NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 40 (February 5, 2009) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)
North Korea Accuses U.S. of Causing Nuclear Dispute
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Jan. 29 insisted the United States is responsible for the nuclear dispute on the Korean Peninsula, saying its atomic weapons development was triggered by Washington's own nuclear deployment in South Korea over 50 years ago.
The accusation, published by the North's official website Uriminzokkiri, came as six-party talks aimed at ending the North's nuclear weapons program remain stalemated.
"The nuclear dispute on the Korean Peninsula occurred due to the U.S. deployment of nuclear weapons in South Korea," Uriminzokkiri said in a commentary.
It emphasized Jan. 29, 1958 as the date that United States Forces Korea announced the deployment of nuclear arms in South Korea.
The U.S., which fought with South Korea against the North during the 1950-53 war, considered dropping nuclear bombs to end the bloody conflict which had become protracted owing to Chinese intercession on the Northern side. The threat of U.S. nuclear weapons in early 1953, experts say, prompted North Korea and China to agree to a ceasefire in July that year.
The U.S. maintained a nuclear arsenal in South Korea as a deterrent against a possible North Korean invasion until the early 1990s. Following the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula between South and North Korea in 1992, the U.S. withdrew its weapons to encourage the North to give up its nuclear drive.
"History and reality clearly show that it is nobody else but the United States that triggered the nuclear dispute on the Korean Peninsula and generated the danger of a nuclear war," Uriminzokkiri said.
"U.S. ambition for nuclear invasion of North Korea has never changed," it added.
N. Korea Warns Seoul of Military Conflict Amid Tension
SEOUL (Yonhap) --North Korea warned on Feb. 1 that war could break out on the Korean Peninsula if South Korea continues to downplay a series of military and other actions it has recently taken against Seoul.
"Confrontation means escalated tension and it may lead to an uncontrollable and unavoidable military conflict and a war," the North's main newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said in a commentary, carried by the country's Korean Central News Agency.
Despite the North's repeated warnings, there were no unusual movements of troops or weapons on the northern side of the border, according to South Korean officials.
"The North's military is in the midst of its regular winter exercise, but there seems to be nothing noticeably unusual about it," a South Korean Defense Ministry official said, requesting anonymity.
Inter-Korean tension has risen considerably since conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office in Seoul almost a year ago. His recent appointment of a hawkish scholar to head the Unification Ministry has further enraged North Korea.
The Lee administration's "reckless confrontation" with the North "in defiance of the stern warnings" will result in its "final destruction," the North Korean newspaper said.
In an unusual move on Jan. 17, North Korea's military declared an "all-out confrontational posture" against South Korea, warning that armed clashes could recur along a disputed western border, the scene of two naval skirmishes in 1999 and 2002 which resulted in heavy casualties on both sides.
North Korea further ratched up tension by declaring on Jan. 30 that it was abrogating all peace accords with South Korea, including an non-aggression pact it signed with Seoul in 1991.
However, South Korea responded calmly, although it put its military on higher alert.
North Korea Reports British Lawmakers' Arrival
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A British parliamentary delegation arrived in Pyongyang on Feb. 3, the North's news agency said, in a visit coinciding with a rare trip by a U.S. team of former government officials and experts.
The North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the British delegation, led by the House of Lords' David Alton, was greeted by Ri Jong-hyok, deputy to the North's Supreme People's Assembly, in Pyongyang's airport. It did not reveal the purpose of the trip.
Alton is chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on North Korea, a British lawmakers' group aimed at enhancing relations with Pyongyang.
Last week, North Korea sent a delegation of the ruling Workers' Party of (North) Korea to London, which reportedly met with European Union officials and Glyn Ford, a British lawmaker well versed on North Korean issues.
Radio Free Asia, a U.S.-based station, said on Feb. 3 the North Korean party delegation expressed hope for normalizing relations with the EU and acquiring technology to build tidal power plants.
Relations were suspended after the EU submitted a human rights resolution on North Korea to the United Nations in 2005.
N. Korea Says It Supports Iran's Peaceful Nuke Activities
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Feb. 2 reiterated its support for Iran's nuclear activities "for peaceful purposes" after vowing to continue its nuclear programs until the United States removes its nuclear threat.
Jong Yong-su, minister of labor, expressed "full support and firm solidarity with the principled stand of the government and people of Iran on the nuclear activities for peaceful purposes," the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that day.
The official, who concurrently is chairman of the North Korea-Iran Friendship Association, made the remarks in a Pyongyang ceremony to commemorate the 30th year of the victory of Iran's Islamic revolution.
"The government and people of Iran have exerted positive efforts to defend the sovereignty of the country, develop the economy and ensure the peace and stability of the region under the leadership of Seyed Ali Khamenei, leader of the Islamic revolution, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, president of Iran," Jong was quoted by the agency as saying.
Iranian Ambassador to Pyongyang Morteza Moradian said in his speech to the meeting that the Iranian government is paying special attention to the development of cooperative relations with the socialist state, according to the KCNA.
Earlier of the day, North Korea's military vowed to hold onto its nuclear program until Washington eliminates its nuclear threat, reiterating its tough stance.
"The DPRK (North Korea) will never 'dismantle its nuclear weapons' unless nukes in South Korea are dismantled to remove the nuclear threat from the U.S.," a spokesman for the North's General Chiefs of Staff was quoted as saying by the KCNA.
North Korea claims that U.S. troops in South Korea have atomic weapons, which the U.S. and South Korea deny.
U.S. Urged to Clarify Position on North Korea
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on Feb. 2 demanded the United States make a choice between dialogue and war, claiming Washington seeks to harm the socialist nation behind the "smokescreen" of dialogue.
"Now is the time for the U.S. to clarify its stand on dialogue or war," Minju Joson, the publication of the North's Cabinet, said in a signed commentary carried by the country's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
It blamed Washington's attitude of "waiting for an opportunity to do harm to the North with a dagger hidden behind its belt" for the slow progress in efforts to solve problems between the two countries.
The U.S. has reinforced its war capability and posture on the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity to mount a surprise preemptive attack and deal a fatal blow to the North, the commentary claimed.
The moves "clearly prove that dialogue touted by the U.S. is no more than a smokescreen to slacken the vigilance of the DPRK and deceive the international community," the KCNA said.
The North's demand came one day ahead of the scheduled visit by a group of seven former U.S. government officials and experts in the first major civilian exchange between the two nations since new U.S. President Barack Obama took office last month.
The group includes Stephen Bosworth, a former U.S. ambassador to South Korea and said to be a candidate for the post of special envoy to Pyongyang, Jonathan Pollack, a professor of Asian and Pacific studies at the Naval War College, former Assistant Secretary of State Morton Abramowitz, and Leon Sigal, director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council.
The Americans are scheduled to leave Pyongyang on Feb. 7 after meeting top North Korean officials, according to sources.
"The U.S. would be well advised to clearly understand that its behavior of dealing with the DPRK (North Korea) with black-hearted intent will get it nowhere," the North warned.