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PN's Voice 23, 08-12-2014
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PN's Voice 23, 08.12.2014
Small steps, Road to peace

S. Korean Unification Minister to Visit US

South Korean Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-Jae will embark on a weeklong trip to the United States on Monday as part of the Park Geun-Hye administration’s efforts to draw international support for its attempts to lay the foundations for reunification. During his seven-day stay, Ryoo will meet his American counterpart Wendy Sherman, the acting deputy secretary of the US State Department. The two are expected to discuss Seoul’s policy towards North Korea, as well as the issue of the North’s nuclear program.

Ryoo will also attend the Korea Global Forum in Washington where he will deliver a keynote speech and meet with US experts on Korean Peninsula affairs. The minister will then head to New York to meet with officials from international organizations, including the United Nations Population Fund and the United Nations Development Program.

From New York, Ryoo will travel to Los Angeles and meet with members of a committee of overseas Koreans who are educating the Korean community on unification. He will also deliver a special lecture to a group of Korean American young people before returning home on Sunday.
Ryoo is the first South Korean unification minister to visit the United States since 2011.
Source : The Korea Herald, KBS World Radio

N. Korean and US to hold “Track 1.5” Meeting next Month

A “track 1.5” meeting between Pyongyang and Washington has been provisionally planned for next month in Singapore. The talks would be aimed at renewing attempts to discuss North Korea’s nuclear program.

The US side is reportedly hoping North Korean Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ri Yong-ho, the country’s senior representative to the six-party talks on the nuclear issue, will attend. Likely representatives from the US side include former State Department special representative for North Korea policy Stephen Bosworth and former National Counter Proliferation Center chief Joseph DeTrani.

In the last few months the US has signaled it will be willing to bypass conditions or a specific agenda to engage in bilateral dialogue with North Korea; this is in marked contrast to the US’ approach to the six party talks. The six party talks have stalled and attempts to restart them have hit a stalemate as the US has insisted on sticking to the precondition that Pyongyang takes steps towards denuclearization before the talks can resume. The reasoning behind this change to a more flexible attitude could be the situation unfolding in Ukraine. With Washington and Russia on their worst terms since the Cold War ended, the Barack Obama administration now finds itself having to spend the remaining two years of its term managing issues in China, Iran, and North Korea. Washington may also be feeling the need to be flexible after Pyongyang threatened to conduct its fourth nuclear test, in the wake of the UN resolution condemning the North’s crimes against human rights.

Hwang Joon-Kook, the South Korean representative to the six party talks, indicated that South Korea may have changed their stance on preconditions for resuming the six-party talks. After meeting with Russia’s chief delegate, Igor Morgulov, last week Hwang explained: “We’re not saying that the only way we’ll have dialogue (in the six-party talks framework) is after North Korea goes through one to ten specific steps, the way people seem to understand it.”

Washington also hinted that it could have discussions with Pyongyang to reach an agreement on the conditions for resuming the talks, which it previously said included denuclearization steps on par with the Leap Day Agreement of 2012. However, the chances of a deal being reached quickly look slim, with a vast gulf between the conditions Washington and Seoul are hoping for and Pyongyang’s demand for an “unconditional” resumption of the six-party talks. Additionally, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s blunt denunciations of the US over the UN resolution are a sign of that the human rights issue could be used by Pyongyang as an obstacle to bilateral dialogue.
Source : Hankyoreh

Defense Secretary Nominee Ashton Carter Wanted To Bomb North Korea In 2006

Ashton Carter, Barack Obama’s nominee to replace the outgoing Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense once urged the pre-emptive bombing of North Korea. Carter, who ranked just below Hagel at the Department of Defense until last year, urged in a co-written column with William Perry, the Defense Secretary during the Clinton administration, that the US should bomb North Korea’s test missile before it could launch. The test missile in question was the Taepodong 2, which had the potential, albeit in the long term, to deliver a nuclear warhead to US holdings in the Pacific, including Hawaii; the multi-stage missile tumbled to earth within a minute of a test on July 4, 2006. Carter, who was deputy defense secretary under Leon Panetta, and was in charge of America’s vast nuclear arsenal and led the effort to dismantle and remove more than 8,000 nuclear weapons from states that had been part of the old Soviet Union under Clinton, described his reasoning as follows:

“Should the United States allow a country openly hostile to it and armed with nuclear weapons to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons to U.S. soil? We believe not…If North Korea persists in its launch preparations, the United States should immediately make clear its intention to strike and destroy the North Korean Taepodong missile before it can be launched. This could be accomplished, for example, by a cruise missile launched from a submarine carrying a high-explosive warhead…Diplomacy has failed, and we cannot sit by and let this deadly threat mature. A successful Taepodong launch, unopposed by the United States, its intended victim, would only embolden North Korea even further. The result would be more nuclear warheads atop more and more missiles.”

Carter went on to reason that a strike was necessary as North Korea could extract valuable information even from a failed test. They argued that the US had the military means to prevent North Korea from even attempting to develop weapons capable of hitting American territory, and that the US could take out North Korean capabilities without incurring a substantial loss of life in the process. Carter reassured his readers by explaining that: "as with space-shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral, all personnel would normally be a safe distance away from the rocket at the time, so there should be no collateral damage."
Carter’s opinion is bizarre for several reasons; firstly North Korea's long-range missile program was, at the time as it remains today, incapable of posing serious threat to the US. Secondly, most experts would agree that attacking North Korea would make the country more aggressive and unpredictable, not less. Additionally, North Korea-watchers generally agree that the country's weapons programs are mostly about domestic propaganda and about deterring North Korea's many enemies, not actually intended for aggressive use against the US. Somewhat worryingly, Carter seemed to misunderstand all of this."

Whilst a nearly decade-old article written when Carter was out of government probably doesn't offer much insight into how he would lead the Pentagon, his previous theories on how best to deal with North Korea nonetheless don’t bode well for proponents of nuclear disarmament.
Source : The Economist, Business Insider, The Financial Times

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