In the News – U.S. House passes bill recommending tactical nukes in S. Korea

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In the News – U.S. House passes bill recommending tactical nukes in S. Korea

WASHINGTON, May 18 (Yonhap) — The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed the 2013 national defense authorization bill that recommends the redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula.

The non-binding amendment approved by the House reflects the Republican Party’s push to get the incumbent Obama administration to take a firmer stance against North Korea’s nuclear weapons threat.

The Republicans who control the House have also hinted that the redeployment of short-range, low yield nukes in South Korea and other parts of Northeast Asia could help nudge China into pressuring North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions. Conservative lawmakers in Washington have been frustrated by China’s reluctance to push North Korea on the nuclear issue.

Despite the passage of the amendment, both the U.S. State and Defense departments said Washington is committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The White House also said it could veto the bill, while Seoul officially said any deployment of nuclear weapons would run counter to the 1992 inter-Korean declaration on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

South Korea’s military added that such a move would work against ongoing efforts to get North Korea to give up its own nuclear weapons program.

Before the early 1990s, the U.S. stockpiled tactical nukes, such as the very short range Honest John surface-to-surface missile, nuclear artillery rounds, and bombs that could be dropped from attack aircraft, in the South to deter North Korean aggression.

The passage of the bill in the House follows the motion being approved by the House Armed Services Committee on May 9.

Congressional sources said another amendment that opposed recommending the redeployment of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula forwarded by a Democratic lawmaker was rejected.

Original article can be found here.

In the News – U.S. House passes bill on N. Korean human rights

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In the News – U.S. House passes bill on N. Korean human rights

By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, May 15 (Yonhap) — The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday calling for bipartisan efforts to address North Korea’s human rights violations, according to a congressional source.

Members of the House approved by voice vote the legislation on extending until 2017 the authority of the North Korean Human Rights Act, added the source.

The act provides the legal ground for the U.S. government’s financial support for radio stations broadcasting to North Korea and the appointment of a special envoy on the North’s human rights issues.

The reauthorization bill notes that, “Although the transition to the leadership of Kim Jong-un after the death of Kim Jong-il has introduced new uncertainties and possibilities, the fundamental human rights and humanitarian conditions inside North Korea remains deplorable and North Korean refugees remain acutely vulnerable.”

It also urges China to immediately halt its forcible repatriation of North Koreans.

The Senate is also expected to approve the bill without a major dispute, the source said.

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – Defense reform bills fail to pass in parliament

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In the News – Defense reform bills fail to pass in parliament

SEOUL, April 20 (Yonhap) — A South Korean parliamentary committee dealing with national defense failed Friday to pass a set of reform bills aimed at bolstering military readiness against North Korean provocations, as the meeting lacked a quorum.

Only six of the minimum nine lawmakers needed to reach a quorum attended the meeting of the National Defense Committee, making it unlikely the bills will pass in the outgoing National Assembly before its term ends next month. The committee has 17 members.

The reform plans centered on making the military’s command structure more efficient, and giving the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff more power to control the Army, Navy and Air Force.

Reforming the military has been one of the government’s top policy goals, especially since North Korea’s two deadly attacks on the South in 2010.

“(We) tried to pass urgent bills such as those related to defense reforms during our final meeting today, but it is regrettable that the meeting could not proceed smoothly due to the aftereffects of the April 11 parliamentary elections,” said Rep. Won Yoo-chul of the ruling Saenuri Pary, who chairs the committee.

The defense reform bills had been pending in parliament for 11 months mainly due to fierce opposition from opposition parties over their possible destabilizing effects.

 

Original article can be found here.

North Korean Human Rights Bill: What Happened?

Last month I wrote about the United Nation’s resolution for North Korean human rights. In this article I also mentioned South Korea’s attempt at a similar resolution, the North Korean Human Rights Act. The bill was first introduced in 2005, again in 2008, and yet again in 2011. When I wrote the article on the U.N. resolution, it was still unclear as to what the Korean National Assembly may decide to do with the bill. But with the term of the incumbent National Assembly coming to an end, it seems that the bill will once again be shoved into the dark and forgotten.

It looked as if there may finally be some hope for the bill when it was passed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and also by the Ministry of Unification back in February of last year. But that’s as far as it has gotten since then. Its passage was fervently blocked by opposition party leaders who were concerned that it might anger North Korea. Continue reading