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Summary of external news of North Korea this week

SEOUL, Feb. 26 (Yonhap) — The following is a summary of external news of North Korea this week.

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Joint efforts of S. Korea, Japan critical to denuclearization of N. Korea: State Dept.

WASHINGTON, Feb. 19 (Yonhap) — Any U.S. effort to denuclearize North Korea will not be as effective without the support and close cooperation of both South Korea and Japan, a U.S. State Department official said Friday, highlighting the importance of the two U.S. allies working together.

Ned Price, press secretary at the State Department, also said three-way cooperation between the countries is important to promoting their shared values in the Indo-Pacific region.

“We know that any approach to North Korea, one that puts denuclearization at the center as we plan to do, won’t be effective if we are not working in tandem with our Japanese and Korean counterparts,” Price told a telephonic press conference.

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N.K. uranium plant indicates ongoing operations throughout winter: U.S. monitor

SEOUL, Feb. 21 (Yonhap) — North Korea’s main nuclear complex showed continued activity at its uranium enrichment facility throughout the winter, a U.S. monitor said Sunday.

In an experts’ analysis of satellite imagery from January and February this year, the think tank, 38 North, said the movement of specialized vehicles and equipment near the uranium facility at Yongbyon indicates that the Uranium Enrichment Plant (UEP) has continued operations.

Satellite imagery, however, showed no signs of activity at nuclear reactors, it said.

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U.S. missile defense ‘clearly focused’ on N. Korea: Gen. Hyten

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23 (Yonhap) — The United States’ missile defense capability is “clearly” focused on North Korea and must continue to advance to meet evolving threats from the North, the vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff said Tuesday.

Gen. John Hyten argued the North poses one of the most immediate threats to the U.S. in that the country has a real potential of using its weapons against the U.S.

“Our national missile defense capability is clearly focused on North Korea right now, not on China, Russia and Iran,” the Air Force general told a webinar hosted by a Washington-based think tank, the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

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U.S. seeks return to U.N. rights council, points to abuses in N. Korea

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24 (Yonhap) — The United States on Wednesday announced its plan to return to the U.N. Human Rights Council, calling it an important venue to help protect the human rights of people in countries such as North Korea.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington will seek its election to the human rights council that will begin early next year.

“The United States is committed to a world in which human rights are protected, their defenders are celebrated, and those who commit human rights abuses are held accountable. Promoting respect for human rights is not something we can do alone, but is best accomplished working with our allies and partners across the globe,” Blinken said of a reason for the U.S.’ bid for a seat at the U.N. council.

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U.S. court orders N. Korea to pay US$2.3 bln over 1968 capture of USS Pueblo

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 (Yonhap) — A federal district court has ordered North Korea to pay over US$2 billion in damages to the crew and family of a U.S. naval ship captured in 1968, court documents released this week showed.

In its Feb. 16 ruling, the U.S. District Court for D.C. found North Korea was responsible for the kidnapping of the USS Pueblo, as well as the imprisonment and torture of its crew members.

“This case arises from the kidnapping, imprisonment, and torture of United States servicemen aboard the USS Pueblo (“Pueblo”) by agents of the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“North Korea”) in 1968,” says the court’s opinion, posted on the court’s website on Wednesday.
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