Just as Sept. 2 was Syria’s big news day on Target Centermass, so too is today a big day for North Korea, as news swarmed all around the dictatorship.
First, its sister to the south is ratcheting up security on its border.
South Korea is stepping up security along the Demilitarized Zone frontier with North Korea after a hole was found cut in a border fence, the South Korean Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
A ministry spokesman told a televised briefing the military could, if necessary, also mobilize reserve forces along the border, which is the most fortified frontier in the world. Any gap in the fence could mean North Korea agents have been infiltrated into the South.
Because of this border breach, South Korea is also on the hunt for possible infiltrators from North Korea.
South Korea imposed “Jindogye-1″ around Yeoncheon, the highest level of vigilance the military can issue before an actual sighting of a communist infiltrator, said another ministry spokesman, who also refused to be named.
Domestic media carried similar reports. Jindogye-1 reportedly requires military units to move troops for patrol and combat readiness. Soldiers also join police at checkpoints.
Ministry officials refused to discuss details of the measures taken Tuesday.
Police and soldiers tightened inspections in 54 checkpoints on the roads north of Seoul and established 16 temporary checkpoints, South Korea’s national news agency Yonhap reported.
Meanwhile, the U.S. is working on a resumption of talks concerning North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has wrapped up a three-nation Asia tour after having won vows from China and Japan to press North Korea to resume stalled talks on its nuclear weapons programs.
Powell met President Roh Moo-Hyun and other top officials on the last leg of a three-nation Asian tour aimed at forging a joint strategy with Tokyo, Beijing and Seoul to get Pyongyang to return to the table unconditionally.
Despite success on his first two stops, North Korea shows no sign of dropping its boycott of the talks and is threatening to bolster its military deterrent to counter “hostile” US acts.
As a show of force for North Korea’s sake, the U.S. and others are conducting a saber rattling by sea.
Ships from Japan, the United States, Australia and France steamed out to sea under cloudy skies on Tuesday for Asia’s first naval exercise to clamp down on weapons of mass destruction, a drill that communist North Korea has called hostile and provocative.
The Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) drill in waters off Tokyo is the 12th of its kind in the U.S.-led initiative but the first to be held in the backyard of North Korea, a clear focus of the exercise.
“What we’re trying to do is safeguard our innocent civilians from rogue states and terrorist groups trying to acquire WMD (weapons of mass destruction),” [Washington's main anti-proliferation point-man John] Bolton said as the ship headed for Sagami Bay southwest of Tokyo.
“We’re sending a signal to everybody who wants to traffic in WMD that we have zero tolerance for that,” he added.
The anti-proliferation initiative, under which ships and aircraft suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction can be intercepted, has the support of more than 60 countries, although some legal experts say it could contravene international law.
Regarding the talks, do not expect any budging on North Korea’s part until the U.S. presidential election is resolved and the commies see what they will be facing over the next four years. Will it be continued international pressure under Bush or bilateral talks (and probably another round of gifts and promises) with Kerry? Powell is playing the game he has to, but certainly he holds no hopes of progress before the electoral cloud has settled.