North Korean missile test

North Korea has successfully launched a test ballistic missile that could have a range of at least 4,000 km – two thirds of the distance to the US.

BBC: North Korea carries out new ballistic missile test

Japanese officials say the missile, which launched from north-western Kusong, reached an altitude of 2,000km.

The nature of the launch is still being determined, but analysts have said the test could suggest a longer range than previously tested devices.

The Japanese defence minister said it flew for about 30 minutes before falling in the Sea of Japan and could be a new type of missile.

Tomomi Inada said it covered a distance of about 700km (435 miles), reaching an altitude of more than 2,000km (1,245 miles) – higher than that reached by an intermediate-range missile North Korea fired in February.

If the Japanese analysis of the trajectory is right (that the missile reached an altitude of 2,000km), North Korea appears to have advanced its technology markedly.

Experts quoted by Reuters say the altitude meant the missile was launched at a high trajectory, limiting the lateral distance it travelled. They say if it had been fired at a standard trajectory, it would have had a range of at least 4,000km.

The US Pacific Command said in a statement the type was being assessed but that its flight was not consistent with that of an ICBM, which would have the range to reach the US mainland (more than 6,000km).

This will raise concerns and tensions.

South Korea’s newly elected President Moon Jae-in, who is seeking deeper engagement with the North, said it was a “reckless provocation”.

The White House said President Donald Trump “cannot imagine Russia is pleased” because the missile did not land far from Russian territory.

A Kremlin spokesperson later said Russian President Vladimir Putin was concerned by the test.

China, North Korea’s only major ally, called for restraint by “all relevant parties” in the wake of the latest test.

I’m not sure that either Kim Jong-un or Donald Trump are able or willing to exercise restraint, at least with their rhetoric.

 

 

Possibly “Irreversible” Slide Towards Nuclear War

There is little doubt North Korea would come off very badly if the tensions between them and the US burst into military action.

But they are not likely to be the only ones severely impacted.

China, South Korea and Japan in particular will be very uneasy about the escalating confrontation.

Trump and the US are a lot safer lobbing bombs from afar, but at risk to them is their standing in the world.

While New Zealand is a long way from any potential nuclear fallout the trade repercussions could impact us.

And I’d be very wary of travelling in that region at the moment.

Mad about THAAD and other China problems

Tensions appear to be escalating over the firing of missiles towards Japan by North Korea and the US completing missile deployments in South Korea.

Washington Post:

Given how angry Beijing gets about THAAD, you may be forgiven for thinking that the U.S. missile system, deployed to South Korea, is primarily aimed at China. However, Washington and Seoul have justified the system by saying it is necessary to defend South Korea from North Korean aggression.

With the missile system finally in place and tensions between the Koreas and China exploding again, here’s a guide to controversy.

See it at Why China is so mad about THAAD, a missile defense system aimed at deterring North Korea

What does this mean for the United States?

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump spoke frequently of the threat posed by North Korea and suggested he may lean on China, who he said had “total control over North Korea.”

However, since taking office in January the new U.S. president has been uncharacteristically mute on the subject matter, despite provocations from Pyongyang. This has left many North Korea-watchers to wonder what exactly his eventual policy will be.

The deployment of THAAD seems to be one of the first real moves against North Korea, though it was largely a continuation of policies undertaken by President Barack Obama. The backlash from China, however, along with various dramatic moves from North Korea, show that the situation is complicated.

Trust North Korea? Trust China? Trust Trump?

Korea, USA, nukes

South Korea and Japan in particular are likely to be increasingly nervous about what two unpredictable leaders might do as North Korea ramps up provocations against the US.

Stuff: ‘Inching to the brink of a nuclear war’: North Korea says missile launch was training for attack on US’s Japan bases

North Korea has warned that US-South Korean military exercises are driving the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia toward “nuclear disaster”.

The reclusive state fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan’s northwest on Monday (NZT), angering South Korea and Japan.

Kim Jong Un supervised the test launches which were by an army unit commissioned with attacking US military bases in Japan, the country’s state media said on Tuesday (NZT).

The launches were a training exercise for a strike on those bases, it said.

The North Korean ambassador to the United Nations, Ja Song Nam, said in a letter to the UN Security Council hours after the missiles were launched that the US-South Korea exercises were the “the most undisguised nuclear war manoeuvres”.

“It may go over to an actual war,” Ja warned of the military drills, “and, consequently, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is again inching to the brink of a nuclear war”.

How will Donald Trump respond to provocations like this?

Hopefully he will stick to pushing buttons on his Twitter rather than anywhere else.

Japan, Australia still backing TPP

After an official meeting the leaders of Japan and Australia have said they were committed to proceeding with the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

RNZ: Japan, Australia both back TPP

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull made the announcement after their official meeting as part of Mr Abe’s four-country trip to boost Japan’s trade and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

In his first visit to Australia since Mr Turnbull became Prime Minister, he said both leaders were committed to ensuring the 12-country TPP trade deal would come into effect.

“On the economic front we agreed that we should demonstrate anew the importance of free trade,” he said.

“We confirmed that we would coordinate toward the early entry into force of the TPP and the prompt conclusion of the RCEP [Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership].”

There is still a major problem though – Donald Trump has said made a priority of taking the US out of the TPP.

The commitment came despite United States President-elect Donald Trump criticising the TPP as a “potential disaster” for the US and vowing to prioritise withdrawing from the pact.

Mr Abe, who had previously said the TPP would be meaningless without the US, said the countries also agreed to maintain “solid cooperation” with the Trump administration.

NZ Herald report that Bill English says a rethink on the TPP may be necessary in Bill English optimistic about Donald Trump US presidency

One of Trump’s first acts will affect New Zealand’s interests – Trump has pledged to initiate the US withdrawal from the Trans Pacific Partnership on his first day in office.

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull and Japan PM Shinzo Abe met recently to discuss how to salvage the TPP and English said he was not ready to give up altogether either.

“I wouldn’t say it is futile, but I think along with those countries, we need to rethink our approach. It could be as soon as next week that the US executes its position and that means we need to rethink it.”

“I would hope there would be a way of keeping the US engaged in the Asia Pacific and the TPP certainly would have done that. There may have to be some adaptation or some other way of doing that.”

‘Rethink’ may mean trying to do a TPP without the US, unless Trump makes a major reversal on his stance.

World Cup shock – Japan beat South Africa

In the first shock of the 2015 Rugby World Cuo and possibly the biggest shock ever in world cup rugby Japan have beaten South Africa 34-32, scoring a last minute try to clinch the match. They had drawn level and led several times during a close match.

This was Japan’s first win in a Rugby World Cup match since defeating Zimbabwe in 1991!

It was the first test match between Japan and South Africa.

Planet Rugby: “Whatever else happens in this World Cup, we have witnessed something incredibly special.”

Japan had trailed by 3 points for the final ten minutes, and with time nearly up Japan opted for a scrum rather than kick at goal for a draw. And Japan managed to score a try in the corner to win. The conversion missed but I don’t think they will have cared about that.

Fumiaka Tanaka was named man of the match – he plays for the Highlanders in the Super 15.

RWCJapanSouthAfrica

Wow. That’s a huge upset.

Planet Rugby: Japan beat SA to shock the world

Japan pulled off the greatest Rugby World Cup upset of all time with an outstanding 34-32 win over favourites South Africa in Brighton.

NZ Herald: Japan shock Springboks – the greatest upset in rugby history

Magnificent, clever, innovative, brave, brave, brave Japan have pulled off the unthinkable and beaten the Springboks.

The Guardian: Japan beat South Africa in greatest Rugby World Cup shock ever

Entire World Cups are shaped by weekends like this. This was not just one of the most epic games in the history of this tournament but one to create ripples across the globe. Never has there been a bigger shock at this level. If there is a contest even half as extraordinary between now and the end of October the tournament will be truly blessed.

The Brave Blossoms were more than gallant, they were utterly sensational. Brighton, hitherto a football town, rocked like never before as the Japanese took a vastly experienced South Africa side to the edge of reason and beyond. Right up to the closing seconds, though, it seemed they might fall short, only for the replacement wing Karne Hesketh to dive over in the corner with the final act of the game to clinch a supposedly impossible triumph. Crazy does not begin to cover it.

This doesn’t mean the world cup is over for South Africa but they will have to now beat Samoa, Scotland and USA in their pool to ensure they top it to get any easier quarter final.

Match details and blog.