Korea Chair Monitor | Vol 4 Issue 2
February 12, 2016
The Korea Chair team takes a biweekly look back at events of interest in Washington, Seoul, and the region from January 28 - February 10, 2016.
United States and ROK Discuss THAAD
Following the recent nuclear test and rocket launch, the United States and ROK have taken up the recommendation by UNC/CFC/USFK General Curtis M. Scaparrotti to begin consultations on improving the alliance defense posture through the possible deployment of a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on the peninsula. The ROK-U.S. Joint Announcement underscored the security commitment to the ROK and noted that North Korea’s provocations compel the ROK and United States to consider these measures. THAAD would only be focused on North Korea. Lt. Gen. Thomas Vandal, chief of staff for U.S. Forces Korea, confirmed these statements in comments with ROK deputy minister of defense Yoo Jeh Seung.
Clapper Confirms Restart of DPRK Plutonium Reactor
On February 9, James R. Clapper, director of national intelligence, testified at the “Worldwide Threats” hearing at the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, alongside the director of the CIA, director of the DIA, director of the FBI, and director of the NSA. Clapper confirmed that North Korea has followed through on its 2013 announcement to “refurbish and restart” nuclear facilities with the capacity for uranium enrichment and the graphite-moderated plutonium production reactor at Yongbyon, which had been closed in 2007. He also added that North Korea has operated the reactor long enough to recover plutonium from the spent fuel within a matter of weeks to months.
ROK Visits UN and Attends Munich Security Conference 2016
From February 9 to 14, ROK foreign minister Yun Byung-se will visit UN Headquarters in New York and attend the Munich Security Conference (MSC) in order to advocate for a comprehensive, international-level sanction against North Korea. On February 9, during his meeting with UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, Minister Yun emphasized the immediacy of “terminating resolution.” At the MSC, Minister Yun will deliver a keynote speech on ROK-NATO cooperation on a global level and meet with Secretary of State John Kerry on the sidelines.