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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Trump says that Kim Jong Un ‘is a problem that needs to be finally solved’,sends Cruise missile-carrying nuclear submarine to South Korea

Trump sends Cruise missile-carrying nuclear submarine to South Korean port as he warns Kim Jong Un ‘is a problem that needs to be finally solved’

  • The USS Michigan arrived on Monday ahead of a possible Tuesday nuke trial
  • Tuesday is the 85th anniversary of the start of the North’s Korean People’s Army
  • The US, Japan and South Korea are meeting in Tokyo to discuss North Korea
  • Trump has also invited the entire Senate to the White House on Wednesday
  • And the UN Security Council on North Korea will also meet on Friday
  • Japan and China are to meet too; China is an unhappy ally of the hermit state 
  • North Korea has refused to stop its nuclear tests and is threatening more trials 
  • The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group is also heading to the peninsula

The port call in Busan by the USS Michigan came as an American aircraft carrier strike group continued steaming towards Korean waters.

And as tensions in the area continued to rise, the top nuclear envoys from South Korea, Japan, and the US met in Tokyo to discuss North Korea’s refusal to give up its nuclear program.

On Monday, US President Donald Trump called for tougher new UN sanctions on Pyongyang, saying the North was a global threat and ‘a problem that we have to finally solve’.

The USS Michigan’s armament comprises four torpedo tubes and 154 BGM-109 Tomahawks. It was modified to remove its nuclear armaments in the mid-2000s.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshide Suga, told a media briefing that China’s nuclear envoy, Wu Dawei, would also hold talks with Japanese Foreign Ministry officials on Tuesday.

A ministry source said Wu was likely to meet his Japanese nuclear counterpart on Wednesday.

Matching the flurry of activity in North Asia, the State Department in Washington said on Monday US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would chair a special ministerial meeting of the UN Security Council on North Korea on Friday.

Tillerson, along with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Joint Chiefs chairman General Joseph Dunford, would also hold a rare briefing for the entire US Senate on North Korea on Wednesday, Senate aides said……..

Two Japanese destroyers conducted exercises on Monday with the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group that is headed for waters off the Korean peninsula, sent by Trump as a warning to the North.

The South Korean military is also planning to conduct joint drills with the carrier group.

As those drills continued, the USS Michigan arrived in the South Korean port of Busan on Tuesday, the US Navy said. The nuclear-powered submarine is built to carry and launch ballistic missiles and Tomahawk cruise missiles.

As well as his military show of force, Trump has also sought to pressure China to do more to rein in its nuclear-armed neighbor.

China, North Korea’s sole major ally, has in turn been angered by Pyongyang’s belligerence, as well as its nuclear and missile programs.

Regardless, North Korea has carried out nuclear and missile tests in defiance of successive rounds of United Nations sanctions………http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4442190/U-S-submarine-makes-S-Korea-port-call-North-remains-defiant.html

April 26, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

China’s strong warning to North Korea against another nuclear weapons test

China warns North Korea another nuclear weapons test would take relations beyond ‘point of no return’
Warning comes amid fears of new launch to mark anniversary of Pyongyang’s military,
Independent, Lizzie Dearden  @lizziedearden , 25 Apr 17North Korea has been warned not to go past the “point of no return” with another nuclear test by China, as the US and South Korea carry out high-profile military exercises.

An editorial in the Global Times, regarded as a mouthpiece for the ruling Communist Party, said Beijing was hoping for a peaceful outcome but had “very limited influence on the entire situation”.

“The game of chicken between Washington and Pyongyang has come to a breaking point,” it added, saying that if North Korea followed through on vows to carry out a sixth nuclear test, “it is more likely than ever that the situation will cross the point of no return.“All stakeholders will bear the consequences, with Pyongyang sure to suffer the greatest losses.”

The warning followed a conversation between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump, who has put pressure on China to “properly deal” with its ally’s continued violations of UN sanctions.

“China is very much the economic lifeline to North Korea so, while nothing is easy, if they want to solve the North Korean problem, they will,” the US President tweeted on Saturday.

As North Korea’s chief source of trade, food and fuel aid, Beijing has come under increasing pressure to use its influence to dissuade Kim Jong-un from continuing weapons development that has generated international alarm.

But the Chinese government is wary of any measures that could threaten the North Korean regime’s existence, and provoke a potential nuclear war or a new government in Pyongyang beholden to Washington and Seoul.
A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, Lu Kang, said diplomatic channels remained “smooth [with] normal exchanges” on Tuesday, amid fears of a new test to coincide with the 85th anniversary of the Korean People’s Army.He urged all sides to exercise restraint and refrain from any actions that could push tensions even higher. “The current situation on the Korean Peninsula is complicated and sensitive and the tension is high,” he added.

“We urge all sides concerned to keep restrained and calm and refrain from taking actions that could escalate tensions.”

Two American destroyers are conducting joint maritime exercises with ships from the Japanese and South Korean navies, which were to continue on Wednesday in waters both sides of the Korean Peninsula…….. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/china-north-korea-nuclear-weapons-test-point-no-return-state-media-newspaper-us-south-korea-military-a7701161.html

 

April 26, 2017 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Why so little public protest on the current threats of nuclear war?

So why is there so little public protest today?………

It would be a terrible thing if it takes a disastrous nuclear war between the United States and North Korea to convince people that nuclear war is simply unacceptable.


Why Is There So Little Popular Protest Against Today’s Threats of Nuclear War?
Common Dreams, Lawrence Wittner, 26 Apr 17,  In recent weeks, the people of the world have been treated to yet another display of the kind of nuclear insanity that has broken out periodically ever since 1945 and the dawn of the nuclear era.

On April 11, Donald Trump, irked by North Korea’s continued tests of nuclear weapons and missiles, tweeted that “North Korea is looking for trouble.” If China does not “help,” then “we will solve the problem without them.” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un responded by announcing that, in the event of a U.S. military attack, his country would not scruple at launching a nuclear strike at U.S. forces. In turn, Trump declared: “We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. We have the best military people on earth.”

During the following days, the governments of both nuclear-armed nations escalated their threats. Dispatched to South Korea, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence declared that “the era of strategic patience is over,” and warned: “All options are on the table.” Not to be outdone, North Korea’s deputy representative to the United Nations told a press conference that “thermonuclear war may break out at any moment.” Any missile or nuclear strike by the United States would be responded to “in kind.” Several days later, the North Korean government warned of a “super-mighty preemptive strike” that would reduce U.S. military forces in South Korea and on the U.S. mainland “to ashes.” The United States and its allies, said the official statement, “should not mess with us.”

Curiously, this North Korean statement echoed the Trump promise during his presidential campaign that he would build a U.S. military machine “so big, powerful, and strong that no one will mess with us.” The fact that both Trump and Kim are being “messed with” despite their possession of very powerful armed forces, including nuclear weapons, seems to have eluded both men, who continue their deadly game of nuclear threat and bluster.

And what is the response of the public to these two erratic government leaders behaving in this reckless fashion and threatening war, including nuclear war? It is remarkably subdued. People read about the situation in newspapers or watch it on the television news, while comedians joke about the madness of it all. Oh, yes, peace and disarmament organizations condemn the escalating military confrontation and outline reasonable diplomatic alternatives. But such organizations are unable to mobilize the vast numbers of people around the world necessary to shake some sense into these overwrought government officials.

The situation was very different in the 1980s, when organizations like the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign (in the United States), the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (in Britain), and similar groups around the world were able to engage millions of people in protest against the nuclear recklessness of the U.S. and Soviet governments―protest that played a key role in curbing the nuclear arms race and preventing nuclear war.

So why is there so little public protest today?………

It would be a terrible thing if it takes a disastrous nuclear war between the United States and North Korea to convince people that nuclear war is simply unacceptable. The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki should already have convinced us of that.https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/04/23/why-there-so-little-popular-protest-against-todays-threats-nuclear-war

 

April 26, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Theresa May would be willing to fire a pre-emptive nuclear strike

Theresa May would fire UK’s nuclear weapons as a ‘first strike’, says Defence Secretary Michael Fallon
‘We have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use 
of nuclear weapons as a first strike’ Independent,  Rob Merrick Deputy Political Editor @Rob_Merrick , 24 Apr 17,
Theresa May would fire Britain’s nuclear weapons as a ‘first strike’ if necessary, the Defence Secretary has said.

Michael Fallon said the Prime Minister was prepared to launch Trident in “the most extreme circumstances”, even if Britain itself was not under nuclear attack.

The statement came as the Conservatives continued to exploit Labour divisions on the retention of the Trident deterrent, to warn of the“very dangerous chaos” if Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister……..

“In the most extreme circumstances, we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike,” Mr Fallon said.

Asked in what circumstances, he replied: “They are better not specified or described, which would only give comfort to our enemies and make the deterrent less credible.

“The whole point about the deterrent is that you have got to leave uncertainty in the mind of anyone who might be thinking of using weapons against this country.”

Mr Fallon also insisted that critics of Trident – including senior military figures who have ridiculed the idea that it is an effective deterrent – were “absolutely wrong”……..

“The Labour party is very clear we are committed to a credible nuclear credibility at the minimum end of the scale. That is Labour party policy and it will be in the manifesto,” Mr Gwynne said.

But he appeared to rule out a first strike, adding: “We would not be in a position where the first choice would be to press that red button. It is a deterrent because we have them.

“We believe in multilateralism, we believe in negotiating away our nuclear weapons system to create a nuclear weapon free world.”…….http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/theresa-may-nuclear-weapons-first-strike-michael-fallon-general-election-jeremy-corbyn-trident-a7698621.html

April 26, 2017 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russian warning: Britain would be ‘razed to the ground’if it launched a nuclear attack

Britain would be ‘literally erased from the face of the earth’ if it launched a nuclear attack, warns Russian MP  Another translation says Britain would be ‘razed to the ground’ in a retaliatory strike, Independent, Samuel Osborne @SamuelOsborne93, 24 Apr 17, Britain would be “literally erased from the face of the earth” in a nuclear war, a Russian MP has warned.

Franz Klintsevich, a retired colonel, was responding to comments from Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, who said “in the most extreme circumstances, we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike.”

Mr Klintsevich said if Britain were to launch a preemptive strike, then “not having the biggest territory, it will literally be erased from the face of the earth.”  Another translation, carried by the Russian news agency TASS, says Britain would be “razed to the ground” in a retaliatory strike.

Sir Michael’s comments came in response to Labour divisions over retaining the Trident deterrent, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn suggesting renewal might not be in the party’s election manifesto — only to be corrected later by party colleagues.

Speaking to BBC Radio Four’s Today Programme, Sir Michael said Labour had left voters “completely unsure as to what would actually happen to our nuclear deterrent.”

He said Prime Minster Theresa May would be ready to use Trident as a “pre-emptive initial strike”…….
Mr Klintsevich, who is deputy chairman of the upper house of the Russian parliament’s defence and security committee, called Sir Michael’s comments “disgusting” and said it “deserves a tough response”. He added: “In the best case this statement should be taken as an element of psychological war — which looks particularly disgusting in such a context.

“Otherwise, it sounds really bad, because a reasonable question arises: Against whom is Great Britain going to preemptively use nuclear weapons?”

If Britain intended to use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state, he added, “then probably English people desperately want to share the laurels of the USA who threw nuclear bombs at defenceless [Japanese cities] Hiroshima and Nagasaki [in 1945].”

“But those times have gone for good, as has the era of the greatness of the British Empire.” http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/uk-nuclear-war-russia-warn-senator-frants-klintsevich-erased-face-earth-razed-ground-us-cold-war-a7701411.html

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Russia, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Japanese buying nuclear shelters and radiation-blocking air purifiers, in fear of nuclear attack

Report: Japanese seeking out nuclear shelters, air purifiers over North Korean threat https://www.aol.com/article/news/2017/04/24/japanese-seeking-nuclear-shelters-air-purifiers-north-korea-threat/22053701  As North Korea ratchets up international tensions with missile tests and aggressive rhetoric, some residents of a neighboring country are reportedly taking actions to protect themselves in advance.

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Japan, safety, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Just 10 minutes to prepare for a North Korean nuclear attack, Japan’s government says

Japanese citizens have 10 minutes to prepare for a North Korean nuclear attack, Missile ‘will not take long to reach Japan,’ says government, The Independent, Harriet Agerholm  @HarrietAgerholm 25 Apr 17, Japanese citizens will have just 10 minutes to prepare a North Korean ballistic missile attack, authorities in the country have warned.

In the event of an attack, a document posted on the country’s civil protection site advises people to find the strongest concrete building possible or go underground.

Then they should then take cover under tables and stay away from windows, it says.  A ballistic missile would likely take around 10 minutes to travel 1,600 km (1,000 miles) from its launch pad in North Korea to Okinawa, it adds, citing a launch in February last year which took that length of time to fly over the Japanese island.

The warning comes as tensions ratcheted up between North Korea, its Asian neighbours and the US. ​The secretive communist state test-fired four ballistic missiles last month, three of which landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan, just off the coast of the country.

It has subsequently emerged that the country’s civil defence website had 5.7 million visitors in the first 23 days of April — more than 14 times the usual monthly traffic.

Japan’s early-warning system, which issues missile strike alerts to the population via loudspeaker and telephone has come under increased scrutiny amid the rising tensions.

In 1998, North Korea demonstrated that its missiles were capable of reaching Japan when it fired a missile to launch a satellite across Japanese territory that landed in its economic zone on the Pacific Ocean side.

Japan’s government has been briefing local authorities on what they should do if a missile lands in their area and urging them to hold evacuation drills. Sales of nuclear shelters and radiation-blocking air purifiers have also surged in recent weeks. ……..http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/japan-north-korea-nuclear-attack-10-minutes-prepare-missile-tests-warheads-kim-jong-un-a7700971.html

April 26, 2017 Posted by | Japan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea says America is preparing for war: highlights 1250 US marines to Darwin, Australia

North Korea highlights 1250 US marines in Darwin to claim America is preparing for nuclear war, SMH, Kirsty Needham and James Massola,  25 Apr 17, North Korea’s state newspaper has singled out the United States’ deployment of 1250 marines to Darwin to claim America is preparing for nuclear war.

And as regional tensions escalate and a US carrier strike group approaches the Korean peninsula, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the secretive regime “must be stopped” as it represented a threat to the region and, potentially, globally.

In a phone call with US president Donald Trump, Chinese president Xi Jinping said China opposed any actions that went against UN security council resolutions, as Japan confirmed it was joining drills with the strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson that is headed to Korean waters.

Pusan National University associate professor Robert Kelly told Fairfax Media North Korea’s missiles might have the range to reach northern Australia, but played down the threat as “the question is guidance, not range”.

Rodong Sinmun, the official paper of the Worker’s Party of North Korea, highlighted the US marines’ arrival in northern Australia on April 18. The marines will be joined by 12 military helicopters including five Cobra helicopters and four Osprey carriers.

“This is the largest scale US military presence in Australia after World War 2,” the newspaper reported on Monday. “America is fanatically, crazily trying to optimise its nuclear war readiness,” it claimed.

The story, on page six of the North Korean newspaper, was headlined: America prepares for nuclear war in different overseas military deployments. Darwin was the only city named…….

Australia-based defence experts believe it is unlikely North Korea has the capacity to strike Australia yet, though they may do within the next three years. The nation’s most recent missile test, earlier this month, failed just seconds after launch…….

The deployment of 1250 marines is the largest to Darwin since the former prime minister Julia Gillard and former president Barack Obama struck a deal back in 2011 to undertake the yearly rotation of troops.

with Sanghee Liu, AAP http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/north-korea-highlights-1250-us-marines-in-darwin-to-claim-america-is-preparing-for-nuclear-war-20170424-gvrbzl.html

April 26, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Australia’s prime targets for a nuclear attack

Pine Gap is more than a giant electronic vacuum cleaner. The facility is also involved in tactical warfare, through programs like “The Red Dot Express”

More controversial is Pine Gap’s role in drone strikes.

Instead of trying to pump up hysteria over a non-existent North Korean missile strike, The Turnbull Government should take a hard look at the very real threat that Pine Gap and Northwest Cape pose to Australia.

 


Pine Gap is still there — bigger and badder than ever,
Independent Australia Norm Sanders 25 April 2017 With Donald Trump putting a blowtorch to the Cold War, it is time to take another look at all the U.S. bases in Australia, including Pine Gap, writes Dr Norm Sanders

PINE GAP, Northwest Cape and Nurrungar were the focus of the Australian Peace Movement in the 1980’s. Then the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Doomsday Clock crept slowly away from midnight and the removal of the bases didn’t seem so urgent. The clamour to close the bases died down………

I actually knew quite a bit about what Pine Gap was up to at the time, but it was child’s play compared to what they are doing at present. A simple place to start is Pine Gap’s assumption of the function of Nurrungar in 1999. Nurrungar was located at Island Lagoon, Woomera and was crucial to America’s defenses during the Cold War. Nurrungar furnished “Launch on Warning” surveillance of ICBM or other rocket launches anywhere on the globe. Analysts regarded it as one of the USSR’s top ten targets.

Now, Pine Gap has probably surpassed Nurrungar in the rankings. It is one of the largest satellite ground stations in the world, with over 33 satellite antennas. Pine Gap houses a number of U.S. Government agencies, such as the National Reconnaissance Office (spy satellites,) the National Security Agency, the CIA, and the Geospatial-intelligence Agency. In addition, all branches of the U.S. Military are represented.

Pine Gap is a major element of ECHELON, a signals intelligence collection and analysis network. Echelon can eavesdrop on faxes, computers and telephones, and can even scan bank accounts. It can actually pick up enemy combat forces talking to each other in the field. The U.S. Government says Echelon doesn’t exist and never did. In fact, it may have now merged with XKeyscore, another system at Pine Gap. It is run by the National Security Agency and shares data with the Australian Signals Directorate.

XKeyscore was exposed by Edward Snowden in 2013.

In an interview with a German TV station in 2014, Snowden answered the question of what he could do with XKeyscore by saying:

You could read anyone’s email in the world, anybody you’ve got an email address for. Any website: You can watch traffic to and from it. Any computer that an individual sits at: You can watch it. Any laptop that you’re tracking: you can follow it as it moves from place to place throughout the world. It’s a one-stop-shop for access to the NSA’s information.

…You can tag individuals… Let’s say you work at a major German corporation and I want access to that network, I can track your username on a website on a form somewhere, I can track your real name, I can track associations with your friends and I can build what’s called a fingerprint, which is network activity unique to you, which means anywhere you go in the world, anywhere you try to sort of hide your online presence, your identity.

No wonder Snowden has to stay in Russia!

But Pine Gap is more than a giant electronic vacuum cleaner. The facility is also involved in tactical warfare, through programs like “The Red Dot Express”.

Red Dot uses a plethora of imaging techniques, signal intercepts and other sources to identify IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices) by their electronic emissions. All this data passes through Pine Gap, gets analysed and, ultimately, is displayed as a red dot on a Humvee computer as a warning that there is a possible IED just ahead on an Afghan road.

More controversial is Pine Gap’s role in drone strikes. This prompted the late Des Ball, a leading ANU intelligence expert, to criticise the Pine Gap facility which he formerly supported.

On the 7:30 Report, broadcast 13/08/2014, he said:

“I’ve reached the point now where I can no longer stand up and provide the verbal, conceptual justification for the facility that I was able to do in the past. We’re now linked in to this global network where intelligence and operations have become essentially fused and Pine Gap is a key node in that whole network, that war machine, if you want to use that term, which is doing things which are very, very difficult, I think, as an Australian, to justify.”………

Pine Gap is still there.

So is Northwest Cape. The facility is officially known as “Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt”. There is a certain irony in the name because rumours circulated at the time of Holt’s death that he was assassinated by the CIA as he was intending to pull Australia out of the Vietnam War.

The base is six kilometres north of the town of Exmouth, Western Australia. Exmouth itself was built to support the base and be a home to dependent families of the U.S. Navy personnel.

The station is a key link in the communication capability with U.S. Navy and Australian ships in a vast area of the Western Pacific and Eastern Indian Ocean. It transmits on VLF (very low frequency,) at 19.8 kHz with a power of 1 million watts, which makes it the most powerful transmitter in the Southern Hemisphere. For comparison, commercial TV transmitters have about 1⁄10 the power.

The powerful transmitter has been linked to two incidents in which Qantas airliners had equipment failures while flying in the area. Qantas Flight 72 had to make an emergency landing at Learmouth, near Exmouth, after uncontrolled pitch-downs which caused fractures, lacerations and spinal injuries to passengers and crew.

In order to transmit this massive power, Northwest Cape has a huge spiderweb array of antennas supported by 13 towers, each almost 400 meters high. Buried underneath the antenna is 386 kilometres of bare copper mat as a ground plane.

The combination of the very low fequency and immense power means that Northwest Cape can communicate with nuclear armed submarines while they are submerged to at least 20 meters to avoid detection. The orders to launch nuclear missiles in time of war in the region would be sent through the base. It is this function which makes Northwest Cape an obvious prime nuclear target.

Instead of trying to pump up hysteria over a non-existent North Korean missile strike, The Turnbull Government should take a hard look at the very real threat that Pine Gap and Northwest Cape pose to Australia. https://independentaustralia.net/article-display/pine-gap-is-still-there–bigger-and-badder-than-ever,10231#.WP92gQsXvE0.twitter

April 26, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Least awful course of action – learn to live with North Korea’s nukes

The cold hard reality is there is no viable military option against North Korea. They have nuclear weapons, which they can respond with. They have formidable conventional artillery, which they can use to hit Seoul. A preventive strike may provoke the very action it is designed to prevent. As Bismarck warned, it is like committing suicide from fear of death.

A political settlement with Pyongyang is probably not plausible, so America and its allies have no choice but to contain North Korea as best we can. Deterrence and diplomacy have risks, to be sure, but the risks seem far lower than those involved in attacking or further isolating North Korea.


Of course North Korea wants nukes. We should learn to live with it
Deterrence and diplomacy carry risks, but attacking or further isolating North Korea could be worse.
The Age , Tom Switzer, 23 Apr 17, “……I listen to the debates about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Once again, we are told that a rogue state is bent on developing nuclear weapons that threaten world peace and that either a preventive strike or regime change, or both, will disarm this strategic and moral threat.

But remember the realists were right about Iraq. Leave aside that Saddam’s regime did not even possess serious weapons of mass destruction capacity. Regime change was always fraught with the danger of unintended consequences. Iran and its Shiite militias acquired new influence within Iraq and the broader region while parts of Iraq fell into the hands of Sunni jihadists, who were even more fanatical than al-Qaeda.

Although anguish over a nuclear North Korea is understandable, it’s a fair bet the realists are also right today.

We are told Kim Jong-un is really a madman because he really has nuclear weapons. But although he is a nasty piece of work, the North Korean despot is not crazy. His primary goal is survival: the end of his regime means the end of Kim. From his perspective, it makes sense to develop nuclear weapons.

Why? Because nukes are the ultimate deterrent. North Korea is a minor power surrounded by three major powers – China, Japan, Russia – and with an outside power – the US – constantly threatening it with regime change. As Professor John Mearsheimer, the doyen of foreign-policy realism, told me recently, when Washington strikes Bashar al-Assad’s Syria, or helps topple Saddam’s Iraq or Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya, it gives Pyongyang a very powerful incentive to keep its nuclear weapons.

We are told that Beijing must force North Korea into giving up its nukes or at least not develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that can hit California and Darwin. Chinese co-operation would be ideal and Beijing’s leaders, as Malcolm Turnbull reiterated at the weekend, have some leverage with their communist comrade.

But China also needs North Korea for geopolitical reasons. It is a vital strategic asset. Remember that China entered the Korean War in late 1950 when the Americans crossed the 38th Parallel.

From Beijing’s standpoint, the collapse of North Korea would create a refugee crisis and mean a reunified Korea under a US nuclear security umbrella. If you think Russia is overly sensitive about Ukraine being a western bulwark on its doorstep, imagine how China would respond to a western bulwark on its doorstep. As unfashionable as it is to say, great powers still have spheres of influence.

We are told that regime change is an option in dealing with the North Korean menace. But if there is any hope of discouraging Pyongyang from using nuclear weapons, the West will need to stop threatening regime change and try to reach an accommodation with the Hermit Kingdom. The only way North Korea will jettison its nukes is if it feels relatively secure and has the sense that relations with the West are improving.

Alas, Donald Trump sounds tougher with Pyongyang than even Bush and Barack Obama. At the weekend, Vice-President Mike Pence told the Prime Minister the US will not relent until the Korean peninsula is free of nuclear weapons. That could box in Trump, limit his options, and force him on a path that could push him into a preventive war.

The cold hard reality is there is no viable military option against North Korea. They have nuclear weapons, which they can respond with. They have formidable conventional artillery, which they can use to hit Seoul. A preventive strike may provoke the very action it is designed to prevent. As Bismarck warned, it is like committing suicide from fear of death.

A political settlement with Pyongyang is probably not plausible, so America and its allies have no choice but to contain North Korea as best we can. Deterrence and diplomacy have risks, to be sure, but the risks seem far lower than those involved in attacking or further isolating North Korea. Just think of Iraq.

Tom Switzer is a Fairfax Media columnist and a presenter on the ABC’s Radio National. http://www.theage.com.au/comment/of-course-north-korea-wants-nukes-we-should-learn-to-live-with-it-20170423-gvqkbs.html

April 24, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The multi-million death toll that would result from a pre-emptive strike on North Korea

But besides demanding North Korea give up its only trump card — no pun intended — some are pushing the administration to go even further: to consider launching a preemptive strike on Pyongyang.

What happens next is one of the worst military and human tragedies in history: Kim orders a nuclear strike on Seoul. While the missile lands four miles outside of the city thanks to a targeting error, millions of people are instantly killed with millions more poisoned by radioactive fallout. In a sheer panic, the millions of people who survive the attack rush south, creating a massive humanitarian crisis of the worst magnitude.

From here, things get even worse……the price of such a victory could be millions of people dead and large sections of Korea rendered uninhabitable for decades, if not longer.

No one wants to talk to the dictator of a nation with over 200,000 people or more in prison camps — but an attack that could lead to a conflict where millions could die in a nuclear war is far worse. The stakes are too great to at least not consider it.

How a preemptive strike on North Korea could end up killing millions http://theweek.com/articles/692872/how-preemptive-strike-north-korea-could-end-killing-millions   Harry J. Kazianis 21 Apr 17 While North Korea might not have tested another nuclear weapon in recent days, tensions in Asia keep rising — and Washington is at least partially to blame.

First, it seems the Trump administration is ready to take the toughest of lines when it comes to dealing with the Hermit Kingdom. In an interview with The Washington Post‘s Josh Rogin, Vice President Pence declared that North Korea must give up its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for nothing, not even talks.

As the piece points out, it is tough to tell at this point if this was just rhetoric, maybe a trial balloon of sorts, or a new Trump administration policy. The vice president, however, seemed clear: “I think the path of negotiations with North Korea has been a colossal failure now for more than 25 years.”

But besides demanding North Korea give up its only trump card — no pun intended — some are pushing the administration to go even further: to consider launching a preemptive strike on Pyongyang.

In an interview on the Today show, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) explained that if China would not stop North Korea from building a missile that can hit the U.S. homeland, Washington should use diplomacy, sanctions, and possibly “a military strike to stop their program.”

On the surface, both comments in isolation might not draw oodles of attention. But taken together with the facts that Washington will not negotiate with North Korea and that the Hermit Kingdom already has, according to most estimates, 10-20 nuclear weapons, the comments are nothing short of apocalyptic.

 In order to appreciate the ramifications of such a policy, let’s game out what such ideas would look like in practice. Let us assume in the near future that Washington decides to push China hard into somehow “solving” the North Korea issue. Beijing, for its part, does cut back some food and fuel aid and does, to its credit, end all direct and indirect aid to Pyongyang’s various military programs. North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs continue to advance, but instead of racing towards a missile that can nuke America, the program is slowed dramatically.

The Trump administration is not satisfied. It threatens China, declaring that it must do more. But Beijing does not want to precipitate the possible downfall of the Kim dynasty. They fear Washington’s wrath, but they’re much more worried about millions of hungry North Koreans trying to seek refuge in China as well as potentially loose nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Combined with Beijing’s other great concern — that Seoul would eventually unite the Korean peninsula under its control and continue its military alliance with the U.S. — China decides to take its chances with America.

Washington is now faced with a dilemma. They have made substantial progress on curtailing the speed in which Pyongyang can pair a nuclear warhead with a long-range missile — but the threat does remain. So the Trump administration leaks to the press that it is considering military action, and begins to move its best military assets into the region — and this time it’s for real. President Trump orders B-2 bombers at the ready, with the ability to evade radar and drop large, bunker-buster bombs on North Korean nuclear facilities.

But North Korea is not to be deterred. It declares to the world that if the Trump administration decides to attack, Pyongyang will unload its full arsenal on South Korea and Japan. And considering North Korea’s large military — thousands of artillery pieces, rocket launchers, 4,300 tanks, 1.1 million men under arms, 200,00 special forces, and a dangerous offensive cyber warfare capability — it is a threat that can’t exactly be taken lightly

But Trump presses ahead. After moving three aircraft carrier battlegroups into the region and sending additional bombers and fighters to South Korea, Japan, and Guam, the administration warns North Korea that “it must decide whether it wants peace or war” and that “the Kim regime clearly can see that now we truly have all options on the table.” Trump then goes on Twitter, declaring, “I hope Kim makes the right choice!”

Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s third dynastic dictator, decides not to budge. He knows that if he gives up his nukes he has no leverage with America. And even worse, North Korea’s political elites will see him as weak — and regime change could occur from within. He makes the only choice he can, and hopes Trump is bluffing.

Unfortunately for Kim, and Asia, war is now inevitable.

Trump orders a massive assault on North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs. The goal is simple: Destroy not only Pyongyang’s ability to create nuclear weapons and advanced missiles, but the current stockpiles they have. Washington launches what can only be described as a “shock and awe” campaign on steroids: over 1,000 cruise missiles in the first few hours alone, B-2 bombers flying around the clock from bases in Missouri with stealth F-22 Raptors leading the way.

The assault itself, according to every metric conceivable, is a success. North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs are set back a decade or more with most of Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile launchers destroyed. Republicans and Democrats alike applaud President Trump’s bold actions — acting when leaders of the past decided to do nothing.

There is however a catch to what seems like a resounding military success: The Kim regime’s nuclear deterrent was not completely destroyed. One weapon, buried deep underground, survived the attack. And since North Korea’s chemical and biological weapons were largely hidden underground as well, Kim has a terrible choice to make: Use the weapons he has now, or lose them in a potential second wave of strikes. He decides to use his full arsenal before it’s too late.

What happens next is one of the worst military and human tragedies in history: Kim orders a nuclear strike on Seoul. While the missile lands four miles outside of the city thanks to a targeting error, millions of people are instantly killed with millions more poisoned by radioactive fallout. In a sheer panic, the millions of people who survive the attack rush south, creating a massive humanitarian crisis of the worst magnitude.

From here, things get even worse. Kim launches dozens of chemical and biological weapons at South Korea and Japan. Sarin, VX ,and other toxins are lobbed at Tokyo, Pusan, and other large cities. Millions of people try to flee the impacted areas just as in Seoul — creating a panic not seen since World War II.

In just a few hours, hell is unleashed on the Korean peninsula. And while the United States and its allies would eventually win any war against North Korea, it is clear from the above — far from what could be the most extreme of examples of a Second Korean War — what damage the Kim regime could do in a military confrontation. Indeed, the price of such a victory could be millions of people dead and large sections of Korea rendered uninhabitable for decades, if not longer.

Yet, there is another path forward. It seems due time for President Trump to remember his own words from the campaign when it comes to talking to North Korea — and maybe even to Kim Jong Un directly: “I would speak to him. I would have no problem speaking to him.”

No one wants to talk to the dictator of a nation with over 200,000 people or more in prison camps — but an attack that could lead to a conflict where millions could die in a nuclear war is far worse. The stakes are too great to at least not consider it.

 

April 24, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

If a nuclear bomb hit Coventry, UK ….

What would happen if a nuclear bomb hit Coventry? http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/what-would-happen-nuclear-bomb-12913136 The city centre would be turned into a 300m wide and 200m deep crater, BY JAMES RODGER, 23 Apr 17, Hundreds of thousands of people would be killed if a nuclear blast hit Coventry and Warwickshire.

Imagining the bomb went off at ground level in Broadgate, the city centre would be turned into a 300m wide and 200m deep crater, according to interactive data site Nukemap.

The map below shows the impact of a nuclear explosion in Coventry.

Fireball radius (orange)

Fatal levels of radiation would increase greatly if the nuke exploded at ground level.

The fireball radius (orange) would see the entire city centre including monuments such as the Cathedral, Broadgate and West Orchards Shopping Centre consumed by a nuclear fireball 3.2km wide.

This would stretch as far as the Ricoh Arena at one end, and Finham at the other.

The fatality rate is 100 per cent.

  • Crater inside radius: 150 m (0.07 km²)
  • Crater lip radius: 300 m (0.28 km²)
  • Fireball radius: 0.71 km (1.56 km²)
  • Air blast radius (20 psi): 1.67 km (8.8 km²)
  • Radiation radius (500 rem): 2.26 km (16.1 km²)
  • Air blast radius (5 psi): 3.52 km (39 km²)
  • Thermal radiation radius (3rd degree burns): 8.95 km (251 km²)
  • Radiation radius (green)

    Slightly wider than the fireball radius. Without medical treatment, expect between 50 per cent and 90 per cent mortality from acute effects alone. Dying takes between several hours and several weeks.

    Air blast radius (red – 20psi)

    The most intense air blast would have a radius of 4.75km and demolish heavily built concrete buildings in the University of Warwick campus, Binley Road, and Holbooks, among other areas. The fatality rate is still 100 per cent – or very close.

  • Air blast radius (grey – 5psi)

    A lesser air blast radius would still cause the collapse of all residential buildings within a 10km radius. That means houses would collapse all the way out in Fillongley, Bedworth, Kenilworth and Ryton.Injuries are universal and fatalities widespread.

  • Thermal radiation radius (lighter orange)

    The thermal radiation radius is 29.1km.  This would mean third degree burns “throughout the layers of the skin”, which could cause severe scarring, disablement and even amputation. This radius covers Nuneaton, Hinckley, Sutton Coldfield, parts of Birmingham and Leamington Spa.

  • The city would be dependent on outsiders and national agencies for help after the blast. In the fallout survivors would find dozens of hospitals and medical facilities would have been destroyed. A dozen fire stations would also have been wiped out.At the same moment around 200 schools and hundreds of churches, mosques, gurdwaras and temples could have been levelled or badly damaged.

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Reference, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Satellite images indicate that North Korea has resumed work at its nuclear test site

Volleyball Over, North Koreans Go Back to Work at Nuclear Site, Analysts Say, NYT, APRIL 22, 2017, SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea appears to have resumed work at its nuclear test site after a perplexing series of volleyball matches were held there, according to analysts who studied satellite images of the site, renewing concerns that a major weapons test could be imminent.

Many observers had feared that North Korea would test a nuclear device at the site around April 15, the birthday of Kim Il-sung, the North’s founding president and the grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un. But Mr. Kim’s government celebrated the day instead with a military parade in Pyongyang, the capital, during which a fleet of missiles were rolled out, including what analysts believed were never-before-seen long-range ballistic missiles.

North Korea carried out a missile test on Sunday, but it was considered an embarrassing failure, with the projectile exploding immediately after liftoff.

But North Korea is preparing to celebrate another major holiday this coming week: Tuesday will be the 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army, and the North often uses such occasions to show off its military advances…….

On Friday, the analysts Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Jack Liu posted new satellite images of the nuclear test site in Punggye-ri, in northeastern North Korea, on 38 North, a website affiliated with the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies……

Mr. Bermudez and Mr. Liu said it was unclear whether the latest activity from Punggye-ri reflected a “tactical pause” before a coming nuclear test, a prolonged “stand-down” from testing or normal operations at the site.

“Regardless, satellite imagery continues to indicate that the Punggye-ri nuclear test site appears able to conduct a sixth nuclear test at any time once the order is received from Pyongyang,” they concluded…..

On Saturday in Sydney, Australia, Mr. Pence said that an American naval strike group led by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson was expected to be in the Sea of Japan, which borders the Korean Peninsula, by the end of April.

Senior aides to Mr. Trump have said that military options are not off the table in dealing with North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear and missile technologies. Those remarks prompted fears in the region that the new American president might order a pre-emptive strike at North Korea’s weapons sites, which could set off a war…….https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/22/world/asia/north-korea-nuclear-test-preparations.html?_r=0

April 24, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Homeland Security Secretary says risk of North Korea nuclear missiles to America within 4 years

Kelly: Trump will face nuclear North Korea in this term http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/330107-kelly-trump-will-deal-with-nuclear-north-korea-before-his-second-term  Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday that President Trump will face a nuclear-armed North Korea with missiles that could reach the United States in this term.

“I think Mr. Trump will be dealing with this in real terms before he starts his second term,” Kelly told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Kelly refused to answer host Dana Bash’s question over whether or not the U.S. military could shoot down a missile from North Korea, telling Bash that the information is classified. Kelly did say the United States will be “at grave risk” when a North Korean missile can reach its shores.

“The instant that happens, this country is at grave risk,” said Kelly.

North Korea earlier this month failed to launch a ballistic missile on its east coast. The launch came amidst mounting tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, as the Trump administration continues talks with China over how to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

April 24, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

As world relations worsen, risk of ‘catastrophic’ nuclear accident increases

Risk of ‘catastrophic’ nuclear accident as world relations worsen, UN warns ‘The more arms produced, particularly in countries with unstable societies, the more potential exists for terrorist acquisition and use of nuclear weapons’, The Independent, 21 Apr 17 Will Worley @willrworley There will be “catastrophic” consequences when “luck runs out” on nuclear deterrence, the United Nations (UN) has warned in a major report which highlights the massive risk of an accidental or deliberate use of the world’s most deadly weapons.

The “poor relations” between nuclear powers has contributed to an atmosphere that “lends itself to the onset of crisis,” said the report by the UN Institute for Disarmament Research.

The rise in cyber warfare and hacking has left the technical vulnerabilities of nuclear weapons systems exposed to risk from states and terrorist groups, it added.

“Nuclear deterrence works—up until the time it will prove not to work,” it said. “The risk is inherent and, when luck runs out, the results will be catastrophic.

“The more arms produced, particularly in countries with unstable societies, the more potential exists for terrorist acquisition and use of nuclear weapons.”

It comes as Donald Trump of the US and Vladmir Putin of Russia have both indicated support for expanding their country’s nuclear weapon arsenals.

Deterrence is at the “greatest risk of breaking down” in North Korea and between India and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir, it said ……….

Denuclearisation would require “visionary leadership”, the report said, but added this was “sadly rare” as many powerful states “increasingly turn inward”.

It added that new technology and spending on nuclear weapons had “enhanced” the risk of a detonation. However, it acknowledged the secrecy surrounding the programmes made it difficult to accurately assess their true scope. Increased reliance technology has also introduced new problems, the report said. In the past, accidental nuclear detonations have been averted by a human decision. Replacing military officers with computers could therefore rule out a potential safety check on the weapons, and open the possibility of hacking a nuclear weapon.

The report also referenced the January 2017 decision of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Science to move the publication’s Doomsday Clock two and a half minutes to midnight over nuclear fears – the most risky it had been since 1953. The UN maintained risk was inherent to nuclear weapons and the only way to truly eliminate it was to get rid of the bombs. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/un-nuclear-deterrence-not-work-report-wmds-weapons-mass-destruction-world-north-korea-uk-donald-a7694391.html 

April 22, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment