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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    North Korea ICBM Hwasong 14North Korean's top diplomat says "under no circumstances" will it put its nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles on the negotiating table.

    Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho also says that his country has no intention of using nuclear weapons against any country "except the U.S." He says the only way that would change is if another country joined in an American action against North Korea.

    Ri had been scheduled to hold a news conference in Manila, Philippines, where Asian diplomats are gathered for a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Instead, Ri's spokesman handed reporters a copy of a speech that Ri had given at the meeting.

    Ri says in the speech that responsibility for the Korean Peninsula crisis lies solely with Washington. He says the North is "ready to teach the U.S. a severe lesson with its nuclear strategic force."


    SEE ALSO: North Korea's ICBM tests may be a deception tactic to hide a much more capable threat

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    Japan Japanese Taro Kono

    MANILA (Reuters) - Japan's foreign minister said "heated discussions" took place about North Korea's missile tests and South China Sea disputes at a security forum on Monday, and most countries believed U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang should be fully implemented.

    Taro Kono told reporters there was broad support among the 27 foreign ministers at the ASEAN Regional Forum in Manila for pressure to be exerted on North Korea and for a new U.N. Security Council resolution to be fully implemented.

    Among those attending the event were North and South Korea, Russia, China, Japan and Australia.

    Kono also said Japan supported the United States in its activities in the South China Sea to ensure freedom of navigation, and in a veiled reference to China, opposed "any unilateral attempt to change the status quo by force".

    SEE ALSO: North Korea's ICBM tests may be a deception tactic to hide a much more capable threat

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 8 details you might have missed on season 7 episode 4 of 'Game of Thrones'

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    Kim Jong Un inspects the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14. The North Korean leader said the test completed his country's strategic weapons capability that includes atomic and hydrogen bombs and ICBMs, the state KCNA news agency said.


    The UN Security Council on Saturday voted unanimously to introduce a set of hard-hitting sanctions that could cost North Korea billions of dollars, but while it signifies a big diplomatic victory for the US, don't expect North Korea to stop its nuclear- and ballistic-missile programs.

    According to Yun Sun, a senior associate at the Stimson Center who is an expert on China and North Korea, the US essentially persuaded China to agree to the extensive sanctions on Pyongyang by threatening to sanction Chinese banks that do business with North Koreans.

    With China on board, Russia, a country that refuses to even acknowledge that North Korea has built an ICBM, decided against a conspicuous veto that would draw attention to its dealings with Pyongyang.

    "It's quite impressive how the Americans got the Chinese to agree to such comprehensive sanctions," said Sun, who described the sanctions as "unprecedented, the most comprehensive, most extensive we have seen so far."

    President Donald Trump said that he was "very happy and impressed" with the 15-0 UN vote passing the sanctions and that he had called South Korea's president to talk it over.

    But will these sanctions stop North Korea from building and testing missiles and nuclear devices?

    "The answer is no," Sun said. "The belief that sanctions are going to bring North Korea to its knees have been proven to be false assumptions."

    According to Sun, during economically lean times, it's the North Korean people who suffer. Pyongyang has prioritized its military and will most likely fund its weapons programs above all else.

    FILE PHOTO: North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in this handout photo by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) made available on April 26, 2017. KCNA/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

    Additionally, John Park, the director of the Korea Working Group at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, told South Korea's Hankyoreh that North Korea had billions stockpiled from years of a trade surplus. He projects that the regime could survive for years even under these strict sanctions.

    After the latest sanctions passed, the US offered North Korea an olive branch, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson saying Pyongyang could signal diplomatic talks if it "stopped testing these missiles."

    North Korea replied that "under no circumstances" would it table the missile program for talks.

    SEE ALSO: North Korea's ICBM tests may be a deception tactic to hide a much more capable threat

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    korean war

    The Korean War of the 1950s never really officially ended.

    In the decades since the armistice of 1953 went into effect, both sides have continued posturing for war.

    Before North Korea's Kim dynasty could even imagine developing nuclear weapons, landmines and heavy artillery were a deterrent against the South rising up.

    North Korea has since pursued nuclear weapons for defensive reasons to deter invasion but also for an offensive reason, so it may someday reunite Korea under the Kim regime.

    "The North Koreans’s development of nuclear weapons is eventually aimed at the eventual reunification of the Korean peninsula," said Yun Sun, a senior associate at the Stimson Center who is an expert on China and North Korea.

    With that strategic goal in mind, the particulars of North Korea's nuclear development begin to make more sense.

    North Korea would not need intercontinental ballistic missiles to strike South Korea, whose capital sits just 35 miles from their shared border. Pyongyang has had the ability to detonate nuclear devices in Seoul via short- and medium-range ballistic missiles for years. There's also reason to question the wisdom of nuking a proud, democratic city of 25 million people before attempting to rule it.

    What an ICBM does for North Korea is establish deterrence in the event of a reunification campaign.

    Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Hwasong-14 is pictured during its second test-fire in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on July 29, 2017. KCNA via Reuters

    Kim Jong Un thinks "the nuclear weapons will prevent US from getting involved," Sun said. "That’s why we see more and more people making the argument that the North Korea's nuclear development is not aimed at the US, not aimed at South Korea, but aimed at reunification."

    Luckily, the prospect of North Korea invading the South is slim.

    South Korea has an incredibly capable military with high readiness and a plan in place for every possible contingency. The younger generation of South Koreans desire reunification, but on terms they agree to, and they should be expected to fight hard to protect their homeland in the event of a North Korean unilateral reunification effort.

    US navy uss ronald reagan rimpac 2010 carrier strike group

    Around 30,000 US forces stay in South Korea permanently and the US Air Force keeps heavy bombers nearby in Guam. The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is in Japan permanently, along with a powerful carrier strike group.

    The US forces in the region are there largely as a guarantee of security and solidarity to the Korean and Japanese people should North Korea attack. While Kim bets against the strength of the US-South Korean alliance, it's long been the position of both countries that they could prove him catastrophically wrong.

    If North Korea ever established ICBM and conventional forces that could surpassed the US and South Korea, an invasion by Pyongyang would be likely.

    But North Korea finds itself competing against the world's largest economy and two advanced democracies that are both technological and military powerhouses, so don't expect anything to brave from Kim anytime soon.

    SEE ALSO: The US pulled off a big win getting China to agree to sanctions on North Korea — but the nuke program won't stop

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    NOW WATCH: Watch the US THAAD missile defense system strike a ballistic missile in a target test

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    FILE PHOTO - An Airspace Systems Interceptor autonomous aerial drone flies during a product demonstration in Castro Valley, California March 6, 2017. Picture taken March 6, 2017.     REUTERS/Stephen Lam

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon has given more than 130 U.S. military bases across the United States the green light to shoot down private and commercial drones that could endanger aviation safety or pose other threats.

    The number of uncrewed aircraft in U.S. skies has zoomed in recent years and continues to increase rapidly - along with concern among U.S. and private-sector officials that dangerous or even hostile drones could get too close to places like military bases, airports and sports stadiums.

    While the specific actions that the U.S. military can take against drones are classified, they include destroying or seizing private and commercial drones that pose a threat, Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis told reporters on Monday.

    The classified guidelines were distributed early last month. The Pentagon sent out unclassified guidance on how to communicate the policy to communities on Friday.

    "The increase of commercial and private drones in the United States has raised our concerns with regards to the safety and security of our installations, aviation safety and the safety of people," Davis said.

    In April, flights of nearly all drones over 133 U.S. military facilities were banned due to security concerns.

    Drones have become popular as toys and with hobbyists, and have commercial uses such as aerial photography. Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google unit have been exploring the use of drones to deliver goods ordered online.

    The FAA estimated the commercial drone fleet would grow from 42,000 at the end of 2016 to about 442,000 aircraft by 2021. The FAA said there could be as many as 1.6 million commercial drones in use by 2021.


    SEE ALSO: China's and Russia's stealth fighters don't stand a chance against the F-35 and F-22

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    Donald Trump

    President Donald Trump on Monday criticized media coverage of a United Nations resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea.

    "The Fake News Media will not talk about the importance of the United Nations Security Council's 15-0 vote in favor of sanctions on N. Korea!" he tweeted.

    Business Insider wrote about the success of the UN resolution, quoting expert Yun Sun of the Stimson center as saying she was "quite impressed" with the sanctions. Other news outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, CNN, and New York Times, featured coverage of the story prominently on various media.

    By all indications, China, North Korea's treaty ally and main trading partner, was likely motivated to sign off on the sanctions because Trump's administration threatened to sanction Chinese banks that do business with North Korea. 

    "The Trump administration was poised to impose secondary sanctions on several of these banks—some reports suggested about 10 — but that is probably unlikely now," Bonnie Glaser, the director of the China Power Project at the Center for International and Strategic Studies, told Business Insider.

    But the Chinese banks give North Korea a window into global financing, which Glaser said needs to be addressed if the sanctions are to work on curbing Pyongyang's weapons programs or bringing them to the table to negotiate.

    "Concessions were certainly made," Jenny Town, the assistant director of the US-Korea Institute and a managing editor at 38 North, told Business Insider of the negotiations on the sanctions. Town added that China has a poor record of complying with UN sanctions on North Korea, and called it "wishful thinking" to believe that would change now.

    Kim Jong Un inspects the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14. The North Korean leader said the test completed his country's strategic weapons capability that includes atomic and hydrogen bombs and ICBMs, the state KCNA news agency said.


    Trump has succeeded in getting a UN resolution passed after North Korea laid bare a nuclear threat to the US mainland, but experts said it would do little or nothing to stop the weapons program.

    Overall, "this reliance on sanctions to compel North Korea to rethink its overall strategic goals has not worked in the past," Town said.

    Sun, asked if the sanctions would lead North Korea to back away from weapons development, also suggested they would not.


    SEE ALSO: North Korea doesn't just want nuclear weapons for defense — it wants them to retake South Korea

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    NOW WATCH: Watch the US THAAD missile defense system strike a ballistic missile in a target test

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    U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley directs comments to the Russian delegation at the conclusion of a U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss the recent ballistic missile launch by North Korea at U.N. headquarters in New York. 

REUTERS/Mike Segar

    UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on Tuesday slammed an apparent leak of classified details about US intelligence seeing North Korea load up anti-ship missiles onto a patrol boat.

    "I can't talk about anything that's classified and if it's in the newspaper that's a shame," Haley said in an appearance on "Fox and Friends.""It's incredibly dangerous when things go out to the press like that."

    "You're not just getting a scoop, you're playing with people's lives," said Haley. 

    But it looks like President Donald Trump had another reaction to the anonymous leak.

    On Tuesday morning, the president retweeted the story before tweeting: "After many years of failure,countries are coming together to finally address the dangers posed by North Korea. We must be tough & decisive!"

    The story, a scoop from Fox's Pentagon reporter Lucas Tomlinson, cited anonymous US defense officials as saying “North Korea is not showing any evidence it plans to halt its missile tests,” and describing "a trend that does not bode well for hopes of de-escalating tensions on the [Korean] peninsula.” 

    Tomlinson regularly publishes scoops from the Pentagon, often about breaking news or incidents at sea.

    Trump's focus on North Korea comes after the UN Security Council unanimously voted to impose unprecedented sanctions on Pyongyang a month after the Hermit Kingdom first demonstrated an intercontinental ballistic missile. 

    As president, Trump can declassify information as he sees fit, and he tweeted on Monday his dissatisfaction with much of the press' coverage of the sanctions on North Korea. 

    North Korea has tested ship-launched missiles in the past and relies on boats to receive data from missile tests that stray far from the mainland. The arming of a patrol boat could indicate preparations for another missile test by North Korea. 

    SEE ALSO: The US pulled off a big win getting China to agree to sanctions on North Korea — but the nuke program won't stop

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    NOW WATCH: Watch the US THAAD missile defense system strike a ballistic missile in a target test

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    hwasong 14 north korea icbm

    BEIJING (Reuters) - China will pay the biggest price from the new U.N. sanctions against North Korea because of its close economic relationship with the country, but will always enforce the resolutions, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

    The U.N. Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday over its continued missile tests that could slash the reclusive country's $3 billion annual export revenue by a third.

    Speaking at a regional security forum in Manila on Monday, Wang said the new resolution showed China and the international community's opposition to North Korea's continued missile tests, the foreign ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

    "Owing to China's traditional economic ties with North Korea, it will mainly be China paying the price for implementing the resolution," the statement cited Wang as saying.

    "But in order to protect the international non-proliferation system and regional peace and stability, China will, as before, fully and strictly properly implement the entire contents of the relevant resolution."

    China, North Korea's lone major ally, has repeatedly said it is committed to enforcing increasingly tough U.N. resolutions on North Korea, though it has also said what it terms "normal" trade and ordinary North Koreans should not be affected.

    The latest U.N. resolution bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. It also prohibits countries from increasing the numbers of North Korean labourers currently working abroad, bans new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures.

    china bridge north korea

    "What this is going to do is send a very strong message and a united message," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told NBC's "Today" programme in an interview on Tuesday, adding that Washington would be watching to see the sanctions are enforced.

    U.S. President Donald Trump praised other nations for addressing North Korea's missile programme.

    "After many years of failure, countries are coming together to finally address the dangers posed by North Korea. We must be tough & decisive!," Trump wrote in a post on Twitter.

    Haley said Trump was keeping "all options on the table" for dealing with North Korea and speaking of its leader, Kim Jong Un, said "he has to decide if he strikes the United States, is that something he can win?"

    North Korea has made no secret of its plans to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the United States and has ignored international calls to halt its nuclear and missile programmes.

    North Korea says its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) are a legitimate means of defence against perceived U.S. hostility. It has long accused the United States and South Korea of escalating tensions by conducting military drills.

    FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson makes a speech during the opening ceremony of the 22nd World Petroleum Congress in Istanbul, Turkey, July 9, 2017. REUTERS/Murad Sezer Door to discussions?

    Wang said that apart from the new sanctions, the resolution also made clear that the six-party talks process, a stalled dialogue mechanism with North Korea that also includes Russia and Japan, should be restarted.

    China appreciated comments earlier this month by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the United States was not seeking to topple the North Korean government and would like dialogue with Pyongyang at some point, Wang added.

    The United States did not seek regime change, the collapse of the regime, an accelerated reunification of the peninsula or an excuse to send the U.S. military into North Korea, Tillerson said.

    Wang said Tillerson's "Four Nos" promise was a positive signal.

    China "hopes North Korea can echo this signal from the United States", Wang added.

    Speaking at the same forum on Monday, Tillerson held a door open for dialogue with North Korea saying Washington was willing to talk to Pyongyang if it halted its missile test launches.

    Still, he maintained the pressure on North Korea, pressing Thailand on Tuesday for more action against Pyongyang.

    North Korea said the sanctions infringed its sovereignty and it was ready to give Washington a "severe lesson" with its strategic nuclear force in response to any U.S. military action.

    The successful testing of two ICBMs last month suggested the reclusive North was making technical progress, Japan's annual Defence White Paper warned.

    north korea missile launch

    "Since last year, when it forcibly implemented two nuclear tests and more than 20 ballistic missile launches, the security threats have entered a new stage," the Japanese Defence Ministry said in the 563-page document released on Tuesday.

    "It is conceivable that North Korea's nuclear weapons programme has already considerably advanced and it is possible that North Korea has already achieved the miniaturisation of nuclear weapons and has acquired nuclear warheads," it said.

    South Korea reiterated further resolutions against Pyongyang could follow if it did not pull back.

    "North Korea should realise if it doesn't stop its nuclear, missile provocations, it will face even stronger pressure and sanctions," Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told a regular news briefing. "We warn North Korea not to test or misunderstand the will of the South Korea-U.S. alliance."

    SEE ALSO: Nikki Haley condemns Fox News leak on North Korea, then Trump tweets out the news anyway

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    kim yong un binoculars looking icbm intercontinental ballistic missile north korea hwasong 14 RTX39YHL

    Kim Jong Un, North Korea's supreme leader, may preside over the most propaganda-inundated, oppressed, and ruthless country on earth, but he's not crazy. 

    In fact, under the Kim dynasty, North Korea has time and time again shown strategic thinking and cunning, essentially staying one step ahead of international efforts to curb the regime's power.

    North Korea has for decades gotten its way without a major military campaign, and without a single attack on Americans on US soil. North Korea will continue to get what it wants in a broad sense, though sanctions and isolation will slow it down.

    north korea gdp chart_1024

    And North Korea will continue to get what it wants, enjoying a growing economy, powerful nationalism, and ever-improving nuclear and missile capabilities.

    But if North Korea ever, ever fires one of those missiles in anger, the US will return fire in devastating fashion before you can say "Juche."

    ICBM LGM-30G Minuteman III"Their primary concern is regime survival," a senior US defense official working in nuclear deterrence told Business Insider. 

    North Korean statements trafficks heavily in propaganda, but all sides seem to sincerely believe the Kim regime cares deeply about its preservation, and has built the weapons for defensive purposes.

    "The North Koreans having nukes is a bad thing and we don’t want it. But if we lose that one, we survive it," said the official.

    This statement from a currently-serving US official knowledgeable with nuclear deterrence is a rare admission that North Korea gaining a nuclear ICBM capability isn't the end of the world.

    It's time to stop thinking of Kim as some dumb and "crazy fat kid" as Republican Sen. John McCain recently put it.

    Kim's thinking seems cold-blooded and ruthless to the US, but he's not crazy, and he'd have to be to attack the world's most powerful country.

    SEE ALSO: The US pulled off a big win getting China to agree to sanctions on North Korea — but the nuke program won't stop

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    Kim Jong Un

    A confidential US intelligence report reviewed by The Washington Post concluded that North Korea had made a breakthrough and could now build nuclear bombs small enough to fit on missiles.

    The intelligence community "assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles," a portion of the assessment reads, according to The Post.

    A separate report had said the US calculated that North Korea had 60 nuclear devices, according to The Post — a huge increase over experts' previous assessments.

    In the event of a military conflict, the US would attempt to destroy or seize all North Korea's weapons, so 60 targets would represent an incredibly difficult task.

    Analysts have long suspected North Korea could make a small-enough device to launch atop a missile, but this is the first known internal government document to acknowledge the technology.

    In March 2016, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un posed in front of a silver ball that North Korean propaganda called a miniaturized nuclear warhead, but analysts doubted the isolated regime's ability to construct such a device.

    North Korea has recently been improving its missile program by leaps and bounds, twice demonstrating in July a missile that could strike the US mainland.

    President Donald Trump has increasingly focused on North Korea, and the US succeeded last week in bringing together all 15 members of the UN Security Council to impose tough sanctions on Pyongyang.

    However, experts told Business Insider the sanctions would not curb North Korea's missile programs, and it seems more likely that the US must rely on nuclear deterrence to check an increasingly capable Kim regime.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    North Korea nuclear targets kim jong un

    Retired US Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney told Fox News on Monday that in the event of a nuclear attack from North Korea on the US or South Korea, Pyongyang would have about 15 minutes to bask in its glory before the US flattened the country.

    "If he gets our full nuclear retaliatory capability, within minutes after one round going into Seoul, there will be nothing left," McInerney told Fox's Liz Claman on "Countdown to the Closing Bell."

    "If you go to airborne alert — we used to call it 'chrome dome' — with nuclear weapons, and then we start building up our other forces, et cetera, he will not last 15 minutes," McInerney said.

    The US Air Force commands ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, which are ready to go at any time, and nuclear-capable bombers. In the case of North Korea, the closest bombers are in Guam.

    The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that US intelligence reports on the progress of North Korea's nuclear program had concluded that the country could now miniaturize nuclear bombs and fit them on missiles and estimated it had about 60 nuclear devices.

    McInerney proposed a solution to the increasing danger in the Pacific.

    "I would form a political area treaty organization, similar to NATO," he told Claman. "I would have South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Philippines, Thailand, and other countries out there form a bulwark, not only against North Korean expansion but at Chinese expansion. I would start moving in more Thaad missiles. I would put our nuclear retaliatory capability on ground alert … I would start increasing our naval and air forces in the region."

    SEE ALSO: Why North Korea would be insane to nuke the US

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    A U.S. Navy  F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter lands onto the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered super carrier, in the West Sea, South Korea, October 29, 2015.  REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

    As a US Navy F/A-18 fighter jet returned to the deck of the USS Nimitz, the aircraft carrier currently stationed in the Persian Gulf to support the US-led fight against ISIS, an Iranian drone got way too close for comfort.

    "Despite repeated radio calls to stay clear," the Iranian drone went out of its way to complicate the jet's landing, Eric Pahon, Pentagon spokesperson said in a statement sent to Business Insider. The F/A-18 had to maneuver to avoid the approaching drone, missing it by around 100 feet. 

    The drone was unarmed, and remotely piloted. A US aircraft carrier isn't something any pilot worth his salt would not be aware of. As this was the 13th unsafe and unprofessional interaction between the US Navy and Iran's maritime forces this year, it can be assumed Iran meant to do it.

    Landing a speeding aircraft on a ship at sea presents plenty of difficulty without having a marauding drone bother the pilot on approach, and this just represents one of the ways Iran tries to harass, and ultimately crash US ships and aircraft.

    A single F/A-18 costs around $70 million, and sending one crashing down on an aircraft carriers flight deck could cause tremendous damage and loss of life.

    In mid June, Iranian naval patrol boats sailed up to the USS Bataan, a smaller aircraft carrier, and shined a laser pointer on a helicopter in flight. There's just no reason to shine a laser pointer at another navy's helicopter unless you're trying to mess with them in a way that could easily cause a crash.

    us navy uss boxer gunner

    In other incidents, Iranian ships have charged US Navy vessels causing them to have to fire off flares and warning shots. In each case, the Pentagon describes the events as "unsafe and unprofessional."

    When campaigning for president, Donald Trump saying that when Iranian ships that harass or make rude gestures towards the US Navy "they will be shot out of the water."

    The US Navy hasn't changed its rules of engagement, and Iran's provocations remain under the threshold of lethal response, but as the harassment's increase in scale, the US must consider a response. 

    SEE ALSO: The USS Nimitz aircraft carrier just hit the Persian Gulf to hammer whatever is left of ISIS

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    Kim Jong Un

    President Donald Trump issued an intense warning to North Korea on Tuesday, saying it "best not make any more threats to the United States" or it would "be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen," according to press pool reports.

    Trump's fiery statement followed a Washington Post report that said US intelligence had acknowledged that North Korea could make nuclear warheads small enough to fit on missiles and that the country may have as many as 60 nuclear devices.

    "He has been very threatening beyond a normal state," Trump said of Kim Jong Un, North Korea's leader, while looking straight into the camera. "As I said they will be met with fire, fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before."

    After the UN Security Council voted to impose hefty sanctions on North Korea following its test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, North Korean media responded with a harsh threat, saying the country would exact "thousands-fold" revenge on the US.

    The Trump administration has stressed that it doesn't seek regime change in North Korea, but not every voice appears to be on the same page.

    Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, told MSNBC's Hugh Hewitt that Trump had been clear that "he's not going to tolerate North Korea being able to threaten the United States."

    In June, Secretary of Defense James Mattis told the House Appropriations Committee that war with North Korea would be "more serious in terms of human suffering than anything we've seen since 1953," when the Korean War ended, and result in "the massive shelling of an ally's capital, which is one of the most densely packed cities on earth."

    The US has long made clear that it would retaliate against North Korean aggression with appropriate force. But Trump's statement differs from those of past presidents' by appearing to extend that to North Korean media issuing threats.

    North Korea threatens severe retaliation for virtually every US diplomatic, logistic, and military move that offends the country.

    SEE ALSO: Why North Korea would be insane to nuke the US

    DON'T MISS: 'Trump is not helping the situation': Lawmakers throw cold water on Trump's fiery warning to North Korea

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    Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Hwasong-14 is pictured during its second test-fire in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on July 29, 2017. KCNA via Reuters

    North Korea says its seriously considering a plan to fire nuclear-capable missiles at Guam, according to state-run media.

    A spokesman for North Korea's military told KCNA that it would carry out a pre-emptive operation if there were signs of US provocation.

    The warning comes after President Donald Trump warned North Korea it would be met with "fire and fury" if it continued to threaten the US in a marked escalation of rhetoric.

    The statement from North Korea mentioned using the Hwasong-12, the intermediate range missile tested in May. North Korea said at the time the missile can carry a heavy nuclear warhead, and independent analysis seems to fit with their statement.

    The US military keeps a continuous presence of nuclear-capable bombers in Guam, which would make it an attractive target for a nuclear strike. North Korea specifically mentioned these bombers "which get on the nerves of DPRK and threaten and blackmail it through their frequent visits to the sky above Korea."

    CNN's Jim Sciutto says that the US flew two B1-B bombers over Korean Peninsula Mon out of Anderson AFB in Guam, part of "continuous bomber presence."

    But the US maintains a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense missile interceptor in Guam specifically made to protect from medium-range missiles. THAAD has performed well in test conditions but never intercepted a shot fired in anger.

    Earlier, Pyongyang said it was ready to give Washington a "severe lesson" with its strategic nuclear force in response to any US military action.

    SEE ALSO: Trump says North Korea will feel 'fire and fury like the world has never seen' if it continues threats

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    NOW WATCH: WATCH: Trump says North Korea will feel 'fire and fury like the world has never seen' if they continue threats

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    FILE PHOTO - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS/File photo

    After strong words from President Donald Trump promising "fire and fury" in response to continued threats from Pyongyang, North Korea threatened to launch a nuclear-missile attack on the US military in Guam.

    But North Korea mentioned a specific missile, the Hwasong-12, that it has tested just once, and an expert contacted by Business Insider says hitting the US military in Guam would be easier said than done.

    "No one, not even the North Koreans, knows the CEP of the HS-12," Mike Elleman, the senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Business Insider, referring to circular error probable, or the distance by which a missile can be expected to miss its target.

    "Having said that, we can guesstimate a minimum CEP from first principles," Elleman said. Essentially, even a small task like cutting off the engines a fraction of a second too late can make the missile go miles off course.

    "All told, the CEP will be greater than 5 km," Elleman said. (Five kilometers is equal to about 3 miles.) "But this is a very rough estimate. Given the paucity of flight tests, I suspect if used today, the HS-12 would have a CEP considerably larger than 5 km, perhaps 10 km, or more."

    While Andersen Air Force Base, the home of the strategic bombers North Korea expressly wanted to target, spans about 35 miles across, North Korea would have greater problems than accuracy.

    The massive blast radius caused by a nuclear device, which North Korea, according to news reports this week, is believed to have perfected and miniaturized to deliver on missiles, could make up for a lack of accuracy. But serious questions remain around North Korea's ability to build vehicles to reenter the planet's atmosphere through tremendous pressure and friction. The only test of the Hwasong-12 was done on a lofted trajectory and not a realistic, flatter curve.

    b-1 bomber guam

    "The more interesting and important question revolves around the missile's reliability," Elleman said. Though Elleman thinks the Hwasong-12 would work more often than not, North Korea would need to launch several missiles, and there's just no evidence it has enough deployed and available.

    Additionally, the US military at Guam has the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile-interceptor system, perhaps the most reliable anywhere.

    "We always maintain a high state of readiness and have the capabilities to counter any threat, to include those from North Korea," Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, told Business Insider.

    When North Korea tested its intercontinental Hwasong-14 missile on July 4, the US was aware 70 minutes ahead of time, according to the Diplomat. After North Korea issues a warning like the one it did Tuesday, the US would be even more on guard and may intervene if it spotted North Korea preparing a launch.

    SEE ALSO: Trump touts US nuclear arsenal day after threatening 'fire and fury' on North Korea

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    kim jong un

    For the past 50 years, the world has grown used to crazy threats from North Korea that don't lead anywhere.

    But the threats have taken a decidedly sharper and more ominous tone under Kim Jong Un, the third supreme leader of the hermit kingdom.

    North Korea has carried out several nuclear tests under his rule.

    And threats escalated this week after President Donald Trump said that North Korea would "be met with fire, fury, and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before" if the Hermit Kingdom continued to threaten the US.

    With all this attention, still relatively little is known of Kim. Here's what we do know of how he grew to be one of the world's scariest dictators.

    Jeremy Bender and Gus Lubin contributed to a previous version of this story.

    SEE ALSO: US warns of 'significant international response' if North Korea conducts another nuclear test

    DON'T MISS: The US's show of force toward North Korea may be 'just adding fuel to the fire'

    Kim Jong Un was born on January 8 — 1982, 1983, or 1984.

    His parents were future North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il and his consort, Ko Young Hee. He had an older brother named Kim Jong Chul and would later have a younger sister named Kim Yo Jong.

    While Kim Jong Un's official birth year is 1982, various reports suggest that the year was changed for symbolic reasons, including that it was 70 years after the birth of Kim Il Sung and 40 years after the birth of Kim Jong Il.

    However, a recent move by the US Treasury Department to sanction Kim Jong Un listed his official date of birth as January 8, 1984.

    Kim — here with his mother — lived at home as a child.

    During this period, North Korea was ruled by "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung. While Kim Jong Il was the heir apparent, Kim Jong Un's path to command was far less certain.

    Then it was off to Switzerland to attend boarding school.

    Called "Pak Un" and described as the son of an employee of the North Korean embassy, Kim Jong Un is thought to have attended an English-language international school in Gümligen near Bern.

    Kim Jong Un is described by former classmates as a quiet student who spent most of his time at home, but he had a sense of humor, too.

    "He was funny," former classmate Marco Imhof told The Mirror."Always good for a laugh."

    "He had a sense of humor; got on well with everyone, even those pupils who came from countries that were enemies of North Korea,"another former classmate told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag. "Politics was a taboo subject at school ... we would argue about football, not politics."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    kim jong un

    It may not look like it anymore, but countries still invade one another. Ethiopia invaded Somalia in 2006 to stop Islamist terrorists from taking over the government.

    Israel invaded Lebanon that same year to stop Hezbollah rocket attacks. America invaded Iraq because of the perceived threat of weapons of mass destruction.

    The world's most recent invasions weren't really conducted with the idea of actually annexing countries.

    Well, not lately, anyway.

    There are many other powder kegs out there: India vs. Pakistan, Iran vs. Saudi Arabia, or China vs. all of its neighbors. But the Korean Peninsula is still the most volatile country vs. country situation, given the almost 70 years of animosity, the constant state of war (there was never a real end of the war, only an armistice — and North Korea pulled out of that in 2013) and the continued acts of violence between the two.

    The threat of widespread destruction is the deterrent that keeps the conflict from boiling over.

    It's important to remember that the 1950-1953 Korean War was a disaster for both sides, and that fact is largely what drives North Korean military policy. It's what keeps the people supporting the regime through animosity toward the US and South Korea.

    "Over a period of three years or so, we killed off — what — 20 percent of the population," Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, told the Office of Air Force History in 1984.

    Dean Rusk, a US secretary of state under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, said the United States bombed "everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another." North Koreans either remember the war firsthand or through the stories from their grandparents. Fighting between North and South Korean forces was particularly brutal, and as a result, there is no reason to believe either side would pull punches today.

    Both countries have significant military power. South Korea has one of the most powerful militaries in the world, with 3.5 million troops. North Korea has 5 million troops with another 5 million that can fight in a protracted war. The North Korean songun policy means the military comes first in terms of food, fuel, and other materials before any are given to the population at large. Mandatory conscription (for a 10-year enlistment) means that most North Koreans have some form of military experience.

    The North also boasts 605 combat aircraft and 43 naval missile boats, but the (North) Korean People's Air Force's most numerous fighter is the subsonic MiG-21, which debuted in 1953. The latest model is the MiG-29, from the 1970s, and they're all armed with Vietnam War-era weapons. So in terms of military technology, North Korea pales in comparison to the South. South Korea is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world.

    The South's GDP is 50 times as great as the North's, and it spends almost five times as much as North Korea on defense. Since it can't keep up in traditional combat arms, the North is beefing up its unconventional warfare capabilities, including chemical and nuclear weapons, along with the ballistic missiles to deliver them. It can't deliver the weapons by air because their antiquated air forces would be easy pickings for the US F-22 Raptor squadron on the Peninsula.

    The North is also hampered in terms of alliances. During the Korean War, the Korean Communists were pushed all the way to the Yalu River by Gen. Douglas MacArthur. It was only after the Chinese intervened with massive manpower and matériel that the Communists were able to form any kind of counterattack. Chinese intervention for the North is questionable at best, given its extensive overseas economic ties.

    In fact, it might even be in China's best interest to invade North Korea itself, to give a buffer zone between China and a collapsed North Korean government, or worse, US troops right on the border. South Korea maintains a tight alliance with the United States, which has 30,000 troops of its own stationed there, 3,800 in Japan, and 5,700 on Guam, along with significant air and naval forces in the region.

    A North Korean attack on the South would give the north a slight advantage in surprise and initiative — for a few days. Allied forces would respond instantly, but the North would still have the initiative. Retired Army Gen. James Marks estimates it would have the initiative for four days at most.

    When the first war was launched across the Demilitarized Zone, the DMZ wasn't quite as defended as it is today. No one was expecting the attack, and the bulk of US forces had been withdrawn to Japan.

    Today, an assault across the 38th parallel (the North-South border) is tantamount to slow, grinding, probably explosive death.


    North Korea would open with artillery and rocket fire from positions on the North slopes of the mountains just across the border. The North has the world's largest artillery force, with 10,000 pieces in its arsenal. The bulk of these forces are at the border, with much of the rest around Pyongyang and near Nampo, the site of its electricity-producing dam. It is likely that the South Korean capital of Seoul, just 35 miles from the border, would be the first target and would be devastated in the opening salvos.

    With the artillery on the North side, hidden in the mountain, there would be little warning of an attack, and US and South Korean air forces would have trouble penetrating the North Korean air defenses. Air operations would be tricky because the North keeps tight interlocking lines of antiaircraft guns and surface-to-air missile systems. Pyongyang itself is a "fortress."

    North Korean special operations forces would be inserted via submarines along both coasts and through tunnels dug under the DMZ (many have been found in previous years). Latest reports suggest they would use special operations to deliver chemical attacks and dirty bombs in the South. They also have significant biological weapons facilities in the North that they tested on their own citizens.

    They would also activate sleeper agents in the South to direct missile and artillery fire — South Korean intelligence estimates up to 200,000 special operators in the North Korean military, trained to fight Taliban-like insurgencies.

    The US air assets in the area would establish air superiority over the region, destroy air defenses, attempt to take out the artillery and missile batteries, and then destroy Northern command and control elements. After that, allied airpower would target infrastructure like bridges and roads, especially the unification highway linking the capital at Pyongyang with the border, to keep Northern forces from being able to move effectively inside their country.

    The US would also make humanitarian airdrops outside of major cities to draw noncombatants out of the cities and make targeting regime figures that much easier.

    North Korea nuclear weapon

    After the conventional fighting, the question is whether North Korea would use its nuclear weapons. It is estimated to have up to eight weapons and ballistic missile technology capable of reaching US and South Korean forces in the Korean Peninsula, Japan, and all the way to Guam. However, experts cannot confirm that the North has ever successfully used a warhead on any of its missiles. If the North were to use its nuclear arsenal, nuclear retaliation from the US wouldn't be a foregone conclusion, especially if US forces had the opportunity to capture most of the weapons.

    A recent Pentagon war game against the fictional country of "North Brownland," a country whose dynastic family regime had nuclear weapons that had to be recovered during a regime collapse, found that US troops didn't fare well in retrieving those weapons. V-22 Osprey aircraft were cut off from the rest of the allied forces and surrounded by the enemy. The result was the United States would have to fight through the countryside to the North's estimated 100 nuclear-related sites. In all, it took the US 46 days and 90,000 troops to secure those weapons.

    south korea military exercise

    In the end, the North, despite some early successes, would lose. It would be able to inflict massive devastation with conventional weapons in Seoul and near the border areas. The toll on civilians would likely be massive if it used its biological and chemical stockpiles, and even more so if it used the nuclear arsenal. Special forces would likely use their nukes in the border areas for fear of being caught trying to move South.

    The US would quickly establish air superiority while ground forces bypassed the heavily defended DMZ area. Once the artillery and missile batteries were taken out, the advanced technology, mobile armor, helicopter support, and airpower would quickly overwhelm the large infantry formations and their associated WWII-era tactics. The hardest part of subduing North Korea would be unifying the Korean people and taking care of the North's backward and likely starving populace.

    ROK tanks south korea military

    The US and South Korean governments might want to keep the North at bay instead of overrunning the government. A 2013 RAND Corporation research paper estimated the cost of unification to be upwards of $2 trillion not only to pay for the war, but for food for the population and restoration of all the infrastructure the Kim regime neglected over the past 60-plus years. Gen. Marks believes the North and South will continue to only use short, contained attacks on each other.

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    donald trump

    President Donald Trump issued a stern warning to Pyongyang on Tuesday, saying that"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States" or "they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen."

    It took just over two hours for North Korea to respond with exactly what Trump warned against, a threat against a US territory. 

    A statement from North Korea then threatened to strike Guam, a US territory in the Pacific home to large naval and Air Force bases if the US offered any provocation. The statement specifically singled out the US's fleet of strategic bombers in Guam, which had overflown the Korean peninsula the day before.

    While no military exchange followed the verbal flurry, Yun Sun, a senior associate at the Stimson center, said that damage may have been done to the US's credibility, diplomatic, and moral high ground.

    "There is a striking and interesting similarity between Trump’s 'fire and fury' comment and North Korea’s popular threat to turn Seoul into 'a sea of fire and a pile of ashes'," Sun told Business Insider.

    Sun said that since North Korea traffics in over-the-top threats regularly, it may recognize Trump's threat as a bluff, "but it raises a dangerous scenario where Kim Jong Un continues to defy US threats."

    B 52 over Guam

    Essentially, Trump has backed himself into a corner with his threat against Kim. If he ignores North Korea's response, then the US loses credibility. If he follows through with the "fire and fury," then the US enters into a gruesome and potentially nuclear war that threatens millions of civilian lives.

    "If Trump chooses to react to it verbally, it downgrades US to the same level as North Korea. If Trump chooses to react to it with actions, it sends everyone onto a war path," said Sun.

    Frank Aum, a former senior adviser on North Korea for the Department of Defense, agreed with Sun's assessment.

    "Trump's language is irresponsible and escalatory. It sets a redline and expectation that gives Trump little room to wiggle out without looking foolish," Aum told Business Insider.

    However, Aum suggested an ulterior motive for Trump's brash statement: Putting China on notice.

    Donald Trump and Xi Jinping

    Trump "is threatening a war to get China to clamp down harder on North Korea's behavior. It's a risky maneuver," said Aum, who concluded that increasing threats or military pressure on North Korea had no real effect.

    Whatever the intention, Trump's fiery threats fly in the face of traditional diplomacy, though diplomacy has also been ineffective in dealing with North Korea for decades.

    But most countries agree, "the best approach to deal with North Korea’s inflammatory rhetoric is to ignore it and focus on the real actions" to pressure North Korea, said Sun. "A spat is not going to solve the problem." 

    SEE ALSO: North Korea's nuclear posturing could spur the next arms race — which Pyongyang would lose badly

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    Kim Jong Un

    North Korea's blatant nuclear posturing and missile tests have evoked an angry response from the US and its neighbors in the Pacific, but as tensions rise it risks spawning an arms race that it would lose badly.

    For the first time in the history of South Korea's military, an air force general has been named chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a move likely aimed at increasing air superiority and prowess in missile offense and defense. 

    Jeong Kyeong-doo, the new chairman, "is a specialist in joint operations, and we believed he was the best person to counter the North’s advancing nuclear and missile threats,” a defense ministry official told Korea JoonAng Daily.

    Meanwhile, Seoul has asked to talk to the US about revisiting a missile control agreement that limits the payload of its weapons to 500 kilograms, seeking to double it to 1 ton. This would bolster the South's already formidable ability to hit hardened, underground targets like bunkers where Kim Jong Un may hide out in the event of an attack. 

    South Korea's main opposition party took the calls a step further, saying that Seoul should scrap the 1991 Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula which forbids it from creating its own nuclear weapons.

    Even Japan — where the population remains resistant to building up military force and all military operations happen under the banner of self-defense — has considered a more aggressive posture towards North Korea. 

    “I would like to study if our current missile defense is sufficient,” said Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s new defense minister, according to the New York Times

    Hyunmoo missile

    But unlike North Korea, which has cobbled together a ballistic missile and nuclear weapon program over decades, advanced countries like Japan and South Korea could crack the science behind devastating nuclear weapons much faster.

    Both South Korea and Tokyo have booming tech sectors. Japan has long powered its cities with nuclear reactors. South Korea has an indigenous ballistic missile program mainly restricted in its growth by agreements with the US.

    Additionally, South Korea and Japan wouldn't have to crack intercontinental ballistic missile technology, as North Korea lies on the same continent. Simple short and medium range missiles could hold all of North Korea at risk.

    f 35b japan marines.JPG

    But nuclear proliferation carries heavy risks. Even in the US where nuclear weapons safety is paramount, accidents happen. Simply put, the more nuclear devices on earth, the greater the risk of miscalculation or accident leading to a monumental catastrophe.

    It speaks volumes about North Korea's nuclear brinkmanship that South Korea and Japan, two countries dedicated to peace and security, are even considering such measures.

    SEE ALSO: North Korea probably couldn't nuke the US military in Guam even if it tried

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    U.S. Defence Minister James N. Mattis is seen during a press conference before the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan at the George C. Marshall Center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany June 28, 2017. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

    After a heated exchange between President Donald Trump and North Korea that culminated in threats by Pyongyang to envelope the US territory of Guam in missile fire, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis laid bare the US's resolve against intimidation.

    North Korea "should cease any consideration of actions that will lead to the end of the regime and destruction of its people," Mattis said in a statement.

    Mattis' statement appears to allude to Tuesday night's statement from the North Korean army, which said the country was considering striking Guam with nuclear-capable Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missiles.

    Mattis stressed that his first talks with Trump centered on the US's ability to defend against and deter nuclear-missile attacks.

    Mattis also lauded the State Department's efforts to bring a diplomatic solution to the Korean Peninsula's conflict. He made clear that the US had "the most precise, rehearsed, and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on earth."

    The US, which protects its air and naval bases on Guam with advanced missile defenses, appeared prepared to meet the challenge of North Korea's unreliable missiles.

    us navy guam

    "We always maintain a high state of readiness and have the capabilities to counter any threat, to include those from North Korea," Lt. Col. Christopher Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, told Business Insider.

    But Mattis previously testified before the House Appropriations Committee that a fight with North Korea would be "more serious in terms of human suffering" than anything since the original Korean War ended in 1953.

    "It would be a war that fundamentally we don't want," Mattis said at the time, but "would win at great cost."

    Read Mattis' full statement below:

    "The United States and our allies have the demonstrated capabilities and unquestionable commitment to defend ourselves from attack. Kim Jong Un should take heed of the United Nations Security Council's unified voice, and statements from governments the world over, who agree the DPRK poses a threat to global security and stability. The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The DPRK should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.

    "President Trump was informed of the growing threat last December and on taking office his first orders to me emphasized the readiness of our ballistic missile defense and nuclear deterrent forces. While our State Department is making every effort to resolve this global threat through diplomatic means, it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now posses the most precise, rehearsed, and robust defensive and offensive capabilities on earth. The DPRK regime's actions will continue to be grossly overmatched by ours and would lose any arms race or conflict it initiates."

    SEE ALSO: Trump's 'fire and fury' rhetoric drags the US to North Korea's level — but he may have an ulterior motive

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