Canada ratcheting up pressure on N. Korea
Canada expressed worries Sunday over security risks from North Korea’s nuclear proliferation, the latest in a series of moves to put diplomatic pressure on the communist nation.
“North Korea’s nuclear proliferation has a destabilizing impact on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia. Canada has significant economic and strategic interests in this region that could be at risk from North Korea’s activities in this regard,” Canadian Security Intelligence Service said in an annual report on global security threats.
“North Korea has shown no inclination to ‘denuclearize,’ as called for by the international community and, moreover, has been proven willing to export its nuclear technology to states such as Syria,” it said.
Canada, a G-8 member, has not been directly involved in the six-way talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. But it has shown keen interest in the North Korea issue.
Since 2006, Canada has contributed over $17.1 million in food aid for North Korean people.
Last week, Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird issued a statement calling on Pyongyang to address its human rights abuse, including reported atrocities in political prison camps.
The minister raised the issue of the family in North Korea of Oh Kil-nam, a 69-year-old retired economist.
Oh defected to North Korea in 1985, while studying in West Germany. He was sent back to Germany in 1986 on a mission to entice more South Koreans to the North, leaving behind his wife Shin Sook-ja and two daughters. He took political asylum in Denmark.
Oh has been appealing to the world for help in confirming the fate of his family in the North.
“When Mr. Oh defected from North Korea two years later, Ms. Shin and her daughters, Oh Hye-won and Oh Gyu-won, were imprisoned in the Yodok political prison camp,” the Canadian minister said, echoing media reports.
In his separate talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan in Ottawa on Saturday, Baird discussed ways to resolve the North Korean nuclear and human rights problem, according to officials.
The ministers also agreed to step up efforts to move forward talks on a free trade agreement between the two nations and strengthen cooperation in the fields of energy and natural resources, they added.
Kim and Baird signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to strengthen the two countries’ collaboration on international development.
“Canada and South Korea are two prosperous nations made richer by the shared values and generosity of our people,” Baird said. “The pact we signed today reflects our shared commitment to ensuring development funds are spent efficiently and transparently, with a focus on getting real results.”
South Korea is Canada’s seventh-largest trading partner and the third-largest in Asia after China and Japan. There are more than 20,000 Canadians living in South Korea, data show.
In 2013, South Korea and Canada will mark the 50th anniversary of forging diplomatic ties.