Conflicting Messages: Whipping Out The Crystal Ball

When it comes to message control, our current Prime Minister’s office has nothing compared to the likes of Pyongyang. The rulers of the DPRK have for the last seventy years been quite fastidious when it has come to shaping the regime’s official message. After all, when you enjoy the benefits of controlling both the media and your diplomats abroad, the only thing you really have to worry about are the folks who decide to leave your tightly-controlled society.

It’s surprising that despite some extreme shocks to the system, including the famine and the death of the only leader the country had ever known in 1994, the regime’s grip did not grow any “looser.” Perhaps the areas around the country’s northern provinces have become a little more porous after the famine, but despite the relative free flow of knowledge that appears to be growing in the borderlands between China, the number of people (successfully) fleeing the country has dwindled, especially after the recent power succession.

This makes the conflicting messages coming out of the country quite surprising. 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 Treacherous New Course, by Leon V. Sigal

[The following commentary by Leon Sigal, long-time friend of CanKor, appeared in the American bimonthly foreign-policy journal The National Interest, 19 April 2012. Leon V. Sigal is director of the Northeast Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council in New York and author of Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea. –CanKor]

“There they go again.” That was the Washington’s reaction to North Korea’s recent rocket launch and renunciation of its February 29 commitment not to conduct a nuclear test. Yet this time looks different—and more dangerous. These actions suggest Pyongyang no longer cares about improving relations with the United States, the premise of its willingness to restrain its nuclear and missile efforts.

Unbounded nuclear and missile development by Pyongyang would gradually erode the security of all of its neighbors and the world at large. The only prudent course is a robust strategy of containment: denial of its weapons-related trade by tougher inspections of suspect cargo and tighter overflight restrictions.

A Mixed History

For years, North Korean officials have been saying they want to improve relations with the United States and were prepared to restrain their nuclear and missile programs in return. An end to enmity—what the North called U.S. “hostile policy”—would improve North Korean security and provide a counterweight to China. It would also facilitate aid and investment from South Korea and Japan, thereby reducing its economic dependence on China.

Given the lack of trust between the two countries, however, Pyongyang insisted on reciprocal steps by Washington—action for action—to build confidence. Pyongyang’s decision to conduct last week’s test launch, by contrast, destroyed confidence. Read the rest of this entry »

Statement by the President of the United Nations Security Council

[The following is Statement number S/PRST/2012/13 taken from the UN Security Council website. Distr.: General, 16 April 2012, Original: English. -CanKor]

(photo by UN)

At the 6752nd meeting of the Security Council, held on Monday, 16 April 2012, in connection with the Council’s consideration of the item entitled “Non-proliferation/Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”, the President of the Security Council made the following statement on behalf of the Council:

“The Security Council strongly condemns the 13 April 2012 (local time) launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

“The Security Council underscores that this satellite launch, as well as any launch that uses ballistic missile technology, even if characterized as a satellite launch or space launch vehicle, is a serious violation of Security Council resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009).

“The Security Council deplores that such a launch has caused grave security concerns in the region. Read the rest of this entry »

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