NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 17 (August 21, 2008) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)
North Korea Calls for End to S. Korea-U.S. Joint Military Exercises
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's Army on Aug. 18 called for an immediate stop to U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises on the day they started, warning it will deal a resolute counterblow.
According to the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency, a spokesman for the Panmunjom Mission of the (North) Korean People's Army (KPA) released a statement denouncing the Ulji Freedom Guardian South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises that kicked off in the morning of that day.
Panmunjom is a truce village between the South and the North.
The South's military is taking initiative for the first time from this year in the five-day Ulji Freedom Guardian exercises, as opposed to the former annual joint exercises called Ulji Focus Lens that started in 1976.
The statement called the exercises "projected reckless war maneuvers" to invade the North, though the U.S. and the South notified the North beforehand of the "defensive" exercises against a "contingency" on the Korean Peninsula.
It also added that the KPA will not be an onlooker to the "crafty trick of the U.S. to stifle the DPRK (North Korea) militarily behind the scenes while talking about 'the realization of the denuclearization.'"
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, which deals with inter-Korean relations under the North's ruling Workers' Party, issued a similar statement.
"There is the grim prospect of settling the nuclear issue and improving inter-Korean relations due to the reckless and dangerous moves of the U.S. and the Lee Myung-bak group to invade the DPRK," he added.
Pyongyang Slams Bush for Raising North Korean Human Rights Issue
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official news outlet on Aug. 18 slammed the United States for again raising allegations of violations of human rights in the communist state, warning that such a "provocative" act is aimed at scuttling the North's denuclearization process.
The (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, "We categorically dismiss this as a premeditated act of the U.S. to deliberately throw a hurdle in the process of the six-way talks." The six-party talks are comprised of the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia.
Such a response from the North came after U.S. President George W. Bush said he would handle the "human rights issue" as "an element for negotiations with North Korea" after his summit with his South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-bak on Aug. 6.
The KCNA did not specifically name the summit, but mentioned "Bush's junket to Asian countries."
"As far as the 'human rights issue' touted by the U.S. is concerned, it is a trite method it employed whenever it felt it necessary to delay or scuttle the talks in a bid to pursue its hostile policy toward the DPRK (North Korea)," the KCNA said.
"The U.S. raised the 'human rights issue' before the deadline it set as regards the delisting of the DPRK as a 'state sponsor of terrorism,'" the KCNA said. "Lurking behind this is its sinister intention to shirk off the responsibility for the delayed implementation of the agreement onto the DPRK."
The U.S. did not delist the North from its state terrorism list on Aug. 11 after the 45-day notification period to the Congress, citing the North's failure to agree to the process of verifying its nuclear declaration.
N. Korea Denounces U.S. for Hold On Delisting
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Aug. 18 accused the U.S. of violating a six-party denuclearization deal, criticizing Washington for delaying its removal from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.
The Bush administration notified Congress of its intent to rescind the designation of the communist nation as a state sponsor of terror shortly after June 26, when Pyongyang submitted a list detailing its nuclear programs under the six-party deal signed last year. The other signatories are South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan.
A related 45-day process ended on Aug. 11 without opposition from Congress on the plan to delist the North. The administration, however, said it has decided to leave the North on the blacklist until a mechanism to verify Pyongyang's nuclear declaration can be agreed upon.
The North received a four-page draft verification protocol in the latest round of the six-way talks in July, which included interviews, on-site visits and materials sampling. Pyongyang is refusing to accept some of the proposed terms, according to South Korean officials.
"As already known, the DPRK submitted an accurate and complete nuclear declaration according to the October 3 agreement of the six-party talks," the country's official news agency said in a commentary, using the abbreviation for the North's official name -- the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. "The U.S., however, has not honored its commitment to write the DPRK off the list of 'state sponsors of terrorism,' a key political compensation in concluding the implementation of the agreement, although the date it promised to do so has already passed."
"This is obviously a violation of the principle of 'action for action' essential for realizing denuclearization," it added.
The North also claimed that the denuclearization process has been jeopardized by Washington's continued "slandering" of Pyongyang over its human rights record.
"The 'human rights' ruckus again kicked up by the U.S. is a product of its deliberate scheme to deter the six-party talks from making progress and completely scuttle the denuclearization process on the Korean Peninsula," it said. "Explicitly speaking, there is no 'human rights issue' ... in the DPRK."
In his latest Asian tour earlier this month, U.S. President George W. Bush again urged the North to address its human rights condition.
"The human rights abuses inside the country still exist and persist," Bush told reporters after his summit with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, saying that it is a reason why North Korea remains on the list.
North Korea, Russia Cooperate in Rebuilding Border Railways, Port
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea and Russia began to produce results in cooperation for rebuilding railways and a port in the North's northeastern area bordering far-eastern Russia, the North's news outlet said on Aug. 19, saying it will be conducive to bilateral development, including economic cooperation.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, "An agreement on cooperation between railway bodies of the two countries for the reconstruction of the Rajin-Tuman (Tumen) River railways and Rajin Port was signed, and a contract on a joint venture for Rajin Port was concluded in Moscow in April."
Rajin is a warm-water port, which the Eurasian country has historically coveted. Russia also wants to connect its Trans Siberian Railways (TSR) with the Trans Korean Railways (TKR), also involving the South, in the long-term.
"In early August, a contract on leasing the Rajin-Tuman River railways was concluded in Pyongyang," the KCNA said. "Both sides also formed a board of directors of the Rason Transnational Container Transport JVC and appointed the president and the vice president of the company."
The KCNA said the preparations for groundbreaking for the reconstruction is proceeding, and the North Korea-Russia cooperation in the area of Rason has entered a full-fledged practical phase.
Meanwhile, the Washington-based Voice of Russia said on the same day that North Korea's Rason District agreed to the protocol on a joint border guard in Vladivostok to prevent the North's boats from fishing illegally in the nearby Russian sea.
N. Korea Criticizes S. Korean President Over War Drill
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea heavily criticized South Korean President Lee Myung-bak Aug. 19, accusing him of talking about peace while simultaneously preparing for war amid Seoul's large-scale joint military drill with the United States.
President Lee's Aug. 15 Liberation Day speech calling for the resumption of dialogue and progress in economic cooperation with the North was followed by the beginning of the joint drill called Ulchi Freedom Guardian three days later, said Minju Joson, organ of the North's Cabinet.
"This shows what Lee means by 'dialogue' and 'peace,'" the newspaper said, calling the annual drill "a criminal act aggravating ties" between the two Koreas.
Lee gave the speech to commemorate the 63rd year of Korea's liberation from Japanese colonial rule, and the 60th year since the Republic of Korea was founded.
The South Korea-U.S. joint drill, which was first carried out in 1975, is a computer-simulated war game aimed at fostering joint defense capability against a possible North Korean attack.
About 56,000 South Korean troops and 10,000 U.S. troops will join the exercises that last until Friday, according to the South's military.
Pyongyang cut off official talks with Seoul about a month after the South's conservative and pro-U.S. President Lee assumed office in late February. Tension has risen recently as the North refused to cooperate in South Korea's investigation into the fatal shooting of a South Korean woman by a North Korean soldier during her visit to a mountain resort in the North last month.
The North's daily blamed Lee for the frozen ties and claimed that he merely "talks about dialogue to avoid public criticism" on his policy.