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NORTH KOREA NEWSLETTER NO. 31 (November 27, 2008)

All Headlines 10:57 November 27, 2008

*** NEWS IN BRIEF (Part 2)

N. Korea Vows to Retaliate against Seoul's 'Confrontational' Policy

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea said on Nov. 22 that it will go ahead with its plan to retaliate against South Korea unless Seoul changes its "confrontational policy" toward the socialist country.

The North made the threat as it harshly criticized South Korean President Lee Myung-bak for making remarks in Washington earlier this week that he will try to unify the divided Korean Peninsula under the South's free democracy.

"The option of the DPRK (North Korea) has become clear as the developments have proved that there is no room to discuss the inter-Korean relationship and reunification issues with the Lee group as it is steeped in the anti-DPRK confrontational hysteria to the marrow of its bones," the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said in a statement, using the country's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"The DPRK, therefore, is left with no option but to resolutely counter the group, as it had already declared, now that the group keeps to the road of reckless and dangerous confrontation with the DPRK, far from drawing a lesson from its treacherous and criminal act of pushing the inter-Korean relations to a collapse," said the statement, carried by the North's official Korean Central News Agency, monitored in Seoul.

In a meeting with South Korean correspondents based in Washington after a summit of G-20, Lee said South Korea's ultimate goal is to reunify the Korean Peninsula under free democracy.

North Korea denounced Lee's remarks as tantamount to a declaration of war against it.

Inter-Korean relations have chilled since South Korea's conservative government of Lee took office in February with a vow to get tough on North Korea.

North Korea is especially angry at Seoul's reluctance to carry out a spate of cross-border economic projects that were agreed on between leaders of the two sides in 2000 and 2007. Those projects would require massive South Korean investment in the impoverished communist state.


N. Korea Denounces U.N. Human Rights Resolution

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's Foreign Ministry denounced a resolution passed by the United Nations that calls for the improvement of human rights in the socialist country, its state news agency said on Nov. 24.

The official statement by a ministry spokesman claimed that the resolution is a "political conspiracy designed to snuff out the country's system of government," and that Pyongyang will stringently reject such efforts, the report carried by the North's Korean Central News Agency said.

The report picked up in Seoul then said that the resolution is full of lies and fabrications because its main objective is to attack North Korea.

"Enemies of the North are using human rights to conduct overt anti-government activities, but Pyongyang plans to maintain its sovereignty, while the people will defend the system they have accepted," the official said.

He then said that if the resolution wants to discuss human rights, it should first get tough on atrocities committed by the United States, which has invaded other countries and killed civilians.

The Foreign Ministry official also said that crimes committed by the Japanese imperialists and Western powers in the past should be addressed as well.

He said failure to touch on such issues highlights the hypocrisy of calling on North Korea to improve its human rights.


North Korea Says Economic Compensation Important in 6-Way Talks

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea's official news outlet on Nov. 24 said economic compensation by its dialogue partners will remain an important issue in the future progress of the six-party talks, which the United States says will be held on Dec. 8.

The (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the DPRK (North Korea) is unloading spent fuel rods at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor at half its former speed in response to the delayed economic compensation by the U.S., China, the South, Japan and Russia.

The report implies that Pyongyang will strongly request the delivery of heavy oil and energy material at the proposed six-way talks in December.

The KCNA also denied that the current phase of disablement involves "the collection of samples" as a verification measure. Likewise, the North's Foreign Ministry on Nov. 12 denied that the North had agreed to allowing samples to be taken.

"The agreement includes no paragraph referring to the collection of samples," the news outlet said, alluding to the agreement between the U.S. and the North in Pyongyang in early October.

With the time running out for the Bush administration, the six-way talks, if held next month, will likely give the North an incentive for attending them only with "economic compensation," as the North needs heavy oil in the coming winter.


N. Korea to Attend Discussion to Wipe Out Somali Piracy: N.K. Diplomat

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea, which had a ship hijacked in Somalia in October last year, is to discuss how to wipe out piracy off the coast of Somalia at an international meeting, a North Korean diplomat said on Nov. 24.

An official of the North's embassy in Britain was quoted by the Washington-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) as saying, "We will attend the International Maritime Organization meeting (IMO) and discuss the matter of pirates on the sea of Somalia together."

The North-flagged ship Taehongdan with 43 crew aboard was hijacked by pirates off the coast of the East African nation before a U.S. Navy helicopter helped the North Korean sailors fight the pirates and recapture the boat.

Spokesman of the IMO Lee Adamson also reportedly said, "They (the DPRK) usually attend the meeting. I think they would attend the IMO meeting." DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The North became a member of the IMO in 1986. The IMO meeting will be held in Britain from Nov. 26 to Dec. 5.

According to the North's news outlet, a delegation of the DPRK Maritime Administration headed by its Vice Director Jon Ki-chol left Pyongyang on Nov. 22 to participate in the 85th meeting of the Maritime Safety Committee of the IMO.

Allied forces composed of the U.S., Britain, Germany and Spain are cracking down on Somali pirates, but the pirates are becoming increasingly bolder, as shown by the recent hijacking of a Saudi oil tanker, during which the pirates demanded US$15 million as ransom.


North Korea Calls for Reform of U.N. Security Council

SEOUL (Yonhap) -- North Korea, which is under sanctions led by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for its nuclear detonation in October 2006, called for the reform of the UNSC itself to restrict the imposition of sanctions.

The demand came in a North Korean delegate's speech at the plenary meeting of the 63rd U.N. General Assembly on Nov. 19, which discussed the issue of reforming the UNSC.

The unnamed delegate was quoted by the (North) Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Nov. 25 as saying, "Coercive steps such as sanctions and the use of armed forces should be strictly rejected," and "A system under which UNSC resolutions shall take effect only with the approval of the UN General Assembly should be set up."

The delegate also said the UNSC is used for meeting the interests of some specific countries in many cases, and issues beyond its mandate are frequently dealt with, the KCNA added.

North Korea called for increasing the number of UNSC non-permanent member nations as a way to help non-aligned and other developing countries making up the overwhelming majority of the UN member nations to fully exercise their representative rights.

"Even if permanent member nations are expanded, a country such as Japan, a past war criminal state which is distorting its past history of aggression -- far from settling it -- should never be allowed to assume a permanent seat on the UNSC," the delegate added, reflecting Pyongyang's bad relations with Tokyo. The current permanent members of the UNSC are the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France.

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