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From papadop@peak.org Fri May 26 11:42:03 2000
Date: Thu, 25 May 2000 23:26:00 -0500 (CDT)
From: MichaelP <papadop@peak.org>
Subject: S.Korea stopped 1994 US strike on North Korea
Article: 96971
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

South Korea stopped US strike on North Korea: former president

Agence France Presse, Wednesday 24 May 2000, 3:24 PM SGT

SEOUL, May 24 (AFP)—South Korea stopped US President Bill Clinton from launching an air strike against North Korea's nuclear facilities in June 1994, according to the South Korean president at the time, Kim Young-Sam.

In an interview with the independent Hankyoreh Daily, Kim said a last-minute phone conversation with Clinton saved the Korean peninsula from an imminent war, at the height of an international crisis over North Korea's nuclear programme.

At that time, the situation was really dangerous, Kim told the paper. The Clinton government was preparing a war.

According to Kim, the United States deployed an aircraft carrier off the eastern coast at a distance close enough for its war planes to hit the North's nuclear facilities in Yongbyon.

US warships were also ready for a naval bombardment of the nuclear facilities, some 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of Pyongyang, he added.

One day, I heard (then US Ambassador James) Laney was about to hold a press conference the following day and announce the withdrawal of relatives of US embassy staff, he said to the daily.

This is a step the United States usually takes on the eve of a war. So, I called in Laney.

Kim warned the US ambassador another war on the Korean peninsula would turn all of Korea into a bloodbath, killing between 10 and 20 million people and destroying South Korea's prosperous economy.

I told him that I would not move even a single soldier of our 650,000 troops (in case a war broke out because of the bombing of Yongbyon), he said to the paper.

According to Kim he argued with Clinton for 32 minutes on the phone. I told him there would be no inter-Korean war while I was the president.

Clinton tried to persuade me to change my mind, but I criticised the United States for planning to stage a war with the North on our land, he said.

Clinton then relented and proposed to set up a secret telephone line linking the White House and the presidential Blue House here for close consultation on the North's nuclear issue, the paper said.

Three days later, a team from the White House arrived, and at around the same time former US president Jimmy Carter arrived in Seoul on his way to Pyongyang in a bid to defuse the tense situation, Kim said.

Kim asked Carter to warn then North Korean President Kim Il-Sung of the seriousness of the situation and to convey his wish to avoid a war, Kim Young-Sam said.

During Carter's visit, Kim Il-Sung proposed the North freeze its nuclear programme on condition that it receive lightwater reactors which could be monitored more easily by the outside world.

This proposal eventually led to a landmark agreement in October 1994 in Geneva, under which North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear programme in exchange for two light-water reactors and fuel from the West.

Carter returned to Seoul from Pyongyang with a proposal from Kim Il-Sung to hold an inter-Korean summit, but the summit was cancelled by the sudden death of Kim Il-Sung from a heart attack on July 8, 1994.

Kim Il-Sung was succeeded by his eldest son, Kim Jong-Il. The two Koreas will pick up where they left off in 1994, when Kim Jong-Il meets with South Korean President Kim Dae-Jung at Pyongyang in June of this year.