PN's Voice 39

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PN's Voice 39, 23-04-2015
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PN's Voice No. 39, 23.04.2015 
Small steps, Road to peace 


China Warns N. Korean Nuclear Threat Is Rising

China's nuclear experts have warned that North Korea may already have as many as 20 nuclear warheads and can produce weapons-grade uranium to double its nuclear arsenal by next year, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. The Chinese estimate of North Korea's nuclear capability, which was conveyed to U.S. nuclear scientists during a closed-door meeting in February, is higher than previous U.S. estimates of the North's nuclear arsenal.

A well-stocked nuclear armory in North Korea ramps up security fears in Japan and South Korea, neighboring U.S. allies that could seek their own nuclear weapons in defense. Washington has mutual defense treaties with Seoul and Tokyo, which mean an attack on South Korea or Japan is regarded as an attack on the U.S.

North Korea is currently believed to have 10 to 16 nuclear weapons, with six to eight of them based on plutonium and four to eight based on weapons-grade uranium. In February, experts at the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said that Pyongyang's nuclear stockpile could expand to as many as 100 weapons by 2020.
Source : KBS News, Yonhap News, The Wall Street Journal


Kremlin Ready for Bilateral Talks with Kim Jong-Un: Putin Aide

Russia’s presidential aide to Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that the Kremlin is preparing for bilateral contact with Kim Jong-Un during his expected visit to Moscow in May. Yury Ushakov reiterated that North Korean officials had said that Kim would be attending the event on May 9th to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War 2.

“During various contacts with North Korean officials, it was confirmed that Kim Jong-Un is going to come to Moscow,” Ushakov was quoted by Russia’s Interfax News Agency as saying. “We are operating under the assumption that, if a promise to come has been given, it will be fulfilled…We are ready for it, including for bilateral contacts with the North Korean leader,” Ushakov added.

Putin’s presidential aide also said that despite the confirmation and assumption of Kim’s attendance, preparations are still in progress and have not been “fully approved yet.” Although Russian officials had previously stated that Kim would be in attendance, the remarks on the intended bilateral contact on the sidelines of the celebration is a new development.

If completed, Kim’s appearance in Moscow will be the North Korean leader’s first foreign visit since succeeding his father Kim Jong Il in late 2011. North Korean officials and state media outlets have yet to publicly confirm the visit however, in the past, reports on Kim Jong Il’s foreign visitations were not generally published domestically until he had returned from overseas.

Russia and North Korea have been steadily increasing bilateral ties and have set about streamlining legal and logistical processes to facilitate further economic cooperation. The two countries are aiming to increase bilateral trade to $1 billion by the year 2020. 2015 was also recently declared a “Year of Friendship” between Russia and North Korea, which was ushered in with a ceremony in Moscow on April 14.
Source : Yonhap News, NK News


Abe Stops Short of WWII Apology

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed “deep remorse” Wednesday for Japan’s World War II aggression at a summit attended by Asian leaders, but stopped short of repeating previous apologies in a move that risks angering Beijing and Seoul. While Abe has declared he will “uphold” milestone apologies from 1993 and 1995 in concept, he has shied from repeating their exact language, which talked of “deep remorse and heartfelt apology” for Japan’s colonial rule and aggression during World War II, including coercion of women into sexual slavery in military brothels.

However there were also signs of a thaw with China, with Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping shaking hands as the summit in Indonesia got underway and a Tokyo official saying that the ground was being laid for the pair to meet on the sidelines. A new meeting would be a significant step toward easing long-running tensions over Tokyo’s wartime past and territorial disputes. The leaders have only met once before, at a summit in November last year in China, where they shared an awkward handshake, but have never had a formal sit-down.

The speech by Abe at the Asia-Africa Summit in Jakarta was being closely watched for clues about a statement he is due to make later this year marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. At the start of the two-day summit, which commemorates a key conference 60 years ago that helped emerging nations forge a common identity, he offered weaker remarks than previous Japanese leaders — potentially a bad omen for the closely-watched statement later this year.

Referring to principles of peace laid down at the original conference, he told delegates: “And Japan, with feelings of deep remorse over the past war, made a pledge to remain a nation always adhering to those very principles throughout, no matter what the circumstances.”

Earlier in the day, more than 100 Japanese lawmakers paid homage at the Yasukuni war shrine, risking fresh anger from Asian neighbors that fell victim to Tokyo’s aggression last century. The Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed its “disappointment”: “It is an act of negating the premise for Japan to return to the international community after World War II,” a South Korean Foreign Ministry official said. The shrine honors 14 convicted war criminals among many other war veterans enshrined there, he pointed out.

American lawmakers and scholars have also encouraged the Japanese government to proactively address its historical issues. A group of five U.S. lawmakers released statements and made speeches in Congress Tuesday evening encouraging Japan to recognize its wartime aggressions and to use the U.S. visit as a platform to do so. Rep. Mike Honda of California said that Abe’s speech to the Congress is an opportunity for him to make a “full, unequivocal and formal apology on behalf of the Japanese government” and do justice to the victims of sexual slavery by Japan’s military. He criticized the Abe administration’s historical revisionism in regards to the so-called comfort women issue both in the United Nations and in its history textbooks. He said that “given these continued revisionist attempts, for every step forward toward peace and reconciliation, the government of Japan takes two steps back,” and added, “enough is enough.”
Source : KBS News, The Hankyoreh, The Korea Herald


S. Korea - U.S. Reach Deal on Nuclear Cooperation

South Korea and the United States have reached an agreement on their nuclear energy partnerships, wrapping up nearly five years of negotiations, Seoul's foreign ministry said Wednesday. A signing ceremony will be held at the ministry at 4:15 p.m. between Park Ro-Byuk, South Korea's ambassador for nuclear energy cooperation, and Mark Lippert, U.S. ambassador to Seoul, it added.

South Korea's new nuclear accord with the United States is expected to help boost the country's exports of nuclear reactors and related technologies while also improving the competitiveness of South Korean reactors in the global market, government officials said on Wednesday. They said the new nuclear cooperation pact between the two countries may also allow the countries to jointly develop new markets in a third country.

The original pact, known as "123 Agreements," signed in 1974, was scheduled to expire in March last year. But the two sides extended the existing pact to March 2016 to continue negotiations. Under the previous nuclear pact, South Korea had been required to secure prior approval from the United States for the outbound shipment of each and every nuclear part or technology. The new deal states South Korea only needs an one-time endorsement of shipments to any given country with which the United States has a nuclear pact.

"This agreement marks a major milestone for the U.S.-ROK alliance and reinforces the alliance as a linchpin of peace and security in the Asia-Pacific Region," The U.S. embassy in Seoul said in a press release.
Source : Yonhap News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal



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