Posts Tagged ‘North Korea’


November 28, 2013

Washington Free Beacon on November 26, 2013, reported that Iranian missile technicians secretly visited North Korea as part of joint development of a new rocket booster for long-range missiles or space launchers at the same time nuclear talks took place in Geneva, according to U.S. officials. Excerpts below:

Several groups of technicians from the Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group (SHIG), a unit in charge of building Iran’s liquid-fueled missiles, traveled to Pyongyang during the past several month, including as recently as late October, to work on the new, 80-ton rocket booster being developed by the North Koreans, according to officials familiar with intelligence reports.

The booster is believed by U.S. intelligence agencies to be intended for a new long-range missile or space launch vehicle that could be used to carry nuclear warheads, and could be exported to Iran in the future.

Recent U.S. intelligence assessments have said that both North Korea and Iran are expected to have missiles capable of hitting the United States with a nuclear warhead in the next two years.

The Iranian cooperation reveals that the nuclear framework agreement concluded Sunday in Geneva has not slowed Tehran’s drive for missiles…


November 13, 2013

Fox News on November 11, 2013, reported that as many as 80 people were publicly executed in North Korea earlier this month, some for offenses as minor as watching South Korean movies or possessing a Bible.

South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo reported that the so-called criminals were put to death in seven cities across North Korea on Nov. 3, in the first known large-scale public executions by the Kim Jong-un regime.

A source, who is familiar with internal affairs in the North and who recently visited the country, told the paper that about 10 people were killed in each city.

Eight people — their heads covered with white bags — were tied to stakes at a local stadium in the city of Wonsan, before authorities shot them with a machine gun, according to the source.

Wonsan authorities gathered a crowd of 10,000 people, including children, at Shinpoong Stadium and forced them to watch the killings.

“I heard from the residents that they watched in terror as the corpses were (so) riddled by machine-gun fire that they were hard to identify afterward,” the JoongAng Ilbo source said.

Relatives or accomplices of the execution victims implicated in their alleged crimes were sent to prison camps.

There is no clear reason for the executions.

Simultaneous executions in seven cities could suggest an extreme measure by the North Korean government to quell public unrest or any capitalistic inclinations that may accompany its development projects.

North Korean law permits executions for conspiring to overthrow the government, treason and terrorism. But the country has also been known to order public executions for minor infractions such as religious activism, cellphone use and stealing food, in an effort to intimidate the public.


October 28, 2013

Radio Free Asia on October 25, 2013, reported that former U.S. president George W. Bush held talks with a defector from North Korean who gave a harrowing account of his childhood spent in a camp for political prisoners in a meeting seeking to draw attention to human rights abuses in the reclusive, nuclear-armed nation. Excerpts below:

Bush and Shin Dong Hyuk, whose story is told in Escape From Camp 14, written by veteran American journalist Blaine Harden, spoke for an hour at the recently opened George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas, where the former president expressed concern that abuses suffered by prisoners in North Korea during Shin’s time in the camp continue today, sources said.

Shin, who escaped in 2005 from Kwan-li-so (Prison-labor camp) No. 14 by crawling through an electrified fence, said that Bush had invited him because of the former president’s concern for human rights in North Korea and because he had been impressed by the book about him.

Even now, almost 200,000 inmates of the North Korean camps are subjected to hunger, torture, and other abuse, with some publicly executed for attempting to escape, participants in the meeting said as they called for the world to pay greater attention to the sufferings endured in the camps.

Following the meeting, the former U.S. president and former political prisoner exchanged books, with Shin presenting Bush with a copy of Escape From Camp 14, and Bush in turn offering Shin a copy of his memoirs.

“Former president Bush is deeply interested in [the situation of] North Korean human rights, and especially in the political prison camps,” said executive director of the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea Greg Scarlatoiu, who attended the meeting.

Scarlatoiu added that Wednesday’s meeting creates a new opportunity to press the international community, including the U.S., to work to improve human rights in North Korea.

In September, the head of a U.N. investigation into human rights abuses in North Korea cited “unspeakable atrocities” in the secretive state…

Michael Kirby, chairman of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea, told the Geneva-based U.N. Human Rights Council that testimonies heard so far by his panel indicate that North Korean authorities are responsible for violations in every area it had been tasked with investigating.

Kiriby’s commission heard testimony from a former prisoner driven by hunger to eat rodents, lizards, and grass.

It also heard from a young woman who said she saw another female prisoner forced to drown her own baby in a bucket, Kirby said, and a man who said he was forced to collect and burn the corpses of prisoners who died of starvation.

The commission has now held hearings in Seoul, Tokyo, and London ahead of a meeting this week in Washington, and will present its final findings to the U.N. Human Rights Commission in March.


October 14, 2013

Daily Telegraph, London, on October 14, 2013, reported that allegations have been made of chemical weapons testing on political prisoners in North Korea. They were made in the most recent report on Pyongyang’s chemical weapons capabilities by 38 North, the respected web site operated by the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and are based on testimony from both prisoners and former guards who managed to defect.

One defector who served as a security official at Detention Camp 22 described tests in which healthy prisoners were placed inside glass chambers and technicians monitoring the effects as gas was pumped into the chambers.

The defector said: “I watched a whole family being tested on suffocating gas and dying in the gas chamber: Parents, one son and a daughter,” he said. “The parents were vomiting and dying, but until the very last moment they tried to save the kids by doing mouth-to-mouth breathing.”

“For the first time it hit me that even prisoners are capable of powerful human affection.”

A former member of the North Korean military recounted his involvement in similar experiments on an island off the west coast of the Korean peninsula, which has parallels with a report issued by a human rights group in Seoul in June that claimed the North is carrying out chemical and biological weapons experiments on disabled children on an island off South Hamgyong Province.

It added, however, “Taken as a whole, and within the context of what is currently known about the treatment of political prisoners within the DPRK, such reports suggest a long-standing DPRK policy of low-level lethal testing of chemical agents on unwilling human subjects.”

The study suggests that North Korea is able to manufacture 4,500 tons of chemical agents a year, but has the capacity to ramp that up to 12,000 tons a year in the event of war.

The chemicals that the regime is producing include hydrogen cyanide, phosgene, sarin, tabun, chlorine and a number of agents from the mustard gas family.

The report added that North Korea has reportedly provided chemical weapons or technology for Egypt, Iran, Libya and Syria since the 1990s.


August 23, 2013

Fox News on August 21, 2013, reported that a North Korean mother inside one of the country’s notorious prison camps was forced to kill her own baby, a former inmate said, during a U.N. panel hearing in South Korea that’s ongoing this week. Excerpts below:

Jee Heon-a, a 34-year-old defector, told the Commission of Inquiry Tuesday in Seoul that a security guard at one camp made the mother turn the baby upside down into a bowl of water.

“The mother begged the guard to spare her, but he kept beating her,” she said, according to Reuters. “So the mother, her hands shaking, put the baby face down in the water. The crying stopped and a bubble rose up as it died. A grandmother who had delivered the baby quietly took it out.”

Shin Dong-hyuk, another defector who was born in a prison camp and was punished for dropping a sewing machine, said he was grateful when guards cut off his finger, instead of his entire hand.

North Korea has blocked U.N. investigators from entering the country, Reuters reports.

There are believed to be up to 200,000 people being held in prison camps.


April 26, 2013

Peter Brookes on April 25, 2013 in the National Review called for United States to upgrade its missile-defense technology. Excerpts below:

Our attention is focused on the terrorist attack in Boston last week, but just two weeks ago we were gripped by North Korean threats of a new Korean War and the possibility of New York’s being hit attacked by long-range missiles. While North Korean promises of thermonuclear war have faded from the news for the moment, the threat hasn’t gone away for good.

The national-security challenges our country faces from the advances in ballistic-missile and nuclear-weapon programs continue apace. Global missile- and nuclear-proliferation problems are real, and they can’t be ignored. So the development and deployment of missile-defense programs must be a priority for American security.

Take North Korea. Bluster, belligerence, brinkmanship, and blackmail are routinely directed at Washington. Yet Pyongyang’s actual ability to carry out threats against us is improving – and significantly.

There is plenty of debate within the U.S. intelligence community as to whether North Korea already has a functional nuclear warhead that it can mate with the missiles of various ranges currently in its arsenal. But there is little doubt that we will be near, or at, the top of the targeting list when they do have one.

Then there’s Iran. Although they are also out of the news at the moment, Iranian centrifuges continue to spin, producing kilograms of low- and medium-enriched uranium, which — if further enriched — could be used in nuclear weapons.

While publicly available intelligence estimates differ, Tehran may have the wherewithal to produce its first nuclear weapon in the very near future.

Iran’s ballistic-missile program isn’t any more comforting. In 2009, Tehran was able to put a satellite into space using its own launch vehicle. Today, the U.S. government estimates that Iran will have an ICBM by 2015, adding to what is already the largest ballistic-missile arsenal in the Middle East.

While seemingly obvious, it’s worth pointing out that the principles of physics that would allow North Korea to put a warhead anywhere on the Earth’s surface also apply to Iran.

We shouldn’t overlook the Chinese or the Russians, who are also modernizing their strategic arsenals.

The obvious question is: What should we do?

As we all know, diplomacy and punitive economic sanctions haven’t stopped North Korean or Iranian missile or nuclear programs — despite years of trying.

Nothing makes more sense than investing in American missile defenses.

With advances in missile defense, a robust, layered, capable system will not only protect us from enemy ballistic missiles and their nuclear and other payloads (e.g., chemical, biological, conventional, or electromagnetic pulse), but it will provide decision-makers with additional policy options beyond massive retaliation.

In addition, due to missile defense’s ability to blunt the effectiveness of the ballistic-missile threat, it may well deter aggression with these weapons against us in the first place.

The best option now is to move forward vigorously with funding, developing, and deploying American missile-defense systems to protect the homeland, to protect our troops overseas, and to protect our allies and friends from the growing nuclear and missile menaces around the world.

Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.


April 19, 2013

One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West

By Blaine Harden $26.95

Harden’s new book, Escape from Camp 14, is the shocking story of one of the few people born in a North Korean political prison to have escaped and survived.

North Korea is an isolated, hungry, bankrupt and belligerent tyranny armed also with nuclear weapons. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people are being held in its political prison camps, which have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. This is the story of how Shin Donghyuk managed to escape.

Through the lens of Shin’s life unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence-he saw his mother only as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his own family. Harden offers an unequaled inside account of one of the world’s darkest nations and a riveting tale of endurance, courage, and survival.