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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

INTRO:  Since North and South Korea promised to end a 
half century of Cold War hostility during last month's 
historic summit in Pyongyang, the communist North has 
begun to emerge from decades of isolation.  On 
Thursday, the country made its boldest move yet toward 
international recognition by joining the Association 
of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional forum.   
V-O-A's Alisha Ryu looks at the some of the possible 
reasons behind the North's unprecedented diplomatic 
TEXT:  Marking its first appearance at a regional 
forum of Southeast Asian nations in Bangkok, North 
Korea wasted no time in affirming new cooperation with 
South Korea and agreeing to renew normalization talks 
with Japan.  It accepted diplomatic recognition from 
Canada and New Zealand.  And on Friday, North Korean 
Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun met U-S Secretary 
Madeleine Albright in the highest-level talks between 
the two countries in more than 50 years.
            /// ALBRIGHT ACT ///
      If anybody had told me that I would be shaking 
      hands with the foreign minister of the D-P-R-K 
      (North Korea) today, I would have been very 
      surprised and so I look forward to this 
      relationship moving forward on a considered and 
      careful step-by-step basis.
            /// END ACT ///
North Korea's whirlwind diplomacy follows the landmark 
mid-June summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong 
Il and South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.
North Korean expert Yasuhiko Yoshida at Sitama 
University in Japan says the success of that summit 
appears to have convinced Pyongyang that gaining 
international acceptance quickly was the only way to 
open high-level talks with Washington on lifting 
sanctions that has crippled its economy.
            /// YOSHIDA ACT ONE ///
      For the past 10 years, Pyongyang has been trying 
      to win concessions from Washington.  Russia and 
      China have closer relations with Seoul, and 
      Pyongyang found itself quite weak militarily and 
      strategically.  Pyongyang's target is to sign a 
      peace treaty with the United States and to win 
      total removal of all sanctions.
            /// END ACT ///
Mr. Yoshida says any international gains North Korea 
makes now must be seen in the context of the many 
setbacks in the past that have come to define the 
communist country's relations with the West and its 
In the early 1990s, for example, the North tried to 
engage South Korea and Japan in direct talks to reduce 
tensions stemming from the North's nuclear and missile 
program.  But even modest agreements signed with Seoul 
at the time were never implemented, and talks with 
Tokyo stalled on several issues, including the weapons 
development question.
Since 1994, several rounds of nuclear and arms control 
talks with the United States have also been largely 
fruitless, with each side accusing the other of 
reneging on promises made in the so-called "agreed 
framework" accord signed in Geneva, Switzerland, six 
years ago.
The United States says North Korea has not kept its 
promise to stop producing missiles and weapons of mass 
destruction.  North Korea says Washington has not 
lived up to its promise to lift all sanctions and 
extend diplomatic recognition.
Mr. Yoshida predicts North Korean overtures to win 
international support will have little impact if 
Pyongyang does not halt its weapons program once and 
for all.  And there is little chance that will happen, 
he says, without a peace treaty with Washington.
            /// YOSHIDA ACT TWO ///
      Until Washington comes to sign a peace treaty 
      and together with a total lifting of economic 
      and other sanctions against Pyongyang, they will 
      keep their missiles in their hands as a 
      bargaining chip.  Otherwise, they have no card 
      to play with Washington and they will lose 
      everything in future deals.
            /// END ACT ///
Mr. Yoshida says without Washington's full backing, it 
is unlikely North Korea will receive a warm welcome 
from the United States' most important ally in Asia, 
Tokyo has not rushed to mend ties with North Korea, in 
part because of demands by Pyongyang for an apology 
and huge reparations for Japan's colonial occupation 
of Korea.  But the two countries are scheduled to 
restart talks on normalizing relations in late August.   
28-Jul-2000 08:34 AM LOC (28-Jul-2000 1234 UTC)
Source: Voice of America

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