U.S. Think Tank Launches Web Site on North Korea Analysis
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- A U.S. think tank has launched a Web site devoted to the analysis of North Korea to provide insights into the socialist state, whose nuclear ambitions have important implications on the security of northeast Asia.
The U.S.-Korea Institute at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University, said on April 1 that the main objective of the site "38 North" (www.38north.org) is to "bring the best possible analysis to all those who work on North Korea for a living and those who are just interested in what happens there."
In a statement, SAIS said that the site will not just cover North Korea's nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction "but will also dig beneath the surface of political, economic, social and other developments," such as North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's stroke, the currency revaluation and the opening of fast food restaurants in Pyongyang.
"North Korea is not a hermit kingdom, but rather a country that has been in the throes of change, good and bad, for over a decade," the statement said. "Those changes have important implications for the Korean peninsula, the East Asian region and the international community."
The site will also feature guest commentators such as James Church, a mystery novelist who is famous for his main character, Inspector O, and utilize new technologies, such as Google Earth, to analyze military, economic, social and other developments in the North.
U.S. Won't Lift Sanctions Until N.K. Takes Affirmative Steps for Denuclearization
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The United States said on April 2 it will not lift sanctions on North Korea until Pyongyang takes substantial steps toward denuclearization.
"We are not going to remove those sanctions until North Korea commits to the six-party process and begins to take affirmative steps towards denuclearization," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said. "One of the great quotes in this space comes from (Defense) Secretary (Robert) Gates: 'We're not going to buy the same horse twice.'"
North Korea has boycotted the six-party talks involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Japan and Russia, since early last year, when the U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear and missile tests.
Pyongyang has since called for the removal of the sanctions and the start of talks toward a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice to leave the two Koreas technically at war. Washington insists on Pyongyang coming back to the talks first.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who apparently suffered a stroke in 2008 and is believed to be feeling the pinch from the sanctions, will reportedly visit Beijing soon. In his fifth trip since 2000, he is expected to discuss reopening the multilateral nuclear talks, economic aid and Chinese support for his effort to install his youngest son, Jong-un, as heir.
"If North Korea wants to see a different relationship with the United States and the rest of the world, they know what they have to do," Crowley said. "And we're not going to reward them for just coming back. First, they have to come back. But we're going to reward them when they take affirmative steps towards denuclearization, and not before."
North Korean Leader Cursed Highest Ranking Defector in 1997: Report
TOKYO (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il cursed Hwang Jang-yop, a former secretary of the North's ruling Workers' Party, when he defected to South Korea in 1997, Japan's Mainichi Shimbun reported on April 4.
The report came as the 87-year-old Hwang, the highest-ranking North Korean official to defect to the South, arrived in Japan after wrapping up a five-day trip to the U.S.
According to the Japanese newspaper, Kim condemned Hwang as a "traitor" and said he was "worse than a dog" in two secret addresses given within a month of Hwang's defection on Feb. 12, 1997.
"We should not make a big fuss about Hwang's defection. Revolutionary belief and conscience are the basic criteria that distinguish a revolutionary from a traitor," Kim was quoted as saying at the time.
"Hwang turned against the party and its leader (Kim Il-sung) at age 74 though his remaining days are numbered. How can we call him a human? He is worse than a dog. He is an outdated intellectual educated during the Japanese colonial days."
Hwang has been under police protection since he defected to South Korea. The former liberal governments of Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun had banned him from overseas trips to avoid provoking North Korea.
But the conservative Lee Myung-bak government has said it will allow Hwang to travel abroad freely despite concerns over his safety.
Hwang arrived in the U.S. on March 30 in his second visit to the country for meetings with scholars, Congressional leaders and human rights activists.
He is reportedly scheduled to stay in Japan until April 8, though a detailed itinerary has not been released for security reasons.
N. Korea's 'Red Star' Operating System Focused on Security: Think Tank
SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's new "Red Star" computer operating system is mainly designed to control the flow of information on the Internet tapped by users, a review by a state-run think tank said on April 5.
The Science and Technology Policy Institute (STEPI) in Seoul said a detailed technical analysis of Red Star version 1.1 shows it is a Linux-based operating system with low-end options similar to those found in products that reached the market in the early 2000s.
It added that while it is similar to the ubiquitous Windows OS, emphasis has been placed on meeting security and other local requirements. There is only one Korean-language version of the system, and due to the limited number of compatible applications, there is little likelihood of its being put to wider use.
STEPI's study is the first technical analysis of the Red Star OS that was first developed in 2002 by the North's Korea Computer Center. Prior to its introduction, Pyongyang used English versions of Microsoft Windows.
A Russian student in Pyongyang recently purchased an updated version of the Red Star and introduced it on his blog, though it was not a specialized review.
"The review was needed to get an estimate of how far North Korea's OS software has progressed," the STEPI report said. It added that Red Star represents North Korea's attempt to overcome the country's isolation in the computer field while at the same time coping with security concerns.
The socialist country maintains close tabs on information and data into and out of the country and does not permit its people to freely surf the World Wide Web, and places particular emphasis on prohibiting visits to South Korean Internet sites.
The institute under the education and science ministry said there is almost no political content, and that developers have continuously updated the Red Star OS over the years.
The institute, meanwhile, said that South Korea could cooperate with North Korean software developers through contacts with offices they maintain in China.
U.S. Warns of Possible Nuke Attack on North Korea: Pentagon
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The United States on April 6 kept open the option of a nuclear attack on North Korea and Iran, despite its new policy to reduce the role of its nuclear arsenal in the defense of the U.S. and its allies.
In releasing the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) report, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, "I actually think that the NPR has a very strong message for both Iran and North Korea, because whether it's in declaratory policy or in other elements of the NPR, we essentially carve out states like Iran and North Korea that are not in compliance with NPT."
He was referring to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which North Korea abandoned in 2002. Pyongyang has been building its nuclear arsenal ever since, conducting two nuclear tests, one each in 2006 and 2009.
"If you're not going to play by the rules, if you're going to be a proliferator, then all options are on the table in terms of how we deal with you," Gates told a Pentagon news conference to mark the release of the NPR report, which renounces the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states for the first time by any U.S. administration.
"The United States would only consider the use of nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances," the report said. "The United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations."
Gates fell short of promising no first use of nuclear weapons, saying, "We didn't think we were far enough along the road toward getting control of nuclear weapons around the world to limit ourselves so explicitly."
In a statement, U.S. President Barack Obama warned North Korea and Iran of consequences.
"Those nations that fail to meet their obligations will therefore find themselves more isolated, and will recognize that the pursuit of nuclear weapons will not make them more secure," he said.
Obama also said that his administration will "not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states," conduct nuclear testing, develop new nuclear warheads or pursue new military missions or new capabilities for nuclear weapons while seeking ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
"We are taking specific and concrete steps to reduce the role of nuclear weapons while preserving our military superiority, deterring aggression and safeguarding the security of the American people," he said.
Obama put the prevention of nuclear proliferation and terrorism "at the top of America's nuclear agenda," saying the NPR "recognizes that the greatest threat to U.S. and global security is no longer a nuclear exchange between nations, but nuclear terrorism by violent extremists and nuclear proliferation to an increasing number of states."
The NPR report reconfirmed U.S. efforts to denuclearize the North and Iran through dialogue.
"We have demonstrated that we are prepared to engage multilaterally and bilaterally with these states to arrive at negotiated solutions that provide for their political and economic integration with the international community, while verifiably confirming they are not pursuing nuclear weapons capabilities," it said.
It also warned that North Korea and Iran will face further isolation and international pressure unless they abandon their nuclear ambitions.
"The United States seeks to bolster the nuclear non-proliferation regime by reversing the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran," it said. "However, their continued defiance of international norms and agreements will lead only to their further isolation and increasing international pressure."