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Majority of South Koreans favor North Korea ‘friendship’

More than 60 percent of South Koreans believe President Moon should sit down with Kim Jong Un at a summit designed to improve bilateral relations and ease the military tensions that have dogged the region for many years. A poll conducted on February 15 showed that 61.5 percent of South Korean adults nationwide were in favor of Moon travelling to Pyongyang for face-to-face talks with Kim, while 31.2 percent disagreed and expressed the belief that additional pressure – such as international sanctions - is the best way to force North Korea to moderate its behavior. The poll was conducted half-way through the Winter Olympic Games, which are being held in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang, and the results underline the surge in friendly feelings that ordinary South Koreans have felt towards their neighbors on the other side of the Demilitarized Zone. Read more: Olympics chief Thomas Bach set to visit North Korea And that is a direct result of a combination of sense of fear and feeling of hope among many in the South. 'Bloody nose' attack The fear for them is that US President Donald Trump intends to carry out a "bloody nose" military strike against targets in the North in an attempt to demonstrate Washington's capabilities and its willingness to use force. And the other element of the equation is hope that North Korea is genuinely interested in building a more collaborative relationship with the South and that peace is finally possible, 65 years after the end of the Korean War. "Those numbers in this poll, and others, come as no surprise to me at all," said Ahn Yin-hay, a professor of international relations at Korea University in Seoul. "There have been lots of reports of Washington planning a 'bloody nose' attack on a missile site or a nuclear facility in the North, and that makes people very worried because Pyongyang can be expected to retaliate and it is likely to target South Korea," she told DW. "South Koreans believe that a strategy of talking to the North is better than a violent approach that threatens our safety," she said. "Talking has a far better likelihood of achieving peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula." Moon is widely seen as having worked extremely hard since he took over the government in Seoul in May last year to build bridges with the North. Those approaches – including offers of talks to reduce the military threat levels, a front-line military hotline and reunions for families separated since the end of the Korean War in 1953 - were initially ignored or rebuffed by Pyongyang. The gradual ratcheting up of international sanctions in the closing months of 2017, however, appear to have convinced Kim Jong Un to be more amenable to discussions, while the timing and location of the Winter Olympic Games have provided the perfect opportunity for détente to flourish. Yet Moon is clearly in a difficult position. He may want to push ahead with a summit that may turn out to be a turning point in the bilateral relationship. It may, however, equally be a ploy by the North Korean regime to drive a wedge between Seoul and its most important security partner, Washington, as part of Pyongyang's broader long-term aim of a united Korean Peninsula controlled by the government that presently occupies the North. Read more: North Korea leader Kim Jong Un invites South Korean president to summit Historic handshake marks Korean unity at Olympic Opening Ceremony Alienating the US Moon must be careful not to alienate the US – and its present unpredictable leader – as he still needs Washington's security guarantees. Underlining the tightrope that he is walking, Moon said on Saturday that a decision on a summit with Kim is too early. "There are many expectations, but I believe they might be a little too anxious," Moon told reporters when asked about the possibility of a summit. He reiterated that there needs to be progress on the question of North Korea getting rid of its nuclear weapons before real progress can be made. There are, however, a number of areas in which progress can take place and would arguably serve as confidence-building measures for the two sides, believes Ahn. These include discussions between military leaders at the border on easing tensions and reunions of families divided by the DMZ. "If progress can be made in these areas, then I am optimistic that we could see a summit in the late summer months," she said, suggesting a meeting that would coincide with the anniversary of the June 2000 summit between Kim Jong Il and Kim Dae-jung, the then South Korean leader. Another symbolic date that could appeal to both sides might be August 15, the Liberation Day national holiday marking the end of Imperial Japan's colonial rule over the peninsula. Yet others are less positive about the outlook on the peninsula. "Of course South Koreans are saying they want the summit to happen; they do not want a war and the North Korean 'charm offensive' during the Olympics has been a huge success," said Jun Okumura, a political analyst at the Meiji Institute for Global Affairs. Read more: US wants North Korea to give up nuclear weapons as pre-condition of talks Kim Jong Un: North Korea has completed nuclear program, US will never attack Difficult situation "But Moon is in a very difficult position, stuck between the US, North Korea and even China as a major player in this situation," he said. "I do not see how Moon can square the South's relationship with the US with this meeting," he said. "And I believe that the issue of the joint US-South Korean military exercises could be the flash point." At the request of Pyongyang, the US and South Korea agreed to postpone military annual exercises that were due to be held during the Winter Olympics. North Korea is now demanding that the manoeuvers be cancelled entirely, warning that failure to do so would reverse all the positive developments in the bilateral relationship of recent weeks. Moon has a choice; one option is to bow to the North Korean demand and risk alienating the US entirely – and possibly encouraging Washington to take a unilateral approach to dealing with North Korea, which could involve the much-feared "bloody nose" approach. Alternatively, he can reschedule the exercises and face the wrath of Pyongyang. "I would say that everything hinges on these exercises and the situation is extremely dangerous at the moment," Okumura said. "A decision must be made in the next few weeks and, whatever that decision is, the ramifications will be felt this spring." Read more: Dialogue with North Korea must continue, says German President Steinmeier

More than 60 percent of South Koreans believe President Moon should sit down with Kim Jong Un at a summit designed to improve bilateral relations and ease the military tensions that have dogged the region for many years. A poll conducted on February 15 showed that 61.5 percent of South Korean adults nationwide were in favor of Moon travelling to ... Read More »

Do Korea talks put initiative back with Seoul and Pyongyang?

North and South Korea have held talks for the first time in over two years. DW spoke with Patrick Köllner from the GIGA Institute for Asia Studies about the outcome of the discussions and if any changes can be expected. DW: The fact that representatives from North and South Korea have sat together at a table and held talks could already be considered a successful step in relations. Now that the meeting is over, what outcomes did it bring? Patrick Köllner: First off, it was agreed at Tuesday's talks that North Korea will participate in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang. This also guarantees that the games will be peaceful and quiet. This is of the utmost importance for the South Korean government. It is also expected that family reunions between the North and South will resume after being suspended for several years. Trust-building measures could also emerge in the form of talks between the two countries' militaries. Read more: North, South Korea agree to discuss military following Olympics talks Those are the tangible results - but what in your opinion is the most important message that can be read between the lines after the meeting in Panmunjom? One important message is that North and South Korea, the most important actors in the middle of this conflict, have actually managed to begin talking again. The initiative is once again with Seoul and Pyongyang. The last year was characterized overall by North Korea's armament efforts and the resulting reaction from the United States and the international community. It is crucial that the two Korean governments communicate because this conflict primarily affects 50 million Koreans. Do you think anything surprising happened during the meeting, or did the talks go as expected? The talks went positively in the sense that North Korea, after everything that we know, did not insist that planned military exercises between the US and South Korea be called off. The exercises, which were planned directly after the games, were postponed, but not cancelled. Requiring they be called off would most likely have led to the talks collapsing. Read more: What to expect from North and South Korea meeting ahead of Winter Olympics US wants North Korea to give up nuclear weapons as pre-condition of talks What were the goals and background agenda for each side during the talks? North Korea, of course, continues to follow the strategic aim of putting a wedge in the alliance between Washington and Seoul. But South Korea certainly knows this, and this alone doesn't exclude the possibility of reintroducing increased economic cooperation between the two Koreas. The drive to increase economic cooperation has been put on ice for the past few years because of North Korea's nuclear weapons testing. Even deliveries of humanitarian aid from South Korea were reduced. North Korea has an interest in once again promoting economic cooperation. South Korea has an interest in not letting important discussions about developments on the Korean Peninsula bypass Seoul. The positions of both sides seem incompatible. The North wants to keep its nuclear program and the South wants a nuclear weapon-free peninsula. How much maneuvering room do negotiators on each side have? Negotiations are complicated by the fact that possibilities for compromise are limited by the international sanctions regime hung on North Korea. Of course, South Korea cannot come out with its own measures that violate these sanctions. US interests in the background also complicate matters, and there is always the need to coordinate with Washington in addition to Seoul and Pyongyang. But trust-building measures could be possible, especially with the military. South Korean humanitarian aid could also be increased. These small steps could be the basis of talks on larger issues, which could also include the US and the question of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. Read more: North Korea reopens hotline to South to talk Olympics Interceptions cut off another source of North Korean fuel After today's talks, is it too early to hope for an overall relaxation of tensions? We need to keep in mind that the discussions did not change the fundamental constellation of issues. North Korea's weapons program continues and Kim Jong Un promised in his New Year's address to increase weapons production. Big challenges remain. But there are also positive takeaways – especially the fact that diplomacy is once again playing a role. We have spent the past year considering the possibility of military action. It is really a positive development to see examples of diplomacy. Professor Patrick Köllner is director of the GIGA Institute of Asian Studies in Hamburg. The interview was conducted by Esther Felden.

North and South Korea have held talks for the first time in over two years. DW spoke with Patrick Köllner from the GIGA Institute for Asia Studies about the outcome of the discussions and if any changes can be expected. DW: The fact that representatives from North and South Korea have sat together at a table and held talks could ... Read More »

Rex Tillerson: China and Russia’s North Korea ties undermine peace efforts

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has claimed that Beijing and Moscow's ties with North Korea call into question their commitment to ending the nuclear crisis. Japan has levied its own sanctions on the North. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday urged Russia and China to reconsider their economic ties to the North Korean regime during a heated speech before the United Nations Security Council. Tillerson called out Beijing for continuing to allow crude oil to "flow" into repressive state, adding that such ongoing trade ties between the two countries undermined international efforts to get the North to denuclearize. Read more: Russia 'increasing oil exports' to North Korea The US' top diplomat also accused Russia of propping up the repressive regime of Kim Jong-Un by using North Korean laborers. Continuing to allow North Korean nationals to toil in "slave-like conditions" for wages used to fund nuclear weapons "calls into question Russia's dedication as a partner for peace," Tillerson said. His outburst suggested that the sanctions imposed on Pyongyang by the UN were not doing enough to convince the Kim regime to halt its nuclear weapons program or seek negotiations, and that more economic restrictions imposed by individual states were needed. Tillerson also called on countries that have not implemented sanctions to "consider your interests, allegiances and values in the face of this grave threat." US backtracks on its offer for unconditional talks Tillerson's speech before the UN council meeting also marked a significant US policy reversal, after the secretary of state had earlier this week proposed holding discussion with Pyongyang without preconditions. Tillerson was expected to call on the rogue regime to halt its missile tests before talks could begin. Instead, he changed the script, telling an audience of foreign ministers that "North Korea must earn its way back to the table." "The pressure campaign must and will continue until denuclearization is achieved. We will in the meantime keep our channels of communication open," Tillerson said. The isolated nation has conducted six increasingly powerful atomic tests since 2006 -- most recently in September when it supposedly detonated a hydrogen bomb. Since the beginning of 2017, Pyongyang had conducted missiles tests at a rate of almost two to three per month, but paused in September after it successfully fired a missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and into the Pacific Ocean. At the end of November it then suddenly tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that experts say can fly over 13,000 kilometers. Japan levies new sanctions on North Korea ahead of UN meeting Japan announced on Friday that it is expanding its list of sanctions against North Korea, targeting financial services and commodities trading. The list of organizations and people targeted by asset-freezes now includes over 200 entities and individuals, including several from China. Tokyo's new measures also target the highly controversial practice of sending North Koreans abroad to work on manual labor projects. Read more: Japan to purchase offensive missiles capable of striking North Korea Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in an address to media executives in Tokyo that he was certain the sanctions were having an effect. "It is possible that we will see further provocations. But what's important is that we do not bow to these threats. The international community must continue to coordinate and apply pressure until North Korea changes its policies and seeks negotiations," Abe said.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has claimed that Beijing and Moscow’s ties with North Korea call into question their commitment to ending the nuclear crisis. Japan has levied its own sanctions on the North. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday urged Russia and China to reconsider their economic ties to the North Korean regime during a heated ... Read More »

US-South Korea military drills – an unnecessary provocation?

Amid serious tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the US and South Korea have begun their joint military exercises. For Pyongyang, the drills are a prelude to invading North Korea. Fabian Kretschmer reports from Seoul. On Monday, South Korea and the US began their much-anticipated joint military exercises. The maneuvers, named theUlchi Freedom Guardian, largely consist of computer simulations inside a bunker facility located south of Seoul. According to the South Korean newspaper Joongang Ilbo, the following scenario, among others, is being tested during the exercise: In a potential military operation, how to carry out a preventive strike against the North Korean leadership. As expected, Pyongyang responded harshly to the drills. The Sunday edition of the Rodong Sinmun newspaper said the US-South Korea military exercises were a step towards nuclear war, and that they were similar to pouring "gasoline on fire." For the regime led by Kim Jong Un, the "defense exercises" are a preparation for invasion. History tells us that North Korea reacts harshly to US-South Korean exercises. Last year in August, after joint maneuvers, the North Korean military launched a missile from a submarine. A little later, the communist country conducted its fifth nuclear test. - Eyeing North Korea, US and Japan to boost military ties - Where did North Korea get its missile technology? Tense times The 11-day Ulchi Freedom Guardian drill involves 50,000 South Korean and 17,500 US troops. The question remains whether the US will deploy long-range nuclear bombers or atomic submarines to the Korean Peninsula during the drills. The military exercises always take place at the end of August, therefore they could be seen as a routine affair. But this time around the situation on the Korean Peninsula is extremely tense. In July, North Korea successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), after which US President Donald Trump threatened the North with dire consequences. Kim's threat to attack the US Pacific island of Guam further escalated the situation. But Daniel Pinkston, a military expert who teaches at Troy University in Seoul, says the US-South Korea drills will not push the region to a war. On the contrary, Pinkston believes the more prepared US and South Korean troops are the lower will be the threat from North Korea. "Most US troops in South Korea are stationed for only one year. It requires regular exercises to study the communication processes," he told DW. De-escalation calls In recent times, however, calls have been growing for the US and South Korea to suspend their military drills. In exchange for their suspension, China has suggested that North Korea should freeze its nuclear program. Pyongyang has already indicated its willingness to implement such a deal. Read: What is China's role in the North Korean crisis? Even a high-ranking US official has for the first time expressed views in favor of at least reducing the scale and scope of the military drills. According to Edward Markey, a Democrat Senator from Massachusetts, it was President Trump who provoked North Korea through his aggressive rhetoric. Now Trump should refrain from using war rhetoric while US troops conduct exercises with their South Korean counterparts, Markey added. German-Korean filmmaker, Cho Sung-hyun, also points to what she considers a double standard. "If the US engages in drills simulating an invasion of North Korea, it is not considered a provocation, but if North Korea reacts with missile tests and verbal attacks, it is deemed a threat to the whole world," Cho told DW.

Amid serious tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the US and South Korea have begun their joint military exercises. For Pyongyang, the drills are a prelude to invading North Korea. Fabian Kretschmer reports from Seoul. On Monday, South Korea and the US began their much-anticipated joint military exercises. The maneuvers, named theUlchi Freedom Guardian, largely consist of computer simulations inside a ... Read More »

North Korea hints new nuclear test could happen ‘at any time’

North Korea has suggested that it will continue its nuclear weapons tests in response to what it calls US aggression. Japan has also sent out a destroyer to escort US warships as Tokyo seeks to boost its military role. Pyongyang warned on Monday that it would conduct a nuclear test at any time determined by its leadership, in the latest comments to fuel already heightened tensions in the region. Both North Korea and Washington have been trading off shows of force over the past few weeks. There are signs that North Korea might be preparing either its sixth nuclear test or a long-range missile launch, while the White House refuses to rule out military action in response. A spokesman for the North's Foreign Ministry said the government was "fully ready to respond to any option taken by the US," in a statement carried by the state-run KCNA news agency. North Korea's "measures for bolstering the nuclear force to the maximum will be taken in a consecutive and successive way at any moment and any place decided by its supreme leadership," the spokesman said, apparently referring to a new nuclear test. 'We'll see' US President Donald Trump has said a "major, major conflict" with North Korea and its leader Kim Jong Un is possible over its nuclear and ballistic programs. Last week, China warned that the situation on the Korean peninsula could escalate or slip out of control. South Korea also regularly warns that the North can carry out a test whenever it chooses to do so. In an interview with CBS television network's "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Trump said that if North Korea carried out another nuclear test, "I would not be happy." When asked if "not happy" meant "military action," Trump replied: "I don't know. I mean, we'll see." Japan dispatches destroyer North Korea raises the tone of its weapons test warnings every spring when the United States and South Korea carry out joint military exercises that the North views as invasion rehearsals. This year, however, fears of conflict have been fueled by a back-and-forth of threats from the Trump administration and Pyongyang. Japan dispatched a helicopter carrier, Izumo, from a port south of Tokyo on Monday, which was to join a US supply vessel off Chiba prefecture, according to media reports. It is the first operation of its kind since Japan passed controversial legislation allowing the military to have a greater role overseas. Japanese officials said the US ship is expected to refuel other American warships in the region, including the USS Carl Vinson - a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier sent by the US as a show of force.

North Korea has suggested that it will continue its nuclear weapons tests in response to what it calls US aggression. Japan has also sent out a destroyer to escort US warships as Tokyo seeks to boost its military role. Pyongyang warned on Monday that it would conduct a nuclear test at any time determined by its leadership, in the latest ... Read More »

Pyongyang slams defector as criminal and ‘human scum’

South Korea says the defector was the senior most member of the North Korean embassy in London, and its No. 2 diplomat. This is the latest in a series of noteworthy defections from Kim Jong Un's totalitarian state. North Korea called the senior North Korean diplomat who defected earlier this week "human scum" and a criminal - it was the government's first official response to the defection. The North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) accused Seoul of exploiting the defection of Thae Yong Ho for propaganda purposes, intended to embarrass the North's leader, Kim Jong Un. The Pyongyang government also slammed the British government for disregarding international protocol and rejecting its demand to have Thae returned to North Korea, and instead handing him over to the South Koreans. Thae was formerly a minister at the North's embassy in London. He is believed to have worked there for about 10 years. One of his main tasks was to counter the image of North Korea as a nuclear pariah state and notorious human rights abuser. KCNA didn't identify Thae by name, but said Pyongyang had ordered the "fugitive" to return to home in June where he was allegedly being investigated for a series of crimes, including embezzling government funds, leaking state secrets and sexually assaulting a minor. The government mouthpiece said Thae "should have received legal punishment for the crimes he committed, but he discarded the fatherland that raised him and even his own parents and brothers by fleeing, thinking nothing but just saving himself, showing himself to be human scum who lacks even an elementary level of loyalty and even tiny bits of conscience and morality that are required for human beings." South Korea's Unification Ministry announced the defection on Wednesday. It said Thae was the second-highest diplomat at the North's embassy, and called him the North's most senior diplomat to ever defect to the South. A history of defections In 1997, Pyongyang's ambassador to Egypt defected and eventually settled in the United States. The Seoul ministry said Thae defected out of disgust with Kim's government, his desire to live in a Korean democracy and worries about his children's future. More than 29,000 North Koreans have defected to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, according to Seoul. Defectors often say they want to escape North Korea's harsh political system and poverty. Kim's government frequently accuses the South of bribing its citizens to defect, or claims Seoul simply kidnaps them. In April, 13 North Korean restaurant workers in China defected to South Korea. It was the largest group defection since Kim came to power in 2011. Also in April, Seoul announced that a colonel in North Korea's military spy agency had defected to the South last year. Whether this represents a new wave of defections from the North is hard to say because the South doesn't always publicize them.

South Korea says the defector was the senior most member of the North Korean embassy in London, and its No. 2 diplomat. This is the latest in a series of noteworthy defections from Kim Jong Un’s totalitarian state. North Korea called the senior North Korean diplomat who defected earlier this week “human scum” and a criminal – it was the ... Read More »

North Korea ‘to boost nuke production’

North Korea has declared it will strengthen the country's nuclear arsenal in tandem with developing its economy. The announcement came at the first communist Workers' Party congress held in nearly 40 years. North Korea said Monday it would further strengthen self-defensive nuclear weapons capability "in quality and quantity" in a decision adopted at a rare party congress, its KCNA news agency reported. The congress, which opened on Friday, has largely been seen as an elaborate coronation for Kim Jong-Un, securing his status as supreme leader and confirming his legacy "byungjin" doctrine of twin economic and nuclear development. "We will consistently take hold on the strategic line of simultaneously pushing forward the economic construction and the building of nuclear force and boost self-defensive nuclear force both in quality and quantity as long as the imperialists persist in their nuclear threat and arbitrary practices," Kim said at the conference. Delegates at the conference also enshrined a policy of not using nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty is threatened by another nuclear power, and of working towards the eventual reunification of the divided Korean peninsula. "But if the south Korean authorities opt for a war... we will turn out in the just war to mercilessly wipe out the anti-reunification forces," said the document published by the state-run KCNA news agency. A coronation of sorts The 33-year-old leader was not even born when the last congress was held in 1980 to affirm his father, Kim Jong-Il, as the heir apparent to founding leader Kim Il-Sung. The nuclear aspect of the twin doctrine had dominated the run-up to the party congress, starting with a fourth nuclear test in January that was followed by a long-range rocket launch and a flurry of other missile and weapons tests. Kim urged all the delegates to press ahead with the byungjin policy. "This strategic line is the most revolutionary and scientific one reflecting the lawful requirements of building a thriving socialist nation and the specific conditions of our country," he said. North Korea came under the latest United Nations sanctions in March but it has defied international pressure with more activities under its nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea has declared it will strengthen the country’s nuclear arsenal in tandem with developing its economy. The announcement came at the first communist Workers’ Party congress held in nearly 40 years. North Korea said Monday it would further strengthen self-defensive nuclear weapons capability “in quality and quantity” in a decision adopted at a rare party congress, its KCNA news ... Read More »

North Korean leader vows not to use nuclear weapons unless attacked by nuclear state

North Korean leader vows not to use nuclear weapons unless attacked by nuclear state

Kim Jong Un has said the north will use its nuclear arsenal only in retaliation against another nuclear power. Pressure is mounting on North Korea to abandon its nuclear program as a precondition for peace talks. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un vowed not to use nuclear weapons unless his country was attacked by another nuclear power. Kim’s comments came ... Read More »

North Korea holds ruling party congress in show of defiance and strength

North Korea's ruling party has begun its first congress in 36 years, with an aim to cement Kim Jong Un's status as the country's supreme leader. The meeting takes place at a time of rising tensions in the region. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected to deliver a keynote speech at the Workers' Party congress on Friday, but beyond that not much is known about the agenda of the grand meeting that is being held after a hiatus of nearly four decades. The communist country's ruling elite is known for keeping state matters secret. Observers, however, say the convention is an effort by the ruling party to consolidate Kim's position as the undisputed and legitimate leader of the country. The last Workers' Party congress, held in 1980, crowned Kim's father Kim Jong Il as heir to his father and North Korea's founder Kim Il Sung. In theory, the congress of the Workers' Party must be held every five years. There has been speculation that the party meeting will be preceded by another nuclear test as a show of strength and defiance to the Western world. The congress takes place at a time of rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, following the North's alleged hydrogen bomb test in January and the launch of a long-range ballistic missile on February 7. Great enthusiasm In preparation for the event, the capital Pyongyang has been decorated with national and party flags, with Workers' Party members actively participating in the preparations. Banners carrying slogans such as "Great comrades Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il will always be with us," and gigantic portraits of Kim Jong Un, fill the streets. "We volunteer to take part in these big events to show that we, the people, are united in support of our respected marshal, and to demonstrate our political commitment," said Ryu Jin Song, a university student, speaking with the Associated Press. The international community will be closely monitoring the convention for any potential policy shift or government changes. "It remains to be seen if there will be a tangible outcome with a policy change or the setting of a new course," Eric Ballbach, a researcher from the Institute of Korean Studies at Berlin's Free University, told DW.

North Korea’s ruling party has begun its first congress in 36 years, with an aim to cement Kim Jong Un’s status as the country’s supreme leader. The meeting takes place at a time of rising tensions in the region. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is expected to deliver a keynote speech at the Workers’ Party congress on Friday, but ... Read More »

US increases sanctions against North Korea

President Barack Obama has signed off on new, stricter sanctions against North Korea. The broadened sanctions seek to punish the Asian nation for its nuclear weapons program. US President Barack Obama signed legislation which imposes a new set of broader and more stringent bans against North Korea on Thursday. The White House said the measures tighten sanctions against anyone who imports goods related to weapons of mass destruction into North Korea, or anyone who knowingly engaged in human rights abuses. The expanded sanctions seek to deny North Korea the money it requires in order to develop miniature nuclear warheads and the long-range missiles which would carry those warheads. The legislation also authorizes the US to fund some $50 million (45 million euro) for radio broadcasts into North Korea to support humanitarian assistance programs. The money is to be spread out over five years. Lawmakers in Congress overwhelmingly and quickly approved the bill earlier this month. North Korea went forward with its fourth nuclear test, followed by a long-range rocket launch on February 7, despite a UN resolution prohibiting such action. Analysts consider these steps as clear signs that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is determined to create a missile capable of striking the US mainland. The new US measures against North Korea come amidst delicate negotiations between Washington and China over a UN Security Council resolution for additional sanctions. China has said it is concerned that the measures could devastate North Korea's economy.

President Barack Obama has signed off on new, stricter sanctions against North Korea. The broadened sanctions seek to punish the Asian nation for its nuclear weapons program. US President Barack Obama signed legislation which imposes a new set of broader and more stringent bans against North Korea on Thursday. The White House said the measures tighten sanctions against anyone who ... Read More »

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