North Korea said on Sunday it has detained another U.S. citizen on suspicion of “hostile acts” against the state, which would make him the fourth American to be held by the isolated country amid heightened diplomatic tensions with Washington. Kim Hak Song, who worked for the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, was detained on Saturday, the North’s KCNA news agency said. “A relevant institution of the DPRK detained American citizen Kim Hak Song on May 6 under a law of the DPRK on suspension of his hostile acts against it”, KCNA said. DPRK is short for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name. A third U.S. citizen, Kim Sang Dok, who was associated with the same school, was detained in late April for hostile acts, according to the North’s official media.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned on Friday that failure to curb North Korea’s nuclear and missile development could lead to ‘catastrophic consequences, while China and Russia cautioned Washington against threatening military force. Washington has recently lavished praise on Beijing for its efforts to rein in its ally Pyongyang, but Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made clear to the U.N. Security Council it was not only up to China to solve the North Korean problem. “The key to solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula does not lie in the hands of the Chinese side”, Wang told the 15-member council in remarks contradicting the White House belief that it does wield significant influence.
As North Korea gears up to celebrate its biggest national day so far, the ‘Day of the Sun’ when it will mark the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founding president, Kim Il Sung on Saturday – tensions in the region are at an all-time high. On April 25, it will also mark the 85th anniversary of the creation of the Korean People’s Army. In 2012, North Korea had tried to launch a long-range rocket carrying a satellite to mark the date, but failed. Then, last year, Pyongyang tested a newly developed intermediate-range missile. Since the start of 2016, the reclusive nation has been intensifying its nuclear capabilities and has tested several ballistic missiles.
North Korean state media warned on Tuesday of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of American aggression as a U.S. Navy strike group steamed toward the western Pacific. U.S. President Donald Trump, who has urged China to do more to rein in its impoverished ally and neighbor, said in a Tweet that North Korea was “looking for trouble” and the United States would “solve the problem” with or without Beijing’s help. Tension has escalated sharply on the Korean peninsula amid concerns that reclusive North Korea may soon conduct a sixth nuclear test and after Washington said at the weekend it was diverting the aircraft carrier strike group Carl Vinson toward the Korean peninsula in a show of force.
The warm words from Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended his first trip to Asia since taking office with an agreement to work together with China on North Korea and putting aside trickier issues. China has been irritated at being repeatedly told by Washington to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and the US decision to base an advanced missile defence system in South Korea.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pushed back against the tougher U.S. line on North Korea, reiterating his country’s view that the only way to rein in its reclusive neighbor is through talks. Wang spoke at a briefing in Beijing with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who in Seoul on Friday refused to rule out a preemptive strike against Pyongyang if the threat from its weapons program was deemed severe enough.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday the escalating threat from North Korea’s nuclear program showed a clear need for a “new approach”, although he stopped short of detailing what steps the Trump administration would pursue. Tillerson was speaking at a news conference following talks with Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, the start of his first trip to Asia as secretary of state. It was the first time Tillerson, a former oil executive with no prior diplomatic experience, had taken questions from the media since coming into office in early February.
The United Nations will assist to smoothen the process of bringing out two of its staff, who are Malaysian citizens, from North Korea. A UN source in New York told Bernama that the two women, who are in their 30s, were contacted as soon as the travel ban notice on Malaysians in North Korea issued by Pyongyang was reported by the international media. Both are safe. They are not officers or staff of the Malaysian Embassy.“They are our staff (UN) who were sent to North Korea to attend a course related to the World Food Programme (WFP)”, the source said.
North Korea has fired four ballistic missiles, with at least three landing in Japanese-controlled waters, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has told his parliament. “North Korea today fired four ballistic missiles almost simultaneously, and they flew some 1,000 kilometers”, Abe said on March 6. He said three of them landed in the sea area of Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The South Korean military said that ‘several missiles’ were fired into the Sea of Japan. It said South Korea and the United States were analyzing flight data to ascertain further details
Due to a number of limitations the THAAD missile defense system doesn’t directly pose a major risk to Russia and China. However, Moscow and Beijing still see a potential threat, which does not come from the missiles but the system’s radars that would allow U.S. to monitor launches of Russian and Chinese intercontinental missiles. Despite the U.S. and South Korea repeatedly claiming that THAAD poses no threats to China or Russia, and is being deployed to defend the South from North Korean missile launches, Moscow and Beijing still harbor serious concerns about the deployment.