Slave to the blog: sanctions interdiction, Radio Free Asia, and even more foot-and-mouth!

May 14, 2011 2:45 PM

Not-so-strange bedfellows: Eritrea has wonderful people, fantastic architecture, great food, and one of the world’s most repressive governments.  Now NATO has reportedly intercepted a North Korean ship bound for Eritrea carrying 15 tons of heavy weaponry worth $15 million in contravention of UN sanctions.  

Illicit arms trade is not all the two countries share in common: they, along with Burma, China, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam, landed on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom list of “countries of particular concern.”   The two countries were also singled out for special commentary in a similar report on International Religious Freedom produced by the State Department.  We blogged about Christianity in North Korea in an earlier post.

Left of the dial:  Over the course of six weeks Radio Free Asia’s website was accessed by servers in North Korea 19 times, a significant increase over the 10 connections during the previous period.  According to Yonhap, “The connections from North Korea showed that users were searching RFA news on pending issues on North Korea, such as international movements on resuming food aid to Pyongyang, joint Seoul-Washington military drills and latest coverage on Kim Jong-il and heir apparent Kim Jong-un.” 

One of the pleasures of writing this blog is receiving messages from Professor Haggard timed stamped 2:03am concerning foot-and-mouth disease. His latest concerns a special edition of the Kansas Animal Health Newsletter written by Veterinarian and head of the Kansas Animal Health Department Bill Bryant which produces an extraordinary chronology of the FMD outbreak in South and North Korea, observing that “we may never be able to follow a Foreign Animal Disease occurrence like this in such detail from beginning to end with such clarity.” As for North Korea, Dr. Bryant writes

“February 11, 2011 – FMD in North Korea: Kim Jong Il's Dependence on Oxen Increases Foot-And-Mouth Risks. North Korea's dependence on animals to plow fields and haul harvests adds greater urgency to containing an outbreak of FMD before planting begins in the country, already dependent on food handouts. "Oxen are so important in North Korea's agricultural industry that the government owns them all, while individuals can keep pigs," said Kwon Tae Jin, vice president of the Korea Rural Economic Research in Seoul. "During the rice planting season you can see more oxen than tractors." More than 10,000 draft oxen, milk cows and pigs have been infected with the disease, with thousands of them already dead, North Korea's state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.”

Couldn't have said it better ourselves.



The FMD problem alone (if it is indeed this severe) would seem to necessitate an aid package, now AND in the near future. If plowing, planting, and productivity are reduced due to lack of livestock, next year will almost certainly bring another dismal harvest - notwithstanding any dramatic weather... Why hasn't the FMD issue been a more significant part of the dialog on the current crisis? I understand there are critiques of the WFP data, and that anecdotal evidence reported in Daily NK refutes claims of shortage. But livestock health seems more fundamentally important.


I don't think there is a person alive who would dispute the necessity of aid to combat FMD. Is the OIE not helping? Reports do not clarify this (yes, including mine). But there have not been any explicit calls for aid, either, or am I wrong in thinking so? Meanwhile, reports of the type of standard cover-up that has gotten secretive dictatorships in trouble before appear to be continuing.


We have a number of previous posts that have tracked what we know about the outbreak and the FAO/OIE response; they appear in Slave to the Blog entries or are marked FMD Update. FAO did propose an aid package of $1 million; we have no information on the progress of it.


I assume that the FMD and food issues are officially separate, and any assistance package would be implemented by entirely different entities under entirely different agreements... But I don't understand why the expert testimony at places like AEI, Heritage and USIP, hasn't speculated as to the impact of the FMD outbreak on food security. Few, if any of the testimonies have even mentioned it. I'm no expert on animal health or on food security - but I suspect there is a relationship. To the food crisis skeptics, does the FMD outbreak compound the problem?

Add new comment