Sydney Morning Herald – Radical human rights activists trying to bring down the North Korean Government were to present a senior military defector from the regime in Washington today, Sydney time, and give details of 20 more military officers who they say have recently defected.
The appearance in Washington of a military scientist allegedly responsible for part of North Korea’s missile program is designed to undermine Wednesday’s summit between President George Bush and the South Korean President, Roh Moo-hyun.
The activists, led by a powerful coalition of conservative Christian churches, political pressure groups close to the Republican Party and human rights advocates, want to pressure the United States into pursuing a more aggressive policy to change the North Korean regime.
The first summit between Mr Bush and Mr Roh on Wednesday was designed to ease tensions between the two leaders that have simmered since Mr Roh’s election last year. Mr Roh wants to continue a policy of engagement with the North, despite the crisis over Pyongyang’s nuclear program.
In a joint statement the leaders pledged to work with countries in the region to bring about the “verifiable and irreversible elimination” of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
However, the statement held open the promise of ending the crisis through diplomatic negotiations. Mr Bush said that if North Korea eliminated its nuclear program, the US would consider stepping up economic aid.
Mr Bush reiterated his support for North-South negotiations. Significantly, he also promised the US would fully consult Seoul before any reduction in US forces there.
But while the summit was under way, the conservative coalition pressing for regime change was intensively lobbying the Bush Administration to take a tougher stand on human rights in North Korea. The groups are bitterly opposed to Mr Roh’s policy of engagement with the North.
The influence of the coalition was apparent when officials from the office of the Vice-President, Dick Cheney, and the National Security Council met them to discuss the defections and their impact on the summit.
Led by Michael Horowitz from the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank, and the conservative Christian churches, the activists are urging the Administration to support a policy of “implosion” to encourage the collapse of Kim Jong-il’s regime.
One element of the implosion policy at this stage is encouraging defections from the military and political leadership and supporting huge refugee outflows into South Korea and China.
While the joint statement at the end of the presidential summit allayed South Korea’s concerns about talk of military action by the US, it did not present any strategy to end the stand-off between North Korea and the US on the nuclear crisis.
Shane Green writes from Tokyo: The international effort to strangle North Korea’s lucrative trade in illicit drugs, weapons and counterfeit currency is gathering momentum, with the Australian Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, yesterday discussing the plan with Japanese ministers.
Speaking during a break in the talks in Tokyo, Mr Downer said the interception off NSW of the alleged North Korean drug ship the Pong Su had been a “salutary experience” for Australia.
Mr Downer said that action to stop Pyongyang’s illicit trade required “very substantial international co-operation”. Asked if action against North Korea would involve intercepting shipping, Mr Downer said it was “too early to get into that sort of detail”.