Korea: November 29, 1999

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The US is involved in difficult and tense negotiations with South Korea over the direction of its program to develop ballistic missiles with ranges up to 300km. South Korea is demanding the right to test-fire such missiles (thereby demonstrating that it has them), but the US wants to stop this because it would complicate efforts to convince North Korea to accept a negotiated limit on its missile production. North Korea has already denounced the South Korean missile program as a provocation, despite the fact that North Korea already has missiles with a much longer range.--Stephen V Cole

November 25; A panel of Republican congressmen has issued a report denouncing the Clinton Administration's policy toward North Korea as ineffective in stopping it from producing nuclear weapons, missiles, and other weapons of mass destruction. The Clinton Administration has responded that the report takes government intelligence reports and removes all of the caveats and issues of doubt, making the data appear more convincing and confirmed that it actually is.--Stephen V Cole

November 24; Increasing concern over North Korean chemical/biological warfare capabilities has caused the US to send additional chemical/biological warfare troops to Korea. Earlier this year, South Korea released an intelligence report estimating that North Korea had 2,500-5,000 tons of chemical weapons, rather than the earlier estimate of 1,000 tons.

November 22; South Korea (having emerged from its economic crisis) is looking for a national air defense system again. The US has renewed and extended its previous offer to provide 14 Patriot-3 batteries for $4.2 billion. Patriot is competing with the Eurosam Land system and the Russian S300V. The US has warned South Korea that the S300V would not be able to datalink and interoperate with US forces deployed on the peninsula. --Stephen V Cole

November 20; South Korean intelligence services report that North Korea has built a secret underground plutonium production facility on an island in the Taeryong-gang Reservoir. The island is about 1.2km long; it is located at 39 59', 48" North, and 125 34' 35" East. Satellite photos show a pier and a helipad, but no major surface facilities. There is a tunnel entrance at the end of a short road starting at the pier. There appears to be an extensive ventilation system. Satellite photos also show a plume of pollution pouring into the reservoir. All of the satellite data confirms that there is an underground facility, but cannot prove that it is a plutonium production facility. --Stephen V Cole

November 19; In 1979, the US convinced South Korea to back off from developing long range missiles, restricting their efforts to rockets with a max range of a hundred kilometers or so. But as the North Korean military threat kept growing, as has the South Korean desire to build missiles that can reach 500 kilometers (all of North Korea.) The US is apparently going to drop opposition to this.

 

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