Posts Tagged ‘Terminal High Altitude Area Defense’

US approves possible $15 billion THAAD anti-missile system sale to Saudi Arabia

October 7, 2017

Saudi Arabia has agreed to buy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system for $15 billion from the US. Long in the works, the agreement comes a day after King Salman signed a deal with Moscow.

Saudi Arabia said it would buy from US contracters 44 Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) launchers and 360 missiles, as well as fire control stations and radars. The sale can go ahead if the US Congress does not object within 30 days.

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THAAD Launcher

It is part of a $110 billion (€95 billion) arms package that President Donald Trump agreed with the Saudi kingdom during a visit in May.

“This sale furthers US national security and foreign policy interests and supports the long-term security of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region in the face of Iranian and other regional threats,” the State Department said on Friday in a statement.

Pentagon officials reportedly said they didn’t think the Russian deal would impact the longstanding defense relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh bulking up

The State Department approval has come a day after Saudi Arabia agreed to buy S-400 surface-to-air missiles from Russia, reportedly irking Washington. It also follows a similar recent sale by Moscow of the S-400 to Turkey, a NATO ally.

The memorandum of understanding the Saudi king signed with Russian President Vladimir Putin covers the production in Saudi Arabia of Russian anti-tank missiles, rocket launchers and Kalashnikov rifles.

Saudi Arabia is planning a major overhaul of its military and plans to develop a strong domestic defense industry.

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S-400

It announced earlier this year the formation of Saudi Arabian Military Industries, a state-owned company that will build and repair aircraft, drones, ground vehicles, missiles and radar systems.

The plan is to make the company one of the world’s top defense companies by 2030 and employ 40,000 people.

Balance of power

The State Department said it would advise Congress that the THAAD system would stabilize the situation in the Gulf and help defend US forces in the region from growing Iranian missile capability.

“This potential sale will substantially increase Saudi Arabia’s capability to defend itself against the growing ballistic missile threat in the region,” a statement said.

Iran has one of the biggest ballistic missile programs in the Middle East, viewing it as an essential defense against the US and others, primarily Gulf Arab states and Israel.

What is THAAD?

THAAD is one of the most capable defensive missile batteries in the US arsenal and was recently deployed by the US military in South Korea to protect against a possible North Korean strike. It has already been supplied to Saudi Arabia’s neighbors Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The main US contractors who will profit from the sale are aerospace giant Lockheed Martin’s space systems division and defense contractor Raytheon.

Reuters, AFP

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To China, The Troublemaker is South Korea — Not North Korea

September 15, 2017

Beijing treats Seoul as No. 1 threat, letting Pyongyang slide

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North Korea Fires Second Missile Over Japan
North Korea fired a missile over Japan on Sept. 15, the second time in less than a month, in a show of defiance to growing international pressure and fresh U.N sanctions. Photo: Reuters

SHANGHAI—In the months leading up to North Korea’s acceleration of missile testing, authorities in Beijing whipped up public outrage.

The main object of this indignation isn’t Pyongyang but Seoul, which has angered Beijing by deploying a U.S. missile defense system to protect itself from the North’s ire.

Beijing fears the powerful radar of the system known as Thaad, or Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, will snoop on its own missile forces. And so it has registered its anger in what looks like coordinated retaliation against South Korea involving multiple state actors. The media sets the political tone and gets the public fired up; government agencies appear behind a boycott of South Korean goods; and local officials all the way down to health and safety inspectors harass South Korea businesses.

This full-court press has been effective. This week the South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group, which provided land for the Thaad batteries, revealed plans to sell its supermarkets in China, giving up on a key market after months of official harassment. Kia car plants in China are idling as sales plummet. And hostile attitudes to South Korea among the public have translated into falling Chinese tourism to the country.

Beijing can’t seem to decide where the real threat on the Korean Peninsula resides.

Granted, for Beijing the risks of punishing South Korea fall short of the turmoil that could come from destabilizing the North. And Beijing has stepped up its sanctions on North Korea, though to date its moves come with a jungle of loopholes, which makes it hard to determine their bite. The rhetoric has been tough but the follow-through erratic.

The question is where the Korean Peninsula would be today if Beijing had leveraged all the elements of the party-state to punish Pyongyang.

In essence, the effectiveness of sanctions has been undermined by a lack of political will.

Nothing demonstrates this more than Beijing’s ambivalent attitude toward South Korea.

Economically, the two countries are entwined: China is South Korea’s largest trading partner, and the main source of its tourists; South Korea provides China with key high-tech components like semiconductors. Yet, time and again during moments of crisis, such as when a North Korean torpedo sank a South Korean navy ship in 2010, Beijing is reluctant to takes sides with its economic partner against the North.

The message this sends to Pyongyang is that, ultimately, China has its back.

It is often pointed out that it is hard for China to patrol its 880-mile border with North Korea, where smuggling blunts the force of economic sanctions. And North Korea operates as a criminal enterprise, making money out of narcotics, currency counterfeiting and human trafficking—activities that exist in an international twilight zone.

North Korea Fires Second Missile Over Japan
North Korea fired a missile over Japan on Sept. 15, the second time in less than a month, in a show of defiance to growing international pressure and fresh U.N sanctions. Photo: Reuters

But the greater challenge is political. Chinese leaders may feel humiliated and frustrated by North Korea’s nuclear tantrums, but they continue to stand by the wayward ally in the face of mounting provocations.

This sends confusing signals to an array of Chinese players that keep Pyongyang’s economy afloat—banks, state enterprises, trading companies and the regulators that control them.

Despite this absence of state-organized blowback, however, the Chinese public mood is shifting against Pyongyang. Even nationalist media are losing patience. The Global Times recently urged the government to make clear to North Korea that China would come to its defense if attacked, but if Pyongyang initiated a conflict by launching missiles that threatened the U.S., “China will stay neutral.”

Pressure for a tougher line on Pyongyang is also coming from academic quarters. Writing in Foreign Affairs magazine, Zhu Feng, the director of the Institute of International Studies at Nanjing University, says, “It is time for China to make a significant shift in its policy, once and for all.”

Beijing’s impulse is to deflect responsibility for the gathering nuclear crisis. It blames South Korea, not the North’s aggression, for Thaad. It interprets Pyongyang’s manic push for nuclear weapons as a response to U.S. hostility, never to Beijing’s own enabling coddling.

Its “freeze-for-freeze” proposal—North Korea would halt its nuclear development in return for a suspension of joint U.S.-South Korea war games—suggests an equivalence between nuclear aggression and defense. Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, calls the idea “insulting.”

Tensions between China and South Korea—which have plunged to their lowest level since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1992—greatly complicate international efforts to pressure Pyongyang into backing away from nuclear brinkmanship.

And, in an ironic way, Beijing’s punishment of South Korea points to its lack of determination to influence its socialist ally. If China can refine trade measures against South Korea to the point of keeping out lipstick, T-shirts and K-pop singers, it should be able to plug the loopholes in North Korea sanctions.

To criticism of its heavy hand against South Korean firms, China says foreign businesses are welcome in China as long as they abide by the law.

Beijing’s attempt to balance between the two Koreas puts it at odds with both domestic opinion and its aspirations to regional leadership.

Mr. Zhu, the Nanjing University academic, says that China must “reconsider its impotent and misguided policy.”

Write to Andrew Browne at andrew.browne@wsj.com

 https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-points-its-korea-rage-south-not-north-1505483487
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Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus)

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(Includes John Bolton’s Plan for Iran and the Nuclear Deal)

South Korea deploys anti-missile system as U.S. seeks tough North Korea sanctions — Trump says, “I believe that President Xi agrees with me 100 percent.”

September 7, 2017

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Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors are seen as they arrive at Seongju, South Korea, September 7, 2017. Lee Jong-hyeon – News1 via REUTERS

Reuters

By Christine Kim and Michelle Nichols

SEOUL/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – South Korean protesters clashed with thousands of police over the deployment of a defense system aimed at countering North Korean missile attacks, while China and the United States discussed options to rein in Pyongyang.

The United States wants the U.N. Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban its exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean laborers abroad, and subject leader Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

Pressure from Washington has ratcheted up since North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on Sunday. That test, along with a series of missile launches, showed Pyongyang was close to achieving its goal of developing a powerful nuclear weapon that could reach the United States.

Amid the rising tensions, Seoul installed the four remaining launchers of the U.S. anti-missile Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on a former golf course in the south early on Thursday. Two launchers had already been deployed.

More than 30 people were wounded when around 8,000 South Korean police broke up a blockade of about 300 villagers and civic groups opposed to the THAAD system deployment, fire officials said.

The decision to deploy the THAAD system has drawn strong objections from China, which believes its radar could be used to look deeply into its territory and will upset the regional security balance.

“SEE WHAT HAPPENS”

U.S. President Donald Trump has urged China, North Korea’s biggest ally and trading partner, to do more to rein in its neighbor which has pursued its missile and nuclear weapons programs in defiance of U.N. sanctions and international condemnation.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he had an executive order ready for Trump to sign that would impose sanctions on any country that trades with Pyongyang if the United Nations does not put additional sanctions on North Korea.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping committed on a phone call on Wednesday to “take further action with the goal of achieving the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”, the White House said.

“President Xi would like to do something. We’ll see whether or not he can do it. But we will not be putting up with what’s happening in North Korea,” Trump told reporters, although he offered no specifics.

“I believe that President Xi agrees with me 100 percent,” he said.

Parts of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system arrive at Seongju, South Korea, September 7, 2017. Min Gyeong-seok/News1 via REUTERS

Asked whether he was considering a military response to North Korea, Trump said: “Certainly, that’s not our first choice, but we will see what happens.”

Xi told the U.S. president during their 45-minute call that the North Korean issue must be resolved through “dialogue and consultation”.

The United States had set aside for now plans to end a U.S. trade agreement with South Korea, a senior administration official said on Wednesday. The trade issue is unrelated to North Korea but has been a source of tension between the two allies.

MOON, ABE MEET

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 South Korean President Moon Jae In (right) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe before their summit talks in Vladivostok, Russia, on Sept 7, 2017. PHOTO by EPA

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in spoke at a regional meeting in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok and agreed to try to persuade China and Russia to cut off oil to North Korea as much as possible, according to South Korean officials.

The European Union’s foreign and defense ministers will discuss further sanctions for North Korea on Thursday, the bloc’s top diplomat said ahead of a EU ministers’ meeting in the Estonian capital.

However, sanctions have so far done little to stop North Korea boosting its nuclear and missile capacity as it faces off with Trump.

China and Russia have advocated a “freeze for freeze” plan, where the United States and South Korea would stop major military exercises in exchange for North Korea halting its weapons programs, but neither side appears willing to budge.

South Korean Marines wrapped up a three-day firing drill on Thursday aimed at protecting its islands just south of the border with North Korea, while the air force will finish up a week-long drill on Friday.

North Korea says it needs to develop its weapons to defend itself against what it sees as U.S. aggression.

South Korea and the United States are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

For a graphic on nuclear North Korea, click: here

Additional reporting by Soyoung Kim in SEOUL, Michael Martina in BEIJING, Steve Holland, Eric Walsh, Jeff Mason and Jim Oliphant in WASHINGTON and Gabriela Baczynska, Robin Emmott and David Mardiste in TALLINN; Writing by Lincoln Feast; Editing by Paul Tait and Nick Macfie

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Trump says U.S. not ‘putting up with’ North Korea’s actions — “Trump considering a military response to North Korea”

September 6, 2017

By Jeff MasonMichael Martina

Reuters

Washington /BEIJING (Reuters) – President Donald Trump warned on Wednesday that the United States would no longer tolerate North Korea’s actions but said the use of military force against Pyongyang will not be his “first choice.”

In a flurry of phone calls with world leaders days after North Korea’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping committed to ”take further action with the goal of achieving the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” the White House said.

”President Xi would like to do something. We’ll see whether or not he can do it. But we will not be putting up with what’s happening in North Korea,” Trump told reporters, though he offered no specifics.

“I believe that President Xi agrees with me 100 percent,” he added.

Asked whether he was considering a military response to North Korea, Trump said: ”Certainly, that’s not our first choice, but we will see what happens.”

Xi, who has been under pressure from Trump to do more to help curb North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, told the U.S. president during their 45-minute call that the North Korean issue must be resolved through “dialogue and consultation.”

The focus on negotiations by China, North Korea’s main trading partner, contrasted with Trump’s assertions over the last few days that now was not the time for talks with North Korea while pressing instead for increased international pressure on Pyongyang.

The United States and South Korea have asked the United Nations to consider tough new sanctions on North Korea after its nuclear test on Sunday that Pyongyang said was an advanced hydrogen bomb.

Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on Wednesday that resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis was impossible with sanctions and pressure alone.

Putin met South Korea’s Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of an economic summit in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok amid mounting international concern that their neighbor plans more weapons tests, including possibly a long-range missile launch before a weekend anniversary.

Putin echoed other world leaders in denouncing North Korea’s latest nuclear bomb test on Sunday, saying Russia did not recognize its nuclear status.

“Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear program is a crude violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, undermines the non-proliferation regime and creates a threat to the security of northeastern Asia,” Putin said at a news conference.

“At the same time, it is clear that it is impossible to resolve the problem of the Korean peninsula only by sanctions and pressure,” he said.

No headway could be made without political and diplomatic tools, Putin said.

MOON SEEKS SANCTIONS

Moon, who took office this year advocating a policy of pursuing engagement with North Korea, has come under increasing pressure to take a harder line.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in shake hands during a meeting at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia September 6, 2017. Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

He has asked the United Nations to consider tough new sanctions after North Korea’s latest nuclear test.

The United States wants the Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban the country’s exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean laborers abroad and subject leader Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

Diplomats say the U.N. Security Council could also consider barring its airline.

“I ask Russia to actively cooperate as this time it is inevitable that North Korea’s oil supply should be cut at the least,” Moon told Putin, according to a readout from a South Korean official.

Putin said North Korea would not give up its nuclear program no matter how tough the sanctions.

Slideshow (9 Images)

“We too, are against North Korea developing its nuclear capabilities and condemn it, but it is worrying cutting the oil pipeline will harm the regular people, like in hospitals,” Putin said, according to the South Korean presidential official.

Russia’s exports of crude oil to North Korea were tiny at about 40,000 tonnes a year, Putin said. By comparison, China provides it with about 520,000 tonnes of crude a year, according to industry sources.

Last year, China shipped just over 96,000 tonnes of gasoline and almost 45,000 tonnes of diesel to North Korea, where it is used across the economy, from fishermen and farmers to truckers and the military.

Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May agreed in a telephone call on Tuesday that China must do more to persuade North Korea to cease its missile tests, a spokesman for May said.

‘FREEZE FOR FREEZE’

Sanctions have done little to stop North Korea boosting its nuclear and missile capacity as it faces off with Trump, who has vowed to stop it from being able to hit the U.S. mainland with a nuclear weapon.

China and Russia have advocated a “freeze for freeze” plan, where the United States and South Korea stop major military exercises in exchange for North Korea halting its weapons programs, but neither side is willing to budge.

North Korea says it needs to develop its weapons to defend itself against what it sees as U.S. aggression.

South Korea and the United States are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

China objects to both the military drills and the deployment in South Korea of an advanced U.S. missile defense system that has a radar that can see deep into Chinese territory.

South Korea’s Defence Ministry said the four remaining batteries of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system would be deployed on a golf course in the south of the country on Thursday. Two THAAD batteries have already been installed.

Additional reporting by Denis Pinchuk in VLADIVOSTOK, Soyoung Kim in SEOUL, Stephanie Nebehay in GENEVA, William Mallard and Kaori Kaneko in TOKYO, Christian Shepherd and Michael Martina in BEIJING, and Jim Oliphant in Washington; Writing by Matt Spetalnick and Lincoln Feast; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish

North Korea fires suspected land-to-ship missiles

June 8, 2017

Reuters

People watch a TV broadcast of a news report on North Korea firing what appeared to be several land-to-ship missiles off its east coast, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, June 8, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
By Ju-min Park and Soyoung Kim | SEOUL

North Korea fired what appeared to be several land-to-ship missiles off its east coast on Thursday, South Korea’s military said, a day after the South postponed full deployment of a controversial U.S. anti-missile system designed to deter a North Korean attack.

The launches, the latest in a fast-paced series of missile tests defying world pressure to rein in its weapons program, come less than a week after the United Nations Security Council passed fresh sanctions on the reclusive state.

South Korea on Wednesday said it will hold off on installing remaining components of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system that has angered North Korea’s main ally, China, amid early signs of easing tensions between the two countries.

The missiles were launched Thursday morning from the North Korean coastal city of Wonsan and flew about 200 km (124 miles), South Korea’s Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

Under third-generation leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea has been conducting missile tests at an unprecedented pace in an effort to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the mainland United States.

Compared to the different types of ballistic missiles Pyongyang has recently tested, the missiles launched on Thursday are considered to be more defensive in nature, designed to defend against threats such as enemy warships.

North Korea unveiled a number of new weapons at a massive military parade on April 15 to mark the birth anniversary of the state’s founding leader and has since tested some of them.

“What appeared to be a new type of land-to-ship missile equipped with four launching canisters was unveiled at the parade,” said Kim Dong-yub, a military expert at Kyungnam University’s Far Eastern Studies in Seoul. “I think this might be what was used today.”

THAAD DEFENSE DELAYED

Thursday’s launch is the fourth missile test by North Korea since South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office on May 10 pledging to engage in dialogue with Pyongyang. Moon says sanctions and pressure alone have failed to resolve the growing threat from the North’s advancing nuclear and missile program.

Moon had also promised to review the deployment of the THAAD system in South Korea, a decision that was made by the government of his conservative predecessor, Park Geun-hye. On Wednesday, Moon’s office said installation of four additional launchers would be halted until an assessment of the system’s impact on the environment was completed.

Two launchers of the full six-launcher THAAD battery, as well as the system’s far-reaching radar that China worries could upset the regional security balance, have already been installed at a deployment site in the southeastern city of Seongju. The elements will stay in place, South Korea said.

The introduction of the THAAD system has sparked protests in South Korea and a backlash in China against South Korean business interests.

The Global Times, published by China’s official People’s Daily, said in an editorial that no matter the outcome of the environmental study, South Korea’s announcement could reduce friction.

“Obviously, the pressure China puts on South Korea has taken effect. Seoul’s will has been shaken,” the paper said. “However, attitude is not everything. Without solving the problem of THAAD, the pain it has brought to bilateral relations will not disappear, and South Korea must swallow some of the bitter results.”

China should work with Russia on counter-measures to THAAD, the Global Times added.

There was no immediate official reaction from China to the latest missile test.

U.S. President Donald Trump has been pressing China aggressively to rein in North Korea, warning that all options, including a pre-emptive military strike, are on the table if Pyongyang persists with its nuclear and missile development.

Seoul, Tokyo and Washington were analyzing the launches for further information, officials said.

Japan’s navy and air force conducted military drills with two U.S. aircraft carriers in the Sea of Japan last week, following similar joint U.S.-South Korea exercises.

“North Korea likely wanted to show off its ability to precisely target a large warship, in relation to the joint military drills involving U.S. aircraft carriers,” Roh Jae-cheon, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman, told a media briefing.

“By testing different types of missiles, North Korea also appears to be aiming to secure the upper hand in relations with South Korea and the United States.”

The isolated country, which has conducted dozens of missile tests and tested two nuclear bombs since the beginning of 2016 in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, says the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

For graphic on North Korea’s nuclear program, click: tmsnrt.rs/2n0gd92

(Additional reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

U.S. and China United To Agree To New U.N. Sanctions for North Korea

June 3, 2017

The United Nations Security Council has expanded targeted sanctions against North Korea after its repeated missile tests in defiance of a UN resolution.

Adopted unanimously by the 15-member council, it includes a travel ban and asset freeze on more bodies and officials, including the head of Pyongyang’s overseas spying operations.

The Trump administration has warned all options on the table.

“The Security Council is sending a clear message to North Korea today: stop firing ballistic missiles or face the consequences. We have never closed the door to dialogue with North Korea. But as we have said before, all options for responding to future provocations must remain on the table,” said the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley.

The US has been pressing China to rein in its neighbour. This is the first such resolution agreed by the United States and Pyongyang’s major ally – since President Trump took office.

“China is opposed to such (missile) launches conducted by the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea). The resolution adopted by the council today has demonstrated the united position of the international community against the development of nuclear and missile programmes by the DPRK,” China’s UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi told the session.

Image result for China’s UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi, photos

China’s UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi

The measures adopted by the UN could have been agreed behind closed doors but Washington convinced China to back a public vote on the blacklist.

The US has struggled to slow North Korea’s nuclear and missile development programmes. The matter has become a security priority given Pyongyang’s vow to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland.

http://www.euronews.com/2017/06/02/us-and-china-unite-as-un-slaps-new-sanctions-on-north-korea

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U.N. expands North Korea blacklist in first U.S., China sanctions deal under Trump

June 3, 2017

Reuters

By Michelle Nichols | UNITED NATIONS

The U.N. Security Council on Friday expanded targeted sanctions against North Korea after its repeated missile tests, adopting the first such resolution agreed by the United States and Pyongyang’s only major ally China since President Donald Trump took office.

The Trump administration has been pressing China aggressively to rein in its reclusive neighbor, warning that all options are on the table if Pyongyang persists with its nuclear and missile development programs.

The United States has struggled to slow those programs, which have become a security priority given Pyongyang’s vow to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

“The United States will continue to seek a peaceful, diplomatic resolution to this situation,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council after the vote.

But she added: “Beyond diplomatic and financial consequences, the United States remains prepared to counteract North Korean aggression through other means, if necessary.”

Adding names to the U.N. blacklist – a global travel ban and asset freeze – was the minimum sanctions measures the Security Council could have taken and comes after five weeks of negotiations between Washington and Beijing.

“The Security Council is sending a clear message to North Korea today – stop firing ballistic missiles or face the consequences,” Haley said.

The resolution, adopted unanimously by the 15-member council, sanctions four entities, including the Koryo Bank and Strategic Rocket Force of the Korean People’s Army, and 14 people, including the head of Pyongyang’s overseas spying operations.

North Korea’s Koryo Bank handles overseas transactions for Office 38, a shadowy body that manages the private slush funds of the North Korean leadership, according to a South Korean government database.

‘CRITICAL WINDOW’

The United Nations Security Council vote on a resolution to expand its North Korea blacklist after the Asian state’s repeated missile tests, at the U.N. headquarters in New York, U.S., June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar

The measures adopted on Friday could have been agreed by the council’s North Korea sanctions committee behind closed doors, but Washington convinced China to back a public vote on the blacklist, amplifying the council’s unhappiness with Pyongyang’s defiance of a U.N. ban on ballistic missile launches.

The U.N. Security Council first imposed sanctions on Pyongyang in 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programs and has ratcheted up the measures in response to five nuclear tests and two long-range missile launches. North Korea is threatening a sixth nuclear test.

“There is a critical window of opportunity for the nuclear issue of the peninsula to come back to the right track of seeking a settlement through dialogue and negotiations,” Chinese U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi told the council.

“It is incumbent on all parties concerned to exercise restraint and to do more to help ease the tension and build mutual trust.”

He again proposed a simultaneous freeze of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and South Korea and the United States’ joint military exercises. Russia said the suggestion merits “serious consideration.”

Haley said: “We want a negotiated solution, but North Korea must fulfill its basic obligations by first stopping all ballistic missile launches and nuclear weapons testing and taking concrete steps toward getting rid of its nuclear weapons program.”

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the Security Council on April 28 that it needed to act before North Korea does. Just hours after the meeting – chaired by Tillerson during his first visit to the United Nations as the top U.S. diplomat – Pyongyang launched yet another ballistic missile.

‘UNFRIENDLY STEPS’

Within days the United States proposed to China that the Security Council strengthen sanctions on North Korea over its repeated missile launches. Traditionally, the United States and China have negotiated new sanctions before involving the other council members.

Pyongyang has launched several more ballistic missiles since then, including a short-range missile on Monday that landed in the sea off its east coast.

Diplomats said it appeared China was still only likely to consider additional strong new U.N. sanctions measures, such as an oil embargo, a ban on Pyongyang’s airline or tougher economic sanctions, if North Korea conducted a long-range missile launch or another nuclear test.

The last round of complex sanctions imposed by the Security Council took three months to negotiate following Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test in September. Those measures aimed to cut North Korea’s annual export revenue by a quarter.

China has also been infuriated by the U.S. deployment of an advanced Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea, saying it was a threat to its security and would do nothing to ease tension with Pyongyang.

Security Council veto power Russia backed the U.N. measures on Friday. Moscow’s support had been unclear after the United States imposed its own sanctions on Thursday on Russian firms for their support of North Korea’s weapons programs.

“This step is something that is very puzzling and deeply disappointing,” Deputy Russian U.N. Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov said of the U.S. sanctions amid battered U.S.-Russia relations.

“Instead of trying to work through the bilateral backlog in our work, Washington is doing exactly the opposite and undertaking unfriendly steps, which make it more difficult to normalize our dialogue and make it more difficult to cooperate in international affairs,” he told the Security Council.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday voiced support for the unanimous U.N decision and called on North Korea to refrain from repeated nuclear tests and missile launches.

The United States is encouraged by China’s efforts to restrain North Korea, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in Singapore on Saturday, adding the threat from North Korea was “clear and present”.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Osamu Tsukimori in TOKYO; Editing by James Dalgleish and Kim Coghill)

U.S. Tests Missile-Defense System Amid North Korea Tensions

May 31, 2017

Successful test was previously scheduled but comes amid elevated concerns about Pyongyang’s nuclear program

A test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system launches Tuesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

A test of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense element of the U.S. ballistic missile defense system launches Tuesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. PHOTO: LUCY NICHOLSON/REUTERS
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Updated May 30, 2017 9:49 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—The Pentagon on Tuesday conducted a successful test of a system designed to shoot down an intercontinental ballistic missile, U.S. defense officials said, a demonstration that came amid rising tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

The successful missile-defense test marked the second U.S. military display in as many days, following a joint U.S. and South Korean exercise on Monday in which U.S. B-1B bombers flew near the Military Demarcation Line that divides North and South Korea. The Monday flyover came just hours after North Korea test-launched a short-range missile, its third launch in less than three weeks and one that it claimed was more precise than any it has fired.

Both the B-1 bomber flyover and Tuesday’s U.S. missile-defense test were previously scheduled, but have taken on an air of urgency and immediacy in light of North Korea’s continued testing of missiles and warheads with a goal of reaching the continental U.S.

South Korea conducts joint drill with US supersonic B-1B Lancer bomber (file picture) after North Korea's latest ballistic missile test

B-1 bomber flyover

The Pentagon said that in Tuesday’s test, it successfully intercepted a mock weapon launched from a site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. A U.S. “interceptor” was fired from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., interrupting the flight of the mock ICBM over the Pacific Ocean, according to defense officials.

Officials said Tuesday marked the first live-fire test on a target closely resembling the characteristic of an ICBM.

“This test demonstrates that we have a capable, credible deterrent against a very real threat,” said Vice Adm. Jim Syring, director of the Missile Defense Agency, in a statement.

Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said that while the test wasn’t timed to the current tensions in North Korea, “in a broad sense, obviously, North Korea is one of the reasons why we have this capability.” He also named Iran as a concern.

President Donald Trump has vowed that North Korea won’t achieve the capability of launching a nuclear missile able to reach the U.S. He has turned to China in a diplomatic effort to head it off, while also establishing an increasing American military presence in the region.

However, the Trump administration’s strategy of pressure and military threats has run into complications from South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in. The new leader has said he wants to seek greater engagement with the North and has questioned some of Seoul’s cooperation with Washington.

On Tuesday, Mr. Moon said he was demanding an investigation of a mobile missile-defense system known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, or Thaad, installed by the U.S. in South Korea. Mr. Moon said during the presidential campaign in the spring that he would review the process under which the previous administration agreed to install Thaad, which is fiercely opposed by China, but he appears to have softened his view amid continued North Korean missile launches.

The U.S. military said its test of a missile-defense system on Tuesday at Vandenberg Air Force base in California was successful.

The U.S. military said its test of a missile-defense system on Tuesday at Vandenberg Air Force base in California was successful. PHOTO: GENE BLEVINS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
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On Tuesday, however, Mr. Moon said that his defense ministry didn’t inform him that four more launchers had been brought into South Korea in addition to two existing ones that had been previously announced, calling the discovery “very shocking,” according to a spokesman for the presidential office.

U.S. officials didn’t respond to a request for comment on Mr. Moon’s assertion, but Capt. Davis, the Pentagon spokesman, said Tuesday that the Thaad deployment process had been “very transparent.” Similar U.S. mobile systems contain six launchers.

Separately, Mr. Moon said in a phone call with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he supported more pressure and sanctions on North Korea after the latest missile test and that “now is not the time for dialogue” with Pyongyang, according to his spokesman. The message was an apparent hardening of his position on North Korea.

Two weeks ago, Pyongyang test-fired a missile that it later called the Hwasong-12, which analysts said could fly 2,800 miles—considerably farther than its previous missiles and far enough to reach the U.S. military base on Guam. About a week later came the Polaris-2 missile, fueled by a solid rather than a liquid fuel—meaning it requires much less time to prepare for launch, giving Pyongyang more flexibility and stealth. That could pose more of a challenge to missile-defense systems.

Tuesday’s U.S. exercise tested what is known as the ground-based midcourse defense system, or GMD, one of four main antimissile system components. Others include U.S. Aegis warships, the Thaad mobile launchers and Patriot batteries.

Officials said initial indications were that the test “met its primary objective,” but that experts would more closely evaluate the system’s performance.

The test drew praise from a key lawmaker. “This is a tremendous success for Adm. Syring and his team,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s subpanel on strategic forces. “The dictator in North Korea surely understands that the United States will not allow itself or its allies to be subject to his threats.”

The U.S. now has conducted 17 tests of the ground-based missile defense system, and nine have succeeded, according to the Missile Defense Agency.

There was no immediate reaction from North Korea, but Pyongyang condemned Monday’s B-1 bomber flight by the U.S. and South Korea.

“The U.S. imperialists’ ever-more reckless military provocation clearly proves that their talk about ‘dialogue’ is nothing but hypocrisy to disarm the DPRK and their wild ambition to eliminate the DPRK with nukes remains unchanged even a bit,” it said, using the acronym for North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

North Korea accused the U.S. of staging a “nuclear-bomb-dropping drill” with the bombers, which it sees as a new provocation in addition to the presence of the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ronald Reagan, two aircraft carriers that are operating near the Korean Peninsula.

Tuesday’s missile-defense test came as Mr. Trump and his foreign policy and national security team grapple with how to counter North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s behavior.Mr. Kim has launched a series of test missiles into the Pacific, but has yet to test an intercontinental-range missile capable of reaching the continental U.S.

The last test of the ground-based system, in June 2014, was successful, but three tests before that—in July 2013, December 2010 and January 2010—all failed.

The causes of the failures, according to the missile agency, ranged from technical problems involving software and sensors to major faults such as a rocket booster failing to separate from the “kill vehicle,” the term for the part of the interceptor that zeroes in on the incoming missile, according to defense officials.

The Defense Department has logged better results from tests involving the ship-based system and Thaad launchers. A compilation earlier this year showed that, overall, the military succeeded in 75 of 92 missile-defense tests since 2001.

Write to Gordon Lubold at Gordon.Lubold@wsj.com and Jonathan Cheng at jonathan.cheng@wsj.com

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/pentagon-tests-anti-missile-system-over-pacific-ocean-1496176690

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South Korea: ROK defense ministry failed to report controversial U.S. THAAD anti-missile system increase to President Moon Jae-in’s top aides

May 31, 2017
Reuters

South Korea defense ministry ‘intentionally dropped’ THAAD units in report: Blue House

By Jack Kim | SEOUL

South Korea’s Defense Ministry “intentionally dropped” mentioning that four more launchers had been deployed for the controversial U.S. THAAD anti-missile system in a report to President Moon Jae-in’s top aides, his office said on Wednesday.

Moon has ordered a probe at the defense ministry, saying it was “very shocking” the launchers had been brought in without being reported to the new government or to the public, presidential Blue House spokesman Yoon Young-chan said on Tuesday.

The Defense Ministry intentionally omitted details about the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system battery (THAAD) in a report last week, when the new government was preparing for Moon’s summit with U.S. President Donald Trump next month, Yoon told a briefing.

“The Blue House has confirmed that the Defense Ministry has intentionally dropped the introduction of four more launchers in its report,” Yoon said.

Moon took office on May 10 without a transition period because a snap presidential election was held just two months after his predecessor, Park Geun-hye, was ousted in a corruption scandal. Moon inherited his defense minister along with the rest of his cabinet from the previous administration.

The THAAD battery was initially deployed in March in the southeastern region of Seongju with just two of its maximum load of six launchers to counter a growing North Korean missile threat.

An earlier version of the defense ministry report specified the total number of launchers being prepared for deployment and the name of the U.S. military base where the four were being kept, but the reference was removed in the final version delivered to the Blue House, Yoon said.

The Pentagon said it had been “very transparent” with South Korea’s government about THAAD deployment.

US MISSILE DEFENSE TEST

During his successful presidential campaign, Moon called for a parliamentary review of the THAAD system, the deployment of which has infuriated China, North Korea’s lone major ally. Moon had also called for more engagement and dialogue with Pyongyang.

But North Korea has conducted three ballistic missile tests since Moon took office, maintaining its accelerated pace of missile and nuclear-related activities since the beginning of last year in defiance of U.N. sanctions.

In Washington, the U.S. military said on Tuesday it had staged a successful, first-ever missile defense test involving a simulated attack by an intercontinental ballistic missile.

“The intercept of a complex, threat-representative ICBM target is an incredible accomplishment … a critical milestone for this program,” Vice Admiral Jim Syring, the director of the Missile Defense Agency, said in a statement.

Moon’s order of a probe over the THAAD deployment came amid signs of easing tensions between South Korea and China, a major trading partner.

China had been incensed over the THAAD deployment, saying it would do little to deter the missile threat from North Korea while allowing the U.S. military to use its radar to look deep into its territory and at its own missile systems.

Beijing is also troubled by the possibility the THAAD system would open the door to a wider deployment the U.S. missile defense systems, possibly in Japan and elsewhere, military analysts say.

South Korean companies have faced product boycotts and bans on Chinese tourists visiting South Korea, although China has denied discriminating against them.

(Reporting by Jack Kim; Additional reporting by Phil Stewart in Washington; Editing by Bill Tarrant)

U.S. Pacific commander visits Japanese East China Sea listening post

May 18, 2017

Reuters

Wed May 17, 2017 | 4:41pm EDT