You are here: Home » Tag Archives: north-korea

Tag Archives: north-korea

Feed Subscription

China, Japan willing to mend ties amid Trump challenge

China's ongoing trade spate with the US has dominated Japan PM Shinzo Abe's visit to the country. The first Sino-Japanese summit since 2011 could further thaw relations between Asia's two biggest economies. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that Japan and China have a duty to ensure regional security. On his first bilateral visit to China, Abe added that the two countries need to normalize ties and work together on the North Korea issue. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang welcomed Abe at Beijing's Tiananmen Square. In a veiled reference to US President Donald Trump's "America First" protectionism policies, he stressed that both nations recognize free trade should be safeguarded. Abe's trip China comes at a time when Beijing is locked in a trade dispute with the US, with both countries imposing reciprocal tariffs. President Trump has also targeted Japanese exports in his effort to reduce US trade deficit. "The visit is certainly a historic turning point. The ties between the two countries deteriorated in the past few years, with Japan wary of China's assertive policies. On the other hand, Beijing is unhappy that Abe refuses to address Japan's wartime past," said Mathias Boelinger, DW's correspondent in Beijing, adding that both sides have to show flexibility to improve relations. "Trump is not the only reason, but he is certainly a major reason behind China's interest in mending ties with Japan. China fears the US is trying to isolate it," he added. Reseting economic ties Later on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Abe are expected to discuss how to boost economic ties between the world's second and third largest economies. China is Japan's biggest trading partner and many Japanese companies have invested large sums in the country. Delegates from 500 Japanese firms are visiting China along with Abe. While Japan is eager to access China's massive market, China is interested in Japan's technology and corporate expertise. Ties between China and Japan have taken a positive turn over the past several months. This was evident during the recent meeting between Xi and Abe at a September summit in Russia's far-eastern city of Vladivostok. "Though the US is quite an influential factor in China-Japan ties, the effect is limited," China's Global Times newspaper said in an editorial. "If Beijing and Tokyo intend to plan their future bilateral relationship based on Washington's attitude, they will only get lost," the state-run daily said. In the past, Japan had aimed to limit Chinese growing political and military clout in Asia. Beijing and Tokyo have unresolved territorial disputes involving a group of uninhabited islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. They are currently administered by Tokyo, but Beijing claims sovereignty over them. North Korea conflict Before heading to Beijing, the Japanese prime minster said he would discuss the North Korean issue with President Xi. While Japan wants complete denuclearization of North Korea, China remains the biggest backer of the Kim Jong Un regime in the region. Read more: North Korea's Kim Jong Un visits China in first foreign trip: reports Abe told media on Friday that his country is committed to normalizing ties with North Korea, but several issues, including North Korea's kidnapping of Japanese citizens, must be resolved first.

China’s ongoing trade spate with the US has dominated Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s visit to the country. The first Sino-Japanese summit since 2011 could further thaw relations between Asia’s two biggest economies. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that Japan and China have a duty to ensure regional security. On his first bilateral visit to China, Abe added that ... Read More »

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 »

North, South Korea agree to discuss military following Olympics talks

The two Koreas have agreed to hold military talks after their first official talks in two years, where they discussed the upcoming Winter Olympics. They also agreed to reopen a military hotline linking the countries. North and South Korea have agreed to hold talks on reducing military tensions and "actively cooperate" in next month's Winter Olympics in South Korea, they said in a joint statement on Tuesday, South Korean media reported. The decision to hold the military talks comes after the two countries concluded their first talks in two years to discuss the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Read more: What to expect from North and South Korea meeting ahead of Winter Olympics But a discussion of North Korea's nuclear program and its weapons arsenal would negatively impact inter-Korean ties, a North Korean official said. "North Korea's weapons are only aimed at the United States, not our brethren, China or Russia," said Ri Son Gwon, head of North Korea's delegation, adding that Pyongyang's nuclear program was not an issue between North and South Korea. A 'great step forward' North Korea offered to send athletes and a high-level delegation to the games, as well as journalists, a cheering squad, a team of performing artists and a taekwondo demonstration team, according to South Korean officials. The International Olympic Commitee said North Korea's participation was a "great step forward" for the Olympics. Delegations of five senior officials from each side met at the "peace house" on the South Korean side of the Panmunjom truce village as the two countries officially held talks for the first time in two years. South Korea proposed that the athletes from both countries march together at the opening and closing ceremonies, South Korea's Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung told reporters. He also said his country proposed resuming family reunions and military discussions to prevent "accidental clashes" in frontline areas. During the talks, North and South agreed to restore a military hotline, less than a week after an civilian cross-border phone link was reopened. The hotline is due to be fully operational by Wednesday. "Accordingly, our side decided to start using the military telephone line, starting 8 a.m. tomorrow," Hae-sung said. Read more: North Korea 'likely' to take part in Winter Olympics in South Korea 'A New Year's gift' Entering the talks, officials from both countries made positive statements about discussions concerning the Winter Olympics. "I think we should be engaged in these talks with an earnest, sincere manner to give a New Year's first gift — precious results to the Korean nation," Ri said. Cho Myoung-gyon, South Korea's Unification Minister, believed the Pyeongchang Olympics "will become a peace Olympics as most valuable guests from the North are going to join many others from around the world." Ri and Cho shook hands as they entered the peace house and again across the table where the talks took place. "The people have a strong desire to see the North and South move toward peace and reconciliation," Cho said. China, Russia, US welcome talks China said it welcomed the high-level talks between the North and South Korea representatives ahead of the Olympics. "We are very pleased that the high-level talks between the two Koreas could be held," said spokesman Lu Kang. "As a neighbour of the Korean peninsula, China welcomes and supports the recent positive actions taken by the two Koreas to ease their mutual relations." Russia also welcomed the conversation between the two. "This is exactly the kind of dialogue that we said was necessary," a Kremlin spokesman said on Tuesday. US President Donald Trump, who has taken repeated jabs at Kim on his Twitter account, had also called the talks "a good thing." But the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, later said the administration was not changing its conditions regarding US talks with North Korea, saying Kim would first need to stop weapons testing for a "significant amount of time." Tuesday's summit was arranged after North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un, recently called for improved relations with South Korea. North Korea's push to develop nuclear weapons in defiance of United Nations Security Council resolutions had stoked tensions with the South.

The two Koreas have agreed to hold military talks after their first official talks in two years, where they discussed the upcoming Winter Olympics. They also agreed to reopen a military hotline linking the countries. North and South Korea have agreed to hold talks on reducing military tensions and “actively cooperate” in next month’s Winter Olympics in South Korea, they ... 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 »

China calls for US restraint in Korean military drills after B-1B flyover

With the US sending a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber jet over the Korean peninsula, China has called for more delicate handling of the situation. North Korea has described Trump as "insane." In a tit-for-tat show of military might, South Korea and the United states have this week held air combat drills — a week after Pyongyang tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that it claims puts the US within its reach. Read more: South says North Korea's latest missile test is bigger threat Midway though the large-scale aerial exercises involving hundreds of warplanes, the US has flown a B-1B supersonic bomber over South Korea. The bomber flew from Guam and joined US F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters in the military drills. North Korea has consistently described the B-1B as a "nuclear strategic bomber," although the plane was converted to carry conventional weaponry in the mid-1990s. The North Korean military issued a statement saying, "Through the drill, the South Korean and US air forces displayed the allies' strong intent and ability to punish North Korea when threatened by nuclear weapons and missiles." North Korean state media said on Tuesday that the military exercises were serving to escalate tensions, describing a heightened risk of nuclear war due to "US imperialist warmongers' extremely reckless war hysteria." It also labeled US President Donald Trump as "insane." Read more: Which countries have diplomatic relations with North Korea? China calls for restraint China has proposed that North Korea suspend missile and nuclear testing in exchange for a halt to US-South Korean military exercises. This suggestion has been repeatedly rejected by Washington. Read more: North Korea: UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman visits Pyongyang South Korean President Moon Jae-in will visit China next week for talks on North Korea. Asked about the bomber's flight, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, "We hope relevant parties can maintain restraint and not do anything to add tensions on the Korean peninsula."

With the US sending a B-1B Lancer strategic bomber jet over the Korean peninsula, China has called for more delicate handling of the situation. North Korea has described Trump as “insane.” In a tit-for-tat show of military might, South Korea and the United states have this week held air combat drills — a week after Pyongyang tested an intercontinental ballistic ... Read More »

North Korea: UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman visits Pyongyang

The UN's Undersecretary-General Jeffrey Feltman is leading the organization's highest-level visit to Pyongyang in more than six years. It comes amid massive war games on the peninsula and after a successful missile test. The United Nation's political affairs chief was flying into Pyongyang on Tuesday for a rare, four-day visit to North Korea. Undersecretary-General Jeffrey Feltman's trip will be the highest-level UN visit to the nation in more than six years as tensions with the US ratcheted even higher. Feltman will discuss "issues of mutual concern" and meet with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, Vice Minister Pak Myong Guk, diplomats and UN staff in the country, a spokesman said. The UN said it was unable to say whether he would also meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Read more: Which countries have diplomatic relations with North Korea? It will be Feltman's first visit to North Korea since he took office five years ago, and the first by a UN undersecretary-general in more than seven years. Dozens of people hold the title of undersecretary-general, but seniority varies greatly. The last senior UN officials to visit North Korea were Feltman's predecessor Lynn Pascoe in February 2010 and former UN aid chief Valerie Amos in October 2011, according to the UN. 'Long standing invitation' The UN said Feltman was visiting in response to "a long-standing invitation from the authorities in Pyongyang for a policy dialogue with the UN." His visit comes less than a week after North Korea test-fired a new ballistic missile that it said was capable of reaching the US mainland. His visit also comes just a day after the US and South Korea launched their biggest-ever joint military aviation exercises — a five-day drill involving 230 aircraft and tens of thousands of troops. Pyongyang described the maneuvers as an "all-out provocation" that would bring the region to "the brink of nuclear war." Russia and China wanted the drills canceled. The US State Department said it was "aware" of the trip, when asked if Washington backed the initiative. "The United States will continue to work with other countries, including the members of the UN Security Council, to increase diplomatic and economic pressure on [North Korea] to convince the regime to abandon its illegal nuclear weapons and missile development programs," the official added. "It is imperative that the countries of the world present North Korea with a unified, unambiguous response to its unlawful provocations." Prelude to Gutteres visit? When asked if the trip was in preparation of a possible visit by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, a UN spokesman said: "We hope to have more afterwards." North Korea has been subject to UN sanctions since 2006 over its missile and nuclear programs.

The UN’s Undersecretary-General Jeffrey Feltman is leading the organization’s highest-level visit to Pyongyang in more than six years. It comes amid massive war games on the peninsula and after a successful missile test. The United Nation’s political affairs chief was flying into Pyongyang on Tuesday for a rare, four-day visit to North Korea. Undersecretary-General Jeffrey Feltman’s trip will be the ... Read More »

Russia ‘increasing oil exports’ to North Korea

At a time when the United States is calling for more restrictions on fuel exports to North Korea, Russia may be attempting to avoid the total collapse of the regime in Pyongyang. Julian Ryall reports from Tokyo. The price of diesel oil and gasoline in North Korea has dropped sharply in the last month, according to reports from within the isolated republic, with Russia apparently stepping up supplies in spite of international efforts to isolate the regime of Kim Jong Un and force Pyongyang to abandon its development of nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles. According to "citizen journalists" who report on events inside North Korea for the Osaka-based Asia Press International (API) news agency, fuel prices began to fall in November after several months of fluctuations. Reports put the price of one kilogram of diesel oil at US$0.82 (0.7 euros) now, down 60 percent from early November, while gasoline is being sold for around $2 (1.68 euros) per one kilogram, down 25 percent. The sharp declines come despite increasingly stiff sanctions imposed on Pyongyang, including measures designed specifically to limit the amount of fuel that North Korea can obtain. Resolution 2375, adopted by the United Nations Security Council shortly after the North's sixth underground nuclear test on September 3, singled out fuel supplies for sanctions, and the US government has since stepped up its calls for China to halt the flow of oil over the border. Oil over the border One of API's correspondents claims, however, that "massive amounts" of fuel are coming into the border province of Yanggang from Russia. "It is difficult to know exactly how much fuel is getting into North Korea, but it does appear that Russia has recently been supplying Pyongyang with fuel," said James Brown, an associate professor of international relations and an expert on Russia-North Korean trade at the Tokyo campus of Temple University. "It appears that Russia, in particular, but also China, are losing patience with the US," he told DW. "They feel that they have done their part in putting new pressure on North Korea but that Washington should be doing more." While Beijing and Moscow supported sanctions in the autumn, North Korea went for more than two months without launching any missiles, Brown points out. Yet Washington made it clear that it was going ahead with joint US-South Korea air exercises, which began in South Korean air space on Monday. When the US confirmed that the largest ever joint air exercises - 230 aircraft practicing attacks on North Korea's nuclear facilities and missiles bases - would proceed as planned, Pyongyang resumed missile launches. The intercontinental ballistic missile launched on November 29 is understood to have a range of around 13,000 km, putting anywhere in the US within range. Read more: North Korea: UN political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman visits Pyongyang Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump discuss Syria, Ukraine, North Korea in hour-plus call Hurting the North "Russia may very well feel that the US provoked the most recent missile test by the North and it is not at all clear that Beijing and Moscow will help cut off all fuel supplies because that that represents the 'nuclear option' that would really hurt the North," Brown said. "And while that is exactly what the US wants, Russia is extremely wary of the consequences of the North collapsing," he added. Moscow's concerns include conflict breaking out on its Far East border, a sudden influx of vast numbers of refugees or a civil war in the North in which numerous players are vying to win control of the country's nuclear weapons. Daniel Pinkston, a professor of international relations at the Seoul campus of Troy University, agrees that there are indications that Moscow is trying to "stabilize" the situation in North Korea in order to avoid a collapse, while some point out that restricting deliveries of fuel oil during the North's notoriously harsh winters would inevitably have a humanitarian cost on ordinary people. "There is also the argument that if the North Korean leadership feels that the screws are being tightened too much and that their situation is deteriorating and there are no prospects of it improving, then they might take some kind of coercive, kinetic action to change that situation," he said. Read more: US military base in South Korea mired in corruption scandal Escalate a way out "Even if they accept that they are in a relatively weakened position and have no chance of winning an all-out war, it is possible that they might try to escalate their way out of a deteriorating situation with the threat of some kind of action in return for concessions." There are also suggestions that Russian policy in the Far East is being shaped by President Vladimir Putin's hostility towards the West over the conflict in the Ukraine, while relations between Moscow and Washington are uncomfortable due to allegations of Russia meddling in the US elections. In addition, Brown points out that if Russia is able to obtain some kind of economic leverage over North Korea, it might give Moscow leverage that could be used to encourage the US to drop its hostility. "Similarly, that leverage might be used to encourage Pyongyang to dial back the aggression, making Moscow appear as the "responsible stakeholder in the region," he added.

At a time when the United States is calling for more restrictions on fuel exports to North Korea, Russia may be attempting to avoid the total collapse of the regime in Pyongyang. Julian Ryall reports from Tokyo. The price of diesel oil and gasoline in North Korea has dropped sharply in the last month, according to reports from within the ... Read More »

North Korea fires new version of ballistic missile

North Korea has launched what appears to be a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, claiming it has the ability to strike anywhere on the US continent. China responded by urging Pyongyang not to raise tensions. North Korea conducted its first ballistic missile launch test in more than two months early on Wednesday morning local time, South Korean and US officials said. According to South Korea's Yonhap news agency, the missile was launched from Sain Ni in the South Pyongyang Province and flew eastwards towards Japan. Those reports were quickly confirmed by South Korea's military and US government officials — on condition of anonymity. In a statement on North Korean television, Pyongyang said it had launched a new type of long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) called a Hwasong-15. It claimed the missile was superior to the previous Hwasong-14 and was capable of striking the entire US continent. It said the new rocket meant Pyongyang had "realized the great historic cause of completing a state nuclear force." The report claimed the missile was capable of carrying a "super-large, heavy warhead." Pyongyang has yet to prove itself capable of carrying a nuclear warhead back into the earth's atmosphere aboard such a missile, but experts believe it is not far off. Probably a long-range missile US, Japanese and South Korean officials all agreed it was probably an ICBM, saying it rose to an altitude of about 4,500 km (2,800 miles) and flew 960 kilometers (600 miles) over about 50 minutes before landing in Japan's exclusive economic zone — the area off the country's coast where it has jurisdiction over nautical resources. The trajectory was largely confirmed by the North Korean announcement. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the missile traveled higher than any other Pyongyang has ever fired. It was Pyongyang's first ballistic launch since September 15, when it fired a missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and into the Pacific Ocean. It also conducted its most powerful nuclear test ever that month, when it supposedly detonated a hydrogen bomb. On Wednesday's broadcast, North Korea described itself as a "responsible nuclear power," but warned it intended to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity from "the US imperialists' nuclear blackmail policy and nuclear threat." Trump: US 'will take care of it' Addressing the missile launch, US President Donald Trump told reporters that "it is a situation that we will handle," without providing further detail. The White House said that the president had been briefed on the North's ICBM test while the missile was still in the air. Trump was meeting with Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill at the time. His defense chief Mattis said North Korea was endangering world peace, regional peace and "certainly the United States." China, Russia warn against heightened tensions North Korea's most powerful ally, China, voiced "grave concern" over the launch and asked Pyongyang not to "aggravate tensions related to the peninsula situation." Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang also urged talks and said the best way to easing tensions was Beijing's proposal for North Korea to freeze weapons tests in return for the US suspending military drills. Russia denounced Pyongyang's launch and joined China in calling for calm. "Undoubtedly, another missile launch is a provocative action that provokes a further increase of tensions," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "We condemn this launch and hope that all relevant sides keep calm." Japan, Korea vow to maximize pressure Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to maximize pressure on North Korea. "An outrageous act like this is absolutely intolerable as it trampled on the international community's united strong will to seek a peaceful solution," Abe told reporters. He called for the international community to unite and fully implement sanctions against North Korea. A Japanese government spokesperson also said the US and Japan had agreed that China had to play an increased role regarding North Korea. South Korean President Moon Jae-in strongly condemned the latest launch but said it had been anticipated. Minutes after the missile launch, Seoul conducted its own "precision strike" missile firing test in response to the North's provocations, South Korea military officials said. Germany summons North Korean ambassador German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel strongly criticized Pyongyang's action and said he will summon North Korea's ambassador. "North Korea has again breached international law. North Korea's reckless behavior is an enormous threat to international security," he said. A spokeswoman for European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini described North Korea's ICBM launch as a further unacceptable violation" of its international obligations. "This launch represents a further grave provocation and a serious threat to international security," she added. The United Nations Security Council said it will hold an urgent meeting Wednesday to discuss the test. A summer of saber-rattling The launch comes just a week after Trump re-designated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism, allowing the US to impose even stricter sanctions on the rogue regime. The president said the terror designation and sanctions were part of his "maximum pressure campaign" against the North's regime. Pyongyang denounced Trump's move, calling it a "serious provocation and violent infringement." Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traded a series of insults over the summer, which saw the US president use his maiden speech before the United Nations to warn Pyongyang that the US would have no choice but to "totally destroy" North Korea if it were forced to defend itself or its allies from a missile attack.

North Korea has launched what appears to be a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, claiming it has the ability to strike anywhere on the US continent. China responded by urging Pyongyang not to raise tensions. North Korea conducted its first ballistic missile launch test in more than two months early on Wednesday morning local time, South Korean and ... Read More »

North Korean soldier shot trying to defect to South

A North Korean soldier was shot and wounded as he made it to a South Korean controlled border post. It was a rare defection at the only point where soldiers from the two sides stand just meters from each other. A North Korean soldier defected to South Korea on Monday by bolting across the border truce village of Panmunjom, the only place along the heavily-militarized Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) where the two sides stand face-to-face. The North Korean soldier was shot and wounded by his own side before reaching the section controlled by South Korea. He was taken by helicopter to a hospital. There was no exchange of gunfire between the two sides, but South Korea said its forces were put on alert. North Korean soldiers occasionally try to defect across the heavily-fortified DMZ, but it is rare for defections at Panmunjom. Read more: - North Korea: From war to nuclear weapons - North Korean defector pushes for diplomacy in US testimony - What is China's role in the North Korean crisis? Cold War relic Unlike the rest of the DMZ, the border post at Panmunjom has no mines or barbed wire and is only separated by a low concrete barrier. Soldiers from each side stand only a few meters (yards) away from each other. South Korea's Yonhap news agency said that soldiers at the border post are often chosen for their loyalty to avoid defections. More than 30,000 North Koreans have fled the hermit country since it was split 1948. Most attempts to flee are made through China before defectors go to South Korea. Separately on Monday, South Korean police arrested a 58-year-old American man from Louisiana in a restricted zone apparently trying to reach North Korea. Yonhap reported the American man wanted to cross to the North for "political purposes." He is being investigated by the army, intelligence services and police.

A North Korean soldier was shot and wounded as he made it to a South Korean controlled border post. It was a rare defection at the only point where soldiers from the two sides stand just meters from each other. A North Korean soldier defected to South Korea on Monday by bolting across the border truce village of Panmunjom, the ... Read More »

Scroll To Top