Northeast Asian Peace from viewpoint of Russian Woman
N.B. Lebedeva  
 Ph.D., Lead scholar at the  Institute of Oriental Studies,
 The Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, the RF

Dear Chairperson! Dear Colleagues! Dear Friends!

In April, May and July 2009 North Korea carried tests of mid- and long-range missiles and nuclear devices. It shocked the World community ?most of states condemned these dangerous tests. The tension situation on the Korean peninsula (the KP) and in the Northeast Asia (the NEA) reached its climax. Peace in the region became much fragile and unpredictable.


Regrettably, that the dangerous environment on the KP does not yield to solution for more than 60 years. This crisis is the oldest and prolonged one among regional conflicts in the "Cold and post-Cold Wars" periods. Yet, NK has no diplomatic relations with the US and Japan. Peace on the peninsula is based on the unstable status of cease-fire 1953. Impossibility to resolve the KP issues is unnatural especially on the background of successful reunification of such states divided in the past as Germany, Vietnam, Yemen, etc.
Absurdity of the situation on the KP does not sink in people minds and soles ?the Korean nation is homogeneous, it lived on the KP as one and indivisible people and state for more than 13 centuries. Unfortunately, after the Korean war North and South Koreans coexisted in the atmosphere of mistrust, misunderstanding, hostility and mutual threats. So, this situation became a menace not only for the NEA, but also for global international order, since it influences negatively on principles of  Non-Proliferation, security and stability, on economic development and cooperation, well-being and prosperity of the NEA peoples, first of all women and children.
I would not like to justify or condemn either this or that sides analyzing these threatening events on the KP and in the NEA. I would prefer to be fair and objective as a woman and as a scholar.

Outlook for Security Environment

1. Technologically, the NK recent tests demonstrated broader possibilities to launch missiles, capable to flyover the Japanese archipelago or nearer. It means that the NK missile and nuclear programs are progressing, becoming more effective in comparison with all previous tests. In general, these programs are an important factor in the NK politics of military deterrence. As for real tools of military deterrence, NK relies also on its conventional arms (in response SK spends huge sums of dollars for military budget too).

2. Politically, these tests showed that the NK leadership tried to sound firmness of President B. Obama administration in its first months, to probe new American approaches toward the KP issues. Also, NK took that "strong step" to get a reaction of other members of the 6-party Talks, who were awaiting some shifts in the American NK policy.

3. Economically, the NK militarized command economics can be sustained only by foreign aid. The Kim family regime considers that the most effective way to get such aid is through nuclear "musculature" and bargain. The stronger the "arguments" behind such policy, the larger the aid Pyongyang can count on.
While the NK regime played the "nuclear card" (for example, it spent more than 500-600 million dollars only for recent extremely expensive missile tests in accordance with estimations made by the South Korean Institute for strategy and national security), the North Korean population experienced numerous recurrences of severe food, energy, fertilizes etc shortages, natural disasters for last decades. The United Nations (UN) estimated that the country was experiencing a 1.6 million metric ton grain shortfall. Adding to that fact world grain prices nearly tripled in 2008.Men, women and children in NK become more and more dependent on the market where prices are skyrocketing too. So, NK has fallen into a poverty trap, which causes the country to become poorer and poorer.
But the NK policy (including the area of foreign aid) is very controversial and inflexible. Exit from the NPT, refusal for verifications of nuclear objects, for compromises or concessions are usual tools to achieve a primary goal : securing the political and economic survival of the regime (we in Russia know the nature of totalitarian regime). But Russia is against any regime changes through foreign intervention or "export of democracy"to any state. The Iraqi experience shows negative results of such interference.
The ongoing economic reforms and political decompression in NK is likely to gradually soften up the regime and with time the present-time clan is surely to pass away from historical scene and thereby opening the floodgates of Korean unification.

The US and NK

In the name of what aims and interests did and do the NK leaders carry out this politics? There are likely several explanations.
On the one hand, the USA past hard-line policy and insistence on the NK unconditional unilateral disarmament fortified the siege mentality in Pyongyang and only strengthened the regime. Intensified international hostility around the DPRK simply allowed the leaders to impose harsher security measures on the society, put the Korean people Army into the center stage of domestic politics at the expense of other social and political forces, drained enormous productive resources away from economic reforms, increased popular support for the regime.
In what was reminiscent of the Cold War mentality, quite a few analysts considered that the US purposefully exaggerated the NK nuclear threat because of the American permanent interest in aggravating tensions on the KP in order to justify its long-term military presence in South Korea and in the NEA.
The NK crisis is not only about nuclear proliferation. Nor is it really a security crisis. Rather, it is a great geopolitical and diplomatic game with huge "stakes" between the USA and China for long-term strategic control and dominance over the entire Korean peninsula, as well as the future shape of the NE Asian security order. China is rapidly emerging as the "second"superpower and potential primary challenger to the US global supremacy over preeminence in Korea.
In contrast to Iraq, the US lacks fundamental economic or geopolitical interests in NK. There is no oil. It is rather poor, hungry and underdeveloped country.

Are Threats Real on the KP?

But from the other hand, NK striving to acquire nuclear weapon is quite explainable. After the Korean War, Pyongyang always experienced not mythic, but real direct threat from the USA. Pentagon never concealed operative plans 5026, 5027, 5029 etc to launch a pre-emptive strikes on the NK nuclear facilities. As it is well known, J. Bush administration was intended to change the Kim regime by military means till 2007. Under 56 year old security treaty with Seoul, the US deployed  significant armed forces, numerous bases and facilities in SK for decades, keeping nuclear weapon despite Pentagon declaration in 1991 about withdrawal of it from SK territory. In other words, the US continued to guarantee the "nuclear umbrella" under as Seoul, as Tokyo.
In pursuit of own interests and aims Pentagon is implementing fundamental regrouping of its forces in the region. The US Pacific Command is relocating 7 thousand marines from Okinawa to Guam, where nuclear ships are very frequent visitors. Pentagon strengthens its strategic partnership with Japan, Australia, South Korea, conducts numerous navy and military exercises in cooperation with Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, South Korea.
I believe that the most important steps to relieve the KP situation were and are the normalization of the US and NK relations, signing the peace agreement between them.
But during J. Bush first term, Washington approached the NK nuclear and other issues in terms of a "war on terror". However, actually Washington had been tied up in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and could play rather a modest role as a member of the 6-party Talks, than it might do. As a result the NK policy of the first Bush administration has aggravated the NK nuclear issue and the whole situation on the KP to some degree.
In the second term noticeable changes became apparent in the NEA and NK politics in Washington, leading to the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement, the February 13, 2007 Joint Statement, the US delisted NK as a state sponsor of terrorism etc. I would not like to go into all details. Nevertheless, in one word, the relations of NK and the US swung as usual between negative and positive. Hopes for any serious break-through turned out to be vain. Ex-President left hard "heritage" to the new administration. But recent shifts in views of American high-rank circles require special attention.

What can we await from the US Policy on the KP in near future?
On condition that the world experiences serious financial and economic crisis, problems on the KP, as I think, will be hardly in the focus of B. Obama`s administration. But  certain official documents published in the end of 2008 ? the special Pentagon Report on the KP situation, the analytical report "Global Trends ? 2025", the article in "Foreign Affairs" written by R. Gates, the US minister for defense etc. expressed unequivocally general points of view of American military top circles on the NK nuclear arsenal. 
In all documents mentioned above and gotten a broad echo all over the World, NK was called a nuclear power for the first time. So, American generals admitted the existence of a new nuclear power ? NK, while top political officials kept wait-and-see attitude.

But quite evidently the US has to revise its NK politics and take into account the necessity of coexisting with new reality on the KP.
Beside the last round of the 6-party Talks demonstrated that the American diplomacy could not make certain break-through. Actually the 6-party Talks frozen its work.  Their members were rather competing to lead the changing order of the twenty first century in whole Asia than to solve the NEA problems.

The NEA States Reaction to the NK Tests and situation on the KP
The consequences of these serious events are long-term and extremely negative for the KP and NEA security. Tokyo official position is that Japanese laws and constitution do not prohibit having a nuclear weapon but the country future chooses not to out of political considerations. If foreign and domestic conditions dictated such a necessity, Japan could make a step toward acquiring a nuclear weapon. In a new document "The Basic Directions of the development of Armed Forces from 2005 to 2009" it is emphasized that Japan sees a serious threat in the NK missile program.
Any change of strategic situation in the NEA that would be negative for Tokyo security, will increase the probability of Japanese acquiring a nuclear weapon over the period of a year. When this threat became the reality in spring/ summer 2009, the Japanese Ministry for defense started to review the potential of the National anti-ballistic missile defense, basing on collaboration with the US.  Systems "Patriot"will be deployed on 11 military bases in Japan by 2010 and then in a few years - the newest systems "THAAD".
The creation of peace regime on the KP and new security architecture in the NEA are the most consequential for regional order in the 21st century and have a direct impact on South Korea` choice for future strategic positioning.  
There is growing recognition among South Korea`s citizens that the ROK-US alliance has to be readjusted and probably China would then assume the role currently held by the US. Factually, SK population looks at China`s heightened strategic and economic prominence, geographic and historic proximity and friendly ties with both Koreas. They expect that China could play a more constructive role to bring about a multilateral security cooperation mechanism in the NEA.
As to nuclear issue, the SK specialists demonstrated a high level of professionalism. It is clear that SK has political ambitions to place itself among regional leaders. It makes possible to foresee SK activity not only in economic cooperation in the NEA, but also in political and military fields. That is why the US and Japan are afraid in some sense of future reunification of SK with NK which probably has a bomb. The situation would not be more secure and stable in that case. Only time will show. But I think that we, women of the NEA, must stand against these threatening nuclear ambitions in the region. It is a very dangerous way to more unstable environment here.
Considering that China`s policy toward the KP has aimed at maintaining peace and stability as well as expending Chinese influence over the region and N and SK, there are two probable unspoken intentions behind China`s proposal to establish a Northeast Asian multilateral security mechanism mentioned above.
NK`s behavior can be managed and controlled by such a mechanism. Therefore, China can securely maintain a stable environment for its economic development and peaceful rising as a second superpower. From a long-term perspective, China can organize an institutional framework through which it can strengthen political, diplomatic and economic pressure in the process of Korea`s national unification. I am sure that our colleague from China will give us all details better than me.
Russian Views and Position on Recent Trends in the NEA

Russia`s leverage in the international community and the NEA is rising. Moscow appeared to be able to recover its regional and global influence thanks to developing economic power based on energy resources, to expanding industry, GDP growing, to modernizing military system. The global financial and economic crisis, the precipitous decline in oil and gas prices are slowing down the pace of Russian development. But there is a hope to overcome these problems, if Russian leadership overcomes the total dependence on gas and oil, reduces corruption, starts to develop industry, small business etc.
As to the KP, Russian leaders keep to create a proper balance in their individual good relations with N and S Koreas, supporting the further development of the K process. After recent tests S. Lavrov, the minister of Foreign Affairs of the RF, was the first World top official who visited NK and SK in April 2009.
Summarizing the results of his negotiations on the KP S. Lavrov emphasized the next most important moments:

1. The situation, of cause, is very strained, but is not so hopeless, if none rocks the boat, though every side has its truth and claims.

2. It is extremely urgent to resume the 6-party Talks and save a dialogue on the nuclear issues.

3. Russia stands up for NK return into the regime of the NPT, against the possible nuclear arms race in the NEA.
Russia considers whatever happens on the KP in the immediate future or in years to come, Russian national security interests, economic and political goals will be directly affected. Thus Russia will make every effort to achieve stability and denuclearization in the NEA, build security system on the base of NP, etc, to extent economic cooperation of the NEA states.
The IAEA, but not the US, Russia, China, Japan or SK, must play the key role in verifications of the NK nuclear objects. Russia intends to observe the situation on the KP very attentively and appeals to stop hostile rhetoric around NK.
Presidents B. Obama and D. Medvedev discussed the KP nuclear issue in Moscow, in July 2009 and agreed to hold "Summit on Nuclear Security ? 2010".
As regards the NK military programs, it is necessary to proceed in this denuclearization dialogue on the KP very cautiously and patiently. In order to activate this process and the 6-party Talks Russia set a special working group which met several times for discussing the complex issues.


It is absolutely evident that for the future next years primary challenges and issues of politics and security in the NEA are as follow :
1. Resolving the NK nuclear problem, relieving military tensions, limiting military budgets, reduction of armed forces and munitions to an equal ceiling not only along the demilitarized zone, but also on territories of N and SK, removing American bases and troops from the KP.

2. Normalization of the NK national status and policy, transform NK into a responsible member of international society.

3. Forming a desirable regional security system and handling regional conflicts.

4. Peaceful reunification on the KP.

All these issues require the activity of the 6-party Talks and women` new initiatives. Crossing any bridge will be difficult because :

Firstly, one of the key problems plaguing the negotiation is that members of Five (the US, Russia, China, Japan, SK) did not have coordinated approach to NK and come to the Talks from different positions (though now there is almost no one on NK side). Japan is closer than the other states to the US in the rigidity of its demands. China plays the second greatest role after the US in organizing the negotiation process, but its approach to NK is less demanding than that of the US and Japan. SK and Russia take the softest positions.

Secondly, communicating and negotiating with North Koreans is a hard and unpredictable experience. It seems that negotiators go on the thin ice. Last decades demonstrated ebbs and flows. The World was an eye-witness that the NK delegations frequently concealed or failed to attend meetings.
But the US and its closest ally in talks ? Japan supported the hard-line policy and position of strength toward NK. The US was prepared to apply force and frequently mentioned about this threat in order to make Pyongyang more compliant (but more irritated).
It would be expedient that in addition to the 6-party Talks other innovative forms and mechanisms of negotiations can be brought forward. Now there are already such structures as the US ? NK, the US ? NK ? China etc. It is important that they do not hinder to each other, they do not pull the rug from under one, but coordinate and cooperate, keeping certain balance of interests of all concerned parties and negotiators.

What can We, Women, do?

1. These obstacles can’t prevent women from an active participation in this process. Unfortunately, women are still significantly underrepresented in decision-making process, in peace negotiations or are often entirely absent. Thus, our key task for today is women full involvement in all peace negotiations, conferences, discussions and, first of all, in the 6-party Talks, in denuclearization Talks, in peace building mechanism in the NEA region.
Of course, the theme "compatibility of women and politics", "women and their role and place in decision-making" is broader. It requires special discussions. In some states this painful problem is already solved. But I believe that the strengthening of female origin in spheres mentioned above is extremely necessary and urgent. We, women are better negotiators. We are able to convince our political opponents but not to threaten them. Our potential as negotiators is not used yet. We must gain multitude possibilities to prove our strength and abilities.

2. The governments should listen to and consult to scholars advices, use their prognosis. I know that there are number of South and North Korean research organizations. Of these the SK institutions work is quite credible and warrants particular attention by Americans, Russians and others. Foremost is the Korean unification ministry, several think tanks are also notable ?the Korean institute for national unification (KINU), the Sejong institute, the Institute of foreign affairs and national security (IFANS), the Korean institute for defense analysis (KIDA) and university-based research centers.
In order to better cope with tasks of preventing conflicts in Korea for short run and of achieving a lasting peace via the KP unification and denuclearization in the NEA for long run, it is advisable to set a joint working group, including officials and scholars from the US, Russia, China, Japan, SK. Within this frame-work they can interact regularly (especially during the 6-party Talks intervals),work out scenarios of future options and challenges on the KP issues, on inter-Korean relations, invent new concept and concrete innovative mechanism for coexistence and reconciliation on the KP.
Women-scholars must be presented adequately in these multinational projects for monitoring specific women aspects of the situation and also for participating in broad research on security and denuclearization problems in the region.

3. The governments and members of the 6-party Talks should listen to common people opinions. In 2000-2008 the Gallop Poll, CNN Poll, the Mansfield Asian opinion Poll, the Russian Poll center, other surveys and corporations carried broad and serious research of public opinions in the US, West Europe, China, Japan, SK, Russia on the Korean nuclear program. The database demonstrated significant support of solution of the KP problems by political and diplomatic methods, but not by military actions. Naturally, the data of numerous opinions polls differed in all states, but general tendency was to peaceful negotiations.
It is important to continue this polls research. It presents broad picture of public views on the NK nuclear program and members of the 6-party Talks can take into account the polls results. In this choir of views women voices must be louder and stronger through Radio, TV, interviews, public and scientific conferences, articles in press, peace culture programs, documentary films etc.

4. I have got to my disposal useful information on women participation in peace-keeping operations. I believe, they can play a more active and positive role in peace-building, can provide post-war reconstruction, system establishment, sustainable development in the mid- and long-term scope. The UN vigorous peace-keeping activities showed that mixed teams where men and women worked side by side could get more effective results. Also this experience demonstrated that women engagement in military, police and civil components of the UN peace-keeping acts as an important factor of social stability, which can hinder to abuse power, sexual exploitation etc in war conflicts.
Extending the number of women in peace-keeping (particularly on the positions of decision-making) can soften the sorest subjects. It was proved by practice that women-peace-keepers influence positively on numerous operations in many states, become good examples for local women for imitating their brave and disciplined behavior in crisis. As a rule local women trust and discussed their problems and needs with women - peace-keepers more often than with men-soldiers. The women- peace-keepers play a great role in just distribution of humanitarian aid. Regrettably, women - peace-keepers make up very low percentage until now.

At last I would like to express my deep gratitude for the chance to take part in such brilliant conference, to exchange of opinions, to listen to new ideas and to meet a lot of splendid activists who are devoted so wholeheartedly to the cause of peace, stability and prosperity in the NEA, to the cause of reconciliation and reunification on the KP.
Thank you for your kind attention,
Nina Lebedeva


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