PN's Voice 133

Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 133, 05.04.2018
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PN's Voice No. 133,  05. 04. 2018 
Small steps, Road to peace

NK May Have Shut Down Nuclear Reactor
North Korea may have shut down a nuclear reactor for now, while conducting major construction work nearby, according to 38 North, a US website monitoring the reclusive regime. In the latest commercial satellite imagery from March 30, there were no clearly visible steam plumes coming from the Generator Hall of the 5-megawatt plutonium-producing reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear complex, 38 North said. The North claims the nuclear facilities are aimed at producing electricity, but they have long been suspected of producing weapons-grade plutonium.

The report comes amid hopes for a resolution to the standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. To discuss the regime's denuclearization, South Korean President Moon Jae-in is due to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on April 27. US President Donald Trump is also expected to sit down with Kim before the end of May.

The reactor has provided Pyongyang with plutonium that the regime used in its first three nuclear tests, in 2006, 2009 and 2013. The North conducted its fourth and fifth nuclear tests in January and September 2016, and its sixth and most powerful test last September. 38 North also said work continues on a building adjacent to the Experimental Light Water Reactor (ELWR), "but there are no obvious signs that the reactor is approaching operational status." The New York Times reported last month that the ELWR appeared to be coming online after years of construction, possibly presenting a new challenge to Trump.
Source : 38 North

N. Korea's Top Diplomat to Visit Russia Next Week
North Korea's top diplomat will visit Russia next week, from Monday to Wednesday, to discuss issues surrounding the Korean Peninsula. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho will meet with his counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday. Ri and Lavrov are expected to discuss the two countries' relationship as well as exchange opinions on ways to resolve Korean Peninsula issues ahead of the inter-Korean summit and U.S.-North Korea summit. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that there is no meeting scheduled between Ri and Russian President Vladimir Putin during the visit.
Source : Yonhap News

Presidential Office: Inter-Korean Summit Unlikely to Touch on Economic Cooperation
The presidential office says it won't be easy to raise the issue of economic cooperation during the inter-Korean summit this month. A senior presidential official revealed the stance to reporters on Wednesday after being asked whether the talks would include the issue of constructing a cross-border railway.

The official told reporters that the main agenda of the summit will be the denuclearization and establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula. He then said that issues related to economic cooperation cannot be addressed through inter-Korean agreements at a stage when the levels of UN sanctions are at their highest. The official said he believes economic cooperation issues could be discussed with the support of the UN and the international community after there is progress in denuclearization. The official said that economic cooperation has not been included in the agenda that the summit preparation committee has compiled. 
Source : KBS News


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PN's Voice

Small steps, Road to peace

 

Two Koreas to March under United Korea Flag at Olympics

North and South Korea have agreed to march together under a single "unified Korea" flag at next month's Winter Olympics in PyeongChang next month. They also agreed to field a joint women's ice hockey team in rare talks at the truce village of Panmunjom. These announcements are the result of the first high-level talks between the countries in more than two years. It marks a thaw in relations that began in the new year when North Korea offered to send a team to the games.

If the plans are realized, a hundreds-strong North Korean delegation - including 230 cheerleaders, 140 orchestral musicians and 30 taekwondo athletes - could cross into the South via the land border to attend the Winter Olympics; this will be the first opening of the cross border road in almost two years. The proposed joint womens ice hockey team would represent the first time athletes from both Koreas have competed together in the same team at an Olympic Games.

The agreement will have to be approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Saturday, because North Korea has missed registration deadlines or failed to qualify. South Korea will also need to find ways to host the North Korean delegation without violating any existing UN Security Council sanctions which ban cash transfers to Pyongyang and blacklisting certain senior North officials.

Source: BBC

US S. Korea Confirm Theyre Still on the Same Page

South Korea and the United States confirmed on Thursday that there will be no break in the rotational deployment of high-profile U.S. defence assets to and around the Korean Peninsula. The announcement came after the surprise olive branch offered by North Korea that led to the first inter-Korean talks for 2 years. Resultingly, the North now plans to participate in the PyeongChang Olympics next month.

Concerns had grown that the North's sudden peace offensive could lead to Seoul and Washington butting heads over selecting the correct course of action for dealing with Pyongyang. However, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense confirmed that "In today's meeting, the U.S. side reaffirmed its firm security commitment to the defense of South Korea using all categories of its military capabilities." The two countries have "agreed to continue the rotational deployment of U.S. strategic assets to South Korea and nearby areas as long as North Korea's nuclear and missile threats persist," it added. For South Korean officials and media, U.S. strategic assets usually mean aircraft carriers, nuclear-powered submarines, strategic bombers and stealth fighter jets.

This announcement has been seen by some observers as an attempt to quell fears that Pyongyang is attempting to utilize peace talks as a strategy to drive a wedge between Seoul and Washington.

Source: Yonhap News

South Korea Vows to Continue NK Talks with Clear Eyes

South Korea has said it plans to continue high-level talks with North Korea with "clear eyes" amid global warnings that Pyongyang might be playing for time to continue its nuclear-arms programme. "We have to make the most" of the opportunity said South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha during an interview with the BBC.

The recent talks and announcements about a joint Korean team at the upcoming Olympics come as the US and its allies vowed to keep pressure on the North. On Wednesday US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the recent North Korean suggestion for talks showed that sanctions were "really starting to hurt", expressing confidence that the pressure would eventually force the North to the negotiating table over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. Tillersons thoughts were mirrored by his Japanese counterpart, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, who said the world should not be blinded by Pyongyang's recent "charm offensive". "It is not the time to ease pressure or to reward North Korea," Mr Kono said. "The fact that North Korea is engaging in dialogue could be interpreted as proof that the sanctions are working."

However, Ms. Kang affirmed that South Korea knew what it was doing in relation to its neighbour; "I think we understand North Korea better than anybody, having dealt with North Korea for decades, having had series of discussions off and on. We haven't had any significant engagement in the recent past - but this is an opportunityYou can have all kinds of theories of why there are here (at the talks). There are, obviously, calculations going on the part of the North Korea decision-makers as to their actions. But in the end we have to make the most of it.

  

Source: BBC News

  

Essay Moons Chance to Shine

Please click the link below to access the recent essay by Peace Network researcher Olly Terry on the prospects of President Moon Jae-in taking the opportunity given to him by Pyongyangs rapprochement into significant long-term progress on inter-Korean relations:

Link: Moon's Chance to Shine

  

 

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