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Trump Threatens N.Korea with Nuclear War


Trump Threatens North Korea with Nuclear War. My Nuclear Button is Bigger and it Works


The Trump administration has begun the year with an open and reckless threat of nuclear war against North Korea—a conflict that would inevitably drag in other nuclear-armed powers, with catastrophic consequences for the world.

In a New Year’s speech, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un offered talks with South Korea to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula but warned the US he was ready to defend North Korea. The entire US mainland, he declared, was “within the range of our nuclear weapons and the nuclear button is always on the desk of my office.”

US President Donald Trump fired off a derogatory and provocative tweet:

“Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

The remarks further inflame an extremely tense situation and undermine the meeting between North and South Korea scheduled for next Tuesday. In an earlier tweet, Trump was decidedly cool toward the prospect of such talks, saying:

“Perhaps that is good news, perhaps not—we will see!”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders faced hostile questioning over Trump’s tweet, with one journalist asking: “

Should Americans be concerned about the President’s mental fitness that he appears to be speaking so lightly about threats regarding a nuclear button?”

Sanders responded by questioning North Korean leader Kim’s mental fitness, then aggressively defending Trump’s threat.

“This is a president,” she declared, “who’s not going to cower down and he’s not going to be weak, and is going to… stand up and protect the American people.”

Sanders attacked the previous Obama administration for failing to tackle North Korea and declared that the Trump administration was going to continue its strategy of “maximum pressure” on the Pyongyang regime. Trump has insisted he will not allow North Korea to build a nuclear missile capable of reaching continental America and will, if necessary, use military force to prevent it.

Trump came under fire from several congressional Democrats, with Ro Khanna calling for new legislation restricting the president’s ability to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike without authorisation. Jim Himes expressed the fear that Trump’s tweet could result in a fatal miscalculation with North Korea, warning:

“That would get real very quickly.”

These reactions reflect sharp divisions in ruling circles in Washington over Trump’s confrontational policies toward North Korea and China, which have produced mounting calls for the president’s removal.

“This Tweet alone is grounds for removal from office under the 25th Amendment. This man should not have nukes,” Richard Painter, a lawyer who worked for President George W. Bush commented.

Under the 25th amendment, the vice-president and a majority of cabinet can dismiss a president deemed to be unfit to hold office.

The bitter factional disputes in Washington are tactical in character. The political establishment as a whole has backed a succession of criminal wars of aggression over the past 25 years and would not hesitate to back the use of nuclear weapons to defend US economic and strategic interests. Those opposed to Trump, however, view Russia rather than China as the most immediate threat to be dealt with.

Trump’s bellicose threats to use the huge US nuclear arsenal are not just aimed at North Korea. They are designed to send a warning to any country that poses a challenge to American global hegemony. Trump has continued President Barack Obama’s “pivot to Asia” against China that includes a huge military build-up in the Asia Pacific region in preparation for war.

The Trump administration has exploited the supposed North Korean threat to justify huge joint military exercises with South Korea and pressure China to impose crippling sanctions on the Pyongyang regime. The Chinese leadership is clearly concerned at the danger of war, including nuclear war, in its backyard, but also reluctant to provoke a crisis in North Korea that could be used to install a pro-US regime in Pyongyang.

An editorial in the state-owned Global Times yesterday expressed alarm at Trump’s tweet, declaring that “vying for who has a bigger, more powerful nuclear button is definitely not a solution” to the confrontation.

The editorial warned that the standoff on the Korean Peninsula could not continue.

“It will get better, or get worse. If there is no major turnaround, a horrible situation might not be so far away,” it stated.

The Trump administration has repeatedly rejected Chinese proposals for negotiations with North Korea.

The terrible scale of destruction that even a limited war on the Korean Peninsula, or restricted nuclear exchange, was outlined in a lengthy essay entitled “The Korean Missile Crisis: Why Deterrence Is Still the Best Option” in the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs.

The author Scott Sagan, who is highly critical of Trump, warned that the current confrontation with North Korea was more dangerous than the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, during which the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war. He argued for a policy of containment and deterrence of a nuclear-armed North Korea, akin to US strategy during the Cold War.

The alternative, Sagan explained, would be horrendous.

“According to NUKEMAP, a single 100-kiloton nuclear weapon detonated above the port city of Busan, in South Korea… would kill 440,000 people in seconds. A weapon of that size detonated over Seoul would kill 362,000; over San Francisco, the number would be 323,000.”

These estimates did not include deaths from fires and nuclear fallout.

A nuclear war would kill millions, even if it did not involve other nuclear-armed powers such as Russia and China. Yet that is exactly what Trump is threatening. Using the United Nations as a world stage last year, he belligerently declared he would “totally destroy” North Korea if it posed a threat to the US.

Sagan’s assessment was echoed this week by former US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen who warned that the world was “closer, in my view, to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we have ever been.” Mullen was pessimistic about any peaceful solution, saying:

“I don’t see the opportunities to solve this diplomatically at this particular point.”

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Will Washington Attack North Korea?



North Korea threatens no one. Yet Trump’s rage for war makes the unthinkable increasingly possible. What’s ongoing in America is similar to what preceded US aggression on Iraq in 2003 – both nations and their leadership demonized, unfounded threats alleged.

Trump’s National Security Strategy said North Korea could use nuclear weapons against America. It also claimed it’s “pursuing chemical and biological weapons which could also be delivered by missile.”

These accusations are utter nonsense. Yet they continue, escalating tensions, maybe heading toward a point of no return.

Russia’s ambassador to China Andrei Denisov expressed concern, saying we’re “witnessing…negative escalation as (America and the DPRK) continue to descend the stair.”

Responding to each other in harsh terms “means taking another step down…the lowest point yet…(T)he situation is…alarming (and) unpredictable.”

The only solution is diplomacy, he stressed, not forthcoming because Trump rejects it. Can Russia and China save the region from catastrophic war, likely to be nuclear if launched?

Their best efforts so far failed. US rage for confrontation undermined them. The situation is extraordinarily dangerous. The threat of war between two nuclear powers should terrify everyone.

Chinese government advisor Shi Yinhong said

“(c)onditions on the peninsula now make for the biggest risk of a war in decades,” adding:

“North Korea is a time bomb. We can only delay the explosion, hoping that by delaying it, a time will come to remove the detonator.”

Former Nanjing Military Region deputy commander Wang Hongguang warned war could happen any time.

“Northeast China should mobilize (its) defenses,” he stressed.

Days earlier, the northern Chinese Jilin Daily published a full-page article on what to do in case of a nuclear attack – expressing concern about possible imminent war.

On Wednesday, London’s Telegraph headlined “Exclusive: US making plans for ‘bloody nose’ military attack on North Korea,” saying:

“The White House has ‘dramatically’ stepped up preparation for a military solution in recent months…”

Options include destroying DPRK launch sites and stockpiles of weapons. The Telegraph cited and quoted two former US officials “familiar with current thinking,” along with a current member of Trump’s administration.

“The Pentagon is trying to find options that would allow them to punch the North Koreans in the nose, get their attention and show that we’re serious,” a former unnamed US official said.

According to the Telegraph, US and UK officials believe the Trump administration is more willing to consider military options…than widely assumed.”

“(S)enior British diplomats fear America has already begun a ‘step by step’ military build-up in the region that could escalate,” the paper said.

After meeting with US National Security Advisor HR McMaster recently, one unnamed UK official left believing the Trump administration rejects diplomacy.

“(M)ilitary action is very much an option” on the table, he said.

Former GW Bush defense strategy director Kori Schake said

“(t)he (Trump) White House very strongly believes that either North Korea will agree to give up its nuclear weapons or we will launch a preventative attack to destroy them,” adding:

“I would put the odds of them actually carrying that out at three in 10. Other policy experts say it is four in ten.”

Trump and McMaster increasingly favor the military option, said the Telegraph. Defense Secretary Mattis and Secretary of State Tillerson argued against it.

Will the Trump administration attack North Korea? Things seem heading incrementally in this direction.

Waging war on the country would be madness, endangering the entire region.

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Tillerson Rules Out a Containment Strategy for North Korea


U.S. again offers talks without preconditions, warns of military option

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson PHOTO:JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday the U.S. wants to have a dialogue with North Korea “anytime,” backing away from Washington’s previous demand that Pyongyang give up its nuclear weapons before they come to the table. Photo: AP

WASHINGTON—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ruled out pursuing a traditional Cold War-style containment and deterrence strategy against a nuclear-armed North Korea, citing concerns that Pyongyang will transform its arsenal into a commercial business and sell nuclear weapons to other actors.

“Many people have asked the question, ‘Well, why can’t you live with a containment strategy? You lived with it with Russia. You lived with it with China,’” Mr. Tillerson said. “The difference is that with the past behavior of North Korea, it is clear to us that they would not just use the possession of nuclear weapons as a deterrent. This would become a commercial activity for them.”

President Donald Trump has long said he won’t tolerate a North Korea with nuclear weapons capable of striking American shores. Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo warned in September that North Korea was willing to share its nuclear arms technology with “lots of folks,” including potentially Iran. And a U.N. report last March detailed how North Korea attempted to sell nuclear material to unidentified international buyers in 2016.

Mr. Tillerson’s comments on Tuesday to an audience at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington made clear that the Trump administration sees the possibility of nuclear technology sales as reason enough to quash the possibility of a deterrence strategy—which would de facto accept North Korea as a nuclear power while preventing Pyongyang from using the weapons through mutually assured destruction.

The secretary of State said the U.S. had already seen elements of North Korea’s commercial nuclear activity in the marketplace and couldn’t accept that development, particularly in a world where hostile nonstate groups pose some of the greatest threats to the U.S. Unlike the Soviet Union and China, Mr. Tillerson said, North Korea has no record whatsoever of abiding by international norms.

“That’s the reason the president and I agree with his assessment that we simply cannot accept a nuclear armed North Korea,” Mr. Tillerson said. He vowed to pursue diplomacy with Mr. Kim “until the first bomb drops” but reiterated that U.S. military options remained on the table.

North Korea has conducted three intercontinental ballistic missile launches since last summer and six nuclear weapons tests since 2006. The growing pace and complexity of the tests in recent months has alarmed officials in Washington, who have spearheaded a pressure campaign against Pyongyang, including the harshest international sanctions ever applied on North Korea, in an effort to induce Mr. Kim to give up his program.

Last summer, Mr. Tillerson said the U.S. wanted to enter a dialogue with North Korea only if Pyongyang comes to the table assuming it will give up its nuclear weapons. But the top U.S. diplomat since has tempered that stance and opened the door to talks without preconditions, even as he has admitted that North Korea has never been a reliable counterpart in talks.

“We have said from the diplomatic side we are ready to talk anytime North Korea would like to talk,” Mr. Tillerson said Tuesday. “Let’s just meet.”

Mr. Tillerson said the first meeting would allow both sides to put everything they want on the table and get started. He warned, however, it would be “tough to talk” if in the middle of the talks, North Korea tested another device.

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is continuing efforts to step up pressure on Pyongyang. Mr. Trump has been pressuring China to place a full oil embargo on North Korea to stop the tests and bring Pyongyang into negotiations, but critics have raised human rights concerns about the impact that such an embargo would have on North Korean citizens in the middle of the winter.

Mr. Tillerson appeared to back the president’s rationale for a full oil embargo. “The last time the North Koreans came to the table, it was because China cut the oil off,” he said. “Three days later, the North Koreans were at the table talking.”

He said China was taking steps to prepare for North Korean refugees flowing over the border, in the event of an internal crisis in Pyongyang or a military conflict. He said such refugee flows are something China can manage and that the threat isn’t as significant as others have suggested.

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Shall We Fight Them All?

By Pat Buchanan 

On Saturday 29 of August, Kim Jong Un tested an ICBM of sufficient range to hit the U.S. mainland. He is now working on its accuracy, and a nuclear warhead small enough to fit atop that missile that can survive re-entry.

Unless we believe Kim is a suicidal madman, his goal seems clear. He wants what every nuclear power wants — the ability to strike his enemy’s homeland with horrific impact, in order to deter that enemy.

Kim wants his regime recognized and respected, and the U.S., which carpet-bombed the North from 1950-1953, out of Korea.

Where does this leave us? Says Cliff Kupchan of the Eurasia Group, “The U.S. is on the verge of a binary choice: either accept North Korea into the nuclear club or conduct a military strike that would entail enormous civilian casualties.”

A time for truth. U.S. sanctions on North Korea, like those voted for by Congress last week, are not going to stop Kim from acquiring ICBMs. He is too close to the goal line.

And any pre-emptive strike on the North could trigger a counterattack on Seoul by massed artillery on the DMZ, leaving tens of thousands of South Koreans dead, alongside U.S. soldiers and their dependents.

We could be in an all-out war to the finish with the North, a war the American people do not want to fight.

Saturday, President Trump tweeted out his frustration over China’s failure to pull our chestnuts out of the fire: “They do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem.”

Sunday, U.S. B-1B bombers flew over Korea and the Pacific air commander Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy warned his units were ready to hit North Korea with “rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force.”

Yet, also Sunday, Xi Jinping reviewed a huge parade of tanks, planes, troops and missiles as Chinese officials mocked Trump as a “greenhorn President” and “spoiled child” who is running a bluff against North Korea. Is he? We shall soon see.

According to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump vowed Monday he would take “all necessary measures” to protect U.S. allies. And U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley bristled, “The time for talk is over.”

Are we headed for a military showdown and war with the North? The markets, hitting records again Monday, don’t seem to think so.

But North Korea is not the only potential adversary with whom our relations are rapidly deteriorating.

After Congress voted overwhelmingly for new sanctions on Russia last week and Trump agreed to sign the bill that strips him of authority to lift the sanctions without Hill approval, Russia abandoned its hopes for a rapprochement with Trump’s America. Sunday, Putin ordered U.S. embassy and consulate staff cut by 755 positions.

The Second Cold War, begun when we moved NATO to Russia’s borders and helped dump over a pro-Russian regime in Kiev, is getting colder. Expect Moscow to reciprocate Congress’ hostility when we ask for her assistance in Syria and with North Korea.

Last week’s sanctions bill also hit Iran after it tested a rocket to put a satellite in orbit, though the nuclear deal forbids only the testing of ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads. Defiant, Iranians say their missile tests will continue.

Recent days have also seen U.S. warships and Iranian patrol boats in close proximity, with the U.S. ships firing flares and warning shots. Our planes and ships have also, with increasingly frequency, come to close quarters with Russian and Chinese ships and planes in the Baltic and South China seas.

While wary of a war with North Korea, Washington seems to be salivating for a war with Iran. Indeed, Trump’s threat to declare Iran in violation of the nuclear arms deal suggests a confrontation is coming.

One wonders: If Congress is hell-bent on confronting the evil that is Iran, why does it not cancel Iran’s purchases and options to buy the 140 planes the mullahs have ordered from Boeing?

Why are we selling U.S. airliners to the “world’s greatest state sponsor of terror”? Let Airbus take the blood money.

Apparently, U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Somalia are insufficient to satiate our War Party. Now it wants us to lead the Sunnis of the Middle East in taking down the Shiites, who are dominant in Iran, Iraq, Syria and South Lebanon, and are a majority in Bahrain and the oil-producing regions of Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. military has its work cut out for it. President Trump may need those transgender troops.

Among the reasons Trump routed his Republican rivals in 2016 is that he seemed to share an American desire to look homeward.

Yet, today, our relations with China and Russia are as bad as they have been in decades, while there is open talk of war with Iran and North Korea.

Was this what America voted for, or is this what America voted against?

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Why Do North Koreans Hate Us?


Korean women weep as they identify bodies on Oct. 28, 1953. The army said the victims were among political prisoners killed by suffocation by the Communists outside Hambung, Korea. The Army said the victims were forced into caves which were then sealed off. (AP Photo)

[Editor’s note: The great secret of the Korean War is that the North invaded the South in order to liberate them from the brutal, murderous totalitarian Rhee regime that had been installed by the US. They almost succeeded in pushing the foreigners out of the country but in the end, they got embroiled in three long years of war that saw the US and their UN allies burn virtually every village and town in the North and bombing raids to rival those inflict on Japan in WW2 in their murderous slaughter of civilians. By the time of the ceasefire the North was a wasteland and it’s people were starving, homeless refugees; they had been ‘bombed back to the stone age’ to use a US military phrase. Small wonder the North has not forgiven or forgotten and maintains a burning hatred. Ian]

The Intercept
Why Do North Koreans Hate Us? One Reason — They Remember the Korean War.

“WHY DO THEY hate us?”

It’s a question that has bewildered Americans again and again in the wake of 9/11, in reference to the Arab and Muslim worlds. These days, however, it’s a question increasingly asked about the reclusive North Koreans.

Let’s be clear: There is no doubt that the citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea both fear and loathe the United States. Paranoia, resentment, and a crude anti-Americanism have been nurtured inside the Hermit Kingdom for decades. Children are taught to hate Americans in school while adults mark a “Struggle Against U.S. Imperialism Month” every year (it’s in June, in case you were wondering).

North Korean officials make wild threats against the United States while the regime, led by the brutal and sadistic Kim Jong-un, pumps out fake news in the form of self-serving propaganda, on an industrial scale. In the DPRK, anti-American hatred is a commodity never in short supply.

“The hate, though,” as longtime North Korea watcher Blaine Harden observed in the Washington Post, “is not all manufactured.” Some of it, he wrote, “is rooted in a fact-based narrative, one that North Korea obsessively remembers and the United States blithely forgets.”

Forgets as in the “forgotten war.” Yes, the Korean War. Remember that? The one wedged between World War II and the Vietnam War? The first “hot” war of the Cold War, which took place between 1950 and 1953, and which has since been conveniently airbrushed from most discussions and debates about the “crazy” and “insane” regime in Pyongyang? Forgotten despite the fact that this particular war isn’t even over — it was halted by an armistice agreement, not a peace treaty — and despite the fact that the conflict saw the United States engage in numerous war crimes, which, perhaps unsurprisingly, continue to shape the way North Koreans view the United States, even if the residents of the United States remain blissfully ignorant of their country’s belligerent past.

For the record, it was the North Koreans, and not the Americans or their South Korean allies, who started the war in June 1950, when they crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded the south. Nevertheless, “What hardly any Americans know or remember,” University of Chicago historian Bruce Cumings writes in his book “The Korean War: A History,” “is that we carpet-bombed the north for three years with next to no concern for civilian casualties.”

How many Americans, for example, are aware of the fact that U.S. planes dropped on the Korean peninsula more bombs — 635,000 tons — and napalm — 32,557 tons — than during the entire Pacific campaign against the Japanese during World War II?

How many Americans know that “over a period of three years or so,” to quote Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, “we killed off … 20 percent of the population”?

Twenty. Percent. For a point of comparison, the Nazis exterminated 20 percent of Poland’s pre-World War II population. According to LeMay, “We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea.”

Every. Town. More than 3 million civilians are believed to have been killed in the fighting, the vast majority of them in the north.

How many Americans are familiar with the statements of Secretary of State Dean Rusk or Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas? Rusk, who was a State Department official in charge of Far Eastern affairs during the Korean War, would later admit that the United States bombed “every brick that was standing on top of another, everything that moved.” American pilots, he noted, “were just bombing the heck out of North Korea.”

Douglas visited Korea in the summer of 1952 and was stunned by the “misery, disease, pain and suffering, starvation” that had been “compounded” by air strikes. U.S. warplanes, having run out of military targets, had bombed farms, dams, factories, and hospitals. “I had seen the war-battered cities of Europe,” the Supreme Court justice confessed, “but I had not seen devastation until I had seen Korea.”

How many Americans have ever come across Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s unhinged plan to win the war against North Korea in just 10 days? MacArthur, who led the United Nations Command during the conflict, wanted to drop “between 30 and 50 atomic bombs … strung across the neck of Manchuria” that would have “spread behind us … a belt of radioactive cobalt.”

How many Americans have heard of the No Gun Ri massacre, in July 1950, in which hundreds of Koreans were killed by U.S. warplanes and members of the 7th U.S. Cavalry regiment as they huddled under a bridge? Details of the massacre emerged in 1999, when the Associated Press interviewed dozens of retired U.S. military personnel. “The hell with all those people,” one American veteran recalled his captain as saying. “Let’s get rid of all of them.”

How many Americans are taught in school about the Bodo League massacre of tens of thousands of suspected communists on the orders of the U.S.-backed South Korean strongman, President Syngman Rhee, in the summer of 1950? Eyewitness accounts suggest “jeeploads” of U.S. military officers were present and “supervised the butchery.”

Millions of ordinary Americans may suffer from a toxic combination of ignorance and amnesia, but the victims of U.S. coups, invasions, and bombing campaigns across the globe tend not to. Ask the Iraqis or the Iranians, ask the Cubans or the Chileans. And, yes, ask the North Koreans.

For the residents of the DPRK, writes Columbia University historian Charles Armstrong in his book “Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950-1992,” “the American air war left a deep and lasting impression” and “more than any other single factor, gave North Koreans a collective sense of anxiety and fear of outside threats, that would continue long after the war’s end.”

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not pretending that Kim’s violent and totalitarian regime would be any less violent or totalitarian today had the U.S. not carpet-bombed North Korea almost 70 years ago. Nor am I expecting Donald Trump, of all presidents, to offer a formal apology to Pyongyang on behalf of the U.S. government for the U.S. war crimes of 1950 through 1953.

But the fact is that inside North Korea, according to leading Korea scholar Kathryn Weathersby, “it is still the 1950s … and the conflict with South Korea and the United States is still going on. People in the North feel backed into a corner and threatened.”

If another Korean war, a potentially nuclear war, is to be avoided and if, as the Czech-born novelist Milan Kundera famously wrote, “the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting,” then ordinary Americans can no longer afford to forget the death, destruction, and debilitating legacy of the original Korean War.

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US Naval “Armada” Menaces North Korea

With tensions on the Korean Peninsula already on a knife-edge, the US has dispatched the nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Michigan to the region. The submarine, which is capable of launching up to 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles from more than 1,500 kilometres, is due in the South Korean port of Busan today.

The arrival of the USS Michigan coincides with intense media speculation that North Korea will conduct a nuclear or ballistic missile test to mark its Military Foundation Day. The Trump administration has repeatedly declared that the US will use “all options” to prevent Pyongyang developing a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the American mainland.

At the same time, the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, complete with its strike group of guided missile destroyers and cruiser, is headed toward waters off the Korean Peninsula. The Carl Vinson was last reported in the Philippine Sea where it rendezvoused with two Japanese destroyers and will meet up with South Korean warships as it heads north. The US and South Korean air forces are also currently involved in joint war games.

The USS Ronald Reagan and its carrier strike group are based at the Japanese port of Yokosuka.

Earlier this month, President Trump warned North Korea that the US was “sending an armada” to North East Asia. “We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you,” he told Fox Business Network.

Trump reinforced the threat yesterday when he met with the ambassadors of members of the UN Security Council, declaring that the status quo in North Korea was “unacceptable.” In calling on the UN to impose additional and stronger sanctions, he branded Pyongyang’s rudimentary nuclear arsenal as “a real threat to the world,” “a big world problem” that “we have to finally solve.”

US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, warned that Washington would not ignore North Korea’s weapons’ testing saying: The United States is not looking for a fight so don’t give us a reason to have one.” She again called on China to put pressure on its ally North Korea to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

In a tweet last weekend, Trump again insisted that Beijing take action against Pyongyang. “China is very much the economic lifeline to North Korea. So while nothing is easy, if they want to solve the North Korean problem, they will.”

In a phone call with Trump on Sunday, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged caution. While “adamantly opposing” any contravention of UN resolutions by North Korea, Xi, according to Chinese reports, “hoped that all sides exercise restraint and avoid doing things that exacerbate tensions on the peninsula.”

The Chinese government is deeply concerned that the US could trigger a war on its doorstep and has been pushing for the resumption of negotiations with concessions both by the US and North Korea. “Only if all sides live up to their responsibilities and come together from different directions can the nuclear issue on the peninsula be resolved as quickly as possible,” Xi reportedly said.

Trump also spoke by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who told reporters yesterday: “We’ll maintain close contact with the US and high level of monitoring and surveillance as we respond firmly on North Korea.” He said that his government agreed with Trump to “strongly demand that North Korea” show restraint and denounced Pyongyang for being “repeatedly dangerous and provocative.”

The Abe government has ramped up anxieties in Japan by issuing civil defence advice on how to respond in the event of a ballistic missile attack: to take shelter underground or in the nearest strong building. It previously suggested that plans were being drawn up for the evacuation of thousands of Japanese citizens from South Korea in the event of a conflict.

Backed by a compliant media, the US along with its allies continue to demonise the Pyongyang regime, branding it as a threat to the region and the world. While pressuring China, the Trump administration has also repeatedly declared that it is prepared to “solve” North Korea by itself.

The incessant drum beat was continued last week with statements from the US defence and state departments. Pentagon spokesman Gary Ross condemned Pyongyang for “provocative, destabilizing actions and rhetoric, saying: “North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs represent a clear, grave threat to US national security.”

The State Department denounced North Korea in similar terms before issuing a thinly veiled warning. “We do not seek military conflict, nor do we seek to threaten North Korea. However, we will respond to threats to us or our allies accordingly,” a spokesperson declared.

The North Korean regime has responded in kind with bloodcurdling threats to the US, which hand Washington a pretext for its military build-up. It branded the deployment of the USS Carl Vinson as “an extremely dangerous act by those who plan a nuclear war to invade the North” and declared that it was ready to turn the aircraft carrier into a “great heap of scrap metal” and to “bury it in the sea.”

The Trump administration has deliberately ratcheted up tensions on the Korean Peninsula, threatening pre-emptive military strikes if Pyongyang proceeds to conduct a sixth nuclear test or further ballistic missile launches. In such conditions, a miscalculation or mistake could trigger a conflict that would rapidly spiral out of control and draw in nuclear-armed powers such as China and Russia.

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U.S. Vice President Pence Heading to Seoul, Is US Attack against North Korea “On Hold”?

On Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence heads to Seoul, part of a 10-day Asia trip to include Japan, Indonesia and Australia visits. A White House statement said he’ll “arrive in Seoul…on April 16,” return home on April 25.
Trump launching aggression on North Korea risking nuclear war while his vice-president is in East Asia seems unlikely.
For now, he’ll most likely continue tough talk, saber rattle off North Korea’s coastline, pressure China and impose more sanctions. What comes later remains to be seen.
An unnamed White House foreign policy advisor said Pence will meet with South Korea officials on Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, arriving the day after the DPRK’s Day of the Sun national holiday, commemorating Kim Il-sung’s 105th birthday, the country’s founder.
The White House has contingency plans in case Pence’s trip coincides with Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test, the White House added without further elaboration.
According to the US official, the DPRK continues developing its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, expecting further tests, saying:
“With the regime, it’s not a matter of if. It’s when. We are well prepared to counter that,” adding:
“We are fully committed to our security alliances, especially in the face of our evolving security
“And you’ve seen the nuclear threat of North Korea, and we’ll reinforce those security alliances,” suggesting a possible military response.
On Saturday, Pyongyang showcased its ICBMs during a military parade, commemorating Kim Il-sung’s birthday. Seoul said they appeared to be a new type – longer than the existing KN-08 or KN-14 ICBMs.
Submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) were publicly displayed for the first time. On State television, a male voiceover said “(t)oday’s parade will provide a chance to display our powerful military might” – a clear message to Trump, the West, Seoul, Tokyo and Beijing.
Senior DPRK official Choe Ryong-hae said his country is ready to challenge any US-initiated aggression, accusing Trump of “creating a war situation” by hostile rhetoric and positioning US warships off North Korea’s coastline.
“We will respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and a nuclear war with our style of a nuclear attack,” he said.
On Friday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned “conflict could break out at any moment.” Pyongyang considers Trump “unpredictable.”
Perhaps its leadership chose a saber-rattling military parade in lieu of an expected Saturday nuclear test, maybe postponed, not cancelled.
China is Pyongyang’s key ally. In 1961, both countries signed the Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty.
It obligates both nations to provide military and other aid if either one is attacked by a foreign power. The treaty remains in force until 2021.
Beijing wants conflict avoided for obvious reasons. It shares a border with North Korea. Hordes of refugees would seek safe haven in China if war erupts.
Nuclear war fallout would affect the entire region. South Korea and Japan want things resolved diplomatically. Everyone loses in case of war.
Trump said the North Korean problem “will be taken care of.” If China doesn’t help, he’ll go it alone.
Pyongyang’s General Staff urged Washington “to come to its senses and make a proper option for the solution (to) the problem.”
Vice Foreign Minister Han Song Ryol warned “we will go to war if they choose. If the US comes with reckless military maneuvers, then we will confront it with the DPRK’s preemptive strike.”
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi “call(ed) on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage.”
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov made similar comments. Possible Korean war with nukes should terrify everyone.
It’s Trump’s call. His belligerence over diplomacy is great cause for concern.

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US Rejects Talks over North Korea, Declaring “All Options on Table”… Including War against the DPRK?


Amid sharply rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the Trump administration has flatly rejected a Chinese proposal for negotiations with North Korea despite warnings from the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, that Washington and Pyongyang were on a collision course. A confrontation looms as huge South Korean-US military exercises are underway, involving over 300,000 troops backed by an US aircraft carrier strike group, stealth fighters and strategic bombers.

China is clearly alarmed at the prospect of war on its doorstep. Speaking in uncharacteristically blunt terms in Beijing yesterday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned:

“The two sides are like accelerating trains coming toward each other with neither side willing to give way,” he said. “The question is: Are the two sides really ready for a head-on collision? Our priority now is to flash the red light and apply the brakes on both trains.”

US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley emphatically rebuffed the Chinese plan for the US and South Korea to halt their annual Foal Eagle war games in return for a freeze by North Korea on its nuclear and missile programs. Speaking after an emergency UN Security Council meeting yesterday, Haley not only rejected China’s “dual suspension” scheme but provocatively declared that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was “not a rational person,” effectively ruling out any future negotiations.

Haley told the media that the US was revaluating how to deal with North Korea. “We are not ruling anything out and we’re considering every option that’s on the table,” she said, in a thinly veiled threat that the US could attack North Korea. To emphasise that time was running out, Haley warned: “We are making those decisions now and will act accordingly.” The US ambassador was flanked by her South Korean and Japanese counterparts to highlight their support for Washington’s aggressive stance.

After coming to office, the Trump administration initiated a “comprehensive rethink” of US strategy toward Pyongyang. According to the Wall Street Journal, deputy national security adviser K.T. McFarland called for proposals, including those “well outside the mainstream”—ranging from talks with North Korea to “regime-change” and military strikes. Given Haley’s comments yesterday, the White House appears to have ruled out any negotiations and is preparing to embark on a reckless course of action that could potentially plunge Asia and the world into a catastrophic conflict.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that three meetings of National Security Council deputies concluded that “a dramatic show of force, like attacks on the North’s missile and nuclear sites, would probably start a war.” Chillingly, the article did not say that, as a result, the White House had ruled out military strikes.

The US is exploiting North Korean missile launches this week to justify its military build-up in North East Asia, which is primarily directed against China. Foreign Minister Yang yesterday opposed the installation that began on Monday of a US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-ballistic missile system in South Korea. “It’s common knowledge that the monitoring and early warning radius of THAAD reaches far beyond the Korean Peninsula and compromises China’s strategic security,” he said.

However, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime’s response to the danger of war—seeking a deal with Washington, on the one hand, and expanding its own military capacities, on the other—only heightens the danger of conflict. A commentary in the official Xinhua news agency warned that THAAD would result in a regional arms race and suggested China would build more nuclear missiles to counter the US anti-missile systems.

The immediate pretext for the escalating US confrontation with North Korea was Monday’s test firing of four intermediate-range ballistic missiles, which flew about 1,000 kilometres before splashing down in the Sea of Japan. The missile launches, which coincided with the war games underway in South Korea, were accompanied by a militarist statement from North Korea. It declared it would “reduce the bases of aggression and provocation to ashes with its invincible Hwasong rockets tipped with nuclear warheads” if its territory were attacked. Such reckless threats do nothing to defend the North Korean people. They play directly into the hands of US imperialism and only heighten the danger of war.

Washington’s primary target is not North Korea, but China. During the presidential election campaign, Trump deliberately whipped up anti-Chinese xenophobia, accusing China of stealing American jobs and “raping America.” The White House fired the first shot in trade war measures on Tuesday, by slapping a record $1.19 billion fine on the Chinese technology giant ZTE for allegedly breaching US sanctions.

Having previously made menacing statements over the South China Sea and threatened to tear up the “One China” policy, the Trump administration seems to have settled on North Korea as the means for exerting intense pressure on China. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is heading for Asia next week for meetings in Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing that will focus on “the advancing nuclear and missile threat” from North Korea. The State Department said the discussions would “try to generate a new approach to North Korea.”

Tillerson’s trip will seek to further concretise Japanese and South Korean support for US war planning and exploit the mounting crisis over North Korea to bully the Chinese government into making major concessions—not only over Pyongyang, but the entire range of US demands. The overriding aim of the Trump administration, which is accelerating Obama’s confrontational “pivot to Asia” against Beijing, is to halt the historic decline of US imperialism and subordinate China to its economic and strategic interests.

The risk of war is compounded by the political and economic crisis wracking the US and its allies in North East Asia. The South Korean government is mired in a corruption scandal that has resulted in the impeachment and possible removal of President Park Geun Hye and could lead to an early election. Seoul is backing a belligerent approach to North Korea as a welcome diversion from its domestic strife. Similarly, the Japanese government is exploiting the confrontation with Pyongyang to deflect attention from its stagnant economy and justify its own military rearmament. Senior government figures have called in recent days for Japan to acquire the military hardware to conduct pre-emptive strikes against North Korea or any other potential enemy.

However, the most explosive factor in the profoundly unstable situation is the United States, where the entire political establishment and state apparatus is mired in bitter infighting and recriminations over foreign policy and tit-for-tat hacking allegations. The danger is that the Trump administration, which is guided by fascistic figures such as Stephen Bannon on the National Security Council, will choose the path of provocations and military action against North Korea to distract from the profound crisis at home, and to advance its plans for a confrontation with China, regardless of the potentially disastrous consequences.

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