DPRK (North Korea) Chronology for 2013


DPRK (NORTH KOREA) CHRONOLOGY FOR 2013
Compiled by
Leon V. Sigal
Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project
Contact:


1/1/13:
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un called for building economic might and resolving tension with the South in a New Year’s address. The message broadcast at 9:05 a.m. by the North’s Korean Central TV and Korean Central Broadcasting Station marked the first New Year’s message by a North Korean leader in 19 years since North Korean founder and Kim’s grandfather Kim Il-sung delivered one in 1994, the year of his death. In the English script of the address, released later by KCNA, Kim was quoted as urging the South Korean government to follow through on previous inter-Korean joint declarations. “All the Korean compatriots in the North, South and abroad should launch a dynamic struggle to carry out to the letter the June 5 Joint Declaration and the October 4 Declaration,” Kim said. Kim called them “great reunification programs common to the nation in the new century and milestones for peace and prosperity,” according to KCNA’s English script. Kim also urged his country and the South to prioritize “the great national cause of reunifying the country” and said “by holding fast to the ideals of independence, peace and friendship, we will, in the future too, strive to develop relations of friendship and cooperation with the countries that are friendly to our country.” The leader noted that the country’s most important task is to “build an economic giant,” calling for an increase in production, especially in the sectors of agriculture and light industry. “Agriculture and light industry remain the major fronts for economic construction this year,” Kim was quoted as saying. “All economic undertakings for this year should be geared to effecting a radical increase in production, and stabilizing and improving the people’s living standards.” Praising the country’s successful launch of a long-range rocket in December, he said, the launch helped “carry out the instruction of Kim Jong-il with credit and fully demonstrate the high level of space science and technology, and overall power of Juche Korea,” referring to the country’s guiding ideology. (Yonhap, “Kim Jong-un Calls for Building Economic Power, Resolving Tension with South,” January 1, 2013) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s address struck an unaccustomed friendly note. Under his father Kim Jong-il, the customary New Year’s editorials in the state press rarely missed a chance to slander South Korea and its main ally the U.S. when there had been an election in the South. Kim Jong-un’s speech was by far the most conciliatory yet. The Korea Institute for National Unification said it brings hope of improved inter-Korean relations ahead of the launch of the Park Geun-hye administration. A close aide to Park said it was a “good sign,” even though the North is probably just testing the new South Korean administration’s appetite for dialogue. Still, the aide added, “I don’t see any need to downplay its significance.” Kim’s call for “reconciliation and unity” with South Korea did not come without strings attached. “All Korean compatriots in the North, South and abroad should launch a dynamic struggle to carry out to the letter the June 5 Joint Declaration and the Oct. 4 Declaration,” he said, referring to inter-Korean declarations signed under the two progressive administrations of the South. Five years ago, North Korea went through unofficial channels to check if Seoul was willing to adhere to the Oct. 4 declaration signed by former President Roh Moo-hyun, which included a call to replace the armistice that ended the Korean War with a proper peace treaty. But then president-elect Lee Myung-bak insisted on a fresh set of conditions to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff and get Pyongyang to embrace reforms, which led to a quick deterioration in relations. Kim stressed that the most important task is to “build an economic giant” and improve the lives of North Koreans. “All economic undertakings for this year should be geared to effecting a radical increase in production, and stabilizing and improving the people’s living standards,” he said. Here too, he broke with tradition by addressing the economy before political and military issues. He used the word “people” 59 times and “economy” 24 times, way ahead of references to nation founder Kim Il-sung (11 times), Kim Jong-il (14 times), “socialism” (18 times), the “juche” or self-reliance doctrine (13 times) and the “songun” or military-first doctrine (six times). The relative scarcity of references to the songun doctrine, the brain child of Kim Jong-il, is also interesting. “In Kim Jong-il’s day, the songun ideology pervaded all state affairs, but now it seems to be restricted to the field of defense,” said Cho Dong-ho at Ewha Womans University. “The ideology is losing its luster.” (Chosun Ilbo, “Signs of Change in Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s Speech,” January 2, 2013)

Kim Jong-un New Year’s speech: “… Our reliable scientists and technicians successfully launched the artificial earth satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2, carrying out the instruction of the General with credit and fully demonstrating the high level of space science and technology and overall national power of Juche Korea. That we successfully manufactured and launched the scientific and technological satellite by entirely relying on our own efforts, technology and wisdom was an event of national jubilation that raised the dignity and honor of the Sun’s nation onto the highest level and a great event which inspired all the service personnel and people with confidence in sure victory and courage and clearly showed that Korea does what it is determined to do. … The officers and men of the People’s Army and the People’s Internal Security Forces made breakthroughs on all major fronts of building a thriving country with the mettle of “At a go” and did many good things for the happiness of the people, thereby living up to the expectations and trust of the Party and people. Although the situation was acute and complicated and severe natural calamities hit the country in succession last year, our army and people made great strides in their efforts to build a thriving socialist country and improve the people’s living standards by displaying an indomitable will and waging an unyielding struggle. … The building of an economic giant is the most important task that comes to the fore in the present stage of building a thriving socialist country. We should further consolidate the successes achieved so far in economic construction to raise the status of our country to that of an economic giant in the new century, thus realizing the wish of the great General who devoted all his life to making our people well off with nothing to envy in the world. In the same manner as we demonstrated the dignity and might of Songun Korea through the manufacture and launch of the Juche-based application satellite, the entire Party, the whole country and all the people should wage an all-out struggle this year to effect a turnaround in building an economic giant and improving the people’s standard of living. “Let us bring about a radical turn in the building of an economic giant with the same spirit and mettle as were displayed in conquering space!” — this is the fighting slogan our Party and people should uphold this year. All sectors and all units of the national economy should launch a vigorous general offensive to boost production in hearty response to the Party’s militant slogan. All economic undertakings for this year should be geared to effecting a radical increase in production and stabilizing and improving the people’s living standards by solidifying and making effective use of the already-built foundations of the independent national economy. By adopting decisive steps to shore up the vanguard sectors of the national economy and the sectors of basic industries, we should develop coal-mining, electric-power and metallurgical industries and rail transport on a preferential basis and provide a firm springboard for the building of an economic giant. We should make innovations in coal-mining and metallurgical industries in particular so as to revitalize the overall economy of the country. The success in economic construction should be manifested in the people’s standard of living. We should direct great efforts to bolstering up the sectors and units that have a direct bearing on the people’s livelihoods and increasing production there, so as to give them more benefits in living. Agriculture and light industry remain the major fronts for economic construction this year, too. We should fulfil this year’s plan for grain production without fail by concentrating nationwide efforts on farming and raising the efficiency of agricultural production by dint of scientific and intensive methods. We should take concrete measures for the supply of raw and other materials to light-industry factories and thus increase the output of quality consumer goods. We should decisively bolster up livestock, fish and fruit farming to provide the people with a better, more bountiful diet. The soldiers of the People’s Army and the shock-brigade members who volunteered to work at the reclamation site of Sepho tableland in response to the Party’s call should achieve miraculous successes and perform heroic feats in this year’s campaign to open a bright prospect for carrying the Party’s grand nature-remaking plan to completion at an earlier date. … All sectors of the national economy should make scrupulous arrangements for economic planning and guidance to boost production by tapping every possible reserve and potentiality, and work out in a scientific way the immediate plans and long-term strategies for stage-by-stage development and push ahead with them in a persistent manner. We should hold fast to the socialist economic system of our own style, steadily improve and perfect the methods of economic management on the principle of encouraging the working masses to fulfil their responsibility and role befitting the masters of production, and generalize on an extensive scale the good experiences gained at several units. … The military might of a country represents its national strength; only when it builds up its military might in every way can it develop into a thriving country and defend the security and happiness of its people. We should put continued stress on increasing our military might under the great banner of Songun, reliably safeguard the security and sovereignty of the country and render services to assuring regional stability and global peace. … An important issue in putting an end to the division of the country and achieving its reunification is to remove confrontation between the north and the south. The past records of inter-Korean relations show that confrontation between fellow countrymen leads to nothing but war. Anti-reunification forces of south Korea should abandon their hostile policy against their fellow countrymen, but take the road of national reconciliation, unity and reunification. Respecting and thoroughly implementing the north-south joint declarations is a basic prerequisite to promoting the inter-Korean relations and hastening the country’s reunification. All the compatriots in the north, south and abroad should launch a dynamic struggle to carry out to the letter the June 15 Joint Declaration and the October 4 Declaration, great reunification programs common to the nation in the new century and milestones for peace and prosperity. The reunification issue should be solved by the concerted efforts of our nation in an independent manner.” (KCNA, “New Year’s Address Made by Kim Jong-un,” January 1, 2013)

The number of North Koreans aged over 65 reached 2.09 million as of October 1, 2008, or 8.7 percent of the 24.05 million in total population, according to the country’s Population Census, published by the North’s Central Statistic Bureau in 2008 with assistance from the United Nations Population Fund. A country with 7 percent or more of the population representing the aged is considered an aging society. As of 2008, the portion of the aged people in South Korea stood at 10.3 percent. The most populated region was South Pyongan Province with 4.05 million, or 17.4 percent of the total population, followed by the capital city of Pyongyang with 3.25 million and South Hamgyeong Province with 3.06 million. More than 60 percent of its people represented the urban population, with the remaining 17.4 percent tied to the rural regions, according to the data. (Yonhap, “N. Korea Enters Aging Society: Data,” January 1, 2013)

The government has embarked on a plan to acquire the Global Hawk–a high-altitude, long-distance unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft–from the United States to enhance the Self-Defense Forces’ ability to collect information, Yomiuri Shimbun has learned. The planned introduction of the cutting-edge drone would bolster Japan’s intelligence capabilities, enabling it to more effectively cope with the increased pressure by China over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, according to government and Liberal Democratic Party sources. The Global Hawk would also enhance the SDF’s ability to gather information on North Korea, the sources said. The plan is to be incorporated into a review of the fiscal 2011-2016 Mid-Term Defense Program to be conducted by the administration of Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, the sources said. Under the current five-year plan, formulated under the Democratic Party of Japan, the introduction of unmanned surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft was labeled a matter for long-term study. The Abe Cabinet, however, appears willing to adopt a speedier time frame for studying the advisability of equipping the SDF with unmanned spy drones, apparently in response to pressure from LDP lawmakers. Proponents point to the increase in incidents involving Chinese government vessels and aircraft around the Senkakus, some of which have infringed on Japanese waters and airspace. Developed by U.S. defense contractor Northrop Grumman Corp., the Global Hawk can fly at a high altitude of about 18,000 meters, and is equipped with precision sensors and radar that can track suspicious vessels or gather intelligence. Unlike the Predator, which is armed with missiles and other weapons, the Global Hawk has no offensive capabilities, and specializes solely in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR. The 14.5-meter-long aircraft has a wingspan of about 40 meters, according U.S. Air Force data. Introducing the Global Hawk, which is piloted remotely by a crew of three on the ground, would enable the SDF to fill loopholes in its surveillance capability, the sources noted, as the drone can fly continuously for more than 30 hours. In addition to security purposes, the aircraft could be used to collect information on radiation contamination, they said. The government and senior LDP leaders are looking to obtain from one to three Global Hawks by fiscal 2015, before the current midterm defense program ends, the sources said. The study would also examine introducing a ground-based remote control system for the aircraft, they said. The Japanese and U.S. governments agreed in August to study the possibility of having U.S. drones fly surveillance flights over waters surrounding Japan. If the SDF were to acquire the drone, the surveillance areas would be broadened significantly due to information sharing with the U.S. military, which would strengthen the Japan-U.S. alliance, according to the sources. (Yomiuri Shimbun, “Government Eyeing Purchase of U.S. Spy Planes; Global Hawks Would Cover China, N. Korea,” January 1, 2013)


1/2/13:
Eric Schmidt will be traveling to North Korea on a private, humanitarian mission led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson that could take place as early as this month, sources told the Associated Press. The sources, two people familiar with the group’s plans, asked not to be named because the visit had not been made public. Since stepping aside as CEO, Schmidt has served as Google’s executive chairman, largely responsible for the company’s external relationships with policymakers, business partners and governments around the world. And in recent months, Schmidt had been working with Jared Cohen, a former U.S. State Department policy and planning adviser who heads Google’s New York-based think tank, on a book about the Internet’s role in shaping society. “The New Digital Age” is due to be published in April. Schmidt’s message: The Internet and mobile technology have the power to lift people out of poverty and political oppression. The visit also follows North Korea’s announcement that an American citizen of Korean descent has been jailed in Pyongyang on suspicion of committing “hostile” acts against the state. Conviction could draw a sentence of 10 years of hard labor under North Korea’s penal code. Kenneth Bae, identified in North Korean state media by his Korean name, Pae Jun Ho, is the fifth American detained in North Korea in the past four years. The exact circumstances of his arrest were not clear. KCNA said he was taken into custody in Rason, a special economic zone in the far north near China and Russia, while on a tour of the area. Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who often serves as an envoy to countries that do not have diplomatic relations with the United States, will try to meet with North Korean officials, and possibly Bae, to discuss the case, the sources said. Also leading the trip is Kun “Tony” Namkung, an Asian affairs expert who has made numerous visits to North Korea over the past 25 years. Namkung also serves as a consultant to the AP. Even before late leader Kim Jong Il’s death a year ago, North Korea indicated interest in repairing relations with Washington. Last year, a group of North Koreans even paid a visit to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. (Associated Press, “Google Exec Chairman to Visit N. Korea,” January 2, 2013) “He planned to visit North Korea earlier but the schedule was delayed in consideration of the sensitive mood to do with the North’s long-range rocket launch,” a Seoul official said. “I understand the visit is purely for a private purpose and has no bearings with business,” he added. (Korea Herald, “Google’s Schmidt May Visit N.K.,” January 3, 2013) “We are aware that he is planning a personal visit,” ministry spokesman Cho Tai-Young told a regular press briefing. Cho said Seoul was “not aware” of either the timing or the reason for Schmidt’s trip to Pyongyang. “We know of Schmidt’s visit to the North only as a private visit. So there is no specific comment to be made from our government,” he added. Google has so far refused officially to confirm the visit, which was reported by the Associated Press and Wall Street Journal as being part of a humanitarian mission led by former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson. The US State Department criticized the visit, stressing that it was a private mission. “Frankly we don’t think the timing of this is particularly helpful,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. “They are not carrying any messages from us.” (AFP, “S. Korea Confirms Goggle Chairman’s N. Korea Visit,” January 3, 2013)

A total of 1,508 North Koreans defected from their country and entered South Korea during 2012, compared with the corresponding figure of 2,706 in 2011, according to the data released by Seoul’s Unification Ministry. The 2012 figure is the first to drop below the 2,000-level since 2006. Inflows of North Korean defectors reached the highest level in 2009 with 2,929 coming to the South. A total of 215 North Koreans defected to the South in December, the highest monthly number for 2012, while the lowest number of 84 North Koreans came here during February, according to the data. Officials attributed last year’s sharp decrease to the North’s border control, which was tightened significantly following the death of leader Kim Jong-il in December 2011 due to security concerns. The ministry said a total of 24,613 North Korean defectors are now residing in the South. (Yonhap, “N. Korean Defector Arrivals Fall by Nearly Half in 2012,” January 2, 2013) North Korea sank the Navy corvette Cheonan and shelled Yeonpyeong Island in 2010 in protest against Seoul’s refusal to provide economic aid, a senior Cheong Wa Dae official here claimed. [?] The official told reporters the Lee Myung-bak administration attempted several times to arrange a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il but was unwilling to pay the price the North demanded. Incensed, the North then sank the ship and shelled the island. The claims from the outgoing administration came a day after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un struck an unusually conciliatory note in his New Year’s address and are being read as a warning for the incoming government not to be taken in by his rhetoric. “The Lee administration has met several times with North Korean officials to discuss a summit,” the official said. “But North Korea demanded tens of thousands of tons of rice and fertilizer in exchange and we refused.” North Korea wanted some US$500-600 million worth of rice and fertilizer aid, he said. The official did not say whether Pyongyang also wanted cash. “The watershed moment in inter-Korean relations was the sinking of the Cheonan in March of 2010,” he said. Talks were held even after the sinking, but North Korea refused to admit it was behind the attack, the official added. President Lee Myung-bak in a speech on Aug. 15, 2009 said the South was ready to start talks with North Korea “any time and at any level.” A week later, a North Korean delegation visited Seoul for the funeral of former President Kim Dae-jung, who held a landmark summit with Kim Jong-il in 2000. The North Korean delegation told Lee that Pyongyang was willing to hold a summit. In October that year, presidential Chief of Staff Yim Tae-hee held a secret meeting in Singapore with Kim Yang-gon, the director of the North Korean Workers Party’s United Front Department. The North Koreans again demanded $500 million worth of rice and fertilizer aid. Additional talks behind the scenes were held in the border town of Kaesong on November 7 and 14 of that year, but ended without progress. “At the time, Won Tong-yon, a ranking member of the Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, even presented a rough draft of a summit agreement, which contained demands for tens of thousands of tons of rice and fertilizer, and we couldn’t accept that,” a source said. Another source said if Seoul had agreed to provide the aid, the North would have demanded cash at every step of the process until the summit took place. In January 2010, after the secret contacts ended and North Korea realized that it was impossible to extract any aid from Seoul, it vowed to launch a “holy retaliatory war” against the South and fired multiple artillery rounds at the Northern Limit Line, a de facto maritime border on the West Sea. Two months later, on March 26, the North sank the Cheonan, and in November it shelled Yeonpyeong Island. “The government could not improve relations with the North by excusing its attacks on the Cheonan and Yeonpyeong Island,” a high-ranking government official here said. (Chosun Ilbo, “Cheonan Sinking Was ‘Revenge for Refusing Aid,” January 3, 2013) North Korea strongly denounced South Korea’s national security advisor, calling him a traitor and a bad element who, it said, only worked to justify Seoul’s hostility toward Pyongyang. The harsh criticism came two days after a local daily here published a recent interview with the top presidential advisor for national security, Chun Young-woo, in which he claimed the incumbent South Korean government has fundamentally changed the nature of relations between the divided Koreas. The North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said Chun has only offered “false claims” that sought to justify what it called “the Lee Myung-bak administration’s hostility toward the North.” “The reckless remarks made by the person who claims to have come up with the so-called ‘North Korea policy’ and supervised its implementation clearly show the heinous intention of the Lee Myung-bak group,” the committee said in a report carried by KCNA. “The outcome of the so-called ‘North Korea policy’ held by the traitor group is truly severe,” it said. The North Korean committee also claimed Chun’s remarks were only an attempt to discourage Seoul’s incoming Park Geun-hye administration from adopting a different, apparently more flexible, approach toward the North. (Korea Herald, “Pyongyang Calls Seoul’s Chief Security Advisor a ‘Traitor,’” January 6, 2013)


1/3/13:
South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye’s incoming government faces a tough road ahead to resolve a number of troublesome North Korea issues amid deadlocked inter-Korean relations. Essentially, Park prioritizes North Korea’s denuclearization to mend ties with the South. She has repeatedly vowed to seek improved ties with the North without compromising the South’s national security or sovereignty. North Korea’s denuclearization is a key word for Park’s North Korea policy, though detailed plans have not officially been made known. Over and over again, Park has promised her administration will push ahead with massive economic cooperation projects toward helping the impoverished North Korea with a policy called “Vision Korea Project” if the two Koreas build up trust and if there is substantial progress in the North’s denuclearization. The president-elect herself calls all these procedures for improving inter-Korean relations the “Korean Peninsula Trust Process.” Park also emphasizes the need for a balanced policy toward Pyongyang, somewhere between the outgoing government’s tough policy and previous liberal governments’ engagement policy. She has the notion that although Lee’s hard-line stance against North Korea is widely seen as unsuccessful, the “sunshine policy” by previous liberal presidents also failed to persuade the North to give up its nuclear and missile programs. “I will depart from the diplomacy between the soft-line and hard-line policies, and pursue a balanced North Korean policy,” Park said on the campaign trail, hinting at her more flexible North Korean policy ideas. Park, however, will still not be free to rule out conservatives’ demand that the North first show concrete evidence of no future aggression. The president-elect says full-scale economic cooperation with the North is possible only after Pyongyang takes serious steps toward ending its nuclear programs and sufficient “trust” is built up between the sides — an indication that she prefers a measured reconciliation and opposes unconditional aid to buy what she calls “fake peace.” The first South Korean woman elected to the five-year presidency has also pledged to depart from outgoing President Lee’s hard-line North Korea policy, in which the Seoul government has refused to engage with the North without the socialist country’s apologies for the deadly 2010 attacks on the South Korean Navy vessel Cheonan and the border island of Yeonpyeong. Park has said she is willing to hold a summit with the North if necessary for the peace on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia. “Talks (with the North) require no preconditions, and I can meet with (North leader) Kim Jong-un if that can help improve inter-Korean relations,” Park said during her election campaign, underlining her willingness to resume ties with the North. Park’s ambitions also include installing liaison offices between Seoul and Pyongyang, investing in the North’s special economic zones, and strengthening joint economic and resources development projects with the North. Separate from political issues, the new government will also seek humanitarian assistance, a reunion of separated families between the divided Koreas, and the repatriation of prisoners of war captured during the 1950-53 Korean War and abducted South Koreans after the war. The plan also details constructing infrastructure in North Korea such as electricity, transportation and telecommunications, Seoul’s support for North Korea’s admittance to international financial organizations. It also calls for Seoul’s cooperation for the North’s inducement of foreign investment, and South Korea’s advance into the North’s economic special zones such as Rason and Hwanggumphyong, and the increased economic cooperation for North Korea among neighboring countries, including China and Russia. The new South Korean government will go ahead with the efforts to improve North Korea’s dismal human rights through international coordination. North Korea has long been labeled one of the worst human rights violators in the world. The regime does not tolerate dissent, holds hundreds of thousands of people in political prison camps and keeps a tight control over information reaching the outside world. Park’s new government will likely abide by the previous basic agreements reached between the two Koreas. The outgoing Lee administration has not shown its willingness to fulfill the inter-Korean accords due to the North’s belligerent behavior. (Yonhap, “New Seoul Gov’t Will Likely Seek N. Korean Policy Based on Trust and Balance,” North Korea Newsletter, No. 243, January 3, 2013)


1/4/13:
South Korean President-elect Park Geun Hye on Friday told Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s special envoy, Nukaga Fukushiro, that her country wants to build good ties with Japan while not neglecting lingering historical issues. Park was quoted by Nukaga as saying that she wants to re-establish conciliatory and cooperative ties between the two sides at the same time as they face up to the past, an apparent reference to a host of historical issues that have plagued bilateral relations since Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. Nukaga also conveyed to Park the intentions of Abe, who took the government helm in late December, to reset ties and get them back on a solid track under their new administrations. The envoy further urged Park to visit Japan as soon as her schedule allows, to which she responded positively. Nukaga, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and secretary general of a Japan-South Korea lawmakers’ friendship association, arrived in Seoul in the morning to present Park with a letter from Abe. Two senior members of the bilateral association, LDP lawmakers Takeo Kawamura and Ichiro Aisawa, also attended the meeting with Park. The Japanese delegation was slated to hold talks later with South Korean Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Kim Sung Hwan. “I want to convey the prime minister’s thoughts that Japan’s relations with South Korea are of primary importance for the stability of East Asia,” Nukaga, a former finance minister, told reporters earlier. “I’d like to act as a bridge to make this year a good one for both of our countries.” Their visit was greeted by a gruesome protest by one South Korean man, who stabbed himself in the abdomen with a knife before the envoy had touched down at Seoul’s Gimpo International Airport, local authorities reported. The man is believed to be Kim Chang Geun, 62, the same individual who rammed his truck into the gate of the Japanese Embassy last July to protest Tokyo’s sovereignty claim to Takeshima, known as Dokdo in South Korea. He was hospitalized but his condition was not immediately known, they said, adding four others took part in the protest. (Kyodo, “Park Eyeing Positive Ties with Japan: Abe’s Envoy,” January 4, 2013)

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo ‘s Cabinet will maintain the Diet-endorsed 1995 apology issued by then-Prime Minister Murayama Tomiichi over Japan’s wartime aggression, but offer a separate “future-oriented” statement, Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga Yoshihide told a group of reporters. During an interview with The Japan Times and other media outlets, Suga, Abe’s right-hand man, said the Abe administration intends to uphold the Murayama statement. “At the same time, we’d like to consider issuing a statement that will suit the 21st century,” Suga said, adding such a future-oriented statement “is necessary, given the peace and stable economy in Asia.” Suga also said the Abe administration plans to set up an advisory panel to look into Japan’s exercise of its right to collective self-defense. Suga said, without elaborating, that any new written statement by Abe, if issued, won’t supersede the Murayama declaration but will be a separate remark. It was not clear if Abe’s statement would touch on Japan’s wartime history. Suga meanwhile said he will invite other historians to study issues related to the 1993 statement by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono Yohei, who admitted the wartime Japanese government and military were responsible for forcing women and girls into sexual slavery at Japanese military in frontline brothels. The females are euphemistically referred to in Japan as the “comfort women.” Abe and some right-leaning politicians have tried to play down the responsibility of the government and military, saying no historical documents have been found to prove that Japanese authorities “forcibly recruited,” or for instance, kidnapped, those females during wartime. During September’s party presidential race, Abe initially indicated he might revise the Kono statement if he became prime minister, but recently has toned this down and has only said he will consult historians. The Abe Cabinet’s pragmatic stance was also clear in the latest statement over South Korea’s deportation of a Chinese man suspected of throwing a Molotov cocktail at the wall of Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine. He had been charged with also committing a similar act against the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, and Tokyo had failed in its demand for his extradition. Earlier Friday, Tokyo protested Seoul’s move to send the man back to China. Suga meanwhile said South Korea is “a very important neighbor” and Tokyo will try to “build a bilateral relationship of mutual trust” despite recent diplomatic rows. (Yoshida Reiji, “Abe to Leave Muriyama War Apology Declaration Alone, Eye ‘Future-Oriented’ Statement, Suga Says,” Japan Times, January 5, 2013)


1/5/13:
Under North Korea’s new leader,
Kim Jong-un, human rights activists and South Korean officials say, it has become increasingly difficult to smuggle refugees out of the country, contributing to a sharp drop in the number of North Koreans reaching South Korea in the past year. The government began to jam the Chinese cellphone signals that activists relied on to coordinate their smuggling operations with collaborators in the North. North Korea also deployed equipment to trace cellphone signals. The Rev. Kim Seung-eun said he could measure the increasing difficulty of smuggling people out of North Korea by the higher cost of bribing North Korean soldiers on the Chinese border to look the other way. “They demand not only more cash, but also all kinds of things for themselves and their superiors,” said Kim, a South Korean human rights activist who helps North Koreans flee their totalitarian homeland and resettle in the South. “They’ve developed a taste for South Korean goods, too.” The number of refugees has never been particularly large, since most North Koreans are so impoverished they find it all but impossible to raise the money to attempt an escape. But the tightening of controls at the Chinese border led to a fall of about 44 percent from the previous year in the number of refugees reaching South Korea in 2012. The total was 1,509, according to South Korean government data. Lately, the Chinese also appear to have tightened their control at the river border to help protect their client government. “The crackdowns in China and North Korea came in tandem,” said Mr. Kim, who manages a network of activists and smugglers from his Caleb Mission church in Cheonan, a city about 60 miles south of Seoul. “It’s become more difficult for my people to operate in North Korea and China.” North Koreans have also developed an appetite for outside news and entertainment. “If early defectors fled North Korea for sheer ‘survival,’ an increasing number of North Koreans reaching South Korea flee for ‘a better life’ than they had in the North,” Kim Soo-am, an expert on North Korean refugees at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul, recently wrote. A group of 15 North Koreans that the Caleb Mission team in Cheonan had smuggled out in early December included a striking example of one such defector: a 29-year-old woman who yearned to become a television celebrity. “She had watched so many South Korean soap operas that she developed an illusion about life in South Korea,” Kim said, pointing out a particularly well-dressed woman in a photograph of the 15 North Koreans. “When we smuggled her out of North Korea, she was already wearing nothing but South Korean-made clothes.” (Choe Sang-hun, “Fleeing North Korea Is Becoming Harder,” New York Times, January 5, 2013, p. A-7)


1/6/13:
Sources at the unification ministry said the 2013 budget allocates 1.09 trillion won ($1.02 billion) for the government’s inter-Korean cooperation fund, up from some 1 trillion won in 2012. (Kim Young-jin, “More Funds Set for N. Korea,” Korea Times, January 3, 2013) In addition, the Unification Ministry’s budget would be increased by 4.4 percent to 222.2 billion won. Last year, the government spent 69.4 billion won (US$65.2 million), or 6.9 percent of the 1.006 trillion won set aside for the inter-Korean cooperation fund, according to the data from the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs. The fund was created in 1991 to support humanitarian and economic exchanges between the divided Koreas. In 2008, the fund’s execution rate plunged to 18.1 percent from 82.2 percent the previous year. The rate has since hovered below 10 percent, at 7.6 percent in 2009, 7.7 percent in 2010 and 4.2 percent in 2011. Last year, the fund was used to support construction projects in the inter-Korean industrial complex in the North’s border city of Kaesong, as well as for financial aid and loans for inter-Korean businesses, humanitarian projects and the construction of an inter-Korean youth exchange center. (Yonhap, “Execution of Inter-Korea Cooperation Fund Below 10 Percent for 4th Year,” January 6, 2013)

The U.S. government is taking action to put the brakes on movement in the Japanese government headed by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo to retreat on historical statements it has made, Nikkei reported. “In response to indications that the Japanese government could alter the historical position contained in the [Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei] Kono Statement of 1993, which acknowledged that the Japanese military had forced women into sexual slavery, the US government is calling for prudent action. U.S. officials communicated this message to multiple high-ranking Japanese government officials last year,” the Japanese paper reported. According to the paper, a high U.S. government official said “If Japan attempts to alter the Kono Statement, the U.S. government will have no choice but to take some kind of concrete action.” The paper interpreted this ‘concrete action’ as likely being the issuance of a statement expressing the American government’s concerns. In explanation of the move, the paper said, “Since revision by Abe’s administration of Japan’s historical stance could severely damage the relationship with neighboring countries such as South Korea and China, the U.S. government is concerned that this might compromise stability in the Asia-Pacific region, which it regards as a priority.” In an interview with the Sankei Shimbun newspaper on December 31, 2012, Abe made a reference to the (Prime Minister) 1995 Murayama Statement, in which Japan showed remorse for and apologized for its colonization of Korea. “The statement was made on the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the war. Seeing that time has passed and we are now in the 21st century, I want to make a forward-looking statement from my cabinet, a statement that is appropriate for our time. To achieve this, I plan to form a committee of experts and review our options.” Regarding the Kono Statement of 1993, Abe said, “I will listen to the opinions of experts and consider our course of action under the oversight of the Chief Cabinet Secretary.” (Jeong Nam-ku, “U.S. Trying to Rein in Japan’s Attempt to Deny Its History,” Hankyore, January 7, 2013)


1/7/13:
South Korea will speed up the development of longer-range missiles capable of striking all of North Korea and deploy them as early as possible, an official on the presidential transition team said. “We will work toward quickly putting in force ballistic missiles with the range of 800 miles,” said Kim Jang-soo, who has been named to oversee external affairs and North Korean policies for President-elect Park Geun-hye. “Reviewing our security readiness is a pressing matter.” Kim, a former defense minister, was responding to an inquiry about Seoul’s course of action in light of Pyongyang’s successful launch of a long-range rocket last month. During her presidential campaign, Park had stressed the need for a fast deployment of long-range missiles to ensure active and preemptive deterrence against North Korean military provocations. (Yonhap, “S. Korea to Push for Quick Deployment of Long-Range Ballistic Missile,” Korea Herald, January 7, 2013)

North Korea is moving to give mineral resources development rights to Chinese companies in return for pledges to upgrade its backward infrastructure, sources with ties to North Korea and Chinese businesses said. Such moves come as the impoverished North that does not have many manufactured goods to sell abroad wants to use its relatively abundant anthracite coal, iron ore and gold reserves as economic bargaining tools. Local Chinese business insiders in Shenyang said Hunan Investment Co., secured the right to develop the Unsan gold mine in North Korea in exchange for supporting a project to build a 30-story luxury hotel and highway in the country. China’s Hunchun trading company has reached a similar deal with Pyongyang Moranbong Co. to develop a gold mine in Chagang Province near the North Korea-Chinese border, the inside sources said. (Yonhap, “N. Korea Linking Mineral Resources Development with Infrastructure Building,” Korea Herald, January 7, 2013)

South Korea has no intention at all of asking Japan to reprocess its spent nuclear fuel, a senior South Korean foreign ministry official said, denying a Tokyo Shimbun report a day ago that Japan has proposed handling South Korea’s spent nuclear fuel rods, according to Yonhap. Responding to report, the unidentified official was quoted as saying, “The government has not even considered such a plan.” Japan plans to bring its long-delayed Rokkasho reprocessing plant on line this year. (Kyodo, “S. Korea Won’t Ask Japan to Reprocess Its Spent Nuclear Fuel: Yonhap,” January 7, 2013)


1/10/13:
North Korea is “sincerely” interested in improving ties with Washington and “encouraged” by South Korean president-elect Park Geun-hye’s offer of a summit, former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson said. (Chosun Ilbo, “N. Korea ‘Encouraged’ by Park’s Overtures,” January 11, 2013)Google chairman Eric Schmidt said he had told North Korea it would not develop unless it embraces Internet freedom, as he returned from a controversial visit to the communist state. Efforts to “strongly urge” North Korea, a highly secretive and tightly-controlled country, to increase the use of the Internet were “the main success of the visit”, said Bill Richardson, the former New Mexico governor. Schmidt said he told North Korean officials they should open up the country’s Internet “or they will remain behind.” “As the world becomes increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world, their economic growth and so forth, and it will make it harder for them to catch up economically,” Schmidt said. “Once the Internet starts, citizens in a country can certainly build on top of it. The government has to do something. It has to make it possible for people to use the Internet which the government in North Korea has not yet done.” “We strongly urged the North Koreans to proceed with a moratorium on ballistic missiles and possible nuclear test,” Richardson said. The delegation did not meet leader Kim but had a “series of very frank discussions” with officials on “the current level of tension in the peninsula”, he said, adding: “The North Koreans need to temper their nuclear development.” There were discussions about Kenneth Bae, an American of Korean descent who was arrested in November, but the delegation did not meet him personally as he was being held too far from Pyongyang, Richardson said. “We were informed that his health was good and that the judicial proceedings would start soon. That is encouraging,” he added. (Neil Connor, “Google’s Schmidt Urges N. Korea Internet Freedom,” AFP, January 10, 2013) “We think that both sides need to move in new directions,” Richardson told reporters today. “We think that it’s important that the North-South dialogue be revived. We think that it’s important that the United States and North Korea start having some positive bilateral discussions. We need dialogue, not confrontation on the peninsula.” Asked by NBC News on Bae’s current status, Richardson said that while he was unable to visit the 44-year old tourist, he had been assured by North Korean officials that his legal rights and personal well-being would be protected. “We pushed to make sure that there were strong protections for Kenneth Bae both in the judicial process and personally,” said Richardson, “another encouraging development was that they told me the judicial precedence would happen soon.” Richardson also said that a letter from Bae’s son would be passed on to him in prison. (Ed Flanagan, “Google Boss Opens N. Korea Dialogue But No U.S. Prisoner Release,” NBC, January 10, 2013) As a work of propaganda, the images that North Korea circulated this week showing Google’s executive chairman, Eric E. Schmidt, touring a high-tech incubation center are hard to beat. With former Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico at his side, Schmidt, who is fond of describing the Internet as the enemy of despots, toured what was presented as the hub of the computer industry in one of the world’s most pitiless police states. It is unclear what the famously hermetic North Koreans hoped to accomplish by allowing the visit. But the photos of the billionaire entrepreneur taking the time to visit the nation’s computer labs were bound to be useful to a new national leader whom analysts say needs to show his people that their impoverished nation is moving forward. It will matter little, those experts say, that the visitors were bundled against the cold, indoors — a sign of the country’s extreme privation — or that the vast majority of North Koreans have no access to computers, much less the Web beyond their country’s tightly controlled borders. The men’s quixotic four-day trip ended today much the way it began, with some analysts calling the visit hopelessly naïve and others describing it as valuable back-channel diplomacy at a time when Washington and Pyongyang are not on speaking terms (again). “I’m still spinning my wheels to figure out a plausible motivation for why they went,” said Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea specialist at the International Crisis Group. Schmidt and Richardson insist they accomplished some good — showing the world has not forgotten the plight of an American detained in the North, and at least trying to nudge the tightly sealed nation a bit closer to the fold of globally connected nations. “As the world becomes increasingly connected, their decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world, their economic growth and so forth,” Schmidt told reporters after arriving at Beijing International Airport. “We made that alternative very, very clear.” Others were less kind. Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, took to Twitter to call the self-appointed delegation “useful idiots,” and John R. Bolton, a former United Nations ambassador, said the delegation was unwittingly feeding the North Korean propaganda mill as it sought to burnish the credentials of Kim Jung-un, the nation’s leader, who is in his 20s. “Pyongyang uses gullible Americans for its own purposes,” Bolton wrote in The New York Daily News. As if on cue, the North Korean news media hailed the visit by “the Google team” — which included Jared Cohen, who leads Google’s think tank — highlighting their visit to the mausoleum where Kim’s grandfather and father lie in state. There, Richardson and Schmidt “expressed admiration and paid respect to Comrade Kim Il-sung and Comrade Kim Jong-il,” Rodong Sinmun said. Kim spent some of his teenage years at a Swiss boarding school, where he was exposed to Western culture and technology. At home, he has emphasized science and technology to help build “a strong and prosperous nation.” He wants to computerize the country’s antiquated factories, many of which have been idled by a lack of fuel and raw materials. He has even stressed following “global trends” by reaching out to other countries and using the Internet to acquire technological know-how from overseas. Last November, he recommended horseback riding to offset the occupational hazards of working with computers. Despite such talk, the government remains openly hostile toward the Internet; the country is a reliable member of the annual “Enemies of the Internet” report issued each year by Reporters Without Borders. And under Kim, North Korea has intensified a crackdown on other forms of outside information, including the DVDs and thumb drives smuggled from China that often carry banned South Korean soap operas. Given the government’s obsession with keeping out any information that could undermine its grip on power or the Kim family’s personality cult, analysts say North Korea is unlikely to embrace Schmidt’s global connectivity dream any time soon. “When Kim Jong-un talks about using the Internet, he means a one-way traffic of information: getting information North Korea needs,” said Kim Kwang-in, head of the North Korea Strategy Center, a research institute in Seoul. “It does not mean North Korea will open itself up to the Internet. It is not ready to — and cannot — adopt such reforms yet.” (Andrew Jacobs, “Visit by Google Chairman May Benefit North Korea,” New York Times, January 11, 2013, p. A-10)

Production at the Kaesong Industrial Complex grew 17.5 percent last year from a year earlier as South Korean firms employed more North Korean workers, which raised output, Seoul’s Unification Ministry said. The total output by the 123 South Korean firms operating in the inter-Korean economic project zone is estimated to have reached US$470 million during the one year period, according to data released by the ministry handling inter-Korean affairs. The total number of North Korean workers employed at the industrial park in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, rose to 53,507 as of the end of 2012, up from 49,866 a year earlier, according to the data. (Yonhap, “Output from Kaesong Complex Jumps 17.5% On-year in 2012,” January 10, 2013)


1/10/13:
Senior officials from the State Department, Pentagon and White House will travel to Seoul and Tokyo next week to urge key allies Japan and South Korea to mend strained ties that have hurt security cooperation. The two Northeast Asian democracies have fallen out over a territorial dispute and Japan’s attitude toward its colonial past. Top U.S. diplomat for East Asia, Kurt Campbell, said today the U.S. will urge “care and caution” in that maritime dispute. The tiny islands called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese, are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan. Tensions intensified after Tokyo bought the islands from their Japanese private owners in September. The U.S., which could be compelled under treaty obligations to assist Japan in event of a conflict, has since called for “cooler heads” to prevail, but the dispute rumbles on. Abe may disavow a 1993 statement in which Japan apologized for the suffering of so-called “comfort women” during World War II risks riling South Korea. The U.S. will be quietly urging Abe’s government against such a step, said Victor Cha, a former White House director of East Asia policy. But he added that the U.S will not want to be seen as publicly mediating a touchy historical dispute. “You will never succeed and both sides will end up hating you for it,” Cha said. (Matthew Pennington, “U.S. Urges Allies Japan, S. Korea to Mend Ties,” January 10, 2013)


1/11/13:
KCNA: “It is a basic prerequisite for advancing the inter-Korean relations and accelerating the reunification of the country to respect the north-south joint declarations and implement them. Rodong Sinmun Friday says this in a bylined article. The article goes on: The June 15 joint declaration and the October 4 declaration serve as great programs for reunification common to the nation in the new century and milestones for peace and prosperity as they paved a wide avenue for realizing the reconciliation and unity of all Koreans by developing the north-south relations. Whether one respects or denies the north-south declarations and whether one implements them or not is [the] basic criteria to distinguish reunification from division and patriotism from treachery. The Lee Myung Bak group of traitors in south Korea brought the inter-Korean relations, which had developed favorably under the banner of the June 15 joint declaration, back to those in the confrontation era. These moves for escalating confrontation are intolerable as they are acts of treachery quite contrary to the basic spirit of the north-south joint declarations and the aspiration of the fellow countrymen for reunification. The inter-Korean relations cannot be a plaything of the anti-reunification forces any longer. The confrontation between compatriots must be terminated as soon as possible. In order to remove the confrontation between the north and south and dynamically advance the reunification movement, all Koreans at home and abroad should positively support the joint declarations and turn out as one in the nationwide struggle to preserve and implement them. They should never allow any attempt at shunning and opposing the implementation of the declarations. The DPRK remains unchanged in its stand to achieve national unity, independent reunification, peace and prosperity on the basis of the declarations. “ (KCNA, “Respect for North-South Joi9nt Declarations and Their Implementation Called for,” January 11, 2013)


1/14/13:
DPRK Foreign Ministry memorandum: “It is now 60 years since the gunfire of war stopped roaring, but the war has not terminated legally. There remains a fragile state of ceasefire of neither peace nor war on the Korean Peninsula which has yet to build up a mechanism to ensure peace. The U.S. has gone defiant against the DPRK Government in its consistent stand and effort to replace the Armistice Agreement with a peace treaty and tries to maintain the state of ceasefire. Lurking behind this is the ghost of the Cold War, i.e., “UN Command.” The U.S., according to its new defense strategy, is trying to transform the “UN Command” into a “multinational forces command” which would serve as a matrix of the Asian version of NATO. The ulterior motive of the new U.S. defense strategy, released for the first time in January 2012, is to encircle and put a military curve on other big power in Asia so that the latter can not grow to make a resistance to it.

The U.S., in order to get round the stiff resistance from the countries concerned, is trying to form combined forces instead of opting for a new one by playing tricks to revive the functions of the “UN Command”, which is nothing more than just the name. Behind the recent attempts of the U.S. to revive the functions of the “UN Command” lie its strategic self-interests to make south Korea a forward base for the domination of the Asia-Pacific region and hold fast to it as a cannon fodder for an aggressive war under the changed situation. It is also on a step-by-step basis that preparations have been under way to expand the operational sphere of the “UN Command” to the whole of the Asia-Pacific region. If any move is allowed to establish a collective military bloc in the Asia-Pacific region, this would inevitably trigger off a countervailing force from other countries which are placed under the target of this bloc. If this is the case, it is par for the course that this region, too, would plunge into a theater to take sides with as in Europe with the revival of the Cold War and increased danger of a thermonuclear war beyond any measure. Under this worst case of scenario, it is none other than south Korea that would suffer most. The “UN Command” is primarily an unjust tool which only misused the name of the UN. All this bears no relation with the consensus of the UN member states. The “UN Command” is all the more a subsidiary organ of the U.S., which bears no relevance with the UN. The 30th session of the UN General Assembly held in November 1975 adopted two resolutions on the dissolution of the “UN Command.” If we look at the composition of the then “UN Command,” it was no longer the multinational forces but the U.S. Command which has only the U.S. troops stationed in south Korea. As soon as the Armistice Agreement was signed, member states of the UN who participated in the Korean War withdrew their forces, to the exclusion only of the U.S. The U.S. asserted that the dissolution of the “UN Command” would be possible only when another mechanism to maintain the Armistice is set up. But, the current state of ceasefire is not maintained by the “UN Command” in practice. In March 1991, the U.S. made an unannounced decision of replacing the chief delegate to the “UN forces” at the Military Armistice Commission with the south Korean army general, a post so far occupied by the U.S. army general. As the “UN forces” lost its power of representation, the Military Armistice Commission was virtually put in a state of paralysis. Eventually, the delegation of the Chinese People’s Volunteers, the member of the Korean-Chinese side of the Military Armistice Commission, withdrew in December 1994 and the DPRK side formed the Panmunjom Mission of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) to maintain the ceasefire on behalf of the former DPRK-Chinese side. As time passed, the members of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) failed to maintain their positions of neutrality which they had at the time of signing the Armistice Agreement. With this, the NNSC could no longer carry out its functions. This has led to the complete fall of the previous armistice mechanism and the “UN Command” was reduced to a scarecrow with no party left to deal with. It was since then that all the issues related to the running of the state of ceasefire are discussed and disposed of between the KPA and U.S. military authorities rather than between the DPRK-China and the “UN Forces.” Both sides of the DPRK and the U.S. have made an effective control of the state of ceasefire for decades of years and this reality proves that there is no longer any reason to withhold the dissolution of the “UN Command.” Even from the viewpoint of replacing the Armistice Agreement with the peace treaty, the “UN Command” stands in the way as the legacy of the Cold War that would bring no good but only harm. According to the Armistice Agreement, the issue of ensuring the lasting peace is to be negotiated only at a political conference at a level higher than that of military commanders. The actual political superior of the “UN Command,” a signatory to the Armistice Agreement, is not the UN but the U.S. administration. As the facts show, there were many discussions and agreements between the concerned parties on changing the state of ceasefire to a durable peace on the Korean Peninsula where we can find no mention of any method which presupposes the existence of the “UN Command.” Despite that, the “UN Command” still exists today and, on top of that, it is trying to revive as a tool of war to be used by multinational forces. This is an issue that can never be overlooked from the perspective of ensuring the security in the Asia-Pacific region including the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. is claiming that the DPRK’s effort to bolster its national defensive power is causing tension in the region. This is nothing but an imprudent trick to cover up the aggressive nature of its Asia-Pacific strategy. Whether the U.S. immediately dismantles the “UN Command” or not will serve as the acid stone in deciding whether the U.S. will maintain or not its anti-DPRK hostile policy, whether it wants peace and stability or the revival of the Cold War in the Asia-Pacific region. The DPRK will continue to strengthen its deterrence against all forms of war, thereby actively contributing to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the rest of Asia until the U.S. makes a right choice.” (KCNA, “DPRK Foreign Ministry Issues Memorandum,” January 14, 2013)

North Korea should first refrain from provocative acts and abide by international obligations before demanding the dismantlement of the United Nations Command (UNC) and the signing of a peace treaty on the peninsula, a U.S. official said. “The United States has made clear that we are prepared to engage constructively with North Korea if it chooses to live up to its own commitments, fulfill its international obligations, deal peacefully with its neighbors, and refrain from acts that threaten regional and international peace and stability,” the official told Yonhap. The official dismissed speculation that the U.N. response to the launch is tapering off due to China’s uncooperative attitude and more urgent global issues such as Mali and Syria. “We are working closely with six-party talks partners, United Nations Security Council member states, and other countries on a clear and credible response” to the launch, the official said. The official was responding to a “memorandum” issued by the North’s foreign ministry. (Yonhap, “U.S. Tells N. Korea to Stop Provocations before Call for Peace Treaty,” January 15, 2013)


1/14/13:
Navi Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, called for an international inquiry into human rights offenses committed by North Korea. Ms. Pillay pointed to North Korea’s “elaborate network of political prison camps,” believed by human rights organizations to hold 200,000 prisoners. The camps not only punish people for peaceful activities, but also employ “torture and other forms of cruel and inhumane treatment, summary executions, rape, slave labor and forms of collective punishment that may amount to crimes against humanity,” she said. When Kim Jong-un succeeded his father as the leader of North Korea in December 2011, there was some hope that the change would lead to a relaxation of harsh policies, Ms. Pillay said, but “we see almost no sign of improvement.” Instead, she said, North Korea’s self-imposed isolation had “allowed the government to mistreat its citizens to a degree that should be unthinkable in the 21st century.”Human rights groups have been lobbying for an international investigation over the past year, and they hope to persuade Japan to sponsor a resolution at the next session of the Human Rights Council in March that would create a commission of inquiry. Both the council and the United Nations General Assembly passed resolutions condemning North Korea in 2012 by consensus, unopposed even by China, the North’s closest ally. Ms. Pillay expressed concern that international preoccupation with North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programs had diverted attention from human rights abuses that have “no parallel anywhere in the world.” “What we are trying to do is put human rights as a priority in the international debate on North Korea,” said Juliette de Rivero, Geneva director of Human Rights Watch, one of more than 40 organizations in the International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea that are backing the inquiry. “Right now it’s nearly invisible.” (Nick Cummings-Bruce, U.N. Official Urges Scrutiny of North Korea,” New York Times, January 15, 2013, p. A-9)


1/15/13:
Alexandre Mansourov: “Kim Jong Un also made some progress in implementing one of his first policy priorities, infrastructure improvement, including the repair and expansion of the national road network and air transportation facilities in Pyongyang and all provincial capitals. Whereas his father crisscrossed the nation by train and almost never flew by plane (and therefore the country’s dilapidated highways and airports were left in disrepair), Kim Jong Un prefers to travel by car and likes to fly. Critics say renovating local airports, repaving roads, opening new gas stations, and building new motels and hotels serve only the interests of government elites and foreign tourists. This may be true today but these are long-term infrastructure investments that everyone will eventually benefit from, even ordinary North Koreans who cannot dream about using them at present. It is worth remembering that the US Interstate Highway System was originally built as a network of ground transport routes for military supplies and troop deployments in case of an emergency or foreign invasion. But on the critical issue of economic reform, while change may have been in the air, in my judgment, the current regime does not yet have any clear understanding of how to restructure the agricultural sector and revive the backbone of the North’s industrial economy — large-scale state-owned enterprises. Nor does it have a viable approach to rebuild the nation’s finances, pay down its debts, and get back to planning for the future. Also, despite Kim’s emphasis on the Cabinet’s centrality in economic management at the expense of both the party and the military, little progress has been made in the way the government directs the country’s economy. Despite early expectations that the new regime would enunciate a comprehensive “New Economic Policy,” outside observers were left disappointed at the lack of serious action on the ground. But too much was also made of the regime’s reported promise of some sort of agricultural reform (the so-called June 28 policy measures) and rumors of new pricing and wage regulations for small-and-medium enterprises, as well as impending monetary reform; all to no avail. That said, Kim Jong Un’s effort to strip the Korean People’s Army of its economic management role, dismantle its business empire, and hand it over to the civilian authorities was encouraging. It is reminiscent of a similar process that took place in China in the late 1990s when the then President Jiang Zemin ordered the People’s Liberation Army to get out of business, forcing the military to divest itself of a mind-numbingly complex web of thousands of commercial interests that spanned pharmaceuticals, autos, and telecommunications. If Kim Jong Un continues to divest the military of its economic assets and shift resources from the munitions industry to the civilian economy in the coming year, the KPA will lose its economic clout. As a result, the North Korean Cabinet will be better positioned to spur overall economic growth as well as to fulfill Kim Jong Un’s inaugural promise of raising the living standards of the North Korean people in the future. The regime’s strong interest in promoting foreign trade and investment and developing special economic zones with Chinese collaboration was also unmistakable. This was demonstrated with new vigor when Pyongyang broke ground on the Hwanggumpyong and Wihwa Islands Economic Zone in June and its grey cardinal Jang Song Thaek held unprecedented economic talks with Chinese leaders in Beijing last August. North Korea’s increasing economic exposure to China is important not only because it provides the regime with the economic lifeline it needs to survive, but also because it diminishes the country’s economic isolation, plugging the North into the world’s second largest economy. That, in turn, not only provides it with access to Chinese capital, technology, policy advice and managerial expertise, but also allows Pyongyang to benefit from global economic trends and to pursue a path of socio-economic development largely independent of the ROK, US and Japan and more in line with the so-called Beijing consensus.” (Alexandre Mansourov, “Kim Jong-un’s Domestic Policy Record in His First Year: Surprisingly Good,” 38North, January 15, 2013)


1/16/13:
President Barack Obama told South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye in a recent message that close cooperation between the two allies will play a pivotal role in coping with grave challenges from North Korea and other pending issues, a spokesman said. Obama made the remark in a congratulatory message delivered to Park when she met with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell and other senior American officials, according to Park Sun-kyoo, a transition committee spokesman. “Though we are now faced with grave challenges from North Korea, the close cooperation between South Korea and the U.S. will play a pivotal role in effectively dealing with the issue of North Korea and other major pending issues,” Obama was quoted as saying. The spokesman spoke in Korean and the English version of the message was not available. (Yonhap, “Obama Says N. Korea Poses Grave Challenges to S. Korea, U.S.: Official,” January 17, 2013)

The abrupt and mysterious resignation of a former member of President-elect Park Geun-hye’s transition team might have been fallout from a behind-the-scenes meeting he arranged with a North Korean official without government approval. An intelligence source familiar with North Korean affairs told JoongAng Ilbo that “a senior ruling party lawmaker close to president-elect Park met with a working-level official of North Korea in Beijing between December 25 and 27. “As far as I know, it was Choi Dae-suk who arranged the closed-door meeting,” the source said. During the meeting, the senior ruling party lawmaker said he wanted to brief a high-ranking North Korean official on the president-elect’s position on North Korean affairs and policies, the source told the paper. But the North Korean official declined the request and said he wanted a hand-written request from Park for such a meeting to take place, the source said. The senior lawmaker told JoongAng Ilbo two days ago that he visited China to meet a North Korean official. On January 18 he withdrew that comment and said he met a Chinese official in Beijing. But he said Choi did not arrange any meeting and that he has “never discussed the visit with Choi.” Choi, a member of Park’s inner circle who was in charge of North Korean affairs for the transition team, stepped down January 12 citing “personal reasons.” Choi said in a private e-mail to friends that his resignation was not related to “individual corruption.” As a renowned expert in North Korean issues, Choi was regarded as the architect of Park’s policies on inter-Korean cooperation. He was also a strong candidate for unification minister. The source assumed that Choi arranged the secret meeting right after the presidential election without approval from Park, the National Intelligence Service or the Ministry of the Unification. Just hours before Choi tendered his resignation, the NIS gave a policy briefing to the transition team. The source said the NIS may have reported the unauthorized visit to the transition team. “During the policy briefing, Choi raised his voice and had an altercation with senior NIS officials regarding North Korean affairs,” an official at the transition team said. “Attendees were perplexed because Choi was known for his calm personality, but he got very aggressive with the NIS.” Choi is known as an advocate of maintaining inter-Korean cooperation regardless of political confrontations. In fact, right after the NIS policy briefing on that day, Choi met with a professor who worked for the main opposition Democratic United Party’s think tank for North Korean affairs. After that, in the afternoon, he also met with a former Unification Minister who worked under the liberal presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun. (Kim Hee-jin and Lee Young-jong, “Secret North Meeting May Have Doomed Choi,” JoongAng Ilbo, January 19, 2013)

North Korea was behind the cyberattack that temporarily disabled the JoongAng Ilbo’s Web site and server last year, according to the National Police Agency. The attack was orchestrated by Pyongyang’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, South Korean police said. On June 9, 2012, at around 6:30 p.m., the news site (www.joongang.co.kr) was shut down. A photo of a grinning white cat above a statement “Hacked by Is One” appeared instead, along with unknown code in green behind the cat. Following the cyberattack, the JoongAng Ilbo and the Korea JoongAng Daily lost the databases that store articles and photos and the editing system was damaged, disrupting operations. “We reached the conclusion that the culprit is North Korea,” Jong Seok-hwa, chief investigator of the Cyber Terror Response Center of the National Police Agency, said at a briefing. “At the request of the JoongAng Ilbo, we conducted an investigation over the past seven months,” he said. “The investigation was difficult, because the entire system was wiped out,” Jeong said. “So we traced clues using the online security system and Internet firewall of the JoongAng Ilbo. “As a result, we found two domestic servers the hackers used and 17 other servers used by computers in 10 foreign countries,” he said. “We also detected six malicious pieces of code involved with the hacking.” Through the information on the servers in foreign countries, police analyzed the servers. “The crucial proof is that one of the servers was constantly connected to an IP address of the Joson Telecommunication Company, an affiliate of North Korea’s Posts and Telecommunications Ministry,” Jeong said. Police also found one of the servers was also used in the previous two hacking cases, a three-day distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that crippled 40 Web sites run by the government and private businesses on March 4, 2011, and a massive cyberattack on Nonghyup Bank on April 12, 2011. At the time, police also concluded the North Korean regime was responsible. “Statistically, there’s very little chance that different hackers used an identical server,” he said. “There are about four billion addresses in the world. The hacker in all three cases must be the same person.” (Kim Hee-jin, “North behind Hacking Attack on JoongAng Ilbo,” Joong-Ang Ilbo, January 17, 2013)


1/17/13:
The discovery by American intelligence agencies that North Korea is moving mobile missile launchers around the country, some carrying a new generation of powerful rocket, has spurred new assessments of the intentions of the country’s young new leader, Kim Jong-un, who has talked about economic change but appears to be accelerating the country’s ability to attack American allies or forces in Asia, and ultimately to strike across the Pacific. The new mobile missile, called the KN-08, has not yet been operationally deployed, and American officials say it may not be ready for some time. But the discovery that the mobile units have already been dispersed around the country, where they can be easily hidden, has prompted the White House, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies to reassess whether North Korea’s missile capabilities are improving at a pace that poses a new challenge to American defenses. Speaking in Italy, the departing defense secretary, Leon E. Panetta, broke from the usual Obama administration script — which is to write off North Korea as a broke and desperate country — and told American troops that he was increasingly worried about another, longer-range North Korean missile, one that was successfully tested last month and reached as far as the Philippines, and could lob a warhead much farther. “Who the hell knows what they’re going to do from day to day?” Panetta said. “And right now, you know, North Korea just fired a missile. It’s an intercontinental ballistic missile, for God sakes. That means they have the capability to strike the United States.” After he spoke, Pentagon officials said Panetta did not mean to imply that North Korea could now hit the continental United States, although intelligence and military assessments have said that Hawaii is within range. But the North has made progress toward its goal of fielding a missile that could cross the Pacific, a goal the previous defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, warned at the end of his time in office could be fulfilled by 2016. An intensive study of the long-range missile test-flight conducted by North Korea last month, one administration official said, found that it was “largely a success, if you define success as showing that they could drop a warhead a lot of places in Asia.” The more immediate mystery for the administration, however, is what North Korea may intend with the intermediate-range KN-08, which was first shown off by the North in a military parade last April. At the time, many analysts dismissed it as a mock-up. In fact, it has never been test-flown. But parts, including the rocket motors, have been tested separately, according to officials familiar with the intelligence reports, who described the missile developments on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the assessments. Officials familiar with North Korean missile technology say the KN-08 weapon is designed with a range capable of striking South Korea, Japan and parts of Southeast Asia — although with uncertain accuracy. North Korea is aware that it is a focus of American spy satellites, so the decision to roll the missile around the country to potential deployment sites might well have been partly motivated by a desire to send a message to the United States, or at least to get Washington’s attention — which it did. Officials said that North Korea’s advancements in missile technology were among the most significant reasons that Panetta, as he approached the end of his tenure, had spent so much time in Asia. Much of his effort has been aimed at spurring the development of a regional missile defense system to be deployed with allies, particularly Japan and South Korea. There is no evidence that the KN-08 has been fitted with a nuclear warhead. While North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and in 2009, American intelligence officials have said that the North has not miniaturized a nuclear device small enough to be fitted as a warhead atop its missiles. Some believe that may be the goal of its next test — and perhaps, some intelligence reports speculate, of continuing cooperation on missile design between Iran and North Korea. The Iranians, one official noted, “are grappling with the same issues.” In fact, much remains uncertain about North Korea’s new missile. There was no question where the mobile launching trucks that carried the missile came from: they are Chinese, and almost certainly imported in violation of United Nations sanctions against the North. The new missile, like most in the North Korean arsenal, appeared to be based on Russian technology. (Thom Shanker and David E. Sanger, “Movement of Missiles by North Korea Worries U.S.,” New York Times, January 18, 2013, p. A-3)

Kurt M. Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia and Pacific affairs, called for “cooler heads to prevail” in an emotional quarrel over disputed islands that has raised tensions in Asia. And he urged Japan’s new prime minister, Abe Shinzo, to hold behind-the-scenes talks with South Korea to defuse a separate territorial dispute as well as disagreements over history that have driven a wedge between the two countries, the United States’ two closest allies in the region. Campbell led a delegation that included officials from the Pentagon and White House who are among the highest-ranking Americans to visit Japan and South Korea since conservative, pro-Washington leaders won elections in both nations last month. The delegation arrived here in Tokyo yesterday after a two-day visit to the South Korean capital, Seoul, where Campbell met the president-elect, Park Geun-hye. The main goal of the Asian mission appeared to be coordinating a mutual response to China’s increasingly assertive claims in regional waters, as well to the recent launching of a long-range rocket by North Korea. Japanese officials said talks today focused on Japan’s continuing standoff with China over the uninhabited island group, known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in Chinese, that are at the center of the dispute. Tensions appeared to rise last week after fighter jets from both nations tailed each other in airspace near the islands, raising fears in Washington of a mishap growing into a full-blown military clash that could embroil the United States, which is obligated by treaty to come to Japan’s defense. “We’ve made very clear our desire to see cooler heads prevail and the maintenance of peace and stability over all,” Campbell told reporters. At the same time, he said the United States would not serve as mediator — a sign, analysts said, that Washington wanted to avoid getting drawn too far into the thorny regional disputes. That stance has drawn criticism in Japan, China and South Korea that the United States is not taking enough responsibility for conflicts it helped create by drawing the current borders after breaking up the Japanese empire at the end of World War II. In Tokyo, analysts and politicians said the Americans’ visit was also aimed at soothing ruffled feathers after the Obama administration turned down a request by Abe to visit Washington this month, in what was viewed by some Japanese as an embarrassing rebuff for the new prime minister. U.S. officials said they had simply asked that the visit be delayed until new secretaries of state and defense had assumed their duties. Japanese officials said the Americans also made what amounted to a shopping list of requests before a summit meeting in Washington was possible, including progress on a long-stalled agreement to relocate an air base on Okinawa. The Americans were sent to Tokyo “to communicate the firm commitment of the Obama administration to continuing to strengthen the U.S.-Japan alliance,” said another member of the delegation, Daniel R. Russel, the National Security Council’s senior director for Asia. The delegation also praised the Abe administration’s efforts to strengthen ties with the United States. At Japan’s request, the two nations began talks today on updating guidelines that were written in 1997 to govern how the American and Japanese militaries would cooperate during a crisis, Japanese officials said. Another goal was to privately urge that the hawkish Abe not worsen ties with South Korea by revising official apologies made by Japan in the 1990s to victims of its early 20th-century militarism, analysts and Japanese politicians said. When asked whether he raised the sexual slave issue in his talks with Japanese officials, Campbell said, “We support the efforts that the Japanese government has taken to reach out to South Korea,” an apparent reference to a special emissary whom Abe sent to Seoul this month to mend fences by meeting with the incoming president. (Martin Fackler, “U.S. Calls for ‘Cooler Heads’ in Dispute over Asian Islands,” New York Times, January 18, 2013, p. A-12)


1/18/13:
The United States and China have made a deal under which the UN Security Council will expand existing sanctions against North Korea for staging a ballistic missile test, envoys said. The deal was struck after weeks of intense negotiations following the launch. The talks have involved US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, according to envoys. China is studying a proposed Security Council resolution that is expected to be quickly sent to all 15 members and could be passed next week, diplomats said. The United States has sought a Security Council resolution with tough new sanctions against the nuclear-armed North for the rocket launch. But China wants to shield its ally against new action on top of sanctions ordered after its nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. It wanted only a lower level council statement. “This is a compromise,” said one diplomat with knowledge of the negotiations. “The United States will get a formal resolution and widening use of the existing measures. China can say that it has avoided new sanctions.” Another envoy said: “It is just awaiting China’s final approval.” (AFP, “U.S., China Agree on N. Korea Sanctions Deal,” January 19. 2013)

SecState Clinton: “On North Korea we shared our joint commitment to strong action in the UN Security Council. I also assured the Foreign Minister that we would continue to support Japan’s efforts to return Japanese citizens who have been abducted by the DPRK. With regard to regional security, I reiterated longstanding American policy on the Senkaku Islands and our treaty obligations. As I’ve said many times before, although the United States does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the islands, we acknowledge they are under the administration of Japan and we oppose any unilateral actions that would seek to undermine Japanese administration and we urge all parties to take steps to prevent incidents and manage disagreements through peaceful means. We also discussed how we can do more to strengthen our already strong alliance. We discussed base realignment issues. We both want to reduce the impact of our bases on host communities while maintaining the ability to defend Japan’s territory and people and preserve stability and security. We are confident that we can make progress on force realignment in Okinawa, including moving ahead with construction of the Futenma replacement facility. … Now, I am very pleased to announce that we have extended an invitation to Prime Minister Abe to come to Washington to meet with President Obama in the third week of February. … FM Kishida: As for Japan’s ties with the ROK are concerned, I indicated our determination to further deepen our relationship with South Korea, taking the opportunity of birth of new governments in both Japan and South Korea. On North Korea, we confirmed that close collaboration be continued between Japan and the United States, as well as between Japan, United States, and South Korea. Specifically referring to the missile launch last December, we agreed to continue with our close cooperation so that the United Nations Security Council takes effective measures as expeditiously as possible. Further, I explained to the Secretary how seriously the new administration is taking with the abduction issue, and sought continued understanding and cooperation by the United States. Secretary Clinton responded by saying that the United States supports the resolution of the abduction problem. Q: (Via interpreter.) I have a question to Secretary and Ministry. China is becoming ever more active in Senkaku Islands and the surrounding area. The missile launch by DPRK also manifests the ever more challenging situation and security environment in the region. In order to enhance the alliance between Japan and the United States, how do you intend to overcome the pending issues between the two countries, such as Futenma relocation, The Hague treaty, and TPP? And how do you intend to utilize the gains from this foreign ministerial meeting to the future of these two — the relationship between the two countries? FM Kishida: (Via interpreter) Then if I may take the floor, first of all, first and foremost, the security environment in the Asia Pacific region is becoming ever more challenging and difficult, and in order to ensure the peace and stability of the region, we not only need to closen ties in the areas of economy and security, but in all areas such as culture and people-to-people exchange to reinforce Japan-U.S. alliance. On the security front, it is necessary that we further uplift the level of deterrence under the Japan-U.S. security regime. We will coordinate with the strategy of the United States, placing focus on the Asia Pacific to further enhance cooperation in this area. … Clinton: As I said at the outset, we certainly discussed the Senkaku Islands today. And I reiterated, as I have to our Chinese friends, that we want to see China and Japan resolve this matter peacefully through dialogue, and we applaud the early steps taken by Prime Minister Abe’s government to reach out and begin discussions. We want to see the new leaders, both in Japan and in China, get off to a good start with each other in the interest of the security of the entire region. And we have also, as I said earlier, made clear that we do not want to see any action taken by anyone that could raise tensions or result in miscalculations that would undermine the peace, security, and economic growth in this region. So certainly, we are hopeful that there can be an ongoing consultation that will lower tensions, prevent escalation, and permit China and Japan to discuss the range of other issues on which they have important concerns.” (DoS, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Remarks with Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio, Washington, January 18, 2013)

People-to-people exchanges between the two Koreas have been drastically reduced during the Lee Myung-bak government’s five-year term, government data showed. The number of North Koreans who visited the South over the last five years was 724, about one-sixth of the figure recorded during the previous administration, according to the data from the Unification Ministry. The number recorded last year was zero for the first time in 14 years. The number of South Koreans who met their separated families in the North plunged to 1,774, a sharp decrease from 14,600 recorded during the former government’s term, the data showed. The total number of North and South Korean people who traveled to each other’s countries was around 664,000, a large increase compared with around 392,000 recorded during the former government. But most of the people that make up the figure are South Koreans, a large portion of who are those working at the inter-Korean industrial complex in Kaesong. The complex, which opened in 2004, has been exempt from Seoul’s ban on economic cooperation and exchanges with Pyongyang. Thanks to the exemption, the total volume of two-way trade through the complex from 2008-2012 jumped around sevenfold to $6.69 billion. During the previous government, it was around $957 million. As a result, overall trade vole rose to $8.94 billion from$5.62 billion. According to the ministry’s data, the number of inter-Korean cooperation projects Seoul signed was 108 while the figure for the previous government was 370. Financial support dropped to 256 trillion won from 1,274 trillion. Among the projects, the number of those related to social and cultural exchanges was only five while the figure under the Roh government was 121. (Sung Sang-ho, “Inter-Korea Exchanges Drop Sharply under Lee,” Korea Herald, January 18, 2013)


1/21/13:
Obama second inaugural: “We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. (APPLAUSE) Our brave men and women in uniform tempered by the flames of battle are unmatched in skill and courage. (APPLAUSE) Our citizens seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty. The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace, and not just the war. Who turn sworn enemies into the surest of friends. And we must carry those lessons into this time as well. We will defend our people, and uphold our values through strength of arms, and the rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully. Not because we are naive about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. (APPLAUSE) America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe. And we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad. For no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice. Not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes; tolerance and opportunity, human dignity and justice.” (Transcript of President Barack Obama’s Second Inaugural Address, January 21, 2013)

North Korea has secured technology to develop 10,000-km-range intercontinental ballistic missiles and most of their parts, the Defense Ministry concluded. Announcing its final analysis of North Korean rocket debris retrieved from the West Sea last month, the ministry said Pyongyang had imported 10 ancillary parts from China and four European Union countries to make the three-stage rocket. The ministry did not disclose the names of the EU countries out of concern of possible diplomatic difficulties with them. The parts can also be used commercially and there were no parts made in Middle East states, it added. The authorities are investigating whether the exports contravene U.N. resolutions and other international rules of arms control that ban any missile-related transactions with the North. “Most of the core components for the long-range rocket were indigenously produced. But the North used imported secondary parts such as the temperature sensor, direct-current converter, pressure sensor and electrical wires,” a ministry official said on condition of anonymity. “Despite international sanctions that restrict its efforts to introduce advanced technology and components from overseas, it has greatly advanced its missile technology based on the experience from many experiments.” (Sung Sang-ho, “North Korean Missile Had Chinese Parts,” Korea Herald, January 21, 2013) North Korea is presumed to have the technological prowess to develop a 10,000 kilometer-range intercontinental ballistic missile without foreign help, an analysis of the debris from the North Korean rocket retrieved in South Korea’s West Sea showed on January 21. North Korea independently built most of the key parts of its long-range rocket launched last month, with the exception of some commercially available materials imported from overseas, experts who conducted the analysis said. More than 50 experts, including those from the United States, participated in the intensive analysis starting on December 14. “Although North Korea was restricted from securing advanced technologies and materials due to the international sanctions, it has honed its long-range ballistic missile technology through several tests and experience,” an intelligence official at Seoul’s defense ministry said, asking for anonymity. The analysis revealed that Pyongyang had used four Rodong missile engines and four vernier engines for the first stage booster to produce 120-ton thrust. About 10 components, including wires, an electric censor and a power voltage converter were found to have been imported from five countries, including China and European nations, the report said, without disclosing all of their names, citing diplomatic issues. But there were no foreign materials that violated the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a voluntary guideline shared by 34 countries aimed at limiting exports of delivery systems and related technology for ballistic missiles, it said. “Although there were no imported goods that violate the MTCR, the international community will have discussions about whether to add the imported materials to the list of controlled items,” the official said. Seoul officials said there will be further investigations to figure out whether the five countries violated the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874 banning weapons exports and financial transactions between U.N. members and North Korea. The South Korean government plans to submit the report to the U.N. and MTCR members through diplomatic channels, according to officials. The North’s Unha-3 rocket is 30 meters long, including a 15-meter first stage, a 9.3-meter second stage, a 3.7-meter third stage, and a 2-meter satellite carrier on top. Together with a 48-ton oxidizer container, the rocket is estimated to weigh 91 tons, the report noted. The rocket itself was made of a mixture of aluminum and magnesium, AIMg6, and used kerosene, a combustible hydrocarbon liquid, as fuel, according to the report. The oxidizer container was made of several patch panels, which showed poor welding and uneven surfaces, an indication that North Korea seems to have no advanced technology in that area, the report said. The outcome of the analysis is significant in that it provided a detailed look at the engines of the North Korean long-range rocket and exact technological level of North Korea’s missile development to the outside world for the first time. The analysis was possible because the South Korean military retrieved the first-stage booster almost intact. (Yonhap, “North Korea Independently Builds Long-Range Rocket: Analysis,” North Korea Newsletter No. 246 (January 24, 2013)


1/22/13:
The Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea 15 to 0 for launching a rocket last month, with China taking an uncommon step by joining the criticism. The United States and China said they had worked closely on drafting the resolution, with Security Council diplomats saying they wanted to get it passed before South Korea takes over the monthly rotating presidency of the Security Council in February. Despite China’s rejection of proposals by the United States to add new sanctions, the Obama administration sought to characterize the vote as a tough response. “This resolution demonstrates to North Korea that there are unanimous and significant consequences for its flagrant violation of its obligations under previous resolutions,” said Susan E. Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations. The measure said the Council “deplores the violations” of previous resolutions, which barred North Korea from undertaking new nuclear or ballistic missile tests. The resolution added four organizations and six individuals to an existing blacklist, including the North Korean space agency, the Korean Committee for Space Technology. It also threatened more measures for any new launchings. China’s ambassador to the United Nations, Li Baodong, emphasized that the resolution stressed the need for negotiations to resume over ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons program; known as the six-party talks, they include both Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States. “We believe that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is at a crossroads,” Li said. “There is an opportunity for all stakeholders on the Korean Peninsula to start the diplomatic track and to avoid the escalation of tension.” North Korea reacted swiftly and angrily to the resolution, threatening to accelerate its military advances, including nuclear weapons, and reject any effort to resume the six-party talks. “We will take measures to boost and strengthen our defensive military power including nuclear deterrence,” its Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by KCNA. (Neil MacFarquhar, “Security Council Condemns North Korea Rocket Launching,” New York Times, January 23, 2013, p. A-6)

UNSC Resolution 2087: “The Security Council,

Recalling its previous relevant resolutions, including resolution 825 (1993), resolution 1540 (2004), resolution 1695 (2006), resolution 1718 (2006), resolution 1874 (2009), resolution 1887 (2009), as well as the statements of its President of 6 October 2006 (S/PRST/2006/41), 13 April 2009 (S/PRST/2009/7) and 16 April 2012 (S/PRST/2012/13),

Recognizing the freedom of all States to explore and use outer space in accordance with international law, including restrictions imposed by relevant Security Council resolutions,

“1. Condemns the DPRK’s launch of 12 December 2012, which used ballistic missile technology and was in violation of resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009);

“2. Demands that the DPRK not proceed with any further launches using ballistic missile technology, and comply with resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009) by suspending all activities related to its ballistic missile programme and in this context re-establish its pre-existing commitments to a moratorium on missile launches;

“3. Demands that the DPRK immediately comply fully with its obligations under resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009), including that it: abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner; immediately cease all related activities; and not conduct any further launches that use ballistic missile technology, nuclear test or any further provocation;

“4. Reaffirms its current sanctions measures contained in resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009);

“5. Recalls the measures imposed by paragraph 8 of resolution 1718 (2006), as modified by resolution 1874 (2009), and determines that:

(a) The measures specified in paragraph 8 (d) of resolution 1718 (2006) shall apply to the individuals and entities listed in Annex I and II, and the measures specified in paragraph 8 (e) of resolution 1718 (2006) shall apply to the individuals listed in Annex I; and,

(b) The measures imposed in paragraph 8 (a), 8 (b) and 8 (c) of resolution 1718 (2006) shall apply to the items in INFCIRC/254/Rev.11/Part 1 and INFCIRC/254/Rev.8/Part 2 and S/2012/947;

“6. Recalls paragraph 18 of resolution 1874 (2009), and calls upon Member States to exercise enhanced vigilance in this regard, including monitoring the activities of their nationals, persons in their territories, financial institutions, and other entities organized under their laws (including branches abroad) with or on behalf of financial institutions in the DPRK, or of those that act on behalf or at the direction of DPRK financial institutions, including their branches, representatives, agents and subsidiaries abroad;

“7. Directs the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1718 (2006) to issue an Implementation Assistance Notice regarding situations where a vessel has refused to allow an inspection after such an inspection has been authorized by the vessel’s Flag State or if any DPRK-flagged vessel has refused to be inspected pursuant to paragraph 12 of resolution 1874 (2009);

“8. Recalls paragraph 14 of resolution 1874 (2009), recalls further that States may seize and dispose of items consistent with the provisions of resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009) and this resolution, and further clarifies that methods for States to dispose include, but are not limited to, destruction, rendering inoperable, storage or transferring to another State other than the originating or destination States for disposal;

“9. Clarifies that the measures imposed in resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009) prohibit the transfer of any items if a State relevant to a transaction has information that provides reasonable grounds to believe that a designated individual or entity is the originator, intended recipient or facilitator of the item’s transfer;

“10. Calls upon Member States which have not yet done so to report on the measures they have taken to implement the provisions of resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009), encourages other Member States to submit, if any, additional information on implementing the provisions of resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009);

“11. Encourages international agencies to take necessary steps to ensure that all their activities with respect to the DPRK are consistent with the provisions of resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009), and further encourages relevant agencies to engage with the Committee regarding their activities with respect to the DPRK that may relate to provisions of these resolutions;

“12. Deplores the violations of the measures imposed in resolution 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009), including the use of bulk cash to evade sanctions, underscores its concern over the supply, sale or transfer to or from the DPRK or through States’ territories of any item that could contribute to activities prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006) or 1874 (2009) and the importance of appropriate action by States in this regard, calls on States to exercise vigilance and restraint regarding the entry into or transit through their territories of individuals working on behalf or at the direction of a designated individual or entity, directs the Committee to review reported violations and take action as appropriate, including through designating entities and individuals that have assisted the evasion of sanctions or in violating the provisions of resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009);

“13. Emphasizes the importance of all States, including the DPRK, taking the necessary measures to ensure that no claim shall lie at the instance of the DPRK, or of any person or entity in the DPRK, or of persons or entities designated pursuant to resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009), or any person claiming through or for the benefit of any such person or entity, in connection with any contract or other transaction where its performance was prevented by reason of the measures imposed by resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009);

“14. Reaffirms its desire for a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation, welcomes efforts by Council members as well as other States to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue, and underlines the need to refrain from any action that might aggravate tensions;

“15. Reaffirms its support to the Six Party Talks, calls for their resumption, urges all the participants to intensify their efforts on the full and expeditious implementation of the 19 September 2005 Joint Statement issued by China, the DPRK, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the United States, with a view to achieving the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner and to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in northeast Asia;

“16. Calls upon all Member States to implement fully their obligations pursuant to resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009);

“17. Reemphasizes that all Member States should comply with the provisions of paragraphs 8 (a) (iii) and 8 (d) of resolution 1718 (2006) without prejudice to the activities of the diplomatic missions in the DPRK pursuant to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations;

“18. Underlines that measures imposed by resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009) are not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences for the civilian population of the DPRK;

“19. Affirms that it shall keep the DPRK’s actions under continuous review and is prepared to strengthen, modify, suspend or lift the measures as may be needed in light of the DPRK’s compliance, and, in this regard, expresses its determination to take significant action in the event of a further DPRK launch or nuclear test;

“20. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

Resolution Annex I

Travel Ban/Asset Freeze

1. PAEK CHANG-HO

a. Description: senior official and head of the satellite control center of Korean Committee for Space Technology.

b. AKA: Pak Chang-Ho; Paek Ch’ang-Ho

c. Identifiers: Passport: 381420754; Passport Date of Issue: 7 December 2011; Passport Date of Expiration: 7 December 2016; D.O.B. 18 June 1964; P.O.B. Kaesong, DPRK

2. CHANG MYONG-CHIN

a. Description: General Manager of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station and head of launch center at which the 13 April and 12 December 2012 launches took place.

b. AKA: Jang Myong-Jin

c. Identifiers: D.O.B. 1966; Alt. D.O.B. 1965

3. RA KY’ONG-SU

a. Description: Ra Ky’ong-Su is a Tanchon Commercial Bank (TCB) official. In this capacity he has facilitated transactions for TCB. Tanchon was designated by the Committee in April 2009 as the main DPRK financial entity responsible for sales of conventional arms, ballistic missiles, and goods related to the assembly and manufacture of such weapons.

4. KIM KWANG-IL

a. Description: Kim Kwang-il is a Tanchon Commercial Bank (TCB) official. In this capacity, he has facilitated transactions for TCB and the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID). Tanchon was designated by the Committee in April 2009 as the main DPRK financial entity responsible for sales of conventional arms, ballistic missiles, and goods related to the assembly and manufacture of such weapons. KOMID was designated by the Committee in April 2009 and is the DPRK’s primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons.

Annex II

Asset Freeze

1. KOREAN COMMITTEE FOR SPACE TECHNOLOGY

a. Description: The Korean Committee for Space Technology (KCST) orchestrated the DPRK’s launches on 13 April 2012 and 12 December 2012 via the satellite control center and Sohae launch area.

b. AKA: DPRK Committee for Space Technology; Department of Space Technology of the DPRK; Committee for Space Technology; KCST

c. Location: Pyongyang, DPRK

2. BANK OF EAST LAND

a. Description: DPRK financial institution Bank of East Land facilitates weapons-related transactions for, and other support to, arms manufacturer and exporter Green Pine Associated Corporation (Green Pine). Bank of East Land has actively worked with Green Pine to transfer funds in a manner that circumvents sanctions. In 2007 and 2008, Bank of East Land facilitated transactions involving Green Pine and Iranian financial institutions, including Bank Melli and Bank Sepah. The Security Council designated Bank Sepah in resolution 1747 (2007) for providing support to Iran’s ballistic missile programme. Green Pine was designated by the Committee in April 2012.

b. AKA: Dongbang BANK; TONGBANG U’NHAENG; TONGBANG BANK

c. Location: P.O. Box 32, BEL Building, Jonseung-Dung, Moranbong District, Pyongyang, DPRK

3. KOREA KUMRYONG TRADING CORPORATION

a. Description: Used as an alias by the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID) to carry out procurement activities. KOMID was designated by the Committee in April 2009 and is the DPRK’s primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons.

4. TOSONG TECHNOLOGY TRADING CORPORATION

a. Description: The Korea Mining Development Corporation (KOMID) is the parent company of Tosong Technology Trading Corporation. KOMID was designated by the Committee in April 2009 and is the DPRK’s primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons.

b. Location: Pyongyang, DPRK

5. KOREA RYONHA MACHINERY JOINT VENTURE CORPORATION

a. Description: Korea Ryonbong General Corporation is the parent company of Korea Ryonha Machinery Joint Venture Corporation. Korea Ryonbong General Corporation was designated by the Committee in April 2009 and is a defence conglomerate specializing in acquisition for DPRK defence industries and support to that country’s military-related sales.

b. AKA: CHOSUN YUNHA MACHINERY JOINT OPERATION COMPANY; KOREA RYENHA MACHINERY J/V CORPORATION; RYONHA MACHINERY JOINT VENTURE CORPORATION

c. Location: Central District, Pyongyang, DPRK; Mangungdae-gu, Pyongyang, DPRK; Mangyongdae District, Pyongyang, DPRK

6. LEADER (HONG KONG) INTERNATIONAL

a. Description: Facilitates shipments on behalf of the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID). KOMID was designated by the Committee in April 2009 and is the DPRK’s primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons.

b. AKA: Leader International Trading Limited

c. Location: Room 1610 Nan Fung Tower, 173 Des Voeux Road, Hong Kong” (UN Security Council, Text of Resolution 2087 (2013)


1/23/13:
DPRK FoMin spokesman: “The DPRK’s successful launch of satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2 in December last year fully demonstrated its space science and technology and its overall national power. This is a stark fact favored by the world and recognized even by hostile forces, including the United States. In the wake of desperate efforts on the part of the U.S. and its followers to block the victorious advance of the DPRK, they cooked up a “resolution” of the UN Security Council on Tuesday in wanton violation of the inviolable sovereignty of the DPRK.

The U.S.-sponsored “resolution” is run through with hostile steps aiming at banning the DPRK’s satellite launch for peaceful purposes and tightening “sanctions” against it to block its economic development and hamstring its effort for developing the economy and bolstering up defense capability.

The above-said countries insist that the DPRK’s satellite launch is problematic, asserting that “it uses ballistic missile technology” though they know better than any others about the fact that ballistic missile technology is the only means for launching satellite and they launch satellites more than any others. This is self-deception and the height of double-standards.

The essence of the matter is the U.S. brigandish logic that a satellite launch for peaceful purposes by a country which the U.S. antagonizes should not be allowed because any carrier rocket launched by it can be converted into long-range ballistic missile threatening the U.S.

The UNSC is a marionette of the U.S. The UNSC “resolutions” adopted under the pretext of the DPRK’s satellite launches are products of its blind pursuance of the hostile policy of the U.S. seeking disarmament of the DPRK and collapse of its social system in violation of the universally accepted international law.

Repeating wrongdoings without courage or responsibility to rectify them are despicable behaviors of cowards deceiving themselves and others. They are putting the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region at greater peril.

The present situation clearly proves that the DPRK should counter the U.S. hostile policy with strength, not with words and that the road of independence and Songun chosen by the DPRK is entirely just.

To cope with the prevailing situation, the DPRK Foreign Ministry declares as follows:

First, the DPRK flatly rejects the unjust acts of the UNSC aimed at wantonly violating the sovereignty of the DPRK and depriving it of the right to launch satellites for peaceful purposes. The hostile forces are seriously mistaken if they think they can bring down the DPRK with sanctions and pressure, and such an attempt will always bring them a disgraceful defeat. The UNSC should apologize for its crime of seriously encroaching upon the independence of a sovereign state, following the U.S. policy hostile to the DPRK in disregard of the universally recognized international law, and repeal all the unreasonable “resolutions” at once.

Second, the DPRK will continue to exercise its independent and legitimate right to launch satellites for peaceful purposes while abiding by the universally recognized international law on the use of space for peaceful purposes. Scientists and technicians of the DPRK will develop and launch many more application satellites, including communications satellite, and more powerful carrier rockets essential for building an economic giant in the same spirit and mettle as were displayed in successfully launching satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2. The DPRK will continuously launch satellites for peaceful purposes to conquer space and become a world-level space power.

Third, the DPRK drew a final conclusion that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is impossible unless the denuclearization of the world is realized as it has become clear now that the U.S. policy hostile to the DPRK remains unchanged. The September 19 joint statement adopted at the six-party talks on the principle of respect for sovereignty and equality has now become defunct and the prospect for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has become gloomier, due to the U.S. hostile policy to the DPRK that has become evermore pronounced. There may be talks for peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the region in the future, but no talks for the denuclearization of the peninsula.

Fourth, the DPRK will take steps for physical counteraction to bolster the military capabilities for self defense, including the nuclear deterrence, both qualitatively and quantitatively to cope with the evermore undisguised moves of the U.S. to apply sanctions and pressure against the DPRK. The revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will reliably defend the security and sovereignty of the country and safeguard the regional peace and stability with the might of Songun. They are full of the steadfast will to take a bold step to root out the source of provocations the hostile forces seek to continue against the DPRK. No force on earth can block the progress of the great people proud of independence, powerful thanks to Songun politics and united closely on the basis of truth.” (KCNA, “DPRK Refutes UNSC’s ‘Resolution’ Pulling up DPRK over Its Satellite Launch,” January 23, 2013)

North Korea said that its nuclear weapon program was no longer negotiable, and indicated that it might conduct its third nuclear test to retaliate against the United Nations Security Council’s tightening of sanctions against the isolated yet highly militarized country. North Korea said that it will take “physical counteraction” to bolster its “nuclear deterrence both qualitatively and quantitatively.” It said, “There can be talks for peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the region in the future, but no talks for the denuclearization of the peninsula.” By “physical counteraction,” analysts in Seoul said, North Korea most likely meant detonating another nuclear device to demonstrate advances in bomb-making. After analyzing the debris of the rocket North Korea fired in December to put a satellite into orbit, South Korean officials said that North Korea indigenously built key components of a missile that can fly more than 6,200 miles. Although it was not the first time North Korea issued such strident rhetoric, its posture, coming under the new leadership of Kim Jong-un, threw a direct challenge to President Barack Obama as he starts his second term, and Park Geun-hye, who will be sworn in as president of South Korea next month. After years of tensions with North Korea, both Obama and Park have recently said they were keeping the door open for dialogue with North Korea on the premise that such engagement should lead to the eventual dismantling of its nuclear weapons program. The analysts said Washington would watch whether a new nuclear test involved a uranium device, as opposed to the previous two tests that used plutonium bombs. North Korea has recently revved up efforts to enrich uranium, ostensibly as fuel for its new nuclear reactor under construction but for practical purposes as a new and more stable source of fuel for nuclear bombs. “A nuclear test is the most likely option for the North,” said Choi Jin-wook, an analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul. In recent months, international experts have detected what appeared to be new tunneling activities and efforts to fix flood damages in the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in northeastern North Korea. Kim Min-seok, spokesman for the Defense Ministry of South Korea, told reporters last month that North Korea could conduct a third nuclear in a short notice once its leadership decided to. North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test in Punggye-ri in 2006 and again in 2009. Each of those tests came as North Korea was protesting a United Nations’ decision to impose more sanctions as punishment for rocket tests. Washington and its allies “know better than any others about the fact that ballistic missile technology is the only means for launching satellite and they launch satellites more than any others,” the North Korean statement said on Wednesday. “This is self-deception and the height of double-standards. The essence of the matter is the U.S. brigandish logic that a satellite launch for peaceful purposes by a country which the U.S. antagonizes should not be allowed because any carrier rocket launched by it can be converted into long-range ballistic missile threatening the U.S.” In recent years, North Korea has made it increasingly clear that it is determined to keep its nuclear weapons at whatever costs, undermining a once-popular belief that the Pyongyang regime’s brinkmanship was a mere bargaining ploy designed to get as many concessions as possible in exchange for nuclear weapons. On Wednesday, blaming Washington’s “hostile policy,” the North said it “drew a final conclusion that denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is impossible unless the denuclearization of the world is realized.” The 2005 deal in which North Korea and the United States agreed in principle upon the dismantling of the North’s nuclear weapons program in return for diplomatic incentives “has now become defunct,” it said. “This is a strong message from North Korea basically saying that no matter how much economic aid it receives, no matter how flexible other countries become, it will be negotiating only on the premise that it will be accepted and treated as a nuclear power,” said Choi. “The North is sending a wake-up alarm to Washington and Seoul if they still believed that they could negotiate an end to the North’s nuclear weapons.” Since her December election, Ms. Park, the incoming South Korean president, has stressed that she would “never tolerate” the North’s nuclear program and that any large-scale economic aid for the North will be possible only after North Korea builds “trust’ through steps towards denuclearization. Analysts said that North Korea’s sense of crisis in the face of international sanctions hardened its determination to acquire nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, turning them into a centerpiece of its national pride and sense of empowerment, as seen in its national celebration over the success of its December rocket launching. But that policy in turn further isolated and impoverished the country. “North Korea would consider giving up its nuclear weapons only when it was provided with a comprehensive package of incentives that address its security dilemma,” said Hong Hyun-ik, senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute. “But the United State sand South Korea have never really offered such a package.” (Choe Sang-hun, “North Korea Hints at New Nuclear Test in Rebuke to U.N.,” New York Times, January 23, 2013, p. A-5)

Glyn Davies: “Q: North Korea hinted earlier today it conduct nuclear test. What is U.S. government response to that? DAVIES: I am sorry. I have not read the — I knew there was a North Korean reaction. But did they say that they plan to conduct a nuclear test? Q: Hinted. DAVIES: They hinted. Well, they have been hinting at that, I suppose, for some time. We think that that would be a mistake, obviously. We call on North Korea, as does the entire international community, not to engage in any further provocations. It is important that they heed the voice of the international community as contained in the Security Council resolution. And again, if they live up to their obligations, in particular if they can get back to the spirit of the September 2005 Joint Statement, and begin to take concrete steps to indicate their interest in returning to diplomacy, they may find in their negotiating partners willing partners in that process. But it is very much up to North Korea, up to the DPRK, to draw the appropriate lessons from this action by the United Nations Security Council, and what I will be doing is discussing with Korean counterparts today, tomorrow and briefly, I think, on the following day, steps that we can take now that the Security Council has acted. It is very important, I think, that all of us act in the spirit expressed by President-elect Park Geun-hye in her Foreign Affairs article that was published several months ago, in which she talked about various paths forward on North Korea. And I am here really to do much more listening than talking to learn more from Korean counterparts about their thinking and to see how we might work together as close allies to deepen our alliance and to find ways forward on North Korea. Q: There are clear signs that nuclear test take place anytime soon. DAVIES: Yes, I understand you want me to react to this issue of a nuclear test. The truth is, it is up to North Korea whether they test or not. This is not something that they can credibly claim is in reaction to steps taken by the international community. We would call on them not to engage in further provocations, and we are joined by the international community in that appeal. Now is not a time to make the situation on the Korean Peninsula any more tense. Now is a time to begin to think about a path forward away from provocation, a path forward toward peace, toward prosperity, and toward meeting the needs of the North Korean people. And as I say, and as President Obama has articulated, the United States will always extend a hand if North Korea takes the path of peace. So, what I do not want to do is hold all of my discussions with Republic of Korea officials here at the airport with you. I would like to go talk to them. So with your permission, what I will do is go on into Seoul and I look very much forward to my discussions with Korean counterparts.” (Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies, Remarks to the Press at Incheon International Airport, January 23, 2013)

Chinese president-in waiting Xi Jinping’s support today for denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will put “considerable pressure” on North Korea, according to a diplomatic source in Beijing. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesmen frequently call for denuclearization and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction on the Korean Peninsula, but the pressure will be much greater now that China’s leader has directly expressed his commitment. “For North Korea China’s consent to additional sanctions will be very disappointing,” the source added. “But given its dependency on Beijing, Pyongyang will not be able to ignore Xi’s remark completely and go ahead with another nuclear test.” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei today called for resumption of the six-party denuclearization talks, even though North Korea thundered there would be no more talks about abandoning its nuclear program. Hong said achieving peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula through denuclearization is in the “common interest” of countries in Northeast Asia. (Chosun Ilbo, “Xi’s Call for Denuclearization ‘to Put Pressure on N. Korea,” January 24, 2013)

South Korea and the United States are considering slapping their own “additional sanctions” on North Korea in addition to a new U.N. resolution that increased sanctions against the North for its December rocket launch, a senior Seoul diplomat said yesterday. The idea of Seoul and Washington imposing their own sanctions against Pyongyang will be one of the topics for today’s talks in Seoul between Glyn Davies and South Korea’s chief nuclear envoy Lim Sung-nam. (Yonhap, “S. Korea, U.S. Ponder ‘Additional Sanctions’ against N. Korea,” January 23, 2013)


1/24/13:
National Defense Commission statement: “Our successful launch of satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2 was a great jubilee in the history of the nation as it placed the nation’s dignity and honor on the highest plane and a spectacular success made in the efforts to develop space for peaceful purposes recognized by the world.

The world people who love justice and value conscience unanimously rejoice as their own over the signal success made by our country, not a big one, by its own efforts.

Even space institutions of a hostile country accustomed to have repugnancy towards others could not but recognize the DPRK’s successful satellite launch for peaceful purposes, from a low-profile stance.

This being a hard reality, the U.S. at the outset of the year termed our satellite launch “long-range missile launch,” “wanton violation” of the UN resolutions and “blatant challenge” to world peace and security in a bid to build up public opinion on this. Finally, it prodded the UNSC into cooking up a new resolution on tightening sanctions against the DPRK.

The keynote of the resolution was worked out through backstage dealing with the U.S. as a main player and it was adopted at the UNSC with blind hand-raising by its member nations. This goes to clearly prove that the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK has entered a new dangerous phase.

This shows, at the same time, that those big countries, which are obliged to take the lead in building a fair world order, are abandoning without hesitation even elementary principle, under the influence of the U.S. arbitrary and high-handed practices, failing to come to their senses.

Moreover, this also indicates that the UNSC, which should regard it as its mission to guarantee sovereign rights and security of its member nations, has turned into a defunct marionette international body on which no hope can be pinned.

The DPRK National Defense Commission solemnly declares as follows as regards the adoption of the entirely unreasonable resolution on the DPRK:

We totally reject all the illegal resolutions on the DPRK adopted by the UNSC.

We have never recognized all forms of base resolutions tightening sanctions cooked up by the hostile forces to encroach upon the DPRK’s sovereignty.

Sovereignty is what keeps a country and nation alive.

The country and the nation without sovereignty are more dead than alive.

The satellite launch was the exercise of an independent right pertaining to the DPRK as well as its legitimate sovereignty recognized by international law.

Therefore, the U.S. and those countries which launched satellites before have neither justification nor reason to find fault with the DPRK’s satellite launch.

They are making a brigandish assertion that what they launched were satellites but what other country launched was a long-range missile. They are seriously mistaken if they think this assertion can work in the bright world today.

The U.S. should clearly know that the times have changed and so have the army and the people of the DPRK.

Along with the nationwide efforts to defend the sovereignty, the DPRK will continue launching peaceful satellites to outer space one after another.

  1. As the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK has entered more dangerous phase, overall efforts should be directed to denuclearizing big powers including the U.S. rather than the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The biggest threat to the peace and security on the Korean Peninsula is the hostile policy toward the DPRK being pursued by all kinds of dishonest forces including the U.S. as well as the U.S. huge nuclear armed forces that back the policy.

The army and people of the DPRK drew a final conclusion that only when the denuclearization of the world is realized on a perfect and preferential basis including the denuclearization of the U.S., will it be possible to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and ensure peace and security of the DPRK.

The U.S. is taking the lead in encroaching upon the sovereignty of the DPRK, its allies are siding with it and the UN Security Council has been reduced into an organization bereft of impartiality and balance. Under this situation the DPRK can not but declare that there will no longer exist the six-party talks and the September 19 joint statement.

No dialogue on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula will be possible in the future even though there may be dialogues and negotiations on ensuring peace and security in the region including the Korean Peninsula.

  1. We will launch an all-out action to foil the hostile policy toward the DPRK being pursued by the U.S. and those dishonest forces following the U.S., and safeguard the sovereignty of the country and the nation.

The UN Security Council resolution on expanding sanctions against the DPRK, which was adopted on the initiative of the U.S., represents the most dangerous phase of the hostile policy toward the DPRK.

The army and people of the DPRK will never remain an on-looker to such happenings in which the sovereignty of the nation is encroached upon and the supreme interests of the country are violated.

Under the prevailing situation, the army and people of the DPRK will turn out in an all-out action to defend its sovereignty which is more precious than their own lives and frustrate the moves of the U.S. and its allies to isolate and stifle the DPRK.

The drive for building an economic power being pushed forward by the army and people of the DPRK, the effort to conquer space that has entered a new phase and the endeavors to bolster the deterrence for safeguarding the country and defending its security will all orientate toward the purpose of winning in the all-out action for foiling the U.S. and all other hostile forces’ maneuvers.

We do not hide that a variety of satellites and long-range rockets which will be launched by the DPRK one after another and a nuclear test of higher level which will be carried out by it in the upcoming all-out action, a new phase of the anti-U.S. struggle that has lasted century after century, will target against the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people.

Settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words as it regards jungle law as the rule of its survival.

The world will clearly see how the army and people of the DPRK punish all kinds of hostile forces and emerge as a final victor while following the just road of defending its sovereignty, convinced of the justice of its cause.”

(KCNA, “DPRK NDC Issues Statement Refuting UNSC Resolution,” January 24, 2013)

North Korea said that its threatened nuclear test is directed at the United States. The statement by the North’s National Defense Commission (NDC) came directly after Glyn Davies, U.S. special envoy for North Korea policy, urged Pyongyang to stand down. “We do not hide that a variety of satellites and long-range rockets which will be launched (by the North) one after another and a nuclear test of higher level which will be carried out in the upcoming all-out action … will target the U.S.,” the NDC said in a dispatch carried by the North’s Korean Central News Agency. It didn’t elaborate what concessions it wants to extract from the U.S. with its nuclear test, but added that the move would aim to “foil” Washington’s “hostile policy.” Korea Institute of National Unification analyst Park Young-ho said the statement was in line [?] with the North’s “aggressive tit-for-tat” strategy toward Washington. Pyongyang wants the U.S. to sign a peace treaty to end the 1950-53 Korean War and withdraw its troops from the peninsula. “The North continues to argue that denuclearization should go alongside a U.S. shift that throws away Washington’s so-called hostile policy,” he said. “The NDC statement falls in line with that.” (Kim Young-jin, “N.K. Says Nuclear Test Aimed at U.S. ‘Concessions,’” Korea Times, January 24, 2013) [?]

Davies: “Why am I here with Syd Seiler of the White House staff and colleagues from the State Department? Because we want to reinforce a message that our President and Secretary of State have sent. That message is that we, the United States of America, are still open to authentic and credible negotiations to implement the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement. We are willing to extend our hand if Pyongyang chooses the path of peace and progress by letting go of its nuclear weapons and its multi-stage missiles. If North Korea comes into compliance with Security Council resolutions and takes irreversible steps leading to denuclearization, the United States said we believe our other partners in the Six-Party process will do the hard work with the DPRK of finding a peaceful way forward. So our mission, starting here in Seoul, is to explore ideas for how we might move forward, how might we achieve authentic and credible negotiations. It is very much up to Pyongyang to decide. And here in Seoul especially, we want to stress one key point: Without sustained improvement in inter-Korean relations, U.S.-DPRK ties cannot fundamentally improve. This is why our talks here in Seoul are so important to us. Our alliance with the ROK is strong. It is getting stronger. We look forward with great anticipation to deepening our ties under this vibrant democracy’s new president. … Q: Will these authentic and credible negotiations be unconditional, that they won’t be conditioned on denuclearization? Following North Korean Foreign Ministry statement yesterday, how does this, you know, willingness to continue dialogue fit in? DAVIES: Well, our policy toward North Korea has been the same for a while now. It has been a dual-track policy of engagement when possible, pressure when necessary. We are, of course, in a bit of a pressure phase. But I am here because my role in this as a diplomat representing the United States is to try always creatively to look for ways forward. And we are interested, as we have been all along, as we demonstrated back in 2011 and 2012 through our 10-month effort to talk to North Korea, always interested in trying to find ways forward diplomatically with the North. I think that that has to be ultimately a multilateral process going forward. So, I am not going to get into conditionality for any diplomatic process going forward. There are obvious things that you know well about. Further provocations are not going to help the process forward. They would only retard it, make it much more difficult for us to engage. It is very important, I stressed this in my statement at the beginning, very important that North-South relations improve, and that is very much up to Pyongyang to accept any overtures it receives, not to further provoke South Korea. So all of these strictures remain in place. All of these conditions remain in place, but beyond that, it does not serve any interest for me to go into further negotiating with North Korea through my discussion here with you today. Q: What’s your prospect about North Korea’s nuclear test? DAVIES: Well, I addressed this at the airport yesterday. Whether North Korea tests or not is up to North Korea. We hope they do not do it. We call on them not to do it. It would be a mistake and a missed opportunity if they were to do it. This is not a moment to increase tensions on the Korean Peninsula. This is a moment to seize the opportunity that has been out there with the new government in Seoul, with the renewal of the mandate of the President of the United States, who has always been interested in finding diplomatic ways forward. This is an opportunity to try to find a way forward in that respect. Q: Can the U.S. government confirm that North Korea is indeed ready for a nuclear test? Because there are reports in South Korea that they are waiting on the political decision. DAVIES: All of you want to write articles about nuclear tests. And you all want to talk about how this is something that North Korea could do in reaction to steps that we take and all of the rest of it. Again, these underground tests, it is not for me to predict whether they will test or not. We hope they do not. We call on them not to do it. It would be highly provocative. It would set back the cause of trying to find a solution to these long-standing problems that have prevented the peninsula from becoming reunited. I think it is very important that they do not test. And I hope you will forgive me, but I am not going to get into talking about what is happening at Punggye, or what is not happening at Punggye, will they test, won’t they test. My point is a diplomatic point, that testing a nuclear device would be a supremely unhelpful and retrograde step by North Korea, were they to choose to do it.” (Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies, Remarks to the Press in Seoul, January 24, 2013)

At his confirmation hearing John Kerry appeared to join the critics who believe the administration has placed too much emphasis on beefing up its military presence in the region, which was bound to alienate China. “We have a lot more forces there than any other nation in the world, including China,” he said. “And the Chinese look at that and say, ‘What’s the U.S. doing? Are they trying to circle us?’ I think we need to be thoughtful in how we go forward.” (Geoff Dyer, “Kerry Trip Sets Tone for Response to North Korea,” Financial Times, April 12, 2013, p. 2) SecState-designate John Kerry confirmation hearing prepared testimony: “American foreign policy is also defined by food security and energy security, humanitarian assistance, the fight against disease and the push for development, as much as it is by any single counter terrorism initiative. It is defined by leadership on life threatening issues like climate change, or fighting to lift up millions of lives by promoting freedom and democracy from Africa to the Americas or speaking out for the prisoners of gulags in North Korea or millions of refugees and displaced persons and victims of human trafficking.”


1/25/13:
Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea statement: “The U.S. and its followers cooked up a ‘resolution on tightening sanctions’ at the UN Security Council by terming the DPRK’s satellite launch for peaceful purposes an inter-continental ballistic missile launch.

The fabrication of ‘the resolution’ this time represents the height of the hostile policy toward the DPRK and moves to escalate the confrontation with the DPRK as it is the last-ditch efforts of the hostile forces displeased with the ever-increasing authority and national power of the DPRK. What should not be overlooked is that the south Korean puppet group of traitors took the lead in fabricating the ‘resolution.’ … In view of the prevailing grave situation the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea solemnly declares the following counter-measures against the south Korean puppet group, representing the towering anger and unanimous will of the army and the people of the DPRK and all other Koreans.

Now that the south Korean puppet conservative group is more desperately kicking up a racket against the DPRK over its nuclear and missile issues with the U.S., there will be no more discussion on denuclearization between the north and the south in the future.

In this connection, we declare complete nullification of the ‘Joint Declaration on Denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula’ adopted in 1992 and its total invalidity.

The joint declaration already proved a dead paper long ago due to the moves of the U.S. and the puppet group for a nuclear war against the north and their nuclear rackets against it. It is needless to say that there is no need for us to be bound to the declaration.

As long as the south Korean puppet group of traitors persistently pursues a hostile policy toward the DPRK, we will never negotiate with anyone. The historical lesson shows that there is nothing to be solved when meeting with those who pursue confrontation with the DPRK and this will only bedevil the inter-Korean relations. The group should not think about any dialogue with us as long as it sticks to the policy of confrontation with fellow countrymen.

If the puppet group of traitors takes a direct part in the UN ‘sanctions,’ the DPRK will take strong physical counter-measures against it.

‘Sanctions’ mean a war and a declaration of war against us.

We have already declared that ‘we would react to provocation with immediate retaliatory blows and a war of aggression with a great war of justice for national reunification.’

The group would be well advised to stop acting rashly, bearing in mind this warning served by us. All our service personnel and people will never allow the reckless confrontation moves of the group. Those who dare stand in the way of our just cause will never be able to escape deadly retaliatory blows.” (KCNA, “S. Korean Authorities Accused of Fabricating ‘Resolution’ with Foreign Forces,” January 25, 2013)

Global Times: “China has a dilemma: We are further away from the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and there’s no possible way for us to search for a diplomatic balance between North Korea and South Korea, Japan and the US. China should be more relaxed and reduce our expectations on the effect of our strategies toward the peninsula. We should have a pragmatic attitude to deal with the problems and pursue the optimal ratio between our investment of resources and strategic gains. China can neither take one side of the peninsula conflict like the US and Japan nor dream of staying aloof. We should readily accept that China is involved and may offend one side or both sides. China’s role and position are clear when discussing North Korea issue in the UN Security Council. If North Korea engages in further nuclear tests, China will not hesitate to reduce its assistance to North Korea. If the US, Japan and South Korea promote extreme UN sanctions on North Korea, China will resolutely stop them and force them to amend these draft resolutions. Just let North Korea be ‘angry.’ We can’t sit by and do nothing just because we are worried it might impact the Sino-North Korean relationship. Just let the US, Japan and South Korea grumble about China. We have no obligation to soothe their feelings. Due to China’s strength, as long as our attitude is resolute, the situation will be gradually influenced by our principles and our insistence. China is a power adjacent to the Korean Peninsula. This means that our strategic interests are complex and diverse. China should maintain our national interest to the full extent instead of any other side’s interests.” (Global Times, “Not All Peninsula Issues China’s Problem,” January 25, 2013)

North Korea’s sole major ally China will decrease aid to Pyongyang if it goes ahead with a planned nuclear test, state-run media said in an unusually frank warning. “If North Korea engages in further nuclear tests, China will not hesitate to reduce its assistance to North Korea,” the Global Times said in an editorial. “Just let North Korea be ‘angry’. We can’t sit by and do nothing just because we are worried it might impact the Sino-North Korean relationship.” The same comments appeared in the Chinese version of the article. The paper is owned by the People’s Daily, the official mouthpiece of the ruling party. “China has a dilemma: there’s no possible way for us to search for a diplomatic balance between North Korea and South Korea, Japan and the US,” the Global Times said, while also saying China would “resolutely stop” any “extreme” sanctions. “We should have a pragmatic attitude to deal with the problems and pursue the optimal ratio between our investment of resources and strategic gains,” it added. “China hopes for a stable peninsula, but it’s not the end of the world if there’s trouble there.” Envoys said Beijing had sought to shield Pyongyang from tougher measures. “After putting a lot of effort into amendments for the draft resolution, China also voted for it. It seems that North Korea does not appreciate China’s effort,” the Global Times said. China’s foreign ministry played down the editorial, with spokesman Hong Lei saying it was “only the opinion of the media.” (AFP, “N. Korea ‘Faces China Aid Cut’ over Nuclear Test,” January 25, 2013)

Chinese leader Xi Jinping expressed willingness to improve relations with Japan strained in a dispute over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, administered for decades by Tokyo but claimed by Beijing. In a meeting with New Komeito party chief Natsuo Yamaguchi in Beijing, Xi said he “will seriously consider” Yamaguchi’s proposal that Japan and China hold a summit, and that China “wants to promote the strategic relationship of mutual benefit with Japan from broad perspectives,” according to Yamaguchi. (Hirano Ko, “China Leader Xi Vows to Improve Ties with Japan despite Senkaku Row,” Kyodo, January 25, 2013)

Pyongyang will likely experiment with a fusion-boosted fission bomb in a “high-level” nuclear test it said would target the United States, according to the sources. A fusion-boosted fission bomb induces nuclear fusion with slight nuclear fission, enabling more efficient nuclear fission. A fusion-boosted fission bomb can therefore be made about one-fourth the size of an ordinary nuclear bomb. The Japanese government has concluded that North Korea is ready to test a fusion-boosted fission bomb, and sources said Pyongyang will be able to put it to practical use after a single test. Japan has been monitoring North Korea’s nuclear development program with the United States and other countries. It has analyzed nuclear-related materials North Korea has imported and nuclear-related facilities it has constructed or developed. While North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006 resulted in an explosion equivalent to less than 1 kiloton of trinitrotoluene (TNT), the second test in 2009 generated an explosion of several kilotons. In May 2010, North Korea also announced it had succeeded in achieving nuclear fusion. According to Akihiro Kuroki, a managing director at the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, a fusion-boosted fission bomb uses substantially smaller amounts of explosives and buffer materials than an ordinary nuclear bomb. North Korea is believed to possess an atomic bomb similar to the one dropped on Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, which weighed about five tons. A successful test of a fusion-boosted fission bomb is expected to enable the reclusive communist country to reduce it to a little more than 1 ton. (Makino Yoshihiro, “N. Korea Likely to Test Fusion-Boosted Fission Bomb able to Reach the U.S.,” Asahi Shimbun, January 25, 2013)

Assessing North Korea’s real intentions is always difficult, and it may prove that the statement, issued by the country’s highest military body, was another outburst by an insecure, starving country seeking to shake down the West for more aid, a cycle President Obama had vowed to break. Pyongyang’s public declarations often heat up at times when the United States is focusing its attention elsewhere. American intelligence officials have also become concerned that the latest rocket test indicated that the country’s new leader might have decided that confrontation with the West could prove a more successful strategy to retaining power than a new attempt at difficult economic reforms. There had been hopes that Kim Jong-un — who is reported to have made modest economic changes and is portrayed as more affable than his father — might be willing to compromise with the West for economic aid. The threat was the latest suggestion that he was more likely to follow the pattern that his father, Kim Jong-il, established when he ran the country: a cycle of a rocket launching, United Nations condemnation and nuclear testing. “It’s a major test for Kim Jong-un,” said Koh Yu-hwan, a North Korea specialist at Dongguk University in Seoul. “Unlike the rocket launching in December, which the North has said was conducted because it was his father’s dying wish, a nuclear test will be Kim Jong-un’s decision, one for which he will be held responsible.” The White House responded to the North Korean declaration Thursday by declaring it “needlessly provocative.” Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, told reporters that “further provocations would only increase Pyongyang’s isolation,” a variant of the line the White House has used every time the North has issued a threat, launched a missile or revealed a new nuclear facility. But deeper isolation does not appear to be the young Mr. Kim’s greatest fear. So far, China, which supplies the North’s energy and some of its food, has not cut off aid in response to North Korean actions even though its leaders have urged Mr. Kim and his father to refrain from provocations. Chinese officials have made clear in meetings with their American counterparts that they fear instability in North Korea more than they worry about the country advancing its longstanding nuclear and missile capabilities. “If you look back over the past four years,” a former administration official said recently, “we haven’t moved the Chinese at all.” (david E. Sanger and Choe Sang-hun, “North Korea Threatens to ‘Target’ U.S. and Conduct a ‘Higher-Level’ Nuclear Test,” New York Times, January 25, 2013, p. A-8) Some strategic weapons policy analysts suggested that North Korea’s defiant tone, and the relatively muted American response, had set an example for Iran by demonstrating what can be achieved when an American adversary is armed with nuclear weapons. Iranian leaders, like North Korea’s Kim family, view America as a nuclear-armed bully that respects only the threat of force. Jeffrey Lewis, a nonproliferation expert at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, Calif., said he feared that North Korea was now intent on demonstrating the ability to produce a far more powerful nuclear weapon than the two relatively small nuclear devices it had tested so far. “If you think international politics is basically about power and that power is basically about armaments, then having a small number of fission devices is not good enough,” he said. “You want big nuclear devices.” (American intelligence officials believe North Korea has enough plutonium for roughly 6 to 10 weapons.) Others dismissed the idea that Iran is taking any political cues from North Korea. They noted that Iran remained a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and that Iranian leaders had repeatedly asserted that they had no interest in nuclear weapons. “They see North Korea is starving and isolated with no resources whatsoever,” said Gary G. Sick, an American academic and Iran expert who served on the National Security Council under the Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations. He called the connectivity on the nuclear issue between Iran and North Korea “a Western argument — I’ve never seen anybody in Iran make that argument.” (Choe Sang-hun and Rick Gladstone, “North Korea Warns of Retaliation if South Helps Enforce Tightened Sanctions,” New York Times, January 26, 2013, p. A-5)


1/26/13:
KCNA: “A consultative meeting of officials in the fields of state security and foreign affairs took place as regards the grave situation prevailing in the DPRK. Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), first chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), convened the meeting and guided it. Present at the meeting were Choe Ryong Hae, director of the General Political Bureau of the KPA; Hyon Yong Chol, chief of the General Staff of the KPA; Kim Won Hong, minister of State Security; Pak To Chun and Kim Yong Il, secretaries of the Central Committee of the WPK; Hong Sung Mu, vice department director of the C.C., the WPK; and Kim Kye Gwan, first vice-minister of Foreign Affairs [Jang Song-thaek?]. Kim Jong Un received a report on the new situation and circumstances prevailing on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity. The successful launch of satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2 was an exercise of a legitimate right of a sovereign state and it was recognized by even leading special organs of the U.S. However, a grave situation was created on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity due to the unprecedented anti-DPRK moves of the hostile forces which arbitrarily and provocatively fabricated the “resolution” of the UN Security Council on tightening sanctions against the DPRK. Since April last year the DPRK has made every possible effort to prove the peaceful nature of the satellite launch; it ensured transparency, going beyond international practice, and chose the time when the situation was relatively peaceful for satellite launch, etc. However, the hostile forces deliberately denied the DPRK’s right to satellite launch in a bid to use it as a pretext for stifling it. The U.S. and its allies took this high-handed hostile action in wanton violation of the sovereign state’s independent right to develop space publicly recognized by international law. This indicates that the U.S. has reached its height in its anti-DPRK strategy to stand in confrontation with it to the last out of inveterate repugnancy and enmity towards the ideology and social system chosen by the people in the DPRK. This has thrown a grave obstacle to the efforts to be focused by the DPRK on economic construction so that the people may not tighten their belts any longer on the basis of the war deterrence for self-defense provided by leader Kim Jong Il all his life. Different countries concerned made efforts to fairly solve the problem and prevent the deterioration of the situation. But, it became clear that there was limit to their ability, as they admitted. This fact proved once again that the DPRK should defend its sovereignty by itself. It also became clear that there can be no denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula before the world has been denuclearized. At the consultative meeting Kim Jong Un expressed the firm resolution to take substantial and high-profile important state measures [nuclear test!] in view of the prevailing situation as the stand had already been clarified by the National Defense Commission and the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK through their statements that powerful physical countermeasures would be taken to defend the dignity of the nation and the sovereignty of the country. He advanced specific tasks to the officials concerned.” (KCNA, “Kim Jong Un Guides Consultative Meeting of Officials in Fields of State Security and Foreign Affairs,” January 26, 2013)


1/27/13:
Kim Jong-un has vowed to take “substantial and high-profile important state measures” and ordered his top military and party officials of what to do to retaliate against American-led United Nations sanctions on the country, the North’s official media reported. North Korea did not clarify what those measures might be, but it referred to a series of earlier statements in which Kim’s government has threatened to launch more long-range rockets and conduct a third nuclear test to build an ability to “target” the United States. By calling such a meeting and having it reported in state news media, Kim seemed to assert his leadership in what his country called an “all-out action” against the United States, as opposed to his father, who tended to remain reclusive during similar confrontations. “At the consultative meeting, Kim Jong-un expressed the firm resolution to take substantial and high-profile important state measures in view of the prevailing situation,” said KCNA. “He advanced specific tasks to the officials concerned.” The dispatch, which was distributed today, was dated yesterday, indicating that the meeting in Pyongyang took place then. That was the same day on which the North’s main party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said that the United Nations Security Council’s resolution last Tuesday calling for tightening sanctions against the North left it with “no other option” but a nuclear test. “A nuclear test is what the people demand,” it said in a commentary. (Choe Sang-hun, “North Korean Leader Vows ‘High-Profile Retaliation,” New York Times, January 27, 2013, p. A-8)

Kim Jong-un issued a secret order to “complete preparations for a nuclear weapons test between Tuesday and yesterday” and carry it out sometime soon, a source told JoongAng Ilbo. Kim also reportedly said, “The country will be under martial law starting from midnight January 29 and all the frontline and central units should be ready for a war,” the source said. The North’s state media reported January 27 that Kim convened an emergency meeting with top defense and security officials on Saturday. It said Kim made a stern command to take “effective, high-profile state measures” and “assigned specific tasks” to officials. The source told JoongAng Ilbo January 29 that Kim made six orders at the meeting including preparing a third nuclear test. South Korean government officials confirmed that based on sources in Beijing. The source also said that a nuclear test would come earlier than predicted. Other analysts anticipate it would be held on February 16, the birthday of former leader Kim Jong-il, the late father of the current leader, or February 25, the inauguration day of South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye. The idea of putting the country under martial law echoes the situation in March 1993, when North Korea withdrew from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. At the time, Pyongyang also ordered the military to be in a quasi-state of war. The source said Kim Jong-un is worried about China’s reaction to a nuclear test. China is the regime’s closest ally and has warned the North not to go ahead with a third nuclear test. At the meeting, Kim allegedly said, “China is still useful to us. We need to be careful of the relationship with China.” Kim also asked his officials to be careful of criticizing Beijing. “The recent criticism of China was too tough,” he said, according to the source. “We need to make this correct.” This appears to refer to a statement made on January 25 by the National Defense Commission, the North’s top military body, which said China “abandoned its principle” by approving the new UN resolution which includes tougher sanctions against Pyongyang. “North Korean media directly quoted Kim mentioning ‘high-profile measures’ at the meeting,” said Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University. “So he will definitely come through with some actions.” As of the 29th, the South Korean military didn’t detect any unusual movements in North Korea’s frontline units. Seoul is assuming a delay in the nuclear test because of a meeting of lower-level members of the ruling Workers’ Party that started on the 28th. The meeting was the first since October 2007. “Kim Ki-nam, a party secretary, ordered the party members to be ready for combat,” a South Korean government official said. “That jibed with the Kim Jong-un orders.” The official speculated Kim Jong-un will issue an “Order from the Supreme Commander” through state media to ask the military and people to prepare for war. Amidst escalating tension, a South Korean government official told reporters January 30 there have been increased activities and movement of equipment near a test site in Punggye-ri in the northwest part of North Korea. “Activities of vehicles, equipment and work forces near the entrance of a mine have recently increased,” the official said. “We assume that the North is maintaining the conditions for a nuclear test at any time. But we still can’t say the test is imminent.” (Lee Young-jong and Kim Hee-jin, “Jong-un Issues Martial Law Order,” JoongAng Ilbo, January 31, 2013)

South Korea’s humanitarian aid to North Korea dropped 28 percent to a record 16-year low last year, the unification ministry said. Seoul’s humanitarian aid to the impoverished North totaled 14.1 billion won (US$13.1 million), compared with 19.6 billion won a year earlier. Last year’s amount is the lowest since 1996 when only 3.6 billion won was provided to the North in humanitarian aid. The total amount of assistance the South provided the North during the five years of President Lee was 257.5 billion won, including 155.1 billion won of civilian aid. The total amount is only 20 percent of the aid sent during the presidency of Lee’s predecessor, Roh Moo-hyun. (Yonhap, “S. Korea’s Humanitarian Aid to N. Korea Drops to 16-Year Low Last Year,” January 27, 2013)


1/28/13:
KCNA: “A consultative meeting of officials in the fields of state security and foreign affairs in view of the grave situation prevailing in the DPRK took place under the guidance of Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, first chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army. At the meeting Kim Jong Un expressed the firm resolution to take substantial and high-profile important state measures in view of the prevailing situation and advanced specific tasks to the officials concerned. His firm resolution is just one to defend the dignity of the nation and the sovereignty of the country in view of the new situation and circumstances created on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity after the successful launch of the DPRK’s satellite. It is important for us to put a satellite into orbit, but it is more important to defend the legitimate right to the use of space for peaceful purposes. If the DPRK steps back from this, it will allow its right to existence to be infringed upon, to say nothing of development toward a thriving nation. To defend the right to use space for peaceful purposes is not just the issue of the right to develop space but the issue of defending the sovereignty and achieving the prosperity of the country and the nation. The hostile forces including the U.S. imperialists regard the DPRK advancing along the road of independence, Songun and socialism as a thorn in their flesh. The U.S. considers the DPRK emerging a thriving nation in the strategic center of the 21st century as a blatant challenge to its strategy for dominating the Asia-Pacific region. That is why the U.S. uses the successful launch of satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2 as the best pretext for bringing down the social system in the DPRK. The U.S. groundlessly denied the DPRK’s right to satellite launch, taking issue with it, and fabricated “a resolution on sanctions” at the UN Security Council this time. This is an unpardonable hostile action as it disclosed the U.S. inveterate repugnancy and enmity towards the ideology and social system chosen by the people in the DPRK. The DPRK has already warned the U.S. and those countries concerned on historic December 12 when it succeeded in the satellite launch. Hostility does no good to anyone and with confrontation it is impossible to settle any problem. We hoped to see all countries concerned take a reasonable and calm attitude so that the situation might not develop in the direction contrary to their will and desire. However, the U.S. disregarded it and took an extremely arrogant attitude of hurting the dignity of the Korean nation. Finally, it cooked up the “resolution on sanctions” against the DPRK and vociferated about “crucial measures,” deliberately straining the situation on the Korean Peninsula and in its vicinity. Now that the U.S. hostile strategy to stifle the DPRK by force of arms has reached its height and it has become clear that the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the world is nothing but an empty talk, the DPRK is left with no option but to take strong physical counter-measures to defend its sovereignty. The DPRK’s cause of defending independence and justice is right and its victory is sure to come. The U.S. will come to know what dear price it will have to pay for insulting and mocking the Koreans. Satellites and long-range rockets to be launched by the DPRK without let-up and the nuclear test of higher level to be conducted by it in the all-out action, a new stage of the anti-U.S. struggle, will be targeted against the U.S. imperialists, the sworn enemy of the Korean people. The world will clearly know what tremendous might the servicepersons and people of the DPRK will display and what great history of a thriving nation they will make, aware of the justice of their cause and single-mindedly united behind their leader.” (KCNA, “U.S. Mistook Koreans: KCNA Commentary,” January 28, 2013)

Glyn Davies: “Today has been a busy day, we began with a call on Ambassador John Roos and the staff at the U.S. Embassy here in Tokyo. We moved on to a meeting with the executive members of the Association of the Family of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea, Chairman Iizuka, Mr. and Mrs. Yokota. This was for us an opportunity to express our solidarity with them and to reassure them of our commitment to their cause, to express to them as we have before that they are not alone in their suffering. And we will never, we can never forget the abductees or the suffering of their families. We then moved on to the Cabinet Office, for a meeting with Assistant Chief Cabinet Secretary Kanehara. We expressed to him our commitment to coordinating closely with the new Japanese government, the Abe administration, on North Korea. From there, we went on to a luncheon meeting with the Secretary General for the Abduction Issue Mr. Mitani Hideshi. Next, after a stop back at the Embassy, we came here to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to meet with my good friend and colleague Director General Sugiyama Shinsuke. I reported to him on the results of our meetings in Seoul and in Beijing. We discussed the importance of fully implementing the provisions of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2087, maintaining trilateral coordination with the Republic of Korea, and staying closely aligned with our Chinese and Russian partners. Following that session, we called on Deputy Foreign Minister Saiki here in this building, which brings us to the present point. Tomorrow very quickly we’ll pay a call on Representative Nukaga Fukushiro, Secretary General of the Japan-ROK Parliamentary League, and Minister in Charge of the Abductions Issue, Mr. Furuya, before returning to Washington. We began our trip last week intending to explore a way forward with our partners to a credible and authentic diplomatic process. But we found ourselves dealing instead with a North Korea bent on bluster and intimidation, a North Korea uninterested in finding a diplomatic way forward. A North Korea declaring itself at odds with its neighbors, and indeed at odds with the entire international system. Faced with this challenge, United Nations member states must make clear to North Korea that it has a clear and distinct choice: either it can continue its defiance of the United Nations Security Council, a path which can lead only to further isolation and to censure, or the path of peace, living up to its promises, meeting its obligations, living in harmony with its neighbors and the world. … Q: Do you see any signs that North Korea is moving towards a third nuclear test? DAVIES: Well they’ve said that they intend to conduct a nuclear test, so we’ll see what they end up doing. We have called upon them, as have other countries, not to proceed with a nuclear test. It would be a mistake, it would be a miscalculation, it would set back the cause of resolving issues that relate to the Korean Peninsula diplomatically, most importantly the issue of denuclearization. Q: Mr. Davies, it seems that North Korea is determined to become a defacto nuclear weapons state. I was wondering how realistic the goal is of denuclearization. How specifically are you going to achieve that goal? DAVIES: Well, I think what’s important is to get back to the process that for many years had been underway, which is following up on the September 2005 Joint Statement of the Six Parties, in which North Korea made commitments and undertakings. It’s also very important that North Korea take seriously its commitments as a member of the international system, which is to say following up on the strictures of repeated United Nations Security Council resolutions. I think the international community should continue to make clear to North Korea that it does face a choice. It does not have to continue to go down the road of isolation and continued impoverishment of its people. It can instead choose to meet its obligations and rejoin the international system. If so, one can imagine a diplomatic process going forward. What I hope to do, what we had hoped to do in coming to North Asia was to begin this process of exploring a credible and authentic diplomatic process going forward. But very soon after we arrived in Seoul, South Korea, North Korea began to make these threatening statements, which of course makes it very difficult to imagine how we could go forward diplomatically. So right now, the emphasis, the accent of our efforts is on seeking to convince North Korea not to go down this path, not to test a nuclear weapon, but rather to come back to its obligations and commitments. Q: Did you discuss sanctions with the Japanese side? DAVIES: Of course, we discussed sanctions in South Korea, we discussed sanctions in Beijing, and we discussed sanctions here. And we agreed in all three capitols that it’s very important that we fulfill the sanctions commitments contained in the recently passed United Nations Security Council resolution. Only by doing that can we prevent North Korea from obtaining the materials it needs to carry forward its weapons of mass destruction program, and prevent North Korea from proliferating technologies that are dangerous to the entire world. Q: Ambassador Davies, I think President Obama said he wants to break the pattern that North Korea has been rewarded for its provocations. But it seems that North Korea still wants that pattern again, it seems that want a direct talk with you. They’ve been sending a message to you, they want a direct talk with you as a nuclear state. So what is your response? DAVIES: Again, I think what’s important is to take this one step at a time. I don’t know what North Korea’s next step is going to be. If they go in the direction of testing a nuclear device, they are going to set back the prospect of any diplomatic process going forward. So that kind of a provocative approach in dealing with the outside world will not serve their interests ultimately. But the strength of our position really depends on the solidarity of our allies, first and foremost, of the Five Parties in the Six-Party process, and I’d like to re-emphasize this to all members of the international system. So that’s the message that we’re putting out there. We came out to the region [hoping to find a way forward diplomatically] but instead we find a North Korea that seems bent on playing a game of risk. This is very dangerous. We’d like them to step away, step back from this kind of provocative stance and enable us to get back to a diplomatic process. But I have to be honest with you, as a diplomat I don’t see any prospect for a diplomatic process in the immediate future, as long as North Korea continues this belligerent and provocative behavior and language.” (DoS, Special Representative for North Korea Policy Glyn Davies, “Remarks to the Media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, January 28, 2013)

China also expressed alarm about a nuclear test. “China is highly concerned about the relevant developments. China is opposed to any acts that might escalate tension or undermine the denuclearization of the peninsula. We hope the relevant sides can remain calm and restrained and earnestly maintain the peace and stability of Northeast Asia,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily briefing in Beijing. Hong repeated China’s appeal for dialogue. He made a side-swiped criticism of China’s neighbor and ally over its continued funding for defense programs despite a languishing economy, urging it to “develop its economy and improve people’s living conditions.” (Associated Press, “U.S. Envoy Urges North Korea to Scrap Nuke Test Plan,” January 28, 2013)

A U.S. citizen detained in North Korea that former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson sought to bring home during his recent visit is accused of plotting to topple the regime and assassinating the leadership, a member of his delegation told the Korea Herald. Kun “Tony” Namkung, a North Korea expert known for longstanding ties with Pyongyang, arranged and took part in the trip by Richardson and Google Inc. executive chairman Eric Schmidt from January 7-10. The much-trumpeted mission was partly aimed at negotiating the release of Kenneth Bae, the Korean-American tour operator who was arrested in November in the Rason economic zone. “My understanding is that he has been accused of serious crimes including plotting to overthrow the regime and assassinating the leadership,” Namkung said in an email interview. “Richardson’s hope was to see the detainee, Kenneth Bae, and if possible, bring him home. However, North Korea was not cooperative in this regard.” During the latest four-day stay, the nine-member group toured a computer lab at Kim Il-sung University and the Korea Computer Center in the capital, among other places. They also met with North Korean officials from the Foreign Ministry and the military. “The primary purpose was to achieve an overview of North Korea’s information technology industry and to explore the prospects for cooperation in the future, which was fully achieved,” Namkung said. “The trip demonstrated that North Korea is prepared to expand access to the Internet, develop its digital technology to higher standards and increase the use of mobile phones,” Namkung added. The communist regime’s uranium enrichment program and overall nuclear “deterrent” is “improving by the day,” Namkung said. “It will be very difficult to forestall another nuclear test, which will this time be a thermonuclear test, unless the U.S. and North Korean governments reach out to one another to revive the ‘Leap Day’ deal of last year.” Namkung added that Pyongyang’s atmosphere has “brightened” with more cars on the road and restaurants compared with his last visit in June. Other changes include “more disposable income with which to buy goods in improved stores, even more bustling private markets, improved attire, and last but not least, higher heels for women,” he said. “As always, North Korea’s opening and reform is contingent on its relations with the three countries with which it has adversarial relations — South Korea, the U.S., and Japan,” he added. (Shin Hyon-hee, “U.S. Detainee Accused of Plotting to Kill N.K. Leadership: Namkung,” Korea Herald, January 28, 2013)

As tensions on the Korean Peninsula soar amid the North’s military threats, U.S. experts are calling for full-fledged consultations between Washington and Beijing on ways to deal with Pyongyang. They emphasize that major dialogue between the superpowers, also involving South Korea, is necessary not only to prevent another conflict on the peninsula but also to prepare for possible emergencies in the North. “If Washington and Beijing fail to coordinate and communicate, we could face the possibility of a U.S.-China confrontation almost unimaginable in its consequences,” said Jonathan Pollack, senior fellow at Brookings Institution. “This will require discussions on military deployments and operations unprecedented in their scope and candor. South Korea must also be part of this conversation,” he added. Pollack was offering Korea policy recommendations for the second Obama administration, called a “Memorandum to the President.” “This threat now encompasses the potential use of nuclear weapons,” Pollack said. Pollack said the U.S. and China should disclose information on the location, operation and capabilities of each other’s military forces that could rapidly intervene in North Korea. The two sides will have to “share intelligence on the known or suspected locations of North Korea’s weapons of massive destruction (WMD) assets,” he said. Scott Snyder, senior researcher at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), also urged Washington and Beijing to redouble efforts to narrow perception gaps on Pyongyang. “China’s focus on peninsular stability was a function of a geostrategic view of the peninsula as a zero-sum competition for influence between China and the United States, while Washington talked denuclearization without sufficient attention to China’s geostrategic concerns,” he said in a recent writing on what Obama needs to do in his second term with regard to Korea. He said establishing a South Korea-U.S.-China dialogue on North Korea, as proposed by the incoming South Korean leader Park Geun-hye, would “provide an improved basis for forging trilateral cooperation measures.” Snyder said over the last four years Obama played “small ball” with North Korea, which resulted in limited accomplishments for Washington. Although North Korea’s military ties with Libya and Myanmar have shrunken thanks to political transitions there, Pyongyang forged an agreement with Iran last year on scientific and technical cooperation, he said. “Given steady North Korean progress in developing its missile and nuclear programs, your administration should pursue a more active strategy designed to shape North Korea’s environment,” Snyder said. (Yonhap, “U.S., China Need Candid Consultations over N. Korea: Experts,” January 28, 2013)


1/29/13:
South Korea was third time lucky in its aspirations to join the Asian space race after successfully launching a two-stage rocket from its Naro Space Center on the country’s southwestern coast. Korea is the 11th country joining an elite group of nations capable of sending rockets into space to launch satellites. Such an achievement comes nearly 10 years after Asia’s fourth largest economy began seeking its own capability to place a satellite into orbit. Engineers at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) said the rocket, the Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), succeeded in putting its satellite payload into orbit. Whether the satellite is functioning properly will be confirmed through radio communication. “Thanks to the successful launch of Naro, we are now one step closer to becoming a space power,” said Lee Ju-ho, minister of education, science and technology, in a press conference after the launch. “I want to thank everyone involved for their support and efforts.” “I think failure is the essence of science. We learn through failure and endlessly face new challenges,” he added, referring to previous disappointments in 2009 and 2010. Officials of the institute said that a radio station in Norway successfully received signal from the satellite in orbit. The KSLV-1 project began in 2002 in cooperation with Russia. Under a cooperative and technology safeguard agreement in which Moscow agreed to assist in three launches, Korea was responsible for the second stage, its solid-fuel motor and the payload. Russia made the first stage and the liquid-fuel engine. The Naro weighs 140 tons and has a length of 33 meters. The project cost over 520 billion won, with the Naro Space Center built near the sea at Goheung taking up 300 billion won. (Cho Mu-hyun, “Naro Is Blazing Success!” Korea Times, January 30, 2013)

Jeffrey Lewis: “North Korea’s announcement of an impending nuclear test refers to a “a nuclear test of higher level which will be carried out by it in the upcoming all-out action… ” Most people seem to be focusing on the possibility of a device using highly enriched uranium — which is probably right but maybe not the whole story.DPRK officials have been dropping some interesting hints lately. In August, the DPRK indicated that it would be “modernizing and expanding its nuclear deterrent capability beyond the U.S. imagination.” That would seem to suggest we should should broaden our realm of possibilities.I’ve been thinking about the possibility of a North Korean thermonuclear weapons test since 2010, after North Korea started talking about Korean style thermo-nuclear reaction devices. (Not quite as catchy as Gangnam Style, eh?) Apparently, I am no longer the only crank. The Asahi Shimbun recently published an article entitled, “DPRK Likely To Use ‘Fusion-Boosted Fission Bomb’ in Third Nuclear Test.” Tony Namkung, who took Google’s Eric Schmidt to North Korea, has said that it “will this time be a thermonuclear test.” He must have had some interesting conversations in Pyongyang. Sounds crazy, I know. But I think we have to at least consider an early DPRK effort at a thermonuclear weapon of one sort or another. (I am still inclined to think a boosted design like the Alarm Clock is more likely than a staged device.) We’ve systematically underestimated both North Korea’s capabilities and, even when those capabilities are found wanting, the leadership’s resolve to try anyway. I’ve been thinking about this possibility again for at least three reasons: First, … in 2002, Kang Sok-ju told Jim Kelly responded to evidence that North Korea was pursuing uranium enrichment by stating that North Korea was ”entitled to possess our own HEU, and we are bound to produce more powerful weapons than that.” Kang may have committed the canonical diplomatic gaffe — saying what he really thought. (Tong Kim certainly thought, in context, he was talking about thermonuclear weapons.) Also, if Kim Jong Il wanted to bequeath his son some technical accomplishments to make his first year or so in power an eventful one, putting a satellite in orbit, testing an ICBM and detonating a thermonuclear weapon seem like pretty solid ideas. We may wonder about North Korea’s technical capability, but I don’t think the North Korean leadership will simply settle for a small number of relatively crude fission-type devices. Second, consider North Korea’s statement following its 2009 nuclear test: “The current nuclear test was safely conducted on a new higher level in terms of its explosive power and technology of its control and the results of the test helped satisfactorily settle the scientific and technological problems arising in further increasing the power of nuclear weapons and steadily developing nuclear technology.” “Higher level” explicitly refers to both yield and technology. What is really interesting, though, is the statement of purpose: “the results of the test helped satisfactorily settle the scientific and technological problems arising in further increasing the power of nuclear weapons and steadily developing nuclear technology.” KCNA could not have been more clear that these tests were leading to something larger. … Third, the North Koreans themselves have been talking more about thermonuclear weapons, and thermonuclear war, in recent months. In addition to the August statement, North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Kil-yon said in October that: “Today, due to the continued U.S. hostile policy towards DPRK, the vicious cycle of confrontation and aggravation of tensions is an ongoing phenomenon on the Korean peninsula, which has become the world’s most dangerous hot spot where a spark of fire could set off a thermonuclear war.” I don’t think Pak is describing a war in which the DPRK are the only thermonuclear victims. I’ve gone back and forth over whether to mention that Kim Myong Chol, an “unofficial spokesman” for the DPRK, has been saying that the DPRK is developing thermonuclear weapons for years. Kim isn’t privy to such details and uncritically repeats any claim he reads in Western media that suit his particular bromide of the moment. (His source on North Korea’s thermonuclear weapons seems to be John Pike.) I am going to stick with state media and DPRK officials, while adding that KCNA repeated Kim’s assertion that “Unlike the past Korean War which was limited to the Korean Peninsula, the second Korean War will turn into a thermonuclear war and naturally spill over into the U.S. mainland.” Whether or not Kim is right about the particulars, the party line seems to be that North Korea won’t be the only victims in a thermonuclear war. Given all this, we should at least consider the possibility that, in addition to testing an HEU-based device, the North Koreans may burn a fusion fuel like Lithium 6. … If the US intelligence community thinks this is even a possibility, the Obama Administration should be managing expectations with allies now as Bob Gates did with the KN-08. It would help to emphasize that bigger nuclear weapons wouldn’t really change our commitment to the defense of Japan and South Korea and that it would be suicide for North Korea to use a nuclear weapons of any kind. I don’t want to be alarmist. North Korea might simply test an HEU device or maybe a more efficient missile warhead. If they do try something fancier, it may not work — which means we might never know what it was. But it is important to understand that the range of North Korean possibilities may be much larger than we normally describe. … ” (Jeffrey Lewis, “Setting Expectations for a DPRK Test,” Arms Control Wonk, January 29, 2013)


1/31/13:
Seoul is considering pushing for tougher sanctions against Pyongyang in tandem with the U.S., China and Japan, officials said, warning of “grave consequences” for its possible third nuclear test. A senior Seoul official said “all possible options will be on the table,” but remained reluctant to touch on a military option, stressing that consultation with the concerned countries was under way. President Lee Myung-bak instructed Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin to ensure the top readiness posture, noting that the North was ratcheting up military tension on the peninsula at a time of a power transition in Seoul. Lee and senior officials in charge of security and foreign affairs met earlier in the day to explore punitive sanctions in the event of an atomic test and ways to address public anxiety over it. “The (Seoul) government urges North Korea to stop all provocative speeches and abide by international obligations, including those stipulated in U.N. Security Council resolutions,” said Cheong Wa Dae in a statement issued after the top security meeting. “We warn that should the North make another provocation based on its misjudgment of the situation, it will face grave consequences.” The defense chief inspected an army unit near the tense inter-Korean border, ordering the military to keep high vigilance. “It is crucial to let the enemy know our strong posture and principle that we automatically strike back sufficiently and accurately at the origin of the provocation,” Defense Minister Kim said during the inspection. (Song Sang-ho, “Seoul Warns N. Ko of ‘Grave Consequences,” Korea Herald, January 31, 2013)

South Korea’s defense minister ordered an early development and deployment of long-range ballistic missiles that can hit all parts of North Korea. Minister Kim Kwan-jin visited a front-line unit to urge the military to stay vigilant against any provocations from the North after it threatened a third nuclear test in response to the U.N. Security Council sanction for December 12 rocket launch. “Many of North Korea’s missile bases are located in the rear (northern region),” Kim told soldiers in Yeoncheon, north of Seoul.

“To be able to destroy the origin of provocations, ballistic missiles with an 800-kilometer range should be promptly put in place.” (Yonhap, “Defense Chief Calls for Early Deployment of 800-km Missiles,” Korea Herald, January 31, 2013)

The world is warning North Korea against going ahead with its third nuclear test, but inside the American intelligence community, some officials are quietly hoping it happens. A test could give them their first real view in years into whether the North has made significant progress toward a weapon that could threaten the United States or its allies. Since the North’s last test, in 2009, during President Obama’s first months in office, the United States has lost much of its visibility into what a former senior intelligence official says is on the cusp of becoming a “runaway program.” Inspectors have been ejected from the country, and new facilities to make nuclear fuel have appeared. And after the North warned last week that it would now conduct a “higher level” test “targeted” at the United States, Kurt M. Campbell, the assistant secretary of state for East Asia, conceded that “we don’t know the kind of test that is anticipated.” Now the hope is that an underground blast will answer several mysteries. Can the North Koreans produce a bomb out of uranium — a program they invited a visiting American nuclear scientist to glimpse two years ago — as well as the plutonium bombs that they exploded in 2006 and 2009? Can they make a warhead small enough to fit atop one of the long-range missiles they successfully tested last month? In short, is it possible that the country that gained a reputation as the Keystone Kops of nuclear nations, setting off nuclear explosions that sputtered and missiles that crashed into the sea, has actually gotten its act together to the point that it now may pose a significant threat? “It’s clear that there is now an expectation that this test could cross a threshold and yield data we haven’t had,” said Michael Green, a senior director for Asian affairs in the National Security Council under President George W. Bush. “We know a lot about their programs, but not the most important part: how far along are they? And we won’t know that until they test.” The test could show, he said, “whether they can build a bomb that can approach Hiroshima or Nagasaki levels, and that would tell us a lot about how far they have proceeded on weaponization.” The United States has already deployed equipment to measure the future test, including sensitive sniffing devices mounted on reconnaissance planes that may be able to answer the question of whether the North has moved to a new generation of homemade uranium weapons. But the Americans are not the only ones who are focused on the North’s progress. So is Iran, which has been struggling with the same uranium technology for years, but has stopped short of conducting a test. “They will certainly be watching,” said Joseph R. DeTrani, who was the intelligence community’s top North Korea watcher for many years and went on to run the intelligence group created to fight weapons proliferation. “They want to see how it works, and they want to see how North Korea is treated by the rest of the world if they do another test.” The White House has played down the threat from the North and has repeated the mantra that a test would further “isolate” the country, a term that both the Obama and Bush administrations have used, to little effect. But senior American military commanders have noted that the missile that the North tested in December, which went as far as the Philippines and launched a small, light satellite, was a success — a notable change after several missiles fell quickly into the sea. Similarly, many nuclear experts viewed the North’s first two nuclear explosions as laughable flops, if not complete failures. The North set off its first bomb on October 9, 2006. Surprised analysts judged its strength to be less than one kiloton, or equal to less than 1,000 tons of high explosive. By contrast, the first nuclear blast by the United States was more than 20 times as powerful. Last year, James R. Clapper, the director of national intelligence, told Congress that federal analysts had judged the first explosion to be “a partial failure.” He added that the North’s second blast, on May 25, 2009, “appeared to be more technically successful,” with an estimated yield of about two kilotons. That was more impressive, but China’s second bomb test, nearly a half-century ago, was about 20 times as powerful. Now, some revisionism has set in. Top American scientists have questioned the accuracy of the intelligence community’s assessments of the tests, and its portrayal of the North’s nuclear engineers as bumbling amateurs. The split indicates just how difficult it can be to understand what is happening deep underground in the famously reclusive state. Siegfried S. Hecker, a Stanford professor who previously directed the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and Frank V. Pabian, a senior adviser on nuclear nonproliferation at Los Alamos, reanalyzed the global measurements of the distant rumbles in North Korea and concluded that Western observers had underestimated the power of the blasts. Their findings, published recently in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists [8/6/12], said the first test could have yielded an explosion of up to one kiloton, and the second of up to seven kilotons. In an interview, Dr. Hecker said the higher figure suggested that the North Koreans were much closer to being able to produce a true weapon than first thought. “If they can do four,” Dr. Hecker said of the North Koreans, “they can do 20,” roughly the size of the weapon that leveled Hiroshima, Japan. As he acknowledges, the measurements are still in dispute. Nuclear experts at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California did their own reassessments and kept to the view that the first tests were small. The intelligence divisions of those two laboratories provide the government’s scientific estimates of foreign nuclear threats. “We haven’t been able to resolve the issue,” Dr. Hecker said. (David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, “Nuclear Test Could Open Window on North Korea, New York Times, January 31, 2013, p. A-8)

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo said he would shelve his long-held plan to review the 1993 government statement that expressed remorse for the suffering of “comfort women” before and during World War II. “The matter should not be turned into a political and diplomatic issue,” Abe said in the Lower House in response to a question by Shii Kazuo, leader of the Japanese Communist Party. “I, as prime minister, will refrain from making further remarks.” Abe had previously said he wanted to review the statement released in the name of Kono Yohei, chief Cabinet secretary at the time. The statement apologized to the comfort women, who were forced to provide sex to Japanese soldiers, and also acknowledged the Japanese military’s involvement in establishing and managing “comfort” stations and transferring the women. Abe said in the Diet that he will abide by the official stances of his predecessors on the issue. “There have been many wars throughout history, involving infringement on the human rights of women,” Abe said. “When it comes to the issue of comfort women, my heart aches acutely when I think about those who had to go through painful experiences beyond description. I am no different from successive prime ministers on that point.” (Asahi Shimbun, “Abe: No Review of Kono Statement Apologizing to ‘Comfort Women,’” February 1, 2013)


2/1/13:
A diplomatic source in Beijing told JoongAng Ilbo that “the Chinese authorities are viewing North Korea’s nuclear test as a serious concern and reviewing a variety of measures to be taken after the test.” “The most likely measure by China would be probably trimming the amount of aid provided for North Korea, which will cause Kim Jong-un’s regime difficulties in pushing forward with his economic reform plans,” the source said. The Chinese government decided to freeze the assets of a North Korean bank’s Beijing branch in protest of Pyongyang’s warning to stage a third nuclear test, Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported, citing its sources in Beijing. Since the defiant long-range rocket launch of Unha-3 in December 2012, China tightened up customs on travelers and cargo entering North Korea. (Kim Hee-jin and Lee Young-jong, “World Braces for North’s Imminent Nuclear Test,” Joongang Ilbo, February 2, 2013)

The sudden announcement that the US and South Korea are planning to hold a joint anti-submarine training exercise in the East Sea next week, and that a 6900-ton US nuclear submarine arrived at Masan’s Jinhae naval port on February 1, is being seen as a show of force directed at North Korea. The US is about to dispatch an aircraft carrier attached to the Seventh Fleet to Korea as well. “Even though this is being described as an exercise that had already been planned, there is little doubt that it will send North Korea a message that we will not simply look on if they do anything wrong,” a senior military official said.
The US has from time to time used its nuclear capability as a means of pressuring North Korea to refrain from provocative action. In Nov. 2010, just after the North bombarded Yeonpyeong Island, the US sent the nuclear carrier USS George Washington to the region and conducted joint drills with South Korea. More than 19 years have passed since the nuclear submarine USS San Francisco entered Korean waters. The previous visit was in 1994, at a time of increased tensions following the first North Korean nuclear crisis and the death of North Korean founder Kim Il-sung. The USS San Francisco, which just arrived at Jinhae, belongs to US Naval Submarine Squadron 11, which is based in California. The vessel is 110.3 meters long and 10.1 meters wide and is equipped with torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles. Currently moored in Busan and also meant to take part in the drill is the cruiser USS Shiloh (CZ-67), which has a displacement of 9800 tons. This Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser is armed with the latest SM-3 ship-based missile system, Tomahawk cruise missiles used for attacking ground-based targets, and torpedoes, in addition to the anti-submarine helicopter MH-60R Seahawk.
 Choson Shinbo, published by the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, which speaks for North Korea, today once again called for a reopening of peace talks. “As past attempts reveal, increasing sanctions will not change North Korea’s mind; all it does is aggravate the situation even further,” the newspaper said. “Returning to the peace talks is the only sure way of preventing war.” (Park Byong-su, “large South-U.S. Military Exercises to Involve Nuclear Submarine,” Hankyore, February 2, 2013)


2/2/13:
DPRK FoMin spokesman: “The U.S., which masterminded the UN Security Council’s “resolution” against the DPRK’s launch of satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2, supported and defended south Korea’s launch of satellite Naro, drawing worldwide censure and derision. A spokesman for the U.S. State Department made sophism that south Korea has carried out space launch program in a responsible manner and clarified that it is not for military purposes, adding that south Korea’s approach is, therefore, quite different from north Korea’s. The U.S. denied the DPRK’s right to launch satellite for no justifiable reason but blindly connived at the satellite launch by its stooge south Korea. This is the height of double standards and impudence. The successful launch of Kwangmyongsong 3-2 by the DPRK was the exercise of the legitimate right of a sovereignty state consistent with universally recognized international law. Even professional institutions in the U.S., to say nothing of the international community, admitted that the DPRK’s satellite goes around its orbit. This being a hard fact, the U.S. perpetrated the highhanded hostile act of deliberately negating the DPRK’s independent and legitimate right to satellite launch. This goes to prove that from the outset it intended to use the satellite launch as a new occasion of stifling the DPRK. The U.S. was wrong in seeking the adoption of UNSC “resolutions” which it cites whenever an opportunity presents itself to use as a pretext for denying the DPRK’s right to satellite launch. It forced the UNSC to enforce the hostile policy in a bid to block the DPRK’s scientific research into space and its economic development, trampling upon the universally accepted international law reflecting the general will of the international community in violation of the fundamental principles of the UN Charter which calls for respecting each country’s sovereignty and ensuring impartiality. Last year when it left no means untried to stifle the DPRK the U.S. allowed the south Korean puppets to drastically extend the range of missiles in violation of the missile non-proliferation regime cooked up by itself, straining the regional situation. Still overlooked is the brigandish logic that its stooges are allowed to do whatever they like and those countries hostile to it are not allowed to do anything and the law governing existence based on jungle law prevails. It is the situation of the present world. The American way of thinking, American standard may work on other countries but never on the DPRK. The army and people of the DPRK have launched an all-out struggle to defend the dignity and sovereignty of the country. The U.S. brazen-faced double standards and highhanded hostile act are bound to face the DPRK’s toughest retaliation.” (KCNA, “DPRK Foreign Ministry Spokesman Blasts U.S. Double Standard over Satellite Launch Issue,” February 2, 2013)

CPRK Information Bulletin: “The puppet group of south Korea, much upset by the strong statement of the DPRK in reaction to the hostile measures taken at the UN, is working hard to take part in the “sanctions” in league with the U.S. just like a thief crying “Stop the thief!” At an emergency meeting of ministers for diplomacy and security on January 31, traitor Lee, speaking loudly of the “north’s nuclear test and additional provocation and threats”, made provocative remarks calling for “tighter sanctions” and “counteraction”. Puppet Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jin, Chief of the Intelligence Service Won Se Hun and others fully backed him. Chon Yong U, chief of Diplomacy and Security in Chongwadae, Ryu U Ik, puppet minister of Unification, and other confrontation maniacs of south Korea said that “the north should choose one, either survival or nuclear weapons” and “stronger sanctions unbearable by the north have to be imposed.” The U.S. and the south Korean regime do not hesitate to make such outbursts as calling for not ruling out even military “sanctions”. In the meantime, the U.S. ultra-modern war means are being amassed in south Korea and in the areas around the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. nuclear submarine and Aegis cruiser entered south Korea to hold combined marine exercises and to show off “military muscle” while the puppet army was put on “an alert to stand guard against the north.” Warmongers are inciting war fever while touring units in the forefront areas. The south Korean puppet group of traitors, which took an active part in the adoption of the unwarranted UN “resolution” against the Koreans, are now working hard to escalate confrontation with the DPRK and provoke a war against it while calling the DPRK’s counteraction for defending its inviolable sovereignty an “additional provocation”. This shows that the south Korean group consists of hooligans and matchless villains to exterminate the nation in collusion with outsiders. The Lee group’s anti-DPRK confrontation racket is a last-ditch effort of a man more dead than alive. The intention of the group is to make a bluff with the help of the American master and save its tarnished image even a bit. It also seeks to drive the situation to the extremes by brandishing the ball of fire, plunge the north-south ties into an irretrievable phase and hand over the baton of “sanctions” and “confrontation” to the next regime. The ever-more intensified confrontation racket on the part of the U.S., the Lee group and other hostile forces goes to prove that the UN “resolution on sanctions” against the DPRK is a product of the deliberate and planned intrigues to escalate the hostile steps against it to bar it from building an economic giant, and to isolate and stifle it. But they are seriously mistaken. The “sanctions” of the enemies further hardened the will and strength of all service personnel and people of the DPRK to defend their just cause and build the most powerful nation, a highly-civilized socialist nation under the banner of justice. The Lee group talks about “sanctions” in league with the U.S. and Japan. This reminds one of a puppy knowing no fear of the tiger as it is a suicidal act of jumping into fire with fagot. The DPRK already declared its toughest stand to cope with the hostile steps of the ferocious enemies, and its army and people are fully ready and waiting for only the time for final battle. The DPRK is fully ready for both economic and military “sanctions”, and anyone who encroaches upon its dignity and sovereignty even a bit with any form of “sanctions” will not be able to avoid deadly retaliation. The Lee group should bear in mind that its participation in the “sanctions” against the DPRK will lead to a historical grand war for national reunification. Invincible is our just cause and no force on earth can arrest it. The Lee group should stop a foolish act, understanding the fierce nature of the history of stand-off between the DPRK and the U.S.” (KCNA, “DPRK Will Retaliate against Provokers: CPRK Secretariat,” February 2, 2013)


2/3/13:
KCNA: “An enlarged meeting of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea was held under the guidance of Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the WPK, chairman of the Central Military Commission of the WPK, first chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army. Present there were members of the WPK Central Military Commission, staff members of the KPA Supreme Command and commanding officers of the large combined units including the navy, air force and anti-air force and strategic rocket force. The enlarge meeting of the WPK Central Military Commission discussed the issue of bringing about a great turn in bolstering up the military capability, true to the Songun revolutionary leadership of the WPK, and an organizational issue. Kim Jong Un made an important concluding speech which serves as guidelines for further strengthening the KPA into a matchless revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu and defending the security and sovereignty of the country as required by the WPK and the developing revolution. After listening to the historic speech made by Kim Jong Un with great excitement, the participants in the meeting extended highest glory and deepest thanks to Kim Jong Un, who is ushering in the greatest heyday of increasing the military capability with his extraordinary wisdom and stratagem, matchless grit and pluck and noble virtues and evinced their firm determination to unconditionally and thoroughly implement the militant tasks set forth by him in his speech. The enlarged meeting of the WPK Central Military Commission held at an important time when a turning phase is being opened in building a thriving socialist nation and achieving the cause of national reunification will mark an important occasion in powerfully encouraging the army and people of the DPRK all out in the general advance of the new year full of conviction of certain victory and optimism and bolstering up the defence capability of the country in every way.” (KCNA, “Enlarged Meeting of Central Military Commission of WPK Held under Guidance of Kim Jong-un,” February 3, 2013)

KCNA: “An enlarged meeting of the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea was held under the guidance of Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the WPK, chairman of the Central Military Commission of the WPK, first chairman of the DPRK National Defense Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army. Present there were members of the WPK Central Military Commission, staff members of the KPA Supreme Command and commanding officers of the large combined units including the navy, air force and anti-air force and strategic rocket force. The enlarged meeting of the WPK Central Military Commission discussed the issue of bringing about a great turn in bolstering up the military capability, true to the Songun revolutionary leadership of the WPK, and an organizational issue. Kim Jong Un made an important concluding speech which serves as guidelines for further strengthening the KPA into a matchless revolutionary army of Mt. Paektu and defending the security and sovereignty of the country as required by the WPK and the developing revolution. After listening to the historic speech made by Kim Jong Un with great excitement, the participants in the meeting extended highest glory and deepest thanks to Kim Jong Un, who is ushering in the greatest heyday of increasing the military capability with his extraordinary wisdom and stratagem, matchless grit and pluck and noble virtues and evinced their firm determination to unconditionally and thoroughly implement the militant tasks set forth by him in his speech. The enlarged meeting of the WPK Central Military Commission held at an important time when a turning phase is being opened in building a thriving socialist nation and achieving the cause of national reunification will mark an important occasion in powerfully encouraging the army and people of the DPRK all out in the general advance of the new year full of conviction of certain victory and optimism and bolstering up the defense capability of the country in every way.” (KCNA, “DPRK’s Choice Will Be beyond Imagination of Hostile Forces: KCNA Commentary,” February 5, 2013)


2/4/13:
South Korea will push for a stronger joint nuclear deterrence strategy with Washington should Pyongyang conduct a third nuclear test, a senior government official said. The two allies agreed last year to forge a “tailored deterrence strategy” by 2014 to cope with increasing threats from North Korea’s nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. “We may have to talk about sure, strong measures when we negotiate with the U.S. (over the deterrence strategy) in the future. We should map out sure responses should our people be put under the threat of the North’s nuclear weapons,” he told reporters. “After a third nuclear test, the threat would become more real. For that, we should map out a stronger, more concrete one that could have a substantive (impact) on the North.” The official stressed that what is discussed at the South Korea-U.S. Extended Deterrence Policy Committee is how to cope with the threat from the possible use of nuclear arms while sanctions are what can be adopted in the diplomatic and economic realms with regard to nuclear experiments. The allies will continue to have working-level talks over the strategy at the EDPC in the first half of this year, he said. They will flesh out their vision over the strategy and have a more concrete form reported at the annual Security Consultative Meeting Slated for October. (Song Sang-ho, “Seoul, Washington Seek Strong Deterrence against N.K. Nukes,” Korea Herald, February 4, 2013)

The UN Security Council will take “very firm and strong” action against any nuclear test by North Korea, the council president said. Kim Sook, South Korea’s UN envoy, said the test appeared “imminent” and any blast would be “a dangerous attempt to undermine the authority and credibility of the Security Council.” The 15-member council is “unified and they are very firm and resolute. I would expect very firm and strong measures to be taken,” Kim told reporters at the UN headquarters as his country assumed the council’s presidency for February. “We cannot sit idly by and do nothing vis-a-vis some devastating provocative action done by North Korea,” the envoy added. (AFP, “U.N. Council Vows ‘Strong’ Action on N. Korea Nuclear Test,” February 4, 2013)

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak believes North Korea could detonate multiple devices when it goes ahead with a nuclear test expected in the coming weeks or even days. In an interview in Chosun Ilbo, Lee said “higher-level” suggested Pyongyang might attempt to detonate several devices. “North Korea is likely to carry out multiple nuclear tests at two places or more simultaneously” in order to maximise scientific gains from an event that will be globally condemned, Lee said. “If the North produces miniaturised weapons that can be used as warheads on missiles, it would really pose a threat,” Lee said. “That’s why the whole world is watching it so intensively.” In his interview, he suggested that diplomatic efforts would make little headway in bringing about a significant policy shift in Pyongyang. “I think it is difficult to persuade the North regime to give up the nuclear path,” he said. (AFP, “N. Korea ‘May Stage Multiople Nuclear Tests,’” February 4, 2013)

President Lee Myung-bak recalled that he warned North Korea via China following the North’s shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in November of 2010 that Seoul will not tolerate any further provocations. “I conveyed my decision to China after North Korea’s provocation against Yeonpyeong Island that Seoul will retaliate not just targeting the source of the attack but supporting bases behind too, by mobilizing the Army, Navy and Air Force,” Lee told Chosun Ilbo. “I told China to convey this message to North Korea, and State Councilor Dai Bingguo went to Pyongyang to tell the North and informed me personally that the message had been conveyed.” Lee said he took those steps because North Korea’s provocations are based on the regime’s belief that South Korea and the U.S. will never retaliate. The outgoing president said he also urged the Air Force to strike the North after the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, but a high-ranking military officer stopped him by saying such a move must be discussed with the U.S. and that an aerial attack had to be avoided according to the rules of engagement. “After that, I revised the rules of engagement so that frontline commanders can first take aggressive action in response and then report it up the chain of command,” Lee said. (Chosun Ilbo, “Lee Recalls Getting Tough with N. Korea,” February 5, 2013)

Even if North Korea follows through with its threat to conduct a third nuclear test, Washington and its allies will have difficulty determining whether the device detonated is made of plutonium or uranium, a prominent American nuclear scientist and South Korean officials said. To find out which type of bomb is used, “you have to be very lucky,” said Siegfried S. Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and now a professor at Stanford University in California. He was speaking on the sidelines of a forum organized by Yonhap and Stanford’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center. While scientists can determine the size of the explosion from its seismic signals, differentiating between a plutonium bomb and a highly enriched uranium bomb requires the quick detection and analysis of the different types of xenon gases produced in an atomic explosion. “The problem with xenon gases is that 10 to 20 hours after the detonation, it gets extremely difficult to tell their ratio difference between a plutonium and atomic bomb,” said a nuclear scientist affiliated with the South Korean military, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to talk to reporters on the record. “Since North Korea conducts its nuclear tests underground, it takes two to four days for the gases to get out, if they do at all. By then, it would be too late to tell the difference.” Dr. Hecker shared the concern. “If a next test is well contained, then we may learn nothing about the device detonated,” he said in an article posted on the Web site of Foreign Policy magazine on Tuesday. “However, one of the risks Pyongyang takes in trying to demonstrate a test at a higher level is that they may produce fissures that allow radioactive seepage, or possibly cause a major blowout from the tunnel.” (Choe Sang-hun, “U.S. May Have Trouble Gauging Nuclear Test,” New York Times, February 5, 2013)


2/5/13:
Diplomatic efforts to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear ambition have been a failure, and South Korea, the U.S. and other nations must pay attention to the reality of the North’s nuclear capability, a former U.S. defense chief and other experts said at a security forum in Seoul hosted by Yonhap and the Asia-Pacific Research Center (APARC) of Stanford University. “When I consider where we are with North Korea today, compared with 13 years ago, I am compelled to conclude that diplomacy with North Korea in the past 13 years may well go down as the greatest diplomatic failure in our history,” former U.S. defense chief William Perry told the forum. “They have built at least two uranium enrichment facilities, probably using one of these to build highly enriched uranium to increase their nuclear arsenal,” Perry said. “One lesson we must learn from that is we should not continue the same losing diplomatic strategy,” Perry said. Siegfried Hecker, a nuclear scientist at Stanford, called for South Korea and the U.S. to lay out a new policy aimed at limiting the North’s nuclear threat before the North’s nuclear ambitions become “an increasingly menacing and permanent fixture.” “American and South Korean policies since 2002 designed to denuclearize North Korea have failed to halt the North’s relentless march to enhance its nuclear programs — from nuclear reactors, to uranium enrichment, to nuclear tests and its long-range missile capabilities,” Hecker said. “Yet, in spite of the North’s threatening rhetoric, the nuclear threat is still in its infancy — the worst is yet to come, unless the new administrations formulate policies that focus on limiting the threat,” he said. Numerous analysts have raised doubts over Washington’s so-called “strategic patience” approach toward North Korea, a policy of shunning direct talks with the North until it agrees to abide by past nuclear commitments. “North Korea has now categorically stated its nuclear weapons are not negotiable,” Hecker said. “South Korean and American actions must focus on those weapons being a temporary hedge rather than an increasingly menacing and permanent fixture.” Hecker said North Korea will likely conduct its third nuclear test with a highly enriched uranium (HEU) explosion because there is “no plutonium in the pipeline.” “The North’s Yongbyon nuclear facility has a potential for 2 tons of low-enriched uranium fuel per year or 40 kilograms of HEU per year,” Hecker said. If North Korea follows through on its threats of a nuclear test with HEU, it will “potentially greatly expand size of their nuclear arsenal because we don’t know when and where they enrich uranium because it is so easy to hide.” During the forum, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim called on North Korea to avoid any “provocative” moves. “We continue to call on the DPRK (North Korea) to avoid any provocative behavior, become a responsible neighbor, and return to an authentic and credible diplomatic process toward our shared goal of denuclearization,” Kim said. “The process will not happen overnight. It will not be easy,” Kim said. “But we will continue to press forward, in cooperation with our friends and allies in the region, to help build a Northeast Asia full of peace and prosperity.” (Yonhap, “S. Korea, U.S. Confront Failure of Diplomacy with N. Korea,” February 5, 2013) One of the US’s best known experts on North Korea’s nuclear program says Washington and Seoul’s policies on containing the threat need to focus on a broader range of issues. Siegfried Hecker said that the policies to combat the nuclear threat need to focus on the economy, education, resources, culture, and exchange in order to be effective. He advocated a broader approach in response to North Korea’s imminent third nuclear test, rather than the hard line currently coming from the United Nations Security Council, with its emphasis on military actions such as preemptive strikes and a stronger naval blockade. Hecker, who first glimpsed North Korea’s large-scale, modernized uranium enrichment facilities during a visit in November 2010, made the remarks at an international symposium in Seoul on the future of Northeast Asia. Describing North Korea’s nuclear capabilities as still at a beginning level, he also warned of a possible worst-case scenario if the administrations of Barack Obama and Park Geun-hye did not develop policies geared to contain the threat the country’s nuclear program poses. (Kang Tae-ho, “Expert Says Seoul and Washington’s Emphasis on N.K. Denuclearization Has Failed,” Hankyore, February 6, 2013)

A U.N. special investigator is urging the world body to open an inquiry into North Korea for possible crimes against humanity. U.N. special rapporteur Marzuki Darusman is recommending that the Geneva-based Human Rights Council investigate North Korea’s “grave, widespread and systematic violations of human rights.” Darusman’s report says a review of the isolated country’s record since 2004 shows the need for a probe to fully document the responsibility of government and individuals for alleged abuses “in particular where they amount to crimes against humanity.” The report cites nine patterns of violations such as prison camps and using food to control people. In a lengthy response, North Korea’s U.N. mission in Geneva calls the new U.N. report “politically motivated.” (Associated Press, “U.N. Report Urges Human Rights Probe of North Korea for Possible Crimes against Humanity,” February 5, 2013)

North Korea is not known for its subtlety, famous instead for its soaring patriotic rhetoric and threats to turn the capital of its rival, South Korea, into a “sea of fire.” But even by those standards, the latest volley of North Korea propaganda is noteworthy. Posted recently on YouTube, a video by one of the North’s propaganda agencies shows an animated version of Manhattan in flames — part of a dream in which a young Korean man envisions a glorious future of rocket launchings and the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. The background music to the scenes of launchings and destruction: an instrumental version of “We Are the World.” “I see black smoke billowing somewhere in America,” the text that scrolls across the screen says in what are, in essence, subtitles of the man’s dream. “It appears that the headquarters of evil, which has had a habit of using force and unilateralism and committing wars of aggression, is going up in flames it itself has ignited.” By this afternoon, the video had been removed from YouTube after a copyright complaint from Activision, the maker of the video game “Call of Duty,” from which the fiery New York scene was lifted. Copies, however, were up elsewhere on the Web, including on Live Leak. The three-and-a-half-minute clip — titled “On Board Unha-9” and posted on YouTube on February 2 by Uriminzokkiri, a North Korean government Web site — is the latest evidence of the propaganda mileage Pyongyang is extracting from its December 12 launching of its Unha-3 rocket, which the West considers North Korea’s first successful test of long-range-missile technology. This is not the first time North Korea has portrayed attacks on the United States. Propaganda posters have shown a missile striking what looks like Capitol Hill. There is no evidence that the North has the ability to strike the United States mainland with missiles. (Choe Sang-hun, “In Propaganda Video, Only Pyongyang Sleeps Easy,” New York Times, February 6, 2013, p. A-4)


2/6/13:
With rising expectations that North Korea will test a nuclear device, a special envoy of leader Kim Jong-un reportedly paid a secret visit to Beijing. “As far as I know, a high-ranking envoy from North Korea arrived in Beijing yesterday [this] morning by airplane,” a source in Beijing told JoongAng Ilbo. “Although we haven’t confirmed specific identification of the envoy, we were told he is an official of the ruling Workers’ Party’s international affairs department.” South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said a preemptive strike is also a possible option for the military in case Pyongyang attempts a nuclear attack on the South. “If the enemy [North Korea] is actually about to use a nuclear weapon, a pre-emptive strike is also one of our possible reactions,” Jung Seung-jo, chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a briefing of the National Assembly’s National Defense Committee. (Lee Young-jong and Kim Hee-jin, “North Sends a Top Envoy to Beijing, Says Source,” JoongAng Ilbo, February 6, 2013)

The South Korean military is pushing to deploy spy satellites to strengthen its surveillance of North Korea, a senior military official said, in light of growing missile and nuclear threats from the communist country. South Korea currently operates Arirang-3, a multipurpose satellite, which provides geographical information on the Korean Peninsula, including on North Korea’s missile and nuclear test sites. However, it still relies on the United States for much of its intelligence due to the commercial satellite’s limited vision and longer rotation period. “Although the South Korean military can mobilize various intelligence assets to monitor the North Korean military’s activities, its capability is limited in observing the control command and supporting facilities in the North,” a senior military official said. “To be able to independently monitor the enemy’s activities, the military will include the deployment of military spy satellites in the mid and long-term plan.” The official did not provide further details on the envisioned plan, which would cost time and lots of money to implement. (Kim Eun-jung, “S. Korea Pushes for Development of Military Spy Satellites,” Yonhap, February 6, 2013)

South Korea faces a tough task in bolstering its deterrence capabilities against a North Korea feared to emerge as a genuine nuclear power if an impending third test is successful. Experts said Seoul and Washington should map out a comprehensive deterrence strategy, stressing that North Korean technology to miniaturize nuclear warheads, along with its ballistic missile capability, would pose a grave threat to security on the peninsula and beyond. Some emphasize a military approach to neutralize the nuclear threat while others stress more cautious, diplomatic methods such as strengthening the security alliance with the U.S. and deferring the transfer of wartime operational control slated for December 2015. “What is clear as evidenced by its preparation for another nuclear test is that the North has no intention of renouncing its nuclear program,” said Chun In-young, professor emeritus at Seoul National University.

“Whether we recognize its nuclear power status or not, whatever the rhetoric Seoul and Washington may use to describe the North’s nuclear programs, Pyongyang will have crossed the threshold through the next test. Then, Seoul needs to craft a new deterrence strategy.” Some military strategists argued that the South could consider “balancing nuclear power” against the North by developing its own nuclear arms or persuading the U.S. to redeploy its tactical nuclear weapons to the peninsula. Nuclear theorists claim that nuclear weapons are for political, deterrence purposes, as witnessed during the Cold War, which did not escalate into an all-out war between the U.S. and the then-Soviet Union due to the balance of terror stemming from “mutually assured destruction.” “Theoretically, the only thing that can deter or block nuclear weapons is nuclear weapons,” said Lee Choon-kun, security expert at the Korea Economic Research Institute. “Although the U.S.’ Barack Obama administration champions the vision of a nuclear-free world, South Korea has a different security environment exposed to a constant nuclear threat from the North. Seoul can ask for the redeployment of tactical nukes on the grounds that it would not build its own nuclear arsenal.” Some said that Seoul should seek to bring in tactical weapons and could propose to the North mutual nuclear arms reductions given that international diplomatic methods have borne little fruit. But others argue the disadvantages of bringing nuclear weapons to the South would outweigh the advantages. They cautioned that Seoul could face strong resistance not only from its ally the U.S. but also from the international community upholding the non-proliferation principle, and that its soft power accumulated through its active participation in global issues such as green growth and anti-piracy efforts would be undermined. Some also pointed out that neighboring states such as China and Japan would not accept a nuclear peninsula due to the possible fallout in case of a nuclear disaster. “Pyongyang’s pursuit of nuclear arms is driven by political motivations to raise its bargaining power. It is a last-resort political weapon. Thus, I am skeptical about the attempt to resolve a political issue through a military approach such as a preemptive strike,” said Kim Ho-sup, international politics professor at Chung-Ang University. “Seoul has long committed itself to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which has played a pivotal role to keep world peace. Backing out of it would shake the country’s primary diplomatic policy line as well as the roots of the Korea-U.S. alliance.” He added that Seoul could propose the delay of the OPCON transfer should security conditions seriously deteriorate after another atomic test in the North. Another security expert echoed Kim’s view, stressing the importance of maintaining a robust alliance with the U.S. “The U.S. is confident about its security commitment to the South. In case of a pending nuclear threat, it could launch a nuclear strike from its submarine stationed near Okinawa, Japan. The Obama administration would not do things that would undermine its non-proliferation initiatives,” he said, declining to be named. “On top of that, it is, in some sense, meaningless for Seoul to seek nuclear arms. It can hardly catch up with others in terms of balancing regional nuclear power. The North is thought to have around 10 warheads while Japan can make many nukes quickly if it determined to do so.” At the bilateral Extended Deterrence Policy Committee, Seoul and Washington have discussed “tailored deterrence strategy.” The allies are expected to craft a concrete deterrence plan by the end of this year, Seoul officials said. The possible third nuclear test is expected to affect the allies’ discussion over the strategy. “After a third nuclear test, the threat would become more real. For that, we should map out a stronger, more concrete one that could have a substantive (impact) on the North,” a senior Seoul official told reporters earlier this week.

If nuclear weapons are not an appropriate option for Seoul, it needs to develop asymmetrical capabilities and more sophisticated conventional weapons to fend off the North’s nuclear threats, experts said. The South can bolster its special operations forces that can be preeminently deployed to the North to eliminate or neutralize the enemy’s strategic arms such as weapons of mass destruction and key command structures. Seoul can also introduce strategic weapons such as unmanned drones or guided cruise missiles and bunker-busters to destroy key military bases including underground sites where the North’s leadership could hide in case of an emergency or arsenals are stored. Nam Chang-hee, security expert at Inha University, stressed the need to construct a three-way security cooperation mechanism with the U.S. and Japan; secure capabilities for stealth infiltration; and bolster intelligence-gathering and missile defense capabilities. “We need to build an intelligence-sharing mechanism for an early detection of North Korean missile launches while at the same time, exerting ‘coercive diplomacy’ to pressure Beijing, which wants to shun the deepening trilateral cooperation, to more actively exert its leverage to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions,” he said. “Through procuring stealth combat aircraft, we can also develop an operation plan to decapitate the North Korean leadership, so as to present to the North that we have non-nuclear retaliatory capabilities.” Nam also underscored that to bolster the alliance with the U.S. to help deter the North, Seoul should support the U.S. Forces Korea’s expanding role beyond the peninsula and seek ways to increase South Korea’s strategic security value for Washington. South Korea has been cautious about obviously supporting the U.S. policy of rebalancing toward the Asia-Pacific for fear of straining ties with China, its largest trade partner. (Song Sang-ho, “Seoul Faces Tough Choices to Contain N.K. Nuke Threat,” Korea Herald, February 6, 2013)

North Korea could conduct a nuclear test soon with either plutonium-based devices or highly enriched uranium, or with both, “a destabilizing event” that would prevent the United States from returning to negotiations but would not threaten the country, a former U.S. secretary of defense said. “I think they are technically ready or will be ready in a few weeks (for the nuclear test),” William Perry said in an interview with Yonhap. “It all depends on its political decision. The former defense secretary, however, dismissed the notion that the North’s long-range rockets or nuclear weapons will be a serious threat to the U.S. “Suppose North Korea has 10 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), but how can they threaten the U.S. that has more than a thousand ICBMs? I don’t think the North Korean government is suicidal,” he said. He also said any military options for the U.S. against Pyongyang are not practical, citing different circumstances now. In 1994, Washington prepared for an attack on the North when the communist country was beginning to produce plutonium at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, and Perry himself was involved in the plan. “In those days, all the North Korean nuclear facilities were in one place so that we can attack them with one strike. But now, facilities are spreading all over the country, and bombs could be moved around from place to place. So it’s not possible today to eliminate all the nuclear capability,” he said. Just as the U.S. did back then, the military option is “always the last possible alternative,” he said, advocating the launch of “an official dialogue.” “We need an official dialogue between senior officials of the U.S. and North Korea. Any unofficial dialogues can only be the stepping stone to the official one,” he said. “If North Korea goes ahead with the third nuclear test, that’s going to be a very destabilizing event, and it’s going to make it very difficult for the U.S. ever to get back into the negotiation position. It is going to make it almost impossible to start the Perry Process again,” he said. (Yonhap, “N. Korea Not ‘Suicidal’ Enough to Attack U.S.: Perry,” Korea Herald, February 6, 2013)

In a familiar tactic of coupling saber-rattling and peace overtures, North Korea called for the incoming Seoul government’s efforts to put cross-border relations back on track amid signs of its impending nuclear test. Tokyo-based Choson Sinbo said that resumption of inter-Korean dialogue hinged on Seoul’s attitude under President-elect Park Geun-hye. “In the wake of the United Nations Security Council sanctions, the new government’s behavior will be the touchstone for the ‘trust-building process’ for the normalization of the North-South relations,” the newspaper said. North Korea “has concluded that the U.S.’ hostile policy had reached its peak through the UNSC resolution and declared the end of denuclearization talks,” it said. “But there is enough possibility for the opening of the window of dialogue if the South attempts to resolve the standoff for the people’s common interests.” It has also lashed out at a South Korea and U.S. joint naval exercise and a smaller drill by the South Korean military early this week, accusing them of preparing for war. “If anyone touches the Gaeseong district at all, we will consider it to be an atrocious sanction against us and take stern measures such as withdrawing all incentives associated with the complex and recreating the area as our military zone,” the North’s National Economic Cooperation Committee said in a statement carried by KCNA. With the unruly state seen as technically ready for another detonation, neighboring countries have been ramping up warnings and last-ditch diplomacy to facilitate policy coordination. In Washington, State Department Victoria Nuland reiterated that the U.S. “remains firmly committed to the undertakings in UNSC Resolution 2087, and if provocations continue, there will be continued consequences.” (Shin Hyon-hee, “N.K. Sends Mixed Signals,” Korea Herald, February 7, 2013)

The South Korean government is under the impression that if North Korea goes ahead with its third nuclear test, it would likely use a small and lightweight nuclear warhead that could be mounted on a missile. It also appears likely that it will use highly enriched uranium instead of plutonium, which it is difficult to produce more of. Speaking before the National Assembly’s national defense committee, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Jung Seung-jo said the military was “not ruling out the possibility that North Korea will test a boosted weapon as the next stage before, a hydrogen bomb using nuclear fusion.” Even if it does come with a light enough warhead, another question is whether it is capable of linking it to its rocket launch technology. In principle, a country that is capable of launching a satellite can also develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). But Siegfried Hecker was skeptical, saying it would take several launch attempts, and about five years, to develop a functioning ICBM because of the necessary reentry technology. (Kim Kyu-won, “North Korea Could Be Developing Hydrogen Bomb,” Hankyore, February 7, 2013)

DPRK National Economic Cooperation Committee spokesman’s statement: “The puppet Ministry of Unification of south Korea in a business report to “the National Assembly” on February 4 said inspection would be intensified of the things carried into the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ), crying out for an “effective implementation” of the UN “resolution on sanctions against the north” and “corresponding payment be imposed upon the banned goods.” In this regard the spokesman for the ministry blustered this step would mean that south Korea would remain true to the UN “resolution on sanctions”, asserting that the items banned by the UN are possible to find their ways to the north via the KIZ. This step is another reckless action to escalate the confrontation with the DPRK and a criminal act of putting the inter-Korean relations into an inescapable collapse. As known to everybody, the KIZ, a product of the historic June 15 era of reunification, is a symbol of national reconciliation, unity and cooperation as it was built after the north provided the militarily most sensitive forefront area to the south. That is why the KIZ drew great attention of all Koreans and the world and evoked positive response internally and externally since its proclamation. The Lee Myung Bak group, however, has made persistent efforts to remove the KIZ, resorting to vicious moves to deny and violate the north-south joint declarations soon after its seizure of power. … The group is sadly mistaken if it thinks its “sanctions” against the KIZ will be pressure on the north. We hope the KIZ will continue operating in the spirit of the June 15 era of reunification but if someone makes any form of provocation to the KIZ, we will consider it as vicious “sanctions” against us and take such resolute counter-actions as withdrawing all privileges for the KIZ and restoring the area as a military zone. In this case the Lee Myung Bak group will be held wholly accountable for the ensuing grave consequences. It had better behave itself, keenly aware of the dear price it will have to pay for its reckless “sanctions” against the KIZ.” (KCNA, “S. Korea Will Have to Pay Dearly for ‘Sanctions’ against KIZ,” February 7, 2013)

An editorial in the Global Times, a sister tabloid to the People’s Daily, stated that relations between Beijing and Pyongyang “now face a new challenge” with an imminent third nuclear test from North Korea. “If North Korea insists on a third nuclear test despite attempts to dissuade it, it must pay a heavy price,” it continued. As a potential consequence, the editorial stated, “The assistance it will be able to receive from China should be reduced.” “Pyongyang’s diplomacy is characterized with [sic] toughness,” it continued. “But if Pyongyang gets tough with China, China should strike back hard, even at the cost of deteriorating bilateral relations.” “There is a general principle: China is never afraid of Pyongyang,” the editorial affirmed. It went to say that Pyongyang was “important to China, but not important enough to make China give up its diplomatic principles.” “China is willing to maintain the Sino-North Korean friendship, but Pyongyang should do the same,” it added. It also said the Chinese government should make it clear that aid will be reduced “to shatter any illusions Pyongyang may have,” advising North Korea not to misread China’s signals. It went on to address claims about the issue being used as a diplomatic weapon. “Some believe the US, Japan and South Korea are attempting to foment discord between China and North Korea … but China shouldn’t be taken hostage by North Korea’s extreme actions in order to avoid such a trap,” it said. The Global Times added, “We are not advocating giving up the Sino-North Korean friendship. Instead, we believe the strategic significance of a friendly relationship is special. But Pyongyang shouldn’t misread China. China won’t put its relations with Pyongyang above other strategic interests.” A diplomatic source in Beijing said, “The Chinese government is trying to prevent North Korea’s nuclear test because of the leadership transition to Xi Jinping becoming president next month. But if North Korea goes ahead with the nuclear, China will likely work to reduce the level of the international sanctions.” (Hankyore, “Chinese Newspaper Says Pyongyang Should Pay a Heavy Price for Nuke Test,” February 6, 2013)


2/7/13:
DoS Daily Briefing: “Q: All signs point toward the new nuclear test going off as they planned, and the UN and this building has said reaction will follow, but no sign indicates that the North Koreans are taking that seriously and showing no sign of response. I’m just wondering what makes you think this — the most recent UN resolution or the next one will have any effect. MS. NULAND: Well, again, what we can do here is ensure that the Six Parties are unified in their response, as we did in crafting UN Security Council Resolution 2087. We can ensure that that’s not just a piece of paper, that those sanctions are implemented around the international community and in all of our member countries, which we are very much doing. And we can continue to make clear, all of us, publicly and privately, as we are, to the North — to the government of the DPRK that if they continue down this provocative path, there will be more, as it says in 2087. … Q: — As I mentioned yesterday, South Korea and the United States is considering preemptive strikes to North Korea. And how is the United States position of these preemptive strikes against North Korea? Could the U.S. cooperate to South Korea or — MS. NULAND: Well, obviously we don’t take anything off the table. We never do. But we are focused on the path laid out in UN Security Council Resolution 2087, which is to continue to exert economic pressure if, in fact, the North Koreans don’t change their course.” (DoS, Daily Briefing, February 7, 2013)

DPRK National Economic Cooperation Committee spokesman: “The puppet Ministry of Unification of south Korea in a business report to “the National Assembly” on Feb. 4 said inspection would be intensified of the things carried into the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ), crying out for an “effective implementation” of the UN “resolution on sanctions against the north” and “corresponding payment be imposed upon the banned goods.” In this regard the spokesman for the ministry blustered this step would mean that south Korea would remain true to the UN “resolution on sanctions”, asserting that the items banned by the UN are possible to find their ways to the north via the KIZ. This step is another reckless action to escalate the confrontation with the DPRK and a criminal act of putting the inter-Korean relations into an inescapable collapse. As known to everybody, the KIZ, a product of the historic June 15 era of reunification, is a symbol of national reconciliation, unity and cooperation as it was built after the north provided the militarily most sensitive forefront area to the south. That is why the KIZ drew great attention of all Koreans and the world and evoked positive response internally and externally since its proclamation. The Lee Myung Bak group, however, has made persistent efforts to remove the KIZ, resorting to vicious moves to deny and violate the north-south joint declarations soon after its seizure of power. It worked with bloodshot eyes to stifle the KIZ by limiting or interrupting the entry of south Koreans and the shipment of items particularly whenever the situation got strained. The group hamstrung our sincere efforts to revitalize the KIZ, seriously mocking at them and persistently disregarding them. It claims that the north greatly benefited from the operations in the KIZ, but it is nothing but a sheer paradox. The north offered the KIZ to the south entirely for the sake of national reconciliation, unity and reunification and out of its compatriotic feeling for the minor enterprises and poor people in south Korea. It was a resolute step that we provided the whole KIZ of great military importance. Is it possible to properly calculate the action? It is something shocking that the ministry looking after “the policy towards the north” and its boss took the lead in kicking up the “sanctions” row. The present catastrophic phase is entirely attributable to those elements who stand in the way of inter-Korean relations to escalate the confrontation with compatriots. Their trumpeting about “sanctions” against the KIZ is as foolish an act as pricking its own eyes. Its consequences would be unimaginable. The group is sadly mistaken if it thinks its “sanctions” against the KIZ will be pressure on the north. We hope the KIZ will continue operating in the spirit of the June 15 era of reunification but if someone makes any form of provocation to the KIZ, we will consider it as vicious “sanctions” against us and take such resolute counter-actions as withdrawing all privileges for the KIZ and restoring the area as a military zone. In this case the Lee Myung Bak group will be held wholly accountable for the ensuing grave consequences. It had better behave itself, keenly aware of the dear price it will have to pay for its reckless “sanctions” against the KIZ.” (KCNA, “S. Korea Will Have to Pay Dearly for “Sanctions” against KIZ,” February 7, 2013)


2/8/13:
“The U.S. and hostile forces jumped to conclusions that the republic is planning the third nuclear test, citing their hypothesis and argument,” the propaganda weekly Tongil Sinbo said Friday in an article posted on a Web site operated by the North. (Yonhap, “N. Korea Says World Mistakenly Interprets Its ‘Important Measures’ as Nuclear Test,” February 10, 2013)


2/9/13:
Despite rising cross-border tension, the trade between South and North Korea reached a record high last year. The volume of trade between the two Koreas reached US$1.97 billion in 2012, inching up from the previous record of $1.91 billion in 2010, according to the data by the Korea Customs Service. South Korean products worth $896.26 million were shipped to North Korea, up 13.4 percent from the previous year. The amount of exports from the North jumped 19.3 percent on-year to $1.07 billion. A total of 99 percent of the volume was shipped through a land route linked to the inter-Korean industrial complex in Kaesong. (Yonhap, “Inter-Korean Trade Hits Record High in 2012,” February 9, 2013)


2/10/13:
In an interview with Hankyore, Tony Namkung said the outcome depended on the response from Seoul, Washington, and Tokyo, but added that the most important factor would be the North Korea policy of South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye, who is set to take office on Feb. 25. According to Namkung, Pyongyang is watching closely right now to see what Park will do — and could call its test off if she shows a willingness to work proactively on improving relations.

“Hani: What kind of gesture can Park Geun-hye make to improve relations?

Namkung: Maybe something like a personnel exchange. It could be helpful, the kind of exchange where the government is sanctioning it indirectly without actively pushing it. For instance, you have things like the Pyongyang performance by the New York Philharmonic orchestra a few years back. It might also help to have unofficial meetings between officials.

Hani: How does North Korea see Park Geun-hye?

Namkung: If you listen to the things they say off the record, there seems to be a lot of interest in what kinds of policies she has in store. It may be because she said some positive things during her 2002 visit to North Korea. So I think they’re taking a wait-and-see approach.

Hani: What kinds of policies do you think Park Geun-hye needs to proceed with?

Namkung: I’m sure the people in North Korea would like to see her being like liberal former Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun. She’s going to have to find the middle ground between the Sunshine Policy and the policies of the Lee Myung-bak administration. She needs to stress for the resumption of dialogue more than they’re doing now.

Hani: Park Geun-hye has talked about the “Korean Peninsula trust-building process.” Do you think that’s feasible?

Namkung: I think it’s vital for the North and South Korean foreign ministries to communicate through the official diplomatic channels. There’s a lot of symbolic value to that, because it’s a meeting between diplomatic authorities who represent two sovereign states. At a meeting like that, they might be able to discuss security issues. But it’s important that the two foreign ministries initiate this bilateral dialogue rather than making it part of the six-party talks. It can serve as a sign of mutual respect. Also, the South Korean Ministry of Unification and North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea could discuss other issues like separated families, travel, and investment.” (Park Hyun, “Park Guen-hye’s Response to North Korea’s Provocations Will Be Crucial,” Hankyore, February 12, 2013)


2/11/13:
KCNA: “A meeting of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) took place here on Monday [February 11]. Present there were members of the Presidium, members and alternate members of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the WPK. The meeting adopted a decision “On marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK and the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War as grand festivals of victors.” The decision emphasized the need to further deepen and accomplish the sacred cause of holding in high esteem the great Comrade Kim Il Sung and Comrade Kim Jong Il as eternal leaders of the WPK and the revolution. The decision called for splendidly and significantly organizing political events marking the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War and the 65th anniversary of the DPRK. According to it, various political events will be held with splendor to mark the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War. They will include a parade of the Korean People’s Army (KPA), mass demonstration of Pyongyang citizens, grand mass gymnastic and artistic performance “Arirang” and army-people joint meeting with war veterans. The decision stressed the need to successfully rebuild the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum and spruce up the revolutionary battle sites, revolutionary sites and revolutionary museums including the revolutionary museum at Kim Il Sung University, the Museum of the Fatherland Liberation War and the Jonsung Revolutionary Museum. It called for newly building a martyrs cemetery of the KPA in Pyongyang and sprucing up KPA martyrs cemeteries and monuments to the fallen fighters of the KPA in various parts of the country. It underlined the need to resolutely foil all the hostile forces’ moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK by achieving proud victory in building an economic power and improving the people’s living standard. It also underscored the need for all fields and units to do a lot of good works for the prosperity of the country and its people’s happiness on the occasion of the 65th birthday of the Republic. It called for staging an all-out action of high intensity for reliably protecting the security and sovereignty of the country in view of the prevailing grave situation and marking the 65th anniversary of the DPRK and the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War with fresh achievements in bolstering up capability for self-defense. It stressed the need to continue launching satellites of Kwangmyongsong series and powerful long-range rockets. It called on the KPA to keep itself fully ready for combat and put maximum spurs to rounding off its combat preparedness in order to bolster up one-beats-a hundred combat capability. It stressed that once an order is issued, the KPA should blow up the stronghold of aggression at a strike and wipe out the brigandish U.S. imperialists and south Korean puppet army to the last man and thus accomplish the historic cause of national reunification. The decision called for sincerely helping the army and significantly conducting the work for putting forward and preferentially treating the war veterans and wartime merited persons as a social movement on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the war victory. It underscored the need to give further spurs to building a highly civilized socialist nation. It referred to the tasks for completing the preparations for the universal 12-year compulsory education within this year, establishing a medical information service network and telemedicine system, building a children’s hospital, a dental hospital and a recovery center and winding up the first phase project for updating the Hungnam Pharmaceutical Factory. It also underscored the need to build a modern combined center for sports trainings and different kinds of mass sporting facilities and raise hot wind of sports throughout the country. It called for face-lifting the central part of Pyongyang and building more modern cultural facilities including pleasure grounds and Munsu Wading Pool. The decision stressed the need to arouse all compatriots to the struggle for resolutely foiling the anti-DPRK moves and “sanctions” racket of the U.S. imperialists and the south Korean puppet group of traitors and thoroughly implementing the June 15 joint declaration and the October 4 declaration so as to open up a new phase for national reunification. It called for conducting external activities to grandly celebrate the 60th anniversary of the victory in the Fatherland Liberation War as a common event for the anti-imperialist independent forces and the world progressive people.” (KCNA, “Political Bureau of WPK Central Committee Meets,” February 12, 2013)

North Korea tested an engine for its new long-range missiles, government sources here said February 17. Pyongyang carried out a function test of the engine for its long-range “KN-08” missiles on the Dongchang-ri launch site in North Pyongan Province, according to multiple government sources. “It appears that North Korea conducted the engine test aimed at extending the range of the KN-08 missile to over 5,000 kilometers,”said a source. “If the North decides the test successful, it is expected to operationally deploy the new long-range rocket,” he added. “What deserves attention is that the North carried out the engine test despite being aware of the fact that the U.S. surveillance satellite would detect the move,” said another source. “The engine test right before its third nuclear test would be intended to intensify its threat to the U.S. and its allies,” he added. (Korea Herald, “”N. Korea Tested Long-Range Missile Engine before Nuke Blast,” February 17, 2013)


2/12/13:
North Korea claimed that it successfully conducted its third underground nuclear test at its northeastern site, drawing strong condemnation from the international community, including the governments of South Korea and the United States. Hours after an unusual seismic tremor was detected at the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test complex, KCNA said that the detonation was of a “high level” using a smaller device compared to its previous two nuclear tests. “The test was conducted in a safe and perfect way on a high level with the use of a smaller and light A-bomb unlike the previous ones, yet with great explosive power,” the KCNA said in the English dispatch, adding that the test did not have any adverse effects on the surrounding environment. “The specific features of the function and explosive power of the A-bomb and all other measurements fully tallied with the values of the design, physically demonstrating the good performance of the DPRK’s (North Korea) nuclear deterrence that has become diversified.” Confirming a third nuclear test, South Korea’s government issued a statement, saying the nuclear test “is an unacceptable threat to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and in the region and a head-on challenge to the international community,” and “North Korea won’t be able to avoid grave responsibility,” it said, noting South Korea will try to take every possible measure to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear programs, including taking matter in the UNSC. The UN body is expected to convene an emergency meeting to discuss the latest provocation at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday (New York time). U.S. President Barack Obama also said Tuesday that North Korea’s announcement of another nuclear test is a “highly provocative act” and pledged all necessary actions to defend his country and its allies.South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan called U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and pledged “swift and unified” action at the U.N. over North Korea’s third nuclear test. Seoul’s Korea Meteorological Administration detected a magnitude 4.9 tremor at 11:57:50 a.m. with its epicenter located in Kilju County. The area, located in North Hamgyeong Province in the northeastern part of the communist country, is home to the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test complex that was used in the 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests. Other seismic detection agencies in other countries also picked up the artificial quake. South Korea’s defense ministry said the latest detonation resulted in a 6-7 kiloton atomic explosion that fell shy of a yield from a “boosted fission weapon” that some experts speculated the North wanted to test this time around. A kiloton is equal to 1,000 tons of conventional TNT explosive. It said while the detonation resulted in a blast larger than the 1 kiloton device that Pyongyang used for its first test and the 2-6 kiloton weapon used in the second experiment, it was not as powerful as the 13 kiloton bomb dropped on Hiroshima by the United States at the end of World War II. An official said that judging by the overall yield as checked by seismic readings, the explosion was not “normal.” (Yonhap, “N. Korea Claims Successful Nuclear Test,” February 12, 2013) Outside watchers say that the North’s high-stake nuclear test is aimed at building a smaller weapon because it’s the key ICBM technology, though it was not immediately clear whether the reclusive state used uranium or plutonium to build its latest atomic bomb. “If the third test produced stronger explosive yield with smaller amount of plutonium, it is believed to have made progress in making a smaller nuclear warhead,” said Jung Yong-hoon, a nuclear science professor at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. South Korea’s defense ministry said seismic data suggested the nuclear test had a yield of 6-7 kilotons. South Korea’s intelligence agency chief said Pyongyang is making progress towards building a smaller and lighter bomb, but doubted whether the North detonated a bomb with “great explosive power,” calling the North’s announcement an “exaggerated advertisement.” “We don’t need to worry about North Korea’s nuclear capacity with overly exaggerated assessment, though we shouldn’t ease down defense posture,” Won Sei-hoon, the chief of the National Intelligence Service, was quoted as saying during a parliamentary meeting. “We don’t see the North has succeeded in mastering miniaturization technology,” another senior intelligence official said during a closed parliamentary meeting convened after the test. (Yonhap, “N. Korea’s Nuclear Test Aimed at Making Nuclear-Tipped ICBM: Experts,” February 12, 2013) President Lee Myung-bak and President-elect Park Geun-hye held an emergency meeting at Cheong Wa Dae, and condemned the North’s action. “We will stress all steps, including taking it to the United Nations, to make the North give up its nuclear weapons,” said senior presidential secretary Chun Young-woo after a National Security Council meeting presided over by Lee. “We will push for the early deployment of missiles, which are under development, that can cover the North in its entirety.” Park also issued a strong condemnation through her spokeswoman. “We won’t tolerate North Korea’s nuclear weapons,” she said. “The North should realize it has nothing to gain from this provocation.” Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said during a meeting of the National Assembly National Defense Committee, “We were notified of the North’s planned test in advance on Monday by the United States.” The North had conveyed its test schedule to Washington through its New York channel, he said. Regarding the matter, the defense ministry said that it couldn’t definitely say what material was used. “Some say a boosted fission weapon could have been used but considering the strength of the bomb it couldn’t belong in that category,” said an Army officer. In a meeting with lawmakers of the National Assembly Intelligence Committee, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) said that it was too early to say the North had succeeded in weaponizing its nuclear technology. “North Korea has yet to complete the technology for shrinking and lightening a nuclear device to build a missile warhead,” the NIS said. The ROK-U.S. Combined Forces Command raised its Watch Condition, or Watchcon, to level 2 from 3, to effectively cope with a possible military threat by the North. (Chung Min-uck, “N.K. Presses on with Nuke Test,” Korea Times, February 12, 2013) A global nuclear test monitoring agency said in April it had detected radioactive xenon gases that could have come from the February 12 underground explosion. But the measurement gave no indication of which material was in the bomb. “We would very much like to know whether it is plutonium or highly enriched uranium,” U.S. nuclear scientist Siegfried Hecker, who has visited North Korea, told a news conference. “But in the end — unless the xenon people get very lucky, very soon — we just don’t know. There is no other way to tell,” he said, referring to the analysts of such radioactive traces.Large amounts of xenon gases are produced in fission, an atomic reaction occurring both in nuclear arms and reactors. To distinguish between plutonium and uranium, it helps if the detection is made soon after the test and the amount of gases released is large, experts say. “The sooner, the better,” said Mika Nikkinen of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), the Vienna-based monitoring body which registered the February blast virtually instantaneously via seismic signals around the world. Speaking at the same event, he suggested the fissile source in the device detonated by the North would not be known “until somebody is able to get” to the test site and see what is there. Anders Ringbom, deputy research director at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, said it was not possible to determine the material on the basis of the gases picked up two months ago. “If we look at the (isotope) ratios you cannot distinguish in this case because the release was so late,” he said. (Fredrik Dahl, “North Korea Nuclear Test Still Shrouded in Mystery,” Reuters, June 18, 2013)

KCNA: “The scientific field for national defense of the DPRK succeeded in the third underground nuclear test at the site for underground nuclear test in the northern part of the DPRK on Tuesday. The test was carried out as part of practical measures of counteraction to defend the country’s security and sovereignty in the face of the ferocious hostile act of the U.S. which wantonly violated the DPRK’s legitimate right to launch satellite for peaceful purposes.The test was conducted in a safe and perfect way on a high level with the use of a smaller and light A-bomb unlike the previous ones, yet with great explosive power. It was confirmed that the test did not give any adverse effect to the surrounding ecological environment. The specific features of the function and explosive power of the A-bomb and all other measurements fully tallied with the values of the design, physically demonstrating the good performance of the DPRK’s nuclear deterrence that has become diversified. The nuclear test will greatly encourage the army and people of the DPRK in their efforts to build a thriving nation with the same spirit and mettle as displayed in conquering space, and offer an important occasion in ensuring peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the region.” (KCNA, “KCNA Report on Succcessful 3rd Underground Nuclear Test,” February 12, 2013)

DPRK FoMin spokesman’s statement: “The DPRK’s third nuclear test is a resolute step for self-defense taken by it to cope with the U.S. hostile act against it.

Its successful launch of satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2 in December last year was a peaceful one from A to Z which was conducted according to its plan for scientific and technological development for economic construction and the improvement of the standard of people’s living. The world including hostile countries recognized its application satellite’s entry into orbit and greatly admired its development of space technology.

The U.S., however, again prodded the UN Security Council into cooking up a new “resolution on sanctions” against the DPRK, terming its satellite launch a violation of the UNSC’s “resolution”.

Encroaching upon the right to satellite launch is an unpardonable grave hostile act as it is an infringement on the DPRK’s sovereignty.

By origin, the DPRK had neither need nor plan to conduct a nuclear test. The DPRK’s nuclear deterrence has already acquired the trustworthy capability strong enough to make a precision strike at bases for aggression and blow them up at a single blow no matter where they are on the earth.

It was the DPRK’s goal to focus efforts on economic construction and the improvement of the standard of people’s living by dint of nuclear deterrence for self-defense provided by the great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il all their lives.

The DPRK exercised its maximum self-restraint when the U.S. fabricated the “presidential statement” over its satellite launch for peaceful purposes by abusing the UNSC in April last year.

But the DPRK’s patience reached its limit as the U.S. intensified such hostile act as implementing before anyone else the UNSC’s “resolution on sanctions”, far from apologizing for its renewed wanton violation of the DPRK’s right to satellite launch.

The main objective of the current nuclear test is to express the surging resentment of the army and people of the DPRK at the U.S. brigandish hostile act and demonstrate the will and capability of Songun Korea to defend the sovereignty of the country to the last.

The DPRK’s nuclear test is a just step for self-defense not contradictory to any international law.

The U.S. has long put the DPRK on the list of preemptive nuclear strike.

It is quite natural just measure for self-defense to react to the U.S. ever-increasing nuclear threat with nuclear deterrence.

The DPRK withdrew from the NPT after going through legitimate procedures and chose the way of having access to nuclear deterrence for self-defense to protect the supreme interests of the country.

There have been on the earth more than 2 000 nuclear tests and at least 9 000 satellite launches in the UN history spanning over 60 years but there has never been a UNSC resolution on banning any nuclear test or satellite launch.

It is the U.S. that has conducted more nuclear tests and launched more satellites than any others. It, however, cooked up the UNSC’s “resolution” banning only the DPRK’s nuclear test and satellite launch. This is the breach of international law and the height of double standards.

Had the UNSC been impartial even a bit, it would not have taken issue with a sovereign state’s exercise of the right to self-defense and its scientific and technological activities for peaceful purposes but with the U.S. policy for preemptive nuclear strike, a threat to global peace and security, to begin with. The current nuclear test is the primary countermeasure taken by the DPRK in which it exercised its maximum self-restraint.

If the U.S. takes a hostile approach toward the DPRK to the last, rendering the situation complicated, it will be left with no option but to take the second and third stronger steps in succession.

The inspection of ships and maritime blockade touted by the hostile forces will be regarded as war actions and will invite the DPRK’s merciless retaliatory strikes at their strongholds.

The U.S., though belatedly, should choose between the two options: To respect the DPRK’s right to satellite launch and open a phase of detente and stability or to keep to its wrong road leading to the explosive situation by persistently pursuing its hostile policy toward the DPRK.

In case the U.S. chooses the road of conflict finally, the world will clearly see the army and people of the DPRK defend its dignity and sovereignty to the end through a do-or-die battle between justice and injustice, greet a great revolutionary event for national reunification and win a final victory.” (KCNA, “Spokesman for DPRK Foreign Ministry Urges U.S. to Choose between Two Options,” February 12, 2013)

KCNA: “The scientific field for national defense of the DPRK succeeded in the third underground nuclear test at the site for underground nuclear test in the northern part of the DPRK [today]. The test was carried out as part of practical measures of counteraction to defend the country’s security and sovereignty in the face of the ferocious hostile act of the U.S. which wantonly violated the DPRK’s legitimate right to launch satellite for peaceful purposes. The test was conducted in a safe and perfect way on a high level with the use of a smaller and light A-bomb unlike the previous ones, yet with great explosive power. It was confirmed that the test did not give any adverse effect to the surrounding ecological environment. The specific features of the function and explosive power of the A-bomb and all other measurements fully tallied with the values of the design, physically demonstrating the good performance of the DPRK’s nuclear deterrence that has become diversified. The nuclear test will greatly encourage the army and people of the DPRK in their efforts to build a thriving nation with the same spirit and mettle as displayed in conquering space, and offer an important occasion in ensuring peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the region.” (KCNA, “KCNA Report on Successful 3rd Underground Nuclear Test,” February 12, 2013)

White House statement: “North Korea announced today that it conducted a third nuclear test. This is a highly provocative act that, following its December 12 ballistic missile launch, undermines regional stability, violates North Korea’s obligations under numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions, contravenes its commitments under the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and increases the risk of proliferation. North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs constitute a threat to U.S. national security and to international peace and security. The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and steadfast in our defense commitments to allies in the region.

These provocations do not make North Korea more secure. Far from achieving its stated goal of becoming a strong and prosperous nation, North Korea has instead increasingly isolated and impoverished its people through its ill-advised pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.

The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community. The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies. We will strengthen close coordination with allies and partners and work with our Six-Party partners, the United Nations Security Council, and other UN member states to pursue firm action.” (White House, Statement by the President on North Korean Announcement of a Nuclear Test,” February 12, 2013)

In a phone conversation, President Barack Obama and his South Korean counterpart, President Lee Myung-bak, pledged unswerving unity in coping with North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile threats. “They agreed to work closely together, including at the United Nations Security Council, to seek a range of measures aimed at impeding North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and reducing the risk of proliferation,” the White House said in a press release.

“President Obama unequivocally reaffirmed that the United States remains steadfast in its defense commitments to the Republic of Korea, including the extended deterrence offered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella,” it added. The phone talks between Obama and Lee came as the U.N. Security Council had an one-hour emergency session in New York, in which its members strongly condemned Pyongyang’s behavior. “To address the persistent danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities, the U.N. Security Council must and will deliver a swift, credible, and strong response by way of a Security Council resolution that further impedes the growth of DPRK’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs and its ability to engage in proliferation activities,” U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters after the meeting. (Korea Times, “Obama Vows Nuclear Deterrence for S. Korea,” February 13, 2013) “Nonproliferation may seem to be a doable option to break the current deadlock with North Korea. But it must take substantial risks for political leaders not just to abandon the denuclearization concept but also to talk your own allies and partners into following suit, given saber-rattling and provocations we’ve seen all the while,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. “It’s like you admit the failure of diplomacy, which the international community has prioritized for so long in resolving any confrontation, and end up acceding to demands of a rogue state. I don’t think either Seoul or Washington is ready for that.” (Shin Hyon-hee, “Security Dynamics Take on New Aspect,” Korea Herald, February 13, 2013)

Obama State of the Union: “The regime in North Korea must know that they will only achieve security and prosperity by meeting their international obligations. Provocations of the sort we saw last night will only isolate them further, as we stand by our allies, strengthen our own missile defense, and lead the world in taking firm action in response to these threats. Likewise, the leaders of Iran must recognize that now is the time for a diplomatic solution, because a coalition stands united in demanding that they meet their obligations, and we will do what is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon. At the same time, we will engage Russia to seek further reductions in our nuclear arsenals, and continue leading the global effort to secure nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands — because our ability to influence others depends on our willingness to lead.” (President Obama, State of the Union Address, February 12, 2013)


2/13/13:
President-elect Park Geun-hye named her long-time foreign policy brain Yun Byung-se as foreign minister and former Army general Kim Byung-kwan, who served as deputy commander of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, as her defense minister. (Chang Jae-soon, “Park Names Long-Time Foreign Policy Brain Yun as Foreign Minister,” Yonhap, February 13, 2013)

The Extended Deterrence Policy Committee (EDPC) will convene on February 21 in Washington, its first meeting since the North’s recent nuclear test, to discuss ways to share intelligence to detect early signs of a nuclear attack as well as set the doctrine for pre-emptive measures in case of North Korean provocations, military officials said. ROK Deputy Defense Minister Lim Kwan-bin and Mark Lippert, U.S. assistant defense secretary for Asian and Pacific security affairs, will attend the bilateral meeting. “There will be discussions about how to use intelligence assets of South Korea and the U.S. to detect signs of a North Korean nuclear attack and under what condition the joint force will launch a pre-emptive strike,” a senior ministry official said. (Kim Eun-jung, “S. Korea, U.S. to Discuss N. Korea Nuclear Deterrence Strategy,” Yonhap, February 13, 2013)

South Korea does not have any plans to use the Kaesong industrial complex as a tool to sanction North Korea for detonating its third nuclear device, Seoul’s unification minister Yu Woo-ik said in a meeting with lawmakers on the Unification, Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee. (Yonhap, “Kaesong Industrial Complex Not a Sanction Tool for N.K.: Minister,” February 13, 2013)

In her harshest criticism yet of North Korea, the incoming president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, warned, “No matter how many nuclear tests North Korea conducts to bolster its nuclear capabilities, it will eventually bring itself self-destruction by wasting its resources.” She was quoted by her office as telling a meeting of her national security and foreign affairs advisers, “Nuclear weapons did not prevent the old Soviet Union from collapsing.” During her campaign for her December election, she opposed unconditional aid and economic investments of the sort championed by her liberal rivals, insisting that North Korea must first win the South’s “trust” by easing its hostilities. But she also criticized Lee Myung-bak’s hard-line policy as failing to change North Korea’s behavior. Park shifted to a firmer stance after the nuclear test. She said that a central principle of her North Korea policy has been to “make sure that North Korea pays for its provocations while assuring opportunities and assistance if it chooses to become a responsible member of the international community.” “But if the North pours cold water, it will affect our approach,” she added. “Even if it conducts fourth and fifth nuclear tests, they will do nothing to boost its bargaining position.” The North’s detonation also added urgency to the “Korea Air and Missile Defense” system, which South Korea plans to build to guard itself from North Korea’s short-range ballistic missiles, said Kim Min-seok, a ministry spokesman, during a media briefing. Kim said South Korea had “doubts” about the North’s claim to have successfully tested a “miniaturized and lighter” atomic bomb that could theoretically be used atop missiles. North Korea still needed more time to reach that goal, he said. Ships, airborne sensors and ground-based monitors from North Korea’s neighbors tried to collect air samples that may give them answers to questions surrounding the North Korean blast. Kim said no telltale air samples had been collected as of Wednesday. Experts say it takes two to four days for radioactive gases to leak out from an underground nuclear test. By then, they are harder to detect. In its 2009 test, North Korea plugged its underground testing tunnel so tightly that no radioactive gas escaped. (Choe Sang-hun, “New Leader in South Criticizes North Korea,” New York Times, February 14, 2013, p. A-12)

China is likely to acknowledge North Korea as a de facto nuclear power as the recalcitrant regime now seems to have completed the final stages of developing its own nuclear weapons with its “advanced” test Tuesday, analysts said. “Essentially, now North Korea’s nuclear warheads can reach the United States,” said a Chinese state-controlled CCTV anchorwoman in a live analysis of the event, characterizing it as “an importance milestone” in North Korea’s leverage against Washington. “North Korea has already gone too far now with it nuclear weapons programs. Now, achieving the goal of denuclearization is very difficult,” said Cai Jian, a professor of Korean studies at Shanghai’s Fudan University. “So, now there is a debate in China that we should be realistic with the changed situation and focus our attention on how to manage Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons, instead of preventing it from developing them, which is already a lost cause,” Cai said. Another Chinese analyst with a state-run think tank in Beijing echoed the view. “Look. How many of China’s neighboring countries have nuclear weapons? India has them. Pakistan has them. Russia has them too. So, China doesn’t give too much attention to whether North Korea is a nuclear state or not,” he said on condition of anonymity. “China can accept another neighbor who has nuclear weapons,” he added. The primary reason China strongly opposed the North developing nuclear weapons was because it was concerned about a nuclear domino effect in East Asia. Once North Korea has nuclear weapons, Japan and South Korea may also want to have them. That’s not something China wants to see. Kotani Tetsuo, a security expert with the Japan Institute of International Affairs, thinks the changed environment will spark Japan to think in that direction. “If North Korea successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead to fit intermediate range missiles, it would pose a direct threat to Japan. Meanwhile, Japan is worried about the credibility of the US nuclear umbrella.” South Korea also will be more eager to consider joining the US-led missile defense system too, and that’s something, in turn, that worries China. “This kind of new US military deployment to the Asia-Pacific will then become a threat to China’s security,” said Shi Yinhong, an international relations expert at Renmin University in Beijing. To prevent the situation getting worse, some North Korea experts in China, who were greatly enraged by the nuclear test, have reportedly been calling for “teaching a big lesson to North Korea’s new leader Kim Jong-un,” according to a Chinese scholar. These scholars are trying to influence the Chinese leadership under Xi Jinping so that when he official takes power in March, he will implement a tougher policy to contain North Korea’s behavior. But Cai in Shanghai thinks there won’t likely be a drastic shift in China’s dealing with a nuclear-armed North Korea. “I don’t think Xi Jinping’s North Korean policy will be much different from the past. It’s because, for Beijing, the stability of Pyongyang is a priority. And China also needs the North to counter the US in the region.” (Sunny Lee, “China to Acknowledge N. Korea as a Nuclear State,” Korea Times, February 13, 2013)

According to reports in Foreign Policy magazine and accounts from diplomatic sources, Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, made a proposal early in the meeting for a UNSC resolution on a “swift, credible, and strong” response to prevent North Korea from making further progress with its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The draft text submitted at the meeting described the nuclear test as a “clear threat to international peace and security” and included a recommendation that the resolution be based on Chapter VII of the UN Charter. This chapter would have to be invoked for the resolution to have any real binding force on a member nation. Chapter VII includes Article 41 on non-military action and Article 42 on military action. A resolution referring to Chapter VII is rare due to these two articles, which are binding for member states. The move prompted immediate objections from Chinese deputy ambassador Wang Min, who was attending in lieu of ambassador Li Baodong, who is traveling on official business. Prefacing his remarks by saying that China was sternly opposed to North Korea’s actions, Wang stressed the importance of North Korea’s denuclearization. However, he also argued in favor of resolving the matter through dialogue, saying the nuclear test did not pose a threat to international or regional peace and stability. This has been China’s go-to argument when defending North Korea before the UN. If it accepted the idea of the test as a threat to peace and stability, it would have to accept the calls for firmer sanctions.

Rice responded by reading out a portion of a statement in which North Korea announced its plans to conduct a nuclear test, noting that it described the test as targeting the US. She went on to ask whether China did not construe this as being a threat to international peace. The two countries finally reached a compromise leaving the phrase “clear threat to international peace and security” in the draft but removing the reference to Chapter VII of the UN Charter. (Park Hyun and Park Min-hee, “U.S. and China Butting Heads over North Korea,” Hankyore, February 15, 2013)

An increasing number of pundits say that the nuclear issue should be seen from the perspective of weighing up the North’s needs and creating incentives to stop the Stalinist nation resorting to nuclear weapons. “The North spent billions of dollars for the third test so it risks losing food and fuel aids from international society, a lifeline for the impoverished country. These are significant costs,” said Chang Yong-seok, a researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification affiliated with Seoul National University. “In comparison, it believes that its nuclear capability will provide leverage during talks with the United States as well as protect the country from outside threats. Plus, it helps Kim strengthen his grip on his kingdom. These are the benefits.” “Sanctions including exerting a financial squeeze or maritime interdictions are all about increasing the costs of the nuclear program. But these will have limited effects without the proactive participation of China,” Chang said. “And China is unlikely to drastically cut its aid to the North in consideration of the country’s strategic and geographic significance. Well aware of China’s dilemma, North Korea is betting China will not miss its buffer against the U.S.” Some even say that North Korea is already ready for the worst-case scenario under which China could withdraw all its assistance. “In the wake of the Banco of Delta Asia (BDA) case, the North appears to have prepared for the possibility of China turning its back,” said Prof. Yang Moo-jin at the University of North Korean Studies. “The North would face a big blow in the event of China stopping all assistance. But the shockwave would not be strong enough to shake the stability of the regime. It would be a hard pill to swallow but the North does not live in fear of it.” In a nutshell, many watchers think that the “carrot” is better than the “stick” when dealing with the nuclear issue as amply demonstrated by the fact that past UNSC sanctions failed to deter the North from accelerating its development of missiles or nuclear weapons. “South Korea and the United States maintain the overwhelming dominance in conventional weapons. Fears about this imbalance are a key reason that prompts Pyongyang to stick to its nuclear project,” Yang said. “Curtailment of conventional weapons in any form would be a good example of shrinking any benefits gained by the North testing a nuclear bomb or conducting a rocket test.” He added that the easing of tensions on the Korean Peninsula would undercut the position of hawkish military elites, thus eliminating incentives to continue weapons development. The worst tactic would be that both the international community and the North would adopt tit-for-tat strategies so that the two sides end up playing a game of chicken,” he said. “Eventually, Seoul would have to engage with Pyongyang in talks.” Others contend that the South can reduce the attractiveness of nuclear warheads for the North by making the latter engage on economic issues so that its Swiss-educated new leader becomes willing to focus on economic reform rather than take a path similar to those pursued by his grandfather and father. In a conference late last month, Prof. Kim Byung-yeon of Seoul National University branded such efforts as “globalizing the North Korean economy,” an initiative that the current government failed to achieve. Lee depended on the “stick” rather than the “carrot,” which observers say proved not to be very successful. President-elect Park Geun-hye is expected to take a more proactive approach. Although she has yet to disclose details of her administration’s North Korea policies, she promised to resume humanitarian aid and establish trust on the Korean Peninsula. In the wake of the nuclear test, however, she raised concerns whether such an approach is viable. Paik Hak-soon at Sejong Institute said that Park should not repeat the mistakes of her predecessor. “The Park administration will have to join the collective force of the international society to punish North Korea. At the same time, she has to make efforts to start inter-Korean talks,” Paik said. “It will not be easy. But without such a flexible, two-track initiative, she will follow in the footsteps of President Lee, whose North Korean polices simply fell apart.” (Kim Tae-gyu, “Carrot-and-Stick Policy Necessary for N.K.,” Korea Times, February 13, 2013)

Shen Dengli: “Over the last two months, Beijing has conveyed its concerns to North Korea about conducting a nuclear test. Yet on Feb. 12, China’s neighbor detonated its third nuclear weapon — smaller and more powerful than the two that preceded it. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said China was “strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed” to the test, but, as with North Korea’s bad behavior in the past, will likely not follow with tougher action. … And what thanks does China get in return? Lies, insults, and provocations. On Jan. 22, after the U.N. Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2087 as a response to Pyongyang’s December “satellite” launch, North Korea responded by announcing that the six-party talks over its nuclear program have ceased to exist. Since 2003, China has worked hard to bring North Korea to those talks, asking for it to commit to nuclear abandonment while assuring it with development and security aid. China tried to water down the sanctions; instead of being grateful, Pyongyang hinted that some major powers had been manipulated by the United States. North Korea’s threatening behavior, meanwhile, has made the region less stable. By firing artillery at South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island in 2010, killing four people, North Korea has pushed the envelope too far, undermining China’s interests in keeping Northeast Asia stable. And now, this third nuclear test not only discredits Chinese diplomacy, but also provides a ready excuse for the United States to expand its military presence in the region. In his State of the Union address Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama vowed to boost America’s missile-defense efforts in Asia — U.S. technology that China doesn’t welcome. Let’s face it: China has reached a point where it needs to cut its losses and cut North Korea loose. But how? China can’t force North Korea to change its behavior simply by political means. North Korea is one of the most isolated states in the world, and its independence is a point of pride. While the regime survives due to its extraordinary resilience, China’s economic help is an extremely important external source of sustenance. China’s trade with North Korea rose to $3.1 billion in the first half of 2012, a rise of 24.7 percent; the 2011 trade figures of $5.7 billion represent a 62.4-percent gain over 2010. Beijing has also provided Pyongyang with aid in the form of energy, fertilizer, and other assistance. So, what is to be done? Through the Security Council, China should vote for tougher sanctions, while at the same time reducing aid and trade with its erstwhile ally. By acting multilaterally to curb North Korea, China could also strengthen its nonproliferation partnership with the United States and other countries in the region, fostering a more balanced U.S. Asian policy. China is dedicated to peace in East Asia. By pursuing its own national interest, China has also provided regional public goods, and has prevented a humanitarian disaster in North Korea. But Pyongyang’s search for an independent deterrent indicates that it doesn’t wish to put its security in Beijing’s hands. So why should China continue to prop up this embarrassing maverick? The loss of this “ally” would be little felt in Beijing. China’s view of its security interests has been much broadened over the last few decades, and with relations with Taiwan fast improving, North Korea’s value as a security buffer has much diminished. And in an age where global public opinion matters more than ever, the benefits of association with Pyongyang’s mistaken line outweigh the costs. (Shen Dengli, “Lips and Teeth,” Foreign Policy, February 13, 2013)


2/14/13:
Nuclear armament has been a taboo issue in South Korea but North Korea’s third nuclear test is prodding a debate among politicians. For now, calls for going head-to-head with Pyongyang have yet to reach the national narrative but the government may soon find itself having to respond to doubts about its ability to protect South Koreans against the North’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems. “At a time when the North is moving toward nuclear armament, we cannot sit idle against the mounting threat,” Rep. Won Yoo-chul of the governing Saenuri Party said in a telephone interview with The Korea Times, Thursday. “Under the condition that we will immediately scrap them if the North gives up its nuclear program, we need to develop our own nuclear weapons. It is not desirable to cause political tension but we must have the power to defend ourselves.”

Rep. Chung Mong-joon, also of the conservative party, was more emphatic about the need to acquire nuclear arms. “A gangster in the neighborhood snaps up a brand-new machine gun and it is absurd for us to try and defend our home with a pebble,” the seven-term lawmaker, who once headed the ruling party, said. “We are required to persuade the United States with such a rationale.” Saenuri Party Chairman Hwang Woo-yea and Rep. Shim Jae-chul, a member of the party’s Supreme Council, also agreed. Park Jie-won, a former floor leader of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), made his objections clear. “It is absurd,” Park said during a radio talk show about the idea of nuclear armament. “It would be the first step to turning the region into a warehouse for nuclear weapons.” (Kim Tae-gyu, “An Itch to Go Nuclear,” Korea Times, February 14, 2013)

The Defense Ministry responded to North Korea’s recent nuclear test by unveiling ship-to-shore and submarine-to-ground cruise missiles that have already been deployed warfare-ready. Dubbed the Haeseong-2 and Haeseong-3, respectively, the missiles have been developed with South Korea’s own technology. They are both modified versions of a surface-to-surface cruise missile unveiled last year but are designed to be launched from a ship or a submarine. Their maximum range of 1,000 km covers all of North Korea. The Haeseong-3 is a strategic weapon capable of being launched from a submarine that can stealthily approach the North Korean coast. The missiles are said to be so accurate that they can hit a window-size target of 1-3 square miles, and powerful enough to pulverize a soccer field-size area to rubble. The Haeseong-3 will be carried by a new Type 214 submarine, and the Haeseong-2 on a 4,500 ton-class Korean Destroyer (KD) vessel or a 7,600 ton-class Aegis destroyer. The Haeseong-3 is subsonic and takes about 20 minutes to fly up to 1,000 km. It would be launched from the torpedo tube of a submarine in a waterproof capsule. The Haeseong-2 would be fired from a vertical launch tube. The King Sejong the Great Aegis destroyer carries 32 Haeseong-2s. (Chosun Ilbo, “S. Korea Unveils Homegrown Cruise Missiles,” February 15, 2013)

South Korea staged large military drills and disclosed a new cruise missile capable of hitting any target in North Korea, just days after the North said it detonated its third nuclear device and as Pyongyang became increasingly candid about its intentions to build intercontinental ballistic missiles tipped with nuclear warheads. “We no longer hide but publicly declare: If the imperialists have nuclear weapons, we must have them, and if they have intercontinental ballistic missiles, we must have them, too,” Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary published today. “Anger seeks weapons.” Although blustering is a common propaganda tactic for North Korea, its increasingly public boasting comes amid growing concerns that the country is moving closer to building workable long-range nuclear missiles. If unchecked, American officials fear, the North’s drive will embolden Iran to pursue its own nuclear ambitions despite stiff sanctions. “It’s important for the world to have credibility with respect to our nonproliferation efforts,” Secretary of State John Kerry said on yesterday in urging the world to make a “swift, clear, strong and credible response” to the North’s third nuclear test. “What our response is with respect to this will have an impact on all other nonproliferation efforts.” South Korea’s reaction has been a rapid attempt to show North Korea its own military strength. The South’s political parties put aside their bickering over domestic politics and passed nearly unanimously a parliamentary resolution condemning the North’s nuclear test. Its navy deployed destroyers and submarines off its eastern coast to test their combat readiness. South Korea started a similar naval drill off the western coast yesterday and planned tomorrow to begin live-fire drills involving rockets and artillery near the land border with North Korea. The American military, which keeps 28,500 troops in South Korea, was staging an air drill mobilizing jet fighters of the two allies. Also today, the South’s Defense Ministry offered a rare glimpse of its military abilities by releasing a 50-second video clip that showed two cruise missiles blasting targets after they were launched by a South Korean submarine and destroyer. It was the first time the South Korean military had publicly disclosed the recently deployed missiles, believed to have a range of 620 miles, and it did so with a bravado that reflected the tension on the divided peninsula after the North Korean test. “Our cruise missile shown today is a precision-guided weapon so accurate that it can be directed to smash through the window of a North Korean command post from anywhere on the Korean Peninsula,” Kim Min-seok, a ministry spokesman, said during a news briefing. On the same day, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin of South Korea visited his military’s rocket command, as well as its Agency for Defense Development, which is in charge of developing ballistic missiles able to reach any target in the North. “North Korea as a whole is a hopeless rogue state, and it will continue to launch provocations,” Kim was quoted as saying by Yonhap during his visit to the rocket command. (Choe Sang-hun, “South Korea Shows Military Muscle in Sparring with the North,” New York Times, February 15, 2013, p. A- )

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo and President Barack Obama agreed to seek the early adoption of a new U.N. Security Council resolution to impose tougher sanctions over a nuclear test North Korea conducted earlier this week, government officials said. The two leaders talked over the phone for about 20 minutes in their first conversation since Abe launched his second Cabinet in December. (Yomiuri Shimbun, “Abe, Obama Share Stance on N. Korea; 2 Leaders Seek Tough UNSC Resolution,” February 15, 2013)

“Mr. MENENDEZ (for himself, Mr. CORKER, Mr. CARDIN, Mr. RUBIO, Mrs. FEINSTEIN, Mrs. BOXER, Mr. INHOFE, and Mr. DONNELLY) introduced the following bill … It is the sense of Congress that (1) the test of a nuclear device by the Government of North Korea on February 12, 2013, and the missile launch of December 12, 2012, represent flagrant violations of the sanctions regime created by United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1695 (2006), 1718 (2006), and 1874 (2009), the test of the nuclear device on February 12, 2013, is a clear, deliberate, and provocative violation of United Nations Security Resolution 2087 (2013), and the Government of North Korea continues to defy the United Nations, its Six-Party partners, and the international community; (2) all Member States of the United Nations should immediately implement and enforce sanctions imposed by these resolutions and censure North Korea; (3) the Government of North Korea should abandon and dismantle its provocative ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, cease its proliferation activities, and come into immediate compliance with all United Nations Security Council resolutions and its commitments under the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks; (4) restrictions against the Government of North Korea, including sanctions that ban the importation into the United States of unlicensed North Korean products and goods, should remain in effect until the Government of North Korea no longer engages in activities that threaten the United States, our allies and partners, and global peace and stability; (5) the United States Government should seek a new round of United Nations Security Council sanctions, including the public identification of all North Korean and foreign banks, business, and government agencies suspected of conduct that violates United Nations Security Council resolutions, and implementing necessary measures to ensure enforcement of such sanctions; (6) all United Nations Member States should (A) further strengthen efforts to prevent the transfer of military and dual-use technologies to North Korea, including an expansion of the list of sanctioned materials identified by the United Nations Panel of Experts on North Korea sanctions and the items on the Nuclear Suppliers Group lists; (B) exercise enhanced vigilance including monitoring the activities of their nationals, persons in their territories, financial institutions, and other entities with or on behalf of financial institutions in North Korea, or of those that act on behalf or at the direction of financial institutions in North Korea, including their branches, representatives, agents, and subsidiaries abroad; and (C) prevent transshipments that relate to North Korean military, missile, and nuclear programs and proliferation activities; (7) the United States Government should explore all appropriate measures for enhanced military operations by the United States Armed Forces appropriate measures by the United States Armed Forces in the Asia-Pacific region, including in partnership with the armed forces of others countries in the region, to safeguard the national interests, security, and livelihood of the United States and its people, as well as those of United States allies and partners in the region; and (8) the United States Government, acting through its appropriate diplomatic representatives, should secure the agreement of the United Nations Human Rights Council and General Assembly to adopt the recommendations made in the February 1, 2013, report of Marzuki Darusman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, that an inquiry mechanism should be established to investigate North Korea’s ”grave, widespread and systematic violations of human rights,” as well as to analyze whether crimes against humanity are being perpetrated in North Korea.

SEC. 4. REPORT.

Not later than May 15, 2013, the Secretary of State shall conduct, coordinate, and submit to Congress a comprehensive report on United States policy towards North Korea based on a full and complete interagency review of current policy and possible alternatives, including North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and missile programs and human rights atrocities. The report shall include recommendations for such legislative or administrative action as the Secretary considers appropriate in light of the results of the review.” (S.Res. introduced February 14, 2013)

North Korea warned it can acquire intercontinental ballistic missiles to counter hostile forces and bolster its self-defense capabilities. The political review carried by Rodong Sinmun, said if “imperialists” have a nuclear arsenal, ICBMs and other types of space-bound weapons, North Korea should have them as well. (Yonhap, “N. Korea Threatens to Acquire ICBMs to Bolster Self-Defense,” North Korea Newsletter, No. 250, February 21, 2013)

David Albright: “So far, North Korea has not overtly deployed Nodong missiles with nuclear warheads. There appears to be no public evidence of covert deployments of such missiles. However, the lack of any deployment of nuclear-tipped Nodong missiles does not mean North Korea cannot do so. At ISIS, we have assessed for some time that North Korea likely has the capability to mount a plutonium-based nuclear warhead on the shorter range Nodong missile, which has a range of about 800 miles, and that Pyongyang still lacks the ability to deploy a warhead on an ICBM, although it shows progress at this effort. North Korea would need to conduct missile flight tests with a re-entry vehicle and mock warhead, increase the explosive yield of the warhead (possibly requiring its further miniaturization), and improve the operational reliability of the warhead and missile. Accurately assessing North Korea’s progress in building deliverable nuclear weapons is never easy since it is intensely secretive and U.S. intelligence gathering capabilities are limited. The North often publicly exaggerates its capabilities to boost its perceived nuclear deterrent. Analysts are left to try to draw conclusions based on partial information, and as a result, there are notable differences on most nuclear weapons issues. The miniaturization debate is no different. Analysts of all opinions are unable to know the true situation and can assess only the estimated state of North Korea’s progress. The U.S. intelligence community has also not been of one opinion on the issue of North Korea’s ability to miniaturize and deploy a warhead on a missile. According to a U.S. official, key members of the U.S. intelligence community have for many years given North Korea credit for being able to produce missile-deliverable nuclear weapons. However, the official said that this conclusion is based on an assessment and not concrete evidence of such a capability. … One reason that North Korea can likely miniaturize its warheads by now has to do with the sheer duration of its nuclear weapons program. North Korea’s weaponization work can be traced back to the 1980s.In those early years, China may have provided assistance in terms of nuclear weapons data and designs. Until the mid-to-late 1980s, China was not opposed to nuclear proliferation. In the early 1980s, it provided Pakistan with 50 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium and a nuclear warhead design. An early indication of North Korea’s work on nuclear weapons was the existence of a high explosive test site abutting the north end of the Yongbyon site suspected to be related to the development of nuclear weapons. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the North was known to have conducted high explosives tests at this site. … Media reports, based on other countries’ overhead imagery, stated North Korea had conducted about 70 high explosive tests. In 1992, soon after North Korea signed its safeguards agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sought to take samples at this site to determine whether uranium had been used in any of the high explosive tests, an indicator of nuclear weapons-related development. North Korea allowed a visit to the site but denied the inspectors’ request to take samples. The issue was left unresolved. After the U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework was signed in 1994, the media reported that, based on information from U.S. officials, the North continued testing high explosives at another site, apparently as part of on-going nuclear weapons development. After the demise of the Agreed Framework in late 2002, North Korean statements and actions indicated it was working on developing and possibly building nuclear weapons. In the early 1990s, the CIA estimated that North Korea had a first-generation implosion design based on plutonium that was likely to be deployed on the Nodong missile, which North Korea was developing at the time and first flight tested in 1993. … The experiences of Pakistan and Iran provide another indication that North Korea likely has achieved the necessary miniaturization for the Nodong. The warhead design China gave Pakistan in the early 1980s had a diameter of about 0.8 meters, according to nuclear weapons experts who examined the design. The warhead was reportedly a solid core design containing about 25 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium. Starting from the Chinese supplied nuclear weapons design, Pakistani scientists miniaturized the design further in the 1980s. By 1990, Pakistan had developed “levitated” designs that compress the nuclear core more efficiently than a crude core design. This innovation allowed for a significantly smaller, lighter weapon. Pakistan’s ultimate design fit on its Ghauri missile, which Pakistan initially acquired from North Korea and then modified and produced itself. This warhead reportedly had a diameter of about 0.6 meters. By 1998, when Pakistan conducted its first underground nuclear tests, it had reportedly already developed a miniaturized warhead for the Ghauri missile. In the early 2000s, according to an IAEA internal report: “Iran may have developed an effective high explosive implosion system, which could be contained within a payload container believed to be small enough to fit into the re-entry body chamber of the Shahab 3 missile. Overall the [IAEA] does not believe that Iran has yet achieved the means of integrating a nuclear payload into the Shahab 3 missile with any confidence that it would work. Nonetheless, with further effort it is likely that Iran will overcome problems and confidence will be built up.” Based on information assembled and assessed by the IAEA, Iran was working on a warhead in the early 2000s that had a diameter of 0.55 meters, small enough for the Shahab 3 missile. North Korea and Iran have had extensive missile cooperation; the Shahab 3 is also based on the Nodong missile. Pakistan achieved miniaturization for the Ghauri missile within ten years; Iran reportedly focused on developing a warhead small enough for the Shahab 3 missile early in its nuclear weaponization program. The Ghauri and Shahab 3 were close copies of the Nodong missile. North Korea could reasonably be expected to have made the same priority of building a warhead to fit its Nodong missile and made progress in a comparable time frame to Pakistan. Given that North Korea started at least 20 years ago working on a warhead for the Nodong missile, it is likely that it finished developing one able to fit on the Nodong in the early to mid-2000s. Following North Korea providing Pakistan with the Ghauri missile, A.Q. Khan and his colleagues at the Khan Research Laboratories transferred centrifuges and centrifuge-related equipment and materials to North Korea. Each side gained considerable knowledge of the other’s secret nuclear programs. In his 2004 confession to the Pakistani government, following the busting of his network, Khan stated that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program was more advanced than Pakistan’s. He wrote in his confession that North Korea showed him and his colleague Dr. Mizra the “perfect nuclear weapons, technologically more advanced than ours.” Khan also stated that North Korea taught Pakistan how to make krytrons, or fast switches, used in initiating the detonation of a nuclear weapon. Krytrons can be difficult to either make or procure abroad. So, this transfer would have been valuable to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons effort. Khan’s description of North Korea’s nuclear weapons prowess may have been intended to head off accusations of sharing nuclear weapons information with Pyongyang, a charge many believe to be true. Nonetheless, his statement confirms that North Korea had an active nuclear weapons program in the 1990s, and it supports that Pakistan and North Korea shared information about their nuclear weapons programs, although the extent of sharing cannot be determined conclusively. They likely shared the priority of developing nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.” (David Albright, “North Korean Miniaturization,” 38North, February 13, 2013)

Nick Hansen: “Commercial satellite imagery through January 2103 confirms activity at the old launch pad, possibly to modify it in preparation for an upcoming test of a liquid-fueled rocket. While it would be premature to reach that conclusion without more recent imagery, press reports have speculated that the DPRK is planning to conduct the first launch of the Musudan intermediate-range or the KN-08 long-range rocket, both mobile missiles. An additional possibility is another launch of an Unha rocket.” (Nick Hansen, “New Developments at the Tonghae Rocket Test Site,” 38North, February 14, 2013)


2/15/13:
North Korea has told its key ally, China, that it is prepared to stage one or even two more nuclear tests this year in an effort to force the United States into diplomatic talks with Pyongyang, said a source with direct knowledge of the message. Further tests could also be accompanied this year by another rocket launch, said the source who has direct access to the top levels of government in both Beijing and Pyongyang. “It’s all ready. A fourth and fifth nuclear test and a rocket launch could be conducted soon, possibly this year,” the source said, adding that the fourth nuclear test would be much larger than the third at an equivalent of 10 kilotons of TNT. The tests will be undertaken, the source said, unless Washington holds talks with North Korea and abandons its policy of what Pyongyang sees as attempts at regime change. (Benjamin Kang Lim, “North Korea Tells China of Preparations for Fresh Nuclear Test,” Reuters, February 15, 2013)

South Korea is trying to convince the U.N. Security Council to punish North Korea for conducting its third nuclear test with a new resolution that would include a clause for enforcement of sanctions by military means, a senior Seoul diplomat said. Articles 41 and 42 of Chapter 7 of the U.N. Charter allow all U.N. members to enforce sanctions by military means, theoretically enabling their navy ships to intercept and board North Korean vessels suspected of carrying illicit weapons or nuclear or missile components. “Our basic target is to persuade the Security Council members to adopt a resolution including Chapter 7 against North Korea,” said the diplomat, who has direct knowledge with the ongoing U.N. debate over the North’s nuclear test. “The reason is that any sanctions against North Korea would be effective only if Chapter 7 is included in a resolution,” the diplomat said. (Yonhap, “S. Korea Seeks U.N. Resolution with Military Means against N. Korea,” February 15, 2013)

In response to calls for bringing back tactical nuclear weapons to the nation, defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said such an option is not on the table. “The most important task is to make North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons. The ministry does not review whether or not to deploy (U.S.) strategic nuclear weapons at this moment,” Kim said in a briefing. “We still maintain denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.” (Yonhap, “Defense Ministry Dismisses Hawkish Calls for Nuclear Armament,” February 15, 2013)

Senior U.S. administration officials held secret talks in North Korea on at least three occasions in 2011 and 2012, Asahi Shimbun has learned. Although the visits had potential implications for Japan, Washington did not inform its security partner at the time and only informally confirmed one of them when the Japanese side pressed, government and other sources in Japan, South Korea and the United States said. The State Department even warned the Foreign Ministry against making further inquiries, saying they would harm bilateral relations, the sources said. U.S. military planes flew from an air base in Guam to Pyongyang and back on April 7, 2012, and again on a longer visit lasting from Aug. 18-20, the sources said. It is believed that those aboard included Sydney Seiler, director for Korea at the U.S. National Security Council, and Joseph DeTrani, who headed the North Korea desk at the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence. DeTrani left the post in May. They met with North Korean officials and discussed policies following the death of leader Kim Jong Il in December 2011. The North Korean delegation included Jang Song Thaek, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission and husband of Kim Jong Il’s sister. The Japanese government only learned about the flights after receiving reports from hobbyists monitoring activity at military bases and also analyzing air traffic flight plans. When the Japanese side submitted an official inquiry, U.S. officials expressed frustration that the request had been made, citing the subject’s confidential nature. The third visit that The Asahi Shimbun has confirmed is one that took place in November 2011. Sources said at least one military aircraft from the Guam air base loaded heavy equipment, including bulldozers, at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo and flew to Pyongyang. It is believed that the delegation included officials from the U.S. Pacific Command. They met with North Korean officials and discussed efforts to recover the remains of U.S. soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War, the sources said. When Japan inquired about this visit, U.S. officials unofficially confirmed that it had taken place, the sources said. (Makino Yoshihiro, “Left in the Dark: Secret U.S. Military Flights Carried Officials, Equipment to N. Korea,” Asahi Shimbun, February 15, 2013)


2/15/13:
Kim Kwang-jin says that when he worked for North Korea’s state insurance company in Singapore in 2003, he stuffed $20 million into two suitcases one day and sent it to Pyongyang as a special gift for then leader Kim Jong-il. He received a medal for that, Kim Kwang-jin said. Kim Kwang-jin, now living as a defector in South Korea, said the $20 million sent to Kim Jong-il in 2003 came from insurance scams by Pyongyang’s Korea National Insurance Corp (KNIC), which exaggerated claims from re-insurers and underwriters for events such as weather damage, ship and aircraft losses. When contacted by Reuters by telephone and email, KNIC was not immediately available for comment. Kim Kwang-jin said the money from the scams he participated in was funneled into what he termed North Korea’s “royal court fund” — money for Kim Jong-il and his inner circle. “Kim Jong-il sent a letter of thanks to the people in my company (KNIC). And some of us received presents like DVD players and blankets. I later got a medal too,” said the 46-year-old. North Korea, sanctioned by the United States since the 1950s and later by the United Nations after its nuclear tests, has been shuffling money for decades from illicit drugs, arms and financial scams and is now more expert at hiding it to fund its weapons programs and its leaders’ opulent lifestyles. “There is tremendous difficulty identifying bank accounts,” said a South Korean government source who is directly involved in yet another sanctions push in the U.N. Security Council after the North conducted a third nuclear test this week. A source who has access to the top levels of government in both North Korea and China, its only major ally, told Reuters that Pyongyang was not afraid of sanctions and was considering two more nuclear tests and a rocket launch this year. “It is confident agricultural and economic reforms will boost grain harvests this year, reducing its food reliance on China,” said the source. In 2005, $25 million of the regime’s cash was frozen at Macau-based Banco Delta Asia, which was designated a “primary money laundering concern” by the U.S. Treasury. Pyongyang has learned from that episode and buried its funds even deeper, said the South Korean official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The bank accounts are split up a lot,” the official said, meaning the money is divided into small amounts so that a freeze on one account would not greatly affect the total. The official has tried to identify North Korean funds for years and was involved in previous sanctions pushes, although he said that identifying accounts and transactions was near impossible because of the use of fake names. North Korea often uses its diplomats and other officials to ferry cash, according to Kim and other defectors and diplomats. This method, called “bulk cash”, is largely untraceable. U.S. diplomats said new sanctions against North Korea that the Security Council might consider could be to add more names to a U.N. blacklist and measures similar to those in place for Iran, which include a U.N. arms embargo, a variety of asset freezes and a ban on some banking relations. In addition, “you can strengthen the provisions to do with enforcing embargoes, inspecting ships”, said a senior U.N. diplomat. Another area where U.N. sanctions could be strengthened is enforcement, especially in China, diplomats say. U.N. experts who monitor sanctions violations have said Pyongyang regularly flouts the sanctions, sometimes by shipping banned goods such as weapons via China. “If the Chinese would be willing to inspect half of what goes through Dalian harbor, that would be big,” said George Lopez, a former U.N. North Korea sanctions monitor, now at the University of Notre Dame. In January, the Security Council added a raft of companies to a list of sanctioned entities in response to North Korea’s long-range rocket launch late last year, which violated a ban on Pyongyang from developing missile or nuclear technology. These included a company called Leader (Hong Kong) International, listed with a Hong Kong address that was named as a subsidiary of Korea Mining Development Corp., the country’s main arms dealer and exporter of ballistic missile technology, according to the U.S. Treasury. Checks by Reuters journalists at multiple addresses associated with the company in China and Hong Kong turned up no direct trace of the company or its managers. Corporate records show the Hong Kong address for a similarly named company, Leader (Hong Kong) International Trading Ltd, as the same as that listed in the U.N. report, although the office moved in 2007. A Chinese public security branch office is situated at an address listed for that company’s director in Dalian, about 300 km (185 miles) from the North Korean border. “Companies and individuals are using different names. China may know, but wink at it,” Kim, the defector, said. (Jack Kim and Louis Charbonneau, “North Korea Uses Cash Couriers, False Names to Outwit Sanctions,” Reuters, February 15, 2013)


2/16/13:
A “source close to the Asia team in the first term” provides authoritative guidance on how the Administration sees it: “The Obama Administration has never had an ideological problem with talking to the North Koreans — directly or multilaterally — and has been pushing without success since early 2009 for authentic and credible negotiations. The problem has been North Korea’s unwillingness to negotiate over its nuclear program, let alone to provide anyone with reason to believe that it will abide by any commitment it makes. The purpose of the Feb 29 understanding last year was to put in place a moratorium that would open the door to negotiations — but the North immediately blew that up. So: The North refuses to press the pause button on its nuclear and missile development during talks; The North refuses to discuss its nuclear or missile programs, let alone negotiate steps to roll back and eliminate them; The North sets as its predicate that denuclearization and its prior commitments are moot and that the only issue for discussion is actions by the US to make amends for UNSC resolutions, hostile policy, sanctions, etc. The record of its approach to 6PT with Chris Hill shows that Pyongyang was running a clandestine uranium enrichment program while it sold the cooling tower of its obsolete plutonium program for a profit — no one wants to get diddled that way again. It doesn’t sound like ‘diplomatic talks’ are penicillin here. We are and should be pushing for real negotiations. Here’s what you should remember: One: WMD are only useful to North Korea as leverage to extort resources, not as weapons. (The deterrence angle doesn’t really mean much — after all, there’s a reason no one used military force to destroy the DPRK in the decades since the Armistice). Two: North Korea requires significant inputs of food, fuel, fertilizer, foreign currency, and other things, merely to survive. Right now, due to sanctions and tight US-ROK-Japan policy coordination, NK is on a Chinese IV drip that doesn’t have much sucrose in it anymore. Therefore, three: If their current escalation play is unsuccessful and the world doesn’t capitulate to North Korea’s terms (like the Onion described), regime survival increasingly points to the one way out — to negotiate terms for stopping, rolling back, and relinquishing its nuclear and missile programs. Obama will be ready.” (The Nelson Report, February 16, 2013)


2/17/13:
President-elect Park Guen-hye nominated Universityof North Korean Studies professor Ryoo Kihl-jae to be Minister of Unification. Before joining the University of North Korean Studies, Ryoo was dean of Kyungnam University’s Graduate School of North Korean Studies. He studied political science at Korea University. Ryoo, a 53-year-old from Seoul, had been considered as an academic to be involved in Park’s Blue House or government as he had played a role in planning the president-elect’s policies on North Korea along with others, including Foreign Ministry nominee Yun Byung-se, head of the transition team’s foreign affairs, security and unification subcommittee. “He is an expert who has been researching North Korean issues for nearly 30 years,” Kim, head of the transition team, told reporters yesterday in a press briefing. “He has approached North Korean policy issues from a rational and balanced point of view.” (Lee Eun-joo “Park Completes Cabinet Nominations,” Korea Herald, February 17, 2013)

Beds shook and teacups clattered in this town bordering North Korea, less than 100 miles from the site where the North said it detonated a nuclear test that exploded midmorning in the midst of Chinese New Year festivities. “I’m worried about radiation,” said a 26-year-old woman as she served customers in a bookstore here. “My family lives in the mountains close to the border. They felt the bed shake on the day of the test. I have no idea whether it is safe or not, though the government says it is.” The fact that North Korea detonated the device on a special Chinese holiday did not sit well, either. Among Chinese officials, the mood toward the young North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, has also darkened. The Chinese government is reported by analysts to be wrestling with what to do about a man who, in power for a little more than a year, thumbed his nose at China by ignoring its appeals not to conduct the country’s third nuclear test, and who shows no gratitude for China’s largess as the main supplier of oil and food. “The public does not want China to be the only friend of an evil regime, and we’re not even recognized by North Korea as a friend,” said Jin Qiangyi, director of the Center for North and South Korea Studies at Yanbian University in Yanji City. “For the first time, the Chinese government has felt the pressure of public opinion not to be too friendly with North Korea.” In the aftermath of the test, a prominent Chinese political scientist with a penchant for provocative ideas, Shen Dingli at Fudan University in Shanghai, wrote in Foreign Policy that it was time for China “to cut its losses and cut North Korea loose.” If China decides to go along with the United States’ calls for much more stringent sanctions than exist now, there are fears among China’s policy makers that the North’s government would collapse, possibly setting the stage for mayhem on the border and a reunification of Korea as an American ally. But if China maintains the status quo, it could face mounting criticism among its own citizens. If it decided to take a harder stance, China could punish North Korea by curtailing its oil shipments, by far the major source of fuel in the energy-starved North, Jin said. The oil is piped from Dandong, southwest of here. China charges North Korea the highest price of any country to which it exports oil, said Peter Hayes, executive director of the Nautilus Institute, a San Francisco-based policy group that specializes in North Korea. Despite the cost, those fuel shipments are considered essential to the government’s survival, even as they possibly create resentment in the North against its patron. Another option for China would be to cut the trade of its own businessmen, many of whom have become disillusioned by the tough deals that North Korea imposes, including demanding that Chinese enterprises in the North build their own roads and supply their own electricity. Despite the lull in activity, cross-border legal and illegal trade amounts to about $10 billion a year, said Jin, the policy expert on the North at the university here. The National Bureau of Statistics estimated that in the overall Chinese economy, the cross-border trade with North Korea was so small it was not a factor, he said. The trade’s importance is based, instead, on its contribution to the stability of the North’s leadership, which not only relies on Chinese investment, but also often turns a blind eye to unauthorized shipments of food and other goods to help keep its suffering people from considering revolt. “China’s options have reached an impasse,” said Jin. “For now China chooses to maintain the situation in North Korea, not because it wants to prop up an evil regime but because it doesn’t see another choice.” (Jane Perlez, “Some Chinese Are Souring on Being North Korea’s Best Friend,” New York Times, February 17, 2013, p. 8)


2/18/13:
The European Union imposed trade and economic sanctions on North Korea while condemning “in the strongest terms” the nation’s latest nuclear test. The 27 EU finance ministers’ action brings the number of North Koreans subject to a travel ban and an asset freeze to 26, and the number of sanctioned companies to 33. The ministers also banned the export of components for ballistic missiles, such as certain types of aluminum, and prohibited trade in new public bonds from North Korea. (Associated Press, “European Union Sanctions North Korea,” February 18, 2013)


2/19/13:
North Korea followed up its nuclear test last week with threats aimed at its southern enemy during a UN conference on disarmament in Geneva. “As the saying goes a new born puppy knows no fear of a tiger,” said North Korean diplomat Jon Yong Ryong to the meeting. “South Korea’s erratic behavior would only herald its final destruction.” He avoided specifically mentioning the nuclear test, instead referring to a “resolute step for self-defense.” “If the US takes a hostile approach toward the DPRK to the last, rendering the situation complicated, it [North Korea] will be left with no option but to take the second and third stronger steps in succession,” he said. Ambassador Laura Kennedy, the U.S. permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament, strongly condemned North Korea’s statement. “I also was particularly struck by the phrase ‘heralding the destruction of the Republic of Korea’ and find that language incredibly inconsistent with the goals and objectives that this body is intended to pursue,” she said. (Gabrielle Levy, “N. Korea Threatens ‘Final Destruction’ of South Korea,” UPI, February 19, 2013)

President-elect Park Geun-hye named her long-time right-hand man Lee Jung-hyun as senior presidential secretary for political affairs and former career diplomat Ju Chul-ki as senior secretary for foreign affairs and national security, a spokesman said. Ju, 67, is a former veteran diplomat with more than three decades of experience that includes ambassador to France, UNESCO and Morocco, and deputy ambassador at South Korea’s mission to the U.N. office in Geneva. (Yonhap, “Park Names Ex-Career Diplomat as Senior Foreign Affairs Secretary,” February 19, 2013)

President-elect Park Geun-hye has completed her foreign and security policy lineup led by moderate conservatives who emphasize a realistic balance between dialogue and pressure in dealing with North Korea. The team led by top presidential security aide Kim Jang-soo has pressed for a major policy shift to normalize inter-Korean ties after five years of chill under incumbent President Lee Myung-bak. The Park team’s new approach promises more flexibility calling for openness and accommodation with the North while maintaining robust deterrence. But Pyongyang’s renewed nuclear brinkmanship is already narrowing their policy options and threatening to derail the reengagement policy. Experts widely expect lingering tensions to strengthen hard-line elements in her government, thus throwing cross-border relations deeper into crisis. “One good thing is almost all of them are prepared to get down to business right away without having to be briefed on every single thing that’s going on,” a government official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject. “They probably know what they’re dealing with and what the problems are, though the answers may not be that easy.” But the security crisis following Pyongyang’s atomic blast is threatening to leave her two-track strategy between a rock and a hard place even before its official takeoff. Amid increasing hawkish voices in government and parliament, the president-in-waiting herself appears to be leaning toward a hard-line stance, putting aside her pledge to resume dialogue with her northern counterpart Kim Jong-un. “‘The Korean Peninsula trust-building process’ is based on strong deterrence,” she said at a meeting on February 13. “As the old saying goes, it takes two to tango. We can carry it out together only if North Korea shows sincerity and an earnest attitude.” The next day she told former Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono Yohei that “under the current situation it is difficult to proceed” with the initiative. Kim Jang-soo said after seismic activity was detected on February 12, “If a nuclear test is confirmed, things will not be the same as the past.” Yun told JoongAng Ilbo last week that “the trust process is not a one-sided appeasement or get-tough policy toward North Korea but a countermeasure tailored for the leadership’s behavior. “It applies principles that we sternly respond to the nuclear issue and make them rightly pay for their provocations.” Some analysts have said that the much-touted policy could easily drift toward President Lee Myung-bak’s stringently reciprocal, conditions-loaded approach Park blamed for the freeze in cross-border ties. After his nomination on Sunday, Ryoo vowed utmost efforts to follow through on the initiative and also bolster security. “I well recognize the grave situation of the Korean Peninsula and many citizens’ concern about it,” he said in a statement. “I will strive to build trust on the peninsula as suggested by the president-elect’s ‘trust-building process’ policy while firmly ensuring national security.” (Shin Hyon-hee, “Moderate Conservatives to Steer Park’s Foreign Policy,” Korea Herald, February 19, 2013)


2/20/13:
South Korea and the United States will have working-level defense talks February 21-22 to explore all possible measures to deter growing nuclear threats from North Korea in light of its third atomic test, Seoul’s defense ministry said. The Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue, the first such meeting since the North’s recent nuclear test, will be held from Thursday to Friday in Washington to discuss ways to step up intelligence efforts and prepare measures to deter North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and further provocations, the ministry said. South Korea’s Deputy Defense Minister Lim Kwan-bin and his American counterparts, including James Miller, the deputy assistant defense secretary; David Helvey, the acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia; and Bradley Roberts, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense, will attend the bilateral meeting, it said. “The two sides will evaluate the North Korean situation following its nuclear test and discuss ways how to cooperate in drafting policies on the North,” the ministry said in a release. “The meeting will also discuss the S. Korea-U.S. alliance issues and events to mark the 60th anniversary of the armistice and military alliance.” The Combined Forces Command (CFC) said South Korea and U.S. forces jointly carried out a one-day drill in early February to rehearse key tasks in planning and execution of combined ballistic missile defense. “We highlighted the successful integration of our combined theater missile defense force,” Gen. James Thurman, CFC Command commander, said in a statement. “These drills show the ROK-U.S. Alliance’s commitment to provide an enduring and capable defense of the Republic of Korea.” (Yonhap, “S. Korea, U.S. to Discuss N. Korea Nuclear Deterrence Strategy,” February 20, 2013)

North Korea’s third nuclear test represents a challenge to all countries interested in the future of the pariah state. For South Korea, it is a final rebuke against the hard-line policies of outgoing president Lee Myung-bak and a reminder to incoming president Park Geun-hye ahead of her inauguration next week that engagement with Pyongyang poses severe risks. For Japan, it dashes latent hopes for a breakthrough in the unresolved kidnapping cases of its citizens who were snatched off its beaches by North Korean agents. And for the US, the test is a vivid testament that the young, unpredictable and secretive leader Kim Jong-un is pursuing a long-range nuclear capability — a growing risk to American security. Yet North Korea’s big bang is primarily directed at and most keenly felt in Beijing, where a new generation of leaders is choosing its foreign policy underlings and policies for the years ahead. China’s relationship with North Korea is a complex mix of supposed ideological solidarity and deep mutual distrust. … At the UN in December, Chinese diplomats, in tandem with the US, proceeded with a Security Council resolution that criticized North Korea for its provocative missile launch late last year. This modest step surprised and enraged Pyongyang and set the stage for a nuclear test meant as a warning to China that North Korea will not play the traditional role of a vassal state. As China takes stock of the situation in northeast Asia, it must confront several trends. The lack of North Korean reform, Kim’s increasingly risky gambits, the ineffectiveness of its ‘soft’ approach, its own deepening ties with South Korea, and the risks of a wider Asian conflict underscore a growing unease. This has caused influential insiders around the new leadership in Beijing to ask: what good is this so-called buffer? (Kurt Campbell, “China’s Indulgence of North Korea Will Stop Soon,” Financial Times, February 20, 2013, p.6)


2/21/13:
The United Nations’ human rights chief declared recently that the time had come for a “long overdue” investigation into what she called unparalleled rights abuses in North Korea. The probe, unprecedented in scope, could help establish whether the North’s leaders are committing crimes against humanity. Navi Pillay’s January proposal has already drawn support from the United States. But the decision has proved sensitive in South Korea, where leaders remain divided over whether to confront the North or try to somehow reduce tensions with it, even after Pyongyang last week detonated an underground nuclear device. South Korea’s support for the human rights investigation is critical, because farther-removed countries view Seoul as the leader on North Korea policy issues. But the decision on the Commission of Inquiry, or COI, comes at a particularly delicate time for South Korea, where a conservative new president, Park Geun-hye, takes office this month, having vowed to both re-engage with the North and “improve living conditions” for its 24 million citizens. The looming decision on the investigation highlights a fundamental South Korean quandary: Engaging North Korea and pushing it on human rights, though both reasonable goals, are often at odds. Other countries “should understand the sensitivities faced by South Korea” when speaking out about human rights, said Song Min-soon, who was South Korea’s foreign minister from 2006 until 2008 under liberal president Roh Moo-hyun. “Those countries, they don’t have a real need to sit down with North Korea. We do. The new South Korean government has a plan to talk with the North Koreans about denuclearization, economic issues. But if we lead efforts on the COI, that won’t happen.” Park has blasted the North for conducting the much-anticipated nuclear test. But her incoming administration, according to analysts, is uneasy about scrapping any hope of civil ties with the North even before Park takes office. U.N. officials and human rights advocates, as well as one Park adviser, said they are cautiously optimistic that South Korea will ultimately back the inquiry. “I think we will quietly support it,” said Ha Tae-keung, a National Assembly member with an interest in North Korea issues who advises Park’s transition team. But if Park opposes it, she will heighten frustration among activists and thousands of defectors in her country, including the several hundred survivors of political prison camps, who often accuse the South of being more concerned about the North’s weapons than about its people. More than half a dozen human rights groups in Seoul have spent weeks trying to sway their incoming government. One advocate, An Myeong-chul, secretary general of the Free the NK Gulag group, said he is compiling documents about a few individuals in the North’s prison camps, based on information from relatives who have escaped to the South. The documents detail the names of those in the camps, when they were taken and by whom. An filled out one document of his own, giving information about his mother and two siblings, who were sent to a gulag in 1994, he said, paying for the crimes of his father, who had been stealing rice and then committed suicide. An believes that his family members are still in a camp, but he isn’t sure. He calls the commission of inquiry a “necessity.” “If Park Geun-hye wants to open dialogue with North Korea, accepting the COI might give the North an excuse to get upset,” he said. “But South Korea should be aware: There are prisoners in there, and there are survivors here.” (Chico Harlan, “Rights Probe of North Korea Puts South in a Quandary,” Washington Post, February 21, 2013, p. A-1)


2/22/13:
South Korea’s incoming President Park Geun-hye said it is important to hand out strong punishment to North Korea in case of reckless provocations as she met with top military commanders just three days before taking office. The visit to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command was aimed at underscoring her commitment to national security amid concern that the communist North could attempt provocations at a time of power transition in South Korea. “I think it is important that there should be stern punishment for reckless provocations so as to break the vicious cycle that has been repeating,” Park said during the visit, according to her spokesman Park Sun-kyoo. “I hope you will remember for sure that strong security is the basis of everything the new government pursues.” She also held video conference calls with top Army, Navy and Air Force commanders working in the field, expressing gratitude for their service and asking them to ensure strong defense so that the people can lead normal lives without any security concerns. “North Korea continues nuclear development and provocations against the South,” Park said. “I and South Korea’s government will never tolerate North Korea possessing nuclear weapons and will establish a perfect deterrence against the North based on the strong Korea-U.S. alliance.” (Yonhap, “Park Calls for ‘Stern Punishment’ for N. Korean Provocations,” February 22, 2013)

Evidence arose that last July North Korea was preparing its long-range missile launch and nuclear tests, and that the US government had been informed of the preparations. Joel Wit, an expert on North Korean issues, said during an interview with the Hankyoreh on Feb. 16, “In July, it was very clear from talking to the North Korean foreign ministers that they were moving toward further development of their nuclear deterrent and missile forces. It was already clear at the time that we were headed for a difficult time after the elections in the US and South Korea”. Wit and another US civilian expert met at a ‘Track-II’ meeting in Singapore with Choi Sun-hee, deputy director of North Korea’s foreign ministry and Han Sung-ryul, North Korean deputy ambassador to the UN. Wit said, “The North Korean officials firmly stated they were dropping the principle of ‘action for action’ contained in the 2005 Joint Declaration on Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. They wanted the US to take the first step to show that they were sincere”. He also said, “It was clear they were escalating their efforts to develop their nuclear deterrent”. In a situation where the US is demanding the North Koreans give up their nuclear weapons, asking the US to first open diplomatic relations is a sign that North Korea is willing to risk escalating the situation. Wit also said, “The North Korean officials didn’t specify what steps would be taken, but what they could do was pretty much common knowledge. Things North Korea could do to escalate this situation include a missile launch and a nuclear weapons test, mounting a nuclear warhead on top of a missile, producing highly enriched uranium (HEU), ditching denuclearization, and saying they no longer abide by the September 19 agreement.” He added, “Privately, at the track-II meeting the North Koreans basically said that they can mount nuclear warheads on missiles but have been debating among whether or not to say so publicly.”It has been found that the North Korean officials requested their warning message be known to the press. Wit said, “Normally, these meetings are confidential. And the request from the North Koreans was a first. I refused to talk to the press because my job is not to be North Korea’s press agent. That’s not my role. However, the messages were relayed very clearly to the US government, the White House, the State Department, and the intelligence community. The government officials knew at least from us what North Korea was saying”. Although there have been leaks on news about North Korea abrogating the September 19 agreement on Foreign Policy’s website, it is a first for a conference attendee to speak directly with the press. When it comes to US’s North Korea policy, Wit said, “For the past four years, we’ve [the Obama administration] been conducting a policy in cooperation with president Lee that is really a total failure”. He characterized this administration’s four-year approach as made up of ‘weak sanctions’ and ‘weak diplomacy’. Wit also pointed out, “We thought we could somehow alter North Korea’s behavior by not talking to them. Trying to teach them lessons by when they do bad things we react with sanctions and other measures. Not talking to them will teach them to behave better. In fact however, it only empowered the North Koreans and their behavior got worse and worse”. He added, “The Obama administration had worked closely with President Lee, whose approach toward North Korea, I believe, was driven by conservative ideology and not by national interests.” With regard to the recent nuclear test by North Korea, Wit said, “I tend to believe North Korea can build nuclear weapons that can be loaded on the Nodong missile and they are working to do more. Beyond that I can’t give fine-tuned analysis. We have to start to think about where this is heading in the future. There have been some estimates that by 2016 North Korea could have 50 nuclear weapons. North Korea is becoming a small nuclear power like Pakistan, India, and Israel. That’s where they are heading.” Wit believes the way to deal with the current situation is through a combination of strong sanctions and strong diplomacy. He says sanctions alone cannot handle the situation and that above all, direct talks with North Korea are needed. He said, “We need to be thinking about a strong diplomacy initiative aimed at North Korea. By that I mean not just offering food aid or fuel oil. That’s not going to work anymore. We have to address the needs for core security for both sides. Their concern I guess is a peace treaty, while our concern is that we don’t like the weapons of mass destruction program. So strong diplomacy has to take both sides into account seriously. That is what North Korea expects.” (Park Hyun, “Last July, N. Korea Warned of Missile Launch and Nuclear Test,” Hankyore, February 22, 2013)

President Barack Obama pledged with Japan’s new leader to take a firm line on a defiant North Korea but the two sides also tried to calm rising tensions between Tokyo and China. PM Abe Shinzo carefully avoided disagreements with Obama after previous Japanese governments’ rifts and declared: “The alliance between Japan and the United States is back now. It’s completely back.” Obama promised to work closely with the conservative leader, whose Liberal Democratic Party swept back into power in December on a platform that includes boosting defense spending and aggressively stimulating a long-flaccid economy. “You can rest assured that you will have a strong partner in the United States throughout your tenure,” Obama told Abe in the Oval Office, calling the alliance with Japan “the central foundation” for US policy in Asia. Obama said the two leaders discussed “our concerns about the provocative actions that have been taken by North Korea and our determination to take strong actions in response.” North Korea carried out its third nuclear test on February 12, ignoring warnings even from its ally China. Abe, who first rose to political prominence as an advocate for a tough line on North Korea, said he agreed with Obama’s position of not offering “rewards” to Pyongyang and on the need for a new UN Security Council resolution. But the White House appeared to want to lower the temperature between Japan and China, which has increasingly sent vessels near Japanese-controlled islands known as the Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese. Obama did not mention the issue but Secretary of State John Kerry, in a separate meeting with Japan’s Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio, said he wanted to “compliment Japan on the restraint it has shown.” The meetings came hours after Beijing lashed out at Abe over a newspaper interview in which he charged that China would eventually hurt its investment climate through assertive actions in the region. Abe said the US-Japan alliance was “a stabilizing factor” and — in remarks he nudged his translator to read out — added: “We have always been dealing with the Senkaku issue in a calm manner and we will continue to do so.” The Japanese leader later spoke in stronger terms in an address at a think tank. While saying he wanted to cooperate with China’s incoming leader Xi Jinping, Abe insisted that the islands belonged to Japan. “We simply cannot tolerate any challenge now and in the future. No nation should make any miscalculation about the firmness of our resolve,” Abe said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. (Shaun Tandon, “Obama, Japan PM Firm on N. Korea, Measured on China,” AFP, February 22, 2013)

He is a scientist and ultra-wealthy, a low-key Navy veteran who could pass unnoticed at a Wizards or Caps game but who happens to be a part owner of both teams. Now Jeong H. Kim, 52, may be about to add another line to his glittering résumé: Cabinet secretary in South Korea, where incoming president Park Geun-hye has tapped him to run the ministry of science and technology. But there is a hitch. Kim’s diverse background also happens to include time working with the Central Intelligence Agency. Now this unassuming Potomac resident is not only becoming a household name half a world away, but he is also setting off a political firestorm there. His connection to the CIA has stoked fears among some South Koreans that Kim would act as a spy for the U.S. government. Political opponents of the new president have publicly criticized Kim’s nomination, which could be decided by February 26. Korean news reports predict that his nomination is likely to be approved. Kim reportedly has gone as far as offering to forfeit his U.S. citizenship to appease critics. Korean news reports say he is seeking to regain his South Korean citizenship. He also resigned from his position as president of New Jersey-based Bell Labs this week. The concern centers on Kim’s service as a director of the External Advisory Board at the CIA from 2007 to 2011, while he was president of Bell Labs. He also served as a director at In-Q-Tel, an Arlington venture capital firm set up in 1999 with CIA funding. “No country in the world would appoint someone to a government post who formerly served as an adviser to a foreign intelligence agency,” said Park Jung-soo of Ewha Woman’s University, according to Chosun Ilbo. He could not be reached for comment, but his wife, Cindy Kim, said that the appointment by South Korea’s first woman president took the family by surprise. “Nobody expected it,” she said in an interview. “She just appointed him.” (Thomas Heath, “American’s C.I.A. Ties Snarl Bid for S. Korean Cabinet,” Washington Post, February 23, 2013 p. A-1)

North Korea will finally allow Internet searches on mobile devices. But if you’re a North Korean, you’re out of luck — only foreigners will get this privilege. Cracking the door open slightly to wider Internet use, the government will allow a company called Koryolink to give foreigners access to 3G mobile Internet service by next Friday, according to The Associated Press, which has a bureau in the North. (Gerry Mullany, “In a Slight Shift, North Korea Widens Internet Access, But Just for Visitors,” New York Times, February 24, 2013, p. A-6)


2/25/13:
Park inaugural address: “I pledge to you today that I will not tolerate any action that threatens the lives of our people and the security of our nation. North Korea’s recent nuclear test is a challenge to the survival and future of the Korean people, and there should be no mistake that the biggest victim will be none other than North Korea itself. I urge North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions without delay and embark on the path to peace and shared development. It is my sincere hope that North Korea can progress together as a responsible member of the international community instead of wasting its resources on nuclear and missile development and continuing to turn its back to the world in self-imposed isolation. There is no doubt that we are faced today with an extremely serious security environment but neither can we afford to remain where we are. Through a trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula I intend to lay the groundwork for an era of harmonious unification where all Koreans can lead more prosperous and freer lives and where their dreams can come true. I will move forward step-by-step on the basis of credible deterrence to build trust between the South and the North. Trust can be built through dialogue and by honoring promises that have already been made. It is my hope that North Korea will abide by international norms and make the right choice so that the trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula can move forward. The era of happiness that I envision is one that simultaneously unlocks an era of happiness on the Korean Peninsula while also contributing to ushering in an era of happiness throughout the global community. To ease tensions and conflicts and further spread peace and cooperation in Asia, I will work to strengthen trust with countries in the region including the United States, China, Japan, Russia and other Asian and Oceanic countries.” (President Park Guen-hye, Inaugural Address, Korea Herald, February 25, 2013)


2/26/13:
President Park Geun-hye held back-to-back meetings with 19 foreign delegations including U.S. national security adviser Tom Donilon on her second day in office. In the meeting with the U.S. delegation, Park and Donilon reportedly shared concerns and views on North Korea’s defiant Feb. 12 nuclear test and agreed on enhanced cooperation to deal with the heightened security tensions. (Lee Joo-hee, “N.K. Tops Park’s Foreign Policy Agenda,” Korea Herald, February 26, 2013)

The National Assembly confirmed Jung Hong-won as prime minister, making him the first formally appointed cabinet member of the Park Geun-hye administration. The legislature held a plenary session yesterday and approved Jung’s appointment. Of the 272 lawmakers who attended the voting, 197 supported the appointment, while 67 opposed it. Eight votes were counted invalid. He was her second choice after her attempt to name Kim Yong-joon, former constitutional court chief and her transition team head, as prime minister failed. (Ser Myo-ja, “Jung Appointed Prime Minister,” JoongAng Ilbo, February 27, 2013)

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman brought his basketball skills and flamboyant style — tattoos, nose studs and all — to a country with possibly the world’s strictest dress code: North Korea. Arriving in Pyongyang, the American athlete and showman known as “The Worm” became an unlikely ambassador for sports diplomacy at a time of heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. Or maybe not so unlikely: Young leader Kim Jong Un is said to have been a fan of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, when Rodman won three championships with the club. Rodman is joining three members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team and a VICE correspondent for a news show on North Korea that will air on HBO later this year, VICE producers told the Associated Press in an exclusive interview before they landed. “It’s my first time, I think it’s most of these guys’ first time here, so hopefully everything’s going to be OK, and hoping the kids have a good time for the game,” Rodman told reporters after arriving in Pyongyang. (Jean Lee, “Piercings and All, Rodman Heads to N. Korea,” Associated Press, February 26, 2013)


2/26/13:
Japan and the United States called for the main U.N. human rights forum to launch an inquiry into allegations of violations including the torture and execution of political prisoners in North Korea. The reclusive country’s network of political prison camps are believed to contain at least 200,000 people and have been the scene of rapes, torture, executions and slave labor, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said last month. She called for a international investigation into what “may amount to crimes against humanity” in “one of the worst — but least understood and reported — human rights situations in the world.” North Korea dismissed the allegations. Japan and the European Union will submit a joint resolution seeking a inquiry, Japan’s Abe Toshiko said in a speech to the Human Rights Council, which began a four-week session on Monday. “Broad support of this resolution by the international community would send a stronger message to the DPRK,” the parliamentary vice-minister for foreign affairs said. Pyongyang has also failed to resolve the fate of many Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents, Abe said. Esther Brimmer, U.S. assistant secretary of state, backed the call for action by the 47-member state Geneva forum. “The council’s work remains unfinished so long as millions of North Koreans face untold human rights abuses amidst a daily struggle for survival,” she said. The resolution is likely to pass easily and it would be up to the council president to name a team of investigators. (Stephanie Nebehay, “Japan, U.S. Seek U.N. Inquiry into North Korea Abuses,” Reuters, February 26, 2013)


2/27/13:
The international expressions of anger and dismay that followed North Korea’s announcement of a nuclear test a few weeks ago, punctuated by a United Nations Security Council pledge to immediately work on “appropriate measures” in a new resolution, appear to have given way to slow-motion diplomacy and some frustration that not even a draft has been circulated among the Council’s 15 members. United Nations diplomats privately said the process had become bogged down mainly over bridging differences between China and the United States about how forcefully to respond, in some ways replicating a pattern that has prevailed in deliberations taken previously in dealing with North Korea’s defiant tests of ballistic missiles and nuclear devices. The frustration level, diplomats say, has been most prominent in South Korea, which has just sworn in a new leader, President Park Geun-hye. There had been hope in South Korea that a forceful Security Council resolution, expanding the economic penalties already in place against North Korea, would be completed and presented for a vote before South Korea relinquishes the presidential gavel at the end of Thursday to Russia, the Council president for March. But given the lack of progress, that prospect appears unlikely, diplomats said. And Russia, like China, appears in no hurry to take action that, in its view, would only further antagonize North Korea and destabilize the Korean Peninsula. “The South Koreans would like to see a resolution during their tenure,” one diplomat said. Members of the South Korean Mission to the United Nations did not respond to telephone messages or e-mails regarding the status of a North Korean resolution. North Korea has said it would regard any new Security Council resolution as a provocation. China has shown increasing impatience with North Korea, a destitute nation that depends on China for vital economic aid and trade. But on Tuesday China signaled its cautious approach on a Security Council resolution. A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, was quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency as saying the Council’s discussions “should be conducive to the denuclearization of the peninsula as well as peace and stability in northeast Asia.” Xinhua said the spokeswoman was responding to comments made earlier by Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, who was quoted as saying in Moscow that any Security Council resolution “must confirm that negotiations are the only choice for the parties involved.” There has been no public indication that China would be willing to expand the sanctions against North Korea, which cover military and dual-use goods, as well as luxury items for the elite. Nor has China given any indication that it would be willing to stop trade that helps keep its longtime ally afloat. (Rick Gladstone, “No Move Yet by U.N. Body after Test by Koreans,” New York Times, February 27, 2013, p. A-6)

President Park Geun-hye said she is very much concerned that her main national security aide is unable to take office at a time of high tensions with North Korea due to the parliamentary impasse over her government reorganization proposal. Park made the remark in her first meeting with senior secretaries, referring to the absence of former Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo, who has been named to head the presidential national security office. The security office, a centerpiece of the reorganization plan, is supposed to play the role of a “control tower” on national security issues. Its importance has grown higher in the wake of North Korea’s third underground nuclear test earlier this month. But Kim could not attend the meeting as his appointment could not be officially approved because the government rearrangement proposal is still pending in parliament amid a deadlock in negotiations between the rival parties. “In a situation where North Korea conducted a nuclear test and our security is threatened, it is truly worrisome and regrettable that the one who is supposed to play the role of a control tower in the security area could not attend the first meeting of senior secretaries,” she said. “Yonhap, “Park Voices Concern over Stalled Gov’t Reorganization Plan amid N.K. Nuclear Tensions,” February 27, 2013)

Following its recent rocket launch and nuclear test, North Korea’s winter military drills have become more aggressive with its firing drills directly targeting South Korea’s capital city of Seoul, military sources said. “An analysis of the North Korean military’s winter training showed that live-fire artillery drills and airborne infiltrations increased (compared to the past),” the source said, asking for anonymity as he is not allowed to talk about military information. “Overall, its winter training has increased aggression.” In the last couple months, North Korea’s military has conducted several airborne infiltration exercises with fighter jets and cargo aircrafts as well as increased special forces training compared to the previous year, the source said. North Korea’s artillery drills simulated bombarding Seoul with shells loaded with concrete, instead of live ammunition, the source said. Yesterday, the North’s state media said its leader Kim Jong-un oversaw a live-fire artillery drill simulating an “actual war,” during which he emphasized the artillerymen should always be ready to open fire to deal a “merciless blow” to the enemy. (Kim Eun-jung, “N. Korea Conducts Artillery Drills Targeting Seoul: Source,” Yonhap, February 27, 2013)

Kim Yong-chol, the man who was responsible for the sinking of the Navy corvette Cheonan, has been rehabilitated after a surprise demotion. Rodong Sinmun yesterday ran a photo of Kim Yomg-chol applauding at a musical performance that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un also attended. It shows him with his former insignia of a four-star general after he was demoted to lieutenant general three months ago. An intelligence source here said 10 top North Korean military officials had either been demoted or sacked in October and November of last year, but only two were rehabilitated. They are new army chief Choe Ryong-hae and Kim Yong-chol. “This clearly shows who Kim Jong-un trusts in the North Korean military,” the source said. Kim heads the General Reconnaissance Bureau, which spearheads spying and infiltration in South Korea. It was created in February 2009, when Kim Jong-un was fingered as the successor to his father. Kim Yong-chol, the first head of the bureau, is believed to have orchestrated cyber attacks on South Korean firms and institutions in July 2009; a naval confrontation with South Korea in November that year; an assassination attempt on Hwang Jang-yop, the highest-ranking North Korean defector, in February 2010; the sinking of the Cheonan in March 2010; the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in November of 2010; a hacking attempt on Nonghyup Bank; and the jamming of South Korean GPS signals between 2010 and 2012. Kim is no stranger to South Korean officials since he appeared regularly in talks with the South since 1989, when he was a major general. He became an experienced hand in negotiations and gained former leader Kim Jong-il’s trust. One Unification Ministry official who negotiated with him said he “always appeared when it was time to reach a decision. He has nerves of steel.” (Chosun Ilbo, “N. Korean General behind Cheonan Sinking Rehabilitated,” February 27, 2013)

DoS: “The United States is deploying missile defenses around the world to protect the United States, our deployed forces, and our allies from ballistic missile threats. In the Asia-Pacific region, the United States is focused on defending U.S. forces as well as our allies against the threat from North Korea. Additionally, we have deployed a number of missile defense assets in the region. For example, we have deployed a missile defense radar in Japan, and we have several U.S. ships operating in the Sea of Japan, with the missile defense mission. We are also discussing with Japan the possibility of deploying a second radar in Japan, which will assist with the defense of the United States, Japan against threats from North Korea. U.S.-Japan cooperation is very close and substantial. In addition to the U.S. capability in the region, Japan has also developed and deployed its own missile defense assets. For example, Japan has several Aegis class ships that have a missile defense capability and they have also deployed the Patriot air missile defense system.” (DoS, Press Statement, Missile Defense,” February 27, 2013)

South Korea’s decision to support a United Nations investigation into human rights abuses by North Korea signals that Seoul’s new conservative administration is willing to pressure its neighbor on such issues — even if it hurts the chances for engagement. South Korea’s pledge to give “active” support to the investigation comes just two days after the inauguration of President Park Geun-hye and will likely infuriate the North, which views discussion of its human rights as a “grave violation.” Seoul struggled with the decision, which forced a choice between two key goals: Restoring civil relations with Pyongyang, and pressing its government to improve treatment of its 24 million people. (Chico Harlan, “South Korea Vows Active Support of U.N. Probe into North Korean Rights Abuses,” Washington Post, February 28, 2013)


2/28/13:
In a written answer to Saenuri Party lawmaker Won Yoo-chul, FM nomineeYun Byung-se picked the U.S. as the “top priority diplomatic partner” followed by China. “The South Korea-U.S. alliance has played a core role in the maturity of our democracy, economic development and national security for the past 60 years,” he said. “I see China as the next diplomatic partner after the U.S., given China’s economic importance as our biggest trade partner and investment destination, and its role in the peninsula’s peace and prosperity.”

The ministry said in a later statement that Yun’s remarks were not to “number the significance of diplomatic partners but to emphasize the importance of the country’s relationship with China as well as traditional ally the U.S.” (Shin Hyon-hee and Lee Song-hoon, “”F.M. Nominee Rules out Military Action against N.K.,” Korea Herald, February 28, 2013)


3/3/13:
Signs of large-scale North Korea military exercises have been detected in the East Sea, coinciding with the US and South Korea’s regular combined Foal Eagle field-training exercises, which enter full swing this week. Rodong Sinmun also warned again of the possibility of additional nuclear testing. A source with the South Korean military said on March 3 that the North Korean armed forces had been detected preparing for joint exercises of their army, navy, and air force. “They’re preparing for the exercises all over North Korea, and it looks like they’re planning joint army, navy, and air force firepower training in the East Sea early this month,” the source said. One possibility mentioned was that the exercises might include a launch of the KN-08 missile, which appears to have been developed as a new intercontinental ballistic missile, or the Musudan, which has a 4,000-kilometer range and was placed into combat position without ever being test launched. The source went on to say that the North Korean army, navy, and air force had conducted joint firing drills in Nampo, South Pyongan province in March 2012, while the army and air force participated in live-fire exercises at the village of Taewon south of Pyongyang the following month. “But these latest exercises seem to be much bigger than past ones in the East Sea, and they have a nuclear testing site there,” the source added. (Kang tae-ho, “North Korea Planning Joint Military Exercises to Counter US-SK Combined Exercises,” Hankyore, March 4, 2013)


3/5/13:
KPA Supreme Command statement: “On December 12 last year the DPRK legitimately and successfully launched a satellite for peaceful purposes, ensuring international transparency, going beyond practice, and choosing a comparatively mild situation for it.

Seizing the DPRK’s satellite launch as an occasion for stifling it from the outset, the U.S. and its allies deliberately negated the DPRK’s sovereignty over its satellite launch. They finally prodded the UN Security Council into adopting a “resolution on sanctions” before opting for high-handed hostile acts against the DPRK. These hostile acts are still going on. Under this situation the DPRK was compelled to take practical counteractions to defend the security and sovereignty of the country. On February 12 it admirably and successfully conducted the third underground nuclear test for self-defense at the highest level as part of those counteractions. However, the U.S. imperialists and their allied forces including south Korea are making more persistent and desperate efforts to slap new tougher “sanctions” against the DPRK, far from drawing a due lesson. Not content with this, they kicked off again the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises to stifle the DPRK by force of arms by mobilizing huge armed forces of aggression. They will reportedly last for two months from March 1. Unlike last year the current joint military exercises will be participated in by super-large nuclear-powered carrier task force carrying at least 100 nuclear warheads, B-52H strategic bombers and other means of the U.S. imperialist aggression forces for making ground, sea and air nuclear strikes and its allied forces including south Korea, U.K. and Australia. From this point of view, the exercises cannot be construed otherwise than the most dangerous nuclear war maneuvers targeted against the DPRK and the most undisguised military provocation to be made by a group of all hues of hostile forces. This serious situation clearly indicates that the actions of the U.S., south Korea and other hostile forces to infringe upon the sovereignty of the DPRK are now leading to a military offensive for aggression, going beyond the level of outrageous economic “sanctions.” In view of the prevailing situation, the Supreme Command of the KPA which is responsible for the national defense and security of the country and the destiny of the nation sent a meaningful warning message to the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces through the KPA Panmunjom mission on February 23. It warned them that if they ignite a war of aggression in the end, from that moment their fate will be hung by a thread with every hour. But, the joint military exercises have persisted and the U.S. and the south Korean puppet forces have become all the more undisguised in their base moves to kick up their “sanctions.” Looking back on history, the Korean people have neither shot even a single arrow nor thrown a single stone at the land of the U.S. The U.S. is, however, working with bloodshot eyes to swallow up the DPRK, not content with having incurred the pent-up grudge of the Korean people which can never be settled. What matters is that the south Korean puppet forces steeped in worship and sycophancy toward the U.S. are dancing to its tune. Of late Kim Kwan Jin, puppet minister of Defense, and Jong Sung Jo, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, inspected frontline army corps, fleet command and guided missile units where they blustered that a sort of military provocation is expected from the north and cried out for making “deadly strikes” and “preemptive strikes” at the “bases for provocations.” As far as these guys are concerned, they are a group of traitors who pushed the inter-Korean relations to a collapse together with traitor Lee Myung Bak who knows nothing about politics and military affairs. They are military gangsters who go reckless, unaware of what their master U.S. has in mind, what is the intention of the neighbouring countries and what all fellow countrymen and nation desire.

The puppet authorities, too, are crying out for the dismantlement of nukes and halt to provocation as dictated by their master, without knowing what is precious wealth for the nation. They move like a robot and repeat anything like a parrot. The sovereignty and dignity of the nation are violated and the supreme interests of the country are seriously threatened by the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people, and maniacs of confrontation with fellow countrymen grouping worst traitors. The army and people of the DPRK can never remain a passive onlooker to this fact. The spokesman for the KPA Supreme Command is authorized to declare the following important measures:

First, it will take the second and third strong practical counteractions in succession to cope with the high-handed war acts of the U.S. and all other hostile forces as it had already declared. The army and people of the DPRK never make an empty talk. It is the mettle of Songun Korea to do what it is determined to do. It won victories in the two wars and has advanced along the road of victory despite manifold difficulties. The army groups on the front, ground forces, the navy, air and anti-air units, strategic rocket units of the KPA, the Worker-Peasant Red Guards and the Young Red Guards have launched an all-out action according to the operational plan finally signed by the dear respected Supreme Commander Kim Jong Un. Now that the U.S. imperialists seek to attack the DPRK even with nuclear weapons, it will counter them with diversified precision nuclear strike means of Korean style. Those means are bound to be launched once their buttons are pressed, and the enemies’ strongholds be turned into a sea in flames. This land is neither the Balkans nor Iraq and Libya. The army and people of the DPRK have everything including lighter and smaller nukes unlike what they had in the past.

Second, the KPA Supreme Command will make the Korean Armistice Agreement totally nullified. The war maneuvers being staged by the U.S. imperialists and the south Korean puppet forces are a vivid expression of their systematic violation of the AA. Accordingly, the Supreme Command of the KPA will completely declare invalid the AA, which has existed for form’s sake from March 11, the day when the war maneuvers will enter into a full-dress stage. The DPRK will make a strike of justice at any target anytime as it pleases without limit, not bound to the AA, and achieve the great cause of the country’s reunification, the cherished desire of the nation.

Third, the KPA Supreme Command will totally stop the activities of the Panmunjom mission of the KPA which was tentatively established and operated by it as a negotiating body for establishing a peace-keeping mechanism on the Korean Peninsula. In this regard it will simultaneously make a decision to cut off the Panmunjom DPRK-U.S. military telephone.

Our choice has become clear now that the moves of all hostile forces to encroach upon the sovereignty and dignity of the DPRK are reaching a dangerous phase. It is the unshakable stand of the army and people of the DPRK and the mode of counteraction of Mt. Paektu style to counter enemies coming in attack with a dagger with a sword, a rifle with an artillery piece and nukes with precision nuclear strike means of Korean style more powerful than them. The U.S. imperialists and their allies should not forget even a moment that they are standing at the crossroads of their life and death. A final victory is in store for the army and people of the DPRK who are all out to protect its sovereignty.” (KCNA, “Spokesman for Supreme Command of KPA Clarifies Important Measures to Be Taken by It,” March 5, 2013)

The United Nations Security Council moved closer on Tuesday to expanding sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear and ballistic missile activities. The United States and China introduced a resolution that would target North Korean bankers and overseas cash couriers, tighten inspections of suspect ship and air cargo, and subject the country’s diplomats to invasive scrutiny and increased risk of expulsion. Passage of the measure, drafted in response to the third North Korean underground nuclear test three weeks ago, seemed all but assured, in part because China — North Korea’s major benefactor — participated in drafting the language. It would be the fourth Security Council sanctions resolution on North Korea, which has defied the previous measures with increasing belligerence. A vote was expected on March 8. The Americans did not publicly release the resolution text. But a Security Council diplomat familiar with the measure, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the language may still be subject to revision, said it broke new ground with restrictions and prohibitions on North Korean banking transactions, new travel restrictions and increased monitoring of North Korean ship and air cargo. The diplomat also said that the resolution added a special lubricant and valve, needed for uranium enrichment, to items that North Korea cannot import. The resolution would also place greater scrutiny on North Korean diplomatic personnel who are suspected of carrying proscribed goods and cash under the guise of official business, exposing them to possible deportation. “We know there are diplomats out there cooking up deals and moving funds around,” the Security Council diplomat said. Among the other provisions, the diplomat said the resolution also included new language aimed at enforcement that had been absent from the earlier resolutions. It requires, for example, that if a North Korean cargo vessel crew refuses a host country’s request for inspection, the host is under a legal obligation to deny the vessel port access. If a cargo plane is suspected of carrying prohibited goods to or from North Korea, the resolution would urge, but not require, that it be denied permission to fly over any other country — a new provision that could affect China, which routinely permits North Korean flights over its territory. Previous rounds of sanctions have blacklisted trading and financial firms believed to be directly involved with nuclear and missile work. The sanctions have also restricted the importation of luxury goods, an effort directed at the country’s ruling elite. American officials said privately that the latest resolution did not go as far as they would have liked, reflecting China’s insistence that the punitive measures remain focused on discouraging North Korea’s nuclear and missile behavior and avoid actions that could destabilize the country and lead to an economic collapse. But the text was stronger than what some North Korean experts had anticipated, particularly the measures that could slow or frustrate the country’s banking activities and extensive dependence on cash payments in its trade with other countries. “Going after the banking system in a broad brush way is arguably the strongest thing on this list,” said Evans J. R. Revere, a former State Department specialist in East Asian and Pacific affairs, and now senior director at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a Washington-based consulting company. “It does begin to eat into the ability of North Korea to finance many things.” (Rick Gladstone, “U.N. Resolution to Aim at North Korean Banks,” New York Times, March 6, 2013, p. A-12)

In the North’s first reported response to Park’s inauguration address, Choson Sinbo, North Korea’s mouthpiece published in Japan, said, “(We) cannot hide indignation over the unilateral call on North Korea to ‘discard nuclear arms first’ (before seeking fence-mending) as well as the pressure for change,” said referring to Park’s inauguration speech on February 25.Calling the speech “a one-way inauguration address,” the newspaper said the Park administration is “disappointing” from the start. North Korea had shown signs of hopes for fence-mending under the new Park administration, which is expected to be more lenient than the former administration of Lee Myung-bak. “The new administration is not correctly assessing the nature of the acute political conditions on today’s Korean Peninsula,” the newspaper said, accusing the South of holding joint military exercises with the U.S. in March for offensive purposes. The newspaper commentary also urged the Park administration to end hostile policies toward the North, saying “a departure from (previous) failed polices, that is where the new administration should start.” (Yonhap, “N. Korea Denounces Park’s Inauguration Address as Disappointing,” March 4, 2013)

North Korea may have reduced the number of political prisoners and closed one of its notorious political prison camps. A report by the Korea Institute for National Unification in Seoul said, “A minimum of 80,000 to a maximum of 120,000 political prisoners are estimated to be detained in five political prisons.” The report said last year’s closure of the political prison camp in Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province, may have brought the total number of political concentration camps to five. The figures compare with the government’s estimation of around 154,000 political prisoners in the North, submitted to the National Assembly in October 2009. Deaths stemming from severe forced labor and dire prison conditions may have led to the cuts, the report said, adding those detained in the Hoeryong camp have been moved to other areas, according to the report which cited remarks by North Korean defectors in South Korea and satellite images. “It’s difficult to say that the reduction in the number of prison camps was the result of any changes in the North Korean authorities’ stance or policy toward political prisons,” the report said. “Even after Kim Jong-un took power, the North still maintains political prison camps in order to isolate those that pose threats to the regime and other potentially risky forces.” The Washington-based U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, however, refuted similar allegations in October last year that were previously raised by other media outlets, saying the Hoeryong camp, also known as Camp No. 22, is still in operation. (Yonhap, “Political Prisoners in N. Korea Reduced to Maximum 120,000: Report,” March 4, 2013)

Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center: “During a four-year leadership transition, North Korea’s approach toward the international community has become even more aggressive. The new Swiss-educated leader, Kim Jong Un, dashed initial hopes that he might take the regime in a more positive direction than his father, the late Kim Jong Il. In 2010 Pyongyang killed fifty South Koreans in two attacks, and it has warned of further strikes. With its third nuclear test in February and another rocket test last December, North Korea seems determined to develop a deliverable nuclear warhead to threaten the United States. The international community has reached a critical juncture in dealing with North Korea. If the regime continues on its current path, more serious provocations may occur, increasing the risk of instability in the region and the danger of conflict on the Korean Peninsula. Two decades of American-led policy have not succeeded in changing this trajectory. Moreover, with Washington judging that North Korea is not prepared to give up its nuclear weapons program, there appears to be no political basis for further U.S. negotiations with North Korea. The chief hope for the resumption of North Korea diplomacy now rests with the new South Korean president, Park Geun-hye. She campaigned on a platform of a “trustpolitik” to build mutual confidence and improve North-South relations. Her conservative credentials provide her with considerable political leeway at home for such an effort. Moreover, Park heads a country that has become a global leading middle power, giving her substantial influence with the international community, including key players such as China. President Park should appoint a very senior presidential envoy to advise her on North Korea policy, initiate contact with Pyongyang, and engage in high-level talks with the regime, analogous to the role that former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry played in the Clinton administration. The United States can be expected to support such efforts as long as it is confident that its ultimate objective — the complete elimination of North Korea’s nuclear weapons — is not compromised. South Korea should aim to take the lead in dealing not only with inter-Korean relations but also the nuclear issue. It should seek an early resumption of the Six-Party Talks in Beijing by persuading Pyongyang to freeze its nuclear program while negotiations are underway and back away from its insistence that it will not abandon nuclear weapons. To revitalize the Six-Party Talks, four countries — South Korea, North Korea, the United States, and China — should constitute a subcommittee within the Talks to negotiate the key issues. The goal should be to verify North Korea’s complete denuclearization and to simultaneously sign a peace mechanism no later than the end of the Obama administration. This will sharpen the focus of the Talks and put pressure on all four participants, but especially on North Korea and the PRC, to make the hard choices necessary to reach a successful conclusion.” (Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center Policy Report, “The North Korea Problem and the Necessity for South Korean Leadership,” March 4, 2013, Executive Summary, Gi-wook Shin, Karl Eikenberry, Thomas Fingar, Daniel Sneider, David Straub, co-authors)

North Korea is drastically expanding a missile launch site in Musudan-ri, North Hamgyong Province, and has changed the shape of warheads to improve missile accuracy. “The North is building a new launch site designed for massive rockets in Musudan-ri,” a South Korean missile expert said. “They’re expanding the assembly facility there by 28 m so that they can assemble two long-range missiles simultaneously.” (Chosun Ilbo, “N. Korea Expands Missile Launch Site,” March 5, 2013)


3/6/13:
The South Korean military notched up its defense posture and vowed stern punishment against North Korea’s provocations after Pyongyang warned of retaliation for imminent U.N. Security Council sanctions and Seoul-Washington joint military drills. North Korea’s military leadership late yesterday threatened to launch “nuclear strikes,” annul the inter-Korean truce, close its office in the border village of Panmunjom, and cut off its military hotline with the U.N. Command. “The drills are, as the North was informed, annual South Korea-U.S. joint exercises for the defense of the Korean Peninsula,” said Maj. Gen. Kim Yong-hyun, the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s head of operations, at a news conference at the Defense Ministry in Seoul. “If North Korea nonetheless pushes ahead with provocations that would threaten the lives and safety of our citizens, our military will strongly and sternly punish the provocations’ starting point, its supporting forces and command. We are making it clear that all preparations are completed.” Concerns are rising over President Park Geun-hye’s ability to handle the high-stake issue with the much-touted national security office still not in place amid festering partisan disputes over her overall government reshuffle plans and an ensuing administrative vacuum. Yesterday’s meeting took place without Kim Jang-soo, a former defense minister who was named to steer the organization. He is being separately briefed on the situation and related developments, government sources said. “We are under abnormal conditions in which Kim is unable to attend the senior secretary meeting because of delays in passing the government reform bill,” presidential spokesperson Yoon Chang-jung told reporters early in the day. “But the National Security Office is substantively examining and responding to the situation in close cooperation with the administration including the Defense Ministry and military.” (Shin Hyon-hee, “Seoul Vows to Strike Origin, Command Posts of N.K. Attacks,” Korea Herald, March 6, 2013)

The U.S. government is known to have installed within its forces in South Korea an organization in charge of taking control of nuclear facilities in North Korea in the event of a sudden contingency, including the collapse of the communist regime. Judging that the Chinese military will likely occupy nuclear facilities around the North’s border with China and acquire nuclear weapons and materials, the Pentagon is also taking steps to prepare for such a situation. According to high-level sources of the South Korean and U.S. governments Wednesday, the U.S. Defense Department late last year created within the 8th U.S. Army Command an organization exclusively in charge of penetrating 105 nuclear facilities across North Korea and taking control of them in the event of a sudden contingency there. This is the first confirmation of the number of North Korea`s nuclear facilities to be targeted by a U.S. military operation in the event of a crisis in the North. Such facilities are known to include the Yongbyon nuclear complex and a multiple number of nuclear material plants, including small-scale uranium enrichment facilities that North Korea is secretly operating. A South Korean military source said “I understand that the U.S. organization comprises not only U.S. military officials but also those from U.S. intelligence agencies and anti-terrorism organizations who have missions there.” Another informed source on North Korean affairs said, “The organization’s major missions include safely securing nuclear weapons and nuclear materials in the North, and taking control of nuclear-related facilities and technology institutes, arrests of key figures, and acquisition of confidential data.” “With the North’s third nuclear test (Feb. 12) as turning point, we understand that a plan to remove weapons of mass destruction in North Korea in the event of emergency is taking shape in earnest.” (Dong-A Ilbo, “’U.S. Organ to Take over N.K. Nuke Facilities in Case of Crisis,” March 7, 2013)

North Korea’s trade with China barely grew in 2012 compared to a year earlier as growth in the world’s second-biggest economy slowed, according to South Korean calculations. Trade between the two countries rose an annual 5.4 percent in 2012 to a total of $5.93 billion, compared with 62.4 percent growth in 2011, according to a report released on Thursday by the Korea International Trade Association (KITA). The trade body said the fall was due lower global prices for coal and steel — the of the two main resources China imports from North Korea — and due to weaker demand as China’s economy grew just 7.8 percent in 2012, its weakest level since 1999, the report said. North Korean exports to China stood at $2.48 billion in 2012, up just 0.8 percent from a year earlier, the South Korean data showed. Imports from China rose 8.9 percent in 2012 year-on-year to $3.45 billion, compared to a 38.9 percent rise in the previous year. China had a $960 million trade surplus as a result in 2012. (Christine Kim, “North Korea’s Trade Growth with China Slows Sharply in 2012,” Reuters, March 6, 2013)


3/7/13:
DPRK FoMin spokesman’s statement: “The U.S. is now working hard to ignite a nuclear war to stifle the DPRK. Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises kicked off by the U.S., putting the situation on the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war, are maneuvers for a nuclear war aimed to mount a preemptive strike on the DPRK from A to Z. The U.S. is massively deploying armed forces for aggression, including nuclear carrier task force and strategic bombers, enough to fight a nuclear war under the smokescreen of “annual drills.” What should not be overlooked is that the war maneuvers are timed to coincide with the moves to fabricate a new “resolution” of the UN Security Council against the DPRK, pursuant to a war scenario of the U.S. to ignite a nuclear war under the pretext of “nuclear nonproliferation.” It is a trite war method of the U.S. to cook up “a resolution” at the UNSC to justify its war of aggression and then unleash it under the berets of “UN forces.” That is why the U.S. is hurling into the war maneuvers even armed forces of its satellite countries which participated in the past Korean War as “UN forces.” After directing the strategic pivot for world hegemony to the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. regards it as its primary goal to put the whole of the Korean Peninsula under its control in a bid to secure a bridgehead for landing in the Eurasian continent. It also seeks a way out of a serious economic crisis at home in unleashing the second Korean war. The U.S. is, indeed, the very criminal threatening global peace and security as it is staging dangerous war drills in this region, the biggest hotspot in the world and a nuclear arsenal where nuclear weapons and facilities are densely deployed. The DPRK has so far made every possible effort while exercising maximum self-restraint in order to defend the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in the region. The U.S. is, however, responding to the DPRK’s good will and self-restraint with large-scale nuclear war maneuvers and the “annual” war drills are developing into a real war. Under this situation the opportunity of diplomatic solution has disappeared and there remains only military counteraction. The spokesman for the DPRK Foreign Ministry states as follows upon authorization as regards the grim situation that was created on the Korean Peninsula seriously threatening the sovereignty of the country and its right to existence: First, now that the U.S. is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war, the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country. The Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army declared that it would totally nullify the Korean Armistice Agreement (AA) from March 11 when the U.S. nuclear war rehearsal gets into full swing. This meant that from that moment the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will take military actions for self-defense against any target any moment, not restrained by AA. Second, the farce for the adoption of “resolution on sanctions” against the DPRK being backed by the U.S. at the UN Security Council will compel the DPRK to take at an earlier date more powerful second and third countermeasures as it had declared. If the UN Security Council gives the green light to the U.S. in its moves for a war of aggression against the DPRK by adopting a new “resolution on sanctions,” it will fully display the might of Songun it built up decades after decades and put an end to the evil cycle of tension. Third, given that it has become difficult to avert the second Korean war, the DPRK strongly warns the UN Security Council not to make another big blunder like the one in the past when it earned inveterate grudge of the Korean nation by acting as a war servant for the U.S. in 1950. The UNSC should immediately call into question the U.S. DPRK-targeted nuclear war rehearsals that pose a serious threat to the global peace and security, immediately disband the “UN Command” which is a tool for executing the U.S. war of aggression and take measures for ending the state of technical war. Justice can be defended only when strength is reacted with strength and nuke with nuke. Should the U.S. ignite a war in the end, it will cause flames of justice to flare up like an erupting volcano in which the aggressors will perish and the cursed Military Demarcation Line disappear for good.” (KCNA, “Second Korean War Is Unavoidable: DPRK FM Spokesman,” March 7, 2013)

The United Nations Security Council approved a new regimen of sanctions against North Korea for its underground nuclear test last month, imposing penalties on North Korean banking, travel and trade in a unanimous vote that reflected the country’s increased international isolation. The resolution, which was drafted by the United States and China, was passed in a speedy vote hours after North Korea threatened for the first time to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States and South Korea. “The strength, breadth and severity of these sanctions will raise the cost to North Korea of its illicit nuclear program,” the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Susan E. Rice, told reporters after the vote. “Taken together, these sanctions will bite and bite hard.” Li Baodong, the ambassador from China, which lent its support to the new sanctions to the anger of the North Korean government, told reporters the resolution was aimed at the long-term goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. “This resolution is a very important step,” he told reporters. Calling such sanctions “an act of war,” the North has sharply escalated its threats against the United States and its allies in the last few days, declaring the 1953 armistice that stopped the Korean War null and void and threatening to turn Washington and Seoul into “a sea in flames” with “lighter and smaller nukes.” The combative country had often warned that it had the right to launch pre-emptive military strikes against the United States, which it claimed was preparing to start a war on the Korean Peninsula. It ratcheted up its hostile language by talking about pre-emptive nuclear strikes for the first time, citing the continuing joint American-South Korean military exercises as a proof that the United States and its allies were preparing for “a nuclear war aimed to mount a pre-emptive strike” on North Korea. “Now that the U.S. is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war, the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will exercise the right to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country,” a spokesman of the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a Korean-language statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency. He used the acronym for his country’s official name, Democratic People’s republic of Korea. The spokesman said that North Korea was no longer bound by the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War — and its military was free to “take military actions for self-defense against any target any moment” — starting from Monday, when it declared the cease-fire was terminated. The resolution the United Nations adopted to impose more sanctions against the North “will compel the DPRK to take at an earlier date more powerful second and third countermeasures as it had declared,” the spokesman added, without elaborating. Photos filed by news agencies from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, and carried in South Korean media on Thursday showed buses covered with military camouflage and university students rushing out of their classroom building in military uniforms in a military exercise. Few analysts believed that North Korea would launch a military attack at the United States, a decision that would be suicidal for the regime. But officials in Seoul feared that North Korea might attempt an armed skirmish to test the military resolve of Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s first female president, who took office less than two weeks ago. In North Korea, where pronouncements are carefully choreographed and timed, the threat on Tuesday to use “lighter and smaller nukes” was read on North Korean television by Gen. Kim Yong-chol. General Kim, the head of the North’s military intelligence, is one of the hard-liners that South Korean officials suspected was deeply involved in the 2010 attacks. (Rick Gladstone and Choe Sang-hun, “New Sanctions Imposed on North Korea As It Warns of Pre-Emptive Nuclear Attack,” New York Times, March 8, 2013, p. A-) The U.N. Security Council is set to add three North Korean weapons dealers and two entities to its new resolution to punish the North for conducting its third nuclear test last month, according to a copy of a draft resolution obtained by Yonhap. The three North Korean arms dealers are: Yon Chong-nam, the chief representative for the Korea Mining Developing Trading Corp (KOMID); Ko Chol-chae, the deputy chief representative for the KOMID; and Mun Chong-chol, an official at Tanchon Central Bank, the resolution showed. KOMID is described by the resolution as North Korea’s “primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons,” while the North Korean bank is the “main DPRK financial entity for sales of conventional arms, ballistic missiles, and goods related to the assembly and manufacturing of such weapons.” The two North Korean entities are the Second Academy of Natural Sciences, which is responsible for research and development of the North’s advanced weapons systems, including “missiles and probably nuclear weapons,” and the Korea Complex Equipment Import Corp. linked to the North’s “military-related sales,” according to the draft. The Security Council “decides that all states shall inspect all cargo within or transiting through their territory that has originated in the DPRK, or that is destined for the DPRK,” the draft said. It also “calls upon states to deny permission to any aircraft to take off from, land in or overfly their territory, if they have information that provides reasonable grounds to believe that the aircraft contains items” banned by previous U.N. resolutions, the document said. (Yonhap, “U.N. Resolution Adds 3 N. Korean Arms Dealers to Sanctions List: Draft,” March 7, 2013)


3/7/13:
According to KCNA, Kim Jong Un inspected coastal defense units on the North’s southernmost islets in the Yellow Sea early this morning. The islets are close to South Korea’s frontline island of Yeonpyeong, which North Korea shelled in 2010. After being briefed on targets on Yeonpyeong, the report said, Kim ordered troops on the islet of Jangjae to “deal a deadly blow to the enemy and blow up their positions if they fire even a single shell at their territorial waters or land.” In a visit to the nearby islet of Mu, he urged “reinforced means of firepower strikes and targets” on five South Korean islets in the Yellow Sea, including Yeonpyeong, and “defined the order of precision strikes.” Expressing satisfaction over the combat readiness postures on the islets, Kim also ordered his soldiers to “promptly deal a deadly counterblow to the enemy if a single shell is fired on their waters and land, where their sovereignty is exercised, and make the first gunfire and shoot a signal flare for a great war of national reunification.” He was also quoted as saying the North`s 2010 shelling of Yeonpyeong was “the most satisfying” engagement since the 1953 armistice agreement that ended the Korean War was signed. He claimed that no North Korean soldier was killed or injured in the incident, but this is not true. North Korea`s military sustained significant damage from the South’s return fire. North Korean media outlets also continued their provocative rhetoric. Rodong Shinmun urged its people to “settle scores with the U.S. imperialists” and achieve national reunification while reporting on a mass rally in Pyongyang to support a statement by the supreme command of the North Korean military. (Dong-A Ilbo, “N.K. Escalates Saber-Rattling, Threats against S. Korea,” March 8, 2013)

UNSC Resolution 2094: The Security Council

Recalling its previous relevant resolutions, including resolution 825 (1993), resolution 1540 (2004), resolution 1695 (2006), resolution 1718 (2006), resolution 1874 (2009), resolution 1887 (2009) and resolution 2087 (2013), as well as the statements of its President of 6 October 2006 (S/PRST/2006/41), 13 April 2009 (S/PRST/2009/7) and 16 April 2012 (S/PRST/2012/13),

Reaffirming that proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, as well as their means of delivery, constitutes a threat to international peace and security,

Underlining once again the importance that the DPRK respond to other security and humanitarian concerns of the international community,

Expressing the gravest concern at the nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“the DPRK”) on 12 February 2013 (local time) in violation of resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009) and resolution 2087 (2013), and at the challenge such a test constitutes to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (“the NPT”) and to international efforts aimed at strengthening the global regime of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and the danger it poses to peace and stability in the region and beyond,

Concerned that the DPRK is abusing the privileges and immunities accorded under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations,

Welcoming the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) new Recommendation 7 on targeted financial sanctions related to proliferation, and urging Member States to apply FATF’s Interpretative Note to Recommendation 7 and related guidance papers for effective implementation of targeted financial sanctions related to proliferation,

Expressing its gravest concern that the DPRK’s ongoing nuclear and ballistic missile-related activities have further generated increased tension in the region and beyond, and determining that there continues to exist a clear threat to international peace and security,

Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, and taking measures under its Article 41,

  1. Condemns in the strongest terms the nuclear test conducted by the DPRK on 12 February 2013 (local time) in violation and flagrant disregard of the Council’s relevant resolutions;
  1. Decides that the DPRK shall not conduct any further launches that use ballistic missile technology, nuclear tests or any other provocation;
  1. Demands that the DPRK immediately retract its announcement of withdrawal from the NPT;
  1. Demands further that the DPRK return at an early date to the NPT and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, bearing in mind the rights and obligations of States parties to the NPT, and underlines the need for all States parties to the NPT to continue to comply with their Treaty obligations;
  1. Condemns all the DPRK’s ongoing nuclear activities, including its uranium enrichment, notes that all such activities are in violation of resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009) and 2087 (2013), reaffirms its decision that the DPRK shall abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs, in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner and immediately cease all related activities and shall act strictly in accordance with the obligations applicable to parties under the NPT and the terms and conditions of the IAEA Safeguards Agreement (IAEA INFCIRC/403);
  1. Reaffirms its decision that the DPRK shall abandon all other existing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner;
  1. Reaffirms that the measures imposed in paragraph 8 (c) of resolution 1718 (2006) apply to items prohibited by paragraphs 8 (a) (i), 8 (a) (ii) of resolution 1718 (2006) and paragraphs 9 and 10 of resolution 1874 (2009), decides that the measures imposed in paragraph 8 (c) of resolution 1718 (2006) also apply to paragraphs 20 and 22 of this resolution, and notes that these measures apply also to brokering or other intermediary services, including when arranging for the provision, maintenance or use of prohibited items in other States or the supply, sale or transfer to or exports from other States;
  1. Decides further that measures specified in paragraph 8 (d) of resolution 1718 (2006) shall apply also to the individuals and entities listed in annexes I and II of this resolution and to any individuals or entities acting on their behalf or at their direction, and to entities owned or controlled by them, including through illicit means, and decides further that the measures specified in paragraph 8 (d) of resolution 1718 (2006) shall apply to any individuals or entities acting on the behalf or at the direction of the individuals and entities that have already been designated, to entities owned or controlled by them, including through illicit means;
  1. Decides that the measures specified in paragraph 8 (e) of resolution 1718 (2006) shall also apply to the individuals listed in annex I of this resolution and to individuals acting on their behalf or at their direction;
  1. Decides that the measures specified in paragraph 8 (e) of resolution 1718 (2006) and the exemptions set forth in paragraph 10 of resolution 1718 (2006) shall also apply to any individual whom a State determines is working on behalf or at the direction of a designated individual or entity or individuals assisting the evasion of sanctions or violating the provisions of resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), and this resolution, and further decides that, if such an individual is a DPRK national, then States shall expel the individual from their territories for the purpose of repatriation to the DPRK consistent with applicable national and international law, unless the presence of an individual is required for fulfillment of a judicial process or exclusively for medical, safety or other humanitarian purposes, provided that nothing in this paragraph shall impede he transit of representatives of the Government of the DPRK to the United Nations Headquarters to conduct United Nations business;
  1. Decides that Member States shall, in addition to implementing their obligations pursuant to paragraphs 8 (d) and (e) of resolution 1718 (2006), prevent the provision of financial services or the transfer to, through, or from their territory, or to or by their nationals or entities organized under their laws (including branches abroad), or persons or financial institutions in their territory, of any financial or other assets or resources, including bulk cash, that could contribute to the DPRK’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs, or other activities prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution, or to the evasion of measures imposed by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution, including by freezing any financial or other assets or resources on their territories or that hereafter come within their territories, or that are subject to their jurisdiction or that hereafter become subject to their jurisdiction, that are associated with such programs or activities and applying enhanced monitoring to prevent all such transactions in accordance with their national authorities and legislation;
  1. Calls upon States to take appropriate measures to prohibit in their territories the opening of new branches, subsidiaries, or representative offices of DPRK banks, and also calls upon States to prohibit DPRK banks from establishing new joint ventures and from taking an ownership interest in or establishing or maintaining correspondent relationships with banks in their jurisdiction to prevent the provision of financial services 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), and this resolution, or to the evasion of measures imposed by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution;
  1. Calls upon States to take appropriate measures to prohibit financial institutions within their territories or under their jurisdiction from opening representative offices or subsidiaries or banking accounts in the DPRK if they have information that provides reasonable grounds to believe that such financial services could contribute to the DPRK’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs, and other activities prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), and this resolution;
  1. Expresses concern that transfers to the DPRK of bulk cash may be used to evade the measures imposed in resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), and this resolution, and clarifies that all States shall apply the measures set forth in paragraph 11 of this resolution to the transfers of cash, including through cash couriers, transiting to and from the DPRK so as to ensure such transfers of bulk cash do not contribute to the DPRK’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs, or other activities prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution, or to the evasion of measures imposed by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution;
  1. Decides that all Member States shall not provide public financial support for trade with the DPRK (including the granting of export credits, guarantees or insurance to their nationals or entities involved in such trade) where such financial support could contribute to the DPRK’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs, or other activities prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution, or to the evasion of measures imposed by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution;
  1. Decides that all States shall inspect all cargo within or transiting through their territory that has originated in the DPRK, or that is destined for the DPRK, or has been brokered or facilitated by the DPRK or its nationals, or by individuals or entities acting on their behalf, if the State concerned has credible information that provides reasonable grounds to believe the cargo contains items the supply, sale, transfer, or export of which is prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution, for the purpose of ensuring strict implementation of those provisions;
  1. Decides that, if any vessel has refused to allow an inspection after such an inspection has been authorized by the vessel’s flag State, or if any DPRK-flagged vessel has refused to be inspected pursuant to paragraph 12 of resolution 1874 (2009), all States shall deny such a vessel entry to their ports, unless entry is required for the purpose of an inspection, in the case of emergency or in the case of return to its port of origination, and decides further that any State that has been refused by a vessel to allow an inspection shall promptly report the incident to the Committee;
  1. Calls upon States to deny permission to any aircraft to take off from, land in or overfly their territory, if they have information that provides reasonable grounds to believe that the aircraft contains items the supply, sale, transfer or export of which is prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution, except in the case of an emergency landing;
  1. Requests all States to communicate to the Committee any information available on transfers of DPRK aircraft or vessels to other companies that may have been undertaken in order to evade the sanctions or in violating the provisions of resolution 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution, including renaming or re-registering of aircraft, vessels or ships, and requests the Committee to make that information widely available;
  1. Decides that the measures imposed in paragraphs 8 (a) and 8 (b) of resolution 1718 (2006) shall also apply to the items, materials, equipment, goods and technology listed in annex III of this resolution;
  1. Directs the Committee to review and update the items contained in the lists specified in paragraph 5 (b) of resolution 2087 (2013) no later than twelve months from the adoption of this resolution and on an annual basis thereafter, and decides that, if the Committee has not acted to update this information by then, the Security Council will complete action to update within an additional thirty days;
  1. Calls upon and allows all States to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to or from the DPRK or its nationals, through their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, and whether or not originating in their territories of any item if the State determines that such item could contribute to the DPRK’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs, activities prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution, or to the evasion of measures imposed by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution, and directs the Committee to issue an Implementation Assistance Notice regarding the proper implementation of this provision;
  1. Reaffirms the measures imposed in paragraph 8 (a) (iii) of resolution 1718 (2006) regarding luxury goods, and clarifies that the term “luxury goods” includes, but is not limited to, the items specified in annex IV of this resolution;
  1. Calls upon States to exercise enhanced vigilance over DPRK diplomatic personnel so as to prevent such individuals from contributing to the DPRK’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs, or other activities prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), and this resolution, or to the evasion of measures imposed by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution;
  1. Calls upon all States to report to the Security Council within ninety days of the adoption of this resolution, and thereafter upon request by the Committee, on concrete measures they have taken in order to implement effectively the provisions of this resolution, and requests the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 1874 (2009), in cooperation with other UN sanctions monitoring groups, to continue its efforts to assist States in preparing and submitting such reports in a timely manner;
  1. Calls upon all States to supply information at their disposal regarding non-compliance with the measures imposed in resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution;
  1. Directs the Committee to respond effectively to violations of the measures decided in resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), and this resolution, directs the Committee to designate additional individuals and entities to be subject to the measures imposed in resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), and this resolution, and decides that the Committee may designate any individuals for measures under paragraphs 8 (d) and 8 (e) of resolution 1718 (2006) and entities for measures under paragraph 8 (d) of resolution 1718 (2006) that have contributed to the DPRK’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs, or other activities prohibited by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution, or to the evasion of measures imposed by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution;
  1. Decides that the mandate of the Committee, as set out in paragraph 12 of resolution 1718 (2006), shall apply with respect to the measures imposed in resolution 1874 (2009) and this resolution;
  1. Recalls the creation, pursuant to paragraph 26 of resolution 1874 (2009), of a Panel of Experts, under the direction of the Committee, to carry out the tasks provided for by that paragraph, decides to extend until 7 April 2014 the Panel’s mandate, as renewed by resolution 2050 (2012), decides further that this mandate shall apply with respect to the measures imposed in this resolution, expresses its intent to review the mandate and take appropriate action regarding further extension no later than twelve months from the adoption of this resolution, requests the Secretary-General to create a group of up to eight experts and to take the necessary administrative measures to this effect, and requests the Committee, in consultation with the Panel, to adjust the Panel’s schedule of reporting;
  1. Emphasizes the importance of all States, including the DPRK, taking the necessary measures to ensure that no claim shall lie at the instance of the DPRK, or of any person or entity in the DPRK, or of persons or entities designated for measures set forth in resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013), or this resolution, or any person claiming through or for the benefit of any such person or entity, in connection with any contract or other transaction where its performance was prevented by reason of the measures imposed by this resolution or previous resolutions;
  1. Underlines that measures imposed by resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009), 2087 (2013) and this resolution are not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences for the civilian population of the DPRK;
  1. Emphasizes that all Member States should comply with the provisions of paragraphs 8 (a) (iii) and 8 (d) of resolution 1718 (2006) without prejudice to the activities of diplomatic missions in the DPRK pursuant to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations;
  1. Expresses its commitment to a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation and welcomes efforts by Council members as well as other States to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue and to refrain from any actions that might aggravate tensions;
  1. Reaffirms its support to the Six-Party Talks, calls for their resumption, urges all the participants to intensify their efforts on the full and expeditious implementation of the 19 September 2005 Joint Statement issued by China, the DPRK, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation and the United States, with a view to achieving the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a peaceful manner and to maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in north-east Asia;
  1. Reiterates the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in north-east Asia at large;
  1. Affirms that it shall keep the DPRK’s actions under continuous review and is prepared to strengthen, modify, suspend or lift the measures as may be needed in light of the DPRK’s compliance, and, in this regard, expresses its determination to take further significant measures in the event of a further DPRK launch or nuclear test;
  1. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

Annex I Travel ban/asset freeze

  1. YO’N CHO’NG NAM (a) Description:Chief Representative for the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID). The KOMID was designated by the Committee in April 2009 and is the DPRK’s primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons.
  2. KO CH’O’L-CHAE (a) Description: Deputy Chief Representative for the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID). The KOMID was designated by the Committee in April 2009 and is the DPRK’s primary arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons.
  3. MUN CHO’NG-CH’O’L (a) Description: Mun Cho’ng-Ch’o’l is a TCB official. In this capacity he has facilitated transactions for TCB. Tanchon was designated by the Committee in April 2009 and is the main DPRK financial entity for sales of conventional arms, ballistic missiles, and goods related to the assembly and manufacture of such weapons.

Annex II Asset freeze

  1. SECOND ACADEMY OF NATURAL SCIENCES (a) Description: The Second Academy of Natural Sciences is a national-level organization responsible for research and development of the DPRK’s advanced weapons systems, including missiles and probably nuclear weapons. The Second Academy of Natural Sciences uses a number of subordinate organizations to obtain technology, equipment, and information from overseas, including Tangun Trading Corporation, for use in the DPRK’s missile and probably nuclear weapons programs. Tangun Trading Corporation was designated by the Committee in July 2009 and is primarily responsible for the procurement of commodities and technologies to support DPRK’s defence research and development programs, including, but not limited to, weapons of mass destruction and delivery system programs and procurement, including materials that are controlled or prohibited under relevant multilateral control regimes. (b) AKA: 2ND ACADEMY OF NATURAL SCIENCES; CHE 2 CHAYON KWAHAKWON; ACADEMY OF NATURAL SCIENCES; CHAYON KWAHAK-WON; NATIONAL DEFENSE ACADEMY; KUKPANG KWAHAK-WON; SECOND ACADEMY OF NATURAL SCIENCES RESEARCH INSTITUTE; SANSRI (c) Location: Pyongyang, DPRK
  2. KOREA COMPLEX EQUIPMENT IMPORT CORPORATION (a) Description: Korea Ryonbong General Corporation is the parent company of Korea Complex Equipment Import Corporation. Korea Ryonbong General Corporation was designated by the Committee in April 2009 and is a defence conglomerate specializing in acquisition for DPRK defense industries and support to that country’s military-related sales. (b) Location: Rakwon-dong, Pothonggang District, Pyongyang, DPRK

Annex III Items, materials, equipment, goods and technology

Nuclear items

  1. Perfluorinated Lubricants: They can be used for lubricating vacuum pump and compressor bearings. They have a low vapor pressure, are resistant to uranium hexafluoride (UF6), the gaseous uranium compound used in the gas centrifuge process, and are used for pumping fluorine.
  2. UF6 Corrosion Resistant Bellow-sealed Valves: They can be used in uranium enrichment facilities (such as gas centrifuge and gaseous diffusion plants), in facilities that produce uranium hexafluoride (UF6), the gaseous uranium compound used in the gas centrifuge process, in fuel fabrication facilities and in facilities handling tritium.

Missile items

  1. Special corrosion resistant steels — limited to steels resistant to Inhibited Red Fuming Nitric Acid (IRFNA) or nitric acid, such as nitrogen stabilized duplex stainless steel (N-DSS).
  2. Ultra high-temperature ceramic composite materials in solid form (i.e. blocks, cylinders, tubes or ingots) in any of the following form factors: (a) Cylinders having a diameter of 120 mm or greater and a length of 50 mm or greater; (b) Tubes having an inner diameter of 65 mm or greater and a wall thickness of 25 mm or greater and a length of 50 mm or greater; or (c) Blocks having a size of 120 mm x 120 mm x 50 mm or greater.
  3. Pyrotechnically Actuated Valves.
  4. Measurement and control equipment usable for wind tunnels (balance, thermal stream measurement, flow control).
  5. Sodium Perchlorate.

Chemical weapons list

Vacuum pumps with a manufacturer’s specified maximum flow-rate greater than 1 m3/h (under standard temperature and pressure conditions), casings (pump bodies), preformed casing-liners, impellers, rotors, and jet pump nozzles designed for such pumps, in which all surfaces that come into direct contact with the chemicals being processed are made from controlled materials.”

Annex IV Luxury goods

  1. Jewelry: (a) Jewelry with pearls; (b) Gems; (c) Precious and semi-precious stones (including diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds); (d) Jewelry of precious metal or of metal clad with precious metal.
  2. Transportation items, as follows: (a) Yachts; (b) Luxury automobiles (and motor vehicles): automobiles and other motor vehicles to transport people (other than public transport), including station wagons; (c) Racing cars. (U.N. Security Council Resolution 2094 (2013) adopted at its 6932nd meeting on 7 March 2013)

Fresh U.N. sanctions are unlikely to halt North Korea’s nuclear program given that seven years of previous measures from the world body and more than 50 years of U.S. penalties have failed to dissuade North Korea from trying to develop banned weapons. “They will never give up their (nuclear) intercontinental ballistic missile plans. Their stance on this is very firm,” said Kim Yeon-su, professor of the department of security policy studies at the National Defense University in Seoul. China backed the U.S.-led push for the new round of sanctions in the United Nations. It has also supported previous efforts and stood behind condemnations of the North Korean long-range rocket launch in December which breached U.N. rules. Kim from the National Defense University said recent ties between North Korea and China had been fragile. He noted there had been a lack of visits to North Korea from senior Chinese officials since the missile launch in December — a contrast to the usual interaction seen during the days of Kim Jong-il. A Chinese politburo member was also snubbed by Kim Jong-un on a trip to Pyongyang ahead of the December rocket launch and Beijing summoned the North Korean envoy after the nuclear test to express its “strong dissatisfaction” over the test. Despite the warning from Beijing, North Korea has told China it is ready to push ahead with a fourth and even a fifth test, a top official with direct access to both capitals told Reuters in February. “Compared to his father … Kim Jong-un seems to be charting his own path when it comes to China,” said Kim at Seoul’s National Defense University. (Christine Kim, “North Korea’s Kim Jong-un to Ride out Sanctions in Nuclear Push,” Reuters, March 7, 2013)

Davies testimony: “The world is increasingly taking note of the grave, widespread, and systematic human rights violations in the DPRK and demanding action. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has called for an in-depth international inquiry to document abuses. We support this call, and next week, my colleague Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues Robert King will travel to Geneva to attend the UN Human Rights Council’s 22nd session, where he will call attention to North Korea’s human rights record and urge the adoption of an enhanced mechanism of inquiry into the regime’s abuses against the North Korean people. We continue, meanwhile, to engage countries across the globe to raise awareness about North Korea and enlist their help in pushing for action. We are also working with international and non-governmental organizations to improve the situation on the ground for the North Korean people, including by supporting the flow of independent information into the DPRK. Working with the Broadcasting Board of Governors, Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, and independent broadcasters in the ROK, we aim to provide information to the North Korean people and-over the longer term-plant the seeds for the development of civil society. The Obama Administration’s dual-track policy of engagement and pressure toward the DPRK reflects a bipartisan recognition that only a policy of openness to dialogue when possible, combined with sustained, robust pressure through sanctions when necessary, can maximize prospects for progress in denuclearizing North Korea.” (Glyn Davies, Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Policy toward North Korea, March 7, 2013)

Ignoring threats of retaliation, the United Nations Security Council ordered new economic sanctions against North Korea for its third nuclear test last month, unanimously approving a resolution that the United States negotiated with China, the North’s greatest protector. In an angry response, North Korea said on March 8 that it was nullifying all agreements of nonaggression and denuclearization with South Korea and was cutting off the North-South hot line. But beyond those steps, it was unclear how, if at all, North Korea’s young and untested leader, Kim Jong-un, would react to the rebuke. His government has threatened to terminate the 60-year-old armistice that brought a halt to the Korean War and that has kept a cold peace on the peninsula since, and South Korean officials said they were on the alert for any possible attack by the North. Any military action, or response, could end up involving the American forces that have remained in South Korea as it has turned from war-ravaged ruin into one of the most advanced industrialized powerhouses. The 15-to-0 Security Council vote places potentially painful new constraints on North Korean banking, trade and travel, pressures countries to search suspect North Korean cargo and includes new enforcement language absent from previous measures. But the provisions are in some ways less important than China’s participation in writing them, suggesting that the country has lost patience with the neighbor it supported in the Korean War. While China’s enforcement of sanctions on North Korea remains to be seen, it may now be more assertive. “This is not about the words, it is about the music,” said Christopher R. Hill, the former American diplomat who negotiated a deal with the North during the Bush administration to dismantle its nuclear facilities — an accord that quickly collapsed. China’s co-sponsorship of the resolution “suggests that after many years, the screws are beginning to turn,” said Hill, now the dean of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. The United Nations vote came hours after North Korea, infuriated by the combination of the proposed resolution and annual joint military exercises by South Korea and the United States, threatened for the first time to carry out “a pre-emptive nuclear strike” on its enemies. Military experts regarded that threat as bluster: While the North has conducted three underground nuclear tests, it is far from clear it knows how to deploy a nuclear weapon or make one small enough to fit atop a missile. But the threat still prompted the White House spokesman, Jay Carney, to respond that the United States was “fully capable” of defending itself. Another nuclear test is possible, as is another ballistic missile launching or perhaps an armed provocation aimed at South Korea. Some regarded the North’s dire warnings as a signal that some military response was looming. “The higher decibel of invective is a bit worrisome,” said Bill Richardson, the former governor of New Mexico and presidential candidate, who has traveled to North Korea eight times, most recently in January. “It’s the highest negative level I’ve ever seen, and it probably means that the hard-line elements, particularly the military and not the Foreign Ministry, are in control.” On the other hand, Richardson said, “China is part of a significant sanctions effort, and this may cool the North Koreans down, may temper their response.” It is also possible that the new and isolated North Korean government may have misjudged the reaction to talk of a pre-emptive nuclear attack, wording rarely heard since the cold war ended. It could be another way in which the North is demanding talks with President Obama — only last week Kim told Dennis Rodman, the visiting former basketball star, that he wanted Obama to call him. But it could also be a way of saying that North Korea now expected to be treated the way Pakistan is: as an established, if formally unrecognized, nuclear power. “This is a tactic they have employed when they don’t get their way, when the international community brings more sanctions to bear,” said Suzanne DiMaggio, vice president of global policy programs at the Asia Society in New York. “Whether that will happen this time is unclear, given the level of hostile rhetoric,” she said. “I’m not sure Pyongyang recognizes that fact.” The United Nations vote and North Korea’s threat come at a time when, internally, the Obama administration is debating the wisdom of its policy of essentially ignoring the North for the past four years, and responding to any provocations with new sanctions. According to current and former administration officials, there is a growing discussion within the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon over whether Kim is using each new test of rockets and nuclear devices to solidify his position with the military, his most important single constituency. “Under that theory,” one official who has dealt with North Korea often said recently, “even a firefight with the South Koreans might help him, as long as it doesn’t escalate into something that threatens the regime.” In testimony today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Glyn T. Davies, the administration’s special representative for North Korea policy, argued that the best course was to continue with Mr. Obama’s current policy of using tests and provocations to tighten sanctions, and try to starve development of the North’s long-range missiles and its effort to design nuclear weapons small enough for those missiles. Davies insisted that “it is still the goal of U.S. policy to achieve a Korean Peninsula that is free of nuclear weapons.” Davies’s prescription was challenged by Robert Joseph, who dealt with North Korea issues for the Bush administration, and left the State Department partly in protest over a North Korean deal approved by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “North Korea will only agree to abandon its missile and nuclear programs if it is judged essential for regime survival,” he told the committee. The North, he said, considers these programs a deterrent against attack. The new resolution instructs North Korea to cease all nuclear and missile testing and contains restrictions that will block financial transactions, impound cash, further empower countries to inspect suspicious North Korean cargo, and expand a blacklist of items that the North is prohibited from importing. The sanctions also place new constraints on North Korean diplomats, raising their risk of expulsion. But they do not allow countries to stop and inspect North Korean shipments on the high seas or force down aircraft suspected of moving contraband, acts that could set off a violent confrontation. “The strength, breadth and severity of these sanctions will raise the cost to North Korea of its illicit nuclear program and further constrain its ability to finance and source materials and technology for its ballistic missile, conventional and nuclear weapons programs,” the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Susan E. Rice, told reporters after the vote. Li Baodong, the Chinese envoy, appeared to signal China’s frustration with North Korea, which ignored its entreaties not to carry out the test last month. “China is a country of principle,” he told reporters. “We are formally committed to safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.” (Rick Gladstone and David E. Sanger, “U.N. Council Puts More Sanctions on North Korea,” New York Times, March 8, 2013, p. A-1)

White House daily briefing: “Q. Does the United States believe that North Korea is capable of carrying out this threat? Officials there are claiming that they now have the missiles on standby that can “leave Washington engulfed in a sea of fire.” What can you tell Americans who might be concerned when they see that about whether they have the capability to carry that out? CARNEY: I can tell you that the United States is fully capable of defending against any North Korean ballistic missile attack. And our recent success in returning to testing of the upgraded version of the so-called GBI, or the CE2 missile, will keep us on a good trajectory to improve our defense capability against limited ballistic missile threats such as those from North Korea. But let’s be clear, we are fully capable of dealing with that threat … ” (White House Daily Briefing, Spokesman Jay Carney, March 7, 2013)

DoS daily briefing: Q: I guess the most serious thing we could ever talk about is nuclear war, so why don’t we start with North Korea? How serious do you take the threats from Pyongyang? And what contacts have people in this building had, besides New York, with either the Chinese or your P-5 — your Six-Party partners? NULAND: Well, let’s just start by saying that this kind of bellicose rhetoric from the DPRK is not surprising. It’s not new. This regime has regularly missed the opportunity to improve its relationship with the outside world. Let me just take this opportunity to say that the United States is fully capable of defending against a DPRK ballistic missile attack. Furthermore, we are continuing to upgrade our ballistic missile defense capabilities. We remain firmly committed to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan and the maintenance of regional peace and security. With regard to consultations, as you know, and as announced by Ambassador Rice just a little while ago, we were very pleased to see the unanimous adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2094 and the tough new sanctions that that imposes, and the fact that the international community was able to speak with one voice about these things. Q: Just — when you say that it’s not surprising, does that mean you take it to be more bluster than actual warning of any imminent plans from North Korea of military action? NULAND: Well, obviously, one has to take what any government says seriously. It’s for that reason that I repeat here that we are fully capable of defending the United States. But I would also say that this kind of extreme rhetoric has not been unusual for this regime, unfortunately. Q: But when you say, like, you’re fully capable of defending against a ballistic missile attack, that you’re boosting up your ballistic missile — it sounds as if you’re taking these threats seriously. NULAND: Well, you have to take a government at its word when it makes these kinds of threats, which is why we are making clear that we have not only full defensive capability for the United States, but that we’re prepared to defend our allies. But what’s really disappointing and unfortunate here is that this is a regime that’s been offered multiple opportunities, repeated opportunities, particularly in recent years, to come clean with the international community, to work with us, to come out of its isolation, and instead it remains committed to this kind of pattern.” (DoS Daily Briefing, Spokesman Victoria Nuland, March 7, 2013)

Pyongyang has also extended the range of one of its short-range missiles to enable it to strike U.S. forces in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, a high-ranking government official told the JoongAng Ilbo. “Based on our analysis of the KN-02 missile that Pyongyang launched during live-fire exercises last month, we found its range reaches up to 150 or 160 kilometers [99 miles],” the official said. “We assume they boosted the force of the missile’s engine to extend the range.” On February 10, the North Korean military fired four KN-02 missiles toward the East Sea. With the extended range, if North Korea launches it from a pad near the border, such as the city of Kaesong, the missile could reach Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul, as well as Daejeon. Currently Camp Humphreys is in Pyeongtaek, but the U.S. garrison in Yongsan, central Seoul, will move there in 2019. The KN-02 missile can also be mounted with a payload, the South’s military said. “The KN-02 missile uses solid fuel and it can blast off within five or ten minutes if carried on a mobile rocket launcher,” the official said. “It is a threatening weapon because of its striking accuracy.” The North Korean military showed the KN-02 missiles for the first time at a military parade on April 25, 2007, the anniversary of the birth of its military. According to South Korea’s military, the KN-02 is manufactured by the North Korean military based on Russia’s SS-21 Scarab missiles. “Since Pyongyang showed the missile in 2007, it has frequently test-fired it near Wonsan, an eastern coastal city, or Hwajin, on the Yellow Sea,” the official said. “Up until recently, it has reportedly tested the missile’s engine at an institute in Samum-dong, Pyongyang.” North Korea allegedly invited military officials from Iran and Syria to witness live-fire tests of about 10 KN-02 missiles in 2012. Several officials in the South’s military said they were tipped off that the North has a plan to conduct live-fire exercises between Feb. 10 and 11. (Kim Hee-jin and Jeong Yong-soo, “Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strike Threat from Pyongyang,” Joong-Ang Ilbo, March 8, 2013)

DoS Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation: “The United States welcomes the unanimous passage today of United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2094. North Korea’s nuclear and missile proliferation activities violate the UN Security Council sanctions regime comprised of resolutions 1718 (2006), 1874 (2009) and 2087 (2013), destabilize the region, and undermine the global nonproliferation regime. The international community has condemned North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation activity and its continued efforts to advance its nuclear and missile programs, including its announced February 12 nuclear test and its April and December 2012 launches using ballistic missile technology. These provocative acts continue to threaten international peace and security and will only result in North Korea becoming further isolated from the international community. On Thursday, March 7, 2013 the U.S. Department of the Treasury implemented the asset freeze provisions of UNSCR 2094 (2013) by designating Mun Cho’ng-Ch’o’l, a Tanchon Commercial Bank (TCB) representative who served in Beijing, China; and Yo’n Cho’ng-Nam and Ko Ch’o’l-Chae, both based in Dalian, China, and representatives of Korea Mining Development Corporation (KOMID), pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13382, which targets proliferators of WMD and their supporters. The Second Academy of Natural Sciences and Korea Complex Equipment Import Corporation, listed in UNSCR 2094 today, were previously designated pursuant to E.O. 13382 in August 2010 and October 2005 respectively. “These individuals are important actors within North Korea’s proliferation network who have been working to gain access to international markets,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen. “We will continue to work with our partners around the world to expose these operations and hold North Korea accountable for its provocative and destabilizing acts.” TCB was identified in the annex of E.O. 13382 in June 2005 because it acts as the financial arm of KOMID, Pyongyang’s premier arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons. KOMID was also listed in the annex to E.O. 13382 in June 2005 for its role in North Korea’s proliferation of WMD. KOMID has offices in multiple countries around the world and facilitates weapons sales for the North Korean government. TCB plays a role in financing KOMID’s sales of ballistic missiles and has also been involved in ballistic missile transactions from KOMID to Iran’s Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG), the U.S. and UN-sanctioned Iranian organization responsible for developing liquid-fueled ballistic missiles. In addition to their listings under E.O. 13382, both TCB and KOMID were designated by the UNSCR 1718 Committee in April 2009. Today’s designations under E.O. 13382 generally result in the prohibition of transactions between these individuals and any U.S. person, and the freezing of any assets they may have under U.S. jurisdiction.” (Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation Fact Sheet, United States Sanctions Individuals Linked to North Korean Weapons of Mass Destruction Programs, March 7, 2013)


3/8/13:
Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) statement: “The Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army on Tuesday [March 5] solemnly declared the important measures to defend the sovereignty and dignity of the nation and the supreme interests of the country in view of the fact that the U.S. and south Korean puppet forces’ hostile acts and their nuclear war moves against the DPRK have reached a dangerous phase. The measures were very just as they reflected the resolute disposition and iron will of the army and people of the DPRK to counter enemies coming in attack with a dagger with a sword, a rifle with an artillery piece and nukes with precision nuclear strike means of Korean style more powerful than them. The U.S. and the south Korean puppet forces should have pondered over our warning. However, they, hell bent on confrontation and war fever, illegally cooked up additional “resolution on sanctions” against the DPRK by using the hand-raising machine at the UN, while working hard to ignite a large-scale nuclear war against it. What should not be overlooked is that the south Korean puppet forces are taking the lead in the moves for invading the DPRK, unaware of the disasters they will suffer like a tiger moth. Even the puppet military warmongers unhesitatingly cried out for “resolutely destroying not only the bases of provocations and forces supporting them but their commanding forces” by brandishing the U.S.-provided nuclear stick against the DPRK over its just measures to defend the sovereignty of the nation. They were so foolish as to let loose sheer sophism that the DPRK’s important measures were a ploy to create “uneasiness” in south Korea and lead the situation to “dialogue.” This is aimed to play down the DPRK’s toughest stance. Due to such evermore undisguised moves of the U.S. and the south Korean puppet forces to escalate the confrontation with the DPRK and ignite a war against it, the frozen north-south relations have gone beyond such the danger line that they are no longer repairable and an extremely dangerous situation is prevailing on the Korean Peninsula where a nuclear war may break out right now. It is the steadfast determination and unshakable faith of the army and people of the DPRK led by the illustrious commander of Mt. Paektu not to allow the hostile forces to infringe upon the sovereignty and dignity of the country but decisively and mercilessly wipe them out. Upon authorization, the CPRK clarifies the following countermeasures as regards the prevailing grave situation: First, the DPRK abrogates all agreements on nonaggression reached between the north and the south. The frantic Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises being staged by the south Korean warmongers together with the U.S. in the land, air and seas of south Korea with huge armed forces, nuclear-powered carrier flotilla, strategic bombers and other nuclear strike hardware involved are open acts of aggression against the DPRK and a vivid expression of wanton violation of all the agreements on nonaggression reached between the north and the south. The south Korean puppet forces are working with bloodshot eyes to invade the DPRK in collusion with the U.S. This situation reduced to dead papers the north-south agreements on nonaggression which calls for nonuse of force against the other party, prevention of accidental military clashes, peaceful settlement of disputes and the issue of nonaggression demarcation line. Therefore, the DPRK officially declares that from the moment the Korean Armistice Agreement is made totally invalid on March 11 all the said agreements will be completely nullified. The DPRK will mercilessly punish the enemies through prompt crushing retaliatory strikes, not bound to the above-said agreements, if they intrude into its land and territorial air and waters even an inch and fire even a single shell at them. Second, the DPRK totally nullifies the joint declaration on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. is the arch criminal who introduced nuclear weapons to south Korea more than 60 years ago and has threatened the DPRK with nukes, spawning the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula. The south Korean puppet forces are the accomplices who shielded and encouraged the U.S. shipment of nuclear weapons into south Korea and have danced to the tune of the U.S. in its moves for a nuclear war against the DPRK. The U.S. and the puppet forces’ nuclear war moves against the DPRK virtually put an end to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula long ago and rendered the joint declaration on its denuclearization totally meaningless. Hence, the DPRK re-clarifies that the joint declaration on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has become totally invalid. From now on, no one is allowed to utter such words as the DPRK’s “dismantlement of nukes” and “no-use of nuclear weapons.” Moreover, the puppet forces have neither qualifications nor reason to urge the DPRK to dismantle nukes as they allowed the shipment of nukes into south Korea and have zealously participated in the moves for a nuclear war against it. Third, the DPRK will close the Panmunjom liaison channel between the north and the south. There is nothing to talk to the puppet group of traitors hell-bent on the moves for a war of aggression against the north, blinded with confrontation and hostility towards compatriots. What remains to be done is to settle accounts with them by physical force only. It is a mockery and insult to the noble Red Cross spirit to discuss compatriotism and humanitarian issues with those who consider confrontation with compatriots as a means for their existence. Moves for war and confidence-building cannot go together and showdown is incompatible with dialogue. It is illogical and nothing but hypocrisy to talk about “trust” and “dialogue” while pursuing confrontation and war. The DPRK declares the above-said channel closed from the view that this channel can no longer perform its mission due to the prevailing grave situation. It notifies the south side that, accordingly, it will immediately cut off the north-south hotline. The hostile forces should clearly know that our just option is by no means a mere threat but is an expression of the fixed will of our army and people to annihilate the enemy. All the service personnel and people of the DPRK will turn out as one and mercilessly wipe out the aggressors and provocateurs with the tremendous might of Songun they have consolidated, and build a reunified, prosperous and best powerful country on the land of three thousand-ri without fail. We will never miss the golden chance to wage a great war for national reunification.” (KCNA, “Important Measures o Defend the Nation’s Sovereignty, Dignity and Country’s Supreme Interests: CPRK,” March 8, 2013)

CPRK Secretariat Information Bulletin 1021: “The army and people of the DPRK are poised for a final do-or-die battle in the spirit of annihilating enemies after the statement was made public by a spokesman for the Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army. The south Korean puppet military hooligans engrossed in confrontation and provocation are running reckless, unaware of the gravity of the situation and the ensuing catastrophic consequences. On March 6, the puppet Joint Chiefs of Staff let the chief of the operational department clarify south Korea’s stand with regard to the statement of the Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army. The military hooligans described the Key Resolve and Foal eagle war drills as “annual exercises for defense” and called the DPRK’s crucial measures a “provocation”. They even blustered that they would “severely punish even the commanding forces” of the north, adding that “they are bracing for putting it into practice.” They even bluffed that they would target the supreme headquarters of the Korean revolution, openly touting “punishing the commanding forces,” a serious act of provoking an all-out war. In April last year, they openly aired the footage of missile attack, calling for “striking the window of office in Pyongyang.” It is tragedy of the nation that the group of cursed traitors like Lee Myung Bak is still at large even though they deserve divine punishment for the heinous crimes they already committed against the nation. The enemies of the nation who dare point their finger at the sky can never go scot-free. It is the fixed determination of the army and people of the DPRK to certainly deal sledge-hammer blows at the group of traitors who seek to harm the headquarters of the revolution, which represents the supreme dignity of the DPRK. The puppet military group dares make rhetoric, unaware that the stronghold of confrontation and treachery Chongwadae, and Seoul will be blown up at a time when they attempt “punishing the commanding forces of the north.” The DPRK solemnly stated to the world that from the moment when the Korean Armistice Agreement is nullified due to the moves for provoking a war of aggression by the U.S. imperialists and the puppet warmongers, the DPRK will mount Korean style strike of justice at the provocateurs without hesitation. The revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK, already put on a high alert, are waiting for an order for great advance for national reunification, determined to blast the strongholds of aggression with prompt and fatal retaliation, should the provocateurs make even the slightest move. The reckless moves of the puppet warmongers for confrontation with the DPRK will accelerate their most miserable end. Neither the U.S. nuclear umbrella which the puppet forces trust in as the savior nor international cooperation will be able to save the group of traitors to the nation.

The aggressors, provokers will meet a final ruin for provoking the DPRK for no reason.” (KCNA, “Aggressors Will Meet Destruction: CPRK Secretariat,” March 8, 2013)

In a speech to a mass rally in Pyongyang yesterday, Col. Gen. Kang Pyo-yong, deputy chief of the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces, was quoted by Rodong Sinmun, “Soldiers are ready for a battle and only awaiting an order, while various missiles including an intercontinental ballistic missile are on standby preset for targets, equipped with lightened, miniaturized and varied nuclear warheads.” Kang said the missiles will turn Washington and its allies into a “sea of fire.” In a speech at a joint commissioning ceremony for graduating military cadets at the Gyeryongdae military headquarters, President Park Guen-hye urged Pyongyang to stop raising tension “Our current security situation is extremely grave. North Korea pushed ahead with a nuclear test and long-range missile development and is threatening to annul the Armistice Agreement,” the president said. “I will deal strongly with North Korea’s provocations. But if North Korea takes a path of change I will actively undertake the Korean Peninsula Trust Process to build a foundation for the South and North to live peacefully and pave the way for national unification,” she said, referring to her signature policy aimed at building trust for inter-Korean reconciliation. Earlier in the day, Cheong Wa Dae also held a meeting of senior secretaries to discuss the situation and countermeasures. (Shin Hyon-hee, “N. Korea Ramps up Tension; Parks Vows Stern Retaliation,” Korea Herald, March 9, 2013)

The governments of North and South Korea escalated their hostile warnings to the highest level in years, with each threatening to annihilate the other a day after the United Nations Security Council unanimously imposed tightened sanctions on the North for its nuclear test last month. North Korea said it was nullifying all nonaggression agreements with South Korea, and one of its top generals claimed his country had nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles ready to blast off. South Korea said that if North Korea attacked the South with a nuclear weapon, the government of the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, would be “erased from the earth.” While experts say North Korea does not have the technical ability to use nuclear-tipped missiles, that did not stop it from threatening to deploy them. “If we push the button, they will blast off and their barrage will turn Washington, the stronghold of American imperialists and the nest of evil, and its followers, into a sea of fire,” said Kang Pyo-yong, the North Korean vice defense minister. His speech yesterday in Pyongyang was carried today by Rodong Sinmun. In the last few days, North Korea’s state-run news media have carried a slew of official remarks threatening to launch “pre-emptive nuclear strikes” at the United States and South Korea with “lighter and smaller nukes,” hinting that the country has built nuclear warheads small enough to mount on long-range missiles. But American and South Korean officials strongly doubt that the North has mastered that technology. South Korean military officials called the remarks bluster, designed not so much to threaten Washington as to infuse the North with a sense of crisis and empowerment as Kim consolidates his grip on power and uses his country’s growing confrontation with the outside world to enhance his status at home. The North’s state media has shown tearful soldiers running into his arms or shaking their rifles overhead in jubilation during Kim’s visits to their units. North Korean television reports have also shown soldiers rushing waist-deep into the ocean to see Kim off after a recent visit to a front-line island. Such scenes are not unusual in North Korea, where the state media depicts the nation’s leader as a fatherlike protector and calls for unconditional adoration and obedience. Park, however, warned that with its behavior, North Korea was only hurting itself. North Korea “will collapse in self-destruction if it continues to waste its resources on nuclear weapons development while its people are going hungry,” she said Friday at a commission ceremony for young military officers. (Choe Sang-hun, “Two Koreas in Doomsday Threats after Vote at U.N.,” New York Times, March 9, 2013, p. A-3)

A belligerent mood is also forming inside North Korea, with several large-scale military and civilian rallies over the past few days. The military reportedly increased its firing exercises with a mock attack on the Seoul area. Meanwhile, leader Kim Jong-un rallied the troops with a visit to front line units on the West Sea coast on March 7, declaring that the “front line units and all the soldiers of our army, navy, air force, anti-air force, and strategic rocket units are prepared in every way to launch our version of total warfare.” The Blue House responded on March 8 with its first foreign policy and national security policy coordination meeting since the Park Geun-hye administration took office. With delays holding up the appointment of the relevant Cabinet ministers, vice ministers were present from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Unification, and National Defense, as well as deputy heads from the National Intelligence Service and the Office of the Prime Minister. The administration also released a statement through Ministry of Unification spokesman Kim Hyung-suk expressing its dismay at the “heightening of tensions on the Korean Peninsula” from North Korea backing out of the non-aggression agreements. “North Korea’s authorities bear all responsibility for anything that occurs from not abiding by the inter-Korean agreements,” Kim said. The Ministry of National Defense fired back with even more aggressive rhetoric. Speaking at a briefing, spokesman Kim Min-seok said, “We will respond forcefully if North Korea provokes us. If North Korea attacks South Korea with a nuclear weapon, then by the will of the Republic of Korea and humanity, the Kim Jong-un regime will perish from the Earth.” The rising tensions are also fanning concerns about a miitary clash breaking out. Many are pointing to the Northern Limit Line area in the West Sea, where armed clashes have occurred in the past, as a particularly tense area. “If military tensions rise, there’s a strong possibility that even a small, accidental clash will get out of control and spiral into a large-scale military conflict,” said Kim Yeon-chul, a professor at Inje University. “Managing any unintended clashes is of paramount importance.” (Park Byong-su and Seok Jin-hwan, “North and South Korea Exchanging Most Heated Rhetoric Yet,” Hankyore, March 9, 2013)


3/9/13:
China’s foreign minister said that Beijing would not abandon North Korea, reiterating China’s longstanding position that dialogue, not sanctions, is the best way to persuade the North to abandon its nuclear weapons. At a news conference during the National People’s Congress, Yang Jiechi, suggested that Chinese support for tougher United Nations sanctions against North Korea should not be interpreted as a basic change in China’s attitude. “We always believe that sanctions are not the end of the Security Council actions, nor are sanctions the fundamental way to resolve the relevant issues,” said Yang, who addressed foreign policy questions from Chinese and foreign reporters. But the careful remarks masked the unparalleled plain-spoken discussions among China’s officials and analysts about the value of supporting North Korea even as it continues to develop nuclear weapons and unleashes new threats to attack the United States and South Korea. Although it remained to be seen whether China would actually enforce the sanctions, its decision to support them also raised the possibility that it might take even bolder steps. The clearest sign of China’s exasperation with North Korea came March 7 at a side session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory group to the government that was open to the news media. Delegates to the conference, according to a senior Communist Party official, Qiu Yuanping, talked about whether to “keep or dump” North Korea and debated whether China, as a major power, should “fight or talk” with the North. In the annals of Communist Party decorum, Ms. Qiu’s description of the spirited debate was quite extraordinary. She made the remarks in the presence of reporters at a session titled “Friendship with Foreign Countries” that was attended by several Chinese ambassadors who were visiting Beijing from their posts abroad. As deputy director of the Communist Party’s Central Foreign Affairs Office, a secretive body that gives foreign policy advice to top leaders, Ms. Qiu usually opts for discretion. The admission by a senior Communist Party official that North Korea is a nettlesome neighbor is especially striking because China conducts its relations with North Korea chiefly through the comradely auspices of the party, rather than the Foreign Ministry. Just days before Ms. Qiu’s remarks, a prominent Communist Party analyst, Deng Yuwen, a deputy editor of Study Times, the journal of the Central Party School of the Communist Party, wrote an op-ed in Financial Times that China should “give up” on North Korea. Deng asked what would happen if the United States launched a pre-emptive attack on North Korea: “Would China not be obliged to help North Korea based on our ‘alliance.’ Would that not be drawing fire upon ourselves?” Moreover, Deng wrote, there was no hope that North Korea would overhaul its economy and become a normal country, a path urged in the past several years by the Chinese government. Even if the North’s new ruler, Kim Jong-un, wanted reform, the entrenched ruling elite “would absolutely not allow him to do so,” because they know change would result in the overthrow of the government, Deng said. Deng’s analysis was widely read, in part, because he has a habit of expressing provocative views that meld into the mainstream. Last year, he wrote an article that appeared in the online version of Caijing, a business magazine that said failures had outweighed achievements in the decade-long rule of President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao. After the article appeared, the era of Hu and Wen was often referred to as the “lost decade.” For all the concern about North Korea since the nuclear test in mid-February, there have been no concrete signs that China plans to take any action against the North beyond the United Nations sanctions. Traders in Jilin Province, which abuts North Korea in northeastern China, said there was not a noticeable slowdown of goods passing across the border. It is possible that there will be a crackdown on smugglers, but that has not happened yet, said an official in the Yanbian Prefecture in Jilin Province, where much of the smuggling takes place. It is doubtful that China will reinforce the United Nations sanctions by imposing penalties of its own, said Cai Jian, the deputy director of the Center for Korean Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai. The biggest element of China’s trade with North Korea is the export of oil that keeps the North Korean military going and its creaky industrial base more or less functioning. “Oil will not be cut,” Cai said. Chinese companies buy North Korean coal and iron ore, a trade that the Chinese government has encouraged and that helps North Korea by generating hard currency. Those imports are unlikely to be curbed. The extent to which China will enforce the new United Nations sanctions remains unclear, an expert on the North Korean economy, Marcus Noland of the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, wrote in a blog post. There are plenty of loopholes for China to exploit if it wanted to, he noted. The new restrictions against the North, including efforts to block the opening of North Korean banks abroad if they support weapons purchases, are limited by a “credible information” clause, Noland wrote, which allows a government to say that it lacks the information needed to assess the situation or apply the sanctions. The support of the sanctions at the United Nations are a fine balancing act by China, said Jia Qingguo, the associate dean of the School of International Studies at Peking University. China backed the new sanctions in the hope that they would be sufficient to encourage North Korea to return to the negotiating table to discuss denuclearization, but not so harsh that they would cause the North’s collapse. If that were to occur, American troops stationed in South Korea could move north and help unite the Korean Peninsula under an American umbrella, the last thing China would want, Jia said. For now, China’s position on North Korea will remain the same. “If China’s policy changes, it would be because of a North Korean provocative act,” he said, “like another nuclear test, closer to China’s borders.” (Jane Perlez, “China Says It Won’t Forsake North Korea, Despite Support for U.N. Sanctions,” New York Times, March 10, 2013, p. 19)

North Korea’s army has not carried out routine communications checks with U.S. forces for the past three days. The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea declared that the armistice would be “totally invalid” and the Panmunjom telephone link would be closed from the moment the U.S.-South Korea joint exercise begins March 11, but a USFK spokeswoman said the link may already have been out of action for several days. “We have no way of knowing if the KPA has actually disconnected the phone lines or are just not answering the phone,” she said. Exercises began March 7 but a two-week exercise of 13,500 troops will begin March 11. (Simon Mundy, “Tension Builds as N. Korea Army Breaks Contact,” Financial Times, March 9, 2013, p. 4)

Seven years of U.N. sanctions against North Korea have done nothing to derail Pyongyang’s drive for a nuclear weapon capable of hitting the United States. They may have even bolstered the ruling Kim family by giving their propaganda maestros ammunition to whip up anti-U.S. sentiment and direct attention away from government failures. In the wake of fresh U.N. sanctions leveled at North Korea for its latest nuclear test, the question is: Will this time be different? A problem with the approach, analysts say, is that outsiders routinely underestimate North Korea’s knack for survival. The sanctions are intended to make life more difficult for a country that has crushing poverty, once suffered through a devastating famine and lost its Soviet backers long ago, but Pyongyang often manages to find some advantage. While state media have not officially announced the new measures, North Korean citizens have been both defiant and dismissive about past sanctions. “The sanctions are a trigger, a confrontation,” said Kim Myong Sim, a 36-year-old who works at Pyongyang Shoe Factory. “History has shown that Korea has never even thrown a stone at America, but the U.S. still continues to have a hostile policy toward my country.” If North Koreans have “the respected general’s order, we will wipe Washington from the Earth,” she said, referring to leader Kim Jong Un. She said North Koreans have “already suffered sanctions in the past, but we have found our own way and have become self-reliant.” Sanctions “may be doing more to strengthen the regime than hasten its demise,” according to a 2011 essay by John Delury and Moon Chung In, North Korea specialists at Yonsei University. “They have generally been counterproductive by playing into Pyongyang hardliners’ argument that U.S. hostility is the root cause of North Korea’s predicament, providing an external enemy to blame for all woes and undercutting initiatives by more moderate forces in the North Korean elite who want to shift the focus more toward economic development,” Delury said in an interview yesterday. “These sanctions will bite, and bite hard,” U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said. But they may also play into Jong Un’s hands. With the outside world clamoring to punish North Korea, Kim can build the same image his late father, Kim Jong Il, looked to create — that of a strong leader developing nuclear weapons despite outrage from the U.S. superpower, said Ahn Chan Il, a political scientist who heads the World Institute for North Korea Studies in Seoul. The latest sanctions will squeeze North Korea’s already meager exports and imports, which will in turn cause pain for citizens, said Cho Bong Hyun, a research fellow at the IBK Economic Research Institute in Seoul. “North Korea’s economy faces so many difficulties already, and it can get even worse (because of the sanctions),” Cho said. A glimpse of North Korean thinking on sanctions can be seen in a wave of recent warlike threats from North Korea. Fierce language associated with the specter of yet more sanctions leveled at the North by Washington and its allies feeds into an us-against-the-world mentality. It is meant to “solidify Kim Jong Un’s leadership by creating a state of quasi-war and tension,” said Koh Yu Hwan, a North Korea expert at Seoul’s Dongguk University. Pyongyang’s dependency on Beijing has grown as sanctions have piled up. Chinese products made up only about 43 percent of North Korean imports in 2006, compared to more than 95 percent in 2012, according to data from the International Trade Center. The group, a joint agency of the U.N. and the World Trade Organization, said more than $3.5 billion in Chinese exports reached North Korea last year. Beijing’s backing for the new measures signals its growing frustration with its neighbor and ally. “In the past, we opened our eyes and closed our eyes as need be. Now we’re not closing our eyes anymore,” said Cui Yingjiu, a retired professor from Peking University in China and a former classmate of Kim Jong Il. (Associated Press, “U.N. Sanctions May Play into N. Korean Propaganda,” Japan Times, March 9, 2013)


3/10/13:
Fewer North Korean defectors entered South Korea in the first two months of this year, compared with a year earlier, Seoul’s unification ministry said. “The number of North Korean defectors who entered the country is 206 as of the end of February,” a ministry official said. The number for the first two months of this year represents 84.6 percent of the total 238 North Korean defectors who entered South Korea during the same period last year, according to data. The fall came after the country had last year the lowest number of North Korean defectors coming to South Korea in seven years. A total of 1,508 North Koreans defected from their communist country and entered South Korea for resettlement in 2012. The annual number of North Korean defectors first exceeded the 1,000-level in 2001 and stayed above the 2,000-level during the 2006-2011 period. The number had jumped to 2,929 in 2009. “The number of North Korean defectors coming to South Korea is generally lower in January and February than other months,” the ministry official said, adding the ministry may take time to determine whether the downward trend in inbound North Korean defectors that stared in early 2012 will continue into this year. Previously, the government said the downward trend is attributable to tightened security on the border with China, the main defection route, under the Kim Jong-un regime which took power after the death of late leader Kim Jong-il in December 2011. (Yonhap, “Fewer N. Korean Defectors Enter S. Korea This Year,” March 10, 2013)

South Korea imposed additional sanctions against North Korea following the United Nations Security Council’s toughened regulations to punish the North’s Feb. 12 nuclear test, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance said. South Korea put three additional North Korean officials and two entities on the blacklist, including officials from a North-based trade firm and a banker. South Korean citizens and companies making financial transactions with people and firms listed on the list must win prior approval from the Bank of Korea, the country’s central bank. (Yonhap, “S. Korea Imposes Additional Sanctions on North,” Korea Herald, March 10, 2013)


3/11/13:
North Korea severed the inter-Korean communication hotline that runs through the truce village of Panmunjom following its threat to do so last week, South Korea’s unification ministry said Monday. The ministry said the North seems to have disconnected the emergency link set up to ensure prompt two-way communication to deal with any sudden developments along the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates the two Koreas. It said attempts to contact the North by telephone at 9 a.m. failed. Despite Pyongyang following through on its pledge to sever the hotline, the unification ministry said the North is using a separate South-North military communication line to process South Korean nationals arriving and leaving the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The complex is home to 123 South Korean companies. Construction of the complex began in June 2003 with first goods being produced in late 2004. (Yonhap, “N. Korea Severs Communication Hotline with S. Korea,” Reuters, March 11, 2013)

After two Korea-U.S. joint military drills end, American vessels equipped with nuclear weapons will stay in South Korean waters to fully guarantee the U.S. “nuclear umbrella” in case North Korea attacks. A high-ranking South Korean government official told JoongAng Ilbo, “If North Korea makes a nuclear attack, retaliation can come from U.S. nuclear weapons stationed in Okinawa or Guam. But considering the time that might take, we need to have a nuclear weapon near the Korean Peninsula. “By not withdrawing U.S. weapons participating in the Korea-U.S. military exercises, we decided to let them stay a while and see what happens in North Korea,” he said. (Jeong Yong-soo and Kim Hee-jin, “U.S. Nukes to Remain in the South,” JoongAng Ilbo, March 12, 2013)

President Park Geun-hye in the first Cabinet meeting ordered solid security against North Korea’s provocation but also urged for efforts to start the trust-building process with the defiant regime. “One of the core directions for the new government is to build the foundation for peace and unification of the Korean Peninsula. While we should strongly counter any provocation by the North, we must also not stop our efforts to activate the trust-building process,” Park said in the meeting held after more than two weeks of state affairs vacuum. With regard to the reports that some military officials played golf over the weekend at a time of heightened tensions, Park insisted the Defense Ministry prevent such incident from reoccurring. Sources said Park is likely to formally appoint her defense minister-nominee Kim Byung-kwan tomorrow despite vehement opposition over his alleged ethical lapses. (Lee Joo-hee, “Park Calls for Robust Defense, Trust-Building with N. Korea,” Korea Herald, March 11, 2013)

South Korea’s new Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said, “The security situation on the Korean Peninsula for now is very grave as the unpredictability surrounding North Korea is rising following its third nuclear test.” In his inauguration speech as he officially took up the post, Yun added, “However, my aim is to turn this era of confrontation and mistrust into an era of trust and cooperation with North Korea.” (Yonhap, “Security Situation on Korean Peninsula Becomes ‘Very Grave’: FM,” March 11, 2013) South Korea seeks dialogue with the North despite rising tensions following the communist country’s third nuclear test and repeated war threats, Seoul’s new unification minister said. In an inaugural address, Ryoo Kihl-jae stressed inter-Korean talks are needed down the line even if current developments are very grave. “Holding talks is critical, and it is vitally important that both Koreas respect and adhere to past agreements such as the July 4th North-South Joint Statement signed in 1972, the June 15 Joint Declaration reached in 2000, and the Oct. 4 joint declaration agreed to in 2007,” he said. The policymaker then said that depending on future developments South Korea can examine ways to offer humanitarian support to the North, although for the time being, emphasis must be placed on strengthening the country’s defense against possible provocations. “It is hard to discuss other matters when the North is making military threats,” he pointed out, although elaborating that support for babies and socially disadvantaged people in the North can be moved forward independent of political developments. He did not elaborate on when such support would be offered. (Yonhap, “S. Korea Seeks Dialogue with N. Korea despite Tensions: Minister,” March 11, 2013)

Breakthroughs in the North’s missile and nuclear programs and fiery threats of war have heightened fears in the South that even small miscalculations by the new and untested leaders of each country could have disastrous consequences. Now this new sense of vulnerability is causing some influential South Koreans to break a decades-old taboo by openly calling for the South to develop its own nuclear arsenal, a move that would raise the stakes in what is already one of the world’s most militarized regions. While few here think this will happen anytime soon, two recent opinion polls show that two-thirds of South Koreans support the idea posed by a small but growing number of politicians and columnists — a reflection, analysts say, of hardening attitudes since North Korea’s Feb. 12 underground nuclear test, its third since 2006. “The third nuclear test was for South Korea what the Cuban missile crisis was for the U.S.,” said Han Yong-sup, a professor of security policy at the Korea National Defense University in Seoul. “It has made the North Korean threat seem very close and very real.” In recent weeks, the North has approached a crucial threshold with its weapons programs, with the successful launching of a long-range rocket, followed by the test detonation of a nuclear device that could be small enough to fit on top of a rocket. Those advances were followed by a barrage of apocalyptic threats to rain “pre-emptive nuclear strikes” and “final destruction” on Seoul, the South’s neon-drenched capital. The intensification of North Korea’s typically bellicose language shocked many South Koreans, who had thought the main target of the North’s nuclear program was the United States. Adding to South Koreans’ worries, the North and its nuclear arsenal are in the hands of a young new leader, Kim Jong-un, whose brinkmanship appears to be an effort to ensure the support of his nation’s powerful military. The South also has a new president, Park Geun-hye, the daughter of a military strongman who stood firm against North Korea, who herself also faces pressure to stand fast against the North. Just two weeks after her inauguration, Ms. Park faces a crisis as the North makes vague threats interpreted by many South Koreans as the precursor to some sort of limited, conventional military provocation. Ms. Park has promised to retaliate if her nation is attacked, aware of the public anger directed at her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, when he showed restraint after the North shelled a South Korean island in 2010, killing four people. That kind of limited skirmish is more likely than a nuclear attack, but such an episode could quickly inflame tensions and escalate out of control. But beyond the immediate fear of a military provocation, analysts say deeper anxieties are also at work in the South. One of the biggest is the creeping resurgence of old fears about the reliability of this nation’s longtime protector, the United States. Experts say the talk of South Korea’s acquiring nuclear weapons is an oblique way to voice the concerns of a small but growing number of South Koreans that the United States, either because of budget cuts or a lack of will, may one day no longer act as the South’s ultimate insurance policy. “The Americans don’t feel the North Korean nuclear weapons as a direct threat,” said Chung Mong-joon, a son of the founder of the Hyundai industrial group and the former leader of the governing party, who has been the leading proponent of South Korea’s development of a nuclear weapons program. “At a time of crisis, we are not 100 percent sure whether the Americans will cover us with its nuclear umbrella.” The United States, which still has 28,500 troops based in South Korea, has sought to assure its ally that it remains committed to the region as part of the Obama administration’s strategic “pivot” to Asia. But analysts say the fact that senior leaders like Chung and a handful of influential newspaper columnists now call for the need for “nuclear deterrence,” or at least hint at it, reflects widespread frustrations over the inability of the United States and other nations to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Until recently the idea was too radical for most mainstream leaders and opinion makers, including both deeply pro-American conservatives and nationalistic yet antinuclear liberals. Advocacy for a nuclear-armed South Korea has been virtually taboo since the early 1970s, when the country’s military dictator, Park Chung-hee, made a serious bid to develop a nuclear weapon, fearing that the United States might pull out of Asia after its defeat in Vietnam. After catching wind of the program, Washington forced Park, the new president’s father, to stop, persuading him instead to rely on the United States, an agreement that has held ever since. Chung and others say that if the United States does not allow South Korea to develop its own nuclear arms, it should at least restore the nuclear balance on the Korean Peninsula by reintroducing American atomic weapons, which were removed from bases in the South in 1991 in a post-cold-war effort to reduce tensions. Many in the South are now convinced that the North may never give up its nuclear weapons. The South’s new level of anxiety is also apparent in the widespread speculation here about when and where the North might carry out another, non-nuclear military provocation. North Korea has stoked those fears by saying that it will drop out of the 60-year-old armistice that ended the Korean War, in a show of anger at new United Nations sanctions for its nuclear test. North Korea has threatened to terminate the armistice in the past, but the greater worry now is that it might take actions to contravene it. There have been cryptic warnings in North Korea’s state-run news media of coming “counteractions,” which have led South Korean officials to warn of an episode like the bombardment of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010. On March 8, North Korea’s state-run television showed Kim addressing the same artillery units that hit Yeonpyeong. On the same day, South Korean television stations showed President Park with heavily decorated generals, and later descending into the bunker at the Blue House to confer with her national security advisers. The opposition parties had blocked the confirmation of her cabinet, raising concerns about her ability to respond to a crisis, but she reached a deal allowing her to fill crucial posts today. Even many on the left said that the country would quickly pull together if shots were fired. “The third test was a wake-up call for the left, too,” said Lee Kang-yun, a television commentator. Two opinion polls conducted after the third test, one by Gallup Korea and the other by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, found that 64 to 66.5 percent of the respondents supported South Korea’s developing its own nuclear weapons, similar to polls after the Yeonpyeong attack in 2010. “Having a nuclear North Korea is like facing a person holding a gun with just your bare hands,” said Kwon Gi-yoon, 38, an engineer. South Koreans should have “our own nuclear capabilities, in case the U.S. pulls out like it did in Vietnam.” (Martin Fackler and Choe Sang-hun, “As North Korea Blusters, Seoul Flirts with Nuclear Talk,” New York Times, March 11, 2013, p. A-1)

A UN human rights monitor on Monday accused North Korea of committing a string of crimes against humanity, laying out a litany of abuses before the world body’s top rights forum. “The violations in the DPRK have reached a critical mass,” Marzuki Darusman told the UN Human Rights Council. Darusman said that he had identified nine areas of key concern, among them depriving the population of food, torture, arbitrary detention and the secretive regime’s denial of freedom of expression. “I believe that many, if not all, of the nine patterns of violation, identified in my present report, may amount to crimes against humanity, committed as part of systematic and or widespread attacks against civilian population,” Darusman, who hails from Indonesia, told the Council as he presented a report on the situation in North Korea. He also highlighted concerns about a network of political prison camps believed to hold at least 200,000 people, including detainees who were born in captivity because entire families are thought to have been sent there. “I also believe that grave human rights violations in the prison camps or even the mere existence of such camps, with slave-like conditions for political prisoners, may qualify as crimes against humanity,” Darusman said. Barred from actually visiting the remote nation, Darusman reports on the situation in part by speaking to North Koreans who have managed to flee, though Pyongyang’s power to silence extends beyond its closely-guarded border. “Concerns about reprisals, including against family members who are left behind in the country, make it difficult for individual victims to come forward with certain details of the abuses that they had to endure,” the UN monitor said. He called for an international commission of inquiry into the human rights record of North Korea, which repeatedly has refused to cooperate with Darusman and past UN investigators. “There’s been a change in style in North Korea,” said the US special envoy for North Korean human rights, Robert King. “But what we’re interested in seeing is whether there has been a change in substance,” he told reporters in Geneva. North Korean delegate Kim Ju-song claimed Darusman was in league with “hostile forces”, citing Japan, the EU and the US. “We make it clear again. The human rights violations identified in this report do no exist,” Kim told the Council. “The government of the DPRK will continue to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of its people.” North Korea won support at the Council from China, whose delegate warned that creating a commission of inquiry could “escalate tensions” on the Korean Peninsula. Other nations including Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Vietnam and Syria also criticized the plan, calling for dialogue and accusing the West of double standards. (Jonathan Fowler, “U.N. Monitor Accuses N. Korea of Crimes against Humanity,” AFP, March 11, 2013)

NSA Donilon: “For sixty years, the United States has been committed to ensuring peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. This means deterring North Korean aggression and protecting our allies. And it means the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state; nor will we stand by while it seeks to develop a nuclear-armed missile that can target the United States. The international community has made clear that there will be consequences for North Korea’s flagrant violation of its international obligations, as the UN Security Council did again unanimously just last week in approving new sanctions in response to the North’s recent provocative nuclear test. U.S. policy toward North Korea rests on four key principles: First, close and expanded cooperation with Japan and South Korea. The unity that our three countries have forged in the face of North Korea’s provocations-unity reaffirmed by President Park and Prime Minister Abe -is as crucial to the search for a diplomatic solution as it is to deterrence. The days when North Korea could exploit any seams between our three governments are over. And let me add that the prospects for a peaceful resolution also will require close U.S. coordination with China’s new government. We believe that no country, including China, should conduct “business as usual” with a North Korea that threatens its neighbors. China’s interest in stability on the Korean Peninsula argues for a clear path to ending North Korea’s nuclear program. We welcome China’s support at the UN Security Council and its continued insistence that North Korea completely, verifiably and irreversibly abandon its WMD and ballistic missile programs. Second, the United States refuses to reward bad North Korean behavior. The United States will not play the game of accepting empty promises or yielding to threats. As former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates has said, we won’t buy the same horse twice. We have made clear our openness to authentic negotiations with North Korea. In return, however, we’ve only seen provocations and extreme rhetoric. To get the assistance it desperately needs and the respect it claims it wants, North Korea will have to change course. Otherwise, the United States will continue to work with allies and partners to tighten national and international sanctions to impede North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Today, the Treasury Department is announcing the imposition of U.S. sanctions against the Foreign Trade Bank of North Korea, the country’s primary foreign exchange bank, for its role in supporting North Korea’s WMD program. By now it is clear that the provocations, escalations and poor choices of North Korea’s leaders are not only making their country less secure — they are condemning their people to a level of poverty that stands in stark contrast not only to South Korea, but every other country in East Asia. Third, we unequivocally reaffirm that the United States is committed to the defense of our homeland and our allies. Recently, North Korean officials have made some highly provocative statements. North Korea’s claims may be hyperbolic — but as to the policy of the United States, there should be no doubt: we will draw upon the full range of our capabilities to protect against, and to respond to, the threat posed to us and to our allies by North Korea. This includes not only any North Korean use of weapons of mass destruction-but also, as the President made clear, their transfer of nuclear weapons or nuclear materials to other states or non-state entities. Such actions would be considered a grave threat to the United States and our allies and we will hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences. Finally, the United States will continue to encourage North Korea to choose a better path. As he has said many times, President Obama came to office willing to offer his hand to those who would unclench their fists. The United States is prepared to help North Korea develop its economy and feed its people-but it must change its current course. The United States is prepared to sit down with North Korea to negotiate and to implement the commitments that they and the United States have made. We ask only that Pyongyang prove its seriousness by taking meaningful steps to show it will abide by its commitments, honor its words, and respect international law. Anyone who doubts the President’s commitment needs look no further than Burma, where new leaders have begun a process of reform. President Obama’s historic visit to Rangoon is proof of our readiness to start transforming a relationship marked by hostility into one of greater cooperation. Burma has already received billions in debt forgiveness, large-scale development assistance, and an influx of new investment. While the work of reform is ongoing, Burma has already broken out of isolation and opened the door to a far better future for its people in partnership with its neighbors and with the United States. And, as President Obama said in his speech to the people of Burma, we will continue to stand with those who continue to support rights, democracy and reform. So I urge North Korea’s leaders to reflect on Burma’s experience.” (National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon, Remarks to the Asia Society, March 11, 2013)


3/12/13:
The U.S. does not want to deploy a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier for joint military exercises with South Korea that began on March 1 as Seoul had hoped, despite escalating tension on the Korean Peninsula. Washington apparently feels that a cautious, level-headed response to increasingly belligerent threats from North Korea is the best strategy.

Just after the North’s latest nuclear test, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said he would ask the U.S. to deploy a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to the drills. Seoul and Washington are also apparently at odds over a joint military response to any North Korean provocation. The two countries were originally scheduled to sign off in January on the deal, but it has been delayed for months now. “We aim to strike not only the source of North Korean provocations, but also supporting forces and command, but the U.S. wants to focus on preventing an escalation,” said a researcher at a state-run think tank here. (Chosun Ilbo, “U.S., China Resist Tough Response to N. Korean Threats,” March 12, 2013)

North Korea’s daily threats of war are part of its psychological tactics to pressure South Korea and the United States to change their policy on Pyongyang and unite its own people, Seoul’s defense ministry said. “North Korea has consistently and blatantly issued a series of bellicose warnings of provocations, which are seen as an attempt to put psychological pressure on South Korea,” ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said in a briefing. The North has made some residents near border areas live in underground shelters and prepare emergency food rations, and covered buses in the capital city of Pyongyang with camouflage nets to create a “war-like atmosphere,” Kim said. Recent coverage of Kim Jong-un’s front-line military inspections near the western sea border and the military chief’s visit to the border village of Panmunjom in the past days are also part of the psychological tactics, Kim said. “Currently, signs of provocations have not been detected. I’m saying this so people don’t get swayed by North Korea’s psychological tactics,” Kim said, adding additional nuclear tests or a long-range missile launch are not likely to happen for the time being. “It is believed that North Korea tries to unite its people through a series of military and political activities, while pressuring South Korea and the U.S. to change their policy on the North in light of the U.N. sanctions,” Kim said.

North Korea’s military is preparing a large scale drill involving all three services later this month, which is expected to be attended by Kim Jong-un, Kim said. “As these drills could lead to provocations, we are closely monitoring North Korea’s military,” Kim said. (Kim Eun-jung, “N. Korea’s War Threats Are Psychological Tactics: Seoul,” Yonhap, March 12, 2013)

DCI Threat Briefing: “North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs pose a serious threat to the United States and to the security environment in East Asia, a region with some of the world’s largest populations, militaries, and economies. North Korea’s export of ballistic missiles and associated materials to several countries, including Iran and Syria, and its assistance to Syria’s construction of a nuclear reactor, destroyed in 2007, illustrate the reach of its proliferation activities. Despite the Six-Party Joint Statements issued in 2005 and 2007, in which North Korea reaffirmed its commitment not to transfer nuclear materials, technology, or know-how, we remain alert to the possibility that North Korea might again export nuclear technology. North Korea announced on 12 February that it conducted its third nuclear test. It has also displayed what appears to be a road-mobile ICBM and in December 2012 placed a satellite in orbit using its Taepo Dong 2 launch vehicle. These programs demonstrate North Korea’s commitment to develop long-range missile technology that could pose a direct threat to the United States, and its efforts to produce and market ballistic missiles raise broader regional and global security concerns. Because of deficiencies in their conventional military forces, North Korean leaders are focused on deterrence and defense. The Intelligence Community has long assessed that, in Pyongyang’s view, its nuclear capabilities are intended for deterrence, international prestige, and coercive diplomacy. We do not know Pyongyang’s nuclear doctrine or employment concepts. Although we assess with low confidence that the North would only attempt to use nuclear weapons against US forces or allies to preserve the Kim regime, we do not know what would constitute, from the North’s perspective, crossing that threshold. … Kim Jong Un has quickly consolidated power since taking over as leader of North Korea when his father, Kim Jong Il, died in December 2011. Kim has publicly focused on improving the country’s troubled economy and the livelihood of the North Korean people, but we have yet to see any signs of serious economic reform. North Korea maintains a large, conventional military force held in check by the more powerful South Korean-US military alliance. Nevertheless, the North Korean military is well postured to conduct limited attacks with little or no warning, such as the 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship and the artillery bombardment of a South Korean island along the Northern Limit Line.” (DCI James R. Clapper, Worldwide Treat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, March 12, 2013)

“The rhetoric, while it is propaganda laced, is also an indicator of their attitude and perhaps their intent,” Clapper said during one exchange with a lawmaker, adding that he was concerned that North Korea “could initiate a provocative action against the South.” (Mark Mazetti and David E. Sanger, “Security Chief Says Cyberattacks Will Meet with Retaliation,” New York Times, March 13, 2013, p. A-4)

North Korea’s air force has sharply increased jet fighter training flights in the past few days, with the number of sorties reaching as many as 700 on the day South Korea and the United States launched a joint war game earlier this week, a military source in Seoul said Wednesday. The North’s move is seen as part of efforts to beef up combat readiness and to closely monitor joint drills in the South that began on Monday. The drill, called Key Resolve, involves about 10,000 Korean troops and 3,000 American personnel as well as military weapons and equipment, including F-22 stealth jets and B-52 bombers deployed from overseas U.S. bases. “Flights of the North Korean air force’s fighter jets and helicopters reached about 700 sorties on March 11,” the source said on the condition of anonymity. “It is seen as unprecedented in scale.” The recent sortie is nearly six times more than the maximum number of flights in a day during last year’s summer training, the source said. The impoverished nation is known to have restricted flying time to save hard currency as its fighter jets depend on imported fuel. North Korea is believed to have accumulated about 1.5 tons of fuel for wartime use, according to military officials. The latest move comes as the communist nation is preparing a mass military drill along its eastern coast, and activities of submarines and warships have also increased along its east and west coasts. Recent satellite imagery shows no sign North Korea is readying another long-range rocket launch within the next month or another nuclear test, a U.S. research institute said Tuesday. North Korea has previously announced it would conduct more rocket launches and has also hinted at a follow-up to its Feb. 12 atomic test. Very little is going on at the Sohae site on the west coast from where a satellite was launched in December, according to an analysis written for 38 North, the website of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. There has been recent activity at the older Tonghae launch site on its northeast coast, although it’s unclear to what end. Joel Wit, the 38 North editor and a former State Department official, said that as of end February, aerial photos also showed no indications of another nuclear test ― although preparations for such an underground blast are more tricky to detect. “While inter-Korean rhetoric is heating up,” Wit said, “Pyongyang is unlikely to do anything provocative in the near-term” at least in terms of testing its weapons of mass destruction. (Korea Herald, “N.K. Sharply Ups Jet Fighter Activity,” March 13, 2013)

South Korea’s foreign ministry said that an Armistice Agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War remains valid, despite the North’s threats to scrap the cease-fire deal. “The terms of the Armistice Agreement cannot be unilaterally invalid or terminated,” foreign ministry spokesman Cho Tai-young said, demanding North Korea withdraw the threats. (Yonhap, “S. Korea Warns N. Korea Not to Scrap Korean War Armistice,” March 12, 2013)

South Korea’s unification ministry said Tuesday that it wants to ensure the safety of its citizens working at the Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea and has set up a contingency plan to deal with sudden developments. “In light of grave developments, top priority has been placed on ensuring the safety of South Korean nationals at the industrial park,” said a ministry official. “The representative office has been told to immediately contact Seoul in case of strange behavior by North Koreans,” he said. Despite the concerns, the North has so far kept open the military communication link with the South that is used to permit movement of people and vehicles over the demilitarized zone (DMZ). This is in contrast to the severing of the communication links at the truce village of Panmunjom. “All movements across the DMZ are moving without a hitch,” he said. The ministry source, meanwhile, said that Seoul is currently in the process of working with other countries to implement the UNSC sanctions and not thinking of carrying out independent actions of its own. “Slapping more sanctions will depend on what actions are taken by the North down the line,” he said. He pointed out that Seoul already has one of the most rigorous sanctions slapped on the North, which was given for the sinking of a South Korean warship in the Yellow Sea in March 2010. Seoul currently bans all contact and exchange with the North with the exception of the Kaesong complex. He added that Seoul remains open to offering humanitarian assistance to the North that could push forward trust building, between the two countries, but made clear no specific plans have been laid down because Pyongyang is currently taking steps to fuel tensions by unilaterally nullifying the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War (1950-53), and all past non-aggression pacts signed between South and North Korea. (Yonhap, “Gov’t Wants to Ensure Safety of S. Korean Nationals in Kaesong,” March 12, 2013)


3/13/13:
Obama interview: “STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me ask you about North Korea. Seen a lotta belligerent behavior from the- OBAMA: Yeah. Yeah. -regime in recent days. Canceled the 1953 armistice. And your director of national intelligence James Clapper told Capitol Hill today for the first time did North Korea and nuclear weapons and missiles pose a serious threat to the United States. STEPHANOPOULOS: So, can North Korea now make good on its threat to hit the United States? OBAMA: They- they probably can’t, but we don’t like margin of error, right, when it comes to- STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s that close? OBAMA: Well, and I don’t th- it’s not that close. But what is true is, is they’ve had nuclear weapons since well before I came into office. What’s also true is missile technology improves and their missile technology has improved. Now, what we’ve done is we’ve made sure that we’ve got defensive measures to prevent- any attacks on the homeland. And we’re not anticipating any of that. But we’ve seen outta the North Koreans is they go through these periodic spasms of- of provocative behavior. STEPHANOPOULOS: Is this one more serious? OBAMA: Well- I don’t necessarily think it’s different in kind. They’ve all been serious. Because when you’re talking about a regime that- is oppressive towards its people, is belligerent- has shown itself to sometimes miscalculate and do things that are very dangerous- that’s always a problem. And, so, we’ve s- what we’ve done is organized the world community to strengthen sanctions, to sink- strengthen unilateral sanctions on- North Korea. I think what’s most promising is we’re startin’ to see the Chinese, who historically have- tolerated misbehavior on the part of the North Koreans because they’re worried about- regime collapse and how that could spill over to them. You’re startin’ to see them recalculate and say, “You know what? This is startin’ to get outta hand.” And, so, we may slowly be in a position where we’re able to force- a recalculation on the part of North Koreans about what’s gonna be– STEPHANOPOULOS: Is there anything more you- OBAMA: -good for them and not — STEPHANOPOULOS: -can be doing directly? The last American to see Kim Jong Un, Dennis Rodman. I had (LAUGH) the pleasure of talking to him a couple weeks ago- OBAMA: Yeah, I noticed that STEPHANOPOULOS: -a little crazy. But he did say that Kim Jong Un said, “Boy, I want the president to call me.” Back in 2007, you were for a direct- BARACK OBAMA: Right. STEPHANOPOULOS: -talk, you said you were for with the North Koreans. Would it make any sense now, one? If not, why not? OBAMA: You- you- you know, I think that- you always wanna create the conditions where if you have a conversation, it’s actually useful. And, you know, we’re not the only players in this. Obviously, the South Koreans- the Chinese- all the six-party talk players- need to be involved in how you resolve this. And, you know, we communicate with the North Koreans. They know- what our bottom lines are. What we’ve said is we want a denuclearized peninsula. You know, we’ve gotta stop with these kinds of provocative threats. And we’re prepared to work with them where they could break their isolation and- rejoin the- STEPHANOPOULOS: What do you need to see first? OBAMA: -international community. Well- I mean, I think there are a lot of things. But they could start by- ending nuclear testing. They could start by ending some of this missile testing. There are- a whole s- battery of- of confidence-building measures that they could engage in. And I think all the countries involved have said, “We would reciprocate if we saw- the- any kind of responsible behavior from the North Koreans. We have not seen it yet.” That doesn’t mean that- they may not- change their calculations. One thing we’ve tried to do is to make sure that we’re not gonna reward bad behavior. There previously have been patterns where, you know, they bang the spoon on the table and then suddenly they get food aid. Or- they get other concessions. And then they come back to the table and negotiate a little bit, and then if they get bored they start- provocative actions again. We’ve broken that pattern. Now, what we need to see is- is whether they’re willin’ to come- in a serious way to negotiate these issues. (ABC News, Transcript: President Obama’s Exclusive Interview with George Stephanopoulos, March 13, 2013)

During an interview with ABC, President Barack Obama was asked what needs to happen before dialogue with North Korea can take place. One remark by Obama that is attracting particular interest is his revelation that he is willing to join talks if North Korea does not make any further provocations, such as nuclear weapons tests or missile launches. This can be seen as indicating that the U.S. has greatly lowered or effectively removed the preconditions for dialogue. During Obama’s first term in office, the US made it difficult for talks to get off the ground by imposing tricky preconditions such as requiring that Pyongyang shut down its nuclear facilities or that authorities in Seoul and Pyongyang sit down at the table first, and the country at times seemed to avoid responding to the North because of “strategic patience.” “It is as if Obama publicly confirmed the remarks made last week by US Secretary of State John Kerry, who urged for a peaceful resolution to be sought through negotiations,” said Kim Chang-soo, policy coordinator for the Korea Peace Forum. “This could serve as a framework for a new North Korea policy during Obama’s second term.” However, a senior official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade suggested that Obama’s comments should not be interpreted as a change in U.S. policy toward North Korea. “With North Korea raising the tenor of its threatening rhetoric, Obama’s comments must be viewing as being aimed at checking Pyongyang,” the official said. The Chinese, who had put up North Korean misbehavior because of concern that the regime in Pyongyang might collapse, are starting to rethink the situation, Obama said, identifying this as a “promising” factor. Stephanopoulos just 10 days earlier interviewed former NBA player Dennis Rodman, who visited North Korea in March. During that interview, Rodman recalled that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had said he wanted Obama to phone him. Considering this background, there is some speculation that Obama took part in this interview to send a personal message to Kim. Obama acknowledged that he was aware of what Rodman said in the interview. (Park Hyun, “In TV Interview, Obama Alludes to Dialogue with North Korea,” Hankyore, March 15, 2013)

Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces of the DPRK National Defense Commission spokesman’s statement: “The Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army on March 5 stated to the world the resolute determination of the army and people of the DPRK in the face of the anti-DPRK hostile acts that have become all the more undisguised on the part of the U.S. and other hostile forces. The south Korean military warmongers have not yet come to their senses and are still going reckless. On March 6, the puppet Joint Chiefs of Staff let the chief of its operation headquarters call for “punishing” even “commanding forces”, to say nothing of “bases” and “reinforcements” by mobilizing military means if the DPRK commences actions. On March 8, the puppet Ministry of Defense also got its spokesman to dare hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership of the north and bluster that “it would remove the north’s regime from the the earth in reflection of the will of mankind” if the nuclear-armed north launches an all-out action. Defense Minister nominee Kim Pyong Gwan, who will replace military hooligan Kim Kwan Jin, also said that they will counter the north’s all-out action with “regime change or toppling of its regime including psychological warfare.” This frenzy kicked up by the south Korean warmongers is no way irrelevant with the swish of skirt made by the owner of Chongwadae. Ill-boding voices are being heard from the inner room of Chongwadae. They call for maintaining a high alert posture for “security,” saying that “a country can not be protected only with weapons” and “a country concentrating on beefing up military muscle only including nuclear weapons will bring about its own destruction.” Matter is that all these developments are timed to coincide with the U.S.-south Korea Key Resolve and Foal Eagle nuclear war rehearsals that have got into full swing. The DPRK cannot interpret those moves otherwise than a repetition of the long bankrupt confrontation stance of the Lee Myung Bak regime and an expression of utter ignorance of the precious asset of the nation. An army of the nation and people possessed of nuclear weapons can always win a victory in the struggle against formidable enemies and reliably guarantee the grandeur and security of the country. This is a stark reality unfolded by the world where the law of the jungle governs and a bitter lesson drawn by the DPRK in the decades-long arduous confrontation with the U.S. They, however, cried out for “abandoning nuclear weapons,” the asset of which the nation can be proud before the world, and “giving up Songun” aimed at preserving peace on this land from outside forces’ aggression and war moves in disregard of this stark reality. These are little short of jargons made by the idiots who lack any ability to judge the reality. The DPRK launched an all-out action to foil the war moves of the robbers attacking in groups in order to violate the sovereignty of the nation, but the south Korean trigger-happy forces painted it as “provocation”. Not content with this, they are working hard to deprive the DPRK of its nukes built to defend the country and the nation. This amounts to a thrice-cursed act of treachery. The people and servicepersons of south Korea must turn their rifles on the warmongers in response to the just all-out action of the DPRK, well aware that the sovereignty of the country and the destiny of the nation can never be left to such traitors to the nation. What they are doing is an anachronistic act of treachery as they are blindly following the brigandish assertion of their U.S. master keen to put the whole country and the nation under its control, unable to discern what is justice, what is injustice and what is hypocrisy. Whatever the U.S. and other big powers decide, resorting to high-handed and arbitrary practices, can by no means be justice. Whatever resolutions the UN Security Council adopts cannot be truth as it is a mere voting machine bereft of impartiality and equity. Injustice and lies can never become justice and truth and their hypocrisy is bound to be revealed in face of the times and history. The DPRK army and people’s unyielding struggle to protect the sovereignty of the nation and the right to existence and defend its supreme interests is the just one as proved by history and the truth indicated by the times. They have had access to precision nuclear deterrence that has become diversified, tightening their belts, and chosen the arduous road of Songun out of many other alternatives. It is because herein lie justice and truth. The south Korean military warmongers can not understand the reality because they are traitors engrossed in sycophancy toward the U.S. A man who takes to flunkeyism is bound to become an idiot and a nation that turns to flunkeyism is bound to ruin. This is the law proven by long human history. The DPRK’s army and people will not remain an onlooker to the south Korean warmongers’ disgraceful act of transferring the wartime operation control, life and soul of the army, to the U.S. and offering the soldiers as canon fodder to their master. That’s why the DPRK chose the U.S. and the south Korean military warmongers following it as the major target of the all-out action for defending the sovereignty and the first target of merciless strike. The warmongers would be well advised to keep in mind that the Armistice Agreement is no longer valid and the DPRK is not restrained by the north-south declaration on non-aggression. What is left to be done now is an action of justice and merciless retaliation of the army and people of the DPRK. The south Korean puppet forces should come to their senses.” (KCNA, “Armed Forces Ministry Blasts S. Korean Warmongers,” March 13, 2013)

Rodong Sinmun: The DPRK’s step to completely halt the activities of the Panmunjom mission of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) is a decisive option to mercilessly foil the moves of the hostile forces, says Rodong Sinmun in a bylined article. It goes on: “The mission is a negotiating mechanism which the army of the DPRK tentatively established and operated in order to establish a peace-keeping mechanism on the Korean Peninsula. The moves of the U.S. and its south Korean puppet regime for a war of aggression have virtually reduced the Korean Armistice Agreement to a dead paper. It is natural to cut the DPRK-U.S. military hotline in Panmunjom as there is no need for the former to be bound to the agreement and talking does not work on the war maniacs. The DPRK’s option has become clear now that the bellicose forces have entered a full-scale phase of implementation in their moves to realize their scenario for invading it, in violation of its sovereignty and dignity. It is necessary to eliminate everything lying in the way of starting a just war, revolutionary war to counter a war of aggression. It is the firm stand of the DPRK to deal limitless blows of justice at any target as it pleases at any place any time, free from any restriction, and accomplish the great cause for national reunification, the cherished desire of the nation. The second and third strong countermeasures to be taken by the DPRK will strikingly demonstrate its tremendous military power and they will be steps to be taken in advance to root out the source of confrontation and war on the Korean Peninsula and victoriously conclude the great war for national reunification. It is very just for the DPRK to bolster up its nuclear deterrent both in quality and quantity for lasting peace and stability on the peninsula.” (KCNA, “Rodong Sinmun on Halt to Activities of Panmunjom Mission of KPA,” March 13, 2013)

Crisis Group: “North Korea has taken a number of recent steps that raise the risks of miscalculation, inadvertent escalation and deadly conflict on the Korean peninsula. On 12 December, it launched a small satellite into orbit in defiance of UN Security Council Resolutions 1695, 1718 and 1874. The Council condemned this in Resolution 2087 (22 January). Three weeks later, Pyongyang conducted its third underground nuclear explosion. In response, the Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2094 (7 March) condemning the test and expanding economic sanctions. This was preceded by multiple vitriolic threats from the North. While none of this is unprecedented, the danger of unintended consequences has increased considerably. All sides need to issue more reassuring statements, exercise caution during planned military exercises and, especially, the North must avoid further blatant disregard of its international obligations. The North’s threats had slight nuances and different audiences. The military’s main target was the U.S.-South Korea alliance and the UN Command (UNC) as they begin large combined exercises in the South. It declared the Security Council actions hostile and the annual U.S.-South Korean combined military exercises “the most dangerous nuclear war maneuvers targeted against the [North]”. The North’s army said it would take practical (but undefined) counter-actions, no longer recognize the 1953 Korean War Armistice as of 11 March, shut down operations at the Joint Security Area in Panmunjŏm and cut off the telephone line to the UNC. The televised statement also declared that all armed forces, including reserves and the Strategic Rocket Forces, were prepared to act according to an “operational plan signed by Kim Jŏng-ŭn” and that the army was ready to counter even a nuclear attack with a “diversified precision nuclear strike of Korean style.” The foreign ministry’s statement was aimed at the Security Council and particularly the U.S. and South Korea, currently a Council member. While mostly repetitive, confusion was caused by the headline accompanying the official news agency’s English version: “Second Korean War Is Unavoidable: DPRK FM Spokesman.” The Korean could be better (if a little tortuously) translated: “DPRK Foreign Ministry Spokesman’s Clarification of the Extreme Hardline Position Related to the Current Situation whereby a Second Korean War is Difficult to Avoid.” The statement declared that “if the Americans light the fuse of a nuclear war, the revolutionary forces will exercise the right to execute a pre-emptive nuclear attack against the headquarters of the invaders”. World media reported this as threatening a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the U.S., but it should be interpreted to mean the North is prepared to retaliate with nuclear weapons against a conventional military attack from the UNC in Seoul. The foreign ministry’s message was that sanctions will not work, pressure is counterproductive, and the world should recognize the North as a nuclear weapons state.[?] Pyongyang was displeased with China’s support of 2094 and is also trying to signal that the regional security important to Beijing’s development goals will suffer if it implements the sanctions. Meanwhile, the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea issued a statement renouncing all inter-Korean non-aggression agreements, including the 1992 “Basic Agreement” and the Korean War Armistice, and declaring that the inter-Korean Red Cross liaison office at Panmunjŏm would be closed. The target audience was South Korea, aiming to challenge new President Park Geun-hye and undermine domestic support for the U.S. alliance. The rhetoric was matched in the South. On 6 March, the Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman said, more assertively than ever before, that Seoul would respond strongly to provocation, not only directly but also at the command leadership. The defense minister nominee said the South was prepared for every military contingency, including all-out war to topple the Pyongyang regime. The North’s measures are partly timed to coincide with annual major military exercises in South Korea. Foal Eagle, a joint and combined U.S.-South Korea field exercise (1 March-30 April) includes about 10,000 U.S. troops, mostly from outside the peninsula. Key Resolve (11-21 March) includes some 3,000 from the U.S. and South Korea and a few from the UK, Australia, Canada, Colombia and Denmark. Swedish and Swiss representatives from the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission are monitoring armistice compliance. The UNC notified the North on 21 February, but Pyongyang always declines invitations to observe. These coincide with large joint exercises in the North. Pyongyang has declared sea/air exclusion zones on both coasts expected to last until the end of March. These zones and reports of mobile missile deployments indicate a possible live-fire missile test. This is the seventh North Korean renunciation of the 1953 armistice. If it is no longer in force, it means a formal return to wartime conditions but not that an attack is imminent. However, it raises the risk of miscalculation and escalation of incidents. There would be no written agreement constraining either side from new military operations, such as the North’s three statements threatened. Pyongyang is signaling willingness to accept high risks apparently in belief it has greater resolve than South Korea, the U.S. and the international community. It is trying to respond to condemnation with its own pressure in the hope Seoul, Washington, Beijing and others will tire of heightened tensions, especially if the situation begins to undermine the international economy. The leadership, since it does not face the same accountability as the democratic South, might possibly feel it has an advantage in a game of brinkmanship. There are also two trip wires that would warn it of going too far or that an attack against the North was in preparation: roughly 700 South Koreans at the Kaesŏng Industrial Complex (KIC) just north of the Military Demarcation Line; and tens of thousand U.S. civilians in South Korea. If major military action were considered imminent, both governments would remove their citizens from harm’s way. Whatever brinkmanship advantage Pyongyang believes it has is balanced by risks. Military action, even heightened tensions, could damage the North’s already parlous economy, producing unintended consequences for the regime. Following the North’s artillery attack against the South in November 2010, war fears among North Koreans leading to food hoarding and financial upset were reported. The economy is not immune to confidence shocks, especially entering a season of depleted food stocks. Food insecurity is worsened by a steep decline in food aid since the December satellite launch. After its disastrous 2009 currency reform, there were reports of dissent and unprecedented official apologies. Tightening sanctions, worsening food insecurity, and bellicose state behavior could have negative economic effects that could just possibly impact regime stability and predictability. Mutual deterrence remains robust, but the threat of miscalculation and inadvertent escalation has risen considerably. In a worst-case scenario, retaliatory responses to an accident during either side’s military exercises or a deliberate military provocation could lead rapidly to war with potential first-day casualties in the hundreds of thousands. Even if further escalation is averted, the North’s actions likely will have negative effects on its economy and worsening food insecurity.” (Crisis Group, “The Korean Peninsula: Flirting with Conflict,” March 13, 2013)


3/14/13:
DPRK FoMin spokesman: “The Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army announced that the AA will be totally nullified from March 11 when the U.S. nuclear war exercises aimed to stifle the DPRK get into full swing. Accordingly the army and people of the DPRK turned out in an all-out action for foiling the U.S. moves aimed at a nuclear war and reunifying the country at an early date, completely unrestrained by AA. But the U.S. and its allies are asserting that AA was adopted with mutual agreement and can not be dissolved unilaterally. This shows a sleight of hand they have employed to use the threadbare AA for escaping the DPRK’s toughest counteraction. Unlike other agreements, AA is not one that requires bilateral agreement to be rendered invalid from its peculiar nature and it will be naturally nullified if one side does not abide by it. AA has long been invalid due to the systematic scrapping of it by the U.S. and the unreasonable behavior of the UN Security Council that backed the U.S. moves for the last six decades. Armistice could remain though in name only because the DPRK exercised utmost self-restraint and patience. The U.S. and the south Korean puppet forces are now holding Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military drills to light a fuse for a nuclear war with the involvement of huge aggression troops, the biggest violation of AA and an act of scrapping it. Under the prevailing situation which is little different from a war in fact, the DPRK can no longer be bound to AA. This is a stark reality in which AA is no longer valid. The U.S. will have to hold full responsibility for scrapping and finally nullifying AA, in case the situation entails a catastrophic consequence on the Korean Peninsula.” (KCNA, “FM Spokesman Hits out at U.S. for Contending AA Can’t Be Dissolved Unilaterally,” March 14, 2013)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supervised a live artillery drill close to a disputed sea border with South Korea, KCNA reported, in the latest sign of increased tensions between the two Koreas. KCNA did not specify when the drill took place. Kim praised the artillery units on two islands after watching them hit targets, in what KCNA described as the “biggest hotspots in the southwestern sector of the front”, in practice for striking at two South Korean islands. (David Chance, “North Korea’s Leader Oversees Artillery Fire near Disputed Islands,” Reuters, March 14, 2013)

The North Koreans, masters of outrageous propaganda, no doubt picked their phrase carefully for the South’s first female president. “Swish of skirt” was long an insult in Korean culture, directed at women deemed too aggressive, far from the traditional ideal of docile and coy. “North Korea is taunting and testing her,” said Choi Jin, head of the Institute of Presidential Leadership in Seoul. “It’s an important test for her at home, too. People supported her for being a strong leader, but they also have a lingering doubt about whether their first female president will be as good in national security as she sounds.” The North Korean news media also reported today that its leader, Kim Jong-un, supervised a live artillery drill near the disputed western sea border, the site of recent skirmishes. Several analysts said that the North Koreans — who have held on to their patriarchal traditions even as the South has rapidly become more egalitarian — are aware of Park’s reputation. The North got a direct glimpse of her in 2002, when she traveled to meet Kim Jong-il. “I don’t think her gender is a disadvantage,” said Yoo Ho-yeol, a North Korea specialist at Korea University. “The North Koreans know that she is not an easy woman, or an easy female leader, to deal with.” But Andrei Lankov, a North Korea scholar at Kookmin University in Seoul, is less convinced. He called the North “a deeply patriarchal culture where women are believed to be generally unsuitable for any position of power and influence.” “Hence,” he said, “they might assume that President Park is weak and irrational.” Her top national security adviser, the former Defense Minister Kim Jang-soo, is remembered for skipping the Korean custom of bowing when he met Kim Jong-il, then North Korea’s leader, in 2007. “She seems to surround herself with former generals to cover herself from any doubt that she might be weak in national security,” said Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korean expert at Dongguk University in Seoul. The test of her resolve would come if the North Koreans, vexed by tough new international sanctions, launch some limited strike on border islands or South Korean naval ships, as many analysts suspect might happen. But few believe she will hold back from a strong but limited response, because she knows her history. Her predecessor was criticized for what many considered a weak response to the artillery barrage of a South Korean island in 2010 that killed four people. (Choe Sang-hun, “Sexist Taunt from North Korea Raises Gender Issue for the South’s New Leader,” New York Times, March 15, 2013, p. A-12)

Expectations of a significant change in China’s approach toward North Korea are growing among U.S. officials and experts, especially with the election of Beijing’s new president, Xi Jinping. “You’re starting to see them recalculate and say, ‘You know what? this is starting to get out of hand,” President Barack Obama said in an interview with ABC News earlier this week. “And, so, we may slowly be in a position where we’re able to force a recalculation on the part of North Koreans,” he added without elaborating. Obama’s comments came amid persistent criticism of his North Korea strategy featuring the so-called “strategic patience.” Some analysts say the U.S. has “run out of ideas” about how to denuclearize North Korea and the only option is to let China rein in its ally. In an op-ed piece in the Washington Post today, Fareed Zakaria quoted a senior Obama administration official as saying, “We are clearly hearing increasing levels of frustration and concern” from China about North Korea. Zakaria, known for his expertise on international affairs, also noted that in a recent key government meeting, a top Communist Party official, Qiu Yuanping, publicly questioned whether to “keep” or “dump” North Korea. Zakaria pointed out it’s still premature to conclude that Beijing is actually going to change its policy on Pyongyang, saying talk is easier than action. In drafting the two latest resolutions against Pyongyang, Beijing remained opposed to the inclusion of any possibility of using military force and to pushing Pyongyang too hard. Kevin Rudd, former Australian prime minister and foreign minister, agreed with a view that China is increasingly taking its international role into account. He said he would regard the move not as a “break” with China’s past on North Korea but as “continued movement along a continuum.” “At one end China backing North Korea, my country right or wrong approach; at the other end of the spectrum, China joining the mainstream of international public opinion in trying to rein the North Koreans in,” he said in a media call arranged by the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). “I think it’s fair to say over the last several years the Chinese have been moving along that continuum but increasingly in the direction of greater acceptance of their role of global political and security responsibility,” Rudd said. Under the leadership of Xi, who was formally elected China’s president earlier this week, there is a more positive sign. he said. “This will, of course, lead to considerable angst in Pyongyang,” he added. David Ignatius, another Washington Post columnist, said the new Chinese leadership may be also stepping up efforts to revive the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. Wang Yi, reportedly set to become Beijing’s new foreign minister, is believed to favor more emphatic negotiations with Pyongyang, he said. Involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan, the six-party format was once hailed as an effective tool for denuclearization talks with North Korea. But negotiations have been stalled since 2009. It remains uncertain whether or when the multilateral talks will get under way again as Pyongyang has been erratic in negotiations and actions. “The North Koreans may be interested in moving forward with the United States and/or Japan while not addressing inter-Korean tensions,” Scott Snyder, a senior researcher at the CFR said. (Yonhap, “U.S. Pins Hopes on Signs of Change in China’s N.K. Policy,” Korea Herald, March 15, 2013)

Elleman: “Although international anger over Pyongyang’s launch using the Unha-3 rocket is understandable, efforts to condemn and punish North Korea for it might not be properly placed. Policymakers around the world face an important choice. They can impose further demands on an already heavily sanctioned country for exploring outer space, albeit using missile technologies. Alternatively, they can scale back their collective reaction to North Korean provocations that do not pose an immediate or significant threat and instead preserve their punitive responses for those activities that are most threatening, such as the February 12 nuclear test or future flight tests of long-range ballistic missiles. The history of ballistic missile development in other countries, which shows that space launches do not and cannot play a decisive role in the creation of long-range missiles, suggests the latter. … First, ballistic missile payloads must survive the rigors of re-entry into the atmosphere. Protecting a long-range missile’s payload from the extreme heat and structural loads experienced during re-entry requires the development and production of special materials, which must be tested and validated under real conditions. A second, less obvious difference lies with the operational requirements. Before their flight, space launchers, unlike their ballistic missile counterparts, are prepared over a period of many days, if not weeks. Components and subsystems can be checked and verified prior to launch, and the mission commander can wait for ideal weather before initiating the countdown. If an anomaly emerges during the countdown, engineers can delay the launch, identify and fix the problem, and restart the process. In contrast, ballistic missiles, like all other military systems, must perform reliably under a variety of operational conditions, with little or no warning. These operational requirements impose a more rigorous validation scheme, which includes an extensive test program. Only after successfully completing validation testing is a missile deemed to be combat ready. Although space launch activities offer an opportunity to accumulate experience and generate data that could aid efforts to develop long-range ballistic missiles, the results have limited application to ballistic missiles. Only a fraction of the overall missile development issues can be addressed when testing the system as a satellite launcher. Other requirements, most notably re-entry technologies and operational flexibility requirements, cannot be adequately addressed by satellite launches. A proven satellite launch vehicle would still need to be flight-tested as a ballistic missile a half-dozen or more times before it would be combat ready. For these reasons and others, the universal trend has been to convert ballistic missiles into space launchers, not the opposite, as evidenced by the Soviet, U.S., and Chinese experiences. The Soviets, for instance, began development of the R-7 (Semyorka, or SS-6) intercontinental missile in 1954 and initiated flight trials in May 1957. Two dozen R-7s were tested as ballistic missiles before the weapon became operational. During the R-7 flight trials, a handful of prototypes were diverted from the military program and transformed into satellite launchers or lunar probes. The reconfigured and renamed launcher, dubbed Soyuz, boosted the first earth-orbiting satellite, Sputnik, on October 4, 1957. The R-7 was an impractical ballistic missile. It was deployed in limited numbers, no more than six, and was soon replaced by the R-16 (SS-7), R-36 (SS-9), and UR-100 (SS-11) missiles, which offered greater deployment flexibility.[15] The R-7, however, provided the foundation for the world’s most diverse and widely used family of satellite launchers. Derivatives of the R-7 have flown more than 1,800 manned and unmanned space missions since 1957. The U.S. experience was similar but broader. During the latter half of the 1950s, the United States ambitiously pursued a handful of ballistic missile development efforts, each of which would also establish the foundation for satellite launch vehicles. The short-range Redstone missile, itself derived from the German V-2, was the basis for the Jupiter-A and -C experimental rockets and space launchers, as well as the Jupiter intermediate-range ballistic missile. The Jupiter-C, also known as Juno-1, placed the first U.S. satellite, Explorer-1, into orbit on January 31, 1958. The first U.S. manned missions to space were powered by Redstone rockets. The Thor intermediate-range missile, propelled by a modified Jupiter engine, was eventually used as a satellite launcher and is the progenitor of today’s Delta family of heavy-lift systems. Similarly, the Atlas and Titan ballistic missiles were transformed into satellite launchers, providing the building blocks for a family of launch vehicles operated under the same names. Interestingly, the four-stage Vanguard rocket, designed specifically for launching satellites, was never used as a ballistic missile. It did, however, place the world’s fourth satellite into orbit on March 17, 1958. Thus, space launch activities apparently played only a minor role, if any, in the development of U.S. and Soviet long-range ballistic missiles. In China, however, satellite launches might have significantly aided the military’s missile development efforts. The DF-3 and DF-4 intermediate-range missiles, as well as the CZ-1 satellite launcher, for instance, shared the same first-stage booster. Development of the single-stage DF-3 began in the early 1960s. It was first flight-tested in December 1966 and deployed in 1971. The two-stage DF-4 was flight-tested three times from December 1969 to November 1970. During this period, the CZ-1 satellite launcher, which was derived from the DF-4, was launched three times; and on April 24, 1970, it successfully lofted China’s first satellite into orbit. Before the DF-4 was inducted into military service, however, it had to undergo two batches of additional flight trials. The first stretched from May 1976 to November 1977, and the second took place in 1980. The missile achieved combat readiness in late 1980, 10 years after China’s first successful satellite launch. Similarly, China’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the DF-5, and its workhorse satellite launcher, the CZ-2, appear to have been developed in tandem. The first flight of the DF-5 came in late 1971; the second flight was in 1973. The missile was not launched again until June 1979, when it underwent operational flight trials before being deployed in August 1981. However, the CZ-2, which employed DF-5 booster rockets not used during the initial flight trials in the early 1970s, was launched four times during the six years spanning the second and third DF-5 test firings. It seems reasonable to conclude that technical issues related to the stalled DF-5 development effort were at least partially addressed by the CZ-2 space missions. History strongly suggests that satellite launch activities have assisted long-range missile development to varying degrees, but civilian space efforts have never played a decisive role in the creation of a long-range missile. In each of the cases reviewed above, regardless of the number of satellite launches conducted during new missile development, extensive flight trials in the military mode were needed to confirm combat readiness. The same principles apply to North Korea. Unha launches, although troubling and politically provocative, are not a substitute for ballistic missile testing.… After weeks of North Korean preparations and repeated international appeals to cancel the test, Pyongyang launched the Unha-2 on April 5, 2009. Breaking with the pattern of its previous missile tests or satellite launches, the North Korean government released a video recording of the Unha-2 firing, revealing for the first time information about the system’s configuration and its approximate performance characteristics. Nevertheless, it remains unclear if the Unha-2 is a replica of the 2006 Taepo Dong-2 or a new system altogether. Flight data gathered by the Japanese Ministry of Defense and published in the Japanese press indicated that the first two stages of the Unha-2 performed as North Korean engineers had projected. The first stage splashed down in the East Sea approximately 540 kilometers from the launch site, within the hazard zone designated by North Korean officials before the flight, albeit at the edge of the zone closest to the Korean coastline. The second stage landed in the Pacific Ocean, roughly 3,200 kilometers from Musudan-ri, within the hazard zone, but at the forward edge. It is unclear if the third stage separated from the second stage. If it did successfully separate, it might not have ignited properly. The third stage and satellite tumbled out of control and fell into the ocean very near the second-stage impact location. … The Unha-3 was launched on April 12, 2012, but not in the presence of the foreign observers. As the rocket headed south from the launch site, as expected, it reportedly failed after approximately 100 seconds of flight. Sections of the rocket and satellite were strewn across a swath of sea west of South Korea. The timing of the failure and the impact locations of the debris indicate that a malfunction occurred during first-stage operation, but the precise cause cannot be determined from available data. Pyongyang did not release any video of the launch. Prelaunch photographs of the Unha-3 show it to be a near copy of the Unha-2 fired in 2009 although the third stage appears to have been stretched by 30 to 50 centimeters, presumably to carry additional propellant. High-resolution photographs indicate that the second stage was neither a modified R-27 — a retired Soviet submarine-launched missile, known in the West as the SS-N-6 — nor a stage that employs the higher-energy propellants associated with the R-27, as some analysts had concluded after the 2009 launch. Indeed, the relative size of the oxidizer and fuel tanks found on the second stage is consistent with the propellant combination used by the Nodong engine. … The Unha-3 consists of three stages. The first is powered by a cluster of four Nodong engines and steered using four small vernier engines. The available evidence suggests that the second stage is a modified Nodong missile, with a larger-diameter fuselage to accommodate additional propellant. The configuration of the third stage is not known with certainty, but is most likely similar to that of the second stage of Iran’s Safir launch vehicle, which is suitable for satellite launches but not powerful enough to propel a moderately sized military payload. If North Korea built a ballistic missile using the first two stages of an Unha-3, the notional missile might achieve a maximum range of 5,000 to 6,000 kilometers. To reach the continental United States, a powerful third stage would have to be developed and added to the first two stages of the Unha-3. The Soviet Union considered an analogous upgrade in 1957, when Soviet designers suggested combining the main boosters of the R-12 and R-14 missiles to create the R-16 ICBM. The R-16 was successfully developed, but only after substantial redesign, including the development of new engines using more-powerful propellants. This Soviet experience suggests that North Korea would find it difficult to build an operational ICBM founded on the Unha-3 technology. Nevertheless, North Korea could contemplate using the Unha-3 as the basis for an ICBM. The missile would weigh more than 90 tons, making it too large and cumbersome to be viably deployed on a mobile launch platform. Silo deployment might be possible, but North Korea is a relatively small country and would find it difficult to conceal the location of its silos. Further, all of North Korea’s silos would be fewer than 200 kilometers from the coastline and thus vulnerable to pre-emptive strikes by advanced military powers, such as the United States. A new missile design seems more likely. In April 2012, North Korea unveiled mock-ups of a mobile, long-range missile during a military parade in Pyongyang. The missile has never been tested, and its origins are not known. If propellants more energetic than those used by the Unha-3, Nodong, or Scud missiles were employed, the new missile might be capable of intercontinental range. Until it is flight-tested, however, such possibilities remain speculative. Satellite launch activities provide Pyongyang with a platform for exploring and demonstrating new technologies relevant to the creation of an ICBM. The international community should discourage such activities through diplomatic and other means. Satellite launches, however, are not a substitute for ballistic missile flight trials. North Korea cannot develop an operationally sound ICBM without first conducting a series of test flights in the ballistic missile mode. The international community therefore should refrain from overreacting to North Korean satellite launches. Condemnations of space-related activities that utilize ballistic missile technologies are warranted and necessary. However, the threat of coercive measures such as economic and trade sanctions or enforced embargoes should be reserved for dissuading North Korea from testing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.” (Michael Elleman, “Prelude to an ICBM? North Korea’s Unha-3 Launch into Context,” Arms Control Today, 43, 2 (March 2013), 8-13)


3/15/13:
The Pentagon will spend $1 billion to deploy additional ballistic missile interceptors along the Pacific Coast to counter the growing reach of North Korea’s weapons, a decision accelerated by Pyongyang’s recent belligerence and indications that Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, is resisting China’s efforts to restrain him. The new deployments, announced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, will increase the number of ground-based interceptors in California and Alaska to 44 from 30 by 2017. The missiles have a mixed record in testing, hitting dummy targets just 50 percent of the time, but officials said today’s announcement was intended not merely to present a credible deterrence to the North’s limited intercontinental ballistic missile arsenal. They said it is also meant to show South Korea and Japan that the United States is willing to commit resources to deterring the North and, at the same time, warn Beijing that it must restrain its ally or face an expanding American military focus on Asia. “There’s been a quickening pace of provocations,” said one senior administration official, describing actions and words from North Korea and its new leader. “But the real accelerant was the fact that the North Koreans seemed more unmoored from their Chinese handlers than even we had feared.” Although American and South Korean intelligence officials doubt the North is close to being able to follow through on a nuclear strike, or that it would even try, given its almost certain destruction, analysts say the country’s aggressive behavior is an important and worrying sign of changing calculations in the North. In interviews over recent days, Obama administration officials described internal debates at the White House and the Pentagon about how strongly to react to the recent provocations. It is a delicate balance, they said, of defending against real potential threats while avoiding giving the North Koreans what one official called “the satisfaction of seeming to make the rest of the world jumpy.” At a Pentagon news conference, Hagel cited North Korea’s third test of nuclear weapons technology last month, the successful test of a long-range missile that sent a satellite into space, and the discovery that a new generation of mobile missiles appeared closer to development. “We will strengthen our homeland defense, maintain our commitments to our allies and partners, and make clear to the world that the United States stands firm against aggression,” Hagel said. All 14 of the new interceptors will be placed in silos at Fort Greely, Alaska, where 26 interceptors are already deployed. Four others are at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr., the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also spoke at the Pentagon and described how the United States was deliberately building a two-tiered system of deterrence against North Korea. The United States will “put the mechanics in place to deny any potential North Korean objectives to launch a missile to the United States, but also to impose costs upon them if they do,” Admiral Winnefeld said. In an unusually pointed warning to the new North Korean leader, Admiral Winnefeld added, “We believe that this young lad ought to be deterred by that — and if he’s not, we’ll be ready.” The arguments for bolstering the limited missile defense were symbolic of the larger problem. The antimissile systems are considered less than reliable, and some administration officials were reluctant to pour additional resources into deploying more of the existing technology. But in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. C. Robert Kehler, the commander of the United States Strategic Command, made clear they serve a larger purpose. “Deterring North Korea from acting irrationally is our No. 1 priority,” he said. He acknowledged that there were doubts that the 30 existing antimissile systems would be sufficient, and added that an additional site in the United States, on the East Coast, may be needed to deter Iran. But the new deployment is also intended to send a signal to China, which tried but failed to block the more recent nuclear test, to rein in the North. “We want to make it clear that there’s a price to be paid for letting the North Koreans stay on the current path,” a senior official said. The North’s new leader, some analysts say, is intensifying the threats because he has failed to get the Obama administration and its South Korean allies to return to an established pattern in which the North provoked and the allies followed with much-needed economic aid in return for Pyongyang’s promises to finally halt its nuclear weapons program. But a growing number of experts believe North Korea also views its recent advances in missile and nuclear technology as game changers that will allow it to build the nuclear arsenal it desperately wants, both as a deterrent against better-armed enemies and a cudgel to extract more concessions and possibly even international recognition. “Developing nuclear weapons gives North Korea a chance to turn the tables in one stroke,” said Cheong Seong-chang, an expert on North Korea at the Sejong Institute. “They can get around the weakness of their economy and their outdated conventional weapons.” Rodong Sinmun recently gave the North’s own explanation for its actions. “Let the American imperialists and their followers know!” the paper said. “We are not a pushover like Iraq or Libya.” Some missile-defense experts express deep skepticism about the capability of the ground-based interceptors deployed in California and Alaska. “It remains unclear whether these ground-based interceptors can work effectively, and they should be subjected to much more rigorous field testing before taxpayer resources are spent on a system that is ineffective,” said Tom Z. Collina, research director at the Arms Control Association. James N. Miller, the Pentagon’s under secretary for policy, said the new missiles would have to show success before they would be deployed. “We will continue to stick with our ‘fly before we buy’ approach,” Miller said, citing a successful test as recently as Jan. 26. George Lewis, an antimissile missile expert at Cornell University, said 15 flight tests of the defensive system have tried to hit targets, and only eight have succeeded. The United States also deploys Patriot Advanced Capability batteries in South Korea for defense of targets there, and the South fields an older model of the Patriot. Japan is developing its own layered missile-defense system, which includes Aegis warships and Patriot systems as well. The United States deploys one advanced TPY-2 missile-defense tracking radar in Japan to enhance early warning across the region and toward the West Coast, and it has reached agreement to deploy a second. And the Navy also recently bolstered its deployment of ballistic missile defense warships in waters off the Korean Peninsula, although the vessels were sent as part of an exercise even before the increase in caustic language from the North. As part of the Foal Eagle military exercise with South Korea, the Navy has four Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers in the region. (Thom Shanker, David E. Sanger and Martin Fackler, “U.S. Is Expanding Missile Defenses on West Coast,” New York Times, March 16, 2013, p. A-1)

KCNA said in a commentary that Internet servers operated by the state have come under intensive and persistent cyber attacks. It added that the cyber attacks are of significance because they are taking place while the United States and South Korea are conducting massive military exercises. “These attacks cannot be construed otherwise than despicable and base acts of the hostile forces consternated by the toughest measures taken by the DPRK (against the joint exercises),” the report said in an English dispatch. Independent reports indicated that the attacks began Wednesday morning and lasted until Thursday afternoon, and affected sites run by the media organization such as the KCNA and Rodong Sinmun, as well as other state-run Internet servers. South Korea’s unification ministry said it has no knowledge of the attacks mentioned by the North and pointed out it will probably take time to determine the details of the incident. In the past, North Korea has been accused on several occasions of carrying out cyber attacks against various Web sites in South Korea and the United States, with many observers in Seoul speculating the country operates a government organization that specializes in disrupting foreign Internet connectivity and services. (Yonhap, “N. Korea Blames U.S., S. Korea for Cyber Attack,” March 15, 2013)

The United Nations says that more than a fourth of all North Korean children are stunted from chronic malnutrition and fully two-thirds of the country’s 24 million people don’t know where their next meal is coming from. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs found that 2.8 million North Koreans “are in need of regular food assistance amidst worrying levels of chronic malnutrition and food insecurity.” The OCHA report read out by U.N. spokesman Eduardo del Buey said food aid should be neutral and impartial “and must not be contingent on political developments. (Reuters, “North Korea: U.N. Team Finds High Level of Malnutrition,” New York Times, March 16, 2013, p. A-9)


3/16/13:
DPRK FoMin spokesman’s statement: “U.S. high-ranking officials vied with each other to talk such nonsense as misinterpreting the present situation on the Korean Peninsula, claiming that the situation was aggravated due to the DPRK’s access to nuclear weapons. Their ulterior aim is to cover up their responsibility for having compelled the DPRK to have access to nukes. This is little short of a foolish poor artifice to justify the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK which escalated the situation on the Korean Peninsula to an extreme phase and stifle the DPRK by creating an international atmosphere of sanctions and pressure upon it. This only fully revealed that the U.S. remains unchanged in its hostile policy toward the DPRK and it has become more pronounced. The DPRK would like to re-clarify its unshakable principled stand on its nuclear deterrence for self-defense now that the U.S. persistently sticks to its hostile policy toward the DPRK, taking issue with its access to nukes with such sophism making profound confusion of right and wrong. The DPRK’s nuclear weapons serve as an all-powerful treasured sword for protecting the sovereignty and security of the country. Therefore, they cannot be disputed even in the least as long as the U.S. nuclear threat and hostile policy persist. The DPRK did not have access to nuclear weapons for the purpose of getting a recognition from someone. It will never reach out to anyone to get it recognized as a nuclear weapons state in the future. The only objective of its access to nukes is to put an end to the U.S. persistent nuclear threat and blackmail that have lasted for over half a century and mercilessly blow up strongholds for aggression wherever they are on the earth. The U.S. is seriously mistaken if it thinks that the DPRK had access to nukes as a bargaining chip to barter them for what it called economic reward. Nothing is more valuable than the sovereignty of the country and national dignity in the world-this remains an invariable faith of the DPRK. The U.S. poor temptation that it would help the DPRK if the latter makes other choice may work on other countries, but it sounds nonsensical to the DPRK. The DPRK has no idea of negotiating with the U.S. unless it rolls back its hostile policy towards the former and it will advance straight along the road of Songun of its own choice no matter what others may say.” (KCNA, “DPRK Has No Idea of Negotiating with U.S. Unless It Rolls back Its Hostile Policy towards It,” March 16, 2013)

North Korea test-fired a pair of short-range missiles into its eastern waters this past week in a likely response to ongoing routine U.S.-South Korean military drills, a South Korean official said. The North launched what appeared to be KN-02 (Toksa) missiles during its own drills, the military official said. He would not say on which day the missiles were fired or give other details, and declined to be named, citing policy. North Korea routinely launches short-range missiles in an effort to improve its arsenal, but the latest test comes at a time of rising tensions. (Associated Press, “North Korea Reportedly Test-Fires Short-Range Missiles,” March 16, 2013)

China’s parliament on Saturday approved Wang Yi, a former envoy to North Korean nuclear talks and ambassador to Japan, as the country’s new foreign minister as tensions run high in Northeast Asia. Wang, 59, was involved from 2003 in the early stages of so-called six-party talks. A Japanese speaker, Wang was ambassador to Japan from 2004 to 2007 after previously serving as a diplomat in China’s embassy in Tokyo from 1989 to 1994. Since 2008 he has been in charge of Taiwan affairs. Chang Wanquan, 64, a People’s Liberation Army general who in recent years has been involved with China’s space programme, was approved as the new defense minister. As expected, Zhou Xiaochuan was retained as governor of the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, but changes were made in other posts related to the economy. Lou Jiwei, chairman of sovereign wealth fund manager China Investment Corp., was named finance minister, while Gao Hucheng takes over as minister of commerce. (AFP, “China Names N. Korea, Japan Expert as Foreign Minister,” March 16, 2013)


3/18/13:
Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said his government’s budget cuts won’t affect military readiness in South Korea, as deterrence against North Korea remains a top priority despite fiscal woes. “The commitment to the alliance is part of the Asia-Pacific rebalance, and we will ensure all the pieces of our defense relationship will continue to move forward, and this will occur despite the budgetary pressures in the U.S.,” Carter said in a press conference at the American Center Korea in Seoul. Carter stressed that ongoing military drills between the two nations are aimed at improving military readiness against North Korea, particularly mentioning flight training involving B-52s, which is slated for Tuesday. “I should note the presences of strategic bombers taking place in flight training in the Korean peninsula area in particular, for example, but this is routine. But there will be B-52 flights tomorrow,” Carter told reporters. The Key Resolve exercise, which is held from March 11-21, involves about 10,000 Korean troops and 3,500 American personnel, along with military equipment and weapons, including F-22 stealth fighter jets deployed from overseas U.S. bases. But U.S. military officials rarely disclose what kind of military equipment is used in drills. “Together we’re taking important steps to advance allies’ military capabilities,” Carter said. “In particular, we remain steadfast to our commitment to extended deterrence offered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella. We’ll ensure all of our resources will be available to our alliance.” (Kim Eun-jung, “Pentagon Official Says U.S. Budget Cut Won’t Affect Readiness in S. Korea,” March 18, 2013)

Pentagon spokesman George Little said a B-52 from Andersen Air Force base in Guam, flew over South Korea on March 8 as part of a military exercise “Foal Eagle.” “The B-52 Stratofortress can perform a variety of missions including carrying precision-guided conventional or nuclear ordnance,” he said. B-52s have taken part in annual exercises before, but Little said the Pentagon wanted to underline their use this time given the current, heightened tensions. “We’re drawing attention to the fact that we have extended deterrence capabilities that we believe are important to demonstrate in the wake of recent North Korean rhetoric,” he said. On the first day of negotiations for a conventional weapons treaty at UN headquarters on Monday, the North’s deputy UN ambassador Ri Tong-Il proclaimed the North’s “very proud and powerful” position as the latest nuclear weapons state. Ri also denounced what he termed a U.S. policy of “nuclear blackmail” that he insisted would “in the long run give birth to more nuclear weapons states.” (AFP, “U.S. Flies B-52s over S. Korea,” March 19, 2013)

China has criticized a US plan to strengthen its missile defences in response to North Korea’s growing military capabilities. The move would “intensify antagonism,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said, urging the US to “act prudently.” Russia has also expressed opposition to the plan. “The anti-missile issue has a direct bearing on global and regional balance and stability,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing. “Actions such as strengthening anti-missile [defenses] will intensify antagonism and will not be beneficial to finding a solution for the problem,” Hong said. (BBC, “China Criticizes U.S. Missile Defense Plans,” March 18, 2013)

KCNA: “Kim Jong Un set forth main tasks and ways to be held fast to by the field of light industry at present. He said: It is necessary to make the most effective use of the existing production potential to radically increase the production of consumer goods and push forward the modernization and scientification of light industry and thus put it on the world’s advanced level. … The whole state should attach importance to light industry and channel great efforts into its development. Various sectors and units of national economy should render positive help to the field of light industry, bearing in mind the Party’s intention to effect a turn in the people’s living in the shortest possible span of time.” (KCNA, “Kim Jong Un Makes Speech at National Meeting of Light Industrial Workers,” March 19, 2013)

In a speech to a national meeting of light industrial workers in Pyongyang, Kim Jong-un called for concentrated efforts to build up the country’s light industrial sector that has direct bearing on the lives of everyday people, KCNA reported. Kim stressed the importance of the sector. “Kim Jong-un in his speech said that the light industrial front along with the agricultural front are the main fronts on which efforts should be focused in the drive for building an economic power and improving the people’s living standards,” KCNA reported. It also said that Kim pointed out that light industry is the main target for the concentration of the country’s resources, even under heightened tensions surrounding the Korean Peninsula, the report said. “It is necessary to make the most effective use of existing production potential to radically increase the production of consumer goods and push forward with the modernization of light industry, and make it the world’s standard,” the leader told people gathered at the meeting. Chang Yong-seok, senior researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University, said the emphasis on light industry at a time when Pyongyang has placed the country in battle mode is a sign that the North does not want to ignore the economy or its impact on the people. Others such as Yang Moo-jin, political science professor at the University of North Korean Studies, claimed that the KCNA report and the sudden holding of the meeting may be a sign that Pyongyang wants to end the current confrontational stance with the outside world and focus on its economy. “This may be an indirect message (of reconciliation) sent to South Korea, the United States and China,” the expert said. Reflecting this view, an official at the unification ministry, who declined to be identified, said Kim’s interest in light industry may be due to the lack of progress made so far, and the need to invite foreign capital to get various commercial projects moving. “The North can’t do this by itself so it may be seeking outside cooperation,” he said. (Yonhap, “N. Korean Leader Calls for Concentrated Effort to Build up Light Industry,” March 19, 2013)

North Korea’s nuclear test last month wasn’t just a show of defiance and national pride; it also serves as advertising. The target audience, analysts say, is anyone in the world looking to buy nuclear material. Though Pyongyang has threatened to launch nuclear strikes on the U.S., the most immediate threat posed by its nuclear technology may be North Korea’s willingness to sell it to nations that Washington sees as sponsors of terrorism. The fear of such sales was highlighted this week, when Japan confirmed that cargo seized last year and believed to be from North Korea contained material that could be used to make nuclear centrifuges, which are crucial to enriching uranium into bomb fuel. The dangerous message North Korea is sending, according to Graham Allison, a nuclear expert at the Harvard Kennedy School: “Nukes are for sale.” Outside nuclear specialists believe North Korea has enough nuclear material for several crude bombs, but they have yet to see proof that Pyongyang can build a warhead small enough to mount on a missile. The North, however, may be able to help other countries develop nuclear expertise right now, as it is believed to have done in the past. “There’s a growing technical capability and confidence to sell weapons and technology abroad, without fear of reprisal, and that lack of fear comes from (their) growing nuclear capabilities,” Joel Wit, a former U.S. State Department official, said at a recent nuclear conference in Seoul. A nuclear test using highly enriched uranium “would announce to the world — including potential buyers — that North Korea is now operating a new, undiscovered production line for weapons-usable material,” Allison, wrote in a New York Times op-ed after the North’s test. Japan’s chief government spokesman, Suga Yoshihide, said officials searched the ship because they believed it carried North Korean cargo. News reports said the United States tipped off Japan. Suga said officials had determined in subsequent analyses that the rods were made of an alloy that suggests they were intended for use in a nuclear centrifuge. Suga said the seizure was the first to be conducted under a law Japan passed in 2010 to clamp down on the movement of materials that could be used for nuclear weapons development being brought into, or exported from, North Korea. The murkiness of the clandestine nuclear trade is a major worry. It’s difficult to know how a buyer would use atomic material or know-how, or where material could end up after being sold. “The terrorist threat of an improvised nuclear device delivered anonymously and unconventionally by a boat or a truck across our long and unprotected borders is one against which we have no certain deterrent or defensive response,” Robert Gallucci, former U.S. diplomat who negotiated a U.S.-North Korea nuclear deal used in the 1990s, said late last month in Seoul. “For Americans, this threat is far greater than the unlikely threat that may someday be posed by North Korean nuclear weapons delivered by a ballistic missile,” he said. (Foster Klug, “Renewed Nuke Sale Fear after Recent N. Korea Test,” Associated Press, March 19, 2013)

Public opinion polling in South Korea over the last decade has consistently demonstrated majority support both for an indigenous nuclear weapons effort and the return of US tactical nuclear weapons, which Washington withdrew in 1991. In two recent polls conducted in the wake of the North Korean test, 64 percent and 66 percent of those surveyed agreed that South Korea should possess its own nuclear weapons. This is not surprising as a simple matter of equality with North Korea, ignoring for a moment the thorny technical and policy issues that developing nuclear weapons would pose to South Korea. Public opinion seems to reflect a general sense of insecurity among South Koreans more than a real desire that their government build nuclear weapons. Elite opinion until now has largely discounted nuclear weapons. The issue resonated only at the political fringe, where a few conservative politicians and commentators periodically voiced support for nuclear weapons. In a 2011 Chosun Ilbo column, for instance, Kim Dae Jung, the conservative commentator and political analyst, argued: “Only when Seoul develops a nuclear bomb will the way for substantive negotiations between the two Koreas open. We can no longer entrust our lives and territorial security to the incompetence of world powers that have failed to settle the North Korean nuclear issue for over two decades.” The North’s February test broke the taboo and brought the nuclear issue into mainstream political discourse; more commentators and politicians have joined the debate. Anti-nuclear arguments still seem to dominate, but more people are now willing to argue in favor of nuclear weapons in South Korea. Because the debate is new, the various strands of argument are not yet fully formed. The boundaries between these strands are still squishy, with many protagonists present multiple arguments that are not mutually exclusive. Our review of publicly available Korean and English-language reporting to date suggests the following four (and maybe more) separate arguments in favor of South Korean or US nuclear weapons. 1) Return US tactical nuclear weapons to improve bargaining leverage with North Korea. By this logic, redeploying US tactical nuclear weapons would force North Korea back to negotiations culminating in the dismantling of its nuclear weapons program. One proponent of this view, Jeon Sung Hun, senior researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification, has argued that US tactical nuclear weapons could be used in a strategy of “bilateral denuclearization” with North Korea. Echoing this view, Won Yoo Chul, former chairman of the National Defense Committee, asserted two days after North Korea’s third nuclear test, “It is time to consider the necessity of redeploying US nuclear weapons, based on the premise that we would abandon these weapons immediately once the North Korean nuclear issue is solved.” 2) Redeploy US tactical nuclear weapons to enhance deterrence against North Korea. The latest North Korean test played on Korean fears about the durability of the ROK-US alliance and the reliability of US extended deterrence commitments. Some Koreans worry that without its own nuclear weapons on the Peninsula the United States might give in to nuclear coercion by Pyongyang at South Korea’s expense. The return of US tactical weapons would thus “fix the torn [nuclear] umbrella,” according to Chung Mong Joon,* member of the Korean National Assembly and former chairman of the ruling Saenuri party. “At a time of crisis, we are not 100 percent sure whether the Americans will cover us with its nuclear umbrella,” he argues. Suggesting a similar logic, albeit without physically stationing tactical nuclear weapons on South Korean soil, Kim Young Hee of Joongang Ilbo posited that “The only remaining way to solve the North Korean nuclear problem is to enforce nuclear deterrence. The best way is to deploy US nuclear-armed submarines regularly under the East Sea and observe North Korea’s behavior.” 3) Develop South Korean nuclear weapons to alter calculus in North Korea nuclear negotiations. Those convinced that the redeployment of US tactical nuclear weapons is insufficient leverage against North Korea argue that indigenous South Korean nuclear weapons could achieve a better result in negotiations. An ROK nuclear weapons program would pressure China and the United States to bring North Korea to the table to achieve denuclearization. This view was espoused by Lee Chun Geun of the Korea Economic Research Institute: “When we solidify our resolution to develop our own nuclear weapons, the US, China, and Russia cannot help but look for a practical way to hold back North Korea’s nuclear weapons.” Chosun Ilbo reporter Jung Kwon Hyun similarly stipulated that only the fear of other East Asian “nuclear dominos” like Japan and Taiwan would convince China of the need to rein in North Korea’s nuclear behavior. 4) Develop South Korean nuclear weapons as a security guarantee. “If North Korea possesses long-range missiles that can attack the state of the US, one might consider the US nuclear umbrella to be torn. Will the US be prepared to sacrifice Los Angeles to save Seoul?” queried Lee Chun Geun. For those who worry that the answer to this question is “no,” then South Korea can only rely on its own capabilities. Nuclear weapons would provide South Korea with a means of self-defense independent of the United States. One proponent of this view, the conservative commentator Jeon Won Chaek, argued that “we have to be nuclear armed ourselves to survive.The fact that this debate has emerged from the shadows does not make a South Korean decision to pursue nuclear weapons any more likely. There are just as many, if not more, arguments against nuclear weapons, ranging from the economic and reputational penalties that would result from violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to legitimizing North Korea’s nuclear weapons. Indeed, the ROK government has taken pains to distance itself from pro-nuclear weapon views. Chun Young Woo, presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security, stated on February2013, that “The government has never considered such an [indigenous nuclear weapon] option, nor is it something to be considered.” Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok similarly stated on Februaryhat Korea “is not considering bringing in tactical nuclear weapons right now because the priority is to make North Korea give up its nuclear armament.” (Toby Dalton and Yoon Ho-jin, “Reading into South Korea’s Nuclear Debate,” PacNet No. 20, March 18, 2013)


3/19/13:
China is making tentative moves in the direction of curbing the illegal activities of North Korean banks, North Korean sources in Beijing said. According to the sources, Chinese authorities put the brakes on illegal operations by the representative offices of Tanchon Commercial Bank, Korea Daesong Bank and Korea Kwangson Banking Corp. in Beijing and Dandong. These representative offices are not licensed to engage in business operations such as currency exchange and remittances of money in China because they are not full branches. But in fact they have engaged in money laundering by making payments for trade transactions on North Korean traders’ behalf through borrowed-name bank accounts in China, or by receiving payments on traders’ behalf and asking their headquarters in North Korea to pay the traders. No North Korean bank has a formal branch in China. Chinese authorities are apparently trying a little harder than in the past to enforce UN sanctions against North Korea. A diplomatic source in Beijing said, “This doesn’t mean that China has taken a new initiative on its own to enforce sanctions on the North, but rather that it is treating North Korea-related transactions by the book.” Another source said just cracking down on fake accounts used by North Korean banks will cause havoc for the North Korean regime. Until recently China has turned a blind eye to such violations. Beijing has also banned North Korean restaurants from selling North Korean agricultural produce including ginseng, and is cracking down on illegal migrant workers from the North. A North Korean source in Dandong said Beijing is trying to clamp down on North Koreans who come to China on student or tourist visas or simple entry permits and then work there illegally. To work legally in China, North Koreans need a six-month “industrial trainee” visa, which can be extended for up to a year. (Chosun Ilbo, “China Moves on N. Korean Money-Laundering,” March 20, 2013)

After decades in the red, North Korea may be running a trade surplus, according to two economists who warn the breakthrough makes Pyongyang less vulnerable to pressure on its nuclear program. Marcus Noland and Stephen Haggard, both North Korea experts at the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics, say their research suggests the North’s current account went into surplus in 2011. In a posting on the institute’s website, they said the improvement had come “largely on the back of expanding trade with China” and added that preliminary research also pointed to a 2012 surplus. The findings will surprise many, given the North’s reputation as an economic basket case wrecked by decades of mismanagement and ruinous spending on military hardware. While acknowledging “significant uncertainty” in calculating the North’s balance of payments, Noland and Haggard said their conclusion was “bad news” — both for North Koreans and the rest of the world. “It is bad news for North Korea because as a relatively poor country, they should be running a current account deficit, importing capital and expanding productive capacity for future growth,” Noland said. Instead, they are exporting capital, with money flowing abroad presumably, Noland suggests, to fund the up-market consumption habits of the ruling elite. “It is also bad news for us. If North Korea is running current account surpluses, then they are less vulnerable to foreign pressure,” he added. Nolan and Haggard stress that constructing a balance of payments for North Korea is inevitably speculative, given that its actual trade figures are state secrets and can only be extrapolated using “mirror statistics” reported by a trade partner. Their calculations included illicit activities, such as counterfeiting to build a high- and low -range estimate for the current account — the broadest measure of trade with the rest of the world. “In all likelihood, North Korea has run current account deficits for most of its history. That meant that the country was consuming more than it was producing, and the difference had to be financed from abroad,” Noland said. (AFP, Jiji, “North Korea Might Turn Tables with trade Surplus,” Japan Times, March 20, 2013)


3/20/13:
Chinese President Xi Jinping told President Park Geun-Hye that Beijing is willing to help reconciliation between South and North Korea, the foreign ministry said. “China is willing to provide the necessary assistance to advance South-North reconciliation and cooperation,” Xi told Park in a phone call, according to a statement on the ministry website. “The South and North are compatriots and South-North relations are important to the situation on the peninsula,” the newly elevated Chinese leader said. (AFP, “China Willing to Help Korea ‘Reconciliation’: Xi,” March 20, 2013) During their 20-minute talk, Park congratulated Xi on his inauguration as China’s president and talked about plans to improve ties between the two countries and the North Korea issues, Kim said.

“Peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula not only serves the national interests of South Korea but also China,” Xi was quoted as telling Park. “To realize the Korean Peninsula’s peace, stability and denuclearization, China will work together with South Korea and strengthen communication with Seoul.” According to Kim, Park explained her North Korea policy to the Chinese leader. “The South will sternly counter the North’s additional provocations,” Park was quoted as saying. “But if the North makes the right choice, we will improve inter-Korean relations through the Korea Peninsula process.” (Ser Myo-ja, “Xi Offers His Support for Park’s Policy on the North,” JoongAng Ilbo, March 21, 2013)

DPRK FoMin spokesman: “The U.S. is reportedly letting its B-52 deployed on Guam make sortie to the Korean Peninsula on March 19 in the wake of its sortie made on March 8. U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defence Carter made a junket to south Korea on March 18, where he was closeted with south Korean puppet Minister of Defence Kim Kwan Jin over “south Korea-U.S. joint reaction” to the DPRK’s threat. There Carter blustered that B-52 would be involved in the U.S.-south Korea joint military drills on March 19 to demonstrate the U.S. will to defend south Korea and such sorties would continue in the future, too. It is an unpardonable provocation against the DPRK to sound out its strongest will that the U.S. is introducing a strategic nuclear strike means to the Korean Peninsula at a time when its situation is inching close to the brink of war. The DPRK is now closely watching the move of B-52 and the hostile forces will never escape its strong military counteraction, should the strategic bomber make such sortie to the peninsula again.” (KCNA, “DPRK FM Spokesman Accuses U.S. of Letting Strategic Bomber Make Sortie to Korean Peninsula,” March 20, 2013)

South Korea said that it was investigating the possibility of a North Korean cyberattack after the computer networks of three broadcasters and three banks were paralyzed. The government and military raised their vigilance against more possible disruptions. But they cautioned that it was still too early to point the finger at Pyongyang, which has been threatening ‘’pre-emptive nuclear attacks” and other, unspecified actions against its southern neighbor for conducting military exercises with the United States this month and for supporting new American-led United Nations sanctions against the North. The attacks, which left many South Koreans unable to withdraw money from A.T.M.’s and news broadcasting crews staring at blank computer screens, came as KCNA quoted the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, as threatening to destroy government installations in the South, along with American bases in the Pacific. Though American officials dismissed those threats, they also noted that the broadcasters hit by the virus had been cited by the North before as potential targets. The Korea Communications Commission said that the disruption originated at an Internet provider address in China but that it was still not known who was responsible. Many analysts in Seoul suspect that North Korean hackers honed their skills in China and were operating there. At a hacking conference here last year, Michael Sutton, the head of threat research at Zscaler, a security company, said a handful of hackers from China “were clearly very skilled, knowledgeable and were in touch with their counterparts and familiar with the scene in North Korea.” But there has never been any evidence to back up some analysts’ speculation that they were collaborating with their Chinese counterparts. “I’ve never seen any real evidence that points to any exchanges between China and North Korea,” said Adam Segal, a senior fellow who specializes in China and cyberconflict at the Council on Foreign Relations. The attacks, which occurred as American and South Korean military forces were conducting major exercises, were not as sophisticated as some from China that have struck United States computers, and certainly less sophisticated than the American and Israeli cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear facilities. But it was far more complex than a “denial of service” attack that simply overwhelms a computer system with a flood of data. The malware is called “DarkSeoul” in the computer world and was first identified about a year ago. It is intended to evade some of South Korea’s most popular antivirus products and to render computers unusable. In Wednesday’s strikes, the attackers made no effort to disguise the malware, leading some to question whether it came from a state sponsor — which tend to be more stealthy — or whether officials or hackers in North Korea were sending a specific, clear message: that they can reach into Seoul’s economic heart without blowing up South Korean warships or shelling South Korean islands. South Korea’s two leading television stations, KBS and MBC, maintained normal broadcasts but said their computers were frozen. The cable channel YTN reported a similar problem. The KBS Web site was shut down. Shinhan Bank, the country’s fourth-largest lender, reported that its Internet banking servers had been blocked temporarily. Technicians restored operations, the government’s Financial Services Commission said in a statement. Two other banks, NongHyup and Jeju, reported that operations at some of their branches had been paralyzed after computers were ‘’affected with virus and their files erased,’’ the commission said. After two hours, the banks’ operations returned to normal, they said. A fourth bank, Woori, reported a hacking attack, but said it had suffered no damage. South Korea’s government, military and nuclear power plants reported no disruptions. But scenes of customers complaining at bank windows about their inability to use A.T.M.’s and live national broadcasts with experts who raised the possibility of North Korean cyberattacks reflected a simmering anxiety over North Korea, which recently declared that the 1953 armistice that halted the Korean War was not valid. The Web site of the Washington-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea was hacked by an entity calling itself “Hitman 007-Kingdom of Morocco,” which stole the committee’s publications and other documents, said its executive director, Greg Scarlatoiu. He said he did not know whether the attack was linked to the disruptions in South Korea, but noted that it came a day before the United Nations Human Rights Council was to vote on the resolution calling for the establishment of an independent investigation of North Korean human rights abuses, including its running of prison gulags. The committee has been an active supporter of such an inquiry. “This type of mishap is not to be unexpected, given the nature of our work,” Scarlatoiu said. In testimony to Congress last year, Gen. James D. Thurman, the American commander in South Korea, described what he called North Korea’s “growing cyberwarfare capability.” “North Korea employs sophisticated computer hackers trained to launch cyberinfiltration and cyberattacks” against South Korea and the United States, General Thurman said. “Such attacks are ideal for North Korea,” he added, “providing the regime a means to attack” South Korean and American businesses “without attribution.” But security researchers and foreign policy experts say that North Korea faces significant hurdles. “They simply don’t have access to the same technology due to sanctions,” said Sutton, of Zscaler. “And a large portion of their population does not have ready access to the Internet, so they don’t have that natural pool of talent to recruit from.” Lee Seong-won, an official at the communications commission, told reporters on Wednesday that the malicious code, once activated, disrupted the booting of computers. “It will take time for us to find out the identity and motive of those who were behind this attack,” he said. After an initial investigation, government experts found that a virus had penetrated the networks of the agencies, Lee Seong-won, an official at the Korea Communications Commission, said during a media briefing. Once activated, the malicious code disrupted the booting of computers. “It will take time for us to find out the identity and motive of those who were behind this attack,” Lee said. The government investigators were also checking whether skulls that reportedly popped up on some computer screens had anything to do with the virus attack. Kim Min-seok, a spokesman of the Defense Ministry, said, ‘’We cannot rule out the possibility of North Korean involvement, but we don’t want to jump to a conclusion.” The military raised its alert against cyberattacks by one level, Kim said. The Korea Communications Commission also upgraded the country’s defense against cyberattacks, asking government agencies and businesses to triple the number of monitors for possible hacking attacks. President Park Geun-hye instructed a civilian-government task force to investigate the disruptions. The simultaneous shutdowns came five days after North Korea blamed South Korea and the United States for cyberattacks that temporarily shut down Web sites in Pyongyang last week. In recent years, North Korea had also vowed to attack South Korean television stations and newspapers for carrying articles critical of its government, even citing the map coordinates of their headquarters. North Korea said it suspected that South Korea and the United States had hacked its Web sites as part of the joint military exercises they have been conducting since early this month. North Korea ‘’will never remain a passive onlooker to the enemies’ cyberattacks that have reached a very grave phase as part of their moves to stifle it,’’ KCNA said March 15. Experts said it could take months to determine what happened. In January, after a six-month investigation, the South Korean police said North Korea had been behind a hacking attack that disrupted the computer network of JoongAng Ilbo. (Choe Sang-hun, “Computer Networks in South Korea Are Paralyzed in Cyberattacks,” New York Times, March 20, 2013, p. A-5) The source of a massive cyber attack that caused three South Korean broadcasters and two banks to go offline for most of Wednesday afternoon (KST) was domestic, the Korean Communications Commission (KCC) said today. The internet watchdog had previously announced that a Chinese IP address was behind the attack, leading many to speculate that North Korea had conducted a sophisticated and coordinated hacking operation against the South Korean capital. A website operated by LG was also targeted, in what some analysts now argue appears to have been entirely coincidental. (NK News, “South Korea Was Source of Wednesday’s Cyber Attack,” March 22, 2013)


3/21/13:
North Korea threatened to attack American military bases in Japan and on the Pacific island of Guam in retaliation for training missions by American B-52 bombers over the Korean Peninsula, while state radio blared air-raid warnings to the North Korean people. Until the 1990s, air-raid drills had been a popular tool for the North Korean regime to highlight the perceived threat of an American invasion and to instill in its people a sense of crisis and solidarity. The one-hour air-raid drill today came amid heightened tensions on the Korean. Nuclear-capable B-52 bombers, taking off from Guam, had previously flown missions over South Korea as part of joint military exercises. But this month, the Pentagon took the rare action of publicly announcing those missions to reaffirm the United States’ “nuclear umbrella” for South Korea and Japan at a time of rising anxiety over the North’s nuclear threats. South Korean news media also carried photos of an American nuclear-powered attack submarine making a port call at a South Korean naval base. “The U.S. should not forget that the Anderson Air Force Base on Guam, where B-52s take off, and naval bases in Japan proper and Okinawa, where nuclear-powered submarines are launched, are within the striking range of the DPRK’s precision strike means,” a spokesman of the Supreme Command of the North Korean People’s Army told KCNA. He added, without elaborating, “Now that the U.S. started open nuclear blackmail and threat, the DPRK, too, will move to take corresponding military actions.” (Choe Sang-hun, “North Korea Threatens U.S. Military Bases in the Pacific,” New York Times, March 21, 2013)


3/21/13:
KPA Supreme Command spokesman answer to question put by KCNA: “As the KPA Supreme Command already clarified, the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises are evidently dangerous nuclear war drills now under way as part of the most outrageous hostile acts to encroach upon the sovereignty and supreme interests of the DPRK. This is a vivid expression of the crudest violation of the Korean Armistice Agreement (AA) and all the north-south agreements. This was precisely the reason why the DPRK took an important decision to totally nullify the AA and declare the north-south declaration on nonaggression and the joint declaration on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula invalid. The decision reflected the strong will and steadfast determination of the DPRK army and the people to foil the U.S. nuclear war racket with their own nuclear weapons, free from any binding, and wipe out all hostile forces toeing the U.S. policy now that it has become impossible to pin any hope on the validity of the above-said agreements and declarations. The U.S. is now introducing B-52, nuclear-powered submarines and other nuclear strike means into south Korea and its vicinity in a bid to test the DPRK’s will and break its resolute determination. The flying corps of strategic bombers equipped with nuclear weapons and nuclear-powered submarines serve as “the three major nuclear mainstays” and “the three major nuclear strike means” along with intercontinental ballistic missiles that the U.S. brandishes as means of blackmail as it pleases. What should not be overlooked is that the U.S. picked up B-52 and nuclear-powered submarines out of these nuclear strike means to send them to the sky above south Korea and its waters for a nuclear strike drill under the simulated conditions of an actual war against the DPRK. The U.S. is openly calling it a strong warning message to the DPRK and is claiming in public that it would continue such threat and blackmail against the DPRK in the future. But the army and people of the DPRK will never be frightened at such a warning message, threat and blackmail. The U.S. should not forget that the Anderson Air Force Base on Guam where B-52 takes off and naval bases in Japan proper and Okinawa where nuclear-powered submarines are launched are within the striking range of the DPRK’s precision strike means. Now that the U.S. started open nuclear blackmail and threat, the DPRK, too, will move to take corresponding military actions. The DPRK’s declaration that it will react to the nukes of the enemy with nuclear attack more powerful than them is by no means an empty talk. The world will clearly see the provocateurs, who hurt the sovereignty of the DPRK, meet a miserable end in the flames of justice kindled by the army and people of the DPRK to defend its sovereignty.” (KCNA, “U.S. Nuclear Blackmail Will Be Foiled with Stronger Military Counteraction: Spokesman,” March 21, 2013)

North Korea threatened to attack American military bases in Japan and on the Pacific island of Guam in retaliation for recent training missions by American B-52 bombers over South Korea. While the North has threatened American forces in Guam before, the latest warning comes amid heightened tension on the peninsula after a North Korean nuclear test last month and the imposition of United Nations sanctions that have infuriated Pyongyang. Those tensions might rise again because of another United Nations action today: Its Human Rights Council created a commission to look into allegations of human rights violations in North Korea, including the incarceration of political prisoners at labor camps and torture. Navi Pillay, the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, has been calling for such an investigation for months, fearful that the world’s preoccupation with the North’s growing nuclear arsenal overshadowed discussions of a human rights situation she called “the worst in the whole world” in an interview with Reuters. The commission will be somewhat limited in what it can do. It is unlikely to get access to North Korea, a police state, and it remains unclear what court would take up its findings. But Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, told Radio Australia that “collecting the evidence is the first step toward putting pressure on the international community, and whoever North Korea’s defenders are, to ultimately acquiesce in prosecution” of what he called “the terrible atrocities that are routinely committed in North Korea.” An estimated 1 in 120 [?] North Koreans are imprisoned in gulags, where defectors from the country say starvation, forced labor and torture are endemic. . Roth acknowledged the difficulties facing investigators. “There is no international tribunal that has jurisdiction over North Korea,” he told Radio Australia. “Theoretically, the International Criminal Court could be brought in with a resolution from the U.N. Security Council, yet China would probably veto that at this stage.” Nuclear-capable B-52 bombers that upset the North have flown missions over South Korea in the past as part of joint military exercises. But this month, the Pentagon took the rare action of announcing those missions to reaffirm the United States’ “nuclear umbrella” for South Korea and Japan at a time of rising anxiety over the North’s nuclear threats. A spokesman for the Supreme Command of the North Korean People’s Army told KCNA that “the U.S. should not forget that the Andersen Air Force Base on Guam, where B-52s take off, and naval bases in Japan proper and Okinawa, where nuclear-powered submarines are launched, are within the striking range of the D.P.R.K.’s precision strike means.” He added, without elaborating, “Now that the U.S. started open nuclear blackmail and threat, the D.P.R.K., too, will move to take corresponding military actions,” referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the North’s official name. State radio also blared air-raid warnings in North Korea. The North Koreans have also been angry about what they expected to be an unfavorable outcome in the Human Rights Council. On March 11, Rodong Sinmun said the council’s expected move to adopt the resolution, coupled with the United Nations sanctions, would “raise tensions and ignite a war to invade the North.” It vowed to deliver “a merciless mace-blow” on “traitors” in South Korea. North Korea’s ambassador, So Se Pyong, rejected the resolution today as “an instrument that serves the political purposes of the hostile forces in their attempt to discredit the image” of his country. He denied human rights abuses existed there. Cho Tae-young, a South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman, said, “We hope that the establishment of the commission of inquiry through this resolution will contribute to the improvement of human rights in North Korea.” The commission will include the Indonesian lawyer Marzuki Darusman, who wrote a report for the council citing the kidnapping of foreigners and the system of labor camps. He said the situation had worsened since the North’s new young leader, Kim Jong-un, took over after his father’s death in December 2011. The European Union and Japan sponsored the resolution calling for the commission, and the United States backed it. With no Chinese or Russian vote on the 47-member council, North Korea had no country willing to oppose the inquiry. (Choe Sang-hun and Steven Erlanger, “North Korea Threatens U.S. Military Bases in Pacific,” New York Times, March 22, 2013, p. A-8)

The 47-member state Geneva-based Human Rights Council (HRC), a subsidiary organ of the United Nations General Assembly, adopted a resolution that establishes a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to investigate more fully the severe human rights violations in North Korea, and to determine whether those violations amount to crimes against humanity. Commissions of Inquiry are a venerable diplomatic mechanism dating back at least to the Concert of Europe, through which a delegation of eminent persons, almost always legal experts or experienced diplomats from a cross-section of the Concert powers, investigated egregious human rights violations (often massacres) usually with the particular aim of assessing accountability for large-scale atrocities. In recent years, investigative bodies known as mechanisms of inquiry, expert panels or group of experts, as well as commissions of inquiry, created by the UN Security Council, General Assembly or Human Rights Council, have been used to make prima facie determinations of grave breaches of international criminal law prior to the creation of the Ad Hoc Tribunals, such as those for Yugoslavia and Rwanda, or prior to a referral to the International Criminal Court. Presently, another CoI is documenting atrocities in Syria. For North Korea, the CoI will consist of three “eminent persons,” one of whom will be the present “Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK,” Marzuki Darusman, the former Attorney General of Indonesia. The other two commissioners will be selected from the regions of Africa, Latin America or Europe. The selection will be made by the revolving President of the Human Rights Council from a list of potential candidates proposed by the member states and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. One commissioner will almost certainly be an expert in international humanitarian and criminal law, perhaps a former judge or prosecutor from one of the existing international tribunals. Some member states favor the appointment of a high level political figure such as a former foreign minister or head of state.This new resolution calls for an “adequately resourced” inquiry, meaning that in addition to the three commissioners, the High Commissioner for Human Rights will appoint three or more full time staff and probably additional investigators. The CoI will also be provided the budget necessary to conduct investigations.Once appointed, the commissioners and staff will operate independently of the Council and the High Commissioners Office. The CoI will make interim reports to the September session of the HRC and to the General Assembly later this year. The full report is scheduled to be presented to the HRC in March of 2014.The HRC resolution tasks the CoI to investigate systematic, widespread and grave violations in nine specified areas: 1) violations of the right to food; 2) violations associated with prison camps; 3) torture and inhuman treatment; 4) arbitrary detention; 5) discrimination; 6) violations of freedom of expression; 7) violations of the right to life; 8) violations of the right to movement; and 9) enforced disappearances, including the abductions of nationals of other states.Moreover, these areas or patterns of violations are to be investigated “with a view to ensuring full accountability, in particular where these violations may amount to crimes against humanity” (emphasis added). If so determined, the commissioners have the additional task of making recommendations to both the DPRK and the international community for further action. Almost certainly, as a part of the investigation, the commissioners will seek entry to Pyongyang. But even more certainly, the DPRK will refuse, as it has with the present and past Special Rapporteurs on human rights in the DPRK. However, given the huge amount of information potentially available in South Korea and Japan, Pyongyang’s non-cooperation won’t stymie the investigation. Other targeted states have also refused to cooperate with comparable UN investigations. … Once up and running, the inquiry into the DPRK violations will face a number of challenges. Such UN investigations are usually mandated to deal with a recent large-scale massacre or a recent series of inter-related severe violations. For North Korea, the CoI is mandated to establish the factual record on a wide-ranging number of violations, all of which are ongoing, but which date back decades to the 1970s for the abducted Japanese and South Korean citizens, and even to the Korean War for several thousand South Koreans who were chained and forced to march to the North during the North Korean army’s retreat from Seoul in the face of MacArthur’s’ advance. To illustrate the fact-finding challenges facing the CoI, taking one of the nine patterns of severe violations that I am most familiar with — the slave labor political prison camps — these prison camps are moving targets. North Korean refugees recently arrived in Seoul (termed “defectors” in South Korea) from the areas of Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province and Bukchang, South Pyong-an Province, claim that Camp 22 has been closed and the political prisoners transferred to other camps, and that Camp 18, has been substantially dismantled. But there is no first hand testimony on this from former prisoners or guards at these camps. Satellite imagery of other prison camps show new construction and seeming expansion. But there are not yet North Korean eyewitnesses accessible to investigators in South Korea who can confirm, verify or detail the new construction or suspected expansion seen in the most recent satellite photographs. The oft-cited round number of estimated political prisoners in the slave labor camps — 200,000 — was originally provided by defecting North Korean prison and state security officials ten to fifteen years ago. But by all former prisoner accounts, the camps have staggeringly high rates of deaths-in-detention. The total number of prisoners has almost certainly declined, as, in the absence of large-scale purges of the party, the army or the government ministries (that we would almost certainly find out about), it is unlikely that the number of new deportations to the camps matches the extraordinary rates of death-in-detention over the last decade or so. Similarly, while we know that very large numbers of prisoners in the camps are there by virtue of “guilt-by-association” for the real or imagined political misdemeanors of their relatives, we don’t know to what extent current deportations to the camps are by virtue of “guilt-by-association.” Similarly, two of the camps — Camps 15 and 18 — had “re-revolutionizing” or “re-education” zones from which prisoners were eligible for release, often after three to ten years of forced labor. Much of our information about the camps comes from former prisoners released from these zones who subsequently fled North Korea to China and South Korea. But there are no known releases from the camps since 2008. Thus, we don’t know if releases are ongoing, or if the former “re-revolutionizing zones” have been converted to “total control zones” where the prisoners are consigned to forced labor until death. The CoI will have to sort out the recent information on these matters. The HRC resolution also highlights violations of the right to food. This is the first of the nine subject areas mandated for the CoI. There is much less jurisprudence and scholarly literature on policy-induced or policy-driven famine as a crime against humanity compared with violations such as extra-judicial and summary executions, or rape as an instrument of repression. Notwithstanding, the current miasma in both North Korean agricultural policy and international food policies toward North Korea, the CoI has a considerable opportunity challenge here as it is tasked with making recommendations to both the DPRK and the international community. Both North Korean food production policy and the international response to the DPRK’s chronic food shortages are in considerable disarray and fully merit forthcoming examination. It may turn out to be not very difficult for the CoI to determine that some of the severe violations in North Korea constitute crimes against humanity. (David Hawk, “A United Nations Commission of Inquiry for North Korea,” 38North, April 1, 2103)


3/22/13:
DPRK FoMin spokesman: “The 22nd session of the UN Human Rights Council [on March 22] adopted a “resolution” which calls for forming a “commission of inquiry” on the basis of all sorts of false materials slandering the DPRK. The “resolution on human rights” against the DPRK cooked up by the U.S. and its allies every year with inveterate repugnancy and hostility towards the DPRK is a political chicanery which does not deserve even a passing note. The U.S., driven into a tight corner by a series of setbacks sustained by it in the political and military confrontation with the DPRK, is kicking up an anti-DPRK human rights campaign involving its allies in a ridiculous bid to hurt the DPRK. We will as always totally reject and disregard the recent “human rights resolution” against the DPRK, a product of political confrontation and conspiracy. The U.S. and the West have slandered the socialist countries over their “human rights issue” since the era of the Cold War. Their adoption of the anti-DPRK “human rights resolution”, a manifestation of their inveterate bad habit, simply betrays their base and vulgar practice of abusing the human rights, the noble concept of mankind, for their sinister political purpose. If the UN Human Rights Council is to discharge its mission, it should put an end to the farce of adopting anti-DPRK “human rights resolutions”, the height of politicization and selectivity of human rights and double standards, and take issue with the U.S. violation of sovereignty of other states in different parts of the world, to begin with. The ceaseless evil cycle of terrorism and revenge in those countries which turned into scenes of destruction and murder due to the aggression and interference by outside forces and the tragic human rights performance arousing serious concern of the international community clearly prove how serious the consequences of violation of sovereignty of other states are. The ever-escalating hostile acts of the U.S. to bring down the ideology and system chosen by the Korean people will only intensify their all-out action against the U.S.” (KCNA, “UN Human Rights Council’s ‘Resolution on Human Rights’ against DPRK Rejected by DPRK FM Spokesman,” March 22, 2013)

Despite escalated tension with Pyongyang, the Park Geun-hye administration granted permission to a private organization to provide a humanitarian aid package to North Korea for the first time since her inauguration in keeping with her two-track policy regarding the North.The Ministry of Unification announced yesterday that it gave governmental permission for the Eugene Bell Foundation, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington which provides humanitarian services to the North, to provide 678 million won ($605,708) worth of medical aid to Pyongyang.

According to the ministry, the medical package will namely be medicine to treat some 500 patients in North Korea suffering from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis. The shipment is expected to reach the North sometime next month and the aid will be transferred to eight TB Care Centers in North and South Pyongan provinces, Pyongyang and Nampo. Kim Hyeong-sik, the spokesman of the ministry, said that the aid was approved “taking into consideration that medicine to treat tuberculosis patients in North Korea has to be distributed urgently, especially for vulnerable social groups [such as the pregnant and young.]” “We look forward to this measure to help build trust between the North and South,” he added. The ministry said that the government is in the process of reviewing up to four other civilian organizations besides Eugene Bell to grant humanitarian aid to the North. The last aid request to North Korea was granted in November last year in the Lee Myung-bak administration, before Pyongyang’s rocket launch in December. (Sarah Kim, “First Aid to North Allowed under park,” JoongAng Ilbo, March 23, 2013)

Seeking to remove a longstanding irritant in Japan’s ties with the United States, Prime Minister Abe Shinzo said that his government would ask local officials on the island of Okinawa for a key permit to begin construction to relocate an unpopular American air base to another part of the island. The decision to request the permit is an effort by Abe’s government to restart a plan to move the American base, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, to a less crowded area. Abe and President Obama agreed last month to proceed with the relocation plan, which was originally approved in 1996 but has been blocked because of opposition in Okinawa, where many people prefer the base be moved off the island. That opposition appears to be as stiff as ever, making it uncertain that the island’s prefectural government will approve the permit. While the island’s governor, Nakaima Hirokazu, is a member of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, he is under intense public pressure to oppose the relocation. “I cannot understand it; this is impossible” to approve, Nakaima said of the government’s decision to seek the construction permit. For many Okinawans, the Futenma base has become a symbol of an onerous American military presence on an island that is home to more than half of the 50,000 United States military employees in Japan. Abe said on Friday, allowing the base to remain in its current location is “impermissible.” That is also the official position of the United States government, which wants to move Futenma and its aircraft from their current location in the center of the crowded city of Ginowan, in southern Okinawa, to Camp Schwab, an existing Marine base on the island’s jungle-covered northern end. “I don’t think it will be easy,” Abe said of getting permission to start new construction. “We need to proceed while rebuilding a relationship of trust” with Okinawans. The land-reclamation permit is needed before work can begin on filling in parts of the coral-filled sea off Camp Schwab for the new air base’s twin runways. The landfill plans are also fiercely opposed by many Okinawans, who say they would damage the island’s fragile ecosystem, and particularly the feeding grounds of the dugong, a large, manatee-like marine mammal. (Martin Fackler, “Japan Leader Backs Move of U.S. Base on Okinawa,” New York Times, March 23, 2013, p. A-4)


3/23/13:
The Chinese Navy will participate in the U.S.-organized RIMPAC multinational maritime exercise off Hawaii for the first time in 2014, informed sources have said. The Rim of the Pacific Exercise is the world’s largest joint naval exercise, held once every two years. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called on the Chinese Navy to participate when he visited China in September. The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama intends to stabilize Asia-Pacific security through the establishment of mutual trust with China on the military level, the sources said Thursday. It would like to expand military exchanges with Beijing, which has been increasingly seeking to expand its interests in the Pacific, they said. This year the U.S. Navy officially invited its Chinese counterpart to the exercise and the Chinese side expressed its intention to participate, according to the sources. China had never been invited to RIMPAC before and had called it a “China containment” policy by the United States and other nations. The exercise mainly consists of tactical training programs including ship-to-ship battle drills, antisubmarine warfare, sea-to-air drills and missile launches. Twenty-two countries sent 46 vessels, about 200 aircraft and about 25,000 personnel to RIMPAC 2012, including those from the U.S. Navy and the Maritime Self-Defense Force. Eleven countries including the United States, Japan, Australia, South Korea and Canada sent vessels and aircraft, while another 11 countries sent only personnel. At this stage it has not been decided whether China will send vessels and aircraft to RIMPAC 2014, the sources said. Against China, which has been strengthening its naval power, the U.S. government has been taking both “soft” and “hard” approaches. On the hard side, it has tried to keep China in check by reinforcing alliances with Japan and other countries. In contrast, its invitation to RIMPAC, which is part of military exchanges by the United States, is a soft approach. The Chinese Navy has acted in ways that indicate the country does not understand international rules, a defense source said. Such actions include applying a fire-control radar at an MSDF destroyer near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture in January. The invitation to the RIMPAC joint military exercise is aimed at prompting China to recognize global standards that would increase the transparency of its military activities. (Nakajima Kentaro, “China to Join RIMPAC Drills in 2014; First-Ever Invite Seeks to Build Trust,” Yomiuri Shimbun, March 23, 2013)


3/24/13:
The militaries of South Korea and the United States said they have worked out a new joint operational plan that details how they should cooperate to deal with North Korean provocations. The Combined Counter-Provocation Plan, signed between South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) Chairman Gen. Jung Seung-jo and Gen. James Thurman, the commander of the U.S. Forces in South Korea, went into effect immediately. “By completing this plan, we improved our combined readiness posture to allow us to immediately and decisively respond to any North Korean provocation,” the Combined Forces Command (CFC) of the two allies said in a statement. “The completed plan includes procedures for consultation and action to allow for a strong and decisive combined Republic of Korea-U.S. response to North Korean provocations and threats.” The allies have been working on the plan since 2010 when North Korea torpedoed the South Korean warship Cheonan and bombarded the South’s border island of Yeonpyeong in the Yellow Sea. Gen. Jung said the North’s military threats are for real.”We are ready to sternly retaliate North Korea’s provocations as this plan was completed,” he said. “This plan allows South Korean and U.S. forces to respond more strongly than when they had separate plans.” According to the new plan, South Korea’s military is set to play a more active role in taking any counteractions against “the origin of North Korean provocation and surrounding forces in the first stage.” If North Korean provocations escalate, the U.S. will provide reinforcements from within and outside of South Korea, including Japan and elsewhere in the region under the control of the U.S. Pacific Command, South Korean military officials said. Previously, South Korean forces were solely in charge of any actions against North Korean provocations, while the U.S military would come to the aid of South Korea only when a full-scale war erupts, they said. “The South Korean military’s operational plan now calls for striking the origin of the enemy’s provocation and supporting and command forces,” a senior South Korean defense ministry official said. “Depending on the type of provocations and operational circumstance, the U.S. with its weapons can strike North Korean territories.” (Kim Eun-jung, “S. Korea, U.S. Sign Combined Operational Plan against N. Korea,” Yonhap, March 24, 2013) The United States military said that it had signed an agreement with South Korea on how to counter provocations from North Korea. The two allies described the new contingency plans as “South Korean-led, U.S.-supported.” They lay out various types of provocations and a joint South Korean-American response for each type, South Korean officials said. Putting those commitments down on paper will help deter provocations, they said. The two allies refused to disclose specifics about how far the United States would go in its supporting role, especially at what point American troops would directly join a South Korean counterattack against a North Korean provocation. In recent weeks, South Korea has said that if provoked, it would attack not only the origin of the North Korean provocation but also “its supporting forces and its commanding post.” “By completing this plan, we improved our combined readiness posture to allow us to immediately and decisively respond to any North Korean provocation,” a joint statement from the two allies said. The plan was signed by Gen. James D. Thurman, the top American commander in South Korea, and Gen. Jung Seung-jo, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the South Korean military. (Choe Sang-hun, “South Korea: U.S. Signs Defense Deal,” New York Times, March 26, 2013, p. A-8)

The Park Geun-hye administration will actively engage with North Korea with more support and exchange projects if the communist neighbor strives to follow international norms, a senior official at Seoul’s presidential office said. “Support for North Korea and diverse inter-Korean exchange programs will be expanded as long as the North cooperates with peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula by refraining from provocations and joining the international community,” said a high-ranking official at Seoul’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. His remarks echo Park’s “Korean Peninsula trust process” vision that calls for greater exchanges and dialogue between the two sides so as to build trust and reduce tensions across their heavily fortified border. Citing the approval of a shipment of tuberculosis medicine by a private South Korean charity group to the North, the first aid package under the Park government, the official stressed the differences in how Park will deal with the communist North compared to former President Lee Myung-bak. “Park’s key principle is that any political incidents will not wholly suspend humanitarian aid and inter-Korean exchange programs,” he said, “It’s certain that Park’s policy toward Pyongyang will be different from that of Lee.” (Yonhap, “Park Ready to Widen Inter-Korean Exchanges without Provocations by North: Official,” March 24, 2013)


3/25/13:
Seoul is working on a program to help North Korea address years of deforestation and environmental degradation, as part of a “green détente” aimed at reducing simmering tensions on the peninsula. Last year’s severe floods in North Korea, which killed more than 150 people and displaced tens of thousands, reflected the environmental damage caused by the extensive clearing of woodland in recent decades. The country now has the third most severe level of deforestation in the world, according to the UK consultancy Maplecroft. Tensions rose to their highest point for two years this month as South Korea and the US carried out a large military exercise, drawing North Korean warnings of imminent war. But South Korea’s new government has identified environmental projects as a possible testing ground for co-operation with Pyongyang, in line with President Park Geun-hye’s promise to pursue “trust-based diplomacy with the North”. The early-stage plan, which may allow for the involvement of other nations and organizations, is being drafted by Seoul’s ministry of foreign affairs and will be presented to Park later this week. The plan is effectively a revival of an idea first conceived more than a decade ago, but has languished amid volatile relations between Seoul and Pyongyang. Reforestation, the first stage, would help to address the fragile state of North Korean agriculture, which has undermined the state food distribution system and left about a third of children stunted due to malnutrition. The economic collapse of the 1990s prompted Pyongyang to order the clearing of forest to make way for farmland. The country’s forested areas fell from 8.2m ha in 1990 to 6.19m ha in 2005, according to the UN. But instead of helping to boost agricultural production, deforestation has further undermined it. Fertile topsoil has been washed away from fields no longer protected from heavy rainfall by surrounding forests, while such farmland is also now more vulnerable to drought in dry periods. Kwon Tae-jin, a senior researcher at the Korea Rural Economic Institute in Seoul, said that the “green détente” plan could be appealing to Pyongyang, which will need large amounts of money to improve its farmland. “North Korea’s deforestation situation is very serious, and crop yields are falling due to land degradation,” he said, noting that the situation had been further exacerbated by a failure to rotate crops. But North Korea might be unwilling to accept bilateral assistance from the South in the near future, and would be more likely to agree to a multinational program, said Phillip Park, a professor at Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies. Pyongyang had already been investing in efforts to repair the damage to its farmland, he said. According to South Korea’s central bank, North Korea’s agricultural sector grew by 5.3 per cent in 2011, helping the economy to record its first year of growth since 2008. This was largely a result of mass mobilization of labor and increased use of tractors, Kwon said. (Simon Mundy, “Seoul Plans ‘Green Détente’ with Pyongyang,” Financial Times, March 25, 2013)

It took 56 days for the U.S. to flow two divisions’ worth of soldiers into the failed nuclear-armed state of “North Brownland” and as many as 90,000 troops to deal with the country’s nuclear stockpiles, a major U.S. Army war game concluded this winter. The Unified Quest war game conducted this year by Army planners posited the collapse of a nuclear-armed, xenophobic, criminal family regime that had lorded over a closed society and inconveniently lost control over its nukes as it fell. Army leaders stayed mum about the model for the game, but all indications — and maps seen during the game at the Army War College — point to North Korea. While American forces who staged in a neighboring friendly country to the south eventually made it over the border into North Brownland, they encountered several problems for which they struggled to find solutions. One of the first was that a large number of nuclear sites were in populated areas, so they had to try to perform humanitarian assistance operations while conducting combined arms maneuver and operations. One way of doing this was to “use humanitarian assistance as a form of maneuver,” Maj. Gen. Bill Hix, director of the Army’s Concept Development and Learning Directorate, told reporters. The Army dropped humanitarian supplies a short distance from populated areas, drawing the population away from the objective sites, he explained. Many of the problems encountered were hashed out with Army leaders at a Senior Leader Seminar on March 19 at Fort McNair in Washington. The event — which included the Army chief of staff, Gen. Ray Odierno, and the vice chief, Gen. John Campbell, along with a collection of three- and four-star generals — was off the record, but under terms of the agreement that allowed a handful of reporters to cover the event, unattributed quotes can be reported. One of the major complications was that “technical ISR was not capable of closing the gap” caused by not having human intelligence assets in the country for years before the fight, one participant said. Also, “our ability to get north was hindered by our operational inflexibility,” particularly when it comes to dropping troops into austere, contested areas. To move soldiers quickly, Marine Corps V-22 Ospreys quickly inserted Army units deep behind enemy lines, but leaders found that inserting troops far in front of the main force so quickly often caused them to be surrounded, after which they had to be withdrawn. Overall, the friendly force ultimately “failed to achieve the operational agility” it needed to succeed, another participant complained, “largely due to the rigidity” of current deployment models. What’s more, the joint force was “able to get the force there quickly, but it was the technical force” that proved more difficult to deploy. Another participant agreed, adding “the key challenge was timely access to joint enablers” such as ISR and counter-weapons of mass destruction units, which were desperately needed by the general-purpose ground units. “We’ve had the luxury in the last several wars of a place called Kuwait” from which to launch troops and stage equipment, one officer said. “I think our skills have atrophied in the call you get in the middle of the night,” and in forcible-entry operations from the air and sea. Skills haven’t been kept fresh in doing things such as loading trains full of equipment, and in setting up new command posts, he said. Another leader agreed. “We have been spoiled by a command-and-control network that has been established for a decade” in Afghanistan and Iraq, he said, adding that the Army has to get back to training to operate in an austere environment. One lesson from Iraq and Afghanistan, reinforced by the Unified Quest game, was that “we’re not going to fight a pure military war again,” one four-star general opined. Instead, being successful in conflict will require a variety of solutions requiring cultural knowledge, political acumen and other intelligence activities. The problem is, according to another officer, that the service needs to better understand the cultures in which it will fight, since “we tend to focus on the clash, when we need to focus on the will” of the local population. Gen. Robert Cone, director of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, said the difficulties the Army faces in moving troops and materiel around the battlefield again reinforced that “we have significant inter-service dependencies on our ability to move” and that any future fight will be a joint fight. When asked about the potential for conflict in North Korea specifically, Cone said that while he thinks the forces the U.S. has today in South Korea “are adequate … the question is what forces are adequate for the problem of loose nukes?” (Paul McLeary, “U.S. Army Learns Hard Lesson in N. Korea-Like War Game,” Defense News, March 26, 2013)


3/26/13:
KPA Supreme Command statement: “The U.S. nuclear war racket has gone beyond the danger line and entered the phase of an actual war, defying the repeated warnings from the army and people of the DPRK. The U.S. let B-52 formation deployed in Anderson air force base on Guam fly into the sky above south Korea at around 08:00 on March 25. The formation staged a nuclear striking drill with simulated targets in the depth of the DPRK from around 11:50 and revealed it to the public.The U.S. even let the conservative media of south Korea reveal the process of the 2010 operation against Osama bin Laden. It openly said the operational plan of “south Korea-U.S. combined forces” includes targeting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK with the use of lethal striking means and methods of the U.S. imperialist aggression forces and the south Korean puppet army. They blustered that the operation targeting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK has no problem in terms of military technique, adding that they are closely monitoring all the relevant moves of the DPRK. They even made such bluff that now is the time to unfold “active north Korea policy,” “not passive one.” The present south Korean puppet authorities tried to link the Cheonan sinking case with the DPRK and shift the blame for the Yonphyong Island shelling on to the DPRK just as traitor Lee Myung Bak did. They said they plan mounting precision missile attacks on the statues of great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il in different parts of the DPRK including those in Pyongyang if “local provocation” of similar nature reoccurs. They, unafraid of divine punishment, even said that they drafted the “list of targets” based on detailed analysis of the locations, sizes and specific features of those statues. All these moves clearly prove that the anti-DPRK hostile acts now under way by the U.S., south Korean puppet forces and all other followers under the pretext of the DPRK’s satellite launch and the underground nuclear test have entered a reckless phase of practical implementation after going beyond the phase of threatening and blackmailing. The gravity of the situation lies in that such reckless moves are timed to coincide with the U.S.-masterminded resolutions on sanctions against the DPRK being carried into practice intensively through conspiracy and nexus with all hues of hostile forces. The KPA Supreme Command declares at home and abroad the final decision of the army and people of the DPRK as follows as regards the present prevailing situation: 1. We will demonstrate with the practical military action the firm will of the army and people of the DPRK to take counteraction to defend the sovereignty and dignity of the supreme leadership of the country. There is a limit to patience. It is the clear conclusion drawn by us that we can never tolerate the serious situation in which the sovereignty and dignity of the supreme leadership of the country are ruthlessly trampled down and the U.S. nuclear threat and blackmail are turning into a real war. From this moment the KPA Supreme Command will put on the highest alert all the field artillery units including strategic rocket units and long-range artillery units which are assigned to strike bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor troops in the U.S. mainland and on Hawaii and Guam and other operational zone in the Pacific as well as all the enemy targets in south Korea and its vicinity. 2. We will show the present puppet authorities of south Korea, which are dancing to the tune of their master, kowtowing to his hostile policy toward the DPRK, the strongest will of the DPRK army with physical action. The enemies are seriously mistaken if they think they can find an opportunity for striking “basic bases” and attacking “support forces” and “commanding forces.” They should be mindful that everything will be reduced to ashes and flames the moment the first attack is unleashed. It is the unshakable stand of the army and people of the DPRK that they can never allow the treacherous acts, the preceding ruler committed by pushing the inter-Korean relations to a catastrophe and blocking the way for peace and prosperity for five years, to be taken over by the present south Korean chief executive. 3. We call upon progressive people of the world opposing war and loving peace to turn out as one in the struggle against the brigandish U.S. highhanded and arbitrary practices. Injustice can never become justice though it is practiced by big countries with advantageous military muscles. Even the resolution of the UN Security Council will become unjust one and become an international crime going against the trend of the times if it is devoid of impartiality. Injustice is temporary one and will die in end. But justice is like a flame that flares up forever. The KPA Supreme Command calls upon the conscience of the world to actively join the army and people of the DPRK in defending independence and justice, not blindly following the U.S. high-handed and arbitrary practices and the UNSC’s “resolutions” bereft of impartiality. Victory is in store for the army and people of the DPRK rising up to defend the sovereignty, and progressive people of the world loving justice and peace.” (KCNA, “DPRK Will Show Its Will for Counteraction with Military Action: KPA Supreme Command,” March 26, 2013)

DPRK FoMin spokesman: “The U.S. anti-DPRK hostile acts being intensified over its satellite launch for peaceful purposes have reached the eve of nuclear war. On Monday [March 25] U.S. B-52 strategic bombers flew to the sky above south Korea by stealth again to stage a nuclear bomb dropping drill aimed at a surprise preemptive nuclear attack on the DPRK. Their flight defying our repeated warnings clearly proves that the U.S. plan for a nuclear war has entered an uncontrollable phase of practice. The U.S. is making desperate efforts to seek a way out from igniting a nuclear war against the DPRK, afraid that if the DPRK with nuclear weapons achieves economic prosperity through the building of a thriving nation, its hostile policy toward the DPRK will end in failure. The U.S. has already cooked up two “resolutions on sanctions” through the UN Security Council in less than two months, creating a vicious cycle of escalated tension to provide an international pretext for unleashing a nuclear war under the signboard of “nuclear non-proliferation.” Now the U.S. is mobilizing all their “three nuclear attack means” in the preparation for a nuclear war against the DPRK. Strategic nuclear missiles in the U.S. mainland are aiming at the DPRK and submarines with nuclear warheads are swarming to the waters off south Korea and its vicinity in the Pacific region. Meanwhile, the U.S. deputy secretary of Defense, who visited south Korea to finally examine the preparations for a nuclear war against the DPRK, openly said that the U.S. military attaches top priority to the second Korean war, giving green light to a nuclear war. Accordingly, the commander of the U.S. forces in south Korea and the south Korean military chief drafted a “joint plan to cope with local provocation”. The main point of it is to start a total nuclear war involving the U.S. forces in the U.S. mainland and the Pacific region after the south Korean puppet army touches off a conflict. The south Korean warmongers, elated with the backing of the U.S. master, are threatening punishment to “provocation” of the DPRK and even seeking a nefarious purpose of hurting statues of great Generalissimos Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, symbol of our supreme dignity. The prevailing grave situation goes to prove that the U.S. is seeking a nuclear war against the DPRK, its first target of attack, after moving the strategic centre for world domination to the Asian-Pacific region. A nuclear war in the Korean Peninsula is no longer a presentative meaning but realistic one. Now the U.S. is making false show of the numerical advantage in nuclear weapons but it is doomed to perish in the flames kindled by itself. The DPRK has its own powerful precision means for nuclear attack and nuclear war methods. The south Korean puppets who are behaving recklessly under their master’s nuclear umbrella will experience a sound by-blow of a nuclear attack when a war breaks out between the DPRK and the U.S. To cope with the prevailing grave situation the KPA Supreme Command made a final decision to demonstrate with a practical military action the strong will of the DPRK army and people to take a resolute counteraction and gave an order to the strike forces of justice to keep themselves on the highest alert. Upon authorization the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK openly informs the UN Security Council that the Korean Peninsula is now in a touch-and-go situation due to the nuclear war provocation moves of the U.S. and south Korean puppets. The DPRK army and people that have become one with the Supreme Command are entering the final stage of the all-out showdown with the U.S. to defend the country’s sovereignty and the nation’s dignity by dint of the power of Songun they have long bolstered up.” (KCNA, “DPRK Informs UNSC of Impending Danger of Nuclear War on Korean Peninsula,” March 26, 2013)


3/27/13:
KCNA: “The south Korean puppet forces have kicked up the racket for confrontation with the fellow countrymen by taking the advantages of the U.S. intensified nuclear threats to the DPRK and the racket for sanctions on it. They have now entered the phase of hurting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK. The Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army solemnly declared that it would demonstrate the firm will for counteraction of the army and people with substantial military actions to defend the sovereignty and the supreme dignity of the country under the prevailing situation where the U.S., the south Korean puppet forces and all other followers have entered an adventurous phase in their hostile acts against the DPRK after going beyond the phase of threatening and blackmailing. Due to the reckless acts of the enemies, the north-south military communications which were set up for dialogue and cooperation between the north and the south has already lost its significance. In this regard, the head of the DPRK side’s delegation to the north-south general-level military talks sent the south Korean puppet military authorities the following telephone message at 11:20 on Wednesday [March 27]: The situation is becoming grim as the south side staged the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle nuclear war exercises pursuant to the U.S. moves to encroach upon the sovereignty of the DPRK. Under the situation where a war may break out any moment, there is no need to keep north-south military communications which were laid between the militaries of both sides. War and confrontation can never go together with dialogue and reconciliation under any circumstances. I, upon authorization, inform the south side that the north-south military communications will be cut off and the members of the north side at the military communications liaison office in the zone under the control of the north and the south in the west coastal area will stop their activities from this moment. This step will be thoroughly implemented as long as the south side’s anachronistic hostile acts against the DPRK go on. There do not exist any dialogue channel and communications means between the DPRK and the U.S. and between the north and the south. Not words but only arms will work on the U.S. and the south Korean puppet forces. The will of the army and people of the DPRK to safeguard the sovereignty and the supreme dignity of the country will be displayed through practical physical counteraction.” (KCNA, “Telephone Message Sent to S. Korean Military Authorities,” March 27, 2013)

North Korea had already shut down Red Cross hot lines with South Korea and a communication line with the American military command in South Korea. But the North’s decision to cut off military hot lines with South Korea on Wednesday was taken more seriously in Seoul because the two Koreas have used those four telephone lines to control daily cross-border traffic of workers and cargo traveling to the North Korean border town of Kaesong. “There do not exist any dialogue channel and communications means between the D.P.R.K. and the U.S. and between the North and the South,” said a North Korean statement sent to the South Korean military by telephone and later carried by KCNA. “Not words but only arms will work on the U.S. and the South Korean puppet forces.” The two Koreas continue to maintain hot lines between their civil aviation authorities. “Under the situation where a war may break out any moment, there is no need to keep North-South military communications,” the North said. “If North Korea provokes or does things that harm peace, we must make sure that it gets nothing but will pay the price, while if it keeps its promises, the South should do the same,” President Park Guen-hye said during a briefing with her government’s top diplomats and North Korea policy makers. “Without rushing, and in the same way we would lay one brick after another, we must develop South-North relations step by step, based on trust, and create sustainable peace.” Her new unification minister, Ryoo Kihl-jae, South Korea’s point man on North Korea, later told reporters that his government was willing to consider lifting trade embargoes imposed on the North after the deadly sinking of a South Korean Navy ship in 2010, but not before North Korea takes responsibility for the sinking, which killed 46 South Korean sailors. “We keep our door open for dialogue,” Ryoo said. But today, the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, counterpart to Ryoo’s ministry, berated Park for warning a day earlier that the Pyongyang government could ensure its survival only when it stops building nuclear weapons while its people go hungry. “This time her remarks have gone beyond the line,” the committee said. It said Park’s recent comments were “utterly shocking” compared with her earlier indications that she would not maintain the hard-line policy of her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak. “If she keeps to the road of confrontation like traitor Lee, defying the warnings of the D.P.R.K., she will meet a miserable ruin,” the committee said. Rodong Sinmun, said ithe North planned “substantial military actions,” including “pre-emptive nuclear strikes” against the United States and South Korea. (Choe Sang-hun, “North Korea Cuts off the Remaining Military Hotlines with South Korea,” New York Times, March 28, 2013, p. A-12)

Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea spokesman: “The chief of Chongwadae made a “memorial address” at a “service” held at Taejon Memorial Monument Tuesday [March 26] amid the anti-DPRK confrontation racket that has been stepped up in south Korea on the occasion of the third anniversary of Cheonan warship sinking case. In the address she let loose a string of confrontational rhetoric that “nuclear weapons can not protect the social system”, “nuclear weapons should be dismantled” and called for “change” and “stop to provocation.” She even said invectives slandering the social system in the DPRK, talking about “hunger”, “isolation” and “option of road for peace and prosperity.” This is an unpardonable provocation against the DPRK and a blatant challenge to it. As for the sinking case, it was a hideous farce orchestrated by the group of Lee Myung Bak as part of its moves for confrontation and a war against the DPRK. The truth of the case has already been brought to light, inviting derision of the public at home and abroad. No other country is wicked and degenerated more than the group of traitors of south Korea who hurled innocent young people of the puppet army into miserable death and is using it for escalating confrontation with fellow countrymen. Matter is that the owner of the inner room of Chongwadae is repeating the confrontation racket of the preceding regime. What’s more, she said “it is impossible to live with nukes”, just echoing what her precedent said. This is utterly shocking when recalling “distinction” and “switchover in north policy” much touted by her. This clearly shows that the present regime is confrontation-minded regime little different from the Lee Myung Bak regime. Is it the north’s nukes or the U.S. nukes which threaten the security and peace? Who is keen on provocation and who should be changed? The owner of Chongwadae had better know this and watch her tongue. She did not hesitate to make venomous remarks at the “presidential inaugural speech” and “speech for commemorating March first uprising.” This time her remarks have gone beyond the line. “Process for building trust” and “dialogue” are just hypocrisy and deception as she now incites confrontation with fellow countrymen. We have already seriously warned against the venomous swish of skirt of Chongwadae. We are now again forced to warn south Korea that the ever-more undisguised confrontation frenzy is pushing the DPRK’s patience and self-restraint to the limit. She should behave with discretion, clearly mindful that a wrong word may entail horrible disaster at a time when the north-south relations are being pushed to the lowest ebb and the danger of an all-out war is increasing on the Korean Peninsula. If she keeps to the road of confrontation like traitor Lee, defying the warnings of the DPRK, she will meet a miserable ruin.” (KCNA, “S. Korean Chief Executive’s Invectives against DPRK Slammed: CPRK Spokesman,” March 27, 2013)North Korea said that it will cut a military hotline with South Korea, the latest in a string of provocations that include the North’s unilateral severance of an inter-Korean Red Cross hotline on March 11. “The Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army solemnly declared that … Due to the reckless acts of the enemies, the north-south military communications which were set up for dialogue and cooperation between the north and the south has already lost its significance,” KCNA reported, citing hostility from the United States and South Korea. The report said that the North sent a message to the South at 11:20 a.m., quoting the head of the North Korean side’s delegation to the north-south general-level military talks as saying, “I, upon authorization, inform the south side that the north-south military communications will be cut off and the members of the north side at the military communications liaison office in the zone under the control of the north and the south in the west coastal area will stop their activities from this moment.” The military hotline established in 2006 has been used to notify the North of any planned movement of people and vehicles to the Kaesong complex located just north of the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas. South Korea’s Ministry of Unification confirmed that the North is no longer answering calls made on the hotline. “The North must take immediate steps to reconsider its actions,” a ministry official said. The official, however, said that despite the North shutting off contact, movement of people and vehicle traffic took place without problems during the day. He pointed out that notification processes over the demilitarized zone have all been exchanged three days in advance. (Yonhap, “N. Korea Cuts Inter-Korean Military Hotline,” March 27, 2013) “The announcement of cutting the final hotline at the border village of Panmunjom is as part of the North’s recent move to ratchet up tension,” a military official said. Pyongyang watchers say the North is seeking diplomatic ways out of the current situation. “Recent moves by the North to stress the dangerous situation on the Korean Peninsula may be a plan to overcome the present unfavorable circumstances,” said Chang Yong-seok, a senior researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University. “By referring to growing risks, Pyongyang may be seeking dialogue with the outside world.” (Kang Seung-woo, “North Cuts All S-N Hotlines,” Korea Times, March 27, 2013)

President Park Geun-hye called for a steady development of inter-Korean relations in a way that will lead to lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula. “The new government’s foreign and North Korea policy is designed to establish peace and a foundation for reunification by building and restoring trust between the South and the North upon firm (national) security,” Park said during a joint policy briefing by the foreign and unification ministries at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae. “Without rushing and in the same way that we would lay one brick after another, based on trust, (we) will have to develop South-North relations step by step and create sustainable peace.” (Yonhap, “Park Calls for Steady Development of Inter-Korean Relations,” March 27, 2013) South Korea will seek to hold talks with North Korea this year to help arrange reunions of separated families and try to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the Ministry of Unification said. In its 2013 policy plan reported to President Park Geun-hye, the ministry said it will propose meetings between the two countries’ Red Cross groups to hold reunions of families separated by the Korean War (1950-53) “at an appropriate time.” About 81,800 South Koreans have registered with the government as having been parted from their families in the North during the three-year-long conflict. Seoul will also seek official government-to-government talks with North Korea to discuss ways to curb provocative rhetoric and actions by Pyongyang, according to the policy plan. “I cannot say now in detail when the reunion project will take place,” Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said in a news briefing after he reported to the chief executive. “Responsible measures should first be taken by North Korea” in order for the South to lift the punitive measures, Ryoo said. The unification ministry also plans to continue its humanitarian aid to the underprivileged in the North through international organizations, including the World Health Organization, as well as local private aid groups, the report said. “I hope the Unification Ministry will solve the current dire situation. I will put forth efforts to make that happen,” Ryoo said. “The ministry will take step-by-step actions to show the Park administration’s North Korean policy stance to the North and the policy, if properly conveyed to the North, would expectedly induce changes in the North’s attitude.” (Yonhap, “Seoul to Seek Family Reunions with Pyongyang This Year,” March 27, 2013) Unification Minister Ryoo said that the ministry will basically take a two-track strategy in dealing with North Korea — boost inter-Korean relations but pressure Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambitions. “I know there are public demands calling for the government’s unification policies to evolve, going beyond the former administrations’ policies,” Ryoo said. But he said the situation is too grave for it to be improved, referring to the recent military provocations of the regime. “In the midst of this situation, the Unification Ministry will view this challenge as a new opportunity for the future,” he said. “Taking two top agendas — the trust-building process and preparations for unification — we selected nine main assignments and three cooperative tasks.” “If the two Koreas develop a variety of talks, and if we judge that both have built mutual trust with each other, we can probably talk about North Korea’s nuclear program as one of the agendas,” Ryoo said. He said the ministry will approve civilian-level aid for the North. “President Park already has said she will resume humanitarian assistance for the underprivileged classes and children,” the minister said. “If the inter-Korean relations are improved, we can also add more items to the list.” When it comes to the Kaesong Industrial Complex, he said he will expand its international market. “When there is a further negotiation of free trade agreement [between the South and U.S. or China or the European Union], I will persuade them to approve products from the complex.” The flexible approach came after criticism over the Lee Myung-bak administration’s so-called “Denuclearization, Openness and 3,000” initiative — the former administration’s policy in dealing with North Korea. The rigid, conditional assistance came under fire by analysts and soured relations between the two Koreas. “That condition — ‘No denuclearization, then no dialogue’ — doesn’t exist anymore now,” a senior Blue House official told JoongAng Ilbo by phone. “But it also doesn’t mean ‘Dialogue before denuclearization.’ “A six-party talk can be launched anytime if prepared, and the pressure for denuclearization can also occur [separately],” he said. (Kim Hee-jin, “More Flexible Stance on North,” JoongAng Ilbo, March 28, 2013)


3/28/13:
In a strong show of force against North Korea, two B-2 U.S. stealth bombers took part in an annual joint military exercise today. The inclusion of the hi-tech aircraft came shortly after the defense chiefs of South Korea and the United States reaffirmed their joint commitment to fight together in the event of any provocative action taken by North Korea. The Korea-United Combined Forces Command (CFC) announced that the strategic bombers, capable of launching nuclear-armed missiles, carried out a bombing drill as part of the Foal Eagle exercise which is scheduled to run through April 30. “Demonstrating the commitment of the United States and its capability to defend South Korea, the U.S. Strategic Command sent two B-2 Spirit bombers for a long-duration, round-trip training mission from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., to Korea,” the CFC said in a statement. The warplanes dropped bombs on the Jik-do Range in coastal waters off Gunsan, North Jeolla Province and then returned to their base, the CFC added. “As the B-2 has a radar-evading stealth function, it can penetrate anti-aircraft defenses to drop conventional and nuclear weapons,” a senior military official said. “It is the strategic weapon most feared by North Korea.” Additional to the stealth aircraft, B-52 bombers, another nuclear-capable warplane, and a nuclear-powered attack submarine the USS Cheyenne were also involved in the military drill, amounting to a strong show of U.S. determination regarding North Korea amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The training run of the B-2s took place hours after the South Korean and U.S. defense chiefs discussed military commitments and strategies in a phone call. According to the Ministry of National Defense (MND), Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin agreed with his U.S. counterpart Chuck Hagel “not to tolerate the North’s dedication to expanding programs for nuclear missiles and weapons of mass destruction (WMD),” making it clear that North Korea would be held responsible for any aggressive action. The Department of Defense described the alliance as instrumental in maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula. “The secretary highlighted the steadfast U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea, including extended deterrence capabilities, and pointed to the recently signed ROK-U.S. counter provocation plan as a mechanism to enhance consultation and coordination of alliance responses to North Korean aggression,” said Pentagon Press Secretary George Little. The ministers also discussed a recently announced U.S. plan to increase U.S. ground-based interceptors and early warning and tracking radar in response to the North Korean threat. (Kang Seung-woo, “B-2 Bobers Fly over in Show of Force against NK,” Korea Times, March 28, 2013)

OSD Briefing: “Q: Mr. Secretary, regarding North Korea, would you say that — is North Korea more dangerous now than you think it was six months or a year ago? And could you talk both about the decision to send the B-2s to South Korea for this exercise? Was that not more of a provocative move by the United States? Does that risk provocating North Korea to do something more so than they might have already been? HAGEL: Well, first, we, the United States and South Korea, have not been involved in provocating anything. We, over the years, have been engaged with South Korea on joint exercises. The B-2 flight was part of that. I made an announcement a couple of weeks ago regarding new missile defense capabilities, which cuts to your question about, is North Korea more dangerous today? I think their very provocative actions and belligerent tone, it has ratcheted up the danger, and we have to understand that reality. We — the United States, South Koreans, all of the nations in — in that region of the world — are committed to a pathway to peace. And the North Koreans seem to be headed in a different direction here. So we will unequivocally defend and we are unequivocally committed to that alliance with South Korea, as well as our other allies in that region of the world. And we will be prepared — we have to be prepared to deal with any eventuality there. Q: Mr. Secretary, along those lines, last week General Thurman, the commander, U.S. commander there, signed with his South Korean counterpart something called a combined counter- provocation plan. It talks about consultations with the South in light any of, you know, North Korean provocations. We’ve been told this is an effort to kind of put a brake on things, to prevent things from escalating, to have a calming effect. Would you agree with that? And if not, what’s the point of having this plan? GEN. DEMPSEY: I can actually help you with that, sir, because this has been about a two-year process. And I wouldn’t describe it as all as trying to put a brake on our very close South Korean allies. … General Thurman wears three hats. One of them is a U.N. hat. And he’s responsible for sustaining the armistice, and then he has his combined forces command hat and his U.S. Forces Korea hat. So he has to have not only visibility and transparency, but — but he has to have influence in the process of managing the potential for conflict on the peninsula. So this is just essentially allowing him and my South Korean counterpart, General Jeong, to come to agreement about how that influence will be — will be handled. Q: So why now? … GEN. DEMPSEY: Sure. I think the answer to that question is — is that this has been an ongoing effort to have a counter-provocation plan over the last two years in recognition of the stated position of the South Korean government that they no longer are willing to be provoked. And so we wanted to make sure we understood what that meant. … Q: Mr. Secretary, beyond the heightened rhetoric, have you seen any moves that suggest any kind of military steps by the North Koreans that we should be concerned about? … . GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, as you know, we’re — we’re in our annual exercise cycle. So are they. And so there have been moves in the maritime domain on each coast, as well as some of the artillery units that are across the demilitarized zone from Seoul. So, yeah, there have been movements. We haven’t seen anything that would cause us to believe there are movements other than consistent with historic patterns and training exercises. Q: And no reaction, then, to the B-2s that you’re aware of? GEN. DEMPSEY: Well, the reaction to the B-2 that we’re most concerned about is not necessarily the reaction it might elicit in North Korea, but rather among our Japanese and Korean allies. You know, those exercises are mostly to assure our allies that they can count on us to be prepared and to help them deter conflict. Q: Mr. Secretary (inaudible) sequestration question — and for General Dempsey, too. Since January, the public has been hearing the military warn of a potential readiness crisis from sequestration. Sequestration is here now. You have to live with it. Are we entering a — a period of readiness crisis? Or is it more a period of adjustment, where you have to live within your means, basically? HAGEL: Well, you’re always adjusting. And when you are dealing with $41 billion less than what was projected in a budget, you’re going to adjust. And to maintain readiness is a key part of our responsibility. And I think, as General Dempsey has said, as I’ve said, all our leaders have said, we will work around that. I mean, we will make things work for that readiness. That’s a priority. You have to have that. It is a balancing and a rebalancing, just as we noted in some of our comments here and in others. So we’ve got no choice. It is — it is what it is. But make no mistake, this capability of this Department of Defense to defend the interest of our country and our allies will be there. GEN. DEMPSEY: If I could add, the answer is yes, actually. It’s both. And it’s both for this reason. This is not — you know, some of you are students of history and the expansion and contraction of defense budgets over time. This is not the deepest, but it is the steepest. It’s the steepest decline in our budget ever. And so what we’ve got is an FY ’13 problem that will affect readiness and it will affect it into ’14. But what the secretary has challenged us to do is, first of all, lead our way through that. We’ve got to get through ’13 and ’14. And then as we look to the ’15- ’19 budget, he’s asked us to do this review to look for the kind of opportunities you’re talking about. Q: So it wouldn’t be inaccurate to say the United States faces a major readiness crisis because of sequestration? Well, have you got enough relief right now from the budget to somewhat mitigate a full-blown readiness crisis? GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, give us about two weeks to answer that question. We’re in the midst of trying to figure that out.” (News Briefing with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin E. Dempsey, DoD transcript, March 28, 2013)

The global effort to regulate the sale of conventional weapons suffered a significant but not fatal setback after Iran, Syria and North Korea opposed the draft Arms Trade Treaty, blocking the consensus needed for passage after years of arduous negotiations. The three countries, often isolated as pariahs for their arms and human rights records, used their rejection of the treaty to lash out at what they see as their unfair treatment. The treaty would require states exporting conventional weapons to develop criteria that would link exports to avoiding human rights abuses, terrorism and organized crime. It would also ban shipments if they were deemed harmful to women and children. After Iran and North Korea voted against the draft treaty, Peter Woolcott, the Australian ambassador who was the president of the treaty conference, suspended the meeting. When it resumed, Syria voted against the treaty as well. In the absence of consensus, it was expected that the treaty would be sent to the General Assembly as early as next week for approval. That is considered a weaker, but no less binding, manner of getting it passed. After General Assembly passage, the treaty would still require ratification by 50 member states before it could take effect. “We are certainly disappointed, because we could not achieve the expected result tonight,” said Juan M. Gómez-Robledo, vice minister of multilateral affairs and the head of the Mexican delegation, “but it is only a matter of days, because this conference has shown that the overwhelming majority wish to adopt this text.” He rejected the three countries’ objections that not enough time or attention had been given to address their concerns, noting that the talks had been going on for seven years. Most countries who spoke after the treaty stalled said they fully supported it, although some major ones, including India and Russia, voiced strong reservations about some provisions. India said the draft treaty favored exporters. Russia said it should be more specific about banning conventional weapons sales to non-state actors. Thomas M. Countryman, the assistant secretary of state who led the American delegation, said that the United States would support the treaty in the General Assembly based on the fact, he said, that the pact would promote global security, advance humanitarian objectives and curb illegal arms sales, all without affecting the constitutional right to bear arms. Although opposition from Iran, North Korea and Syria had been expected, diplomats and outside proponents of the treaty had hoped the three countries would not block an accord that so many sought. All three belong to the roughly 120-member Nonaligned Movement — Iran is its current president — and the bulk of its members in Africa and Latin American strongly backed the treaty. But in the end, the three went with their domestic concerns. They are each subject to arms embargoes already, and were concerned that the treaty would add muscle to such blockades. (Neil MacFarquhar, “U.N. Treaty to Control Arms Sales Hits Snag,” New York Times, March 29, 2013, p. A-4)


3/29/13:
KCNA: “The moves of the U.S. imperialists to violate the sovereignty of the DPRK and encroach upon its supreme interests have entered a grave phase. Not content with letting B-52 make sorties over south Korea in succession despite the repeated warnings, they made B-2A stealth strategic bomber and other strategic strike means fly from Whiteman air force base in Missouri State, the U.S. over south Korea on March 28 for the first time in history to commit such dangerous provocation as openly staging a drill for striking ground targets of the DPRK. This fully proves that the brigandish ambition of the U.S. imperialists for aggression to stand in confrontation with the DPRK has reached an extreme phase defying the meaningful warning made by its revolutionary armed forces in the March 26 statement of the Supreme Command of the Korean People’s Army. In view of the prevailing grim situation, Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army Marshal Kim Jong Un, first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and first chairman of the National Defense Commission of the DPRK, convened an urgent operation meeting on the KPA Strategic Rocket Force’s performance of duty for firepower strike at the Supreme Command at 00:30 Friday. Present there were Hyon Yong Chol, chief of the KPA General Staff, Ri Yong Gil, director of the Operation Bureau, Kim Yong Chol, director of the General Reconnaissance Bureau, and Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Rocket Force. At the meeting he first received a report from General Kim Yong Chol, who is also vice chief of the General Staff of the KPA, on the information about the nature of action of the nuclear strike means of the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces. After receiving a report from Lieut. General Kim Rak Gyom on the technical conditions of the strategic strike means of the KPA, he made an important decision. He said he has judged the time has come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists in view of the prevailing situation. If they make a reckless provocation with huge strategic forces, the KPA should mercilessly strike the U.S. mainland, their stronghold, their military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in south Korea, he said. He examined and finally ratified the plan of the Strategic Rocket Force for firepower strike. The U.S. imperialists let B-2A make sorties over south Korea in succession, indicating once again that their hostile acts against the DPRK have entered a reckless phase, going beyond the phase of threat and blackmail, he said. B-2A’s flight to the sky above south Korea is not a simple demonstration of forces in reaction to the tough stand of the DPRK but an ultimatum that they will ignite a nuclear war at any cost on the Korean Peninsula, he noted, underlining the need to put a definite end to the times when they could threaten and blackmail the DPRK with nukes. He declared the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK would react to the U.S. nuclear blackmail with a merciless nuclear attack, and war of aggression with an all-out war of justice. He finally signed the plan on technical preparations of strategic rockets of the KPA, ordering them to be standby for fire so that they may strike any time the U.S. mainland, its military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in south Korea. He said the enemies are bringing dark clouds of a nuclear war testing the DPRK’s self-restraint, adding the DPRK can no longer tolerate this. He ordered the KPA to blow up and reduce everything to ashes at a single strike, if an order is issued. He said the heroic service personnel of the KPA and all other people, their hearts burning with irrepressible resentment at the reckless war provocation moves of the U.S. imperialists, are now waiting for a final order of the WPK Central Committee, hardening their will to turn out in a do-or-die battle with the enemies. The KPA will never remain a passive onlooker to the U.S. imperialists’ frantic moves for aggression but do its best to defend the destiny of the country and nation, he said. It is the truth confirmed by history that no force on earth can hold in check the people all out for the just cause, he noted, stressing if an undesired war breaks out on this land again due to the consequences of the unpardonable action of the U.S. imperialists, it will bring them a shameful ruin and the Korean nation will greet the bright day of national reunification. The important decision made by him under the grave situation where the Korean Peninsula has been pushed to the brink of a nuclear war by the U.S. imperialists will mark a turning point in putting an end to the history of the long-standing showdown with the U.S. and opening a new phase of history.” (KCNA, “Kim Jong-un Convenes Operation Meeting, Finally Examines and Ratifies Plan for Firepower Strike,” March 29, 2013)

Kim’s order, which North Korea said was given during an emergency meeting early today, was similar to the one issued March 26 when the North’s top military command told all its missile and artillery units to be on the “highest alert” and ready to strike the United States and South Korea in retaliation against their joint military exercises. But by attributing such an order to its top leader, North Korea tried to add weight to its threat. “We believe they are taking follow-up steps,” said Kim Min-seok, spokesman of the South Korean Defense Ministry, referring to increased activities of the North Korean military units. “South Korean and American intelligence authorities are closely watching whether North Korea is preparing its short, medium, and long-range missiles, including its Scud, Rodong and Musudan.” He did not elaborate. But government officials and South Korean media said that there had been a surge in vehicle and troop movements at North Korean missile units in recent days as the United States and South Korea has been conducting joint military drills. Yonhap quoted an anonymous military source as saying that North Korean vehicles had been moving to Tongchang-ri near the North’s western border with China, where its Unha-3 rocket blasted off in December. North Korea might be preparing for an engine test ahead of a long-range rocket test, the source was quoted as saying. Scud and Rodong are the North’s mainstay short- and medium-range missiles. The Musudan, deployed around 2007 and displayed for the first time during a military parade in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, in 2010, is a road-mobile intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of more than 1,900 miles, according to the South Korean Defense Ministry. A photo released by KCNA showed Kim conferring with his top generals on what the agency called “plans to strike the mainland U.S.” A military chart behind them showed what appeared to be trajectories of North Korean missiles hitting major cities in the United States. North Korea also said its leader, Kim, “finally signed the plan on technical preparations of strategic rockets of the KPA, ordering them to be standby for fire so that they may strike any time the U.S. mainland, its military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea.” Kim Min-seok, the South Korean spokesman, said the North’s “unusual” public announcement of such plans was partly “psychological.” Many experts and South Korean officials doubted that North Korea has such long-range missiles, much less the know-how to make a nuclear warhead small enough to mount on such rockets. But other analysts believed that the North’s new KN-08 missiles, which were put on public display last April, were indeed intercontinental ballistic missiles, although they and Musudan have never been test-launched before. They wondered whether North Korea might use the current tensions as an excuse to launch them. Hours after Kim’s call to arms, thousands of North Koreans turned out for a 90-minute mass rally at the main square in Pyongyang, chanting “Death to the U.S. imperialists” and “Sweep away the U.S. aggressors,” according to Associated Press, which has a bureau in Pyongyang. Soldiers and students marched through downtown Pyongyang. Yesterday, the American military carried out a rare long-range practice bombing run over the Korean Peninsula, sending two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers on a practice sortie over South Korea, underscoring Washington’s commitment to defend its ally amid rising tensions with North Korea. “The reaction to the B-2 that we’re most concerned about is not necessarily the reaction it might elicit in North Korea, but rather among our Japanese and Korean allies,” Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a news conference at the Pentagon. “Those exercises are mostly to assure our allies that they can count on us to be prepared and to help them deter conflict.” (Choe Sang-hun, “North Korea Orders Missile Readiness, State Media Says,” New York Times, March 29, 2013)

The latest round of threats exchanged by North Korea and the United States is dragging on longer and taking on a more virulent tone than in the past, provoking deep concerns among American officials and their allies. Following blustery warnings by Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s 30-year-old leader, and videos depicting North Korean attacks on the United States, the Obama administration took the unprecedented step this week of sending two stealth bombers to South Korea as part of an ongoing military training exercise. But despite the escalating tensions, U.S. officials said they have focused more closely on what North Korea is doing than on what it is saying. “Putting on a show is not the same as taking action,” said a senior administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the volatile situation. “Describing the situation as akin to war is not to be remotely confused with wanting a war, let alone going to war.” The senior official and others said that U.S. military commanders are closely watching the situation, which has escalated since North Korea conducted a nuclear weapons test in December. In addition, officials cited new levels of cooperation and mutual confidence between the United States and allies in South Korea and Japan. While a direct attack on U.S. forces on the mainland or in the Pacific seems unlikely, nongovernment analysts said the rising tensions increase the risk of some form of limited armed conflict. North Korea recently cut off its military phone line with the South, which is used to coordinate logistics along the demilitarized border buffer. In a new escalation of rhetoric early Saturday, North Korea’s official KCNA news agency reported that the country was entering a “state of war” with South Korea and that “all issues raised between the North and the South will be handled accordingly.” Some experts noted that South Korea also has adopted a more aggressive rhetorical posture. Senior officials quoted anonymously in the media have suggested that plans have been drawn up for “surgical strikes” against North Korea. “The level and scope of the rhetoric [in North Korea] is stronger than in the past,” said Scott A. Snyder, a Korea expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. “This time we’ve seen a higher level of threat, delivered at a higher level.” He added, “There’s room for miscalculation right now.” Christopher R. Hill, a former U.S. diplomat who served as ambassador in Seoul in 2004 and later led a negotiating team that sought to eliminate the North Korean nuclear threat, said the current standoff appears “more serious” than past ones. It also comes as the North appears to be attempting to bolster Kim’s military credentials. (Ernesto Londoño and Karen DeYoung, “Aggressive Talk from North Korea Concerns U.S. Leaders,” Washington Post, March 30, 2013, p. A-1)


3/30/13:
The government, political parties and organizations of the DPRK special statement:

“The moves of the U.S. imperialists to violate the sovereignty of the DPRK and encroach upon its supreme interests have entered an extremely grave phase. Under this situation, the dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un, brilliant commander of Mt. Paektu, convened an urgent operation meeting on the performance of duty of the Strategic Rocket Force of the Korean People’s Army for firepower strike and finally examined and ratified a plan for firepower strike.

The important decision made by him is the declaration of a do-or-die battle to provide an epochal occasion for putting an end to the history of the long-standing showdown with the U.S. and opening a new era. It is also a last warning of justice served to the U.S., south Korean puppet group and other anti-reunification hostile forces. The decision reflects the strong will of the army and people of the DPRK to annihilate the enemies.

Now the heroic service personnel and all other people of the DPRK are full of surging anger at the U.S. imperialists’ reckless war provocation moves, and the strong will to turn out as one in the death-defying battle with the enemies and achieve a final victory of the great war for national reunification, true to the important decision made by Kim Jong Un.

The Supreme Command of the KPA in its recent statement solemnly declared at home and abroad the will of the army and people of the DPRK to take decisive military counteraction to defend the sovereignty of the country and the dignity of its supreme leadership, as regards the war moves of the U.S. and south Korean puppets that have reached the most extreme phase.

Not content with letting B-52 make sorties into the sky over south Korea in succession despite the repeated warnings of the DPRK, the U.S. made B-2A stealth strategic bomber and other ultra-modern strategic strike means fly from the U.S. mainland to south Korea to stage a bombing drill targeting the DPRK. This is an unpardonable and heinous provocation and an open challenge.

By taking advantage of the U.S. reckless campaign for a nuclear war against the DPRK, the south Korean puppets vociferated about “preemptive attack” and “strong counteraction” and even “strike at the commanding forces”, openly revealing the attempt to destroy monuments symbolic of the dignity of the DPRK’s supreme leadership.

This clearly shows that the U.S. brigandish ambition for aggression and the puppets’ attempt to invade the DPRK have gone beyond the limit and their threats have entered the reckless phase of an actual war from the phase of threat and blackmail.

The prevailing grim situation more clearly proves that the Supreme Command of the KPA was just when it made the judgment and decision to decisively settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists and south Korean puppets by dint of the arms of Songun, because time when words could work has passed.

Now they are openly claiming that the B-2A stealth strategic bombers’ drill of dropping nuclear bombs was “not to irritate the north” but for “defense”. The U.S. also says the drill is “to defend the interests of its ally.” However, it is nothing but a lame pretext to cover up its aggressive nature, evade the denunciation at home and abroad and escape from the DPRK’s retaliatory blows. The era when the U.S. resorted to the policy of strength by brandishing nuclear weapons has gone.

It is the resolute answer of the DPRK and its steadfast stand to counter the nuclear blackmail of the U.S. imperialists with merciless nuclear attack and their war of aggression with just all-out war. They should clearly know that in the era of Marshal Kim Jong Un, the greatest-ever commander, all things are different from what they used to be in the past.

The hostile forces will clearly realize the iron will, matchless grit and extraordinary mettle of the brilliant commander of Mt. Paektu to the effect that the earth cannot exist without Songun Korea. Time has come to stage a do-or-die final battle.

The government, political parties and organizations of the DPRK solemnly declare as follows reflecting the final decision made by Kim Jong Un at the operation meeting of the KPA Supreme Command and the unanimous will of all service personnel and people of the DPRK who are waiting for a final order from him.

  1. From this moment, the north-south relations will be put at the state of war and all the issues arousing between the north and the south will be dealt with according to the wartime regulations.

    The state of neither peace nor war has ended on the Korean Peninsula.

    Now that the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK have entered into an actual military action, the inter-Korean relations have naturally entered the state of war. Accordingly, the DPRK will immediately punish any slightest provocation hurting its dignity and sovereignty with resolute and merciless physical actions without any prior notice.

  2. If the U.S. and the south Korean puppet group perpetrate a military provocation for igniting a war against the DPRK in any area including the five islands in the West Sea of Korea or in the area along the Military Demarcation Line, it will not be limited to a local war, but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war. It is evident that any military conflict on the Korean Peninsula is bound to lead to an all-out war, a nuclear war now that even U.S. nuclear strategic bombers in its military bases in the Pacific including Hawaii and Guam and in its mainland are flying into the sky above south Korea to participate in the madcap DPRK-targeted nuclear war moves. The first strike of the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK will blow up the U.S. mainland and its bases for aggression in the Pacific operational theatres including Hawaii and Guam and reduce not only its military bases in south Korea but the puppets’ ruling institutions including Chongwadae and military bases to ashes at once, to say nothing of the aggressors and the provokers.
  3. The DPRK will never miss the golden chance to win a final victory in a great war for national reunification. This war will not be a three-day-war but it will be a blitz war through which the KPA will occupy all areas of south Korea including Jeju Island at one strike, not giving the U.S. and the south Korean warmongers time to come to their senses, and a three-dimensional war to be fought in the air, land and seas and on the front line and in the rear. This sacred war of justice will be a nation-wide, all-people resistance involving all Koreans in the north and the south and overseas in which the traitors to the nation including heinous confrontation maniacs, warmongers and human scum will be mercilessly swept away.

    No force on earth can break the will of the service personnel and people of the DPRK all out in the just great war for national reunification and of all other Koreans and overpower their might.

    Holding in high esteem the peerlessly great men of Mt. Paektu, the Korean people will give vent to the pent-up grudge and realize their cherished desire and thus bring a bright day of national reunification and build the best power on this land without fail.”

(KCNA, “North-South Relations Have Have Been Put at State of War: Special Statement of DPRK,” March 30, 2013)

General Bureau for Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone statement:

“The north-south military hotline was cut off as the Korean Armistice Agreement has been completely nullified, creating a warlike situation. There exists neither a channel for dialogue nor any communications means between the north and the south. The entry into the Kaesong Industrial Zone by the south side’s personnel has been put in jeopardy. No one can see an inch ahead as regards the destiny of the Kaesong Industrial Zone. But the puppet group of south Korea, its dutiful media and hack writers are saying that “the north does not take up the issue of the zone because it is a source for its foreign currency income” and talking about “two faces of the north”. They are even insulting the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK. It is an extremely unusual thing that the Kaesong Industrial Zone is still in existence under the grave situation in which the north-south relations have plunged into a deadlock and the Korean Peninsula is on the verge of a war due to the U.S. and the south Korean warmongers’ vicious moves for igniting a nuclear war against the DPRK. Under the situation, the south Korean puppet forces are left with no face to make complaint even though we ban the south side’s personnel’s entry into the zone and close it. But we have exercised self-restraint, taking into consideration that the closure of the zone on which the livelihood of small and medium businesses of south Korea hinge can leave those businesses bankrupt and lots of people jobless. In fact, it is the puppet group and small and medium businesses of south Korea, not the DPRK, which benefit from the zone. But the paid media and media men of south Korea have gone thoughtless to become vocal about the zone just like imbeciles bereft of elementary ability for assessing the situation. If the puppet group seeks to tarnish the image of the DPRK even a bit, while speaking of the zone whose operation has been barely maintained, we will shut down the zone without mercy. The south Korean group should clearly know that its short tongue may bring it an irretrievable misfortune. The DPRK does whatever it says it will and the future of the zone entirely depends on the attitude of the south Korean puppet group. The south side’s businessmen operational in the zone should clearly face up to the situation and reject the rhetoric of the group and its paid media who act just like a “thief crying stop the thief.” We will closely follow the movement of the puppet group and the reactionary media. We warn that we will take a resolute measure, should rhetoric insulting the dignity of the DPRK continues.” (KCNA, “DPRK Warns of Future of Kaesong Industrial Zone Depends on S. Korean Attitude,” March 30, 2013)


3/31/13:
KCNA: “The historic March, 2013 plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea took place at the building of the WPK Central Committee, supreme staff of the Korean revolution, on Sunday. First Secretary of the WPK Kim Jong Un guided the meeting. Present at the meeting were members and alternate members of the WPK Central Committee and members of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK. Present there as observers were senior officials of ministries, national institutions, provincial, city and county committees of the WPK, complexes, major munitions factories and enterprises. The participants paid silent tribute to President Kim Il Sung and leader Kim Jong Il. Taken up for discussion at the meeting were the following agenda items “1. On tasks of our Party on bringing about a decisive turn in accomplishing revolutionary cause of Juche as required by the present situation and the developing revolution”, “2. On personnel affairs issue to be submitted to the 7th Session of the 12th Supreme People’s Assembly” and “3. On organizational matter.”

Kim Jong Un made a report and concluding speech on the first agenda item. The plenary meeting set forth a new strategic line on carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously under the prevailing situation and to meet the legitimate requirement of the developing revolution. This line is a brilliant succession and development onto a new higher stage of the original line of simultaneously developing economy and national defense that was set forth and had been fully embodied by the great Generalissimos. It was stressed at the meeting that the party’s new line is not a temporary countermeasure for coping with the rapidly changing situation but a strategic line to be always held fast to, in the supreme interests of the Korean revolution. The nuclear weapons of Songun Korea are not goods for getting U.S. dollars and they are neither a political bargaining chip nor a thing for economic dealings to be presented to the place of dialogue or be put on the table of negotiations aimed at forcing the DPRK to disarm itself. The DPRK’s nuclear armed forces represent the nation’s life which can never be abandoned as long as the imperialists and nuclear threats exist on earth. They are a treasure of a reunified country which can never be traded with billions of dollars. Only when the nuclear shield for self-defense is held fast, will it be possible to shatter the U.S. imperialists’ ambition for annexing the Korean Peninsula by force and making the Korean people modern slaves, firmly defend our ideology, social system and all other socialist treasures won at the cost of blood and safeguard the nation’s right to existence and its time-honored history and brilliant culture. When the party’s new line is thoroughly carried out, the DPRK will emerge as a great political, military and socialist economic power and a highly-civilized country which steers the era of independence.

The meeting set forth tasks for carrying out the new line and ways for doing so. All the officials, party members and other people should wage bold offensive and all-people decisive battle with faith in sure victory and strong determination and thus make the flame of miracle and innovation sweep all fields of national economy. The pilot fields of the national economy, the basic industrial fields should be drastically developed and production be increased to the maximum. Forces should be directed to agriculture and light industry, key fields in building an economic power to improve and put on a stable basis the people’s living standard at the earliest possible date. The self-reliant nuclear power industry should be developed and the work for developing light water reactor be dynamically promoted to actively contribute to easing the strain on the electricity problem of the country. Spurs should be given to the development of space science and technology and more advanced satellites including communications satellites be developed and launched. The country’s economy should be shifted into knowledge-based economy and the foreign trade be made multilateral and diversified and investment be widely introduced. The economic guidance shall be fundamentally improved as required by the new situation and Korean-style advantageous economic management methods be completed by embodying the Juche idea. The DPRK’s possession of nukes should be fixed by law and the nuclear armed forces should be expanded and beefed up qualitatively and quantitatively until the denuclearization of the world is realized. The People’s Army should perfect the war method and operation in the direction of raising the pivotal role of the nuclear armed forces in all aspects concerning the war deterrence and the war strategy, and the nuclear armed forces should always round off the combat posture. As a responsible nuclear weapons state, the DPRK will make positive efforts to prevent the nuclear proliferation, ensure peace and security in Asia and the rest of the world and realize the denuclearization of the world. Institutions in charge of security and safeguard, judicial and prosecution and people’s security and the Korean People’s Internal Security Forces should resolutely foil the vicious moves of the imperialist reactionaries and class enemies, devotedly defend the party, social system and people and surely guarantee the new line of the party with arms and by law. The party and working people’s organizations and power bodies should increase their militant function and role in every way in the struggle for implementing the party’s line. The meeting entrusted the Presidium of the SPA and the Cabinet with the matters of taking legal, administrative and technical measures for implementing the tasks. At the meeting a decision on the first agenda item “On carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously and thus bringing earlier the final victory in the cause of building a thriving socialist nation” was adopted with unanimous approval. The second agenda item, personal affairs issue to be submitted to the 7th Session of the 12th SPA, was discussed and decided at the meeting. The meeting also dealt with an organizational matter, its third agenda item. Members of the Presidium of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee, members and alternate members of the Political Bureau were recalled and new ones were elected to fill vacancies. Pak Pong Ju was elected to fill a vacancy of a member of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee. Hyon Yong Chol, Kim Kyok Sik and Choe Pu Il were elected to fill vacancies of alternate members of the Political Bureau of the WPK Central Committee. Members and alternate members of the WPK Central Committee were recalled and new ones were elected to fill vacancies. Upon authorization of Kim Jong Un, Paek Kye Ryong was appointed as director of the Light Industrial Department of the WPK Central Committee and Yun U Chol as editor-in-chief of Rodong Sinmun, organ of the WPK Central Committee. Members of the Central Auditing Commission of the WPK were also recalled and new ones were elected to fill vacancies.” (KCNA, “Report on Plenary Meeting of WPK Central Committee,” March 31, 2013)

Pak Pong Ju, a former Prime Minister and rumored proponent of Chinese-style economic reforms, has been re-appointed to the position by North Korea’s parliament after being forced to step down in 2007. Pak was first appointed as premier in 2003, taking over from Hong Song Nam, after North Korea passed modest economic reforms. It was believed at the time that he favored Chinese-style reforms, but what he ultimately passed was eventually rolled-back by 2005. His appointment is likely to renew talk that North Korea will try and reform its economy. “He is a very friendly and competent person. I met him in Pyongyang and, from my conversations with him, I’m convinced he will be good for the North Korean economy,” Felix Abt, author of A Capitalist in North Korea told NK News. Pak was removed from the position in 2007 for alleged misappropriation of funds, but returned to the public eye in August 2010 whereby he accompanied Kim Jong Il on a trip to China. He is said to be close to Jang Sung Taek and Kim Kyong Hui — Kim Jong Un’s aunt and uncle. Pak will leave his current position as director of the Korean Worker’s Party Light Industry Department — he replaces regime stalwart Choe Yong Rim as premier. There were a few other notable leadership moves at both the Central Committee plenum and Supreme People’s Assembly meeting. Choe Pu Il replaced Ri Myong Su as Minister of People’s Security and was named an alternate member of the Politburo. Paek Kye Ryong, formerly chief secretary of Kangwon province, replaced Pak as head of the Light Industry department. And both Hyon Yong Chol, the Chief of the KPA General Staff and Kim Kyok Sik, Minister of the People’s Armed Forces, were also named alternate members of the Politburo. Interestingly, both Hyon and Kim appeared to receive demotions. Based on name order at official party events, they both appeared to be full members of the Politburo. Ri Myong Su, who was replaced as Minister of People’s Security, was also a full member of the Politburo, meaning Choe, his replacement, will have a lower spot as well. This may be a further indication of the party reasserting its power at the expense of the military and security apparatuses. The Central Committee plenum was also notable for the return of Jang Song Thaek, who had not been seen in public since March 8th, and rumors emerged that Jang had been purged. His disappearance may have simply been related to the rise in recent tensions. (NK Daily, “North Korea Names New Prime Minister,” April 1, 2013)

Kim Jong-un announced a “new strategic line” that defied warnings from Washington, saying that his country was determined to rebuild its economy in the face of international sanctions while simultaneously expanding its nuclear weapons arsenal, which the ruling party called “the nation’s life.” The North’s nuclear weapons “are neither a political bargaining chip nor a thing for economic dealings,” KCNA reported, citing remarks from the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party, which adopted new guidelines for the country. The North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, presided over the meeting, which South Korean news media said was convened for the first time since 1993. The rare event came a day before the planned gathering of the North’s rubber-stamp Parliament, the Supreme People’s Assembly, which was expected to follow up on the new guidelines adopted by the party. American and South Korean officials still hope they can persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons through sanctions and diplomacy, especially if China agrees to use its economic leverage with the North. Many regional analysts and officials have suggested that the North’s recent strident language, including threats to attack the United States and South Korea with nuclear weapons, is intended not only to solidify Kim’s military credentials at home but also to draw the United States back to the negotiating table. But a growing number of analysts also say that North Korea seems to have no intention of giving up its nuclear arms. “The enemies are using both blackmail, telling us that we cannot achieve economic development unless we give up nuclear weapons, and appeasement, saying that they will help us live well if we choose a different path,” Kim was quoted as saying during the meeting. But he said his country must expand its nuclear arsenal both “in quality and quantity, as long as the United States’s nuclear threat continues.” On March 17, the North’s Foreign Ministry said the country’s nuclear weapons were not a bargaining chip. Officials at the plenary meeting made that stance formal, adopting a statement calling the North’s nuclear weapons a “treasure” that will not be traded for “billions of dollars,” because they “represent the nation’s life, which can never be abandoned as long as imperialists and nuclear threats exist on earth.” Both President Obama and his national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, have recently urged Kim to learn from Myanmar, where changes initiated by new leaders have resulted in billions in debt forgiveness, large-scale development assistance and an influx of foreign investment. It North Korea continues on its current path, they said, it will face more sanctions and deeper isolation. President Park Geun-hye of South Korea has also warned that the only way for Kim’s government to ensure its survival is to give up its nuclear weapons. She has often said that nuclear weapons did not save the Soviet Union from collapsing. North Korea said economic development and an expansion of the nuclear program could take place “simultaneously” because a growing nuclear deterrent could allow the North to limit military spending and put more resources into the agricultural sector and light industries to improve people’s lives. In what appeared to be related move, officials at the party meeting appointed Pak Pong-ju, a minister in charge of light industries who has supported economic policy changes in the past, to the Politburo. (Choe Sang-hun, “North Korea Vows to Keep Nuclear Arms and Fix Economy,” New York Times, April 1, 2013, p. A-6)

As tension percolates on the Korean Peninsula following Pyongyang’s chain of escalated threats, the United States deployed its most advanced fighter jets, the F-22 Raptors, to join military drills in Korea Sunday as a new demonstration of military might. A fleet of the radar-evading stealth fighters were deployed to Osan Air Base from the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa today to join the ongoing, two-month Foal Eagle joint U.S.-Korea exercises, which run until the end of the month, the U.S. military command revealed yesterday. It did not specify the number of planes sent to Korea. (Sarah Kim and Chang Se-jeong, “F-22 Stealth Fighters Sent as Signal to North,” JoongAng Ilbo, April 2, 2013)

The White House said it was treating seriously North Korea’s warning over the weekend that it has entered a “state of war” with South Korea, although U.S. officials noted the regime’s history of blustery rhetoric. “We take these threats seriously and remain in close contact with our South Korean allies. But we would also note that North Korea has a long history of bellicose rhetoric and threats and today’s announcement follows that familiar pattern,” a White House spokesperson said. Peter King, (R-NY) who sits on the House intelligence and homeland security committees, said he did not regard the North Korean statement as an “empty threat.”“Kim Jong-eun is trying to establish himself. He’s trying to be the tough guy. He is 28, 29 years old, and he keeps going further and further out, and I don’t know if he can get himself back in,” Mr King said. “So my concern would be that he may feel to save face he has to launch some sort of attack on South Korea, or some base in the Pacific.” In a statement, the U.S. military said that the radar-avoiding F22 Raptors were deployed to the main US air force base in South Korea from Japan to join the military exercises, which run until the end of April.“[North Korea] will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which will only further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in Northeast Asia,” the U.S. military added. Despite the aggressive North Korean rhetoric yesterday, Pyongyang’s threat was couched in conditional language. The statement carried by KCNA said: “If the US and the South Korean puppet group perpetrate a military provocation for igniting a war, [it will] develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war.” The consensus among analysts is that North Korea would be unlikely to initiate a war, given the technological inferiority of its military resources to those of the U.S. For decades, anti-U.S. propaganda has been a staple theme of North Korean efforts to boost patriotic feeling. “I think it’s in the context of deterrence, with a lot of it directed at the domestic audience,” said Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea expert at the International Crisis Group. “With the ongoing exercises, the leadership needs to look strong in the face of external threats — real or perceived — or else run the risk of looking weak internally.” “I’m getting a bit more concerned about something going on in the West Sea,” said Bruce Klingner, an analyst at the Heritage Foundation. (Simon Mundy, Song Jung-a, and James Politi, “U.S. Stays Calm over N. Korea ‘State of War,’” Financial Times, April 1, 2013, p. 4)


4/1/13:
KCNA: “A law on consolidating the position of nuclear weapons state for self-defense was adopted in the DPRK. An ordinance of the Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK in this regard was promulgated on Monday. The ordinance said as follows: The DPRK is a full-fledged nuclear weapons state capable of beating back any aggressor troops at one strike, firmly defending the socialist system and providing a sure guarantee for the happy life of the people. Having an independent and just nuclear force, the DPRK put an end to the distress-torn history in which it was subject to outside forces’ aggression and interference and could emerge a socialist power of Juche which no one dares provoke. The Supreme People’s Assembly of the DPRK decides to consolidate the position of the nuclear weapons state as follows: 1. The nuclear weapons of the DPRK are just means for defense as it was compelled to have access to them to cope with the ever-escalating hostile policy of the U.S. and nuclear threat. 2. They serve the purpose of deterring and repelling the aggression and attack of the enemy against the DPRK and dealing deadly retaliatory blows at the strongholds of aggression until the world is denuclearized. 3. The DPRK shall take practical steps to bolster up the nuclear deterrence and nuclear retaliatory strike power both in quality and quantity to cope with the gravity of the escalating danger of the hostile forces’ aggression and attack. 4. The nuclear weapons of the DPRK can be used only by a final order of the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army to repel invasion or attack from a hostile nuclear weapons state and make retaliatory strikes. 5. The DPRK shall neither use nukes against the non-nuclear states nor threaten them with those weapons unless they join a hostile nuclear weapons state in its invasion and attack on the DPRK. 6. The DPRK shall strictly observe the rules on safekeeping and management of nukes and ensuring the stability of nuclear tests. 7. The DPRK shall establish a mechanism and order for their safekeeping and management so that nukes and their technology, weapon-grade nuclear substance may not leak out illegally. 8. The DPRK shall cooperate in the international efforts for nuclear non-proliferation and safe management of nuclear substance on the principle of mutual respect and equality, depending on the improvement of relations with hostile nuclear weapons states. 9. The DPRK shall strive hard to defuse the danger of a nuclear war and finally build a world without nukes and fully support the international efforts for nuclear disarmament against nuclear arms race. 10. The related institutions shall take thorough practical steps for implementing this ordinance.” (KCNA, “Law on Consolidating Position of Nuclear Weapons State Adopted,” April 1, 2013)

President Park Geun-hye instructed South Korea’s military to set aside any political considerations and respond powerfully in the event of North Korean provocations, as Pyongyang has churned out near-daily threats of war on the divided peninsula. Park made the unusually tough remark during a policy briefing at the defense ministry, saying she takes “very seriously” a recent string of North Korean moves and threats, such as the scrapping of a nonaggression treaty, the cutoff of a military hotline and the weekend declaration that inter-Korean ties have entered a “state of war.” “The reason for the military’s existence is to protect the country and the people from threats. If any provocations happen against our people and our country, it should respond powerfully in the early stage without having any political considerations,” Park said. “As commander-in-chief of the armed forces, I will trust the military’s judgment on abrupt and surprise provocations by North Korea as it is the one that directly faces off against the North,” she said. “Please carry out your duty of guarding the safety of the people without getting distracted even a bit.” During the briefing, Park had a video call with the commander of the Navy’s Second Fleet responsible for defense of the western sea border with North Korea and called for strong preparedness, according to presidential spokesman Yoon Chang-jung. “The West Sea is where North Korean provocations have concentrated, and I remember that more provocations happened in the crab-catching season,” Park said during the call. “On the shoulders of the Second Fleet is the heavy responsibility of not only guaranteeing the safety of fishermen and their livelihoods, but also (safeguarding) security and peace” of the country. Park had a similar video call with an Army division commander. She also called for rooting out draft dodging, saying it gives the people a sense of unfairness, which she said could ultimately lead to shaking the country’s security, according to the spokesman. (Yonhap, “Park Calls for Powerful Response to N. Korean Provocations,” April 1, 2013) “I view the threats by North Korea at present very seriously,” Park told the members of the Defense Ministry, which delivered its policy briefing. “If any provocation occurs against our citizens and the Republic of Korea, a strong response should be taken without any other political consideration at an early stage,” Park said. (Lee Joo-hee and Song Sang-ho, “Park Vows Swift Reprisal to Provocation,” Korea Herald, April 1, 2013) Park said. “In the case of a surprise provocation by North Korea, I, as commander in chief, will trust the judgment of the military which encounters the North directly.” The remarks hint at Park’s permission for the military to fire first and report later in the case of an attack by the North. The ministry reported to Park that it will create specific deterrence measures for different scenarios of a nuclear crisis. “The reconnaissance capabilities of the military will be strengthened,” Defense Minister Kim was quoted as saying in the ministry’s press statement. “We will establish a proactive deterrence strategy and strike system to incapacitate the North’s nuclear and missile threats at an early stage.” A proactive deterrence strategy is more aggressive than the “active deterrence strategy” currently in place. Under the new scheme, the South Korean military would react proactively to a contingency without consulting U.S. forces by exercising its right to self-defense. With the new strategy, the South intends to launch preemptive strikes within 30 minutes of detecting signs of an imminent attack by the North using weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons. The backbone of the strategy will be the establishment of a so-called “Kill Chain” and the completion of the Korean Air and Missile Defense regime. A kill chain refers to the deployment of various intelligence assets, missiles, fighter jets and vessels to detect, identify and intercept the North’s missiles. The military plans to deploy ballistic missiles with a range longer than 500 kilometers (310.68 miles) and improved reconnaissance capabilities to form the kill chain. (Ser Myo-ja, “Park Tells Military to Strike Back If Attacked,” JoongAng Ilbo, April 2, 2013)

South Korea’s defense ministry unveiled a new contingency plan of “active deterrence” that allows its military to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea if the North shows signs of an imminent nuclear or missile attack on the South. In an annual policy briefing to President Park Geun-hye, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said the military is mapping out “an active deterrence and will build an attack system to swiftly neutralize North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats, while significantly improving our military’s capability of surveillance and reconnaissance.” To achieve the goal, the ministry will speed up the deployment of a “kill chain” system capable of detecting, targeting and destroying North Korean nuclear and missile targets, ministry officials said. South Korea had originally planned to deploy the “kill chain” system by 2015, but ministry officials said it will be deployed ahead of the planned schedule. The new contingency plan will be formalized in October this year, when defense chiefs of South Korea and the U.S. hold annual security talks, ministry officials said. The ministry will also speed up building and deploying South Korea’s own missile defense system, named “Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD),” at an earlier date than scheduled. The Korean missile defense system, tailored for Korean terrain, is designed to intercept hostile missiles or combat aircrafts at an altitude of 10-30 kilometers.To enhance its reconnaissance capability, South Korea will make efforts for a speedy deployment of U.S.-made Global Hawk spy drones and put at least two military spy satellites into orbit by 2021, according to the ministry. Last December, the U.S. government informed Congress of a plan to sell four Global Hawk surveillance drones to South Korea. The deal under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program would be worth up to US$1.2 billion. (Yonhap, “S. Korea Sets out ‘Active Deterrence’ against N. Korea’s Nuke Threats,” April 1, 2013)

South Korea’s U.S.-oriented foreign policy appears to be evolving to place China as its second nucleus. According to experts, Seoul sees the trend as inevitable since China is its biggest trading partner with the additional clout of possibly being able to exert pressure on North Korea. President Park Geun-hye chose former ruling Saenuri Party lawmaker Kwon Young-se as the new ambassador to China, while tapping former vice Foreign Minister Ahn Ho-young, a career diplomat and trade expert, as the new top diplomat to the U.S. Watchers interpreted the move as a demonstration of a focus on China since Kwon is not only a close confidant of Park but is a rising political heavyweight who has substantial influence on the domestic political scene. Kwon, a former prosecutor and three-term lawmaker, helped Park win the presidential election last year as a senior campaign strategist. The decision is in line with President Park’s series of friendly gestures made to China lately. Last month, she had a 20-minute phone conversation with President Xi Jinping to further deepen the two nation’s “strategic cooperative partnership.” Park also invited Xi to visit South Korea whenever was convenient for him. In response, Xi asked Park to visit China in the near future and said Beijing will work and communicate more closely with Seoul to ensure peace on the Korean Peninsula. Park also selected China as the first destination to dispatch a team of special envoys right after elected as the nation’s chief. During last week’s luncheon with reporters, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se disclosed an episode regarding the envoys’ visit to Beijing. President Xi, according to Yun, after reading the diplomatic letter sent by Park described the contents of the letter as “really moving.” This kind of reaction made by the Chinese President, Yun said, was unprecedented in their 21-year-long bilateral relationship. “It is the right stance taken by the new government to get closer to China,” said Prof. Won Dong-wook of Dong-A University in Busan. “In the ongoing rivalry between U.S. and China, South Korea should carry out aggressive diplomatic policies of engaging with both powers. Washington and Beijing have a common regional interest on the Korean Peninsula, especially, regarding the North Korea nuclear issue. Both nations don’t want to see Pyongyang going nuclear. Seoul should capitalize on the situation by inducing the two into a peaceful framework and order set by Seoul.” (Chung Min-uck, “China Emerges as Second Pivot in Foreign Policy,” Korea Times, April 1, 2013)

White House briefing: “Q. Are you concerned about the escalating tensions with North Korea? And does the White House believe that the U.S. actions on this are contributing to those tensions in any way? CARNEY: Well, not at all. The United States is committed to maintaining peace and security in the region, as you know. North Korea should stop its provocative threats and instead concentrate on abiding by its international obligations. And pursuit of nuclear and missile programs — its pursuit, rather, of those programs, does not make it more secure but only increases its isolation and seriously undermines its ability to pursue economic development. I would note that despite the harsh rhetoric we’re hearing from Pyongyang, we are not seeing changes to the North Korean military posture, such as large-scale mobilizations and positioning of forces. Now, we take this seriously. I’ve said in the past. And we are vigilant and we are monitoring the Korean situation very diligently. And as you know, we’re in close, regular contact with our team in Korea; that would be both General Thurman and Ambassador Kim, both of whom are exceptionally well-qualified for the positions they hold. And they are coordinating closely with our South Korean counterparts. The actions we’ve taken are prudent, and they include, on missile defense, to enhance both the homeland and allied security, and others actions like the B-2 and B-52 flights, have been important steps to reassure our allies, demonstrate our resolve to the North, and reduce pressure on Seoul to take unilateral action. And we believe this has reduced the chance of miscalculation and provocation. I would also note — and I’ve said this consistently, as have other officials — that this pattern of bellicose rhetoric is not new, it is familiar. And we take it very seriously. We take prudent measures in response to it. But it is consistent with past behavior. Q. So just to follow on that — the fact that this has been going on for quite some time, this kind of rhetoric from North Korea, and that no assets have been moved around that you can tell, is there then the sense that this is more of Kim Jong-un trying to establish his reputation than it is anything else behind the threat? CARNEY: Well, I would reiterate that we haven’t seen action to back up the rhetoric in the sense that we haven’t seen significant changes, as I said, in the North in terms of mobilizations or repositioning of forces, and that is important to note. And what that disconnect between the rhetoric and action means, I’ll leave to the analysts to judge. We simply evaluate it and take necessary precautionary measures, and make clear to North Korea, together with our allies that this provocation behavior, provocative rhetoric only isolates them further; brings them no closer to rejoining the international community of nations — in fact, moves them farther away from that potential and possibility. So we take steps necessary to make sure that we can protect ourselves and our allies, and we judge both — we assess the rhetoric and we look very closely at what is happening on the ground.” (The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, April 1, 2013)

South Korea and the United States are poised to resume sensitive negotiations soon aimed at revising a bilateral civilian nuclear accord, a diplomatic source said, as Seoul seeks to enrich uranium and reprocess spent nuclear fuel. The allies are likely to reopen the talks as early as this week in Washington, when Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se visits there for a bilateral meeting tomorrow with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, the source said. “Korea and the U.S. will soon resume the formal negotiations,” the source said. If resumed, it will mark the sixth round of talks. Revising the civilian nuclear agreement, which expires next year, is a key pending bilateral agenda for President Park and the second-term administration of U.S. President Barack Obama. Little progress has been made in bilateral talks since 2010 to revise the 1974 accord that bans South Korea from enriching uranium and reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. For a revised accord to be approved by the U.S. Congress, both sides must conclude negotiations by June of this year, ministry officials said. Last week, Park asked for U.S. congressional support for South Korea to expand its “peaceful use” of atomic energy. Park made the remark when she met with U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, saying she hopes the expiring nuclear accord between the two countries will be revised in an advanced way, according to spokeswoman Kim Haing. South Korea, a major nuclear energy developer, wants the U.S. to allow it to adopt proliferation-resistant technology for enriching uranium and reprocessing spent atomic fuel from its 22 nuclear power plants, but Washington has been reluctant to do so. (Korea Times, “S. Korea, U.S. to resume Talks Soon on Revision of Nuclear Accord,” April 1, 2013)

The United States has positioned USS Fitzgerald near North Korea, a destroyer capable of shooting down missiles in the latest military move amid a showdown with the communist state, an official said. The vessel, which had sailed to South Korea as part of recent exercises, has been sent off the southwestern coast of the Korean peninsula instead of returning to its home port in Japan, a US defense official said. The official, speaking to AFP, said that the shifting of the USS Fitzgerald was “a prudent move” meant to offer “greater missile defense options should that become necessary.” (AFP, “U.S. Sends Destroyer off Korea Coast: Official,” April 1, 2013)

A well-known editor of an influential Communist Party journal said that he had been suspended after writing an article for a British newspaper saying that China should abandon its ally North Korea. The editor, Deng Yuwen, told the South Korean paper Chosun Ilbo that the Foreign Ministry had called the Communist Party’s Central Party School in Beijing to complain about his February 27 article in the Financial Times. It argued that China’s strategic alliance with North Korea was “outdated” and that the wayward ally was no longer useful as a buffer against United States influence. Deng also wrote in the article, that the government in Pyongyang could use nuclear weapons against China. Because of Deng’s stature — he is deputy editor of Study Times, a weekly journal of the Central Party School, which trains rising officials — the article garnered attention in Washington and Europe. Some took it as a sign that perhaps the new Chinese government led by President Xi Jinping was fed up with North Korea after its third nuclear test in February and that it would modify its support. Chosun Ilbo quoted Deng as saying in a telephone interview: “I was relieved of the position because of that article, and I’m suspended indefinitely. Although I’m still being paid by the company, I don’t know when I will be given another position.” Deng declined to comment. Three senior United States officials have come to Beijing in the past two weeks to request enforcement of the United Nations sanctions and to ask that China stop doing business with the North Korean Trade Bank. The American officials left Beijing without announcing any specific agreement with China on enforcement. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, who met with Mr. Xi, said after two days of talks in March, “The U.S. views the provocative actions of North Korea as very serious, and we will continue to pursue methods available to change the policy perspective in Pyongyang.” He added, “We share a common objective of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula, and we will continue to discuss it.” Shortly after Lew’s visit, the United States under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, David S. Cohen, and the State Department coordinator for sanctions policy, Daniel Fried, went to Beijing to discuss sanctions enforcement in more detail. They left without any announcements. In a response to the Chinese policy of urging North Korea to overhaul its economy, Deng wrote: “Once the door of reform opened, the regime could be overthrown. Why should China maintain relations with a regime and a country that will face failure sooner or later?” While working at Study Times, Deng also developed a reputation as a combative commentator for other news publications less bound to official orthodoxy. He wrote an article last year on the failures of President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, who both recently retired, saying that during their decade in power they squandered chances to make much-needed changes. (Jane Perlez, “Chinese Editor Suspended for Article on North Korea,” New York Times, April 2, 2013, p. A-9)


4/2/13:
General Department of Atomic Energy of the DPRK spokesman “as regards the new strategic line laid down at the March, 2013 plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea on simultaneously pushing forward economic construction and the building of nuclear armed force to cope with the prevailing situation so as to meet the law-governing requirements of the development of the Korean revolution: The field of atomic energy is faced with heavy tasks for making a positive contribution to solving the acute shortage of electricity by developing the self-reliant nuclear power industry and for bolstering up the nuclear armed force both in quality and quantity till the world is denuclearized, pursuant to the strategic line on simultaneously pushing forward economic construction and the building of the nuclear armed force. The General Department of Atomic Energy of the DRPK decided to adjust and alter the uses of the existing nuclear facilities, to begin with, in accordance with the line. This will include the measure for readjusting and restarting all the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon including uranium enrichment plant and 5MW graphite moderated reactor which had been mothballed and disabled under an agreement reached at the six-party talks in October, 2007. This work will be put into practice without delay. (KCNA, “DPRK to Adjust Uses of Existing Nuclear Facilities,” April 2, 2013)

North Korea can probably restart a mothballed plutonium-producing reactor in six months if it is determined to do so and the site has suffered no major structural damage, but it may take years to produce significant new atom bomb material. Siegfried Hecker — a Stanford University nuclear scientist who is believed to have been the last Westerner to visit the Yongbyon nuclear complex — said the Yongbyon research reactor has been on standby since July 2007. “If they restart the reactor, which I estimate will take them at least six months, they can produce about six kilograms of plutonium (roughly one bomb’s worth) per year,” Hecker said in an interview published on Tuesday on a Stanford website. He said that it would take the North approximately three to four years before it could get another 12 kg (26 lbs) of plutonium, which would suffice for two more weapons. Hecker added that when he last visited North Korea in 2010, he estimated that the country had a stockpile of 24 to 42 kg (53 to 93 lbs) of plutonium, roughly four to eight bombs worth. If the country’s February nuclear test used plutonium — which is not clear — the stocks would be about five to six kg lower, he said. Satellite images published by 38North showed new construction activity at the reactor site from early February until the end of March. It said the imagery indicated that construction had begun along a roadway and toward the back of the reactor building. Olli Heinonen, former head of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) safeguards department, told Reuters he had a similar prediction, though he said it was possible North Korea could have the research reactor running in less than six months.”We don’t know how much preparatory work they’ve done,” said Heinonen, who is currently at Harvard University and has visited North Korea and met with North Korean scientists. Both Hecker and Heinonen said North Korea could most likely restart the reactor without any foreign assistance, despite U.N., U.S. and other sanctions aimed at curtailing its ability to purchase nuclear and missile technology. A U.S. official concurred with Hecker and Heinonen. “North Korea’s assertion that it intends to bring Yongbyon back on line can’t be easily written off as an insurmountable hurdle,” the official said. Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, however, said there was a possibility that the Yongbyon reactor has been rendered inoperable for unknown reasons. “It’s been a mystery to me why they haven’t started it up before this,” he said. “The most logical answer is that they couldn’t … But there’s no certainty here.” If the reactor is functional, Fitzpatrick said, the half-year timeline for restarting it made sense. Certain technical challenges await the North Koreans. In 2008 they destroyed the Yongbyon reactor’s cooling tower as a confidence-building step in U.S.-led multilateral negotiations aimed at reducing tensions on the Korean peninsula. Heinonen said that either North Korea must build a new cooling tower or create an underground cooling plant, like one that was under construction at a site in Syria that Israel bombed in 2007. Western intelligence sources have said North Korea helped build the Syrian reactor, which the government of President Bashar al-Assad has said was not a nuclear site. David Albright, a former weapons inspector and head of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security think tank, said it was important not to underestimate the nuclear capabilities of the North Koreans or their determination to live up to their word. “North Korea huffs and puffs a lot, but underneath that they pretty much do as they say,” said Albright, who met with North Korean nuclear scientists in Pyongyang in 2011. “They have been saying they want to improve the quality of their nuclear weapons and they may very well do that.” Hecker, who visited the enrichment plant in 2010, said North Korea has a good safety record for its five-megawatt research reactor, but he voiced concerns about the new plant it intends to construct. “I am much more concerned about the safety of the new light-water reactor they are building,” he told Reuters without elaborating. (Louis Charbonneau, “North Korea Can Likely Revive Reactor in Six Months, Needs Years for More Bombs,” Reuters, April 3, 2013)

SecState Kerry, FM Yun: “KERRY: Good afternoon. It’s a great pleasure for me to welcome Foreign Minister Yun here today to Washington. This is his first visit as the Foreign Minister, and it’s my first visit with him as Secretary of State. And we’re both delighted to start off this way, two very close friends, countries that have traveled a very interesting journey together for 60 years now. We celebrate 60 years of this alliance. … Today, we discussed all of the issues that you would obviously imagine we would and even more. We covered a great deal, but I will start with North Korea. We’ve heard an extraordinary amount of unacceptable rhetoric from the North Korean Government in the last days. So let me be perfectly clear here today: The United States will defend and protect ourselves and our treaty ally, the Republic of Korea. The Foreign Minister and I also think it’s important to stay absolutely focused on our shared goal of a peaceful Korean Peninsula, free of nuclear weapons. And we agree that improved relations between North and South would ultimately help to move us towards that goal. That is a stated goal of the new President of the Republic of Korea, and we look forward to working with her to achieve that goal. We also discussed our collaboration on global security issues. South Korea has done great work on the UN Security Council helping to curb civilian casualties in combat zones. And they have done that work not just in the Far East, but around the world. We’re also grateful for South Korea’s continued commitment to reducing Iranian oil imports. This has not been easy. It’s at a cost to their economy. It’s difficult. But they have played their role and taken their part in helping to have an impact on trying to change the behavior of Iran. Iran knows exactly what it needs to do in order to address international concerns about its nuclear program, and it can start doing so next weekend in Almaty at the P-5+1 talks. We also discussed ways to work more closely on the humanitarian crisis in Syria, and I thanked the Republic of Korea for their support on the humanitarian concerns in that area. We also have shared initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa, and we thank them for that. In terms of bilateral issues, the Foreign Minister and I both want to promote the smooth implementation of the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement. This agreement is good for both countries, and it will strengthen our broad economic ties, it will spur growth, it will help create jobs in both countries and in both regions. We also had a good discussion on the bilateral civilian nuclear agreement. We have a long record of close cooperation on this issue, and we are committed to finding a workable, expeditious way forward. And finally, we also are both deeply concerned about addressing the problem of climate change. We discussed that. We will have further discussions when I go to Seoul next week. We both support clean energy development, and we will be looking for ways to work closely on these issues as we enter a period of new negotiations on climate change over the course of the next few years. So this was a very productive meeting, I hope the first of many in the years ahead. And Mr. Foreign Minister, I look forward to seeing you again in a very short period of time. And I thank you for your commitment to this important partnership, and I thank you for taking time to come and visit here today to prepare for the important meetings of our leaders in early May. YUN: … More than anything else, I discussed with Secretary Kerry the serious nature of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, including North Korea’s (inaudible) nuclear testing as well as the series of threats from the North. We agreed to further strengthen credible and robust deterrence vis-a-vis North Korea’s nuclear and conventional provocations. In particular, the Secretary and I expressed satisfaction over the progress made in the tailored extended deterrence and the counter-provocation plan. I reaffirmed my government’s strong commitment to work closely with the United States on North Korea policy. Both Secretary Kerry and I agreed that North Korea should abandon its nuclear ambitions and bellicose rhetoric. We also agreed to collaborate to ensure full implementation of the UN’s Security Council Resolution 2094. I also updated Secretary Kerry on my government’s policy of building trust between Seoul and Pyongyang as North Korea makes the right choice. I also emphasized that President Park’s new policy to promote peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia is in line with the United States policy toward Asia and that they mutually reinforce each other. As we celebrate the first anniversary of the KORUS FTA, both Secretary Kerry and I were pleased with the smooth implementation of the agreement. I also took the opportunity to reaffirm my government’s strong commitment to open economy and free trade. Moreover, I stressed the importance of further strengthening our cooperation in the field of science and technology, renewable energy, space, and climate change. Finally, I stressed to Secretary Kerry the importance of revising the Korea-U.S. civil nuclear cooperation agreement in a mutually beneficial, timely, and forward-looking manner. Both sides will continue consultations in this regard. … NULAND: Good. We’ll take four questions today. We’ll start with CNN. Elise Labott, please. Q: I’d like to ask you about what you think North Korea’s intentions are. Do you think that these threats are just bluster, specifically, the recent threat to restart its nuclear facility? And is there a danger of not taking these threats too seriously that that might provoke them into actually doing something? Or is there a chance, do you think, that they could pull back and be ready for diplomacy at some point? Mr. Foreign Minister, the Six-Party talks and the whole process has always really relied on China to rein in the North, if you will. Lately, it doesn’t really seem that the North is listening to China in any meaningful way. And I’m wondering if you think that this is a safeguard that the parties cannot rely on anymore. Has the influence China had kind of been used up? YUN: Regarding (inaudible), basically as we saw in the latest adoption of the UN Security Council Resolution 2094, China is now very cooperative, and they made very clear that they will fully implement the resolution of the UN Security Council Resolution 2094. Regarding the Six-Party talks, actually in this resolution now, Six-Party members and members of the Council also made it clear the Six-Party Talks is still a very useful tool to implement — to actually make efforts towards denuclearization of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Even though this is a very difficult task, we believe that with China and with members of the Six-Party talks, we should continue these efforts with patience. KERRY: I’m not going to speculate on what the intent is or whether there’s a strategy or not a strategy. The bottom line is very simply that what Kim Jong-un has been choosing to do is provocative, it is dangerous, reckless, and the United States will not accept the DPRK as a nuclear state. And I reiterate again the United States will do what is necessary to defend ourselves and defend our allies, Korea and Japan. We are fully prepared and capable of doing so, and I think the DPRK understands that. Now, that said, no one takes lightly, least of all the President of the United States, what has been happening, which is precisely why the President made the decision to redeploy missile defense with respect to the United States itself as well as to take other preparations in the region and to send a very clear signal to our allies and the North alike that the United States will defend our allies and that we will not be subject to irrational or reckless provocation. But — and here’s an important but — we make it clear, as we have consistently, that the United States believes there is a very simple way for North Korea to rejoin the community of nations and make it clear that they want to pursue a peaceful path. And they can come back to the table and join all of those other countries, including their nearest neighbor and partner, China, obviously shared nearest neighbor with the Republic of Korea, but China which has such an important role to play and which has always maintained a closer relationship to the North than any other country. So they have an option, and that option is to enter into negotiations for the denuclearization, which is China’s policy also, and to begin to focus on the needs of their people, which we also have made it clear we are prepared to help them with if they will bring their behavior in line with the United Nations and global community requirements. So it’s very simple: We are going to proceed thoughtfully and carefully, as the President has indicated, but we take nothing for granted. And we also are not indifferent to the meaning of the risks that are involved. Q: Do you believe they’ll restart their nuclear facility, as they threatened to do? KERRY: Well, first of all, if they restart their nuclear facility at Yongbyon, that is in direct violation of their international obligations, so that in itself would be a breach of international standard and requirement, it would be a provocative act and completely contrary to the road that we have traveled all of these years from the Agreed Framework forward. So we’ll have to wait and see what happens with respect to that, but it is a direct violation of their international obligations and would be a very serious step. NULAND: Next one, Im Min-hyuk from Chosun Ilbo, please. Q: (Via interpreter) The first question goes out to Secretary Kerry. Right now a lot of Korean people are deeply interested in the negotiation of the U.S.-Korea civil nuclear agreement. Mr. Secretary, some people are concerned that if Korea’s request to low enrichment for peaceful purposes is not accepted, then this may harm U.S.-Korea relationship. And Mr. Secretary, do you have any intention of proactively accepting Korea’s request and before the visit of President Park do you see some tangible progress happening in this area? KERRY: Well, we welcome — President Obama and the United States welcomes South Korea’s emergence as a nuclear energy leader, peaceful nuclear energy leader. And we are working together on a civil nuclear agreement that will build on a very strong nuclear energy cooperation that we’ve enjoyed for literally over 50-plus years. We see no reason that that will not continue in an agreed-upon fashion. And the Foreign Minister and I had a very good discussion about that agreement. We’ve exchanged some ideas, and I will follow up on those when I visit Seoul in about a week. And I am very hopeful, and I think the Foreign Minister shares this hope, that this can be resolved before the visit of President Park. But we’re quite confident that is a relationship that can and will continue in its proper form. … NULAND: Last one today, Lee Woo-tak of Yonhap News, please. Q: (Via interpreter) (Inaudible) Korea Peninsula with its Korea Peninsula peace process. My question is: Do you have any plans on suggesting a dialogue with the North Koreans first — for instance, reopening the Mount Kumgang tourist visit? And my question going out to Secretary Kerry: Ever since you were a member of the Senate, I know that you’ve always emphasized the importance of diplomacy and dialogue. I know that this was one of your standing principles, and I know you also spoke about that kind of principle when dealing with the North Koreans. And Mr. Secretary, under what circumstances or what situation would the United States be prepared to resume dialogue with the North Koreans? Do you have any specific conditions in mind in order to resume dialogue with the North Koreans, and if so, Mr. Secretary, do you have any plans on sending a special envoy to North Korea in order to resume talks with the North Koreans? YUN: (Via interpreter) First of all, situation on the Korean Peninsula or tension is getting higher on the Korean Peninsula, and is critically important for the U.S. and South Korea to enhance its defense capabilities. And as we said repeatedly, we will always be — we will address, in case of North Korean provocation, but if North Korea decides to give up its nuclear ambitions and to become a member of the international community, we are prepared to resume our talks in terms of putting in place a peace process on the Korean Peninsula. KERRY: North Korea needs to make it clear that they are prepared to have a serious discussion about denuclearization. And they know exactly what the goal is; they know exactly what the terms are. And we are prepared. President Obama has said repeatedly we are prepared to enter into a dialogue negotiation if they are serious, if they will stop the provocations and engage in a serious discussion. We have always said that we would like to try to resolve the problems of the entire peninsula. That means making peace. But making peace does not involve having a nuclear north and a disadvantaged Republic of Korea to the south. So they know very well what the terms are here. And with the respect to the question of an envoy, we have an envoy. Ambassador Glyn Davies is appointed already. He’s there — I mean, he’s there — he’s here, but if the circumstances are correct, when North Korea meets or it issues an indication that it is serious about trying to resolve this issue. And I would just say this and I think it’s important. We face this danger not just to the Republic of Korea but a danger to the entire region and the world of the proliferation of nuclear weapons. And we face it with respect to Iran. President Obama could not have been more clear with respect to both. His policy is the denuclearization of North Korea — the DPRK — because that is the only way to begin to end the conflict and create safety in the region. The last thing the world needs is more nuclear nations at the very time that the nuclear nations are trying to reduce their current numbers of nuclear weapons and control this danger. Secondly, we face the question of Iran. And Iran knows very well it has an opportunity this weekend. The Iranian people are a great people. They have a long, long history, many times longer than the United States of America, thousands of years. They have an ability to rejoin the community of nations, to get out from under this isolation, if they will choose the simple ways of proving, as other nations proved, that they have peaceful nuclear energy. It’s that simple. It’s not complicated. And our hope is that that initiative can begin in earnest this weekend in Almaty, where we will have a team prepared to negotiate, and that in the days ahead we can reach an understanding that will also move as we are trying, with respect to the Korea Peninsula, to make the world safer. That’s what this is about. It’s not about — we have no ambitions there, and I think they know that. We want to see a peaceful community of nations trading with each other, working to improve the lives of their citizens; and that is in direct contrast to the North, which maintains gulags, has thousands of political prisoners, treats people in the most inhumane way, and now starves their people in order to build nuclear weapons. That couldn’t be a bigger choice. And that’s the choice that we are standing here presenting to the community of nations that have made a different choice.” (Secretary of State John Kerry, Remarks With Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea Yun Byung-se after Their Meeting, April 3, 2013)

There is a saying that, when cornered, a rat can turn around and bite a cat. Finding a sense of wisdom in this, some North Korea experts say it is about time to moderate the recent show of force by the United States in joint drills with South Korea and see how Pyongyang will react. It is obvious this show of force by the world’s largest military superpower is acting as a deterrent against the North, which has been spewing belligerent vitriol to jack up tension. “As the North was ramping up its rhetoric and military show of force, the South and the United States needed to display their deterrence capability against its threats,” said Chang Yong-seok, a senior researcher at the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies at Seoul National University. “But an excessive demonstration of U.S. military might unnecessarily spike the tension. We need to be cautious and control the level of show of force. We do not have to slap a crying child in the face.” The situation is so precarious that President Park Geun-hye ordered a meeting of national security-related ministers Monday night. Park presided over the meeting to go over the situation in detail. The U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) was scheduled to show its F-22 Raptors to the Korean media today, but cancelled the plan a day earlier, simply saying circumstances had changed. There were reports the cancellation was part of a decision not to further provoke the North, although the USFK declined to comment. “The cancellation is not a bad decision,” Chang said. “I think it looks like a government- or Cheong Wa Dae-level decision to defuse the current situation. It is a positive sign.” Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, agreed. “Mindful of more provocation of the North with the continuous U.S. show of force, it is seen as part of efforts to calm down the situation on the Korean Peninsula.” A string of demonstrations of U.S. advanced military capabilities started with a flyover by a nuclear-capable B-52 bomber and two B-2 stealth bombers. The USS Cheyenne, a nuclear attack submarine, also participated in the Foal Eagle exercise ― an annual joint maneuver that is scheduled to continue until April 30 ― before two F-22 stealth fighter jets highlighted the demonstration of U.S. military might, yesterday. (Kang Seung-woo, “Do Allies Need to Keep the Pressure on?” Korea Times, April 2, 2013)

The Japanese soldiers in camouflage face paint and full combat gear were dropped by American helicopters onto this treeless, hilly island, and moved quickly to recapture it from an imaginary invader. To secure their victory, they called on a nearby U.S. warship to pound the “enemy” with gunfire that exploded in deafening thunderclaps. Perhaps the most notable feature of the war games in February, called Iron Fist, was the baldness of their unspoken warning. There is only one country that Japan fears would stage an assault on one of its islands: China. Iron Fist is one of the latest signs that Japan’s anxiety about China’s insistent claims over disputed islands as well as North Korea’s escalating nuclear threats are pushing Japanese leaders to shift further away from the nation’s postwar pacifism. The new assertiveness has been particularly apparent under the new prime minister, Abe Shinzo, a conservative who has increased military spending for the first time in 11 years. With China’s maritime forces staging regular demonstrations of their determination to control disputed islands in the East China Sea and North Korea’s new leader issuing daily proclamations against the United States and its allies, Abe’s calls for a bolder, stronger military are getting a warmer welcome in Japan than similar efforts in the past. “This is a very serious rethink of Japan’s security,” said Morimoto Satoshi, defense minister in the last administration, who was an architect of changes in Japan’s defense policy. Until recently, a simulated battle against Chinese forces would have been unthinkably provocative for Japan, which renounced the right to wage war — or even to possess a military — after its march across Asia in World War II resulted in crushing defeat. The purely defensive forces created in 1954 are still constrained from acting in too offensive a manner: last year, a smaller mock assault by Japanese and American forces on an island near Okinawa was canceled because of local opposition. That recalculation — a large step in what analysts see as a creeping over the years toward a more robust Japanese military — could have broad implications for the power balance in the region, angering China and likely giving the United States a more involved partner in its pivot to Asia to offset China’s extended reach. At the same time, the Japanese public has more fully embraced the once-discredited Self-Defense Forces. That is in part because of anxiety over China and North Korea, but also because of the military’s prominent humanitarian presence after the 2011 tsunami. Although Japanese liberals and critics elsewhere in Asia fear that Mr. Abe is using regional tensions as an excuse to ram through a hawkish agenda, opinion polls show he has broad public support for his overall policies. The mock invasion was part of the joint training exercises that are held annually with the Marines. But this one broke new ground. Not only were the soldiers calling in American naval fire and airstrikes themselves, the leaders of their elite unit for the first time helped plan the war game, taking on a role closer to equals than to junior partners. And in a reversal of historical roles, wartime aggressor Japan now finds itself on the defensive against a powerful China that feels its moment has arrived. “China is in their face, giving them the first militarized challenge that Japan has seen since the war,” said Richard J. Samuels, an M.I.T. political scientist who has written about Japanese security. “The mood has shifted toward giving more legitimacy to the guys in uniform.” With small but significant steps, Japan has been moving for several years toward refashioning itself and its 240,000-strong Self-Defense Forces into something closer to a true partner of the United States military. In recent years, the two countries have jointly developed a ship-borne missile system capable of shooting down ballistic missiles. Abe is calling for a broader interpretation of the postwar Constitution, which restricts Japan to acting only in “self-defense,” to include acting in defense of allies. Abe says this would allow Japanese forces to shoot down a North Korean missile heading toward the United States, something they cannot now legally do. While the military spending increase passed by Abe and his governing party is small (0.8 percent compared with China’s double-digit gains in recent years), it is intended to bolster the defense of Japan’s southwestern islands, including the disputed ones, known as the Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. The new military budget also adds weapons that just a decade or two ago would have seemed overly offensive for Japan’s defensive forces, including financing for two F-35 stealth fighter jets. The larger budget will also add another attack submarine to strengthen the Japanese Navy’s ability to hunt the new Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning as well as money to develop a new anti-ship missile. “This is a signal that we are still a player,” said Michishita Narushige, a specialist in security studies at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo. Abe has also called for rewriting the postwar Constitution to scrap restrictions on the military altogether, but polls show the idea remains unpopular with the majority of Japanese. Still, in a country that for years would not acknowledge it had armed forces, the changes in budgets and tactics are significant. The move toward a more normalized military also benefited from misfortune, the triple disaster in 2011, when an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis crippled northeastern Japan. During the grim first days of the crisis, the Self-Defense Forces were the face of the government amid scenes of devastation, and a lifeline for shocked survivors. Now, after years when they were barely seen in public, the troops are spoken of with a new warmth and have even become fixtures on television programs lauding the heroes of the rescue efforts. The military’s own shift to a somewhat more assertive force was on display last month at Camp Pendleton, a Marine base near San Diego and San Clemente Island. This year, 280 Japanese soldiers participated in the war games, 100 more than last year’s Iron Fist, which started eight years ago with just a dozen Japanese soldiers. The soldiers were part of the Western Army Infantry Regiment, a centerpiece of Japan’s efforts to build its own military capabilities. With American help, the 1,000-man unit is being fashioned into a Marine-style force capable of making helicopter and amphibious landings to defend Japan’s southwestern islands. This year’s military budget includes $25 million for four American-made amphibious troop carriers used by the Marines. (Martin Fackler, “Japan Shifts from Pacifism as Anxiety in the Region Rises,” New York Times, April 2, 2013, p. A-4)


4/2/13:
The General Department of Atomic Energy of the DPRK gave the following answer to a question raised by KCNA as regards the new strategic line laid down at the March, 2013 plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea on simultaneously pushing forward economic construction and the building of nuclear armed force to cope with the prevailing situation so as to meet the law-governing requirements of the development of the Korean revolution: The field of atomic energy is faced with heavy tasks for making a positive contribution to solving the acute shortage of electricity by developing the self-reliant nuclear power industry and for bolstering up the nuclear armed force both in quality and quantity till the world is denuclearized, pursuant to the strategic line on simultaneously pushing forward economic construction and the building of the nuclear armed force. The General Department of Atomic Energy of the DRPK decided to adjust and alter the uses of the existing nuclear facilities, to begin with, in accordance with the line. This will include the measure for readjusting and restarting all the nuclear facilities in Nyongbyon including uranium enrichment plant and 5MW graphite moderated reactor which had been mothballed and disabled under an agreement reached at the six-party talks in October, 2007. This work will be put into practice without delay.” (KCNA, “DPRK to Adjust Uses of Existing Nuclear Facilities,” April 2, 2013)

North Korea announced plans to restart a mothballed nuclear reactor, the latest in a series of provocations by its leader, Kim Jong-un, to elicit a muted response from American officials, who believe they can wait out Kim’s threats until he realizes his belligerent behavior will not force South Korea or the United States into making any concessions. “Right now, they’re testing the proposition that we’ll choose peace and quiet, and put it on our MasterCard,” said a senior American official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the administration’s internal calculations. “When they get through this cycle, they will have gotten no return on their investment.” Secretary of State John Kerry, using time-tested diplomatic language, said North Korea’s plan to restart the reactor would be a “provocative act” and “a direct violation of their international obligations.” Speaking in Washington after his first meeting with South Korea’s foreign minister, Yun Byung-se, Kerry reaffirmed the determination of the United States to defend its ally. American officials still worry about the consequences of any miscalculation, given the hair-trigger tensions on the Korean Peninsula and Kim’s inexperience at this type of brinkmanship. The top American commander in South Korea, Gen. James D. Thurman, called the situation “tense” and “volatile” in an interview with ABC News. But the senior official predicted that North Korea would eventually back down, as Mr. Kim’s need for food aid and hard currency outweighed the domestic political gains from his threats to shoot missiles at American cities. “The North Koreans want the international community to feed their people, fuel their factories and fill their bank accounts,” the official said. “If North Korea were a self-sufficient enterprise, we would have a much bigger problem on our hands.” Still, the announcements by the North’s General Department of Atomic Energy were troubling on a couple of levels: The plan to restart the reactor at the main nuclear complex in Yongbyon reverses gains from a short-lived 2007 nuclear disarmament deal with the United States. And its plan to use a uranium-enrichment plant on the site for the weapons program gives it two ways of producing fuel for bombs, since the reactor produces plutonium. The announcements came two days after Kim said his nuclear weapons were not a bargaining chip and called for expanding the arsenal in “quality and quantity” during a meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea. It was the first time North Korea had said it would use the uranium plant to make nuclear weapons. Since unveiling it to a visiting American scholar in 2010, North Korea had insisted it was running the plant to make reactor fuel to generate electricity, though Washington suggested that its purpose was bombs. The five-megawatt, graphite-moderated reactor, which experts say would require significant effort to bring back on line, had been the main source of plutonium bomb fuel until it was shut down under the deal with the United States. North Korean engineers are believed to have extracted enough plutonium for six to eight bombs from the spent fuel unloaded from the reactor. It is unknown whether North Korea’s third nuclear test in February used some of its limited stockpile of plutonium or fuel from its uranium-enrichment program, whose scale and history remain a mystery. Mr. Kim has recently raised tensions with a torrent of threats to attack the United States and South Korea with pre-emptive nuclear strikes. But this week, he appeared to shift his tone slightly by reiterating that his nuclear weapons were a deterrent that helped his country focus on more pressing domestic economic issues. The White House said it was reaching out to China and Russia to encourage them to use their influence to urge restraint on Pyongyang. The senior American official said the new Chinese leadership, led by President Xi Jinping, was frustrated by Kim’s belligerence, which it viewed as a threat to China’s own security. And Yun of South Korea said the Chinese had been cooperative since the passage of the latest United Nations sanctions. Xinhua issued comments from Deputy Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui that did not expressly single out North Korea but nonetheless signaled deepening worry about its actions and the response from the United States and its allies. “We do not want to see war or turmoil break out on the peninsula, and we oppose provocative words and actions by any side,” Zhang said, using more urgent language than his government has tended to use until now. North Korea blocked traffic across the heavily armed border to an industrial park it has run with South Korea for eight years. It was unclear whether the action resulted from a communications problem or represented the end of one of the last symbols of North-South cooperation. (Choe Sang-hun and Mark Landler, “North Korea Says It Will Restart Mothballed Nuclear Reactor,” New York Times, April 3, 2013, p. A-4)

The U.S.’s recent show of force around the Korean Peninsula was designed to send a warning to North Korea and “reduce pressure on Seoul to take unilateral action,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters. Carney was explaining why Washington recently announced the deployment in joint exercises with South Korea of hard-hitting weaponry such as B-52 bombers, B-2 stealth bombers, and F-22 fighter jets. Carney appeared to hint that Washington does not want South Korea to respond in kind to any North Korean provocation. “Of course, Washington is worried about provocations from Pyongyang. But it is also very worried about the possibility of South Korea taking unilateral action in response and of the situation escalating to the point that the U.S. can’t control it,” a diplomatic source in Washington said. “The actions we have taken … have been important steps to reassure our allies, demonstrate our resolve to the North,” Carney said. (Chosun Ilbo, “U.S. Seeks to Prevent Unilateral S. Korean Action,” April 3, 2013)

President Park Geun-hye hosted her first ministerial meeting of foreign affairs and security officials at the Blue House to discuss escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula. “It is indispensable for us to strongly retaliate against a North Korean attack,” Park was quoted as saying by her spokesman, Yoon Chang-joong. “But it is also important to stop North Korea from even thinking about a provocation.” The meeting lasted for about one hour and 30 minutes. Its participants included the defense minister, unification minister, chief of the National Intelligence Service, presidential chief of staff, Blue House chief of national security and senior presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security. The vice foreign minister attended on behalf of the foreign minister, who was in the United States.

The meeting was decided abruptly by Park Monday evening, a Blue House official said, and the participants were not informed until yesterday morning, prompting speculation about worrying development in the North. “The meeting was to resolve the people’s insecurity about the situation and to preemptively deter a miscalculation by the North,” said another presidential aide. (Ser Myo-ja and Shin Yong-ho, “Park Wants to Preempt a ‘Miscalculation’ by North,” JoongAng Ilbo, April 3, 2013)

Kurt Campbell, former U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, revealed in an interview that North Korea’s Kim Jong Un regime repeatedly refused calls from the U.S. government seeking dialogue. “I don’t think we’ve received, since Kim Jong Un has come to power, any real indication of his determination at the highest levels to have the sincere, forward-looking dialogue with the U.S.,” Campbell told Yomiuri Shimbun. “We have tested their willingness for dialogue in a number of ways–I’m not going to get into that–and we have been unsuccessful in those efforts. To those who say, ‘The U.S. has not tried talking with North Korea,’ that’s wrong. We’ve tried.” Regarding North Korea’s announcement Tuesday that it would restart a graphite-moderated nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, Campbell said he feels a diplomatic solution to the issue of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions has become very difficult. “[I] think even the most optimistic observer, of which there are very few left, cannot help but acknowledge that this is a substantial setback [in denuclearization negotiations]. It’s just going to be very difficult to recover in a way that will allow any form of truly productive diplomacy to go forward,” Campbell said. Concerning North Korea’s recent provocative remarks, Campbell said they are not for preparation for war, but part of a propaganda campaign. “We have seen no change in the disposition of North Korean military forces on the ground … all the things that we look for in terms of military preparedness–forces out in the field, deployments of aircraft, missiles out of their storage areas–none of that has happened … One has to come to some conclusions that part of this is about a propaganda campaign, not a preparation for war,” he said. Campbell praised the diplomacy of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ‘s administration, saying, “[He’s] been very careful, particularly on some nationalist hot button issues … I know that Abe-san wants very much to have a very good relationship with [South Korean President] Madame Park [Geun Hye] and her senior team. I think the China-Japan relationship has improved marginally. (Yamaguchi Kyoke, “United States: N. Korea Refused Dialogue Calls,” Yomiuri Shimbun, April 4, 2013)


4/3/13:
Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) spokesman “in connection with the fact that the puppet group of south Korea is resorting to a provocative racket over the issue of the Kaesong Industrial Zone: The south Korean puppet group is now openly talking about “regrettable thing” and “promotion of normalization” over the measure taken by the DPRK’s army of banning the entry into and exist out of the Kaesong Industrial Zone by the south Korean personnel. It is even making such invectives as the “emergence of massive confinement” and “measure for rescuing hostages,” aggravating the situation. Puppet Minister of Defense of south Korea Kim Kwan Jin, die-hard warmonger, and other military gangsters seek to ignite a war at any cost, talking about “military operation for rescuing hostages.” Kim Kwan Jin’s outburst revealed the intention of the puppet regime to cripple the Kaesong Industrial Zone, product of the June 15 era. The group had a room chief of the puppet National Defense Institute make appearance on TV let loose coarse invectives slandering the social system and the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK despite its stern warning. This is an unpardonable heinous provocation against the DPRK. The Kaesong Industrial Zone has been maintained despite the present north-south relations that are put in the state of a war. This was attributable to the DPRK’s magnanimity by which it took into consideration south Korean small businesses and people who subsist on the Zone. The south Korean puppet group, in denial of this stark fact, even plans “military operation for rescuing hostages”, not content with insulting the dignity of the DPRK. This clearly proves that the group is trying to use the Kaesong Industrial Zone as a fuse for provoking a war of aggression against the DPRK. It is none other than the group which holds south Korean personnel in the Zone as hostages for a war of aggression against the DPRK. With no rhetoric can the group evade the responsibility for having created such a grim situation as today. The group should know that there is limit to the magnanimity of the DPRK. It had better control its mouth, mindful that the Zone is less than 40 km from Seoul. It has not yet come to its senses and is still asserting that the DPRK’s measure of prohibition will not last long. But this is foolish ambition. As the puppet forces are abusing the Zone as leverage for escalating confrontation with fellow countrymen, the shutdown of the Zone has become imminent. If the south Korean puppet group and conservative media keep vociferating about the Zone, we will take a resolute measure of withdrawing all our personnel from the Zone.” ((KCNA, “CPRK Spokesman Slams S. Korean Group for Vociferating about Kaesong Industrial Zone,” April 3, 2013)

North Korea will ban South Koreans from the industrial park in Kaesong, only allowing South Koreans currently staying at the border town to return home. The abrupt entry ban came after Pyongyang threatened to shut down the Kaesong Industrial Complex and launch a pre-emptive nuclear war on Seoul and Washington over South Korea-U.S. joint military drills and U.N. sanctions for its latest nuclear test. Seoul’s Ministry of Unification said that it received an official notification from the North earlier in the day stating the restrictions. “South Korea’s government deeply regrets the entry ban and urges it to be lifted immediately,” ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-suk said in a press conference. The official pointed out that the latest action by the communist country will impede normal operations at the site. He stressed Seoul will make every effort to ensure the safety of South Korean nationals at the industrial site. “The government will talk with companies that have factories at Kaesong to determine what course of action should be taken,” he said. Kim pointed out that because the North has not barred South Korean workers from leaving Kaesong, people expected to cross the demilitarized zone (DMZ) into South Korea should be able to do so. There were 861 South Koreans at the Kaesong complex before the North announced the ban, with three having returned across the demarcation line around noon, six at 2 p.m. and eight at 3 p.m. Originally, 484 South Koreans and 371 vehicles were scheduled to go to Kaesong during the day. Because of the ban, only 33 have returned, a much smaller number than previously planned, which will leave 828 people at the complex. The drop in returnees from 466 is mainly due to less people going North during the day, and to a lesser extent the 123 labor-intensive firms in the border town asking their workers to stay on so they can run their factories despite the entry ban. In an official statement released by the unification ministry, Seoul pointed out that in order for the North to attract investments from abroad, there must be trust not only between the two Koreas, but with the rest of the world. Such trust-building requires the North to be predictable in its actions, it said. “If the North, despite such clear fallouts, persists in its current path, it must be aware of the negative repercussion its actions will have on inter-Korean relations and be willing to face the criticism and isolation from the international community,” the statement said, calling on the North to lift its latest restrictions immediately. South Korea’s response comes as officials at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine Office (CIQ) in Paju, about 50 kilometers northwest of Seoul said the North had not issued permits authorizing the daily trip of South Korean managers and cargo over the DMZ. Officials at CIQ said many workers who planned to cross over turned back after waiting 3-4 hours and confirmed the North’s decision to ban entry into Kaesong. Meanwhile, the Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee (KIDMAC) in the border town informed Seoul that South Korean plants at the complex were operating normally. KIDMAC maintains round-the-clock contact with the ministry. South Korean workers who returned over the demarcation line confirmed work at the factories was unimpeded by the ban. “There seemed to be nothing different at Kaesong, although customs officers at the border wore uniforms and more soldiers were seen,” a worker for a textile company said. The worker, identified only by his surname of Roh, said that while the region could hold out for a short period, problems may occur is there is a shortage of food and industrial materials. The ministry in charge of dialogue with the North and formulating long-term unification policies added that the North had halted movement to and from Kaesong on three occasions in March 2009 when Seoul and Washington were conducting the Key Resolve command post and field exercise. “Although the action taken is serious, it is not without precedence,” an official, who declined to be identified, said. In 2009, the North blocked and opened movement over the DMZ although they allowed moved after the end of the military exercise. An year earlier the country implemented the so-called Dec. 1 measure that reduced the number of South Korea who could remain at Kaesong from 1,070-1,500 to around 800, and moved to exercise more control over the movement of people. President Park Geun-hye was briefed on the situation, a senior aide said. “It was immediately reported” to the president by National Security Office chief Kim Jang-soo, the official said without elaborating, including how Park reacted. “We are closely taking care of the situation around the national security office.” The defense ministry is preparing to take military action in the event that the safety of South Koreans at the factory park comes under threat, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin was quoted as saying by Rep. Won Yoo-chul of the ruling Saenuri Party.The minister made the remark during a meeting of the party’s special committee on North Korea’s nuclear issue, the lawmaker, who chairs the committee, said at a press briefing. The military is also prepared to destroy 70 percent of the North’s front-line units within five days in the event that the communist nation provokes the South, the minister was also quoted as saying by the lawmaker. (Yonhap, “N. Korea Slaps Entry Ban on S. Korean’s Kaesong Workers,” April 3, 2013)

U.S. officials tell NBC News they believe North Korea does have the capability to put a nuclear weapon on a missile and that they have missile deliverable nukes. Those missiles, however, cannot go more than 1000 miles. [?] (Richard Engel, NBC “Nightlyy News, April 3, 2013)

The United States announced that it was speeding the deployment of an advanced missile defense system to Guam in the next few weeks, two years ahead of schedule in what the Pentagon said was “a precautionary move” to protect American naval and air forces from the threat of a North Korean missile attack. The system — called Thaad, for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense — was scheduled for deployment around 2015. The decision to deploy it now was the latest in a series of steps intended to deter the North from either military action or new missile tests and came only hours after the latest North Korean provocation, with officials blocking South Koreans from crossing the border to enter a jointly operated industrial park. In recent weeks, the North has repeatedly threatened that, if provoked, it could target United States forces in Guam and Hawaii as well as the mainland United States — a threat it repeated today. Earlier this week, the Defense Department announced that two of the Navy’s Aegis-class missile defense warships were positioned in the Pacific to watch North Korea. Installing the land-based missile system in Guam will free up the ships, which have radar and interceptor missiles, to be repositioned closer to the North Korean coast. That would give President Obama a wider range of options if the North Koreans fire their missiles in a test or at a target. “We haven’t made any decisions,” a senior administration official said. “But we want as many options as possible.” The last time the United States seriously prepared to shoot down North Korean missiles was the summer of 2006, when the defense secretary at the time, Donald H. Rumsfeld, ordered the Army to prepare to intercept a long-range Taepodong missile from its antiballistic missile base in Alaska during a North Korean test. But the North Korean missile broke up in flight. Last month, as the North escalated its threats, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that the United States would bolster long-range ballistic missile defenses in Alaska and California. But that process will take several years; the Thaad is intended to deter a threat to Guam, which is considered to be on the outer edge of the North’s missile range. The system includes a truck-mounted launcher, interceptor missiles, an integrated fire control system and advanced tracking radar. Hagel, speaking at the National Defense University in Washington, referred to North Korea’s increased nuclear ability in response to a question from the audience. “They have a nuclear capacity now,” he said. “They have a missile delivery capacity now. And so, as they have ratcheted up their bellicose, dangerous rhetoric, and some of the actions they have taken over the last few weeks present a real and clear danger.” Hagel’s carefully worded comment about the North’s “nuclear capacity” was significant; on April 2, Secretary of State John Kerry insisted that the United States would never recognize the North “as a nuclear state.” The difference pointed to the administration’s dilemma: after three nuclear tests, there is no doubt the country can trigger a nuclear explosion, but the United States is adamant that it will not reward the North by accepting its arsenal as a permanent reality. Photographs published yesterday on the Web site 38 North, which follows North Korean developments, show new construction at the aging reactor, dating back several weeks. The United States and South Korea are entering the final stretch of long-stalled negotiations over another highly delicate nuclear issue: South Korea’s own request for American permission to enrich uranium and reprocess spent nuclear fuel. Allowing South Korea to develop either the enrichment or reprocessing technologies would be a rare exception, one that nonproliferation advocates said would set a bad precedent. They said it would undermine not only Washington’s global efforts to curb the spread of such activities, but also American efforts to persuade North Korea and Iran to give up their nuclear programs. In South Korea, where people remember their recent history of war and foreign occupation, popular support has often surged for arming the country with nuclear weapons — especially when people doubt the American commitment to defend their country or when the North’s threats intensify. “When the thug in the neighborhood has gotten himself a brand new machine gun, we can’t defend our home with a stone,” Chung Mong-joon, a ruling party leader and vocal champion of “nuclear sovereignty” for South Korea, recently said, referring to the North Korean nuclear threat. “At a time of crisis, we are not 100 percent sure whether the Americans will cover us with its nuclear umbrella.” But such a call, even if reflective of popular sentiments, has always been tamped down by unequivocal rebuttals from government policy makers. And the United States flew nuclear-capable B-52 and B-2 bombers in recent training sorties over the Korean Peninsula, demonstrating its commitment to a nuclear umbrella for the South Korean ally. Choe Sang-hun and David E. Sanger, “U.S. Speeds Missile Defense to Guam after North Korea Bars South’s Workers,” New York Times, April 4, 2013, p. A-10)

After a high-visibility display of military power aimed at deterring North Korean provocations, the White House is dialing back the aggressive posture amid fears that it could inadvertently trigger an even deeper crisis, according to U.S. officials. The U.S. is putting a pause to what several officials described as a step-by-step plan the Obama administration approved earlier this year, dubbed “the playbook,” that laid out the sequence and publicity plans for U.S. shows of force during annual war games with South Korea. The playbook included well-publicized flights in recent weeks near North Korea by nuclear-capable B-52 and stealth B-2 bombers, as well as advanced F-22 warplanes. The U.S. stepped back from the plans this week, as U.S. officials began to worry that the North, which has a small nuclear arsenal and an unpredictable new leader, may be more provoked than the U.S. had intended, the officials said. “The concern was that we were heightening the prospect of misperceptions on the part of the North Koreans, and that that could lead to miscalculations,” a senior administration official said. Officials said the U.S. didn’t believe North Korea had any imminent plans to take military action in response to the exercises. Rather, the shift reflects concerns within the administration that the North, caught off guard, could do something rash, contrary to intelligence assessments showing that it is unlikely to respond militarily to the U.S. show of force. The shift also came after the Navy confirmed reports on Monday that the U.S. had sent two guided-missile destroyers to the waters off South Korea — a deployment that the White House and Pentagon hadn’t intended to publicize and wasn’t part of the playbook, officials said. Yesterday Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said the U.S. wanted to lower the “temperature” on the peninsula. Today, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — one of the playbook’s chief backers — said during an address that the U.S. and other powers in the region don’t want to make a “complicated, combustible situation” even worse. He urged the North to tone down its rhetoric, holding out the prospect of a “path to peace.” (Adam Entous and Julian Barnes, “U.S. Dials back on Korean Show of Force,” Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2013)

Joel Wit: “Given the torrent of threats and insults hurtling out of Pyongyang these days, North Korea’s announcement Tuesday that it intends to restart facilities at its Yongbyon nuclear installation should come as no surprise. One of those facilities, a plutonium production reactor partially disabled under an agreement with the George W. Bush administration, should eventually be able to produce at least eight more nuclear weapons, adding significantly to Pyongyang’s existing small inventory. What will come as a surprise is that, until recently, the North had been willing to agree to steps that could have prevented that outcome but was ignored by the United States and South Korea. … The future of the 5 MWe reactor became an important subject for unofficial contacts between the North Koreans, myself and other Americans. For example, during a Track II meeting in Pyongyang in November 2010, senior North Korean Foreign Ministry officials made it very clear that they were willing to relinquish thousands of fuel rods in their possession that could have been used by the reactor, rods that could help produce as many as eight nuclear bombs. That would have been a first step toward permanently disabling the facility, making sure the reactor would never again be a threat. Of course, the North Koreans wanted compensation — standard practice in the international nuclear fuel industry — and they wanted more than the rods were worth. But that was clearly their opening position. The offer was repeated during meetings in March 2011 in Berlin and once again in Pyongyang at the end of that year. Each time, the North Korean proposal was dutifully reported to the Obama administration in briefings for the White House, the State Department, the Department of Defense, and the intelligence community. The Lee Myung-bak administration was familiar with the offer, as they would have been intimately involved in any effort to shut Yongbyon down because Lee’s predecessor had been willing to pay for the rods to take them off North Korea’s hands. The North Korean initiative was duly noted, but the United States and South Korea failed to take advantage of the opportunity to ensure that North Korea wasn’t able to restart the reactor and turn the rods into new nuclear bombs. Some U.S. officials felt it wasn’t worth the effort since the reactor was old and probably useless. Others believed that Washington should focus entirely on stopping Pyongyang’s much more threatening program to enrich uranium, unveiled in late 2010, rather than putting the final nail in the coffin of the plutonium production program. Still others, infected by the Obama administration’s policy of “strategic patience,” did not want to do much of anything before the North demonstrated its willingness to reform and end its bad behavior. By August 2012, when another unofficial meeting was held in Singapore, the North Koreans’ position had shifted. It was clear that Washington and Seoul were going to be in for tough times after their respective presidential elections at the end of the year. According to an estimate by Siegfried Hecker, the former head of the Los Alamos Weapons lab now at Stanford University, the North Koreans may need as little as six months to restart the reactor. Unless they are willing to operate at very low power levels, reducing the output of plutonium, they will need to rebuild the cooling tower or put in place some sort of alternative cooling system. That might take six months. Another important job will be to modify some of the thousands of fuel rods either meant for another reactor or complete unfinished rods so that they can be used by the 5 MWe system. That task also may take six months from start to finish. Both of these tasks can be done concurrently. The missed opportunity to stop the restart of the 5 MWe reactor and make sure Pyongyang has eight fewer nuclear weapons is now water under the bridge. More importantly, if the North Koreans make good on their threat, it’s one more sign, if we need it, that Pyongyang is moving full-steam ahead with becoming a small nuclear power. How many nuclear weapons they will eventually produce is anyone’s guess. But one thing should be clear by now: The Obama administration’s policy toward North Korea has failed.” (Joel Wit, “The North Korea Deal That Wasn’t,” Foreign Policy, April 3, 2013)

President Park Geun-hye’s North Korea policy ― dubbed the “trustpolitik” doctrine ― is drawing criticism for lacking clear focus or detailed plans of action. “I suggest that the Park administration come up with more detailed policies on North Korea,” said Yoon Yeo-sang, a researcher at the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights. “Trust-building between the two Koreas can only be achieved through interaction. The relationship cannot move forward while sticking to a past-oriented concept of ‘trust.’” “The Park government’s willingness to engage is essential to improve inter-Korean ties,” said Prof. Kim Hyun-wook of the state-run Korea National Diplomatic Academy. “But the administration needs to push forward with the trust-building process more aggressively.” Asked when the trust-building process might begin, foreign and unification ministry officials said now is clearly not the time due to increased tension after the North’s February 12 nuclear test and continued military threats. In their 2013 policy plan reported to the president last week, the ministries reported providing humanitarian aid to the North would not be conditional to Pyongyang abandoning its nuclear program. Following this, the government allowed a private charity group to send tuberculosis medicine to North Korea, raising hopes of further positive engagement. “Responsible measures must first be taken by North Korea in order for the South to lift all punitive measures and push forward with the trust-building process,” said Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae at a recent news briefing. Foreign Minister Yun Byeong-se also said in a recent meeting with reporters that the doctrine “forms the basis” of Park’s North Korean policy and that its execution is not constrained to any time span. “Implementation of specific policies can change depending on the situation on and beyond the Korean Peninsula,” Yun said. “Park’s North Korean policy is unfocused because she sought to depart from Lee’s policy of laying out conditions,” said an insider on North Korean issues who requested anonymity. “Her policy in turn has no essence to it.” (Chung Min-uck, “Action Plans Missing in ‘Trust Process,” Korea Times, April 3, 2013)

China has demanded that a trilateral summit it was slated to attend in late May in Seoul with Japan and South Korea be postponed because of its ongoing dispute over the Japan-held Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, sources said. South Korea, which is scheduled to chair the annual meeting of the three countries’ leaders this year, has urged China to drop the demand, but Beijing has refused, the sources said, giving rise to speculation that the summit will not be held until June or later. Beijing’s demand comes despite signs of improved Sino-Japanese ties, which have soured over the Senkaku row, with former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda arranging to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in China later this month. But the move suggests Beijing believes it is too soon for the leaders of China and Japan to meet face to face as a way to repair ties, amid continuing tensions over the Japan-controlled islets, which China also claims and calls Diaoyu. The Chinese stance was conveyed to Japan via South Korea, according to the sources. South Korea sounded out Japan and China about holding the trilateral summit in Seoul on May 25 and 26. But a Chinese official demanded that it be postponed, the sources said. At a news conference in Tokyo late last month, Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua took a cautious stance on a summit with Japan. “It would not be good for the top leaders to get into a fight as soon as they meet,” he said. (Kyodo, “Senkaku Row Prompts China to Demand Postponement of Summit with Japan, South Korea: Sources,” April 4, 2013)

A North Korean defector boomeranged back to his homeland by crossing the inter-Korean maritime border, evading a South Korean military that is on high alert after daily threats from Pyongyang. South Korea’s Defense Ministry told reporters April 4 that the 28-year-old defector, Lee Hyeok-cheol, crossed the Northern Limit Line, de facto maritime border between the two Koreas in the Yellow Sea, in a stolen fishing boat. According to the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lee stole a 9.7-ton fishing boat from Yeonpyeong Island, a frontline island only 0.8 nautical miles (1.5 kilometers) south of North Korean territory, at around 10:30 p.m. on April 3 and sailed away. The owner of the stolen boat said he left the key in its ignition. South Korean marines detected the boat on two radar devices on Yeonpyeong Island at 10:46 p.m. when it was about 0.6 nautical miles south of the NLL, the military said. The boat crossed the border at 10:49 p.m. At 10:51 p.m., the marines ordered a high-speed boat to chase the defector. At 10:54 p.m., the speed boat departed from Yeonpyeong. It failed to find the defector’s boat. The military said it has only two radar units on Yeonpyeong, but they monitor the northern regions of the island, not the southern region, which was where the boat was stolen. They couldn’t detect Lee until he had almost reached the border. The military and police launched a joint investigation into whether Lee was a double agent all along sent to the South to spy. According to the Unification Ministry, Lee defected to the South on March 21, 2007 via China. He worked as a fisherman in Pohang, a coastal city in North Gyeongsang, until he came to Yeonpyeong Island on February 27 to look for a job as a fisherman. The ministry said Lee told one of his friends in Pohang on February 24 that he would “attend a wedding ceremony” and went to Seoul. At the time, tensions were rising in the aftermath of North Korea’s third nuclear test. But the Unification Ministry said it is not illegal for a North Korean defector to travel anywhere in the country, including a frontline island. “After they finished their mandatory education in the Hanawon resettlement center, there is no legal problem for them to go anywhere,” a Unification Ministry official said. “Still, they should report their travel to the government and Lee apparently violated this rule. (Chang Se-jeong and Kim Hee-jin, “Defector Sails Home across the NLL,” JoongAng Ilbo, April 5, 2013)


4/4/13:
Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) spokesman: “The south Korean puppet group is now openly talking about ‘regrettable thing’ and ‘promotion of normalization’over the measure taken by the DPRK’s army of banning the entry into and exist out of the Kaesong Industrial Zone by the south Korean personnel. It is even making such invectives as the ‘emergence of massive confinement’ and ‘measure for rescuing hostages,’ aggravating the situation. Puppet Minister of Defense of south Korea Kim Kwan Jin, die-hard warmonger, and other military gangsters seek to ignite a war at any cost, talking about ‘military operation for rescuing hostages.’ Kim Kwan Jin’s outburst revealed the intention of the puppet regime to cripple the Kaesong Industrial Zone, product of the June 15 era. The group had a room chief of the puppet National Defense Institute make appearance on TV let loose coarse invectives slandering the social system and the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK despite its stern warning. This is an unpardonable heinous provocation against the DPRK.The Kaesong Industrial Zone has been maintained despite the present north-south relations that are put in the state of a war. This was attributable to the DPRK’s magnanimity by which it took into consideration south Korean small businesses and people who subsist on the Zone. The south Korean puppet group, in denial of this stark fact, even plans ‘military operation for rescuing hostages,’ not content with insulting the dignity of the DPRK. This clearly proves that the group is trying to use the Kaesong Industrial Zone as a fuse for provoking a war of aggression against the DPRK. It is none other than the group which holds south Korean personnel in the Zone as hostages for a war of aggression against the DPRK. With no rhetoric can the group evade the responsibility for having created such a grim situation as today. The group should know that there is limit to the magnanimity of the DPRK. It had better control its mouth, mindful that the Zone is less than 40 km from Seoul. It has not yet come to its senses and is still asserting that the DPRK’s measure of prohibition will not last long. But this is foolish ambition. As the puppet forces are abusing the Zone as leverage for escalating confrontation with fellow countrymen, the shutdown of the Zone has become imminent. If the south Korean puppet group and conservative media keep vociferating about the Zone, we will take a resolute measure of withdrawing all our personnel from the Zone. The group should clearly understand that the fate of the Kaesong Industrial Zone is on the verge of bankruptcy.” (KCNA, “CPRK Spokesman Slams S. Korean Group for Vociferatring about Kaesong Industrial Complex,” April 4, 2013)

North Korea threatened to close a joint industrial park in Kaesong one day after it barred South Koreans’ entry, fueling concerns about their possible detention. Pyongyang’s official media said its Wednesday decision resulted from Seoul’s conservative politicians and news outlets “speaking nonsense that we would not be able to do anything with the Gaeseong Industrial Complex.” “Military provocations against the complex mean a self-destruction of the traitor forces,” a spokesman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a report from KCNA. “The industrial district’s closure is nearing reality under the current condition with the puppet forces abusing it as a venue for fratricidal confrontation.” Propaganda website Uriminzokkiri TV claimed that the regime has refrained from shutting down the complex so that South Korean businesses and employees would not lose their livelihoods. “It is not us but the South Korean puppet forces and petty firms who benefit from the joint factory zone,” it said. “If the puppet forces continue to churn out remarks hurting our dignity, the grave step of a lockout will be taken immediately.” The reports are apparently aimed at dismissing a widespread view in the South that the communist regime would not permanently close the Kaesong complex, which is a major source of hard currency. With some 800 countrymen remaining in the North, the government is striving to ensure their safety, activating its emergency round-the-clock contact system and some 1,300 civilian communication lines. Even in the 2009 incident, a Hyundai Asan Corp. employee was detained for 136 days. Cheong Wa Dae’s national security office convenes a meeting every morning to discuss the situation with presidential secretaries on foreign affairs and security, unification and crisis management, spokeswoman Kim Haing said. Earlier in the day, more than 520 officials and workers gathered in Paju, Gyeonggi Province, hoping to cross the border but were turned back again. Around 220 people are expected to come home throughout the day for the weekend. Pyongyang has requested some firms at Gaeseong to submit their lists of remaining workers who plan to return to the South by April 10, the Unification Ministry said. Concerned about any manufacturing delays and subsequent revenue shortfalls, many executives and workers are postponing their departure and asking for more time. “People inside are anxious because the situation is more serious than usual,” a 37-year-old female surnamed Kwon told reporters as she arrived at the Gyeongui Highway Transit Office in the border city. “It’s been all right so far because all companies have food materials good for one week. But there will be a huge problem if this situation drags on.” Industry organizations issued a statement and urged the North to lift the entry ban, saying the complex “must maintain normal production activities in all circumstances.” “A couple of factories have suspended operations because of a lack of gas supplies,” said Kim Ki-mun, chairman of the Korea Federation of Small and Medium Businesses, at a news conference in Paju. “We’re extending our stay to work as long as we can while monitoring the situation, and hoping the problem will be positively resolved.” (Shin Hyon-hee, “N.K. Threatens to Shut down Kaesong Complex,” Korea Herald, April 4, 2013)

Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said that North Korea has moved an intermediate-range missile to its east coast for an imminent test firing or military drill, but it does not seem to be aimed at striking the U.S. mainland. In a parliamentary defense committee meeting, Kim refuted media reports that Pyongyang has moved a KN-08 missile, which is believed to have a range of 10,000 kilometers, into position to strike the U.S. Without specifying the type of missile, Kim said it is believed to be able to reach a “considerable distance,” though it is not able to strike the U.S. mainland. “The missile does not seem to be aimed at the U.S. mainland,” Kim told lawmakers. “It could be aimed at test firing or military drills.” According to intelligence analysis by South Korean and U.S. forces, it is believed to be a Musudan missile, which is estimated to have a range of 3,000-4,000 km, putting the U.S. base in Guam within striking. (Kim Eun-jung, “Defense Chief Says North’s Missile Movement Not Aimed at U.S. Mainland,” Yonhap, April 4, 2013) North Korea has loaded two intermediate-range missiles onto mobile launchers and hidden them in an unidentified facility near the east coast, Seoul military sources said Friday, triggering speculation that the North is ready for an abrupt missile launch. “Early this week, the North has moved two Musudan missiles on the train and placed them on mobile launchers,” a senior military official familiar with the knowledge of the matter said. The North’s concealing the missiles atop the mobile launcher platform is seen as an attempt to launch missiles in a surprise move, the official said, noting it was not clear whether the move is for a test firing or military drills. The isolated communist nation has not yet conducted a test firing of the Musudan missile, which was first revealed to the international community in October 2010 during a military parade in Pyongyang.

(Kim Eun-jung, “N. Korea Loads Two Medium-Range Missiles on Mobile Launchers,” Yonhap. April 5, 2013)

The tense situation on the Korean Peninsula is drawing major attention from the international media, with some raising the possibility of a military clash between North and South. The situation now could be enough to push Washington into taking steps toward dialogue with Pyongyang. But it has not shown any signs of doing so yet. The US government certainly is acutely aware of the need for dialogue to make a breakthrough in relieving the tensions. A senior diplomatic source said there was “growing concern” in Washington about the possibility of a clash erupting. So why has Washington be so reluctant to take action? Part of this is due to the awkwardness of taking action amid an ongoing offensive from Pyongyang, but analysts also attributed it to a kind the aftereffect of failed negotiations with North Korea in the past. “You don’t see anyone [in Washington] willing to take the initiative in dialogue with Pyongyang,” said a diplomatic source. “I think that after the February 29 agreement [in 2012] fell through after just 16 days, there’s more of a sense that you’ll only get hurt by leading the push for negotiations.” Indeed, some have seen the 2009 departure of Christopher Hill, a leading proponent of negotiations who spearheaded the six-party talks as Assistant Secretary of State during the George W. Bush administration, as a “resignation in disgrace” after failing at dialogue with North Korea. Also adding to Washington’s reluctance is its increased emphasis on China’s role since last year. The idea is that Beijing should cooperate in using its considerable diplomatic and economic influence over North Korea to induce changes there. The problem is that China has different strategic objectives. While there have been signs of change since late last year, there is little possibility of Beijing significantly reorienting its North Korea policy over a short time. A diplomatic source noted that China was angry enough about North Korea rejecting its calls not to launch a long-range rocket last December that it agreed on a UN Security Council resolution sanctioning the country, but added, “We have no way of knowing how rigorously China plans to enforce the sanctions.” This provides some explanation for Kerry’s recent call for South Korea to take action in improving inter-Korean relations. A senior diplomatic source called it “actually very significant” that Kerry said improved relations would be “helpful” in achieving the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, without mentioning a role for the US in improving relations with North Korea. “I think his idea is that it would also benefit the US if things improved between North and South Korea first,” the source said. (Park Hyun, “The Chances of Dialogue between N. Korea and the U.S.,” Hankyore, April 4, 2013)

After years of largely ignoring threats from North Korea, some residents say they are becoming a bit jittery, with the ascension of an unpredictable young leader in Pyongyang and levels of hostile rhetoric not seen since the early 1990s. Coffee shops here are still packed, and pop music pulses from storefronts, but South Koreans’ concerns are palpable in quieter moments. Their phones buzz with news updates on the North’s latest moves — its declaration of war; its announcement of plans to restart key nuclear facilities; its barricade of a joint industrial complex near the border. Children ask their parents what would happen if fighting broke out and where they would go for safety. Today, the fear spread to South Korea’s stock market, which suffered its biggest daily fall of the year. Rather than play down the possibility of an attack, South Korean officials in recent days have emphasized their ability to strike back promptly. They have also welcomed recent U.S. shows of force in the region. South Koreans differ in their views of their increasingly belligerent northern neighbor. Some speak with confidence, saying the North’s near-daily threats are part of a coherent plan to force negotiations, not spark war. But others fear that the North’s new leader, Kim Jong Un, might push things too far, perhaps because he thinks he needs a major conflict to coalesce domestic support. That divergence is reflected in public opinion polls. Over the past two months, the percentage of South Koreans who say the North is their top concern has more than tripled. Still, that represents just 26 percent of respondents; more South Koreans care about job creation than about Pyongyang. Even the segment that is concerned about the North is far from panicking. During a crisis 20 years ago sparked by North Korea’s announced intent to withdraw from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, some in South Korea rushed to stock up on canned goods and water. This time, ­grocery-store shelves remain full. Over the past several decades, Park said, South Koreans have been “gradually immunized” against the North’s threats. And for all the North’s recent bluster, nothing it has done lately compares with the galling attacks of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, which included hacking to death two U.S. troops in the demilitarized zone, numerous assassination attempts against South Korean presidents and the midair sabotage of a South Korean passenger plane. After a fatal attack by the North in November 2010, South Koreans were at least as angry with their own government as they were with Pyongyang. When the North shelled a front-line island, killing two soldiers and two civilians, the South responded by lobbing 80 shells toward the North. Then-President Lee Myung-bak was criticized for not taking more serious action, leading to his pledge — reiterated by the current president, Park Geun-hye — to counter with greater force if provoked again. One lingering concern, voiced by a minority of South Koreans, is whether the United States can act as a sufficient deterrent to the North at a time of defense budget cuts in Washington and major crises in the Middle East. The United States has tried to assuage those worries, and deter the North, by flying the stealth bombers over the peninsula and speeding up the deployment of a missile-­defense system to Guam. South Korean analysts say they are most concerned about how either side can step back from the possibility of a confrontation over the next few months. The Obama administration has shown little interest in talking directly with the North, and the North is seen as having little interest in toning down its rhetoric — unless it can win some kind of concession. “If the U.S. doesn’t want to engage, that pushes North Korea even further” to provoke, said Kim Dong-sik, a researcher at the Institute for National Security Strategy in Seoul. “I don’t know how that scenario ends.” (Chico Harlan, “As N. Korean Threats Intensify, First Signs of Jitters in the South,” Washington Post, April 5, 2013, p. A-1)


4/5/13:
North Korea has asked all embassies in Pyongyang to move out staff for their security amid sharp military tensions, but the United States said Friday it has no plans yet to take extraordinary steps with regard to Americans in the communist nation. The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang serves as interim protecting power for the U.S. and provides basic consular services to American citizens. “We have been in touch with the Swedes, our protecting power in the DPRK, because obviously if they were to change their status, we would have to inform American citizens in the DPRK,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, briefing reporters. “At this point, we have no reason to believe that they will make any changes.” She said she has no exact number of U.S. people staying in the North, adding the majority of Americans there are nongovernmental organization workers and occasional tourists. (Yonhap, “N.Korea Asks Foreign Officials to Leave Pyongyang,” Korea Herald, April 6, 2013)

North Korea’s torrent of threats — and the matching show of military power and political resolve from the United States and South Korea — began showing signs of unsettling foreign investors’ confidence. The development magnified the challenges Seoul and Washington face. The two powers are trying to show the North’s novice leader, Kim Jong-un, that they will not be blackmailed by his bluff and bluster. But at the same time, they do not want to escalate the tensions to an extent that they hurt the South Korean economy, the pride of the local population, or President Park Geun-hye’s political standing at home. “In the past, North Korea-related events had little impact or the markets recovered quickly,” the South’s vice finance minister, Choo Kyung-ho, told a meeting of top finance officials today. “But recent threats from North Korea are stronger and the impact may therefore not disappear quickly.” His comment came hours after the chief executive of General Motors, Dan Akerson, underscored the increased concern by saying that his company was making contingency plans for employee safety at its South Korean plants and that further increases in tensions would prompt G.M. to look at moving production elsewhere. In an interview with CNBC television, he said, “If there were something to happen in Korea, it’s going to affect our entire industry, not just General Motors.” South Korean stocks slumped 1.64 percent Friday in a selling spree among foreign investors that analysts attributed to jitters over North Korea. The South Korean won also sank against the U.S. dollar. “The North Koreans are now using the propaganda in an extreme form to try to damage foreign direct investments into South Korea,” said Tom Coyner, a member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea and author of “Doing Business in Korea.” “They are, in a sense at this point, winning in an asymmetrical psychological warfare, attacking the economic strength of South Korea.” War cries from North Korea have been factored into the stock market for decades. Still, its threats have grown in their intensity and frequency since the country upheld Kim as its top leader in late 2011, and especially after the United Nations imposed sanctions against the North following its nuclear test in February. The sanctions took direct aim at North Korea’s Achilles’ heel by focusing on cash transfers and luxury items, which the Kim regime uses to buy the loyalty of the elite. Also making this situation different was the way Washington and Seoul responded. South Korea matched the tone by declaring that if provoked, it would target the North Korean military leadership and by revising the rules of engagement to let its military respond more swiftly, forcefully and “without political consideration.” Meanwhile, the United States flew nuclear-capable bombers over the peninsula on training sorties and signed an agreement with Seoul to respond jointly to any North Korean provocation. “The relentless show of force on a daily basis by not just North Korea, but also the U.S. and South Korea as part of their annual military exercises, has captured the attention of the world, and made the Korean Peninsula a place associated not with ‘Gangnam Style’ but with nuclear weapons and stealth bombers,” said John Delury, an American scholar who teaches at Yonsei University in Seoul. “Markets hate risk, even if it is the perception, rather than reality of risk,” he added. “This poses a serious challenge to President Park, who was elected on the basis of promises to keep growing the South Korean economy and improve relations with the North.” Officials said that the military tensions had so far had only limited effects on the markets. But for the South Korean economy, the North Korean imbroglio is an additional drag at an inopportune time. In the face of the weakening Japanese yen, which hurts South Korean exporters, South Korea recently announced a sharp cut in growth forecasts. Officials vowed to ensure stability if the situation got worse. An important test is whether North Korea will go so far as to close down a joint industrial park in the North Korean town of Kaesong. The complex, where South Korean factories use low-cost North Korean labor, is a major source of hard currency for Pyongyang and stands as the last major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation. Seoul officials have cited the project when they wanted to show foreign investors that North Korean harsh rhetoric is not always matched by action. In a “Global Political Insights” report Friday, Citi Research said that “barring an outbreak of wide-scale military conflict, we think North Korean brinksmanship will not impact the South Korean economic fundamentals.” In a report earlier this week, Thomas J. Byrne and Steffen Dyck at Moody’s Investors Service expressed similar views but also mentioned “a heightened risk of military adventurism or miscalculation by the 30-something Kim Jong-un.” Lee Beom-ho, an analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp., said that markets had traditionally tended to dismiss North Korean brinkmanship. But this time, “the targets of North Korean threat have expanded and the international community has become more sensitive,” he said, referring to the North’s growing nuclear and missile capabilities and American plans to deploy more interceptor missiles to the region. “At the same time, there is doubt over the abilities of those who are supposed to deter North Korea, especially China.” In a sign of how accustomed South Korea has grown to the security provided by the military alliance with the United States, people in South Korea have shown few signs of agitation in recent weeks, even as North Korea has been bombarding their country almost daily with apocalyptic threats of “final destruction.” South Koreans remain more sensitive about foreign investors’ moves. During a previous North Korean nuclear crisis in 1994, the market proved resilient when a videotaped threat by a North Korean official to turn Seoul into “a sea of fire” was leaked to the media. But later that year, when Washington drew up plans to evacuate Americans from South Korea before a planned surgical strike at the North Korean nuclear facilities, South Koreans rushed to supermarkets, hoarding goods, and the stock market took a dive. Officials and analysts in South Korea suspect that North Korea, no longer able to fight a conventional war or even start a major skirmish with the South without suffering a humiliating strike-back, was increasingly resorting to other forms of warfare, like hacking South Korean banks and broadcasters. “Most people say they are used to a lot of blustering and posturing by North Korea and we should not take it too seriously,” Mr. Coyner said. “But it needs to be taken seriously in the sense that it is already proving to be effective where foreign multinationals are looking at political risk contingency option.” (Choe Sang-hun, “Tensions with North Unsettle South Korean Economy,” New York Times, April 5, 2013)

Tokyo and Washington agreed on a road map for the reversion of five U.S. military sites in Okinawa, pledging to accelerate the handover of Camp Zukeran, the Makiminato Service Area, Camp Kuwae, the army port in Naha and Kuwae Tank Farm No. 1. The two sides also assented to transfer the operations, in fiscal 2022 or later, of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the heavily populated city of Ginowan to an airstrip to be built in the Henoko coastal area in the city of Nago, farther north on Okinawa Island, once the replacement site is operational. By showing Okinawans concrete schedules and plans for the return and redevelopment of the five sites, all situated south of U.S. Kadena Air Base, the central government apparently hopes to resurrect the plan to replace the Futenma base within the prefecture, a move already stymied for 17 years by local opposition. “We were able to reach an agreement on plans to return (facilities and land now used by the U.S. military) south of the Kadena Air Base. It was (an) extremely meaningful (agreement) to lessen the burden on Okinawa,” Prime Minister Abe told reporters, adding the accord demonstrates to the world that the mutual trust between Japan and the U.S. is on solid ground amid an “increasingly severe national security environment.” According to the plan, however, four of the five complexes will be returned only after alternative sites are secured within existing U.S. military facilities in Okinawa or a large number of the U.S. Marines in the prefecture are redeployed overseas. The new plan divides the five military sites south of Kadena into 13 smaller areas, each with different reversion timetables. In the earliest return, part of the Makiminato Service Area will be handed over to Japan this fiscal year or later. Seven of the sites, including Kuwae Tank Farm No.1, will be closed and their operations re-established elsewhere in Okinawa as early as fiscal 2022. Two areas will be returned in fiscal 2024 or later after marine contingents redeploy overseas. The U.S. and Japan will review how the plan progresses every three years. The timelines may change depending on the progress, a Defense Ministry official said. The plan’s future is thus cloaked in uncertainty, given the fervent antimilitary sentiment of Okinawa residents, who oppose construction of any new U.S. forces installations. The prefecture has meanwhile demanded the early reversion of all five sites, saying redevelopment of these areas would greatly benefit the local economy. Abe and U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos signed the new agreement. Japan and the United States in 2006 agreed to replace the Futenma air station by 2014, but due to persistent local opposition they were forced to abandon this deadline in 2011 and amend the wording of the pact to read: “at the earliest possible date.”The two countries had agreed on the return of the five sites south of Kadena as well, but since that deal was packaged with the contentious Futenma replacement, it meant they would revert to Japan’s control only after the new airstrip was built at Henoko. Last April, Tokyo and Washington agreed to delink Futenma’s replacement and the reversion of the five other sites. (Aoki Mizuho and Yoshida Reiji, “Okinawa U.S. Land Return Plan Linked,” Japan Times, April 5, 2013) Protest banners, raised fists and angry shouts greeted Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera after he landed in Okinawa Prefecture on April 6. Residents made sure Japan’s defense chief knew how they felt about a Japan-U.S. agreement announced the previous day on the return of land now used by six U.S. military facilities to the south of Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture. They said the agreement does not specify any time frame for the return of the land and appears intended to keep the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within the prefecture. “Listen to the voice of the Okinawa people,” the protesters shouted ahead of Onodera’s meeting with Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima in Naha. The 120 protesters included Diet members, citizens and prefectural assembly members angry and frustrated over the lack of progress in removing U.S. military bases from the prefecture. The demonstrators called for the unconditional return of land used by the Futenma air station and argued against the planned relocation of the base to the Henoko area of Nago, also in Okinawa. (Asahi Shimbun, “Okinawans Blast Vague Plan to Return Land Used by U.S. Military,” April 6, 2013)

Hecker: “Q. How concerned should we be about North Korea’s announcement that it will restart all its nuclear facilities? Does this fundamentally change the threat imposed by Pyongyang? Hecker: It does not immediately change the threat, but it really complicates the long-term picture. This announcement indicates that North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is severely limited by a lack of fissile materials — plutonium or highly enriched uranium (HEU) — to fuel its bombs. Despite its recent threats, North Korea does not yet have much of a nuclear arsenal because it lacks fissile materials and has limited nuclear testing experience. In the long term, it’s important to keep it that way; otherwise North Korea will pose a much more serious threat. So, it is important that they don’t produce more fissile materials and don’t conduct more nuclear tests. The Kim Jong-un regime has already threatened to conduct more tests, and with this announcement they are telling the world that they are going to make more bomb fuel. I should add that they also need more bomb fuel to conduct more nuclear tests. … Q. What do you make of the previous threats to launch an all-out nuclear war against the United States and South Korea? Does North Korea have the technical means to do so? Hecker: I don’t believe North Korea has the capacity to attack the United States with nuclear weapons mounted on missiles and won’t for many years. Its ability to target and strike South Korea is also very limited. And even if Pyongyang had the technical means, why would the regime want to launch a nuclear attack when it fully knows that any use of nuclear weapons would result in a devastating military response and would spell the end of the regime? Nevertheless, this is an uneasy situation with a potential for miscalculations from a young and untested leader. Q. Could you explain what you see as North Korea’s capabilities in regard to putting nuclear warheads on short-, medium-, and long-range missiles? Hecker: North Korea has conducted only three nuclear tests. The 2006 test was partially successful; the 2009 and 2013 tests likely were fully successful. With so few tests, the North Korean ability to miniaturize nuclear warheads to fit on its missiles is severely limited. After the first two tests, I did not believe North Korea had sufficient test experience to miniaturize a nuclear warhead to fit on any of its missiles. I believed the nuclear devices tested were likely primitive — on the order of the Nagasaki device, which weighed roughly 5,000 kilograms. Official North Korea news outlets implied they were more advanced, and some Western analysts agreed. I stated that they needed additional nuclear tests to miniaturize.Q. After the test on February 13, Pyongyang announced that it had successfully tested a smaller and lighter nuclear device. North Korean news media also specifically stated that this was unlike the first two, confirming that the earlier tests involved primitive devices. The Kim Jong-un regime followed the claim of having smaller and lighter warheads with threats of launching nuclear-tipped missiles against the United States and South Korea. Hecker: My colleague Nick Hansen and I do not believe that the North Koreans have the capability to miniaturize a warhead to fit on a long-range missile that can reach the United States because the weight and size limits are prohibitive for them. They have insufficient nuclear test experience. Although last December they were able to launch a satellite into space, it is much more difficult to develop a warhead, fit it into a reentry body, and have it survive the enormous mechanical and thermal stresses of reentry on its way to a target. In April 2012, Pyongyang paraded a road-mobile long-range missile we call the KN-08. It may have been designed to reach as far as Alaska and the US West Coast, but to our knowledge it has never been test fired. There is some evidence that the first-stage engine may have been tested last year and early this year at the Sohae (Tongchang) launch site on North Korea’s West Coast. North Korea would need a lot more missile tests as well as more nuclear tests to present a serious long-range threat. Q. What about what medium-range and short-range missiles — ones that could reach South Korea or Japan? Hecker: A road-mobile, intermediate-range ballistic missile we call the Musudan was apparently paraded in Pyongyang in 2007 and again in October 2010, when photos were actually released by official North Korean news media. The Musudan is believed to have a range of about 3,000 kilometers, meaning it could reach all of South Korea and Japan and come close to reaching Guam. As far as we know, this missile has also never been test fired. Western and South Korean news media reported that some of these missiles have apparently recently been moved to the Tonghae (Musudan) launch site on the East Coast and that North Korea may be preparing for test launches. However, overhead imagery from April 4 shows very little activity at the launch site, and we consider it unlikely that any kind of launch was planned for at least the next week. It is possible that North Korea may instead move these road-mobile missiles to the training base at Kittaeryong, several hundred kilometers to the south. This base has been used to launch most of the Scud and Nodong tactical missiles. In any case, for now the threat from medium-range missiles is also low. The situation is not so clear for the short-range missiles that can reach South Korea and parts of Japan. The North Koreans are believed to have close to 1,000 short-range missiles, such as the KN-02, a version of the Soviet SS-21; various versions of the Soviet Scud; and the Nodong. These can reach distances from 70 to 1,000 kilometers with payloads ranging from 500 to 1,000 kilograms. But we know little about the sophistication of North Korea’s warheads. They likely made some progress toward miniaturization with the third test, but we don’t even know whether or not they switched from plutonium, which we believe they used for the first two tests, to a highly enriched uranium (HEU) device for the third test. However, thanks to Pakistan’s A. Q. Khan, the North Koreans almost certainly have HEU designs for such a device that could fit on some of their short-range missiles. The reliability and accuracy of all but North Korea’s shortest-range missiles is questionable. Without a serious testing program with instrumented dummy warheads and a more extensive nuclear testing program, it does not make much sense to consider launching a nuclear-tipped missile that could blow up in your own backyard. Q. So, in your opinion, is the US placement of additional missile-defense systems in the region a reasonable response, or an over-reaction? Hecker: In spite of the fact that we consider North Korea’s capability to field any nuclear-tipped missile low, we simply don’t know for sure. We also consider the likelihood that Pyongyang would decide to launch such a missile very low, because the launch would bring a devastating military response from the combined US and South Korean forces and spell an end to the Kim regime. Nevertheless, we have been surprised before by North Korea’s capabilities, and we simply cannot rule out a miscalculation on the part of the new, inexperienced leader. Therefore, we consider it prudent to prepare missile-defense capabilities, both for Northeast Asia and for the United States. It is also important to try to head off North Korea’s drive toward more and better bombs and better delivery capabilities. If we don’t, the risk will increase. Q. If North Korea launches a missile from its East Coast in the general direction of Japan, will US radar and tracking systems be able to tell quickly whether the missile is a test aimed into the ocean or an attack on (say) Japan? In other words, would the prudent response to such a launch be to try to shoot down the missile, regardless? Hecker: The radars on shore in Japan and on US and Japanese ships could quickly determine if a missile is headed to targets in Japan or South Korea, or to the open sea. In the recent past, Pyongyang has given notice when it was about to launch a missile that is expected to leave its territory. Hansen and I would expect the North Korean government to do the same this time. If it does, we don’t think it would be prudent to intercept it, because tensions in the area are so high. However, if the North Koreans don’t give notice, we favor shooting it down. Q. The Kim Jong-un regime has reiterated and apparently put into law that North Korea will not give up its nuclear arsenal. Does the current announcement really make things that much worse? Hecker: I have previously stated that North Korea has the bomb, but not yet much of an arsenal. It has been clear for some time that North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons, so what we should have focused on is to make sure things don’t get worse. I have stated it as the three noes: no more bombs, no better bombs, and no export. We don’t know much about North Korea’s nuclear exports, but that potential is a serious concern. Pyongyang took a step toward better bombs with its successful February 12 nuclear test, although it still has little test experience. The current announcement demonstrates that [the North Koreans] will now redouble efforts to get more bombs by increasing their capacity to make plutonium and HEU. It won’t happen quickly because these are time-consuming efforts — but it bodes ill for the future. Q. Let’s look at the technical issues of the latest announcement. What do you think Pyongyang means by “readjusting and restarting all the nuclear facilities in Yongbyon?” Hecker: The restarting is easy to decipher: They plan to take the 5-megawatt-electric (MWe), gas-graphite plutonium production reactor out of mothballs and bring the plutonium reprocessing facility back into operation. The “readjusting” comment is less clear. It may mean that they will reconfigure the uranium enrichment facility they showed to John Lewis, Bob Carlin, and me in 2010 from making low-enriched uranium (LEU at 3 to 5 percent for reactor fuel) to making highly enriched uranium (HEU at 90 percent for bomb fuel). Q. Was the new centrifuge facility you saw in 2010 making LEU? Hecker: Actually, we could not confirm that uranium enrichment centrifuge facility was operating, or that it was making LEU reactor fuel. However, that is what they told us — and in my opinion, they likely have produced, if any fuel, only LEU for their experimental light water reactor (LWR) at that facility since then. So, this announcement may mean that they will now redirect that facility to making HEU. Q. How difficult would it be for North Korea to adjust its centrifuge facility to make HEU? And how much HEU could they make? Hecker: Not very difficult. It just requires reconfiguration of the various centrifuge cascades and adjusting operational procedures. That could be done very rapidly. They most likely had everything prepared in case they ever wanted to make this move. If they reconfigure, then based on our estimates, they could make roughly 40 kilograms of HEU annually in that facility — that’s enough for one or two HEU bombs per year. Q. The announcement by North Korea’s state news agency said the North Koreans would develop a self-reliant nuclear power industry as well. Don’t they need the centrifuge facility to make LEU to do that? Hecker: Yes, they need LEU for the experimental LWR reactor fuel. However, based on what they told us in 2010, they had the capacity to make about 2 tons of LEU annually in the centrifuge facility. If they have operated it full-time since we were there, they may have enough fuel to operate the experimental LWR for several years. If that is the case, then they could afford to reconfigure the centrifuge plant now for HEU. The North Koreans will eventually need a much bigger centrifuge facility than the 2,000 centrifuges we saw, if they follow through with larger LWRs that can make sufficient electricity to help alleviate their power shortages. In any case, such reactors are still more than a decade away. Q. Didn’t you previously claim that they likely have another centrifuge facility? Hecker: On the basis of what I saw in November 2010, I concluded they must have a covert centrifuge facility (or facilities) and that it had likely been operational for years. That experience allowed them to build the Yongbyon facility as rapidly as they did, which was in a little more than one year. I also concluded they likely had previously produced HEU at a clandestine facility. Q. If they have already produced HEU at an alternate facility, then why would they need to “readjust” the Yongbyon facility? Hecker: That’s not clear. I believed that the covert facilities were likely limited in enrichment capacity because they still need to import key materials and components. So, they may simply have decided that they need increased capacity to make HEU quickly, and the simplest way to get that was to reconfigure the Yongbyon facility from LEU to HEU. Q. Is there any indication that they actually have an HEU bomb? Hecker: We really don’t know. To the best of our knowledge, the first two nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009, used plutonium for the bomb fuel. We do not know what was used in the most recent test on February 12. It could have been either HEU or plutonium. It would not surprise me if they have been pursuing both paths to the bomb; that’s what the United States did during the Manhattan Project. Q. What did you learn about the 5-MWe reactor during your November 2010 visit to Yongbyon? Will they really be able to restart it? Hecker: Lewis, Carlin, and I were shown the beginning of the construction of the small experimental light water reactor. The containment structure was just going up. I pointed to the 5-MWe reactor right next door and asked the chief engineer of the reactor, “What about the 5-MWe gas-graphite reactor?” He replied: “We have it in standby mode.” I told him that people in the West claim it is beyond hope to restart. He chuckled and said, “Yes, I know, that’s what they also said in 2003, and they were wrong then as well.” The reactor had been mothballed since 1994 as part of the Agreed Framework. The North Koreans restarted it in 2003 without much of a problem and ran two more campaigns to make plutonium. Q. Will we know when they restart the reactor? Hecker: Yes, using satellite imagery we should be able to see the steam plume from the cooling tower as soon as they rebuild and restart it.” (Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, “Interview with Siegfried Hecker: North Korea Complicates the Long-Term Picture,” April 5, 2103)


4/6/13:
The Obama administration, detecting what it sees as a shift in decades of Chinese support for North Korea, is pressuring China’s new president, Xi Jinping, to crack down on the regime in Pyongyang or face a heightened American military presence in its region. In a flurry of exchanges that included a recent phone call from President Obama to Xi, administration officials said, they have briefed the Chinese in detail about American plans to upgrade missile defenses and other steps to deter the increasingly belligerent threats made by North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong-un. China, which has been deeply suspicious of the American desire to reassert itself in Asia, has not protested publicly or privately as the United States has deployed ships and warplanes to the Korean Peninsula. That silence, American officials say, attests to both Beijing’s mounting frustration with the North and the recognition that its reflexive support for Pyongyang could strain its ties with Washington. “The timing of this is important,” Tom Donilon, Obama’s national security adviser, said in an interview. “It will be an important early exercise between the United States and China, early in the term of Xi Jinping and early in the second term of President Obama.” The White House said it was encouraged by how swiftly China had supported the sanctions, which followed a North Korean nuclear test and a missile launch. But some diplomats and analysts say China has dragged its feet in enforcing them. In a meeting with two senior American officials who traveled to Beijing two weeks ago to try to persuade China to enforce new banking restrictions on North Korea, Chinese banking leaders showed little sign of compliance, said Marcus Noland, an expert on North Korea at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “But I wouldn’t expect them publicize it,” even if they did move ahead, Noland added. Many analysts say the sanctions cannot succeed without China’s cooperation, since it has close trade ties with North Korea and has in the past chosen to keep its government afloat by providing fuel and significant aid. China continues to say economic sanctions will not work. A Chinese diplomat who is involved in policy on North Korea said recently that he thought China would enforce the new United Nations sanctions to a point but would not go as far as the Obama administration wanted. Last month, Xi spoke by phone with the new president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, telling Park how much China prized its ties with South Korea and offering China’s assistance in the “reconciliation and cooperation” of the two Koreas. Such sentiments, analysts said, would have been inconceivable from President Hu. By contrast, there has been little high-level contact between Kim and Chinese officials, which American officials cited as evidence of growing irritation on the part of the Chinese. “What we have seen is a subtle change in Chinese thinking,” Kurt M. Campbell, a former assistant secretary of state for East Asian affairs, said in a speech Thursday at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. The Chinese now believe North Korea’s actions are “antithetical” to their national security interests, he said. That thinking has also surfaced in recent articles by Chinese scholars that have called into question China’s policy. Deng Yuwen, influential deputy editor of a Communist Party journal, wrote in the Financial Times,Beijing should give up on Pyongyang and press for the reunification of the Korean Peninsula.” And yet Deng has since been suspended from his job, which underscores how little China’s attitude has changed. (Mark Landler, “U.S. Sees China as Lever to Press North Korea,” New York Times, April 6, 2013, p. A-1)


4/7/13:
Responding to regional worries over North Korea’s bellicose threats, China expressed concern and what appeared to be veiled criticism of its long-time ally. “No one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains,” said President Xi Jinping at an economic forum in Hainan Province. Avoiding a mention of North Korea by name, Xi said, “While pursuing its own interests, a country should accommodate the legitimate interests of others.” Xi said that the international community and its collective scrutiny should act as a platform for common development rather than an “arena where gladiators fight each other.” China’s foreign ministry also issued a statement saying it was “seriously concerned” about the “continuously escalating tensions.” In even stronger language, China’s foreign minister called U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last night about the problem, according to China’s foreign ministry. Wang repeated China’s oft-stated position that issues with North Korea can only be solved through dialogue, but he also said China is opposed to “any provocative words and actions from any party in the region and does not allow troublemaking at the doorsteps of China.” (William Wan, “China Expresses Concern over North Korea’s Rhetoric,” Washington Post, April 7, 2013)

The US has delayed an intercontinental ballistic missile test to avoid stoking tensions with North Korea, as fears escalated that weeks of angry rhetoric could erupt into conflict on the Korean peninsula. A US defence official said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel postponed the Minuteman 3 test at Vandenberg Air Force Base until next month due to concerns it “might be misconstrued by some as suggesting that we were intending to exacerbate the current crisis with North Korea.” “We wanted to avoid that misperception or manipulation,” the US official told AFP. “We are committed to testing our ICBMs to ensure a safe, secure, effective nuclear arsenal.” British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Sunday he saw no immediate need to withdraw his country’s diplomats. Hague also told the BBC the North is showing no sign of gearing up for “all-out conflict” by repositioning its armed forces, and called for calm. The top national security adviser to South Korea’s President Park Geun-Hye said Sunday the warning was another ploy to force the South and the United States to reach out with face-saving concessions. “We believe the North is trying to turn the situation around by making the US send a special envoy, the South to offer dialogue and China or Russia to act as a mediator,” Kim Jang-Soo said. After non-stop escalation including the public deployment of US warships and planes to the region, the Pentagon move was a welcome measure to cool tensions, said Yang Moo-Jin from Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies. “The US military may have felt that now was the time to pace itself after weeks of hectic military confrontation,” he told AFP. “If the North really launches intermediate-range missiles as widely feared, the US may be partially blamed for having pushed it to take such drastic action by deploying extremely threatening weaponry near the Korean peninsula.” (Jung Ha-won, “U.S. Delays Missile Test to Cool N. Korea Tensions,” AFP, April 7, 2013)

As North Korea hints at new military provocations in the coming days, the United States and South Korea have drawn up plans to respond more forcefully than in the recent past, but in a limited way intended to prevent an escalation to broader war. A senior adviser to President Obama, Dan Pfeiffer, appearing on the ABC program “This Week,” played down the situation as “a pattern of behavior we’ve seen from the North Koreans many times.” Still, the escalating tensions were underscored today when the commander of U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula, Gen. James D. Thurman, abruptly canceled a trip to Washington for Congressional testimony and consultations. So did South Korea’s top commander. U.S. officials described the new “counterprovocation” plan as calling for an immediate but proportional “response in kind” — hitting the source of any North Korean attack with similar weapons. For example, if the North Koreans were to shell a South Korean island that had military installations, as has occurred in the past, the plan calls for the South to retaliate quickly with a barrage of artillery of similar intensity. South Korea’s national security director said today that the North this week might launch one of its new missiles. If so, Pentagon officials said they would be ready to calculate its trajectory within seconds and try to shoot it down if it appeared headed toward impact in South Korea, Japan or Guam, an American territory. But they planned to do nothing if it were headed toward open water, even if it went over Japan, as one previous North Korean test did. The officials doubted that the North’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, would risk aiming the missile at the United States or its allies. Obama, officials say, has ruled out striking at the missiles while they are on their launchers — when they are easiest to destroy — unless there is evidence they are being fitted with nuclear warheads, which intelligence officials doubt North Korea yet possesses. The key, then, is how to respond to anticipated North Korean hostilities while preventing the crisis from escalating. “How we carry out a proportional retaliation without triggering a general conflict, or an assault on Seoul, is the hardest part of the problem,” said Gary Samore, who served until recently as Obama’s top nuclear adviser and is now executive director of Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. “Everyone is aware there are not big margins for error here.” Some of the public language from the South Korean government suggests that Seoul and Washington may not agree on how far any retaliation should go, although the agreement between the two countries guarantees consultation. “Overreaction by South Korea is a real risk — and we’re working on that problem,” a senior administration official said. South Korea’s new president, Park Geun-hye, a daughter of a famed South Korean dictator from the cold war, has indicated that she might also go after the North’s command-and-control centers responsible for the provocation. In the past, classified addendums to the war plan for the Korean Peninsula have not been publicized. So it is notable that agreement on a new plan was publicly disclosed — both to deter the North and to reassure the population of the South. The nature of the response is critical. Ordering hostilities short of war in an effort to stage-manage the agenda with Seoul and Washington has been a major part of the playbook used by the past two generations of leaders in the North: rapid escalation of a crisis until the United States and South Korea buy temporary peace with aid or investments. But some American intelligence officials believe that Kim may have more to gain from striking out at his enemies — within reason — to bolster his credentials with his military, still deeply suspicious of his youth and inexperience. The absence of a clear understanding about when and how to use force on the peninsula reflects, in part, the rapid shifts over the past 20 years between hard-line South Korean governments and those advocating a “sunshine policy” of reaching out to the North. Park would be under extraordinary pressure to take action if the North acted out again. When the Cheonan, a South Korean warship, was sunk in March 2010, her predecessor decided not to strike back — and it took months to complete a study that concluded the explosion aboard the ship had been caused by a torpedo shot from a minisubmarine based just over the border in North Korea. Months later, the North shelled a lightly inhabited island in the South — and was met by delayed and ineffective return fire. “The new agreement defines action down to the tactical level and locks in alliance political consultations at the highest level,” an American official said. The official stressed that the South Korean military would take the lead in any response to hostilities from the North short of war. “North Korea has gotten away with murder — literally — for decades, and the South Korean and American forces have rarely responded with decisive military action,” said David S. Maxwell, a retired Army colonel who served five tours in South Korea. “It’s very important to break the cycle of provocation,” said Maxwell, now the associate director of the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University. “These responses have to be proportional. They have to be delivered decisively, at the time and at the point of provocation.” As part of prescheduled military exercises with South Korea, and to prove America’s commitment to regional security, the United States mounted an unusual, highly publicized show of force. It included the decision to use nuclear-capable B-2 bombers, which have a stealthy design to avoid detection, to conduct a mock bombing run in South Korea. At the same time, the Navy moved two missile defense ships into the area, both of which carry advanced radar and interceptor missiles. A ground-based system with a similar missile defense capability was ordered moved to Guam, two years ahead of schedule, to protect that territory and allow the two ships to patrol waters closer to the Korean Peninsula. A Pentagon official said today that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had postponed tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile that had been planned for this week, concerned that they might “exacerbate the crisis with North Korea.” The tests will be rescheduled. The additional American military presence is believed to be highly worrisome to Beijing, and it is intended to be. It is an effort to demonstrate to the Chinese that unless they get their ward under control, they will invite exactly the kind of American military presence in northeast Asia that they are hoping will go away. “There are some who question our long-term staying power in the Asia-Pacific region, especially in a time of spending constraints,” one American official said. “So it is important to show our allies that we can still project power in a very meaningful and rapid way.” But seen from a North Korean perspective, the Americans do not stand quite as tall as they once did. After three successive American presidents have said they could not tolerate a nuclear North Korea, they are tolerating it. Moreover, the South has made North Korean retaliation even easier. New housing developments sprawl north of Seoul, in areas the South Koreans had once planned to keep as a buffer zone — and well within range of more than 10,000 short-range artillery and rocket launchers deployed by the North. So far, the Obama administration has not tried to interfere with a North Korean long-range missile test, even though the North is prohibited from fielding these weapons by United Nations Security Council resolutions. But in the days leading up to a 2006 test launching of a North Korean missile, two prominent Democrats, William Perry, a former defense secretary, and Ashton B. Carter, a Harvard professor who is currently the deputy secretary of defense, wrote in The Washington Post that the Bush administration should destroy the missile on the North Korean launching pad. “Should the United States allow a country openly hostile to it and armed with nuclear weapons to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons to U.S. soil?” they wrote. “We believe not.” In any event, that missile blew up by itself, about 40 seconds after it was launched. (David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker, “U.S. Designs a Korea Response Proportional to the Provocation,” New York Times, April 8, 2013, A-1)


4/8/13:
North Korea said that it would pull out all of its workers from the inter-Korean industrial complex in its border city of Kaesong, jeopardizing the last remaining symbol of bilateral economic cooperation. Kim Yang-gon, the Workers’ Party’s secretary in charge of South Korean affairs, said the communist state would tentatively put operation at the complex on hold and consider whether or not to scrap it. “How the situation will develop in the future will entirely depend on the South Korean government’s attitude,” he said in a statement carried by KCNA. Kim made the comments after he inspected the complex and assigned its officials there “concrete tasks for being fully prepared to deal with any incident,” according to KCNA. During a parliamentary session, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said there was no need for negotiations with regard to the complex, claiming that if the North allowed the reentry of South Korean workers to the complex, the situation would simply “return to normalcy.” “The complex has been in existence for a decade as a symbol of inter-Korean coexistence and peace,” he said. “We should not let it be broken up due to unclear reasons.” Fourteen factories have suspended production so far due to a lack of food and production materials, and power and fuel supplies, according to the ministry. Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said another five plants are expected to follow suit within the day. “I just can’t understand why (North Korea) is pushing a project maintained by former leader Kim Jong-il into an abnormal condition,” Ryoo said at the National Assembly. “If the situation comes to this project being halted or all our workers completely pulling out, inter-Korean relations will greatly regress.” Ok Sung-suk, president of clothing firm Nine Mode and vice president of an association of companies running plants in the district, said nearly all remaining factories will be forced to freeze operations until Wednesday. “Workers bring with them a week’s worth of foodstuffs and other necessities when they go back up to Gaeseong after the weekend. The fact that they failed to enter today means their weeklong food load has run out,” Ok told reporters at the Dorasan Customs, Immigration and Quarantine office in Paju, Gyeonggi Province. “Though they have been rationing food and sharing with others since last Wednesday, this can hold up for only so long.” In addition to food, most factories are running short of raw materials and other industrial parts, as well as gas supplies that account for about 15 percent of the district’s energy sources. The North Korean workers are also having difficulty turning up at work because of a shortage of fuel for buses carrying them to and from Kaesong. A number of firms have already reported a reduction or cancellation of orders from their buyers in favor of a more stable contractor, Ok said.

Thirty-nine employees returned throughout the day, bringing down the number of South Koreans there to 475. Most of the remaining workers are executives and plant managers, he added. “We stopped operation because we ran out of raw materials. Production workers did not come to work, just managers and office workers,” said a 45-year-old employee of Doosung Tech Co., a chemical firm, upon his arrival at the CIQ office. “Before I left, North Korean employees and I told each other that we hoped the entry ban would be lifted soon.” (Song Sang-ho, Shin Hyon-hee and Lee Sang-ju, “N.K. Halts Kaesong Operations, Says It Will Withdraw Its Workers,” Korea Herald, April 8, 2013)

The Defense Ministry and Self-Defense Forces will permanently deploy surface-to-air Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile units in Okinawa Prefecture for the first time later this month to defend against a possible North Korean missile launch. The units will be deployed to the Air Self-Defense Force’s Naha Air Base and the Chinen Sub Base in Nanjo, government sources said. In April and December last year, the ministry and SDF deployed PAC-3 units to the two bases, as well as Ishigakijima and Miyakojima islands in the prefecture, to intercept a North Korean missile should it fall on Japanese land or in its territorial waters. At the time, Pyongyang claimed it had intended to put a satellite into orbit. The ministry and the SDF then began studying deploying PAC-3 units permanently in the prefecture to enhance reaction capability as a considerable preparation period is needed to transport the units by sea from the mainland. The units are expected to be deployed from existing units stationed at Hamamatsu Air Base in Hamamatsu, where training and education for air-defense units are conducted. A senior SDF official said the planned deployment is not a direct response to recent moves by North Korea. “Still, deploying [the PAC-3 units] permanently is expected to improve defense capabilities to intercept a missile in areas near the Nansei Islands [in Okinawa Prefecture],” the official said. (Yomiuri Shimbun, “PAC-3 Units to Be Based Permanently in Okinawa,” April 9, 2013)

Kim Yang Gon, secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, statement: “The Korean Peninsula has been put in the state of war due to the serious anti-DPRK moves of the U.S. and south Korean authorities and their moves for a nuclear war. Not content with escalating military tension together with the U.S., the south Korean conservatives, in particular, are running the whole gamut of intrigues to find a pretext for igniting a war against the DPRK after reducing the Kaesong Industrial Zone to a theatre of confrontation. Defying the repeated warnings of the DPRK, the south Korean confrontation maniacs are letting loose a string of invectives hurting the dignity of the DPRK, talking about “source of money”, “detention” and “hostages.” South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan Jin revealed his sinister intention to introduce a special unit of the U.S. forces into the zone, vociferating about an operation for “rescuing hostages.” This goes to prove that the south Korean warmongers seek to turn the zone into a hotbed of war against the DPRK. By origin, the zone was built as a symbol of reconciliation, cooperation and reunification after the DPRK granted a privilege to Jong Ju Yong, honorary chairman of Hyundai Group of south Korea, valuing his patriotic will for reunification. The DPRK’s offer to south Korean enterprises a vast area near the Military Demarcation Line where armed forces of the north and the south are standing in acute confrontation was a bold decision based on ardent love for the nation and compatriotism and a manifestation of the firm will for independent reunification, peace and prosperity based on the spirit of “By our nation itself” clarified in the historic June 15 North-South Joint Declaration. When traitor Lee Myung Bak did serious harm to the inter-Korean relations in all aspects, getting hell-bent on confrontation after coming to power, the zone remained unaffected by it thanks to the desire and will of all Koreans in the north and the south for reunification and kept its operations for common prosperity. But the zone is now in the grip of a serious crisis. The zone, a product of the June 15 joint declaration, has been reduced to a theater of confrontation with fellow countrymen and military provocation, quite contrary to its original nature and mission due to such hideous confrontation maniacs as Kim Kwan Jin. This situation can no longer be tolerated. The south Korean conservative forces claim that the DPRK will never give up the zone as it benefits from the industrial zone, but it gets few economic benefits from the zone while the south side largely benefits from it. The DPRK provided an area of military strategic importance to the south side, in particular. This meant a big concession. It is a tragedy that the industrial zone which should serve purposes of national reconciliation, unity, peace and reunification has been reduced to a theatre of confrontation between compatriots and war against the north. The existence of such zone is no better than nothing. The DPRK is compelled to make an important decision related to the issue of the industrial zone now that the south Korean authorities abuse the generosity and compatriotism of the DPRK for their hostile purpose. Upon authorization, I declare the following important steps as regards the crisis in the Kaesong Industrial Zone:

  1. The DPRK will withdraw all its employees from the zone.
  1. It will temporarily suspend the operations in the zone and examine the issue of whether it will allow its existence or close it as the south Korean authorities and military warmongers seek to turn it into a hotbed of confrontation between compatriots and war against the DPRK, hurting its dignity. The General Bureau for Central Guidance to the Development of the Special Zone will be responsible for the working matters related to the important steps including the withdrawal of the employees and the temporary suspension of the operations in the zone. How the situation will develop in the days ahead will entirely depend on the attitude of the south Korean authorities.” (KCNA, “Important Steps Declared as Regards Kaesong Industrial Zone, April 8, 2013)

Han Song Ryol, the North Korean diplomat who serves as the principal liaison between Washington and Pyongyang, has spent the better part of the past two decades exploring the prospects for a normalized relationship between his country and the United States. From his perch at the North Korean mission to the United Nations on Manhattan’s East Side, Han oversees Pyongyang’s end of the New York channel, a diplomatic conduit that was established in the early 1990s and that, in a more hopeful era, paved the way for the first visit by a high-ranking North Korean official to Washington. But the importance of the New York channel has been noticeably diminished over the years, according to diplomats. The shift, diplomats and others say, underscores the radicalization of North Korea’s foreign policy and a growing pessimism that relations can be improved. “These people in New York are not authorized to say anything or do anything — they don’t have the authority to deviate from specific instructions,” said Han Park, a professor at the University of Georgia with long-standing ties to the North Korean government. The diminished status of the New York channel also speaks to the waning influence of the North Korean Foreign Ministry, which oversees the conduit, in shaping the country’s relationship with the United States. For its part, the Obama administration has shown little interest in cultivating the channel more assiduously, on the grounds that Han Song Ryol and his colleagues have little influence back home and little authority to advance relations, according to diplomats and former U.S. officials. Some North Korea watchers say the New York channel remains important, particularly at a time when the North, which recently severed its few lines of communication with the South, has moved to further isolate itself. “It serves only as a communications channel, although messages can be and have been sent between the highest levels of the two governments,” said Kun A. “Tony” Namkung, who maintains close contacts with the mission and who helped arrange recent visits to Pyongyang by former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson and Google chief executive Eric Schmidt. “It remains wide open and is in good shape. Given the recent cutting off of the military hotline at the DMZ, its importance has actually increased,” he added, referring to the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. Han, who did not respond to requests for an interview, first arrived in New York in the early 1990s and served nearly five years as a young counselor, initially as an aide to the North Korean mission’s top ambassador. During the Clinton era, the New York channel served various functions, according to Evans Revere, who was a senior State Department official at the time and functioned as the Washington end of the New York channel. It was, Revere said, a “sounding board and exploratory vehicle” for resolving differences between North Korea and the United States; the “eyes and ears” of Pyongyang in the United States; and “the voice of the regime” for American audiences. In 2002, after a hiatus from the mission, Han returned to New York, where he served two stints as the envoy responsible for U.S. relations, the first of which ended after North Korea conducted its first nuclear test, in 2006. Over the past few years, the New York channel’s role, however, has been limited. “One has to wonder whether and to what degree the channel is able to report back fully and frankly on developments in the United States, and also the extent to which the leadership in Pyongyang is actually listening to what the channel is reporting,” Revere said. Some North Korea watchers say the New York channel remains important, particularly at a time when the North, which recently severed its few lines of communication with the South, has moved to further isolate itself. “It serves only as a communications channel, although messages can be and have been sent between the highest levels of the two governments,” said Kun A. “Tony” Namkung, who maintains close contacts with the mission and who helped arrange recent visits to Pyongyang by former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson and Google chief executive Eric Schmidt. “It remains wide open and is in good shape. Given the recent cutting off of the military hotline at the DMZ, its importance has actually increased,” he added, referring to the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. Han, who did not respond to requests for an interview, first arrived in New York in the early 1990s and served nearly five years as a young counselor, initially as an aide to the North Korean mission’s top ambassador. During the Clinton era, the New York channel served various functions, according to Evans Revere, who was a senior State Department official at the time and functioned as the Washington end of the New York channel. It was, Revere said, a “sounding board and exploratory vehicle” for resolving differences between North Korea and the United States; the “eyes and ears” of Pyongyang in the United States; and “the voice of the regime” for American audiences. In 2002, after a hiatus from the mission, Han returned to New York, where he served two stints as the envoy responsible for U.S. relations, the first of which ended after North Korea conducted its first nuclear test, in 2006. Over the past few years, the New York channel’s role, however, has been limited. “One has to wonder whether and to what degree the channel is able to report back fully and frankly on developments in the United States, and also the extent to which the leadership in Pyongyang is actually listening to what the channel is reporting,” Revere said. (Colum Lynch, “North Korea Diplomatic Channel Loses Its Luster,” Washington Post, April 9, 2013)

If North Korea fires off a missile in the coming days, the United States should use its missile defenses to shoot it down, even if it’s not headed for a real target, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told The Cable. The Obama administration has been moving missile defense related assets closer to North Korea recently and has plans to shoot down a North Korean missile headed for Japan, South Korea, or Guam, according to the New York Times, but not if the missile is just going to fall into the water. McCain begs to differ. “If they launched a missile, we should take it out. It’s best to show them what some of our capabilities are,” he said. “Their missile would most likely miss, but the fact that they have the ability to launch one with that range is very escalatory at least.” Asked if a failure of U.S. missile defenses in such a scenario would be harmful to the credibility of U.S. weapons systems, McCain said, “That’s true, but I would hope that would be a minimal risk.” South Korean officials have been predicting that North Korea could launch a medium-range ballistic missile on or about April 10, just ahead of the April 15 birthday of North Korea’s founder Kim Il Sung. North Korea’s missile-launch preparations are ongoing. Secretary of State John Kerry will visit China, South Korea, and Japan later this week. A senior administration told CNN that Kerry will try to present a diplomatic path out of the crisis during his trip. “Secretary Kerry agrees that we have to have a robust deterrent because we really don’t know what these guys will do,” the official said. “But he also knows that the North Koreans need a diplomatic off-ramp and that they have to be able to see it.” Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey will visit Beijing next week and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon is scheduled to travel to China in May. McCain said the key to solving the North Korean crisis in the short term is held by the Chinese, who although they have made increasingly sharp statements and have been conducting military exercises near their border with North Korea, have yet to use whatever leverage they have on Pyongyang. “The Chinese are the only ones who have real influence over the North Koreans and they could take action that would ratchet down this crisis dramatically and they are not doing that,” McCain said. “China could shut down their whole economy in a short period of time … It’s symptomatic of Chinese behavior … They are not behaving appropriate to a world power.” (Josh Rogin, “McCain: Shoot down the North Korea Missile,” The Cable/Foreign Policy, April 9, 2013)

The United States warned the government not to purchase the Senkaku Islands last fall, former U.S. Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell said in an interview Monday. The Japanese government consulted with the State Department prior to the purchase, Campbell revealed, and was given “very strong advice not to go in this direction.” The U.S. government, in urging Japan not to follow through with the purchase, stressed the action could “trigger a crisis” with China, which claims the islands for itself. “Even though we warned Japan, Japan decided to go in a different direction, and they thought they had gained the support of China, or some did, which we were certain that they had not,” Campbell said. The central government purchased three of the five islets from their private owner in September to bring them under its control. The action enraged the government in Beijing and sparked a wave of anti-Japanese protests across China. Campbell, while reiterating that the United States takes no position on the disputed territory, stressed that Washington wants to see “effective, positive diplomacy” between China and Japan. The U.S. wants circumstances in which “both countries appreciate … the cockpit of the global economy is in Northeast Asia, and they must get along better,” he added. (Kyodo, “U.S. Warned Government against Buying Senkaku Islands: Campbell,” Japan Times, April 10, 2013)

Sigal: “The crescendo of shrill war cries from North Korea is obscuring the real threat it poses — its unbounded nuclear and missile potential.Its February 12 nuclear test showed it is well on the way to perfecting a compact weapons design capable of being mounted on a missile. It now says it will restart its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon to generate plutonium and will continue enriching uranium for weapons. And it may be moving to test-launch a new missile capable of reaching Japan or possibly Guam.After the nuclear test set off renewed talk in South Korea and Japan about their own nuclear arms, Washington moved to reassure its allies by strengthening deterrence. Yet doing so did little to make Korea or the region more secure. The surreal spate of threats from Pyongyang came in response to military moves by Washington and Seoul. The threats all seem intended to underscore North Korea’s own posture of deterrence — and are explicitly predicated on prior action by the United States or South Korea. Unlike Washington and Seoul, which have far superior forces, Pyongyang for now has escalation dominance only in the realm of rhetoric. The danger is that as the armed forces on both sides conduct exercises, the rhetoric can have unintended consequences along Korea’s ceasefire line if it leads those forces to shoot first and ask questions later. Consider what North Korea has said and done since its nuclear test. Rhetorical Deterrence After China cooperated with the United States to draft a U.N. Security Council resolution tightening sanctions, the North did what it always does whenever Washington and Beijing work in concert — raise tensions to provoke their discordant reaction. It worked. When Beijing moves to calm Pyongyang down, many in Washington mistake its unwillingness to abandon the North as evidence of Beijing’s duplicity. Yet antagonizing Beijing will only deepen insecurity in Northeast Asia, not put more pressure on Pyongyang. When Washington and Seoul announced that their annual joint exercise would involve the dispatch of B-52 bombers, unlike those in the recent past, highlighting the U.S. nuclear deterrent, the Supreme Command of the North Korean Army announced “strong practical counteractions”: it would declare the Korean War armistice agreement “invalid,” suspend talks at Panmunjom, cut off the hotline to the U.S. commander there as it has in the past, and threaten “precision nuclear strike means” of its own, which it did not yet possess. Kim Jong-un, on an inspection tour of his country’s coastal defenses, was said to have ordered that troops there “promptly deal a deadly counterblow to the enemy if a single shell is fired on their waters and land.” When the joint exercise kicked off, the North stepped up the tempo of its own air sorties, held a mass rally and announced that its armed forces, “already put on a high alert, are waiting for an order … to blast the strongholds of aggression with prompt and fatal retaliation, should the provocateurs make even the slightest move.” South Korea’s defense ministry responded in kind, “We will respond forcefully if North Korea provokes us. If North Korea attacks South Korea with a nuclear weapon, then by the will of the Republic of Korea and humanity, the Kim Jong-un regime will perish from the Earth.” Two days after Washington sent a B-52 on a practice bombing run in Korea on March 19, Pyongyang warned that U.S. bases in Japan and Guam “were within range of North Korea’s precision strike means.” The Foreign Ministry spokesman qualified the warning the next day: “The DPRK is now closely watching the move of B-52 and the hostile forces will never escape its strong military counteraction, should the strategic bomber make such sortie to the peninsula again.” Yet the threat seemed real enough to alert missile defenses in Japan and aboard Aegis cruisers in waters off Korea. When Washington dispatched two B-2 stealth bombers on a similar mission, Pyongyang declared it was in a “state of war.” What did that mean? First, it said, “all the issues arousing between the north and the south will be dealt with according to the wartime regulations,” the first sign that it would bar entry to the Kaesong Industrial Complex. Second, “If the U.S. and the south Korean puppet group perpetrate a military provocation for igniting a war against the DPRK in any area including the five islands in the West Sea of Korea or in the area along the Military Demarcation Line, it will not be limited to a local war, but develop into an all-out war, a nuclear war.” The North’s news agency reported that Kim Jong-un at a meeting on Strategic Rocket Forces operations had “examined and ratified a plan for firepower strike.” Potentially Real Threats In the midst of these rhetorical volleys, the Foreign Ministry spokesman on March 16 reiterated the North’s longstanding negotiating position: first, it “will never reach out to anyone to get it recognized as a nuclear weapons state in the future.” Second, “The U.S. is seriously mistaken if it thinks that the DPRK had access to nukes as a bargaining chip to barter them for what it called economic reward.” Third, its nuclear weapons “serve as an all-powerful treasured sword for protecting the sovereignty and security of the country” and are not negotiable “at least as long as the U.S. nuclear threat and hostile policy persist.” The nuclear threat could end with an end to the “hostile policy.” In short, its nuclear diplomacy is not about money but about reconciliation. On March 31, however, Pyongyang announced a “new strategic line” laid down by Kim Jong-un on “carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously” and said it would restart its shuttered reactor at Yongbyon to generate more plutonium as well as producing weapons-grade uranium at its nearby enrichment plant. It said that “the nuclear armed forces should be expanded and beefed up qualitatively and quantitatively until the denuclearization of the world is realized.” Was this Kim’s version of Ike’s “bigger bang for a buck,” allowing some military-industrial resources to be reallocated from military to civilian production? Last week’s White House decision to ratchet down tensions was perhaps belated recognition that Washington’s deterrent moves had not chastened Pyongyang. Far from it. A Way Out? Strategic patience may have given way to strategic impatience in Washington, but not yet to strategic rethinking. That rethinking begins by acknowledging that the very steps that each side in Korea takes to bolster deterrence increase the risk of deadly clashes. This is shown by incidents such as the sinking of the South’s ROKS Cheonan in March 2010 in retaliation for the November 2009 shooting up of a North Korean navy vessel and a November 2010 artillery exchange in the contested waters off Korea’s west coast. In short, deterrence alone will not assure calm on the peninsula. The way to reduce the risk of further clashes is a peace process in Korea in parallel with renewed negotiations to rein in the North’s nuclear and missile programs. Pyongyang has long said it wants a peace treaty ending the Korean War. Probing whether it means what it says is in South Korean and U.S. security interests, especially now that North Korea is nuclear-armed. Whether the new strategic line of March 31 has ruled out negotiated limits on its nuclear and missile programs needs to be explored as well. The second problem is that the steps taken to reassure U.S. allies also antagonize China — joint exercises that include flights of B-52 and B-2 bombers or the dispatch of aircraft carriers to Korea, expanding missile defenses, and helping South Korea to develop longer-range ballistic missiles (to add to the long-range cruise missiles it recently deployed). It is utterly unrealistic to expect China to abandon North Korea as the United States moves to shore up its alliances. No chorus of disclaimers from Washington will persuade Beijing that the U.S. military rebalancing to Asia is not aimed at containing it. Washington needs to accompany it with a political and diplomatic rebalancing toward China, and encourage its allies to do the same. Cooperation has to be a two-way street. A sustained effort at rapprochement could include bilateral discussion of urgent security issues, including exploring a naval no-go zone along China’s coast in return for China’s acceptance of a comparable buffer zone in the waters off Japan, greater U.S. restraint in arming Taiwan in return for greater Chinese transparency about its military plans and programs and tension-easing in the South China Sea. Revived accommodation could also involve sustained military-to-military talks to address the two states’ mutual vulnerability through mutual restraint in the domains of cyberspace, nuclear weaponry and space. That might include commitments to forgo cyber attacks on each other’s critical infrastructure, acknowledgement of mutual deterrence (U.S. acceptance of China’s retaliatory capability as legitimate or a pledge of no first use of nuclear weapons against each other), and a ban on attacks on or interference with one another’s satellites. Such an approach would benefit South Korea, which does not want to be entrapped in a revived cold war between the United States and China. It could also ease pressure on President Park Guen-hye from her party’s right wing to shy away from engagement with North Korea, even though it is in South Korea’s interest to nurture much-needed change in the North and counter rising Chinese economic influence there. Easing of U.S. tensions with China could also counter the rise of rightists in Japan’s Diet who believe in a Japan that can “say no” to the United States and who are pressing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to confront China in order to expose U.S. unreliability. Realists in Tokyo still support both the U.S. alliance and engagement with China, as do most Japanese and the business community, which depends on China trade. The only way to head off looming instability in Asia is to try to move toward peace in Korea and rapprochement with China. Sustained diplomacy and political rebalancing may not succeed, but unlike more stringent sanctions, more muscular deterrence, diplomatic disengagement and military rebalancing, they just might work.” (Leon V. Sigal, Deterrence Will Not Bring Korean Peace,” The National Interest, April 8, 2013)

International Crisis Group: “The dispute over the sovereignty of Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea claimed by the People’s Republic of China (hereafter China), Japan and the Republic of China (Taiwan) has brought China-Japan relations to a new low. The island chain has significant strategic, historical and potentially economic value. Chinese naval analysts see control of the islands as critical to accessing the Pacific Ocean beyond the first island chain linking South Korea, Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture, Taiwan and the Philippines. Japan has been administering the islands and from its perspective, losing them would mean providing China a platform to monitor Japanese and U.S. military activities in Okinawa, about 400km in the east, and potentially curtail freedom of navigation. With regard to economic value, a 1969 UN Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East report mentioned possible large hydrocarbon deposits in the seabed, but very limited exploration activities have been carried out because of the dispute. Adding sensitivity to the issue, both countries face additional maritime and sovereignty disputes and sense a general deterioration in overall maritime security. China is engaged in heated quarrels with several countries in the South China Sea and Japan has unresolved maritime disputes with Russia and South Korea. Both feel compelled to demonstrate resolve to defend their claims over the Diaoyu/Senkaku for fear that other rival claimants would take advantage of any perceived weakness. The two countries claim the islands under different elements of international law. Japan’s case rests on the principle of “occupation of terra nullius,” or land without owner; it asserts that when it formally incorporated the islands through a January 1895 Cabinet decision, it had confirmed that they were uninhabited and showed no trace of having been under the control of China. China claims historical title, stating it has evidence that it exercised sovereignty over the islands as they were discovered, named and used during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and administered as a part of Taiwan by the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). It argues that the islands were ceded to Japan as part of the April 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki that ended the First Sino-Japanese War, and therefore should be returned to China under the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations (1943 and 1945), which stated that Japan must return all territories seized through war. The key question under international law appears to be whether China established historical title before 1895. Taiwan also claims the islands based on the same historical title as China. After the Second World War, the islands were occupied, along with Ryukyu Islands, by the U.S. under the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco and were reverted to Japanese administration in 1972.The U.S. plays an important role in the dispute as it asserts that the 1960 U.S.-Japan Security Treaty covers the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. Both sides also disagree over the delineation of their respective exclusive economic zones (EEZ) in the East China Sea. With this level of complexity, a judicial or arbitration settlement would be the most logical solution. Yet, there is little chance that an international tribunal will be able to examine the issue. Japan does not formally acknowledge that a dispute exists and believes it would therefore be up to China — which it says is seeking to challenge Japan’s “valid control” of the island chain — to refer the issue to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Japanese officials also point out that, unlike Japan, China does not accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the court. Chinese analysts say that Beijing has no faith in the ICJ’s fairness, as it is a “Western” system that will only produce results “biased against China.” Since the normalization of Sino-Japanese relations in 1972, the two countries had followed a strategy of consigning any settlement to the distant future, preserving “the absence of escalation as well as the absence of compromise.” They were able to prevent small incidents from spiraling out of control and damaging diplomatic relations through refraining from provocation and engaging in effective and often discreet diplomacy when problems arose. China claims this was due to an agreement between leaders, but Japan denies such an understanding existed. Strong economic ties have also acted as a stabilizing factor. In recent years, in the context of an ascendant China, many Chinese analysts increasingly thought Japan had the better end of this “gentlemen’s agreement” since it had been administering the islands alone while taking steps to reinforce its claim. They also saw a balance of power shifting in China’s favor vis-à-vis Japan and felt more confident in asserting Chinese claims in the East China Sea. An incident in September 2010 — when a Chinese fishing boat rammed two Japan Coast Guard (JCG) vessels near the islands — brought these issues to the forefront. Japanese analysts believe the fallout from this led to Japan’s purchase of three of the disputed islands from a private owner in September 2012, which gave China the opportunity to alter the status quo. By the beginning of 2013, the two countries were locked in a volatile standoff with Chinese and Japanese law enforcement vessels in close proximity, creating the risk for a dangerous clash. Despite expressions by both governments that they wish to avoid a military conflict, the potential for escalation has increased. … Shintaro Ishihara, then-governor of Tokyo, announced on 16 April 2012 a plan for the Tokyo metropolitan government to purchase three of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands from the Kurihara family and build on them, citing the need to counter China’s challenge of Japanese control. The government of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda felt compelled to act pre-emptively for fear that if Ishihara purchased the islands and built structures on them, a far larger crisis would result and send tensions with China spiraling. The Noda government felt that it lacked the legal means to stop Ishihara, and due to the significant public support for the Tokyo governor’s plan to purchase the islands, it decided in May to open its own bid to purchase them. Noda was also reportedly driven by “a sense of responsibility” to defend the country’s territory. Tokyo had expected a negative reaction from China, but was trying not to “lose bigger” should Ishihara purchase and develop them Japan viewed the island purchase as an internal transfer of property from a private owner to the central government; “from the left hand to the right.” While such an act altered the status of the islands under Japanese domestic laws, Tokyo believed that it was unrelated to issues of sovereignty and could not be considered a change to the bilateral status quo. A former Japanese diplomat explained in further detail, “there are two types of ownership with regard to territories. There are property rights and there are sovereignty rights.” He said the state already had sovereignty rights to the islands, and was only acquiring the property rights through the purchase. China’s interpretation was twofold. It felt that the islands’ ownership transfer aggravated an already unacceptable situation, Japan’s control over the islands and denial that they are disputed. According to a Chinese analyst, Beijing never agreed that the private owner possessed the islands in the first place. While a military analyst conceded that although China could understand that “legally there was no change to the status quo”, nevertheless “politically the action … violated the basic agreement that both countries shelve the dispute and kick it into the long grass.” In his October press conference, Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun termed “absurd logic” the notion that “it is better for the government to ‘purchase’ the islands than the right-wing forces,” saying it amounts to “asking China to choose between two kinds of poison.” Beijing considered the purchase a deliberate unilateral change to the status quo. Many Chinese analysts adopted the narrative of a “good cop, bad cop” conspiracy by Japan to solidify its claim. Policy groupthink — where lower-level analysts and bureaucrats assess the leadership’s position and provide information and analysis accordingly — reinforced the theory that Noda engineered the drama with Ishihara to deal a blow to China. This version was easily adopted by the Chinese policy apparatus given the very different political and legal systems in the two countries. In contrast with Japan, Chinese regional officials who oversee provinces are appointed and rotated by the central government, and “respond to signals set by the centralized party leadership.” While they enjoy significant autonomy on economic issues, they are expected to heed the government line on important political and security issues. Furthermore, in China it would be impossible for a private individual to purchase an island, let alone one that is disputed. Japan had several more months to complete the purchase or even explore other options, but expedited the process in part to complete it before China’s once-in-a-decade leadership transition in November 2012. Japanese analysts said the timing was meant to avoid “punch[ing] the new [Chinese] leaders in the face”. Tokyo also calculated that a new leadership in Beijing might offer opportunities for reconciliation. Unknown to Japan, then-incoming Chinese leader Xi Jinping had already been put in charge of the “Leading Small Group on the Protection of Maritime Interests.” Many in Beijing, however, suspected Japan had deliberately timed the purchase before its power transfer because it thought the leadership would be weak or distracted. According to an account, Chinese leaders were focused on ensuring a smooth handover and did not wish to be forced to deal with Japan. Adding to Chinese sensitivity, the run-up to the leadership transition saw ample signs of fierce factional struggles. A government official responsible for security noted in September that the date of the eighteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which would formalize the handover, had not yet been set — a sign of uncertainty. He asked, “does Japan want to exacerbate the dispute to disrupt the … Congress?” There was also a sense that if China were perceived as being too soft in its reaction, its rival claimants “will reach out for a yard after taking an inch” in the belief that Beijing might want to avoid external troubles during the transition. Another analyst said that Japan had to be made into an example to prevent rival claimants from “exploiting usevery time [there is a party congress].” Signals from both sides were misinterpreted. Prime Minister Noda had sent a secret envoy in early September to Beijing, which according to a Chinese source gave President Hu Jintao the impression that Japan could be persuaded to abandon the purchase plan. This reportedly prompted Hu to agree to a meeting with Noda at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Vladivostok (8-9 September). Japanese officials had been surprised by the Chinese side’s acceptance of the request for the meeting and interpreted it as a good sign. They had assumed that President Hu had been made fully aware of Japan’s intentions to finalize the purchase the following day. The Chinese side, however, had agreed to the encounter on the belief that Noda could still be convinced to back away from the move. During the meeting, Hu stressed to Noda that nationalizing the islands was illegal. When Japan went ahead with the purchase, this was seen as a loss of face for Chinese leaders. Shortly thereafter, Xi Jinping was put in charge of the issue. The purchase reignited the disagreement over the basis on which China and Japan had refrained for decades from trying to resolve the sovereignty issues. According to Beijing, there was a “gentlemen’s agreement” between earlier high-level leaders to “shelve the dispute.” Japanese politicians at times have alluded to earlier Chinese leaders’ statements that the dispute should be resolved by future generations, but Tokyo has explicitly denied the existence of an agreement with China to shelve the dispute. Tokyo maintained that Japan followed a unilateral policy of “ensuring a peaceful and stable maintenance and management of the Senkaku Islands.” The denial has always been taken by China as a political affront. Japan’s island purchase was seen in Beijing as final proof that Japan had disrespected the tacit understanding and, in the minds of Chinese analysts, freed Beijing from adhering to the status quo. … Immediately following the purchase of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, China implemented a string of measures, termed “combination punches,” that bore the hallmarks of a well-planned campaign with multi-agency coordination and high-level decision-making. Top leaders delivered harsh rebukes of Japan, with then-Premier Wen Jiabao vowing to “never yield an inch”and then-Vice President Xi Jinping calling the island purchase “a farce.” The foreign ministry stated that the purchase was “illegal and invalid, and changed nothing about the historical fact that Japan had invaded and occupied Chinese territories.” Defense Minister Liang Guanglie said China’s military reserves the right to take further actions.” The commerce ministry warned that Japan’s action “will inevitably affect and damage the normal development of Sino-Japanese economic and trade relations.” Chinese provincial- and central-level officials were also ordered to cancel visits to Japan and meetings with Japanese counterparts. Other punitive measures were taken in which the Chinese government denied any official coordination. Tourist agencies, some state-owned, cancelled trips to Japan. Consumers boycotted Japanese products while goods from Japan faced delays at several Chinese ports due to longer customs inspections. Violent anti-Japan protests erupted in dozens of cities, damaging some Japanese shops and factories. State media trumpeted photos and video footage of military drills, including island-landing exercises in the Yellow Sea. But a quieter move may have had more serious repercussions. On 10 September, the day Tokyo formally declared it was purchasing the islands, Beijing announced territorial sea baselines around the islands. According to Chinese law, the move placed the disputed islands under Chinese administration and was therefore a direct challenge to Japan’s control of the islands. This was the first time that China announced baselines for territories that it did not already control. Chinese experts explained that from then on, entrance by Japanese public service or Self-Defense Force (SDF) vessels into the area would be considered intrusions into China’s territory and a violation of its sovereignty. Such an unprecedented move to formalize its claim obliged China under its own laws — and in the court of domestic public opinion — to assert jurisdiction over the waters surrounding the islands. Its two largest maritime law enforcement agencies — the China Marine Surveillance (Marine Surveillance) and the Fisheries Law Enforcement Command (Fisheries) — which already competed with each other in the South China Sea for budget and clout, were further empowered to assert sovereignty in the East China Sea. They immediately increased their patrols in waters previously dominated by the JCG. For Chinese experts, the immediate aim is to establish “overlapping control” in the disputed waters. Some have stated that in this way, Japan would at least have to admit that a dispute exits. Beijing’s responses to Japan’s is land purchase reflect a tactic that it has used in other maritime disputes, which can be termed “reactive assertiveness”: Beijing uses an action by another party as justification to push back hard and change the facts on the ground in its favor. In April 2012, the Philippines maladroitly sent a warship to arrest Chinese fishermen operating near the disputed Scarborough Shoal, prompting China to send two civilian maritime patrol ships. Manila soon replaced the navy ship with a civilian coast guard vessel, and a standoff ensued between the two countries’ law enforcement vessels. By mid-June, both sides withdrew on the pretext of rough weather, but Chinese Marine Surveillance and Fisheries vessels soon returned, roped off the mouth of the lagoon to keep Filipino fishermen from entering, and established routine patrols of the area. Previously, neither China nor the Philippines maintained a permanent presence in the area and fishermen from the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan and China operated untroubled in and around the large reef. Taking advantage of the Philippines’s action of sending a warship to arrest Chinese fishermen, China established effective control of the shoal, thus changing the status quo in its favor. All the while, the blame was laid on the Philippines for having responded to a fishing dispute by sending in a naval vessel. Similarly, on 21 June 2012, Vietnam passed a maritime law with new navigation regulations covering the disputed Spratly and Paracel Islands. China reacted by establishing Sansha City to encompass the islands and 2 million sq km of the South China Sea, complete with a military garrison. The China National Offshore Oil Corporation, a state-owned enterprise, then proceeded to offer oil exploration leases in nine blocks located within the disputed area in the South China Sea. Chinese analysts have said that Beijing was made aware many months ahead of the impending law by Vietnam, giving it ample opportunity to craft its response. Vietnamese officials said that communications with China began six months in advance of the law’s passage, but that nothing in their conversations warned them that the response would be so drastic. China’s dispute with Japan in the East China Sea showed a use of the same “reactive assertiveness” tactic. Chinese analysts confirmed that territorial baselines had been drawn long before but had been withheld from public release as Beijing had been concerned about appearing expansionist. The Japanese purchase announcement then provided an opportunity to implement the plan. A scholar joked that he refers to Ishihara and Noda as “comrades” for giving China the chance to change the situation around the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in its favor. Another feature of reactive assertiveness is that the measures taken by China were designed to be irreversible. Scarborough Shoal remains inaccessible to Philipino fishermen and the development of Sansha City continues apace. With regard to the Diaoyu/Senkaku, Chinese officials and analysts have made it clear that there is no going back to the previous status quo of Japan administering the area alone. The Chinese foreign ministry has urged Japan to “face the reality that the situation around the Diaoyu Islands has fundamentally changed.” The director of the State Oceanic Administration, which oversees the Marine Surveillance, stated in November 2012 that “there is no time limit” to Chinese patrols around the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. According to an analyst, after months of regular patrols in the disputed waters, Beijing’s goal became to wear down Japan into “accept[ing] the new situation” and making overlapping control “the new status quo.” In each case, Beijing saw its actions as justified not only as responses to other parties’ provocations, but also to rectify situations that it believed to be unacceptable. Many Chinese analysts describe a pattern in these situations as one of “small countries bullying a big country.” With regard to the Diaoyu/Senkaku, many Chinese analysts believed that Beijing had been too soft by allowing Japan to solely administer the disputed islands and solidify control over them for so long. According to an analyst, China’s strategy was motivated by a sense that time was running out and that regular patrolling would be necessary “or else China’s sovereignty claim would become weaker and weaker.” This view reflects a widely held belief in China that Japan could cement its claim if its de facto control could run fifty years unchallenged, through the international legal doctrine of “acquisition prescription.” Additionally, China’s sense of a shifting balance of power has given it confidence to correct what it considered a disadvantage. The shift in the two countries’ comparative economic strength left many in China with the belief that it no longer needs to appease Japan by treading carefully on the island dispute. Analysts and policymakers in China have increasingly spoken of Japan as a second-class power while China is on its way to becoming a first-class power. Some held the view that for many years China had been too conservative in shelving the dispute and had allowed Japan to solidify its control of the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands. According to a newspaper affiliated with the Communist Party of China, “the time that the Chinese nation could be bullied by anyone is gone forever and China now absolutely has the capabilities to safeguard its territorial sovereignty.” Such factors could have motivated Chinese actions starting in 2008 to send occasional civilian law enforcement vessels to the disputed waters, and was cited as a reason for continued patrols far before Japan’s island purchase. A Marine Surveillance East China Sea fleet commander stated in March 2012 that China had to “demonstrate presence, show administration and declare sovereignty” by patrolling near the islands in order to “foil Japan’s attempt to cement its claim through establishing the so called ‘acquisition prescription.’” The Japanese purchase announcement offered China the opportunity to officially normalize such patrols and conduct them with regularity. China’s reactively assertive approach likely reflects its desire to take firm actions to defend its maritime claims while maintaining a policy of peaceful development. Beijing repeatedly stated that Japan was “fully responsible for all consequences.” As a Chinese maritime researcher put it, “the series of measures that China has taken to defend its rights has been mostly reactive and responsive and was necessary to respond to violation of our maritime interests.” China’s firm approach reflects a larger strategy of shifting from a land-focused power in both economic development and defense terms to a maritime power, a key component of which is strengthening defense of maritime rights. The change of focus from landward to seaward security has led maritime security interests to become the most important part of China’s strategic rationale. Former President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao both stressed the importance of China becoming a maritime power in their final speeches, in November 2012 and March 2013 respectively. New leaders Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang have also reinforced the “maritime power” concept. Maritime agencies, coastal provinces and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have all considered the leadership’s initiative a license to step up their own activities for ocean exploration, development and the defense of maritime rights and claims. Alongside these developments, Beijing has expanded both Marine Surveillance and Fisheries agencies in order to strengthen routine patrols in disputed areas. In March 2013, it began restructuring and consolidating its maritime agencies in order to focus its resources and enhance coordination. Beijing has also established the National Oceanic Commission “to formulate oceanic development strategies.” Although never officially stated by the government, Chinese commentators and state media in recent years have started to refer to maritime rights as part of China’s “core interests, namely those strategic interests on which China will not compromise and which it would possibly be ready to protect by force. The phrase, broadly defined to include state sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity and domestic stability, had traditionally only been applied to Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang. In his first foreign policy speech after becoming head of the communist party, Xi Jinping stated that China “will remain on a path of peaceful development,” but warned that “no country should presume that we will engage in trade involving our core interests.” A Chinese analyst interpreted this as a warning to countries that are challenging China’s maritime rights and interests. A few days later, a top-level PLA general warned that China’s “main security threat comes from the sea,” pledging “not the slightest harm can come to the core national interests.” In recent years, foreign diplomats have said Chinese officials repeatedly referred to the South China Sea as part of China’s core interests, although Chinese researchers insist that Beijing has not made a policy decision to do so. The government has avoided directly labeling the Diaoyu/Senkaku dispute an issue that involves its core interests, but the linkage is apparent. Such a connection was made for the first time by a January 2012 editorial in the government’s mouthpiece, The People’s Daily. In October that year, when asked whether core interests apply to Diaoyu/Senkaku, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun did not deny or confirm, and instead recited the definition of the phrase, repeated that those islands are Chinese territories and warned Japan “not to doubt, let alone to test” China’s resolve to defend them. Nationalism makes sovereignty in the East China Sea a highly explosive issue, as sentiments over the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands run deeper in the Chinese psyche than any other territorial dispute in modern Chinese history, with the exception of Taiwan. Anti-Japanese sentiment in China is a legacy of the Japanese invasion during the Second World War and has been reinforced by decades of government-driven patriotic education and mass media recounting Japan’s brutal occupation and China’s heroic triumph under the CCP’s leadership. Beijing further weaves the Diaoyu/Senkaku issue into the historical narrative of Japan’s refusal to repent for its past aggression. This has ensured that more than 60 years after the war, the enmity of the past remains alive in today’s younger generations. A “feedback loop” has ensued whereby history education has stimulated the growth of nationalism, which in turn provides a larger market for nationalistic messages. According to a Chinese scholar, “the main theme of Chinese nationalism is anti-Japan.” Meanwhile, the rapid rise of Internet use and social media over the past decade has eroded Beijing’s control over popular sentiments and begun to influence policymaking. Internet users now track Chinese law enforcement vessels via satellite photos, mocking and criticizing the government when they stop short of disputed waters, holding Beijing accountable to act in line with statements made during times of high public pressure. The baseline announcement, for example, created expectations that China would take steps to assert sovereignty over the islands while pushing Japan out. After the announcement and before Marine Surveillance ships arrived near the islands, netizens questioned the government’s resolve and mocked the Marine Surveillance for acting cowardly. A netizen summed it up: Beijing “can’t just verbally draw [the territorial sea baselines], then neglect them. That’s humiliating.” This in turn emboldens belligerent voices and constricts the space for diplomacy. Some current and former PLA officers regularly give vent to hardline rhetoric that borders on warmongering. Internet users have gone so far as to ask for military intervention. Online posts refer to the foreign ministry as “Mai Guo Bu,” “the ministry of traitors” — for calling for Japan to return to egotiations. Chinese analysts said such statements do not represent the leadership’s thinking, but are nevertheless allowed as “they are motivated by patriotism and not in violation of national principles.” But the government takes measures to quickly curtail such expression as soon as it turns into criticism of its domestic policy. During the anti-Japan demonstrations that erupted across China in mid-September 2012, protesters held signs denouncing the government’s record on food safety and land-grabbing by officials and calling for “corrupt officials” to be sent to defend the islands. A Chinese analyst explained that the government had been under criticism for being “too hard on its own people and too soft facing outside,” and therefore “wouldn’t be able to answer to the public” had it not responded firmly to “Japan’s provocation.” The New Left — a loose collection of officials, activists and intellectuals that broadly advocate a return to Maoism and a stronger role for the state in the economy — utilized the protests to rally support for their cause and fuel opposition to the government. The government rapidly shut down the protests and restored order within a day. If the central leadership were to adopt a clear and moderate policy, it could certainly take measures to sensitize the public to the need for such an approach and help dampen nationalist sentiment. The fact that it has done the opposite suggests it prefers to fan nationalism to justify assertive actions and convince its adversary that it cannot back down. It took until March 2013 for Beijing to make an effort to tone down harsh rhetoric against Japan. Understanding Japan’s perspective on the current crisis requires examination of the diplomatic row following the 7 September 2010 incident, also referred to as the “Senkaku shock” in Japan, when a Chinese trawler captain rammed two JCG vessels in disputed waters. The captain was subsequently detained and charged under Japanese domestic law. According to a Japanese analyst, this led to “a combination of unfortunate elements” causing the largest crisis in bilateral relations since the 2005 anti-Japan protests across China. Beijing’s demand for the immediate release of the boat captain, his crew and the trawler went unmet. After releasing the crew and the boat on 13 September, Japan kept the captain and then prolonged his detention by nine days on 20 September. The episode appeared to be a departure from the way Japan had handled Chinese civilians who travelled to the disputed islands. In those cases, such as the March 2004 landing incident, Japan arrested the individuals and deported them without charge, allowing tensions to dissipate more quickly. In those previous incidents, Chinese activists who tried to force their way onto the islands were processed under the immigration law. The 2010 boat collision involved a higher-level violation under Japan’s criminal code for “obstruction of public duties of an officer of the law.” Some Japanese analysts said it was a mistake for the three-month-old Naoto Kan government to allow legal procedures to play out a long course rather than treat the boat collision as a diplomatic incident and step in to manage it. They said such a blunder permitted a wider crisis, with one of them saying that the inexperienced government should have flashed a “new driver on board” sign. According to a prominent Japanese expert, “the poor handling of this situation contributed to the DPJ’s image of ineptness on foreign policy, particularly with regard to China.” Beijing interpreted Japan’s reaction as a breach of the precedent of “capture and release” that had helped limit the impact of individual activist activity on bilateral relations, and struck back with a string of punitive measures. These included the suspension of bilateral exchanges at the provincial and ministerial level, mass cancellations of trips to Japan by Chinese tourists and allowing protests in front of Japanese diplomatic missions and schools. On 21 September, China reportedly suspended shipments of rare earth metals essential for Japanese high-tech industries. The embargo lasted approximately two months. Beijing denied official involvement, but many Japanese analysts remain convinced that the Chinese government had tailored the export restriction to punish Japan. Many Japanese were extremely shocked by the rare earths ban, particularly given previous practice of insulating the bilateral economic relationship from political tensions, a situation both sides referred to as “hot economics, cold politics.” On 23 September, China arrested four Japanese for entering a military zone without authorization. The next day, Japanese officials announced that the government had decided to release the Chinese skipper. Even after this, China demanded apologies and monetary compensation, which became an additional sore point in a Japan already reeling from having yielded under Chinese pressure. This incident came on the heels of the announcement in August 2010 that China overtook Japan as the world’s second largest economy, leading some in Japan to refer to 2010 as the year of the “China shock.” Beijing’s tough response to the incident caused a spike in antipathy among the Japanese public towards China. Several surveys in Japan in the following years confirmed this trend, with half of those who expressed an unfavorable view in June 2012 citing the island dispute as the main cause. The release of the captain also left many Japanese feeling humiliated and deepened their disappointment with the leadership. According to a Japanese scholar, “we lost face in a big way.”A Yomiuri Shimbunsurvey in October 2012 found nearly half of respondents thought the decision gave “the impression Japan will back down if pressure is applied.” The souring public sentiment left a deep impression on the DPJ government, which subsequently was on the defensive from attacks by right-wingers, especially Tokyo Governor Ishihara. Public demand in Japan grew for the government to strengthen control and defense of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. A Japanese analyst said the public feared that the next incident could involve “100 [Chinese] fishermen and we can’t stop them, so we have to solidify our claim.” Another said the Japanese were worried that “if China takes over Senkaku, the next would be Okinawa.” Such sentiment was shared in some corners of the diplomatic community in Japan, who felt that “as China rose, we couldn’t just be nice.” Amid such domestic pressure, the Japanese government in January 2012 named some of the disputed islands, which resulted in protests from Beijing and The People’s Daily labelling the islands one of China’s “core interests.” Growing public appetite for the government to better safeguard the islands provided a receptive audience for Ishihara. The U.S. has consistently asserted that the 1960 U.S.-Japan security treaty covers the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. But both Japan and China project their own fears and hopes onto whether and how the U.S. would fulfill its treaty obligation. China’s incremental escalation of the island dispute sowed fear in Tokyo that Beijing was aiming to test and expose the limits of the U.S.-Japan alliance. Japanese officials and strategists expressed overall confidence in the U.S. commitment to the defense of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands. But some voiced unease over a perceived delay by the Obama administration to reiterate that the treaty covered the islands, as well as an understanding that the U.S. would only come to Japan’s defense “after the Self-Defense Force was bloodied.” They also expressed a desire for the U.S. to explicitly endorse Japan’s sovereignty claim over the islands. As the dispute wore on, some in both Tokyo and Washington became concerned about the possibility that China’s game plan was to “provoke Japan to overreact; to make the U.S. nervous about Japan’s overreaction; to generate insecurity within Japan regarding the U.S.; thus weakening U.S.-Japan solidarity.” Many Chinese strategists believe that the U.S.-Japan security alliance is the largest obstacle to taking over the islands by force. However, some of them have been searching for signs of strain in the alliance as well as ambiguity that China could exploit in Article V of the treaty, which states that the security alliance applies to “territories under the administration of Japan.” Some analysts questioned whether the treaty would apply if China successfully established overlapping administration, since they would no longer unquestionably be under Japanese control — a notion which the U.S. has taken steps to dispel. Some analysts also wondered if the U.S. would only nominally fulfill its treaty obligation in the event of a conflict by providing Japan weapons rather than soldiers and fleets. After Abe’s visit to Washington — during which he declared, “no one should ever doubt the robustness of the Japan-U.S. Alliance”, Chinese state media and commentators asserted that Obama had given Abe a “cold shoulder,” as he did not specifically mention the island issue. Harder-line analysts in China assert that Washington has encouraged Japan to stir up trouble in order to facilitate the U.S. rebalancing to Asia, which many Chinese are convinced is aimed at containing China. Even moderates hold the view that the growing presence of the U.S. in the region has at least emboldened Japan. Due to the belief that Japan is being used in a broader geopolitical strategy by the U.S. to encircle China, many in Beijing were less willing to give importance to internal Japanese politics as the reason that led the government to purchase the islands. The tendency by Chinese policymakers and the state media to see foreign policy issues through the lens of a U.S.-China strategic struggle inhibits accurate analysis of underlying issues and irritates countries that do not feel treated as an equal player by China. Forty years of Sino-Japanese diplomatic relations have been dotted with disputes. While managing frequent, inevitable frictions, the two sides had developed a “ritualized” system that had prevented minor crises from spinning out of control. Top leaders were setting the overall tone for peace and friendship, with dedicated high-level officials negotiating behind the scenes and diplomats providing expertise and logistical support. In recent years, however, this personality-driven system started to disintegrate, beginning from the very top. Attempts to forge more stable institutional linkages have largely failed. China’s increased naval presence in the East China Sea and the contest for administration of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands have expanded risks for frictions into new frontlines that involve more hardline actors, making future crisis management even more challenging. These factors have taken place in the context of the shifting balance of power between China and Japan. Due to the countries’ fraught history, advocating for improved ties with Japan in China has always carried political risk. Strong leaders have had the most success. The normalization of diplomatic ties in 1972 was led by Mao Zedong, who enjoyed a status akin to a deity. It was implemented under the close supervision of the People’s Republic of China’s first Premier Zhou Enlai. This decision followed the deterioration of ties with Moscow and China’s need for financial and economic assistance from Japan. Top Chinese leaders carefully prepared propaganda guidelines, arguing, for example, that strengthening relations with Japan was “a beneficial move to contain U.S. imperialism and to strike against the Soviet Union.” Deng Xiaoping, another revolutionary leader who ruled the country from 1978 to 1989, presided over the negotiations leading to, and the signing of, the Treaty of Peace and Friendship with Japan in 1978, ushering in an era of booming trade, economic and cultural exchanges. Deng knew well that China needed Japan’s intellectual capital and investment for his opening and reform policy to succeed. During his visit to Japan in 1978, he said that China and Japan should set aside the Diaoyu/Senkaku issue and leave it to a future and smarter generation to solve. “Shelving the dispute” thus became the guiding principle for managing maritime sovereignty issues for generations of Chinese leaders and diplomats until recent years. Deng’s successors had less success in maintaining good Sino-Japanese relations. When Hu Yaobang tried to enhance ties between the two countries, he came under severe criticism from conservatives, particularly for inviting 3,000 Japanese youths to visit China and entertaining Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone and his family in his home when they visited China. Hu lost power in a factional struggle, and his attempts to improve relations with Japan were used among other alleged misdeeds to justify his removal from office. While his downfall was primarily due to a conservative backlash against his efforts toward political reform, Chinese leaders and diplomats also read it as a cautionary tale on reaching out to Japan. Relations with Japan began to seriously deteriorate in the 1990s during the rule of Jiang Zemin. He launched a patriotic propaganda campaign centered on China’s suffering under and eventual triumph over Japan during the Second World War. In a speech in front of the Japanese emperor in November 1998, Jiang brought up Japanese militarism and “reemphasize[d] historical issues” between the two sides, only aggravating bilateral tensions. Many Chinese scholars think that Jiang’s childhood memory of family suffering and sacrifice during the Japanese invasion motivated this campaign. Japanese and Western scholars, however, believe that the real driver was his desire to cement his power in the ideological void left after the 1989 Tian’anmen events, when the CCP’s legitimacy was under severe strain. Following Jiang, President Hu Jintao had a mixed record in attempting to enhance relations with Japan. He was able to overcome internal disagreement to reach a deal with Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, who privately promised not to visit the Yasukuni Shrine in exchange for a resumption of high-level summits. Abe ed an “ice-breaking” trip to Beijing in 2006, ending a five-year freeze of summit exchanges. Subsequently, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao led an “ice-melting trip” to Tokyo in 2007, followed by a “warm-spring trip” by Hu Jintao to Japan in 2008. But one of Hu’s and Wen’s signature endeavors — to begin jointly developing oil and gas resources with Japan in the East China Sea — was halted after two years of negotiation due to domestic opposition. By the time Hu and Wen left power, Sino-Japanese tensions had entered another downturn due to the 2010 and 2012 crises. The challenges Hu encountered in sustaining good relations with Japan partly had to do with the transition of the Chinese governance model from the strong individual to a collective leadership, with major decisions made through consensus by members of the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC). Within the PBSC, rival factions compete for power and influence. Hu Jintao was considered one of the PBSC’s most Japan-friendly members by both Chinese and Japanese analysts. But he had a slow start in consolidating his power. Unlike Hu Jintao, current leader Xi Jinping was immediately put in charge of the PLA as chairman of the Central Military Commission. By all accounts, he has been central to China’s current Japan strategy. Before he took over as head of the CCP in November 2012, he was put in charge of a maritime security group in mid-2012, and then of the “Office to Respond to the Diaoyu Crisis” in September. The first several months of Xi’s leadership gave few signs that he was ready to spend political capital to de-escalate the tensions in the East China Sea. Rather, one of his early speeches was to urge the military to be combat-ready. However, in March 2013, PLA general Liu Yuan, a close ally of Xi, on several occasions warned against talks of war and said the island dispute “can be deferred, discussed and coordinated. It is not worth resorting to humanity’s most extreme and violent methods to resolve it.” Several factors could have contributed to Beijing’s desire to tone down the rhetoric. Although Xi took control of the CCP and the military in November 2012, it was not until the March 2013 National People’s Congress (NPC) that he became head of the state and major government posts, including the cabinet, were filled. The NPC allowed Xi to further consolidate power and place his allies in key positions. According to an analyst, the tensions on the Korean Peninsula since the third nuclear test in February 2013 encouraged Beijing to cool tensions somewhat with Japan, as the system is under strain with multiple foreign policy crises. China also likely has an interest in reducing the heat over the dispute to attempt to regularize and legitimize its concept of overlapping control. By shifting international attention elsewhere, it could be easier for Beijing to cement the new status quo. But although the rhetoric has been moderated, China’s actions on the ground have not changed and it has set in mot