North Korea has launched a barrage of threats and insults at Australia, accusing the nation of “blindly toeing the US line” and threatening Sydney with a nuclear strike.
The comments from Pyongyang came after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program posed a “serious threat” to Australia unless something was done about it by the international community.
A spokesman for Kim Jong-un’s Foreign Ministry accused Australia of “spouting a string of rubbish” about North Korea, and warned against following the US.
“The present Government of Australia is blindly and zealously toeing the US line,” the spokesman said.
“If Australia persists in following the US’ moves to isolate and stifle North Korea … this will be a suicidal act of coming within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of North Korea.“
The North Korean Foreign Ministry also directly addressed Ms Bishop’s interview, warning she had “better think twice about the consequences to be entailed by her reckless tongue-lashing before flattering the US“.
“What she uttered can never be pardoned,” the spokesman said.
“It is hard to expect good words from the foreign minister of such a Government. But if she is the foreign minister of a country, she should speak with elementary common sense about the essence of the situation.”
“If they continue to flatter the US and provoke North Korea, we will tow Australia out to sea and sink it.“
The news coincides with Vice President Mike Pence’s first official visit to Australia.
9 News reports: The nuclear threat from North Korea, the ongoing fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group and the US-Australia refugee deal have dominated Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s official talks with Mike Pence.
The prime minister told reporters in Sydney the “reckless and dangerous regime (of Pyongyang) puts the peace and stability of our region at risk”.
Mr Turnbull echoed his comments earlier this week that China has a leverage to influence North Korea.
Mr Pence characterised North Korea as an “urgent and most dangerous threat” to peace and security in the Asia Pacific and thanks Mr Turnbull for calling on China to act.
“While all options are on the table, let me assure you the United States will continue to work closely with Australia, our other allies in the region and China to bring economic and diplomatic pressure to bear on the regime,” he said.
“If China is unable to deal with North Korea, the United States and our allies will.“
Is Another North Korea Nuclear Test Imminent? How Will Washington Respond? US Nuclear Attack “On the Table”?
How will Washington respond if another test is conducted? Is US aggression a real or saber-rattling option?
Last month, Secretary of State Tillerson said “(l)et me be very clear. The policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures. All options are on the table.”
“(I)f (North Korea) elevate(s) the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe requires action, then, (the option of war is) on the table. (A) comprehensive set of capabilities” is being developed.
Last week in Seoul, South Korea, Vice President Pence repeated Tillerson’s warning, adding Pyongyang “would do well not to test (Trump’s) resolve.”
Any DPRK use of nuclear weapons would be met with “an overwhelming and effective response,” he blustered. Trump said US
“patience…in this region has run out and we want to see change.”
“We want to see North Korea abandon its reckless path of the development of nuclear weapons, and also its continual use and testing of ballistic missiles is unacceptable.”
“(E)ither China will deal with this problem or the United States and our allies will?”
Things are fast coming to a head on the Korean peninsula. The USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group is expected to arrive in the Sea of Japan next week.
On April 25, the DPRK will commemorate the founding of the Korean People’s Army. Will it conduct a sixth nuclear test on this date? If so, how will Washington and China respond?
On April 18, a Beijing-linked Global Times commentary said China “will cooperate with Washington and stick to its own principles” – aiming to restrain “Pyongyang’s development of nuclear and ballistic missiles.”
“However, cooperative efforts by China and the US will under no circumstance evolve into any kind of military action against North Korea.”
“Beijing will never support or cooperate with Washington when it comes to implementing solutions that involve using military force against Pyongyang. Nor will Beijing support increasing measures from Washington that involve the direct overthrow of the Pyongyang regime.”
If Trump attacks North Korea,
“the Chinese people will not allow their government to remain passive when the armies of the US and South Korea start a war and try to take down the Pyongyang regime.”
38 North provides “analysis of events in and around the DPRK.” It’s a Johns Hopkins University Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies US-Korea Institute program – managed by former State Department official Joel Wit and USKI assistant director Jenny Town.
On April 21, it said
“(c)ommercial satellite imagery of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site from April 19 indicates probable trailers near the North Portal, the tunnel that North Korea appears to have been preparing for a nuclear test.”
“While no recent dumping is observed, there are at least five mining carts along the tracks leading to the spoil pile and one probable small equipment trailer adjacent to the support building. A net canopy remains in place, presumably concealing equipment…”
It’s unclear if site activity is a “tactical pause” ahead of another nuclear test. Satellite imagery “indicate(s) that the Punggye-ri nuclear test site appears able to conduct a sixth nuclear test at any time once the order is received from Pyongyang.”
Key is what happens if it occurs. Attacking North Korea would be madness, risking possible nuclear war no one can win.
On April 19, Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said
“(t)he situation (on the Korean peninsula) is fraught with unpredictable tensions, and we are concerned about that.”
“We stand for continuing political and diplomatic efforts aimed at solving the North Korea issue, particularly using international formats that have already proved to be effective.” Sanctions do not, “an unsuccessful approach,” said Peskov.
On Friday, an amended Security Council statement “strongly condemn(ed)” Pyongyang’s April 15 missile test. It expressed “utmost concern (over its) highly destabilizing behavior and flagrant and provocative defiance of the Security Council.”
It stressed “the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in North-East Asia at large.”
It express a commitment by Security Council members to “a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation.”
It urged efforts “to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue.”
The original US draft omitted mention of “dialogue” in the text. Russia insisted it be included.
Its amended version was adopted. Whether it’s enough to prevent conflict on the Korean peninsula remains to be seen. Tensions remain high.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
The human and financial costs of reunifying Korea would be enormous.
In our latest Facebook Live interview (please like our Facebook page to see more of these events) Harry Kazianis, Director of Defense studies at the Center for the National Interest, sat down with Dr. Bruce Bennett, a Senior Defense Analyst at the RAND Corporation, to discuss the costs and implications of reunifying the two Koreas.
If the United States were to attempt to launch a preemptive strike on North Korea, the regime in Pyongyang could do significant damage to both South Korea and Japan—not to mention U.S. bases in those nations.
One the reasons previous U.S. Administrations have left the volatile nuclear-armed hermit kingdom alone is because of the sheer destructive power the Kim regime might unleash in the event of war. Indeed, it would be South Korean and Japanese civilians who would take the brunt of Pyongyang’s wrath in the event of war.
“If there is a war, there is no way the U.S. can prevent massive damage to South Korea and significant damage to Japan,” Vasily Kashin, a senior fellow at the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics told The National Interest. “It would be a humanitarian disaster and a shock for global economy. There are some 24 to 25 nuclear power plant reactors in the South. The North has these hundreds of missiles which are hard to stop.”
Indeed, Pyongyang’s missiles could hit most of Korea and Japan—and it is possible that North Korea might have enough weapons to saturate U.S. and allied missile defenses. “2000 SRBM launchers—that includes KN-02, Scud and the Nodong,” Jeffrey Lewis, Director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey told The National Interest. “That means several hundred Scud and Nodongs.”
North Korea’s extended range Scuds have a roughly 1,000 km range while the Nodong can hit targets as far away as 1,200 km. Lewis said that Pyongyang’s missiles might have some reliability issues, but there are enough of them to do very significant damage to South Korea and Japan. Indeed, North Korea is building the extended range Scud for the express purpose of having more missiles available. “The ER Scud is designed to be a cheaper alternative to the Nodong, so that North Korea can build more missiles,” Lewis said.
Image: Flickr/Republic of Korea Armed Forces.
(ZHE) According to a report by South Korea’s primary news outlet, Yonhap, the Pentagon has directed a total of three U.S. aircraft carriers toward the Korean Peninsula, citing a South Korean government source.
Yonhap reports that in addition to the CVN-70 Carl Vinson, which is expected to arrive off the South Korean coast on April 25, the CVN-76 Ronald Reagan and the CVN-68 Nimitz carrier group will enter the Sea of Japan next week. According to the senior government official, the U.S. and South Korea are discussing joint drills, which will include the three aircraft carriers and other ships.
USS Carl Vinson, surrounded by a fleet of US warships, was sent by Washington toward the Korean Peninsula in the beginning of April.
While details are scarce, and we would urge confirmation from U.S.-based sources, Yonhap also reports that according to the government source, the operation of three aircraft carriers in the same location is unusual, and demonstrates the U.S. commitment to North Korea. Other sources said the Trump administration is demonstrating deterrence by acting on its behalf. “We expect it to be completely different from the previous administration.”
On Sunday, Pyongyang tried to launch an unidentified projectile, but the test reportedly failed. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) stated that the attempted launch was conducted from the area near North Korea’s eastern port city of Sinpo, but likely ended in a failure.
The most recent map showing key US naval deployments around the globe is shown below.
Even as tensions ratchet up on the Korean peninsula, the Pentagon is kicking off one of its largest annual exercises in the Republic of Korea.
Hosted by the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, Exercise Max Thunder involves U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Republic of Korea (ROK) personnel and is designed to help train allied forces to defend South Korea. The war games started on April 17 and will run through April 28.
“Exercise Max Thunder serves as an invaluable opportunity for U.S. and ROKAF forces to train together shoulder-to-shoulder and sharpen tactical skills vital to the defense and security of the Korean Peninsula,” Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Bergeson, Seventh Air Force commander, said in a statement. “This exercise will rigorously test our aerial combat capability and highlights the ironclad commitment between the U.S. and the Republic of Korea and the multifaceted capabilities we possess in this theater.”
The focus of the exercise from the standpoint of F-16C units such as the 36th Fighter Squadron—which is based at Osan Air Base in South Korea—is to suppress or destroy enemy air defenses. In the case of North Korea, Pyongyang’s air defenses are not especially sophisticated—though they are more capable than many might imagine. But the North does have a huge volume of forces. Thus, training to suppress those air defenses is of paramount importance in the event of war.
“Team Osan is the SEAD first responder,” Capt. Austin Buller, 36th Fighter Squadron (FS) operations flight commander, said in an Air Force release. “We are just about the only unit on [the Korean Peninsula] with that capability, so it will be good practice for us and will also help our integration.”
A total of about 1,000 U.S. personnel will participate in the exercise. Participating in the war games are F-16s from 7th Air Force, Boeing AV-8Bs from the U. Marines’ 12th Marine Aircraft Group and EA-18Gs from the Navy’s Electronic Attack Squadron 132 (VAQ-132). All of the U.S. units will fly out of bases in Korea and Japan. Meanwhile, about 500 South Korean troops are also participating in Max Thunder. The South Koreans forces include the F-15K, F-16, F-5E, F-4E, KA-1, C-130, HH-60 and CN 235 aircraft.
Training together with the Korean helps both sides better prepare for a potential on the peninsula where Washington and Seoul’s forces will have to work together closely. “During this exercise, we use different mission sets to enhance our tactical proficiency,” Buller said. “Working with the Koreans is especially important here, and during this exercise we can get that face-to-face encounter in an air combat training scenario.”
It should be noted that Max Thunder is an annual exercise. The fact that the war games are being held during a time when tensions are running high is mostly a coincidence.
(ANTIMEDIA Op-Ed) North Korea is a threat, goes the narrative. And we, as loyal Americans, should fear the potentiality of that fact.
That’s why U.S. aircraft carriers, accompanied by fighter jets and warships, are currently steaming toward the Korean Peninsula.
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That’s why the best soldiers the United States military has to offer are currently in South Korea, training — goes the narrative — to take out Kim Jong-un.
That’s why Japan, staunch U.S. ally, is considering deploying troops to South Korea — in preparation for the time when that evil dictator from the north will try to harm Japanese nationals in the south.
Conveniently, if Japan does deploy those troops — and, let’s be honest, they will — that will put the coalition of Japan, South Korea, and the United States together on the Korean peninsula.
Consider that for a moment.
They actually want us to believe that it would take the combined military might of the U.S., Japan, and South Korea to take out Kim Jong-un. There literally is no other way to look at it.
As in all cases when it comes to geopolitical analysis, it helps to look at a map. North Korea is sandwiched between a U.S.-occupied territory to the south and a global superpower, China, to the north.
In what universe does it make sense that Kim Jong-un would think attacking an “enemy” in the region would be beneficial? On Monday, Anti-Media reported on the fact that former Pentagon chief William Perry told CNN in November that North Korea would never strike first because, very simply, Kim doesn’t want to die.
“I do not believe the North Korean regime is suicidal,” he said. “Therefore, I don’t believe they’re going to launch an unprovoked nuclear attack on anyone.”
That’s because Kim has certainly applied to the situation what the mainstream narrative would like you to discard — common sense. With just a dash of it, any logical being can look at the events unfolding and see that North Korea poses no threat, to any surrounding nation, period.
Which poses an immediate question: Why the military buildup in South Korea?
China, incidentally, reportedly just deployed 150,000 troops to its border with North Korea. Much like Japan, the reason given was preparation. Preparation for war was the message between the words.
But it wouldn’t be war with North Korea. That tiny strip of land is merely the buffer between two military juggernauts, the United States and China. That’s World War III, friends, and it has nothing to do with Kim Jong-un.
And since we’re discussing the mainstream narrative, let’s look at the latest on that topic. From a New York Times piece that ran Tuesday:
“Just over a week ago, the White House declared that ordering an American aircraft carrier into the Sea of Japan would send a powerful deterrent signal to North Korea and give President Trump more options in responding to the North’s provocative behavior. ‘We’re sending an armada,’ Mr. Trump said to Fox News last Tuesday afternoon.
“The problem was that the carrier, the Carl Vinson, and the three other warships in its strike force were that very moment sailing in the opposite direction, to take part in joint exercises with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean, 3,500 miles southwest of the Korean Peninsula.”
This is a political machine that can’t even keep the narrative coherent within itself, much less the public. And they want us to believe. That’s the crux of it all. They need us to believe. If we don’t, it all falls apart — for them.
Rapid development of KN-11 missile, submarines, UN says
North Korea is making rapid progress on developing submarine-launched ballistic missiles and missile-firing submarines, according to a report by a United Nations panel of experts.
“Rapid technological developments have taken place over a short period, resulting in significant progress towards an operational submarine-launched ballistic missile system,” the eight-member U.N. panel of experts stated.
The report provides new details on Pyongyang’s development of a submarine-launched missile called the KN-11.
“The shift from liquid- to a solid-fuel engine for the KN-11 is a major technological development, affording greater stability, quicker preparation and longer fuel storage,” the report states.
The report provided photographs of the Gorae-class submarine used to launch the missile.
The development of a missile-firing submarine by North Korea was first disclosed by the Washington Free Beacon in August 2014 amid skepticism among naval experts who said the communist state lacked the advanced technological capabilities needed for such a complex weapon.
Since the disclosure, North Korea conducted numerous ground and land tests at a facility on the east coast called Sinpo.
Sinpo was the site of a failed missile test on Saturday when a liquid-fueled extended range Scud missile blew up shortly after launch.
Tensions remain high in the region amid a war of words between Washington and Pyongyang. North Korea has said its missile tests will be carried out weekly. Fiery North Korean rhetoric recently included claims nuclear war could break out at any moment.
The submarine was shown in the report with a modification to its launch platform that helped solve ejection and stability problems.
“To this end, vents were added on either side of the launch tube,” the report said. “These improvements are notable given that this vessel will likely serve as the basis for future submarine-launched ballistic missile submarines with multiple tubes.”
The sole Gorae submarine uses a single launch tube, an indication the vessel is a prototype.
The North Korean program appears to mimic characteristics of the first generation U.S. nuclear-tipped sub-launched missile program known as Polaris.
The KN-11 uses launch techniques similar to the Polaris, first deployed in the 1960s, that follow the sequence of launch, broach through water, ignite the engine, align the missile, and fly toward targets.
The UN report said member states should avoid exporting dual-use commercial items that could bolster the submarine missile program.
A watch list of 60 items that could be used by North Korea for submarine parts was published in December by the South Korean government.
The components include steel plates, acoustic coatings, and underwater communication gears.
Five tests of the KN-11 were carried out last year, including an ejection test March 16, a failed flight test on April 23, another failure on July 9, and a 300-mile flight test on Aug. 24.
“Four KN-11 tests occurred within five months from the Sinpo area, showing rapid development,” the report said. “The test of 24 August, by successfully going through ejection, boost and flight phases, was unprecedented in demonstrating the country’s capabilities with regard to submarine-launched ballistic missiles.”
Regarding the April 23 test, images revealed a successful un-ignited ejection of a two-stage KN-11 emerging from the water, the missile igniting just above the surface and then flying for 19 miles.
The report said the April 23 test was significant in identifying the use of solid-fuel propellant and comparing the exhaust plume with a similar liquid-fuel missile test on May 8, 2015.
Additionally, North Korea has developed a gas generator that is attached to the bottom of the missile that is used to eject it from the missile tube.
According to the UN experts, the Sinpo shipyard where the submarine-launched missile is being developed is being expanded with a main fabrication hall. “The main hall may be used to construct additional, larger submarines that are capable of carrying more than one submarine-launched ballistic missile,” the report said.
A second hall could be used as a future loading and unloading facility for submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the Strategic Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in prepared testimony April 4 that while North Korea does not pose an existential threat to the United States “it remains the most dangerous and unpredictable actor in the Pacific region.”
“Pyongyang’s evolving ballistic missile and nuclear weapons program underscore the growing threat,” Hyten said. “It continues to defy international norms and resolutions, as demonstrated by a number of provocative actions this past year, including their fourth and fifth nuclear tests.”
North Korea also is building long-range and submarine-launched ballistic missiles and an improved intermediate-range missile.
“These developments highlight its commitment to diversify its missile forces and nuclear delivery options, while strengthening missile force survivability,” he said.
“North Korea also continues efforts to expand its stockpile of weapons-grade fissile material and has demonstrated its capability and willingness to conduct destructive cyber-attacks against the United States and its allies.”
The UN report was led by Hugh Griffiths, the coordinator of a panel of experts that includes members from the United States, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Other members of the panel include Benoit Camguilhem, Dmitry Kiku, Youngwan Kim, Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt , Maiko Takeuchi, Neil Watts and Jiahu Zong.