A Blow to Interventionists, as US and North Korea Move Toward Peace

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Critics and pundits have been reacting dismissively to President Donald Trump’s engagement with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. A few weeks ago Donald Trump was going to start World War III with the Korean peninsula’s “Rocket Man,” or so observers said. Now, the prospect for peace, which has never been formally codified by treaty with North Korea since 1953, seems to have critics equally vexed and upset.
Yet, hoping for peace to fail in order to prevent Trump from gaining a victory is to engage in precisely the type of behavior his critics accuse him of displaying.
It is premature to determine the ultimate outcome of this meeting between Trump and Kim. But such a meeting is precisely what President Barack Obama suggested doing in 2008. The GOP derided Obama for this proposal, and many Democrats likely scorned it at the time as well, and they certainly are now.
Engaging North Korea is challenging. First, there is the legacy of the war from 1950-53, in which the North was completely bombed into rubble. The end of the Cold War did little to alleviate tensions; indeed, North Korea had nowhere to turn when it suffered a deadly famine in the 1990s that took anywhere from 500,000 to 3.5 million lives in a country with a population of 22 million.
After 9-11, President George W. Bush named North Korea along with Iraq and Iran as the “Axis of Evil.” Bush intended to send a strong message to North Korea’s then-Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Il. Yet, the elder Kim drew another conclusion, which was to accelerate development of nuclear weapons in order to prevent regime change. North Korea carried out its first successful test of an atom bomb in October 2006.
The fates of Saddam Hussein in Iraq, executed by hanging, and of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, whose killing and mutilation was filmed by a rebel militia, further fixed in mind the lesson that to protect one’s regime it is necessary to possess weapons of mass destruction. After all, Gaddafi unilaterally gave up his chemical and nuclear weapons programs to improve Libya’s relations with the West. The uprisings of the Arab Spring, however, led the liberal interventionists in Washington and Europe to back the forces seeking his overthrow.
But, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to President Trump, is willing to denuclearize. What might be his reasons for disarming and trusting the US, when doing so led Gaddafi to a bloody and gruesome end? And what are the grounds for trusting North Korea this time, when the arms control agreements of the past have fallen apart?
The current situation hints that conditions in North Korea may have shifted in decisive ways. Much of the population in the North appears to have attained a higher standard of living through illegal or semi-legal trade. Such gains are threatened by US-led sanctions, and the triage measures taken by North Korea in the past may not be as effective in keeping the country afloat. Although North Korea remains in principle a socialist state, nevertheless, the government has built complexes for its citizens to engage in this unofficial commerce.
Second, the US proposal to halt military exercises with South Korea is a goodwill gesture that assuages North Korea’s concern for its security and gives neighbors China and Russia greater incentive to cooperate with the US.
Third, Trump’s embrace of Obama’s 2008 strategy to talk with leaders “hostile” to the US, along with rejection of regime change policies of neoconservatives and liberal interventionists may bring about greater regional stability by reducing the risk of armed conflict, a prospect that China and Russia are certain to welcome along with the two Koreas.
Finally, the administration of Moon Jae-in in South Korea has committed itself to engaging the North, breaking with the hardline stances of the two previous presidents. What should not be expected is for North Korea to dismantle its nuclear industry. Nuclear technology can be used to generate electricity and is a prestige item for the North generally.
In short, neoconservatives and liberal interventionists aside in the United States, there is much to cautiously herald in the current moves by Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump toward peace in North Korea.

By Jeffrey Sommers – Peter Paik/Counterpunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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North Korea Threatens to Cancel U.S. Summit

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SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea on Wednesday canceled a high-level meeting with South Korea and threatened to scrap a historic summit next month between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over military exercises between Seoul and Washington that Pyongyang has long claimed are invasion rehearsals.

The surprise declaration, which came in a pre-dawn dispatch in North Korea’s state media, appears to cool what had been an unusual flurry of outreach from a country that last year conducted a provocative series of weapons tests that had many fearing the region was on the edge of war. It’s still unclear, however, whether the North intends to scuttle all diplomacy or merely wants to gain leverage ahead of the planned June 12 talks between Kim and Trump.

The statement was released hours before the two Koreas were to meet at a border village to discuss setting up talks aimed at reducing military tension along the world’s most heavily armed border and restarting reunions between families separated by the Korean War.

The North’s Korean Central News Agency called the two-week-long Max Thunder drills, which began Monday and reportedly include about 100 aircraft, an “intended military provocation” and an “apparent challenge” to an April summit between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, when the rival leaders met on their border and agreed to reduce animosity and set up more high-level exchanges.

“The United States must carefully contemplate the fate of the planned North Korea-U.S. summit amid the provocative military ruckus that it’s causing with South Korean authorities,” the North said Wednesday. “We’ll keenly monitor how the United States and South Korean authorities will react.”
Annual military drills between Washington and Seoul have long been a major source of contention between the Koreas, and analysts have wondered whether their continuation would hurt the detente that, since an outreach by Kim in January, has replaced the insults and threats of war. Earlier — and much larger — springtime drills, which Washington and Seoul toned down, went off without the North’s typically fiery condemnation or accompanying weapons tests.
In Washington, the U.S. State Department emphasized that Kim had previously indicated he understood the need and purpose of the U.S. continuing its long-planned joint exercises with South Korea. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the U.S. had not heard anything directly from Pyongyang or Seoul that would change that.
“We will continue to go ahead and plan the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong Un,” Nauert said.
Army Col. Rob Manning said this current exercise is part of the U.S. and South Korea’s “routine, annual training program to maintain a foundation of military readiness.” Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, said the purpose of Max Thunder and exercise Foal Eagle — another training event — is to enhance the two nations’ abilities to operate together to defend South Korea.

“The defensive nature of these combined exercises has been clear for many decades and has not changed,” said Manning.
Washington and Seoul delayed an earlier round of drills in the spring because of the North-South diplomacy surrounding February’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in the South, which saw Kim send his sister to the opening ceremonies.
Kim told visiting South Korean officials in March that he “understands” the drills would take place and expressed hope that they’ll be modified once the situation on the peninsula stabilizes, according to the South Korean government.
South Korea didn’t immediately make any official response to the North’s announcement.
The North’s statement Wednesday comes amid a flurry surprising moves from the North in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, South Korea’s military said North Korea was moving ahead with plans to close its nuclear test site next week, an assessment backed by U.S. researchers who say satellite images show the North has begun dismantling facilities at the site.
The site’s closure was set to come before the Kim-Trump summit, which had been shaping up as a crucial moment in the decades-long push to resolve the nuclear standoff with the North, which is closing in on the ability to viably target the mainland United States with its long-range nuclear-armed missiles.

By Lolita Baldor and Josh Lederman/truthdig

Posted by The NON-Conformist

What the Media isn’t Telling You About North Korea’s Missile Tests

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Here’s what the media isn’t telling you about North Korea’s recent missile tests.

Last Monday, the DPRK fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan’s Hokkaido Island. The missile landed in the waters beyond the island harming neither people nor property.

The media immediately condemned the test as a “bold and provocative act”  that showed the North’s defiance of UN resolutions and “contempt for its neighbors.” President Trump sharply criticized the missile test saying:

“Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table.”

What the media failed to mention was that,  for the last three weeks, Japan, South Korea and the US have been engaged in large-scale joint-military drills on Hokkaido Island and in South Korea. These needlessly provocative war games are designed to simulate an invasion of North Korea and a “decapitation” operation to remove (Re: Kill)  the regime. North Korea’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un has asked the US repeatedly to end these military exercises, but the US has stubbornly refused. The US reserves the right to threaten anyone, anytime and anywhere even right on their doorstep. It’s part of what makes the US exceptional. Check out this excerpt from an article at Fox News:

“More than 3,500 American and Japanese troops kicked off a weeks-long joint military exercise Thursday against the backdrop of an increasingly belligerent North Korean regime. The exercise, known as Northern Viper 17, will take place on Hokkaido — Japan’s northern-most main island — and will last until Aug. 28….

“We are improving our readiness not only in the air, but as a logistical support team,” Col. R. Scott Jobe, the 35th Fighter Wing commander, said in a statement. “We are in a prime location for contingency purposes and this exercise will only build upon our readiness in the case a real-world scenario occurs.” (US, Japanese troops begin joint military exercise amid North Korea threat”, Fox News)

Monday’s missile test (which flew over Hokkaido Island) was conducted just hours after the war games ended. The message was clear: The North is not going to be publicly humiliated and slapped around without responding. Rather than show weakness, the North demonstrated that it was prepared to defend itself against foreign aggression. In other words, the test was NOT a  “bold and provocative act” (as the media stated) but a modest and well thought-out  response by a country that has experienced 64 years of relentless hectoring, sanctions, demonization and saber rattling by Washington. The North responded because the Washington’s incitements required a response. End of story.

And the same is true of the three short-range ballistic missiles  the North tested last week. (two of which apparently fizzled out shortly after launching.)  These tests were a response to the 3 week-long joint-military drills in South Korea which involved  75,000 combat troops  accompanied by hundreds of tanks, armored vehicles, landing craft, heavy artillery, a full naval flotilla and flyovers by squadrons of state of the art fighters and strategic bombers.  Was the North supposed to sit on its hands while this menacing display of brute military force took place right under its nose???

Of course not. Imagine if Russia engaged in a similar operation over the border in Mexico while the Russian fleet conducted “live fire” drills three miles outside of San Francisco Bay. What do you think Trump’s reaction would be?

He’d blow those boats out of the water faster than you could say “Jackie Robinson”, right?

So why the double standard when it comes to North Korea? Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

North Korea should be applauded for showing that it won’t be intimidated by the schoolyard bully. Kim knows that any confrontation with the US will end badly for the North, even so, he hasn’t caved in or allowed himself to be pushed around by the blustering, browbeating thugs in the White House. Booyah, Kim.

By the way, Trump’s response to Monday’s missile test was barely covered in the mainstream media, and for good reason. Here’s what happened two days later:

On Wednesday,  a US-led flight-group of  F-35B fighters, F-15 fighters and B-1B bombers conducted military operations over a training range east of Seoul. The B-1B’s, which are low-altitude nuclear bombers, dropped their dummy-bombs on the site and then returned to their home base. The show of force was intended to send a message to Pyongyang that Washington is unhappy with the North’s ballistic missile testing project and is prepared to use nuclear weapons against the North if it fails to heed Washington’s diktats.

So Washington is prepared to nuke the North if they don’t straighten up and do as they are told?

It sure looks that way, but who really knows?  In any event, Kim has no choice but to stand firm. If he shows any sign of weakness, he knows he’s going to end up like Saddam and Gaddafi. And that, of course, is what’s driving the hyperbolic rhetoric; the North wants to avoid the Gaddafi scenario at all cost. (BTW, the reason Kim has threatened to fire missiles at the waters surrounding Guam is because Guam is the home of Anderson Airforce Base which is the point-of-origin for the B-1B nuclear-capable bombers that have been making threatening flyovers on the Korean Peninsula for some time now. The North feels like it has to respond to that existential threat.

Wouldn’t it help if the media mentioned that fact or does it better serve their agenda to make it look like Kim is barking mad by lashing out against the ‘totally innocent’ United States, a country that only seeks to preserve the peace wherever it goes?

Give me a break!

It is so hard to find anything in the media that doesn’t reflect Washington’s bias and hostility. Surprisingly, there was  pretty decent article at CBS News last week written by a former Western intelligence officer with decades of experience in Asia. It’s the only article I’ve found that accurately explains what’s  really going on beyond the propaganda. Check it out:

“Prior to President Trump’s inauguration, North Korea made it clear it was prepared to give the new U.S. administration time to review the policy and come up with something better than President Obama’s.  The only wrinkle was that if the U.S. went full-steam ahead with its annual joint exercises with South Korea (especially if that were accompanied by more talk of “decapitation” and more flights of strategic bombers over the Korean peninsula), the North would react strongly.

In short, the U.S. did, and the North reacted.

Behind-the-scenes contacts went up and down, but couldn’t get traction.  In April, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un paraded new missiles as a warning, to no effect.  The regime launched the new systems, one after another.  Still, Washington’s approach didn’t change.” (Analysis: Pyongyang’s view of the North Korea-U.S. crisis”, CBS News)

Okay, so now we know the truth: The North gave it their best shot and came up snakeeyes, mainly because Washington doesn’t want to negotiate, they’d rather twist arms (Russia and China), tighten the embargo and threaten war. That’s Trump’s solution. Here’s more from the same piece:

“On July 4, after North Korea’s first successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch, Kim sent a public signal that the North could put the nuclear and missile programs “on the table” if the U.S. changed its approach.

The U.S. did not, so the North launched another ICBM, very deliberately deeming it a warning to the U.S. that they were to be taken seriously. Still, more B-1 bombers flew over the Peninsula, and the U.N. Security Council passed new sanctions.” (CBS News)

So, the North was ready to do some serious horse-trading, but the US balked. Kim probably heard what a wheeler dealer Trump was and figured they could work something out. But it hasn’t happen.  Trump has turned out to be a bigger bust than Obama, which is pretty bad.  He not only refuses to negotiate but he also delivers bellicose threats almost every day. This isn’t what the North was expecting. They were expecting a   “non interventionist” leader who might be receptive to a trade-off.

The current situation has left Kim with no good options. He can either cave in and terminate his missile program altogether or increase the frequency of the tests and hope that they pave the way for negotiations.   Kim chose the latter.

Did he make a bad choice?

Maybe.

Is it a rational choice?

Yes.

The North is betting that its nuclear weapons programs will be valuable bargaining chits in future negotiations with the United States. The North has no plan to nuke the west coast of the United States.  That’s ridiculous! That doesn’t accomplish anything. What they want is to preserve their regime,  procure security guarantees from Washington,  lift the embargo,  normalize relations with the South,  extricate the US from the political affairs of the peninsula, and (hopefully) end the irritating and endlessly provocative 64 year US occupation. Yankee go home. Please.

Bottom line: The North is ready to deal. They want negotiations. They want to end the war. They want to put this whole nightmare behind them and get on with their lives. But Washington won’t let them because Washington likes the status quo. Washington wants to be a permanent feature in South Korea so it can encircle Russia and China with lethal missile systems and expand its geopolitical grip bringing the world closer to nuclear Armageddon.

That’s what Washington wants, and that’s why the crisis on the peninsula will continue to boil.

by MIKE WHITNEY/CounterPunch

Posted by The NON-Conformist

What Corporate Media Never Tells You about North Korea

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There is a great deal of propaganda and deliberate misinformation about North Korea, which the public should know. While neocons, a cheering corporate media, and Deep State, rush to war with North Korea, information is the ultimate weapon. For example, did you know that North Korea, China, and India, are the only three nations who have committed to a “no nuclear first” policy. They have pledged never to use nuclear weapons “first”, but of course reserve the right to use them if attacked. How many times has the US threatened to use nuclear weapons against North Korea? Do you know that North Korea has repeatedly asked the US to engage in bi-lateral talks, to cool off the ever-escalating tension? The offer was flatly rejected by both Obama and Trump. Can you resolve differences within your family without dialog? No dialogue, no peace. Why won’t the US talk to North Korea?? The neocons, Deep State, and media argument, insist Kim Jong-un is irrational, and therefore you cannot negotiate with him. A look back at recent history illustrates the US and its complicit media demonize anyone we do not like, and the demonizing usually ends up with a war. Manuel Noriega in Panama, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Libya’s Muammar Gadaffi, and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, serve as recent examples. But the demonizing of Kim Jong-un continues as we move towards another war, and once again the public buys into the myth. There are no western reporters allowed in North Korea, and since North Korea is a virtual closed society, one must wonder who knows what Kim Jong-un really is like? On the other hand, some might suggest we have a very irrational leader in this country. This attitude of demonizing is akin to the Taliban’s offer to turn over Osama Bin Laden so many years ago, and the US, then under Bush, flatly rejected the Taliban offer. Sixteen years later we are still at war in Afghanistan. War is the result of failed diplomacy or the absence of diplomacy. Perhaps we did not want diplomacy; perhaps we don’t want diplomacy now.

Do you know North Korea has agreed to suspend its nuclear testing if the US agreed to end the annual war games along the border of North Korea? You may not know the US conducts war games that simulate the overthrow of the North Korean government, and this year there were almost 400,000 soldiers participating. Did you know that?? Do you know the Korean War has never officially ended because there was no formal truce signed? This is one of North Korea demands. A final treaty to end the Korean War was never signed, because if there was a treaty, the US would have no legal basis for the occupation of South Korea with our many military bases. Do you know that in 1993 the US announced it was re-targeting hydrogen bombs from the old USSR to North Korea?

Do you know George Bush called the leader of North Korea a “pygmy”, and said he wanted to “topple his regime”? Do you know Bush also prepared a policy of “preemptive” attack, and referred to North Korea as a member of the “axis of evil”? It was shortly thereafter that North Korea left the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and threw all inspectors out of the country. Neocons, Deep State, and the corporate media, argue North Korea is a threat to the US, and just days ago Trump said they were a “threat to the world”? That is asinine, as Trump’s increase in military spending of 54 billion, is 11 times greater than the entire North Korean military budget. To suggest North Korea is a “threat to the US” or the “world” is either stupidity or an outright lie, and yet a CNN poll shows 37% of the US public believes North Korea is a threat to the US. Who says propaganda isn’t effective? Do you know the recent leader of South Korea was impeached for corruption, and there is a pending election to decide on new leadership? The opposition party wants the US out of South Korea, and wants the THAAD missile system just installed by the US, out.

Theresa May, in Great Britain, shocked many recently, when she announced she would be willing to use nuclear weapons in a “first strike”? Why have we not declared war on Britain, as Theresa May is apparently a bit “irrational”? Experts suggest North Korea has perhaps 8 nuclear weapons, but has no effective delivery system. The US has 7,000.

North Korea has not invaded or attacked any nation since the end of the Korean War, while the US has bombed over 30 countries. How many countries is the US currently bombing?? Can’t answer? Who is the aggressor here? Who has refused to “talk” to North Korea? Who has threatened to use nuclear weapons repeatedly against North Korea?

Why can’t the US simply sit down and agree to bi-lateral talks? Is there a logical reason why this cannot be done? What is there to lose by such talks? This whole policy of antagonizing, instead of talking, is insane! We know its insanity; we don’t know if it is intentional rejection of diplomacy.

By Joe Clifford/DissidentVoice

Posted by The NON-Conformist

China to US: NO military force in North Korea

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China has said ‘Military force cannot resolve the issue’ in North Korea in an apparent message to the United States as Donald Trump has put Kim Jong-Un on notice.

(Washington, DC) Military force cannot resolve tension over North Korea, China said on Thursday, while an influential Chinese newspaper urged the North to halt its nuclear programme in exchange for Chinese protection.

With a U.S. aircraft carrier group steaming to the area and tension rising, South Korea said it believed the United States would consult it before any pre-emptive strike against the North.

Fears have been growing that the reclusive North could soon conduct its sixth nuclear test or more missile launches in defiance of U.N. sanctions and stark warnings from the United States that a policy of patience was over.

China, North Korea’s sole major ally and benefactor, which nevertheless opposes its weapons programme, has called for talks leading to a peaceful resolution and the denuclearisation of the peninsula.

“Military force cannot resolve the issue,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Beijing.

“Amid challenge there is opportunity. Amid tensions we will also find a kind of opportunity to return to talks.”

While U.S. President Donald Trump has put North Korea on notice that he would not tolerate any provocation, U.S. officials have said his administration was focusing its strategy on tougher economic sanctions.

Trump has diverted the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group towards the Korean peninsula, which could take more than a week to arrive, in a show of force aimed at deterring North Korea from conducting another nuclear test or launching more missiles to coincide with important events and anniversaries.

Speculation about U.S. military action grew after the U.S. Navy fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield last week in response to a deadly gas attack.

Wang warned that history would hold any instigator to account.

“Whoever provokes the situation, whoever continues to make trouble in this place, they will have to assume historical responsibility,” Wang said.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told parliament in Seoul he believed Washington would consult Seoul if it was considering a pre-emptive strike. The United States has about 28,500 troops in South Korea.

A Washington-based think-tank that monitors North Korea, 38 North, said satellite images on Wednesday showed activity around the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site on the east coast that indicated it was ready for a new test.

South Korean officials said there were no new signs to indicate a test was more likely, although they also said the North appeared ready to conduct a test at any time.

An influential state-backed Chinese newspaper said the best option for North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong Un, was to give up its nuclear programme, and China would protect it if it did.

“As soon as North Korea complies with China’s declared advice and suspends nuclear activities … China will actively work to protect the security of a denuclearised North Korean nation and regime,” said an editorial in the Global Times, which is published by the Communist party’s People’s Daily.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe underscored fears about threats from North Korea, telling parliament in Tokyo that Pyongyang could have the capacity to deliver missiles equipped with sarin nerve gas.

A senior Japanese diplomat said the United States was putting “maximum pressure” on North Korea to resolve issues peacefully while putting responsibility on China to sway its old ally.

“We will watch what action China takes,” the diplomat said.

While Japan did not see a high risk of military action, it expected to be consulted by the United States if it decided to attack. North Korea has about 350 missiles that can hit Japan.

“DAY OF THE SUN”

Scores of foreign journalists gathered in Pyongyang for North Korea’s biggest national day, the “Day of the Sun”, were taken to what officials billed as a “big and important event” early on Thursday.

It turned out to be the opening of a new street in the centre of the capital, attended by leader Kim.

North Korea marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of state founder Kim Il Sung on Saturday. In 2012, it tried but failed to launch a long-range rocket carrying a satellite to mark the date and tested a newly developed intermediate-range missile last year.

North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said early on Thursday that Kim Jong Un had guided training of the army’s special operation forces jumping from aircraft.

On Tuesday, North Korea warned of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of American aggression. The North is technically at war with the United States and South Korea after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce and not a peace treaty.

The North regularly threatens to destroy both countries.

U.S. officials said Trump was considering sanctions that could include an oil embargo, banning North Korea’s airline, intercepting cargo ships, and punishing Chinese banks doing business with it.

“There’s a whole host of things that are possible, all the way up to what’s essentially a trade quarantine on North Korea,” one official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters in Washington.

Customs data in Beijing on Thursday showed that China’s coal imports from North Korea had plunged 51.6 percent in the first three months in 2017 from a year ago.

China suspended issue of permits for coal imports from North Korea on Feb. 18 as part of its effort to implement U.N. sanctions.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke by telephone on Wednesday, just days after they met in the United States for the first time, underscoring the sense of urgency about North Korea.

Trump said on Twitter his call with Xi was a “very good” discussion of the “menace of North Korea”. He said later on Wednesday the United States was prepared to tackle the crisis without China, if necessary.

From TruNews

Posted by The NON-Conformist

‘We are sending an armada’: Trump ready to eliminate N. Korean ‘menace’ with or without China

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The US is looking forward to working with China to solve the North Korean nuclear threat. But while Washington is mustering its forces in the Korean peninsula, Beijing insists on finding a peaceful solution to Pyongyang’s “denuclearization.”

Less than a week after US President Donald Trump met with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, the two leaders once again engaged on Wednesday, where among other things they discussed the North Korean threat.

“President Xi wants to do the right thing. We had a very good bonding, I think we had a very good chemistry together, I think he wants to help us with North Korea,” Trump said after the meeting with NATO’s chief in Washington

“We talked trade, we talked a lot of things, and I said the way you’re going to make a good trade deal is to help us with North Korea, otherwise we’re just going to go it alone, that’ll be all right too, but going it alone means going with lots of other nations,” Trump added.

The Chinese leader said China is committed to the “denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula but “insists on preserving peace and stability.”

“China advocates to resolve the issue through peaceful means, and is willing to maintain communication and coordination with the US on the Korean Peninsula issue,” President Xi’s readout said, as quoted by the Times magazine.

China has already begun to apply economic pressure on the North by refusing to import Pyongyang’s coal.

“I really think that China’s going to try very hard and has already started. A lot of the coal boats have already been turned back,” Trump told Fox Business Network on Wednesday, adding that “that’s a big step.”

China’s official Global Times daily said Beijing would support harsher UN sanctions against North Korea, including “strictly limiting” oil exports to Pyongyang.

US-China rapprochement on the Korean issue comes after a series of Trump statements which explicitly stated that Washington might act alone if China refuses to participate in an American campaign against North Korea.

Following Friday’s US surprise strike on a Syrian airbase – the first American action undertaken directly against President Bashar Assad – many expressed fears that Washington may opt to strike North Korea too. US military buildup in the region suggests that direct military action against the North could be a real option for the new administration.

When asked by Fox on Wednesday of what his strategy is with the North, Trump said he doesn’t reveal those things.

“I’m not like Obama,” the US president said, criticizing the former administration for announcing plans to strike the Iraqi city of Mosul.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said earlier it is deeply concerned with US policy over North Korea.

“We are really worried about what Washington has in mind for North Korea after it hinted at the possibility of a unilateral military scenario,” the ministry said in a statement.

Unease over North Korea is growing with fears that Pyongyang may soon conduct a sixth nuclear test, possibly to coincide with Saturday’s 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founding father and grandfather of the current ruler.

While China insists on a peaceful solution, Washington continues to flex its muscles in the region. Last week Washington rerouted its Carl Vinson towards the Korean peninsula in a show of force.

“We are sending an armada. Very powerful,” Trump told Fox. “We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you.”

Trump said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, that “he is doing the wrong thing.”

The US president’s comments came the day after Pyongyang once again threatened to retaliate against the US and its allies.

“Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the US invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theater but also in the US mainland,” North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.

To exacerbate regional tensions even further, Japan is reportedly preparing to send several of its warships to join the US armada, informed sources told both Reuters and the Kyodo news agencies.

Furthermore, Washington has sent a nuclear detection plane, the WC-135 Constant Phoenix to Kadena Air Base last Friday evening, Stars and Stripes, the official newspaper of the US Armed Forces reported. The military plane specializes in radiation detection and collects air samples and debris after nuclear detonations using external flow-through devices.

Washington has allegedly sent Seal Team 6 – which killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011 – to participate in the Foal Eagle and Key Resolve exercises being conducted in the region from March 7 to April 30, JoongAng Daily reported Wednesday, citing South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense.

The Seal Team 6 will also be joined by the American Delta Force, which specializes in hostage rescue and counterterrorism. As part of the multinational force operation, both US special forces teams will lead a rehearsal of removing Kim Jong-un and destroying of North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

“It will send a very strong message to North Korea, which is constantly carrying out military provocations,” a ministry official told JoongAng Daily.

From Russia Today

Posted by The NON-Conformist

North Korea ‘ready for war’ after US redeploys navy strike team

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North Korea has warned of “catastrophic consequences” in response to any further provocations by the US, days after a US navy battle group was sent to waters off the Korean peninsula.

The decision to divert the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier and other battleships from a planned visit to Australia to the western Pacific came after tensions increased over ongoing military drills involving American and South Korean forces that Pyongyang regards as a dress rehearsal for an invasion.

“We will hold the US wholly accountable for the catastrophic consequences to be entailed by its outrageous actions,” North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying. “(North Korea) is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US.”

The spokesman cited Washington’s refusal to rule out a pre-emptive strike against North Korean missile sites as justification for its nuclear programme.

“The prevailing grave situation proves once again that (North Korea) was entirely just when it increased in every way its military capabilities for self-defence and pre-emptive attack with a nuclear force as a pivot,” the spokesman said, according to KCNA.

“We will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms.”

Last week’s US strike against a Syrian base is also being seen as a warning to North Korea, after Donald Trump said Washington was prepared to act alone if China failed to exert more pressure on its neighbour to halt its missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

North Korea again defied UN resolutions banning it from developing ballistic missile technology with another test-launch on the eve of Trump’s summit with the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, in Florida last week.

White House officials have signalled that all options – including pre-emptive strikes – remain on the table in addressing North Korea’s steady advance towards developing long-range missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead as far as the US mainland.

The nuclear-powered Carl Vinson’s presence in the area coincides with speculation that North Korea could be preparing to conduct its sixth nuclear test to coincide with key dates in the country’s history, including the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il-sung, on Saturday.

China’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, has played down reports that Beijing has deployed 150,000 troops to its border with North Korea.

Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokesperson, told reporters she was “not aware” of such a mobilisation by the People’s Liberation Army along the 880-mile border. In the past, similar reports had been proven “groundless and false,” Hua claimed.

However, with regional tensions building ahead of Saturday’s Kim Il-sung commemorations, Hua said China was “closely following” developments on the Korean peninsula.

“We believe that, given the current situation, all relevant parties should exercise restraint and avoid activities that may escalate the tension.”

From The Guardian

Posted by The NON-Conformist

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