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Fukushima ice wall facing doubts as project nears completion

Barrier will block only a fraction of groundwater contamination

0823N-Fukushima-Daiichi_article_main_image

Work has begun on the final 7 meters of an “ice wall” at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

 

TOKYO — Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings began Tuesday the final phase of an underground “ice wall” around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant intended to reduce groundwater contamination, though experts warn the bold project could be much less effective than once hoped.

At 9 a.m., workers began activating a refrigeration system that will create the last 7 meters of a roughly 1.5km barrier of frozen earth around the plant’s reactor buildings, which were devastated by the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdowns of March 2011. Masato Kino, an official from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry supervising the cleanup, spoke cautiously at the occasion, noting that “producing results is more important than the simple act of freezing” that particular segment of soil.

Tepco estimates that roughly 580 tons of water now pass through the ice wall on the reactor buildings’ landward side each day, down from some 760 tons before freezing of soil commenced in March 2016. About 130 tons daily enter the reactor buildings themselves, and Tepco hopes completing the wall will bring that figure below 100 tons.

By this math, the near-complete wall blocks only a little over 20% of groundwater coming toward it. But, as Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said Aug. 15 when approving the wall’s final stage, the barrier is “ultimately only a supporting measure” to other systems preventing contamination. The main line of defense is a so-called subdrain system of 41 wells around the reactor buildings that pump up 400 to 500 tons of water daily, preventing clean water from entering the site and contaminated water from leaving it.

Slow going

Freezing of earth around the facility has been conducted gradually, amid concerns that highly contaminated water inside could rush out should the water level inside the reactor buildings drop. “Working carefully while keeping control of the water level is a must,” said Yuzuru Ito, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Setsunan University.

It is unclear precisely when the wall will be complete. The plan is to freeze soil 30 meters deep over the course of two or three months, completing the barrier as soon as this fall. But as the gap in the wall narrows, water flows through it more quickly, making soil there more difficult to freeze. “Water is flowing quickly now, and so it is difficult to proceed as we have so far,” a Tepco representative said.

Japan has spent some 34.5 billion yen ($315 million) in taxpayer funds on the wall, expecting the icy barrier to put a decisive end to groundwater contamination at the Fukushima plant. It now appears that a dramatic improvement is not likely, though the wall will still require more than 1 billion yen per year in upkeep. “The frozen-earth barrier is a temporary measure,” said Kunio Watanabe, a professor of resource science at Mie University. “Some other type of wall should be considered as well.”

https://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Fukushima-ice-wall-facing-doubts-as-project-nears-completion

 

August 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Outside of the exclusion zone, Shirakawa city, Fukushima: 1-3 µSv/h

17 aug 2017 shirakawa city

Aug 17th, 017. From Mrs. Hiroko Tsuzuki:

“Shirakawa City. Fukushima Prefecture. All over my hometown, former residence, public school, High School, Bus Stops. 1-3 µSv/h.”

97.1 km from Fukushima Daiichi. Way outside of the “evacuation zone” so they have no recourse.

Screenshot from 2017-08-23 17-15-10.png

August 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 2 Comments

The USA- South Korea war games begin on the Korean Peninsula

US-South Korea begin wargames  https://uk.news.yahoo.com/us-south-korea-begin-wargames-051130924.html,  23 Aug 17  The United States and South Korea have kicked off their annual military exercise, known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian.

The wargames use computer simulations to prepare for conflict with nuclear-capable North Korea.

Troops from seven allied nations, including Britain, Canada and Australia, are also taking part.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in denied Pyongyang’s accusation that the drills are a rehearsal for an invasion.

“This year’s Ulchi exercise is to check the defensive postures of our civilians, government and military to secure the lives and safety of our people”, Moon said at a cabinet meeting. “It is an annual exercise of a defensive nature, and there is no intention of heightening military tensions on the Korean Peninsula”.

Peace activists in Seoul protested the decision to go ahead with the drill, concerned it could trigger retaliation by North Korea. Pyongyang last week appeared to back down from a threat to launch a missile strike on the US territory of Guam.

China has also urged Washington to scrap the ten-day-long exercise.

August 23, 2017 Posted by | South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Growth in climate migration – one billion by 2050?

Climate Migrants Might Reach One Billion by 2050 http://www.ipsnews.net/2017/08/climate-migrants-might-reach-one-billion-by-2050/, 

Although not yet based on definite scientific projections, the proven speed with which the process of climate change has been taking place, might lead to such a scenario by 2050. If so, 1 in 9 human beings would be on the move by then.

Migrants in Countries in Crisis: Guidelines

 

Currently, forecasts vary from 25 million to 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis, with 200 million being the most widely cited estimate, according to a 2015 study carried out by the Institute for Environment and Human Security of the United Nations University.

“This figure equals the current estimate of international migrants worldwide.

Other specialised sources estimate that “every second, one person is displaced by disaster.” On this, the Oslo-based Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reports that in 2015 only, more than 19.2 million people fled disasters in 113 countries. “Disasters displace three to ten times more people than conflict and war worldwide

One Person Displaced Every Second

As climate change continues, adds NRC, it will likely lead to more frequent and severe natural hazards; the impact will be heavy, warns this independent humanitarian organisation providing aid and assistance to people forced to flee.

“On average, 26 million people are displaced by disasters such as floods and storms every year. That’s one person forced to flee every second.” See: Climate Victims – Every Second, One Person Is Displaced by Disaster

For its part, the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) also forecasts 200 million environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis. Many of them would be coastal population.

In an interview to IPS, the IOM Director General William Lacy Swing explained that political crises and natural disasters are the other major drivers of migration today.

“We have never had so many complex and protracted humanitarian emergencies now happening simultaneously from West Africa all the way to Asia, with very few spots in between which do not have some issue.”

The UN specialised body’s chief added “We have today 40 million forcibly displaced people and 20 million refugees, the greatest number of uprooted people since the Second World War.” See: Q&A: Crisis and Climate Change Driving Unprecedented Migration

Droughts, Desertification

Another warning comes from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which estimates that some 135 million people may be displaced by 2045 as a result of desertification.

Up to 12 million hectares of productive land become barren every year due to desertification and drought alone, which is a lost opportunity to produce 20 million tons of grain, adds the Bonn-based Convention secretariat.

Meantime, the increase in droughts and flash floods that are stronger, more frequent and widespread is destroying the land – the Earth’s main fresh water store, according to UNCCD.

“Droughts kill more people than any other single weather-related catastrophe and conflicts among communities over water scarcity are gathering pace. Over 1 billion people today have no access to water, and demand will increase by 30 per cent by 2030.”

On the other hand, getting sustainable energy to all represents one of the biggest development challenges of the 21st century, it continues.

“Research suggests that 1.4 billion people — over 20 per cent of the global population — lack access to electricity, and that at least 2.7 billion people — some 40 cent of the global population — rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking.”

In short, land, water and energy as resources are all pillars of our survival and of sustainable development.

“They stand or fall together. To be sustainable and in particular to reach poor rural populations, we need to enhance supply, access and security across all three pillars, at the same time, while supporting global climate ambitions.”

National Security, Migration

On this, based on the UN Environment Programme’s 2009 study “From Conflict to Peace-building. The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment,” UNCCD reminds that 40 per cent of all intrastate conflicts in the past 60 years are linked to the control and allocation of natural resources.

“The exposure of more and more poor people to water scarcity and hunger opens the door to the failure of fragile states and regional conflicts. Non-state actor groups are increasingly taking advantage of large cross-border migration flows and abandoned lands.”

Where natural assets including land are poorly managed, warns the Convention, violence might become the dominant means of resource control, forcing natural resource assets out of the hands of legitimate government.

Meanwhile, the number of international migrants worldwide has been on the rise. According to the International migration report (2015), their number has continued to grow rapidly over the past fifteen years reaching 244 million in 2015, up from 222 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000.

Losing productive land is driving people to make risky life choices, says UNCCD, adding that in rural areas where people depend on scarce productive land resources, land degradation is a driver of forced migration.

Africa is particularly susceptible since more than 90 per cent of economy depends on a climate-sensitive natural resource base like rain-fed, subsistence agriculture.

“Unless we change the way we manage our land, in the next 30 years we may leave a billion or more vulnerable poor people with little choice but to fight or flee.”

Currently, forecasts vary from 25 million to 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis, with 200 million being the most widely cited estimate, according to a 2015 study carried out by the Institute for Environment and Human Security of the United Nations University.

“This figure equals the current estimate of international migrants worldwide.

Other specialised sources estimate that “every second, one person is displaced by disaster.” On this, the Oslo-based Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reports that in 2015 only, more than 19.2 million people fled disasters in 113 countries. “Disasters displace three to ten times more people than conflict and war worldwide

One Person Displaced Every Second

As climate change continues, adds NRC, it will likely lead to more frequent and severe natural hazards; the impact will be heavy, warns this independent humanitarian organisation providing aid and assistance to people forced to flee.

“On average, 26 million people are displaced by disasters such as floods and storms every year. That’s one person forced to flee every second.” See: Climate Victims – Every Second, One Person Is Displaced by Disaster

For its part, the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) also forecasts 200 million environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis. Many of them would be coastal population.

In an interview to IPS, the IOM Director General William Lacy Swing explained that political crises and natural disasters are the other major drivers of migration today.

“We have never had so many complex and protracted humanitarian emergencies now happening simultaneously from West Africa all the way to Asia, with very few spots in between which do not have some issue.”

The UN specialised body’s chief added “We have today 40 million forcibly displaced people and 20 million refugees, the greatest number of uprooted people since the Second World War.” See: Q&A: Crisis and Climate Change Driving Unprecedented Migration

Droughts, Desertification

Another warning comes from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which estimates that some 135 million people may be displaced by 2045 as a result of desertification.

Up to 12 million hectares of productive land become barren every year due to desertification and drought alone, which is a lost opportunity to produce 20 million tons of grain, adds the Bonn-based Convention secretariat.

Meantime, the increase in droughts and flash floods that are stronger, more frequent and widespread is destroying the land – the Earth’s main fresh water store, according to UNCCD.

“Droughts kill more people than any other single weather-related catastrophe and conflicts among communities over water scarcity are gathering pace. Over 1 billion people today have no access to water, and demand will increase by 30 per cent by 2030.”

On the other hand, getting sustainable energy to all represents one of the biggest development challenges of the 21st century, it continues.

“Research suggests that 1.4 billion people — over 20 per cent of the global population — lack access to electricity, and that at least 2.7 billion people — some 40 cent of the global population — rely on the traditional use of biomass for cooking.”

In short, land, water and energy as resources are all pillars of our survival and of sustainable development.

“They stand or fall together. To be sustainable and in particular to reach poor rural populations, we need to enhance supply, access and security across all three pillars, at the same time, while supporting global climate ambitions.”

National Security, Migration

On this, based on the UN Environment Programme’s 2009 study “From Conflict to Peace-building. The Role of Natural Resources and the Environment,” UNCCD reminds that 40 per cent of all intrastate conflicts in the past 60 years are linked to the control and allocation of natural resources.

“The exposure of more and more poor people to water scarcity and hunger opens the door to the failure of fragile states and regional conflicts. Non-state actor groups are increasingly taking advantage of large cross-border migration flows and abandoned lands.”

Where natural assets including land are poorly managed, warns the Convention, violence might become the dominant means of resource control, forcing natural resource assets out of the hands of legitimate government.

Meanwhile, the number of international migrants worldwide has been on the rise. According to the International migration report (2015), their number has continued to grow rapidly over the past fifteen years reaching 244 million in 2015, up from 222 million in 2010 and 173 million in 2000.

Losing productive land is driving people to make risky life choices, says UNCCD, adding that in rural areas where people depend on scarce productive land resources, land degradation is a driver of forced migration.

Africa is particularly susceptible since more than 90 per cent of economy depends on a climate-sensitive natural resource base like rain-fed, subsistence agriculture.

“Unless we change the way we manage our land, in the next 30 years we may leave a billion or more vulnerable poor people with little choice but to fight or flee.”

August 23, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Head of the U.S. military’s Pacific Command says diplomacy — not military action, is the answer to North Korea crisis

U.S. Pacific Command chief says diplomacy — not military action — key to North Korea crisis, Japan Times 22 Aug 17 , REUTERS, AP  The head of the U.S. military’s Pacific Command said on Tuesday it was more important to use diplomacy to counter North Korea’s missile threat rather than consider what actions by the reclusive North might trigger a pre-emptive strike.

Adm. Harry Harris was in South Korea to observe annual joint military drills with the South Korean military, which the North called a step toward nuclear conflict masterminded by the U.S. and South Korean “war maniacs.”

 “So we hope and we work for diplomatic solutions to the challenge presented by Kim Jong Un,” Harris told reporters at a U.S. air base in South Korea about an hour from the capital, Seoul, referring to the North Korean leader.

He said diplomacy was “the most important starting point” in response to the North’s threat, when asked what actions by North Korea might trigger a pre-emptive U.S. strike against Pyongyang……

The United States and South Korean began long-planned joint military exercises on Monday called the Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG), which the allies have said were purely defensive and did not aim to increase tension on the Korean Peninsula.

The drills end on Aug. 31 and involve tens of thousands of troops as well as computer simulations designed to prepare for war with a nuclear-capable North Korea.

A North Korean military spokesman repeated the threat of “merciless retaliation” against the United States for readying a preemptive strike and a war of aggression, using the drills as an excuse to mount such an attack.

“The U.S. will be wholly held accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by such reckless aggressive war maneuvers, as it chose a military confrontation,” the unnamed spokesman said in comments carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency.

The North claims the drills are an invasion rehearsal, senior U.S. military commanders on Tuesday dismissed calls to pause or downsize exercises they called crucial to countering a clear threat from Pyongyang…….https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/08/22/asia-pacific/u-s-pacific-command-chief-says-diplomacy-not-military-action-key-north-korea-crisis/#.WZykbPgjHGg

August 23, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Southeast Asia Swamped by Floods: 24 Million Now Impacted

The Heavens Continue to Unleash Their Fury on Southeast Asia — 24 Million Now Impacted by Flooding as Hato Approaches https://robertscribbler.com/2017/08/23/the-heavens-continue-to-unleash-their-fury-on-southeast-asia-24-million-now-impacted-by-flooding-as-hato-approaches/

The far heavier rains of a warming world have fallen hard over Southeast Asia for nearly two months. In India and Nepal more than 18 million have been affected. But the floodwaters in these higher lands have combined into great torrents flooding downstream into Bangladesh. A country that is now witnessing its worst flood in 100 years as one-third of its low-lying land mass is covered by water.

The damage for such a poor country sitting at the forefront of a growing climate-change-based destruction from the recent extreme rain event has been tremendous. At least 115 people have died. Nearly six million have been impacted. The government has run out of medicine, water purification tablets, and temporary shelters for the hundreds of thousands of people displaced. More than 400,000 hectares of crops have been destroyed. Fully half a million homes have been damaged or lost. And there is not enough food or water to go around.

Fears of water-borne illness such as cholera are running high and calls for international aid in the flood-stricken state have grown more and more urgent. But the worst is not yet over as floodwaters from Nepal and India continue to swell Bangladesh’s multiple waterways over banks and into communities through central and southern parts of the country. And more rain may be on the way as another powerful storm system gathers.

(This is what happens if you keep burning fossil fuels. According to recent scientific reports, the global number of record-breaking rainfall events has increased dramatically during recent years. This increase has coincided with global temperatures exceeding the 1 C warmer than 1880s temperature threshold. Higher global temperatures amp up the hydrological cycle by squeezing more moisture out of land and ocean surfaces. A warmer atmosphere that’s more heavily loaded with moisture adds move convective energy to thunderstorms which tends to spike rainfall potentials for the strongest storms to higher levels. Image source: Increased Record-Breaking Precipitation Events Under Global Warming.)

In the Indian States of Bahir and Assam more than 430 people have lost their lives as schools have been buried under 8 feet of water, crops have been destroyed, roads have been washed out and power has been disrupted. As with Bangladesh, concern over contaminated water supplies has brought with it fears of water-borne illness as a gargantuan disaster relief effort gets underway.

Nepal has likewise seen its share of the pain and heartbreak. There, more than 140 people have perished in the floods as 40,000 families have been severely impacted.

(This is what happens if you keep burning fossil fuels. According to recent scientific reports, the global number of record-breaking rainfall events has increased dramatically during recent years. This increase has coincided with global temperatures exceeding the 1 C warmer than 1880s temperature threshold. Higher global temperatures amp up the hydrological cycle by squeezing more moisture out of land and ocean surfaces. A warmer atmosphere that’s more heavily loaded with moisture adds move convective energy to thunderstorms which tends to spike rainfall potentials for the strongest storms to higher levels. Image source: Increased Record-Breaking Precipitation Events Under Global Warming.)

In the Indian States of Bahir and Assam more than 430 people have lost their lives as schools have been buried under 8 feet of water, crops have been destroyed, roads have been washed out and power has been disrupted. As with Bangladesh, concern over contaminated water supplies has brought with it fears of water-borne illness as a gargantuan disaster relief effort gets underway.

Nepal has likewise seen its share of the pain and heartbreak. There, more than 140 people have perished in the floods as 40,000 families have been severely impacted.

August 23, 2017 Posted by | ASIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Poll shows that most Americans oppose military threats against North Korea

Poll: Most Americans oppose military threats against North Korea, Gephardt Daily, By United Press International – August 21, 2017  Aug. 21 (UPI)  The majority of Americans oppose U.S. military threats against North Korea, according to a new poll. But that opinion changes if diplomatic efforts fail to solve the rift between the two countries.

The CBS News poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe the U.S. “should not” threaten military action against North Korea, while 33 percent said it should.

Among Republicans, however, those numbers are almost reversed. The poll found that 63 percent of GOP supporters believe the U.S. should threaten military action, while 30 percent said it should not.

Among Democrats, the vast majority — 82 percent — said the U.S. should not threaten military action, while only 11 percent said military threats are the right thing to do.

Independents tended to reflect the national average, with 58 percent against military threats and 33 percent in favor.

However, the poll also found that most Americans are in favor of military action if diplomacy doesn’t work…..http://gephardtdaily.com/national-international/poll-most-americans-oppose-military-threats-against-north-korea/

August 23, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Some scientists now urge thta geoengineering is essential, to save the climate

Independent 21st Aug 2017, The world has missed the chance to avoid dangerous global warming – unless
we start geo-engineering the atmosphere by removing greenhouse gases,
according to new research. Scientists used computer models to assess what
needs to be done to restrict global warming to between 1.5 and 2 degrees
Celsius, the limits adopted by the Paris Agreement on climate change.

They found that the world was likely to overshoot this temperature but could
bring it back down to 1.2C by the end of this century by using techniques
to remove carbon dioxide from the air.
http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/world-global-warming-avoid-geo-engineering-planet-climate-change-man-made-a7904966.html

August 23, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

North Korea: new video threatens USA – but not in English – aimed at the home audience?

‘The fate of the sinful U.S. ends here’: North Korea threatens to envelop Guam in missiles in new video
North Korea is not known for subtlety in its propaganda videos, and the latest clip shows a North Korean missile headed toward the U.S. territory 
, National Post 22 Aug 17  The Trump administration should be “keeping its eyes and ears open from now on,” North Korea has warned in an incendiary new video that shows senior security officials being engulfed in flames and U.S. President Donald Trump looking over a field of white crosses with the warning: “The fate of the sinful United States ends here.”

North Korea is not known for subtlety in its propaganda videos, and the latest clip, published by the Uriminzokkiri outlet, shows a North Korean missile headed toward the U.S. territory of Guam, which Pyongyang has been threatening to “envelop” with missiles.

The video was released on the eve of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises between the American and South Korean militaries, which started Monday. The annual drills are mainly computer-based, but they nevertheless annoy North Korea and come at a particularly sensitive time.

Just this month, as tensions between Washington and Pyongyang mounted following the launch of North Korea’s second intercontinental ballistic missile, Trump warned North Korea that it stood to feel the “fire and fury” of the American military…….

The video ends with a calendar showing the days of the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercises (although they got the day wrong, showing them as starting on Sunday when they, in fact, started on Monday.)

Over the top come the words: “Time is not on the U.S.’s side.”

Is it just more bluster, or a real threat? Well, here’s a reason not to be too worried: The video was entirely in Korean. http://nationalpost.com/news/world/the-fate-of-the-sinful-u-s-ends-here-north-korea-threatens-to-envelop-guam-in-missiles-in-new-video/wcm/6ff2f547-bd6c-41b1-942d-dd33d2c7afe5

August 23, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry just haemorrhaging money

Nuclear power plants are ‘bleeding cash’ https://thinkprogress.org/u-s-nuclear-plants-bleeding-cash-c794e4142597/, Business columnist: “Let it be written that environmentalists didn’t kill the nuclear power industry, economics did”, 

August 23, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Clash between USA and North Korea, at United Nations Forum

U.S., North Korea clash at U.N. arms forum on nuclear threat, Stephanie Nebehay, GENEVA (Reuters) 22 Aug 17 – North Korea and the United States accused each other on Tuesday of posing a nuclear threat, with Pyongyang’s envoy declaring it would never put its atomic arsenal up for negotiation.

The debate at the United Nations began when the U.S. envoy said President Donald Trump’s top priority was to protect the United States and its allies against the “growing threat” from North Korea. To do so, he said, the country was ready to use “the full range of capabilities at our disposal”.

U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood told the Conference on Disarmament that the “path to dialogue still remains an option” for Pyongyang, but that Washington was “undeterred in defending against the threat North Korea poses”.

Fears have grown over North Korea’s development of missiles and nuclear weapons since Pyongyang test-launched intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in July. Those fears worsened after Trump warned that North Korea would face “fire and fury” if it threatened the United States.

His remarks led North Korea to say it was considering plans to fire missiles towards the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam. Trump responded by tweeting that the U.S. military was “locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely”.

A few days later, North Korean media reported the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, had delayed any decision on whether to fire missiles towards Guam while he waited to see what the United States would do. Experts warned Pyongyang could still go ahead with the missile launches…….

China’s disarmament ambassador, Fu Cong, called for support for its proposal to defuse the crisis affecting its Pyongyang ally.

“China has called for ‘dual suspension’, that is of North Korea’s nuclear activities and joint military exercises between the Republic of Korea and United States. This seeks to denuclearize the peninsula and promote a security mechanism.”

Wood rejected Beijing’s “freeze for freeze’ plan.

“This proposal unfortunately creates a false equivalency between states that are engaging in legitimate exercises of self-defense who have done so for many years with a regime that has basically violated countless Security Council resolutions with regard to its proscribed nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” he told the gathering.

“That is a false equivalency that we cannot accept and will not accept,” he said.

Fu retorted: “I just want to say that we’re not creating equivalency between anything. We are just actually making the proposal to facilitate a dialogue and to reduce the tension. We need a starting point to really launch the dialogue.” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-usa-idUSKCN1B20XH

August 23, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

North Korea’s threats to Australia, as Australia backs USA war games in the Pacific

North Korea warns of Australia’s ‘suicidal act’ as ADF joins in vast US-South Korea war games https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/north-korea-warns-australia-apos-114116583.html, Paul Colgan, Business Insider, 21 August 2017 Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for continued efforts to “bring North Korea to its senses” after the regime warned Australia was “inviting disaster” through its support of US war games in the Pacific.

Around 25 Australian defence personnel are taking part in the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercise, a large-scale simulated military operation staged regularly by US and South Korean military forces. The operation started yesterday.

North Korea has noted Australia’s involvement and Turnbull’s recent statement that the nation would “come to the aid” of the US under the provisions of the ANZUS treaty if there was a military confrontation with North Korea.

spokesman for the regime’s foreign affairs ministry said Australia and other allies could not “avoid counter-measures of justice” from North Korea if they supported the US in a conflict.

The statement said Turnbull had made “reckless remarks that the allies including Australia were together with the U.S. and that ANZUS stood for the mutual defense between the U.S and Australia, should either one of them come under attack, and Australia would back the U.S. in time of emergency.

“Not long after the Australian prime minister had stated that they would join in the aggressive moves of the U.S., even referring to ANZUS which exists in name only, the Australian military announced that they would dispatch their troops to the aggressive nuclear exercises of the U.S.,” the statement said.

“This is a suicidal act of inviting disaster as it is an illustration of political immaturity unaware of the seriousness of the current situation.”

According to a report in The Diplomat, South Korean officials have said this year’s Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercises will include “a nuclear war game for the first time.”

The exercises may feature simulated use of “counter-weapons-of-mass-destructions (CWMD) operations and sustaining allied maneuvers in the aftermath of a North Korean nuclear attack against core U.S.-South Korea command-and-control nodes”, The Diplomat reported.

Some 50,000 South Korean troops and around 17,500 US military personnel will take part in the exercise, which also involves vast numbers of South Korean government officials.

In response, Turnbull issued a statement saying North Korea had shown no regard for the welfare of its people and no regard for international law.

“We call on all countries to redouble their efforts, including through implementation of agreed UN Security Council resolutions, to bring North Korea to its senses and end its reckless and dangerous threats to the peace of our region and the world.”

The North Korean statement said that “Australia followed the U.S. to the Korean War, the Vietnamese War and the “war on terrorism”, but heavy loss of lives and assets were all that it got in return.”

It added: “The Australian government had better devote time and energy to maintaining peace of its own country, instead of forgetting the lessons learned in the past and joining the U.S. in the moves for nuclear war. Countries like Australia that join the military adventure against the DPRK, blindly following the U.S., will never avoid the counter-measures of justice by the DPRK.”

August 23, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Lessons from Trump’s war of words with Kim Jong Un.

 August 21 “…… some of the most basic tenets of international nuclear signaling were scorched by President Trump’s threats of “fire and fury” toward North Korea. Here are five lessons from his war of words with Kim Jong Un.

1. Trump ignored nuclear policy and strategy

In his “fire and fury” comments, Trump gave a warning to North Korea that had no historical precedent and was a consummate “commitment trap”: a scenario in which a leader stakes his credibility on a promise that leaves him with two bad options. He seemingly threatened a first nuclear strike as the response to any threats from Pyongyang.

From a policy perspective, this was stunning. Even at the height of the Cold War, U.S. leaders did not threaten nuclear use in response to mere threats. From a strategy perspective, Trump’s construct was foolish. It left him with the unhappy choice between backing down when North Korea next provoked or following through and launching a catastrophic conflict.

2. The Trump administration does not have a unitary nuclear declaratory policy

Trump’s secretaries of state and defense attempted to reshape his statements, but the president simply doubled down with another apocalyptic tirade. Four days later, Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis again offered sound policy in print, but this cycle of presidential bombast and Cabinet mollification carves a credibility chasm……..

3. Trump wasn’t just talking to allies and adversaries

We often think of American nuclear signaling as directed toward two primary audiences: the adversary the United States seeks to deter and the allies it seeks to assure. But Trump’s nuclear bombast may have had two other audiences that ranked ahead of these.

The first audience was Trump’s domestic base, his hardcore supporters. …….The second audience was China, which Trump has long believed would “fix” the North Korea problem for the United States…….

4. Trump played the mad man, while North Korea and China played it cool

One might argue that Trump’s nuclear threats were his version of a “madman” strategy — he cowed his adversaries into submission with punishing words, even though there was little chance he would really act as he says. In response, we would generally expect an adversary to either escalate in brinkmanship or back down.

North Korea and China did neither…….

5. There may be lasting damage to U.S. alliances in Asia

Trump has not disguised his disdain for America’s alliances and has previously rattled Seoul by maligning important trade and missile defense deals. With his nuclear threats, however, he has done more serious damage to the U.S.-South Korea alliance.

The South Korean public’s confidence in the United States has plummeted under Trump. …….

A week on the rhetorical brink leads to a final, startling question: When the United States declares its nuclear intentions, who should be believed? The president or his defense team? Allies, adversaries and Trump’s domestic audience have no easy task as they strain to hear the signal in the fire and fury. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/08/21/here-are-5-takeaways-from-trumps-startling-nuclear-threats-against-north-korea/?utm_term=.c20d8f66be1a

Mira Rapp-Hooper is a senior research scholar at the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School and an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

August 23, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

USA persists with war drills with South Korea

US refuses to pause drills despite North’s vow of ‘merciless retaliation’ http://www.todayonline.com/world/asia/us-refuses-pause-drills-despite-norths-vow-merciless-retaliation AUGUST 23, 2017, SEOUL — As North Korea vowed “merciless retaliation” against United States-South Korean military drills it claims are an invasion rehearsal, senior US military commanders yesterday dismissed calls to pause or downsize the exercises they said were crucial to countering a clear threat from Pyongyang.

The heated North Korean rhetoric, along with occasional weapons tests, is standard fare during the spring and summer war games by allies Seoul and Washington.

 USA persists with But uneasy ties between the Koreas are worse than normal this year following weeks of tit-for-tat threats between US President Donald Trump and Pyongyang in the wake of the North’s two intercontinental ballistic missile tests last month.

There have been calls in both the US and South Korea to postpone or modify the drills in an attempt to ease hostility on the Korean peninsula following North Korea’s threat to fire missiles toward the US territory of Guam.

But a visiting group of senior US military commanders, including Admiral Harry Harris, the commander of US forces in the Pacific, said the drills are critical for the allies to maintain readiness against an aggressive North Korea.

“A strong diplomatic effort backed by a strong military effort is key because credible combat power should be in support of diplomacy and not the other way around,” Adm Harris said during a news conference at South Korea’s Osan Air Base.

General Vincent Brooks, commander of US Forces Korea, said the allies should continue the war games until they “have reason not to”. He added: “That reason has not yet emerged.”

The North Korean military said in a statement that it will launch an unspecified “merciless retaliation and unsparing punishment” on the US over the Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills that began on Monday for an 11-day run.

Despite the threat, an unprovoked direct attack is unlikely because the US vastly outguns Pyongyang, which values the continuation of its dictatorship above all else. The impoverished North hates the drills in part because they force it to respond with expensive military measures of its own.

The North Korean statement accused the US of deploying unspecified “lethal” weapons for the drills that it says involve a “beheading operation” training aimed at removing absolute ruler Kim Jong-un.

“No one can vouch that these huge forces concentrated in South Korea will not go over to an actual war action now that the military tensions have reached an extreme pitch in the Korean Peninsula,” the statement said.

“Moreover, high-ranking bosses of the US imperialist aggressor forces flew into South Korea to hold a war confab. Such huddle is increasing the gravity of the situation.” Adm Harris said yesterday it was more important to use diplomacy to counter North Korea’s missile threat rather than consider what actions by the reclusive nation might trigger a preemptive strike. “So we hope and we work for diplomatic solutions to the challenge presented by Kim Jong-un,” Adm Harris said.

When asked what actions by North Korea might trigger a preemptive US strike against Pyongyang, he added: “As far as a timeline, it would be crazy for me to share with you those tripwires in advance. If we did that, it would hardly be a military strategy.”

The Ulchi drills are largely computer-simulated war games held every summer, and this year’s exercise involves 17,500 American troops and 50,000 South Korean soldiers.

No field training like live-fire exercises or tank manoeuvring is involved in the Ulchi drills, in which alliance officers sit at computers to practise how they would engage in battles and hone their decision-making capabilities. The allies have said the drills are defensive in nature. AGENCIES

August 23, 2017 Posted by | South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump administration announced new sanctions against China and Russia

U.S. Imposes Sanctions on China and Russia Over North Korea’s Nuclear Program, NYT, AUG. 22, 2017WASHINGTON — The Trump administration announced new sanctions against China and Russia on Tuesday as part of its campaign to pressure North Korea to stop its development of nuclear weapons and missiles.

August 23, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment