PN's Voice 48

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 48, 02-07-2015
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PN's Voice No. 48  02. 07. 2015 
Small steps, Road to peace

S. Korea Gives its Full Support to Lee Hee-Ho’s Visit to North Korea

The South Korea Unification Ministry said yesterday that it will actively support a move by Lee Hee-Ho, the widow of former President Kim Dae-Jung, to visit North Korea as it could help ease tension on the divided peninsula. The ministry said in a report to the National Assembly that it plans to closely cooperate with the Kim Dae-Jung Peace Center to make Lee's envisioned visit a success."The government plans to provide necessary support for the visit," the report showed. Lee Hee-Ho’s trip to the North has been on the cards since Kim Jong-Un wrote a letter to her in December of 2014 thanking her for sending flowers as a mark of respect for the third anniversary of the death of his father and former leader Kim Jong-Il. In the letter the North’s ruler also invited Lee to visit North Korea.

Representatives from both North and South Korea met on Tuesday to discuss the former first lady’s proposed visit to North Korea. During the meeting, representatives from the South told the North that Lee hopes to visit during July, however no date was officially set. The desire to visit in July is believed to be down to the fact that both the Koreas will celebrate the 70th anniversary of their independence from Japan in August. Currently there are no plans in place for a joint-celebration but Lee’s visit could change that. The South appears to be pushing for a July visit because of concerns that if the visit is delayed until August, it could get caught up in a tug-of-war between the North and South Korean authorities over an event celebrating the anniversary of Korea‘s liberation from Japanese colonial rule on August 15. With little chance that North and South Korea will jointly host the event, it might look as if Lee were congratulating North Korea’s separate event, which would defeat the purpose of her visit.

The South may also be keen for Lee to visit as soon as possible to try and diffuse the rising tension between the two Koreas. North Korea has intensified its verbal attacks against South Korea following the United Nations' establishment of a field office tasked with monitoring the North's dismal human rights situation. Pyongyang has said Seoul will face catastrophic fallout in inter-Korean ties due to the office opening.
p style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0); line-height: 1.6;" align="left">Touching on inter-Korean cooperation, the ministry said it plans to propose a pilot run of a train that would travel along railways that link the two Koreas if talks between the two sides are resumed. South Korea hopes to eventually link its rail network to Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway via North Korea under President Park Geun-Hye's Eurasia initiative that calls for logistics development among Eurasian nations by linking their railroads.
Source : The Hankyoreh, Yonhap News, KBS News

US Official: "US Not Willing to Hold Dialogue with N. Korea"

A White House official says the United States isn't willing to hold talks with North Korea at the expense of giving up its "own capabilities." U.S. Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes said at a recent seminar held by the Aspen Institute in Washington that North Korea and Iran ended up obtaining nuclear weapons despite warnings from the Bush administration.

Rhodes' comments were taken by analysts as a sign that the U.S. is not willing to hold dialogue with the North at the expense of meeting Pyongyang's demand that Seoul and Washington stop joint military exercises in exchange for not engaging in further nuclear tests.
The Obama administration has extended its nuclear talks with Iran while it has announced an agreement to open an embassy in Cuba, but analysts say it is becoming less likely that the United States will have dialogue with the North during the remaining year and a half of the U.S. president's term.
Source : KBS News

Seoul Rebuffs Possible Nuke Weapons Deployment

The government rebuffed Wednesday calls from U.S. experts for the need to place tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) on the Korean Peninsula."Korea has declared the denuclearization of the peninsula," said an official of the Ministry of National Defense on the condition of anonymity. "We will never consider having tactical nuclear weapons here."

The statement came after former Pentagon official and executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, Henry Sokolski, indicated the need to reassign TNW on the peninsula amid escalating nuclear threats from North Korea. During a discussion held at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, Sokolski said he worked at the Pentagon in early 1990s when the United States withdrew TNW from the peninsula. At the time, he believed deterrence against Pyongyang could be displayed without such weapons, he said. He claimed that he has met with Seoul's government officials, and that the South Korean people now want such weapons on the peninsula. He went on to say that the U.S. Forces Korea needs to defend South Korea from all possible attacks, adding that once the weapons are on the peninsula, Washington should take extra care to manage them.

The main topic of the discussion was Sokolski’s latest work "Underestimated: Our Not So Peaceful Nuclear Future," which claims addressing the nuclear crisis in North Korea and the problem of nuclear terrorism is all that matters. Observers believe that Sokolski, a noted nonproliferation advocate, made the surprising arguments based on the belief that the U.S. allies Japan and South Korea could move to arm themselves with nuclear weapons to cope with North Korea's strengthened nuclear capability. It was evidenced by his reference to President Park Geun-Hye's recent interview with The Wall Street Journal during which she said a new nuclear test by North Korea could have a "domino" effect by providing its neighbors with the excuse to arm themselves with nuclear weapons.

Clark Murdock, a senior analyst of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, has also produced a report, indicating that TNW need to be placed on the peninsula. He argued that differentiated nuclear forces should forward deploy in South Korea to block the North's nuclear development and provide allied nations with a nuclear umbrella.
Source : The Korea Times

Park Unwavering on her N. Korean Nuclear Policy

President Park Geun-Hye reiterated her two-track North Korea policy on Wednesday, vowing to revive inter-Korean economic projects only if Kim Jong-Un’s regime makes the move to abandon its nuclear weapons development program.

At an inaugural ceremony of the 17th National Unification Advisory Council, Park said she would push ahead with a wide range of economic cooperation with the North if it deserts its nuclear ambition that poses security concerns on the peninsula and beyond, stressing that it is a way for the impoverished state to secure both social stability and economic progress. “Our government has been seeking to operate various forms of inter-Korean projects that can be carried out if the North gives up on nuclear development,” she said. “We will expand exchanges between South and North Koreans by taking the opportunity of a project relinking a railroad line between Seoul and Wonsan, and also constantly seek cooperation in historic excavation projects and in the fields of sports,” she added. She also urged the members of the advisory council on unification policy to prepare for unification of the two Koreas with a clear vision and principle.

However, Park also had words of caution for the North if it didn’t abandon its nuclear weapons program, warning that that North Korea would face harsher sanctions unless it abandons its nuclear weapons programs. Park also urged North Korea to quickly discard the illusion that its nuclear programs will protect its regime; "International sanctions on North Korea will become harsher as long as it does not give up its nuclear program, which in turn could eventually heighten the instability of the North Korean regime.” She also pressed North Korea to come forward for dialogue as she vowed to step up efforts to resume talks. The two Koreas last held high-level talks in February 2014.
Source: The Korea Herald, Yonhap News

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