Wednesday, December 07, 2005

In the last few days the USA has finally been getting tough on North Korea and they (the North Koreans) are pissed about it. the next few articles are what has happened in the last few days.

U.S. Envoy Calls Pyongyang a ‘Criminal Regime’
U.S. Ambassador to Korea Alexander Vershbow on Wednesday made international headlines by calling the North Korean government a “criminal regime.” Vershbow made the remark at the Kwanhun Club, a gathering of senior South Korean journalists, when the subject of North Korea's alleged currency counterfeiting came up.

Vershbow said North Korea’s was the first regime involved in government-sponsored currency counterfeiting “since Adolf Hitler.” Candid criticism of North Korea from a U.S. diplomat here is rare in a public forum. It was Vershbow’s first meeting with the press since he took office in October. U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Alexander Vershbow speaks during a forum hosted by the Kwanhun Club, a gathering of senior Korean journalists, in Seoul on Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Ban Ki-moon urged caution, saying countries involved in six-party talks on the North’s nuclear program “need to exercise restraint in the words they choose to describe each other." At the meeting, Vershbow’s position diverged widely from Seoul’s on such issues as international recognition of the North Korean regime, human rights and counterfeiting.

Asked about U.S. sanctions on North Korean firms for their alleged involvement in various criminal activities, Vershbow said, “This is a criminal regime, and you can’t somehow remove sanctions as a political gesture when this regime is engaging in dangerous activities such as weapons exports to rogue states.” North Korea has warned it could stay away from six-party talks unless the sanctions are lifted. Vershbow added the measures were taken under U.S. law and were non-negotiable. Seoul, by contrast, has suggested Pyongyang and Washington solve the problem in bilateral meetings.

The envoy expressed hope an international conference on North Korea’s human rights abuses that starts in Seoul on Thursday will not be a political platform but a chance to find a strategy for real change in the lives of North Koreans. Vershbow is taking part in the conference. Asked about the South Korean government’s attitude toward human rights in the North, he said South Korea and the U.S. had the same goal even if their approach was different, adding he got the impression from talks with South Korean officials and lawmakers that they are concerned about the issue.

In more conciliatory remarks, commenting on North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, Vershbow said though a leader made mistakes, he could still bring about change. If North Korea changes, the U.S. is ready to reassess its own stance on the North, he added.

Unification Minister Offers Outline for Dealings With N.Korea

Unification Minister Chung Dong-young said Monday, “Non-nuclear complaints by the United States against North Korea should be solved by bilateral talks between the two parties. As the six-party talks focus on resolving the nuclear issue, other matters should be kept separate from the six-party issue.”

Chung told a forum during a breakfast hour lecture at the Lotte Hotel in Seoul, “Major non-nuclear complaints fall into six categories, the most important of which is the North's missile program, others include biochemical and conventional weapons and human rights abuses, as well as its alleged involvement in drug trafficking and currency counterfeiting.”

Regarding a deepening row between Washington and Pyongyang over financial sanctions imposed by Washington, he said, “I had anticipated such setbacks, but they came a bit too early. The Six-party talks may seem to have ended up lost in an impenetrable fog, but it is still early to jump to conclusions.”

My friend Gi in Korea made this remark about the above story..

Does Chung have a cell phone with a direct line to Kim Jong Il to tell him what to do? This guy wastes no time jumping to North Korea's defense. Chung is really a useful idiot for the Norks. First he cares little about North Korean defectors or human rights and now he thinks that North Korea's illegal activities should be overlooked in the name of the six way talks that are accomplishing absolutely nothing.

I am continuing to believe that the US has finally hit the North Koreans where it hurts by sanctioning the Macau bank. I have never seen them whine this bad and get Chung to jump to their defense this quick. Hopefully the US will keep the pressure.

Then to the 2 items that started this whole intresting turn.

U.S. Stops Buying Food for N.Korea

Washington has halted the purchase of 25,000 tons of food aid it had pledged for North Korea this year, half its total commitment, saying it has no way of making sure where the aid goes.

The U.S. State Department said Thursday it was uncertain whether the UN World Food Program would receive the shipment, while there was also no mechanism left to ensure that the food gets to those who need it. As a result, the U.S. did not even buy the 25,000 tons scheduled to be shipped at the end of November.

The U.S. Agency for International Development had previously warned Washington would stop its food aid if North Korean authorities insist on an end to all monitoring of food aid distribution by the WFP.

Since North Korea demanded an end to humanitarian aid work and the withdrawal of aid groups from the country, the WFP has been negotiating about the scale of next year's relief efforts, the number of foreign residents who can stay in North Korea, and the conditions for the development aid Pyongyang now says it wants instead.

Gi in Korea added this: I know I probably sound harsh, but I don't think the US should give food to North Korea without proper monitoring. I can see people possibly trying to twist this issue making the US out to be the bad guy, but North Korea could easily get the food aid if they allow monitors in to ensure proper distribution. I don't think the US should feel obligated to send food to a country that is most likely giving that food to the military and regime elements.

If Kim Jong II has enough money to build nuclear weapons he has enough money to buy food for his people, or he can just go to Plan B and extort the South Koreans to buy the food for him. I hope President Roh has checkbook ready.

The next article is when the S%$# really hit the fan.

N.Korea-U.S. Relations Enter New Chill Over Sanctions

There are fears for the future of six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program as the relationship between the Stalinist country and the U.S. deteriorated after Washington slapped sanctions on a Macau-based bank for allegedly being the main funnel for the North ill-gotten gains. Some observers also worry about a resulting chill in inter-Korean relations.

Washington last week declined to negotiate on the sanctions it imposed on the bank and on North Korean firms, mainly fueled by suspicions that the North counterfeited U.S. currency. North Korea in response called off a visit by its deputy foreign minister, Kim Kye-gwan, to New York.

On Friday night, North Korea’s foreign ministry said the U.S. must unfreeze the companies’ assets and lift the ban on transactions with the bank before the six-party talks can make progress. The official Rodong Sinmun newspaper the same day called the U.S. “the world’s worst human rights abuser.” It also slammed as a “fabrication” footage of a public execution in North Korea broadcast by cable channel CNN, according to the North’s official KCNA news agency.

A few hours after the statements, the U.S. chief negotiator at the talks Christopher Hill told AP, "We can't just sit there stalemated session after stalemated session.” He added, "I don't want to threaten walkouts, but I do want to see progress."

According to Japan’s Sankei Shimbun, North Korea has told the U.S. it will not return to the six-party talks until the sanctions are lifted. A South Korean official denied this, but the situation augurs ill for relations between the two Koreas. An inter-Korean ministerial meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13-16 in Jeju Island, and a South Korean official said he worried whether the meeting will take place at all, and whether it will run into problems if it does.

Gi Korea added this...

The North Koreans are masters of nasty rhetoric, but something seems different this time. It seems like the US has finally struck a nerve with the North Koreans. This is good because it is increasing the bargaining position of the US.

The North Koreans have been getting away with counterfeiting US currency for too long. Have you ever wondered why the US $20 bill seems to change every year? It is because of the skilled North Korean counterfeiters. The next thing that can be done to further increase the pressure on the North Koreans is if the Japanese stop boat traffic between the two countries that is used to bring in hard currency to North Korea through the drug trade and other underworld activities. Finally the US is taking the kid gloves off, but there is still a lot more to do.

I like what US negotiator Christopher Hill had to say about this issue:

A few hours after the statements, the U.S. chief negotiator at the talks Christopher Hill told AP, "We can't just sit there stalemated session after stalemated session.” He added, "I don't want to threaten walkouts, but I do want to see progress."

I'm sure Hill realizes this, but most of the countries involved in the talks want to keep things at a stalemate becauses the status quo is more acceptable to their own interests, that is why the US has to break the status quo and shake things up if the US hopes to see any progress.

So you have to ask yourself a question? If the USA is wrong like NK and others have stated, then why is NK throwing a huge fit?

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