International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

April 22, 2003

April 22, 2003





**  The prevailing view was that "the North learned a lesson" from the war in Iraq, which is why it "has agreed to dialogue."  But others, mostly on the left, contended that Washington's aggressive policies threaten to "trigger a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia."


**  The talks set for 23-25 April in Beijing are needed to prevent a "messy military conflict."


**  Seoul, Tokyo and Moscow see exclusion from the meeting as a "bitter disappointment."




Pyongyang's willingness to talk is a 'vindication' of Bush's 'nuanced approach'--  DPRK acceptance resulted from the U.S.' "determination to deal with nations suspected of possessing WMD" and the "overwhelming military might" shown in Iraq.  Japan's moderate Yomiuri stated the "collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime" played the "decisive role" in Kim Jong Il's decision to open talks.  Russian and Indian dailies agreed the U.S. had been "fully successful" in persuading Pyongyang to "voice its readiness for talks of any multilateral format."


Kim thinks he can 'contain the U.S. by developing nuclear weapons'--  U.S. threats of a "unilateral military campaign" caused Pyongyang to decide "the only way to keep the U.S. at bay is to maintain a real nuclear deterrent" and revealed the "counter-productive effect of the U.S. "policies of regime change," according to leftist dailies.  Russia's neo-communist Slovo said the DPRK's behavior proved "the current security and nuclear non-proliferation system" is "unreliable and shaky," while China's official International Herald Leader advised the U.S. against "impetuous and careless actions" such as setting "the DPRK as its next target."


'Dialogue is the only correct way to resolve the DPRK nuclear issue'--  The Beijing talks offer a new opportunity to "resolve peacefully the smoldering conflict in North East Asia."  Conservative papers in London and Bangkok supported North Korea's "step back from nuclear blackmail" and commitment to "at least talk to the outside world."  Chinese and leftist dailies urged the U.S. to "abandon its hostile policy" and focus on negotiations because "military action is not a serious option."  Prioritizing a "peaceful resolution," Seoul's left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun stressed that the DPRK's "claims of nuclear reprocessing" must be prevented "from derailing the three-way talks."


Neighbors urge a 'wider dialogue'--  ROK outlets found Seoul's exclusion "extremely regrettable."  Independent Joong-ang Ilbo expressed "anger at the North's two-faced attitude of demanding our aid while excluding us."  Other papers said that Seoul cannot remain just an "onlooker" because its "interests are direct and vital."  Russian and Japanese papers also urged "multilateral talks with all six nations" involved.  Reformist Izvestiya termed Moscow no longer "a strong and independent player in East Asia" after having been "taken out...of multilateral negotiations."

EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This survey is based on 43 reports from 16 countries over 16 - 22 April 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




GREAT BRITAIN:  "China Syndrome"


The conservative Times declared (4/22):  "The description 'totalitarian tyranny' hardly does justice to the injustice visited on a population denied the most basic of necessities but fed a daily diet of nonsense lauding the extraordinary achievements of the Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, whose family’s indulgence in self-aggrandising iconography makes Saddam Hussein seem a relatively modest man.  Pyongyang had previously insisted on bilateral negotiations with Washington, but the US sensibly demanded that China participate, recognising that this hardest of hard cases needs a multilateral, multilayered approach. A hitherto reluctant Beijing, traditionally an ally of the North but which now pretends to have little or no influence on that country, must get involved, if only for the sake of self-interest; escalating tension in North-East Asia would certainly not be good for business.  It is reassuring that the head hermit of the 'hermit kingdom' has agreed that his deprived country should at least talk to the outside world. Washington will be understandably wary of any agreement, given that Pyongyang violated a 1994 pact under which fuel oil was exported to North Korea in return for an end to its nuclear weapons programme. The difference this time is China’s involvement. Beijing can prove that it deserves a place at the top table by assisting in the resolution of one of the world’s most perilous predicaments or, as with its initial response to SARS, it can make the potentially fatal mistake of feigning ignorance."


"North Korea Next:  Pyongyang Feels The Grave Digger's Breath"


The liberal Guardian editorialized (4/20):  "The crisis over North Korea's nuclear plans is an object lesson in the counter-productive effect of announced policies of regime change. Once a government thinks it is in a superpower's sights, it becomes harder to negotiate a compromise and, if the target state has the means to develop weapons of mass destruction, to persuade it not to do so....  Its sense that it was under threat or, at least, that it had enemies who devoutly wished it to expire, had some basis in fact....  During the fighting in Iraq the North Korean foreign ministry ominously pronounced that the conflict suggests that 'disarmament through inspection does not help avert a war but rather sparks it' and that "even the signing of a non-aggression treaty with the US" would not prevent such a war. So the news that talks between the US, North Korea and China are due to begin next week is especially welcome....  The US, which had wanted all the main regional actors involved, has agreed for the moment to be content with a triangular forum. America has hard choices here. North Korea in the past has reneged on agreements, accepted inducements to restore them, then reneged once more. That could happen again....  Yet military action is not a serious option....  Letting things stay as they are, with North Korea advancing to the point of regular production of nuclear weapons and their possible sale to others, is not a solution either. That leaves negotiations. They should be pursued with the utmost seriousness."


"Now North Korea Must Be Invaded And Liberated, For The Sake Of Its People"


Johann Hari wrote in the center-left Independent (4/18):  "Let's look at North Korea. We imagine that the world has shrunk and even the worst places on earth are only a live broadcast away, yet the sole remaining fully Stalinist state is a dark abyss about which we know very little....  But a crack in the seal of North Korean tyranny has opened, allowing us a glimpse into a world we had not imagined....  Starvation is endemic in North Korea because of the government's catastrophic economic system....  It is tempting to argue that the solution to the horrific suffering in this country is to flood it with humanitarian aid--but the people who have tried that very tactic say that it does not work. Most refugees say they never saw a drop of food aid--despite almost one million tonnes flooding into the country every year since 1994....  The diplomatic route--which Colin Powell is trying to relaunch next week when he meets with the North's neighbour, China--might deal with WMD, but would do nothing about the human rights abuses. Does anyone think in all conscience that we should deal only with the bomb factories, and ignore the human rights abuses? No, no, no. America's fear about WMD should be directed to do some wider good.  The nations of the world united through the UN (and we can all surely agree that Kim Jong Il is the last person alive who we'd like to have his finger on a nuclear button) must take out the North's nukes with a targeted use of special forces, intelligence and bombing. This is not as dangerous as it sounds....  North Korea--if the regime doesn't implode--can then be invaded and liberated. It should be pointed out that the British government is sceptical of this solution....  Any decision today to stand by while the people of North Korea are butchered, battered and starved will be--to coin a phrase--Not in My Name."


GERMANY:  "New Chance"


Peter Sturm judged in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (4/17):  “It may be attractive to speculate whether it was really the quick victory of the allies which drove North Korea back to the negotiating table.  Only one thing is important now: There is a new chance to resolve peacefully the smoldering conflict in North East Asia.  From what one hears, the Americans have established informal contacts with North Korea for quite some time.  And nothing speaks against the assumption that they tried to find out whether North Korea is willing to accept a peaceful solution.  China, too, seems to have used its influence.  Both developments obviously impressed the North Korean regime to such a degree that it is wiling to accept “new forms’ of talks....  In any case, a way out has been found that saves face of all sides involved.  But this does not say anything about the success of the failure of the talks.  South Korea has now fallen a bit offside.  The North does not want the South to take part in these talks.  That is the reason why the South Korean government, which has constantly demanded such talks, said that it hopes to be included in the talks some day in the future.”


“Stone Age Warriors”


Stefan Kornelius noted in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (4/17):  “Washington is disarming its nuclear weapons, but does not want to sign the Test Stop Treaty....  With respect to the Bio-Weapons convention, the Bush administration refuses to sign the Verification Protocol on their disarmament, while Washington acts as a model pupil when it comes to the destruction of chemical weapons.  But those who want to push the genie back into the bottle should not play this genie.  Washington must act as a model pupil if it wants to continue to exert internationally legitimized pressure on the illegitimate ABC powers.  The treatment of North Korea is exemplary:  Pyongyang has now declared its willingness to address the arms problem in talks with China and the United States. According to Washington’s will, disarmament is not turning into a bilateral matter, and the Bush administration acknowledged as an aside the value of multilateral policy.”


ITALY:  “U.S., North Korea Try Negotiating”


Roberto Rezzo wrote in pro-Democratic Left party L’Unita (4/22):  “President Bush lets it be known that there are ‘good chances’ of convincing North Korea to suspend its nuclear programs through diplomatic pressure, but the party of the ‘hawks’ at the White House is pushing for an Iraqi-style solution.  On the eve of the multilateral talks that will begin tomorrow  in Beijing among the United States, North Korea and China, U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld mentioned the idea of creating a Washington-Beijing axis in order to topple North Korean dictator Kim Jong II.  The plan is detailed in a confidential memorandum that has been circulated among Administration top officials, including Vice President Cheney but, apart from the details, it is clear that it clashes with the strategy defined by the State Department: i.e., to convince Kim Jong II that the United States has no intention whatsoever of toppling him.”


”North Korea Gives In And Negotiates”


Renato Ferraro said in centrist, top-circulation Corriere della Sera (4/17):  “Made more conciliatory by the show of U.S. military strength and the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, North Korean leader Kim Jong II, the tyrant of the second nation included by Bush in the Evil Axis, stopped pledging ‘death and destruction’ against the United States and accepted, instead, to begin talks next week in Beijing.  Six months after the explosion of the crisis, prompted by North Korea’s admission to programs aimed at producing nuclear weapons, the impasse between the two sides was broken by Chinese mediators, who proposed a compromise.”


RUSSIA:  "Kim Jong Il Impressed"


Andrey Piontkovskiy remarked in reformist Novaya Gazeta (4/21):  "North Korea having come around to voice its readiness for talks of any multilateral format is a political sensation that may not have been noticed by all, with those reports about the fall of the Baghdad regime.   Trying to explain that decision, many analysts say that Kim Jong Il must have been impressed with his Iraqi colleague's fate."


"U.S. Remains Firm"


Vasiliy Golovnin observed in reformist business-oriented Kommersant (4/21): "By making confused statements, North Korea is clearly attempting to raise the stakes now in order to gain more later.  But the Americans are not going to let up on that, making it plain that, should the meeting in Beijing take place, they will insist on the total liquidation of all components of Pyongyang's nuclear program, including on the physical destruction of its reactors and laboratories."


"Current Security System Shaky"


Vitaliy Gan asserted in neo-communist weekly Slovo (4/18):  "The Iraq adventure has won Bush bagfuls of political capital.  He is the first in a long line of U.S. presidents to have spectacularly upheld the antiquated Pax Americana concept.  In the case of the unjustifiably defiant North Korea, it looks different, though.  Pyongyang's behavior is a stark testament to the current security and nuclear non-proliferation system being unreliable and shaky." 


 "Russia Told Not To Bother"


Vasiliy Golovnin wrote in reformist Izvestiya (4/17):  "For all its diplomatic vigor and activity over Korean affairs, Russia has (at least for now) been taken out of the process of multilateral negotiations concerning Pyongyang's withdrawal from nuclear non-proliferation.  The current format of the talks shows that aside from the United States, only China has been recognized as a strong and independent player in East Asia."


IRELAND:  "Sutherland Sold Nuclear Reactors To 'Axis Of Evil'"


The populist, center-right weekly Sunday Independent carried an article by Eoghan Williams stating (4/20):  "Former Irish Attorney General Peter Sutherland and US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld helped sell nuclear reactors worth $200m to North Korea....  The multimillion-dollar reactor deal was struck just a year before President George W Bush branded the reclusive communist state part of an 'axis of evil'. American nuclear experts warned last week that radioactive components from the reactors could be used to develop powerful nuclear weapons. Now Pyongyang says this is exactly what it intends to do. Mr Sutherland and Mr Rumsfeld, who work together on several high-level projects, were both board members of a Zurich-based energy company, ABB, which sold two light-water nuclear reactors to the communists in 2000.  The pair simultaneously stepped down from the ABB board a year later when Mr Rumsfeld was drafted into the Bush administration."




AUSTRALIA:  "Rogues Rethink"


Les Hollings held in the conservative tabloid Sunday Mail (4/20):  "What a difference a stunning victory makes.  Rogue North Korea is beginning to talk sensibly about its nuclear future and Syria, controller of Lebanon, could back Middle East peace moves rather than Hezbollah terrorists.  In a welcome change of heart, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is to have three-way talks with the US and China in Beijing this week.  Hopefully, this might lead to the North returning to the global non-nuclear proliferation treaty.  Similarly, Syria is becoming more flexible about its relations with the West.  A less aggressive Syria could make all the difference as Mr Bush produces his road map for Middle East peace.  An exchange of Iraqi oil for Syrian food might tempt al-Assad to stop supporting anti-Israel terrorism in Lebanon and withdraw his 20,000 'peacekeeping' troops.  First, though, Iraq has to be reconstituted and rehabilitated quickly before the people's new-found freedom sours and the nation splinters into rival factions.  That would set back all our hopes for a fresh start in the Middle East and Korea."


"N. Korea, U.S. Back From Brink"


Stephen Lunn commented in the conservative Australian  (4/19):  "The US and North Korea each gave ground this week in the acrimonious nuclear crisis threatening northeast Asia, paving the way for face-to-face talks starting next Wednesday in Beijing.  China will join the initial meeting aimed at dealing with North Korea's nuclear ambitions, with key regional players South Korea, Japan and Russia being brought into the talks as negotiations progress.  Pyongyang backtracked last weekend on its demand for one-to-one talks with Washington. The US had wanted a broader multilateral forum to discuss North Korea's suspected covert nuclear weapons program, but accepted the staged approach in a bid to get the talks started....  Secretary of State Colin Powell attributed the change of heart to the rapid US success in Iraq....  The new talks were expected to ease concerns North Korea's nuclear ambitions could lead the region into a messy military conflict, but US officials said they were only at the start of a very long process.  Pyongyang wanted security guarantees and economic assistance. Washington wanted an ironclad, transparent and verifiable dismantling of North Korea's nuclear capability. The diplomatic breakthrough did little to sway international opinion about North Korea's human rights violations, with the UN Human Rights Commission adopting a resolution criticising the North's human rights record....  If survival is Kim's only aim, will he conclude that the only way to keep the US at bay is to maintain a real nuclear deterrent?"


CHINA:  “China Strenuously Helped To Bring About DPRK-U.S. Talks: ROK Opinion Thinks China Has Contributed The Most To The ‘Trilateral Talks’”


Xu Baokang and Ren Yujun noted in official Communist Party-run international news publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (4/21):  “Experts from various countries commonly think that the ‘trilateral talks’ are just the start of a peaceful resolution to the DPRK nuclear issue.  Dialogue is what all people hope to see in spite of lots of future difficulties in resolving the DPRK nuclear crisis.”


"DPRK Is Not Iraq"


Gao Haorong commented in the official Xinhua News Agency international news publication International Herald Leader (Guoji Xianqu Daobao)(4/18):  “The differences and similarities between the DPRK and Iraq give a clue that parties concerned need to increase the chances for peace and restrict the ‘precedented effect’ of war....  The most essential thing at the moment is to emphasize that dialogue is the only correct way to resolve the DPRK nuclear issue....  The U.S. should be warned not to be dizzy by its victory, not to take impetuous and careless actions toward the Northern Korean peninsula and not to set the DPRK as its next target.”


“DPRK Nuclear Crisis Is Essentially A Trust Crisis”


Guo Hui commented in China Radio International-sponsored World News Journal (Shijie Xinwenbao, 4/17):  "Experts think once the DPRK nuclear crisis evolves to the stage of breaking out, its aftermath and influence will surpass the Iraqi crisis....  The DPRK nuclear crisis is essentially a trust crisis and trust cannot be established in a short time. This is definitely true especially after a long-time distrust.  This means the DPRK crisis is even harder to resolve....  What is incomprehensible is: The latest DPRK nuclear crisis resulted from a translation problem. That is, the key statement of DPRK was mis-translated from ‘DPRK has the right to possess nuclear weapons’ to ‘DPRK has possessed nuclear weapons’. Outsiders have no way to know that whether DPRK said ‘have right to possess’ or ‘has possessed’ at the talk, and whether it is DPRK who corrected its statement afterwards or it is the U.S. who made the best of the mistake.”


“DPRK’s Attitude Arouses Great Concern"


Xu Baokang wrote in official Communist Party-run international news publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao, 4/16):  “Experts on DPRK issue pointed out three reasons why DPRK changed its stand: China exerted influence; UN Security Council vetoed the resolution of DPRK nuclear issue and it made DPRK decide on an attitude change; and, DPRK does not want to confront the U.S., hoping for a peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue.”


CHINA (HONG KONG & MACAU SARS):  "China's Korean Initiative Vital For A Stable Region"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post said in an editorial (4/18):  "As North Korea's closest diplomatic and economic ally, China holds a pivotal position in the discussions.  That it has taken the much-needed step to act as host reveals its concern over events on the Korean peninsula.  China's offer is also proof of the desire of its leaders to play a more prominent role on the international diplomatic stage....  The U.S. insisted on multilateral negotiations.  Although Mr. Bush and his officials have denied any intention to take military action--a difficult proposition when third countries would automatically be involved--the ease with which Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was toppled was doubtless watched with growing alarm by Mr. Kim.  South Korea and Japan, facing North Korea's one-million-strong army and its missiles, have rightly expressed unease.  The situation has not been helped by the differing opinions of the Bush administration and the South's new president, Roh Moo-hyun, about how to deal with the North.  The U.S. has demonstrated with devastating clarity its unwillingness to accept weapons proliferation by rogue nations.  North Korea's decision to change tack and accept China's offer to mediate gives hope that proliferation will cease to be an impediment to regional security.  It must also be the start of a wider dialogue to end concerns about North Korea."


"Damage Control"


Frank Ching declared in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (4/17):  "South Korea is working hard to repair its alliance with the U.S., which was badly damaged last year during the presidential election campaign, when anti-American sentiment spread across the country....  During the campaign, Roh Moo-hyun, the eventual winner, repeatedly called for more balance in South Korea's relationship with the US and demanded a revision of the status-of-forces agreement between the two countries....  Mr. Roh has finally been forced to confront reality.  In effect, the U.S. called his bluff and he had to back down.  But it is by no means clear that the alliance can be restored to its previous robust state....  Mr. Roh, who has never been to the U.S., will visit Washington next month for talks with President George W. Bush and other American officials.  To a large extent, the future of the alliance depends on the outcome of that visit."


"North Korea Wise To Accept Multilateral Talks "


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (4/16):  "There are many reasons for Pyongyang to give up its insistence on direct negotiations with the U.S.  American troops easily defeated Iraq, revealing the U.S. determination to take 'pre-emptive' measures, as well as the power of three-dimensional warfare.  The U.S. may take a tougher stance towards the North Korean nuclear crisis, which may be a reason for Pyongyang to adjust its policy.  It is also important to note South Korean, Chinese and Russian insistence on a peaceful resolution to the crisis.  All three have tried their best to mediate the crisis and have submitted concrete plans to resolve it....  Pyongyang believes it can contain the U.S. by developing nuclear weapons and strategic missiles.  This is a dangerous game, however, one that will trigger a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia.  South Korea has already commented on the importance of mastering nuclear weapons.  Japan is waiting for the opportunity to expand and can now plausibly contemplate launching a spy satellite, studying the introduction of new missiles, and adopting 'pre-emptive measures' to counter missile attacks.  Japan has also proposed strengthening its Self Defense Force.  In the long run, what good will this do for North Korea's security and development?  Rather than escalate the crisis with demands for direct dialogue with the U.S., North Korea should take the more pragmatic approach of holding multilateral talks to resolve the crisis soon....  The ball is now in the U.S. court.  It is up to Washington to abandon its hostile policy towards North Korea and sign a non-aggression pact."


JAPAN:  "Pyongyang Up To Old Tricks"


Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri opined (4/20):  "North Korea is doing it again--using its nuclear development program as a bargaining chip.  North Korea announced it was in the final phase of reprocessing more than 8,000 spent nuclear fuel rods, a process that could enable Pyongyang to build nuclear bombs.  Even as it agreed to take part in multilateral talks that it had previously rejected, North Korea opted for the provocation of flashing its nuclear bargaining chip--typical behavior for Pyongyang....  North Korea's actions should fool no one.  One aspect of North Korea's decision to hold talks with the United States and China is clear--that the United States' determination to deal with nations suspected of possessing weapons of mass destruction and the overwhelming military might it displayed in the Iraq war impressed North Korean leader Kim Jong Il....  It is important to make North Korea recognize the international community's uncompromising determination to stop Pyongyang's nuclear development....  The focus must now be on forcing North Korea to abandon its nuclear development and establishing a rigid inspection mechanism to make certain it does so....  Japan, the United States and South Korea...reaffirmed their intention to work together to pressure Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program.  The three countries, however, do not necessary share identical views of North Korea.The gap between the United States and South Korea in their Pyongyang approaches is especially conspicuous. While U.S. President George W. Bush's administration says no option, including military action, should be eliminated, South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun's government favors reconciliation....  North Korea should realize the price that it must pay for the game of brinkmanship it chose to play."


"U.S., China, DPRK Talks:  Towards Sustaining A Multilateral Framework"


Liberal Mainichi declared (4/18):  "It is supposed that North Korea, which until now has always insisted on bilateral talks with the U.S. to discuss nuclear issues, agreed to multilateral talks due to both the strong pressure from neighboring countries that feel threatened and the strong position shown by the U.S. in Iraq.  Although it is not the six-party talks, including Russia, South Korea and Japan, the outcome is that North Korea was pushed into the seat for dialogue....   On 6 April, the North Korean foreign ministry said, in relation to the Iraq war, "Neither international opinion nor the UN's articles prevented the U.S. war.  The lesson is that only by possessing a strong military deterrent power can we stop a war and protect our nation and people's safety."  The extreme measure of maintaining nuclear weapons to protect Kim Jong Il's system is not only wrong, but it also just deepens the country's isolation.  For as long as the country doesn't dispose of its WMD, the internaitonal community won't help it....  Continuing to stop the presence of Japan in a seat at the talks will only prove fruitless for North Korea as well....  Changing to nation-building for the sake of enriching its people's lives means throwing out the priority on military issues and cooperative relations with Japan and South Korea are necessary....  For progress in solving the DPRK nuclear issue, it is necessary to move from three-way talks between China, the U.S. and North Korea to basic multilateral talks with all six nations.  We urge China and the U.S. to work towards that goal."


"Iraq War And DPRK"


Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri observed (4/18):  "The upcoming trilateral (U.S.-DPRK-China) meeting in Beijing on the DPRK's nuclear weapons program should not be considered a cause for optimism. Kim Jong Il, who is developing WMD, had good reason to be awed by overwhelming U.S. military power shown in Iraq.  The collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime has played a decisive role in causing the North Korean leader to change his mind.  The meeting is aimed at persuading Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear arms development in a verifiable manner.  Eventually, Japan and South Korea will have to join talks on the North's WMD problem.  The GOJ should take all necessary measures--in close cooperation with the U.S.--to prevent North Korea from arming itself with nuclear weapons."


"Hopes Pinned On U.S.-China Cooperation in Resolving DPRK's Nuclear Crisis"


Liberal Asahi editorialized (4/17):  "The Bush administration has decided to hold a trilateral (U.S.-DPRK-China) meeting in Beijing starting next Wednesday to discuss a solution to North Korea's nuclear development. Given the current confrontational stance between the U.S. and DPRK, difficult negotiations are more likely at the scheduled senior working-level meeting.  But it is significant that the U.S. and North Korea have agreed to sit down and discuss measures to avert the North's nuclear brinkmanship. Not to be overlooked is the key role that China played in arranging the talks. Both Japan and South Korea should give support to the realization of progress in the talks."


"Why Does Japan Choose To Remain Naked To The Threat Of North Korean Missiles?"


Robyn Lim wrote in the leftist, English-language Japan Times (4/16):  "North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, fearing that he is next on U.S. President George W. Bush's list for "regime change," is openly threatening Japan with his Nodong missiles. Yet Japan chooses to remain naked to this threat. Why doesn't it ask for PAC-3 (Patriot) missiles to be deployed by U.S. forces in Japan?....  Japan should also be drawing attention to the fact that an attack on any of the major U.S. bases in Japan would also constitute an attack on the United Nations. That's because those bases also fly the U.N. flag....  North Korea has developed missiles targeted at U.S. bases in Japan, with the purpose of impeding operations from those bases in the event of another war....  North Korea is now able to threaten Japan before the U.S. and Japan can deploy missile defenses. Both alliance partners have contributed to this sorry state of affairs. In the 1994 North Korean nuclear crisis, the Clinton administration struck a deal with North Korea that kicked the nuclear problem down the road. That arrangement did nothing to address the growing Nodong threat to Japan....  For its part, Japan did little to help itself. In the 1994 crisis, the timidity of Japan and South Korea undermined American resolve....  Since then, Japan has dragged the chain on missile defense, ostensibly on grounds of cost, but in reality because of Chinese opposition. China rails against missile defense partly because it fears such defenses would nullify China's small nuclear arsenal....  The longer Japan opts to remain naked to the Nodong threat, the more emboldened North Korea and China will become."


PHILIPPINES:  "Biting Off More Than It Can Chew"


Teodoro Benigno stated in the independent Philippine Star (4/16):  "Now the leaders of America are laying it thick on Syria. The warning is that unless Syria, according to the U.S. allegation, stops giving refuge to pro-Saddam Iraqi leaders fleeing Iraq, then it too will experience American wrath....  If America is on a war momentum, the whole world has a right to be scared....  If Syria is indeed next, and after Syria, North Korea, America, I am afraid, will be biting off more than it can chew....  An American attack on Syria or North Korea will bring in Russia, China, Japan and South Korea. The limits of American power will be tested--and beaten back....  I haven't mentioned China.  Americans, as a general rule, are wary, even afraid of China. Prof. Joseph Nye cites polls that show "half of the American people thinks China will pose the biggest challenge to U.S. world power status in the next one hundred years."


SINGAPORE:  "Mind The Details"


The pro-government influential Straits Times opined (4/16):  "United States President George W. Bush had good reason to be smug when he said on Sunday his multinational formula for talks to settle the North Korean nuclear issue was 'coming to fruition'. It vindicated his vastly different approaches towards Iraq and North Korea on the question of meeting perceived threats to U.S. security: war against one and persuasion with the other....  But the Bush administration should be attentive about detail, even as Pyongyang has acceded to the principle of a multinational framework for talks. As far as can be made out from remarks made by a foreign ministry official, the country's premise that only the U.S. can guarantee its security has not changed....  If the US is generous with its invitations to the party, Pyongyang will not be amused. Plenary talks are only the lead-in to a bilateral process on security and economic bargaining....  North Korea will object to the presence of Russia and Japan, as it is focused on its goal of having a non-aggression treaty with the US to replace the 1953 armistice which ended the Korean War. Pyongyang contends that Russia and Japan have no say on Korean security, a position China shares. But it would accept the EU, for the promise of economic support. Those who recall the skirmishing over the shape of the table that preceded the Vietnam peace talks in Paris would not laugh. Preliminaries can render a process stillborn."


SOUTH KOREA:  "North Korea's 'Nuclear Reprocessing Gamble' Will Not Pay Off"


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo editorialized (4/21):  "North Korea's recent announcement [on nuclear reprocessing] leaves it uncertain whether it is in the final stage of preparing for reprocessing spent fuel rods or in the final stage of reprocessing the spent fuel rods. Either way, North Korea has lost more international credibility....  If Pyongyang still believes that its brinkmanlike tactics will work on the Bush Administration, it would do well to worry about the consequences of a misjudgment.  In the war in Iraq, the Bush Administration did not waver from its preemptive strategy even lacking a UN resolution and in the face of opposition from France and Germany.  Pyongyang should think seriously about how Washington will respond to its announcement....  The best policy for the North for now is to abandon its nuclear programs, put an end to its isolation, and let other countries help it become a country that treats its people as humans."


"The Need To Leave Three-way Talks To The U.S."


Gil Jeong-woo wrote in independent Joong-Ang Ilbo (4/21): "We still are not in a position to play a leading role in dealing with North Korea.  In addition, Washington does not appear intent on waging war with the North....  If it considers incomplete peace to be better than war, the ROK had better prepare itself to shoulder responsibilities decided during the three-way talks rather than remain angry at its exclusion from the talks....  Let's leave the talks to the U.S. for the moment. Regrettable though it is, there is no alternative."


"Three-way Talks Should Be Held As Scheduled"


Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun declared (4/21):  "It is evident that 'this North Korean intimidation' will strongly provoke U.S. hawks who are displeased with holding talks with the North.  The fact that Washington has yet to decide whether to go ahead and hold the Beijing three-way talks indicates that there is friction within the U.S. administration....  Even if the three-way talks are held as scheduled, it is looking increasingly likely that the talks will be an uncomfortable first tête-à-tête between the U.S. and the North, dimming prospects for a successful outcome....  It is high time for the ROKG to make every effort to prevent the North Korean Foreign Ministry's claims of nuclear reprocessing from derailing the three-way talks, and to revive inter-Korean dialogue as a channel to pressure Pyongyang to take part in multilateral talks on its nuclear issue."


 "Need To Speed ROK Participation In Multilateral Talks"


The nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun contended (4/18):  "Even though the ROKG believes that North Korea's nuclear issue is ultimately a matter for discussion between Washington and Pyongyang, it needs to examine all aspects of problems arising from its exclusion from the April 23 Beijing talks.  Failing to have our views reflected in talks that could seal the peninsula's fate will seriously undermine our diplomatic efforts and our security....  Instead of remaining an onlooker or a stumbling block to the Beijing talks, overcome by unhappiness at its exclusion, Seoul should make every effort to make the talks an opportunity to achieve peace on the peninsula.  In addition, it must use diplomatic channels with the U.S. and China to ensure its early participation in multilateral talks.  The immediate restoration of stalled inter-Korean talks as a channel to apply pressure on Pyongyang can be part of such efforts."


"Does ROK Once Again Remain Onlooker In Talks On North Korea's Nuclear Issue?"


Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (4/17):  "Talks aimed at resolving the North Korean nuclear issue are important because significant issues, which could bring drastic changes to the peninsula's peace and security, will be discussed.  The Korean public will be angry to see Washington, Pyongyang and China participate in such talks either as concerned parties or as arbiters, while the ROK remains an onlooker.  We wonder what happened to President Roh Moo-hyun's much-touted principle of the ROK playing a leading role in North Korean issues."


"Is ROK's Exclusion From Beijing Talks Reward For Sunshine?"


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo held (4/17):  "The Beijing meeting is most welcome because North Korea and the U.S. have agreed to return to the dialogue table.  However, it is extremely regrettable that the ROK has been excluded from the talks, for our interests are direct and vital. Especially, we feel anger at the North's two-faced attitude of demanding our aid while excluding us from discussions that could seal the peninsula's fate....  Even though the ROKG explains that over time the talks will expand to include the ROK, Russia and Japan, it is doubtful that Seoul will actually play a leading role in future multilateral talks.  Furthermore, considering that the 1994 U.S.-North Korea talks failed to appropriately reflect our position as a result of our absence, we cannot take lightly being spurned once more this time around."


"ROK Is Excluded From Beijing Talks"


Independent Dong-a Ilbo maintained (4/17):  "Despite China's participation, the Beijing meeting will mostly be led by the U.S. and North Korea.  The meeting might end up a repetition of the Geneva U.S.-North Korea talks.  Even though the ROKG says that it will closely coordinate with Washington, we worry that the ROK might eventually be required to shoulder heavy responsibilities without having played any part in the negotiating process."


"Beijing Three-Way Talks A Bitter Disappointment"


Moderate Hankook Ilbo contended (4/17):  "The reason the ROK did not participate in the vote on a resolution denouncing human rights abuses in North Korea is because it did not want to upset Pyongyang.  Pyongyang should note that its attempt to block Seoul's participation in negotiations on its nuclear program runs counter to its long-standing calls for national cooperation.  Foreign Minister Yoon Young-kwan has rightly declared that the ROK will not take any responsibility for matters decided during its absence. The ROK should no longer serve as the fall guy that shoulders the burden while being excluded from talks."


THAILAND:  “Sense Of Urgency Impels Korea Talks”


The lead editorial in top-circulation, moderately conservative, English-language Bangkok Post read (4/21):  “North Korea blinked last week after six months of increasingly acrimonious attempts to stare down the world, the region and the United States over nuclear arms....  Whatever the reason, the region is pleased that North Korea took a step back from nuclear blackmail.  Not only does the confrontation switch to diplomacy, it will happen on the basis of U.S. insistence that talks involve concerned parties, and not just Pyongyang and Washington.  That was the major sticking point, and the Beijing conference demonstrates it is possible to stare down North Korea.  Now comes the even tougher part-quickly convincing North Korea to step away from the nuclear threshold....  A three-nation committee of the ASEAN Regional Forum, led by Cambodia as chairman and including Thailand, should be writing the approaches it will make at the annual ARF meeting in Phnom Penh in June.  Other countries should consider offering their help to North Korea.  It is important to make Pyongyang feel the urgency to settle this issue, whether they are at the official conference or not.”


INDIA:  "North Korea Returns To Its Senses"


Independent, Calcutta-based Bengali-language Ananda Bazar Patrika contended (4/19):  "There are ample proofs that the Iraqis have not become crestfallen even if they were not so jubilant with the fall of Baghdad. Not only that, there was an ambitious objective behind such an offensive, launched by Bush. That he has been fully successful in sending a message of caution out to other evil countries, dealing with weapons of mass destruction becomes quite evident with the marked example of DPRK....  It is still not clear to what extent the situation in Iraq would be improved with the conquering of Baghdad. However, there is no denying the fact that the invasion of Iraq has already facilitated some positive changes in the international arena."


PAKISTAN:  "Learning From China On U.S.-N Korea Relations"


The Lahore-based Daily Times editorialized (4/18):  "With Iraq under its belt, at least militarily, the Bush administration seems to have also scored a win in the diplomatic standoff with North Korea that began last October when Pyongyang declared its nuclear-weapon program, threw out inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), started issuing bellicose statements and insisted that it would not speak with anyone but the United States, one on one.  It now seems that all the while Washington was taking a nuanced approach behind the scenes to the problem....  It seems to us that there is a lesson in all this for Pakistan, which incidentally has had a long relationship with Beijing.  States interact with each other at multiple levels rather than putting all their eggs in one basket, which is what we always tend to do....  The issue is not whether the U.S. war on Iraq is or was morally right.  It relates to the space every state has in relation to its capabilities.  Engaging the United States, or for that matter any other state, has to be seen from that perspective.  This is where we need to learn a few lessons from China."




CANADA:  "Rogue States Understand What Might Happen To Them"


Jean-Sébastien Rioux remarked in Montreal's centrist Le Soleil (4/19):  "The next conflicts will use the model that was tested in Afghanistan and which proved itself in Iraq: quickness, flexibility, heavy reliance on technology and massive use of special forces....  Potential thugs have every right to be worried that that their statues could be the next to fall....  The swiftness of Iraq's conquest with the 'small' amount of force used scares a lot of people....  Maybe Kim Jong-II understands the new world order; he has just softened his position by accepting to take part in multilateral discussions with the U.S., China, and South Korea. The White House is now equipped with a military machine adapted to its vision of security....  The other issues may now be solved diplomatically because rogue states understand what might happen to them."


"America's Anger Is Not Blind"


Foreign affairs editorial writer Gordon Barthos commented in the liberal Toronto Star (4/17):  "It would be unwise to underestimate the Bush administration's ability to sell the public on the merits of a wider, unilateral military campaign against Syria, North Korea or Iran.  It can, and may.  But Bush risks alienating people by charging down that road.  America's anger is real, after 9/11.  It is not blind."


ARGENTINA:  "Pacific (Front Line) Checker-board"


Claudio Uriarte opined in leftist Pagina 12 (4/19):  "In this new chapter of the deep confrontation between the State Department and the Pentagon, looks like State has already lost the battle, but the Pentagon is far from winning it....  Rumsfeld is the expression of a U.S. without international counterparts to balance it in the military field, while Secretary Colin Powell is the heir of a Foreign Ministry shaped in the days of the 'Cold War balance of terror.' In this sense, the real dissuader of U.S. destruction by North Korea's nuclear reactors was never a reply by Pyongyang--regardless of all the damage that its artillery can inflict on Seoul--but the presence of Japan, China, Taiwan and Russia in the conflict....  This is why Pyongyang's recent escalation, after the victory in Iraq and on the eve of negotiations with North Korea, mean a step forward by the hawks, who will say that negotiations are leading nowhere and that it’s time to 'go it alone with the bombings' again. They will also say that it's time for South Korea to defend itself on its own, and for Japan to re-militarize and go nuclear again, and for Taiwan to become the new axis of U.S. policy in the Pacific area."


"Threat, Bluff Or Mistranslation?"


Liberal, English-language Buenos Aires Herald maintained (4/19):  "Just days away from high-stakes talks with the U.S., North Korea announced yesterday that it was reprocessing nuclear fuel rods, a step that if true would suggest development of atomic weapons....  On Friday night, officials in the U.S., South Korea and Japan all said they lacked any strong indication of reprocessing of the country's known plutonium fuel rods.  Some North Korea analysts saw the statement as an attempt to pre-empt any U.S. hard-line in the negotiations, and to offset a kind of image that the North learned a lesson from the Iraqi war, and that is why it has agreed to dialogue.  Others said it was a bluff intended to cover the fact that they had not yet begun reprocessing.  U.S. officials suggested the statement may have been mistranslated and that North Korea was on the 'verge' of, rather than already reprocessing nuclear rods."


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