|Asia News Digest
Iran Responds to North Korea Nuclear Test
Iran's response to the North Korean nuclear test was to announce the event and call for a non-nuclear-weapons world. At first, the Iranian press agency IRIB merely stated the fact that North Korea had announced its test, and published the Koran nuclear agency's text. Later in the day, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini made a statement: "Iran's position is clear and Iran on principle believes in a world free of nuclear weapons." The spokesman added: "Iran is hopeful that negotiations on North Korea's nuclear activities can go ahead in the interest of both North Korea and the international community."
South Koreans Blame U.S. Neocons for North's Nuke Test
Former South Korean President Kim Dae Jung and members o the government Uri party are blaming North Korea's nuclear test on the U.S. neocons, Chosun Ilbo reported Oct. 12. These responses include:
Korean Unification Minister Lee Jong Seok: Seoul "recommended that if at all possible, the U.S should hold direct talks with the North, but they refused to accommodate us."
Uri party representative Chun Jung Bae: "The neocon-led U.S policy on North Korea has not stopped the nuclear proliferation and is a clear failure."
Kim Geun Tae, the chairman of the Uri party: "The final result was the North Korean test, so the Bush Administration's hostile attitude and policy of not recognizing North Korea are clearly not working."
Former President Kim Dae Jung: "Under the Sunshine Policy, was North Korea engaged in nuclear development? With the U.S refusing to even talk, while bullying North Korea, isn't nuclear development the only option left [to North Korea] to ensure its survival?"
U.S. Senator: Approach North Korea with Caution
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said the U.S. and other nations must approach North Korea with caution and rethink imposing sanctions against them, the Charleston Daily Mail reported Oct. 12. Rockefeller believes that if China, or even the United States, imposes strict sanctions against them, the North Koreans would respond quickly with military strikes against South Korea. Attacking North Korea militarily would likely incite the country to use its deadliest weapons. "You can attack them militarily, but if you do that, South Korea disappears. They have thousands of tunnels and caves filled with launching devices all aimed at South Korea, and Seoul in particular. The damage they can do is incalculable, and they can destroy it in a day." Rockefeller said sanctions will not halt bomb production in North Korea.
South Korea Leader in China To Discuss Crisis in North
While the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton pushed to get members of the Security Council to vote for a draft resolution which would impose more economic sanctions on North Korea, South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun travelled to Beijing Oct. 13 to discuss matters with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao. According to a South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman, President Roh was invited by the Chinese President.
According to a senior Chinese official, the two leaders "agreed to make joint efforts to come up with diplomatic solutions to resolve the crisis centering around North Korean nuclear weapons development at an early date and to strengthen cooperation at a higher working level." The same official pointed out that "joint diplomatic efforts" meant "more than just taking joint steps," in a broad hint which suggests that concrete stepsnot yet revealedhave been agreed upon during the summit.
India, Israel To Develop Joint Electronic Warfare System
India's Defence Avionics Research establishment (DARE), in Bangalore and the Elisra Group, Bene Beraq, Israel, have signed contracts whereby India and Israel would set up a joint venture to develop advanced electronic warfare (EW) systems for their air forces' fighter aircraft. The system, to be called the "Mayawi," is developed for India's Tejas Light-Combat Aircraft and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters that Israel plans to buy from the United States.
Seventy percent of the venture will be funded by the DARE, which is part of the state-run Defence and Research Development Organization (DRDO), with the Elisra Group paying the rest. A senior Indian Defense Ministry official said India wants to forge alliances with Israeli companies to develop a variety of high-end defense technologies as a continuation of the growing India-Israel defense cooperation.
Elisra has helped DARE in the past to develop an EW system, called "Tempest" for the MiG 21 Bison fighter upgrade program. India is also going to install the "Tempest" EW system in the 140 Sukhoi-30MK1 India is manufacturing under license from Russia.
Indian Prime Minister Concerned About Globalization
Having promoted globalization and privatization in India since he became the late Prime Minister Narasimha Rao's finance minister in 1991, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, speaking at his alma mater, Cambridge University, Oct. 11, said that, although globalization is cited for many successes, it has "brought new anxieties in its wake." "The evidence suggests the process has not removed personal and regional income disparities. In many developing countries, growth is bypassing the rural areas. Also, in the face of stagnation in their real pay, the working classes in the industrialized countries are becoming fearful of opening of markets. The gap between rich and the poor is widening. This coupled with the inability of the public sector to provide adequate and quality services in health and education, and cater to the needs of the poor, is causing resentment and alienation. This is nurturing divisive forces and putting pressure on the practice of democracy," the Indian Premier said.
This is the first time Manmohan Singh expressed, in so many words, the difficulty he is facing in pushing his economic plan. One reason behind this change of tone is perhaps because in India, the political forces within have become active and are demanding an end to the mindless liberalization. Congress Party head Sonia Gandhi, whose political base is the rural poor, has made it clear that she is not happy with the Singh-led government's economic policies.
Iron Silk Road Treaty Signals New Era for Cooperation
An international agreement on the Trans-Asian Railway Network is to be signed during the Ministerial Conference on Transport on Nov. 10 in Busan, South Korea, reported UNESCAP (UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific) on Oct. 6 from Bangkok. "The Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) Network Agreement constitutes another step towards the identification of a trans-continental, integrated, international, intermodal network to facilitate international trade and tourism," says UNESCAP. A similar agreement under UNESCAP's auspices on the Asian Highway Network came into force in July 2005.
The member countries of the TAR Network are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam.
The new plan, says UNESCAP, will "give reality to the dream of connecting their capital cities, ports, and industrial centres by rail," and is of "crucial importance to landlocked countries whose access to world markets is heavily dependent on efficient connections to the region's main international ports. Twelve of the world's 30 landlocked countries are in Asia, and 10 of them are members of the Trans-Asian Railway Network."
As part of the development of the TAR Network, members have already begun to identify stations of international importance that will have similar functions as ports away from coastal areas, or dry ports.