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NUKEWARS
CIA forms special unit focused on North Korea threat
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) May 10, 2017


Moon, Trump agree on close cooperation on N. Korea: Seoul
Seoul (AFP) May 10, 2017 - South Korea's new President Moon Jae-In and US President Donald Trump agreed Wednesday on "close cooperation" in dealing with North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, Seoul's presidential office said.

In their first phone call since Moon's inauguration, the two leaders "agreed on close cooperation in resolving security concerns on the Korean peninsula including North Korea's nuclear ambitions," the Blue House said in a statement.

Calling Pyongyang's atomic weapons programme a "a difficult problem that can be solved", Trump invited Moon to visit the United States "as early as possible", according to the statement.

Moon was sworn in Wednesday, just a day after a landslide election victory following the ouster of his predecessor Park Geun-Hye over a massive corruption scandal.

Moon backs engagement with the nuclear-armed North in the quest for peace -- in contrast to the threatening rhetoric from the Trump administration in recent weeks -- and has immediately declared his willingness to visit Pyongyang.

"If needed I will fly to Washington immediately," Moon said in an inauguration speech after taking the oath of office in front of lawmakers at Seoul's National Assembly building.

"I will also go to Beijing and Tokyo and even Pyongyang in the right circumstances."

But Trump recently appeared to offer the prospect of a diplomatic off-ramp last week, saying he would be "honored" to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un under the right conditions.

The US Central Intelligence Agency said Wednesday it had formed a special unit dedicated to assessing North Korea's nuclear weapons threat.

The CIA created its first single country-focused mission center, pulling together resources from a range of units to collect and analyze information on Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missile technology that could extend its military threat across the Pacific.

The move comes as North Korea appears poised to undertake its sixth nuclear test, a move that would exacerbate jitters across East Asia.

The US has not ruled out a military strike to prevent Pyongyang from advancing its nuclear capabilities.

"Just as the threats facing our nation are dynamic, so too must the CIA continue to evolve to address them," CIA spokesman Jonathan Liu said.

In 2015, the CIA created 10 mission centers in a modernization effort to break down the "stove-piping" of its different operations.

The units bring together people from different sides of the agency -- analysis, operations, cyber and others -- who previously may have not cooperated closely into six regional and four subject-focused groupings.

"Creating the Korea Mission Center allows us to more purposefully integrate and direct CIA efforts against the serious threats to the United States and its allies emanating from North Korea," said CIA Director Mike Pompeo in a statement.

S. Korea new spy chief credited with inter-Korean summits
Seoul (AFP) May 10, 2017 - The new head of South Korea's National Intelligence Service is credited with having helped arrange two summits between the Koreas in the 2000s -- and was involved in a plan to build Pyongyang a nuclear reactor.

Suh Hoon worked at the spy agency for 28 years until leaving in 2008 -- when a conservative government was elected -- to move to academia.

Now he returns as head of the organisation under new President Moon Jae-In, who has declared his willingness to engage Pyongyang.

"It is too premature to talk about a next inter-Korean summit," Suh told journalists after Moon announced his appointment. "But we need it."

The first-ever summit between South and North Korea was held in 2000 and the second in 2007.

The 63-year-old spent two years in the North during the 1990s when an international consortium was building two lightwater civilian reactors in Sinpo under an agreement with the US for Pyongyang to freeze -- and ultimately dismantle -- its weapons programmes.

The deal collapsed in the face of mutual distrust.

Suh, who studied at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington and earned a doctorate on North Korean affairs at Dongguk University in Seoul, has been teaching at the prestigious Ehwa University in Seoul.

Moon tasking him with reforming the spy organisation "to prevent it from interfering with domestic politics and be reborn as a pure intelligence agency".

NUKEWARS
S. Korea's Moon sworn in, says willing to go to North
Seoul (AFP) May 10, 2017
South Korea's new president was sworn in on Wednesday, just a day after a landslide election victory, and immediately declared his willingness to visit Pyongyang amid high tensions with the nuclear-armed North. Left-leaning Moon Jae-In, a former human rights lawyer, backs engagement with North Korea in the quest for peace - in contrast to the threatening rhetoric from the Trump administrati ... read more

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