September 3, 1998
NORTH KOREA'S MISSILE TEST OVER JAPAN:
A 'PROVOCATIVE' 'SHOT ACROSS THE BOW'
North Korea's test-firing this past Monday of a medium-range missile, part of which flew over the Japanese island of Honshu before plunging into the Pacific Ocean, evoked swift condemnation from media outlets in the region and beyond. The missile test, following just weeks after reports that North Korea had resumed construction of an underground facility near the Yongbyon nuclear plant and one of its submarines had infiltrated South Korean waters, prompted editorialists to agree with Seoul's pro-business Joong Ang-Ilbo's assessment that "rapprochement is not likely to come easily on the [Korean] peninsula.... The North seems much more interested in an offensive diplomacy than in enhancing peace and coexistence with the South by way of a dialogue." A release by North Korea's official KCNA news agency, while not directly acknowledging the missile launch, lashed out at Japan for "making a fuss" over the episode. "Japan's behavior is ridiculous," KCNA charged, adding: "Japan must necessarily pay for the 40-odd years of its occupation of Korea and murder of Koreans and plunder.... We warn Japan to...act with discretion and renounce its anachronistic hostile policy toward [North Korea] at once." Following are major themes in the commentary:
WHAT IS PYONGYANG UP TO?--Many analysts speculated on Pyongyang's possible motives for conducting its "provocative" launch at this juncture. Some held that North Korea was intent on demonstrating a "show of force" in advance of the 50th anniversary of its founding on September 9 and the expected installation of Kim Jong-Il as "paramount leader" of the secretive Stalinist state. Others maintained that the launch had a dual purpose: to serve as a "giant advertisement" for the country's missile technology--which one writer called North Korea's primary "export commodity" to Third World countries--and to serve as a bargaining chip to win concessions from the U.S. Rome's left-leaning, influential La Repubblica, for example, stressed: "The North Korean government has stated very clearly that it will continue to produce and sell missiles up until the time the U.S. lifts its economic sanctions.... Therefore, arms production...has become (North Korea's) most important diplomatic...tool to try and obtain concessions from the U.S. and the other Asian countries without making any significant concessions" of its own.
HOW SHOULD U.S., JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA RESPOND?--Opinion on how the U.S. should respond to the missile test was mixed. London's conservative Times criticized what it perceived as Washington's policy of "humoring" North Korea, saying that "the harder Pyongyang probes the Clinton administration, the softer it finds it." Others found common cause with Toronto's leading Globe and Mail, which concluded: "Barring invasion, the [only] option, unappealing as it sounds, is to give North Korea oil, food aid and peaceful reactors, tied to tough conditions: inspections to ensure missiles are not being exported and atomic bombs are not being developed." This strategy, the paper opined, would "buy time" for the U.S. until the North Korean regime goes "the way of East Germany." Editors in South Korea and Japan held that their countries' own defense systems must be improved to cope with North Korea's "grave threat to the peace and stability of neighboring countries and...the world."
This survey is based on 29 reports from 13 countries, August 19 - September 3.
EDITOR: Kathleen J. Brahney
|  EUROPE  |    |  MIDDLE EAST  |    |  EAST ASIA AND THE PACIFIC  |    |  SOUTH ASIA  |    |  LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN  |
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
NORTH KOREA: "Japan Warned To Act With Prudence"
North Korea's official KCNA carried this (9/2): "The spokesman for the Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee issued a statement today accusing Japan of making a fuss these days about a long-distance missile launching test that Japan says was carried out by [North Korea.] The spokesman says: High-ranking officials and other politicians of Japan are making provocative remarks against [North Korea] over a missile launching test that they say was carried out by [North Korea]. They describe the test as something 'regrettable' and 'dangerous,' and claim that the test made it difficult to improve relations with [North Korea].... Japan's behavior is ridiculous indeed, in view of the fact that Japan is zealously developing long-distance vehicles and other up-to-date weapons and paving the way for overseas aggression, having worked out 'Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation.' Many countries around Japan possess or have deployed missiles. Japanese politicians, however, hurl mud only at [North Korea].... Japan must necessarily pay for the 40-odd years of its occupation of Korea and murder of Koreans and plunder. We bitterly denounce Japan for making a fuss over a matter that belongs to our sovereignty while being unaware of its background. We warn Japan to face up to reality, act with discretion and renounce its anachronistic hostile policy toward [North Korea] at once."
SOUTH KOREA: "North Korea's New Challenge"
Yonsei University Professor Lee Chong-min wrote in an op-ed article in the pro-business Joong-Ang Ilbo (9/3): "Obviously, the (missile) test...has the potential to fundamentally modify whatever power balance there is currently on the Korean Peninsula.... The success of the test now dictates that the North is in full possession of the capability to reach beyond the peninsula. Secondly, the test--having been carried out just as the era of Kim Jong Il's new leadership is about to commence--fully proves that the military is at the helm of the Northern regime in conducting its national strategy.... The episode also tells us that it is not going to be easy to change the regime by way of economic reforms.... Finally, a rapprochement is not likely to come easily on this peninsula, as the North seems much more interested in an offensive diplomacy than in enhancing peace and co-existence with the South by way of a dialogue."
"Taepo Dong I Is Not Someone Else's Issue"
Conservative, top-circulation Chosun Ilbo asserted (9/3): "We see that the Korean government is maintaining a cautious posture regarding this incident, claiming the validity of the 'sunshine policy.' For our part, the Taepo Dong missile test carries a far more grave implication.... A realistic reconsideration of our policy and diplomatic skills to build effective cooperation among our allies are what we need most."
"North Korean Missile Misses The Target"
Prominent writer KimYoung-hee said in an op-ed piece in pro-business Joong-Ang (9/2): "The thing we had been worrying about finally took place. Almost out of the blue, North Korea test-fired its Taepo Dong I, shocking Japan to the point of terror and making the world nervous.... With the up-coming inauguration of its leader, Kim Jong Il, North Korea feels that it has to show its people and the outside world that its leadership is on solid footing. Mostly, it wants to accumulate the greatest possible compromises from its negotiations with the United States. In addition, the test was a wonderful promotion for its missile customers in the Middle East.... Did, then, the North only gain through this missile test, and lose nothing at all? More than anything else, the North's missile threat will dramatically solidify security cooperation between the United States and Japan.
"The launch of the Taepo Dong I will serve as a big whip on a hesitant Japan which has been delaying action on the U.S.-Japan Defense Cooperation Treaty signed in 1997."
"Danger And Arrogance Of Taepo Dong I"
Top-circulation, conservative Chosun Ilbo held (9/2), "The North has committed an act of danger and arrogance, entirely ignoring international order and security.... Japan is already responding, refusing to sign an agreement to pay for the construction of the North Korean light water reactors. We, too, should do something similar, linking that construction to the North's missile program. The 180-km restriction which limits the development our own missiles should be lifted immediately, and the Korean government should work with the United States to come up with more counter measures. If we don't do anything this time, it will only further spoil the North. We are getting tired of the Korean government and its 'sunshine policy.' Strong measures against North Korea are fully warranted."
"Show-Off Just Before Kim Jong-Il Takes Office"
Reporter Kang Yong-soo of conservative Chosun Ilbo (9/1) commented: "What was the North's intention? Some speculate the test was intended to show off to the world that North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il's political standing is solid at home just before he takes office as president, and also as the 50th anniversary of the North's regime approaches. Others speculate that the North had in mind elevating its negotiating position at the ongoing high-level U.S.-North Korean talks. In other words, the North now wants to take advantage of a 'missile card' as it did a 'nuclear card' a few years ago."
"Japan Ready To Make Test An International Issue"
Tokyo correspondent Oh Young-hwan commented in pro-business Joong-Ang Ilbo (9/1): "The fact that a North Korean missile flew over its roof shocked Japan most.... As Japan finds itself within the full range of North Korean missiles, it may turn hard-line toward Pyongyang. This could create undue conflict with South Korea which is advocating a more moderate 'sunshine policy' toward the North."
"Signal Of North Korean Missile Diplomacy?"
Reporter Chung Jin-suk pointed out in moderate Hankook Ilbo (9/1): "While North Korea's latest missile test may simply be an issue of its internal political and military conflict, its ripple effect won't be trivial, given all the effort the international community has put into holding the North's missile program in check.... The fact remains...that the incident is already having an effect on the Korean Peninsula, with Japan refusing to sign an agreement to pay for the North Korean light water reactor project."
"Cautious Reaction To North's Underground Facilities"
Conservative Chosun Ilbo told its readers (8/26): "The Korean government is dealing with the issue (of North Korea's reported construction of underground nuclear facilities) with extra caution, as it does not wish to create additional problems, especially when there is no hard evidence that those facilities are really nuclear-related. Another reason for it to be cautious this time is that the government does not want to ruin whatever is currently going on between the two Koreas (for better relations). It is being careful because it does not wish to be forced to provide greater financial assistance to North Korea."
"Purpose Behind North Korean Reactor Project"
Pro-business Joong-Ang Ilbo's editorial held (8/20): "It has been a year since construction of the North Korean light water reactors began. While the project's paramount purpose is to prevent the country from developing nuclear weapons, we also had hoped that the project would help develop a sense of unity and cooperation between the two Koreas. One year later, the intra-Korean relationship has not changed much. Though we know we shouldn't be terribly discouraged by this, our intentions, hopes and money will have been for naught if the North goes against our expectations. Another reason we cannot celebrate the first anniversary of the project is because of the rumors that the North is constructing huge underground facilities, which will likely be used for nuclear programs. This allegation is already threatening the whole objective of the 1994 Geneva Agreement.... We should continue to financially support the North Korean reactor project only if doubts about these underground facilities are cleared. The United States, which led the nuclear negotiations with North Korea, should take the lead in clearing those doubts."
"North Korean Nuclear Issue And U.S.-ROK Cooperation"
In the editorial view of conservative Segye Ilbo (8/20): "The North Korean nuclear issue has been brought up again, reminding us that the issue was never fully resolved. To make the situation worse, we hear news that the North is developing inter-continental ballistic missiles. The intra-Korean relationship has also been aggravated by the recent submarine infiltrations. While the South Korean government does not seem eager to press the North for an apology over the infiltration attempts, the North continues its acts of provocation.... Whenever something like this issue comes up, the Korean government turns to U.S.-South Korean solidarity to find a solution. That solidarity indeed is the only alternative we have, as our own nuclear development programs are completely halted by the United States."
"North Korea's Nuclear Activity Worrisome"
An editorial in moderate Kookmin Ilbo pointed out (8/19): "North Korea was caught twice already this year trying to infiltrate the South by way of armed submarines, sending a message to the world that the North still aims to destroy stability on the Korean Peninsula. Now, news sources say, the North may be reviving its nuclear programs, preparing underground facilities in Yongbyon. If that is true, the act will be considered a head-on challenge to the international community's efforts for non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. The North should be paying attention to food and to the economy. North Korea should show its courage to the world by first stopping armed provocations and then tackling those real issues."
JAPAN: "Japan Must Deal Firmly With North Korea's Reckless Launch"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri's editorial stressed (9/3): "Japan remains in utter shock following North Korea's test-firing of a ballistic missile into the Pacific Ocean on Monday. The government had reportedly received information that the North's missile launch would be imminent. However, North Korea fired the missile in total defiance of the Japanese request, made through diplomatic channels, that it not conduct such a test. The North Korean act was extremely reckless and outrageous. We demand an explanation and an apology from the North....
"North Korea's suspected nuclear weapons program poses a grave threat to the peace and stability of its neighboring countries and the rest of the world. Japan and other members of the international community must react firmly to such a threat.... Japan must prevent this 'rogue' nation from taking more extreme action. Neighboring countries must convince the North of its folly and encourage it to become a responsible member of the international community.
"In this respect, cooperation with the United States, South Korea and other nations is vital in dealing with Pyongyang. There is a need to expedite research on the Theater Missile Defense (TMD) system proposed by the United States.... The U.S.-Japan security arrangement is, indeed, an irreplaceable 'safety mechanism' for the Asia-Pacific region. To make the alliance more effective, the Diet cannot waste time in passing bills related to the revision of the bilateral defense cooperation guidelines."
"Effective Measures Must Be Taken"
Conservative Sankei's editorial held (9/2): "North Korea's test-firing of a ballistic missile into the Pacific Ocean on Monday posed a new threat to the security of Japan.... Measures must be considered and taken in order to check the missile threat from the North. It is a fact that North Korea is developing missiles to build up its military strength and export them to third countries in order to secure foreign currency. First of all, diplomatic measures must be taken to strengthen the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and ask Middle East nations not to purchase missiles or missile technology from North Korea. Efforts should also be made to prevent the North from going nuclear. Second, Japan must strengthen its deterrent force.... Thirdly, Japan should start research on the Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system.... It is a little too hasty to link the latest North Korean missile launch to the future deployment of a BMD system in Japan. But Japan's launching of joint research with the United States on this system will become an immediate and powerful deterrent force."
"Japan Must Speed Up Theater Missile Defense Research"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri's editorial stressed (9/1): "North Korea's launch of a two-stage ballistic missile...into the Pacific Ocean on Monday posed a grave threat to the security of neighboring countries...(and) added new tension to the international community. Pyongyang's 'missile adventure' was extremely regrettable. North Korea's development of ballistic missiles, including Rodong 1 missiles, is a direct affront to ongoing international efforts to secure peace and security in the region.... What Japan must do, first of all, is to cooperate--as positively as possible--with the international community in advancing efforts to curtail the number of weapons of mass destruction and prevent their proliferation. It is also crucial that Japan, a nation with the concept of an exclusively defense-oriented security posture, has in place an 'airtight' defense system in order to cope effectively with potential attacks or threats from the outside."
"We Strongly Protest North Korea's Test-Firing"
An editorial in business-oriented Nihon Keizai insisted (9/1): "It is...difficult to pinpoint what was the true motive or purpose of North Korea's test-firing of a missile into the Pacific Ocean on Monday. The North is making arrangements for Kim Jong-Il's installation as paramount leader. In addition, the Stalinist state will mark the 50th anniversary of its founding on September 9. Whatever the reason, we cannot but call the North Korean motive extremely regrettable, if Pyongyang launched the missile in order to 'raise its national prestige' before the observance of these 'memorable' events.... The North must stop the worldwide proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Greater efforts must be made to start four-way talks among North and South Korea, the United States and China...to discuss peace on the Korean peninsula."
"North Korea's Test-Firing Protested"
Liberal Asahi suggested (9/1): "One analysis surmises that the North Koreans launched the missile to 'influence' the just-resumed senior-level U.S.-North Korea talks in New York. There is also speculation that the North tried to secure a further compromise from the United States at a time when American oil shipments to Pyongyang have been suspended, and KEDO has also placed its project of building light-water reactors for Pyongyang on hold.
"Whatever the reason, we cannot condone the latest North Korean missile launch that has raised tension in Northeast Asia."
HONG KONG: "Isolated Danger"
According to the independent, English-language South China Morning Post (9/1): "The North Korean government announced plans to continue the development of such missiles back in June, claiming it was forced into the move because of U.S. sanctions. Not only is the missile test a diplomatic ploy to pressure Washington over the lifting of these sanctions, it is also a giant advertisement for the country's missile technology.... Backing such a dangerous and unpredictable country into a corner through crippling sanctions is to court danger on a potentially catastrophic scale. However unpalatable it may be to run the risk of appearing to grant concessions to such a regime, it is necessary for some hard bargaining to be done in earnest.... (By) the lifting of oil sanctions...the United States would undermine any excuse--however spurious--North Korea has to expand its missile development program."
INDONESIA: "North Korean Missile Test Shocking"
Independent afternoon daily Suara Pembaruan opined (9/1): "If [KEDO-related] impediments are not resolved, North Korea will be frustrated. To compensate, Pyongyang will increase development of its nuclear capabilities. We also believe North Korea (in financial difficulties due to its deteriorating economy) would likely treat its modern weaponry--especially missiles--as export commodities. Missiles and nuclear weapons mean more money. With respect to arms sales, we believe there is some truth to reports that North Korean missiles have been sold to Third World countries.... It has been reported that North Korean missiles and military technology have been sold to Syria and Libya. Whatever the motive, North Korea's missile test signaled that the country can impede its adversaries'--and particularly South Korea's--every maneuver and military bluff. No doubt this [goal] has been achieved at the expense of all or part of the effort to overcome the famine which currently affects the populace."
THAILAND: "North Korea Playing A Dangerous Game"
The lead editorial of the top-circulation, moderately conservative Bangkok Post commented (8/21): "The new construction at the former nuclear research center at Yongbyon is extremely troubling. The United States, as the lead nation in contact with Pyongyang, must demand that work in the mountains outside Yongbyon stop. North Korea's neighbors must insist as well. North Korea's pledge in 1994 was clear to all of us. Pyongyang undertook to stop its nuclear program entirely, apart from the specifically agreed upon project to install nuclear power reactors. Asia has only recently gained two more nuclear powers, and we are neither proud of that, nor more secure. We simply do not want North Korea to have nuclear weapons nor to waste its extremely precious resources to try to develop them.... [Kim Jong-Il] should throw more effort into the fight against hunger in his pathetically underfed country. Of course, the United States must take the diplomatic lead, and the sooner it does so, the better. But it must stay in very close contact with South Korea, whose new president, Kim Dae-Jung, is committed to better relations with Pyongyang. Japan has special interest in keeping terrible weapons out of North Korean hands. But then, so do we all wish to keep weapons of mass destruction away from Pyongyang."
BRITAIN: "Deadly Power Play"
According to an editorial in the conservative Times (9/2): "(North Korea's missile launch) is a profoundly destabilizing development.... Humoring Pyongyang still seems to be American policy. Madeleine Albright has merely expressed 'concern.'...
"The harder Pyongyang probes the Clinton administration, the softer it finds it. The United States should reflect that every weak response could tempt this belligerent dictatorship to put American resolve to the ultimate test, on the territory of South Korea. Containment can make sense only if it contains."
GERMANY: "Provocation From Pyongyang"
Olaf Jahn judged in right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (9/2): "In view of Pyongyang's previous threatening gestures, we can assume that the country wanted to send a message to Japan and the United States: Give us more economic assistance, since, otherwise, we will build and sell increasingly more and increasingly new weapons. So far, such activities have been successful, but the most recent provocation was too great. Instead of yielding, Japan is blocking all kinds of assistance to North Korea and is thinking of building a common anti-missile defense system with the United States. The result could be military imbalance in the Far East. And Beijing's protests against such plans will not be long in coming.... However, at the same time, this situation also offers a chance. It again tells Beijing how dangerous its eastern neighbor can be for its own security. China's leadership, which has increasingly turned away from its former ally, is now likely to work more closely with the United States, Japan, and South Korea to resolve the Korea conflict and to exert political pressure on Pyongyang to prompt it to give up its missile and nuclear programs. This is all the more important to achieve this goal because North Korea is the center of a weapons net of unpredictable outsider states.... (So far,) the reactions from Japan and the United States indicate hope that the two countries do not have any illusions (about North Korea)."
"Missile Test In North Korea"
Roland Heine opined in an editorial in left-of-center Berliner Zeitung (9/1): "North Korea tested a missile...(that) could hit Japan and a number of U.S. bases in the Pacific. If we add reports that Pyongyang wants to continue the nuclear program it stopped in 1994, we could quickly get the impression that a new military strategic constellation is about to develop. But...one missile test hardly says anything about the capability of a country to use such missiles militarily.... However, what is worrisome in this case is not North Korea's alleged military strength, but its economic weakness. It harbors the danger of a serious implosion."
"North Korea Bares Its Fangs"
Left-of-center Nuernberger Zeitung had this view (9/1): "The government in Pyongyang knows that not too much will happen. It can still remember the threatening gestures of the West when Pakistan and India tested nuclear bombs in their unstable region of the world. Being aware of this, North Korea presented the world a long-range missile and again proved that it continues to pose a serious threat."
ITALY: "The Korean Missile"
An editorial in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica judged (9/1): "It is the very first time that Communist Korea has confirmed its ability to hit the most important ally of the United States in Asia with weapons launched from its territory, while also showing that it can potentially use its weapons against Russia, as well as its South Korea cousins.... The North Korean government has stated very clearly that it will continue to produce and sell missiles up until the time the United States lifts its economic sanctions.... Therefore, arms production remains one of the main channels of economic subsistence for the North Korean regime, but above all it has become its most important diplomatic political tool to try and obtain concessions from the United States and the other Asian countries without making any significant concession in terms of political and economic reforms."
BELGIUM: "Political Missile"
Foreign affairs writer Francis Van den Berghe remarked in independent Catholic De Standaard (9/1): "There is every indication that it was a 'political' missile test aimed at providing North Korea with exchange money during the negotiations with the United States, which are to be resumed in New York this week.... Pyongyang also wants to make it clear that it is in a position to cancel its missile business if the sanctions are lifted and if it receives American concessions on nuclear technology. For two years, Washington has tried to make Pyongyang freeze its missile program. It wants North Korea to join an international accord against the proliferation of missile technology. The missile test is probably also aimed at strengthening strongman Kim Jong-Il's prestige."
CANADA: "North Korea's Shot Across The Bow"
The leading Globe and Mail maintained (9/2): "The North Korean missile that flew over Japan on Monday splashed down somewhere in the Pacific, but it might as well have crash-landed on the Clinton administration's Korean policy.... What does North Korea want? It has virtually no stake in the international community or international trade; it is an almost completely isolated country whose only significant export is weapons.... But it is cunning and calculating. This missile test is simply another threat, launched in the midst of U.S.-North Korea talks over American follow-through on the 1994 agreement.... The U.S. Congress thinks it's time to play hardball.... Standing up to bullying is a viscerally satisfying response--particularly since this bully is barefoot, pint-sized and ragged. But he's also armed with a well stocked chemistry set and a shotgun. He can and will build nuclear weapons and the missiles with which to deliver them, and sell the kit to others, unless we convince him to do otherwise. There are only two ways to do that: threats or enticements. The threats are only viable if we intend to follow through--and neither Washington nor Seoul plans to invade and overthrow the Pyongyang regime. Barring invasion, the remaining option, unappealing as it sounds, is to give North Korea oil, food aid and peaceful reactors, tied to tough conditions: inspections to ensure missiles are not being exported and atomic bombs are not being developed. It is a strategy of buying time--because eventually, the North Korean regime will go the way of East Germany. Ultimately, that is the only solution."
EGYPT: "Comprehensive Worldwide Disarmament Needed"
Pro-government Al Ahram had this (9/3): "The missile launched by North Korea raised broad international reactions. It is an indication of North Korea's rising capability in missile production and expanding deterrence ability. But there is exaggeration in the reactions [to it] because the Far East and the whole world are full of missiles. This international situation gives the right to any country to develop its missiles to protect its security. For these objections to have credibility, the objecting countries should declare a binding program to destroy their own missiles under an international program of comprehensive disarmament, to be applied on all countries equally. The world will not accept being divided into countries that have the right to produce weapons of mass destruction and threaten the rest, while other countries denied this right."
BANGLADESH: "North Korea's Missiles"
Conservative Ittefaq concluded (9/3): "The only way to resist North Korea is to create an appropriate defense system for South Korea and Japan and isolate North Korea diplomatically. North Korea must realize that building weapons with development money while keeping people hungry is nothing short of a crime.
"Not only North Korea, some poor nations including India and Pakistan are currently engaged in similar crimes. Appropriate remedial measures are needed for the global humanity and peace."
"Missiles In The Pacific"
Centrist, Bangla-language Muktakantha observed (9/3): "Strong reactions have been created in East Asia, especially in Japan over North Korea's ballistic missile testing.... East and Southeast Asian nations including Japan are undergoing an economic recession. A severe food crisis exists in North Korea. If these nations now pay attention to spend more on defense, it will not only bring bad news for their peoples, but also create a negative impact on the global economy. Japan's retaliatory missile program and militarization will only increase tension. If a political settlement can be reached through negotiations to cause North Korea to refrain from its missile program, it will help reduce tension. Such an initiative is desirable."
LATIN AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN
CHILE: "North Korean Provocation"
Conservative, influential, newspaper-of-record El Mercurio remarked (9/3), "Pyongyang's decision to launch a missile over Japanese territory opens a new and more dangerous stage in the proliferation of these weapons. It also shows once again how untrustworthy is this government, whose representatives were negotiating with the United States at the time of the incident. North Korea made no statement and there is some doubt whether it was an old, already known type of missile or a newer one.... If in fact it is an improved system, the North Koreans would have in their hands a weapon that would make Japan as well as the U.S. bases in that region vulnerable.... Perhaps it was a show of force before the official swearing-in of Kim Jong II as leader of the nation, or an attempt to pressure Washington in the negotiations on North Korea's nuclear program.... The United States should not allow this aggression to change its demands toward the North Korean government."
Conservative, influential newspaper-of-record El Mercurio emphasized (8/22): "For the second time in five years, North Korea seems committed to developing nuclear arms. That's what U.S. intelligence agencies have determined, after having analyzed satellite photos that show a massive concrete construction near the Yongbyon nuclear plant. Pyongyang's foreign policy has been quite erratic. By the end of last year it started peace talks with South Korea, China and the United States. But it also landed spies from a submarine and is building nuclear facilities. The question one may ask is whether North Korea is searching for new dividends from the West or whether it harbors evil intentions toward Seoul."
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