Thursday, 10 August 2017

An update on events surrounding North Korea

This is the state of play at present with regard to North Korea. Highly volatile because Trump is issuing bellicose threats from the golf course which Kim responds to with his own threats. In the meantime you have Tillerson trying to calm things down while "Mad Dog" Mattis is stirring things up.

Meanwhile the British press is raising the possibility of nuclear war.

I shall post from various sources from different points-of-view so you can make up your mind as best you can what the hell is going on and what might happen.


A "Furious" North Korea Threatens "Simultaneous Strike" On Guam By Mid-August


9 August, 2017

So much for Rex Tillerson's tepid attempt to de-escalate Trump's "fire and fury" statement.

Moments ago, the state run-KCNA news agency issued a statement in which it cited a commander of the Korean People's Army according to whom President Donald Trump's threat was a "load of nonsense," it failed to grasp the "grave situation," and said that "sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him," referring to Trump’s comments about unleashing "fire and fury."

Reaffirming its intentions to strike Guam, N. Korea said it is "seriously examining the plan for an enveloping strike at Guam through simultaneous fire of four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets in order to interdict the enemy forces on major military bases on Guam and to signal a crucial warning to the U.S." Noting that it is getting exhausted and angry with Trump's "load of nonsense", the General said that Trump's threats are "extremely getting on the nerves of the infuriated Hwasong artillerymen of the KPA."

"The KPA Strategic Force will finally complete the plan until mid August and report it to the commander-in-chief of the DPRK nuclear force and wait for his order" and N. Korea will closely watch U.S. "speech and behavior."

Turning the tables on Trump's statement that only harsh language can work on Kim Jong Un, N.Korea responded that "sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him."

The North Korean statement also says the military action its army "is about to take" will be effective for restraining America's "frantic moves" in and near the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. Hinting that Pyongyang will continue planning an attack, the General adds that "the military action the KPA is about to take will be an effective remedy for restraining the frantic moves of the U.S. in the southern part of the Korean peninsula and its vicinity. "

It said that North Korea will complete a plan by mid-August for the "historic enveloping fire at Guam," convey it to the commander in chief of its nuclear force and then "wait for his order." North Korea says it will "keep closely watching the speech and behavior of the U.S." The army General explains that "this unprecedented step is to give stronger confidence in certain victory and courage to the Korean people and help them witness the wretched plight of the U.S. imperialists."

And, in a surprising tangent, the statement goes so far as to give details of the flight plan its ICBMs will take, which will be right above Japan, hardly a detail that Tokyo will be excited about:

The Hwasong-12 rockets to be launched by the KPA will cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi Prefectures of Japan. They will fly 3 356.7 km for 1 065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40 km away from Guam.

Finally, the KPA Strategic Force said it will finally complete the Guam attack plan by mid-August, so it may be the case that North Korea will launch one if not more Hwasong-12 rockets in the coming weeks.

* * *

The full KCNA statement is below:

Pyongyang, August 10 (KCNA) General Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army, released the following statement on August 9:

As already clarified, the Strategic Force of the KPA is seriously examining the plan for an enveloping strike at Guam through simultaneous fire of four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets in order to interdict the enemy forces on major military bases on Guam and to signal a crucial warning to the U.S.

On Tuesday, the KPA Strategic Force through a statement of its spokesman fully warned the U.S. against its all-round sanctions on the DPRK and moves of maximizing military threats to it. But the U.S. president at a gold links again let out a load of nonsense about "fire and fury," failing to grasp the on-going grave situation. This is extremely getting on the nerves of the infuriated Hwasong artillerymen of the KPA.

It seems that he has not yet understood the statement.

Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him. This is the judgment made by the service personnel of the KPA Strategic Force.

The military action the KPA is about to take will be an effective remedy for restraining the frantic moves of the U.S. in the southern part of the Korean peninsula and its vicinity.

The Hwasong artillerymen of the KPA Strategic Force are replete with a strong determination to fully demonstrate once again the invincible might of the force, which has developed into a reliable nuclear force of the Workers' Party of Korea and the world, strongest strike service, through the planned enveloping strike targeting the U.S. imperialist bases of aggression.

The Strategic Force is also considering the plan for opening to public the historic enveloping fire at Guam, a practical action targeting the U.S. bases of aggression.

This unprecedented step is to give stronger confidence in certain victory and courage to the Korean people and help them witness the wretched plight of the U.S. imperialists.

The Hwasong-12 rockets to be launched by the KPA will cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi Prefectures of Japan. They will fly 3356.7 km for 1065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40 km away from Guam.

The KPA Strategic Force will finally complete the plan until mid August and report it to the commander-in-chief of the DPRK nuclear force and wait for his order.
We keep closely watching the speech and behavior of the U.S.

The bottom line is that while Trump expects Kim to relent, the North Korean leader clearly has no plans to do that, and demands the same from Trump, which also won't happen. How this crisis is resolved in a peaceful, diplomatic way under these conditions remains unknown, if not impossible.

From the Duran



the Duran

The crisis is getting more tense, but there is still no telling if it will amount to anything.

North Korean media has announced that the leadership is finalising plans for hitting Guam with intermediate range missiles which are apparently to be launched in mid-August.

Sputnik quotes General Kim Rak Gyom who said the following to North Korean media,

The Hwasong-12 rockets to be launched by the KPA (Korean People’s Army) will cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi Prefectures of Japan.

They will fly 3,356.7 km (2,085.8 miles) for 1,065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40 km away from Guam”.

Several things are curious about this statement.

First of all, by stating that the preparations for the attack to apparently take place in mid-August are being made now, North Korea seems to be validating the Russian statement that it takes a significant amount of time for North Korea to launch missiles that countries like Russia, China and the US can generally launch in a matter of seconds or at the very most, a matter of hours, depending on the kind of warhead payload attacked to the missile in question.

Secondly, by telling the United States that it plans to launch an attack in the direction of Guam, the crucial element of surprise is totally lost.

North Korea further stated that Trump’s remarks threatening to hit north Korea with “fire and fury” the likes the world “has never seen before”, amount to “A load of nonsense”.

North Korea further stated that Donald Trump is only capable of understanding force, because he is “bereft of reason”. Such statements far from being classic North Korean rhetoric soudn a great deal like commentators on CNN and op-ed pieces in the Washington Post, New York Times and Guardian.

Sputnik reports,

Pyongyang also said that America’s “frantic moves” on the Korean Peninsula will be reined by the action the North’s military “is about to take.”

First the communist nation will develop a plan for the historic “enveloping fire at Guam,” communicate the nuclear force of the attack to Kim, then, “wait for is order.”

The DPRK has said it will “keep closely watching the speech and behavior of the US.”

Earlier today, US Secretary of State James Mattis warned the North in a statement that they should “cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”

He added, “While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth. The DPRK regime’s actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates.”

Either this is the ultimate test of brinkmanship on both sides, or the world’s most dangerous game of chicken. This comes as Russia, China and Philippines repeat calls for dialogue as the only safe and sensible way forward.

From the UK Independent



the Independent

With anxiety briefly ticking down on The New York Times story about Trump's "fire and fury" comments being off-the-cuff - as opposed to policy - The Pentagon just turned the dial back on the threats

Defense Secretary James Mattis warned North Korea in stark terms on Wednesday that it faces devastation if it does not end its pursuit of nuclear weapons: "The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons," Mattis said in a statement adding "The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people."

Mattis's comments echo Trump's bellicose outburst on Tuesday in which he warned North Korea of "fire and fury" if it takes aggressive steps toward the United States.

Some have suggested that Mattis' remarks could be part of a coordinated effort with the White House to send a tough signal to both North Korea and China. As a reminder, North Korea's initial response was to call Trump's cluff, warning later on Tuesday it could launch an attack on Guam.

Mattis makes note of Trump’s involvement in the tense situation and writes that the president “was informed of the growing threat last December and on taking office his first orders to me emphasized the readiness of our ballistic missile defense and nuclear deterrent forces.”

Mattis also underscored a pointe made by Rex Tillerson earlier, in which he said that Trump was seeking to send a "strong message" to Kim Jong Un.

"The United States and our allies have the demonstrated capabilities and unquestionable commitment to defend ourselves from an attack," he wrote. 

"While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth," he said in the statement. "The DPRK regime's actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates."

The full Pentagon statement is below:

"The United States and our allies have the demonstrated capabilities and unquestionable commitment to defend ourselves from an attack.

Kim Jong Un should take heed of the United Nations Security Council's unified voice, and statements from governments the world over, who agree the DPRK poses a threat to global security and stability.

The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.

President Trump was informed of the growing threat last December and on taking office his first orders to me emphasized the readiness of our ballistic missile defense and nuclear deterrent forces.

While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth.

The DPRK regime's actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates."

Roughly translated - stop... or you'll lose (bigly).

From the Washington Post



ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday defended President Trump’s forceful warning to North Korea to stop threatening the United States, but attempted to dismiss concerns that Guam is in any imminent danger from Pyongyang’s missiles.

What the president is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong Un would understand, because he doesn’t seem to understand diplomatic language,” Tillerson said in an interview with two pool reporters while flying from Malaysia to a scheduled refueling stop in Guam.

I think the president just wanted to be clear to the North Korean regime that the U.S. has the unquestionable ability to defend itself, will defend itself and its allies, and I think it was important that he deliver that message to avoid any miscalculation on their part.”

On Tuesday, Trump sharply ratcheted up rhetoric against North Korea, saying it would face “fire and fury” if it does not stop threatening the United States. Trump did not make clear whether he was responding to the latest bellicose remarks from North Korea or a report in The Washington Post that the North had successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead capable of fitting inside its ballistic missiles.


Hours after Trump’s comments, North Korea said it was preparing to send intermediate-range missiles near Guam, which is home to more than 160,000 U.S. citizens, including some 6,000 members of the armed forces. U.S. bombers have flown out of Guam on their way to joint exercises with South Korea and Japan over the Korean Peninsula.

Tillerson is returning home from Asia, where he continued his campaign to get more countries fully enforcing U.N. sanctions against North Korea over its ballistic missile and nuclear testing, with an ultimate aim of forcing it to the bargaining table.

During Tillerson’s stop in Guam — which included brief meetings with some U.S. military personnel — Trump called attention to the might of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. In Twitter posts, Trump did not specifically mention North Korea, but the messages came as attention was focused on the confrontation with Pyongyang.

Trump asserted that U.S. nuclear power was “now far stronger and more powerful than ever” after his administration moved to “renovate and modernize” the arsenal.

Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!” Trump wrote.

While Pyongyang has been making bombastic threats against the United States for some time, as the pace of its testing has accelerated its warnings have grown more specific and directed against the United States.

On Monday in Manila, where Tillerson was attending a regional security conference, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho issued a lengthy statement vowing that his country would never relinquish its nuclear weapons. Ri said the “nukes” would be used only against the United States, and he asserted that the entire U.S. mainland is within range of North Korean missiles.

Tillerson said Guam is in no more danger than anywhere else, adding that North Korea’s threats naming the island as a target did not deter him from making a scheduled refueling stop here.

Well, the North Korean missile capability can point at many directions,” he said. “So Guam is not the only place that can be under threat. No, I never considered rerouting the trip back. And I do not believe that there is any imminent threat, in my own view.”

Tillerson said North Korea’s rhetoric shows that the campaign to turn Pyongyang’s allies against it is working.

Russia and China, North Korea’s main economic lifelines, both supported a new set of U.N. sanctions passed last weekend that could cut the country’s revenue by a third. And the Association of Southeast Asian Nations approved a statement expressing “grave concern” over North Korea’s actions.


In Washington, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis added to the competing messages of military resolve and diplomatic hope from the Trump administration. Mattis also emphasized the “unified voice” from the U.N. Security Council on North Korea.

While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means,” Mattis said in a statement, “it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on Earth.”

Tillerson said he knew of no significant changes in the last 24 hours that could speed a move to military action. Nor does he see any reason for a change in strategy. Diplomatic and economic isolation is working, he said, even if it could take a long time to materialize.

I think in fact the pressure is starting to show,” he said. “I think that’s why the rhetoric coming out of Pyongyang has gotten louder and more threatening.”

Tillerson also said Americans should not worry about the increasingly angry tone displayed in recent days.

I think what the president was just reaffirming is that the United States has the capability to fully defend itself from any attack, and our allies, and we will do so,” he said. “So the American people should sleep well at night.”

Key U.S. allies, meanwhile, called for a greater push to open talks with North Korea.

The spokeswoman for E.U. foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said “a lasting peace and denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula must be achieved through peaceful means.”

That excludes military action,” said the spokeswoman, Catherine Ray.
In New Zealand, Prime Minister Bill English called Trump’s comments “not helpful” in a standoff that was already “very tense.”

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