north korea

North Korea facing biggest challenge in history over Covid-19

Pyongyang [North Korea]: North Korea is facing the biggest challenge since the foundation of the republic over the spread of COVID-19, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said, as quoted by the state-run KCNA news agency.

According to KCNA, Kim said that the country must focus on implementing the anti-coronavirus measures and boost them to stop the spread of the disease, Sputnik News Agency reported on Saturday.
The country has reported 17,400 new COVID-19 cases, taking the total number of infections to 520,000, according to the KCNA news agency.

Notably, 21 new fatalities were also reported due to the coronavirus cases, according to Sputnik News Agency.

North Korea reported the first coronavirus deaths on Friday. At least six persons were confirmed dead yesterday in the country.

Kim Jong Un has accepted that country is facing a crisis because of Covid

On Thursday, the country announced a “major national emergency” after reporting its first case of COVID-19 Omicron variant and put in place a “maximum emergency” virus control system with leader Kim Jong Un vowing to “eliminate” the virus.

According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), top officials, including the country’s leader Kim Jong Un, held a crisis politburo meeting to discuss the outbreak and announced they would implement a “maximum emergency” virus control system.

With this North Korea’s coronavirus-free claim has come to an end, reported the Yonhap News Agency.

Reportedly in a meeting conducted to discuss North Korea’s “most critical emergency” antivirus system that had been “firmly maintained” for more than two years, Kim pledged that the “unexpected crisis” shall be overcome. He further instructed all the officials to block every possibility to stop the spread of the virus.

Further, the North Korean leader ordered stricter vigilance along the borders on all fronts, the air, and sea to prevent a “safety vacuum” in the national defence of the country, reported the Yonhap News Agency. In addition, North Korean authorities stated that samples that were collected from patients suffering from fever indicated that they were identical to the omicron variant.

However, North Korea asserted that it has aimed to manage and also prevent the spread of the virus. It has further mentioned that it will provide treatment to the omicron-detected patients to “root out the source of transmission in the shortest period possible” the country’s state media reported. (ANI)

 

US proposing new UN sanctions against North Korea for recent missile launches: Envoy to UN

Washington [US] (ANI/Sputnik): The US proposes to the United Nations to impose new sanctions on North Korea for six missile launches conducted by Pyongyang since September 21, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.
“On top of today’s designations by @StateDept and @USTreasury, the US is proposing @UN sanctions following North Korea’s six ballistic missile launches since September 2021, each of which were in violation of UN Security Council resolutions,” the diplomat wrote on her Twitter page on late Wednesday. Later, a US diplomat told RIA Novosti that the US wanted five persons to be included in the list of the UN sanctions.
“The US nominated five individuals for UN sanctions who were designated by Treasury earlier today. We continue to coordinate with partners to prepare the additional three individuals and entities designated by State for UN nomination,” the diplomat said.
Since the beginning of 2022, North Korea has already conducted two missile tests: on January 5 and January 11. (Image source: Unsplash)

North Korea will not take part in Beijing Winter Olympics, says Report

Pyongyang [North Korea]: North Korea will not take part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics over the activities of “hostile forces” and the COVID-19 pandemic, Russian news agency reported citing North Korean media on Friday.
“We could not take part in the Olympics due to the hostile forces’ moves and the worldwide pandemic, but we would fully support the Chinese comrades in all their work to hold splendid and wonderful Olympic festival,” Sputnik reported citing KCNA news agency. The KCNA has cited a letter from the North Korean Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports to the Chinese Olympic Committee.
The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing will be held from February 4-20. The massive security deployment and checks are being carried out by China soon before the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Meanwhile, in an effort to conduct Winter Olympics next month hassle-free, China is adamant about implementing a Zero-COVID policy, further complicating problems for its citizens.
China had welcomed the year 2022 with the worst tally of COVID-19 cases for any seven-day period since subduing the country’s first epidemic nearly two years ago.
The worst situation is said to be found in Xi’an town and since December, it is in the grip of a COVID-19 wave, according to Hong Kong Post.
For over two weeks now, Xi’an’s 13 million residents are confined to their homes.
Only one person per household is allowed to leave home every two days to buy essential goods. Nobody can leave the city whatever the circumstances. The process of seeking permission is cumbersome, according to Hong Kong Post. (ANI)
The US, the UK, Australia, Canada and Lithuania have announced the diplomatic boycott of games.

China continues increasing investments in Liaoning Province bordering N Korea

Beijing [China]: China has increased its investment near its borders with North Korea by investing in the Liaoning Province.
China’s Liaoning Province will spend more than half a million dollars on a bridge into North Korea over the coming months to install “anti-terror monitoring points,” overhaul electrical systems and conduct daily maintenance, government documents show, despite the bridge going unused for years, according to NK news, ab independent, privately owned specialist information sources that focus on North Korea. Further, the new investments in the New Yalu River Bridge, which connects China’s Dandong to the North Korean city of Sinuij is aimed to improve border security, according to the Chinese announcement.
“I think the Chinese government has been very consistent about their willingness to invest in connectivity with North Korea,” Go Myong-hyun of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.
“It could be part of China’s long-term policy to keep investing in connectivity with North Korea, essentially preparing for the day when North Korea finally decides to reopen the border or increase the level of trade with China,” he added.
Meanwhile, China passed border security legislation aimed at further securing the country’s far-flung borders.
Further, China plans to replace a majority of the bridge’s electrical systems, apply 334,000 square feet (31,000 square meters) of protective asphalt coatings and contract two years’ worth of inspection and maintenance work, according to North Korea News.
Earlier, the New Yalu River Bridge was completed in 2013 at a cost of some $350 million and is supposed to be a major highway between North Korea and China. But it has gone virtually unused since completion, and as late as 2019 it ended abruptly in an empty field outside Sinuiju.
If opened, the New Yalu River Bridge would likely boost overall trade between China and North Korea.

South Korea urges North to accept proposal for Pope’s visit to country

Seoul [South Korea] : The South Korean government called on North Korea to accept the suggestion that Pope Francis visit the country, saying it will strengthen peace in the region, the media reported on Monday.
On Friday, the Pope met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. According to local observers, the main issues discussed at the meeting included the problem of reducing tension on the Korean peninsula and a possible visit of the pontiff to North Korea. “As the pope’s willingness to visit North Korea has been reaffirmed, we hope the North would respond and pave the way for fostering peace on the Korean Peninsula,” the spokesperson for South Korean Ministry of Unification, Lee Jong-joo, said as quoted by Yonhap news agency.
During his previous visit to the Vatican in October 2018, Moon Jae-in extended to Pope Francis the verbal invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to visit Pyongyang. Holy See Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, then reiterated the Pope’s readiness to pay a visit to North Korea, but the trip never took place due to the impasse in nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang, the agency said.
Shortly before Moon Jae-in’s current visit to the Vatican, Yonhap quoted a representative of the Ministry of South Korean Ministry of Unification as saying that Pope Francis’s visit to North Korea could make “a significant contribution to building peace on the Korean peninsula.” According to the representative, Seoul undertook to make further efforts to facilitate the implementation of such a visit.

US ready for dialogue with North Korea without preconditions: Special Envoy

US Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim has held talks with South Korean Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Noh Kyu-duk in Seoul, expressing readiness for dialogue with Pyongyang without preconditions.

Tokyo [Japan] : “I look forward to continuing to work with special representative Noh to explore different ideas and initiatives, including the ROK’s [South Korea’s] end-of-war proposal as we continue to pursue our shared objectives on the peninsula,” Kim said on Sunday, as quoted by the South Korean Yonhap news agency. The special representative told reporters that Washington was ready to help address North Korea’s humanitarian concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We remain ready to meet with the DPRK [North Korea] without preconditions, and we have made clear that the United States harbours no hostile intent towards the DPRK,” Kim said, adding that Washington hopes Pyongyang “will respond positively to our outreach.”
Kim stressed that North Korea’s missile tests are counterproductive and called on Pyongyang to stop “destabilizing” activities and return to the negotiating table.
In his turn, South Korean representative Noh said that Seoul and Washington are ready to discuss any issues if North Korea accepts their talk offer.
At the start of October, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that Washington was ready to meet with officials from North Korea without preconditions.
On Wednesday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield reiterated that the US was open to dialogue with Pyongyang without any conditions and held no hostile intent toward North Korea. Thomas-Greenfield called on North Korea to refrain from further provocations following Pyongyang’s recent launch of a ballistic missile from a submarine.
On Friday, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in North Korea Tomas Ojea Quintana said that sanctions against North Korea should be reviewed and, when necessary, eased, given the humanitarian effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation.

US escalating tensions by inciting Taiwan independence: North Korean foreign ministry

Pyongyang [North Korea]: North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Pak Myong Ho has accused the United States of escalating the situation in the Asia-Pacific Region by inciting the independence of Taiwan.
On Thursday, US President Joe Biden said in a CNN town hall meeting that the United States would come to Taiwan’s defense if it came under attack by China. “Recently, the US is building up military tension by inciting independence of Taiwan, which is an inseparable territory of China. This year alone, the US dispatched all kinds of battleships into the Taiwan Straits on the plea of ‘freedom of navigation’ whenever the occasion called. Some time ago, it even mobilized a battleship of its ally only to escalate tension in the Taiwan Straits,” Pak said, as quoted by the KCNA news agency.
China recently sent close to 150 military aircraft, including fighter jets and bombers, near Taiwan as the United States and allies conducted military drills near the South China Sea.
The Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s identification zone in two droves during the day and at night, prompting Taiwan to scramble patrol planes to ward them off.
China sees Taiwan as its breakaway province. The island has been governed independently from mainland China since 1949 when an opposition nationalist party retreated there during a civil war and set up a government.

North Korea admits it launched new type of ballistic missile

Pyongyang [North Korea]: North Korea on Wednesday acknowledged that the country has test-fired a new type of submarine-launched ballistic missile
The new missile has “lots of advanced control guidance technologies including flank mobility and gliding skip mobility,” Kyodo News reported citing the Academy of Defence Science. This came a day after one of the ballistic missiles launched by North Korea has presumably landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi informed.
Meanwhile, the US has condemned North Korea’s latest test of a ballistic missile and believes the situation underscores the need for more diplomacy, White House spokesperson Jen Psaki was quoted as saying by Sputnik.
Meanwhile, the US is also consulting with allies in the region about the issue, Psaki said.
Earlier on Tuesday, US Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim met with Japanese and South Korean counterparts on how to engage North Korea moving forward, she added.

South Korea estimates range of North’s missile at 366 miles: Reports

Seoul [South Korea]: The South Korean military has increased its estimate of the range of the missile tested by North Korea to 590 kilometers (366 miles) from the initial 430-450 kilometers, the Yonhap news agency reported, citing a source.

South Korea and Japan reported detecting the launch of an unidentified projectile from North toward the Sea of Japan overnight Tuesday. The South Korean military identified the projectile as a short-range ballistic missile, possibly launched from a submarine.
The North Korean missile flew at the highest altitude of 60 kilometers, according to the source.

Japan, meanwhile, is still assessing the situation, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told journalists in Tokyo.

“The National Security Council held a meeting. Details, including the possibility that it could be a submarine-launched ballistic missile, are currently being analyzed,” Kishida said.

The UN Security Council banned North Korea from using ballistic missile technology. If South Korea’s claim that the recent projectile was a submarine-launched ballistic missile, this would mean a breach of the ban and the first such launch since October 2019. (ANI/Sputnik)

Senior Japanese, US officials discuss North Korea’s missile launches

Tokyo [Japan] : High-ranking representatives of the governments of Japan and the United States discussed North Korea’s latest missile tests by phone, the Kyodo news agency reported.
The sides agreed to further cooperate in the area, it said. The details of the conversation, as well as the names of the participants in the dialogue, have not yet been specified.
Earlier on Tuesday, the South Korean military reported that North Korea fired an unidentified projectile towards the Sea of Japan. It was later clarified that a ballistic missile had been tested. According to the Yonhap news agency, it is possible that it was a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said two launches were made from North Korea.

North Korea fires unidentified projectile toward East Sea

Seoul [South Korea]: North Korea on Tuesday fired an “unidentified” projectile towards the East Sea, said the Joint Chief of Staff (JCS), reported Yonhap News Agency.
The news further reported that the move may dampen South Korea’s push to resume the dialogue with the neighbouring country. Further details are awaited on the latest launch.
Notably, this comes after North Korea launched a hypersonic missile last month.

Japan PM orders to ensure safety of navigation after N Korea’s suspected ballistic missile launch

Tokyo [Japan]: After North Korea reportedly fired a ballistic missile, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructed Japanese authorities to collect data regarding the incident and make preparations for emergency situations.

“Today, North Korea fired what is believed to be a ballistic missile. I have instructed the relevant ministries to act in three areas: ensure the collection and analysis of data and timely inform the population, guarantee the safety of navigation and air transport, and prepare for emergency situations,” said Sputnik quoted Japanese Prime Minister Kishida as saying.
Earlier, the South Korean military said North Korea fired an unidentified projectile towards the Sea of Japan, without further details, according to Sputnik.

Yonhap News Agency reported that the move may dampen South Korea’s push to resume the dialogue with the neighbouring country.

Notably, this comes after North Korea launched a hypersonic missile last month. (ANI)

AQ Khan’s death doesn’t stop threat of nuclear proliferation

The death of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, the architect of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, has once again brought the debate how an individual or network can provide nuclear technology to rogue states and terrorist groups, seeking nuclear weapons.

Washington [US] : AQ Khan, 85, died last week after his lungs collapsed. Khan, famously known as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, was lauded as a national hero for making his country the world’s first “Islamic nuclear power”. However, outside his country, he is considered responsible for nuclear proliferation as he smuggled technology to rogue states like North Korea, Iran and Libya.
In an opinion piece for The Hill, Joseph Detrani stated that there is an appropriate concern that other nation-states will try to acquire nuclear weapons capability, usually for deterrence purposes.
“Indeed, if North Korea is permitted to retain its nuclear weapons, South Korea, Japan and others in the region may decide that, despite U.S. nuclear deterrence commitments, they need their own nuclear weapons,” said Detrani, who was the former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea.
According to Detrani, it’s logical to assume that al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations continue to seek nuclear and biological weapons to attack the US, its allies. This concern is more valid due to the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan, who were complicit with the 9/11 attack by permitting al Qaeda to reside in the country and plot against the US.
The writer, who is the former director of the National Counterproliferation Center, further argued that one serial proliferation, such as AQ Khan, can provide the technology and know-how necessary to a few nation-states interested in acquiring nuclear weapons.
“Ensuring that Iran doesn’t acquire a nuclear weapon and that North Korea denuclearises completely and verifiably is necessary if we want to ensure that other countries — especially in East Asia and the Middle East — do not pursue their own nuclear weapons programs.”
Raising concern about nuclear proliferation, Detrani strongly argued that the likelihood that a nuclear weapon or fissile material for a bomb is acquired by a rogue state or terrorist organisation must be of “highest concern” to the US and its allies.

US national security advisor Sullivan meets South Korean counterpart

Washington [US]: US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his South Korean counterpart Suh Hoon discussed regional security, the White House said in a statement.

“National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan met today with the Republic of Korea (ROK) National Security Advisor Suh Hoon, and both emphasized the important role of the US-ROK alliance as the linchpin of peace, prosperity and security in northeast Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific,” US National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said.
“Sullivan and Suh held detailed discussions on the current security situation in the region and called on the DPRK to enter into serious and sustained diplomacy towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Horne said.

Sullivan also said North Korea should refrain from escalatory actions.

“Sullivan stressed the need for the DPRK to refrain from escalatory actions and also reaffirmed US support for inter-Korean dialogue and cooperation,” Horne said.

“They acknowledged the important steps taken to broaden and expand the U.S.-ROK relationship following President Moon’s visit to Washington in May, and committed to deepening cooperation in critical areas such as advanced technology, secure and trustworthy 5G, resilient supply chains, and global health,” according to the statement. (ANI/Sputnik)

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un blames US for tensions in region

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Monday said that the United States did nothing to make him believe that the country is no longer hostile towards North Korea, while blaming it for the tensions in the region, state media reported.

Pyongyang [North Korea], October 12 : Kim in his speech at the opening ceremony of the Defense Development Exhibition titled “Self-Defence-2021” in Pyongyang, the capital city of North Korea stressed North Korea’s readiness to continue with weapons development to increase deterrence in the nation’s self-defence, Kyodo News reported citing Korean Central News Agency. The country marked the 76th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea on Sunday without holding a military parade.
In his speech, Kim said the US signalled frequently that it is not hostile to North Korea, but there are no actions by the US, which lead Pyongyang to believe that is the case.
This suggests that North Korea is not ready to engage in dialogue with the US any time soon after Kim criticised the US for raising regional tensions.
Kim also warned South Korea, by saying if Seoul continues to raise issues with Pyongyang’s weapons development, it will be met with “powerful action”, Kyodo News reported citing Korean Central News Agency.
He further said that weapons development is “a prerequisite and vital state affairs that had to be maintained all the time to increase defence capabilities,” the report stated.

North Korea says it test-fired new anti-aircraft missile

Seoul [South Korea]: North Korea on Friday said that it had test-fired a new type of anti-aircraft missile on Thursday, a media report stated.
The official Korean Central News Agency said, “The Academy of Defence Science of the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) test-fired an anti-aircraft missile newly developed by it on September 30, aiming at confirming the practicality of operation of the launcher, radar and comprehensive battle command vehicle as well as the comprehensive combat performance of the missile,” according to Yonhap News Agency. Earlier on Tuesday morning, North Korea said that it test-fired its newly developed Hwasong-8 hypersonic missile in Toyang-ri, Ryongrim County of Jagang Province on Tuesday morning.
The missile was newly developed and test-fired by the Academy of Defence Science, Xinhua reported citing the official Korean Central News Agency.
“In the first test-launch, national defence scientists confirmed the navigational control and stability of the missile in the active section and also its technical specifications including the guiding manoeuvrability and the gliding flight characteristics of the detached hypersonic gliding warhead,” Korean Central News Agency said.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un rejects US dialogue proposal

Seoul [South Korea]: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has rejected the US proposal for a dialogue, calling it an attempt to mask hostility, the Yonhap news agency reported on Thursday.
The US has condemned the recent missile tests conducted by North Korea but stressed that it was open to the possibility of an end-of-war declaration between North and South Korea such as that proposed by South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the United Nations General Assembly. Kim also said channels of communication with South Korea can be restored from the start of October, Yonhap news agency reported.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, speaking at the high-level week of the UN General Assembly session, once again proposed declaring the end of the war on the Korean Peninsula in the presence of the US and China. In his opinion, this will make it possible to achieve irreversible progress in the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

US State Department ‘condemns’ North Korea’s missile launch

Washington [US]: The US State Department on Monday (local time) condemned North Korea’s (DPRK) missile launch and called on both Pyongyang and Seoul to engage in a dialogue process amid escalating tension.
“The United States condemns the DPRK’s missile launch. This launch is in violation of multiple UN Security Council Resolutions and poses a threat to the DPRK’s neighbours and the international community. We remain committed to a diplomatic approach to the DPRK and call on them to engage in dialogue,” the department said in a statement. On Tuesday, North Korea fired at least one unidentified projectile into the East Sea, Yonhap News Agency reported citing South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
No other details were immediately available, including whether the projectile was a ballistic missile banned under UN Security Council resolutions, how many were fired, where the launch took place and how far it flew.
The launch came three days after Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said that the North could declare a formal end to the Korean War as suggested by the South and even discuss the possibility of a summit on conditions that Seoul drops its double standards and hostile attitudes against it, Yonhap News Agency reported.
North Korea has long accused South Korea and the United States of “double standards”, claiming it makes no sense for them to denounce the North’s missile launches and other weapons tests as banned “provocations” when they are free to conduct such tests.
North Korea is banned from all ballistic missile activities under the United Nations Security Council resolutions, though Pyongyang has claimed they are aimed at beefing up self-defence against threats posed by South Korea and the United States.
If the projectile is confirmed to be a ballistic missile, it would mark the third such launch so far this year, and the sixth known major weapons test if test-firings of cruise missiles are taken into account.
However, citing the Japanese government, Kyodo news reported that North Korea fired what “appeared to be a ballistic missile”.
On September 15, the North test-fired two short-range missiles, believed to be its version of the Iskander, into the East Sea, which came just days after launching a new type of cruise missile, said the South Korean news agency.
Denuclearization talks between the US and North Korea have stalled. The Biden government has said it is ready to hold talks with the North anywhere, at any time, but the communist country has remained unresponsive to US overtures, Yonhap News Agency reported.

North Korea fires ‘unidentified projectile’ into East Sea

Pyongyang [North Korea]: North Korea fired at least one unidentified projectile into the East Sea on Tuesday, Yonhap News Agency reported citing South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
No other details were immediately available, including whether the projectile was a ballistic missile banned under UN Security Council resolutions, how many were fired, where the launch took place and how far it flew. The launch came three days after Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said that the North could declare a formal end to the Korean War as suggested by the South and even discuss the possibility of a summit on conditions that Seoul drops its double standards and hostile attitudes against it, Yonhap News Agency reported.
According to the South Korean news agency, the North has long accused South Korea and the United States of “double standards”, claiming it makes no sense for them to denounce the North’s missile launches and other weapons tests as banned “provocations” when they are free to conduct such tests.
Meanwhile, North Korea is banned from all ballistic missile activities under the United Nations Security Council resolutions, though Pyongyang has claimed they are aimed at beefing up self-defense against threats posed by South Korea and the United States, Yonhap News Agency reported.
If the projectile is confirmed to be a ballistic missile, it would mark the third such launch so far this year, and the sixth known major weapons test if test-firings of cruise missiles are taken into account.
However, citing the Japanese government, Kyodo news reported that North Korea fired what “appeared to be a ballistic missile”.
On September 15, the North test-fired two short-range missiles, believed to be its version of the Iskander, into the East Sea, which came just days after launching a new type of cruise missile, said the South Korean news agency.
Denuclearization talks between the US and North Korea have stalled. The Biden government has said it is ready to hold talks with the North anywhere, at anytime, but the communist country has remained unresponsive to US overtures, Yonhap News Agency reported.

South Korea carries out its first underwater-launched missile test, hours after North Korean launches

South Korea says it has carried out its first underwater-launched missile test, hours after rival North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward the sea.

Seoul , south Korea, September 15 : South Korea says it has carried out its first underwater-launched missile test, hours after rival North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward the sea.

President Moon Jae-in’s office said in a statement that Moon observed the test of a domestically-built submarine-launched ballistic missile on Wednesday afternoon.

It says the missile fired from a 3,000-tonne-class submarine flew a previously set distance before hitting a designated target.

The announcement followed two North Korean ballistic missile launches detected by South Korea earlier Wednesday.

North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward the sea in defiance of U.N. resolutions, the second weapons test in several days that experts say shows it’s pressing ahead with its arms build-up plans while nuclear diplomacy with the United States remains stalled.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the missiles, launched from central North Korea, flew about 800 kilometers (497 miles) on an apogee of 60 kilometers (37 miles) before landing in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

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North Korea nuclear activity ‘deeply troubling’: UN atomic agency

North Korea appears to have restarted the operation of its main nuclear reactor used to produce weapons fuels, the UN atomic agency said.

Vienna [Austria], August 31 : The 5-megawatt reactor is widely believed to have produced plutonium for nuclear weapons and is at the heart of North Korea’s nuclear programme, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The UN atomic agency said it is “deeply troubled” by indications that North Korea appears to have restarted its Yongbyon nuclear reactor.
Responding to journalists’ questions, the UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, said on Monday that the Secretary-General was aware of the reports “and concerned by the latest developments.”
“He calls for the DPRK to refrain from any nuclear weapons-related activities and to resume talks with the other parties concerned.
“Diplomatic engagement remains the only pathway to sustainable peace and complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
In its annual report, issued before a meeting of its Member States, the UN-convened atomic energy watchdog said the reactor has been discharging cooling water since July, suggesting it is operational.
The report said the duration of that apparent work – from mid-February to early July – suggested a full batch of spent fuel was handled, in contrast to the shorter time needed for waste treatment or maintenance.
“The new indications of the operation of the 5MW(e) reactor and the Radiochemical (reprocessing) laboratory are deeply troubling”, and a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions, it said. The report also said there were indications of mining and concentration activities at a uranium mine and plant at Pyongsan.

North Korea: Major General executed for terming Kim’s order as ‘ignorant of reality’

Pyongyang [North Korea]: A major general was killed for reportedly saying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s military granaries distribution order was ‘ignorant of reality’.
The top general was executed for saying Kim’s order to open military storehouses and release wartime grain reserves to the hungry public was “unrealistic,” it was reported. The organization, which keeps in touch with people inside North Korea, quoted one of its sources there as saying: “The major general in charge of the logistics headquarters of Training Camp 815 was court-martialed and shot on July 18 after he criticized Kim’s special order as ‘an order ignorant of reality.'”
On July 22, the regime notified “military officers ranked department head and above” of the punishment in a warning message that included “detailed recent examples of ‘stern judgments'” in other cases.
The notification said that after receiving the special order from the ruling party, the commander “indiscreetly” complained that “military granaries are facing more serious problems than the food [shortage] issue facing the people.”
He also reportedly said: “If they’re going to squeeze us while remaining ignorant of the situation in lower-level rear areas, from where on earth are we going to produce all that rice, not sand from the river bed?”
By criticising Kim’s supposedly insufficient sense of reality, he basically became a “sectarian” in the view of the authorities. By punishing cadres, Kim seemingly intends to turn attention away from his own loss of face in ordering “three months of food provisions” without first ascertaining the state of military food stocks, it was reported.
“Food shops recently established by the North Korean government to control the supply and price of rice have little or no rice to sell,” another report recorded. Those shops were supposed to sell the rice from the military storehouses.
“We know and have seen reporting on North Korea’s dire food situation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. While we can’t pinpoint Pyongyang’s motivation for restoring the communication lines to the food situation, it’s certainly a possibility,” analyst Soo Kim of the California-based Rand Corporation’s said.
“Kim’s foolish pride is a hindrance to directly appealing for international aid. But he knows that the current South Korean government is unlikely to turn a blind eye to the North’s humanitarian situation. By opening the door to ‘communication’ with Seoul, Kim may be indirectly appealing for assistance from the South,” she said.

North slams US-South Korea military drills, casts doubt on North-South summit

Pyongyang [North Korea], August 2 : The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on Sunday night urged South Korea to cancel its regular joint military exercises with the United States and said a North-South leader-level summit remains unlikely in the short term, the official Korean Central News Agency reported.
The joint military drills are “an undesirable prelude which seriously undermines the will of the top leaders of the North and the South wishing to see a step taken toward restoring mutual trust and which beclouds the way ahead of the north-south relations,” said Kim Yo Jong, vice department director of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, in a statement. “Our government and army will closely follow whether the South Korean side stages hostile war exercises in August or makes other bold decision,” she said.
The DPRK has long denounced Seoul and Washington’s military drills as a rehearsal for an invasion of the North. The two Koreas remain technically at war after the 1950-1953 Korean War was ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.
Kim also accused the South Korean government of “inflating the significance” of last week’s restoration of the two Koreas’ cross-border communication lines, which had been severed for over a year.
Those inside and outside South Korea “are freely interpreting” the meaning of restoring communication lines, and “it is a premature hasty judgment” to say that there is a public opinion about the issue of the North-South summit, she noted.
“What I think is that the restoration of the communication liaison lines should not be taken as anything more than just the physical reconnection,” said Kim, adding that hasty speculation and groundless interpretation will only bring despair

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