Articles on this Page
- 11/29/17--01:48: _North Korea's missi...
- 11/29/17--02:39: _South Korea and Jap...
- 11/29/17--03:06: _Pope calls for peac...
- 11/29/17--07:32: _North Korea's nukes...
- 11/29/17--07:52: _Trump says he spoke...
- 11/29/17--11:44: _North Korea might h...
- 11/30/17--02:20: _Images of North Kor...
- 11/30/17--02:56: _Russia is reportedl...
- 11/30/17--03:01: _Russian Prime Minis...
- 11/30/17--03:15: _US-led coalition ag...
- 11/30/17--09:04: _North Korea has alr...
- 11/30/17--14:47: _Saudi Arabia has sh...
- 12/01/17--01:15: _Japan sentences US ...
- 12/01/17--04:39: _South Korea says No...
- 12/01/17--10:33: _China snaps at the ...
- 12/04/17--02:19: _Saudi warplanes unl...
- 12/04/17--02:45: _Senator Lyndsay Gra...
- 12/04/17--07:01: _US missile defenses...
- 12/05/17--00:46: _Syria says it shot ...
- 12/05/17--06:05: _North Korea should ...
- North Korea's latest missile test sends two big messages: The White House is in striking range in case of war, and Kim Jong Un does not want talks with the US.
- North Korea previously said it wanted to perfect its offensive nuclear capabilities before talking peace with the US.
- The threat of a nuclear strike on the White House may deter the US from attacking North Korea.
- South Korea and Japan's leaders both agreed up the intensity of their response to North Korea.
- It came after another missile launch, which landed near Japan, on Tuesday night.
- There isn't much more Japan and South Korea can do to stop North Korea, but they agreed to press China on helping.
- But Japan and South Korea may unite and mend cultural fences to better oppose North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
- Pope Francis called on Myanmar to embrace peace during accusations of the military ethnically cleansing the country of Rohingya Muslims.
- An estimated 625,000 Rohingya Muslims fled the mostly Buddhist country in the past few months.
- The Pope would not say the name "Rohingya" for fear that the military would also lash out at the Christian minority in Myanmar.
- President Donald Trump tweeted that he spoke to China's president and will handle the North Korea situation in light of Pyongyang's ICBM test on Tuesday.
- Trump usually leans on China to help with North Korea, but so far nothing has stopped Pyongyang.
- To handle North Korea fully, sanctions have proven an ineffective tool. Trump pairs the sanctions with military buildups.
- On Tuesday, North Korea fired a missile that went higher and longer than any it had previously shot, but the regime did not release pictures.
- North Korea claims it used a new type of missile that nobody has ever seen.
- But the Hermit Kingdom may have just fired its old intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) without any payload in it to make it fly further.
- Imagery analysis of North Korea's latest missile launch reveals a bigger, better rocket that's been domestically built.
- The US remains determined to stop North Korea from building a credible nuclear force, but it's looking like the only option left is military intervention.
- The US ambassador to the UN said the launch brings the US closer to war, but experts say the US might just have to accept North Korea as a nuclear state.
- 11/30/17--02:56: Russia is reportedly working on a deal to use Egypt's military bases
- Russia and Egypt are reportedly working on a deal to use eachother's air space and air bases.
- Egypt has struggled with an ISIS insurgency, and Russia is just coming off an air campaign to support Syria's President Bashar Assad.
- Russia is also cozying up to Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar.
- The US-led coalition fighting ISIS has reported killing at least 800 civilians via airstrikes.
- A monitoring group says 5,961 civilians have been killed by the coalition.
- The coalition releases the reports to hold themselves accountable.
- North Korea tested a capable intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday, but the country has already hinted at a more dangerous test that would have far-reaching effects.
- North Korea has previously threatened to detonate a nuclear device above the Pacific.
- Though the test would be destructive and provocative, North Korea has several reasons to attempt it.
- 11/30/17--14:47: Saudi Arabia has shot down the second Yemeni missile this month
- Saudi Arabia shot down a missile fired at the country by Yemen’s armed Houthi group.
- This is the second missile fired in a month.
- Saudi allies have launched thousands of air strikes against the Houthis who still control much of Yemen’s main population centers.
- The conflict has led to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises and killed at least 10,000 people.
- 12/01/17--04:39: South Korea says North Korea's missile program has a long way to go
- South Korea says that North Korea's latest missile test was a breakthrough, but they still have a long way to go.
- The missile looked like it could hit the US, but they still have to master guidance technologies for the warhead.
- South Korea thinks North Korea won't test again for a while
- 12/01/17--10:33: China snaps at the US over pushing Beijing to cut off North Korea
- Chinese state media wrote a snappy editorial telling the US to back off from insisting Beijing cut off North Korea.
- The editorial called out the US for "escalating hostility" in Asia and bringing the world closer to nuclear war.
- The piece ended by implying China would use military force to resolve the conflict if necessary.
- 12/04/17--02:19: Saudi warplanes unleash massive bombing campaign in Yemen's capital
- Saudi Arabia has renewed bombing efforts against Iranian-backed Houthi forces in Yemen after a Yemeni political leader called off his alliance with the Houthis.
- Saudi Arabia's bombing has created a humanitarian nightmare scenario in Yemen.
- Sen. Lindsey Graham said he thinks US families should move out of South Korea as the US and North Korea get closer to war.
- Graham expressed confdience in the Trump administration's ability to manage conflict with North Korea.
- Graham said the US is running out of time and that war has become more likely.
- Officials have said that interceptors from a US missile defense system took out a ballistic missile fired at an airport in Saudi Arabia, but a new analysis by The New York Times suggests that didn't happen.
- The likely failure of the US missile defense system shows a weakness as Saudi Arabia's enemies seem intent on firing more and more missiles.
- 12/05/17--00:46: Syria says it shot down 3 missiles fired from Israel
- Syria says it shot down three Israeli missiles targeting a military post days after Israel had hit another military post.
- Israel has mostly stayed out of Syria's conflict, but has attacked certain Iranian sites as Tehran's presence and influence grows in Syria.
- Israel says it's been shooting down Syrian and Iranian drones that enter its airspace.
- The US and South Korea are holding exercises on the Korean Peninsula involving a record 24 stealth jets practicing to take out North Korea's offensive capabilities.
- North Korea has promised a "terrible retaliation" for the exercise, but there's little it can do.
- Stealth jets like the F-22 and the F-35 provide the US with a possibly insurmountable technological advantage over North Korea in combat.
North Korea's missile test on Tuesday sent two big messages: The entire US, including the White House, is in range, and North Korea is not interested in talking peace with the US.
The missile flew higher and longer than the country's previous tests and demonstrated a range that experts say encompasses the entire continental US.
North Korea has tested intercontinental ballistic missiles before but had failed to convince scientists that it could reach important targets like Washington, DC.
Now both the nature and the timing of the latest missile launch suggest that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can threaten the White House and has no interest in any olive branches.
What North Korea wants
Joseph Yun, the State Department's top North Korea official, reportedly suggested in October that the US had offered to open up dialogue with Pyongyang if it agreed with the US to pause missile launches for 60 days.
Tuesday's launch came after a 74-day pause, which North Korea could have capitalized on to materialize talks.
The defiant launch is consistent with the statement a North Korean official gave CNN in October.
The official said: "Before we can engage in diplomacy with the Trump administration, we want to send a clear message that the DPRK has a reliable defensive and offensive capability to counter any aggression from the United States."
Tuesday's launch most likely sought to deter the US from attacking North Korea for fear of nuclear strikes.
While doubts remain over the missile's actual ability to deliver a heavy nuclear warhead to distant targets in the US, North Korea carried out the launch with the speed and stealth that suggest a capability to pull off a real-world strike on the US.
Tensions between the countries have spiked this year, with the North Korean state media saying in mid-November that Trump was 'sentenced to death' for his insults against the country and, more recently, with Trump placing North Korea on the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
Where North Korea backed down
But for all of North Korea's boldness in firing the missile, it did hold back in one important way.
Some of North Korea's more recent missile tests overflew Japan, which led to political fallout and increased missile defenses in the region.
By stopping this launch short of Japan and landing it in the sea, North Korea declined to chance Japan-based missile defenses downing the missile, as Trump has advocated.
Trump appeared to take the newly validated nuclear threat on the White House in stride, saying only that"it is a situation that we will handle."
The US and South Korea will begin a large-scale military drill involving stealth fighter aircraft in December.
South Korea's President Moon Jae In and Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed on Wednesday that the two nations could "no longer tolerate" the nuclear and missile provocations from North Korea.
"President Moon Jae-in and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to further intensify their countries' cooperation to put stronger pressure and sanctions against North Korea, noting they can no longer tolerate North Korea's threats to security," Moon's chief press secretary said, according to Yonhap News.
The leaders expressed "concerns over North Korea's claim that its nuclear and missile development programs are in their final stages," and agreed to take steps on cracking down on the regime.
Both leaders also agreed that China must play a bigger role in containing Pyongyang.
While Moon and Abe may be determined to hit back at North Korea, there's little they can do.
South Korea fired missiles across North Korea's maritime border in the immediate aftermath of the launch on Tuesday night, but the displays of force have no track record of stopping Pyongyang's nuclear missile progress.
But Moon and Abe discussed a seemingly unrelated topic that may have an important implication for North Korea. Abe reportedly raised the possibility of attending South Korea's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February.
Though Japan and South Korea are allied against North Korea, tensions remain strained among the countries due to lingering resentments from Japan's invasion of mainland Asia during World War II.
Driving a wedge between the US, South Korea, and Japan remains key element of North Korea's strategy.
A united South Korea and Japan could more effectively stand up to a nuclear North Korea, and a small step like Abe attending the Pyeongchang Olympics could go a long way.
YANGON (Reuters) - Pope Francis called on the people of Myanmar on Wednesday to embrace peace and reconciliation as their country emerges from nearly five decades of military rule still riven by ethnic conflicts and communal strife.
The pope made his appeal at an open-air mass in Yangon on the third day of a visit fraught with diplomatic risk over a military crackdown that has triggered the flight of about 625,000 Muslim Rohingya from the predominantly Buddhist country.
In a speech on Tuesday, he did not use the highly charged term 'Rohingya', following the advice of Vatican insiders who feared it could set off a diplomatic incident and turn Myanmar's military and government against minority Christians.
However, his call for justice, human rights and respect for all were widely seen as applicable to the Rohingya, who are not recognized as citizens or as members of a distinct ethnic group.
The mass exodus from Rakhine state to the southern tip of Bangladesh began at the end of August when the military launched a counter-offensive in response to Rohingya militant attacks on an army base and police security posts.
Scores of Rohingya villages were burnt to the ground, and refugees told of killings and rapes. The United States said last week that the military's campaign included "horrendous atrocities" aimed at "ethnic cleansing".
Myanmar's military has denied all accusations of murder, rape and forced displacement.
"Wounds of violence"
Only about 700,000 of Myanmar's 51 million people are Roman Catholic. Thousands of them traveled from far and wide to Yangon to see the pope, and many attended Wednesday's mass on the grounds of what had been racecourse during British colonial times.
Among the tens of thousands there were priests, nuns, diplomats, leaders of Aung San Suu Kyi's ruling National League for Democracy, and members of ethnic groups in traditional garb who sang songs and waved Myanmar and Vatican flags as they waited for the pope.
"We may never get such a chance again. The pope lives in Rome and we can't afford to go there," said Bo Khin, 45, a teacher who traveled on a truck to Yangon with a group of 15 relatives from the city of Mandalay. "We feel very happy, joyful that he visited us in Myanmar."
Bells chimed as Francis arrived. Standing in the back of a white truck, he smiled, waved at the crowd and looked relaxed as he headed to a pagoda-style canopy to celebrate mass.
In his homily, he called on the country's people to "anoint every hurt and every painful memory" and promote "the reconciliation and peace that God wants to reign in every human heart and in every community".
"I know that many in Myanmar bear the wounds of violence, wounds both visible and invisible," he said, urging them to shun temptation to seek healing from anger and revenge.
Myriad ethnic conflicts
Prayers were then read by members of the congregation in the Shan, Chin, Karen, Kachin and Kayan languages.
The prayer in Karen read: "For the leaders of Myanmar, that they may always foster peace and reconciliation through dialogue and understanding, thus promoting an end to conflict in the states of Kachin, Rakhine, and Shan, we pray to the lord."
When she came to power in 2016, Nobel peace laureate and longtime champion of democracy Suu Kyi said her number one priority was ending multiple ethnic conflicts that have kept Myanmar in a state of near-perpetual civil war since independence in 1948.
That goal remains elusive and, although Suu Kyi remains popular at home, she has faced a barrage of international criticism in recent weeks for expressing doubts about the reports of rights abuses against the Rohingya and failing to condemn the military.
Although Suu Kyi formed Myanmar’s first civilian government in half a century, her defenders say she is hamstrung by a constitution written by the military that left the army in control of security and much of the apparatus of the state.
Vatican sources say some in the Holy See believe the pope's trip to Myanmar was decided too hastily after full diplomatic ties were established in May during a visit by Suu Kyi.
Francis leaves on Thursday for Bangladesh, where he will meet a group of Rohingya refugees in the capital, Dhaka.
North Korea launched its longest and highest flying ballistic missile ever on Tuesday, and experts say that now the entire continental US lies within range of a nuclear attack from Kim Jong Un.
While doubts remain about the missile's ability to carry a heavy nuclear warhead, it's known that North Korea wants long-range missiles to hold targets in the US at risk.
Fortunately, unlike an attack from a nuclear peer state like Russia, North Korea's less-advanced missiles would only be expected to hit a few key targets in the US. And even that limited attack would still take North Korea years to prepare for, since it still needs to perfect its missiles engines with more tests, in addition to guidance systems. It also needs to build and deploy enough of them to survive US missile defenses.
But a North Korean propaganda photo from 2013 showing Kim Jong Un reviewing documents before a missile launch (pictured to the right) may have inadvertently leaked the planned targets for a nuclear attack on the US. On the wall besides Kim and his men, there's a map with lines pointing towards some militarily significant locations.
In Hawaii, one of the closest targets to North Korea, the US military bases Pacific Command, which is in charge of all US military units in the region. San Diego is PACOM's home port, where many of the US Navy ships that would respond to a North Korean attack base when not deployed.
Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana holds the US Air Force's Global Strike Command, the entity that would be responsible for firing back with the US's Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Washington D.C., of course, is the home of the US's commander-in-chief, who must approve of nuclear orders.
All in all, the targets selected by North Korea demonstrate a knowledge of the US's nuclear command and control, but as they come from a propaganda image, they should be taken with a grain of salt.
North Korea has developed nuclear weapons as a means of regime security, according to more than a dozen experts interviewed by Business Insider. If Kim ever shot a nuclear-armed missile the US's way, before the missiles even landed, US satellites in space would spot the attack and the president would order a return fire likely before the first shots even landed.
As unique as Kim is among world leaders, he must know a swift deposal awaits him if he ever engages in a nuclear confrontation.
President Donald Trump tweeted Wednesday that he had spoken to China's president and repeated that he would handle the North Korea situation.
"Just spoke to President XI JINPING of China concerning the provocative actions of North Korea. Additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea today. This situation will be handled!" Trump tweeted.
The tweet echoes Trump's previous statement in which he said very little about North Korea's recent missile launch, except that it would be taken care of. He has also repeatedly stressed China's role in pressuring North Korea, often looking to Xi to act against Pyongyang after military provocations.
China provides 90% of North Korea's external trade and a huge portion of its energy imports. Theoretically, China could cut off exports to North Korea and cause the regime to collapse, but doing so would run counter to Beijing's foreign policy goals, as it could lead to a US military presence right on its border.
But North Korea already exists under the tightest sanctions on earth. After North Korea's sixth and largest nuclear test in September, the UN Security Council unanimously passed sanctions against the country.
North Korea has accelerated its pace of missile testing as it nears completion of an intercontinental ballistic missile, but Trump has managed to rally countries against Pyongyang and isolate the rogue regime.
Paul Bracken, a professor of political science at Yale, told Business Insider that "the Trump administration has been reasonably effective" at isolating North Korea by working with US allies and countries like China. Trump "is mobilizing opinion in many countries to recognize the North Korean nuclear threat," Bracken said.
But North Korea developing and testing long-range missiles to threaten the US with won't be handled by sanctions alone. North Korea has been under serious sanctions for over a decade and has still managed the progress it enjoys today.
Instead, the Trump administration has opted for a strategy of "maximum pressure," whereby the US increases military drills and presence in the region while pushing sanctions and diplomatic solutions to the crisis.
North Korea made headlines around the world on Tuesday by launching a missile in the dead of night that soared 2,800 miles above the earth's surface and stayed in the air for almost an hour.
But unlike other missile launches from North Korea, no images came out from the launch.
As it landed a good distance off Japan's coast, no Japanese cameras caught the payload's splashdown either, as has been the case in the past.
The fact that South Korean, Japanese, and US defense authorities noticed and tracked the launch puts it beyond a reasonable doubt that North Korea did indeed test a missile — but they still could have faked an important element.
The purpose of the missile test, as experts assess it, was to demonstrate that North Korea's missiles could reach the US. Moments after the test, US scientists had calculated that based on the missile's flight time, distance traveled, and height reached, it could likely hit any target in the US.
But what we don't know is what the missile carried. Missiles alone don't cause nuclear devastation, nuclear warheads do. Moving a nuclear warhead, which can weigh upwards of 1,000 pounds, causes considerable difficulties for engineers.
"This missile could reach all of the United States," David Wright, a physicist and missile expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Business Insider this week. "But it doesn't mean much without considering the payload."
North Korean media later claimed that the missile was an Hwasong-15, a completed ICBM that no outsider has seen. North Korea's previous ICBM's were classed as Hwasong-14s.
It seems beyond a reasonable doubt that North Korea demonstrated a missile that could hit anywhere in the US. But the country did not prove it could hit the US with a nuclear warhead.
Additionally, North Korea has come under considerable pressure. The US declared North Korea a sponsor of terror, staged a three-aircraft-carrier naval drill with Japan, flew bombers over the Korean Peninsula, and announced a military drill with stealth aircraft to little response from North Korea.
The world awaits imagery from North Korea to substantiate its claims, which is strangely absent so far.
The results are in from North Korea's latest missile test, and it looks more official than ever that the rogue nation has joined the elite group of nuclear nations despite the US's best efforts.
A trove of photos released by North Korean media show the launch process as supervised by Kim Jong Un and reveal an entirely new missile, the Hwasong 15, which is unlike anything ever seen from the nation.
"This is a very big missile," Michael Duitsman, a researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies tweeted. "And I don't mean 'Big for North Korea.' Only a few countries can produce missiles of this size, and North Korea just joined the club."
North Korea has tested intercontinental ballistic missiles before, but researchers found them prohibitively small for delivering a heavy nuclear device halfway around the world to the US.
Tal Inbar, the head of the space research center at the Fisher Institute for Air & Space Strategic Studies noted on Twitter that the reentry vehicle, or the tip of the missile that must return down to earth, is "HUGE."
But Mike Elleman, a leading missile expert, wrote on 38 North that despite the missile's size, it still probably can't send a heavy nuclear warhead as far as the US's east coast.
According to Elleman, when North Korea demonstrated the 8,000-mile range of the Hwasong-15 and its other long-range missiles, they "likely carried very small payloads." Elleman estimates that with a reasonably sized nuclear warhead onboard, the missiles would struggle to reach the US's west coast.
What this means for the US
In comparison to the other ICBM launches from North Korea, the response from President Donald Trump has been muted, and perhaps for good reason.
Though Trump has "been reasonably effective" in isolating North Korea and rallying support for sanctions internationally, his efforts have ultimately failed, Paul Bracken, a professor of political science at Yale, told Business Insider.
But North Korea just showed a domestically made missile and missile launcher. It showed a capacity to improve upon its existing designs, and to design new missiles independently.
In short, it showed that even with "maximum pressure" from Trump, aircraft carriers nearby, and US jets buzzing around, it can build a credible nuclear weapon, and will do so in the near future.
"We know they were building to this. They got it no matter how badly we wanted to stop them. Our options to stop them are still awful," Robert Kelly, an associate political science professor at Pusan National University in South Korea told the Los Angeles Times. "We are stuck. We have to adapt to North Korea as a nuclear power, and we will actually."
The US has repeatedly said it will not accept North Korea as a nuclear power, and that it will consider military intervention to stop it.
As the US's Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley said, the launch "brings us closer to war," even though the US is not seeking war with North Korea.
While Haley remarked that the "North Korean regime will be utterly destroyed" in such a war, she neglected to mention that South Korea, and possibly the US, could also face utter destruction from a North Korean nuclear attack.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's government published a draft agreement between Russia and Egypt on Thursday allowing both countries to use each other's air space and air bases for their military planes.
The draft deal was set out in a decree, signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Nov. 28, which ordered the Russian Defence Ministry to hold negotiations with Egyptian officials and to sign the document once both sides reached an agreement.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Cairo for talks with Egypt's political and military leadership on Wednesday and the decree said the draft had been "preliminary worked through with the Egyptian side" and approved by Medvedev.
Russia launched a military operation to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in September 2015 and there are signs it is keen to further expand its military presence in the region.
U.S. officials said in March that Russia had deployed special forces in Egypt near the border with Libya, an allegation Moscow denied.
Russia has cultivated close ties with powerful Libyan commander Khalifa Haftar, who held talks with Shoigu, the Russian defence minister, via video link from a Russian aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean this year and visited Moscow.
Russian and Egyptian war planes would be able to use each other's air space and airfields by giving five days advance notice, according to the draft agreement, which is expected to be valid for five years and could be extended.
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday that U.S.-Russia ties were the worst he could recall, but that U.S. President Donald Trump struck him as a friendly person keen to establish positive working contacts with Russia.
Medvedev, who met Trump in Manila this month, said in a televised interview that relations between the two countries were terrible, but that there was still a chance to improve them.
He also accused U.S. politicians of playing the "Russia card" to achieve their own aims and influence Trump's attitude towards Russia.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - At least 800 civilians have been killed in strikes in Iraq and Syria by the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State since the campaign began in 2014, according to a report released by the coalition on Thursday.
The estimate in the monthly report, which said coalition strikes had unintentionally killed at least 801 civilians between August 2014 and October 2017, was far lower than figures provided by monitoring groups.
The monitoring group Airwars says a total of at least 5,961 civilians have been killed by coalition air strikes.
"We continue to hold ourselves accountable for actions that may have caused unintentional injury or death to civilians," the coalition said in its report.
Since the start of the campaign against Islamic State militants, the coalition has carried out more than 28,000 strikes and has received 1,790 reports of potential civilian casualties, the report said.
It was still assessing 695 reports of civilian casualties from strikes it carried out in Iraq and in Syria.
The coalition, battling to defeat Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, says it goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties.
North Korea launched its most capable missile on Tuesday, displaying a range that could most likely reach the US mainland — but the country has already hinted at a more dangerous test.
In its state media, North Korea routinely swears to conduct missile tests and complete a missile program that can strike the US with nuclear weapons. But after US President Donald Trump threatened to "totally destroy" North Korea in a speech to the UN this summer, Pyongyang laid out another goal.
North Korea's foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, said in September that the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, could respond with "the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific."
In October, CNN's Will Ripley quoted a senior North Korean official as saying the US should take the threat "literally," hinting it might follow the completion of an intercontinental ballistic missile — something North Korea declared on Wednesday.
ICBM tests are safe compared with nuclear detonations
North Korea's latest ICBM test drew condemnation from world leaders — the US's ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said it took the US and North Korea "closer to war"— but did virtually zero damage.
The missile launched, crested at 2,800 miles above earth, and splashed down into the Sea of Japan.
If North Korea were to carry out its threat of detonating a nuclear device over the Pacific, it would affect millions of lives.
"If North Korea does do an atmospheric test, it really does change the game," Jenny Town, a managing editor at 38 North, a website for North Korea analysis, previously told Business Insider. "The amount of contamination it would cause both in the atmosphere and the ocean is something that will last for years."
North Korea essentially nuking the ocean would have far-reaching effects and draw international condemnation.
With the amount of traffic at sea and number of people who rely on the ocean for food and their livelihoods, the test would most likely kill people directly or indirectly.
And atmospheric detonations of nuclear weapons carry the risk of electromagnetic pulses, which could shut down electrical grids and cripple infrastructure.
North Korea may have no choice
North Korea's underground testing site recently withstood a nuclear blast that experts have said was at least 10 times as powerful as the bomb the US dropped on Hiroshima — but reports of cave-ins, landslides, and mini-earthquakes have followed as the ground under the mountain has resettled.
Though intelligence sources suggest North Korea can still access its underground testing site, another test, especially a more powerful one, could blow the lid off entirely, making it more likely that the country would conduct it over the Pacific.
If North Korea failed to contain an underground test, the radioactive material could leak out and spread across the border to China, which Town said Beijing would see "as an attack on China."
The ultimate brinkmanship
While the US acknowledges North Korea's possession of ICBMs and nuclear weapons, North Korea has never demonstrated its ability to combine the two.
It's one thing to launch a rocket very high and imply it could travel very far. It's another to attach a nuclear device and ensure it survives the incredible heat and pressure of reentering the Earth's atmosphere at many times the speed of sound and detonates at a set time.
For North Korea, a test over the Pacific would demonstrate that it has mastered some of the more intricate work needed for a credible nuclear force.
If an ICBM test brings the US to the brink of war with North Korea, a nuclear detonation above the Pacific might tip the scale.
DUBAI (Reuters) - A ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s armed Houthi group at Saudi Arabia was shot down on Thursday near the south-western city of Khamis Mushait, the Saudi-owned al-Arabiya channel reported.
It was the second ballistic missile fired from Yemen this month, after an earlier rocket was brought down near King Khaled Airport on the northern outskirts of the capital Riyadh.
A Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen has closed air, land and sea access in a move it says is meant to stop a flow of Iranian arms to the Houthis, who control much of northern Yemen. The blockade has cut food imports to seven million people on the brink of famine.
“Air defense intercepted a ballistic missile, fired by the Houthis toward Khamis Mushait,” Arabiya said on its Twitter account, without giving details.
The Houthis and allied militias loyal to former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who have fired dozens of missiles into Saudi territory during a 2-1/2 year war, said on their official news agency they had launched a mid-range ballistic missile that “hit its military target with high precision”.
SABA, quoting a military source, added the “successful test was a new start of locally made missile launches”.
Saudi Arabia and its allies, who receive logistical and intelligence help from the United States, accuse the Houthis of being a proxy of Iran.
The coalition has launched thousands of air strikes against the Houthis who still control much of Yemen’s main population centers including the capital Sanaa and the strategic port and city of Hodeidah.
The conflict has led to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises and killed at least 10,000 people.
Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi and Omar Fahmy; editing by Ralph Boulton
TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese court sentenced a former U.S. military base worker to life in prison on Friday for the rape and murder of a woman on the southern island of Okinawa, public broadcaster NHK reported.
The Naha District Court found Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, 33, guilty of killing 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro in April last year, NHK said. A court spokesman told Reuters he was unable to immediately confirm the decision.
The case sparked anger on the island, where locals have long protested the presence of U.S. military bases that they say imposes a heavy burden on Okinawa.
Okinawa hosts around 50,000 U.S. nationals, including 30,000 military personnel and civilians employed at the bases.
In a bid to assuage locals, the United States last year agreed to limit legal protection and benefits to some U.S. civilian contractors working for the military in Japan under a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that dates back to 1960.
SOFA exempts personnel from requiring visas while in Japan, and has been criticized because it has been used by the U.S. military to ship people home before Japanese police can capture them.
Other incidents involving U.S. personnel have stirred resentment among Okinawans. On Nov. 19, a local man was killed in road accident after his van collided with a car driven by a U.S. Marine suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol. The U.S. military responded by imposing a drinking ban for personnel in Japan on or off base.
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea's latest missile test places Washington within range, but it still needs to prove critical missile technology, such as re-entry, terminal stage guidance and warhead activation, South Korea said on Friday.
But South Korea said it expected Pyongyang to now pause its provocative missile testing programme, after the success of its new Hwasong-15 missile that can fly far enough to hit the U.S. mainland.
Pyongyang has said its Wednesday missile test was a "breakthrough" and leader Kim Jong Un said the country had "finally realized the great historic cause of completing the state nuclear force".
"Kim Jong Un is acting in a very calculative, clever manner," said South Korea Defence Minister Song Young-moo.
"Kim changed the launch time, direction and distance in order to display he has this great power....he will probably make a great announcement in his New Year's Address that the North has completed its weapons programme."
South Korea's Ministry of Defence said the Hwasong-15 missile was a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which can fly over 13,000 km (8,080 miles), placing Washington within target range.
However, North Korea still needs to prove some technologies, like re-entry, terminal stage guidance and warhead activation, said Yeo Suk-joo, deputy minister of defense policy at the defense ministry.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Thursday told U.S. President Donald Trump that despite the technical issues needed to be settled, the new missile was North Korea's most advanced.
According to an analysis by South Korea's military, Yeo told lawmakers at a parliamentary session the first stage engine of the Hwasong-15 missile was a clustering of two engines from Hwasong-14 missiles, which are also ICBMs that were test-launched in July this year.
Yeo said the Hwasong-15 is two meters (six feet) longer than the Hwasong-14, while the second-stage engine requires further analysis.
In order to curb further provocations from the North, U.S. strategic assets will continue to be rotated on and near the Korean peninsula until the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics next February, Yeo said.
South Korea's Unification Ministry said it believed that North Korea was unlikely to engage in more missile and rocket tests anytime soon due to a number of reasons, including the northern hemisphere winter season.
"For now if there are no sudden changes in situation or external factors, we feel there is a high chance North Korea will refrain from engaging in provocations for a while," said Lee Yoo-jin, deputy spokeswoman at the Unification Ministry.
North Korea is known to test fewer missiles in the fourth quarter of the year as troops are called to help with harvests, while the cold temperature is a strain on its fuel supplies.
This week's missile launch was the first in 75 days.
The latest provocation from the North prompted more insults from Trump, who referred to North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un as "Little Rocket Man" and a "sick puppy".
Trump on Thursday also dismissed a Chinese diplomatic effort to rein in North Korea's weapons programme as a failure, while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Beijing was doing a lot, but could do more to limit oil supplies to Pyongyang.
Despite international condemnation and U.N. sanctions, North Korea has continued on its path towards developing a nuclear-tipped missile that could hit the United States.
After North Korea released video footage and photographs of Hwasong-15, analysts have said they appeared to show the North was indeed capable of delivering a nuclear weapon anywhere in the United States and could only be two or three tests away from being combat ready.
Trump and Moon pledged to continue applying strong sanctions and pressure on North Korea to bring it to talks. Addressing an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting after this week's missile launch, the United States warned North Korea's leadership it would be "utterly destroyed" if war were to break out.
Chinese state media published a blunt editorial blaming the US and North Korea for rising hostilities in Asia after the rogue nuclear nation tested its most powerful ever ballistic missile on Tuesday.
"China has tried its best," the editorial in the Global Times, a state-run media outlet, read.
The Global Times, while not run by Chinese Communist Party officials, is heavily censored and its editorials typically represent the country's official position with little deviation.
"China has done what it can for the US," read the editorial, which blamed the nuclear crisis on "escalating hostility between Pyongyang and Washington."
The US maintains that its military presence in South Korea and Japan is at the request of the host nations and a totally legal response to North Korea's illegal nuclear and missile testing. North Korea and now China have both accused the US of escalating tensions with its military presence.
President Donald Trump frequently mentions China when talking about handling the North Korean crisis, and the editorial seemed to take issue with that.
"The theory that China should be held responsible is wrong in logic," read the editorial. US experts maintain that China could collapse North Korea's regime in a heartbeat, but it refuses to do so because it would counter Beijing's national interests.
The editorial also took seriously China's national security, which it considers endangered by a nuclear North Korea on its border and the US's deployment of missile defenses in the region.
About 90% of North Korea's external trade goes through China, and US pundits have long called for Beijing to cut off Pyongyang in light of its illegal nuclear ambitions, but the editorial staked out a very firm stance in refuting the US.
"China has no obligation to cooperate with the US" on imposing a full trade embargo on North Korea, which it described as an "impractical idea."
"The US has no right to direct China or the UN Security Council," the editorial said.
Instead of "pinning hopes" on China, according to the editorial, the US should "fulfill their obligations in alleviating tensions and pushing for talks."
The editorial seems to echo Trump by waving a military option and putting Beijing's national interests first.
"Beijing is fully prepared to use its prowess to defend its national interest. China owes no one anything, and other countries must know this," the editorial concludes.
SANAA, Yemen (AP) — Yemenis in the war-torn country's capital crowded into basements overnight as Saudi-led fighter jets pounded the positions of Houthi rebels, who are now fighting forces loyal to a former president for control of the city.
Suze van Meegen, Sanaa-based protection and advocacy adviser for the Norwegian Refugee Council, said Monday that the violence left aid workers trapped inside their homes and was "completely paralyzing humanitarian operations."
"No one is safe in Sana'a at the moment. I can hear heavy shelling outside now and know it is too imprecise and too pervasive to guarantee that any of us are safe," she said.
Fighting erupted between the Iranian-allied Shiite rebels and forces loyal to Ali Abdullah Saleh last week, unraveling their fragile alliance, formed in the face of the internationally-recognized government and Saudi-led coalition.
The breakdown of the alliance has led the coalition to step up its bombing of Houthi positions, in support of Saleh's forces. Tribes who support Saleh have tried to assert control over their areas across the city.
"The night was tough," Robert Mardini, the regional director of the International Committee of the Red Cross, posted on his Twitter account. "Massive urban clashes with heavy artillery and airstrikes. Yemenis stuck in their homes, too scared to go out. Reduced access to water, health care, food and fuel."
The Houthis and forces allied to Saleh swept into the capital, Sanaa, in 2014. The Houthis dominate the northern part of the city, while Saleh's forces hold the southern part, with much of the current fighting concentrated around the Political District, home to ministries and foreign embassies. The Houthis appeared to be targeting the homes of Saleh's family, political allies and commanders.
Civilians living in the area are largely cut off from the outside world.
In southern Sanaa's Fag Attan neighborhood, the Houthis used tanks, artillery, and anti-aircraft guns to try to take out snipers loyal to Saleh, damaging or destroying several buildings.
Residents said the night was shattered by the sounds of gunfire and children screaming.
"It's like horror movies," said Bushra, a local woman who asked that her last name not be published for fear of retribution. "I have lived through many wars but nothing like this."
Witnesses said the bodies of slain civilians and fighters littered the streets, as no ambulances were able to reach the area.
It was not immediately possible to gauge the toll of the battles. Medical officials say at least 100 people have been killed and more than 300 wounded in the fighting, which began Wednesday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to the press.
The Saudi-led coalition launched an air campaign against the rebels in March 2015 and later expanded into ground operations. Saudi Arabia views the Houthis as an Iranian proxy on its doorstep, and the rivalry between the two regional powers has amplified the conflict. Iran supports the Houthis but denies arming them.
The stalemated war has killed more than 10,000 civilians and displaced 3 million. Even before the fighting, Yemen was the poorest country in the Arab world. It is now on the brink of famine and grappling with a cholera epidemic.
In the latest fighting, the coalition has thrown its support behind Saleh, dubbing his fight against the Houthis a "popular uprising." Witnesses said airstrikes hit the airport and a military camp in northern Sanaa, the district controlled by Houthis.
Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdel-Salam said the coalition is targeting Houthi positions in support of Saleh's forces, saying the coalition now has "agents in the middle of Sanaa, directing the jets of the aggression."
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Lindsey Graham said Sunday that he believes it's time to start moving the families of American military personnel out of South Korea as North Korea pushes the U.S. closer to a military conflict.
Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he will also urge the Pentagon not to send any more dependents to South Korea.
"It's crazy to send spouses and children to South Korea, given the provocation of North Korea. South Korea should be an unaccompanied tour," the South Carolina Republican said on CBS' "Face the Nation." ''So, I want them to stop sending dependents, and I think it's now time to start moving American dependents out of South Korea."
About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to deter potential aggression from the North.
Last week, North Korea shattered 2½ months of relative quiet by firing off an intercontinental ballistic missile that some observers say showed the reclusive country's ability to strike the U.S. East Coast. It was North Korea's most powerful weapons test yet.
The launch was a message of defiance to President Donald Trump's administration, which a week earlier had restored North Korea to a U.S. list of terror sponsors. It also hurt nascent diplomatic efforts and raised fears of a pre-emptive U.S. strike. Threats traded by Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have further stoked fears of war.
Graham expressed confidence in the Trump administration's ability to manage the growing conflict with North Korea.
"He's got the best national security team of anybody I have seen since I have been in Washington," said Graham, who has served in Congress since 1995.
The Trump administration has vowed to deny North Korea the capability of striking the U.S. homeland with a nuclear-tipped missile.
"Denial means pre-emptive war as a last resort. The pre-emption is becoming more likely as their technology matures," Graham told CBS. "I think we're really running out of time. The Chinese are trying, but ineffectively. If there's an underground nuclear test, then you need to get ready for a very serious response by the United States."
Trump has said he spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping about Pyongyang's "provocative actions," and he vowed that additional major sanctions will be imposed on North Korea. China is North Korea's only significant ally, but it has grown increasingly frustrated over the North's nuclear and missile tests that have brought a threat of war and chaos to China's northeastern border.
In late November, a missile fired by Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen came streaking through the sky toward the airport in Saudi Arabia's capital, Riyadh.
The Saudis spotted the incoming fire and shot off five missile interceptors from a US-supplied missile defense system to stop the threat, they say.
"Our system knocked the missile out of the air," US President Donald Trump later said of the incident. "That's how good we are. Nobody makes what we make, and now we're selling it all over the world."
But a new analysis by The New York Times suggests that the missile's failure to hit its target was a fluke and that the missile interceptors all missed.
Essentially, the analysis says that the parts of the Houthi-fired missile that crashed in Saudi Arabia indicate that the interceptors, fired from a Patriot Advanced Capability 3 system, did not hit the warhead as they were supposed to.
Instead, an interceptor probably hit a part of the missile tube that had detached from the warhead, The Times found. The warhead most likely continued to travel, unimpeded, to where it blew up outside the airport. Witnesses reported hearing the explosion, and satellite imagery uncovered by The Times suggests that emergency vehicles responded to the blast.
The missile, an old Scud variant, can be expected to miss by about a kilometer. The Scuds are old and error-prone, and the older ones used by the Houthis are relatively cheap.
But the missile defense system developed by the US costs a few million dollars and has been touted by defense officials as one of the most advanced in the world.
In South Korea, the same missile defense systems and technologies are designed to defend US troops and thousands of civilians from a North Korean missile strike.
"You shoot five times at this missile and they all miss? That's shocking," Laura Grego, a missile expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Times. "That's shocking because this system is supposed to work."
Houthis in Yemen have fired missiles at Saudi Arabia before, and over the weekend they said they fired a cruise missile at a nuclear-energy site in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates — something the UAE has denied.
Cruise missile launched by the Houthis in Yemen, allegedly towards Abu Dhabi nuclear reactor. Similarity to Iranian Soumar cruise missile (their Kh-55 clone) is evident. pic.twitter.com/q0qmabUISF— Tal Inbar (@inbarspace) December 3, 2017
Footage purportedly of the cruise missile shows that it closely resembles Iranian missiles, suggesting Tehran supplied it. Iran has also been accused of providing the missile fired at the Riyadh airport.
A failure of the missile defenses against even a short-range missile like the one the Houthis fired at the airport may sow doubt about whether the US systems can be trusted to deter conflict in the Middle East, where military tensions have escalated.
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian air defense units shot down three Israeli missiles that were targeting a military post near the capital, Damascus, only days after the Jewish state hit a military position nearby, Syria's state news agency SANA reported on Tuesday.
There was no Israeli comment on the incident.
SANA did not say whether some of the missiles hit the target and did not give any word on casualties. It said the attack occurred around midnight on Monday.
The attack comes three days after Syria said Israel fired several surface-to-surface missiles at a military post near Damascus, causing material damage but no casualties.
"Our air defense units confronted an Israeli aggression with missiles on one of our military posts in the countryside of Damascus and shot down three of them" SANA said.
The opposition's Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the attack was an Israeli airstrike on the Damascus suburb of Jamraya, which is home to a government research center.
There have been some media reports that said Saturday's missile attack near the Damascus suburb of Kiswa targeted an Iranian military position. The Observatory said at the time that the area hit Saturday had Iranian and Hezbollah presence, but added that it was not clear if they were targeted.
Though Israel has mainly stayed out of the conflict in neighboring Syria, it has carried out a number of airstrikes against suspected arms shipments believed to be bound for Lebanon's Hezbollah militant group, which is fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's government forces in the civil war, now in its seventh year.
Israel has also struck several Syrian military facilities since the conflict began, mostly near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. In September, Israeli warplanes hit a military position near the Mediterranean coast in western Syria, killing two soldiers and causing material damage.
Last month, the Israeli military said it shot down a drone above the Golan Heights that tried to infiltrate its airspace from Syria, using a Patriot missile. It said the drone was operated by the Syrian government and was shot down in the demilitarized zone between the two countries. And in September, Israel said it shot down an Iranian-made drone sent by Hezbollah in the same area. Iran has also backed Assad in Syria's conflict.
Israel opposes a permanent military presence in Syria of the Iranians and Hezbollah, fearing possible attacks in the future, and has raised the matter in the past with Russia, another main backer of Assad.
The US and South Korea militaries frequently train together, but this year's version of an annual exercise, which began Monday and features participation of a record 24 stealth jets, is sure to give North Korean leader Kim Jong Un chills.
About 12,000 US Navy sailors, Marines, and South Korean troops will train with 230 aircraft from eight bases this week. The planes are set to conduct "surgical strikes" on about 700 targets that mimic North Korean military infrastructure, according to NK News.
The combined forces will focus on taking out North Korea's artillery installations and blocking an invasion, while six F-22 Raptor fighter jets, six US Marine Corps F-35B jump jets, and 12 US Air Force F-35As patrol the skies with all-aspect stealth that Pyongyang would never see coming.
It marks a massive preparation for the all-out air and land war that would ensue if conflict broke out on the peninsula — and Pyongyang has taken notice.
North Korean media said the US was "staging an ultra-precision strike drill with high intensity just like in a real war focused on 'removing' the DPRK's state leadership and core facilities by massively introducing the ultramodern stealth fighters,"according to The Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Cheng.
While North Korean media frequently exaggerates in crafting a propaganda narrative, this time it's pretty much correct.
The US has never before pulled in as many stealth jets for exercises on the Korean Peninsula, and never before have those jets trained so realistically to defeat North Korea.
How stealth fighters can change the game
Even before North Korea developed nuclear weapons, its massive artillery installations discouraged the US or South Korea from crossing the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas.
Any solution to defeat North Korea's military leadership without sustaining too much damage from artillery and missile attacks in a counterattack would surely involve F-22 and F-35 stealth jets.
Not only can the F-22s and F-35s fly over North Korea without being seen, but the F-35s have unparalleled sensors and situational awareness designed to spot artillery sites and direct airstrikes.
North Korea's hidden artillery pieces have managed to deter outside invaders for decades, but with Kim scrambling to perfect his fleet of intercontinental ballistic missiles and top US officials viewing Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions like a ticking time bomb, the use of the US’s most advanced aircraft in exercises signals the US is serious about the possibility of war.
On Sunday, North Korean media warned of a "terrible retaliation" to the exercise, but short of testing more missiles or nuclear devices, there's little it can do to stop jets it can't see from training on land it doesn't control.