Tag: Pyongyang

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.

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.

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.