The nuclear-powered USS Nimitz has anchored off the South Korean’s port of Busan on Saturday. The ship will take part in search and rescue operations and sea maneuvers from Monday to Tuesday off the country’s eastern coast, the South Korean Defense Ministry announced.Pyongyang’s cross-border affairs ministry branded the deployment as a “grave military provocation” that would heighten tension in the Korean Peninsula.”The joint naval drill involving the latest weaponry including the nuclear aircraft carrier is a wanton blackmail against us and demonstrates… that their attempt to invade us has reached an extremely reckless level,” the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement on Saturday night.The Carrier Strike Group Eleven, of which Nimitz is the flagship, includes eight warships (including the aircraft carrier itself), four surface action group destroyers and three escort ships. Nimitz also has 64 combat aircraft stationed on board.The group’s commander, Rear Admiral Mike White, said the arrival was scheduled and not a response to the period of heightened tension in the region. “This is not a response to any particular event, but part of our continuous engagement, much like we shared for 60 years,” he said.The US and its military ally South Korea conduct over a dozen joint military drills annually, some of which include tens of thousands of troops and some of world’s most powerful military hardware. Currently, a joint anti-submarine warfare exercise is underway in the Yellow Sea.North Korea regularly denounces such war games as provocative, claiming they are cover for a possible attack. The latest exercise, during which the US deployed its nuclear-capable stealth bombers, was met with a flurry of threats from Pyongyang, which said it would use its nuclear arsenal against American and South Korean troops if attacked.Washington is flexing its military might in response to North Korea’s third nuclear test in February. The move was condemned internationally, and led to the UN Security Council issuing new sanctions against Pyongyang.However, North Korea insists that it needs nuclear weapons to defend its national sovereignty from Washington and Seoul, and defies the UNSC’s resolutions requiring it to halt development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology. …
Two Musudan missiles, capable of hitting targets 2,500 miles away, were withdrawn from a launch site in the eastern part of the country and moved to a storage facility, several US officials who chose to remain anonymous told the media. The US, which considers Korean missile program as a threat to its national security in parts of the Pacific Ocean, has confirmed that the weapons have now been relocated, a defense official told AFP. The news comes soon after Seoul and Washington kicked-off on Monday a five-day anti-submarine drill in the Yellow Sea with the presence of nuclear-powered forces, military officials told Yonhap news agency. The US mobilized a nuclear-powered Los Angeles-class submarine, Aegis destroyers and maritime surveillance aircrafts to join South Korean destroyers, submarines and maritime aircrafts. A 7,000-ton Nimitz-class nuclear powered super carrier is expected to join the training. The latest set of drills follow the completion of the two-month-long Foal Eagle exercise, which caused the recent escalation of tension between the North and South, as Pyongyang repeatedly threatened to unleash its missiles on the South and its allies. North Korea warned against the anti-submarine exercises on Saturday, calling for an end to “hostile acts and military provocations” while threatening closure of the Kaesong complex, the only joint industrial zone and the only communication channel between two Koreas.Until last month, the industrial zone employed more than 53,000 North Korean workers and hundreds of South Korean managers. The factory gradually began halting operations amid the escalations of hostility followed by the withdrawal of North Koreans working for the 123 South Korean firms in Kaesong park. South Korean officials criticized their neighbor on Monday for linking defense maneuvers to joint projects.“It is inappropriate that the North is demanding the cancellation of South Korea-US joint drills by linking it with the Kaesong Industrial Complex,” S. Korean defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said in a briefing.“As long as the North maintains its hostile stance, the joint drills will continue,” Kim said. The developments come as South Korean President Park Geun-hye began a six-day official trip to the US on Sunday, where he plans to focus on the North Korean missile program. Since the beginning of the two-month joint military exercise between Seoul and Washington in February, the North has issued a number of alarming threats against the South and the United States, including a threat to conduct another nuclear test and a ballistic missile launch. The escalation of threats from the North also followed introduction of stricter UN sanctions against Pyongyang following the completion of its third underground nuclear test in February. …
North Korea threatens ‘merciless’ nuclear strike… 04/04/2013 06:25 CET
U.S. talks down North Korean threats of war 02/04/2013 05:45 CET
South Koreans react to North Korea UN sanctions 08/03/2013 08:45 CET
North Korea moves more missile launchers to its east… 21/04/2013 10:15 CET
South Korean workers leave Kaesong 17/04/2013 12:14 CET
The last seven South Korean workers left the Kaesong industrial complex in North Korea on May 3 — and with them went the final channel of communication between the two Koreas.
Now silent, Kaesong was a bustling hub, comprising and employing thousands of workers from the North.
Hong Yang-ho, the Chairman of the Kaesong Industrial District Management Committee, said he hoped it would open again: “I’ve repeatedly emphasised in the process of negotiations with North Korea, that the Kaesong industrial complex should be normalised as soon as possible — so that our companies in the complex will minimise the damage and the factories can operate again.”
Angered by UN sanctions and joint US-South Korean military drills, North Korea has repeatedly threatened its neighbour with attack.
Just north of the heavily fortified border between the two Koreas, Kaesong’s operations have been increasingly blocked by Pyongyang.
The now-defunct project was launched in 2000 in a bid to improve ties between the two Koreas.
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South Korean news agencies are reporting that electronics giant Samsung experienced a toxic gas leak at a manufacturing facility in Hwaseong. Yet another dent in Samsung's increasingly blighted safety record, the resulting gaseous hydrofluoric acid leak injured at least three employees. The severity of those injuries is unknown. …
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is calling for North Korea to grant an amnesty for the immediate release of a Korean-American sentenced to 15 years hard labor for “hostile acts” against the state.The 44-year-old Kenneth Bae is at least the sixth American detained in North Korea since 2009. The others eventually were deported or released without serving out their terms, some after trips to Pyongyang by prominent Americans, including former presidents.Analysts say Bae’s sentencing could be an effort by Pyongyang to win diplomatic concessions in the ongoing standoff over its nuclear program.State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said Thursday the U.S. was still seeking to learn the facts of the case. He said the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, which handles consular matters there for the U.S., did not attend Tuesday’s trial.Continue Reading… …
Bae, who was referred to throughout the trial as Pae-Jun-ho, the Korean iteration of his name, was first detained in November and could have been executed for the charge that he conspired to overthrow the government. It’s been previously reported Bae, who is said to be a devout Christian, entered North Korea legally and often worked to feed starving children in the isolated country. He attended the University of Oregon and previously worked as a tour operator in the US. The news was first reported by state media before being confirmed by Reuters and other Western outlets.The exact nature of his supposed crimes is not known, but Bae was arrested in Rason, a special economic zone in North Korea bordering Russia and China, according to the Associated Press. The verdict comes after North Korea has spent weeks threatening to reignite its nuclear reactors and begin development of an atomic weapon. Korean Central News Agency, the state media outlet, reported last week that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had gathered incriminating evidence against Bae. “In the process of the investigation he admitted that he committed crimes aimed to topple to DPRK with hostility toward it,” it reported. “His crimes were proved by evidence.”Bae’s detention is widely seen as posturing from North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong-un. “For North Korea, Bae is a bargaining chip in dealing with the US,” Koh Yu-hwan, a professor of North Korean Studies in Seoul, South Korea, told the AP. “The North will use him in a way that helps bring the US toward talks when the mood slowly turns to dialogue.”Two American journalists were arrested in North Korea in 2009 and sentenced to hard labor for trespassing and hostile acts. After they were held for four months, former US president Bill Clinton traveled to Pyongyang to negotiate their release with former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il. Including Laura Ling and Euna Lee, the two journalists, Bae is the sixth American to be apprehended in North Korea since 2009; the others were released or deported. …
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US and China pledge to work for nuclear-free Korea 13/04/2013 18:35 CET
South Korea and the United States have completed a series of joint military drills.
The two-month-long ‘Foal Eagle’ exercise involved thousands of air, ground and naval personal.
The military movements along with fresh UN sanctions have infuriated North Korea and led to increased tension on the Korean peninsula.
A spokesperson for the South Korean Defense Ministry said:
“South Korea and the US will continue to observe North Korea’s possible provocations including the missile launches and other movements.”
After weeks of threats from Pyongyang it appears that a situation of relative calm has returned to the region.
Still a joint US-South Korean
summit in Washington in May could well lead to a further bout of bellicose rhetoric from the North.
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