News

    North Korea Warns Against Criticism at Nuclear Security Summit

    U.S. President Barack Obama, left, shakes hands with his South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-bak during a joint press conference following their meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, March 25, 2012.
    U.S. President Barack Obama, left, shakes hands with his South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-bak during a joint press conference following their meeting at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Sunday, March 25, 2012.

    Only days before the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea began, North Korea issued a stern warning not to criticize its nuclear program, saying through its state media that any inclusion of it in a statement would be a "declaration of war."

    Such threats from Pyongyang are not uncommon. North Korea often warns of war when it is facing international criticism. Now, there is growing concern about Pyongyang's plan to carry out a missile launch next month, only weeks after it appeared to have agreed to end such tests.

    Analysts say that although North Korea likely will be on the agenda at the Nuclear Summit, it is unclear what role it will play in the main discussions.

    Richard Bush, director of the Center for North East Asia Policy Studies at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, says that although North Korea’s warning will be regarded as a firing of "empty cannons," it is likely that Pyongyang will find its way into the summit's concluding statement because it "fits the interest of the host government [i.e., Seoul]."

    Abraham Denmark, Asia-Pacific security advisor at the Center for Naval Analyses outside Washington, says Pyongyang will not be overlooked.  "North Korea represents the greatest challenge to the stability of Northeast Asia, and will rightfully be a top issue for leaders to discuss at the summit," he says.  "In fact, North Korea's bellicosity and its recent behavior makes it all the more an appropriate subject for discussion."

    In addition to its threat of war, Pyongyang recently said it plans to launch a satellite next month.  The announcement came shortly after North Korea agreed in February to suspend nuclear tests, long-range ballistic missile launches and other nuclear-related activities.

    Despite its insistence that the satellite launch is "scientific" in nature, the United States and other nations say it is being used to test North Korea's ballistic missile capabilities.

    Georgetown University political scientist Balbina Hwang says the leaders' statement at the summit should reflect the content of the talks.  "Including truthful statements about North Korea, whether or not it displeases North Korea," she says.

    At the last Nuclear Security Summit two years ago, North Korea was not mentioned in the final communiqué.  And the reclusive communist state received only minor attention on the sidelines of the meeting.  During that summit, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak invited then-North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to attend this year's summit in Seoul, if Pyongyang agreed to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

    That did not happen, and the North Korean leader died last December.  This year's summit comes at a time when there is much uncertainty about North Korea, which is in the midst of a leadership transition.

    For many analysts, North Korea's rhetoric fits an old pattern.  The threat of war and plans for a missile launch are a reflection of domestic politics in North Korea, says Abe Denmark.  "Pyongyang is still establishing modes of behavior and decision making after the death of Kim Jong Il.  And it appears that leadership transition dynamics are being expressed in its foreign policy," he says.

    Balbina Hwang says the satellite launch and agreement in February, while contradictory, are part of Pyongyang's tactics to draw fine lines of separation between its provocative activities.

    "Although the U.S. government position is that a satellite launch was covered under the February 29 moratorium, the North Koreans are clearly trying to test that proposition in the arena of international opinion," she says.  "It is also a clever way for North Korea to throw the ball back into the U.S. court, as now, if the deal falls apart, the North Koreans can blame U.S. action or inaction, as the case may be."

    Analyst Richard Bush agrees that Pyongyang's actions might be part of a pattern, but that they also might have been a miscalculation that the United States would accept its claim that a missile test and satellite launch are different.

    "Pyongyang may also have been trying to influence the April South Korea National Assembly elections," Bush says.  "And I am sure that Pyongyang is annoyed enough that it is South Korea that is hosting this high-profile conference."

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora