The United States has sent a nuclear submarine to South Korea amid escalating tensions with the neighboring North.
The USS Michigan, which is a guided missile submarine, arrived in the port city of Busan, South Korea, on Tuesday. A US military official described the move as a show of force.
Washington has already sent the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group to the western Pacific Ocean.
The Ohio class submarine will later join the aircraft carrier for exercises in the Sea of Japan.
The movement came after North Korea threatened to sink USS Carl Vinson.
“Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier with a single strike,” the ruling Workers’ Party newspaper said in a commentary on Sunday.
The article said Pyongyang had weaponry that “can reach continental US and Asia Pacific region.”
A statement from US Naval Forces Korea described the submarine’s visit as “routine deployment.”
“US Navy ships and submarines routinely make port calls in a variety of locations,” Lieutenant commander Matt Knight with US Pacific Fleet told Fox News.
“As a matter of routine, we do not discuss future operations or the details regarding the operations of our submarines. USS Michigan is currently on a routine deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific.”
‘Senate to go to White House for North Korea briefing’
Meanwhile, the White House has invited the entire US Senate on Wednesday for a briefing on the mounting tensions between Washington and Pyongyang.
The briefing will be delivered by several top officials including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on Monday.
‘UN must impose new sanctions on N Korea’
President Donald Trump has said the United Nations Security Council must impose new sanctions on North Korea.
“The status quo in North Korea is also unacceptable and the council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” Trump said on Monday ahead of a lunch with ambassadors from countries on the Security Council.
“This is a real threat to the world, whether we want to talk about it or not. North Korea is a big world problem and it’s a problem that we have to finally solve,” he added.
North Korea has so far conducted five confirmed nuclear tests and numerous missile test-launches. While it has not fired missiles against other countries, it has vowed strong action — including missile attacks against South Korea — if it is invaded by the South and the US.
The US earlier threatened to strike North Korea if it tried to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile. And, Pyongyang warned the US of an “all-out war” and announced that it would continue to test missiles on a weekly basis.
Will we survive the next 90 days?
There remains one good thing to say about Donald Trump: he is not Hillary. The boneheaded cruise missile attack in Syria would have occurred even earlier under President Rodham Clinton and there would undoubtedly be no-fly and safe zones already in place. Oh, and Ukraine and Georgia would be negotiating their entries into NATO to make sure that old Vlad Putin would be put on notice and understand that the days of namby-pamby jaw-jaw-jaw that characterized the Obama Administration are now ancient history.
Apart from that, I can only observe dumbstruck how yet again a candidate promising peace and dialogue could be flipped so quickly. Or maybe he never believed in anything he said, which is perhaps more to the point. Be that as it may, we now, after only ninety days in office, have a neo-neocon foreign policy and the folks clustered around their water coolers in the Washington think tanks are again smiling. And as the ruinous Syrian civil war continues thanks to American intervention, there are probably plenty of high fives within Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu government. Bibi again rules the roost.
The Israelis are no doubt particularly delighted to hear Donald Trump’s latest factually exempt voyage into the outer reaches of the galaxy regarding Iran. Or perhaps The Donald is only having continuing digestive problems dealing with “most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you’ve ever seen” when dining with mortified Chinese leader Xi Jinping while simultaneously launching cruise missiles intended to send a message to Beijing’s ally Russia. It is inevitably Iran’s turn for vilification, so Trump, while conceding that the Iranians have been compliant with the nuclear weapons agreement they signed, also felt compelled to add that they continue to be a threat and have not entered into the “spirit” of the pact. Apparently the spirit codicil was somehow left out of the final draft, an interpretation that will no doubt surprise the other signatories consisting of Russia, China and the European Union.
To make its point that Tehran is somehow a cheater, the White House has ordered a 90 day review of Iran policy which will empower hardliners in that country in upcoming elections as well as nut cases like Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham on this side of the Atlantic. Iranian opposition groups like the terrorist Mujaheddin e Khalq (MEK) are already rising to the challenge by floating phony intelligence while Graham is currently advocating a preemptive attack on North Korea, conceding that it would be catastrophic for every country in the region while noting smugly that the carnage and destruction would not reach the United States. Too bad that Pyongyang’s fury cannot be directed straight to Graham’s house in South Carolina.
Graham is reportedly a good dancer and multitasker who can pivot back to Iran effortlessly as soon as Pyongyang is reduced to rubble, so those who want to deal with Iran sooner rather than later should not despair. As things continue to go south nearly everywhere, tension in the Middle East will no doubt lead to a rapidly deteriorating situation in the Persian Gulf that will require yet another ham-handed show of strength by the United States of Amnesia. There will be a war against Iran.
There have been a couple of other interesting stories circulating recently, all demonstrating that when Benjamin Franklin observed that we Americans had created a republic, “if we can keep it,” he was being particularly prescient. Robert Parry has observed that all the fuss about Russiagate is misleading as the only country that interferes with the political process in the U.S. persistently and successfully while also doing terrible damage to our national security is Israel. He wonders when we will have Congress convening investigative commissions to look into Israel-gate but then answers his own question by observing that it will never happen given who controls what in the United States. “No one dares suggest a probe of Israel-gate,” he concludes, but it is interesting and also encouraging to note that some Americans are actually starting to figure things out.
One of the curious things relating to the Russiagate scandal is the issue of who in the U.S. intelligence community leaked highly classified information to the media, a question which somehow seems to have disappeared from whatever final reckoning might be forthcoming. The issue is particularly relevant at the moment because there are reports that the Justice Department is pulling together a case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as part of a possible attempt to remove him forcibly from his refuge in Britain and try him for constituting what CIA Director Mike Pompeo describes as a “hostile intelligence service helped by Russia.” It all suggests that low hanging fruit is fair game while some “official” leakers at high levels are somehow being protected.
To cite another example of Justice Department hypocrisy, three current and four former U.S. officials leaked to Reuters last week’s story about a Russian think tank having created a plan to subvert the U.S. election. If that is so, their identities might be discernible or surmised. Why aren’t they in jail? Or is it that many in government now believe that Russia is fair game and are prepared to look the other way?
It is significant that the recent House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russiagate, featuring FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike Rogers, provided very little new information even as it confirmed troubling revelations that had already surfaced regarding the corruption of the nation’s security services. Given that former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) head John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) chief James Clapper have been most frequently cited as the Obama administration’s possible bag men in arranging for the generation, collection, dissemination, and leaking of information disparaging to Trump, why weren’t they also being questioned?
The latest focus on Brennan, an Obama/Clinton loyalist who might safely be regarded as the most likely candidate seeking to discredit Team Trump and reap the benefits from Hillary, explores some suspicions about what actually took place last year and how it might have been arranged. The story broke in The Guardian on April 13th, headlined “British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia.” The article rehashes much old information, but, relying on a “source close to UK intelligence,” it describes how Britain’s NSA equivalent GCHQ obtained information late in 2015 relating to suspect “interactions” between Trump associates and the Russian intelligence. GCHQ reportedly routinely passed the information on to its U.S. liaison counterparts, and continued to do so over the next six months. The information was supplemented by similar reporting from a number of European intelligence services as well as the remaining “Five Eyes”: Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
According to the Guardian source and reporters, who are clearly hostile to Trump, the collection was not directed or targeted but was rather part of random interception of Russian communications. This may or may not be true but it serves as a useful cover story if someone was up to something naughty. And it also makes one wonder about the highly incriminating British intelligence sourced “dossier” on Trump and his associates, which The Guardian strangely does not mention, that appeared in January. Another apparent Guardian source called GCHQ the “principal whistleblower” in sharing the information that led to the opening of an FBI investigation in July 2016, a suggestion that the British role was not exactly passive.
The article goes on to describe how John Brennan, then CIA Chief, was personally the recipient of the material passed hand-to-hand at “director level” because of its sensitivity. So the Guardian article is essentially saying that the information was both routine and extremely sensitive, which would seem to be contradictory. Brennan was reportedly then the driving force behind launching a “major inter-agency investigation” and he briefed selected members of Congress regarding what he had obtained. Shortly thereafter leaks began appearing in the British press followed subsequently by revelations in the media in the U.S.
An October request to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court reportedly was initiated after particularly damaging information was received from Estonia concerning Trump associate Carter Page and also regarding allegations that a Russian bank was funneling money into the Trump campaign. This led to an investigation of Page and the tapping into servers in Trump Tower, where the presidential campaign offices were located. Estonia, it should be noted, was particularly concerned about Trump comments on de-emphasizing NATO and strongly supported a Hillary victory so it is fair to speculate that the intelligence provided might have been cherry picked to make a particular case, but The Guardian fails to make that obvious point.
It is interesting to note how for the first time, in this media account, Brennan surfaces as the central player in the investigation of Team Trump. And it is perhaps not out of line to suggest that the European reporting of information on Trump associates was not exactly due to random collection of information, as The Guardian seeks to demonstrate. It could just as easily have been arranged at the “director level” by Brennan and his counterparts to disrupt the Trump campaign and enhance the electability of Hillary Clinton, which would have directly benefited Brennan and his inner circle as well as the Europeans, all of whom feared a Trump victory. Intelligence can be skewed, “fixed around a policy” or even fabricated and can say whatever one wants it to say so it is fair to suggest that the role of a politically committed John Brennan remains to be explored much more fully.
It is now being reported that Brennan will be summoned to give testimony at a closed House Intelligence Committee meeting on May 2nd. Hopefully his comments will be somehow leaked to the media plus those of James Clapper, who is also scheduled to appear. Nevertheless, one imagines that, as was the case in Comey’s first appearance, both former officials will spend most of their time refusing to confirm or deny anything.
The active participation of Brennan in the background to the 2016 electoral campaign is unprecedented and it is also suggestive of what America’s national security agencies have become, basically creatures of the White House. It is hard to escape the conclusion that Benjamin Franklin would undoubtedly deplore the fact that we have failed to keep the republic that the Founding Fathers bequeathed to us. That would be bad enough, but we are slipping into a pattern of foreign wars based on tissues of lies and deceptions by the very people who are in place to protect us, quite possibly exemplified by unscrupulous and ambitious ladder climbers like John Brennan, who was also the architect of Obama’s assassination policy. If we go to war because of suspected lack of “spirit” in our adversaries or merely because someone in the White House had a piece of chocolate cake and wanted something to talk about over his cup of espresso then we are doomed as a nation.
“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.”
“When the CIA goes to church, it doesn’t go to pray.”
— South American aphorism
Let’s be clear. Syria is invading nobody. North Korea is attacking damn all. And Russia is threatening zilch. But on the eve of the apocalypse these nations are the ones being stoned. The sanctimonious are having a field day crucifying the leaders of these countries and stomping all over the humanity of their peoples.
In a godless universe the tormentors of Syria, Russia and North Korea are behaving as if god is on their side. If god is another word for barbaric stupidity: they’re right. In that case, though – the universe ain’t empty – it’s full of fucking god.
The silver lining to this toxic theism is the fact that god has a habit of bringing down empires. That’s the point of Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It’s also the point of Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Genealogy of Morals. God tends to turn mighty empires and mighty individuals into junk.
In other words, piety and the hypocrisy that accompanies it – overtime undermines physical and political power. Let’s hope so. But do we have enough time? Because it’s beginning to feel like the end-time. The ‘mother of all bombs’ is preparing the way for the ‘mother of all suicides’.
The Bible Belt in America and the Koran Knot in Asia are being pulled so tight that the only ones who can breathe today are the Jewish and Islamic states. In the 21st century this doesn’t make sense. After a few hundred years of humanism and rationalism you’d think the world would know better.
In fact the world does know better. God is no longer an unknown entity. The Enlightenment and it’s revolutionaries revealed a long time ago that god is a human creation. “His” only purpose in the past was to create a distraction. And “His” only purpose now is to create chaos – cue the CIA.
Today’s world was created in the 1980s. After Vietnam, the gods living in and around Washington D.C. had a plan: zero taxes and zero standards for the rich. And god for everyone else. It was crude. But crude capitalism likes a crusade.
This proposal, however, wasn’t just for America but for the world. It reflected a mindset that was not only totalitarian but was also simplistic and vindictive. It sought to control life on earth at both the macro-level and the micro-level. And god help anyone who got in the way.
To cover up it’s profound imperialism, Washington D.C. around 1980 covered itself in religion: President Reagan mobilised the Protestants; his director of the CIA, William Casey, mobilised the Catholics; and Carter’s National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, mobilised the Moslems. The Jews were already mobilised so they just followed (or led) the pack. And the Hindus weren’t far behind.
As a result of all this Machiavellian metaphysics an almighty tsunami of religion washed over the earth during the 1980s (we’re still drowning in it). God became a weapon of mass destruction. And “He” was aimed at all those who criticised the rich and celebrated the victory of Vietnam. The popes, preachers and prophets were unleashed.
It was the imams however which became the heroes of Washington D.C. Because it was they who fatally wounded the USSR and Yugoslavia. In books like Devils Game by Robert Dreyfuss and The Lost Hegemon by F. William Engdahl, the Holy Alliance between Islamic fundamentalism and the CIA is laid out for all to see.
While Opus Dei (the Roman rapists) and the evangelicals (the gospel gangbangers) did god’s dirty work in the Americas, Africa and Europe – the jihadis did god’s filthiest work in the Orient. The horrendous Afghan jihad (Operation Cyclone) which Brzezinski started in 1979 became the template for US policy throughout the Orient (Algeria, Chechnya, Iraq, Libya, Mali and Syria). Indeed jihad emerged as Washington’s only answer to the rise of China. On the grand chessboard the White House was a thousand years behind it’s opponents. It had voluntarily abandoned reason in favour of religious terror.
Listen to the CIA deep thinker and RAND Corporation philosopher, Graham E. Fuller, speaking in the late 1990s:
“The policy of guiding the evolution of Islam and of helping them against our adversaries worked marvelously well in Afghanistan against the Russians. The same doctrines can still be used to what remains of Russian power, and especially to counter the Chinese influence in Central Asia.”
This is the guts of recent and current US strategy – straight from the horse’s mouth (or asshole). It’s not complicated – it’s completely nuts. Rather than being based on trade – it’s based on traditional ignorance. Instead of fanning the warm glow of international cooperation. It wilfully fans a conflagration of medieval mendacity. It’s not a pivot towards Asia but a pivot towards hell.
And the reason for this obscurantism? It’s to be found in the physical part of metaphysics. It’s to be found in the bowels of the earth. It’s the oil and gas and whatever else the US must steal and spoil to “keep America great forever”. As chief US strategist George F. Kennan wrote in 1948:
“We have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population…. Our real task in the coming period [the coming century] is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity. To do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality…. We should cease to talk about vague…. unreal objectives such as human rights [humanism, rationalism, secularism, modernism], the raising of living standards, and democratisation. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”
The straightest “power concept” of them all is: god. And the oldest “pattern of relationships” is also summed up in the word: god. “He” is up there and we are down here. And our job is to worship “Him”. Washington D.C. liked this model because after Vietnam it was the last model they had left in their reactionary political / philosophical arsenal. And around 1980 they used it with a vengeance. After 1980 Washington D.C. was Mecca, Jerusalem and the Vatican rolled into one. God’s word was and still is “the Washington Consensus” plus the Pentagon. And god help anyone who got in the way.
So who is in the way of the “Washington Caliphate”? Where is the current “axis of evil”? You guessed it: Syria, Russia and North Korea. The Arab Republic, the communist state and the ex-communist empire refuse to genuflect to the White House. And for committing this secular sin the mindless gods are mercilessly kneecapping them.
These three rebel states however continue to resist. In the face of almighty pressure each refuses to surrender their pride and sovereignty.
We’re witnessing a battle of wills like never before. This arc of resistance which stretches across the Eurasian landmass – from the Mediterranean Sea to the Sea of Japan – is Brzezinski’s worst nightmare come true. Indeed viewed as one instead of three it is a formidable barrier to the totalitarian ambition of the CIA. Viewed as one instead of three it can prevail.
Why can they prevail? Because they possess the fire of the gods. They possess that which made the gods in Washington D.C. great in the first place: independence and reason. Syria, Russia and North Korea harken back to a time when modernism meant something – a time when western imperialism was the problem rather than the solution. And for this reason alone their perspective is a thousand times more real than the perspective of the god-lovers who terrorise them.
And the fire? The ultimate fire which they possess and will protect them is the nuclear bomb. Good old fashioned science (Prometheus) has given Russia and North Korea – and indirectly Syria too – the key to freedom. Say what you like about the nuclear bomb but in the hands of the weak – the Empire must back down. And in the space created we can breathe. And recall the fact that god is dead. And the emperor in Washington is wearing no clothes.
Aidan O’Brien is a hospital worker in Dublin, Ireland.
“We are fighting in Korea so we won’t have to fight in Wichita, or in Chicago, or in New Orleans, or in San Francisco Bay.”
— President Harry S Truman, 1952
Why has this tiny nation of 24 million people invested so much of its limited resources in acquiring nuclear weapons? North Korea is universally condemned as a bizarre and failed state, its nuclear posture denounced as irrational.
Yet North Korea’s stance cannot be separated out from its turbulent history during the 20th Century, especially its four decade long occupation by Japan, the forced division of the Korean peninsula after World War II, and, of course, the subsequent utterly devastating war with the United States from 1950-1953 that ended in an armistice in which a technical state of war still exists.
Korea is an ancient nation and culture, achieving national unity in 608 CE, and despite its near envelopment by gigantic China it has retained its own unique language and traditions throughout its recorded history. National independence came to an end in 1910 after five years of war when Japan, taking advantage of Chinese weakness, invaded and occupied Korea using impressed labor for the industries Japan created for the benefit of its own economy. As always the case for colonization the Japanese easily found collaborators among the Korean elite Koreans to manage their first colony.
Naturally a nationalist resistance movement emerged rapidly and, given the history of the early 20th Century, it was not long before communists began to play a significant role in Korea’s effort to regain its independence. The primary form of resistance came in the form of “peoples’ committees” which became deeply rooted throughout the entire peninsula, pointedly in the south as well. It was from these deeply political and nationalistic village and city committees that guerrilla groups engaged the Japanese throughout WWII. The parallels with similar organizations in Vietnam against the Japanese, and later against the French and Americans, are obvious. Another analogous similarity is that Franklin Roosevelt also wanted a Great Power trusteeship for Korea, as for Vietnam. Needless to say both Britain and France objected to this plan.
When Russia entered the war against Japanese in August of 1945 the end of Japanese rule was at hand regardless of the atomic bomb. As events turned out Japan surrendered on 15 August when Soviet troops had occupied much of the northern peninsula. It should be noted that American forces played no role in the liberation of Korea from Japanese rule. However, because the Soviets, as allies of the U.S., wished to remain on friendly terms they agreed to the division of Korea between Soviet and American forces. The young Dean Rusk, later to become Secretary of State under Kennedy and Johnson, arbitrarily drew a line of division across the 38th Parallel because, as he said, that would leave the capital city, Seoul, in the American zone.
Written reports at the time criticized Washington for “allowing” the Red Army into Korea but the fact was it was the other way around. The Soviets could easily have occupied the entirety of Korea but chose not to do so, instead opting for a negotiated settlement with the U.S. over the future of Korea. Theoretically the peninsula would be reunited after some agreement between the two victors at some future date.
However, the U.S. immediately began to favor those Koreans who had collaborated with the Japanese in the exploitation of their own country and its people, largely the landed elites, and Washington began to arm the provisional government it set up to root out the peoples’ committees. For their part the Soviets supported the communist nationalist leader, Kim Il-Sung who had led the guerrilla army against Japan at great cost in lives.
In 1947 the United Nations authorized elections in Korea, but the election monitors were all American allies so the Soviets and communist Koreans refused to participate. By then the Cold War was in full swing, the critical alliance between Washington and Moscow that had defeated Nazi Germany had already been sundered. As would later also occur in Vietnam in 1956, the U.S. oversaw elections only in the south of Korea and only those candidates approved by Washington. Syngman Rhee became South Korea’s first president protected by the new American armed and trained Army of the Republic of Korea. This ROK was commanded by officers who had served the Japanese occupation including one who had been decorated by Emperor Hirohito himself and who had tried to track down and kill Kim Il Sung for the Japanese.
With Korea thus seemingly divided permanently both Russian and American troops withdrew in 1948 though they left “advisers” behind. On both sides of the new artificial border pressures mounted for a forcible reunification. The fact remained that much of rural southern Korea was still loyal to the peoples committees. This did not necessarily mean that they were committed communists but they were virulent nationalists who recognized the role that Kim’s forces had played against the Japanese. Rhee’s forces then began to systematically root out Kim’s supporters. Meanwhile the American advisers had constantly to keep Rhee’s forces from crossing the border to invade the north.
In 1948 guerrilla war broke out against the Rhee regime on the southern island of Cheju, the population of which ultimately rose in wholesale revolt. The suppression of the rebellion was guided by many American agents soon to become part of the Central Intelligence Agency and by military advisers. Eventually the entire population was removed to the coast and kept in guarded compounds and between 20,000 and 30,000 villagers died. Simultaneously elements of the ROK army refused to participate in this war against their own people and this mutiny was brutally suppressed by those ROK soldiers who would obey such orders. Over one thousand of the mutineers escaped to join Kim’s guerrillas in the mountains.
Though Washington claimed that these rebellions were fomented by the communists no evidence surfaced that the Soviets provided anything other than moral support. Most of the rebels captured or killed had Japanese or American weapons.
In North Korea the political system had evolved in response to decades of foreign occupation and war. Though it was always assumed to be a Soviet satellite, North Korea more nearly bears comparison to Tito’s Yugoslavia. The North Koreans were always able to balance the tensions between the Soviets and the Chinese to their own advantage. During the period when the Comintern exercised most influence over national communist parties not a single Korean communist served in any capacity and the number of Soviet advisers in the north was never high.
Nineteen forty-nine marked a watershed year. The Chinese Communist Revolution, the Soviet Atomic Bomb, the massive reorganization of the National Security State in the U.S. all occurred that year. In 1950 Washington issued its famous National Security Paper-68 (NSC-68) which outlined the agenda for a global anti-communist campaign, requiring the tripling of the American defense budget. Congress balked at this all-encompassing blueprint when in the deathless words of Secretary of State Dean Acheson “Thank God! Korea came along.” Only months before Acheson had made a speech in which he pointedly omitted Korea from America’s “Defense perimeter.”
The Korean War seemed to vindicate everything written and said about “the international communist conspiracy”. In popular myth on June 25, 1950 the North Korean Army suddenly attacked without warning, overwhelming surprised ROK defenders. In fact the entire 38th Parallel had been progressively militarized and there had been numerous cross border incursions by both sides going back to 1949. On numerous occasions Syngman Rhee had to be restrained by American advisers from invading the north. The Korean civil war was all but inevitable. Given postwar American plans for access globally to resources, markets and cheaper labor power any form of national liberation, communist or liberal democratic, was to be opposed. Acheson and his second, Dean Rusk, told President Truman that “we must draw the line here!” Truman decided to request authorization for American intervention from the United Nations and bypassed Congress thereby leading to widespread opposition and, later, a return to Republican rule under Dwight Eisenhower.
Among the remaining mysteries of the UN decision to undertake the American led military effort to reject North Korea from the south was the USSR’s failure to make use of its veto in the Security Council. The Soviet ambassador was ostensibly boycotting the meetings in protest of the UN’s refusal to seat the Chinese communists as China’s official delegation. According to Bruce Cumings though, evidence exists that Stalin ordered the Soviet ambassador to abstain. Why? The UN resolution authorizing war could have been prevented. At that moment the Sino-Soviet split was already in evidence and Stalin may have wished to weaken China, something which actually happened as a result of that nation’s subsequent entry into the war. Or he may have wished that cloaking the UN mission under the U.S. flag would have revealed the UN to be largely under the control of the United States, which indeed it was. What is known is that Stalin refused to allow Soviet combat troops and reduced shipments of arms to Kim’s forces. Later, however Soviet pilots would engage Americans in the air. The Chinese were quick to condemn the UN action as “American imperialism” and warned of dire consequences if China itself were threatened.
The war went badly at first for the U.S. despite numerical advantages in forces. Rout after rout followed with the ROK in full retreat. Meanwhile tens of thousands of southern guerrillas who had originated in peoples’ committees fought the Americans and the ROK. At one point the North Koreans were in control of Seoul and seemed about to drive American forces into the sea. At that point the commander- in-chief of all UN forces, General Douglas MacArthur, announced that he saw unique opportunities for the deployment of atomic weapons. This call was taken up by many in Congress.
Truman was loathe to introduce nukes and instead authorized MacArthur to conduct the famous landings at Inchon in September 1950 with few losses by the Marine Corps vaunted 1st Division. This threw North Korean troops into disarray and MacArthur began pushing them back across the 38th Parallel, the mandate imposed by the UN resolution. But the State Department claimed that the border was not recognized under international law and therefore the UN mandate had no real legal bearing. It was this that MacArthur claimed gave him the right to take the war into the north. Though the North Koreans had suffered a resounding defeat in the south, they withdrew into northern mountain redoubts forcing the American forces that followed them into bloody and costly combat, leading Americans into a trap.
The Chinese had said from the beginning that any approach of foreign troops toward their border would result in “dire consequences.” Fearing an invasion of Manchuria to crush the nascent communist revolution the Chinese foreign minister, Zhou En-Lai declared that China “will not supinely tolerate seeing their neighbors invaded by the imperialists.” MacArthur sneered at this warning. “… They have no air force… if the Chinese tried to get down to Pyongyang there would be a great slaughter… we are the best.” He then ordered airstrikes to lay waste to thousands of square miles of northern Korea bordering China and ordered infantry divisions ever closer to its border.
It was the terrible devastation of this bombing campaign, worse than anything seen during World War II short of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that to this day dominates North Korea’s relations with the United States and drives its determination never to submit to any American diktat.
General Curtis Lemay directed this onslaught. It was he who had firebombed Tokyo in March 1945 saying it was “about time we stopped swatting at flies and gone after the manure pile.” It was he who later said that the US “ought to bomb North Vietnam back into the stone age.” Remarking about his desire to lay waste to North Korea he said “We burned down every town in North Korea and South Korea too.” Lemay was by no means exaggerating.
On November 27, 1950 hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops suddenly crossed the border into North Korea completely overwhelming US forces. Acheson said this was the “worst defeat of American forces since Bull Run.” One famous incident was the battle at the Chosin Reservoir, where 50,000 US marines were surrounded. As they escaped their enclosure they said they were “advancing to the rear” but in fact all American forces were being routed.
Panic took hold in Washington. Truman now said use of A-bombs was under “active consideration.” MacArthur demanded the bombs… As he put it in his memoirs:
I would have dropped between thirty and fifty atomic bombs… strung across the neck of Manchuria… and spread behind us – from the Sea of Japan to the Yellow Sea- a belt of radioactive cobalt. It has an active life of between 60 and 120 years.
Cobalt it should be noted is at least 100 times more radioactive than uranium.
He also expressed a desire for chemicals and gas.
It is well known that MacArthur was fired for insubordination for publically announcing his desire to use nukes. Actually, Truman himself put the nukes at ready and threatened to use them if China launched air raids against American forces. But he did not want to put them under MacArthur’s command because he feared MacArthur would conduct a preemptive strike against China anyway.
By June 1951, one year after the beginning of the war, the communists had pushed UN forces back across the 38th parallel. Chinese ground forces might have been able to push the entire UN force off the peninsula entirely but that would not have negated US naval and air forces, and would have probably resulted in nuclear strikes against the Chinese mainland and that brought the real risk of Soviet entry and all out nuclear exchanges. So from this point on the war became one of attrition, much like the trench warfare of World War I. casualties continued to be high on both sides for the duration of the war which lasted until 1953 when an armistice without reunification was signed.
Of course the victims suffering worst were the civilians. In 1951 the U.S. initiated “Operation Strangle” which officials estimated killed at least 3 million people on both sides of the 38th parallel, but the figure is probably closer to 4 million. We do not know how many Chinese died – either solders or civilians killed in cross border bombings.
The question of whether the U.S. carried out germ warfare has been raised but has never been fully proved or disproved. The North accused the U.S. of dropping bombs laden with cholera, anthrax, plague, and encephalitis and hemorrhagic fever, all of which turned up among soldiers and civilians in the north. Some American prisoners of war confessed to such war crimes but these were dismissed as evidence of torture by North Korea on Americans. However, none of the U.S. POWs who did confess and were later repatriated were allowed to meet the press. A number of investigations were carried out by scientists from friendly western countries. One of the most prominent concluded the charges were true. At this time the US was engaged in top secret germ-warfare research with captured Nazi and Japanese germ warfare experts, and also experimenting with Sarin, despite its ban by the Geneva Convention. Washington accused the communists of introducing germ warfare.
Napalm was used extensively, completely and utterly destroying the northern capital of Pyongyang. By 1953 American pilots were returning to carriers and bases claiming there were no longer any significant targets in all of North Korea to bomb. In fact a very large percentage of the northern population was by then living in tunnels dug by hand underground. A British journalist wrote that the northern population was living “a troglodyte existence.” In the Spring of 1953 US warplanes hit five of the largest dams along the Yalu river completely inundating and killing Pyongyang’s harvest of rice. Air Force documents reveal calculated premeditation saying that “Attacks in May will be most effective psychologically because it was the end of the rice-transplanting season before the roots could become completely embedded.” Flash floods scooped out hundreds of square miles of vital food producing valleys and killed untold numbers of farmers.
At Nuremberg after WWII, Nazi officers who carried out similar attacks on the dikes of Holland, creating a mass famine in 1944, were tried as criminals and some were executed for their crimes.
So after a horrific war Korea returned to the status quo ante bellum in terms of political boundaries but it was completely devastated, especially the north.
I submit that it is the collective memory of all of what I’ve described that animates North Korea’s policies toward the US today which has nuclear weapons on constant alert and stations almost 30,000 forces at the ready. Remember, a state of war still exists and has since 1953.
While South Korea received heavy American investment in the industries fleeing the United States in search of cheaper labor and new markets it was nevertheless ruled until quite recently by military dictatorships scarcely different than those of the north. For its part the north constructed its economy along five-year plans and collectivized its agriculture. While it never enjoyed the sort of consumer society that now characterizes some of South Korea, its GDP grew substantially until the collapse of communism globally brought about the withdrawal of all foreign aid to north Korea.
During the late 1980s and early 1990s, as some American policymakers took note of the north’s growing weakness Secretary of Defense Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz talked openly of using force finally to settle the question of Korean reunification and the claimed threat to international peace posed by North Korea.
In 1993 the Clinton Administration discovered that North Korea was constructing a nuclear processing plant and also developing medium range missiles. The Pentagon desired to destroy these facilities but that would mean wholesale war so the administration fostered an agreement whereby North Korea would stand down in return for the provision of oil and other economic aid. When in 2001, after the events of 9-11, the Bush II neo-conservatives militarized policy and declared North Korea to be an element of the “axis of evil.” All bets were now off. In that context North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, reasoning that nuclear weapons were the only way possible to prevent a full scale attack by the US in the future. Given a stark choice between another war with the US and all that would entail this decision seems hardly surprising. Under no circumstances could any westerner reasonably expect, after all the history I’ve described, that the North Korean regime would simply submit to any ultimatums by the US, by far the worst enemy Korea ever had measured by the damage inflicted on the entirety of the Korean peninsula.
(Acknowledgement to Bruce Cumings and I.F. Stone)
A quarter of the way through TV programmes in the weekend on two leading Malayalam channels, it dawned on me that some woolly-headed local “strategic thinker” must have been spreading a yarn that World War III is in the offing because US President Donald Trump has abandoned his campaign pledges and has embraced the classic US imperialistic policies – and that the missile attack in Syria, the use of the ‘mother of all bombs’ in Afghanistan and the war clouds over North Korea were all symptomatic of the Armageddon.
Of course, I tried to reason by detailing empirical evidence that much of what is happening is due largely to the confusion prevailing in Washington under a president who is hopelessly besieged, and that things are in reality far from what meets the eye.
So, today, I laughed uncontrollably when the American press reports started appearing that, after all, Trump’s show of force in the Far East was a contrived playact. The formidable American armada, the Carl Vinson carrier strike force, apparently never really headed for North Korea! It was a charade!
I had suspected all along that some back-room deal between the US and China was going on and that the pantomime was complex and, perhaps, beyond belief. The first cloud of suspicion arose when the Chinese commentaries began hinting vaguely that if both Pyongyang and Washington showed restraint, it was not coincidental but there would have been a mutual awareness that neither side would push the envelope. Of course, Chinese commentators will never acknowledge whether Beijing acted as a guarantor of sorts to Pyongyang that Trump has no intentions to attack North Korea or decapitate the Kim Jong-un regime.
The Chinese and I are on the same page here, perhaps, being votaries of dialectical materialism. I too believe that the US economy is hardly in a position to start an imperial war anywhere on the planet, and that Trump knows this better than anyone in America. Which only, after all, explains his consistent campaign pledge that much as he’d build up the US military as by far the most powerful war machine that man ever knew and would restore American prestige and influence worldwide, he will not be an interventionist and will use American power most sparingly, only if US interests are threatened – and, most important, that the core of his foreign-policy doctrine is “America First”, as distinct from his predecessor Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton’s.
Now, let me reproduce the extracts from a Chinese commentary that appeared today in the Communist Party daily Global Times :
- Most observers say that the Korean Peninsula is approaching the most volatile point, but the possibility of a war remains slim. There are signs that the US President Donald Trump would resort to a tougher Pyongyang policy than his predecessor… However, it will not act rashly… Trump will not forget the promise he made during the presidential campaign. Though he vigorously believes American foreign policy comes from its military might, to “make America great again” can in no way rely entirely on military prowess. In the near future, the Trump administration will attach more importance to the economy, employment and immigration than to diplomacy… The new administration has made it clear that instead of seeking a regime change, it will put “maximum pressure” upon Pyongyang and calls for engagement with the North Korea regime, if and when it changes its behavior.
- US national interests and domestic politics, especially American citizens’ political appeal, have determined that Trump must give top priority to domestic affairs… It demonstrates the pragmatic and flexible side of the new government. If the US truly implements the new policy, the global community will see the world’s most powerful country spending more time and energy in dealing with domestic affairs. The future circumstances surrounding Pyongyang will likely enter a new phase.
Now, does it mean China will lower its guard? No way. Make no mistake, China won’t take chances with the unstable political environment in which Trump operates. Thus, explicit warnings have also been held out to the US that any attack on North Korea will inevitably trigger Chinese military intervention. This is what an editorial in Global Times warned on Tuesday:
- 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. The Chinese will not let something like that happen, especially on the same land where the Chinese Volunteer Army once fought in the early 1950s. It is a land covered with the blood of Chinese soldiers who bravely fought in the early 1950s. Furthermore, if Pyongyang were to be taken by the allied armies of the US and South Korea, it would dramatically change the geopolitical situation in the Korean Peninsula.
Interestingly, government-owned China Daily reported today that President Xi Jinping in his capacity as the chairman of the Central Military Commission has stressed to the PLA commanders the imperative of being “combat ready”. (China Daily )
So, what lies ahead? My prognosis: Beijing is actively promoting direct talks between the US and North Korea without any pre-conditions, which can be expected in a near future. Would Trump get around to realising his wish to have a McDonald cheeseburger with Kim some day, as he once said? Welcome to the Trump era in world politics.
“Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem?” tweeted President Donald Trump on Easter Sunday.
Earlier, after discovering “great chemistry” with Chinese President Xi Jinping over “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake” at Mar-a-Lago, Trump had confided, “I explained … that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!”
“America First” thus takes a back seat to big-power diplomacy with Beijing. One wonders: How much will Xi end up bilking us for his squeezing of Kim Jong Un?
Trump once seemed to understand how America had been taken to the cleaners during and after the Cold War. While allies supported us diplomatically, they piled up huge trade surpluses at our expense and became virtual free-riders off the U.S. defense effort.
No nations were more successful at this than South Korea and Japan. Now Xi is playing the game — and perhaps playing Trump.
What is the “North Korean problem” Beijing will help solve in return for more indulgent consideration on future U.S.-China trade deals?
North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. As 80 percent of Pyongyang’s trade comes through China, Trump believes that Beijing can force Kim to stop testing missiles and atomic bombs before he produces an intercontinental ballistic missile that could hit the U.S.
But what is to prevent Xi from pocketing Trump’s concessions and continuing on the strategic course China has long pursued?
For in many ways, Pyongyang’s goals parallel China’s.
Neither could want an all-out war on the Korean Peninsula. For Kim, this would devastate his country, bring down his regime, and cost him his life. For China, war could mean millions of Koreans crossing the Yalu into Manchuria and a disruption of Beijing’s march to Asian hegemony.
A continuing crisis on the peninsula, however, with Trump and the U.S. relying on Beijing’s help, could leave Xi in the catbird seat.
And now that North Korea has declared its goal to be building missiles with nuclear warheads that could hit all U.S. bases in Asia — and even California — the clock is running for the White House.
“It won’t happen,” Trump has said of North Korea’s developing an ICBM that could hit the United States. “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”
“The threat is upon us,” says outgoing deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland. “This is something President Trump is going to deal with in the first year.”
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence have declared that our policy of “strategic patience” with Pyonyang is at an end.
National security adviser H.R. McMaster said Sunday the U.S. has “to take action, short of armed conflict, so we can avoid the worst” in dealing with “this unpredictable regime.”
With a stunning parade of missiles in Pyongyang on Saturday, the North’s failed firing of a solid-fueled missile that same day, and the promise of new missile tests weekly, Kim is forcing our hand.
Either he backs away from building atomic bombs and long-range missiles or Trump and his generals must make good on their warnings.
How did we get to this point?
Why, 64 years after the Korean War, a quarter-century after the Cold War, are we still obliged to go to war to defend South Korea from a North with one-half the South’s population and 3 percent of its gross domestic product?
Why are we, on the far side of the Pacific, still responsible for containing North Korea when two of its neighbors — Russia and China — are nuclear powers and South Korea and Japan could field nuclear and conventional forces far superior to Kim’s?
How long into the future will containing militarist dictators in Pyongyang with nuclear missiles be America’s primary responsibility?
Another issue arises. Before the U.S. launches any pre-emptive strike on North Korea, Congress should be called back into session to authorize any act of war against the North.
Perhaps this time, Congress would follow the Constitution.
Though Korea is the crisis of the moment, it is not the only one.
Not since 9/11 have the Afghan Taliban been stronger or controlled more territory. The United States’ commanding general there is calling for thousands more U.S. troops. Russia and Iran are reportedly negotiating with the Taliban. Pakistan is said to be aiding them.
To counter Vladimir Putin’s Russia, we have moved U.S. and NATO troops into Poland, the Baltic States, Romania and Bulgaria. We have fired missiles into Syria. We are reportedly preparing to back the Saudis in the latest escalation of their war on the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Twenty-four years after “Black Hawk Down,” the weekend brought reports of U.S. troops returning to Somalia.
The promise of a Trump presidency — that we would start looking out for our own country and own national interests first and let the rest of the world solve, or fail to solve, its own problems — appears, not 100 days in, to have been a mirage.
Will more wars make America great again?
Copyright 2017 Creators.com.
Mike Pence’s statement on the US running out of “strategic patience” towards Pyongyang does not contribute to resolving the crisis, Sergey Lavrov said, voicing hopes there will be no repeat of the US strike on Syria in North Korea.
“I hope that there won’t be any unilateral actions like we recently saw in Syria and that the US will follow the policies Trump repeatedly declared during his election campaign,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, regarding the statement made by US Vice President Mike Pence on Monday during his visit to South Korea.
The world has witnessed the “strength and resolve of [President Trump] in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan,” according to Pence, who threatened North Korea “not to test” this resolve or “or the strength of the armed forces of the United States.”
The Russian foreign minister warned not to take any military actions and stressed that the “risky nuclear and missile endeavors of Pyongyang” violating UNSC resolutions could not be used as an excuse for violating international law and the UN Charter “in the same fashion” as in Syria.
The period of US policy before the current escalation could be hardly described as an “era of strategic patience,” Lavrov added.
“I cannot call the Obama administration’s period an ‘era of strategic patience,’ as the US has been quite harshly limiting North Korea’s capabilities to develop economy sectors related to nuclear or energy areas,” Lavrov said, referring to past US initiatives, many of them backed by the UN Security Council.
Harsh statements do not contribute to peace and stability in the region, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also said, while commenting on South Korean President Hwang Kyo-ahn’s promise to “implement intensive punitive measures” on Pyongyang in case of any “provocations.”
“Our position is well known and consistent. We call on all sides to avoid any actions which might be perceived as a provocation. And we stand for the continuation of coordinated international efforts in existing formats to resolve the North Korean problem,” Peskov said.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are reaching boiling point again, after Pyongyang conducted a missile test amid joint US-South Korea drills in March. On April 10, the ‘USS Carl Vinson’ was part of a strike group that reportedly headed to the peninsula as a show of force and to demonstrate readiness for “various scenarios.”
North Korea has urged the US to stop its “military hysteria” and “come to its senses” – or face a merciless response if “provocations continue.” On Saturday, Pyongyang allegedly conducted yet another missile test, although it was reportedly unsuccessful.
Russia considers the United States’ goal of regime change in North Korea unacceptable, Russian Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora told Sputnik.
“Another serious problem here is that Western [countries] indeed often do not hide their ultimate goal to eliminate the North Korean political system. This means to eliminate North Korean statehood,” Matsegora said.
He stressed that “such an approach is unacceptable.”
Recently, there have been a growing number of suggestions by Chinese diplomatic and military commentators that Beijing is not obliged to defend Pyongyang in the event of a military attack, an article in the South China Morning Post read.
The assumption comes as senior officials in the United States have warned of a strike against North Korea.
In particular, Washington has positioned two destroyers in the region that can deploy Tomahawk missiles, according to what intelligence officials told NBC News, along with heavy bombers stationed in Guam that could provide support should such a strike take place.
“North Korea is a problem, the problem will be taken care of,” US President Donald Trump told reporters Thursday.
Chinese media outlets and even some official websites have recently published articles saying that in the current situation there are fewer options to find the peaceful solution to the North Korean nuclear issue.
For example, on March 22, website China Military, sponsored by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), published an article commenting on a ground test by Pyongyang of a new type of high-thrust rocket engine.
“We believe that warfare is just a matter of time if DPRK continues its nuclear and missile program. […] Under no condition will the international community accept DPRK’s legal possession of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. As Pyongyang continues with its nuclear programs, international sanctions will get tighter, and it will eventually be isolated from the rest of the world for a long time,” the article read.
It is not in Pyongyang’s interests to go against international community’s stance on nuclear weapons. In a situation when the US, Russia and China share views of North Korea’s nuclear ambitions Pyongyang has almost no room for maneuvering. On the other hand, Pyongyang’s decision to give up its nuclear ambitions would satisfy the interests of the North Korean political elite, without posing a threat to the country’s existence.
This assumption was made before President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met in Florida, which proves that Beijing toughened rhetoric towards Pyongyang not under the influence by Washington.
In formal terms, China is North Korea’s only military ally, according to the 1961 Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty. At the same time, many Chinese experts say that de-facto those obligations do not exist anymore. The reason is that Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions have formed an epicenter of tensions near China’s border.
“Despite China’s support for North Korea during the 1950-1953 Korean War, in the current environment, Beijing will prioritize national security over ideology,” Andrei Karneyev, deputy director of the Institute of Asian and African Countries at Moscow State University, told Sputnik China.
According to the expert, this change of heart is not related to any pressure from Washington, but is dictated by security needs. However, the question remains: what would China do in the event of a military confrontation against North Korea?
Shanghai-based military analyst Ni Lexiong told the South China Morning Post that Beijing would need to provide military assistance to its neighbor if US troops invaded, but Pyongyang’s violation of the UN non-proliferation treaty was a “strong reason” for China not to help.
According to Zhan Debin, an expert from the Shanghai University of Foreign Trade, there is little chance of a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
“The US is unlikely to attack North Korea on its own initiative. It would be possible if Pyongyang endangered the key security interests of Washington and Seoul. This would be an adequate reason for the US,” he told Sputnik China.
The expert pointed out that the US military force redeployed to the Korean Peninsula is rather a warning for Pyongyang.
He added that the probability of minor conflicts between the US and North Korea is very low because any minor conflict will turn into a large-scale confrontation.
“We can’t say that the US recklessly wants to start a war. Of course, South Korea doesn’t want war. If a conflict broke out South Korea would be hit the most,” Zhan Debin said. Commenting on China’s actions during the hypothetical confrontation, the expert noted that Beijing may not get involved if Pyongyang provoked a conflict, but at the same time China cannot turn a blind eye to instability in the region.
“Of course, Beijing will try to prevent a conflict from turning into war. China will not supply weapons and provide military and combat assistance,” he said.
The expert continued: “It is not correct to speculate on the matter. This makes no sense. What we should do is to have a backup plan of actions. Of course, China would act [in the event of a confrontation], but there should be a reason for actions. On the whole, China’s goal is to maintain peace and stability in the region.”
North Korea won’t hesitate to go to war if provoked, its vice foreign minister said in an interview, adding that the North has “a powerful nuclear deterrent” and “certainly will not keep arms crossed” if facing a pre-emptive strike from Washington.
“If the US comes with reckless military maneuvers, then we will confront it with the DPRK’s [the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] pre-emptive strike,” North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol told AP.
He added that Pyongyang possesses “a powerful nuclear deterrent” and the North “certainly will not keep our arms crossed in the face of a US pre-emptive strike.’’
“We will go to war if they choose,” he stated.
On Thursday, US intelligence officials told NBC News that the US has positioned two destroyers armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles some 480 kilometers from North Korea’s nuclear test site.
Washington intends to act preemptively if it becomes “convinced” that a nuclear detonation is imminent.
Han criticized current US administration, noting that Washington’s attitude towards Pyongyang is “becoming more vicious and more aggressive.”
“Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words,” Han said, stressing “it’s not the DPRK but the US and Trump that makes trouble.”
“Whatever comes from US politicians, if their words are designed to overthrow the DPRK system and government, we will categorically reject them,” he said.
Han also dismissed the comment Trump made just after being elected suggesting that he could patch things up with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over “a hamburger on a conference table” in the White House.
“I think that was nothing more than lip service during the campaign to make himself more popular,” Han said.
The North Korean official also slammed the joint military exercises that the US and South Korea are conducting on the peninsula.
“As long as the nuclear threats and blackmail go on with the military exercises, we will carry forward with our national defense buildup, the core of which is the nuclear arms buildup,” Han said, adding “whatever comes from the US, we will cope with it. We are fully prepared to handle it.”
Seoul and Washington are currently holding their annual Foal Eagle exercise, in which 30,000 US troops are participating. The drills, which began in early March, will last until April 30.
Addressing one the most hotly discussed topics – a possible 6th nuclear test – Han remained ambiguous.
“That is something that our headquarters decides,” Han said, adding that “at a time and at a place where the headquarters deems necessary, it will take place.”
The escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula comes as North Korea is preparing to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il-sung, the grandfather of the current leader. The event is a state holiday called ‘Day of the Sun’. Rumors of a possible nuclear test were fueled after officials from the North told foreign journalists to prepare for a “big and important event.”
In April of 2016, on the occasion of Kim Il-sung’s 104th birthday, Pyongyang test fired its Musudan intermediate-range missile.
On Thursday, the secretive “big event” turned out to be the opening ceremony of a new skyscraper-lined street in Pyongyang, but speculation continues that the North has scheduled more “events” for the weekend.
On Thursday, a North Korean peace institute affiliated with country’s Foreign Ministry blamed the US for escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, saying that any strike from Washington would prompt a “merciless retaliatory strike.”
In the statement, a spokesman from the institute said that US deployment of nuclear assets could very well spark a nuclear conflict. A US carrier strike group led by the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson was recently redirected to the peninsula, as Pyongyang continues its nuclear weapons development program and its regime of threats.
This US show of force takes place only shortly after US President Donald Trump ordered a controversial strike of 59 Tomahawk missiles against Syria’s Sha’irat air base, in a move that North Korea said justified their nuclear activities.
Coming behind the Vinson group is the USS Dewey and the USS Sterett, a couple of Navy destroyers that just arrived in Hawaii and will soon be headed to the Asia-Pacific region. Meanwhile, recent satellite images analyzed by North Korean watchdog 38 North indicate that a sixth North Korean nuclear test is on the horizon.
According to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, the North Korean statement said, “By relentlessly bringing in a number of strategic nuclear assets to the Korean Peninsula, the US is gravely threatening the peace and safety, and driving the situation to the brink of a nuclear war.” Regarding the strike in Syria, they said “the US. is carrying out military strikes and menacing acts against a sovereign state while calling for peace through strength.”
The institute also said that it would be “silly” to entertain any “dream” of defeating them through working with other countries, in what appears to be a reference to Washington pressuring China to take a more aggressive stance against the North’s provocations.
Trump recently met with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the “Southern White House,” his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. In an interview with the Financial Times not long before his meeting with Xi, Trump said, “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will. That is all I am telling you.”
His tone changed after Xi explained Beijing’s relationship with the North, leading Trump to realize, “it’s not so easy.”
Trump also conducted a complete about-face from frequent comments he had made about Beijing being the “grand champion” of manipulating currency, saying after the meeting, “They’re not currency manipulators.”
On Thursday, amid speculation that North Korea’s next nuclear test will take place any day now, Trump remarked that Pyongyang is a “problem” that “will be taken care of.”
Despite Washington’s saber-rattling, China has suggested that diplomatic tactics could still be used to solve the North Korean issue. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Beijing on Thursday, “Military force cannot resolve the issue … Amid challenge there is opportunity. Amid tensions we will also find a kind of opportunity to return to talks.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping has told US President Donald Trump to resolve ongoing tensions with North Korea peacefully.
According to China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, Xi and Trump discussed the situation on the Korean Peninsula in a phone call initiated by the US president on Wednesday.
“China insists on realizing the denuclearization of the peninsula… and is willing to maintain communication and coordination with the American side over the issue on the peninsula,” Xi told Trump during the conversation.
The White House has not released details on the phone conversation.
Last week, the Chinese and American leaders met in the United States, where Trump reportedly called on China to increase pressure on Pyongyang.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Trump said that if China refused to help, “we will solve the problem without them!”
The US has dispatched a strike group, including an aircraft carrier, to the Korean Peninsula amid rising tensions with North Korea. The Carl Vinson strike group also comprises two destroyers and submarines.
North Korea’s rapidly developing missile and military nuclear programs have unnerved Washington. The presence of US forces in the region and repeated threats of military action by Washington have on the other hand angered the North.
Meanwhile, an article on the Chinese Global Times newspaper warned Pyongyang in an editorial to “hit the brakes for peace.” It called on the North to halt any plans for nuclear and missile activities “for its own security.”
“Pyongyang can continue its tough stance; however, for its own security, it should at least halt provocative nuclear and missile activities. Pyongyang should avoid making mistakes at this time,” the article read.
Angered by the deployment of the US strike group, North Korea has warned to attack US mainland with an atomic bomb. Trump has said Pyongyang “is looking for trouble.”