco noted (1/5):  "When Communism's star shone at the height of its power on an international scale, it was customary to say that imperialism was a paper tiger....  The North Korea of Kim now involved in a worrying arm-wrestling match with the old American 'paper tiger'....  The same North Korea that is challenging the world (and not just the United States) a country weakened by the dementedness of its leaders....  So what sustains this verbal escalation by those leaders?....  The near certainty that it would be very tough for the United States (despite Rumsfeld's equally discardable boasting) to risk a war on Asian territory....  Which does not mean, in any case, [USG] softening or surrender.  It happens, however, that the U.S. will maintain the pressure in the international arena, while other parties interested in resolving the conflict come forward as credible mediators."


SWEDEN:  "Threats In Christmas Time"


Independent, liberal Stockholm-based Dagens Nyheter ran a signed editorial by foreign editor Per Ahlin stating (12/27):  "This X-Mas was again a holiday during which the world unfortunately seemed painfully the same time as the world's attention remained focused on the threat of Baghdad, Pyongyang was trying to qualify for the same evil league....  The North Korean regime should be regarded as an equally dangerous threat to peace and security as the one in Baghdad....  The Korean Peninsula is perhaps the most dangerous powder keg in the world, and any military attack against North Korea might trigger a disaster worse than even pessimists would imagine. The only available alternatives to military force are negotiations and dexterous diplomacy."




ISRAEL:  "From Nasser to Kim"


Conservative, independent Jerusalem Post editorialized (12/29):  "The Bush administration's options are dwindling rapidly.  To give in to North Korea's threats would strike a catastrophic blow to U.S. credibility in the region without improving the security situation.  And North Korea has shown that it cannot be trusted to abide by negotiated settlements.  A military resolution to the crisis thus appears increasingly likely.  Destroying the Yongbyon facility in an Osirak-like raid [referring to the Israel Air Force's 1981 strike against Iraq's nuclear reactor] is the most plausible scenario, though this risks a full-scale North Korean invasion of the South, with catastrophic civilian casualties.  More forceful action--including the destruction of North Korea's air force and ballistic missile sites--may pose greater operational risks, but it also diminishes the likelihood that North Korea will be able to mount a response.  As Israel's leadership discovered in June 1967, so America's leadership is discovering today: preemption is sometimes the only recourse.  If the risks seem great now, they will only multiply in the future, at an ever-increasing cost to global security."


"The Far East Deficit"


Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev Schiff wrote in independent Ha'aretz (12/27):  "What is the difference between the North Korean threat and the Iraqi one, and which of them is more dangerous to international stability?  The North Koreans provoke the world more openly than the Iraqis, but make it clear they expect negotiations, perhaps even extorting a non-attack agreement with Washington....  The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, like international terrorism, is a global rather than a regional problem....  North Korea cannot be treated as the Far East's problem alone, because it is the main supplier of missiles and technological nuclear knowhow to the Middle East.  The key question is how other states in the region would react if they find North Korea has nuclear weapons and missiles with a range of thousands of kilometers.  Would this trigger a domino effect as other states try to get on the nuclear track?"


SAUDI ARABIA:  “Who Will Pay The Bill For America’s Haste?”


Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina opined  (12/30):  “Tokyo and Seoul might become the first targets of a nuclear strike in the upcoming war in the Korean peninsula.  The American escalation might raise the anger of Japan and South Korea since Washington subjects the safety of the two nations to dangers without taking into consideration the special needs and direct interests of its two allies.  In any case the president of North Korea must have enough time to exercise political blackmail against his scared neighbors without any fear from the storming of American power towards him at the present time.  The American president has set his clock on Baghdad time.”


SYRIA:  "Pyongyang Dialogue"


Riad Zein commented in government-owned Syria Times (1/5):  "Pyongyang's call for dialogue is constructive and does not mean blocking the file before international initiatives.  The ball is now in the American court. Unless Washington resorts to reason and logic and accepts an open dialogue for settling the crisis, consequences will not be good for the interests of the peoples in the whole of Korea and the world at large."


"Washington and Pyongyang"


Mohamed al-Khudr, a commented in government-owned Al-Ba'th (12/30):  "Pyongyang's decision to revive its nuclear activities was a strong blow to the U.S. Administration....  The importance of the Korean step lies in its timing which came one month after the beginning of inspections in Baghdad amidst a warlike atmosphere that Washington hasn't witnessed for a whole century and preparations that have reached an advanced level in the last couple days.  The U.S. administration's irritated tone against Pyongyang has not hidden the strong echo caused by the Korean stand.  Such a stand enjoyed extensive international sympathy.  It was a sovereign decision that reconciles with international norms on one hand, and was a response to the U.S. double standard policy of threatening Iraq, Iran, Korea...under the pretext of producing WMD at a time it sponsors Israel's nuclear arsenal....  Possibilities remain open in all directions.  Pyongyang confirmed that it will continue to develop its national program heedless of the drums of war.  It expressed its readiness to face power with power while President Bush finds himself in a critical position. Force is impermissible in that region close to the Chinese pole on the eastern Russian frontiers, and close to Tokyo and Seoul."


TUNISIA:   "The Limits Of The New World Order"


Editor Mohamed Ali Ben Rejeb declared in independent French-language Le Quotidien (1/6):  "Should the Arab countries possess their own nuclear bomb? Should we follow the North Korean example, which successfully challenged the Americans by relaunching the nuclear armament program? Or should we, for the sake of peace, put up with the American hegemony and run the risk of having the same fate as the Iraqi one? It is very important to raise these questions when we see the differing treatment the U.S. is according to two international

crises: North Korea, which has nuclear arms, and Iraq, which does not....  The United States has become the only master of the world and has made the new world order....  Today, North Korea has proved the limits of this new world order by brandishing a nuclear threat. Pyongyang cut short the American hegemonic speed....  Hence, North Korea confirms that nuclear arms are the only way to slow down the United States. It constitutes the only way to make it on the international scene....  On the other hand analysts think that the U.S. is threatening Iraq because it does not possess nuclear arms....  This is how things work. But shall we take it as a model? Opinions diverge between peace and the race to terror and the choice is clear.  Peace constitutes the purpose of the international community. However, the price of peace should not be humiliations founded on injustice."




AUSTRALIA:  “North Korea Must Be Given A Clear Message”


An editorial in the liberal Age urged (1/3):  “The world community must act quickly to halt this rollercoaster to catastrophe. It is unlikely that economic sanctions will have effect, beyond furthering the misery of North Korea's 22 million people. The UN has influence in North Korea, mainly due to the work of its agencies involved in providing food and other aid, without which the regime would have long since collapsed. It must use it....  Australia reopened diplomatic ties with North Korea in 2000. Our government must also use the channels of diplomatic communications it has opened to best possible effect.”


“Carrot And Stick To Reign In Kim”


An op-ed from Alan Dupont of the Australian National University's Strategic and Defense Studies Center in the national conservative Australian read (1/2):  “Pyonyang’s admission that it has been working on a covert nuclear weapons program and its decision to expel International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors from its Yongbyon nuclear facility guarantees that North Korea will join Iraq and international terrorism as Australia's key security concerns this year....  A coercive mix of smart sanctions, tailored containment, diplomatic pressure and a UN Security Council resolution citing North Korea for breaches of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the 1994 Agreed Framework will be needed....  Bush must confront the same stark choice that his predecessors faced. He can engage the Stalinist state in direct talks to resolve the nuclear impasse or isolate it and risk a greater evil - that North Korea will collapse precipitately, spurring an outflow of refugees and raising the prospect of more loose nukes. Ultimately, engagement is the only sensible choice. This is the message that Australia must convey to the U.S.”


CHINA:  “China’s Role In Resolving The DPRK’s Nuclear Crisis”


Lian Qingchuan commented in official Southern Daily Newspaper Group publication 21st Century World Herald (Ersiyi Shiji Huanqiu Baodao) (1/6):  “In fact, it is in China’s national interest that China should help resolve the nuclear crisis.  The changes caused by the nuclear crisis to the East Asian nuclear setup will obviously lead to a more fearful future for China?Apparently, the wisest method to avoid such a future is to persuade the DPRK to give up its nuclear program.  To act as a buffer state and mediator in the U.S.-DPRK confrontation is a method not only to ease the crisis but also to avoid the long-term menace caused by the changeable situation on the Korean Peninsula is in China’s national interest."


"The U.S. Is Able To Win Several Wars Simultaneously: U.S. High Level Officials Made The Statement That The U.S. Would Not Attack Iraq And The DPRK At The Same Time.”


Da Wei observed official Communist Party-run international publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (1/6):  "Will the U.S. take military actions against Iraq and the DPRK at the same time?  It is almost certain that the answer is no.  In many cases, a war is not just a military issue but rather a political issue.  Whether or not the U.S. will launch a war against the DPRK is a political issue that influences the whole world.  Rumsfeld’s tough stance is obviously just to assume a political air and launch a psychological war against the DPRK.”


"Uncertainty Surrounds Korean Peninsula"


Hu Xuan wrote in the official English-language China Daily (1/3):  “Designating the DPRK as a ‘rogue state’ and a part of the "axis of evil," the hawkish Bush administration has maintained a high-pressure policy on the DPRK. However, Washington has to be cautious about waging two wars simultaneously, given it has been preparing a military strike against Baghdad.  Military intervention is obviously not a wise option, which Washington itself recognizes. A peaceful settlement through dialogue and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, as advocated by China and other countries concerned, is in the interests of all parties.”


“How To Resolve The Nuclear Crisis On The Korean Peninsula”


Li Dunqiu, Secretary General and Researcher at the Chinese Institute of Korean Peninsula History, commented in the official popular Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnianbao) (12/30):  “Whether, or not, the crisis can be resolved mainly relies on the U.S.’ attitude and stance....  If the U.S. wants to resolve this crisis smoothly, it must give up its airs, abandon the superpower mentality and consult and cooperate with the countries concerned equally, so the nuclear crisis between the U.S. and the DPRK can be resolved through peaceful means.”


“A Hawkish and Dangerous Threat”


Chong Zi commented in the official English-language China Daily (12/27):  “There is little doubting the United States’ capability to handle two wars or more at the same time.  Commenting on the latest approach to the nuclear issue by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned on Monday that his country could deal with a conflict with Iraq and another foe.  This hawkish and dangerous warning will poison the warming relations between the two sides on the Korean Peninsula....  U.S. President George W. Bush showed hostile intent when he included the DPRK in his rhetorical invention of an ‘axis of evil.’  He has refused to heed Pyongyang’s requests for negotiations that could lead to a peace treaty.   Settlement of the issue depends on concessions and good faith from the two parties, rather than threat of use of force.”


CHINA (HONG KONG & MACAU SARS):  "A Crisis Created By Coercion"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post said (1/5):  "To characterize the past week's diplomatic activity over North Korea's determination to restart its nuclear program as a flurry would be an understatement.  China, South Korea, Japan and Russia have joined the offensive with the U.S. to convince Pyongyang to see reason.  North Korea's friends and foes have never before seen eye-to-eye on any issue.  But in the new era of co-operation against terrorism, the prospect of nuclear proliferation on the Korean peninsula has them scurrying to formulate a strategy....  The U.S. decision not to negotiate with North Korea until its nuclear programs are scrapped has worsened the crisis.  Washington has now decided that pressure from surrounding countries -- through measures such as sanctions -- will be a better approach.  South Korea has also embarked on a diplomatic offensive, trying to convince China and Russia, the North's closest allies, to harden the pressure.  The reality, though, is that the solution rests with the U.S. It is not a matter of coercion, but of dialogue."


"Pressuring Pyongyang"


Jim Wolf wrote in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (1/4):  "President George W. Bush has left scant doubt that he is banking largely on China to help avert a crisis over North Korea's nuclear ambitions....  Russia, Japan, South Korea and others are also being pressed by U.S. officials to use their influence.  But China is North Korea's largest trading partner, supplying more than 70 per cent of the country's energy needs.  U.S. officials say China probably has the most leverage of any country.  But they were uncertain just how hard Beijing was prepared to squeeze its ally.  Beijing has taken the rare step of publicly denouncing Pyongyang for moving to resume its nuclear program.  Above all, Mr. Bush's comments appeared to reflect a conclusion that a pre-emptive U.S. strike on the North's nuclear facilities was not a viable option.  Such a strike likely would plunge the Korean peninsula into a war that could devastate the South and risk the 37,000 U.S. troops stationed there, as well as threaten Japan.  But fresh signs of strain emerged this week between the U.S., which hopes to contain Pyongyang with a mix of carrots and sticks, and regional players, notably South Korea's president-elect, Roh Moo-hyun."


"Opinion Varies About Nuclear Weapons Crisis; No Decision Can Be Reached Yet"


The pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News editorialized (12/29):  "The DPRK is adopting such tough measures because it wants to seize the opportunity--the U.S. is busy with Iraq and has no time to deal with it; Japan and South Korea fear that war will destroy their prosperity; and the contradictions between China, Russia and the U.S.--to challenge the U.S., forcing it to abandon its hostile policy toward the DPRK and pushing the U.S. to reach a series of deals with it.  This would include realizing normalization of relations between the two, signing an agreement of mutual non-intervention, providing economic assistance to the DPRK and promising to respect the DPRK's sovereign integrity.  It would then give up its nuclear weapons plan....  The Russian government recently raised one suggestion:  Russia, China and the U.S. can provide the DPRK with alternative security protection in order to solve the nuclear crisis in the DPRK.  This seems to be a more practical suggestion among various opinions.  The only question is: Is the U.S. interested?"


"All We Are Saying, Mr. Bush, Is Give Peace A Chance"


Jake van der Kamp said in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (12/26):  "Christmas, a time for the gospel of peace, one unfortunately disturbed at the moment by rumors of war.  Let me see now:  Who were the members of that quadruple axis again?  Bush, Cheney, Powell and von Rumsfeld, wasn't it?  The story coming across the news wires has it that N. Korea has broken its promises by starting up its nuclear reactors again so that it can produce atom bombs.  But what of N. Korea's position that it had built the reactors to provide needed electricity, that it had shut them down on the promise from the United States that it would instead get oil for electricity production and that it has been forced to restart them because President George Bush has cut off the oil shipments?  And, even if it is true that N. Korea has once again engaged in nuclear weapons research, is it not a sovereign nation and does it not have as much right to so as the United States?...  If he [President Bush] wishes to resolve a threat from Pyongyang to international peace he would do much better to talk peace....  Certainly a smaller risk than...further antagonising a country that shows every sign of being quick on the trigger.  What does it matter that the U.S. could quickly win any war with North Korea?....  All we are saying, Mr. Bush, is give peace a chance."


JAPAN: "U.S., South Korea Should Hurry to Coordinate Policies"


An editorial in liberal Asahi observed (1/3):  "The DPRK has been intensifying its nuclear brinkmanship by expulsing two IAEA inspectors from Yongbyon. Now, the world community needs to send a clear message to the North that nuclear bluffing is no longer warrantable. Closer solidarity and policy coordination have become all the more necessary for countries concerned to force the North to give up on its nuclear program. Although the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is a common goal pursued by the U.S., Japan, South Korea, China and Russia, the U.S. and South Korea are visibly at odds over the ways and means of de-nuclearization.  South Korean President-elect Roh...has cast doubt on the Bush administration's containment policy against the North. The North's brinkmanship is a time bomb that could explode into a large-scale military clash....  If such a military clash occurs, it will hit South Korea the hardest. That is the reason why South Korea is distancing itself from the hard-line U.S. stance and calling for the continuation of dialogue. Japan, China and Russia will also suffer from serious spin-off effects from the military clash. The U.S. should coordinate policies with South Korea at an early date and, if necessary, Japan should act as a go-between." 


"DPRK Should Resume Normalization Talks With Japan"


Liberal Mainichi editorialized (12/30):  "The outcome of the Sept. 17 Koizumi-Kim Jong Il one-on-one turned out to be the exact opposite of what Kim had expected: the resumption of normalization talks with Japan and getting Japan's economic assistance to get his state's ailing economy back on its feet.  The 'bluff' diplomacy the North has been showing since the breakup of normalization talks over the abduction issue and the U.S. halt of heavy fuel oil shipments following the North's admission of its covert nuke program has been far from effective, as the Bush administration has not yielded an inch to Pyongyang's nuclear brinkmanship....  Kim should call to mind Koizumi's proposal at the meeting that the North prepare not for war but for enriching the nation.  There is no light at the end of the tunnel for a continuing hard-line stance by the DPRK."


"World Community Should Join Hands To Force DPRK To Scrap Nuke Program"


Business-oriented Nihon Keizai observed (12/29):  "The DPRK's expulsion of two IAEA inspectors from Yongbyon appears to be another part of North Korea's nuclear brinkmanship that is designed to bring the U.S. to the negotiating table.  But given the fact that the Bush administration has reiterated the North's abandonment of its nuke development as the only condition for resuming talks, Pyongyang is more likely to further escalate its nuclear brinkmanship.  The U.S., Japan, South Korea and other members of the international community should join hands to prevent the North from reenacting another nuclear crisis similar to the 1993 crisis.  In order to stop Pyongyang's nuclear experiment, the U.S. should maintain channels of communications, while China and Russia should also play appropriate and strong roles to nip the nuclear crisis in the bud." 


"China, Russia Less Eager To Apply Pressure On DPRK"


Conservative Sankei's Beijing correspondent Ito observed (12/26):  "In response to the DPRK's removal of UN seals and surveillance cameras from its nuclear facilities, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has said that the U.S. is capable of simultaneously waging two major regional conflicts (against Iraq and the DPRK). But the Bush administration is opting for putting diplomatic pressure - in cooperation with China and Russia - on North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions.  The question is whether or to what extent the U.S. can seek strong help from Beijing and Moscow in seeking a diplomatic solution to the North's nuke program. Given the prudence and even reluctance of the two former communist giants that are apparently eager to protect and even expand their interests in the reclusive Stalinist state, it is not likely that Washington will be able to get as much cooperation from Beijing and Moscow as it expects." 


"Nuclear Blackmail Won't Fly"


The leftist English-language Japan Times editorialized (12/26):  "Once again, North Korea is playing a game of nuclear brinkmanship. In an eerie throwback to 1994, when a nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula pushed the United States and North Korea to the brink of war, Pyongyang has removed seals and disabled monitoring cameras at nuclear facilities that had been mothballed under the Agreed Framework with the U.S. Reports from South Korea say North Korean technicians are already working to repair a frozen reactor....  The question now is how the international community, particularly Japan, South Korea and the U.S., should deal with North Korea's renewed nuclear brinkmanship. There are two broad options. One is to continue the "sunshine" policy of engagement that South Korean President-elect Roh Moo Hyun inherited from outgoing President Kim Dae Jung and has pledged to pursue. The other option is to take a hardline policy of the kind being pursued by U.S. President George W. Bush's administration. The three allies, however, are not necessarily united on this question....  It may be that North Korea is expecting South Korea's next president to bring the U.S. back to the bargaining table. But Pyongyang should not, and cannot, expect to get any "concessions" for its violation of nuclear-related agreements. Japan, South Korea and the U.S., in particular, should stay the course, keeping a united diplomatic front, even if Pyongyang escalates its nuclear blackmail. The message is loud and clear: Brinkmanship does not work."


INDONESIA:  “Stance Of New Regime In Seoul Unchanged”


Independent Suara Pembaruan commented (12/30):  "Whoever rules in Seoul will find it difficult to avoid close relations with Washington...due to the country’s democratic system and free market economy...and its limited military personnel (over 500,000) to deal with threats from Pyongyang, which has more than one million troops and its missiles....  With his political style, Roh Moo-Hyun will be popular among the younger generation.  By continuing the ‘sunshine policy’ he will also be accepted by the Leninist Kim Jong-il so that tension in the peninsula can be pressed down.”


MALAYSIA:  "Ain’t no sunshine" 


Government-influenced English-language New Straits Times ran the following editorial (12/27):  "The boisterous politics of the capitalist south...and the surreal Leninist “Dear-Leaderism” of the north...both seek to steer the divided peninsula towards some kind of homecoming reunion — relying almost pitifully much on the wistful "Sunshine Policy” of people-to-people contacts.  Even that is difficult....  A now near-amok United States, however, wants the world to know it can beat up both Iraq and North Korea. And so, statements garbled in translation and disputed information gleaned in whispered asides have led to another damnable world crisis. Pyongyang's statement last month of a right to nuclear weapons was misheard by Washington as an admission that it already had them....  Seoul wants dialogue with Pyongyang. So do Beijing and Tokyo.  There's no doubt where Asean stands. So please will Washington back off and let this issue be dealt with by those who will have to live in and with Korea notwithstanding George W. Bush's triumph of freedom and democracy?"


NORTH KOREA:  "Criminal Nature Of A Nuclear War Fanatic"


Pyongyang's official Korean Central Broadcasting Station editorialized (12/28):  "Nowadays, the United States is carrying out a nuclear putting a nuclear hat on our country, Iran, and Iraq.   [But] the United States is the country that first manufactured nuclear weapons and it is the only country that imposed a nuclear disaster on mankind by actually using nuclear weapons....  Although the United States advocates nuclear arms reduction from outside, actually it does not intend reducing the vast [scale of] nuclear weapons it possesses.  Using all kinds of deceptive methods, the United States is exerting unlimited efforts not only to preserve and maintain the vast nuclear weapons it already possesses but also to develop and produce new types of nuclear weapons....  Since it conducted its first sub-critical nuclear test in 1997, the United States, which continues to press ahead with nuclear tests while fooling international social circles, has conducted scores of these tests up to the present.  Needless to say, this is a challenge against mankind's demand to [conclude] the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and international pledges....  There is no limit when we list U.S. acts as the nuclear villain and the nuclear fanatic.  The logic and dogmatism of U.S.-styled superpowerism--that only the United States has a moral standard with which it can judge right from wrong; only the United States can do everything; and other countries must unconditionally obey the United States' opinions--can never work in today's world."


SINGAPORE:  "Back To The 1994 Deal"


The pro-government English-language Straits Times editorialized (1/3):  "U.S. President George W. Bush has brought much-needed clarity to American handling of North Korea's newest show of bile.  He appeared determined to silence his Korea-policy hawks and congressional critics when he said of Pyongyang's nuclear challenge that 'this is not a military showdown, this is a diplomatic showdown'.  He was confident its reversion to a weapons programme could be handled 'peacefully, through diplomacy.'  The self-control is commendable, considering the past week's turn of events....  It is possible Mr. Bush is only keeping his powder dry for Iraq and President Saddam Hussein, but nevertheless, the moderate tone will go down well in North Asian capitals....  But Mr. Bush has offered no ideas for a diplomatic way out....  Both countries will find it worth their while to consider reviving the pact made inoperative by disclosures last October of a covert Korean uranium-enrichment programme.  Clause 2 enjoined the signatories to 'move towards full normalisation of political and economic relations.'  Within three months of the signing, trade sanctions were to be removed and the normalisation process started.  But congressional opposition meant sanctions were lifted only in 1999....  Pyongyang has been sinned against as much as sinning.  But the US has locked itself into a no-yield position.  But magnanimity is an essential ingredient.  Who first?"


"Both Sides To Concede" 


The pro-government Straits Times editorialized (12/25):  "The contest of will between North Korea and the United States over nuclear arms intentions is heading nowhere for the protagonists....  Mr. Rumsfeld's typically robust talk came across as bombast. Still, Pyongyang would be stupid to ignore the veiled warning that enough is enough....  But Pyongyang is so fixated on a treaty outcome with Washington it may miss good advice for what it is - to its peril. It is the business of President-elect Roh - and China - to ensure Pyongyang does see the folly of its ways.  The US is not to be spared, either. It has to review its inflexible position that it would not negotiate under duress. Since when has America the omnipotent power felt under duress? If Mr. Rumsfeld is to be taken at his word, North Korea would basically be a case of all in a day's work. No, the US should acknowledge Pyongyang would dig in its heels until it has an assurance that showing signs of good faith would be reciprocated. It felt it had - until Mr. George W. Bush became President. Washington needs to find a way of showing some yield - without loss of manhood - to let Pyongyang into the tent."


SOUTH KOREA:  “North Korea Should Take Arbitration Of Global Community Seriously”


Independent Dong-a Ilbo editorialized (1/6):  “The IAEA ad hoc committee meeting in Vienna, the TCOG meeting in Washington, and recent visits to Russia and China by ROK officials show the earnest hopes of the international community that the [North Korean] nuclear problem will be resolved peacefully.  More than ever, North Korea should take note of these gatherings and realize that the global community has begun to deal seriously with the ‘provocation’ of the North.  Pyongyang should first acknowledge that its nuclear program is no longer a matter between itself and the U.S. but an international issue....  The current sentiment is that catastrophic situations must be avoided....  If the North responds positively to dovish moves by the ROK and other countries, the problem will be resolved.  However, if it ignores arbitration efforts, the international community is bound to take hard-line measures.  We hope the North will make the right choice for peace on the Korean Peninsula.”


“Dangerous Perceptions Over North Korea’s Possession Of Nukes”


International news editor Kim Chang-ki opined in conservative Chosun Ilbo (1/4):  “A poll showed that the number of Koreans who do not mind North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons is higher than those who do....  There seem to be two grounds for such a perception.  First, regarding nuclear weapons as a symbol of national strength, these people think it is not such a bad idea for Korea to join the ranks of powerful nuclear nations by allowing North, if not South, Korea to possess nuclear weapons....  The second reason has to do with blind optimism.  That is, although people understand the huge threat posed by nuclear weapons, they doubt the possibility of a real attack by the North against the South....  While weapons in and of themselves do not carry intent, even a weapon created with no intent to attack can become deadly when the possessor of the weapon changes his mind.  The failure by the majority of Korean people to comprehend the threat of North Korean nuclear weapons points to the existence of an incredible security hazard for which the current government is largely to blame.  While we need to avoid blindly promoting a confrontational atmosphere between the two Koreas, we must also remember that guarding our security is an absolute prerequisite.”


“Dialogue, The Basic Solution To North Korea’s Nuclear Issue”


Independent Joongang Ilbo editorialized (1/4):  “The U.S. policy shift from hard-line to moderate in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear threat is conducive to a smooth resolution of the crisis.  However, the U.S. must keep several things in mind if it is to garner the support of China and Russia as well as Korea and Japan in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.  First, the U.S. should exercise absolute prudence in references to the possibility of taking hard-line measures including military action....  Applying pressure on North Korea through dialogue is the best way to deal with its nuclear threat....  Second, it is more desirable for the U.S., a civilized nation, to exercise flexibility instead of focusing on saving its face as the world’s sole superpower....  The U.S. should keep in mind that dialogue and negotiation are prerequisites for a diplomatic resolution....  Finally, the U.S. needs to have a clear understanding of Chairman Kim Jong-il’s significance in North Korea....  The U.S. needs to realize that the more it disparages Chairman Kim, the worse the situation will become.”


“Statement On Resolving NK Nukes Through Dialogue Meaningful”


Moderate Hankook Ilbo editorialized (1/3):  “The Bush Administration is once again discussing resolving the North Korean nuclear issue through dialogue.  It seems that the change in attitude by the U.S., which recently put forward the concept of tailored containment, comes as a response to criticism by ROK President-elect Roh against U.S. unilateralism....  Dealing with the North Korean nuclear problem may be strategically important to the U.S., but for Koreans, it is a dangerous matter of war or peace. Thus, close cooperation between the two sides is necessary.  Washington should consider the fact that respecting the position of the ROKG and its people will expand the effectiveness of its policy towards the North and contribute to improving U.S.-ROK relations…  Meanwhile, President-elect Roh Moo-hyun, in engaging in dialogue with the U.S., should present practical, specific ‘cards’ to ‘win over’ the U.S. while securing positive signals from North Korea.”


“Bush’s ‘Diplomatic Resolution of NK Nukes’ -- The Proper Way”


Government-owned Daehan Maeil noted (1/3):  “U.S. President Bush’s statement on the 31st that the North Korean nuclear issue can be resolved peacefully through diplomatic means is proper and timely.  By eliminating the threat of a military strike, it has given both the U.S. and North Korea justification to negotiate....  Stronger international cooperation against the North’s nukes will most likely increase the effectiveness of a diplomatic approach, and President Bush’s statement will clearly influence IAEA’s decision on the 6th on whether to put the NK issue before the UN Security Council....  Amidst these developments, Washington and Pyongyang should take advantage of the current mood and seek maximum contact for negotiation.  Both sides should be willing to compromise to gain benefits in substance and name.  If concluding a non-aggression pact is not currently feasible, one solution might be for neighboring countries to guarantee peace for North Korea while the North gives up its nuclear development programs.”


“Nuclear Crisis On The Peninsula”


Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (12/31):  “The Bush Administration has reportedly worked out a 'tailored containment strategy' to force the DPRK to abandon its nuclear weapons program by economically isolating the communist country....  Given that Pyongyang has shown no signs of giving up its nuclear ambitions, the current tough showdown between the U.S. and the DPRK will likely continue for the time being, creating crisis on the peninsula. Because this nuclear crisis will severely hurt our economy and jeopardize our national security, the ROKG should put great efforts into finding a peaceful solution while preparing for every possible scenario. In particular, the ROKG should work out measures to significantly strengthen ROK-U.S. cooperation. The fact that the Bush Administration’s ‘tailored containment policy’ reflects no trace of the ROK’s position clearly shows that current U.S.-ROK cooperation is ineffectual.”


“Guarding Against U.S.-ROK Rift On North Korean Nuclear Problem”


Independent Joongang Ilbo editorialized (12/31):  “President Kim Dae-jung said yesterday at a cabinet meeting that ‘repression and isolation were never successful approaches to handling communist states,’ indicating his opposition to the U.S. policy of economic containment toward the North.  Such a stance by Mr. Kim was also echoed by President-elect Roh Moo-hyun, who emphasized the importance of a peaceful resolution through dialogue at a military briefing.  This apparent gap between the U.S. and the ROK over how to handle the North Korean nuclear issue raises our deep concern....  If Pyongyang misjudges the different approach as a crack in the U.S.-ROK alliance and continues to heighten the level of threat toward the United States, a very serious crisis will develop on the peninsula....  The ROKG’s top priority should be to quickly confirm the immutable strength of the U.S.-ROK alliance and to show restraint in actions that might irritate the U.S. and encourage misjudgment from the North.”


“Dangers Of U.S. Containment Policy Toward North Korea”


Pro-government Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (12/31):  “The U.S. containment policy toward the DPRK is a highly dangerous plan that aggravates the situation and does nothing to resolve it.  There is even a hint of arrogance in the U.S. perception that it can demand that the ROK cut off relations with the DPRK.  This constitutes interference in our domestic affairs.  In addition, given the strict, decades-long U.S. trade and financial sanctions against the communist country, there can be no further American economic sanctions. In this sense, Washington, under the pretext of ‘policy cooperation,’ might now be seeking a measure to force its allies--including the ROK, Japan, China and Russia--to break economic relations with Pyongyang, so it can intensify its own economic pressure.  The United States is also reportedly considering ‘naval blockades’ on the DPRK as an additional step to pressure Pyongyang.  However, since this measure is a highly dangerous, quasi-military operation that may lead to accidental military conflict, this hard-line policy must not be implemented without the consent of the ROKG and its citizens.  If the U.S. tries to unilaterally push ahead with the policy, it will not be able to avoid fierce resistance from the Korean people.”


“Send An Envoy To North Korea Now”


Independent Joongang Ilbo editorialized (12/30):  “Neither North Korea nor the United States shows signs of wanting to resolve the situation through dialogue, with Pyongyang vowing to defend its independence and survival and Washington voicing its determination not to negotiate with Pyongyang over broken promises. Furthermore, there is talk of the United States formulating a so-called ‘tailored containment’ policy, a comprehensive strategy to increase financial and political pressure on the North.  If this situation continues, an armed clash could erupt on the peninsula....  The ROK must convey its own and the international community’s concerns directly to the North Korean leader.  If it fails to do so, it amounts to the ROK revealing the limits of its engagement policy.  Accordingly, sending a special envoy to Pyongyang must be a starting point for all-out diplomacy by the ROKG [to defuse the North Korean nuclear crisis].”


“Dangerous Expansion Of Hard-line Moves”


Pro-government Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (12/30):  “We once again warn both the DPRK and the United States not to take the lives and stability of Korean citizens hostage, and we urge each side to concede a point to the other and enter into dialogue.  In particular, Pyongyang and Washington should lend an ear to Korean civic groups’ recent statement urging the former to reverse its decision to lift a freeze on nuclear weapons development and the latter to withdraw its harsh policy and engage--without preconditions--in dialogue with the DPRK.  The DPRK’s brinkmanship tactics are under fire from the ROK and the international community, and the U.S.’s unilateral, hard-line policy is becoming an object of criticism even from within....  If both sides continue to escalate the crisis and tension on the peninsula by threatening each other with increasingly tough policies, they will not be able to avoid fierce resistance from the Korean people.”


“The Way To Play A ‘Leading Role’ In Resolving The Nuclear Issue”


Independent Joongang Ilbo editorialized (12/27):  “The ROKG has expressed its intention to play a leading role in resolving the DPRK’s nuclear problem...and to persuade Pyongyang through inter-Korean dialogue. We agree with such an approach, but sincerely urge caution in approaching the issue, including sending an envoy for President-elect Roh. Washington and Pyongyang have shown little consideration of Seoul’s stance. Pyongyang wants to gain economic benefits from the ROK while discussing nuclear issues solely with Washington. The U.S., on the other hand, suspects that the DPRK is trying to drive a wedge in the U.S.-ROK alliance by using nuclear threats, and that the widespread anti-Americanism in the ROK is giving the communist country an excuse. In this situation, the ROKG’s efforts to play a mediator’s role between the two countries may be ignored by both sides. In this regard, the ROKG must step prudently so as not to lose its balance while trying to walk between the interests of ‘two Koreas’ and those of ‘its own people.’”


“Our Repeated Calls For Dialogue Between The U.S. And The North”


Pro-government Hankyoreh Shinmun commented (12/27):  "With North Korea stepping up its nuclear offensive, there is growing criticism in the U.S. of the Bush Administration’s hard-line North Korea policy.  Condemning the administration’s harsh policy for having driven the North to reactivate its mothballed nuclear facilities, U.S. experts and former high-level officials during the Clinton Administration are calling for the administration to drop its harsh unilateral policy and resolve the nuclear crisis through dialogue. We entirely agree with such U.S. voices and hope the Bush Administration will accept their judgment and advice and engage in talks with the North....  Nevertheless, if the U.S. continues its tougher policy, it will inevitably come under fire for pursuing only its own strategic interests, including building a missile defense system, by trying to heighten tensions on the peninsula.”


“The Need For A Multilateral Consultative Structure”


Conservative Segye Ilbo observed (12/27):  “There is no alternative but to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue peacefully. In this regard, the Bush Administration’s uncompromising attitude is aggravating the situation. Since it will take a long time to ease the deep-rooted distrust between the U.S. and the North, which has intensified since the Bush Administration was inaugurated, it is more desirable for neighboring countries -- including China and Russia -- to join forces in mediating between the two countries than to seek direct dialogue between them.”


“The Need For Non-partisan Efforts To Find A Solution To The North Korean Nuclear Issue”


Independent Joongang Ilbo commented (12/26):  “The ROKG must show its determination to avoid another nuclear crisis and to work for a nuclear-free peninsula. No option should be left untested in trying to mediate between the U.S. and the North. In addition, a non-partisan response reflecting a national consensus should immediately be devised. Only then can there be hope that both the U.S. and the North will stop considering the ROK a hostage or victim to serve their goals. Now is the time for a non-partisan delegation to go not only to Washington and Pyongyang but also to Beijing and Moscow for serious and in-depth discussions of the situation.”


“Pragmatic Convergence Between The U.S. And The North”


Park Gun-young, a professor of International Studies at the Catholic University of Korea, opined in moderate Hankook Ilbo (12/26):  “In order to prevent the collapse of U.S.-DPRK relations and avert a war on the peninsula, it is urgent that the ambiguities surrounding the DPRK’s enriched uranium program be overcome....  Despite the U.S. claim that the DPRK has acknowledged such a program, the communist country maintains its NCND policy....  If the DPRK actually has such a program, it would be desirable for the U.S. and the North to resolve the issue by striking a practical package deal, and one option toward that end is for the Bush Administration to accept the DPRK’s call for a non-aggression pact while keeping to its principles on the North....  We urge the U.S. government to acknowledge that U.S. interests lie in removing dangers from the DPRK, rather than in trying to tame the communist country, and to adopt a more flexible and pragmatic approach.”


“U.S. Should Drop Hard-Line, Crisis-Creating Policy”


Pro-government Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (12/25):  “We are deeply concerned that the U.S. might respond extremely harshly to the North’s latest brinkmanship in reactivating its mothballed nuclear facilities, including a possible blockade and military action. If the U.S. takes Korean citizens’ lives and security lightly and adopts extremely harsh countermeasures that pursue only its strategic interests, it will face fierce resistance and criticism from the Korean people. The U.S. should seriously consider what the recent widespread candlelight vigils in the ROK signify....  If the U.S. really wants peace and security on the peninsula, there is no reason to refuse talks with the North. In addition, if Washington continues to insist that Pyongyang first abandon its nuclear ambitions while letting the current crisis escalate, we cannot avoid suspecting that the U.S. wants tensions on the peninsula in order to push ahead with its missile defense program.”


“North Korea Starts Removing Surveillance Cameras”


Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (12/23):  “The reason North Korea is again heightening tensions shortly after the ROK presidential election seems to be that it wants to strengthen its position further before full cooperation is established between the U.S. and the ROK, which is currently in a transitional period between governments.  In addition, the North might be probing President-elect Roh Moo-hyun’s views of North Korea and the U.S. and possible countermeasures against the North’s nuclear program. In this regard, President-elect Roh needs to articulate a careful but firm position on the nuclear issue as early as possible, so as to prevent the North from misjudging the situation. Furthermore, even though the North Korean nuclear problem will be the number-one issue when Mr. Roh visits the U.S. next March -- as promised to President Bush -- given current developments, close consultations between the USG and ROKG are necessary before his visit.”


“The Need To Send A Special Envoy To North Korea”


Independent Joongang Ilbo observed (12/23):  “We propose President Kim Dae-jung and President-elect Roh Moo-hyun appoint a special envoy to handle the North Korean nuclear issue as a means of seeking a breakthrough in the current situation. The 60 day-period before the inauguration is too long a timeframe to leave the North Korean issue untouched. In addition, without a serious effort to address the issue, the tension between the North and the U.S. might lead to a standoff that will prove disastrous to all Koreans....  In a situation where Washington and Pyongyang, though not wanting war, remain in conflict without alternatives, it is our duty to present a breakthrough that could lead to resolution of the current crisis without forcing either side to lose face. The first piece of business for President Kim and President-elect Roh is to appoint a special envoy to North Korea.”


“Dangerous North Korean Hard-line Stance”


Pro-government Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (12/23):  “If the U.S. ignores the DPRK’s overtures for talks and continues to demand that the DPRK first abandon its nuclear program, the communist country will try to further escalate tensions on the peninsula. This is why we express our concern over the DPRK’s latest act of removing seals and surveillance cameras from nuclear facilities and urge it to restore the equipment to its original state....  Because of Mr. Roh’s pledge to resolve the nuclear issue peacefully during his election campaign, many entertain high hopes for Mr. Roh to mediate talks between the U.S. and the DPRK. However, it would be very hasty and imprudent of Pyongyang to act unilaterally without giving Mr. Roh time to coordinate his course of action. We believe a package deal should be made between the U.S. and the North, in which the U.S. accepts the North’s call for a non-aggression pact and the North gives up its nuclear ambitions. Toward that end, each side needs to concede a point to the other.”


THAILAND:  “North Korea’s Nuclear Roulette”


The lead editorial in the independent, English-language Nation opined (1/3):  “North Korea has a way to keep reminding the world that everything is not ok until Pyongyang is ok.  Suddenly, towards the end of last year, President Kim Jong-il decided to play world politics in the age of globalization.  He admitted to Japanese leaders that his beloved country had kidnapped Japanese citizens to train the country’s espionage teams.  Later on, North Korean officials went to confess to the U.S. government that it had broken the 1994 four-party policy agreement aimed at de-nuclearizing Pyongyang and admitted that it had nuclear capabilities.  Now, just before the end of 2002, the country has declared its plans to go ahead with its nuclear program.  In short, Pyongyang is building nuclear bombs.  Why is North Korea doing this now?  North Korea is acting up now because it wants Washington’s attention.  Certainly, it is a smart thing to do.  Apparently, it works.  President George W. Bush said over the New Year that the problem in North Korea could be solved through diplomatic means.  That was very assuring given the war his government is conjuring up against Iraq.  Pyongyang knows that the U.S. and the world would not dare do anything to jeopardize the status quo on the Korean peninsula.  Furthermore, the newly elected South Korean Roh Moon-hyun is not in the mood for tough measures against Pyongyang....  Security in Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia is now linked after the leaders from Asean and Northeast Asia agreed in December 1997 that whatever happens in one region would affect the other.  As such, the ARF would be an appropriate forum.  ARF senior officials should hold preparatory meetings as soon as possible.  The Korean situation affects the whole Asian region.  It should not be left in the hands of the U.S., South Korea, Japan and China." 




INDIA:  "A Dangerous Confrontation"


An editorial in the centrist Hindu stated (1/4):  "North Korea and the U.S. appear to have locked themselves into a cycle of provocation and counter-provocation that has the potential for disastrous consequences since it revolves around the issue of Pyongyang's acquisition of a nuclear weapon capability....  But provocative steps have by no means been taken by Pyongyang alone. The current U.S. administration, conditioned as it has been by the President, George W. Bush's inclusion of North Korea in the "axis of evil", has taken a far more aggressive posture towards Pyongyang than had its predecessor....  North Korea has probably calculated that it can take a tough stance since it has reason to believe that it is less likely to become the target of a U.S. strike than is Iraq....  The fact that U.S. troops and allies in East Asia are vulnerable to an attack by North Korea's forces has prodded Washington to opt for a more cautious approach than the aggressive policy adopted in respect to Iraq....  Seoul has declared that it would not participate in a sanctions-enforcement policy and...pointed out that pressure and isolation do not work with Communist countries. That being the case, the current U.S. administration might be forced to take a lesson from its predecessor's experience and launch a fresh phase of engagement with North Korea."


"War Monger As Peace Maker"


Chennai-based leftist News Today observed (1/3):  "On the surface of it, it looks odd that the US should be talking soft on North Korea. Closer scrutiny would reveal that US policy towards Iraq is influenced by its concern towards acquiring a hold on Iraqi oil wealth. Removal of Saddam and putting a US puppet in his place would help eminently in achieving this aim. There is no such stake for the US in North Korea. Hence Mr. Bush's observation that he would like to tackle the North Korean issue using diplomatic negotiations for this purpose. If Iraq's oil wealth were to fall into US hands, India may be inconvenienced. Baghdad has been a reliable supply source of oil for India. If the source is controlled by the US, India could suffer arm twisting by Washington in case New Delhi refuses to toe the US line at international meetings. A while back, in the initial days of independence, Nehru talked about the need to evolve an Asian version of the Monroe doctrine to keep out US intervention in the affairs of Asian countries. At that time, the need for such a doctrine was not as pressing as it is now. We had a leader then whose views could not be ignored by the Big Powers. We have no such personality now. That is a pity."


"This Time Bomb Keeps Ticking"


An editorial in the nationalist Hindustan Times stated (12/31):  "Arms control is a funny thing: it's as unworkable as it is indispensable.  North Korea has now threatened to pull out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty if the standoff with the U.S. over its nuclear program continues.  There is a sense of déjà vu here. What the U.S. seems to have ignored is the timing of the inspections.  The U.S.--too busy trashing treaties like the CTBT, Kyoto Protocol, and the Chemical Weapons Convention, and obsessed with Iraq--stopped its promised fuel aid.  Pyongyang's defiance is not too surprising since the Kim-Jong-II regime prefers political brinkmanship to diplomacy.  It is illusory for Washington to think that imposing controls on nuclear power facilities alone could check nuclear proliferation.  Perhaps a better way would be to minimize the motivation that a country like North Korea may have to acquire such weapons."


"U.S. Vs. North Korea"


An editorial in independent Urdu-language Siasat declared (12/29):  "The U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appears to have met his match in Kim-II-Choh, the North Korean defense minister.  If Rumsfeld expected to deter North Korea with his warning that the U.S. was capable of simultaneously fighting two wars, he managed just the opposite. The North Korean defense minister retaliated to Rumsfeld's arrogant remarks by urging all his countrymen to become human bombs against the US in the event of war....  Curiously enough, the US has been very careful and cautious in dealing with North Korea, showing no haste to act against it and avoiding to equate it with Iraq....  Both South Korea and Japan, immediate neighbors of North Korea and close allies of the US, have urged it to tame North Korea's nuclear might through diplomatic efforts. It is the extremely arrogant and offensive attitude of the US that has made North Korea so agitated....  Washington's adamant attitude may ultimately jeopardize world peace."


"Confrontationist Attitude"


Hyderabad-based right-of-center English-language Newstime opined (12/27):  "North Korea's open defiance of America on the nuclear issue has undoubtedly put the world's lone super power in a difficult situation even as it tries to focus the attention of the international community on its confrontational attitude towards Iraq....  But the fact remains that Washington is not at all keen on taking on Pyongyang at this time, despite the fact that George Bush has bracketed North Korea with Iraq and Iran as an 'axis of evil.'  The reasons for that are practical, and go beyond Bush's personal obsession with Saddam Hussein.  For North Korea's admission that it has an ongoing nuclear program with the capacity for producing weapons grade plutonium has opened up the possibility that it may be actually in possession of a few such weapons.  That is in sharp contrast to Iraq....  Thus it is possible that secretly Washington feels that it would be safer to attack Iraq than North Korea....  On the other hand, Iraq is isolated, even among its neighbors, as witness the readiness of Saudi Arabia and Turkey to join the American campaign, and could be 'taken out' swiftly by superior firepower."


"Credibility Gap"


An editorial in the pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer stated (12/27):  "The manner in which North Korea is thumbing its nose at the United States on the issue of its nuclear program would have been inconceivable in 1994....  Now North Korea clearly feels that the Bush Administration, obsessed with going to war against its bete noire, Iraq, is in no position to act militarily against it....  While it remains to be seen how the US deals with North Korea, people can hardly be blamed for believing that what matters to it is not principles but its self-interest."


"The Second Fiddle"


Independent Calcutta-based Bengali-language Ananda Bazar Patrika declared (12/27):  "Should Pyongyang really start its nuclear program again, the diplomatic fallout would be far reaching. Ultimately, it may turn into a nuclear holocaust....  It still remains to be seen whether America sits for a dialogue or starts a war in the face of this new compulsion. However, it is quite clear, no matter what Rumsfeld declares, the emergence of DPRK issue coinciding with the Iraq problem has put Washington into great woe....  It would augur well for all, if under this situation, President Bush can evade a direct confrontation and settle the DPRK issue with the mediation of a second or a third country."


"Pyongyang Alert"


The nationalist Hindustan Times observed (12/26):  "The reclusive Kim Jong-il regime of North Korea has taken on Washington in a political game of brinkmanship. Pyongyang probably believes that the US preoccupation with Iraq will inhibit it from dealing harshly with another member of the 'axis of evil'....  American jitters over the security threat in the region are understandable....  It's time Washington rethought its Korean policy and took a closer look at the increasing anti-American sentiment in the peninsula....  Forcing the issue, as threatened by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, may not be the best option. A better bet would be for the US to try and help turn round the collapsed North Korean economy and nudge it towards a free market. This could be the best way to deal with a seemingly schizophrenic Pyongyang regime. The other option would be for the US to act just as schizophrenically and set off a war which will devastate the region."


PAKISTAN:  "North Korean Alarm"


Karachi-based, independent, national Dawn editorialized (12/30):  "Even if the spectacle of someone cocking a snook at the U.S. might be found appealing by some at this time of American bluster worldwide, North Korea's nuclear posturing is worrisome....  The U.S., with its own huge nuclear arsenal and its plans for nuclear missile shields, as well as its refusal to even acknowledge Israel's atomic weapons, hardly holds the high moral ground to impose disarmament on North Korea, Iraq or any other country.  But that does not legitimize attempts by others to add to the already dangerously high stocks of nuclear weapons....  Such war talk can only make a bad situation worse and further harden attitudes.  North Korea must have peace to tackle its daunting swathe of problems, and it should be engaged in dialogue rather than be ostracized or threatened." 


"Extreme Measures"


The centrist national News declared (12/29):  "The latest move by North just another fallout of an unfair international policy matrix, essentially arranged by the United States, that ignores urgent needs of nations....  Whether or not the international concerns of North Korea building nuclear weapons are genuine, the world community, particularly the United States, must realize that bullying economically deprived countries only creates crises, not resolves them.  An inequitable international diktat based on Washington's whims and fears cannot ensure the goals of a safe and peaceful world as desired by the comity of nations."




CAMEROON:  "North Korea Is Not Iraq"


Yaounde-based pro-opposition French-language bi-weekly Aurore Plus commented (1/6):  "By expelling UN Inspectors, Pyongyang has shown clearly its commitment to resume its nuclear program despite the fact that North Korea joined the international treaty designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons....  Surprisingly the U.S toned down its declarations towards Pyongyang....  The Communist regime is challenging the Bush administration without fear or complex....  Pyongyang is not Baghdad and (Washington) cannot simply 'cross the river' to disarm North Korea.  The latter is a real threat to the United States and the world.  America is well aware of it but does not dare to proceed unless it is prepared to face unpleasant surprises." 


SOUTH AFRICA:  "Bush's Axis Of Double Standards"


Pro-government, Afro-centric Sowetan commented (1/3):  "Bush...reluctantly agreed to give the UN the last chance to voluntarily disarm or face a US-led attack. Hussein...declared...that he does not have any such dangerous weapons as alleged by the Americans...  Bush does not believe this...and will make the final decision on whether to attack Iraq later this month.  This is just expected to be a mere formality as his mind on attacking Iraq is already made up....  Throughout the year, Bush has shown total disregard for diplomacy. However...a spanner was thrown in the works; North Korea, which the American government has tried to bribe into co-operating, did the unthinkable....  Unlike Iraq, North Korea is much more dangerous. The North has nuclear arms. Which makes its action on Tuesday a clear provocation of an attack by Bush, the world's self-appointed sheriff.  Instead of attacking North Korea, Bush is now talking diplomacy.  That is stuff for the weakling!  Hawks, like Bush not have such words in their vocabulary.  Quite clearly his dovish response makes him guilty of double standards.  The key question, though, is: what will he do next?  Will he attack North Korea or follow his bribing North Koreans to behave well?"


"North Korean 'Threat'"


The liberal Natal Witness editorialized (1/2):  "North Korea...has little in common with Saddam Hussein's Iraq or Iran, and it is certainly an anachronism in the modern world, an example of unreformed Stalinism where ideology has reduced its people to beggary.  But it has a nuclear capability....  This time North Korea will certainly not be getting the sort of support it received in the fifties from either Russia or China....  But what of Washington?  Illogically, it is not being nearly as tough on North Korea as on Iraq.  The former has expelled UN inspectors; the latter is co-operating.  The former possesses nuclear weapons of some sort; the latter does not.  Yet while Bush is gearing up for an unprovoked attack on Iraq the worst North Korea has to fear is 'tailored containment.'  Would that there be more logic and less emotion in the conduct of international affairs.  The world might be a safer place."


"Korean Meltdown"


Balanced Business Day (12/30) opined:  "North Korea is moving fast to develop nuclear weapons, and has placed itself on a path that could ultimately lead to war with the U.S....  The timing appears to be aimed at testing the U.S. response when much of its military might is directed at Iraq.  In addition, the North is testing the South's president-elect.  Whether Pyongyang's goal is to use its nuclear programme as a bargaining chip to get the U.S. to normalise relations and sign a nonaggression pact, or is merely a show of power, should be of no consequence in determining the response of the international community.  The UN must follow the same line as it has done against Iraq and give diplomacy and various forms of pressure a chance to work.  It is not only the U.S., Japan and South Korea that must place pressure on the north, but also China and Russia.  And SA, as the only country to have voluntarily given up nuclear weapons, should also raise its voice.  The wider consequences of the showdown with Pyongyang are extremely serious.  If Pyongyang is allowed to achieve its objective, the cause of nuclear nonproliferation, which has been a centrepiece of the global security effort after the Second World War, will have been dealt a serious blow.  The 1994 agreement with North Korea was clearly a band aid solution. The bigger problem of integrating this bellicose, yet proud, state into the world community still lies ahead."


ZIMBABWE:  “Under The Specter Of A Third World War”


The pro-government weekly Sunday Mirror editorialized (1/5):  "In a statement he made last week, United States...President George W. Bush said he hoped the crisis over Iraqi arms could be overcome peacefully, to which the Iraqis retorted by saying that ‘the dog’s tail will never be straight,’ and that it was hard to believe the American leader had ‘suddenly become rational.'...  Complicating this already war-charged atmosphere is North Korea’s New Year’s Eve expulsion of UN inspectors and its threats to withdraw from the non-proliferation treaty, under which it promised not to acquire nuclear weapons.  Apparently, Korea secretly developed a uranium-enrichment program at its Yongbyon plant, even as UN inspectors were monitoring the country.  It boldly declared its right to bear nuclear arms, arguing that after being described by Mr. Bush as part of an ‘axis of evil,’ along with Iran and Iraq, it considered itself a target of U. S. aggression.  America’s insistence that Pyongyang abandon its nuclear program before any talks could resume may have to soften in the face of certain recalcitrance by the Koreans.  Otherwise, a rigid approach to resolving this stalemate may likely lead to war."  




ARGENTINA:  "The Axis Of Evil Counterattacks"


Claudio Uriarte, left-of-center Pagina 12's international analyst, observed (12/29):  "To a certain extent, it was funny: while the U.S. redoubled its war drumming against Iraq...for developing WMD....  North Korea and Iran, the other two villains, admitted and even made propaganda of the reactivation and construction, respectively, of nuclear reactors for allegedly civilian use, but which could be easily reconverted for military purposes.  The U.S. appeared to contradict its own rhetoric. The fact that the U.S. proclaimed it is getting ready to go to war to put an end to the arsenals Iraq has denied having and that the UN has not managed to detect while it says it is not going to war due to an aggressive nuclear program North Korea claims to be reactivating is a clear infringement on logic.  To temper this contradiction, U.S. Secretary Rumsfeld warned North Korea that the U.S. is in a position to wage simultaneous wars on two separate fronts....  Now, Pyongyang seeks to exploit the external contradictions between Japan and South Korea, seemingly of appeasing intentions, and the U.S., in which at least rhetorically, the 'hard line' image continues yielding excellent political dividends."


BRAZIL:  "Kim Gives Life To 'Axis of Evil'"


Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo correspondent Paulo Sotero reported (12/31):  "The most innocuous interpretation of North Korea's decision to reactivate its nuclear weapons program is that Kim Jong-il's regime chose a moment in which the U.S. is busy arranging for a war against Iraq to extract new concessions from the Bush administration - and so ease a catastrophic situation created by a half-century of isolationism. But there is a more sinister hypothesis. Included in the 'axis of evil' by George Bush, North Korea might have reached the conclusion that it is the next target of the U.S., after Iraq, and decided to be cautious. Both scenarios are dangerous. They not only introduce a new element of international tension but also reveal the absence of a clear strategy in Washington to face the threat....  Due to the military reality of the Korean Peninsula, with a well-trained army of one million men, the U.S. simply does not have effective means to guarantee the security of South Korea or Japan.  For this reason, Bush...has officially abandoned the policy of his predecessor of attacking and destroying the nuclear facilities of Yongbyon in case they are reactivated."


CANADA:  "Why The Sunshine Days Are Over For South Korea"


Columnist Marcus Gee wrote in the leading Globe and Mail (1/3):  "The North Koreans had their eyes wide open when they began their nuclear gamble. That challenge constitutes a complete betrayal of North Korea's promises not just to the United States and South Korea, but to the IAEA, the UN and the whole international community. What do Mr. Kim and Mr. Roh of South Korea propose to do about it? Call for a group hug? The United States cannot possibly enter into immediate talks with North Korea, as Pyongyang demands. That would reward the North for its cheating and lying and send the wrong message to other would-be nuclear gamblers. In any case, there seems little point in negotiating a new nuclear deal with the North Koreans now, just weeks after they admitted breaking the last one. The only realistic options are military action and containment. Washington has wisely rejected the first, at least for now. So that leaves containment....  Successful containment requires a common front, which is why Washington has been lobbying Russia and China to lean on their old friends in Pyongyang. But the most important part of the front must be South Korea. If North Korea is to be brought to heel, president-elect Roh and his government must acknowledge that the policy of gentle persuasion has failed. Like it or not, the sunshine days are over."


"Korea's Grim Game"


The centrist Winnipeg Free Press wrote (12/30):  "North Korea may already have nuclear weapons. If it does not already have them, international weapons experts estimate that it will be no more than a year, perhaps as little as a month, before it does. In the face of this threat, the international response has been interesting, if sometimes predictable....  More interesting is the reaction of North Korea's neighbours. South Korea, Japan - even China and Russia - are most vulnerable to a nuclear attack launched by Mr. Kim, yet none has yet shown any ambition to force a stop to his policies. Most interesting of all has been Washington's reaction. The Americans have sensibly made it clear that they have no intention of going to war with North Korea.  Short of war, the U.S. has only two options. One, the classic quid pro quo of diplomacy, is to resume the policy of Clinton-style containment, under which Pyongyang is offered incentives - economic and political - to stop its program. That policy did not work in the past....  There is danger in this policy, the danger of pushing a mad regime deeper into madness, but Mr. Kim has proven that Clinton-style containment will not work, and the third way is war. The United States will present its proposal for sanctions to the UN. There the U.S. should find Canada's support, at least, and the backing of Pyongyang's neighbours, over whom the nuclear shadow falls most darkly."


"Kim's Nuclear Gambit"


The liberal Toronto Star editorialized (1/2): "[D]ecades of political isolation have not brought down North Korea's regime.  As with Iraq, Bush's best hope is to work through the U.N., and with its Asian partners, to reopen talks with Pyongyang. Bush's failure to build a relationship in his first two years in office, when he reviled North Korea as a 'rogue state,' is now coming home to haunt him. Whatever its limitations, South Korea's 'sunshine policy' of persistent engagement with the North is by far the better way to go. Fortunately, the South's newly elected president, Roh Moo-hyun, is a firm advocate of this.  And fortunately, the Security Council does have levers it can use. Kim's regime enjoys far warmer political ties with the European Union and with Japan, than it did in 1994. There's growing investment and trade with South Korea. And food and fuel aid has been flowing in. Kim's brinksmanship risks destroying these gains, and further weakening his regime. That is the message the U.S. and its allies should convey, separately and through the U.N. But that presupposes a dialogue, not a showdown."


CHILE:  "North Korea's Last Challenge"


Conservative, influential El Mercurio editorialized (12/29):  "Unlike the attitude shown toward Iraq and Saddam Hussein's maneuvers...the White House has avoided threatening North Korea with an immediate military response....  The reason lies in Iraq's history of violating international laws and its use of chemical weapons.  But there are other powerful motives behind U.S. moderation, and they have to do with geopolitics.  Before acting on the peninsula, Washington needs to see how China--an old North Korean ally--Russia, Japan, and most importantly, South Korea, feel about it....  Some experts believe that Pyongyang's...nuclear boasting is designed to force the U.S. to negotiate a non-aggression pact and ensure that the world will help it resolve its economic crisis.  Others believe the real reason is to drive a wedge between Washington and Seoul, which has been somewhat of an aloof ally, recently showing signs of strong anti-American sentiments."



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