In the News – N.Korea Denies Imminent Nuclear Test

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In the News – N.Korea Denies Imminent Nuclear Test

North Korea on Tuesday claimed it never planned to conduct a nuclear test and its missile tests were purely for scientific research. A North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said the regime “from the beginning” never envisaged “such a military measure as a nuclear test,” and the aim of a failed rocket launch last month was to put a satellite into orbit for peaceful purposes.

The North was responding to a statement on Saturday from the G8 nations condemning the April 13 rocket launch and pledging tougher UN sanctions against the Stalinist country in response to any further provocations or a nuclear test.

North Korea then accused the U.S. of condemning it without good reason by taking issue with the peaceful satellite launch and of ratcheting up tensions by spreading what it called “rumors” of an impending nuclear test.

But an intelligence official here insisted the North has nearly finished preparations for a third nuclear test at a facility in Punggye-ri, North Hamgyong Province and that the only thing left is for Pyongyang to officially announce the move. “We have learned from U.S. and South Korean intelligence data that a few more specialized vehicles entered the shaft at the Punggye-ri site, proving that the North is preparing for a nuclear test as we speak,” a South Korean military source said.

Citing military think tank IHS Jane’s Defense and Security Intelligence and Analysis, CNN reported Tuesday that afresh activity has been detected at Punggye-ri related to an impending nuclear test. IHS Jane’s analyzed recent photos taken by private satellite operators Digital Globe and GeoEye showing mining cars and other digging equipment near the shaft, and soil and rocks being moved out.

The North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman warned that the regime has no choice but to bolster its nuclear arsenal while the U.S. keeps up “hostile” acts. “If the US persists in its moves to ratchet up sanctions and pressure on us despite our peace-loving efforts, we will be left with no option but to take counter-measures for self-defense,” the spokesman said.

But the denial itself was unusual. Experts speculate the statement was an excuse for the delay of the nuclear test, which was believed to be imminent. “This is related to speculation that North Korea postponed the nuclear test due to pressure from China,” said Yoo Ho-yeol at Korea University. “North Korea is trying to save face by pretending it has not caved into pressure from China but never planned a nuclear test in the first place.”

 

Original article can be found here.

In the News – S.Korea, China, Japan Want Firm Response to N.Korean Rocket Launch

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In the News – S.Korea, China, Japan Want Firm Response to N.Korean Rocket Launch

Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan on Sunday called for a “firm response” from the international community if North Korea goes ahead with the launch of what it claims is a space rocket.

“North Korea’s missile launch will be a clear violation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. We made it clear to China and Japan that the international community needs to respond firmly to North Korea’s breach of its responsibility as a member of the international community.”

Kim’s remark came during a joint press conference after a three-way foreign ministerial meeting in Ningbo, China on Saturday and Sunday. Continue reading

In the News – Clinton urges China to stop repatriation of N. Korean defectors

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In the News – Clinton urges China to stop repatriation of N. Korean defectors

By Lee Chi-dong
WASHINGTON, March 9 (Yonhap) — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear Friday that her government is opposed to the forceful repatriation of North Korean refugees, a breach of international agreements.

“We urge every country to act according to international obligations,” such as the 1951 U.N. refugee convention and the 1967 protocol, Clinton said in a joint press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan after their talks at the State Department building in Washington.

She was responding to a question on China’s policy of sending back North Korean defectors to their authoritarian and impoverished nation. Recently, China has repatriated around 30 North Koreans, according to human rights activists, although there is no government-level confirmation. Continue reading

In the News – U.N. chief voices concern over N. Korean defectors in China

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In the News – U.N. chief voices concern over N. Korean defectors in China

NEW YORK, March 8 (Yonhap) — United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed “deep concern” Thursday over the fate of North Korean defectors in China, which has emerged as a key diplomatic issue between Seoul and Beijing, according to his office.

In a meeting with visiting South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, Ban “shared the deep concern with the Foreign Minister about the dislocated people from the DPRK, and encouraged the concerned parties to do their utmost to find a mutually agreeable solution,” the U.N. leader’s office said in a press release.

South Koreans are increasingly demanding China stop its forceful repatriation of North Korean defectors following media reports that around 30 North Koreans are in custody there and face deportation back to their hunger-stricken homeland.

Ban, formerly a South Korean foreign minister, also reiterated his worries about the severe food and nutrition problems in the North and welcomed some progress in talks between the U.S. and North Korea, Ban’s office said.

The South’s foreign minister, meanwhile, told reporters that the Seoul government and the U.N. agreed to continue consultations over the humanitarian issue in the North.

Kim said Seoul was trying to confirm press reports of the pending repatriation of North Koreans caught by Chinese authorities.

He is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Washington on Friday.

Original article can be found here

In the News – S. Korea keeps up pressure on China over N. Korean defectors

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In the News – S. Korea keeps up pressure on China over N. Korean defectors

SEOUL, March 2 (Yonhap) — South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan urged his Chinese counterpart Friday to deal with North Korean defectors held in China in line with international rules, pressing Beijing not to repatriate them to their homeland where they face severe punishment and even death.

Kim made the request to the visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi when they held talks in Seoul that focused on a wide range of bilateral and regional issues, Seoul officials said.

“During the talks, Minister Kim emphasized that China should respect international laws in dealing with the issue of North Korean defectors, based on a humanitarian perspective and the principle of no forced repatriation,” said a senior Seoul official who took part in the talks. Continue reading