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Monday, June 27, 2011

North Korea: U.S. Relations, Nuclear Diplomacy, and Internal Situation


Emma Chanlett-Avery
Specialist in Asian Affairs

North Korea has been among the most vexing and persistent problems in U.S. foreign policy in the post-cold war period. The United States has never had formal diplomatic relations with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the official name for North Korea). Negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program have consumed the past three U.S. administrations, even as some analysts anticipated a collapse of the isolated authoritarian regime. North Korea has been the recipient of well over $1 billion in U.S. aid and the target of dozens of U.S. sanctions.

This report provides background information on the negotiations over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program that began in the early 1990s under the Clinton Administration. As U.S. policy toward Pyongyang evolved through the George W. Bush presidency and into the Obama Administration, the negotiations moved from mostly bilateral to the multilateral Six-Party Talks (made up of China, Japan, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, and the United States). Although the negotiations have reached some key agreements that lay out deals for aid and recognition to North Korea in exchange for denuclearization, major problems with implementation have persisted. With talks suspended since 2009, concern about proliferation to other actors has grown.

Meanwhile, North Korea’s reclusive regime has shown signs of strain under its ailing leader Kim Jong-il. Pyongyang may be struggling as a result of the impact of international sanctions, anxiety surrounding an anticipated leadership succession, and reports of rare social unrest in reaction to a botched attempt at currency reform in November 2009. North Korea has initiated a string of provocative acts, including an alleged apparent torpedo attack on a South Korean warship that killed 46 South Korean servicemen in March 2010 and an artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island that killed two South Korean Marines and two civilians.

The Obama Administration, like its predecessors, faces fundamental decisions on how to approach North Korea. To what degree should the United States attempt to isolate the regime diplomatically and financially? Should those efforts be balanced with engagement initiatives that continue to push for steps toward denuclearization, or for better human rights behavior? Is China a reliable partner in efforts to pressure Pyongyang? Have the North’s nuclear tests and alleged torpedo attack demonstrated that regime change is the only way to peaceful resolution? How should the United States consider its alliance relationships with Japan and South Korea as it formulates its North Korea policy? Should the United States continue to offer humanitarian aid?

Although the primary focus of U.S. policy toward North Korea is the nuclear weapons program, there are a host of other issues, including Pyongyang’s missile program, illicit activities, and poor human rights record. Modest attempts at engaging North Korea, including joint operations to recover U.S. servicemen’s remains from the Korean War and some discussion about opening a U.S. liaison office in Pyongyang, remain suspended along with the nuclear negotiations.

(This report covers the overall U.S.-North Korea relationship, with an emphasis on the diplomacy of the Six-Party Talks. For information on the technical issues involved in North Korea’s weapons programs and delivery systems, as well as the steps involved in denuclearization, please see the companion piece to this report, CRS Report RL34256, North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons: Technical Issues, by Mary Beth Nikitin. Please refer to the list at the end of this report for the full list of CRS reports focusing on other North Korean issues.)



Date of Report: June 17, 2011
Number of Pages: 23
Order Number: R41259
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Japan-U.S. Relations: Issues for Congress


Emma Chanlett-Avery, Coordinator
Specialist in Asian Affairs

William H. Cooper
Specialist in International Trade and Finance

Mark E. Manyin
Specialist in Asian Affairs

Dick K. Nanto
Specialist in Industry and Trade


The post-World War II U.S.-Japan alliance has long been an anchor of the U.S. security role in East Asia. The alliance facilitates the forward deployment of about 36,000 U.S. troops and other U.S. military assets in the Asia-Pacific, thereby undergirding U.S. national security strategy in the region. For Japan, the alliance and the U.S. nuclear umbrella provide maneuvering room in dealing with its neighbors, particularly China and North Korea.

When a devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan on March 11, 2011, U.S.-Japan relations were stable but still recovering from a difficult period in 2009-2010. The Democratic Party of Japan’s (DPJ’s) landslide victory in the August 2009 elections for the Lower House of Japan’s legislature marked the end of an era in Japan; it was the first time Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was voted out of office. The LDP had ruled Japan virtually uninterrupted since 1955. Since the resignation of the DPJ’s first prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama, in June 2010, bilateral relations have been smoother under the leadership of Naoto Kan. The party appears to have shifted its strategic thinking after a series of provocations from North Korea and indications of growing assertiveness from the Chinese military in disputed waters in 2010. The massive and immediate relief provided by the United States following the March 11 disaster bolstered the relationship even further.

Difficult problems remain in the alliance, particularly in implementing a 2006 agreement to relocate the controversial Futenma Marine Air Station to a less densely populated location on Okinawa. The move is to be the first part of a planned realignment of U.S. forces in Asia, designed in part to reduce the footprint of U.S. forces on Okinawa by redeploying 8,000 U.S. Marines and their dependents to new facilities in Guam. After months of indecision and mixed messages from Tokyo, the Hatoyama government agreed to honor the original agreement, much to the dismay of the many Okinawans opposed to the base. Kan has voiced his intention to honor the agreement, but the task of reconstruction and Kan’s own political weakness are likely to preclude swift progress.

Japan is one of the United States’ most important economic partners. Outside of North America, it is the United States’ second-largest export market and second-largest source of imports. Japanese firms are the United States’ second-largest source of foreign direct investment, and Japanese investors are the second-largest foreign holders of U.S. treasuries, helping to finance the U.S. deficit and reduce upward pressure on U.S. interest rates. Bilateral trade friction has decreased in recent years, partly because U.S. concern about the trade deficit with Japan has been replaced by concern about a much larger deficit with China. One exception was U.S. criticism over Japan’s decision in 2003 to ban imports of U.S. beef, which have since resumed, but on a limited basis.

However, the economic problems in Japan and the United States associated with the credit crisis and the related economic recession, together with the impact of the March 11 disasters, will likely dominate the bilateral economic agenda for the foreseeable future. Japan has been hit particularly hard by the financial crisis and the subsequent economic downturn. Japan’s gross domestic product (GDP) declined 1.2% in 2008 and 5.3% in 2009 but grew 4.0% in 2010. It is expected to increase only 1.0% in 2011 as a result of the March 11 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident. The value of the yen has appreciated and has hit 15-year highs in terms of the U.S. dollar, which could adversely affect Japanese exports to the United States and other countries, contributing to the downturn in Japanese economic growth.



Date of Report: June 8, 2011
Number of Pages: 30
Order Number: RL33436
Price: $29.95

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990


Shirley A. Kan
Specialist in Asian Security Affairs

This report, updated as warranted, discusses U.S. security assistance to Taiwan, or Republic of China (ROC), including policy issues for Congress and legislation. Congress has oversight of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), P.L. 96-8, which has governed arms sales to Taiwan since 1979, when the United States recognized the People’s Republic of China (PRC) instead of the ROC. Two other relevant parts of the “one China” policy are the August 17, 1982, U.S.-PRC Joint Communique and the “Six Assurances” to Taiwan. U.S. arms sales to Taiwan have been significant. The United States also expanded military ties with Taiwan after the PRC’s missile firings in 1995-1996. However, the U.S.-ROC Mutual Defense Treaty terminated in 1979.

At the last U.S.-Taiwan annual arms sales talks on April 24, 2001, President George W. Bush approved for possible sale diesel-electric submarines, P-3 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft (linked to the submarine sale), four decommissioned U.S. Kidd-class destroyers, and other items. Bush also deferred decisions on Aegis-equipped destroyers and other items, while denying other requests. Afterward, attention turned to Taiwan, where the military, civilian officials, and legislators from competing political parties debated contentious issues about how much to spend on defense and which U.S. weapons to acquire, despite the increasing threat (including a missile buildup) from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In 2003, the Bush Administration pointed Taiwan to three priorities for defense: command and control, missile defense, and ASW. The Pentagon also has broadened its concern from Taiwan’s arms purchases to its defense spending, seriousness in self-defense and protection of secrets, joint capabilities, operational readiness, critical infrastructure protection, and asymmetrical advantages. Blocked by the Kuomintang (KMT) party in the Legislative Yuan (LY) that opposed the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP)’s president (2000-2008), the Special Budget (not passed) for submarines, P-3C ASW aircraft, and PAC-3 missile defense systems was cut from $18 billion in 2004 to $9 billion (for submarines only) in 2005. In March 2006, Taiwan’s defense minister requested a 2006 Supplemental Defense Budget (not passed) in part for submarine procurement, P-3Cs, and PAC-2 upgrades (not new PAC-3 missiles). In June 2007, the LY passed Taiwan’s 2007 defense budget with funds for P-3C planes, PAC-2 upgrades, and F-16C/D fighters. In December 2007, the LY approved $62 million to start the sub design phase. After the KMT’s Ma Ying-jeou became President in May 2008, he resumed cross-strait talks while retaining the arms requests. But Ma has cut the defense budget.

Attention also turned to U.S. decisions on pending arms sales. In 2008, congressional concerns mounted about a suspected “freeze” in President Bush’s notifications to Congress on arms sales. On October 3, 2008, Bush finally notified Congress. However, he submitted six of the eight pending programs (not a “package”) for a combined value of $6.5 billion. Despite the concerns in 2008, President Obama repeated that cycle to wait to decide on submissions for congressional review all at one time (on January 29, 2010) five programs with a total value of $6.4 billion. Like Bush, President Obama did not notify the submarine design program (the only one pending from decisions in 2001) and has not accepted Taiwan’s formal request for F-16C/D fighters (pending since 2006). Defense Secretary Robert Gates submitted to Congress in February 2010 an unclassified assessment of Taiwan’s air defense forces, including its F-16 fighters, finding that Taiwan faced diminished ability to deny the PRC air superiority. A Defense Department official testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee on May 12, 2011, that another assessment was owed to Congress. Legislation in the 112
th Congress includes H.Con.Res. 39 (Andrews). In April and May, Senator Richard Lugar wrote to the Secretaries of State and Defense, asking for clarity on whether to accept Taiwan’s request for F-16C/D fighters. On May 26, 45 Senators wrote to President Obama, urging him to accept Taiwan’s request for F-16C/Ds.


Date of Report: June 3, 2011
Number of Pages: 72
Order Number: RL30957
Price: $29.95

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China/Taiwan: Evolution of the “One China” Policy—Key Statements from Washington, Beijing, and Taipei


Shirley A. Kan
Specialist in Asian Security Affairs

Despite apparently consistent statements in four decades, the U.S. “one China” policy concerning Taiwan remains somewhat ambiguous and subject to different interpretations. Apart from questions about what the “one China” policy entails, issues have arisen about whether U.S. Presidents have stated clear positions and have changed or should change policy, affecting U.S. interests in security and democracy. In Part I, this CRS Report, updated as warranted, discusses the “one China” policy since the United States began in 1971 to reach presidential understandings with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) government in Beijing. Part II records the evolution of policy as affected by legislation and key statements by Washington, Beijing, and Taipei. Taiwan formally calls itself the Republic of China (ROC), celebrating in 2011 the 100th anniversary of its founding. Policy covers three major issue areas: sovereignty over Taiwan; PRC use of force or coercion against Taiwan; and cross-strait dialogue. The United States recognized the ROC until the end of 1978 and has maintained an official, non-diplomatic relationship with Taiwan after recognition of the PRC in 1979. The United States did not explicitly state the sovereign status of Taiwan in the U.S.-PRC Joint Communiques of 1972, 1979, and 1982. The United States “acknowledged” the “one China” position of both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

Since 1971, U.S. Presidents—both secretly and publicly—have articulated a “one China” policy in understandings with the PRC. Congressional oversight has watched for any new agreements and any shift in the U.S. stance closer to that of Beijing’s “one China” principle—on questions of sovereignty, arms sales, or dialogue. Not recognizing the PRC’s claim over Taiwan or Taiwan as a sovereign state, U.S. policy has considered Taiwan’s status as unsettled. With added conditions, U.S. policy leaves the Taiwan question to be resolved by the people on both sides of the strait: a “peaceful resolution” with the assent of Taiwan’s people and without unilateral changes. In short, U.S. policy focuses on the process of resolution of the Taiwan question, not any set outcome.

The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) of 1979, P.L. 96-8, has governed U.S. policy in the absence of a diplomatic relationship or a defense treaty. The TRA stipulates the expectation that the future of Taiwan “will be determined” by peaceful means. The TRA specifies that it is U.S. policy, among the stipulations: to consider any non-peaceful means to determine Taiwan’s future “a threat” to the peace and security of the Western Pacific and of “grave concern” to the United States; “to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character;” and “to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion” jeopardizing the security, or social or economic system of Taiwan’s people. The TRA provides a congressional role in determining security assistance “necessary to enable Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability.” President Reagan also offered “Six Assurances” to Taipei in 1982, partly covering arms sales.

Policymakers have continued to face unresolved issues, while the political and strategic context of the policy has changed dramatically since the 1970s. Nonetheless, there has been no comprehensive review of U.S. policy since 1994. Since the mid-1990s, U.S. interests in the military balance as well as peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait have been challenged by the PRC’s military buildup (particularly in missiles) and coercion, resistance in Taiwan by the Kuomintang (KMT) party to raising defense spending, and moves perceived by Beijing for de jure independence under Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) President Chen Shui-bian (2000- 2008). After May 2008, KMT President Ma Ying-jeou resumed the cross-strait dialogue (after a decade)—beyond seeking detente. With President Obama since 2009, a rhetorical convergence emerged among the three sides about “peaceful development” of cross-strait engagement, but disagreement has remained about the PRC’s opposition to U.S. arms sales for Taiwan’s defense.



Date of Report: June 3, 2011
Number of Pages: 86
Order Number: RL30341
Price: $29.95

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Imports from North Korea: Existing Rules, Implications of the KORUS FTA, and the Kaeson Industrial Complex


Mark E. Manyin, Coordinator
Specialist in Asian Affairs

Jeanne J. Grimmett
Legislative Attorney

Vivian C. Jones
Specialist in International Trade and Finance

Dick K. Nanto
Specialist in Industry and Trade

Michaela D. Platzer
Specialist in Industrial Organization and Business

Dianne E. Rennack
Specialist in Foreign Policy Legislation


In early 2011, many Members of Congress focused their attention on U.S. rules and practices governing the importation of products and components from North Korea. Their interest was stimulated by debate over the proposed South Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) and the question of whether the agreement could lead to increased imports from North Korea. Some observers, particularly many opposed to the agreement, have argued that the KORUS FTA could increase imports from North Korea if South Korean firms re-export items made in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC), a seven-year-old industrial park located in North Korea, where more than 100 South Korean manufacturers employ over 45,000 North Korean workers. Two concerns expressed by critics are (1) that South Korean firms could obtain low-cost KICmade goods or components, incorporate them into finished products and then reship the goods to the United States with “Made in [South] Korea” labels so that they would receive preferential treatment under the KORUS FTA; and (2) that such exports would benefit the North Korean government.

At present, North Korea’s relative economic isolation and an array of U.S. restrictions have resulted in less than $350,000 in U.S. cumulative imports from North Korea since 2000. Thus, the issue of U.S. imports from North Korea is essentially about what might happen in the future. This report examines the issue of U.S. imports from North Korea in three parts:

  • U.S. rules and practices governing imports from North Korea. The United States does not maintain a comprehensive embargo against North Korea. However, imports from North Korea require approval from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). This restriction includes finished goods originating in North Korea as well as goods that contain North Korea-made components. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), of the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for reviewing an importer’s OFAC license as the goods enter the United States.
  • North Korea’s exports to South Korea (via the KIC) and China, its dominant export markets. In 2010, over three-quarters of North Korea’s export shipments went to China and South Korea. Most of North Korea’s $1.2 billion in exports to China in 2010 were mineral resources or primary products (such as fish, shellfish, and agro-forest products). An increasing proportion of North Korea’s exports to South Korea have become attributable to activities in the KIC, where factories manufactured more than $320 million in goods in 2010, a 25% increase over 2009. The present South Korean government has halted plans for a major expansion of the complex. If a future South Korean government resumes these plans, or if China and North Korea significantly boost bilateral economic integration, more North Korean goods and components could enter global supply chains and test U.S. restrictions against North Korean imports.
  • The KORUS FTA’s potential effect on U.S. imports of North Korean content. The KORUS FTA appears likely to have only a minimal impact on whether U.S. sanctions on North Korean imports are put to the test. At present, the agreement would not give preferential treatment to finished products made in the KIC. The agreement would establish a binational committee to discuss whether zones such as the KIC should be given preferential treatment in the future. The committee would operate by consensus, and Congress would need to pass a law to extend any KORUS FTA tariff benefits to products made in the KIC. Moreover, the KORUS FTA contains provisions that make it highly unlikely the agreement would constrain the United States’ ability to maintain its restrictions on North Korean products. Many critics of the KORUS FTA argue that the agreement’s rules of origin would make it possible for South Korean exports with North Korean components to receive preferential treatment. However, the KORUS FTA’s rules of origin do not appear to limit the United States’ ability to enforce its restrictions on imported products that contain North Korean inputs.
The issue of how best to handle imports from North Korea appears to center on customs controls, cooperation, and enforcement. The complex nature of many types of goods, such as automobiles and electronics, pose a particular challenge for Customs and Border Protection officials to determine the origin of these products. There is no means to determine with one hundred percent certainty that there are no goods or components originating in North Korea entering U.S. commerce without proper authorization. This will be true regardless of whether the KORUS FTA is in effect. Thus, perhaps the most important factor that will determine whether U.S. restrictions on North Korean imports are tested appears to be the degree to which North Korean goods enter global supply chains.


Date of Report: May 24, 2011
Number of Pages: 23
Order Number: R41843
Price: $29.95

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