Tag Archives: North Korea

North Korea Fires Two Ballistic Missiles Off Country’s East Coast – Reports

Following the implementation of harsh new sanctions, North Korea has reportedly launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea for a second time, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

The missiles were fired from the city of Wonsan, where similar launches have occurred, and sources indicate that the projectiles flew a distance of approximately 300 miles.

“The military is keeping close tabs on the situation and prepared to deal with any North Korean provocations,” South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff said in a statement.

Earlier on Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un claimed that Pyongyang is in possession of miniaturized nuclear warheads.

“The nuclear warheads have been standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles by miniaturizing them,” Kim said, according to KCNA, adding “this can be called a true nuclear deterrent.”

This week, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a strong condemnation of North Korea’s threat to use preventive strikes.

“In particular, we consider public statements with threats of carrying out some ‘preventive nuclear attacks’ against one’s opponents completely unacceptable,” a statement from the Foreign Ministry reads. “Pyongyang must understand that North Korea completely sets itself against the international community, provides the international legal basis for the use of military force against it.”

Pyongyang has also expressed outrage over joint military drills between Washington and Seoul. The largest ever conducted, the exercises are meant to mimic a hypothetical invasion of North Korea

The UN imposed new sanctions — the harshest in 20 years — against Pyongyang last week over nuclear tests conducted earlier this year. The DPRK also launched a satellite in February which the UN deemed a veiled attempt to demonstrate its ballistic missile capabilities.

Hours after those new penalties were put in place, North Korea fired short-range missiles into the ocean.

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North Korea’s Kim says country has miniaturized nuclear warhead

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the country has miniaturized nuclear warheads to be mounted on ballistic missiles and ordered improvements in the power and precision of its arsenal, its state media reported on Wednesday.

Kim has called for his military to be prepared to mount pre-emptive attacks against the United States and South Korea and stand ready to use nuclear weapons, stepping up belligerent rhetoric after coming under new U.N. and bilateral sanctions.

U.S. and South Korean troops began large-scale military drills this week, which the North calls “nuclear war moves” and threatened to respond with an all-out offensive.

Kim’s comments released on Wednesday were his first direct mention of the claim, previously made repeatedly in state media, to have successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead to be mounted on a ballistic missile, which is widely questioned.

“The nuclear warheads have been standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles by miniaturizing them,” KCNA quoted him as saying as he inspected the work of nuclear workers, adding “this can be called true nuclear deterrent.”

“He stressed the importance of building ever more powerful, precision and miniaturized nuclear weapons and their delivery means,” KCNA said.

Kim also inspected the nuclear warheads designed for thermo-nuclear reaction, KCNA said, referring to a hydrogen bomb that the country claimed to have tested in January.

North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 claiming to have set off a miniaturized hydrogen bomb, which was disputed by many experts and the governments of South Korea and the United States. The blast detected from the test was simply too small to back up the claim, experts said at the time.

The U.N. Security Council imposed harsh new sanctions on the isolated state last week for the nuclear test. It launched a long-range rocket in February drawing international criticism and sanctions from its rival, South Korea.

On Tuesday South Korea announced further measures aimed at isolating the North by blacklisting individuals and entities that it said were linked to Pyongyang’s weapons program.

China also stepped up pressure on the North by barring one of the 31 ships on its transport ministry’s blacklist.

But a U.N. panel set up to monitor sanctions under an earlier Security Council resolution adopted in 2009 said in a report released on Tuesday that it had “serious questions about the efficacy of the current United Nations sanctions regime.”

North Korea has been “effective in evading sanctions” by continuing to engage in banned trade, “facilitated by the low level of implementation of Security Council resolutions by Member States,” the Panel of Experts said.

“The reasons are diverse, but include lack of political will, inadequate enabling legislation, lack of understanding of the resolutions and low prioritization,” it said, referring to the incomplete enforcement of sanctions.

 

 

US sending 2 warships to Japan to counter NKorea

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera participate in a joint news conference at the Japanese Ministry of Defense headquarters Sunday April 6, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan

TOKYO (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel delivered a two-pronged warning to Asia Pacific nations Sunday, announcing that the U.S. will send two additional ballistic missile destroyers to Japan to counter the North Korean threat, and saying China must better respect its neighbors.

In unusually forceful remarks about China, Hagel drew a direct line between Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea region and the ongoing territorial disputes between China, Japan and others over remote islands in the East China Sea.

“I think we’re seeing some clear evidence of a lack of respect and intimidation and coercion in Europe today with what the Russians have done with Ukraine,” Hagel told reporters after a meeting with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera. “We must be very careful and we must be very clear, all nations of the world, that in the 21st century this will not stand, you cannot go around the world and redefine boundaries and violate territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations by force, coercion and intimidation whether it’s in small islands in the Pacific or large nations in Europe.”

Hagel, who will travel to China later this week, called the Asian nation a “great power,” and added, “with this power comes new and wider responsibilities as to how you use that power, how you employ that military power.”

He said he will talk to the Chinese about having respect for their neighbors, and said, “coercion, intimidation is a very deadly thing that leads only to conflict. All nations, all people deserve respect no matter how large or how small.”

Still, he said he looks forward to having an honest, straightforward dialogue with the Chinese to talk about ways the two nations and their militaries can work better together.

The announcement of the deployments of additional destroyers to Japan came as tensions with North Korea spiked again, with Pyongyang continuing to threaten additional missile and nuclear tests.

In recent weeks the North has conducted a series of rocket and ballistic missile launches that are considered acts of protest against annual ongoing springtime military exercises by Seoul and Washington. North Korea says the exercises are rehearsals for invasion.

North and South Korea also fired hundreds of artillery shells into each other’s waters in late March in the most recent flare-up.

Standing alongside Onodera at the defense ministry, Hagel said they discussed the threat posed by Pyongyang. He said the two ships are in response to North Korea’s “pattern of provocative and destabilizing actions” that violate U.N. resolutions and also will provide more protection to the U.S. from those threats.

On Friday, North Korea accused the U.S. of being “hell-bent on regime change” and warned that any maneuvers with that intention will be viewed as a “red line” that will result in countermeasures. Pyongyang’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Ri Tong Il, also said his government “made it very clear we will carry out a new form of nuclear test” but refused to provide details.

The two additional ships would bring the total to seven U.S. ballistic missile defense warships in Japan, and it continues U.S. efforts to increase its focus on the Asia Pacific.

The ships serve as both defensive and offensive weapons. They carry sophisticated systems that can track missile launches, and their SM-3 missiles can zero in on and take out short- to medium-range missiles that might be fired at U.S. or allied nations. They can also carry Tomahawk cruise missiles, which can be launched from sea and hit high-value targets or enemy weapons systems from afar, without risking pilots or aircraft.

Hagel is on a 10-day trip across the Asia Pacific, and just spent three days in Hawaii meeting with Southeast Asian defense ministers, talking about efforts to improve defense and humanitarian assistance cooperation. Japan is his second stop, where he said he wants to assure Japanese leaders that the U.S. is strongly committed to protecting their country’s security.

Japan and China have been engaged in a long, bitter dispute over remote islands in the East China Sea. The U.S. has said it takes no side on the question of the disputed islands’ sovereignty, but it recognizes Japan’s administration of them and has responsibilities to protect Japanese territory under a mutual defense treaty.

Onodera said he and Hagel talked about the islands, known as Senkaku by Japan and Diayou by China, and the concerns about any changes to the status quo there.

Hagel said the U.S. wants the countries in the region to resolve the disputes peacefully. But he added that the United States would honor its treaty commitments.

The ships are just the latest move in America’s effort to beef up Japan’s defenses. Last October, the U.S. and Japan agreed to broad plans to expand their defense alliance, including the decision to position a second early warning radar there by the end of this year. There is one in northern Japan and the second one would be designed to provide better missile defense coverage in the event of a North Korean attack.

The U.S. will begin sending long-range Global Hawk surveillance drones to Japan this month for rotational deployments. They are intended to help step up surveillance around the Senkaku islands.

AP

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North & South Korea exchange artillery fire across sea border

U.S. and South Korean marines participate in a U.S.-South Korea joint landing operation drill in Pohang March 31, 2014

North Korean shells have landed in South Korean waters, prompting Seoul to open fire across a disputed border zone. North Korea announced plans early on Monday morning to conduct military exercises along the western maritime boundary.

The North fired several artillery shells in territory north of the North Limit Line in the Yellow Sea at 12:15pm local time (03:15 GMT), reports South Korean news agency Yohap. After several shells landed south of the border, South Korean military opened fire with K-9 self-propelled howitzers.

“Some of the shells fired by North Korea dropped in our area and our side responded with fire,” a military spokesman told AFP news agency, adding that for the moment both sides were firing into the sea.

Earlier on Monday, the North Korean People’s Army warned their southern counterparts that military drills would be conducted in seven border regions.

“North Korea demanded South Korea control its vessels in seven regions north of the NLL before it holds the live-fire drills,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of South Korea said in a statement. “We have banned vessels from entering the training zone for the safety of residents and sailors.”

The North has drawn international condemnation over the last couple of weeks over its ballistic missile tests. Last week the UN Security Council warned Pyongyang that there would be consequences if it continued testing its missile technology. The Security Council passed a resolution in 2006 that prohibits the testing of ballistic missile technology by Pyongyang.

Pyongyang regards its missile tests as an act of protest against South Korea’s ongoing joint military drills with the US, which it calls a rehearsal for an invasion.

‘New form’ of nuclear test

Pyongyang stepped up its bellicose rhetoric on Sunday and threatened to carry out a “new form” of nuclear test. Giving no further information as to the nature of the new tests, the North Korean Foreign Ministry issued a statement, decrying the UN’s condemnation of its ballistic missile tests which it considers as purely “defensive.”

In response, Pyongyang said it will employ “more diversified nuclear deterrence,” which would be used for hitting medium- and long-range targets “with a variety of striking power.”

“We would not rule out a new form of nuclear test for bolstering up our nuclear deterrence,” said the Foreign Ministry in an official statement published on the KNCA news agency website.

North Korea conducted its third nuclear test in February of last year, prompting Washington to ratchet up the economic sanctions on the Asian nation. Pyongyang also carried out nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 allegedly using a small stockpile of plutonium. The North also claims to be running a uranium enrichment program, fueling fears in the region that it will be able to produce fuel for atomic bombs.

RT News.

 

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Libyan rebels warn of ‘war’ if navy attacks oil tanker

Rebels under Ibrahim Jathran, a former anti-Gaddafi rebel who seized the port and two others with thousands of his men in August, stand guard at the entrance of the Es Sider export terminal where a North Korean-flagged tanker has docked in Ras Lanuf March 8, 2014.

Rebels under Ibrahim Jathran, a former anti-Gaddafi rebel who seized the port and two others with thousands of his men in August, stand guard at the entrance of the Es Sider export terminal where a North Korean-flagged tanker has docked in Ras Lanuf March 8, 2014.

(Reuters) – Armed protesters in eastern Libya traded threats with the government on Sunday in a tense stand-off over the unauthorized sale of oil from a rebel-held port.

A North Korean-flagged tanker, the Morning Glory, docked on Saturday at the port of Es Sider and local daily al-Wasat said it had loaded $36 million of crude oil. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has said the military will bomb the 37,000-tonne vessel if it tries to leave.

Officials said on Sunday that the navy and pro-government militias had dispatched boats to stop it from getting out. The rebels said any attack on the tanker would be “a declaration of war.”

The escalating conflict over the country’s oil wealth is a sign of mounting chaos in Libya, where the government has failed to rein in fighters who helped oust veteran ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and who now defy state authority.

The protesters, who also include former soldiers and ex-oil guards led by a former anti-Gaddafi commander, Ibrahim Jathran, have seized three eastern ports in the OPEC member country.

The Defence Ministry issued orders to the chief of staff, air force and navy to deal with the tanker. “The order authorizes the use of force and puts the responsibility for any resulting damage on the ship owner,” it said in a statement.

“Several navy boats have been dispatched. Now the tanker’s movements are under complete control and nobody can move it,” said Culture Minister Habib al-Amin, who acts as informal government spokesman. “The tanker will stay where it is.”

“All efforts are being undertaken to stop and seize the tanker, if necessary by a (military) strike, if it does not follow orders,” he said, adding that state prosecutors would treat the loading of the crude as smuggling.

There was no sign of any immediate military action, but Libyan news websites showed some small boats close to a tanker which they said was the Morning Glory.

Libya has been trying to rebuild its army since Gaddafi’s overthrow, but analysts say it is not yet a match for battle-hardened militias that fought in the eight-month uprising that toppled him.

WAR OF WORDS

Abb-Rabbo al-Barassi, self-declared prime minister of the rebel movement, warned against “harming any tanker or sending navy ships into the waters of Cyrenaica,” according to a statement.

The entrance of the Es Sider export terminal where a North Korean-flagged tanker has docked is seen in Ras Lanuf March 8, 2014.

The entrance of the Es Sider export terminal where a North Korean-flagged tanker has docked is seen in Ras Lanuf March 8, 2014.

He was referring to the historic name of eastern Libya under King Idris, whom Gaddafi deposed in a 1969 coup. The protesters want a return to the Idris-era system under which oil revenues were shared between Libya’s regions.

If the tanker was harmed, the statement said, “the response from Cyrenaica’s defense forces, oil guards and revolutionaries will be decisive. Such a move would be a declaration of war.”

In Tripoli, workers at a state oil firm that runs Es Sider port went on strike, urging the government to intervene because their colleagues were under duress from armed protesters.

“We are very angry at what is happening at Es Sider,” said Salah Madari, an oil worker in the capital. “The port’s control officer is being held at gunpoint,” he said, adding that gunmen had also forced a pilot to guide the tanker into dock.

Jathran once led a brigade paid by the state to protect oil facilities. He turned against the government and seized Es Sider and two other ports with thousands of his men in August.

Tripoli has held indirect talks with Jathran, but fears his demand for a greater share of oil revenue for eastern Libya might lead to secession.

In January, the Libyan navy fired on a Maltese-flagged tanker that it said had tried to load oil from the protesters in Es Sider, successfully chasing it away.

It is very unusual for an oil tanker flagged in secretive North Korea to operate in the Mediterranean, shipping sources said. NOC says the tanker is owned by a Saudi company. It has changed ownership in the past few weeks and had previously been called Gulf Glory, according to a shipping source.

Libya’s government has tried to end a wave of protests at oil ports and fields that have slashed oil output to 230,000 barrels per day (bpd) from 1.4 million bpd in July.

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Syrian ambassador to UN restricted to 25-mile radius of New York City

Syrian Ambassador to the U.N. Bashar Ja’afari

The US State department has banned the movement of Syria’s UN delegation, headed by Bashar al-Jaafari, to within a 25-mile (40 km) radius of New York City.

Jaafari has served as Syria’s envoy to the UN since 2006 and has been an unwavering supporter of Syrian President Bashar Assad throughout the 3-year long civil war. Jaafari has not yet commented on the restriction.

The United States has not given a reason for the travel ban, but State Department spokesman, Jen Psaki, said that such travel limits were not unheard of.

“UN delegates of certain countries are required to notify us or obtain permission prior to travel outside of a 25-mile radius. So this is not something out of the realm of what we’ve done before,” she told reporters in Washington.

North Korean and Iranian diplomats are also restricted to a 25-mile radius of the Columbus Intersection in Manhattan.

Last year Jaafari complained to the General Assembly of the United Nations about the UN’s double standards in the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, which he said did not condemn the crimes of foreign backed terrorists on Syrian soil.

Talks between the Syrian government and the opposition fell apart last month, with both sides repeating their previous positions and blaming each other for the impasse.

Observers also note that the Syrian opposition has now become deeply fragmented and radicalized and is not represented by those attending the Geneva peace talks.

 

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US maintaining Pacific fleet to ‘deter North Korean provocations’ – report

North Korea’s determination to acquire long-range missiles and nuclear weapons has rendered the Pacific country an increasing threat to the United States, according to a Pentagon report that describes the small nation as “closed and authoritarian.”

The Pentagon released its Quadrennial Defense Review this week, an update to the Defense Department’s international outlook in which it warned that North Korea constitutes “a significant threat to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia and is a growing, direct threat to the United States.”

The report came mere days after South Korean officials said the North fired short-range missiles into the sea on at least two occasions in what observers maintain is a method of protesting the US and South Korean military drills.

“We believe this is an intentional provocation to raise tensions,” the South Korean ministry spokesman said this week of the tests.

Military officials maintained in the Defense Review that the two nations would continue to work together “to deter and defend against North Korean provocations,” as quoted by AFP.

The Defense Department strategy guide included a stipulation that the American military would maintain a sizable presence in the Asian Pacific region in an attempt to promote “stability” in the region.

Some have criticized the US strategy for being high on bravado and low on substance. However, this new report includes mention of plans to enhance the Naval fleet and send Marines to Australia, as well as intentions to continue military drills despite objections from Pyongyang.

“We will continue our contributions to the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to preserve peace and stability in a region that is increasingly central to US political, economic, and security interests,” it said.

North and South Korea have been bitterly divided since the Korean War ended in 1953. Nearly 30,000 American troops are on standby in South Korea in an attempt to discourage any aggression from the North. The US and South Korea, two close allies, have consistently maintained that they do not plan to launch any military action into the North and that their annual military tests are only conducted to prepare for an emergency.

Before launching the SCUD missiles into the ocean, the North pledged “to create an atmosphere of reconciliation and unity” if the South canceled the planned military drills with the US.

via US maintaining Pacific fleet to ‘deter North Korean provocations’ – report — RT News.

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Peter King: Obama should ‘stop apologizing’ for NSA

Peter KingRep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) on Sunday urged President Obama to “stop apologizing” for the National Security Administration’s surveillance programs.

“I think the president should stop apologizing, stop being defensive,” King said on NBC’sMeet the Press.” “The reality is the NSA has saved thousands of lives — not just in the United States, but also in France and Germany and throughout Europe.”The surveillance programs are again in the news following reports that the NSA monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel‘s cellphone and millions of phone calls in France.

King, the former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, suggested France and Germany shouldn’t act so indignant about NSA surveillance in their countries.

“And the French are someone to talk. The fact is, they’ve carried out spying operations against the United States — both the government and industry,” King said. “As far as Germany, that’s where the Hamburg Plot began, which led to 9/11. They’ve had dealings with Iran and Iraq, North Korea — the French and the Germans, other European countries.”

Peter King: Obama should ‘stop apologizing’ for NSA.