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- 09/05/17--09:42: _Mattis reportedly t...
- 09/06/17--00:31: _Putin calls for tal...
- 09/06/17--03:30: _UN probe finds Syri...
- 09/06/17--07:14: _A 2-minute video sh...
- 09/06/17--08:11: _A US strike against...
- 09/06/17--08:38: _Satellite images sh...
- 09/06/17--23:31: _Israel's air force ...
- 09/07/17--04:46: _China agrees the UN...
- 09/07/17--04:54: _North Korea promise...
- 09/07/17--06:50: _North Korea is expe...
- 09/07/17--07:55: _The US Navy will so...
- 09/07/17--09:12: _The US military wan...
- 09/08/17--02:37: _Israeli Prime Minis...
- 09/08/17--03:59: _What North Korea th...
- 09/08/17--07:16: _How Kim Jong Un's e...
- 09/11/17--03:04: _Lebanon to complain...
- 09/11/17--04:22: _North Korea 'ready ...
- 09/11/17--05:01: _UN to vote on Monda...
- 09/11/17--06:26: _North Korea's therm...
- 09/11/17--06:27: _7 incredible storie...
- 09/11/17--06:27: 7 incredible stories of heroism on 9/11
US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reportedly warned Sweden of severe consequences if the country followed through on signing a UN treaty banning nuclear weapons.
The Scandinavian country is one of 122 states backing the treaty, and Stockholm also recently signed a statement of intent to increase military cooperation with the US.
But a letter from Mattis reportedly warned Sweden's defense minister, Peter Hultqvist, that signing on to the treaty could affect US-Sweden military cooperation as well as US military support in the event of war.
Mattis' letter also suggested signing the treaty could have an impact on the country's ties to NATO, of which it is a Gold Card program member, meaning it has some privileges within the defense alliance even though it is not a full member.
Sweden's Gold Card program status faces renewal in October, and Mattis warned his Swedish counterpart that signing the treaty would foreclose the option of joining NATO, according to Defense News.
Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheterin also cited a source as being concerned the threat could apply to US-Sweden defense-industry cooperation, including deals of which Saab is a part. (The Swedish government recently completed a cross-party deal to boost domestic defense spending.)
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström has said the country intends to sign on to the treaty, though Hultqvist is reportedly against doing so.
The US, which adheres to a policy of nuclear deterrence, has criticized the nuclear-weapons ban, but Mattis' letter is seen as an unusual step in bilateral relations, particularly between the US and Sweden.
A Pentagon spokesman told Defense News that while the US "values its defense relationship with Sweden," it has discouraged countries from signing on to the ban, which has measures that "could potentially affect our ability to cooperate with parties to the treaty on issues of mutual interest."
"The government's attitude towards these weapons is well known since long," Wallström told local news outlet Svenska Dagbladet.
Jim Townsend, who was deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy for eight years, told Defense News that pressuring Sweden with threats about defense cooperation is a flawed approach.
"They are a close friend in a dangerous neighborhood, and so threatening that important relationship lacks some credibility," said Townsend, who is now with the Center for New American Security. "Do the Swedes really think we would downgrade our relationship to punish them for signing a nuclear ban treaty?"
Townsend also stressed caution when using these tactics in important bilateral relationships. "The cause had better be worth the risk" to US national security and to relations between the two countries, he told Defense News.
Sweden and its neighbors, Finland and Norway, maintain military neutrality, but they work closely with the US and allies in Europe on military matters. Those relationships have grown in importance amid escalating tensions between Russia and countries in Europe.
Norway, which is looking to boost its own border defenses, has played host to US military equipment for decades and recently welcomed an extended deployment of US Marines.
It's the first time a foreign force had been posted on Norwegian soil since World War II, which has irked Russia.
During an appearance with Finnish President Sauli Niinistro in late August, Trump falsely claimed that Helsinki was planning to buy F/A-18 fighter aircraft from US defense firm Boeing.
While Finland is looking to buy new fighter aircraft, it has not made a deal with Boeing to do so. Trump's comments prompted a denial from Niinistro afterward.
"It seems that on the sale side, past decisions and hopes about future decisions have mixed,"he said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for talks with North Korea, saying sanctions are not a solution.
Putin made the remarks Wednesday after meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Vladivostok, Russia.
North Korea says it detonated a hydrogen bomb in its sixth nuclear test on Sunday.
Putin, speaking in China on Tuesday, had condemned the nuclear test as provocative, but said that Russia views sanctions on North Korea as "useless and ineffective."
Putin met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday and plans to meet with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday.
U.N.-mandated investigators say they have solid evidence a Russian-built plane used by Syrian President Bashar Assad's air force conducted a sarin-gas attack in the spring that killed at least 83 civilians and sparked a retaliatory U.S. strike.
The latest report by the Commission of Inquiry on Syria also says U.S. forces failed to take "all feasible precautions" to protect civilians in attacking alleged terrorists in Aleppo in March, destroying part of a mosque complex.
The report offers some of the strongest evidence yet of allegations that Assad's forces conducted the April 4 attack on Khan Sheikhoun in rebel-held Idlib province.
The U.S. quickly launched a punitive strike on Shayrat air base, where the report says the Sukhoi-22 plane took off.
The report issued Wednesday covers a span from March to early July.
North Korea announced a plan to fire missiles at the US territory of Guam in mid-August, and though it hesitated to carry out that strike, it has since fired a missile over Japan and tested what it said was a hydrogen bomb.
With Pyongyang getting bolder and its missile threat more dire, the US and its allies are surely weighing whether to try to shoot down its missiles.
Even with the world's best network of space-, land-, and sea-based radars and sensors, the US and its allies face a major risk in attempting to shoot down a North Korean missile.
If they succeed, North Korea would be humiliated and possibly driven to escalate the situation in other ways. If they fail, a tremendous blow would be dealt to US missile-defense credibility — and North Korea would be more emboldened.
In the Center for Strategic and International Studies video below, find out how the US and its allies would take on a North Korean missile strike on Guam.
North Korea's testing of a hydrogen bomb estimated to yield 10 times the explosive power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima has escalated the threat and gravity of potential nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula, but there could actually be a worse outcome yet.
As the US and its allies scramble to cook up sanctions tough enough to curb North Korea's weapons program or bring it to the table, many have rightly pointed out that decades of diplomacy and sanctions have utterly failed to contain Pyongyang's nuclear breakout. In short, sanctions will not stop the small country bent on building nuclear capability.
Instead, according to Malcolm Davis, the senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the US and its allies have the "unenviable choice" between two dark futures.
"We either need to use military means to neutralize the threat," Davis told Business Insider "or we accept North Korea as a nuclear weapon state."
"If we do the latter, we avoid war in the short term, but end up with a more dangerous situation in the long run," said Davis.
Basically, the US caves to North Korea's nuclear pressure, and then sets a bad precedent whereby the nuclear nonproliferation regime in Asia falls apart and the US's influence in Asia collapses, according to Davis.
And the US will have to make the critical decision soon. As the UN Security Council gears up for another round of sanctions on North Korea, the US may just finally accept that China will not cut off trade enough to end the North Korean regime, and as long as that regime breathes, it will build weapons.
At that critical juncture, the US makes a choice: "We accept the need to go to war or we accept [North Korea] as a nuclear weapons state," said Davis.
Then Davis expects South Korea and Japan to get nuclear weapons, and possibly other countries around Asia and the world, something that he calls a "far more destabilizing disorder."
For this reason, even though a conflict with North Korea could cost hundreds of thousands of lives in an allies' capital city, and potentially even result in the destruction of US cities from a hydrogen bomb delivered via an intercontinental ballistic missile, the US still considers military action against Pyongyang an option.
North Korea detonated a hydrogen bomb that Japan estimates had ten times the explosive power of the bomb the US dropped on Hiroshima on Sunday, and now satellite imagery shows how it devastated a mountain which scientists say could be on the verge of collapse.
The estimated 160 kiloton explosion deep under the Punggye-ri mountain in North Korea visibly shook and shifted the earth.
"We call it 'taking the roof off,'" Wen Lianxing, the lead geophysicist at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, told the South China Morning Post. "If the mountain collapses and the hole is exposed, it will let out many bad things."
Nuclear detonations release radioactive material that can stay in the environment for decades. It can cause cancer spread far and wide as what's known as fallout.
In the pictures below, see how the mountain looked before, and after the massive nuclear blast in satellite images taken by Planet Labs and provided by 38 North, a website for informed analysis of North Korea.
BEIRUT (AP) — The Syrian army says that an Israeli raid hit a military position in western Syria and has killed two soldiers and caused material damage.
The army says in a statement that the attack occurred early Thursday and hit a facility near the western town of Masyaf, close to the Mediterranean coast.
The army said the Israeli warplanes fired several missiles while in Lebanese air space.
It warned of the "dangerous repercussion of such hostile acts on the security and stability of the region."
The Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV, which has reporters throughout Syria, said the airstrike hit a "target" in Qutaifah, about 35 kilometers (22 miles) northeast of Damascus.
Al-Mayadeen said Israeli warplanes broke the sound barrier over Lebanon's eastern Bekaa Valley overnight. Qutaifah is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the border with Lebanon.
Al-Mayadeen gave no further details in its Thursday morning report. There was no comment from Israel.
Israeli officials say Lebanon's Hezbollah has significantly upgraded its capabilities with a more sophisticated arsenal in recent years. While largely staying out of the Syrian civil war, Israel has carried out a number of airstrikes against suspected arms shipments believed to be headed to Hezbollah.
BEIJING/VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) - China said on Thursday it agreed the United Nations should take more action against North Korea after its latest nuclear test, while pushing for more dialogue to resolve the crisis on the Korean peninsula.
North Korea said it would respond to any U.N. sanctions and U.S. pressure with "powerful counter measures", accusing the United States of aiming to start a war.
The United States wants the U.N. Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban its exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean laborers abroad, and to subject leader Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
Pressure from Washington has ratcheted up since North Korea conducted its sixth and largest nuclear test on Sunday. That test, along with a series of missile launches, showed it was close to achieving its goal of developing a powerful nuclear weapon that could reach the United States.
"We will respond to the barbaric plotting around sanctions and pressure by the United States with powerful counter measures of our own," North Korea said in a statement by its delegation to an economic forum in Vladivostok, in Russia's Far East.
U.S. President Donald Trump has urged China to do more to rein in its neighbor, which has pursued its weapons programs in defiance of U.N. sanctions and international condemnation.
"Given the new developments on the Korean peninsula, China agrees that the U.N. Security Council should make a further response and take necessary measures," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters on Thursday, without elaborating.
"Any new actions taken by the international community against the DPRK should serve the purpose of curbing the DPRK's nuclear and missile programs, while at the same time be conducive to restarting dialogue and consultation," he said, referring to North Korea by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
China is by far North Korea's biggest trading partner, accounting for 92 percent of two-way trade last year. It also provides hundreds of thousands of tonnes of oil and fuel to the impoverished regime.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he had an executive order ready for Trump to sign that would impose sanctions on any country that trades with North Korea, if the United Nations does not put impose new sanctions on it.
Amid the rising tension, South Korea installed the four remaining launchers of a U.S. anti-missile Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on a former golf course south of its capital, Seoul, early on Thursday. Two launchers had already been deployed.
More than 30 people were hurt when about 8,000 police broke up a blockade near the site by about 300 villagers and members of civic groups opposed to the THAAD deployment, fire officials said.
The decision to deploy it has drawn strong objections from China, which believes the system's radar could be used to look deeply into its territory and will upset the regional security balance.
China lodged another stern protest over the THAAD deployment on Thursday.
"We again urge South Korea and the United States to take seriously China's and regional nations' security interests and concerns, stop the relevant deployment progress, and remove the relevant equipment," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular media briefing.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in spoke at the regional meeting in Vladivostok and agreed to try to persuade China and Russia to cut off oil to North Korea as much as possible, according to South Korean officials.
North Korea accused South Korea and Japan of "dirty politics" for what it said was the highjacking a meeting meant to be about economic development.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said at the meeting he thought the North Korea crisis would not escalate into nuclear war, predicting that common sense would prevail.
But he said he believed North Korea's leadership feared that any freeze of its nuclear program would be followed by what amounted to "an invitation to the cemetery".
North Korea says it needs its weapons to protect itself from U.S. aggression.
South Korea and the United States are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.
China and Russia have advocated a "freeze for freeze" plan, under which the United States and South Korea would stop major military exercises in exchange for North Korea halting its weapons programs.
But neither side appears willing to budge.
South Korean Marines wrapped up a three-day firing drill aimed at protecting its islands just south of the border with North Korea, while the air force will finish up a week-long drill on Friday.
VLADIVOSTOK, Russia (Reuters) - North Korea on Thursday pledged to take "powerful counter measures" to respond to U.S. pressure or any new sanctions against it over its missile program, accusing Washington of wanting war.
Pyongyang's pledge, made in a statement by its delegation to an economic forum in Russia's Far East, came after the United States said it wanted the U.N. Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban the country's exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean laborers abroad, and subject leader Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
"We will respond to the barbaric plotting around sanctions and pressure by the United States with powerful counter measures of our own," the statement read.
The same statement also accused South Korea and Japan of using the Russian forum to play "dirty politics," saying the event was meant to be about discussing economic cooperation in the region and not about criticizing its missile program.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told the same forum on Thursday he thought the North Korea crisis would not escalate into a large-scale conflict involving nuclear weapons, predicting that common sense would prevail.
On Saturday, North Koreans will celebrate the anniversary of their country's founding, and experts think the country may mark the holiday with a full-range test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
South Korean media earlier this week reported that a North Korean ICBM appeared to be on the move, and CNN cited the South Korean prime minister on Thursday as saying that "some believe" a launch Saturday was possible.
Also this week, North Korea said the US could expect more "gift packages" in the form of further missile testing. With only two successful tests on record, North Korea's latest ICBM is in need of further trials.
But firing a ballistic missile thousands of miles across the globe could have disastrous consequences if not executed properly.
North Korea fired a missile over Japan in late August, and geography dictates that Pyongyang will most likely have to do so again to complete a full-range ICBM test.
An unannounced missile heading toward the US mainland from North Korea could cause a nuclear retaliation, so Pyongyang would most likely try to aim the missile elsewhere.
Possible trajectories may send the missile south toward the pole or into the Pacific south of the US. Even unarmed, the missile's reentry vehicle would pose a huge threat to maritime life and traffic as it blazes through the atmosphere at many times the speed of sound.
But there's no guarantee the launch would be unarmed. In 1966, as the US and the outside world doubted China could build a functional nuclear-armed ICBM without outside help, Beijing launched a missile at full range with a nuclear payload.
North Korea faces similar scrutiny today, with many doubting its nuclear and missile technology. Media releases from North Korea often seem intent on proving doubters wrong, and the country’s tests sometimes seem designed to demonstrate previously unattributed capabilities.
Detonating a nuclear device in international waters, even without killing someone, would cause an ecological disaster with a lasting effect on the environment. Such a move would also draw massive condemnation by the international community.
But it would demonstrate beyond a doubt that North Korea's long-range nuclear threat is real, and it would stress the US-South Korean alliance as never before, which fits right into Pyongyang's playbook.
The US Navy's USS Wasp helicopter carrier will replace the USS Bonhomme Richard in the 7th Fleet's forward-deployed base at Sasebo, Japan, thereby giving the US an F-35 compatible aircraft carrier right at North Korea and China's doorstep.
The Wasp, one of the smaller-deck carriers the US Marine Corps' F-35B trained and tested on, will join with a squadron of Marine fighter pilots to put forth one of the most potent concentrations of naval power ever put to sea in the Pacific.
"This move ensures that our most technologically-advanced air warfare platforms are forward deployed," said Wasp Commanding Officer Capt. Andrew Smith said in a Navy release. "Our capabilities, paired with the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, increases our Navy's precision strike capabilities within the 7th Fleet region. Wasp will help America's commitment to the maritime security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific."
Japan saw the US's first deployment of the revolutionary F-35B outside of its own borders, which telegraphs just how suited the platform is to projecting power in the Pacific.
With a short-distance takeoff and vertical landing ability, the Wasp will pack on a handful of F-35Bs which can fly in stealth mode or laden with guns and bombs.
In the aftermath of Pyongyang's ground-shakinghydrogen bomb test, the US has circulated a proposal around the UN Security Council that would grant its Navy unprecedented powers to use “all necessary measures” to hunt down North Korean ships at sea, the New York Times reports.
The resolution would let the US stop all shipments of crude oil, petroleum, and natural gas to North Korea, according to The Times.
Such a step would cause many in North Korea to freeze over the winter, which can hit harshly in much of the country.
The US Navy would have to intercept and board North Korean ships and inspect them, a process that would require cooperation from the belligerent nation and make it extremely likely that violence would break out between the countries.
The US's proposed resolution would allow all UN member nations to “designate vessels for nonconsensual inspections” of North Korea ships and “to inspect on the high seas any vessel designated by the committee,” according to The Times.
Though the move stops short of a full-on blockade of North Korea, which would basically qualify as an act of war, it recalls the US's 1941 oil embargo on Japan, a prelude to the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor that dragged the US into World War II.
The proposed resolution comes while the US, South Korea, and Japan jockey to get China, North Korea's main trading partner to crack down on Pyongyang.
While China has agreed broadly to increased UN action, it's unclear if Beijing would back a move that could cause the death of many ordinary North Koreans and possibly cause an influx of Refugees. Historically, China has agreed to sanctions on North Korea in the wake of nuclear tests.
Russia, another member of the UN Secruity Council, has expressed unwillingness to engage in further sanctions. North Korea has preemptively said it would offer "powerful counter measures" if US-backed sanctions went through.
A resolution that seems destined to create violent encounters at sea could easily escalate into a large-scale confrontation, as North Korea has viciously attacked South Korean vessels in the past and the US has recently promised "massive" and "overwhelming"responses to aggression from Pyongyang.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel's attorney-general is considering indicting the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sara, on suspicion of using state funds for personal dining and catering services amounting to some $100,000, the justice ministry said on Friday.
The ministry statement said the attorney-general was considering prosecuting Sara Netanyahu for offences that include fraudulently procuring items, fraud and breach of trust.
A post on the prime minister's Facebook page published late on Thursday in response to media reports about a forthcoming announcement by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit, said the claims against Sara Netanyahu were "absurd and will be proven to be unfounded".
As Donald Trump prides himself on being unpredictable, he may well be pleased with a new New Yorker report from Evan Osnos that found North Korea couldn't make heads or tails of the US president.
Pak Song Il, the North Korean tasked with interpreting US politics, statements, and military posture, told Osnos during a trip to Pyongyang that Trump had thrown him for a loop.
"When he speaks, I have to figure out what he means, and what his next move will be," Pak said. "This is very difficult."
"He might be irrational — or too smart. We don’t know," Pak said.
Of particular interest in North Korea was Trump's "fire and fury" comment, when he seemed to offhandedly suggest that further threats from North Korea would prompt its nuclear annihilation from the US.
According to Osnos, Pak figured Trump was employing a deceptive strategy "like the Chinese 'Art of War.'"
But North Korea acknowledges that unlike its own system, the US relies more on consensus than whims of the leader.
"Is the American public ready for war?" Pak asked Osnos. "Does the Congress want a war? Does the American military want a war? Because, if they want a war, then we must prepare for that."
Though North Korea has been under the dynastic rule of the Kim family since the close of World War II, Kim Jong Un, the country's current leader, was never promised the throne after his father's death.
According to Evan Osnos' new report in the New Yorker, Kim rose to power mainly through "attitude and aggression" and displaying an "inner strength" from an early age.
His half brothers Kim Jong Nam and Kim Jong Chol tended towards playfulness and meakness, but Kim Jong-un would wear Soviet military uniforms to his birthday as a child, according to Osnos.
Even at a young age, Kim displayed a temper that may have translated into competitiveness on basketball courts in Switzerland, of all places.
"He was competitive at sports. He didn’t like to lose, like every one of us. For him, basketball was everything,” João Micaelo, one of Kim's former classmates at a school Kim attended in Bern under a psuedonym during the 1990s, told Osnos.
While his father Kim Jong Il presided over a massive famine where millions perished and suffered malnutrition, Kim fell asleep with a basketball in his bed and was a fan of the Chicago Bulls NBA team.
So when Kim Jong Il passed away in 2011, Kim became the natural choice, who proved even more vicious than his father.
"With Kim Jong Un, he has never yet bitten more than he can chew. Whatever he sets his sights on he gets. He keeps pushing, and pushing, and pushing. We don’t know where his brakes are, and I suspect he doesn’t know where he can stop,” Alexandre Mansourov, the former Soviet diplomat to North Korea told Osnos.
Under Kim Jong Il, North Korea had more open relations with the outside world. He entertained former Secretary of State Madeline Albright in Pyongyang and hoped to improve relations with the US.
But Kim Jong-un quickly became revered for his physical resemblance to Kim Il Sung, his grandfather and the country's founding leader, and he exhibited a brutality not seen under his father's rule.
He had his uncle killed, possibly to thwart an attempt at installing Kim Jong Nam, his half-brother, in a coup. Kim carried out violent purges of top officials with ties to China and insulated himself and his regime.
Evan Medeiros, President Obama’s chief Asia adviser, contrasted the two leaders, saying the father's "approach to managing élites appeared to be more incentive-based than coercion-based, making sure that they all got goodies and spoils. The son’s approach appears to be 'If you screw with me, I’m just going to kill you—and I’m going to kill you in a really nasty way.'"
Since Kim took power in 2011, North Korea has tested missiles at a blistering rate, testing more times than his father and grandfather combined. Of six total nuclear tests, four have occurred under Kim Jong-un's watch.
Today, Kim's North Korea stands on the verge of full, unquestionable nuclear capability and tensions with the US stand near all-time highs. Though experts assess Kim intended to secure his regime against foreign invasion by building nuclear weapons, not a soul on earth can truly say what he will do with full nuclear powers.
Read the full New Yorker article here.
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon will file a complaint to the United Nations against Israel for violating the country's airspace and causing damage by breaking the sound barrier in the south of the country, its foreign minister said on Monday.
Israeli jets flew low over the southern city of Saida on Sunday, causing sonic booms that broke windows and shook buildings for the first time in years, Lebanese security sources and residents said.
"We have started preparing to file a complaint to the (U.N.) Security Council against Israel for flying its planes at low altitude... causing material, moral and sovereign damage," Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said in a tweet.
Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said Lebanon would issue its complaint "against Israel for planting spy devices on Lebanese land and continuously breaching" its airspace, his office said.
Israeli warplanes regularly enter Lebanon's airspace, the Lebanese army says, but rarely fly so low. The Israeli military gave no immediate comment.
Tensions have risen recently between Lebanon's Hezbollah and Israel, which fought a month-long war in 2006.
The 2006 war killed around 1,200 people in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, most of them troops.
Israel has targeted Iran-backed Hezbollah inside Syria in recent years, including military leaders in several deadly strikes, but there has been no major direct confrontation.
TOKYO (AP) — North Korea says it will make the United States pay a heavy price if a proposal Washington is backing to impose the toughest sanctions ever on Pyongyang is approved by the U.N. Security Council this week.
The North’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement early Monday saying it is watching the United States’ moves closely and threatened it is “ready and willing” to respond with measures of its own.
The United States has called for a vote Monday, New York time, on new U.N. sanctions against North Korea.
Last Tuesday, the U.S. circulated a draft resolution proposing the toughest-ever U.N. sanctions on North Korea, including a ban on all oil and natural gas exports to the country and a freeze on all foreign financial assets of the government and its leader, Kim Jong Un.
Security Council diplomats, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly because talks have been private, said the U.S. and China were still negotiating the text late Sunday.
Previous U.N. sanctions resolutions have been negotiated between the United States and China, and have taken weeks or months. But the Trump administration is demanding a vote in six days.
“The U.S. is trying to use the DPRK’s legitimate self-defensive measures as an excuse to strangle and completely suffocate it,” the statement said, using the acronym for North Korea’s formal name. “Since the U.S. is revealing its nature as a blood-thirsty beast obsessed with the wild dream of reversing the DPRK’s development of the state nuclear force which has already reached the completion phase, there is no way that the DPRK is going to wait and let the U.S. feast on it.”
North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test a week ago and has been launching ballistic missiles at a record pace. Both are violations of U.N. resolutions, but Pyongyang claims it must carry them out to build nuclear deterrent against what it sees as U.S. aggression.
Undaunted by the international criticism of its test, which Pyongyang says was of a hydrogen bomb, Pyongyang celebrated through the weekend, with concerts and banquets for the country’s nuclear scientists and engineers.
Blocking textile exports and cutting off the flow of oil from China would potentially be crippling measures. North Korea gets nearly all of its oil supply from China, with a much smaller amount coming from Russia or the open market.
According to a recent study by the Nautilus Institute think tank, a massive cutback in the flow of oil from China would definitely hurt the North Korean economy, and especially average citizens. But the report said the impact would likely be blunted on the military, which probably has enough fuel stockpiled to continue normal operations for the immediate future.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently expressed doubt over whether sanctions are an effective means of getting the North to stop its missile and nuclear testing, and China, harboring similar concerns, has repeatedly hesitated in the past to fully support U.S. sanction plans.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday also stressed the importance of diplomacy and offered to act as a facilitator if needed.
“If our participation in talks is wanted, I will say yes immediately,” she said in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper that was published Sunday.
The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany conducted long-running talks with Iran that led to a 2015 deal for international sanctions to be lifted in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear activities.
“I could also imagine such a format to settle the North Korea conflict,” she said.
UNITED NATIONS/SEOUL (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council is set to vote on Monday on a watered-down U.S.-drafted resolution to impose new sanctions on North Korea over its latest nuclear test, diplomats said, but it was unclear whether China and Russia would support it.
North Korea warned the United States that it would pay a "due price" for spearheading efforts for fresh sanctions for this month's nuclear test, which followed a series of test missile launches, all in defiance of U.N. sanctions.
A U.S.-drafted resolution originally calling for an oil embargo on the North, a halt to its key exports of textiles and subjecting leader Kim Jong Un to a financial and travel ban have been weakened, apparently to placate Russia and China which both have veto powers, diplomats said.
It no longer proposes blacklisting Kim and relaxes sanctions earlier proposed on oil and gas, a draft reviewed by Reuters shows. It still proposes a ban on textile exports.
North Korea was condemned globally for conducting its sixth nuclear test on Sept 3, which it said was of an advanced hydrogen bomb. NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said at the weekend that North Korea's "reckless behavior", pursuing nuclear and missile programs, was a global threat and required a global response.
The tensions have weighed on global markets, but on Monday there was some relief among investors that North Korea did not conduct a further missile test this weekend when it celebrated its founding anniversary.
Still, North Korea denounced efforts by Washington to impose new U.N.-backed sanctions against the country. The North's Foreign Ministry spokesman said the United States was "going frantic" to manipulate the Security Council over Pyongyang's nuclear test, which it said was part of "legitimate self-defensive measures."
"In case the U.S. eventually does rig up the illegal and unlawful 'resolution' on harsher sanctions, the DPRK shall make absolutely sure that the U.S. pays due price," the spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.
DPRK stands for the North's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
"The world will witness how the DPRK tames the U.S. gangsters by taking a series of actions tougher than they have ever envisaged," the unnamed spokesman said.
"The DPRK has developed and perfected the super-powerful thermo-nuclear weapon as a means to deter the ever-increasing hostile moves and nuclear threat of the U.S. and defuse the danger of nuclear war looming over the Korean peninsula and the region."
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said last week during a visit to Russia that shutting off North Korea's supply of oil was inevitable this time to bring Pyongyang to talks and he called for Russian President Vladimir Putin's support.
Putin has remained firm however that such sanctions on oil would have negative humanitarian effects on North Koreans.
China, the North's lone major ally, may be most critical though in deciding if oil sanctions go ahead because it controls an oil pipeline that industry sources say provides about 520,000 tonnes of crude a year to the North.
A Security Council resolution needs nine votes in favor and no vetoes by permanent members the United States, Britain, France, Russia or China to pass.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang stressed the need for consensus and maintaining peace.
"I have said before that China agrees that the U.N. Security Council should make a further response and necessary actions with respect to North Korea's sixth nuclear test," he told reporters.
"We hope Security Council members on the basis of sufficient consultations reach consensus and project a united voice. The response and actions the Security Council makes should be conducive to the denuclearization of the peninsula, conducive to safeguarding the peace and stability of the peninsula, and conducive to push forward the use of peaceful and political means to resolve the peninsula nuclear issue."
The latest draft of the resolution reflects the challenge in imposing tough sanctions on the North by curbing its energy supply and singling out its leader for a financial and travel ban, a symbolic measure at best but one that is certain to rile Pyongyang.
It will also be a disappointment to South Korea, which has sought tough new sanctions that would be harder for Pyongyang to ignore, as it said dialogue remained on the table.
"We have been in consultations that oil has to be part of the final sanctions," South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha told a news conference, saying Pyongyang was on a "reckless path".
"I do believe that whatever makes it into the final text and is adopted by consensus hopefully will have significant consequences on the economic pressure against North Korea."
There was no independent verification of the North's claim to have conducted a hydrogen bomb test, but some experts said there was enough strong evidence to suggest Pyongyang had either developed a hydrogen bomb or was getting close.
KCNA said on Sunday that Kim threw a banquet to celebrate the scientists and top military and party officials who contributed to the nuclear bomb test, topped with an art performance and a photo session with the leader himself.
The standoff is also spilling over into the business relationship between South Korea and China.
South Korea's Lotte Shopping <023530.KS> is considering selling its supermarkets in China and other options should political tensions between Seoul and Beijing continue next year, an official at the retailer told Reuters.
China has pressured South Korean businesses via boycotts and bans since Seoul decided last year to deploy a U.S.-made missile defense system as a deterrent to North Korea. Beijing says the system's radar can penetrate far into its territory.
South Korea deployed four additional units of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on Thursday after the North's latest nuclear test.
The heightened tension could have a substantial impact on South Korea's economy and could also disrupt trade between the United States and China, ratings agency Fitch said on Monday.
Outright military conflict on the Korean peninsula is unlikely but prolonged tension could undermine business and consumer sentiment, Fitch said.
(Additional reporting by Christine Kim and Hyunjoo Jin in SEOUL and Philip Wen in BEIJING; Editing by Neil Fullick and Nick Macfie)
North Korea made a quantum leap in nuclear destructive capability earlier this month by detonating a thermonuclear device that solves one of its biggest shortcoming within the missile program — accuracy.
North Korea has demonstrated missiles that can range the continental US from its various launch sites, but range represents just a small part of the equation.
Not only does an intercontinental ballistic missile need to have tremendous power to give it range, it needs high-tech composite materials to help it survive reentry into the earth's atmosphere.
Serious questions remain about North Korea's ability to build a reentry vehicle that can survive the insane pressure and heat associated with diving through earth's atmosphere at many times the speed of sound.
Mike Elleman, senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, previously told Business Insider that the first time North Korea launched an ICBM, the reentry vehicle failed catastrophically in the last few seconds before impact.
North Korea may have since corrected this issue, but it still needs to test its missiles at long range, instead of firing them straight up and down. Tests on a regular trajectory can give them good data about reentry vehicle survival, but even if it works, they have to figure out how to guide the missile.
The US has fielded nuclear ICBMs since 1961, but it continues to work on accuracy. The US may spend about $400 billion on upgrading its ground-based Minuteman III missiles in large part to increase their precision within the coming years.
North Korea, fledgling when it comes to ICBMs, has nowhere near the accuracy with missile fires that the US has. As the North Korean ICBMs have not been tested at range, nobody, including Kim Jong Un, knows how accurate the missiles would be.
But having a gigantic explosive at the end of the warhead fixes that. If a warhead can explode with the force of hundreds of kilotons of TNT, it doesn't really need to be accurate. North Korea could miss San Francisco by miles and still kill hundreds of thousands along California's densely populated coast.
North Korea breaking through to hydrogen bombs, as opposed to atom bombs, means its missile program has become exponentially more effective, and a much greater threat to the US.
The worst terrorist attack in U.S. history turned more than a few ordinary Americans into heroes.
Nearly 3,000 people lost their lives on Sep. 11, 2001, after al Qaeda hijackers flew airplanes into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in New York. More than 6,000 were injured.
Tens of thousands of people typically worked in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, and most were able to escape. While all who endured that terrible day can be considered brave, there are some who went above and beyond in trying to save lives, and ultimately prevented the tragedy from becoming even worse.
1. A 24-year-old equities trader helped at least a dozen people get out, and then he went back in with firefighters to save more.
Just a few minutes after United Airlines Flight 175 struck the South Tower of the World Trade Center, 24-year-old Welles Crowther called his mother and calmly left a voicemail: “Mom, this is Welles. I want you to know that I’m ok.”
Crowther was an equities trader at Sandler O’Neil and Partners on the 104th floor. But after that call, the man who was a volunteer firefighter in his teens made his way down to the 78th floor sky lobby and became a hero to strangers known only as “the man in the red bandana.”
Amid the smoke, chaos and debris, Crowther helped injured and disoriented office workers to safety, risking his own life in the process. Though they couldn’t see much through the haze, those he saved recalled a tall figure wearing a red bandana to shield his lungs and mouth.
He had come down to the 78th-floor sky lobby, an alcove in the building with express elevators meant to speed up trips to the ground floor. In what’s been described as a “strong, authoritative voice,” Crowther directed survivors to the stairway and encouraged them to help others while he carried an injured woman on his back. After bringing her 15 floors down to safety, he made his way back up to help others.
“Everyone who can stand, stand now,” Crowther told survivors while directing them to a stairway exit. “If you can help others, do so.”
“He’s definitely my guardian angel — no ifs, ands or buts — because without him, we would be sitting there, waiting [until] the building came down,” survivor Ling Young told CNN. Crowther is credited with saving at least a dozen people that day.
Crowther’s body was later recovered alongside firefighters in a stairwell heading back up the tower with the “jaws of life” rescue tool, according to Mic.
2. A group of strangers teamed up to take back United Flight 93, preventing the plane from killing untold numbers of people in the U.S. Capitol.
At approximately 9:28 a.m. on Sep. 11, 2001, United Flight 93 was hijacked by four al Qaeda terrorists. After the terrorists had stabbed the pilot and a flight attendant, the passengers were told that a bomb was onboard and the plane was heading back to the airport.
But this was after two planes had already hit the World Trade Center, and the passengers on United 93 — huddled in the back of the plane — were beginning to find out what the real plan was. Beginning at 9:30 a.m., several passengers made phone calls to their loved ones.
“Tom, they are hijacking planes all up and down the east coast,” Deena Burnett told her husband Tom, a passenger on United 93, in a cell phone call at 9:34 a.m. “They are taking them and hitting designated targets. They’ve already hit both towers of the World Trade Center.” In another phone call, Tom learned from his wife that another plane had hit the Pentagon.
“We have to do something,” Burnett told his wife at 9:45 a.m. “I’m putting a plan together.” Other passengers, including Mark Bingham, Jeremy Glick, and Todd Beamer, were learning similar details in their own phone calls, as the plane was barreling towards Washington, D.C.
The passengers voted on whether to fight back against the hijackers. Led by the four man group, the passengers then rushed the cockpit, with Beamer rallying them in his last words: “You ready? Okay, let’s roll.”
From 9.57, the cockpit recorder picks up the sounds of fighting in an aircraft losing control at 30,000 feet – the crash of trolleys, dishes being hurled and smashed. The terrorists scream at each other to hold the door against what is obviously a siege from the cabin. A passenger cries: ‘Let’s get them!’ and there is more screaming, then an apparent breach. ‘Give it to me!’ shouts a passenger, apparently about to seize the controls.
Instead of the plane hitting its intended target — believed to be The White House or the Capitol Building — it crashed into an empty field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, killing all 44 passengers onboard.
3. Two former U.S. Marines put their uniforms back on and searched through rubble that could have collapsed at any moment. They found two survivors.
While the planes were hitting the World Trade Center, 27-year-old Jason Thomas was dropping off his daughter to his mother in Long Island.
When Thomas heard what had transpired, he changed into the Marine Corps uniform he had sitting in his trunk — he was a former sergeant who had been out of the Corps for a year — and sped toward Manhattan.
“Someone needed help. It didn’t matter who,” Thomas told AP. “I didn’t even have a plan. But I have all this training as a Marine, and all I could think was, ‘My city is in need.'”
Around the same time in Wilton, Connecticut, Dave Karnes was working in his office at Deloitte watching the attack unfold on TV.
“We’re at war,” the former Marine staff sergeant said to his colleagues, before telling his boss he might not be back for a while, according to Slate. He went and got a haircut, changed into his Marine uniform, and drove toward New York City at 120 miles per hour.
Once both Marines reached the collapsed towers — the site now covered in ash and debris — they began searching for survivors, but first, they found each other. They had little gear with them besides flashlights and a military entrenching tool, AP reported.
Along with other first responders, the pair climbed over the dangerous field of metal, concrete, and dust, calling out,“United States Marines! If you can hear us, yell or tap!”
According to Stripes:
When they reached a depression in the rubble of what had been the south tower, he said, “I thought I heard someone. … So I yelled down and they replied back that they were New York Port Authority police officers. “They asked us not to leave them.”
Karnes told Thomas to get to a high point to direct rescuers to the site, then called his wife and sister on his cell phone and told them to phone and give the New York police his location.
The two officers, William Jimeno and John McLoughlin, were on the main concourse between the towers when the South Tower began to fall, but made it into a freight elevator before the collapse. They were alive but seriously injured, trapped approximately 20 feet below the surface.
According to USA Today, once they heard the voices of the Marines, Jimeno began shouting the code for officer down: “8-13! 8-13!” After they were located amid the unstable mountain of debris, it took rescue workers roughly three hours to dig out Jimeno, and another eight to reach McLoughlin, who was buried further down.
An exhausted Thomas, who never gave his first name, left the site after Jimeno was rescued, but returned to Ground Zero for the next 2 1/12 weeks to help. His identity was a mystery until after Oliver Stone’s 2006 film “World Trade Center” chronicled the rescue of the officers, and Thomas emerged from the shadows.
Karnes also left after Jimeno came up, but helped at the site for another nine days. After he returned to Connecticut, he went to his reserve center and reenlisted, and later served two tours of duty in Iraq.
4. Two flight attendants on American Airlines Flight 11 calmly relayed information on the hijackers that would help the FBI determine the perpetrators were al Qaeda.
Fifteen minutes after takeoff from Boston, American Airlines Flight 11 was hijacked by five al Qaeda terrorists and sharply changed its flight path away from Los Angeles to New York City. With the group leader Mohamed Atta at the controls and some flight attendants and passengers stabbed, the terrorists pushed the remaining passengers toward the back of the plane.
Using crew telephones, flight attendants Betty Ong and Amy Sweeney calmly relayed information to their colleagues on what was unfolding that morning. “Okay, my name is Betty Ong. I’m number 3 on Flight 11. And the cockpit is not answering their phone, and there’s somebody stabbed in business class, and there’s — we can’t breathe in business class. Somebody’s got mace or something.”
Speaking with an American Airlines reservation center, Ong explained that some of the crew had been murdered and hijackers had infiltrated the cockpit. She shared information on the men, including their seat numbers and what they looked like. Her colleague Amy Sweeney did the same.
The New York Observer has more:
Sweeney slid into a passenger seat in the next-to-last row of coach and used an Airfone to call American Airlines Flight Service at Boston’s Logan airport. “This is Amy Sweeney,” she reported. “I’m on Flight 11 — this plane has been hijacked.” She was disconnected. She called back: “Listen to me, and listen to me very carefully.” Within seconds, her befuddled respondent was replaced by a voice she knew.
“Amy, this is Michael Woodward.” The American Airlines flight service manager had been friends with Sweeney for a decade, so he didnt have to waste any time verifying that this wasn’t a hoax. “Michael, this plane has been hijacked,” Ms. Sweeney repeated. Calmly, she gave him the seat locations of three of the hijackers: 9D, 9G and 10B. She said they were all of Middle Eastern descent, and one spoke English very well.
Those on the other end of the line were astonished at their calm demeanor and professionalism at the time, according to ABC News. At least 20 minutes before the plane crashed into the North Tower, American Airlines had the names, addresses, and other information on three of the five hijackers, details that would help the FBI get a jumpstart on the investigation.
5. Rick Rescorla was responsible for saving more than 2,700 lives, and he sang songs to keep people calm while they evacuated.
Rick Rescorla was already a hero of the battlefields of Vietnam, where he earned the Silver Star and other awards for his exploits as an Army officer.
Rescorla — once immortalized on the cover of the book “We Were Soldiers Once… And Young” — would often sing to his men to calm them down while under fire, using songs of his youth while growing up in the United Kingdom.
Many more in the South Tower would hear his songs on Sep. 11, where Rescorla was working as head of corporate security for Morgan Stanley.
When American Flight 11 hit the tower next to him, Port Authority ordered Rescorla to keep his employees at their desks, according to San Diego Source.
“I said, ‘Piss off, you son of a bitch,’” Rescorla told Daniel Hill, a close friend who was trained in counterterrorism, in a phone call that morning. “Everything above where that plane hit is going to collapse, and it’s going to take the whole building with it. I’m getting my people the fuck out of here.”
Rescorla, who had frequently warned the Port Authority and his company about the World Trade Center’s security weaknesses, had already issued the order to evacuate. He had made Morgan Stanley employees practice emergency drills for years, and it paid off that day: Just 16 minutes after the first plane hit the opposite tower, more than 2,700 employees and visitors were out when the second plane hit their building.
During the evacuation, Rescorla calmly reassured people. singing “God Bless America” and “Men of Harlech” over a bullhorn as they walked down the stairs.
During the evacuation Rescorla called his wife, according to The New Yorker:
“Stop crying,” he told her. “I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I’ve never been happier. You made my life.”
Rescorla was last seen on the 10th floor of the South Tower, heading upward to look for any stragglers. His body was never found.
6. Two unarmed F-16s scrambled to stop any other hijacked airliners and the pilots were prepared to give their lives to stop them.
With scant detail of what was happening and no time to do pre-flight checklists, two D.C. Air National Guard pilots quickly scrambled to intercept United 93 after two other planes had hit the World Trade Center.
Except there was a twist: They were unarmed. Via NBC News:
In the days before Sept. 11, there were no armed aircraft standing guard in Washington, D.C., ready to scramble at the first sign of trouble.
And with a Boeing 757 aircraft speeding in the direction of Washington, D.C., Penney and her commanding officer, Col. Marc Sasseville, couldn’t wait the dozens of minutes it was going to take to properly arm their respective jets.
“We had to protect the airspace any way we could,” Maj. Heather Penney recalled to The Washington Post in 2011. “We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We’d be ramming the aircraft. I would essentially be a kamikaze pilot.” Before they took off, Penney and Sasseville both planned to ram the aircraft with their F-16s.
Instead, the passengers on United 93 made the intercept unnecessary, ultimately fighting back against the hijackers and downing the aircraft into a Pennsylvania field 20 minutes outside of Washington.
7. A tour guide at the Pentagon gave medical aid to the injured outside, then went back in to the building while it was still in flames.
Army Spc. Beau Doboszenski was working as a tour guide on the opposite side of the Pentagon when the building was struck by American Airlines Flight 77, and didn’t even hear it. But Doboszenski, a former volunteer firefighter and trained EMT, responded after a Navy captain asked for anyone with medical training, The Army News Service reported.
“Specialist Beau Doboszenski was a tour guide that morning, on the far side of the building,” Vice President Joe Biden said on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. “So far away, in fact, he never heard the plane hit. But he shortly felt the commotion. He could have gone home — no one would have blamed him. But he was also a trained EMT and came from a family of firefighters.”
Doboszenski ended up running around the building to try to get to the crash but was stopped by police. Eventually he went around the barricades to reach a medical triage station, and helped give first aid to numerous victims. Afterward, he joined a six-man team that went back in to look for survivors, while the building was still in flames.
“When people started streaming out of the building and screaming, he sprinted toward the crash site,” Biden said. “For hours, he altered between treating his co-workers and dashing into the inferno with a team of six men.”