PN's Voice 80

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PN's Voice 80, 21-04-2016
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PN's Voice No. 80   21. 04. 2016 
Small steps, Road to peace

SK Defense Minister: SK: North Korea's Fifth Nuclear Test is Imminent

North Korea is likely to conduct its fifth nuclear test soon, possibly before its party congress in early May, a media report said last Sunday, citing South Korean government sources based on their reading of activity around the test site. The likelihood of North Korea conducting a fifth nuclear test, possibly within weeks, had increased because of a failed missile launch on Friday that was an embarrassing setback for leader Kim, South Korean officials and international experts said.

“Compared to last month, the frequency of vehicle, workforce and equipment movements increased two to threefold recently,” Yonhap news agency said, quoting multiple government sources.

The possible test, if it happens, follows a fourth nuclear test in January and along-range rocket launch in February, which led to new UN sanctions that have failed to halt Pyongyang’s weapons programmes. South Korea’s military has said Pyongyang is technically ready for an additional nuclear test, depending on its leadership’s political decision. The South Korean defence ministry said it could not confirm the report but reiterated that North Korea can conduct its new nuclear test at anytime.
Source : The Guardian, 38 North, Al Jazeera News

5th NK Nuke Test will Bring Enhanced U.S. Military Presence on the Korean Peninsula

The U.S. defense budget bill for next year calls for the government auditor to assess the U.S. Transportation Command's capabilities to rapidly deploy forces to the Korean Peninsula from the mainland U.S. and elsewhere. The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness included the assessment requirement in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, citing "new and increasingly threatening dynamics," according to congressional records. "U.S. and Republic of Korea forces train and plan together to deter and defeat aggression emanating from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. As a result of this longstanding alliance, operational and contingency plans have been codified, coordinated, and exercised," the subcommittee said in the bill.

Plans for rapidly reinforcing U.S. forces already on the peninsula would require the U.S. Transportation Command to undertake the rapid movement to the Korean Peninsula of forces and capabilities currently located in the continental United States and elsewhere, it added.

Also to be assessed were the readiness of the command's air, land and sea assets to carry out its wartime mission and any other issues the comptroller general determines appropriate with respect to the command's support of operations on the peninsula.
Source : Yonhap News, The Korea Times

N. Korean Foreign Minister arrives in New York

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong arrived in New York on Wednesday on his first trip to the United Nations since the reclusive nation sharply escalated tensions with its nuclear test in January. Ri, who was seen in Beijing the previous day, arrived on a flight from Dubai. He is scheduled to attend Friday's signing of a historic U.N. climate agreement, known as the "Paris Agreement," which was adopted in December to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

Speculation had arisen that the trip could provide opportunities for Ri to hold talks with U.S. officials, such as Secretary of State John Kerry amid growing concern that the North could conduct yet another nuclear test. But the State Department dismissed such a possibility. "There is no expectation that the secretary will meet with the North Korean foreign minister. I don't see that happening," State Department spokesman John Kirby said at a Foreign Press Center briefing. Ri could however hold a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, but U.N. officials have said that no such meeting has been fixed.

In 2014, Ri visited New York and attended the U.N. General Assembly, becoming the first North Korean foreign minister to do so in 15 years, and he again attended the General Assembly last year. But this week's trip was seen as unusual as it does not involve General Assembly meetings.
Source : Yonhap News, KBS News

New USFK Chief Reaffirms Nuclear Umbrella Commitment to S. Korea

The commander-designate of U.S. Forces Korea said last Tuesday that removing the “nuclear umbrella” protection over South Korea will likely prompt Seoul’s nuclear armament, adding that the U.S. is looking for a nonnuclear Korean peninsula. Gen. Vincent Brooks, nominated to succeed Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, said that the U.S. nuclear umbrella could be withdrawn in the absence of a nuclear hazard, but stressed that “we’re not at that time now and nor will we be in the near future.”

“It’s my opinion that North Korea is moving in the wrong direction and the changes we’ve seen are all provocative and more dangerous -- their willingness to draw blood, to sink vessels, to fire some of their numerous artillery systems into populated areas, to put land mines outside Republic of Korea (South Korea) camps,” Brooks said. He assessed that the youthful North Korean leader is more “risk-tolerant, arrogant and impulsive” than his predecessor and father Kim Jong-il, which “raises the prospect of miscalculation.”

Brooks also expressed concern about the North’s consistent attempts to acquire intercontinental ballistic missiles, which he said it will eventually get in time. Pyongyang has been struggling to miniaturize nuclear warheads and acquire intermediate to long-range ballistic missile capacities that can threaten the U.S. Pyongyang did fire a mid-range Musudan missile that would have put a U.S. military base in Guam within its range, however, it failed mid-air.

Brooks reassurance over the U.S.’s assurance of South Korean nuclear security came in light of recurring debate over the need for South Korea to develop nuclear weapons upon North Korea’s latest nuclear test by some local observers and even ruling Saenuri Party lawmakers. U.S. Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has also argued that the U.S. should no longer protect wealthy countries like South Korea and Japan, saying the allies could arm themselves with nuclear weapons.
Source : The Korea Herald


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