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2009/06/18 10:54 KST

*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)

North Korea Says Reports on Fake Dollars 'Scheme'

   SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Korea said on June 12 South Korean news reports that the socialist country counterfeited and mass circulated U.S. currency were driven by an anti-North scheme.

   Local newspapers recently reported the Busan provincial police agency in November arrested four South Koreans who tried to circulate counterfeit 100 U.S. dollar notes after smuggling them into South Korea from China. They also said investigators found the dollars had been counterfeited in the North.

   "The story about counterfeiting was concocted by the Bush administration in the past in a bid to justify the financial sanctions against the DPRK (North Korea). But when the story turned out to be plot of the CIA it became a laughing stock of the world and the U.S. stopped talking about it any longer, as it was nothing but a poor scenario with neither plausibility nor evidence," a spokesman for the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland, said in an interview with the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

   Seoul's revival of "the outdated anti-DPRK scenario" only reveals how the "antagonistic forces" are in jitters over their lack of means to penalize the North for its "just measure to bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defense," the spokesman claimed.

   North Korea conducted an additional nuclear test on May 25, calling it a measure to build up the "nuclear deterrent."


N.K. Criticizes U.S. Defense Secretary's Remarks on Missile Defense

SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Korea on June 16 criticized as "outrageous" U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' remarks on the possibility of the U.S. increasing the budget for its anti-missile defense shield.

   Gates on June 1 did not rule out pumping more funds into the nation's anti-missile defense budget if "a rogue state such as North Korea" threatens the United States.

   "It is a sophism that cannot work on anyone and outrageous," said Minju Joson newspaper of the North Korean Cabinet.

   The U.S. in fact wants to "maintain its supremacy over the world through the missile defense system," not seek world peace, the daily claimed. It criticized the U.S. as "a peacebreaker and the ringleader of nuclear threat, proliferation and arms race[s]."


N.K. Says U.S. Nuke Umbrella for South 'Criminal Act' to Start War

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea denounced South Korea on June 15 for "begging" the U.S. for nuclear protection, calling the move a "criminal act" aimed at starting a nuclear war against the North.

   South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on June 16 (Washington time). The two leaders issued a joint statement after the summit that included a U.S. pledge to provide an "extended nuclear deterrent" for Seoul.

   Such an official pledge is "an unforgivable criminal act to make South Korea a nuclear powder keg that can explode at any moment and drive the peninsula into a U.S. nuclear battlefield by drawing more U.S. nuclear weapons into South Korea," Rodong Sinmun, the North's main newspaper published by the Workers' Party, said.

   The U.S. has provided a nuclear umbrella over South Korea since the Korean War ended in 1953. But it would be the first time for any U.S. president to affirm it in writing. The meeting follows North Korea's second nuclear test on May 25.

   Rodong Sinmun said South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan "begged for" the written pledge during his recent meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

   "The group of traitors, setting the fate of the Korean people at naught, asked for it and revealed every shred of its atrocious scheme to wage a second Korean war with nuclear weapons on the back of its U.S. boss," the paper said.

   The paper also accused the U.S. military stationed in South Korea of placing about 1,000 nuclear bombs south of the border and blasted their joint military maneuvers as "nuclear war exercises," it added.

   "Our nuclear deterrence is a means of defense for our homeland, but we will never show mercy to those who dare to wage a nuclear war against us," the paper said, warning invaders would be turned into "ashes."
Protesting a recent U.N. Security Council resolution condemning its latest nuclear test, the North said over the weekend that it will "weaponize" all plutonium it has and start enriching uranium to provide fuel for a light-water reactor it plans to build. The uranium enrichment plan sparked concerns it may actually be used to build nuclear weapons.


N.K. Says Detained U.S. Journalists Admitted to Smear Campaign

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea claimed on June 16 that two jailed U.S. journalists admitted to plotting a "smear campaign" against the socialist state and linked their detention to deteriorating relations with Washington.

   Pyongyang is closely watching "the attitude of the U.S.," the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, just hours before South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barack Obama were to meet in Washington. The leaders were expected to focus on coordinating sanctions against the North over its May 25 nuclear test.

   "At the trial, the accused admitted that what they did were criminal acts, prompted by the political motive to isolate and stifle the socialist system of the DPRK (North Korea)," the report said.

   Chinese-American Laura Ling, 32, and Korean-American Euna Lee, 36, both reporters for San Francisco-based Current TV, were detained near the border with China in March while working on a story about North Korean defectors.

   North Korea's highest court sentenced them on June 8 to 12 years of hard labor for illegal entry and hostile acts.

   Laying out a detailed account for the first time, Tuesday's report connected the journalists' case to the sharpening diplomatic confrontation between the U.S. and North Korea.

   The Americans consulted with senior producers of their television station in January for the "anti-DPRK smear campaign over its human rights issue" and received U$$9,950 for the project, the KCNA report said. In their Chinese visa application forms, they reported themselves as computer specialists entering China for travel, it said.

   The journalists first traveled to South Korea to shoot footage of the demilitarized zone and interview North Korean defectors who settled in the South before flying to China, the report said.

   With help from a guard introduced by Chun Ki-won, a South Korean pastor who helps defectors, the reporters collected "vicious stories" about North Korea at the Chinese border region and covertly crossed the Tumen River into the North at dawn on March 17, the report claimed. They were arrested on the spot, it said.

   The North said it was issuing the detailed report to "make it known to the world that the American crimes were committed at a time when an unprecedented confrontational phase is building up on the Korean Peninsula against the United States."

   It said, "We are following with a high degree of vigilance the attitude of the U.S. which spawned the criminal act against the DPRK."

   The report said the trial was not open to the public for fear that the country's classified information might be leaked. Ling was represented by a lawyer, while Lee gave up her right to an attorney, it said.

   Their prison term is counted from March 22, when the two were formally detained for an investigation, and the ruling cannot be appealed, the report said.