PN's Voice 29

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 29, 09-02-2015
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PN's Voice No. 29, 09-02-2015


Washington-Seoul Aim to Conclude Nuclear Pact


South Korea and the United States have "effectively" concluded their nuclear cooperation accord that would allow Seoul to reprocess spent nuclear fuel for the purpose of research and development (R&D), albeit in a limited way, South Korean government sources said on Sunday.

Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry held bilateral talks for the first time this year on Saturday along the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, where the nuclear accord’s finalization was discussed.

Over the last four years Seoul has been negotiating with Washington to revise the 1974 accord over Seoul's civilian nuclear energy use, also known as the "123 agreement." Washington, however, has been reluctant to allow reprocessing and enrichment because it fears it could send the wrong signal in regard to global nonproliferation. The revision of the current civilian nuclear cooperation agreement is not expected to include “gold standard” clauses, according to South Korean government officials, which explicitly prohibit uranium enrichment and reprocessing spent fuel. This has been a key point of contention between the two countries in the negotiation process. This means that under a revised accord, South Korea is likely to secure some autonomy in dealing with spent nuclear fuel for R&D purposes if doing so does not pose any risks of nuclear proliferation. Currently, Seoul should seek consent from the United States case by case when tinkering with spent nuke fuel.

This issue has become an increasingly pressing one as South Korea, which derives more than a third of its energy from nuclear reactors, expects to run out of storage space for spent fuel in the next decade.
Source : Yonhap News, JoongAng Daily


North Korea Tests Five Missiles

NK fired five short-range missiles off its eastern coast on Sunday in a demonstration of its improving missile technology, the South Korean Defense Ministry said. The five projectiles were launched from locations near Wonsan, a coastal town east of Pyongyang, and flew about 200km northeast before plunging into the East Sea, an anonymous South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman said.

The North’s missile launches are the North’s second missile firings this year. The North test-fired a ship-to-ship rocket on Friday in the East Sea, with its leader Kim Jong-Un observing the firing. Under Kim, the North has conducted missile and rocket tests more often than in the past. It is developing an intercontinental ballistic missile and trying to make a nuclear warhead small and sophisticated enough to fit onto the missile, according to US and South Korean officials.

South Korean officials have said that some of the North’s frequent tests of short-range missiles in recent years have indicated that the country is developing missiles capable of more efficiently targeting United States and South Korean military bases south of the inter-Korean border.

Images of the missile launch revealed that the missiles appeared identical in design to a Russian anti-ship missile, the KH-35. Jeffrey Lewis of the California-based Monterey Institute of International Studies was the first to spot what appeared to be an unconfirmed glimpse of the missile in a North Korean propaganda video, last June. Officials from North Korea have made frequent trips to Russia over the past year, where leader Kim Jong-Un is scheduled to make his first official state visit this May. “The design raises a question about whether, when, and under what circumstances, Moscow might have assisted North Korea in the development of the system,” Lewis said.

North Korea has long used missile launches as an expression of anger toward the outside world, and Sunday's firings were seen as a show of force in the run-up to annual joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises that Pyongyang condemns as a rehearsal for invasion of the country.

The United States responded to this latest missile launch by urging North Korea to stop threats and take steps toward denuclearization after the communist nation fired a barrage of short-range missiles in a move seen as a protest against upcoming U.S.-South Korea military exercises.

"We call on the DPRK (North Korea) to immediately cease all threats, reduce tensions and take the steps toward denuclearization needed to resume credible negotiations," a State Department representative said in emailed comments to Yonhap News Agency. "Our annual joint military exercises with the Republic of Korea (South Korea) are transparent, defense-oriented, and have been carried out regularly and openly for roughly 40 years," the official said.
Source : KBS News, 38 North, The Guardian, The NY Times


Senior US Official Hints at Willingness to Negotiate with N. Korea

Daniel Russel, a senior US State Department official hinted that Washington may be prepared to negotiate with the current leadership in Pyongyang. “A change in North Korea does not mean to be regime change, as the example of Burma shows,” said Russel, the US assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs during a press conference last week at the Foreign Press Center in Washington. Russel added that “we don’t have a hostile policy [toward North Korea], we have a denuclearization policy.”

However, despite hinting at the US’ willingness to negotiate with the North, Russel was quick to stress that this would only be the case if Pyongyang is willing to “fulfill the mandate of the U.N. Security Council resolutions to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.” Russel articulated the US’ desire to avoid repeating mistakes of previous futile efforts to tackle the North Korean nuclear problem; “The issue is this. Will North Korea agree to negotiate denuclearization in the six-party context and . . . how will we know that there is a sufficient prospect of making progress toward denuclearization to warrant restarting that entire effort?”

US Special Representative for North Korea Policy Sung Kim echoed Russel’s message the same day, calling for stronger sanctions against North Korea but affirming that Washington remains committed to finding opportunities for sincere dialogue. Kim said, “if the North Koreans are willing to talk seriously about the issue of denuclearization, we’re willing to look for an opportunity to do so…I think that’s been our consistent position, approach for a long time.”

Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un watched a joint Navy-Air Force exercise to prepare for strikes on hypothetical US military targets at sea on Saturday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency said.

Russel’s message was interpreted as an attempt to ease rising tensions between the US and North Korea, after Pyongyang refused dialogue in the wake of recent remarks about the nation’s regime collapse by US President Barack Obama during an interview with YouTube.
Source : The Hankyoreh


Unification Minister Says Sanctions on North Could be Lifted if Dialogue Takes Place

Unification Ministry Ryoo Kihl-Jae said last week that South Korean sanctions against North Korea could be lifted if the two sides have dialogue. Analysts read the remarks as signaling a more open stance from the administration, which previously said it would only “discuss” lifting the so-called “May 24 measures” if Pyongyang agreed to dialogue.

“This year is the 70th anniversary of liberation, so the administration is planning to allow as much [exchange and cooperation] as possible in areas like society/culture, religion, and sports,” he explained.

Another factor addressed by Ryoo was North Korea’s special economic zone development projects. Ryoo explained that “North Korea isn’t going to come right out and say it, but there have been messages that they would appreciate South Korea’s help…If North Korea is pursuing economic openness, then their economy could develop very quickly with South Korean help…We can’t do that now because of the nuclear issue.”

While insisting that North Korea’s “attitude on the nuclear issue and other issues needs to change,” Ryoo also stressed the importance of Seoul taking the initiative; “obviously, we have to make the first efforts to change that…There is no objection whatsoever to the idea that we need to be act more preemptively and flexibly.”
Ryoo went on to stress the importance of dialogue; “even if [North and South Korea] have conflict, we still have to meet,” he said. “And I think that if we do meet, North Korea is obviously going to try some tricks and fail to keep its promises. But we still have to meet. We have to keep working to convince them to honor their promises.”
Source : The Hankyoreh

Int'l Female Activists to March from Pyongyang to Seoul in May
The Peace Development Fund, a non-profit group, announced yesterday that female activists from all over the globe will march from Pyongyang to Seoul in May to express their wish for inter-Korean peace. The Peace Development Fund said around 30 female activists will be participating in the march, which will see them cross the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) bisecting the Korean Peninsula, on May 24. The activists include American feminist Gloria Steinem, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire and Chung Hyun-Kyung, a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, the organization said.

The Peace Development Fund, a non-profit group, announced yesterday that female activists from all over the globe will march from Pyongyang to Seoul in May to express their wish for inter-Korean peace. The Peace Development Fund said around 30 female activists will be participating in the march, which will see them cross the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) bisecting the Korean Peninsula, on May 24. The activists include American feminist Gloria Steinem, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire and Chung Hyun-Kyung, a professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, the organization said.

The two Koreas are technically at war since the Korean War in 1953 ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
Source : Yonhap News







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