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Well, Blah blah blah Blah blah blah and Blah blah blah

Calling the removed Dem ex-governor of Illinois here is quite a threadjack.

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Well, Blah blah blah Blah blah blah and Blah blah blah

Calling the removed Dem ex-governor of Illinois here is quite a threadjack.

Classic TN threadjack style that is indifferent to a nation's image appeal, and, is random such as the injection Blagojevich into the thread was still fair game I thought. Just like how English is a neutral language in multi-lingual countries like the Philippines, American matters are also quite often neutral. But well traditions die with time.

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Can't think of anyone they'd aim at West. China is North, ROC is South, everyone else is East. Pretty much everyone is in easy range of practically any ballistic missile except the Running Dogs themselves, so I agree with the California comment.


Beijing is 700 km west of NK.

A nuclear-tipped MRBM would be a useful threat if the Chinese ever demands that the tyrant dynasty goes into exile...or refuses to deliver rice.

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Just like Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made his first trip abroad to East Asia. But unlike Mattis, who went to both Japan and South Korea, Tillerson is including China in the trip.

First he went to Japan speaking of a new approach towards North Korea. Then on his next stop in South Korea, he says the past 20 years have failed to stop North Korea, strategic patience is over, all cards are on the table.


TOKYO -- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met in Tokyo on Thursday and confirmed that both governments will continually strengthen their alliance amid provocations from nuclear-armed North Korea. Both governments will closely coordinate their actions when dealing with Pyongyang, they said.

Abe said Tillerson's visit to Japan was "very timely" as tensions in East Asia have spiked in recent months with Pyongyang's series of provocative missile launches. Tillerson said: "It was very important for me to make this my first stop in Asia."

During the one hour meeting, Tillerson said it is extremely important that Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump are closely cooperating for the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. The newly sworn-in secretary of state said he hopes to strengthen the alliance between the two countries.

New strategy

In light of repeated missile launches by North Korea, the U.S. is considering a new strategy against Pyongyang. The Trump administration has stressed that "all options are on the table," including the use of force and putting the country back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Last week, North Korea launched four ballistic missiles nearly simultaneously, three of which fell in Japan's exclusive economic zone. One fell as close as 200km from Japan's coast. There are also fears that Pyongyang is developing a missile that can reach the U.S. mainland.

The launch came as the U.S. and South Korea began their annual military drills, which the North believes are preparations for war. On Wednesday, a U.S. aircraft carrier arrived in South Korea for joint exercises.

Prior to the recent missile launches, on Feb. 12, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over the Korean Peninsula and into the Sea of Japan, just as Abe was visiting the U.S. for his first meeting with Trump since his inauguration.

Ahead of the meeting with Abe, Tillerson met with his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida. They agreed to strongly urge North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile development programs. The top diplomats called to accelerate preparations for an early joint foreign and defense ministers' "two-plus-two" meeting.

In a joint news conference following the meeting, Tillerson said that two decades of diplomatic and other efforts had failed to achieve the goal of denuclearizing North Korea. He called for a "new approach" but did not provide details.

"So we have 20 years of failed approach," Tillerson said. "That includes a period where the U.S. has provided $1.35 billion in assistance to North Korea as an encouragement to take a different pathway."

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

First visit

Tillerson, a former Exxon Mobil CEO, was in Tokyo to kick-start his first Asia tour, in which he will also visit South Korea and China. His visit to Beijing will be the first by a cabinet member of the Trump administration.

In China, where he is scheduled to arrive on Saturday, Tillerson will meet with President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi to start laying the groundwork for a bilateral summit. Washington hopes to get Beijing, a traditional ally of North Korea with significant leverage, on its side in exerting more pressure on Pyongyang.

Meanwhile, Beijing fears that the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile system being deployed in South Korea could undermine China's nuclear deterrent. The U.S. stresses that THAAD is a defensive system against North Korea and not meant to be a threat to China.

China is hoping to steer away from any friction with the U.S. regarding North Korea. At the closing of the annual congressional session in Beijing on Wednesday, Premier Li Keqiang said: "Tensions may lead to conflicts, which will bring harm to all parties involved." He added, "No one wants to see chaos at his doorstep."




With Washington taking a North Korea policy overhaul, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Friday declared that the existing strategic patience approach is over, saying all options including military action are on the table.

At a joint news conference with Seouls Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Tillerson also urged China to cease its economic retaliation against South Korea over its plan to host a US missile shield here, calling it unnecessary, inappropriate and troubling.

Efforts for North Korea to achieve a peaceful stability for the last two decades have failed to make us safe, the secretary said.

Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security, economic measures. All options are on the table.

His remarks represent the Donald Trump administrations strongest signal yet that it would take a much tougher stance than its predecessors including Barack Obamas strategic patience policy.

Certainly we do not want for things to get to a military conflict, were quite clear on that in our communications, but obviously if North Korea takes actions that threaten the South Korean forces or our own forces, then that would be met with an appropriate response, he said.

If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table.

Tillerson has said his maiden Asia tour, which also took him to Tokyo and includes a stop in Beijing from Saturday, is aimed at exchanging views on a new approach toward Pyongyang.

Stressing the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense systems raison detre, he called for China to refrain from taking retaliation against Seoul and join in addressing the threat that makes THAAD necessary.

We also believe it is not the way for a regional power to help resolve what is a serious threat for everyone. So we hope China will alter its position on punishing South Korea, Tillerson said.

We hope they will work with us to eliminate the reason THAAD is required.

Upon his landing at the Osan Air Base earlier in the day, the former Exxon Mobil chief executive took a tour around the Demilitarized Zone near the inter-Korean border and had lunch with soldiers guarding the Joint Security Area. Then he paid a visit to acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn before meeting with Yun.

But Tillersons comments may signal a future possible friction with the next leadership of South Korea, which faces a presidential election on May 9.

Many leading contenders including frontrunner Moon Jae-in previously served in the liberal administrations that traditionally favor engagement with North Korea instead of sanctions and pressure, not to mention military measures. They also have shown a reserved stance toward THAAD, while pledging to upend or renegotiate a December 2015 deal between South Korea and Japan on wartime sex slavery, for which Tillerson expressed support in Tokyo on Thursday.

The secretary raised expectations for a productive relationship with the next government here, saying he hopes it will continue to be supportive of the THAAD deployment plan.

Yun, for his part, echoed the need for a military step against the communist neighbor, saying its threats are unprecedented, imminent and require far more effective and various countermeasures.

At a separate session with Hwang, Tillerson reaffirmed the ironclad alliance that serves as a linchpin for security and stability in response to the growing North Korean threats.

The prime minister displayed gratitude for his visit despite domestic difficulties associated with the leadership transition, endorsing Trumps remarks during their earlier phone call that the allies are 100 percent together on North Korea and other regional and global issues.

Meanwhile, Tillersons shortened diplomatic consultations and public events in Seoul spawned a flurry of speculation given a leadership vacuum and political uncertainties.

A joint news conference aside, Tillerson spent almost 2 1/2 hours with Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida including a dinner, and another hour with Prime Minister Abe. But his meetings with Yun and Hwang were each confined to about an hour, without a lunch or dinner gathering. Seoul officials said the US side opted not to have a meal together, citing the secretarys fatigue.



So now he has arrived in China a few hours ago.

While the above visits and the deployment of THAAD are going on, the US and ROK have started their annual joint-training called Foal Eagle, which is at a massive level this time around.


South Korean and U.S. troops began large-scale joint military exercise on Wednesday conducted annually to test their defense readiness against the threat from North Korea, which routinely characterizes the drills as preparation for war against it.

The exercise, called Foal Eagle, comes amid heightened tension following the latest test launch of a ballistic missile by the North on Feb. 12 and in the past prompted threats by Pyongyang to launch military action in retaliation.

South Korea's Defense Ministry and the U.S. military based in the South confirmed the start of the drills on Wednesday that will continue until the end of April but did not immediately provide further details.

The exercise last year involved about 17,000 American troops and more than 300,000 South Koreans.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis spoke with South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-Koo early on Wednesday by telephone and said the United States remains steadfast in its commitment to the defense of its ally.

Mattis welcomed a deal signed by South Korea with the Lotte Group conglomerate this week to secure the land to station the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in the South, the two countries said.

China, Russia to step up opposition to South Korean anti-missile system
South Korea has said it and the United States aim to make the system, which the two countries decided last year to deploy in response to the North Korean missile threat, operational by the end of the year.

Han said in the phone call with Mattis that this year's joint drills will be conducted at a similar scale as last year's, which the South's Defense Ministry had called the "largest-ever" exercises by the allies.

North Korea's official KCNA news agency said earlier on Wednesday its leader Kim Jong Un inspected the headquarters of a major military unit and issued guidance on increasing combat readiness.





China is saying that the US-RoK joint training and the North Korean tests should both be stopped and everyone should get together again for talks. The US and RoK rejected the proposal. And the US tells China to refrain from economically punishing South Korea.


The differences between China and the United States over how to deal with the North Korean nuclear issue have come to the fore, ahead of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Beijing today.

China yesterday reiterated its proposal for the US and South Korea to suspend large-scale military drills, and for North Korea to halt its nuclear and missile development, so both sides can go back to the negotiation table, first suggested by Foreign Minister Wang Yi last week.

But Mr Tillerson, in Seoul yesterday, spoke about a military option while US envoy to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Thursday ruled out going back to the six-party talks - negotiations that involved China, the US, North and South Korea, Japan and Russia from 2003 to 2009 - saying "been there, done that".

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying, responding to Ms Haley, said: "China has always believed the six-party talks are an effective platform for resolving the Korean peninsula nuclear issue."

Ms Hua also addressed the possibility of the US pressuring China to do more to rein in North Korea by increasing penalties against Chinese companies and banks that do business with the North. She said Beijing was opposed to "improper sanctions that may harm Chinese interests".

Mr Tillerson is scheduled to start a two-day visit to Beijing today during which he is expected to discuss the North Korean nuclear issue, the summit between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the South China Sea disputes, among other things.

Resolving the North Korea issue has taken on a new urgency as Pyongyang has, through its recent missile tests, shown its increased capability to target neighbouring countries, including South Korea and Japan, both of them US allies.

Washington and Seoul have also sped up plans to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (Thaad) anti-missile defence system as part of South Korea's defence against the North. But Beijing is opposed to Thaad as it believes the system's powerful radars can be used to spy on its military movements.

The South Korean government is concerned that the Chinese are taking discriminatory actions against South Korean companies because of the Thaad deployment.

Mr Tillerson said yesterday: "While we acknowledge Chinese opposition, its economic retaliation against South Korea is inappropriate and troubling. We ask China to refrain from such action. Instead, we urge China to address the threat that makes that necessary."

The differences between China and the US over the North Korea nuclear issue are technical in nature, noted Professor Jia Qingguo of Peking University.

While the US wants to use sanctions and military threat to resolve it, China thinks this will lead to bad results and prefers to do so through talks.

But their aim is the same - to have a denuclearised Korean peninsula, he said.



A retired PLA general says the PLA can neutralize THAAD.


China knew it might not be able to stop Seoul deploying a US anti-missile system and was prepared to counter with its own anti-radar equipment, a retired PLA general said on Monday.

The comments by Wang Hongguang came as a South Korean courts decision to uphold the impeachment of Park Geun-hye, the countrys former president, fanned hopes Seoul might put plans for the Terminal High Altitude Area ­Defence system on hold.

Park supported the installation of the system to help protect South Korea against threats from North Korea, which Beijing says can peer through Chinas defences.

Wang, former deputy commander of the Nanjing Military Region, said China could not take the chance the next South Korean president would change policy and roll back the deployment.

The first THAAD components arrived at the Osan Air Base in South Korea last week.

Wang said Beijing had measures in place to neutralise THAADs radars. We will complete our deployment before THAAD begins operations. There is no need to wait for two months [before the election of the next South Korean president], he said on the sidelines of the political sessions in Beijing. We already have such equipment in place. We just have to move it to the right spot.

Yue Gang, a military commentator and former Peoples Liberation Army colonel, said China could either destroy THAAD or neutralise it.

Destroying [THAAD] should only be an option during wartime, Yue said.
But China could interfere with the systems functions through electromagnetic technology, he said.

Yue said an ideal place to install the Chinese equipment was on the Shandong peninsula on the countrys east coast, opposite South Korea.

Fu Qianshao, an aviation equipment expert with the PLA Air Force, said China could also send planes manned or unmanned to fly close to THAAD to interfere with its radar signals. All the countrys armed forces had the capacity to interfere with radar signals, Fu said.

Wang said Chinas chief concern was not just with South Koreas deployment of the American system but also the United States broader potential to contain the region in a sophisticated web of missile defence systems in Japan, Singapore, the Philippines and even Taiwan.

The THAAD system consists of a sophisticated radar and interceptor missiles designed to spot and knock out incoming ballistic missiles.



Furthermore, the USN, ROKN, and JMSDF carried out Aegis destroyer missile defense joint-training. And the US Navy SEAL unit that killed Osama Bin Laden is participated in the large scale training with ROK, as well as other US special force units.


American, Japanese and South Korean naval forces have joined in a series of large-scale drills that are intended to prepare for acts of aggression by North Korea.

The Republic of Korea Navy announced Tuesday that it is holding a trilateral missile-defense exercise with Japanese and American naval forces off the coast of the Korean Peninsula. This drill will operate independently from the other large-scale annual exercises near the North Korean border, known as Foal Eagle and Key Resolve, and it will allow sailors from all three navies to practice joint tracking of ballistic missiles. The destroyers Curtis Wilbur, Kirishima and Sejongdaewang will detect and track mock missile firings and will exchange information about the launches between ships. This is made possible by compatible technology all three are equipped with the American-built Aegis system and by a U.S.-operated satellite link.

Separately, the U.S. Navy carrier Carl Vinson and her air wing will arrive in Busan Wednesday to join in Operations Key Resolve and Foal Eagle. In addition, Korean military sources say that U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six the unit that killed Osama Bin Laden will be participating in exercises meant to "practice incapacitating North Korean leadership," according to Yonhap. The Army Rangers, the Delta Force and the Green Berets will also reportedly participate in the drills.

A Pentagon spokesman told Business Insider that the reports were incorrect, and that the military does not "train for decapitation missions." Pentagon officials told Fox News that Seal Team Six "is not part of this training," and that only local special operations units will be involved. However, South Korea has recently confirmed that it has a plan to eliminate Pyongyang's leadership in the event of war, and the Trump administration is said to be conducting a review of all available options for dealing with the "hermit kingdom" and its unpredictable government.

As the drills begin, the U.S. military has announced the forward deployment of the Army's MQ-1C Gray Eagle, an advanced surveillance and attack drone, to Kunsan Air Base near Seoul. The drone is reportedly capable of monitoring the entire Korean peninsula for up to 30 continuous flight hours, and it can carry the Hellfire air-to-surface missile. China has warned the U.S. that the deployment of the advanced drone and the U.S. military's THAAD anti-ballistic missile system threaten to destabilize the regional balance of power, and Beijing has called for concerned countries to "hit the brakes and try to put out the fire."

In an echo of its rhetoric during previous drills, North Korea has threatened "merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea and underwater" if the Foal Eagle exercises infringe on its "sovereignty and dignity.



Edited by JasonJ
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Kim doesn't strike me as a Middle East cowardly dictator type. He strikes me more as a double-tap SS style in the Bunker in the ruins of his capital type. China has a decision to make - either stall for time by going along with Washington, or send an expeditionary force to North Korea. Given the weakness of the Chinese regime the latter option seems premature.

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Tillerson has "warm words" with Xi.



With warm words from Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended his first trip to Asia since taking office with an agreement to work together with China on North Korea and putting aside trickier issues.

China has been irritated at being repeatedly told by Washington to rein in North Korea's nuclear and missile programs and the U.S. decision to base an advanced missile defense system in South Korea.

Beijing is also deeply suspicious of U.S. intentions toward self-ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own, with the Trump administration crafting a big new arms package for the democratic island that is bound to anger China.

But meeting in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, those issues were brushed aside by Xi and Tillerson, at least in front of reporters, with Xi saying Tillerson had made a lot of efforts to achieve a smooth transition in a new era of relations.

"You said that China-U.S. relations can only be friendly. I express my appreciation for this," Xi said.

Xi said he had communicated with President Donald Trump several times through telephone conversations and messages.

"We both believe that China-U.S. cooperation henceforth is the direction we are both striving for. We are both expecting a new era for constructive development," Xi said.

Tillerson replied that Trump looks forward to enhancing understanding with China and the opportunity for a visit in the future.

Tillerson said Trump places a "very high value on the communications that have already occurred" between Xi and Trump.

"And he looks forward to enhancing that understanding in the opportunity for a visit in the future," Tillerson said.

"We know that through further dialogue we will achieve a greater understanding that will lead to a strengthened, strengthening of the ties between China and the United States and set the tone for our future relationship of cooperation."

Trump has so far been an unpredictable partner for China, attacking Beijing on issues ranging from trade to the South China Sea and in December by talking to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

Before Tillerson arrived in Beijing on Saturday, Trump said North Korea was "behaving very badly" and accused China of doing little to resolve the crisis over the North's weapons programs.


Speaking in Seoul on Friday, Tillerson issued the Trump administration's starkest warning yet to North Korea, saying in Seoul that a military response would be "on the table" if Pyongyang took action to threaten South Korean and U.S. forces.

Still, China and the United States appeared to have made some progress or put aside differences on difficult issues, at least in advance of a planned summit between Xi and Trump.

Both Tillerson and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi struck a more conciliatory tone in their meeting, with Tillerson saying the United States and China would work together to get nuclear-armed North Korea take "a different course".


Underscoring the tensions, North Korea conducted a test of a new high-thrust engine at its Tongchang-ri rocket launch station and leader Kim Jong Un said the successful test was "a new birth" of its rocket industry, Pyongyang's official media said on Sunday.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and a series of missile launches, in defiance of U.N. sanctions, and is believed by experts and government officials to be working to develop nuclear-warhead missiles that could reach the United States.

Washington wants China, the North's neighbor and main trading partner, to use its influence to rein in the weapons programs.

China says it is committed to enforcing U.N. sanctions on North Korea, but all sides have a responsibility to lessen tensions and get back to the negotiating table.

Chinese official also repeatedly say they do not have the influence over North Korea that Washington and others believe, and express fears poverty-struck North Korea could collapse if it were cut off completely, pushing destabilizing waves of refugees into northeastern China.





Before the meeting with Tillerson and Xi, Tillerson meet with China's foreign Minister Wang and an impression of cooperation seems to be generated over their evident different views. If I find a longer or full version, I'll put it up, but for now, this is all I can find.


Tillerson: "...and we view that there are a number of steps that we can take that are in front of us. And foreign minster Wang has agreed that we will work together to see if we can not bring the government in Pyongyang to a place where they want to make a different course and move away from their development of their nuclear weapons. But it is with a certain sense of urgency that we both feel because of the current situation that we have on the peninsula. Let me in close, our two countries should have a positive..."


Wang "I want to remind you of, As the UN Security Council resolutions concerning DPRK have imposed a series of increasingly tougher sanctions on the country. China has stressed or reiterated in clear terms that the parties concerned concerned should resume dialogues and negotiations, maintain the stability of the Korean Peninsula, and avoid aggregating the situation. Therefore, it is the obligation for all of the relevant parties to carry out the sanctions, and it is also their responsibility to restart dialogue. The current situation is simply caused by the suspension of talks, which made political diplomacy impossible. The situation on the Peninsula has come to a new crossroad where we see either situation worsened and lead to conflicts, or we find a breakthrough and return to the track of dialogue while in the process of strictly implementing UN Security Council resolutions. We hope that all parties, including our American friends, could be cool headed and make wise choices."



In any case, North Korea just tested a new rocket engine.


SEOUL: North Korea has tested a new high-performance rocket engine, the country's state media said Sunday.

Overseeing the test, leader Kim Jong-Un "emphasised that the whole world will soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won today carries", KCNA reported, hinting that the North is preparing to launch a new satellite rocket.

"The development and completion of a new-type high-thrust engine would help consolidate the scientific and technological foundation to match the world-level satellite delivery capability in the field of outer space development, he noted", KCNA said.

Rocket engines are easily re-purposed for use in missiles.

Outside observers say that the nuclear-armed Pyongyang's space programme is a fig leaf for weapons tests.

The new US Secretary of State Tillerson arrived in Beijing Saturday after visits to US allies Japan and South Korea where he said the US would no longer observe the "failed" approach of patient diplomacy with Pyongyang, warning that American military action against the North was an option "on the table".

The tougher US talk followed two North Korean nuclear tests last year and recent missile launches that Pyongyang described as practice for an attack on US bases in Japan. -- AFP



Edited by JasonJ
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Kim doesn't strike me as a Middle East cowardly dictator type. He strikes me more as a double-tap SS style in the Bunker in the ruins of his capital type. China has a decision to make - either stall for time by going along with Washington, or send an expeditionary force to North Korea. Given the weakness of the Chinese regime the latter option seems premature.


In the meantime, if their support for Jae Moon is any indication, South Koreans appear ready for the Sunshine Policy Part 2.


Now, after being out of power for almost 10 years, the South Korean liberal opposition is on the verge of retaking the presidency with the historic court ruling on Friday that ousted its conservative enemy, President Park Geun-hye, who had been impeached in a corruption scandal.

The liberals’ presidential hopeful, Moon Jae-in, wants a profound change in the country’s tense relations with North Korea, pushing outreach and dialogue. He also is deeply skeptical of the hawkish stance embraced by the conservatives and South Korea’s most important defender, the United States.

But he also said in a recently published book that South Korea should learn to “say no to the Americans."

Jae has apparently read Ishihara S, Morita A. The Japan That Can Say No: Why Japan Will Be First Among Equals. Whether Ishihara and Morita's arguments are backwards-applicable to Korea and Koreanese remains to be seen.

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An interesting South Korean opinion poll about THAAD and country favorability. US lost a bit of ground. Japan is still disliked throughout the months, but at least doing better than the Norks. China's economic retaliation cost it big points, putting it below even Japan for the first time in a long time. The US of course wants to see trilateral defense relations between the US-ROK-JPN, but at minimum, so long as the US and ROK stick together, then good enough. Support for THAAD is a little shaky but hanging on there.






The whole survey is interesting. Link below.


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The time has come for the recalled Japanese ambassador to return to Seoul. The gesture in protest of Korea's stance on the comfort women issue has gone on long enough, to the point where it is making Abe's reaction appear tantrum like.

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North Korean missile launch failed.





NORTH Korea has spectacularly failed to launch its latest missile.

Just days after the reclusive regime claimed a major breakthrough in its rocket development program, its latest attempt to display its military might did not last long after a missile exploded within seconds of its launch on Wednesday.

The US military detected the failed missile launch attempt.

“US Pacific Command detected what we assess was a failed North Korean missile launch attempt ... in the vicinity of Kalma,” Commander Dave Benham, a spokesman for US Pacific Command, said.

“A missile appears to have exploded within seconds of launch,” Benham said, adding that work was being carried out on a more detailed assessment.

South Korea’s defence ministry said it was also aware of the missile launch failure, two weeks after Pyongyang launched four rockets in what it called a drill for an attack on US bases in Japan.

The North fired one missile from an air base in the eastern port of Wonsan Wednesday morning, but the launch “is believed to have failed”, Seoul’s defence ministry said in a statement.

“We are in the process of analysing what type of missile it was,” it added.

The failure might mean the missile was a newly developed one that has not deployed.

Last year, the country suffered a series of embarrassing failed launches of its new medium-range Musudan missile before it successfully test-fired one.

Japan’s Kyodo news service, citing an unidentified government source, said the missiles were possibly launched from North Korea’s east, adding that there was information that the launches were a failure.

Nuclear-armed North Korea launched four ballistic missiles earlier this month, with three landing provocatively close to America’s ally Japan.

The launches come as Seoul and Washington hold large-scale annual joint military exercises that always infuriate Pyongyang, which sees them as a rehearsal for invasion.

American officials said earlier this week that the US military expected another North Korean missile launch in the next several days. The officials said the U.S. had increased its surveillance over the North and had detected a North Korean missile launcher being moved, as well as the construction of VIP seating in Wonsan.

The North’s state media said Sunday that it had conducted a ground test of a new type of high-thrust rocket engine, which it hailed as a breakthrough for the country’s space program.

Weapons experts say such technology has applications for the North’s ballistic missile program.


Nuclear-armed North Korea is under several sets of United Nations sanctions over its atomic and ballistic missile programs.

It is on a quest to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with an atomic warhead, and staged two nuclear tests and multiple missile launches last year.

Earlier this month it launched a flight of four ballistic missiles, with three landing provocatively close to Japan in what Pyongyang described as practice for attacks on US military bases in Japan.

On Sunday, the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un personally oversaw and hailed a “successful” test of what Pyongyang said was a new rocket engine — which can be easily repurposed for use in missiles.

Seoul said that experiment showed “meaningful progress” in the North’s missile capabilities.

Analysts’ opinions are varied on how advanced the North’s missile technologies are but many agree that Pyongyang has made significant progress in recent years.

The engine test was apparently timed to coincide with a recent Asia trip by new US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who warned that regional tensions had reached a “dangerous level.” Washington would drop the “failed” approach of “strategic patience” with Pyongyang, Tillerson said, warning that US military action was an “option on the table” if necessary — a sharp divergence from China’s insistence on a diplomatic approach to its neighbour, which it has long protected.

This week the North’s state news agency KCNA boasted that Tillerson had “admitted the failure” of US policy to denuclearise the nation.

Pyongyang insists that it needs nuclear weapons for self-defence against “hostile enemies” including the South and its ally the US.



RoK military says North Korea is ready for another nuke test.




North Korea appears to have completed preparation for another nuclear test and is ready to carry it out, South Korea’s military said Friday, as the United Nations adopted a statement condemning Pyongyang’s latest military provocations.

“Our assessment is that North Korea is ready to conduct a nuclear test if they get the go ahead from Kim Jong-un,” said an official from Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff in a meeting with reporters. “We believe they have been preparing for a long period of time.”

Fox News and AFP reported Thursday that the North would conduct a sixth nuclear test within the coming days, citing US officials with knowledge of the matter. The officials said they have seen evidence of imminent nuclear tests, such as the digging of new tunnels around the Punggye-ri test site.

Although Pyongyang is ready to conduct the nuclear test “at any time,” Seoul’s military has yet to find indications that the North emplaced nuclear devices and monitoring equipment at the Punggye-ri test site, where the North conducted all of its five nuclear tests during the past decade, the JCS official added.

The military assessment coincided with unanimous adoption of the UN Security Council’s press statement against the North, which denounced the regime for conducting a failed missile test Wednesday and a ground test of a new type of high-thrust rocket engine last Sunday.

“The members of the council expressed serious concern over the DPRK’s increasingly destabilizing behavior and flagrant and provocative defiance of the Security Council,” the UN said in a press statement, referring to North Korea’s official name.

South Korea and the US held an after-action review of Key Resolve on Friday, bringing an end to the computer-based command post military drill. The allies applied the OPLAN 5015, which focuses on staging a pre-emptive strike against the North’s weapons of mass destruction, such as nukes and missiles.

During the two-week military drills, the allies’ forces reportedly employed an operational guideline to use an US advanced missile shield, known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system. It was said to be used for intercepting incoming ballistic missiles during the initial phase of a war.

Separately, the allies will stage massive logistics drills near Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, between April 10 and 21 as a part of field-training Foal Eagle exercise, said an official from the US-led Combined Forces Command in Seoul.

“The exercise is aimed to improve (and) integrate the allies’ logistics capability in various domains such as air, ground, sea, space and cyberspace,” said the official. “The exercise will involve 2,500 US soldiers and 1,200 from South Korea.”

Scheduled to continue until the end of next month, the Foal Eagle exercise is expected to be the largest-ever in scale, with the participation of top-notch US strategic assets including a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, stealth fighters and a nuclear bomber.



Some more from Foal Eagle.


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Meeting between Trump and Xi is coming up this week. Trade and North Korea thought to be big topics. Trump says the US can solve the North Korea problem without China if China doesn't help reign in on North Korea first. Time will tell on that of course.




Donald Trump has warned that the US will take unilateral action to eliminate the nuclear threat from North Korea unless China increases pressure on the regime in Pyongyang.

In an interview with the Financial Times, the US president said he would discuss the growing threat from Kim Jong Un’s nuclear programme with Xi Jinping when he hosts the Chinese president at his Florida resort this week, in their first meeting.

“China has great influence over North Korea. And China will either decide to help us with North Korea, or they won’t,” Mr Trump said in the Oval Office. “If they do, that will be very good for China, and if they don’t, it won’t be good for anyone.”

But he made clear that he would deal with North Korea with or without China’s help. Asked if he would consider a “grand bargain” — where China pressures Pyongyang in exchange for a guarantee that the US would later remove troops from the Korean peninsula — Mr Trump said: “Well if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.”

The White House views North Korea as the most imminent threat to the US after Barack Obama warned his successor about the progress Pyongyang had made developing long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.

“There is a real possibility that North Korea will be able to hit the US with a nuclear-armed missile by the end of the first Trump term,” KT McFarland, the deputy White House national security adviser, told the FT in a separate interview.

While Mr Trump is increasingly worried about North Korea, his view on Europe has moderated. He stressed that Brexit would be a “great deal for [the] UK and . . . really good for the European Union” but said he was less convinced that other countries would follow the UK out of the EU. “I think that it [the centre] is really holding. I think they have done a better job since Brexit.”

Ahead of the US-China summit, Mr Trump raised hopes that he would reach some kind of deal with Mr Xi, despite heavy criticism about China’s trade surplus and exchange rate policy. “I have great respect for him. I have great respect for China. I would not be at all surprised if we did something that would be very dramatic and good for both countries and I hope so.”

The National Security Council has completed a review of options on North Korea that Mr Trump ordered after his inauguration, according to two people familiar with the review. One of those people said the review had been accelerated to have the options ready for the Trump-Xi summit.

Mr Trump said it was “totally” possible for the US to tackle North Korea without China. Asked if that meant dealing with Pyongyang one on one, he said: “I don’t have to say any more. Totally.”

Barring a pre-emptive strike on North Korea — which the administration will not rule out since all options are on the table — many experts believe the US needs Chinese help as Beijing has the most sway over Pyongyang. But Washington could consider alternatives, ranging from more effective sanctions to various kinds of more controversial covert action.

“What President Trump is trying to do here is to press the Chinese hard by warning them what comes next if they don’t help or join with the US to deal with this problem,” said Dennis Wilder, a former CIA China analyst who later served as the top White House Asia aide to George W Bush.

“What he is signalling is that the next step is to begin secondary sanctions, which we have avoided. They are sanctions on Chinese companies and individuals who deal with North Korea,” he added.

Mr Wilder said Mr Trump could also pressure China not to use North Korean labour, which is a source of revenue for Pyongyang. “Then you get to the other options, which are much more controversial, like taking covert action against North Korea, for example using cyber.”

The mounting concerns about North Korea were underscored recently when Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, said during a visit to Asia that the previous US “policy of strategic patience has ended”.

China has also raised alarms about the increasingly dangerous situation on the Korean peninsula. Last month, Wang Yi, the Chinese foreign minister, called on North Korea to halt its missile and nuclear programmes, while urging the US to stop military exercises that anger Pyongyang. “The two sides are like two accelerating trains coming towards each other with neither side willing to give way. The question is, are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision?” Mr Wang said.



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A three day joint naval training in ASW by US, ROK, and JPN.




South Korea, the United States and Japan began a three-day joint naval exercise, Monday, to counter growing threats from North Korea's submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM).

This is the first time for the three countries to carry out joint anti-submarine exercises, the Ministry of National Defense said.

The drills came after they discussed the issue in their Defense Trilateral Talks (DTT) in December.

"The exercise is taking place until Wednesday in international waters between South Korea and Japan near Jeju Island," the ministry said in a release.

"The drills are designed to enhance the three countries' abilities in searching, identifying and tracking enemy submarines in order to ensure an effective response to North Korea's submarine threats including its development of an SLBM capability."

Seoul dispatched the 4,400-ton destroyer Kang Gam Chan with its Lynx anti-submarine helicopter, while Washington sent the 9,200-ton Aegis-equipped destroyer USS McCampbell and its MH-60 anti-submarine chopper and a P-3 Orion patrol plane. Tokyo dispatched destroyer, the Sawagiri, with its anti-submarine helicopter.

"During the practice, the navies will search, identify and track a mock submarine, and exchange relevant information," the ministry said. "This exercise reflects the three nations' determination to better deter North Korea's nuclear and missile threats."

Pyongyang test-fired SLBMs in April, July and August last year. Among them, the one fired in August flew about 500 kilometers and splashed down in waters under Japan's Air Defense Identification Zone in the East Sea, showing a significant improvement from past tests.

In December, Japan's public broadcaster NHK also reported, quoting U.S. officials, that the U.S. had detected a ground test of an SLBM in North Korea.

South Korea believes the North will be able to deploy operational SLBMs within one to three years.

In response to this growing threat, the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said, Monday, that it has decided to introduce additional anti-ballistic missile early warning radars that will become part of the Korean Air and Missile Defense, designed to track and shoot down North Korean missiles heading for South Korea.



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Norks launched another of one of those new missiles, but it only flew 60km compared to the first time when it flew over 500km.




North Korea launched a ballistic missile Wednesday into the East Sea, South Korea's military said, just two days ahead of summit talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

"North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the East Sea from a site in the vicinity of Sinpo, South Hamgyong Province, at around 6:42 a.m.," the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement. "The flight distance is about 60 kilometers."

The projectile is estimated to be "a type of KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile," also known as Pukguksong-2, and the maximum altitude of its flight was 189 km, a senior JCS official later told reporters.

"It's still premature to conclude whether the test-firing was a success or failure," he added. "It was detected by South Korean Navy's Aegis ship operating in the East Sea and the Air Force's ballistic missile warning system."

He said the North seems to have aimed to test the technology of its ballistic missile technology and also considered the timing just before the U.S.-China summit.

Citing an initial assessment, the U.S. Pacific Command also said the projectile seems to be a KN-15 ballistic missile fired from a land-based facility.

It flew nine minutes, added the Hawaii-based command.

The South's presidential office convened an emergency National Security Council (NSC) meeting to discuss the provocation, presided over by Kim Kwan-jin, the national security adviser to Acting President Hwang Kyo-han.

Hwang ordered the nation's troops to strengthen their combat readiness in case of a contingency.

The North's move came as Trump plans to host the Chinese president in his Florida estate on Thursday and Friday (local time) for their first summit. The North Korea issue will likely be among top agenda items.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Trump warned that the U.S will take unilateral action to get rid of the North's military threats unless China does its part.

Two weeks ago, the North test-fired a missile, which ended in failure. Earlier in March, the North fired four ballistic missiles, three of which fell into the sea near Japan.

In February, it blasted a Pukguksong-2 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) from a mobile launcher. It flew more than 500km.

The Kim Jong-un regime conducted two nuclear tests and fired two dozen missiles last year.

Concern has grown that it may carry out another nuclear test or long-range rocket launch.

North Korea's state-controlled media remained silent about the latest missile launch.




Issue taken up to PACOM about the name of that sea.




SEOUL, April 5 (Yonhap) -- Shortly after North Korea's ballistic missile launch on Wednesday, the U.S. military issued a statement that may add to the anger of Koreans over the naming of the waters between the peninsula and Japan.

In a five-paragraph document posted on its website, the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM), headquartered in Hawaii, confirmed the North's firing of a missile, saying it flew nine minutes before falling into the "Sea of Japan."

Almost simultaneously, the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) here uploaded a statement on its own homepage with mostly the same content.

The only differences were the time, as PACOM's version is based on Hawaii time and the USFK's notes Korean standard time, and the name of the waters, which Koreans call the East Sea.

The USFK's statement said the missile landed in "waters East of the Korean Peninsula."

Some South Korean journalists stationed at the defense ministry's press room complained about PACOM's use of the Sea of Japan alone in the official document directly involving Korea and read by many people in the key regional ally.

They stressed the U.S. military should have used the East Sea name as well, as the international name of the body of water also bordered by Russia is disputed.

Koreans point out that Japan's naming dates back to its 1910-45 colonial rule of the peninsula and it's unfair to use it only.

A USFK official told Yonhap News Agency that his office modified PACOM's version.

"We are aware of the issue, which is not new," he said, requesting anonymity. "PACOM is just following the U.S. government position on the geographical name decided by its maritime-boundary agency."


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An article with a number of Nork naval base images that might be interesting. Big article, so no typical quote box.



North Korea’s submarine force is one of the more capable wings of its generally decrepit military. The current force’s strength lies mostly in its numbers — North Korea possesses roughly 70 submarines in all, roughly 40 of which are its newest Shark-class vessels. (Though still dangerous to its adversaries, even the Shark-class reflects pretty dated technology.) With that number, the DPRK can and does crowd its coasts with torpedo-armed or mine-laying submarines, establishing a respectable anti-surface capability near its waters. Though most of its submarine force is old, loud, or both, still North Korea tinkers on, boldly determined to achieve a reliable sea-based nuclear deterrent.

To this effect, the DPRK is building the new Gorae-class submarine (or Sinpo-class) and testing Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) accordingly. Remarkably, most of this activity and materiel are headquartered within a few kilometers of each other in the city of Sinpo and the nearby Mayang-Do Naval Base. Shipyards for the new Gorae-class, SLBM research and development facilities, many or most of the DPRK’s east coast submarines, and the only known ground-based launch platforms for SLBM tests — all are located along the same 35 square kilometer stretch of the North Korean coast. A well-coordinated first strike on this facility would hamstring the North’s submarine fleet, its submarine building capacity, and its hopes of a credible naval nuclear deterrent all in one go.




Sinpo, a small city bordering the Sea of Japan, has been building North Korean submarines for decades. Sinpo’s shipyards churned out dozens of the aforementioned Shark-class submarines in the 1990s, and are now constructing more of the newest Gorae-class as well. (Nuclear missile submarines are generally larger than their conventional counterparts — Gorae, not incidentally, is Korean for “whale.”) As Joe Bermudez, a renowned expert on North Korean military matters, reported — twice — this particular vessel may very well undergo more testing and tweaking before more are built. In light of Sinpo’s history with the Shark-class, its current status as headquarters for the Gorae, and the overall prominence of submarines within the DPRK Navy, North Korea undoubtedly regards Sinpo as one of its most valuable shipbuilding sites.

Not content with the prospect of a mobile, surface-launched ICBM capability, North Korea is simultaneously — albeit much more slowly — working toward a sea-based nuclear deterrent. Crafting a reliable SLBM is a long, arduous process, full of tests, setbacks, and incremental improvement. Lamentably, however, North Korean ballistic missile development is progressing much faster than historical precedent would suggest, thanks in large part to newly unemployed Soviet scientists traveling to Pyongyang as the Cold War ended. Still, rigorous testing is necessary for new models to be considered remotely reliable, and the North has yet to come near this threshold in its SLBM program.



A very poor test of an infant SLBM program could result in substantial damage to the submarine itself. To avoid any such potential and costly destruction, North Korea has constructed a land-based SLBM launch platform at Sinpo, barely a kilometer away from the Gorae’s submarine pen. We believe this to be the only such facility heretofore identified by open-source intelligence. Destroying it — and the Gorae next door — would deliver a crushing body blow to the North’s SLBM program.




Whether North Korea could realistically achieve a working long-range, nuclear SLBM by 2025 remains in serious doubt. Actually producing a functioning naval nuclear deterrent is several other matters entirely. The Gorae-class subs would need to be both quiet and capable of traveling the length of the Pacific Ocean to get into range of the United States, and both of these prospects seem a ways off. Once the vessel design is perfected, North Korea would need to produce at least six such submarines to maintain a continuous, credible deterrent. Then there’s the need for reliable command, control, and communications infrastructure, all of which would need to markedly improve on current conditions. North Korea remains rather far from a sea-based deterrent; one successful strike on Sinpo could set them back many more years.

Scanning a satellite photograph (dated December 2016) of Sinpo’s naval facilities and the Mayang-Do Naval Base not three kilometers off the coast, I personally counted over 25 docked submarines. Satellite imagery from March and May of that year do not reveal quite so many, but still well over a dozen are clearly visible. Most of these were the older, less capable Yono­- and Romeo-class models. Still: the quantity of submarines facing simultaneous destruction is more than high enough to warrant attention; these smaller submarines can be used to traffic North Korean Special Ops into South Korean territory; the brand new Gorae lies within two kilometers of the other clustered submarines; and the research, testing, and naval support facilities add substantially to the base’s strategic value.




Predictably, a surprise strike would be practically necessary to eliminate all of these assets in one fell swoop. The DPRK would be expected to disperse their submarines during times of heightened tension. (Note that the satellite images from March 2016 — taken during the annual U.S.-South Korea military exercises — show fewer submarines than in December.) A surprise strike could effectively cripple the North Korean East Sea Fleet; recall that submarines are the backbone of the DPRK Navy. Mayang-Do is one of but two east coast submarine bases, and Sinpo is the flagship of the North’s SLBM program.


Rarely in military strategy do significance and vulnerability pair as smoothly together as they do at Sinpo and Mayang-Do. Generally, a base’s significance bestows upon it a certain vulnerability, for shrewd adversaries tend to strike their opponent’s center of gravity. This can then be ameliorated with physical fortifications, air defense networks, missile defense systems, secrecy, and so on. But truly, little in North Korea is “well defended” by modern military standards.

Sinpo and its related military facilities lie within close range of Toksan and Iwon air bases, both loaded with MiG-21 fighter aircraft. North Korea possesses several sophisticated or pseudo-sophisticated air defense systems, from the ancient SA-2 to the more modern KN-06. The KN-06 is very similar to the Russian S-300 and the Chinese HQ-9, the latter itself also being curiously similar to the S-300. This makes the KN-06 North Korea’s most advanced surface-to-air missile to date and the most plausible threat against American or allied aircraft. The KN-06 is still undergoing testing, however, and it is unclear how many batteries the North plans to produce.

As of right now, MiG-21s and S-200s look to be the most likely defenders of Sinpo and Mayang-Do. These platforms represent no real threat to the U.S., South Korean, or Japanese air forces. In Operation Desert Storm, American F-15s made quick work of Iraqi MiG-21s, 23s, 29s, and Su-25s. North Korea does not currently operate a single aircraft better than those the United States easily defeated over 25 years ago. Perhaps the North Korean Air Force or its SAMs would get lucky and destroy a few U.S. aircraft. Perhaps they get really lucky and slay a few more. Unless they can somehow shoot down most of the planes involved in a first strike — possibly including stealthy F-22s and B-2s or pseudo-stealthy F-35s — and intercept the cruise missiles fired from American and allied ships, the North Koreans would not be able to defend their base from utter destruction.



A strike on Sinpo and the island of Mayang-Do would be a tactician’s dream. One full salvo on the submarines stationed there (and their supportive infrastructure) could constitute the most brutally efficient military operation of the next Korean War. The risk-reward ratio dramatically favors the aggressor. Esteemed professionals — two former secretaries of defense, for example — have called for preventative strikes against North Korean military facilities. That is not what I am doing here. But should an aggressor choose to target Sinpo in such a wave, they could simultaneously cripple much of North Korea’s submarine force and slam its SLBM program to a halt.



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USS Carl Vinson has been busy lately. Apparently now at Singapore and was planned to visit Australia but will instead return to the Korean peninsula region as a North Korea anniversary on April 15th draws near.




A U.S. Navy strike group will be moving toward the western Pacific Ocean near the Korean peninsula as a show of force, a U.S. official told Reuters on Saturday, as concerns grow about North Korea's advancing weapons program.

Earlier this month North Korea tested a liquid-fueled Scud missile which only traveled a fraction of its range.

The strike group, called Carl Vinson, includes an aircraft carrier and will make its way from Singapore toward the Korean peninsula, according to the official, who was not authorized to speak to the media and requested anonymity.

"We feel the increased presence is necessary," the official said, citing North Korea's worrisome behavior.

The news was first reported by Reuters.

In a statement late Saturday, the U.S. Navy's Third Fleet said the strike group had been directed to sail north, but it did not specify the destination. The military vessels will operate in the Western Pacific rather than making previously planned port visits to Australia, it added.

This year North Korean officials, including leader Kim Jong Un, have repeatedly indicated an intercontinental ballistic missile test or something similar could be coming, possibly as soon as April 15, the 105th birthday of North Korea's founding president and celebrated annually as "the Day of the Sun."

Earlier this week U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in Florida, where Trump pressed his counterpart to do more to curb North Korea's nuclear program.

Trump's national security aides have completed a review of U.S. options to try to curb North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. These include economic and military measures but lean more toward sanctions and increased pressure on Beijing to rein in its reclusive neighbor.

Although the option of pre-emptive military strikes on North Korea is not off the table, the review prioritizes less-risky steps and de-emphasizes direct military action.

Trump spoke with South Korea's acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn on Friday, the White House said on Saturday in a statement which did not mention the strike group.



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RE: Scud Missile


I guess they could've tested it with simulated nuclear warhead, hence increased weight and reduced range...but why?


Something that has come to mind is perhaps sometimes they do intentional short range and partially failed launches. Doing so might enable them to test certain aspects of a rocket design with reduced backlash from the US, UN, ROK, etc. Or maybe its a psychological effect by giving the impression that they should not be taken so seriously by showing off a handful of unimpressive launches. Or maybe it's just a mix of old parts and incompetence.

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RE: Scud Missile


I guess they could've tested it with simulated nuclear warhead, hence increased weight and reduced range...but why?


Something that has come to mind is perhaps sometimes they do intentional short range and partially failed launches. Doing so might enable them to test certain aspects of a rocket design with reduced backlash from the US, UN, ROK, etc. Or maybe its a psychological effect by giving the impression that they should not be taken so seriously by showing off a handful of unimpressive launches. Or maybe it's just a mix of old parts and incompetence.



That doesn't really jibe with my understanding of NOK mentality...they seem to put a great premium on appearance of military strength.

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RE: Scud Missile


I guess they could've tested it with simulated nuclear warhead, hence increased weight and reduced range...but why?


Something that has come to mind is perhaps sometimes they do intentional short range and partially failed launches. Doing so might enable them to test certain aspects of a rocket design with reduced backlash from the US, UN, ROK, etc. Or maybe its a psychological effect by giving the impression that they should not be taken so seriously by showing off a handful of unimpressive launches. Or maybe it's just a mix of old parts and incompetence.



That doesn't really jibe with my understanding of NOK mentality...they seem to put a great premium on appearance of military strength.



It's only something that comes to my mind once in a while. I would have to suspect that they are able to play mind games. Just an attempt to fully rationalize the Norks. It could very much just be that they still try to give an impression of military strength even with failed rocket launches.

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Kim and Assad exchange messages of close ties..



North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have exchanged congratulatory messages on key anniversaries, boasting close ties as they face rising pressure from the United States.

The North's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said Tuesday that Kim received two messages from Assad on the occasion of the 105th anniversary of North Korea founder Kim Il-sung's birthday and the fifth anniversary of the incumbent leader's inauguration.

"The two friendly countries are celebrating this anniversary and, at the same time, conducting a war against big powers' wild ambitions to subject all countries to their expansionist and dominationist policy and deprive them of their rights to self-determination," the agency quoted Assad as saying.

"The two peoples of Syria and the DPRK are as ever struggling for their rights to self-determination and national sovereignty and the security and prosperity of their countries."

The words came as the U.S. increased military pressure on Syria and North Korea, bombing a Syrian military airfield in retaliation to an alleged poison gas attack. The attack raised the alarm with North Korea that it, too, could face use of force by the U.S. in the case of a worsening conflict.

The DPRK is the acronym for the North's official name ― the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

The KCNA also reported that the message expressed "belief that the relations of friendship and cooperation between the two countries would grow stronger in conformity with the interests of the two peoples."

In the other congratulatory message, the Syrian leader wished for "good health and happiness to Kim Jong-un and progress and prosperity to the Korean people under his wise guidance."

The letters from Assad were in response to Kim's letter congratulating Assad on the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling Ba'ath party last week.

"The two countries' friendly relations will be strengthened and developed, given their fight against imperialism," Kim was quoted as saying by North Korea's main newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

In the letter, Kim reaffirmed anti-U.S. solidarity, describing the Ba'ath party as resolutely resisting foreign and domestic enemies in the ongoing fight for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.

North Korea and Syria are known to have nurtured friendly bilateral ties for decades, with the former providing missiles and weapons technologies directly to the latter while Kim Jong-un's father, Kim Jong-il, was in power. The North has long been suspected of cooperating with Syria on developing nuclear weapons.





More tweets from Trump saying the US can solve the North Korean problem without China.



US President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the United States is ready to solve the North Korean "problem" without China if necessary.

"North Korea is looking for trouble," Trump wrote on Twitter. "If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A."

Trump launched a missile strike on Syria late Thursday while meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

The move was widely interpreted as a warning to North Korea as well as retaliation for the Damascus regime's suspected sarin attack against civilians in a rebel-held town in Syria.

"I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!" Trump wrote in an earlier tweet.

The United States has deployed a naval strike group -- which includes the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson -- to the Korean peninsula in a show of force.

Trump has previously threatened unilateral action against Pyongyang if China, the North's sole major ally, fails to help curb its neighbor's nuclear ambitions. (AFP)




Edited by JasonJ
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There are some reports saying China is moving 150,000 troops to the North Korean border region.




Growing citizen reports indicated last night that China is preparing for trouble across its 1420km ­border with North Korea — its partially estranged ally — by ­deploying troops.

Social media claims were given some added credence by an unusual story on the website of the Global Times that sourced entirely from South Korea’s Yonhap newsagency its information about 150,000 extra Chinese troops being sent to the border region.

China’s more mainstream media, usually led by state newsagency Xinhua, had not reported on this deployment by last night.

A resident of the border area who did not wish to be named told The Australian that “we are hoping that the social media rumours of soldiers coming are true, for our safety”. The resident said “the ­atmosphere” around the Yalu River that flows along the ­border “remains relaxed — there are still many tourists here”.

South Korea’s Chosun.com had reported that medical and other units were being deployed by China to handle North Korean refugees and be ready for the after-effects of “unforeseen circumstances” such as a pre-emptive US strike on North Korea.

A South Korean Defence ­Ministry spokesman said any ­action would be taken on the basis of “close collaboration between South Korea and the US” and said people should not be misled by online rumours of an “April ­crisis on the peninsula”.

The often strongly nationalist Global Times warned earlier, in an editorial in its Chinese language edition, that “North Korea should not misjudge the situation at this crucial moment; it should not venture to take more risks by thinking a sixth nuclear test will lead to nothing as did the previous five”.

“If it does so, responses from both Beijing and Washington might be unprecedented, even ­becoming a ‘turning point’.”

Late yesterday, it was reported Beijing had turned back a dozen North Korean coal-carrying cargo ships that had been en route to Chinese ports — in order to abide by UN sanctions.

The North’s verbal response to the dispatch of the US navy’s Carl Vinson strike group was predictably aggressive: the country “is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US”.

It is also predictable that within the next few days it will make a military response to this ­deployment, and to honour ­several anniversaries approaching in North Korea.

The rhetoric from North Korea is consistently warlike. And the first session of North Korea’s version of a parliament since Kim Jong-un was elected chairman last year was to start last night, providing a platform for further threats.

Early last month, the Foreign Ministry said the annual Foal Eagle military exercise by South Korea and US forces was driving the Korean peninsula to the “brink of war”.

North Korea denounced ­Donald Trump’s missile attack on a Syrian airfield last week as an act of “intolerable aggression” that justified “a million times over” it obtaining nuclear weapons.

Pyongyang frequently honours anniversaries with ­military par­ades, tests or exercises. Tomorrow marks the fifth anniversary of the installation of Kim as head of the National Defence Commission.

Saturday is the 105th anniversary of the birthday of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the ruling dynasty, celebrated as the “Day of the Sun”. April 25 marks the 85th anniver­sary of the establishment of the ­Korean People’s Army.

The context of the growing confrontation includes the election on May 9 of a new president of South Korea, after Park Geun-hye was impeached. Both the leading candidates have indicated they are more inclined to seek negotiations with Pyongyang.

Among the options available to Kim for dual celebration and warning to the US are a sixth ­nuclear test, or shooting more ­medium-range ballistic missiles into the surrounding seas.

North Korea is believed to be close to developing the capacity to produce intercontinental missiles capable of reaching the west coast of the US and the east coast of ­Australia, but not quite yet.


Kim has become more predictable in his aggressive defence of his hereditary communist regime than the figure now emerging as his great antagonist, Mr Trump. He may also be concerned about any tacit understanding that may have emerged from last week’s summit between Mr Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping — who has declined to meet Kim — about a pre-emptive US strike.

Andrei Lankov — a professor at Kookmin University in Seoul who studied at Kim Il-sung ­University in Pyongyang — said a ­dictator’s key performance indi­cators are topped by staying alive and staying in power. Kim has ­performed logically and capably in that context, he said.

Iraq’s Saddam Hussein might have avoided his demise if he had genuinely possessed weapons of mass destruction, and Libya’s ­Muammar Gaddafi could have avoided his grisly end if he had not surrendered his, he said.

Professor Lankov noted how previously “the Americans kept talking about red lines” but let them pass without response — as in Syria. Last week’s attack, however, changes that equation, and Kim will be weighing the new risks ­triggered by further provocation.

He appears set, however, on a course from which backing away would also jeopardise his regime and his personal survival. He may thus be inclined to plough on, with more nuclear tests or missile shots coming soon.


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The sharply raising tensions on the Korean peninsula have put national security into the main theme of presidential elections in South Korea. The left leaning Moon Jae-in had dominated the polls since December 2016 however he has been more soft on North Korea and less supportive of THAAD. The national security issue might be causing the conservative voters in ROK to become a critical voter base and Moon has toughend his words regarding North Korea and more support ofr THAAD. His main rival, Anh Cheol-soo, is more of a center based candidate and looks like he'll be more successful in gaining conservative votes because of the current North Korea situation.




Security issues are dominating the country's presidential campaign, with the Donald Trump administration's hawkish approach to North Korea raising tension on the Korean Peninsula.

Analysts said Wednesday that candidates for the May 9 election are leaning to the right as rumors of a possible U.S. pre-emptive strike on Pyongyang in April are fanning fears here. The North also vowed Tuesday to take the "toughest" counteraction against any attack on its soil.

In the latest in a series of offensive remarks on the North, the White House warned that President Trump has put Pyongyang "clearly on notice," and if he decides to take action, it will be "decisive and proportional" as seen in the U.S. military strikes on Syria last week.

Kim Jae-chun, an international relations professor at Sogang University, said, "Amid heightening security concerns, the advantage will go to the candidate who calls for strength in national security."

Candidates are now competitively stressing the importance of national security during their campaigns with frontrunners Moon Jae-in and Ahn Cheol-soo recently raising the need to push ahead with the controversial deployment of a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery here. Both Moon and Ahn previously expressed opposition to the installation.

The shift in their views comes as it has become more and more important to woo conservative voters to win the election as Moon of the liberal Democratic Party of Korea and Ahn of the centrist People's Party are in a neck-and-neck race in opinion polls. Political experts said the choice of conservative voters may decide the election as they do not have a strong enough candidate in the election, a result of the downfall of conservative parties along with former President Park Geun-hye's removal from office last month due to a massive corruption scandal.

Well aware of the fact that the security issues could be a weak point for a liberal candidate, Ahn keeps making tough remarks to hold his rival, Moon, in check. Ahn told reporters Tuesday, "The North Korean nuclear issue is the most important matter in the nation's national security. I will persuade China to cooperate with the United States."

In line with this, Ahn visited an army unit in Incheon last week, during which he wore a military uniform and went through shooting training.

For his part, Moon presided over an emergency security meeting of his party, also on Tuesday.

"If the calamity of war occurs again on the Korean Peninsula, I will take up a gun myself," he said during the meeting. "I warn North Korea clearly that we have been patient enough. We possess the military power to overwhelm North Korea."

Moon also suggested holding a security meeting presided over by the National Assembly speaker and participated in by chairmen and presidential candidates from each party, but the offer was rejected by the other candidates.

Conservative candidates criticized Moon. Hong Joon-pyo of the Liberty Korea Party (LKP) called Moon's offer to hold the meeting a "political show" designed only to appeal to voters, while Yoo Seong-min of the Bareun Party said Moon's offer was "arrogant," considering he had been opposed to the THAAD deployment.

LKP floor leader Chung Woo-taik criticized both Moon and Ahn for their flip-flopping on THAAD, saying, "There is no sincerity in their security pledges."

Some experts raised speculation that the U.S. has taken a hawkish approach to North in consideration of the South Korean election.

Referring to the recent dispatch of a U.S. Navy strike group led by the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Carl Vinson to waters close to the Korean Peninsula, they said it was unusual for the U.S. armed forces to mobilize the carrier again in less than a month. The USS Carl Vinson super-carrier made a port call in Busan last month and participated in annual Seoul-Washington military exercises.

"The decision to redeploy U.S. military assets cannot be made solely because of North Korean problems," said Kim Dong-yup, a professor at the Institute for Far East Studies of Kyungnam University. "The U.S. can only redeploy them after considering the worldwide situation and complex problems. The upcoming presidential election may have been included in the consideration."

Prof. Kim Jae-chun said, on the other hand, that Trump's offensive comments on the North represented his intention to put pressure on the Kim Jong-un regime, not to influence the domestic politics of a U.S. ally.



The White House says that Trump has put North Korea "on notice".




WASHINGTON, April 11 (Yonhap) -- U.S. President Donald Trump has put North Korea "clearly on notice," and if he decides to take action, it will be "decisive and proportional" as seen in the U.S. airstrikes on Syria, the White House warned Tuesday.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer made the remark, referring to Trump's tweet earlier in the day that the U.S. will solve the problem of North Korea on its own unless China helps with it. Trump also said the North is "looking for trouble."

"I think he has been very clear that he will not tolerate some of those actions by North Korea," Spicer said at a regular briefing, declining to elaborate how Trump plans to solve the problem on his own without Chinese help.

"The president is not one who's going to go out there and telegraph his response. I think he keeps all options on the table, he keeps his cards close to the vest. And as he showed last week with respect to Syria, when the president's willing to act, it's going to be decisive and proportional to make it very clear what the position of the United States is," Spicer said.

Spicer also said Trump has made clear that the North's behavior and actions with respect to the missile launches are "not tolerable."

"The last thing we want to see is a nuclear North Korea that threatens the coast of the United States or, for that matter, you know, any other country and any other set of human beings. So we need stability in that region and I think he has put them clearly on notice," he said.

The U.S. has sent an aircraft carrier strike group led by USS Carl Vinson toward the Korean Peninsula, rather than executing previously planned port visits to Australia, in a show of force designed to warn the North against additional provocations.

Tensions on the peninsula have risen amid speculation that North Korea may conduct its sixth nuclear test or carry out a threatened test of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. around its key anniversaries in April.

In Tuesday's tweets, Trump also said that he told Chinese President Xi Jinping that "a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem."

Trump has long said North Korea is China's problem to fix, criticizing Beijing for refusing to use its leverage as the main provider of food and energy for the impoverished North to bring the recalcitrant regime under control.

China has been reluctant to use its leverage for fear that pushing the regime too hard could result in instability in the North and even its collapse, which could lead to the emergence of a pro-U.S. nation on its border.



Xi urges peaceful resolution while talking on the phone with Trump today.




Chinese leader Xi Jinping has urged Donald Trump to peacefully resolve tensions over North Korea’s nuclear programme, as the US president touted the power of a naval “armada” steaming towards the Korean peninsula.

Chinese state media said Wednesday the two leaders had spoken by phone, in an apparent effort to avoid further escalation after Trump deployed the aircraft carrier-led strike group in a show of force.

It headed for the region with a renewed warning that Washington was ready to take on North Korea alone if Beijing declined to help rein in its maverick neighbour’s nuclear ambitions.

Pyongyang has so far responded in typically defiant fashion, saying it was ready to fight “any mode of war” chosen by the United States and even threatening a nuclear strike against US targets.

The sabre-rattling has unnerved China, which has made clear its frustration with Pyongyang’s stubbornness but whose priority remains preventing any military flare-up that could bring chaos and instability to its doorstep.

In his phone call with Trump, Xi stressed that China “advocates resolving the issue through peaceful means,” the foreign ministry said.

On Tuesday, the US president tweeted that “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A.”

A barrage of recent North Korean missile tests has stoked US fears that Pyongyang may soon develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the US mainland.

There is speculation that Pyongyang could be preparing a missile launch, or even another nuclear test, to mark the 105th birthday anniversary of its founder Kim Il-Sung on Saturday.

In an interview with Fox Business Network, Trump warned: “We are sending an armada. Very powerful.”

“We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier.”

The flotilla includes the Nimitz-class aircraft supercarrier USS Carl Vinson, a carrier air wing, two guided-missile destroyers and a guided-missile cruiser.

“This goes to prove that the US reckless moves for invading the DPRK have reached a serious phase,” a spokesman for the North’s foreign ministry said in response.

China’s Global Times newspaper, which is often nationalistic in tone, said a new nuclear test would be a “slap in the face of the US government” and that Beijing would not “remain indifferent” to further provocations.

Pyongyang has so far staged five nuclear tests, two of them last year, and analysis of satellite imagery suggests it could be preparing for a sixth.

“Presumably Beijing will react strongly to Pyongyang’s new nuclear actions,” the newspaper said, adding there was increasing popular support for “severe restrictive measures that have never been seen before”.

The language suggested China -- the North’s sole major ally and economic lifeline -- could restrict oil imports to the North, after already announcing a suspension of all coal imports until the end of the year.

‘Outstanding’ relationship

The phone call between the leaders of the world’s largest economies followed their first face-to-face meeting late last week.

During their call, Xi told Trump that China remains “willing to maintain communication and coordination with the American side on the issue of the peninsula,” according to the foreign ministry.

Trump, it added, said it was vital for the two heads of state to maintain close ties, and that he agreed the US and China should work together to “expand pragmatic cooperation in a wide range of areas”.

The high-profile summit was overshadowed by a missile strike on Syria that Trump launched as he hosted Xi.

The move, which came in retaliation for the Damascus regime’s suspected sarin attack against civilians in a rebel-held town in Syria, was widely also interpreted as a warning to North Korea.

Xi told Trump on the call that the Syria issue “must continue to move towards a political solution”, and that “any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable”.

He said their summit produced “significant results”, and that both sides would work together to ensure Trump visited China later this year.

Trump’s election campaign was marked with acerbic denouncements of the Asian giant’s “rape” of the US economy and his vow to punish Beijing with punitive tariffs.

But he dropped his anti-China bombast in Florida, afterwards hailing an “outstanding” relationship with his Chinese counterpart. (AFP)


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