PN's Voice 137a
Peace Network Korea
PN's Voice 137, 10.05.2018
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PN's Voice No. 137, 10. 05. 2018
Small steps, Road to peace
U.S. Congress passes defense bill restricting down-scaling of troops in S. Korea
The United States Congress passed a defense authorization bill on Wednesday that limits any potential down-scaling of American troops in South Korea. The “U.S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act” has now been sent to U.S. President Donald Trump to sign into law.
The legislation notes that about 28,500 American troops are currently stationed in South Korea as a demonstration of the U.S. commitment to the bilateral alliance. Their "significant removal" is "a non-negotiable item as it relates to the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization" of North Korea, it says under a section describing the Sense of Senate on U.S. military forces on the Korean Peninsula. In a conference report accompanying the legislation, Congress also prohibits the use of the funds to reduce the troops' number below 22,000 without certification from the secretary of defense that "such a reduction is in the national security interest of the United States and will not significantly undermine the security of United States allies in the region."
The new bill comes as Trump has repeatedly indicated a willingness to eventually pull out American forces from South Korea. Critics say such a move would play into the hands of China and North Korea, which wish to see U.S. troops removed from near their border.
Source : Yonhap News
Despite Improve Relations, NK Suspected of New Missiles Development>
Recent reports suggest that North Korea appears to be building new ballistic missiles despite recent warming ties with the Trump administration and pledges to denuclearize. Unnamed US officials told said that spy satellites had spotted continuing activity at a site that has produced ballistic missiles.
After the of Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, the two men pledged to work towards denuclearization, after which Trump said North Korea was "no longer a nuclear threat". Trump was criticized at home for making concessions without securing any firm commitment from Mr Kim to end the nuclear and missile programmes.
On Monday, the Washington Post newspaper quoted officials as saying North Korea appeared to be building one or two new liquid-fuelled intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) at the Sanumdong facility near the capital, Pyongyang. The factory is known to have produced the Hwasong-15, the first North Korean ICBM capable of reaching the US.
Satellite imagery of the Sanumdong facility shows that the site is "active", Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) told the Washington Post. "[The facility] is not dead, by any stretch of the imagination," said Mr Lewis. "We see shipping containers and vehicles coming and going. This is a facility where they build ICBMs and space-launch vehicles."
Another North Korean expert from MIIS, Melissa Hanham, told the BBC that the facility had "regular traffic in and out of the building", adding that this "traffic pattern" on the site stayed "about the same through the Panmunjom and Singapore meetings". This indicated that there had not been a complete stop in activity during the summit talks.
Source : BBC News
U.S. War Dead Returned by North Korea
The US military held a repatriation ceremony at Osan air base in South Korea. North Korea has returned 55 boxes believed to contain the remains of US troops killed during the Korean War, but included just one military identification tag, US officials say. A forensic expert said initial tests showed the remains were "likely to be American".
"There's no reason at this point to doubt that they do relate to Korean War losses," said John Byrd, a forensic anthropologist working for the Hawaii-based agency in charge of identifying the remains. In 2011, Pyongyang returned purported remains of a British fighter pilot, but they turned out to belong to a dead animal. US officials have indicated that they believe the latest handover is a legitimate offer. The return of US remains was one of four points listed in a joint declaration after the June summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong-un.
The US government has said it wants to resume field operations in North Korea to search for an estimated 5,300 Americans who "have not yet returned home". Between 1990 and 2005, 229 sets of remains were returned to the US, but co-operation halted as relations deteriorated alongside the development of North Korea's nuclear programme.
Source : The Guardian
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