ROK-U.S. News

Yonhap – N.K. leader apologizes to S. Koreans for ‘unsavory’ shooting case: Cheong Wa Dae

Yonhap | By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, Sept. 25 (Yonhap) — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has offered an apology to the South Korean people for the killing of a fellow citizen by its military earlier this week, Cheong Wa Dae announced Friday.

In a formal notice sent to the South, the North conveyed Kim’s message that he feels “very sorry” for greatly “disappointing” President Moon Jae-in and other South Koreans with the occurrence of the “unsavory” case in its waters, instead of helping them amid their suffering from the new coronavirus, according to Suh Hoon, director of national security at Cheong Wa Dae.

The North was informing the South of the results of its own probe into what happened in the notice sent by the United Front Department (UFD), a Workers’ Party organ handling inter-Korean relations.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presides over an enlarged meeting of the political bureau of the Workers' Party's central committee in Pyongyang on Aug. 25, 2020, to discuss issues involving COVID-19 and the approaching Typhoon Bavi, in this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un presides over an enlarged meeting of the political bureau of the Workers’ Party’s central committee in Pyongyang on Aug. 25, 2020, to discuss issues involving COVID-19 and the approaching Typhoon Bavi, in this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

It is quite unusual for a North Korean leader to apologize formally to South Korea, officials here said.

The North said the “unidentified” man, who crossed the western sea border without authorization, did not respond sincerely to its verbal security checks aboard a floating material about 80 meters away.

Approaching the material, the North’s troops shot two blanks, and he was seen as attempting to flee. They then fired more than 10 gunshots at the distance of 40-50 meters under the related rules of engagement for maritime border security, according to the North’s account.

After shooting, they searched the floating material but only found plenty of blood, not his body, the North claimed.

They burned the material in accordance with the state emergency guidelines for the prevention of COVID-19, it added.

The North also said its leadership thinks “what should not happen has occurred” and instructed troops to establish a system to record the entire process of maritime border security activities so as not to trigger “minor mistakes or big misunderstandings” during such a crackdown.

The leadership repeatedly emphasized the need for taking necessary measures to prevent such a “regrettable” case from recurring so that inter-Korean “trust and relations of respect” won’t fall apart, it added.

The North also expressed regret over the South Korean military’s “unilateral” announcement related to the incident the previous day.

The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the previous day that the North had set his body on fire.

National Intelligence Service chief Park Jie-won conveyed the notice to the presidential office, a government source said, suggesting that a communication line between the two Koreas’ intelligence agencies remains functional.

In June, the North cut other communication channels with the South, including their liaison and military lines, in anger over anti-Pyongyang leaflets flown in across the border.

Meanwhile, Moon and Kim have recently exchanged personal letters, Suh added.

In their correspondence, the two touched on “expectations” for the recovery of Seoul-Pyongyang relations by overcoming the ongoing difficulties from the coronavirus outbreak, Suh who serves as Moon’s top security aide, said.

Regarding the incident, Suh stated that the government will look at inter-Korean ties once again and make its best effort to establish the security of the Korean Peninsula and bilateral relations to meet the people’s expectations.

Cheong Wa Dae made public the full text of the North’s notice in a highly unusual move.

Unification Minister Lee In-young, Seoul’s point man on Pyongyang, also noted that the North Korean leader’s apology to South Korea is “very exceptional.”

“To my knowledge, it’s unprecedented for the North to issue (its leader’s) position rapidly using the expression ‘sorry’ twice,” Lee said during a National Assembly session.

The North has not yet formally apologized for the killing of a South Korean tourist to Mount Kumgang by its soldier in 2008. It instead expressed its “regret” in a statement issued by a state tourism agency.

In another rare move, Cheong Wa Dae unveiled the full texts of recent personal letters exchanged by Moon and Kim.

Kim expressed hope for the well-being of all South Koreans struggling to overcome difficulties from COVID-19 and recent typhoon damage in his letter to Moon, dated on Sept. 12, Suh told reporters.

It was a reply to Moon’s letter to him sent on Sept. 8.

Kim said he thought about the “grave burden” that Moon is shouldering by himself and that he knows Moon’s “difficulty, pressure and efforts” to overcome the troubles better than any other person.

“I once again eagerly wish that southern compatriots’ precious health and happiness will be kept,” Kim wrote. “I sincerely wish for everyone’s well-being.”

In his letter to Kim, Moon pointed out that both Koreas are going through “big predicaments,” from the coronavirus to heavy monsoon rain and typhoon damage.

Moon expressed his appreciation for Kim’s “strong commitment” to respecting the lives of people.

The president said the current situation is regrettable in that South and North Korea cannot help each other despite the challenges.

Suh said Cheong Wa Dae made public the full text of the letters at the instruction of Moon.

Cheong Wa Dae, however, stopped short of releasing photos of the letters.

Moon and Kim had their previous known correspondence in March.

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Army Times – 3 fall Army brigade deployments to Afghanistan, South Korea and Europe announced

The Department of the Army announced deployments for three brigades rotating this fall to Afghanistan, South Korea and Europe.

The 2nd Infantry Brigade, from 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, New York, will deploy approximately 1,600 personnel to Afghanistan this autumn to support the U.S. commitment to Operation Freedom Sentinel.

The unit is replacing another 10th Mountain unit, the 1st Brigade, as part of a regular rotation of forces to Afghanistan.

Combat involving U.S. forces has trickled off in the country, as the Taliban and the Afghan government have entered into peace talks for the first time.

There were two U.S. soldiers killed in an improvised explosive device attack this January and another two soldiers killed in an insider attack in February, but as a tentative peace agreement emerged, hostile action against U.S. forces trickled off. There have still been six noncombat deaths, such a vehicle rollovers, in Afghanistan in 2020.

The 1st Armored Brigade from 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia, will deploy approximately 3,500 personnel this autumn to the Republic of Korea.

The unit is replacing 1st Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade as part of a regular rotation of forces there.

Finally, the 1st Armored Brigade from 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, will deploy approximately 3,500 personnel to Europe.

Atlantic Resolve involves a series of exercises that have grown to span multiple countries including the three Baltic states, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. The mission steadily grew following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in 2014.


Article: https://www.armytimes.com/news/your-army/2020/09/24/3-fall-army-brigade-deployments-to-afghanistan-south-korea-and-europe-announced/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=EBB%2009.25.20&utm_term=Editorial%20-%20Early%20Bird%20Brief

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Yonhap – Post-election U.S. will continue to engage N. Korea in conversation: U.S. lawmaker

By Byun Duk-kun

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 (Yonhap) — The United States will continue to engage in conversation with North Korea regardless of who wins the upcoming presidential election, a U.S. lawmaker said Thursday.

Rep. Ami Bera (D, CA-7), however, cast doubt over an October surprise meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“I doubt there’s any room for negotiations or conversation with the North pre-election. Would something happen post election? Perhaps,” he said in a virtual seminar hosted by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Trump has held three meetings with Kim, including their first bilateral summit in Singapore in June 2018. But their talks have stalled since their second summit, in Hanoi in February 2019, ended without a deal.

The captured image from the website of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) shows the participants at a webinar held Sept. 24, 2020. They are (from top L, clockwise) Mark Lippert, former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Sue Mi Terry, CSIS fellow and former CIS official, Rep. Ami Bera (D, CA-7) and Victor Cha, Korea chair at CSIS and former director for Asian affairs at the White House's National Security Council. (Yonhap)

The captured image from the website of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) shows the participants at a webinar held Sept. 24, 2020. They are (from top L, clockwise) Mark Lippert, former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Sue Mi Terry, CSIS fellow and former CIS official, Rep. Ami Bera (D, CA-7) and Victor Cha, Korea chair at CSIS and former director for Asian affairs at the White House’s National Security Council. (Yonhap)

Bera said Joe Biden, former vice president and now the Democratic candidate for president, too will engage with North Korea should he emerge victorious in the Nov. 3 election.

“I can see a scenario where the vice president would engage in that, particularly because (South Korea’s) Moon Jae-in administration has an interest in continuing these talks,” he told the webinar, noting Biden is considered to be “much more traditional” than Trump when it comes to foreign policy.

“I think he (Biden) would engage a little bit more than President Trump has on these (foreign policy) issues,” added Bera, who currently heads the House Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and Nonproliferation.

The lawmaker insisted a Biden administration would also work to quickly resolve a deadlock in defense cost-sharing negotiations between the U.S. and South Korea, highlighting what he called “bipartisan support” in U.S. Congress to resolve the issue.

“I think, very quickly, a Biden administration, you would resolve the burden sharing issue. And I think there’s broad bipartisan support to get this resolved in Congress,” he said.

Seoul and Washington have held several rounds of the cost-sharing negotiations since late last year, but continue to show a large gap.

South Korea has offered to increase its burden sharing by up to 13 percent from the US$870 million it paid under last year’s agreement.

The U.S., on the other hand, is said to be asking for a 50 percent spike to $1.3 billion, while earlier reports suggested that Trump had initially demanded Seoul to shoulder $5 billion a year while threatening to pull at least part of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.

In his recently published book, “Rage,” Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward also quoted Trump as telling his military officials to pull out U.S. troops from South Korea and Afghanistan.

The Democratic lawmaker insisted a Biden administration would not talk about pulling out troops.

“I don’t think a Biden administration would talk about reducing forces, not at this particular time, when there are real tensions in the region,” said Bera.

Should Trump get reelected, he too would “try to restart talks” with South Korea on defense cost-sharing, he noted.

With regard to the ongoing U.S. initiative to build a NATO-like collective security structure in the Indo-Pacific region, the U.S. lawmaker agreed on the need for such a multilateral alliance, but said it must not lead to a confrontation with China, especially for countries in the region.

“It’s not the United States or China. The countries in the region will have to co-exist with both global powers,” he said.

The Trump administration has said membership in the envisioned multilateral alliance, currently known as the Quad with the membership of four countries — Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. — would not mean taking sides with the U.S. over China.

Still, Washington has made it clear that countering what it calls “aggressions from the Chinese communist party in all domains” would be one of its objectives.

“We’re always going to compete with China but let’s do so under the rule of law,” said Bera. “So I think you can create those alliances in the region, then hopefully nudge China in a better direction.”

Meanwhile, experts at Thursday’s webinar expressed concerns over the recent killing of a South Korean government official by North Korea, noting the incident may undermine South Korea’s recent push for reconciliation with the communist state and its efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

“(It is) very, very inconvenient, I would say, for the Moon government, given that President Moon had just given this big speech at the UN General Assembly where he talked about inter-Korean reconciliation and a peace initiative as sort of the door opener to making progress on denuclearization,” said Victor Cha, a Korea expert at CSIS and former director for Asian affairs at the U.S. National Security Council.

On Tuesday, the South Korean president called for international support for declaring an end to the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended only with an armistice treaty, technically leaving the divided Koreas at war.

“I just think it’s really unfortunate timing,” said Sue Mi Terry, a former CIA official now serving as a CSIS fellow.

“They are trying to make something happen with North Korea. Not getting anywhere,” she added.

bdk@yna.co.kr
(END)

Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200925000200325?section=national/defense

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Air Force Times – Tuskegee Airman who flew in 3 wars dies at 95

NOGALES, Ariz. — A member of the famed all-Black Tuskegee Airmen who died in Arizona will be remembered this week.

Martinez Funeral Chapels in Nogales confirmed a funeral for George Washington Biggs is scheduled for Thursday.

Biggs died Saturday at age 95.

His daughter, Rose Biggs-Dickerson, told The Arizona Republic that her father had been living in a senior-care facility in Tucson.

A native of Nogales, Biggs enlisted in 1943 at age 18 with the U.S. Army Air Corps — which later became the U.S. Air Force.

He was placed in an elite group of fighter pilots trained at Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute. The program was created after the NAACP began challenging policies barring Black people from flying military aircraft.

In the mid-1950s, Biggs was stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson. He was one of the base’s first African-American officers and helped incorporate minority soldiers, his daughter told the newspaper.

He flew B-47 and B-52 bombers in the Korean and Vietnam wars while earning numerous military honors.

Despite his accomplishments, he spoke often of the discrimination he faced in the military.

Biggs-Dickerson said her father retired in the 1970s and became an agent for the U.S. Customs Service in Nogales.

According to the funeral home’s online obituary, Biggs is survived by his wife, 10 children, 22 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.


Article: https://www.airforcetimes.com/news/your-air-force/2020/09/22/tuskegee-airman-who-flew-in-3-wars-dies-at-95/?fbclid=IwAR3hCri4J3MZGGd9uW8oxVqXSTUWp_u9qz8dQrBP8GL-7FaDFqEi6rD0N2w

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Yonhap – Moon’s offer of declaring end to Korean War aimed at jump-starting peace process, Cheong Wa Dae says

By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, Sept. 23 (Yonhap) — President Moon Jae-in has again proposed declaring a formal end to the Korean War in a bid to move forward the stalled Korea peace process, Cheong Wa Dae said Wednesday.

Moon and his aides do not expect it to be achieved immediately, as they prepare for the future “with patience,” a Cheong Wa Dae official told reporters with regard to the president’s latest United Nations speech.

In his video speech at the 75th session of U.N. General Assembly this week, Moon called for the end-of-war declaration, saying it would open the door to complete denuclearization and lasting peace on the peninsula.

His call for the declaration was not new. He put forward the idea during his U.N. speech two years earlier.

On the reason why Moon reiterated the offer during this year’s U.N. address, the Cheong Wa Dae official pointed out the prolonged stalemate in the peace drive. Denuclearization talks and inter-Korean exchanges have virtually come to a halt.

Moon delivered the message in order to help break the deadlock and get a “second or minute hand on the clock” for peace moving, according to the official who spoke on the customary condition of anonymity.

A political leader’s speech represents the expression of his or her “commitment and faith,” he said.

An image depicting President Moon Jae-in's offer of declaring a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War (Yonhap)

An image depicting President Moon Jae-in’s offer of declaring a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War (Yonhap)

The Moon administration’s basic position is that the armistice, signed in 1953, should be replaced by a peace treaty to enter the path of permanent peace through the end-of-war declaration, he added.

On a news report that Moon will likely have his first phone conversation with Japan’s new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, on Thursday, the official said it’s “hard to confirm” in public whether it’s true or not, citing related protocol and practices.

lcd@yna.co.kr
(END)

Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200923010100315?section=nk/nk

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Yonhap – New JCS chairman vows to strengthen readiness posture, back peace efforts

By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, Sept. 23 (Yonhap) — Gen. Won In-choul took office as the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) on Wednesday, vowing to ensure full readiness posture at all fronts to sternly deal with any provocations.

During his inauguration speech, the 42nd JCS chief also pledged to militarily back the government’s efforts to establish peace on the Korean Peninsula and accelerate the push to retake the wartime operational control (OPCON) of South Korean forces from the United States.

“We will improve the completeness of our security operations in peace time and maintain capabilities and a posture to immediately and sternly respond to provocation by any enemy that threatens South Korea,” he said.

President Moon Jae-in (L) and Gen. Won In-choul, new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), pose for a photo during a ceremony at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Sept. 23, 2020, to mark Won's inauguration. (Yonhap)

President Moon Jae-in (L) and Gen. Won In-choul, new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), pose for a photo during a ceremony at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Sept. 23, 2020, to mark Won’s inauguration. (Yonhap)

The former Air Force chief of staff was named last month to succeed Gen. Park Han-ki as JCS chairman.

Referring to North Korea’s continued push to develop ballistic missiles, Won said the peninsula is facing “various unpredictable challenges.”

“We will develop the future-oriented South Korea-U.S. military alliance, and expand the sphere of our military, security cooperation through catered international military cooperation in line with South Korea’s national power and our military’s strength,” he said.

Won, 59, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1984 following his graduation from the Korea Air Force Academy. He has served in various commanding posts, including the JCS’ vice chief and the chairman of the Air Force Operations Command.

Won’s inauguration was part of a major military reshuffle that included the appointment of Suh Wook, former Army chief of staff, as the new defense minister.

On the same day, new Army Chief of Staff Gen. Nam Yeong-shin, new Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Lee Seong-yong and new Combined Forces Command (CFC) deputy commander Gen. Kim Seung-kyum also assumed office.

In his inauguration speech, Nam vowed utmost efforts for OPCON transition based on strong alliance with the U.S.

The Seoul government seeks to retake the wartime OPCON before the current Moon Jae-in administration’s term ends in May 2022, though the transition is not time-based but conditions-based.

“The next five years will be a crucial turning point for the future of the Army and the security of South Korea,” Nam said, urging all soldiers to take part in efforts to build a “strong Army that wins.”

Lee, who succeed Won, also pledged to back the peninsula’s peace and the country’s prosperity with strength.

“By maintaining a perfect air defense posture, we will firmly back military readiness posture at all fronts,” Lee said.

Kim, the new CFC deputy commander, vowed to make utmost efforts to deter North Korean provocations through a strong combined defense posture.

“Based on the mutual trust our predecessors have fostered, I will strive for the OPCON transition and the future-oriented development of the South Korea-U.S. alliance,” he said.

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Yonhap – Moon says military plays ‘safety pin’ role in tumultuous peace process

SEOUL, Sept. 23 (Yonhap) — President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday South Korea’s military should continue to play a “safety pin” role, based on strong defense power, to prevent the recurrence of a war throughout the tumultuous peace journey.

He made the remarks while talking with newly promoted top military generals who attended an appointment ceremony at Cheong Wa Dae. They included Gen. Won In-choul, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Nam Yeong-shin, Air Force Chief of Staff Lee Seong-yong and Gen. Kim Seung-kyum, deputy commander of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command.

The president stressed that the military “should play the role of a safety pin” so that the peninsula won’t revert to a war, as there could be progress, regression, suspension or even an apparent dead end at times in peace efforts, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok.

“So far, our military has done the role well,” Moon was quoted as saying.

President Moon Jae-in (4th from L) walks toward a Cheong Wa Dae room along with Defense Minister Suh Wook (2nd from L) and newly promoted top military generals following an appointment ceremony at the presidential compound in Seoul on Sept. 23, 2020. (Yonhap)

President Moon Jae-in (4th from L) walks toward a Cheong Wa Dae room along with Defense Minister Suh Wook (2nd from L) and newly promoted top military generals following an appointment ceremony at the presidential compound in Seoul on Sept. 23, 2020. (Yonhap)

He also presented a three-point key strategy for the nation’s armed forces — introducing new technologies and equipment for the fourth industrial revolution era, keeping the South Korea-U.S. alliance robust and regaining wartime operational control (OPCON) in respect of the alliance.

In his United Nations speech delivered remotely earlier on the day, Moon proposed declaring a formal end to the Korean War that ended in 1953 in an armistice, not a peace treaty, as a starting point for complete denuclearization and a permanent peace regime.

His repeated offer of the end-of-war-declaration was aimed at putting fresh vigor into the long-stalled Korea peace process, Cheong Wa Dae officials said.

lcd@yna.co.kr
(END)

Article: https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20200923011900315?section=national/defense

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Korea-US Alliance Foundation September 2020 Newsletter

Download PDF Version: KUSAF news-2020 September

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The National Interest – Does South Korea Have an OPCON Problem?

South Korea is racing against the clock to get OPCON back from the United States, but pandemic-related restrictions pose a new round of hurdles to what has become a key milestone on Seoul’s march to military sovereignty.

South Korea is racing against the clock to get OPCON back from the United States, but pandemic-related restrictions pose a new round of hurdles to what has become a key milestone on Seoul’s march to military sovereignty.

During the Korean War, operational control—short for OPCON—over South Korea’s armed forces was transferred to the multinational United Nations Command (UNC). That relationship was rearticulated along bilateral lines with the 1978 establishment of the ROK/US Combined Forces Command (CFC), headed by a four-star general.

The arrangement made ample strategic sense to Seoul in the context of the North Korean invasion and the following decades of Cold War geopolitical rivalry in East Asia. But subsequent generations of South Korean lawmakers, reaping the windfall from a gradual thaw in ROK-DPRK relations that culminated in the 1991 Reconciliation and Nonaggression agreement between the two nations, lobbied for the restoration of OPCON under South Korea’s exclusive control. Washington and Seoul settled on a stopgap solution in 1994: South Korea was immediately granted peacetime OPCON, with the issue of wartime control to be revisited in the future.

Seoul’s nascent ambitions to return wartime OPCON were shelved in the late 2000s, as it became clear that an increasingly belligerent North Korea was intent on acquiring nuclear weapons. This pattern of delays, spurred by South Korean fears of DPRK’s nuclear buildup, persisted through 2016. It was not until Moon Jae-In became South Korea’s president in 2017 that Seoul decoupled the OPCON transfer issue from denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. The Moon administration argued that, if anything, military dependence on the United States has only eroded South Korea’s negotiating position with the North. As Moon put it in 2017, “When the South has wartime operational control, the North will fear us more, and our armed forces will be trusted more.”

Moon’s renewed push to return wartime OPCON coincided with the Trump administration’s interest in renegotiating the scale of the U.S. military presence in South Korea and, for the next several years, negotiations appeared to proceed at a healthy pace. A committee was appointed to monitor the monthly progress of the transition, which centers around two major combined military exercises to determine preparedness in five broad areas.

These criteria were to be evaluated in a Full Operational Capability (FOC) test, followed by a Full Mission Capability (FMC) test, only after which would South Korea meet all the requirements to resume wartime OPCON. But the pandemic threw a major logistical wrench in these plans. This year’s springtime combined U.S.-ROK exercises were canceled outright; combined drills slated for August 2020 were supposed to contain the first round of FOC tests, but the August exercises were drastically scaled-down due to concerns about the coronavirus. The pandemic has effectively placed the OPCON transfer on hiatus, with U.S. Army Chief Gen. James McConville recently suggesting that Washington and Seoul would be unlikely to return to major military drills anytime soon.

These delays raise difficult questions about political timing, compounding present ambiguities in the ROK-U.S. security relationship. Moon’s term expires in the summer of 2022, leaving a relatively small window within which to complete the FOC and FMC—Moon is ineligible to run for reelection, and there is no firm guarantee that his successor will share the current administration’s strident vision of South Korean military independence. Nor is the situation entirely clear from Washington’s vantage point: if Donald Trump were to lose his reelection bid, it remains to be seen whether or not a Joe Biden administration would pursue a Korea policy conducive to further military disentanglement between the United States and South Korea.


Article: https://nationalinterest.org/blog/korea-watch/does-south-korea-have-opcon-problem-169348

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Korea JoongAng Daily – U.S. says it will stop Iran-North Korea missile exchanges

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, shakes hands with North Korea's Foreign Minister at the time, Ri Yong-ho, during a meeting in Tehran on August 7, 2018. [AFP/YONHAP]

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, right, shakes hands with North Korea’s Foreign Minister at the time, Ri Yong-ho, during a meeting in Tehran on August 7, 2018. [AFP/YONHAP]

Washington is concerned about North Korea’s cooperation with Iran on long-range missile development and will do anything it can to prevent it, said a U.S. State Department special envoy.

Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela Elliott Abrams made the comment in response to a reporter’s question about potential ties between Pyongyang and Tehran on weapons development, hours after U.S. President Donald Trump announced United Nations sanctions against Iran were back in force.

The unilateral measures, coming less than two months before election day on Nov. 3, have not been reciprocated by other UN Security Council members like China, Russia or even U.S. allies Britain and France, which have urged the Trump administration to respect the nuclear deal made with Tehran during the Obama years, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Jcpoa).

On Sunday, Reuters reported a senior U.S. official requesting anonymity saying, without citing evidence, that Iran had resumed cooperation with North Korea in developing long-range missiles, “including the transfer of critical parts.”

No details were given as to when such exchanges began, stopped or started again, Reuters said.

In a press conference announcing Trump’s executive order restoring sanctions on Iran, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a warning threatening punishment for any country that continues to trade arms with Tehran.

“Our actions today are a warning that should be heard worldwide,” Pompeo said. “No matter who you are, if you violate the UN arms embargo on Iran, you risk sanctions.”

Though its contours are unclear, Pyongyang and Tehran share an extensive history of cooperation on strategic munitions development going back decades, a relationship that some experts have called a de facto alliance that not only includes exchanges in technicians and arms but also in key technology.

In mid-2016, North Korea tested its Hwasong-10 intermediate-range ballistic missile, also known as the Musudan, with an estimated maximum range of 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles). The following year, Iran tested a medium-range missile, later dubbed the Khorramshahr, that closely resembled the Musudan though with a significantly reduced range of around 2,500 kilometers.

The Khorramshahr is believed to have vastly expanded Tehran’s strike capabilities in the region, and, had it the range of the Musudan, would have given the country the ability to target several European capitals from Iranian territory.

Other experts noted that Iran tested a Shahab-3 or Shahab-2 medium-range ballistic missile in January 2017 based on North Korea’s Rodong or Scud-C missiles.

Tehran is also believed to have used its Qiam series missiles — based on the North’s Scud-C system — to launch attacks on American bases in Iraq last January.

But the relationship is reciprocal, also benefitting Pyongyang’s missile development capabilities, experts have said.

According to Pyongyang-analysis website 38 North, the North’s test of its Pukkuksong-1 submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) in 2016, which used solid propellant rocket motors similar to that used in Iran’s Sejjil missile, raised the likelihood the technology was obtained from Tehran.

The common fear analysts and experts around the world have outlined is the extent to which Iran has access to North Korea’s most dangerous missiles to date, the Hwasong-14 and 15 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

The first stage 80-ton engine used for both missiles, based on a variant allegedly obtained from Ukraine for the Hwasong-12, is believed to have been shared with Iran.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK   [shim.kyueok@joongang.co.kr]


Article: https://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/2020/09/22/national/northKorea/Iran-North-Korea-missile/20200922181600366.html

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