International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

January 16, 2003

January 16, 2003




**  Most praised the U.S. decision to seek "direct bilateral negotiations" with the North

**  Pyongyang's use of "nuclear blackmail" could prompt global "nuclear rearmament" 

**  Many term North Korean threat "considerably more concrete and tangible" than Iraq's

**  Leftist, Muslim observers blast U.S.' "confusing signals" and "unilateral decisions"



Many praise U.S. shift towards 'diplomacy and mediation'--  Most papers termed the new U.S. willingness to talk with Pyongyang a "favorable development."  Seoul's Hankyoreh Shinmun called the U.S. position "a turning point in resolving the current confrontation."  Japan's liberal Mainichi opined that now the "DPRK must accept dialogue."  Vietnam's official Ha Noi Moi agreed that "efforts to isolate Pyongyang only make the situation more tense."  Others, however, lamented Kim Jong-il's "small victory" in persuading the administration to resume dialogue.  Germany's center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine alleged that Washington is "rewarding Pyongyang's nuclear blackmail" in a "grotesque manner." 


North Korea's 'brinkmanship' deals 'the global disarmament regime a blow'--  Many leftist outlets stated, with pointed irony, that U.S. policy towards North Korea showed "the best way to prevent a U.S. invasion is to pose a grave danger."  Singapore's pro-government Straits Times concluded:  the "message to would-be tyrants and jihadists:  Get nukes."  Other dailies emphasized that if the UN "does not succeed in uprooting" Pyongyang's nuclear program, "atomic rearmament...will be a reality."  Many said the DPRK's "real intention is not to build nuclear weapons" but rather to gain the "maximum number of concessions from the U.S."  South Korean dailies agreed the North is using "threats to force the U.S. to resume talks." 


U.S. 'imminent war against Iraq' contrasts with 'kid gloves' treatment of DPRK--  Outlets such as Amsterdam's liberal De Volkskrant bluntly accused President Bush of "being hypocritical" for pursuing a "diplomatic approach in the case of North Korea while openly threatening Iraq."  Muslim writers blasted Washington's "double standards," calling the U.S. a "rogue state."  A Nigerian daily judged that Pyongyang can "indulge in provocative sabre-rattling" as long as the U.S. remains fixated on Iraq.  Malaysia's government-influenced New Straits Times more broadly criticized "America's jolly little crusade against evil."  


Washington's DPRK policy called 'confused and unpredictable'--  Russian, Indian and Pakistani papers all termed the U.S.' DPRK policy "far from constructive."  Moscow's army-run Krasnaya Zvezda said Washington should "stop viewing any concession as a diplomatic setback."  The centrist Times of India blamed Washington's "aggressive, unilateralist approach" for further undermining "the already weakened architecture of international arms control."  The rightist Pakistan Observer thundered against the "mishandling of the crisis by the arrogant U.S."

EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg

EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 106 reports from 38 countries over 5-16 January 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




FRANCE:  "A Korean Nightmare And International Confusion"


Right-of-center Les Echos editorialized (1/13):  “North Korea has increased world tension by raising the specter of a third world war....  While Pyongyang’s objective may be to get a maximum number of concessions from the U.S., the remarks on Friday by the White House spokesman who spoke of ‘deception and deep concern’ indicate an attitude that appears singularly different from Washington’s determination towards Iraq. Such a stance gives the impression that the international community is hesitating in what could become a nuclear nightmare....  The confusing signals coming from the international community are all the more troublesome because, as the White House said, Pyongyang’s message is often difficult to decipher. Still, these confusing signals appear paradoxical: after all, the crisis with North Korea is nothing new.”


George W. Bush’s Korean Wager”


Right-of-center Les Echos editorialized (1/9):  “Pyongyang is putting George W. Bush’s geo-strategic doctrine of preventive war in a difficult spot.  Although the American president had included North Korea in the ‘Axis of Evil’ he chose Iraq as the target for implementing this doctrine....  The result of this is that Kim Jong Il has won a small victory since Washington has accepted to resume the dialogue, which is a significant change in position....  But the White House appears to continue to hesitate between firmness and openness....  In this context the French Foreign Minister Villepin, who is decidedly present on all of the fronts, left yesterday for Beijing and Seoul in order to gauge the level of danger.”


GERMANY:  "North Korea Breaking A Taboo"


Ewald Stein commented in business-oriented Handelsblatt of Duesseldorf (1/14):  “We have hardly discussed the fact that North Korea, by re-activating its nuclear program has dealt the global disarmament regime a blow.  The cancellation of the NPT is a clear cut:  for the first time since 1970, when it entered into force, one of the 187 signatures is now leaving.  This means that a formerly promising getting less significant today.  The list of nuclear states is threatening to become bigger.  But the real reason for the nuclear dilemma is based in the NPT itself....  It is by no means a fair treaty, since it divides the world into powerful and helpless nations....  And there is even more:  the five ‘official’ nuclear powers are the ones who permanently violate at least an important part of the Treaty, the spirit of the NPT:  to complete their obligation for nuclear disarmament....  But their motto is to modernize their arsenals....  It is obvious that such hypocrisy will have consequences.  That is why India and Pakistan have presented evidence of their military nuclear competence and it is open whether North Korea will soon join them.”


"Play For Time"


Frank Herold wrote in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (1/13):  “North Korea’s policy is confuse and unpredictable, but the previous North Korea policy of the Bush administration is not less confused and unpredictable....  President Bush is in a similarly helpless situation than President Clinton was.  He is trying to avoid everything that could disrupt the deployment of forces against Iraq.  That is why not even the toughest hawks in Washington are playing with the idea of a military strike against the nuclear installations in North Korea....  Bush hopes that his threatening gestures and the united mediation efforts of the IAEA Russia, and China will be successful.  He, too, is playing for time, but the reason is not that he hopes for an early collapse of the regime.  His slogan is:  Iraq first.  Former Clinton administration staff members are the ones who are warning against this policy saying that this course will not result in a solution to the problem.  They think that Kim Jong-il is really waiting for a serious offer to retreat afterwards, as he already did in 1994.  But this is not for sure. However, thus far, Bush is not even willing to test this approach.”


"New Priorities"


Center-right General-Anzeiger of Bonn noted (1/13):  “Washington is in a dilemma because of the alarming reports from Pyongyang.  North Korea’s statement signals a danger for global peace, which we have not faced for a long time.  All agreements on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons are about to become not worth the paper they are written on.  And what is even worse:  These weapons of mass destruction can become quickly usable for the kind of international terrorism, which the international community of nations wants to exterminate.  What sense does the military fixation on Iraq have in such a situation?  The threat to global peace from North Korea is considerably more concrete and tangible.  There is no doubt:  Washington must rethink and set new priorities.”




Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine pointed out (1/9):  "Day by day, the United States is narrowing the gap with North Korea a bit more, rewarding Pyongyang’s nuclear blackmail.  Washington wants to talk with North Korea...and the topic is interesting:  How to find ways that would allow Pyongyang to fulfill its international obligations.  Not a word anymore about North Korea’s having to give up its nuclear program before talks with the United States can happen.  Washington has made this concession mostly in reaction to South Korean pressure.  Past experience teaches, however, that this approach is no guarantee for getting North Korea to cooperate.  After all, why shouldn’t Pyongyang tighten the thumbscrews even more right now, getting a few more concessions out of Washington?  This conflict has inverted the actual power hierarchy in a grotesque manner.  A bankrupt North Korea is dictating U.S. behavior, and Washington is playing along.”


“Following In Clinton’s Footsteps”


Center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich noted (1/9):  “Soon U.S. conservatives will have to make another concession to North Korea and provide the country with energy....  This amount of realpolitik is a bitter pill for the moralists among Bush’s foreign policy advisors, but it is also helpful medicine.  After all, the example of Pyongyang reminds the superpower that it, too, has limits.”


ITALY:  “The United States: Food And Oil For Pyongyang”


Leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore stated (1/15):  “Diplomatic contacts continue in order to resolve the crisis between the United States and North Korea.  After two days of talks in Seoul, U.S. envoy James Kelly arrived yesterday in Beijing, and his agenda included negotiations about food and energy supplies to Pyongyang.  Russian President Putin will send an envoy to the North Korean capital, the United States and China to try to end the dangerous tug-of-war between the American giant and the small country of North Korea....  James Kelly has already assured that, ‘once the nuclear question has been resolved,’ the United States will be ready to help North Korea overcome its chronic economic crisis.  In addition, President Bush yesterday said that he is in favor of a ‘courageous initiative’ to help North Korea with food and energy supplies if Pyongyang dismantles its nuclear armaments....  The positions of the two countries remain distant: Pyongyang, in order to give up its nuclear rearmament, wants a pact of non-aggression, while Washington claims that ‘the problem does not exist for the time being.’”


"The United States Opens To Pyongyang"


Pro-democratic left (DS) L’Unita stated (1/15):  “There is room for dialogue.  North Korea should not go too far on the nuclear (issue).  Washington softens its tones, leaving room for a possibility of turning its oil taps on and sending energy assistance to Pyongyang....  The American envoy leaves wide room for a solution to the crisis....  Officially there are no signs...but beyond the wall of official statements, something is beginning to move....  Today, an Australian mission will be in Pyongyang, while the French President mentioned the possibility of setting up a work group on the North Korean crisis at the UN....  South Korea said it is against possible sanctions on North Korea....  In any case, the U.S is not thinking of solutions different from the diplomatic one.  And once again, it is caught in the unavoidable comparison between North Korea and Iraq.”


“The Revival Of The Dictators”


A lengthy analysis by Barbara Spinelli in centrist, influential La Stampa stated (1/12):  “Far from being pacified, the world is heating up even more, beginning with Asia and its weakest point: North Korea has just declared itself a nuclear power, exploiting the fact that the minds of U.S. strategists are occupied with the Iraqi problem.  Far from being dissuaded, as President Bush believed they would when he outlined his war doctrine, the dictators who, for the time being, are not under America’s fire are raising their heads....  Bush’s armed prevention was meant to warn them and stop their rearmament plans.  It has managed to obtain exactly the opposite....  Bush has already deployed several thousand troops in the Gulf, but the sense of his war against Iraq is getting less clear since the Pyongyang tyrants have appeared on our TV screens: no ally seems willing to unconditionally support the United States if it does not come up with the evidence - still missing - of Saddam’s real dangerousness and his links with al-Qaida.  Even in America there are people who say that North Korea is by far more dangerous than Iraq....  But Bush wants to negotiate with North Korea....  The impression is that Pyongyang is more scaring than Baghdad, and that is why it gets immunity, conciliatory statements, even favors.”


“Bush Changes Strategy, Will Negotiate With Korea”


Alberto Pasolini Zanelli wrote in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (1/9):  “They call it a change of course, but, de facto, it is the major diplomatic retreat by the United States over the last several years, and certainly since the Bush Administration inaugurated its ‘doctrine’ of ‘zero tolerance’ and ‘preemptive war.’  On the verge of a showdown with North Korea, Washington stepped back and accepted the direct bilateral negotiations that it had firmly rejected until 48 hours earlier.  It is still prohibited from calling them 'negotiations’: the official term used by the White House and the State Department is ‘talks,’ but the fact is that the United States has accepted to discuss with the Pyongyang regime how to find a way out of the ‘nuclear impasse’....  ‘Dialogue’ is the new word.  The request made to Pyongyang to dismantle its nuclear weapon programs stands, but it is no longer ruled out that Washington may be willing to take into consideration North Korea’s main request, i.e., providing ‘guarantees’ and resuming supplying fuel.”


RUSSIA:  "U.S. Is After Regime Change"


Reformist business-oriented Kommersant carried a piece by Georgiy Bulychev and Aleksandr Vorontsov stating (1/16):  "It has been suggested that what Washington is really after is a regime change in North Korea, and indications are that the Administration is determined to see it.  As an excuse for the pressure it is putting on the DPRK, the United States refers to international law and the duty of every state to honor its commitments to the letter.   But as it does so the United States does not seem to consider itself bound by international law, with its preemptive strikes and coercion based on the principle of might is right....  Had its concern been North Korea's nuclear programs alone, Washington would have long noticed Pyongyang signaling its readiness to reveal them and give up its nuclear ambitions in return for security guarantees.  The current U.S.-PDRK contacts may serve merely as a diplomatic cover-up for the United States' war preparations against Iraq.   As Washington deals with North Korea, a member of the 'axis of evil,' it does not seem ready to sign a true accord providing for absolution and non-aggression.   So its propositions may just be a way to procrastinate and show that it is impossible to reach agreement with the 'axis of evil.'"


"Iron Curtain Has Its Advantages"


Maria Selezneva held in reformist Noviye Izvestiya (1/14):  "After all, an iron curtain has its advantages, as the DPRK virtually has no commitments to the international community.  It may take its words back at any moment and pull out of treaties at will.  At least up to now North Korea has been acting with impunity, as it pleases."


"U.S., N. Korea Use Violent Methods"


Centrist army-run Krasnaya Zvezda carried this column by Vladimir Kuzar (1/14):  "Clearly, both Washington and Pyongyang use only violent methods as they attempt to influence one another, viewing any concession as a diplomatic setback.  Such a policy, far from being constructive, is also dangerous since it presupposes brinkmanship."


"Blind Alley"


Sergey Yuryev said in reformist youth-oriented Komsomolskaya Pravda (1/14):  "It is quite simple.  North Korea has ended up in an economic deadlock as a result of the policies of its leadership in the past few decades.  Similarly, the United States and partners, by consistently trying to drive the DPRK into a blind alley, have found themselves there, too....  As shown by experience, humanitarian assistance for totalitarian regimes is a sign of imminent political changes."


"U.S. To Use Peaceful Means"


Robert Shemak contended in official government-published Rossiyskaya Gazeta (1/14):  "Obviously, Washington will try to settle this matter by peaceful, diplomatic means.  Despite the Pentagon's military doctrine speaking of its ability to engage in two armed conflicts in different parts of the world at once, Washington is not going to provoke an aggravation in the Korean Peninsula pending a military operation in Iraq."


"U.S. Eases Off"


Natalia Babasian noted in reformist Izvestiya (1/14):  "The way Kelly sounds the U.S. stand has softened.   But there is nothing to point to serious changes in the United States' policy toward North Korea yet."


"N. Korea On Par With U.S."


Georgiy Bulychev contended in reformist Vremya Novostey (1/13):  "While we may not like the way the North Koreans run their country we must admit that they have proved brilliant diplomats, playing on a par with the world's strongest power....  No persuasion, less so pressure or sanctions, will stop the North Koreans from doing what they have decided to do.   They want guarantees of security and non-interference, convinced that only the U.S. can give those....  Sooner or later the U.S. will have to accept a 'package settlement,' offering security guarantees in return for an end to North Korea's WMD programs."


"N. Korea May Become A Miniature Nuclear Superpower"


Andrey Vaganov declared in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (1/13):  "It looks like the world may soon have to change its condescending attitude towards North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Il.  North Korea has a good chance to become a miniature nuclear superpower.  The key question now is how long it will take North Korea to get a Bomb of its own."


"Concern, Outrage"


Gennadiy Sysoyev said in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (1/13):  "While Pyongyang's decision to withdraw from the nonproliferation treaty may pose a threat to peace in the future, its readiness to resume ballistic missile testing is a quite real danger today....  North Korea's warlike steps and statements have caused a worldwide reaction ranging from extreme concern to outrage....  Compared to Russia, the U.S. feels a lot more strongly about the DPRK's latest moves....   This time Kim Jong-Il can hardly count on the U.S. to make concessions, economic or political.   At least not until he backs off the warlike decisions he made over the weekend."


"Saving Face" 


Yelena Shesternina commented in reformist Izvestia (1/10):  "Pyongyang has not responded to the main questions--Washington's proposal to conduct direct negotiations on the North Korean nuclear program and the IAEA's ultimatum to let into North Korea the inspectors expelled from there last week.  The nature of Pyongyang's potential response to the US proposal is difficult to predict, the more so that the White House has made it clear it is not going to agree to any concessions in exchange for the DPRK's consent to freeze its nuclear program....  The bargaining will take place anyway. And it may be on the plan under which Washington will resume its boiler oil shipments to Pyongyang and give it written guarantees of security in exchange for terminating the work on producing weapons-grade plutonium. It is such a plan that is offered by South Korea, and it is quite likely that this plan will become the topic of discussion at the upcoming talks between the two Koreas."


"Bush In An Idiotic Position"


Konstantin Laskin observed in centrist regional Moskovskaya Pravda (1/9):  "The U.S. has recently issued an ultimatum demanding that North Korea shut down its nuclear power plant restarted shortly before that....  Washington threatened Pyongyang with all kinds of trouble; the main item on the long list was an economic blockade....  In response to the White House verbiage, Pyongyang, which is well aware of its strength, said, calmly but resolutely, that it will consider economic sanctions as a declaration of war.  Washington chickened out: the Pentagon knows that no air defense, even utopian missile defense, will be able to protect the western part of the U.S. from North Korea's nuclear strike if it comes to that, and a quarrel with Beijing is tantamount to death.  In a word, Bush has begun a titanic search for allies in order to get out of this mess.  People close to him have even begun talking about the possibility of sending tactical nuclear weapons to Japan and South Korea, but the leadership of these countries has tactfully turned the offer down.  As a result, the U.S. has been put in an idiotic position: for the first time in years Washington has been threatened with a war and had to retreat under the cover of thundering speeches."


"U.S. Agrees To Talks With Kim Jong-il" 


Yevgeny Artyomov declared in reformist Izvestia (1/9):  "Only several days ago President Bush said categorically that the US would not conduct any negotiations with North Korea. A sharp turn in his policy occurred after two-day diplomatic talks in the American capital that involved high-ranking officials from South Korea and Japan....  A sudden change in the White House's tactic has given Democratic senators new reasons to accuse the Bush administration of using double standards in its foreign policy. Ordinary US citizens can hardly understand why their leaders are going to remove the Iraqi president even though UN inspectors have not found any trace of weapons of mass destruction in that country and why they have chosen the tactic of diplomatic negotiations with North Korea that is threatening America and has openly spoken of its nuclear ambitions."


AUSTRIA:  "Unloved Protector"


Security affairs writer Burkhard Bischof observed in centrist Die Presse (1/12):  "What this bizarre dictator Kim Jong II wants by taking up the nuclear program is to blackmail the  international community into helping his starving country....  South Korea seems to be more concerned about the 37,000 US soldiers who are stationed there to protect South Koreans against an attack by the North.  The new South Korean President is already thinking of an independent defense strategy after the US has left his country."


BELGIUM:  "An Acute Problem"


Foreign editor Paul De Bruyn remarked in conservative Christian-Democrat Gazet van Antwerpen (1/8):  "Before he decides to attack Iraq, President Bush is confronted with an acute problem: Kim Jong Il and his gang defy him much more that archenemy Saddam Hussein....  The danger of a conflict is real.  And, how do you deal with a regime that is totally paranoid and unpredictable--and that is capable of anyhting?  It is up to Bush to find an answer....  Since 1945 nobody has ever understood Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il.  They turned their nation into the most isolated country in the world.  That is what makes Pyongyang follow other motives than normal rational countries....  The world is looking at Bush and expects him to defuse the powder keg.  But, his policy does not reflect consistency.  He clearly applies double standards in his actions against Kim and Saddam.  He has never done much more than utter a few personal sneers against Kim….  That lack of consistency is not entirely his fault.  There are not many effective instruments to exert pressure on a regime like the one in Pyongyang....  Bush is still counting on direct talks.  It is an open question whether these will take place.  It is totally uncertain that they will yield results.  But, one thing is certain: the suffering of the North Korean people will not end soon."


CROATIA:  “And Now-How To Save Washington’s And Pyongyang’s Faces”


Zagreb-based Government-owned Vjesnik carried a piece by Tomislav Butorac stating (1/10):  "Diplomacy will now be allowed to handle preparations for the dialogue, so that neither side loses face.  That’s why the American turn is being proclaimed a nuance.  What could the next move be?   Ideas can already be heard that the Chinese and the Russians could prepare an international conference, at which a package acceptable to all would be adopted.   South Korea has played the main role in seeking the compromise....  Of course, polishing of ‘nuances’ will take time, and in the meantime, accusations, threats, and reactions to them will be exchanged.”


HUNGARY:   "Cooperation Within the Axis [Of Evil]?"


Foreign affairs writer Ferenc Kepecs mused in pro-government Hungarian-language left-wing Nepszava (1/13):  "Pyongyang is doing horrific things these days: it renews its nuclear weapons and missile program, withdraws from the ABM Treaty and threatens the only superpower of the world with a war.   Experts seem to be perplexed over North Korea's irrational behavior.  Whether or not the behavior of North Korea  is irrational, one person enjoys its benefits for certain: Saddam Hussein.  Pyongyang's provocations weaken Washington's position against Iraq--not its military, but its moral and political position. The U.S. has listed both Pyongyang and Baghdad among the ‘Axis-of-Evil’ states.  The U.S. is their common enemy.  Can it be assumed that Pyongyang and Baghdad are cooperating in some way?....  If this is Kim's intention, his chances are not too good, because on the North-Korean question, the world is with the U.S.”


IRELAND: "Kim Jong-il Trounces The U.S. In Game Of Brinksmanship"


Marion McKeone wrote in the liberal Sunday Tribune (1/12):  "Bush has exacerbated the difficulties his own policy has created.  He has ruled out war and he continues to rule out negotiations.  With neither carrot nor stick dangling in front of him and the world's superpower apparently at a loss as to how to proceed, there is precious little incentive for the North Korean dictator to back down....  Indeed the U.S.' helplessness was highlighted in response to North Korea's announcement this week that it had abandoned the treaty....  For King Jong-il, the convergence of Bush's determination to go to war with Iraq, a rising hostility towards the United States in North Korea and the Chinese transition period represents a perfect storm of sorts which he is navigating with no small amount of skill....  Senior figures on both continents are agreed on one thing; that Kim Jong-il's primary goal, despite his brinkmanship is not to build nuclear weapons.  Rather, it is to force economic concessions from the U.S. and a non-aggression pact that would rule out a future U.S. pre-emptive strike."


NETHERLANDS:   "Iraq--North Korea"


Influential liberal De Volkskrant editorialized (1/11):  "Pyongyang's efforts to say the crisis is caused by American aggression is not without success.  Critics say President Bush is responsible for the 'double crisis' and some Dutch politicians even accused Bush of being hypocritical because he opted for a diplomatic approach in the case of North Korea while openly threatening Iraq with war.  This concept does not acknowledge the differences between Iraq - which has a long record of violating UN resolutions- and North Korea, of which it was unclear until last October whether it violated international agreements.  Besides, the issue of North Korea is not exclusively an American problem but one that should concern all advocates of nuclear non proliferation."


NORWAY:  “The Role Of The Nuclear Weapons”


Independent Dagbladet editorialized (1/13):  “The conflict between the U.S. and North Korea focuses yet another time on the role of nuclear weapons in international politics....  On the contrary [to the intent of the Non-Proliferation Treaty] it seems like the danger of using them [nuclear weapons] is increasing in a time of war against terrorism, preparation for a war in Iraq and an unpredictable regime in North Korea threatens with war against the rest of the world.”


“The New Korea Crisis”


Kjell Dragnes commented in newspaper of record Aftenposoten (1/9):  "What we know is that the U.S. still does not have the same plans about and [hasn't reached] the same state of readiness to bomb North Korea’s nuclear plants like President Bill Clinton had during the crisis in 1994.  There is still time to avoid a Korea war number two.”


POLAND:  "Who Is Kim?"


Jerzy Marek Nowakowski observed in centrist weekly Wprost (1/13):  “Kim seems to make it clear that he will cancel his decision [to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty] in return for concessions from the United States.  If that's the case, then we are dealing with a new political phenomenon: state nuclear terrorism. Giving in to the blackmail can end up in another rogue regime buying anthrax, uranium, or poison gases to blackmail the world.”


“Between Baghdad And Pyongyang”


Mateusz Flak wrote in mainstream Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny (1/9):  “For the time being, American experts prefer to talk about blackmail and ‘a cry of despair’ rather than nuclear ambitions....  Kim is not Saddam, and the criteria used for Baghdad are no good when dealing with Pyongyang.  North Korea already has at least one nuclear warhead, and a conflict could cause a regional war--which no one wants to let happen.  It appears that the only solution are patient but tough negotiations with the Korean regime.  But a Washington-Pyongyang dialog will not succeed without support from the other ‘players’ in Asia: China, Russia, Japan, and South Korea.  The way world leaders deal with the Korean stalemate will determine whether Kim will have imitators in the future.”


PORTUGAL:  "Korea Is Different"


Prof. Vasco Rato opined in center-right weekly O Independente (1/10):  "The new national security doctrine presented by George Bush, which foresees recourse to preventive war, has provoked great unease in European chancelleries.  The criticisms got louder when Iraq, Iran and North Korea were characterized as an 'axis of evil'....  In the middle of this cacophony, the crux of Bush's message got lost.  This message is simple: these three tyrannical regimes, dominated by fanatical leaders determined to acquire weapons of mass destruction, are dangerous because they are unpredictable.  That is why it is necessary to take steps to halt the ambitions of these states.  The American administration never said--nor could anyone with good sense even think--that the approach to each of these states would be the same....  It is too late to resort to force in North Korea.  But, on the other hand, it is indispensable to resort to military action to keep Iraq from acquiring these weapons, like North Korea....  Resolving the crisis provoked by North Korea constitutes a global imperative.  Just as in Iraq, the weapons of mass destruction in the possession of Kim Jong-il will have to be destroyed."


ROMANIA:  "Crisis Still In Full Swing"


Editor-in-chief Mihai Hareshan wrote in the English-language Nine o’Clock (1/14):  "What is obvious so far is that the fresh crisis is in full swing.  Implementing the confrontation strategy by Pyongyang--is it seeking to acquire a nuclear arsenal or close a non-aggression treaty with the U.S.?  It is tightly connected with the U.S. administration being deeply concerned with the Iraq issue.  The North Korean regime thus counts on the U.S. being more inclined to a compromise now, rather than after a settlement over the Iraqi crisis.  The stake of this strategy is the survival of the North Korean communist regime, but even if the latter scores a temporary win, it will only deepen the isolation in which it finds itself.  The international community has become increasingly sensitive lately to the kinds of behavior displayed by the likes of the regimes in Baghdad or Pyongyang, and it is quite likely that the nuclear blackmail being practiced by North Korea will be matched by a fitting response.”


SPAIN:  "Korean Blackmail"


Carlos Mendo wrote in left-of-center El País (1/9):  "The dangers are evident of allowing the 'Dear Leader'  Kim Jong II to have the world take the bait and believe that the crisis in the Korean Peninsula is a confrontation with Washington due to the warmongering of the present American administration against the members of the so-called 'Axis of Evil.'  If the world, through the Security Council of UN, does not succeed in uprooting Kim's nuclear ambitions, the atomic rearmament of the whole Asian Northeast will be a reality in very few years.  All the security and stability in the region are based, since the end of Second World War, on the protection offered by U.S. military umbrella to the Far East countries.  If, due to reasons of American political convenience, those countries saw that that guarantee of defense starts to totter, the race towards the nuclear rearmament of the region would be assured....  That is why it is surprising...the different treatment and attitude of George Bush to the real danger of North Korea and the theoretical one represented by the Iraq of Saddam Hussein."


SWEDEN:  "Holding Our Breath"


Conservative Stockholm-based Svenska Dagbladet commented (1/13):  "The conflict in the Korean peninsula is escalating after the rogue state North Korea has definitely withdrawn from the NPT. Although the dictator Kim Jong Il has not previously adhered to it, the official withdrawal means a sharpening of the situation....  It is impossible to know North Korea's intentions by its sabre-rattling. Possibly the crisis was created only to force through economic and other favors. If so, one must, like during a similar crisis in 1993-94 and 2000, find a formula that gives all concerned a chance to back out. However, the problem is that as long as the North Korean dictatorship remains, the international community might, whenever Kim Jong Il decides to use his nuclear blackmailing policy, have to again hold its breath."


"Time For a New Sunshine Policy"


Social Democratic Stockholm-based tabloid Aftenbladet editorialized (1/9):  "The North Korean affair is gradually becoming an awkward matter both for the U.S. and the UN.  Everyone seems to be in agreement that the Communist regime in the Korean peninsula is a greater threat to world peace than Iraq....  But for once one must say that the Bush administration has taken a wise position.  North Korea is a closed country...and sharpened economic sanctions would have little effect....  The present regime makes North Korea a dangerous and brutal nation, and such must never be relieved of criticism.  The international community has a common responsibility in this regard.  But at present diplomacy is the only reasonable tool to solve the crisis."




ISRAEL:  "Reasons To Talk With North Korea"


Senior columnist and chief defense commentator Zeev Schiff wrote in independent Ha'aretz (1/15):  "If the current crisis over the North Korean missile program is not settled, there is a danger that Pyongyang will sell not just missile technology but nuclear technology to the Middle East.  It's a country that easily goes to the brink and is ready to take major risks in seeking a new anti-American coalition with countries like Iran, Libya, Syria and Yemen.  This is a coalition that by definition will be extremely anti-Israeli.  Thus, North Korea's moves in the Middle East pose dangers for Israel, which will only worsen if the crisis deepens.  The coordination with Washington is therefore of great importance, and one should not conclude that Israel will be a silent player that waits for everything to be done for it by Washington.  Israel has good reasons of its own for making direct contact with North Korea, just as it did with China and Russia."


EGYPT:  "Confrontation Between The Elephant And The Mouse"


Leading pro-government Al Ahram senior columnist Salama Ahmed Salama opined (1/11):  “The U.S. has systematically withdrawn from confronting North Korea's nuclear issue....  Washington saved face by accepting South Korea and Japan's mediation....  In the background, the Iraqi crisis remains and the American military mobilizes in preparation for a strike though the inspection team did not find any weapons with Saddam....  The situation shows U.S. double standards, whereby countries which possess the power to resist aggression can uphold their interests....  However, more importantly are North Korea's neighbors who rejected American sanctions against North Korea...and sought to settle the crisis peacefully.  Compare this solidarity with the conduct of some Arab countries, which rushed to support and facilitate the American and British mobilization to launch war against Iraq. Even South Korea was a major American base, but democracy liberated it from subordination to the U.S. When will this happen in the Arab world?”


UAE:  "Perceived Double Standard"


Abu Dhabi-based pan-Arab Akhbar Al Arab editorialized (1/9):  "The supporters for war still prefer a Bush-Sharon brinkmanship type policy with Iraq....  The question is why doesn't the Bush-Sharon administration apply the same sort of hostile methods to North Korea, especially after it expelled the nuclear inspectors?  The reason is clear; North Korea is strong and united, where as Iraq is militarily weak and destroyed socially due to the sanctions.  Iraq also suffers from the growing mistakes of the Iraqi leadership.  The most important question is what will happen if the results of the American war on Iraq are not what Bush-Sharon desire?"




CHINA:  "Kelly’s Asian Tour"


Xu Baokang observed in the official Communist Party People’s Daily (Renmin Ribao) (1/14):  “According to popular opinion, [Assistant Secretary of State] Kelly’s statement shows the newest attitude of the U.S. Government on the DPRK’s nuclear issue.  The U.S. government’s stance on the nuclear issue is a bit changed now."


"DPRK’s Nuclear Crisis Tests The Security Setup In North-Eastern Asia"


Zhu Feng wrote in official Communist Youth League China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (1/13):  “The DPRK’s security concern should be recognized and protected.  However, if the DPRK’s concerns about security are seen as a challenge to its international commitments and the authorization by the international system, what the DPRK gets will be just the opposite of what it desires.”


“President:  Words, Not Weapons, The Best Approach”


Hu Xiao noted in the official English-language China Daily (1/10):  “The nuclear issue in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) would be best resolved through direct dialogue between the United States and the DPRK, Chinese President Jiang Zemin said yesterday in Beijing." 


“Tang, Powell Talk About DPRK Issue”


Meng Yan declared in the official English-language China Daily (1/10):  “China appreciates the United States’ willingness to open dialogue with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on the nuclear issue, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan told his U.S. counterpart Colin Powell yesterday.  Tang said the reduction of the tension on the Korean Peninsula which has arisen from the nuclear issue and the peace, stability and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will not only benefit Northeast Asian peace, stability and development but suits the interests of all parties, including the United States.  This can only be realized through dialogue, the spokeswoman quoted Tang as saying.”


“Why Does The U.S. Suddenly Change Its Policy Towards The DPRK?”


Yuan Tiecheng commented in official Communist Youth League China Youth Daily (Zhongguo Qingnianbao) (1/9):  "The U.S. changing its stance towards the DPRK is more like a ploy to gain time.  Although the U.S. makes a compromise, there are not any substantial changes.  The U.S. has shown willingness for unconditional talks with the DPRK, but as soon as the talks start, both sides will raise conditions.  All kinds of conditions may be raised.  Moreover, the new U.S. policy does not mention anything about signing a mutual non-aggression treaty with the DPRK.”


CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):  "Is Kim Jong-il Clever Or Stupid?"


The independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Times commented (1/14):  "The crisis in the Korean peninsula is advancing.  Following North Korea's announcement that it would withdraw from the 'Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,' the U.S. was forced to make a concession.  The U.S. claimed that if North Korea gave up its nuclear weapons program, the U.S. would consider providing fuel aid.  North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is wrestling with U.S. President Bush, and Kim Jong-il has won the first round.  The risk of war appears to have decreased.  The shadow of military clashes in Northeast Asia, however, still looms, and Hong Kong may suffer....  It is difficult to know whether Kim Jong-il is clever or stupid.  If the latter, and if he really wants to develop nuclear weapons, the situation may be beyond anyone's control.  Since the U.S. cannot accept a 'rogue state' becoming a nuclear power, Bush may have no choice but to teach North Korea a lesson.  Even if Kim Jong-il is merely playing a trick by fishing in troubled water, he may lose everything in the end, with harsh U.S. reprisals.  North Korea's use of nuclear weapons to push the U.S. into negotiation or dialogue clearly illustrates Bush's double standard:  Though the international community still has no evidence showing Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, Bush is using this pretext to use force.  North Korea, meanwhile -- a member of Bush's 'axis of evil'--has admitted to developing nuclear weapons.  The U.S. has nevertheless chosen to use diplomatic means rather than force to resolve the crisis."


"North Korean Dispute Escalates"


Frank Ching wrote in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (1/14):  "Although North Korea has continued to escalate its dispute with the U.S. and the International Atomic Energy Agency, leading to its withdrawal on Friday from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a reading of its various statements shows that Pyongyang has always been careful to leave itself the possibility of a reconciliation with Washington and the international community.  On October 25, the week after Washington accused Pyongyang of having a covert uranium-enrichment program, North Korea issued a statement calling for a non-aggression treaty between itself and the U.S.  North Korea appeared to deny the American charge....  The statement ended on a conciliatory note, saying North Korea prefers negotiations to the use of deterrent force as far as possible....  A statement by the North Korea Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. of misleading public opinion by saying that Pyongyang admitted (having a) nuclear development program.  The statement held open the possibility that Pyongyang was willing to reactivate its nuclear facilities.  It said: Whether (North Korea) refreezes its nuclear facilities or not entirely depends on the attitude of the U.S....  In this series of statements, Pyongyang has continued to declare its desire for a peaceful resolution of the issues and, in fact, promises to prove to the U.S. that it is not making any nuclear weapons.  Perhaps the U.S. should take North Korea up on its offer."


"North Korea's Situation Is Getting Worse"


The independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal remarked (1/13):  "In terms of the degree of 'evil,' North Korea and Iraq are about the same....  The U.S. has given North Korea a way out because Washington's Iraq policy is to topple the Saddam regime, rebuild the country into a U.S. stronghold in the Middle East, and seize its oil reserves.  U.S. policy on North Korea is merely to contain the Pyongyang government, preventing it from developing nuclear weapons and forcing it to abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  Washington has no intention of toppling Kim Jong-il, nor is it looking to realign its regional order....  Iraq is in the Middle East.  It is far away.  If a war breaks out, the only impact on Hong Kong will be its impact on oil prices and on the U.S. economy.  If the situation on the Korean Peninsula gets worse, however, its impact will be on China and the whole Asian region.  The impact on Hong Kong is much more direct.  This is why we cannot overlook the situation on the Korean Peninsula."


"International Community Concerned About The DPRK"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Ta Kung Pao commented (1/13):  "Just as the DPRK seemed to be pushing the situation to the breaking point, it suddenly used its UN deputy representative Han Song Ryol on Sunday to tell former U.S. representative to the UN--and current New Mexico governor--Bill Richardson that the DPRK did not have plans to build nuclear weapons....  The DPRK's real intention is not to build nuclear weapons; it is to force the U.S. into making concessions.  This is evidenced by persistent requests for dialogue since the dispute broke out....  The DPRK already knows the U.S. well from past experience and can lead the U.S. around by the nose.  It understands that the U.S. will ultimately make concessions, especially if Bush is busy with a war against Iraq.  One of the DPRK's objectives is to force the U.S. to sign a mutual non-intervention agreement and to guarantee that the DPRK will not become another Iraq."


JAPAN:  "South Korea Holds The Key"


Conservative Sankei observed (1/15):  "Japan needs to get well acquainted with South Korean President-elect Roh before his Feb. 25 inauguration in order to coordinate policies more closely than before on dealing with the North Korean nuclear crisis, which has become an urgent issue for the international community. Needless to say, South Korea holds the key to resolving this nuclear crisis. If Seoul expresses opposition to sanctions, likely to be imposed on the North, the UN would not be able to actually enforce them.  Even if the sanctions are enforced, their effects would be far from effective. Not much can be expected from a diplomatic solution to the problem without policy coordination between the U.S., Japan and South Korea. Mr. Roh, once considered to be nationalistic, has stressed through talks with Assistant Secretary of State Kelly the importance of promoting close and strong ties with the U.S. and other members of the international community."


"Japan Must Be Prepared To Deal With Iraq And DPRK Crises"


Conservative Sankei opined (1/14):  "Since the start of the new year, the world community has been facing two crises involving Iraq and the DPRK.  Japan must deal with these crises in a manner that prioritizes the protection of the interests of the nation and its people.....  The U.S. is preparing steadily for action against Iraq....  The U.S. use of force against the Iraqis appears inevitable.  North Korea's nuclear development is of greater concern to Japan.  We need to look into the possibility that the North will intensify its nuclear brinkmanship in a manner far more threatening than in the past.  Against such a backdrop, it is imperative that Japan and the U.S. join hands to deal firmly with North's nuclear brinkmanship, solely designed to drive a wedge into the U.S.-Japan-South Korean alliance.  This year, Japan also needs to promote a missile defense program, pass emergency-related legislation and strengthen intelligence-gathering capabilities."


"Japan, Russia Should Urge DPRK To Accept U.S. Offer To Talk"


Liberal Asahi editorialized (1/10):  "During their meeting in Moscow today, Prime Minister Koizumi and Russian President Putin should discuss not only bilateral issues but also ways to defuse the DPRK nuclear crisis. The Koizumi-Putin meeting is taking place shortly after the U.S. showed its willingness to talk with North Korea about its nuclear program. The two leaders, therefore, need to urge the North to abandon its nuclear programs and accept the U.S. offer to talk. It is also significant that they discuss the future of Asia and build up their working relationship."


"DPRK Should Accept U.S. Offer to Talk"


Liberal Asahi editorialized (1/9):  "North Korea should accept a U.S. offer to talk about its nuclear programs, as disclosed in the TCOG statement, to defuse its nuclear crisis.  The statement said the U.S. does not pose a threat to North Korea and has no intention of invading the North.  But it is premature to think that the U.S. is 'loosening its grip' on a nuke-defiant North Korea.  The Bush administration is actually more concerned about a possible campaign against Iraq.  Unable to address the DPRK dispute head-on, the U.S. 'shelved' the DPRK dispute temporarily."  


"DPRK Must Accept Dialogue"


Liberal Mainichi observed (1/9):  "In the TCOG statement, the U.S. offered to talk to the DPRK about how it should meet its obligations to the international community.  It is the North that continues to refuse dialogue with the outside world, intensifying its nuclear crisis.  If the North continues to defy calls for abandoning its nuke programs, the UNSC will find fault with the programs and impose economic sanctions on the impoverished Stalinist state.  Pyongyang needs to resume dialogue in a cool-headed manner."


INDONESIA:  "Confusing Signals"


Leading independent Kompas commented (1/14):  “Although Bush once said he would never let ‘the world’s worst dictator' get the world’s worst weapon,’ he has never specifically warned North Korea about what he would be doing if Pyongyang eventually really produces high-degree plutonium....  We notice some confusing signals in U.S. policy.  Let’s say that North Korea does have a nuclear program as it claims, just as the U.S. believes.  In this much clearer issue, the U.S. does not show any insistent stance as it shows to Iraq, which, according to a UN team does not have any nuclear weapon.  That’s it.  The U.S. would not be called a superpower if it does not act as it ‘wishes.’” 


MALAYSIA:  "Jaw Wars"


Government-influenced English-language New Straits Times ran the following editorial (1/10):  "The world too often has to suffer the consequences of politicians speaking to one constituency while addressing another.  That's the way it now seems with US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's 'war on two fronts' bluster of just several weeks ago.  Notwithstanding the consequent crescendo of hysterical dudgeon from North Korea, even at the time it was obvious Rumsfeld was merely suffering an overspill of exuberance over America's jolly little crusade against evil.  It was South Korea that pleaded for the invective to stop, with China, Russia, Asean and anyone else who cared agreeing.  Surprise, surprise: the invective hasn't stopped.  While Washington's cost-benefit analysis has led it to turn down its own volume, Pyongyang, in its characteristically off-kilter way sensing some uncharacteristic sympathy in the outside world, is blustering on in its harangue of the US.  As Seoul would have it: let it be.  The signal issues here are North Korea's nuclear program, and whether it is to be used for energy or weaponry.  UN monitors are there to guard against the latter, not the former. Letting North Koreans suffer this particularly cold winter without energy could almost be construed as an act of war itself.  Letting Seoul and Pyongyang work this out between them is, however, what the entire Korean question is about."


PHILIPPINES:  "Threat From North Korea"


The independent Philippine Star declared (1/12):  "Kim Jong-il knows how to grab the world's attention--particularly  the United States'--and attempt to use it as leverage to get concessions for his pulling out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty....  So far Pyongyang has shown willingness to talk in exchange for economic assistance and a reduction in what he considers as aggressive rhetoric from Washington. This puts the Americans and their allies in a bind: should North Korea be rewarded with economic assistance for secretly pursuing a nuclear weapons program, while U.S. troops pound Iraq with missiles?  Pyongyang has admitted its uranium enrichment program; Saddam has denied developing weapons of mass destruction.  Which...poses a bigger threat to the safety of nations?  For now the best option for the world is still negotiation....  Reaching out to Pyongyang at this time is still the best way of averting the crisis that the world fears."


SINGAPORE:  "Don't Count On The Other Fellow To Blink, Uncle Sam"


Senior Writer Janadas Devan wrote in the pro-government Straits Times (1/10):  "After insisting for weeks that they will not give way to blackmail--and what is more, talking recklessly of America's ability to fight and win two regional wars at once--Bush administration officials now say they would be willing to 'talk' to Pyongyang, though not 'negotiate' with it....  Mr. Bill Clinton barely showed the stick, but offered carrots, managing to get Mr. Kim to nibble some. Mr. Bush withdrew the carrots, brandished the stick, only to have Mr. Kim snatch it away....  But the Bush administration has bigger problems on its hands than distinguishing itself from its predecessor. For one thing, it will find that pursuing diplomacy as an instrument of policy after having made threats and exposed their emptiness, is not going to be easy.  War with North Korea was never a realistic option. With or without nuclear weapons, North Korea could have flattened Seoul. Washington should never have signaled Pyongyang that it was out to topple it. But having made these noises, only to back down, it has lost considerable leverage. It will now have to depend on others to exercise whatever leverage they may have over Pyongyang....  Far more serious than Washington's loss of leverage, however, is the signal the collapse of its North Korea policy will send would-be adversaries.  Signal No 1: Possessing nuclear weapons brings respect. Iraq's Saddam Hussein does not have them; Mr. Kim has. Mr. Saddam will probably be toppled; Mr. Kim will not. Message to would-be tyrants and jihadists: Get nukes. That message will be received, loud and clear, not only in unfriendly countries like Iran, but also in currently friendly ones like Pakistan, which already has nukes.  Signal No 2: America's massive conventional strength, together with its nuclear deterrence and assured retaliation, can in fact be trumped."


"Pyongyang Calculates"


The pro-government Straits Times editorial read (1/9):  "The U.S. made a notable concession on Tuesday to defuse the nuclear confrontation with North Korea by offering to hold direct talks....  The U.S. change of position is a step forward, faithful to President Bush's repeated statements that he seeks a peaceful resolution through diplomacy.  But, perhaps mindful not to appear weak, the U.S. attached disclaimers, which made the offer of talks sound conditional, even if it was not....  It is problematic whether North Korea would see the opening offered as sufficient incentive for it to accept....  The U.S. and its allies should be prepared for the likelihood Pyongyang would regard the riders attached as being merely complementary to the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) ultimatum."


SOUTH KOREA:  “North Korea Should Accept Bush’s Conciliatory Overtures”


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (1/16):  “President Bush has said that the U.S. could consider a ‘bold initiative’--including energy and food aid--if Pyongyang dismantles its nuclear programs. The remarks can be viewed as an indication that Washington has decided to pacify North Korea to resolve the current crisis.  The North must capitalize on this softened U.S. stance and create an atmosphere for talks as soon as possible....  With regard to Pyongyang’s call for a non-aggression treaty, Secretary Powell also suggested that the U.S. might offer a written security guarantee to the communist state.  If the North demonstrates its seriousness by scrapping its nuclear program, the door will be open to resolving a series of pending issues between the two countries....  Furthermore, if relevant countries jointly seek to work on measures to guarantee the North’s security and find a reasonable resolution of the North Korean nuclear issues, Pyongyang has nothing to lose.  North Korea should accept the move and enter into dialogue.”


“Significant Shift In U.S. Attitude”


Pro-government Hankyoreh Shinmun commented (1/16):  “As recent remarks by President Bush and Secretary Powell have indicated, the U.S. is making significant shifts in its extremely hard-line stance toward North Korea....  We consider this U.S. change of heart a positive development that will help resolve the North Korean nuclear issue, and sincerely hope that the two countries will begin full-fledged talks as soon as possible.”


“North Korea Should Promptly Respond To Bush Overtures”


Conservative Segye Ilbo observed (1/16):  “North Korea should not make the mistake of considering Mr. Bush’s latest overtures a triumph of its brinkmanship diplomacy and miss a rare opportunity to make honorable compromises....  Recent remarks by UN arms inspectors that the North’s nuclear weapons pose more of a danger than Iraq suggest that North Korea could become the primary target of a U.S. strike, depending on the results of arms inspections under way in Iraq....  Pyongyang should immediately respond to Mr. Bush’s overtures.”


“Why Doesn’t The U.S. Dialogue?”


Kim Yeon-cheol, professor of the Center for Asian Affairs at Korea University, wrote in pro-government Hankyoreh Shinmun (1/15):  “The current nuclear crisis was caused by North Korea, but the responsibility for resolving it lies with the U.S.  Even though the Bush Administration keeps saying that it wants talks, it doesn’t enter into them....  President Bush’s ‘dialogue without negotiations’ amounts to a unilateral demand, not genuine dialogue....  Washington has never bothered to understand President Kim’s policy of engaging the North, and this is the seed of the current misfortune....  The U.S. should understand what the Korean people want: no war and no nukes.  We don’t want to lose our economic prosperity, earned by the sweat of our brows during the 50 years since the Korean War, overnight.  Likewise, a nuclear-free Korean peninsula is a non-negotiable principle in implementing North Korea policy.  The North’s possession of nuclear weapons will eventually lead to nuclear armament by Japan, inviting tension and confrontation in Northeast Asia.  In addition, considering our economy’s strong dependence on overseas markets, another Cold War in the region would be disastrous.  If the U.S. really understands the Korean situation, it will talk to the North.”


"President-elect Roh’s Positive View Of The U.S."


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (1/14):  “Mr. Roh’s clear expression of his views on the North Korean nuclear problem and the U.S. alliance came as an indication of the continuing development of the U.S.-ROK relationship....  In this regard, we hope the U.S. forgets its concerns about anti-U.S. sentiment here and concentrates on resolving the nuclear crisis in close collaboration with the ROK.  We focus on [Assistant Secretary of State] Kelly’s remarks that if the North first gives up its nuclear program, the U.S. will talk on many subjects.  In particular, his mention of the North’s energy crisis can be seen as indicating the possibility of the U.S. providing quid pro quo.”


"It Is Fortunate That The U.S. And The ROK Coordinated Differences"


Moderate Hankook Ilbo declared (1/14):  “Yesterday’s meeting between President-elect Roh and U.S. envoy James Kelly is of great significance, in that it will become the foundation for ROK-U.S. cooperation in resolving the North’s nuclear issue after the new ROK government takes office on Feb. 25....  We do not know how far North Korea’s rhetoric--such as its announcement that it will withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and its threat to resume missile tests--will go, but we believe that the surest way to resolve the current crisis is through solid cooperation between the U.S. and the ROK.”


"Peaceful Settlement Of DPRK Nuclear Crisis"


Pro-government Hankyoreh Shinmun editorialized (1/14):  “Mr. Roh’s meeting with Mr. Kelly is very important in that it is tantamount to Roh’s engaging in indirect dialogue with President Bush....  The DPRK’s increasingly intense brinkmanship requires the ROK and the U.S. to come up with effective countermeasures through closer consultation.  In particular, since the DPRK nuclear crisis is a matter of life and death for the Korean people, the ROK’s opinion should be given top priority in dealing with this matter.  Mr. Kelly must have a clear understanding of the grounds on which the President-elect bases his call for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.  Recently, thanks to the hard-line U.S. stance on jurisdiction over the Military Demarcation Line, inter-Korean projects, including the reconnection of cross-border road and railways and the construction of the Kaesong industrial complex, have run into difficulties.  This sort of deceleration in inter-Korean exchange and cooperation can, regrettably, have a negative impact on addressing the DPRK nuclear threat....  In addition, this situation runs counter to the ROK-U.S.-Japan agreement that inter-Korean dialogue can be a useful channel in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue.  Mr. Kelly should understand the real reason Koreans have repeatedly called for U.S.-DPRK dialogue.”


"North Korea, Stop Intimidating The International Community"


Independent Dong-a Ilbo opined (1/13):  “We wonder how far North Korea's dangerous gamble of taking the world hostage will go....  The North's intention is said to be to use threats to force the U.S. to resume talks.  But the communist country should realize that such a tactic will hardly be successful.  Who in the world would cave in and accept dialogue when they are threatened with a dagger?....  Talks to be held today between President-elect Roh Moo-hyun and Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly are very important when it comes to finding a solution to the North Korean nuclear problem.  This is because U.S.-ROK cooperation is the most effective tool to deal with the ‘rogue state’ of North Korea....  During talks, we hope that Mr. Roh and the U.S. demonstrate their mutual trust and send a strong message to the North, increasingly on the offensive, so as to ease the international community's uneasiness.”


"Having A Lot Of Nerve Won't Do It For North Korea"


Moderate Hankook Ilbo observed (1/13):  “It is obvious that as the level of nuclear crisis rises, the lives of the North Korean people will become more difficult....  The North Korean leadership must acknowledge that the ‘nuclear crisis cards’ it is playing against the U.S. and the international community are not exerting enough pressure.  The U.S. and the global community have seen through the fact that the North is running out of time and as such is making rash choices....  In particular, Pyongyang should immediately realize that it is narrowing the ground on which the ROK, taking the initiative in mediating a peaceful resolution between the U.S. and the North, can stand.”


“North Korea’s Misjudgment”


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (1/13):  “North Korea’s contradictory moves, climaxed by its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) while expressing its intent not to build nuclear weapons, are largely based on the communist country’s misjudgment of international affairs. The North should note that Washington’s world view today is far different from what it was in the 1990s, when Pyongyang and Washington drew up the Geneva Accord, and that the U.S. has prioritized the nonproliferation of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks....  The North must obtain international help to draw the U.S. to the negotiating table.  However, by continuing to play nuclear brinkmanship, it has made even Chinese President Jiang Zemin turn his back, bringing complete isolation onto itself....  We must not let the North court disaster through misjudgment and arrogance....  It is the North’s first task to restore the situation to the original condition so as to begin negotiations.”


“Faltering U.S.-ROK Relations”


Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (1/10):  “Relations between the U.S. and the ROK are headed for the worst crisis in their 50-year-long alliance....  What is most worrisome is the increasing anti-Korean sentiment in the U.S.  Almost every day, the U.S. media report anti-American movements in the ROK....  The U.S.-ROK alliance symbolized by USFK is the pillar of peace and security on the peninsula.  Even though the move by some in the ROK to reject USFK without any viable alternative is problematic, it is not desirable for some American elements to give the impression that the U.S. is using the issue to ‘tame the ROK'....  It is high time for President-elect Roh to take action to address the situation....  One way to do so would be to immediately form his foreign policy team and to start policy coordination with the U.S. regarding U.S.-ROK relations and the North’s nuclear problem.”


“The Need To Cool Anti-American And Anti-Korean Sentiments”


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo observed (1/10):  “We do not see that recent U.S. moves, such as calling the president of a friendly nation anti-American or of demanding the pullout of U.S. troops from the ROK for fear of their being taken hostage by the North’s nuclear threats, accurately reflect U.S. public opinion or the government view.  However, we should not overlook the fact that such U.S. moves represent ‘early warning signs’ intended to stop the further deterioration of the bilateral alliance. Looking back, the Bush Administration’s skepticism about the Kim Dae-jung government’s North Korea policy was behind the current, strained relations between the two countries. In addition, the ROKG’s lackadaisical response to the possibility that the candlelight vigils would evolve into anti-Americanism also contributed to the situation....  Now, looking at even international credit rating agencies asking about the potential economic impacts of North Korea’s nuclear program and rising anti-U.S. sentiment, we sincerely urge the ROK and U.S. leadership to immediately take action to straighten out the misguided anti-American and anti-Korean trends.”


“Small But Significant ‘Breathing Room’ In Handling Of Nuclear Crisis”


Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (1/9):  “With the U.S. expressing its willingness, though limited, for dialogue with North Korea at the recent TCOG meeting with the ROK and Japan, it has created small but significant breathing room for the resolution of the deadlocked North Korean nuclear crisis....  It is hard to see this as a major shift in the U.S. stance, considering that Washington has made clear that it would not provide ‘quid pro quos’ for Pyongyang’s dismantling of its nuclear program....  However, even a small step forward is helpful to solving a serious problem.  Since the U.S. showed its willingness to talk, now it is the North’s turn to make the situation a more positive one by taking steps to restore surveillance seals and cameras at its nuclear facilities.  The North should realize that its brand of adventurism--demanding rewards for ‘bad behavior’--does not work any more.”


“Now It Is The North’s Turn To Respond”


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (1/9):  “The recent TCOG meeting on how to handle North Korea’s nuclear program ended fruitfully with the U.S. saying that it would talk to Pyongyang....  As the North had stressed its willingness to resolve the current crisis through dialogue, Washington and Pyongyang have finally found a point of contact....  This TCOG result can be seen as in line with President Bush’s recent and frequent remarks that the U.S. has no intention of invading North Korea and his emphasis on a peaceful resolution....  Pyongyang should utilize this favorable development and immediately start talks with the U.S. without attaching conditions.  Doing so would also satisfy the ROK and other neighbors who have worked for a diplomatic resolution....  Now it is the North’s turn to make a constructive move.”


“Shift In U.S. Attitude Toward North Korea Noteworthy”


Pro-government Hankyoreh Shinmun opined (1/9):  “The U.S.’ expression of willingness at the latest TCOG meeting to talk to Pyongyang is quite noteworthy....  We hope that this shift in U.S. position marks a turning point in resolving the current confrontation and easing tensions surrounding the North’s nuclear program and that parties concerned will capitalize on this opportunity....  It will not be easy for Washington and Pyongyang to strike an agreement on pending issues, given that each side criticizes the other for violating the Geneva Accord and given the difficulties in guaranteeing the security of the North Korean regime and dismantling the country’s nuclear program in a verifiable manner....  However, we believe that if Pyongyang makes the most of President Bush’s remarks and resolves its nuclear issue in a transparent fashion, the U.S. will take a ‘bold approach’ and a significant political breakthrough will be made in the near future.”


THAILAND:  “The North Korean Side Of The Story”


Khien Theeravit, emeritus professor of Political Science, commented in the independent English-language Nation (1/16):  “The North Korean crisis was surprisingly ignited, not by Pyongyang, but by Washington, when James Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian Affairs, visited Pyongyang in October 2002.  Outsiders will never know what Kelly and his counterpart really talked about in Pyongyang, but he succeeded in manufacturing an awful story, massively circulated around the world, saying that his host confessed that North Korea had reactivated its nuclear development program.  This message succeeded in shocking the world.  People have subsequently condemned North Korea, not the U.S., as the crisis-maker!  Why, then did Kelly choose to manufacture this ‘North Korean crisis’?....  First, the Bush administration sought a way to disown the agreed framework by shifting the blame to North Korea.  Secondly, the U.S. had to strategically deal with the upsurge in anti-American sentiment in South Korea, following the deaths of two Korean schoolgirls in an accident in June 2002 and the subsequent acquittal in November by a U.S. court martial of two American servicemen....  Thirdly, Washington wanted to help its pro-American candidate for the presidential elections scheduled to be held on December 20, 2002.  Fourthly, for a year or so prior to Kelly’s visit to Pyongyang, Japan and South Korea had not been obedient followers of the U.S. in their relations with North Korea....  North Korea is weak in diplomacy....  When it announced its withdrawal from the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, it failed to reveal to the world the reasons behind the decision....  North Korea may have fought for a just cause, but it has been hurt because its enemy is the superpower in the international mass-media arena.”


“Talks Take Priority With North Korea”


The lead editorial in top-circulation, moderately conservative, English language Bangkok Post read (1/10):  “It would be best for U.S. President George W. Bush to continue to use the diplomatic services of South Korea and North Korea’s other neighbors-such as Japan, China and Russia-to resolve this crisis.  None of these countries want war on the Korean peninsula and neither do they want a nuclear North Korea.  Importantly, they all have some leverage with Pyongyang.  Though it might invite disparaging comparisons to his belligerent handling of Iraq, it is incumbent on Mr. Bush that he be more circumspect in dealing with Mr. Kim’s nuclear blackmail.  Sabre-rattling will not do when Pyongyang has ballistic missiles, possibly tipped with biological or chemical-perhaps nuclear-warheads, capable of hitting South Korea, where 37,000 U.S. troops are based, and Japan.  The North Korean crisis has not reached the stage where war should be considered an option....  If sanctions should be needed down the track, they should not be applied unilaterally.  Though it could fight two wars at one time-or three if we include the ‘war on terror’, the U.S. is better advised to use the resources of the UN to police Pyongyang’s rogue behavior.”


VIETNAM:  "When Will The Crisis In The Korean Peninsula Be Defused?"


Hong Ky wrote in Vietnam People's Army-run Quan Doi Nhan Dan (1/13):  "The U.S. has suddenly announced that it is willing to negotiate with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, even before Pyongyang ends its nuclear program....  There are reasons to say that the U.S. is under considerable pressure from South Korea and Japan, two of its allies, regarding the DPRK's nuclear program.  Washington wants to be tough, putting comprehensive pressure on the DPRK to force it abandon its nuclear program, while Seoul and Tokyo want to solve the problem through peaceful negotiations.  South Korea and Japan want so because if a crisis breaks out in the Korean peninsula, the ones that suffer the most will be just Seoul and Tokyo, not Washington....  Pursuing a war against Iraq already exposes the U.S. to all kinds of pressure and difficulty.  No one can imagine how miserable the U.S. would be if it has to mobilize all of its resources for two wars at the same time.  Moreover, the DPRK is not Iraq or Afghanistan."


"Why Does Washington De-escalate?"


In Ha Noi Moi, run by Hanoi authorities, Thu Hang wrote (1/10):  "There are signs that tension in the Korean peninsula is beginning to ease after the U.S. announced it would reassume negotiations with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, despite the fact that the country still opens its nuclear reactors....  The reason for the US to have acted in that way is that Washington does not want to impair its relations with Seoul and other close allies in and around the Korean peninsula.   Those countries so far have had a very different approach with regard to the DPRK as in their view, efforts to isolate Pyongyang only makes to situation more tense."




INDIA:  "Dangerous Stand By North Korea" 


Left-of-center Malayalam-language Mathrubhumi opined (1/14):  "When many parts of the world are waging a war for disarmament, North Korea's stand has upset all peace lovers of this world.  Recently, they have denied permission for UN inspectors causing all the furor and fear for this world.  Disclosing their nuclear policies has also sent threat perception across the world.  North Korea has also made it crystal clear that the usage of nuclear weapons by them would entirely depend on what stand America would take.  This is a very dangerous decision on their part.  Whatever be the issues, it should be solved through the UN and the international fraternity.  North Korea's decision has come during a time when even Iraq has permitted unconditional weapons examination.  At a time when the international community is leaving no stone unturned to prevent an attack by America on Iraq, instead of trying to find a solution to the existing problem North Korea shouldn't open the Pandora's box."


"U.S. Attitude Resulting In Nuclear Problems" 


Independent Telugu-language Andhra Prabha commented (1/14):  "North Korea, which was encouraged to sign the NPT by the then Soviet Union in 1985, has now resorted to withdraw from the treaty only because of the wrong attitude being adopted by the Bush administration.  The North Korean government was forced to retaliate due to the unilateral decisions of the U.S. that have affected the sovereignty of other countries."


"Brazen Hypocrisy"


The pro-BJP right-of-center Pioneer opined (1/14):  Rarely has the U.S.' strategic policy been riddled with as much ineptitude and paradox as under President George W Bush. While the US President and his advisors perceive serious threats from Baghdad to global peace, they tend to become stone deaf and blind when North Korea threatens to drag the US through a "sea of fire". No country has dared challenge the US so openly in the recent past....  Remarkably...Bush and his team have limited themselves to making placatory noises and activating mediators to resolve the issue which may just blow up in Washington's face in the near future. The North Korean crisis could not have come at a worse time for the Bush Administration. Some would, of course, say it came at the right time. Such cynicism is natural....  The Bush Administration's hypocrisy is becoming increasingly manifest. Baghdad has been more than willing to comply with grossly unfair demands made by Washington shooting from behind the United Nations. On the other hand, North Korea flouts every possible international convention....  The message for the global community is clear. The strategic policy of the world's only superpower is being undermined by its own double standards."


"An Ominous Decision"


The centrist Hindu observed (1/14):  "North Korea has ratcheted up its confrontation with the global community, especially the U.S., to a dangerous new level....  The semantics of the issue might no longer be of great relevance since North Korea has already expelled the technicians who were monitoring its nuclear facilities on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and disabled the equipment used for this purpose....  In this situation, the main burden of ensuring that North Korea does not become the next nuclear-armed power falls on a U.S. administration which appears to be caught in two minds as to how it should respond to Pyongyang's maneuvers....  Events have taken a very dangerous course and Washington would ill-serve global interests if it did not accord sufficient attention to these developments."


"North Korea Puts America Into Great Difficulty" 


Pro-BJP Calcutta-based Bengali-language Bartaman editorialized (1/14): "While the situation is increasingly boiling in the Gulf, the pacific region at the same time tends to turn terribly volatile. In both cases America happens to be the chief adversary....  Since neither South Korea, Japan, Philippines or Australia possesses nuke weapons they would be devastated at the very outset should DPRK choose to press the N-button....  Keeping an eye out on the ground reality North Korea conjures up the satanic spirit to continually release nuclear threats. But its real motive is to force America into the negotiation process. They want the US to keep the oil supply flowing. Secondly, they want the US to sign a no-aggression pact with DPRK. Thirdly, they want bountiful US financial aid....  However, America would not be able to go to simultaneous wars against Iraq and DPRK. The US is set to begin its war against Iraq, though there is no proof of the latter possessing WMD. Ironically, the US is not considering to attack DPRK even though they posses nuke.  Does it imply that America is whipping up crisis in order to bungle reconciliatory talks between North and South Korea?"


"North Korea's Threat" 


Left-of-center influential Kannada-language Prajavani editorialized (1/13):  "North Korea's announcement that it would come out of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty has jolted the world....  It has stated that, though not interested in the production of nuclear weapons, it would use the nuclear power for peace and developmental activities like power production.  But no one is ready to accept this theory.  Everyone knows that opening up the doors for nuclear production would ultimately lead to the production of nuclear weapons....  America is the main cause for this development.  By including North Korea in the list of evil nations, President George Bush has been engaged in spreading malicious rumors against that country....  North Korea's Communist regime has been facing acute economic problems....  Perhaps North Korean leaders may change their mind if only America could extend financial assistance." 


"Challenge For America"


An editorial in Hindi-language Dainik Hindustan read (1/13):  "Whether it is North Korea or Iraq, the US should proceed only taking world opinion along with it.  After a war is started, it is always difficult to pull back the reins or control it to conventional warfare.  God forbid, if nuclear warfare is unleashed in the process, it will wreak havoc on the whole world.  The United Nations should be the sole arbiter and a solution should be held through talks, and talks only.  Being the sole superpower does not mean that the US can ride roughshod over small nations and impinge upon any other country's sovereignty."


"New Trick Of Pyongyang" 


Independent Calcutta-based Bengali-language Ananda Bazar Patrika opined (1/13):  "In a nutshell, Pyongyang has been blackmailing Washington by creating deep concern for the entire world in a series of well-planned steps. Now, it remains to be observed how the US President reacts while encountering increasingly heightened pressure. It would also be interesting to watch how the UN can influence President Bush and Department of State in this regard. The way even the DPRK's so-called ally Russia has insisted on Pyongyang's holding restraint does not seem so far that North Korea would get any sympathy in this diplomatic battle. DPRK seems certainly to not be banking on China to intervene as its over-enthusiastic friend though Pyongyang is yet to receive any specific advice from the oriental superpower. In this circumstance it was quite natural for the UN to urge DPRK's unilateral backtracking. But till now, the way Pyongyang is behaving deepens the suspicion that things would not be settled so smoothly....  The world remains on tiptoe with baited breath to witness Bush's next move at DPRK while the latter prepares for the imminent war against Iraq." 


"Nuclear Nemesis" 


An editorial in the centrist Times Of India read (1/11):  "North Korea's decision to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) by invoking its supreme national interests under Article X of the treaty is a direct product of the Bush administration's aggressive, unilateralist approach to international security.  In the past 12 months, Pyongyang...has witnessed the manner in which the world has been powerless to prevent Washington's military build-up against Baghdad....  It is clear that the US is as much to blame as the North Koreans....  Whatever the prehistory of the current dispute, it is essential that the US work peacefully to resolve the stand-off.  It is in nobody's interest that North Korea quit the NPT.  The 1994 Agreed Framework must be revived, beginning with the supply of heavy oil, and the US must move rapidly towards establishing normal relations with Pyongyang.  Above all, the US should realize that strident language and the threat of force--whether against North Korea or Iraq--will only further undermine the already weakened architecture of international arms control."


PAKISTAN:   "Rogue America"


Irshad Ahmad Arif wrote a column in second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt (1/14):  "Well-known American scholar William Blum created a commotion last year by writing a book, 'Rogue State.'  The book is a bestseller....  William Blum's rogue America now wants to write a new chapter of state terrorism to end Iraq's 'rascality.'  However, this rogue trembles following the counter threat by North Korea." 


"North Korea For Hell Of Fire"


The Islamabad-based rightist English-language Pakistan Observer (1/14):  "Tension is escalating on the Korean peninsula because of mishandling of the crisis by the arrogant United States.  North Korea lived up to its commitment to freeze its nuclear program as per a 1994 agreement with the United States under which Washington undertook to ensure supply of fuel to the Communist state to meet its energy requirements.  However, Americans unilaterally suspended fuel supplies, forcing Pyongyang to react to safeguard its national interests....  Unlike former President Bill Clinton's policy of 'carrot,' which paid dividends, incumbent President Bush is following the policy of the 'stick.'  It is because of this policy that the United States is today perceived to be the biggest instrument of instability in the world."


"Another Cul De Sac"


An editorial in the center-right national Nation read (1/12):  "When it is said, as President Bush's reported telephonic conversation with Chinese President Jiang Zemin maintains, that the path of mulilateralism needs to be pursued, it is supposed to mean that negotiations would be preferred over rhetoric and strong-arm tactics. North Korea can only be brought back by negotiations. The importance of negotiations needs to be understood not only in the context of the Korean peninsula but also in Iraq. And while North Korea is behaving with reprehensible irresponsibility, its display of independence should serve as an object lesson to many countries, including Pakistan."


SRI LANKA:  "Dual Role Of America"


Government-owned Tamil-language Thinakaran Vaara Manjari commented (1/12):  "America, which is prepared to solve its problems with North Korea through negotiation, is not prepared to offer the similar opportunity to Iraq. Rather, it is making arrangements for war."




CAMEROON:   "North Korea Is Not Iraq"


The Yaounde-based opposition, French-language bi-weekly Aurore Plus (1/6) carried a commentary in which the editorialist Aissatou Yadouko opined: "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." 


"Confronting Nuclear Blackmail Nemesis"


The Yaounde-based bilingual government-owned Cameroon Tribune observed (1/13):  "The U.S. has very few options in the face of North Korea's nuclear brinkmanship....  After announcing its withdrawal from the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation Treaty, North Korea has continued sending mixed signals, vowing to smash US nuclear maniacs in a holy war while at the same time claiming it has no intention of building nuclear bombs....  This presents a double embarrassment for America, as it not only puts the credibility of U.S. foreign policy on line, it makes the Bush administration weak and inconsistent. When the U.S. introduced regime change into the lexicon of international diplomacy, it should have realized that the countries targeted would do everything possible to defend their sovereignty....  Pyongyang's decision to withdraw from the a direct product of the Bush administration's unilateralist approach to international security."


NIGERIA:  "Why Kid Gloves For North Korea?"


Abuja-based independent Daily Trust asked (1/14):  "Just why is North Korea being treated with kid gloves for the same offence for which Iraq has paid with crushing sanctions and the lives of over one million Iraqi children?  The more one looks at it the more one sees that there is more to the Iraqi-U.S. standoff than weapons of mass destruction.  A personal vendetta ostensibly to remove Saddam Hussein for failing to die during Gulf War 1 so that the U.S. could install a puppet regime that will guarantee easy access to Iraqi oil is the most likely drive behind the weapons inspection excuse.  This is why North Korea can get away with reactivating its nuclear plant as well as indulge in provocative sabre-rattling without igniting war."




BRAZIL:  "China Seeks Discretion In The North Korean Crisis"


International analyst Jaime Spitzcovsky wrote in liberal Folha de S. Paulo (1/13):  "A crisis engineered by North Korea would bring as its logical consequence deep involvement by its main economic and political partner, China. Beijing, however, wants to maintain a secondary role in the current imbroglio....  The Chinese government believes that if it joins the nations pressing for an end to North Korean nuclear ambitions, Pyongyang might experience a sense of isolation and despair, resulting in a worsening of the impasse....  China is watching the crisis unfold with apprehension, but deems it more prudent to maintain a discreet role....  The current crisis coincides with a transition of power in China....  For Beijing's leaders, the domestic political agenda and efforts to speed up economic growth are the priorities. China is aware that although it is Pyongyang's major ally, its capacity to influence dictator Kim Jong-il is limited."


CANADA:  "Who Can Blame N.Korea?"


Columnist Thomas Walkom pointed out in the liberal Toronto Star (1/14):  "First, Bush announced that the U.S. reserved the right to start a war against any country that it thought might be a threat at some time in the future. He also said that, in such a war, the U.S. might use nuclear weapons first.  Second, Bush announced that the U.S. would not allow its military monopoly to be challenged. In effect, he warned that any nation trying to obtain nuclear weapons in order to forestall a future U.S. attack could be subject to immediate attack.  Third, Bush set out a list of targets, his so-called axis of evil: Iraq, Iran and North Korea. Then he announced Iraq would be the first. What was North Korea to think? What was Iran to think? One may not like either of these regimes, but their reaction should be perfectly predictable: Go all out to arm themselves with nuclear weapons while Bush is busy with Iraq. Then and only then might Washington be dissuaded from launching its next pre-emptive war. So that is what Iran, quietly and with the help of the Russians, is doing. And that's what North Korea, far more noisily, is also doing. It is arming itself to stave off what Bush has all but promised. Any sensible country would do the same."


"Get Saddam Hussein Before He Turns Into Another Kim Jong-il"


Columnist George Jonas noted in the nationalist Ottawa Citizen (1/13):  "If in 1994 the right strategy was to dispatch more U.S. forces to the Korean peninsula, today the right strategy is to withdraw the forces already there....  North Korean missile technology can't yet harm Americans unless the Pentagon places troops as targets next door.  With the potential hostages removed, the U.S. can get on with the business at hand, which is to make sure that Saddam Hussein is rendered harmless before he, too, develops into a Kim Jong-il.  If anyone ever wondered why Saddam needs to be dealt with right now, before dealing with him exacts a much higher price, the examples of the two Kims, Senior and Junior, illustrate it perfectly....  None of this should mean that the U.S. forgets about North Korea.  There are coalitions to be built in the region.  There are nuclear submarines to be dispatched to the far reaches of the Pacific.  The time may be here for Japan to assume a serious role in its own security.  'Dear Leader' Kim needs to be surrounded by a ring of fire."


“Eye To Eye”


The conservative tabloid Ottawa Sun opined (1/13):   “The one difficulty for Bush is that since he has named North Korea as one-third of the ‘axis of evil’ in his war on terror, the others being Iran and Iraq, it raises the issue of why the U.S. seems bent on reaching diplomatic solutions with North Korea, while invading Iraq. Actually, the two cases are quite different, but the ideal solution to both would be the same. That is, that both Saddam and Kim Jong-il abandon their mad pursuit of weapons of mass destruction (and Saddam quits Iraq) in the face of serious and unrelenting multinational pressure, either through the UN, or through broad coalitions of nations acting in concert. That's because war, while it may at times be necessary, should only be used as a last resort.”


"Kim Vs. Saddam"


The centrist Winnipeg Free Press editorialized (1/9):  "North Korea almost certainly has one or two nuclear weapons now; in a year or two it will have more--and more sophisticated ones. North Korea today is in a position to use nuclear blackmail against its neighbors and even the U.S.  Another Korean war would almost certainly go nuclear and cost hundreds of thousands of lives. That is why Washington must negotiate with Pyongyang. It is also why the U.S. and its allies must force a regime change in Iraq before Saddam can achieve the status of Mr. Kim, before Saddam can put together the weapons of mass destruction that will leave him similarly immune to external attack and his neighbors vulnerable to his megalomaniacal whims."


"North Korea Leader Crazy Like A Fox"


Columnist Richard Gwyn commented in the liberal Toronto Star (1/8):  "The U.S. won't talk to North Korea until it stops its nuclear program.  North Korea won't stop its program until the U.S. starts to talk to it.  Enter South Korea....  South Korea is touting a compromise by which Bush would write a letter to Kim promising no military action while at the same time North Korea stops reactivating its plutonium supplies and allows international inspectors to return to the country.  Something like this is virtually certain to happen, although, to save Washington's face, North Korea will first have to stop its nuclear program and only then, but by pre-arrangement, will come the reassuring letter....  There is one other critical difference between Iraq and North Korea.  Kim may well be crazy.  But he's crazy like a fox.  As cult leaders often are."


"Nuclear War Threat Returns"


The centrist Winnipeg Free Press editorialized (1/5):  "Even as the U.S. and its allies prepare for war with Iraq and watch events in Iran, it is the threat from North Korea that most urgently demands attention.  What to do about it?  Every possible answer to that question poses risks that the world has not faced for 40 years, since the Cuban missile crisis.  This year, however, the question that faces the world is far bigger than just North Korea.  The hope of nuclear non-proliferation now seems to be fading fast."


CHILE:  "Iraq Or North Korea?"


Top-circulation, popular Santiago-based La Tercera ran an editorial that declared (1/13):  "On January 10, as the United States awaited Pyongyang's decision about initiating a round of talks to peacefully resolve the issue of nuclear development, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty....  In spite of the Asian government's threats and the imminent danger North Korea represents, Washington direct its missiles at Baghdad.  This is hard to understand: North Korea may already have nuclear weapons and the missiles to launch them.  Plus, it sells weapons to Syria and Pakistan, has protected terrorists many times and no one denies the possibility that it is supplying arms to extremist groups like Al Qaeda.  Its leader, Kim Jong Il, has bankrupted the country and most of his people live in fear and hunger....  But North Korea does not have oil.  This, despite the fact that the White House will not admit it, counts for a lot....  If Hussein is not stopped now, in the near future he could gain the necessary time and experience to accumulate the weapons of mass destruction that would enable him to...dominate his neighbors, who have the largest oil reserves and--ultimately--the world's energy.  This transforms U.S. interests into global interests.  If the U.S. stays in Iraq and provides the material and human resources to rebuild that country and its democratic process, using oil to help the Iraqi people rather than to build weapons, it would legitimize war as a means to peace in the Middle East....  The North Korean matter is different.  President Bush's government can envision itself seriously hurt by Pyongyang's considerable destructive capacity, which includes chemical and biological weapons.  To this, one must add the possibility of a bloody attack on South Korea, a U.S. ally and one of the principal Asian economies.  Much risk for little reward."


JAMAICA:  "Nuclear Warheads And The North Korean Case"


Professor in Government at the University of the West Indies and former Cuban diplomat Dr. Ivan Martinez argued in the centrist, business-oriented Jamaica Observer (1/13):  "The recent announcement by the North Korean government that they would restart the production of nuclear warheads suddenly added a new dimension to an already complex and perilous international relations climate....  If a poor country full of famine and starvation is capable of dedicating large sums of money to this military enterprise, instead of using it to develop its economic resources for the well-being of its population, this must come to the attention of the entire humanity, that we are living in an insane and absurd world....  It is important to underscore that most countries of the world are very concerned with this situation. Countries like Algeria, Argentina, Belarus, Brazil, Cuba, Kazakhstan, South Africa and Ukraine, once regarded as nuclear aspirants have changed their position and have joined the non-proliferation treaty....  The South Korean president is more inclined to continue talks with the Communist North without much noise. The United States and the international community is concerned with these nuclear developments. There are cynical comments which indicate that maybe the North, impoverished and isolated, once reunified in the near future with the powerful South--the only good thing that could bring to the merger would be its nuclear arsenal, thereby making the Korean peninsula a strong power in that area of the world where they have China and Japan as their strongest neighbours."


"Tensions On The Korean peninsula"


Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies Dr. John Rapley argued in the moderate, influential Daily Gleaner (1/9):  "Having named North Korea in his landmark 'axis of evil' speech a year ago--something he probably now regrets doing--Mr. Bush must now explain why he is itching for a fight with Saddam Hussein but calling for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il....  That is because on the face of it, North Korea poses the greater danger. It has an active nuclear programme and is believed to already possess nuc-lear bombs; Iraq does not.  North Korea has expelled weapons inspectors; Iraq has invited them in....  Why is the U.S. administration playing down the Korean threat while sticking to its guns on Iraq? The fact is, Kim Jong Il has America where he wants it....  U.S. policy in Korea is made even more difficult by the rising tide of anti-Americanism in South Korea. Many South Koreans, who support newly-elected president Roh Moo Hyun, are calling for American troops to leave South Korea. Many Americans, tired of the Korean commitment, would like to concur. But the administration fears this would send a bad signal to the region, and possibly trigger an arms war....  Thus, it ends up talking softly and accepting the South Korean line, which is to call for diplomacy and mediation. Meanwhile, the irony of Mr. Bush's call for vigilance against Iraq is not lost on U.S. allies. And the message--that the best way to prevent a US invasion is to pose a grave danger--may encourage real or potential members of the so-called axis of evil to speed up their own weapons programmes."


PERU:  "The North Korean Threat"


Straightforward, flagship El Comercio commented (1/13):  "The pro-war attitude of North Korea has added a new worry to the international community that we hope the diplomatic offensive can solve....  As analysts have noted, it creates serious problems in one of the most complex regions....  This situation is also interpreted as the result of the 'pull-and-release' (strategy) in the U.S.-North Korean relationship with regard to nuclear programs.  Some people think that Pyongyang might be pressing the Bush Administration to negotiate the suspension of its nuclear activities in exchange for U.S. aid....  The truth is that the world cannot step back from...its fight against the arms race and eradication of conventional and unconventional weapons. Therefore, it is the world's responsibility to gather around the UN to find a solution that guarantees international security." 



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