We all know that there are a lot of tensions and banter going on right now between North Korea’s insane Dictator Kim Jong Un and the massively ignorant American President Donald ‘Fake News’ Trump. They flap their lips like a couple of sixth graders from two different schools acting as if nothing can happen to them because of their crowing. I believe that President Trump is simply a person that wants to win everything he touches, so that he can brag about it, regardless of the cost to other people. Here in the U.S. we at least have some checks and balances built into our political and military system, North Korea does not have any such thing. In North Korea there are no organizations to check the balance of military or political power that Kim Jong Un has garnered unto himself. This idiot, just like his father and grandfather before him think that they are living Gods. This is pure stupidity seeing that dear old Dad and Grandpa are dead and Kim Jong Un and the North Korean people know this.
Are you familiar with the term ‘cutting off the head of the snake’? There is one thing that President Trump and our top Diplomats need to make absolutely factual to Kim Jong Un and this is that if he attacks any American lands or the lands of any of our Allies like South Korea, Japan or the people of Guam that he personally will be dead before that day is over. The North Korean military Generals need to be given that same message, if they attack anyone that they personally are dead men walking. We the people of the world are seeing two men (I am using that term very loosely) with massive ego’s who do not know how to shut up, no matter how many millions of people who may die because of their ignorance. People like Kim Jong Un only care about themselves, this is why it is imperative that he understands that if he attacks, he personally will die that same day. I believe that if we cannot get this reality through the thick skull of this lunatic very soon (the one in North Korea) millions of innocent people may end up being murdered.
In a statement Wednesday, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said parties should “avoid remarks and actions that could aggravate conflicts and escalate tensions.”
“China calls on all relevant sides to uphold the broad direction of resolving the North Korean nuclear issue through political means,” the statement said.
Tong Zhao, associate at the Carnegie Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, told CNN the recent tensions come at a time when Beijing is keen to promote stability ahead of the 19th Communist Party National Congress, China’s twice a decade handover of power scheduled for later this year.
“China has other regional crises as well, the border dispute with India, the South China Sea … it’s really bad timing for another real crisis to emerge in North Korea,” Zhao said.
Speaking at the Trump National Golf Club in New Jersey Tuesday, the US president said North Korea would face might “like the world has never seen” if it continued to make threats.
Gary Samore: Korea de-nuclearization unrealistic06:07
Any armed conflict between the two adversaries would be “the worst case scenario” for China, Zhao added, saying there was no indication yet how Chinese President Xi Jinping would react to any hostilities.
Military action on Korean Peninsula?
In recent months, there have been some hints of preparations by China in case the worst should happen and war breaks out in North Korea.
But Zhao said even China is unsure who it would support in the event of any armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
“There are too many uncertain variables — who initiates it? Who bears more responsibility? How will the war affect the economy? Too much uncertainty and I don’t think China can give a simple answer about how it will respond,” he said.
Part of the problem is the strict silence imposed on Chinese media and academics by Beijing, according to Zhao, making it harder to discern what discussions are taking place behind closed doors.
“China has been very secretive about North Korea so it’s hard to tell, hard to find those signs,” he said.
A potential conflict between North Korea and the United States isn’t the only military threat hanging over China’s head.
“It’s possible that military conflict could break out with India,” Zhao said.
China seeks calm before congress
China is determined to present a stable and powerful image in advance of the 19th Party Congress. Held by the country’s ruling Communist Party every five years, it’s when Beijing unveils the new leadership team for the next half decade.
But Zhao said an increasingly erratic North Korea is now threatening to overshadow the Communist Party’s big day.
Beijing has maintained a clear and consistent position on North Korea for months, calling on multiple occasions for Pyongyang to halt its nuclear weapons program in exchange for the US and South Korea holding off on military drills.
Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at Sydney’s Lowy Institute, says there has been no indication of a change in policy from Beijing.
“(But) the problem is having essentially bet his credibility on a tweet back in January … it is hard for Trump to restore it without escalating to a military solution. That obviously would be the latest worry in Beijing,” he said.
But Graham added despite the difficult position China found itself in, there was one silver lining to the North Korean cloud.
“The sanctions bill which went through the UN recently didn’t target Chinese entities directly … they’ll actually be relieved they’re not being directly targeted by the US as many have feared,” he said.
CNN’s Will Ripley and Steven Jiang contributed reporting.
Iran’s President Hassan Rowhani meets with North Korea’s ceremonial head of state, Kim Yong-Nam in 2013.
Amid new U.S. sanctions, North Korea‘s “No. 2” official began a 10-day visit to Iran on Thursday that could result in the two sides expanding their ties.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported Kim Yong Nam, chairman of the Supreme Assembly of North Korea, arrived Thursday for the weekend inauguration ceremony for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
But given the head of North Korea’s parliament is expected to stay for 10 days in Iran, the trip is being seen as a front for other purposes, including expanding military cooperation. At the same time, Pyongyang is looking for ways to counter sanctions and to boost the hard currency for Kim Jong Un’s regime.
“There could be very problematic cooperation going on because of the past history and because it makes strategic sense, especially for Iran now,” said Emily Landau, a senior research fellow at the Israeli-based Institute for National Security Studies and head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program. INSS is an independent think tank affiliated with Tel Aviv University.
The man whom Iran described as the North’s “No. 2” is believed to be traveling with a delegation of other officials from Pyongyang, including economic and military officials.
“For North Korea, it’s not a question of ideology,” Landau said. “It’s not a question of being close politically and maybe in terms of any of their religious orientation. It’s all about who can pay in hard cash. That’s what makes North Korea a very dangerous source of nuclear technology, components and know-how.”
Last month, Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo said in a speech at the Intelligence and National Security Alliance that he had “created two new mission centers aimed at focusing on putting a dagger in the heart of the Korean problem and the problem in Iran.”
“Both the North Koreans and Iranians feel a serious threat from the United States and the West and sort of see each other as very different countries but facing a somewhat similar situation,” said Matthew Bunn, a nuclear proliferation expert and professor of practice at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
In July, nuclear-armed North Korea conducted two tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile. Iran could have an ICBM capability similar to North Korea within a few years, as just last week it successfully launched a satellite-carrying rocket that some see as a precursor to long-range ballistic missile weapon capability.
“There’s been fairly extensive cooperation on missiles,” said Bunn. “And in fact, early generations of Iranian missiles were thought to be basically modestly adapted North Korean missiles.”
For example, Tehran’s Shahab-3 ballistic missile, capable of reaching Saudi Arabia from Iranian land, is based on technology from North Korea’s Nodong-1 rockets. Iran’s Ghadir small submarine, which in May conducted a cruise-missile test, is a vessel remarkably similar to those used by Pyongyang.
There’s still a bit of a mystery on the nuclear side, but some former CIA analysts have previously said Iranian scientists have attended nuclear tests in North Korea. There have been recent reports North Korea may be preparing for its sixth nuclear test.
Tehran’s hands are tied due to the international nuclear agreement, although there’s a possibility it could quietly be teaming up with North Korea on nuclear research and doing it from the Korean Peninsula.
“The fact they are cooperating so closely on the missile realm is cause to believe that there could be even more cooperation going on even directly in the nuclear realm,” said Landau, the Israeli-based national security expert.
Bunn, however, isn’t so sure there’s currently any collaboration on the nuclear side between the two regimes but said “there’s a real danger potential” of it happening.
BEIJING — Xi Jinping, China’s leader, is known as the Chairman of Everything. He makes decisions daily on the economy, the military, foreign policy, human rights and more.
Yet on North Korea he is stuck. A strongman who usually acts with precision and boldness, Mr. Xi has been reluctant to take on the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, ostensibly a Chinese ally, whom he privately disparages to Western leaders as young and reckless.
The answer? He will probably do little, if anything.
As much as Mr. Xi disapproves of North Korea’s nuclear program, he fears even more the end of Mr. Kim’s regime, a unified Korea with American troops on his border and a flood of refugees from the North into China. And despite North Korea’s missile advancement on Tuesday, Mr. Xi still has some breathing room, Chinese military and strategic experts said.
Chinese military experts are assessing the launch more conservatively than their American counterparts, saying they were not convinced the missile was actually an intercontinental ballistic missile.
“This test may or may not be an ICBM,” said Wu Riqiang, associate professor of international affairs at Renmin University. He said the missile was “probably unable to hit Alaska.”
In contrast, American experts said the North Koreans had crossed a threshold, if only just, with a missile that appeared able to reach Alaska. While the missile traveled only about 580 miles, it did so by reaching 1,700 miles into space and re-entering the atmosphere, North Korean, South Korean and Japanese officials said.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry suggested on Wednesday that the North’s missile had the potential to reach Hawaii, about 4,780 miles from Kusong, the North Korean town from where the missile was fired, and farther than Alaska.
On Wednesday, the top American general in South Korea, Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, said that self-restraint was all that kept the United States and South Korea from going to war with the North.
Mr. Wu said the North’s long-range missile capabilities were less threatening to China than to the United States. China would be more concerned if the North had tested a short- or medium-range ballistic missile, he said.
China has always considered itself to be less threatened by North Korean nuclear capabilities than the United States, but it does fear American countermeasures, like its recent deployment of an antimissile system on South Korean soil to deal with the threat from the North. South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, recently suspended deployment of that system, and there was no sign after the North’s missile launch that he was changing that position.
China may be increasingly frustrated by the North’s behavior, but it has never been the target of Mr. Kim’s weapons. The United States is the North’s declared enemy and the ultimate target of its nuclear arsenal.
More worrisome to China than the missile advances was the prospect of North Korea’s sixth test of a nuclear bomb, Mr. Wu and other experts said. China’s northeast, a depressed area of smaller cities and rusted industries, runs along the border with North Korea, not far from the tests. The nuclear testing site at Punggye-ri in North Korea is so close to the Chinese border that residents in the city of Yanji have complained that their windows rattled during the last several tests.
When the North tested a nuclear weapon in September 2016, local residents said they were afraid of large-scale leaks of radioactive material. Some said they were concerned that the North may actually use the bomb against China. There have been fears in the last few years of soil contamination in the northeast from the North’s nuclear testing.
“For China, a sixth nuclear test represents a graver threat than an ICBM test,” said Feng Zhang, a fellow in political science at the Australian National University. “North Korea’s ICBMs threaten the U.S. more than China, but North Korea’s nuclear weaponsand the testing of them near the Chinese border are a strategic and environmental threat to China.”
Mr. Wu said, “The missile launch just isn’t as pressing for China as a nuclear test might be.”
But no matter the North’s behavior, it would be very difficult for Mr. Xi to declare a red line with Pyongyang, either officially or unofficially, said Cheng Xiaohe, associate professor of international relations at Renmin University.
“The ICBM is not a Chinese red line — even the U.S. does not draw that line clearly and unequivocally,” Mr. Cheng said. If China did draw such a red line, he said, “China or the U.S. must automatically take retaliatory actions,” such as Beijing cutting off oil supplies to North Korea.
But China cannot afford to squeeze the North so hard — by cutting off fuel, for example, or basic trade — that the country destabilizes, sending refugees pouring over the border.
Mr. Xi is at least publicly expressing disapproval of North Korea’s latest actions. He was in Russia visiting President Vladimir V. Putin when the North announced it had successfully tested an ICBM. The two leaders issued a joint statement calling for negotiations that would aim to freeze the North’s arsenal in exchange for limitations on the American military posture in South Korea.
Instead of penalizing North Korea, China has been calling for such negotiations for many months, but the Trump administration has declined.
Beyond cracking down on trade between the two nations, Mr. Xi holds very few cards against North Korea, and he has little choice but to rely on a kind of strategic hesitation, said a Chinese analyst of foreign affairs who sometimes advises the government.
“Xi as a strategist is facing an anguished choice to use up his means on Kim Jong-un while having no confidence at all that it would be effective,” said the analyst, Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University. “What can this strategist do? A sort of hesitation is unavoidable.”
Mr. Xi is facing an increasingly “determined and decisive” Mr. Kim, and he is also confronted by an American president who is not easy to deal with, Mr. Shi said. “Xi and Trump are unable to see eye to eye for long, and even if they were it would extremely difficult to thwart Kim for long,” he said.
In Washington, Mr. Trump repeated his impatience with Mr. Xi. In a post on Twitter on Wednesday, the president said China’s trade with North Korea had grown by almost 40 percent in the first quarter. “So much for China working with us — but we had to give it a try,” he said.
It was not clear where Mr. Trump got his 40 percent figure. A South Korean trade group said on Monday that China had imported much more iron in the last few months than previously. But the group also said that the North was a long way from making up the lost revenues from China shutting down its North Korean coal imports.
China’s trade with the North grew 37.4 percent during the first three months of the year, compared with the same period in 2016, Chinese trade data released in April showed. China said the trade grew even as it stopped buying North Korean coal.
On Monday Liu Jieyi, China’s ambassador to the UN, warned of the risk of escalating tensions on the peninsula
This article is obviously only my personal opinion but it is an opinion that has developed over about 40 years of observations. I know that China has been propping up the North Korean Kim family of dictators now for at least the past 65 years. It is understandable that China would prefer an Ally on the peninsula over having another democracy on the peninsula as the Communist leadership in Beijing is scared of letting the people have freedom in their own country. Beijing is not a friend to anyone anywhere, this Communist Party Leadership is now making the biggest power grab on any Nation in my lifetime and I was born in 1956. The China that we see today claims several other countries to be theirs as well as the seas and the air over them. Folks China’s leadership is no ones friend, they play the long game and that game is total domination. China could have shut down North Korea’s missile program any time they chose to do so, it is obvious that they feel that allowing Kim Jong Un to continue his efforts is in their own best interest. The more the U.S. and the other regional democracy’s are spending their time and efforts toward North Korea the more productive they can be flying under the radar as they try to pretend to be friendly. They are like a pet python that is friendly (or so you think) until it decides to eat you. Just about a week ago the U.S. government put sanctions on a Beijing Bank because it was being used to funnel billions of dollars into North Korea which is against current UN sanctions. I know that personally I would much rather see one person be eliminated in North Korea than to see many thousands die because of that one person.
Back in 2003 when President George W Bush decided to illegally invade Iraq for the purpose of finding and killing Saddam and his two adult sons many thousands of people have died because of his egotistical decision. I said then as I say now about this monster in North Korea that it would have been much better to have killed those three monsters instead of blowing up the Iraqi infrastructure and causing so much damage to the citizens lives. I am rather sure that President Trump and his top Generals are and have been looking at how to do preventive strikes on the Leadership of North Korea and their missile program locations. I am sure that Beijing would be furious if we do such a thing yet if this does end up happening Beijing only have themselves to blame for it. There is no doubt (at least to me) that North Korea’s little crazy boy will make his own preventive strikes as soon as he can manage to get his missiles nuclear tipped and we can not allow this animal to do this. It is just my thoughts/opinion that he is getting his technology help from China and/or Russia as their missile technology is advancing very quickly. I believe that the free world must destroy all of North Korea’s missiles and to cut off the head of this python before he starts eating us instead of us waiting until we are halfway down its gullet.
North Korea claims to have conducted its first successful test of a long-range missile that it says can “reach anywhere in the world.”
Tuesday morning’s missile test, which was conducted on the orders of the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, reached a height of 2,802 kilometers (1,741 miles), according to state broadcaster Korea Central Television (KCTV).
That’s the highest altitude ever reached by a North Korean missile, and puts the US on notice that Pyongyang could potentially hit the US mainland.
The regime appears to have timed the launch for maximum political effect, giving the order to fire on the eve of the July 4 holiday, just days after US President Donald Trump spoke with Japanese and Chinese leaders about the North Korea threat and before this week’s G20 meeting.
Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at Sydney’s Lowy Institute, said that one apparently successful test doesn’t necessarily mean that North Korea has the global capability it claimed.
“If the North Koreans are claiming they can launch an ICBM (to) anywhere in the world, that needs to be looked at through a technical lens,” he said, using the acronym for intercontinental ballistic missile.
“One successful test doesn’t get them over the bar; they’re claiming more than they can deliver at the moment.”
Most successful test yet
The missile, referred to as Hwasong-14 on state TV, flew into waters east of the Korean Peninsula and may have landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from its coastline, according to a Japanese defense official.
The US Pacific Command said it tracked the missile for 37 minutes and described it as a “land-based, intermediate range ballistic missile.” Japan reported that its flight time was 40 minutes.
It was launched from Panghyon, in North Pyongan province, and traveled more than 930 kilometers (578 miles), according to South Korea’s military — further than a May 14 missile launch that analysts described as its most successful test ever. That launch reached a then-record altitude of around 2,100 kilometers (1,300 miles).
South Korea’s evaluation found the missile had an “improved range” compared to the May missile, said Cho Han-gyu, the director of operations for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
A photo from the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) purports to show the missile launch.
Bruce Bennett, senior international/defense researcher at RAND Corp., said North Korea had aimed high to limit the distance traveled and avoid a major international incident.
“You can’t hardly fire a missile from North Korea that’s got a thousand-kilometer range without it going into somebody’s exclusive economic zone. The bottom line is, they’ve flown it very high so that they can test the range of the missile. If they were to shoot it on a normal trajectory, it’s probably going to go out 6,000 or so kilometers. By definition, anything over 5,500 kilometers is an ICBM,” he said.
Russia, which shares a small border with North Korea, cast doubt on Pyongyang’s claim that an ICBM was fired.
The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement it believes the missile reached an altitude of only 535 kilometers (332 miles) and traveled 510 kilometers (317 miles), according to state-run Sputnik news.
“The parametric data of the ballistic target’s trajectory matches the performance characteristics of a medium-range ballistic missile,” the statement said.
How much damage can North Korea’s weapons do?
Trump responds to launch
It’s North Korea’s 11th missile test this year and comes amid increasing frustration from Trump about the lack of progress in curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Soon after the launch, but before North Korea announced its unprecedented height, the US President responded on Twitter.
“North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?” Trump asked, referring to Kim.
“Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!”
Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, said the ICBM test puts the US in a difficult negotiating position.
“I think there’s room for negotiation, but it’s not the kind of negotiations we want,” she said.
The US can now only work toward limiting, not eliminating, the North Korean missile threat to the US mainland, she added.
Why does North Korea hate the US?
Asian powers condemn action
China, North Korea’s northern neighbor and one of the only countries in the region with diplomatic ties to Pyongyang, urged restraint after the launch.
“The situation on the Korean Peninsula is sensitive and complex,” said Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang. “We hope all relevant parties will exercise restraint and avoid taking actions that may escalate tensions.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Moscow to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin. Neither has commented on the launch.
South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in warned North Korea not to cross the “bridge of no return” and called on China to play a stronger role in resolving the situation.
Language from the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Cho was much more dire in tone.
“If North Korea ignores South Korean military’s warning and carries on reckless provocations, we warn that the Kim Jong Un regime will face its destruction,” Cho said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the launch “ignores repeated warnings from the international community,” and shows the threat had “further increased.”
North Korea’s Hwasong-14 missile in a photo handed out by North Korean state media.
‘Out of control’?
Trump has repeatedly urged China to bring its influence to bear on the issue. He recently tweeted that Chinese efforts on North Korea, while appreciated, had “not worked out.”
On Monday Liu Jieyi, China’s ambassador to the UN, warned of the risk of escalating tensions on the peninsula.
“Certainly we would like to see a de-escalation of tension,” he said in remarks to the media as China assumed the United Nations Security Council presidency for July.
“Certainly if tension goes up and goes up only then sooner or later it will get out of control and the consequences will be disastrous,” Liu said.
CNN’s Paula Hancocks in Seoul, Yoko Wakatsuki in Tokyo and K.J. Kwon in Atlanta contributed to this report. Journalist Yoonjung Seo also contributed reporting from Seoul.
(COMMENTARY: FOR THE SAKE OF THE PEOPLE OF NORTH KOREA IT IS TIME FOR THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE WORLD TO REMOVE THE ANIMAL KIM JONG UN FROM POWER “BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY”)(TRS)
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)
Recently released North Korea detainee Otto Warmbier has suffered severe neurological damage, and his family flatly rejects the regime’s explanation for his condition, reporters were told Thursday in his Ohio hometown.
Warmbier, a 22-year-old college student who returned Tuesday to the United States after 17 months in detention, is in stable condition at University of Cincinnati Medical Center but has a “severe neurological injury,” hospital spokeswoman Kelly Martin said.
Martin declined to elaborate, saying doctors will share more information about Warmbier’s condition in a separate news conference Thursday afternoon.
But Warmbier’s father left no doubt he blames North Korea, blasting the secretive regime in a 23-minute news conference at his son’s alma mater, Wyoming High School, north of Cincinnati.
Student freed from North Korea lands in US
The family doesn’t believe North Korea’s explanation that Otto fell into a coma after contracting botulism and taking a sleeping pill shortly after he was sentenced in March 2016, Fred Warmbier said.
“Even if you believe their explanation of botulism and a sleeping pill causing a coma — and we don’t — there is no excuse for any civilized nation to have kept his condition a secret and denied him top-notch medical care for so long,” Warmbier said.
The father, wearing the cream sport coat his son wore during his televised trial in North Korea, stopped short of saying how he believed his son was injured.
“We’re going to leave that to the doctors (to explain) today,” he said.
Why does North Korea detain some US citizens?
He called on North Korea to release other American detainees.
“There’s no excuse for the way the North Koreans treated our son. And no excuse for the way they’ve treated so many others,” he said. “No other family should have to endure what the Warmbiers have.”
Conviction and release
Otto Warmbier was a University of Virginia student when he was detained in January 2016 at the airport in Pyongyang while on his way home. He had been on a tour of the reclusive country, his parent said.
North Korean authorities claimed they had security footage of him trying to steal a banner containing a political slogan that was hanging from a wall of his Pyongyang hotel.
That was used as evidence in his hourlong trial. He was found guilty of committing a “hostile act” against the country and sentenced in March 2016 to 15 years of hard labor. It was the last time he was seen publicly before this week.
His parents learned of their son’s condition — what North Korea called a coma — only last week, they said in a statement.
Critical of Obama administration
Fred Warmbier appeared critical of the Obama administration’s handling of Otto’s detention, saying the family heeded the US government’s initial advice to take a low profile “without result.”
In contrast, he praised the Trump administration’s efforts: “They have our thanks for bringing Otto home.”
When asked whether then-President Barack Obama could have done more, Fred Warmbier replied, “I think the results speak for themselves.”
“Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with Otto,” he said.
Rodman was asked by reporters Tuesday if he would bring up the cases of Warmbier and three other Americans detained in North Korea. “That’s not my purpose right now,” he said. “My purpose is to go over there and try to see if I can keep bringing sports to North Korea.”
The other Americans held by Pyongyang are Kim Sang Duk and Kim Hak-song, academics who worked at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, and businessman named Kim Dong Chul.
CNN’s Sol Han and Elise Labott contributed to this report
PYONGYANG, North Korea — Dennis Rodman, the former NBA bad boy who has palled around with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, flew back to Pyongyang on Tuesday for the first time in Donald Trump’s presidency.
He said he is “just trying to open a door” on a mission that he thinks his former “Celebrity Apprentice” boss would support.
Rodman, one of the few people to know both of the nuclear-armed leaders, sported a black T-shirt advertising a marijuana cybercurrency as he talked to reporters briefly before his flight from Beijing to the North Korean capital.
Asked if he had spoken to Trump about his trip, he said, “Well, I’m pretty sure he’s pretty much happy with the fact that I’m over here trying to accomplish something that we both need.”
Rodman has received the red-carpet treatment on four past trips since 2013, but has been roundly criticized for visiting during a time of high tensions between the U.S. and North Korea over its weapons programs.
His entourage included Joseph Terwilliger, a professor who has accompanied Rodman on previous trips to North Korea.
Rodman said the issue of several Americans currently detained by North Korea is “not my purpose right now.”
In Tokyo, a visiting senior U.S. official said Rodman’s trip is as a private citizen.
“We are aware of his visit. We wish him well, but we have issued travel warnings to Americans and suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety,” U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon told reporters after discussing the North Korean missile threat and other issues with Japanese counterparts.
In 2014, Rodman arranged a basketball game with other former NBA players and North Koreans and regaled leader Kim Jong Un with a rendition of “Happy Birthday.” On the same trip, he suggested that an American missionary was at fault for his own imprisonment in North Korea, remarks for which he later apologized.
A foreign ministry official who spoke to The Associated Press in Pyongyang confirmed Rodman’s visit was expected but did not provide details. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the ministry had not issued a formal statement.
Any visit to North Korea by a high-profile American is a political minefield, and Rodman has been criticized for failing to use his influence on leaders who are otherwise isolated diplomatically from the rest of the world.
Americans are regarded as enemies in North Korea because the two countries never signed a peace treaty to formally end the 1950-53 Korean War. Thousands of U.S. troops are based in South Korea, and the Demilitarized Zone between the North and South is one of the most heavily fortified borders in the world.
A statement issued in New York by a Rodman publicist said the former NBA player is in the rare position of being friends with the leaders of both North Korea and the United States. Rodman was a cast member on two seasons of Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Rodman tweeted that his trip was being sponsored by Potcoin, one of a growing number of cybercurrencies used to buy and sell marijuana in state-regulated markets.
North Korea has been hailed by marijuana news outlets and British tabloids as a pothead paradise and maybe even the next Amsterdam of pot tourism. But the claim that marijuana is legal in North Korea is not true: The penal code lists it as a controlled substance in the same category as cocaine and heroin.
Americans have been sentenced to years in North Korean prisons for such seemingly minor offenses as stealing a political banner and likely could not expect leniency if the country’s drug laws were violated.
(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ISRAELI NEWS AGENCY HAARETZ)
North Korea Snarls at Israel After Defense Chief Calls Pyongyang ‘Crazy’
After Israel’s defense minister Lieberman says U.S.-North Korea tensions have implications for Israel, hermit kingdom lashes out at ‘only illegal possessor of nukes in the Middle East’
Haaretz Apr 29, 2017 6:07 PM
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Top IDF officer: U.S.-North Korea tensions could have effect on Israel’s security
Trump asserts major conflict with North Korea possible, but seeks diplomacy
North Korea unsuccessfully test-fires ballistic missile
North Korea lashed out at Israel on Saturday after Israel’s defense minister called the hermit kingdom’s regime a “crazy and radical group,” blamed it of being an ally of Syria’s Assad and the Lebanese group Hezbollah and said growing tensions between the U.S. and Pyongyang have “direct implications” for Israel.
A statement released by the North Korean Foreign Ministry called Avigdor Lieberman’s statement “reckless” and a form of “sordid and wicked behavior” that posed a “grave challenge to the DPRK.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman at a political event in 2016.
In the statement, North Korea blasted Israel as the “only illegal possessor of nukes in the Middle East under the patronage of the U.S.” It said Lieberman’s comments were part of a “cynical ploy” to escape criticism of the occupation “of the Arab territories” and “crimes against humanity.”
North Korea said it is “fully supporting the struggle of the Palestinian people… [of] establishing of an independent state with Kuds as its capital,” using the Arab name for Jerusalem.
In a warning to Israel, Pyongyang said “Israel would be well advised to think twice about the consequences [of] its smear campaign against the DPRK.”
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In an interview last week to the news site Walla, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that tensions between the U.S. and North Korea “have direct implications for Israel.”
“Kim Jong-un is an ally of Assad. From North Korea, through Iran, to Syria and Hezbollah,” Lieberman said, adding that country’s sole goal was “undermining global stability,” and calling the country’s leadership “a crazy and radical group.”
According to foreign reports, North Korea was involved in helping Syria build a nuclear reactor, which was destroyed in an attack attributed to Israel in 2007.
Undated image of a covert nuclear reactor built in Syria’s eastern desert after its Sept. 6, 2007 destruction.AP
Tensions in the peninsula
North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile on Saturday shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that failure to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes could lead to “catastrophic consequences”.
U.S. and South Korean officials said the test appeared to have failed, in what would be the North’s fourth straight unsuccessful missile test since March.
U.S. President Donald Trump, in an interview with Reuters on Thursday, praised Chinese leader Xi Jinping for “trying very hard” on North Korea but warned a “major, major conflict” was possible.
The North has been conducting missile and nuclear weapons related activities at an unprecedented rate and is believed to have made progress in developing intermediate-range and submarine-launched missiles.
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