The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics -

The North Korean regime of Kim Jong-un is spend­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars to develop nu­clear weapons and mis­siles at the same time the govern­ment is beg­ging in­ter­na­tional aid groups to pro­vide flood re­lief.

Jong Kwon, North Korea’s coun­selor at the U.N. mis­sion in New York, last week sent an ur­gent email ap­peal for the aid — five days be­fore Py­ongyang set off its fifth un­der­ground nu­clear test. Mr. Kwon wrote to sev­eral NGOs pro­vid­ing aid to North Korea on Sept. 5, ex­plain­ing that heavy rains and sub­se­quent floods hit two prov­inces in the north­east­ern part of the coun­try.

Writ­ing on be­half of Choe Son Hui, the new pres­i­dent of the Korea-Amer­ica Pri­vate Ex­change So­ci­ety (KAPES), a Py­ongyang front group that lob­bies for for­eign aid, Mr. Kwon stated that North Korea “would like to ap­peal to you all for an emer­gency sup­port to the dev­as­tat­ing flood dam­age area in [North Korea],” ac­cord­ing to an email ob­tained by In­side the Ring.

The North Korean coun­selor said heavy rains de­stroyed 17,180 houses and left 44,000 peo­ple home­less. A to­tal of 10 peo­ple died and 15 are miss­ing.

“KAPES kindly re­quests you to find po­ten­tial­ity in your re­sources of sup­port­ing those peo­ple with what­ever you can make,” Mr. Kwon said. “It has been known that the pri­mary nec­es­saries for them are food, shel­ter tent, blan­ket and medicine, etc.”

A sec­ond North Korean email told for­eign groups that Py­ongyang would al­low mon­i­tor­ing of aid dis­tri­bu­tion — after the govern­ment di­verted for­eign aid in­tended for civil­ians to the North Korean mil­i­tary.

North Korea “will al­low mon­i­tor[ing] of the dis­tri­bu­tion of as­sis­tance,” the email states. “In prin­ci­ple, it is nec­es­sary for all aid to go via Py­ongyang,” the email says, adding that “en­try through the Tu­men River Bridge can be al­lowed as an ex­cep­tion.”

“That ex­cep­tion can be de­cided once KAPES is told what, when, and how much aid is go­ing.”

The emails co­in­cided with a rare pub­lic ap­peal for flood re­lief pub­lished Sun­day in North Korea’s of­fi­cial KCNA news agency.

News re­ports from the re­gion stated the floods are ex­pected to cause more food short­ages. South Korea’s Yon­hap re­ported that North Korean food short­ages will amount to some 600,000 tons less than is needed by the pop­u­la­tion.

Regime crit­ics say North Korea’s ap­peal for hu­man­i­tar­ian aid is du­plic­i­tous at a time when the Kim regime is ac­cel­er­at­ing its desta­bi­liz­ing nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grams. The nu­clear test car­ried out Sept. 9 was the fifth un­der­ground blast and the sec­ond this year.

In­tel­li­gence sources say the test re­sults are still be­ing an­a­lyzed, but early in­di­ca­tions show the test is part of ef­forts to develop small war­heads for North Korea’s mis­siles. North Korea also is de­vel­op­ing a new sub­ma­rine-launched bal­lis­tic mis­sile that was tested ear­lier this year.

Re­cent ac­tiv­ity at a site in the north­east part of the coun­try also in­di­cated fur­ther nu­clear tests could be car­ried out. An­a­lysts es­ti­mate North Korea has spent at least $1.5 bil­lion on its nu­clear in­fra­struc­ture and weapons — money that could have been spent to al­le­vi­ate the flood dam­age.

North Korea also con­tin­ues ex­ten­sive test­ing of bal­lis­tic mis­siles, con­duct­ing 13 flight tests in­volv­ing 22 mis­siles in re­cent months, among them medi­um­range Musu­dans and Nodongs.

De­spite past poli­cies of sep­a­rat­ing hu­man­i­tar­ian aid ef­forts from North Korea’s nu­clear pro­grams, NGO sources op­er­at­ing in the China-North Korea bor­der re­gion say many or­ga­ni­za­tions are hav­ing sec­ond thoughts about pro­vid­ing aid for the most re­cent floods. The groups are con­cerned the aid is bol­ster­ing a Kim regime that is ig­nor­ing the plight of its peo­ple.

Re­cent de­fec­tors from North Korea have warned that in­ter­na­tional aid is in­di­rectly free­ing up funds that are be­ing spent on nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grams. “What is the point of Kim Jong-un ask­ing for in­ter­na­tional help?” said one for­mer North Korean of­fi­cial. “Ev­ery­one knows that the re­lief ma­te­ri­als will end up used for nu­clear build-up.”

A U.N. hu­man rights com­mis­sion has accused North Korea of en­gag­ing in crimes against hu­man­ity for its treat­ment of dis­si­dents.

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