DATE=7/14/2000 TYPE=INTERVIEW TITLE=KOREA MISSILES Q & A (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-264420 BYLINE=ALISHA RYU DATELINE=HONG KONG CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: U-S envoy Robert Einhorn has been holding talks with South Korean officials this week on a possible deal to allow Seoul to produce missiles with longer range capabilities. The talks come after Mr. Einhorn and North Korean officials deadlocked Wednesday over curbs on Pyongyang's missile exports. V-O-A's Alisha Ryu discussed the implications of this week's meetings with Robert Manning, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. TEXT: RYU: The United States plans to endorse South Korea's wish to produce missiles capable of reaching North Korea. What kind of an impact do you think this decision will have on the North/South relationship as well as the U-S/North Korean relationship? MANNING: Well, I think that South Koreans have some legitimate concerns. Here we have North Korea, who they're facing down, which is in the process of creating a third generation of ballistic missiles, intermediate, and potentially long-range. And yet, they're (the South Koreans) limited in what they're able to do by the outdated agreement that they can only have missiles up to 120 miles (193 kilometers), I believe it is. Since that was negotiated (in 1979) the U-S and its allies created the Missile Technology Control Regime and even by that standard, you're allowed to go up to 300 kilometers. So, we're holding them to a different standard than we've tried to make as a norm. So, that was somewhat irritating, particularly while they're threatened by a whole range of missiles from the North. Secondly, I think they see it as both at the time and a bargaining chip. That is to say, having these missiles in the hands of Koreans is different from what the U-S may do, and that will get North Korea's attention. Secondly, it creates a little more leverage for both the U-S and South Korea in terms of trying to get a handle on the North Korean missile program. And, we just saw the talks break down and North Koreans ... RYU: If you put this in the context of sort of the rapprochement (improved relations) that's been reached last month between the North and South, you don't think this will have an adverse effect on that? MANNING: Well, it doesn't seem to me that the North Koreans have much of an argument. Here's a country where a million people or more have starved to death, their economy has shrunk for the last decade, and here they are spending tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars on ballistic missiles. It doesn't seem to me they're in a position to tell South Korea. They have no argument against South Korea developing missiles, unless they're prepared to start negotiating away their own missiles. So, I think, if anything it may create more of a basis for arms control or some kind of arms reduction talks between the North and South. RYU: The timing of this has been sort of suspect, people say, because it comes on the heels of North Korea demanding up to a billion dollars to quit their nuclear weapons program. What is the motive? MANNING: Well, we've seen this before, right? Every time North Korea has done something in the last five or six years, done something obnoxious, and after they agree not to do it anymore, suddenly there was a huge shipment of American food aid, and of course it was never linked. Well, I guess you could consider it non-linkage linkage. But there is clearly a connection. I think the U-S negotiators do view this deal with South Korea as enhancing their leverage with the North. RYU: Can South Korea be militarily strong without jeopardizing the relationship it had established with North Korea? MANNING: Well, think of it his way, for most of the last decade we've been dealing with the symptoms of the problem rather than the cause. Well you know, missiles and nukes are the symptoms of the cause. The cause is the North/South division, North/South confrontation. [South Korean President] Kim Dae Jung, for the first time, has opened up the possibility of dealing with the root cause of the problem. So, if you look at it that way, then it seems to me, if this thing goes forward, if we build on this process, then it seems to me the equation has to be a reduction of a North Korean threat. If they want their economy reconstructed, then it seems to me that the price tag has to be reducing the military threat. RYU: North Korea has been insistent that it needs the missile production as an export item for which it can get badly needed hard currency rather than as weapons it intends to use. Do you believe that? MANNING: Well, first, let me make a couple of quick points. One is that the U-S position is not based on any kind of law. North Korea is not violating any agreement it's made with us or international commitment as opposed to, for example, the nuclear issue where they broke their international not for proliferation treaty commitments. So it's really about three chords to the administering of foreign affairs: logic, bribes and threats. And I think when you are talking about North Korean missile programs, the problem with the negotiation the U-S has been having is they are rather absurd from point of view of North Korea because we don't have anything serious on the table given the importance they attach to missiles. And I think that what is changed now is with Kim Dae Jung getting to the core issue of North-South reconciliation. He's putting some very large incentives on the table: communications networks, roads, railways, energy grids. These are the kinds of major things that are necessary if North Korea is going to survive as a state. RYU: So you are optimistic that some sort of agreement can be achieved in the near future? MANNING: No, I wouldn't say I'm optimistic. I think we are going to see slow but incremental progress because it appears to me that there has been some major decisions made in Pyongyang. But, we don't know what they are yet, and the only way one can find out in a system that is so -- that is the least transparent system in the world -- is by testing them. And I haven't seen anybody put any serious proposals on the table yet. NEB/HK/AR/GL-T/JO/JP 14-Jul-2000 08:31 AM EDT (14-Jul-2000 1231 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .
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