Tag Archive: north korea us tensions


 

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Tension between North Korea and the U.S. along with its allies are at an all-time high right now.  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called for pressure to be put on North Korea as he warned diplomatic attempts have failed.  Prime Minister Abe said diplomatic attempts to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear aspirations have failed over two decades.  China and Russia have repeatedly called for international diplomacy to deal with North Korea’s crisis of its weapons program.  Prime Minister Abe said diplomatic attempts to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear aspirations have failed over two decades.

On September 11, the UN Security Council increased sanctions against North Korea over its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, imposing a ban on the isolated nation’s textile exports and capping imports of crude oil.  China said it would ban exports of some petroleum products to North Korea, as well as imports of textiles, to comply with new sanctions by the United Nations Security Council. China’s support of the sanctions would be insufficient to cripple the North Korean economy and force it to the negotiating table, Chinese experts have said.

South Korea opposes the use of force, fearing war on the peninsula and an attack on Seoul. China also does not want war on its border, hoping that North Korea will remain a Communist buffer against South Korea and its ally, the United States.  Tensions rose when President Trump warned North Korea in his speech to the U.N. that the United States would “totally destroy” the country if threatened, adding that while the US has “great strength and patience,” its options could soon run out.  North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump escalated when the US chief said at the UN: “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.”

Both the president and Defense Secretary James Mattis have said all options are on the table for dealing with the threat from North Korea.  While the U.S. could take military action, Trump urged the U.N. to join together in curtailing North Korea’s nuclear efforts.  “We meet at a time of both immense promise and great peril,” Trump said, issuing a call to action that hinged on the responsibility of governments to their citizens.

Days after the U.N. speech, the Pentagon said the Air Force had sent B-1B bombers and F-15C fighters over waters north of the Demilitarized Zone separating the two Koreas, in response to what it called the North Korean government’s “reckless behavior.” It was the farthest north any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea’s coast in the 21st century.  Dana W. White, the Defense Department’s chief spokeswoman, said in a statement.  “This mission is a demonstration of U.S. resolve and a clear message that the president has many military options to defeat any threat.”

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho gave a General Assembly address in which he called Trump’s  threat to “totally destroy” North Korea an irreversible mistake.  He also said the North’s nuclear program was a deterrent intended to avert an invasion, with the ultimate goal being “balance of power with the U.S.”  “We do not have any intention at all to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against the countries that do not join in the U.S. military actions against” North Korea, Mr. Ri said.

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North Korea carried out a missile test directly over Japan that prompted the government in Tokyo to warn residents in its path to take cover. After a flight of nearly 1, 700 miles, the missile flew over the northern island of Hokkaido, broke into three pieces and landed in the sea.  Public television programs in Japan were interrupted announcing the missile’s flight over the country and warned citizens to take cover in a sturdy building or basement.

North Korea has fired projectiles over Japanese territory twice before.  Once in 1998,  prompting a minor diplomatic crisis in Asia, and once again at the beginning of the Obama administration in 2009. In both those cases, the North said the rockets were carrying satellites into orbit but they made no such claim in this case.

The missile was launched from a site near Pyongyang’s international airport, not the usual launch site in the northeast, according to the South Korean military. They are still trying to determine what type of missile was launched but it’s believed to be a Hwasong-12, a newly developed intermediate range weapon.  North Korea’s usual launch sites are in remote areas, where there would be little concern about civilian casualties.  A strike near Pyongyang would risk many civilian deaths, suggesting that the real goal was to strike at the regime.

The commander of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Air Defense Command said that the armed forces did not try to shoot down the missile from North Korea because they did not detect a threat to Japanese territory.  They warned citizens in its path to take cover in case any parts fell on Japan.  This latest launch appears to be the first of a missile powerful enough to potentially carry a nuclear warhead.

North Korea’s ambassador to the UN, Han Tae-song, defended his country’s actions saying they were a response to military drills carried out by the US and its allies in the region.  “Now that the US has openly declared its hostile intention towards North Korea by raising joint aggressive military exercises despite repeated warnings… my country has every reason to respond with tough counter-measures as an exercise of its rights to self-defence.”

US and Japanese forces have just finished a joint drill in Hokkaido while another annual exercise involving tens of thousands of South Korean and US military personnel is still under way in South Korea.  China warned that tensions on the Korean peninsula had reached a “tipping point” but said the US and South Korea were partly to blame. Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying criticised the two countries for their repeated military drills, which North Korea perceives as practice for an invasion.

North Korea has been working on its missile program for decades, with weapons based on the Soviet-developed Scud.   While it has conducted short and medium-range tests on many occasions,  the pace of testing has increased.  Experts speculate that North Korea has made significant advances towards its goal of building a reliable long-range nuclear-capable weapon.  Though, no one knows how close North Korea is to miniaturizing a nuclear warhead to put on a missile.