Posts Tagged ‘ICBMs’

US says satellite attempt shows Iran threat

January 16, 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday accused Iran of posing a missile threat after Tehran defied his warnings and tried to put a satellite into orbit, albeit unsuccessfully.

Pompeo renewed his charge that the launch defied UN Security Council resolution 2231 of 2015, which endorsed an international agreement, from which the United States has withdrawn, on ending Iran’s nuclear weapons.

“In defiance of the international community & UNSCR 2231, Iran’s regime fired off a space launch vehicle today,” Pompeo tweeted.

“The launch yet again shows that Iran is pursuing enhanced missile capabilities that threaten Europe and the Middle East,” he wrote.

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Another satellite, named Doosti, was waiting to be launched.

Under the nuclear deal – which Washington pulled out of last spring before reimposing sanctions – the country is “called upon” to refrain from work for up to eight years on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons.

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Former Iranian President and father of Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

President Hassan Rouhani said Washington was waging an economic war against Tehran in order to get concessions on the missile program, but “is not able to build a wall around Iran”.

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Iran-backed Houthis fighters in yemen launch a ballistic missile into Saudi Arabia

The reaction was relatively muted for a member of President Donald Trump’s administration, which has ramped up pressure for months on Iran in hopes of crippling its economy and scaling back its influence in the region.

Iran’s telecommunications minister said the country successfully launched the Payam satellite but that it failed to be placed into orbit.

The United States and Israel say Iran can use technical know-how from satellite launches to develop long-range missiles, an opinion not shared by all Western experts.

Iran says it has the right to satellite launches as well as missile tests, saying it needs to defend itself against real threats and that the activities do not involve a nuclear component.



Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel had attacked Iranian and Hezbollah targets in Syria hundreds of times. (AFP)

White House Sought Options to Strike Iran

January 13, 2019

State and Pentagon officials were rattled by the request

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John Bolton, President Trump’s national security adviser, had asked for military options to strike Iran.

WASHINGTON—On a warm night in early September, militants fired three mortars into Baghdad’s sprawling diplomatic quarter, home to the U.S. Embassy.

The shells—launched by a group aligned with Iran—landed in an open lot, harming no one. But they triggered unusual alarm in Washington, where President Trump’s national security team conducted a series of meetings to discuss a forceful American response.

As part of the talks, Mr. Trump’s National Security Council, led by John Bolton, asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran. The request, which hasn’t been previously reported, generated concern at the Pentagon and State Department, current and former U.S. officials say.

“It definitely rattled people,” said one former senior U.S. administration official. “People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran.”

The Pentagon complied with the National Security Council’s request to develop options for striking Iran, the officials said. But it isn’t clear if the proposals were provided to the White House, whether Mr. Trump knew of the request or whether serious plans for a U.S. strike against Iran took shape at that time.

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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said the body “coordinates policy and provides the president with options to anticipate and respond to a variety of threats.”

“We continue to review the status of our personnel following attempted attacks on our embassy in Baghdad and our Basra consulate, and we will consider a full range of options to preserve their safety and our interests,” he said.

Mr. Bolton’s request reflects the administration’s more confrontational approach toward Tehran, one that he has pushed since taking up the post last April.

As national security adviser, Mr. Bolton is charged with providing a range of diplomatic, military and economic advice to the president.

Former U.S. officials said it was unnerving that the National Security Council asked for far-reaching military options to strike Iran in response to attacks that caused little damage and no injuries.

Mira Ricardel, who was ousted as Mr. Bolton’s deputy in November, described the attacks in Iraq as ‘an act of war.’PHOTO: ZACH GIBSON/BLOOMBERG NEWS

Last year, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis argued against strikes that might hit Russian and Iranian forces when Mr. Trump and his national security team were looking at ways to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a chemical-weapons attack, according to people familiar with the debate. Mr. Mattis, who resigned last month amid a dispute with Mr. Trump over the president’s national security decisions, pushed for a more modest response that Mr. Trump eventually embraced.

In talks with other administration officials, Mr. Bolton has made it clear that he personally supports regime change in Iran, a position he aggressively championed before joining the Trump administration, according to people familiar with the discussions.

As a think-tank scholar and Fox News commentator, Mr. Bolton repeatedly urged the U.S. to attack Iran, including in a 2015 New York Times op-ed titled, “To stop Iran’s bomb, bomb Iran.”

After taking the White House post, Mr. Bolton joined forces with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to develop a more aggressive policy aimed at weakening the government in Tehran. Mr. Bolton has said that his job is to implement the president’s agenda, which doesn’t include regime change in Tehran. The State Department declined to comment.

Mr. Bolton worked last year to quickly pull the U.S. out of former President Barack Obama’s nuclear-containment deal with the country and to tighten economic sanctions on Tehran, moves eagerly sought by Mr. Trump. In a September speech, Mr. Bolton warned Tehran that there would be “hell to pay” if Iran threatened America or its allies.

Mr. Bolton and his deputy at the time, Mira Ricardel, were pressing for new ways to confront Iran militarily.

The Sept. 6 mortar attack in Baghdad generated little news coverage. The city’s Green Zone has been a frequent target for insurgents since the U.S. invasion in 2003. A Shiite militia group aligned with Iran eventually claimed responsibility for the attack.

Two days later, amid anti-Iranian protests in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, unknown militants fired three rockets that hit relatively close to the American consulate, but caused no serious damage.

No one claimed responsibility for the second attack, but White House officials decided they needed to send a clear message to Iran.

Alongside the requests in regards to Iran, the National Security Council asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with options to respond with strikes in Iraq and Syria as well, according to people familiar with the talks.

In one meeting, Ms. Ricardel described the attacks in Iraq as “an act of war” and said the U.S. had to respond decisively, according to one person familiar with the meeting.

Ms. Ricardel, who was forced out of her job in November after a feud with first lady Melania Trump, didn’t respond to requests for comment. Current and former U.S. officials said there have been discussions about her taking a new job at the Pentagon.

As the administration discussed the U.S. response last fall, the White House issued a two-paragraph statement on Sept. 11 that seemed to warn of a possible military strike.

“The United States will hold the regime in Tehran accountable for any attack that results in injury to our personnel or damage to United States government facilities,” the White House said.

Two weeks later, Mr. Pompeo made it clear the U.S. was willing to target Iran for the actions of its allies in Iraq.

“Iran will be held accountable for those incidents,” he said in a Sept. 21 CNN interview.

“Even militarily?” asked CNN’s Elise Labott.

“They’re going to be held accountable,” Mr. Pompeo replied. “If they’re responsible for the arming and training of these militias, we’re going to go to the source.”

The Trump administration has kept up the public threats. Earlier this month, Mr. Pompeo again warned Tehran when it announced plans to launch two satellites into space, a move the Trump administration said would help the country advance its missile-launching abilities.

Secretary Pompeo


plans to fire off Space Launch Vehicles with virtually same technology as ICBMs. The launch will advance its missile program. US, France, UK & Germany have already stated this is in defiance of UNSCR 2231. We won’t stand by while the regime threatens international security.

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“We won’t stand by while the regime threatens international security,” Mr. Pompeo said in a tweet on Jan. 3.

During a trip to Israel earlier this month, Mr. Bolton suggested that Mr. Trump was willing to strike Iran if he thought Tehran was close to developing a nuclear weapon.

“The president looks at all his options constantly,” Mr. Bolton said in an interview with talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt that aired on Friday. “On a subject of this seriousness, this is something we coordinate very closely with Israel on, but for reasons I’m sure you can understand, we have to keep our cards close to the vest.”

Write to Dion Nissenbaum at

North Korea’s Trump-Era Strategy: Keep Making A-Bombs, but Quietly

September 17, 2018

 For seven years, Kim Jong-un has pursued an in-your-face strategy for building his nuclear arsenal: detonating blasts underground and firing missiles into the sky, all to send the message that his country’s nuclear buildup is irreversible.

Now he appears to be changing his approach, current and former American intelligence officials say, tailoring it to his reading of the man he met for a few hours three months ago in Singapore: President Trump.

North Korea is making nuclear fuel and building weapons as actively as ever, the publicly available evidence suggests. But he now appears to be borrowing a page from Israel, Pakistan and India: He is keeping quiet about it, conducting no public nuclear demonstrations and creating no crises, allowing Mr. Trump to portray a denuclearization effort as on track.

Mr. Kim’s new forbearance has helped keep a stream of warm words coming from Mr. Trump. A week ago, the president praised Mr. Kim, with whom he says he has forged a special relationship, after the North Korean leader refrained from parading missiles down the streets of Pyongyang during a military celebration.

By David E. Sanger
The New York Times

President Trump and Kim Jong-un at their summit meeting in June. They have exchanged warm words ever since. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

On Tuesday, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea will visit the North Korean leader in Pyongyang for their third meeting, and over three days the two men are expected to discuss a “peace declaration” that the North has said must precede any further discussion of disarmament.

Looming over the meeting is the post-Singapore stalemate on progress despite Mr. Trump’s new tone of accommodation, including his openness to a second meeting with Mr. Kim. After declaring a year ago that Mr. Kim had to disarm quickly or face “fire and fury,” Mr. Trump now says there is plenty of time.

But even some of the president’s top national security officials privately concede that Mr. Trump’s declaration in June that “there is no longer a nuclear threat” from North Korea was a huge error, because it was taken as a signal by China and Russia that the crisis was over and that they could resume trading with the country.

Current and former intelligence officials say new assessments suggest that Mr. Kim has carefully read Mr. Trump and concluded that as long as the optics are good, and the exchanges between the two leaders are warm, he can hold off demands for progress toward disarmament. If Mr. Kim does not conduct tests, Mr. Trump is unlikely to call out evidence of a continued nuclear buildup.

“I’m shocked at how superficial things have been,” said Jung H. Pak, the C.I.A.’s mission leader for North Korea until she left last year for the Brookings Institution. “I think the North Koreans smell dysfunction and they see dysfunction in the president’s tweets and his compliments and his willingness to meet again.”


Even one of Mr. Trump’s frequent defenders, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, indicated on Sunday he was worried that the president might have been manipulated.

“Are they playing us? I don’t know,” Mr. Graham said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “If they’re playing Trump, we’re going to be in a world of hurt, because he’s going to have no options left. This is the last, best chance for peace right here.”

The White House argues that significant progress has been made. Mr. Trump’s press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has cited the fact that Mr. Kim’s last missile and nuclear tests were 10 months ago, and insisted that is a sign of Mr. Kim’s willingness to deal.

It certainly is a constraint on his program: As long as the North conducts no tests, it cannot demonstrate that it has designed a warhead that can survive the huge stresses it would undergo in flight. That leaves ambiguity about whether it can actually strike American cities.

Still, nuclear production continues unabated, satellite photographs and other evidence suggest. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has not persuaded the North Koreans to turn over an inventory of their major nuclear facilities and materials, much less declare how many weapons they possess. While Mr. Kim has blown up entrances to a nuclear test site and appeared to start dismantling a test stand for missile engines, he has not allowed in any inspectors to determine whether the actions were simply for show.

Mr. Kim has said a peace “declaration” that formally ends the Korean War must be a first step, and Mr. Moon has privately urged the United States to provide that assurance. The North Korean leader believes that Mr. Trump committed to such a declaration on the way to a more formal peace treaty. But both Mr. Pompeo and John R. Bolton, the national security adviser, have said progress toward denuclearization must come first.

Mr. Kim’s strategy now appears to be simple: Mimic Pakistan, which conducted a major nuclear test in 1998 and deflected demands for years that it give up its weapons. Pakistan has largely succeeded. It has a substantial arsenal, and when Mr. Pompeo visited Islamabad recently, there was little public discussion of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

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China Said To Pressure North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to Follow Through on Singapore Agreements With U.S. President Trump

September 9, 2018

Pyongyang puts on show of military hardware for 70th anniversary parade but doesn’t roll out long-range missiles in ‘goodwill gesture’ to US

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 September, 2018, 9:01pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 September, 2018, 9:14pm

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s right-hand man has urged North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to realise the consensus on denuclearisation he reached with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June.

Li Zhanshu, Beijing’s third-ranking Communist Party official, issued the call in talks with Kim on Sunday while in Pyongyang for celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of North Korea.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, raises hands with Chinese envoy Li Zhanshu

Li stressed the need for North Korea and the US “to thoroughly implement the consensus … to reach the common goal of denuclearisation”, state broadcaster China Central Television reported.

Kim said North Korea had already taken steps towards denuclearisation, and wanted “the US side to take reciprocal measures to solve the Korean peninsula issues diplomatically”.

“I [also] wish to learn from the Chinese experience of economic development,” Kim was quoted as saying.

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North Korean military parade, September 9, 2018

China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency said Xi sent a message to Kim on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party to congratulate North Korea on its 70th anniversary ”, and to express Xi’s desire to work closely with Kim to promote a “long-term, healthy and stable development of China-North Korea relations”.

The talks came after North Korea rolled out tanks and troops – but no long-range missiles – for an anniversary military parade, a move observers said could be a goodwill gesture to the US to foster talks on nuclear weapons.

Observers said the decision to hold off on the intercontinental ballistic missiles could also earn North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping and even another summit with US President Donald Trump.

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North Korean military parade, September 9, 2018

But they also warned that simply keeping the ICBMs out of sight would not deflect Washington’s scrutiny of Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.

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Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping in Dalian, May 8, 2018

Sunday’s military parade was North Korea’s first since Kim and Trump met in Singapore in June, and bigger than one in February to mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean People’s Army, according to a South Korean military source.

But the most powerful missiles on show were short-range battlefield devices.

Atsushi Tago, professor of international relations at Tokyo’s Waseda University, said the absence of the ICBMs could signal Kim’s willingness to “denuclearise” and raise prospects for talks with the United States.

“It would be logical to interpret that North Korea would still like to be in line with the Trump-Kim agreement in Singapore,” Tago said.

At their meeting on June 12, Trump and Kim agreed to work towards “complete denuclearisation” of the peninsula.

According to South Korean diplomatic sources, Trump also underscored the need for North Korea to shut down its ICBM facilities. Kim agreed to take action on the missiles but the agreement was not included in the two leaders’ joint declaration, the sources said.

Aircraft fly in formation as part of North Korea’s 70th anniversary celebrations in Pyongyang on Sunday. Photo: AP

Monitoring group 38 North said satellite images taken on August 3 suggested that North Korea had started dismantling ICBM facilities at Sohae, about 200km (120 miles) northwest of Pyongyang.

Song Zhongping, a former member of China’s rocket corps, said Sunday’s “low-profile” parade indicated that Kim did not want to sent any signals that might provoke Washington.

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“There were no Hwasong-14s, Pukguksongs or other weapons of mass destruction that could threaten the US – just some conventional and defensive arms,” Song said.

“Pyongyang doesn’t want to irritate the US and the international community amid the new calm on the Korean peninsula.

“Kim also wants to create a ‘good atmosphere’ for his third meeting with [South Korean President] Moon Jae-in next week.”

Song said Kim might also be aiming for another summit with the US president.

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“The North wants to show their ‘determination and sincerity’ for denuclearisation, as Kim desires continued negotiations with Trump,” he said.

Zhao Tong, a fellow in Carnegie’s Nuclear Policy Programme at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Centre for Global Policy in Beijing, said another goal might be economic.

In April, Kim said the country was shifting away from its byungjin twin-track policy of developing nuclear weapons and the economy at the same time, to focusing solely on the economy.

North Koreans march with a float during a parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the country’s foundation in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Sunday. Photo: EPA-EFE

“North Korea has a strategic interest in building a positive relationship with the US to create a favourable environment for its economic development … By refraining from showing off its most provocative missiles, North Korea seeks to maintain the momentum of improving bilateral relations with the US and of breaking its international isolation,” Zhao said.

“[This] also makes it easier for the widely speculated visit by the Chinese president to take place.

“Xi’s visit would be an important step forward.”

Zhang Baohui, professor of political science at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, said the lower-key parade worked in China’s favour.

“Trump has been saying that China is undermining his Korea policy by encouraging Kim not to denuclearise … Beijing does want to de-escalate the rising mistrust between China and Trump over the North Korean issue. So the restrained parade should give Trump little excuse to further criticise China,” Zhang said.

But analysts were sceptical that the gesture would speed up the denuclearisation process.

“The restraint by North Korea does not necessarily mean it will implement denuclearisation as promised … Fundamentally, North Korea’s nuclear quest is driven by its profound insecurity and mistrust against the US,” Zhang said.

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David Tsui, a Zhongshan-based war historian also known as Xu Zerong, said that “whatever Kim has done, the US would not trust him”.

“It’s impossible to change a communist dictatorship … If the US proves that the North has held on to some nuclear weapons, [the Americans] will definitely wipe him out,” Tsui said.

North Korea holds parade without ballistic missiles — “Concealed carry”

September 9, 2018

North Korea did not display any intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) at a military parade to mark its 70th anniversary, reports say.

It is also unclear whether leader Kim Jong-un made a speech at the event.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, right, raises hands with Chinese envoy Li Zhanshu

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The parade is being scrutinised for clues about North Korea’s weapons arsenal and professed commitment to denuclearisation.

Some analysts had predicted that Mr Kim would tone down the display after his summit with US President Donald Trump.

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Soldiers salute as they ride tanks during a military parade and mass rally in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung Square, September 9, 2018

A large display of ICBMs – which can reach the US mainland, potentially carrying a nuclear warhead – would have been seen as provocative.

No footage of the parade has been released but news agency AFP, which had a reporter at the scene, and NK News, which had pictures from North Korean state TV, said no ICBMs had been seen.

In June Mr Kim and Mr Trump signed a vague agreement to work towards denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula but it did not include a timeline, details or mechanisms to verify the process.

High level talks and visits have continued but the most recent scheduled trip by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was called off last minute and both sides have blamed each other for the stalling negotiations while insisting they’re committed to the progress.

The BBC’s Seoul Correspondent Laura Bicker said any show of ICBMs could have put future discussions and any deal to declare an end to the Korean war at risk.

North Korean military parade, 9 September 2018Image copyrightAFP
Image captionThousands of troops marched in the parade
parade participants wave flowers as they pass Mr KimImage copyrightAFP
Image captionSome parade participants waved flowers as they passed Mr Kim

North Korea was also due to hold its first mass games in five years. The Arirang Mass Games are an elaborate propaganda spectacle with enormous co-ordinated displays.

This year’s games, which tell a symbolic story of North Korea’s history, are titled The Glorious Country.

Analysis of satellite images from the past two weeks suggest this year’s games, which will continue throughout September, are going to be very big.

North Koreans put on gymnastics and arts performances during the Arirang Mass Games in Pyongyang 22 July 2013, as part of celebrations ahead of the 60th anniversary marking the end of the 1950-53 Korean WarImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionThe 2013 games involved tens of thousands of performers

Past games have featured gigantic stadiums filled with performers, synchronised gymnasts and co-ordinated dance displays.

The colourful displays are likely to be striking but the UN has in the past said that children are forced to take part, or to help in the build-up.

See also CNN:

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North Korea Preparing Toned-Down Military Parade: Analysts

September 1, 2018

Satellite imagery shows North Korea is poised to stage another military parade amid new worries that diplomatic efforts on denuclearization are stalling, though analysts say it is unclear whether it will showcase any of the country’s largest ballistic missiles.

Pyongyang is preparing to host a number of major events on Sept. 9 for the 70th anniversary of the country’s founding, including a military parade, possible visits by foreign delegations, and – for the first time in five years – a massive choreographed performance known as the “Mass Games.”

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North Korean soldiers march during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of the country’s founding father Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, North Korea, April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

Parades have long been a way for North Korea to show off its military might, and September’s show comes amid sensitive negotiations over the future of the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile arsenal.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met U.S. President Donald Trump in June and agreed to “work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” but negotiations since then appear to have stalled with both sides increasingly criticizing the other for a lack of progress.

Based on commercial satellite imagery gathered by Planet Labs Inc., analysts say September’s military parade is likely to be very similar to one staged on Feb. 8, but so far there is no sign of the controversial intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that are believed to be capable of targeting the United States.

“At the moment, this parade look pretty similar if not smaller than the one in February,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at California’s Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Among the weapons the team at Middlebury spotted in Aug. 22 images of North Korea’s Mirim Parade Training Ground are tanks, self-propelled artillery, infantry carriers, anti-aircraft missiles, and rocket launchers.

Other possible weapons arrayed on the parade ground include coastal defense cruise missiles, as well as at least six solid-fuel, short-range ballistic missiles possibly of a type first seen in February.

Analysts said that short-range ballistic missile is based on the Russian Iskander missile but also shares many features of South Korea’s Hyunmoo-2 missile.

“The first 99 vehicles are identical,” Lewis said. “After that we only see another 20 or so short-range missiles. There were more on parade in February, including ICBMs.”

Another analysis of the Planet Labs images, conducted by Joseph Bermudez at the Stimson Centre’s 38 North website, also found no signs of ICBMs, but noted that an expanded number of heavy equipment storage shelters indicate September’s parade “will likely be considerably larger than the military parade earlier this year.”

If ICBMs or other large missiles are present, “they would likely remain hidden under the shelters in the heavy equipment storage area until the day of the parade,” Bermudez wrote.

Lewis acknowledged that there could be more weapons hidden in the sheds, but said at this point it is “just speculation.”

Analysts say that so far there is no indication the parade will match the April 2017 “Day of the Sun” parade, in which Kim rolled out multiple new missile systems, helping to exacerbate rising tensions with the United States and South Korea.

“It probably wont be anything close to what we saw in 2017,” said Dave Schmerler, a research associate at the Middlebury Institute.

(Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Kim Coghill)


Despite Trump-Kim Singapore Meeting, Japan Has Never Changed Assessment of Asian Neighbors North Korea, China, Russia

August 28, 2018

Japan has not changed its assessment of the threat posed by nuclear-armed North Korea despite the June 12 U.S.-North Korea summit and ensuing denuclearization talks between the two countries, the Defense Ministry stated in its annual white paper released Tuesday.

Pyongyang has already deployed “several hundred” Rodong ballistic missiles, whose range covers almost all of Japan’s territory, and Pyongyang may have already succeeded in producing nuclear warheads small enough to fit on those missiles, the ministry warned.

The June 12 meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump had “major significance”, the paper noted, because Kim reconfirmed his pledge to make efforts toward denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in a written statement.

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But “we need to carefully ascertain what specific actions North Korea will take toward abolition of nuclear weapons and (ballistic) missiles from now,” the 564-page annual defense paper stressed.

The analysis section of this year’s white paper reflects the deep skepticism held by Japanese diplomats and defense officials over the ongoing denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

On April 27, Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in Panmunjom on the border of the two countries and pledged to work for the “complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” The Kim-Trump meeting of June 12 in Singapore reconfirmed the pledge.

But since then, “there has not been much progress” in talks to denuclearize North Korea, a key senior Japanese diplomat in Tokyo said last week.

“In reality, things are not making progress,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Japan is fully cooperating with Washington’s diplomatic efforts to denuclearize the hermit state, the U.S. being Japan’s sole military ally, placing the endeavor at the center of diplomatic moves by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration.

But Pyongyang has yet to take any concrete steps to dismantle any of its ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons, deepening skepticism among Japan-based officials and experts.

The analysis section of the white paper mainly discusses the potential military threats posed by three countries: North Korea, China and Russia.

China has been expanding its defense budget for more than 25 years, and is rapidly strengthening its military capability — in particular its nuclear weapons, missiles, air force and naval power, the white paper said.

Beijing has also continued military and coast guard operations around the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea. The Japan-controlled islets are claimed by Beijing and known as Diaoyu in China.

As a result, a so-called “gray zone” situation — one that is neither wartime emergency nor normal peacetime — has continued for a long time and will be extended further, the ministry predicted.

As for Russia, the paper pointed out that Moscow has recently strengthened its military activities and deployment in the Russia-controlled, disputed four islands off Hokkaido known as the Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia.

Such activities include the deployment of surface-to-ship missiles and a plan to station a new division of ground troops in the area, the paper pointed out.

“We need to keep carefully watching the activities of Russian forces in the Far East, including the Northern Territories,” the white paper says.



Why Should North Korea Give Up Its Nuclear Weapons?

August 23, 2018

To reach a final deal on the denuclearization of North Korea, the Trump administration must give up something substantial. But Washington isn’t budging.

By David C. Kang

Mr. Kang is the director of the Korean Studies Institute at the University of Southern California


Major Gen. Kim Do-gyun of South Korea, center, shaking hands with a North Korean officer as he crossed the military demarcation line in June. Credit South Korean Defense Ministry, via Getty Images

South Korea and North Korea recently announced plans for a third summit meeting between their two leaders, to take place in Pyongyang in September. From family reunions to fielding a joint sports team in the upcoming Asian Games, the two Koreas are moving forward with steps to further détente on the peninsula.

By contrast, the United States has done very little in the two months since the Singapore summit between President Trump and the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, to advance the relationship.

The United States appears to be waiting for the North to take the next step. But the Trump administration is ignoring the reality that to reach a final deal on the eventual denuclearization of North Korea, the United States must give something substantial in return.

Above all, Washington must take steps to ease North Korean fears of an American attack. Without such a guarantee, the North will never surrender its nuclear arsenal.

Earlier this month, the national security adviser, John Bolton, said that “The United States has lived up to the Singapore declaration. It’s just North Korea that has not taken the steps we feel are necessary to denuclearize.”

And outside of the Trump administration, many other observers have said “I told you so,” blaming North Korea for that lack of progress while arguing that North Korea will never denuclearize. The Washington Post called North Korea’s hesitation to take action “stiff resistance from a North Korean team practiced in the art of delay and obfuscation.”

Let’s take stock of the concessions by the two sides.

North Korea has imposed a moratorium on missile tests and nuclear tests. It has dismantled entrances to a nuclear test site (at Punggye-ri) and a satellite-launching site (at Sohae). There’s evidence of a shutdown of an I.C.B.M.-assembly facility near Pyongyang. It has returned what it says are the remains of 55 United States soldiers killed during the Korean War and has released three American citizens arrested in North Korea as a condition for the summit meeting. Pyongyang has also reduced domestic anti-American propaganda.

The United States has canceled one war game.

All of North Korea’s concessions were unthinkable less than a year ago. It’s clear that Pyongyang is willing to move toward reducing tensions. A United States commander in South Korea, Gen. Vincent Brooks, noted recently that the North has gone more than 200 days “without a provocation,” and that he had seen a slowdown in the operating tempo of North Korean armed forces.

But further North Korean concessions will not happen until the United States makes a move.

North Korea has never offered to unilaterally disarm first, with the hope that the United States would then do something nice in return. Rather, North Korea has consistently called for a “phased” and “synchronous” approach, with “step for step” negotiations.

We are so focused on arguing about whether North Korea will ever completely, verifiably and irreversibly denuclearize that we are overlooking Pyongyang’s reasonable need for guarantees that the United States won’t attack. North Korea has made very clear that it will discuss denuclearization only if the United States demonstrates that it will not invade its country.

Some argue that the United States already made those guarantees to the North in agreements in 2005. Yet those promises were undone by President Trump’s talk of a “bloody nose” option for Pyongyang and claims by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama that “all options remain on the table.”

Washington’s strategy of maximum pressure has reached its limit. North Korea can stop today the concessions it has already made and the rest of the world would look at the United States to respond in some fashion. Without any further North Korean provocations, few countries would be willing to continue heavy pressure, and the United States would be seen as the reluctant negotiating party.

The United States and North Korea are in a better place than they were a year ago. But without concrete action from the United States that deals directly with North Korea’s concerns, it is unlikely that Pyongyang will make any further moves to denuclearize.

David C. Kang is a professor of international relations at the University of Southern California, where he directs the Korean Studies Institute. He is the author, most recently, of “East Asian Security and American Grand Strategy in the 21st Century.”


North Korea Moving The Goal Posts for the U.S. — Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump in a Pickle With Kim Jong Un

August 11, 2018

“Trump is in a long tradition of American presidents who have been taken to the cleaners.”

Pyongyang wants the U.S. to formally declare the end of the Korean War before it begins dismantling its nuclear arsenal. Officials said that was not part of the Singapore deal.

North Korea is insisting that the United States declare that the Korean War is over before providing a detailed, written disclosure of all its atomic weapons stockpiles, its nuclear production facilities and its missiles as a first major step toward denuclearization.


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un smiles while sitting during a visit to inspect the Pyongyang Children’s Foodstuff Factory, in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on November 14, 2015.  (KCNA via Reuters)

Two months after President Trump declared his summit meeting in Singapore with Kim Jong-un a complete success, North Korea has not yet even agreed to provide that list during private exchanges with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to American and South Korean officials familiar with the talks.

Mr. Pompeo maintains progress is being made, although he has provided no details. But John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, this week said, “North Korea that has not taken the steps we feel are necessary to denuclearize.”

On Thursday, North Korea’s state-run newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, called the declaration of the end of the war “the demand of our time” and that would be the “first process” in moving toward a fulfillment of the June 12 deal struck between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim. Pyonygang also wants peace treaty talks to begin before detailing its arsenal.

By  David E. Sanger and William J. Broad
The New York Times

If the standoff over the parallel declarations remains, it is hard to see how the two countries can move forward with an agreement.

“The North Koreans have lied to us consistently for nearly 30 years,” Joseph Nye, who wrote one of the National Intelligence Council’s first assessments of the North’s weapons programs in 1993, said at the Aspen Institute on Tuesday.

“Trump is in a long tradition of American presidents who have been taken to the cleaners,” Mr. Nye said.

Neither Mr. Trump nor Mr. Pompeo has acknowledged the impasse. But officials said South Korea has quietly backed the North Korean position, betting that once Mr. Trump has issued a “peace declaration” it would be harder for him to later threaten military action if the North fails to disarm or discard its nuclear arsenal.

Against North Korea’s continuing nuclear buildup — and its threats to strike the United States — Washington has long refused to formally declare the end of the war, which was halted with a 1953 armistice but never officially brought to a close.

Read the rest:


Trump Replies to ‘Nice’ Letter From North Korea’s Kim

August 4, 2018

Kim Jong Un wrote to President Trump earlier this week

North Korea's Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho was handed President Trump's reply to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's letter by a member of the U.S. delegation at the Asean meeting in Singapore on Aug. 4.
North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho was handed President Trump’s reply to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s letter by a member of the U.S. delegation at the Asean meeting in Singapore on Aug. 4. PHOTO: HANDOUT/REUTERS

The U.S. State Department said it delivered a letter from President Trump to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during a regional summit on Saturday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was in Singapore this weekend for a summit. A member of his delegation delivered the letter, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.

Donald J. Trump


Thank you to Chairman Kim Jong Un for keeping your word & starting the process of sending home the remains of our great and beloved missing fallen! I am not at all surprised that you took this kind action. Also, thank you for your nice letter – l look forward to seeing you soon!

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo greeting Mr. Ri at the Singapore meeting.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo greeting Mr. Ri at the Singapore meeting. PHOTO: JOSEPH NAIR/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Mr. Kim wrote to Mr. Trump earlier this week. Mr. Trump described it as a “nice” letter in a post on his Twitter account.

Ms. Nauert declined to comment on its contents, deferring to the White House.

Mr. Pompeo and North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho shook hands during a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, exchanging a few words. “We should meet again,” Mr. Pompeo told the North Korean, who agreed and said more productive discussions were to be had.

Mr. Pompeo spent two days in Pyongyang about a month ago to press North Korea on its pledge to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. After the meeting, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry criticized Mr. Pompeo’s “gangster-like” approach. Mr. Pompeo insisted afterward that talks had been productive.

Since Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim signed a pledge to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, multiple satellite-imagery reports have shown that Pyongyang continues to invest in its nuclear arsenal.

Write to Jessica Donati at

Corrections & Amplifications 
Mr. Trump described the latest letter he received from Mr. Kim as “nice.” An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that he had described it as “very nice.” (Aug. 4, 2018)