Friday, May 23, 2014

N. Korean Missile Unit May Be Sanctioned Over Rodong Tests

A U.N. panel has reportedly advised sanctioning a North Korean military missile unit for its March test of a pair of Rodong ballistic missiles.

Unidentified diplomatic sources on Wednesday told Kyodo News that the committee of experts that reports to the U.N. Security Council on North Korean sanctions has recommended expanding the black list to cover the North Korean army's Strategic Rocket Force Command and its head, Kim Rak Gyom. The commander is thought to be close to ruler Kim Jong Un.

Under Security Council rules, Pyongyang is prohibited from using ballistic missile technology. That did not stop the Kim Jong Un regime in late March from test-launching two medium-range Rodong missiles. Some independent foreign analysts now think the test could have involved a slightly altered version of the ballistic weapon that was modified in order to permit it to carry a future nuclear payload.

Meanwhile, former U.S. officials are slated to hold talks in Mongolia with North Korea's chief nuclear representative, unnamed informed sources told the Yonhap News Agency.

Ri Yong Ho, who represents North Korea at the frozen six-nation nuclear talks, is slated to meet with Joel Wit, a former State Department official who now edits the expert website 38 North, on the margins of an academic forum happening this week in Mongolia, a source said.

No sitting U.S. officials are expected to participate in the "Track 1.5" talks.

"Like previous informal meetings, this week's meeting in Mongolia is expected to allow the two sides to exchange views on ways to resume the six-party talks," the insider said.

The aid-for-denuclearization negotiations involve China, Japan, the two Koreas, Russia and the United States. The last round of talks took place in December 2008. Since that time, Pyongyang has made considerable headway in its push for a deliverable nuclear weapon and has repeatedly stated that it views atomic arms as central to the regime's survival. Because of this, the Obama administration's special envoy for North Korea last week said he was not optimistic about the prospects for returning to nuclear negotiations any time soon.

This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

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