NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 74 (October 1, 2009) |
*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)
North Korea Urges U.S. to Discard Policy of 'Confrontation'
NEW YORK (Yonhap) -- A senior North Korean diplomat warned on Sept. 28 that his country will beef up its nuclear arsenal unless the United States changes its policy of "confrontation" towards Pyongyang but said it will also respond to dialogue.
"The denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula depends on whether or not the U.S. changes its policy towards Korea," North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Pak Kil-yon said in a speech at the U.N. General Assembly.
The envoy also said his government will "react to dialogue with dialogue."
"If the U.S. comes to dialogue with 'sanctions', we will also participate in dialogue with bolstered nuclear deterrence," Pak, former ambassador to the U.N., said in the speech. "In order to realize the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. administration must discard its old concept of confrontation and show the 'change' that it recently stated on several occasions, in practice."
He reaffirmed that the socialist state does aim for a nuclear-free peninsula and that it is willing to replace the ceasefire that effectively ended the 1950-53 Korean War with a permanent peace agreement and sign a nonaggression treaty with Washington.
The speech was mostly a repeat of the North's stated stance and a renewed call for bilateral dialogue with the U.S. to discuss the aforementioned issues.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Visit North Korea: Report
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will travel to Pyongyang on a "goodwill visit" next week, North Korea's official news service said Sept. 28.
During is Oct. 4-6 trip, which comes at the North's invitation, Wen will meet with North Korean leaders to discuss bilateral ties and "issues of common concern," China's Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued the same day.
He will also attend celebrations marking 60 years of diplomatic relations between China and North Korea.
An earlier scheduled to visit by Wen was canceled following the North's second nuclear test on May 25. Early this year, Wen's counterpart, Kim Yong-il, visited Beijing and attended various events to mark the diplomatic anniversary.
After visiting Pyongyang, Wen will return to Beijing for a three-nation summit on Oct. 10 with the South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, according to Seoul officials.
Also on Sept. 28, Pyongyang and Beijing held separate receptions to mark to upcoming anniversary, which falls on Oct. 1. The North Korean reception, co-hosted by the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries and the Central Committee of North Korea-China Friendship Association, was attended by Yang Hyong-sop, vice president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, among others.
In Beijing, the Chinese People's Association for Friendship With Foreign Countries and the China-Korea Friendship Association gave a reception in celebration of the anniversary.
Choe Jin-su, North Korea's ambassador to China, said in his speech to the reception that the traditional bilateral ties personally provided and fostered by elder-generation leaders of the two countries have been growing stronger over the past 60 years.
"It is the consistent (stance) of the Korean party and government to set store by the DPRK (North Korea)-China friendship and consolidate and develop it generation after generation," he was quoted by the North's official Korean Central News Agency two days later as saying.
North Korea and China have exchanged visits of high-ranking officials and government delegations in various fields in celebration of "the Year of DPRK-China Friendship."
N. Korean Media raise Warning against New S. Korean Defense Leader
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean media lashed out on Sept. 29 at South Korea's top defense officials, warning their recent comments suggesting a quick strike on North Korean nuclear bases in the event of war could put a brake on warming ties between the two countries.
Minju Joson, a paper run by the North's Cabinet, said in a commentary that South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young revealed "his crazy and warlike nature" when he said on Sept. 18 that he would quickly target North Korean nuclear bases should a conflict arise.
Kim, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a parliamentary confirmation hearing that he also knew of sites where the North could be hiding its nuclear arsenal.
Kim did not give details, but Gen. Lee Sang-eui, named as his successor, told the same lawmakers about a week later that he would seek a pinpoint strike on such bases if the North attacked the South.
"These developments show that the extreme right-wing conservatives in the South remain enslaved by the old confrontational ideas of the Cold War era and are pursuing a fratricidal showdown," the paper said in a commentary carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
"No one knows how these two will put the brakes on inter-Korean relations that have at last gotten back on track," it said, accusing Kim and Lee of mulling a pre-emptive strike.
Relations between the Koreas deteriorated quickly after the conservative government of President Lee Myung-bak came into power early last year.
North Korea, however, has in recent weeks taken conciliatory gestures toward the South, resuming the reunion of families separated by the war for the first time in two years and sending a delegation to the funeral of late former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.
North Korea Dismisses Seoul's 'Grand Bargain' as Rubbish
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea scoffed on Sept. 30 at South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's ambitious proposal for a "grand bargain" with Pyongyang on its nuclear program, claiming Lee is attempting to meddle in a bilateral issue between Pyongyang and Washington.
The state news agency KCNA downplayed the proposal as a mere "replica" of Lee's "Denuclearization, Opening, 3,000" initiative, claiming the campaign had already been proven to be pointless at home and abroad.
One of Lee's campaign pledges, the earlier initiative aimed to help the socialist neighbor increase its per capita income to US$3,000 over the next decade if it completely abandons its nuclear weapons and opens up to the outside world.
"They are seriously mistaken if they calculate the DPRK (North Korea) would accept the ridiculous 'proposal' for 'the normalization of relations' with someone and for sort of 'economic aid,'" the KCNA said in an English-version commentary.
"The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula should be settled between the DPRK and the U.S." as it is a product of Washington's hostility toward the North, added the commentary.
Lee is "making much fuss, trumpeting about 'grand bargain' while failing to say anything to the U.S. It is evident that he seeks to meddle and stand in the way of settling the nuclear issue between the DPRK and the U.S," it charged.
In a speech last week in New York, Lee said the world should seek a grand bargain, or one-shot deal, with the North in which it will be given security assurances and other incentives if it dismantles the core component of its nuclear program, for instance its nuclear bombs and key related materials.
Notably, however, the news agency did not directly name the South Korean president, only using the term "the South Korean chief executive," apparently reflecting Pyongyang's efforts to improve frayed inter-Korean ties. The North's media had frequently criticized the conservative president, often referring to him as a "traitor."
The regular broadsides slowed markedly after a North Korean delegation met Lee in Seoul last month during a trip here to pay condolences on the death of former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung.
The KCNA report blamed Lee's advisers as "more deplorable," accusing them of shaming their president "under the world's eyes."
"The south Korean chief executive and his 'advisers' team' had better have a midday nap under the nuclear umbrella provided by the U.S. rather than running helter-skelter, unable to sound out its master, much less knowing how the world moves," the news agency said.
North Korea Condemns U.N. Non-proliferation Resolution
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea vowed on Sept. 30 not to be bound by the latest United Nations resolution on non-proliferation and disarmament, saying it will never give up its nuclear weapons.
A spokesman for the North's Foreign Ministry told the North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) that the prerequisite to global denuclearization is the United States and other possessors of nuclear weapons carrying out their own disarmament and abolition.
The unnamed spokesman quoted by the KCNA, monitored in Seoul, then said that North Korea has no choice but to stick to its nuclear deterrent to safeguard regional peace and security as well as its national interest in the face of nuclear threats from the U.S.
The U.N. Security Council on Sept. 24 unanimously adopted a resolution to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Resolution 1887 was adopted shortly after U.S. President Barack Obama, who holds the rotating council presidency in September, opened the summit.
"What matters is that this resolution, too, is a double-standards document as it failed to fully reflect the desire and will of the world community as a whole," the spokesman said in response to a question from a KCNA reporter.
"As a matter of fact, the summit should have called into question and dealt with the U.S. nuclear threat and the reality in which peace and stability are being seriously disturbed in different regions."
In a gesture that appears to leave open the door for dialogue, however, the spokesman stressed that North Korea will strive for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in the context of Washington's nuclear policy toward Pyongyang and the global effort to build a world free of atomic weapons.
"President Kim Il-sung advanced the idea of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and building a world free from nuclear weapons long ago. And it is the desire of the Korean people to live in a peaceful world without nuclear weapons," said the spokesman, referring to the late founder of the isolated communist state.