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Summary of external news of North Korea this week

All News 16:00 January 10, 2020

SEOUL, Jan. 10 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of external news of North Korea this week.

Pentagon chief: U.S. will look at resuming military drills with S. Korea depending on N.K. move

WASHINGTON, Jan. 3 (Yonhap) -- The United States will consider resuming military exercises with South Korea that have been suspended depending on North Korea's next move, the Pentagon chief has said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper made the comment in an interview with MSNBC Thursday after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un threatened in a New Year's message to soon showcase a "new strategic weapon."

Experts have said the strategic weapon could be an intercontinental ballistic missile intended to pressure the U.S. to make concessions in the two countries' stalled denuclearization talks.

New satellite images show N. Korea's hidden submarine capable of firing ballistic missiles

SEOUL, Jan. 6 (Yonhap) -- Recent satellite imagery revealed a hidden submarine capable of launching ballistic missiles at North Korea's Sinpo shipyard, a U.S. monitoring website said, amid concerns that Pyongyang could test a submarine-launched ballistic missile as a threatened "new strategic weapon."

Satellite imagery taken Jan. 1 "revealed the presence of the North Korean SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine (SSBA) and its submersible test stand barge positioned beneath a recently constructed, dockside awning designed to conceal and environmentally protect these vessels," the website 38 North said.

The submarine had been difficult to detect since the North set up the awning in an apparent effort to protect it from prying eyes, but Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imagery technology was used to determine what's under the shelter, 38 North said.

U.S. needs to be more flexible in nuclear talks with N. Korea: Moon adviser

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 (Yonhap) -- A special security adviser to President Moon Jae-in said Monday that the United States needs to show flexibility to break the impasse in nuclear negotiations with North Korea.

Moon Chung-in spoke at a public seminar in Washington, saying also that it is time for the North Korean regime to return to the negotiation table to discuss possible terms of an agreement.

"The United States needs to be more flexible and realistic," he said at the Center for the National Interest. "You cannot really pursue the strategy of 'denuclearize first, and we'll reward you.' That won't work."

No N. Korean defectors admitted to U.S. last year: State Department data

SEOUL, Jan. 7 (Yonhap) -- No refugees from North Korea were admitted to the United States last year for the first time since the U.S. began accepting defectors from the communist nation as refugees in 2006, State Department data has showed.

The last time a North Korean refugee was admitted to the U.S. was in November 2018, when a defector settled in the state of Michigan, according to the refugee admissions data compiled by the department's bureau of population, refugees and migration.

Six North Korean refugees were admitted into the U.S. in 2018 and only one in 2017, after President Donald Trump came into office. The highest number of North Korean defectors admitted to the U.S. was in 2008, when 38 were admitted.

Pompeo: U.S. hopeful about having conversation on achieving N. Korea's denuclearization

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (Yonhap) -- The United States remains hopeful it can have a conversation with North Korea about its promise to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday.

Pompeo's remarks come amid tensions with North Korea following leader Kim Jong-un's threat to showcase a "new strategic weapon" in protest of stalled nuclear talks with the U.S.

Kim issued the message on New Year's Day after the U.S. refused to offer concessions by the leader's self-imposed deadline of the end of last year.

Trump reaffirms commitment to N. Korea's denuclearization

WASHINGTON, Jan. 7 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump reaffirmed his commitment to achieving North Korea's denuclearization in a letter to South Korea's new ambassador to Washington, the South Korean Embassy here said Tuesday.

Trump wrote a note Monday in response to Amb. Lee Soo-hyuck's letter accompanying his credentials, the embassy said in a press release. Lee presented his credentials to the U.S. president the same day.

"President Trump said Amb. Lee's appointment demonstrates the resilience of the South Korea-U.S. alliance and takes on significance in various ways," the embassy said.

Top security advisers of S. Korea, U.S., Japan meet over N. Korea

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8 (Yonhap) -- The top national security advisers of South Korea, the United States and Japan held talks in Washington on Wednesday to discuss recent developments with North Korea.

Chung Eui-yong, director of Cheong Wa Dae's national security office, met with his U.S. and Japanese counterparts -- Robert O'Brien and Shigeru Kitamura, respectively -- at the White House amid Pyongyang's threats to take "shocking actual action" and showcase a "new strategic weapon" over stalled denuclearization talks with Washington.

Details of their conversation were not immediately available. Chung and O'Brien also held bilateral talks.

Trump meets top Seoul official amid N.K. tensions

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump met with the top national security advisers of South Korea and Japan in Washington on Wednesday, the White House said, as nuclear talks between Washington and North Korea remain deadlocked.

Trump met briefly with Chung Eui-yong, director of Cheong Wa Dae's national security office, and his Japanese counterpart, Shigeru Kitamura, and noted that the two countries are among the strongest U.S. allies in the Indo-Pacific, according to a White House readout sent late Wednesday.

The president also expressed appreciation for the "support and deep friendship" the U.S. shares with both countries, it said.

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