Tags: Cooperation | Growing | Between | Russia | and | North | Korea

Cooperation Growing Between Russia and North Korea

Wednesday, 02 May 2001 12:00 AM

Col. Stanislav Lunev

A rather strange situation is developing on the Korean peninsula, where the interests of the Americans, Russians, and South and North Koreans are involved in a network filled with intrigues and contradictions. Since President George W.Bush took office and expressed concerns about the South?s dialogue with the North, Pyongyang?s official media have stepped up their anti-American propaganda rhetoric.

Mr. Bush?s open doubts about the reliability of North Korea in negotiations have drawn an angry response from the Pyongyang Communists. Anti-American rhetoric was dramatically increased last month as a result of regular and scheduled joint military exercises staged by South Korea and the U.S

Pyongyang said the annual exercises, involving South Korean forces, U.S. troops stationed in the South, and American military personnel brought in from overseas, was an affront to last June?s joint declaration by the two Koreas to work on ending their half-century of bitter confrontation.

There are 37,000 U.S. troops stationed in South Korea, which remains technically at war with North Korea under a 1953 armed truce still in effect. According to an agreement with Seoul, this very limited number of American troops is there to provide help and assistance to South Korea in its defense against the aggressive intentions of the Communist regime in Pyongyang.

Until now North Korea has deployed their 1,082,000-man active duty armed forces, 4,060 combat tanks, 2,500 Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs), 11,500 artillery pieces, 2,500 multiple rocket launchers, more than 10,000 surface to air missiles, 26 submarines, 310 patrol and coastal craft, 3 combat ships, and 621 combat aircraft.

South Korea?s armed forces include 683,000 active duty military personnel, 1,000 tanks, 1,740 APCs, 4,540 artillery pieces, 187 multiple rocket launchers, 1,020 surface to air missiles, 19 submarines, 84 patrol and coastal craft, 15 combat ships, and 555 combat aircraft.

Despite diplomatic moves toward reducing tension in the area including last June?s summit between the leaders of South and North Korea, the massive deployment of Pyongyang?s forces remains unchanged. Thus an unpredictable communist state still maintains a million-man army poised to attack South Korea and the limited number of American troops on its territory.

As Newsmax.com reported on March 6, despite being under U.S. protection during almost half a century, South Korea?s leaders are now supporting Russia?s position over the question of the proposed US National Missile Defense system( NMD), among other issues, and has been negotiating secret deals to buy advanced weapons from Moscow. At the same time top South Korean security officials have asked the U.S. to reopen dialogue with North Korean Communists. On April 26, South Korea?s Foreign Minister Han Seung-Soo and Defense Minister Kim Dong-Shin met with Evans Revere, charge d?affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, and General Thomas Schwartz, commander of American troops in Korea according to media reports.

?During the meeting, we relayed our hope that the United States will resume dialogue with North Korea as soon as possible after reviewing its policy on the North,? a Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Seoul.

South Korean president Kim Dae-Jung also said he believes that North Korea will resume dialogue soon not only with South Korea but also with the U.S.

?There is no alternative to dialogue, which is beneficial to each other,? the president said.

At the same time, a North Korean high-level military delegation arrived in Moscow. It was headed by Kim Il-Chol, vice-chairman of the North Korea?s National Defense Commission and the Minister of the People?s Armed Forces, and included Pak Kil-Yong, vice-minister of foreign affairs, among other officials. The North Koreans came to Moscow for talks with Russian defense counterparts during a three-day visit aimed at winning a new weapons assistance deal for Pyongyang according to Russian media reports.

On Apr 27, Kim signed a new military cooperation agreement with Russia?s Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, but it remains unclear whether a specific arms deal or supply agreement was signed. Currently more than half of the North Korean air force ? most of it supplied by the former Soviet Union ? is in urgent need of updates and repairs.

According to tradition, Moscow and Pyongyang keep secret any military cooperation between two countries, including Russian participation in creation of an air defense system for Pyongyang deploying Russia?s modern air and missile S-300 defense complexes and its recent modification, the S-400, around North Korea?s capital, among other weapons.

Russian deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov, who signed the deal for Moscow, told the Russian press that he did not expect the arms agreement to harm Kremlin relations with South Korea. However, the ?framework agreement on cooperation in the defense industry and military equipment? could become a part of Moscow?s broader strategy of regaining markets it once dominated but had to abandon after the 1991 collapse of former Soviet Union.

The Moscow visit of Pyongyang?s military leaders came only few days after it was revealed that an expected April visit to Moscow by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il had been delayed because of a dispute over Pyongyang?s request for an aid package that included Russian weapons.

This is not a first time for sudden changes in the date of a Moscow visit by the North Korean leader. The same situation occurred last year, when Kim Jong-Il rescheduled his already officially announced visit to Moscow in September. That time the changes arose because of the unpredictable behavior of Pyongyang?s dictator, who at the time of his first meeting with Russian President Putin last May, promised to drop his country?s missile program if the Western nations will assist North Korea to launch a few space satellites a year at their expense.

Kim?s also promised to strongly support Russian and Chinese opposition to the U.S. plans to build the NMD, which was originated as a defense against possible missile attack from North Korea, Iraq, Iran, and other such rogue nations.

In an attempt to make political capital out of Kim?s promise Putin promoted the North Korean leader?s pledge very actively in his meeting with Western leaders until Kim made an official statement that his promise was nothing more than a ?joke?.

It would be very difficult to call this statement as a joke as well as it would be to characterize the North Korean dictator as a predictable politician, and President Bush was absolutely right in questioning North Korea?s reliability in any negotiations. The dictator?s regime has to be treated accordingly, and it would be absolutely unrealistic to believe in a the so-called peaceful intentions of Pyongyang?s leaders, as well those of their dear friends such as so-called ?democratic Russia? and totalitarian communist China.

However, as Moscow has used new U.S. arms policies unpopular with some European governments to increase tensions within the Western alliance, it is now trying to use other existing problems to highlight dissatisfaction with the U.S. among Asian nations. Without appropriate reaction from the U.S this tendency will continue and in the near future America could find more foes and less friends among the nations of the Pacific Rim.

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Col. Stanislav Lunev A rather strange situation is developing on the Korean peninsula, where the interests of the Americans, Russians, and South and North Koreans are involved in a network filled with intrigues and contradictions. Since President George W.Bush took office...
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Wednesday, 02 May 2001 12:00 AM
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