Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 08, 08-2014
Small steps, Road to peace
Detained American Tourists Make Plea for Help
Two American tourists who were detained in North Korea have made pleas to the US government for help as their trials approach. Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle who were both arrested during trips to North Korea in April, were granted an interview with an Associated Press television crew in Pyongyang this week.
Both said they were “in good health and are being treated well” but expressed concerns about potentially being sentenced to long prison terms in their upcoming trials and thus appealed to the US government for help.
The discussions on the issue of North Korean missile launches took place at the request of the South Korean government. The South Korean government felt that the lack of a response from the Security Council could be seen as encouraging North Korea to push the boundaries and continue on with missile testing.
Both men are charged with “anti-state” crimes by Pyongyang; 56-year-old Fowle is alleged to have left a bible in a nightclub bathroom in the city of Chongjin, whilst 24-year-old Miller reportedly tore up his visa upon arrival and said he was seeking asylum.
Miller and Fowle are not the only American citizens currently being held in North Korea; Kenneth Bae who has been held in North Korea for almost two years stated in an interview this week that he felt the US had “abandoned” him.
Meanwhile, the Australian Foreign Ministry has issued a travel alert advising Australians to “reconsider” visiting North Korea as “foreign visitors have been subject to arbitrary arrest and long-term detention…foreigners may be arrested, detained or expelled for activities that would not be considered crimes in Australia." An Australian national, John Short, a 75-year-old missionary, was arrested in February for “distributing religious materials”, although has since been released.
Source : Chosun Ilbo , Joongang Daily , Yonhap News
US Defense Officials Call for Closer Unity with China over North Korea Contingency Plans
Following on from my article last week about potential conflicting Chinese and American contingency plans for dealing with the collapse of North Korea, US defense officials called for Washington and Beijing to work more closely “in the event of a contingency situation on the Korean Peninsula.”
A statement released by The National Defense Panel (NDP) reviewing the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Review outlined “implications of a Korean Peninsula emergency in terms of military operations.” It said an emergency situation with an impending collapse of North Korea would require “plans for the rapid movement of US ground forces stationed in Asia and at home to reinforce USFK and South Korean forces.” But perhaps most interestingly called for close communications with China to make sure a “shared picture of the operational environment and reduce the risk of miscalculation.” The report also stressed the need for “advanced planning” to “quickly employ precision munitions against key targets in North Korea to achieve objectives, minimize civilian casualties and reduce prospects for nuclear escalation.” Lastly, the report mentioned the necessity to secure “nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and facilities to prevent them from falling into the hands of terrorists or hostile states.”
The report’s call for closer alignment with China over planning is interesting as just last week I recommended an opinion article that laid out the conflicting interests China and the US would have in dealing with any potential collapse of North Korea.
Source : Hankyoreh
North Korea Protests to UN over ROK-US Joint Drills
North Korea requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council last Friday, to protest upcoming joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, stating that they “increase the danger of war on the Korean peninsula.”
North Korea’s Deputy Ambassador Ri Tong-il initially addressed the UN Security Council in July and he took the opportunity to criticize the council for its failure to respond to July’s communique, stating that the joint exercises are “a threat to international peace and security that must be addressed.” Ri went on to add that if there is any “spark” during the exercises, “it would easily and immediately turn into war”. Ri went on to claim that any deaths that occurred in a potential war would be the fault of the UN and the US, as well as accusing the US of engaging in “nuclear blackmail” by including nuclear-armed ships, submarines and bombers in their military exercises on the Korean peninsula.
Kurtis Cooper, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, countered Ri’s claims by saying that the annual joint military exercises “are transparent, defense-oriented and have been carried out openly for about 40 years.”
Despite these tensions over the upcoming military exercises, Ri said North Korea still plans to attend the Incheon Asian Games in September.
Source : The Diplomat, Joongang Daily
North Korean Use of Biological Weapons Still an Option says US.
According to a State Department report titled "Report on Adherence to and Compliance With Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments," the United States believes North Korea could still consider using biological weapons as an option. Additionally, the report declared that the North continues to develop its “biological research and development capabilities”, despite the fact that North Korea became a party to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1987. The BWC bans “development, production, stockpiling and acquisition of microbial or other biological agents or toxins, as well as weapons and delivery means designed to use such agents or toxins.”
The report went on to say that the US believes the North has actualized last year’s threat to "adjust and alter the uses of existing nuclear facilities" by restarting the 5-megawatt nuclear reactor and expanding the size of the uranium enrichment facility at its Yongbyon nuclear center.
The North’s nuclear weapons program was under further scrutiny this week as Glyn Davies, the U.S. special representative for North Korea policy insisted that the North must start denuclearization before any talks would take place. Davies that the U.S. would continue to strengthen existing sanctions against North Korea in its efforts to pressure the North into abandoning its nuclear program. Davies urged the North Korean regime to take "meaningful" steps toward denuclearization.
Source : Yonhap News , Chosun Ilbo