PN's Voice 36

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 36, 02-04-2015
Mit freundlicher Erlaubnis von Peace Network

PN's Voice No. 36, 02.04.2015 
Small steps, Road to peace 

U.S. Will Not Raise THAAD Issue When Carter Visits S. Korea Next Week

The United States will not bring up the issue of the THAAD missile defense system when Defense Secretary Ashton Carter visits South Korea next week, a U.S. official said last week."After discussions between senior leaders at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul and military leaders on the peninsula and at the Pentagon, it was decided that the topic of THAAD will not be discussed during Secretary Carter's trip next week," the official said.

The U.S. wants to deploy a THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) missile interceptor battery to the South, where some 28,500 American troops are stationed, to better defend against North Korea's ballistic missile threats. But the issue has hogged headlines here in the South and has become one of the most sensitive dilemmas for Seoul as China and Russia see a potential THAAD deployment as a threat to their security interests and have increased pressure on Seoul to reject such a deployment. In light of such sensitivity, South Korean and U.S. officials have only said there have been no official consultations or decisions on the issue. Ahead of Carter's trip, however, speculation had grown that the American defense chief could officially raise the issue for the first time.

The U.S. official, who spoke strictly on condition of anonymity due to the issue's sensitivity, did not elaborate on why they decided not to raise the issue, including if there was such a request from South Korean officials, and whether the U.S. still sees the need for a THAAD battery in the South.

Carter plans to visit Seoul from April 9-11 for his first face-to-face talks with South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-Koo. Seoul is the second leg of his two-nation trip that will also take him to Japan from April 7-9.

U.S. officials have said that Carter's trip is meaningful in that the two Asian allies are the destination of his first bilateral visits since taking office earlier this year, except for his trip to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. In Seoul, he is expected to reaffirm the U.S. security commitment to the South.
Source : Yonhap News

Russia: THAAD a Threat to Regional Security

Sticking with THAAD; Russia's new ambassador to South Korea said on Thursday that Russia sees the possible deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in South Korea as a regional threat that could spark an arms race. "Washington's move to deploy THAAD on the Korean Peninsula poses security threats not only to Russia but also to the region as a whole," Timonin said in an interview with Yonhap News Agency. "We see the deployment itself is a threat to security in the region."

Timonin continued on to say that the THAAD deployment is feared due to its potential of sparking a new arms race in Northeast Asia and to complicate the resolution of North Korea's nuclear issue."What concerns us is that a U.S. missile defense system could be placed in areas not far from Russia, adding to worries over THAAD's radar system or technology," he said. He expressed hope that South Korea would "carefully" review whether the system has disadvantages rather than advantages.

Russia invited South Korean President Park Geun-hye to its May commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany."The North Korean leader is expected to visit Moscow and may have a chance to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin," he added. Whether Park attends the events is under keen attention due to a possibility of an inter-Korean dialogue outside the divided peninsula. Timonin expressed hope that Park will give a positive answer to the invitation by taking into account all factors, including the friendly relationship between Seoul and Moscow. "It is up to the leaders from the two Koreas to decide over the inter-Korean talks. (If they visit Russia and agree to hold such talks), Russia could make efforts to create favorable environments (for the dialogue)," he said.

When it comes to the six-party talks on the North's nuclear program, Timonin said North Korea is "willing and ready" to have such dialogue, stressing the need to resume the talks without preconditions. "All of the six parties should resume the denuclearization talks as early as possible based on principles laid out at a joint statement on Sept. 19, 2005," he said. At that time, the North had agreed to end its nuclear programs in exchange for aid and security guarantees.

Recently, North Korea has been seen to reach out to Russia to break away from its international isolation, which analysts say results from Pyongyang's strained ties with China. Timonin described the growing Moscow-Pyeongyang exchanges as “natural”. However, he was quick to reject speculation that Russian and North Korea are deepening their military cooperation; "There is no military cooperation. There have been also no a joint military exercise."
Source : Yonhap News

N. Korea Declares Boycott of Denuclearization Talks

Expectations of a thaw in the icy inter-Korean relations on the back of the suspension of the anti-Pyongyang leaflet distribution campaign are turning out to be short-lived, as there are still impediments to improvement in relations.

The latest stumbling block appeared Tuesday as a North Korean envoy to the United Nations (U.N.) reiterated the reclusive state's stance against its denuclearization. The Voice of America (VOA) reports that North Korea has declared a boycott of any negotiations aimed at disarming the regime of nuclear weapons. An official of the North’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations told the U.S. broadcaster Tuesday that the country will never abandon its nuclear ambitions. The North Korean diplomat also said his country would only give up its program after the denuclearization of the rest of the world, including the United States. The official said the North will not accept a request to return to the six-party talks as the regime does not expect the talks to produce substantial results given Washington’s hostile policy toward the North.

The North’s announcement comes after the other five parties of the six-way nuclear negotiations agreed in late February on the need for “exploratory talks.” Despite the Pyongyang’s latest refusal, efforts continue to revive the long-stalled talks as the U.S. State Department said its point man on North Korea, Sung Kim, will be meeting with his Russian counterpart, Igor Morgulov, in Moscow on Wednesday.

A spokesperson of the United States Department of State was quoted by the VOA as reiterating Washington’s stance that the North is required to dismantle its nuclear program and dispose of nuclear weapons in accordance with resolutions by the UN Security Council.

On top of this the two Korea’s are already currently butting heads over other issues such as a wages dispute at the Kaeseong industrial complex, the UN’s plan to establish a field office in Seoul to monitor human rights in the North, and Pyongyang’s recent arrest of two South Koreans on espionage charges.
Source : KBS News, The Korea Times

Our readers may also be interested in the following articles:

The Kyunghyang Shinmun's article on the importance o healthy Chinese-N. Korea relations in order to improve inter-Korean relations:Kyunghyang Shinmun

A related article on cooling China-N. Korea relations re-posted by Stephen Haggard on his blog 'North Korea: Witness to Transformation' :North Korea: Witness to Transformation

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