North Korea Cancels Ban Ki-moon Visit
The North Korean government has canceled a planned United Nations visit to the Kaesong Industrial Complex. The cancellation came just a day before UNSecretary-General Ban Ki-moon was to visit the industrial center.
The complex lies just north of the South Korean border. It is one of the fewremaining examples of South Korea’s Sunshine Policy of engagement withNorth Korea. Under the program, the South has provided aid and supportprograms to its northern neighbor.
Mr. Ban said he was surprised by the sudden cancellation.
"Early this morning, the authorities of the Democratic People's Republic ofKorea informed us, through their diplomatic channel, that they were reversingtheir decision for me to visit the Kaesong Industrial Complex. No explanationwas given for this last-minute change.”
The UN official had said he wanted to help ease relations and improve securityon the Korean peninsula. He said his visit to Kaesong would show thebenefits of cooperation between the two countries.
More than 53,000 North Koreans work at 120 South Korean factories in thecomplex.
South Korean Unification Ministry official Lim Byung-chul also voiced regretand reached out to North Korea.
He says his government once again urges North Korea not to move towards isolation, but toward peace on the Korean peninsula.
Also on Wednesday, North Korea said it has the ability to miniaturize – or make smaller -- nuclear weapons. The announcement was made on NorthKorea’s state news agency. If confirmed, this ability would give North Korea the ability to place a nuclear weapon on a long or short-range missile.
Chinese nuclear experts recently warned that North Korea has 20 nuclearwarheads. North Korea has held underwater missile tests. The technologycould soon give it the ability to strike anywhere in the world.
Observers say North Korea’s sudden cancellation does not come as acomplete surprise. They say the government has ignored UN restrictions to itsnuclear program and against a UN resolution. The measure asks theInternational Criminal Court to investigate North Korean leader Kim Jong Unand other officials for crimes against humanity.
Phil Robertson works for Human Rights Watch. He says the cancellation ofBan Ki-moon’s visit resulted from U.N. efforts to hold North Koreaaccountable.
“So what it is doing is playing a game of shoot the messenger with the U.N.,trying to punish or shut out the U.N. whenever it can. And this latest action tobar Ban Ki-moon from the Kaesong industrial complex is yet another exampleof that.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke about the North Korean governmentduring his recent visit to Seoul. He said the North has rejected Chinese andRussian efforts to restart international talks about its nuclear program inexchange for economic assistance.
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