PN's Voice 69

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 69, 28-01-2016
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PN's Voice No. 69  28. 01. 2016 
Small steps, Road to peace

Kyodo: Pyongyang May Fire Long-Range Missile Within a Week

North Korea is said to be preparing a long-range missile launch, which may come as early as within a week. Given that the North conducted its fourth nuclear test just a few weeks ago, a missile test would be serious act of defiance against the international community. Japan's Kyodo News cited a Tokyo government source who, based on the analysis of satellite images in recent days, detected signs of a missile launch at the Dongchang-ri launch site in North Pyongan Province.

The U.S. Defense Department declined comment on intelligence matters, but urged the North to refrain from any actions threatening regional stability. "While I won't discuss matters of intelligence, I will say that we urge North Korea to refrain from actions and rhetoric that threaten regional peace and security and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments and obligations," said Cmdr. Bill Urban, a spokesman of the U.S. Defense Department.

North Korea launched a long-range ballistic missile in December 2012. The regime also claimed to have successfully fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) last year.
Source : KBS News, Yonhap News

Seoul Pressures China with THAAD

South Korea's changing stance on the THAAD missile defense system reflects growing worries here about China's ambiguous approach toward North Korea and its nuclear program, analysts said on Tuesday. President Park and key defense officials have indicated that Seoul can allow the U.S. to deploy the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system that can detect and destroy North Korean missiles loaded with nuclear warheads in response to the North’s fourth nuclear test earlier this month. These comments have caused raised speculation that Seoul is leaning toward the deployment of THAAD because China is refraining from joining international efforts to toughen sanctions against the North.

Until recently, Korea had been carefully trying to balance placating both the US and China and therefore was reluctant to express any opinion about THAAD, sticking to the stance of the so-called "three Nos”. Experts have interpreted the recent THAAD related comments as being an attempt by the Korean government to pressure Beijing into playing a much-needed role in discouraging North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
Source : The Korea Times

‘Comfort Women’ Deal Stalls on Statue

A month has passed since the governments of South Korea and Japan reached an agreement to resolve the decades-old issue of "comfort women," but they are still finding it difficult to implement the deal.

One of the conflicting issues is whether or not to relocate the comfort woman statue, which is situated across the street from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul. Japan insists that Korea remove the statue from the site to move the agreement forward, but most Koreans and victims of Tokyo's wartime sexual enslavement say that should never happen.

Japan claims the statue’s removal is a pre-condition for Tokyo to implement the "final and irrevocable" agreement, under which Japan promised to finance 1 billion yen ($84.4 million) to set up a foundation aimed at helping the surviving victims. But Korea maintains the view that the government cannot meddle in the issues involving the statute, citing it was set up by civilians in December 2011.

Former Korean sex slaves and civic activists were also angered that the government did not take their opinions into account before agreeing with Japan’s settlement package.
Source : The Korea Times

U.S. State Department Expresses Support for Five-party Talks

The U.S. State Department expressed support Wednesday for South Korean President Park Geun-hye's proposal to hold five-party nuclear talks excluding North Korea. "Five-party talks are a chance for those of us who agree on North Korea's behavior and the need to persuade it or get it to change its ways," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said at a regular press briefing. "Occasionally we do need to get together and talk about this. We do this all the time. We consult bilaterally, multilaterally with the other members of that mechanism on ways to confront and to get North Korea to change its ways so we would support the dialogue going forward," he said.

President Park made the suggestion on Friday, raising questions about the effectiveness of the stalled six-party talks on the North's nuclear program and calling for "creative approaches" to deal with the problem. The U.S. Embassy in Seoul had already expressed support for the proposal, saying it would be "a useful step in our ongoing efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula through credible and authentic negotiations." But Russia reacted negatively to it, saying it's not a good idea to try to isolate the North.
Source : Yonhap News

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