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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider

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    palestinian protests gaza Jerusalem embassy

    • Hamas, the US and Israeli-designated terrorist organization that vows to destroy Israel and the Jewish people who live there, has accomplished a massive triumph of propaganda over the Gaza protests.
    • Israeli forces have killed dozens of Palestinians along its border over the past few months since Palestinians have begun protesting.
    • Hamas itself admits to sending fighters to the protests.
    • A man interviewed at the protests said he intended to fly a kite with swastikas over the Israeli borders to burn Jewish people because he embraces the anti-Semitic components of Nazism. 

    Hamas, the US and Israeli-designated terrorist organization that vows to destroy Israel and the Jewish people who live there, has accomplished a massive triumph of propaganda over the Gaza protests.

    Israeli forces have killed dozens of Palestinians along its border over the past few months since Palestinians have begun protesting.

    This week, as the US opened an embassy in Jerusalem, Israeli forces made headlines for killing children and the disabled along its borders.

    But mixed in with the crowd are actual Hamas terrorists. Hamas itself put out media saying 10 of the 58 killed on Monday at the border were fighters in its ranks. The Israeli Defense Forces said 24 "terrorists" had been killed amid the violent protests.

    Mahmoud Al-Zahhar, a senior Hamas official told MEMRI TV that "this is not peaceful resistance."

    "When we talk about peaceful resistance, we are deceiving the public," Zahhar said. 

    "This is peaceful resistance bolstered by a military force and by security agencies and enjoying tremendous popular support," Zahhar said.

    Israel and its allies argue Hamas has likely endangered the lives of peaceful protesters by adding a militarized element to the border protests.

    NPR interviewed a young Palestinian protesting on the border who had a kite with swastikas on it. He said he intended to set on fire and fly over the Israeli border as a kind of improvised incendiary device, saying he embraced anti-Semitism and Nazism.

    "The Jews go crazy for Hitler when they see it,"he said.

    Confronted with the fact that Israelis point to the use of swastikas to discredit the protests as anti-Semitic and violently anti-Israel, the man remained firm.

    "This is actually what we want them to know, that we want to burn them," the man said. 

    SEE ALSO: Trump administration abandons peace push as Israel kills dozens in border struggle with Hamas, Palestinians

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why you should never release your pet goldfish into the wild


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    kim jong un

    • North Korea appeared to flip on the US on Tuesday with a broadside against the Trump administration.
    • By threatening to pull out of a summit with President Donald Trump scheduled for next month, Kim Jong Un has turned the tables and potentially put himself in a position to demand concessions from the US.
    • It looks like a power move that may already have Washington considering concessions to Pyongyang.
    • There are already signs that Kim is bluffing and that Trump may cave to some of Kim's demands to save the summit. 

    North Korea appeared to turn the tables on the US on Tuesday by threatening to pull out of a summit scheduled for next month.

    The threat is an apparent broadside against the Trump administration and looks like a power move that could make Washington consider concessions to Pyongyang.

    North Korea released statements on Tuesday bashing officials in the administration, canceling talks with South Korea, and threatening to withdraw from the planned summit with the US.

    In doing so, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has turned the tables on President Donald Trump, who has built enormous expectations for the meeting.

    One statement from North Korea's state-run media likened ongoing military exercises involving US and South Korean forces to a rehearsal for an invasion, returning to a talking point from last year, when Trump and Kim were trading nuclear threats.

    In a later statement, a North Korean official expressed "violent anger" at the US's behavior and said Pyongyang would have to "reconsider" the meeting with Trump.

    The official offered Trump an ultimatum: Cede to North Korea's demands, or lose the summit.

    How the tables have turned

    Donald Trump Kim Jong Un

    When Trump accepted Kim's offer to meet for a historic summit — which would be the first time a sitting US president meets with a sitting North Korean leader — experts and analysts were more or less united in viewing it as a legitimizing win for Kim.

    Kim bought his way to the table with Trump with a single, virtually meaningless word: denuclearization.

    The US has long maintained that it will not talk to North Korea unless the prospect of disarmament is on the table.

    When Kim started discussing the prospect earlier this year, Trump and his top officials cheered the move as proof that its unique approach to North Korea had worked.

    But in statements on Tuesday, North Korea said Trump had employed the same tired ideas that had failed in the past, asserting that its "treasured" nuclear program had brought it international power.

    Now, after Trump has repeatedly hyped his progress with Pyongyang, it is Kim, the leader of a rogue state, dangling the prospect of a summit to gain concessions from the US.

    What North Korea demands and how Trump might cave to it

    Kim Jong-un North Korea nuclear bomb

    North Korea's recent statements push back on longstanding US-South Korea military exercises and call for Trump to back off of his demand for "complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization."

    Already, it looks as if the US may cave to save the summit. South Korea's Yonhap News reports that the B-52, a US nuclear bomber, could be pulled from air combat drills in a nod to North Korea's new demands.

    But before that, Trump's top officials had minced words about the aim of talks with North Korea and the possible definitions of "denuclearization."

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been to North Korea twice in the past month or so, has in a series of recent interviews described slightly different aims of the talks.

    While Pompeo often speaks in absolute terms, saying total denuclearization and removal of nuclear facilities must come before Washington eases off Pyongyang, he told CBS's "Face the Nation" on Sunday that talks with North Korea would seek to ensure that "America is no longer held at risk by your nuclear weapons arsenal" and ending Kim's chemical and biological weapons program and missiles "that threaten the world."

    Adam Mount, the director of the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists, tweeted that, in other words, Pompeo said the US would accept "a standard that could permit retention of nuclear warheads, facilities, material, and possibly short range missiles."

    Kim's master bluff

    Moon and Kim step into North Korea

    Jeffrey Lewis, a North Korea expert, said of the country's recent statements, "I can't imagine Kim gives up his summit."

    Lewis added: "I think Kim wants that photo with the President of the United States, paying tribute to him, for the front page of the Rodong Sinmun," North Korea's state newspaper.

    Similarly, the historic diplomatic meeting may play well for Trump, motivating him to meet Kim's conditions for talks.

    North Korea's recent hardline statements contradict what a South Korean official told reporters in March — that Kim had said he "understands the South's stance" on the military exercises, which were happening at the time.

    Basically, Kim seemed fine with the exercises when he was trying to get meetings with the US and South Korea, but now that he's secured those talks, he has started to object.

    "North Korea is back to its old game of trying to raise the stakes prior to a meeting,"said Bruce Klingner, the former chief of the CIA's Korea division. "But Kim risks undermining the good will he had built up through his diplomatic outreach since January."

    Now the question for the Trump administration is whether to call Kim's apparent bluff or quietly meet his demands.

    But by backing off from complete denuclearization, Trump could end up with a bad deal — and if he calls Kim's bluff, the two leaders could land right back on the nuclear brink.

    SEE ALSO: The Trump-Kim Jong Un summit looks like it's on thin ice as North Korea flips on the US

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    blessIT

    On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day which serves as a day to honor all those who serve in the sister-service branches.

    The men and women of the military have made exceptional sacrifices and so on Armed Forces Day and all other military appreciation days, we can do small acts to show our gratitude to them.

    Below are some ideas of how to show your appreciation: 

    Volunteer at a VA hospital or donate your time to a veterans group.

    There are 152 veteran medical centers in the US as well as hundreds of clinics, outpatient and nursing facilities. Call your local VA medical center or community to learn more about donating your time.



    Talk to veterans or an active service member.

    Ask questions about their service, why they joined the military and listen to their stories. A little interest can go a long way.



    Visit a memorial.

    All across the US, military members are honored through monuments that memorialize their service and sacrifice. Washington DC is home to 8, but monuments dedicated to members of the military can be found throughout the nation. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    john bolton former ambassador fox news contributor national security advisor trump administration joshua roberts reuters RTS107HO

    • North Korea appeared to flip on the US on Tuesday with a variety of complaints and statements that marked the first real backslide of a diplomatic push for peace in Korea, and it pinned its complaints on a dark, threatening statement from John Bolton.
    • Bolton, President Donald Trump's newly appointed national security adviser, suggested the US could follow a "Libya model" for denuclearizing North Korea.
    • Libya's former leader was violently killed after giving up his weapons of mass destruction.
    • It's unclear why Bolton chose to mention Libya in the context of North Korea, knowing the violent end Libya's leader met, but the comment looks to have soured peace talks for now.

    North Korea appeared to flip on the US on Tuesday with a variety of complaints and statements that marked the first real backslide of a diplomatic push for peace in Korea — and much of it was pinned on a dark, threatening statement made by President Donald Trump's hawkish new national security adviser.

    North Korean media specifically targeted Trump's new national security adviser, John Bolton.

    "We shed light on the quality of Bolton already in the past, and we do not hide our feeling of repugnance towards him," wrote Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea's vice-minister of foreign affairs.

    Bolton, who has written extensively advocating that the US bomb North Korea, recently made a strange statement that appears to have provoked North Korea's anger.

    "I think we're looking at the Libya model of 2003, 2004," to denuclearize North Korea, Bolton told CBS' "Face the Nation" in late April.

    Shortly after the US invaded Iraq and deposed Saddam Hussein in 2003, Libya's Muammar Gaddafi agreed to have international inspectors visit his country to certify that his nuclear and chemical weapons programs had halted.

    In 2011, a popular uprising in Libya got backing from the US and some NATO countries, and a salvo of cruise missile strikes pummeled the Libyan government.

    Within months, Gaddafi was filmed being dragged out into the streets by rebels, who then violently killed him.

    Gaddafi's violent end and the parallels between Libya and North Korea appear to have been noted in Pyongyang.

    "World knows too well that our country is neither Libya nor Iraq which have met miserable fate," North Korea's vice minister wrote, responding to Bolton. "It is absolutely absurd to dare compare the DPRK, a nuclear weapon state, to Libya which had been at the initial stage of nuclear development," he continued, using North Korea's formal title.

    What was Bolton thinking?

    John Bolton Mitt Romney

    To be clear, the US did not kill Gaddafi; his own people did. Gaddafi enjoyed eight years of international prestige and acceptance before he met his violent end, but it's still a comparison Bolton could have easily steered clear of.

    It's unclear why Bolton would want to compare North Korea to Libya, as the countries are very different and Libya carries unsavory associations.

    Now, a much-awaited summit between Trump and Kim has taken a negative turn, with Pyongyang reconsidering its approach and the US likely considering appeasing Kim — and Bolton's Libya remark appears at the center of the setback.

    SEE ALSO: Kim Jong Un just tested Trump ahead of the planned summit — and Trump may be caving already

    DON'T MISS: 9 quotes from John Bolton show why national-security experts are terrified he's in the White House

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: I ate nothing but 'healthy' fast food for a week — here’s what happened


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    Kim Jong Un

    • North Korea and the US backslid from previously rosy relations on Tuesday when media from Pyongyang attacked President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton.
    • North Korea took issue with Bolton calling for a "Libya model" of denuclearization, as Libya's leader met with a violent death after disarming.
    • Bolton almost certainly knew what he was doing, and experts say he may be sabotaging the deal.
    • Bolton has written extensively to advocate for the US bombing North Korea. 

    North Korea and the US backslid from previously rosy relations on Tuesday when media from Pyongyang attacked President Donald Trump's national security adviser John Bolton for his comments about North Korean denuclearization.

    Bolton, who has extensively advocated for the US using military options against North Korea, recently said that the US should treat North Korea's disarmament like Libya's, something which preceded the death of Libya's former leader, Muammar Gaddafi.

    North Korean media shot back on Tuesday, calling the comparison "absolutely absurd"  and expressing a "feeling of repugnance towards" Bolton. 

    Bolton must have known the Libya comparison carried dark connotations for North Korea, but he said it anyway, despite the fact that North Korea and Libya have extremely different weapons programs and geopolitical situations.

    But according to experts, Bolton may have been trying both to provoke North Korea and over-inflate Trump's expectations in a bid t0 sabotage future peace talks.

    Jeffrey Lewis, a top North Korea expert, said on his Arms Control Wonk podcast that Bolton is "trying to sabotage" the Trump-Kim summit "by talking about a Libya-style deal."

    According to Lewis, Bolton is trying to "push the president to expect that when he shows up for that summit meeting, Kim is going to tell him where all the weapons are and encourage him to get on a plane to pick them up."

    Lewis maintains that the talks will not be so easy, and that North Korea's promises thus far disguise true, more shrewd intentions. 

    Another common talking point among North Korea experts is that inflated expectations over the summits could lead to disaster when one or both parties find out the other isn't willing to give as much as the media or the South Korean go-between indicated. 

    The White House downplayed Bolton's comments after North Korea lashed out, with press secretary Sarah Sanders saying on Wednesday of Bolton's "Libya Model": "I haven't seen that as part of any discussions so I'm not aware that that's a model that we're using."

    SEE ALSO: Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un could end in catastrophe — but that may be the point

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Kim Jong Un

    • North Korea flipped on the US on Tuesday with a sudden series of statements bashing President Donald Trump's administration.
    • It came not long after a vaunted peace summit between Kim Jong Un and Trump was announced.
    • The complaints Pyongyang made are in some respects difficult to take seriously — and may not be the real reason they're complaining.
    • Recent reports say that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked North Korea to send some of its nuclear weapons overseas for dismantlement.
    • That would be a much large step toward disarming than Pyongyang has taken before.
    • If the US insisted on that demand, it would either prove that Kim Jong Un is sincere — or call his bluff. 
    • If North Korea never wanted to actually denuclearize, and has only been playing along to gain international support, then this has been a big win for Kim.


    North Korea flipped on the US on Tuesday with a series of statements bashing President Donald Trump's administration and actions seemingly out of nowhere — but it may be because the US called its bluff.

    Media from Pyongyang on Tuesday complained about a host of issues. They objected to the US demanding the complete denuclearization of North Korea, about unsavory comments made by Trump officials, and about US and South Korean military drills.

    But all of those issues are old news, and there may well be a different strategy at play.

    The US has always demanded North Korea denuclearize if it wants to normalize relations and talk. The comment National Security Adviser John Bolton made about Libya which seemed to set North Korea off happened weeks ago.

    The specific military drill North Korea threatened to cancel its meeting with Trump over had already been going on for days, and before that, two other massive drills had taken place in April and May with hardly a peep from Pyongyang.

    In past months, Kim reportedly said he "understands" why the drills are going on, and went forward with peace talks without asking for them to be toned down.

    North Korea complained specifically about B-52 nuclear-capable bombers taking part in the military drills. But a Pentagon official told Business Insider that the bombers were never slated to participate in the drills.

    Additionally, North Korea invited journalists to observe the closure of its nuclear testing site after the drills had already begun

    But there is a possible motivation for North Korea's apparent about-face: The US reportedly demanded swift action on denuclearization, and North Korea might be bluffing.

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered to take North Korea off the state sponsors of terror list if it would ship some of its missiles and nuclear warheads overseas within six months, Japan's Asahi newspaper reported. 

    Asahi's report follows Bolton suggesting North Korean nukes go to a nuclear facility in Oakridge, Tennessee and South Korean media reporting that Pompeo asked Kim to send five nuclear devices to France to be dismantled

    If Kim Jong Un went through with that, then the US would consider issuing a joint statement with Pyongyang guaranteeing Kim's regime's safety, the Asahi said.  

    "The US is trumpeting as if it would offer economic compensation and benefit in case we abandon nuke," one of Pyongyang's rebuking statements said. 

    Did the US call North Korea's bluff?

    Hwasong 15 North Korean missile (ICBM)

    For North Korea, handing over even a few of its limited nuclear warheads to US control would represent a concrete step towards denuclearizing, and would demonstrate its sincerity to the US.

    For the US, asking to get its hands on North Korean nukes before the summit either proves Kim is for real or calls his bluff. 

    Until now, North Korea has only offered reversible denuclearization steps, like destroying a test site that it can simply fix later. 

    The US insists on a front-loaded approach to denuclearization, where North Korea starts tearing down its nuclear infrastructure before the US eases of sanctions and international pressure.

    Pyongyang did not object to these consistent demands until Tuesday, when the historic summit between Kim and Trump was less than a month away.

    If North Korea wasn't serious about denuclearizing, then it's already won

    Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping shake hands

    Writing at NK News, Fyodor Tertitskiy, a North Korea expert concluded that Pyongyang's rebukes have two likely explanations. First, that Kim may be using complaints as a bargaining tool. Second, that Kim actually wants to scrap the summit under a believable pretext that makes the US look bad. 

    North Korea has frequently expressed its desire to denuclearize and make peace in 2018, but it has done so several times in the past as well — and always pulled out at the last moment.

    Experts who spoke to Business Insider consistently point to the real possibility that Kim does not want to part with his nuclear arsenal, and is merely playing the US by going along with its demands while improving relations with major trading partners.

    "North Korea has already broken the solidarity behind US sanctions by warming relations with China and South Korea," Phillip Lipscy, a Political Scientist at Stanford University wrote on the news app Newspicks.

    "At this point, if they can walk away from US negotiations and put the blame on Trump, they've achieved victory."

    SEE ALSO: Trump's national security adviser John Bolton has advocated bombing North Korea — and he may be sabotaging talks

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    BEIJING (Reuters) - China's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that no country, organization, company or individual can carry out oil and gas exploration or exploitation in Chinese waters without permission from Beijing.

    Ministry spokesman Lu Kang made the comment at a regular news briefing when asked about recent drilling by Rosneft Vietnam BV, a unit of Russian state oil firm Rosneft, in an area of the South China Sea that is claimed by China.

    "We urge relevant parties to earnestly respect China's sovereign and jurisdictional rights and not do anything that could impact bilateral relations or this region's peace and stability," Lu said.

     

    SEE ALSO: 'Permanent cure': Inside the re-education camps China is using to brainwash Muslims

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    kim jong un moon jae in

    • North Korea's top negotiator called South Korea's government "ignorant and incompetent" on Thursday in the latest installment of Pyongyang lashing out at the US and Seoul for essentially carrying out business as usual.
    • While North Korea commonly complains about US and South Korean military drills, which it sees as a rehearsal for invasion, the timing of the recent complaints struck many as odd.
    • North Korea had been pushing diplomacy and saying it would denuclearize while the military drill was going on, until suddenly stopping on Tuesday, when it began to complain and make threats. 

    North Korea's top negotiator called South Korea's government "ignorant and incompetent" on Thursday in the latest installment of Pyongyang lashing out at the US and Seoul for essentially carrying out business as usual.

    Ri Son Gwon, the North Korean negotiator, slammed South Korea for participating in military drills with the US, following up a series of statements on Tuesday when Pyongyang canceled talks with Seoul and threatened to cancel a planned summit with President Donald Trump.

    While North Korea commonly complains about US and South Korean military drills, which it sees as a rehearsal for invasion, the timing of the recent complaints struck many as odd.

    The drills in question, called Max Thunder, have been going on since May 11. North Korea endured four solid days of the drills before saying anything about them. In fact, one day into the drills, North Korea announced it would invite foreign journalists to cover the destruction of its nuclear test site. 

    But on Tuesday, that all changed with North Korea slamming the drills and their inclusion of the US's B-52 nuclear-capable bomber, something which regional media had reported. The Pentagon told Business Insider that the B-52s were never scheduled to take part in the drills.

    Before Max Thunder, two other massive drills had taken place in April and May with hardly a peep from Pyongyang.

    In past months, Kim, who reportedly said he "understands" why the drills were going on, had gone forward with peace talks without asking for them to be toned down.

    Nevertheless, North Korea cited the drills as its main reason for canceling talks with South Korea.

    "Unless the serious situation which led to the suspension of the north-south high-level talks is settled, it will never be easy to sit face to face again with the present regime of South Korea," Ri said, according to Reuters

    In a separate statement from North Korean media, Pyongyang said it couldn't open up its country or work with others.

    "It is a lesson shown by the past history that it would never be possible to write a new history of opening up the prospect of the country and nation even though we may sit with those without trust and confidence and without manners," it wrote.

    Kim, what are you doing?

    Moon Kim sign

    Kim Jong Un began and led his country toward peace and diplomacy with South Korea and the US beginning in his 2018 New Years' address. Since then, he's put on a spectacular diplomatic offensive and made history by leaving his country for the first time since taking power to meet at least twice with China's President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

    But since Tuesday, North Korea has begun a marked backslide towards the old rhetoric of hostilities, and it all kicked off with a meltdown over days-old military drills. 

    As for why North Korea may have went back to tough talking points, read here

    SEE ALSO: 

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What will probably happen with the North and South Korean peace treaty


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    Hwasong-15 missile North Korean

    • President Donald Trump issued a strange and threatening ultimatum to Kim Jong Un on Thursday.
    • It was in response to North Korea complaining about US demands for them to denuclearize.
    • Trump essentially compared North Korea to Libya, and told Kim that he could either denuclearize his country or face war with the US.
    • North Korea recently flipped on the US by bashing Trump's administration and its policies, and Trump has gone back to hawkish rhetoric just as fast.
    • The episode should remind us that, as long as North Korea has nuclear weapons, we are a hair's breadth from nuclear war. 


    President Donald Trump addressed a key North Korean complaint yesterday, ahead of a planned, historic summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un.

    But in doing so he recalled the verbal threats that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war in 2017.

    Asked about National Security Adviser John Bolton's comment that the White House was looking at a "Libya model" for denuclearizing North Korea, something to which North Korea responded angrily, Trump essentially issued an ultimatum: Denuclearize or die.

    The ultimatum was clear, but Trump's understanding of the history of disarmament in Libya was not.

    "The model, if you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation," said Trump. "We went in there to beat him."

    The US and other nations agreed with Libya in 2003 to remove Muammar Gaddafi's nascent nuclear weapons program and his chemical weapons.

    Gaddafi gained international acceptance as a result, and ruled for eight more years until a popular uprising plunged his country into civil war.

    The US, along with NATO allies, then backed the uprising against him, and attacked Gaddafi's forces, but did not kill Gaddafi.

    Though the US strikes were effective, they were focused and did not "decimate" the country in the way that, say, North Korea was decimated by US bombers in the Korean War. 

    Gaddafi died within six months of the US intervention, but it was his own people who killed him after finding his hideout and dragging him through the streets.

    Bolton's original comments about a "Libya model" appeared to address the disarmament in 2003, while Trump on Thursday appeared to address Gaddafi's death in 2011, something North Korea has picked up on and responded to.

    Trump's idea of a "Libya model," which involves national devastation for the country, "would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely," said Trump. "But if we make a deal, I think Kim Jong-un is going to be very, very happy."

    Return to fire and fury

    Donald Trump

    On Monday, the US and North Korea were going into their fourth month of warming relation, preparing for a summit with Kim to discuss peace and possible denuclearization.

    On Tuesday, North Korea threatened to back out of the talks, spewed vitriolic anti-US rhetoric, and reasserted itself as a nuclear power.

    By Thursday, Trump was back to talking about decimation, and framing North Korea's future as a choice between death or denuclearization.

    Both Trump and Kim have incentives to keep the summit and peace push on track. But, as Trump's comments on Thursday show, despite the hand-holding and peace talks, almost nothing has changed in North Korea, or with Trump.

    Experts warn that a Trump-Kim summit carries huge risk. If the summit fails to achieve peace and agreement, the highest card in both countries' diplomatic decks have been played, and all that remains is confrontation. 

    So far, 2018 has been almost totally clear of nuclear brinkmanship between Trump and Kim, but Thursday should remind us that as long as North Korea has nuclear weapons, the US stands a hair's breadth from war. 

    SEE ALSO: Trump says he would protect Kim Jong Un if North Korea agreed to get rid of nukes

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    B 1 takeoff RF15 2

    • The B-1B Lancer bomber already carries more weapons than any of its counterparts. But officials are exploring the possibility of adding a cannon to its arsenal.
    • Experts say the proposed enhancement may be speaking to what troops on the ground really want: air support with eyes on the target.
    • But operating the Lancer costs $82,777 per flight hour, according to published 2016 operational costs for the aircraft, so it might not be practical for a job that the A-10 Warthog can do cheaply. 

    The B-1B Lancer bomber already carries more weapons than any of its counterparts. But officials are exploring the possibility of adding a cannon to its arsenal.

    Boeing Co. has been granted a patent for a cannon that could enhance the aircraft's ability to take on more close-air support roles. The patent, U.S. 9,963,231 B2, shows various mounts for the gun, which would retract into the aircraft's belly.

    The company is exploring the possibility of mounting different types of weapons. "A weapon may include or correspond to a machine gun, a chain gun, a cannon, an autocannon, a rail gun, a projectile firing device, or a laser weapon," the patent states.

    "By mounting the weapons system within a weapons bay, the aircraft may operate at supersonic speeds when the weapons system is retracted, extended, or both," it continues. "By including a weapons system on board an aircraft, functionality of the aircraft may increase and the aircraft may gain additional capabilities. For example, a bomber may be able to provide close-air support or better support ground troops."

    Related content:

    B-1B Lancer

    Experts say the proposed enhancement may be speaking to what troops on the ground really want: air support with eyes on the target.

    This "really seems to go back to the ground forces not trusting precision-guided munitions,"

    said one defense analyst in Washington, D.C.

    "The whole argument in favor of the A-10 is that the ground forces want whoever is providing fire to have eyes on the target," the source told Military.com on background Wednesday.

    "They don't trust that a precision-guided weapon from a Reaper [drone], F-16, B-1 or whatever is going to hit the right target at the right time and not hit them. They want guns with the operators overhead," the expert said.

    The source cited a June 9, 2014, incident in Afghanistan in which a B-1 crew dropped two 500-pound bombs overtop of five U.S. soldiers and one Afghan soldier near Arghandab. The soldiers, including two Green Berets, died in the accident.

    "The Air Force sees a future where they're just putting weapons on specified coordinates. The ground folks have no confidence in that," the expert said.

    The B-1 community has recently highlighted how the long-range bomber can support a CAS mission.

    "If I'm talking to a guy on the ground and I have my sensor on him ... we can drop weapons seven miles away, or we can drop lower, drop them closer," said Lt. Col. Dominic "Beaver" Ross, director of operations for the 337th Test and Evaluations Squadron. "We're not going to drop them as low as an A-10, but we are going to do shows of force where we're 500 feet overtop of their head."

    Military.com sat down with Ross, and other Global Strike Command officials during a trip to the

    Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and took a ride in the B-1B over training ranges in New Mexico in December.

    Coordinating targets in such a manner is helped by the B-1B's Integrated Battle Station, known as the IBS upgrade, and the Sustainment-Block 16 (SB-16) upgrade, which give pilots and backseaters -- the offensive and defensive positions in the cockpit -- more situational awareness, with enhanced cockpit displays and data and coordinate sharing.

    During Military.com's Dec. 19 flight, the SB-16 system showed enhanced communications and data-sharing techniques, including the military grid reference system and tech displays that enabled pilots and crew to instantaneously send target coordinates, weapons information, altitudes, speeds -- even the aircraft's call sign.

    Adding a cannon to the aircraft could also reduce the number of precision-guided bombs released, cutting the Air Force's expenses in the long run.

    "The gun on the bomber is a way of having a gun with long loiter time that can get where it needs to get quickly," the defense analyst said. "But it's also preferred (by some) to the same bomber releasing a PGM."

    While the Air Force could use its brand-new AC-130J Ghostrider gunship for a similar mission, putting a mounted gun on the B-1 could help stave off the bomber's retirement.

    "It certainly gives more range and speed for this capability," said Richard Aboulafia, vice president and analyst at the Teal Group. "If it does its part in keeping the B-1 in service longer, then the concept has merit."

    The Air Force has already set in motion plans to retire its B-2 Spirit and Lancer bombers in the 2030s as it builds up its new B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber fleet. The Lancers will stick around until at least 2036, enough time to bring in new pilots, train them and have them fly for at least 15 years.

    The B-1B might be too expensive for close air support

    a-10

    But Aboulafia thinks expense will probably prevent the cannon from ever becoming a reality for the B-1.

    While an actual dollar figure remains unknown, given "the expense relative to the likely lifespan of the B-1, the odds are against it," he said. "Given the expense of the aircraft, that's unlikely."

    Operating the Lancer costs $82,777 per flight hour, according to published 2016 operational costs for the aircraft.

    Boeing will nevertheless proceed with the concept to prototype options.

    "There are currently no plans or customer requirements to install this specific system. However, the USAF has asked Boeing to innovate and Boeing is responding," Boeing spokeswoman Lori Rasmussen told Military.com on Monday.

    "When our teams bring forward ideas that could have future value for our customers, we will submit a patent application, even when there is no explicit customer requirement for the innovation," she said.

    SEE ALSO: Trump's latest threat to Kim Jong Un reminds us all that we are a hair's breadth from nuclear war

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    china H-6K

    • Beijing upped the ante in the South China Sea on Friday by releasing footage of its H-6K nuclear-capable bombers landing on artificially made islands in disputed waters — and it sends a clear message of who dominates the region.
    • China has taken an increasingly aggressive stance to back up its unilateral, illegal claims to the waters of the South China Sea, where trillions in international trade pass through every year.
    • Flying bombers in and out proves China runs the show, and nobody will fight them over it because there's too much at stake.

    Beijing upped the ante in the South China Sea on Friday by releasing footage of its H-6K nuclear-capable bombers landing on artificially made islands in disputed waters — and it sends a clear message of who dominates the region.

    China has taken an increasingly aggressive stance to back up its unilateral claims to the waters of the South China Sea, where trillions in international trade pass through every year.

    The US frequently challenges China's maritime claims there, which have been ruled illegal under international law, but recent moves from Beijing show that facts in the water have outpaced US determination. 

    The flight of the bombers comes after China reportedly deployed missiles and radar-jamming equipment to the islands.

    south china sea

    "The Chinese are becoming more confident with the deployment of their capabilities," Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Business Insider.

    China has begun to doubt "the staying power of the US and whether or not the US can really make a difference," in its slow moving domination of the waters, Glaser said.

    In militarizing the South China Sea, Beijing has gone back on past promises and acted directly against international law, the wishes of the US, and the moves of the US Navy

    "The Chinese are becoming clearer, less concerned about their reactions from their neighbors or the US, or, put differently, they think they can manage those," Glaser said.

    Beijing has increasingly bullied and bossed around its neighbors in regard to the contested waters, recently saying that all South China Sea drilling and fishing activities need to first seek its permission

    Not a strategic deployment, but a strategic message

    Satellite photo shows Chinese-controlled North Island, part of the Paracel Islands group in the South China Sea, on September 29, 2017. Planet Labs/Handout via REUTERS

    Though China has built hardened aircraft carriers on its artificial South China Sea islands, the small bases don't make sense for long-term deployment of nuclear-capable aircraft. Stationing high-value targets like nuclear-capable bombers in the middle of the South China Sea exposes them to US missile fires and isolates them from much of the support infrastructure they'd need to function.

    "Simply by being there and having stuff coming and going, they can dominate the region," associate fellow Bill Hayton of Chatham House's Asia-Pacific Programme told Business Insider. Hayton called the announcement of the bombers and other steps toward militarization "a way that China can dominate the region and its natural resources."

    Although the US and China's neighbors disagree with Beijing's stance and want the waters to remain free and international, "nobody is going to shoot at them to start a war with them, because who wants to do that," Hayton said.

    Instead, China landing nuclear-capable bombers on artificial islands it said it wouldn't militarize mainly functions to send a message to its neighbors and the US — Beijing has, for now, won the battle of the South China Sea without firing a shot. 

    Watch video of the H-6Ks in the South China Sea below:

     

    SEE ALSO: Trump's latest threat to Kim Jong Un reminds us all that we are a hair's breadth from nuclear war

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    The Conversation

    training virtual reality US military defense terrorism augmented reality.JPG

    • Counter-terrorism is one of many fields advancing training programs with the implementation of augmented and virtual reality technology
    •  Virtual reality allows trainees to perform exercises within virtual reconstructions of the real world while interacting with virtual civilians and terrorists.
    • Augmented reality allows trainees to see and interact with virtual terrorists and civilians within the real world.
    • Both technologies help trainees improve their decision making and gives them experience performing in stressful situations.

    What if you could save an airport from terrorists, escape insurgents in South Sudan, and rescue civilians in an underground station all in one morning? With modern technology, the ability to recreate these scenarios within virtual and augmented reality is here, and we’re using it to help train counter-terrorism officers and aid workers.

    Historically, such training would be provided through classroom and online exercises and real-world training scenarios. But with these new technologies we’re able to enhance decision making, situational awareness and emotional resilience during dangerous, threat-to-life scenarios. Working alongside law enforcement agencies and United Nations organisations, our research into the use of serious games has led to us being able to successfully apply it to security training.

    Often people get confused between virtual and augmented reality. During a virtual reality experience, you enter a digital world that becomes all you can see. In contrast, augmented reality projects digital information over the real world. So, augmented reality can be anything from a projection of a clock in front of you to catching a Pokemon on the bus.

    Counter-terrorism

    The AUGGMED (Automated Serious Game Scenario Generator for Mixed Reality Training) project has developed an online multi-user training platform for joint first responder and counter-terrorism training. Virtual reality allows trainees to perform exercises within virtual reconstructions of the real world while interacting with virtual civilians and terrorists. However, augmented reality allows trainees to see and interact with virtual terrorists and civilians within the real world. Both technologies enable trainees to improve their decision making and gives them experience of performing within stressful situations.

    In March 2018, security officers with the Piraeus Port Authority in Greece used AUGGMED to train for potential terrorist-related threats. Using augmented reality, on-site trainees in Piraeus worked alongside other trainees working remotely who were experiencing and responding to the same scenario through virtual reality. Together they had to effectively respond to a terrorist incident. This meant they had to assess the nature of the incident, before ensuring the safety of nearby civilians and neutralising the threat.

    Trainees from multiple agencies can train simultaneously and this enables collaborative training between different disciplines, such as the police force, security personnel and paramedics. AUGGMED has been used to improve emergency service work across Europeand has been used by British police officers for critical incident response training.

    terrorism incidents are increasing around the world

    With the number of terrorist-related incidents increasing, and the method of attacks evolving, regular proactive training that responds to these changing threats is becoming a necessity. Virtual reality helps to bridge this gap by providing a cost-effective and rapid training solution, and it is being used across the world from New Zealand to Singapore.

    Humanitarian agencies

    Non-governmental organisations and humanitarian agencies are also exploring the use of VR to improve training. In 2017, we created a VR training simulation for the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM). This Advanced Training, Learning And Scenario (ATLAS) simulation was designed to train civilian staff who work in dangerous environments to respond effectively to life-threatening situations.

    Trainees experience a convoy attack and have to assess and respond to the situation effectively to survive. As part of the simulation, trainees are expected to identify the threat and find the safest method of escape. The simulation was commissioned following increased hostile activity against aid convoys and specifically an attack which killed two members of IOM in South Sudan.

    virtual reality training US military defense technology.JPG

    The future of training

    As serious games and virtual reality technologies become standardised and accessible, their uses and benefits for training and learning are becoming more apparent. While certain sectors such as military and aviation have already been using these technologies for quite some time, it is only now that discussions around the usage of virtual and augmented reality technologies has reached the more traditional sectors such as law enforcement, construction and even food safety.

    In the future, the use of modern technologies to improve and augment existing practices will become commonplace. While digital learning has begun the move from standard classroom-based training to the digital landscape, virtual reality won’t be far behind to supplement real world scenario training thanks to its cost effectiveness and proven benefits to learning and knowledge retention.

    Serious games and virtual reality will one day be ubiquitous within training packages. But before then, the benefits of these technologies need to be explored and discussed further, because they hold remarkable potential.

    SEE ALSO: The Navy could use augmented reality in training with these smart glasses

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    South China Sea

    • The Philippines expressed "serious concerns" over the presence of China's strategic bombers in the disputed South China Sea and its foreign ministry has taken "appropriate diplomatic action."
    • China's air force said bombers such as the H-6K had landed and taken off from islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of training exercises last week, drawing angry reactions from opposition lawmakers in Manila.
    • However, the foreign ministry stopped short of condemning China's action, which Washington said could raise tension and destabilize the region.

    MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippines expressed "serious concerns" over the presence of China's strategic bombers in the disputed South China Sea and its foreign ministry has taken "appropriate diplomatic action", the spokesman of President Rodrigo Duterte said on Monday.

    China's air force said bombers such as the H-6K had landed and taken off from islands and reefs in the South China Sea as part of training exercises last week, drawing angry reactions from opposition lawmakers in Manila. The United States also sent ships to the disputed areas.

    The Philippines could not independently verify the presence of Chinese bombers in the South China Sea, said presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

    "But we take note of the reports that appeared and we express our serious concerns anew on its impact to efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region," Roque told a regular media briefing at the presidential palace.

    The Department of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines said it was monitoring developments.

    "We are taking the appropriate diplomatic action necessary to protect our claims and will continue to do so in the future," it said in a statement, but it did not elaborate.

    However, the foreign ministry stopped short of condemning China's action, which Washington said could raise tension and destabilize the region.

    In Beijing, a foreign ministry spokesman urged other countries not to over-interpret what he called a routine military patrol.

    "We hope that relevant parties do not read too much into this," Lu Kang told a daily news briefing.

    China claims almost the entire South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which about $3 trillion worth of sea-borne goods pass every year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have conflicting claims in the area.

    China has built seven artificial islands in the Spratlys group in the South China Sea and turned them into military outposts with airfields, radars, and missile defenses.

    Beijing says its military facilities in the Spratlys are purely defensive and it can do what it likes on its own territory.

    Roque and foreign ministry officials said Manila would raise China's moves to militarize its manmade islands in the Spratlys during two-way consultations in China set for the second half of the year.

    Lawmakers in the Philippines have criticized Duterte for setting aside an arbitration ruling by the Hague the country won in 2016. Former foreign minister Albert del Rosario has urged Duterte to "revisit" the country's foreign policy.

    "We are opposed to war - as we should be. But if threatened by the use of force, we should be ready to inflict, at the very least, a bloody nose on any attacker who is out to harm us," Del Rosario said in a statement.

    Duterte has said he would not risk a confrontation with China and has reiterated his openness to joint exploration and development in waters believed to be rich in oil and natural gas.

    SEE ALSO: Beijing lands nuclear bombers in the South China Sea in a clear sign that it's pushed out the US without firing a shot

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    trump china visit

    • President Donald Trump called out China for having a "porous" border with North Korea ahead of a planned summit with Kim Jong Un on Twitter on Monday, and he highlighted a major danger of the talks in doing so.
    • Trump's comments follow a rash of reports that Chinese companies have increased trade with North Korea or even helped them skirt sanctions by allowing its ships near its ports.
    • If Kim's diplomacy has bought him more support, specifically economic support from China and South Korea becoming less willing to adhere to sanctions, then he's gained a massive boost for the talks.
    • If Kim drives a wedge between Washington and Beijing, there's little else Trump can do to pressure North Korea besides war.

    President Donald Trump called out China on Monday for having a "porous" border with North Korea ahead of a planned summit with Kim Jong Un, and he highlighted a major danger of the talks in doing so.

    "China must continue to be strong & tight on the Border of North Korea until a deal is made. The word is that recently the Border has become much more porous and more has been filtering in. I want this to happen, and North Korea to be VERY successful, but only after signing!" Trump tweeted.

    Trump's comments follow a rash of reports that Chinese companies have increased trade with North Korea or even helped them skirt sanctions by allowing its ships near its ports.

    The Sino-North Korean border, just months ago an area devastated by the lack of cross-border trade due to harsh US-led sanctions, has now economically perked up, with home prices on the Chinese side climbing up to 50%, according to Reuters.

    While any increased trade with North Korea would likely be illicit and clandestine, the diplomatic thaw in tensions has been plainly noticeable with Kim twice traveling to China to meet with President Xi Jinping.

    Trump touches on potential nightmare scenario with North Korea

    Kim Jong Un and Xi Jinping shake hands

    If Kim and Xi's meetings have indeed resulted in more economic support for North Korea, it could spell disaster for Trump's summit with Kim.

    So far, North Korea has only made vague promises that it would denuclearize, which is the US's precondition for talks. Based on this vague promise, Kim has attained summits with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Xi, resulting in warmer relations and more public support for Pyongyang.

    If Kim's diplomacy has bought him more support, specifically economic support from China and South Korea becoming less willing to adhere to sanctions, then he's gained a massive boost in talks.

    Rather than coming to Trump with the options of denuclearizing or facing united world pressure and isolation, Kim now can back out of the talks with increased support from China and possibly South Korea in his pocket.

    About 90% of North Korea's trade is with China, which alone could keep Kim's regime funded and in power. If Kim manages to drive a wedge between Washington and Beijing, Trump's only option for confronting North Korea may fall to military action.

    SEE ALSO: Trump is hyping up US-China trade talks — but even his supporters are bashing the deal

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    Donald Trump

    • President Donald Trump's planned summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un increasingly looks doomed.
    • Trump has often talked up his work on North Korea, crediting himself with creating the conditions for talks through a hardline policy, but his self-congratulatory tweets could come back to haunt him.
    • Trump is said to be ill-prepared for the summit and worried it could blow up in his face as an embarrassment.
    • South Korea may have misled Trump a bit, and North Korea is almost certainly misleading him.
    • North Korea experts fear that failed talks could lead the US to an even more militaristic path, possibly even to war against Kim

    President Donald Trump is less than one month away from making history as the first sitting US president to meet a sitting North Korean leader — but it's increasingly looking as if he's ill-prepared and sailing toward embarrassment.

    Trump has of late talked up his work on North Korea, crediting himself with creating the conditions for talks through a hardline policy. But that self-congratulation could come back to haunt him.

    North Korea has this year pursued diplomacy with its neighbors on the back of a vague promise to denuclearize. Pyongyang's apparent wish to make peace with Seoul after Trump's nuclear brinkmanship throughout last year shocked much of the world and has generated Nobel Peace Prize buzz for the president.

    But now Trump worries his meeting with Kim Jong Un "could turn into a political embarrassment,"The New York Times' David Sanger reported, citing administration officials.

    Earlier this month, with only weeks until the historic summit, North Korea flipped on the US and South Korea, blasting them both with a series of complaints that seemed like a tantrum.

    Sanger reported that Trump had questioned whether he should even go through with the summit and hastily spoke on the phone with South Korean President Moon Jae-in for reassurance.

    Trump has so far stayed the course with the summit, which would represent a major part of his foreign-policy accomplishments as president. For Kim, meeting a US president is a legitimizing win, lending his country previously unattainable international credibility.

    But instead of Kim hoping the US grants him that legitimacy, it now appears Trump is the one trying to hold onto a meeting that North Korea appears willing to ditch.

    Additionally, Trump is reportedly not thrilled about preparing for the summit, which is expected to cover not only the issue of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula but virtually every major flashpoint in East Asian geopolitics.

    Time quoted a senior administration official as saying Trump "doesn't think he needs to" prepare that much for the summit with Kim.

    Trump may have been misled

    Trump South Korea Moon

    But if Trump is ill-prepared for the summit and it does blow up in his face, he can share some of the blame.

    "It increasingly looks like the Moon administration overstated North Korea's willingness to deal,"said Robert Kelly, a political-science professor who's an expert on North Korea.

    He added: "Moon likely exaggerated this to tie Trump to a diplomatic track to prevent him from backsliding into last year's war-threats which scared the daylights out of South Koreans. If Trump were less vain and had allowed his national security staff to vet the NK offer, he might have learned this."

    It has been reported that Trump came dangerously close to striking North Korea last year. In doing so, he may have scared South Korea, not North Korea, into negotiations.

    South Korea has reasons to push for diplomacy with North Korea, not least of which is that its citizens would be likely to bear the brunt of the suffering and death if war broke out.

    The stuff could hit the fan

    north korea missile launch

    On June 12 in Singapore, Trump is set to face a task like never before in meeting Kim.

    North Korea has measurably gained from its diplomatic offensive by forging closer ties with China — and, as Trump has acknowledged, seemed to get Beijing to ease off sanctions. Trump's main achievement on North Korea thus far has been getting China to adhere to international sanctions.

    Kim's unwinding Trump's win on the North Korea front with a sophisticated diplomatic ruse could prove embarrassing to Trump before the midterm elections later this year, when he'll look for a boost for the Republican Party.

    North Korea experts fear that failed talks could lead the US to an even more militaristic path, possibly even to war against Kim.

    Trump's newly appointed national security adviser, John Bolton, has long advocated war with North Korea — and has been partly blamed for the recent collapse in diplomatic progress.

    SEE ALSO: Trump calls out China for helping North Korea — and it highlights how Kim Jong Un is winning the talks

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    north korea nuclear test site

    • North Korea will destroy a nuclear test site in front of a handful of foreign journalists on Tuesday.
    • North Korea is making a big story out of destroying a test site that doesn't actually mean that much.
    • This helps create a narrative of denuclearization, while refusing to give up its actual nukes. 
    • It follows Pyongyang taking a much more aggressive line with South Korea and the US.
    • Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are meeting to discuss North Korea on Tuesday.


    North Korea will destroy a nuclear test site in front of a handful of foreign journalists on Tuesday — a move which lets it shape a narrative of cooperating with the US without actually removing its nuclear capabilities.

    Foreign journalists from the US, China, and Russia arrived in North Korea on Tuesday to report on the destruction of an underground site that Pyongyang has repeatedly rocked with nuclear detonation tests. 

    At the same time, President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are meeting behind the scenes to discuss what to make of Kim Jong Un's new, aggressive tone.

    The destruction of the test site, in Wonsan, represents denuclearization North Korea's way, meaning it isn't permanent, verifiable, irreversible, or complete.

    North Korea intends to make a big show of dismantling its test site by collapsing access tunnels, but it can always build more tunnels, dig the tunnels back out again, or test somewhere else.

    Additionally, if North Korea has completed its nuclear program, which it says it has, it no longer needs an active test site anyway. The US has maintained nuclear weapons without nuclear testing for decades. 

    The US has demanded that North Korea denuclearize in more concrete ways, like by sending missiles and nuclear devices overseas for irreversible dismantlement, but that doesn't seem to have gone down well with Pyongyang.

    Additionally, North Korea has been lashing out at the US, and also South Korea, whose journalists were banned from covering the event. 

    Trump and Moon try to save the summit

    Donald Trump Moon Jae in

    While the world watches North Korea's staged show of denuclearization, Trump and Moon will meet at the White House to discuss the upcoming summit with Kim Jong Un, and North Korea's recent harsh words. 

    Until mid-May, North Korea had made generous promises to denuclearize, asking nothing in return. Recently, media from Pyongyang changed their stance, and began again saying how vital its nuclear weapons are. 

    This change in attitude from Pyongyang prompted Moon to meet with Trump for their talk on Tuesday. 

    Since North Korea's return to hostile talk, Trump has reportedly considered dropping out of the summit, and offered back some strong words of his own, implying the US could "decimate" North Korea if no deal is reached.

    But with North Korea improving its ties with China after the Trump-Kim summit's announcement, it's possible that Kim could now back out of the summit and attempt to paint Trump as the belligerent one. 

    North Korea is outwardly embracing denuclearization with a showy destruction of a probably meaningless nuclear site, while directly communicating to South Korea and the US that it won't disarm.

    By doing so, it has ripped the narrative of denuclearization from Trump's hands and turned it towards its own ends. 

    SEE ALSO: Trump calls out China for helping North Korea — and it highlights how Kim Jong Un is winning the talks

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    F 35I top

    • Isreal used its US-made F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jet in combat in the raging air war over Syria, making it the first country to ever to do so, its military confirmed on Tuesday.
    • The F-35s took part in a major air battle in which Israel took out Russian-made defense systems in Syria, according to a former Israeli Air Force brigadier general.
    • The presence of F-35s in the battle means that the US's newest stealth fighter may have come head to head with Russia's lauded missile defenses — and won. 

    Isreal used its US-made F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jet in combat in the raging air war over Syria, making it the first country to ever to do so, its military confirmed on Tuesday.

    "The Adir planes are already operational and flying in operational missions. We are the first in the world to use the F-35 in operational activity," Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, commander of the Israeli Air Force said, referring to the Israeli version of the F-35 as the Adir.

    "We are flying the F-35 all over the Middle East and have already attacked twice on two different fronts," Norkin told a meeting of air force chiefs in Israel, as Reuters notes. 

    Shlomo Brom, a retired brigadier general in the Israeli Air Force, told Business Insider that one of those fronts was over Syria after Iranian forces fired rockets towards Israel and Israel's air force launched a blistering retaliation that killed dozens of Iranians and hit more than 50 individual targets.

    That specific air battle saw Israeli jets pound Russian-made Syrian air defenses that had been made to counter older jets like Israel's F-15 and F-16s. In February, during a similar battle, Israel lost an F-16 to Syrian air defenses. 

    "The Iranians fired 32 rockets, we intercepted four of them, and the rest fell outside Israeli territory," Norkin said of the battle. "In our response attack, more than 100 ground-to-air missiles were fired at our planes."

    The F-35 is the "ideal" platform for the congested skies over Syria, according to retired US Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Berke, a former F-35 squadron commander.

    F-35 vs. Russian defenses

    misile pantsir s1 syria israel

    Fighting over Syria often gets near Damascus, one of the more heavily protected cities in the world with powerful Russian missile defense batteries protecting its ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad.

    It's unclear whether Syrian or Russian defenses tracked or attempted to engage the F-35s, but the stealth jet makes itself difficult to find. 

    When Israel released video of one of its bombs destroying a Russian air defense system, Russian media offered excuses as to why it failed to stop the incoming missile. 

    Russia explained that the system was either not battle-ready or had run out of munitions. But Israel's announcement on Tuesday brings in a new possibility — that it had been bombed by the first combat deployment of the F-35.

    SEE ALSO: North Korea rips 'denuclearization' narrative from Trump with flashy, probably meaningless test-site destruction

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    trump and putin

    • President Donald Trump may have a chance to pull the US out of Syria now that Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on Iran to move out its forces as well.
    • Trump has long wanted to pull the US out of Syria, but likely couldn't because he'd be forfeiting the country to the same Iranian influence he hopes to counter.
    • Putin looks to have turned his back on Iran, and has asked them to leave Syria.

    President Donald Trump's administration has been puzzling for some time over a vital question — how to pull the US out of Syria without ceding the region to Iran.

    But now it looks like an unlikely figure, Russian President Vladimir Putin, has presented a solution.

    After withdrawing the US from the Iran nuclear deal, a move that largely isolated the US's Iran policy from the policies of other US allies, Trump's secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, laid out a unilateral list of demands for Tehran.

    Among the demands, which critics mocked as a pipe dream, was for Iran to pull its militias out of Syria.

    Iran has about 70,000 official uniformed and unofficially aligned militia fighters in Syria and a massive reported arsenal of over 100,000 missiles there. Iran's forces hope to reach Lebanon to support Hezbollah, an anti-Israel Shia Muslim militia that holds power there.

    Even before Pompeo's speech, the Trump administration had announced its intentions to shut out Iran in Syria

    Israel, predictably, refuses to let Iran creep through the fog of the Syrian war to its borders, and has hammered Iran's forces there with a continuous barrage of airstrikes. Israel has appeared to strike Iranian targets at will in Syria and has suffered minimal loses and blowback as a result. 

    In doing so, Israel has destroyed several Russian-made air defense systems and trampled over Syria's airspace. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met with Putin before major battles over Syria, and has seemingly gained his blessing in striking Iran.

    But on Saturday, Putin gave more than a quiet blessing, and outright called for Iranian and all foreign militias to leave Syria.

    Since Russia entered the Syrian conflict in late 2015, Syrian President Bashar Assad has beaten back the rebel and Islamist forces that threatened his grip on power. In the last few months, the remaining bits of opposition have largely collapsed.

    Now, Putin says its time for US, Turkish, and even Iranian forces to go as Syria seeks a political settlement. 

    Bring home the troops

    US Marine artillery syria

    While Putin calling on US forces to leave the Middle East isn't new, it's novel that he would tell Iran, his ally, to abandon its foreign policy goal of establishing influence from Tehran to Beirut. 

    Iran responded angrily, with its foreign ministry spokesperson saying "no one can force Iran to do anything,"the Times of Israel noted

    But Iran is getting consistently rocked by Israeli airstrikes in Syria. Russia has refused to provide advanced missile defenses to Syria to protect Iran, and short of unleashing Hezbollah for full-on war, it has few options.

    If Iran does eventually cede to Putin and Trump's demands and back out of Syria, it will provide the US a strong inflection point on which it can leave the country, having handily defeated ISIS there. 

    So the Trump policy that seemed like a pipe dream to some might just come true after strong Israeli opposition and Putin turning his back on Iran. 

    SEE ALSO: Israel's F-35s reportedly saw combat in a raging Syrian air war that smashed Russian defenses

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    Russia bulava slbm icbm submarine nuclear

    • Russia's navy put on a massive display of nuclear force by launching four Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles from the Yuri Dolgoruky, one of its first new nuclear-powered submarines since the Cold War.
    • The missiles, which have been tested from submarines before but never in a salvo of four, can each carry six to 10 independently targetable nuclear warheads with an explosive yield of 100 to 150 kilotons.
    • The US has no practical means to defend against these or any other ICBMs.

    Russia's navy put on a massive display of nuclear force by launching four Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles from the Yuri Dolgoruky, one of its first new nuclear-powered submarines since the Cold War.

    A video released by Russia's defense ministry showed the submarine firing a salvo of four of the missiles within seconds of each other.

    The missiles, which have been tested from submarines before but never in a salvo of four, can each carry six to 10 independently targetable nuclear warheads with an explosive yield of 100 to 150 kilotons, according to The Diplomat.

    That means that together the missiles fired by Russia had a minimum combine explosive potential of 2,400 kilotons, or about 160 times the destructive force that hit Hiroshima near the close of World War II, Hans Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project, estimated.

    The missiles launched from a submerged submarine that's designed to operate in near silence, meaning the vessels could be virtually anywhere in the ocean at any time.

    The US and Russia use nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed submarines to diversify its nuclear forces so that no one strike can ever disable the entire nuclear arsenal.

    Given the scale of Russia's nuclear arsenal, the US has no practical means to defend against these or any other ICBMs.

    The US also carries out routine testing of its nuclear systems, but rarely in salvos like Russia has.

    Watch the test fires below:

    SEE ALSO: Israel's F-35s reportedly saw combat in a raging Syrian air war that smashed Russian defenses

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    donald trump

    • President Donald Trump showed some flexibility in his previously hardline approach to North Korea on Thursday.
    • He admitted that his core demand may not be physically viable, the day after Pyongyang's harshest threats in months. 
    • Trump has long insisted that North Korea completely give up its nuclear weapons before the US will ease up on sanctions.
    • Trump admitted that may not be possible. 
    • His comments come a day after a North Korean official threatened the US with a "nuclear-to-nuclear showdown."

    President Donald Trump showed some flexibility in his previously hardline approach to North Korea on Thursday, by admitting that his core demand may not be physically possible.

    It comes the day after Pyongyang issued its harshest threats in months, raising the specter of a "nuclear-to-nuclear showdown."

    In an interview with the "FOX & Friends" talk show whether he would go through with the planned June 12th summit in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump gave noncommittal answers. 

    "We’ll see what happens. Right now we’re looking at it, we’re talking about it. And they’re talking to us. We have certain conditions. We’ll see what happens. But there’s a good chance," Trump said. 

    The summit, which would be a historic first meeting between a sitting US president and a North Korean leader, has been on the rocks. Pyongyang has produced harsh statements bashing Trump administration officials and South Korea, potentially threatening the event.

    On Thursday, North Korea destroyed parts of its nuclear testing site before a crowd of foreign journalists in an apparent show of goodwill.

    But the move doesn't rise to the level of the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization that Trump has previously insists on, since North Korea could simply rebuild the site. 

    Asked Thursday whether he would be ok with a "phased in" approach to denuclearizing North Korea, Trump showed flexibility where before there was none. 

    Trump and his top officials have long insisted that North Korea completely give up its nuclear weapons before the US eases up on economic sanctions and military pressure, but Trump admitted that may not be possible. 

    "I’d like to have it done immediately," Trump said of North Korea's proposed denuclearization. "But you know physically, a phase-in may be a little bit necessary, we will have to do a rapid phase in, but I’d like to see it done at one time."

    Trump's comments come a day after a North Korean official threatened the US with a "nuclear-to-nuclear showdown" and suggested Pyongyang could "make the U.S. taste an appalling tragedy" if things don't go its way.

    Though North Korea opened 2018 with many peaceful overtures and steps, it has recently taken a harsh turn towards criticizing US and South Korean actions and statements. It has also repeatedly threatened to withdraw from the upcoming summit.

    Trump has heralded his success in bringing North Korea to the table. But on Wednesday North Korea suggested it was Trump, not Kim, who had pushed for the summit. 

    While a phased approach to denuclearizing North Korea seems more realistic to experts who don't expect Pyongyang to unilaterally disarm, it's the same track taken by four successive US presidents that Trump has promised not to repeat. 

    SEE ALSO: North Korea claps back at Mike Pence's 'ignorant and stupid remarks,' leaving summit with the US hanging by a thread

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