Korea: Dirty Money and the Refugee Weapon

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July 28, 2006: China has sent three more battalions of infantry to the North Korean border, where problems with North Korean refugees, and aggressive North Korean border guards, continue. Over the last three years, China has added 30,000 troops to border security duty along the Yalu River, which separates the two countries. In that part of northern China, ethnic Koreans have long been a significant minority. But since the famines of the 1990s, over a million North Koreans are believed to have slipped across the border and sought refuge with the local Korean community. The Korean refugees work cheap, and many have moved on to other parts of China. An increasing number have made their way to South Korea. North Korean border guards have become less disciplined, and more active in robbing North Koreans and Chinese.
July 27, 2006: North Korea refuses to resume negotiations (over its missile and nuclear weapons programs), until the United States halts its program of freezing North Korean bank accounts. This is being done to get North Korea to stop printing counterfeit American currency. North Korea denies that it does this, despite the ample evidence collected over the years.
July 25, 2006: In response to a U.S. request, China has frozen North Korean bank accounts in China. This is part of an American effort to halt North Korean circulation of counterfeit hundred dollar American bills, as well as North Korean money laundering. The U.S. is trying to get all nations to freeze North Korean accounts, and North Korea is very unhappy about this program.
July 22, 2006: Iranians have been spotted working at North Korean missile development facilities. Iran has been buying missiles, and missile technology, from North Korea since the 1980s.
July 21, 2006: Japan is adding two more warships, equipped with Aegis missiles, to the four it has already deployed in the waters between North Korea and Japan. The two new ships will enter service by 2008. One of them will be equipped with anti-missile missiles. All Aegis equipped warships can be converted to operate anti-missile missiles.
July 20, 2006: South Korea is continuing to build amphibious assault vehicles. Since 1998, 124 of these, similar to the U.S. AAV7, have been built. The South Korean Marines would be used to make raids on North Korea in the event of a war.
July 19, 2006: Recent floods in North Korea destroyed 31,000 homes and about 100,000 tons of food were lost.
July 18, 2006: China supplies a third of total food donations. That's about half a million tons of food from China, in addition to about two thirds of fuel aid. China is North Korea's major trading partner. In 2005, that trade increased 14 percent over the previous year, to $1.5 billion. That puts it into perspective, because that's less than one percent of Chinese trade. China is threatening to halt aid if North Korea does not at least negotiate about missile and nuclear weapons programs. But North Korea believes China won't follow through, because North Korea would make it easier for North Koreans to escape into China. Over a million North Koreans could cross that way in a few months. China does not want this to happen.

 

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