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2009/05/07 10:53 KST

   *** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)

N. Korea Warns S. Korea Not to Persecute Pro-Pyongyang Groups

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea warned South Korea on April 30 not to persecute South Korean civic groups that have maintained a conciliatory stance toward the communist country.

   The spokesman of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said in a statement carried by the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) that if the conservative government continues to clamp down on people who support rapprochement with the North, it could lead to grave consequences.

   The committee official said that recent moves by courts to classify some organizations as undermining the legitimacy of South Korea and imprisoning their leaders are clear signs of the confrontational stance taken by the President Lee Myung-bak administration.

   It added that Seoul has taken overt steps to ignore and undermine the spirit of the June 15 joint declaration reached in 2000.

   The declaration reached between then South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il led to almost a decade of warm relations between the two countries that are technically still at war.

   The incumbent administration has called for a review of all past policies conducted under Kim and Roh Moo-hyun, and stressed that South-North relations can only improve if Pyongyang gives up its nuclear weapons programs and engages in constructive dialogue.


N. Korea Toughens Probe of Detained S. Korean Worker

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on May 1 it is deepening its investigation into a South Korean worker who has been detained at a joint industrial complex for over a month.

   The detention began March 30, when North Korea accused the employee of Hyundai Asan of criticizing its political system and trying to lure a local female worker into defecting.

   About 100 labor-intensive South Korean companies operate in the border city of Kaesong, employing nearly 40,000 North Korean workers. Hyundai Asan is the main developer of the complex that is the last remaining reconciliatory project between the Koreas.

   "A competent institution is now carrying on a deep-going investigation into the case," the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, quoting an unidentified spokesman for the Central Special Zone Development Guidance General Bureau.

   "The DPRK's law does not show any mercy to anyone violating its dignity," it said, using the acronym for North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

   South Korea, whose officials have been denied access to the man identified only by his last name Yu, said it will continue to demand North Korea promptly release the worker.

   "This is an important issue that will significantly influence the future development of the Kaesong complex," Lee Jong-joo, a spokeswoman for the Unification Ministry, said. "North Korea needs to understand how serious this issue is."

   According to the North, "Yu malignantly slandered the dignified system in the DPRK," while "perpetrating grave acts in infringement upon the sovereignty of the DPRK and violation of the relevant law."

   Without further elaboration, the socialist state also warned of "consequences" should South Korean authorities continue to raise allegations of human rights abuse over the detention.

   "If they continue behaving like this, this will only render the situation graver, doing nothing good" to the Kaesong complex, it said.

   The relations between the Koreas, which fought the 1950-53 Korean War that ended in a truce, remain at their lowest point in a decade after President Lee Myung-bak took office in Seoul early last year with a disciplinary stance on Pyongyang.


N.K. Renews Warning on Seoul's Plan to Join U.S.-led Drive

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on May 4 renewed its warning that South Korea's participation in a U.S.-led security campaign will be regarded as a declaration of war and vowed to bolster its nuclear force in self-defense.

   The warning has been repeated by North Korea several times since the Seoul government announced its plan in early April to expand its participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) aimed at curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. South Korea is currently an observer in the campaign.

   Seoul's Lee Myung-bak government has repeatedly postponed the official PSI announcement amid the threats from North Korea and has yet to decide on when to make it. Rodong Sinmun, North Korea's main newspaper, published by the Workers' Party, blasted Lee's recent remarks at a meeting with security-related Cabinet ministers that despite the postponements, Seoul will eventually join the PSI.

   "This cannot be construed other than an extremely reckless and bellicose move to drive inter-Korean relations to the brink of war in collusion with outside forces," the paper said in a commentary.

   "Traitor Lee Myung-bak's talk about full participation in the PSI brought to light once again his true colors as a war maniac bereft of reason as he does not rule out even a war against the DPRK (North Korea), standing in confrontation with it to the last," it said.

   North Korea made a similar warning on the PSI on May 3.

   The paper lambasted the PSI as a U.S.-led alliance aimed at "tightening the military blockade against the DPRK and isolating and stifling it."

   Seoul officials insist South Korea is not specifically targeting the North but is joining global efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, missiles and other weapons of mass destruction.

   The paper also warned against Seoul backing U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang's April 5 rocket launch. The U.N. Security Council adopted a presidential statement condemning the launch and blacklisted three North Korean firms suspected of financing the country's nuclear and missile activities.


N. Korea Blasts U.N. over 'Unfair' Punishment for Rocket Launch

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on May 4 accused the United Nations of "unfair" treatment of countries not aligned with the United States, citing its condemnation of Pyongyang's April 5 rocket launch as evidence.

   Pyongyang withdrew from six-nation nuclear disarmament talks in protest of the U.N. Security Council's rebuke of the launch. The North also said it would conduct a second nuclear test and has begun reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods, a process which extracts plutonium used to make nuclear bombs. North Korea tested its first nuclear device in 2006.

   The Security Council "continues to adopt unjust documents under U.S. instigation," and its April 13 presidential statement condemning the North Korean launch is "obvious evidence" of its unfairness, Rodong Sinmun, a major newspaper published by the Workers' Party, said in a commentary carried by the (North) Korean Central News Agency.

   Pyongyang says the launch sent a satellite into orbit. South Korea, the U.S. and Japan view it as a disguised long-range missile test and support U.N. sanctions.

   The Security Council's sanctions committee froze foreign assets of three firms in North Korea suspected of financing the country's nuclear and missile activities.

   The paper noted the Security Council has never taken issue with a satellite launch and blasted its punishment of North Korea's as an "unfair, extreme application of double standards and an act of despotism."

   "As long as the U.S. occupies the U.N. main agencies and continues its unilateralism ... the U.N. can never guarantee world peace and safety and principles of world justice and fairness can never be observed," it said.


North Korea Says Obama No Different from Bush

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea blasted U.S. President Barack Obama on May 4 as no different from his predecessor in trying to "stifle" countries that are uncooperative with the U.S., referring to Washington's move to punish Pyongyang for its recent rocket launch.

   The Obama administration with its allies led the U.N. Security Council's efforts to adopt a presidential statement condemning the April 5 launch and tighten sanctions against the North.

   "With nothing can the U.S. justify such illegal provocation as forcing the UNSC to table the issue of the DPRK's (North Korea) launch of a satellite for peaceful purposes and issue 'a presidential statement,'" the North's foreign ministry spokesman said in an interview with the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency.

   "All the facts go to clearly prove that although the present U.S. administration plays tricks, talking about 'change' and 'multilateral cooperation diplomacy' it is nothing different from the preceding administration which frantically worked to stifle by force other countries which incurred its displeasure," the unidentified spokesman said.

   The spokesman also said the reality of international relations forces North Korea to bolster its nuclear power in self-defense.
"The DPRK is firmly convinced that it was entirely just when it opted for bolstering the nuclear deterrent to protect the sovereignty and the right to existence of the country and the nation," he said.

   Pyongyang has refrained from name-calling and smearing Obama, a common recurrence during the preceding George W. Bush government, amid speculation that it wants to mend ties with Washington after eight years of largely frayed relations.

   Obama has yet to begin bilateral talks with Pyongyang, as his policy agenda is crowded by other foreign and economic issues.

   The North's spokesman renewed the country's claim that the country successfully launched a satellite.

   The Kwangmyongsong-2 is "regularly orbiting the earth," he said, citing ungrounded confirmation by U.S. scientific and military institutes.

   "It is only the U.S. administration and unsavory forces subservient to it that insist the DPRK's satellite launch was a ballistic missile launch," he said.

   Outside monitors said no such object has entered space and that the North Korean boosters, including the payload, fell into the ocean.

   Pyongyang said it will conduct a second nuclear test and inter-continental ballistic missile tests unless the U.N. Security Council apologizes for punishing it for its launch.

   North Korea has withdrawn from nuclear disarmament talks and expelled international monitors to protest the council's actions. The North also said it has begun reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods, a process that extracts the plutonium used to make nuclear bombs. North Korea tested its first nuclear device in 2006.

   Earlier May 4, Rodong Sinmun, the North's main newspaper published by the Workers' Party, accused the U.N. of being "extremely unfair" and applying "double standards" by taking issue with the launch.


North Korea Blasts Increase in U.S. Defense Budget

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on May 6 criticized the U.S. government for raising its defense budget for 2010, saying its huge defense spending prompts Pyongyang to bolster its own military force in defense.

   U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently unveiled a plan to increase Washington's defense budget 4 percent on-year to US$534 billion for the next fiscal year that starts in October.

   North Korea's defense budget for 2009 is estimated at $540 million, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry.

   "The United States is in hostile relations with our country," the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

   "Not a small portion of the U.S. defense budget goes to attempts to threaten and invade our country by its military means. To cope with the accumulating military threat from the U.S., it is exceedingly just and indispensable that our nation continues to bolster our self-defense power," the KCNA said.

   The paper blamed the U.S. for magnifying the global arms race and said it has "neither right nor justification to say this or that" to other countries' military empowerment.

   The U.S. is "the most irresponsible country" that spends money on arms buildup rather than weather the global financial turmoil that originated there, the paper said.

   North Korea's state media said on April 9 that its defense budget approved by the parliament for this year accounts for 15.8 percent of the government's entire spending. The portion is the same as last year.