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N. Korea to safeguard 'priceless' nuclear weapons: paper
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) May 29, 2013

Trade figures show N. Korea dependence on China
Seoul (AFP) May 29, 2013 - North Korea's foreign trade rose to just $6.8 billion last year, with China accounting for 90 percent of the total, a state-funded South Korean trade promotion body said Wednesday.

The 2012 figure was slightly up on the previous year's $6.3 billion, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) said, citing data from its own trade partners.

The North's total exports stood at $2.9 billion against imports of $3.9 billion, it said, adding that the North had run a trade deficit since the agency started tallying data in 1990.

About 88.3 percent of last year's trade involved China, compared to 89.1 percent in 2011 and 83 percent in 2010 -- a dramatic turnaround from the early 2000s when the figure hovered below 50 percent.

Other notable trading partners include Russia, India and Thailand.

The North has increasingly relied on China -- its sole major ally -- as its economic and diplomatic isolation has intensified and UN sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons and missile programmes have tightened.

Exports to China -- mostly coal and iron ore -- amounted to $2.4 billion while imports, dominated by crude oil and heavy machinery, stood at $3.5 billion.

"The North has such a limited range of products for export and the global sanctions continue to take a toll," KOTRA said in a statement.

North Korea vowed Wednesday to tighten its hold on its "priceless" nuclear deterrent, confounding reports that it might be willing to resume multilateral talks on denuclearisation.

A lengthy front-page editorial in the North's ruling party daily Rodong Sinmun said a strong nuclear deterrent was the only guarantee of a "final victory" against the forces of imperialism.

"We will tighten our grip on this priceless nuclear treasure sword and carry out battles against imperialists with greater vigour," it said.

The editorial appeared days after Chinese state media said North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un had informed Chinese President Xi Jinping that Pyongyang would consider resuming six-party denuclearisation talks.

The Xinhua news agency said the message was sent in a letter that was hand delivered to Xi by Kim's personal envoy during a visit to Beijing last week.

North Korean state media had confirmed delivery of the letter but made no mention whatsoever of a dialogue proposal.

Wednesday's Rodong Sinmun editorial was the latest in a series of commentaries published in recent days that clearly reaffirmed the North's commitment to pursuing its nuclear weapons programme.

In a clear reference to Iraq and Libya, the newspaper said countries which lacked a sufficient deterrent or agreed to give up their nuclear weapons programmes had ended up as "victims of aggression".

The dialogue proposal as reported by Xinhua was greeted with scepticism in South Korea, where observers saw it as an effort to appease Beijing, rather than a genuine signal of intent.

North Korea has repeatedly declared that its programme to develop a viable nuclear deterrent is not open to negotiation.

Seoul and Washington insist that the North must demonstrate its commitment to abandoning its nuclear weapons programme in order for formal talks to begin.


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South Korea dismisses North dialogue 'offer'
Seoul (AFP) May 27, 2013
South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se brushed off Monday a reported North Korean offer to resume nuclear disarmament talks, saying he would first need to see evidence of its sincerity. "Our stance is that there should not be dialogue for dialogue's sake," Yun said in his first press briefing since taking office in the new government of President Park Geun-Hye. "The important thing n ... read more

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