By Elise Labott
Secretary of State John Kerry and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byong-se gave the North Korean regime a tough warning Tuesday about any provocations.
After an hour-long meeting at the State Department, the two men made statements. They took no questions.
Kerry said they spent most of their meeting discussing North Korea and that the United States and South Korea remain “firmly unified, ” and there’s “not a shred of daylight between us” on North Korean missile activity. The United States supports President Park Geun-hye’s pragmatic approach to North Korea, he said.
Kerry called upon Pyongyang to start down the path of fulfilling its international obligations and called on them to denuclearize.
By Jethro Mullen
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday praised the recent purge of his uncle and former protector, saying it brought greater unity within the secretive, nuclear-armed state.
"In the seething period of the effort for building a thriving country last year, we took the resolute measure of removing the factionalists lurking in the Party," Kim said in a New Year's address, referring to the North's ruling Workers' Party of Korea.
"As our Party detected and purged the anti-Party, counterrevolutionary factionalists at an opportune time and with a correct decision, the Party and revolutionary ranks were further consolidated and our single-hearted unity was solidified to the maximum," Kim said, according to the text of the speech carried by North Korean state media.
The purged uncle, Jang Song Thaek, was considered instrumental in Kim's rise to power in December 2011 and, until recently, was regarded as the second-most powerful figure in North Korea. But the young leader turned his back on Jang in spectacular fashion late last year, having him executed last month on charges he tried to overthrow the government.FULL STORY
By Jethro Mullen and Tom Watkins
As the shock sinks in of North Korea's extraordinary announcement of the execution of leader Kim Jong Un's uncle and former protector, government officials and analysts are trying to decipher what the brutal move means.
The ruthless disposal of Jang Song Thaek - Kim's uncle by marriage who had, until recently, been regarded as the second-most powerful figure in the secretive, nuclear-armed nation - has serious implications for North Korea, its neighbors and the United States, observers said.
But exactly what is going on inside the notoriously opaque North Korea regime remains as murky as ever.
"We don't have a clear sense of this at all," said Victor Cha, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who represented the United States in nuclear talks with North Korea.FULL STORY
By Jamie Crawford
North Korea more than likely tested a long-range rocket engine late last month, according to analysis of new satellite imagery over the site.
In the photos released by 38 North, a blog run by the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, indicators of a probable test are seen through the presence of a probable rocket stage, propellant tanks, as well as the appearance of burned vegetation around the launch stand.
The photos were taken between August 25 and 30.
"These are not in and of themselves indicators that there is going to be a rocket test six months from now," Joel Wit, a former North Korea specialist at the State Department who is now with 38 North, told CNN about the photos.
By Jill Dougherty
The United States is hopeful that a visit to Pyongyang aimed at securing the release of imprisoned American Kenneth Bae will be "straightforward," but a U.S. official speaking on background because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue tells CNN there are "no guarantees."
Ambassador Robert King, who's President Obama's special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, will join a small delegation flying to Pyongyang on a U.S. military jet Friday. They are expected to spend 24 hours on the ground, meeting with North Korean officials.
"The sole purpose of the trip is to secure Bae's release," the official says. "Our expectation is that now is the time to move forward and resolve this, to release this American."
By Jamie Crawford
North Korea may be increasing its ability to enrich uranium at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, according to an analysis of recent satellite imagery.
The Institute for Science and International Security report concluded that North Korea appears to have greatly expanded a building in the fuel fabrication complex that is used for gas centrifuges in the uranium enrichment process at the reactor facility.
The development amounts to a doubling in size of the complex from its original construction.
Construction on the building expansion appears to have preceded an announcement by the North Korean government earlier this year that it planned on restart all the nuclear facilities at the previously mothballed site.
Pyongyang, North Korea (CNN) - The new leader of this isolated country has inaugurated a new veterans' cemetery, on the first of what are expected to be several days of elaborate ceremonies celebrating the 60th anniversary of the conclusion of the Korean War.
Several thousand North Koreans, some of them elderly veterans of the Korean conflict, cheered and applauded when Kim Jong Un arrived at the sprawling new cemetery accompanied by uniformed military commanders and civilian officials.
Kim did not speak to the audience. Instead, he cut a ribbon at the entrance to the cemetery compound, which is flanked by enormous monuments and statues depicting fierce North Korean soldiers.
He departed after making a brief tour of some of the gravestones. Then the crowd, which included men in baggy, dark suits and ties and women dressed in bright puffy gowns, walked with reverence past graves decorated with medals of heroism.FULL STORY
By Jamie Crawford
North Korea appears to have stopped work on a long-range missile launch site, according to newly released satellite imagery.
The analysis by 38 North, a blog run by the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, shows construction at the Tonghae launch site appears to have stopped eight months ago.
But as with everything when it comes to the opaque workings of North Korea, the search for a definitive reason behind the stoppage remain elusive.
"It's almost certain they are not going to stop developing long-range missiles. I don't think that's what is going on here," says Joel Wit, a former State Department official who manages the blog and studied the images. "We have to be very careful about trying to say what is going on, because the fact is we really don't know."
By Barbara Starr
Panama has formally asked the United States for technical help to inspect Cuban weapons found on board a North Korean freighter it seized.
"The government of Panama has requested our assistance, and we intend to provide it," Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, said.
"Generally speaking, the types of technical assistance we could provide include things like identifying the material on board, as well as providing personnel who are familiar with these types of inspections," she said.
The Panamanians asked for imaging equipment and technicians to fully examine and determine what is on board, according to a U.S. official.
The official declined to be identified because the person is not authorized to speak publicly.
Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli has publicly said he wants international inspectors to survey the ship's cargo.
Panamanian authorities seized a North Korean-flagged vessel with an undeclared haul of weaponry in the Panamanian port of Manzanillo on Monday night, Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli said.
Panama's security minister, Jose Raul Mulino, told CNN the ship had arrived from Cuba.
Panamanian authorities had received intelligence the ship was carrying drugs, but a search Monday revealed military equipment hidden among a cargo of brown sugar.
It was not immediately clear what sort of military equipment was found.FULL STORY