PN's Voice 31

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 31, 24-02-2015
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PN's Voice No. 31, 24.02.2015 
Small steps, Road to peace 


Seoul Vows Efforts for Headway in N.K. Nuke Talks

South Korea plans to do its best to achieve "meaningful" progress for the resumption of the long-stalled six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing North Korea, the foreign minister said Tuesday. The remarks by Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se came as part of a large diplomatic push by the countries involved in the six-party talks to try and reopen denuclearization talks with North Korea that have been dormant since late 2008.

"Seoul plans to make meaningful progress for the denuclearization of North Korea. Consensus is building that this issue should be promptly resolved," Yun told a forum in Seoul. Yun said that except for North Korea, the other five countries are narrowing their opinions about conditions for the resumption of the six-party talks to a considerable extent. "I believe if Iran's nuclear talks are concluded by a June deadline, they could have a positive effect on North Korea's denuclearization talks," he added.
His remarks came as South Korea's top nuclear envoy Hwang Joon-Kook started his three-day visit to Moscow on Monday to hold talks with his Russian counterpart Morgulov Igor. Hwang and his counterparts from Washington and Tokyo held talks in Japan last month and the Korean envoy also held talks with China's top nuke negotiator Wu Dawei earlier this month.

North Korea has demanded the resumption of the six-party talks without conditions, but Seoul and Washington have said that the North should first demonstrate its seriousness about denuclearization.
Source : Yonhap News, The Korea Herald


U.S. Seeks THAAD Compromise

The U.S. is trying to come to a compromise so that it can indirectly extend its controversial missile shield to South Korea. Currently, Seoul is reluctant to permit the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to be deployed here because its chief aim is to contain China, an increasingly vital regional partner for the South. The THAAD system in question was to come with a radar with a 1,800-2,000 km range, which is capable of monitoring and intercepting Chinese ballistic missiles.

However, there is a shorter-range option. "The high-performance X-Band radar system consists of two models -- an early warning radar with a long range and a phased-array radar with a short range of less than 1,000 km," a South Korean government source said yesterday. The effective range for a phased-array radar is about 600 km, shorter than the 900 km of the Israeli-made Green Pine early warning radar which the South Korean military uses to detect North Korean missile launches. It appears that the U.S. is not pushing this alternative as a compromise that it hopes will ease Chinese fears due to its shorter–range radar.

The South Korean government officially denies that any plans for THAAD deployment exist.
Source : Chosun Ilbo


Seoul: Joint Military Drills Unrelated to Inter-Korean Ties

Yesterday, South Korea's defense ministry reaffirmed its commitment to holding military with the United States as scheduled, despite North Korea's repeated calls to halt them. Seoul and Washington plan to carry out their annual major drills - Key Resolve, a computerized command post exercise, and the field training exercise Foal Eagle - starting in early March to check and boost their crisis management abilities and joint readiness.

South Korean defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok told a regular briefing: "The annual drills to defend the Korean Peninsula have nothing to do with inter-Korean relations.” Kim’s comments came after Pyongyang again demanded that South Korea and the U.S. give up the plan, saying that any inter-Korean dialogue "will go nowhere under these bad circumstances." Pyongyang also warned that it will "bury everyone into the sea for the provocative moves."

Stressing that both Key Resolve and Foal Eagle have been carried out on an annual basis and are defensive in nature, Kim said the South Korean military and the government will "strongly respond to North Korea should it provoke or pose another threat over the drills."
Source : Yonhap News


Kim Jong-Un Calls for NK Enhanced Combat Readiness

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un has called on his country's army to bolster its combat readiness and to reorganize its military capabilities, the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Monday. According to the KNCA report, Kim called on the Korean People's Army (KPA) "to be fully ready to react to any form of war" during an extended meeting of the party's Central Military Commission (CMC). "To this end, it was necessary to simplify the KPA's machinery and indicate the orientation and ways for reorganizing the machinery in a way to realize the strategic intention of the Supreme Command at any time," KCNA quoted Kim as saying, in an English-language report.

Kim clarified the KPA's tasks to develop its armed forces, emphasizing the need to focus all efforts on rounding off combat readiness this year. His remarks came a week ahead of an annual South Korea-U.S. military exercise. North Korea has threatened to take countermeasures if Seoul and Washington carry out the joint military drills, scheduled to last two weeks from March 2nd.

Pyongyang has ratcheted up the rhetoric against the South since South Korean military officials confirmed last month that they would stick to the plan. The regime's state-run newspaper Rodong Shinmun on Monday echoed Pyongyang's frustrations over the South Korea-U.S. joint drill. It warned the drill would bring a counteraction, saying Pyongyang saw it as "nuclear war practice against the North."
Source : The Korea Times


N. Korea's Economy Minister Heads to Russia

North Korea's economy minister left the country yesterday for Russia, according to Pyongyang's media, amid signs of improved ties between the neighboring countries.
Ri Yong-Nam, minister of external economic relations, is leading a government delegation, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a brief report. It did not provide details, including his itinerary and the purpose of the trip. A Seoul-based source said Ri is expected to arrive in Moscow on Wednesday after traveling to Vladivostok and Khabarovsk in Russia's Far East.

The minister's trip comes as speculation grows over whether North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will visit Russia in May to attend a World War II anniversary event.
Source : Yonhap News


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