International Information Programs
Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

May 5, 2003

May 5, 2003





**  The DPRK's brinkmanship is an attempt at "blackmail" to gain an "economic lifeline."


**  A multilateral coalition is necessary because the DPRK's "threats" concern "all countries."


**  Leftists blame the "U.S. policy of hostility" for the regional turmoil.


**  Dialogue, not a "military solution," should resolve the "maverick minnow state's" challenge.


Pyongyang's 'nuclear intimidation' poses a 'major threat'--  Conservative papers backed the U.S.' "firm stance of not yielding" to the North's "nuclear brinkmanship game," urging military action be considered if Pyongyang refuses to surrender its WMD.  Canada's National Post predicted it won't, because Kim Jong-il places "existential importance" on his WMD program.  All "the increasingly isolated and friendless Kim Jong-il" has is his nuclear program.  Thus, his "readiness to cut a deal" to obtain financial aid and security guarantees underlines the DPRK's "economic collapse" and insecurity.


International policy coordination is the most important factor--  Because Pyongyang seeks to "drive a wedge" between the U.S. and its allies, "nothing is more important than policy coordination" among the U.S., Japan and South Korea.  Germany's center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine emphasized, "Talks over North Korea are more important than talks with North Korea."  Chinese outlets stressed Beijing's "great achievement" in arranging the U.S.-DPRK-China discussions, terming them a "good start for initiating a dialogue process."  The business-oriented Australian Financial Review agreed that China was "America's most important partner" in dealing with the DPRK.  But South Korean outlets warned of a domestic "public backlash" because Seoul was "excluded" from the Beijing talks. 


North Korea proves 'the only way to resist U.S. aggression' is 'nuclear programs'--  Calling the U.S. a "colossal, arrogant, glowering bully," leftist outlets said its "militarism and neocolonialism" could trigger a "regional nuclear arms race."  Seoul's Hankyoreh Shinmun warned Pyongyang's "nuclear admission" may give U.S. hard-liners an excuse "to take the offensive."  There was widespread understanding, if not support, for Pyongyang's "need to retain nuclear weapons as a deterrent" to a U.S. attack.  Russia's centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta said the crisis helps "justify Washington's implementing its missile defense program."


Mutual compromise and concession can relieve the 'grim situation'--  Diplomacy is essential to resolve the "steadily deteriorating situation."  South Korea's conservative Segye Ilbo reflected the widely-held view that any "conflict between U.S. unilateralism and North Korean brinkmanship could drive the nuclear crisis to catastrophe."  As the "fight against WMD can never be won militarily," an "atmosphere for negotiations" is necessary.  The U.S. should retain both "flexibility" and a "steady and composed manner" in order to strike a "grand compromise" for a "peaceful settlement."


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  This analysis is based on 55 reports from 21 countries over 25 April - 5 May 2003.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




GERMANY:  "De-Escalation"


Right-of-center Volksstimme of Magdeburg declared (4/29):  “Is the conflict over the North Korean nuclear program heading for a compromise solution?  According to the latest reports, Pyongyang is obviously offering a stop of its nuclear arms modernization in exchange for the U.S. commitment to normalize mutual relations.  This is called an exchange package, but the better term would be horse trade.  It is true that every agreement that reduces the danger of wear must be welcome.  But if the United States allows the sinister regime in Pyongyang to dictate conditions, then only because the superpower can and does not want to afford an escalation of the situation.  Kim Jong-il and his leading clique are hoping that they get as much stability for their power as possible from this rather defensive U.S. position.  And if necessary, they will simply turn on the nuclear reactor again.”


“North Korean Nuclear Power?”


Peter Sturm argued in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (4/26):  “The future of North Korea will depend on how the other side will react.  That is why talks over North Korea are more important than talks with North Korea.  The U.S., China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia agree that there should be a peaceful solution, but it is unclear how they can reach a halfway coherent negotiating line toward Pyongyang....  Washington does not allow anybody to blackmail it.  If North Korea is unmistakably told that the game is over, it could do nothing about it.  From a geographical location of the Americans, this strategy could be maintained.  North Korea is really in a desperate situation.  It needs foreign assistance, the regime wants to do everything to get a guarantee to survive.  This creates unease in neighboring Japan and South Korea....  We would ask too much from Japan and South Korea to sit out the threat from North Korea, something the Americans would like to do.  In any case, North Korea will face a tight front of nations that are not willing to accept a nuclear North Korean power.”


ITALY:  "U.S.-Pyongyang Duel Continues”


Leading center-right Il Giornale opined (4/27):  “The U.S. is not willing to make concessions of any kind to the North Korean Communist regime after the latter announced that it possesses nuclear weapons and is ready to use them....  The U.S., in any case, intends to examine with the allies the possibility of asking for U.N. sanctions against the North Koreans.  This is a delicate initiative, however, since the Communist regime has let it be known that it would consider a possible international embargo as a ‘declaration of war.’”


RUSSIA:  "U.S. Patient"


Katerina Labetskaya noted in reformist Vremya Novostey (4/28):  "So far, Washington has been patient and exercised restraint, exerting no pressure on the Security Council.   Besides, China and Russia, with their veto power, are dead set against sanctions.  So what hopes there are for a peaceful solution to the crisis rest primarily on multilateral negotiations involving not only the U.S., the DPRK and China but also Japan, Russia and South Korea."  


"U.S. Needs Kim To Deploy MD"


Yevgeniy Verlin argued in centrist Nezavisimaya Gazeta (4/28):  "Washington, obviously, would not mind a regime change in Pyongyang.   Beijing is strongly against it (if only for fear of catastrophic consequences of a possible political crisis inside the DPRK) and thinks it would be ideal for all to come to terms among themselves so the Korean Peninsula becomes free of nuclear weapons and U.S. troops.  The big question is, What is it the United States wants?  The Iraq story shows that with the Americans, possessing WMD may not necessarily be the overriding concern.  Talk about the DPRK's nuclear program serves to justify Washington's implementing its missile defense program in the Asia-Pacific region.  The idea behind it is to contain China and protect Taiwan from a missile attack from the mainland.   Beijing is well aware of that and will work to make Kim Jong Il less armed and less dangerous."


"Pyongyang To Rev Up Nuclear Program"


Vasiliy Golovnin wrote in reformist Izvestiya (4/28):  "A plutonium explosion in North Korea is not ruled out if Kim Jong Il decides that he might just as well try to 'bring the U.S. imperialists to their senses.'   In any event, it looks like Pyongyang will bend every effort to build a nuclear bomb and, at the same time, obtain security guarantees from the United States."


"Who's To Blame For Crisis?"


Aleksandr Zhebin held in official, government-run Rossiyskaya Gazeta (4/26):  "Had it not been for the 'North Korean rocket threat,' the Americans true aim--using MD to neutralize China's and Russia's nuclear missile deterrents--would be much too apparent....  An unbiased study of the framework and other U.S.-DPRK accords shows that North Korea's demands, including those in the security area, do not go beyond the commitments the Americans made earlier but failed to fulfill.  The White House's attempts to form a multilateral coalition on the basis of the presumption of the DPRK's guilt and get it to bear full responsibility for the current situation in the Korean Peninsula don't look serious, to say the least....  The security interests of all states in that area need to be taken into account."


AUSTRIA:  "Artificial Enemies And Real Threats"


Livia Klingl commented in mass-circulation Kurier (4/26):  “They have the bomb, they reserve the right to test it, to sell it and to use it.  This was the message that China and the U.S. received in talks with North Korea....  The credibility problem of the U.S. is particularly relevant in connection with real threats to the U.S. and thus Western civilization, such as Islamic terrorists or the North Korean terror regime.  North Korea is the most insulated country on earth.  It breaks international agreements and it runs ‘re-education camps’ for those resisting Stalinism.  It is a poorhouse, it cannot feed its people, and it is a daily threat for its neighbor South Korea, a friend of the U.S.  The possibility that the system will collapse and make the entire peninsula tremble is real.  This nation has to be taken seriously--ideally by diplomats, not warlords.  Just like the warnings of a mega-attack in the U.S. on the part of the CIA and the FBI long before 9/11 should have been taken seriously.”


BULGARIA:   "The U.S. March From Baghdad To Pyongyang"


Leftist, stridently anti-U.S. Monitor contended (4/30):  "Setting North Korea as the next target doesn't come down to the  existence of hypothetical nuclear weapons.  This is about Washington's  ambition to dispense with another Stalinist regime....  It is clear that the  Bush Administration scored a political and military success with its  targets, but doesn't have the vision or the tools for the subsequent,  most difficult phase--the stabilization and reconstruction of the  conquered countries....  Washington's hawks will run into the strongest opposition yet from the depths of American society and parts of society's elite.  The global war on terrorism seems to be a pretext for conducting  an extreme rightist policy in the U.S., including limiting civil freedom  and enforcing U.S. will abroad....  Aside from this the U.S. broke the  rule, saying that democracies do not conduct pre-emptive wars.  It is not  clear for how much longer the American society will tolerate the burden of  new militarism and neocolonialism....  The global economic situation  requires the American corporations and capital to seek trade and economic  partners, and not enemies in the EU and the other developed countries."


IRELAND:  "Dilemma For U.S. As North Korea Offers To Scrap Nuclear Plans"


Jasper Becker commented in the center-left Irish Times (4/30):  "The US must decide how to respond to North Korea's offer to terminate its nuclear program. North Korea surprised the American side during last week's trilateral talks by putting forward a package of proposals to ease tensions on the peninsula which Chinese diplomats are presenting as a positive sign despite the mixed signals coming out of Washington....  President Bush's top security advisers were planning to meet yesterday to discuss the US response to the proposals and were expected to face competing suggestions on whether to continue negotiations with Pyongyang, US officials said last night....  Any suggestion of concessions to North Korea was ruled out flatly by the White House....  China has a keen interest in furthering the negotiations to prevent a conflict breaking out. It offered to broker the talks after the Americans and North Koreans disagreed on whether there should be bilateral or multilateral negotiations....  Analysts say the North Koreans have consistently used such aggressive negotiating tactics in their eagerness to shock and awe the Americans into coming to the table....  Washington insists Pyongyang must honor previous promises and scrap its nuclear weapons programs before the United States will discuss economic and diplomatic rewards....  Washington press reports at first quoted American officials revealing the belligerent statements but leaving out North Korean's sweeping proposal. This only came to light after the Chinese briefing on Monday....  In response, Mr. Powell cautiously acknowledged that such proposals had indeed been made."


NORWAY:  "North Korea’s Nuclear Pass”


Social democratic Dagsavisen stated (4/26):  "North Korea’s initiative that the country already has nuclear weapons has led to an increased tension on the Korean peninsula....  It is anyway encouraging that the U.S. and North Korea yesterday agreed on continuing diplomatic contact. It gives hope that negotiations about a full stop in the North Korean nuclear program might be maintained....  The fight against weapons of mass destruction can never be won militarily....  To gain this it is assumed that the U.S. also participates--both through removing [its] own nuclear weapons and through abstaining from plans to develop new ones.”


SWEDEN:  "The Worst State"


Independent, liberal Stockholm-based tabloid Expressen declared (5/5):  "Saddam Hussein has a superior with regards to terror and aggression: North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-Il, who has appointed himself God in a perverted Stalinist myth. He has let between one and two million North Koreans die from starvation, not because of sanctions but because the ebbing resources of the country have been concentrated on the military....  (With regards to North Korea) the U.S. is using diplomacy--not force, but the prognosis seems gloomy....  Sanctions, a popular method among the hawks in Washington, might work. But that would be an awkward policy....  If one would like to rescue a people from its dictator one cannot just let the people starve to death in the process....  Therefore the world has continued to give aid to North Korea, but it seems to be drying up. When the Soviet Union collapsed a major contributor of assistance disappeared, and the World Food Program, which distributes the Western assistance, is now talking about donor fatigue....  But China still is an important donor of food and other relief. Most important are the oil deliveries. Should they stop North Korea and its military would come to a standstill....  Earlier in this year China stopped its oil shipments for three days. This was a clear signal to Kim Jong-Il to stop provoking the U.S.  Should China continue on this path, possibly talks between the U.S., DPRK, South Korea, and China might help move the Korean peninsula from the verge of ruin....  The U.S. has to take a detour through China."




AUSTRALIA:  “Beijing’s Role In Shaping North Korea”


The business-oriented Australian Financial Review declared (4/30):  "The talks last week between North Korea, the United States and China did not help the world see much more clearly through the fog of rhetoric that shrouds the ‘hermit kingdom’.  But the fact that the talks did take place was a crucial move in dragging Pyongyang towards stable relationships with its neighbors....  The US should take a pragmatic approach, based on what will work in leading North Korea towards stable relations with its neighbors.  It would be wonderful to be able to engineer regime change there....  Washington should insist on a multilateral framework, to which North Korea must sign up....  But America’s most important partner in this process for peace remains China.”


"North Korea Plays A Dangerous Game"


The liberal Melbourne Age held (4/28):  "The threat of nuclear weapons demonstrates the limitations of a military solution....  North Korea may be bluffing but the steadily deteriorating situation requires a cautious and reasoned response....  By displaying a willingness to play the nuclear card, North Korea has, in a sense, neutralised America's great advantage: its military superiority....  Diplomacy, not only from the U.S. but also from neighbours South Korea, China and Japan, is essential now to help defuse the crisis.  Any further escalation could damage them all, not to mention the long-suffering people of North Korea."


CHINA:  “DPRK Expressed Its Hope For A Peaceful Resolution Of The Nuclear Issue”


Ji Xinlong stated in official popular Beijing Youth Daily (Beijing Qingnianbao) (4/30):  “The DPRK expressed that it does not think the talks have broken down.  The nuclear crisis is due to the U.S. policy of hostility. Restarting the talks depends on whether the U.S. will give up that policy.”


“A Welcomed Good Start”


Wang Li stated in official Communist Party People’s Daily (Renmin Ribao)(4/28):  “The form of dialogue is not important.  The key point is that the parties involved reach agreement, and the DPRK and the U.S. start to talk no matter whether it is bilateral or multilateral talks.  Whether the DPRK nuclear crisis can be resolved or not depends on whether the U.S. and DPRK are sincere, whether the talks involve substantive contents and consequences, whether the peninsula nuclear-free state can be realized, and whether it is beneficial to solve the different issues concerned respectively by DPRK and the U.S. and maintain the peace and stability of the peninsula....  Solving the crisis in the short term can hardly be expected.  However we believe that it all depends on the efforts of the parties concerned....  The talks at Beijing are, after all, a good start for initiating a dialogue process and it has made a positive step.”


“Details Of DPRK, U.S. And China Talks”


Wan Qi said in official Communist Party-run Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao)(4/28):  “The consensus of the international community is that the talks themselves are a great achievement of China’s diplomacy.  China was the first to address this big issue that many countries wanted to resolve but were incapable and reach a beneficial result for all.  It proves China’s special and favorable position in Korean Peninsula affairs....  Analyzing the results of the talks, the Chinese government put forth great dedication to promote a peaceful resolution to the DPRK nuclear issue.”




Frank Ching wrote in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (5/2):  "South Korea, left out of the tripartite talks in Beijing, held its own three-day ministerial meeting with North Korea this week in Pyongyang, but failed in its key goal of getting the North to agree to scrap its nuclear program....  North Korea, of course, wants to negotiate with the U.S.--and only the U.S.--on the fate of its nuclear arms program.  If it were to agree to the South's demand to abandon the program, it would have little left for bargaining with America.  While the North wants the U.S. to guarantee its security, it is eager for economic aid from South Korea.  The South agreed to hold economic talks in Pyongyang from May 19 to 22, when the two sides will discuss economic co-operation and other exchange projects, including the reconnection of railways and roads across the demilitarized zone.  The two Koreas also agreed to hold another round of family reunions and a national festival, although no dates were set....  That was not much of a concession from North Korea, since it does not commit officials in Pyongyang to any real action.  Since North Korea has not co-operated with South Korea in the past on nuclear matters, agreeing to continue this does not amount to much."


"North Korea Crisis Has Entered A Complicated Stage"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News editorialized (4/29):  "To quickly settle the nuclear crisis--that began last October--on its own terms, North Korea surprised the international community by pushing its policy of 'nuclear brinkmanship' a step further, trying to compel the U.S. and allied Asian nations to submit to its conditions.  Pyongyang hopes that the U.S. will sign a non-aggression pact and it with provide economic assistance, particularly funding for a modern nuclear power facility.  This shows that senior officials in Pyongyang have been inspired by the war in Iraq.  The threat of nuclear weapons is needed to back up policies in modern international relations....  In dismissing international warnings against developing nuclear weapons, North Korea has pushed the nuclear crisis to a more complicated stage.  At the same time, North Korea has accelerated the turmoil in Northeast Asia by making itself more passive.  The South Korean cabinet, which has consistently advocated a policy of containment through conciliation towards Kim Jong Il, recently said that North Korea's development of nuclear weapons was the biggest threat to peace in Northeast Asia.  The South Korean public is now increasingly urging the government to readjust its 'sunshine policy' of conciliation.  Hawkish Japanese political factions are using North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons as an excuse for greater arms in Japan.  They are urging the Japanese government to 'finish its missile defense system quickly and pass emergency security legislation.'  As North Korea's allies, China and Russia also feel that mediation is difficult, given North Korea's obstinacy in developing nuclear weapons.  The situation is grim.  If either side -- the U.S. or North Korea - acts rashly, the consequences could be disastrous."


"Winning Move"


Frank Ching commented in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (4/29):  "The tripartite talks last week in Beijing...ended without visible progress, as both America and North Korea refused to budge from their previous positions.  But, despite the stalemate on the nuclear issue, China is already a winner....  Getting the two sides to talk to each other was itself a big achievement, which showed the world that China is a major diplomatic player, at least where regional affairs are concerned....  Details of the proposal have not been disclosed, but it was presumably an offer to forego nuclear weapons in return for security assurances and economic aid.  Mr. Kelly, who flew to Seoul and Tokyo to brief America's allies on the talks, reportedly said that the North Korean proposal merits further attention.  The U.S., Japan and South Korea are to hold formal talks to iron out a joint response to the North Korean offer.  However, the initial American response was not encouraging, with President George W. Bush characterizing the North Korean position as blackmail....  While the American victory in the war on Iraq may have been a factor in persuading North Korea to go to the bargaining table, it may also have had the effect of toughening its stance on the need to retain nuclear weapons as a deterrent to an American attack."


"Cool Heads Needed In Korean Nuclear Talks"


The independent English-language South China Morning Post editorialized (4/26):  "Yesterday, the world learned that the North Korean delegates to the three-way talks in Beijing had admitted to their American and Chinese counterparts that their country already possessed nuclear weapons and could use or export them.  But as U.S. intelligence had long ago concluded this, the revelation was more baffling than shocking.  What was the message that the North wanted to send to the U.S. with such an inflammatory statement?  Was it a negotiating ploy, or blackmail, as President Bush characterized it?....  After watching the war in Iraq, it is hard to think that Mr. Kim still believes confronting America militarily is anything other than suicide.  Placing his nuclear card on the table is probably meant to raise the stakes of the negotiations so that he can extract maximum concessions from the U.S., as well as to deter any threat of a preemptive American attack on his nuclear facilities....  A grand compromise is not impossible.  But the two sides should not forget that this is also the beginning of the diplomatic endgame.  And if Mr. Kim wants America's blessing to stay in power, he should realize that he has no choice but to pay the price Mr. Bush is asking."


"Throw Lifelines, Not Bombs"


The independent English-language Standard noted (4/26):  "Early signs are not encouraging....  The truth is that North Korea is in no position at all to be a real menace.  Its veiled threats of incinerating its Southern neighbor or tossing nuclear bombs at Japan, have always been an entirely transparent--if not somewhat daft--attempt at forcing the world to do a deal....  From [its] position of utter powerlessness, the increasingly isolated and friendless Kim Jong Il has recurringly played the only card he was left with.  The dark menaces he makes of a nuclear holocaust are plainly nothing more than a bid to secure agreements that will lead to an economic lifeline being thrown to his people.  Of course, it is the work of a desperate man who personally does not deserve rescuing.  But for the sake of North Koreans and peace on the peninsula, why not throw it?  Or would it be better, as the U.S. fresh and pumped with victory from an unequal battlefield in Iraq seem to believe, to throw bombs?"


"Too Much Is At Stake For Talks With North Korea To Fail"


Li Dunqiu opined in the independent English-language South China Morning Post (4/26):  "The relative ease with which the U.S. met its military objectives in Iraq, coupled with the speed of the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, exerted a subtle influence on the discourse between the U.S. and North Korea over the North Korean nuclear problem.  It provided a contrasting case that both America and North Korea might use because, after all, neither side wants to go to war....  North Korea's sudden shift was not simply a matter of an improvement in U.S.-North Korean relations.  In addition, the mediation and influence of neighboring states was a factor.  China, South Korea, Japan and Russia all hoped for a peaceful solution to the problem, and China also used its own approach to influence matters.  One of the many differences between the situation in Iraq and North Korea is the fact that Iraq had no neighbors who were too big for the U.S. to ignore....  The Iraq war was a huge setback for relations between the two Koreas.  On March 22, the head of the North's team in the Korean economic co-operation committee said the South was using the outbreak of war as an excuse to threaten North Korea.  It claimed that a joint military exercise between South Korea and the U.S. was hastening the likelihood of war....  When Mr. Roh was elected, he pledged to continue the sunshine policy of former president Kim Dae-jung, as well as promoting a policy towards the North of peace and prosperity and attempting to establish a system for North-South co-operation.  This represented a new stage for relations between the North and South.  In an unprecedented move, North Korea sent a message of congratulation and support to Mr. Roh following his election victory.  But the Iraq war has disrupted the atmosphere of North-South co-operation, as well as the contacts that were just beginning, and undermined the process of peaceful resolution of the Korean peninsula problem.  It is a matter of strategic choice for the U.S., after resolving the Iraq issue, whether it wishes to eliminate this effect in the coming weeks."


"Curbing Nuclear Proliferation Will Be Difficult With No Safety Net"


Independent Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal said (4/26):  "As the North Korean nuclear crisis continues to evolve, one must wait and see what the future will bring.  The situation on the Korean peninsula has raised an issue that will have a profound global impact.  In the 1960s and 1970s, many experts and scholars warned that more than 20 to 30 countries would possess nuclear weapons before the end of the 20th century.  Their forecasts, of course, came to nothing.  This is not because other countries have not had the capabilities to develop nuclear weapons, but because U.S. and the Soviet Unions expanded their nuclear armaments to their allied countries during the Cold War, forming an international safety net with nuclear weapons as the basis.  With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, however, there was no need to maintain this nuclear safety net.  Those countries previously protected by U.S. and Soviet nuclear weapons may now feel their security is threatened, prompting them to develop nuclear weapons of their own.  North Korea's example is very specific:  It has a collapsed economy, giving its people no means of livelihood.  But because the international community believes it has one or two nuclear bombs, North Korea can bargain with the U.S., the world's sole superpower.  If the U.S. does not stipulate an effective policy to stop nuclear proliferation, it fears North Korea will not be the only card playing the nuclear card."


"DPRK Nuclear Issue Has A Chance Of Reconciliation"


Pro-PRC Chinese-language Macau Daily News remarked (4/25):  "Emboldened by its victory in Iraq, U.S. hawks are now threatening sanctions against North Korea.  They dream of regime change there through the imposition of international sanctions.  When an Australian paper reported that North Korea had repossessed nuclear fuel rods, the Pentagon even proposed a plan to bomb North Korea's Yongbyon power station.  Just as U.S.-North Korea relations were heading for a dead end, prompting worry among the international community that the U.S. take military action against North Korea, the situation has suddenly taken a subtle turn, to the world's relief....  Neither the U.S. nor North Korea has discussed the two-day talks, indicating no substantial progress has been made.  Given the complicated background to the North Korean nuclear issue, with such polarized stances, people do not expect a miracle in such a short time.  At the present stage, the talks can only provide the two sides with the chance to better understand each other.  As long as the talks did not break up in discord and the two sides are willing to continue, the talks in Beijing are still off to a good start."


JAPAN:  "Ineffective Appeasement Policy Toward North Korea's Nuclear Program"


Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri opined (5/1):  "The South-North Korea ministerial in Pyongyang ended after the South was forced to give in (to the North). The ministerial stalled because the North claimed at last week's Beijing trilateral that it possesses nuclear weapons. The Pyongyang meeting showed Seoul's appeasement policy alone could not prompt Pyongyang to halt its nuclear development program.  The Roh administration must firmly adhere to the basic principle of making the denuclearization of the North the precondition for its financial aid to the North and not acquiescing to the North's nuclear armament. South Korea has only one choice--to press the North to abandon its nuclear program in close coordination with the U.S. and Japan. President Roh's determination to resolve the nuclear dispute will be tested at the upcoming meeting between Japan, the U.S. and South Korea this month, and at the U.S.-South Korea summit meeting to take place later in the month."


"DPRK Shows Its True Colors"


Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri editorialized (4/26):  "The DPRK's reported declaration that it possesses nuclear weapons runs counter to efforts to peacefully resolve the nuclear dispute.  It is necessary to analyze the North's 'nuclear' declaration and determine the Stalinist state's real intentions.  But it is fair to say that Pyongyang has finally shown its true colors.  The Bush administration has reiterated its firm stance of not yielding to the North's intimidation and not rewarding the North even if it abandons its nuclear program.  The North must not misinterpret the U.S. position.  Pyongyang must also understand that the world community will have no choice but to take resolute action if it escalates acts of provocation."


"DPRK's Nuclear Crisis Must Be Resolved Diplomatically"


Liberal Asahi opined (4/26):  "We could not help but call North Korea's possession of nuclear weapons an extremely dangerous development in its nuclear brinkmanship.  At this juncture, nothing is more important than policy coordination among the U.S., Japan and South Korea to deal effectively with this nuclear crisis.  In the U.S., 'hard-line' and 'conciliatory' groups in the Bush administration appear to be debating what to do to counter the North's rising nuclear threat, while in South Korea, opposition lawmakers have become more critical about President Roh's 'peace and prosperity' policy toward the North.  Japan, without over-reacting to the North's nuclear brinkmanship, should continue to tell the North to scrap its nuclear program, using its diplomatic card of economic cooperation."


INDONESIA:  “Diplomacy Over Korea Still Shows Hope”


Leading independent Kompas commented (4/28):  "If the [nuclear]confession of North Korea is true, then there is a major threat to peace in East Asia....  But a [peaceful] solution to the issue is still open in Korea and one of the key factors that can help is the involvement of China in this issue.  Although Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing called the meeting only a ‘good beginning,’ it implied optimism for a peaceful solution to the issue he admitted as very complicated and sensitive....  If Beijing can prove that the next round of talks can begin again, it would be significant progress.  We view that no matter how complicated the diplomacy of the Korean issue is, it contains more hope than the diplomacy of the Iraqi issue." 


PHILIPPINES:  "Glowering Bully"


Teodoro Benigno wrote in the independent Philippine Star (4/30):  "SARS must be understood within the wider context of a world breaking up.  America was looking for a country to punch slug-silly after September 11, 2001 and a tinpot dictator to knock his teeth in....  Both Saddam and his Ba'ath regime were demolished faster than the first octave of the Star Spangled Banner....  Over in Asia, different cultures...had refused to cower before the bomb-clutching American eagle....  North spoiling for a fight.  Will America oblige?  If it does, will all of Asia just remain silent?  Or will China, South Korea and Japan react?....  Take if from me, this hombre George W. Bush will not hesitate to wipe North Korea from the face of the earth....  In the case of SARS, we all hang together or separately.  In the case of an aroused and angry America, the rest of the world stands no change of winning military combat....  The terror...of 9/11...transformed America overnight from what many called a gentle giant into a colossal, arrogant glowering bully."


"Rethinking Security"


Rene Bas wrote in the independent Manila Times (4/29):  "At the South Korea-North Korean ministerial meeting going on right now, Pyongyang refuses to discuss the nuclear crisis....  Although it is generally known that Russia, like China, would want the North to curb its nuclear weaponry ambitions, some experts suspect that Russia is helping fuel those ambitions or is at least helping North Korea build nuclear power plants. Russia definitely wants to play a major role in the Korean Peninsula.  But North Korea wants most of all for talks to be between itself and the USA. For only America can afford to finance the massive economic and industrial programs Pyongyang must undertake to become a normal-and less poverty-stricken-country."


"An Advance"


Julius Fortuna wrote in the government-owned People's Journal (4/26):  "The U.S. has dropped its demand for multilateral talks on the nuclear issue.  Now they are meeting the North Koreans which (they) have not considered in the past.  A face-to-face meeting, meaning a discussion without the South Koreans present, is an advance from earlier discussions."


SINGAPORE:  "A Weak Hand For Kim In A High-stakes Nuclear Game" 


Lee Kim Chew noted in the pro-government Straits Times (5/1):  "Americans claim North Korea told them it has a nuclear bomb. The Chinese say Pyongyang didn't admit as much. Whichever the case, this is North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's game--keep the world guessing....  Mr Kim is now betting on an offer to give up his nuclear weapons programme and missile tests in exchange for fuel, food, diplomatic recognition and security from an American attack....  The Americans need to reassess their position. Bush administration hawks will have to stop pushing for economic and diplomatic sanctions or a military strike against the Stalinist regime--for now at least....  Mr Kim's latest show of cards signals his readiness to cut a deal. The US, however, will not be rushed and has said it won't reward bad behaviour....  Clearly, the Bush administration's hawkish attitude is unpopular among South Koreans, who want the US, Japan, China and Russia to give Pyongyang aid if it forsakes nuclear weapons and enters into multilateral peace talks.  Like the US, China too wants a non-nuclear Korean peninsula....  Beijing will use whatever leverage it has to get the North off their nuclear weapons programme. But there is no certainty that Pyongyang will oblige....  Mr Kim's nuclear blackmail card conceals a weak hand....  In any case, the Americans have refused to rule out a pre-emptive military strike against North Korea's nuclear facilities....  Japan's future rearmament is being retailored to fit into America's strategic plans for East Asian security. Tokyo is also reviewing its pacifist constitution with American blessings to loosen the restrictions on its military activities.  Against this backdrop, Mr Kim plays his nuclear brinkmanship game for regime survival."


SOUTH KOREA:  "ROK's About-face On Participation In Nuclear Talks"


Independent Dong-a Ilbo editorialized (5/2):  "It is hardly understandable for National Security Adviser Ra Jong-yil to say that the ROK will not insist on participating in three-way talks between the U.S., North Korea, and China....  Should the ROK--a party directly concerned with the nuclear issue--be left out of such talks and required to accept the results of the talks, we wonder if many Koreans would accept that....  The ROKG's about-face regarding its participation in nuclear talks will not help resolve the nuclear crisis but will rather add to the confusion.  Seoul might be playing into the hands of Pyongyang, which is trying to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.  If Mr. Ra's remarks are a result of coordination with the U.S. in the run-up to the upcoming U.S.-ROK summit, then ROKG must frankly explain to the public the circumstances leading to such a decision."


"Not The Time To Take North Korea's Nuclear Issue To UN"


Government-owned Daehan Maeil declared (5/2):  "Instead of seeking to bring the North Korean nuclear issue before the UN Security Council, Washington should quickly wrap up its analysis of Pyongyang's proposal and arrange a second round of three-way talks to discuss its position....  Taking the nuclear issue to the Security Council will only invite tough new policies, as Pyongyang asserted.  This would lead to the collapse of three-way talks, driving the nuclear crisis to catastrophe.  China, which has played mediator, must also oppose such a move at this juncture.  We urge Washington to concentrate its efforts on creating an atmosphere for negotiations by stopping all discussion of taking the nuclear issue to the UN and by putting hard-line voices to rest."


"Seoul Gives Much To Pyongyang But Receives Little In Return"


Independent Joong-Ang Ilbo maintained (5/1):  "Since North Korea has admitted to having nuclear weapons, an admission that could seal our fate, the ROK delegation to recent inter-Korean cabinet-level talks should have at least obtained Pyongyang's pledge to observe the 'Inter-Korean Joint Declaration on a Nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.'  If indeed the North refused to do so, the ROK delegation should have broken off the talks and returned home.  Is it only when we take a firm stand on the nuclear issue that Pyongyang will consider adjusting its position?....  If Seoul really intends to resolve the nuclear issue, it should relinquish its obsession with producing tangible results, a legacy from the former Kim Dae-jung government, and display its firm resolve not to be dragged along by Pyongyang.  This is the only way to redress our relationship with North Korea."


"Two Koreas Need To Build Mutual Confidence In Times Of Difficulty"


Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun held (5/1):  "Recent inter-Korean cabinet-level talks are significant in that they served to revive inter-Korean dialogue, stalled since the launch of the new ROK government, and to demonstrate to the world that inter-Korean talks are a useful dialogue channel comparable with three-way talks between the U.S., China and North Korea.  In addition, the talks highlighted the fact that the two Koreas were engaged in 'reasonable' talks in the run-up to President Roh's trip to the U.S., lending a hand to Mr. Roh's argument for a peaceful settlement of the North Korean issue....  The higher tensions and conflict over the nuclear issue grow on the peninsula, the more important inter-Korean dialogue will become.  Thus we need to work in a steady and composed manner to build mutual confidence with North Korea."


"Is Pyongyang Resuming Its Threatening Rhetoric?"


Conservative Segye Ilbo observed (5/1):  "The war of nerves between the U.S. and North Korea following the three-way talks in Beijing can be seen as both countries intending to gain the upper hand in future negotiations.  As long as the U.S. holds fast to its position of 'no reward for bad behavior' and insists that the North first abandon its nuclear programs, it will be difficult for Washington to find common ground with Pyongyang, which demands a package deal implemented in stages....  Considering that U.S. moderates on North Korea are losing ground following the U.S. victory in the Iraq war, conflict between U.S. unilateralism and North Korean brinkmanship could drive the nuclear crisis to catastrophe.  We urge Washington and Pyongyang to stop their war of nerves and find a path of compromise and concession."


"The Need For Thorough Examination Of The 'Bold Proposal'"


Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (4/29):  "North Korea has reportedly proposed a package deal to scrap its nuclear programs in return for the U.S. providing security assurances and economic aid.  This North Korean proposal represents a significant development that could lead to a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the nuclear issue.  However, considering the North's statement during Beijing talks that it already had nuclear weapons, the U.S. and the ROK need to work out strategies that take into account every possible worst-case scenario....  Negotiations must start by making clear the North's mistakes....  If economic aid or a security guarantee is provided without holding Pyongyang accountable, it will amount to rewarding the North for its wrongdoing. If negotiations do not proceed smoothly, the North might attempt to use the deadlock as a chance to pursue nuclear weapons....  In order to avoid being held hostage by the North's nuclear gamble, we must establish a thorough system of verification to confirm that the North has given up its nuclear ambitions."


" 'Bold Abandonment' Of Nuclear Weapons Only Way For Pyongyang To Survive"


Independent Dong-a Ilbo held (4/29):  "We cannot afford to be optimistic about North Korea's signal that it would conditionally abandon its nuclear programs. This is because the level of verification demanded by the U.S. will take a very long time. The key to resolving the nuclear issue lies in North Korea's hands.  We urge Pyongyang to immediately give up its nuclear programs in a bold fashion, rather than promote its bold proposal."


"ROK Should Not Be Excluded From Negotiations On North Korean 'Proposal'"


Government-owned Daehan Maeil maintained (4/29):  "If the North Korean proposal truly intends to realize a nuclear-free Korean peninsula, no one can fail to support it. Of great importance now is for North Korea to abstain from using brinkmanship tactics in negotiations on the proposal and for the U.S. to display flexibility in striking a package deal with the North....  There is some concern that the ROK might again be excluded from negotiations on the North's bold proposal....  The ROK, as a party to the Inter-Korean Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, is well positioned to take part in such talks.  If the ROK again ends up assuming responsibility for the costs of decisions made in its absence, as in 1994 when the Geneva Accord was arranged, the public backlash will be enormous."


"North Korea's Nuclear Gambling Invites Nothing But Disaster"


Conservative Chosun Ilbo editorialized (4/26):  "What became clear during the Beijing three-way talks is that no matter how earnestly Seoul requests a peaceful settlement of the nuclear crisis, Pyongyang continues with its nuclear games in order to sustain its political system.  Therefore, our countermeasures should be flexible yet firm, ready to adjust to even the worst-case scenario.  If North Korea actually has nuclear bombs or has started to reprocess spent nuclear fuel rods, complex measures are going to be required, and military tension must be considered....  Given this, President Roh's visit to the U.S. next month is all the more important.  He and Mr. Bush must use their meeting to put to Pyongyang a decision between two paths--catastrophe or coexistence--and to work out cooperative strategies in preparation for all foreseeable circumstances."


"North Korea's Possession Of Nuclear Weapons A Calamity For The Korean Peninsula"


Independent Dong-a Ilbo declared (4/26):  "There is a great likelihood that the U.S. will change the way it deals with North Korea following the North's admission that it possesses nuclear weapons.  Until now, the U.S. did not define the North as a nuclear state, although that possibility was considered.  Will the U.S. try to live with a North Korea armed with nuclear weapons or seek to eliminate the weapons?  The U.S.' choice is not hard to predict, given the skepticism of Bush Administration hardliners toward negotiating with North Korea, brewing U.S. animosity toward the North for ruining the trilateral talks, and the U.S. victory in the Iraq war....  The North's possession of nuclear weapons may trigger an arms race in this region, prompting other Asian countries to pursue a 'balance of terror.'  Since we are the party directly affected by this horrifying situation, we must accept reality and change our perception of North Korea. How can we continue to regard the North as a good-will dialogue partner when it has been found to be covertly developing nuclear weapons while we send them rice and fertilizer?"


"Does North Korea Actually Have Nuclear Weapons or Is It Nuclear Blackmail?"


Moderate Hankook Ilbo maintained (4/26):  "North Korea has once again embarrassed the international community with its brinkmanship....  If the North actually has nuclear weapons, stability in Northeast Asia and our national security is greatly threatened....  For now it is hard to understand what is behind Pyongyang's abrupt declaration that it possesses nuclear weapons: Is Pyongyang trying to protect its regime by securing nuclear state status or is the declaration just one of the North's brinkmanship tactics intended to elicit more concessions from the U.S.?  If North Korea has indeed chosen the path of armaments to protect its regime, it seems a foolish and self-destructive gamble."


"The True Facts Behind North Korea's Statement On Nuclear Possession"


Nationalist, left-leaning Hankyoreh Shinmun observed (4/26):  "It is hard to understand the State Department spokesman's remark during a briefing that North Korea's admission of possessing nuclear weapons 'was by no means surprising'....  We need to pay special attention to this unusually cautious U.S. response toward the North Korean admission....  If it is true that the North has nuclear weapons as the North Korean representative said, the repercussions are enormous. Thus, the urgent task for now is an accurate analysis of the statement....  It is worrisome that the nuclear admission may provide an excuse for Bush Administration hardliners to take the offensive, regardless of Pyongyang's true intentions....  The possibility that they will claim 'dialogue is useless' and raise calls for resolution through military means is much higher....  We hope that the next round of talks between the North and the U.S., with China as mediator, will be set through diplomatic channels and that dialogue will continue."


THAILAND:  “North Korea Wields The Nuclear Threat”


Top-circulation, moderately-conservative, English-language Bangkok Post commented (4/28):  “North Korea effectively called off the three-way talks with China and the United States on Friday, declaring that the Americans had nothing new to say....  North Korea has made a dreadful choice.  By choosing to become an isolated, relentless military state, it has managed to offend every nation.  It has rejected advice from Seoul, from regional bodies like ASEAN, and from its best friends like Russia and, in particular, China.  By bragging of its nuclear weapons and promising to-somehow-use them in confrontation, North Korea provides explicit and chilling proof that campaigns to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and material are not too strong at all.  They are too weak....  North Korea has insisted its dispute is with America alone.  That is wrong.  Threats of nuclear blackmail concern all countries, and particularly those close to the blackmailer.”


INDIA:  "The U.S. And North Korea"


An editorial in the Guwahati-based English-language left-of-center Sentinel read (5/1):  "Now that the objectives of the Bush Administration have been achieved in Iraq...its (and therefore the world's) focus now has shifted to yet another 'rogue', 'evil' state--North Korea....  It is not a question of North Korea going about threatening its neighbors, most of whom are staunch U.S. allies, but of the probability of a fundamental change in the equation of forces in the Korean peninsula and beyond, which has sent alarm bells ringing in Washington.  A nuclear North Korea will invariably tilt the balance against the US in the strategic Asia-Pacific region....  There are reasons to believe that the Bush Administration will launch a pre-emptive strike against North Korea sometime in the coming months.  It has already started enacting the scenario it had created before invading Iraq in the international politico-diplomatic circles, with the full backing of the international media. Its multilateral talks with China and North Korea held recently, was a clever ploy to camouflage its intention, as was revealed by Mr. Collin Powell himself....  The UN must be able to stop this impending war if the world is not to become subservient to US hegemony."




Independent Calcutta-based Bengali-language Ananda Bazar Patrika declared (5/1):  "That North Korea has clearly reiterated that it will hold talks only with Washington is really significant.  There is no room for any doubt that it is not ready to make any step without American financial benevolence....  The current situation naturally has led to internal feuds in Washington. Will it mean accepting North Korea's nuclear threat for all practical purposes?  Will it lead to anything substantial, leaving the question of prestige alone?  Or will Pyongyang go back to its nuclear program after extracting the most important promise of economic assistance? The answer is still unclear except in one case.  The pride Washington has been enjoying after the Iraq venture with other 'evil' nations getting alerted and alarmed has waned to some extent.  Pyongyang's gestures are pointing out rather that the only way to resist U.S. aggression is through nuclear programs. Washington probably did not expect this sort of boomerang results out of its foreign policy."




SOUTH AFRICA:  "North Korea"


The liberal Mercury commented (4/29):  "North a product of the ideological and military confrontation which began the Cold War....  It exists in a time warp....  North Korea has come just about to the end of the road....  But the political system...could never survive the embrace of the South [Korea]....  The South Korean government is in talks with its neighbor....  It is like an international version of negotiations with a delusionary gunman who has holed up somewhere, from where he makes all kinds of demands and threats.  As with the gunman, tact and firmness are required.  Usually they work."




CANADA:  “Waiting On N. Korea”


The centrist Winnipeg Free Press observed (4/28):  “The government of North Korea achieved its long-sought meeting with representatives of the United States government last week but at the end of it, the United States was left as uncertain as ever about the reclusive republic's intentions and capacities and about the nature of the threat it poses to its neighbours….  North Korea's neighbours should continue to make contracts and do business with the Pyongyang government in small things such as shipments of food and medicines so confidence can slowly be built. Even if the present rulers cling to their isolation, their policy cannot continue forever. The waiting game is a game the United States and its allies will eventually win, though the wait may be very long."


"N. Koreans Pay High Price For Peace"


Richard Gwyn remarked in the liberal Toronto Star (4/30):  "This week, small, poor, bankrupt and starving North Korea is negotiating one-on-one with the Americans. The Chinese are also present--the talks are in Beijing--but mostly only so Washington can claim not to have yielded to North Korea's insistence on one-to-one negotiations. The difference between this diplomatic glove treatment and the mailed fist that's just been used on Iraq is so stark that the "it's all about nukes" analysis does have considerable credibility....  The true threat is global. North Korea has already sold its missile technology to countries like Pakistan and Iran. It may one day--it apparently has hinted at this during the Beijing talks--sell its nuclear materials to terrorist cells. It's the possibility for this kind of global destructiveness that determines the U.S.' policy toward North Korea rather than its immediate potential consequences, although the risk of a regional nuclear arms race, starting with Japan and soon afterward likely encompassing South Korea, is real and serious. The U.S. thus is looking for a solution--not just another freeze of its program by North Korea but the complete dismantling of it under United Nations' inspection--that could apply elsewhere, as in Iran and perhaps Syria....  For the world, the kind of jaw, jaw, jaw now going on between the U.S. and North Korea is a far better policy than would be war, war, war. But for the people of North Korea, war would be their one chance to escape from a jail and a lunatic asylum--as has just happened to the Iraqis."


"North Korea's Nukes"


The conservative National Post declared (4/28):  "Last week, U.S. officials met with their North Korean counterparts in talks held under Chinese auspices. The fact the Chinese were involved at all was seen as a victory for U.S. President George W. Bush, who has long refused Pyongyang's demands for purely bilateral negotiations. But Beijing must do more than merely facilitate--it must be a player. Like Saddam, Mr. Kim has a fundamentally paranoid, belligerent approach to foreign relations, and therefore attaches existential importance to his WMD program....  The Chinese continue to prop up North Korea because they worry about the prospect of a unified Korea governed from U.S.-friendly Seoul. This attitude will eventually change: Beijing is furious at Pyongyang and is slowly increasing its links to South Korea. In the meantime, though, the Chinese must at least use their power to snuff out Mr. Kim's WMDs. The United States and China should present a united front: not a stitch of aid until North Korea dismantles its nuclear program and destroys whatever weapons it has already built. China may be wary about helping the United States squeeze Pyongyang. But surely Beijing must view the only alternative, war, as far worse."


ARGENTINA:  "North Korea And The 'Domino Theory'"


Oscar Raul Cardoso opined in leading Clarin (4/26):  "A reversed 'domino theory' seems to be taking place in the controversial case of North Korea's possible nuclear arsenal. And its first moves offers an interesting approach to understand the US foreign policy after its recent and shocking military victory in Iraq....  The 'domino theory' is a byproduct of the US strategic thought of the last three decades of last century....  The domino is now back in Washington: the Hussein regime was at least the first of the peaces that will bump into each other in the Middle East, thus throwing a new final design that will include the region in the field of the West's wishes....  North Korea offers a relevant problem Iraq never offered. Although it is an undeniably weak country, perhaps it is not so weak to fit in the 'asymmetrical war' model that US strategists seem to prefer. According to some recent intelligence report, all along the line that separates the US and South Korean armies from that of North Korea, Pyongyang has deployed some 13,000 artillery peaces half of which are able to shoot bullets containing chemical and/or bacteriological weapons. This does not promise the sort of post-heroic war which US military have been so fond of in recent times."


"Another Provocation Of The Most Feared Member Of The 'Axis Of Evil'"


Marcelo Cantelmi wrote in leading Clarin (4/25):  "North Korea could appear as a labyrinth for the U.S....  North Korea's holding the old Cold War doctrine of the ensured mutual destruction in order to compel the White House to resume suspended food and energy programs, which are vital for its survival....  This crisis is leading to a strategic reconfiguration of all Asia. The appearance of a labyrinth is precisely given not only by the features of the North Korean regime but also by the danger represented by China, among other Pyongyang's alliances, that could bring unpredictable consequences if the conflict continues growing....  The dangerous ties (between North Korea and Pakistan), plus the contradictions and crises in the Middle East, the Far East and Central Asia should deserve diplomatic cautiousness that does not seem to prevail in this stage of the world redesign promoted by the White House."


CHILE:  "North Korea: A Nuclear Threat?"


Leading-circulation, popular Santiago-based La Tercera editorialized (4/28):  "Beijing should reformulate its policy toward North Korea.  If the announcement by North Korean authorities is true, China's old ally will become a dangerous threat to a region in which the Asian giant aspires to be a leader in the short term.  However, some analysts think the information provided by North Korea might be a strategy to dissuade the U.S. and its allies from intervening in that nation.  In the past, Pyongyang has bragged about its nuclear program without showing concrete proof of its progress....  In a sense, the mutual commitment in the last round of negotiations to keep channels of communication open between the delegations of the three participating countries is of special relevance."



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