Thursday, January 31, 2008

ROT! "No Protocol" "Oakland International Airport did not break any laws "

Oh isn't this just so sweet! The Oakland International Airport finds a pass on their stupidity and egregious behavior toward our U.S. Marines and soldiers (not allowing them to take a piss or get a drink or munchies because they were a security RISK!) in as much as their contract said nothing about allowing our sons and daughters, just back from fighting the Orcs, "The Sept. 27 layover was the last stop for fuel and food, but the troops, who were returning from a tour in Iraq, were denied access to food and bathroom facilities.. Judas Priest!
The Oakland International Airport did not break any laws or regulations when it denied 200 Marines and soldiers access to the passenger terminal during a layover last year from Iraq to the troops' home base in Hawaii, the Transportation Department says.

Really! How about the laws of hospitality toward our sons and daughters fighting the godless Orcs and protecting our freedoms. How about the laws against egregious Stupidity? !

The contract to allow military layovers at the California airport "did not require that military personnel have access to the airport terminal; it only required that military personnel be allowed to deplane and stretch their legs on stops lasting over one hour,".

Isn't that just so sweet and totally STUPID. Can you believe this the the land of the free and the home of the brave.


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Danish 12 caricatures of Islam's founder--Now They Are History

The infamous cartoons depicting the founder of Islam were published in Danish newspapers in 2005 triggered riots which killed over 50 people. Today, "Copenhagen's Royal Library – founded by King Frederik III in 17th century – is courting a new controversy by classifying the cartoons as “historic” objects alongside other Danish treasures, such as original manuscripts by Martin Luther."
Danish Muslims are pissed and not amused. All that fuss and feathers and still Denmark will give up their right to free speech and grovel. Some Danes just don't know when to give up.

Kasem Said Ahmad, a spokesman for the Danish Muslim Society, which led the campaign against the cartoons said:

“We will not be holding any demonstrations as we got nothing from the Danish courts when we tried to sue the newspapers. We will ignore all provocations in future.”

Right.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another Great Speech Down the Memory Hole At State Department

The Rosett Report scores another speech that has vanished from the halls of the State Department. Jay Lefkowitz, special envoy for human rights in North Korea, has lost his facility to speak with a nuanced forked tongue regarding the member of the evil axis: North Korea. Four years of negotiations with the NK's says Jeff, has gotten the US--nada, nothing, zip. Now, Jay "NoBullshit" Lefkowitz's speech at the AEI has gone missing from the State Dept website. Not to worry-- the AEI still has their own copy. Not since Bolton has anyone attempted to speak truth to She Who Must Be Obeyed--Condi.


Jay Lefkowitz: Thank you, Nick, very much for that introduction. It is really great to be back at AEI. I fondly recall having an office up or actually down on the 11th Floor, back in 1993, when I was a refugee from the first Bush administration and spent a better part of a year here at a think tank, one of the prominent think tanks in the world and then when I ran out of things to think about, I moved on and got a paying job as a lawyer. But it is really wonderful to be back here. And I want to thank AEI for holding this conference and for its ongoing commitment to freedom around the world, including of course, for the North Korean people.

Quite a lot has happened with regard to North Korea since I last spoke at AEI nearly two years ago. That was not long after a joint statement had been issued on the Six-party talks in November of 2005, in which North Korea promised once again to abandon its nuclear weapons and rejoin the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Talks had begun two years earlier after it become clear that North Korea had not ended its nuclear program as required under the 1994 agreed framework.

Not long after the speech, I was making plans to visit the Kaesong Industrial Complex inside North Korea to assess human rights conditions when the regime tested ballistic missiles on July 4th, 2006. I was again considering a trip to North Korea when the regime conducted a nuclear test later that October. Now, economists teach us that correlation does not prove causality, but I have remained wary of announcing future travel to North Korea for fear of what might happen next.

About this time last year, the North Korean regime and the other five negotiating parties reached the February 13th agreement, under which North Korea promised the abandonment of one of its known nuclear facilities and the full disclosure of all nuclear activities in return for economic and energy assistance and other inducements, including the normalization of relations.

An initial requirement that North Korea discuss all of its nuclear activities within 60 days of the agreement was not met. And it has since missed a December 31 deadline to disclose fully its activities. And most recently, the regime has said that it will strengthen its war deterrent.

This is rather unfortunate as it signals that North Korea is not serious about disarming in a timely manner. It is regrettable, and it is indeed an unfortunate development for our security, but it is also bad for North Korea. It seems unlikely that the regime will get from the international community a better deal than the current one.

In other recent developments, the Congressional Research Service noted in a study last month that there are reports from reputable sources that North Korea has provided arms and possibly training to Hezbollah in Lebanon and to the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka - two of the most active terrorist groups. And this comes on the heels of widespread reports picked up again in the media today that North Korea may be have been engaging in nuclear proliferation to Syria, which likely prompted the preemptive air strike by Israel four months ago. Taken together, these developments should remind us that North Korea remains one of the hardest foreign policy problems for the United States to solve. Its conduct does not appear to be that of a government that is willing to come in from the cold. Moreover, it is increasingly clear that North Korea will remain in its present nuclear status when the administration leaves office in one year.

Given this reality it is useful to step back and revisit our objectives with regard to North Korea. We have now been engaged in six-party talks for more than four years, and it makes sense to take stock and to declare both our objectives and our rationale.

First and foremost, our primary concern with North Korea must be security and the security of the United States and its allies. As our national security strategy says, “Defending our nation against its enemies is the first and fundamental commitment to the federal government.” It is for this reason that attention to North Korea usually centers on its nuclear program. North Korea’s possession of such weapons unilaterally threatens the security of a strategically important region that includes China, Japan, and South Korea, our second, fourth and seventh largest trading partners, respectively.

North Korea’s long history of proliferating weapons systems and technology is also a major threat to our interests. This history has become much more troubling since the serial proliferator has become nuclear armed. The regime is not suicidal, but it is erratic and it refuses to be bound by the norms of the international community. For this reason, simple deterrence may not be sufficient. There is no guarantee that our own military and nuclear strength alone can prevent the regime from proliferating nuclear weapons or technology to Islamic terrorists or their backers.

We also have other deep concerns about the conduct of North Korean’s regime. Among these are its counterfeiting of U.S. currency and pharmaceuticals, its drug trafficking and money laundering, and of course, its human rights abuses which are infamous and notorious.

The way the North Korean government treats its own people is inhumane, and therefore, deeply offensive to us. It should also offend all free people around the world. Clearly, we want to see an improvement in this, just as we want to see an abatement of the threats to our security that are created by the regime.

But are the two unrelated? Certainly, many view the issues as separate. The six-party talks have not involved human rights. However, there is a valid question of whether this continues to make sense. After all, we know from history that improving human rights is not only a worthy end in itself, but it can also be a means to other ends, such as peace and security. Democratic societies, for example, simply do not attack each other.

But with the government such as North Korea’s, an inherently fragile regime, desperately clinging to power the same forces that drive it to mistreat its own neighbors, often explain its threatening conduct towards its neighbors. Often we find that repressive regimes create enemies abroad to justify their authoritarian rule at home. Certainly, North Korea does this.

If you will look at the Korean Central News Agency, the state-run propaganda organ, seldom does a week go by in which it does not allege plotting by forces in the United States, Japan, or South Korea to invade the country and place it under imperial rule. Citizens are warned that they should be ever watchful. Under such conditions which the regime’s leaders know to be a fiction, extreme security measures are apparently justified at home. And so, the state is justified in redoubling its defenses against foreign enemies or at least it declares as much.

The North Korean regime’s paranoia prevents it from allowing liberalization of its state economy, because it fears any liberalization that would make people less dependent on the government would contribute to its demise.

Left destitute by this choice, North Korea must rely on foreign aid to survive and feed its people, but its paranoia about empowering its people at all prohibits it from accepting any of the monitoring and reform requirements that occasionally come with foreign aid. So instead the regime extorts the aid granted by others.

This is a major reason why it has pursued a nuclear program, why it stations thousands of artillery systems in reach of Seoul, and why it occasionally acts out well-planned and public diplomatic and military tantrums. These are often intended to frighten the international community into giving patronage.

Dictatorial regimes almost always threaten other nations when they perceive it as their necessary to their survival. What this shows is that security interests and human rights issues are inextricably linked. They both derive from the nature of the regime, and any long term effort by the international community to alleviate security concerns in Northeast Asia will have to seek to modify the nature of the regime.

Any government that treats its people with so little regard will inevitably challenge regional security, even if it did not have a nuclear weapons program. This is demonstrated clearly by North Korea’s non-nuclear affronts, proliferation and conventional weapons, narco-trafficking, counterfeiting currency, and human trafficking. And, of course, how can one ever know with the regime as erratic as Pyongyang’s that it will not actually use its nuclear weapons or sell them to a terrorist bidder?

So having revisited what we want from our policy on North Korea - improved security and human rights - it now makes sense to assess what the impediments to progress have been. And after four years of six-party talks, it makes sense to review the assumptions upon which previous policy was built and make sure they are still valid today.

One key assumption that turned out to be incorrect was that China and South Korea would apply significant pressure to North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons. Instead, they seemed to prefer the status quo to unknown change.

Our original assumption was not irrational when it was made. A multilateral approach was viewed as essential, especially, since the two nations that border North Korea - China and South Korea - are the two nations with the most leverage over the Pyongyang regime. Certainly, they provide it with the lion’s share of its foreign assistance, including fuel and food. They are also North Korea’s largest trading partners. But it was further assumed that both countries shared our strong desire that North Korea not be permitted to possess a nuclear program and arsenal. This may have been a misguided assumption.

China probably would prefer that North Korea not have nuclear weapons, but not at the expense of its other national interests. It has not seriously pushed North Korea to abandon its weapons program. And its assistance programs and trade with North Korea have persisted with only brief interruptions. The reasons are that Beijing believes that North Korea is unlikely to use nuclear weapons against China, that North Korea’s proliferation does not affect China directly and, most importantly, that Beijing does not want a precipitous collapse of the North Korean government which could cause a refugee influx and instability in its border region.

We may not like those views but they are understandable. Therefore, China has not played the role we had hoped in denuclearizing North Korea even though it clearly relished its hosting the six-party talks.

Our assumption regarding South Korea’s interests may have been equally faulty. South Korea has not applied serious pressure on North Korea, and appears to share China’s preference for the status quo over a process of change it may not be able to control. For the last decade, the South Korean government has been very hesitant to criticize North Korean human rights violations. Last fall, Seoul could not even bring itself to vote in favor of a U.N. resolution in the Human Rights Committee that expressed concern about abuses by the regime in Pyongyang.

Moreover, South Korea has provided Pyongyang with copious amounts of assistance like rice and fertilizer, even though this is often diverted from those in need to the regime’s elite and military. The South Korean government is also believed to have made sizable cash payments to North Korea at times, and has engaged in joint industrial projects that it believes will open the regime, but with little oversight. All of these provide considerable support to Pyongyang.

We sincerely hope the new South Korean government will drive a harder bargain with Pyongyang and speak more forthrightly about North Korean’s human rights abuses, but again, without a change in the ROK’s policies we cannot expect too much support from them.

Because the Chinese and the South Korean governments have been unwilling to apply significant pressure on Pyongyang, recent talks have, in actuality, become more of a bilateral negotiation between the United States and North Korea. What we had hoped would be a process in which Beijing and Seoul would simultaneously withhold carrots and use their considerable influence over Pyongyang to end its nuclear activities, has evolved into a process that provides new carrots without a corresponding cost to Pyongyang.

So this brings us to the next steps and perhaps to some revised policy options. In my view, a realigned approach should take into account three factors. Number one, we should now shift our focus from a short to a longer time frame. It is increasingly likely that North Korea will have the same nuclear status one year from now that it has today. Number two, policy should rest on assumptions that correlate with recent events and facts, and it is evident that South Korea and China will not exert significant pressure on North Korea if they think it might lead to its collapse. And three, all negotiations with North Korea should firmly link human rights, economic support, and security issues.

In other words, we should consider a new approach to North Korea - one of constructive engagement intended to open up the regime. Offering a new concept of dialogue and taking historically effective steps to interact - perhaps, even bilaterally with North Korea - would constitute an ambitious but potentially feasible diplomatic initiative. This would involve declaring that a candid and ongoing human rights dialogue with Pyongyang is now a permanent part of our engagement policy, and a condition for normalizing relations.

In this way, talks could evolve to resemble the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which came out of the Helsinki Final Act and its Helsinki process. This was the mechanism by which the West and the Eastern Bloc engaged in dialogue on political, military, economic, and human rights issues beginning in the 1970s.

A way forward on this would be the link issues of importance to us and to convey to the North Korean regime that this is a permanent new agenda item. The working group on normalization of relations would be a good starting point for discussion on human rights, but linkage is needed to make this useful. Working groups that are irrelevant to the overall process are just that: Irrelevant.

In Helsinki, real progress in all three baskets was necessary for the overall negotiation to advance. On human rights, progress is not bureaucrats from two governments meeting and reading prepared statements from binders. Progress is something tangible and demonstrated that moves North Korea closer to the norms of the international community.

With this structure, the discussion on nuclear disarmament would continue to be the primary objective, but the incorporation of and linkage with human rights in the dialogue would serve the purposes of encouraging cooperation from the North Korean regime. The key to make the link between human rights and other issues is explicit and non-severable. And the key is to do it that way so that it cannot be discarded in any future rush to simply get to “yes,” in some future agreement. That is because any agreement without human rights progress will not foster regional security over the long term.

North Korea is unlikely to prefer this approach, but it is one that could ultimately serve the interests of all the parties. Economic assistance to North Korea may therefore be a real possibility, but it must be given only in return for tangible, verifiable progress on all issues that are a component of the dialogue. This is how it worked with Helsinki.

We can also consider using other leverage that we know to be effective on Pyongyang. This might include restricting the regime’s access to the United States and the international banking system, which has at times been necessary before given the regime’s involvement in money laundering.

Constructive engagement can also include expanded foreign assistance, including humanitarian aid to North Korea, provided it reaches those for whom it is intended. This is one area where the United Nations could play a constructive role. If aid donors could be syndicated and would agree to offer large amounts of humanitarian assistance to North Korea contingent on full access and monitoring, Pyongyang might just feel pressured and impelled to accept, especially if Beijing and Seoul stop writing checks with no conditions attached. In this way, the misery of the North Korean people could partially be alleviated.

Our engagement, our constructive engagement, also should include subsidiary dialogues and exchanges. When US-Soviet relations evolved after the death of Stalin, we signed the cultural agreement that eventually enabled tens of thousands of Americans and Soviets to visit each other’s nations. By doing so, it exposed millions more to cultural exhibitions hosted by each country. It was a way of reaching behind the Iron Curtain to the Soviet people, and the same could be done with North Korea.

Finally, and regardless of the state of our dialogue, we should continue with activities that have proven to be effective in opening up closed societies over time. The real changes in North Korea - if they come - will come from within. Therefore, we should focus our policy on facilitating such changes. When I spoke here two years ago, I was asked about my principal objectives and I said that a key way to empower the North Korean people is to force a ray of light through the veil that Kim-Il-Sung, and now Kim Jong-Il, have drawn over North Korea.

Since that time, the American taxpayer has provided more resources for the various organizations that broadcast news and information into North Korea by radio. And I have asked that the resources we commit to this be significantly increased. We have also talked to other governments about supporting this effort and we have asked Japan to permit medium wave broadcasts from its territory for this important purpose, which would of course also be a way of reaching the Japanese abductees still living in North Korea. Much has been learned in the past four years since we entered the current phase of dialogue with North Korea. North Korea has not kept its word.

Indeed, proliferation concerns cast the pall over global security, thanks to Pyongyang. It is appropriate now to reevaluate, to look at what has worked and what has not. We now know what levers work on the North Korean government, and we should use them. The best solution may be an evolved dialogue, one that takes a holistic view of the challenges presented by North Korea. This, combined with a strong deterring capability, missile defenses and effective counter-proliferation tools, could form an adjusted and whole policy, reflective of recent developments.

Thank you.

I’m told by our fearless leader here in Washington, dear leader, that we have time for a few questions, so I’m happy. If you want to pass the mic along.

Miles Pomper: I’m Miles Pomper from Arms Control Today. I have to say that I found part of your speech kind of alarming or distressing. I mean, the administration was either disingenuous or na├»ve when it came to the South Koreans and the Chinese, because it has been pretty well known that their highest priority is avoiding the regime collapse in North Korea, since the beginning of this administration. This struck me as some way of avoiding responsibility for the administration’s failure to prevent North Korea’s testing of nuclear weapons and development of further missiles. This is not a secret. This has not come as surprising to portray it that way, just strikes me as very strange.

Jay Lefkowitz: I did not try to surprise anyone, and I’m not sure that there is any surprise to be drawn from this. We tried very hard to foster a multilateral approach. We thought that there would be ways of engaging, in particular China, more deeply in this. I do not believe that frankly it is in China’s long term interest to be tied in the way it has been to North Korea, but it is obviously understandable that China may have other plans for the Korean Peninsula than reunified South Korea. And South Korea and China both have grave concerns about an influx of refugees.

The purpose of my remarks today is really to assess where we are right now and to look at some potential policies that would endeavor us both to protect our security, to promote regional security, and to link human rights because it seems to me that we have a fundamental obligation with respect to trying to improve the conditions of life for the people in North Korea. On its own, I think that is a very important end in and of itself. Whatever we can do to help the refugees who are flowing out of North Korea and, frankly, would flow out in much greater numbers if the Chinese did not have such brutal policies, is something we should do. And we need to encourage South Korea to do much, much more in this respect, as well as the other Asian countries. But obviously, the primary concern is a security concern, and the purpose of my remarks today is to look at a way of linking the human rights issues with the security issues.

Georgy Toloraya: Georgy Toloraya, Brookings Institute. I’m afraid that the approach you suggest could lead to the growth of hostility of North Korea and how do you think -- well, they can even resort to develop new weaponry and well, increase hostility to their neighbors. How do you think that such an approach would be received in the major capitals in other countries which are members of the six-party talks?

Jay Lefkowitz: That is a fair question. I guess I’m not terribly concerned about North Korea having a negative approach towards one of our policies, because I do not think they have a particularly positive approach right now, and I do not think they are trying to be helpful to any reasonable solution.

It is clear that in retrospect I think a very strong case could be made that the United States, as well as the other countries who over the last 15 years have given an enormous amount of support to North Korea, have probably propped up the regime in ways that have enabled the current situation to fester. And I do not know that this type of an approach would work if China and South Korea continue to, in effect, write blank checks to North Korea.

On the other hand, the regime obviously does not have the wherewithal to support its people, or even its military, without international aid. And I think if we really tied economic assistance not only to measurable security improvement, but also to an opening up of this regime, I think there is an opportunity that chance could start to take hold.

Chris Nelson: Thanks very much. Chris Nelson, Nelson Report. Thank you for speaking very clearly and slowly, a virtue that is often overlooked when people are trying to take notes.

I think most of us who are in the sort of the Korea policy chattering classes have in our dirty little hearts, have always worried that we could not get a deal or were not going to get a deal. But it is a little startling to hear the administration official in essence say that, as clearly as you did at the end of your speech, that a year from now we are going to be where we are now.

Are you talking for the administration at this point or are you trying to urge the administration to change its policy in the direction that you are talking about? And what do you think the likelihood is that there will be a change of direction in negotiation policy based on what you talked about and how you were expressing it?

Jay P. Lefkowitz: I’m not sure. I think our own policies are under review right now, and to some extent - as someone who has spent many years in government, in two different administrations - I'm not sure any policy at any point in time is set in stone. So I cannot really give you a very clear answer.

I can tell you that, I'm certainly expressing views that I think are appropriate today in terms of an evaluation of the challenges that we face, and at any point in time it is appropriate to evaluate our policies. Certainly, after North Korea has continually missed deadlines that it subscribed to only a year ago and has just recently stepped up some of its own bellicose language, it would be irresponsible not to be contemplating the policies and looking at where we should be going, both through the remainder of this administration and into the next administration, whoever leads it.

So I think that it is incumbent upon us, both those of us in government and those of us, as you say, in the North Korea chattering classes, to constantly look at where we can go with this issue.

Paul Wolfowitz: Paul Wolfowitz. I would like to ask you to comment on an approach, it seems to me that could do something for the humanitarian issue, in a way that is purely humanitarian. Not to say that it is exclusive of what you are talking about, but that would make more progress in fact if it were recognized as being not political, not security, not diplomatic. And the model is what happened 30 years ago, when a flood of refugees started to come out of Vietnam and Laos, and Cambodia.

To make the story short, the result was that the Southeast Asian countries and the United States and France and Australia and a few others got together and came up with a remarkable system that produced one of the few real humanitarian achievements of the twentieth century; which was a system where the countries that did not want these refugees, but were nearby, gave them what was called first asylum, on a guarantee from the second-asylum countries that they would resettle these refugees eventually, permanently. And I do not know the numbers, but I think it approaches two million lives that were saved. It was done in a purely humanitarian way. It was not intended either to have any political effect in Indochina. If it had any effect at all, it probably stabilized those regimes rather than destabilizing them.

Certainly Vietnam has not been shaken to the roots by the number of people that had left. Our country certainly has been enormously enriched by the human talent that we acquired in the process. And at some point along the way, I think it was around 1986, Vietnam became sufficiently comfortable with it that we actually were able to get agreement on something called the Organized Departure Program, where instead of having to get on leaky boats and encounter pirates and go for Thailand, people could actually get on airplanes, having had their exit pre-cleared.

What about thinking about a model like that, and obviously there are some big obstacles, but not on a scale of two million, but on a scale of 5,000 people a year, 10,000 people a year, get the United States to guarantee taking a certain number, get maybe even some Central Asian countries who already have Korean populations to take a certain number. Obviously, South Korea could take a number; although they might prefer to do it quietly. But it seems to me that is a model, that if it were presented not as an attempt to bring down a regime nor attempt to prop it up, but simply an attempt to deal with this horrendous problem of people trying to get out and the, encountering a life that is barely any better on the other side of the border in China and Russia.

Jay P. Lefkowitz: I think it is a very, very important concept. I think it is important for people in government not only to do what they do very well - which is to talk about their successes - but also to be a little self-critical. And having been in this position now, as special envoy for more than two years, I believe I have significant regret that we have not been able to do more in two areas to ramp up seriously the amount of funding we are devoting to radio broadcasting. Because every time I speak with a defector, it is the radio broadcasting that first gave that defector exposure to the outside world, told him or her that he did not really live in a socialist paradise. So that is one of my regrets and we have made some progress there, but not nearly enough to satisfy me.

The other area is in the area of refugees, and what Ambassador Wolfowitz says is absolutely right. In the very first discussions I had with the president after my appointment, he directed me to move our refugee policy and we did. And initially there was some significant movement. As a legal matter, we now do not have any barrier to North Koreans coming to the United States. We have now a policy that we will accept any and all refugees. It took a lot of doing internally and, basically, I think we succeeded in removing the internal roadblocks.

There are significant external roadblocks. The Asian countries are very uncomfortable taking refugees. They are uncomfortable about the reaction by North Korea. They are very uncomfortable about upsetting China, the South Korean government, and I hope that with the change of government, we see a new forward-leaning approach towards refugees. While they have cooperated a little bit and they have continued to take refugees, they have not done nearly as much as I think they could.

I hope that the Ambassador’s comment about the stabilizing impact is correct. I think, right now, a lot of the countries in the region would probably see this type of a program as having a destabilizing impact. I would say, we should pursue this and promote this in a very serious way. And I think it is one of the biggest steps that the new South Korean government could take. I think it could be a transformatory policy in South Korea, because the amount of families that are still separated in South Korea is enormous. There is really no place in the world that is separated quite the way the Korean Peninsula is separated, with even first-degree family relatives on opposite sides unable to visit.

So I think that from a humanitarian perspective, there is probably nothing we could do that would be more important than seriously ramping up our efforts to open the doors, not only to the United States, but to really ensure these other countries in the region that if they allow these refugees to get within their borders, that we will be there. We will help take them. We will help resettle them. We will provide economic assistance for the resettlement. There is no question, that one of the greatest parts of American history is our ability to be a refuge for people who are fleeing persecution. So we should promote this and I actually think that if we did that, it would over time have a transformatory impact in North Korea, as well.

Yes, time for one last question. Yes sir?

Parameswaran Ponnudurai: Parameswaran Ponnudurai from Agence France-Presse. Ambassador, two points you made, one was your premise that South Korea and China had effectively failed in the multilateral approach to prompt North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. And the second point, about the working groups literally not working. These are the two critical planks of the six-party talks. Are you prepared to say that the six-party talks should close shop?

Jay P. Lefkowitz: I think what I articulated was some suggestions for improving the six-party dynamic, some specific agenda items that should be made clear and permanent as part of the normalization working group. I would continue to try to work within the six-party apparatus. I think there is certainly some opportunity and clearly reason for hope that South Korea will modify its policies with its new government.

I think that a light can be shone on China, particularly in the coming year, as it becomes really a much more of an international focal point with the Summer Olympics, with the focus on human rights. It would be great to see the networks as they show kind of life in China, get beyond the environs of the Olympic stadiums and do some broadcasts about human rights issues and in particular, the North Korean refugees.

So I think we should still try to make the six-party talks work. I just think we need to take a page out of the history of the waning years of the U.S.-Soviet conflict and look at linking the human rights issues with the security issues, with the economic issues. Thank you.

Nicholas Eberstadt: Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you have just heard a very thought-provoking and powerful, and significant address from Ambassador Lefkowitz. So would you all please join me in thanking him for that.

Now we move into our swing-shift, into our second panel. Can we assemble our jury up here, please?

Let me also mention, for those of you who are avid readers, that a set of Ambassador Lefkowitz’s remarks are available outside now, if you wish to grab a copy of them. You can do so right now, while we are getting set up.

Our second panel is going to begin shortly. By way of background, I think I can mention that we take a look at the February 13th action plan from 2007, from the six-party talks. We see a fairly extensive diplomatic agenda for the DPRK and the international world, the international community, including the United States. The five specific areas that are indicated in the February 13 statement are denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, normalization of DPRK-US relations, normalization of DPRK-Japan relations, economy and energy cooperation, and Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism, developing those things.

We have a tremendous panel here for you this afternoon; experts, who I think, can talk to a number of the issues in this broader agenda in the order in which, I will invite them to address you. We will start with Dr. Larry Niksch of the Congressional Research Service, longtime observer of the Northeast Asian scene. In your binder today, is a report that Dr. Niksch co-authored on The North Korea: Terrorism List Removal? I think that Larry is going to address this immediate and pressing question in our bilateral diplomacy.

Next is the Executive Director of the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, Mr. Gordon Flake. Gordon is an expert on practically anything involving Korea, North or South. I think today we are going to put Gordon on the spot to at least start his remarks analyzing the whole thorny question of nuclear disclosure. But you can, of course, take off from there anyway you wish, Gordon.

And I'm happy also to have Dr. Michael Auslin, a relative newcomer to AEI. We lured Misha from Yale last summer, and I think that Dr. Auslin may wish to talk a bit about the question of abduction of foreign nationals with a particular focus upon Japan or maybe Japan-U.S. relations. In any case, let me ask our panelists if you will try to limit your initial remarks to about 10 minutes, we will have time to talk further in Q&A after that.

Larry, why not you kick us off?

Larry Niksch: Thanks, Nick and thanks to the American Enterprise Institute for inviting me today. My remarks are personal views and do not represent any official view of the Congressional Research Service, or any other agency of the U.S. government.

Now, I am the author of the report that Mr. Lefkowitz referred to on North Korean Terrorism List Removal. And when I saw the article that Dr. Moon Chung-in wrote, talking about North Korean assistance to Hezbollah’s missile capabilities through Iran, which he wrote in late November of last year, I decided that it was time to put that as well as some other reports that I had about direct North Korean military assistance to terrorist groups, into our report on North Korea terrorism-list removal.

I also subsequently, after the December 11th edition of that report came out, went back and looked at the Sri Lankan incidents that Sankei Shimbun documented and in fact, other sources at the time referred to those incidents, not directly to North Korea as the instigator of large cargo ships, unmarked, unidentified, trying to smuggle arms into Sri Lanka. But it does appear that the Sri Lankan navy, after giving out its initial reports of these three incidents, then clammed up in terms of providing any additional detail about the nationality of the ships, the nationality of the crewmen, and the origins of the arms that the Sri Lankan navy said it captured from these three large cargo vessels that were trying to smuggle arms into Sri Lanka.

I believe these reports are credible. I believe North Korea has been doing these things. So, what does that and some of the other terrorism-list issues, mean in terms of where we are in the six-party talks at the present time?

Now as I think you know, the deal that Chris Hill negotiated with Kim Kye Gwan involved a tradeoff of two obligations on each side, to complete phase II of the February 2007 agreement. On the North Korean side, North Korea was to agree to a full declaration of nuclear programs and allow the disablement of Yongbyon. The U.S. obligation was also two-fold, to remove North Korea from the U.S. list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, and to remove North Korea from the sanctions provisions of the U.S. Trading with the Enemy Act. And that is where we are now, at the present time.

The position of the offer to remove North Korea from the terrorism list means several things which I think are important. There could be, way down the line, a big financial windfall for North Korea. Because the main sanction applied to countries that are on this list of State Sponsors Of Terrorism is to require the U.S. executive branch to oppose any proposal for any of these countries on this list to be admitted to the World Bank, to the International Monetary Fund, and to other international financial institutions, and to vote “no” in these institutions against any proposals for economic or financial assistance, to any of these countries on this list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

Again, North Korea could enjoy or achieve a financial windfall from an end to this sanction, but it seems to me that would be a long, long way off because North Korean economic policies - I think you are aware of - are very unsuited to the requirements of the IFIs, for financial assistance or economic assistance. And I do not see any real movement on the part of Kim Jong-Il to institute the kinds of reforms and openness that, frankly, would be required for North Korea to have a real opportunity to gain aid from any of these international financial institutions.

But, it seems to me, the offer to remove North Korea from the terrorism list as part of the completion of phase II of the nuclear agreement thus raised some serious questions about our overall approach to North Korea. And one of these is whether our offers of reciprocity in this approach to North Korea under the February 2007 agreement have really outweighed the benefits to the U.S., in terms of what we are getting back from the North Koreans. Even if the so-called action-for-action approach that seems to be embodied in the Rice-Hill strategy, even if that has some general logic to it, it seems to me, one can make an argument that so far we have offered more than what we have received from the North Koreans in terms of moving towards a full settlement of the nuclear issue.

One loss in making this offer to the North Koreans, it seems to me, is that it continues what I think is a long-standing Bush administration flaw of ignoring North Korean activities in the Middle East. And I think these activities, which I believe go very directly against very important U.S. foreign policy interest in the Middle East, these activities have been increasing and have been escalating by Pyongyang in the Middle East since 2000, including support for Hezbollah, military cooperation, and perhaps proliferation with both Iran and Syria.

I would even make the point that, arguably, these activities on the Middle East, and one example being what appears to be a very important North Korean contribution to Hezbollah’s ability to wage, in 2006, what amounted to a terrorist war against Israel. These activities may arguably be a greater threat to U.S. security and foreign policy interest than the North Korean overall military threat to South Korea, Japan and the United States, and Northeast Asia. Granted that they have several nuclear weapons, but you also have a virtual collapse of North Korean conventional force capabilities on the Korean Peninsula, which balances, and in my view, in terms of evaluating the overall military threat, outweigh their ability to, so far, produce a few nuclear weapons.

Now, what should the Bush administration do about the terrorist list issue? If it wants to continue with the Rice-Hill strategy but perhaps rectify the kind of flaw that seems to me is there in making this offer of removing North Korea from the terrorism list. One policy response could be to proceed with removing North Korea from either the terrorism list or the Trading with the Enemy Act in reciprocity for North Korea allowing completion of the disablement of Yongbyon. Now, the disablement is well along, probably 75 to 80 percent complete.

As I mentioned, North Korea has two obligations, we made two offers to the North Koreans. This would be a half-loaf solution. Take them off - and I would prefer to take them off of the Trading with the Enemy Act - in exchange for completion of disablement of Yongbyon. But keep them on the terrorism list related to the other component of the U.S.-North Korean deal.

You could, however, do an additional option or an additional policy switch on this and that would be - seems to me - to offer alternative benefits to North Korea in exchange for this full declaration of nuclear programs. But keep North Korea on the terrorism list and link removal more directly to terrorism-related issues, including the Middle East, and possibly some other terrorism-related issues as well.

This would be part of what I think Mr. Lefkowitz was talking about, bringing some of these other issues, some of these other interests that we have with North Korea, more to the center of our policy towards North Korea. Because if you look at this terrorism issue, human rights, the missile issue, and some other issues as well, the Bush administration has had such a laser-like focus on the nuclear issue. That if you look at this as kind of a solar system, you have the nuclear issue as the sun. But in the current U.S. strategy, the other issues have been pushed out to where Neptune and Pluto are in the solar system and it seems to me at some point, some of these issues do need to be brought back closer to the center of our approach with North Korea.

I also believe that in addressing the nuclear issue, another element of what seems to be very important, now for the Bush administration to do, is to start talking to the North Korean military. Because I believe that, the North Korean military is playing a big role in the lack of forthcomingness on the part of Pyongyang on the declaration. And I have also believed for a long time that the ultimate price that we would have to pay, in order to settle the nuclear issue, to get a full dismantlement of the nuclear issue with Pyongyang is to start dealing with the North Koreans on the North Korean military’s military agenda with us. I have never seen economic incentives, diplomatic incentives as being enough to get North Korea to drop its nuclear program, its nuclear weapons development.

So the terrorism list issue is, I think, very important. Keep in mind the potential damage that removing North Korea from the terrorism list without getting a lot in return could do in the long term to our alliance with Japan. So some changes, I think, are certainly arguable in terms of what adjustments the Bush administration may need to look now in terms of trying to move this process beyond what now appears to be a stalemate, possibly a stalemate of long term duration.

Thanks, Nick.

Nicholas Eberstadt: Larry, thank you very much for that analysis. Gordon, the floor is yours.

L. Gordon Flake: Thank you. Nick has asked me to focus on the question of nuclear disclosure, and I will start with a disclosure of my own. I do not consider myself to be a nonproliferation specialist in any way, but as kind of a North Korea specialist who for years now has followed the day-by-day, blow-by-blow negotiations between North Korea. It is my hope today to offer a little bit of color commentary and maybe some insights to help you better understand where we stand right now.

First and foremost, I think I should make it clear that I’m not one who is opposed to the negotiation process itself. I’m very supportive of it. I’m one who is concerned right now that the negotiations have gone awry, that we have kind of abandoned some of our fundamental strengths in that process, and that we are right now at the end of the Bush administration, engaging in something that is very similar to the legacy reach that we saw at the end of the Clinton administration that the Bush administration criticized so roundly when they came in. And that is where my concerns lie, that kind of legacy reaches are leading us down to positions that will not aid in the transition to whatever the next administration is, but will actually make it more difficult.

Now, first and foremost, the reason why we are focusing on this today is because of these missed deadlines that were referred to both in Ambassador Lefkowitz’ speech and by Larry and others. To put it in context, North Korea had agreed by December 31st to disable its facilities at Yongbyon, to disable its known nuclear program, at least that core component of it, and to provide a complete and correct declaration of its nuclear program. That was dipped by a year-end deadline; the deadline was set in the October 3rd meeting of the six-party talks and that was according to the February 13th meeting of the six-party talks where they had a February 13th agreement which laid out this phased approach, which again, to be clear, was envisioned to take place in something like 90 days.

I was one of the people who, on February 11th, was hoping that talks will break down because I was so concerned that we would give away the store, actually saw the February 13 agreement and became a supporter. It was a very calculated step-by-step logical process where it had a deadline and it had consequences where the North Koreans gave up a relatively meaningless freeze of this program, we would give a relatively meaningless 50,000 in metric tons of heavy fuel oil. If they wanted more, an addition 950,000 tons of heavy fuel oil in phase two, they would have to give more, which is the declaration, et cetera, right?

And again, they were supposed to be time-framed that hopefully would have led to a dynamic, a momentum that could have led to real negotiations about the real nuclear issue. Unfortunately, now nearly a year later, what I feared most has happened. We have focused so much on implementation of the agreement, we stopped looking at the fundamental objective of the agreement itself that being the momentum, the dynamic which was supposed to propel us into the real negotiations - the building, trust, et cetera that were supposed to have gone in that process. And by focusing on the implementation, the process is dragged out now for a year and, in my mind, is likely to drag out, at a minimum, until the next administration.

If you look at, specifically, the two things that were supposed to happen, there are some areas that are worth noting here. First and foremost, the area of disablement is being held forth as the great success story. Now the North Koreans are actually have allowed inspectors back in the Yongbyon, something that we have not had for awhile. They are actually going to the process. I think eight of the eleven steps of disablement now are said to have been completed. And so there is real progress being made in that regard.

There is some question, in my mind, about the relative significance of that. And again, as part of this legacy reach, the officials right now are saying that this is something that is far better than the 1994 Geneva Agreed Framework because it is real disablement.

In my review of this, and again, I’m from Arizona, from a farming family, this is equivalent to closing the barn door after all the animals are out, right? It is true we are shutting down Yongbyon and that is an important thing. It is true we got inspectors back at Yongbyon; that is a good thing. There is nothing bad about it, but the reality is we always have to keep in mind that there was a nuclear test, that they took out the spent fuel rods and moved them, and apparently reprocessed them. So the Yongbyon of 1994, the nuclear facilities of 1994, are not the nuclear facilities now and to declare a victory for what we got here and ignoring the differences, I think is a little bit of a sleight of hand.

Obviously, the declaration and the disclosure that Nick has asked me to focus most upon is the area of most concern and most interest. And I think that those of you who had followed the press reports have noticed that not only have the North Koreans not giving a disclosure, but recently they have said they have already given the disclosure, right?

In other words, let me settle the contradictory, but after stonewalling for quite awhile they said, “No, no, we actually did give it to Chris Hill.” And something I presumed that if Ambassador Hill was in the actually meeting said, “I do not want to touch that,” because for him obviously it is better to have a delay than to have a disclosure full of holes that would easily open him up to criticism and attacks here in Washington D.C.

The problem is what does the disclosure include? If you look at the February 13th agreement and particularly, the October 3rd agreement, it is to be a complete and correct disclosure. Complete and correct are pretty unambiguous words. From the very beginning of the process, the one issue that caused the downwards spiral during the course of the Bush administration was the North Korean highly enriched uranium program. So one would presume that the disclosure, at a bare minimum, would have to include their plutonium materials, production capabilities, as well as the actual reprocessed plutonium and the weapons they made here, where the testing facilities were, et cetera, but also that suspect highly enriched uranium program.

And then unfortunately, there is a new issue that has come here. And in some ways North Koreans can legitimately - and they are very vocally now claiming - that the U.S. has raised the bar and that issue is a question of proliferation. The North Koreans can probably rightly say that the word proliferation does not come up anywhere in the February 13th agreement or the October agreement, but right now it has been made very clear by the Bush administration that we cannot solve this problem, and we definitely cannot move forward on taking them off the Trading with the Enemy Act or the terrorism list if there is an ongoing ambiguity about the proliferation of North Korean nuclear materials to the Middle East.

Now, what am I talking about? To tell you the truth, I really do not know, because there has not been a public release of any information about this core issue here which was the September 6 air strike by Israeli airplanes on a facility in Syria that one is presumed to have been involving North Koreans. The Israelis have clammed up on this; the Americans have clammed up on this. Today there was an article in the L.A. Times that Nick sent around to us where other Western diplomats are confirming what other leagues have said presuming that this was indeed North Koreans assisting the Syrians with a nuclear program.

I have not seen the intelligence; I do not know for a fact. I think it is notable that there have been no denials. You wonder if there is something rather benign, why there would not be denials that at some point other than North Korea. I also found it quite interesting that the first country to protest the strikes, even before Syria, was North Korea, which it might tell you that there is something a little bit fishy going in the process.

But one way or the other, that issue now, particularly on Capitol Hill, has gained such importance that we cannot move forward on this issue until that issue is addressed one way or the other, so that has become included in the core declaration. Not only what materials you have but what you have done with them. And I, honestly, do not think that is an incredible leap in logic to say that we would want to have that more.

And I will also make a little bit of difference in nuance here. I honestly do not think that the State Department negotiating team, Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill, has raised the bar so much as that the others in Washington D.C. have raised the bar for Assistant Secretary Hill. In other words, the congressional people who were deeply skeptical about this approach have been concerned that we were going to move against the wishes of our allies and the terrorism list, and Trading with the Enemy Act. They have raised the bar in terms of what we will be required with that, and there is also a deep ambivalence, if not hostility, coming from those quarters on the Hill regarding the Syria issue, and so that is where that conditionality is coming in that part right there.

On the other hand, I think the leak by someone in the administration that there was uranium inside these aluminum tubes, it was intended again to raise the bar for Assistant Secretary Hill. The fear, I presumed, in some circles in the administration was that we were going to be willing to allow the North Koreans to explain the way their nuclear acquisitions, let alone the centrifuges - these tubes - by saying they were used for playground equipment. If they were used for playground equipment, the notion that there was uranium, then that makes that a bit more difficult.

So really what that is, is evidence of ongoing fissures within the administration and people making sure that we do not dumb down those standards too much. And that to me is the crux of why this has become so difficult.

The North Koreans, I think, were hoping that they could get away with a much dumbed down declaration that just, once again, focused only at Yongbyon. They already made it very clear at the negotiations that they were going to include the weapons, and now it seems they do not want to include the HEU because this bar for that is included. And they clearly do not want to talk about Syria. Any declaration that does not include those core components would be a meaningless declaration that would open up the entire process to attacks and, I think, collapse. So I think that is why we see this delay kicking the can down the road rather than moving forward.

Now, let me say, in your packets today, Nick kindly included a bit of rant that I sent around as part of a PacNet that was sent last week. They are really focused on what I call three measuring sticks or yardsticks for measuring where we stand in the six-party talks. I will not go over that in great detail right now other than to list what those three yardsticks are.

In other words, rather than standing back and say, “We have succeeded. Look how far we have come,” I think, first and foremost, any assessment of our current position has to take into account the nuclear test. You will notice that the administration right now hardly ever refers to it. I cannot remember the last time, other than Jay Lefkowitz today, someone mentioned the October 6 nuclear test. Any success, anything that we have done has to be done, measure in the context of whether or not, it was an appropriate response to a nuclear test or sufficient response to a nuclear test. And that is the environment in what you must be weighed.

The second point is the impact of our current approach on our relative coordination and cooperation with the other allies in the region. So the question is, today, are the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and Russia closer together now or were they closer together after the nuclear test a year ago? So a year after this process has begun, has our coordination and cooperation been strengthened or has our coordination and cooperation been weakened? And I think you can probably judge my conclusions in that front.

The final measuring stick, and again you can refer to the article, is our relative proximity to the strategic goal. Are we closer to a Libya model decision by North Korea on a strategic level to abandon its nuclear ambitions? Are we closer to an India or Pakistan model where North Korea succeeds in riding out the rough spot and being recognized as a nuclear power? Because we are now almost a year-and-a-half on from the actual nuclear test and the question is whether we now have the momentum and drive to solve that problem.

Let me end by pointing out just a couple of other things that are useful to take into account. First and foremost, I am really concerned about the term “disablement.” In February of 2007, when Christopher Hill came back from that six-party talks, he said, “We have this new word, disablement.” And it is not a normal arms control word. It does not make a lot of sense, and in Korean it is [speaks in Korean], which is also a weird word in Korean, too. What does it really mean? And when we asked, the answer we got was uniformly, “Oh it is just semantics.” It is the same thing as dismantlement. It means pouring the cement to reactors, cutting up the core rod, making it so that they cannot work.

Now over the course of the last year, the definition of disablement has shifted. It has become - well, they cannot restart it for three years. No, no, no they cannot restart it for two years. No, no, no, they cannot restart it for one year. And now we got to the point where disablement is basically taking the batteries out of a flashlight and setting it beside it and saying that flashlight is disabled, right? Where we have people on the ground, there is a shed build up next to it, the core components are removed and it disabled as long as the people are there. But there is no time frame associated to that whatsoever.

Now, the truth is that disablement is better than nothing. I have no beef with that, but the problem is what it means for our negotiations. And what it means is we have allowed the North Koreans to create a new phase of the negotiations called dismantlement which means that, now, having created a new phase called disablement where we have renegotiated Yongbyon for the fifth time, if this is completed, and once we do get the declaration - if we do - and once we do disablement of Yongbyon, we will start the next phase which we would hope to be focused on the actual material on the actual nuclear weapons, but what the North Koreans clearly intend to be the negotiation is about dismantlement.

And there, of course, will be new prices, a new cost associated with that phase of negotiations. So once again, the process have dragged on and delayed out and kicked out to the next administration.

My last comment - I realize I’m about a minute over - is that it is very easy to get up here and criticized Ambassador Hill and the others who are doing extremely difficult work here, and the quick flip response would be, “What is your alternative vision?” So I should, at least, posit slightly where I would do something different.

I think for the last year we have abandoned the fundamentals of the six-party talks. The fundamentals of the six-party talks were leveraging the strength and the influence of China, South Korea, Japan, Russia and us together, working with a common approach. And I think, despite the fact that we are doing under the rubric of the six-party talks, the negotiations in the last year have been highly personalized between Chris Hill and Kim Kye Gwan. They have been highly bilateralized, where the six-party talks has been basically been a rubber stamp, and in the process of that doing, we have abandoned our real influence in this area.

So ultimately where I would have made some difference and where I think we can still return to this was on March 14 - and I do not have time to get into the details - but on March 14th when the BDAA, the Bank of the East Asia blew up, and Kim Kye Gwan folded his arms and said, “I will not come back to negotiations,” even after the Treasury Department had finish this investigation. We should have been out of that; we should have said at that point, “Okay, we did it. Let us go back and consult with the other four parties about how we respond to the North Korean nuclear test.”

A year later, no one talks about the North Korean nuclear test. Everything is the square on the shoulders of Chris Hill and if you need to know anything about dynamic, it was Chris Hill that was going to Pyongyang in November begging for a correct declaration. It was the Chinese going to Pyongyang in December begging for a correct declaration. The dynamic has shifted because we have abandoned our mutual strength. So that is my basic assessment and I will stop there.

Nicholas Eberstadt: Thank you for that overview, Gordon. Misha, the floor is yours

Michael Auslin: Thank you, Nick. Nick asked me to talk a little bit about Japan and the broader context of the U.S. relations with allies in relation to this. Gordon gave us an extraordinary overview of the complexity of the issue from the American point of view.

I would say that largely for the Japanese, it is not a complex issue; it is a very simple issue. And the simple issue is that the abductee problem must be fully and completely resolved or there would be no action - for action, that is where it begins and where it ends. At least on the surface, when you dig down a little bit the issue with North Korea, of course, becomes far more complex because Japan has faced the whole host of what it considers terrorist actions, having most people consider terrorist actions directed against it by North Korea that is not limited to abductees.

The portion of the six-party talks that do not cover issues - which the Japanese are clearly concerned about - such as missiles, also factor into their calculations, and for the Japanese, there is a very large domestic dynamic that intrudes continually upon their participation in the diplomatic aspects of this.

I would like to, just very briefly, because I know we all want to get to questions, go through that a little bit and try to end by considering where the Japanese themselves feel they need to go from here, and what impact this is having on U.S.-Japan relations.

Overall, actually without presuming to speak, of course, for the Japanese government, they would welcome what Ambassador Lefkowitz said here today; particularly, his repeated linkage of human rights and human security with traditional security concerns. And I think that is how the Japanese have repeatedly phrased this issue of dealing with North Korea, of dealing with the abductees, that it transcends the traditional concepts of security. But, for them, human security and human rights issues are at the center of this inextricable linkage of broader regional security issues.

Domestically, of course, which is probably an area that the United States pays less attention to when it is trying to get the Japanese on board with the process as it evolves, this has become a major growth industry, I think we could call it, in Japan. It is an extraordinarily emotional issue and it has been framed in and indeed institutionalized in ways in Japan that keep it at the forefront of any type of Japanese participation as one of the members of the six-party talks.

The abductee issue has, in essence, spawned a new interest or pressure group in Japanese domestic politics and I think it is useful, at least at some level, to look at other domestic pressure groups over foreign issues such as the Northern Isles controversy - the islands are held by Russia - that still clouds Japanese-Russian relations or the Takashimaya or Dokdo islands between South Korea and Japan.

Each of these which, at one level and probably the level that the State Department is most comfortable referring to, when it does as a diplomatic issue, is for Japan a domestic issue. And it is domestic politics that continually constrain the ability of the Japanese government to respond to overtures and respond to a more full participation with other powers. So that is part of the dynamic that does not go away and part of the dynamic that has been holding Japan back from full participation in the current rounds of talks.

As is well-known, former Prime Minister Abe, really in essence, activated, I guess you could call it, the abductee issue as a political issue. This is what he rode in many ways to the premiership; it was a very hard unyielding line on the abductees turning it into an issue of first importance and indeed, ultimately raising it to the level of a cabinet office to deal with abductee issues with a special envoy or ambassador who has made repeated trips to the United States.

So Abe, in essence, stuck to his campaign pledges to put this at the center of his North Korean policy which, as the six-party talks continued and developed boxed Japan in, because from the moment that the Tokyo considered that there was no forthright declaration on the abductees, no movement forward and refused to accept the assurances of the North Korean government that it was dealing forthrightly with the issue, there was in essence, no maneuvering room for them.

At the same time, though, I think it is important to remember that none of these can be seen purely in isolation. It was the Japanese, it was Tokyo, that pushed the hardest lines against the North Korea after the missile launches in July of ’06 and, in fact, moved the sanctions to the U.N. All of these issues became wrapped up together in the Japanese mind, and so it became increasingly difficult to extricate them as the Six-party talks moved forward.

Prime Minister Fukuda, the current prime minister, of course inherited the Japanese position from Prime Minister Abe and initial press reports, at least when he was coming into office, seemed to indicate that he might try to unravel this Gordian Knot and take a slightly softer approach, a more constructive approach which some in Japan and Washington feared and others hoped for, that he would take a softer approach. He talked about, in fact, even considered the possibility of normalization with North Korea as a way to then, as he put, at least at one point, smooth out the other bumps in the road.

The traditional negotiating stand of Tokyo, of course, was just the opposite. There would be no consideration of normalization until abductees was resolved. And as it turns out, Fukuda himself has backed away from his more reconciliatory remarks. He has, for a number of different reasons, in essence adopted the harder line of Abe without perhaps the rhetoric that Abe brought to it.

In fact, part of the reason - and certainly a motivating reason for this - was the increasing sense of frustration on the part of the Japanese with the progress of the talks and particularly, as Gordon has eloquently summed it up, the breakdown in the allied consensus and the reversion of the talks to a modified bilateral set of engagements between the U.S. and North Korea or China and North Korea. So at this point, I think that it begins to spill over into the diplomatic engagement in the foreign side of it which I will talk about next.

Clearly, the Japanese see the entire panoply of problems with North Korea as both the bilateral issue between them and North Korea, as well as a regional issue. This is one of the reasons that the Japanese initially were so supportive and, in effect, excited about participating in the six-party talks. You had early comments, for example, by foreign ministry spokesman that the six-party talks were a new permanent mechanism to address all security problems in the region. I mean, in essence, putting themselves way ahead of the curve from the other partners early on in this process to try and institutionalize this new joint approach, which, of course, would have insured Japan a seat at the table and a voice in all these negotiations.

Time has shown that it has not developed the way that Tokyo had anticipated. And the concern, I believe, that Tokyo has - I do not think it is a big secret - is that the longer this process drags on, the more it seems that there would be a sort of endless acceptance of delays and half-fulfilled measures that a wedge is being driven between Japan and the U.S., not only because of the abductee issue but because of the general question of what the U.S. is willing to accept, in essence moving its red lines continually back.

It is important to remember that through the process, the Japanese have privately and through a restrained yet present measure, publicly express their frustration and their anger at being locked out of the talks by Chris - not locked out - but in essence shut out of the progress by Chris Hill. And we have all heard reports of behind-the-door encounters and the like.

That sense of frustration is palpable; it grows continuously and visitors to Japan hear it repeatedly. The Japanese feel extremely resentful of, in essence, being presented with fait accomplis by Assistant Secretary Hill based on side trips either to the Pyongyang or Berlin or whatever it is which are brought back to the table, and then being forced to accept it. Not inherently that the agreement itself is bad, but the Japanese would certainly quibble with parts of the agreement, but at the process itself is not what they thought they had signed up for.

So the ultimate concern for the Japanese, and I would argue, at least one thing that the U.S. side really should be thinking about and taking into account, is the ultimate effect on the alliance between the U.S. and Japan. Early on in the process if it looked like this was a momentum, again as Gordon put it so well, a momentum developing that we were seeing concrete progress that we are actually getting towards the goal post, then the differences between Japan and the U.S. might have been acceptable in terms of getting that ultimate goal. If you are serious about the denuclearization, then you would of course, accept tactical compromises and the like if it would look like that was going to be possible.

Several years out, certainly ,there are serious reasons for doubt that we will achieve at least what we wanted to achieve, but the damage to the trust between Japan and the United States, the sense that there is a repairing of those communications that seemed frayed under the Clinton administration where the Japanese were concerned about what they like to term “Japan passing” as opposed to “Japan bashing” of the 1980s. Those have come back; again, the communications are not as firm as they should be. They are not as clear as they should be and that Japan is, in essence, being taken for granted in the process.

Finishing up, for the Japanese, this is an ultimate question of the reliability of the United States as an ally. Well, I would in no way want to be an alarmist and say that the Japanese are reconsidering the alliance, or that we are reconsidering the alliance. Nonetheless, over the long term, the slow drip, drip, drip against the sense of trust and the sense of being partners in a common united venture is something that should not be discounted; especially, I would argue, in the viewpoint of the younger members of the Japanese diplomatic and political establishments who for them this is among their first encounters with dealing with the U.S. in a multilateral or bilateral regional issue. And so what lessons they are learning from and I think, is something that behoove us to think about.

I do not need to mention now what both Larry and Gordon said, is that removal from the terror list for North Korea - I do not want to call it a death blow - but it would be a serious body blow to Japanese trust, at least, in the short term and willingness to work with the United States. I think it has to be a very carefully considered move.

But finally the wild cards that the Japanese face, and I think there are two: one positive in their point of view and one still unknown.

The first positive wild card is Lee Myun-bak’s election in South Korea. His early statements about wanting to improve relations with Japan, his early statements about wanting to hold North Korea to measurable progress in response to which he will be more supportive moving forward with different types of aid, the Japanese are responding very positively to this and hope that this will provide the opportunity not only for Japan and South Korea to come closer together on the issue, but potentially a new surge of trilateral push on South Korea, Japan and the United States as part, perhaps, as interim way to getting back that type of momentum that Gordon talked about that unified allied purpose.

The second wild card of course is the U.S. presidential election. The Japanese are very concerned - they are always concerned - about who the next U.S. president is going to be; this is no different. But their belief that in particular of the choices as they seemed to be today, they are concerned that the trends that would indicate the possibility of a Democratic party president, likely therefore, a president who would invest even more on this talks, might leave them either further out in the cold. So that is something that I think they are looking to with concern and something that is probably going to grow over the year; particularly, as we move through this process of trying to get North Korea back to respecting some of these deadlines.

So the end result is as we move forward with what is clearly an end goal that everyone desires, there are associated costs. At some point, I think we need begin calculating what those costs are for our larger strategic goals, our larger posture in the region and consider what it is doing to our relations with one of our closest allies.

So thank you.

Nicholas Eberstadt: Thank you very much. Ladies and gents, I think you will agree with me that we have just heard three terrific and stimulating and perhaps slightly provocative assessments of the current diplomatic landscape. As the traffic cop here, let me see if I can suggest a couple of ground rules for the rest of our session.

We have reached our formal allotted time, but with your indulgence, maybe we can continue for 10 or 15 minutes. We have got really well-informed, distinguished audience here, and I think that the conversation is going to be quite interesting. So if you will all agree, maybe we will go in to, so to speak, an overtime session, not to set any precedents for negotiations with DPRK. I would like to suggest as our ground rules, AEI is not terribly stringent, but we would require three things of you: Please wait for the microphone, please identify yourself, and please end your question with a question mark.

I’ll abuse my privilege here as moderator by asking Larry to think about an answer to an initial question I’m going to pose, then we will harvest, say, two or three questions, let our panel respond to them and go on to another tranche like that.

Larry, when you respond to the first tranche of questions, I would like to ask you to respond to this in particular. What specifically are the criteria that qualify a country as a member of the terrorist list? It is not just blowing up planes the year before the Olympics; it could be cooperating with other state sponsors of terror. Would kidnapping foreign nationals be included? Would nuclear proliferation activities with other terrorist states be included? What are the criteria by which terror list membership is considered by the administration?

Let me put that on the table and let me ask, maybe, for the first two or three questions. Yes, let’s start over on this side with Scott?

Scott Rembrandt: Scott Rembrandt from the Korea Economic Institute. Thank you for probably one of the more provocative North Korea panels in quite a long time. I have two brief questions. For Larry, at the end of your excellent CRS report, you gave a list of possible terrorist activities that North Korea has somehow been involved in. The State Department in the Country Reports had said there has been no terrorist activity since 1987. That suggests the U.S. government either considers these reports either non-credible or they are covering up for other reasons. Can you explain the discrepancy?

And the second question is a larger question of the panel, sort of a laundry list of the sins of the Bush administration in the last year or two. Given the present day of January 2008, North Korea is disabling Yongbyon, but is not declaring on HEU proliferation activities or its terrorism activities. What specifically should the Bush administration do now? Should it cut off the heavy fuel oil? Should it push that less food aid be delivered by the South Koreans? Should it ask the South Koreans to roll back its activities? What should it do? Thank you.

Nicholas Eberstadt: Let’s also ask Ambassador Toloraya a few -- let’s offer --

Georgy Toloraya: Georgy Toloraya. Well, I probably should not remind the distinguished experts who are here that North Koreans see their action for action principle, relevant not only to the six-party talks proper, but also to their relations with the outside world. So do you not think that raising the bar or moving the flagpoles, giving them additional demands could lead to their counteraction to something they could do that would make us pay even greater price or to get back where they were.

Nicholas Eberstadt: We take one more question from this side and then, the second tranche will go over to the next side. Yes, please.

Judd Heriot: Judd Heriot, documentary film producer. My question is really directed at Larry. You made the comment that there has been a collapse in the conventional military capability of the North, and therefore, we should not be too concerned about a couple of nukes. My question, could you amplify on that because I was really startled by that comment?

Nicholas Eberstadt: Can I ask our panelists to respond as they see fit, with Gordon, Larry, Misha, and then, we will go over for questions from the other side of the room.

L. Gordon Flake: Just very briefly in response to Ambassador Toloraya’s question, I fully anticipate that North Korea will try to raise the bar and to again further extort other actions from that. The key here, I think, would be real implementations of the six-party talks. It strikes me as very important that the one round of six-party talks that I think was most successful was the one that many people thought was a failure.

In December of 2006, after the nuclear test, after we had successfully got Chinese support for U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution, we spoke with one voice more than any time in history. And the North Koreans, at that time, despite insisting they would never do it, that they would not come back until the BDAA was resolved, came back before the BDAA was resolved. Now they did it because there was some side-deal with Chris Hill where he promised, but we do not know the details of what that resolution was.

We are in the same situation now where the February 13th agreement does not link removing North Korea with the Trading with the Enemy Act or the terrorism list to their declaration. They are not linked together. The North Korean reception of 950,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil is linked to that second phase, right? But because there was a separate side discussion with Chris Hill and Kim Kye Gwan in Geneva -- we do not know. We do not know what was promised or how the North Koreans interpret that.

So my answer to the broader questions of what you would do now would be to refocus and reconvene our attention on the other five parties or the other four parties - the five parties to come up with a joint strategy to how we will respond to this.

Larry Niksch: On the criteria for inclusion on the terrorism list, if you read the annual State Department reports on international terrorism, the criteria tends to be somewhat floating that the State Department cites when it talks about North Korea, Iran, Syria, Sudan, and previously, Libya, and the reasons why they were on this list or are on this list of state sponsors of terrorism. State acts of terror clearly are one of these criteria and North Korea was put on the list originally after the 1987 blowing up of the South Korean airliner in the months before the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

But also the State Department reports talk about state sponsors of terrorism and that has included various types of assistance that these governments on the list provide to international terrorist groups. Iran is cited for its links with Hezbollah, repeatedly, by the State Department. Syria is, as well; Syria is designated as a country that in Damascus, there are headquarters of numerous groups that are on the official U.S. list of terrorist organizations. So you have those criteria as well.

Among international terrorist acts, kidnapping has been frequently cited by the State Department as one reason, one criteria, for putting a country on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism or including an international terrorist group on the U.S. list of terrorist groups. When Abu Sayyaf kidnapped our missionaries in the Philippines four years ago, the Bush administration and the State Department stated very clearly that this was an act of international terrorism that Abu Sayyaf had carried out in the Philippines.

Recent frequent State Department annual terrorism reports had cited the North Korean kidnapping of Japanese citizens as a reason for North Korea being on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. And when I saw in May, when Prime Minister Abe was here, the Secretary Rice went into the Oval Office and said to him that the kidnapping issue was not a legal justification for keeping North Korea on the terrorism list. That to me, at the time, was a tip-off that something big was changing in terms of the Bush administration’s approach to this terrorism list issue, particularly, as it affected Japan.

Now, State Department’s 1987 statement is difficult for me to accept as accurate, to be honest with you. If North Korea provided - as I believe they did - major wherewithal, training, arms, cadre on site helping Hezbollah to develop underground fortifications in southern Lebanon that frankly drove the Israelis crazy during that war in 2006 - if you go back and read the accounts of the Hezbollah underground facilities - if this is not an act of state sponsorship with terrorism, if these things are not acts of state sponsor of terrorism, I really do not know what the definition is then of being a state sponsor of terrorism. So I find the State Department’s 1987 statement, frankly, to be puzzling, to say the least.

Now, on North Korean conventional forces - I will try to be brief here - but it is a matter of lack of fuel, lack of food, grossly over-aged weapons, with no real supply of new arms coming in to the North Korean military since the collapse of the Soviet Union. If you go back and look at the testimony of our military commanders to Congress, our commanders in past years used to talk a lot about the 300 or so North Korean An-2 aircraft. These are low-flying aircraft that our commanders said were a real threat that North Korea could use to infiltrate several thousand soldiers behind our lines that could engage in commando operations, sabotage, attacks on our facilities. And our commanders expressed real concern about the An-2 aircraft and their infiltration abilities.

Reports came out from South Korean defense sources very recently that North Korea has had to close down the whole An-2 capability. All of their aircraft had been grounded because they do not have enough aviation fuel to run that. And we know that with regard to their fighter aircraft, with regard to their armor, North Korea has been suffering for a number of years now from huge fuel shortages for their conventional military capabilities. They cannot stage large-scale military exercises anymore, because they do not have enough fuel for these exercises.

Three years ago, the North Koreans lowered the minimum height standards for their draftees, the 16-year-olds that they draft into their army, from 4 feet-11 inches to 4 feet-2 inches. They did this three years ago. There is only one explanation for this - malnutrition. The physical quality of their troops has degenerated; they do not have enough food supplies even for their frontline troops on the DMZ, according to a U.S. Command intelligence report that was leaked to the press about four years ago.

Weaponry, their tanks, aircraft, et cetera, date back to the 1950s and 1960s. With the demise of the Soviet Union, there has been no real supply. One wonders what kind of shape these weapon systems are now in.

Kim Jong-Il, from the reports and information that I have, is well aware of the situation. And what the situation means, in effect, is that North Korea really does not have an invasion capability anymore to launch a massive invasion across the DMZ in the South Korea. Yes, there is the artillery up there that could do great damage to Seoul and the environs of Seoul, but the artillery is static. That is not an invasion capability. It could support an invasion capability if the other assets to mount an invasion are there. But I think if you look at the situation, the conclusion draw is that they are no longer there. North Korea no longer has them. The military leadership knows this and Kim Jong-Il knows this, as well.

Nicholas Eberstadt: We have about five more minutes before the lights go out and the oxygen is sucked out of the room. So let me ask if we can get a few questions from this side, and then if we can ask our panelists to respond with their concluding thoughts in no more than a minute.

Yes, please.

Peter Huessy : Peter Huessy from the National Defense University Foundation. My question is simple. The vast majority of criticisms of the Bush administration since early 2001 on North Korea have it that we have not offered enough carrots to the North Koreans. The North Koreans see this; they read it; they see it in the CBS News on Arms Control Today. And yet none of you have commented on the fact that the North Koreans knowing this, have, for now seven years, played the game of asking for more carrots. And when a deal is not forthcoming, the criticism is that the Bush administration has not given not only enough carrots, they have not given more grocery store. And yet I think that -- unfortunately I do not see any comment here that if that continues from our allies and the media, it is going to be very difficult to persuade North Korea to make a deal.

Nicholas Eberstadt: Let’s get another question or two, then maybe one more after that.

Male Voice: Well, I appreciated your comments, Larry, on pointing out Congress’ views on the terrorism list; Gordon on the issue of proliferation in the Middle East and Michael on the Japanese alliance. You are all right on board with where my boss is coming from -- think the Republicans in the House, Ed. I do not think he is here from Mr. [indiscernible] office.

My question, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen has this legislation in the North Korea Counter-Terrorism and Non-Proliferation Act which has benchmarks in it on the removal from the States Sponsors of Terrorism including the Japanese abductee issue, but it also has the POW issue of South Korean POWs; this is close to her heart because her husband is a Vietnam veteran. Also, we have been in touch with the American Legion and the VFW and we know Korean War veterans in the United States are concerned about these 500-plus South Korean POWs have been held against their will for 50 years in North Korea.

The question Ambassador Lefkowitz could probably have answered better is now that Lee Myun-bak’s transition team in Seoul has raised this issue of return of the South Korean POWs. There has been talk in the transition team of a U.N. resolution. There has been talk of tying economic aid to getting the POWs back. My question is do you think the Bush administration will be more supportive of the South Korean government’s efforts? I mean when I was in Beijing, last week, the Chinese said this would be a complication. So will we be more supportive of South Korean POWs than we have been of Japanese abductees?

Nicholas Eberstadt: And one last question maybe from Professor Gordon here. If you will just wait for the mic for one second --

Bernard Gordon: This is Bernard Gordon, University of New Hampshire. To Larry, I think the most powerful part of your presentation was just in what you just said at the very end just now with regard to the apparent relative weakness of the North Korean military. But in your formal remarks, you called for an opening between the United States and the North Korean military. I would like you to, if you can, go further and amplify on what directions you think that course should take.

Nicholas Eberstadt: All right, panelists -- 60 seconds.

L. Gordon Flake: I’ll take 30. In the end, I think the whole carrot stick analogy is too simplistic here. But the reality is that we cannot solve the North Korean problem with force alone, with pressure alone. And we certainly cannot solve it with inducement alone. What you really have to have is a coordinated approach where the North Koreans are coerced on some level, so that they do not have a choice, where they have to have the choice made for them, and yet, there has to be a light at the end of the tunnel and some form of that.

The real problem here is this is not an issue that the United States can solve alone. We do not have carrots of our own accord; we do not have carrots to give them in any meaningful level. And the one stick we have got is war - something that we are not going to use for our own national interest. And so the only way we can successfully address this is by leveraging the incentives and the coercion that is inherent in the relationships that China, South Korea, Japan and Russia has.

So again, I’m really calling for the six-party talks to be implemented as they were envisioned.

Larry Niksch: I believe, and I have seen some reports about this for the last couple of years, the North Korean military has not been happy with the way the Foreign Ministry has run the six-party talks. And one of the reasons the military has been unhappy about this is that its agenda with the United States to address conventional force issues including various types of U.S. military activities in and around Korea have not been on the table at the six-party talks. And I think the military has been pressing Kim Jong-Il on this, and I think Kim Jong-Il has been siding with the Foreign Ministry.

Two things have happened now, I think, in the last six months. First of all, I think Kim Jong-Il may well have said to his military, “I’m going to continue to support the Foreign Ministry, but if you guys want to go ahead and make your own proposal to the Americans, go ahead.” And that I think is why the military made this proposal in early July for a bilateral U.S.-North Korean military negotiation with a United Nations official, present. Now the Bush administration did not outright reject this, but it pushed it aside in terms of its response.

Why has North Korea been not very forthcoming in terms of the declaration? Well, I think one reason is, and I think Gordon alluded to this; the Bush administration on some of these issues did give the North Koreans some loopholes that North Koreans felt that they could slip through on HEU and some other things -- proliferation, et cetera, et cetera. But I also think that the North Korean military may well have stepped in very hard on this one and have literally demanded that very little information be provided to the Americans in this declaration arguing that, “This nuclear program is ours. And in terms of what we tell the Americans and what we agree to with the Americans, we are going to have the final say on this.” And I think Kim Jong-Il may have come under greater pressure from his military in the last three or four months.

And that may well be the reason why North Korea has been, I think, less forthcoming than I think a lot of us expected. I thought the North Koreans would at least argue or admit that, “Well, we have a low-enriched uranium program.” You know that type of program that Selig Harrison claimed that they had three years ago in a couple of articles that he did. But they did not even do that. They basically stuck to their complete denial of ever having any kind of uranium enrichment program.

And I think their position on that, their position on the number of nuclear weapons and generally, their lack of forthcomingness, I really do think the North Korean military has weighed in and is a major factor in doing that. And as I mentioned, I have this long-term belief that the price we really would have to pay to get dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, if that is possible, is to sit down with the North Koreans and negotiate, not only on our nuclear agenda but on their military agenda with us. I believed that for a long time.

Nicholas Eberstadt: Misha, the final word.

Michael Auslin: Just one very, very brief comment. It seems that the six-party talks is going to afford us a lot of time to think over the coming year. Maybe this is a good point in time for both the U.S. and the other powers involved to step back a little to first principles, at least, as an analytical exercise now that we are four years into this, revisit the question of what we really think the North Koreans want.

What is it that they want? We are so wrapped up in the process; we are so wrapped up in making sure that the lines are crossed and dotted that we may have lost sight of understanding what the person, the group across the table, really desires. Is it security; is it regime survival; is it money; is it respect; is it simply to drag this process out forever because that is what the process of daily living is? Maybe this is a good time to do that that may bring some sense of unity back to the five parties at the table and may ultimately provide us with -- [audio abruptly cut]

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