Friday, May 28, 2010

China refuses to condemn North Korea

Despite the U.S.'s hopes, China has chosen not to join the US and its allies in condemning North Korea for sinking a South Korean warship.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has released a statement to say the issue still remains complicated and not yet proven enough for a rebuke in the UN Security Council.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters at a scheduled news conference: "The issue is highly complicated. China does not have firsthand information. We are looking at the information from all sides in a prudent manner."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

North Korea vows to cut all ties with South Korea

North Korea on Tuesday vowed to cut all ties with South Korea, saying there will be no dialogue or contacts between the governments while President Lee Myung-bak is in office.

A spokesman for the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland castigated Lee's nationally televised speech on Monday announcing sanctions against the North, calling the sanctions "an official declaration" that the South "would risk going to war."

The spokesman said Pyongyang will "completely sever ties with the South, scrap the nonaggression treaty and cancel all cooperative projects."

Meanwhile, China has urged North Korea to restrain itself over sanctions from South Korea, a senior Chinese official has told South Korean government officials. Beijing reminded Pyongyang that "peace and stability" are vital for the Korean Peninsula after an investigation implicated the North in the sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan.

Chosun Ilbo

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

North Korea puts military on combat readiness

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has ordered his military to be on a combat footing, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said on Tuesday.

It quoted a local group of North Korea watchers as saying their sources there had told them Kim's command had been broadcast by a top military official.

Tensions have risen sharply on the peninsula after South Korea imposed sanctions on the North.

Monday, May 24, 2010

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak addresses his nation on North Korea

President Lee Myung-bak made a special address to the nation with his announcement detailing a wide array of government-level countermeasures to North Korea.

First of all, North Korea should put an end to its infamous behavioral patterns.

On the surface, what South Korea wants from the North is only an apology and punishment of the people involved in the Cheonan sinking. Until these requests are fulfilled, the South Korean government plans to push forward a series of tough policies including cutting off the existing sea lanes between the two countries, restriction of bilateral exchange, international sanctions, resumption of psychological warfare, intensified control of additional military provocations and more active participation in the Proliferation Security Initiative to stop trafficking of weapons of mass destruction.

In addition, the United States is preparing to launch new financial sanctions toward North Korea, and Japan and the European Union are set to follow suit.

[JoongAng Daily]

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hillary Clinton courting China for needed support on North Korea

Courting the Chinese people, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton tried to make the case Saturday for greater cooperation and partnership between the two countries as a difficult diplomatic assignment approached: winning Beijing's support for punishing ally North Korea.

She faces a hard sell convincing China's leaders that they should back U.N. penalties after an international investigation blamed North Korea for sinking a South Korean navy ship. China is North Korea's primary ally and financial supporter. Beijing has been neutral on the conclusions of the report.

The downed ship is crowding out all else on her agenda, even the high-level strategic and economic talks between the U.S. and China on Monday and Tuesday that were the main thrust of her trip. Clinton and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are heading the Obama administration's team of nearly 200 officials.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Another view on the sinking of the Cheonan

The Korea Report explains that not all South Koreans believe their government's findings on sinking of the Cheonan, which concluded that a North Korean torpedo sank the ship. They point to many unanswered loose ends, and a video highlighting the questions and doubts.

For one --they ask-- is it plausible to believe that a single torpedo from a small North Korean submarine, operating in heavily-monitored South Korean waters, could sink a large warship in one single shot, with such high precision, and then escape undetected? Moreover, the sinking occurred in the area where South Korean and US navies were engaged in a joint military exercise. Also peculiar is that South Korea first announced that it detected no North Korean submarine movements around the Cheonan at the time of the sinking. Has the North Korean navy perfected a stealth technology and a precision attack method unknown to the US and South Korean forces?

In any case, as expected, North Korea has denied any involvement in this incident and has warned of war if there is a retaliation. But unprecedented, it has offered to send its own investigative team to look at the evidence. It will be interesting how Lee Myung-bak handles this.