Tag Archives: North Korea

US Takes More Muscular Stance Toward North Korea

Unlike Obama, one gets the sense that the Trump Administration will back up a “red line.” The real question is, should we?

Seoul (CNN) The US would consider military action against North Korea if it was provoked, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday.

Speaking in Seoul at a joint press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, Tillerson said Washington’s policy of “strategic patience” had ended.

“Certainly, we do not want things to get to a military conflict… but obviously if North Korea takes actions that threatens the South Korean forces or our own forces, then that would be met with an appropriate response,” he said, in response to a question from CNN.

“If they elevate the threat of their weapons program to a level that we believe that requires action, that option is on the table,” Tillerson added.

Malaysian Authorities Say Kim Jong-Nam Killed by Nerve Agent

Wow. Spy novel stuff.

Mr Kim died last week after two women accosted him briefly in a check-in hall at a Kuala Lumpur airport.

Malaysian toxicology reports indicate he was attacked using “VX nerve agent”, which is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations.

Malaysia has not blamed the North Korean state for the death, but says North Koreans were clearly behind it.

Mr Kim died on the way to hospital shortly after the 13 February airport encounter. His body remains in a hospital mortuary, amid a diplomatic dispute over who should claim it.

Meeting Etiquette

It’s dangerous to be a henchman for a totalitarian megalomaniac.

Seoul (AFP) – North Korea has executed a vice premier for showing disrespect during a meeting presided over by leader Kim Jong-Un, South Korea said Wednesday, after reports that he fell asleep.

The regime also banished two other senior officials, Seoul said, the latest in a slew of punishments Kim is believed to have ordered in what analysts say is an attempt to tighten his grip on power.

“Vice premier for education Kim Yong-Jin was executed,” Seoul’s Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-Hee said at a regular briefing.

Kim was killed by a firing squad in July as “an anti-party, anti-revolutionary agitator,” added an official at the ministry, who declined to be named.

“Kim Yong-Jin was denounced for his bad sitting posture when he was sitting below the rostrum” during a session of North Korea’s parliament, and then underwent an interrogation that revealed other “crimes”, the official told reporters.

Hackers Stealing From Banks Linked to North Korea

I suppose they need to fund their nuclear program with something.

It’s now clear the global banking system has been under sustained attack from a sophisticated group — dubbed “Lazarus” — that has been linked to North Korea, according to a report from cybersecurity firm Symantec.

 In at least four cases, computer hackers have been able to gain a dangerous level of access to SWIFT, the worldwide interbank communication network that settles transactions.

In early February, hackers broke into Bangladesh’s central bank and stole $101 million. Their methods appear to have been deployed in similar heists last year targeting commercial banks inEcuador and Vietnam.

Symantec revealed evidence on Thursday that suggests hackers used the same technique to slip into a bank in the Philippines in October. Symantec (SYMC) did not name the bank.

North Korean Colonel Defects

Welcome!

Seoul, South Korea (CNN)A senior intelligence officer with the North Korean military has defected to South Korea, officials in Seoul said Monday.

The defector was a senior colonel with the North Korean Reconnaissance General Bureau, which is in charge of espionage operations against South Korea, according to South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun and Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee.
Speaking in separate news conferences Monday, the ministry spokesmen confirmed that reports on the defection by South Korea’s semiofficial Yonhap News Agency were accurate but said they could give no further details.

North Korean Submarine Goes Missing

The race is on to recover it.

A North Korean submarine is missing and presumed sunk, according to reports in the US media.

The vessel was operating off the North Korean coast for several days when it disappeared, a paper with close links to the US military says.

The accident comes at a time of heightened tension in the region as South Korea and the US continue their largest-ever military exercise.

North Korean has issued another threat of war over the drill.

It said it was prepared to launch a pre-emptive strike in response to any sign that an invasion was being prepared.

Obama Administration Had Secret Peace Negotiations with North Korea

So after agreeing to a path to nuclear weapons for Iran, Obama wanted to give North Korea a free hand with its nukes? Lovely. Well, at least we’re not normalizing relations with anti-American regimes that oppress their citizens… oh, wait.

The White House secretly agreed to enter negotiations with North Korea to formally end the Korean War, going so far as to agree to eliminate preconditions concerning its nuclear program, just days before the country tested what it claimed to be a hydrogen bomb.

The Wall Street Journalreported the Obama administration instead “called for North Korea’s atomic weapons program to be simply part of the talks. Pyongyang declined the counter-proposal, according to U.S. officials familiar with the events. Its nuclear test on Jan. 6 ended the diplomatic gambit.”

In the wake of the Jan. 6 nuclear test, the U.S. and Japan imposed new sanctions on North Korea, with the U.S. blacklisting “primarily Chinese” companies that do business with the dictatorship, according to the Journal.

News of the failed negotiations will be a headache for the Obama administration, which sought to capitalize on the momentum generated from another nuclear deal with Iran. Conservatives in Congress and elsewhere have harshly criticized the president for what they see as insufficiently tough foreign policy.

North Korea Kills Chief of Staff

It looks like there is some dissension in the ranks.

A senior North Korean military leader has been executed for “factionalism, misuse of authority and corruption,” a South Korean government official with knowledge of North Korean affairs told CNN Thursday.

The official, who spoke to CNN on condition of anonymity, declined to give further details on how or when General Ri Yong-gil, chief of the North Korean Army’s general staff, was executed.

When taken in with the news of NK launching a long range missile and making plutonium, my guess is that Dear Leader is growing more aggressive and there are some who are sane enough to know that it would be national suicide for them to start a nuclear war.

US Warns of North Korean Plutonium Resources

Some might consider this a problem. Perhaps our Secretary of State could look into it.

North Korea could soon have enough plutonium for nuclear weapons after restarting one of its reactors, US intelligence chief James Clapper says.

He also said Pyongyang had taken steps towards making an intercontinental ballistic missile system.

It comes days after the North launched a long-range rocket, which critics say is a test of banned missile technology.

Last September Pyongyang said its main nuclear facility at Yongbyon had resumed normal operations.

North Korea Tests Hydrogen Bomb

They are claiming so, anyway. In any case, they blew up something big.

(CNN)Sticking it to its foes, North Korea on Wednesday celebrated what it called a successful hydrogen bomb test — a milestone that, if true, marks a colossal advancement for the reclusive regime and a big test for leaders worldwide on what to do about it.

“Make the world … look up to our strong nuclear country and labor party by opening the year with exciting noise of the first hydrogen bomb!” read a document signed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on state television.

Pyongyang has been very vocal about its nuclear ambitions, pressing on despite widespread condemnation, sanctions and other punishments. Having a hydrogen bomb — a device far more powerful than the plutonium weapons that North Korea has used in three earlier underground nuclear tests — ups the ante even more.

PRNK Threatens U.S.

You know, it used to be that when a nuclear nation threatened us, it made bigger headlines.

(CNN)North Korea threatened to “retaliate against the U.S. with tremendous muscle” if it didn’t cancel multinational military exercises scheduled to begin Monday.

South Korea conducts the yearly exercises, called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, with the United States and other allies “to enhance … readiness, protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean peninsula,” according to a statement from the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command.

Just as the event itself is annual, so too are the condemnations and threats of retaliation from the reclusive North Korean regime.

That Other Nuclear Deal

When looking at the Iran deal, it’s worth remembering how it worked out the last time we made a nuclear deal with a totalitarian nation.

That cautionary example is, of course, North Korea. The United States went down this road with the “Hermit Kingdom” in 1994, with the negotiation of the so-called Agreed Framework. Under its terms, North Korea was supposed to dismantle its nuclear facilities — then capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium — and receive, in return, help building less advanced reactors for peaceful purposes, as well as shipments of heavy fuel oil to offset energy shortages. But in 2002, U.S. intelligence discovered that the North was cheating — buying materials apparently intended for uranium enrichment. After years of contentious negotiations, North Korea finally fessed up in 2010.

Over the past decade, North Korea has carried out three nuclear tests and now has about 10 bombs. Within five years it could have another 10, according to the U.S.-Korea Institute at my university. The North also has a robust missile program, with a fleet of short- and medium-range missiles, and claims it could mount a nuclear warhead on one. The head of the U.S. Northern Command has publicly agreed. Since the 1990s, North Korea has been working on a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM); given its successful launch of a space satellite with a large, three-stage rocket in 2012, it appears just short of that goal.

In the wake of the Iran agreement, North Korea is now coming under U.S. and international pressure to return to the bargaining table, which it abandoned in 2008 after years of what were called “six-party talks” (the U.S., China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and North Korea). But the North’s ambassadors in China and Russia slammed the door on a renewal just last week.

Why is North Korea so adamantly against talks, and what are the prospects for changing that? The primary motive is simple: regime survival. Long squeezed by international sanctions and regarded as the globe’s most repressive political system, North Korea revolves around a cult of personality centered on the Kim dynasty. The leadership has long seen nuclear weapons as the key to survival, often citing Libya as its own cautionary example. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi surrendered his nuclear program in 2004 and was killed in 2011, as his regime collapsed during Libya’s violent version of the so-called Arab Spring.

North Korean Military Chief Executed By Anti-Aircraft Gun

Ouch.

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea executed its defense chief by putting him in front of an anti-aircraft gun at a firing range, Seoul’s National Intelligence Service told lawmakers, which would be the latest in a series of high-level purges since Kim Jong Un took charge.

Hyon Yong Chol, who headed the isolated nuclear-capable country’s military, was charged with treason, including disobeying Kim and falling asleep during an event at which North Korea’s young leader was present, according to South Korean lawmakers briefed in a closed-door meeting with the spy agency on Wednesday.

His execution was watched by hundreds of people, according to NIS intelligence shared with lawmakers.

North Korea Threatens Counteraction

That’s about the worst denial ever.

While steadfastly denying involvement in the hack, North Korea accused U.S. President Barack Obama of calling for “symmetric counteraction.”

“The DPRK has already launched the toughest counteraction. Nothing is more serious miscalculation than guessing that just a single movie production company is the target of this counteraction. Our target is all the citadels of the U.S. imperialists who earned the bitterest grudge of all Koreans,” a report on state-run KCNA read.

“Our toughest counteraction will be boldly taken against the White House, the Pentagon and the whole U.S. mainland, the cesspool of terrorism,” the report said, adding that “fighters for justice” including the “Guardians of Peace” — a group that claimed responsibility for the Sony attack — “are sharpening bayonets not only in the U.S. mainland but in all other parts of the world.”