Posts Tagged ‘Terminal High Altitude Area Defense’

Russian military chief criticizes U.S., Japan and South Korea for missile defense drills

December 11, 2017

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Chief of the General Staff of Russian Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, arrives for the opening ceremony of the International Army Games 2017 in Alabino, outside Moscow, Russia, July 29, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov Reuters

 

TOKYO (Reuters) – Russia’s military chief warned on Monday that military exercises by Japan, the United States and South Korea aimed at countering North Korea only raise hysteria and create more instability in the region.

Russian Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces General Valery Gerasimov, issued his warning in Tokyo as the United States, Japan and South Korea began a two-day exercise to practice tracking missiles amid rising tension over North Korea’s weapons programs.

“Carrying out military training in regions surrounding North Korea will only heighten hysteria and make the situation unstable,” Gerasimov said at the beginning of a meeting with Japanese Minister of Defence Itsunori Onodera.

This week’s exercise by the United States and its two Asian allies, in which they will share information on tracking ballistic missiles, comes just days after large-scale drills by U.S. and South Korean forces that North Korea said made the outbreak of war “an established fact”.

North Korea says its weapons programs are necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

On Nov. 29, North Korea test-fired its latest ballistic missile, which it said was its most advanced yet, capable of reaching the mainland United States.

China has also repeatedly called for the United States and South Korea to stop their exercises, which North Korea sees as preparation for an invasion.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, asked in Beijing about the latest U.S., South Korean and Japanese drills, said the situation was in a vicious cycle that if followed to a conclusion would not be in anyone’s interests.

“All relevant parties should do is still to completely, precisely and fully implement the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions toward North Korea, and do more for regional peace and stability and to get all parties back to the negotiating table. Not the opposite, mutual provocation,” Lu said.

‘IMPORTANT MEANING’

Gerasimov’s visit to Japan is the first by a senior Russian military official in seven years and follows the resumption of “two-plus-two” defense and foreign minister talks in March after Russia annexed Crimea.

Relations between Russia and Japan have been hampered for decades over the ownership of four islands north of Japan’s Hokkaido, captured by Soviet forces at the end of World War Two. Japan has declined to sign a formal peace treaty with Russia until the dispute is resolved.

Gerasimov also met Katsutoshi Kawano, the chief of staff of Japan’s Self Defence Forces.

China’s Defence Ministry said on Monday it had begun a planned joint simulated anti-missile drill with Russia in Beijing, which had “important meaning” for both countries in facing the threat from missiles. It said the exercise was not aimed at any third party.

China and Russia both oppose the development of global anti-missile systems, the ministry added in a statement.

China and Russia both oppose the deployment in South Korea of the advanced U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system.

China in particular fears the system’s powerful radar could look deep into its territory, threatening its security.

The United States and South Korea say the system is needed to defend against the threat of North Korean missiles.

It is not clear if this week’s exercise by U.S., South Korean and Japanese forces will involve the THAAD system.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina in BEIJING; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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Newly Revealed Experiment Shows How F-35 Could Help Intercept ICBMs

December 7, 2017

By Patrick Tucker
Defense One

 This Sept. 2, 2015, file photo shows an F-35 jet arriving at its new operational base at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. The U.S. and its Asia-Pacific allies are rolling out their new stealth fighter jet.

In 2014, the sensor-studded plane demonstrated an ability to track missiles, leading to a “tactically significant” improvement in targeting.

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., raised more than a few eyebrows (and drew a few rolled eyes) when he suggested in November that the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter could intercept North Korean missiles headed for the United States. Hunter cited analysis from Los Alamos National Labs and other sources, according to Inside Defense.

Turns out the F-35 may be an ICBM buster after all, or at least be helpful toward that end. On Tuesday, Northrop Grumman called a small group of journalists to its offices in Linthicum, Maryland, to show the results of a 2014 experiment conducted with the Missile Defense Agency, or MDA.

The U.S. has no foolproof way to down a North Korean ICBM. Physics says the best opportunity comes during “boost phase,” as the rocket is leaving the launch pad. But DPRK anti-aircraft defenses make it difficult for the U.S. to get a weapon close enough to do any good. That’s why the Pentagon is looking at elaborate, futuristic concepts like arming drones with missile-killing lasers.

But the F-35 is studded with sensors like no other aircraft, including the Distributed Aperture System, or DAS, a half-dozen 17-pound electro-optical and infrared sensors. These feed a helmet-mounted display that allows the pilot to effectively “see through the plane” and spot incoming aircraft and missiles.

In October 2014, Northrop and MDA launched FTX-20, an experiment to see, among other things, whether the DAS could track an enemy ICBM. They took data from the sensors, ran it through algorithms developed by Northrop and MDA’s Enterprise Sensor Lab, generated a 3D-moving picture of the missile’s trajectory, and conveyed it over the Link 16 tactical data exchange. This kind of targeting data can help cue the U.S.Navy’s anti-ballistic missile destroyers or short- and intermediate-range missile defenses like the Army’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, missile battery deployed in South Korea.

The F-35 sensors aren’t meant to replace the infrared satellitesthat detect launches, or the  sea-based X-Band Radar that can feed targeting data about missile launches to destroyers. Rather, Northrop officials said, the DAS data would help the other missile-defense gear get a targeting track on a missile more quickly, improving the odds of nailing the shot. (You also need two of them in the air for triangulation.)

“That information can go straight to the Patriot [missile system], THAAD, or anywhere else, who has communication with that platform,” John “Bama” Montgomery, a business development manager at Northrop’s ISR & Targeting Division, said on Tuesday. “You can give that information to a shooter. That shooter now has information to go and put his information in the right place. Thus the radar doesn’t have to search. It goes, ‘I know where it is; it’s right there.’

The end result is a “tactically significant” improvement in targeting, Montgomery said. Just how significant? It took several years to figure that out, and that’s one reason why the news is only being released now. “We wanted to get our understanding of how this could change the battlefield. We’ve since done a series of modeling and [simulation] events and teamed with other governmental partners and industry.”

Those numbers, he said, are classified. But: “I can tell you right now that this system, as depicted here, really does help the ballistic missile environment.”

http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2017/12/newly-revealed-experiment-shows-how-f-35-could-help-intercept-icbms/144365/

South Korea’s Moon to visit China next week

December 6, 2017

AFP

© YONHAP/AFP | This will be President Moon’s first trip to China since taking office in May
SEOUL (AFP) – South Korean President Moon Jae-In will visit China next week, his office said Wednesday, as tensions soar over Pyongyang’s growing nuclear and missile threats.Moon will make the trip just weeks after North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in defiance of multiple sets of UN sanctions, prompting Washington to press Beijing to take a tougher stance against Pyongyang.

He will arrive in Beijing next Wednesday for a four-day state visit and hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss ways “to peacefully resolve North Korea’s nuclear issue,” the South Korean presidential office said.

Pyongyang claimed it has reached nuclear statehood with the success of its missile test last week, and that it can now target the entire United States.

This will be Moon’s first trip to China since taking office in May, and comes as the two countries seek to improve ties strained by Seoul’s deployment of a US missile defence system.

The nations have been at loggerheads over the placement in South Korea of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which Seoul and Washington say is intended to defend against missile threats from nuclear-armed North Korea.

Beijing sees it as a threat to its own military capabilities. It has imposed a series of sanctions on South Korean firms and banned Chinese tour groups from going to the country in moves seen as economic retaliation.

China is South Korea’s biggest trading partner and its measures have had a big impact on some of the South’s biggest companies, including retail conglomerate Lotte — which provided a golf course used for the THAAD deployment — and auto giant Hyundai.

Pentagon evaluating U.S. West Coast missile defense sites to intercept North Korean ICBMs

December 3, 2017

SIMI VALLEY, Calif (Reuters) – The U.S. agency tasked with protecting the country from missile attacks is scouting the West Coast for places to deploy new anti-missile defenses, two Congressmen said on Saturday, as North Korea’s missile tests raise concerns about how the United States would defend itself from an attack.

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FILE PHOTO: A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor is launched during a successful intercept test, in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency. U.S. Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency/Handout via Reuters/File Photo

West Coast defenses would likely include Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-ballistic missiles, similar to those deployed in South Korea to protect against a potential North Korean attack.

The accelerated pace of North Korea’s ballistic missile testing program in 2017 and the likelihood the North Korean military could hit the U.S. mainland with a nuclear payload in the next few years has raised the pressure on the United States government to build-up missile defenses.

On Wednesday, North Korea tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can fly over 13,000 km (8,080 miles), placing Washington within target range, South Korea said on Friday.

Congressman Mike Rogers, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee and chairs the Strategic Forces Subcommittee which oversees missile defense, said the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), was aiming to install extra defenses at West Coast sites. The funding for the system does not appear in the 2018 defense budget plan indicating potential deployment is further off.

“It’s just a matter of the location, and the MDA making a recommendation as to which site meets their criteria for location, but also the environmental impact,” the Alabama Congressman and Republican told Reuters during an interview on the sidelines of the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in southern California.

When asked about the plan, MDA Deputy Director Rear Admiral Jon Hill‎ said in a statement: “The Missile Defense Agency has received no tasking to site the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense System on the West Coast.”

The MDA is a unit of the U.S. Defense Department.

Congressman Rogers did not reveal the exact locations the agency is considering but said several sites are “competing” for the missile defense installations.

FILE PHOTO: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un inspects artillery launchers ahead of a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) on April 25, 2017. KCNA/File Photo via REUTERS

Rogers and Congressman Adam Smith, a Democrat representing the 9th District of Washington, said the government was considering installing the THAAD anti-missile system made by aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Corp, at west coast sites.

The Congressmen said the number of sites that may ultimately be deployed had yet to be determined.

THAAD is a ground-based regional missile defense system designed to shoot down short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles and takes only a matter of weeks to install.

In addition to the two THAAD systems deployed in South Korea and Guam in the Pacific, the U.S. has seven other THAAD systems. While some of the existing missiles are based in Fort Bliss, Texas, the system is highly mobile and current locations are not disclosed.

A Lockheed Martin representative declined to comment on specific THAAD deployments, but added that the company “is ready to support the Missile Defense Agency and the United States government in their ballistic missile defense efforts.” He added that testing and deployment of assets is a government decision.

In July, the United States tested THAAD missile defenses and shot down a simulated, incoming intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM). The successful test adds to the credibility of the U.S. military’s missile defense program, which has come under intense scrutiny in recent years due in part to test delays and failures.

Currently, the continental United States is primarily shielded by the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD) in Alaska and California as well as the Aegis system deployed aboard U.S. Navy ships. The THAAD system has a far higher testing success rate than the GMD.

The MDA told Congress in June that it planned to deliver 52 more THAAD interceptors to the U.S. Army between October 2017 and September 2018, bringing total deliveries to 210 since May 2011.

North Korea’s latest missile test puts the U.S. capital within range, but Pyongyang still needs to prove it has mastered critical missile technology, such as re-entry, terminal stage guidance and warhead activation, South Korea said on Friday.

Reporting by Mike Stone in Simi Valley, Calif.; Editing by Chris Sanders, Michelle Price and Michael Perry

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.

Image result for s-400, photos

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

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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China Points Its Korea Rage South, Not North
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From North Korea to Iran, China Is Spreading Influence and Cash
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Shiite corridor from Tehran to Damascus)

 (John Bolton)

(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

Related:

 (Contains links to previous articles)

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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