Monday, 24 April 2017

News from North Korea - 04/23/2017

Excellent analyisis by Russia’s Vesti TV news channel



Trump's Armada was a Bluff





It's time for one correction and clarification on our part. And a quite significant one. Last Saturday, we spent a lot of time talking about North Korea. Back then, it celebrated the Day of the Sun, the 105th anniversary of the birth of the founder of the DPRK, Kim Il-sung. Everyone expected that on that day, his grandson, Kim Jong-un, would conduct another nuclear test. And we also said that we needed to monitor the US Navy strike group, led by the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson. According to no one but the President of the United States Donald Trump himself, he sent this "armada" as a warning to the DPRK. Many people fell for this right away, including us. Because early this week, it became clear that Donald Trump gave everyone the go-around. Another London newspaper, The Telegraph, published an article stating that the armada was actually moving in a completely different direction. Based on this article, we made a map, let's see.




North Korea Warns China Of "Catastrophic Consequences" For Siding With U.S.

22 April, 2017

Having repeatedly threatened the annihilation of its neightbor to the south, and most recently warning of a "super-mighty preemptive strike" against the US, one day after it emerged that Pyongyang appeared to have resumed activity at its Punggye-ri Nuclear test site, North Korea asked China not to step up anti-North sanctions, warning of "catastrophic consequences" in their bilateral relations.

Pyongyang issued the warning through commentary written by a person named Jong Phil on its official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which was released Saturday.
As South Korea's Yonhap news agency writes, it's rare for Pyongyang's media to level criticism at Beijing, though the KCNA didn't directly mention China in the commentary titled "Are you good at dancing to the tune of others" and dated Friday. The commentary instead called the nation at issue "a country around the DPRK," using North Korea's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

"Not a single word about the U.S. act of pushing the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a war after introducing hugest-ever strategic assets into the waters off the Korean peninsula is made but such rhetoric as 'necessary step' and 'reaction at decisive level' is openly heard from a country around the DPRK to intimidate it over its measures for self-defense," the commentary's introduction in English read.

"Particularly, the country is talking rubbish that the DPRK has to reconsider the importance of relations with it and that it can help preserve security of the DPRK and offer necessary support and aid for its economic prosperity, claiming the latter will not be able to survive the strict 'economic sanctions' by someone."
Then, the KCNA commentary warned that the neighbor country will certainly face a catastrophe in their bilateral relationship, as long as it continues to apply economic sanctions together with the United States.

"If the country keeps applying economic sanctions on the DPRK while dancing to the tune of someone after misjudging the will of the DPRK, it may be applauded by the enemies of the DPRK, but it should get itself ready to face the catastrophic consequences in the relations with the DPRK," it said.

North Korea watchers here say the commentary appears to be Pyongyang's response after Chinese experts and media have recently called for escalating sanctions against the North, including the suspension of oil exports, in case of its sixth nuclear test.

An angry and provocative op-ed slamming what until recently was considered North Korea's shadow advocate in the region, suggests a level of growing desperation at the top echelons of NK's government, and hints that Kim Jong-Un is even more irrational and unpredictable than "normal."
North Korea threatens Australia with nuclear strike over sanctions comments

April 23, 2017

NORTH Korea has threatened to hit Australia with a nuclear strike if it continues to follow the United States.

The stern warning comes after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Thursday that the rogue nuclear-armed nation would be hit with further Australian sanctions as a clear message that its behaviour will not be tolerated.

Ms Bishop also called on China to do more to pressure North Korea into stamping out its hostile and aggressive ways and dumping its nuclear warheads and ballistic missile program.

In response to the comments, North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency on Saturday quoted a foreign ministry spokesman accusing Ms Bishop of “spouting a string of rubbish” against the nation.

The spokesman accused the Australian Government of “blindly and zealously toeing the U.S. line” and warned of a possible nuclear strike if it persists.

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 spokesman said.

The spokesman went on to warn Ms Bishop to “think twice” about the consequences of her “reckless tongue-lashing flattering the U.S.”.

What she uttered can never be pardoned,” the spokesman said.

It is hard to expect good words from the foreign minister of such government. But if she is the foreign minister of a country, she should speak with elementary common sense about the essence of the situation.

It is entirely attributable to the nuclear threat escalated by the US and its anachronistic policy hostile to North Korea that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to the brink of war in an evil cycle of increasing tensions.”

North Korea threatens Australia with nuclear strike over US allegiance


North Korea ready to sink US aircraft carrier


23 Aprl, 2017
North Korea says it is ready to sink a US aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might, as two Japanese navy ships joined a US carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific.
US President Donald Trump ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to sail to waters off the Korean peninsula in response to rising tension over the North's nuclear and missile tests, and its threats to attack the United States and its Asian allies, including Australia.
The United States has not specified where the carrier strike group is as it approaches the area.
US Vice President Mike Pence said in Sydney on Saturday it would arrive "within days" but gave no other details.
North Korea remained defiant.
"Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a US nuclear powered aircraft carrier with a single strike," the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North's ruling Workers' Party, said.
The paper likened the aircraft carrier to a "gross animal" and said a strike on it would be "an actual example to show our military's force".
The commentary was carried on page three of the newspaper, after a two-page feature about leader Kim Jong Un inspecting a pig farm.
North Korea will mark the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People's Army on Tuesday.
It has in the past marked important anniversaries with tests of its weapons.
North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, two of them last year, and is working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.
North Korea says its nuclear program is for self-defence and has warned the United States of a nuclear attack in response to any aggression.
It has threatened to lay waste to South Korea and Japan, and also warned Australia about a nuclear attack if it continues to "blindly" follow the US.
The two Japanese warships, the Samidare and Ashigara, left western Japan on Friday to join the Carl Vinson and will "practice a variety of tactics" with the US strike group, the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force said.
The Japanese force did not specify where the exercises were taking place but by Sunday the destroyers could have reached an area 2500km south of Japan, which would be waters east of the Philippines.
From there, it could take three days to reach waters off the Korean peninsula.
Reuters



North Korea Arrests US Citizen, Threatens To Sink US Aircraft Carrier As Japan Deploys Warships

A third US citizen has been arrested and remains in custody in North Korea, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap. A man, a Korean-American professor in his 50s, identified by the surname Kim, had been in North Korea for a month to discuss relief activities and was detained at Pyongyang International Airport just as he was leaving North Korea, the agency reported.
The man was a former professor at Yanbian University of Science and Technology (YUST), Yonhap said, citing unnamed sources. YUST, a university in neighboring China, has a sister university in Pyongyang. An official at South Korea's National Intelligence Service said it was not aware of the reported arrest. The reason for his arrest is still unclear, and there has been no comment from the US authorities so far. South Korea’s spy agency, the National Intelligence Service, said it “was not aware” of Kim’s arrest, according to Yonhap.

North Korea, which has been criticized for its human rights record, has in the past used detained Americans to extract high-profile visits from the United States, with which it has no formal diplomatic relations. North Korea already holds two Americans. Ahn Chan-il, director of the World North Korea Research Center in Seoul, said that the North "seems to be intending to use professor Kim as leverage in negotiations" amid the current bad relations between the two countries.


Will this provide a pretext for aggressive moves by Trump?

Trump To Hold Top Level Briefing On North Korea Following US Citizen Arrest


23 April, 2017

Shortly after the news that later on Sunday, president Trump would hold a phone call with China president Xi and Japan's PM Abe, the White House said in an advance schedule that on April 26 it will hold a briefing for senators with its “four principals” on North Korea "as the administration considers its options for dealing with saber-rattling from Pyongyang" according to Bloomberg. Among those present will be Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
While it is unclear if today's arrest of a US citizen - the third such detention by the North Korean government - will be a key topic, a State Department official said in a brief statement that “we are aware of reports that a U.S. citizen was detained in North Korea," and added that "in cases where U.S. citizens are reported to be detained in North Korea, we work with the Swedish Embassy, which serves as the United States’ Protecting Power in North Korea. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment."

In the latest sabre-rattling from Pyongyang, North Korea threatened that it was ready to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier to show its military strength, Reuters reported, citing the country's state-run Rodung Sinmun. The USS Carl Vinson is heading to the Western Pacific to conduct drills with two Japanese destroyers amid heightened tensions over the North’s missile tests. 

The warning came as Mike Pence reiterated the popular line that all options are "on the table" during a visit to Sydney this weekend
Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said on Sunday’s “Face the Nation” on CBS that while North Korea poses mostly a cyber threat to the U.S. today, that could change. “The instant they get a missile that can reach the United States, and they have a weaponized atomic device, nuclear device on it, we’re at grave risk as a nation,” he said.
As a reminder, April 26 is the day after the USS Carl Vinson is expected to real the Korean Peninsula, and one day after China has speculated NK could conduct another nuclear test to celebrate an important army holiday.
Meanwhile, in its latest cover, Germany's Spiegel magazine has put Trump and Kim on the same side of the boat, or in this case bomb.


U.S. Sets Sights On North Korea’s Vast Opium Fields



As the U.S. prepares for war with North Korea, politicians and the media have failed to tell the public about the vast opium fields in the country.

As Afghanistan’s drug trafficking business continues to soar following the illegal occupation by U.S. forces 16 year ago, the military industrial complex are now setting their sights on North Korea.


In its early stage, the Kim Jong-un regime declared a war against drugs, getting rid of poppy fields,” Kang Cheol-hwan, president of the defector organization, North Korea Strategy Center, told Yonhap News Agency last month. “But now they are cultivating them again.”

North Korea’s opium poppies remained at least somewhat secreted from its citizens under the rule of Kim Jong-il.

In an August 2011 interview with NPR, Ma Young Ae — a defector and former North Korean spy who lives in Virginia — explained she “worked for Kim Jong Il’s internal police force. Her job was was to track down drug smugglers. That sounds like pretty normal law enforcement, except for one difference. She was supposed to stop small-time Korean drug dealers in order to protect the biggest drug dealer in the country: the North Korean government.

Ma told us the North Korean government produced opium on a large scale. But it hid its poppy fields from most of the population. Ma only saw the fields because she was an insider.

After harvesting the fields, the government would put its empty factories to use. The government would turn on its production lines at night and process opium, Ma says. Then they would pack the product in plastic cubes the size of dictionaries and smuggle it out of the country through China.”

Kim Jong-il’s son and successor instead chose to fight the war on drugs — until the Chinese Commerce Ministry suspended imports of coal from February through the end of the year, in response to one of Pyongyang’s contentious ballistic missiles tests.

Faced with the rapid loss of hard currency and an uphill battle to fund the regime’s activities — coal comprised an estimated 40 percent of North Korea’s exports to China — Kim Jong-un appears to have cozied to the wallet-stuffing possibilities the prized poppy provides.

Noting the war on drugs had already failed, Kang added, “The North is cultivating poppy fields again for drug smuggling as a way to secure funds to manage its regime.”

Funding an entire government’s operations from the cultivation and production of opium should be a piece of cake — should illegal markets fail, America has an insidious obsession with opioids.

Tens of thousands each year die of overdoses from heroin, opioids, and/or their synthetics in the United States, alone — in large part, courtesy of the pharmaceutical industry’s reckless devotion to painkillers.

Vox reported March 29 the opioid “epidemic has by and large been caused by the rise in opioid overdose deaths. First, opioid painkiller overdoses began to rise, as doctors began to fill out a record number of prescriptions for the drugs in an attempt to treat patients’ pain conditions. Then, people hooked on painkillers began to move over to heroin as they or their sources of drugs lost their prescriptions. And recently, more people have begun moving to fentanyl, an opioid that’s even more potent and cheaper than heroin. The result is a deadly epidemic that so far shows no signs of slowing down.”

And how could it slow down?

Opioids doled out like candy by doctors and hospitals to those suffering but unaware of the addiction pitfalls inherent in rising tolerance, short-term prescriptions, and — in particular — the availability of potent substances like heroin and fentanyl on the black market.

This isn’t by far purely an issue to be blamed on illegal trade in drugs. Media Roots’ Abby Martin elaborated on the perniciousness of the opioid crisis in 2014, stating,

In today’s globalized world of rule-for-profit, one can’t discount the role that multinational corporations play in US foreign policy decisions either. Not only have oil companies and private military contractors made a killing off the occupation, big pharmaceutical companies, which collectively lobby over 250 million dollars annually to Congress, need opium latex to manufacture drugs for this pill happy nation. As far as the political elite funneling the tainted funds, the recent HSBC bank scandal exposed how trillions of dollars in black market sales are brazenly being laundered offshore.”

For the welcome relief opioid painkillers offer those who suffer severe discomfort, the medications’ highly-addictive nature leaves doctors reluctant to write strong prescriptions. However, if tolerance builds, and medical personnel refuse to increase dosage accordingly, those still facing unbearable pain often shop black markets — where the purity and safety of substances cannot be verified — to supplement their supplies.

It must be duly noted, America’s opioid epidemic mushroomed only after U.S. troops invaded Afghanistan.

Within six months of the U.S. invasion,” wrote Matthieu Aikins for the December 4, 2014, Rolling Stone, “the warlords we backed were running the opium trade, and the spring of 2002 saw a bumper harvest of 3,400 tons.”

Just prior to boots and bombs hitting the ground, opium production in Afghanistan fell to an impressive low of 185 pounds — all-too ironically, thanks to Taliban efforts to eradicate the entire supply of opium poppies.

Mint Press News’ Mnar Muhawesh wrote last year, “The War in Afghanistan saw the country’s practically dead opium industry expanded dramatically. By 2014, Afghanistan was producing twice as much opium as it did in 2000. By 2015, Afghanistan was the source of 90 percent of the world’s opium poppy.”

Claiming terrorism as the impetus for invading Afghanistan would be at least as absurd as the Drug Enforcement Agency claiming the global War on Drugs has been a success. Taliban forces have returned in strength to the nation whose opium poppies are guarded by U.S. troops — who are putatively present to fight in the ongoing War on Terror.

After a moment deeply pondering the last point, it’s imperative to address current events — specifically, U.S. military vessels already present in the South and East China Seas, amid dangerously high tensions with North Korea.

North Korea — who announced weeks ago its debilitated economy would seek relief from, yes, the cultivation and production of opium poppies.

Perpetually bellicose Pyongyang is no stranger to hyperbole in military prowess — so much so, threats of direct nuclear strikes by North Korea against the United States are typically downplayed by Washington, if not dismissed with a snide grin.
Pyongyang’s testing of ballistic and other missiles has been deemed a threat to the national security of South Korea, where a U.S. missile defense system pointed North has further heightened hostilities on the peninsula and in the region.

Of one such missile launch Sunday, Defense Secretary James Mattis admonished,

The leader of North Korea again recklessly tried to provoke something by launching a missile.”

Kim In Ryong, North Korea’s Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, warned on Monday the U.S. has “created a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any minute” — adding, Pyongyang “is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the U.S.”

Whether that war includes plans for the U.S. usurpation of North Korea’s literal cash crop of opium poppies will undoubtedly be determined soon.

I suspect the Americans are little interested in any diplomatic compromises by Kim. They have likely decided their course of action


North Korea will not use its nuclear weapons first, Kim Jong-un tells Congress

Kim said Korea  will 'sincerely fulfill its duties for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and work to realize the denuclearisation of the world'



23 April, 2017

Kim Jong-un has said his country will not use its nuclear weapons first unless its sovereignty is invaded, in a speech during a critical party congress that struck a conciliatory note in the face of international pressure over its recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch.

Kim said he is ready to improve ties with "hostile" nations, and called for more talks with rival South Korea to reduce misunderstanding and distrust between them. He also urged the United States to stay away from inter-Korean issues, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

"Our republic is a responsible nuclear state that, as we made clear before, will not use nuclear weapons first unless aggressive hostile forces use nuclear weapons to invade on our sovereignty," Kim said in a speech carried by the KCNA.

The North's Korean Central Television on Sunday showed Kim delivering the speech at Pyongyang's House of Culture, wearing a black dress suit, a grey tie and horn-rimmed glasses that resembled the ones worn by his late grandfather and North Korean leader Kim Il Sung.

He said that North Korea "will sincerely fulfill its duties for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and work to realize the denuclearization of the world."

The North is ready to improve and normalize ties with countries hostile to it if they respect its sovereignty and approach it in a friendly manner, Kim said.

Despite the talks about more diplomatic activity, Kim also made it clear that the North has no plans to discard its "byongjin" policy of simultaneously developing its nuclear weapons and its domestic economy.

In a speech published by the North's Rodong Sinmun newspaper, Kim described the twin policy as a strategy the party must permanently hold on to for the "maximized interest of our revolution."

Many outside analysts consider the policy unlikely to succeed because of the heavy price North Korea pays for its nuclear program in terms of international sanctions that keep its economy from growing.

At the congress, Kim also announced a five-year plan starting this year to develop the North's dismal economy and identified improving the country's power supply and increasing its agricultural and light-manufacturing production as the critical parts of the program. He also said the country must secure more electricity through nuclear power plants, according to the state media. Jeong Joon Hee, the spokesman from the South's Unification Ministry, said that the North currently doesn't have nuclear power plants producing electricity.

Analysts have anticipated Kim would use the first Workers' Party congress in decades to propose talks with rivals to exploit what he considers to be increased leverage as a nuclear power.

North Korea carried out its fourth nuclear test in January and followed with a satellite launch in February that was seen by outside governments as a banned test for long-range missile technology, earning worldwide condemnation and tougher U.N. sanctions.

The North responded to the punitive measures, and also the annual U.S.-South Korean military drills in March and April, by firing a series of missiles and artillery into the sea. It also claimed advancements in developing nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, and combined them with threats of pre-emptive nuclear strikes on Washington and Seoul.

Analysts said that the North's belligerent stance might have been intended at rallying North Korean people around Kim ahead of the congress and also promote military accomplishments to the domestic audience to make up for the lack of tangible economic achievements to present at the party meeting.

South Korea has taken a hard-line approach to North Korea following its nuclear test and long-range rocket launch, shutting down a jointly-run factory park in a North Korean border town that had been the last remaining symbol of cooperation between the rivals and slapping Pyongyang with its own economic sanctions. 

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