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Hotline set up between North and South Korea

North and South Korea set up first hotline between leaders ahead of summit  , ABC News 21 Apr 18 
North and South Korea have installed the first telephone hotline between their leaders as they prepare for a rare summit next week aimed at resolving the nuclear standoff with Pyongyang.

Key points:
Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in will make their first call before next week’s summit
Their meeting will be only the third since the end of the Korean War in 1953
Kim Jong-un could also meet Donald Trump in May or June

South Korea’s presidential office said a successful test call was conducted on the hotline between Seoul’s presidential Blue House and Pyongyang’s powerful State Affairs Commission.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un plan to make their first telephone conversation sometime before their face-to-face meeting next Friday at the border truce village of Panmunjom.

Too early to celebrate?

Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un have agreed to meet — but what’s the significance of the meeting and is it too early to have a sigh of relief?

South Korean officials say the hotline, which will be maintained after the summit, will help facilitate dialogue and reduce misunderstanding during times of tension………http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-20/koreas-set-up-first-hotline-between-leaders-ahead-of-summit/9682364

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April 21, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

North Korea just promised a huge concession on its nuclear weapons. It’s done that before. 

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said North Korea might end its nuclear program while the US keeps its troops in South Korea. We’ve been here before. Vox By 

April 20, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Donald Trump to demand “full denuclearisation” of North Korea, in exchange for US embassy in Pyongyang’

Donald Trump ‘to tell Kim Jong-un to scrap nuclear arsenal within year in return for US embassy in Pyongyang’ ,  

President Donald Trump is expected to demand that Pyongyang abolish its nuclear weapons capability within a year when he sits down for talks with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean dictator, but will offer to open an embassy in the North’s capital and provide humanitarian assistance as an incentive.

The details offer a sense of the rapid pace of progress towards talks although analysts suggest the timetable may be overambitious.

Quoting sources in Washington, South Korea’s Chosun Ilbo newspaper said Mr Trump rejected Pyongyang’s proposals for “phased and synchronised” steps to eliminate the North’s nuclear arsenal and will instead insist that full denuclearisation is completed within 12 months of their meeting. …….https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/13/donald-trump-tell-kim-jong-un-scrap-nuclear-arsenal-within-year/

April 14, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Kim Jong-un will not give up North Korea’s nuclear weapons

 https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/04/09/kim-jong-un-will-not-give-up-north-koreas-nuclear-weapons/ Evans J.R. Revere, Monday, April 9, 2018  

Editor’s Note:If President Trump insists on meeting Kim Jong-un, he must be prepared either to agree to a long negotiating process that will play into Kim’s hands, or to walk away from the table, writes Evans Revers. Faced with these options, the prudent choice might be to press the “pause” button. This piece originally appeared on Newsweek.

President Donald J. Trump’s upcoming summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be an historic encounter between two supremely self-confident, headstrong, and mercurial men, each seeking the other’s surrender.

The irresistible force of Donald Trump, whose administration has declared it will never accept, allow, or tolerate a North Korean nuclear threat to America, will soon meet the immovable object of a North Korean regime that has declared it will never give up its nuclear weapons “even in a dream.” What could possibly go wrong?

President Trump agreed to the summit on a whim, surprising his advisers and the South Korean envoys who conveyed Kim Jong-un’s invitation. Had he discussed the invitation with his advisers first, he would have heard that Kim’s reported interest in a deal on “denuclearization of the whole Korean Peninsula” is nothing of the kind.

Those who have negotiated nuclear matters with Pyongyang know that Kim’s words were a familiar North Korean demand to end the “threat” posed by the U.S.-South Korea alliance, the presence of U.S. troops in Korea, and the nuclear umbrella that defends South Korea and Japan.

A senior North Korean official once explained to a group of American experts, “If you remove those threats, we will feel more secure and in ten or twenty years’ time we may be able to consider denuclearization. In the meantime,” he continued, “we are prepared to meet with you as one nuclear weapon state with another to discuss arms control.”

That is North Korea’s concept of “denuclearization.” It bears no resemblance to the American definition.

April 11, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Through “back channels”, secret talks go on between USA and North Korea

Secret, direct talks underway between US and North Korea, By Elise LabottKevin Liptak and Jenna McLaughlin, CNN, April 7, 2018  Washington  The United States and North Korea have been holding secret, direct talks to prepare for a summit between President Donald Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, a sign that planning for the highly anticipated meeting is progressing, several administration officials familiar with the discussions tell CNN.

April 9, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Satellite imagery of North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center

North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center: Construction Progressing Rapidly Near Reactors; No Signs of Reprocessing   BY: 38 NORTH  [EXCELLENT SATELLITE PHOTOS] APRIL 6, 2018   SATELLITE IMAGERY  A 38 North exclusive with analysis by Frank V. Pabian, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., and Jack Liu.  Commercial satellite imagery of the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center from April 4 shows significant progress in the modifications underway associated with the 5 MWe reactor’s secondary cooling system. (Figure 1)   [on original]  Over the past five days, a rectangular, concrete-walled, vault-like foundation has been erected.[1] (Figures 2 and 3) [on original] The purpose of this new structure remains unclear, but it could be for a new pump house comparable to the one serving the ELWR. Given recent efforts to dam the river below this point to create a reservoir, this could be part of a larger effort to provide a steady flow of water into that reactor allowing it to run more continuously and safely in the future. Alternatively, since its location is near where the reactor cooling water used to be expelled during previous reactor operations, it could be part of a new cooling water outflow system to enhance the overall efficiency and potentially the cooling capacity of the secondary cooling loop………. https://www.38north.org/2018/04/yongbyon040618/

April 6, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics | Leave a comment

Japanese Foreign Minister’s Reports of Tunneling at Punggye-ri:  not supported by Commercial Satellite Imagery 

Japanese Foreign Minister’s Reports of Tunneling at Punggye-ri: What Commercial Satellite Imagery Shows  [excellent photos] BY: 38 NORTH, APRIL 2, 2018A  Analysis by Frank V. Pabian, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., and Jack Liu.

On March 31, 2018, Japan’s Foreign Minister, Taro Kono, in a lecture in Kochi city, is reported to have said that North Korea appears to be “working hard to get ready for the next nuclear test,” and the associated reporting claims that he had added that soil had been “removed from the tunnel at the nuclear test site where past tests were conducted.” The reporting also suggested that his remarks “may be based on satellite imagery provided by the United States.”

While it is unclear whether the Foreign Minister was referring to activity observed over the last few days or from earlier work conducted after North Korea’s September 2017 nuclear test, commercial satellite imagery from March 23 shows quite a different picture: namely, that activity at the test site has been significantly reduced compared to previous months. Tunneling at the West Portal, a site not associated with any of North Korea’s previous tests, had been active earlier this year but has slowed down significantly as has other personnel and vehicular movement around the site. (It appears that only a small amount of new spoil has been excavated from the tunnel recently).[1]

Nevertheless, it is highly likely that the North Koreans continue to maintain the readiness of the nuclear test facility—one indication is recent roadwork—to allow nuclear testing in the future should Pyongyang decide to do so.

1. Precise determination of the extent of new spoil accumulation is made difficult from March 17 to 23 due to variations in the imagery deriving from different sensors on different satellites from different vendors having different look angles and slightly different amounts of melted snow together with vegetative shadowing.

 

April 4, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Japan warns that North Korea is digging new tunnel, “preparing for nuclear test”

North Korea is ‘preparing for nuclear test by digging tunnel’   http://www.news.com.au/world/asia/north-korea-is-preparing-for-nuclear-test-by-digging-tunnel/news-story/69fe873a70328b72addac06b9924c3d2  JAPAN has warned that North Korea is “doing everything possible” to prepare for the next nuclear test by digging a new tunnel. 

NORTH Korea is gearing up for a new nuclear test by digging an underground tunnel, Japan has warned.

The country’s Foreign Minister Taro Kono said: “[North Korea] is doing everything possible to prepare for the next nuclear test: it is currently extracting earth from an underground tunnel where the previous test was carried out.”

The minister said previously the secretive state “does not reveal its intentions to the outside world in terms of denuclearisation”.

The claim comes just days after Kim Jong-un promised to bin his beloved nuclear weapons if he could be guaranteed security and US military threats against North Korea were to stop.

At the end of last year the tyrant declared his country a fully fledged nuclear power after launching a new missile he claimed was capable of hitting anywhere on the planet.

Nuclear devices are often tested underground to prevent radioactive material released in the explosion reaching the surface and contaminating the environment — this method also ensures a degree of secrecy.

The release of radiation from an underground nuclear explosion — an effect known as “venting” — would give away clues to the technical composition and size of a country’s device.

A test site is carefully geologically surveyed to ensure suitability — usually in a place well away from population centres.

The nuclear device is placed into a drilled hole or tunnel usually between 200-800m below the surface, and several metres wide. Last year a tunnel at an underground North Korean nuclear site was said to have collapsed.

Up to 200 people were thought to have died at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in the northeast of the country.

The accident was believed to have been caused by Kim Jong-un’s sixth nuclear test which weakened the mountain, according to the report.

Former British Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon previously warned that Britain is at risk from North Korea’s long-range nuclear missile program as some cities are closer than American targets.

Revised estimates suggest the total number of missiles the rogue state has is believed to be between 13 and 21.

And the regime is estimated to have at least four nuclear warheads.

Satellite images of Jong-un’s main missile test site in August revealed North Korea’s weapons were more powerful than initially thought.

Careful analysis of North Korean tests sites, using images from Planet, reveal the regime has been gradually building up the size of its missiles.

April 2, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un’s complete turnaround in tactics: will it result in peace, or not?

But together, the Kim-Moon meeting serves more as a prelude to the Trump-Kim summit. And if those talks fail, Harry Kazianis, an Asia security expert at the Center for the National Interest think tank, thinks the chances of war might increase.

“We are putting all of our eggs in the summit basket,” he told me. “This is the ultimate Hail Mary.”

The North Korea nuclear standoff: how we went from “fire and fury” to talks in under a year Vox,  “North Korea has 100 percent changed its tactics.” By 

 

March 31, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Increased activity at North Korean nuclear site

Renewed activity at North Korean nuclear site sparks fears, UNNERVING satellite images of a North Korean nuclear site suggest that Kim Jong-un may be expanding his nuclear program. Eric Talmadge, news.com.au  APMARCH 29, 2018

INCREASED activity at a North Korean nuclear site has once again caught the attention of analysts and renewed concerns about the complexities of denuclearisation talks.

The satallite imagery, taken last month, were released as United States President Donald Trump prepares for a summit with Kim Jong-un in the coming weeks.

Yesterday, Xinhua News revealed that during a secret visit to China, Mr Kim had told Chinese President Xi Jinping that he was ready for talks with the US about nuclear weapons, promising to give up his nuclear arsenal.

But observers believe these images suggest the North has begun preliminary testing of an experimental light water reactor and possibly brought another reactor online at its Yongbyon Nuclear Research Centre.

Both could be used to produce the fissile materials needed for nuclear bombs.

The findings come at a particularly sensitive time.

Trump and Kim are planning to meet by May, according to officials, and denuclearisation will likely be the biggest topic on their agenda if they do meet………..http://www.news.com.au/world/asia/renewed-activity-at-north-korean-nuclear-site-sparks-fears/news-story/d0f03838c7d7460b5ccda2288975d54b

March 28, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

How America could come to terms with a nuclear-armed North Korea

The Strategic Wisdom of Accommodating North Korea’s Nuclear Status

What if Washington came to terms with a nuclear North Korea but remained on the peninsula? The Diplomat , By Graham W. Jenkins, March 28, 2018  

March 27, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Trump will demand “preconditions” for nuclear summit with Kim Jong Un

Trump’s nuclear summit with Kim ‘will have preconditions’ SMH, 12 Mar 18  Washington: US President Donald Trump’s condition for meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is that there be no nuclear or missile testing, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Sunday.”There shouldn’t be confusion,” Mnuchin told NBC’s Meet the Press when asked about White House press secretary Sarah Sanders’ statement on Friday that there would be no meeting without concrete and verifiable actions by North Korea.

The President has made it clear that the conditions are that there’s no nuclear testing and there’s no missiles and those will be a condition through the meeting.”

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Central Intelligence Agency director Mike Pompeo said Trump was serious about the meeting, and that his acceptance of Kim’s invitation wasn’t “just for show.”…….https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/trump-s-nuclear-summit-with-kim-will-have-preconditions-20180312-p4z3w0.html

March 12, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Analysing North Korea’s Nuclear Ambitions And Abilities

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance on a nuclear weapons program in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 3, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS

North Korea’s Nuclear Ambitions And Abilities,  NPR’s Renee Montagne talks with Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, about North Korea’s nuclear program. National Public Radio. 11 Mar 18 

……….  HECKER: Well, first of all, I think it’s not very likely to happen, [the meeting between Trump and Kim] . What’s significant in the current situation is they’ve actually said that they would be willing to give up nuclear weapons, you know, if their security is assured, and they’re not threatened. However, to think that’s going to happen in the short term is just not realistic because to build a nuclear weapons program, it’s an enormous number of facilities. It’s a large number of people. It took, well, more or less 50 years but particularly the last 25 years to get to where they are today. They’re not going to turn that over overnight.
 

…….. MONTAGNE: Well, short of full denuclearization, what other steps could North Korea take to prove, you know, its sincerity in this?

HECKER: So there are very important steps. And one can lay those out. In other words, I look at the things that are highest risk. And those are the things you want them to stop first. So two that were highest on my list – they have, for the time being, said they would do a moratorium. And that’s no more missile tests and no more nuclear tests – because to increase the sophistication of your bombs, you have to do more nuclear tests. The next one would be not to make any more bomb-grade material, which means stop the operation of the reactors. All three of those are verifiable. The problem is on the bomb-grade material, you can also go the uranium route. Those are the centrifuge halls. We know where one of them is. We don’t know where the other one or two are. And that will be extremely difficult to verify. And that’s going to take a long time and a real detailed process with them to get there.

MONTAGNE: From what you know of North Korea from your time on the ground, are they motivated to use these weapons? Is this something to really be afraid of?

HECKER: What I worry about when it comes to the weapons is – one is capability. Second is motivation. And capability – for many years, I was able to say, look. You know, they have the bomb, but they don’t have much. They don’t have a nuclear arsenal. Then comes the motivation part. And would they be motivated to go ahead and attack the United States, Japan or South Korea basically out of the blue? I say absolutely not. They want those weapons to make sure to protect them. Perhaps they want the weapons so that they actually have sort of sufficient maneuvering room, you know, on the Korean Peninsula. What I’ve worried about is not so much that they’re motivated to attack us but rather that we’re going to stumble into a nuclear war.

MONTAGNE: Sig Hecker is a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, now at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.  https://www.npr.org/2018/03/11/592700149/north-koreas-nuclear-ambitions-and-abilities

March 12, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s historic gamble on meeting Kim Jong Un – so much could go wrong

Donald Trump’s historic bet on Kim Jong Un summit shatters decades of orthodoxy Straits Times 9 Mar 18  WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – US President Donald Trump took the biggest gamble of his presidency on Thursday (March 8), breaking decades of US diplomatic orthodoxy by accepting an invitation to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

The bet is that Mr Trump’s campaign to apply maximum economic pressure on Mr Kim’s regime has forced him to consider what was previously unthinkable: surrendering the illicit nuclear weapons programme begun by his father.

If the president is right, the US would avert what appeared at times last year (2017) to be a steady march towards a second Korean War………

Regardless of how it turns out, the stunning decision by Mr Trump hands Mr Kim a prize long sought by the regime’s ruling dynasty: the legitimacy conferred by a historic meeting with the sitting president.

So much could go wrong.

…….Senator Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, applauded Mr Trump’s diplomatic effort.

“Expectations should be low and history demonstrates that scepticism and careful diplomatic work are necessary, but it is better to be talking about peace than recklessly ramping up for a war,” he said on Twitter.

DENUCLEARISATION ‘UNLIKELY’

Mr Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists, said that while the talks would extend the period of relative warmth that began during the Olympics, denuclearisation remained “extremely unlikely”.

Nuclear weapons are fundamental to the Kim family’s grip on power at home.

“Kim Jong Un has rational incentives to keep his nuclear arsenal,” Mr Mount said in a phone interview.

He also cautioned that the meeting was “a massive coup” for a regime that “wants to be seen as a regular nuclear power”.

It could lend Mr Kim insights into how the US and South Korea coordinate, and the regime could test Mr Trump by asking for exorbitant terms in exchange for denuclearisation.

“I do worry about a president who has no foreign policy experience getting out-manoeuvred,” he said. “I don’t trust Donald Trump alone in a room with Kim Jong Un.” http://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/trumps-historic-bet-on-kim-summit-shatters-decades-of-orthodoxy

 

March 10, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | 1 Comment

Donald Trump agrees to meet Kim Jong Un

Trump accepts invitation to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un  Boston Globe,  

TOKYO – President Donald Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for talks, an extraordinary development following months of heightened nuclear tension during which the two leaders exchanged frequent military threats and insults.

Kim has also committed to stopping nuclear and missile testing, even during joint military drills in South Korea next month, Chung Eui-yong, the South Korean national security adviser, told reporters at the White House on Thursday night after briefing the president on his four-hour dinner meeting with Kim in Pyongyang on Monday.

After a year in which North Korea fired intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching all of the United States and tested what is widely thought to have been a hydrogen bomb, such a moratorium would be welcomed by the United States and the world.

Trump and Kim have spent the past year making belligerent statements about each other, with Trump mocking Kim as ‘‘Little Rocket Man’’ and pledging to ‘‘totally destroy’’ North Korea and Kim calling the American president a ‘‘dotard’’ and a ‘‘lunatic’’ and threatening to send nuclear bombs to Washington, D.C.

But Kim has ‘‘expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible,’’ Chung told reporters.

‘President Trump said he would meet Kim

Jong Un by May,’’ Chung said, but he did not provide any information on where the meeting would be. In Seoul, the presidential Blue House clarified that the meeting would occur by the end of May.

The White House confirmed that Trump had accepted Kim’s invitation to meet…….https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2018/03/08/trump-says-south-korea-make-major-statement-tonight/IEsGcNLscqxxoyjoAQiXIK/story.html?event=event25

 

March 10, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | 1 Comment