Posts Tagged ‘ICBMs’

North Korea Ramps Up International Rancor With H-Bomb Threat — North Korea Hits New Level of Brinkmanship in Reacting to Trump

September 22, 2017

Experts warn of potentially dire consequences if Kim Jong Un detonates a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean

Images of North Korean missile launches on display outside the central railway station in Pyongyang on Friday.
Images of North Korean missile launches on display outside the central railway station in Pyongyang on Friday. PHOTO: ED JONES/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

SEOUL—North Korea’s latest threat—to detonate a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean—if carried through would mark a new level of defiance in the face of warnings from the U.S. and the international community.

Pyongyang has notched milestone after milestone this year in its quest to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the continental U.S., each time causing a furor and inviting toughly worded responses from President Donald Trump.

In the past month, Pyongyang has launched two missiles over Japan and tested its sixth and most powerful nuclear device, which it described as a hydrogen bomb. That follows the first two successful test-launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles in July.

“Perhaps we might consider a historic aboveground test of a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean,” North Korean foreign minister Ri Su Yong told reporters in New York, in remarks broadcast on a South Korean news channel. He added that he didn’t know for sure what North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was planning.

The latest threat marks an unprecedented escalation by North Korea in the standoff over its weapons program, according to security scholars and regime watchers, who warned of potentially dire consequences.

“If such a test occurred without warning, planes could fall from the sky as their electronics fail. Even satellites in low-Earth orbit could be affected. The environmental effects on the ocean and its fishing resources would also be serious,” said Morris Jones, a space analyst, writing for Australia’s Lowy Institute for International Policy.

Russia and Germany expressed deep concern Friday over the escalation of tensions around the Korean Peninsula and called for a diplomatic solution.

“We are deeply disturbed in Moscow over the escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula tied with the exchange of sufficiently rude and threatening statements,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Russian news agencies reported.

“Moscow is calling on all interested sides to restrain themselves so as to not provoke escalation further,” Mr. Peskov said.

Steffen Seibert, spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, also condemned North Korea’s latest threat.

“The [international] community of states has already agreed in the ’60s not to carry out any more atmospheric nuclear tests,” Mr. Seibert said Friday. “If this previously existing unity would be now broken, this would be a new outrageous escalation of North Korea’s already irresponsible approach. We are calling on North Korea to immediately stop such provocations. “

Mr. Seibert reiterated Germany’s view that the crisis can only be resolved diplomatically, saying: “Anything else leads to misery.”

North Korea May Test Hydrogen Bomb Over Pacific
North Korea’s top diplomat said the country might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean in response to President Donald Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” North Korea. Photo: AP

While the North has proven its ability to conduct a nuclear blast with many times the explosive power of the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and to successfully launch a long-range missile capable of reaching deep into the continental U.S., it has yet to marry those two technologies.

The threat to detonate a nuclear weapon over the Pacific suggests the North is prepared to cross that threshold, though experts say it isn’t clear if Pyongyang would succeed—or if the U.S. would try to shoot down such a missile.

Indeed, the threat was so extreme that some security experts doubted Pyongyang would go through with it. An atmospheric nuclear detonation would be the first since China’s test of a hydrogen bomb on Oct. 16, 1980. All six of North Korea’s nuclear tests have been underground, the first in 2006 and the most recent on Sept. 3 this year.

“It would be tremendously escalatory to shoot a nuclear-armed missile over Japan and conduct the first aboveground nuclear explosion in decades,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “North Korean sanctions and isolation would be ratcheted up to unprecedented levels.”

The threat didn’t necessarily commit the North to firing a missile. Nuclear and missile experts said it would also be possible for the North to follow through on its promise by loading a nuclear device onto a ship and detonating it in the ocean.

But firing a hydrogen bomb-tipped missile—assuming North Korea has perfected such sophisticated technology—would likely be the most dramatic message the North could send, and one that is likely to cause concern about radiation and of an escalatory U.S. response that could plunge the region into war.

“I’m afraid that, for the first time, the U.S. and North Korea have beliefs about what makes for effective coercion that requires each side to engage in antagonistic friction—to be offensive,” said Van Jackson, a defense and strategy specialist at Victoria University in New Zealand who focuses on North Korea.

Around the Korean peninsula, American leaders have been openly discussing what was once unthinkable: A military intervention in North Korea. If this were to happen, here’s how specialists on North Korean security see things playing out. Graphic: Sharon Shi for The Wall Street Journal

“The U.S. has plenty of moves to respond—they just all invite a conflict, at which point we have to worry most about nuclear use and Chinese intervention.”

Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!

On Friday, Mr. Trump tweeted: “Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn’t mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!”

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Friday in response to the North Korean threat that “the situation is quite complicated and grave,” calling on all sides to exercise restraint.

“Only when the relevant parties shoulder their responsibility and meet each other halfway can we really solve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue,” Mr. Lu said.

Russia, together with China, presented a proposal in July that would see the country freeze its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for a freeze on military exercises by the U.S. and South Korea. The U.S. has rejected the proposal, pointing to North Korea’s repeated violations of international law and U.N. resolutions with its nuclear and missile tests.

Mr. Peskov said giving up on a diplomatic solution to the problem could have “catastrophic consequences.”

Japan’s top government spokesman said Friday it was “completely unacceptable” that North Korea was threatening regional security.

There is a possibility that an atmospheric nuclear test could fail, which Mr. Easley worried “would unnecessarily embarrass the Kim regime when it has other technical means for advancing its weapons”—potentially prompting other shows of strength from Pyongyang.

All of that comes amid signs that the standoff between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim is becoming more personal. The U.S. president has twice referred to Mr. Kim as “Rocket Man” in the past week.

Just hours before Mr. Ri warned of a hydrogen bomb detonation, Mr. Kim issued an unprecedented first-person statement through North Korean state media to call Mr. Trump a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” and a “gangster fond of playing with fire.”

Write to Jonathan Cheng at


SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has long cultivated an image of defiant belligerence, punctuating its propaganda and diplomacy with colorful threats, insults and bluffs. But Kim Jong-un’s personal statement released on Friday, and his foreign minister’s threat to test a nuclear weapon over the Pacific Ocean, represent a new level of brinkmanship by the government.

Speaking in the first person in his statement, Mr. Kim called Mr. Trump a “frightened dog” and a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.” Saying he was personally insulted by Mr. Trump’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly threatening to “totally destroy” North Korea, Mr. Kim vowed to take the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.”

Shortly after the North’s state-run news agency KCNA carried Mr. Kim’s statement, his foreign minister, Ri Yong-ho, delivered prepared remarks to reporters outside his hotel in New York, saying it was up to Mr. Kim to decide what to do, but that North Korea might conduct the “biggest ever hydrogen bomb test in the Pacific.”

Mr. Ri could not have made such an alarming comment without approval from Mr. Kim, although analysts doubt whether North Korea has the technology or political daring to conduct an atmospheric nuclear test, which the world has not seen for decades.

Mr. Trump responded on Friday with some name-calling of his own. On Twitter, the president referred to Mr. Kim as “obviously a madman.”

Read the rest:


Iran Accuses U.S. of Sabotaging Nuclear Deal Ahead of U.N. Talks

September 18, 2017

Comments by Iranian Vice President escalates clash with Washington ahead of talks

Image may contain: 3 people
Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi accused the U.S. of violating the spirit and letter of the 2015 nuclear deal in a speech at the annual conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna on Monday. PHOTO: RONALD ZAK/ASSOCIATED PRESS

VIENNA—Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi on Monday accused the U.S. of violating the spirit and letter of the 2015 nuclear deal, escalating a clash between the two countries at the start of a crucial week of talks on the accord’s future.

President Donald Trump has said he expects not to certify Iran’s compliance with the accord when a decision comes due next month, a move that could unravel the agreement.  Failure to certify the accord would give Congress an opportunity to decide whether to re-impose U.S. sanctions that were suspended as part of the 2015 deal.

Speaking in Vienna at the annual conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which oversees Iran’s compliance with the accord, Mr. Salehi said Iran is complying fully with the 2015 agreement. Under the pact, Tehran significantly reduced its nuclear program.

“The American administration’s overtly hostile attitude and actual foot-dragging policies and measures aim at undermining the nuclear deal and blocking Iran’s legitimate benefits from its full implementation,” said Mr. Salehi, who also heads Iran’s atomic agency. That is “contrary to the letter and spirit of the” nuclear deal.

Mr. Salehi’s comments took place as world leaders gather in New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly. A meeting of foreign ministers from Iran and the six countries that negotiated the agreement is planned for Wednesday in New York.  If  the U.S. and Iranian officials both attend, that would be the highest level meeting between the two countries since Mr. Trump took office.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also expected to discuss the agreement when he meets Mr. Trump later Monday. Both leaders have fiercely criticized the deal.

nuclear deal, who steers Iran’s foreign policy decisions, on Sunday warned that any “wrong move by domineering powers” on the 2015 accord would draw an Iranian response.

The United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York this week will be dominated by international concern about North Korea after the country fired a missile over Japan again last week. WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib tells us what to watch out for during the meetings. Photo: Getty

Iran has complained that the U.S. is undercutting the accord by increasing sanctions on Iran and by pressing international partners not to do business with Iran. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said while Iran may be in “technical compliance” with the accord, it has violated the spirit of the accord through its missile tests, support for terrorism and its regional actions in Syria and Yemen.

So far, the body that oversees implementation of the agreement has said all sides are complying. That body, which comprises of senior officials from the countries who negotiated the deal, is set to meet again Tuesday in New York.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, also speaking in Vienna, again pressed the IAEA to step up its oversight of Iran’s activities. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said last month, following a visit to the IAEA, that there were hundreds of sites in Iran where suspicious activities were taking place.

She said the U.S. “strongly encourages the IAEA to exercise its full authorities to verify Iran’s adherence to each and every nuclear commitments under the” agreement. “We will not accept a weakly enforced or inadequately monitored deal.”

The American administration’s overtly hostile attitude and actual foot-dragging policies and measures aim at undermining the nuclear deal and blocking Iran’s legitimate benefits from its full implementation.

—Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi

U.S. officials have also expressed concern about the agreement’s terms, specifically the expiry of key constraints on Iran’s nuclear activities from the middle of the next decade. Critics of the deal say that could open a pathway over time for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

Washington has been pressing European governments to adopt a more aggressive stance against Iran, both over the nuclear accord and on Tehran’s other actions. European officials have said they support the current agreement.

IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano reiterated in his remarks on Monday that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitment under the deal.

Mr. Amano was re-elected unopposed to lead the agency for a third term on Monday, until late 2021.

The former Japanese diplomat, 70, has steered the IAEA during one of its most turbulent periods since 2009. He was in charge during the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan in 2011 and as North Korea expanded its nuclear program and expelled IAEA inspectors.

Write to Laurence Norman at


Islamic republic’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei


No automatic alt text available.



Is Iran the new North Korea? Not even close

September 17, 2017

Israel is alarmed about Iran’s intentions — but that’s nothing new. Flawed as it is, the nuclear deal is holding

By Steven A. Cook

Is Iran the new North Korea? Not even close

Image may contain: 1 person, beard and hat

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Credit: Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

Last Monday, the Washington Post ran a short article headlined “Israeli Official: Netanyahu Must Push Trump to End Iran Deal,” which covered remarks made by Yisrael Katz, Israel’s minister of intelligence and strategic affairs, at a conference near Tel Aviv. Perhaps signaling what to expect when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travels to New York this week to attend the UN General Assembly, Katz advised his boss to press President Donald Trump to alter or walk away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as “the Iran nuclear deal.”

According to the story, Katz used the North Korea crisis to make the case that the JCPOA is defective and in the process declared that “Iran is the new North Korea.” That Israel’s leaders are counseling the Trump administration to change or bust the Iran deal is hardly news. They spent the better part of President Barack Obama’s second term in office lobbying against the diplomacy that led to the deal and then working to undermine the JCPOA after it became a fact of life.

No automatic alt text available.

It is also not exactly news that the Israelis have legitimate reasons to be concerned. The Iranians routinely threaten Israel and seemed determined to develop nuclear technology, at least until the JCPOA. Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist group, functions as an Iranian expeditionary force fighting in Syria, Iraq, and even Afghanistan, and has tens of thousands of rockets that can reach every part of Israel. This is particularly troublesome for the Israelis on two levels. First, there is the obvious specter of mass civilian casualties and infrastructure damage that those rockets can do to Israel. Second, the combination of a nuclearized Iran and a well-armed Hezbollah greatly diminishes Israel’s freedom of action to pursue its interests.

Since the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, the Israelis have acted with impunity around the Middle East as they saw fit. It has not always worked out well, but that’s beside the point. Israel faced few constraints when it decided to bomb Iraq’s nuclear facilities in 1981, invade Lebanon in 1982 and take out a Syrian nuclear facility in 2007. The combination of Iranian nuclear weapons plus Hezbollah, which represents Iran’s second-strike capability, severely compromises Israel’s ability to respond to threats. Yet while Katz’s alarm about Iran’s nuclear program is well grounded, his logic seems less so.

One could argue that North Korea now poses such a threat to South Korean, Japanese and American interests in East Asia precisely because there is no similar agreement to keep a lid on Pyongyang’s nuclear program as the JCPOA is presently constraining Iran’s nuclear program (though not Tehran’s capacity to make mischief in other ways). There was, of course, the 1994 “Agreed Framework,” under which the North Koreans agreed to halt the development of nuclear reactors that were believed to be part of their proliferation efforts, in exchange for reactors that could not be used for those purposes and for fuel oil. It worked for a while, but the combination of North Korean missile tests and a policy review in 2002 by the Bush administration that found the North Koreans to be cheating led to the end of the agreement. If Katz was making the argument that the JCPOA will eventually go the way of the Agreed Framework, he may have a case. But he is getting ahead of himself.

Debate over the JCPOA in Washington is typically polarized. Opponents claim that it is so deeply flawed that it was bankrupt from the start. The Iranians, they argue, have no intention of permanently mothballing their drive to develop nuclear technology. Iran hawks point out the acceleration of Iran’s missile development (not addressed in JCPOA, but subject to sanctions) as evidence of Tehran’s malign intent and continuing threat. The consolidation of Iran’s power and influence around the region — including of course the arming of Hezbollah — suggests that Iran is a bad actor that is not to be trusted.

Iran doves respond that there was no other way to arrest Iran’s nuclear development; that Tehran would be closer to nukes today if not for the JCPOA; that the deal gives the United States, Europe and Israel some breathing room for additional diplomacy and development of counter-measures, if necessary; and that bringing Iran in from the cold will improve regional security, obviating the need for Tehran (or anyone else) to possess nuclear weapons. This last point is based on an underlying logic of the deal, which bets that Iran will become a different country in the decade before the restrictions on its nuclear program are scheduled to come to an end.

Both camps make compelling arguments, creating a lot of ambivalence in between. It is unclear what the Trump administration is going to do, but it has now twice certified that Iran is upholding its commitments as outlined in the JCPOA, thus holding off on new sanctions. Although there has been a lot of tough rhetoric about Iran inside the Beltway recently, there is also a fair amount of support in favor of the status quo. These folks are supporters of the JCPOA by default. They regard the deal as a fact of life, even if it is flawed in certain and important respects, and fear that walking away would permit the Iranians to move forward with nuclear development under far fewer constraints than those imposed upon them under the JCPOA. That’s where Yisrael Katz’s logic in declaring Iran the new North Korea runs off the rails.

Kim Jong Un has a bomb, but Ayatollah Ali Khamenei does not. What is the difference between them? There is no broad multilateral agreement specifically targeting North Korea’s nuclear program like the one in place that seeks to prevent Iran’s proliferation. Maybe the history of the Agreed Framework proves that North Korea is immune to these kinds of efforts. Its leadership has demonstrated a willingness to let its people suffer enormously in the service of the regime’s goals. The Iranian leadership has also inflicted pain on that nation’s citizens, but they have also demonstrated that they are susceptible to both international pressure and incentives to freeze the Iranian nuclear program. It may be that Iran, like North Korea, is determined to obtain nuclear weapons no matter what, but so far, at least, Tehran is not following Pyongyang’s example. That does not mean that there is great reason to trust the Iranians, but it is exactly why the Iran nuclear deal, with its elaborate mechanisms for verification, is so important.

Steven A. Cook is the Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. His new book, “False Dawn: Protest, Democracy, and Violence in the New Middle East,” was recently published by Oxford University Press.


No automatic alt text available.



Kremlin Calls North Korea’s Latest Missile Launch Another ‘Provocation’

September 15, 2017

MOSCOW — The Kremlin said on Friday that North Korea’s latest missile test was part of a series of unacceptable provocations and that the United Nations Security Council was united in believing such launches should not be taking place.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made the comments to reporters on a conference call after Pyongyang fired a missile that flew over Japan’s northern Hokkaido far out into the Pacific Ocean on Friday, deepening tension after its recent test of its most powerful nuclear bomb.

“In Russia we are deeply concerned about these provocative launches which are further stoking tensions. Clearly demonstrating that our position is that such launches are unacceptable is the most tangible thing we can do right now,” said Peskov.

“Judging by the United Nations’ Security Council, that is a unanimous point of view which unites Security Council members.”

Peskov also said that President Vladimir Putin was expected to attend the Zapad-2017 military exercises on Monday and would observe the war games from a command center near St Petersburg.

The war games have stirred unease in some countries because Russian troops and military hardware will be training inside Belarus, a Russian ally which borders Ukraine as well as NATO member states Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.

Peskov said that Putin had held a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron earlier on Friday. He did not provide further details.

(Reporting by Masha Tsvetkova/Polina Devitt; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

North Korea fires second missile over Japan as US tells China and Russia to take ‘direct action’ – latest news

September 15, 2017

North Korea has fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan before landing in the northern Pacific Ocean.

It was the second aggressive test-flight over the territory of the close US ally in less than a month and it followed the sixth and most powerful nuclear test by North Korea to date on September 3.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile travelled about 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) while reaching a maximum height of 770 kilometers (478 miles).

Unnerving alert sirens ring out in Japan in response to North Korea's missile launch
Unnerving alert sirens ring out in Japan in response to North Korea’s missile launch


The missile, launched from Sunan, the site of Pyongyang’s international airport, flew farther than any other missile North Korea has fired. The distance it flew is slightly greater than between the North Korean capital and the American air base in Guam.

It was “the furthest overground any of their ballistic missiles has ever travelled”, Joseph Dempsey of the International Institute for Strategic Studies said on Twitter.

This is the intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 l that was launched on August 29 by North Korea
This is the intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 l that was launched on August 29 by North Korea CREDIT: AFP

Physicist David Wright, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, added: “North Korea demonstrated that it could reach Guam with this missile, although the payload the missile was carrying is not known” and its accuracy was in doubt.

Sirens sounded and alerts were issued in Japan as residents were warned to take shelter while the missile passed over Hoakkaido.

“We can never tolerate that North Korea trampled on the international community’s strong, united resolve toward peace that has been shown in UN resolutions and went ahead again with this outrageous act,” Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, said.

Jim Mattis, US Defence Secretary, called the latest missile launch a reckless act and “put millions of Japanese in duck and cover”.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson urged China and Russia to do more to rein in North Korea.

“China and Russia must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own,” Mr Tillerson said in a statement.

In response to the launch, South Korea’s military immediately carried out a ballistic missile drill of its own, the defence ministry said, adding it took place while the North’s rocket was still airborne.

Image may contain: cloud, sky, outdoor and nature
A South Korean Hyunmoo-II missile is fired toward the East Sea in response to the latest North Korean missile test CREDIT: EPA

One Hyunmu missile travelled 250 kilometres into the East Sea, Korea’s name for the Sea of Japan – a trajectory intentionally chosen to represent the distance to the launch site at Sunan, near Pyongyang’s airport, it added.

But embarrassingly, another failed soon after being fired.

President Moon Jae-In told an emergency meeting of Seoul’s national security council that dialogue with the North was “impossible in a situation like this”, adding that the South had the power to destroy it.

In New York, the Security Council called an emergency meeting for later on Friday

North Korea last month used the airport to fire a Hwasong-12 intermediate range missile that flew over northern Japan.

Pedestrians walk under a large-scale monitor displaying the flying course of a North Korean ballistic missile flying over Japan
Pedestrians walk under a large-scale monitor displaying the flying course of a North Korean ballistic missile flying over Japan  CREDIT: EPA

The North then declared it a “meaningful prelude” to containing the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam and the start of more ballistic missile launches toward the Pacific Ocean.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga denounced North Korea’s latest launch, saying he was conveying “strong anger” on behalf of the Japanese people.

Mr Suga said Japan “will not tolerate the repeated and excessive provocations.”

Auto update


Boris Johnson urged united response to North Korea’s latest missile test

The latest missile launch by North Korea must be met with a united international response, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has urged.

Mr Johnson condemned the test as “illegal” and the latest sign of “provocation” from Pyongyang.

“Yet another illegal missile launch by North Korea. UK and international community will stand together in the face of these provocations,” he said on Twitter.

In a subsequent statement, he added: “The UK and the international community have condemned the aggressive and illegal actions of the North Korean regime, and the succession of missile and nuclear tests. We stand firmly by Japan and our other international partners.

“We are working to mobilise world opinion with the aim of achieving a diplomatic solution to the situation on the Korean peninsula.

“This week the most stringent UN sanctions regime placed on any nation in the 21st century was imposed on North Korea, after being unanimously agreed at the UN Security Council.

“These measures now need to be robustly enforced. We urge all states to play their part in changing the course North Korea is taking.”

Yet another illegal missile launch by North Korea. UK and international community will stand together in the face of these provocations.

Before the latest launch, Mr Johnson had called for China to use its influence over North Korea to ease tensions caused by Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile development programmes.

At a press conference with US counterpart Rex Tillerson on Thursday, Mr Johnson said Pyongyang had “defied the world”.

What kinds of missile was launched by North Korea?

The missile was launched from Sunan, the location of Pyongyang’s international airport and the origin of the earlier missile that flew over Japan.

Analysts have speculated the new test was of the same intermediate-range missile launched in that earlier flight, the Hwasong-12, and was meant to show Washington that the North can hit Guam if it chose to do so.

This graphic explains what we know about North Korea’s missiles:

North Korea ‘has Guam in mind’, says Japan

Japan’s defence minister said on Friday that he believed North Korea “has Guam in mind” after its most recent missile launch, noting it had sufficient range to hit the US territory.

Pyongyang has threatened to hit the US Pacific territory with “enveloping fire,” sparking dire warnings from US President Donald Trump.

Itsunori Onodera told reporters that the latest missile, which overflew Japanese territory, flew 2,300 miles – “long enough to cover Guam”, which is 2,100 miles from North Korea.

“We cannot assume North Korea’s intention, but given what it has said, I think it has Guam in mind,” Onodera said.

He warned that “similar actions (by the North) would continue” as Pyongyang appeared to have shrugged off UN sanctions agreed earlier this week.

The US Pacific Command confirmed the launch was an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) but said it posed no threat to Guam or to the American mainland.

But, for the second time in less than a month, it overflew Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, sparking loudspeaker alerts and warnings to citizens to take cover.

See more and watch videos:

Japan urges world to unite on N Korea after latest missile

September 15, 2017
The entire international community must come together to stop the threat from North Korea, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday after the North again launched a ballistic missile over northern Japan into the Pacific Ocean. “Now is the time when the international community is required to unite against North Korea’s…

The entire international community must come together to stop the threat from North Korea, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday after the North again launched a ballistic missile over northern Japan into the Pacific Ocean.

“Now is the time when the international community is required to unite against North Korea’s provocative acts, which threaten world peace,” Abe told reporters at his office shortly after arriving back in Tokyo from a trip to India.

“We must make North Korea understand that if it continues down this road, it will not have a bright future,” he said.

The missile followed a similar course to one North Korea fired over Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido on Aug 29, but the Japanese government said it covered a distance of around 3,700 kilometers, the longest of any North Korean missile test so far.

As requested by Abe, the U.N. Security Council has decided to hold an emergency session later in the day, said Ethiopia, president of the 15-member council for the month of September.

Friday’s launch follows the Security Council’s adoption this week of a new sanctions resolution with tougher measures against North Korea, including moves against its trade in oil and petroleum products, in the wake of a sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3.

Pyongyang has said that the test was of a hydrogen bomb that can be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Abe is set to call for the international community to unite in putting pressure on North Korea when he attends the U.N. General Assembly’s general debate in New York next week.

Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said he agreed with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to start making arrangements to hold trilateral talks, including South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung Wha, on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

Kono told reporters that he confirmed with Tillerson during their telephone talks Friday that Japan, the United States and South Korea will work closely for U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang to be “completely” implemented by all nations.

The latest missile launch is a “strong challenge to the international community,” Kono said. “We will put maximum pressure on North Korea and we want (the country) to come to the table for talks after showing a clear commitment to denuclearization.”

Later in the day, Kono said he also held a telephone conversation with Kang and they shared the view that now is the “time for pressure” on North Korea.

Earlier Friday, the Japanese government’s top spokesman said Tokyo had lodged a protest with North Korea over the launch, which set off evacuation alerts over a wide area.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference the missile was launched at around 6:57 a.m. Japan time from a western coastal area of North Korea, before passing over Hokkaido around 7:06 a.m.

Having reached a maximum altitude of 800 km, it landed in the Pacific Ocean about 2,200 km east of Cape Erimo at around 7:16 a.m., Suga said.

Suga said the missile did not appear to have been launched on the especially steep “lofted” trajectories common to previous launches of ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said the missile could have been an intermediate-range Hwasong-12 type and would have reached the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam if fired in that direction.

Onodera also told reporters that he held telephone talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and they confirmed Tokyo and Washington will continue to put “visible” pressure on North Korea.

The government’s J-Alert emergency warning system went off in Hokkaido and 11 other prefectures, the same areas as for the Aug. 29 launch, warning residents to take shelter inside sturdy buildings or underground.

As in previous launches, parts of Japan’s railway system in the affected areas temporarily ground to a halt.

Suga said the government has not received any reports of damage from aircraft or ships around Japan.

He defended Japan’s decision not to try to shoot down the missile, saying the Self-Defense Forces had been monitoring it since the launch and judged it would not land on Japanese territory.

Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, meanwhile, suggested the response by the international community to North Korea so far — applying progressively stricter U.N. sanctions — may no longer be enough to combat the threat from Pyongyang.

“In a situation in which (North Korea) has been completely ignoring the repeated sanctions resolutions, perhaps the way we’ve been doing things until now hasn’t had enough of an effect,” Aso, who doubles as finance minister, said after a cabinet meeting.


North Korea Fires Missile in Defiance of U.N. Sanctions — “No question” North Korea can now hit Guam

September 15, 2017

Missile fired early Friday passed over Hokkaido; no damage or injuries immediately reported

Image may contain: sky and outdoor

Graphics and Video
What a War With North Korea Might Look Like
Around the Korean peninsula, American leaders have been openly discussing what was once unthinkable: A military intervention in North Korea. If this were to happen, here’s how specialists on North Korean security see things playing out. Graphic: Sharon Shi for The Wall Street Journal

North Korea fired a missile over Japan early Friday local time for the second time in a month, defying rising international efforts to force it to abandon course.

In a rare move, South Korea responded to the launch by immediately conducting a simulated strike of the North Korean launch site, an air base near Pyongyang. In Japan, alerts were sent to smartphones of people living in areas where the missile was projected to pass over soon after the launch was detected. No damage or injuries were reported.

No automatic alt text available.

The latest missile launch marked Pyongyang’s latest provocation after the United Nations Security Council on Monday unanimously adopted new sanctions against North Korea.

The Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Friday at the request of the U.S. and Japan. A new violation by the North, in response to the adoption of the fresh sanctions, was anticipated, some diplomats said, raising the stakes for finding a diplomatic solution.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for the new sanctions to be fully enforced.

“We need to make North Korea understand that there is no bright future for them if they pursue this course further,” he said.

The latest missile passed over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido and landed in the Pacific Ocean shortly after 7 a.m. Japan time, a similar path to another missile launched on Aug. 29. It traveled around 2,300 miles, according to South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff, further than the roughly 1,700 miles traveled by the previous missile, highlighting the country’s progress in developing nuclear weapons that can threaten the U.S.

Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, in Pyongyang on Sept. 4.
Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader, in Pyongyang on Sept. 4. PHOTO: KCNA/REUTERS

North Korea has twice tested intercontinental-range missiles this year. The latest launch was of a shorter-range projectile that wouldn’t be able to reach the U.S. mainland. The country frequently threatens U.S. bases in the Asia-Pacific region, including a specific threat to Guam last month. Guam is about 2,100 miles south-southeast of Pyongyang.

Melissa Hanham, a senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California, said that based on initial data, the missile was likely a Hwasong-12 type device, which was also used in the Aug. 29 launch.

“They are working towards demonstrating they can hit Guam,” she said.

The U.S. Pacific Command confirmed the latest launch was of an intermediate-range ballistic missile that it said posed no threat to the U.S. mainland or Guam.

In Washington, President Donald Trump was briefed on the launch by John Kelly, his chief of staff, said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said they hoped that China would eventually back an oil embargo to get North Korea to come to the negotiating table.

Mr. Tillerson said that after the U.S. and other powers last week watered down a U.N. Security Council resolution on North Korea, including shifting from a ban on oil shipments to a cap to bring China on board, he hoped that China would decide “to take it up upon themselves to use that very powerful tool of oil supply to persuade North Korea to reconsider” its development of weapons and its approach to dialogue and negotiations in the future.

In a statement following the missile launch, Mr. Tillerson also called on Russia to crack down on the use of forced North Korean labor, which provides millions of dollars annually to the regime in Pyongyang.

On his way back to the U.S. from meetings in London, Mr. Tillerson spoke by phone with his counterparts in Seoul and Tokyo. An aide said they noted that the latest test represents the second time recently that Japan, a treaty ally of the U.S., has been directly threatened by North Korea.

The North Korean missile was the sixth to pass over Japanese territory since 1998. Japan’s Defense Ministry recently requested around $1.6 billion for new missile-defense technology in its budget for the fiscal year starting next April.

South Korea has recently been bolstering its own defense capabilities in response to North Korea’s advancing nuclear and missile tests. Seoul earlier this week held its first live-fire test of cruise missiles designed to destroy the North Korean leadership’s underground bunkers.

South Korea has also rushed the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system, called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, in the country’s southeast, speeding up an environmental assessment that had temporarily stalled the process.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in himself presided over a National Security Council meeting Friday to discuss North Korea’s continued provocations, according to the presidential office in Seoul.

At the meeting, according to his office, Mr. Moon urged that additional preparations be undertaken to counter potential electromagnetic pulse, biochemical and other attacks from North Korea. ​

In its simulated strike of the North Korean launch site on Friday, the South Korean missile flew about 155 miles off the country’s east coast, with the flight distance adjusted to match that needed to hit the launch site, according to the Defense Ministry in Seoul.

Write to Alastair Gale at and Kwanwoo Jun at

North Korea shows capability of striking Guam with missiles


SEOUL—North Korea’s ballistic missile launch on Sept. 15 showed for the first time that the U.S. island territory of Guam is well within range of Pyongyang’s arsenal.

The missile, which flew over Hokkaido, landed in the Pacific Ocean about 3,700 kilometers from its launch site in a suburb of Pyongyang, according to South Korea’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The distance from the suburb to Guam is 3,400 to 3,500 km.

Experts say the missile was most likely the Hwasong-12, the same model that North Korea fired over Hokkaido on Aug. 29.

North Korea on Aug. 9 threatened to firing intermediate ballistic missiles into sea areas near Guam, and indicated that the Hwasong-12, whose range is 4,500 to 5,000 km, would be used.

The missile that flew over Japan on Aug. 29 traveled for 2,700 km. South Korea’s National Defense Ministry reported to national assembly that North Korea shortened the flying distance of the Hwasong-12 to about half.

Experts say the two missile launches from the Sunan district in the Pyongyang suburb show that North Korea has gained confidence in its missile technologies.

“If a missile is launched from a site near the capital, it could cause serious damage (to residents) if it fails to fly properly,” said Park Won-gon, professor of international relations at the Handong Global University of South Korea. “Despite that risk, North Korea fired two missiles in a row from there. That means that the country has confidence in missile operations.”

North Korea Sends Ballistic Missile Over Japan — Ignores “Meaningless” International Sanctions

September 15, 2017

BBC News

Friday, September 15, 

A passerby looks at a TV screen reporting news about North Korea's missile launch in Tokyo, Japan, 15 SeptemberImage copyrightREUTERS
A passerby looks at a TV screen reporting news about North Korea’s missile launch in Tokyo. Reuters

North Korea has fired a ballistic missile across Japan, creating new tension in the region after its nuclear bomb test less than two weeks ago.

The missile reached an altitude of about 770km (478 miles), travelling 3,700km before landing in the sea off Hokkaido, South Korea’s military says.

It flew higher and further than one fired over Japan late last month.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his country would “never tolerate” such “dangerous provocative action”.

South Korea responded within minutes by firing two ballistic missiles into the sea in a simulated strike on the North.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also condemned the launch and the UN Security Council will meet later on Friday in New York at the request of America and Japan.

Why does this new test matter?

The launch took place from the Sunan airfield north of Pyongyang just before 07:00 local time (22:00 GMT on Thursday), South Korea’s military says.

As with the last test on 29 August, the missile flew over Japan’s northern Hokkaido island before splashing down in the Pacific Ocean. There were no immediate reports of damage to aircraft or ships.

Sirens sounded across the region and text message alerts were sent out warning people to take cover.

Comparison of missile launches over Japan
15 September 29 August
Distance travelled 3,700km (2,299 miles) 2,700km
Maximum altitude 770km 550km
Landing distance from Japan 2,200km 1,180km
Flight duration 19 minutes 32 minutes
Missile type Thought to be intermediate range missile Thought to be intermediate range Hwasong-12

Observers say it is likely to have been an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) though Japanese officials believe there is still a possibility it was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

What is so alarming about the new launch is that the US Pacific territory of Guam, which North Korea says it has plans to fire missiles towards, is 3,400km from Pyongyang, putting it within range of the latest missile.

BBC map

Sanctions on the North were tightened this week in response to its sixth nuclear test on 3 September, which reportedly involved a miniaturised hydrogen bomb that could be loaded on to a long-range missile.

How will the international community respond?

After the latest round of sanctions, it is not clear what other course of action is open to the UN Security Council.

Only on Monday, the Security Council voted unanimously to restrict oil imports and ban textile exports, in an attempt to starve the North of fuel and income for its weapons programmes.

A South Korean Hyunmoo-II missile being fired toward the East Sea, at an undisclosed location, South Korea, 15 September 2017
South Korea tested missiles in response to the North’s new launch. EPA photo

Mr Tillerson put the burden of response to the latest test on China and Russia, the North’s main economic partners.

They “must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own”, he said.

Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg described the missile launch as “another reckless breach of UN resolutions” and a “major threat to international peace and security which demands a global response”.

In South Korea, President Moon Jae-in held an emergency meeting of his national security council, where he said that dialogue with the North was “impossible in a situation like this”.

Officials have been ordered to prepare for possible North Korean chemical, biological and electromagnetic pulse attacks, a presidential spokesman said.

Why is the North acting like this?

It insists it needs a nuclear-weapons programme to ensure its survival and there has been no let-up in its fiery rhetoric.

On Thursday, it threatened to “sink Japan and turn America to ashes”.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 3, 2017.
North Korea said in early September that it had tested a “missile-ready” hydrogen bomb. Reuters

North Korea’s missile programme

How would war with North Korea unfold?
  • Pyongyang has been developing weapons, initially based on the Soviet-developed Scud, for decades
  • Conducted short and medium-range missile tests on many occasions, sometimes to mark domestic events or periods of regional tension
  • Pace of tests has increased in recent months; experts say North Korea appears to be making significant advances towards building a reliable long-range nuclear-capable weapon
  • On 3 September, North Korea said it tested a hydrogen bomb that could be miniaturised and loaded on a long-range missile

Pushing the envelope

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, BBC News, Tokyo

A missile is seen taking off from a grassy field in a burst of burning fuel and smoke
North Korea’s rocket launch last month was described by Japan as an “unprecedented threat” — KCNA

This test came as a surprise to nobody.

North Korea is steadily proceeding down the path to full ICBM capability. To do that, it needs to test-fire its projectiles – every other missile-armed nation has done the same.

It started earlier this year by firing its new longer-range Hwasong missiles into the Sea of Japan, then flew one over Hokkaido in August. Next it tested a powerful nuclear device, which it claims it can put on a missile.

Now it has tested another intermediate range missile at longer range and higher altitude.

The next step will almost certainly be a test of the Hwasong-14 ICBM over Japan and far out into the Pacific.

The aim of all this is to develop and deploy a reliable missile that can hit the mainland US.

North Korea Fires Missile Over Japan in Longest-Ever Flight

September 15, 2017

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has conducted its longest-ever test flight of a ballistic missile, sending an intermediate-range weapon hurtling over U.S. ally Japan into the northern Pacific Ocean in a launch that is both defiant and a big technological advance.

The growing frequency, power and confidence displayed by the North’s recent tests seem to confirm what governments and outside experts have long feared: North Korea is closer than ever to its goal of building a military arsenal that can viably target both U.S. troops in Asia and the U.S. homeland.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile launched Friday traveled 3,700 kilometers (2,300 miles) and reached a height of 770 kilometers (478 miles). Guam, a hub of important U.S. military assets, is 3,400 kilometers (2,112 miles) from North Korea.

U.S. Sanctions Iranians for malicious cyber activities or enabling Tehran’s nuclear program

September 14, 2017

Image result for Iran, flag, photos

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Thursday slapped sanctions on seven Iranian individuals and two entities, alleging involvement in either malicious cyber activities or enabling Tehran’s nuclear program.

The action, announced on the U.S. Treasury Department’s website, freezes any assets they may hold in the United States and prohibits U.S. individuals from doing business with them.

(Reporting by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)