See More on Facebook


Biegun arrives in Seoul amid deadlock in NK-US nuclear talks

Pyongyang says it conducted “another crucial test” at Sohae site.

Written by

Updated: December 16, 2019

US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun arrived in Seoul on Sunday for a “close coordination” with allies amid the deadlock in the denuclearization talks with Pyongyang just weeks before the communist regime’s year-end deadline.

A day before, North Korea issued statements to announce that it had carried out “another crucial test” at a satellite launching site, warning the United States to “hold off” any action to “rattle” the regime.

During his three-day trip here, the US special envoy is expected to meet with officials here to discuss on the recent situation on the Korean Peninsula and on joint efforts to make progress in the denuclearization talk with the North.

On Monday, Biegun will meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and also his counterpart Lee Do-hoon. He may also hold an informal press briefing during his visit, before leaving for Tokyo on Tuesday.

According to the US Department of State, Deputy Special Representative for North Korea Alex Wong and NSC Senior Director for Asian Affairs Allison Hooker accompanied Biegun on the trip.

Biegun’s trip comes leaving just a couple of weeks before the year-end deadline that the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has set unilaterally in April, when he called for the US to come up with a “flexible” and “creative” proposal that would satisfy him in the nuclear talks.

Before leaving for South Korea at the airport in Washington, Biegun told a news outlet that the US’ policy on North Korea’s denuclearization remains unchanged, and that North Korea knows it.

As its deadline is drawing in, Pyongyang is seen to ramp up pressure against the US, conducting what it calls as important tests that will restrain the nuclear threats of the US.

On Saturday, Pyongyang issued a statement under the name of Academy of Defence Science, which said it “successfully” conducted “another crucial test” at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, which it had vowed to dismantle in previous summits with the US. Sometimes referred to as the Tongchang-ri site, the Sohae site also has a rocket engine testing facility.

“Another crucial test was successfully conducted at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground from 22:41 to 22:48 on December 13, 2019,” the statement read.

Hours later on Saturday, Pak Jong-chon, the chief of General Staff of the North’s Korean People’s Army also issued a statement to praise the work of the Academy of Defense Science, saying that the priceless experience gained from the tests will be used for the development of “another” strategic weapon “for definitely and reliably restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the US.”

Warning the US to “hold off” on actions to rattle the North in the situation of an “acute confrontation,” Pak also hinted of the possibility of the regime keeping its nuclear weapons for a balance of power.

“Genuine peace can be safeguarded and our development and future be guaranteed only when the balance of power is completely ensured,” Pak said.

Friday’s test is the second of its kind, since Dec. 8, when the communist regime said it performed a “very important test” at the Tongchang-ri site, without revealing what they tested. South Korea’s Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo confirmed later that the regime conducted a “rocket engine test.”

Experts say the recent tests may be aimed to test a solid-fuel rocket engine, a more efficient and powerful type than liquid fueled ones, to allow Pyongyang to field inter-continental ballistic missiles.

“(With Pak mentioning about developing a strategic weapon) I am more convinced that the ‘crucial’ test was testing the solid-fuel rocket engine,” Kim Dong-yub, a professor at Kyungnam University’s North Korean Studies School, said.

“While the result of the ‘crucial test’ may not immediately show in the form of a new weapons test, there is a possibility that the North may take some kind of military action using existing weapons,” Kim added.

Enjoyed this story? Share it.

About the Author: ANN’s Board member Mr Zaffar Abbas, Editor of Pakistan’s Dawn has won the 2019 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protest Journalists.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia

Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.

By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here


Internet healthcare serving homebound patients in China

Online consultations, pharmaceutical deliveries play vital role during outbreak. One recent rainy day, Wu Hong was waiting at the gate of her residential community in Wuhan, Hubei province. When a deliveryman with a bag of medicine came into sight, she was greatly relieved. Wu’s mother-in-law is a breast-cancer patient and needs to take medicine regularly. Wu’s father suffers from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and inhalers have been in short supply. As the novel coronavirus epidemic grew more serious, Wu wasn’t permitted to take her family to the hospital for drug refills. She was left in a state of restless anxiety. On Feb 26, Wu and her husband saw a news segment on TV saying that the Wuhan government had enabled online reimbursement se

By China Daily
March 13, 2020


India’s Congress suffers setback after key leader defects to BJP

Move by Scindia and 22 legislators could trigger fall of Congress-led govt in central Madhya Pradesh state. The Congress has suffered a political setback following the resignation of Mr Jyotiraditya Scindia and 22 legislators in Madhya Pradesh state, deepening an existential crisis for a party that is struggling for political relevance in modern Indian politics. Mr Scindia, 49, an articulate leader, yesterday joined Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with legislators loyal to him expected to follow suit. The move could lead to the collapse of the Congress-led Madhya Pradesh government. That would give the BJP a chance to form the government in the Hindi heartland state, which is seen as key objective for

By The Straits Times
March 12, 2020


Chinese Red Cross teams aid Iran’s COVID-19 fight

Humanitarian group to help Iranians with containment measures that worked in China. Voices on the other end of the line cut in and out due to a poor phone connection as officials at the Red Cross Society of China’s headquarters in Beijing attempted to talk to staff members on the ground in Iran on Tuesday morning. As the signal stabilised, the latest developments in controlling the novel coronavirus pneumonia epidemic in Teheran streamed into a conference room packed with Red Cross managers. Zhou Xiaohang, head of a five-member team-four medics and a Farsi interpreter sent to assist with COVID-19 control in Iran-said Iranians are increasingly taking precautions such as wearing face masks and washing their hands more often.

By China Daily
March 11, 2020


Shortage of Masks, Handwash due to panic- buying: Leave some for everyone

Despite repeated calls by global and local health experts and warnings from government, panic-buying grips the country. Global health experts have warned against hoarding masks, handwash and sanitisers during the coronavirus outbreak as it could worsen the situation by depriving those who might need them. Despite this, panic-buying of these products in Dhaka has been triggered by news of the first confirmed coronavirus cases in the country. Across the capital, several pharmacies and superstores have been facing a shortage of masks, antiseptic liquids and sanitisers since Sunday afternoon. The demand for tissue papers has also almost doubled overnight, some retailers claimed. Many of the retail stores, super shops and pharmacies in Karwan Bazar, M

By Daily Star
March 10, 2020


MH17 trial in Malaysia begins today

It was reported that MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile while flying over the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine. The trial will begin today. All eyes will be on the District Court of The Hague at the Schiphol Judicial Complex (JCS) in Badhoevedorp as the criminal proceeding against four men accused of shooting down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 begins. It was reported that MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile while flying over the conflict-hit eastern Ukraine. All 298 people on board, comprising 43 Malaysians, 193 Dutch nationals and 27 Australians, were killed. Members of the Malaysian media here to cover the start of the trial were given a briefing by press secretary for the judge, Yolande Wijnnobel, on what to expect at the start of the much-awai

By The Star
March 9, 2020


OPINION: ‘Righteous’ women

So who is this ‘righteous’ woman that would never dare join Aurat Marchers? ‘TIS the season to be righteous, or so many prominent Pakistanis on TV and social media along with the religious right would have us believe. Pakistan suffers from hypocritical moral policing at the best of times — in homes, colleges and universities, places of religious worship, and the workplace — but the trigger for the current frenzy is the impending Aurat Marches in many cities of the country. Given that these marches only began three years ago, one can only marvel at how rapidly they have gotten under the proverbial skin of their highly agitated opponents. Enough has been said and written about the wider context of the marches and why they threaten the

By ANN Members
March 6, 2020