Putin signs decree imposing restrictions on N. Korea as Pyongyang delegation is in Russia

Putin signs decree imposing restrictions on N. Korea as Pyongyang delegation is in Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree imposing restrictions on North Korea in order to comply with a UN Security Council resolution.

The decree specifically refers to the UN Security Council resolution on restrictions imposed against North Korea in November 2016. The document, spanning almost 40 pages, specifies certain punitive measures that were introduced in 2007. It also refers to 11 North Korean individuals, who have been linked with the country’s nuclear program.

The move comes as a North Korean delegation arrived in St. Petersburg for the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) assembly.

The decree will also affect cooperation in the area of science and technology, while collaboration in “nuclear science and technology, air-and-space machine engineering or state-of-the-art industrial technology and methods” will still be permitted in cases where it does not contribute to the North’s nuclear- and ballistic-missile program.

President Putin has also ordered that sea vessels linked to the nuclear program be stripped of their Russian registration and banned from entering Russian ports, except in emergencies. The Russian sanctions also cover delivery of new helicopters and ships to North Korea.

Pyongyang has also been slapped with restrictions on ‘luxury’ items, such as carpets and porcelain worth more than $500 and $100 respectively.

Among other things, North Korea won’t be able to use any property in Russia, except diplomatic and consulate facilities.

On Monday, the EU also adopted a new range of sanctions against Pyongyang, which are designed to punish the North for its “continued and accelerated nuclear- and ballistic-missile programs.”

The decision taken on Monday made changes to penalties that were introduced earlier in response to the North Korean ballistic launches. These prohibited the import, sale or transfer of petroleum by the state, as well as transactions involving crude oil to Pyongyang. The fresh range of restrictions also extends to the transfer of funds.

READ MORE: N. Korea threatens Guam with ‘salvo of missiles’ as US gears up for drills with Seoul

In the meantime, the Pyongyang representative called the US sanctions “state terrorism” in a speech at the IPU session. “Sanctions against the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] are aimed at a complete halt of our foreign trade, including the areas which affect the survival of our people,” the delegation head said, as cited by Interfax. “It’s state terrorism.”

Courtesy: RT

‘Pyongyang will fear us more’: South Korea wants to transfer wartime army command from US

‘Pyongyang will fear us more’: South Korea wants to transfer wartime army command from US
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has called for the long-delayed transfer of its wartime operational control (OPCON) from the Pentagon to be speeded up, and says the country must develop its own military capacity to “punish” North Korea’s “provocations.”

“North Korea will fear us more and the people will have more faith in our military when we have wartime operational control of our military. The transfer of the wartime operational control based on our strong defense capabilities will lead to a great development of our military’s structure and capabilities,”said Moon during a speech to mark the 69th Korean Armed Forces Day at a navy base in Pyeongtaek, south of Seoul.

Between 1950, when General Douglas McArthur took charge of the South Korean army, and 1994, a US general served as its commander. Since then, Seoul has taken back peacetime control of its armed forces, but would delegate command to the US in case of a conflict, though Korean politicians do formally have a veto.

The handover of OPCON to Korean generals has been discussed, touted and negotiated for decades, but in 2014 Seoul asked Washington to postpone it indefinitely, to give the Asian country a chance to build its “core military capabilities.”

Moon, elected in May this year, now believes that South Korea has to be more proactive in strengthening its army, in the wake of a series of missile and nuclear tests by the North.

“Without strong defense, we can neither protect nor make peace,” Moon told the 3,700 military officers in attendance at an occasion celebrated with pomp. “Securing counter capabilities against North Korean nuclear and missile threats is the most urgent task. We must further strengthen our offense-based defense system Kill-Chain and Korean missile defense system.”

South Korea currently operates a so-called ‘three axis’ defense system against its northern neighbor. The Kill Chain system would carry out a pre-emptive first strike against hostile launch sites, the Korean Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system would attempt to intercept any missiles that would cross the border, and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) plan intends to obliterate the entirety of North Korea if its missiles do hit targets down south.

“We will stand up against reckless provocations with strong punishment,” Moon promised in his speech.

Korea’s conservative opposition parties have said that the handover could weaken the bond between Seoul and Washington, lessen the resources the US spends on its Asian ally, and further embolden Pyongyang.

The US currently stations 28,500 troops on South Korean territory, where it has deployed its sophisticated THAAD missile defense system – despite objections from China and Russia – and conducts massive annual joint drills.

But Moon believes that the ties across the Pacific are secure, and that South Korea is strong enough for self-reliance.

“I believe our military has sufficient capabilities. Together with the people, I have confidence in our military,” said Moon.

During his short time in office Moon has repeatedly attempted to stage talks with North Korea over diplomatic rapprochement and economic cooperation, but Pyongyang has refused to talk to South Korea, which it officially regards as an illegitimate state.

Meanwhile tensions with the US have continued to rise, with Donald Trump threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea if it doesn’t curtail its strategic missile program during a recent UN General Assembly speech.

In response, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has sent a letter to the United Nations accusing the US president of “mentally deranged behavior,” and commenting that “a frightened dog barks louder.”

Courtesy, RT

Pakistan’s indirect role in North Korea’s nuclear program

Pakistani nuclear physicist, Pervez Hoodbhoy, talks to DW about his country’s “nuclear assistance” to Pyongyang, the relevance of the non-proliferation treaty and why the North should be accepted as a nuclear state.

Südkorea Raketentest (picture-alliance/NurPhoto/South Korea Defense Ministry)

DW: To what extent North Korea owes its nuclear technology to Pakistan?

Pervez Hoodbhoy: Pakistan did transfer centrifuge technology to North Korea. It did not, however, directly contribute to the program because North Korean nuclear program is essentially based on the extraction of plutonium rather than the uranium centrifugation process.

When did Pakistan’s “nuclear transfer” to North Korea begin, and when did it end?

It ended in 2003 when Pakistani scientist A Q Khan was caught in the transfer of nuclear technology and subsequently all nuclear transfer came to an end. It is unclear when it began, but it is possible that it started shortly after former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto came to power in 1989, so in the years after that it must have begun at some point.

Read more: Why Pakistan’s nuclear obsession is reason for concern

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy (DW/Shadi Khan Saif)Pervez Hoodbhoy: ‘In return for the centrifuge that Pakistan supplied to North Korea, it received so-called Dudong missiles’

Was Pakistani scientist A Q Khan the only person responsible for nuclear proliferation to Pyongyang?

It is very hard to believe that A Q Khan single-handedly transferred all technology from Pakistan to North Korea, Libya and Iran as it was a high-security installation in Pakistan and guarded with very fearsome amount of policing and military intelligence surrounding it. Moreover, the centrifuge weighs half a ton each and it is not possible that these could have been smuggled out in a match box, so certainly there was complicity at a very high level.

But some military generals in Pakistan deny helping out Pyongyang because North Korean nuclear technology is a plutonium-based one unlike Pakistan’s.

I think that it is true the North Korean nuclear weapons are plutonium-based and this plutonium bomb is not the same as the uranium bomb. Pakistan did supply centrifuges to Pyongyang, but the relation between the North Korean nuclear program and Pakistan is not direct.

What did Pakistan get in return for “helping” Pyongyang?

In return for the centrifuge that Pakistan supplied to North Korea, it received so-called Dudong missiles. These are liquid-fueled missiles, which were taken over by the A Q Khan laboratory and were renamed “Ghouri” missiles. I think they are part of Pakistan’s missile arsenal. These are not as effective as solid-fuel missiles, which do not need much preparation time.

So, certainly there was a quid pro quo. I think both North Korea and Pakistan benefited from this exchange, but not majorly.

Does the A Q Khan “nuclear network” still exist?

It is difficult to say that such network exists now. Pakistan’s nuclear program is now under observation and it will be very difficult to smuggle nuclear technology out of the country.

Watch video01:04

North Korea fires ballistic missile over Japan

Should the international community accept North Korea as a nuclear power the way it accepted Pakistan?

It is now a fact that North Korea has had six successful nuclear tests, and the last one probably that of a hydrogen bomb. This certainly exceeds what Pakistan has achieved and is on par with India’s nuclear program.

There is no doubt that a nuclear North Korea is now reality, so the country should be put in the same category as India and Pakistan.

Read more: Hydrogen vs atomic bomb: What’s the difference?

What measures should the international community take to counter the threat posed by “rogue states” with nuclear capabilities?

The notion of rogue state is something that has been manufactured by those who already possess nuclear weapons. The United States has used this term time and again in relation to Iran and North Korea, and earlier Iraq as well. The term has no legitimacy because the US itself has used nuclear weapons – once in Hiroshima and once in Nagasaki. Moreover, we have seen that the US actions have not been conducive to world peace. Being a superpower does not give the US a license to label other states around the world as “rogue.”

– North Korea: UN Security Council approves new sanctions

– South Korea to bring back US tactical nuclear missiles?

Watch video03:47

‘Hysteria’ on the Korean peninsula?

Is the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) still effective and relevant?

The NPT was useful at one point because it did help slowing down the nuclear proliferation. The more countries with nuclear weapons, the more dangerous the world becomes.

But the NPT now has probably outlived its utility. The fact is that nuclear states have not agreed to Article 6 of the NPT and have not moved towards denuclearization. On the contrary, they have created better and more effective nuclear weapons. We therefore need a new and comprehensive treaty.

Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy is a Pakistani nuclear physicistmathematician and activist who serves as distinguished professor at the Forman Christian College. His work focuses on Quantum field theoryparticle phenomenology, and supersymmetry in the area of Particle physics. Hoodbhoy is also a prominent social and political activist who works for the promotion of freedom of speechsecularismand education in Pakistan.

The interview was conducted by Sattar Khan, DW’s Islamabad correspondent.

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Pyongyang’s nuclear program aims to ‘deter hostile US policy’ – N. Korea ambassador to Russia

Pyongyang’s nuclear program aims to ‘deter hostile US policy’ – N. Korea ambassador to Russia
No sanctions will make North Korea change its policies, says the country’s ambassador to Moscow. The diplomat added that North Korea’s nuclear program will help his country better deter the “hostile policy of the US”.

“We have lived under US sanctions for decades. Under the harshest of sanctions. But we have acquired everything we wanted to. If the US hopes that our position would be shaken and changed, that is an illusion,” Kim Yong-jae told the Russian media.

The diplomat added that North Korea’s nuclear and rocket programs will help his country better deter the “hostile policy of the US” and protect the Korean Peninsula from a nuclear war.

“The sanctions resolution of the UN Security Council has been forced by the US, which uses the council as a tool, and is illegal. We fully reject and strongly condemn this resolution,” Ambassador Kim said.

“Instead of acknowledging the reality and making the right choice, the US is using our most justified measures of self-defense to try and strangle our country,” he said.

Earlier, the UN Security Council imposed the harshest-ever economic sanctions against North Korea, putting a cap on the amount of fuel it can buy and further restricting import of crude oil.

It also banned textile trade with the country, targeting one of its major export articles.

The measures were taken in response to Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test. North Korea detonated a device, which it said was a thermonuclear bomb small enough to fit on a long-range ballistic missile.

Courtesy, RT

Moscow rejects cutting off North Korea from Russian oil supplies

Moscow rejects cutting off North Korea from Russian oil supplies
Russia won’t stop delivering oil products to North Korea, as dialogue, not sanctions, is the only solution to the crisis, said Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

South Korea has proposed cutting all crude supplies to the North in response to the latest missile test.

“Pyongyang needs to be involved in dialogue, conditions must be created in which Pyongyang will feel secure, and that will allow us to search for solutions,” Peskov told reporters in a conference call.

The spokesman stressed the current level of oil supplies to North Korea from Russia is minimal, so the suspension of them is pointless.

“The Russian president repeatedly, including at a press conference in Beijing, said the volume of trade and economic cooperation and the supply of oil and oil products to Korea is at an insignificant level, at a meager level, so in this case, it is hardly reasonable to continue talking about this. There are no significant quantities there,” said Peskov.

Pyongyang has been buying most of its oil from China and trying to boost imports from Russia as an alternative source of energy.

Earlier this week, South Korea pushed for a global embargo on oil exports to North Korea as the UN Security Council discusses a new round of sanctions against Pyongyang.

The proposal followed Pyongyang’s sixth and most powerful missile test it claimed involved a hydrogen bomb.

Russia to work on trilateral projects with North & South Korea https://on.rt.com/8mb2 

Photo published for Russia to work on trilateral projects with North & South Korea — RT Business

Russia to work on trilateral projects with North & South Korea — RT Business

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Moscow and Seoul have agreed to develop projects involving North Korea.

rt.com

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the idea of driving Pyongyang into a corner with sanctions pressure to solve the current crisis didn’t make sense.

“It is clear that it is impossible to solve the problems of the Korean Peninsula by sanctions alone and pressure,” the president said at the economic forum in Vladivostok, following talks with his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-In.

Courtesy, RT

N. Korea warns more ‘gift packages’ on way if US continues ‘reckless provocations’

N. Korea warns more 'gift packages' on way if US continues 'reckless provocations'
North Korea says its nuclear test and other “self-defense” measures were a “gift package” to the United States. It warns other such gifts are on the way if Washington continues its “reckless provocations.”

“The recent self-defense measures by my country, the DPRK, are a gift package addressed to none other than the US,” Han Tae-song, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, said during an address to the UN-sponsored Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday.

“The US will receive more gift packages from my country as long as it relies on reckless provocations and futile attempts to put pressure on the DPRK,” he continued.

Han’s statements come just two days after North Korea launched its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, with Pyongyang claiming the test involved a hydrogen bomb which can be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

“The H-bomb, the explosive power of which is adjustable from tens kiloton to hundreds kiloton, is a multi-functional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP [Electromagnetic pulse] attack according to strategic goals,” state news agency KCNA reported.

The launch prompted US President Donald Trump – who has long vowed to “solve the problem” of North Korea – to threaten to cut commerce with countries doing business with Pyongyang.

The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea.

That suggestion was slammed by China, North Korea’s biggest trading partner, which called it “unacceptable” and “unfair.”

The US is also due to present a North Korean sanctions resolution at the UN, and is aiming for a vote to take place in a week, AFP reported on Monday.

Also on Monday, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said it was time for the Security Council to impose “the strongest possible measures” on North Korea over its sixth and largest nuclear test, because “enough is enough.”

Haley said the sanctions approach towards Pyongyang since 2006 has not worked, and accused North Korean leader Kim Jong-un of “begging for war.”

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that sanctions will not dissuade North Korea, and that “ramping up military hysteria in such conditions is senseless; it’s a dead end.

“It could lead to a global, planetary catastrophe and a huge loss of human life. There is no other way to solve the North Korean nuclear issue, save that of peaceful dialogue.”

China, for its part, urged North Korea on Monday to “stop taking actions that are wrong, deteriorating the situation, and not in line with its own interests either and truly return to the track of resolving the issue through dialogue.”

It called on all parties to “seriously consider” the double-freeze plan proposed by China and Russia and “actively respond to it.”

The plan, which would see Pyongyang suspend its nuclear and missile tests in exchange for a halt in joint US-South Korean military drills, was previously rejected by Washington.

Han’s Tuesday comments aren’t the first time that North Korea has referred to its actions as a “gift” for the United States.

In July, Pyongyang also warned of more “gift packages,” after it launched a missile test on Independence Day in what it dubbed a “gift” for the “American bastards.”

Courtesy, RT

‘Overwhelming force’: South Korea conducts bombing drill in response to Pyongyang’s missile test

‘Overwhelming force’: South Korea conducts bombing drill in response to Pyongyang’s missile test
Demonstrating its “overwhelming” military force to North Korea, South Korea conducted bombing drills just hours after Pyongyang launched what appeared to be an intermediate range ballistic missile that reportedly fell in Japanese waters.

The show of force, ordered by South Korean president Moon Jae-in, involved four F15K fighter jets dropping MK84 multipurpose bombs on a shooting range near the inter-Korean border in Taebaek, the presidential press secretary told reporters, according to Yonhap.

Moon’s chief press secretary, Yoon Young-chan, said the bombing drill was ordered immediately after the National Security Council meeting convened to discuss possible counter measures Seoul could take against Pyongyang’s ballistic missile provocation.

“We assessed North Korea’s provocations as extremely severe and decided to maintain a vigilant posture in preparation for the possibility of additional provocations by North Korea,” the chief of the National Security Council added.

Shortly after the NSC meeting, South Korea’s national security director, Chung Eui-yong called president Donald Trump’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster to discuss the incident, Yonhap reports. During the conversation, McMaster noted that “president Donald Trump has fully supported Mr. Moon’s policy toward North Korea and the Korean government’s response to North Korean provocations.”

South Korea’s foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha, has meanwhile discussed the incident with the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. The diplomats agreed to pursue additional UN sanctions against Pyongyang, Yonhap reported.

The UN Security Council is reportedly scheduled to meet Tuesday, but the time of the meeting has not yet been confirmed.

“South Korea, the US, and Japan jointly requested the UNSC hold an emergency meeting to address an emergence of threats to the peace and security,” an official at S. Korea’s foreign ministry, told Yonhap.

READ MORE: Germany supports Russian-Chinese ‘double freeze’ plan for North Korea crisis – FM Gabriel

Both Russia and China supported the last round of UN Security Council sanctions against Pyongyang – although Moscow and Beijing have been offering their own roadmap out of the crisis. The “double freezing” Chinese-Russian initiative, welcomed by Germany but firmly rejected by Washington, proposes that North Korea stops its ballistic missile and nuclear activities while the US and its allies simultaneously halt their war games in the region.

As South Korea responded to Pyongyang’s latest provocation, the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) staged a pre-planned Patriot surface-to-air missile battery training exercise.