North Korea Fires Another Ballistic Missile Over Japan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

(CNN) North Korea has fired a ballistic missile over northern Japan for the second time in less than a month, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Friday.

The unidentified ballistic missile was launched from the district of Sunan in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, home to the country’s main airport, the South Korean military said.
The missile flew about 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) and reached an altitude of 770 kilometers (480) miles. It landed in the Pacific Ocean, South Korea said.
The US Pacific Command said its initial assessment indicated that North Korea had fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile. There were conflicting reports from Japan on the type of missile fired, though the government stressed that analysis was ongoing.

The weapon that makes N. Korea more dangerous

The weapon that makes N. Korea more dangerous
A government warning, known as the J-Alert, said that “a missile” had passed over Hokkaido, northern Japan, before landing in the Pacific, NHK reported. “The government is advising people to stay away from anything that could be missile debris,” the broadcaster said.
Japan’s Coast Guard said no damage has been reported by the fallen object.
At a hastily convened press conference, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga called the launch an “excessive provocation.” The government was convening a National Security Council Meeting at the Prime Minister’s office, the country’s Defense Ministry said.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in also held a National Security meeting following the launch, according to an official at his office.
North Korea’s last missile test, on August 29, was also fired from near the Pyongyang airport and overflew northern Japan.
US President Donald Trump has been briefed on the launch. When asked by a pool reporter about the launch Thursday evening Washington time at a dinner reception, Trump did not comment.

First launch since nuclear test

The launch came just hours after the rogue nation responded to the United Nations Security Council’s unanimous approval of additional sanctions by threatening to “sink” Japan and reduce the US mainland into “ash and darkness.”
Those sanctions were prompted by North Korea’s sixth nuclear test that occurred on September 3, which Pyongyang said was a successful test of a hydrogen bomb.
That explosion created a magnitude-6.3 tremor, making it the most powerful weapon Pyongyang has ever tested.
The nuclear test prompted discussions inside South Korea about the the redeployment of US tactical nuclear weapons in the country, an idea that the majority of the country’s citizens approve of, according to recent polls.
But on Thursday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in dismissed the possibility, warning it could “lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia.”
“We need to develop our military capabilities in the face of North Korea’s nuclear advancement,” he told CNN in his first televised interview since North Korea’s sixth nuclear test. “I do not agree that South Korea needs to develop our own nuclear weapons or relocate tactical nuclear weapons in the face of North Korea’s nuclear threat. To respond to North Korea by having our own nuclear weapons will not maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula and could lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia.”
South Korea has been conducting its own military drills since the September 3 nuclear test. As the missile was launched Friday, the South Korean military was carrying out its own live-fire drill that involved launching a ballistic missile.
A rapid pace
2017 has been a year of rapid progress for North Korea’s missile program.
Less than six years into his reign, Kim Jong Un has tested more missiles than his father and grandfather combined. And this year has been no exception.
Prior to its most recent launch, the country has fired 21 missiles during 14 tests since February, further perfecting its technology with each launch.
There’s also a political aspect to the tests, analysts say.
“The North Koreans were especially defiant by firing this missile over Japan,” said Gordon Chang, the author of “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea takes on the World.”
“Basically, the North Koreans are saying we can’t be stopped, don’t even try to stop us,” he said.

Peaceful pressure

Moon’s strategy toward North Korea has drawn the wrath of US President Donald Trump, who accused the South Koreans of “appeasement” of their northern neighbors following the nuclear test.
WHY NORTH KOREA WANTS NUKES AND MISSILES

North Korea has long maintained it wants nuclear weapons and long-range missiles to deter the United States from attempting to overthrow the regime of Kim Jong Un.

Pyongyang looks at states such as Iraq — where Saddam Hussein was overthrown by the United States, and Libya — its late leader, Moammar Gadhafi, gave up his nuclear ambitions for sanctions relief and aid, only to be toppled and killed after the United States intervened in his country’s civil unrest — and believes that only being able to threaten the US mainland with a retaliatory nuclear strike can stop American military intervention.

Many experts say they believe North Korea would not use the weapons first. Kim values his regime’s survival above all else and knows the use of a nuclear weapon would start a war he could not win, analysts say.

The White House has been pursuing a strategy of what it calls “peaceful pressure” in dealing with North Korea — trying to build a global coalition to squeeze North Korea’s revenue and isolate it diplomatically so it will eventually put its missiles on the negotiating table.
China has been key to that strategy, as Beijing accounts for nearly 90% of all of North Korea’s imports, according to recent data from the United Nations.
Hours before the launch, Trump touted his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and their collaboration in addressing North Korea’s rapidly escalating missile and nuclear programs.
“We have a very good relationship with China and with the President of China. We are working on different things,” Trump said. “I can’t tell you, obviously, what I’m working on. But believe me, the people of this country will be very, very safe.”
“I think that a lot of effort is being put into this,” he added.

Trump ‘Ignorance’ Turns Kim Jong Un’s Hopes into Achievable Goals

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE 38 NORTH.ORG) (SOUTH KOREA)

 

Trump Turns Kim Jong Un’s Hopes into Achievable Goals

Three generations of North Korea’s Kim family have dreamed of getting the United States off the Korean peninsula. Now, the Trump administration appears to be doing everything it can to undermine the US-South Korean alliance that has vexed Pyongyang since the armistice that ceased the Korean War was signed 64 years ago.

During his election campaign, Donald Trump’s “America First” rhetoric caused broad and general consternation amongst US allies. Then, more than once, he suggested that maybe South Korea and Japan would have to go nuclear, raising the prospect that those countries couldn’t count on the US nuclear umbrella and should be thinking about fending for themselves.

As soon as he took office, Trump decided to walk away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-country trade agreement that did not include China. The TPP was widely seen as a move by the United States to reassure its allies and friends of its enduring security commitment to the region and to bind together non-Chinese economies in order to balance Beijing’s growing political and economic clout in the region. Withdrawal from the TPP was interpreted by some of America’s Asian partners, including South Korea, as a sign that the US was abandoning the region to Chinese influence.

In the spring of 2017, Trump suggested—during South Korea’s snap elections after the impeachment of Park Geun-hye—that Seoul should pay for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile battery that was negotiated under Park’s rule. The cost of the system is about $1 billion and the United States was to cover 100 percent of the costs, in part, because South Korean politicians and voters were deeply ambivalent about it. In order to make it politically palatable in South Korea, it at least had to come at no cost to the Korean taxpayer.

In the past month, Trump has made statements on two fronts that continue to profoundly undermine the US-ROK alliance. The first was his August 8 off-the-cuff “fire and fury” remarks. The second was his more deliberate disdain for the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) that has been in effect for five years. Negotiations began during the Bush administration and the FTA was signed in 2012 during President Obama’s first term. Trump is now threatening to unilaterally pull out of the deal, and soon.

In the meantime, Kim Jong Un is marching along at his own pace in his quest for a credible nuclear deterrent against the United States, as last week’s missile and nuclear tests reemphasize. Pyongyang chooses more or less provocative ways of testing its nukes and missiles, but it has an end game and several overlapping goals in mind. That end game isn’t nuclear war, which would lead to the destruction of North Korea and the end of the Kim dynasty. But driving a wedge between the United States and its allies, especially South Korea, is among the likely aims (or at least hopes). For that to work, however, it would depend on some “cooperation” from politicians in Seoul or Washington.

Historically, multiple US and ROK presidencies made sure that no unmanageable cracks emerged in the alliance in the 11 years since North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon in 2006. Four other nuclear tests as well as numerous missile tests have challenged the various administrations to stay on the same page. The allies pretty much did, even when their perspectives and approaches on North Korea significantly differed.

But that unified voice is now wavering. President Trump’s apparent willingness to entertain the idea of war on the Korean peninsula unnerves South Koreans, especially if started by unilateral US actions. After Trump responded to news that North Korea had miniaturized a nuclear warhead with threats with “fire and fury,” Pyongyang announced it was considering a missile strike around Guam. Trump in turn reacted by stating that if Kim “does something in Guam, it will be an event the likes of which nobody’s seen before, what will happen in North Korea.”

Later, on August 16, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in felt compelled to tell his citizens that he had “ruled out war” and that “Mr. Trump has already promised to consult with South Korea and get our approval for whatever option they will take against North Korea.” Still, ordinary South Koreans are starting to wonder if the United States is too keen on escalating this crisis towards a conflict for which they will pay the heaviest price.

Furthermore, the Moon government (and Abe’s in Tokyo) can’t help but have noticed that Washington has become much more animated over Pyongyang’s rapidly improving ICBM threat to the United States than the longer term ballistic missile and nuclear threat it has posed to US allies for at least a decade. The alliance structure is supposed to guarantee that both countries are absolutely committed to the defense of each other. US credibility in that regard is extremely strained if it appears Washington is willing to risk a regional war to prevent a theoretical attack on US soil.

US credibility as an economic partner is also at risk. In April, Trump called the Korea-US FTA “unacceptable” and “horrible.” The effects of the FTA are debatable and gently calling for a renegotiation of some parts of it may even be warranted. However, it was revealed this weekend that Trump was considering completely pulling the plug on the FTA as early as this month.

This takes place not only as the North Korea crisis grows, but also while China’s informal sanctions on South Korea for its deployment of the THAAD system in March continue to bite. Many Koreans already feel as if they deployed THAAD at the behest of the United States and have suffered economically for it. If Trump tears up the FTA now, it will seem that the US is turning its back to Seoul economically in a time of need. People are already frustrated at being buffeted between the strategic concerns of the region’s great powers.

The South Koreans I talk to increasingly wonder: If the economic relationship is not advantageous and the strategic one imperils their country, what is the value of this alliance anymore? It is a not a huge leap from there to the question: “Why do we keep the US presence here at all?” It appears Donald Trump is gifting the wedge that Pyongyang has long hoped for all along.

Andray Abrahamian is a Visiting Scholar at the Jeju Peace Institute and the Center for Korean Studies, UC Berkeley.

China is angry, but what can it do about North Korea?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS AND FROM ANDY TAI’S GOOGLE PLUS ACCOUNT)

 

China is angry, but what can it do about North Korea?

Xi Jinping has few options to bring Kim Jong-un into line but he also has to contend with the unpredictable Donald Trump

South Korea holds live-fire drills and warns of more launches by North

Chinese President Xi Jinping has few easy choices when dealing with North Korea.
 Chinese President Xi Jinping has few easy choices when dealing with North Korea. Photograph: Tyrone Siu/AP

On Friday afternoon, the eve of North Korea’s most powerful ever nuclear test, China’s football-loving president received a gift from the world’s greatest ever player.

“Good luck,” read the handwritten message from Pelé on a canary yellow Brazil jersey handed to Xi Jinping by his South American counterpart, Michel Temer.

Xi needs it. Experts say Kim Jong-un’s latest provocation – which some believe was deliberately timed to upstage the start of the annual Brics summit in China – exposes not only the scale of the North Korean challenge now facing China’s president but also his dearth of options.

“The Chinese are pissed off, quite frankly,” says Steve Tsang, the head of the Soas China Institute.

“But there is nothing much they will actually do about it. Words? UN statements and all that? Yes. But what can the Chinese actually do?”

Zhao Tong, a North Korea expert from the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing, believes there are a number of possible answers.

Sanctions or turning off the taps

The first is to further tighten sanctions on Kim’s regime by targeting its exports of textiles and clothing.

“After the last round of UN resolution sanctions, textile products and clothing is now the most important source of foreign income for North Korea,” says Zhao.

Xi could also deprive Kim of another key source of revenue by agreeing to limit or completely prohibit up to 100,000 North Korean labourers from working overseas, including in China.

A third and far more drastic option also exists: cutting off North Korea’s crude oil supply. “This nuclear test is one of the few things that might trigger a cut-off of oil supplies, but we are still very reluctant to do so,” one person close to Chinese foreign policymakers told the Financial Times after Sunday’s detonation.

Zhao doubts Xi will choose that risk-strewn path. He believes turning off the taps could prove an irreversible decision since the pipeline delivering oil to North Korea is old and would corrode and break if left unused. Crucially, though, it would cripple North Korea’s economy, almost certainly bring down Kim’s regime and create a massive refugee and security crisis just a few hundred miles from Beijing.

“That is one of the most radical measures China could ever take and it could have strategic implications if the regime’s stability is affected,” says Zhao. “It is not going to be immediate but over time it could have an impact on the regime’s survival.”

Cheng Xiaohe, a North Korea expert from Renmin University in Beijing, also admits tightened sanctions are the only feasible response: “China has been pushed into a corner and has few options left.”

Growing frustration

That said, some believe appetite is growing in China for a more robust response to Kim Jong-un’s continued provocations.

“This is an insane country, and he is an insane leader,” says Zhu Feng, an international security expert from Nanjing University. “We are now at a historic turning point and – from my point of view – China needs to strengthen coordination and cooperation with the international community, particularly with the US, Japan and South Korea.”

“I think the domestic discussions about cutting crude oil supply are increasing,” says Zhao, who thinks the mood in China – North Korea’s key ally and trading partner – may be starting to shift.

Zhao believes Xi’s ability to take tougher action against Kim partly hinges partly on how much he can strengthen his political position ahead of next month’s 19th Communist party congress, a once-every-five-years conference marking the end of his first term in power. Recent weeks have seen tantalising glimpses of the internal power struggle that is raging at the top of China’s Communist party, with the purging of one senior official tipped as Xi’s possible successor and a major reshuffle in the leadership of the armed forces.

“If things settle down very quickly … that will give Xi Jinping some leeway to take more radical measures against North Korea,” Zhao predicts. “But if domestic politics continues to play out until the 19th party congress, then I don’t think China has any room to take radical measures.”

Smart cookie and the wildcard

Tsang believes the apparent lack of effective options to halt Kim Jong-un’s nuclear ambitions underlines what a shrewd strategtist he is and how successfully he was toying with both China and the US: “He is a smart cookie – a very, very smart cookie.”

As long as China was not a direct target of North Korean aggression, Xi would view Kim as an irritant rather than a threat that needed to be immediately crushed: “At the moment nobody seriously sees the North Korean missiles and nuclear weapons as a threat to China … The most likely target would be the Japanese. Now how unhappy would Xi be with the prospect of … the Abe administration being blasted to pieces? Neither outcome would actually make Xi lose any sleep.”

But for both Kim and Xi, there is one wild-card and he goes by the name of Donald J Trump. Tsang says conventional military advice suggests the US president would not risk a military strike against North Korea for fear of sparking a devastating counter-attack against South Korea and a broader regional conflagration that would inevitably suck in China.

“You’re talking about 10,000 different pieces of [North Korean] artillery … which could lob shells into the vicinity of Seoul and cause huge damage,” said Tsang. “So Kim’s reasonable calculation is that there is not actually a lot that Trump can do about it and there is almost certainly nothing the Chinese will do about it in concrete terms.”

Trump, however, was no conventional president. “The problem is somebody like Trump does not behave necessarily in line with your normal Obama and Clintons of this world and therefore the risk of him ignoring professional military advice is not negligible,” says Tsang.

“It would be negligible under Obama and extremely unlikely under Clinton or, for that matter, probably even George W Bush. But we can’t say the same of Trump. That’s one thing about Mr Trump, isn’t it?”

Additional reporting by Wang Zhen

Seoul tries to ignore Trump’s criticism: ‘They worry he’s kind of nuts’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

 

Seoul tries to ignore Trump’s criticism: ‘They worry he’s kind of nuts,’ one observer says

 Play Video 2:02
Trump responds to North Korea’s most powerful nuclear weapon test yet
North Korea detonated their most powerful nuclear weapon yet in a test on Sunday, Sept. 3. President Trump responded to the test, calling the actions “hostile” and saying “we’ll see” about a retaliatory attack on North Korea. (Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)
 September 3 at 7:22 PM
South Korea’s president tried late Sunday to dismiss talk of a dispute between Seoul and Washington over how to deal with North Korea following its sixth nuclear test, after President Trump criticized the South Korean approach as “appeasement.”Moon Jae-in’s office said that his government would continue to work towards peaceful denuclearization after tweets and actions from Trump that have left South Koreans scratching their heads at why the American president is attacking an ally at such a sensitive time.

As if to underline Seoul’s willingness to be tough, the South Korean military conducted bombing drills at dawn Monday, practicing ballistic missile strikes on the North Korean nuclear test site at Punggye-ri.

The South Korean military calculated the distance to the site and practiced having F-15 jet fighters accurately hit the target, the joint chiefs of staff said Monday morning.

“This drill was conducted to send a strong warning to North Korea for its sixth nuclear test,” it said.

After North Korea conducted its nuclear test Sunday, Trump tweeted: “South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!”

Trump did not talk to Moon on the phone Sunday — in stark contrast to the two calls he had with Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan and a leader who has proven much more willing to agree with his American counterpart. This will worsen anxieties in Seoul that Tokyo is seen as “the favorite ally,” analysts said.

Moon, who was elected in May, advocated engagement with North Korea but has also acknowledged the need for pressure to bring the Pyongyang regime back to talks. He has also come around to an agreement between his predecessor and the U.S. military to deploy an antimissile system in South Korea.

Trump’s tweet was widely reported across South Korean media, and Moon’s office responded to the tweet with a measured statement Sunday night.

“South Korea is a country that experienced a fratricidal war. The destruction of war should not be repeated in this land,” it said. “We will not give up and will continue to push for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through peaceful means working together with our allies.”

Trump’s twitter jab came amid news that the U.S. president has instructed advisers to prepare to withdraw from a free-trade agreement with South Korea — a move that is resolutely opposed by South Korea and one that would undermine the two countries’ economic alliance.

North Koreans watch a news report showing North Korea’s nuclear test on a screen in Pyongyang, North Korea. Kyodo/via REUTERS (Kyodo/Reuters)

Analysts said Trump’s actions were puzzling.

“It’s strange to see Trump going after South Korea more aggressively than he’s going after China, especially since China also thinks that dialogue is central to solving this problem,” said John Delury, a professor of international relations at Yonsei University in Seoul.

In an earlier tweet, Trump had said that China “was trying to help,” although he added it was “with little success.”

Delury said that the “passive aggressive” tone of Trump’s tweets suggested that Moon had been standing up to the American president during their previous phone calls. They spoke Friday after North Korea sent a missile over Japan.

“It sounds like Moon is saying, ‘We’re going to have to talk to these guys’ — which is true — and Trump is frustrated,” Delury said, noting that the latest tweet seemed to address Moon directly, with its “like I told you.”

Trump’s tweet was even more puzzling, analysts say, because Trump himself — both as a candidate and as president — had repeatedly suggested he would be willing to talk to North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

On the campaign trail, Trump said that he would be happy to have a burger in a boardroom with Kim, and in recent months he has called Kim a “smart cookie” and has said he would be “honored” to meet him.

South Korea’s response overall to Trump’s recent pronouncements has been much more muted than its past explosions against its protector — a sign that they know Trump is a different kind of president.

“They think they’re dealing with an unreasonable partner and complaining about it isn’t going to help — in fact, it might make it worse,” said David Straub, a former State Department official who dealt with both Koreas and recently published a book about anti-Americanism in South Korea.

“Opinion polls show South Koreans have one of the lowest rates of regard for Trump in the world and they don’t consider him to be a reasonable person,” Straub said. “In fact, they worry he’s kind of nuts, but they still want the alliance.”

On the Sunday talk shows in the United States, there was plenty of criticism of Trump’s words.

“You gotta watch the tweets,” Michael Hayden, a retired Air Force general and former head of the National Security Agency and the CIA who has been critical of Trump, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I think we had an unforced error over the weekend when we brought up the free trade agreement with our South Korea friends on whom we have to cooperate. . . . It’s wrong on the merits, and it’s certainly not integrated into a broader approach to northeast Asia,” Hayden said. He served as NSA director from 1999 to 2005 and led the CIA from 2006 until 2009.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, also questioned Trump’s decision to admonish South Korea when the nation appears to be facing a growing threat.

“We need to be working hand in hand with South Korea, and with Japan,” he said, also on CNN. “Why we would want to show divisions with South Korea makes no sense at all.”

Even before the nuclear test, Trump’s approach to South Korea, an ally since the end of World War II, had been under question. Analysts were asking why Trump would rip up the free-trade agreement with South Korea at all, rather than revising it, let alone at a time when a united front was needed in the region.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that “no decisions” had been made but that trade deals must be in the United States’ economic interest.

“The president has made clear that where we have trade deficits with countries, we’re going to renegotiate those deals,” Mnuchin said on Fox News.

Yoonjung Seo in Seoul and Hamza Shaban in Washington contributed to this report.

Trump says ‘appeasement’ will not work after North Korea nuke test

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE PAKISTANI DAWN NEWSPAPER)

 

Japan government registers protest with N. Korean embassy in Bejing, calls test “extremely unforgivable”. — File
Japan government registers protest with N. Korean embassy in Bejing, calls test “extremely unforgivable”. — File

US President Donald Trump declared on Sunday that “appeasement with North Korea” will not work, after Pyongyang claimed it had successfully tested a missile-ready hydrogen bomb.

“North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test,” Trump said. “Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States.”

His comments came hours after the US Geological Survey picked up a 6.3 magnitude “explosion” in North Korea, which Pyongyang confirmed was a nuclear test, its sixth.

Earlier, Japan confirmed that North Korea conducted a nuclear test on Sunday, registering a formal protest with Pyongyang after a major explosion at the isolated nation’s main test site.

“The government confirms that North Korea conducted a nuclear test after examining information from the weather agency and other information,” Japanese foreign minister Taro Kono told reporters.

He said the government registered a protest with the North Korean embassy in Beijing prior to the confirmation, calling any test “extremely unforgivable”.

“Today’s nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is an extremely regrettable act,” International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano said in a statement.

“This new test, which follows the two tests last year and is the sixth since 2006, is in complete disregard of the repeated demands of the international community.”

Trump last month threatened North Korea with “fire and fury” if it continued to threaten the United States, but he refrained from direct threats in his latest tweets.

“South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!” he said.

Earlier, South Korea’s military had expressed suspicion that North Korea had conducted its sixth nuclear test, after it detected a “strong earthquake.”

The strong tremor was felt hours after Pyongyang claimed that its leader has inspected a hydrogen bomb meant for a new intercontinental ballistic missile.

South Korea’s weather agency and the Joint Chief of Staff said an artificial 5.6 magnitude quake occurred at 12:29 pm local time, in Kilju, northern Hamgyong Province.

The US Geological Survey called the first quake an explosion with a magnitude 6.3.

Shortly after, Yonhap news agency said a second quake was detected with a magnitude 4.6 but South Korea’s weather agency denied another quake occurred.

There was no word from the military in Seoul about the possible second quake.

North Korea conducted its fifth test last year in September. In confirmed, the latest test would mark yet another big step forward in North Korean attempts to obtain a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching deep into the US mainland.

South Korea’s presidential office said it will hold a National Security Council meeting chaired by President Moon Jae-in.

Islamabad condemns Pyongyang’s actions

Pakistan on Sunday condemned the reported nuclear test by North Korea.

A statement issued by the Foreign Office said, “Pakistan has consistently maintained that DPRK should comply with the UN Security Council resolutions and asked all sides to refrain from provocative actions.

Pakistan urges all sides to display utmost restraint and return towards the path of peaceful negotiated settlement of the issue, it added.

North Korea conducted two nuclear tests last year and has since maintained a torrid pace in weapons tests, including flight-testing developmental intercontinental ballistic missiles and flying a powerful mid-range missile over Japan.

Photos released by the North Korean government on Sunday showed Kim talking with his lieutenants as he observed a silver, peanut-shaped device that was apparently the purported thermonuclear weapon destined for an ICBM.

What appeared to be the nose cone of a missile could also be seen near the alleged bomb in one picture, which could not be independently verified and which was taken without outside journalists present. Another photo showed a diagram on the wall behind Kim of a bomb mounted inside a cone.

Aside from the factuality of the North’s claim, the language in its statement seems a strong signal that Pyongyang will soon conduct its sixth nuclear weapon test, which is crucial if North Korean scientists are to fulfil the national goal of an arsenal of viable nuclear ICBMs that can reach the US mainland.

There’s speculation that such a test could come on or around the Sept. 9 anniversary of North Korea’s national founding, something it did last year.

As part of the North’s weapons work, Kim was said by his propaganda mavens to have made a visit to the Nuclear Weapons Institute and inspected a “homemade” H-bomb with “super explosive power” that “is adjustable from tens (of) kiloton to hundreds (of) kiloton.”

North Korea in July conducted its first ever ICBM tests, part of a stunning jump in progress for the country’s nuclear and missile program since Kim rose to power following his father’s death in late 2011.

The North followed its two tests of Hwasong-14 ICBMs, which, when perfected, could target large parts of the United States, by threatening to launch a salvo of its Hwasong-12 intermediate range missiles toward the US Pacific island territory of Guam in August.

It flew a Hwasong-12 over northern Japan last week, the first such overflight by a missile capable of carrying nukes, in a launch Kim described as a “meaningful prelude” to containing Guam, the home of major US military facilities, and more ballistic missile tests targeting the Pacific.

Vipin Narang, an MIT professor specialising in nuclear strategy, said it’s important to note that North Korea was only showing a mock-up of a two-stage thermonuclear device, or H-bomb.

“We won’t know what they have until they test it, and even then there may be a great deal of uncertainty depending on the yield and seismic signature and any isotopes we can detect after a test,” he said.

To back up its claims to nuclear mastery, such tests are vital. The first of its two atomic tests last year involved what Pyongyang claimed was a sophisticated hydrogen bomb; the second it said was its most powerful atomic detonation ever.

It is almost impossible to independently confirm North Korean statements about its highly secret weapons program. South Korean government officials said the estimated explosive yield of last year’s first test was much smaller than what even a failed hydrogen bomb detonation would produce.

There was speculation that North Korea might have detonated a boosted fission bomb, a weapon considered halfway between an atomic bomb and an H-bomb.

It is clear, however, that each new missile and nuclear test gives the North invaluable information that allows big jumps in capability.

A key question is how far North Korea has gotten in efforts to consistently shrink down nuclear warheads so they can fit on long-range missiles.

“Though we cannot verify the claim, (North Korea) wants us to believe that it can launch a thermonuclear strike now, if it is attacked. Importantly, (North Korea) will also want to test this warhead, probably at a larger yield, to demonstrate this capability,” said Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Centre for American Progress.

North Korea is thought to have a growing arsenal of nuclear bombs and has spent decades trying to perfect a multistage, long-range missile to eventually carry smaller versions of those bombs.

South Korea’s main spy agency has previously asserted that it does not think Pyongyang currently has the ability to develop miniaturised nuclear weapons that can be mounted on long-range ballistic missiles. Some experts, however, think the North may have mastered this technology.

The White House said that President Donald Trump spoke with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan regarding “ongoing efforts to maximize pressure on North Korea.”

The statement did not say whether the conversation came before or after the North’s latest claim.

A long line of US presidents has failed to check North Korea’s persistent pursuit of missiles and nuclear weapons. Six-nation negotiations on dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program in exchange for aid fell apart in early 2009.

The North said in its statement Sunday that its H-bomb “is a multi-functional thermonuclear nuke with great destructive power which can be detonated even at high altitudes for super-powerful EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack according to strategic goals.”

Kim, according to the statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, claimed that “all components of the H-bomb were homemade … thus enabling the country to produce powerful nuclear weapons as many as it wants.”

In what could be read as a veiled warning of more nuclear tests, Kim underlined the need for scientists to “dynamically conduct the campaign for successfully concluding the final-stage research and development for perfecting the state nuclear force” and “set forth tasks to be fulfilled in the research into nukes.”

The two Koreas have shared the world’s most heavily fortified border since their war in the early 1950s ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

About 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea as deterrence against North Korea.

It Is Now Past Time For China To Kill Kim Jong Un Of North Korea

 

This morning Kim Jong Un, the idiot who controls North Korea with an iron fist set off a nuclear bomb. China says that they do not want there to be nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula yet they have helped create this lunatic in North Korea. I say this because there is plenty of picture evidence that shows that the missile launchers North Korea uses are Chinese. The very rapid development of their missile and Nuke programs makes it obvious that North Korea is getting ‘State’ help from someone. There are only two choices as to which States, China or Russia. There is also plenty of solid proof that North Korea is helping Iran with their missile and Nuke programs. All of the signs point to China being behind North Korea and China’s President Xi Jinping has stated this past week that China will not tolerate a Regime change in North Korea under any circumstance.

 

China’s President Xi Jinping has proven himself to be almost as flagrant of a liar as President Trump, the difference between those two men is that Xi Jinping is very intelligent and Donald Trump if a complete idiot. China’s government would love nothing more than for the United States military to totally exit the Asian realm so that they can more easily totally dominate every country in Asia. I do not believe that China and I mean by that, Xi Jinping will order a ‘hit’ on Kim Jong Un even though that would be the best solution to this crises. One mans blood being spilled is far better than the blood of thousands or even millions being spilled.

 

Being China is actually helping Kim Jong Un with his Nuclear and military programs the world can not wait on China to do anything to this crazy fool. While the world waits on the UN to produce results with their talks and sanctions North Korea is perfecting their Missile and Nuclear technologies with the help of Beijing. China continues to warn the U.S. and our allies in that region of the world that if North Korea is attacked preemptively that China will militarily join North Korea. So, to me that sounds a lot like the U.S., South Korea or Japan should just sit back and wait to be hit with Nuclear bombs first before they respond. I am not saying that the U.S. should Nuke anyone first but what I am saying is that if Xi Jinping will not kill Kim Jong Un then the U.S. needs to make it very clear to Kim Jong Un that if he tests even one more missile, Nuke of otherwise that the U.S. and our Allies will hunt him down and kill him, no if and or buts about it, he will die.

North Korea Sets Off Nuclear Bomb

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Trump says appeasement ‘will not work’ after N.K. nuclear test

(CNN)President Donald Trump condemned North Korea’s claimed test of a hydrogen bomb in a series of tweets Sunday morning, calling Pyongyang’s words and actions “hostile and dangerous” and saying “talk of appeasement will not work.”

“North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States,” Trump wrote, adding that Pyongyang “has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success.”
“South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!” the President wrote.
Trump will meet with his national security team Sunday to discuss the situation, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Sunday morning.
“The National security team is monitoring this closely,” Sanders said. “The President and his national security team will have a meeting to discuss further later today. We will provide updates as necessary.”
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This is North Korea’s sixth-ever test of a nuclear weapon and the first since Trump took office.
The test was a “perfect success” and the final step in attaining a “state nuclear force,” North Korean news anchor Ri Chun Hee said in a televised announcement Sunday.
The news report claimed the weapon was designed to fit atop an intercontinental ballistic missile. The nuclear test follows two successful tests of the long-range missile in July and a shorter-range one in late August.
In a high-level national security meeting, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called the move a “an absurd strategic mistake” that will lead to the international community further isolating Pyongyang.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in a statement released by his office Sunday that North Korea’s nuclear and missile development “has entered a new level of threat — more grave and imminent — against Japan’s national security and seriously undermines the peace and security of the region as well as the international community.”
The statement adds “given the fact that North Korea has belligerently conducted ballistic missile launches repeatedly this year, the UN Security Council has strongly condemned these actions. Under such circumstances, this nuclear test, which North Korea conducted today despite these calls, is totally unacceptable.”
China, North Korea’s only real ally and patron, said its neighbor “disregarded universal opposition of the international community” by conducting the test.”
“We strongly urge North Korea side to face up to the firm will of the international community on the denuclearization of the peninsula, abide by relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, stop taking wrong actions that exacerbate the situation and are not in its own interest, and return to the track of resolving the issue through dialogue,” the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that he would like a “measured” response from the Oval Office.
“Obviously, you’d like a leader that is measured and sober and consistent,” Flake said, adding, “We’ve got a good team around the President.”
Flake echoed the administration’s previous statements on the North Korean nuclear threat, saying all options needed to be on the table — including military ones — and said there is no clear path forward to resolving Pyongyang’s continued nuclear development.
“It becomes cliche to say there are no good options here, but there really aren’t,” Flake said.
Experts say it is nearly impossible to verify with certainty Pyongyang’s claim that it detonated a hydrogen bomb, which is also known as a thermonuclear weapon, or whether it can actually be used successfully on a missile. Thermonuclear weapons typically use a fission explosion to create a fusion reaction, which is far more powerful than a fission reaction.
NORSAR, an independent seismic monitor, estimated the blast created a yield of about 120 kilotons. The tremors caused by North Korea’s Sunday test were at least 10 times more powerful than the fifth test, Japanese officials said. An official at the Korea Meteorological Administration estimated the blast was about 50 kilotons.
The test came just hours after North Korea released images of leader Kim Jong Un inspecting what it said was a hydrogen bomb ready to be put on top of an intercontinental ballistic missile, the type of weapon the country would need to use to deliver a nuclear warhead to far-away locations.
Sunday’s test comes almost one year after Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test last September, which triggered a 5.3-magnitude seismological event. That took place on September 9, the country’s Foundation Day holiday. North Korea claimed it set off a thermonuclear weapon during that test, but experts said the data showed it was more likely a boosted fission weapon.

Chinese Paper Says China Should Stay Neutral If North Korea Attacks First

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GLOBAL TIMES OF NORTH KOREA AND CHINA)

 

Chinese paper says China should stay neutral if North Korea attacks first

BEIJING (Reuters) – If North Korea launches an attack that threatens the United States then China should stay neutral, but if the United States attacks first and tries to overthrow North Korea’s government China will stop them, a Chinese state-run newspaper said on Friday.

President Donald Trump ratcheted up his rhetoric toward North Korea and its leader on Thursday, warning Pyongyang against attacking Guam or U.S. allies after it disclosed plans to fire missiles over Japan to land near the U.S. Pacific territory.

China, North Korea’s most important ally and trading partner, has reiterated calls for calm during the current crisis. It has expressed frustration with both Pyongyang’s repeated nuclear and missile tests and with behavior from South Korea and the United States that it sees as escalating tensions.

The widely read state-run Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, wrote in an editorial that Beijing is not able to persuade either Washington or Pyongyang to back down.

“It needs to make clear its stance to all sides and make them understand that when their actions jeopardize China’s interests, China will respond with a firm hand,” said the paper, which does not represent government policy.

“China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten U.S. soil first and the U.S. retaliates, China will stay neutral,” it added.

“If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

China has long worried that any conflict on the Korean peninsula, or a repeat of the 1950-53 Korean war, could unleash a wave of destabilizing refugees into its northeast, and could end up with a reunified county allied with the United States.

North Korea is a useful buffer state for China between it and U.S. forces based in South Korea, and also across the sea in Japan.

The Global Times said China will “firmly resist any side which wants to change the status quo of the areas where China’s interests are concerned”.

“The Korean Peninsula is where the strategic interests of all sides converge, and no side should try to be the absolute dominator of the region.”

How Can Anyone Take China’s Word Seriously On A North Korean Deal

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘LAWFARE’ NEWS SITE)

 

NORTH KOREA

Taking China Seriously on a North Korea Deal

By Robert D. Williams

Sunday, August 20, 2017, 4:32 PM

With biannual joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises set to begin on Monday, the temperature on the Korean Peninsula has cooled, if only slightly, following a recent escalation in rhetoric between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. As the nuclear brinkmanship recedes, we are left with a fundamental and unsettling new reality: North Korea possesses a credible capability to hit the U.S. homeland with a nuclear-armed missile.

Now comes a central question: In tandem with deterrence and containment, what can the United States do to bring North Korea to the negotiating table for serious discussions to limit and eventually roll back its nuclear program?

In recent days, China’s Foreign Ministry has doubled down on a longstanding proposal known as “double-suspension,” or “freeze-for-freeze,” as the best hope for a solution on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea would suspend its nuclear and missile testing in return for a suspension of U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises. This mutual forbearance is pitched by China (along with Russia) as a possible first step in bringing the parties to the table with the long-term goal of denuclearization.

At first blush, such a deal might seem to entail relatively little downside for the United States. The U.S. government could independently verify North Korean compliance on nuclear and missile testing, and the policy is quickly reversible should North Korea choose to cheat. Despite North Korea’s recently demonstrated intercontinental ballistic missile capability, the “get” for the United States is substantial because the lack of further flight testing would limit the North’s confidence in the technical reliability of its nuclear and missile technology. Moreover, leaders in both North Koreaand South Korea have shown openness to the double-freeze as a pathway to negotiations.

But the United States has long resisted calls for a suspension of military exercises, which it correctly argues are lawful, defensive in nature, important for military readiness, and of “no moral equivalency” with the DPRK’s behavior. Some analysts fearthat North Korea would simply use such an agreement to advance research and development for other aspects of its nuclear program—an especially weighty concern given reports of North Korea’s recent progress in miniaturizing nuclear warheads for ICBM delivery. Others worry that a halt in exercises would undermine confidence in the U.S.-South Korean alliance at a critical moment.

Despite these valid concerns, U.S. policymakers would do well not to dismiss the Chinese proposal out of hand. As U.S. leaders have acknowledged time and again, most recently in a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, China is a crucial player in the North Korean nuclear equation given its involvement in 90 percent of North Korean trade and its “dominant economic leverage over Pyongyang.” The approach of “strategic accountability” articulated by Mattis and Tillerson will have a chance at success only if China is willing to fully enforce the unprecedented economic sanctions to which it has agreed at the United Nations. Here is where a modified freeze proposal might have some room to run.

Instead of buying the proposal off the shelf as a Chinese-and-Russian-brokered deal between the United States and North Korea, U.S. officials could “accept” China’s proposal on the condition that China itself bring something to the table. That something would include specific steps to enforce existing economic sanctions and to curtail the financial channels on which North Korea’s weapons program relies. (An example would be going after the front companies and banks that provide illicit financing to North Korea’s government, including those that are less vulnerable to U.S. secondary sanctions due to their lack of exposure to the U.S. financial system.) Although recent months have seen an increase in Chinese cooperation at the U.N. Security Council—including full sectoral bans on North Korean exports of coal, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore, and seafood under UNSC Resolution 2371—U.S. officials have considerable and justifiable concerns about China’s poor track record in following through with robust enforcement.

Thus, a possible deal: The United States and South Korea could agree to substantially scale back their March 2018 joint military exercises, on the condition that (1) North Korea immediately and completely suspend nuclear and ballistic missile testing, as well as exports of nuclear technology; and that (2) China crack down on North Korean trade, financial transfers, and cross-border movement of weapons technology in a scheduled step-by-step way that leads to a measurable increase in pressure on Pyongyang. The United States and South Korea would closely monitor each party’s compliance with the agreement for the next six months leading up to the spring exercises, and would only scale down the exercises if China held up its end of the bargain. A few scale-down scenarios could be drawn up—including, for example, limiting some command post exercises to a low-profile, computer-assisted format; moving certain exercises off the Korean Peninsula; or refraining from “decapitation” drills. If by the end of the six-month period China has not fully lived up to its commitments, the United States would have available a planned option commensurate with the extent of Chinese cooperation in the interim.

To be sure, even if North Korea were willing to go along with this proposal, there are reasons to think the Chinese government will be reluctant. China has prioritized maintaining a strategic “buffer state” on its border and worries about the possible collapse of the Kim regime. As a number of observers have noted, China is not confident it can thread the needle between pressure sufficient to bring North Korea to negotiations but not so severe that it causes regime collapse or outright war. China’s leaders thus find themselves on the horns of a dilemma when it comes to squeezing Pyongyang.

It is possible, however, that China may be amenable to a tougher approach going forward that explicitly builds on its own repeated proposals. Following North Korea’s recent missile tests, the Kim regime may feel more externally secure given the progress of its nuclear deterrent capability. China might calculate that this expands its margin of error to test the impact of a tighter economic squeeze. In addition, Chinese leaders understand that recent innovations in financial sanctions have made them a more nimble tool that can be targeted to avoid totally destabilizing the country.

The point here is not to suggest that a three-part deal with China and North Korea will necessarily work. Nearly any proposal designed to produce constructive negotiations with Kim’s regime must be viewed with an abundance of caution given the historical record and the fact that Kim sees nukes as essential to his survival. On almost any conceivable scenario, deterrence and containment will be cornerstones of U.S. strategy going forward.

Yet a deterrence and containment posture will require close coordination and cooperation, not only with our allies South Korea and Japan, but also with China—which will continue to have a strong interest in North Korean denuclearization. As former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has argued, “An understanding between Washington and Beijing is the essential prerequisite for the denuclearization of Korea.” This necessarily includes U.S. recognition of China’s “stake in the political evolution of North Korea following denuclearization, whether it be a two-state solution or unification, and in restrictions on military deployment placed on North Korea.”

Reaching such an understanding will require a foundation of China-U.S. mutual trust that is far from established. The core of the proposal here is thus to take as the starting point of a new initiative China’s own “double-freeze” proposal, and build on it the modified terms outlined above. This would signal to Beijing that the United States does not dismiss Chinese proposals and concerns out of hand. It would provide a measure of moral high ground for the United States should China reject a U.S. counter-proposal that accepts the thrust of a much-touted Chinese diplomatic initiative. Above all, it would demonstrate that the United States is not spoiling for a fight but is serious about protecting its interests and not willing to give up an ounce of military readiness without getting something significant in return from the other major players at the table.

In sum, “freeze-for-freeze” alone is not a viable path to bringing North Korea to the table for serious negotiations. A key additional ingredient is Chinese leverage and increased pressure through economic sanctions. Although the “freeze-plus-pressure” arrangement sketched above is not in itself an answer to the fundamental security challenge on the Korean Peninsula, it may be one path toward a solution that currently eludes us.

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With Some Countries, China Is in the Red

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BLOOMBERG NEWS)

 

With Some Countries, China Is in the Red

Supply chains and commodity needs mean China doesn’t run massive trade surpluses with everyone
August 20, 2017, 8:00 AM EDT

From

China’s big trade surpluses hog all the headlines, but imbalances go both ways.

South Korea’s $72.2 billion surplus with the People’s Republic in fact tops a list of more than 40 nations that export more to the country than they import from it, followed by Switzerland and Australia, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Besides commodity exporters such as Iran and machinery producers like Germany, smaller economies such as Ireland, Finland and Laos round out the tally.

Imports by the world’s biggest exporter show how its humming factories prop up other economies – and for some of those, what’s on the line should they find themselves involved with territorial disputes or geopolitical tensions with one of their biggest customers.

In Asia, South Korea and Malaysia are among the most vulnerable to China’s economic arm-twisting, while Japan and Vietnam look relatively immune, according to Bloomberg Intelligence estimates based on their trade surpluses with China as a share of total output.

One of China’s biggest appetites is for machines and electronics from South Korea, Malaysia and Germany, according to World Bank data from 2015, the most recent year available.

Semiconductors from South Korea and Malaysia account for much of that as they’re brought in and then installed in other electronic products assembled in China’s factories.

The iPhone itself is an ecosystem that illustrates the global reach of far-flung supply chains. China’s assembly lines for the device incorporate expensive components imported from sources including Germany, Japan, South Korea, the U.S. and Taiwan.

Such complex and crucial trade relationships give South Korea something of a buffer against Chinese reprisals like those it faced last year after agreeing to install a U.S. missile defense system.

“Eighty percent of Korean exports to China are intermediate goods, and everyday people can’t see them from the outside or feel them,” said Yang Pyeongseob, a senior research fellow at the Korean Institute for International Economic Policy in Beijing.

China’s factories, construction sites, vehicles soak up oil, metal and materials from commodity exporters around the world, so when the economy sneezes it spurs big swings in things like the Australian dollar or Mongolian gross domestic product.

Those two countries are key suppliers of iron ore, precious metals and coal. Meanwhile, oil from Angola, Oman, Iran, and Venezuela helps keep China’s cars and trucks running, and Turkmenistan sends natural gas. Chile offers metal, mainly copper, but wine and cherries are more familiar South American imports on Chinese supermarket shelves.

Swiss trade is driven by pharmaceuticals, chemicals and precision instruments and watches. The surplus size may have been distorted by commodities trading, which doesn’t necessarily lead to actual shipments.

South Africa’s shipments include diamonds, gold and wine. Elsewhere in the southern hemisphere, Brazil was China’s top overseas source of soybeans, soy oil, beef and sugar last year, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce. The most populous nation imported 38 million tons of soybeans alone from Brazil last year.

And farmers in New Zealand are increasingly stocking those supermarket shelves for more discerning consumers. China imported more lamb from New Zealand than anywhere else, the most wheat from Australia, and the largest amount of fruit and nuts from Chile.

 

 

— With assistance by Catherine Bosley, and Xiaoqing Pi

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