IFES MONTHLY RECAP: SEPTEMBER 2007

Institute for Far Eastern Studies
NK Brief No. 07-10-2-1

DPRK-U.S. RELATIONS
North Korean and U.S. officials kicked off the month of September with meetings held in Geneva on the 1st~2nd. The bilateral talks focused on how to implement the February 13 agreement. After two days of talks, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill stated he is “convinced” the North will disable nuclear programs by year’s end, a timeline offered by the DPRK negotiators. North Korean press reported that the DPRK would be removed from the U.S. terrorism roster and sanctions imposed under the Trading with the Enemy Act would be lifted in return.

On September 7, Hill announced that North Korea had invited nuclear experts from the United States, Russia, and China to the DPRK in order to survey nuclear facilities and recommend dismantlement plans. The experts examined North Korean nuclear sites from September 11 to September 16.

On the same day, U.S. President Bush stated Washington would consider a peace treaty with North Korea in return for the North’s abandonment of nuclear arms.

On September 17 it was reported that North Korea had admitted that it had earlier procured materials needed to build uranium enrichment centrifuges. The admission regarded the import of 150 tons of hard aluminum pipes, enough for 2,600 centrifugal separators.

On September 20, the DPRK was removed from Washington’s list of countries producing illegal drugs. The North was added to the list in 2003.

On September 28, U.S. President Bush authorized 25 million USD worth of energy aid for North Korea. These funds could be used to provide the DPRK 50,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil, equal to the amounts provided by China and South Korea as part of the February 13 agreement.

DPRK-JAPAN RELATIONS
Two days of talks between North Korean and Japanese diplomats began on September 5 in Mongolia, with both sides expressing confidence that there would be progress. Wartime compensation issues were discussed, although Japan continued to link normalization of relations with kidnapping issues.

Following the talks, North Korea stated that kidnapping issues were resolved with Japan, while Japan stated that both sides reiterated existing positions. On the same day, Japan rejected a DPRK request to allow North Korean ships to dock in Japan in order to pick up aid for flood victims.

On September 30, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said Japanese economic sanctions on North Korea would be extended for another six months due to “basically no progress” on abduction issues.

DPRK-SYRIA ARMS COOPERATION
Reports began coming out of Israel in early September that reconnaissance flights over Syria had taken pictures of North Korean nuclear supplies and materials. Following Israeli air strikes, it was reported that Special Forces had entered Syria and confiscated material that appeared to be of DPRK origin. Conflicting reports stated that the facilities struck were missile storage facilities, rather than of a nuclear nature. North Korea has denied any nuclear cooperation with Syria.

DPRK-UAE RELATIONS
North Korea established ambassador-level diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates on September 18. A joint statement said the two countries aim to “enhance understanding and boost the links of friendship and cooperation between their two peoples.” Ties with such an oil-rich nation on friendly terms with Washington could be significant as the North moves to dismantle nuclear facilities.

ROK-DPRK ECONOMIC COOPERATION
It was reported on September 4 that stock prices of South Korean companies engaging in inter-Korean economic cooperation have shot up on news that the DPRK will dismantle nuclear programs. This includes not only those companies operating in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, but also firms involved in providing electricity and other projects planned in exchange for the North’s denuclearization.

On September 20 it was announced that the ROK government plans to request a 50 percent increase for inter-Korean cooperative projects in next year’s budget. The Ministry of Planning and Budget will request 822 million USD for cross-border projects, as well as 580 million USD for humanitarian assistance.

On September 27, it was reported that the ROK government was reviewing a proposal to jointly develop Nampo, Haeju, Najin, Sunbong, Wonsan, and Shinuiju. The North has requested development of heavy industries, while South Korea seeks cooperation on light industrial projects.

SIX-PARTY TALKS
The latest round of six-party talks opened in Beijing on September 27, with both the U.S. and DPRK negotiators promising progress. On September 30, talks were ended to allow delegates to return to their home countries to work on a ‘nuts and bolts’ joint statement. U.S. delegate Hill stated the delegates were close to agreeing on a definition of facilities, and that the proposed joint statement was very detailed. Before returning to Pyongyang, Kim Kye-gwan was quoted as saying that the North can report nuclear programs, but will not declare nuclear weapons by the end of the year. An ROK official stated that the North’s position was acceptable to Seoul. Negotiators are also thought to have agreed to begin removal of ten core devices from three nuclear facilities beginning in November. The joint statement is scheduled for release on October 2.

DPRK FLOODING
Acting UN Coordinator to the DPRK Jean-Pierre de Margerie stated on September 3, “The level of damage to infrastructure, to communications, to crops, to farmland and to households, is considerable,” but also pointed out, “The [DPRK] government has improved its level of cooperation by giving us unprecedented access to the field to conduct our assessments of the damage.”

ESPIONAGE IN THE DPRK
Li Su-Gil, spokesman for the DPRK National Security Service, reported on September 5 that several foreigners had been arrested along with a number of DPRK citizens accused of spying for a foreign country; Specifically, for having “collected official documents and information on the DPRK’s important military facilities, and spread the idea of so-called democracy and freedom to the people.” The identities and nationalities of those arrested were not revealed.

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