Archive for the ‘Pyongyang’ Category

Bush: North Korea must declare nuclear programs

April 19, 2008

By Jeremy Pelofsky 

CAMP DAVID, Maryland (Reuters) – The United States and South Korea on Saturday demanded North Korea submit its long overdue accounting of its nuclear weapons programs but offered no clues about how long they would be willing to wait for it.
President George W. Bush (R) and South Korean President Lee ... 
President George W. Bush (R) and South Korean President Lee Yoon-bak walk towards a news conference at Camp David in Thurmont, Maryland, after private talks at the Presidential retreat, April 19, 2008.(Larry Downing/Reuters)

Meeting for the first time at the secluded presidential retreat, President George W. Bush and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak also warned that once the declaration had been made, the information would have to be verified.

They appeared to back away from a reported proposal under which, according to sources familiar with the matter, Washington would list its concerns about the nuclear programs which Pyongyang would then acknowledge.

Some U.S. conservatives have criticized that idea as giving in to North Korea and aimed at getting a deal before Bush leaves office in early 2009.

“You know, there’s all kinds of rumors about what is happening and what’s not happening,” Bush said at a news joint conference with Lee. “Obviously I’m not going to accept a deal that doesn’t advance the interests of the region.”

North Korea, which tested a nuclear device in 2006, failed to meet a December 31, 2007 deadline to reveal its nuclear weapons programs, a deal struck with the United States, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia.

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Japan Threatens to Extend North Korean Sanctions

March 15, 2008

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan will extend economic sanctions against North Korea beyond April 13 unless progress was made on the fate of Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang decades ago, Kyodo news agency reported on Saturday.

Tokyo reviews the sanctions it imposed on the reclusive communist state every six months.The sanctions, which were imposed after Pyongyang conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, ban North Korean imports and bar its ships from calling at Japanese ports.

The fate of the abductees is a highly emotive issue in Japan. Pyongyang has admitted that its agents had kidnapped 13 Japanese in the 1970s and 1980s, five of whom have since been repatriated.

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China in efforts to bridge U.S., North Korea differences

March 6, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) – China is in discussions with the United States and North Korea on how to bridge differences and restart talks on ending the North’s nuclear ambitions, a senior Chinese Foreign Ministry official said on Thursday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il waves to soldiers during his ...
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il waves to soldiers during his inspection of the Korean People’s Army Unit 1159 in this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency on December 2, 2007. The exact date and location for this photo are not disclosed. China has urged North Korea to come forward and deliver on a nuclear disarmament pact before President George W. Bush leaves office early next year, diplomatic sources said on Thursday.
(Korea News Service/Reuters)

Talks on disarming North Korea have been on hold since Pyongyang missed an end-2007 deadline to give a complete inventory of its nuclear arms program as agreed under a multilateral deal.

“China has raised all kinds of means with both the American and the North Korean sides,” Vice Foreign Minister Wu Dawei told reporters on the sidelines of China’s annual parliament session.

“We are still discussing these means.”

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U.S. presses N. Korea on Syria

February 20, 2008

By Nicholas Kralev
February 20, 2008

The United States, alarmed by mounting evidence that North Korea gave nuclear assistance to Syria, has rejected pressure from some of its partners in six-nation talks to compromise on an overdue declaration of Pyongyang’s nuclear activities, U.S. officials said yesterday.
The declaration, which was due at the end of December, would complete the second phase of an October deal aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and clear the way for promised political and economic benefits to the communist state.

“We won’t have a complete and correct declaration until we have a complete and correct declaration,” Christopher R. Hill, the chief U.S. negotiator, said yesterday after meeting with his North Korean counterpart, Kim Kye-gwan, in Beijing. “So I’m not sure if we yet have an understanding on that.”

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U.S. diplomat to visit North Korea this week

January 28, 2008
By Arshad Mohammed 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. diplomat will visit Pyongyang this week to try to advance a stalled deal under which North Korea promised to disclose all its nuclear programs and eventually abandon them, a U.S. official said on Monday.

 The U.S. official, who asked not to be named, said Sung Kim, the director of the State Department’s Office of Korean Affairs, was expected to make stops in Seoul on Tuesday and in Beijing on Wednesday before visiting Pyongyang on Thursday.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is pictured claping his hands ...
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il is pictured claping his hands to acknowledge soldiers’ salutes during his inspection of a Korean People’s Army unit, in North Korea, in 2006. Kim is likely to visit China in March to discuss economic issues, the South’s Yonhap news agency said Sunday, quoting unnamed sources.

NKorea nuclear disablement to begin

November 5, 2007

By HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press Writer Mon Nov 5, 7:25 AM ET

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea was expected to begin disabling its nuclear facilities Monday, marking the biggest step the communist country has ever taken to scale back its atomic program.

The North shut down its sole functioning nuclear reactor at Yongbyon in July, and promised to disable it by year’s end in exchange for energy aid and political concessions from other members of talks on its nuclear program: the U.S., China, Japan, South Korea and Russia.

Disabling the reactor at Yongbyon, north of Pyongyang, would mark a further breakthrough in efforts to convince the North to scale back its nuclear program. The country conducted its first-ever nuclear test in October of last year.

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Disarm North Korea? No Chance!

November 5, 2007

If you’re trying to measure any positive achievements that may have been accomplished in the Six Party talks seeking to disarm North Korea’s nuclear arsenal, it’s helpful to remember Charles Schultz’s Peanuts comic strip.

Each year, as football season began, Peanuts fans saw Lucy hold a football upright for would-be place-kicker Charlie Brown to run up and kick.  But — no matter how many elaborate promises to the contrary — every time Charlie ran up to the ball, Lucy pulled it away at the last minute.  Poor Charlie was left flailing in the air and flat on his back.  Each year it was the same, with Lucy promising this time it would be different and Charlie believing her despite Lucy’s long record of broken promises.  It became clear to most readers that Lucy simply could not be trusted to perform as promised and Charlie would never learn from his experiences. He was simply doomed to repeatedly suffer the same consequences.  

A similar historical theme has prevailed in US/North Korea relations and, most recently, the Six Party talks.  For just as the North Koreans have done so many times before in making international agreements to curtail aggressive behavior, like Lucy, they always  “pull the ball away,” failing to abide by their promises.  

The Six Party talks began in 2003 as a result of North Korea’s withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  To date, six rounds of talks have taken place, with the first four bearing no fruit.  Only the third phase of the fifth round of these talks, held in February 2007, yielded hope North Korea might shed its historic role of playing “Lucy” to America’s “Charlie Brown.”  Pyongyang agreed to shut down its nuclear facilities in exchange for fuel assistance and normalized relations with the US.  While specific terms were incorporated into the agreement including a deadline for compliance, so too were some very objective requirements.  An example of the former was North Korea’s commitment to disclose all its nuclear activities and disable its facilities; an example of the latter was its commitment — along with the other participants — to implement positive steps to increase mutual trust.  

The first deadline provided for in the agreement was never met as Pyongyang imposed new stumbling blocks.  And, in September, evidence came to light that Pyongyang had undertaken an initiative in direct contravention of its obligation to enhance mutual trust.

On September 6th, Israeli aircraft attacked a target under construction in Syria.  Surprisingly, both Israel and Syria remain tight-lipped about the incident.  Some details have emerged.  Unsure of the purpose of the construction activity, Israeli commandos went into Syria to find out.  They gathered soil samples near the site which were found to be radioactive; boxes and equipment bore Korean markings.  It was clear Pyongyang had once again deceived the US by having agreed to disarm its nuclear capability, only to covertly relocate it to Syria.
Interestingly, while Pyongyang sought to deceive the US, the US acted to enhance “mutual trust” with Pyongyang.  When a North Korean merchant ship came under attack by pirates off the Somali coast on October 30, a US warship in the vicinity came to her aid.  Two pirates were killed in the ensuing engagement, after which the US ship then rendered medical assistance to injured Korean crew members.  The North Korean ship was then allowed to go on her way.

The US and South Korea have taken positive steps towards North Korea to follow up on peaceful initiatives and demonstrate good will.  Pyongyang has yet to reciprocate, repeatedly following up such positive steps with negative ones of its own.  Even the simplest of commitments — Kim Jong Il’s promise to hold a second summit in Seoul after South Korean President D. J. Kim’s historic meeting with him in Pyongyang in 2000 — went unfulfilled.  The only way a second summit eventually was held was when D. J. Kim’s successor, once again, traveled to Pyongyang.  (Kim Jong Il apparently believes the mountain must come to Mohammad as Mohammad doesn’t go to the mountain.)

Readers of Peanuts, over time, came to realize Lucy was incapable of doing what she promised and Charlie Brown was, for some reason, incapable of understanding this.  Many observers of US/North Korean relations have come to realize, over time, Pyongyang is incapable of meeting commitments and the US, for some reason, is incapable of understanding this, constantly subjecting itself to ridicule.  It is time for the US and other Six Party talk participants to recognize there is no hope for North Korea taking positive steps to disarm absent regime change.  Unless this happens, the only change in Pyongyang’s conduct we can expect is the nature of its deceit. 
James Zumwalt is a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer who served in Vietnam and the Gulf War.  He has been to North Korea 10 times.

Bush, South Korean President Roh Run Amok

September 7, 2007

By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer 14 minutes ago

SYDNEY, Australia – President Bush‘s talks with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun ended on a sour note Friday not over the war in Iraq, but rather the Korean conflict that ended more than five decades ago.

As Bush began to wind down his stay at the Asia-Pacific summit, Roh challenged Bush to make a declaration to end the Korean War. That conflict ended in a truce in 1953, not a peace treaty, so the two sides technically remain at war.

The snag was the first in a series of sit-downs Bush is having here with leaders from Pacific rim nations. He also spoke Friday with Russian President Vladimir Putin and will meet on Saturday with the leaders of Japan, Indonesia and Australia. Protesters plan a march through the city on Saturday, a day after scuffles broke out between riot police and some demonstrators.

Bush’s talks with Roh focused on the six-nation talks to get North Korea to give up its weapons. Soon after the mini diplomatic incident, Christopher Hill, the U.S. envoy handling the negotiations, announced that nuclear experts from the U.S., China and Russia will travel to North Korea next week to survey nuclear facilities to be shut down.

Bush said that during his talks with Roh, he reaffirmed the U.S. position that when North Korean leader Kim Jong Il dismantles his nuclear program, the United States would formally end the Korean War.

Whatever Roh heard Bush say through his translator, it wasn’t good enough.

“I think I did not hear President Bush mention the — a declaration to end the Korean War just now,” Roh said as cameras clicked and television cameras rolled.

Bush said he thought he was being clear, but obliged Roh and restated the U.S. position.

That wasn’t good enough either. “If you could be a little bit clearer in your message,” Roh said.

Bush, now looking irritated….

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