FEATURED PHOTOS AND STORIES

Friday:  August 15, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

HUM HUMOR

"CLIMATE CHANGE: EVERYWHERE"

CARTOON: Peter Broelman, Australia/BROELMAN.com.au) "HILLARY ROUND THE WORLD"

(CARTOON: Taylor Jones/Politicalcartoons.com)

"HOW THE MIGHTY FALL"

(CARTOON: Michael Ramirez/Weekly Standard)

COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES
WORLD CLOCKS
   
San Marino     Mongolia
   
Vancouver     Ghana
"THE GIRL EFFECT" - VIDEO

Advertisement

 

HUM SEARCH
@HUMNEWS ON TWITTER

`SUPPORT-A-REPORTER'

 Follow Me on Pinterest  Folo us on Pinterest.

Read some exciting news about our founder and FFI, here: http://bit.ly/12GJyXs

Are you a Global Citizen?Join us on GlobalCitizen.org to help end extreme poverty.

TRANSLATE HUMNEWS

THE HUM - OUR DAILY EMAIL OF WORLD HEADLINES
MY HUMPLANET

Do you have your eye on the world? Help us expand the global perspective and tell the stories that shape it.  SHARE what's happening locally, globally wherever you are, however you can. Upload your news, videos, pictures & articles HERE & we'll post them on  MY HUM PLANET CONNECT.  Learn something NEWS every day! THX

Advertisement

HUM BOOKS: Focus on FRIENDSHIP
  • Friendship in an Age of Economics: Resisting the Forces of Neoliberalism
    Friendship in an Age of Economics: Resisting the Forces of Neoliberalism
    by Todd May
  • Friends to the End: The True Value of Friendship
    Friends to the End: The True Value of Friendship
    by Bradley Trevor Greive
  • Friendship as a Way of Life: Foucault, AIDS, and the Politics of Shared Estrangement
    Friendship as a Way of Life: Foucault, AIDS, and the Politics of Shared Estrangement
    by Tom Roach
HUM SOCIAL GOOD

Learn more and join us here!

HUMNEWS SOCIAL MEDIA

  Look for HUMNEWS in the News Section of PULSE @www.pulse.me. For iPad, iPhone & Android-recently launched on deck for Samsung’s Galaxy tab.

Advertisement

HUM TWITTER FEEDS
10000 Women 9/11 9-11 92Y ABC News Abdel Futuh Abdoulaye Wade abductions Abidjan Abuja abyei Acapulco ACS Action Against Hunger ADB Adivasi Adjara adolescents Afghanistan Africa Africa Fashion Week Africa Human Development Report African Wax AFRICOM agriculture agrochemical Ahmad Ashkar Ai Weiwei aid Aid Effectiveness aid work aid workers AIDS Air Canada Air France airlines Aisha Gaddafi Alain Juppe Alan Fisher Alassane Ouattara Albania Albanians Alexandria Algeria Alina Vrejoiu Alliance of Small Island States al-Qaeda Amama Mbaba Amazon American Samoa Americas Amina Filali Amnesty International Amr Moussa ANC Andaman Islands Andes Andorra Angelina Jolie angola Anguilla Anna Hazare Ansar Dine Antarctica Antigua & Barbuda Antonio Guterres Antonio Patriota apartheid Apple Arab Spring Aral Sea Arctic Argentina Armenia Art Aruba ascetism ASEAN ASEM Asia Asia Pacific Asia Society Asian Development Bank Asylum Asylum-seekers Augusto Pinochet Aung San Suu Kyi Aurora Borealis Australia Autism Azawad Azerbaijan baby trafficking Baghdad Bahamas Bahrain Balkans Balthasar Garzon Baluchistan Ban Ki-moon Bangalore Bangkok BANGLADESH Barack Obama Barbados Bashar Assad Bashir Bashir al-Assad bats Beijing belarus Belgium BELIZE Belo Monte Benghazi Benin Berlusconi Bermuda Bettina Borgfeld Beyonce Bhutan Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation BILL GATES Bill McKibben bio fuel Bishkek Bitter Seeds black jails Boko Haram Bolivia Bono books Bosco Ntaganda Bosnia Bosnia-Herzegovina Botswana Bouthaina Kamel BRAC Brazil Brazilian government Brian Williams BRICS Britain British Indian Ocean Territory British Indian Territory British Virgin Islands broadband Bron Villet Bruce Springsteen Brunei Brunei Darussalam Bruno Pellaud Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burma Burundi Business Cairo Cambodia Cameroon Campesino Campesinos sin Terra Canada cancer Cape Town Cape Verde Carbon CARE Caribbean CARICOM Carlos Enrigue Garcia Gonzalez Carlos Travassos Cartagena Casablanca Catherine Ashton Catholic Relief Services Cayman Islands CBS Central Africa Central African Republic Central America Central Asia CGI Chad Charles Feeney Chernobyl Child Labor child labour child marriage child soldiers Children chile China China's Communist Party Chinese farmers Chocolate cholera Cholpan Nogoibaeva Christiane Amanpour Christianity Christmas Island CIDA CItigroup Citizen Ciudad Jarez climate climate change Clinton CLMV Countries cluster munitions CNN Cocos Island coffee Colombia Columbia University Commission for Africa Committee on World Food Security Committee To Protect Journalists commodities Commonwealth community-based organizations Comoros conflict Congo Congolese conservation consumer Contas River Contraception Cook Islands COP17 corruption Costa Rica Cote D'Ivoire cotton Council on Foreign Relations coup Cover The Night CPJ credit Crime Crimes Against Humanity crisis Croatia Cuba culture cyclone Cyprus Dadaab Dakar Damon Runyon Dan Lashof Dan Toole Darfur David Bernet David Von Kittelberger DDenmark Dear Kara Delhi democracy Democratic Republic of Congo demonstrations Dengue Fever Denmark dennis fentie Department of State depression Deraa Desmond Tutu developing countries development Diabetes Dilma Rousseff Disaster Risk disasters discrimination disease Diwali Djibouti Doctors without Borders Dominica Dominican Republic Dominique Strauss-Kahn DPKO DPRK Dr. Judy Dr. Judy Kuriansky Dr. Mark Welch Dr. William Gray DRC DRINKS drought Drug war Drugs Dubai Duncan McCargo Earth Hour Earthquake East Africa East Timor Easter Island Eastern Europe ECHO economy ECOSOC ECOWAS Ecuador Education Egypt Eid Eirene El Alto EL SALVADOR El Trabajo de Crecer Election elections electricity Elizabeth Okoro Ellen Johnson SIrleaf Emerging emerging markets energy Energy4All enough project environment Environmental Defense Fund equality Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia ethnic cleansing EU Eurasia EurasiaNet Europe European Union expats explosion Facebook Falkland Islands famine FAO FARC farmers Farming Faroe Islands FASHION Father Wismick Jean Charles Federated States of Micronesia Feeding America Felipe Calderon Femicide Fernando Lugo Festival FGM FIFA Fiji Fiji Islands Films finance Finland flood floods food food crisis food security Forbes Ford Foundation foreign aid foreign assistance foreign correspondents club of China Foreign Policy Forest Whitaker Foxconn France FRENCH GUIANA French Polynesia fuel Future G20 G8 Gabon Gabriel Elizondo Gaddafi Gambia Gandhi Ganges River Gangs Gao Gauteng Gaza Gbagbo GCC GDP Geena Davis Gender Genetically Modified Food Geneva Genocide George Clooney Georgia Germany Ghana Giants of Broadcasting Gibraltar Girl Effect Girls Giving Pledge Gladstone Harbour Glenn Ashton Global Compact Global Digital Solidarity Fund global food prices Global Fund Global Health Global Malaria Program Globalhealth Globalization GMO's GMO's India Golden Globes Goma Good Samaritan Center Goodluck Jonathan Google grassroots organizations Greece Greed Greenland Greg Mortenson Grenada GRIST GRULAC Guadeloupe Guam Guantanamo Guarani Guatemala Gucci Guinea Gulf of Aden GUYANA Habitat For Humanity Haiti Half the Sky Halloween Hamadoun-Toure Hamid Karzai Happiness Haze health Heglig Helen Wang Hershey hhuman rights Hillary Clinton Hindu HIV HIV/AIDS HIVAIDS Hoffman Hollywood Hollywood Foreign Press Association homosexuality Honduras hookah Horn of Africa Hotel Housing HSBC Hu Jintao Hubble Telescope Hugo Chavez Hult Global Case Challenge HUM Human Impact Institute human rights Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch Film Festival human trafficking Human Unlimited Media Humanitarian humanitarian work HUMmingbirdz Hunger hurricane Hurricane Rina IAEA IAVI Ibrahim Azim ICC Iceland ICG ICRC IHL ILO IMF immigrants Immigration improved cook stoves Imran Garda India Indian Ocean Indians Indigenous Indonesia inequality information infrastructure Innocence of Muslims Innovation INSI International Aid international community International Criminal Court International Crisis Group international development International Human Rights Day International Labour Organization International Maritime Board International Red Cross Internet Internews Interpol investing investment Invisible Children IO IOC IOM IPad IPhone Iran Iraq IRC Ireland irrigation Islam Islamabad Islamic Broadcasting Union Islamic Republic of Iran Islamists Islamophobia Islands Israel Italy ITC ITU Ivory Coast IWD Jamaica Japan Jarvis Island Jason Russell Je Yang Camp Jerusalem Jerusalem Post Jezebel Jim Rogers Jody Williams Johannesburg John McCain John Prendergast JOIDES Resolution Jordan Jose Carlos Meirelles Jose Graziano Da Silva Joseph Kabila Joseph Kony journalism journalists Joyce Banda Jr Judy Kuriansky Julia Gillard Kachin State Kah Walla Kaingang Kano Karachi Karen Attiah Karl Marx Kashmir Kazakhstan kenya Kenya Airways kgb Khaled Said Kidal Kigali Kim Jong-il King Mswati Kiribati Koror Kosovo Kurdistan Workers' Party Kurds Kuwait Kyoto Treaty Kyrgyzstan La Nina Labuje camp Lagos landmines Laos Las Vegas latin america Latvia Laurent Gbagbo Laurie Garrett LDCs Lebanon Leslie Lane Lesotho Lesser Antilles Leyla Qasim LGBT Liberia Libya Liechtenstein Literacy Liu Changlong Liuxiazhuang London London Stock Exchange Louise Arbour LRA LTTE lukasenka LUNCH Luxembourg lybia M23 Macau Macedonia Madagascar Maggie Padlewska Maha Kumbh Mela Mahatma Gandhi Mahmoud Abbas Mahmoud Ahmadinejad malaria Malawi Malaysia maldives Mali malnutrition Malvinas Islands Manuel Zelaya Margaret Chan Marie Claire Marina Cue marine Mark Fitzpatrick Marrakesh Marshall Islands Martin Indyk Martin Luther King Martinique Marwan Bishara Mary Robinson MASERU Mashable Mastercard Foundation maternal health mauritania Mauritius Max Frisch Mayotte MDG Summit MDGs MDG's media Melanesia Melanesian Spearhead Group Memorial Day Memphis Mental Health Mercy Corps Mexican Red Cross mexico Mia Farrow Micha Peled Michael Bociurkiw Michelle Funk Micronesia micronutrient initiative micronutrients Middle East migrants migration Mike Hanna millennium development goals Mine Ban Treaty mining Misogyny Misrata Miss Universe Mississippi river Miyagi MLK Mogadishu Mohamed Cheikh Biadilah Mohammad Nasheed Mohammad Waheed Hassan Moldova Money Mongolia Mongolian Stock Exchange Monsanto Montenegro MONTSERRAT Morocco Mothers Mozambique Mr. Gay World MSF Mswati Mt. Merapi Muammar Gaddafi Mubarak Muhammed Munduruku Murder Musharraf Muslim Brotherhood Mustapha Erramid Myanmar MYUGANDA NAB Nahru Nairobi Namibia NASA Natalie Billon national congress party National Congress Party (NCP) National Democratic Force National Science Foundation NATO Natural Resources Defense Fund Nauru NBC News Nelson Mandella NEMA Nepal Netherlands Antilles Nevada New Caledonia New Jersey New York New Zealand NGO nicaragua Nicholas Kristof Nick Popow Niergai Nigel Fisher Niger Nigeria Nigerian elections Nike Nike Foundation Niue Nobel Nobel Women's Initiative Nokia Non-Aligned Movement North Africa North Kivu North Korea Northern Mexico Norway not on our watch Nuclear nuclear power plant Nutrition NYC OAS Obama OccupyNigeria Ocean Ocean Health Index oceans OCED OCHA OECD OHCHR Ohrid Framework Agreement OIC Oil Olena Sullivan OLPC Olympics Oman Omar al-Bashir Omar Suleiman One Laptop Per Child One Village Planet-Women's Development Initiative Oprah Organization of American States Organization of Islamic Countries Osama bin Laden OSCE Ouattara OXFAM Oxi P-5 Pacific Pacific Institute of Public Policy Pacific Island Forum Pacific Small Island Developing States Pakistan Palau Palestine Palestinian Liberation Organization Palestinians Palocci Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Parana Park Won Soon Paul Giannone Paul Kagame Paul Martin PDP Peace Peacekeepers Peacekeeping PEACEMEAL PEPFAR Perspective Peru philanthropy Philippines Pilay Piracy Pirates Pitcairn PKK PNG Pokuaa Busumru-Banson polio politics pollution Pope Benedict population Pork Port-au-Prince Porto Alegre Portugal poverty President Asif Zardari President Bingu wa Mutharika President Joseph Kabila President Karzai President Lee Myung-bak President Thein Sein Press Freedom Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski Prime Minister Shekh Hasina Wajed Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Prince Zeid protests Proview Puerto Rico Putin Qatar Quetta rainforest Ramadan rape Rarotonga Ray Chambers RC Palmer Red Cross Reduction referendum refugees religion remittances Reporters Without Borders Reproductive Rights Republic of Congo Republic of South Sudan Reunion Island Richard Branson Richard Parsons Richard Pithouse Richmond Rick Steves Rio Branco Rio de Janeiro Rio Grande do Sul RIO+20 Robert Mugabe Robinah Alambuya Romania Ronit Avi Room to Read Rousseff Rowan Jacobsen Roxy Marosa Royal Air Maroc Russell Daisey Russia Rwanda S-5 SACMEQ sacsis Sahel Sahel NOW Saint Helena Island Salafists Saliem Fakir Salva Kiir Salvador Dali Samoa San Marino sanctions Sanitation Saudi Arabia Save the Children Savvy Traveller Scenarios From the Sahel ScenariosUSA security Security Council Senegal Senetable Seoul Serbia Sergio Vieira de Mello Seth Berkley sex trafficking Sexism sexual abuse Seychelles Sharia Sharks Shashi Tharoor Shirley Wessels shisha Shreeya Sinha Shrein Dewani Sierra Leone Sindh Singapore Skype Slovakia Slovenia smoking Social Good Summit social development social media Solar Solar Panels SolarAid Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South America South China Sea South Kordofan South Korea South Pacific South Sudan Southeast Asia Southern Kordofan Southern Sudan South-South cooperation South-Sudan Southwest Farm Press Soweto Soya Spain SPLA sports Sri Lanka St . Vincent & The Grenadines St Lucia St. Kitts and Nevis St. Maarten St. Vincent and the Grenadines Stand Up For Peace Project starvation statelessness steel StopRape Students Sub-Saharan Africa sudan sudan people's liberation movement Summitt of the Americas Superstorm Sandy Surfing SURINAME Sustainable development Svalbard Svalbard & Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syria Tahiti Taiwan Tajikistan Taliban Tanzania technology Ted Turner Tehran Terena terror Thailand Thaksin The Arab Spring The Bahamas The Caribbean The Carter Center The Elders The Enough Project The Gambia The Hunger Games The Marshall Islands the Middle East The Netherlands The Ocean Project the Philippines The Republic of South Sudan The Surfrider Foundation The Whistleblower theatre Thein Sein Themrise Khan Three Cups of Tea Tibet Tiger Tigers Tikki Pang Tim Hetherington Timbuktu Timor-Leste Tobacco Togo Toilets Tokelau Tom Schelling Tonga Tony Lake Toronto tourism trade Trademarks trafficking travel Trinidad & Tobago Trinidad and Tobago Tripoli tsunami Tuareg Tuberculosis Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks & Caicos Tuvalu Twitter Typhoon Bopha Typhoon Pablo UAE Uganda UK Ukraine UN UN Clean Development Mechanism UN Food and Agriculture Organization UN Foundation UN Peacekeepers UN Security Council un techo para mi pais UN Women UNAIDS UNCTAD UNDP UNEP UNESCO UNFCC UNFPA UNHabitat UNHCR unicef Union Solidarity and Development Party UNISDR United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United Nations United States United to End Genocide University of South Florida UNOCI UNRWA urbanization Uruguay US US Peace Corps US Supreme Court US Troops USA Uzbekistan Vancouver Vandana Shiva Vanuatu Vanuatu. Fiji Venezuela Vestergaard Vice President Joyce Banda Victoria Hazou Vidal Vega Vietnam Vii VIIPhotography Viktor Yanukovych Vladimir Putin Vladivostok Vlisco Vodafone volcano Walmart War Water West Africa West Bank Western Sahara WFP WHO wimax Wine Woman Women Women's Economic Opportunity World World AIDS Day World Bank World Cup World Economic Forum World Food Day World Food Prize World Food Programme World Health Assembly world hunger World Refugee Day WorldCup WTO WWF Xi Jinping Xingu Yemen Youssou N'dour Youth Youth Olympics YouTube Yoweri Museveni Yukon Yulia Tymoshenko Zambia Zimbabwe Zuma

HUM QR CODE

Entries in North Korea (10)

Sunday
Mar252012

No Nukes? Or More Nukes? As the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit Begins (REPORT)  

(PHOTO: Activists attend a rally opposing nuclear power in Seoul March 19, 2012/ChinaDaily)(HN, 3/25/2012) - World leaders including US President Barack Obama Monday will launch the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit a meeting on the threat from nuclear-armed terrorists, but the atomic ambitions of North Korea and Iran are set to feature heavily.

Leaders or senior officials from 53 nations will attend the Nuclear Security Summit, with Interpol, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the European Union and the UN also taking part.

Participating countries, which also gathered at the 1st Washington Nuclear Security Summit in 2010 include:  South Korea, Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, UK, Ukraine, USA and Vietnam.

Though not at the summit, next -door, North Korea’s upcoming rocket launch has overshadowed the run-up to the two-day meeting in Seoul, which seeks agreement on locking down fissile material that could be used to build thousands of terrorist bombs.

The nuclear-armed North says its rocket will merely put a peaceful satellite into orbit. The United States and others believe next month’s launch will test a long-range missile which could one day deliver an atomic warhead.

Gary Samore, coordinator for arms control at the US National Security Council, warned that North Korea would face a “strong response” from Washington and its allies if it goes ahead with the launch. “We will be working with other countries, when President Obama is in Seoul, to try to discourage North Korea from going ahead with the proposed satellite launch,” he told South Korea’s Yonhap news agency on Friday.

Obama will hold talks on the launch plan and other issues with leaders of China, Russia and host South Korea during his visit.

The IAEA, while worried about nuclear proliferation by North Korea, also suspects that Iran is bent on making nuclear weapons. Iran says its uranium enrichment activities are peaceful.  Neither Iran nor North Korea are on the formal agenda in Seoul. (Source: Wikipedia)

   NPT Nuclear Weapon States (China, France, Russia, UK, US)
   Non-NPT Nuclear Weapon States (India, North Korea, Pakistan)
   Undeclared Nuclear Weapon States (Israel)
   States suspected of having nuclear weapon programs (Iran, Syria)
   NATO weapons sharing weapons recipients
   States formerly possessing nuclear weapons

 

But leaders of five nations involved in stalled nuclear negotiations with the North — the United States, South Korea, China, Russia and Japan — will all be present, offering an opportunity for consultations.

 Pyongyang sees the summit as a chance for Washington and Seoul to gang up on it. Any South Korean move to address the North’s nuclear program at the summit would be seen as a "declaration of war", it said.  

Seoul says the formal event is not about nations but “non-state actors” such as al-Qaeda, Nigeria's Boko-Haram terrorist group, and others groups which it fears could lay their hands on loose nukes as proliferation continues.

(via PressTV)

Obama in a 2009 speech described nuclear terrorism as “the most immediate and extreme threat to global security”, and announced a drive to secure all vulnerable nuclear material worldwide within four years, a process which led to the first nuclear security summit in Washington in April 2010.

Since then, according to a joint report by the Washington-based Arms Control Association (ACA) and the Partnership for Global Security (PGS), which campaign against nuclear proliferation, acknowledged major progress since then.

Former Soviet republic Kazakhstan secured over 13 tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium, while Chile eliminated its entire HEU stockpile, the report said.

The United States and Russia signed a protocol under which each will dispose of 34 tons of plutonium — enough for 17,000 nuclear weapons.

Russia ended plutonium production. Ukraine eliminated two-thirds of its HEU and was expected to dispose of the rest by the Seoul summit.

But experts say much more must be done to end an apocalyptic threat.

“The commitments on the books will not get the job done,” said Michelle Cann of PGS, the report co-author.  “To prevent nuclear terrorism in the years ahead, the global nuclear security system must grow and adapt to new threats,” she said.

“There is a danger that early successes of the summit process will lead to complacency.”

The ACA says there have been 16 confirmed cases of unauthorized possession of HEU or plutonium documented by the IAEA since 1993, mainly in the former Soviet Union.   Alexandra Toma of the Connect US Fund, which promotes nuclear non-proliferation, said a sophisticated extremist group could plausibly take advantage of such lapses.

“It takes only 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of highly enriched uranium to make a crude nuclear bomb” the size of a grapefruit, she told a Seoul forum Thursday.

The summit agenda has been expanded to cover the securing of radioactive material, freely available from hospitals and other sources, which Stanford University expert Siegfried Hecker told the forum Thursday would be the most likely nuclear threat as a “dirty bomb... a weapon of mass disruption” since radiation sources were everywhere.

The meeting will also discuss the link between nuclear security and nuclear safety after Japan’s March 2011 Fukushima disaster.   Experts say the accident showed terrorists could create the same conditions as a tsunami did, by damaging cooling systems and cutting off power.

 -- HUMNEWS. An abbreviated version of this article originally appeared in The Arab Times

RELATED:  Fidel Castro on defense of Iran’s right to nuclear power

RELATED:  North Korea: Déjà Vu All Over Again

RELATED:  Activists oppose nuclear summit in Seoul

Tuesday
Mar202012

Iraq and the Limits of US Power (COMMENTARY) 

By Paul Mutter

Malaki and Obama 

 “Washington has lost a valuable opportunity to nurture and support a key counterweight to Iranian influence among Shiites in the Arab world,” lament Danielle Pletka and Gary Schmitt of the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute in an op-ed for the Washington Post. They subsequently call on the Obama administration to bulk up its already grossly overloaded staff at the gigantic U.S. embassy in Baghdad. But in these few words, the two writers fleshed out a more fundamental concern for hawkish pundits in the Middle East: the fear of a “Shia Crescent” of Iranian-backed regimes in Baghdad, Beirut, and Damascus linking the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf.

Indeed, with Iran now able to meddle in Iraq in ways it never could have with Saddam Hussein in power, the country will be more able to contest US-Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. The grim irony, notes Ted Galen Carpenter, is that by invading Iraq in 2003, “the United States has paid a terrible cost - some $850 billion and more than 4,400 dead American soldiers – to make Iran the most influential power in Iraq.” Few, if any, of the war’s architects and boosters will now concede this, even as they raise alarm over Iran’s influence in Iraq.

Looking East

But where today’s neoconservatives see an encroaching Iranian Islamist threat in the Middle East, an older guard has reached back to the not-so-distant Cold War past for parallels. Notably, many leading neoconservative lights hold out hope that Iraq can be turned into an Arabian version of postwar South Korea and Japan.

Prominent neoconservatives draw heavily on the memory of America’s seizure of Japanese hegemony in Asia after 1945. The United States worked steadfastly with postwar Japanese and South Korean governments to build the two countries up as buffers to Soviet and Chinese influence during the Cold War — efforts that were, by Washington’s standards at least, quite successful. Despite challenges from a resurgent China, the Pacific Ocean was (and still is) an American lake.

In a 2010 op-ed for the New York Times, leading Iraq war agitator Paul Wolfowitz invoked this history explicitly, treading breezily past US support for authoritarian South Korean regimes. “The United States stuck with South Korea even though the country was then ruled by a dictator and the prospects for its war-devastated economy looked dim,” he wrote. Wolfowitz noted that Iraq’s struggling democracy and central location were not unlike South Korea’s during the Cold War.

However unseemly, there is some truth to Wolfowitz’s recollection. It may be impossible to imagine a fifth column of South Korean agitators helping Pyongyang take over Seoul today, but during the Cold War this was a real concern for the United States. So Washington chose to prop up feudalistic landlords and former Japanese collaborators as Seoul’s ruling class, stiffening South Korea’s sinews against the appeal of the North Korean model with a glut of military and economic support. Today, Japan and South Korea remain firmly within the US fold.

Moreover, these alliances continue despite the brutal wars that spawned them. U.S.-led forces laid waste to the Korean peninsula with saturation bombing in the 1950s, but Washington could always count thereafter on “our men in Seoul.” Japan is an even more extreme case. After several years of firebombing and blockading the country, the United States annihilated two of the Japan’s cities with nuclear weapons. And yet Japan plays host to U.S. troops even today.

Those who fear that the United States “lost Iraq” because Barack Obama went through with the U.S. withdrawal schedule negotiated by President Bush are clearly thinking about longer-term issues of American hegemony (see Mitt Romney’s foreign policy white paper and list of advisors for good examples of this kind of thinking). It's simple logic, really: everything with Iraq keeps coming back to the dual-track policy of containment and rollback the United States has pursued against Iran. Iraq is a vital piece of this strategy; Juan Cole’s map of American bases around Iran is unimpeachable evidence of this.

American neoconservatives may hope that a U.S.-buttressed military-political establishment in Iraq could form a bulwark against a potential “Shia Crescent” led by Iran, just as South Korea and Japan helped stem the red tide spreading through East Asia during the Cold War. They may even have some reason to hope that Iraqis will overlook their resentment over the immensely destructive US war on the country.

Wishful Thinking

Just as in South Korea and Japan, there are Iraqis who see the United States as a partner — or at least as a cash cow that can be milked by exploiting US jitters about Iran. In contrast to most Iraqi politicians, who have been almost uniformly opposed to an ongoing US military presence in Iraq, there are Iraqi military officers who wanted to maintain ties with the US military because they doubted their own forces could keep the peace.

There are always people within a country's security establishment who can be made into agents of American influence. But in Iraq, the United States is confronting a much less homogeneous society than in South Korea or Japan, and it faces a much better equipped rival for hegemonic influence in Iran. As Washington’s influence in Baghdad recedes, Tehran’s hidden hands in Iraq are coming to the fore.

It’s not that Iran doesn’t have its own baggage to contend with in Iraq as it vies with the United States for influence—Iran wasn’t winning Iraqi hearts and minds, after all, when the two countries were busy destroying each other in the 1980s. But a key distinction for Iraqis between that war and the U.S. invasion was that the Iran-Iraq War was launched by their own Saddam Hussein, driving thousands of Iraqi Shia refugees into Iran by the end of the 1980s. By all appearances, America’s war on Iraq was purely voluntary and imposed on Iraqis from the outside. Moreover, Iran has from at least 1982 on been working to build up its own agents of influence in Iraq's security and religious establishments.

Most importantly, an Iraqi alignment with Iran is the result not only of two decades of Iranian intrigue, but also of two decades of US sanctions, war, and occupation. Especially since the US occupation, Iraqis have viewed Iranian machinations in Iraq—and even Iran’s quiet participation in Iraq’s horrific sectarian violence—as just another symptom of a plague brought by the US invasion. 

A Lack of Options

Suppose Obama came into office determined to overturn the withdrawal agreement and keep US troops in Iraq. What tools would he have to force Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to reverse himself in the face of an angry Iraqi public and threats by some Shia groups to take up their arms again if the U.S. military presence continued? What could Obama do to "reclaim the partnership with Maliki," as Danielle Pletka and Gary Schmitt ask?

The answer is surprisingly little, mainly because the US-Iraqi relationship was never a partnership to begin with. It was, from the start, an occupation. The US presence in Iraq – where it tried not just to police the country but at times even had Provincial Reconstruction Teams stand in for civil society – meant that Maliki had little agency of his own. Additionally, holdouts like the Sadrists, Sunni tribal militias, and the Badr Brigades had little reason to lay down their arms; it was fight or collaborate, and they chose to fight.

But ever since the United States enabled Maliki to build his own security forces, electoral bloc, and bureaucracy – and thus achieve an understanding with members of the “insurgency” – he has found other people he can depend on to bolster his rule. He doesn't need US forces to intimidate, capture, or kill people for him; his own people are quite capable of doing that.

Far from being run out of the country after detaining hundreds of former Ba’athist officials this winter, Maliki has apparently managed to use such heavy-handed actions to his advantage. As paper by the neoconservative Institute for the Study of War recently noted, “It is clear that Maliki has come out as the winner . . . He has made it more difficult for his Shia rivals to dissent while simultaneously confining his Sunni opponents in a position suitable for exerting pressure and exploiting divisions within their ranks.” For all of the rampant disunity and criminality of the Iraqi government, its leadership has been able to achieve ever-greater independence from its U.S. backers.  

Most importantly, Iraq has little reason to sully an important relationship with its Iranian neighbor just to please Washington. Moreover, it’s uneasy about having such a long border with a regime change target and has no wish to get involved with the nuclear question that so preoccupies Israel and the United States. “Iraqis," Adil Shamoo notes, "can tell the difference between mutually beneficial programs and those that create the impression that the U.S. is powerful and can do what it wants in Iraq."

Out of Cards

Even "our man in Iraq" Ahmed Chalabi – who swept back into the country by way of Langley, Virginia after a decade of agitating for U.S.-led regime change in exile – wanted the United States out of Iraq because he thought it would be political suicide to keep associating with the country that paid his organization $335,000 a month during the first year of the occupation.

If the United States could not secure gratitude from a man who spent over a decade working with the CIA to overthrow Saddam Hussein, then from whom in Iraq can it call in any favors? Short of sectarian violence reaching the level it did in 2005, gratitude is the only thing that would compel Iraqi officials to reverse course, let U.S. troops back in, and focus their foreign policy efforts on a dual-track policy of rollback and containment against Iran.

Unfortunately for neoconservatives, Iraq is no South Korea or Japan, and “gratitude” seems to be in short supply.

-- Paul Mutter is a fellow at Truthout.org, as well as a contributor to Foreign Policy in Focus, Mondoweiss, The Arabist, and Salon. He is currently on leave from NYU’s graduate program in journalism and international affairs.  This work by Institute for Policy Studies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Thursday
Feb022012

Military Exercises and Stability on the Korean Peninsula (PERSPECTIVE) 

North Korea's new leader Kim Jong-un (L) applauds as he visits the Seoul Ryu Kyong Su 105 Guards Tank Division of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in Pyongyang, in this picture released by KCNA January 1, 2012.

By Daniel Pinkston 

Last Friday, 27 January, the U.S. and Republic of Korea (ROK) Combined Forces Command (CFC) announced the dates for two joint and combined military exercises in the ROK. Key Resolve, an annual command post exercise will be held from 27 February to 9 March, and Foal Eagle, a tactical field exercise, will be held from 1 March to 30 April. The DPRK immediately denounced the exercises, which Pyongyang has labeled an “unpardonable grave military provocation to the sovereignty of the DPRK and a wanton challenge to the international community’s desire for peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula”. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) asserts “Key Resolve is a nuclear war rehearsal for aggression on the DPRK” that is “intolerable while the nation is mourning the loss of Kim Jong-il”Rodong Sinmun calls the exercises “a test nuclear war to invade the DPRK through a surprise attack”. DPRK media reported several appeals throughout January to cancel the exercises even before the CFC announcement.

U.S.-ROK combined military exercises often have been controversial, particularly during crises or during times of inter-Korean tensions. The U.S.-ROK Team Spirit exercise, which was launched in 1976 to reassure the ROK when it abandoned its nuclear weapons program, was repeatedly cited by Pyongyang as a “rehearsal for nuclear war against the DPRK”. Team Spirit then became a bargaining chip and was cancelled in the mid 1990s as reward for DPRK cooperation in the Agreed Framework. This led some to believe that ROK and U.S.-ROK military exercises exacerbate the security situation on the peninsula, and that the best way to reduce or eliminate DPRK belligerence is to cancel military exercises.

Some on the left in South Korea (ROK) have suggested that Key Resolve and Foal Eagle should be cancelled as a gesture for beginning a new cooperative relationship in the Kim Jŏng-ŭn era. A reduction in tensions and greater inter-Korean cooperation is desirable, but cancelling the exercises is unlikely to achieve this result for several reasons.

First, despite Pyongyang’s harsh criticism of exercises in the South, the Korean People’s Army (KPA) has continued its winter training exercises. Aircraft sorties reportedly have increased this year, and the North has conducted flight tests of short-range missiles over the last two months. It seems disingenuous to ask others to stand down when ramping up one’s own military training. And on the other hand, it would be irresponsible for the ROK and U.S. to neglect military training requirements without a reduction in the KPA force posture.

Second, the DPRK clearly has stated its intention to adhere to its sŏn’gun [military first] policy line. Sŏn’gun is a slightly modified Leninist world view that emphasises the importance of military power to resist “imperialist aggression”. The DPRK under the leadership of the Korean Workers’ Party has not renounced the use of force to unify Korea. Military weakness is more likely to invite greater military adventurism from the DPRK rather than arms control and nuclear disarmament. The good news is that sŏn’gun has strong “realist” overtones. In other words, power is what matters in sŏn’gun, and the KPA leadership probably has no delusions about the balance of power on the peninsula. The DPRK can be deterred, but deterrence can fail in the case of poor readiness and inadequate training.

Third, militaries have to train if they are to fulfill their tasks when called upon. ROK Army conscripts serve 21 months, and most U.S. military personnel serve for one year in the ROK, although some serve for 2-3 years. This turnover in forces requires annual training, which is scheduled well in advance. The KPA has been notified of the exercises, and CFC has invited the KPA to observe the exercises. Personnel from the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) will observe the exercises to verify they are in compliance with the Armistice.

So why is the rhetoric out of Pyongyang so shrill? It’s always shrill, but slightly more so this year, possibly because of Seoul’s response to the Ch’ŏnan sinking and Yŏnp’yŏng Island artillery attack in 2010. Those events triggered a reassessment of ROK military readiness and a reorganization of the command and control structure. The ROK has been increasing procurement and deployment of weapons systems to counter the DPRK’s asymmetric threats, and ramping up its military exercises.

Key Resolve and Foal Eagle are not the only ROK exercises these days. In January, ROK forces participated in Cobra Gold, a multi-national exercise in Thailand that included the U.S., Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. The 2012 Cobra Gold exercise included simulated UN peacekeeping operations and humanitarian assistance, which mirrors some of the activities ROK troops would have to perform under ROK contingency plans for the North.

Furthermore, the ROK Air Force dispatched F-15s to Nellis Air Base in Nevada to participate in the Red Flag exercise from 2 January to 3 February. The ROK Air Force has participated in Red Flag before, but this is the first time since 2008. The exercise typically includes training in interdiction, ground attack, air superiority, air defense suppression, airlift, air refueling and reconnaissance. This training provides realistic scenarios for responding to DPRK provocations near the North Limit Line (NLL).

Despite the rhetoric, the likelihood of military conflict during the training period is low. The DPRK will continue its military training through the spring, and Pyongyang should be well behaved in the lead up to the Kim Il-sung centennial celebration in April. However, conventional provocations after April cannot be ruled out. In that case, military training and readiness in the South will be instrumental in dealing with any crises that could arise.

If the KPA is a professional military force, as it proclaims under its sŏn’gun doctrine, it should accept invitations to observe military exercises, just as the PLA, Russian military and others have done at Cobra Gold and elsewhere. The commanders of the KPA, the PLA (or technically, the Chinese People’s Volunteers, who no longer exist), and the United Nations Command all have the responsibility to uphold the Armistice. Transparency, mutual observation of all military exercises in the region, and other confidence-building measures are the appropriate pathways for tension reduction and stability on the Korean peninsula.

- Daniel Pinkston is the Deputy Project Director, North East Asia Program. His work focuses on inter-Korean relations, domestic politics, regional security, nonproliferation and the reform process in North Korea. Originally posted on the International Crisis Group's blog on Korea 'Strong and Proserous'

Tuesday
Jul122011

(HEADLINES) - ASIA/PACIFIC - July 12, 2011

Asia-Pacific

ADB set to develop country's four land ports

Himalaya travel company targets summit success

Rural Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos biomass usage to be boosted

Courtesy: FLICKR. Kiribati.Eradicating leprosy in the Pacific 'out of reach'

American Samoa

Climate change denial

Bhutan

Courtesy: Bhutan Daily Domestic violence acceptable, finds study

Brunei Darussalam

Follow rules to prevent road mishaps

East Timor

RI’s Flour-based Industry Flourishing

Guam

Self-determination requires education campaign

Laos

Lao PM to visit Myanmar to promote friendship, co-op

Macau

Steve Wynn drops $12.8m on vases for Macau resort

Courtesy: Macau Times, Alice Kok on TDM Talk Show ‘We need to develop our own culture’

Malaysia

Malaysian SCORE Renewable Energy Project Generating Controversy

Maldives

Military ordered to ensure order in chamber as disruptive MPs force Majlis cancellation

Micronesia

Kia‘i Moku: Invasive wattle tree taking hold Upcountry

North Korea

North Korea To Create Internet Oasis

Palau

Wal-Mart employee told to 'hurry up,' files racial discrimination lawsuit

Papua New Guinea

Pacific benefit in carbon plan, says Greenpeace

Samoa

Camp Unity Keeps Pacific Islander Kids Off Streets

Poignant last trip to help village

Solomon Islands

Renewable energy in the Solomon Islands is making a difference

Tonga

Tonga businesses operating without licences

Tuvalu

A view on how the Pacific will take Australia's carbon tax

Vanuatu

Sacking of Vanuatu’s ambassador to UN will cost thousands of dollars

Wednesday
Apr272011

North Korean-Style "Democracy" and the Prospects of True Democratization (ANALYSIS)

by Daniel Pinkston  

Images: CIA World Factbook(April 27, 2011) Recent events in the Middle East have led to speculation about contagion and possible effects on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea). The events in the Middle East began in Tunisia, but were unexpected and progressed mostly in unpredictable ways. The pattern and evolution of contagion showed that each case of rebellion or revolution is different in terms of elapsed time, amount of violence and political outcomes.

No polity is permanent or indestructible. The most sustainable political systems are those that adjust to domestic and international change. Those systems lacking mechanisms for reform and change inevitably face challenges that often are characterized by violence. Past waves of democratization and the recent events in the Middle East raise several questions about the nature of authoritarian regimes. What triggers instability, regime collapse or revolution? Why are some authoritarian regimes more resilient than others? Can we identify ideological, cultural and/or institutional aspects of authoritarian regimes to help understand the prospects for democratization?  Can we predict or prepare for rapid changes in authoritarian systems? And if so, what role should various international actors play in such a scenario?

PHOTO CREDIT: noboundariesorg/flickrThe North Korean Case        

In human history, the concept of democracy was not always popular. It is a recent phenomenon and was often associated with “mob rule” and “disorder.” However, by the 20th century, democracy had become a universal ideal that is espoused at least nominally by practically all governments regardless of structure or regime type.     

North Korea is no exception. The DPRK Constitution embraces and guarantees a number of democratic rights, privileges and principles. Article 1 stipulates that the DPRK represents the interests of all citizens. Sovereignty is vested in the working people, who are represented by the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) and local people’s assemblies (Article 4). Citizens are guaranteed direct universal suffrage by secret ballot (Articles 6, 89 and 138) and their representatives are required to have close ties to their constituents or face no-confidence recalls (Article 7). Article 8 respects and protects human rights, and the rights of Koreans are extended when they are abroad (Article 15), while foreigners are guaranteed legitimate rights and interests while in the territory of the DPRK (Article 16). Furthermore, all institutions, enterprises, organizations and citizens are required to respect the laws that enshrine these rights (Article 18).

The DPRK Constitution guarantees democratic rights and freedoms for all citizens (Article 64) in all spheres of state and social life (Article 65).  These rights and freedoms include universal suffrage and the right to be elected to public office for all who have reached the age of 17 (Article 66); freedom of speech, of the press, assembly, demonstration, association (Article 67); of religion (Article 68) and the right to appeal and file petitions (Article 69).

Article 74 grants the freedom to engage in scientific, literary and artistic activities, and Article 75 grants the freedom of residence and travel. Women are granted equal rights and status with men (Article 77). Citizens have the right to privacy in their homes and in their personal correspondence, and they are protected from illegal searches (Article 79).

The DPRK Constitution also includes a number of clauses addressing social welfare issues. For example, citizens have the right to rest (Article 71), the right to receive free medical care and support from the state if unable to care for themselves (Article 72). Citizens have the right to education (Article 73) and maternity leave is guaranteed for the protection of mothers and children (Article 77). 

Unfortunately, the constitution also contradicts democratic principles in several ways. For example, it stipulates that chuch’e [主體] and military first [先軍] are the “guiding principles” of the DPRK (Article 3), and the state is organized and managed according to democratic centralism (Article 5). All DPRK activities must be carried out under the leadership of the Korean Workers Party (Article 11), and the state must strengthen the dictatorship of the people’s democracy (Article 12).

The state is required by the constitution to carry out mass movements vigorously (Article 14), and carry out a cultural revolution to train all the people as builders of socialism (Article 40). The state “shall eliminate the outdated society’s mode of life and establish a new socialist mode of life in full measure in all fields” (Article 42). “Eliminating outdated society” has a liberating connotation in the context of the collapse of the Chinese world order in the 19th century or colonialism in the 20th. However, the second diktat of Article 42 justifies the DPRK’s complete eradication of civil society and the construction of mass movements to eliminate individualism and freedoms that are nominally protected by the constitution.  

The integration of “creative writers and artists to produce many works of high ideological and artistic value and enlist a broad range of masses in literary and artistic activities” ensures artistic expression is only tolerated within channels sanctioned by the state and KWP. Literature and art must be “chuch’e-oriented, revolutionary, national in form and socialist in content” (Article 52). Rights and responsibilities are “based on the collectivist principle of ‘one for all, all for one’” (Article 63), not on the rule of law.

Collective conformity with state doctrine is extended to the military, which has a “mission to carry out the military-first revolutionary line in order to protect the nerve center of the revolution” (Article 59). The constitution requires the state to “convert the entire army into a cadre army, modernize the entire army, arm all the people, and turn the whole country into a fortress, on the basis of arming the army and the people politically and ideologically” (Article 60).

Individual property rights are severely restricted as “there shall be no limit to the property which the state can own, and all natural resources of the country, railways, air transportation, telecommunications and postal organs, as well as major factories, enterprises, ports, and banks, shall be owned solely by the state” (Article 21).

State control and regulation of resources are primary instruments of social control and regime sustainability. First, the ruling elite can reward loyalists and punish traitors or disloyal citizens by supplying or withholding resources, including food, medical care and other necessities. Second, state control of resource allocation nominally eliminates the need for markets, which can have political effects as well as an economic function. Markets can only function if they have buyers and sellers, and they are more efficient if the actors have autonomy and adequate information to make decisions. However, autonomous buyers and sellers with the capacity to transmit, receive and store information can use that capacity to take collective action. Even if collective action initially is only directed at market activities, it can later be directed towards political aims.

Haggard and Noland note that the North Korean regime is highly insecure about the market, and that so-called “reforms” have been designed to maintain economic control.[i] The economics measures announced on 1 July 2002 were trumpeted as the beginning of reform and opening, but policies were incomplete and insufficient to cure the country’s economic malaise. The state recognized and tolerated some marketization from below that began during the famine of the 1990s, but by 2005 was working to reverse the nascent marketization underway. The botched currency reform announced on 30 November 2009 is indicative of the state’s will to eradicate markets and reassert control of resources, which is necessary to sustain the current political structure.           

The normal, everyday market activities we see in liberal democracies have been criminalized in North Korea. Legal statues, prosecutors and courts are mechanisms to control society and perpetuate centralized control. According to Article 162 of the DPRK Constitution, “the duties of the court are to:  

1. Protect the sovereignty of the DPRK, the socialist system, the property of the state and social cooperative organizations, and the constitutional rights, lives, and property of the people through judicial activities.

2. Ensure that all organs, enterprises, organizations, and citizens precisely observe the laws of the state and struggle actively against class enemies and all law offenders.

The DPRK has nominally adopted some international legal standards and procedures such as habeas corpus and nullum crimen sine lege [no crime without law], but no due judicial process seems to apply to political crimes.[ii] Detention, prosecution and imprisonment accompanied by extreme violence are common. Social deviants live under the threat of terror to themselves and their extended families. The deterrent effect apparently has been very effective. But, the discretion extended to the security apparatus [國家安全保衛部; 人民保安部; 組織指導部; 호위사령부] also creates extraordinary rent-seeking opportunities. The corruption in North Korea seems to be increasing as the economy remains stagnant. Rampant corruption, which is structurally created by the legal code and security apparatus, could eventually undermine the integrity of the security institutions that are supposed to protect and preserve the state.        

Kim Jŏng-il, HUMNEWS file photoThe Personalistic Suryŏng [ 首領 ] System

Under the concept of “democratic centralism” Kim Il-sung began to establish a personalistic system fitting the term “totalitarian” or “sultanistic” in the words of Juan J. Linz.[iii] Others have described the DPRK political system as “Stalinist, corporatist, mono-organizational, neo-traditional.” Charles Armstrong correctly points out that the state has displayed all of these characteristics and the state has transformed since it was founded in 1948.[iv]    

According to state propaganda, the DPRK is dependent upon a “Great Leader” for survival and prosperity. Borrowing from imperial Japan’s kokutai [國體], North Korean propaganda refers to the suryŏng as the “brain” for the “national body.” North Koreans are indoctrinated to believe that “freedom and national independence” are only possible by submitting to and supporting the leader—even if it means sacrificing one’s own life. The ideological pillars of the state promise that in return the leader will protect North Koreans from an impure and hostile international environment.[v]

The leader is enshrined in the constitution. Kim Il-sŏng is credited with having “reinforced and developed the republic into a popular masses-centered socialist country and a socialist state of independence, self-support, and self-defense by putting forward a chuch’e-oriented revolutionary line.” He is said to have “turned the whole society into one big, single-heartedly united family.”[vi] And as a “united family,” citizens cannot opt out of this relationship and have non-negotiable responsibilities:   

Under the leadership of the Korean Workers Party, the DPRK and the Korean people will hold the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il Sung in high esteem as the eternal president of the republic and complete the chuch’e revolutionary cause to the end by defending,  carrying forward, and developing Comrade Kim Il Sung’s idea and achievements.

The constitution’s preamble declares that “Kim Il-sŏng’s chuch’e-oriented idea of state building and his achievements in state building have been made into law.” The constitution justifies hereditary succession, which is now under way for the second time in the country’s history. The current leader, Kim Jŏng-il, is the “supreme leader [最高領導者] of the DPRK” (Article 100), and has the authority to “issue orders” (Article 104) that essentially carry the weight of supreme law immune from judicial review or challenge from any institution or citizen.   

A modern democracy must include free and fair elections, the protection of human rights and civil liberties, freedom of thought and of the press, freedom of religion and a separation of powers with an independent judiciary. The DPRK fails in every single category necessary for a functioning democracy. The DPRK probably has come closer to the totalitarian ideal than any of its predecessors that attempted to build a totalitarian system, and the DPRK has lasted longer than any of its peers.

Dictators and totalitarian leaders always face threats and challengers. The rent-seeking opportunities are extensive in personalistic systems, but even the greatest dictators are victims of the system because of the attention and resources that must be expended to remain in control. Terror is a common instrument in non-democratic regimes. The ruthlessness exercised in these systems and the consequences of losing power, which often results in death—or exile if lucky—lead to a culture of settling political differences violently.

The lack of internal checks and balances, and the very militarized societies built to maintain personalistic systems, often result in dictators using their militaries to settle international disputes. The North Korean case is exacerbated by national division and a sclerotic economy that obstructs any modernization of its conventional military forces. The result has been a long-term commitment to the development weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and their related delivery systems.

The need for critical technologies and materials, and the desire for economies of scale in production have led to the establishment of procurement and proliferation networks for the most dangerous materials and weapon systems.[vii] WMD development, including two nuclear tests, has brought international sanctions that have compounded the DPRK’s economic plight. North Korea’s WMD threat cannot be ignored, but the very sanctions and other international pressure designed to compel Pyongyang to disarm have had little effect. Instead, they almost certainly reinforce hardliners in North Korea. This is not to suggest that sanctions should be lifted. To the contrary—but we must have realistic expectations about the effectiveness.

We should not be very optimistic about WMD disarmament, economic liberalization, the protection of human rights and civil liberties or democratization until there is a change in leadership and a change in the political structure/system. Without structural change—in other words, without a dismantling of the inter-locking institutional arrangement of the KWP, the military, and the security apparatus and the tight centralized control of economic resources—whoever is the suryŏng will not matter. Anyone would rule in a similar fashion in such an institutional environment or risk being toppled from within.

The current DPRK system is doomed to failure, but it could last for a considerable time. The international community could impose democracy through force, but that would require a very costly war that is politically untenable. Deterrence and containment are the primary policy instruments for dealing with Pyongyang for years or decades ahead. That means waiting for change generated from within, but the prospects are bleak.

Daniel Pinkston is the North East Asia Deputy Project Director at The International Crisis Group  - This article was first published at Strong and Prosperous 2011: Crisis Group's Blog on Korea  

[i] Stephan Haggard and Marcus Noland, Witness to Transformation: Refugee Insights into North Korea (Washington, DC: Peterson Institute for International Economics, 2011).  [ii] Ibid. [iii] Juan J. Linz, Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2000). [iv] Charles K. Armstrong, “The Nature, Origins, and Development of the North Korean State,” in Samuel S. Kim, editor, The North Korean System in the Post-Cold War Era (New York: Palgrave, 2001), pp. 39-63. [v] Brian Myers, The Cleanest Race: How North Koreans See Themselves and Why It Matters (New York: Melville House, 2010). [vi] DPRK Constitution Preamble. [vii] Daniel A. Pinkston, “Up in Arms - North Korea’s Illicit Weapons Deals,” Jane’s Intelligence Review, 22 April 2010.

Tuesday
Nov232010

South Korea vows 'stern retaliations' against North Korea (Updated 00:29 GMT)

South Korean K-9 self propelled artilleries carry out shooting exercises in June 2008 in Cheolwon, Gangwon. North Korea mainly attacked a military base of K-9 artilleries on Yeonpyeong Island yesterday (photo courtesy of JoongAngDaily)(HN, November 23, 2010) -- President Lee Myung-bak ordered his military Tuesday to punish North Korea for its artillery attacks "through action," not just words, saying it is important to stop the communist regime from contemplating additional provocation.

"The provocation this time can be regarded as an invasion of South Korean territory. In particular, indiscriminate attacks on civilians are a grave matter," a stern-faced Lee said during a visit to the headquarters of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in central Seoul, according to South Korea’s news agency Yonhap.

North Korea fired some 100 coastline artillery rounds across the western sea border onto Yeonpyeong Island Tuesday afternoon, killing two marines and wounding more than a dozen others.

The attack set houses on fire on the island that lies just south of the Northern Limit Line, the de-facto maritime border between the two Koreas drawn at the end of their 1950-53 war.

The South Korean military launched an immediate counterattack, firing about 80 K-9 self-propelled artillery shells toward the North's coastal areas. The exchange of fire lasted for about an hour.

Tuesday's attack was the North's most serious provocation since it torpedoed a South Korean warship in March that killed 46 sailors. It marks the first direct artillery attack on South Korean territory since the Korean War ended in an armistice, not a formal peace treaty.

"Reckless attacks on South Korean civilians are not tolerable, especially when South Korea is providing North Korea with humanitarian aid," the president said. "As for such attacks on civilians, a response beyond the rule of engagement is necessary. Our military should show this through action rather than an administrative response" such as statements or talks, he added.

"Given that North Korea maintains an offensive posture, I think the Army, the Navy and the Air Force should unite and retaliate against (the North's) provocation with multiple-fold firepower," Lee said. "I think enormous retaliation is going to be necessary to make North Korea incapable of provoking us again."

Lee's strongly worded comments came after a series of emergency meetings with senior presidential aides and security-related ministers at the underground bunker of the presidential compound Cheong Wa Dae. Participants included Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan, Unification Minister Hyun In-taek, Defense Minister Kim Tae-young, Home Affairs Minister Maeng Hyung-kyu and Won Sei-hoon, chief of the state spy agency.

Earlier in the day, Cheong Wa Dae issued a statement denouncing the North's latest provocation.

"North Korea will have to bear full responsibility" for all consequences, Hong Sang-pyo, senior secretary for public affairs at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, said. He also warned that the South will"resolutely retaliate" if the North makes any further provocations.

Hong said the government was trying to figure out the North's intentions, adding it regards the attack as a "localized situation," rather than a prelude to a full-scale war

"We have informed our allies and neighboring countries of the current situation through diplomatic channels," he said.

He dismissed rumors of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's death as groundless. "We concluded that it is not a meaningful rumor or intelligence," he said.

Also in North Asia, Japan has been placed on high alert and officials in Tokyo demanded a quick resolution.

"The latest act of provocation undermines the peace and security of the entire northeast Asian region including Japan, not just those of South Korea," Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yoshito Sengoku said at a news conference, as he called the attack an "unforgivable act." "We demand an immediate end to this kind of action," he said.

(In early trading Wednesday in Japan, the Nikkei index in Tokyo was down about two percent and has fallen below the 10,000 yen level).

Separately, Asia Society Executive Vice-President Jamie Metzl, who just returned from South Korea, called the attack "a shocking escalation" by Pyongyang.

"With the North Korean economy in free fall, the country’s leaders have likely concluded that attacks like this only increase their negotiating power," says Metzl. "The North Koreans may well have recognized that South Korea has far more to lose from any conflict than does the north, and that concessions can possibly be extracted by taking advantage of this disparity."

Referring to the latest attack, as well as recent provocations, Metlz said: "These events could very well also point to conflicts within the North Korea establishment as different factions vie for power during a time of transition."

In a separate press briefing, Cheong Wa Dae spokeswoman Kim Hee-jung quoted the president as telling his military to strike North Korea's missile base around its coastline artillery positions if necessary.

"President Lee instructed (the military) to strike North Korea's missile base near coastline artillery positions if necessary... if there in any indication of further provocation," she said.
The spokeswoman also said that the North's provocation might have come in retaliation for one of the South's annual military exercises.

"Our Navy was conducting a maritime exercise near the western sea border today. North Korea has sent a letter of protest over the drill. We're examining a possible link between the protest and the artillery attack," said Kim.

Foreign ministry officials said they were in consultations with the United Nations over whether to refer the case to the global organization.

South Korea's rival political parties, meanwhile, canceled a budget committee meeting and agreed on bipartisan support for the government's response to the incident.

Background

This is not the first time a conflict of this nature has occurred between North and South Korea. In fact conflict has been brewing on the Korean Peninsula for 60  years now since, after World War II, the Korean peninsula was divided, with the North falling under the Soviet Union and the South under US military administration.

In June 1950 the North and South went to war. An armistice was signed in July 1953, enforcing the divide along the 38th parallel. No peace deal has been signed.

North Korea remains a Communist state and is a military power, though poverty-stricken. South Korea has become a major global economic player and hosted the last G20 summit in its capital Seoul earlier this month.

Some key events, beginning with the most recent, in conflict between the two Koreas are as follows: 

November 23, 2010: Two South Korean soldiers die as North, South Korea trade artillery fire

November 2010: North Korea unveils previously secret uranium nuclear facility

September 2010: North Korean leader Kim Jong il makes son, Kim Jong Un, four-star general, in move seen as preparation for succession.

March 2010: Cheonan, a South Korean warship with 104 men on board, is sunk by an explosion in the Yellow Sea. North Korea is blamed for the death of 46 sailors, but Pyongyang denies responsibility.

November 2009: North and South Korean warships clash in the Yellow Sea.

May 2009: North Korea conducts its second nuclear test

October 2006: North Korea conducts first nuclear test

June 2002: Naval battles kill five South Korean soldiers. Most likely 30 North Korean are killed or injured.

June 1999: First naval skirmish between two countries since the war. North Korean ship sinks in Yellow Sea.

September 1996: Gangneung submarine incident - 24 North Korean sailors die in the incident, which is believed to have been an attempt at infiltrating the south.

November 1987: Korean Airlines flight explodes, killing 115 people. North Korea blamed for attack.

January 1968: First assassination attempt on South Korea leader Park Chung-Hee. Other efforts to target top Seoul officials, some successful, follow in years to come.

HUM News Staff - Yonhap News Agency

Tuesday
Nov162010

Headlines - November 16, 2010 (Asia and Pacific) 

Overly warm waters, disease, and other factors can kill corals. In this case, "bleaching" turned this fire coral (which has a christmas tree worm on top) white. Photo courtesy of NOAA, FGBNMS.American Samoa

American Samoa on aid spending watch

No firm details of cannery jobs in American Samoa following agreement

American Samoa based airline introduces larger aircraft

Marine National Parks have experienced vast losses of coral reefs to bleaching and disease

Bhutan

Bhutanese Christian serving three years for showing film about Jesus

Bhutan to receive Asian Development Bank funding for rural biogas power  

Perfect Balance (opinion)

Brunei Darussalam

His Majesty urges Muslims to devote closer to Allah

Giving the local SME’s the upper hand

8th ASEAN Skills Competition participants leave for Thailand

The new floods and draughts (environment)  

East Timor          

East Timor government prepares review of Oil Fund Law

Abbott likens PM to Burke and Wills

Kiribati

Kiribati climate change conference calls for urgent cash and action

Laos

Cambodia, Vietnam differ from Laos in cluster bombs ban

Laos donates US$100,000 to Vietnam’s flood victims

Maldives

Maldives grappling with globalization, says foreign policy expert

Maldivian shuttlers enjoy competition at Asian Games  

North Korea

Number of N. Korean defectors in South rising, says official

North Korea constructing light-water reactor, expert says

North Korea sets out political cleansing

North Korean Jo wins women’s 25m Pistol event

UN report A “Wakeup Call” on N. Korea: Hill (perspective)  

Palau

ADB aids Palau’s push for sustainable water, sanitation services

Papua New Guinea

Harnessing the full power of community investments

Investigation into flaws of Australia’s Pacific Island workers scheme  

Tonga

Tonga moves to greater democracy

Campaigning for Tonga’s historic election begins

ANZ downgrades Pacific growth forecast

Vanuatu

Pacific politics revamped from an island perspective

Tourism Vanuatu campaign targets Aussies

Hawksbill turtle swims from Vanuatu to Australia

Thursday
Aug262010

HUMNEWS HEADLINES - August 26, 2010 (Asia and the Pacific) 

AMERICAN SAMOA

American Samoan lawmaker saddened about Starkist exchange

CJPA invited to aid other territories in enforcing underage drinking law

BHUTAN

Refugees find American dream down on the farm

Jeffery D. Sachs: A lesson in growth and happiness from a Buddhist economy (opinion)

Asia’s glaciers in retreat, could signal crop failure and flooding in the future

Fiat to export cars to neighbor countries by year-end

Farm roads run amok

Air India to lose Kathmandu-Kolkata monopoly (travel)

Export target: 14pc more

BRUNEI DARUSSALAM

Tap oil kicks off drilling at Mawar-1 oil well in Brunei (investment news)

Knowledge-based economy key to Brunei’s diversification

Nuzul Al-Quran celebrated tomorrow  

EAST TIMOR

PNG, East Timor in line for microfinance

President of East Timor pardons rebels who shot him

Government team meets PPTTEP on Montara spill

GUAM

EPA certification now mandatory for Guam contractors

SBA ranks bank No. 1  

LAOS

Laos: Rebirth of the midwife

President Triet on official visit to Laos

Sacombank Securities sets up joint venture in Laos

ASEAN + 3 discuss integrated rural development in Vientiane

Met Dept. warns North, Northeast at risk of flash floods

MALDIVES

A killer per 15,000 people, 600 criminals at large in Maldives - Police

Yameen’s ‘protective custody’ was unconstitutional, rules Civil Court

Disruptive strikes discredits tourism says MATATO, mistreating workers does the same , says TEAM

MARSHALL ISLANDS

Australia enters ‘uncharted territory’

NORTH KOREA

China refuses comment on North Korean leader’s visit

NK denies alleged abuse of football players (sports)

‘US to redeploy troops in Korea from 2017’  

PALAU

Palau green fee hits the 1 million mark in less than a year

Wednesday
Jun162010

(EXCLUSIVE) Hugely Outnumbered, North Koreans Bring Own "Fans" to World Cup

(HN, June 16, 2010) -- During the surprisingly durable performance by the North Koreans against Brazil yesterday evening, official broadcasters zoomed in on a group of male fans clad in red outfits, waving the flags of the Hermit Kingdom and banging small bricks together.North Korean fans take cues from a leader at the match in Johannesburg. Credit: Sienna Reynaga

Jarring in a sea of yellow in the packed Ellis Park Stadium were a group of 40 men, appearing to be between the ages of 40-60. Identically dressed with red hats, scarves, brick clappers, flags and sweaters they were there to cheer on the team that has mystified World Cup watchers for the months approaching the games.

In the Tuesday night game, North Korea did not disappoint and ended the 90 minutes only down 2-1 against the World Cup favorite Brazil. It was the first time the team was seen in public as all of their practices have taken place behind closed doors.

Apparently meticulously screened by officials in Pyongyang, the North Korean fans appeared to hardly interact. The red jackets were led by two crowd leaders who prompted them to cheer, chant and clap the bricks together at the appropriate times. The performance was reminiscent of the crowds of trained Chinese fans that were bussed into the Bird’s Nest Stadium during the 2009 Beijing Summer Olympics.

A Korean translator was on hand to handle the throngs of reporters who flocked to the group.  As reporters from Russia to Brazil attempted to ask members of the group questions, it was quickly apparent they did not speak English (or at least were instructed to pretend not to). The translator asked two members of the group select questions about their trip, but refused to ask anything political.

The fan group looked unphazed by the almost zoo-like treatment they received from those attempting to take pictures with them, trying to talk to them, taping them and just plain staring.

When asked if they had plans to follow the North Korean team around the country (they play next on Monday in Cape Town against Portugal) a positive nod was the response.

- Reporting and photos by HUMNEWS in Johannesburg

Tuesday
Jun152010

HUM at the World Cup

(HN, June 15, 2010) Starting today, HUM News takes its front row seat at the World Cup in South Africa to report on the backstories surrounding the world’s most watched sporting event.

Four countries that fall within HUM’s definition of a ‘geographic gap' are represented at the World Cup. They are: North Korea, Algeria, Ghana and Cameroon.

(Tonight North Korea competes in the first round against Brazil in a sold out match in Johannesburg. The North Koreans so far have held all of their practices behind closed doors).

Along with a small editorial team now on the ground in South Africa, HUM will utilize a team of writers, editors, stringers and commentators spread across the globe. 

The HUM News site at www.humnews.com will serve as the main portal for World Cup coverage. In addition the news agency will be sharing video, audio, images and text with a variety of media outlets, big and small. Instant updates and links to stories will be posted on the HUM News Twitter feed at @humnews.

The World Cup is the second major global sporting event to be covered by HUM. Earlier this year, the Atlanta-based news service deployed a large team to the Vancouver Winter Olympics, where about a dozen HUM countries competed for the medal stand. Over four consecutive days, HUM’s unique brand of coverage was streamed live to Barcelona, where it was displayed at the Intel booth at the Mobile World Congress.

Star Alliance partners Air Canada and Lufthansa assisted HUM’s journey to South Africa.