Tag: Pyongyang

Guam, Japan prepare for possible North Korea missile launch

SANTA RITA, Guam. An aerial view of U.S. Naval Base Guam. Naval Base Guam supports the U.S. Pacific Fleet. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Hagatña, Guam (CNN) North Korean military figures are putting the final touches on a plan to fire four missiles into the waters around the US-territory of Guam, to be presented to leader Kim Jong Un within days.

In a statement last week, Gen. Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, said the plan to fire “four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets … to signal a crucial warning to the US” would be ready by “mid-August.”

Recent days have seen a significant escalation of tensions in the region as preparations are put in place for a possible launch in Guam, Japan and South Korea.

A notice put out by Guam’s Joint Information Center Saturday warned residents how to prepare “for an imminent missile threat.”

“Do not look at the flash or fireball — it can blind you,” the note said. “Lie flat on the ground and cover your head. If the explosion is some distance away, it could take 30 seconds or more for the blast wave to hit.”

Guam’s Homeland Security Adviser George Charfauros said Friday it would take 14 minutes for a missile fired from North Korea to reach Guam.

Japan missile defense deployed

On Saturday, some of Japan’s land-based Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptors began arriving at Japanese Self Defense Forces (SDF) bases in three of the four prefectures any North Korean missiles would likely fly over en route to Guam.

Pyongyang identified three of those areas — Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi prefectures — in its statement last week.

A spokesman for SDF said the missiles were being deployed not to intercept missiles, but rather “just in case.” He did not elaborate.

Sim Tack, a senior analyst for private intelligence firm Stratfor, said the Japanese batteries are designed for protecting the area where they are deployed, “(they are) not meant to shoot missiles out of the sky as they pass over Japan at high altitude.”

“So unless those North Korean missiles were to fall short, the Patriots shouldn’t have a function to serve in this particular case,” he said.
Japanese Ballistic Missile Defense Scenario

The SDF spokesman said the country’s Aegis ballistic missile defense system was deployed in the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, but would not give a specific location.

Aegis is able to track 100 missiles simultaneously and fire interceptors to take out an enemy’s ballistic projectiles.

In South Korea, where both the military and civilians are used to facing threats from North Korea, Defense Minister Song Young-moo warned the country’s armed forces “to maintain full readiness” to “immediately punish with powerful force” any action against the South.

“Recently, North Korea made its habitual absurd remarks that it will turn Seoul into a sea of fire and that it will strike near Guam,” Song said according to ministry official. “North Korea raising tension (on the Peninsula) is a serious challenge against the South Korean-US alliance and the international community.”

Meanwhile, US-South Korean joint military exercises are due to begin later this month. The annual exercises, called Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, are expected to run from August 21 to 31.

Calls for calm

Chinese President Xi Jinping and other world leaders have called for calm as both Pyongyang and Washington upped their saber-rattling rhetoric.

On Friday, US President Donald Trump doubled down on his statement that he would unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if Pyongyang continued its threats, saying in a tweet that “military solutions” were “locked and loaded” for use against North Korea.

According to a statement from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xi told Trump in a call between the two leaders Saturday all “relevant parties parties should exercise restraint and avoid words and actions that would escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel described escalation as “the wrong answer,” while Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Trump’s statements were “very worrying.”

Last week, New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English criticized Trump’s “fire and fury” comments as “not helpful in an environment that’s very tense.”

French President Emmanuel Macron called for the international community to work with North Korea to “resume the path of dialogue without conditions,” following a call with Trump Saturday.

Washington has previously said it will consider talks with Pyongyang if it agrees to give up its nuclear weapons program, a pre-condition North Korean officials have described as a non-starter.

Guam waits for news

At a church in central Guam Sunday, parishioners sang “Lord, we pray for world peace” after discussing the potential North Korean threat.

“There’s a lot of disbelief going on, there’s a lot of anxiety,” Father Paul Gofigan told CNN after the mass.

Gofigan said there is not a lot of panic in Guam, and that people’s faith — the island has been overwhelmingly Catholic since the arrival of Spanish missionaries in the 17th century– has been on display in recent days.

“Faith is so deeply rooted into our culture,” he said.

The territory’s governor, Eddie Baza Calvo, said he spoke with Trump and the President’s chief of staff, John Kelly, on Saturday.

“Both assured me that the people of Guam are safe,” Calvo wrote on Facebook. “In the President’s words they are behind us ‘1,000 percent.’ As the head of the Government of Guam, I appreciate their reassurances that my family, my friends, everyone on this island, are all safe.”

As an unincorporated US territory, citizens of Guam cannot vote in general elections. The island is also home to a large US military presence, a fact that has led to tension with some local residents, particularly those of the indigenous Chamorro community.

“Nobody really deserves to be caught in the middle of these games,” said Victoria-Lola Leon Guerrero, an activist who campaigns for a lowered military presence.

“You’re playing with people’s lives. We just want peace, we just want to continue to enjoy our lives here.”

 

North Korea seen to prepare for another missile test-launch within 2 weeks

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

It has been confirmed that the South Korean military has detected signs of North Korea’s missile provocations and is tracing relevant movements. Some U.S. experts also project that North Korea will likely launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) within two weeks. There are increasing concerns among U.S. experts that Pyongyang, which has been silent about Seoul’s offer of military and Red Cross talks, will carry out a surprise missile test.


According to military sources on Thursday, South Korean and U.S. surveillance devices such as satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles have detected signs of movements by transporter erector launchers (TELs) and missile radars near Pyongyang and other inland sites. Another source said that a series of “unusual signs” near Pyongyang on Wednesday led to a heightened watch posture in South Korea, indicating a high possibility of a missile launch in preparation.

CNN also reported a Wednesday that the U.S. intelligence authorities had detected the North’s addition ICBM launch. CNN said that satellite and radar imagery indicated North Korea’s operation of ICBM or IRBM components or facilities, indicating an additional missile test-launch within about two weeks. A U.S. intelligence officer told CNN that the North is still developing submarine-launched ballistic missile, although it is still in an early stage. Washington is reportedly closely watching North Korea’s radar and communications networks for an additional provocation following the Hwasong-14 rocket launch on July 4.

Source: The Dong-A Ilbo.

North Korea’s Nuclear Programme, less than the cost of one US Aircraft Carrier

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — When North Korea decided to go nuclear, it committed to a huge investment in a program that would bring severe sanctions and eat up precious resources that could have been spent boosting the nation’s quality of life.

Money well spent?

Leader Kim Jong Un seems to think so.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programs have without doubt come at a high cost, but the North has managed to march ever closer to having an arsenal capable of attacking targets in the region and – as demonstrated by its July 4 test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile – the United States’ mainland.

Good, solid figures for just about anything in North Korea are hard to find. So what follows should be taken as ballpark guesses, at best.

But here’s a look at how much that arsenal might cost Pyongyang, and why Kim might think that’s the price he must pay to survive.

THE NUCLEAR PRICETAG

South Korea has estimated the cost of the North’s nuclear program at $1 billion to $3 billion, with the higher number combining nuclear and missile development.

For context: one nuclear-powered Virginia class attack submarine costs the United States Navy about $2.5 billion. The USS Gerald Ford, America’s newest aircraft carrier, has an $8 billion price tag, not counting development costs.

South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense estimated the cost of the first 31 ballistic missiles Kim Jong Un test-launched from when he took power in late 2011 until July last year at $97 million. It put the price of each Scud at $1 million to $2 million; each Musudan from $3 million to $6 million; and each submarine-launched ballistic missile at $5 million to $10 million. Up until July last year, Kim had launched 16 Scuds, six Rodongs, six Musudans and three SLBMs.

Kim Jong-Un waving after the military parade in Pyongyang marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of late North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung.
AFP

Including the launch this month of its first ICBM, North Korea has conducted 11 tests, launching 17 missiles, so far this year.

North Korea’s total defense spending is believed to be around $10 billion a year, or somewhere between a fifth to a quarter of its gross domestic product (about $30 billion to $40 billion).

WHERE DOES IT GET THE MONEY?

That’s a matter of heated debate. But the $2 billion it made in exports in 2015 would not begin to cover it. North Korea is also believed to have relied on foreign currency sent by tens of thousands of laborers dispatched abroad, as well as exports of illegal weapons and cybercrime.

Its military-spending-to-GDP ratio far exceeds any other country, but in monetary terms it spends much less than its neighbors, including South Korea and Japan, and its budget is absolutely minuscule when compared to the United States.

Curtis Melvin, a researcher at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, said that if the South Korean nuclear-program estimate is correct it would be a significant – but not necessarily destabilizing – draw on the North’s economy.

“This is expensive, but probably a cost the country can absorb without fomenting much resentment among North Korean “elites,” he said. “In fact, North Korean elites would probably feel less secure without a nuclear program even if its costs relative to the economy as a whole were higher.”

Melvin said the economic situation for common North Koreans would have to be in near ruin, with domestic resentment among elites reaching dangerous levels, before North Korea would reconsider its nuclear program.

“Current signals indicate that North Korea is nowhere near this breaking point,” he said.

BURDEN OR BARGAIN?

The bottom line is that regime survival is Kim Jong Un’s primary objective.

There is no way North Korea could keep up with its richer and more technologically advanced neighbors in a conventional arms race.

While certainly expensive, the North’s nuclear strategy is in one sense a potential source of savings – once developed, maintaining a viable nuclear deterrent is less costly than paying for its conventional, million-man military. Once it has reliable nuclear arms, Pyongyang could reduce its spending on other areas of the military and redirect those savings toward the domestic economy.

It’s possible Kim Jong Un has already begun doing that.

Officially announced budgets have shown increases in funds for the public good, and Kim has adopted as his guiding policy a strategy of simultaneously developing the country’s nuclear arsenal and the national economy. Outside estimates indicate the North’s GDP has been growing slowly or at least holding steady since he became leader, and there has been visible growth in construction and infrastructure projects, along with the production of consumer goods, over the past five years.

The flip side is the harder to quantify loss in revenue from trade and friendly relationships with the outside world due to sanctions aimed at getting Pyongyang to denuclearize.

Talmadge is the AP’s Pyongyang bureau chief. Follow him of Twitter at EricTalmadge and Instagram.

Source: Associated Press.

South Korea proposes military, family reunion talks with North Korea

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-In (Photo credit: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

South Korea on Monday proposed military talks with North Korea this week, the first government-level talks since late 2015, in an effort to halt hostile activities near their joint border and after a series of missile tests by the North in recent weeks.

The proposal is the first formal overture by the government of President Moon Jae-in, who came to power in May pledging to engage the North in dialogue, as well as to apply pressure on Pyongyang to reduce tension on the Korean peninsula.

“We request military talks with the North on July 21 at Tongilgak to stop all hostile activities that raise military tension at the military demarcation line,” South Korea’s Vice Defence Minister Suh Choo-suk told a media briefing.

Tongilgak is a North Korean building at the Panmunjom truce village on the border used for previous inter-Korea talks. The last government-level talks were held in December 2015.

The proposal came roughly a week after Moon said the need for dialogue with North Korea was more pressing than ever to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.

The vice defence minister did not elaborate on the meaning of hostile military activities, which varies between the two Koreas. South Korea usually refers to loudspeaker broadcasts and other provocations, while the North wants a halt to routine joint U.S.-South Korea military drills.

Moon has suggested hostile military activities be halted at the inter-Korean border on July 27, the anniversary of the 1953 armistice agreement that ended the Korean War.

The South Korean Red Cross on Monday proposed talks with the North to discuss reunions of family members separated during the Korean War. It suggested talks be held on August 1, with possible reunions over the Chuseok holiday, which falls in October this year.

Pyongyang has repeatedly said it refuses to engage in all talks with the South unless Seoul turns over 12 waitresses who defected to the South last year.

North Korea says the South abducted the 12 waitresses and the restaurant manager and has demanded their return, but the South has said the group decided to defect of its own free will.

It conducted the first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) earlier this month, claiming to have mastered the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on the missile. South Korea and the United States dispute the claim.

In an act to rein in the North, the United States is preparing new sanctions on Chinese banks and firms doing business with Pyongyang possibly within weeks, two senior U.S. officials said last week.

Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Paul Tait and Michael Perry.

Source: Reuters Africa.

 

U.S. threatens military force against North Korea

United States UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks during a UN Security Council meeting on North Korea’s latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile. (Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press)

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Wednesday that North Korea’s actions were “quickly closing off the possibility of a diplomatic solution” and the United States was prepared to defend itself and its allies.

“One of our capabilities lies with our considerable military forces. We will use them if we must, but we prefer not to have to go in that direction,” Haley told a UN Security Council meeting on Pyongyang’s recent intercontinental ballistic missile launch.

She said the United States would propose new UN sanctions on North Korea “in the coming days.”

She also warned that Washington was prepared to cut off trade with countries trading with North Korea in violation of UN resolutions.

Russia calls for dialogue

Russia’s deputy UN envoy said military force should not be considered against North Korea and also called for a halt to the deployment of a U.S. missile defence system in South Korea.

“The possibility of taking military measures to resolve the problems of the Korean Peninsula should be excluded,” said deputy Russian UN ambassador Vladimir Safronkov. “We express our support to the idea of North and South Korea engaging in dialogue and consultations.”

He also said that attempts to economically strangle North Korea are “unacceptable” and that sanctions will not resolve the issue.

Russian deputy UN ambassador Vladimir Safronkov spoke against proposed sanctions on North Korea at the Security Council meeting. (Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press)

China’s UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi, who also holds the Security Council presidency this month, said North Korea’s missile launch was a “flagrant violation” of UN resolutions and “unacceptable.”
“We call on all the parties concerned to exercise restraint, avoid provocative actions and belligerent rhetoric, demonstrate the will for unconditional dialogue and work actively together to defuse the tension,” Liu told the Security Council.
He also called for a halt to the U.S. deployment of a missile defence system in South Korea.

The intercontinental ballistic missile North Korea said it successfully test-launched on Tuesday flew a trajectory that experts said could allow a weapon to hit Alaska. (KCNA/Reuters)

China is North Korea’s only major ally and its biggest trading partner.

U.S. and Russia at odds

Near the end of the hour-long session, the seventh time this year the Security Council has discussed North Korea, the U.S. and Russian ambassadors spoke again.

Taking issue with what her Russian counterpart had said, Haley said the U.S. “will go our own path” to deal with North Korea if other countries do not approve new UN sanctions.

Safronkov responded that sanctions could not be a cure-all and that a political solution was also necessary.

Original article: CBC News.

 

 

 

North Korea ICBM: US and South Korea conduct missile drills in a show of force [VIDEO]

Arirang News, 5 July 2017

한미, 北도발 대응 탄도미사일 훈련…300㎞ 현무-2A 발사

In a rapid show of force against North Korea for Tuesday’s now confirmed ICBM test, the South Korean and U.S. militaries have conducted an offensive ballistic missile drill aimed at striking the North’s leadership.

South Korea and the U.S. staged a massive combined ballistic missile exercise this morning.
It was aimed at sending a strong warning to Pyongyang that the allies are ready and willing to destroy key facilities in the North with a push of a button.

The large scale drill comes less than 24 hours after North Korea test-fired its ICBM.
South Korea fired a ballistic missile known as Hyunmoo-2 and the U.S. fired a tactical surface-to-surface missile, into South Korea’s territorial waters in the East Sea.

In a statement released by the presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae earlier today, the drills were conducted on the order of President Moon Jae-in, who stressed the need to demonstrate the allies’ defense posture with action not just a statement.

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed the move, saying he highly praised President Moon’s reaction to the North’s provocation.

North Korea’s state run Korean Central News Agency reported early Wednesday that Pyongyang had mastered the atmospheric re-entry technology for its ICBM.

Experts say the re-entry technology is the most important and difficult process when developing an ICBM.
It also claimed the ICBM is capable of carrying a large size nuclear warhead, but that is not confirmed by any independent experts.

In response, the South Korean military warned the North that the allies are ready to retaliate in case of a North Korean missile attack and that it’s leadership will be ‘wiped off the face of the earth’ if they threaten the security of the allies.

North Korea claims first intercontinental ballistic missile launch

SKY NEWS, 4 July 2017

An expert says the missile could be powerful enough to reach Alaska, and it comes as the US prepares to mark its independence day.

North Korea claims to have successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) – contradicting US and South Korean officials who earlier said it was an intermediate-range missile.

The latest in a series of test-firings appears to be the secretive state’s longest-range ballistic missile launch to date.

If confirmed as an ICBM, it would be considered a game-changer by countries looking to check North Korea’s attempts to build a nuclear-tipped missile that could reach the United States.

It is believed to have taken place from Pyongyang’s North Phyongan province and flew 930km (580 miles) for about 40 minutes before landing in the Sea of Japan in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said: “We assume it a medium long-range ballistic missile. But we still plan to devise necessary measures assuming it may have been an ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile).
“If it is ICBM, we will need to come up with the corresponding measures.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in. (Credit: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)

He added Seoul would continue to “resolutely deal with North Korean provocations in close co-operation with the international community while maintaining a strong defence with the (South) Korea-US joint forces, based on the strong Korea-US alliance”.

US President Donald Trump responded on Twitter: “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life? Hard to believe that South Korea…

“…and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”

He also called for China and Russia to take more “constructive measures” to address this issue.

Earlier this week, North Korea was a key topic in phone calls between Mr Trump and the leaders of China and Japan.

The reclusive nation has continued with its programme despite painful UN and unilateral sanctions – and described such punishment as an infringement of its right to self-defence.

Pyongyang maintains nuclear weapons are necessary to counter US aggression, but America denies it has any intention to attack the North.