NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 60 (June 25, 2009) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)
North Korea Accuses South Korea of Raising Tension
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on June 18 that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is "more tense than ever" and accused the South attempting to start a war, citing its extensive media coverage of military events.
Rodong Sinmun, the North's main newspaper published by the Workers' Party, described South Korean military leaders' recent morale-boosting trips to frontline soldiers, as well as military exercises and fighter jets widely publicized in the media, as parts of a "calculated maneuver."
"These should not be passed off as common events," the paper said in a commentary. "The brisk movements by the puppet military are another grave military provocation against us and an intentional and calculated maneuver to intensify the situation on the Korean Peninsula and actualize its rebellious goal."
The criticism came a day after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak issued a tough warning to the Stalinist neighbor, denouncing North Korea's May 25 nuclear test and vowing to break a pattern of compensating the North following provocations.
Asked by a reporter if South Korea remains under threat of attack from the North, Lee cited North Korea's invasion at the beginning of the Korean War in 1950 and praised the South Korea-U.S. alliance for deterring any similar attack.
"And this firm alliance that we have between the U.S. and South Korea is going to prevent anything from happening. And of course North Korea may have -- may wish to do so, but of course they will not be able to do so," Lee said in a joint press conference with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House last week.
Rodong Sinmun said regional tension has dramatically risen since the U.N. Security Council punished the North for second nuclear test -- a move it characterized as a violation of its sovereignty.
U.N. Resolution 1874 tightened financial and other sanctions against the already isolated state, enabling participating countries to intercept North Korean ships suspected of carrying missile and nuclear materials on the high seas.
In response, North Korea vowed to weaponize all plutonium it extracts and start enriching uranium, a second track to building atomic weapons. It also warned any attempt to intercept its vessels will be regarded "as an act of war" and be met with a military response.
"It is nothing but a grave situation that at this time, the puppet war maniacs publicize their armament equipment and war exercises through the media and frequently travel to frontline regions with a war craze," the newspaper said.
N. Korea Denounces Lee, Obama for Scheming Atomic War
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea on June 21 accused South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and U.S. President Barack Obama of plotting an atomic war on the communist North following their summit in Washington D.C.
In its first response to the Lee-Obama summit last week, the North also attacked Lee for "attempting to stifle the people of the DPRK (North Korea) through an alliance" with the U.S. and launch a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.
"During his recent visit to the U.S., (President) Lee discussed reinforcing (the) nuclear deterrent against his fellow countrymen in (the) DPRK. He is full of foolish ambitions to attain unification even through a nuclear war aided by foreign forces," a government-run weekly, Tongil Sinbo, said in a commentary carried by a pro-North Korean Web site.
The newspaper also condemned Obama's commitment to South Korea's security, saying, "It's not a coincidence at all for the U.S. to have brought numerous nuclear weapons into South Korea."
During their June 16 summit, Lee and Obama agreed to place South Korea under the U.S. nuclear umbrella, with Obama pledging the U.S. would "pursue denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula vigorously."
The two leaders also agreed to break the pattern of awarding concessions to North Korea for its provocations. Tension on the Korean Peninsula has escalated since the North defiantly conducted its second nuclear test on May 25.
Meanwhile, the North's official Korean Central News Agency reported Sunday that a number of anti-government organizations in South Korea have issued statements denouncing Lee over his "servile" tour of the U.S.
Pro-N. Korean Daily Accuses Obama of Ignoring N. Korea
SEOUL (Yonhap) - A pro-Pyongyang newspaper on June 20 accused U.S. President Barack Obama of envisioning a reunified Korean Peninsula that denies the sovereignty of socialist North Korea.
In a statement signed at a summit with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on June 16 in Washington, Obama said he aims to build a better future for all people on the Korean Peninsula, leading to peaceful reunification on the principles of free democracy and a market economy.
Choson Sinbo, daily of the pro-Pyongyang Korean group in Japan, said the statement denies the sovereignty existing on the northern half of the peninsula as well as the spirit of a joint communique signed between the U.S. and North Korea in 2000.
The two countries agreed in the communique to take measures to fundamentally improve their relations based on the "changed environment on the peninsula" following the landmark first summit between leaders of the two Koreas on June 15 that year.
Considered an unofficial mouthpiece of Pyongyang, the newspaper claimed the "changed environment" means the Korea's agreement in the summit to reunify through the form of national confederation.
It also criticized Obama's commitment to South Korea's security, including through U.S. nuclear protection.
The U.S. promise of nuclear protection only "laid further ground" for the North's path of bolstering up its "nuclear deterrent for self-defense," the newspaper said.
North Korea conducted a second nuclear test on May 25, following its first detonation in 2006. It also test-fired what regional powers said was a long-range missile in April. The North says its nuclear program is a deterrent against the U.S., which it accuses of plotting to "stifle" it to death.
N. Korea Vows to Retaliate Against Japan's Ship Inspections
SEOUL (Yonhap) - North Korea warned on June 23 of "merciless military retaliation" should Japan try to inspect North Korean ships operating for peaceful purposes.
The warning came as Japan pushes to enact a special law on inspecting North Korea-flagged ships in the open sea as part of its own financial sanctions against the North's May 25 nuclear test.
"Should the Japanese reactionaries dare attempt to inspect DPRK-flagged peaceful ships either in the open sea or any other place, they will never be able to escape the merciless military counteraction by its revolutionary armed forces," the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the official name of North Korea.
Despite its direct mention of Japan, the North seems to be sending an indirect warning to the United States whose Navy has raised tension by reportedly monitoring the North Korean cargo ship Kangnam on suspicion of carrying illegal weapons since it left a port in the North on June 17.
"The present U.S. administration is talking about 'dialogue' but, in fact, it seems to (be trying to) stifle the DPRK, driving the situation on the Korean Peninsula to the brink of a war," the KCNA said.
"It is against this backdrop that the Japanese reactionaries, as if they had been waiting for the opportunity, are zealously playing the role of a shock brigade to execute the U.S. policy for stifling the DPRK. Lurking behind this is a crafty intention to aggravate the situation on the peninsula, launch reinvasion of Korea at any cost and emerge as the leader of Asia," it claimed.
The KCNA said any Japanese attempt to inspect peaceful North Korean ships would be regarded as the 21st century-version of the "Unyo-maru" incident when in 1875 the Japanese gunboat "Unyo" intruded into Ganghwa Island on the South's west waters and clashed with the Korean Navy.
"Japan has worked hard to realize its wild ambition to invade Korea by force of arms backed by the U.S. since more than 130 years ago," it said.
N. Korea Accuses Seoul of Trying to Incite Naval Clash
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea accused the South Korean government June 24 of trying to incite a third inter-Korean naval clash in the Yellow Sea by beefing up its military strength in the western sea border region.
South Korea has increased its deployment of naval troops and vessels to the Yellow Sea border area as fears grow of another clash with the North. Two naval skirmishes claimed scores of lives on both sides in 1999 and 2002.
"Current inter-Korean relations are now in a touch-and-go crisis in which a war may break out at any moment because of the South Korean government's maneuvers against its fellow countrymen," Rodong Sinmun, the North's main newspaper published by the Workers' Party, said in a commentary.
North Korea declared last month it would no longer guarantee the safety of South Korean and U.S. ships operating in the western sea border region, protesting South Korea's participation in a U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative.
The inter-Korean sea border, called the Northern Limit Line, was unilaterally drawn by the U.S.-led U.N. Command after the 1950-53 Korean War. North Korea claims the border should be re-drawn further south.
The paper criticized South Korea's recent naming of a new guided missile patrol boat, the Yun Yeong Ha, after an officer killed in the 2002 battle as anti-Pyongyang propaganda.
The South Korean military is "inspiring hostility against our republic on a large scale ... This is evidence that proves the puppets are determined to wage a new armed clash in the Yellow Sea and that they are gearing up to bring that into action," it said.
A U.S. destroyer, meanwhile, was closely monitoring a North Korean ship, the Kang Nam, which is suspected of carrying missile material. The case is the first following new U.N. sanctions imposed after the North's May 25 underground nuclear test. North Korea has warned any search attempt of its ships will be considered an act of war and will be dealt with via a "military response."