The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Kim Jong Un promises not to use nuclear weapons against Seoul after high-level talks

JUST when the world thought they had him pegged, Kim Jong Un has stunned with an apparent about face on nuclear weapons.   Victoria Craw@Victoria_Craw   7 Mar 18NORTH Korea has vowed not to use nuclear weapons against South Korea and could impose a ban on further nuclear and missile tests during talks with the US, South Korean media reports.

The stunning about face followed the first meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean officials since 2011.

It led to claims Kim Jong Un would not use conventional weapons against South Korea and had no reason to possesses nuclear weapons if it has a security guarantee.

The leaders also agreed to establish a “hotline” between the countries to reduce military tensions and will meet for another summit in late April at the border village of Panmunjom.

President Trump weighed in on the news on Twitter, saying “the US is ready to go hard in either direction”.

The surprising series of apparent concessions came after Kim Jong Un and top officials dined with South Korean leaders face-to-face in their first meeting in seven years.

The North Korean leader was joined by his wife Ri Sol-Ju and sister Kim Yo-jong, for the four hour session designed to advance inter-Korean relations.

South Korean security adviser, Chung Eui-yong told local media after the two-day talks in Pyongyang that North Korea committed to denuclearising the Korean peninsula.

“The North side clearly affirmed its commitment to the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and said it would have no reason to possess nuclear weapons should the safety of its regime be guaranteed and military threats against North Korea removed,” he said.

He added the North said it would hold “candid” talks with the US on how to reinstate bilateral ties, while agreeing there would be no further tests while talks are in progress…………


March 7, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

South Korea hopes to open nuclear talks, sends national security chief to Pyongyang

Seoul sends envoy to North Korea in hope of opening nuclear talks, Telegraph UK , Nicola Smith, taipei 4 MARCH 2018 

South Korea is to send its national security chief to Pyongyang on Monday to discuss how to resume dialogue between the US and North Korea over its nuclear and weapons programme.

President Moon Jae-in announced on Sunday that Chung Eui-yong, head of the National Security Office, and his intelligence chief Suh Hoon, would lead a ten member delegation on a two day trip to the North.

The envoys will deliver a letter from Mr Moon to North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, although it is still uncertain if they will meet with him personally. It would be the first time for Kim to meet with a South Korean official since he came to power in 2011.

The delegation is expected to hold talks that would pave the way for a possible summit meeting between the leaders of South and North Korea after Kim Jong-un last month invited Mr Moon to visit Pyongyang.

The envoys are “expected to hold talks with North Korea’s high level officials to discuss ways to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and develop the South-North Korea relationship,” presidential chief press secretary Yoon Young-chan said.


March 5, 2018 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

 South Korea Urges US Support for North Korea Nuclear Talks

Voice of America, Brian Padden
South Korean President Moon Jae-in is continuing efforts to broker talks between the U.S. and North Korea to reduce tensions over the North’s nuclear program, despite facing reluctance from Washington and Pyongyang, and increasing concerns at home.On Monday, North Korea expressed a willingness for talks with the United States, but did not clarify whether Pyongyang is prepared to address halting and eventually dismantling its threatening nuclear program. The support for dialogue came from Kim Yong Chol, the controversial head of the visiting North Korean delegation to the PyeongChang Olympics closing ceremony. Kim has been accused of orchestrating a North Korean torpedo attack on a South Korean warship in 2010 that killed 46 sailors.

U.S. President Donald Trump responded to the North’s sudden openness to dialogue with skepticism on Monday, saying, ” We’ll see what happens” and that the “right conditions” must first be in place before talks can proceed.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said it is working to address Washington’s concerns.

“Our government will continue to make efforts to persuade North Korea to respond promptly to the U.S., North Korea dialogue, while at the same time closely communicating and consulting with the U.S. on the future direction of North Korea’s nuclear diplomacy,” said Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk.

Conflicting strategies

While North Korea now says it is willing to talk, its defiant rhetoric, and the numerous missile launches and two nuclear tests conducted in the last year, indicate a more threatening posture. Kim Jong Un responded to increasing international sanctions by declaring his country a nuclear weapons state, and set upon developing an operational intercontinental ballistic missile capability to target the U.S. mainland.

The Trump administration responded with a “maximum pressure” campaign, imposing economic sanctions, along with an emphasis on the threat of military action, if necessary, to force the Kim government to give up its nuclear program.

Last week the President issued new unilateral sanctions on companies and vessels linked to North Korean shipping trade to further restrict Pyongyang’s ability to bypass sanctions, by obtaining oil and selling coal, using ship to ship transfers.

Trump’s insistence that conditions first be met before talks can proceed supports his “maximum pressure” approach, but it also seemed to pull back from the position voiced by Vice President Mike Pence after he visited South Korea to lead the U.S. Olympic delegation for the opening ceremony. Pence said the U.S. would be open to exploratory talks without conditions, while maintaining sanctions pressure.

The mixed messages coming out of Washington may suggest that Trump has not been entirely supportive of President Moon’s very assertive diplomatic outreach to engage North Korea during the Olympics.

“I think the United States government was not completely happy with the degree to which the U.S. government was consulted or not consulted before the South Koreans invited in the North Korean officials and athletes into the games,” said Denny Roy, an Asia Pacific security expert with the East-West Center in Honolulu. ……

February 28, 2018 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, has called on the US to “lower the bar” for discussions with North Korea

US urged to ‘lower bar’ on nuclear demands for North talks Independent ie, Julian Ryall, February 27 2018 Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, has called on the US to “lower the bar” for discussions with North Korea, suggesting Washington should drop its insistence that Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal must be part of any future talks.

The intervention comes as North Korea is rumoured to be warming to direct talks with the US.

However, Pyongyang has consistently stated that its atomic weapons are its security guarantee and, therefore, not open to debate.

Calling on the US to soften its stance, Mr Moon also said Pyongyang must demonstrate willingness to abolish its nuclear weapons.

Looking to build on the positive momentum generated by the South’s hosting of the Winter Olympic Games, which closed on Sunday, Mr Moon used a meeting with Liu Yandong, the Chinese vice premier, to suggest that the key protagonists should both make concessions.

“The United States needs to lower its bar for dialogue and the North, too, must show its willingness to denuclearise,” Mr Moon said, according to a government spokesman…..


February 28, 2018 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

USA and South Korea will announce plans to renew military drills

US and South Korea to announce plans for military manoeuvres with more than 320,000 troops, Express UK. 20 Feb 18

SOUTH KOREA and the United States will announce plans before April for a postponed joint military drill, South Korea’s defence minister said today. Seoul and Washington had agreed to postpone the regular joint military exercise until after the Winter Olympics being hosted in South Korea, which end on March 18.

After the decision to delay the joint exercise, North Korea  agreed to hold the first official talks with South Korea in more than two years and send athletes to the Winter Games, easing a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.

Asked when the two countries will hold the postponed drill, Song Young-moo told parliament he and his US counterpart, Jim Mattis, would make an announcement between March 18 and the start of April.

“The exercise was postponed according to the spirit of the Olympics,” Song said.

“We have agreed to uphold the basis until after the Paralympics…and not to confirm nor deny anything regarding what we would do after that until we announce it”………..

February 21, 2018 Posted by | South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Korea’s President Moon urges U.S., North Korea, to talk

Moon urges U.S., North to talk, Korea JoonGang Daily 19 Feb 18 
That is the key to a summit in Pyongyang, Blue House maintains  President Moon Jae-in said Saturday it is premature to talk about an inter-Korean summit, making clear that Washington and Pyongyang have to get closer to talking before that can take place.
“Anticipations are high, but I think it is too impetuous,” Moon said when a reporter asked if he will hold a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. “It’s like the old Korean saying that you are looking for hot water from a well.”

Kim sent his younger sister Kim Yo-jong to South Korea as a special envoy and she delivered an invitation to Moon on Feb. 10 to visit Pyongyang. Moon has yet to formally accept. Moon told his North Korean visitor: “Let’s create the environment for that to be able to happen.” …..

Moon said he is satisfied that various goals he set for the Olympics are being achieved. “One of the most important goals was prompting peace through the PyeongChang Olympics,” he said. “North Korea’s participation successfully eased tensions on the peninsula and the inter-Korean team and joint cheerleading impressed the world.

“Because inter-Korean talks made significant accomplishments, I have expectations for more improvement,” Moon said.

“Consensus is growing that dialogue between the United States and North Korea is necessary,” he said. “We are expecting that the ongoing talks between the two Koreas will lead to talks between the United States and the North and eventually denuclearization talks.”……..

Moon’s attempt to arrange a meeting between chief delegates of the United States and North Korea on the sidelines of the Olympics’ opening ceremony failed very publicly, with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence refusing to engage with the North Korean visitors at a reception and in the viewing box of the opening ceremony. But U.S. officials are increasingly indicating their willingness to talk to the North………

February 19, 2018 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

A South Korean province considers co-hosting the 2021 Asian Winter Games with North Korea

South Korea official floats idea of co-hosting Asian Games with North, SBS News 18 Feb 18 
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – A South Korean province is considering a proposal to co-host the 2021 Asian Winter Games with North Korea in a bid to strengthen inter-Korean ties, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency said on Saturday, quoting provincial governor Choi Moon-soon.

Gangwon province, host for the current 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, is considering the idea also as a way of making further use of Olympics venues, Choi was quoted as saying.

North Korea is participating in the Pyeongchang Games at the invitation of the South, which is using them to help ease tensions between the two countries, still technically at war.

The host city for the 2021 event has not been decided yet.

A spokesman for South Korea’s sports ministry said it “hopes to continue sports exchanges with North Korea after the Winter Games” but it had not yet discussed any bid for the 2021 Games……..

February 19, 2018 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Quiet diplomacy brought South and North Korean athletes together for the Winter Olympics

The Quiet Diplomacy to Save the Olympics in a Nuclear Standoff, NYT. 

February 10, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Top U.S. nuke envoy says Washington wants talks with N.K. for denuclearization  SEOUL, Feb. 2 (Yonhap) — The top U.S. nuclear envoy said Friday that Washington wants to open dialogue with North Korea for its denuclearization.

After meeting with South Korean Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung in Seoul, Joseph Yun also told reporters that he sees the resumed inter-Korean talks and easing tensions after the North’s decision to join the upcoming Winter Olympics as a “good opportunity” for denuclearization efforts.

“We want to open dialogue with North Korea, we want to have a credible dialogue, a dialogue that could lead steps towards denuclearization,” he said. “That is our goal and of course President Moon has also emphasized that goal too.”

February 3, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea, USA | Leave a comment

30 years ago, South Korea missed an opportunity for North Korea to have a role in the Olympics

Lessons of Seoul Games’ triumph over terror 30 years ago, NBC News, 28 Jan 18 by South Korea offering an olive branch. North Korea striking a defiant tone. And the world waiting to see if tensions rattling the Korean Peninsula could undermine an Olympic Games, with calamitous consequences.

That was the backdrop 30 years ago as South Korea prepared to host its first Olympics in the summer of 1988.

In some ways, the fears then are reverberating today — with potentially even more at stake because of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

But this year, as snow-capped PyeongChang — just 50 miles from the border with the North — prepares to host the Winter Olympics next month, foreign policy analysts say the lessons of the Seoul Games could show the region how to move closer to not only a trouble-free event, but a path to permanent peace.

The 1988 Games were “a major missed opportunity for South Korea,” said Sergey Radchenko, a global fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington who has studied North Korea’s role in the Olympics. “They missed the opportunity to engage with the North.”

So what’s different this time around?

High-level talks between the North and South this month led to an agreement to not only have their Olympic athletes march together for the first time since the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy, but to form their first unified Olympic team.

A dozen female ice hockey players from North Korea will join players from the South to compete under a blue-and-white unification flag……..

January 29, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

North and South Korea agree on Winter Olympics, but not on denuclearization

North Korea Wins Olympics Trip, But Discord Remains Over Nuclear Weapons, By David Tweed and Kanga Kong, Bloomberg, 

  • South Korea talks stumble over call for denuclearization
  • Both sides agree on North Korea participating in Olympics
………as the day wore on, and South Korea proposed talks on ending North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, the mood appeared to sour. Ri issued a “strong complaint” that Seoul dared to even raise the possibility of denuclearization at such an early stage. The subject is likely to arise again Wednesday when South Korean President Moon Jae-in holds a press briefing.
North Korea’s participation in the Winter Games starting Feb. 9 brings potential benefits to the troubled Korean peninsula, which has been divided for more than 70 years. Kim Jong Un gets the opportunity to ease the global pressure on his isolated regime, while Moon can bet on a more peaceful Olympics and claim a victory in his push for dialogue.

But the long-term dilemma remains: North Korea sees its nuclear weapons — and the ability to use them against the U.S. — as the only thing protecting against an American invasion. At the same time, U.S. President Donald Trump views Kim’s rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal as an intolerable threat, one that must be eradicated by war if necessary.

All of North Korea’s “high-end strategic weapons” are targeted at the U.S., Ri said at the conclusion of the talks Tuesday, according to South Korean media……..

January 11, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Improvement of inter-Korean relations

North and South Korean ties linked to resolving nuclear issue: Moon Jae-in, SBS News 2 Jan 18South Korean President Moon Jae-in says the improvement of inter-Korean relations is linked to resolving North Korea’s nuclear programme, a day after the North offered talks with Seoul but was steadfast on its nuclear ambitions.

“The improvement of relations between North and South Korea cannot go separately with resolving North Korea’s nuclear programme, so the foreign ministry should coordinate closely with allies and the international community regarding this,” Moon said in opening remarks at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Moon’s comments contrasted with those of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who said on Monday that Seoul should stop asking foreign countries for help in improving ties between the two Koreas.

“This shows the Moon administration is looking at the situation from a very realistic, rational point of view,” said Jeong Yeung-tae, head of the Institute of North Korea Studies in Seoul.

“It also shows resolving North Korea’s nuclear issue has a bigger priority (than improving inter-Korean relations).”RELATED

‘The nuclear button is always on my table’: North Korea leader Kim Jong-un’s warning

Moon’s comments came after a New Year’s Day speech by Kim who said he was “open to dialogue” with Seoul, and for North Korean athletes to possibly take part in the Winter Games, but steadfastly declared North Korea a nuclear power.

he South Korean president requested the ministries of unification and sports to swiftly create measures to help North Korea participate in the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

As for talks between the two Koreas, Defence Ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo says Seoul is awaiting a more detailed reply from Pyongyang to already-existing offers for dialogue made back in July last year by Seoul…..

January 3, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

South Korea’s recent earthquake has raised doubts about the continuing construction of two nuclear power stations

Politicians and decision-makers in South Korea are torn about a plan to
continue construction of two nuclear power plants, following a major
earthquake. The magnitude 5.4 earthquake in early November reignited public
concern about whether the country can still be considered a seismic safe
zone. Now a 500-strong panel of experts is due to report.

December 30, 2017 Posted by | safety, South Korea | Leave a comment

Busting the blizzard of nuclear disinformation from Michael Shellenberger and ‘Environmental Progress’

Exposing the misinformation of Michael Shellenberger and ‘Environmental Progress’Nuclear Monitor Issue: #853 4689 30/10/2017, Jim Green ‒ Nuclear Monitor editor, and national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia

Michael Shellenberger’s pro-nuclear lobby group ‘Environmental Progress’ (EP) is celebrating the decision to proceed with two partially-built reactors in South Korea. A citizens jury appointed by the government voted almost 60% in favor of completing the reactors. President Moon Jae-in said the government would allow construction of the reactors to proceed but “we will completely stop all plans for the construction of new nuclear reactors.”1

It’s doubtful that Shellenberger’s California-based organization could have significantly swayed the citizens jury in South Korea, but EP was very active in the debate and presumably had some effect in shifting opinions. Here is a summary of the work EP carried out in South Korea this year:2

  • EP published a 62-page pro-nuclear report ‒ ‘The High Cost of Fear: Understanding the Costs and Causes of South Korea’s Proposed Nuclear Energy Phase-Out’.3
  • Shellenberger visited South Korea four times between April and October 2017, giving speeches, holding press conferences on collaborating with nuclear advocates. He claims that dozens of media outlets reported on EP’s visits, that a press conference in Seoul was “packed”4, and that he enjoyed “a crush of media attention”.5
  • EP sent a sign-on letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in in July 2017 and another in August 2017.
  • In October, EP wrote to the citizens jury tasked with deciding the fate of the two partially-built reactors (Shin Kori 5 and 6).6
  • EP produced a video promoting nuclear power in South Korea.
  • Shellenberger has been talking and writing about his bizarre plan to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula by supporting the development of nuclear power in North Korea.
  • And, according to Shellenberger, EP countered the “lies” of Friends of the Earth (FOE) and Greenpeace in “two investigative pieces and three separate open letters to President Moon and the citizens jury that were signed by climate scientists and environmentalists from around the world.”6

EP’s campaign has involved a blizzard of misinformation and relentless, dishonest attacks against environment groups, particularly Friends of the Earth (FOE) and Greenpeace. Shellenberger claims4 that the “greatest coup” of the two groups was the “Hollywood-style anti-nuclear disaster movie” called Pandora7 which was released last year and has been watched by millions, mostly on Netflix. But FOE and Greenpeace had nothing to do with the production of the Pandora film!……..

The funding of the Pandora film isn’t an important issue but it neatly illustrates Shellenberger’s M.O. of relentless repetition of falsehoods in the hope that some mud sticks…..

Shellenberger himself featured in the dishonest and wildly inaccurate ‘Pandora’s Promise’ film a few years ago………

Nuclear power and weapons proliferation

Shellenberger states: “One of FOE-Greenpeace’s biggest lies about nuclear energy is that it leads to weapons. Korea demonstrates that the opposite is true: North Korea has a nuclear bomb and no nuclear energy, while South Korea has nuclear energy and no bomb.”4

In fact, the connections between nuclear power (and associated industries such as enrichment and reprocessing) and weapons proliferation are well understood and there are countless real-world examples demonstrating the risks.26

Prominent nuclear lobbyists are now openly talking about the connections between nuclear power (and related industries) and weapons production in order to boost the case for further subsidies to support the ‘civil’ nuclear industry, particularly in the US.27 It seems Shellenberger didn’t get the memo.

As for Shellenberger’s claims about proliferation on the Korean peninsula, he ignores the fact that North Korea uses what is calls an ‘experimental power reactor’ (based on the UK Magnox power reactor design) to produce plutonium for weapons.28 He ignores the fact that North Korea acquired enrichment technology from Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan network, who stole the blueprints from URENCO, the consortium that provides enrichment services for the nuclear power industry.28 He ignores the fact that North Korea’s reprocessing plant is based on the design of the Eurochemic plant in Belgium, which provided reprocessing services for the nuclear power industry.28

And Shellenberger ignores South Korea’s history of covertly pursuing nuclear weapons, a history entwined with the country’s development of nuclear power. For example, the nuclear power program provided a rationale for South Korea’s pursuit of dual-use reprocessing technology……..

December 29, 2017 Posted by | South Korea, spinbuster | Leave a comment

South Korea says that North Korea is in ‘final stages of nuclear weaponisation’

North Korea is in ‘final stages of nuclear weaponisation’, says South Korea, The Independent 16 Dec 2017, South Korea’s vice foreign minister issued an urgent plea about the threat from Pyongyang, warning the United Nations Security Council that North Korea was “in the final stages of nuclear weaponization”.

“It will fundamentally alter the security landscape in the region and beyond” if the North is able to equip a missile with a nuclear warhead, Cho Hyun warned.
In the past few months, North Korea has rattled the world with a series of weapons tests. It detonated a hydrogen bomb and has launched multiple ballistic missiles, saying after the latest firing that it now has the capability to attack the US mainland and had devised a missile capable of carrying “super-large heavy nuclear warhead”.

The late-November launch soared higher than any previous test, US Secretary of Defence James Mattis said, and illustrated North Korea’s determination to build missiles that can “threaten everywhere in the world”.

Continuing to defy international warnings, a top North Korean official said escalating pressure from the global community shows America is “terrified” by North Korea‘s nuclear capabilities.

The nation’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ja Song Nam, called a meeting of the UN Security Council a “desperate measure plotted by the US” in response to North Korea’s displays of military might.

The Trump administration has sent mixed signals this week about its approach to North Korea’s belligerence………

December 18, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment