PN's Voice 18

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 18, 03-11-2014

PN's Voice 18, 03.11.2014
Small steps, Road to peace

N. Korea Launches Ballistic Missile Submarine

South Korean military and government sources announced on Sunday that they believe North Korea has launched a new submarine “capable of firing ballistic missiles” adding to concerns over the North's evolving missile and nuclear threats. An anonymous government source revealed to Yonhap News that North Korea "imported a Soviet-era Golf-class diesel submarine and modified it”; the Soviet vessel was built in 1958 and decommissioned in 1990.

The North’s new vessel was first brought to attention by the website 38 North, who uploaded a report which said that satellite imagery showed an “unidentified submarine” last month in the Sinpo South Shipyard; the Sinpo shipyard is home to the headquarters of the North’s Maritime Research Institute of the Academy of National Defense Sciences. Another source said that in trying to mount a missile tube on the new vessel, the communist country has carried out scores of tests both on the ground and at sea. These comments are in line with arms expert Joseph S. Bermudez Junior’s report that stated that North Korea has built "a new test stand" at Sinpo to research and develop SLBMs (submarine-launched ballistic missiles).

The North has more submarines than the South, albeit being equipped with outdated weapons; it is believed to have some seventy submarines including some twenty 1,800-ton Romeo-class submarines. As part of a push to improve its anti-submarine capabilities following the North's deadly attack of its warship Cheonan in 2010, South Korea is planning to put six 3,000-ton ballistic missile submarines into operation starting 2027.
Source : The Korean Herald,Yonhap News

UN Human Rights Investigator: N.Korea Visit Must Include Access to Prison Camps

The invitation from North Korea to allow UN investigators into the reclusive country to directly assess the human rights conditions will only be accepted by the UN if access to the country’s network of political prison camps is granted. Pyongyang issued its invitation last Monday and linked it to the demand that a UN-mandated report drop a recommendation that North Korean leaders be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for crimes against humanity. North Korea’s prison camps have been of significant concern for the international community due to their links with horrendous breaches of human rights and ghastly conditions.

Talking in an interview last Wednesday with Radio Free Asia, UN special rapporteur on North Korea Marzuki Darusman spoke on the subject of getting North Korea to admit to the existence of the prison camps: “a first visit will have to touch on that—at least the recognition on the part of North Korea that this has to be clarified.” When asked what his approach would be if permission to visit the camps was not give, he replied “then we cannot undertake a visit.”
Source : Radio Free Asia

More Leaflet-Filled Balloons Launched

Despite the raging debate over the release of leaflet-filled balloons, and the clashes that have occurred during recent launches, including an exchange over fire across the DMZ, a further 33 balloons, carrying around a million leaflets, were released early on Friday morning in Pocheon, some 20km from the North Korean border. Despite the launch not being publicized, the police found out about the event and dispatched officers to the scene. However, the police were deployed not to intercept the launch, but rather to protect those taking part in the launch. Lee Min-Bok, the person responsible for the propaganda balloons as part of the Campaign for Helping North Korean in a Direct Way, spoke about the recent launch to Hankoreh via a phone interview:
“After arriving at the site where I was going to launch the balloons around 10 pm on Oct. 30, I finished the preparations and released them without publicizing between 12:30 and 2:30 in the morning on Oct. 31. I launched a total of 33 balloons containing around a million leaflets.”

The leaflets contain criticism of North Korea’s human rights record, the Kim dynasty and Kim Jong-Un’s succession as leader of North Korea. Previously, Lee and his organization launched around 3 million leaflets from Yeoncheon County, Gyeonggi Province, on October 10th. This launch provoked North Korea into shooting down the balloons, which sparked a rare exchange of fire across the two Koreas’ land border. The launch drew fury as it was seen to be endangering local residents, as well as damaging hopes for an improvement in inter-Korean relations.

The North has called on the South Korean government to block the release of the balloons, as have many people in the South. Whilst police have often been present at the launch events, they have never attempted to block the balloons release; during Friday’s launch police were simply protecting the participants, similarly on October 10th police only got involved to break up scuffles. The issue of whether the South Korean government should block the balloon launches is a tricky one as it conflicts with the freedom of speech granted to those living in a democratic society. As the head of public security at the National Police Agency sums up:

“The government’s position on the launch of the propaganda balloons remains the same as before. There are no legal grounds for preventing civic organizations from launching the leaflets. However, we will take the necessary measures when there are concerns about the safety of these individuals,”
Source : Hankyoreh, Hankyoreh

Kerry: China is Helping to Deal with North Korea

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry praised China for its role in pressure North Korea over its nuclear program, reducing fuel oil supplies to its impoverished neighbor and putting restrictions on trade:

"The Chinese are being helpful. They've taken measures way beyond where they were a year ago. When I went to visit last spring, we engaged in a discussion where they agreed to step up their efforts with the North, and they have…they've actually reduced the amount of jet fuel going into the country. They've put limitations on trade going into the country" Kerry said.
"The Chinese are being helpful. They've taken measures way beyond where they were a year ago. When I went to visit last spring, we engaged in a discussion where they agreed to step up their efforts with the North, and they have…they've actually reduced the amount of jet fuel going into the country. They've put limitations on trade going into the country" Kerry said.
Kerry went on to say that Chinese and American hopes were closely aligned; "the hope of the Chinese is that we could get back to six-party talks sooner rather than later. Our hope is likewise," he said. However, he was quick to point out that the U.S. is not interested in holding talks for talks' sake, stressing that Pyongyang should first take concrete steps demonstrating that it will be serious about giving up its nuclear programs once the negotiations reopen:

"We can come back to those talks, and we've offered all kinds of alternative realities to the North that if they did come back and engage in denuclearization, there is a path by which they could receive, ultimately, a normal working relationship with the rest of the world and economic engagement and other things."
Source : Yonhap News

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