PN's Voice 53

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 53, 04-08-2015
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PN's Voice No. 53  04. 08. 2015 
Small steps, Road to peace

ROK-US Well Equipped to Detect N. Korean Missiles Despite New Cover

South Korea and the US are well equipped to detect any signs of a North Korean missile launch despite the reported cover being installed over the North Korean launching pad, the Defense Ministry said Monday. Japan's Kyodo News reported earlier in the day that the North is installing a cover over the Tongchang-ri rocket launch pad to "evade surveillance by spy satellites."

South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok said in reaction to the report that the cover will make it difficult for South Korea and the US to catch any missile assembly activities inside but “The South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities will detect the signs well enough through various intelligence tools if the North pushes for a long-range missile provocation such as the one the country did in the past under the cover of a satellite launch."

According to South Korean government officials, North Korea has almost completely modified the launch facility near the western coast as the country is preparing a possible long-range missile launch in time for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers' Party on Oct. 10.
Source : Yonhap News

S. Korea Not to Ask Ex-First Lady to Deliver Message to N. Korea

The Unification Ministry confirmed yesterday that it is not considering asking a former first lady to deliver a government message on inter-Korean relations to North Korea during her visit this week. Lee Hee-Ho, the widow of former President Kim Dae-Jung, plans to visit North Korea from Wednesday to Saturday for humanitarian purposes.

Park Soo-Jin, the deputy spokeswoman for the Unification Ministry, said in a press briefing that the ministry won’t ask Lee to convey a special message to the North on the Seoul government's behalf as “Lee will visit the North in a private capacity.” Deputy spokeswoman Park also confirmed that "government officials will also not accompany Lee" on her journey north of the border.

In early July, the North threatened to cancel Lee's visit if Seoul continued to make provocations against Pyongyang. However, the Kim Dae-Jung Peace Center, the organizer for the trip, said that North Korea sent a letter earlier in the day to confirm its invitation of the 19-member delegation to the North. The center said the delegation includes seven officials from the center and three others from a humanitarian aid agency founded by Lee Hee-Ho. The ex-first lady will also be accompanied by two secretaries, four security guards, a photographer and a videographer. South Korean journalists will not be allowed to accompany the delegation to cover Lee's trip.

Lee's visit is raising expectations that it will help ease the strained inter-Korean ties, as the two countries are to mark the 70th anniversary of their liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule this year.
Source : Yonhap News

Regional Powers to Meet as N. Korea Defends Nukes

All the members to the six-party talks are set to meet in Malaysia this week, drawing attention to whether any progress will be made in the nuclear standoff with North Korea and other tensions among the neighboring states. The six countries -- the two Koreas, Japan, China, Russia and the United States -- will join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and other partner states for a series of annual ASEAN-led meetings to be held in Kuala Lumpur starting Wednesday. Among them, the security-focused ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) on Thursday is expected to be watched closely as it's the only gathering to involve North Korea. It will be their first meeting since the U.S. and other world powers struck a deal with Iran last month to curb Iran's uranium enrichment program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Although officials and experts highlight major differences between Iran and North Korea, they also agree that fresh momentum has been added to the six-party talks due in part to the Iran deal's demonstration that negotiations can work. The six-party talks have not been held since late 2008 after North Korea backtracked on past agreements. Bringing North Korea back to the negotiating table has gained urgency especially as the reclusive state is widely expected to launch another provocation, possibly a long-range missile test, in October to mark a key anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party.

South Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, Hwang Joon-Kook, recently said Seoul and Beijing share the notion that North Korea stands at a crossroads between completing its nuclear development and returning to denuclearization talks. North Korea has so far indicated no interest in talks, insisting its nuclear weapons are a deterrent against U.S. hostility toward it.

The ARF in Malaysia will also set the stage for a meeting between Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se and his North Korean counterpart, Ri Su-Yong.

Expectations of a formal bilateral meeting are low, however, as tensions between the sides remain high over various issues, including Seoul's efforts to increase international pressure on Pyongyang over its human rights abuses. Last year, the two ministers briefly met on the sidelines of the ARF meeting in Myanmar, but they did not hold talks. Both Koreas will likely engage in competitive diplomacy with the ASEAN states to include a clause in the chairman's statement, which will summarize the discussions at the ARF meeting. South Korea has sought to include a clause each year that urges North Korea to abide by U.N. Security Council resolutions and past six-party agreements aimed at North Korea's denuclearization. North Korea's meetings with China and Japan will also be watched as their relations with Beijing have been frayed over the nuclear impasse and progress has been slow in efforts to resolve the issue of Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea in the past.
Source : Yonhap News

Koreans Still Back US Alliance

A recent poll shows that five out of every 10 Koreans believe the US is more important to the country than China. In the poll of 500 adults by Realmeter published on Thursday, some 50.6 percent of respondents put more importance on Korea's relations with the US, compared to 37.9 percent who said China is more important and 11.5 percent who were non-committal.

This was especially true among young and old people. Among 20-somethings, 65 percent said the U.S. is more important, more than double the 25.3 percent who said China matters more. Among people over 60, 63.4 percent said the U.S. is more important. Among those in their 50s the figure was 54 percent. But among respondents in their 30s, 43.7 percent said China matters more, and among those in their 40s a resounding 56.5 percent.

Realmeter speculated that many 20-somethings prioritize security over the economy because they still tend to be influenced by their parents, and their mandatory military service either looms or is fresh in their minds.

Support for the alliance with the US was particularly strong on the right, with 72.4 percent of supporters of the ruling Saenuri Party as against 50.7 percent of supporters of the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy and 56.2 percent of the Justice Party.
Source : Chosun Ilbo

Park Urges Abe to Uphold Murayama & Kono Statements

President Park Geun-Hye has expressed hope that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will clearly uphold his predecessors' landmark apologies in his own statement marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Park made the call on Monday in a meeting with Katsuya Okada, leader of Japan's opposition Democratic Party. The president said that relations of the two nations have grown based on the former Japanese governments’ perception of history as shown in the Murayama and Kono statements.

Regarding the issue of Japan’s wartime sexual slavery, Park called on Japan to resolve the issue with a sense of urgency as the average age of living victims is about 90. On Japan’s controversial security bills, Park said she hoped that Japan will legislate the security law in a way that maintains the spirit of Japan’s pacifist constitution and contributes to peace and stability in the region.
Source : KBS News

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