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Third summit this year between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un

Third summit this year between Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un stands in contrast to rift with Washington, South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, will travel to North Korea for a third meeting with the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, as denuclearisation talks with the US stall.Moon would travel to Pyongyang between 18 and 20 September, said Chung Eui-yong, head of the South’s National Security Office, as he returned from a one-day meeting with Kim in North Korea. It will be the third time this year the leaders of the two Koreas have met, after talks in the border village of Panmunjom in April and May.

“Chairman Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his firm commitment to complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula, and expressed his willingness to closely cooperate with not only South Korea but also the United States to that end,” Chung said according to the South’s Yonhap news agency.

The third meeting comes with talks between the US and North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme having made little progress since a summit between Donald Trump and Kim in June. Trump cancelled a trip by his top diplomat last month. While North Korea has repeatedly agreed to working towards the “complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula”, experts warn the language is vague and fails to address key US demands that the North give up its nuclear weapon unilaterally and allow weapons inspectors into the country…………

South Korea’s diplomatic overtures have also highlighted a growing rift between Seoul and Washington, with US officials frustrated by the pace of nuclear negotiations and South Korean authorities focused on improving ties with their unpredictable neighbour.

North Korean state media echoed many of the same statements conveyed by officials in Seoul, with language that emphasised denuclearisation as a shared responsibility, not one for Pyongyang alone.

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency said: “Noting that it is our fixed stand and his will to completely remove the danger of armed conflict and horror of war from the Korean Peninsula and turn it into the cradle of peace without nuclear weapons and free from nuclear threat, he said that the North and the South should further their efforts to realise the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.”

North and South Korea will also open a long-planned liaison office in the North Korean city of Kaesong before Moon and Kim meet, according to Chung. Officials from the two countries will hold talks early next week to finalise details for Moon’s trip.    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/sep/06/north-korea-kim-moon-meeting-trump-nuclear

September 6, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | 1 Comment

South Korea’s nuclear corporation in desperate effort to save Moorside nuclear plant project 

Kepco in last-ditch attempt to save Moorside nuclear plant project https://www.ft.com/content/50389e18-a6df-11e8-926a-7342fe5e173fSouth Korean utility group looks at potential lenders to finance construction Sylvia Pfeifer in London, Song Jung-a in Seoul and Leo Lewis in Tokyo, 28 Aug 18

Korea Electric Power Corp is meeting lenders to finance the construction of a new nuclear power plant in west Cumbria, as it makes a last-ditch attempt to save the project. Kepco said it was “exchanging opinion with potential lenders” but noted that the Korean government, which owns a majority stake in the company, had said it was “too early” to enter financing negotiations. The South Korean group was named last December as the preferred bidder for Toshiba’s NuGen unit, which was to build the plant at Moorside. But the deal ran into problems after the UK announced in June that it was considering how the funding for new nuclear power plants should be structured. One model under review is for private investors to secure a return on a nuclear plant’s so-called regulated asset base (RAB). The following month, Toshiba said it was exploring alternative options for the business and had terminated Kepco’s preferred bidder status.

Toshiba has set a deadline to secure a deal by the end of September, according to people close to the negotiations. The company declined to comment. The persistent delays have prompted NuGen to review its operations. It started a 30-day consultation period at the start of August raising the prospect of about 100 job losses. Toshiba is believed to have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on developing the site so far. It was forced to pay close to $139m to buy a 40 per cent stake held by France’s Engie last year. The failure of the Moorside plant would deal a blow to the UK government’s plans to encourage the construction of new reactors to replace its ageing fleet.

A government spokesperson in Seoul confirmed the company had launched a joint study to ascertain whether the RAB model was “workable”. The Korean government is understood to remain keen to progress with the investment because it would give it a foothold in one of the few western nations backing the construction of new reactors. But it has said the investment must pass a “national audit” test before it can proceed.

Kepco wants to deploy two of its APR-1400 reactors at Moorside to generate a combined electricity of about 3GW — close to 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity needs. Kepco said it was “too early” to say whether it would be able to meet the criteria for the audit. A spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said the government had “repeatedly engaged with Kepco and the government of the Republic of Korea both in Korea and the UK in support of ongoing Moorside negotiations”. “Ultimately, this remains a commercial matter between Toshiba and Kepco,” he added.

August 29, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, South Korea, UK | Leave a comment

War fear panic is good for bunker salesmen in South Korea

In South Korea’s war panic economy, sales thrive on nuclear angst, USA Today Patrick Winn, Global  Aug. 23, 2018 Seoul is renowned for its stoicism in the face of potential war. At least that’s what we’re often told, that the majority of people in this city of 25 million can wake up to North Korean threats about immolation in a nuclear “sea of fire,” shrug and just go to work.

Even when Pyongyang was detonating nukes last fall  —  and President Donald Trump spoke of bringing “fire and fury” to their peninsula  —  polls suggested that roughly six in 10 South Koreans believed there was “no possibility” of war. (Even Americans living an entire ocean away appear more panicky over North Korean nukes than that.)

But what about those in South Korea who can’t shake an impending sense of doom? For that anxious minority, there is a marketplace offering to aid in their survival should North Korea ever unsheathe its self-proclaimed “nuclear sword of justice.”

Call it the war panic economy: a small industry selling all the stuff you might want on doomsday. Think gas masks, hazmat suits and emergency rations. Or, for the upper classes, your own personal bunker………..

 priciest bunker runs about $37,000. That buys a roughly 600-square-foot sanctum, complete with four beds, a sink trickling out purified water, an electrical system powered by a hand crank and an air purification system that can filter out radiation.

Imagine a small studio apartment with rounded steel walls, as in a submarine, with an entrance hatch that’s heavy as a bank-vault door. To make the bunker fully nuke-proof, he says, it must be buried underground and encased in cement.

“My clientele tend to be people in their 60s or older who might have memories of the war,” he says. “Often they want to provide bunkers to their sons or daughters.”

Those old enough to recall the aftermath of the Korean War can be forgiven for shivering at any mention of a redux. Between 1950 to 1953, parts on the peninsula were turned to veritable seas of fire, largely thanks to more than half a million American bombs.

As Curtis LeMay, the U.S. Air Force general overseeing the aerial campaign, put it:

“Over a period of three years, we killed off — what? — 20 percent of the population of Korea as direct casualties of war or from starvation and exposure.”

That these horrors exist within living memory might explain why some elderly Koreans feel especially jumpy over Pyongyang’s bombast — or aggressive tweets sent from the White House. Go has noticed that calls have spiked when either side makes threats.

But there is a flip side to this war panic economy. When fear runs hot, it thrives. But when peaceful vibes pervade, it practically collapses……..

Lee sells hundreds of items, all of which might prove handy in a world turned anarchic by nuclear or chemical attacks. Among his inventory: flare guns, attack batons, radiation detectors, four types of gas masks and, for the discriminating survivalist, emergency rations that taste like French Basque-style chicken stew. ………https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/08/23/south-koreans-prepare-north-korean-nuclear-attack/1074765002/

August 25, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Korean government steadfast in its goal of phasing out nuclear power

S. Korean gov’t committed to nuclear phase-out policy goal, 2018/08/18   SEOUL, Aug. 18 (Yonhap) — The South Korean government is firmly committed to reducing the country’s dependence on nuclear power and will expand the use of renewable power sources…..

President Moon Jae-in is currently seeking to scrap the building of new reactors and phase out those already in operation.

During a meeting with ruling and opposition parties on Thursday, Moon was quoted by the Democratic Party as saying that the government is carrying out the phase-out drive “step by step,” expressing confidence that the present energy policy will not weigh down the national economy.

……. Seoul has emphasized that the course to denuclearize can lead to new business opportunities as there can be a lucrative market for safety dismantling nuclear reactors. It, moreover, said that the government will continue to support efforts by South Korean companies to win nuclear plant construction orders abroad.

August 20, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Korea | Leave a comment

A new Summit between South and North Korea

Koreas prepare for summit as North asks US to ease sanctions, https://apnews.com/89398fce8c9a42fc9e3fc1f3fde1dd5e/Koreas-prepare-for-summit-as-North-asks-US-to-ease-sanction,By YOUKYUNG LEE  Aug. 10, 2018  SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The rival Koreas plan to hold high-level talks on Monday to prepare for a third summit between their leaders, as Pyongyang called on the United States to reciprocate its “goodwill measures” by easing sanctions and stopping demands that the North denuclearize first.

The plans by the Korean leaders to meet come as Washington and Pyongyang try to follow through on nuclear disarmament vows made at a U.S.-North Korea summit in June between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In the most recent sign of growing frustration between Washington and Pyongyang, North Korea criticized senior American officials for insisting that North Korea give up its nuclear weapons first before easing sanctions. Notably, the statement didn’t directly criticize Trump.

North Korea said in a statement Thursday that “some high-level officials within the U.S. administration” were making “desperate attempts at intensifying the international sanctions and pressure.”

“We hoped that these goodwill measures would contribute to breaking down the high barrier of mistrust” between Pyongyang and Washington, the North’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said. “However, the U.S. responded to our expectation by inciting international sanctions and pressure.”

Those American officials are “going against the intention of President Trump to advance the DPRK-U.S. relations, who is expressing gratitude to our goodwill measures for implementing the DPRK-U.S. joint statement,” it said referring to the North by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Washington has said that sanctions will not be lifted until Pyongyang fully and finally dismantles its nuclear weapons. Some experts say that North Korea does not want to denuclearize first or maybe denuclearize at all because it wants a long, drawn-out process that sees external aid shipped in in return for abandoning nuclear weapons.

Pyongyang has also stepped up its calls for a formal end to the Korean War, which some analysts believe is meant to be the first step in the North’s effort to eventually see all 28,500 U.S. troops leave the Korean Peninsula.

A South Korean official at the Unification Ministry, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of office rules, said the two Koreas will also discuss on Monday ways to push through tension-reducing agreements made during an earlier summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Among the agreements was holding another inter-Korean summit in the fall in Pyongyang.

The rival Koreas may try to seek a breakthrough amid what experts see as little progress on nuclear disarmaments between Pyongyang and Washington despite the Singapore summit in June and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s several visits to North Korea.

Pyongyang insisted that the U.S. should reciprocate to the North’s suspension of missile launches and nuclear tests and other goodwill gestures such as the return of remains of American troops killed in the Korean War. The United States cancelled a joint war exercise with South Korea that was due to take place this month while dismissing calls to ease sanctions until the North delivers on its commitments to fully denuclearize.

The inter-Korean meeting on Monday will be held at Tongilgak, a North Korean-controlled building in the border village of Panmunjom. South Korea’s unification minister will lead the delegation from Seoul but North Korea, which proposed the Monday meeting first, did not confirm the makeup of its delegation.

It wasn’t clear when another inter-Korean summit might happen, but if the April 27 summit agreements between Moon and Kim are followed through on, the leaders will likely meet in Pyongyang in the next couple of months.

In the meantime, both Koreas are seeking an end of the Korean War. South Korea’s presidential spokesman said last month that Seoul wants a declaration of the end of the 1950-53 war sooner than later. The Korean Peninsula is still technically in a state of war because the fighting ended with a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.

Earlier Thursday, North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary that ending the Korean War is “the first process for ensuring peace and security not only in the Korean peninsula but also in the region and the world.”

Kim and Moon met in April at a highly publicized summit that saw the leaders hold hands and walk together across the border, and then again in a more informal summit in May, just weeks before Kim met Trump in Singapore.

August 13, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

£10bn Moorside nuclear power plant plunged into further doubt

Moorside nuclear bidder stripped of preferred status, Construction News, 3 AUGUST, 2018BY BINYAMIN ALI 

The £10bn Moorside nuclear power plant has been plunged into further doubt after Korean energy firm Kepco lost its preferred bidder status to develop the scheme.

The plant’s current developer Toshiba is now looking at alternative options for the future of the site after negotiations with Kepco failed to reach a conclusion.

Kepco looked to have saved the embattled project when it swooped in December last year and was named preferred bidder ahead of China’s CGN.

Toshiba said this week that a sale to Kepco was still on the table and it was in “consultation with stakeholders including the UK government” to find a solution.

The protracted negotiations have also forced NuGen, Toshiba’s Moorside development body, to restructure its business………

the National Infrastructure Commission last month called on government to withhold financial support for all but one of the planned new nuclear projects until at least 2025.

The commission said the government should focus on investing in renewable energy projects instead, some of which are now being built with no government subsidies. https://www.constructionnews.co.uk/markets/sectors/nuclear/moorside-nuclear-bidder-stripped-of-preferred-status/10033902.article

August 4, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics, South Korea, UK | Leave a comment

In the race to sell off nuclear power to Saudi Arabia, South Korea looks like the winner

South Korea’s KEPCO shortlisted to bid for Saudi nuclear project https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-southkorea-nuclear-saudi/south-koreas-kepco-shortlisted-to-bid-for-saudi-nuclear-project-idUKKBN1JR1G4, Reuters Staff, 1 July 18   SEOUL  – State-run utility Korea Electric Power Corp (015760.KS) (KEPCO) had been shortlisted to bid for a nuclear project in Saudi Arabia along with the United States, France, China and Russia, South Korea’s energy ministry said on Sunday.

“We were informed by our Saudi counterpart, King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, that KEPCO was shortlisted for a nuclear project in Saudi Arabia,” the ministry said in a statement.

The statement said the winner of the tender was expected to be chosen in 2019. Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil producer, plans to build two nuclear plants to diversify its energy supply and has been in talks with companies from South Korea, the United States, Russia and China for the tender.

In May, Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih met South Korean Energy Minister Paik Un-gyu in Seoul. Falih told reporters on the sidelines of an industry event that he was “optimistic” about South Korea being on the tender shortlist.

South Korea, the world’s fifth-biggest nuclear power user, is seeking to export its nuclear reactors abroad.

In 2009, a South Korean consortium led by KEPCO won an $18.6 billion (14.08 billion pounds) deal to construct four nuclear plants in the United Arab Emirates, the country’s ever nuclear export success.

KEPCO was also selected as a preferred bidder in December last year for Toshiba’s NuGen nuclear project in Britain and the Korean company planned to talk with Toshiba to buy a stake in the project.

Reporting By Jane Chung and Cynthia Kim. Editing by Jane Merriman

July 2, 2018 Posted by | marketing, Saudi Arabia, South Korea | Leave a comment

South Korean nuclear reactor to be shut down early. Plans for new reactors cancelled

Korea Times 15th June 2018 , The Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) said Friday its board has decided to shut down the Wolsong-1 nuclear reactor in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province, before the end of its lifespan and scrap all plans for building
four new reactors across the country.

“According to the government’s energy policy shift, we have reviewed operational plans of Wolsong reactors several times and concluded keeping the Wolsong-1 operating under strengthened safety regulations would not be economical,” KHNP CEO Chung
Jae-hoon said in a press conference in Seoul.

“Also, the plans for building new reactors of Cheonji-1,2 and Daejin-1,2 would be terminated in order to eradicate uncertainties in the KHNP’s management and restore smooth relations with local residents.”
https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/tech/2018/06/325_250740.html

June 18, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Korea | Leave a comment

After closing test site, North Korea could later still resume nuclear bomb tests

 Why Closing Kim’s Test Site Won’t Hinder His Nuclear Plans, Bloomberg By David Tweed and Kanga Kong May 15, 2018, 

A decade ago, the last time North Korea took talks with the U.S. so far, then-leader Kim Jong Il blew up a cooling tower at the Yongbyon nuclear plant as part of a deal to limit its weapons program. Within months, he was reassembling the reactor — a key source of weapons-grade plutonium. That’s one reason why arms-control experts are watching with caution as his son, Kim Jong Un, now moves to publicly dismantle the remote subterranean testing site used by the regime to detonate six nuclear bombs.

…….Does North Korea need more tests?

Possibly not. Both India and Pakistan established themselves as nuclear powers after a similar number of tests — and neither has detonated a bomb since 1998. In his April 20 statement announcing the Punggye-ri closing, Kim said the country’s efforts to build a warhead small enough to fit on a ballistic missile had progressed to the point where tests were no longer necessary. Still, it’s unclear whether North Korea has figured out how to prevent a warhead from burning up during re-entry from space.

Would the site’s closing be permanent?

No. A 38 North analysis of satellite images taken May 7 showed that several support buildings outside the northern, western and southern portals had been razed while some mining cart rails had been removed. Such facilities can be replaced as easily as the Yongbyon cooling tower. Lewis, of the Middlebury Institute, argues that the tunnel’s horizontal layout would also make it relatively easy to “pop” open the sealed entrances and regain access after their closing.

 

What about building a new tunnel?

A new test site could be constructed in three to six months, depending on how much labor was thrown at the job, according to Suh Kune Y., a nuclear engineering professor at Seoul National University. Future detonations — most likely to test warhead miniaturization — might only require a simple straight tunnel with one right angle at the end, he said.

What about other sites?

North Korea, which is believed to manage a vast subterranean network in part to frustrate U.S. and South Korean spies and military planners, probably has other locations that could house tests. Suh pointed out that North Korea refers to the Punggye-ri facility as its “northern test site,” possibly implying there are others. And, of course, tests don’t need to be underground. In September, North Korea Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho suggested that his country could detonate a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-15/closing-kim-s-test-site-won-t-hinder-his-nuke-plans-quicktake

May 16, 2018 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

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

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

Researchers from 30 countries call for boycott of South Korean university, in campaign against lethal autonomous weapons

We are locked into an arms race that no one wants to happen, global researchers warn
A CHILLING letter claims the world is on the cusp of opening a dangerous Pandora’s box — and there is no going back.  http://www.news.com.au/technology/innovation/we-are-locked-into-an-arms-race-that-no-one-wants-to-happen-global-researchers-warn/news-story/fc6dfa060c66ed876beb79d1b7530cc6  Nick Whigham@NWWHIGHAM  5 Apr 18 

The boycott comes in advance of a meeting next Monday in Geneva, Switzerland, of 123 member nations of the United Nations discussing the challenges posed by lethal autonomous weapons. Twenty-two of those nations have already called for an outright and pre-emptive ban on such weapons.

The open letter announcing the boycott against the South Korean university said autonomous weapons are the “third revolution in warfare” and warned about letting the genie out of the bottle.

“At a time when the United Nations is discussing how to contain the threat posed to international security by autonomous weapons, it is regrettable that a prestigious institution like KAIST looks to accelerate the arms race to develop such weapons,” the letter said.

“We therefore publicly declare that we will boycott all collaborations with any part of KAIST until such time as the President of KAIST provides assurances, which we have sought but not received, that the Center will not develop autonomous weapons lacking meaningful human control,” the researchers said.

“If developed, autonomous weapons will be the third revolution in warfare. They will permit war to be fought faster and at a scale greater than ever before. They have the potential to be weapons of terror. Despots and terrorists could use them against innocent populations, removing any ethical restraints. This Pandora’s box will be hard to close if it is opened.”

Professor Walsh organised the boycott which involves researchers from 30 countries and includes three of the world’s top deep learning experts, Professor Stuart Russell from the University of California, Berkeley, who authored the leading textbook on AI and roboticist Prof Wolfram Burgard, winner of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, the most prestigious research prize in Germany.

“Back in 2015, we warned of an arms race in autonomous weapons,” Professor Walsh said in a statement alongside the letter. “We can see prototypes of autonomous weapons under development today by many nations including the US, China, Russia and the UK. We are locked into an arms race that no one wants to happen.

“KAIST’s actions will only accelerate this arms race. We cannot tolerate this.”

Professor Walsh has long campaigned against the development of autonomous weapons.

He has previously travelled to speak in front of the United Nations in an effort to have the international body prevent the proliferation of so-called killer robots with the ability to think for themselves.

Speaking to news.com.au last year he said “the arms race is already starting.”

He believes it’s no longer a question of whether military weapons are imbued with some level of autonomy, it’s just a matter of how much autonomy — which poses a number of worrying scenarios, particularly if they fall into the wrong hands.

“They get in the hands of the wrong people and they can be turned against us. They can be used by terrorist organisations,” he warned.

“It would be a terrifying future if we allow ourselves to go down this road.

April 6, 2018 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear colonialism: nuclear nations keen to sell uneconomic nuclear power – e.g South Korea to United Arab Emirates

Arab world’s first nuclear reactor completed in UAE, in cooperation with South Korea, Arab Weekly    1 April 18 LONDON – Construction of the Arab world’s first commercial nuclear reactor has been completed in the United Arab Emirates. The plant is part of the country’s long-term strategy to decrease its reliance on fossil fuels.

The Barakah nuclear power plant, in western Abu Dhabi, is a joint project between the UAE’s Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and South Korea’s Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO).

UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan toured the $20 billion facility with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and announced on March 26 the completion of the construction“This is a historic moment in our nation’s development as we celebrate the construction completion of Unit 1 of the Barakah nuclear energy plant,” Sheikh Mohammed said……

Emirati officials said Barakah was the world’s largest single nuclear project. ……https://thearabweekly.com/arab-worlds-first-nuclear-reactor-completed-uae-cooperation-south-korea

 

April 2, 2018 Posted by | marketing, South Korea, United Arab Emirates | Leave a comment

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. News.com.au   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…………http://www.news.com.au/finance/work/leaders/kim-jong-un-promises-not-to-use-nuclear-weapons-against-seoul-after-highlevel-talks/news-story/f57c3d72b90d8aea56df8eb944399070

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.

………https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/04/seoul-sends-envoy-north-korea-hope-opening-nuclear-talks/

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. ……https://www.voanews.com/a/south-korea-urges-us-support-for-north-korea-nuclear-talks/4272234.html

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