NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 6 (June 5, 2008) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)
North Korea Strengthens Military Ties with Burundi
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea, which prides itself on its Songun (military-first) politics, invited a military delegation of Burundi and discussed strengthening bilateral ties with the African country in late May.
The North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 29 said the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces hosted a reception for the Burundi delegation on the same day, with Kim Kyok-sik, chief of the General Staff of the (North) Korean People's Army (KPA) and Pak Jae-gyong, vice minister of the People's Armed Forces, in attendance.
The Burundi military delegation led by Samuel Gahiro, chief of the General Staff of the National Defense Army, arrived in Pyongyang on May 28.
At the reception, Kim Kyok-sik said that the Burundi delegation's visit to North Korea would mark an important occasion in developing bilateral understanding and relations between the two armies and peoples, according to the KCNA.
In return, Gahiro said that the delegation came to the DPRK (North Korea) to learn from the successes achieved by the KPA under the wise leadership of respected Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader.
The military delegation visited the Revolutionary Martyrs' Cemetery on Mt. Taesong while laying bouquets before the bust of Kim Jong-suk, Kim Jong-il's mother, on May 29, the KCNA said.
North Korea made diplomatic ties with the small, landlocked African country in 1967.
North Korea Test Fires Short-range Missiles into West Sea
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea fired three short-range missiles in what appeared to be a routine test of its aging missile arsenal, government officials in Seoul said on May 31.
The communist nation on May 30 fired three ship-to-ship missiles, believed to be former Soviet-made Styx with a known range of some 45 kilometers, and two of them appeared to have misfired, the officials said.
The incident marked the second time the North fired short-range missiles this year in the West Sea, where a dispute between the divided Koreas over the maritime border, known as the Northern Limit Line, led to deadly naval clashes in 1999 and 2002.
"As in March, when the North fired several short-range guided missiles, it appears the firing of the missiles was part of a regular exercise to check the performance of the missiles," an official at the Defense Ministry said, asking not to be identified.
"It does not appear to have been aimed at provoking the South, as the missiles were fired northeast toward North Korean land and from far north of the maritime border," the official said.
Pyongyang has significantly intensified its hostility toward Seoul since the inauguration in February of the new Lee Myung-bak administration, which has vowed to take a more hard-line stance toward the North than the previous liberal governments of Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun.
Calling the South Korean president a "traitor," the North's chief delegate to inter-Korean military dialogue on Friday accused the Seoul government and Japanese civic organizations of scattering anti-communist leaflets throughout the North and warned of grave consequences.
"The Japanese reactionaries would be well advised not to forget even for a moment that the army and people of the DPRK (North Korea) are closely following their daily escalating anti-DPRK moves, and Japan's archipelago is within the range of a merciless strike by the revolutionary armed forces of the DPRK," the North Korean said in a letter to his South Korean counterpart, according to a report by the North's Korean Central News Agency.
N.K. Warns U.S. Criticism of It Would Hinder Denuclearization Process
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea warned on May 31 that U.S. criticism of its alleged human rights problems would hinder international efforts to denuclearize the communist country.
In a recent report, the U.S. State Department described North Korea as a "highly militarized society and dictatorship."
"Such behavior of the U.S. side leaves the North skeptical about whether it has a true willingness for peaceful settlement of the nuclear issue," a North Korean Foreign Ministry official said in a statement carried by the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency.
The unidentified North Korean official said the U.S. criticism is "a serious insult to the dialogue partner," and warned that Pyongyang will seriously challenge any U.S. attempt to demolish its socialist system.
Under a series of agreements forged in six-party talks, North Korea has already made significant progress on disabling its nuclear facilities. In another denuclearization step required under the deal, the North is now required to make a full accounting of its nuclear programs.
One day earlier, South Korean nuclear envoy Kim Sook met his North Korean counterpart, Kim Kye-gwan, in Beijing to discuss the progress of the denuclearization process. The South Korean envoy was appointed to the post last month.
The denuclearization deal requires the North to eventually dismantle all of its atomic weapons and programs in exchange for political and economic incentives.
North Korea's nuclear capability is not officially known, but the country is believed to have one or two atomic bombs and enough fission materials to make several more.
N. Korean Leader Congratulates Cuban President on His Birthday: Report
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il on June 3 sent a message of congratulations to Cuban President Raul Castro Ruz on his 77th birthday, North Korea's state-run media said.
"We sincerely wish you will be healthy, happy and achieve more in your works to defend socialist achievements and promote the public wealth," Kim said in the message sent jointly with Kim Yong-nam, chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, who also serves as ceremonial head of state.
In the message carried by the (North) Korean Central News Agency, the North Korean leader was quoted as expressing confidence that the birthday will serve a chance to further develop friendly ties between the two countries.