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Need for America and China to work together on North Korean situation

North Korea: Why America and China need to deal with Kim Jong-un together http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-26/why-america-and-china-need-to-deal-with-kim-jong-un-together/8385362   By North Asia correspondent Matthew Carney, Nearly every week, Kim Jong-un seems to announce a successful test in his nuclear and missile program, edging him ever closer to his aim of striking America with a nuclear warhead.

Taking the North Korean leader out with military action is now being discussed, but that could lead to much bigger problems and plunge the region into years of chaos and instability. Worse still, it could force a confrontation between China and the US.

On the face of it, the North Korean military looks impressive. It has about 1.2 million troops. But the reality is that the weaponry is outdated and obsolete, much of it from the Soviet era. It’s no match for any modern army, so Mr Kim could be removed effectively.

Christopher Hill, probably the most experienced US diplomat in North Korean affairs, says with Mr Kim in power, there is no chance of dialogue. “Frankly, we don’t have a real insight into his thinking — we do know he seems to be totally uninterested in negotiation,” he said.

The real danger, said Mr Hill, is that the Trump administration has little understanding about how to deal with the North Korea threat, and the US State Department is in disarray. “We have a kind of Home Alone situation at the State Department, so we don’t have a lot of people focusing on this issue at this point,” he said.

Military action could prove costly Despite this, while visiting North Asia last week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ruled out negotiation and put military action on the table. It’s action that could prove costly: a humanitarian disaster, with biological and nuclear weapons at play; a contested occupation as China and America battle for control.

Dr Euan Graham from the Lowy Institute says it could prove more destructive and costly than the Iraq war.

“Kicking in the door is the easy part; once you go in and occupy ground, then if that’s contested you can very quickly find even superpowers’ resources can become thinly spread,” he said.

Mr Hill says people like to compare the situation on the Korean Peninsula with the reunification of Germany, but this would actually be much worse. Frankly speaking, the difference between North Korea and East Germany cannot be described,” he said.

“They are just worlds apart in terms of what Germany had to do and what the South Koreans would have to do.”

These immense challenges make policymakers and experts around the world question the value of removing Mr Kim and his nuclear program.

Dr Graham says the US then has a choice: “Is it better to live with this threat and manage it through deterrence and existing sanctions like it did with China and the Soviet Union for decades? Or does it become so unacceptable that it has to accept the high cost of potential economic recession in north-east Asia and military conflict that could take several thousands if not higher numbers of lives?”

China and America are at oddsThe complicating factor is that the powers at play cannot agree on what North Korea should become. They all have competing strategic needs.

China wants a new regime that will serve its interests, and it fears US troops on its border.

Professor Cheng Xiaohe from Beijing Renmin University says China will have to deal with a flood of refugees.

“Millions of North Koreans will seek safe havens in China or across the 38th parallel into the minefields to seek protection in South Korea,” he said.

“Even hundreds of thousands will take to boats to sail boat to other countries to seek refuge.”

It’s doubtful whether America wants to lead another foreign intervention. The Iraq campaign almost bankrupted the country with little to show in return, and it left hundreds of thousands dead.

South Korea too is losing its desire for reunification. It would cost several trillion dollars at least and threaten South Korea’s thriving high tech economy which is 18 times bigger than North Korea’s.

Dr Jiyoung Song from the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs says the younger generation in the South have very little in common with their brethren in the North.

Most South Koreans are definitely worried about the economic side — the unification costs, but also the unemployment and competition for jobs and universities.

The only way forward…Mr Hill, who led the push for a negotiated solution with the six-party talks that ended in 2009 after North Korea withdrew and resumed its nuclear program, says the only way forward is to engage with China and plan how to deal with the regime and the aftermath.

“We have to have an in-depth dive deep with the Chinese to really figure out how together we can deal with that and I think we need to do it and do it a lot more,” he said.

But Mr Hill says both sides have to get over their mutual distrust.

“Many Chinese see the demise of North Korea as a Chinese defeat and a US victory,” he said.”They worry that the US might take advantage of this and put US troops right up on the Chinese border.”

Dr Cheng agrees that China is afraid of being played by the US.

“All countries need to work together to settle their differences and adopt a joint line to build that country for peace and stability and carry out post-reunification works,” he said.

But while experts may agree in a call for global engagement, the Trump administration seems to be turning inwards towards more isolationist policies.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Satellite images show hectic activity at North Korea nuclear site

North Korea nuclear test site witnesses hectic activity, satellite images show http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/north-korea-nuclear-test-site-witnesses-hectic-activity-satellite-images-show-1613722

It is unclear whether the reported presence of vehicles indicates preparation for a potential missile launch. IBT, By , 26 Mar 17, Satellite imagery of a North Korean nuclear test site reportedly reveals hectic activity, sparking fears of a potential missile launch or nuclear test. Images from a commercial satellite of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site in North Korea purportedly show four or five vehicles or trailers present at the entrance of the site where North Korea’s previous four nuclear tests took place.

The activity may indicate that North Korea is gearing up for its sixth nuclear test. Satellite images also indicate that some construction material, presumably sand and aggregate, remains undisturbed at the site, according to a report by US think tank 38 North.

The report stated: “That material, if it is sand and aggregate, when mixed with concrete, may be intended to ‘stem,’ that is to plug segments of the tunnel to prevent a nuclear explosion from escaping into the atmosphere.”

Satellite images also reportedly show that apart from a few mining carts and two trucks at the West Portal, there’s little to no activity at the nuclear site. According to 38 North, this lack of activity may indicate that either “Pyongyang is inthe final stages of test preparation or that the site is in a standard operating mode.”

On Friday (24 March), South Korean officials warned that Pyongyang appeared to be in the last stages of preparing for yet another nuclear test and could carry out detonations within hours of an order issued by leader Kim Jong-un.

Numerous reports surfaced last week about North Korea preparing for yet another potential missile or nuclear test, amid rising tensions with its neighbours and the West.

It remains unclear whether the reported presence of the vehicles at the Punggye-ri nuclear site is indicative of Pyongyang’s willingness to conduct yet another nuclear test.

March 27, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea’s Capability Has Entered A ‘New Phase’ – warns U.N. Nuclear Inspector Yukiya Amano

U.N. Nuclear Inspector: North Korea’s Capability Has Entered A ‘New Phase’ And while a diplomatic solution is necessary, one is unlikely to be reached, warns Yukiya Amano. Huffington Post, By Chris D’Angelo 21 Mar 17 WASHINGTON — North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has entered a “new phase,” with the country having doubled the size of its uranium-enrichment facility in recent years, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told The Wall Street Journal.

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

North Korea nuclear program is ‘imminent’ threat says Rex Tillerson

Tillerson says North Korea nuclear program is ‘imminent’ threat, as China urges talks
Tillerson also said that US-China relations appear to be at a historic inflection point that must be carefully managed.
Politico, By 3/18/17, 

North Korea’s nuclear program poses an “imminent” threat that nonetheless requires the United States, China, and other countries to respond with a “staged approach” that includes sanctions, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a rare encounter with the media.

Tillerson, speaking to the conservative Independent Journal Review in an interview published Saturday, also said that U.S.-China relations appear to be at a historic inflection point that must be carefully managed.

China’s foreign minister, meanwhile, urged the United States to remain “cool-headed” on the issue of North Korea and to consider going ahead with talks with Pyongyang.

The U.S. secretary of state is in the final stages of a trip to Asia, having made stops in Japan and South Korea and, this weekend, in China. A good chunk of his discussions have focused on how to handle the challenge posed by the government in Pyongyang, whose recent ballistic missile tests have alarmed the international community.

Tillerson repeatedly framed the North Korean threat as “imminent,” and during his trip he has ruled out negotiations with the country while leaving open the possibility of a pre-emptive military strike to eliminate its nuclear program.

But in his interview with IJR, Tillerson did not promise any imminent public response by the U.S. and others, aside from the ongoing diplomatic flurries. Instead, he said there had to be a “staged approach” to North Korea, one that involves enforcing, and possibly enhancing, international sanctions, while persuading Pyongyang that giving up its nuclear weapons would help it on other levels………

Tillerson also downplayed, but did not entirely rule out, suggestions that Japan and South Korea should develop their own nuclear weapons in a bid to stave off the North Korean threat…….

China’s sway over North Korea is perhaps the most urgent issue the two countries must tackle, Tillerson said. The secretary of state indicated that the Trump administration believes China must do more to enforce sanctions on North Korea, which relies on Beijing as an economic lifeline.

It’s the same stance taken by the Obama administration, which toward the end of its tenure also was increasingly alarmed by the threat posed by North Korea. President Barack Obama is reported to have told Trump that North Korea is the top national security priority facing his new administration. http://www.politico.eu/article/tillerson-says-north-korea-nuclear-program-is-imminent-threat-as-china-urges-talks/

March 20, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Disaster looms over North Korea: how could this be stopped?

How to stop a North Korean nuclear trainwreck, The Hill, The assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the older half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, is yet another bizarre episode in a string of reality TV events that is now commonplace in our public discourse.

It’s easy to get sucked into the intrigue, but it distracts from the big picture: The United States is in the middle of a slow-motion trainwreck with North Korea over its nuclear weapons and missile program. North Korea’s missile tests on Monday are just the latest alarm in what could spiral into a full-blown crisis.

We better start listening.

Unless we do something about it now, a “metal on metal” collision could be in the offing, marked by more North Korean tests and calls within Washington for military strikes to stop them.

Kim Jong Nam’s murder and the subsequent media circus obscure more crucial events: China’s decision last month to ban all coal imports from North Korea; the Feb. 11 test launch of a mobile, land-based, solid-fueled missile; and, critically, the annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises happening this month, that almost  certainly sparked last weekend’s tests………

 we have no choice but to swallow a bitter pill. Using what little leverage and pressure we have, we must talk with the North Koreans at sufficiently high levels, something we haven’t done for some time.

But we must make these hard choices now — or they will be made for us.

Philip W. Yun is executive director of Ploughshares Fund, a San Francisco-based peace and security foundation. He previously served as senior adviser to the assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and as a senior adviser to two U.S. coordinators for North Korea Policy: former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry and former Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. Yun was a member of a government working group that managed U.S. policy and negotiations with North Korea under President Clinton and was part of the U.S. delegation that traveled to North Korea with then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 2000. http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/defense/324461-how-to-stop-a-north-korean-nuclear-trainwreck

March 18, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

How to defuse tensions around the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons testing?

Can Tillerson Crack North Korea?, Carnegie Endowment For International Peace,  RICHARD SOKOLSKY,  JOEL WIT , March 15, 2017, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Northeast Asia this week comes as tensions are running high in the region. North Korea recently conducted a simultaneous test of four ballistic missiles that could be used to attack South Korea and Japan, as well as U.S. forces stationed in those countries with nuclear weapons. The impending American deployment of an anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea to defend against a missile attack has provoked China’s strong opposition. South Korean president Park Geun-hye has just been removed from office for corruption, and a presidential election that could bring the opposition party to power will be held in May. While all this is happening, the Trump administration is doing some serious soul-searching about how to deal with North Korea. In short, Secretary Tillerson will face a diplomatic landscape that is littered with landmines on his first big troubleshooting mission overseas.

North Korea is at the center of this tangled web.

………..The jury is still out on whether Pyongyang has reached its tipping point. Besides some press leaks, there has been little publicity about decapitation, and it is unclear whether the overflights will take place. The recent North Korean missile tests may have been just an immediate one-off reaction to the ongoing joint U.S.–South Korean military exercises. And Pyongyang may still want to exercise caution, with the South Korean election now scheduled soon. Or the tests could reflect a decision that a “wait and see” posture is unlikely to produce results, ushering in a period of bigger and better nuclear weapons and missile tests, possibly including an intercontinental ballistic missile able to reach the United States. If that’s the case, the crisis on the peninsula is only likely to intensify.

The diplomatic hat trick the Trump administration needs to pull off is finding a solution that can stop the growth of the North Korean threat, rebuild cooperation with Beijing and gain support from U.S. allies, particularly a new South Korean government. That’s a very tall order, especially since the overwhelming temptation in Washington will be to double down on sanctions, including measures against Chinese banks and businesses that have ties with North Korea, and to ratchet up rhetoric about military options for eliminating Pyongyang’s WMD threat. If that’s all Secretary Tillerson brings to Asia, his mission will fail. He will only create more running room for Pyongyang to move forward with its nuclear and missile programs by making cooperation between Washington and Beijing even more difficult to achieve.

The smart move would be to defuse tensions while laying the groundwork for a strategy that combines threats with leaving the door open a crack for renewed dialogue with North Korea. The first two stops on his trip—Tokyo and Seoul—will provide him with an opportunity to pledge Washington’s firm commitment to their security. But the real centerpiece of Secretary Tillerson’s trip will be Beijing. China’s public proposal last week that the United States suspend its joint military exercises—a key demand by North Korea—in return for Pyongyang suspending its nuclear and missile tests—a move that would serve Washington’s interests—signals that it is willing to play an active, even positive role in avoiding a “head-on collision,” in the words of Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi. While the Trump administration quickly rejected the proposal, rather than just leaving the matter there, Secretary Tillerson should pick up the diplomatic gauntlet.

Caution, always the watchword when dealing with North Korea, should be reflected in the secretary’s counterproposal. Rather than dive headlong into new negotiations, step one should be “talks about talks”: unconditional preliminary discussions to see if North Korea is willing to put its nuclear weapons program on the table. “Unconditional” is the key word. While the United States has insisted in the past that North Korea agree ahead of time to focus on giving up its nuclear weapons, Pyongyang’s view is that talks should be held without preconditions. There seems to be little if no downside in adopting that approach, since the North Koreans understand that their program will be Washington’s number one topic for discussion. Step two in this process will be a decision by President Trump and Kim Jong-un, based on the results of these preliminary talks, whether formal negotiations should resume. If North Korea proves willing to address Washington’s WMD concerns, formal negotiations can start. If North Korea is not serious, the United States should then move on to putting greater diplomatic pressure on China, enacting new sanctions, and taking further measures to protect Seoul and Tokyo.

Whether the Trump administration adopts this approach or just presses the policy default button—more sanctions and military measures—is the $64,000 question. Consequential secretaries of state solve the thorniest and most important national security problems through patient, skillful diplomacy and negotiations. Fair or not, Secretary Tillerson has been pilloried by the press and pundits as missing in action. This sensitive diplomatic mission offers him an opportunity to show his mettle. The last thing Washington needs, at a time when America’s global leadership and position in Asia is under challenge, is for Secretary Tillerson to leave the region empty-handed, or in worse shape than he found it.
This piece was originally published by the National Interest. http://carnegieendowment.org/2017/03/15/can-tillerson-crack-north-korea-pub-68278

March 17, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

US intelligence : new round of missile, nuclear testing by North Korea expected

US anticipates new round of missile, nuclear testing by North Korea By Barbara StarrCNN Pentagon Correspondent, March 16, 2017 Story highlights

March 17, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US efforts to ‘denuclearise North Korea’ have failed- US secretary of state Rex Tillerson

Tillerson concedes US efforts to ‘denuclearise North Korea’ have failed
US secretary of state starts four-day Asia-Pacific trip by calling for new approach towards Pyongyang’s weapons programme,
Guardian,  , 16 Mar 17 The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has conceded that 20 years of US attempts to “denuclearise” North Korea have failed, and called for a new approach towards the regime’s nuclear weapons programme.

Speaking in Tokyo at the start of a four-day visit to Japan, South Korea and China, Tillerson said on Thursday: “I think it’s important to recognise that the political and diplomatic efforts of the past 20 years to bring North Korea to the point of denuclearisation have failed.

“That includes a period where the United States has provided $1.35bn in assistance to North Korea as an encouragement to take a different pathway.

“In the face of this ever-escalating threat, it is clear that a different approach is required. Part of the purpose of my visit to the region is to exchange views on a new approach.”

Tillerson said he and his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida, had discussed a fresh approach to North Korea’s “dangerous and unlawful” nuclear programme, but neither revealed details.

 “North Korea and its people need not fear the United States or their neighbours in the region who seek only to live in peace with North Korea,” the secretary of state added. “With this in mind, the United States calls on North Korea to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes and refrain from any further provocation.”

US administration officials have said that all options are on the table, including military strikes, but Tillerson indicated that Washington would continue to demand the full implementation of UN sanctions and press China to make more effective use of its leverage with the North Korean regime.

Calls for an alternative to the multinational sanctions supported by previous Japanese and US administrations have grown amid worrying evidence that the measures have not prevented North Korea from edging closer to its aim of developing nuclear weapons capable of striking the US mainland.

Japan and South Korea, which host tens of thousands of American troops, are within range of North Korean missiles…….

Chinese cooperation has been further complicated by the forthcoming deployment of a controversial US anti-missile system in South Korea.

China has objected to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) missile defence system, describing its advanced radar as a threat to its own security. Military officials in the US and South Korea insist that Thaad’s sole purpose is to thwart missile attacks from North Korea……..

Tillerson said making Japan the first stop on his visit “does underscore the importance that the United States places on the Japanese-US relationship, but also the importance of the Asia-Pacific region to the United States. The US-Japan alliance remains the cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Tillerson was due to hold talks with Japan’s prime minister, Shinzō Abe, on Thursday evening. On Friday, he will meet South Korea’s acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, and visit the demilitarised zone – the heavily armed border separating South and North Korea.

In Beijing at the weekend, Tillerson is expected to attempt to calm Chinese fears over Thaad, play down talk of a possible trade war between the world’s two largest economies, and finalise plans for the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, to visit Trump in April. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/16/tillerson-concedes-us-efforts-to-denuclearise-north-korea-have-failed

March 17, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Defector’s ‘Astounding’ Theories About A Potential North Korean Nuclear Apocalypse Discredited

 http://dailycaller.com/2017/03/16/defectors-astounding-theories-about-a-potential-north-korean-nuclear-apocalypse-discredited/ RYAN PICKRELL A high-ranking North Korean defector believes the North intends to test a nuclear bomb over a dozen times larger than anything it has previously tested, but that theory is a bit off.

“The nuclear test which the North is trying to conduct at the Punggye-ri test site will break the country into two pieces,” Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean diplomat who defected last year due to his disillusionment with the young dictator Kim Jong-un’s “reign of terror,” told Voice of America Tuesday.

He asserted that the blast would lead to a nuclear apocalypse. “If a massive explosion pollutes the area, and subsequently Pyongyang loses its control over the border areas, a massive defection will take place there,” he added, suggesting that North Korea’s next nuclear test could destabilize the country and topple the regime. While the idea of Kim Jong-un destroying his own regime with his relentless pursuit of bigger and better nuclear weapons may be fun to think about, it is currently unlikely.

Thae’s “astounding” assessment of the situation was based on South Korean media reports that misinterpreted research by Frank Pabian and David Coblentz presented by the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.

“Thae’s background is in diplomacy, but it is clear that he is not an expert on nuclear testing,” 38 North, a research site run by the U.S.-Korea Institute, explained.

The initial research said that commercial satellite imagery showed extensive tunneling at the Pungye-ri Nuclear Test Site. The larger facilities could support the testing of a nuclear weapon with a yield up to 282 kilotons; however, there is no evidence suggesting that North Korea would attempt a test of a weapon that size.

North Korea’s carried out its fifth nuclear test last September, and the yield was around 20-30 kilotons.

“We believe that if the North Koreans follow the testing patterns of other countries, the next tests — whenever they happen — will be progressively larger, but still in the tens of kilotons,” 38 North noted, adding, “The North Koreans have a tendency to over bury their tests, so it is highly unlikely that there will be a breach of any kind.”

“Sorry Mr. Thae, but perhaps an introductory course at MIT is in order,” the site concluded.

March 17, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Defector says that Kim Jong Un’s nuclear ambitions could bring about state collapse.

Defector: North Korea’s next nuclear test could lead to collapse http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/03/14/Defector-North-Koreas-next-nuclear-test-could-lead-to-collapse/6641489489192/ By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   March 14, 2017   The senior North Korea diplomat who defected to the South from Pyongyang’s Embassy in London said Kim Jong Un‘s nuclear ambitions could bring about state collapse.

Thae Yong-ho, who recently compared Kim to the Roman emperor Nero, said North Korea is headed down a dangerous path as it seeks recognition as a nuclear weapons state like “India or Pakistan,” Voice of America reported Tuesday.

“The Kim Jong Un regime will never give up nuclear weapons,” Thae said.

The high-profile defector added North Korea could “fall apart” if the regime decides to conduct a major nuclear test at its Punggye-ri nuclear site, where Pyongyang conducts tests of weapons of mass destruction.

Recent satellite images show tunnel digging continues at the site, which lies below the 800-meter Mount Mantap.

According to 38 North, the activity indicates North Korea may be prepared to conduct additional underground nuclear tests.

Thae said Tuesday the site is located on a road that connects Pyongyang to Hamgyong Province, and that “roads and railways that go up north pass by the nuclear test site.” “If a large explosion takes place and the area becomes contaminated with radiation while Pyongyang loses control of the border region of North Hamgyong Province, mass defections could take place,” Thae said.

A nuclear failure in a “small country like North Korea” could lead to disaster, the defector said, adding China and the international community must be aware of the danger.

Thae also said Kim Jong Un is trying to achieve parity with South Korea’s relatively more powerful military with his nuclear weapons program.

In an annual ranking of militaries around the world, South Korea troops ranked the 11th most powerful in 2016, while North Korea’s military strength ranked 25th in the survey by website Global Firepower.

March 15, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics | Leave a comment

North Korea tried to sell nuclear-weapon material

 http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/03/09/north-korea-tried-to-sell-nuclear-weapon-material.html North Korea attempted to sell a form of lithium metal, a key material for developing miniaturized nuclear weapons, to unidentified international buyers last year, according to United Nations investigators tracking dictator Kim Jong Un‘s weapons-of-mass-destruction programs.

The attempted sale, documented in a U.N. report this month, has sparked new concern in the Trump administration, Congress and the U.N. about the proliferation threat posed by Pyongyang’s growing nuclear- and ballistic-missile programs, congressional officials and nuclear-weapons experts said.

“The U.N. Panel of Expert’s report on North Korea provides further evidence that North Korea will stop at nothing to advance its illicit nuclear and missile programs,” said Sen. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.) who wrote a new sanctions bill against North Korea last year.

North Korea’s production of the enriched lithium, known as lithium-6, is also seen by nuclear experts as evidence of the country’s accelerated efforts to miniaturize a nuclear warhead, potentially for use on ballistic missiles.

Lithium-6 can be used to produce tritium, which is used to flood neutrons into a nuclear device and magnify the explosive power of nuclear detonations, allowing countries to build bombs with smaller amounts of plutonium or uranium, nuclear experts said.

These smaller devices can be affixed to intercontinental ballistic missiles.

“Lithium-6 is ideal, not only for making tritium for boosting fission devices, but also for directly fueling advanced weapons—including thermonuclear bombs,” said Henry Sokolski, a former Pentagon official who heads the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, a Washington think tank.

Lithium also has nonmilitary applications, particularly in producing batteries, lubricants and medicines, nuclear experts said. North Korea is believed to have significant natural deposits of the metal in its soil.

March 11, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US moves Thaad missile defence system into South Korea : Trump says it’s a”new phase”

Donald Trump says nuclear threat from North Korea has entered ‘new phase’
US president told Japanese PM he is ‘100%’ with Tokyo as US moves Thaad missile defence system into South Korea following Pyongyang missile launches,  Guardian,  
   The threat posed by North Korea to the US and its allies has entered a “new phase”, Donald Trump said on Tuesday, a day after the regime test-launched four ballistic missiles towards Japan.

In phone talks on Tuesday, Trump told Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, that the US stood “100%” with Tokyo after three of the intermediate-range missiles landed in the sea off Japan’s north-west coast.

“President Trump told me that the United States was with Japan 100%, and that he wanted his comments to be communicated to the Japanese people,” Abe told reporters at his residence. “He said he wanted us to trust him as well as the United States 100%.

“Japan and the United States confirmed that the latest missile firing by North Korea … is a clear challenge to the region and the international community, and that its threat has entered a new phase.”

The comments came as the US said the “first elements” of its controversial missile defence system had arrived in South Korea on Tuesday. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) anti-missile system is meant to intercept and destroy short- and medium-range ballistic missiles during the last part of their flights, the US Pacific Command said in a statement.

 

“Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday’s launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy Thaad to South Korea,” US Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris said.

China has denounced Thaad’s deployment, saying its powerful radar would compromise its security.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing military sources, said the system could be operational as early as April, well ahead of schedule.

Trump and Abe spoke as the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, declared the launches a success and warned that they were part of a training exercise for an attack on US military bases in Japan, home to almost 50,000 American troops.

“The four ballistic rockets launched simultaneously are so accurate that they look like acrobatic flying corps in formation,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted Kim as saying. The regime also released images of the missile launches, with a smiling Kim in attendance.

The launches were seen as a protest against the start of joint military exercises involving South Korea and the US that Pyongyang regards as a rehearsal for an invasion of North Korea.

A day after operation Foal Eagle began last Wednesday, North Korea’s army, deploying the same vitriolic language it reserves for the annual drills, warned that it was ready to “immediately launch its merciless military counteractions” if South Korean or US forces fired “even a single shell” into waters near the divided Korean peninsula…….

Trump has yet to state how he intends to address the growing North Korean threat from ballistic missiles, amid evidence that the regime is edging closer to acquiring the ability to marry a miniaturised nuclear warhead with a long-range missile capable of striking the US mainland.

The UN has imposed six rounds of sanctions since the North conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, but they have failed to dent the regime’s quest to build what it claims is a “defensive” nuclear arsenal.

Trump has not publicly commented on Monday’s missile launch, but his ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said on Twitter that the world “won’t allow” North Korea to continue on its “destructive path”.

Choi Kang, an analyst at the Seoul-based Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said the launch was a warning to Tokyo. “North Korea is demonstrating that its target is not just limited to the Korean peninsula any more but can extend to Japan at any time and even the US,” he said. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/07/donald-trump-threat-north-korea-new-phase

March 8, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear warning from North Korea

North Korea warns joint US-South Korea military exercises are pushing region to ‘nuclear disaster’ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-07/nkorea-us-skorea-exercises-leading-to-nuclear-disaster/8330554 North Korea has warned that US-South Korean military exercises — which it called “the most undisguised nuclear war manoeuvrers” — are driving the Korean Peninsula and north-east Asia towards “nuclear disaster”.

Key points:

  • North Korea’s UN ambassador warns that “it may go over to an actual war”
  • The White House announces more defence capabilities to be deployed to the region
  • The raised tensions follow another series of North Korean ballistic missile tests
  • On Monday some 50,000 North Koreans rally in support of mobilisation efforts

North Korea’s UN ambassador, Ja Song-nam, said in a letter to the UN Security Council on Monday the US was using nuclear-propelled aircraft carries, nuclear submarines, nuclear strategic bombers and stealth fighters in the joint exercises that began on March 1.

“It may go over to an actual war,” he warned of the military drills.

“Consequently, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is again inching to the brink of a nuclear war.”

Mr Ja again urged the Security Council to discuss the US-South Korea exercises and warned if it ignored North Korea’s request as it had in the past it would demonstrate the UN’s most powerful body was only a “political tool” of the United States.

The ambassador said the United States sought to convince public opinion that the joint exercise was a response to North Korea’s nuclear weapons, but said the US and South Korea carried out military drills numerous times before Pyongyang possessed its “nuclear deterrent”.

North Korea sent the letter on the manoeuvrers hours after North Korea fired four banned ballistic missiles earlier on Monday, in apparent reaction to the US-South Korean exercises.

Three of them landed in waters Japan claims as its exclusive economic zone, South Korean and Japanese officials said.

US President Donald Trump discussed plans to respond to the recent missile launches with South Korea’s acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, an official at Mr Hwang’s office said.

Mr Trump also had a phone call with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, reaffirming its alliance with Tokyo and condemning North Korea’s tests as a threat to regional security.

THAAD deployment begins

The US started to deploy the first elements of its advanced Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system to South Korea in response to the missile tests, US Pacific Command said.

“Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday’s launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy THAAD to South Korea,” US Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris said in a statement.

South Korea’s media cited the nation’s military as saying the THAAD deployment would be complete in one to two months and would be operational as early as April.

The move by the US military is likely to deepen the brewing conflict between South Korea and China, which has angrily opposed the THAAD deployment as destroying regional security balance.

Meanwhile, North Korean authorities gathered more than 50,000 people together on Monday to make a show of support for the country’s latest mobilisation campaign.

Mr Ja said the main reason the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) — the country’s official name — was equipping itself “with nuclear attack capabilities” and strengthening its nuclear deterrent forces was in self-defence against what he called the US “extreme anti-DPRK hostile police and nuclear threats and blackmails as well as manoeuvrers to enforce its nuclear weapons”.

North Korea’s UN Mission also issued a press statement denouncing and rejecting a report by the Security Council’s panel of experts that monitors UN sanctions against the DPRK.

The experts said North Korea was flouting sanctions by trading in prohibited weapons and other goods and using evasion techniques “that are increasing in scale, scope and sophistication”.

The DPRK Mission again insisted the sanctions “have no legal basis at all” and violate the country’s “lawful rights”.

March 8, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

‘Multiple missiles’ fired into Japanese waters, by North Korea

missile-risingNorth Korea fires ‘multiple missiles’ into Japanese waters Seoul, SMH. 6 Mar 17  : North Korea has fired ‘multiple missiles’ from its Tongchang-ri region where a missile base is located, South Korea’s military says.

The missiles flew about 1000 kilometres in possible retaliation by the reclusive state to joint US-South Korean drills that began last week.

apanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also said North Korea had fired four ballistic missiles, three of which fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Tokyo had “lodged a stern protest with North Korea,” Abe told reporters……

North Korea has threatened to take “strong retaliatory measures” after South Korea and the US began annual joint military drills on Wednesday that test their defensive readiness against possible aggression from the North.

North Korea criticises the annual drills, calling them preparation for war against it……http://www.smh.com.au/world/north-korea-fires-multiple-missiles-south-20170306-guremx.html

March 6, 2017 Posted by | Japan, North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Shaky friendship between China, North Korea: clash over nuclear and chemical weapons

flag-Chinaflag-N-KoreaFriendship on the rocks? China, North Korea clash over nuclear and chemical weapons
North Korea’s reaction was so strong that some Chinese experts initially thought the commentary was fake
 By Saša Petricic, CBC News    Feb 28, 2017 “…..China’s patience may be wearing thin, as frustrations double up over North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and apparent willingness to use chemical weapons.

South Korea has accused North Korean leader Kim Jong-un of ordering the assassination of his half-brother, Kim Jong-nam, and Malaysia suspects several North Korean officials may have been involved in a plot that used the banned VX nerve agent.

It’s creating an unprecedented rift between the two neighbours and ideological soulmates. China’s support dates back to the 1950s and the Korean war.

Last week, Beijing imposed a ban on coal imports from North Korea that could deprive it of much needed foreign funds until the end of 2017. Pyongyang has replied with one of the nastiest insults one socialist state can throw at another, accusing China of “dancing to the tune of the U.S.”

“The hostile forces are shouting ‘bravo’ over this,” says a commentary published by North Korea’s state news agency, accusing its neighbour of “mean behaviour.”…….

Pyongyang has defied some of the toughest sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security council, meant to not only deprive North Korea of the parts and expertise it needs to develop a nuclear arsenal, but also to punish the country’s leadership by blocking travel and access to luxury goods.

Officially, China endorses the UN sanctions and condemns Kim Jong-un’s nuclear and missile sabre-rattling.

But it is walking a fine line, trying to avoid weakening the regime so badly that it collapses, causing unrest in North Korea and a possible flood of refugees into China.

Beijing has been accused of turning a blind eye to a network of North Korean shell companies and middlemen who operate just over the land border in China, working to circumvent sanctions……..

while Pyongyang’s ongoing nuclear and missile program worries China, it’s the apparent assassination of Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam that has sharpened the divisions between it and North Korea…….

Stockpile of deadly toxins

China is reportedly upset because Jong-nam was under its implicit protection, living in the country’s gambling enclave of Macau for years.

It was also rattled by North Korea’s apparent ready use of such a potent and prohibited chemical weapon beyond its borders. Pyongyang is known to have a large stockpile of various deadly toxins, and it hasn’t signed on to international conventions agreeing not to engage in chemical warfare…….http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/north-korea-china-weapons-petricic-1.4000631

March 1, 2017 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment