Trump accepts offer to meet Kim Jong Un



Trump accepts offer to meet Kim Jong Un

(CNN)President Donald Trump has agreed to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by May, the White House and the South Korean national security adviser said Thursday evening.

“President Trump greatly appreciates the nice words of the South Korean delegation and President Moon. He will accept the invitation to meet with Kim Jong Un at a place and time to be determined. We look forward to the denuclearization of North Korea. In the meantime, all sanctions and maximum pressure must remain,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced in a statement.
Trump tweeted, “Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!”
The stunning announcement came after Kim extended an invitation to Trump to meet through South Korean officials, who met with Trump on Thursday. Trump would be the first sitting US president to meet with his North Korean counterpart, a stunning diplomatic breakthrough with uncertain consequences.
The South Korean delegation first met with national security adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and then Trump, who then delivered the news, a senior administration official official said. It all happened in about an hour.
Kim told the South Koreans “he is committed to denuclearization” and pledged North Korea will “refrain from any further nuclear or missile tests,” the South Korean national security adviser Chung Eui-Yong said Thursday at the White House.
Kim also told the South Koreans he understands that the US and South Korea will move forward with their joint military exercises later this year.
Speaking from outside the West Wing, Chung said Kim “expressed his eagerness to meet President Trump as soon as possible.”
Trump has expressed an openness to dialogue with North Korea, but the Trump administration has said North Korea must first take concrete steps toward denuclearization. As of Thursday evening, there was no indication that North Korea had pledged to take those steps.
“All options are on the table and our posture toward the regime will not change until we see credible moves toward denuclearization,” a senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday. “What we are looking for is concrete steps toward denuclearization.”
Trump’s approach to North Korea has wavered between bellicose rhetoric and expressions of openness to diplomacy — with the President saying the US would rain “fire and fury” on North Korea one day and then saying he would consider speaking directly with the country’s leader under the right circumstances.
Amid the potentially breakthrough talks between North and South Korea, the Trump administration has also credited its campaign of “maximum pressure” on North Korea as having brought Pyongyang to the negotiating table.
Since Trump came in to office, the US has leveled some of its most significant and far-reaching sanctions against North Korea and has also succeeded in pressuring China to further isolate the regime.

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un Wants to ‘Write a New History’ With South Korea


((Commentary: by TRS) Just how foolish is President Moon of South Korea? Yes, it is obvious that Kim Jong Un wants to “write a new history” of the Korean Peninsula with himself as the supreme ruler of all of the peninsula. The only thing acceptable to Kim Jong Un is for the people of South Korea to totally and completely give up all of their freedom. Even China’s Xi Jinping has made it clear that China will not tolerate a “non-Communist” government on their border. So, it is my belief that President Moon is acting like either a total fool, or, he is a total traitor to the people of South Korea!)



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March 6, 2018

(SEOUL, South Korea) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had an “openhearted talk” in Pyongyang with envoys for South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the North said Tuesday.

It’s the first time South Korean officials have met with the young North Korean leader in person since he took power after his dictator father’s death in late 2011 — and the latest sign that the Korea’s are trying to mend ties after a year of repeated North Korean weapons tests and threats of nuclear war.

North Korea’s state media said Kim expressed his desire to “write a new history of national reunification” during a dinner Monday night that Seoul said lasted about four hours.

Given the robust history of bloodshed, threats and animosity on the Korean Peninsula, there is considerable skepticism over whether the Koreas’ apparent warming relations will lead to lasting peace.

North Korea, some believe, is trying to use improved ties with the South to weaken U.S.-led international sanctions and pressure, and to provide domestic propaganda fodder for Kim Jong Un.

But each new development also raises the possibility that the rivals can use the momentum from the good feelings created during North Korea’s participation in the South’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics last month to ease a standoff over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and restart talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

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The North Korean report sought to make Kim look statesmanlike as he welcomed the visiting South Koreans, with Kim offering views on “activating the versatile dialogue, contact, cooperation and exchange.”

He was also said to have given “important instruction to the relevant field to rapidly take practical steps for” a summit with Moon, which the North proposed last month.

Moon, a liberal who is keen to engage the North, likely wants to visit Pyongyang. But he must first broker better ties between the North and Washington, which is Seoul’s top ally and its military protector.

The role of a confident leader welcoming visiting, and lower-ranking, officials from the rival South is one Kim clearly relishes. Smiling for cameras, he posed with the South Koreans and presided over what was described as a “co-patriotic and sincere atmosphere.”

Many in Seoul and Washington will want to know if, the rhetoric and smiling images notwithstanding, there’s any possibility Kim will negotiate over the North’s breakneck pursuit of an arsenal of nuclear missiles that can viably target the U.S. mainland.

The North has repeatedly and bluntly declared it will not give up its nuclear bombs. It also hates the annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises that were postponed because of the Olympics but will likely happen later this spring. And achieving its nuclear aims rests on the North resuming tests of missiles and bombs that set the region on edge.

Photos distributed by the North showed a beaming Kim dressed in a dark Mao-style suit and holding hands with Moon’s national security director, Chung Eui-yong, the leader of the 10-member South Korean delegation. Chung’s trip is the first known high-level visit by South Korean officials to the North in about a decade.

The South Korean delegates have another meeting with North Korean officials on Tuesday before returning home, but it’s unclear if Kim Jong Un will be there.

Kim was said to have expressed at the dinner his “firm will to vigorously advance the north-south relations and write a new history of national reunification by the concerted efforts of our nation to be proud of in the world.”

There is speculation that better inter-Korean ties could pave the way for Washington and Pyongyang to talk about the North’s nuclear weapons. The United States, however, has made clear that it doesn’t want empty talks and that all options, including military measures, are on the table.

Previous warming ties between the Korea’s have come to nothing amid North Korea’s repeated weapons tests and the North’s claims that the annual U.S.-South Korean war games are a rehearsal for an invasion.

Before leaving for Pyongyang, Chung said he would relay Moon’s hopes for North Korean nuclear disarmament and a permanent peace on the peninsula.

Chung’s delegation includes intelligence chief Suh Hoon and Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-sung. The South Korean presidential Blue House said the high-profile delegation is meant to reciprocate the Olympic trip by Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, who became the first member of the North’s ruling family to come to South Korea since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Kim Yo Jong, who also attended Monday’s dinner, and other senior North Korean officials met with Moon during the Olympics, conveyed Kim Jong Un’s invitation to visit Pyongyang and expressed their willingness to hold talks with the United States.

After the Pyongyang trip, Chung’s delegation is scheduled to fly to the United States to brief officials about the outcome of the talks with North Korean officials.

President Donald Trump has said talks with North Korea will happen only “under the right conditions.”

If Moon accepts Kim’s invitation to visit Pyongyang it would be the third inter-Korean summit talk. The past two summits, one in 2000 and the other in 2007, were held between Kim’s late father, Kim Jong Il, and two liberal South Korean presidents. They resulted in a series of cooperative projects between the Korea’s that were scuttled during subsequent conservative administrations in the South.

N. Korea’s Olympics delegation to be led by a wanted mass murderer



North Korea’s new Olympics delegation to be led by man blamed for deadly ship attack

Pyeongchang, South Korea (CNN)North Korea is sending another high-level delegation to South Korea for the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony this Sunday, led by a man widely believed to have masterminded the sinking of a South Korean navy ship that killed 46 sailors.

Kim Yong Chol, Vice Chairman of the Party Central Committee, will lead the delegation that’s due to arrive by land on the Gyeongui rail line hours before the ceremony starts, according to a statement Thursday from the South’s Ministry of Unification.

A giant floating crane lifts the stern of the 1,200-tonne sunken Cheonan to place it on a barge, before returning it to South Korea, April 15, 2010.

Kim is the former chief of the North’s Reconnaissance Bureau, a top military intelligence body blamed by Seoul for a torpedo attack that sunk the South Korean warship Cheonan, in 2010.
The choice of Kim to lead the delegation is likely to be interpreted as an intentional provocation. Kim is named on the list of individuals sanctioned by both the US and South Korea. The US sanctions include provisions intended to restrict movement, though it is not clear whether Kim’s trip to the South is in breach of travel-specific sanctions.
The announcement poses a renewed diplomatic challenge for hosts South Korea, who in addition to navigating issues relating to sanctions, will again need to accommodate both the North Korean and US delegations, without offending either party.

Pence, Kim Jong Un's sister ignore each other

The Opening Ceremony saw US Vice President Mike Pence positioned just a few seats away from members of the North’s high-level delegation, including Kim Yo Jong, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The US delegation during Sunday’s Closing Ceremony will be led by Ivanka Trump, the first daughter and senior adviser to US President Donald Trump, raising the prospect of a chance encounter between a member of the Trump family and members of the North’s delegation.
A more formalized meeting between the two sides appears unlikely, however, following comments from the South Korean government ruling out their involvement in such a possibility.
“The Blue House will not facilitate a meeting between Ivanka and North Korea’s high-level delegation,” said a government spokesman, referring to the official name of the executive office of the South Korean president.
When asked whether both Trump and North Korean delegates would be invited to a VIP reception before the Closing Ceremony, the spokesman declined to comment, saying he doesn’t yet know how it will pan out.

Full delegation

Other members of the North’s delegation include Ri Son Gwon, chairman of the “Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the country” and six support staff.
Ri was among the delegation sent to South Korea in January for talks which led to North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics.
“We expect the high-level delegation’s participation in the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to help advance the process of settling peace on the Korean Peninsula including the improvement of inter-Korean relations and denuclearization,” the South Korean statement said.
It added that practical matters, including the delegation’s itinerary, would be discussed through an exchange of documents at Panmunjeom, known as the “truce village,” in the Joint Security Area between North and South Korea.

South Korean sailors salute images of their fallen comrades during a Cheonan memorial service in Seoul, April 25, 2010.

Cheonan Memorial

A total of 104 personnel were aboard the Cheonan when it sunk while conducting a normal mission in the vicinity of Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, in March 2010. Though rescue efforts continued for several days and involved more than 20 vessels, only 58 men were rescued from the ship.
According to an official South Korean report, based on an investigation conducted by South Korean, US, Swedish, British and Australian officials, the ship was attacked by a North Korean torpedo, fired from a small submarine.
North Korea has never claimed responsibility and refuses to accept the findings of the official report.
During his recent trip to South Korea, Vice President Pence visited the Cheonan Memorial which honors the 46 South Korean sailors killed in the attack.
Pence toured a museum featuring the sailors’ stories and examined remains of the Korean warship.
Speaking outside the memorial, Pence said the objective of the visit was to show that the US “stand(s) with our allies.”

South Korea’s President, Mr. Moon Is Being Played For A Fool!!!



As most folks know, the Winter Olympics are being staged in South Korea right now. South Korea’s President, Mr. Moon appears to be being ‘played’ for a fool by the Kim family of North Korea during these games. There is a small athletic delegation from the North that are participating as we speak. Among the non-athletes of the North’s delegation is the sister of Kim Jung Un, the mass murdering vicious Dictator self-proclaimed ‘Living God’. The out of touch with reality President of South Korea has welcomed the visitors from the North with open arms. Personally I do not have a problem with allowing the athletics from the North to participate, but it should be under their own flag. Mr. Moon decided that instead of South Korean athletics and the Country of South Korea using the South Korean Flag they are using a ‘unification’ flag and allowing the North Koreans to participate as part of a ‘one Korea’ team. Thus many athletics from the South who have spent many years working their selves half to death to make their Country’s Olympic Team got ‘bumped’ off the team so the unqualified North members could take their place. I say unqualified because to become a member of a country’s team you must have gone through many different qualifying events and either winning them or placing very, very high in those contest. The North’s athletics did none of these things, they were just handed the spots by the insistence of the South Korean President. Now if in team events ‘South Korea’ is able to win a metal, North Koreans also get that metal to take back home for Kim Jung Un to brag about.


Enough of the Olympic’s part of this article, now down to the meat of what I am writing to you about tonight. Kim Jung Un’s sister at the direction of her brother has offered President Moon an invitation to visit him in North Korea. The North Korean delegation has been putting on what has been widely referred to as a ‘charm’ campaign this past two months. Mr. Kim of North Korea has widely made it known that he wants the two Korea’s to be ‘unified’, yet the unification is to be under his command with himself as the one and only Leader of the Korean Peninsula. Folks, this is something that the extreme majority of the citizens of South Korea do not want to ever see happen.


What is going on is very obvious. The UN has put a lot of sanctions on the Kim government because of their missile program and the firing of ICBM’s as well as their Nuclear Program that Mr. Kim says he will never ever give up. A ‘show’ of Mr. Kim’s intentions was obvious when the North Koreans asked the South Korean government to give them the fuel that would be needed for the ship the North Korean delegation was going to use to make the very, very short trip to the South. Kim is playing the poor, poor pitiful me song and dance trying to get pity from the South Koreans and from the UN. For years the people of North Korea have been starving to death as the very fat Kim Jung Un who just keeps getting fatter and fatter himself. If Kim Jung Un can get the very liberal President Moon to start sending food and oil to the North, that would be a huge win for Mr. Kim. If Mr. Kim can convince the very liberal and gullible President Moon to break the UN sanctions all together, then Russia and China would do the same. What if Mr. Kim can play sweet toward Mr. Moon and could convince him to throw the American military forces out of South Korea and to quit doing military exercises with the U.S. and to quit allowing U.S. ships to use South Korean Ports. It is obvious that the next thing would be the North Korean Army storming the South Korean’s thus unifying the Peninsula under Mr. Kim’s control. Of course this is if Mr. Kim cannot convince President Moon to do this voluntarily. Let’s all give this ongoing situation about  100 days, lets say until June 1st to see how this all shakes out. Another option of course would be if Mr. Kim gets President Moon up North and lets him know if the two Countries do not unite as one that he (Mr. Kim) will nuke the South ‘off the map’. Lets see what the History Books will be saying about this next 100 days. As a very dear old friend of mine used to say, “we shall see, what we shall see”.

South Korea: Hospital Fire Kills At Least 37



Seoul, South Korea (CNN) South Korea’s deadliest fire in almost a decade has ripped through a hospital in the city of Miryang, killing at least 37 people and injuring more than 100.

Authorities revised the death toll down from 39 on Friday afternoon, but a Miryang City official warned it could rise as at least 18 patients remained in critical condition.
The fire comes less than a month after a similar tragedy left 29 dead in the city of Jecheon, raising concerns over lax safety standards in the country.
Officials said they were still investigating the cause of Friday’s fire, which is believed to have started around 7:20 a.m. local time in the emergency room on the first floor of the 98-bed Sejong Hospital.

Rescue workers remove bodies from a hospital fire on Friday, January 26, in Miryang, South Korea.

Rescue services took three hours to completely extinguish the flames, which engulfed the first two floors of the six-story building in Miryang, which is about 270 kilometers (168 miles) southeast of the capital, Seoul.
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Sprinklers were not installed in the building due to its small size, the hospital’s chairman, Son Kyung-chul, told reporters.

Patients had breathing problems, difficulty walking

The hospital’s director bowed in apology to the patients and victim’s families during the briefing. Seok Gyeong-sik also said he would do his best to take care of the incident.

A person injured in the fire is carried to safety Friday in Miryang, South Korea.

The majority of those killed in the blaze are believed to be elderly patients, said Chun Jae-kyung, head of the public medical center in Miryang.
“Because the hospital had many intensive care units and elderly patients, there were a lot of people with breathing problems,” Chun said. Most of the deaths were due to smoke inhalation.

Firefighters work to put out the blaze Friday as smoke billows from the Sejong Hospital.

The hospital is adjacent to a nursing home and shares many of the same facilities. All the patients inside the nursing home were rescued, authorities confirmed.
Footage aired on local TV showed emergency workers battling the blaze, as hospital staff rushed to evacuate patients, carrying those unable to walk on their backs.
Kim Dae-hyun, the owner of a shop next to the hospital, told CNN that many of the patients at the dual medical facility were in their 80s and 90s and were unable to walk without help.
By late afternoon Friday, emergency personnel had posed a list of names identifying the victims onto a wall close to the hospital. Patients’ family members crowded to check the pages.

Fire safety rules questioned

For many in South Korea, Friday’s blaze will bring back painful memories of 2014, when a fire at a nursing home in the southern county of Jangseong killed 21 patients, many of whom were left trapped due to their inability to escape unaided.
The recent spate of deadly fires in South Korea has led to questions over the government’s ability to enforce sufficient safety measures.

Rescue workers remove a survivor from the hospital fire Friday in Miryang, South Korea.

Two men were arrested following the deadly building fire in December that killed 29 people. The building’s owner is accused of violating fire safety regulations and committing involuntary homicide by negligence. The building’s manager is accused of involuntary homicide.
That fire is suspected to have started in a parked vehicle on the ground floor and quickly consumed the eight-story building. Many of the bodies were found in a public bath on the second floor.
After Friday’s fire, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called an emergency staff meeting. In a statement, Moon promised to quickly identify the cause of the fire in order “to prevent the recurrence of the fire in the future.”

President Approves $133 Million Sale Of Anti-ballistic Missiles To Japan



Washington (CNN)The Trump administration notified Congress on Tuesday that it has approved the potential sale of SM-3 anti-ballistic missiles to Japan in a deal estimated to be worth $133.3 million, according to a State Department statement.

Included in the sale are four Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block IIA missiles, four MK 29 missile canisters, and other technical, engineering and logistics support services.
The SM-3 Block IIA is an anti-ballistic missile that can be employed on Aegis-class destroyers or on land, via the Aegis Ashore program, according to a State Department official.
“If concluded, this proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security interests of the United States by enhancing Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force’s … ability to defend Japan and the Western Pacific from ballistic missile threats,” the official said.
The sale would also “follow through on President (Donald) Trump’s commitment to provide additional defensive capabilities to treaty allies” threatened by North Korea’s “provocative behavior,” the official added.
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Throughout 2017, North Korea has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests despite constant criticism from the West and trade sanctions.
The most provocative moment came November 29, when North Korea said it successfully tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile, topped with a “super-large heavy warhead” which it said was capable of striking the US mainland.
Last month, Japan’s cabinet approved a plan to buy two US-built Aegis missile defense systems, state broadcaster NHK reported, as the country faces increasing hostility from neighboring North Korea.
Russia accused the US of violating an arms control treaty by agreeing to supply anti-missile systems to Japan.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the deal with Japan was part of a bigger plan by the US for a “global anti-missile system.”
Zakharova claimed they were in breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, an arms control agreement between Moscow and Washington that has been in force for 30 years.
“We need to bear in mind that all these systems have universal missile launchers that can use all types of missiles. It means another violation of the INF treaty and we see that Japan is an accomplice in this matter,” she said.
The US rejected the accusation. “The United States is in full compliance with the INF Treaty. Russian claims to the contrary are false and meant to deflect attention from Russia’s own very clear violations,” a spokesman for the US State Department told CNN at the time.
Secretary of Defense James Mattis spoke with Japan Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera on Monday to discuss a range of US-Japan alliance matters and reaffirmed US commitments to the defense of Japan — pledging to work closely with his Japanese counterpart to bolster critical alliance capabilities.

32 Missing After Ships Collide Off China’s Coast



The Panama-registered tanker "Sanchi" is seen ablaze after a collision with a Hong Kong-registered freighter off China's eastern coast on Jan. 7, 2018
The Panama-registered tanker “Sanchi” is seen ablaze after a collision with a Hong Kong-registered freighter off China’s eastern coast on Jan. 7, 2018
Korea Coast Guard/AP


9:49 AM EST

(BEIJING) — An Iranian oil tanker collided with a bulk freighter and caught fire off China’s east coast, leaving the tanker’s entire crew of 32 missing and causing it to spill oil into the sea, authorities said Sunday.

Chinese authorities dispatched police vessels and three cleaning ships to the scene after the collision, which happened late Saturday. The South Korean coast guard also sent a ship and a plane to help search for the missing crew members — 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis.

The Panama-registered tanker Sanchi was sailing from Iran to South Korea when it collided with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal in the East China Sea, 257 kilometers (160 miles) off the coast of Shanghai, China’s Ministry of Transport said.

All 21 crew members of the Crystal, which was carrying grain from the United States, were rescued, the ministry said. The Crystal’s crew members were all Chinese nationals.

It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the collision.

State-run China Central Television reported Sunday evening that the tanker was still floating and burning, and that oil was visible in the water.

It was not clear, however, whether the tanker was still spilling oil. The size of the oil slick caused by the accident also was not known.

Earlier Sunday, Chinese state media carried pictures of the tanker on fire with large plumes of smoke.

The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 metric tons (150,000 tons, or nearly 1 million barrels) of condensate, a type of ultra-light oil, according to Chinese authorities.

By comparison, the Exxon Valdez was carrying 1.26 million barrels of crude oil when it spilled 260,000 barrels into Prince William Sound off Alaska in 1989.

The Sanchi has operated under five different names since it was built in 2008, according the U.N.-run International Maritime Organization. The IMO listed its registered owner as Hong Kong-based Bright Shipping Ltd., on behalf of the National Iranian Tanker Co., a publicly traded company based in Tehran. The National Iranian Tanker Co. describes itself as operating the largest tanker fleet in the Middle East.

An official in Iran’s Oil Ministry, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters, said 30 of the tanker’s 32 crew members were Iranians.

“We have no information on their fate,” he said. “We cannot say all of them have died, because rescue teams are there and providing services.”

The official said the tanker was owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co. and had been rented by a South Korean company, Hanwha Total Co. He said the tanker was on its way to South Korea.

Hanwa Total is a 50-50 partnership between the Seoul-based Hanwha Group and the French oil giant Total. Total did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s the second collision for a ship from the National Iranian Tanker Co. in less than a year and a half. In August 2016, one of its tankers collided with a Swiss container ship in the Singapore Strait, damaging both ships but causing no injuries or oil spill.


South Korea seizes ship it claims transferred oil to North Korea



South Korea seizes ship it claims transferred oil to North Korea

Seoul (CNN)South Korea has seized a Hong Kong-registered ship that allegedly transferred oil to a North Korean vessel in violation of United Nations sanctions.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry said the Lighthouse Winmore left the port of Yeosu in South Korea carrying refined oil which was then transferred to a North Korean ship in international waters on October 19.
The US Treasury Department released satellite imagery in November of two ships allegedly performing an illegal ship-to-ship transfer in international waters on the same day.

Satellite imagery the US says shows a ship-to-ship transfer, possibly of oil, between two vessels in an effort to evade sanctions on North Korea.

It identified one of the ships as a sanctioned North Korean vessel, the Rye Song Gang 1, but did not name the other. South Korean officials could not confirm Friday if the second ship was the Lighthouse Winmore.
“UN Security Council sanctions prohibit the transfer of anything to a North Korean ship,” a South Korean Foreign Ministry official told CNN, adding the Lighthouse Winmore was seized when it re-entered Yeosu on November 24.
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President Trump said Beijing had been “caught red-handed,” after the satellite images were republished in South Korean media earlier this week.
South Korea said the Lighthouse Winmore and its crew were still in South Korean custody and under investigation. There were 23 Chinese nationals and two Burmese nationals on board the ship, officials said, adding they would be permitted to leave only when the investigation was concluded.
China has denied breaching UN sanctions on North Korea.
The Lighthouse Winmore was one of 10 ships the US asked the UN to ban from international ports this month over its alleged dealings with North Korea, according to Reuters.
That move came after the UN blacklisted four ships in October, including one that was caught smuggling 30,000 North Korean-made rocket-propelled grenades in 2016.
According to South Korea, the Lighthouse Winmore was being leased by a Taiwanese company, the Billions Bunker Group, and was en route to Taiwan when it made a ship-to-ship transfer of its oil cargo to four ships, including one North Korean ship.
“This is one of the main ways in which North Korea uses an illegal network to circumvent UN Security Council sanctions,” the South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman said. It is customary in South Korea that officials do not give their names.
The Hong Kong government said in a statement Friday it had noted media reports that the Lighthouse Winmore had been seized. “We are liaising with the Korean parties concerned to obtain further information about the incident, and will take appropriate actions as necessary,” the statement said.

‘Very disappointed’ in China

China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Friday reiterated that Beijing is enforcing all UN Security Council sanctions against North Korea, aimed at curbing Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear weapons development.
In an interview with the New York Times published Thursday, Trump claimed “oil is going into North Korea” and appeared to blame China, saying if Beijing fails to put pressure on Pyongyang then the US may take punitive economic actions against Beijing.
“China on trade has ripped off this country more than any other element of the world in history has ripped off anything,” Trump said.
“If they don’t help us with North Korea, then I do what I’ve always said I want to do. China can help us much more, and they have to help us much more.”
He added: “China’s hurting us very badly on trade, but I have been soft on China because the only thing more important to me than trade is war.”

Trump: 'disappointed' China allowing oil into NK

Trump: ‘disappointed’ China allowing oil into NK
A senior US State Department official told CNN Thursday the US is “aware that certain vessels have engaged in UN-prohibited activities, including ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum and the transport of coal from North Korea.”
“We have evidence that some of the vessels engaged in these activities are owned by companies in several countries, including China,” the official said. “We condemn these acts and hope that any UNSC members, including China, work more closely together to shut down smuggling activities.”
Pyongyang has for years used deceptive shipping practices to help bring in revenue for the country’s regime, analysts say, and the US has called for more to be done to crackdown on ships transporting goods to and from North Korea.
UN Security Council resolutions passed this year stipulate “all Member States shall prohibit the entry into their ports of such designated vessels,” save for some circumstances, including in emergencies or if they are granted humanitarian exceptions by the UN.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the date of the seizure as December 24.

South Korea’s President Says the Agreement With Japan on Historic Sex Slavery Has ‘Serious Flaws’




10:58 PM EST

(SEOUL, South Korea) — South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday the country’s 2015 agreement with Japan to settle a decades-long impasse over Korean women forced into wartime sexual slavery was seriously flawed.

Moon’s statement in which he vows unspecified follow-up measures to meet the victims’ demands potentially throws the future of the deal in doubt, two years after both countries declared it as “final and irreversible.”

The statement came a day after a state-appointed panel concluded that Seoul’s previous conservative government failed to properly communicate with the victims before reaching the deal.

The panel also said parts of the deal were not made public, including Japanese demands that the South Korean government avoid using the term “sexual slavery” and provide a specific plan to remove a bronze statue representing sex slaves in front of its Seoul embassy. South Korea in response said it would formerly refer to the victims as “victims of Japanese military comfort stations” but didn’t make a clear promise to remove the statue, according to the panel.

“It has been confirmed that the 2015 comfort women negotiation between South Korea had serious flaws, both in process and content,” Moon said in a statement read out by his spokesman.

“Despite the burden of the past agreement being a formal promise between governments that was ratified by the leaders of both countries, I, as president and with the Korean people, once again firmly state that this agreement does not resolve the issue over comfort women.”

Under the deal, Japan agreed to provide cash payment for the dwindling number of surviving victims, while South Korea said it will try to resolve Japanese grievance over the statue in front of the embassy.

The deal came under heavy criticism in South Korea where many thought the government settled for far too less. Japan has been angry that South Korea hasn’t taken specific steps to remove the statue and similar monuments in other places in the country, insisting there has been a clear understanding to do so.

The Foreign Ministry said government officials will hold extensive discussions with victims and experts before deciding whether to pursue changes to the deal. Japanese officials have said a renegotiation is unacceptable.

Some experts see it as unlikely that Moon’s government will spark a full-blown diplomatic row with Japan by scrapping the deal when the allies face pressing needs to form a strong united front against North Korea’s growing nuclear threat.

Historians say tens of thousands of women from around Asia, many of them Korean, were sent to front-line military brothels to provide sex to Japanese soldiers during World War II.


North Korea soldier who defected had immunity to anthrax



North Korea soldier who defected had immunity to anthrax

A North Korean soldier who defected to the Southwas found to have antibodies to anthrax — triggering concerns that the rogue regime has weaponized the deadly bacteria, according to reports Tuesday.

The man, who was either exposed to or vaccinated for anthrax, had developed immunity to the deadly disease before defecting, UPI reported, citing local Channel A.

A South Korean intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity did not say which of the four soldiers who fled the hermit kingdom this year had the antibodies in his system.

The discovery is causing concern in Seoul because the disease can kill at least 80 percent of those who are exposed to the bacterium in 24 hours — unless antibiotics are taken or vaccination is available.

But South Korea’s military has yet to procure an anthrax vaccine.

Defense Ministry spokeswoman Choi Hyun-soo has said an anthrax “vaccine is expected to be developed by the end of 2019,” but not sooner, UPI reported.

The North Korean rogue regime has been suspected of developing biological weapons after in 2015 publicizing the works of the Pyongyang Biological Technology Research Institute, which is run by the Korean People’s Army Unit 810.

Pyongyang claimed the facility specializes in pesticide research, but analysts have said its dual-use equipment suggests biological weapons are being manufactured in North Korea.

North Korea’s neighbors fear Pyongyang is conducting illegal biological weapons tests to see if anthrax-laden warheads can be loaded onto its missiles, the Sun of the UK reported.

Japan’s Asahi paper recently reported that North Korea — which has demonstrated the theoretical capacity of striking the US mainland with its missiles — had begun to test loading anthrax onto them, the International Business Times reported.

The report said the US is aware of the tests, which are meant to ascertain whether the anthrax bacteria could survive the sizzling re-entry from space.

Seoul believes North Korea has a chemical weapons stockpile of up to 5,000 tons and can produce biological warfare agents such as anthrax and smallpox, according to Bloomberg.

Last week, the White House pointed to the dangers posed by North Korea in the National Security Strategy released by President Trump.

“North Korea — a country that starves its own people — has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on nuclear, chemical and biological weapons that could threaten our homeland,” read the report.

“[North Korea is] pursuing chemical and biological weapons which could also be delivered by missile.”

Pyongyang denied the Asahi report through the state media Korean Central News Agency.

“As a state party to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), [North Korea] maintains its consistent stand to oppose development, manufacture, stockpiling and possession of biological weapons,” the KCNA reported.

A North Korean soldier defected to South Korea last week — the second known defection from the North in about five weeks. Another North Korean soldier suffered critical gunshot wounds during a defection dash across the border Nov. 13.