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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 106 (May 13, 2010)
*** NEWS IN BRIEF

N. Korea Accuses S. Korea of Trying to Drum up Support for War

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea accused South Korea on May 6 of trying to inspire belligerence among its people toward Pyongyang, vowing to mobilize a powerful "war deterrent" if South Korea ever attacks.

   The warning by Minju Joson, the North's Cabinet paper, comes amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula over what is suspected to be a deadly North Korean attack against a South Korean warship near their western sea border in March.

   North Korea denies any involvement in the sinking of the 1,200-ton corvette Cheonan, but suspicions are mounting that it is responsible.

   A senior presidential aide said this week that the use of the term "main enemy" to refer to Pyongyang is being considered for Seoul's official publications.

   "These kinds of schemes are intended to create an atmosphere needed for a provocative invasion into the North," Minju Joson said in a statement carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.

   "If the conservative faction provokes a war, it will severely taste the power of the war deterrent that our military and people have been strengthening," it said.

   The paper did not elaborate, but appeared to refer to nuclear arms that the country has been developing in defiance of a six-nation agreement that promises aid for denuclearization.

   The "main enemy" disappeared in Seoul's official publications in 2004 amid a detente between the countries, which have been technically at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

   Minju Joson said the reemergence of the term would be equal to "an act of betrayal that risks thrusting the Korean Peninsula into nuclear warfare."

   Forty died and six went missing in the sinking, for which President Lee Myung-bak has pledged a stern response. A government official said Thursday that investigators have found traces of gunpowder in the wreckage, bolstering suspicions of a North Korean torpedo attack.

   The tension over the sunken warship came as North Korean leader Kim Jong-il was in Beijing for talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao in what appeared to be the latest bid by Pyongyang to secure political and economic support from its main benefactor.

  
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N. Korean Officials Offer Condolences Over Nigerian President's Death

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's vice parliamentary speaker and other senior officials visited the Nigerian Embassy in Pyongyang on May 7 to express condolences over the death of the African country's president, state media reported.

   Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua died May 5 at the age of 58 after a long battle with kidney and heart ailments, which had kept him out of the office since November.

   In a report monitored in Seoul, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that ranking officials observed a moment of silence in his memory and made an entry in the condolence book.

   Visitors included Yang Hyong-sop, vice president of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA), Pak Ui-chun, minister of Foreign Affairs and Ri Ryong-nam, minister of Foreign Trade.

   The Presidium of the SPA, the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces, the Ministry of People's
Security, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Trade, the Korean Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries also sent wreaths to the Nigerian Embassy in memory of the president.

   Diplomatic envoys of different countries in Pyongyang also visited the Nigerian Embassy on the same day to mourn the death of the president, according to the report.

   The KCNA also said that Kim Yong-nam, president of the Presidium of the SPA, sent a message of condolence May 7 to Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, president of Nigeria, over the death of the country's former president.

   "Kim expressed deep condolences to the president and, through him, to the Nigerian people and the bereaved families and hoped that the government and people of Nigeria would overcome sorrow and achieve continued development and prosperity," it said.

  
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North Korean World Cup Team Leaves Pyongyang

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A North Korean football team left the country's capital, Pyongyang, on May 8 to train for the 2010 World Cup to be held in South Africa, the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

   North Korea has qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 44 years, when the 1966 World Cup was held in England.

   The KCNA did not reveal the team's destination, but Choson Sinbo, a newspaper published by the pro-Pyongyang General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, said May 7 that the North Korean team will train in Switzerland from May 10.

   The South Africa World Cup is slated to be held from June 11 to July 11.

  
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N. Korean Leader Watches Light Comedy Upon Return From China

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong-il watched a light comedy performance while accompanied by generals and party officials, state media said May 9, his first reported public activity after his five-day visit to China last week.

   The (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Kim watched "Echo of Mountain" performed by the State Theatrical Troupe, without giving the date or specific location, as is customary.

   In what was reportedly his second viewing, Kim "highly appreciated" the prize-winning performance staged by the troupe, the KCNA said.

   Among the audience were ranking officials including Kim Yang-gon, who oversees policies on South Korea, Jang Song-thaek, Kim's brother-in-law who heads a Workers' Party department, and Kim Yong-chun, minister of the People's Armed Forces, all of whom had accompanied Kim on the China trip, the report said.

   North Korean and Chinese media officially confirmed Kim's trip to Beijing and his summit with Chinese leader Hu Jintao as the reclusive leader was heading home on Friday.

  
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North Korea Claims It Produced Nuclear Fusion

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on May 12 it has succeeded in producing a nuclear fusion reaction, a claim that appeared to be aimed at increasing its bargaining power before the socialist state rejoins stalled six-nation talks on its nuclear ambitions.

   Fusion reaction results in a thermonuclear explosion, such as one generated by a hydrogen bomb, which is far more powerful than a fission atomic device. Experts, however, say practical energy creation from fusion is decades away.

   "The successful nuclear fusion marks a great event that demonstrated the rapidly developing cutting-edge science and technology" of North Korea, Rodong Sinmum, the newspaper of its ruling party, said in a report seen in Seoul.

   The paper described the nuclear fusion technology as useful for "obtaining safe and environment-friendly new energy," but did not refer to its military implications.

   North Korea claimed in September last year that its uranium enrichment program -- a second track to building nuclear arms in addition to plutonium-based ones -- entered a "completion phase."

   North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests since 2006, the latest one in May 2009. It is widely believed to possess several plutonium-based bombs, but analysts doubt that it has the technology to mount them on long-range missiles.

   In his meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao last week in Beijing, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il pledged to create "favorable conditions" for the resumption of the six-party talks.

   His comments raised the prospect for the resumption of negotiations that involve the two Koreas, the United States, Japan, Russia and host China.

   South Korea and the U.S., however, maintain they will not agree to it until a probe into the deadly March 26 sinking of a South Korean warship near the border with North Korea ends.

  (END)