S. Korea offers talks on tension, family reunions with North

CHina and North Korea trade skyrockets

A June report by the US State Department on human trafficking said North Korean workers in Russian Federation had been subjected to "exploitative labour conditions characteristic of trafficking cases such as withholding of identity document, non-payment for services rendered, physical abuse, lack of safety measures, or extremely poor living conditions".

Last week, Pyongyang hailed the regime's most recent launch - its first viable intercontinental ballistic missile - as a triumph that will enable North Korea to strike a target "anywhere in the world".

"It is very hard to conclude that these recent defections are a pattern because we just do not have enough information at the moment", said Park Sokeel, director of research and strategy at the Liberty in North Korea NGO.

The Chinese customs officials said the exports were for items such as clothing, which are not banned under United Nations sanctions, stressing that exports with a humanitarian goal and related to the livelihood of the North Korean people are not subject to the embargo.

Gardner said the latest successful missile test demonstrated the intent and capability to hit the United States, and that should never be allowed to happen.

Schilling estimated that North Korea could have around 20 nuclear warheads that could be used on such a missile, "but there is substantial uncertainty on that", he said.

In a forum on peace and security in the Korean Peninsula held in Makati City yesterday, the South Korean official who asked not to be named in this report pointed out that the Philippines is one of the leading Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries that can play a role in encouraging China and the United States to cooperate with each other and curb North Korea's nuclear arms threat.

"They'd have to show they're really serious", the second official said.

Overall trade growth with North Korea slowed in June, compared with previous second-quarter months.

Schilling said each rocket based on the Hwasong-14 would probably costs tens of millions of dollars to build, and the North Koreans are expected to put several such rockets into service over the next few years.

"We think this is a home-grown design".

Only a tough, messy confrontation now can prevent a disastrous war later on.

What are the bad choices for the Western alliance in de-fanging North Korea before it miscalculates and sends a missile that prompts a war?

North Korea's long killing streak Removing a rival?

The administration has yet to see what it considers a sufficient response from China.

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