Posts Tagged ‘Guam’

Nuclear-capable B-52 bombers join B-2s, B-1Bs on Guam amid tensions with North Korea

January 16, 2018

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U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber lands at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam on Tuesday. U.S. AIR FORCE photo



JAN 16, 2018

The U.S. Air Force announced Tuesday that it has deployed six of its powerful B-52 strategic bombers to Guam amid tensions with nuclear-armed North Korea.

The six planes, accompanied by 300 airmen, join three of the air force’s B-2 stealth bombers that were also recently dispatched to the U.S. island territory, home to Andersen Air Force Base, a key American outpost in the Pacific.

The base is also currently hosting several B-1B heavy bombers. While both the B-52 and B-2 are capable of carrying nuclear payloads, the B-1B has been modified to carry conventional ordinance only.

The deployment, conducted “in support of U.S. Pacific Command’s (PACOM) Continuous Bomber Presence mission,” according to a U.S. Pacific Air Forces statement, is likely to raise eyebrows in North Korea, which last year threatened to fire missiles near Guam.

The B-52s were last deployed to the region in July 2016, during which they conducted a variety of joint and bilateral training missions with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Air Self-Defense Force, South Korean Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force.

The move, widely seen as a show of American military muscle, was likely intended to reassure Asian allies nervous amid the North Korean nuclear crisis.

“The B-52Hs return to the Pacific will provide U.S. PACOM and its regional allies and partners with a credible, strategic power projection platform, while bringing years of repeated operational experience,” the U.S. Pacific Air Forces said in its statement.

“This forward deployed presence demonstrates the U.S. continued commitment to allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region,” it added.

It was unclear how long the base, some 3,400 km from North Korea, would play host to all three bombers.

Overflights of the Korean Peninsula by heavy bombers such as the B-52, B-2 and B-1B have incensed Pyongyang. The North sees the flights by what it calls “the air pirates of Guam” as a rehearsal for striking its leadership and has routinely lambasted them as “nuclear bomb-dropping drills.”

In November, the U.S. Pacific Air Forces confirmed to The Japan Times that it had flown two B-52s for a rare joint mission with the ASDF in the skies near North Korea in August.

The North has ramped up its threats to the U.S. and its allies in recent months in both words and deeds — including with successful tests of what the country claimed was a powerful hydrogen bomb and the separate test of an intercontinental ballistic missile believed capable of striking the American mainland.


U.S. deploys three powerful B-2 stealth bombers to Guam amid cooling tensions on Korean Peninsula

January 11, 2018

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JAN 11, 2018

The U.S. Air Force has sent three B-2 nuclear-capable stealth bombers to Andersen Air Force Base on the island territory of Guam amid cooling tensions with North Korea.

Around 200 airmen from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri were recently deployed to Andersen in support of the U.S. Pacific Command’s Bomber Assurance and Deterrence mission.

“During this short-term deployment, the B-2s will conduct local and regional training sorties and will integrate capabilities with key regional partners, ensuring bomber crews maintain a high state of readiness and crew proficiency,” the U.S. Pacific Air Forces said on its website.

The U.S. Strategic Command regularly rotates bombers through the Indo-Pacific region to conduct Pacific Command-led air operations, “providing leaders with deterrent options to maintain regional stability,” the Pacific Air Forces said.

It was unclear how long the powerful stealth bombers would be deployed to Guam, a strategically important base amid Pyongyang’s tests of increasingly powerful missiles and nuclear bombs.

North Korea has ramped up its threats to the U.S. and its allies in both words and deeds, including successful tests of what the country claimed was a powerful hydrogen bomb and the separate test of an intercontinental ballistic missile believed capable of striking the American mainland.

Tensions on the peninsula have cooled somewhat after the first intra-Korean talks in over two years were held Tuesday. North Korea said at those talks that it would attend the Winter Olympics in the South, while both sides agreed to work to resolve problems between them via dialogue and to revive a military hotline and consultations to prevent accidental conflict.

For his part, U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared to play down the possibility of conflict, reportedly telling South Korean President Moon Jae-in that there would be no military action of any kind while the two Koreas continue to hold dialogue.

Still, Trump has repeatedly said that “all options remain on the table” — including military action — to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear drive.

Andersen Air Force Base, from which heavy bombers would be dispatched and logistics support could be centered, would play a key role in the event of conflict erupting on the Korean Peninsula.

In late October, the U.S. military sent a B-2 from Whiteman on a long-range mission to the Pacific area of operations after Pentagon chief Jim Mattis highlighted rival North Korea’s “accelerating” atomic weapons program during a visit to South Korea.

The last time one of the stealth bombers flew near the Koreas was during a rare show of force over the peninsula in 2013. Military experts say that any U.S. strike on North Korea would almost certainly involve the powerful bombers.

European Union adopts blacklist of 17 tax havens

December 5, 2017

© Jewel Samad, AFP | Tourists play on the water along a beach as the sun sets in Bridgetown, Barbados, on March 24, 2017.


Latest update : 2017-12-05

European Union finance ministers adopted on Tuesday a blacklist of tax havens which includes 17 extra-EU jurisdictions seen as not cooperative on tax matters, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, South Korea, Macau, Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, Saint Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia and United Arab Emirates are the countries listed, officials said.

Le Maire said that another 47 jurisdictions are included in a public “grey” list of countries that are currently not compliant with EU standards but have committed to change their tax rules.

Following multiple disclosures of offshore tax avoidance schemes by companies and wealthy individuals, EU states launched a process in February to list tax havens in a bid to discourage setting up shell structures abroad which are themselves in many cases legal but could hide illicit activities.

Blacklisted countries could lose access to EU funds. Other possible countermeasures will be decided in coming weeks, Le Maire said.


North Korea Test-Fires Missile Towards the East, South Korea Says

November 28, 2017

South Korea responds to Pyongyang’s first launch since September with robust test-firing of surface, sea and air missiles

SEOUL—North Korea test-fired a single ballistic missile towards the east in the early hours of Wednesday morning, South Korean authorities said, ending a more than two-month hiatus from Pyongyang and threatening to increase tensions with the U.S. and in the region.

The missile, which South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said was fired at 2:47 a.m. Pyongyang time from Pyongsong, just north of the capital, comes weeks after U.S. President Donald Trump visited the region and roughly a week after he redesignated North Korea as a state sponsor of terror.

South Korean authorities said they were working with the U.S. to confirm details of the launch.

Prior to the test-firing, officials in Washington and Seoul openly wondered about the reasons behind the relatively long break in missile or nuclear tests from Pyongyang.

Just hours earlier on Tuesday in Seoul, South Korea’s top minister on North Korean affairs, Cho Myoung-gyon, played down the silence, noting that the North rarely fires missiles during the final months of the year.

The most recent North Korean missile was an intermediate-range ballistic missile fired over the Japanese mainland on Sept. 15.

In Washington, U.S. officials said they had seen movement in North Korea earlier this week suggesting an imminent launch of a land-based missile. A U.S. official confirmed that the test had occurred from the peninsula’s west coast.

—Nancy A. Youssef in Washington contributed to this article.

Write to Jonathan Cheng at
Previous reports:

North Korea Fires an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), in a Further Challenge to the U.S. and Allies — Violates United Nations Security Council Resolutions

November 28, 2017

A senior Pentagon Official told a “gaggle” of news people including Fox News and Peace and Freedom that the ballistic missile fired today by North Korea was an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capable of hitting Guam, Alaska and Hawaii and perhaps parts of the mainland U.S. The missile flew for 50 minutes and landed within Japan’s economic exclusion zone (EEZ). This missile flew over 2,800 miles above earth.

One DoD official said “we will do additional calculations on the data we have because this missile looks as though it could possibly place a warhead just about ANYWHERE in the U.S….” More information will be forthcoming. The President of the United States is anticipated to give a national address within this hour….

BREAKING NEWS: North Korean Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Flew 2,800 Miles Into Space (The Space Station Is 250 Miles Outside of The Earth’s Atmosphere) – Fox News


Below from The New York Times:

The North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, with two scientists — Ri Hong-sop, second from left, and Hong Sung-mu, right — in Pyongyang in September. Credit Korean Central News Agency

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Wednesday morning for the first time in more than two months, defying demands from President Trump to halt its weapons programs and raising the stakes in an increasingly tense standoff with the United States and its allies.

The unidentified ballistic missile took off from Pyongsong, a town northeast of Pyongyang, at 3:17 a.m. and flew east toward the Sea of Japan. It appeared to land in waters in which Japan claims special exploration rights.

Six minutes after the launch, South Korea conducted its own missile test off its east coast, demonstrating its ability to strike North Korean missile launching sites, the South’s military said in a statement.

Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, told reporters that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had called a meeting of his national security council.

“We strongly urge North Korea to change their policy as there will be no bright future for North Korea unless they resolve such issues as the abductions, nuclear program and missiles,” Mr. Suga said.

There was no immediate reaction from the Trump administration.

Unlike in previous launches over the summer, when the missiles flew over Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido, the government did not issue cellphone alerts to warn citizens.

Nighttime launches are not common, but North Korea has conducted night missile tests before. It launched an intercontinental ballistic missile at night on July 28.


Can North Korea Actually Hit the United States With a Nuclear Weapon?

Six systems that North Korea needs to master to achieve a long-sought goal: being able to reliably hit the United States.


The new missile firing came as North Korea has increased the frequency and daring of its missile tests, sending two missiles over Japan in August and September, while demonstrating technical progress that suggested it had developed the ability to strike the continental United States.

In a Sept. 19 speech at the United Nations, Mr. Trump warned that if North Korea threatened the United States or its allies, Washington would have “no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” and he mockingly referred to its leader, Kim Jong-un, as “rocket man.”

The North Korean leader responded by calling Mr. Trump “a mentally deranged U.S. dotard,” and his foreign minister later warned that Mr. Kim could order the test of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific.

In the wake of a Sept. 3 underground nuclear test — the sixth by North Korea — the United Nations Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions against the country.

In the nearly three months since that test, as leaders of North Korea and the United States have exchanged insults, the world has braced itself for another show of force by the North.

While in New York for the United Nations General Assembly meeting in September, North Korea’s foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, said that Mr. Kim was considering a hydrogen bomb test of unprecedented scale over the Pacific Ocean.

North Korea has persisted in its nuclear weapons and missile development despite nine rounds of sanctions that the Security Council has imposed since its first nuclear test in 2006.

The country has also made strides in its ballistic missile program since Mr. Kim took power in late 2011. It tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles, or ICBMs, in July, the second of which demonstrated the potential to reach the mainland United States.

Washington is applying what it calls “maximum pressure and sanctions” to stop North Korea from reaching the stage where it would be able to deliver a nuclear warhead on its ICBMs. But Mr. Kim says his country will conduct more missile tests in the Pacific Ocean to hone its capabilities.

Japan detects radio signals pointing to possible North Korea missile test

November 28, 2017


TOKYO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Japan has detected radio signals suggesting North Korea may be preparing another ballistic missile launch, although such signals are not unusual and satellite images did not show fresh activity, a Japanese government source said on Tuesday.

This undated picture released from North Korean state media shows leader Kim Jong Un visiting the Chemical Material Institute of the Academy of Defense Science.

After firing missiles at a pace of about two or three a month since April, North Korean missile launches paused in September, after it fired a rocket that passed over Japan’s northern Hokkaido island.

“This is not enough to determine (if a launch is likely soon),” the source told Reuters.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported late on Monday that the Japanese government was on alert after catching such radio signals, suggesting a launch could come in a few days. The report also said the signals might be related to winter military training by the North Korean military.

North Korea is pursuing its nuclear weapons and missile programmes in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions and has made no secret of its plans to develop a missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland. It has fired two missiles over Japan.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing a South Korean government source, also reported that intelligence officials of the United States, South Korea and Japan had recently detected signs of a possible missile launch and have been on higher alert.

South Korean Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon told reporters on Tuesday there have been “noteworthy” movements from the North since its last missile launch in mid-September, but there was no hard evidence of another nuclear or missile test.

“North Korea hasn’t been engaging in new nuclear or missile tests but recently we’ve seen them persistently testing engines and carrying out fuel tests,” said Cho at a media event in Seoul.

“But we need some more time to see whether these are directly related to missile and nuclear tests.”

Asked about the media reports, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning told reporters the United States continued to watch North Korea very closely.

“This is a diplomatically led effort at this point, supported by military options,” he said.

“The Republic of Korea and U.S. alliance remains strong and capable of countering any North Korean provocations or attacks.”

Two U.S. government sources familiar with official assessments of North Korean capabilities and activities said that while they were not immediately familiar with recent intelligence suggesting that North Korea was preparing to launch a new missile test, the U.S. government would not be surprised if such a test were to take place in the very near future.

Other U.S. intelligence officials noted North Korea has previously sent deliberately misleading signs of preparations for missile and nuclear tests, in part to mask real preparations, and in part to test U.S. and allied intelligence on its activities.

South Korea’s Cho said North Korea may announce the completion of its nuclear programme within a year, as it is moving more faster than expected in developing its arsenal.

North Korea defends its weapons programmes as a necessary defence against U.S. plans to invade. The United States, which stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war, denies any such intention.

Reporting by Nobuhiro Kubo in TOKYO, Phil Stewart, Mark Hosenball and John Walcott in WASHINGTON, Soyoung Kim and Christine Kim in SEOUL; Writing by Linda Sieg; Editing by lincoln Feast and Nick Macfie

China is flying bombers and spy planes near Japan and telling Japan to ‘not make a fuss’ about it — Tokyo needs to “get used to it.”

November 22, 2017

Business Insider

By Ben Brimelow

Chinese H H-6K bomber

On Saturday, a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Tu-154MD electronic-intelligence aircraft flew between the Japanese islands of Okinawa and Miyako — an area known as the Miyako Strait. The following day, four Xian H-6K long-range bombers and one Shaanxi Y-8 electronic-warfare aircraft also flew through the strait.

The H-6K bombers can carry a payload of up to 12 tons and can be armed with either seven YJ-12 supersonic antiship missiles or CJ-10A (KD-20) land-attack cruise missiles that can carry nuclear warheads.

Japanese fighter jets were scrambled on both days, but they reported no violations of Japanese airspace.

The flights are just the latest PLAAF flights through the Miyako Strait.

in July, Chinese H-6Ks flew through the area, angering both the Taiwanese and Japanese governments. Though no violation of airspace was recorded in that incident, the Japanese government sent formal protests to China, which responded in a statement that Japan should “not make a fuss about nothing,” and that Tokyo needs to “get used to it.”

In August, the PLAAF flew six H-6Ks near Kansai’s Kii Peninsula, close to the Japanese mainland, for the first time, according to Japan’s Defense Ministry.

Screen Shot 2017 11 21 at 3.04.00 PMA map showing routes of the PLAAF aircraft that flew over the Miyako Strait. Japanese Ministry of Defense

China’s Defense Ministry made an assertive statement after the mission, saying “no matter what obstructions are encountered, the Chinese Air Force will carry on as before; no matter who flies with us, the Chinese Air Force will fly often!”

China and Japan also dispute control of a group of Japan-administered islands in the East China Sea, called the Senkaku Islands by Japan and the Diaoyu Islands by China. Taiwan also claims the islands, calling them Tiaoyutai.

China escalated tensions in 2013 when it declared the islands part of its “air defense identification zone,” which would give it control over all the airspace in the region.

Japan has been increasingly worried about violations of its airspace by Chinese aircraft. Last year, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force created a new air wing to be based at the Naha Air Base in Okinawa. Japan also doubled the number of fighter jets used in intercept missions from two to four.

Japan Air Force F-15Japanese Air Self-Defense Force F-15 fighters Angelique Perez/USAF

Despite the tension, Japan’s Defense Ministry reported an overall decrease in jet scramblings from the first half of this fiscal year, when there were 287, compared to the same time period in 2016, when there were 407.

However, Japan’s Defense Ministry has reported an increase in “unusual” flights, like the drill near the Kii Peninsula, and other flights with bombers and intelligence-gathering and electronic-warfare aircraft.

In October, Chinese bombers reportedly practiced bombing runs meant to target Guam, which, like Okinawa, hosts important US military installations.

The incidents indicate that China has greater ambitions in the Pacific — and with Beijing modernizing its military at a fast pace, many nations are increasingly concerned.

7 US aircraft carriers are at sea for the first time in years — here’s what they’re doing

November 11, 2017

For the first time in years, seven of the US Navy’s 11 nuclear aircraft carriers are at sea simultaneously, according to US Naval Institute News.

The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Nimitz (CVN 68), and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) are in the Western Pacific on operational deployments. They have full air wings and carrier escorts.

The USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) are in the Eastern Pacific, while the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and the brand-new USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) are in the Atlantic. Those four carriers are on training missions or doing workups before deployments.

All the carriers — including the ones converging on the Western Pacific — are on planned operations amid President Donald Trump’s 12-day trip to Asia.

Here’s what each carrier is up to.

View As: One Page Slides


The USS Ronald Reagan just finished a three-day drill in the Sea of Japan with a Japanese destroyer and two Indian warships.

The USS Ronald Reagan just finished a three-day drill in the Sea of Japan with a Japanese destroyer and two Indian warships.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.Dylan McCord/US Navy

Source: Reuters

The USS Nimitz, the lead ship in the Nimitz class, visited Sri Lanka in October — the first time a US aircraft carrier had visited the dock Colombo over 30 years.

Source: USNI News

The USS Theodore Roosevelt visited the US territory of Guam on October 31, the first time the carrier has ever done so.

The USS Theodore Roosevelt visited the US territory of Guam on October 31, the first time the carrier has ever done so.

Screenshot/Twitter via @PacificCommand

Three months earlier, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un threatened to launch missiles near the island. More recently, China reportedly practiced bombing runs targeting Guam with H-6K “Badger” bombers.

The USS Carl Vinson recently conducted training exercises off the coast of Southern California and is now doing a planned sustainment exercise and flight tests with the F-35C Lightning II fighter.

Source: Times of San DiegoUSNI News

The USS John C. Stennis had been at the Kitsap-Bremerton naval base in Washington state for repairs but left port last week for the Eastern Pacific.

Source: USNI News

The USS Abraham Lincoln finished its four-year midlife refueling and complex overhaul in May and is now going through qualifications.

Source: USNI News

The USS Gerald R. Ford, the first of the US Navy’s Gerald R. Ford class of aircraft carriers, is the largest and most advanced ship in the US fleet. It was commissioned in July and is undergoing trials and exercises before it fully joins the fleet.

The USS Gerald R. Ford, the first of the US Navy's Gerald R. Ford class of aircraft carriers, is the largest and most advanced ship in the US fleet. It was commissioned in July and is undergoing trials and exercises before it fully joins the fleet.

An F/A-18F Super Hornet flies over the USS Gerald R. Ford in July.United States Navy

The Ford is the Navy’s most sophisticated carrier — though it was built without urinals.

US bombers stage North Korea show of force

September 24, 2017

BBC News

This picture taken on September 23, 2017 and released from North Korea"s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on September 24 shows a meeting of the youth and students
A large mass anti-US rally was held in Pyongyang on Saturday. AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS

US bombers have flown close to North Korea’s east coast to demonstrate the military options available to defeat any threat, the Pentagon has said.

It said the flight was the farthest north of the demilitarised zone between the Koreas that any US fighter jet or bomber had flown in the 21st Century.

Tensions have risen recently over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.

At the UN, North Korea’s foreign minister said US President Donald Trump was on a “suicide mission”.

Ri Yong-ho’s comments to the General Assembly mimicked Mr Trump’s remarks at the UN on Tuesday, when he called North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “rocket man on a suicide mission”.

Mr Ri added that “insults” by Mr Trump – who was, he said, “mentally deranged and full of megalomania” – were an “irreversible mistake making it inevitable” that North Korean rockets would hit the US mainland.

Mr Trump, the foreign minister said, would “pay dearly” for his speech, in which he also said he would “totally destroy” North Korea if the US was forced to defend itself or its allies.

The US president responded to the speech on Twitter by saying Mr Ri and Mr Kim “won’t be around much longer” if they continue their rhetoric.

Trump is making the US an ‘inevitable target’

Shortly before his address, the Pentagon announced that the show of force underscored “the seriousness” with which the US took North Korea’s “reckless” behaviour, calling the country’s weapons programme a “grave threat”.

“This mission is a demonstration of US resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat,” it said in a statement.

“We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the US homeland and our allies.”

US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers from Guam, escorted by Air Force F-15C Eagle fighters from Okinawa, Japan, flew in international airspace, the Pentagon added.

The flight follows a week of heated rhetoric between the leaders of both countries – after Mr Trump’s comments, Mr Kim called him “mentally deranged” and “a dotard”.

Mr Ri did not comment on the Pentagon’s announcement.

Trump: ‘Rocket Man’s suicide mission’

North Korea has refused to stop its missile and nuclear tests, despite successive rounds of UN sanctions. Its leaders say nuclear capabilities are its only deterrent against an outside world seeking to destroy it.

After the North’s latest and most powerful nuclear test earlier this month, the UN Security Council approved new sanctions on the country.

But speaking at the UN, Mr Ri repeated that the restrictions would not make the country stop its nuclear development.

Media captionHow would war with North Korea unfold?

Meanwhile, a shallow magnitude 3.4 tremor was detected near North Korea’s nuclear test site on Saturday morning, but experts believe it was a natural earthquake.

The quake was recorded at a depth of 0km in North Hamgyong province, home to the Punggye-ri site, South Korea’s meteorological agency said.

The US Geological Survey also said it occurred in the nuclear test area, but added that its seismologists assessed it as having a depth of 5km.

South Korea said no specific sound waves generated by artificial earthquakes were detected.

China’s Earthquake Administration said the quake was not a nuclear explosion and had the characteristics of a natural tremor. The agency had initially said it was a “suspected explosion”.

Previous tests


What did North Korea’s nuclear tests achieve?

How advanced is Pyongyang’s nuclear programme?

Analysts from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), the UN-backed monitoring group, said the quake was “unlikely man-made”.

CTBTO executive secretary Lassina Zerbo tweeted that the quake had occurred “about 50km from prior tests”.

“The most probable hypothesis currently is that it is the consequence of the previous event… which could still have further repercussions,” Mr Zerbo told the AFP news agency, referring to North Korea’s massive nuclear test on 3 September.

North Korea – which has recently carried out a series of nuclear tests – has so far made no comment.

In a separate development, China moved to limit the North Korea’s oil supplyand stop buying textiles from the country, in line with the latest UN sanctions.

China is North Korea’s most important trading partner, and one of its only sources of hard currency.

The ban on textiles – Pyongyang’s second-biggest export – is expected to cost the country more than $700m (£530m) a year.

Was your T-shirt made in North Korea?

Clothing has often partially been made in North Korea but finished in China, allowing a Made in China label to be legally sewn onto the clothing, BBC World Service Asia-Pacific Editor Celia Hatton says.

China also said its restrictions on refined petroleum products would apply from 1 October, and on liquefied natural gas immediately.

Under a UN resolution, China will still be able to export a maximum of two million barrels of refined petroleum to North Korea annually, beginning next year.

North Korea is estimated to have imported 6,000 barrels of refined petroleum daily from China in 2016 – the equivalent of nearly 2.2 million in total for the entire year.



Tensions Rise as U.S. Warplanes Skirt North Korean Coast, Pyongyang’s Envoy Sharpens Threats — Strikes by North Korea are inevitable, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho suggests

September 24, 2017

Eight American planes prowl coastline as Pyongyang warns of ‘inevitable’ attack on U.S.

In a new escalation of hostility between Washington and Pyongyang, North Korea’s foreign minister warned in a United Nations speech Saturday that a rocket attack on the U.S. mainland was “inevitable,” while U.S. warplanes flew off the east coast of North Korea in an explicit show of force.

The eight U.S. aircraft flew close to the North Korean coastline while remaining in international airspace, the Pentagon said in a statement, adding it was the farthest north of the demilitarized zone between North Korea and South Korea that American warplanes have flown since Pyongyang started testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons in the 1990s.

“This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said. “We are prepared to use the full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies.”

The moves on Saturday capped a week of hostility between the two countries and involving their top leaders. The rising animosity has spurred world leaders to call for restraint and diplomacy, but neither capital has shown an inclination to back down from the standoff.

President Donald Trump this week derided North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man,” saying he was on a suicide mission and that the U.S. would annihilate North Korea if forced to defend itself or its allies. He drew a personal response from Mr. Kim, who called Mr. Trump “deranged” and warned of retaliation.

On Saturday, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho suggested at the annual General Assembly gathering that military strikes by his country are inevitable. North Korea has been steadily advancing in both its missile and nuclear-warhead programs and is considered close to possessing the capability of an intercontinental strike.

“Trump might not have been aware what is uttered from his mouth, but we will make sure that he bears consequences far beyond his words, far beyond the scope of what he can handle, even if he is ready to do so,” Mr. Ri said.

“He committed an irreversible mistake of making our rockets’ visit to the entire U.S. mainland inevitable all the more,” he said.

U.S. officials watched as Mr. Ri spoke, but the U.S. mission to the U.N. didn’t comment on Mr. Ri’s speech.

Mr. Ri’s speech marked a setback to hopes that Pyongyang was open in the short run to attempts to de-escalate tensions in the interest of diplomacy and negotiations.

The North Korean official delivered a series of personal attacks on Mr. Trump, calling him “mentally deranged,” “evil,” and an “old gambler” who had turned the White House into “a noisy marketing place” and the U.N. into a “gangster den.”

He said it was Mr. Trump, not North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un, who was on a “suicide mission” and that he should be blamed if innocent American lives were lost.

Mr. Ri also said North Korea’s nuclear program had entered into the phase of completion and the country was a “responsible nuclear state” that would only use its weapons against nations that took military actions against Pyongyang.

Mr. Trump responded via Twitter late Saturday: “Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won’t be around much longer!”

In the U.S. air operation east of North Korea, eight planes including Air Force B-1 Lancer bombers and F-15C Eagle fighter escorts flew off the east coast of North Korea, the Pentagon said.

The U.S. air mission underscored “the seriousness with which we take DPRK’s reckless behavior,” said Ms. White, the Pentagon spokeswoman, referring to North Korea by its acronym.

Two B-1 bombers flew from the U.S. territory of Guam, home to two U.S. military bases, including Andersen Air Force base and its fleet of B-1 bombers.

Mr. Kim in August threatened to launch a missile attack on the island of Guam, located roughly 3,800 miles west of Hawaii and 2,100 miles south-southeast of Pyongyang, though he ratcheted back that threat days later.

The six F-15C escorts were deployed from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, U.S. Pacific Command spokesman Cmdr. David Benham said.

Cmdr. Benham didn’t comment on the planes’ armaments but said the F-15s provided fighter escort and “they are prepared to defend against attack, if necessary.”

Japan is within the range of North Korea’s ballistic missiles, and in mid-September Mr. Kim launched a missile over Japan, the second such launch in the span of a month. That missile flew an estimated 2,300 miles, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, which also would put Guam within range.

Cmdr. Benham declined to comment on whether North Korea responded in any way to the mission, citing policy to not discuss intelligence matters.

At the U.N., Mr. Ri said his country was a victim of unfair sanctions and biased action by the world body and said the U.N. was tilted in favor of the five permanent members of the Security Council, the U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China.

North Korea appeared defiant against international criticism and U.N. Security Council action, dismissing both as unjustified pressure by the U.S. and its allies.

Seven representatives from North Korea were sitting in the country’s designated area in the General Assembly hall. Two American delegates were also present, listening to the speech and taking notes.

North Korea’s speech has been one of the most anticipated at the gathering of world leaders this year, along with Mr. Trump’s speech. North Korea has little interaction with the outside world, and the annual General Assembly meeting offers a unique opportunity for world leaders to hear directly from Pyongyang’s regime.

Many world leaders mentioned North Korea’s crisis in their own speeches to the assembly this week, urging its leaders to abandon its nuclear and missile tests in favor of diplomacy.

Ireland’s minister for environment, Denis Naughton, spoke at the podium Saturday before Mr. Ri. He urged North Korea to calm the tensions.

“This is a conflict the world does not need and we need to move away from,” Mr. Naughton said.

Write to Farnaz Fassihi at and Ben Kesling at