Posts Tagged ‘Thaad’

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

May 18, 2017


Wed May 17, 2017 | 4:41pm EDT


South Korea’s Moon says ‘high possibility’ of conflict with North as missile crisis builds

May 17, 2017


South Korean President Moon Jae-in carries a food tray as he has lunch with technical staff of the Presidential Blue House at an employee cafeteria of the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea May 12, 2017. Yonhap via REUTERS
By Christine Kim | SEOUL

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday there was a “high possibility” of conflict with North Korea, which is pressing ahead with nuclear and missile programs it says it needs to counter U.S. aggression.

The comments came hours after the South, which hosts 28,500 U.S. troops, said it wanted to reopen a channel of dialogue with North Korea as Moon seeks a two-track policy, involving sanctions and dialogue, to try to rein in its neighbor.

North Korea has made no secret of the fact that it is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland and has ignored calls to halt its nuclear and missile programs, even from China, its lone major ally.

It conducted its latest ballistic missile launch, in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions, on Sunday which it said was a test of its capability to carry a “large-size heavy nuclear warhead”, drawing Security Council condemnation.

“The reality is that there is a high possibility of a military conflict at the NLL (Northern Limit Line) and military demarcation line,” Moon was quoted as saying by the presidential Blue House.

He also said the North’s nuclear and missile capabilities seem to have advanced rapidly recently but that the South was ready and capable of striking back should the North attack.

Image may contain: outdoor

IRBM launch from North Korea, Sunday, May 14, 2017. Image Credit Rodong Sinmun screen grab

Moon won an election last week campaigning on a more moderate approach towards the North and said after taking office that he wants to pursue dialogue as well as pressure.

But he has said the North must change its attitude of insisting on pressing ahead with its arms development before dialogue is possible.

South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Duk-haeng told reporters the government’s most basic stance is that communication lines between South and North Korea should reopen.

“The Unification Ministry has considered options on this internally but nothing has been decided yet,” said Lee.


Communications were severed by the North last year, Lee said, in the wake of new sanctions following North Korea’s fifth nuclear test and Pyongyang’s decision to shut down a joint industrial zone operated inside the North.

North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. The North defends its weapons programs as necessary to counter U.S. hostility and regularly threatens to destroy the United States.

Moon’s envoy to the United States, South Korean media mogul Hong Seok-hyun, left for Washington on Wednesday. Hong said South Korea had not yet received official word from the United States on whether Seoul should pay for an anti-missile U.S. radar system that has been deployed outside Seoul.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said he wants South Korea to pay for the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system which detected Sunday’s test launch.

China has strongly opposed THAAD, saying it can spy into its territory, and South Korean companies have been hit in China by a nationalist backlash over the deployment.

The United States said on Tuesday it believed it could persuade China to impose new U.N. sanctions on North Korea and warned that Washington would also target and “call out” countries supporting Pyongyang.

Speaking to reporters ahead of a closed-door U.N. Security Council meeting, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley also made clear that Washington would only talk to North Korea once it halted its nuclear program.

FILE PHOTO: North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) in this handout photo by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) made available on April 26, 2017. KCNA/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

As about Haley’s comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China would work hard at reducing tensions on the Korean peninsula and finding a peaceful resolution.

Trump has called for an immediate halt to North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests and U.S. Disarmament Ambassador Robert Wood said on Tuesday that China’s leverage was key and Beijing could do more.

Trump warned this month that a “major, major conflict” with North Korea was possible, and in a show of force, sent the Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group to Korean waters to conduct drills with South Korea and Japan.

The U.S. troop presence in South Korea, a legacy of the Korean War, is primarily to guard against the North Korean threat.

(Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols at the UNITED NATIONS and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Nick Macfie)

New South Korean President Opens Talks With China, Japan, U.S.

May 11, 2017


© Yonhap/AFP | South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-In talks to Chinese leader Xi Jinping, at the presidential Blue House in Seoul, on May 11, 2017


New South Korean President Moon Jae-In spoke to the leaders of China and Japan Thursday, hours after a telephone call with his US counterpart Donald Trump, officials and reports said, as he began shaping his approach to the nuclear-armed North.

In a 40-minute conversation with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the two agreed denuclearising Pyongyang was a “common goal” between them, Moon’s office said.

Ties between Seoul and Beijing have soured over the South’s deployment of a controversial US anti-missile system aimed at guarding against threats from the nuclear-armed North.

Moon also had a telephone call with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Japanese news agency Jiji reported.

Seoul is embroiled in a diplomatic dispute with former colonial power Japan over wartime history, but fellow US ally Tokyo is also targeted by the North.

China sees the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system as a threat to its own military capability and has slapped a series of measures against South Korean businesses seen as economic retaliation.

In their first phone conversation, Moon and Xi “agreed that denuclearising the Korean peninsula is the two countries’ common goal”, the South Korean president’s spokesman Yoon Young-Chan told reporters.

Moon, who took office on Wednesday, favours engagement with the North — whose key diplomatic backer is China — to bring it to the negotiating table over its nuclear and missile ambitions.

Moon also called for “dialogue along with sanctions and pressure” on the North to push Pyongyang to talks, Yoon said.

Moon has previously expressed ambivalence over the THAAD system and told Xi he was “well aware” of Chinese concerns about it, calling for bilateral talks to “increase understanding over the issue”.

The two leaders agreed to exchange special envoys “at an early date” and Moon proposed sending a separate delegation to Beijing that will “exclusively discuss the THAAD and the North’s nuclear issues”, Yoon said.

Echoing the United States’ line, Moon also suggested that China — the North’s sole major ally and economic lifeline — should do more to tame Pyongyang, saying “solving the THAAD problem would be easier if there was no more provocation by the North.”

Xi officially invited Moon to visit Beijing, Yoon added.

The phone conversation came a day after Moon and US President Donald Trump agreed on “close cooperation” in dealing with the North’s nuclear ambitions in their first conversation Wednesday night.

The North has staged two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since last year in its quest to deliver a nuclear warhead to “imperialist enemy” the US.

Tensions have been running high with Washington calling for more sanctions and warning a military option was on the table, but Trump recently softened his posture, saying he would be “honoured” to meet the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un.

The US is the South’s security guarantor and has 28,500 troops stationed in the country, but Seoul was startled when Trump suggested it should pay for the $1 billion THAAD system.

China’s missile tests in Bohai ‘aimed at THAAD in South Korea’

May 10, 2017
By Minnie Chan
South China Morning Post
Wednesday, 10 May, 2017, 2:46pm

Chinese rocket forces tested a new type of missile aimed at the country’s waters west of the Korean peninsula, the defence ministry announced in a rare public statement on Tuesday.

The statement did not say what missiles were tested or when the launches took place but the announcement was likely aimed at South Korea and the United States, observers said.

“The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force conducted tests of new types of missiles somewhere in Bohai in recent days, and achieved desired results,” the ministry said.

It said the test was designed to boost the military’s capacity to fight threats to national security.

Military analysts said the “rare high-profile announcement of the missile tests” was a response to the deployment of the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea.

The announcement comes after defence ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said last month that China would conduct live-fire drills and test new weapons to safeguard its security in response to the THAAD roll-out.

The US military began installing the first components of the system in South Korea late last month after nuclear-armed North Korea launched four missiles which it said was part of training for a strike on US bases in Japan.

Hong Kong-based military analyst Liang Guoliang said the missiles might have been launched from northwest China, probably in Xinjiang or Gansu, with the warheads landing in Bohai.

“The missiles might be launched from the northeast to the east by the Rocket Force, with a range of 2,000km or above. It was likely the advanced intermediate-range DF-26B, a modified version of the DF-26,” Liang said.

“Given the landing area, the test is obviously aimed at THAAD in South Korea.”

The DF-26B is the new generation of the Dongfeng series missiles.

Zhou Chenming, from the Knowfar Institute for Strategic and Defence Studies, a Chinese think tank, said: “The test might involve variants of new missile types, including the DF-21, DF-26 and other types of Dongfeng series missiles.”

Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said the test might also be aimed at Washington, which has sent two aircraft carrier strike groups to waters off the peninsula.

“The test missile might be a new modified DF-26A anti-ship missile launched from a marine weapons testing ground in southern Liaoning,” Wong said.

The Pentagon sent the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to the Korean peninsula to conduct naval drills with the South Korea navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force last month.

Another carrier, the Ronald Reagan, will join with it late this month, according to an earlier report from the Nikkei Asian Review.


New South Korea president vows to address North Korea, broader tensions ‘urgently’

May 10, 2017


South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-In speaks as Prime Minister nominee Lee Nak-Yon (R) listens to during a press conference at the presidential Blue House in Seoul on May 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jung Yeon-Je/Pool
By Ju-min Park and Christine Kim | SEOUL

South Korea’s new liberal President Moon Jae-in was sworn in on Wednesday and vowed to immediately tackle the difficult tasks of addressing North Korea’s advancing nuclear ambitions and soothing tensions with the United States and China.

Moon said in his first speech as president he would immediately begin efforts to defuse security tensions on the Korean peninsula and negotiate with Washington and Beijing to ease the row over a U.S. missile defense system being deployed in the South.

In his first key appointments, Moon named two liberal veterans with ties to the “Sunshine Policy” of engagement with North Korea from the 2000s to the posts of prime minister and spy chief.

Moon named Suh Hoon, a career spy agency official and a veteran of inter-Korea ties, as the head of the National Intelligence Service (NIS). Suh was instrumental in setting up two previous summits between the North and South.

Veteran liberal politician Lee Nak-yon was nominated to serve as prime minister. Now a regional governor, Lee was a political ally of the two former presidents who held the summits with the North in 2000 and 2007,

Lee’s appointment requires parliamentary approval.

Moon was expected to fill the remaining cabinet and presidential staff appointments swiftly to bring an end to a power vacuum left by the removal of Park Geun-hye in March in a corruption scandal that rocked South Korea’s business and political elite.

“I will urgently try to solve the security crisis,” Moon said in the domed rotunda hall of the parliament building. “If needed, I will fly straight to Washington. I will go to Beijing and Tokyo and, if the conditions are right, to Pyongyang also.”

Spy chief nominee Suh said Moon could go to Pyongyang if it was clear the visit would help resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis and ease military tension on the Korean peninsula.

The deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) in the South has angered China, Seoul’s major trading partner, which sees the U.S. system’s powerful radar as a threat to its security.

The issue has clouded efforts to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, and also led to recriminations by Beijing against South Korean companies.

Moon, 64, also pledged to sever what he described as the collusive ties between business and government that have plagued many of South Korea’s family-run conglomerates, known as chaebol, and vowed to be an incorruptible leader.

“I take this office empty-handed, and I will leave the office empty-handed,” Moon said.

Moon met leaders of opposition parties before his simple swearing-in ceremony at parliament and promised to coordinate better with them on national security issues.

Office workers and passersby lined the streets as Moon’s motorcade passed through central Seoul en route to the presidential Blue House from parliament.

Moon stood and waved to well-wishers through the sunroof of his limousine, which was flanked by police motorbikes and a security detail.

(For a graphic on South Korea’s election demographics, click


Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe both congratulated Moon on Wednesday. Xi said China was willing to handle disputes with South Korea “appropriately” on the basis of mutual trust and understanding.

Abe said in a statement he looked forward to working with Moon to improve bilateral relations, describing Seoul as one of Japan’s “most important regional neighbors”.

The decision by the ousted Park’s government to host the controversial THAAD system has already proved a headache for Moon as Seoul tries to walk a fine line between Washington, its closest security ally, and China.

Moon has said the decision had been made hastily and his government should have the final say on whether to deploy it.

As president, Moon must find a way to coax an increasingly belligerent North Korea to ease its nuclear and missile threats. Pyongyang has conducted its fifth nuclear test and a series of missile launches since the start of last year, ratcheting up tension on the peninsula.

Washington wants to increase pressure on Pyongyang through further isolation and sanctions, in contrast to Moon’s advocacy for greater engagement with the reclusive North.

In one of his first acts as president, Moon spoke by telephone with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Lee Sun-jin. A separate statement from Moon’s Democratic Party said he was briefed on the status of the North Korean military and South Korea’s military readiness.

Moon’s election could add volatility to relations with Washington, given his questioning of the THAAD deployment, but was not expected to change the alliance significantly, a U.S. official said.

The White House also congratulated Moon, saying it looked forward to working with him to strengthen the longstanding U.S.-South Korea alliance.

The National Election Commission confirmed Moon’s win shortly after 8 a.m. on Wednesday (7.00 p.m. ET on Tuesday).

Moon must also try to mend a society badly bruised by the corruption scandal that doomed Park’s administration.

His party lacks a majority in a divided parliament. To push through major initiatives, including creating 500,000 jobs annually and reforming the country’s powerful family-run conglomerates, he will need to forge partnerships with some of those he fought on his path to the presidency.

Moon won with 41.1 percent of the votes but that seemingly comfortable margin belied a deep ideological and generational divide in the country of 51 million people.

Data from an exit poll conducted by South Korea’s top three television networks showed that, while Moon won the majority of votes cast by those under the age of 50, conservative rival Hong Joon-pyo found strong support among voters in their 60s and 70s.

(For a graphic on South Korea’s presidential election, click

(Additional reporting by Joyce Lee, Jack Kim, Se Young Lee, Cynthia Kim and James Pearson in SEOUL, Matt Spetalnick and David Brunnstrom in WASHINGTON, Ben Blanchard in BEIJING, and Elaine Lies in TOKYO, Editing by Soyoung Kim and Paul Tait)

Is China Really Moving Away From North Korea? Or Is China is Playing Along With Donald Trump Temporarily for its Own Strategic Gains?

May 7, 2017
May 6, 2017, 2:00 AM IST
By  Nayan Chanda


Image may contain: mountain and outdoor

Asia’s l’enfant terrible North Korea seems determined to rain on Beijing’s parade. By mounting an unprecedented public criticism of its sole ally China for its “betrayal”, Pyongyang has revealed that, despite all his recent diplomatic gains, President Xi Jinping remains vulnerable.

Mao Zedong once described North Korea’s relations with China “as close as lips and teeth”, but this week with growing tensions over its nuclear and missile tests, those teeth were bared even if lips were not bitten. In a stinging editorial comment, North Korea’s official news agency warned China of grave consequences if it tried to stop the development of the country’s nuclear weapons programme. Compare this to the 1950s, when one lakh Chinese volunteers fought in Korea losing thousands of lives, including that of Chairman Mao’s own son.

Although a single editorial in a party paper does not a rupture make, this deterioration of a historic alliance could be the first tremor of a tectonic shift in Northeast Asia. If another nuclear test does not bring withering Chinese sanctions it might yet lay the ground for a palace coup in a hungry, isolated country.

The North Korean denunciation came during a week when President Xi returned from a successful US visit, witnessed the launching of the country’s second aircraft carrier, and savoured the sweet success of his aggressive policy in South China Sea. After fruitless discussions, Asean ministers meeting in Manila dropped the idea of noting China’s land reclamation and militarisation. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who had chosen to shelve disputes over South China Sea islands, went to personally welcome visiting Chinese navy ships. Coincidentally, the Trump administration also rejected plans to organise freedom of navigation sailing through South China Sea to avoid imperilling Chinese cooperation on tackling North Korea.

Against this happy backdrop, Beijing was preparing to hold its first summit of One Belt One Road project with the participation of leaders of 28 countries including Russia, Pakistan and Southeast Asian countries. The meeting, designed to show China as the unchallenged leader of a continent-wide economic and geostrategic project, suffered a knock with the North Korean claim that it “will never beg for the maintenance of friendship with China, risking its nuclear programme which is as precious as its own life.” China should “no longer try to test the limits of the DPRK’s patience” the commentary warned, reminding it of the role the frontline state played for China’s security.

To be clear, China’s relations with North Korea have been deteriorating slowly for the last five years. Pyongyang’s determined bid to acquire nuclear weapons and missiles has brought UN sanctions which China half-heartedly embraced. Its desire to protect the regime from a potential implosion and all of the unforeseen consequences that might entail has meant China routinely called for restraint by all sides while keeping its own trade lines open. It had tried to prevent South Korea from taking strong measures against the North by showering attention on Seoul and developing economic ties.

But the manoeuvre failed when a frustrated and insecure Seoul accepted US help in setting up the THAAD anti-missile defence system. Fearing that the system and its sophisticated radar would weaken China’s own missile defence programme, Beijing has mounted a campaign of intimidation against South Korea. The net result of China’s ambiguous policy has been to antagonise both Koreas and create diplomatic openings for the US and Japan. China cannot be happy to see reinforcement of the US military presence in Western Pacific and increasing military cooperation between the US and Japan (a Japanese helicopter carrier took part in an exercise for the first time) that North Korean missile tests have brought about.

But North Korea has learnt the lesson from Iraq and Libya, where leaders shorn of their nuclear and biological weapons were rapidly swept aside. However much China might wish to see Korea denuclearised, Kim Jong-un’s existential desire to survive trumps all aid and decades of friendship.

DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.
The Opposite View: What If China is Playing Along With Trump for its Own Strategic Gains?
By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
Experienced China watchers know that often times, what seems to be happening inside the Chinese leadership is just a mirage. China’s real strategy is often only known weeks, months or years after all the pundits guessed wrong.
The Trump administration should have growing concern that China is only pretending to be a real friend in the North Korean “crisis.”
After all, that “friendship” is based upon a 24 hour visit to Mar-a-Lago, Florida by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
President Trump’s glowing report on the meeting of the two leaders may be correct. President Trump said he developed a true friendship with Xi and that Xi “loves the Chinese people.”

Image may contain: 4 people, people smiling, people sitting, suit and indoor

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago state in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President George Bush, after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time in 2001, issued this glowing report:
“I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.”
China acts in the long-term. China knows North Korea as well as any nation. And China is now a peer competitor of the United States economically, militarily and in other ways. That has been the assessment of Western intelligence agencies for several years.
China is also allied with Russia. Neither are on the “U.S. side.”
Although state-run Chinese media has made a lot of noise about China helping the U.S. with North Korea, there is very little unbiased reporting that tells us that China has made any real, dramatic, policy changes that may have a chance of changing Kim Jung-un’s mind. Intelligence assessments have told us that Kim views his ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons as a guarantee of his continues existence — the the continuation of his regime.
Loss of a little coal from China is not about to change Kim’s mind.
Plus there are already reports that Russia is helping North Korea make up any supply deficits from Vladivostok.

Image may contain: ocean, water and outdoor

A combined task force of Chinese and Russian warships trained together in the western Pacific in 2016 and 2014. Reuters photo

Meanwhile, in all this talk of a “North Korea Crisis,” China has made manifest progress in the South China Sea. After Xi Jinping promised Barack Obama and John Kerry that the Chinese-built islands in the South China Sea would not be militarized, he did just that. Now China has between four and seven South China Sea air bases that can control the sea lanes and intimidate any locals.
China has already dramatically changed the balance of influence and power in the South China Sea by ignoring international law and promising whatever Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wants. The Philippines seems now to be a stong ally of China and Russia.
Vietnam also seems to be squarely if not grudgingly in the Chinese sphere. Vietnamese state run media has stopped reporting on any difficulties with China in an effort to keep the Chinese government happy. China’s island bases near Vietnam make the Vietnamese almost hostages in the event of any disputes.
Among the stongest allies of the U.S. in Asia, South Korea is now deeply divided and connected strongly to China by trade.  The South Korean election will tells us more. Japan is forging financial ties to China, “just in case.”
And the crisis with North Korea drags on with no end in sight. And a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier strike group is now “pinned down” in a watchful presence that seems to have yielded no measurable gains for the U.S.
Has Donald Trump found a way to end the North Korea nuclear program and its ultimate power to strike the U.S. with nuclear armed ballistic missiles?
Or has Donald Trump fallen into the kind of classic Chinese trap Sun Tzu talks about in his book “On War”?

Image may contain: ocean, water and outdoor

When confronted with this quote from Wang Yi by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday,  (April 30, 2017) U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said, “Well, he might want to talk to his president, who during the summit with President Trump acknowledged that this is a great threat, not just to the United States but a may be even more so to China. And I think what was most striking about the results of that summit is China’s willingness to take ownership of this problem and to recognize that they have to act to help resolve this problem, short of a military conflict.”

Image may contain: 1 person, suit

H.R. McMaster, U.S. National Security Advisor, Peace and Freedom screengrab.

No automatic alt text available.
For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law and nobody has even complained.

Image may contain: 1 person

In the “Art of War,” the ancient military philosopher Sun Tzu emphasized the importance of alliances in both times of war and peace. He observed that alliances enabled kingdoms to increase their chances of survival and even victory while diminishing those of their opponents. For Sun Tzu, it is essential for a kingdom to prevent its enemies from combining their resources and efforts to oppose its goals. This can be done by forcing them to consider the grave consequences of their opposition against its interest.

He wrote: “When a warlike prince attacks a powerful state, his generalship shows itself in preventing the concentration of the enemy’s forces. He overawes his opponents and their allies are prevented from joining against him.” Sun Tzu was emphatic that if one faces an enemy with powerful allies, it is prudent to avoid attacking the coalition until its members have been divided and separated from each other. In the 21st century geopolitics, we see how China is applying this stratagem against the Philippines and the United States (US), as it effectively unravels an emerging coalition of states opposing its expansion in the South China Sea.

China uses a strategy called “talk and take” rooted in Sun Tzu. China’s new islands and militarization of the South China Sea, where it has no legal claim, is an example of this strategy.

After 30 years of negotiations to stop North Korea from putting nuclear weapons atop long-range ballistic missiles, and North Korea breaking every agreement, the U.S. now faces a North Korea on the brink of achieving its long-held goal. Sun Tzu would undoubtedly be proud.

Peace and Freedom


Saudi Arabia, U.S. in talks on billions in arms sales

May 6, 2017


Fri May 5, 2017 | 7:15pm EDT

By Mike Stone | WASHINGTON


Washington is working to push through contracts for tens of billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, some new, others in the pipeline, ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s trip to the kingdom this month, people familiar with the talks told Reuters this week.

Saudi Arabia is Trump’s first stop on his maiden international trip, a sign of his intent to reinforce ties with a top regional ally.

The United States has been the main supplier for most Saudi military needs, from F-15 fighter jets to command and control systems worth tens of billions of dollars in recent years. Trump has vowed to stimulate the U.S. economy by boosting manufacturing jobs.

Washington and Riyadh are eager to improve relations strained under President Barack Obama in part because of his championing of a nuclear deal with Saudi foe Iran.

Lockheed Martin Co (LMT.N) programs in the package include a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system with several batteries, the sources said. The THAAD system, like the one being made operational in South Korea, costs about $1 billion. Also being negotiated is a C2BMC software system for battle command and control and communications as well as a package of satellite capabilities, both provided by Lockheed.

Combat vehicles made by BAE Systems PLC (BAES.L), including the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and M109 artillery vehicle, are also under consideration as part of the Saudi package, people familiar with the talks said. Both vehicles are in the Saudi inventory. British defense company BAE has 29,000 employees in the United States.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the negotiations, which also include previously reported contracts or items under discussion for years. One such deal, an $11.5 billion package of four multi-mission surface combatant ships and accompanying services and spares, was approved by the State Department in 2015. Talks followed to hammer out capabilities, configuration and design for the complex warships but the deal has never gone to final contract.

The next step for the ships is likely a letter of agreement between the two countries, the sources said.

Versions of the ship used by the U.S. Navy, the Littoral Combat Ship, are built by Bethesda, Maryland-based weapons maker Lockheed Martin and Australia’s Austal Ltd (ASB.AX). If a deal goes through, it would be the first sale of a new small surface warship to a foreign power in decades. Any major foreign weapons sale is subject to oversight by Congress. Lawmakers must take into consideration a legal requirement that Israel must maintain its qualitative military edge over its neighbors.

Also, more than $1 billion worth of munitions including armor-piercing Penetrator Warheads and Paveway laser-guided bombs made by Raytheon Co (RTN.N) are in the package, the sources said. The Obama administration suspended the planned sale because of concerns over the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen and civilian casualties.

A U.S. administration official said the proposed Raytheon sale was still undergoing interagency review. Representatives for BAE and Raytheon declined to comment on the sales. A Lockheed representative said such sales are government-to-government decisions and the status of any potential discussions can be best addressed by the U.S. government.

A representative for the Saudi embassy in Washington declined to comment.

Shares of both Raytheon and Lockheed closed up 0.9 percent. Both stocks hit session highs following the Reuters report.


One of the people with knowledge of the sales said that as planning for Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia intensified in recent weeks, the arms negotiations also accelerated. Two U.S. officials said a U.S.-Saudi working group met at the White House Monday and Tuesday to negotiate the trip, as well as financing for military equipment sales and stopping terrorist financing.

Image result for Adel al-Jubeir and donald trump, photos

Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir

Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir and other Saudi officials met with lawmakers at the Capitol on Thursday, including Senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin on the foreign relations committee.

The Pentagon declined to comment. White House and State Department officials said it was U.S. policy not to comment on proposed U.S. defense sales until they had been formally notified to Congress.

The Obama administration had offered Saudi Arabia more than $115 billion in weapons. Most of the Obama-era offers, which are reported to Congress, became formal agreements though some were abandoned or amended.

Washington also provides maintenance and training to Saudi security forces.

(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed, John Walcott, Warren Strobel, Patricia Zengerle and Jonathan Landay; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and James Dalgleish)

U.S., China Talk Firmer U.N. Response to North Korea’s Missiles: Diplomats

May 2, 2017

UNITED NATIONS — The United States is negotiating with China on a possible stronger U.N. Security Council response – such as sanctions – to North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile launches, which the 15-member body normally condemns in a statement, diplomats said.

It was not immediately clear how open Beijing might be to new sanctions. The council has traditionally boosted sanctions in response to North Korea’s five nuclear tests and two long-range rocket launches.

Sanctions were first imposed on Pyongyang in 2006.

North Korea has in the past year stepped up its missile tests, firing dozens of various types of rockets, according to South Korea. The most recent test, which failed, came on Friday following a U.N. Security Council meeting on North Korea, chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“The cumulative actions of the DPRK (North Korea) since their last nuclear test compel us to look at a range of measures that would apply pressure,” said a spokesman for the U.S. Permanent Mission to the United Nations on Tuesday.

“As Secretary Tillerson said on Friday, business as usual is not an option. We are exploring options for a response to this series of provocations with our Security Council colleagues,” the spokesman said.

Tillerson on Friday urged the Security Council to act before North Korea does.

The Trump administration has been aggressively pressing Beijing to rein in its ally and neighbor North Korea, warning that all options were on the table if Pyongyang persists with its nuclear and missile development.

But China has said military threats would not help the situation and has accused the United States of fuelling tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Beijing on Tuesday reiterated its opposition to the deployment of the U.S.’ THAAD anti-missile defense system in South Korea and urged it to be halted immediately.

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.

Traditionally, the United States and China have negotiated new sanctions before involving remaining council members. U.N. diplomats said the current talks were still just between the pair.

At a minimum, the United States could push China to agree to condemn North Korea’s missile launches in a resolution, instead of a statement, which may also blacklist more people and entities tied to the country’s ballistic missile program.

This is what the council did in 2013 in response to North Korea’s first launch of a long-range rocket, using ballistic missile technology, in 2012. Pyongyang said the rocket put a weather satellite into orbit.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by G Crosse)


North Korea Protests Flyover of U.S. Bombers

May 2, 2017

Dustup over flyover occurs as CIA Director Mike Pompeo wraps up a three-day visit to South Korea

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer and two F-15K Slam Eagles fly over Korean skies in September.

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer and two F-15K Slam Eagles fly over Korean skies in September. PHOTO: CHIEF MASTER SGT. KYEONG RYUL/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

SEOUL—North Korea complained Tuesday about a flyover of a pair of U.S. supersonic bombers, as the Central Intelligence Agency’s director wrapped up a three-day visit to South Korea and the U.S. declared a missile-defense system that it is installing in South Korea operational.

The flurry of activity on the Korean Peninsula underscores U.S. President Donald Trump’s continuing focus on North Korea as he seeks a way to contain the threat from Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

It also came a day after Mr. Trump said that he would be “honored” to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

White House Turns to Asia on North Korea Threat
The White House has sought insights from the leaders of China, Japan, and the Philippines on how to deal with the North Korean threat. WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib explains what to look out for in the coming weeks. Photo: Getty

On Monday, the U.S. Air Force flew two B-1B Lancer supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula with the South Korean air force, according to a spokesman for South Korea’s Defense Ministry, as part of exercises aimed at deterring the North.

Two supersonic B-1B Lancers (file picture) were deployed in a joint training exercise with the Japanese air forces over the Korean Peninsula amid heightened tensions between Pyongyang and Washington

Two supersonic B-1B Lancers (file picture) were deployed

North Korea’s state media lashed out at the flight on Tuesday, complaining that it was taking place at a time “when Trump and other U.S. warmongers are crying out for making a pre-emptive nuclear strike at the DPRK,” using an abbreviation for its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“The reckless military provocation is pushing the situation on the Korean Peninsula closer to the brink of nuclear war,” Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency said. It added that the North Korean military “is keenly watching the military movement of the U.S. imperialists,” and could respond with nuclear arms, repeating a frequent threat made in North Korea’s media.

The exchange over the flyover came as CIA Director Mike Pompeo wrapped up a three-day visit to South Korea, where he toured Yeonpyeong Island, the site of the most recent serious military engagement between the two Koreas, in November 2010.

During the visit to Yeonpyeong Island and the disputed inter-Korean waters around the island, Mr. Pompeo was able to “gain a firsthand appreciation of the North Korean threat to South Korea,” according to a statement from U.S. Forces Korea, which oversees the military’s various combat forces in South Korea.

Mr. Pompeo also met with South Korea’s top spy chief. Mr. Pompeo’s visit was the fourth high-level trip to South Korea this year, following tours by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence.

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, USFK declared the missile-defense system that it is installing in South Korea, Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad, operational, stirring controversy just one week before a South Korean election that is expected to vote into office a presidential candidate who has called for an immediate halt to the missile battery’s deployment.

Thaad is “operational and has the ability to intercept North Korean missiles and defend the Republic of Korea,” USFK said.

The speedy deployment of the missile-defense system comes days after a series of statements from senior White House officials about whether South Korea should pay for the $1 billion Lockheed Martin Corp. battery, upending expectations in Seoul about the status of an agreement last year that said the U.S. would pay for it.

It also comes in the midst of a snap election that looks set to elevate to the presidency Moon Jae-in, a candidate who has called for more distance from Washington and an immediate halt to the deployment of Thaad. Mr. Moon says any decision on deploying Thaad should be made by the next South Korean administration, in consultation with the public.

China also opposes the Thaad missile system. At a regular press briefing on Tuesday, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang repeated calls for an immediate halt to the deployment of the Thaad battery, pledging to take any necessary measures to protect Beijing’s interests.

Write to Jonathan Cheng at


China demands immediate halt to THAAD missile system now ‘operational’ in South Korea (China Sees THAAD Radar as a Threat To Its Strategic Missile Deterrent)

May 2, 2017

As regional tensions soar, Beijing says it will ‘firmly take necessary measures to uphold our interests’

Agence France-Presse and  Reuters
Tuesday, May 2, 2017, 5:59pm