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2008/12/18 11:24 KST
NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 34 (December 18, 2008)

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)

N. Korea Urges U.S. to Do Away with Nuclear 'Double Standard'

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea pressed the U.S. government on Dec. 9 to scrap what it called a "double standard" on peaceful nuclear activities.

   The U.S. "condones, protects and cooperates with the nuclear activities of countries it favors but then preposterously tries oppress and impose sanctions against activities by nations it does not favor," Minju Joson, the mouthpiece of the North Korean Cabinet, said in a commentary.

   "The U.S. is employing an unfair double standard," said the article, which was carried two days later by Uriminzokkiri, the official Web site of the North Korean government.

   The U.S. has supported Israel's nuclear arms ambitions and condoned Japan's plutonium stockpiling, in sharp contrast to its criminalization of Iran and Syria for their nuclear activities, the daily said.

   "Members of the international community have the right to conduct peaceful nuclear activities," it said. "Mindful of the grave consequences that its unjust double standards would bring about, the U.S. should immediately drop its arbitrary and anachronistic stance," it claimed.

   A four-day session of six-party on North Korea's denuclearization ended last Thursday with no agreement on verification procedures for Pyongyang's June declaration.

   North Korea refused to accept a Chinese proposal to allow international inspectors to take samples from its main nuclear complex to verify its past nuclear activities, according to South Korean officials.


N. Korea Slams Seoul-backed Human Rights Laws

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea slammed South Korea's ruling conservative party on Dec. 14 for pushing legislation that would amplify outward criticism of human rights in the North, calling it an "act of anti-unification."
Two legislators from the Grand National Party have each proposed motions that would expand Seoul's role in denouncing human rights conditions in the North.

   The bills call on the government to provide conservative activist groups with up to 300 million won (US$218,000) to aid them in making and sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the inter-Korean border.

   An increase in leafleting by South Korean groups has drawn a backlash from Pyongyang and contributed to worsening cross-border relations.

   "Those are poisonous laws that imitate the anti-North Korea laws in the United States," Tongil Shinbo, Pyongyang's weekly magazine, said of the proposed legislation. "It goes without saying what will happen to the relationship between the two Koreas after such laws are established."

   Conservative activists in Seoul, many of whom are family members of South Koreans abducted by the North, often fly balloons into North Korea laden with leaflets denouncing the socialist regime and calling for North Koreans to defect to the South.

   Civic groups said earlier this month they will "temporarily" suspend spreading the flyers to join government efforts to thaw chilling ties with Pyongyang.

   The laws are currently pending in Seoul's parliament. They also call for restoring a propaganda radio broadcast aimed at North Korea that was shut down under a 2003 joint agreement.


Future Relations Depends on U.S. Attitude: N. Korea

SEOUL, Dec. 15 (Yonhap) - North Korea said on Dec. 15 that the nature of its relations with the United States will depend largely upon the latter's attitude, and accused hardliners in Washington. of seeking military means to end the socialist state's nuclear program.

   A U.S. Senate committee in a recent report recommended that the U.S. government make all efforts -- including military action if necessary -- to deter North Korea from developing nuclear weapons.

   "Needless to say, the report glaringly reveals the intention of the U.S. bellicose forces to step up their hard-line military policy toward the DPRK (North Kore)," Rodong Sinmun, the organ of North Korea's Workers' Party, said in a commentary quoted by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

   "The 'military threat' from the DPRK on the lips of the U.S. bellicose forces is sheer fiction and sophism to justify their policy of aggression towards the DPRK and their reactionary 'war on terrorism'," it said.

   North Korea warned the U.S. against intensifying its "hostile" policies, saying Pyongyang would be forced to resort to its "self-defensive" capabilities in such a scenario.


Egypt's Telecom Company Chairman Visits Pyongyang

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The chairman of Egypt's Orascom Telecom Holding, the Islamic world's largest mobile phone service provider, visited North Korea, the country's media said on Dec. 15.

   "A delegation from Orascom Telecom Holding of Egypt, headed by its Chairman and CEO Naguib Sawiris, arrived in Pyongyang by air on Dec. 15," the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a short dispatch from Pyongyang.

   The media did not disclose the purpose of Sawiris' visit, but it appears to be related to the company's reported plan to launch mobile phone services in the reclusive nation starting the same day.

   Orascom Telecom spokeswoman Rasha Mohamed was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that the service would be launched on Dec. 15.

   Under the terms of the deal reached in January, Orascom will invest $400 million in network infrastructure over the first three years to develop an advanced cellular phone network in the capital Pyongyang and other major cities in the country, the report said.


N. Korea Condemns Japan as 'Irresponsible' on Fuel Aid

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea condemned Japan on Dec. 16 for "irresponsibly" failing to provide energy aid it promised under a nuclear deal.

   The condemnation came in a commentary of the North's ruling Workers' Party publication the Rodong Sinmun, carried by the (North) Korean Central News Agency.

   "The Oct. 3 agreement stipulates that the five negotiating parties, including Japan, must provide economic reward such as energy provision... but only Japan is refusing to implement its duty in violation of the agreement," Rodong Sinmun said.

   The daily accused Japan of trying to pass the buck to third countries and claimed the "malicious slanderer" is destined to lose its place in the six-party negotiations.

   The North was promised 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil or their equivalent in return for disabling its main nuclear complex and providing a list of its nuclear programs under a six-party agreement signed in October last year.

   Just over half of the promised aid has been delivered so far. Japan refuses to pay its share of the cost unless Pyongyang fully addresses concerns about Japanese nationals kidnapped by North Korean agents in the 1970s and 80s.

   Australia and New Zealand have been approached to make up for the shortfall of about 200,000 tons of fuel oil. Japan has reportedly said it does not oppose the countries' participation in energy provision.