PN's Voice 113

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 113, 27.04.2017
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PN's Voice No. 113,  27. 04. 2017 
Small steps, Road to peace

Trump Gov't Announces 1st N. Korea Policy Directions

In a joint statement by top U.S. security policymakers Washington has announced it aims to deal with North Korea’s nuclear program through tighter sanctions and diplomatic channels. The announcement followed the White House’s rare briefing for the entire Senate on the situation in the North.

The Donald Trump administration on Wednesday announced its aim to pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear and ballistic missile programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with its allies and regional partners. The approach was revealed in a joint statement issued by U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coates.

The statement said the U.S. seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. It adding the U.S. remains open to negotiations towards that goal but clarified it is also prepared to defend itself and its allies. Declaring that past efforts have failed to halt North Korea's unlawful weapons programs and nuclear and ballistic missile tests, it said the North’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is “an urgent national security threat and top foreign policy priority” for the U.S.

The statement also said it will call on other nations to pressure the North to lower its nuclear threats gradually and return to dialogue. It said the U.S. will cooperate to safeguard regional stability and prosperity, and maintain harmony and cooperation with its allies including South Korea and Japan. It is the first joint statement issued by the U.S. government on North Korea since the inauguration of the Trump administration in January.
Source : KBS News, The Korea Times

U.S. Pacific Commander: THAAD will be Operational in Days

The THAAD missile defence system being installed in South Korea will become operational "in the coming days," Adm. Harry Harris, the U.S. Pacific commander, said on Wednesday. "The ROK-U.S. alliance decided last July to deploy THAAD… (it) will be operational in the coming days and able to better defend South Korea against the growing North Korea threat" Harris said.

Reports surfacing in the South Korean media on Thursday revealed that the first battery of THAAD had been installed in the dead of night on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Local Seongju residents, who were tipped off about the instalment, came out in force to protest and clashed with an estimated 8,000 police officers.

Harris responded to Beijing’s economic retaliatory measures against South Korean firms over THAAD by saying "I find it preposterous that China would try to influence South Korea to not get a weapon's system that's completely defensive against the very country that's allied with China…So if China wants to do something constructive then they ought to focus less, in my opinion, on South Korea's defensive preparations and focus instead more on North Korea's offensive preparations."

Harris also reiterated Washington’s stance on North Korea, as already stated by Trump, Tillerson and Pence, by saying all options are on the table in dealing with the North, he added that these options included s "a lot of pre-emptive options.” Harris stressed that the U.S> hoped it could bring the North Korean leader “to his senses, not to his knees.”
Source : The Guardian, JoongAng Daily

S. Korea-U.S. Conduct Joint Live-Fire Drill

South Korea and the U.S. have conducted a joint live-fire drill, amid increased threats of provocations from North Korea. Seoul’s Ministry of National Defense said the two allies conducted the drill in Pocheon, Gyeonggi Province on Wednesday, involving more than two-thousand South Korean and American troops and around 250 state-of-the-art fighter jets and armored vehicles. Around 100 rocket systems were involved, while special forces from the two countries attended training on the ground.
Source : KBS News

U.S. Submarine arrives in South Korea

A US submarine has arrived in South Korea, amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula and fears over a potential further North Korean missile or nuclear test The submarine is expected to take part in military exercises with the Carl Vinson warship group, which the US said it was dispatching to North Korea earlier this month to "maintain readiness" in the region. At the time, Mr Trump said that he was sending an "armada" to the region and that the US had submarines which were "very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier". Pyongyang reacted angrily to the aircraft carrier deployment, threatening to sink it and launch a "super-mighty pre-emptive strike" against what it called US aggression. However, the US warships caused some confusion and attracted mockery when it emerged that they actually sailed in the opposite direction, away from North Korea, after the announcement. However, US Navy officials said they are now proceeding to the region as ordered.

The USS Michigan docked at South Korea's Busan port on Tuesday, in what it called a routine visit. While the US submarine docking in South Korea is a routine event, this time of heightened tension it has extra significance. Pyongyang remains defiant, including of China, warning that if it helped the US, the results would be "catastrophic". What this all adds up to depends on whether President Trump has rejected the advice given to his predecessors that attacking North Korea could provoke an attack on Seoul, with one expert saying there could be tens of thousands of deaths on the first day.
Source : BBC News

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