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PN's Voice 21, 24-11-2014
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PN's Voice 21, 24.11.2014
Small steps, Road to peace

N. Korea Threatens Nuclear Test

North Korea has threatened to conduct a nuclear test in response to the UN’s proposal to refer the case of human rights abuses in North Korea to the International Criminal Court and hold those responsible, including leader Kim Jong-Un, accountable.

North Korea’s National Defense Commission said it firmly opposed the committee’s charges and called the resolution “a malicious plot created by the United States and its puppets” and was a “grave political provocation” by the US. The statement continued on to explain that such aggression “is leaving us unable to further refrain from staging a new nuclear test." The National Defense Commission, which is chaired by North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Un, went on to warn that the US is now the regime’s top target for a “super hard-line” retaliation, and that its military deterrence against the US "will be beefed up limitlessly". The North additionally accused Washington of paying back the generosity the North showed to senior U.S. officials who recently visited the country to release American “criminals” from detention, with the “madness of the human rights ruckus.”

Pyongyang also issued a threat to South Korea, stating that the Blue House’s presidential office will not be safe if a nuclear war breaks out on the peninsula: "Does she (President Park Geun-Hye) think Chongwadae (the presidential office) will be safe if guns roar for aggression and a nuclear war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula?"

If the threatened test goes ahead, it will be the fourth that the North has conducted, after tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013. Pyongyang threatened to hold another test last year, but it did not carry it out after a strong warning from Beijing.
Source : BBC, The Guardian, Daily NK

Ex-President’s Widow Likely to Visit N. Korea

Plans for Lee Hee-Ho, the widow of late former President Kim Dae-Jung to cross the military demarcation line on an overland journey to Pyongyang were confirmed last week. Kim Seong-Jae, the former Culture Minister and director of the Kim Dae-Jung Academy met with reporters at the Dorasan immigration checkpoint in Paju on November 21st after Kim had returned from the Kaesong Industrial Complex, where he had met North Korean officials to discuss Lee’s visit to Pyongyang. Kim told reporters: “in regard to how she will get to North Korea, we agreed on the overland route. For accommodation, we arranged for Lee to stay at the Baekhwawon State Guesthouse, where she also stayed on two previous visits.”

There has been a lot of speculation about whether Lee will meet Kim Jong-Un and all the signs seem to indicate that North Korea is keen to facilitate this. However, it is unclear whether Lee’s visit to North Korea will take place this year. The timing of the proposed visit is still being debated and is something of a contentious issue; the North are reportedly keen for Lee to visit as soon as possible, however Lee is reportedly concerned that is she visits in December, the period of mourning for Kim Jong-Il, Lee could provoke the ire of conservative groups who could accuse her of honoring Kim Jong-Il. To avoid this clash, it’s thought that Lee’s visit will most likely occur next year.

Talks of Lee’s visit to Pyongyang began in August, when North Korean officials delivered a floral wreath to the Kaesong Industrial Complex in memory of Kim Dae-Jung, who passed away five years ago. At the time, Kim Yang-Gon, Director of North Korea’s United Front Department, mentioned that Kim Jong-Un’s invitation for Lee to visit the North was still standing. The standing invitation came about after Lee visited North Korea in 2011 to offer her condolences to Kim Jong-Un after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il.
Source : Hankyoreh


S. Korea Marks Anniversary of Deadly Shelling with Warnings of Stern Retaliation to Future N Korean Attacks.

Yesterday, South Korea's Prime Minister Chung Hong-Won pledged strong retaliation against any North Korean attacks as commemorated the fourth anniversary of the deadly shelling of a West Sea South Korean island, in which two South Korean marines and two civilians were killed in the shelling, with 16 others wounded. The attack is bitterly remembered by South Koreans as the first North Korean artillery attack on home soil since the 1950-53 Korean War.

Defense Minister Han Min-Ko, speaking on behalf of the Prime Minister said "the government and the military will preemptively block the possibility of North Korea's provocations through a water-tight defense posture, and if there is a provocation, we will sternly react to it.” He added, “we should face the reality of our security situation. We should not forget that the freedom and peace we enjoy did not come without costs…the security situation of the Korean Peninsula is very serious." He concluded that “in the face of unceasing provocations by the North, we should be firm in our defense posture more strongly than ever."

This stern warning could well be in response to the North’s recent threat of a nuclear test as well as the numerous missile tests carried out over the last year.
Some 4,500 citizens, including the families of the victims, government officials and students from the island attended the ceremony held at the War Memorial Museum in downtown Seoul.
Source : Yonhap News


Military Drills on both sides of the 38th Parallel

Both North and South Korea carried out military drills recently, with the South Korean military performing a drill on Dokdo today, while reports of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un leading a drill last week were revealed yesterday.

The South Korean military drill was conducted to deter trespassers on its disputed easternmost islets of Dokdo on Monday, the defense ministry said. The exercise involved Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard officers, as well as around six destroyers and convoys, fighters and patrol planes, according to ministry officials. Exercise of this nature are nothing new; they have been carried out twice a year since 1986, with the last one taking place May 30, despite protests from Japan, which has long laid claim to Dokdo, stoking tensions between the Tokyo and Seoul.

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s role in guiding a joint military drill was believed to highlight the North’s improved combat readiness, amid the North's repeated threats of retaliation against a recent United Nations resolution on its human rights situation.

A South Korean military official, who spoke to Yonhap News anonymously, speculated that the North’s drills were probably in retaliation to the South’s recent Hoguk military drills: "North Korea conducted the drill on a small scale and didn't inform South Korea in advance. It seems like the North abruptly conducted the exercise in response to the South's live-fire drill that was held two days ago."
Source : Yonhap News, The Korean Herald


38 North: N. Korea May Be Extracting Plutonium for Bombs

38 North, a website run by The U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said last week that new satellite images indicate that North Korea may have removed fuel rods from its five-megawatt nuclear reactor, and could be set to extract weapons-grade plutonium from them to create bombs.

Satellite images taken on November 4th show steam coming from a cooling tower used by a laboratory that reprocesses plutonium from spent fuel rods into weaponry, suggesting that the facility is nearing operation again. Truck activity can also be seen near the door to the building that receives spent fuel rods. Whilst the think-tank stated it is too soon to reach a definitive conclusion, a lack of venting steam from the reactor for 10 weeks means that North Korea could have taken it offline to remove “a limited number of fuel rods.” The website’s report stated that the apparent shutdown of the reactor is longer than is needed for regular maintenance.

The reactor at Yongbyong, north of Pyongyang, is North Korea’s only known source of plutonium for bombs. It has been shut and restarted repeatedly over the past few decades. North Korea is generally believed to have collected enough plutonium-based fissile material from Yongbyon to arm up to 10 small bombs. It has conducted three atomic-bomb tests, most recently in February 2013. Later last year, satellite imagery indicated the reactor had been restarted for the first time in almost six years.
Source : 38 North


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