PN's Voice 11

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 11, 02-09-2014

PN's Voice 11
Small steps, Road to peace

Seoul and Washington’s Policies on N. Korea Remain Unchanged

Seoul and Washington both reaffirmed their positions on North Korea insisting there have been no changes made to their existing policies. The US policy of holding back negotiations with the North until Pyongyang can illustrate its serious commitment to nuclear denuclearization through “actions, not words” remains unchanged. Similarly, Seoul maintains a stance of insisting that North Korea takes “preliminary action”, such as apologizing for the 2010 sinking of the Cheonan, before the South will consider pending issues such as lifting the “May 24 measures or resuming tours to the Mt. Keumgang in North Korea”.

Recent events such as South Korea’s offer to Pyongyang of top-level talks, as well as rumors of a US official’s secret trip to North Korea had lead some to question whether the US and/or South Korea had changed their policy towards North Korea. However, Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman of the National Security Council, whilst avoiding the subject of the rumored US visit to the North, insisted the US hadn’t changed its policy at all towards North Korea. Ventrell illustrated the US policy as follows:
“We remain open to dialogue with North Korea but will continue to judge North Korea by its actions, not its words. We are not interested in talks for the sake of talks. U.S. principles in this regard remain the same and unchanged. North Korea must show it is serious and prepared to abide by its commitments, particularly concerning denuclearization, before authentic and credible negotiations are possible…nothing has changed.”.

Similarly, Ryu Gil-Jae, a senior official at the Unification Ministry, was adamant that the high-level talks offered by Seoul didn’t indicate a change in policy; “the fact that we proposed high-level talks yesterday does not mean that our attitude has changed about the May 24 measures or resuming tours to Mt. Keumgang.” Ryu went on to clarify, “what we meant was that we are willing to discuss these issues if North Korea wants to discuss them. We have not retreated or changed our position on them.”
Source : The Korea Times, Yonhap News, Hankyoreh

Missiles Launches Won’t Stop Japan-N. Korea Abductee Talks

A Japanese government official stated last week that North Korea’s continued missile and rocket launches wouldn’t affect talks between Pyongyang and Tokyo over Japanese nationals abducted by North Korea. After a decade of stalemate, Japan finally managed to resume discussions with North Korea earlier this year to arrange the return of, or ascertain the fate of, a group of Japanese people abducted as part of North Korea’s spy training program, mostly conducted in the 1970s and 1980s. Japanese police suspect that as many as 860 Japanese people have been abducted by North Korea.

Japan lifted some of the sanctions on North Korea earlier this year after a round of talks led to North Korea launching a special committee to re-investigate the fate of the Japanese abductees. Despite the environment for talks not being favorable due to North conducting a series of firings this year in areas near the East Sea, the most recent of which was September 1st, the next round of talks is due to commence soon. "Under the current circumstance, (the Japanese government) is not considering suspending the negotiations or any such thing despite the missile launches," a Japanese government official said in a meeting with South Korean reporters in Japan on Monday. The government official went on to say that the first investigation result from North Korea is also due in early autumn and that Japanese officials sensed an "enthusiastic attitude" on the North Korean side towards the investigation.
Source : Yonhap News

North Korea’s Charm Offensive to Stretch to Include a Visit to the UN

Following hot on the heels of his charm offensive tour of South-East Asia, North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Su-yong is to visit the UN General Assembly in New York in September. His visit to the US will be the first from a North Korean foreign minister in 15 years.

There are two main theories to explain why the North decided to send Ri to the US. The first theory is that deteriorating Chinese-North Korean relations have forced North Korea to reach out to other countries to avoid complete isolation. Ri has already visited five South-East Asian countries to try and improve ties and some political observers believe that Ri’s visit presents an opportunity for him to hold talks with his US counterparts in an attempt to improve US-North Korea ties. As the chief of South Korea’s National Security Office, Kim Kwan-jin, is also expected to head to the US this month, it is hoped a meeting between the two can be arranged to kick start some momentum in inter-Korean relations. As both Kim and Ri are scheduled to visit the US in September, any potential meeting between the two would take place after the joint US-South Korean military drills. The conclusion of the drills offers a chance a better environment for talks to improve inter-Korean relations. Any inter-Korean or North Korean-US talks may offer a chance to negotiate some ongoing issues such as the resumptions of Korean family reunions as well as the release of the three US citizens currently detained in North Korea.

However, the second theory to explain Ri’s visit to the US is that it presents North Korea with a chance to defend its nuclear program as well as its human rights record, which was heavily condemned by a UN report earlier this year and is likely to be discussed again in September.
Source : The Korean Herald, JoongAng Daily

North Korea Developing Missile Submarine?

Rightwing U.S. webzine Washington Free Beacon claimed on Tuesday that North Korea is developing a submarine capable of launching ballistic missiles. "A missile launch tube on a North Korean submarine was observed recently by U.S. intelligence agencies and is raising new concerns about the missile and nuclear threat from the communist regime in Pyongyang," the article claimed.

The article claimed that the North secretly bought and modified old Soviet missiles and rendered them capable of being launched from submarines. The article suggested that the submarine could be “either a modification of the Romeo-class diesel submarine that was made by Russia or China or a copy of the old Soviet Golf-class submarine that the North bought from Russia in the mid-1990s”.

Whilst solid facts and details on this subject remain few and far between it is alleged that if North Korea is able to sufficiently update old Soviet missiles to render them suitable for submarine launch, then their strike range could include Alaska, US military bases on Okinawa, the Philippines, and Guam.
Source : Washington Free Beacon, Chosun Ilbo

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