Summary of external news of North Korea this week

SEOUL, Nov. 20 (Yonhap) — The following is a summary of external news of North Korea this week.

S. Korea should send strong message to N. Korea not to make provocations: ex-U.N. chief

SEOUL, Nov. 13 (Yonhap) — South Korea should send strong message to North Korea to make it refrain from provocations, former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday, amid speculation Pyongyang could soon launch missiles to test the incoming Joe Biden administration.

Ban made the remark in a keynote speech at a seminar in Seoul, saying the North’s denuclearization issue is likely to be back “on a rollercoaster” following the inauguration of Joe Biden as the next U.S. President.

“There is a possibility the Kim Jong-un regime could test-launch a missile to test the Biden administration,” he said. “It is necessary for us to send strong messages using various routes so that they don’t make such provocations.”

Microsoft says N. Korean, Russian hackers attacking COVID-19 vaccine makers

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 (Yonhap) — U.S. tech giant Microsoft has detected cyberattacks from three foreign entities, including two from North Korea, against companies and research institutes working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, a company official said Friday, urging government action to protect such facilities.

“In recent months, we’ve detected cyberattacks from three nation-state actors targeting seven prominent companies directly involved in researching vaccines and treatments for COVID-19,” Tom Burt, vice president for customer security and trust, wrote in a blog posted on the Microsoft website.

Burt said the seven companies included “leading pharmaceutical companies and vaccine researchers in Canada, France, India, South Korea and the United States.”

Obama says improved attitude toward U.S. allowed ‘robust sanctions’ against N. Korea

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 (Yonhap) — The United States was able to push through “robust” sanctions against North Korea by the U.N. Security Council in 2009 thanks to its improved relations with other countries, former U.S. President Barack Obama said.

In a new memoir, “A Promised Land,” the former U.S. president also said that his 2009 speech in Prague calling for a world free of nuclear weapons was partly aimed at urging efforts to prevent Iran and North Korea from further advancing their nuclear programs.

“I had a second, more practical reason for focusing on the nuclear issue in a way that would make headlines across Europe: We needed to find a means to prevent Iran and North Korea from advancing their nuclear programs,” Obama said, according to a copy of his book obtained by Yonhap News Agency.

U.S. successfully destroys ICBM with sea-launched interceptor in test: Pentagon

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) — The United States has successfully intercepted and destroyed a mock intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in its latest test of a sea-based missile defense system, the Defense Department said Tuesday.

The field test involved a threat-representative ICBM, launched from a U.S. missile test site in the Marshall Islands early Tuesday morning (Washington time).

A Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missile launched from a U.S. destroyer out in the sea intercepted and destroyed the target, the Pentagon said in a press release.

Biegun notes need for ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches toward N. Korea: lawmakers

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) — U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun stressed the need for a mixture of “top-down” and “bottom-up” approaches to rid North Korea of its nuclear ambition in a meeting with a group of visiting South Korean lawmakers on Tuesday.

The top U.S. negotiator in talks with North Korea also promised efforts to make sure his experience and lessons from dealing with the communist state will be transferred to the next U.S. administration, according to the South Korean lawmakers, led by Rep. Song Young-gil of the ruling Democratic Party.

Their trip came after Democratic candidate Joe Biden was declared the winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election. Biden ha

Perry says diplomatic solution still possible on N. Korea’s denuclearization

SEOUL, Nov. 18 (Yonhap) — Former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said Wednesday that it is still possible to achieve peaceful denuclearization of North Korea through a diplomatic solution despite the North’s enhanced nuclear capabilities, Seoul’s unification ministry said.

Perry made the remarks during a three-way video call with Unification Minister Lee In-young and Jeong Se-hyun, a former unification minister and current vice chairperson of the presidential National Unification Advisory Council, according to the ministry.

Perry, who served as defense secretary under President Bill Clinton’s administration from 1994-1997, is known for his so-called Perry Process that sought a three-stage resolution to North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction.

U.N. rapporteur sends letters to two Koreas calling for info provision on fisheries official killing

SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) — The U.N. special rapporteur on North Korea’s human rights situation has sent the two Koreas letters calling for sufficient information on the North’s killing of a South Korean fisheries official in September, a diplomatic source said Thursday.

On Tuesday, Tomas Ojea Quintana handed the “joint communication” letters to the diplomatic missions of the two Koreas in Geneva, Switzerland, as Pyongyang has yet to respond to Seoul’s call for a joint probe into the official’s death, with his family calling for a U.N. investigation.

The 47-year-old official was shot to death at sea by the North Korean military after drifting into North Korean waters, Seoul officials have said, tentatively concluding he attempted to defect to the North. His family has rejected the possibility of his defection.

More verification needed over N.K. ICBM’s reentry capability: defense ministry

SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) — More verification is necessary to determine whether North Korea has atmospheric reentry technology for its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), the defense ministry said Thursday, following a U.S. think tank report suggesting Pyongyang has already mastered the technology.

In the 2021 Index of U.S. Military Strength report, the Heritage Foundation said Pyongyang’s ICBM reentry vehicles “would likely perform adequately if flown to a normal trajectory to continental U.S. targets,” citing U.S. intelligence authorities.

Asked to comment on the assessment, South Korea’s deputy defense ministry spokesperson, Col. Moon Hong-sik, pointed out that North Korea has not conducted a real-range ICBM test necessary to prove its reentry capabilities.

Biden administration should not close dialogue channel with N. Korea: ex-U.S. envoy

SEOUL, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) — The incoming U.S. administration of President-elect Joe Biden should not throw away a dialogue channel that President Donald Trump built with North Korea, a former U.S. point man on Pyongyang said Thursday.

Joseph Yun, former U.S. special representative for North Korea, made the remark at a virtual seminar hosted by the Korea Institute for National Unification (KINU), calling on the incoming administration to send a message to Pyongyang saying that engagement will remain open.

“There’s no reason to close that channel,” Yun said.

U.S. Treasury imposes sanctions on 2 new N. Korean entities

WASHINGTON, Nov. 19 (Yonhap) — The U.S. Department of Treasury on Thursday added two new North Korean companies to its list of entities subject to sanctions that seek to prevent North Korea’s weapons programs.

They include Korea Cholsan General Trading Corp., also known as Chkholsan, Cholsan Trading Co. or Cholson LLC, and is based in Pyongyang, according to the latest update posted on the department website.

The other is Mokran LLC, based in St. Petersburg, Russia, it said.