Tag: North Korea

Breaking News: North Korea launches another missile over Japan

The Pentagon considers North Korean mobile ballistic missiles a top threat.

In a major show of defiance to the international community, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido Friday.

The launch is the second to fly over Japan in less than a month, and the first since North Korea’s sixth nuclear test and new United Nations sanctions on the country. 

Friday’s missile test follows the release of a statement Wednesday, in which the North Korean state news agency KCNA threatened the “four islands of the (Japanese) archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche,” referring to the ruling ideology of North Korea.

Speaking to reporters Friday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the launch was “totally unacceptable” and went against “the international community’s strong, united will for a peaceful solution.”

 

Launch and response

North Korea’s latest missile was fired from the district of Sunan in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, home to the country’s main airport, the South Korean military said.

The missile flew about 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) and reached an altitude of 770 kilometers (480) miles before landing in the Pacific Ocean.

Initial US assessments suggested North Korea had fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile, similar to that fired over Japan last month.

In response to North Korea’s launch, South Korea carried out a “live fire drill” that included a missile launch which the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said was capable of striking the Sunan airport launch site near Pyongyang used for today’s launch.

The South Korean missile, which was launched from the country’s east coast while the North Korean missile was still in the air, was “a show of force in response to North Korea’s latest provocation,” a South Korean official told CNN.

A second missile that was fired at the same time failed and “sank into the sea off the east coast,” an official said.

Park Soo-hyun, spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, said the country’s military had been ordered “to prepare a stern measure that can effectively counter North Korea’s increasing nuclear and military threats.”

President Moon Jae-in

Japan on high alert

Friday’s missile test set off sirens as a government warning, known as the J-Alert, went out to citizens across a broad swath of northern Japan.

“The government is advising people to stay away from anything that could be missile debris,” NHK reported.

In a statement, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the missile test was the second time the people of Japan “have been directly threatened in recent weeks.”

“The international community needs to unite and send clear message after North Korea’s dangerous provocation,” Abe told reporters. “We must let North Korea understand there is no bright future for North Korea if it continues in this way.”

He said the Japanese government tracked the launch of the missile and “took all possible measures.”

Japan and the US have requested the UN Security Council hold “urgent consultations” at 3 p.m. ET Friday, according to the Ethiopian Mission to the UN. Ethiopian Ambassador Tekeda Alemu is the current UN Security Council president.

A Japanese soldier walks past a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile launcher deployed at the Defence Ministry in Tokyo. Japan is on full alert due to a missile launch by North Korea today. AFP PHOTO/Toru YAMANAKA

Need for more pressure

The launch came just hours after North Korea responded to the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous approval of additional sanctions by threatening to “sink” Japan and reduce the US mainland into “ash and darkness.”

Those sanctions were prompted by North Korea’s sixth nuclear test that occurred on September 3, which Pyongyang said was a successful test of a hydrogen bomb.

That explosion created a magnitude-6.3 tremor, making it the most powerful weapon Pyongyang has ever tested.

The nuclear test prompted discussions inside South Korea about the the redeployment of US tactical nuclear weapons in the country, an idea that the majority of the country’s citizens approve of, according to recent polls.

But on Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in dismissed the possibility, warning it could “lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia.”

Both Abe and Tillerson called for an intensifying of pressure on North Korea, including the full implementation of the new UN sanctions.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

“These continued provocations only deepen North Korea’s diplomatic and economic isolation,” Tillerson said.

“United Nations Security Council resolutions, including the most recent unanimous sanctions resolution, represent the floor, not the ceiling, of the actions we should take. We call on all nations to take new measures against the Kim regime.”

He singled out Chinese oil supplies and Russia’s use of North Korean migrant workers as two areas in which the two countries could take “direct action” against North Korea.

Rapid pace

2017 has been a year of rapid progress for North Korea’s missile program.

Less than six years into his reign, Kim Jong Un has tested more missiles than his father and grandfather combined. And this year has been no exception.

Prior to its most recent launch, the country has fired 21 missiles during 14 tests since February, further perfecting its technology with each launch.

There’s also a political aspect to the tests, analysts say.

“This new missile test … is both a reaction to the stringent UN sanctions of Monday evening and a wake-up call about the limits of sanctions and military threats as a way to change North Korea’s behavior,” said George A Lopez, a former member of the UN Security Council panel of experts for sanctions on North Korea.

He said Trump should use his speech to the UN General Assembly next week to “demonstrate US leadership in loyalty to all allies in the region and state our commitment to developing new and vibrant security guarantees for all states, including (North Korea), that are not based on the threat or use of nuclear weapons.”

The White House has been pursuing a strategy of what it calls “peaceful pressure” in dealing with North Korea — trying to build a global coalition to squeeze North Korea’s revenue and isolate it diplomatically so it will eventually put its missiles on the negotiating table.

China has been key to that strategy, as Beijing accounts for nearly 90% of all of North Korea’s imports, according to recent data from the United Nations.

Hours before the launch, Trump touted his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and their collaboration in addressing North Korea’s rapidly escalating missile and nuclear programs.

“We have a very good relationship with China and with the President of China. We are working on different things,” Trump said. “I can’t tell you, obviously, what I’m working on. But believe me, the people of this country will be very, very safe.”

CNN’s Taehoon Lee, Junko Ogura, Paula Hancocks and Richard Roth contributed to this report.

 

Zapad maneuvers can increase Russia’s isolation – MEP Pabriks

Russia-Belarus Zapad-2017 Drills Scheduled for September 14-20 – Belarus MoD

Russia is increasing its international isolation by organizing its Zapad 2017 military exercise, preventing de-escalation of tensions between Moscow and the West, European Parliament member Artis Pabriks (Unity) believes.

Representatives of the Latvian MEP told LETA that Zapad 2017, in Pabriks’ opinion, can exacerbate the situation also inside Russia and that the following weeks will show whether the divide between Russia and the rest of the world widens even further.
“Russia, of course, can try to prove that it can be trusted and that the drills are not intended to practice attacking or occupying a neighbor country. Yet the exercise’s aggressive character causes concerns that Russia’s rhetoric, unfortunately, is yet again inconsistent with its actual intentions,” said Pabriks.

The Latvian MEP also believes that in the context of the upcoming Zapad exercise it is important to take into consideration political developments elsewhere in the world, for instance, the parliamentary election Germany is due to hold at the end of September. If Russia demonstrates aggression, this can increase anti-Kremlin sentiments in Germany, which in turn would affect German-Russian political and economic relations. Consequently, with its attempts to intimidate neighbors and Europe, Russia might harm its own interests.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin has been stepping up propaganda about the West as Russia’s main external enemy. By stoking such sentiments, Russia dangerously increases domestic demand for maintaining a belligerent stance also in the future.
“In this way, the Kremlin is driving itself in even greater isolation, where it will have even less maneuvering opportunities and less possibilities to back down from this position. The consequences of such policies increase the risk of Russia becoming like North Korea which lives in isolation and militarily blackmails its neighbors, and I do not believe this is what people in Russia want,” Pabriks said.

Russia and Belarus are due to hold the active phase of their joint military exercise Zapad 2017 from September 14 to 20.

 

Trump Says Military Action Against North Korea iI ‘An Option’ But Not Inevitable

President Donald Trump on Thursday said military action against North Korea remains an option to counter its nuclear missile program, speaking ahead of a weekend when Pyongyang is expected to make another provocative move advancing its effort.

“Military action would certainly be an option,” Trump said at a White House news conference alongside the leader of Kuwait. “Is it inevitable? Nothing is inevitable. It would be great if something else could be worked out.”

Claiming that the U.S. military is stronger than ever with the addition of “new and beautiful equipment,” Trump added, “Hopefully we’re not going to have to use it on North Korea. If we do use it on North Korea, it will be a very sad day for North Korea.”

He concluded, “North Korea is behaving badly, and it’s got to stop.”

Pressure has mounted on Trump to respond as North Korea appears to be getting closer to building a nuclear weapon small enough to be compatible with a missile that can reach the United States.

North Korea appeared to carry out its sixth and most powerful test explosion of a nuclear bomb on Sunday.

 

Vladimir Putin warns world faces ‘global catastrophe’ over North Korea

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the escalating crisis over North Korea’s weapons program risks developing into a “global catastrophe” with mass casualties.

But Putin, speaking in China on Tuesday, cautioned against “military hysteria” and said that the only way to resolve the crisis was through diplomacy.

He warned that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has calculated that the survival of his regime depends on its development of nuclear weapons. Kim had seen how western intervention in Iraq had ended in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein after which the country was ravaged by war, Putin warned, and Kim was determined not to suffer the same fate.

“Saddam Hussein rejected the production of weapons of mass destruction, but even under that pretense, he was destroyed and members of his family were killed,” Putin said.

“The country was demolished and Saddam Hussein was hanged. Everyone knows that and everyone in North Korea knows that.”

On Monday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Kim was “begging for war” and urged the UN Security Council to adopt the strongest sanctions measures possible to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

But speaking at the closure of the BRICs summit in Beijing — which hosted the leaders of Brazil, India, China and South Africa — Putin said that while Russia condemned North Korea’s latest actions, imposing any kind of sanctions would be “useless and ineffective.” Kim would rather starve his people than see his regime overthrown, he said.

“They will eat grass but they will not turn away from the path that will provide for their security,” he said.

The latest escalation of the crisis came on Sunday when Pyongyang announced it had conducted a sixth nuclear test, which it claimed was of a hydrogen bomb. The claim has not been independently verified, but seismological data indicated that the weapon was the most powerful ever to be detonated by Pyongyang.

North Korea claims it now has the capability of mounting a thermonuclear weapon on a long-range missile capable of striking the United States.

 

Weapons experts say it’s almost impossible to verify if the warhead and missile could be successfully paired unless North Korea were to fire a nuclear-tipped ICBM.

North Korea has test-fired a number of missiles this summer, including two long-range ones in July and an intermediate-range one in August that overflew the Japanese island of Hokkaido. South Korea has claimed that the North is making preparations for another ICBM test.  

Putin said it was clear that Pyongyang already had a nuclear capability — and in any case, no missile defense system could offer adequate protection against conventional long-range artillery.

“We know that North Korea has nukes, we also know that North Korea has long-range artillery and it has other types of weapons and there are no weapons against long-range artillery — and these weapons can be difficult to locate.

“So we think that this military hysteria will not lead to good results. It could lead to global catastrophe with lots of victims.”

In response to the latest tests, the South Korean Navy announced Tuesday it conducted live-fire drills off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula to check its “immediate operational readiness” after the country’s air force and army conducted their own joint drills. It had already mounted a huge show of military force on Monday.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in spoke with US President Donald Trump on Monday and agreed to lift current restrictions on the payload weight of South Korea’s ballistic missiles, according to a South Korean presidential spokesman.

CNN’s Taehoon Lee, Josh Berlinger and Sarah Faidell contributed to this article.

North Korea ‘moving missile towards west coast’ – report

KN14 Launch Site

The news comes as South Korea makes its own display of military force and as the US accuses North Korea of “begging for war”.

North Korea has been seen moving what appears to be an intercontinental ballistic missile towards its west coast, a report says.

South Korea’s Asia Business Daily cited an intelligence source as saying that the rocket was spotted moving on Monday, the day after North Korea’s sixth and largest nuclear test.

The North Korean missile programme’s launch facilities are on its west coast.

The move was made during the night to avoid surveillance, according to the report.

South Korea’s defence ministry said it could not confirm the report but on Monday it said that the North was ready to launch more missiles.

In July, North Korea tested two ICBMs capable of flying about 6,200 miles, threatening parts of the US mainland.

On Tuesday local time, the South Korean Navy held live-fire drills in the Sea of Japan.

These involved the 2,500-tonne frigate Gangwon, a 1,000-tonne patrol ship and 400-tonne guided missile vessels in a show of force that aimed to deter the North.

Captain Choi Young-Chan, commander of the 13th Maritime Battle Group, said: “If the enemy launches a provocation above water or under water, we will immediately hit back to bury them at sea.”

South Korea has also been in discussions with the US about deploying aircraft carriers and bombers to the Korean Peninsula.

It was agreed on Monday that the country could scrap a warhead weight limit on its missiles, meaning it could hit back at its northern neighbour with greater force.

North Korea alarmed the region with its most powerful test to date on Sunday of what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb able to be mounted onto a long-range missile.

The US responded by saying that North Korea leader Kim Jong Un was “begging for war”.

The US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, says ‘enough is enough’

The American ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said her country did not want a conflict with the Pyongyang regime but its patience was “not unlimited”.

Speaking at the UN Security Council, Ms Haley said “enough is enough”, warning the organisation that its approach of imposing “incremental” sanctions against North Korea had not worked.

Sunday’s device is thought to have been about five times larger than the bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki in World War II and it caused a tremor with a magnitude of 6.3.

Sky Views: Military action in North Korea is risky

Katie Stallard, Asia Correspondent

Kim Jong Un is calling Donald Trump’s bluff.

By firing a missile over Japan (a US ally), testing a hydrogen bomb, and now possibly preparing to launch another intercontinental ballistic missile, the North Korean leader is effectively saying he does not believe the US President’s threat to unleash “fire and fury”.

His family’s experience over the last 60 years tells him he is right.

The reason no American president has ordered military action against North Korea in that time remains the same – Seoul and its 10 million residents are well within range of the conventional artillery and rockets already deployed along the border.

Pyongyang doesn’t need nuclear weapons and ICBMs to be able to threaten massive retaliation against an American ally, likely including chemical and biological weapons.

As Steve Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, put it: “Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that 10 million people in Seoul don’t die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don’t know what you’re talking about, there’s no military solution here, they got us.”

But what if that is also a bluff?

Kim Jong Un is not the cartoon villain caricature he is often portrayed as. We need to move beyond the hair jokes, and the image of the crazy despot.

To be clear, he is a despot, responsible for the brutal repression of his people, and he is running a regime accused of crimes against humanity, but he does not appear to be crazy.

Thus far, I have seen no evidence he is anything other than entirely rational, and playing a bad hand very shrewdly.

So assuming his main goal is staying in power, and staying alive, why are we so sure that no military action is possible and that even a limited strike would result in an assault on Seoul?

President Trump and President Xi Jinping have differing views about how to deal with North Korea. Sanctions or Diplomacy?

Kim Jong Un and his generals must understand that returning fire, with a large-scale attack on civilians in Seoul or Tokyo, would be suicide and that they would be ensuring the end of their regime.

Surely a more logical response would be to accept the strike on the nuclear test facility, or missile launch site, which could be spun domestically as further proof of the aggressive US enemy at the gates its people are already told is poised to attack and invade at any time, and live to rail against the imperialists another day.

The problem is communicating to Pyongyang that this is what is happening, and not the start of an all-out attack, in which case they would have nothing to lose, and would try to get their nuclear retaliation in first.

A North Korean mobile ICBM launcher

Despite what Mr Trump might think, China does not have the influence it once did on North Korea – there is mistrust on both sides, and relations have cooled significantly since the days when they were “as close as lips and teeth”.

Without that channel to reliably communicate those intentions, you are counting on Kim Jong Un and his advisers to draw the right conclusion in the critical minutes after the strike, and not to order the counter-attack.

That’s a hell of a gamble to take with 10 million people’s lives.

Which is why Kim’s assessment is probably right – that for all the talk of fire and fury, Donald Trump will ultimately come to the same conclusion as all the others before him: that the risks of military action are simply too great, and these were just empty words.

 

South Korea fears nuclear test as earthquake shakes North Korea

South Korea has convened a national security council meeting following a shallow earthquake in North Korea. The quake came shortly after Pyongyang announced it had developed an advanced hydrogen bomb.

North Korea may have conducted a nuclear test, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported on Sunday. The quake appeared to have been manmade, Yonhap added, suggesting that Pyongyang had conducted a sixth nuclear test. South Korea’s military also called the tremor “artificial” and added it was analyzing whether a nuclear test took place.

China’s Earthquake Administration said on Sunday it detected a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in northeastern North Korea that was a “suspected explosion.” The United States Geological Survey called the quake a “possible explosion.”

Past North Korean nuclear tests have resulted in earthquakes.

North Korea announces new H-bomb

The quake came shortly after Pyongyang announced it had developed a thermonuclear weapon with “super explosive power,” the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) claimed, citing leader Kim Jong-Un as saying “all components of the H-bomb were 100 percent domestically made.”

The KCNA said Kim had inspected such a device at the Nuclear Weapons Institute, with pictures showing him in a black suit examining a metal casing.

North Korea has “further upgraded its technical performance at a higher ultra-modern level on the basis of previous successes made in the first H-bomb test,” the KCNA said.

Tensions mount

Pyongyang triggered a new escalation of tensions in July after it carried out two successful tests of an ICBM, the Hwasong-14, bringing much of the US mainland within range. Japan has also called for a concerted international effort to put an end to the “growing threat” posed by North Korea’s nuclear program.

US President Donald Trump spoke by telephone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe following the North Korean announcement, the White House said.

“We completely agreed that we must thoroughly coordinate with each other and with South Korea, and cooperate closely with the international community, to increase pressure on North Korea and make it change its policies,” Abe told reporters

Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Saturday they plan to revise a 43-year-old joint treaty that caps the number and range of South’s ballistic missiles.

Trump and Moon also discussed North Korea’s “continued destabilizing and escalatory behavior,” the White House said in a statement.

Trump has warned that the US military is “locked and loaded” and that North Korea would face “fire and fury” in the event of further provocation. North Korea said the test fire of a missile that flew over Japan was a “curtain-raiser” for its “resolute countermeasures” against ongoing US-South Korean military drills.

“Though we cannot verify the claim, [North Korea] wants us to believe that it can launch a thermonuclear strike now, if it is attacked,” Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, told Reuters news agency.

Pyongyang’s assertion that “this warhead is variable-yield and capable of specialized weapons effects implies a complex nuclear strategy,” Mount added. “It shows [North Korea] is not only threatening assured destruction of the US and allied cities in the event it is attacked, but also is considering limited coercive nuclear strikes, or is seeking credible response options for US ones.”

Technical doubts

Questions remain over whether Pyongyang has miniaturized its weapons and whether it has a working hydrogen bomb.

In January 2016, Pyongyang claimed the device used – its fourth test – was a miniaturized H-bomb. Scientists believe the six-kiloton yield achieved then was too low for a thermonuclear device.

When it carried out its fifth test, in September 2016, it backed away from earlier claims of having tested a hydrogen bomb.

 

 

North Korea launched missile that flew over Japan

 

Young boys curl up on the floor in an evacuation drill

North Korea has fired a missile over Japan which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called the “most serious and grave ever” threat to the country.

The missile was fired just before 6 a.m. in Japan. The launch set off warnings in the northern part of the country urging people to seek shelter.

It flew over Erimomisaki, on the northern island of Hokkaido, and broke into three pieces before falling into the Pacific Ocean, about 1,180 kilometers (733 miles) off the Japanese coast.

The missile was in flight for about 14 minutes, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at an emergency press conference. “There is no immediate report of the fallen objects and no damage to the ships and aircraft,” he added.

Pentagon spokesman US Army Col. Rob Manning said the launch did not pose an immediate threat to North America.

Abe told reporters he had a 40-minute phone call with US President Donald Trump to discuss the missile launch. The two countries have requested an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council, according to Japan’s ambassador to the UN, Koro Bessho.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

“The international community has to put more pressure on North Korea,” Ambassador Bessho said.

The missile was launched near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, which is rare.

CNN’s Will Ripley, who is on the ground in Pyongyang, said the news had not been broadcast to people inside North Korea as of 9:45 a.m. local time.

South Korea responded by conducting a bombing drill at 9:30 a.m. local time to test its “capability to destroy the North Korean leadership” in cases of emergency, an official with the country’s Defense Ministry told CNN.

Yoon Young-chan, the head of South Korea’s Presidential Office Public Affairs Office, told reporters that Four F-15K fighter jets dropped eight one-ton MK-84 bombs at a shooting range.

Republic of Korea Aor Force (RoKAF) Boeing F-15K Slam Eagle

The operation was meant “to showcase a strong punishment capability against the North,” he said.

First time since 1998

Tuesday’s launch comes just three days after Pyongyang test-fired three short-range ballistic missiles from Kangwon province — of the three, one failed.

Notably, however, it is the the first time the country has successfully fired a missile over Japan since 1998, when it sent a satellite launch vehicle over the country.

North Korea also launched satellites into orbit in 2012 and 2016, after which parts of both rockets that carried the satellites fell into the waters to Japan’s east and south. Experts say those satellite launches could be used to test the same technology used in ballistic missiles.

North Korea’s missile tests 

Analysts believe Tuesday’s launch shows a new level of confidence from the North Koreans.

“It is a big deal that they overflew Japan, which they have carefully avoided doing for a number of years, even though it forced them to test missiles on highly lofted trajectories, and forced them to launch their satellites to the south, which is less efficient than launching to the east (due to the Earth’s rotational motion),” said David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“This will make it more difficult for the US to get Japanese support for diplomacy, unfortunately, at exactly the time when the situation is heating up.”

US Senator Lindsey Graham quickly weighed in on Twitter, calling the launch a “a big-time” escalation of conflict.

Senator Lindsey Graham

“Trump Admin must forcefully respond to convince N. Korea their efforts to destabilize the region & world will not be allowed to mature,” he said.

Graham made headlines earlier this month after telling NBC’s “Today” show that President Trump assured him “if there’s going to be a war to stop them, it will be over there,” a comment which concerned US allies already in range of much of North Korea’s arsenal.

‘Reckless act’

Minutes after the missile was launched, residents in northern Japan received a text message urging them to seek shelter in a strong structure or a basement. “We were awoken by sirens and messages from the government telling us to take cover,” one local resident told CNN.

The first message came in at 6:02 a.m. Japan time:

“Missile launched. missile launched. It seems that the missile has been launched from North Korea. Please evacuate to building with strong structure or go to the basement.”

The second alert came in about 12 minutes later:

“Missile passed. Missile passed. A minute ago, the missile seems to have pass the airspace of this area. If you find anything suspicious, please don’t come close to it, report to the police and firefighter directly.”

Prime Minister Abe condemned the launch as a “reckless act.”

Japanese missile defense systems were put on alert, but the missile did not pass close enough for them to engage

“We have fully grasped the movement of the missile immediately after their launch and have been taking every possible effort to protect the lives of people,” he said. “It is a serious and grave threat which impairs the safety and peace of the region.”

Pyongyang’s missile tests are banned under United Nations Security Council resolutions, but that hasn’t stopped current North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from attempting to rapidly develop his country’s nuclear and missile programs.

Analysts say North Korea believes developing a nuclear weapon that can fit atop a missile powerful enough to reach the United States is the only way Pyongyang can deter any US-led efforts at regime change.

The country has long maintained that it will only abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons if the United States ends what Pyongyang calls the American “hostile policy” to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, as North Korea is officially known.

“They cross line after line in an effort to say this is the new reality and you should accept it and go easy on us,” said Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for American Progress. “I think that’s a pretty unambiguous signal that they’re no longer going to be restrained by the United States.”

Peaceful pressure

The administration of US President Donald Trump is pursuing what it calls a strategy of “peaceful pressure” to rein in North Korea’s weapons programs. The goal is to put enough diplomatic and economic pressure on Pyongyang in order to push them to the negotiating table.

Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Trump hinted that the strategy appeared to be working.

Trump mused at a rally in Phoenix that Kim might now respect the United States. At a State Department briefing Wednesday in Washington, Tillerson said the brief respite in the missile launches may have been an example of North Korea demonstrating restraint.

“If Trump and Tillerson believed North Korea backed down, they were sorely mistaken,” Mount said.

“They’re not going to volunteer to do this (give up their weapons). Ever,” he said. “It’s a matter of bargaining. And North Korea has signaled over and over again that the price is really high.”

Another US official says US spy satellites had been observing preparations for a ballistic missile test that would be most likely an intermediate range missile that could reach Guam, the small US territory in the Western Pacific that Pyongyang threatened earlier this month. The official says the assessment is ongoing.

‘Very dangerous’

The launch was also likely a signal to Japan, analysts say, as it comes the day after the Northern Viper military drills ended between the United States and Japan on Hokkaido.

Analysts say it’s likely part of a North Korea strategy to drive a wedge between the US and its two main allies in the region — Japan and South Korea.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga told reporters this launch “could endanger peace and security in the Asia-Pacific region. It is also very dangerous and problematic in terms of the traffic safety of planes and ships.”

The United States is currently participating in its annual 10-day Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises with South Korea, which began on August 21. Those drills are more logistical and defensive in nature — though Pyongyang sees them as provocative — whereas the Northern Viper drills could be considered more operational, Mount said.

Ulchi Freedom Guardian

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry condemned the North Korean launch as “yet another provocation despite grave messages of warning,” in a statement Tuesday.

“The North Korean regime needs to realize that denuclearization is the only true path to securing its security and economic development and needs to come to the path for nuclearization dialogue instead of conducting its reckless provocation,” the statement said.

Dunford Attends Scottish Tattoo, Discusses Defense Topics With U.K. Leaders

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo 2017

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford used his invite to the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland to visit British bases in the area and speak with senior United Kingdom defense leaders on a wide range of defense topics.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was invited months ago by his U.K. counterpart, British Chief of Defense Staff Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach, to visit the tattoo and take the salute from the British units participating in the event.

“I didn’t realize how big the tattoo was when I accepted,” Dunford said during an interview on a flight back to Washington. “I learned.”

The tattoo ceremony is held at the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle the month of August, and more than 210,000 attend the event with about 100 million viewing the event on TV, according to news reports.

Earlier in the day, Dunford met with British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon and Peach to discuss a full range of issues from the South Asia strategy to the situation in East Asia – specifically North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

“Both from my trip and the [positive] rhetoric that is coming out of Beijing is that the economic and political pressure is having an effect,” Dunford said. “It remains to be seen if the campaign will be successful, but there are indications that things are heading in the right direction.”

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford receives a shepherd’s crook from his Scottish hosts at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Edinburgh, Scotland, Aug.25, 2017. DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Dominque A. Pineiro

Chinese officials told North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that if he launched a missile toward Guam, he was on his own. China surprised the world by voting for sanctions against North Korea in the U.N. Security Council and now appears to be enforcing those sanctions, Dunford said.

Still, it is “much too early,” he said. “You can’t measure enforcement sanctions in weeks, but again the rhetoric has been positive from Beijing.”

Dunford also discussed opportunities for continued military-to-military engagement between the United States and the U.K. “We obviously have a very strong relationship with the U.K., and they are with us in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Dunford said.The chairman visited the future HMS Prince of Wales – a Royal Navy aircraft carrier being built in Rosyth, Scotland. The British ship will field American-built F-35B Lightning II aircraft.

“Any future fight is going to require a coalition, and interoperability is a critical and fundamental element of alliance and coalition warfare,” Dunford said. “This reflects the close nature of the alliance and bodes well for the interoperability.”

The chairman received positive feedback from the British leaders on the new strategy for South Asia announced earlier this week.

“It is fair to say that all of the nations that are currently contributing to the Resolute Support Mission, and certainly all of the nations who have been there since the very beginning like the U.K., … have received the strategy well,” Dunford said.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tours the nuclear-fleet submarine HMS Ambush during a visit to Scotland, Aug. 25, 2017. DoD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Dominque A. Pineiro

Coalition allies tell Dunford they believe the conditions-based approach is the right approach, “and that it will allow us all to have a longer-term horizon to assure our Afghan partners of our continuing support,” he said.

The strategy helps Afghan President Ashraf Ghani with his four-year plan to deal with corruption issues and economic development. “Instead of a one-year-at-a-time campaign, we can start to take a longer term approach and have confidence that the resources necessary to implement this longer term approach will be there,” the chairman said.

In addition to the British allies, Dunford spoke with other NATO allies, the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Czech Gen. Petr Pavel and other close partners. He noted that Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, Eucom’s commander and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe, has also spoken to allies, as has Army Gen. Joe Votel, the U.S. Central Command chief.

“We’ve touched a lot of people this week and there has been universal support for the approach we are taking,” the chairman said.

 

 

Stratcom Commander Describes Challenges of 21st-Century Deterrence

Strategic deterrence starts with nuclear capabilities because nuclear war always has been an existential threat to the nation, but deterrence in the 21st century presents new challenges and requires the integration of all capabilities, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command said during a recent interview with DoD News at his command’s Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, headquarters.  

Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten said his three priorities for Stratcom are simple: one, above all else provide a strategic deterrent; two, if deterrence fails provide a decisive response; and three, respond with a combat-ready force.

But unlike in past decades, the 21st century presents more than one adversary and more than one domain, he said.

“It’s now a multipolar problem with many nations that have nuclear weapons, … and it’s also multidomain. … We have adversaries that are looking at integrating nuclear, conventional, space and cyber, all as part of a strategic deterrent. We have to think about strategic deterrence in the same way,” Hyten said.

The vision for Stratcom, he added, is to integrate all capabilities — nuclear, space, cyberspace, missile defense, global strike, electronic warfare, intelligence, targeting, analysis — so they can be brought to bear in a single decisive response if the nation is threatened.

“We can’t [assume] that having 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons under the New START Treaty somehow deters all our adversaries. It doesn’t,” the general said. “We have to think about all the domains, all the adversaries, all the capabilities, and focus our attention across the board on all of those.”

Modernization

Modernization is critical to the future of the U.S. deterrent capability, Hyten said, because all elements of the nuclear triad — bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear submarines — will reach a point within about 15 years at which they’re no longer viable.

“They are viable today. They are safe, secure, reliable, ready, [and] they can do all the missions they need to do today,” he said. “But in the not-too-distant future, that won’t be the case. Sadly, we’ve delayed the modernization of those programs really too long. And now if you lay all the modernization programs out on a single table and you look at when they all deliver, they all deliver just in time.”

The next intercontinental ballistic missile delivers just in time to replace the Minuteman, and the Columbia nuclear submarine delivers just in time to replace the Ohio-class sub, he added.

“Any one-year delay in Columbia means the future Stratcom commander is going to be down one submarine. And any future delay in the ICBM means we’re going to be down a certain number of ICBMs,” Hyten said.

It’s the same with the nation’s B-52 and B-2 bombers, the general said. The B-52 is an old but amazing weapon delivery platform that will have no penetration capability because of evolving penetration profiles. The B-2 is aging out and must be replaced by the B-21. The B-21 will come along just in time to provide the bomber capabilities the nation needs, he added.

“I don’t want a future Stratcom commander to ever face a day where we don’t have a safe, secure, ready and reliable nuclear deterrent,” he said. “It has to be there.”

Extended Deterrence

Extended deterrence is another critical job for Stratcom, Hyten said, noting that assurance is one of the most important things the command does for U.S. allies.

“When you look at our allies like the Republic of Korea or Japan, we have capabilities here that provide an extended deterrent for those two allies and a number of other allies around the world,” he said. “It’s important that the United States always assure them that we will be there with the capabilities that we have if they’re ever attacked with nuclear capabilities. That’s what extended deterrence means.”

Assurance can come through demonstrations, partnerships and exercises, he noted.

“There is a challenge right now with North Korea, and it’s very important for the Republic of Korea and for Japan to know that we will be there. And we will be,” he said.

The Pentagon considers North Korean mobile ballistic missiles a top threat

Stratcom’s Strength

Stratcom’s strength lies with the 184,000 people who show up and do Stratcom business every day, Hyten said.

“The best part of being a commander is actually seeing the young men and women who do this mission every day,” the general said. “The soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines sign up to do some of the most difficult jobs that our country has, and man, they do it, they love it and they’re good at it.”

Hyten said he can’t emphasize the importance of Stratcom’s people enough. “Sometimes it brings tears to your eyes when you see the quality of the people who come, who raise their hand and want to come and serve our country,” he added.

The general said he loves the fact that Stratcom’s people raise their hands and swear an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution, an ideal written down on a piece of paper more than 200 years ago. That ideal still is what drives men and women of the nation to want to serve, he added.

“The people of this command take that very seriously,” Hyten said, “and they are just remarkable in what they do.”