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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 249 (February 14, 2013)

N.K. Reiterates War Threat after South's Military Chief Hints at Pre-emptive

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea reiterated its threat of a "real war" on Feb. 8 after the South's top military officer hinted at a pre-emptive attack if the socialist nation shows a "clear intent" to use a nuclear weapon.

   "On the top of hatred and indignation, (we) cannot help but feel like laughing," the North's propaganda Web site Uriminzokkiri said in a commentary, referring to remarks made by Gen. Jung Seung-jo, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Feb. 6.

   During a parliamentary meeting, Jung said, "If (the North) shows a clear intent to use a nuclear weapon, it is better to get rid of it and go to war, rather than being attacked," indicating a pre-emptive strike.

   Referring to the South as a warmonger, the Web site's commentary continued, "They do not know what a real war is like and they would shudder after experiencing our military's spirit to attack in a single breath."

   "We can communicate no more with the herd of vicious traitors of the nation," the commentary said.

   The North has intensified its war threats against the South after Seoul joined the United Nations Security Council in adopting a resolution designed to punish the communist country for its Dec. 12 launch of a long-range missile.

   Despite the North's claim that the launch was to put a satellite into orbit, the outside world believes it was a covert plan to test its ballistic missile technology.

   In reaction to the resolution adopted in January, the North disclosed its plan to conduct a "high level" nuclear test.

   South Korean and U.S. officials have said the country is technically ready to detonate a nuclear bomb at any time pending approval from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

   Meanwhile, Uriminzokkiri said in a separate video clip report that South Korea's recent disclosure of the North's nuclear test tunnel layout is "fictional," and refuted two minutes of video footage and synthesized images of the tunnel in the film.

   The South's Defense Ministry released on Monday pictures of the North's nuclear test tunnel in the northern tip of the country, citing what it called a North Korean documentary aired by a North Korean TV station in September 2010.

   The captured images, presented by the ministry, showed that the horizontal spire-shaped tunnel dug into the 2,200-meter-tall Mt. Mantap was composed of three traps and nine barriers designed to prevent radioactive debris from reaching the surface.


U.S. Using Rocket Launch to Develop Missile Defense System: N.K. Media

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A North Korean media outlet on Feb. 8 claimed that the United States is using the Unha-3 rocket launch as an excuse to develop its own missile defense system, as part of its grand plan to dominate the world.

   Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers’ Party of (North) Korea, said in an article monitored in Seoul that Washington aims to create a global missile interception network to ensure its continued military supremacy.

   A missile defense system aids in the detection, tracking, and destruction of attacking missiles. Such a system can protect the U.S. and its allies from small-scale missile attacks by "rogue" states with weapons of mass destruction.

   Rodong Sinmun also said criticizing Pyongyang's Dec. 12 launch of a long-range rocket is a ploy to establish the missile defense system. The paper argued the U.S. strategy is to pressure its potential foes from many sides.

   The daily also stressed that the United States is primarily responsible for endangering global peace and stability by triggering an arms race. It said Washington's actions are causing other countries to develop missiles of their own.

   Pyongyang has persistently claimed that the three-stage rocket capable of carrying a payload more than 10,000 kilometers is designed to send satellites into space.

   Despite such claims, the United States and the international community at large think last year's launch was a cover to allow the isolationist country to develop banned missile technology. The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution condemning the launch in January and agreed to tighten sanctions against the communist country.


New Version of Kim Jong-il's Giant Statue Unveiled ahead of His Birthday

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- The new version of late leader Kim Jong-il's giant statue was unveiled just days before his birthday, slated for Feb. 16, which replaced his knee-length coat with a jumper.

   The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Feb. 10 that Kim Jong-il's statue, which was erected along with his father Kim Il-sung's statue on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang, changed his knee-length coat to a jumper.

   The change came about two months after North Korea had unveiled a newly renovated mausoleum of the ruling Kim family, where the bronze statue of Kim Jong-il was standing alongside a similar statue of his father and the country's founder Kim Il-sung.
Some watchers in Seoul speculate that the change came as North Korean authorities apparently considered the jumper better fits the "Dear Leader," who often inspected military units and factories in the signature attire.

   Kim Jong-il's statues were erected in humble reverence in different parts of the capital and local areas. Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack in December 2011.


First 24-hour Pharmacy Opens in Pyongyang

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- A joint venture between North Korea and Switzerland has been operating the North's first 24-hour pharmacy in the capital city of Pyongyang since last year, the company's Web site showed on Feb. 11.

   Pyongsu Pharmaceutical Factory first launched its business in 2004 in partnership with the North's health ministry and has since opened nine drug stores in the showy capital to provide North Korean people with essential medicine, such as aspirin and digestive aids.

   In August 2012, Pyongsu opened a 24-hour pharmacy "Taedongmun Pharmacy," on the first floor of a luxury apartment building near the Mansudae area, where statues of North Korea's founder Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il are located, the Web site said, noting it is the first pharmacy to be open around the clock in Pyongyang.

   Pyongsu is the first North Korean pharmaceutical factory to meet international quality standards set by the World Health Organization for essential drugs distributed in the socialist country, it said.


North Korea Says It Will Launch More Long-range Rockets

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on Feb. 12 that it will continue to launch long-range rockets along with the pursuit of "all-out action of high intensity" to ensure its own security.

   The message carried by the North's official KCNA was reached at the meeting of the Political Bureau of the ruling Workers' Party Central Committee that was held on Feb. 11.

   "The bureau stressed the need to continue launching satellites of the Kwangmyongsong series and powerful long-range rockets," the news outlet said in a lengthy report monitored in Seoul.

   Pyongyang launched the three-stage Unha-3 rocket in late December, which is estimated to have a range of roughly 13,000 kilometers. The launch was the second undertaken last year and the fifth overall since 1998. North Korea claimed that the latest rocket was designed to carry the Kwangmyongsong satellite into space, but the outside world viewed it as a cover to conduct banned intercontinental ballistic missile tests.

   The KCNA report added that there is a need to "stage an all-out action of high intensity for reliably protecting the security and sovereignty of the country," citing a grave security situation on the 65th anniversary of the founding of the communist nation. It said the (North) Korean People's Army (KPA) must keep itself fully ready for combat and maximize its preparedness.

   "Once an order is issued, the KPA should blow up the stronghold of aggression at a strike and wipe out the brigandish U.S. imperialists and the South Korean puppet army, and thus accomplish the historic cause of national unification," it said in an English dispatch.

   The report, however, did not directly say whether the country will conduct another nuclear test. The socialist country has been threatening to carry out a "high level" test to bolster its nuclear deterrence ever since the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution on Jan. 23 (Korea time) condemning the Unha-3 launch and warned the North not to escalate tension.

   South Korean officials have been speculating that North Korea's possible nuclear test will enter its most critical stage this week, since many said if the reclusive country goes ahead with the test, it will take place before Feb. 16, the birthday of late leader Kim Jong-il. The birthday is one of the most important holidays in the North. The late Kim conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

   The news agency said the Political Bureau meeting was attended by the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, and members and alternate members of the ruling party's Central Committee. The gathering also emphasized the need to further deepen and accomplish the "sacred cause" of upholding Kim Il-sung, the country's founder, and Kim Jong-il as "eternal leaders of the Workers' Party and the revolution." Kim Jong-il is the father of the incumbent leader Kim Jong-un, who took power in late 2011.


North Korea Suggests Additional Nuke Tests If U.S. Reacts with Hostility

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea warned on Feb. 12 that it would carry out more nuclear tests if the United States moves to penalize the country for its latest atomic blast.

   In a statement issued in the name of an unidentified foreign ministry spokesman, the North claimed that its third nuclear test on Feb. 12 was a self-protective move to counter Washington's "hostility."

   The latest test, the statement said, demonstrated the North's resolve to never allow its sovereign right to launch satellites into space to be compromised. Pyongyang has consistently said it would conduct a nuclear test of "high level" after the U.N. Security council passed a resolution on Jan. 23 (Korea time) condemning the launch of the long-range Unha-3 rocket in mid-December.
The statement said North Korea has no reason to conduct another nuclear test, but insisted that The Feb. 12 detonation was designed to "show the rage of the military and the people against the criminal hostility displayed by the United States," and to highlight the "songun" or the military-first spirit and capabilities of the country.

   The statement also said that any moves by the international community to impose additional sanctions such as searching North Korean ships in international waters will be viewed as an act of war and will trigger "merciless retaliation."


North Korean Media Portrays 3rd Nuke Test as Leader's Achievement

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korean media portrayed the country's third underground nuclear test as the stunning achievement of Kim Jong-un in an effort to boost the young leader's personality cult.

   The KCNA released stories that covered the elation felt by the people and military personnel on hearing that Pyongyang showed the world its nuclear deterrent capability.

   This type of reporting was repeated by the North's official Korean Central TV Station and showed interviews with ordinary citizens living in the capital city who hailed the test successful because the people followed Kim's leadership and teachings.

   Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers' Party of (North) Korea, also heaped praise on Kim in its extensive coverage of the nuclear test.

   It claimed people were awed by the strength of a country that had Kim as its leader. "If we have our Dear Marshal on our side we will always prevail," a head of a local farm cooperative said.

   In addition to these tactics, the North has stressed that conducting a nuclear test reflected the wishes of the people.

   The test, conducted just before noon, took place less than three weeks after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution condemning the launch of a long-range rocket on Dec. 12. The detonation, which Seoul estimated had a yield of 6-7 kilotons, followed the 2006 and 2009 tests that all drew flak from the international community.

   After carrying out the test, the North issued threats that it could follow through with additional measures, including more nuclear tests and the launching of long-range rocket if the U.S. and other foreign countries decided to impose more sanctions.