2 April 2013, 21:22

US calls China, Russia to do more to restrain N. Korea

The United States on Tuesday called on China and Russia to do more to rein in North Korea, after Pyongyang announced it would restart a nuclear reactor to feed its atomic weapons program.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the North's decision to reopen its Yongbyon reactor - its source of weapons-grade plutonium - was "another indication" of Pyongyang "violating its international obligations."

UN chief says North Korea crisis has gone too far

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday that a crisis over North Korea had gone too far.

Speaking at a news conference in Andorra, where he was on an official visit, the U.N. chief said negotiations were the only way to solve the problem.

South Korea concerned with North Korea’s nuclear plans

South Korea’s high-ranking officials are very concerned with North Korea’s plans to resume work at the Yongbyon nuclear center.

This is what a representative of South Korea’s Foreign Ministry Cho Tai-young said at a press conference on Tuesday.

He added that Seoul is calling on Pyongyang to remember its earlier promises to eliminate nuclear weapons.

South Korea’s authorities are closely watching the events in North Korea, Mr. Cho says.

Earlier on Tuesday, North Korea declared that it was resuming work at its 5-megawatt nuclear reactor in Yongbyon that were stopped in October 2007.

Voice of Russia, Reuters, Interfax, TASS

Pyongyang pledges to restart Yongbyon facilities

Andrey Fedyashin, Alexei Lyakhov

North Korea said on Tuesday that it will resume all facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear complex. The statement, made by a spokesman for the General Department of Atomic Energy, said that it would adjust and alter the uses of the existing nuclear facilities including the Yongbyon uranium enrichment plant and the 5-megawatt graphite-moderated reactor.

 

The Yongbyon reactor is North Korea’s only facility where it can produce military plutonium. In 2007 Pyongyang shut down the reactor after the first 50,000-ton load of fuel aid had arrived there from Russia, US, China and South Korea as part of the agreement to halt North Korean uranium enrichment program.

Since then Pyongyang has repeatedly threatened to resume its nuclear facilities in order to get fuel or financial aid from abroad. Nowadays the situation is repeating amid mounting tension between the two Koreas.

Pyongyang’s reaction to new UN sanctions was tough. The recent “Foal Eagle” war games conducted by the US and South Korea with the use of B-52 and B-2 heavy bombers have turned Pyongyang even more aggressive.

Last Friday Kim Jong Un signed the so-called ‘US mainland strike plan’ which among its targets names Washington, California, Hawaii, as well as some objects in South Korea in case any provocation takes place. Pyongyang cut its military hotline with the South and declared a ‘state of war’ with Seoul. It also declared the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War void.

Washington did not take North Korean threats seriously. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that it would be unwise to discuss any possibility of a preemptive attack on Pyongyang.

On April 1 Pyongyang hosted an annual spring parliamentary session to pass the decree “On consolidating the position of nuclear weapons state for self-defense”, as well as a bill to set up a state-run space exploration agency. Although no further details have been revealed, it is clear that Pyongyang wants to boost its nuclear capacity and space exploration industry. 

Some Russian experts say that interpreting Pyongyang`s threats only as part of blackmail to received a new load of rice or fuel is a simplified approach to the issue. Konstantin Asmolov, analyst with the Korean department at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies, comments.

"It is believed that Pyongyang uses threats to received more aid from abroad. But I would like to say that as soon as North Korea faces no more sanctions and it is no longer a rogue state it won`t have to ask for help. A change of status is what the country needs most of all now."

 US experts doubt that North Korea will manage to produce long-range rocketsdesigned to carry warheads to the US. Nevertheless, the US has sent its USS Fitzgerald with the Aegis Missile Defense System on board to the South Korean coast to defend against a possible missile strike from the North. 

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