Posts Tagged ‘Thaad’

United States, China to meet on North Korea on Wednesday

June 16, 2017



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 David Brunnstrom | WASHINGTON

U.S. and Chinese diplomatic and defense chiefs will meet Wednesday for a security dialogue that Washington says will focus on curbing North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

The talks in Washington will involve U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis as well as China’s top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and General Fang Fenghui, chief of state of the People’s Liberation Army, the U.S. State Department said.

It will be the inaugural session of the U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue, a framework launched by President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping during a summit in Florida in April.

The State Department said the aim was “to expand areas of cooperation while narrowing differences on key diplomatic and security issues.”

U.S.-China ties have warmed since the April summit, in spite of continued U.S. concerns about China’s pursuit of territory in the South China Sea and a large trade imbalance.

Tillerson has said North Korea will top the agenda next week and made clear that Washington wanted more help from China in pressing Pyongyang to abandon its weapons programs, calling Chinese efforts so far “notable” but “uneven.”

The focus on North Korea has been sharpened by dozens of North Korean missile launches and two nuclear bomb tests since the beginning of last year.

North Korea says it is working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States, and this week Mattis called it the “most urgent” threat to U.S. national security.

China is party to U.N. economic sanctions on North Korea. But it remains the country’s main ally and trading partner and has been reluctant to impose the sort of punishing measures experts say are needed to get Pyongyang to abandon its weapons programs.

In Beijing, asked about the talks, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Lu Kang, said, “The two sides are in close communication about the schedule, but the issues discussed will be those that both countries are concerned about and that involve China-U.S. relations.” He did not elaborate.

On Tuesday, Tillerson said Washington was considering imposing “secondary sanctions” on foreign firms doing business with North Korea and had been in discussions with Beijing about the activities of entities inside China.

A Washington think tank said this week that North Korea’s effort to circumvent sanctions was complex but could be defeated by targeting relatively few Chinese firms.

The U.N. Security Council expanded targeted sanctions against North Korea this month in the first such resolution agreed by the United States and China since Trump took office.

Washington has been pushing for even tougher steps, including an oil embargo, bans of North Korea’s airline and overseas workers and interception of its cargo ships.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by David Alexander and Cynthia Osterman)



U.S. Military to ‘Find Way Forward’ With Seoul on THAAD Defenses

June 14, 2017

WASHINGTON — The United States expressed confidence on Wednesday that it could address South Korean concerns over the U.S. deployment of its THAAD missile defense system, as officials looked to a June 29-30 trip by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to Washington.

“I think we are going to find a way forward. As you know the President of South Korea is visiting here shortly and we are trying to resolve this, so just (that) we have clarity on the way ahead,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told a Senate hearing.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali)

South Korea names new defense minister amid ongoing threats from North

June 11, 2017


By Christine Kim and Ju-min Park | SEOUL

South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in on Sunday nominated a former navy chief as his defense minister, the president’s office said, as the government faces challenges tackling North Korea’s rapidly developing weapons program.

The nominee, Song Young-moo, was well suited to deal with North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat, the presidential Blue House office said.

 Image result for Song Young-moo, Photos, south korea
Song Young-moo,

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 capable of striking the mainland United States.

The North test-launched a new type of its cruise anti-ship missiles on Thursday, its fourth missile test since the South’s Moon took office on May 10, pledging to engage in dialogue with Pyongyang.

Song, who served in the navy for more than three decades, was Moon’s main security adviser during his presidential campaign, reprising his role in Moon’s 2012 presidential campaign.

A decorated veteran, Song took part in a 2009 skirmish between North and South Korean naval vessels off the western coast of the Korean peninsula.

Song’s appointment does not need parliament’s approval, but he must attend a hearing and answer questions from lawmakers.

The Blue House said Song admitted to having falsely registered his residence information in the past, a criminal offense in South Korea. Many of Moon’s ministerial choices have faced an uphill battle in parliament on this and other ethical issues, and lawmakers are likely to grill Song the same way.

He is expected to cooperate with the United States, the country’s major military ally, to respond to the North’s growing missile threat.

The government has said it will not change a pact with the United States for the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in South Korea, despite its decision to put on hold the full installation pending an environmental impact review.

Moon also tapped a human rights expert as justice minister tasked with reforming the prosecutors’ office, the president’s office said.

Ahn Kyong-whan, the former chairman of South Korea’s Human Rights Commission, now heads a non-profit legal foundation, but has no background as a prosecutor, unusual in a candidate for the ministerial role.

(Reporting by Christine Kim and Ju-min Park; Editing by Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez)

North Korea fires suspected land-to-ship missiles

June 8, 2017


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.”


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:

(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.




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

June 3, 2017


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.


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.


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)

South Korean Leader Raises Concerns Over U.S. Military Alliance

June 1, 2017

Moon tells a top U.S. lawmaker his worries over American military budget, missile defense


June 1, 2017 12:27 a.m. ET

SEOUL—South Korean President Moon Jae-in raised concerns with a visiting U.S. delegation about whether President Donald Trump would press Seoul to pay more for the American military presence here, and questioned how a controversial U.S. missile-defense system was deployed.

Mr. Moon’s concerns, expressed in a meeting Wednesday with Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, hint at potential friction between…


Putin says U.S. anti-missile system in Alaska, South Korea challenges Russia

June 1, 2017


Thu Jun 1, 2017 | 6:44am EDT

Image may contain: 1 person

Russian President Vladimir Putin (4th R) attends a meeting with representatives of international news agencies on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia, June 1, 2017. REUTERS/Dmitri Lovetsky/Pool

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that elements of a U.S. anti-missile system being built in Alaska and South Korea were a challenge to Russia which it was obliged to respond to by building up its own forces in the region.

Putin, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an economic forum in St Petersburg, said Russia could not stand idly by and watch while others increased their military capabilities along its borders in Europe and the Far East.

(Reporting by Denis Pinchuk/Andrew Osborn/Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Maria Kiselyova)


China Calls for THAAD to Be Removed From South Korea

June 1, 2017

BEIJING — China reiterated on Thursday its call for the U.S. THAAD missile defense system to be removed from South Korea.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remark at a regular press briefing.

Image may contain: 1 person

Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard, Writing by Michael Martina)

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

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

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 and Jonathan Cheng at