South Korea seizes ship it claims transferred oil to North Korea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

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’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME)

 

By KIM TONG-HYUNG / AP

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

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK POST)

 

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.

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NORTH KOREA’S WAR SUPPLIES SHUT OFF BY CHINA

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

NORTH KOREA’S WAR SUPPLIES SHUT OFF BY CHINA AS OIL AND FUEL SANCTIONS TAKE TOLL

China shut off all oil and fuel products to North Korea last month, further strangling Kim Jong Un’s regime amid increasing international sanctions and cries for China to toughen its economic and diplomatic policies with its oppressive neighbor.

Related: North Korea is preparing to launch a satellite into space

China also blocked off North Korean imports of iron, coal and lead in November, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing data from China’s General Administration of Customs. The block appeared to be even harsher than sanctions placed on the North by the United Nations this year. New U.N. sanctions enacted last week capped oil shipments to the North for any trade partner at 500,000 barrels in a single year.

The new sanctions, along with others put in place earlier this year, place Kim’s regime in a perilous position. The limited North Korean economy may struggle to fund its nuclear and missile defense, and also maintain order within the totalitarian regime, without sufficient imports.

China, long the North’s top trade partner, also hindered the trade of gasoline, diesel or fuel oil and jet fuel. Jet fuel had not been completely blocked for the North by China since February 2015.

November marked the second consecutive month China did not send gasoline or diesel to the North.

GettyImages-884030122North Korea has threatened war on the United States and blasted the United Nations for economic sanctions. The limited North Korean economy may struggle to fund its nuclear and missile defense, and also maintain order within the totalitarian regime, without sufficient imports. KCNA VIA GETTY IMAGES

Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said she was unaware of the oil export figures, but stated China had always enforced the sanctions against Kim’s government.

“As a principle, China has consistently fully, correctly, conscientiously and strictly enforced relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea,” the spokeswoman said at a press briefing. “We have already established a set of effective operating mechanisms and methods.”

China is North Korea’s top fuel provider, and the cutoff coincides with new sanctions unanimously passed by the U.N. Security Council last week to punish Kim for missile tests and threats of an attack against the U.S.

By a 15-0 vote, the U.N. council tightened fuel shipments and ordered North Korean workers overseas to return to their homeland. China and Russia both voted to impose the sanctions, with a large number of North Korean workers already in the latter country.

The regime responded to the new sanctions Sunday, calling them an “act of war” and accusing the U.S. of asking for trouble.

“We define this ‘sanctions resolution’ rigged up by the U.S. and its followers as a grave infringement upon the sovereignty of our republic, as an act of war violating peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula and the region, and categorically reject the ‘resolution,’” the state-run Korean Central News Agency said in a statement.

Join the Discussion

Ask a North Korean: What was your first Christmas in South Korea like?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NK (NORTH KOREAN) NEWS.ORG)(FROM SOUTH KOREA)

 

Ask a North Korean: What was your first Christmas in South Korea like?
“Just two years ago, the holiday known as Christmas felt awkward to me …”

December 25th, 2017

Every week or so, we ask a North Korean your questions, giving you the chance to learn more about the country we know so little about.

Got a question? Email it to [email protected] with your name and city. We’ll be publishing the best ones.

Today’s question: What was your first Christmas in South Korea like?

I hear Christmas carols all around me. My third Christmas is coming up. Now, I can hum to Christmas tunes, and from time to time, the thought of putting up a Christmas tree pops into my mind.

Just two years ago, the holiday known as Christmas felt awkward to me, and it was not easy to enjoy the Christmas mood. Perhaps this makes sense for someone who never waited for Santa Clause who brings gifts with Rudolf the reindeer.

In general, a holiday celebrates traditions and history that have become a part of society. It is hard to enjoy a holiday without understanding the cultural context. A Korean person would find it difficult to enjoy Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. just as an American would struggle to enjoy Korea’s Chuseok holiday.

Even though North Korea has walled itself off from the rest of the world, in the end, Christmas is not an unfamiliar holiday. Works of world literature like Hans Christian Anderson’s sad story “The Little Match Girl” and O. Henry’s heartwarming tale of Jim and Della in “The Gift of the Magi” have introduced Christmas to North Korea.

I will introduce how my first Christmas day went, but I must apologize: this is not the most delightful story

Still, for someone who has never waited for gifts from Santa prepared by devoted parents, or for someone who never spent his adolescence falling into romantic imaginations before the Christmas season, it takes some time to naturally and fully enjoy this holiday.

Then how was my first Christmas? I will introduce how my first Christmas day went, but I must apologize: this is not the most delightful story. Despite this, the reason I decided to tell this story is that I felt that maybe I could encourage people to feel a responsibility to make Christmas warm for others and for themselves.

In December 2015, I was turning the sixth page of my calendar in South Korea. Defection had done more than just change my physical location. I felt as though I had traveled to South Korea on a defection time machine, arriving in a world some thirty years ahead.

“And the time passed so fast!” | Photo: Wikimedia Commons

My humor was more effective with older people than people my age, and I mostly enjoyed old songs from the 70s and 80s. And how time passed so fast! Even after I sharply reduced the number of hours I slept each night by four to five hours, I was still always running through the subway.

South Korea’s “hurry hurry” (빨리빨리) culture seemed to fan into flame a spark of hastiness in my mind as I played catch up from thirty years behind. I had the marvelous experience of feeling the relativity of time, even though I had not actually traveled to another planet on a spaceship close to light speed.

A qualitative transformation occurred in my way of thinking from a socialist perspective toward a capitalist one. I would finish my day thinking that yesterday’s thoughts had been infinitely foolish while hoping that tomorrow I would laugh at my thoughts from today.

I felt with my whole body that six months living under capitalism was like my daily life under socialism. This was how much I felt that life in South Korea, at a physical level, demanded a lot.

I am sorry to people around the world who celebrate Christmas, but that day, I cursed Christmas

Amidst all this, I couldn’t decide how to accept everything, and I greeted Christmas abruptly, unready for its arrival.

It felt as if Christmas’s family atmosphere pushed against me ceaselessly. All this time, I had been busy and surrounded by numerous people, but suddenly, there was time to spare and I felt lonely. Paradoxically, I felt the same way as I had when I was desperate to leave North Korea.

To get rid of this feeling, I went to a movie theater alone. But with all the noise of people around me, my sense of alienation multiplied. I felt diminished as some couples around me secretively threw sharp glances.

In the end, I walked out in the middle of the movie – which I don’t even remember the name of – went home, and drank beer while watching soccer.

I am sorry to people around the world who celebrate Christmas, but that day, I cursed Christmas. Truthfully, it was probably deep down a curse at the North Korean regime, which pushes so many of its ordinary citizens out of the country and makes them refugees.

family photo

“We drank to the health of parents and siblings who were left in North Korea and to their happiness in the new year” | Photo by nknews_hq

I decided then: I would never foolishly spend holidays at home alone.

After that, I traveled whenever a holiday approached – alone or together with someone. It is one way to enjoy a holiday. But even the prescription of traveling was inadequate to completely fill the emptiness that was hidden deep inside of me.

One day, it occurred to me that there must be people other than myself who do not like Christmas or holidays. I asked friends who had come from North Korea like me. I was right. They felt the same pain that I felt, but they had simply not expressed it out loud.

Now I can shout “Merry Christmas!” and it does not feel awkward

We spent last Christmas together, and it was fun. We became family for one another. The toast we made while listening to Christmas bells together was not at all frivolous in meaning. We drank to the health of parents and siblings who were left in North Korea and to their happiness in the new year. We shared memories.

Then we promised that we would spend the next Christmas together.

This year, we have a new plan. This Christmas, we want to visit schools that defector children attend. Among these children, there are many who came to South Korea alone, without parents or relatives.

We want to go to these schools and give and receive comfort. We are going to sing Christmas carols and share delicious food together. If the snow has deeply piled up, we are going to make a snowman.

kids photo

“This Christmas, we want to visit schools that defector children attend” | Photo by nknews_hq

The friends with whom I spent last Christmas and their boyfriends or girlfriends will join. New friends will also be there. All these hearts will envelop and hold one another.

Now I can shout “Merry Christmas!” and it does not feel awkward. And I am looking forward to Christmas this year.

I am looking forward as well to the day when North Korean children can happily imagine Santa Claus riding a sleigh led by Rudolf and coming down the chimney carrying gifts.

Translation by Rose Kwak

Edited by Bryan Betts

Featured Image: Christmas #27 by kevin dooley on 2009-12-10 10:20:55

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US-China Contingency Plans On North Korea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE KOREAN HERALD)

 

[News Focus] US-China contingency plans on NK: what do they mean for South Korea?

By Yeo Jun-suk

  • Published : Dec 21, 2017 – 18:41
  • Updated : Dec 21, 2017 – 18:41
  •     

 In November 1950, the United States and China went to war. It was five months into the Korean War when US troops crossed the 38th parallel, marched toward North Korea and clashed with the Chinese troops coming to the rescue of their communist ally.

The war continued for about three years, costing the lives of 36,000 American troops and more than a quarter of a million Chinese troops. The Korean War came to an end when the two sides agreed to an armistice. South Korea opposed the peace talks and refused to sign the armistice agreement.

With North Korea’s relentless pursuit of a nuclear weapons program raising fear of another major armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula, the two powers appear to be bracing for a possible contingency, but this time the focus is on how to work together in the event of a sudden collapse of the North Korean regime.

US State Secretary Rex Tillerson. Yonhap

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently offered a glimpse into the secret contingency plan. He revealed that the Trump administration had assured China’s leadership that if US forces crossed into North Korea to seize nuclear weapons, the troops would do their work and then retreat to the South.

“We have had conversations that if something happened and we had to go across a line, we have given the Chinese assurances we would go back and retreat back to the south of the 38th parallel,” Tillerson said in remarks at the Atlantic Council on Dec. 12.

The South Korea-US wartime scheme, Operations Plan 5015, includes military campaigns to address North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction. The plan calls for the allies’ Special Forces to penetrate into North Korean territory to secure its nuclear weapons before they became operational.

OPLAN 5015, whose operational details are classified, reportedly does not spell out exactly who would control the North Korean territory after the mission is completed in a situation where the Chinese troops would most likely march into the North.

Hence, Tillerson’s discussion on contingency plans with the Chinese government is causing jitters among South Korean policymakers and military planners, experts said, rekindling deep-rooted worries that the two superpowers might determine Korea’s fate once again.

“We believe it is inappropriate for us to discuss or assess the remarks by the US secretary of state,” Choi Hyun-soo, a spokesperson of the Ministry of National Defense, said in response to a question about whether the South Korean military had consulted with the US government on the matter.

South Korea’s Constitution declares North Korea a part of its territory that needs to be reclaimed eventually, but most analysts doubt whether such a position would be recognized by the international community and neighboring countries, who view North Korea as a sovereign state.

Some experts said that Tillerson’s idea is part of a “grand deal” between the US and China, which involves a scenario where the US may cede North Korean territory to the Chinese military if they help the US remove North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction.

In his column on the Wall Street Journal in August, Henry Kissinger said that “understanding” between Washington and Beijing is a prerequisite to resolving the nuclear standoff. Before the publication of the article, he had reportedly suggested to Tillerson that the US could make a pledge to Beijing that it would withdraw its troops from South Korea after the collapse of North Korea.

“My impression is that the US appears to be floating the idea of a grand bargain by Kissinger to the Chinese government,” said Yun Duk-min, former chancellor of the Seoul-based security think tank Korea National Diplomatic Academy.

There is no indication that China has responded to Tillerson’s proposal, or that military officials have met to discuss the idea, a taboo subject for Beijing, which has refused to discuss the idea out of concern that it would worsen the already tense relationship with North Korea

However, calls for developing contingency plans appear to be gaining ground among Chinese security and military experts, as they have publicly urged the country to prepare for any eventuality amid growing frustration with its wayward ally’s relentless nuclear ambition.

Retired Chinese Army Lt. Gen. Wang Hongguang called for mobilizing troops along the border with North Korea to prevent conflicts in the region, warning that a war could break out on the Korean Peninsula at “any time,” even within the next several months.

“China should be psychologically prepared for a potential Korean war, and the northeast China regions should be mobilized for that. … Such mobilization is not to launch a war, but for defensive purposes,” Wang told an annual forum hosted by the Chinese Global Times newspaper Saturday.

A South Korean newspaper reported Monday that China last year conducted a simulated military drill aimed at taking control of nuclear facilities similar to the Yongbyon nuclear reactor. China’s Defense Ministry has yet to issue any public statements.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry declined to confirm the report, saying it is not a matter that the South Korean government can discuss, while highlighting that the government is preparing for “various eventualities” on the Korean Peninsula.

China has also been quietly building a network of refugee camps along its border with North Korea — at least five in Jilin province — as it braces for a human exodus in the event of the regime’s sudden collapse, according to a leaked internal document from a state-run telecoms giant China Mobile.

David Straub, a former US diplomat, said China has shown more willingness to discuss a possible contingency in North Korea, though the issue is still too sensitive for Beijing to raise first.

“It seems pretty clear that the Chinese security experts and analysts are becoming more concerned that there might be a real possibility of unexpected developments,” said Straub, a Sejong-LS fellow at the Sejong Institute.

“In the past, the Chinese were reluctant even to listen to Americans talking about the conditions. Now I think the Chinese are quite happy to listen to what the Americans have to say and probably take careful notes. … But I am still skeptical they have volunteered much to the US,” said Straub.

([email protected])

Japan Approves Expansion of Missile Defense System to Confront North Korea Threat

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Japan Approves Expansion of Missile Defense System to Confront North Korea Threat

Tuesday, 19 December, 2017 – 09:15
The Japanese government approved on Tuesday a decision to expand its ballistic missile defense system to counter North Korea’s missile threat. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat

The Japanese government approved on Tuesday a decision to expand its ballistic missile defense system to counter North Korea’s missile threat.

The system will be backed with US-made ground-based Aegis radar stations and interceptors. A proposal to build two Aegis Ashore batteries was approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet.

The sites without the missiles will likely cost at least $2 billion and are not likely to be operational until 2023 at the earliest, sources familiar with the plan told Reuters earlier.

The decision to acquire the ground version of the Aegis missile-defense system, which is already deployed on Japanese warships, was widely expected.

“North Korea’s nuclear missile development poses a new level of threat to Japan and as we have done in the past we will ensure that we are able to defend ourselves with a drastic improvement in ballistic missile defense,” Japanese Minister of Defense Itsunori Onodera told reporters after the cabinet meeting.

North Korea on November 29 tested a new, more powerful ballistic missile that it says can hit major US cities including Washington, and fly over Japan’s current defense shield.

That rocket reached an altitude of more than 4,000 km (2,485 miles), well above the range of interceptor missiles on Japanese ships operating in the Sea of Japan.

North Korea says its weapons programs are necessary to counter US aggression.

The new Aegis stations may not, however, come with a powerful radar, dubbed Spy-6, which is being developed by the United States.

Without it, Japan will not be able to fully utilize the extended range of a new interceptor missile, the SM-3 Block IIA, which cost about $30 million each.

A later upgrade, once the US military has deployed Spy-6 on its ships around 2022, could prove a costly proposition for Japan as outlays on new equipment squeeze its military budget.

Initial funding will be ring-fenced in the next defense budget beginning in April, but no decision has been made on the radar, or the overall cost, or schedule, of the deployment, a Ministry of Defense official said at a press briefing.

Japan’s military planners also evaluated the US-built THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system before deciding on Aegis Ashore.

Separately, Japan’s defense minister said this month Japan would acquire medium-range cruise missiles it can launch from its F-15 and F-35 fighters at sites in North Korea, in a bid to deter any attack.

The purchase of what will become the longest-range munitions in Japan’s military arsenal is controversial because it renounced the right to wage war against other nations in its post-World War Two constitution.

Earlier, Japan and South Korea urged China to do more to “pressure” North Korea to end its nuclear and missile programs, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said on Tuesday.

North Korea has boasted of developing a missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and reaching the mainland United States in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions and international condemnation, including from its lone major ally, China.

“China is currently implementing the United Nations Security Council resolutions (on North Korea), but China can probably do more,” Kono said after talks with South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha.

“We agreed on the need to put pressure firmly on North Korea.”

The US Navy’s top officer said on Tuesday said that vessels from eastern Pacific could be brought forward to reinforce US naval power in Asia as Washington contends with increased threats in the region.

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have exchanged bellicose rhetoric in recent weeks, with Trump threatening to destroy North Korea if provoked, while US diplomats have stressed the importance of diplomacy.

Trump on Monday unveiled a new national security strategy, again saying Washington had to deal with the challenge posed by North Korea’s weapons programs.

Full-Page Feature on Nuclear Radiation Survival Stirs Panic in China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

A Local Newspaper’s Full-Page Feature on Nuclear Radiation Survival Stirs Panic in China

Jilin Daily’s full page feature on nuclear radiation.

On December 6, 2017, Jilin Daily published a full-page feature on nuclear weapons and how to protect oneself in case of a nuclear radiation. This led many, in particular, residents from northern China to ask if the newspaper report is an anticipation of a United States military action against North Korea’s missile test.

Jilin province is located in north China near North Korea. Jilin Daily is affiliated with the local government of the province.

On November 29, North Korea launched a test on an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching all part of U.S. mainland. Earlier, U.S. President Donald Trump warned to bring a “rain” of “fire and fury” on North Korea if the country’s leader Kim Jong Un continued to threaten U.S. security. China, in particular the northern part of China, would be affected by the “rain”.

Meanwhile, another leaked document from Jilin’s China mobile company indicated that the Jilin government has established five refugee sites in Changbai province, which shares 260 kilometers of border with North Korea.

Public discussion regarding potential warfare in North Korea was deleted quickly from social media platforms. Even party-affiliated Global Times had to withdraw its editorial upon publishing online (retrieved via Voices of America):

Currently, tension is mounting in the Korean Peninsula. North Korea has launched six nuclear tests and it is believed that the country is already equipped with a nuclear bomb. Moreover, its missile launching technology has reached a breakthrough this year and has successfully launched a missile that can reach all parts of the U.S. continent. The U.S has vowed that it would destroy North Korea economy and exercise military pressure. The risk of military conflict between the U.S and North Korea has escalated. Jilin shares border with North Korea, the whole page feature on nuclear radiation precaution is believed to be a reaction to the risk of warfare in the Korean peninsula.

Despite censorship, anxious posts about military conflicts keep popping up on popular Chinese social media platform Weibo. One Weibo user believes that the news feature published by Jilin Daily was approved by the central government:

This is not a joke. You all know that news censorship in China is very strict. Such kind of content has to be approved by senior officials before circulation. The leaders want to tell you something but can’t say that explicitly. Fellows in Dongbei (northern China), please observe the U.S consulate in Shenyang, if they retreat, run away.

Even though state-affiliated news outlets had tried to downplay the possibility of a war, many are still worried about radiation if military action was taken by the U.S. against North Korea’s nuclear facilities:

Even if the nuclear missile exploded in the sky, Dongbei area will still be endangered, right?

More critical comments blamed the government for the nuclear crisis:

To prevent a North Korea nuclear missile attack, South Korea and Japan are equipped with Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), MIM-104 Patriot and Aircraft Carriers; Taiwan has Phased Array Warning System, Russia has Voronezh-M radar system as precaution. China is the only country which cannot clearly detect and counter North Korea missiles. Now with the threat of H-bomb, people in Jilin can only rely on newspapers which educate people with radiation common sense. Where have all the patriotic youths who protested against the THAAD by crushing Korean vehicles gone? Shouldn’t you be standing in the front line?

Since government with Chinese character [China government] has been supporting North Korea in secret, the country eventually got its nuclear weapon. Now it is threatening the security of all people in the world. Hence, the government with Chinese character should be responsible for all adverse effects of the North Korea nuclear crisis.

U.N. And North Korea Officials Agree Situation is Most Dangerous Security Issue in World

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME NEWS)

 

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By ASSOCIATED PRESS

9:44 AM EST

(UNITED NATIONS) — The United Nations says its political chief and North Korea’s foreign minister agree that the current situation on the Korean peninsula is the most dangerous security issue in the world.

U.N. Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman returned Friday from a four-day visit to North Korea, where he met with officials including North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric says Saturday that Feltman and his hosts agreed that the Korean situation is “the most tense and dangerous peace and security issue” in the world today.”

Feltman’s visit came at a time of high tension between North Korea, South Korea, Japan and the United States, sparked by North Korea’s frequent missile launches.

Dujarric says Feltman told the North Koreans there can only be a diplomatic solution.

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North Korea’s latest missile launch puts Washington, D.C., in range

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

North Korea’s latest missile launch appears to put Washington, D.C., in range


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (KCNA via Reuters)
 November 28 at 4:26 PM
 North Korea appears to have launched another intercontinental ballistic missile, the Pentagon said Tuesday, with experts calculating that Washington, D.C., is now technically within Kim Jong Un’s reach.The launch, the first in more than two months, is a sign that the North Korean leader’s regime is pressing ahead with its stated goal of being able to strike the United States mainland.

“We will take care of it,” President Trump told reporters at the White House. It is a “situation we will handle.”

The missile traveled some 620 miles and reached a height of about 2,800 miles before landing off the coast of Japan early Wednesday local time, flying for a total of 54 minutes. This suggested it had been fired almost straight up — on a “lofted trajectory” similar to North Korea’s two previous ICBM tests.

 3:11
Why does North Korea hate the U.S.? Look to the Korean War.

Why does North Korea hate the U.S.? Look to the Korean War. 

If it had been flown on a standard trajectory designed to maximize its reach, this missile would have a range of more than 8,100 miles, said David Wright, co-director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“This is significantly longer than North Korea’s previous long-range tests, which flew on lofted trajectories for 37 minutes and 47 minutes,” Wright said. “Such a missile would have more than enough range to reach Washington, D.C.”

The U.S. capital is 6,850 miles from Pyongyang.

Although it may be cold comfort, it is still unlikely that North Korea is capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the U.S. mainland.

Scientists do not know the weight of the payload the missile carried, but given the increase in range, it seems likely that it carried a very light mock warhead, Wright said. “If true, that means it would not be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to this long distance, since such a warhead would be much heavier,” he said in a blog post.

The Pentagon said the missile did indeed appear to be an ICBM.

“Initial assessment indicates that this missile was an intercontinental ballistic missile,” a Pentagon spokesman, Col. Robert Manning, said of the launch.

The South Korean and Japanese governments both convened emergency national security council meetings, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said such launches “cannot be tolerated.”

In Washington, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the missile was fired “higher, frankly, than any previous shots” that North Korea has taken.

He said Kim Jong Un’s continued effort to develop nuclear weapons “endangers world peace, regional peace and certainly he United States.”

The missile was launched just before 3 a.m. Wednesday local time from the western part of North Korea.

Japan’s Defense Ministry said it landed in waters inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, off the coast of Aomori prefecture. The coast guard told ships to watch for falling debris, and the Japanese government condemned the launch.

South Korea’s military conducted a “precision strike” missile launch exercise in response, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Although it was the firstNorth Korean missile launch in more than two months, there had been signs that the North was making preparations. The Japanese government had detected radio signals suggesting that North Korea might be preparing for a ballistic missile launch, Kyodo News reported Monday, citing government sources.

Pyongyang has been working to fit a nuclear warhead to a missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, a weapon it says it needs to protect itself from a “hostile” Washington. It has made rapid progress this year, firing two intercontinental ballistic missiles in July, the second of which was technically capable of reaching as far as Denver or Chicago, or possibly even New York.

A senior South Korean official said Tuesday that North Korea could announce next year that it has completed its nuclear weapons program.

“North Korea has been developing its nuclear weapons at a faster-than-expected pace. We cannot rule out the possibility that North Korea could announce its completion of a nuclear force within one year,” Cho Myoung-gyon, the unification minister, who is in charge of the South’s relations with the North, told foreign reporters in Seoul.

Kim Jong Un opened 2017 with a New Year’s address announcing that North Korea had “entered the final stage of preparation for the test launch of intercontinental ballistic missile.”

Then, in July, his regime launched two ICBMs, the first on U.S. Independence Day. The second, on July 28, flew almost straight up for 45 minutes and reached a height of about 2,300 miles before crashing into the sea off Japan. But if it had been launched on a normal trajectory designed to maximize its range, it could have flown 6,500 miles, experts said.

After its most recent missile launch, an intermediate-range missile that flew over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido on Sept. 15 , North Korea said it was seeking military “equilibrium” with the United States as a way to stop American leaders from talking about military options for dealing with Pyongyang.

That was the second launch over Japan in less than three weeks and came less than two weeks after North Korea exploded what was widely believed to be a hydrogen bomb.

Those events triggered ire overseas, with Trump denouncing North Korea’s regime during a speech to the United Nations General Assembly and mocking Kim as “little rocket man.”

That label triggered an angry and unusually direct response from the North Korean leader, who called Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” and warned the U.S. president that he would “pay dearly” for his threat to destroy North Korea.

But despite an increase in tensions over the past two months, including a U.S. Navy three-carrier strike group conducting military exercises in the sea between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, 74 days had passed without any missile launches by the North.

That was the longest pause all year, according to Shea Cotton, a research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif. North Korea has now tested 20 missiles this year, compared with 24 by this time last year.

The pause had raised hopes that North Korea might be showing interest in returning to talks about its nuclear program.

In a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations late last month, Joseph Yun, the State Department’s special representative for North Korea policy, said that if North Korea went 60 days without testing a missile or a nuclear weapon, it could be a sign that Pyongyang was open to dialogue.

Damian Daily

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