"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004

Taiwan, China, and U.S. in Arms Referendum Imbroglio

Wade Boese

After provoking a stern rebuke from the United States, Taiwan in mid-January modified a proposed March 20 referendum regarding China’s deployment of ballistic missiles aimed at the island. The move appeared to mollify Washington, but Beijing remains upset.

The initial referendum text asked voters to weigh in on whether China should end its deployment of some 500 ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan and revoke its threats to use force against the island. The amended referendum now simply questions whether Taiwan should buy more missile defense systems if China does not withdraw its missile deployments and whether Taipei should negotiate a “peace and stability” framework with Beijing.

The referendum—the island’s first—was proposed last fall by Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian, a longtime advocate for Taiwanese independence who is currently seeking re-election. (See ACT, January/February 2004.) Both Beijing and Washington objected to the proposal. China perceived the referendum as a sly attempt to put Taiwan on a path to declare independence, which China resolutely opposes because it wants the island returned to the mainland’s control. The United States worried such a vote might plunge China and Taiwan into armed conflict.

Standing next to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao after a Dec. 9, 2003, White House meeting, President George W. Bush warned, “The comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally to change the status quo, which we oppose.”

China was not appeased by the change in the referendum’s language. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan fumed Jan. 18, “This is a unilateral provocation against the peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits and its essence is to make way for Taiwan’s independence in the name of referendum in the future.”

Washington has reserved official comment on the new wording, but it also has been pushing Taiwan to buy missile defense systems for the past few years
. Taiwan has pleaded it does not have the funding.

Although the United States stands ready to supply Taiwan with arms, it takes issue with growing European interest in resuming weapons deals with China. France and Germany are spearheading an effort to get the European Union (EU) to end its arms embargo against Beijing that has been in place since the Chinese government violently crushed public protests at Tiananmen Square in June 1989. Javier Solana, the EU’s top foreign policy and security official, has recently suggested that the embargo is likely to be repealed, although when remains unclear.

Department of State spokesperson Richard Boucher Jan. 28 recommended against such an action. “We believe that the U.S. and European prohibitions on arms sales [to China] are complementary, were imposed for the same reasons—specifically, serious human rights abuses—and that those reasons remain valid today,” he said.

Not surprisingly, China views the matter differently. On Feb. 12, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue deemed the EU arms embargo a “relic of the Cold War.” She added, “It is our hope that…this anachronism would be comprehensively resolved as soon as possible.”






After provoking a stern rebuke from the United States, Taiwan in mid-January modified a proposed March 20 referendum regarding China’s deployment of ballistic missiles aimed at the island. 

China Seeks to Join Nuclear, Missile Control Groups

Paul Kerr and Wade Boese

Building on recent efforts to demonstrate its nonproliferation credentials, China is seeking to join two voluntary multilateral export control regimes that seek to limit the spread of nuclear and missile-related technologies. China formally applied to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) Jan. 26, and began talks exploring possible membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) Feb. 10.

The 40-member NSG is comprised of nuclear supplier states that have agreed to coordinate their export controls governing transfers of civilian nuclear material and technology to prevent nuclear exports intended for commercial and peaceful purposes from being used to make nuclear weapons. The 33-member MTCR is an export control regime that aims to limit the spread of ballistic and cruise missiles.

During his term as the rotating chairman of MTCR from September 2002 to September 2003, Polish Ambassador Mariusz Handzlik invited Beijing to participate in the regime. According to a Feb. 12 statement made by Chinese Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs Hu Xiaodi at the UN Conference on Disarmament, China sent a letter to the MTCR chairman last September indicating it was “ready to positively consider applying for joining the MTCR.”

In Washington Feb. 4, Handzlik said that three rounds of talks are scheduled this year between China and MTCR to clear up “old differences” and to evaluate Chinese export controls to see if they conform with MTCR standards. All current regime members would need to approve of China’s accession to the regime.

U.S. and foreign government officials say future Chinese membership is not preordained. An official from the Department of State said Feb. 6 that Beijing “has ongoing problems of enforcement and implementation of missile export controls,” and a European diplomat remarked the same day that “there are still questions.” However, Handzlik stated there is “good will on both sides” and that the “process has begun.”

Under U.S. urging, China has gradually moved over the past several years to bring its national export controls into line with those of MTCR members. In November 2000, Beijing declared that it would not assist other states in acquiring missiles capable of delivering a nuclear warhead. That pledge was defined as applying to missiles capable of delivering a 500-kilogram payload 300 kilometers or more—the same formulation that appears in MTCR guidelines. Then, in August 2002, China published a list of missile-related and dual-use goods that required government approval before being exported.

A Chinese “White Paper” issued last December devoted most of its space to a detailed description of China’s export controls, emphasizing their consistency with international norms. (See ACT, January/February 2004.) The paper pointed out that China maintains “control lists” of nuclear proliferation-sensitive exports that are similar to equivalent NSG lists. It also noted that China issued new export regulations for chemical and biological materials and equipment in October 2002.

China further signaled its willingness to cooperate with the United States by signing a Statement of Intent Jan.12 that “establishes a process for cooperation” between the U.S. Department of Energy and the China Atomic Energy Authority “on a range of nuclear nonproliferation and security activities,” according to an Energy Department press release. These activities include “efforts to strengthen export controls [and] international nuclear safeguards,” the department said.

State Department spokesperson Richard Boucher said Feb. 17 that “we have seen progress by China” on proliferation issues and that China is “very interested in the Proliferation Security Initiative” (PSI). The PSI is a U.S.-led multilateral effort to interdict shipments of weapons of mass destruction and related materials. Beijing, however, offers a much less sanguine view of PSI in its statements.

State Department officials told Arms Control Today that Washington views China’s application to the NSG as a positive step but that the United States remains concerned about Chinese proliferation activity.

A November CIA report acknowledged improvement in China’s nonproliferation policies but noted possible Chinese cooperation with other states on their nuclear, chemical, and missile programs. Additionally, Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance Paula DeSutter told Congress in July 2003 that China is failing to enforce its export control laws properly and implied that China sometimes deliberately allows sensitive technology transfers to occur. The Bush administration has imposed sanctions on Chinese firms multiple times for illicit technology transfers. (See ACT, September 2003.)

When asked about press reports that Libya had acquired from Pakistan nuclear weapons designs of Chinese origin, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson expressed concern and said Beijing would investigate the matter, Reuters reported Feb. 17.






Building on recent efforts to demonstrate its nonproliferation credentials, China is seeking to join two voluntary multilateral export control regimes that seek to limit...

Taiwan Proposes Controversial Vote on Chinese Missiles

Wade Boese

In the midst of a heated re-election campaign, Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian has proposed a referendum demanding China end its deployment of ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan. Washington and Beijing as well as rival Taiwanese politicians all oppose the first-time vote.

The proposed referendum is scheduled for March 20, which coincides with Taiwan’s presidential election. According to Chen, the referendum would call upon China to end its deployment of nearly 500 ballistic missiles along its coast across from Taiwan and renounce the possible use of force against Taiwan.

China claims Taiwan is a renegade province that should be reunified with the mainland. Beijing routinely says it prefers peaceful reunification, but it always publicly reserves the right to resort to force, particularly if Taiwan declares independence.

After a Dec. 9 White House meeting with President George W. Bush, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Beijing saw the proposed referendum as designed to “split Taiwan away from China.” He added that “[s]uch separatist activities are what the Chinese side can absolutely not accept and tolerate.” Wen did soften his tone somewhat by noting that, “so long as there is a glimmer of hope, we would not give up our efforts for peaceful reunification.”

Bush also took exception to Chen’s proposal. He warned that the United States opposes moves by either Beijing or Taipei to upset the delicate relationship between the two. Bush bluntly stated in April 2001 that the United States would do “whatever it took” to help Taiwan defend itself against a Chinese attack. But standing next to Wen, Bush stated, “[T]he comments and actions by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally to change the status quo, which we oppose.”

Chen disavowed in an extensive Dec. 6 interview with The New York Times that the proposed referendum had anything to do with independence and compared Taiwan’s current situation to the 1962 U.S.-Soviet showdown over Moscow’s attempt to deploy ballistic missiles in Cuba. He also said Taiwan’s democracy should not be sacrificed by the United States for better relations with China.

Washington has spoken out against China’s missile deployments and aggressively pushed Taiwan to purchase missile defense systems to counter the Chinese buildup. (See ACT, June 2003.) Taiwan claims missile defenses are too expensive. For its part, China has strongly opposed the U.S. sale of missile defenses and all other arms to the island.






In the midst of a heated re-election campaign, Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian has proposed a referendum demanding China end its deployment of ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan...

China Stresses Common Approach With Bush Administration's Nonproliferation Policy

Paul Kerr

The Chinese government recently issued a “White Paper” describing its nonproliferation policies that represents a rhetorical progression from earlier Chinese statements. The paper stresses Chinese policies consistent with the U.S. nonproliferation approach and downplays differences between the two, placing special emphasis on export control policies designed to prevent the transfer of materials that can be used to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The paper, made public Dec. 3, portrays China as a country that takes its nonproliferation obligations seriously. It states, “[W]ith its strong sense of responsibility, China has…formulated a whole set of non-proliferation policies and put in place a fairly complete legal framework on non-proliferation and export control. It has taken positive and constructive measures to accelerate the international non-proliferation process with concrete actions.”

According to the paper, these measures include adhering to a variety of international arms control agreements, including the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), and the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). China also agreed in November 2000 to act in accordance with guidelines set by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and refrain from assisting states in developing ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, even though it is not a member of the MTCR.

The majority of the paper is devoted to a comprehensive, detailed description of China’s export control “practices,” which, the paper is careful to emphasize, are consistent with international norms. These include maintaining “control lists” of proliferation-sensitive exports, requiring licenses for such exports, demanding certification that end-users of exported items will not divert them to military purposes, and employing “catch-all” controls which require exporters to apply for export licenses if they “[know] or should know” that the exported item poses “a risk of proliferation.” These controls “form a complete system for the export control of nuclear, biological, chemical, missile and…all military products,” the paper adds.

Beijing has been strengthening its export controls during the past decade. For example, China published export control regulations for missiles and related components in August 2002 after agreeing to do so as part of its November 2000 pledge to limit further its missile exports. China also issued new export regulations for chemical and biological materials and related equipment in October 2002.

Washington continues to express concerns that China is not effectively enforcing its export laws. Department of State spokesman Adam Ereli stated Dec. 3 that the United States believes China has “enacted good legislation” but that U.S. “focus is on implementation and enforcement.”

Although the paper states that Beijing’s enforcement record has improved and cites instances where violators have been caught and punished, the United States remains skeptical.

A November CIA report acknowledged improvement in China’s nonproliferation policies but cautioned that “proliferation behavior of Chinese companies remains of great concern.” The report cites possible Chinese cooperation with Iranian and Pakistani nuclear programs; Iran’s chemical weapons program; and missile programs in Iran, Pakistan, Libya, and North Korea. The Bush administration has imposed sanctions on Chinese firms multiple times for illicit technology transfers. (See ACT, September 2003.)

Furthermore, Assistant Secretary of State for Verification and Compliance Paula DeSutter not only told Congress in July that China is failing to enforce its export control laws properly, but also implied that China sometimes deliberately allows sensitive technology transfers to occur. (See ACT, September 2003.) DeSutter further stated that China has maintained chemical and biological weapons programs in violation of the CWC and BWC.

A Shift in Tone

In addition to describing China’s progress in enacting export control policies, the paper discusses the role of arms control in international security. Although this discussion does not articulate specific policy changes, its tone and emphasis distinguishes it from past high-level Chinese statements on nonproliferation.

The White Paper’s focus is similar to the Bush administration’s approach to arms control, which places less emphasis on international arms control agreements and stresses “supply-side” efforts to prevent the transfer of WMD materials, particularly the enforcement of export controls.

In contrast, both China’s 1995 White Paper on Arms Control and Disarmament and its 2002 Defense White Paper devote much more space to the question of nuclear disarmament and complaints about U.S. policies, such as the U.S. pursuit of missile defenses, although they also portray Beijing as working to curb WMD proliferation and describe improvements in its export control policies.

For example, the 1995 White Paper argued that stemming nuclear proliferation is “part of the process of eliminating such weapons,” alluding to Article VI of the NPT, which commits nuclear weapons states to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race…and to nuclear disarmament.” This latest White Paper, however, states that the purpose of nonproliferation is “to safeguard and promote international and regional peace and security,” and it only references disarmament in passing.

Yet, this change in tone and emphasis is not as abrupt as it may first appear. An October 2002 article by China’s Vice Foreign Minister Wang Guangya struck a tone similar to that of the most recent White Paper.

The most recent statement also articulates differences between the two countries’ approaches. For example, it explains that China stresses “peaceful means” to deal with proliferation threats, adding that “proliferation issues must be settled through dialogue and international cooperation”—an apparent reference to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq last spring.






The Chinese government recently issued a “White Paper” describing its nonproliferation policies that represents a rhetorical progression from earlier Chinese statements...

Asian and Pacific Leaders Pledge to Control Shoulder-Fired Missiles

Leaders of countries from Asia to the Western Hemisphere pledged Oct. 21 to better control the international trade in shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles that could be used by terrorists against civilian and commercial aircraft.

Promoted by the United States, the nonbinding pledge came at the end of a two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Bangkok, Thailand. APEC’s 21 members include China, Japan, and Russia, all three of which produce shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, collectively referred to as Man-Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS). The United States also manufactures and exports MANPADS.

APEC members stated they would strengthen national controls on producing and exporting MANPADS and better protect their stockpiles against theft. They further agreed not to sell these types of missiles to nonstate actors.

The Group of Eight (G-8) issued a similar statement this past June and the 33-member Wassenaar Arrangement adopted criteria to guide MANPADS controls and exports in December 2000. Wassenaar members, which include most major arms suppliers, agreed to sell MANPADS only to governments or their licensed agents. China is not a member of either the G-8 or the Wassenaar Arrangement.

The threat posed by MANPADS has gained greater prominence following a failed November 2002 attempt in Kenya to shoot down an Israeli commercial airliner and a high-profile sting operation this past August to arrest an arms dealer selling a Russian-made shoulder-fired missile in New York City.

Washington has been trying to draw attention to the problem for several years. In June 1998, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called for the negotiation of an international agreement to “place tighter controls on the export of these portable, easily concealed weapons.” At that time, the Department of State reported that “more than 115 countries and dozens of subnational groups” possessed MANPADS.

Chinese Concession Fails to End UN Disarmament Conference's Stalemate

Wade Boese

Proving the adage that “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” the 66-member Conference on Disarmament (CD) Sept. 10 concluded its fifth straight year without holding any negotiations. The stalemate persisted even though China compromised on an issue perceived to be a key obstacle blocking progress in the UN arms control negotiating forum.

No clear explanation has emerged as to why the conference failed to revive after China dropped its long-standing insistence that any work program must include the drafting of a treaty on the prevention of an arms race in outer space. That demand has long been a stumbling block to negotiations: the disarmament conference operates by consensus, and the United States has refused for several years to support any negotiations for limiting weapons in outer space. Washington, which is exploring space-based interceptors for its proposed layered missile defense system, claims such a treaty is unnecessary. The CD has not completed any arms control agreement since it wrapped up the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996.

Several factors appear to have continued to block progress in the wake of China’s Aug. 7 announcement, which occurred in the last weeks of the conference’s negotiating period for the year. By conference rules, negotiations started one year do not carry over to the next. Some delegations probably wanted to avoid a repeat of 1998 when negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty were started in August, shelved in September, and not resumed the following year.

Disputes about the proposed outer space accord was also not the only controversial issue holding up the proposed CD work program, just the most prominent. Misgivings remain about nuclear disarmament talks, a negative security assurances treaty, and a fissile material cutoff treaty, which would forbid the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons purposes.

Despite their recent tensions on Iraq and other issues, France and the United States are of the same mind on not wanting to discuss nuclear disarmament in a multilateral setting. Russia reportedly shares this reluctance.

Joined by the United Kingdom, these three nuclear-weapon states also have little enthusiasm for negotiating an accord on negative security assurances, which are commitments by nuclear-weapon states not to use nuclear weapons against countries without them. All four countries have consented to such negotiations before because the implicit understanding was that nothing would happen. Speculation exists that the United States might not support a repeat of such a charade, given February 2002 remarks by U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton questioning the value of negative security assurances (See ACT, March 2002) and general Bush administration distaste for international negotiations.

Further dampening prospects for negotiations on negative security assurances is China’s insistence that an agreement include commitments by all nuclear-weapon states to forswear the first-use of nuclear weapons. London, Moscow, Paris, and Washington all reserve the right to use nuclear weapons first and oppose the Chinese proposal.

The United States has essentially declared that it will not compromise on issues it does not want addressed. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker told the conference in February that Washington would only consent to a “clean resolution” to start fissile material cutoff treaty negotiations. He warned that tying issues together to “win approval for dubious, unpopular, or outdated proposals must end if this body is to have a future.”

Although rhetorically enjoying consensus CD support, a fissile material cutoff treaty negotiation is not without detractors and potential pitfalls. Israel, for example, opposes the treaty, and relented to the start of treaty negotiations in 1998 only after intense U.S. arm-twisting. Israel’s Prime Minister at the time, Benjamin Netanyahu, warned that Israel had “fundamental problems with the treaty.”

Egypt, Pakistan, and Syria have argued that a completed treaty should not be limited to barring future production but also take into account existing stockpiles. They contend a treaty failing to do so would unacceptably codify unequal holdings of weapons-making material.

Aside from conflicting views about the conference’s work program, there is also an undercurrent of skepticism about whether all members, notably the United States, want the CD to succeed. A former senior U.S. government official familiar with the conference said in a Sept. 16 interview that Bolton and others in the Bush administration “detest the CD.”

The United States did not have a dedicated CD ambassador during this year’s round of negotiations, though in June the Bush administration nominated Jackie Wolcott Sanders, currently a deputy assistant secretary of state, for the position. The Senate has not yet voted on her nomination.

Regardless of the reasons, the conference found itself in a familiar position nearing the end of this year’s negotiating session. On Aug. 21, Japanese Ambassador Kuniko Inoguchi, who was serving as the rotating conference president, described the CD as being at a “serious impasse.” Expectations for the conference’s Jan. 19 start next year are not optimistic.




Proving the adage that “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” the 66-member Conference on Disarmament (CD) Sept. 10...

Three Asian Countries to Get U.S. Missiles

The U.S. government has approved the delivery of advanced air combat missiles to Taiwan, Thailand, and Singapore after agreeing to sell the missiles to the three countries a few years ago. When the missiles will actually be transferred is confidential.

The Clinton administration announced plans to sell AIM-120C Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAMs) to Taiwan and Singapore in September 2000. Thailand reportedly made a similar deal, but no public record of it exists because the value of the possible sale did not cross the $14 million threshold required for the Pentagon publicly to inform Congress of the proposed transaction.

In all three cases, the United States conditioned the delivery of the AMRAAMs, which independently home in on a target beyond the distance that a pilot can see, on neighboring countries in Asia acquiring a comparable missile. U.S. policy holds that the United States will not be the first to introduce advanced beyond-visual-range missiles into a region.

In its annual report on Chinese military power released July 28, the Pentagon reported that China now possesses the Russian-made AA-12 Adder missile, which is comparable to the AMRAAM. The report marked the first public acknowledgement of a finding the United States made last year. The determination set in motion this past spring the delivery of the AMRAAMs to Taiwan, Thailand, and Singapore.

Thailand and Singapore are not considered to be within the same region where China is thought to have deployed its AA-12 missiles. But the Bush administration told Congress earlier this year that Beijing’s ability to relocate the missiles and Russian offers to sell Adders to Malaysia create an imminent threat justifying AMRAAM deliveries to Thailand and Singapore.

Taiwan could receive up to 200 AMRAAMs and Singapore as many as 100. Thailand is believed to have purchased less than 10 missiles. Japan and South Korea, which are classified as being in a different region than the three above countries, have previously purchased and received AMRAAMs.

U.S. Imposes Sanctions on China, North Korea

Jonathan Yang

In July, Paula DeSutter, U.S. assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance, testified that China has so far failed to implement and enforce acceptable export controls. Meanwhile, the United States imposed sanctions on five Chinese companies for exporting materials that could be used for producing weapons of mass destruction or missiles.

DeSutter told the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission—an advisory body that reports to Congress—during a July 24 hearing that China is not doing enough to enforce its missile nonproliferation commitments. The State Department has repeatedly accused Chinese state-owned companies of transferring missile technology to countries such as Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, and Libya. China often defends the companies, denying the alleged proliferation activities occurred.

In 2002, China issued new export control laws aimed at curbing the spread of biological and chemical weapons technology and missiles and related technologies. (See ACT, November 2002.) DeSutter, however, said that China is not living up to the commitment it has made on paper. China is not properly enforcing its borders, and “it must establish a system of end-use verification checks to ensure that items approved for transfer are not diverted,” she stated.

Meanwhile, on July 3 the United States imposed sanctions on one North Korean and five Chinese companies for exporting materials to Iran that could be used for weapons of mass destruction programs. According to the sanctions, the exports occurred during the first half of 2002. The sanctions, imposed pursuant to the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000, took effect June 26 and will last for two years. The sanctions limit the dealings that these entities may have with the United States.

Additionally, the North Korean company—Changgwang Sinyong Corporation—was sanctioned July 25 pursuant to the 1976 Arms Export Control Act and the 1979 Export Administration Act (EAA); those sanctions last three years and eight months. Five days later, sanctions were also placed, for an indefinite period of time, on China Precision Machinery Import/Export Corporation (CPMIEC), pursuant to Executive Orders 12938 and 13094.

In addition to CPMIEC, the Chinese firms affected are Taian Foreign Trade General Corporation, Zibo Chemical Equipment Plant, Liyang Yunlong Chemical Equipment Group Company, and China North Industries Corporation (NORINCO). All of these companies, except Taian Foreign Trade General, are already under sanctions for previous nonproliferation violations.

The State Department refused to provide further details regarding the transfers these companies made that violated the Iran Nonproliferation Act. The sanctions imposed under the act prohibit the U.S. government from purchasing goods or services from and providing assistance to these entities. All sales of goods on the U.S. Munitions List or other defense-related materials and services to these entities are also prohibited. Additionally, any existing export licenses for the transfer of dual-use material to sanctioned entities are suspended, and no new licenses may be granted.

The State Department’s additional sanctions on the North Korean firm reflect its alleged transfer of Scud missiles to Yemen in December 2002. (See ACT, January/February 2003.) These latter sanctions are similar to those imposed under the Iran Nonproliferation Act but also ban the importation of products produced by the sanctioned company into the United States. In addition, because North Korea has “a non-market economy that is not a former member of the Warsaw Pact,” the Helms amendment to the EAA extends these sanctions to the North Korean government. The sanctions have little effect, however, because North Korea conducts negligible trade with the United States.


In July, Paula DeSutter, U.S. assistant secretary of state for verification and compliance, testified that China has so far failed to implement and enforce acceptable export controls. 

Other Participants' Views on the North Korea Talks

Paul Kerr

The five other parties to the Beijing talks have all stated that North Korea should not have nuclear weapons. But the United States and the other four countries—China, Japan, South Korea, and Russia—have taken different approaches, voicing their support for U.S. negotiations with North Korea and displaying far less enthusiasm for containment efforts. These differences of opinion will likely complicate any U.S. efforts to gain future support for a hard line on North Korea and suggest that the White House might allow the other participants to take the lead in offering inducements such as energy and economic assistance.


Beijing retains strong economic ties with North Korea, accounting for the bulk of that country’s economic activity. China was not involved in negotiating the Agreed Framework in 1994, under which North Korea agreed to freeze its plutonium-based nuclear weapons program in exchange for certain aid, but Beijing has taken a leadership role in bringing the United States and North Korea into a format for talks acceptable to both sides, including hosting both rounds of talks.

Many experts believe that Beijing has been applying pressure on North Korea through back-door diplomacy to resolve the issue. China, however, has constantly emphasized its opposition to the use of force or pressure to resolve the issue and held that the United States should engage North Korea in direct dialogue. China has also opposed U.S. efforts to raise the issue at the United Nations, and a Chinese arms control official said Beijing expressed reservations about the U.S.-proposed Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), according to an August 23 Washington Post article.

China’s delegate to the August talks, Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, stated August 26 that “the Korean Peninsula should be nuclear-free. At the same time, [North Korea’s] security concerns should also be addressed through…dialogue and peaceful talks.”


Tokyo has publicly taken the position closest to Washington but has still supported negotiations with North Korea. Japanese-North Korean relations appeared to make progress last September, when Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi became the first Japanese prime minister to visit North Korea. During that meeting, North Korea apologized for the kidnapping of a number of Japanese citizens and extended its moratorium on missile tests beyond 2003. The two sides also agreed to meet the next month to discuss normalizing diplomatic relations and undertaking some economic cooperation initiatives.

The normalization talks have been stalled, however, due to revelations about North Korea’s nuclear program and public anger over the kidnapping issue. Hatsuhisa Takashima, press secretary for Japan’s Foreign Ministry, said August 26 that Japan could normalize relations and “extend economic assistance” to North Korea if the latter resolves the issues surrounding its nuclear programs and the abductions.

Takashima added that Japan would “raise” the abduction issue during the talks but would leave the detailed discussion on the matter to bilateral talks it hopes to hold with North Korea on the sidelines of the Beijing talks.

Japan has shown somewhat greater interest in putting pressure on North Korea than the other participants in the Beijing discussions. Tokyo has expressed interest in stemming North Korea’s trade in illicit cargo, such as illegal drugs, and has stepped up port inspections of North Korean ships traveling between the two countries. Japan is also a participant in the PSI but has not publicly committed to any further interdiction efforts, partly because the PSI is still a work in progress. It is unknown whether Japan will fully participate in the PSI’s September Australia-hosted interdiction exercises or merely observe, an Australian government official said August 27.

South Korea

South Korea has repeatedly expressed its opposition to a nuclear-armed North Korea but has emphasized a negotiated solution to the issue. Although the nuclear issue has somewhat strained the countries’ bilateral relationship, Seoul and Pyongyang have continued discussions about various bilateral issues for some time.

South Korea has proposed a step-by-step negotiating strategy with Pyongyang to address that country’s April proposal. (See ACT, July/August 2003.) President Roh Moo-hyun said August 15 that, if Pyongyang gives up its nuclear weapons, South Korea “will take the lead in developing [North Korea’s] economy” and will “lure international organizations and funds” to North Korea.


Moscow’s ties to North Korea have weakened considerably since the end of the Cold War, but Russia has publicly been one of the countries most supportive of North Korea. Russia has repeatedly expressed its support for a negotiated resolution of North Korea’s nuclear program. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Yuri Fedotov said August 15 that Russia was considering the merits of a “joint document on security guarantees...[to North Korea] to which Russia and China could accede,” according to the official ITAR-Tass news agency.

The five other parties to the Beijing talks have all stated that North Korea should not have nuclear weapons. But the United States and the other four countries...

U.S. Pushing for Missile Defense in Taiwan

Pointing to China’s expanding force of ballistic missiles across the Taiwan Strait, the United States is trying to convince Taiwan to invest more in missile defenses, but Taipei has tightened its belt on military purchases.

At a joint U.S.-Taiwan defense industry conference in February, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Stokes reported that China has deployed at least 450 conventional ballistic missiles opposite Taiwan and that the force is increasing by at least 75 missiles per year. This is a faster pace than the 50 missiles per year that the Pentagon estimated last summer.

Stokes said that Chinese missiles pose the “most significant [Chinese] coercive threat to Taiwan.” China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province, says it wants a peaceful reunification between itself and the island. Yet, Beijing reserves the right to use force.

A Taiwanese official interviewed May 22 said that Taipei recognizes the threat, but that missile defense systems are expensive. Taiwan, which possesses some older model Patriot systems, is evaluating potential missile defense options, including buying Patriot Advanced Capability-3 systems. Taiwan is not expected to buy any time soon.

Taiwan still has not finalized any deals from the broad package of arms that the Bush administration offered Taiwan in April 2001. That package included four Kidd-class guided-missile destroyers, eight diesel-powered submarines, and a dozen P-3C Orion anti-submarine aircraft.

In his briefing slides, Stokes warned that Taiwan could not depend upon the United States to protect the island against Chinese missile attacks, “particularly in the opening phases of a conflict.” He further recommended that Taiwan’s leadership “commit to defending against ballistic and land attack cruise missiles.”

A Pentagon spokesperson said May 16 that the United States is not pushing any particular system but is emphasizing that Taiwan needs to reckon with the ballistic missile threat.


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