North Korea rebukes repeated deployment of a U.S. chemical warfare unit to South Korea.
The following quotation has been chosen from a bulletin launched by the secretary's office of a "United Committee for Peace of the North Korean Homeland". It was published yesterday, April 3, by People's Network 人民网, Beijing.
This came on the same day that Pyongyang decided to exclude South Korean working staff from the joint industrial zone of Gaesong. That decision is expected to cut off an important source of hard currency for North Korea. [Source: European and Chinese media on March 3/4, 2013]
中新网4月4日电 综合报道：朝鲜禁止韩方人员进入开城园区 半岛局势步步趋紧
The bulletin is saying that U.S. Army's 23rd chemical [warfare] battalion, stationed in Seattle / Washington, is being deployed to South Korea once again. This unit [was] stationed on a U.S. military base in South Korea's Northern Gyeongsang Province until 2004, later returned to U.S. homeland [likely] to take part in [future] warfare against North Korea.
When the U.S. are once again deploying that chemical [warfare] unit to South Korea, this is a provocative behaviour directed against North Korea which cannot be tolerated again. It is clearly showing the criminal attempt of claiming to inflict horrible nuclear disaster and crude chemical warfare sufferings on the North Korean nation.
North Korea's army and people can by no means look unconcerned on U.S. and South Korean crude chemical warfare manoeuvres, as has already been stated. No matter if America is using nuclear or crude chemical weapons in an offensive, [everything] used in the very first battle will be smashed.
[Source: news.ifeng 凤凰网 quoting People's Network on March 3, 2013]
There is some ambiguity in the Chinese language regarding the expression 大队 which can be translated as either "regiment" or "battalion". As to the above mentioned U.S. Army unit serving in Korea there are two related links: The "23rd Infantry Regiment" and the "23rd Chemical Battalion". While the North Korean source is obviously referring to the 23rd Chemical Battalion, the 23rd Regiment as well served in Korea as a superior army unit, it seems. However, the 23rd Chemical Battalion should have its homeland garrison at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The facility is an amalgamation of the United States Army's Fort Lewis and the United States Air Force's McChord Air Force Base which merged on 1 February 2010 into a joint base located in the federal state of Washington near Tacoma, Olympia and Seattle.
The modern 23rd Infantry Regiment was formed during the American Civil War; the regiment saw action in American wars up to the War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War. It included a battalion of volunteers made up of active and reserve French military personnel who had been sent to the Korean Peninsula as part of the United Nations force fighting in the Korean War. [Source: Wikipedia]
The Eighth Army announced on 17 December 2004, that the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 23rd Chemical Battalion and 2 chemical companies had completed their relocation from Korea to Fort Lewis, Washington, as the final phase of the chemical decontamination mission transfer to the Republic of Korea Army. According to the statement, the transfer of the chemical decontamination mission from the US military to the Republic of Korea military had been completed in August 2004 with the US military to eventually transfer 10 missions to the Republic of Korea military as part of the Strategic Policy Initiative (SPI) mutually agreed to by both nations. Placed under the administrative control of the 555th Engineer Brigade while in garrison, the unit was subsequently assigned to the 20th Support Command (CBRNE).
On 24 January 2007, the 23rd Chemical Battalion deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom 06-08 in support of Combined Joint Task Force-82, led by the 82nd Airborne Division. The Battalion was charged with executing non-standard operations of provided Base Operations Support to 5 Forward Operating Bases throughout Regional Command East, Capital and South, as well as augmented Task Force Cincinnatus Staff Sections. .......... The Battalion redeployed from Afghanistan on 25 January 2008.
On 4 October 2012, the Department of the Army announced the relocation of the 61st Chemical Company, the 62nd Chemical Company, and Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 23rd Chemical Battalion, from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington to the Republic of Korea. There the Chemical Companies would provide Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical reconnaissance, equipment decontamination and consequence management assistance to support military forces. This action was in support of Headquarters, Department of the Army initiatives involving US forces conducting a sustainable pace of presence operations abroad, including rotational deployments and bilateral and multilateral training exercises. These activities would reinforce deterrence, help to build the capacity and competence of US, allied, and partner forces for internal and external defense, strengthen alliance cohesion, and increase US influence. This force structure change represented an increase of 290 military and zero civilian authorizations within the Republic of Korea and a corresponding decrease in authorizations at Joint Base Lewis McCord. The Army expected to complete the stationing action by 16 January 2013.
On 6 December 2012, the 23rd Chemical Battalion cased its colors at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington in preparation for its move to Camp Stanley, Republic of Korea. By that time, the battalion's relocation was to bring approximately 300 soldiers to Camp Stanley and was scheduled to be completed by March 2013. Once there, the Battalion's 61st Chemical Company, 62nd Chemical Company, 501st Chemical Company, would provide Nuclear Biological and Chemical reconnaissance, decontamination, and consequence management assistance to support US and ROK military forces. The relocation of the Battalion back to the Republic of Korea was part of a US Army's initiative to reinforce America's commitment to the US-ROK alliance. [Source: Globalsecurity]
Foreign media: North Korean official website suffered from a hacker attack.
On April 5, 2013, New China Network 新华网 is quoting a report from Agence France Press AFP published the day before. According to that source, some anonymous hacker (group) should have invaded an official North Korean site and related Twitter and Flickr accounts in order to replace pictures of Kim Jong Un with caricatures. The anonymous pretends to have almost full access to the North Korean intranet.
The picture inserted in the above article from China is showing the White House in Washington as a possible target of a North Korean missile attack.
News [office] of the Russian embassy: North Korea suggested the Russian embassy in North Korea should quietly leave the area.
[Source: New China Network 新华网 on April 5, 2013]
According to a spokesman of the Russian embassy in Pyongyang, the North Korean ministry of foreign affairs proposed the Russian embassy staff to leave the country. Same goes with the embassies of Britain and Germany. All embassies were requested today, April 5, to leave until Wednesday for not specified security reasons. Germany's minister of foreign affairs already summoned the North Korean ambassador to transmit an official statement on behalf of the German government.
[Source: Tagesschau 24, German news TV, on late April 5, 2013]
For the time being, Britain is not planning to withdraw its embassy staff stationed in North Korea.
[Source: CRI online 国际在线 on April 6, 2013]
Meanwhile two rockets considered as medium-range missiles have been unloaded at a launching pad on the east coast of North Korea near Wonsan. Such missiles could target the U.S. base on Guam or Japan. Two South Korean destroyers equipped with missile interception technique have been deployed to the Yellow Sea and the Japanese Sea.
[Source: NHK Japanese TV on late April 5, 2013]
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