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North Korea

Since King Jong Un was named supremem leader of North Korea after his father’s death on Dec. 28, 2011, Jong Un has stepped up his rhetoric surrounding longstanding animosities with South Korea and the United States.

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WASHINGTON – The U.N. Security Council unanimously passed tougher sanctions against North Korea Thursday targeting the secretive nation’s nuclear program hours after Pyongyang threatened a possible “preemptive nuclear attack.”

“These sanctions will bite, and bite hard,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said after the vote.

China, North Korea’s key ally, could have used its veto power to block the sanctions. Instead, after weeks of negotiating, it signed on to the final draft.

“China is a country of principle,” China’s U.N. Ambassador Li Baodong said. “We are firmly committed to safeguarding peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.”

north korea nuclear test

Courtesy Yonhap/Los Angeles Times

Leading up to the vote, Pyongyang ratcheted up its bellicose rhetoric.

A spokesman for the North Korean foreign ministry suggested the United States “is set to light a fuse for a nuclear war.”

As a result, North Korea “will exercise the right to a preemptive nuclear attack to destroy the strongholds of the aggressors and to defend the supreme interests of the country,” the country said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

kim jong un

Courtesy of blog.foreignpolicy.com

(CNN) — North Korea threatened Tuesday to nullify the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War in 1953, citing U.S.-led international moves to impose new sanctions against it over its recent nuclear test, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.

The North’s military said it will also cut off direct phone links with South Korea at the inter-Korean border village of Panmunjom, Yonhap said, citing North Korea’s news outlet.

Q&A: How worried should we be about North Korea’s nuclear test?

North and South Korea have technically been at war for decades. The 1950-53 civil war ended in a truce rather than a peace treaty.

A draft U.S. resolution to authorize more sanctions against North Korea in response to its controversial nuclear test was formally introduced Tuesday at the U.N. Security Council by U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice.

No vote on the draft resolution is expected Tuesday. A senior Obama administration official earlier told CNN that the United States and China, a key North Korean ally, had reached a tentative deal on the wording of the proposed resolution.

For the complete CNN story, go here.

RodmanNORTH KOREA – North Korean leader Kim JongUn sat down Thursday for a rare meeting with an American – the pierced, provocative former basketball star Dennis Rodman, according to media reports.

Rodman reportedly chatted with Kim as they sat side by side at a basketball game, the latest turn in his trip to Pyongyang, according to Chinese state media and a media company filming the trip. Afterward, he told Kim he had “a friend for life” in a speech before a massive crowd of North Koreans, the Vice media company said in a statement.

Vice, which is documenting the trip for an upcoming HBO special, has billed the tour as an unusual bid at “basketball diplomacy,” an attempt to find common ground on the basketball court. Three members of the Harlem Globetrotters also went on the weeklong trip, which was scheduled to include visits to North Korean monuments and running a basketball camp for North Korean children. Rodman and the Globetrotters arrived in North Korea this week.

The Harlem Globetrotters “are proud to continue our storied heritage of entertaining families and breaking down social barriers worldwide,” Harlem Globetrotters chief executive Kurt Schneider said in a statement. “Our aim is to entertain and inspire children everywhere. Every child deserves that opportunity.”

For more on this LA Times story, click here.

basketball_hoop-977PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA — NBA Hall of Fame star Dennis Rodman is showing off his skills in North Korea.

Rodman is joining three members of the Harlem Globetrotters to shoot footage for an upcoming HBO series. The American athletes say they’re hoping to promote basketball diplomacy by running a basketball camp for kids and playing some pick-up games while in Pyongyang.

The HBO series is scheduled to air April 5.

north korea nuclear test

Courtesy Yonhap/Los Angeles Times

BEIJING – North Korea tested a nuclear device Tuesday, state media said, defying international pressure to stop such activities and drawing quick condemnation from the White House.

State media said North Korea successfully detonated a miniature atomic bomb underground in a test geared toward protecting its safety and sovereignty from the United States.

The White House, meanwhile, issued a statement saying “these provocations do not make North Korea more secure.”

“Far from achieving its stated goal of becoming a strong and prosperous nation, North Korea has instead increasingly isolated and impoverished its people through its ill-advised pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery,” the White House statement said.

For the complete Los Angeles Times story, go here.

nkoreaWASHINGTON (CNN) — North Korea said Tuesday that it had conducted a new, more powerful underground nuclear test using more sophisticated technology, a move likely to rattle the already fragile security situation in Northeast Asia.

It is the first nuclear test carried out under the North’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, who appears to be sticking closely to his father’s policy of building up the isolated state’s military deterrent to keep its foes at bay, shrugging off the resulting international condemnation and sanctions.

It also provided a provocative reminder of a seemingly intractable foreign policy challenge for President Barack Obama ahead of his State of the Union address later Tuesday.

“The test was carried out as part of practical measures of counteraction to defend the country’s security and sovereignty in the face of the ferocious hostile act of the U.S.,” the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said, referring to new U.S.-led sanctions on Pyongyang in the wake of a recent long-range rocket launch.

The nuclear test Tuesday, which follows previous detonations by the North in 2006 and 2009, had greater explosive force and involved the use of a smaller, lighter device, KCNA reported.

That plays into fears in the United States and its allies that Pyongyang is moving closer to the kind of miniaturized nuclear device that it can mount on a long-range missile.

Despite the North’s claims of progress Tuesday, experts have said they believe the secretive state is still years away from having the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead on a missile.

After Pyongyang confirmed it had gone ahead with the test in defiance of international pressure, world leaders responded with condemnation.

“It is a clear and grave violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions,” the office of Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, said in a statement.

The United Nations Security Council will meet in New York on Tuesday morning to discuss the North’s latest test, a security council diplomat said, declining to be identified because of U.N. protocol on such matters.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the test was “extremely regrettable,” adding that Tokyo would “strongly” protest it.

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(CNN file photo) A missile is displayed during a military parade in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012.

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Thursday that it plans to carry out a new nuclear test and further long-range rocket launches, all of which it said are a part of a new phase of confrontation with the United States.

The North’s National Defense Commission said the moves would feed into an “upcoming all-out action” that would target the United States, “the sworn enemy of the Korean people.”

Carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, the defense commission statement followed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Tuesday that condemned North Korea’s recent rocket launch and expanded existing sanctions.

North Korea, which often issues bellicose statements in its state media, said Thursday that it rejected all Security Council resolutions concerning it.

It described this week’s resolution as “the most dangerous phase of the hostile policy toward the DPRK,” using the abbreviated version of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Just before the North sent out its hostile statement, a U.S. State Department official was telling reporters in Seoul that Washington hoped that Pyongyang wouldn’t carry out another nuclear test.

“It would be a mistake and a missed opportunity if they were to do it,” said Glyn Davies, the U.S. special envoy on North Korea. “This is not a moment to increase tension on the Korean peninsula.”

North Korea has carried out two previous nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009.

– CNN

For any updates, click here for the CNN story.

nkoreaSEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has arrested an American citizen — a man believed to be from the Seattle area — for committing an unspecified crime against the country, state media reported Friday, 10 days after U.S. officials said an American had been detained by the reclusive nation.

State media appeared to confirm reports that emerged in recent weeks that U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae was being held, identifying the detainee by the Korean name Pae Jun Ho.

U.S. and Korean news reports said Bae lives in the Seattle area, and that his mother lives in Lynnwood.

The Korean Central News Agency said the American citizen had “admitted his crime,” which was “proven through evidence,” but gave no details about the accusations against him. It reported that he had gone to a northeastern city in early November while on a tour.

Bae reportedly operated a tour company that took visitors to North Korea. Because the United States has no embassy or consulate in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, the Swedish Embassy acts as the protecting power for American citizens. North Korean state media said officials from the Swedish mission visited the American detainee Friday.

A number of Americans have been detained in North Korea in what experts believe is a maneuver to get the United States to engage with the isolated regime. In the last four years, five U.S. citizens have been arrested for entering the country illegally or on unspecified charges, the U.S. State Department aid in a September travel warning.

The country recently launched a rocket in defiance of the U.S. and its allies. North Korea claimed the purpose was to carry a satellite into space, but Western officials believe the launch doubled as a way of testing its missile technology.

– Los Angeles Times (CNN contributed to this report)

NKFLAGWASHINGTON — An American citizen has been detained in North Korea for more than a month, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

The U.S. government does not believe that Kenneth Bae, who has traveled to North Korea several times before, is being mistreated, a U.S. official told CNN. Bae has been involved with a Protestant religious movement, the official said.

The Swedish government, which acts as the protecting power for the U.S. in North Korea, is working to get consular access and trying to get him released, the official said.

Bae’s detention was first reported by South Korean newspapers, which said that Bae, a tour operator, entered North Korea at the port city of Rajin accompanied by five other tourists. Bae and the group were on a five-day trip to the country, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News.

One of the tour members was carrying a computer hard disk “that apparently contained sensitive information,” Yonhap News reported, citing a Korean-language paper.

According to reports, Bae is from Snohomish County, with a residence in Lynwood, Wash.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

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