PN's Voice 37

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PN's Voice 37, 09-04-2015
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PN's Voice No. 37, 09.04.2015 
Small steps, Road to peace 


U.S. Defense Secretary Carter Set to Arrive in Seoul Today

The United States secretary of defense will arrive in South Korea today for a three-day visit. Ashton Carter, who is making his first trip to the peninsula since his inauguration, will meet Defense Minister Han Min-koo on Friday. Their discussions will focus on strengthening deterrence against North Korea as well as the transfer of wartime operational control of South Korean troops from Washington to Seoul.

Following their discussions, Carter will visit the Navy’s Second Fleet Command in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province where the Cheonan vessel is memorialized. In a first for a U.S. defense secretary, Carter will pay tribute to the sailors who died when North Korea torpedoed the warship. During his Senate confirmation hearing in February, Carter said he planned to strengthen the U.S. missile defense system against the North. However, it remains to be seen if the possible deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery on Korean soil will come up during his visit.

A high-level South Korean defense ministry official said that although THAAD isn’t on the official agenda, it is difficult to predict whether the defense chiefs will discuss the more comprehensive Integrated Air and Missile Defense System (IAMD), a defense mechanism that could simultaneously respond to missile and aircraft threats.
Source : KBS News


N. Korea Fires 2 Missiles Off Western Coast

North Korea fired two short-range missiles off its western coast today, ahead of the Seoul arrival of Ashton Carter. An official of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Thursday that two surface-to-air missiles, presumed to be KN-06, were fired from Hwajin-ri, Pyongwon County in South Pyongan Province on Tuesday. The official said the missiles flew only dozens of kilometers before plunging into the sea, adding the North appeared to be test-firing the missiles as it has often been observed doing in live-fire drills.

The official said, however, the South Korean military is keeping a close eye on the North Korean military ahead of a scheduled defense ministers’ meeting between Seoul and Washington.
Source : KBS News


Seoul, Washington & Tokyo to Hold Security Meeting Next Week

Korea and Japan are expected to hold a trilateral security meeting with the United States next week, although Tokyo's recent territorial claims over Dokdo have worsened ties between the two neighbors. According to a diplomatic source, the three countries are discussing the date for the vice foreign ministerial-level meeting set to take place in Washington D.C. The source said the three nations are expected to share their thoughts on issues related to North Korea's nuclear program and regional security in Northeast Asia. In addition, deputy defense minister-level officials of the three countries are scheduled to hold their annual Defense Trilateral Talks in the U.S. capital to enhance their cooperation on missile defense and other military affairs.

The trilateral meeting might offer a chance for Japan and South Korea to try and repair their fraying relationship. In addition to the long running issues of the territorial dispute over Dokdo and the unresolved issue of the so called ‘comfort women’, Tokyo has infuriated Seoul with this week’s release of a Diplomatic Bluebook. The 2015 Diplomatic Bluebook removed a phrase about South Korea being a “key regional partner” that shares “the same values” with Japan. The Bluebook also states Dokdo, which Japan calls Takeshima, was its territory historically and under international law. The conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet released the document after its education ministry irked Seoul Monday with a review of 18 middle school textbooks. All 18 textbooks, which will be used in school classes from July at the earliest, contain Tokyo's argument that it has sovereignty over Dokdo and Korea has taken control over the islets illegally.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned Japanese Ambassador to Seoul Koro Bessho, Monday, and his deputy Kenji Kanasugi, Tuesday to protest Tokyo's provocative moves. The Abe administration declined to accept the protest.
Source : The Korea Times


Pentagon Stands Behind Commander's Assessment on N. Korean Nuclear Capability

The U.S. Defense Department stands by an assessment from a top military commander that North Korea is capable of building a nuclear weapon small enough to fit atop its new KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile and firing it at the U.S. mainland, a Pentagon official said on Wednesday. The remark runs counter to the South Korean Defense Ministry's insistence that the assessment from Adm. William Gortney, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, is different from the official assessment. of the U.S. government.

"We stand behind Adm. Gortney's statement," a Pentagon official told Yonhap News Agency by phone. Gortney made the remark during a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday, saying he believes the North has "the ability to put it on -- a nuclear weapon on a KN-08 and shoot it at the homeland." It was the latest in a series of similar assessments by U.S. military commanders. Last month, Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that he believes the North has "already miniaturized" some of its nuclear weapons. Similarly in October, Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, said that as USFK commander he assumes the North has the capabilities to miniaturize nuclear warheads and that the country has "the technology to potentially actually deliver what they say they have."

The road-mobile KN-08, though untested, is believed to have a range of at least 5,500 km, which puts Alaska at risk. U.S. officials, including Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, have expressed concern about the missile, saying the missile is harder to keep an eye on as it can be launched from mobile launchers..
Source : Voice of America, The Korea Herald, Yonhap News


Our readers may also be interested in the following articles:

Peace Network’s Kwon Ki-ho’s recent article on the debate over THAAD that was published in The Korea Times:The Korea Times

38 North’s latest offering in their series of reports on the North Korean nuclear issue. This article focuses on future delivery systems:38 North

The Wall Street Journal’s “5 Reasons Why the Iran Framework Isn’t a Template for North Korea:The Wall Street Journal

The Guardian’s article on the danger North Korean defectors’ families who remain behind in the North are faced with:The Guardian


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