Thursday, July 22, 2010

DTN News: North Korea Condemns US Sanctions, Naval Drills

Defense News: DTN News: North Korea Condemns US Sanctions, Naval Drills
Source: DTN News / AFP
(NSI News Source Info) HANOI - July 23, 2010: North Korea on Thursday condemned imminent US-South Korea naval exercises as a threat to global peace as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Vietnam for Asia-Pacific security talks.
A spokesman for the North Korean delegation at the talks in Hanoi also dismissed fresh US sanctions against the isolated regime for its alleged sinking of a South Korean warship, saying they violated a UN statement.
"Such movements pose a great threat not only to the peace and security of the Korean peninsula but also to global peace and security," the spokesman, Ri Tong Il, told reporters.
"If the US is truly interested in the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula, it must take the lead in creating an atmosphere (for dialogue) rather than... staging military exercises or imposing sanctions."
The nuclear-armed North has warned of war if it is punished over the sinking of the Cheonan in the Yellow Sea in March with the loss of 46 lives, an incident that has sharply raised tensions on the peninsula.
The United States says its naval exercises starting Sunday and involving an aircraft carrier, destroyers and thousands of troops are meant as a "deterrence" against North Korean "aggression".
In Washington State Department spokesman Philip Crowley rejected North Korea's accusations that the drills were a provocation and said Pyongyang was the real threat to regional peace.
Clinton said the sanctions were designed to pile pressure on the Pyongyang leadership and not aimed at the North Korean people, "who have suffered too long due to the misguided and malign priorities of their government".
State Department officials said Clinton would ask Beijing to do more to wring change from its ally North Korea during bilateral talks with China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in Hanoi.
The two are expected to meet Friday on the sidelines of the 27-member ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the Asia-Pacific's biggest security dialogue.
Crowley has said Clinton would ask Yang to look at additional steps to pressure North Korea to stop what Clinton called its "destabilising, illicit and provocative policies".
South Korea, the United States and other nations -- citing the findings of a multinational investigation -- have accused the North of sending a submarine to torpedo the ship.
Pyongyang angrily denies the allegations and China has not blamed its communist ally.
Daniel Pinkston, Northeast Asia analyst for the International Crisis Group think-tank, said China's cooperation in implementing any new sanctions on the North would be "absolutely crucial".
Friction over the sinking of the corvette has tested already strained relations between Washington and Beijing, which froze military ties with the United States in January over arms sales to Taiwan.
The UN condemned the Cheonan incident as a threat to peace, expressed concern at the findings of the investigation but noted the North's denial and did not apportion blame -- a result hailed as a "victory" in Pyongyang.
China has also warned Washington and Seoul against the exercises.
A draft ARF declaration expresses "deep concern" over the Cheonan incident and supports the July 9 UN statement, without blaming the North or acknowledging the probe that found it responsible for the alleged attack.
It also calls for the resumption of six-party talks on North Korean disarmament -- an idea already floated by Pyongyang but rejected by Seoul and Washington unless the North demonstrates sincerity.
"North Korea must show genuine willingness and make progress in denuclearisation before the six-party talks can take place," South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-Hwan said.
The countries involved in the stalled talks -- China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States -- will be represented at the ARF but officials expect little progress will be made on resuming the dialogue.
Clinton also voiced concerns over suspected exports of military equipment from North Korea to junta-ruled Myanmar.
Washington fears growing military ties between the states after a report that the Southeast Asian nation has begun a nuclear weapons programme with Pyongyang's help.

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