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US rejects Russo-Chinese proposal to suspend drills in South Korea

RT | July 6, 2017

The US rejects a proposal by Russia and China to suspend joint drills with South Korea in exchange for North Korea freezing its nuclear weapons programs, the State Department said, adding that Washington does not see the activities as equivalent.

US drills with South Korea are not the same as North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters Thursday.

“These are all things that have taken place since the 1950s. So that wouldn’t change,” Nauert said, describing the drills as lawful and longstanding.

“We do these kinds of exercises and have relationships like this all over the globe. If China and Russia decide to come out against that, that is not going to change our position,” she added.

Moscow and Beijing have called on Washington and Seoul to freeze large-scale military exercises in an attempt to calm tensions on the Korean peninsula after Pyongyang test-fired a missile it said could reach the US mainland.

The US diplomatic offensive to pressure and isolate North Korea is still in its early stages, according to the State Department spokeswoman.

“We continue to believe that China can do a whole lot more to try to bring additional pressure to North Korea,” Nauert said, adding that China has “unique leverage” with Pyongyang because of the “strong trade relationship” between two countries.

One of the measures the US has proposed to other countries is to drastically scale back the number of North Korean guest-workers, Nauert said.

She also referenced last week’s decision by the US Treasury Department to sanction a Chinese bank that did business with Pyongyang, although she declined to say whether more such sanctions were in the works.

July 6, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

US ‘Can’t Get Facts Straight’ in Threats to Sanction China, Russia Over N. Korea

Sputnik – 06.07.2017

US officials say China has betrayed Washington in efforts to contain North Korea, citing a nearly 40% growth in trade between the two Asian countries. Chinese and Russian observers say the US doesn’t have its facts straight, and that Washington must work with, rather than ignore, Russian and Chinese initiatives on ensuring peace in the peninsula.

US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley has warned that Washington might use its “considerable military forces” against North Korea if necessary, and called on Russia and China to cut trade ties with the Asian country.

Speaking at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Wednesday, a day after North Korea carried out its first test of its new intercontinental ballistic missile, the US ambassador accused Russia and China of failing to fully implement UN-mandated sanctions, and warned that the countries wouldn’t be able to maintain their trade arrangements with the US if the trade with Pyongyang didn’t stop.

Russia and China used the emergency meeting to present their own joint initiative aimed at reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, and urged Washington and Seoul to immediately suspend and abolish the deployment of THAAD missile defense on South Korean soil. The two countries also stressed that the US’s apparent willingness to consider the use of military force to stop North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs was “unacceptable.”

At the meeting, Haley proposed tightening the sanctions regime against Pyongyang, adding that the US would “go our own path” if the Security Council didn’t approve the proposal. Russian officials responded by saying that a tightening of sanctions would only “lead to a dead end” in attempts to arrange a diplomatic and political settlement to the crisis. Chinese UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi called on all parties to “exercise restraint, avoid provocative actions and belligerent rhetoric, demonstrate the will for unconditional dialogue and work actively together to defuse the tension.

In addition to threats of unilateral action, including more sanctions, US officials have also warned that Washington might sanction Chinese companies, including banks, which continue to do business with North Korea.

At Wednesday’s Security Council meeting, Haley accused China of failing to enforce sanctions, noting that the country accounted for 90% of North Korea’s total trade volume, and that trade has gone up. The ambassador stressed that the Trump administration would continue to work with China and other countries on the North Korean problem but would not repeat the “inadequate approaches of the past.”

Also Wednesday, President Donald Trump tweeted that trade between China and North Korea had grown “by almost 40%” in the first quarter of 2017. “So much for China working with us – but we had to give it a try!” he wrote.

Guo Yanjun, deputy director of Center for Asian Studies at the Chinese Diplomatic Academy, said that the US was deliberately distorting the facts on Chinese-North Korean trade statistics, and their relation to UN sanctions resolutions.

“Such so-called warnings are not based on objective data,” the expert told Sputnik.

“It is common knowledge that for the sake of implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2321 on sanctions against North Korea, China approved and strictly enforces the list of items prohibited under the resolution from start to finish,” Guo added.

“I suppose that such warnings against Beijing could be based on the fact that Washington has paid attention only to the 37.4 overall increase in trade between China and the DPRK in the first quarter of this year. At the same time, Washington should have seen that during this same period, China’s imports of coal amounted to 267.8 million tons, a drop of 51.6% compare to the same period last year,” the expert noted.

China, Guo stressed, “strictly and unfailingly implements the trade embargo against Pyongyang, but it is necessary to take into account the economic situation in the country and the living conditions of North Korea’s population. China’s trade embargo does not affect bilateral trade which serves the spheres of vital activity of the population. Doing otherwise would lead North Korea to face a humanitarian crisis. This is a threat to China as well, and one that would be difficult to avoid.”

Accordingly, the analyst noted, “on the one hand, we strictly implement the resolutions of the UN Security Council; on the other, we see the warnings and accusations from the US to be unreasonable. In this regard, I would like to stress once again that we should not confuse facts with speculation.”

Commenting on the fact that the US and its allies have ignored the Chinese and Russian proposals – including regarding North Korea’s economic strangulation and the THAAD deployment, Russian military observer Vladimir Evseev told Sputnik that Washington was doing so because these ideas do not fit its own scenario on how to respond to the North Korean nuclear and missile threat.

It’s “perfectly clear,” the expert noted, that what the US was doing now was “only an imitation” of defense against North Korean missiles via the THAAD missile defense system. THAAD, he stressed, is ineffective, and cannot realistically defend against the group launch of North Korean missiles. Furthermore, he noted, Tuesday’s test brings Pyongyang closer to being able to strike Hawaii.

“In these conditions, the US might decide on carrying out a strike to disarm North Korea. Pyongyang’s response to such a decision would not be a nuclear strike against South Korea, but the deployment of special forces troops on South Korean territory. The strength of this well-trained force is at least 50,000 troops, and according to some sources 80,000. They will pass through the demilitarized zone; special tunnels have already been created for this purpose. Passing through the DMZ will not present a serious problem for them. After that, they will carry out sabotage activities in South Korean territory, destroying chemical and nuclear industries, as a result of which the possibility of life on the Korean peninsula will be put under question.”

This, Evseev warned, would also “create serious environmental consequences for Russia, Japan and all other nearby states, including China. Such a scenario, unfortunately, is becoming more and more possible. It is absolutely clear that the policy of the Trump administration is not only completely hopeless, but also reckless, because it is factually leading to a war being unleashed on the Korean peninsula.”

“And the fact that the US does not notice the efforts by Russia and China to deescalate the situation in the region factually pushes Moscow and Beijing to joint efforts to prevent the implementation of the US military scenario,” the analyst added.

Following this week’s events, Russia and China have called for an end to the belligerent rhetoric, and for practical steps to implement the join Russian-Chinese plan to address the North Korean missile and nuclear programs. At the same time, both countries have urged Pyongyang to strictly comply with the demands of UN Security Council resolutions.

July 6, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

China warns against escalation of tensions over North Korea

Press TV – July 6, 2017

China has warned against any rhetoric and action that could further escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula, two days after Pyongyang test-fired its first ever intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

“We also call on relevant parties to stay calm, exercise restraint, refrain from words and deeds that may heighten tensions, and jointly make effort for the easing of tensions,” said China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang in a press conference on Thursday.

North Korea announced on Tuesday that it had successfully tested the ICBM, with the North’s leader Kim Jong-un calling it a gift to the United States on July 4, America’s Independence Day.

Shuang’s comments came after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson strongly condemned the launch and described it as a new escalation of the “threat” to Washington, its allies, the region, and the whole world.

On Wednesday, US Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Nikki Haley also told the UN Security Council that her country was prepared to exert force if needed to deal with the perceived threat posed by North Korea and singled out China as key to any diplomatic solution.

Meanwhile, Russia accused the US of attempting to negatively affect Moscow’s relations with Pyongyang by leveling false allegations about the purported abuse of North Korean migrant workers in the Russian Federation.

“These allegations are unfounded. They fabricate and publish this nonsense… and then we stand and feel like justifying ourselves after this fake news,” said Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, in a press conference in the Russian capital.

She added that North Korean migrant laborers work in Russia according to an entirely legal 2007 intergovernmental agreement. She also said that the agreement was not in violation of any UN Security Council resolutions regarding Pyongyang.

Unsettled by North Korean missile and nuclear programs, the US has adopted a war-like posture against Pyongyang. The US recently deployed an advanced missile system on South Korean soil to counter potential threats from the North, angering Pyongyang.

July 6, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Military Action Should Be Excluded as Response to N. Korea – Russian Envoy to UN

Sputnik – 05.07.2017

Military action should not be an option considered in possible responses to North Korea’s recent launch of an ICBM and its continued work on a nuclear program, Russia’s Deputy Envoy to the United Nations Vladimir Safronkov said during a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday.

“The possibility of taking military measures to resolve the problems of the Korean peninsula should be excluded,” Safronkov stated.

He also said any attempt to economically strangle North Korea in response to its missile test would be unacceptable.

“Attempts to economically strangle North Korea are equally unacceptable, as millions of people are in humanitarian need,” Safronkov said, after warning the Security Council countries against pursuing any military option.

Instead, the situation around the recent missile launch by North Korea requires close examination, he argued.

“The situation requires a thorough investigation and clarification,” Safronkov said.

He acknowledged that Pyongyang’s most recent missile launch is unacceptable and violated the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

“We find this action from the DPRK to be inadmissible and to be running counter to relevant Security Council resolutions,” Safronkov said. “Russia and China have urged the DPRK to firmly comply with the provisions of set resolutions. We share the concern regarding the evolving situation in the Korean peninsula and escalation of military and political tensions on the peninsula.”

July 5, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , | 9 Comments

‘US should end Korean War, sign a peace treaty with North Korea’

RT | July 5, 2017

The most sensible path, at this point, is for the US to end the Korean War, sign a peace treaty with North Korea, and withdraw its troops from the Korean peninsula, Hyun Lee, a member of the National Campaign to End the Korean War, told RT.

South Korean and US forces fired missiles into the Sea of Japan in a display of resolve toward North Korea as a part of a joint ballistic missile exercise between Washington and Seoul.

According to officials, the exercise used missiles that can be “easily deployed”.

It all came in response to North Korea’s latest missile test on Tuesday, which the Pentagon said was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

RT: North Korea is clearly aware the US and South Korea possess a wide range of missiles. Was this show of force really necessary?

Hyun Lee: North Korea has been saying from the beginning of this year, from the beginning of the Trump administration, that it will test launch an intercontinental ballistic missile and it has always said it is a form of deterrence against US threats against North Korea. The US and South Korea conduct annual military exercises, including the collapse of the North Korean regime and the simulation of the decapitation of the North Korean leadership. North Korea has always said these are threats to its sovereignty and that is why it is developing an ICBM as a form of deterrence.

RT: China and Russia have been calling on the international community to try and talk to North Korea to avoid provocation. Why did the US and South Korea decide to stage these exercises anyway?

HL: I think what the US and South Korea are doing is basically flexing their muscles to show ‘We are not afraid of North Korea. We also have big bad weapons.’ But what they are doing is answering fire with fire in a region that is a powder keg. We know that the world’s greatest military powers face off in this region: that is the US, China, Japan, South Korea. Former US army generals have warned that even the slightest miscalculation on the Korean peninsula can trigger a conflict that basically mires the entire region in a protracted war that could have catastrophic consequences not only for the region but also for the global economy. And that is not in anyone’s interest.

RT: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said North Korea launching an intercontinental ballistic missile is a new escalation of the threat against the US. Is Pyongyang’s new launch a game changer?

HL: Yes, but not because it will attack the US; Washington doesn’t truly believe that. But more because this changes the US strategic calculus in the region. North Korea now has the capacity to target the heart of the US Pacific Command, which is located in Hawaii, as well as the West Coast of the US continent. This means US policy of basically intimidating countries through military might and collapsing uncooperative regimes as it has done in the Middle East for decades: this is not going to work vis-à-vis North Korea.
And if this encourages other countries around the world to follow the example of North Korea, it threatens the nuclear non-proliferation regime, which is essentially intended to ensure that only the prominent five countries of the UN Security Council, and its allies, like Israel, can have nuclear weapons and no one else. North Korea is obviously not a party to the NPT; it is not a US ally but now appears to have the capability to threaten a nuclear attack on the US. This is why this missile test is a big deal and it makes Washington very nervous. If the US wants North Korea to stop, then the path is very clear – it has to stop its provocations and its military exercises and then resolve the conflict fundamentally by signing a peace treaty to end the ongoing state of war between the US and North Korea.

RT: Is there an end to this vicious circle where opposite sides just fire missiles trying to up the ante on each other?

HL: I think there is a clear path: North Korea, we should note, has repeatedly offered to freeze its own nuclear and missile program in exchange for a freeze of US provocation, including the very provocative military exercises. I think the most sensible path at this point is for the US to end the Korean War, sign a peace treaty with North Korea, finally withdraw its troops from the Korean peninsula. That is the only way to put the nuclear crisis to rest. Washington knows that this is the answer. The only thing that is standing in the way is, not surprisingly, the interest of the military-industrial complex, which feeds off of perpetual war.

July 5, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

US and South Korea launch missiles in defiance of Russia and China

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | July 4, 2017

Hours after Russia and China both stated that it is the objective of both countries to freeze the North Korean nuclear programme and also to freeze joint military drills between South Korea and the United States, the United States and South Korea did the complete opposite of the wishes of two of the three world super-powers and the only countries which neighbour the Korean peninsula.

The US and South Korea have just launched several surface-to-air missiles from South Korean territory which landed in international waters.

US force in Korea issued the following statement about the launches,

“Eighth US Army and Republic of Korea (ROK) military personnel conducted a combined event exercising assets countering North Korea’s destabilising and unlawful actions on July 4.

This exercise utilised the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) and the Republic of Korea Hyunmoo Missile II, which fired missiles into territorial waters of South Korea along the East Coast”.

The move by the US and South Korea could put a strain on Donald Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin later this week. While the show of force by the US and South Korea ultimately will not change the political dynamic on the Korean Peninsula, it does demonstrate a grave insult to both Russia and China.

July 4, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

NORTH KOREA’S FAST TRACK MISSILE DEVELOPMENT: How Far It’s Come and Why it Has the U.S. on Edge

By Gregory Elich | Zoom In Korea | June 29, 2017

Since President Trump took office, North Korea has conducted a flurry of missile tests, triggering a wave of condemnation by U.S. media and political figures. The reaction contains more than an element of fear-mongering, and it is sometimes implied that once North Korea has an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), it is liable to launch an unprovoked attack on the U.S. mainland.

What tends to be lacking in such reports is any sense of sober reflection, and much confusion is sown concerning the actual state of North Korea’s program. This article takes a closer look at North Korea’s recent missile launches and argues that they pose a threat–not to the safety of the U.S. population, as the corporate media claim, but to the United States’ strategic calculus in the region.

Pukguksong-2

First tested on February 11, the Pukguksong-2 is a medium-range ballistic missile based on the design of the submarine-launched Pukguksong -1. The main advantage the Pukguksong-2 has over North Korea’s other land-based ballistic missiles is that it relies on solid fuel. For that reason, the Pukguksong-2 is far more mobile and survivable than North Korea’s other medium-range missiles that outperform it. The other missiles are liquid-fueled and therefore hampered by the need to be accompanied by tanker trucks while on the move. Their necessity of a lengthy fueling process before launch makes them vulnerable to attack.

Flying on a nearly vertical trajectory, the Pukguksong-2 travelled 500 kilometers and soared to an apogee of 550 kilometers. That translates into a range of 1,200 kilometers, were the missile to be fired at a regular trajectory using the same payload.

One of the reasons for the unusually steep trajectory of the test was so that technicians would be within technical monitoring range to gather data on performance.  The unusual flight path may have also been undertaken, as North Korea indicates, to avoid the political sensitivities of overflying Japan.

The missile was again tested on May 21 and followed a trajectory similar to the first. Despite North Korea’s claim that the missile should go into mass production, more testing is needed to solidify reliability and accuracy. It does not appear that the reentry vehicle was tested on this occasion, as it lacked the fins or thrusters necessary for terminal guidance capability. According to missile expert John Schilling, it “will likely take at least five years” for the Pukguksong-2 to become “the mainstay of North Korea’s strategic missile force, and even then, only in a first-generation version with a non-maneuvering warhead.”

The differing performance of the two tests indicates that there are unmet challenges in the engine manufacturing process so that it can produce consistent results.

Hwasong-12

After three failed launches in April of this year, the intermediate-range Hwasong-12 finally achieved success on May 14. Unlike the Pukguksong-2, this missile is liquid fueled.  By all accounts, the performance of the Hwasong-12 demonstrated a significant technological advance over any of North Korea’s other missiles. In the last test, the missile flew at a steep 85-degree angle and achieved a height of 2,111 kilometers. It is calculated that a normal trajectory would give the missile a range of 4,500 kilometers, making it capable of striking the U.S. strategic bomber force in Guam.

More importantly, this marked North Korea’s first successful test of a reentry vehicle. A nuclear warhead must be able to withstand the enormous heat generated from reentering the earth’s atmosphere for it to reach its target. Without that capability, North Korea would not have an effective nuclear deterrent. South Korean monitoring equipment picked up data communications between the descending warhead and North Korean ground control, confirming the success of the test.

Anti-Ship Missiles

On May 29, North Korea tested an upgraded version of the Hwasong-7. Among the improvements were fins to improve stability during the boost phase, an engine in the middle section for speed control, and terminal guidance technology to provide greater accuracy.  The missile is said to have a range of 1,000 kilometers and is intended to strike targets at sea.

Little more than a week later, North Korea launched several anti-ship cruise missiles, which demonstrated excellent maneuverability and precision. According to North Korean media, the missiles “accurately detected and hit the floating targets on the East Sea of Korea after making circular flights.”  The flight distance was estimated at 200 kilometers, and like North Korea’s other missiles tested this year, the cruise missiles are newly designed.

The cruise missiles were fired from tracked transport vehicles that are capable of travelling across rough terrain, thus allowing them to go where they would be harder to spot and destroy.

The ICBM in North Korea’s Future

Western media, long on speculation and short on information, would have us believe that North Korea is on the verge of testing an ICBM any day now. There are technological challenges involved in developing an ICBM that will be much harder for North Korea to overcome than was the case with the Hwasong-12.

The longer the range of a ballistic missile, the higher the amount of total heat a reentry vehicle must be able to withstand. The rate of heat associated with range – and therefore speed – increases so rapidly that a successful test of an intermediate ballistic missile’s reentry vehicle says nothing about how it would fare in an ICBM. A reentry vehicle launched by an ICBM must absorb far more punishment than is the case with shorter-range missiles. It took the United States several years to master the challenge of designing a survivable ICBM reentry vehicle.

A nuclear warhead must be miniaturized to reduce the weight enough for it to be deliverable in a missile. As military technology specialists Markus Schiller and Theodore Postol point out, “It is unlikely that North Korea now has a nuclear weapon that weighs as little as 1000 kg. It is also unlikely that such a first-generation nuclear weapon would be capable of surviving the unavoidable 50 G deceleration during warhead reentry from a range of nearly 10,000 kilometers.”  

It is thought that the Hwasong-12 could provide the basis for developing an ICBM.  However, the missile would need to be redesigned to add another stage to do so. Recently, North Korea ground tested a rocket engine, which U.S. officials speculated could be intended to power the last stage of an ICBM. Based only on satellite imagery, that conclusion is nothing more than supposition. Regardless of the nature of the engine test, a significant amount of work remains to be done to retool an existing missile as an ICBM and to perfect associated technology, such as the guidance system and reentry vehicle.

Moreover, before a missile can be considered operationally ready, it must undergo multiple tests to ensure that it meets performance and reliability standards. The Hwasong-12 was only successful in one of its four tests.

Threats and Provocations

It is an article of faith in the West that each missile test by North Korea is a “threat” or “provocation.” But is it true? Over the last several months, India tested its Agni-2 medium-range and Agni-3 intermediate-range ballistic missiles, as well as an Agni-5 ICBM, producing only yawns of indifference. Pakistan fired an Ababeel medium-range ballistic missile, capable of delivering multiple warheads, while China and Russia both tested ICBMs. The United States, as it was roundly condemning North Korea for its tests, launched Minuteman 3 and Trident missiles. None of these tests by nuclear powers were deemed provocative. Nor was note taken of the hypocrisy of the Trump administration in expressing outrage over North Korea doing what it was doing.

Objectively speaking, there is no difference between North Korea’s missile tests and the others, although it should be pointed out that the U.S. arsenal of nearly 7,000 nuclear warheads dwarfs that of North Korea.

As the North Korean foreign ministry observed, “Not a single article or provision in the UN Charter and other international laws stipulates that nuclear test or ballistic rocket launch poses a threat to international peace and security.” The political and economic might of the United States gave it the means to prod other members of the UN Security Council to agree to its demand to impose sanctions on North Korea. As a result, North Korea is the only nation singled out by UN sanctions that forbid it from testing the same types of missiles as other countries are free to do. There is no legal basis for this double standard, which is primarily a product of U.S. influence.

From the North Korean perspective, the large-scale military exercises that the United States regularly conducts in tandem with South Korea are threatening. These drills rehearse the invasion of North Korea, including decapitation operations to kill North Korean leaders. Recently, American B-1B bomber planes executed a series of flights over South Korea, practicing the carpet bombing of North Korea. Originally designed to deliver nuclear weapons, the B-1B underwent conversion to a conventional weapons only role ten years ago. The plane is still a formidable weapon, however, and can carry three times the payload of a B-52.

In the Western mindset, none of these actions can be construed as being “provocative” or a “threat” to North Korea. But it is easy enough to imagine the hysterical reaction if Russia were to conduct joint military exercises in Cuba, practicing the bombing and invasion of the United States, along with the assassination of U.S. political leaders.

Refusal to Recognize North Korea as a Nuclear State

Trump’s policy of “maximum pressure and engagement” is based on the principle that the United States will not recognize North Korea as a nuclear state. But what does this mean? North Korea, as everyone knows, is a nuclear state.

What the U.S. means is that it won’t recognize North Korea’s right to be a nuclear state. Why is this important?

According to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), only the five countries that already had nuclear weapons when the treaty went into force in 1970—the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China—are internationally recognized as nuclear weapon states. The treaty requires them to reduce their nuclear arsenal towards eventual elimination and prohibits all other signatories from possessing nuclear weapons.

Never mind that the five nuclear weapon states are far from achieving their commitment to disarmament and that the United States is spending $1 trillion to modernize its nuclear arsenal. The United States’ primary concern is the second half of the NPT’s stated goal—that no one else besides the five officially-recognized nuclear weapon states should have nuclear weapons. As such, North Korea’s nuclear and missile program, in the U.S.’ view, is an affront to this doctrine and the country should be punished accordingly.

But what about India, Pakistan and Israel—also countries with nuclear weapons that are not parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), you might ask. Does the United States refuse to recognize them as nuclear states?

Therein lies the greatest hypocrisy behind U.S. condemnation of North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests. Because the U.S. has no problem with India, Pakistan and Israel possessing nuclear weapons, it has seen no need to make such a pronouncement.

North Korea’s Accelerating Missile Development: Threat to U.S. Hegemony

It has not gone unnoticed that the pace of North Korea’s missile testing has accelerated in recent months. When the year began, North Korea found itself in a somewhat vulnerable position, given the Trump administration’s aggressive rhetoric. North Korea had a nuclear weapons program but no tested reentry vehicle–which meant that it had no means of delivery.  The north’s conventional arms are sufficient to inflict heavy damage on South Korea. But in a conflict, harm to U.S. forces would be relatively mild, especially if the U.S. launched a first strike to eliminate much of North Korea’s military capability. The window of opportunity for attacking North Korea would permanently close once it could demonstrate an effective means of delivering a nuclear weapon and the ability to strike U.S. warplanes stationed in Guam and aircraft carriers off the coast of the Korean Peninsula. Thus for North Korea, the race was on.

The North Koreans have taken note of the experience of Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Libya, and arrived at the conclusion that a small nation relying on conventional arms alone has no chance of deterring attack by the United States. North Korea says its nuclear program “is a legitimate and righteous measure for self-defense to protect the sovereignty and the right to existence” of the nation.

That is a conclusion the U.S. is keen to discourage. For the United States, it is a fundamental principle of its foreign policy that it should be able to attack any nation of its choosing, and that no country ought to have the means of defending itself. And therein lies the source of U.S. concern. The reason why stopping North Korea’s nuclear and long-range missile program is a priority for the Trump administration is not because it truly believes North Korea will launch an ICBM at the United States. Rather, it’s that if North Korea succeeds in establishing an effective nuclear deterrent, then this could have serious geopolitical implications for U.S. policy, as other targeted nations may follow North Korea’s example to ensure their survival.

For this reason, the United States has branded North Korea a pariah state and sponsored harsh UN sanctions. North Korea faces a dichotomy between policy objectives. If it does not denuclearize, then it risks succumbing to the economic strangulation imposed by the United States. But if it abandons its nuclear program, it becomes far more vulnerable to military strikes by a hostile U.S. The lesson of Libya’s fate after it abandoned its nuclear weapons program is not forgotten.

The United States declares that it will not engage in talks with North Korea unless it denuclearizes as a precondition while receiving nothing in return. That position shuts down any possibility of diplomacy, and it is hard to visualize any way out of the current impasse as long as Washington clings to that attitude. It is to be hoped that South Korean President Moon Jae-in can persuade the Trump administration to adopt a more flexible approach. The time has come for South Korea to take the lead in finding a peaceful resolution of the nuclear dispute.

Gregory Elich is on the Board of Directors of the Jasenovac Research Institute and the Advisory Board of the Korea Policy Institute. He is a member of the Solidarity Committee for Democracy and Peace in Korea, a columnist for Voice of the People, and one of the co-authors of Killing Democracy: CIA and Pentagon Operations in the Post-Soviet Period, published in the Russian language. He is also a member of the Task Force to Stop THAAD in Korea and Militarism in Asia and the Pacific.

June 30, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

South Korea’s impeached President planned violent regime change for Pyongyang

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | June 26, 2017

A recent report from the Japanese outlet Asahi Shimbun appears to confirm a hypothesis recently published in The Duran that America’s recent fervor over North Korea has a great deal to do with the internal politics of South Korea, more so in many cases than it has to do with events in the DPRK (North Korea).

Impeached former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was known to be an avidly right-wing, anti-North Korean, militant leader. It was under her now disgraced leadership that South Korea agreed to house America’s THAAD missiles, a move that remains deeply unpopular among millions of South Korean citizens.

Now, Asahi Shimbun claims to have obtained documents from South Korea indicating that former President Park Geun-hye signed a document authorizing violent regime change in Pyongyang.

According to the report seen by the Japanese national newspaper, the Park regime was considering attempts at arranging deadly car accidents or train wrecks in order to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Attempts at fomenting a violent coup in North Korea were also considered.

In light of these revelations, it is no wonder that North Korea has taken precautionary measures to defend its sovereignty against these violent threats of illegal regime change from its heavily armed and economically powerful neighbor.

According to the Japanese source, these plans have been taken firmly off the table by President Moon Jae-in, a man who is generally far more peace minded than his deeply militant predecessor.

America’s most bellicose posturing against Pyongyang came in the month prior to the South Korean special Presidential election which saw the peace minded Moon come to power in early May of 2017.

Although America still offers harsh rhetoric on all matters pertaining to North Korea, it was after the election of President Moon that America’s most violent rhetoric seemed to give way to talk of working with international partners including and especially China in order to resolve concerns over North Korea without the threat of military engagement.

These revelations which appear to be credible, demonstrate that Washington’s actions in respect of North Korea have as much to do with the developments in Seoul as they do with developments elsewhere.

READ MORE:

South Korea’s new President may turn to peace

June 26, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Syria, Iran and N. Korea: Will Trump Attempt to Finish the Neocon Hitlist?

By Steven MacMillan – New Eastern Outlook – 16.06.2017

In Donald Trump’s short time in office, he has already shown his propensity to use military force. From dropping the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used on Afghanistan, to launching 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Iraq (oh wait, Syria), there is no doubt that the Trump administration has a prominent militaristic streak. 

But is this just for starters? If Trump stays in power for the duration of his term, is there a major war, or even multiple wars, on the horizon? Judging by the rhetoric and actions already taken by the Trump administration, it will be a miracle if the US does not start a major war in the near future. Coincidentally, the main countries in the sights of the Trump administration just happen to be the three countries that the neoconservatives pinpointed for regime change 17 years ago, but have not yet been dealt with.

1997 marked the birth of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a neoconservative think tank of catastrophic proportions. It was founded by William Kristol, the longtime editor of the Weekly Standard, who also served as the chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle, and Robert Kagan, a former State Department official who is now a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute. A long list of neocons belonged to the group, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz.

PNAC’s stated objectives included the desire to “shape a new century favourable to American principles and interests,” “increase defense spending significantly,” and challenge “regimes hostile to US interests and values.” In September 2000, the PNAC group released a report titled: Rebuilding America’s Defenses – Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.’ The introduction to the report clearly expressed PNAC’s desire to maintain US supremacy in the world:

At present, the United States faces no global rival.  America’s grand strategy should aim to preserve and extend this advantageous position as far into the future as possiblePreserving the desirable strategic situation in which the United States now finds itself requires a globally preeminent military capability both today and in the future.” 

In order to maintain this supremacy, the report called for the Defense Department to be at the forefront of experimenting with transformative technologies, a move that would require a dramatic increase in defense spending.

Curiously, the report – published one year prior to 9/11 – argued that this transformation would likely be a “long one” unless an event on the scale of “Pearl Harbor” occurred:

“To preserve American military preeminence in the coming decades, the Department of Defense must move more aggressively to experiment with new technologies and operational concepts, and seek to exploit the emerging revolution in military affairs… The effects of this military transformation will have profound implications for how wars are fought, what kinds of weapons will dominate the battlefield and, inevitably, which nations enjoy military preeminence…

The Pentagon [however], constrained by limited budgets and pressing current missions, has seen funding for experimentation and transformation crowded out in recent years.  Spending on military research and development has been reduced dramatically over the past decade… Any serious effort at transformation must occur within the larger framework of U.S. national security strategy, military missions and defense budgets… The process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor” (p.50-p.51).

Under the guise of missile capability, the report then pinpointed five countries that the neocons, in conjunction with the CIA, considered “deeply hostile” to the US:

“Ever since the Persian Gulf War of 1991… the value of the ballistic missile has been clear to America’s adversaries. When their missiles are tipped with warheads carrying nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, even weak regional powers have a credible deterrent, regardless of the balance of conventional forces.  That is why, according to the CIA, a number of regimes deeply hostile to America – North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Syria – ‘already have or are developing ballistic missiles’ that could threaten U.S allies and forces abroad. And one, North Korea, is on the verge of deploying missiles that can hit the American homeland.  Such capabilities pose a grave challenge to the American peace and the military power that preserves that peace” (p.51-p.52).

This report was published approximately three years prior to the invasion of Iraq, and approximately 11 years prior to both the war in Libya and the start of the proxy war in Syria. The central point I am getting at here is that the wars we have seen unfold, and the wars to come, are not just short-term actions taken by the administration who happens to be in power at that particular time. They are planned years and sometimes decades prior to the first shot being fired. Regardless of which party the President belongs to – George Bush invaded Iraq with a blue tie on, whilst Barack Obama bombed Libya with a red one on – the same regime-change-agenda continues.

Two Down, Three to Go

Although there were other reports that marked more countries that the neocons considered ‘hostile’ to the US, or more accurately, hostile to US (Western) imperial ambitions, the September 2000 report focused on five countries. With Iraq and Libya already ‘liberated,’ three countries are still on the hitlist: Syria, Iran and North Korea. Coincidentally (or not), these are some of the main countries that the Trump administration is targeting, and we are only a few months into Trump’s reign.

 Syria: Trump has already bombed Syrian government forces – or forces fighting on the side of the Syrian government – on multiple occasions since being elected. After Trump bombed Syria back in April, both Kagan and Kristol praised him, yet demanded more blood. Even though they claimed not to be major supporters of Trump during the campaign, many Bush-era hawks were – including Rumsfeld, the former Defense Secretary. The Trump administration has also admitted sending hundreds of US troops – which includes Marines – into Syria, officially in order to fight against ISIS (through training and advising rebel forces), yet it’s clear the move has as much to do with the Syrian and Iranian governments than anything else.  

Iran: Throughout Trump’s campaign for the White House, he repeatedly criticized both Iran and North Korea. Trump has always been a severe critic of the Iranian nuclear deal, and a loyal supporter of the state of Israel, meaning war with Iran seems more probable that not. In fact, Iran has claimed that Trump and Saudi Arabia are behind the recent terror attacks in Tehran, which ISIS has claimed responsibility for.

During his trip to Saudi Arabia last month, Trump took the opportunity to take another jab at Iran. In February, the US Defence Secretary, James “Mad Dog” Mattis, called Iran the “biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” completely ignoring the role Saudi Arabia plays in exporting terrorism. It appears as though the Trump administration is in the process of deciding which path to Persia it thinks is going to be the most effective.

North Korea: In relation to North Korea, the Trump administration has essentially backed the country into a corner, producing the obvious response from North Korea: an (attempted) show of strength. A country that the US carpet bombed during the Korean war – which included using napalm – it hardly seems likely that North Korea is just going to give in to US threats, considering the resentment many in the country still feel towards America.

This is not a defense of North Korea, but the Trump administration making one provocative statement after another has hardly reduced tensions in the region.  In March, Mattissaid that “reckless” North Korea has “got to be stopped.” The following month, Trump said North Korea is a problem that “will be taken care of.” Although Mattis has acknowledged that a conflict with North Korea would be “catastrophic,” the Trump administration appears to be willing to ratchet up tensions regardless.

In contrast, both Russia and China have emphasised that dialogue and diplomacy trump threats. Speaking in May, the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, said that “we have to stop intimidating North Korea” and “return to dialogue” with them, after affirming that Russia “is against expanding the pool of nuclear powers, including North Korea.” Also in May, the Chinese Foreign Ministry called for the US and North Korea to “stop irritating each other,” and advocated “dialogue and negotiation.”

It also important to note that the North Korean issue is really about a lot more than just North Korea. As Paul Craig Roberts has highlighted, the North Korean ‘crisis’ has everything to do with Russia and China. Similar to how the US used the Iranian ‘threat’ to put anti-ballistic missile systems close to Russia’s borders, the North Korean crisis can be used to deploy anti-ballistic missiles systems next to the eastern borders of Russia and China. In a positive development however, the South Korean government has just announced (at the time of writing anyway) that it will halt the deployment of the US anti-ballistic missile system – known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) – on its territory for potentially up to a year, citing environmental concerns.

If the Trump administration and the neocons are actually reckless enough to try and force regime change in all three countries in the near future, this brings the US into direct confrontation with both Russia and China. And if a hot war between these three nuclear powers erupts, this would mark the end of human civilization as we know it.

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

New North Korea-Russia Sea Route Throws Washington’s Ambitions Into Doubt

Sputnik – 18.05.2017

Moscow has kicked off its first North Korea-Russian ferry service following Washington’s expansion of its sanctions against Pyongyang. On May 18 the DPRK vessel Man Gyong Bong arrived at the free port of Vladivostok. According to RIA Novosti contributor Alexander Khrolenko, this is how Russia responded to US’ unilateral sanctions.

Following US Congress’ endorsement of new sanctions on North Korea’s ships and employees, Russia has established permanent maritime communication between the DPRK’s Rajin port and Vladivostok; according to RIA Novosti contributor Alexander Khrolenko, this is hardly a coincidence.

On May 18, North Korea’s vessel Man Gyong Bong arrived in the Russian port of Vladivostok. While Russia and the DPRK already have a railway connection, the Rajin-Vladivostok route has become the first service between the countries.

“It took about nine hours [for Man Gyong Bong] to cross the sea,” Khrolenko wrote, “It is planned that the ferry will transport Chinese tourists (from Hunchun) to Russia every week, Russian tourists to Rajin and North Korean workers to Vladivostok and back (from May 25).”

“The Man Gyong Bong has three dry cargo holds with a total capacity of 1,500 tons, which will probably not be empty on voyages,” the Russian journalist elaborated, “The ice-free port of Rajin is located in the North-Korean city of Rason which enjoys the status of a special economic zone with free business allowed. The free port of Vladivostok is also a zone of special customs, tax, investment and related regulation.”

Previously, the US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly for expanding sanctions against Pyongyang. The bill bars vessels owned by the DPRK or by countries involved in trade with Pyongyang from operating in American waters or docking at US ports.

In accordance with the legislation, those countries which hire North Korean employees would be subjected to sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Power Act.

Khrolenko remarked that Congress even went so far as to maintain special control over Russia’s Far East ports of Vladivostok, Nakhodka and Vanino, as part of the measures.

Meanwhile, on May 16 US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haily urged other countries either to exert more pressure on North Korea or choose between Washington and Pyongyang.

“You either support North Korea or you support us, you are either with North Korea or not,” Haily said as quoted by Bloomberg.

“The free port of Vladivostok has already responded [to the US sanctions],” Khrolenko pointed out, referring to the ferry service linking North Korea and Russia.

The journalist noted that Russia is complying with the UN Security Council’s Resolution 2270 on restrictions against North Korea inked by President Vladimir Putin in December 2016. However, that doesn’t mean that the US has the right to impose its own police control on sovereign states, he added.

“No country and no international organization have authorized the US to monitor the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions by police or ‘cowboy’ methods,” Khrolenko wrote, adding that the bill supported by the US Congress contradicts the principle of sovereignty and calls into question international economic activity.

The journalist reminded his readers that Washington wants to track ships coming to Russia and other countries including China, Syria, Iran, and inspect cargo transported to certain ports of the DPRK.

He added that special US services can obtain the right to inspect ships and aircraft that have visited North Korea during the last 365 days.

Predictably, Washington’s unilateral initiative prompted criticism from Russian politicians.

Commenting on the issue, Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Federation Council’s Foreign Affairs Committee, said that de jure the bill’s realization means “forced inspection of all vessels” by US warships. Such a scenario amounts to a declaration of war, Kosachev noted.

However, according to Khrolenko, the US congressmen’s plan to maintain control over the countries’ trade is nothing but wishful thinking.

“It is impossible to control the ports and economic activities of independent states from Washington,” the journalist noted, “As for the Far Eastern ports of Russia, the Americans may only conduct remote monitoring [of the region].”

“The US can also obtain information by using space reconnaissance means, remote hacking of the ports databases or agents in the field. Or they can simply inspect any vessel in neutral waters… Everything is possible, but taking into account the total volume of shipping and the capabilities of the Navy of the aforementioned countries [Russia, China, Iran, Syria], such control appears to be too dangerous,” he elaborated.

May 19, 2017 Posted by | Economics, Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

What Western Media Never Tells You about North Korea

By Joe Clifford | Dissident Voice | May 1, 2017

There is a great deal of propaganda and deliberate misinformation about North Korea, which the public should know. While neocons, a cheering corporate media, and Deep State, rush to war with North Korea, information is the ultimate weapon. For example, did you know that North Korea, China, and India, are the only three nations who have committed to a “no nuclear first” policy. They have pledged never to use nuclear weapons “first”, but of course reserve the right to use them if attacked. How many times has the US threatened to use nuclear weapons against North Korea? Do you know that North Korea has repeatedly asked the US to engage in bi-lateral talks, to cool off the ever-escalating tension? The offer was flatly rejected by both Obama and Trump. Can you resolve differences within your family without dialog? No dialogue, no peace. Why won’t the US talk to North Korea?? The neocons, Deep State, and media argument, insist Kim Jong-un is irrational, and therefore you cannot negotiate with him. A look back at recent history illustrates the US and its complicit media demonize anyone we do not like, and the demonizing usually ends up with a war. Manuel Noriega in Panama, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Libya’s Muammar Gadaffi, and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, serve as recent examples. But the demonizing of Kim Jong-un continues as we move towards another war, and once again the public buys into the myth. There are no western reporters allowed in North Korea, and since North Korea is a virtual closed society, one must wonder who knows what Kim Jong-un really is like? On the other hand, some might suggest we have a very irrational leader in this country. This attitude of demonizing is akin to the Taliban’s offer to turn over Osama Bin Laden so many years ago, and the US, then under Bush, flatly rejected the Taliban offer. Sixteen years later we are still at war in Afghanistan. War is the result of failed diplomacy or the absence of diplomacy. Perhaps we did not want diplomacy; perhaps we don’t want diplomacy now.

Do you know North Korea has agreed to suspend its nuclear testing if the US agreed to end the annual war games along the border of North Korea? You may not know the US conducts war games that simulate the overthrow of the North Korean government, and this year there were almost 400,000 soldiers participating. Did you know that?? Do you know the Korean War has never officially ended because there was no formal truce signed? This is one of North Korea demands. A final treaty to end the Korean War was never signed, because if there was a treaty, the US would have no legal basis for the occupation of South Korea with our many military bases. Do you know that in 1993 the US announced it was re-targeting hydrogen bombs from the old USSR to North Korea?

Do you know George Bush called the leader of North Korea a “pygmy”, and said he wanted to “topple his regime”? Do you know Bush also prepared a policy of “preemptive” attack, and referred to North Korea as a member of the “axis of evil”? It was shortly thereafter that North Korea left the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and threw all inspectors out of the country. Neocons, Deep State, and the corporate media, argue North Korea is a threat to the US, and just days ago Trump said they were a “threat to the world”? That is asinine, as Trump’s increase in military spending of 54 billion, is 11 times greater than the entire North Korean military budget. To suggest North Korea is a “threat to the US” or the “world” is either stupidity or an outright lie, and yet a CNN poll shows 37% of the US public believes North Korea is a threat to the US. Who says propaganda isn’t effective? Do you know the recent leader of South Korea was impeached for corruption, and there is a pending election to decide on new leadership? The opposition party wants the US out of South Korea, and wants the THAAD missile system just installed by the US, out.

Theresa May, in Great Britain, shocked many recently, when she announced she would be willing to use nuclear weapons in a “first strike”? Why have we not declared war on Britain, as Theresa May is apparently a bit “irrational”? Experts suggest North Korea has perhaps 8 nuclear weapons, but has no effective delivery system. The US has 7,000.

North Korea has not invaded or attacked any nation since the end of the Korean War, while the US has bombed over 30 countries. How many countries is the US currently bombing?? Can’t answer? Who is the aggressor here? Who has refused to “talk” to North Korea? Who has threatened to use nuclear weapons repeatedly against North Korea?

Why can’t the US simply sit down and agree to bi-lateral talks? Is there a logical reason why this cannot be done? What is there to lose by such talks? This whole policy of antagonizing, instead of talking, is insane! We know its insanity; we don’t know if it is intentional rejection of diplomacy.

May 2, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , | 2 Comments

Trump says he’d be ‘honored’ to meet Kim Jong-un

RT | May 1, 2017

President Donald Trump has said he “would be honored” to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong-un under the right circumstances.

“If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it,” Trump told Bloomberg News Monday. “If it’s under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that.”

“Most political people would never say that,” Trump said. “But I’m telling you under the right circumstances I would meet with him.”

“We have breaking news,” he added, likely referring to the news coverage his comments would garner.

Trump’s surprising statements could spark rumors of a new “bromance” between the president and another world leader. The comments come only a day after Trump also described Jong-un as “a smart cookie,” on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday.

North Korea is seen as one of the US’s geopolitical adversaries. Tensions between the two nations have increased recently, following Trump’s vow to stop North Korea from developing a nuclear weapon and Pyongyang’s recent missile tests.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the United Nations on Friday that the US would only negotiate with Pyongyang if it took steps towards giving up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles and urged nations to cut diplomatic and financial ties.

Tillerson also told NPR that the US was open to holding direct negotiations should North Korea have the right agenda.

North Korea’s missile test on Friday came hours after Tillerson’s statements at the UN.

The US Congress plans to debate new sanctions against Pyongyang this week, targeting its shipping industry.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer addressed the comments at a press briefing Monday, highlighting Trump’s statement that it would be “under the right circumstances.”

“There’s a lot of conditions that I think would have to happen with respect to its behavior, and to show signs of good faith,” Spicer said. “Clearly the conditions are not there right now.”

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment