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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 209 (May 10, 2012)
*** INTER-KOREAN RELATIONS

Opposition Leader Warns North Korea against Nuclear Test

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The new floor leader of South Korea's main opposition party urged North Korea on May 7 not to conduct a nuclear test, saying such a move would result in nothing but trouble.

   "I once again warn North Korea to immediately halt (preparations for) a third nuclear test that would do all harm but no good," Democratic United Party (DUP) Rep. Park Jie-won said during the first meeting of the party's emergency council.

   Last week, Park was elected as the DUP floor leader in the incoming National Assembly. Until a new party leader is selected at next month's national convention, he will also serve as acting party chief in his capacity as head of the emergency council.

   Park also called on South Korea and the United States to try to reduce tensions with the isolated North.

   After North Korea's unsuccessful rocket launch on April 13, concerns have grown that the socialist regime could stage additional provocations. Experts have talked of the possibility of a nuclear test, more missile tests and border clashes.

   Officials in Seoul have said the North appears to have completed preparations for a nuclear test, digging a new underground tunnel at its Punggye-ri test site in the country's northeast, though it is unclear if or when it will conduct such a test.

   North Korea previously carried out two nuclear tests following failed rocket launches, first in 2006 and then in 2009.

   Last week, the five permanent U.N. Security Council members -- the United States, Britain, China, Russia and France -- issued a joint statement urging Pyongyang to "refrain from further actions which may cause grave security concerns in the region, including any nuclear tests."

   On May 6, North Korea rejected that appeal and vowed to continue to push strongly for its nuclear and rocket programs.

  
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N. Korea Faxes Propaganda Messages to S. Korean Groups

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea has sent faxed messages to 13 South Korean civic and religious organizations in recent weeks to criticize South Korea's alleged insult to the North's dignity, an official said on May 8.

   The messages came in response to South Korea's accusation that the North wasted millions of dollars on celebrating the centennial of the April 15 birth of the country's late founder Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un.

   South Korea has said the North should have used the money to buy much-needed food for its 24 million people.

   Some South Koreans have recently held anti-Pyongyang events in Seoul.

   One of the messages claimed that Seoul's insult to the North is a provocation by conservative forces to win the presidential election in December, according to the official who is familiar with the issue.

   South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's single five-year term ends early next year and by law, he cannot seek re-election. North Korea has repeatedly condemned Lee as a traitor and called for his ouster in an apparent protest of his hard-line policy toward Pyongyang.

   The latest faxed messages came as Pyongyang has threatened to launch special military actions to reduce Seoul to ashes in minutes over Seoul's defamation of the North's leader.

  
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S. Korea to Protest against N. Korea's Electronic Jamming Signals

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- South Korea said on May 9 it will urge North Korea to immediately stop electronic jamming signals that have raised new safety concerns for civilian flights and ships amid Pyongyang's military threats.

   North Korea has been disrupting global positioning system (GPS) signals since April 28, though no accidents have been reported, the Korea Communications Commission in Seoul said.

   GPS is a satellite-based navigation system widely used by flights, ships and military as well as ordinary drivers.

   The North's move came five days after the socialist country threatened to launch special military actions to reduce Seoul to ashes in minutes over South Korea's alleged insult to the North's dignity.

   "The North's act of disturbing GPS signals constitutes a violation of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) charter that bans harmful interference," the communications watchdog said in a press release.

   South and North Korea are members of the United Nations agency in charge of information and communication technologies.

   The communications watchdog said South Korea will lodge protests over the North's ongoing electronic jamming signals with North Korean representatives at the border village of Panmunjom that separates the two Koreas.

   The rival Koreas keep a Red Cross channel at Panmunjom to communicate urgent matters, though it remains unclear whether the North will accept the protest message via fax, according to the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.

   South Korea will also plan to hold close consultations with the international community over the North's jamming attacks and push to raise the issue with the ITU and International Civil Aviation Organization, said the watchdog, without giving a specific time frame.

   The watchdog said the North's jamming signals pose a threat to the safety of international civilian flights.

   The jamming attacks have affected 609 flights by 10 South Korean airlines and 48 foreign flights by 22 foreign airlines, including Korean Air, FedEx, UPS, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, according to Son Dong-hwan, a deputy director of the transportation ministry.

   He also said a U.S. military plane and 176 South Korean ships were also affected by disruption in GPS signals.

   Still, no accidents have occurred and flights and ships have been able to operate normally by using an inertial navigation system that uses a computer, motion sensors as well as rotation sensors, according to Son.

   The North has a track record of jamming electronic signals across the heavily fortified border.

   North Korea disturbed GPS signals in March last year when South Korea held joint military maneuvers with the United States in northwestern areas.

   Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said at that time that the North's attempt to block military communications was ineffective because most military devices use a military-only satellite navigation system.

   Despite the tensions, Unification Minister Yu Woo-ik reiterated that South Korea will leave open a "window of opportunity" for the North to make a right choice to bring changes to the isolated country.

   "We would like to give North Korea an opportunity," Yu said on May 9 in a conference on North Korea.

  (END)
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