South Korea President Kim Dae-jung accused North Korea yesterday of "aggravating" a nuclear crisis as Pyongyang moved fuel rods to a reactor capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium. \nJapan's Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi called the step "provocative" while Washington denounced nuclear "blackmail." \nPresident Kim, chairing an urgent national security meeting, condemned the North's moves to reactivate a nuclear program at Yongbyon, 90km north of Pyongyang. \n"Despite the international community's efforts for a peaceful resolution of the nuclear issue, North Korea moved to restart frozen nuclear facilities, further aggravating the situation," Kim was quoted as telling officials at the meeting. \nBut he also criticized the US for previously sidelining South Korea in handling North Korea, saying Seoul should take a leading role. \nEarlier, South Korea's Foreign Ministry confirmed that North Korea has begun moving fresh fuel rods into the mothballed five-megawatt nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. \nExperts said North Korea will soon load the rods on to the core of the reactor shut down for the past eight years under the 1994 Agreed Framework accord between the US and North Korea. \nUnder the accord, the US offered North Korea annual supplies of heavy fuel oil and two new light water nuclear reactors in return for Pyongyang's agreement to freeze its nuclear operations at Yongbyon. \nBut the deal fell apart following US revelations in October that Pyongyang had admitted to running a separate nuclear program based on enriched uranium technology in violation of the accord. \nThroughout the nuclear dispute Pyongyang has said it is ready to sit down and talk with Washington, and even to refreeze its Yongbyon program. \nPresident Kim of South Korea, under his "sunshine policy" of engagement with the North, has been pushing Washington to accept the offer. \nBut the US, pledging not to reward bad behavior and to back up to nuclear "blackmail" has ruled out negotiations. \nEnergy-starved North Korea began disabling International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring equipment and unsealing its nuclear facilities at Yongbyon last week citing the apparent collapse of the 1994 accord. \nThe North said it was in desperate need of power generation following the US-led decision last month to suspend oil shipments to the North to punish it for embarking on a new and separate uranium-based nuclear scheme. \nExperts dismissed the idea that North Korea was relaunching the reactor for energy purposes. \n"At its peak it would produce enough for one large office building -- a negligible amount," said Chun Young-woo, director general for International Institutions at the ministry in Seoul. \nBut it will produce plutonium one to two years after it opens -- a significant proliferation concern for Washington. \nOf more immediate concern are the 8,000 spent fuel rods that were under seal in a cooling pond at Yongbyon and from which plutonium for making nuclear warheads can be extracted.. \n"That would be their last resort. Once they cross that line they should be aware of the consequences," said a senior government official here.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
CHINESE FIGHTERS: Beijing marked the US Cabinet member’s visit by briefly sending two warplanes across the median line of the Taiwan Strait yesterday morning President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday met with US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar in the highest-level official meeting between the two nations since 1979. “It is a true honor to be here to convey a message of strong support and friendship from [US] President [Donald] Trump to Taiwan,” Azar said during the open portion of his courtesy call to the Presidential Office, which was streamed live online before Tsai and Azar held a closed-door meeting. “Taiwan’s response to COVID-19 has been among the most successful in the world, and that is a tribute to the open, transparent,
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
PARTNERSHIP AND LEARNING: A Princeton University health policy researcher said that the nation would be a ‘treasure trove’ of information for the US health chief US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar on Friday said he wants to learn about Taiwan’s “incredibly effective” response to COVID-19, even though the nation did things that the US has fumbled, such as having a unified strategy and citizens willing to wear masks. Azar leads a US delegation arriving today for a three-day visit to Taiwan. They are to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and health system leaders, and Azar is to give a speech to public health graduates. “The message of this trip is about Taiwan,” Azar said in an interview, deflecting a question about China.