Friday, September 23, 2011

The importance of being earnest

North Korea would never abolish nuclear weapons as they are seen as pillars of the military state, but the United States stubbornly sticks to demands of complete denuclearization while withholding food aid. Rather than constantly indulging in hardline rhetoric, Washington could purse the more realistic goals of ensuring non-proliferation and appealing to Pyongyang's better-dressed, cell phone-carrying progeny.

You can read my full article here

Monday, September 19, 2011

Summary of North Korean Food Aid Debate in August 2011

August 2

The Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation, a South Korean NGO, sent 300 tons of flour aid to North Korea.

August 3

South Korea offered $4.7 million in medical supplies and other necessities for flood relief; however, additional request for building materials in aid was rejected by Seoul. Representatives from the Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation begin their visit to Sariwon to monitor the distribution of aid dispatched from South Korea.

August 4

Deputy spokesperson Mark Toner stated that the U.S. is still assessing “whether [US] can provide food assistance [to North Korea] in a way that’s consistent with [US] policy.” Flood aid was supposedly not being considered during the August 4 press briefing

August 9

The EU donated 200,000 Euros in flood aid. The new aid comes in addition to the food aid worth 10 million Euros sent by the EU in July.

August 10

Senior South Korean official noted North Korea’s food situation is not that serious compared to previous years

August 11

State Department spokesperson noted although the United States may provide food aid, the North Korean regime still holds "primary responsibility" for feeding its people in the long term. The spokesperson also noted that better relations were necessary for greater cooperation in food security and the “best route would be back to engagement with the international community, which would allow trade and allow an open system”

August 15

State department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that South Korea’s decision to provide food aid was a sovereign decision, implying that Washington and Seoul are not on the same page

August 18

US offered $900,000 in emergency flood assistance to North Korea. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said "It includes things like plastic sheeting, tents," but would not include food, which is being “internally reviewed.”

Meanwhile, ROK ministry of Unification announced that The Korean Council for Reconciliation and Cooperation submitted a video it recorded from Aug. 3-6 of North Koreans distributing South Korean food aid to its people.

August 20

The first shipment of 3,560 metric tons of milling wheat arrived in North Korea from Russia. Russia’s United Grain plans to deliver 50,000 tons of wheat from ports in Vladivostok and Novorossiysk.

August 20

Kim Jong Il arrived in Russia to attend a meeting with President Medvedev.

August 22

North Korean Red Cross made an emergency appeal for £ 2.7 million. At the same time, North Korea ordered all 14 South Korean workers at Geumgang resort to leave and said it would scrap all South Korean assets in the region.

August 24

During his meeting with President Medvedev in Ulan Ude, Kim Jong Il promised to work on introducing a moratorium on testing and spent nuclear fuel processing. Senior Washington official said that the offer was “welcome but ... insufficient” to return to the negotiating tables.


No notable discussion on North Korean food aid.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Brief timeline of the Kosovo-Serbia tensions in September

September 2

Serbia and Kosovo struck an agreement on “status-neutral documents” whereupon Serbia will recognize stamps on documents that say “Kosovo Customs” without any state insignia such as the Kosovo flag or coat-of-arms.

September 8

Serbia confirms that two members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) have initiated the procedure to revoke their recognition of Kosovo. Pristina called the statement propaganda.

Serbs in northern Kosovo unblock roads and EULEX police returned to southern Kosovo.

September 9

Serbian Minister for Kosovo Goran Bogdanović says deployment of Kosovo customs officers at checkpoints without Belgrade’s approval represents a serious threat. He added that EULEX's actions in support of Priština's policy represented a blatant violation of the status neutrality.

September 13

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Mission in Kosovo called Tuesday on Kosovo institutions to take further action in support of repatriated persons.

The Serbian government prepares a letter addressed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon regarding the latest statements by Pristina representatives that they will take over control of border crossings in northern Kosovo as of September 15th. The letter will warn that violence could threaten the stability of the region. Boris Tadić says he will ask international officials to prevent Priština's threats and unilateral attempts to deploy Kosovo customs at the administrative line.

Traffic between Zvecan and Kosovska Mitrovica is suspended. The roadblocks were reestablished after an attempt of KFOR vehicles to reach the Jarinje administrative crossing. KFOR was intercepted at about 10.15 p.m. in Zvecan, and the vehicles drove back to their base, after nearly two-hour talks with the gathered Serbs.

September 14

The United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is ready to revoke its decision on collection of customs duties on the goods from BiH, if the country accepts the customs stamp delivered to all signatories of the CEFTA agreement, the BiH Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations released.

Serbian opposition party SNS deputy leader Aleksandar Vučić has condemned the authorities’ inability to make any kind of plan regarding Priština’s unilateral moves in Kosovo.

Serbian Parliament Speaker Slavica Đukić-Dejanović has stated that Serbia's EU candidacy will not be jeopardized. Đukić-Dejanović stated that it would be good to start timely talks with Priština on the demarcation line between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo.

Pristina finalizes operational plan to take control over customs points in the north. Prime Minister Thaci has declared that the implementation of the plan will start on Friday, when Kosovo customs and police officers will be stationed at Brnjak and Jarinje.

Deputy PM and Interior Minister Ivica Dačić noted that it was "wrong to believe" Serbia was ready to do anything to become a candidate for EU membership. Dačić, added that Serbia and Kosovo “could also discuss parallel institutions of (ethnic) Albanians in southern parts of central Serbia."

A barricade in the northern Kosovo municipality of Zvečan was removed on Wednesday about 11:00 CET, allowing traffic to be normalized. A convoy of about 15 KFOR vehicles was also allowed to go through.

Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci has confirmed that Kosovo policemen and customs officers will take over the Jarinje and Brnjak administrative crossings together with EULEX and KFOR on September 16.

Ministry for Kosovo State Secretary Oliver Ivanović says Priština will probably postpone deployment of customs and police at the Jarinje and Brnjak crossings.

September 15

Temporary truce between Serbian and Kosovo officials, established by Commander of NATO forces in Kosovo (KFOR), German general Erhard Buehler, expires.

September 16

The operation to take control of customs points northern Kosovo due to begin.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Crouching dragon, rising sun

With the completion of its aircraft carrier, China's capacity to further up the ante in disputed East Asian waters has drastically increased. Japan's deep reach into the East China Sea, the capacity to contribute to the security of Northeast Asia, and above all an increasingly predominant political role in the region give Tokyo the power to be a natural counterweight to the growing influence of China.

You can read my full article here

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Dear Leader plays it smart

Kim Jong-il is playing a clever game. By offering to discuss nonproliferation and making non-binding promises, he invites other ambitious powers to the table and protects himself from unanimous international action to force the nuclear program to an end. Far from isolationist, Pyongyang is reaching out to the world, much as it did in the 1970s.

You can read my full article here