Posts Tagged ‘North Korea’

North Korea is ready to launch a “preemptive nuclear strike” at the United States and the South at the slightest sign of provocation, the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) warned Monday.

 Pyongyang’s routine threat is timed to the start of the annual military exercise, codenamed Ulchi Freedom Guardian, by US and South Korean troops. It brings together tens of thousands of soldiers for two weeks’ drills that simulate a full-scale invasion by North Korea.

“The nuclear warmongers should bear in mind that if they show the slightest sign of aggression on the inviolable land, seas and air where the sovereignty of the DPRK is exercised, it would turn the stronghold of provocation into a heap of ashes through Korean-style preemptive nuclear strike,” the KPA said a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.

The North Korean military warned Seoul that “the situation on the Korean peninsula is so tense that a nuclear war may break out any moment,” and vowed to “hold their bayonets more tightly.”

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Moving forward with its controversial plans to install the THAAD missile system in South Korea, the United States has reiterated assurances that it is not meant as a threat to Beijing.

In recent months, North Korea has carried out a series of nuclear missile tests. In January, the isolated nation conducted its fourth nuclear test and now claims to be in possession of an atomic weapon. This was followed by a satellite launch and a series of ballistic missile tests, resulting in harsh new sanctions implemented by the United Nations.

The United States and South Korea have cited these events as justification for installing a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) unit on the peninsula. While this has been criticized as a provocation by both China and Russia, the US maintains the system is purely defensive.

On Tuesday, Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the US Army, reiterated this claim.

“[THAAD] is a defensive measure to protect South Koreans and Americans from the North Korean ballistic missile threat and is not a threat in any way to China,” the Army said in a statement released by the US Embassy in Beijing.

China and Russia have both issued warnings that the THAAD system will not only escalate tensions on the peninsula, but also puts their own national security at risk.

“Such actions by the US and South Korea do not correspond to their stated goals and threaten to deal serious damage to the strategic security of neighboring countries, including China and Russia, and worsen the situation in the country,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement last month.

Speaking to Sputnik, military expert Vladimir Yevseyev suggested that Beijing and Moscow may be forced to deploy their own joint missile defense system.

“China has radar stations that can be deployed as an early warning system for any missile attack. Russia, of course, also has such stations of various types. Among the latest radar early warning systems is the Voronezh-M and Voronezh-DM,” Yevseyev said.

“As the next step, it may be possible to conduct joint exercises in the Russian Ashuluk range. China, in turn, has combat lasers that are able to influence the objects in the near space.”

On Tuesday, Milley addressed tensions in the South China Sea, where Beijing has expressed frustration with Washington’s ongoing “freedom of navigation” patrols within the 12-mile territorial limit of China’s land reclamation projects.

Milley “reaffirmed the US commitment to adhere to international rules and standards and encouraged the Chinese to do the same as a way to reduce regional tensions,” the statement reads, adding that the US wants to keep communication channels with China open to “reduce the risk of crisis or miscalculation and candidly address differences.”

A highly-contested region through which roughly $5 trillion in trade passes annually, most of the South China Sea is claimed by China, though there are overlapping claims by Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines.

The United States has no territorial claims in the region.

“Isolationists must not prevail in this new debate over foreign policy,” warns Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “The consequences of a lasting American retreat from the world would be dire.”

To make his case against the “Isolationist Temptation,” Haass creates a caricature, a cartoon, of America First patriots, then thunders that we cannot become “a giant gated community.”

Understandably, Haass is upset. For the CFR has lost the country.

Why? It colluded in the blunders that have bled and near bankrupted America and that cost this country its unrivaled global preeminence at the end of the Cold War.

 No, it was not “isolationists” who failed America. None came near to power. The guilty parties are the CFR crowd and their neocon collaborators, and liberal interventionists who set off to play empire after the Cold War and create a New World Order with themselves as Masters of the Universe.

Consider just a few of the decisions taken in those years that most Americans wish we could take back.

After the Soviet Union withdrew the Red Army from Europe and split into 15 nations, and Russia held out its hand to us, we slapped it away and rolled NATO right up onto her front porch.

Enraged Russians turned to a man who would restore respect for their country. Did we think they would just sit there and take it?

How did bringing Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia into NATO make America stronger, safer and more secure? For it has surely moved us closer to a military clash with a nuclear power.

In 2014, with John McCain and U.S. diplomats cheering them on, mobs in Independence Square overthrew a pro-Russian government in Kiev that had been democratically elected and installed a pro-NATO regime.

Putin’s response: Secure Russia’s naval base at Sevastopol by retaking Crimea, and support pro-Russian Ukrainians in Luhansk and Donetsk who preferred secession to submission to U.S. puppets.

Fortunately, our interventionists failed to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. Had they succeeded, we almost surely would have been in a shooting war with Russia by now.

Would that have made us stronger, safer, more secure?

After the attack on 9/11, George W. Bush, with the nation and world behind him, took us into Afghanistan to eradicate the nest of al-Qaida killers.

After having annihilated some and scattered the rest, however, Bush decided to stick around and convert this wild land of Pashtuns, Hazaras, Tajiks and Uzbeks into another Iowa.

Fifteen years later, we are still there.

And the day we leave, the Taliban will return, undo all we have done, and butcher those who cooperated with the Americans.

If we had to do it over, would we have sent a U.S. army and civilian corps to make Afghanistan look more like us?

Bush then invaded Iraq, overthrew Saddam, purged the Baath Party, and disbanded the Iraqi army. Result: A ruined, sundered nation with a pro-Iranian regime in Baghdad, ISIS occupying Mosul, Kurds seceding, and endless U.S. involvement in this second-longest of American wars.

Most Americans now believe Iraq was a bloody trillion-dollar mistake, the consequences of which will be with us for decades.

With a rebel uprising against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, the U.S. aided the rebels. Now, 400,000 Syrians are dead, half the country is uprooted, millions are in exile, and the Damascus regime, backed by Russia, Iran and Hezbollah, is holding on after five years.

Meanwhile, we cannot even decide whether we want Assad to survive or fall, since we do not know who rises when he falls.

Anyone still think it was a good idea to plunge into Syria in support of the rebels? Anyone still think it was a good idea to back Saudi Arabia in its war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, which has decimated that country and threatens the survival of millions?

Anyone still think it was a good idea to attack Libya and take down Moammar Gadhafi, now that ISIS and other Islamists and rival regimes are fighting over the carcass of that tormented land?

“The Middle East is arguably the most salient example of what happens when the U.S. pulls back,” writes Haass.

To the CFR, the problem is not that we plunged headlong into this maelstrom of tyranny, tribalism and terrorism, but that we have tried to extricate ourselves.

Hints that America might leave the Middle East, says Haass, have “contributed greatly to instability in the region.”

So, must we stay indefinitely?

 To the CFR, America’s role in the world is to corral Russia, defend Europe, contain China, isolate Iran, deter North Korea, and battle al-Qaida and ISIS wherever they may be, bleeding our country’s military.

Nor is that all. We are also to convert Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan into pro-Western preferably democratic countries, and embrace “free trade,” accepting the imported merchandise of all mankind, even if that means endless $800 billion trade deficits, bleeding our country’s economy.

Otherwise, you are just an isolationist.

The United States’ inclusion of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on its list of sanctioned individuals is a step too far, according to Pyongyang’s top diplomat.

Earlier this month, the Obama Administration implemented new sanctions against more than a dozen North Korean individuals and entities. Among those sanctioned individuals was the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

On Thursday, Han Song Ryol, director-general of the US affairs department at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, warned that Washington’s actions could have grave consequences.

“The Obama Administration went so far to have the impudence to challenge the supreme dignity of the DPRK in order to get rid of its unfavorable position during the political and military showdown with the DPRK,” Han said.

“The United States has crossed the red line in our showdown. We regard this thrice-cursed crime as a declaration of war.”

Sanctions on individuals were implemented in addition to penalties placed on the North by the UN Security Council in the wake of Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Han also warned the US and South Korea not to follow through with its upcoming annual military exercises, calling the drills an escalation, after US ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert’s recent flight aboard a US F-16 in the region.

“We regard that as the act of a villain, who is a crazy person. All these facts show that the United States is intentionally aggravating the tensions in the Korean Peninsula,” Han said.

“Nobody can predict what kind of influence this kind of vicious confrontation between the DPRK and the United States will have upon the situation on the Korean Peninsula. By doing these kinds of vicious and hostile acts toward the DPRK, the US has already declared war against the DPRK.

“So it is our self-defensive right and justifiable action to respond in a very hard way.”

In response, Katina Adams, a US State Department spokeswoman for East Asia and the Pacific, stressed that Washington continues to call on Pyongyang, “to refrain from actions and rhetoric that further destabilize the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its commitments and international obligations.”

She also defended the war games taking place next month, maintaining that they are meant as a show of solidarity.

“These exercises are a clear demonstration of the US commitment to the alliance,” Adams said.

The US also plans to install a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system on the peninsula by the end of 2017. This has led to outrage from not only the North, but also China and Russia, who view the battery as a threat to national security.

While the US maintains the missile system is necessary to defend Seoul against hypothetical attacks from the North, Han argued that recent nuclear and ballistic missile tests are only necessary in light of US aggression.

“In the view of cause and effect, it is the US that provided the cause of our possession of nuclear forces,” he said.

“We never hide the fact, and we are very proud of the fact, that we have very strong nuclear deterrent forces not only to cope with the United States’ nuclear blackmail but also to neutralize the nuclear blackmail of the United States.

The United States and South Korea are obsessed with containing North Korea, but Washington’s aggressive expansion of anti-missile systems in the Asian peninsula, as well as in the Baltics, leave Moscow and Beijing reticent to trust America’s leadership.

The United States and South Korea announced plans in July to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, ostensibly to counter threats from North Korea, but the move received immediate condemnation from Russia and China, who view the installation as a veiled attempt by Washington to undermine Beijing and Moscow’s mutual nuclear deterrent.

Moscow immediately joined Beijing in warning the United States that the deployment would have “irreparable consequences.”

“This missile defense system tends to undermine stability in the region. We hope that our partners will avoid any actions that could have irreparable consequences,” cautioned the Russian foreign ministry in the wake of Washington and Seoul’s announcement.

The renewed tensions between the US and South Korea on one side and Russia and China on the other places Washington at a most inconvenient impasse as Pyongyang’s threats escalate. North Korea’s foreign ministry recently said that the Obama Administration’s move to place sanctions directly against “Supreme Leader” Kim Jong-Un was “the worst hostility and an open declaration of war against the DPRK,” according to North Korea’s KCNA News.

“Now that the US declared a war on the DPRK, any problem arising in the relations with the US will be handled under the latter’s wartime law,” warned North Korea.

While Washington attempts to control Pyongyang, Russia and China are both more concerned with the anti-missile systems deployed by the United States, not only in South Korea, but also in Romania and Poland.

On Tuesday, Loud & Clear’s Brian Becker sat down with Michael Elleman, a former UN weapons inspector and consulting senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington DC, to discuss the technical capabilities of the THAAD anti-missile system and to examine Russia and China’s objections to its deployment.

What is THAAD? Why is South Korea allowing its deployment?

“The THAAD system consists of a very powerful radar, interceptors, a battle management system, and power and cooling units to allow it to operate. It intercepts incoming ballistic missiles above the atmosphere generally, so it offers a wide area of coverage,” said Elleman. “You can cover 1/2 to 2/3 of South Korea using this single battery of the THAAD system.”

“A decision was made in Seoul a couple of weeks ago to accept the American offer to deploy THAAD,” said Elleman. “It will probably take a year or two to bring it up to operational status because there are a couple of steps that need to be taken including training a crew to operate it and also building this particular system and shipping it to Korea to position it, so I don’t expect it to be operational for at least 18 months.”

What are China and Russia’s concerns about the THAAD system?

China’s foreign minister said of the deployment of THAAD that the recent move by South Korea harms mutual trust between the two countries. Elleman said that Moscow and Beijing’s concerns is not based on the system itself, but rather that it sets a disturbing precedent against maintaining mutual deterrence.

“I think both China and Russia fear a large expansion of American anti-missile capability. The THAAD deployed in South Korea does not pose a direct operational threat to the mainland of China,” said Elleman. “It can do some detection with a powerful radar, but it is minimal and it does not enhance America’s national missile defense capabilities, except for maybe at the very margins.”

“The objections right now are political and diplomatic. They are worried about what America may do in the future, working with South Korea and Japan. They are worried about this setting a precedent.”

“This is the same set of objections Russia had about NATO introducing missile defense into Romania before they introduced it into Poland,” said Elleman. “It was not a direct threat, but if it is enlarged and enhanced over time, it may well pose a threat.”