PN's Voice 70

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PN's Voice 70, 04-02-2016
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PN's Voice No. 70   04. 02. 2016 
Small steps, Road to peace

Former N. Korean Army Chief: Satellite Program Really for Nuclear ICBM

Recent reports from KBS News suggest that the alarm and focus surrounding North Korea’s space program is potentially with good reason. A voice recording of a former key North Korean military commander, recently obtained by KBS news, shows Ri Yong-ho, the former DPRK army chief, candidly explaining that Pyongyang's space program is only a disguise. This lends more credence to rising concerns that the North's notification of a rocket launch this month is in fact a ruse to test ballistic missile technologies.

Before he was purged in 2012, then-Army Chief Ri held a lecture for high-ranking officials in Pyongyang to explain that the regime's satellite program is aimed at placing a nuclear warhead on long-range intercontinental ballistic missiles. The audio clip reveals Ri saying the following in that lecture; “Firing a satellite is the same as firing a rocket weapon. Putting a nuclear warhead on that rocket means we can fire it to the continental U.S. That’s why we remain confident… We have nuclear weapons. Americans say we're not a nuclear state. We are a nuclear state no matter what they say.”
Ri’s proximity to the North Korean decision makers is highlighted by the fact that Ri was one of eight people, including current leader Kim Jong-un, who walked alongside the limousine carrying Kim Jong-il's casket during his funeral ceremony in 2011.

The lecture by the ex-chief goes against North Korea's claims through state-media that its rocket program is for peaceful space exploration. Experts say that Ri’s comments at the lecture add weight to assertions that the North is unlikely to scrap its nuclear weapons development program.
Source : KBS News, Yonhap News

Defense Minister: N. Korea's Rocket Launch Move Escalates Tensions

North Korea is ramping up military tensions with South Korea with its moves to carry out a long-range missile test, according to South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo, as Pyongyang took a preparatory step to launch a long-range missile. On Tuesday, North Korea notified international maritime and telecommunication agencies of its plan to launch what it claims will be a satellite sometime between Feb. 8 and 25. On the same day, Wu Dawei, China’s Special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs and that country’s chief envoy to the six-party talks, paid a visit to North Korea. The outside world regards the launch as a cover for the country's test of ballistic missile technology, which is basically the same technology used in launching space vehicles into orbit.
"Military tensions are continuing after North Korea's recent fourth nuclear test," Han said in a meeting with members of a defense policy advisory committee earlier in the day. "North Korea has further escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula with its notification of a long-range missile launch at a time when the United Nations is discussing punitive sanctions," the defense minister said.
In reaction, South Korea and the U.S. will "strengthen capabilities to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threats," the top defense official said.
Source : Yonhap News, The Hankyoreh

US Struggles With North Korea Response

Although the U.S. and other world powers have sharply criticized North Korea for conducting a fourth nuclear test and announcing plans to launch an “observation satellite,” there is wide disagreement over what steps should be taken to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile ambitions.
The U.S. Congress moved to impose additional sanctions on North Korea after it said it had carried out a successful test of a hydrogen bomb, last month. The House of Representatives passed a bill designed to make it more difficult for Pyongyang to get the hard currency that it needs for its nuclear weapons program. But analysts say sanctions alone are no game-changer when it comes to efforts to curb what world powers view as North Korea’s provocative actions. “I don’t think anyone in the United States government believes that the mere imposition of heightened sanctions will in some measure automatically get North Korea to alter its behavior,” said Jonathan Pollack, an East Asia policy analyst at a Wednesday forum at the Brookings Institution.

Analyst Katherine Moon of the Brookings Institution said a new approach is needed to get North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s attention. “North Korea is trying new things, different things. I feel like we are the ones, outside of North Korea, that are responding with the same things,” said Moon. Moon added there has been little change in how the U.S. responds to North Korea because there is a lack of a clear policy about “what to do with North Korea.” “Whatever we have been saying, it has not been working,” said Moon. “Yet, we won’t admit that it is not working and move on to something different."
In the end, the U.S. and other world powers may have few new options to consider as they weigh their response to the provocations. “We are moving out of our comfort zone of currently existing efforts to deter action by the north,” said Sheila Smith, a regional analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations. “Pretty soon, the alliances really do have to come to grips with the fact that they are going to have to deal with a very different Pyongyang if we allow it to go much further,” she said.
Source : Voice of America

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