Korea DPR continues to show signs of nuclear reprocessing activity

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WASHINGTON, May 27 (Yonhap) — North Korea continues to show signs suggesting it could be reprocessing spent nuclear fuel to harvest plutonium for nuclear weapons, a U.S. research institute said Friday, citing recent satellite imagery.

The May 22 imagery of the North’s Yongbyon nuclear complex shows nine tanks in front of the spent fuel reception building next to the reprocessing plant, and smoke from a coal-fired plant providing steam for reprocessing activity, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said.

“The activity of the coal plant and the presence of tanks in front of the spent fuel reception building are signatures consistent with spent fuel reprocessing,” the institute said in a report. “However, it remains difficult to determine whether plutonium separation has occurred, is occurring, or will occur in the near future.”

The imagery also showed no signs of full-power operation at Yongbyon’s 5-megawatt reactor that produces spent fuel, such as water discharge or steam venting from the reactor’s turbine building, but the absence of the two indicators does not mean the reactor is shut down, the institute said.

“Our assessment is that the reactor has been operating intermittently or at low power since mid-2014,” it said.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said in a worldwide threat assessment earlier this year that the North had restarted its 5-megawatt reactor and has since run it long enough to harvest plutonium “within a matter of weeks to months.”

The graphite-moderated reactor has been the source of weapons-grade plutonium for the communist nation. The small reactor is capable of producing spent fuel rods that, if reprocessed, could give the regime enough plutonium to make one bomb a year.

The reactor has provided Pyongyang with weapons-grade plutonium that the regime used in its first three nuclear tests, in 2006, 2009 and 2013. The North conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6, claiming it successfully detonated a hydrogen bomb.

jschang@yna.co.kr

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Source : Yonhap News Agency

Korea DPR kicks off new loyalty campaign to prop up economy

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SEOUL, May 29 (Yonhap) — North Korea kicked off a new loyalty campaign to get people to work more as part of its five-year economic program announced at its seventh ruling party congress, state controlled media said Sunday.

According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a meeting of ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), government, economic and military officials was held Thursday through Saturday, where participants agreed to launch the “200-day campaign of loyalty” that can bolster growth.

The announcement comes on the back of Pyongyang concluding its “70-day campaign of loyalty” program just before the start of the rare congress that took place early this month. That campaign ran from mid-February to May 2.

The new effort is being pursued as the United Nations sanctions take bite, and the country finds itself more and more isolated from the outside world. The global body slapped its toughest sanctions to date on the reclusive country for its fourth nuclear test in January and the firing off of a long-range missile the following month.

The KCNA said that leading members at last week’s gathering in Pyongyang concurred on the need to join forces to bring about the successful conclusion of the new campaign in accordance with the guidance put forth by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Kim outlined his new five-year economic growth plan running from this year to 2020 and called on North Koreans to meet the growth goals.

yonngong@yna.co.kr

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Source : Yonhap News Agency.

Korea DPR kicks off new loyalty campaign to prop up economy

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details, comments throughout; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, May 29 (Yonhap) — North Korea kicked off a new loyalty campaign to get people to work more as part of its five-year economic plan announced at its seventh ruling party congress, state controlled media said Sunday.

According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a joint conference of officials from the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), government, economic sector and military was held Thursday through Saturday, where participants agreed to launch the “200-day campaign of loyalty” that aims to bolster national growth.

“They discussed ways to thoroughly carry out the five-year strategy for the state economic development and important measures for attaining the goal of building a socialist power,” the media outlet said.

It said premier Pak Pong-ju, who made the report at the gathering, stressed that the country must do its utmost to successfully conclude the campaign as proclaimed by leader Kim Jong-un.

Kim outlined his new five-year economic growth plan running from this year to 2020 at the four daylong congress.

Pak then called on officials to devotedly carry out the decisions reached at the key WPK meeting by making sure that all the issues discussed are successfully put into practice.

The latest announcement comes on the back of Pyongyang concluding its “70-day campaign of loyalty” program just before the start of the rare congress that took place early this month. That campaign ran from mid-February to May 2.

The new effort is being pursued as the United Nations sanctions take bite, and the country finds itself more and more isolated from the outside world. The global body slapped its toughest sanctions to date on the reclusive country for its fourth nuclear test in January and the firing off of a long-range missile the following month.

Pyongyang has not shown any signs so far it will back down and give up its nuclear program.

Kim already proclaimed the North a “responsible nuclear state” and emphasized the country will only use the program as a deterrence against threats to its sovereignty.

The KCNA, meanwhile, said premier Pak Pong-ju; Choe Thae-bok, chairman of the Supreme People’s Assembly; and North Korea’s defense chief Pak Yong-sik were at the joint meeting.

This combined photo shows the 7th WPK congress in session in Pyongyang in early May. The North called on its people to engage in another "200-day campaign of loyalty" to fuel growth on May 29, 2016. (Yonhap)

This combined photo shows the 7th WPK congress in session in Pyongyang in early May. The North called on its people to engage in another “200-day campaign of loyalty” to fuel growth on May 29, 2016. (Yonhap)

yonngong@yna.co.kr

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Source : Yonhap News Agency

Korea DPR continuously trying to buy luxury goods from Switzerland

North Korea is continuously trying to purchase luxury wristwatches and the newest medical equipment from Switzerland despite the latest United Nations sanctions on the communist country’s unwavering pursuit of its nuclear and missile programs, a U.S.-based news media reported on Friday.

In early March, the U.N. Security Council adopted its toughest-ever sanctions, Resolution 2270, to punish the North’s nuclear and missile tests in January and February, respectively.

In response to the U.N.’s punitive action, the Swiss federal government decided last Wednesday to put 25 of its luxury items on the embargo list for the North. The items include caviar, wine, cigars, luxury wristwatches, ski and golf equipment and home appliances.

According to Free Asia Radio, citing diplomatic sources, the United Front Department and No. 39 Office of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party continuously attempt to purchase Swiss watches like Omega and Tissot via their bogus trading firms.

The North is also trying to introduce high-priced medical equipment and medicines presumed to be used for the Pongwha Hospital in Pyongyang, an exclusive clinic for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, his family members and the ruling elite.

Kim is known to give the luxury items to his family members and senior officials to keep them loyal by making use of secret overseas funds estimated at between $1-4 billion. (Yonhap)

 

Source : The Korea Herald

Korea DPR threatens to fire at any ship intruding into western sea border

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North Korea again claimed the South Korean Navy’s firing of warning shots at its vessels that trespassed into the de facto western maritime border as “a premeditated plot” to heighten inter-Korean tension on Saturday.

The North said it will open fire without warning at any South Korean warship that intrudes an inch into the sea border.

“The reckless military provocation was evidently prompted by a premeditated sinister plot to bedevil the North-South relations and further aggravate the tension on the Korean Peninsula,” the General Staff of the North’s Army said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

On Friday morning, a fishing boat and a patrol boat from North Korea violated the maritime border in the Yellow Sea, widely known as the Northern Limit Line. They returned to the northern side after the South Korean Navy fired five warning shots.

This marked the second time that a North Korean vessel crossed the western sea border since Pyongyang conducted its long-range missile test in February.

“From now on, we will open direct fire on any warship of the South Korean puppet forces without warning, if it intrudes into the extension of the Military Demarcation Line of our side even 0.001 mm in the hotspot of the west sea,” said the statement.

It echoed one from the Supreme Command of the North Korean Army on Friday night that claimed that the South has made a military provocation by attacking its navy vessels. (Yonhap)

 

Source : The Korea Herald

Korea DPR marks International Day of Biological Diversity

N. Korea marks Int'l Day of Biological Diversity

Foreign participants look at photos on the wall before starting a national workshop on the International Day of Biological Diversity at the People’s Palace of Culture on May 18, 2016, in this photo released by the (North) Korean Central News Agency. The participants exchanged successes and experience gained while working on protecting the ecological environment and biological diversity, the agency reported. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap) (END)

Source : Yonhap News Agency

Korea DPR built up personality cult of Kim Jong-un ahead of key congress

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North Korea made a concerted effort to build up the personality cult of its leader Kim Jong-un through literary and artistic works ahead of the recently closed congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea, an examination of North Korean media reports showed Tuesday.

In media reports released last week, the North’s Korean Central News Agency said the country’s youth and students created some 1,200 literary works during the 70-day campaign of loyalty that preceded the four-day party congress that ended on May 9.

Local North Korean watchers who checked the reclusive country’s media said moves to idolize Kim, who has been in power since late 2011, sped up ahead of the landmark event. They said such actions are in line with the country’s past practice of making its leader into a glorified being. Kim was named the new chairman of the WPK at the congress.

Pyongyang already completed a 70-day campaign of loyalty, a scheme to mobilize its people to work harder on state construction and other projects.

According to the KCNA report, a lot of literary works related to the North Korean leader were produced by young people.

For example, the news agency claimed a youth group called the Paektusan Hero Youth Stormers released a literary production named “We are the heroes of youth powerful country” in which many literary works praised the North Korean leader with “great honor and deep trust from the people.”

In the literary works, university students across the country pledged to become heroes of the country to create miracles on their way to constructing a powerful socialist state by uniting around leader Kim Jong-un.

Another North Korean media outlet, Airang-Meari, claimed on May 5 that a theatrical play was produced glorifying Kim Jong-un. The play was titled “Hyolmaek,” or blood vessel, and was produced by the North’s state theatrical troupe. It showed the “honorable Marshal Kim Jong-un’s sublime will for the construction of a great prosperous country on the ground.”

In addition, the North’s Central TV Station introduced an epic poem idolizing Kim Jong-un as well as his grandfather Kim Il-sung and his late father Kim Jong-il.

The poetry was introduced on the opening day of the WPK congress on May 6 in a move to elevate Kim Jong-un to the level of his two predecessors.

In his report to the party congress, Kim Jong-un urged the nation to create literary and artistic works to glorify the great revolutionary history and immortal achievements of the deceased leaders. (Yonhap)

 

Source : The Korea Herald

Lawyers’ request to meet Korea DPR defectors improper: unification ministry

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SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s unification ministry said Monday that it is not proper for a local lawyers association to request a meeting with the 13 North Koreans who defected en masse last month.

A group of North Koreans — one male manager and 12 female employees — who worked at a restaurant in the Chinese eastern port city of Ningbo defected to South Korea in early April amid toughened international sanctions.

Earlier in the day, the Lawyers for a Democratic Society, or Minbyun, called on the National Intelligence Service (NIS) to arrange a meeting with the defectors in a bid to clarify the North’s claim that they were kidnapped by Seoul.

South Korea’s unification ministry said that it viewed such a request as improper, saying that the defectors made the decision to come to Seoul.

“The defectors came to South Korea completely on their own free will,” Jeong Joon-hee, the ministry’s spokesman, told a regular press briefing. “As they are in the early stage of resettlement here, it is not proper to allow them to meet with outsiders.”

North Korea has claimed that South Korea kidnapped the 13 North Koreans, notifying Seoul in late April that it will send their family members to Seoul for a face-to-face meeting.

Pyongyang has threatened to take strong action against South Korea if Seoul does not accept its demand for a meeting with the family members and their immediate repatriation.

Jeong also dismissed a report by a North Korean propaganda website that one of the 13 defectors died in Seoul while fasting.

“The report is groundless,” he said. “They are all healthy.”

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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Source : Yonhap News Agency

Korea DPR pushes for timely rice planting to boost output

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SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) — North Korea is calling on its people to carry out timely rice planting in an effort to boost the country’s grain production.

The move comes as the country gears up for the spring planting season in the wake of the rare congress of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) that ended last Monday. In the key gathering, the first of its kind in 36 years, the North announced various economic projects aimed at improving the economic conditions of the impoverished country.

In an editorial on Monday, the North’s main newspaper, the Rodong Sinmun, called for the people to concentrate all their effort on a rice-transplanting campaign to gain a breakthrough in grain production. The paper likened rice farming to a “battle” to increase the country’s grain production.

The Northeast country of more than 20 million has suffered from frequent food shortages as the output of rice, its main staple, has not met demand. A lack of fertilizer, power shortages and poor infrastructure have been cited as causes of the country’s troubles.

The newspaper said a great victory in the agricultural frontline is a political struggle for the WPK.

Despite the severe drought last year, the daily claimed, the country successfully achieved rice planting success and urged all sectors of North Korean society to help out with farming.

Then it proposed a term, “the Speed of Mallima,” to prompt North Koreans to work harder to attain the country’s economic goals as well as rice planting.

The term Mallima, which was coined by the North, means a horse that runs 10 times as fast as Chollima, an imaginary horse with wings that can travel at least 400 kilometers a day.

North Korea first launched the Chollima Movement in the late 1950s as an economic campaign to rebuild its economy after the 1950-53 Korean War.

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Source :  Yonhap News Agency

Korea DPR uses party congress to declare nukes its priority: report

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SEOUL, May 16 (Yonhap) — North Korea used its latest party congress as a venue to show its will to give priority to developing nuclear weapons before it moves to bolster its fragile economy, a report showed Monday.

North Korea concluded a four-day run of the congress by the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) last Monday, where North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was elected as chairman of the ruling party.

Kim Kap-sik, a research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU), said in a report that the North formally announced that its priority will be developing a nuclear arsenal at the key gathering.

At the party event, the first to be held in 36 years, the North’s leader made it clear that he will “permanently” defend the pursuit of his signature policy of developing nuclear weapons in tandem with boosting the country’s moribund economy, commonly known as the “byeongjin” policy.

He also called his country a “responsible nuclear weapons state,” adding that Pyongyang will not use its nuclear arms first unless its sovereignty is threatened by other countries with nuclear bombs.

Seoul said that his message is nothing more than an expression that the communist country has no intention of giving up its nuclear program, adding that it will not recognize North Korea as a nuclear-armed state.

A report by Hong Min, another KINU research fellow, cast a similar view.

“The North seemed to set nuclear weapons as key words for the party congress,” Hong said. “The party event was used as a venue to formally declare that the country’s rule will be based on its nuclear arsenal.”

sooyeon@yna.co.kr

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Source : Yonhap News Agency