Australia threatened with nuclear retaliation

“If Australia persists in following the US moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK and remains a shock brigade of the US master, this will be a suicidal act of coming within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of the DPRK.”

Hot air probably, but this is getting a bit too close to home.

1 News: Australia threatened of nuclear retaliation from North Korea following sanctions talk

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has reportedly sparked a threat of nuclear retaliation from North Korea after saying the rogue nation will be subject to further Australian sanctions.

North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency yesterday quoted a foreign ministry spokesman accusing the Australian foreign minister of “spouting a string of rubbish again.

“If Australia persists in following the US moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK and remains a shock brigade of the US master, this will be a suicidal act of coming within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of the DPRK.”

Ms Bishop said on Thursday that the sanctions were to send “the clearest possible message to North Korea, that its behaviour will not be tolerated, that a nuclear-armed North Korea is not acceptable to our region”.

She also urged China to step up pressure on North Korea to stamp out its belligerent and illegal behaviour.

In the report from Pyongyang, the North Korean ministry spokesman accused the Australian government of “blindly and zealously toeing the US line” and said Ms Bishop had “better think twice” about the consequences of her “reckless tongue- lashing”.

“It is hard to expect good words from the foreign minister of such government. But if she is the foreign minister of a country, she should speak with elementary common sense about the essence of the situation,” the spokesman said.

“It is entirely attributable to the nuclear threat escalated by the US and its anachronistic policy hostile to the DPRK that the situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to the brink of war in an evil cycle of increasing tensions.”

This is probably just more rhetoric, hot air, rather than an actual threat.

But if North Korea does try a nuclear strike it would probably be easier to hit Australia rather than the US – it’s closer and probably far less protected.

A Northern Hemisphere nuclear strike would be bad enough, but in the mid latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere New Zealand would be at less risk than most countries.

A nuclear attack on Australia is a different matter. The usual weather drift is from there to here.

North Korea probably doesn’t have the weapons nor the delivery systems to hit Australia.

But if they did, and if they did strike Australia, then things get even more serious for us here in New Zealand. And there’s a lot of Kiwi family in Aus.

The Nation: US and North Korea

This weekend on The Nation:

Is the show down between North Korea and the US just posturing?
Lisa Owen talks to Washington Post correspondent Anna Fifield.

Stuff: Russia denies moving troops to border with North Korea

Russian authorities are denying reports that they are moving troops to the border with North Korea over growing tensions in the Korean peninsula.

The Interfax news agency on Friday quoted Alexander Gordeyev, spokesman for the Far Eastern Military district, as saying that the movement of heavy weaponry, caught on film and widely distributed on social media, is part of “absolutely scheduled manoeuvres of combat readiness”.

Gordeyev said the military hardware was on its way back from drills elsewhere and denied any connection to the tensions around North Korea’s nuclear program.

In Moscow, first deputy chairman of the defence committee at the Federation Council, Frants Klintsevich, told RIA Novosti the movement was pre-planned and dismissed reports suggesting Russia was preparing for a possible US attack on North Korea as speculation.

Global News: South Korea on heightened alert amid concerns over new North Korea nuke test

South Korea said on Friday it was on heightened alert ahead of another important anniversary in North Korea, with a large concentration of military hardware amassed on both sides of the border amid concerns about a new nuclear test by Pyongyang.

North Korea said late on Friday the state of affairs on the Korean peninsula was “extremely perilous” because of “madcap American nuclear war manoeuvres aimed at trampling on our sovereignty and right to survival.”

U.S. officials said there was a higher-than-usual level of activity by Chinese bombers, signalling a possible heightened state of readiness by reclusive North Korea’s sole major ally, although the officials played down concern and left open a range of possible reasons. Beijing denied its aircraft were on an increased level of alert.

 

Big dicks from North Korea to Iran

While North Korean ‘pre-emptive strike’ rhetoric has ramped up the US has added Iran to it’s nuclear targets.

Reuters: North Korea warns of ‘super-mighty preemptive strike’ as U.S. plans next move

North Korean state media warned the United States of a “super-mighty preemptive strike” after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States was looking at ways to bring pressure to bear on North Korea over its nuclear programme.

The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, did not mince its words.

“In the case of our super-mighty preemptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only U.S. imperialists’ invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes,” it said.

This follows multi-pronged verbal attacks from the US.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, on a tour of Asian allies, has said repeatedly an “era of strategic patience” with North Korea is over.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said during a visit to London the military option must be part of the pressure brought to bear.

Tillerson told reporters in Washington on Wednesday that the United States was “reviewing all the status of North Korea, both in terms of state sponsorship of terrorism as well as the other ways in which we can bring pressure on the regime in Pyongyang.”

And Tillerson has also aimed similar threats at Iran.

NBC News: Tillerson: Iran Left ‘Unchecked’ Could Follow North Korea’s Path

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Wednesday the United States will conduct a “comprehensive review” of its policy toward Iran, including the 2016 nuclear deal, which he said had merely delayed Iran’s goal of becoming a nuclear state.

“This deal represents the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat we face in North Korea,” Tillerson said. “The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran. The evidence is clear Iran’s provocative actions threaten the U.S., the region and the world.”

Tillerson notified Congress on Tuesday that despite finding that Iran was meeting the terms of the deal, the Trump administration was reviewing whether to break from the agreement, saying in part that Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terrorism.

Iran is closely involved in supporting the Assad government in the Syrian civil war. The US launched a military strike against a Syrian airfield recently.

The US also tried out their biggest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan last week. This didn’t go down well with ex-president Hamid Karzai.

Time: The Former President of Afghanistan Called the Recent U.S. Bombing ‘an Immense Atrocity’

Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Monday that the U.S. is using Afghanistan as a weapons testing ground, calling the recent use of the largest-ever non-nuclear bomb “an immense atrocity against the Afghan people.”

Last week, U.S. forces dropped the GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb in eastern Nangarhar province, reportedly killing 95 militants. Karzai, in an interview with The Associated Press, objected to the decision, saying that his country “was used very disrespectfully by the U.S. to test its weapons of mass destruction.”

The office of President Ashraf Ghani said following the bomb’s usage that there was “close coordination” between the U.S. military and the Afghan government over the operation, and they were careful to prevent any civilian casualties.

But Karzai harshly criticized the Afghan government for allowing the use of the bomb.

“How could a government of a country allow the use of a weapon of mass destruction on its own territory? Whatever the reason, whatever the cause, how could they allow that? It just unimaginable,” he said.

Since the missile strike and the massive bomb drop the US has launched a war of words on multiple fronts, from Iran to North Korea.

This is a very risky strategy by the Trump regime. The threats and shows of military force may pay off. They could also end very badly if someone’s provocation (from any side) goes too far.

There’s also risks of perception of provocation and unintended consequences, especially if Korea or Iran or Syria or ISIS or Al Qaeda get reported on Fox News insulting the size of Donald Trump’s ego.

The well being of parts of the world, and possibly the whole world, is dependant on the temperaments and self control of a small bunch of bozos, some of whom (on the US side) have no experience with international diplomacy or military strategy.

Big dicks with big weapons are a worry.

Pence posturing continues

Despite many experts and many more ordinary people have serious concerns about provocative posturing over North Korea Vice Mike Pence continues to ramp up the rhetoric along with military visuals.

RCP: VP Pence to North Korea: “The Sword Stands Ready”

From the wind-swept deck of a massive aircraft carrier, Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday warned North Korea not to test the resolve of the U.S. military, promising it would make an “overwhelming and effective” response to any use of conventional or nuclear weapons.

Pence, dressed in a green military jacket, said aboard the hulking USS Ronald Reagan that President Donald Trump’s administration would continue to “work diligently” with allies like Japan, China and other global powers to apply economic and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang. But he told the sailors, “as all of you know, readiness is the key.

“The United States of America will always seek peace but under President Trump, the shield stands guard and the sword stands ready,” Pence told 2,500 sailors dressed in blue fatigues and Naval baseball caps on a sunny, windy morning aboard the carrier at the U.S. Yokosuka naval base in Tokyo Bay.

“Those who would challenge our resolve or readiness should know, we will defeat any attack and meet any use of conventional or nuclear weapons with an overwhelming and effective American response,” Pence said.

From two continents, Pence and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned that North Korea’s latest failed missile launch was a reckless act of provocation and assured allies in Asia that the U.S. was ready to work to achieve a peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Mattis denounced North Korea’s attempted missile launch as he began a Middle East tour, telling reporters traveling with him to Saudi Arabia, “the leader of North Korea again recklessly tried to provoke something by launching a missile,” he said. The term “reckless” is one the North Koreans have used to describe ongoing large-scale U.S. and South Korean military exercises, which the North calls a dress rehearsal for an invasion.

Posturing peace from an aircraft carrier saying “the sword stands ready” is not very reassuring.

Trump and Pence, who stopped at the Demilitarized Zone dividing North and South Korea on Monday, have signaled this week a forceful U.S. stance on North Korea’s recent actions. But it remains unclear what might come next.

Behind the heated rhetoric, Trump’s strategy in the region looks somewhat similar to predecessor Barack Obama’s – albeit with the added unpredictability of a new president who has shown he’s willing to use force.

Can North Korea be trusted? Probably not, but they haven’t done much actual attacking since the Korean war sort of ended seventy years ago.

Can the US be trusted?

The Gulf of Tonkin incident…

…drew the United States more directly into the Vietnam War. It involved two separate confrontations involving North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The original American report blamed North Vietnam for both incidents, but eventually became very controversial with widespread claims that either one or both incidents were false, and possibly deliberately so.

In the 2003 documentary The Fog of War, the former United States Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara admitted that the August 2 USS Maddox attack happened with no Defense Department response, but the August 4 Gulf of Tonkin attack never happened.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_of_Tonkin_incident

The Bay of Pigs Invasion…

…was a failed military invasion of Cuba undertaken by the CIA-sponsored paramilitary group Brigade 2506 on 17 April 1961. A counter-revolutionary military (made up of Cuban exiles who traveled to the United States after Castro’s takeover), trained and funded by the United States government’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Brigade 2506 fronted the armed wing of the Democratic Revolutionary Front (DRF) and intended to overthrow the increasingly communist government of Fidel Castro. Launched from Guatemala and Nicaragua, the invading force was defeated within three days by the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, under the direct command of Prime Minister Fidel Castro.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bay_of_Pigs_Invasion

President Kennedy took the US back from the brink of a nuclear war with Russia.

NY Times: Carrier Wasn’t Sailing to Deter North Korea, as U.S. Suggested

Just over a week ago, the White House declared that ordering an American aircraft carrier into the Sea of Japan would send a powerful deterrent signal to North Korea and give President Trump more options in responding to the North’s provocative behavior. “We’re sending an armada,” Mr. Trump said to Fox News last Tuesday afternoon.

The problem was that the carrier, the Carl Vinson, and the three other warships in its strike force were that very moment sailing in the opposite direction, to take part in joint exercises with the Australian Navy in the Indian Ocean, 3,500 miles southwest of the Korean Peninsula.

White House officials said Tuesday that they had been relying on guidance from the Defense Department. Officials there described a glitch-ridden sequence of events, from an ill-timed announcement of the deployment by the military’s Pacific Command to a partially erroneous explanation by the defense secretary, Jim Mattis — all of which perpetuated the false narrative that a flotilla was racing toward the waters off North Korea.

By the time the White House was asked about the Carl Vinson, its imminent arrival had been emblazoned on front pages across East Asia, fanning fears that Mr. Trump was considering a pre-emptive military strike.

Can the White House and the Defence Department be trusted to get things right?

 

 

North Korea is not unpredictable?

Political and foreign correspondent Stan Grant writes that claims that North Korea is unpredictable are wrong.

RNZ: Kim probable: Why North Korea is not unpredictable

I have lost count of how many times this week I have heard or read analysts – and indeed government ministers – describe North Korea as “unpredictable”. It is a cliche, it is simplistic and it is wrong.

Nearly two decades of covering the goings-on inside the ‘hermit kingdom’ – both outside and inside the country – has taught me that the Kim regime is dangerous, brutal and petulant but if anything, predictable.

Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions reach back to the 1960s, but accelerated in the ’80s. It has conducted at least five nuclear tests, the most recent just last year, raising speculation – widely discounted – that North Korea has developed a hydrogen bomb, much more powerful than conventional atomic bombs.

According to various estimates, it has a stockpile of at least 10 and perhaps as many as 20 nuclear weapons. What it needs is the capacity to deliver them. It is working on that, developing missiles that could reach Australia or the continental United States.

Many will see that as dangerous. But so far in the nuclear age no country has used nuclear weapons to launch a new attack on another country.

None of that is unpredictable. It is calculated and it is aimed at one thing – regime survival.

Victor Cha, long-time North Korea watcher, American academic and author of The Impossible State: North Korea, Past and Future, once revealed that in nuclear negotiations with the United States and other parties in 2005, a Pyongyang envoy candidly said:

“The reason you attacked Afghanistan is because they don’t have nukes. And look at what happened to Libya. That is why we will never give up ours.”

This was a telling glimpse into the mind of a country that believes it is under siege.

North Korea isn’t the only country to arm themselves with nuclear weapons to try to protect themselves from attack.

Who is most likely to attack North Korea?

North Korea is ringed by American fire-power. There are as many as 30,000 US troops over the border in South Korea and just this week Washington has ordered its warships into the Korean coast.

North Korea and the US are still technically at war more than 60 years after the armistice. There has never been a peace treaty.

And the US under President Trump has increased it’s threatening language, going as far as saying they are considering a ‘-pre-emptive’ attack on North Korea.

I wouldn’t trust North Korea – especially when put under this much pressure.

But if a nuclear bomb goes off it won’t be just one country that is responsible.

Who is the most unpredictable, Kim or Trump?

Developments in North Korea

 

There is a lot of world attention and concern about escalating tensions over North Korea, with contradictory messages of joint resolutions contrasting with continued rhetoric and threats from the US.

The US and China reported to be trying to work together on appropriate responses and actions, but at the same time Vice President Mike Pence continues the inflammatory rhetoric, and anonymous White House leaks continue to threaten military action.

  • The United States, its allies and China are working together on a range of responses to North Korea’s latest attempted ballistic missile test, U.S. President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said on Sunday, citing what he called an international consensus to act.
  • Pence Calls Launch a ‘Provocation’
    Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday described North Korea’s failed missile test as “a provocation” that highlighted the risks plaguing both the region and the United States, as the White House said President Trump had an array of military, diplomatic and other options to respond.
  • White House Said to Not Shy Away From Sudden Strike on North Korea
    In the wake of North Korea’s failed medium-range missile test this weekend, President Donald Trump is willing to consider ordering “kinetic” military action, including a sudden strike, to counteract North Korea’s destabilizing actions in the region, said a person familiar with the White House’s thinking.

 

US general discussion

News or views or issues from the USA.USFlag


See suggested posting changes in World news

 

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.

Military strike on North Korea only option?

There’s been a lot of US related news lately. This from a couple of days ago has more meaning after the missile strike on Syria with an accompanying warning to North Korea.

Fox News: Military strike on North Korea may be only option, Gen. Keane says

On the heels of yet another North Korean missile test, albeit one the Pentagon says failed, and ahead of a meeting between President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Trump’s first choice for Secretary of Defense told Fox News the U.S. is right to consider first-strike military action against Pyongyang.

“We’re rapidly and dangerously heading towards the reality that the military option is the only one left when it comes to getting North Korea to denuclearize and not weaponized [intercontinental ballistic missiles],” said retired four-star Gen. Jack Keane.

Keane said going to war is undesirable to the Trump administration because of the toll it would take on human lives.

“But the Trump administration cannot accept a nuclear launch,” he said. “We cannot rely on our missile-defense system to defeat it and expose the American people to a nuclear attack. Therefore if an ICBM attack was imminent the president would have to conduct a preemptive strike.”

Also from Fox: Syria airstrikes: The critical message Trump sent to North Korea, China and Russia

President Trump’s limited, proportional missile strike on a single Syrian air base had a clear purpose: Punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for having launched a chemical weapons attack that killed over 85 of his citizens and deter him (and others) from engaging in similar WMD-related war crimes.

But the launching of some 59 sea-based Tomahawk cruise missiles against the Syrian Air Force’s base of Shayrat sends a strong message not only to Syria but to several other states and groups with a stake in the outcome of that country’s brutal civil war.

To North Korea, the strike is a warning that Mr. Trump is willing to match action with his tough tweets warning that the U.S. will not permit Pyongyang to threaten American security by marrying its small nuclear arsenal with intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching our shores. North Korea is also believed to possess chemical weapons which it could reign down on Seoul and American forces stationed near the South Korean capital in the event of conflict.

To China, it shows that Mr. Trump is prepared to make good on his pledge to take unilateral action against North Korea if Beijing is unwilling to pressure its mercurial neighbor into suspending, if not dismantling its own nuclear program.

And perhaps most important, the strike shows Russia that President Trump’s unlikely bromance with Russia’s autocratic ruler Vladimir Putin has its limits, and that Mr. Trump is likely to insist that Mr. Putin stop making excuses for his brutal client and contain Mr. Assad’s most outrageous conduct.

Military action which throws Moscow off-balance could not come at a better time for Mr. Trump, whose administration is beset by multiple investigations into whether his campaign officials colluded with Russia in interfering in America’s presidential election and whether such collusion helped elect Mr. Trump over his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.

What could possibly go wrong?

At least the arms industry boom should be mostly helping US businesses.

Palmer Report: Donald Trump owns stock in the Tomahawk missiles he used in Syria

Donald Trump’s financial entanglements have been the focus of consistent controversy since he took office. He claimed he was putting his assets in a “blind trust” which was later revealed not to be one (source: Chicago Tribune). He’s also been accused of using his office to enrich his hotels.

He often takes a White House entourage to his Florida resort for the weekend, and that’s where he has met both the Japanese Prime Minister and in the last day the Chines Premier.

It must be a good earner for his business interests.

But we’ve now reached the phase where Trump has ordered military action which has given direct financial benefit to a company that he owns stock in.

Last night Donald Trump fired fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base. But according to the Washington Post (link), they were a poor choice of weaponry under the circumstances, because Russia has S-400 surface to air defense technology in place in Syria which could easily have shot them down.

In addition, Reuters is reporting that the Syrian air base was barely harmed (link), and is already back to operational capacity today, because the Tomahawks were aimed at the least important targets on the base.

This means that Trump went with the wrong weaponry when he ordered the Tomahawk attack (his military advisers would have explained this to him), and he used the missiles merely put on a show for TV viewers at home, rather than doing any real damage.

In other words Trump just set a bunch of Tomahawk missiles on fire which, according to a recent Defense Department report (link), may have been worth as much as $93.8 million in total. Why would he do this? Well, he does own shares of stock in the company that makes the Tomahawks.

If that’s true the missile strike is a win win win for Trump. And the jackpot could be North Korea.

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?