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Friday, May 29, 2009

In and Around North Korea: 23 - 29 May 2009

North Korea conducts second nuclear test

At 9:54 AM (KST), 25 May, North Korea conducted its second nuclear test near the northeastern town of Kilchu (near the site of the North’s 2006 nuclear test). Along with its nuclear test, North Korea also test-fired two short-range missiles on 25 May, and three short-range missiles on 26 May.


Reactions from South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and the United Nations

The ROK Reactions. Following the North Korean nuclear test, the ROK government immediately convened an emergency meeting of the NSC meeting and placed its military on high alert. The ROK President Lee Myung-bak said he was disappointed with the North and ordered complete readiness to counter any additional provocations from the communist nation. At the end of the emergency NSC meeting, the ROK government issued a statement strongly denouncing North Korea's nuclear test as a "serious threat and challenge" to the international community.

The National Defense Committee of the ROK National Assembly adopted a resolution on 25 May (KST) urging governments around the world to take prompt and stern countermeasures against North Korea's latest nuclear test. The parliamentary committee said that Pyongyang must assume full responsibility for all incidents arising from its provoation.

The ROK government also banned its citizens from visiting North Korea, with the exception of those involved with the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The ban also applies to humanitarian aid workers, politicians and civic activists.

On 26 May (KST), the ROK government declared its decision to fully participate in the PSI. President Obama welcomed the decision during a telephone call with President Lee stating that South Korea’s membership is very important and that every other member state will welcome the decision as well.

To confirm that the North indeed detonated a nuclear device, the ROK military started to take air samples on 26 May (KST). A ROK defense ministry official said, “We expect it will be at least a few days before we can confirm that North Korea indeed detonated a nuclear device."

Japanese Reaction. Following the North’s test, the Japanese government set up a special task force at the emergency management center of Prime Minister Taro Aso's office.

In New York, Yukio Takasu, Japan's UN ambassador, met with the Russian ambassador and requested an emergency meeting of the UNSC.

In Hanoi, the Japanese Foreign Minister Nakasone sought China's support for Japan’s push to produce a UNSC resolution, and gained the ROK Foreign Minister’s agreement that the two countries “"call for the U.N. Security Council to convene an emergency meeting on the issue as early as possible."

During a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Aso and President Obama, the two leaders agreed that the UNSC must swiftly adopt a new resolution to impose “additional sanctions” on North Korea. Two leaders also agreed to encourage China and Russia to cooperate in adopting a new, fresh UNSC resolution.

On 26 May (KST), the Japanese House of Representatives unanimously endorsed a resolution at a plenary session condemning North Korea’s nuclear test, slamming it as an “act of violence.” The Japanese ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner, the New Komeito Party, issued a joint statement calling on the Japanese government to put forth efforts in seeking the passage of a new UNSC resolution and to impose additional unilateral sanctions on North Korea. The Diet resolution claims that “repeated nuclear tests by North Korea are a grave challenge to the international nonproliferation regime and are entirely unacceptable.” The House of Councilors is expected to adopt a similar resolution soon.

In an effort to confirm the North’s claim of its nuclear test, the Japanese Defense Ministry reportedly dispatched aircraft to take air samples from the sky over Japan.

Chinese Reaction. The Chinese government remained fairly muted about the North’s reported nuclear test; however, in contrast to the 05 Apr rocket launch, it released an official statement via its Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 25 May (KST) expressing its dismay about the latest North Korean action. The statement stopped short of an outright condemnation, but it was the harshest and most direct criticism of North Korea since the nuclear test in Oct 06. In the statement, China stated that it is in “resolute opposition” to the test, and that it “strongly demands that North Korea abide by the non-nuclearization commitments, stop related actions that may lead to further deterioration of the situation.” The statement also urged “all parties concerned to respond calmly.”

On 26 May (KST), the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said that China has directly “conveyed its position” to North Korea and that “China has been maintaining contact throughout with all relevant parties.” At a press briefing, a Chinese foreign ministry official stated that China will demand that North Korea fulfill the obligations it assumed during the Six-Party Talks on its nuclear program. The official stated that the Chinese side hopes that all the parties will work with China on “solving this problem by peaceful means through dialogue and negotiation.” These comments reiterated the Chinese foreign ministry’s official statement released a day earlier.

Russian Reaction. Reacting to the reported nuclear test, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on 25 May (KST) that North Korea has violated the UNSC Resolution 1718 and that the North’s nuclear tests have dealt a serious blow to the international efforts to strengthen the Nuclear NPT. The Russian State Duma deputies told Interfax on 25 May (KST) that the UNSC should apply economic sanctions against North Korea. The Chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee stated, however, that the security issue with North Korea should only be handled through talks. Along the same line, the Russian Foreign Ministry told Itar-Tass that Russia has urged other countries “not to go off into hysterics” or “overreact” in connection with the nuclear test.

On 26 May (KST), the Russian Foreign Ministry told Itar-Tass that Russia believes a new UN resolution on North Korea should not envisage an international isolation or blockade of North Korea. On the same day, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Borodavkin said Russia will not use “unilateral sanctions of any kind” against North Korea. He also stated that Russia believes that there is still a chance for North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks. The Russian President’s Office, on the other hand, issued a statement on 26 May (KST) condemning the North’s nuclear test.

United Nations Reaction. Over the past 48 hours, the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany, the EU, NATO, and others throughout the international community also condemned the North’s activity. On 25 May (EDT), the UNSC held an emergency session and issued a statement calling the test a “clear violation” of UNSC Resolution 1718, which bans North Korea from any ballistic missile and nuclear activity. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply disturbed" by North Korea's nuclear test and later issued a statement deploring it as a violation of UNSC resolutions. On 26 May (EDT) the UNSC’s five permanent members, along with Japan and the ROK (dubbed P5+2), started a closed-door meeting to discuss the UNSC course of action against North Korea. As of the time of this report’s publication, the UNSC P5+2 had concluded its first meeting and the US UN Ambassador Susan Rice said the P5+2 had “very good, productive, initial talks” on the draft resolution against North Korea. The Japanese UN Ambassador Takasu told the reporters after the meeting that “there is a strong understanding” that the 15-nation council will send “a strong message” to North Korea.


North Korea reacts to South Korea’s decision to join the PSI – declares Korean War Armistice “null”
  • North Korea said on 27 May it was nullifying the Korean War armistice in response to Seoul's participation in a U.S.-led security campaign and warned of an immediate military strike should any attempt be made to interdict its ships.
  • The statement, issued by the North's permanent military mission to a joint security area in the demilitarized zone separating the Koreas, also said the country can no longer guarantee the safety of South Korean and US military ships and private vessels moving along the western sea border.
  • "Our revolutionary armed forces, as they have already declared, will regard the Lee Myung-bak group of traitors' 'full participation' in the PSI as a declaration of war against the DPRK (North Korea)," the Panmunjom Mission of the North's Korean People's Army said.
  • Further raising the stakes, the North's military mission said it was scrapping the armistice agreement brokered in 1953 at the end of the three-year Korean War.
  • The spirit of the cease-fire agreement had already been broken by South Korea's participation in the PSI, the military mission claimed, citing a ban on naval blockades imposed by the armistice.
  • With the armistice now rendered ineffective, the North's mission said the country's military will no more respect the Northern Limit Line, the de-facto border in the Yellow Sea unilaterally drawn at the end of the war by the UN Command. The North has rejected the sea border as illegitimate and demanded it be redrawn further south. Two bloody skirmishes occurred in the area in 1999 and 2002, claiming scores of lives on both sides.
  • "For the present, we will not guarantee the legal status of the five islands under the south side's control," the mission said, as well as "safe sailing of warships of the U.S. imperialist aggression forces and the South Korean puppet navy and civilian ships operating in the waters around there."
  • "It is illogical for the DPRK to unilaterally meet the requirements of fair international law and the bilateral agreement since the U.S. imperialists and the Lee Myung-bak group of traitors have reneged on them," it said.

North Korean Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland reinforces threat against South Korea’s PSI participation
  • Just hours after the North Korean military vowed to take “wartime” actions to retaliate against South Korea’s participation in the PSI, the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland reinforced the threat with its own statement and accused Seoul of "declaring war" by announcing participation in the PSI.
  • Pyongyang "will counter with real active measures tantamount to war-time conditions," said the statement carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency.
  • "We will consider any efforts to hold or search our vessels as a violation of our sacred sovereignty and as grave provocations. We will retaliate viciously," the statement said.
  • The committee justified its nuclear test, arguing that it is "only natural for a nuclear state to conduct a nuclear test.
  • The US and its "followers" are not driven by the purpose of stopping nuclear proliferation, but by the "dark intention to solely repress" North Korea, it said.

UN Command rejects North Korean nullification of Korean War Armistice
  • The US-led United Nations Command in South Korea on 28 May rejected the claim by North Korea that it is no longer bound by the truce that halted war on the Korean Peninsula.
  • "The armistice remains in force and is binding on all signatories, including North Korea," it said in a release, one day after Pyongyang declared it "will not be bound" to the 1953 deal that ended the three-year Korean War.
  • "The armistice has served as the legal basis for the ceasefire in Korea for over 55 years," an unidentified UN Command spokesman said in the statement. "The UN Command will adhere to the terms of the armistice and the mechanisms that support it."

South Korea and US step up surveillance over North Korea
  • The armed forces of South Korea and the US raised their surveillance over North Korea to the second highest level Thursday as the communist state went ahead with its second nuclear test and threatened war, an official said.
  • The last elevation of the five-stage "WATCHCON" was in Oct 06 when North Korea conducted its first nuclear test. It was then also ramped up to the second highest notch.
  • "WATCHCON II took effect as of 7:15 a.m.," South Korean defense spokesman Won Tae-jae said in a briefing, adding the five-stage combat alert level, "DEFCON," remains at four.

North Korea preparing to fire missiles from west coast
  • North Korea continues to show signs of preparations for short-range missile launches from its west coast after firing five from its east coast and testing a nuclear device, a South Korean source said Wednesday.
  • "Signs continue to be seen that launches will take place in the west," the defense source said.
  • "Various scenarios concerning North Korean missiles are being analyzed by the South Korean military," the source said. Others said anti-ship missiles may be among those being prepared on the west.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chronology of Major North Korean Statements on The Korean War Armistice

A very good piece from the South Korean Yonhap News Agency:

July 27, 1953 -- The three-year war ends in an armistice, signed between military commanders from North Korea and China on one side and the U.S.-led United Nations Command on the other. South Korea was not a signatory.

The ceasefire was meant to be only a temporary measure before a final peaceful settlement was achieved, though it was never replaced by a formal peace treaty.

May 23, 1994 -- North Korea's Foreign Ministry says the country will no longer be bound by the armistice agreement should the United States go ahead with a multinational naval exercise called the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) drill, which South Korea ultimately participated in. The drill was held from late May to mid-July.

May 24 -- North Korea establishes the Panmunjom Mission of the Korean People's Army, its military mission to the joint security area in the demilitarized zone, after pulling out of the Military Armistice Command, a U.N. organization responsible for supervising the armistice, weeks earlier. The withdrawal came in retaliation against the U.N. Command's appointment in 1991 of a South Korean general as chief of the Military Armistice Command. The North protested, saying South Korea is not a signatory to the armistice.

April 4, 1996 -- The North's Panmunjom Mission says the country is abandoning its obligations to the armistice, such as maintaining and supervising the military demarcation line and the demilitarized zone, protesting imports of tanks, artillery and heavy weapons into South Korea.

Feb. 18, 2003 -- The Panmunjom Mission says the North will not abide by the armistice and that it will take stern measures should South Korea and the U.S. hold joint military drills.

July 1, 2003 -- The Panmunjom Mission criticizes the U.S. plan to spend $11 billion to strengthen weapons for its forces stationed in South Korea and says it will consider the move as a full annulment of the armistice.

Aug. 22, 2006 -- Ahead of an annual South Korea-U.S. joint military exercise known as Ulji Focus Lens, the Panmunjom Mission issues a statement saying the drill is tantamount to an act of war and the country will no longer abide by the armistice.

May 27, 2009 -- The mission denounces South Korea's participation in a U.S.-led security campaign, the Proliferation Security Initiative, as a violation of the armistice and says its military will be no longer bound by the armistice. With the armistice rendered ineffective, it said the Korean Peninsula was now back in a state of war.

Japan, US compile draft UN resolution on North Korea

Following report from Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun:

Japan and the United States on Wednesday compiled a draft of a new U.N. Security Council resolution against North Korea in response to its nuclear test, including such measures as making cargo inspections of North Korean vessels mandatory and imposing financial sanctions.

The draft has been circulated among Britain, China, France and Russia--all permanent members of the Security Council--and South Korea.

According to diplomatic sources, the draft strengthens Resolution 1718, which was adopted in October 2006 after North Korea's first nuclear test. Based on a draft prepared by the United States, it also reflects proposals made by Japan, China, France and Russia, the sources said.

The seven countries will hold an ambassadorial-level meeting Thursday to discuss a new resolution based on the draft.

According to the sources, the draft includes five proposals made by the United States:
  • Imposing a total arms embargo on North Korea.
  • Making cargo inspections of North Korean vessels mandatory.
  • Making respective countries report results of cargo inspections.
  • Prohibiting banking transactions with North Korea.
  • Imposing a ban on making loans or granting aid to the country, except for humanitarian reasons.

In addition, it also includes measures proposed by Japan and France such as the designation of North Korean organizations and individuals who should have their assets frozen or be banned from traveling outside the reclusive state.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

North Korea reacts to South Korea's decision to fully participate in PSI: declares Korean War Armistice "null"

The following was carried as an unscheduled program, and is observed to be North Korea's first reaction to South Korea's decision to participate in PSI:
(Originally broadcasted by North Korea's Korean Central Broadcasting Station in Korean)

Statement P'anmunjo'm Mission of the Korean People's Army: 
Those Who Toy With Us Will Not Be Able To Avoid Merciless Punishment Beyond Imagination The unstable situation of our country -- which is neither at war nor in peace -- is dashing toward an extreme situation where war may break out at any time.

Such a situation is directly connected with the frenzied maneuver of the US imperialists -- who are frantically running amok with military isolation and crushing maneuvers against us, the other party of war, while totally turning a blind eye to the Armistice Agreement -- and the Lee Myung-bak gang of traitors, which are riding on them.

Its typical movement is none other than the Lee Myung-bak gang of traitors' reckless full participation maneuver in the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative, which was forced by the conspiracy and collusion of the master and its stooge.

Originally, the US attempt to drag in the puppets into this initiative, aimed at military blockade and sheer brigandish naval blockade against us, has been persistently pushed since the Bush administration.

While speaking paradoxically saying that there is the need to convert PSI as a permanent international system, even the incumbent US rulers, including Obama, instigated and draw South Korean puppets to this.

This is a violent infringement and a clear negation of not only the international law but also the Korean Armistice Agreement, which prohibits any kind of blockade against war counterpart.

In spite of that, Lee Myung-bak gang of traitors, who has become inveterate of flunkeyism and subservience, unhesitatingly committed the act of fully participating in PSI, blindly obeying the demands of their masters.

With this, the US imperialists and Lee Myung-bak gang of traitors drew the situation on the Korean peninsula to a state of war.

The P'anmunjo'm Mission of the Korean People's Army clarifies principled position of our revolutionary armed forces to cope with the situation created.

1. As has been already declared to the world, our revolutionary armed forces will regard the Lee Myung-bak gang of traitors' full participation in the PSI as a declaration of war against us.

Accordingly, we will brand hostile acts, such as interdictions and inspections, against our vessels having peaceful purposes - no matter how trivial they may be - as unpardonable violation of our Republic's sovereignty and will respond with immediate and strong military strikes.

2. The incumbent rulers of the United States are so crazed with the maneuver to crush the DPRK that they negated the Armistice Agreement itself, not to mention international law. Without being satisfied with this, the authorities recklessly abandoned even their responsibility as the very signer of the agreement and finally dragged the puppets into the PSI. In this situation, our army will not be bound by the Armistice Agreement any longer, either.

If the Armistice Agreement loses its binding force, the Korean peninsula will surely get back to the state of war in legal terms, and our revolutionary armed forces will proceed to military action corresponding to it.

3. At present, the KPA will not be able to guarantee the legal status of the South side's five islands -- Paengnyo'ng, Taech'o'ng, Soch'o'ng, Yo'np'yo'ng, and U Islands -- in the northwest territorial waters of our maritime Military Demarcation Line in the West Sea of Korea and the safe navigation of the vessels of the US imperialist forces of aggression and puppet Navy as well as general ships that move in the nearby waters.

Under a condition where the US imperialists and Lee Myung-bak gang of traitors have given up the just [kongjo'nghan] demands of international law and mutual agreement, it does not make sense if it's only us who implement them the demands and agreement.

There is no greater miscalculation than thinking that the US-style theory that the weak are the prey of the strong can work with us.

The South and the United States should correctly be aware that we also have mighty military strength and our-style striking method that can, if necessary, can enable DPRK to sit astride nearby objects at one stroke or strike the vital spot of the United States.

Those who toy with us will not be able to avoid merciless punishment beyond imagination.

Regional and United Nations Reactions to the North Korean Nuclear Test: The First 48-hours after the Test [10:00 AM, 25 May – 10:00 AM, 27 May (KST)]

Overview. At 9:54 AM (KST), 25 May, North Korea conducted its second nuclear test near the northeastern town of Kilchu (near the site of the North’s 2006 nuclear test).

In the open media, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency first carried the news of the test at 11:49 AM (KST), reporting that “South Korea has detected an ‘artificial earthquake’ in North Korea.” At 12:00 PM (KST), North Korea’s KCBS broadcasted the KCNA communiqué of a “successful” nuclear test. At 1210 hours, the KCNA published its communiqué in English. Along with its nuclear test, North Korea also test-fired two short-range missiles on 25 May, and three short-range missiles on 26 May.  There are also indications of possible preparation for more missile launch.  

Reactions from countries in the region have included South Korea putting its military on alert and convening an emergency meeting of its National Security Council (NSC). On 26 May (KST), South Korea announced its decision to fully participate in the PSI. South Korea has also banned all visits to North Korea by South Korean nationals, with the exception of those traveling to the joint industrial complex in Kaesong. South Korea and US presidents agreed that the test was a “reckless violation of international law that compels action in response,” and agreed to “strongly punish” North Korea for its test.

Japan reacted angrily to the North Korean nuclear test, with Prime Minister Taro Aso saying, "It is a major challenge to the nuclear nonproliferation regime and is a clear violation of the UNSC resolution. It absolutely cannot be allowed." Aso also told reporters "The right way to proceed is to start with Security Council discussion." The Japanese government on 25 May (KST) began considering banning all exports to North Korea -- it already bars exports of luxury items and other goods to North Korea.

China stopped short of outright condemnation of North’s action, but did issue a statement that contained most direct criticism of North Korea since the Oct 06 nuclear test. Russia issued a statement condemning the North, but remained cautious. Both countries stated that they are opposed to the North Korean nuclear test and that the North should live up to its obligations of international agreements concerning denuclearization. Although both countries urged the international community to resolve the situation through talks and negotiations, they both acknowledged a new UNSC resolution, probably embedded with more sanctions, against North Korea seems to be inevitable.

Following the 25 May test, the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany, the UN, the EU, NATO and others throughout the international community also condemned the North’s activity. On 25 May (EDT), the UNSC held an emergency session and issued a statement calling the test a “clear violation” of UNSC Resolution 1718, which bans North Korea from any ballistic missile and nuclear activity. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply disturbed" by North Korea's nuclear test and later issued a statement deploring it as a violation of UNSC resolutions. On 26 May (EDT) the UNSC’s five permanent members, along with Japan and the ROK, started a closed-door meeting to discuss the UNSC next course of action against North Korea.

North Korean Media Behavior. For the past 48hours, the North Korean media has behaved normally. There has been one follow-up reporabout the nuclear test in the past 48 hours –KCNA reported on 26 May (KST) that “a meeting of Pyongyangites was held at the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium Tuesday to celebrate the second successful nuclear test.” There has been only one report in the past 48 hours that dealt directly with the international reactions to the nuclear test – a 26 May (KST) Chosun Sinbo article urged the US for a bilateral talks with North Korea to “cut off the escalating cycle of tension.” During the same time period, the North Korean media has released two reports justifying the nuclear test, missile launches, and continued weapons development (aside from the Chosun Sinbo report mentioned earlier).

South Korean (the ROK) Reactions. Following the North Korean nuclear test, the ROK government immediately convened an emergency meeting of the NSC meeting and placed its military on high alert. The ROK President Lee Myung-bak said he was disappointed with the North and ordered complete readiness to counter any additional provocations from the communist nation. At the end of the emergency NSC meeting, the ROK government issued a statement strongly denouncing North Korea's nuclear test as a "serious threat and challenge" to the international community.

The National Defense Committee of the ROK National Assembly adopted a resolution on 25 May (KST) urging governments around the world to take prompt and stern countermeasures against North Korea's latest nuclear test. The parliamentary committee said that Pyongyang must assume full responsibility for all incidents arising from its provoation.

The ROK government also banned its citizens from visiting North Korea, with the exception of those involved with the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The ban also applies to humanitarian aid workers, politicians and civic activists.

On 26 May (KST), the ROK government declared its decision to fully participate in the PSI. President Obama welcomed the decision during a telephone call with President Lee stating that South Korea’s membership is very important and that every other member state will welcome the decision as well.

To confirm that the North indeed detonated a nuclear device, the ROK military started to take air samples on 26 May (KST). A ROK defense ministry official said, “We expect it will be at least a few days before we can confirm that North Korea indeed detonated a nuclear device."

Japanese Reaction. Following the North’s test, the Japanese government set up a special task force at the emergency management center of Prime Minister Taro Aso's office.
In New York, Yukio Takasu, Japan's UN ambassador, met with the Russian ambassador and requested an emergency meeting of the UNSC.

In Hanoi, the Japanese Foreign Minister Nakasone sought China's support for Japan’s push to produce a UNSC resolution, and gained the ROK Foreign Minister’s agreement that the two countries “"call for the U.N. Security Council to convene an emergency meeting on the issue as early as possible."

During a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Aso and President Obama, the two leaders agreed that the UNSC must swiftly adopt a new resolution to impose “additional sanctions” on North Korea. Two leaders also agreed to encourage China and Russia to cooperate in adopting a new, fresh UNSC resolution.

On 26 May (KST), the Japanese House of Representatives unanimously endorsed a resolution at a plenary session condemning North Korea’s nuclear test, slamming it as an “act of violence.” The Japanese ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner, the New Komeito Party, issued a joint statement calling on the Japanese government to put forth efforts in seeking the passage of a new UNSC resolution and to impose additional unilateral sanctions on North Korea. The Diet resolution claims that “repeated nuclear tests by North Korea are a grave challenge to the international nonproliferation regime and are entirely unacceptable.” The House of Councilors is expected to adopt a similar resolution soon.

In an effort to confirm the North’s claim of its nuclear test, the Japanese Defense Ministry reportedly dispatched aircraft to take air samples from the sky over Japan.

Chinese Reaction. The Chinese government remained fairly muted about the North’s reported nuclear test; however, in contrast to the 05 Apr rocket launch, it released an official statement via its Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 25 May (KST) expressing its dismay about the latest North Korean action. The statement stopped short of an outright condemnation, but it was the harshest and most direct criticism of North Korea since the nuclear test in Oct 06. In the statement, China stated that it is in “resolute opposition” to the test, and that it “strongly demands that North Korea abide by the non-nuclearization commitments, stop related actions that may lead to further deterioration of the situation.” The statement also urged “all parties concerned to respond calmly.”

On 26 May (KST), the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said that China has directly “conveyed its position” to North Korea and that “China has been maintaining contact throughout with all relevant parties.” At a press briefing, a Chinese foreign ministry official stated that China will demand that North Korea fulfill the obligations it assumed during the Six-Party Talks on its nuclear program. The official stated that the Chinese side hopes that all the parties will work with China on “solving this problem by peaceful means through dialogue and negotiation.” These comments reiterated the Chinese foreign ministry’s official statement released a day earlier.

Russian Reaction. Reacting to the reported nuclear test, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on 25 May (KST) that North Korea has violated the UNSC Resolution 1718 and that the North’s nuclear tests have dealt a serious blow to the international efforts to strengthen the Nuclear NPT. The Russian State Duma deputies told Interfax on 25 May (KST) that the UNSC should apply economic sanctions against North Korea. The Chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee stated, however, that the security issue with North Korea should only be handled through talks. Along the same line, the Russian Foreign Ministry told Itar-Tass that Russia has urged other countries “not to go off into hysterics” or “overreact” in connection with the nuclear test.

On 26 May (KST), the Russian Foreign Ministry told Itar-Tass that Russia believes a new UN resolution on North Korea should not envisage an international isolation or blockade of North Korea. On the same day, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Borodavkin said Russia will not use “unilateral sanctions of any kind” against North Korea. He also stated that Russia believes that there is still a chance for North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks. The Russian President’s Office, on the other hand, issued a statement on 26 May (KST) condemning the North’s nuclear test.

United Nations Reaction. Over the past 48 hours, the US, UK, Australia, France, Germany, the EU, NATO, and others throughout the international community also condemned the North's activity. On 25 May (EDT), the UNSC held an emergency session and issued a statement calling the test a “clear violation" of UNSC Resolution 1718, which bans North Korea from any ballistic missile and nuclear activity. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply disturbed" by North Korea's nuclear test and later issued a statement deploring it as a violation of UNSC resolutions. On 26 May (EDT) the UNSC’s five permanent members, along with Japan and the ROK (dubbed P5+2), started a closed-door meeting to discuss the UNSC course of action against North Korea. As of the time of this report’s publication, the UNSC P5+2 had concluded its first meeting and the US UN Ambassador Susan Rice said the P5+2 had “very good, productive, initial talks” on the draft resolution against North Korea. The Japanese UN Ambassador Takasu told the reporters after the meeting that “there is a strong understanding” that the 15-nation council will send “a strong message” to North Korea.

Monday, May 25, 2009

North Korea Conducts Second Nuclear Test

At 1200 PM (noon), 25 May (Korea Standard Time), North Korea's Korean Central Broadcasting Station (KCBS) ran the following Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) communique declaring a "successful" underground nuclear test.

Full translated English text below:

At the demand of our scientists and technicians, another round of underground nuclear testing was successfully conducted on 25 May 2009, Chuch'e 98, as part of the measures to enhance the Republic's self-defensive nuclear deterrent in all directions.

The nuclear test at this time was safely conducted at a new high level in terms of explosive power and control technology, and the test result enabled the smooth resolution of scientific and technical issues for further increasing the power of nuclear weapons and incessantly developing nuclear technology.

The success of the nuclear test at this time is greatly encouraging our army and people who have risen up as one in the 150-day battle, vigorously igniting the flame of new great revolutionary upswing for opening the gate to a powerful state.

With the power of military-first, the nuclear test will contribute to safeguard the sovereignty of the country and the nation and socialism, and guarantee peace and security on the Korean peninsula and its neighboring regions.

Friday, May 22, 2009

In and Around North Korea: 16 - 22 May 2009

North Korea wants the US to change its ‘hostile’ policy and Bosworth ways he will not visit North Korea to revive the Six-Party Talks until the two American journalists are freed
  • The North Korean state media said on 17 May that North Korea will not come back to the negotiation table unless the US and the ROK give up their "hostile policy" towards it.
  • The North also said it will never attend the Six-Party Talks aiming to end Pyongyang's nuclear program, and will strengthen its nuclear power no matter what other nations have agreed in the Six-Party Talks.
  • A ROK government official said on 17 May the US special envoy for North Korea policy will visit North Korea to seek ways to revive stalled Six-Party Talks only after two American journalists are released.

US Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff calls on North Korea not to conduct a second nuclear test
  • Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Monday urged North Korea to refrain from conducting another nuclear test or any other provocative acts that might further isolate the communist North
  • Speaking to a forum at the Brookings Institution, Mullen, however, would not predict whether North Korea will actually detonate another nuclear device in the near future, after testing one in 2006

No ministerial meeting between US and North Korea'
  • According to reports on 20 May, US Secretary of State Clinton and her North Korean counterpart Pak Ui-chun will not have ministerial talks during a regional forum in July.
  • Clinton and Pak are to attend the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Thailand from 17 – 23 Jul, which triggered speculation that they may hold talks on the sidelines of the forum.
  • Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported the US has no plan to hold a meeting with North Korea, quoting an unidentified official of the State Department.

China to continue trying to bring North Korea back to talks
  • China, the chair of the six-party talks for denuclearizing North Korea, expressed on 21 May its plan to continue trying to bring Pyongyang back to the negotiations after its announcement to pull out, former Japanese Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said.
  • Kawaguchi told reporters that Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi made the comment in talks with her and former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans, who are in Beijing to chair an international meeting on nuclear nonproliferation.
  • "We were told that China, as the chair of the six-party talks, will continue trying to bring North Korea back to the meeting," Kawaguchi told reporters.

North Korea's point-man on inter-Korean relations Executed
  • Sources said on 18 May North Korea executed its point-man on South Korea last year, holding him responsible for wrong predictions about Seoul's new conservative government that has ditched a decade of engagement policy toward Pyongyang.
  • Choe Sung-chol, who as vice chairman of the North's Asia-Pacific Peace Committee had pushed for bold reconciliation with Seoul's previous liberal governments, disappeared from public sight early last year amid reports that he was fired.
  • Rumors spread in January that he was forced to work at a chicken farm, but a number of sources privy to North Korean internal affairs told Yonhap News Agency that Choe was executed last year to shoulder the blame for inter-Korean relations, which changed drastically with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's inauguration.

Is Kim Jong-il grooming his second son to be the successor?
  • A news report said on 20 May, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is grooming his middle son as successor, not the youngest son as has been widely speculated, quoting a former North Korean political aide who defected.
  • Kim Jong Chol is holding a secret high-level post in the North's ruling Workers' Party as part of his successor training and reports directly to the leader, Seoul's Dong-a Ilbo newspaper quoted defector Kim Duk Hong as saying. The 29-year-old "is highly likely to take over the father's post," Kim said.
  • Kim explained his reasoning and said, “Jong Chol is working as the General First Vice-Director of the Guidance Department after entering the Central Committee of the Party. He receives reports from the three other First Vice-Directors, takes them to Kim Jong-il, receives instructions from Kim Jong-il and controls the other departments.”
  • Kim said, “In the early 1970s, in North Korea not Kim Jong-il but Pyong-il was in the limelight as the successor to Kim Il Sung, but the final successor was Jong-il. The situation of Jong Cheol and Jong Un looks like that.”
  • 20 May's report contrasts with widespread media speculation that leader Kim considers the middle son too "girlish" to become leader, and is grooming the third and youngest son, Jong Un, 26, as his successor.

New signs that point to Kim Jong-il’s third son, Jong Un, as an potential heir
  • An Osaka-based activist organization recently reported students in North Korea are singing songs in praise of Kim Jong-il's third son and potential successor, Kim Jong Un.
  • The students said they were forced to practice the song all day long instead of taking their regular classes, and could not return home until they had thoroughly memorized it.
  • The group’s report said, "The fact that schools are teaching students to sing such songs is tantamount to officially declaring the heir (to North Korea)."
  • The report also states North Korean troops were ordered to shout slogans in praise of Jong Un, e.g., "Let's protect Gen. Kim Jong Un — the young general, the morning star general who inherits the bloodline of Paektu — with all our hearts."

N. Korea's 2008 trade hits record US$3.8 bln
  • A report said on 18 May North Korean trade with the outside world, excluding South Korea, hit a record US$3.8 billion last year.
  • Trade jumped 29.7 percent compared with 2007, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, a South Korean trade agency, said in the report. Last year, North Korea's exports rose 23 percent to $1.13 billion with imports climbing 32.7 percent to $2.69 billion, the report said. The country still posted a trade deficit of $1.56 billion for the year.
  • The report also showed that China's influence on North Korea's moribund economy is rising quickly. The communist nation exported $750 million worth of goods to China and imported $2.03 billion last year. "North Korea's trade with China hit a record last year and keeps growing," the report said.

China's economic influence over North Korea grows
  • China accounted for almost three-quarters of North Korea's total trade last year and its economic influence over the impoverished state is expected to grow further, data showed.
  • The North's trade volume with the world, excluding South Korea, was 3.82 billion dollars in 2008, the highest figure since 4.17 billion dollars in 1990, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency said in a report.
  • Trade with China accounted for 73 per cent of the total compared to just 33 per cent in 2003.

UNDP officials to visit North Korea to discuss reopening office there and resuming suspended projects
  • UNDP officials visited Seoul last week and discussed the matter with ROK officials, and are to visit Pyongyang later this month to discuss resuming projects suspended two years ago; the UNDP office will reopen in June at the earliest.
  • The UNDP had conducted development projects in the North since 1981, but withdrew in Mar 07 soon after suspicions arose over North Korea's misappropriation of development funds.
  • UNDP officials made the decision to return in Jan after North Korea allegedly agreed to guarantee independent auditing and alter the payment and selection of North Korean staff, previously selected by the North, not by the UNDP.

US Secretary of State says no US aid to North Korea unless Pyongyang returns to Six-Party Talks
  • The US Secretary of State Clinton said on 20 May (EDT) that the US will not provide any economic aid to North Korea unless the North returns to Six-Party Talks on ending its nuclear ambitions.
  • "We are not going to expend one penny of those funds in the absence of their voluntary return to the six-party talks and their resumption of the obligations that they've already agreed to," Clinton told a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. "This money is, you know, there as a backstop in the event we see the kind of changes in actions that we're looking for from the North Koreans."
  • Clinton was discussing the US$98 million the Barack Obama administration has asked for in next year's budget to provide heavy fuel oil and cover the disabling of North Korea's nuclear facilities under a Six=Party Talks agreement.

Trader Held Over Export of Military-Usable Trucks To N. Korea
  • Japanese police said a trader was arrested on 19 May on suspicion of attempting to export to North Korea via South Korea two large tanker trucks that can be converted into launch pads for ballistic missiles.
  • The police said the suspect was identified as Chong Rin Chae, 50, a South Korean national, who runs a trading house and uses the Japanese name of Tadao Morita. Chong, a resident of Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, on the Sea of Japan coast, has denied the allegations.
  • The police said exports of such trucks from Japan are restricted under the foreign exchange and trade law because they can be converted into military equipment, such as vehicles for transporting and launching missiles. Traders must apply for permission to export products that can be converted for military use.
  • Investigations showed that Chong allegedly shipped the two used tanker trucks to the stopover port of Busan in South Korea for export to North Korea from Kobe port in Japan on Jan. 28 last year without gaining permission from the minister of economy, trade and industry, the police said. Each truck is capable of carrying about 12 tons.

US maintains weapons trade embargo on North Korea for lack of cooperation on terrorism
  • The United States has maintained North Korea on its list of countries subject to weapons trade embargoes for their lack of cooperation in U.S. anti-terrorism efforts.
  • "Pursuant of section 40A of the Arms Export Control Act and Executive Order 11958, as amended, I hereby determine and certify to the Congress that the following countries are not cooperating fully with United States antiterrorism efforts: Cuba, Eritrea, Iran, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Syria and Venezuela," James Steinberg, deputy secretary of state, said in a statement in the Federal Register dated 08 May.
  • The designation is separate from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, from which North Korea was dropped in October when then Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill visited Pyongyang to agree verbally on a verification protocol for the North's nuclear facilities.

Seoul calls for 'unconditional' talks with North Korea over the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) and the ROK Unification Minister rules out shutdown of KIC
  • South Korea urged North Korea on 18 May to unconditionally return to the dialogue table to discuss the fate of the KIC.
  • The call came after the communist nation rejected Seoul's two previous proposals for a follow-up meeting to talks held on 21 Apr, at which Pyongyang demanded wage hikes and payment of land use fees.
  • An official at the ROK presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said, “Notifying the other side of a unilateral decision and telling them to either accept it or leave the country is simply unacceptable.”
  • The ROK Unification Minister said on 18 May that the ROK is not considering closing the KIC despite the "crisis."
  • On 21 May, the ROK Unification Minister urged the North to respond to the ROK’s dialogue proposal over the KIC.

North Korea proposes new rules on the KIC
  • A ROK spokesperson said on 21 May that North Korea has presented new rules for South Korean firms operating at the KIC, including a US$10,000 fine for destroying roadside facilities.
  • In its latest proposal sent at the end of Apr to South Korea's management office in Kaesong, North Korea laid out detailed rules for using and maintaining roads, they said. It demanded fines of up to $10,000 for destroying roadside grave stones and other stone markers and $30 for damaging trees.
  • The draft also calls for a $1,000 fine for building road blockades without permission, a $500 fine for lacking safety measures in road construction, $50 for unregistered operation of caterpillar bulldozers and tractors harmful to pavement surfaces and $30 for jaywalking.
  • The ROK Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong-joo said the proposal is part of a "routine" process in setting up detailed regulations rather than a politically motivated gesture.

US likely to provide terrorism related intelligence to the ROK
  • A ROK military source in Seoul, Korea, said on 17 May the US may provide confidential terrorism intelligence to the ROK troops overseas.
  • According to the government insider, Washington is planning to provide real-time information about regional developments collected by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
  • The two governments have been discussing a memorandum of understanding outlining the information-sharing plan, the source added. "After the MOU is concluded, reports will be delivered to the Cheonghae unit in Somali waters and the Dongmyeong unit in Lebanon," said the source. "I am aware that both countries are also discussing whether to dispatch some DIA agents to those units."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

In and Around North Korea: 09 - 15 May 2009

North Korea vows to bolster nuclear power, citing US hostility and US says North
Korea will face ‘consequences’ if it carries out its threats
  • On 08 May, North Korea said there is no use in trying to talk with the US an vowe to bolster its nuclear deterrent, citing US remains “hostile” toward it.
  • Stephen Bosworth, who was visiting South Korea on 08 May, dismissed Nort Korea’s claim saying the US continues its efforts for bilateral and multilateral dialogue with the North. He made clear that if North Korea puts its threats into action, it will face “consequences.”
  • On 10 May, a South Korean government official said the US has no intension of sending a high-level envoy to North Korea or take any other steps to revive the Six-Party Talks. The official said in a background briefing for reporters on the results of US-ROK consultation with Stephen Bosworth added the US believes that it has done enough to convey its willingness to engage the North in both bilateral and multilateral talks and that “there can be progress in dialogue only when a partner responds (to proposals for talks) and shows interest.”
  • He said, "They want to kill the six-party talks." When asked if he expected North Korea to carry out another nuclear test, Saymore said, "I think they will. That's what they are threatening to do." He did add, however, he would consider over the next couple of weeks whether to visit North Korea.
  • Stephen Bosworth returned to the US on 12 May after visiting China, South Korea, and Japan. Originally, Bosworth was scheduled to visit Russia, but cancelled his trip, sending Sung Kim to Moscow in his place.

Russia and US calls for resumption of Six-Party Talks
  • A Russian diplomat said on 13 May Russia and the US are against putting to much pressure on North Korea, and urged the resumption of the Six-Party Talks.
  • Foreign Ministry Special Ambassador Grigory Logvinov met with Sung Kim on the same day about the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula.
  • The Interfax News Agency quoted Logvinov as saying after the meeting, "We discussed in detail various aspects of the situation, putting an accent on the main thing – the search for solutions should be sought on diplomatic negotiating tracks without too much fuss and without drama, to say nothing of attempts to put pressure."
  • "The common wish is that the six-party process be resumed one way or another. And all the gains achieved – a great deal has been achieved – must be saved," Logvinov said, "We must not lose what we have done in terms of denuclearization and in terms of starting the effort to lay the groundwork for regional security in Northeast Asia."

A US scholar says North Korea may double its plutonium stock in half decade
  • Siegfried Hecker, a Stanford University professor who has visited North Korea multiple times, said on 13 May North Korea may double its stockpile of plutonium for nuclear weapons by 2013, producing enough for one bomb each year with its existing fuel.
  • Hecker also said the North may have started work on its 14,000 unused fuel rods as early as this month.
  • Fuel rods are reprocessed to produce the plutonium needed to build nuclear bombs after undergoing irradiation in a reactor. North Korea reported last year it has 30 kilograms of plutonium in storage.
  • In retaliation for the UN condemnation of its 05 Apr rocket launch, the North said last month that it was quitting the Six-Party Talks and had begun reprocessing 8,000 spent fuel rods. Hecker said in an article posted on the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, "These 8,000 spent fuel rods could contain as much as 12 kilograms of plutonium.”

North Korea claims nuclear weapons serves as deterrent as it continues its rhetoric against the US, commenting on the speech of the Commander of US Forces Korea
  • On 12 May, North Korea reiterated that its nuclear weapons are for deterrenc and acquiring the deterrence was “entirely just,” citing the 22 Apr comments by the Commander of US Forces Korea on the US commitment to provide a nuclear umbrella for Seoul.
  • The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said “Walter Sharp, commander of the U.S. forces in South Korea, recently blustered that the U.S. would be firmly committed to providing a nuclear umbrella to south Korea, asserting that the 'U.S.-South Korea Mutual Defense Treaty' would remain valid even after the transfer of the 'right to command wartime operations' to South Korea.”
  • The KCNA said the US pressure on North Korea to dismantle its nuke while simultaneously talking about the "provision of a nuclear umbrella to south Korea," is almost tantamount to forcing it to lay down its arms.
  • The KCNA also said, "It was entirely just for the DPRK to have acquired nuclear deterrent for self-defence to cope with the ever-more undisguised moves of the U.S. for a nuclear war.”
  • North Korea’s Rodong Shinmun made a similar claim on 05 May.

North Korea subordinates the Operations Department and Office 35 under military control
  • Sources said on 10 May North Korea has carried out a reshuffle of government organizations, shifting the jurisdiction over its overseas espionage and cash cow operations – Office 35 and Operations Department – from the Workers' Party to the People’s Armed Forces.
  • The Operations Department is known to train and send agents to the ROK, US, and Japan, but its recent operations are believed to have shifted toward trades of arms, drugs and fake bills. "North Korea's Operations Department handles a large amount of cash through illegal activities such as counterfeiting currency, manufacturing drugs and exporting arms," a source said. "With the Operations Department now under its wing, the North Korean military will have a major source of independent financing."
  • Office 35 is North Korea's intelligence unit in charge of collecting information from the ROK, Japan, China, Southeast Asia, and Europe.

Kim Jong-un apparently increasing his visibility in North Korea
  • Open source reporting said on 11 May the third and youngest son of Kim Jong-il has been increasingly visible on official occasions and masterminded the country's major publicity stunts, such as a recent fireworks extravaganza, in an apparent bid to burnish his image as a successor.
  • Kim Jong-un, who is believed to have been tapped in Jan 09 as the North’s next leader, has been seen making efforts to elevate his reputation by organizing the 15 Apr fireworks show and initiating an economic reconstruction drive, called the "150-day campaign."
  • The reports contend that Kim Jong-un is responsible for initiating the 150-day campaign,  nationwide movement to rebuild the country's sickly economy by maximizing its labor force during the period. The reports say the labor campaign, which started to appear in North Korean media reports this month, is a copy of the "70-day campaign" his father launched to rev up production amid a global oil price crisis in 1974.

North Korea seeks help from PETROBRAS to prospect for oil in East Sea
  • On 11 May, North Korean Foreign Minister Pak Ui-Chun expressed to Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim North Korea’s interest in receiving assistance in its oil prospecting efforts fro PETROBRAS (Brazilian Petroleum Corporation).
  • The deposit in question would be the hydrocarbons field in the East Sea (aka Sea of Japan)
  • Park arrived in Brasilia on a stop during a Latin American tour that included visits to Cuba and Peru.
  • The ministers also had a “clear” dialogue on controversial subjects, including human rights and the North Korean nuclear program, and Amorim expressed Brazil’s opinion that the North should maintain the Six-Party Talks.

Japanese government report says North Korea made progress in extending its
missile range
  • The Japanese Defense Ministry has concluded in a report that North Korea launched a long-range ballistic missile in April to test and improve its missiles and has made progress in extending their range.
  • The summary of the report states that the launch of what appears to have been either a Taepo Dong-2 or an improved version could lead to the enhancement of the accuracy of the Rodong medium-range missile, which is capable of striking Japan.

North Korea steps up force mobilization along the Northern Limit Line (NLL)
  • Since the Jan 09 announcement, North Korea has breached the NLL three times in Feb 09 and Mar 09, said a ROK colonel overseeing Yeonpyeong Island.
  • "Each ship reached about two to three kilometers into our territory," he said, adding livefire artillery training has also doubled this year along the North Korean coastline.
  • Stating that the number of sorties by North Korean aircraft rose six times from a year earlier, he said about 100 fighter jets and surveillance airplanes took off from bases south of Pyongyang on 07 Apr, just two days after the missile launch.

North Korea sets date for trial of two US reporters
  • North Korean state media said on 14 May that two US female journalists detained in North Korea for illegally entering the country will stand trial on 04 Jun.
  • Analysts suspect North Korea may be following in the footsteps of Iran, which arrested, tried and released a female American journalist amid diplomatic contacts with the US over the past few months.
  • The Korean Central News Agency said in a one-sentence report, "The Central Court of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea decided to try (the) American journalists on 04 Jun according to the indictment of the competent organ."

North Korea tells the South there will be no chance of serious dialogue between the two Koreas
  • A spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said in a statement carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency said, "There simply is no need to even consider holding talks between the North and the South while the Lee Myung-bak group is publicly trying to smear the name of our republic and bluntly denying the republic."

Second Kaesong meeting between two Koreas is uncertain
  • A ROK government official said, “The government has tried to negotiate with North Korea on the matter of holding a second Kaesong meeting sometime within the week. We see the second Kaesong meeting as necessary to maintaining momentum for inter-Korean dialogue, however, we have not been able to come to an agreement with North Korea about it due to a huge gap in opinions.”
  • Regarding the agenda, the ROK is demanding to talk about South Korean employee, who has been detained for 45 days by North Korea, as a prerequisite to the discussions about wage and land use fees in Kaesong.
  • In the afternoon of 15 May, the ROK proposed to the North a meeting next week to discuss the KIC issues to include that of the detained South Korean worker.

ROK Ministry of Unification closes North Korea humanitarian aid unit to make room for an North Korean internal politics analysis unit
  • On 12 May, the ROK’s unification ministry closed its bureau on humanitarian aid to North Korea and launched a new office designed to better analyze Pyongyang's internal politics as part of the ROK government restructuring and reorganization.
  • The Cabinet approved the ministry's proposal to shut down its Humanitarian Cooperation Bureau and set up the tentatively-named Political Analysis Bureau, Kim Jung-tae, assistant minister for planning and coordination, said in a press briefing.
  • Kim explained, "The restructuring aims to strengthen the ministry's long-term unification policy and intelligence analysis and merge overlapped low-level units."

South Korea and IAEA meet to discuss North Korea and other pending issues
  • Olli Heinonen, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)'s deputy director general for safeguards, held a series of meetings with officials at South Korea's foreign ministry, science and technology ministry, and the presidential office in Seoul on 12 and 13 May.
  • Heinonen arrived in South Korea on 10 May for a five-day stay during which he will also attended a regional forum on implementing an IAEA accord. He met with the Vice Foreign Minister Shin Kak-soo, top nuclear negotiator Wi So'ng-rak, and Oh Joon, deputy foreign minister for international organizations, global issues and treaties.

ROKAF reports Chinese military tried to hack into the ROK Embassy in the US last
year
  • According to an annual publication that details the defense capabilities of global powers, China operates a “Red Hacker” unit of about a million hackers mainly attacking the US, Japan, and Taiwan.
  • The publication said, the hackers, including those recruited from the US institutes such as MIT, attempted to hack systems at the South Korean Embassy in Mar 08, citing ROK military intelligence.
  • The case marks the first time the ROK has publicly asserted that the Chinese military has tried to hack into its diplomatic office abroad.

Friday, May 8, 2009

In and Around North Korea: May 02 - 08, 2009

A senior US government official mentioned, for the first time, that North korea is likely to conduct a nuclear test before it is forced back to the Six-Party Talks
  • President Barack Obama's policy coordinator for weapons of mass destruction, Gary Saymore, said Pyongyang was trying to divide the five other countries involved in the disarmament negotiations and was looking for ways to provoke problems.
  • "It's very clear that the North Koreans want to pick a fight," he said at an event at the Brookings Institution on 01 May.
  • He said, "They want to kill the six-party talks." When asked if he expected North Korea to carry out another nuclear test, Saymore said, "I think they will. That's what they are threatening to do."

A Council on Foreign Relations report published last month stated that North Korea already possesses a small nuclear arsenal, but lacks the capability to deploy it
  • The report, co-authored by former US Secretary of Defense William Perry, said, “North Korea has already built a small nuclear arsenal and shows no signs of being willing to negotiate it away.”
  • The report said North Korea, which tested an atomic device in Oct 06, "may not have the ability to deploy nuclear weapons."
  • The report, also chaired by former U.S. National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, urged Washington to engage in "aggressive diplomacy" to revive multilateral talks aimed at ending the nuclear pursuit.
  • "Any chance of success with North Korea and Iran will require aggressive diplomacy that fully involves the Obama administration in close cooperation with other relevant international actors," the report said.

U.N. Secretary General urges North Korea to return to the Six Party Talks
  • On 04 May, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged North Korea to return to the Six-Party Talks, which he described are the best mechanism for peaceful denuclearization of North Korea.
  • According to a transcript posted at the U.N. web site, "With respect to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, despite the current serious challenges, I continue to believe that the six-party process is the best mechanism to achieve the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner," Ban told the Third Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2010 NPT (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) Review Conference, held at U.N. headquarters in New York.
  • Ban said, "I therefore urge the DPRK to return to these talks so that everybody can resolve their respective concerns through dialogue and cooperation, based on the relevant Security Council resolutions as well as multilateral and bilateral agreements."

Stephen Bosworth states, after meeting his Chinese counterparts, that the US reiterates its desire to engage both multilaterally and bilaterally with North Korea
  • Stephen Bosworth said on 07 May, after holding talks with his Chinese counterparts, that the US hopes to engage bilaterally and multilaterally with North Korea to solve tensions through dialogue.
  • He said he had "very good" meetings with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei, the chair of the Six-Party Talks.
  • Bosworth said, "We had extensive discussion of where we are and talked about the way forward."
  • He said, "The United States reiterates its desire to engage both multilaterally and bilaterally with North Korea, and we believe very strongly that the solution to the tensions and problems of the area now lies in dialogue and negotiation."

A ROK daily’s analysis says that North Korea’s target of harsh rhetoric has shifted from South Korea to the US and the international community, since the missile launch and the UN Presidential Statement, condemning it.
  • The daily's survey showed drastic drop in the North's offensive index against the South from 1,340 in March to 285 in April, whereas the North delivers back-to-back 'nuclear threats' to the United States, which appears to aim at DPRK-US confrontation structure.
  • A change is being perceived lately in the appearance of North Korea's external offensives. Since the launch of a long-range rocket and the opening of the Supreme People's Assembly in early April, North Korea has resumed contact with South Korean authorities and reduced the level of offensives toward South Korea, while making threats of armed provocation toward the United States and the international community.

North Korea releases rhetoric against the United Nations accusing it of being unfair
  • On 04 May, North Korea accused the United Nations of being unfair to countries not aligned with the United States, citing its condemnation of Pyongyang's 05 Apr rocket launch as evidence.
  • The Rodong Sinmun, said in a commentary carried by the Korean Central News Agency that the Security Council "continues to adopt unjust documents under U.S. instigation," and its Apr 13 presidential statement condemning the North Korean launch is "obvious evidence" of its unfairness.

North Korea releases rhetoric against the US, commenting on the speech of the Commander of US Forces Korea
  • Between 03 and 07 May, North Korea released a total of five reports denouncing the speech General Sharp, Commander of US Forces Korea, made on 22 Apr. The reports reaffirmed the North Korea’s position that it will retain nuclear weapons “as long as the US continues to provide the nuclear umbrella” for the ROK.
  • The reports contained the usual rhetoric denouncing the ROK-US alliance, military preparedness, combined exercises, and OPLANs.
  • These reports appears to convey the North’s justification for its latest threats of additional nuclear test, ICBM launches, and uranium enrichment.

North Korean rhetoric against the US focusing on the increase of US defense budget for 2010
  • On 06 May, North Korea criticized the US government for raising its defense budget for 2010, saying its huge defense spending prompts Pyongyang to “bolster” its own military force in defense.
  • US Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently unveiled a plan to increase Washington's defense budget 4 percent on-year to US$534 billion for the next fiscal year.
  • The North said, "Not a small portion of the US defense budget goes to attempts to threaten and invade our country by its military means. To cope with the accumulating military threat from the U.S., it is exceedingly just and indispensable that our nation continues to bolster our self-defense power."

North Korea will begin what it calls the “150-Day Battle”, a nationwide campaign to restore its economic infrastructure starting 10 May, the anniversary of the foundation of the Workers’ Party
  • It has been reported that the North Korean authorities have instructed committees of the Party to undertake a “150-day battle” to achieve enhanced production targets. The instruction was conveyed to the entire membership of the Workers Party in a secret letter from the Central Committee of the Party in March.
  • A source from North Pyongan Province told The Daily NK on the 04 May, “The 150-day battle will progress from 10 May, the foundation day of the Workers’ Party, to 10 Oct. The fundamental aims are the construction of houses, the normalization of farming and railroads and enhancing the activities of local factories and mines.”
  • The reason why Pyongyang is encouraging members of the Workers Party to embark on the 150-day battle is nothing less than its own salvation; to build a “strong and prosperous state” by 2012 in the current situation where foreign aid is decreasing due to several recent, provocative acts including the missile launch of 05 Apr.

An increase of activities on the construction site at Tongchang-ni missile test area as well as at Punggye-ri
  • Chosun Ilbo reported North Korea has been speeding up construction of a new long-range missile test site in Tongchangri, North Pyongan Province. And vehicles and personnel are busily moving around in Kilju, North Hamgyeong Province, where the North conducted an underground nuclear test in 2006.
  • "The North has recently been speeding up construction at the test site in Tongchangri by deploying more equipment and personnel," a South Korean government official said on 06 May. "We expected the North would complete construction sometime late this year, but it now seems that it could be completed several months earlier."
  • Construction of the test site began eight years ago and was 80 percent complete last September.

The US State Department’s announcement that it is reviewing whether to relist North Korea as a sponsor of terrorism
  • The United States said on 30 Apr that it was reviewing the status of North Korea to decide whether to relist it as a state sponsor of terrorism.
  • "The State Department is in the process of reviewing the DPRK's status as what they call a not-fully-cooperating country," said Ronald Schlicher, acting coordinator of counterterrorism at the State Department, at a news briefing to mark the release of the department's annual country reports on terrorism. The list does not include North Korea.
  • "That review is part of a broader process of identifying the countries not fully cooperating," Schlicher said. "And decisions in that whole process, including North Korea, should be coming in the next few weeks."
  • The annual report said that North Korea "was not known to have sponsored any terrorist acts since the bombing of a Korean Airlines flight in 1987."

North Korea’s renewed warning that South Korea’s participation in PSI will be regarded as a declaration of war and it will bolster its nuclear force in self-defense
  • North Korea on 04 May renewed its warning that South Korea's participation in a US-led security campaign will be regarded as a declaration of war and vowed to bolster its nuclear force in self-defense.
  • The warning has been repeated by North Korea several times since the Seoul government announced its plan in early April to expand its participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) aimed at curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. South Korea is currently an observer in the campaign.
  • The North published in a commentary, "For traitor Lee Myung-bak to speak of full participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative is a public declaration of military confrontation against us and of war provocation to invade the North."

South Korean Unification Ministry’ announces that that it will close its bureau in charge of humanitarian aid to North Korea
  • South Korea's Unification Ministry is set to close its bureau on humanitarian aid to North Korea as part of its restructuring, officials said on 04 May, a move that mirrors frozen political relations.
  • The restructuring plan, when approved by a Cabinet meeting on 06 May, will shut down the Humanitarian Cooperation Bureau established in late 1996, ministry officials said.
  • The bureau has been in charge of sending humanitarian aid to the North, arranging reunions of families separated by the Korean War and assisting with the resettlement of North Korean defectors in the South.

South Korean Foreign Ministry announced it has expanded its nuclear task force
  • South Korea has expanded its nuclear task force to deal with North Korea's warning that it will conduct a second nuclear test, a foreign ministry official said on 04 May.
  • The ministry added non-governmental nuclear experts and government officials to the ad hoc unit launched in April last year so as to strengthen its technical analysis, the ministry official said, requesting anonymity.
  • The expanded task force, led by Seoul's deputy chief envoy to nuclear disarmament talks, Hwang Joon-kook, includes officials from the ministries of foreign affairs, national defense and unification, the National Intelligence Service and the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae as well as think tank experts and scholars, the official said.

South, North Korea may meet again about the KIC as early as next week
  • A spokesman said on 07 May that South Korea will "soon" respond to the North's proposal to begin negotiations over a joint industrial park, and the meeting may take place as early as next week.
  • Pyongyang proposed in government-level talks on 21 Apr that the two sides open negotiations to discuss wage hikes and contract revisions for the joint park in the North's border town of Kaesong.
  • "Our government will soon send our proposal on the date," Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Ho-nyoun told reporters.
  • "Our government position is that the next talks should be able to ensure the safety of our citizens (in Kaesong) and the stable development of the Kaesong park," Lee Jong-joo, the ministry's deputy spokeswoman, said.

North Korea says it is on high alert to deter the influx of the H1N1 influenza and so far there are no cases of the contagion
  • North Korea said on 06 May there are no cases of influenza A in the country, but it is on high alert to prevent the inflow of the highly infectious virus found in South Korea.
  • North Korea's state media have been quick to report the global epidemic since it was first reported in Mexico late last month.
  • The Korean Central News Agency said, "With regard to the A-type influenza -- H1N1, swine flu -- rapidly spreading in South Korea, (North Korea) is strengthening quarantine projects on high alert."

Monday, May 4, 2009

North Korea's Latest Justification for Keeping Its Nuclear Program

On Apr 22nd, Speaking at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Commander of ROK-US Combined Forces Command (CFC) and US Forces Korea (USFK), General Sharp, stated that the US will continue to offer South Korea protection under its nuclear umbrella after the 2012 transfer of wartime operational control. General Sharp stressed to the group that “the Mutual Defense Treaty will remain effective" after the transfer, and that the US and ROK militaries, although separated after the Apr 12 transfer, will continue to operate according to one military operation plan, and not two.

On May 3rd, North Korea’s Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) released a report commenting on General Sharp’s Apr 22nd speech (KCNA headline: “US and Lee Group’s Reckless War Moves Under Fire”). The report referenced a Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland’s press statement released earlier in the day.

Accusing the U.S. and the Lee Myung-bak group of frantically kicking up rackets of confrontation with the DPRK and a war of aggression against it, getting vociferous in describing the DPRK's satellite launch for peaceful purposes as a sort of "provocation, threat and violation of a UN resolution" and the like, the statement went on: The present situation goes to clearly prove that the U.S. hostile policy towards the DPRK has not changed at all and that the Lee Myung-bak group is a group of wicked traitors and warmongers keen to impose a nuclear war disaster upon the Korean nation in collusion with outside forces. 
Now that the sinister intention of the U.S. and the south Korean puppets playing the role of a shock brigade for it has been brought to bold relief, the DPRK will go straight in the direction of bolstering up its nuclear deterrent for self-defence as it had already clarified.
The U.S. and the Lee group had better stop at once their reckless moves for a war, properly understanding who their rival is.

The timing of this report seems to be in part a response to the UN Security Council’s position that it has no intension of retracting its adoption of the presidential statement or apologize for the adoption. Further, it also appearstobe a response to the US position that it will not provide any aid to North Korea unless the North stops its provocations and return to the Six-Party Talks, that the US will only conduct direct bilateral negotiations through the Six-Party forum, and that the US will review the status of North Korea to decide whether to relist it as a state sponsor of terrorism.

North Korean Endgame: Working toward Full Political and Economic Relations

A continuing leitmotif of North Korean regional foreign policy is to establish full political and economic relations with the US – including a peace treaty between the two countries.  This goal has been a centerpiece of North Korea’s foreign policy with the US since the signing of the Agreed Framework on 21 Oct 94.  North Korea cites Paragraph II of the 1994 Agreed Framework as the basis of its argument whenever it claims that the US is not living up to “agreed” commitments regarding North Korea.  Recent North Korean events such as the missile launch, withdrawal from the 6PT, and threats to extract plutonium from spent fuel rods, conduct a 2nd nuclear test and additional ICBM launches are all designed to cajole the US into bilateral negotiations, paving the way for an eventual normalization of bilateral relations.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

In and Around North Korea: April 25 - 1 May, 2009

North Korea reconfirms to Russia its decision to withdraw from the Six Party Talks
  • According to the North Korean foreign ministry, top North Korean officials reaffirmed their country’s decision to quit the Six-Party Talks during a meeting with the visiting Russian foreign minister on 24 Apr.
  • The unidentified North Korean spokesman said, "the Russian side reconfirmed its stand against U.N. sanctions against North Korea and paid attention to North Korea's stand that there is no need to hold the six-party talks any longer.”

North Korea says it resumed reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods
  • North Korea said on 25 Apr that it has restarted extracting plutonium from spent fuel rods.
  • The announcement by the North's foreign ministry came just hours after the UNSC froze foreign assets of two firms and a bank in North Korea over their suspected ties to missile and nuclear programs.

US Secretary of State says US will not be “blackmailed”
  • Responding to North Korea's purported reactivation of its plutonium-producing facilities, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on 25 Apr that Washington wants dialogue with Pyongyang, but the communist country should first retract its brinkmanship.
  • "We're not going to be blackmailed by the North Koreans," Clinton said during her surprise visit to Baghdad.
  • "We're going to crack down in conjunction with the Chinese, the Russians, the Japanese, the South Koreans and other allies to try to ... tighten the band around North Korea so that they cannot do that," Clinton said.
  • The secretary emphasized, however, that Washington wants to talk with Pyongyang to resolve the crisis. The Secretary said, “We hope that we will be able to resume discussions with North Korea that will lead to their assuming responsibility for denuclearizing the peninsula.”

US will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-weapons state
  • The United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-armed country, State Department spokeswoman Megan Mattson said on 25 Apr, "We will not accept North Korea as a nuclear-weapons state."
  • "The United States remains committed to the six-party goal of the complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner through the six-party talks," the spokeswoman said.
  • The United States will "seek full implementation of the Sept. 19, 2005 Joint Statement under which North Korea committed to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and return, at an early date, to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to IAEA safeguards," she added.

South Korea urges North Korea to rejoin the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
  • Seoul officials on 27 Apr reiterated call for North Korea to return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty during the international NPT meeting in May.
  • South Korea will send Oh Joon, Deputy Foreign Minister for International Organization, Global issues and Treaties, to the Third Preparatory Conference for parties to the NPT, which will be held from 04 – 15 May in New York.
  • Moon Tae-young, the South Korean foreign ministry spokesman, said earlier in the day the forthcoming NPT meeting is meaningful as it comes as US President Obama seeks to bolster the regime.

U.S. hints at bilateral talks with North Korea due to idled Six-Party Talks
  • On 30 Apr, the United States hinted at its willingness to engage in bilateral nuclear negotiations with North Korea amid slim chances that the North will return to the Six-Party Talks.
  • The US State Department spokesman Robert Wood said, "If we have to look at other options, diplomatic options, we certainly will."
  • Wood added, "There is skepticism about the North's intentions, and it doesn't appear likely that the North, at least from the signs we have seen so far, is willing to return to the negotiating table."

North Korea vows “merciless strike” against the US
  • North Korea marked the 77th anniversary of the Korea People’s Army (KPA) on 25 Apr with vows of a “merciless strike” against the US and its allies, which it accuses of attempting an invasion.
  • The national event for the KPA follows a UN action to sanction the North for its 05 Apr rocket launch.

Lavrov says Russia is ready to begin projects to launch North Korean satellites
  • Russia is ready to begin projects with the North Korean on launching its satellites with the help of Russian boosters, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after talks with his South Korean colleague Yu Myung-hwan.
  • "Russia is cooperating with many countries in aerospace, including launches of satellites by our boosters, including with South Korea. We are ready to work with North Korea on developing similar projects," Lavrov said.

Sources say Kim Jong-il’s third son is appointed to a post in the National Defense Commission
  • Multiple sources privy to North Korean affairs said Kim Jong-il has appointed his third son, Kim Jong-un, to a post in the National Defense Commission (NDC), apparently a sign of being groomed as the North’s next leader.
  • "Kim Jong-un had been appointed to a low-level post, called 'instructor' at the National Defense Commission days before the first session of the 12th Supreme People's Assembly meeting was held" on April 9, the source said.
  • Another source also said that Jong-un works at the commission, but that his exact post remains unconfirmed.

South Korean president says South Korea-Russia gas deal will help North Korea
  • President Lee said on 25 Apr a tentative deal to pipe natural gas from Russia via North Korea would greatly benefit the North and help it become a member of the international community.
  • South Korea signed a memorandum of understanding with Russia in September to pay $90 billion to import 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year - a fifth of its need - for 30 years after 2015 via the pipeline from eastern Siberia.
  • "If the project succeeds, a great amount will be paid to North Korea and it will offer them a big help," Lee told the visiting Russian foreign minister.
  • "Such efforts will improve relations with the North and also help North Korea become a member of international community... I believe the North will be also interested," Lee said.

Stephen Bosworth says US is has no immediate plans to strengthen sanctions against North Korea
  • US special envoy to North Korea Stephen Bosworth has told a group of families of Japanese abductees that the U.S. has no immediate plans to strengthen its sanctions against Pyongyang.
  • After a meeting with the envoy at the US State Department on 27 Apr, Shigeo Iizuka, the head of the group, told reporters that there were some differences of opinion.
  • In the meeting, the Japanese group reportedly asked Washington to beef up sanctions against Pyongyang and put the North back on its list of state terrorism sponsors.
  • Bosworth, however, said the US has no intention of imposing additional sanctions at the moment, adding that additional sanctions would most likely have no effect on the North in regards to the abductee issue.

Secretary Clinton says US will not give aid to North Korea without nuclear talks in progress
  • Secretary Clinton said on 30 Apr that the US government will not provide economic aid to North Korea unless Pyongyang stops making nuclear and missile threats and returns to the Six-Party Talks.
  • "We have absolutely no interest and no willingness on the part of this administration to give them any economic aid at all," Secretary Clinton told a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.
  • She said, "They are digging themselves into a deeper and deeper hole with the international community."

US urges North Korea to improve human rights record
  • The US State Department spokesman Robert Wood said, "We remain deeply concerned about the human rights situation in [North Korea]."
  • "We will continue to press [North Korea] to improve its human rights record," said Wood.
  • Wood's remarks coincide with the observance of North Korea Freedom Week.

UN Security Council Sanctions Committee sanctions three North Korean companies
  • The UNSCSC called for a freeze of assets of three North Korean companies it says are involved in the arms trade, as well as updating a lengthy list of items that North Korea will now be prohibited from either importing or exporting.
  • The sanctions committee designated the Korean Mining Development Trading Corporation and Korea Ryonbong General Corporation, as well as Tanchon Commercial Bank as subject to an asset freeze.
  • Sanctions Committee Chairman, Turkish Ambassador Baki Ilkin, said the committee also agreed to update a long list of items N. Korea will now be forbidden to import or export.
  • Diplomats close to the talks said those items are basically the same ones that are included in the Missile Technology Control Regime and include certain rocket systems, missile-related components and related technology.
  • Amb. Yukio Takasu said his government is very pleased that the council made what he called an 'extraordinary' effort.
  • "I hope that this unity of the council could send, I hope, a good signal to rest of world, because a decision by the sanction committee is binding upon member states," the GOJ Amb. Said.
  • All 192-member states of the United Nations are obligated to enforce the sanctions committee's designations of goods and entities - whether they will or not remains to be seen.

North Korea threatens to conduct nuclear and ICBM tests
  • North Korea says it will conduct nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests if the United Nations Security Council does not immediately apologize for its condemnation of the North's recent rocket launch.
  • In a 29 Apr statement, the North's Foreign Ministry said it will also start building a light-water reactor and develop technology to produce nuclear fuel, implying that it will begin its uranium enrichment program.

South Korea will propose to North Korea for talks next week
  • According to a Blue House official, South Korea plans to propose holding talks with North Korea next week, most likely on Thursday, on issues concerning the Kaesong Industrial Complex as the North demanded at the inter-Korean meeting last week.

Stephen Bosworth due in South Korea next week
  • The top American envoy on North Korea plans to visit South Korea late next week as part of his regional trip aimed at exploring ways to persuade Pyongyang back into the denuclearization process.
  • "We are in consultations with the US for Special Representative Stephen Bosworth's trip to Seoul next week," the official said, "An exact schedule has yet to be decided, but he is likely to come here in the latter part of the week."
  • He added that Bosworth will also visit other related countries including Japan, China, and Russia, but it is uncertain whether he will also travel to North Korea.