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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 214 (June 14, 2012)

N. Korea Proliferation Threatens Both U.S. and China: Panetta

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The United States and China share responsibility for resolving the issue of North Korea's proliferation activities, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said on June 7.

   On a trip to Asia, Panetta singled out North Korea as a continuing threat, along with the terrorism, not only in Pakistan but in Yemen and Somalia and North Africa.

   "We continue to face the instability of North Korea and the potential for some kind of conflict with that country. We face the same thing with Iran," he said during a visit to the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses in New Delhi, India, according to a transcript released on June 7 by his department.

   He expressed concern about proliferation by North Korea, which has conducted two nuclear tests and possesses a host of missiles.

   "We also face the threat of, frankly, nuclear proliferation from an unstable North Korea -- that's something that is as much a threat to China as it is to others in this region -- and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," he said.

   The secretary was apparently pressing Beijing to join efforts to deal with various challenges from North Korea and others, including terrorism, piracy, humanitarian and disaster needs as well as the ability to use sea lanes and protect maritime rights.

   The two superpowers, dubbed G-2, have been often engaged in subtle diplomatic stand-offs over ways to deal with North Korea, China's key communist ally.

   "They're threats to all of the countries in this region," Panetta stressed. "And it's for that reason that we all have to work together in developing a cooperative relationship and developing the capabilities of these countries so that we can all confront these issues."

   He reiterated the importance of having capabilities to handle more than one enemy at a time.

   "For example, if we have a war in Korea and we face a threat in the Straits of Hormuz, we have to have the ability to address both of those and to win. And we think we have projected a sufficient force to do that," he said.


N. Koreans Convicted of Trying to Steal Rocket Technology from Ukraine

MOSCOW (Yonhap) -- Two North Korean nationals were sentenced to eight year prison terms after being caught trying to steal secret rocket technology from the Ukraine, local sources said on June 9.

   Sources said the North Koreans identified as Ryu Song-chul and Lee Tae-kil were arrested for spying in July after they tried to steal classified technology from the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau in Dnipropetrovsk. The sentence was handed down by a Ukrainian court late last month.

   Yuzhnoye's Dnipropetrovsk bureau is in charge of rocket and satellite development and was responsible for making the 11,000-kilometer range R-36M multi-warhead intercontinental ballistic missile during the Soviet era.

   Security Service of Ukraine, which carried out the arrest, said the two worked at North Korea's trade representative office in Minsk, Belarus, but had made contact with a researcher at Yuzhnoye.

   It said the researcher had notified authorities of the contact and helped set up a trap where the two were apprehended as they took photos of the classified data.

   The technology that the two North Korean sought was centered on rocket vehicles and in particular liquid fuel engine systems that could greatly increase the range of a rocket.

   Local experts said that if Pyongyang secured the technology, it would have helped them build rockets that could reach the continental United States.

   The source, meanwhile, said that the two men claimed they were innocent of all charges and planned to appeal the case to a higher court.

   North Korea conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, and has launched several long-range rockets, most recently its failed rocket launch on April 13. It has claimed its rocket program is to place a satellite into orbit but the international community has condemned it as an attempt to skirt international regulations while testing ballistic missile technology.


North Korea Set for Last Arirang Show: U.S. Website

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- North Korea plans to end its annual dance and gymnastics performance, called "Arirang show," this year, a U.S.-based website on North Korea said on June 11.

   Citing its sources in Pyongyang, the North Korean Economy Watch said "the Arirang Mass Games of 2012 will be the last."

   This year's show is reportedly scheduled to run from Aug. 1 through Sept. 9.

   Begun in 2002, the extravaganza has become a yearly event since 2007.

   "2012 will be Arirang's 10th anniversary, and it seems the powers that be have decided to close the curtain," a posting on the website said.

   Since North Korea marks the 65th anniversary of its founding in 2013, along with the 60th anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War, organizers appear to be planning a "whole new performance" for next year, it added.


S. Korea, U.S. Discuss N. Korea Human Rights, Activists Held in China

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The U.S. envoy on human rights in North Korea held talks on June 11 with senior South Korean officials and discussed the humanitarian situation in the North and the South Korean activists detained in China, Seoul officials said.

   Ambassador Robert King arrived in Seoul on Saturday for a weeklong visit. On June 11, King met with Kim Soo-kwon, a Seoul ambassador in charge of North Korean humanitarian issues, and Lim Sung-nam, Seoul's chief envoy on the North's nuclear weapons program.

   During the talks, King and the South Korean officials "exchanged a wide range of views on many current issues concerning human rights in North Korea," said a senior official at Seoul's foreign ministry.

   They also discussed the sensitive issue of four South Korean activists who have been under detention in China since late March for apparently helping North Korean defectors, the official said on the condition of anonymity.

   The activists included Kim Young-hwan, a noted anti-North Korean activist who once famously led pro-North Korea underground movements in South Korea.

   "To my knowledge, Special Envoy King will also meet with representatives of the Committee for the Release of Kim Young-hwan, so the issue will be discussed on several occasions during his visit," the official said, referring to a civic group organized to free the activists.

   Reasons for their arrests remain unclear, but a rights group in Seoul said the four face charges of "endangering" China's national security.

   Kim was an influential student leader who led pro-North Korea movements in South Korea in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Known as a key ideologue of North Korea's guiding juche idea of self-reliance, he sneaked into North Korea in 1991.

   But he was disappointed with what he witnessed in North Korea during the trip and later renounced his juche conviction and became an anti-North Korea activist.

   The talks between King and Seoul officials also broached the fate of three South Korean women who have reportedly been held in North Korea since 1987, the official said.

   Seoul has ramped up diplomatic efforts to press Pyongyang to release Shin Suk-ja and her two daughters. Shin's husband, Oh Kil-nam, fled the North alone in 1986. Oh said his family was lured to the communist nation in 1985 via West Germany, where he was studying economics.

   In April, North Korea reported Shin had died and the daughters wanted nothing to do with their father, who they accused of abandoning them.


'Good Thing' from N. Korea, But Not Enough: State Dept.

WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The U.S. government said on June 11 that there are some "good" indications from North Korea but that it should show its seriousness on dialogue through action.

   "It's a good thing, obviously, that they are saying better things," Victoria Nuland, spokeswoman for the State Department, said at a press briefing.

   She was responding to the latest statement by Pyongyang's foreign ministry that the nation has no plans for a nuclear test "at present."

   The ministry described media reports of its possible third nuclear experiment as stemming from Seoul's efforts to "rattle the nerves" of North Korea.

   Nuland stressed that the U.S. will judge North Koreans' intention "by their actions rather than their words."

   "We continue to call on them to fulfill their international obligations, to refrain from any provocative activity, including provocative rhetoric, with regard to their neighbors," she said.

   She said there has been no direct communication recently between the U.S. and North Korea.

   Asked about whether the U.S. views the Feb. 29 deal with North Korea as null and void, she offered a diplomatically worded answer.

   "They (North Koreans) should be bound by the terms of their U.N. obligations and by the talks that they entered into in 2005," Nuland said.

   The so-called Leap Day agreement was an attempt to "reaffirm commitments that they had made," she added, but it was Pyongyang that chose to disregard it within weeks by launching a long-range rocket in April.

   Under the Leap Day deal, the North agreed to suspend some of its nuclear activities and impose a moratorium on missile and nuclear testing.

   In return, the U.S. was in final consultations with the North for administrative details on the agreed-upon provision of 240,000 tons of food.

   "But the fundamental issue hasn't changed, which is our expectation that they'll live up to their international obligations," Nuland said.


ITU Admonishes North Korea for GPS Disruptions

TOKYO (Yonhap) -- A U.N communications agency admonished North Korea for its recent jamming of satellite navigation signals that affected hundreds of commercial flights and ships in South Korea, a news agency reported on June 10.

   According to Kyodo News Agency, the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Hamadoun Toure said the ITU warned the North to stop its Global Positioning System (GPS) disruptions in regards to the attacks that occurred between April 28 and May 13, during a press conference with the Japanese media.

   The ITU, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, is the U.N specialized agency for information and communications technologies with three main areas of activity -- radio communications, standardization and development.

   Further jamming attacks have not been detected since the GPS disruptions in May. GPS is a satellite-based navigation system widely used by planes, ships and the military as well as private vehicle owners.

   Such actions are a violation of the ITU charter which bans harmful interference of signals and International Civil Aviation Organization agreements which guarantees the security of international commercial airplanes.

   After South Korea met with disruptions in its air and maritime traffic navigation systems, the issue was taken to the ITU seeking ways to punish the North for its attempts to sabotage the South's GPS signals.

   South and North Korea are both members of the ITU.


North Korea Expert Panel Term Extended Until 2013

NEW YORK (Yonhap) - The term of the panel of experts overseeing sanctions on North Korea was extended for another year, amid growing international concern about a possible nuclear test following April's failed rocket launch.

   The U.N. Security Council (UNSC) on June 12 adopted a resolution to extend the lifespan of the panel, established through the UNSC resolution 1874, until June 12, 2013, during a meeting held at the U.N. headquarters.

   The UNSC resolution 1874 was adopted in June 2009 just after North Korea conducted a second nuclear test.

   There has been recent speculation that the impoverished nation may carry out a nuclear test to try to compensate for the botched rocked launch in April.

   The panel, consisting of experts from the five permanent members of the UNSC along with South Korea and Japan, collects, reviews, and analyzes the sanctions imposed on the North, as well as making recommendations on how the country can better execute them.

   In May 2011, the expert panel submitted a report to the UNSC Sanctions Committee saying that the development of the North's enriched uranium program is for "military purposes," while raising suspicions that North Korea and Iran may be engaged in munitions trade via a flight route to-and-from China.

   The report, however, was not made public, as China declined to accept the details.

   The expert panel originally has a one-year term and was set to expire in June 2010, but has been extended each June, making this year the third time.