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N.Korea slams Pelosi’s visit to truce village

North Korea on Saturday condemned US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the inter-Korean truce village of Panmunjom.

In a statement, Jo Yong-sam, director general of the Foreign Ministry’s press and information department, also criticized Pelosi for talking about “strong and expanded deterrent” against threats from North Korea during her trip to South Korea earlier this week, reports Yonhap News Agency.

She made a two-day visit here from Wednesday following a trip to Taiwan. She had talks with National Assembly Speaker Kim Jin-pyo and a phone call with President Yoon Suk-yeol.

Pelosi then visited the Joint Security Area of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).

It demonstrates the “hostile policy of the current U.S. administration towards the DPRK”, the North’s official said in the statement carried by Pyongyang’s state-run Korean Central News Agency.

Pelosi, who is “the worst destroyer of international peace and stability had incited the atmosphere of confrontation with Russia during her visit to Ukraine in April, and incurred the wrath of the Chinese people for her recent junket to Taiwan”, Jo said.

He warned that it “would be a fatal mistake for her to think that she can go scot-free in the Korean Peninsula. The US will have to pay dearly for all the sources of trouble spawned by her wherever she went”.

ALSO READ: China announces sanctions on Pelosi over Taiwan visit

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North Korea backs China over Pelosi’s Taiwan visit

In a quick response, Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said that the visit is “arousing serious concern of the international community”…reports Asian lite News

North Korea strongly denounced Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan on Wednesday, calling it an “impudent interference” by Washington into another nation’s internal affairs.

The speaker of the US House of Representatives arrived in Taiwan on Tuesday night despite fierce protests from China, becoming the highest-level official to make a formal trip there in decades. In a statement, she said her move “honours America’s unwavering commitment to supporting Taiwan’s vibrant democracy”.

In a quick response, however, Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said that the visit is “arousing serious concern of the international community”, as it stated support for China, which labeled Pelosi’s trip as infringing its “sovereignty and territorial integrity”, Yonhap news agency reported

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, wearing a white marshal uniform, waves to soldiers during a photo session on April 27, 2022.(Yonhap_IANS)

“The current situation clearly shows that the impudent interference of the US in internal affairs of other countries and its intentional political and military provocations are, indeed, the root cause of harassed peace and security in the region,” a spokesperson for the ministry was quoted as saying by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). “Taiwan is an inseparable part of China and the issue of Taiwan pertains to the internal affairs of China.”

“We vehemently denounce any external force’s interference in the issue of Taiwan, and fully support the Chinese government’s just stand to resolutely defend the sovereignty of the country and territorial integrity,” the unnamed spokesperson added, according to the KCNA’s English-language report. “The US scheme to disturb the growth and development of China and its efforts for accomplishing the cause of reunification is bound to go bankrupt.”

Pelosi is leading a congressional delegation in its Asia swing. It traveled to Singapore and Malaysia with plans to visit South Korea and Japan as well.

North Korea has openly stressed its strong ties with China amid an intensifying Sino-US rivalry.

ALSO READ: China to begin military drills as Pelosi visits Taiwan

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Yellen warns North Korea

Concern is growing that North Korea could be preparing to test a nuclear weapon for the first time since 2017 following a record number of missile tests this year, including that of its largest intercontinental ballistic missile…reports Asian Lite News

The United States has further sanctions it could adopt against North Korea, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told Reuters on Monday, adding that any nuclear test by Pyongyang would be seen as very provocative.

Concern is growing that North Korea could be preparing to test a nuclear weapon for the first time since 2017 following a record number of missile tests this year, including that of its largest intercontinental ballistic missile.

Yellen declined to give specifics of what further sanctions Washington could impose on North Korea, or when, but said there were options for doing so.

The US Treasury generally will not discuss sanctions it could put in place before any announcement, Yellen said in an interview on her military aircraft en route to Seoul, the South Korean capital.

But she said more potential sanctions were available to increase pressure on Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program, and such measures would probably be discussed during her meetings on Tuesday with senior South Korean officials in Seoul.

Washington would view any nuclear test as very provocative, she said.

Yellen will meet South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, Deputy Prime Minister Choo Kyung-ho, and other senior officials as she wraps up her first visit as secretary to the Indo-Pacific region, the Treasury said.

She visited Japan last week before traveling to the Indonesian island of Bali for a meeting with finance officials from the Group of 20 major economies.

North Korea should further reinforce its military strength against mounting threats and pressure from the US, the state-run media said Monday, in line with North Korea’s recent move to step up anti-American propaganda.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, wearing a white marshal uniform, waves to soldiers during a photo session on April 27, 2022.(Yonhap_IANS)

North Korea warns US

The Rodong Sinmun, an organ of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea, said that “a series of fierce confrontations with enemies has continued” for 70 years after the 1950-53 Korean War in a front-page political essay.

The political essay, which in North Korea is called a “jongron,” delineated the alleged damage inflicted by the US on North Korea during the Korean War. It claimed that US forces “massacred around 1,230,000 personnel just in the northern part” of North Korea for three years and schemed to use atomic bombs.

The newspaper underlined that the war would have never begun in 1950 if North Korea had had a “powerful war deterrent” as it has today, claiming that the “war is an armed conflict that can only be waged against an opponent who can be conquered.”

“The conclusion is that the invincible power to protect oneself is an essential guarantee for preventing war and a powerful treasured sword for safeguarding peace,” said the article titled “Let us strengthen our invincible power ten million times.”

The party organ said North Korea would have fought countless wars if North Korea had not chosen the “path to strengthen self-defense capabilities.”

The Rodong Sinmun repeatedly underscored the legitimacy of pushing forward its military buildup against the US, despite the socioeconomic challenges that North Koreans have faced due to the decision.

“Only our people, who keep the noble view of life proposed by the great party in their bosoms, can go the full distance in the path to strengthen self-defense capabilities,” the newspaper said, adding people who expect immediate benefits and prosperity will never be able to move forward on this path.

The party organ also argued that “North Korea, with powerful strength, has become a cause of great anxiety and concern for the US imperialists.”

“The word ‘war’ no longer exists in this land due to our reliable and effective nuclear deterrence for self-defense, and the future of our country will be firmly and perpetually guaranteed,” the Rodong Sinmun said. “But we must become stronger.”

The newspaper underlined that North Korea must continue military and nuclear buildup as long as “imperialism” exists, underscoring that “imperialists are still carrying out all kinds of brutalities and abusing their power around the world.”

“Our enemies are frantic with military exercises which give off a heavy smell of gunpowder to plunge this land into the ravages of war,” the newspaper said. “The threat and pressure by imperialists to restrain our development and plunder our country have been amplified at every moment.”

The Rodong Sinmun published another separate article on Monday, highlighting the US nuclear threat against North Korea and claiming that the US had considered using atomic bombs during the Korean War.

“Since the US imperialists’ schemes to conduct nuclear war provocations against the DPRK have not stopped even for a moment after the war and continued through the centuries to this day.”

The Rodong Sinmun’s reports were part of North Korea’s recent move to reinforce anti-American propaganda and sentiment on the occasion of the “month of anti-US joint struggle,” which the country designates as the period between June 25 and July 27.

North Korea has claimed the Korean War broke out, followed by the US invasion, while celebrating July 27 as the “Day of Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War.”

The resumption of the anti-US ideological campaign notably comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has repeatedly pledged to expeditiously reinforce national defense capabilities while remaining silent to the US offer for talks without conditions.

Pyongyang had suspended anti-American events held during the month and toned down anti-US rhetoric in 2018 in the wake of the first US-North Korea summit.

But the Kim Jong-un regime in June resumed politically charged events, including nationwide anti-American rallies and art exhibitions for the first time in five years.

Since then, North Korea has stepped up its anti-US indoctrination, publishing articles in internal- and external-oriented media outlets fostering anti-American sentiment and highlighting its claim of victory in the Korean War.

For instance, lecturers at the Sinchon Museum — which displays pictures and sculptures showing alleged US atrocities during the Korean War and is located in South Hwanghae Province — have provided anti-American ideological education for officials and workers at local cooperative farms, the Korean Central News Agency reported on July 10.

The KCNA said the lectures have made North Korean people harbor “thoughts of revenge against the US imperialist aggressors and class enemies.”

ALSO READ: After India, US to tame VPN providers

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Kim Jong-un edges towards a nuclear test in North Korea

Given the low probability of high-level negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang soon taking place, those in the first circle of power around Supreme Commander Kim, who favour a nuclear test, appear to be prevailing, writes Prof. Madhav Nalapat

Speculation is rising in key capitals that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is on the verge of testing a newly developed thermonuclear device. Authorities there believe that a fresh nuclear test would be advantageous in view of the impasse being faced with an unresponsive Biden administration. There has been an absence of any forward movement by President Biden on talks with the DPRK aimed at reducing tensions in the Korean peninsula.

Meanwhile, there is no progress on removal of the US sanctions imposed over the years on the DPRK. Such stasis has confirmed the view of hawks in Pyongyang that what is actually sought by the US-Japan alliance is the downfall of the Kim dynasty that has ruled the country since its founding in 1948. After such a change at the top, the calculation that is believed to have been made in Tokyo and Washington is that a new leader of North Korea would (as a consequence of the aftershocks of the fall of the Kim dynasty) be amenable to the elimination of the nuclear program, unlike the stand taken by the Kim family.

Given that North Korea is considered to have built up nuclear weapons and delivery capability sufficient to obliterate US bases in Japan, Guam and Hawaii, it is seen in Pyongyang as axiomatic that the Biden administration would not go to war as a consequence of resumed nuclear testing. As for sanctions, the calculation is that a demonstration of enhanced DPRK nuclear capability would increase rather than reduce prospects of US-DPRK talks to lower the rise in tensions caused by a resumption of testing.

A fresh test, in Pyongyang’s view, as conveyed by sources spoken to, would highlight the “wrongness of believing that sanctions can shake the iron resolve of Supreme Commander (Kim Jong Un) to ensure security” for the DPRK through nuclear capability. Another nuclear test (of a more advanced device) would, in the thinking within the first circle of power in Pyongyang, be a reality check to the “daydream ers and evil schemers who believe that they can scare into submission the Supreme Commander (Kim Jong Un) by threats of war or more sanctions”.

FUNCTIONAL ICBM LAUNCHED

These sources point to the numerous personality traits that Kim Jong Un shares with his grandfather Kim Il Sung, who founded the dynasty that has thus far ruled North Korea. Judging by his invasion of the South, it is evident that Kim Il Sung was a risk taker who had immense confidence in the resilience and capabilities of both himself and the people he led. Interestingly, several in the Korean peninsula believe that a part of the DNA of the Korean people originated in India courtesy a Royal Princess and her retinue, who is said to have moved to Korea millennia ago.

he noble ladies who accompanied the princess from India (who was probably from a coastal area) are said to have married into the Korean aristocracy of the time. Having waited more than a year for Washington under the Biden administration to enter into “realistic and equal” negotiations with Pyongyang, nuclear restraint in that capital seems to be on the way out. This is especially so after numerous missile launches have failed to persuade the White House to restart talks, including on the subject of sanctions. Of significance is the claim that the DPRK (according to the sources spoken to) appears to have made a breakthrough in the type of nuclear device that the country is capable of producing and deploying.

What appears to be a functional ICBM has been test launched since Joe Biden became the 46th President of the US. Now “all that remains is to show that the rocket can be armed with a nuclear device of sufficient destructive capability to deter even thoughts of attack” in the minds of either Japanese or US leaders. What has generated considerable “anger and doubt” in the first circle of policy in Pyongyang, which includes the “fiercely loyal, patriotic and capable” sister of the Supreme Commander, Kim Yo-jong.

Suspicion about US intentions aimed at regime change has been reinforced by the refusal of the White House to have permitted a peace treaty between the DPRK and the RoC, despite the former President of the RoC favouring such a move. His successor Yoon Seok-youl has walked away from his predecessor’s accommodative stance and aligned himself fully with the Washington-Tokyo hard line on North Korea.

(YONHAP_IANS)

KINETIC WINDOW HAS SHUT

Kim Jong Un has been going ahead at accelerating speed despite US-led sanctions with the DPRK’s nuclear and missile development. Evidence of the capability and resilience of the Korean people as a whole is present in the spectacular economic success of the southern part of the peninsula, the Republic of Korea (RoC). Given the nature of the Kim regime, acquiring accurate information about its inner workings is problematic, but sources known in the past to be accurate claim that the only window for ending the DPRK’s nuclear and missile program voluntarily was during the period when Kim Jong Il was in charge of the DPRK after the passing of his father Kim Il Sung in 1994.

The problem was, according to the sources communicated with, that the Clinton administration negotiators were insistent on North Korea completing the decommissioning of its nuclear and missile program before the US went ahead with significant sanctions relief. The sanctions relief offered in advance of complete fulfillment of US demands were merely cosmetic, high on symbolism but low on substance. The excuse trotted out by Clinton era negotiators was that it was “politically impossible” for President Clinton to give more upfront relief to the DPRK, as there would be adverse opinion even within the Democratic Party at any such substantive concession.

Whatever the reasons, the best (non-kinetic) chance available for the denuclearisation of North Korea was passed up during the period of the Clinton administration. As for seeking denuclearisation through kinetic means, by the time Barack Obama stepped down as President of the US in 2017, advances in nuclear and missile systems by the DPRK made what was an improbable into an impossible option.

SIMILAR POLICY THREAD ACROSS ADMINISTRATIONS

Even during the Trump presidency, sources aver that DPRK Supreme Commander Kim Jong Il knew “from the start” that he was being asked to carry out “irreversible actions in exchange for just promises of relief” by the US. Steps that could swiftly be reversed once the DPRK had carried out its part of such a (in the view of the first circle in Pyongyang) one-sided bargain. According to these sources, some of the comments being made by “influential theoreticians” in Tokyo and Washington during the Trump-era DPRK-US negotiations made it very likely that such a snapback of US concessions would take place once the DPRK trustingly delivered, on some “silly pretext”.

The George W. Bush presidency was regarded by the other side as a period of intensified efforts at “forcing rather than persuading” the other side to make irreversible commitments in exchange for cosmetic concessions by the US. Such a zig (of progress in talks being followed by the zag of reversal of gains) continued during the Obama period. It seemed as though the 44th President of the US had left the matter to his staff rather than get personally invested in securing a binding agreement in the manner President Trump later was. The consequence was that the Obama staffers who were engaged in negotiations substantively followed the Clinton-Bush line, offering only “small steps forward in exchange for big steps backward (from the nuclear and missile program)” by the DPRK.

During the Trump presidency, the perception on the other side was that the US President was never on the same page as key staff members, “many of whom wore scornful expressions on their faces (even while President Trump was speaking)”. The difference in “mood and tone” between President Trump and his key associates that was tracked by the other side strengthened the impression that President Trump was not politically or administratively truly in charge, and was “not strong enough to carry out any of the promises that he brought to the discussions in the manner of flower petals”.

A CONFIDENT KIM JONG UN

Once Kim Jong Un took charge in 2011, the window of opportunity available during the period in office of his predecessor Kim Jong Il for any voluntary reversal of the DPRK nuclear weapons program effectively closed. The new Supreme Commander of North Korea, from the start, was clear that the DPRK “needed to be treated as an equal of the US”. This included at least tacit acceptance of its nuclear status. In the view of the North Korean leadership, a credible nuclear deterrent was an indispensable component of regime security for the Kim dynasty.

The Korean nation, “once unified, must be a nuclear weapons power for the world to show it respect” was the view of the inner ring of the North Korean leadership, according to the sources accessed. In the meantime, what was in effect on offer by Pyongyang was a non-aggression pact between the US plus allies and the DPRK, in which neither side would mobilise (much less use) conventional or non-conventional (as distinct from asymmetric) weapons against the other. The Trump-Kim talks were, therefore, a non-starter ab initio, given the perceived inability of President Trump to ensure compliance from his staff to action any up-front concessions as evidence of US good faith where matters of regime security in the DPRK were concerned.

AUTHORITARIAN MODEL ADOPTED

The founder of the dynasty, Kim Il Sung, is held to have sought to restore his country to what he regarded as its former glory. The cloak of communist doctrine was a means towards that, in that such a system favoured the authoritarian control that the Founder regarded as essential to steer a unified peninsula of the “noble Korean people” towards greatness. In contrast, democracies were seen as “unstable and chaotic”, terms that CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping clearly concurs with. Reports reaching Pyongyang of “political and administrative conflicts, confusion and turmoil” in matters of policy and governance in the US during the Obama and Trump periods reinforced such a view.

Such a situation was a contrast to the swift assertion of authority in China by Chairman Mao Zedong once the CCP took over China in 1949. The founder of the Kim dynasty, Kim Il Sung, sought from the start to unify the peninsula by force of arms. According to the sources accessed, Kim Il Sung, believed that the US would keep aloof from the conflict that he launched against South Korea in 1950. Kim believed that US non-involvement would be the consequence of not wanting to tangle militarily with the USSR in Asia at a time when Washington was already facing headwinds from Moscow in Europe.

To Kim’s surprise, despite advance warning being given to CPSU General Secretary Marshal Stalin about the impending attack, Soviet forces remained concentrated in Europe. It was thereby made clear to all sides that the USSR would not intervene militarily should there be a war between the DPRK and the US in the Korean peninsula. The North Korean side was convinced that prior knowledge of Soviet forbearance in the matter of entering the Korean war militarily was crucial in President Harry S. Truman’s decision to intervene after DPRK forces overwhelmed the defences of the RoC.

The initial successes of US forces were leading to the unification of Korea, but under the RoC and not the DPRK. This was when General Douglas MacArthur disregarded the warning given by PRC Premier Zhou Enlai through Indian diplomats that the PLA would enter the war, should US troops move to the Yalu (Amarok) river. The entry of the PLA into the conflict was ordered by Mao Zedong, who, according to those in Beijing familiar with the thinking of the “Great Helmsman”, was of the view that General Douglas MacArthur would press on past the Yalu into the PRC in order to create a base from which US and KMT forces would seek to wrest back China from the control of the CCP.

Some of the statements made by General MacArthur in the initial process of operations in Korea are seen as not contradicting but reinforcing this view in Zhongnanhai. In contrast to his father, Kim Jong Il was not expansionist, and was therefore more cautious. In contrast, his son Kim Jong Un has, according to the sources accessed, “treasured in his mind” the objective of Kim Il Sung for a unified Korea. The present leader of North Korea has set a far more ambitious goal for himself than simply his father’s focus on regime survival. Following the path of not his father but his grandfather, Kim Jong Un wants to unify the Korean peninsula under his leadership.

Kim Jong Un has, according to the sources accessed, less than full confidence that CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping, unlike Chairman Mao, would intervene militarily to assist the DPRK in the event of a kinetic conflict between North Korea and the US-Japan alliance. The 2022 Ukraine war has strengthened Kim Jong Un’s belief that only the acquisition of capability to reach both coasts of the continental US with nuclear weapons is sufficient to deter the White House from sending another MacArthur to Korea to expand what (policymakers in Pyongyang believe) is already a comprehensive thus far non-kinetic war by the US-Japan alliance against the DPRK.

The insistence by Washington of “irreversible steps” to DPRK nuclear disarmament even to get “symbolic and cosmetic” concessions is seen in the North Korean capital as proof that the Biden administration is following the same playbook used by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama against Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi (and later attempted with unsuccessfully against Bashar Assad). This is to “ensure the destruction of the offensive capabilities of the adversary through negotiations before attacking it in a fatal blow” against a now “defenceless foe”.

REGIME CHANGE AS PRIMARY U.S. OBJECTIVE

While President Donald J. Trump was attacked by political adversaries as having conceded much for little simply by agreeing to meet Kim Jong Un, the DPRK side was disappointed that throughout “it was the Bolton line that was being pushed” behind (in their view powerless) “President Trump and his friendly face”. Then National Security Advisor (NSA) John Bolton was clear that a “Libyan solution” was what was needed in North Korea. This revived memories in the first circle of the final moments of Muammar Gaddafi, images of which have been watched over and over again in Pyongyang, including the glee in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s expression at the savage manner in which the Libyan dictator was executed.

There was no desire in Pyongyang to watch similar expressions appear on the faces of US officials once their objective of ensuring a “Libyan solution” was achieved by the US under the cover of President Trump’s show of friendship. Simply put, the conclusion reached after the failure of President Trump’s doomed mission to charm “Rocket Man” into handing over his nuke capabilities to the US was that only the North Korean nuclear deterrent was preventing the “Pentagon and CIA” from attempting regime change through war against the DPRK in the manner carried out in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and attempted in Syria.

And of what use is a deterrent unless its potency is demonstrated in public? The view in the first circle of leadership, according to the sources accessed, is that “the low level” (of US) officials attempting negotiations under President Biden indicates the “lack of seriousness to remove the poison that has been injected (by previous administrations)”.

HAWKS ASCENDANT IN PYONGYANG

Given the low probability of high-level negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang soon taking place, those in the first circle of power around Supreme Commander Kim who favour a nuclear test appear to be prevailing in the ongoing argument over whether the nuclear device newly developed by the DPRK should be tested soon or not. If Kim Jong Un accepts such a view, the test by the DPRK of a thermonuclear device will take place before long.

Once that happens, even to the hardline new administration in Seoul, the view on the other side of the 38th parallel is that it would become clear that policies based on going along with US-Japan efforts at regime change in Pyongyang would only lead to “unbearable rise in tensions and a cloud of crisis and uncertainty” that would affect economic prospects in South Korea severely. For those in Washington, Tokyo and perhaps Seoul who are eager to punish the people of North Korea by harsher sanctions for the decisions of their unelected government, it may be pointed out that sanctions have not worked in stopping the nuclear and missile programmes of the DPRK.

Neither, halfway across the world, have they succeeded in deterring Russian President Vladimir Putin from taking control of more and more territory in Ukraine, even as the disastrous effects across continents of the escalating Biden-Johnson sanctions on Russia push up global inflation and shortages, and bring Johnson and Biden closer towards a political meltdown.

ALSO READ: UAE, S. Korea boost ties across industrial, energy value chain

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China, Russia veto UNSC resolution on North Korea

India has voted for a United States-sponsored resolution to strengthen sanctions on North Korea which was vetoed by China and Russia, reports Arul Louis

The US launched the unsuccessful effort on Thursday to punish North Korea which had tested three missiles on Wednesday after US President Joe Biden had wrapped up a visit to South Korea and Japan.

Speaking on the resolution, US Permanent Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned that North Korea was preparing for an imminent nuclear test.

The failed resolution would have tightened sanctions on a wide range of products ranging from crude oil to tobacco and frozen the assets of a cybercriminal outfit.

The vetoes marked another stage of intensification in the confrontations in the Council between the western countries and China and Russia.

The other 13 countries in the Council presented a united front on the North Korea issue.

The issue will now go to the General Assembly under new procedures adopted by it following Russia’s vetoes of resolutions in the Council condemning its invasion of Ukraine.

Although the Assembly does not have the enforcement powers of the Council, it will now take up issues vetoed by a permanent member in the Council in the expectation that it will show the isolation of the veto-wielder.

India, which had stayed neutral on the resolutions on the Ukraine conflict that Russia had vetoed, did not abstain on this resolution for which the prime opposition came from China.

India did not speak during the Council discussion on the resolution on Thursday but had previously raised concerns about the transfer of North Korean missile technology to Pakistan.

Without naming the two countries, India’s Permanent Representative T. S. Tirumurti told the Council on March 25, that “India also believes that there is a pressing need to address the proliferation of nuclear and missile technologies related to DPRK (North Korea) in our region. These linkages have an adverse impact on peace and security in the region, including on India”.

North Korea has exchanged missile technology for nuclear weapon technology with Pakistan.

Before the session started, China’s Permanent Representatives Zhang Jun went over to Tirumurti, who had been speaking at India’s seat with Brazil’s envoy Ronaldo Costa Filho.

Zhan sat down on a seat for the Indian delegation behind Tirumurti’s and the three diplomats were seen in an animated conversation.

Later speaking to the Council on the resolution, Zhang tried to link it to the Indo-Pacific developments asserting that the US was making North Korea a chess pawn for its strategy for the region.

During his Asian trip, Biden had held a Quad summit in Japan with Prime Ministers Narendra Modi of India, Fumio Kishida of Japan and newly-elected Anthony Albanese of Australia.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield (Photo Twitter@USAmbUN)

Zhang said: “The crux of the matter is whether or not someone wants to use the Korean peninsula issue as a card for its so-called Indo-Pacific strategy, whether or not they want to use the handling of the Korean peninsula issue as a chessman on the chessboard for their so-called Indo-Pacific strategy. That’s the very nature of the issue.”

He and Russia’s Permanent Representative Vasily Nebenzia said that the punitive sanctions would not help resolve the problem with Pyongyang but would only add to the sufferings of the people in that country.

Thomas-Greenfield said that the Council’s restraint had been counterproductive and “the DPRK has taken the Council’s silence as a green light to act with impunity and escalate tensions on the Peninsula”.

She said that the sanctions would not affect the humanitarian needs of the North Korean people who are facing a Covid crisis.

The US has offered vaccines and medical help, which Pyongyang has not accepted, she said.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, a mercurial personality, appears to be testing Biden and trying to take advantage of the preoccupation with Ukraine.

He has carried out at least 16 missile tests so far this year, some of them that could be inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, wearing a white marshal uniform, waves to soldiers during a photo session on April 27, 2022.(Yonhap/IANS)

Kim Jong-Un suspended missile and nuclear tests in 2017 during a bout of diplomacy with an equally unpredictable former US President Donald Trump, who matched his verbal bluster.

Trump’s diplomatic efforts ended after a failed meeting with Kim in Singapore.

Kim resumed missile tests last year, two days after Biden took office.

The sanctions that the US proposed would have cut crude oil exports to North Korea and banned its mineral products exports as well as of some other materials.

Tobacco exports to North Korea would have also been curtailed.

The US also sought to freeze the assets of an organisation called Lazarus Group, which North Korea uses for cyber heists and espionage and which has been accused of spreading malware.

The freeze would also have applied to a company that provides manpower abroad and to another that is a defence contractor in Mozambique.

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US, South Korea agree on expanded military drills to deter North

Military drills between the allies had been scaled back amid the Covid-19 pandemic and as part of efforts to engage the North under the previous administrations, reports Asian Lite News

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and his visiting US counterpart Joe Biden on Saturday agreed to begin discussions on expanding joint military exercises between the two countries amid growing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea.

The two reached the agreement during their first-ever summit in Seoul, which took place as both countries believed a nuclear test or intercontinental ballistic missile launch from the North was imminent and even could happen while Biden was touring the region, reports Yonhap News Agency.

“Both leaders agree to initiate discussions to expand the scope and scale of combined military exercises and training on and around the Korean Peninsula,” a joint statement on the summit said.

Military exercises between the allies had been scaled back amid the Covid-19 pandemic and as part of efforts to engage the North under the previous administrations.

Yoon told a joint press conference after the summit that he and Biden discussed the need to hold “various forms” of exercises, including under the scenario of a nuclear attack from the North.

The statement said Biden also reaffirmed the US “extended deterrence” commitment to South Korea using the “full range of US defence capabilities, including nuclear, conventional and missile defence capabilities”.

Extended deterrence is the notion that the US would deploy its full range of military assets to defend its ally, South Korea, in the event of a contingency.

Securing that commitment from Biden was seen as particularly important, as the North continues to advance its weapons programmes, testing missiles on 16 separate occasions this year alone, including its first test of an ICBM in over four years in March.

Yoon and Biden “condemn the DPRK’s escalatory ballistic missile tests this year”, the joint statement said, referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“President Yoon and I committed to strengthening our close engagement and work together to take on challenges of regional security, including addressing the threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, by further strengthening our deterrence posture and working toward a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Biden said at the press conference.

The two leaders expressed concern over the recent Covid-19 outbreak in North Korea and offered to work with the international community to provide assistance to help fight the virus, according to the statement.

Biden told the press conference the US had offered vaccines to North Korea but received no response.

Yoon has previously made repeated offers of vaccines and other medical supplies but has also been met with silence.

On whether he was open to meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Biden said “that would depend on whether he was sincere and whether he was serious”.

Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, held three meetings with Kim for ultimately fruitless talks on dismantling the North’s nuclear programme.

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Is North Korea gearing up for a nuclear test?

The United States said it is aware of reports that North Korea is ready to conduct a nuclear test and deems it a violation of international law, reports Asian Lite News

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un stressed the need to bolster the country’s military power to “pre-emptively and thoroughly contain” nuclear threats from hostile forces, Pyongyang’s state media reported on Saturday.

He met top military commanders who organised a massive street parade in Pyongyang earlier this week, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a report.

Kim was quoted as calling on his military commanders to maintain the “absolute superiority” of the armed forces and constantly develop in order to “pre-emptively and thoroughly contain and frustrate all dangerous attempts and threatening moves, including ever-escalating nuclear threats from hostile forces, if necessary”, Yonhap News Agency cited the KCNA report as saying.

He emphasised that the “tremendous offensive power and the overwhelming military muscle” that can’t be beaten is the “lifeline” for security guarantee in the current world where a force clashes with another fiercely and strength is needed to preserve “dignity, rights and interests”, the report added.

Kim also called on the military leaders to “boldly open up a new stage of development” of the armed forces during the meeting held at the office building of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) Central Committee in Pyongyang.

The KCNA did not specify the date of the event.

The parade was held in the North’s capital Monday to celebrate the 90th founding anniversary of the Korean People’s Revolutionary Army (KPRA), during which strategic weapons including the Hwangsong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile and a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) were showcased.

North Korean soldiers unfold a North Korean flag during a military parade at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang on Sept. 9, 2021, to celebrate the 73rd anniversary of the country’s founding, in this photo released by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.(Yonhap/IANS)

At the parade, Kim vowed to further strengthen his regime’s nuclear capabilities and warned any forces that seek to violate the “fundamental interests” of the North will be met with the country’s nuclear forces.

US warns Pyongyang

The United States is aware of reports that North Korea is ready to conduct a nuclear test and deems it a violation of international law, State Department deputy spokeswoman Jalina Porter said on Friday.

“We are aware of reports that the DPRK [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is ready to conduct a nuclear test, it is a violation of the international law. We urge the DPRK to refrain from destabilizing activities,” she said.

Over 10 years in power, the North Korean leader has conducted more than 100 missile launches, including intercontinental launches, and four nuclear tests. During his 10-year tenure, his farther Kim Jong Il carried out 16 missile launches and two nuclear tests.

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-Top News USA

US, S. Korea vow ‘decisive response’ to N. Korea’s actions

The South Korean envoy added that the allies would need to prepare for and guard against all possibilities although a door to dialogue should be left open…reports Asian Lite News

A senior US nuclear envoy arrived in South Korea on Monday for talks to denuclearise the Korean Peninsula, according to the South Korean Foreign Ministry.

Sung Kim, US special representative for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), met Noh Kyu-duk, South Korea’s special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs in Seoul, Xinhua news agency reported.

During the meeting, Kim was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying Washington shared Seoul’s concerns about “the DPRK’s escalatory actions”. He said Washington and Seoul would maintain the “strongest possible joint deterrent” over Pyongyang’s actions.

The US envoy noted that the US and South Korea will continue to work closely to respond “responsibly and decisively to the provocative behaviour in the united context and beyond.”

“It is extremely important for the United Nations Security Council to send a clear signal to the DPRK that we will not accept its escalatory tests as normal,” Kim told reporters after his talks with Noh.

Kim was referring to North Korea by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“We agreed on the need to maintain the strongest possible joint deterrent capability on the peninsula,” he said.

Regarding the DPRK’s recent test-firing of a new tactical guided weapon, Noh said close cooperation between Seoul and Washington will be significant to go through the critical situation.

The South Korean envoy added that the allies would need to prepare for and guard against all possibilities although a door to dialogue should be left open.

The DPRK’s official Korean Central News agency reported Sunday that top DPRK leader Kim Jong Un observed the successful test-launch of a new-type tactical guided weapon.

The US envoy is slated to stay here until Friday to meet with South Korean government officials as well as officials from the presidential transition team of President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol who is set to take office on May 10.

ALSO READ-Kim inspects weapons test to enhance nuke capabilities

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-Top News Asia News

Kim inspects weapons test to enhance nuke capabilities

The test-fire was carried out successfully,” it added without giving other details of the tested weapon, including its type..reports Asian Lite News

 North Korean leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the successful test-firing of a new tactical guided weapon meaningful in improving the efficiency of tactical nuclear operations, Pyongyang’s state media announced Sunday.

The new weapon system is “of great significance in drastically improving the firepower of the frontline long-range artillery units and enhancing the efficiency in the operation of tactical nukes of the DPRK and diversification of their firepower missions,” the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said. The DPRK is the acronym for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The test-fire was carried out successfully,” it added without giving other details of the tested weapon, including its type, Yonhap news agency reported.

South Korea’s military said later that it detected the North’s launch of two projectiles into the East Sea at 6 p.m. Saturday (local time). They flew 110 km at an apogee of around 25 km and a top speed of Mach 4, it added.

Immediately after the launch, the presidential National Security Office, military and intelligence agencies held an emergency meeting to discuss it, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Observers here say the North seems to have tested a newly developed heavy artillery system or upgraded KN-23 missiles — its own version of the US’ Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).

Photos released by the KCNA show that the transporter erector launcher (TEL) has two tubes, while the tactical weapon itself bears an external resemblance to the KN-23 missile, modeled after Russia’s Iskander ballistic missile. The North might have modified the missile to be fit for multiple TEL tubes.

The KN-23 is known to have a flight range of 400 to 600 km that can target South Korea. Rather than following a general parabolic trajectory, the missile shows a more complicated path by doing a so-called pull-up maneuver over the course of its flight.

Inspecting the latest launch, Kim gave important instructions on “further building up the defense capabilities and nuclear combat forces of the country,” the KCNA reported.

Kim highly praised the national defense scientific research sector for its “continuous successes in attaining the core goals of securing the war deterrent” set forth at the eighth party congress last year.

He then clarified that the long-term plan for the ruling party’s central committee is to bolster up the defense capabilities of the country.

During the Workers’ Party congress in January last year, the North laid out plans to advance its weapons, including developing tactical nuclear weapons, hypersonic gliding flight warheads, nuclear-powered submarines and reconnaissance satellites, among others.

The North’s latest test-launch comes as South Korea and the United States prepare to kick off their major springtime combined training on Monday. Concerns have grown that Pyongyang may conduct another nuclear test in the near future.

It marks the country’s 13th known flight test of projectiles this year, and the first since Pyongyang fired what it claims to be a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last month.

On Friday, the North also commemorated the 110th birth anniversary of its founder Kim Il-sung with massive celebratory events, but there has been no report of a military parade.

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COVID-19 World News

No more COVAX jabs for North Korea

The Unicef’s Covid-19 Vaccine Market Dashboard also showed no vaccines had been allocated to the North as of early Friday…reports Asian Lite News

North Korea no longer has Covid-19 jabs allocated for its people under the COVAX Facility initiative, an international group co-leading the vaccine-sharing programme confirmed on Friday.

The announcement came amid a protracted setback in shipment-related efforts apparently attributable to lack of cooperation from the country.

“COVAX has no concrete allocations for DPRK currently,” a spokesperson for the Gavi vaccine alliance told Yonhap News Agency, using the acronym for the North’s official name, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The vaccines that were not accepted by the North were “re-allocated to other countries so the doses could be used in a timely fashion”, the official added, citing the organization’s 2022 policy of “needs-based vaccine allocations”.

The Unicef’s Covid-19 Vaccine Market Dashboard also showed no vaccines had been allocated to the North as of early Friday, reflecting COVAX’s decision to cut 1.29 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines previously set aside for Pyongyang.

“We will offer doses to DPRK in subsequent allocation rounds should the country decide to introduce COVID-19 immunizations as part of the national pandemic response,” the official said.

North Korea has not responded so far to the offer, claiming to be coronavirus-free, with strict border controls in place since the pandemic broke out in early 2020.

In February, COVAX reportedly cancelled a batch of 252,000 Covovax vaccines developed by Novavax Inc. allocated for Pyongyang.

“Gavi and COVAX are continuing the dialogue with DPRK to operationalise the COVID-19 immunisation programme,” the spokesperson added.

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