North Korea-South Korea: The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published another official statement on 26 April, rejecting the Republic of Korea's formal offer of low level talks about the Kaesong Industrial Zone (KIZ). NightWatch added the bold.
"The Policy Department of the National Defense Commission (NDC) of the DPRK: We Will First Take Resolute, Significant Measures Depending on the South Korean Puppet Authorities' Attitude."
"We have already made clear at home and abroad, our Army and people's principled stance regarding the South Korean puppet gang coming out with some dialogue proposal of the authorities, all flustered by the acute, touch-and-go crisis of war that has been created on the Korean peninsula…."
"…Not content with the fact that they viciously slandered and defiled even our dignity while talking about a money pipeline or a giveaway, the puppet gang has driven the KIZ to a state in which a revival is no longer possible, and is further aggravating the situation by not doing what it should do. This crime by the puppet gang will not be forgiven under any circumstances."
If the chief culprits -- who have driven North-South relations to a phase of war without coming to their senses even at this moment -- spread the theory of talks between authorities and dare to rave about an important measure to us as if to issue an ultimatum, this will merely hasten their final destruction."
"If they are so worried about the lives of the personnel who are remaining in the KIZ, what they should do is repatriate all of them to the South side where food and materials are in stock and where medical service measures are in place. Our pertinent organs will take all humanitarian measures regarding repatriation, including the personal safety assurances, in a responsible manner."
"If the South Korean puppet gang continuously seeks to aggravate the situation after turning a blind eye to reality, not the puppet authorities but we will be compelled to be the first to take final and decisive significant measures."
Comment: The North apparently has done its review of the Kaesong complex and decided it will not revive the project. The closure was announced as temporary, but now it appears to be permanent. In the third bold segment, the North Koreans said they would assist the departing workers to ensure their safe return.
The North always uses its statements to position itself as the victim, surrendering the initiative so that it has no choice but to act. The facts are almost always just the opposite.
In this analysis, the refusal to revive the Kaesong complex was never contingent on what the South did, but on the North's calculations of what best serves North Korea at this time. It was a strategic decision of the North Korean leadership that concluded that low level talks to revive the complex would undermine the threatening public image the North has constructed and would imply it was bluffing for money.
The second bold phrase is the line that shows the North is feigning to be insulted by the style of the South Korean offer. That is a justification to engage in more exaggerated threats in the final set of bold clauses.
The North Koreans will always find some Allied behavior to use as a justification for what they intended to do all along. Thus the final bold clause is significant because it says the North will not retaliate, but will act first. That implies North Korea is looking for a reason it can use to stage a provocation. The threat to be the first to take measures also suggests the North is frustrated that the Allies have not acted as the leadership expected and is tiring of waiting.
All prior statements have threatened existential retaliation. This is the first time the North has used the language of being the first to take action. High readiness and vigilance are still essential.
South Korea: South Korean authorities announced on Friday that they will withdraw all remaining South Korean workers from the Kaesong complex.
"We made the decision to withdraw all workers in light of mounting difficulties they face at the complex," the Unification Minister told a nationally televised news conference. "Because of the North's measures, companies that invested at the complex are facing serious losses," he said.
The South Korean decision was announced after President Park Geun-hye (Pak Ku'n-hye) presided over a meeting of top security-related Cabinet ministers. During the meeting, she expressed concern about the safety of South Korean workers at the zone, aides said.
As of Friday, 175 South Koreans remained at the factory zone, down from the usual 800 workers there, according to Seoul's Unification Ministry.
Comment: The South Korean offer of talks achieved and important clarification of several issues. The confrontation is not about aid. The North is not seeking a money bribe. Most important, the confrontation is not over. The new US sanctions legislation pending in Congress may provide the spark for the next North Korean escalation step.
India-Jammu and Kashmir State: Kashmiri militants killed four Indian police Friday in an ambush on a patrol near the town of Sopore, a senior officer said. The four had just descended from their vehicle to conduct a routine patrol in the village of Hygam when they came under attack from gunmen, Police Superintendent Imtiyaz Hussain said.
Comment: It is spring and time for the Muslim separatists to make their presence known.
India-China: Indian authorities on Friday claimed that Chinese soldiers have advanced nearly 20 kilometers (12 miles) into Indian-claimed territory after intruding across the disputed border earlier this month, a report said. Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma and other military officials presented a report on the incursion to a parliamentary watchdog, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported, marking a renewal of tensions between the Asian neighbors.
The Chinese soldiers have been in Indian-claimed territory since 15 April. Two meetings of senior Indian and Chinese commanders in the area have made no progress. India also has protested to the Chinese foreign ministry.
Comment: Chinese officials deny that Chinese soldiers have crossed the poorly demarcated boundary in the mountainous Ladakh region, in eastern Jammu and Kashmir State. However, this incursion is consistent with the increased Chinese assertiveness in disputed territory and sea areas since the National People's Congress.
The Indians will not use force to drive the Chinese back, unless China escalates. More talks are scheduled.
Iraq: Iraqi soldiers supported by tanks began moving back into the northern town Sulaiman Beg on Friday after gunmen who seized it two days ago made an agreed withdrawal, officials said. The gunmen pulled out early in the day under a deal worked out by tribal chiefs and government officials.
Comment: The Sunni gunmen, whom prime minister al Maliki called "insurgents," seized Suleiman Beg on Thursday after a firefight with security forces.
A third day of widespread unrest in at least 15 cities, most in Sunni-dominated governates, led to 96 killed and 79 wounded on 26 April.
Correction: The Hamas leaders met with the Qatari crown prince, not the Emir of Qatar. Thanks for a brilliant and careful Reader for the correction.
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