PN's Voice 100

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PN's Voice 100, 24.11.2016
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PN's Voice No. 100,  24. 11. 2016 
Small steps, Road to peace

Experts Believe NK’s Next Nuclear Test may Coincide with Trump's Inauguration

North Korea may conduct its sixth nuclear test early next year timed for Donald Trump's inauguration as the U.S. president, security experts said on Wednesday. "North Korea may seek negotiations with the U.S. when it completes nuclear tests and reaches the stage of deploying a long-range nuclear-tipped missile," Lee Su-seok, director of the Center for Unification Strategy at the state-run Institute for National Security Strategy, said in a military forum held in Seoul. "In early 2017, it is highly likely that Pyongyang will detonate another nuclear device and launch a long-range ballistic missile to reiterate its status as a nuclear power."

Lee, citing a recent report carried by the Choson Shinbo, a Korean-language newspaper published in Japan, said the North expressed hopes for dialogue and negotiations with the next U.S. government by favorably comparing President-elect Donald Trump to President Barack Obama. "Any dialogue with North Korea, if any, will be possible some time after Trump takes office in January. Inter-Korean relations will remain frosty and strained until the first half of 2017 due to the North's continued military provocations," he said.

Kim Jong-un’s regime has conducted its fourth and fifth nuclear tests in January and September, and launched some 20 missiles this year alone, to achieve its stated goal of developing a nuclear-tipped long-range missile that could hit parts of the U.S. mainland. As South Korea is engulfed by an influence-peddling scandal involving President Park Geun-hye's confidante, the North is expected to focus on psychological warfare aimed at causing internal conflicts in the South for the time being, the director said. "The Kim Jong-un regime will continue its verbal and military threats in efforts to urge the nearly paralyzed Seoul government to change the current strict policies toward Pyongyang," Lee hypthosized.

His view is echoed by Cheong Seong-chang, director of the Unification Strategy Studies Program at the Sejong Institute, and other security experts. "Chances are high that North Korea will conduct the sixth nuclear test or launch a missile before the Trump government's inauguration on Jan. 20. Follow-up provocations are likely before the 75th birthday of the late Kim Jong-il on Feb. 16 or the 150th birthday of the late Kim Il-sung on Apr. 15," Cheong said.
Source : Yonhap News

Seoul-Tokyo sign Disputed Military Intelligence-sharing Pact

South Korea and Japan formally signed the controversial agreement on sharing military intelligence on North Korea on Wednesday, despite strong objections in South Korea. Defense Minister Han Min-koo and Japanese Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nagamine inked the deal on the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) at the Ministry of National Defense in Seoul. The bilateral pact took effect immediately.
The GSOMIA will enable the two neighbors to share military secrets directly that are classified second degree or less, without going through the United States. The classified information includes North Korea's evolving nuclear and ballistic missile activities, which Seoul had limited capacity to monitor fully. Japan has accumulated "a wide range of" intelligence on North Korea using its reconnaissance assets, according to military sources. These include five reconnaissance satellites, six Aegis destroyers equipped with radar systems, four land-based radars with a range of over 1,000 kilometers, 17 early warning aircraft and 77 maritime patrol aircraft. South Korea will offer North Korea-related secrets it has gathered from sources such as defectors and agents on the North Korea-China border and from monitoring in the Demilitarized Zone.

"It is expected that the quality of our intelligence and surveillance capability on North Korea will improve significantly because we'll be able to obtain intelligence from Japan in addition to the U.S.," a defense ministry official said. The pact does not allow the two countries to pass information obtained from the other to a third party without permission. "All intelligence sharing will be made under the principle of reciprocity," the ministry spokesman said.

After a four-year hiatus, the two sides resumed the controversial talks on November 1st and it took less than a month to conclude the deal, drawing a strong backlash from opposition parties and civic groups. They are accusing President Park Geun-hye and her government of unilaterally striking the deal without considering public sentiment against Japan's unrepentant view toward its atrocities before and during World War II. The legislators were also critical of the deal because the Park administration pushed for it despite growing calls for the President to step aside from all state affairs due to her alleged involvement in the corruption scandal surrounding her friend Choi Soon-sil. Citing the sensitivity of the issue, the defense ministry did not open the signing of the pact between Han and Nagamine to the media and decided to release related photos taken by defense ministry officials.
Source : The Korea Times, The Hankyoreh, NK News

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