Posts Tagged ‘Ri Yong Ho’

N. Korea foreign minister visits Beijing to meet counterpart

April 3, 2018

AFP

© AFP/File | Ri Yong Ho addresses the UN General Assembly last September: he is currently visiting Beijing as part of a diplomatic flurry

BEIJING (AFP) – North Korea’s foreign minister arrived in Beijing Tuesday for talks with his counterpart, a week after Pyongyang’s leader Kim Jong Un made a surprise trip to China before planned summits with the US and South Korean presidents.The latest visit, disclosed by China’s foreign ministry, is part of a flurry of diplomacy that has eased regional tensions after months of bellicose rhetoric between the United States and North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman did not say when Foreign Minister Wang Yi would meet North Korea’s Ri Yong Ho.

The spokesman, Geng Shuang, indicated that the visit would be short. Wang is scheduled to be in Russia on Wednesday.

“Details on the meeting will be provided in a timely manner,” Geng said.

North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said Ri was heading a government delegation that left on Tuesday for a conference of foreign ministers of the Non-Aligned Movement in Azerbaijan.

Ri will also visit Russia and other former Soviet states.

Kim last week met President Xi Jinping on his first trip abroad since inheriting power from his father Kim Jong Il in December 2011.

China is the North’s only significant ally and trade partner, but ties had cooled since it began enforcing UN sanctions aimed at curbing its neighbour’s nuclear and missile programmes.

Kim’s secretive visit was dubbed “unofficial” but bore all the trappings of an official state occasion, with honour guards, bouquets, red carpets and meetings with most of China’s top leaders.

Kim is now due to hold a summit with South Korea’s Moon Jae-in on April 27 and a landmark meeting with US President Donald Trump is also planned — events that give both Pyongyang and Beijing new incentives to repair their strained relationship.

Wang struck a note of caution about the diplomatic flurry during a press conference with Switzerland’s visiting foreign minister.

“Of course, historical experience tells us that when the situation on the (Korean) peninsula eases and peace talks usher in the light of dawn, there are often all types of disturbances,” he said, calling on all parties to “eliminate interference” and continue dialogue.

The diplomatic thaw began during February’s Winter Olympics in South Korea, to which Kim sent athletes, cheerleaders and his sister as an envoy.

– ‘Deeply moved’ –

The North has rapidly expanded on the thaw by launching several diplomatic initiatives.

Earlier this week Kim attended a rare performance in Pyongyang by South Korean K-pop stars, shaking their hands and taking photos backstage.

Kim was “deeply moved” by the performance, state media reported, an unusual step as the authoritarian regime typically struggles to prevent any infiltration of the South’s pop culture from reaching its isolated people.

That followed a visit to Pyongyang by International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach, who said last Saturday that Kim had committed to sending teams to the Tokyo and Beijing Olympics.

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N. Korea denies sanctions prompted diplomatic thaw — “The era of preposterous lies.”

March 21, 2018

AFP

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, outdoor

SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea has broken its silence on the diplomatic thaw with Washington and Seoul, saying it is driving the “peace offensive” and rejecting suggestions that sanctions forced it to the negotiating table.

The commentary from the state-run KCNA news agency came with a rapid rapprochement on the Korean peninsula under way, after a period of heightened tensions stoked by missile and nuclear tests.

But as diplomats scurry to arrange two proposed summits — North-South talks followed by a face-to-face meet between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un — the North’s silence had raised concerns over its intentions.

The KCNA commentary late Tuesday did not directly mention the summits but noted the “dramatic atmosphere for reconciliation” with the South and “a sign of change” with the US.

It said Pyongyang’s overtures came from a position of strength, not from weakness, even as it confronts intense international pressure as well as biting economic sanctions over its nuclear weapons programme.

“The dialogue peace offensive of the DPRK is an expression of self-confidence as it has acquired everything it desires,” it said, using the North’s official name.

It also slammed hawks in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo for questioning the sincerity and motivation behind the North’s willingness to step back from the brink.

“Such rubbish as ‘result of sanctions and pressure’… spread by hostile forces is just as meaningless as a dog barking at the moon,” it said, urging “prudence” for all parties involved.

“It is really an expression of small-mindedness for the riff-raffs to spoil the atmosphere and say this or that even before the parties concerned are given a chance to study the inner thoughts of the other side and are seated at a negotiating table,” it said in typically colourful language.

 

Since floating the idea for a summit with the US, “the North has been carefully watching how the situation is developing, including the US-South Korea joint military drills, before making it public to the people”, Professor Kim Yong-hyun at Dongguk University told AFP.

The South and the US announced Tuesday a plan to resume annual joint military exercises on April 1, with its main drill shortened by a month — in an apparent conciliatory gesture over an event that infuriates the North.

Professor Yang Moo-jin of the University of North Korean Studies said the North also needs time to prepare its people for a drastic policy turnaround toward the United States.

“The North won’t confirm the two summits until dates and venues are fixed and it needs to educate its people through party cells slowly for a policy U-turn”, Yang said.

The North’s state media has not reported any public activities by Kim since March 6, when it said he held talks with South Korean envoys.

Kim learned of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s intention for an inter-Korean summit from the envoys, exchanged views and made a “satisfactory agreement,” the North’s KCNA said at that time.

Trump’s announcement earlier this month that he was willing to meet with the North’s young leader — after an invitation conveyed by envoys from the South — has triggered a flurry of diplomatic activity.

The North’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho met his counterpart from Sweden, which represents Washington’s interests in North Korea, in Stockholm over the weekend, with reports saying they discussed the release of three Americans detained in the North.

Choe Kang Il, a senior Pyongyang diplomat handling ties with the US, is currently in Finland for discussions with the retired former US ambassador to Seoul, Kathleen Stephens.

Moon on Wednesday said a three-way summit including the two Koreas and the US could be possible, depending on the outcomes of the inter-Korean and US-North Korean summits.

“We must completely resolve the issues of denuclearising the Korean Peninsula and establishing peace”, he said.

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The era of preposterous lies — Russia has no idea how nerve agents got to the UK, Syria doesn;t use chemical weapons and the sanctions didn’t make North Korea come to the table…..

China and Russia Express Pessimism About North Korean Tensions — Can’t Trust the U.S.

December 9, 2017
 Updated on 
  • Foreign minister ‘not optimistic’ about standoff with U.S.
  • North Korea says UN delegation agreed on regular communication

China expressed pessimism about bringing the North Korean standoff to a peaceful resolution, even as Kim Jong Un’s regime touted new United Nations support for “regular” talks.

Chinese Foreign Minster Wang Yi said Saturday that “the outlook is not optimistic” on the Korean Peninsula and urged both sides to end what he said was a “vicious cycle” of confrontation. Wang’s remarks — part of a broad foreign policy speech in Beijing — came hours after North Korea said that a departing UN delegation had agreed to communications to help ease tensions.

 Image may contain: 1 person
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi

Wang said there was still hope for a diplomatic solution and reiterated a Chinese proposal for both sides to build trust by suspending military drills and weapons tests. “The first step to pull the situation on the peninsula out of the current ‘black hole’ of confrontation is to create the conditions and atmosphere to restart dialogue,” Wang said.

The UN’s top official for political affairs, Undersecretary General Jeffrey Feltman, left North Korea on Saturday after a visit that sought to ease tensions over the country’s nuclear weapons program. The U.S. sent B-1B bombers to join massive aerial drills with South Korea after Kim tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach any American city.

The UN visit was part of a flurry of efforts involving countries from Canada to Germany to help facilitate talks between Kim’s regime and U.S. President Donald Trump. North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said Saturday that the visit contributed to a deeper understanding and that they agreed to communicate at “various levels.”

“The UN secretariat’s side expressed its readiness to make a contribution to the relaxation of the tension on the peninsula under the UN Charter, which stipulates the mission of the UN based on the guarantee of international peace and security,” KCNA said in it’s English-language report. The report said Feltman paid a “courtesy call” on North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho and held talks with a vice minister of foreign affairs.

Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, said by email Saturday that the delegation had a “broad policy dialogue” in Pyongyang and that the body might have further comment later.

‘Not Meaningful’

“I don’t believe this in itself is meaningful,” said Shin Beomchul, a professor at Korea National Diplomatic Academy. North Korea wanted to use the UN to gain legitimacy and get the U.S. to the negotiating table and acknowledge it as a nuclear state, he said.

The U.S. has refused to consider negotiations while Kim tests increasingly powerful nuclear bombs and lobs missiles into the sea around Japan. In an interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad said that the Trump administration would be ready for talks if North Korea renounced further nuclear or missile tests.

Any UN mediation effort would require approval from the UN Security Council, where the U.S. wields veto power. The Security Council has called for the resumption of the so-called six-party talks, which included China, Japan, Russia and South Korea and broke off in 2009.

North Korea Defies the World With Nuclear Ambitions: QuickTake

Weapons tests by North Korea have prompted the Security Council to pass two sets of sanctions blocking about 90 percent of that nation’s reported exports, including coal and seafood, as well as imports of some oil products. The KCNA report said the UN’s Feltman acknowledged the negative effect of sanctions and showed an intention to seek cooperation in keeping with body’s humanitarian mission.

Trump has sought to pressure China to rein in its ally and neighbor before it acquires a nuclear arsenal advanced enough to deter a U.S. attack. Kim said the test showed that North Korea’s nuclear program was complete because it could deliver an atomic warhead anywhere in the U.S.

While Kim hasn’t yet proven he has the technology to put a warhead on an ICBM and deliver it safely to a target, the test has put new pressure on the U.S. and its allies to find a solution. By declaring his weapons program complete, Kim may have created a path to resume negotiations from a position of strength.

“North Korea’s effort to strengthen relations with the UN is an extension of its announcement it completed its nuclear program last month in that both aim for negotiations with the U.S.,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

Wang, the Chinese foreign minister, said that all avenues must be pursued to avoid conflict.

“Hope for peace has not yet been eliminated,” Wang said. “The prospect for negotiations still exists. The choice of using force is absolutely unacceptable.”

— With assistance by Kambiz Foroohar, Gareth Allan, and Janet Ong

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-09/north-korea-says-un-expressed-willingness-to-ease-korea-tensions

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Lavrov: U.S. Threats To Withdraw From Iran Nuclear Deal Make North Korea Wary

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said U.S. threats to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran are hampering efforts to end the nuclear crisis with North Korea.

Lavrov said at a summit in Vienna on December 8 that in his talks with Pyongyang, he’s found North Korea is willing to negotiate a de-escalation of the crisis with the United States, but it has doubts about whether Washington will abide by any deal in light of what happened with Iran.

The question is “how to convince North Korea that a deal won’t be rejected in a year or two by a new American administration,” Lavrov said, according to a translation of his remarks on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

“North Korea needs security guarantees, especially when Washington is about to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal,” he said.

With both sides escalating the conflict this year through a series of missile and nuclear tests by North Korea and U.S. and South Korean military drills, Lavrov said, “now, of course, it will be more difficult to create conditions for the resumption of the dialogue.”

After a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on December 7, Lavrov had said Moscow was ready to try to mediate talks between Washington and Pyongyang at the same time he accused the United States of contributing to increased tensions.

“We know that North Korea wants foremost to discuss security guarantees with the United States. We’re ready to support, to participate in these negotiations,” Lavrov said at the time.

“We are convinced of the need to end the vicious cycle of confrontation, carelessness, and provocations.”

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and dpa

https://www.rferl.org/a/lavrov-us-threats-withdraw-iran-nuclear-deal-make-north-korea-wary-negotiating-nuclear-crisis/28906403.html

N. Korea blames US for tensions in rare UN talks

December 9, 2017

AFP

© KCNA VIS KNS/AFP | The North’s leader Kim Jong-Un has ramped up his impoverished nation’s missile and nuclear programme in recent years

SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea blamed US “nuclear blackmail” for soaring tensions over its weapons programme following rare meetings with a senior UN official, but agreed to regular communication with the organisation, state media said Saturday.Jeffrey Feltman arrived in Beijing Saturday after wrapping up a five-day visit to Pyongyang aimed at defusing the crisis, just a week after North Korea said it test-fired a new ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.

His trip — the first by a UN diplomat of his rank since 2010 — saw him meet Foreign Minister Ri Yong-Ho and vice foreign minister Pak Myong-Kuk as well as medical facilities supported by the UN, the North’s state news agency KCNA said.

“At these meetings, our side said the US policy of hostility toward the DPRK (North Korea) and its nuclear blackmail are to blame for the current tense situation on the Korean peninsula,” the report said.

It added that the North had agreed with the UN “to regularize communications through visits at various levels”.

The report did not mention any meetings with leader Kim Jong-Un, who has ramped up his impoverished nation’s missile and nuclear programme in recent years in order to achieve Pyongyang’s stated goal of developing a warhead capable of hitting the US mainland.

Feltman, the UN’s under secretary general for political affairs, visited the country just after the United States and South Korea launched their biggest-ever joint air exercise.

Pyongyang reiterated its view that these manoeuvres were a provocation on Saturday, accusing the drills of “revealing its intention to mount a surprise nuclear pre-emptive strike against the DPRK”, using the acronym for the country’s official name.

The UN Security Council has hit the isolated and impoverished North with a package of sanctions over its increasingly powerful missile and nuclear tests, which have rattled Washington and its regional allies South Korea and Japan.

Early Saturday Feltman flew to Beijing, a key transit point with the North, and left the city’s airport without speaking to reporters.

China, which is Pyongyang’s sole major diplomatic and military ally, has called on the United States to freeze military drills and North Korea to halt weapons tests to calm tensions.

The Chinese foreign ministry on Saturday published a speech from four days ago by foreign minister Wang Yi in which he warned that the Korean Peninsula “remains deeply entrenched in a vicious cycle of demonstrations of strength and confrontation.”

“The outlook is not optimistic,” Beijing’s top diplomat added.

– ‘Emotion-charged days’ –

Pyongyang ramped up already high tensions on the Korean Peninsula at the end of November when it announced it had successfully test-fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which it says brings the whole of the continental United States within range.

Analysts say it is unclear whether the missile survived re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere or could successfully deliver a warhead to its target — key technological hurdles for Pyongyang.

US President Donald Trump has engaged in months of tit-for-tat rhetoric with Kim, pejoratively dubbing him “Little Rocket Man” and a “sick puppy”.

The North on Saturday released photographs of Kim on the summit of the country’s highest peak, the fabled 2,750-metre Mount Paektu, which he climbed to ponder recent successes in his drive for nuclear weapons statehood.

State media said the young leader, who was pictured strolling across the snow covered peak sporting a heavy black coat, fur hat and buffed leather shoes, had climbed the “sublime mountain of revolution”, which is on the border with China.

Described in the fulsome language of Pyongyang’s mouthpiece as “the peerlessly illustrious commander who controls the nature”, Kim was particularly pleased with the inclement weather and used the opportunity to muse on his recent military feats.

“The respected Supreme Leader gave a familiar look for a while at the dizzy cliffs and the sea of trees,” the report said, describing him dwelling on the “emotion-charged days when he realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force without yielding even a moment”.

Mount Paektu is considered a sacred place in Korean folklore and plays a central role in the propaganda glorifying the Kim family.

Officially, Kim’s father Kim Jong-Il was born on its slopes in 1942, though independent historians say he was actually born a year earlier and in the Soviet Union, where his own father was in exile.

Russia says North Korea is ready for direct nuclear talks with the US

December 8, 2017

Sergei Lavrov, Russian foreign minister, meets Rex Tillerson, US secretary of state, in Vienna CREDIT:TASS VIA GETTY IMAGES

North Korea is open to coming to the table for direct talks with the US over its nuclear ambitions, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, told his American counterpart Rex Tillerson on Thursday.

The message was delivered to Mr Tillerson during an international conference in the Austrian capital, Vienna, but there was no immediate response from the state department which has long insisted that North Korea be willing to denuclearise as a condition for talks.

“We know that North Korea wants above all to talk to the United States about guarantees for its security. We are ready to support that, we are ready to take part in facilitating such negotiations,” Mr Lavrov said at an international conference in Vienna, according to the Interfax news agency.

“Our American colleagues, [including] Rex Tillerson, have heard this.”

Mr Lavrov’s apparent offer coincided with a meeting between Jeffrey Feltman, United Nations political affairs chief, and Ri Yong-ho, North Korean foreign minister, during the first UN trip to Pyongyang in six years.

The diplomatic overtures come amid heightened tension between the US and North Korea after the hermit kingdom tested its “most powerful” intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to date last week, claiming that it could strike the US mainland.

America and neighbouring South Korea responded with a show of force this week, conducting their largest ever joint air force drill, involving 12,000 US service members, and F-22 Raptors and F-35 stealth fighters training close to the border with the North.

Although Washington stressed that the joint operation was a routine annual exercise, North Korea warned on Wednesday that the outbreak of war had become “an established fact.”

But despite its overt bellicose statements, early indications that Pyongyang may be ready for talks with Washington initially emerged after a Russian parliamentary delegation paid a visit to the North Korean leadership from November 27 to December 1.

According to the TASS news agency, Vitaly Pashin, a member of Russia’s lower house, reported back that the North Koreans would be willing to go to the table with Moscow as a mediator between the two sides.

Pyongyang had complained to the Russian delegation about “regular external aggression” on the part of the US, using this as a justification for its latest ICBM test, he said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits a potato flour factory
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits a potato flour factory CREDIT: KCNA VIA REUTERS

The North Koreans claimed that they “had refrained from military provocations for 75 days awaiting reciprocal steps from the US, which, instead of meeting [North Korea] halfway, announced large-scale surprise military drills,” Mr Pashin said.

In the face of looming military confrontation, Washington has also reached out informally to Pyongyang over the past year through Joseph Yun, the US special representative for North Korea policy.

The North Koreans walked away from the so-called “New York channel” after US President Donald Trump threatened to ‘totally destroy’ the country in a speech to the UN general assembly in September.

But they have since indicated during a meeting of western experts and officials in Stockholm in late November that they may be open to military to military communication.

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BY  

Newsweek

North Korea is ready to talk directly to the U.S. about “guarantees for its security” after trading threats of war with President Donald Trump, Russia’s top diplomat has said.

“We are ready to take part in facilitating such negotiations,” said Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, offering the latest indication that Moscow seeks to bill itself as peace broker in the spiraling crisis around North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

The rogue state has conducted a series of tests this year to declare itself now capable of striking U.S. territory with nuclear missiles.

Read More: Russia is sending its marines on live fire drills near its North Korea border

Speaking after meeting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Vienna on Thursday, Lavrov said that he had made his American colleagues aware of Russia’s position, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reports.

Trump has regularly expressed skepticism over engaging in dialogue with North Korea and the diplomatic relationship between Washington and Pyongyang has long been limited. One of the most significant talks between the two sides occurred in 1994 against the wishes of then-President Bill Clinton, as his predecessor Jimmy Carter voluntarily visited Pyongyang to strike a deal with the regime of Kim Il Sung, grandfather of current North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Despite Trump’s rhetoric, Tillerson has vowed to continue the diplomatic effort “until the first bomb drops” and some reports suggest it may not be U.S. reluctance that is holding up the process behind the scenes.

The main U.S. negotiator with North Korea Joseph Yun now has a “broader mandate” in his calls to Pyongyang than before. A senior State Department official told Reuters last month that calls have “not been limited at all, both (in) frequency and substance.”

12_08_Lavrov_Tillerson

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attend a bilateral meeting during a ministerial council of OSCE Foreign Ministers in Vienna, Austria, December 7, 2017.RONALD ZAK/POOL/REUTERS

This report came less than a month after a North Korean official told CNN that Pyongyang is not willing to meet Washington at a negotiating table. The official did not quash the idea of diplomacy for good but said: “Before we can engage in diplomacy with the Trump administration, we want to send a clear message that the DPRK has a reliable defensive and offensive capability to counter any aggression from the United States.”

Pyongyang has repeatedly made clear that it seeks public recognition by the U.S. of its nuclear status. A summit with top U.S. officials, chaired by another nuclear power such as Russia, could create this impression better than behind-the-scenes talks.

The U.S. administration’s line on North Korea, and what the solution to the crisis around it should be, remains unclear. Late last month, following another missile test, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley called for “all countries should sever diplomatic relations with North Korea” and “cut off trade with the regime.”

http://www.newsweek.com/north-korea-wants-talk-us-trump-wont-do-it-says-moscow-742062

U.S. Defies North Korea With Drills Involving 230 Aircraft — North hints at atmospheric nuclear test of H-bomb — Potential for war “is increasing every day.”

December 4, 2017

Bloomberg

By Kanga Kong

 Updated on 

Image result for F-22 Raptor, photos

The U.S. and South Korea on Monday began a five-day joint air exercise on the Korean peninsula involving 230 aircraft and 12,000 American troops, in what North Korea has dubbed the largest-ever joint aerial drill.

North Korea, which last week launched a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile, said ahead of the Vigilant Ace 18 drills that it would consider the “highest-level hard-line countermeasure in history,” according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. It referred to a similar statement in September, which Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said may include a ground-level test of a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean.

A U.S. F-22 Raptor takes off from an air base in Gwangju on Dec. 4.

Source: Yonhap/EPA

North Korea regularly cites military drills around the peninsula as justification for its nuclear and missile-testing program. The isolated regime on Nov. 29 launched an ICBM with improved technology that can deliver a nuclear warhead anywhere in the U.S, and claimed it had completed its nuclear force.

The exercise is similar in size to previous drills, but with the inclusion of six F-22s, six F-35As and 12 F-35B fighters, according to a U.S. military statement. The U.S. and South Korea said the exercises are an annual event were aimed at ensuring peace and security on the peninsula. Yonhap News reported that the allies planned to stage simulated attacks on mock North Korean nuclear and missile targets.

Hwasong-15 missile launch on Nov. 29.

Photographer: KCNA/AFP via Getty Images

Talks Proposal

White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told Fox News on Sunday that North Korea was the greatest immediate threat to the U.S., saying that the potential for war “is increasing every day.”

H.R. McMaster

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Sen. Lindsey Graham said it’s time to start moving the families of American military personnel out of South Korea. “It’s crazy to send thousands of children to South Korea, given the provocation of North Korea,” the member of the Senate Armed Services Committee said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Meanwhile, a Russian lawmaker who recently visited Pyongyang as part of a delegation from Moscow said that North Korea is ready for talks with the U.S. as long as Russia participates as a third party, the TASS news agency reportedon Friday.

Vitaly Pashin said that before last week’s ICBM launch, North Korea had refrained from military provocations for 75 days while awaiting reciprocal steps from the U.S., according to TASS. Instead of meeting North Korea halfway, it said, the U.S. “announced large-scale surprise military drills.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-04/u-s-defies-north-korea-with-war-drills-involving-230-aircraft

Related:

North Korean Missiles Can Hit Anyplace in The World — US Defense Secretary James Mattis said

November 29, 2017

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STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • The missile went higher than any previous North Korean test
  • North Korea has tested 23 missiles in 16 tests since February

Washington (CNN) — North Korea claims to have successfully tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile, topped with a “super-large heavy warhead,” which is capable of striking the US mainland.

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The country’s state media made the announcement Wednesday, hours after leader Kim Jong Un ordered the 3 a.m. launch of the Hwasong-15 missile, which reached the highest altitude ever recorded by a North Korean missile.
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State news agency KCNA called its so-called new missile “the most powerful ICBM” and said it “meets the goal of the completion of the rocket weaponry system development.
After the launch, Kim said North Korea had “finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force,” according to KCNA.
US Defense Secretary James Mattis said earlier the missile launched demonstrated North Korea had the ability to hit “everywhere in the world.”
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The launch was the first since September, and came despite repeated warnings from President Donald Trump who told reporters at the White House after the launch that the US “will handle” the situation.
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“We will take care of it,” the President said.
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The Hwasong-15 soared 4,475 kilometers (2,800 miles) in the sky, spending 53 minutes in the air, before splashing down in waters off the coast of Japan, North Korea said. The figures tallied with estimates released by Japan and South Korea.
Trump on North Korea launch: We will handle it

 All Videos at: http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/28/politics/north-korea-missile-launch/index.html
Trump on North Korea launch: We will handle it 00:17
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Mattis, who was with Trump in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, outlined how much tougher that situation has become. The test missile, he said, went “higher, frankly, than any previous shot they have taken” and demonstrates that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un now has the ability to hit “everywhere in the world basically.”
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“The bottom line is, it’s a continued effort to build a threat — a ballistic missile threat that endangers world peace, regional peace and certainly the United States,” Mattis concluded.
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David Wright of the Union of Concerned Scientists said that if the missile hadn’t been lofted into the sky and had flown on a standard trajectory, it would have been capable of traveling 13,000 kilometers, or 8,100 miles.
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“Such a missile would have more than enough range to reach Washington, DC, and in fact any part of the continental United States,” Wright said in a statement, though he noted that range probably wouldn’t be possible if the missile were fitted with a heavy nuclear warhead.
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The missile was launched from the west part of North Korea and is likely to have landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, according to Masaki Hikida, public relations officer at Japan’s Ministry of Defense.
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The flight time would suggest that this was a major ICBM test “possibly in operational settings” and should “disabuse US officials from thinking military displays, sanctions, or threats are deterring North Korean tests,” according to Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists.
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“Today’s test proves that Pyongyang still feels able to test at will,” he told CNN, adding it also shows the Trump administration “has to get serious about deterring an atmospheric nuclear test.”
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North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho had hinted in September that Pyongyang could carry out an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific Ocean, possibly by strapping a warhead atop a missile or dropping it from an airplane.
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Condemnations

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson strongly condemned the launch and called for redoubled international pressure on Pyongyang, saying that the US “remains committed to finding a peaceful path to denuclearization.” But he added a lightly veiled warning about limited US patience.
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“Diplomatic options remain viable and open, for now,” Tillerson said.
Graham warns of war with North Korea

 http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/28/politics/north-korea-missile-launch/index.html
Graham warns of war with North Korea 01:42
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Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that, “If we have to go to war to stop this, we will. If there’s a war with North Korea it will be because North Korea brought it on itself, and we’re headed to a war if things don’t change.”
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On Wednesday, a North Korea official reiterated comments made to CNN in October that there would be no diplomacy until the country has proven its nuclear capabilities.
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The official added the two steps needed to achieve this goal were the “testing of a long-range ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile)” capable of reaching the US, followed by an above-ground nuclear detonation.
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“Before we can engage in diplomacy with the Trump administration, we want to send a clear message that the DPRK has a reliable defensive and offensive capability to counter any aggression from the United States,” the official said, referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
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Prior to today’s launch, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle had warned of devastating consequences if the US takes military action against North Korea. Pyongyang can batter Seoul with a barrage of conventional weapons, putting millions of South Koreans and more than 28,000 US troops stationed there within range.
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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, speaking from Tokyo, issued a warning of his own. The latest missile launch, he said, “significantly undermines the strong determination of the international community’s peaceful resolution of the issue.”
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International diplomacy swiftly kicked into high gear, with US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley requesting an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council with her counterparts from South Korea and Japan. That meeting is set to take place Wednesday afternoon.
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Carrots and sticks

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Meanwhile, Tillerson announced that the US and Canada will convene a meeting of nations that contribute military forces to the UN Command that supports South Korea to discuss “how the global community can counter North Korea’s threat to international peace.”
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For decades, multiple US administrations and international coalitions have tried and failed to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear program, whether they’ve used carrots or sticks. Sometimes, North Korea has taken the carrots — aid and greater access to the international system — and still continued its program.
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Sanctions, the latest round of which the US announced on November 22, seem to have made little difference in curbing North Korea’s resolve to obtain nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them.
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The Center for International and Strategic Studies, which closely monitors North Korean launches through its Beyond Parallel initiative, said historical data shows that Pyongyang is set to significantly ratchet up its testing in the first half of 2018.
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South Korea demonstrated some of its efforts to prepare for North Korean hostilities on Tuesday. The country’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the South Korean military had carried out a “precision missile strike drill” just minutes after North Korea’s launch.
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The precision missile strike matched the flight distance of the North Korean missile and landed in waters off the east coast of South Korea, effectively showing North Korea it can hit the exact location where Pyongyang launched the Hwasong-15.
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“Our army, navy and air force jointly fired three missiles (a ground-to-ground missile, a ship-to-ground missile and an air-to surface missile) and hit the same target around the similar time to show its ability to target North Korea’s origin of provocation,” said Park Soo-hyun, a spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
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Park added that Moon and Trump spoke on the phone for about 20 minutes.
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‘On hair trigger alert’

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The point, Mattis told reporters in Washington, was “to make certain North Korea understands that they could be taken under fire by our ally.”
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Mount of the Federation of American Scientists said the South Korean goal was to show the North that “it has the ability to hit the North’s mobile missile launchers or leadership targets.”
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“It is a measured and pointed response but also a reminder that the peninsula remains on hair-trigger alert,” he told CNN. “In this situation, provocations or even mistakes could quickly escalate out of control.”
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White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Twitter that Trump “was briefed, while missile was still in the air, on the situation in North Korea.”
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Mysterious 'ghost ships' wash ashore in Japan

 http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/28/politics/north-korea-missile-launch/index.html
 Mysterious ‘ghost ships’ wash ashore in Japan 01:55
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North Korea has launched missiles at an unprecedented rate in 2017, testing two in July that also demonstrated intercontinental range.
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Before Wednesday’s test, North Korea had fired 22 missiles without active warheads during 15 tests since February. US officials say North Korea is continuing to develop its missiles, rocket fuel and engines, as well as targeting and guidance systems.
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The US and South Korea believe Pyongyang may be able to put a miniaturized warhead on a missile sometime in 2018 — giving it the theoretical capability to launch a missile with a warhead atop it that could reach the US.
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It is currently testing a more advanced version of its existing ICBM, a US official told CNN earlier this month.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/28/politics/north-korea-missile-launch/index.html

See also:

North Korea Says Nuke Push Complete as Entire U.S. in Range

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-29/north-korea-says-nuclear-program-completed-after-new-icbm-test

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

November 28, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Write to Jonathan Cheng at jonathan.cheng@wsj.com

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/north-korea-fires-unidentified-missile-towards-the-eastsouth-korea-joint-chiefs-of-staff-1511895210
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Previous reports:
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North Korea Fires an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), in a Further Challenge to the U.S. and Allies — Violates United Nations Security Council Resolutions

November 28, 2017

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

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

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

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Below from The New York Times:

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

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

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

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

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

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

There was no immediate reaction from the Trump administration.

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

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

GRAPHIC

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

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

 OPEN GRAPHIC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

France Says Trump Method Not Best Way to Tackle North Korea Crisis — “At the moment we’re at a verbal clash, but there could be an incident. We need to avoid incidents.”

September 27, 2017

PARIS — France’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that Donald Trump’s verbal jousting with North Korea was perhaps not the best method to handle the nuclear crisis and urged the U.S. president to focus his attention on raising diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang.

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Bellicose statements by Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in recent weeks have created fears that a miscalculation could lead to action with untold ramifications, particularly since Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3.

“Trump’s method is perhaps not the best, but at the same time we shouldn’t mix up the responsibilities,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFM TV. “The country that is breaking with nuclear international agreements is North Korea. President Trump is reacting forcefully to this, but without a doubt there is a way to act in a different way by putting pressure and sanctions.”

Image result for Jean-Yves Le Drian, photos

Jean-Yves Le Drian, France’s foreign minister

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho on Monday accused Trump of declaring war on North Korea and threatened that Pyongyang would shoot down U.S. warplanes flying near the Korean Peninsula after American bombers flew close to it last Saturday.

The North Korean minister was reacting to Trump’s Twitter comments that Kim and Ri “won’t be around much longer” if they acted on their threats toward the United States.

Le Drian repeated that a maximum amount of pressure needed to be placed on Pyongyang to get it back to the negotiating table, but warned there was a risk of an accidental military escalation.

“The world is living in a dangerous period,” he said. “At the moment we’re at a verbal clash, but there could be an incident. We need to avoid incidents.”

(Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta)

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Ri Yong-ho at the UN with Secretary General António Guterres