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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    turkey coup

    ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Turkey's state-run news agency says Turkish authorities have arrested a U.S. Consulate employee in Istanbul over his alleged links to a movement led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen.

    Anadolu Agency says the man, a Turkish citizen identified by the initials M.T., was ordered arrested late Wednesday on charges of espionage and attempts to "destroy" the constitutional order and Turkey's government.

    Anadolu reported that the man is accused of ties to a former prosecutor and four former police chiefs who are being prosecuted for leading a corruption probe in 2013, which the government says was orchestrated by Gulen in a bid to topple it.

    Gulen is also accused of masterminding last year's failed coup. Gulen denies the accusations.

    The U.S. Embassy said a statement would be issued later Thursday.

    SEE ALSO: Catalan leader: 'I am not afraid' of getting arrested over independence push against Spain

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: An Alabama high school 'resegregated' after years of being a model of integration — here's what happened after


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

KCNA/via REUTERS

    Without sharing weapons, nuclear secrets, or any military assets, Russia likely just handed North Korea a meaningful safeguard for its burgeoning nuclear arsenal by hooking the country up with internet.

    Russia's TransTeleCom started routing data from North Korea on Sunday evening, according to 38 North, a website dedicated to expert analysis of North Korea.

    “The addition of Russian transit would create new internet path out of the country, increasing its resilience and international bandwidth capacity,” Doug Madory, a global internet-connectivity analyst at Dyn Research, told 38 North.

    But the timing of the move raises serious questions, as The Washington Post reported at the end of September that US Cyber Command had been attacking North Korea's networks in a President Donald Trump-directed campaign that just happened to end on Sunday.

    Now, with a new hard line to another network, North Korea's cyber infrastructure has a whole new added layer of resiliency.

    In April of this year, when The New York Times ran a story about the US supposedly hacking North Korea's missile infrastructure to cause its launches to fail, Business Insider spoke to Ken Geers, a cybersecurity expert for Comodo with experience in the NSA.

    "If you think that war is possible with a given state, you're going to be trying to prepare the battle space for conflict. In the internet age, that means hacking," said Geers.

    United State Cyber Command security attacks

    Because of the limited number of servers and access points to North Korea's very restricted internet, "If it ever came to cyberwar between the US and North Korea, it would be an overwhelming victory for the West," said Geers.

    But with Russia's support for North Korea's network, the US's job in shutting down North Korea's cyber activities, including possibly its nuclear command and control, becomes much more difficult.

    SEE ALSO: Why Russia is throwing North Korea a lifeline to protect Kim Jong Un

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: North Korea exports $2.83 billion worth of goods — here's where it all goes


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    Cambodia's Prime Minister and president of Cambodian People's Party (CPP) Hun Sen speaks during a campaign rally in Phnom Penh, Cambodia June 2, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

    PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodian government lawyers filed a lawsuit on Friday to demand the dissolution of the main opposition party, in a move that would help Prime Minister Hun Sen extend his 32-year rule when the poor Southeast Asian nation votes in an election next year.

    The attempt to disband the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) comes after its leader, Kem Sokha, was charged with treason following his arrest on Sept.3.

    In their lawsuit on Friday, government lawyers said the opposition had conspired with foreigners to topple the government, citing a 2013 video clip that shows Kem Sokha talking about a plan to take power with the help of Americans.

    "Today we filed a lawsuit at the Supreme Court on behalf of the Interior Ministry to ask to dissolve the CNRP," Ky Tech, one of the government lawyers, told reporters.

    "The CNRP, besides colluding secretly with foreigners ... also intends to serve foreigners," the lawsuit said.

    The U.S. embassy in Phnom Penh has rejected the accusations and Kem Sokha's arrest was condemned by Western countries, who have questioned whether next year's election can be fair following the crackdown on opposition leaders, activists and journalists.

    Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge commander who defected from the genocidal group and helped drive it from power in 1979, is allied to China, and Beijing says it supports the Cambodian government's efforts to maintain national security and stability.

    Half of Cambodia's opposition members of parliament have fled the country. One of the remaining parliamentarians derided allegations that the CNRP had been involved in planning a US-backed coup.

    Supporters of Kem Sokha, leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), stand outside the Appeal Court during a bail hearing for the jailed opposition leader in Phnom Penh, Cambodia September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring"This is intended to destroy democracy in Cambodia," Mao Monyvann said of the move to shut down the CNRP.

    The ruling Cambodian People's Party narrowly won the last election in 2013 after losing seats to the opposition in what was Hun Sen's worst election result since Cambodia returned to full democracy in 1998.

    The ruling party lost ground in local elections in June, after which, according to opposition members, Hun Sen stepped up a campaign against dissenting voices.

    SEE ALSO: Myanmar's persecuted Muslim minority is fighting back with homemade weapons

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: All blue-eyed people have a single ancestor in common


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    A South Korean security guard stands guard on an empty road which leads to the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) at the South's CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine), just south of the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, February 11, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

    SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has restarted operations at the Kaesong industrial zone, state-run web sites said on Friday, after the joint venture with South Korea was suspended last year amid disagreement over the North's nuclear and missile programs.

    The South ended more than a decade of cooperation at the factory park on the North Korean side of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) after the North launched a rocket that put an object into orbit, closing the last remaining window of interaction between the two sides, still technically at war.

    At the time, South Korea said it would no longer allow funds paid for Kaesong to be used in the North's missile and nuclear programs. Since then, a South Korean official has said there is no evidence that North Korea diverted wages paid to its workers by South Korean companies operating in the park to its weapons programs.

    "They do not even see our proud workers laboring vigorously working in the Kaesong industrial complex," North Korea's propaganda web site Meari (arirangmeari.com) said in a post dated Friday.

    Another propaganda web site, Uriminzokkiri, said "it is nobody's business what we do in an industrial complex where our nation's sovereignty is exercised".

    An official at South Korea's Ministry of Unification said that North Korea must not violate South Korean firms' property rights within the complex, wire service Yonhap reported.

    The Ministry of Unification could not be immediately reached for comment.

    South Korean soldiers stand guard at a gateway which leads to the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) at the South's CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine), just south of the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, February 11, 2016.   REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

    Reclusive North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

    In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test, and may be fast advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

    U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said last weekend that Washington was directly communicating with Pyongyang on its nuclear and missile programs but that Pyongyang had shown no interest in dialogue.

    U.S. President Donald Trump later dismissed any prospect of talks with North Korea as a waste of time.

    SEE ALSO: Russia just helped North Korea harden its nuclear arsenal against US cyberattacks

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    NOW WATCH: North Korea exports $2.83 billion worth of goods — here's where it all goes


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    kim jong un

    A top CIA official has countered the common "madman" narrative surrounding North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, telling an audience in Washington DC that he's a "very rational actor."

    This contradicts President Donald Trump's statements that Kim is a "madman," though that may have been more a subjective statement than a technical assessment. 

    “The last person who wants conflict on the [Korean peninsula] is Kim Jong Un,” said Yong Suk Lee, the deputy assistant director of the CIA’s newly created Korea Mission Center, according to the Washington Times.

    Lee added that Kim Jong Un has "no interest in going toe-to-toe" with the US, and that while North Korea may obfuscate its motives with warlike rhetoric, Kim Jong Un "wants what all authoritarian rulers want … to rule for a very long time and die peacefully in his own bed."

    Lee's characterization of Kim matches other experts interviewed and quoted by Business Insider. Essentially, war with the US is suicide for the Kim regime. Additionally, it directly contradicts Kim's desire to stay in power.

    Far from being a madman, Kim is nuanced, and "knows how to dance on the edge of a cliff," former chief of the Northeast Asia Division at the Bureau of Intelligence and Research in the State Department, Robert Carlin previously told Business insider.

    According to Carlin, Kim is experienced or "has experienced people around him who can give him advice on when to move and when not."

    But North Korea does not drive the nuclear crisis alone. US statements and policies also contribute to the lack of diplomatic solutions and military tensions. When Trump said the US would respond to North Korean threats with "fire and fury," even a rational actor would struggle to respond.

    In fact, various reports indicate that North Korea greatly struggles to understand Trump, which could lead to danger down the road.

    "The problem is the dynamic between the Americans and the North Koreans," said Carlin. "It’s not singularly with the North Koreans. It’s the chemistry, the misunderstandings, misperceptions, that is so dangerous."

    SEE ALSO: White House reporter says 'things got weird' during a photo-op between Trump and military officials

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The mysterious life of the wife of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un


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    Beatrice Fihn

    OSLO/GENEVA (Reuters) - The Norwegian Nobel Committee, warning of a rising risk of nuclear war and the spread of weapons to North Korea, awarded the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday to a little-known campaign group seeking a global ban on nuclear arms.

    The award for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was unexpected, particularly in a year when the architects of the 2015 nuclear deal between international powers and Iran had been seen as favorites for achieving the sort of diplomatic breakthrough that has won the prize in the past.

    Still, supporters saw it as a potential breakthrough for a global movement that has fought to ban nuclear arms from the day the first atomic bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August 1945.

    ICAN's Executive Director Beatrice Fihn told Reuters the group was elated.

    Asked if she had a message for North Korea's Kim Jong-Un, who has tested nuclear arms in defiance of global pressure, and President Donald Trump, who has threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea to protect the United States and its allies, she said both leaders need to know that the weapons are illegal.

    "Nuclear weapons are illegal. Threatening to use nuclear weapons is illegal. Having nuclear weapons, possessing nuclear weapons, developing nuclear weapons, is illegal, and they need to stop."

    Two days before her group won the prize, Fihn tweeted that Trump was "a moron". She told Reuters she had written this in the context of news reports at the time that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had used the same word to describe his boss. But she said Trump's impulsive character illustrated the importance of banning nuclear arms for all countries.

    "A man you can bait with a tweet seems to be taking irrational decisions very quickly and not listening to expertise, it just puts a spotlight on what do nuclear weapons really mean. There are no right hands for the wrong weapons," she said.

    ICAN describes itself as a coalition of grassroots non-government groups in more than 100 nations. It began in Australia and was officially launched in Vienna in 2007.

    "We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time," said Berit Reiss-Andersen, the leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

    "Some states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals, and there is a real danger that more countries will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea."

    The award was hailed by anti-nuclear campaigners around the world. Mikiso Iwasa, an 88-year-old Hiroshima survivor, told Reuters the prize would help push the movement forward.

    "It is wonderful we have this Nobel Peace-Prize winning movement. All of us need to join forces, think hard and walk forward together to turn this momentum into something even bigger," he said.

    Donald Trump

    Nuclear tensions

    The prize seeks to bolster the case of disarmament amid nuclear tensions between Washington and Pyongyang, as well as uncertainty over the fate of the 2015 deal between Iran and major powers to limit Tehran's nuclear program, although the committee made no mention of Iran in its award citation.

    The committee raised eyebrows with its decision to award the prize to an international campaign group with a relatively low profile, rather than recognizing the Iran deal, a complex agreement hammered out over years of high-stakes diplomacy.

    "Norwegian Nobel Committee has its own ways, but the nuclear agreement with Iran achieved something real and would have deserved a prize," tweeted Carl Bildt, a former Swedish prime minister who has held top posts as an international diplomat.

    The Iran accord, which Trump has repeatedly called "the worst deal ever negotiated", is seen as under particular threat this week. A senior administration official said on Thursday Trump is expected to decertify Iran's compliance, a step toward potentially unwinding the pact.

    The committee may have been reluctant to reward the Iranian government for its role in the nuclear deal because the only Iranian winner so far, 2003 laureate Shrin Ebadi, a lawyer and human rights campaigner, is forced to live in exile.

    "I think the committee has thought about the human rights situation in Iran. It would have been difficult to explain the prize even though it has a favorable view of the Iran deal," Asle Sveen, a historian of the Nobel Peace Prize, told Reuters.

    The Norwegian Nobel committee denied that giving the prize to an anti-nuclear group was intended either as a rebuke to Trump, or as a snub to the architects of the Iran nuclear deal.

    "The Iran treaty is a positive development, a disarmament development that is positive, but the reason we mentioned North Korea (in our statement) is a reference to the threat that people actually feel," Reiss-Andersen told Reuters.

    "Iran has not voiced recent threats to use nuclear weapons, on the contrary," she said in an interview.

    ICAN has campaigned for a U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted by 122 nations in July this year.

    That agreement is not signed by -- and would not apply to -- any of the states that already have nuclear arms, which include the five U.N. Security Council permanent members, the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France, as well as India, Pakistan and North Korea. Israel is also widely assumed to have nuclear weapons, although it neither confirms nor denies it.

    Major allies of the declared nuclear powers also oppose the new treaty. Nevertheless, campaigners see it as a framework that would make it easier for countries that have nuclear arms to work toward eliminating them.

    The United Nations said the award would help bolster efforts to get enough of the countries that signed the new treat to ratify it so that it can come into force. Fifty ratifications are needed.

    "I hope this prize will be conducive for the entry into force of this treaty," U.N. Chief Spokeswoman in Geneva Alessandra Vellucci told a news briefing.

    (Additional reporting by Joachim Dagenborg, Terje Solsvik, Henrik Stolen, Gwladys Fouche and Alister Doyle in Oslo, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo, writing by Gwladys Fouche and Alister Doyle, editing by Peter Graff)

    SEE ALSO: White House reporter says 'things got weird' during a photo-op between Trump and military officials

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why you won't find a garbage can near the 9/11 memorial


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    B 61 nuclear bombs on rack

    President Donald Trump's ongoing nuclear posture review has begun to yield findings indicating the US may create new nuclear weapons for the first time in decades — and it could increase the chances of nuclear war.

    The US's last nuclear posture review, carried out under former President Barack Obama in 2010, was "explicit about its objective," Robert Joseph, a senior scholar at the National Institute for Public Policy told Air Force Magazine in September. 

    Essentially, under Obama, the US prioritized stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, didn't consider Russia, China, or North Korea, as a threat, and maintained that the US shouldn't build any new nuclear platforms.

    But in the seven years since the Obama administration's evaluation, the world has changed significantly. Russia has emerged as a serious adversary in almost every dimension of US foreign policy. China has commenced a massive land grab in the South China Sea. North Korea has demonstrated thermonuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile capability

    In light of this new challenge, Trump's review seeks to answer the question: Can America still deter adversaries with its existing arsenal?

    With the current framework of mutually assured destruction, or the strategy whereby any nuclear exchanges between nuclear powers would result in the total destruction of both countries, reports indicate that defense officials are concerned that the US is self-deterred from using its strategic nuclear forces.

    Basically, a rising question over if the US would actually initiate the end of the world by using its massive nuclear arsenal against Russia or China may erode the credibility of the deterrent.

    A Russian Yars RS-24 intercontinental ballistic missile system drives during the Victory Day parade, marking the 71st anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two, at Red Square in Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2016.  REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

    So some involved in the review have started advocating for the US to build smaller nuclear weapons, which Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, told Business Insider would be more "usable."

    A new class of smaller nuclear weapons "would lower the threshold for use" without providing any real advantages, according to Reif. 

    Reif challenged the idea of mini-nukes by asking what targets would require a small nuclear weapon instead of conventional bombs. The US has massive ordnance penetrator bombs meant to smash bunkers deep underground.

    The proliferation of precision-guided munitions now means that smaller explosives hitting closer to targets preclude the need for massive nuclear explosions that would almost certainly in any use case kill civilians. 

    f 35b uss america ordnance carrier.JPG

    Additionally, the US already has tactical, low-yield nuclear weapons stashed around Europe. Besides signaling the US's resolve to participate in nuclear war should the need arise, it's unclear what purpose these weapons would serve.

    "The United States already has hundreds of nuclear warheads that can be detonated or configured to detonate at low yields," said Reif. "New low-yield weapons are a solution in search of a problem."

    "If the US moves now to develop a new nuclear weapon, it will send exactly the wrong signal," Steven Andreasen, a former State Department official told Politico.

    "If the world's greatest conventional and nuclear military power decides it cannot defend itself without new nuclear weapons, we will undermine our ability to prevent other nations from developing or enhancing their own nuclear capabilities and we will further deepen the divisions between the US and other responsible countries."

    SEE ALSO: Russia just successfully tested one of its newest ICBMs — Here's what it can do

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    NOW WATCH: The 4 longest range missiles in the world


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    west bank israel palestine settlement

    JERUSALEM (AP) — A top Israeli minister considered close to Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed rare criticism of President Donald Trump and has warned that he expects Israel to approve more construction in settlements.

    Zeev Elkin says he is "disappointed" that Trump hasn't fulfilled his campaign promise to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

    Israel considers Jerusalem its capital. Palestinians demand east Jerusalem for the capital of their future state along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    Elkin also told Army Radio on Monday that Israel will approve more building in West Bank settlements next week. Channel 2 TV put the number at about 4,000 housing units.

    Trump is more sympathetic to settlements than his predecessor Barak Obama or the international community, which considers them to be illegal.

    SEE ALSO: Problems are starting to emerge between Trump and Israel

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: A controversial Israeli attraction in the West Bank has tourists engage in a 'counterterrorism boot camp'


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    ISIS detainees Mosul

    When US-backed Iraqi security forces and Iranian Shia militias cleared ISIS' final Iraqi stronghold in Hawijah, they met weak resistance and a massive surrender from a once fearsome army.

    In 2015 and 2016, ISIS, the terrorist group also known as the Islamic State, carried out suicide attacks around the globe at a historic rate.

    The group, founded in June 2014, has long demanded that its militants fight or die, and it often sends young men and even children on suicide-bombing missions.

    But as the group weakens on the ground, it seems to have shifted course.

    A US Department of Defense release on the battle for Hawijah cites "many sources reporting more than 1,000 terrorists surrendered."

    Unlike the battle for Mosul, once ISIS' largest Iraqi stronghold, the terrorist group "put up no fight at all, other than planting bombs and booby traps," Kurdish officials told The New York Times.

    Strikingly, the same officials reported that ISIS commanders had ordered their fighters to turn themselves in, on the grounds that the Kurds would take prisoners while other opponents would be harsher.

    Indeed, after three years of brutal conflict, the Iraqi Security Forces fighting have admitted to engaging in acts of savagery against defeated ISIS fighters.

    In July, Iraqi officers said they took part in extrajudicial killings of many unarmed ISIS fighters, with one vowing a "slow death" as revenge for killing his father.

    Iraq Syria ISIS map october 2017 hawijah

    After suffering defeat after defeat on the ground, ISIS has upped the aggression of its media operation in an attempt to save face. Recently the group released audio it said came from its top leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was rumored to be killed or at least injured by airstrikes.

    After last week's shooting in Las Vegas, the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history, ISIS also made the dubious claim that the gunman was one of its followers.

    US officials have shot this claim down, and ISIS' claims do not match evidence that has since emerged on the gunman's preparation for the attack.

    An Iraqi Shi'ite fighter fires artillery during clashes with Islamic State militants near Falluja, Iraq, May 29, 2016.     REUTERS/Staff/File Photo

    In its early months and years, ISIS enjoyed a surge of battlefield victories. The group had political support in Sunni Muslim areas, where many felt disenfranchised by Iraq's Shia-run government.

    But it has since been ground down for years by US-led coalition airstrikes and a wide range of militias and national armies on the ground.

    With the fall of Hawijah, only a small strip of territory along Syria's border remains in ISIS' control.

    SEE ALSO: Here's how the US-led coalition decides when and where to hit ISIS targets in Iraq

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    NOW WATCH: Here’s what it was like to live in a city controlled by ISIS


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    Kim Jong Un

    President Donald Trump on Monday morning tweeted another hint that he was nearing the end of his patience with North Korea.

    "Our country has been unsuccessfully dealing with North Korea for 25 years, giving billions of dollars & getting nothing. Policy didn't work!" Trump tweeted.

    Trump's tweet echoes a sentiment he expressed over the weekend that "only one thing will work" to solve the North Korea crisis.

    Trump's statement was ambiguous at the time.

    But Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, later confirmed the meaning in an interview on NBC: Trump was "clearly telegraphing" military action against North Korea.

    As of the latest media reports, movements, and statements from the US military, a strike on North Korea does not appear imminent.

    But on Thursday evening, during an impromptu dinner with senior military officials at the White House, Trump suggested the meeting may represent "the calm before the storm." He did not elaborate.

    Friday in the Oval Office, Trump was again asked about his "calm before the storm" comment, and he replied with a wink.

    "You'll find out," Trump said after his wink. "We'll see."

    Factually, Trump's Monday tweet rings true. The US has attempted to sway North Korea from building nuclear arms since 1992 and has given the country over a billion dollars in aid since then, even during tense periods.

    While the US and other parties did at times get North Korea to agree to talks and preliminary frameworks for disarmament, no agreement held.

    bill clinton kim jong il

    Sanctions and diplomacy have at best slowed the progress of North Korea's nuclear program, and today the world faces a rogue regime on the cusp of marrying a thermonuclear bomb to an intercontinental ballistic missile.

    The speed of North Korea's nuclear breakout has surprised experts and academics within and outside the US government.

    No previous US president faced such an advanced threat from North Korea, and no previous president took up such fiery rhetoric against Pyongyang as Trump now has.

    SEE ALSO: Top CIA official contradicts Trump's 'madman' rhetoric, says Kim Jong Un is a 'very rational actor'

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: North Korea exports $2.83 billion worth of goods — here's where it all goes


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    FILE PHOTO: Rohingya refugee children look on at a refugee camp in Palang Khali near Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 4, 2017. REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain/File Photo

    YANGON (Reuters) - Myanmar authorities said there was no sign of attacks by Rohingya Muslim militants on Tuesday as a one-month insurgent ceasefire came to end.

    The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) announced the ceasefire from Sept. 10 in order, they said, to facilitate aid deliveries to Rakhine State, where their attacks on the security forces on Aug. 25 triggered a ferocious government crackdown.

    The government offensive in the north of Rakhine State has sent some 520,000 Rohingya civilians fleeing to Bangladesh and has drawn international condemnation and U.N. accusations of ethnic cleansing.

    The government denies ethnic cleansing. It had rebuffed the insurgents' ceasefire, saying it did not negotiate with terrorists.

    Myanmar says more than 500 people have been killed in the violence since late August, most of them insurgents.

    Even before the government offensive, the small, lightly armed ARSA had only appeared capable of hit-and-run raids on security posts and unable to mount any sort of sustained challenge to the army.

    Authorities had been on guard over recent days and tightened security in the state capital of Sittwe as the end of the ceasefire approached, a state government spokesman said.

    "We had information that the ARSA could attack but there have been no reports," the spokesman, Min Aung, said early on Tuesday.

    The insurgents said on Saturday they were ready to respond to any peace move by the government, even though the ceasefire was ending at midnight on Monday.

    They also reiterated their demand for rights for the Rohingya, who have never been regarded as an indigenous minority in Myanmar and so have been denied citizenship under a law that links nationality to ethnicity.

    Rohingya Rakhine myanmar map

    Instead, Rohingya are seen as illegal immigrants with freedoms restricted and rights denied, and are derided by ethnic Rakhine Buddhists, and much of the wider popular in Myanmar, which has seen a surge in Buddhist nationalism in recent years.

    Thousands more Rohingya villagers have arrived in Bangladesh this week in a new surge of refugees, now also driven by fears of starvation and telling of bloody attacks by Buddhist mobs on people trekking towards the border.

    'Very real threat'

    Villagers in Rakhine said food was running out because rice in the fields was not ready for harvest and the state government had closed village markets and restricted the transport of food, apparently to cut supplies to the militants.

    "While the Myanmar military has engaged in a campaign of violence, there is mounting evidence that Rohingya women, men and children are now also fleeing the very real threat of starvation," rights group Amnesty International said.

    A Myanmar soldier stands near Maungdaw, north of Rakhine state, Myanmar September 27, 2017. REUTERS/Soe Zeya TunThe government has cited worry about food as one of he reasons people have been giving for leaving, but a senior state government official on Monday dismissed any suggestion of starvation.

    Myanmar leader and Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has faced scathing international criticism for not doing more to stop the violence, although she has no power over the security forces under a military-drafted constitution.

    The United States and European Union have been considering targeted sanctions against Myanmar military leaders, diplomats and officials have told Reuters, although they are wary of action that could destabilize the country's transition to democracy.

    EU foreign ministers will discuss Myanmar on Oct. 16, and they said in a draft joint statement the bloc "will suspend invitations to the commander-in-chief of the Myanmar/Burma armed forces and other senior military officers".

    Such a move would be largely symbolic, but could be followed by further action.

    The military campaign against the insurgents is popular inside Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, where there is little sympathy for the Rohingya.

    Suu Kyi's party, in the first attempt to improve relations between religions since the latest violence erupted, will hold inter-faith prayers on Tuesday at a stadium in the biggest city of Yangon, with the participation of Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and Christians.

    "This is for peace and stability," party spokesman Aung Shin told Reuters. "Peace in Rakhine and peace nationwide."

    The Rohingya had pinned hopes for change on Suu Kyi's party but it has been wary of upsetting Buddhist nationalists. Her party did not field a single Muslim candidate in the 2015 election that it swept.

    SEE ALSO: Myanmar's persecuted Muslim minority is fighting back with homemade weapons

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's why so many nations want to control the South China Sea — and what China wants to do


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    Iranian revolutionary guard irgc

    LONDON (Reuters) - A top aide to Iran's Supreme Leader warned the United States on Tuesday against designating the elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group, saying Tehran has "all options on table", news agency ISNA reported.

    "The Americans are supporting Daesh (Islamic State). That’s why they are angry with the Revolutionary Guards. But they are too small to be able to harm the Revolutionary Guards," Ali Akbar Velayati, the top adviser to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was quoted as saying by ISNA.

    "Whatever they do we will take reciprocal measures. We have all options on the table," he added.

    SEE ALSO: Ceasefire in Myanmar ends amid allegations of government-initiated ethnic cleansing

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    NOW WATCH: Why you won't find a garbage can near the 9/11 memorial


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    south korea military exercise

    South Korean lawmaker Lee Cheol-hee said that North Korean hackers have stolen classified military documents, including the US and South Korea's most current war plans and plans to kill Kim Jong Un, the Financial Times reports.

    Lee said that defense officials revealed to him that 235 gigabytes of data had been stolen, 80% of which has yet to be identified.

    But Lee said the theft included Operational Plan 5015, the US and South Korea's current plan for war with North Korea.

    The news follows a May announcement from South Korea's defense ministry saying its military network had been breached. 

    “This is a total failure of management and monitoring [of classified information],” Shin Jong-woo, a researcher at the Korea Defense and Security Forum told the Financial Times of the hacks.

    The US and North Korea have been engaged in a secretive cyber war for some time, with the US reportedly conducting a large-scale attack against Pyongyang in early October on the instruction of President Donald Trump.

    Since then, Russia has provided internet infrastructure support to North Korea in a move that would diversify and strengthen Pyongyang's cyber war capabilities. 

    North Korea has been found responsible for a number of high-profile attacks over the years, and is still technically at war with the US and South Korea.

    SEE ALSO: Russia just helped North Korea harden its nuclear arsenal against US cyberattacks

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    FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. on August 2, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo

    President Donald Trump's bold approach to North Korea has horrified many and raised the issue of nuclear war into everyday conversation, but the unconventional tactic may work in a roundabout way, an expert on US-China relations and North Korea says.

    Trump's fiery rhetoric and the administration's decision to make North Korea its top national security priority have "changed the momentum" on the issue, Yun Sun, a senior associate at the Stimson Center, a Washington, DC-based think tank, told Business Insider.

    In recent months, North Korea has shocked the world by demonstrating that it's most likely just a few months from developing a nuclear-equipped intercontinental ballistic missile.

    President Donald Trump has responded to North Korea with escalating rhetoric, saying in August that the US would respond to further North Korean threats with "fire and fury." Last month, he stood in front of the United Nations and threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea if necessary. He has leaned more heavily on the prospect of military action than any of his recent predecessors.

    While North Korea has yet to halt its nuclear program, Trump's rebukes of the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, and the president's open flirtation with nuclear war appear to have pushed the international community toward action.

    "If the criteria is North Korea stops its nuclear program, the data so far suggests that North Korea has not been stopped by real or rhetorical threats," Sun said.

    But if the criteria is to get China, North Korea's treaty ally and the nation responsible for 90% of its trade, to stop backing Pyongyang, Trump's threats have "worked and potentially could 'work' more," Sun said.

    "No matter how much people don't like him, he has extracted more cooperation out of China than any of his predecessors on North Korea," Sun said of Trump.

    So even though North Korea is unlikely to be frightened by Trump's sometimes obvious bluster, the intended audience for the threats may not be Kim.

    Several countries have cut or curbed ties with North Korea in recent weeks as the Trump administration has stepped up its approach toward Kim, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

    icbm intercontinental ballistic missile north korea hwasong 14 RTX39YI2

    Over the past 25 years, the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations attempted to curb North Korea's nuclear program through a mix of sanctions, diplomacy, and aid dollars to feed the sometimes starving nation.

    Despite these efforts, North Korea has continued its provocations and missile tests, culminating this year in two intercontinental-ballistic-missile launches, two missile launches over Japan, and its most powerful nuclear test yet.

    At best, previous administrations slowed North Korea's nuclear progress but failed to stop it. At the same time, Trump's threats and bluster appear to have whipped up a kind of urgency that UN sanctions and condemnations and previous administrations' diplomacy failed to do.

    SEE ALSO: 'Policy didn't work!': Trump tweets of North Korea after hinting at war

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    Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told the annual convention of the Association of the US Army on Monday that they should "be ready" with military options should diplomacy fail with North Korea.

    When asked what the US military could do to make war with North Korea less likely, Mattis didn't sugarcoat it or offer false hope.

    "There's one thing the US Army can do, and that is, you have got to be ready to ensure that we have military options that our president can employ, if needed," said Mattis.

    Mattis said the US is currently pursuing a "diplomatically led effort" that has seen the UN Security Council twice vote unanimously to sanction North Korea, but that military backing is still needed.

    "The international community has spoken, but that means the US Army must stand ready," Mattis said.

    While Mattis told the troops to stand ready, President Donald Trump tweeted that "policy didn't work" with North Korea, reiterating his assertions that diplomacy has failed time and time again under various presidents.

    But US Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley put the threat of war in perspective during a press conference on the sidelines of the US Army convention, saying there are "no risk-free options" in dealing with North Korea.

    "It would be horrible, there's no question about it," Milley said of a war with North Korea. "But so would an intercontinental ballistic missile striking Los Angeles or New York City. That would be equally horrible," Milley said, according to CNN.

    north korea rocket artillery

    "There is a timeline on this" Milley said, acknowledging that North Korea's missile threat has rapidly progressed and will likely soon progress to the point where even Washington DC is within range.

    "It's not an indefinite amount of time. And there will be decisions made, there's no question about it."

    Milley made it clear that although the military stands ready to fight even a horrific fight, it's up to the commander in chief to decide when and if they fight.

    South Korea

    Though Trump often threatens force, he has remained vague about what he'll actually do.

    On Thursday evening, during an impromptu dinner with senior military officials at the White House, Trump suggested the meeting may represent "the calm before the storm."

    SEE ALSO: Defense Secretary Mattis explains what war with North Korea would look like

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    In November, when President Donald Trump makes his first trip to East Asia since taking office, he could come within feet of armed North Koreans in the heavily guarded border between the two Koreas.

    South Korea's Yonhap News reports that the Trump administration sent an advance team around the country in September to scout possible locations for Trump's visit.

    Yonhap said Trump was expected "to send a significant message to North Korea, either verbally or 'kinetically'" during his first trip to the country.

    "Trump will likely do something like that and his aides are making the relevant preparations," Yonhap quoted a defense source as saying.

    The word "kinetically" can refer to use of military force, but in this case, it may simply mean a show of force versus actual military engagement.

    Trump has not shied away from making strong statements on North Korea in the past, but he has not gone through with any military steps that depart from orthodoxy. Only after missiles overflew Japan twice did the Trump administration reply with a flight of B-1B strategic bombers near North Korea's border, instead of the usual flight path over South Korea.

    Yonhap's source said Trump might venture as far as Panmunjom, the village on the northern end of the Demilitarized Zone, which, despite its name, is one of the more heavily mined and guarded areas on earth.

    During her time as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton toured Panmunjom, where armed North Korean guards stand constantly at the ready and where visitors have reported an incredibly tense atmosphere.

    The topic of North Korea has dominated bilateral relations between the US and South Korea since Trump took office, but Trump has also floated the idea of revisiting the two nations' free-trade agreement. That also may be a topic of conversation when Trump meets South Korea's president, Moon Jae-in, in November.

    Trump is likely to also head to China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan on his trip.

    SEE ALSO: Trump's fiery, furious threats to 'totally destroy' North Korea might just work

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    TOKYO (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, the Ronald Reagan, is conducting drills with a Japanese warship in waters around Okinawa southwest of the Korean peninsula, Japan's military said on Wednesday.

    The exercise comes amid heightened tension with North Korea as the U.S. holds air drills in the region with B1-B bombers flown from Guam.

    The exercise with the Reagan strike group, which began on Saturday, involves vessels sailing from the Bashi Channel, which separates the Philippines and Taiwan, to seas around Japan's southwest island nearer to North Korea, Japan's Maritime Self Defense Force said in a statement.

    One Japanese destroyer, the Shimkaze, is accompanying the 100,000-ton Reagan, which is based in Japan, and its escort ships, the JMSDF said.

     

    SEE ALSO: Trump expected to visit South Korea to send a 'significant' message to North Korea

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    President Donald Trump wasn't happy with the steady decrease in the US stockpile of nuclear weapons since the 1960s.

    So, over the summer, he asked instead for a tenfold increase in the US's nuclear weapons, NBC News reported on Wednesday, adding that the request startled his advisers and was followed soon after with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling him a "moron."

    Trump on Wednesday morning called the story "pure fiction, made up to demean."

    "Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a "tenfold" increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!" Trump tweeted.

    Upon seeing a briefing that charted the huge decline in the number of US nuclear weapons, NBC News said, citing three anonymous officials, Trump asked the military officials present to expand the arsenal to nearly 10 times its current size.

    It was soon after this meeting that NBC News' sources heard Tillerson call Trump a moron, sparking a news story that would eventually require Tillerson to respond in an impromptu news conference and Trump to challenge Tillerson to compare IQs.

    "I think it's fake news," Trump said of the reported "moron" quip in an interview with Forbes. "But if he did that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests."

    "And I can tell you who is going to win," Trump said.

    NBC News last week reported that Tillerson called Trump the name over the summer after a meeting about Afghanistan in which Trump compared "the decision-making process on troop levels to the renovation of a high-end New York restaurant." Hours after that report, which did not mention the nuclear discussion, Tillerson held a special press conference in which he said, among other things, that Trump "is smart."

    Arms-control experts maintain that an increase in US arms would bring about another arms race with Russia and most likely China and could spur other countries to seek nuclear capabilities.

    Additionally, they maintain that the US's arsenal is stronger and safer than ever before because of technological improvements since the 1960s, when the stockpile peaked.

    But Trump has ordered the Pentagon to review its nuclear posture, with the US reassessing its nuclear assets in light of evolving threats. The most recent nuclear-posture review came in 2010 under President Barack Obama, and it had the express goal of reducing weapons stockpiles.

    us nuclear weapons stockpile

    Preliminary reports indicate that the Trump administration is considering creating smaller, potentially "more usable" nuclear weapons.

    Trump has repeatedly expressed a desire to "greatly strengthen and expand [US] nuclear capability." The US is facing a potential trillion-dollar modernization effort to update all three legs of its nuclear triad.

    The US's main nuclear rival, Russia, has created newer and in some ways more advanced nuclear weapons and tested them recently.

    Throughout his political career, Trump toyed with the idea of allowing South Korea and Japan to build nuclear weapons, and he has flirted with possible nuclear war with North Korea.

    SEE ALSO: Mattis warned the military to 'be ready' for what Trump decides to do about North Korea

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    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Tuesday, three U.S. officials told Reuters, even as President Donald Trump's administration seeks Chinese cooperation in reining in North Korea's missile and nuclear programs.

    The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters. But it was not as provocative as previous ones carried out since Trump took office in January.

    The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Chafee, a guided-missile destroyer, carried out normal maneuvering operations that challenged "excessive maritime claims" near the Paracel Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbors.

    Speaking in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had lodged "stern representations" with the United States, and reiterated that the Paracels were Chinese territory.

    "China immediately sent naval vessels and military jets to investigate and identify, as well as warn to the vessel and ask it to leave," she told a daily news briefing on Wednesday.

    "China will continue to take resolute measures to protect Chinese sovereign territory and maritime interests. China urges the U.S. to conscientiously respect China's sovereign territory and security interests, conscientiously respect the efforts regional countries have made to protect peace and stability in the South China Sea, and stop these wrong actions."

    Next month, Trump makes his first visit to Asia as president, including a stop in China, which he has been pressuring to do more to rein in North Korea. China is North Korea's neighbor and biggest trading partner.

    Unlike in August, when a U.S. Navy destroyer came within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, officials said the destroyer on Tuesday sailed close to but not within that range of the islands.

    USS Chafee, a US Navy destroyer which operates 100 percent on biofuel, sails about 150 miles (241 km) north of the island of Oahu during the RIMPAC Naval exercises off Hawaii July 18,2012. REUTERS/Hugh Gentry

    Twelve nautical miles mark internationally recognized territorial limits. Sailing within that range is meant to show the United States does not recognize territorial claims.

    The Pentagon did not comment directly on the operation, but said the United States carried out regular freedom-of-navigation operations and would continue to do so.

    China's claims in the South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion in shipborne trade passes each year, are contested by Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

    map south china seaExperts and some U.S. officials have criticized former president Barack Obama for potentially reinforcing China's claims by sticking to innocent passage, in which a warship effectively recognized a territorial sea by crossing it speedily without stopping.

    The U.S. military has a long-standing position that its operations are carried out throughout the world, including in areas claimed by allies, and that they are separate from political considerations.

    The United States has said it would like to see more international participation in freedom-of-navigation operations in the South China Sea.

    North Korea issue

    Trump's trip to Asia will likely be dominated by the North Korean nuclear threat. He will also visit South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

    In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test, all in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and may be fast advancing toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.

    Trump's visit to China will reciprocate a trip to the United States made in April by Chinese President Xi Jinping. The U.S. president's attempts to get Chinese help with North Korea have met with limited success so far, but he has gone out of his way to thank Xi for his efforts.

    SEE ALSO: Here's why so many nations want to control the South China Sea — and what China wants to do

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    President Rodrigo Duterte speaks before members of the Australian Navy during a tour on board the the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) vessel, Her Majesty's Australian Ship (HMAS) Adelaide III upon arrival for a goodwill visit as part of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Joint Task Group Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017 at the Pier 15, south harbor in metro Manila, Philippines October 10, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

    MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's ferocious war on drugs will shift to a higher gear to target "big fish", officials said on Thursday, moving away from street level operations to go after big networks and suppliers.

    Duterte issued a directive on Tuesday ordering the police to halt activities in the anti-drug campaign and leave all operations to the drug enforcement agency, amid unprecedented scrutiny of police conduct.

    The national police chief disbanded all 18 regional anti-drugs units on Thursday and said the resources would be channeled into fighting other crimes.

    "We now target higher echelons of the syndicates, as well as their protectors in government," presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella told reporters.

    Abella said the street level distribution networks of the "drug lords" had been degraded due to successful police operations in the 15-month old campaign.

    The message will sound familiar, with similar announcements made a year ago, when the authorities launched Project Double Barrel Alpha to focus on tracking down drug producers and suppliers.

    Critics say that never happened and the crackdown has been fixed on peddlers and users in urban poor neighborhoods, which have borne the brunt of the 3,900 killings by police during anti-drugs operations.

    Police say armed suspects resisted arrest in every one of those cases and deny allegations victims were executed. Police say some 2,300 killings by unknown gunmen have also occurred, likely drug-related.

    Duterte has lashed out several times when responding to comments from experts, calling some "idiots" for contradicting his views, or for advocating strategies to target the source of the drugs, rather than consumers.

    philippines drug war victim

    The change in tack comes at a difficult time for Duterte, who though still hugely popular, saw a sharp decline in ratings according to an opinion poll released on Sunday.

    It also followed an anti-Duterte protest last month by thousands of people in Manila, and a series of surveys that point to doubts among many Filipinos about the validity of police accounts, and whether those killed were all drug dealers.

    Duterte's move follows the high-profile August killing of a 17-year-old student by police, which triggered rare public outrage. 

    FILE PHOTO: Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa gestures during a news conference at the PNP headquarters in Quezon city, Metro Manila, Philippines January 23, 2017.   REUTERS/Czar Dancel/File PhotoSmaller force

    The new order that sidelines the police and leaves the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) the sole agency for the drugs war could impact the intensity of the crackdown.

    It has only a fraction of the manpower and budget of the police. Duterte placed PDEA in charge back in January and suspended police from all anti-drugs operations, but reinstated them a few week later, arguing that drugs had returned to the streets.

    PDEA spokesman Derreck Carreon said the agency had about 2,000 personnel and funds for only 200 new agents next year.

    Its proposed budget allocation for 2018 is 2.6 billion pesos ($50.63 million) compared to 131.2 billion the police, which has 175,000 men.

    Nonetheless, PDEA was up to the task.

    "We are ready, we can do it," Carreon said.

    "We will target the source, the so-called big fish. Removing these high-value targets will also eliminate the street level distribution and disrupt the entire network."

    Carreon said he could not guarantee there would be less bloodshed.

    "We follow the procedures, we don't want an encounter but we also have to protect ourselves if drug suspects resist and fight back," he said.

    The death toll has been a source of international concern that the Philippines has not taken kindly to, with its diplomats echoing Duterte's defiant rhetoric and complaining of Western hypocrisy.

    A group of lawyers on Wednesday filed an injunction with the Supreme Court to try to stop the war on drugs, calling it as an illegal campaign that lets police kill and circumvent legal procedures.

    Some senators on Thursday said they would still scrutinize the crackdown, regardless of who leads it.

    "Changing of the guard is not enough," said Senator Risa Hontiveros. "Duterte must stop and scrap the 'Oplan Tokhang' anti-drug campaign."

    SEE ALSO: US guided-missile destroyer again checks Beijing in the South China Sea

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