Thursday, 20 April 2017

North Korea - 04/19/2017

US fleet sets sail for North Korea – for real this time!

The White House confirmed Wednesday that a US Navy fleet is indeed headed to North Korea. It also appears that Russia is intent on strengthening its Eastern border. Meanwhile, the secretive and bellicose regime of Kim Jong-un sustains its spectacular media orgy of anti-Americanism and has suggested that it may continue missile tests on a weekly basis. RT America’s Alexey Yaroshevsky has the details.

Sword stands ready’: Pence vows ‘overwhelming & effective’ response to N. Korean attacks

19 April, 2017

US Vice President Mike Pence has issued a fresh warning to North Korea, saying that Washington will counter any potential attack with an “overwhelming and effective” response.

Speaking from the deck of the aircraft carrier ‘USS Ronald Reagan’, docked in Yokosuka, Japan, Pence told 2,500 American sailors that North Korea is “the most dangerous and urgent threat to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific.”

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© Damir Sagolj‘Demonic destiny’: Long history of US threats to N. Korea
The United States of America will always seek peace, but under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready,” he said, as quoted by AP.

He went on to vow that the US would “defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response.”

Pence also said that North Korea’s latest failed missile launch was a reckless act of provocation, and assured Asian allies that the Washington is ready to work to achieve a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

The VP noted the Trump administration will “work diligently” with allies, including Japan and China, in order to apply economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang. However, he told the sailors that “readiness is the key.”

He also said the US will honor its alliance with Pacific Rim nations to protect freedom of navigation in the disputed South China Sea – most of which Beijing lays claim to, despite conflicting claims from other Asian nations.

The comments were made during Pence's 10-day trip to the Asia-Pacific region, which includes South Korea, Japan, Indonesia and Australia.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis simultaneously denounced North Korea's latest missile launch attempt during his Middle East tour, telling reporters in Saudi Arabia that “the leader of North Korea again recklessly tried to provoke something by launching a missile.”

Although Mattis did not identify the type of missile, he said it was not of intercontinental range, meaning it could not reach US territory. However, an official told AP on condition of anonymity that the missile was a Scud variety which the US calls a KN-17.

Mattis also did not comment on what might have caused the missile to fail.

The defense secretary credited China with trying to help get the North Korean situation “under control,” with the goal of denuclearizing the peninsula.

As part of his hardline stance against North Korea, Trump announced last week that he had sent an “armada” as a warning to Pyongyang.

For its part, North Korea has accused the US of disturbing global peace and stability by using “gangster-like logic” which may result in a nuclear breaking out on the Korean Peninsula “at any moment.”

April 25 Is "Highest Probability" Day For North Korean Nuclear Test China Warns

19 April, 2017

According to a report by Korea JoongAng Daily, China appears to be preparing measures in case North Korea tests a nuclear device or performs another provocation, including possibly suspending oil to the regime, and adds that relations between Beijing and Pyongyang appear frostier than ever before.

Additionally, the Korea publication references the Chinese-language Boxun News, which cites a Beijing source, according to whom Chinese President Xi Jinping attempted to send Wu Dawei, China’s special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, to Pyongyang after his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, but North Korean leader Kim Jong-un allegedly rejected Wu’s visit.

Boxun adds that it was unclear if North Korea did not conduct a sixth nuclear test last Saturday because of Beijing’s warning not to do so, however it adds that according to "analysts" there’s a high likelihood of a provocation on the 85th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean People’s Army next Tuesday and the days leading up to the South Korean presidential election on May 9.

Citing its Chinese source, Boxun said that "China believes there is the “highest possibility” of a nuclear test on April 25, but “does not leave out the possibility it might take action in early May." 

One assumes the Carl Vinson, wherever it may be in the world currently, will eventually make it to North Korea by then.

Meanwhile, South Korean officials cited by JoongAng Daily confirmed that Wu, China’s top nuclear envoy, during a visit to Seoul last week said he proposed to visit Pyongyang in person to persuade the North to refrain from further provocations but he was spurned.

Lu Chao, a Chinese expert on Korean studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, was among multiple analysts that told the state-affiliated tabloid Global Times Tuesday that if North Korea did not refrain from conducting its sixth nuclear test, it would “definitely trigger” more intense United Nations sanctions, and that China will implement them.

Victor Cha, the Korea Chair at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said the “provocation window” between South Korean elections and North Korean provocations has become narrower over time, referring to database collected over the past 60 years. That window refers to the proximity in time between a South Korean election and a provocative act by North Korea, meaning a nuclear or missile test.

Cha said such a pattern “suggests a provocation as early as two weeks” before the South Korean presidential elections on May 9.  That two-week window overlaps with North Korea’s military foundation day on April 25.

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Meanwhile, amid escalating military tensions in the region, the Chinese navy tested its new guided-missile destroyer, the Xining, in its first live-fire exercise conducted in the Yellow Sea, near the Korean Peninsula, broadcast on China’s state-run CCTV on Tuesday.  The Xining, China’s Type 052D-class missile destroyer with was put into service by the People’s Liberation Army Navy in January.

The exercise, possibly warning against a North Korean military provocation, was reported to have lasted several days and comes as Beijing has called for North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions under renewed pressure from the Trump administration. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned Monday in Seoul the “era for strategic patience is over.”

Trump has been lauding Beijing for helping with the Pyongyang situation, especially over sending back North Korean vessels bringing coal to a Chinese port. Trump told Fox News Tuesday in reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping, 

“He’s working so nicely that many coal ships have been sent back. Fuel is being sent back. They’re not dealing the same way. Nobody’s ever seen it like that.” As reported previously, in February, China announced it would suspend all coal imports from North Korea to the end of the year in accordance with a UN Security Council resolution.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Wednesday warned Pyongyang to exercise restraint on any actions that could heighten tension on the Korean Peninsula in response to Pyongyang’s recent bellicose rhetoric.

Lu Kang, a spokesman of the ministry, said at a briefing, “China objects to any words that could heighten tensions since the current situation on the Korean Peninsula is highly complicated and sensitive.” Within China, there is talk about playing a key card to pressure North Korea - cutting off oil supplies to the Kim Jong-un regime.

In an editorial last week, the state-run tabloid Global Times said that if Pyongyang engaged in further provocations, Chinese society would approve of “severe restrictive measures that have never been seen before, such as restricting oil imports to the North.” On Monday, the paper again called for China to cut off most oil supplies to North Korea if there was another nuclear test.

In an editorial Tuesday, it pointed out that China and U.S. cooperation is increasing over the North Korean problem, and that the possibility of dragging out the North Korea issue indefinitely has “decreased drastically.”

North Korea and China are a blood alliance, interdependent like no other,” said a South Korean government official Tuesday.  “But the atmosphere in China, which has left a back door open to North Korea regardless of the international community’s sanctions, is changing little by little.”

North Korea depends on China for some 90 percent of its crude oil supply.
Lee Gee-dong, head of the Strategic Team on North Korea at the Seoul-based Institute for National Security Strategy, said, “Though it may not be immediate, if North Korea conducts a strategic provocation such as a sixth nuclear test or launches an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Beijing will have to use the halting of oil exports card.” However, some analysts think the threat of cutting oil supplies to the North is mere rhetoric.

In the 1990s, when the North Korea nuclear issue first escalated, China could have blocked oil then,” one former South Korean official said. “The oil supply card could be a performance by China to impress President Trump, but bears more watching.”

From two days ago

North Korea: We're Not Frightened by U.S. Military Threat

This past weekend North Korea celebrated its main holiday, the Day of the Sun. It marked the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, the founder of the DPRK, the grandfather of the current leader of the country, Kim Jong-un. 

North Korea is living in an original way, based on the ideology of Kim Il-sung, the so-called Juche ideology. Initially, this was a variant of the national form of communism for North Korea, independent of the influence of Stalin and Mao. The core of the Juche ideology has been preserved to this day. It's based on the original social structure with strong centralization, huge public sector in the economy, official atheism and, most importantly, country's self-reliance. In the North Korean society, the communist principle "From Each According to His Ability, to Each According to His Need" is functioning. 

At the same time, the need of each person is determined by the state, that is by the only ruling party there. In practice, everyone's needs are modest, if not minimal. 

Everything is given to the country. In North Korea, the birthday of Kim Il-sung became the beginning of the chronology. Now, the 106th year of the Juche calendar began. And on April 15, a song festival, a show of gymnasts, a military parade and half an hour evening fireworks were organized to demonstrate the unity of the country in the face of the external threats. 

In the West, for some reason, people believed that North Korea was planning to hold another nuclear test in those days, and America even promised to "punish" the country. 

Nothing of this kind happened, and the threats stayed unrealized. However, the test missile launch made everyone feel a little worried. A rocket exploded at the start, which didn't seem like a big deal in North Korea. 

Darya Kozlova reports from the festive Pyongyang.

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