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SoKor says NoKor expresses commitment to ‘complete denuclearization’

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, April 20th, 2018

FILE PHOTOS: (Left-Right) North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in (REUTERS)

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in will sit down at the border “truce village” of Panmunjom to discuss a range of issues, including Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Days before the upcoming summit, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said the North has expressed its commitment to “complete denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula and is not seeking conditions.

Moon also explained that the North has not attached any conditions that the US cannot accept, like the withdrawal of American troops from South Korea.

“Now, North Korea is expressing a will to seek a complete denuclearisation to the international society. Also, they are showing us a will to have dialogues,” said the South Korean president.

North Korea has defended its nuclear and missile programmes, which it pursues in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, as a necessary deterrent against perceived US hostility.

The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war.

North Korea has said over the years that it could consider giving up its nuclear arsenal if the United States will its troops from South Korea and withdrew its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from South Korea and Japan.

However, in the latest development, Moon revealed that Pyongyang has expressed willingness to drop its demand that the United States withdraw troops stationed in the South in exchange for denuclearization.

This comes after President Donald Trump announced he is willing to leave the meeting with Kim if it falls short of his expectations. -Reuters

 

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Explainer: Why nuclear disclosure is key first step in North Korea’s denuclearization

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Monday, September 24th, 2018

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un acknowledges the audience after watching the performance titled “The Glorious Country” at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 19, 2018. Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool via REUTERS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY – RC155595F230

 

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New pledges made last week by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to curb his nuclear weapons program may have opened the door to further talks with Washington, but just how much impact would they have on the North’s nuclear arsenal?

At last week’s summit with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, Kim promised to allow outside inspections on key missile facilities, and expressed a willingness, for the first time, to “permanently” scrap North Korea’s main nuclear complex.

Graphic: Nuclear North Korea – tmsnrt.rs/2lE5yjF

While these are positive first steps, experts say they would do little to damage the country’s larger nuclear and missile capabilities, nor demonstrate whether Kim is serious about giving up his nuclear arsenal.

The agreement by Kim and Moon also does not stipulate any plans by North Korea to declare a list of its nuclear weapons, facilities and materials, or a concrete timeline for denuclearization.

With U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expected to meet his North Korean counterpart Ri Yong Ho to restart nuclear talks as soon as this week on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, here is a summary of Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile capabilities at stake.

YONGBYON

In the joint statement, the North expressed its willingness to “permanently dismantle” the Yongbyon nuclear complex if the United States takes corresponding action. Moon said this would include a declaration of an official end to the 1950-53 Korean War.

A sprawling complex located about 100 km (60 miles) north of the capital, Yongbyon is the country’s main nuclear facility and the birthplace of its nuclear programs.

Built in the late 1950s with Soviet aid, it houses at least three reactors, fissile materials, fuel re-processing plants and a multitude of research labs, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), a Washington-based think tank.

An operational five-megawatt reactor there produces weapons-grade plutonium, while there is also a facility to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU), also used to make atomic bombs, experts say.

Dismantling Yongbyon would slow the production of fissile material, but not reduce the current stockpile of plutonium and HEU, nor clear suspicions of other secret production sites, says Joshua Pollack, a North Korea missile expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in California.

“Yongbyon is where all of North Korea’s plutonium production has taken place, so this step would effectively cap their stockpile of plutonium,” Pollack said.

“Unfortunately, it would neither reduce their current plutonium stockpile nor address the production of highly enriched uranium, which most experts believe happens both at Yongbyon and at one or more other sites.”

North Korea has denied the existence of other secret sites, but U.S. media reports, citing intelligence sources, said in recent months the North has been running at least one covert uranium enrichment facility just outside of Pyongyang, known as the Kangson enrichment site.

“But there is still value in being able to verifiably shut down the known facilities with a negotiated mechanism for inspecting suspected sites,” said Jenny Town, managing editor of the Washington-based Stimson Centre’s 38 North project, which provides satellite imagery analyses of the North’s weapons facilities.

TONGCHANG-RI

North Korea also said it will “permanently dismantle” its missile engine testing site and launch platform in the northwestern town of Tongchang-ri in the presence of experts from “concerned countries”.

Also known as the Sohae satellite launching station, this site has been the country’s primary site for rocket launches since 2012. It is where the North last year test-fired intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) designed to reach the U.S. mainland.

The facility consists of a missile assembly building, a launch pad with a gantry and mobile launch platform, fuel and oxidizer storage, a rocket engine test stand and an instrumentation stand, according to NTI.

In July, after the Singapore summit between Kim and Trump, satellite imagery indicated the North has begun dismantling the engine test site in Tongchang-ri, but without allowing outsiders access for verification.

While it has served as a key test center for liquid fuel engines designed for long-range missiles and played an important role in the country’s ICBM development, Sohae’s importance may be diminishing, experts say. Pyongyang, having declared its newest ICBM complete in November, has called for mass production to begin.

The North has also been moving toward solid-fuel missiles that can be fired from harder-to-detect mobile launchers, making a fixed stand increasingly unnecessary. There is also at least one other operational missile launch station, Tonghae or Musudan-ri in the northeast, though it has not been used since 2009.

“Neither that engine test site nor launch platform would be U.S. priorities,” said Lee Ho-ryung, head of North Korea military studies at the Korea Institute for Defence Analyses in Seoul. “Maybe a political message to the United States, but that would hardly make meaningful steps toward denuclearization.”

EXISTING NUCLEAR STOCKPILE
Estimates on how many nuclear weapons North Korea vary. U.S. intelligence officials have put it at between 30 and 60 warheads, while South Korea’s intelligence agency said last month the North may have as many as 100 warheads.

38 North, which estimates North Korea has 50-60 nuclear warheads, said last year the operational Yongbyon reactor is capable of producing around 6 kg of plutonium every year, enough to make about two bombs.

The suspected continuation of production makes it an urgent task to get Pyongyang to first freeze nuclear and missile production, as well as convince it to declare all related facilities for verification, experts say.

“How far the North would go to disclose its facilities would be key,” said Kim Dae-young, a military analyst at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy in Seoul.

“Though it may be implausible to rid them completely of nuclear capabilities, it’s crucial to make it impossible for them to build the bombs again, including through regular inspections.”

Reporting by Hyonhee Shin in SEOUL and David Brunnstrom and Matt Spletanick in WASHINGTON; Additional reporting by Haejin Choi and Jeongmin Kim in SEOUL; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Lincoln Feast.

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Koreas’ first ladies visit Pyongyang children’s hospital, music university

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

North Korea’s First Lady Ri Sol Ju (Left) and South Korea’s First Lady Kim Jung-sook (Right) | REUTERS

South Korean first lady Kim Jung-sook visited a children’s hospital and music university with her North Korean counterpart Ri Sol Ju in Pyongyang on Tuesday (September 18), a tour that took place on the sidelines their husbands’ inter-Korean summit.

Ri accompanied Kim’s visit to the Okryu Children’s Hospital and the Kim Won Gyun University of Music, while North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in were holding their meeting in the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea.

South Korea’s music producer Kim Hyung-suk, singer Ailee and boy band member Zico from Block B joined the first ladies’ tour to the hospital and music college.

The footage provided by the Pyongyang Press Corps showed Kim greeting the hospital workers with Ri before watching an orchestra performance at the university.

On Wednesday (September 19), Kim is scheduled to visit the Mangyongdae School Children’s Palace, an educational institution for art, music, and sports for young talent. It is unknown Ri will be accompanying Kim for the second day of the state visit. — Reuters

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Illegal recruiter promising P100K salary in South Korea falls in entrapment

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2018

An illegal recruiter promising as much as P150,000 monthly salary for a factory job in South Korea was nabbed by authorities.

Flora Guzman was reported by three of her hopeful recruits after she demanded medical and training fees ranging from P70,000 – P150,000 but failed to send any of them abroad.

The victims said Guzman even asked for additional P30,000 for the supposed purchase of tickets.

This is when CIDG Anti-Transnational Crime Unit chief PSupt Roque Merdegia, Jr. began setting up an entrapment operation at a mall in Alabang, Muntinlupa where Guzman was eventually captured.

“Ito namang mga suspek ay hinihikayat pang mag participate sa pre-departure orientation seminar (PDOS) yung mga biktima dahil yun na lang daw ang kulang kaya kailangan nilang umattend sa PDOS at magbigay ng additional P10,000 para sa ticket (The suspect even encouraged the victims to participate in the pre-departure orientation seminar. She said they need to attend one and pay additional P10,000 for the ticket) ,” Merdegia said

He added that the police are also looking for Guzman’s accomplice, Michelle de Quiroz.

Guzman will be slapped with charges of estafa and illegal recruitment.

“Dumadaan sa kanya ang pera and we were surprised na siya pa ang nagka conduct ng pre-departure orientation seminar (The money went through her. We were surprised that she was conducting pre-departure orientation seminars), Merdegia said.

The case serves as a reminder to always check the legitimacy of recruitment agents and agencies at POEA to avoid falling prey to criminals. – Lea Ylagan

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