GLOBAL SECURITY: JAPAN AND KOREAL submission by Professor Hazel Smith, University of Warwick

 

Comment on The Foreign Affairs Committee investigation into

 

1. The foreign policy aspects of the United Kingdom's relationship with Japan, the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea).

2. Japan's and South Korea's contribution to international security and peacekeeping

3. North Korea's nuclear programme and international efforts to bring it to an end

4. Relations between North and South Korea

5. The three countries' relations with the EU and other international organisations (particularly in the light of Japan's current presidency of the G8)

6. The effectiveness of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's work in pursuing UK policy priorities - such as action against climate change and the upholding of human rights - with these countries, and in promoting diplomatic, economic and cultural links between these countries and the UK (including through the work of UK Trade and Investment, the British Council and the BBC World Service).

 

Professor Hazel Smith

 

Hazel Smith is Professor of International Relations at the University of Warwick, UK and Director of Graduate Studies in the Politics and International Studies department. She received her PhD from the London School of Economics in International Relations in 1993 and was a Fulbright visiting scholar at Stanford University in 1994/1995. While on secondment from the University of Warwick, Dr. Smith was a visiting Jennings Randolph Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, Washington D.C. (2001- 2002) and between 2003 and 2004, worked at the UN University in Tokyo. Professor Smith has worked on the DPRK for nearly two decades, where she has been a regular visitor since 1990 .Dr. Smith worked for nearly two years in North Korea between 1998 and 2001, for the UN World Food Programme, UNICEF and UNDP. She regularly briefs officials in the US Department of State on the DPRK (most recently in February 2008) and has been called on to advise a number of governments, international organisations NGOs, business and the international media on North Korea. Professor Smith was invited to provide evidence to the UK House of Commons Select committee on East Asia in Spring 2006 on the subject of Korean security. Professor Smith's recent work includes the research and completion of a report on DPRK shipping for the Japanese foreign ministry and a context analysis for development programming in the DPRK for the Swiss Development and Cooperation Agency (SDC). Between 1999 and 2002 she directed a FCO funded project that supported academic exchange between DPRK economists in the Ministry of foreign Trade and the University of Warwick. Professor Smith has published extensively worldwide on North Korea and other topics in international relations. Her most recent books are European Union Foreign Policy: What it is and what it Does (London: Pluto, 2002); Hungry for Peace: International Security, Humanitarian assistance and Social Change in North Korea (Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace, 2005); Humanitarian Diplomacy edited with Larry Minear (Tokyo: United Nation University press, 2007); Diasporas in Conflict edited with Paul Stares (Tokyo: United Nation University press, 2007); Reconstituting Korean Security (Tokyo: United Nation University press, 2007). Professor Smith has been interviewed frequently by the international media, including the BBC, KBS, and, among others, CNN, CBS 60 Minutes, ABC's Nightline, Fareed Zakaria's PBS series 'Foreign Exchange', KBS, Japan Times, Straits Times, South China Morning Post. Professor Smith is the owner of a North Korean driving license (after taking her driving test in Pyongyang in 2001).

 

Evidence presented is drawn from Professor Smith's publications which include

Hungry for Peace: International Security, Humanitarian Assistance and Social change, Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace press, 2005

Reconstituting Korean Security (ed) (Tokyo: United Nations University press, 2007)

Regional Dialogue and Institution-Building: The Necessary Foundation for Human Rights Reform in the DPRK in Kie-Duck Park and Sang-Jin Han, (eds) Human Rights in North Korea: Toward a Comprehensive Understanding (Sungnam: The Sejong Institute, 2007), pp. 20

Nation-building as Peace-building in Korea, in Deok-Hong Yoon and Sang-Jin Han (eds), The 2005 Global Forum on Civilization and Peace (Seoul: Academy of Korean Studies, 2007), pp. 80-91.

Reconstituting Korean Security dilemmas, in Hazel Smith (ed) Reconstituting Korean Security, (Tokyo: United Nations press, 2007), pp. 1-20.

Food Security: the case for multisectoral and multilateral cooperation, in Hazel Smith (ed) Reconstituting Korean Security, (Tokyo: United Nations press, 2007), pp. 82-102.

Korean Security: a policy primer, in Hazel Smith (ed) Reconstituting Korean Security, (Tokyo: United Nations press, 2007), pp. 253-268.

Analysing change in the DPR Korea, Working paper, SDC Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation - East Asia Division, pp. 53, November 2006

Caritas and the DPRK - Building on 10 years of experience , (Hong Kong and Rome: CARITAS-Hong Kong, 2006), pp. 72

UNIDIR, North East Asia's regional Security Secrets: re-envisaging the Korean crisis, In Disarmament Forum, No. 2, (Geneva: United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). 2005), pp. 45-54.

Crime and economic instability: the real security threat from North Korea and what to do about it, in International Relations of the Asia Pacific, Vol. 5 No. 2 2005, pp. 235-249.

How South Korean means support North Korean ends: Crossed purposes in Inter-Korean cooperation, International Journal of Korean Unification Studies, Vol. 14 No. 2, 2005, pp. 21-51.

The disintegration and reconstitution of the state in the DPRK in Simon Chesterman, Michael Ignatieff and Ramesh Thakur (eds), Making States Work (Tokyo: United Nations Press, 2005), pp. 167-192

North Koreans in China: Defining the problems and offering some solutions in Tsuneo Akaha and Anna Vassilieva (eds), Crossing National Borders: Human migration Issues in Northeast Asia (Tokyo: United Nations Press, 2005), pp. 165-190.


 

1. Evidence from Professor Hazel Smith

 

1.1 Given my expertise is on the DPRK, North-South Korea relations and the international aspects of East Asian security, I will focus my evidence on items 3-6 of the issues under investigation.

 

Summary of recommendations

 

1. I recommend that the UK government consider ways to play a supportive role in facilitating trust and confidence building between the major protagonists in the 6 party talks.

2. The UK government should fund DPRK students to attend degree courses in the UK.

3. The UK government should work with its European partners in the EU to establish a contingency framework of support to regional partners in the event of a major public order and or humanitarian crisis in the Korean peninsula.

4. Given the central security problem for north East Asia is instability in North Korea the UK government should set out a comprehensive strategy to respond to this continuing security dilemma. Developing such a strategy does not mean taking on a lead role in every area of concern but it would help identify the comparative advantage of the UK government in the various networks of partnerships in which it operates.

5. Funding should be increased to DFID, the British Council, BBC World Service and the FCO to enable these agencies to play a more active and a more sustained part in helping to bring about stability in the region and a more secure future for North Korea's population

 

 

2. North Korea's nuclear programme and international efforts to bring it to an end

 

2.1 North Korea has two core domestic and foreign policy aims: the first is regime maintenance and the second is economic development. The government's objectives in establishing a nuclear programme should be considered in the context of core government aims. The nuclear programme has two parts: nuclear energy for peaceful purposes and nuclear weapons development.

2.2 The nuclear energy programme is an effort to develop alternative energy sources to the coal and hydro power sources currently available. The country has no discovered oil reserves and is reliant on coal and oil subsidies from China and elsewhere to maintain minimal economic functions (transport, electricity supply, heating, pumped water supplies and sewage systems, etc). This is a regime maintenance issue for the government in that there is continuing dissatisfaction (and distress) in the population as a whole because of insufficient and inadequate energy supplies, including in the capital city of Pyongyang, for now over a decade.

2.3 The DPRK's nuclear weapons development programme was designed to offer a deterrent capacity against the perceived threat of United States attack. The programme was given impetus in the early 1990s when the Soviet Union, then Russia, made it clear to the DPRK leadership that there could be no automatic military support for the DPRK in the event of hostilities breaking out on the Korean peninsula. The first nuclear crisis of 1993/1994 reflected international concerns that the DPRK was attempting to develop its own nuclear weapons. The 1994 international agreement that established the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisation (KEDO) put North Korean nuclear weapons development on a precarious hold until 2002. In 2002, the North Koreans were charged by the US administration with engaging in clandestine weapons development through a process involving 'highly enriched uranium' (HEU). This was the start of the so-called 'second nuclear crisis. The 6 party talks that began in 2003 and involved the US, the DPRK, South Korea, Japan Russia and China resulted in a stalemate up until 2005. It was not until after the DPRK implemented a nuclear weapons test in October 2006 however that the talks received significant new impetus under the aegis of a revived United States diplomacy, sanctioned by Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and President George Bush and implemented by experienced US diplomat Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill.

2.4 According to the US State Department ' On February 13, 2007, the parties reached an agreement on "Initial Actions for the Implementation of the Joint Statement" in which North Korea agreed to shut down and seal its Yongbyon nuclear facility, including the reprocessing facility and to invite back IAEA personnel to conduct all necessary monitoring and verification of these actions as agreed between the IAEA and the D.P.R.K.' The Yongbyon facilities were to be dismantled by 31 December 2007.

2.5 By February 2008 the Yongbyon facilities were being dismantled under the terms of the agreement but the outstanding issue for the United States was that the DPRK had not provided a 'complete and correct declaration of all its nuclear programs' as required. The DPRK for its part complained that the parts of the agreement that guaranteed shipments of fuel oil to the DPRK were not being implemented expeditiously. The agreement also specified that by 31 December 2007 the United States and North Korea would begin to negotiate a process of removal of North Korea from the terrorism list. The DPRK argues there was little sign of the United States making progress towards fulfilling that commitment and therefore it was being asked to declare all its nuclear facilities while the US did not comply with its side of the bargain.

2.6 Negotiations remain ongoing between the United States and the DPRK with the former consulting with the remaining 4 parties but coninuing with a de facto leadership of the process.

 

The role of the UK government

 

2.7 The UK is not a member of the 6 party talks. It has thus far been content to play a backseat role, offering support to the general principles of nuclear disarmament on the Korean peninsula. The UK does however have some comparative advantage in terms of being both close to the US as a valued ally and at the same time having diplomatic relations with the DPRK. It has therefore some potential to play a part in confidence building between the two key protagonists, the US and the UK. For this to happen however the UK would probably have to consider a strategic recalibration of its approach to the DPRK such that it adopted a similar approach to the US in terms of the various different issues in the negotiating agenda with the DPRK. During the period of the 6 party talks (2003-ongoing) the United States has had a number of priorities in its policies towards the DPRK; denuclearisation, human rights and humanitarian issues being just three. It has however adopted a de facto policy of de-linkage however such that progress in any one issue has not been made contingent on another. It has also made difficult decisions to prioritise some issues for negotiation over others with denuclearisation being given top priority since 2006.

2.7 The 6 party talks has set up five working groups to which middle level officials in the respective governments are appointed and the UK could provide a useful neutral venue for some lateral thinking to take place on the subjects covered by these working groups. These are (i) denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, (ii) normalization of D.P.R.K.-U.S. relations, (iii) normalization of D.P.R.K.-Japan relations, (iv) economic and energy cooperation, and (v) a Northeast Asia peace and security mechanism.

2.8 The UK government should encourage and promote the provision of track two type fora whereby DPRK and US officials and 'persons of influence' (also if useful from the other participants in the 6 party talks) in policy making circles could be offered a confidential 'space' to discuss relevant topics. These could be hosted by the FCO or interested academic institutions (like the University of Warwick). There is some room for the traditional 'Wilton Park' conferences to be utilised for these purposes but these should be complemented by more focused colloquia.

2.10 Up until a couple of years ago the UK government paid an annual contribution to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in the Asia Pacific (of which the US and the DPRK, among others, are members) (CSCAP), of around 2000. CSCAP provides a track two fora in which government officials, ex officials and academics from Asia, the Americas and Australasia meet regularly in working groups to discuss WMD, transnational crime, maritime security in the region and Asia-Pacific security. Because of the rather frequent movement in Asia and in the Americas between government and academia policy discussions in these fora have fairly straightforward feedback channels into government policy thinking in Asia and the US. As the European co-Chair of CSCAP I am sorry to see that, although other European governments, such as the French and German government, are able to take advantage of these channels, unfortunately the UK cut the funding in 2007 so that the UK no longer has a voice in CSCAP and therefore has lost access to the most established and most respected multilateral track two mechanism available in Asia-Pacific security. Should CSCAP funding be renewed, the UK could use this forum to provide frameworks for trust-building discussion involving US and DPRK officials, along with any other participants as appropriate. Supporting confidence-building between the two major protagonists is in my view is the single most important thing that the UK government could do in the short term to facilitate denuclearisation in the Korean peninsula.

 

Recommendation one

 

1. I recommend that the UK government consider ways to play a supportive role in facilitating trust and confidence building between the major protagonists in the 6 party talks.

 

 

3. Relations between North and South Korea

 

 

3.1 North-South Korean relations are best understood in terms of the changing configuration of East Asian economic and political relations since the rise of China as an economic power over the last decade or so. Both South Korea and Japan have become closer to China as their economies have received boosts from China's new spending power. All three states prioritise stability in the region as a fundamental part of their plans for continuing economic growth and all three therefore have a common interest in ensuring an end to the debilitating and long drawn out crises that have occurred in respect to North Korea's nuclear, humanitarian and human rights records since the early 1990s. South Korea has support from neighbouring powers in its efforts to engage with North Korea as China, Japan and Russia all consider South Korea's role as dialogue partner with North Korea preferable to that of non-communication and hostility that characterised the highly militarised Cold war based North-South relations prior to 1999.

3.3 China is North Korea's major ally in the region, but this does not mean that China has not been uncritical of the DPRK. It did not veto the United Nations resolution of late 2006 that imposed sanctions on the DPRK after its nuclear weapons test. It would not be an exaggeration to state that Communist China and capitalist South Korea have probably more in common today than China and North Korea because of their joint commitment to sustaining stability in the region to promote economic growth and their concern that North Korean government is a major cause of instability in the region. In the early 2000s both countries had chided the US for not taking a more pro-active diplomatic role in resolving the Korean security crises but since the advent of Ambassador Chris Hill's diplomatic efforts to secure an agreement, both have tried to facilitate US diplomatic overtures.

3.3 South Korea and China also share a more intangible but nevertheless important commonality in that both countries harbour still important popular antagonism towards Japan for a perceived recalcitrant attitude to the consequences of the colonial past.

3.4 New South Korean president Lee Myung-bak has therefore come to power in the context of a generally supportive regional and international environment oriented towards continued dialogue with the North Korea. Regional partners also share a perspective that can be understood as at best irritation at worst and outright hostility to Pyongyang for its perceived failures to denuclearise and reform internally.

3.5 President Lee has pledged to carry on with North-South cooperation, albeit on different terms than the previous government. President Lee largely ran his campaign on the basis of his successful career in business (working for Hyundai) and his achievements as Mayor of Seoul. He has promised to pursue more 'reciprocity' in relations with the DPRK and, as well, to promote economic development in the North.

3.6 In the few weeks of his new administration President Lee has made a start to his 'efficiency' reforms in foreign policy by abolishing the National Security Council and replacing it with a Cabinet-level Foreign Affairs and Security Council led by the Foreign Minister. The Unification Ministry has thus been deposed as the lead ministry responsible for North-South relations - signalling the new president's intention to treat North Korean relations as international issues to be resolved in close collaboration with allies including the United States.

3.7 The DPRK on the other hand will likely take its time in its response to the new South Korean presidency. The DPRK government has been pragmatic in its relations with South Korea and will likely continue to be so. Its priority will remain to improve or 'normalise' relations with the United States and it is not likely that it will change its attitude to give relations with the South a political priority over and above relations with the US.

3.8 In the meantime the South's policy of engagement with the North should be supported by the UK government in practical ways. In 2002 the government stopped funding development projects to the DPRK including support for universities (including the University of Warwick) to engage in academic training and exchange. The government should reconsider this policy as all concerned parties in the efforts to encourage North Korea to normalise its relations with the rest of the world have considered education and training to be a fundamental prerequisite to equip the next generation of North Korean leaders with the foundation for interaction with the rest of the world. The North Korean government has also agreed to permit students to attend UK universities if funding can be found for them

 

Recommendation two

 

2. The UK government should fund DPRK students to attend degree courses in the UK.

 

3.9 The above account of North-South relations is based on an 'all things being equal' scenario. There are signs however of instability in North Korea whose outcomes are not at all clear. The majority of the population continues to live in abject poverty. Chronic food shortages underlie continuing malnutrition in all parts of the country. Unemployment and underemployment is prevalent. The economic and social infrastructure remains degraded with basic services of running water, sewage systems, electricity and heating availability unpredictable and inadequate even for those living in the capital city. There is little evidence that the population has confidence in the government's ability to rescue them from the economic mess in which the country has been enmired for nearly 20 years.

3.10 There has been some discussion in the United States and South Korea of contingency planning should for instance public order collapse from any one of a number of potential triggers; perhaps a coup from within the military; succession complications; sections of the army and the security forces refusing to continue to serve.

 

Recommendation three

 

3. The UK government should work with its European partners in the EU to establish a contingency framework of support to regional partners in the event of a major public order and or humanitarian crisis in the Korean peninsula.

 

 

4. The three countries' relations with the EU and other international organisations (particularly in the light of Japan's current presidency of the G8)

 

4.1 Both the DPRK and the ROK have good relations with the EU. The Seoul based European Commission representatives visit Pyongyang regularly and the Commission continues to provide a limited amount of humanitarian and economic aid to the DPRK. British based NGO Save the Children works in Pyongyang under the aegis of the European Commission under a deal worked out with the Pyongyang authorities in which resident European NGOs were retitled as agents of the Commission.

4.2 If the working groups spawned by the 6 party talks become institutionalised as a means to help keep the peace on the Korean peninsula it seems likely that the EU will play some form of support role in whatever multilateral economic mechanisms emerge.

4.3 Other IOs with a potential interest in the Korean peninsula include the IMF and the World Bank. Given the scale of development funding that will be necessary in a post conflict North Korea both institutions, though not formally involved in any of the current talks, are maintaining a watching brief on North Korea developments. The major UN humanitarian organisations of UN World Food Programme and UNICEF maintain a presence in the DPRK as does the ICRC and the IFRC.

 

 

5. The effectiveness of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's work in pursuing UK policy priorities - such as action against climate change and the upholding of human rights - with these countries, and in promoting diplomatic, economic and cultural links between these countries and the UK (including through the work of UK Trade and Investment, the British Council and the BBC World Service).

 

 

5.1 The central security problem in the region is to gain resolution to the continued Korean nuclear cruises and to create a peace and security mechanism in the Korean peninsula. In terms of human security a humanitarian crisis continues in the DPRK with most of the population at risk of malnutrition and premature death from insufficient and inadequate food, poor health and medical provision, degraded waters supplies and the sheer difficulties of keeping warm in extreme winter temperatures without adequate heating, shelter and clothing. The government's national security priorities and preoccupations are used as to provide a rationale for curtailing freedoms and it seems unlikely that these polices will change quickly.

5.2 In this context there needs to be a clear strategy for engaging with the DPRK at different levels and in different sectors. The UK government should continue to work in partnership with allies but it should also use its diplomatic relations with the DPRK to pursue openings for dialogue at every level possible. Budgets for work in the DPRK should be increased and clear goals set for what is hoped to be achieved over a period of three to five years in the security; economic and humanitarian; human rights; and cultural and education areas. The government should work with those in the UK that have experience of working over the long terms with the DPRK and should set itself realistic targets.

5.3 It is unrealistic for instance to set a goal that would envisage either significant UK direct involvement in the resolution of security dilemmas in Korea nor is it realistic to envisage significant British investment in the DPRK because of the lack of profitable investment opportunities in a short or long term perspective. Humanitarian programmes however could be enhanced and DFID could play a more substantial role in supporting IOs and NGOs operating in the DPRK but this would depend on increased funding for that role.

5.4 The DPRK understands 'Human rights' talk as a synonym for 'regime change' talk and so a serious effort to support the North Korean population on human rights issues requires thinking about how to engage the DPRK government in a human rights dialogue that is not conceived of by them as a way of promoting regime change. The EU had some success in the past in engaging in human rights dialogues with the DPRK government. The UK is again well placed because of its diplomatic relations with the DPRK to enter into human rights discussions with the DPRK government. Such discussion should be accompanied by offers of technical support to investigate how change could take place (e.g. on instituting the rule of law, an independent judiciary, etc).

5.5 The UK government should also play a more enhanced role in confidence building (see recommendation one above) in the context of the continuing Korean security crises. In terms of playing a part in long term building for stability the UK could also play a larger role in cultural diplomacy and educational and training development. Both the BBC World Service and the British Council need to be funded appropriately as a systematic programme of cooperation is not possible without the funding to carry out such a programme.

 

Recommendation four

 

4. Given the central security problem for north East Asia is instability in North Korea the UK government should set out a comprehensive strategy to respond to this continuing security dilemma. Developing such a strategy does not mean taking on a lead role in every area of concern but it would help identify the comparative advantage of the UK government in the various networks of partnerships in which it operates.

 

Recommendation five

 

5. Funding should be increased to DFID, the British Council, BBC World Service and the FCO to enable these agencies to play a more active and a more sustained part in helping to bring about stability in the region and a more secure future for North Korea's population

 

7 March 2008