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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    DMZ Tourism

    South Korean authorities arrested a 58-year-old man trying to cross the demilitarized border zone to defect into North Korea, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

    The man, who hails from Louisiana, tried to defect "for political reasons," authorities told The Post.

    Coincidentally, on the same day as the US man failed to make his political statement, a North Korean soldier was shot twice by his own military as he ran through the DMZ so he could defect into South Korea.

    South Korean forces had to crawl toward the defector who had been downed by gunfire from North Korea and drag him out of danger, according to Reuters.

    While around 1,000 North Koreans defect to South Korea each year, the authoritarian state has some allure among leftists in the US who may be deceived by propaganda from Pyongyang that depicts the country as a socialist paradise.

    SEE ALSO: North Korean soldier shot by his own military while defecting across the DMZ

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What a cyberwar with North Korea could look like, according to a cybersecurity expert

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    navy seals dive gear beach

    The two US Navy SEALs who authorities suspect killed US Army Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar in a diplomatic compound in Bamako, Mali, may face the death penalty if convicted, a legal expert told Business Insider.

    Investigators have ruled Melgar's death a homicide by strangulation, and a recent report in The Daily Beast cited five sources in the special-operations community as saying the SEALs, who have not been publicly identified, killed Melgar after he discovered they had illegally pocketed money used to pay informants.

    Lawrence Brennan, a former US Navy captain who's an expert on naval law, told Business Insider that although the Navy had not executed a sailor in more than 150 years, this case was extraordinary.

    "If the reported facts were established, the murder of Staff Sgt. Melgar would be among the most aggravating factors and could justify referral to courts-martial as capital cases," Brennan told Business Insider.

    According to the law, "the death penalty is available in cases of pre-meditated murder, as appears possible in this case," Brennan said.

    Brennan said the SEALs could stand before the military equivalent of a grand jury, where capital punishment would be on the table.

    Melgar, a 34-year-old Texan, deployed to Afghanistan twice. He was assigned to Mali with the 3rd Special Forces Group to help train locals and support counterterrorism operations.

    SEE ALSO: The US Navy just showed North Korea its worst nightmare with 3 aircraft carriers and bombers in the Pacific

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    NOW WATCH: A Navy SEAL explains what to do if you're attacked by a shark

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    Trump bomber jacket

    • North Korea is locked in a war of words with US President Donald Trump in which both sides have threatened nuclear war, and North Korean officials reportedly have been asking around to see if Trump is serious.
    • The North Koreans have asked several US diplomats, journalists, and analysts for help on interpreting Trump's statements.
    • Only Trump really knows what he's thinking about North Korea, and he contradicts himself all the time.

    North Korea has diplomats across Europe and Russia asking US diplomats for insight into the most military-oriented US president they've seen, but above all, they seem to want to know whether Donald Trump is out of his mind.

    "They want to know if he’s crazy, or if this is just an act," Suzanne DiMaggio, a foreign-policy expert who conducts dialogues with North Korean officials, told Politico.

    "They really want to know what is his endgame ... They follow the news very closely; they watch CNN 24/7; they read his tweets and other things," said DiMaggio.

    DiMaggio joins the ranks of several other US citizens questioned by North Korean officials about Trump.

    Pak Song Il, the North Korean official tasked with interpreting US politics, statements, and military posture, told the New Yorker's Evan 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.

    "Their number-one concern is Trump," an unnamed GOP analyst told Anna Fifield of The Washington Post, referring to North Korea. "They can't figure him out."

    Kim Jong Un

    It's well known that the US wants North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions, but the North Koreans don't appear to have any intention of meeting that demand. What remains unknown is at what point Trump may seek military action against the dangerous but outgunned country.

    DiMaggio lamented that the Trump administration's decision to decertify the Iran deal hurt US credibility in making deals with North Korea and that Trump's often contradictory statements confused Pyongyang to the point that it couldn't act.

    But the answers the North Koreans seek just can't be had. Only Trump speaks for himself, and his own opinions vacillate wildly. Trump contradicted his own Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's efforts to talk to North Korea, calling it a waste of time.

    After months of threats to "totally destroy" North Korea with "fire and fury," Trump tweeted on Saturday that he would never call Kim Jong Un "short and fat" and that he hopes the two can be friends some day.

    SEE ALSO: The US Navy just showed North Korea its worst nightmare with 3 aircraft carriers and bombers in the Pacific

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    NOW WATCH: Here's how easy it is for the US president to launch a nuclear weapon

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    Trump bomber jacket

    • If President Donald Trump decides to fire nuclear weapons, nobody in the military or government can stop him.
    • One of Trump's fiercest critics in the Senate will hold a hearing challenging the president's authority to use nuclear weapons.
    • While the president's unhindered access to nuclear weapons troubles many, it's not clear how the system can be improved.

    If President Donald Trump wants to fire nuclear weapons at virtually any target on earth, nobody, not the secretary of defense, not Congress, and not even the nuclear launch officer underground in a silo pressing the button would be in a position to stop him.

    But on Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing over the president's authority to order the use of nuclear weapons.

    While the hearing nominally will look at the structure of nuclear command and control that has served all presidents, it's headed by Bob Corker, one of Trump's most vocal critics among Senate Republicans.

    Corker scolded Trump just a month ago, saying "the White House has become an adult day care center." He warned that Trump's brash style of leadership could send the US "on the path to World War III."

    Trump has extensively explored the idea of preemptive war with North Korea, a rogue nuclear nation he has verbally sparred with and threatened to "totally destroy."

    "This discussion is long overdue," Corker said of the hearing on the president's authority to use nuclear weapons.

    ICBM LGM-30G Minuteman III

    Corker and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee don't stand alone in their will to see the president's nuclear powers revisited.

    Shortly after Trump's inauguration in January, Democrats in the House introduced a protest bill designed to curb Trump's ability to issue a nuclear first strike without congressional approval.

    Congressional approval is required for the use of conventional military force, but nuclear powers remain firmly under the grip of the president and have since the dawn of the nuclear era.

    While few dispute that adding congressional approval to nuclear launch procedures would add credibility and a democratic aspect to any US engagement in nuclear war, the logistics of such a system would be challenging.

    As Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, a supporter of the current system, described in late October, the system is streamlined for quick decision-making.

    An intercontinental ballistic missile could travel halfway around the globe and hit the US in less than a half hour.

    The US would surely recognize a launch quickly because of its satellites and radar systems, but the president wouldn't have more than 10 or so minutes to respond.

    It's hard to imagine congressional approval going through in such a small window of time. Additionally, if the president received information that, say, an attack by North Korea against South Korea were imminent, a decision whether to act on that intelligence would need to follow shortly.

    Some argue that the military should have the capacity to deny the president's order, but that would erode the civilian control of the country. Also, in fraught times like the Cuban missile crisis, the military wanted to use nuclear weapons, and the president did not.

    kim jong un

    In situations that call for a quick decision on the use of nuclear force, it's unclear how Congress could fit in.

    "The fact is that no president, Republican or Democrat, has ever forsworn the first-strike capability," Trump's secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in October. "That has served us for 70 years."

    Nuclear force has been used twice, both times by the US on Japan near the close of World War II.

    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will interview retired US Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler; Peter D. Feaver, a professor of political science at Duke University; and Brian McKeon, who formerly acted as the undersecretary for policy at the Pentagon.

    SEE ALSO: Mattis explains how the US would respond if North Korea launched a nuclear missile at America

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    NOW WATCH: What El Chapo is really like — according to the wife of one his closest henchman

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    Donald Trump

    • President Donald Trump skipped the last few engagements of his Asia trip and left Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to sit in a meeting in his stead.
    • Trump boasted about hundreds of billions in trade deals his trip would bring the US, though that number is subject to change.
    • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is still in the Philippines pushing human rights.

    MANILA, Philippines — US President Donald Trump skipped the plenary session of a summit of East and Southeast Asian leaders in Manila on Tuesday because of scheduling delays, but he said his marathon trip to the region had been a success.

    Trump left for home from the Philippines after a lunch with the other leaders, as meetings were running about two hours behind schedule.

    He told reporters on Air Force One that he had delivered his prepared remarks during the lunch instead of the summit meeting. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson would attend the plenary session in his place, a senior White House official said.

    Trump said his trip had resulted in at least $300 billion, possibly triple that figure, of deals being agreed. He did not elaborate.

    "We've explained that the United States is open for trade but we want reciprocal, we want fair trade for the United States," he said.

    Trade and concern about possible protectionism under Trump's "America First" agenda have come up during his visit to the region, which included stops in Japan, South Korea, China, and Vietnam before concluding in the Philippines.

    Earlier in the day, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau raised the plight of Rohingya refugees and extrajudicial killings in the Philippines at the summit, sensitive human-rights issues skirted by almost all the others.

    There was no pressure from Trump over the Philippines' bloody war on drugs during a meeting on Monday with President Rodrigo Duterte on the sidelines of the summit.

    A joint statement after the meeting said the two sides "underscored that human rights and the dignity of human life are essential, and agreed to continue mainstreaming the human-rights agenda in their national programs."

    Trudeau, however, said that during his conversation with Duterte he "mentioned human rights, rule of law, and specifically extrajudicial killings as being an issue that Canada is concerned with."

    "The president was receptive to my comments and it was throughout a very cordial and positive exchange," Trudeau told a news conference.

    More than 3,900 pushers and users have been killed in the war on drugs that Duterte declared when he took office last year. His government says the police act in self-defense, but critics say executions are taking place with no accountability.

    Duterte cursed Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, last year for raising concerns about the war on drugs, and he subsequently declared that he was breaking with the US, a close ally of the Philippines since World War II. Trump, by contrast, on Monday said he had a "great relationship" with Duterte.

    Rohingya crisis

    A Rohingya Muslim woman holds a baby as they wait to cross the border to go to Bangladesh, in a temporary camp outside Maungdaw, northern Rakhine state, Myanmar November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Wa Lone

    Trudeau said he also met Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi and raised the plight of Rohingya refugees, though he did not mention the Muslim minority by name.

    "This is a tremendous concern to Canada and to many, many countries around the world," he said.

    The government in mostly Buddhist Myanmar regards the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and does not recognize the term.

    More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to refugee camps in Bangladesh since military clearance operations were launched in response to attacks by Rohingya militants on August 25.

    The plight of the Rohingya has brought outrage from around the world, and there have been calls for democracy champion Suu Kyi to be stripped of the Nobel Peace Prize she won in 1991 because she has not condemned the military's actions.

    Some countries in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, particularly majority-Muslim Malaysia, have voiced strong concern over the issue recently.

    But in keeping with Asean's principle of noninterference in one another's internal affairs, it appeared to have been put aside at the summit, which brought Southeast Asian nations together with the US, Japan, China, India, Australia, and Canada.

    SEE ALSO: Trump makes friends by putting America first and ignoring human rights in Asia

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 'You are the light': Watch controversial Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte serenade Trump with a love song

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    • The US reportedly knew about a deal to evacuate thousands of ISIS members out of the terrorist group's capital of Raqqa, Syria before US allies stormed the town.
    • The ISIS fighters are now on the loose, and some have vowed to return to France for a "day of reckoning."
    • But ISIS is on the run and mostly defeated, and when a US jet passed overhead to observe them, it badly scared the terror group.

    A deal between US-backed Kurdish and Arab forces in Syria and ISIS sent thousands of fighters and families belonging to the terror group on a convoy out of harm's way and deeper into the so-called caliphate where the fighters can regroup or smuggle themselves into other countries.

    A group of truckers in Syria reportedly got called out to Raqqa, ISIS's former Syrian capital, for what they thought would be a small job moving a few hundred people around. But it ended up as ISIS's mass exodus from its former stronghold, according to a BBC investigation.

    The truckers met around 4,000 ISIS fighters and their families armed to the teeth and strapped with explosives. The terrorist group boarded the convoy of trucks, along with their own vehicles, and reportedly beat and threatened the drivers for the duration of the trip. The ISIS fighters brought so many weapons and so much ammunition, the weight broke a trucker's axel, according to the BBC.

    Why the US and its allies let ISIS escape

    The US not only knew about the deal — they reportedly kept a close watch on the the convoy as it drove through the desert towards Iraq's border.

    "When the last of the convoy were about to cross, a US jet flew very low and deployed flares to light up the area. IS fighters s--- their pants," one of the drivers told the BBC.

    Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting ISIS, explained to the BBC why the US knowingly accepted the deal.

    "We didn't want anyone to leave," Dillon said. "But this goes to the heart of our strategy, 'by, with and through' local leaders on the ground. It comes down to Syrians – they are the ones fighting and dying, they get to make the decisions regarding operations."

    The US-led coalition has met criticism over its airstrikes killing civilians, but ISIS tactics include hiding among civilian populations and using them as human shields. The massive human cost of continuing the bombing campaign on Raqqa may have swayed the decision makers to allow so many ISIS fighters to leave with their weapons.

    The escaped fighters now pose a threat to the outside world

    The Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish and Arab alliance that has fought ISIS for years, allowed ISIS to leave Raqqa to salvage what was left of the city.

    But in doing so, they may have allowed thousands of terrorists to smuggle themselves across borders and launch terror attacks in support of ISIS.

    ISIS territory

    Some of the fighters stayed in Syria, while others have been caught trying to cross the border into Turkey, according to the BBC. Members of an almost exclusively French group within ISIS numbered among the terrorists who got away, and now they pose a threat to Europe.

    "There are some French brothers from our group who left for France to carry out attacks in what would be called a 'day of reckoning,'" a young ISIS fighter from France told the BBC.

    The retreating ISIS fighters reportedly threatened the drivers and the others they met, saying that they would return and bring with them Sharia law. But ISIS today is a far cry from its heyday, and members of the group that was once bent on martyrdom have now begun to surrender en masse.

    Read the full report at the BBC here.

    SEE ALSO: The US's most secretive intelligence agency was embarrassingly robbed and mocked by hackers

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's how easy it is for the US president to launch a nuclear weapon

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    aircraft carriers bomber north korea pacific

    • The US Navy had three aircraft carriers drilling near North Korea and the South China Sea while President Donald Trump toured Asia.
    • The Navy's vice admiral in charge of naval aviation said the exercise was so big it hurt the entire force's readiness and could continue to cost for a long time.
    • Trump recently described the military as getting stronger, but it's still recovering from low funding levels since the government shutdown in 2011.

    The US Navy recently put on a once-in-a-decade show of force, with three US aircraft carriers operating side by side in the Pacific Ocean just a few hundred miles from North Korea — but it cost them in a way that might hurt the force's future.

    The exercise added emphasis to President Donald Trump's trip to Asia, where he spoke to heads of state about the need to crack down on North Korea and to enforce international law in the South China Sea, but according to Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, the commander of Naval Air Forces, it wasn't cheap.

    The cost of showing force

    "To get Carl Vinson, Nimitz and Theodore Roosevelt [the three carriers used] ready to deploy in January, June and October of this year, and equip their embarked air wings with the required number of mission-capable jets, 94 strike fighters had to be transferred to and from the maintenance depots or between F-18 squadrons on both coasts," Shoemaker told the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday, as the Washington Examiner notes.  

    "This included pulling aircraft from the fleet replacement squadrons, where our focus should be on training new aviators," Shoemaker added.

    The massive reshuffling of jets leaves non-deployed squadrons without planes to practice on, which will have "detrimental impacts to both retention and future experience levels" of those pilots, according to Shoemaker.

    F/18 Hornet Boneyard

    Overall, Shoemaker came off extremely negative on the exercise, which he says caused "several hundred" parts to be "cannibalized," or taken from other jets to fix the F-18s going on the carriers. The task decimated the "readiness of squadrons" and added "significantly and unnecessarily to the workload of our maintainers," according to Shoemaker.

    In total, Shoemaker reported that 300 sailors had to be reassigned to complete the task, and he expects it to affect the Navy's ability to retain talent. 

    The military is hurting, and Trump might not get it

    trump military bomber japan

    In September, Shoemaker said in a Navy release that naval planes for intelligence gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance had decreased by 81 while the demands on the remaining aircraft only grew. The military's readiness has suffered across the board since the sequestration took hold in 2011, freezing the military's funding while demands on all services only grew.

    Though the US's budget includes more money for naval readiness, it seems that the rebuilt, revitalized military often spoken of by Trump has yet to materialize, although the demand for it has grown.

    In an interview earlier this month, Trump described the military as "getting stronger" due to increased funding.

    "It's been depleted and now it's growing very fast," Trump said.

    But now it seems that whatever short-term gain could have been had in making a point to North Korea or China had an ill effect on naval readiness on the whole.

    SEE ALSO: The Senate will challenge Trump's ability to use nuclear weapons whenever he wants

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    NOW WATCH: How the US's futuristic new aircraft carrier will change naval warfare forever

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    Kim Jong Un

    • China will dispatch a top-level diplomat to North Korea following US President Donald Trump's visit to Beijing last week.
    • China just had its National Congress, the closest thing the Communist Party has to elections.
    • China usually informs other communist countries, like North Korea, of the results of the congress, so it's unclear whether North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs will be discussed.

    BEIJING — A senior Chinese diplomat will visit North Korea on Friday as a special envoy of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing said, though it did not say the envoy was planning to discuss North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

    China has repeatedly pushed for a diplomatic solution to the crisis but in recent months has had only limited high-level exchanges with North Korea. The last time China's special envoy for North Korea visited the country was in February 2016.

    In a brief dispatch, China's Xinhua news agency said Song Tao, who heads the ruling Communist Party's external-affairs department, would leave for North Korea on Friday.

    He will "inform the DPRK of the 19th CPC National Congress and visit the DPRK," Xinhua said on Wednesday, using an acronym for the North's official name and referring to China's recently concluded Communist Party congress at which Xi further cemented his power.

    North Korea's KCNA news agency confirmed the visit but said only that it would take place "soon."

    Xi Jinping congress china

    US President Donald Trump visited Beijing last week as part of a lengthy Asia tour, during which he pressed for greater action to rein in North Korea — especially from China, with which North Korea does 90% of its trade.

    It is not clear how long Song could stay, but he has already visited Vietnam and Laos to inform them of the results of the congress, a courtesy China typically extends to other communist countries after such meetings.

    It is also unclear whether Song will meet North Korea's leader, Kim Jong Un.

    Song's "main objective" in going to North Korea is to "report on the 19th party congress," Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, told a daily news briefing, adding that it was routine for China and other socialist countries to have such exchanges after important party meetings.

    The two countries would also "exchange opinions on matters of mutual concern" during the visit, Geng said.

    He reiterated that China was committed to resolving the Korean nuclear issue peacefully through consultation.

    Kim and Xi exchanged messages of congratulations and thanks over the congress, but neither leader has visited the other's country since assuming power.

    xi jinping

    Song's department is in charge of the party's relations with foreign political parties, and it has traditionally served as a conduit for Chinese diplomacy with North Korea.

    A department official said last month that China's Communist Party continued to hold talks and maintain contacts with its North Korean counterpart, describing the two countries' friendship as important for regional stability.

    China's new special envoy for North Korea, Kong Xuanyou, is not believed to have visited the country since assuming the job in August.

    SEE ALSO: UCLA basketball players will be sent home from China after Trump's intervention

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    NOW WATCH: What a cyberwar with North Korea could look like, according to a cybersecurity expert

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    Lebanon Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri Sign

    BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese President Michel Aoun said on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia had detained Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, the first time he had said so publicly, and called it an act of aggression against Lebanon.

    "Nothing justifies Hariri's lack of return for 12 days. We therefore consider him detained. This is a violation of the Vienna agreements and human rights law," Aoun said at a meeting with Lebanese journalists and media executives that was reported widely in the country.

    Hariri resigned as Lebanon's prime minister on Nov. 4 in a video broadcast from Saudi Arabia and has yet to return to Lebanon. Aoun has said he will not accept the resignation until Hariri returns to Lebanon and submits it in person.

    "We cannot wait longer and lose time. Affairs of state cannot be stopped," Aoun also said on Twitter.

    Aoun had said on Sunday that Hariri's freedom was being restricted in Riyadh, casting doubt over anything that Hariri says. Aoun's comments on Wednesday went further, saying for the first time that Hariri was being held.

    Saudi Arabia denies holding Hariri against his will or putting pressure on him to resign. In his first public comments since his resignation, an interview given on Sunday to a television station he owns, Hariri said he was free to travel and planned to return to Lebanon within days.

    SEE ALSO: Thousands of ISIS members were secretly allowed to leave Raqqa with weapons and ammo — and the US knew about it

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    NOW WATCH: Here's how to figure out exactly how your take-home pay could change under Trump's new tax plan

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    Moon Jae In

    SEOUL – South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Tuesday it would not be easy for reclusive North Korea to destroy its nuclear arsenal quickly, even if wanted to, given its weapons programs were so developed.

    North Korea is under heavy international pressure to end its weapons programs, pursued in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions. But it has vowed never to give up its nuclear arsenal.

    Speaking to reporters in the Philippines, Moon said that if North Korea agreed to hold talks, negotiations could be held with all options open.

    “If talks begin to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue, I feel it will be realistically difficult for North Korea to completely destroy its nuclear capabilities when their nuclear and missile arsenal are at a developed stage,” Moon said in a briefing. “If so, North Korea’s nuclear program should be suspended, and negotiations could go on to pursue complete denuclearization.”

    Moon’s remarks were made available by the presidential Blue House.

    Last week, the North said it did not oppose dialogue, but would “never put the issue related to the supreme interests of the DPRK and security of its people on the bargaining table.”

    “We are not interested in such dialogue and negotiations in the least,” the North’s official news agency said, referring to the country by its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    The North defends the programs as a necessary defence against U.S. plans to invade. The United States, which has 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war, denies any such intention.

    Kim Jong-un North Korea nuclear bomb

    U.S. President Donald Trump has traded insults and threats with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as North Korea races toward its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States.

    Trump threatened in his maiden U.N. address to “totally destroy” North Korea if the United States was threatened and has said the time for talking, the policy of previous U.S. administrations, is over.

    Moon reiterated his stance that now was the time to increase pressure on North Korea so that it would come to talks.

    He said differences in understanding between South Korea and China, North Korea’s lone major ally, regarding the deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system on South Koran soil had not been resolved.

    “China has not said it has changed its stance to agree to THAAD and still says THAAD infringes on its security. We have, in turn, explained THAAD is not aimed at China but only toward curbing North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations,” he said.

    Last month, South Korea and China agreed to end a year-long standoff over THAAD which had seen South Korean companies doing business in China suffer from retaliation against the system’s deployment.

    SEE ALSO: Trump is 'sentenced to death' for insulting Kim Jong Un, say North Korean media

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    • North Korean soldiers shot 40 rounds at a comrade fleeing into South Korea, hitting him five times.
    • The defector was rescued by South Koreans, who are treating him in a hospital.
    • About 30,000 North Koreans have fled the country since the Korean War ended in 1953.

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Four North Korean soldiers fired about 40 rounds at a comrade fleeing into South Korea and hit him five times in the first shooting at the jointly controlled area of the heavily fortified border in more than 30 years, the South's military said Tuesday.

    South Korean soldiers did not fire their weapons, but Monday's incident occurred at a time of high animosity over North Korea's nuclear program. The North has expressed intense anger over past high-profile defections.

    The soldier is being treated at a South Korean hospital after a five-hour operation for the gunshot wounds he suffered during his escape across the Joint Security Area. His personal details and motive for defection are unknown and his exact medical condition is unclear.

    South Korea's military said he suffered injuries in his internal organs but wasn't in a life-threatening condition. But the Ajou University Medical Center near Seoul said the soldier was relying on a breathing machine after the surgery removed the bullets. Lee Guk-jong, a doctor who leads Ajou's medical team for the soldier, described his patient's condition as "very dangerous" and said the next 10 days might determine whether he recovers.

    On Monday, he first drove a military jeep but left the vehicle when one of its wheels fell into a ditch. He then fled across the JSA, with fellow soldiers chasing and firing at him, South Korea's military said, citing unspecified surveillance systems installed in the area.

    Suh Wook, chief director of operations for the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers that North Korea fired a total of about 40 rounds in a shooting that his office suggested started while the soldier was in the jeep.

    The solider was found beneath a pile of leaves on the southern side of the JSA and South Korean troops crawled there to recover him. A U.N. Command helicopter later transported him to the Ajou medical center, according to South Korean officials.

    The North's official media haven't reported the case as of Tuesday afternoon. They have previously accused South Korea of kidnapping or enticing North Koreans to defect. About 30,000 North Koreans have fled to South Korea, mostly via China, since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

    The JSA is jointly overseen by the American-led U.N. Command and by North Korea, with South Korean and North Korean border guards facing each other only meters (feet) apart. It is located inside the 4-kilometer-wide (2 1/2-mile-wide) Demilitarized Zone, which forms the de facto border between the Koreas since the Korean War. While both sides of the DMZ are guarded by barbed wire fences, mines and tank traps, the JSA includes the truce village of Panmunjom which provides the site for rare talks and draws curious tourists.


    Monday's incident was the first shooting at the Joint Security Area since North Korean and U.N. Command soldiers traded gunfire when a Soviet citizen defected by sprinting to the South Korean sector of the JSA in 1984. A North Korean soldier defected there in 1998 and another in 2007 but neither of those events involved gunfire between the rivals, according to South Korea's military.

    The 1984 exchange of gunfire happened after North Korean soldiers crossed the border and fired, according to the U.N. Command. In Monday's incident, it wasn't known if the North continued firing after the defector was officially in the southern part of the Joint Security Area. The U.N. Command said Tuesday that an investigation into the incident was underway.

    The Joint Security Area was the site of some bloodshed during the Cold War but there hasn't been major violence there in recent years. In 1976, North Korean soldiers axed two American army officers to death and the United States responded by flying nuclear-capable B-52 bombers toward the DMZ in an attempt to intimidate the North.

    SEE ALSO: American man detained at the border after trying to defect to North Korea

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    NOW WATCH: This animation shows how terrifyingly powerful nuclear weapons have become

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    DMZ Tourism

    • The US citizen caught trying to defect to North Korea on Tuesday will be deported, and had made the trip to try to help along negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.
    • On the same day, a North Korean soldier was shot five times while trying to defect to the South.

    The 58 year-old US citizen who attempted to cross the demilitarized border zone between North and South Korea into the communist dictatorship had political motivations and wanted to help Pyongyang and Washington negotiate.

    The man, who has not yet been named, has been detained by the South Korean government and now will be deported, according to NK News.

    The man crossed  "with the judgment that he could contribute to the situation in the North," Suh Wook, Chief Director of Operations at the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, told NK News.

    The man apparently thought he could help along the peace process between the US and North Korea, two nations still technically at war, authorities told NK News.

    The man had planned his defection on the internet and intended to simply walk across the ceasefire line, which is illegal under South Korean law. Most who enter or exit North Korea choose to do so through the country's border with China, rather than crossing one of the most heavily guarded and militarized zones on Earth.

    On Tuesday, the same day the US man attempted his crossing, a North Korean soldier defected to the South while fleeing from a hail of gunfire and being shot five times. The North Korean is being treated for his injuries in South Korea.

    SEE ALSO: China will send a high-level diplomatic envoy to North Korea

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    • Donald Trump on Wednesday said China backed him on North Korea.
    • But the next day China contradicted him.
    • Even South Korea has expressed doubts about Trump's goal in dealing with North Korea.

    After a 12-day trip to Asia in which President Donald Trump stressed his friendship and mutual understanding with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Beijing appears to have crossed Trump on a key issue: North Korea.

    At every turn during his trip, Trump insisted that the US's goal was North Korea's denuclearization. He stressed the "grave threat" he said the rogue nuclear nation posed to millions in the region and around the world.

    But China seems to have rejected the idea of denuclearization and instead wants the US to settle for a freeze in North Korea's nuclear program in exchange for a freeze in the US's military drills with South Korea.

    On Wednesday, Trump said he and Xi "agreed that we would not accept a so-called freeze-for-freeze agreement like those that have consistently failed in the past."

    On Thursday, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuang, said a dual suspension, the Chinese's preferred term for the "freeze-for-freeze" deal, was the "most feasible, fair, and sensible plan in the present situation."

    The difference of opinion has gone on for years, with China repeatedly suggesting the dual freeze and the US routinely rejecting it.

    Back in March, when China made the same suggestion, Mark Toner, then the acting spokesman for the State Department, explained the US's objection.

    Toner said comparing the US's transparent, planned, defensive, 40-year-old military drills with North Korea's illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles was a case of "apples to oranges."

    The return to the old stalemate between China and the US undercuts the progress Trump hailed after returning from his Asia trip.

    But even beyond the stalemate, South Korea, the US's staunch ally, also expressed doubts about the practicality of denuclearization.

    "If talks begin to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue, I feel it will be realistically difficult for North Korea to completely destroy its nuclear capabilities when their nuclear and missile arsenal are at a developed stage," South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a briefing Tuesday.

    "If so, North Korea's nuclear program should be suspended, and negotiations could go on to pursue complete denuclearization," Moon said.

    Both China and South Korea appear more willing to meet North Korea in the middle, as Pyongyang, using the abbreviation for the country's official name, has sworn it will "never put the issue related to the supreme interests of the DPRK [nuclear weapons] and security of its people on the bargaining table."

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    • President Donald Trump tweeted that China is sending a delegation to North Korea and that it's a "big move."
    • But China's foreign ministry says the meeting is routine and just to inform a fellow communist country of the results of China's National Party Congress.

    President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday morning about a top Chinese diplomat traveling to North Korea and teased that it was a "big move," but according to China's foreign ministry the trip is routine.

    "China is sending an Envoy and Delegation to North Korea - A big move, we'll see what happens!" Trump tweeted.

    Chinese President Xi Jinping dispatched Song Tao, head of the Communist Party's external-affairs department, to Pyongyang but his mission is to "inform the DPRK of the 19th CPC National Congress and visit the DPRK," Chinese state-run media said, referring to North Korea by its formal name. 

    Song's "main objective" in the trip is to "report on the 19th party congress," Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry, said in a daily news briefing, as Reuters notes.

    China routinely sends diplomats to fellow communist countries to report on the news from its National Party Congress, the twice-a-decade highest summit of China's ruling party that comes as close as China gets to an election.

    But that doesn't rule out discussion of security or nuclear issues, which may well happen when Song visits Pyongyang.

    However, Trump and Xi have not exactly been on the same page since Trump's visit to Beijing. China's foreign ministry on Thursday undercut a statement from Trump on Wednesday, in which he said that China and the US agreed on an approach for dealing with North Korea.

    China is North Korea's biggest trading partner and treaty ally, and has cooperated with the US and the UN Security Council on sanctioning and punishing Pyongyang after its recent strides toward nuclear weapons capability, but ultimately it seeks to preserve the rogue nation's sovereignty as a safeguard against growing US influence.

    SEE ALSO: China appears to have crossed Trump on North Korea

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    North Korea Soldier Panmunjom DMZ

    • The North Korean defector who was shot five times while running across the border to South Korea has been found riddled with parasites, one of which has never before been seen in the country.
    • North Korean defectors often come over to South Korea with parasites, once with more than 30 types of ringworm in a single defector.

    South Korean surgeons operating on a North Korean defector who ran across the demilitarized border zone between the two countries under a hail of gunfire have found a previously unknown parasite in the man's stomach.

    The defector, who was shot five times, remains in critical condition after two rounds and hours of surgery, according to Korea Biomedical Review.

    "We are struggling with treatment as we found a large number of parasites in the soldier's stomach, invading and eating into the wounded areas," Lee Guk-jong, the physician who treated him told the Review.

    "We have also discovered a parasite never seen in Koreans before. It is making the situation worse and causing tremendous complications," Lee said.

    It's unclear if the parasite has been seen in other parts of the world.

    According to the Review, North Korean defectors often come to South Korea riddled with parasites, with one patient having more than 30 types of roundworms living in her body. Lee said the problem is common in defectors he treats, but may not represent the North Korean population as a whole.

    But the case of the defector stands above the others.

    The defector's small intestine is ruptured, contaminated with fecal matter, and infected with parasites, Lee told the Review.

    "He has everything that he could have," Lee said. "It is very likely that the prognosis will be worse than other general trauma patients as he has been in a state of shock induced by heavy bleeding and we expect to deal with many complications."

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    North Korean soldiers patrol at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, South Korea, August 11, 2015.  REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

    • North Korea may have violated the armistice with the US and South Korea by firing an AK-47 assault rifle in the DMZ.
    • South Korea contends North Korea broke the armistice, but has little recourse.
    • North Korea has killed countless South Koreans since the armistice went into effect in 1953, and there's not much that can be done about it.

    The Korean war of the early 1950s did not end with a peace treaty, but an armistice, and now North Korea has reportedly violated it by firing AK-47 assault rifles in the demilitarized border zone separating the country from South Korea.

    North Korean soldiers opened fire spraying 40 or so bullets at one of their own as he ran across the border into South Korea. The defector sustained five bullet wounds and remains in critical condition.

    At least one of the soldiers opened fire with an AK-47, a violation of the armistice, South Korean military sources told Korea JoonAng Daily.

    "This is a violation of the armistice agreement," a South Korean military official said. "We plan to lodge a serious protest against North Korea through the United Nations Command Military Armistice Commission [UNCMAC]."

    UNCMAC supervises the armistice agreement, but has no power to enforce violations. North Korea does not recognize the body, and has gotten away with countless provocations during the armistice that's lasted over six decades.

    South Korean soldiers did not fire back at the North Koreans. The UNCMAC intended to make public a video of the border crossing, but changed its mind on Thursday, not wanting to cause unnecessary speculation on what happened, according to Yonhap News.

    SEE ALSO: China appears to have crossed Trump on North Korea

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    BEIJING (AP) — China dispatched its highest-level envoy to North Korea in two years on Friday in a bid to improve chilly relations after President Donald Trump last week urged Beijing to pressure Pyongyang to cease its nuclear weapons program.

    Song Tao will report on the outcomes of China's ruling Communist Party congress held last month and visit counterparts in his role as President Xi Jinping's special envoy, according to Chinese state media. China has given no other details about his itinerary or said whether he'll meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

    The visit could be seen as a "starting point to explore new China-North Korea relations," said Lim Eul Chul, a North Korea expert at South Korea's Kyungnam University.

    Xi wants to take the initiative on the North Korean nuclear issue to head off further pressure from Washington, Lim said.

    "For Xi, the resolution of the North Korean issue is directly related to relations with the United States. He would continuously get pressed by the United States and be placed on the defensive unless he settles the North Korean problem," he said.

    Song heads the Communist Party's International Department and holds the rank of minister.

    China's relations with North Korea have deteriorated under Kim, who has ignored Beijing's calls to end nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests and return to disarmament talks.

    Xi Jinping congress china

    Expectations for Song's visit are mixed. In announcing it, China made no mention of Trump's visit to Beijing or the North's weapons programs. Song is not directly connected to China's efforts to convince Pyongyang to return to denuclearization talks, seemingly reducing the chances for a breakthrough in that highly contentious area.

    The visit comes as Joseph Yun, the U.S. envoy to North Korea, met Friday with his South Korean counterpart Lee Do-hoon on the resort island of Jeju in South Korea to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

    "China, of course, has a big role to play on Northeast Asia security issues," Yun was quoted by South Korea's Yonhap news agency as saying, adding he hoped China "regards the denuclearization as a critical goal. We do hope that special envoy will forward that goal."

    North Korea staged its sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3, detonating what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb, and last launched a ballistic missile on Sept. 15, firing it over the Japanese island of Hokkaido into the Pacific Ocean.

    Song is expected to relay China's hopes for the North to stop conducting nuclear and missile tests in return for incentives and to assess whether the North has any intention of returning to disarmament talks, said Cheong Seong-Chang, an analyst at South Korea's Sejong Institute.

    North Korea, for its part, would "find it difficult to reject China's envoy dispatch because it faces a very serious international isolation ... and wants to know what position China has and if there are any ways to ease international sanctions," Cheong said.

    Song's visit to Pyongyang also comes as China and South Korea are repairing their relations that soured over China's objection to Seoul's deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system. South Korean President Moon Jae-in is scheduled to visit China next month for talks with Xi.

    A U.S. military vehicle which is a part of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system arrives in Seongju, South Korea, April 26, 2017. Kim Jun-beom/Yonhap via REUTERS

    Song will be the first ministerial-level Chinese official to visit North Korea since October 2015, when Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan met with Kim. Liu delivered a letter to Kim from Xi expressing hopes for a strong relationship, although the respite in frosty ties proved short-lived. Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin visited Pyongyang in October last year.

    The two ruling parties have long-standing ties that often supersede formal diplomacy, even while Beijing has long been frustrated with Pyongyang's provocations and unwillingness to reform its economy.

    China is also North Korea's largest trading partner and chief source of food and fuel aid, although it says its influence with Kim's regime is often exaggerated by the U.S. and others.

    While it is enforcing harsh new U.N. sanctions targeting the North's sources of foreign currency, Beijing has called for steps to renew dialogue. Beijing is opposed to measures that could bring down Kim's regime and lead to a refugee crisis along its border.

    SEE ALSO: China appears to have crossed Trump on North Korea

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    • The US wants to talk to North Korea but is getting back "no signal."
    • Without hearing from North Korea, all the wold can do is jack up pressure on them with sanctions and military buildups.

    kim jong unSEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea and the United States agreed on Friday to keep working for a peaceful end to the North Korean nuclear crisis, but a U.S. envoy said it was difficult to gauge the reclusive North's intentions as there has been "no signal".

    North Korea is under heavy international pressure to end its nuclear and missile programs, pursued in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, but has vowed never to give up its nuclear arsenal which it says it needs to counter perceived U.S. aggression.

    Lee Do-hoon, South Korea's special representative for Korean peace and security affairs, and his U.S. counterpart, Joseph Yun, met on the southern resort island of Jeju, following a summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and U.S. President Donald Trump in Seoul last week.

    "There is no doubt that both of the presidents want to find a peaceful way in regard to North Korea's nuclear issue," Yun told reporters, according to Yonhap news agency.

    "So we discussed them and we agreed the pressure campaign has to be a central element."

    Trump has said the time for talk is over but he took a softer tone on his trip to Seoul.

    North Korea's last missile test was on Sept. 15 but Lee and Yun did not seem to put much emphasis on the lull, Yonhap said, as they were unable to gauge its intentions.

    "I hope that they will stop forever. But we had no communication from them so I don't know whether to interpret it positively or not. We have no signal from them," Yun said.

    Lee drew significance from the fact that China, the North's lone major ally, had sent a special envoy to Pyongyang, saying that South Korea was closely watching what would come out of the visit. The envoy arrived on Friday.

    Trump has traded insults and threats with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as North Korea races toward its much publicized goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of reaching the United States.

    The United States stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean war. It denies North Korea's persistent accusation that it is planning to invade.

    SEE ALSO: Surgeons find parasite unlike any they've seen in body of defector shot 5 times while escaping North Korea

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    Former Navy SEAL Clint Emerson, author of "100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative's Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation," explains what to do if you're ever attacked by a dog.

    Produced by Eames Yates

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This video was originally published on February 18, 2017.

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    A flag is pictured outside the Permanent Mission of North Korea in Geneva, Switzerland, November 17, 2017. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

    SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's spy agency said on Monday it is possible North Korea can develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland this year and that it is monitoring developments closely.

    No sign of an imminent nuclear test had been detected, though the North's Punggye-ri complex appears ready for another detonation "at any time", the agency told lawmakers.

    North Korea, pursuing nuclear and missile programs in defiance of world condemnation, is also enforcing stronger controls on outside information in the face of international sanctions, the lawmakers said after a closed-door briefing.

    (Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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