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Summary of external news of North Korea this week

All News 16:00 June 24, 2022

SEOUL, June 24 (Yonhap) -- The following is a summary of external news of North Korea this week.

Outgoing U.N. rapporteur on N.K. human rights to visit Seoul next week

SEOUL -- The outgoing U.N. special rapporteur on North Korea's human rights situation will visit here next week, the U.N. Human Rights Office in Seoul said Thursday.

Tomas Ojea Quintana will arrive in Seoul on Monday for a three-day trip, which will likely be his last visit to South Korea during his term, according to the U.N. office. His six-year term ends in July.

S. Korea, U.S. stage combined patrol flight in show of air defense readiness

SEOUL -- South Korea and the United States conducted a combined patrol flight over key former battle sites earlier this week, the Air Force here said Thursday, in a show of their readiness against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.

The allies carried out the operation over the sites of the 1950-53 Korean War on Tuesday, involving four South Korean F-15K fighters and four U.S. F-16 jets, after the South's Air Force carried out a stand-alone formation flight the previous day.

Defense chief stresses S. Korea's commitment to stronger alliance with U.S. amid N.K. threats

SEOUL -- Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup on Thursday reaffirmed South Korea's commitment to further strengthening its alliance with the United States, pointing to the "very grave" security threats from North Korea.

He was speaking at a breakfast meeting with former and current South Korean and U.S. officials, as concerns have grown about the possibility of the North carrying out its seventh nuclear experiment at the Punggye-ri testing site.

N. Korea could be delaying nuclear test because of China, COVID-19: official

SEOUL -- North Korea could be pushing back what would be its seventh nuclear test in consideration of China's political calendar and its own situation with COVID-19, a presidential official said Wednesday.

North Korea has been reported for weeks to be preparing for a nuclear test at its testing ground in Punggye-ri, with the only remaining step being a "political decision" by leader Kim Jong-un.

N. Korea needs nuke test for smaller warheads to fit on new missiles: expert

SEOUL -- North Korea has its own military and technical reason to carry out another nuclear test, as it needs a miniaturized nuclear warhead to be loaded on its newly developed missiles, a former senior South Korean defense official said Wednesday.

"North Korea's level of nuclear (warhead) miniaturization is estimated to be around 60 centimeters in diameter," Kim Jung-sup, a senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute who served as deputy defense minister, said at a forum in Seoul. "In order to be mounted on (the nation's) new tactical guided weapons and hypersonic missiles, like the Hwasong-8, it needs to become even smaller."

N. Korea seems to be using virus crisis to strengthen party control: experts

SEOUL -- North Korea appears to be using its ongoing battle against COVID-19 to tighten Kim Jong-un's grip on power based on the ruling Workers' Party, experts said Tuesday during a forum.

"I think North Korea seems to be using the COVID outbreak to strengthen party control across the board," Rachel Minyoung Lee, a senior analyst for the Vienna-based Open Nuclear Network, said at the online seminar co-hosted by the Korea Institute for National Unification and the George Washington University's Institute for Korean Studies. "During the many meetings Kim Jong-un presided over in the wake of the COVID outbreak, he repeatedly emphasized unconditionally obeying the party."

S. Korea, U.S. to hold talks next month on deterrence against N. Korea

SEOUL -- South Korea and the United States have tentatively agreed to hold their regular defense talks in Washington D.C. next month, informed sources said Monday, with joint deterrence against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats likely to top the agenda.

The biannual Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD) will be held as the allies are striving to reinforce security coordination following a series of North Korean ballistic missile launches and speculation that Pyongyang has completed preparations for a nuclear test.

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