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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    North Korea spies ukraine

    Ukraine has released footage of two North Korean spies exuberantly photographing fake missile designs in 2011, as part of a sting operation that eventually landed the pair in jail, as CNN reports.

    Ukraine, once home to thousands of Soviet nuclear ICBMs, continues to produce missiles today as it faces a Russian-backed insurgency in the countries east. Another Cold War remnant in Ukraine appears to be spycraft, which allowed the country to trick and capture two North Korean spies.

    Authorities in Ukraine told CNN that the North Koreans sought "ballistic missiles, missile systems, missile construction, spacecraft engines, solar batteries, fast-emptying fuel tanks, mobile launch containers, powder accumulators and military government standards," to bring home to Pyongyang, according to CNN.

    The specific plans the spies thought they were capturing showed schematics for the SS-24 Scalpel intercontinental ballistic missile, a Soviet-designed missile that can carry 10 independently targetable warheads across vast distances. Such a weapon would be a massive improvement over North Korea's current fledgling ICBM fleet.

    But the designs photographed by the North Koreans were fake, and moments after the cameras flashed authorities broke into the room and detained them. The spies are now serving eight years in prison.

    Ukraine may have released the footage to CNN after a report from the International Institute of Strategic Studies alleged that North Koreans had somehow obtained rocket engine designs from Ukraine. Ukraine has strongly pushed back on that accusation, and other missile experts have since disputed it.

    Watch the video and read the full report at CNN.

    SEE ALSO: It's starting to look like Kim Jong Un had his half-brother killed to thwart a China-backed coup

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: NASA released rare footage of the SR-71 — the fastest plane to ever exist


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    Kim Jong Un

    Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader who lives in constant fear of assassination, has reportedly hired Russian ex-KGB bodyguards to protect him in case of an attempt on his life.

    Japan's Asahi Shinbum reported that Kim hired about 10 former KGB counterterrorism agents to train his bodyguards on how to detect and respond to terrorist attacks.

    The KGB, the former Soviet Union's main security and spy agency, had decades of practice in defending high-value targets against attempts at regime change.

    The source told Asahi Shinbum that Kim was particularly scared of US advanced-weapons systems, like the Gray Eagle drone the US is set to operate in South Korea in 2018.

    However, it's unclear how counterterrorism bodyguards could protect Kim against a drone high in the sky raining down bombs.

    South Korean media has reported that the US and South Korea have been working together on a "decapitation force" to kill the North Korean leader in the event that Pyongyang becomes intolerably aggressive.

    Kim has a history of going to extreme measures to shore up his reign over North Korea, with some reports saying he killed his half-brother Kim Jong Nam to thwart a Chinese-backed coup attempt.

    SEE ALSO: Ukraine tricked North Korean spies into trying to steal fake nuke plans on camera

    Join the conversation about this story »

    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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    Moon Jae-in

    South Korea's President Moon Jae In took office hoping to engage diplomatically with North Korea and find peaceful solutions, but as tensions soar between the two Koreas, he's considering his offensive options.

    Moon called for South Korea to prepare to “immediately switch to offensive operations” if North Korea makes a “provocation that crosses the line,” according to NK News.

    Moon told his top military officers they should "strongly push ahead with a reform of the military structure to meet [the requirements] of modern warfare so that it can immediately switch to offensive operations in case North Korea makes a provocation that crosses the line or attacks a metropolitan area,” NK News notes.

    Additionally, South Korea is developing a three-axis system to respond to a North Korean attack which includes pre-emptive strikes on North Korea's missile systems, air and missile defenses, and something called the "Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation system."

    Moon has tried to engage closely with North Korea, even going as far as suggesting the country host some of South Korea's 2018 Winter Olympics, but to no avail as of yet.

    As a conscript in the South Korean military, Moon witnessed first-hand the brutality of the North Korean regime when its soldiers murdered two US Army officers who were cutting down a tree in the demilitarized boarder zone between the Koreas.

    North Korea artillery

    South Korea is currently building up a "decapitation force" meant to kill Kim Jong Un and other key North Korean leadership while building up missile defenses. Under Moon, the country has also developed an impressive ballistic missile fleet that can drill deep underground to hit high-value targets in bunkers, like Kim. 

    South Korean Vice Minister of National Defense Suh Choo Suk told reporters that they hope to have perfected their offensive and defensive plan to win a war against North Korea by the early 2020s.

    SEE ALSO: Kim Jong Un has reportedly hired ex-KGB bodyguards to defend him against a US assassination

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    North Korean defector

    North Korea's awful record of human rights violations may place it as the worst regime in the world in how it treats its people, but first-hand tales of the abuses rarely slip the secretive country's borders.

    While oppression in North Korea knows no bounds, a video from South Korean Digitalsoju TV shows how the regime can be especially horrific in its treatment of women.

    In the video, women defectors who formerly served in North Korea's military sit down with a South Korean host in a military-themed restaurant famous for its chicken. The cultural divide between the two Korean women becomes palpable when the North Korean points to mock ammunition decorating the restaurant, and the South Korean says she recognizes them from comics.

    "Aww, you're so adorable," the North Korean replied. 

    The defector explained that all North Korean women must serve in the military for six years, and all men must serve for 11. During that time, she said she was fed three spoonfuls of rice at mealtimes.

    Unsurprisingly, malnutrition is widespread across all sectors of North Korea. And despite North Korea being a communist country, the defector still said that even within the military, people badly want money and withhold or steal each other's state-issued goods like military uniforms.

    The defector said that in North Korea women are taught that they're not as smart, important, or as strong as men.

    A second defector said that the officers in charge of uniform and ration distribution would often leverage their position to coerce sex from female soldiers. "Higher-ranked officers sleeping around is quite common," said the second woman.

    But the first defector had a much more personal story.

    "I was in the early stages of malnutrition... I weighed just around 81 pounds and was about 5'2," said the defector. Her Body Mass Index, though not a perfect indicator of health, works out to about 15, where a healthy body is considered to have a BMI of about 19-25. 

    North Korea

    "The Major General was this man who was around 45 years old and I was only 18 years old at the time," she said. "But he tried to force himself on me."

    "So one day he tells everyone else to leave except for me. Then he abruptly tells me to take off all my clothes," she said. The officer told her he was inspecting her for malnutrition, possibly to send her off to a hospital where undernourished soldiers are treated.

    "So since I didn't have much of a choice, I thought, well, it's the Major General. Surely there's a good reason for this. I never could have imagined he'd try something," she said. But the Major General asks her to remove her underwear and "then out of nowhere, he comes at me," she said.

    The Major General then proceeded to beat her while she loudly screamed, so he covered her mouth. She said he hit her so hard in the left ear, that blood came out of her right ear. She said the beating was so severe her teeth were loose afterwards. 

    north korea

    "How do you think this is going to make me look?" the Major General asked her after the beating. He then instructs her to get dressed and tell no one what happened or he would "make [her] life a living hell."

    "There wasn't really anyone I could tell or report this too," she said. "Many other women have gone through something similar. 

    "I don't know whether he's dead or alive, but if Korea ever gets reunified, I'm going to find him and even if I can't make him feel ten times the pain I felt, I want to at least smack him on the right side of his face the same way he did to me," she said. 

    Watch the full video below:

     

    SEE ALSO: South Korea promises 'massive punishment' If North Korea 'crosses the line'

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    NOW WATCH: The wreckage of a WWII-era US warship that the Navy called the worst disaster at sea has been discovered


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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

    North Korea fired a missile over Japan's Hokkaido province in the early morning hours of Tuesday, and the early figures coming out from the launch indicate it could have been a warm up for similar action toward the US territory of Guam.

    North Korea has expressed vitriolic anger over US and South Korean war games throughout the month of August. It culminated in the announcement of a plan to fire missiles toward Guam, where the US keeps nuclear-capable bombers and some 7,000 military personnel.

    The launch Tuesday overflew Japan and travelled almost 1,700 miles before crashing down into the sea, hitting a high point of about 340 miles over land. Japan has previously said it would shoot down any missiles headed toward its territory, but this one simply flew over. The missile launch coincides with the completion of Northern Viper, a joint US-Japanese military drill in Hokkaido.

    Specifically, North Korea threatened to fire four Hwasong-12 missiles over Japan into the waters just about 20 miles short of Guam.

    Experts contacted by Business Insider said it would be unlikely that North Korea could pull off such a feat with a missile that has only been tested once successfully. Furthermore, doubts remain about North Korea's ability to create a warhead that can survive reentering the Earth's atmosphere.

    Based on early estimates, the launch Tuesday appears to have used a single Hwasong-12 rocket in a possible confidence-building measure before any possible attempt on Guam.

    But even if the launch ends up having been another missile, or not intended to sure up capabilities headed for a shot toward Guam, the violation of Japan's sovereign air space will likely demand a response. And US and Japanese policymakers may look to shoot down further tests if they travel the same route. 

    SEE ALSO: Japan on alert after North Korean missile flew over airspace

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    The long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) is launched during a test in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS

    After North Korea overflew Japan with a missile launch early Tuesday, the island nation may have no choice but to knock down any further missile launches or learn to live with such provocations.

    North Korea has reached a point in its missile development where it can no longer simply fire missiles straight up in the sky as it has in the past. To continue to learn and advance, North Korea must now start firing its long-range missiles on realistic trajectories, which, due to geography, means overflying its neighbors.

    "This ballistic missile launch appeared to fly over our territory. It is an unprecedented, serious and grave threat to our nation," a top Japanese government spokesman told Reuters.

    "We will make utmost efforts to firmly protect the lives of the people," Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told Reuters.

    North Korea's missile launch Tuesday morning local time doesn't just threaten the safety of Japanese people, it also serves as a direct military provocation. The US and South Korea are currently holding a military exercise, and the US and Japan just completed Northern Viper, a military drill of their own.

    SM-3Additionally, Japan had just completed a test of its Patriot Advanced Capability III missile defense system before the launch, the New York Times' Mokoto Rich reports.

    The US and Japan both field Aegis-radar equipped guided-missile destroyers in their navies, and they both come armed to the teeth with SM-3 missile interceptors. With the ships in the right place at the right time, the US or Japan could likely knock out some North Korean missile fires, which would keep Pyongyang from gathering important data from the later stages of the launch.

    But more important than thwarting North Korean missile tests would be sending the message that Japan won't stand for these dangerous provocations.

    "NK missile flight over Japan is an Archimedean point for the US," Tal Inbar, the head of the space research center at the Fisher Institute for Air & Space Strategic Studies tweeted atfer the launch. "No REAL ACTION - and we will see more missiles on the same path soon."

    SEE ALSO: Japan on alert after North Korean missile flew over its airspace

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This is the helicopter that will replace Marine One


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    Kim Jong Un

    South Korean President Moon Jae-in has pushed for a new plan for a rapid war with North Korea and an overhaul of the country's defense industry to overwhelm and crush the North's government, the South Korean newspaper The Chosun Ilbo reported Tuesday.

    The Defense Ministry briefed Moon on an "aggressive wartime action plan led by our military," the paper reported, citing sources from Cheong Wa Dae, the South Korean equivalent of the White House.

    Moon took office in May promising to attempt to engage diplomatically with North Korea and seek peace, but in the months since, the North has provoked the international community with missile tests at a blistering pace.

    For some time, South Korea has been training a "decapitation force," reportedly with the help of the US Navy's SEAL Team 6, but now an increasingly bold North Korea may demand quicker action.

    South Korea's new plan identifies more than 1,000 targets for precision missile fires and sites for marines to drop in and quickly kill North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the paper reported.

    The plan represents a more independent version of South Korea's current plan, which relies on support from US aircraft carriers. As it stands, no major military commander recommends military action against North Korea, which has a staggering array of conventional — and potentially nuclear — weapons pointed at Seoul, where 26 million call home.

    But South Korea's new plan to quickly and decisively dominate the North relies on reforming the defense-acquisition process and cutting out wasteful spending to wield the full might of its economic dominance against Pyongyang, according to the report. For that reason, don't expect the plan to take effect anytime soon.

    SEE ALSO: Japan may have no choice but to shoot down next North Korean missile test

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A podiatrist explains heel spurs — the medical condition Trump said earned him a medical deferment from Vietnam


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    Bunker buster hyunmoo

    While North Korea has been provoking the international community with high-profile missile launches, South Korea has been developing missiles of its own that look perfectly suited to take out the Kim regime.

    The week before North Korea's galling missile launch over Japan, South Korea tested its Hyunmoo-II missile system, one variant of which can penetrate through meters of earth to blow out bunkers where Kim Jong Un may hide in the event of war.

    After the launch, South Korea responded with a bomb run over its test range near the border with North Korea.

    South Korea has a booming tech industry and a massive economy. Though it has signed missile control agreements with the US and relies on American nuclear weapons for its deterrence, if South Korea wanted to, it could create an extremely capable fleet of missiles very quickly.

    In the clip below, see South Korea's new missile take off and take note of its ability to penetrate deep into the ground. 

     

    SEE ALSO: South Korea is planning for all-out war and the decapitation of the Kim regime

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    Kim Jong Un

    When North Korea fired a missile over Japan on Tuesday, it violated the island nation's sovereign territory and defied the United Nations. And if Japan doesn't do anything about it, experts say Pyongyang will most likely walk all over it.

    North Korea has reached a point with its long-range missile tests where it needs to fire them on normal trajectories, which means flying over Japan.

    In previous tests, North Korean intercontinental ballistic missiles have flown almost straight up in the air and landed only a few hundred miles away, though they're meant to travel thousands of miles.

    Now North Korea needs to find out how to guide the warheads when they're flying at something.

    "There is a technical imperative for conducting this test," Mike Elleman, an expert on missiles at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told The Washington Post. "They want to be able to look at reentry dynamics and how it performs on a more normal trajectory."

    Given North Korea's need for these kinds of tests over Japan, if Japan doesn't respond strongly enough, it can only expect the tests to continue.

    "In a way, it's kind of a trial balloon," Elleman said. "If we overfly Japan, what happens? If the blowback isn't too significant, they will feel more comfortable with launching a Hwasong-14 to a good distance to validate its performance on a normal trajectory."

    Tal Inbar, the head of the space research center at the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, tweeted after the launch: "NK missile flight over Japan is an Archimedean point for the US. No REAL ACTION — and we will see more missiles on the same path soon."

    SEE ALSO: Japan may have no choice but to shoot down the next North Korean missile test

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This is the helicopter that will replace Marine One


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    At about 6 a.m., Japanese people on Hokkaido, one of Japan's main islands, woke up to the spooky sound of warning sirens billowing through the hills and warning people to take shelter.

    “Missile launch. Missile launch. North Korea appears to have fired a missile. Take refuge in a solid building or underground,” droned the sirens, according to Reuters.

    Somewhere above, a North Korean multi-stage missile streaked overhead at many miles per second. The missile's stages could have fallen off and crashed into Japan. The warhead could have missed and crashed down. The payload may have been nuclear for all they knew on the ground.

    In the video below, see the surreal way many Japanese woke up on Tuesday morning. 

     

    SEE ALSO: South Korea is planning for all-out war and the decapitation of the Kim regime

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    FILE PHOTO - United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley delivers remarks at the Security Council meeting at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York, U.S, on April 7, 2017. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith/File Photo

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Tuesday that North Korea's launch of a missile over Japan was "absolutely unacceptable and irresponsible" and that the Security Council now needed to take serious action.

    "No country should have missiles flying over them like those 130 million people in Japan. It's unacceptable," Haley told reporters. North Korea has "violated every single U.N. Security Council resolution that we've had and so I think something serious has to happen," she added.

    Saying "enough is enough," Haley said she hoped China and Russia would continue to work with the rest of the U.N. Security Council when it meets on Tuesday afternoon to discuss what more can be done about North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

    SEE ALSO: South Korea is planning for all-out war and the decapitation of the Kim regime

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    US soldiers Syria

    US troops fighting in the coalition against ISIS came under direct attack near Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army soldiers in Northern Syria.

    Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman told Business Insider that "unknown groups" have engaged with US forces on "multiple occasions over the past week or so Northwest of Manbij," a town in Syria formerly held by ISIS.

    "Our forces did receive fire and return fire and then moved to a secure location," US Army Col. Ryan Dillon told Reuters. "The coalition has told Turkey to tell the rebels it backs there that firing on US-led coalition forces is not acceptable." 

    Sources told CNN that no casualties occurred on either side.

    Turkey backs a number of forces that oppose Syrian President Bashar Assad and has made efforts to keep its border area clear of ISIS and other militants. 

    The US supports several Syrian militias that also oppose Assad, though the US now only supports them in their fight against ISIS. However it seems that the Turkish-allied forces likely knew they were exchanging fire with US soldiers.

    Manbij

    "These patrols are overt. Our forces are clearly marked and we have been operating in that area for some time," said Dillon. "It should not be news to anyone that we are doing this, operating in that particular area."

    "We're there to monitor and to deter hostilities and make sure everyone remains focused on ISIS," said Pahon. "We're going to have to continue our patrols but we have had to move to some protected positions."

    SEE ALSO: Animated map shows the countries where the most US troops are stationed

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    hwasong 12

    North Korean state media claimed the missile launched in the early morning hours of Tuesday, Japan time, was the very same one Pyongyang threatened to fire towards Guam in mid August.

    The missile, known as the Hwasong-12, is an intermediate-range ballistic missile that experts say could carry a nuclear warhead.

    The test fire over Japan fell short of North Korea's proposed salvo of four missiles towards Guam, but could serve as an important test before commencing the Guam strike.

    At the time of North Korea's threat, Mike Elleman, the senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told Business Insider an "important question revolves around the missile's reliability," because it had only been successfully tested once.

    Additionally, the single successful test was on a lofted trajectory, or shot straight up in the air instead of at an angle. 

    The more recent launch over Japan may have filled a need for North Korea to figure out the reliability of the Hwasong-12 on a realistic trajectory.

    Importantly, Kim Jong Un never said he would not fire missiles towards Guam. Instead, he reserved the right to carry out a strike at a later time.

    Serious questions remain about the US and its allies' ability to shoot down North Korean missiles, but the launch over Japan's airspace promises to contribute to the militarization of the Pacific

    The missile launch was condemned by Japan, China, Russia, the US, and South Korea.

    SEE ALSO: Eerie video shows how a Japanese town woke up to sirens warning of North Korea's missile launch

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    erhard milch ju 87 nazi germany ww2

    World War II started with a brutal Nazi war crime.

    On September 1, 1939, German soldiers began their invasion of Poland, triggering the outbreak of World War II. The shelling of a Polish garrison at Westerplatte is commonly believed to be the first shot fired in the war, but the beginning actually happened five minutes prior, according to Deutsche Welle.

    At 4:40 a.m., the town of Wieluń was bombed by the German air force, the Luftwaffe, as most of its 16,000 residents slept. There were no anti-aircraft, military, or economic targets of any importance in the sleepy town just 13 miles from the German border. The target of the bombing was civilians.

    poland world war 2

    Nick Siekierski translates this article from a Polish newspaper:

    Overall, 380 bombs fell on Wieluń, weighing a total of 46 tons. The first ones hit the All-Saints Hospital. 32 people died there — patients and staff. These were the first victims of the German air raids during World War II. The next target was the oldest parish church in Wieluń, St. Michael the Archangel, built in the beginning of the 14th Century. The Piarist building was the only surviving structure on the old square.

    In total, as a result of the attack on Wieluń by the German air force, which lasted until 2pm, over 1200 people died. Certain sources note as many as 2,000 victims. Bombs dropped by the Stukas (Junkers Ju 87) destroyed 75% of the city. 90% of the city center was destroyed.

    The people of Wieluń were the first to experience the German tactic of blitzkrieg, or lightning war, which was later used during the invasions of Belgium, North Africa, the Netherlands, and France. Just minutes after the bombing of the town began, the German battleship Schleswig-Holstein began its bombardment of Westerplatte.

    Wieluń poland world war 2 Wieluń

    Two days later, Britain and France declared war on Germany, and the conflict lasted six years at the cost of millions of lives. When it was all over in 1945, it ended with the surrender of the Nazis, and the full exposure of the Holocaust.

    SEE ALSO: What it was like in the room when Nazi Germany finally surrendered to end World War II in Europe

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    NOW WATCH: Startling facts about World War II


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    Jim Mattis Joseph Dunford

    Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis warned on Sunday of a "massive," and "overwhelming" military response to North Korea's missile and nuclear weapons programs after a small group meeting with President Donald Trump in response to Pyongyang testing its sixth and largest-ever nuclear device.

    Mattis stressed that the US has "many" military options for dealing with North Korea, but that the US does not seek the annihilation of any country.

    Mattis was most likely referring to the US military's roughly 28,000 troops located in South Korea and its massive presence in Japan and in the Pacific. At the time of Mattis' speaking, the US does not have an increased naval or military presence in the region, though the US and South Korea did just complete a joint war-gaming exercise.

    Earlier on Sunday Trump floated the idea of cutting off trade with China, North Korea's treaty ally and main trading partner, in response to North Korea's greatly increased provocations. "The United States is considering, in addition to other options, stopping all trade with any country doing business with North Korea,"Trump wrote in a tweet.

    The Trump administration has repeatedly said that "all options" are on the table in dealing with North Korea, and stressed military might represents a part of that package. 

    Historically, China has agreed to UN Security Council resolutions against North Korea following nuclear tests, but despite sanctions, loopholes remain that allow Pyongyang to finance its weapons programs. 

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance on a nuclear weapons program in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 3, 2017.  KCNA via REUTERS

    The nuclear device tested by North Korea on Sunday had a yield of hundreds of kilotons, meaning it was most likely a hydrogen or thermonuclear bomb, according to expert estimates and North Korea's own statements. 

    The completion of an intercontinental ballistic missile and a thermonuclear warhead represent North Korea achieving its ultimate goal of building a credible deterrent against invasion and regime change. Experts assess that North Korea's main goal in developing nuclear weapons is to secure its regime, and that it will not use the weapons offensively, unless provoked. 

    SEE ALSO: Trump says the military is 'locked and loaded' to strike North Korea — Here's how it would go down

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    The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) transits the South China Sea, April 8, 2017. Photo taken April 8, 2017.  U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Brown/Handout via Reuters

    In the aftermath of North Korea's quantum leap in nuclear strength, demonstrated by a ground-shaking sixth nuclear test, South Korea has called on the US to help "punish" Pyongyang.

    “Opinions have converged that the direction which the government should take is to strengthen punishment," rather than dialogue, South Korea’s Minister of National Defense, Song Young Moo said on Monday, according to NK News.

    As part of a plan to punish North Korea for its provocative intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear tests, Moon Jae In, South Korea's president, has looked to increase the country's offensive missile capabilities and import additional missile defense batteries from the US— both of which signal a more militaristic approach to dealing with Pyongyang.

    Additionally, Song told South Korea's parliament he asked Washington to regularly deploy "strategic assets" such as aircraft carriers and nuclear-powered submarines to help punish the North.

    “I told them it would good to deploy assets for extended deterrence regularly in waters around the Korean peninsula,” said Song, according to NK News.

    On Sunday, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said the US could offer a "massive" and "overwhelming" response to North Korea's provocations, but didn't specify how.

    The placement of a carrier strike group, attack submarines, and possibly nuclear-capable bombers would not only signal US resolve and show incredible force, but actually mirrors practical steps the US and South Korea would make before conflict rather than pure signaling.

    This escalation may therefore heighten the risk of miscalculation in the world's most militarized area.

    However in April, during joint US-South Korean military exercises, the US deployed two aircraft carriers and two submarines to the Korean Peninsula that did not demonstrably deter North Korea from progressing its missile program. Neither did the move signal any actual military intent or action.

    To be clear, all US submarines run on nuclear power, and the submarines referenced by Song likely lack nuclear bombs, and instead rely on cruise missiles like other US Navy ships. However, attack submarines could serve to police or demolish North Korea's own submarine force.

    USS Michigan submarine us navy SEALs

    Moon, a president who campaigned on reopening dialogue and engagement with North Korea, has recently turned to more militaristic approaches as North Korea's emerging thermonuclear ICBM capabilities test the US's resolve to protect South Korea.

    On Sunday, in the aftermath of the nuclear test, US President Donald Trump seemed to confirm this shift.

    "South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!"Trump tweeted.

    SEE ALSO: Mattis warns of 'massive,' 'overwhelming' military response to North Korea after meeting with Trump

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    NOW WATCH: The US conducted bombing drills with advanced warplanes as a 'direct response' to North Korea's missile launch over Japan


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    South Korea hyunmoo missile

    SEOUL, South Korea/UNITED NATIONS — South Korea on Tuesday said an agreement with the US to scrap a weight limit on its warheads would help it respond to North Korea's nuclear and missile threat after Pyongyang conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test two days ago.

    South Korean officials believe more provocation from the reclusive state is possible, despite international outrage over Sunday's test and calls for more sanctions on North Korea.

    South Korea's Asia Business Daily, citing an unidentified source, reported on Tuesday that North Korea had been spotted moving a rocket that appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile toward its west coast.

    The rocket started moving Monday and was spotted moving only at night to avoid surveillance, the report said.

    South Korea's defense ministry, which on Monday warned that North Korea was ready to launch an ICBM at any time, said it was unable to confirm the contents of the report.

    North Korea tested two ICBMs in July that could fly about 6,200 miles, putting many parts of the US mainland within range and prompting a new round of international sanctions against Pyongyang.

    On Monday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was "begging for war" and urged the 15-member UN Security Council to impose the "strongest possible" sanctions to deter him and shut down his trading partners.

    FILE PHOTO: U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley comments as she arrives for a Security Council meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York City, U.S., August 29, 2017.   REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

    US President Donald Trump held calls with foreign leaders on Monday, including South Korean President Moon Jae-in and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the White House declared that "all options to address the North Korean threat are on the table."

    South Korea is talking to Washington about deploying aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to the Korean Peninsula, and it has been ramping up its defenses in the meantime.

    Moon and Trump agreed on Monday to scrap a warhead weight limit on South Korea's missiles, South Korea's presidential office said, enabling it to strike North Korea with greater force in the event of a military conflict. The White House said Trump gave "in-principle approval" to the move.

    "We believe the unlimited warhead payload will be useful in responding to North Korea's nuclear and missile threats," Defense Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told a briefing on Tuesday.

    Under the current guidelines, most recently changed in 2012, South Korea can develop missiles up to a range of 500 miles with a maximum payload of 1,102 pounds.

    South Korea's navy also held more drills on Tuesday.

    "Today's training is being held to prepare for maritime North Korean provocations, inspect our navy's readiness, and to reaffirm our will to punish the enemy," an unidentified South Korean naval officer told the same Defense Ministry briefing.

    US Troops South Korea'Patience not unlimited'

    Speaking at the UN, Haley said the US would circulate a new Security Council resolution on North Korea this week and wanted a vote on it on Monday.

    "War is never something the United States wants," Haley said. "We don't want it now. But our country's patience is not unlimited. We will defend our allies and our territory."

    China, North Korea's main ally and trading partner, and Russia called for a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

    "China will never allow chaos and war on the peninsula," said Liu Jieyi, the Chinese ambassador to the UN, urging North Korea to stop taking actions that were "wrong" and not in its own interests.

    Russia said peace in the region was in jeopardy.

    "Sanctions alone will not help solve the issue," Russia's UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said.

    North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic-missile and nuclear programs. Typically, China and Russia view only a test of a long-range missile or a nuclear weapon as a trigger for further possible UN sanctions.

    US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned of a "massive" military response if the US or its allies were threatened in the wake of Sunday's test. Pyongyang said it had successfully tested an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile on Sunday, something experts believe it has now achieved or is very close to achieving.

    Jim Mattis Joseph Dunford

    Trump has previously vowed to stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons and said he would unleash "fire and fury" if it threatened US territory.

    Despite the tough talk, the immediate focus of the international response was on tougher economic sanctions.

    Diplomats have said the Security Council could now consider banning North Korean textile exports and its national airline, stop supplies of oil to the government and military, prevent North Koreans from working abroad and add top officials to a blacklist to subject them to an asset freeze and travel ban.

    The sanctions imposed after July's missile tests aimed to slash Pyongyang's $3 billion annual export revenue by a third by banning exports of coal, iron, lead, and seafood.

    SEE ALSO: South Korea wants to 'punish' North Korea with US aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines

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    FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with journalists following a live nationwide broadcast call-in in Moscow, Russia, June 15, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo

    XIAMEN, China (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that imposing tougher sanctions on North Korea over its nuclear missile programme would be counter-productive and said threats of military action could trigger "a global catastrophe".

    Putin, speaking after a BRICs summit in China, criticised U.S. diplomacy in the crisis and renewed his call for talks, saying Pyongyang would not halt its missile testing programme until it felt secure.

    "Russia condemns North Korea's exercises, we consider that they are a provocation ... (But) ramping up military hysteria will lead to nothing good. It could lead to a global catastrophe," he told reporters.

    "There's no other path apart from a peaceful one."

    Putin was speaking after South Korea said an agreement with the United States to scrap a weight limit on its warheads would help it respond to the North Korea threat after Pyongyang conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test two days ago.

    Russia, which shares a border with North Korea, has repeatedly joined China in calling for negotiations with Pyongyang, suggesting that the United States and South Korea halt all major war games in exchange for North Korea halting its testing programme.

    US approach 'ridiculous'

    Donald Trump and Xi Jinping

    While describing additional sanctions as "the road to nowhere", Putin said Russia was prepared to discuss "some details" around the issue, without elaborating.

    The Russian leader also lashed out at the United States, saying it was preposterous for Washington to ask for Moscow's help with North Korea after sanctioning Russian companies whom U.S officials accused of violating North Korea sanctions.

    "It's ridiculous to put us on the same (sanctions) list as North Korea and then ask for our help in imposing sanctions on North Korea," said Putin.

    "This is being done by people who mix up Australia with Austria," he added.

    The United States has floated the idea of requiring all countries to cut economic links with North Korea to try to strong-arm Pyongyang into changing its behaviour.

    In Moscow's case, that would mean stopping using North Korean labourers, tens of thousands of whom work in Russia, and halting fuel supplies to Pyongyang. Russia has so far refused to contemplate doing either.

    SEE ALSO: South Korea plots retaliation as North Korea appears set for another ICBM launch

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    Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a news conference after BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) Summit in Xiamen, China September 5, 2017.  Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via REUTERS

    XIAMEN, China (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that any decision by the United States to supply defensive weapons to Ukraine would fuel the conflict in eastern Ukraine and possibly prompt pro-Russian separatists to expand their campaign there.

    On a visit to Kiev last month, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he was actively reviewing sending lethal weapons to Ukraine to help it defend itself, an option that previous U.S. president Barack Obama vetoed.

    Ukraine and Russia are at loggerheads over a war in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces that has killed more than 10,000 people in three years. Kiev accuses Moscow of sending troops and heavy weapons to the region, which Russia denies.

    Putin, answering a question after a BRICs summit in China about the possibility of the United States supplying Ukraine with heavy weapons, said it was for Washington to decide whom it sold or gave weapons to, but he warned against the move, something Kiev wants.

    "The delivery of weapons to a conflict zone doesn't help peacekeeping efforts, but only worsens the situation," Putin told a news briefing.

    Mattis ukraine

    "Such a decision would not change the situation but the number of casualties could increase."

    In comments likely to be interpreted as a veiled threat, Putin suggested that pro-Russian separatists were likely to respond by expanding their own campaign.

    "The self-declared (pro-Russian) republics (in eastern Ukraine) have enough weapons, including ones captured from the other side" said Putin.

    "It's hard to imagine how the self-declared republics would respond. Perhaps they would deploy weapons to other conflict zones."

     

    (Reporting by Denis Pinchuk; Writing by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides guidance on a nuclear weapons program in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 3, 2017.  KCNA via REUTERS

    Virtually every single time North Korea conducts a missile or nuclear test, the US and South Korea issue a statement reaffirming their "ironclad" alliance. But now that Pyongyang has demonstrated a capability to melt iron in either country, the game may have changed.

    Colin Kahl, a national security adviser to the Obama administration, tweeted that North Korea's ability to hit the US mainland with a "city-busting" bomb tested the US-South Korean alliance like never before by posing an impossibly difficult question: Would the US trade San Francisco for Seoul?

    For decades, the US has kept South Korea and Japan from developing nuclear weapons by promising to respond to North Korean attacks with nuclear retaliation if needed.

    But now, if North Korea attacked, the US couldn't just nuke Pyongyang without fear of retaliation or of losing a city. While the US's nuclear forces deter North Korea and every other nation from attacking its homeland, South Korea relies on extended deterrence.

    "Extended deterrence is basically our willingness to protect allies overseas from attacks even in the face of the possibility that the attacker could use nuclear weapons against the US," Joel Wit, a former State Department employee who founded 38 North, a website for expert analysis on North Korea, told Business Insider.

    According to Wit, the US must make a "continuing effort to reassure and bolster our allies that yes, we would" protect them even if it meant a nuclear attack on US soil, but President Donald Trump hasn't exactly been doing that.

    Responding to this creeping doubt, the US State Department released a statement saying it would increase meetings of the Extended Deterrence Strategy and Consultation Group, which serves to bolster the alliance. But in South Korea, people have worried that North Korea may have achieved a major military objective: decoupling the US from South Korea so it could fight one and not the other.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the intercontinental ballistic missile Hwasong-14 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 5, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS

    "What people in South Korea worry about most is whether the United States will defend South Korea at a time when the US mainland is under threat (by North Korean missiles). If you look at what Trump said now, the answer seems to be no," Shin Hee-Seok, a graduate student in international law at Seoul's Yonsei University, told The Associated Press. "While it still remains a fringe opinion, some South Koreans are wondering if we should now build our own nuclear deterrent. If the US is not a reliable ally, South Korea may have to think about Plan B."

    South Korea has already forged ahead with developing missiles and reworking missile-control treaties with the US to allow for bigger, more powerful bombs.

    Additionally, Trump has repeatedly questioned the US's relationship with South Korea and Japan, and even entertained the idea of the nations developing nuclear weapons.

    Wit warned of a possible "strategic divergence," wherein South Korea and Japan decide that they can't trust the US and that "their interests are served in a better way by building their own nuclear weapons."

    According to experts on nuclear arms, the more countries that have them, the more dangerous the world becomes.

    Moon Jae-in

    "If South Korea and Japan were to acquire their own nuclear deterrents, that would send an incredibly dangerous signal to our allies in the Middle East," Kingston Reif, the director for disarmament and threat-reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, previously told Business Insider. "It would be an incredibly destabilizing development."

    Kahl suggested the US reaffirm its commitment to protect South Korea at any cost but cited Trump's lack of follow-through on previous threats and bluster as discrediting the US in this area.

    But if North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can drive a wedge between the US and its Asian allies, it would go down as an unbelievable win for North Korea and demonstrate to the world that rogue states can wield nuclear might and even back down the world's foremost superpower while increasing the risk of nuclear war.

    SEE ALSO: South Korea wants to 'punish' North Korea with US aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines

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