PN's Voice 50

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PN's Voice 50, 14-07-2015
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PN's Voice No. 50  14. 07. 2015 
Small steps, Road to peace


N. Korean Pesticide Factory Could Have More Sinister Purpose

A North Korean factory, ostensibly for the production of pesticides, recently visited by leader Kim Jong-Un, may be used to produce biological weapons such as anthrax according to an online report posted by the U.S. based North Korea specialist website 38 North last week. On June 6, the state-run North Korean news media reported that when Kim visited the Pyongyang Biotechnical Institute, he was so happy with scientists’ work there in developing insecticides that he “wanted to carry them on his back.” But 38 North, a website run by Johns Hopkins University’s U.S.-Korea Institute, said photographs North Korean media released with the reports of Kim’s visit showed that the North has been importing dual-use equipment. "Analysis of the images reveals that the facility - the Pyongyang Bio-technical Institute - can produce regular, military-sized batches of biological weapons, specifically anthrax…It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the institute is intended to produce military-size batches of anthrax…Regardless of whether the equipment is being used to produce anthrax today, it could in the near future.”

38 North’s report went on to say that North Korea is violating international sanctions in order to produce weapons of mass destruction. "The modern equipment seen in the images reveal that North Korea is not only maintaining a biological weapons capability, but also has an active large-scale sanctions busting effort to illicitly procure the equipment for the Pyongyang Bio-technical Institute.”

The report ended by saying that the North revealed the facility shortly after live samples of anthrax were "inadvertently" delivered to a U.S. airbase in Osan south of Seoul, in order to show the outside world that it too is capable of developing such weapons.
Source : The New York Times, 38 North


N. Korea to Grant Pardons Next Month

North Korea plans to grant pardons next month to mark the 70th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule and the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea according to the North's media. According to the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea has decided to carry out an amnesty for convicts in the landmark year, which will take effect on August 1st. It did not specify how many people will be granted pardons.
"The DPRK cabinet and relevant organs will take practical measures to help the released people settle down in their works and living," the KCNA said. The move comes amid reports that some mid-ranking North Korean officials have sought asylum to escape the young leader's reign of terror. It is widely designed to placate the public sentiment and reinforce loyalty for the leader, experts say. South Korea's state spy agency earlier said that the North's leader Kim has tightened his grip on his power base in a brutal way, including the execution of about 70 senior officials, since taking office in late 2011. On Saturday, North Korea confirmed the purge of former defense chief Hyun Yong-Chol as it named Pak Yong-Sik the minister of the People's Armed Forces.

The planned pardons would be the first since 2012, when the North made a similar move to mark the 100th birthday of the North's late founder Kim Il-Sung and the 70th birthday of Kim Jong-Il, the late father of the current leader Kim Jong-Un.
Source : The Korea Herald, Yonhap News


N. Korea to Send Officials to Truce Village over NK Sailor Repatriation

North Korea said yesterday that it will send officials to the truce village of Panmunjom this week to take into custody all five North Korean fishermen who were rescued in the South's waters earlier this month. Pyongyang has demanded Seoul to repatriate the five sailors who were found drifting on a vessel due to engine failure and rescued by the South's Coast Guard on July 4th. The South has said that it will send only two North Korean fishermen who expressed their wish to go home, the three others voiced their desire to stay in South Korea.

North Korea's Red Cross sent a notice on Monday saying that its officials, along with the family members of the three fishermen, plan to go to the truce village on Tuesday to take into custody all of them, according to North Korea's key propaganda website, Uriminjokkiri. "We strongly urge South Korea to take actions to allow their family members to meet with the fishermen," it added. The North made its demand as it called on the South on Friday to reveal the identities of the hopefuls for defection and to allow their families to meet with them, a move that Seoul rejected on humanitarian grounds. Pyongyang threatened to take "stern" actions against Seoul if the South does not send all of them back to the North.

The Unification Ministry reiterated its stance that it could not accept the North's demand for a family meeting with the three North Koreans who voiced their desire to stay in the South. "We notified the North that Seoul will repatriate the two sailors on Tuesday at the truce village," the ministry said in a statement. Earlier in the day, the ministry voiced regret over the North's request.

Tension on the divided peninsula remains high over North Korea's provocative actions, including its launch of a ballistic missile from a submarine in May. Despite such tension, the two Koreas have a practice of repatriating civilians who accidentally land in each other's territory. In what could be seen as a conciliatory tit-for-tat, South Korea sent home five rescued North Korean fishermen on humanitarian grounds on June 18th. A day earlier, the North repatriated two South Koreans who allegedly sneaked into the communist nation in May during their trip to China.
Source : Yonhap News, KBS News


English Podcast: Real Security - The Road to Peace

Please check out our recent interview with North Korean expert Professor Moon Chung-In in the fourth and final episode of our English podcast series. Moon Chung-In is a professor of political science at Seoul’s prestigious Yonsei University. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of Global Asia, a quarterly journal published by the East Asia Foundation in Seoul. He was formerly the chairman of the Presidential Committee on the Northeast Asian Cooperation Initiative, a cabinet-level post, and has served as Ambassador for International Security Affairs at the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He has published more than 40 books and hundreds of articles.


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