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Summary of external news of North Korea this week

All News 16:00 December 11, 2020

SEOUL, Dec. 11 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of external news of North Korea this week.

U.S. not seeing weapons proliferation from N. Korea: O'Brien

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is not currently engaged in proliferation of weapons at any significant level, U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien said, adding such activity would mean crossing the "redline."

"It would be an extraordinarily risky venture for Kim Jong-un to get into the proliferation business when it comes to nuclear weapons. It's something that I am hoping won't happen. We don't see it on the WMD side–we don't see that happening at this point," O'Brien said in a recent interview with U.S. online magazine 19FortyFive.

"I think the North Koreans understand that if they started proliferating on a significant scale -- either ballistic missiles or delivery systems or in the worst-case scenario weapons of mass destruction especially on the nuclear side or biological or chemical as well -- that would really be crossing a redline with not just the United States but the international community," he was quoted as saying.

U.S. again designates N. Korea as violator of religious freedom

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (Yonhap) -- The United States on Monday renewed its designation of North Korea as one of the state violators of religious freedom.

It marks the 19th consecutive year the North has been named a state violator of religious freedom.

"Religious freedom is an unalienable right, and the bedrock upon which free societies are built and flourish. Today, the United States -- a nation founded by those fleeing religious persecution, as the recent Commission on Unalienable Rights report noted -- once again took action to defend those who simply want to exercise this essential freedom," U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a released statement.

Biegun says diplomacy 'best' and 'only' course to resolving N.K. challenges

SEOUL, Dec. 10 (Yonhap) -- U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said Thursday that diplomacy remains the "best" and "only" course to address the North Korean nuclear quandary, calling for Pyongyang to return to dialogue.

Biegun, who doubles as Washington's top nuclear envoy, made the remarks during a lecture in Seoul recapping his yearslong, unfinished negotiations with the North, which he cast as being marked by "setbacks, disappointments and missed opportunities."

"As we look to the future, I remain convinced that diplomacy remains the best course, indeed the only course, to solving our challenges with North Korea," he said during the lecture at the local think tank Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

S. Korea 'very encouraged' by signs from Biden administration: Kang

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is "very encouraged" by signs coming from the incoming U.S. administration regarding the South Korea-U.S. alliance and cooperation, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said Thursday.

Kang also said working with the incumbent U.S. administration of President Donald Trump has been great but challenging.

"We are very encouraged by the signs coming from the new incoming administration, although we are not able to coordinate or collaborate because this is time of the transition, and we want to preserve and respect that space for the incoming administration," Kang said in a webinar hosted by the Washington-based Aspen Institute.

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