PN's Voice 27

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PN's Voice 27, 26-01-2015
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PN's Voice 27, 26.01.2015
Small steps, Road to peace

Report Cautions Against Relisting N. Korea as Terrorism Sponsor

A US parliamentary report has cautioned against re-designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, saying it could complicate Seoul’s efforts to improve inter-Korean relations. The Congressional Research Service (CRS), dated January 21, stated that putting the North back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism would not add significant economic punishment to the regime, particularly in the short term, while significantly affecting international diplomacy with the North. The report said that if the measure is enacted, the North will most likely read this as a lack of interest from Washington in conversing with Pyongyang and therefore may resort to further provocations, such as nuclear tests.

The call to relist North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism has risen in Washington since the FBI concluded that the North was behind a massive cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment late last year. President Obama announced that the US will be applying a fresh set of sanctions against the North in the wake of the Sony hacking incident.

The CRS report said that the US indeed could take the measure based on its seizure of North Korean shipments of chemical protection equipment to Syria between 2009 and 2013. Diplomatic pundits, however, say Washington is likely to be prudent in taking action given the negative implications.
Source : Yonhap News, KBS News

Obama: Pyongyang Regime Won’t Last Forever

President Obama described North Korea as “the most isolated, the most sanctioned, the most cut-off nation on Earth,” last week during an interview with three young YouTube personalities. Obama added hinted at Washington’s desire for regime change in North Korea and its desire to hasten it through the Internet, when he said that the Pyongyang regime will eventually collapse with the spread of information into the country with the help of the Internet.

“It’s very hard to sustain that kind of brutal authoritarian regime in this modern world,” he said. “Information ends up seeping in over time and bringing about change. That’s something that we are constantly looking for ways to accelerate.”
However Obama was quick to dismiss thoughts of a military option to affect change inside the North, citing its one-million-strong army and the fear of a war on the peninsula.

“Our capacity to affect change in North Korea is somewhat limited because you’ve got a one-million-person army, and they have nuclear technologies and missiles ... The answer’s not going to be a military solution,” said Obama. He added that South Korea would be “severely affected” if war breaks out on the peninsula, where the United States has some 30,000 soldiers stationed.
Source : JoongAng Daily

N. Korea Mixes Threats with Talks of Dialogue

North Korea told the South on Sunday to get positive about the resumption of dialogue or face stern punishment. A statement release on Sunday by the North’s powerful National Defense Commission spelt out that inter-Korean relations are “deadlocked” and that Seoul go about creating the right mood for dialogue. The statement made it clear that South Korea can set the right conditions for inter-Korean dialogue by stopping the spread of propaganda balloons and cancelling the US-South Korean joint military drills.

The commission went on to claim that Seoul is denouncing Pyongyang’s measures for dialogue as moves to break from its international isolation or to create conflicts within the South: "the South has misinterpreted, distorted and ridiculed our offers that were made with sincerity. We ask to them to refrain from doing so."

The commission concluded by calling for the South’s careful and deep thoughts, adding it is closely watching every move of the South Korean authorities.
South Korea responded on Monday by vowing to maintain strong military readiness against any provocations by the North. Additionally, Kim Min-Seok, South Korea's defense ministry spokesman, dismissed the North’s call to halt the joint military drills by saying: "Our military maintains a watertight readiness posture to sternly respond to any provocations by North Korea and will continue to do so."

Despite the North's call to stop the exercises, which Pyongyang claims are a rehearsal for a northward invasion, South Korea plans to stage Key Resolve, one of its annual major joint military exercises with the U.S., in early March as scheduled, stressing the drills are defensive in nature.
Source : The Korea Times, KBS News, Yonhap News, Yonhap News

Kim Jong-Un to Visit Moscow in May: Possibility of First Overseas Inter-Korean Summit Depends on Present Park's Attendance

On January 21, it was confirmed that Kim Jong-Un would attend a ceremony to be held in Moscow in May, celebrating the seventieth anniversary of Russia's victory against Germany in World War II. Now all eyes are on whether this will have any impact on inter-Korean relations. The situation on the Korean peninsula and inter-Korean relations may face a turning point depending on the responses from South Korea, the U.S. and China.

President Park Geun-Hye's attendance is attracting the most attention. Russia has already sent an invitation to President Park. If Park attends, this may lead to the first ever inter-Korean summit held overseas. Cheong Wa Dae has not released an official response on the president's attendance at the ceremony.

North and South Korea have both publically stated their interest in holding a summit, but given the logistic domestic and international situation such as the conditions and venue, it is no simple matter. But if the summit can be held due to the leaders' attendance at the ceremony celebrating Russia's victory, it will put less political burden on both Koreas and maximize its influence in inter-Korean relations.

The response of neighboring countries eyeing the possibility of such an inter-Korean summit can also be a major variable. In particular, the focus is on how the U.S., which has been in confrontation with Russia since the incident in Ukraine, will respond if both leaders from North and South Korea attend a major international event in Russia.
Source : The Kyunghyang Shinmun

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