Tag: South 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.

 

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.

Kongsberg gains Norwegian and Finnish contracts

Kongsberg gains Norwegian, South Korean contracts

Kongsberg Defense Systems will maintain gear boxes on Norway’s Sea King helicopters, under a deal with the Norwegian Defense Logistics organization.

The framework agreement, which could cost as much as $37.9 million, is in effect until 2020 and has a three-year option.

“This framework agreement secures a continued operation of the Norwegian Sea King helicopters until the new AW101 search-and-rescue helicopters are fully operative, and entail an important continuity for Kongsberg in a period where the organization is being built up to maintain gearboxes on the NH-90 and AW101 helicopters,” Kongsberg’s Executive Vice President Aerostructure Terje Bråthen said in a company news release Tuesday.

The Norway-based company also announced it will deliver its Integrated Combat Solution for Finland’s new K9 Thunder 155mm self-propelled artillery.

The contract was signed with Hanwha Land Systems of South Korea, maker of the artillery.

 

 

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.”

 

North Korea threatens missile strike on Guam that will create an ‘enveloping fire’

North Korea said it is “carefully examining” plans to attack Guam with medium- to long-range ballistic missiles, state-run media reported Wednesday.

The rogue nation’s statement follows President Donald Trump‘s comments hours before, during which he warned North Korea that any threats to the U.S. “will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen”

The North Korean army made the announcement in a statement distributed by its state-run news agency that the military is reviewing a plan to create an “enveloping fire” in areas around the U.S. territory, located in the Pacific Ocean about 2,100 miles from North Korea.

The statement said the decision to review such plans is in response to a recent ICBM test.

There are 7,000 US military personnel on Guam.

The main base on the island is Andersen Air Force Base that is home to long-range B-1 bombers that have recently been used for “show of force” missions to South Korea following North Korea’s two ICBM missile launches.

A pair of B-1B Strategic Bombers based in Guam

Andersen Air Force Base is just one of the installations on Guam; Naval Base Guam also has a significant number of personnel.

Guam’s offices of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defense said in a statement that its threat level remained unchanged, and that it will “continue to monitor the recent events surrounding North Korea and their threatening actions.”

Homeland Security adviser George Charfauros said in a statement, “As of this morning, we have not changed our stance in confidence that the U.S. Department of Defense is monitoring this situation very closely and is maintaining a condition of readiness, daily. We will continue to keep the public updated on any changes or requests for action. For now, we advise the community to remain calm, remember that there are defenses in place for threats such as North Korea and to continue to remain prepared for all hazards.”

Charfauros is in regular contact with the federal Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Defense. He has not received any guidance that there is an imminent threat, Guam Homeland Security said.

Still, the speaker of the Guam Legislature told The Associated Press he hopes the island can defend itself in the event of a North Korean attack.

“We’re just praying that the United States and the … defense system we have here is sufficient enough to protect us,” Benjamin J. Cruz said.

Cruz said the threat is “very disconcerting,” adding, “It forces us to pause and to say a prayer for the safety of our people.”

Guam’s governor, Eddie Calvo, released a two-minute video message to the island’s residents, in which he said, “I want to ensure that we are prepared for any eventuality.”

 

 

 

 

US sends pair of supersonic bombers in show of force after second ICBM test

Two Guam-based Air Force B-1B Lancers assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, fly over the Korean Peninsula, Sunday, July 30, 2017. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO.

TOKYO — Two Air Force supersonic bombers flew low over the Korean Peninsula Sunday in a show of force after North Korea test-fired its second intercontinental ballistic missile.

The exercise — part of a 10-hour mission with South Korean and Japanese fighter jets — was “in direct response to North Korea’s escalatory launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” a Pacific Air Forces statement said.

A suspected Hwasong-14 missile — the second ICBM North Korea has tested successfully so far this month — was fired late Friday from Mupyong-ni in the country’s far northwest and splashed down into the Sea of Japan about 620 miles east of the launch site, a Pentagon statement said.

The Guam-based B-1B Lancers first flew into Japanese airspace and were joined by two Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-2 fighter jets, the statement said. The bombers then flew over the Korean Peninsula and were met by four South Korean F-15s. After a low pass over Osan Air Base, the pair returned to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

The aircrews took part in “intercept and formation” training throughout the mission, the statement said.
A similar drill took place after North Korea launched its first ICBM on July 4, though that one involved the Lancers firing inert weapons at a range in South Korea.

The Air Force said the missions show solidarity with its allies South Korea and Japan, where the U.S. has a combined force of about 80,000 servicemembers.

“North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability,” Gen. Terrence O’Shaughnessy, Pacific Air Forces commander, said in the statement. “Diplomacy remains the lead; however, we have a responsibility to our allies and our nation to showcase our unwavering commitment while planning for the worst-case scenario.”

Source: Stars and Stripes.

South Korea to Deploy 4 More Anti-missile Units

A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched from the Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak, Alaska, during Flight Test THAAD, July 11, 2017.

South Korea said Saturday it will proceed with the deployment of four additional units of the U.S. THAAD anti-missile defense system after North Korea’s latest launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The deployment of the additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defenae (THAAD) units had been delayed after the initial two units, after South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered an environmental assessment.

China has been notified of the move to speed up the deployment, the South’s presidential Blue House said.

China’s Foreign Ministry expressed serious concern Saturday about South Korea decision to proceed with the deployment of the additional units.

The deployment will not resolve South Korea’s security concerns and will only make things more complex, the ministry said, reiterating a Chinese call for the system to be withdrawn.

North Korea said earlier Saturday it had conducted another successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that proved its ability to strike all of America’s mainland.

Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), formerly Theater High Altitude Area Defense, is an American anti-ballistic missile defense system designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase by intercepting with a hit-to-kill approach. THAAD was developed after the experience of Iraq’s Scud missile attacks during the Gulf War in 1991. The THAAD interceptor carries no warhead, but relies on its kinetic energy of impact to destroy the incoming missile. A kinetic energy hit minimizes the risk of exploding conventional warhead ballistic missiles, and nuclear tipped ballistic missiles will not detonate upon a kinetic energy hit.

Originally a United States Army program, THAAD has come under the umbrella of the Missile Defense Agency. The Navy has a similar program, the sea-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System, which now has a land component as well (“Aegis ashore”). THAAD was originally scheduled for deployment in 2012, but initial deployment took place in May 2008. THAAD has been deployed in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and South Korea.

The THAAD system is being designed, built, and integrated by Lockheed Martin Space Systems acting as prime contractor. Key subcontractors include Raytheon, Boeing, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Honeywell, BAE Systems, Oshkosh Defense, MiltonCAT and the Oliver Capital Consortium.

On 6 March 2017, two THAAD launcher trucks arrived by air transport at Osan Air Base South Korea, for a deployment. Earlier that day, North Korea had launched 4 missiles. A Reuters article stated that with the THAAD defense system, a North Korean missile barrage would still pose a threat to South Korea, while an article in the International Journal of Space Politics & Policy said that South Korean forces already possess Patriot systems for point defense and Aegis destroyers capable of stopping ballistic missiles that may come from the north, in a three-layer antimissile defense for South Korea. On 16 March 2017, a THAAD radar arrived in South Korea. The THAAD system is kept at Osan Air Base until the site where the system is due to be deployed is prepared, with an expected ready date of June 2017. Osan Air Base has blast-hardened command posts with 3 levels of blast doors.

By 25 April 2017, six trailers carrying the THAAD radar, interceptor launchers, communications, and support equipment entered the Seongju site. On 30 April 2017, it was reported that South Korea would bear the cost of the land and facilities for THAAD, while the US will pay for operating it. On 2 May 2017, Moon Sang-gyun, with the South Korean Defense Ministry and Col. Robert Manning III, a spokesman for the U.S. military announced that the THAAD system in Seongju is operational and “has the ability to intercept North Korean missiles and defend South Korea.” It was reported that the system will not reach its full operational potential until later this year when additional elements of the system are onsite. In June 2017 South Korea decided to halt further deployment. The 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade (United States) has integrated THAAD into its layered defense on the Korean Peninsula.

Even in the face of a North Korean ICBM test on 4 July 2017, which newly threatens Alaska, a Kodiak, Alaska-based THAAD interceptor test (FTT-18) against a simulated attack by an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile had long been planned. FTT-18 was successfully completed by Battery A-2 THAAD (Battery A, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade (United States) on 11 July 2017. The soldiers used the procedures of an actual combat scenario and were not aware of the IRBM’s launch time.

Also in 2017 another Kodiak launch of a THAAD interceptor is scheduled between 7:30PM and 1:30AM on Saturday 29 July, Sunday 30 July, or Monday 31 July, at alternative times. North Korea is apparently positioning launch equipment in Kusong in preparation for a 27 July holiday. Lee Jong-kul, of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s Minjoo Party states “The nuclear and missile capabilities of North Korea…have been upgraded to pose serious threats; the international cooperation system to keep the North in check has been nullified..”, citing tensions over the U.S. deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system in South Korea.

Source: Voice of America News.