Security in Korea – the US view, by Tom Donilon

[Thomas E. Donilon is National Security Advisor to US President Barack Obama. The following is an excerpt of his speech at a function of the The Asia Society, delivered in New York City on 11 March 2013. The title of his presentation was “The United States and the Asia-Pacific in 2013”. We reproduce the section of his remarks dealing with the President’s North Korea policies. You may view and listen to the whole speech and subsequent discussion on the website of the Asia Society here. –CanKor]

Tom Danilon is National Security Advisor to US President Barack Obama (Photo by Alex Wong, Getty Images)

Tom Danilon is National Security Advisor to US President Barack Obama (Photo by Alex Wong, Getty Images)

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President Obama has clearly stated that we will maintain our security presence and engagement in the Asia-Pacific. Specifically, our defense spending and programs will continue to support our key priorities – from our enduring presence on the Korean Peninsula to our strategic presence in the western Pacific.

This means that in the coming years a higher proportion of our military assets will be in the Pacific. Sixty percent of our naval fleet will be based in the Pacific by 2020. Our Air Force is also shifting its weight to the Pacific over the next five years. We are adding capacity from both the Army and the Marines. The Pentagon is working to prioritize the Pacific Command for our most modern capabilities – including submarines, Fifth-Generation Fighters such as F-22s and F-35s, and reconnaissance platforms. And we are working with allies to make rapid progress in expanding radar and missile defense systems to protect against the most immediate threat facing our allies and the entire region: the dangerous, destabilizing behavior of North Korea. Read the rest of this entry »

Rodman and Nukes by Victor Hsu

[CanKor Brain Trust member Prof. Victor Hsu, Director of International Aid and Education, Adjunct Advisor on North Korea at the School of Public Policy and Management, Korea Development Institute, sent us his musings on the media response to American basketball star Dennis Rodman’s visit with DPRK leader Kim Jong Un as well as reaction to North Korea’s nuclear test. –CanKor]

Dennis Rodman hugs North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a photo released by KCNA news agency. (Reuters/KCNA)

Dennis Rodman hugs North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in a photo released by KCNA news agency. (Reuters/KCNA)

I want to give you my two cents worth regarding all the fuss about Rodman and the third nuclear test.

On Rodman’s visit, if the officialdom would not engage, if the officialdom does not take a pro-active stance to engage, if the officialdom simply refuses to engage, then what option does the DPRK have but to engage with non-officialdom types like the NY Symphony, Rodman and Eric Schmidt?

I might add that the media do not see these steps as DPRK opening up! What about the lifting of restrictions on tour groups to visit the country? What about the permission to use the Internet and mobile phones?

You have to ask yourself whether the DPRK can ever do anything right? Or are they condemned to oblivion unless there is a pro-USA regime change? On the international response to the third nuclear test, is is all too deja vu. There is little analysis by the commentariat. Most of the blogs and experts are simply saying the obvious about the UNSC, the role of China and are now predicting a worsening of Inter-Korean relations. In fact, the experts seem to want military action because they are at their wits end about the “maddening” lack of cooperation of the DPRK. They have put themselves in a “No Exit” CVID analysis. [CVID stands for Complete, Verifiable and Irreversible Dismantlement. –CanKor] Read the rest of this entry »

Canada’s FM Baird Welcomes Expanded Sanctions Against North Korea

Canadian FM John Baird7 March 2013 – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement:

“Canada welcomes the expanded sanctions against North Korea adopted today at the United Nations Security Council and is proud to have been a co-sponsor.

“This response to North Korea’s reckless nuclear test in early February sends a clear and strong message to those responsible in Pyongyang.

“The true travesty is that the North Korean people continue to starve and are denied basic human rights while the regime in Pyongyang squanders limited resources.

“The international community had clearly warned North Korea that its belligerent actions would bear consequences.

“It is high time that the Government of North Korea reverse this dangerous course, abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and focus its scarce resources on the living conditions of its people.

“Canada will continue to work with our international partners to pursue all appropriate actions against the rogue regime in North Korea.”

For more information on the extent of the sanctions and the available exemptions Canada has already imposed against North Korea, please see North Korea: Overview of New Sanctions and a May 2010 statement by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

World Council of Churches statement on DPRK nuclear test

[The following statement by World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit was issued on 15 February 2013. According to its self-description, the WCC comprises 349 churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 560 million Christians and including most of the world’s Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches. –CanKor]

Statement by the WCC general secretary on resolving the rising tensions over the Korean Peninsula

oikoumene_logo_colourThe World Council of Churches (WCC) is gravely concerned at the test of another nuclear device on the Korean peninsula this week and at responses which deepen, rather than address, the long-standing tensions in the region.

The nuclear test in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is a destabilizing action in a fragile region. So far, the main responses risk tipping the region into greater crisis. The current situation demonstrates an urgent need for the members of the Six-Party Talks, the six governments most responsible for peace and human security in Northeast Asia, to return to their own earlier path of negotiations and confidence-building. Read the rest of this entry »

US experts debate Obama’s DPRK policy options

[Now that the volume of international outrage following the 12 February detonation of the DPRK’s third nuclear test has faded, the international community is waiting to see whether the Obama administration has any new ideas on how to meet this challenge. As always, Washington-based Chris Nelson takes the pulse of the American policy community, challenging his “Loyal Readers”, i.e. North Korea experts, to comment. The following is taken from the 19 February 2013 edition of The Nelson Report, with kind permission by the author. –CanKor.]

OBAMA N.K. POLICY

White_HouseRepeated here is the message from a senior informed source we ran in Friday’s Nelson Report (2/15), so you can make sense of the consequent Loyal Reader comments which follow:

The Obama Administration has never had an ideological problem with talking to the North Koreans – directly or multilaterally — and has been pushing without success since early 2009 for authentic and credible negotiations. The problem has been North Korea’s unwillingness to negotiate over its nuclear program, let alone to provide anyone with reason to believe that it will abide by any commitment it makes.

The purpose of the Feb 29 understanding last year was to put in place a moratorium that would open the door to negotiations — but the North immediately blew that up. So: Read the rest of this entry »

North Korean Nuclear Test: Implications for Asian Security, by Muthiah Alagappa

[Datuk Dr Muthiah Alagappa is Tun Hussein Onn Chair in International Studies at ISIS Malaysia and non-resident senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington DC. He is author-editor of Nuclear Weapons and Security in 21st Century Asia, published by Stanford University Press in 2008. The following article appeared in PacNet #10 as well as on the website of the Carnegie Foundation for International Peace on Wednesday, 13 February 2013. –CanKor]

Muthia AlagappaNorth Korea carried out its third nuclear test on Feb. 13, 2013 after having successfully test-fired its long-range rocket in December 2012. Pyongyang is on its way to developing a nuclear weapon capability that can be delivered at short range and in due course over longer ranges including to the United States, China, and Russia. As expected, the international community has reacted to the test with calls for tighter sanctions and will try to induce North Korea to the long-stalled Six-Party Talks. These are unlikely to succeed.

Though paying a high price, North Korea is intent on developing a strategic nuclear deterrent against present and potential adversaries. The international community must recognize and attempt to integrate a nuclear North Korea into Asia and the world. This may be unpalatable to policymakers who have persisted with a sanction and roll back policy as well as for the bankrupt nonproliferation community. However, there is little else that the international community can do. It can bomb North Korea to oblivion but that carries risks and would serve no substantive political or strategic purpose. Read the rest of this entry »

I Thought Groundhog Day was Last Week

So North Korea continues its streak as the only country that has tested a nuclear weapon in the past fifteen years.

The official English statement that was released by KCNA is interesting for two reasons. The first is that Pyongyang elegantly stated that the weapon that it tested yesterday was a smaller version (“miniaturized” per the Korean language version) of the weapons that were tested in 2006 and 2009. This of course is a thinly veiled statement directed towards those worried about the DPRK building a bomb that could fit snugly on top of a Taepodong rocket. Pyongyang’s answer is “si, su puede.”

The other interesting part of the statement is North Korea’s claim that its nuclear deterrent has become “diversified.” The most orthodox interpretation of this is that North Korea now possesses a bomb different from those that it tested earlier: namely, one of the Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) variety. This would be alarming in many respects: it means that the DPRK has, despite the myriad of sanctions lodged against it, acquired this technology. It means that the DPRK, with this technology, can continue to produce HEU type weapons en masse: since if there’s anything that’s remotely abundant in North Korea, it’s uranium. It also means that there has been some sort of cooperation between the DPRK and someone, whether it be China, or Pakistan, or Iran. Read the rest of this entry »

Sympathy for the devil – how best to deal with North Korea, by Spencer Kim

[Spencer H. Kim is chairman of CBOL Corporation, a California aerospace company. Specializing in the sale of aerospace products, CBOL markets to customers located in the United States, Europe, South America and on the Pacific Rim. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a non-resident fellow at Harvard’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. In addition to his business interests, Mr. Kim serves on the leadership team with the Cal-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church and as a member of the Commission on Race and Religion.  He also serves on the Board of Directors of The Korea Society headquartered in New York. He is a founding member of Pacific Century Institute, a non-profit foundation, dedicated to improving understanding and developing greater communication among peoples of the Pacific Rim nations. He serves as an advisory board member of the School of Public Affairs at UCLA. This article originally appeared in the Korea Times on 26 December 2012. It is a particularly refreshing take on the dilemmas facing the international community on how to deal with the DPRK, pointing to opportunities that it would be foolish to miss. –CanKor]

Spencer H. Kim croppedNorth Korea has successfully, sort of, launched a long-range missile. We are outraged. We want more sanctions; we want to pressure them till they say uncle or collapse. We wonder how China could be so perfidious in failing to make Pyongyang behave. We find it morally odious to talk to a regime that spends for rockets and nukes but allows it people to starve and puts others in concentration camps. Only when they agree in advance that they will knuckle under will we talk to them.

But indignation, however righteous, is often the enemy of wisdom. Reflection is a better ally. Yes, North Korea is difficult to deal with and its regime treats its people unspeakably. But if we are to deal with it (and, let’s face it, the place is not going to go away) we need to at least try to understand their viewpoint and understand our own weaknesses. Let us ask some probing questions of ourselves and perhaps even look at history a bit from the other guy’s eyes. Read the rest of this entry »

UN Sanctions Resolution: the good news and the bad news by Marcus Noland

[The following was taken from the blog North Korea: Witness to Transformation, which is hosted by the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics, and authored by Marcus Noland and Stephan Haggard. This commentary by long-time CanKor friend Marcus Noland was posted on 23 January 2013. –CanKor]

Marcus Noland (Photo by East-West Center)

Marcus Noland (Photo by East-West Center)

More than a month after North Korea fired a missile in contravention of two existing UNSC resolutions, the Security Council passed UNSC Resolution 2087, condemning the use of ballistic missile technology in launch and saying the “act violated United Nations sanctions, expresses determination to take “significant action” in event country proceeds with further launch.”

First, the good news: The action took the form of a resolution, not a presidential statement, which passed unanimously with China’s support.

At the margin, the resolution expands existing sanctions. It recognizes that the existing regime is leaky, referring to the use of bulk cash to evade sanctions, and signals that additional measures may be needed to tighten implementation. The South Korean defense ministry has claimed that wreckage recovered from the launch revealed parts and components of Chinese and European origin. Read the rest of this entry »

North Korea’s highest state body refutes UN Security Council resolution

[The following statement by North Korea’s highest ruling body, the National Defence Commission (NDC) responds to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2087, which was passed unanimously with Chinese support on Tuesday, 22 January 2013. The NDC response was published by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Thursday, 24 January 2013. –CanKor]

DPRK NDC Issues Statement Refuting UNSC Resolution

Officials of the DPRK NDC (Photo by AP)

Officials of the DPRK NDC (Photo by AP)

Our successful launch of satellite Kwangmyongsong 3-2 was a great jubilee in the history of the nation as it placed the nation’s dignity and honor on the highest plane and a spectacular success made in the efforts to develop space for peaceful purposes recognized by the world.

The world people who love justice and value conscience unanimously rejoice as their own over the signal success made by our country, not a big one, by its own efforts.

Even space institutions of a hostile country accustomed to have repugnancy towards others could not but recognize the DPRK’s successful satellite launch for peaceful purposes, from a low-profile stance. Read the rest of this entry »

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