Tag Archives: North Korea

North Korea Rattles Saber

This looks like Kim rattling his saber to enhance his perceived bargaining position before the summit. But it could also be the whole thing falling apart.

North Korea has said it may pull out of a summit with US President Donald Trump if the US insists it gives up its nuclear weapons.

The highly anticipated meeting between Mr Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is due to take place on 12 June.

But in an angry statement, North Korea’s vice-foreign minister accused the US of making reckless statements and of harbouring sinister intentions.

Summit set with North Korea

Progress.

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump will meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on June 12 in Singapore, the US president announced Thursday on Twitter.

“The highly anticipated meeting between Kim Jong Un and myself will take place in Singapore on June 12th,” Trump tweeted. “We will both try to make it a very special moment for World Peace!”
The summit, which has been in the works since Trump accepted Kim’s invitation to meet in March, will be the first ever meeting between a sitting US president and North Korean leader.
US officials had also considered holding the summit at the Korean demilitarized zone or in Mongolia, but ultimately settled on the city-state of Singapore as the location.

Pompeo Returning with American Hostages

Great news!

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that three American prisoners released from North Korea were headed home, a sign of potential good will ahead of Trump’s planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

In a tweet, Trump said “the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting” were accompanying Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his way back from a visit to North Korea.

Progress In North Korea

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. You have to give props when props are due. Here you go:

In West Bend last weekend, there was a brat fry for the benefit of veterans of the Korean War. More than 5.7 million Americans served in the Korean War — 33,739 were killed in battle. Another 20,507 died in service during the war and 103,284 were wounded. Today, less than half of the Americans who served in the Korean War are still alive.

Given that it has been almost 65 years since that bloody war ground to a halt in a cease fire agreement, many of those Korean War veterans had likely given up hope of ever seeing the war actually end. Last week, Kim Jong Un, the grandson of North Korean tyrant Kim Il Sung, who launched the bloody war in 1950, shook hands with South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in, and then stepped into South Korea to begin a historic summit that may lead to a lasting peace between the sibling nations.

That handshake did not come about by accident. It was the result of a multifaceted foreign policy effort by President Donald Trump. For all of his faults, Trump’s foreign policy has proven to be sophisticated and effective. He has advanced the interests of peace on the Korean peninsula further than any of his predecessors.

The likelihood of a lasting peace, much less the complete denuclearization of North Korea, is still slim. Kim Jong Un is a third generation dictator who is equal parts evil and crazy. His interests are rooted in his own power — not the welfare of the North Korean people or the world. In order for peace to be sustainable, Kim’s self-interest will have to be appeased and Trump will have to twist Ronald Reagan’s famous maxim to, “don’t trust and verify.”

Still, we are closer to peace than we have been for three generations and the world has Trump to thank for that. The secret to Trump’s foreign policy is no secret at all. He has returned to the more muscular foreign policy of “peace through strength” that underpinned the foreign policy of many previous administrations.

The first thing Trump did when entering office was make it clear that the days of American appeasement of North Korea were over. Strong, occasionally reckless, rhetoric sent the message that Trump was not of the same mold as his most recent predecessors.

Then Trump backed up his rhetoric with very stiff sanctions against North Korea. While North Korea is no stranger to sanctions, this time it was different. Through a combination of threats and praise, Trump convinced China to get on board with the sanctions. China is North Korea’s largest trading partner, by far, and ally in the Korean War.

Once the sanctions were in place, Trump extended his potent mix of threats and complimentary gestures to Kim. Trump began working toward high level negotiations and backed it up by sending the soon-tobe Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to meet Kim. In the bast couple of weeks, Kim has committed to cease nuclear tests, dismantle a nuclear facility, met with South Korean President Moon, and indicated that he wants a permanent peace. Trump is tentatively scheduled to meet with Kim next month.

Incidentally, while Pompeo was furthering the peace process in North Korea through diplomacy as the secretary of state nominee, Wisconsin’s Sen. Tammy Baldwin voted against his confirmation saying that she feared Pompeo would not be diplomatic enough.

Underlying the entire process is the fact that nobody doubts that Trump is willing to back up his threats. No doubt the strikes by the United States against chemical weapons facilities in Syria, despite the admonitions of the Russians and Assad, got Kim’s attention. If Trump is willing and able to act with such precision against Syria, there is no doubt that he would be able to strike North Korea. And with China softening its defense of Kim in order to protect its economic interests, Kim is more isolated than ever.

The North Korean problem has been the world’s Gordian Knot for more than half a century. Trump might be about to cut it.

More Progress in North Korea

Good news. Again, with all of the requisite caveats about how this probably won’t stick.

Seoul (CNN)North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will shut down his nuclear test site in May and invite experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States into the country to ensure “transparency” around its closure, South Korea’s presidential office said Sunday.

It is the latest breakthrough on the peninsula ahead of a meeting between Kim and US President Donald Trump, who said Saturday that talks could take place within “three to four weeks.”
A senior spokesman for South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Kim made the comments during a landmark summit Friday at the demilitarized zone between the two countries, when Kim became the first North Korean leader to step into South Korean territory since fighting ended in the Korean War in 1953.
Kim told Moon during the summit that he had no intention of targeting the US or the South with nuclear weapons, the South Korean President’s office said Sunday.

 

Korean War to Finally End

The Forgotten War, which became the Forgotten Peace, is about to formally end. Thank God.

Ilsan, South Korea (CNN)Leaders of the two Koreas have agreed to end the Korean War, 65 years after hostilities ceased, in a wide-ranging joint announcement struck Friday, that includes working towards the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

But the announcement, which largely steered clear of specifics regarding Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities, faces major hurdles before any peace deal can be reached, which must also involve China and the US, both of whom were participants in the original conflict.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his North Korean counterpart, Kim Jong Un, signed the “Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification on the Korean Peninsula,” at the demilitarized zone (DMZ), after an historic day of meetings, including a 30-minute private conversation the contents of which are unknown.
In separate speeches they promised a new era for the Korean Peninsula. Addressing the world’s media, Kim said the Koreas “will be reunited as one country.”
Of course, it could all fall apart, but we haven’t made it this far… ever. This is a direct result of Trump’s foreign policy of pressuring China, standing firm (do you think that missile strike in Syria got Kim’s attention?), and openness about the conditions under which North Korea could be welcomed into the international community. Let’s hope we see an actual peace treaty in the coming months – and that Kim abides by it.

Kim Goes South

We are witnessing history. I sure hope it leads to a lasting peace.

Around 2,000 journalists are gathered at a media center in Ilsan, South Korea to cover the summit.

The room was tense as the journalists massed inside the Kintex Conference Center waited for their first sight of Kim Jong Un.

An audible gasp ran through the room as Kim walked down the steps towards the military demarcation line, followed by a loud cheers and applause from South Koreans in the room as the historic handshake took place and Kim stepped onto the south side.

North Korea Halts Missile Tests

I don’t trust Kim at all, but this is the most progress we’ve seen in many, many years…. like… ever.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has said he will suspend all missile tests and shut down a nuclear test site with immediate effect.

“From 21 April, North Korea will stop nuclear tests and launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” the Korean Central News Agency said.

The decision is aimed at pursuing economic growth and peace on the Korean peninsular, state media report.

Mr Kim is due to meet his South Korean counterpart Moon Jae-in next week.

He is also expected to hold an unprecedented summit with US President Donald Trump by June. If it takes place, it will be the first meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader.

[…]

A spokesperson for the South Korean president called the North’s move “meaningful progress”.

North Korea Drops Precondition for Denuclearization

Wow. That’s huge.

(CNN)North Korea has dropped its long-held demand that the United States withdraw forces from South Korea in exchange for denuclearization, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Thursday.

The United States has about 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea, a presence that has long irked North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
However, in the burgeoning spirit of openness and diplomacy, Moon said Kim is willing to give up US troops’ removal as a precondition for discussions over denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
“North Korea has expressed willingness to give up its nuclear program without making (a) demand that the (US Forces Korea) forces withdraw from the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said in a meeting with the press, adding that any proposed troop withdrawal would be a “condition that the US cannot accept.”

Pompeo Meets with Kim Jong-un

I still give the prospect of a permanent agreement a probability of about 10% – mainly because Kim is crazy – but this is the most significant diplomatic engagement with North Korea since Clinton gave them nukes.

CIA director Mike Pompeo travelled to Pyongyang for a secret meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, US President Donald Trump has confirmed.

A “good relationship” was formed at the meeting last week, Mr Trump tweeted on Wednesday.

News of the visit first emerged on Tuesday. US officials were quoted as saying the aim was to prepare a summit between Mr Trump and Mr Kim.

Mr Trump had earlier alluded to high-level direct talks with Pyongyang.

But the unexpected and clandestine meeting marks the highest level US contact with North Korea since 2000.

Progress in North Korea?

Maybe?

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has invited Donald Trump to meet him, an invitation the US leader has said he will accept.

The shock announcement was made by senior South Korean officials in Washington, who passed on a letter from the North Korean leader.

They said Mr Kim had also agreed to halt nuclear and missile tests and was “committed to denuclearisation”.

It appears to be a major breakthrough after months of threats and violence.

The South Korean delegation had held unprecedented talks with Mr Kim in Pyongyang earlier this week, part of a diplomatic thaw following the Winter Olympics in South Korea, then travelled to the US to pass on their message.

Mr Trump, who has previously said there is no point in talking to North Korea, said the development was “great progress”.

But he said sanctions will remain in place until a firm agreement is reached.

The problem with North Korea is that they are liar liars who lie. The emphasis must be on “verify.”

North Korea Behind WannaCry Attack

Not surprising, but outrageous nonetheless.

North Korea was behind the massive “WannaCry” cyberattack in May that spread around the world costing billions of dollars, White House Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert announced in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Monday.

In the article, entitled, “It’s Official: North Korea Is Behind WannaCry,” Bossert wrote that the Hermit Kingdom was the main culprit behind the May 2017 global cyberattack in which computers running Windows were targeted. During the infamous attack, data were encrypted and ransom payment, in the form of bitcoin, was demanded of users if they wanted their data back.

“Cybersecurity isn’t easy, but simple principles still apply. Accountability is one, cooperation another,” Bossert’s op-ed read. “They are the cornerstones of security and resilience in any society. In furtherance of both, and after careful investigation, the U.S. today publicly attributes the massive ‘WannaCry’ cyber attack to North Korea.”

Tillerson Ready to Talk to North Korea

This is a change.

Washington (CNN)Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US is ready to talk with North Korea without preconditions.

“We’ve said from the diplomatic side, we’re ready to talk anytime North Korea would like to talk,” Tillerson said at the Atlantic Council in Washington on Tuesday, in what amounted to a direct public invitation for North Korea to put aside an escalating cycle of tests and taunts and engage in diplomacy.
“We are ready to have the first meeting without precondition,” Tillerson said. “Let’s just meet, and we can talk about the weather if you want. Talk about whether it’s going to be a square table or a round table, if that’s what you are excited about. But can we at least sit down and see each other face to face, and then we can begin to lay out a map, a road map of what we might be willing to work towards.”

North Korea Launches Another Missile

The most powerful yet.

North Korea said that the intercontinental ballistic missile it launched earlier today is a new, nuclear-capable weapon that could reach the entire continental U.S.

State television said Wednesday the new ICBM — which it called a Hwasong 15 — was “significantly more” powerful than the previous long-range ICBM the North tested.

The Hwasong 15 reached an altitude of 2,800 miles, making it the highest North Korean missile test to date, two U.S. officials confirmed.

It traveled for an estimated 50 minutes, the longest of the country’s missile flights, an official said.

Nukes? Check.

ICBM? Check.

Nuke small enough to launch? TBD.

Threat to U.S. and allies? Check.

 

North Korean Defector Found Riddled With Parasites

They may have to resort to nukes just because their soldiers aren’t healthy enough for a sustained effort.

The massive infection is most likely linked to the low levels of hygiene found in the hermit kingdom. The worms were most likely contracted by eating vegetables fertilized with human feces, the doctors believe. There are many ways to safely use manure to fertilize fields, however, it appears that North Korea doesn’t use these practices.

International sanctions, droughts, and disastrous internal management mean food shortages are a big problem in North Korea. Up to 70 percent of the population live on food aid and eat a dangerously unvaried diet. Micronutrient deficiencies, particularly in iron, zinc, vitamin A, and iodine, are therefore common. Inside the soldier’s gut, they also found corn, a staple grain of the North Korean diet.

In the DPRK, young men must serve compulsory military service for 10 years and women for seven. A further 4-5 percent of North Korea’s 24 million people serve on active military duty, and another 30 percent are assigned to a reserve or paramilitary unit, according to the US Office of Secretary of Defense. This means the soldier’s body is representative of many North Koreans and potentially insightful for researchers hoping to learn about the wider health of the country.

“I don’t know what is happening in North Korea, but I found many parasites when examining other defectors,” added Professor Seo Min. “In one case, we found 30 types of roundworms in a female defector. The parasite infection problem seems to be serious even if it does not represent the entire North Korean population.”

Trump Tweets About North Korea

Wait… what?

nk

 

North Korea Claims to Have Tested Hydrogen Bomb

Whoa

What’s happened: North Korea claims it’s successfully tested a hydrogen bomb for its intercontinental ballistic missile. This is the country’s sixth test of a nuclear weapon and the first since US President Trump came to office.

What do we know about it: Initial data suggests this is the most powerful weapon the country has ever tested. It caused a 6.3-magnitude tremor in the country’s northeast.

What’s the reaction been: US President Donald Trump said North Korea’s actions were “hostile and dangerous.” South Korea said it will seek to “completely isolate” North Korea, while China urged Pyongyang to “stop taking wrong actions.” Russia said the test “deserves the strongest condemnation.”

If true, this is a significant next step on their progression.

Japan Applies Pressure on North Korea

It looks like our allies are following America’s lead in applying pressure to North Korea’s enablers.

Tokyo (AFP) – Japan said Friday it will impose fresh sanctions on North Korea by freezing the assets of Chinese and Namibian firms doing business with the nuclear-armed state.

The move against a half dozen organisations and a couple of individuals comes days after Washington expanded its own punitive measures against Chinese and Russian firms, as well as people linked to Pyongyang.

The US move drew an angry response from Beijing, North Korea’s key ally, while Japanese media said Friday that Namibia has been tightening its links to the North in recent years.

“We will continue to make strong calls (for North Korea) to take actions toward denuclearisation,” Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese government’s top spokesman, told a regular press briefing.

“Now is the time to apply pressure,” he added.

The sanctions are aimed at disrupting the flow of cash funding North Korean weapons programmes, which are in violation of United Nations resolutions.

North Korea “Accidentally” Reveals New Missile Systems

They have reverted to more subtle threats.

North Korea appears to have revealed details of two as-yet untested missile systems in its press coverage of a factory inspection by the country’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un.

Photographs released by KCNA state news agency to go with a report on Mr Kim’s visit to a facility at the Academy of Defence Sciences facility show wall charts describing the missiles, called Hwasong-13 and Pukguksong-3.

Hwasong-13 appears to be a three-stage ICBM (Inter Continental Ballistic Missile), while the chart showing Pukguksong-3, although largely obscured by officials, is an Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM).

It’s not the first time that North Korea has “accidentally” left details of important developments in the background of photo-shoots, and this is seen by analysts as a means of showing off its military power or sending messages to its foes.

North Korea Rattles Its Saber (Again)

Yikes.

North Korea says it is considering missile strikes on the US Pacific territory of Guam, just hours after President Donald Trump threatened Pyongyang with “fire and fury”.

The North’s official news agency said it was mulling a plan to fire medium-to-long-range rockets at Guam, where US strategic bombers are based.

The statement marks a sharp rise in rhetoric between the two countries.

The UN recently approved further economic sanctions against the country.

President Trump’s comments followed a media report that claimed the North had made a nuclear warhead small enough to fit inside its missiles.

This development, while not confirmed, was seen as one of the last obstacles to North Korea being a fully nuclear armed state.

Why is it that when the UN does something, the US gets threatened?