NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 48 (April 2, 2009) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)
Pyongyang Warns Seoul Not to Participate in Proliferation Initiative
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on March 30 it will take stern measures if South Korea participates in U.S.-led multilateral efforts to block the North's transfer of weapons of mass destruction, saying it would be tantamount to a "declaration of war."
"If the South takes part in the multilateral operations, called the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), over our plan to launch a rocket, we will immediately take a stern countermeasure," the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Moon Tae-young indicated on March 23 that the South could join the U.S.-led PSI if North Korea proceeds with its planned rocket launch in early April.
Pyongyang says it is aiming to place a satellite in orbit, a claim Seoul and Washington dismiss as a cover for a ballistic missile test.
Last month, South Korean Defense Minister Lee Sang-hee said his country may now need to expand its participation in the PSI. "Under these circumstances, in which North Korea is developing long-range missiles and nuclear weapons, it is time for South Korea to reconsider its participation in the PSI," he said at a parliamentary hearing.
The North's statement also said Seoul's participation in the PSI would represent a "violent challenge to our dignity and autonomous rights and an unpardonable crime to lead the whole nation into a nuclear war."
South Korea will be forced to take responsibility for the consequences of its participation in the PSI, it said.
South Korea has participated in the PSI as an observer since 2005. Under the previous liberal administration of President Roh Moo-hyun, Seoul limited its role for fear of straining ties with North Korea, one of the initiative's prime targets.
The U.S. administration under Barack Obama said that it would seek to expand the PSI into a global campaign aimed at stopping shipments of weapons of mass destruction, their delivery systems and related materials worldwide.
The PSI, now with 93 member states, has been routinely criticized by Pyongyang as an example of Washington's hostile policy against North Korea.
N. Korea Slams U.N. Resolution on Its Human Rights As 'Fabrication'
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on March 30 rejected the latest U.N. resolution condemning human rights abuses in the communist country as "peppered with lies and fabrications" by Western countries and Japan.
The U.N. Commission on Human Rights on March 26 adopted the resolution, led by the European Union and Japan, to demand Pyongyang allow entry of a U.N. special rapporteur.
"The DPRK (North Korea), as it did in the past, resolutely and categorically rejects such 'resolution' cooked up by the charlatans," a spokesman for the North's Foreign Ministry said in an interview with the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency.
The unnamed spokesman said the resolution was part of political maneuvers "peppered with lies and fabrications" by the EU and Japan.
The resolution was approved by a vote of 26-6 with 15 abstentions at a commission meeting at U.N. headquarters in Geneva on Thursday. South Korea co-sponsored the resolution, while China and Russia voted against it.
The North's spokesman did not mention South Korea, which under previous liberal governments mostly abstained from the vote for fear of damaging political relations with Pyongyang.
He accused the Western countries of applying dual standards for "their master," the United States, citing human rights abuses by U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Accusing the U.N. special rapporteur system as "outdated, biased and confrontation-minded," the spokesman hinted that North Korea will continue to reject the U.N. special rapporteur from Thailand, Vitit Muntarbhorn.
Since his appointment by the U.N. in 2005, Muntarbhorn has never been allowed to travel to the socialist country.
Turning to Japan, the spokesman dubbed the country a "shock brigade" that engineered the resolution to "cover up its hideous human rights abuses" during Japan's colonial occupation of Korea from 1910 to 1945.
"It is a daydream to do harm to the DPRK's sovereignty through plot-breeding and pressure," the spokesman said.
North Korea Sees No Thaw Tensions After U.S.-led War Exercise
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on March 30 that inter-Korean relations would remain frosty almost two weeks after South Korea completed its annual military exercise with the United States.
Inter-Korean relations have worsened since South Korea's conservative President Lee Myung-bak took office in February last year, putting the brakes on Seoul's economic assistance to the North.
Tension again heightened as Pyongyang severed military phone and fax lines, the last remaining official communications channel with Seoul, to protest the joint exercise that ran from March 9-20.
It also blocked hundreds of South Korean workers and cargo from entering a joint industrial complex in its border town of Kaesong for several days, stranding hundreds in the communist nation.
Radio Pyongyang denoounced South Korean news media for anticipating that ties would improve following the closure of the annual drill.
"It is nothing but wordplay, shamelessly distorting the harsh reality of North-South relations," the broadcast said, claiming Seoul must be behind such "evil sophistry."
"There has been no change of atmosphere favorable to improving relations since the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military drill finished," the North said.
It claimed such an atmosphere can never be created unless Seoul terminates the annual joint war exercise and scraps its "confrontational policy" toward the North.
N.K. Warns of Military Response Should Japan Intercept Its Satellite
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea will see any interception by Japan of its satellite launch as an act of invasion and respond with its "most powerful military means," the country's state news agency said on March 31.
"Should Japan dare recklessly intercept the DPRK's (North Korea's) satellite, its army will consider this as the start of Japan's war of reinvasion more than six decades after the Second World War," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.
Japan colonized Korea for 36 years until its defeat in 1945, a source of deep animosity that North Korea still harbors towards its eastern neighbor.
The North Korean army will "mercilessly destroy all its interceptor means and citadels with the most powerful military means," the report warned.
North Korea has told international aviation and maritime agencies that it will send the experimental communications satellite into orbit some time between April 4 and 8 as part of its peaceful space development program.
The North also said the rocket's booster would fall into waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, while the second-stage booster will fall in the Pacific Ocean.
Japan had earlier suggested that it might shoot down the rocket, but now says it will intercept only debris from the launch if it appears it will land in its territory. South Korea and the United States have also said they oppose military responses to the rocket launch.
"Japan is taking the lead in this racket though it has committed the biggest crimes against the DPRK," the North Korean report said.
"They blustered that they would 'intercept' the DPRK's satellite, counting on the support from their master," it said, referring to the U.S.
"But when their master flinched because of the strong stand of the (North) Korean People's Army, they found themselves in such a miserable position as to modify their assertion by uttering that they would intercept it only when the debris of the multi-stage carrier rocket falls down on the land of Japan," it said.
The North said Tokyo's true intentions are wrecking the six-party talks aimed at ending its nuclear weapons program and justifying its own nuclear armament.
"Looking back on the history of the six-party talks, Japan has done only wicked and wrong things obstructive to the denuclearization of the peninsula since their very start," it said.
N. Korea Says U.S. Sent Spy Jet over Its Rocket Launch Site
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on March 31 reported at least 190 cases of aerial espionage by the United States and South Korea in March, including flights over a northeastern region where preparations for a rocket launch are underway.
North Korea regularly publishes its count of U.S. and South Korean aviation espionage cases over its territory, but the latest report comes amid heightened tension ahead of Pyongyang's rocket launch, which could take place as early as Saturday.
The North's state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said a RC-135 U.S. spy jet photographed North Korean strategic targets in Musudan-ri, the launch site in North Hamgyong Province on the east coast, on March 13, 17 and 22.
"This is a wanton infringement upon the sovereignty of the DPRK and another dangerous military provocation," the report said, calling North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"The U.S. imperialists perpetrated the above-said aerial espionage after deploying even 'intercepting' means in the East Sea of Korea, describing the DPRK's projected satellite launch as 'a missile launch,'" the report said, referring to the Aegis-equipped destroyers currently deployed in waters between South Korea and Japan.
The KCNA accused the U.S. military of conducting more than 110 cases of aerial espionage and South Korean forces of at least 80 cases.
"The U.S. imperialist warmongers had better bear in mind that RC-135 and all other spy planes perpetrating espionage against the DPRK are within the range of its strikes," it said.
Spy jets, including U-2, RC-7B, RC-12, RC-800, RF-4C and E-3 models, flew daily missions over North Korea from March 9 to 20, it said.
N. Korea Says It Will Shoot down U.S. Spy Jets Flying over Rocket Launch Site
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea warned on April 1 it will shoot down any U.S. spy jets entering its airspace, blasting U.S. aerial espionage over a northeastern base where it plans to launch a rocket.
The North regularly publishes its count of aerial spy flights by South Korea and the United States, but the latest report reveals North Korea is on high alert against foreign reconnaissance activity as the announced dates for the launch draw near.
The Korean Central Broadcasting Station, the North's state-run radio, said the U.S. and South Korea conducted at least 190 aerial espionage missions over its territory, including flights over Musudan-ri, the launch site in North Hamgyong Province on the east coast.
"Should the U.S. imperialist racketeers dare to perpetrate aerial espionage, interfering with our preparations for a satellite launch for peaceful purposes, our revolutionary forces will shoot them down without spare," said the radio station.
North Korea has said it will send a communications satellite, Kwangmyongsong-2, into space between April 4 and 8 as part of its space development program. Neighboring countries have urged Pyongyang to stop the launch, suspecting it could be a cover for testing its long-range missile technology.
Planes spying on another country usually fly outside the country's airspace or higher than 12 nautical miles above ground. If the spy jets happen to come into territorial air by accident or mistake, any country is entitled to shoot them down as a self-defense measure, a source in Seoul said.
U.S. and South Korean spy jets are believed to be operating above North Korea's territorial air, and with Wednesday's statement, Pyongyang is showing a natural reaction, the source said.
"The warning that it will 'shoot them down without spare' may sound different," said the source well-versed on North Korea, requesting anonymity. "But it's a natural response for any country to bring down planes intruding in its aerial territory."
On Tuesday, North Korea's official news wire, the Korean Central News Agency, said an RC-135 U.S. spy jet photographed strategic targets at the Musudan-ri launch site on March 13, 17 and 22.
"This is a wanton infringement upon the sovereignty of the DPRK (North Korea) and another dangerous military provocation," the report said.