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The latest news on Defense from Business Insider
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    US Navy uss lassen

    • The US warned Beijing on Thursday that it could take out its islands in the South China Sea as military tensions in the important waterway heat up.
    • China has flatly denied any militarization of its artificial South China Sea islands, even as it deploys missiles and lands nuclear-capable bombers there.
    • Increasingly, China is bullying its neighbors and taking small acts of military force against US allies.
    • The US has already said it won't stand for the Chinese Communist Party's doublespeak and has a legal case for using military force to protect freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

    The US issued a stark warning to Beijing on Thursday, as Chinese militarization of the South China Sea creates a potential flashpoint in a longstanding battle for control of the Pacific.

    For years, Beijing has dredged the South China Sea to build artificial islands in waters it claims as its territory.

    Six of China's neighbors also lay claim to conflicting patches of the South China Sea. The body of water is home to natural resources, and trillions of dollars' worth of trade passes through every year.

    In 2016, an international court ruled that China's claims to the precious waterway were illegal, but Beijing made a show of ignoring that ruling.

    It upped the ante this year by breaking a promise not to militarize the islands with missile deployments and with landing nuclear-capable bombers on the islands.

    On Thursday, the US reminded China of a "historical fact." Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the director of the Joint Staff, said "the United States military has had a lot of experience in the Western Pacific, taking down small islands."

    "We have a lot of experience, in the Second World War, taking down small islands that are isolated," McKenzie said. "So that's a — that's a core competency of the US military that we've done before. You shouldn't read anything more into that than a simple statement of historical fact."

    'Orwellian nonsense'

    South China Sea

    The US has been the main challenger to China's maritime claims and in doing so has provoked the bulk of Beijing's rage, which is often expressed in a kind of doublespeak common for the Chinese Communist Party.

    On Thursday, China's foreign ministry called US claims that Beijing was militarizing the islands "ridiculous" and compared them to "a case of a thief crying 'stop thief' to cover their misdeeds."

    But on the same day, the Chinese state media detailed plans to prepare a military response to US interference.

    The Global Times, a newspaper controlled by the Communist Party, wrote: "Aside from deploying defensive weapons on the Spratly Islands, China should build a powerful deterrence system, including an aerial base and a roving naval force and base."

    "How can anyone argue with a straight face?" Bonnie Glaser, the director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Business Insider. "How can anyone say this is not militarization? It's a patent lie." She said the ranges and functions of missiles China placed on the islands pointed to a clear military utility.

    The White House has addressed this kind of speak from China's Communist party before, calling it "Orwellian nonsense."

    War is here, if you want it

    China navy drill

    Beijing's militarization of the South China Sea isn't just a potential threat to the region. Beijing is already using hard power to force out other countries and assert its dominance.

    Most recently, on May 11 a Philippine navy ship was harassed by two Chinese vessels while trying to resupply Filipino marines in the disputed waters. A helicopter reportedly got dangerously close to the small, rubber Filipino ship and chased it off.

    south china sea

    "If the Chinese start blocking supply operations," the Filipino marines "could starve," Glaser said.

    The Philippines are a longtime US ally. The US has massive military bases there and a duty to protect it.

    Glaser said this was the first time the actual Chinese navy had announced involving itself in a patrol of the waters, marking an escalation of conflicts.

    "The other night, the president said if his troops are harmed, that could be his red line," President Rodrigo Duterte's national security adviser said of the South China Sea.

    It's unclear whether Duterte would enforce that red line, but the legal case and practical need for military conflict in the South China Sea are there.

    The US reminding China that it can destroy its islands there could be a sign of things to come as the Chinese Communist Party increasingly tries to flex its muscles against freedom of navigation.

    SEE ALSO: F-35 embarrassed by Tom Cruise's new 'Top Gun' movie going with its older competitor, the F-18

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    f35 israel

    • The US Senate passed a defense spending bill recently that sought to prevent Turkey from getting 100 F-35 stealth jets, and now it could turn to Russia for the Su-57.
    • Turkey has already agreed to buy one Russian weapons system, the S-400 missile defenses, which could give Moscow a window into NATO's defenses, which would be a nightmare for the alliance.
    • The Su-57 and Turkey's embrace of Russian military equipment both pose serious threats to NATO and its aircraft.

    The US Senate passed a defense spending bill recently that sought to prevent Turkey from getting the 100 F-35 stealth jets it ordered — and now Turkey could become the first buyer of Russia's Su-57 "stealth" jet killer. 

    The US and Turkey have a number of ongoing diplomatic beefs, including Turkey claiming that the US is harboring clerics that urged a 2016 coup and detaining US citizens, and the US is claiming Turkey is a hub of illicit financing.

    But on the military side, Turkey, a NATO ally, poses another threat by buying Russia's S-400 missile defense system.

    The S-400, one of the most advanced missile defense platforms around, is meant to engage and shoot down US jets, like the F-35, that rely on stealth.

    Retired US Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula told Business Insider that NATO countries "don't want to be networking in Russian systems into your air defenses" as it could lead to "technology transfer and possible compromises of F-35 advantages to the S-400."

    If Turkey owned the F-35 and the S-400, it would give Russia a window into NATO's missile defense network and the F-35's next-generation capabilities. Basically, as NATO is an alliance formed to counter Russia, letting Russia patch in would defeat the purpose and possibly blunt the military edge of the most expensive weapons system ever built. 

    So for now, it seems selling the F-35 to Turkey is out of the question, leaving another option for Turkey — Russia's Su-57 "stealth" fighter jet.

    "I don't want to be too cavalier here," said Deptula of the prospect of Turkey buying Russia's jets, "but what a joke. You got to be kidding me."

    One or the other

    Su-57

    Deptula cited the poor reputation of Russian aircraft, its maintenance records, reliability, and their ability to network with NATO systems as reasons why buying Su-57s wouldn't make sense. Deptula is not alone in disapproving of the Su-57, as India backed out of its cooperation in the project.

    "If they bought the Su-57s and the S-400, those steps are incompatible with them buying the F-35. It's going to be either or," said Deptula. "And given the track record of Russian advanced aircraft, not a good move."

    But despite the unproven nature of Russia's new fighter jet, a close review of recent photos of the plane by Business Insider revealed it's a direct competitor for US stealth jets like the F-22 and F-35. 

    So Turkey getting Su-57s would, for military and diplomatic reasons, present a nightmare scenario for NATO's security.

    SEE ALSO: F-35 embarrassed by Tom Cruise's new 'Top Gun' movie going with its older competitor, the F-18

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    China dark sword drone

    • China released images of a new, unmanned, stealth-fighter-style jet, and they present a shocking look into how close Beijing has come to unseating the US as the dominant military air power.
    • An expert who examined the pictures said the drone, called the "Dark Sword," could give China a big advantage in a fight with the US.
    • The Dark Sword looks like an unmanned stealth fighter jet that could overwhelm the US with quantity and supersonic speed.
    • The US thought about making a jet like this, but instead turned it into a tanker, and now it could be falling behind.

    China released images of a new, unmanned, stealth fighter-style jet, and they present a shocking look into how close Beijing has come to unseating the US as the dominant military air power.

    China has already built stealth fighter jets that give US military planners pause, but the images of its new unmanned plane, named the "Dark Sword," suggest a whole new warfighting concept that could prove an absolute nightmare for the US.

    Justin Bronk, an air-combat expert at the Royal United Services Institute, said the Dark Sword "represents a very different design philosophy" than US unmanned combat jet plans.

    Bronk examined the photos available of the Dark Sword and concluded it appeared optimized for fast, supersonic flight as opposed to maximized stealth.

    "The Chinese have gone with something that has a longer body, so it's stable in pitch. It's got these vertical, F-22 style vertical stabilizers," which suggest it's "geared towards supersonic performance and fighter-style capability."

    Though the US once led in designing drones, it was caught off guard by militarized off-the-shelf drones used in combat in the Middle East. Now, once again, the US appears caught off guard by China moving on the idea of an unmanned fighter jet — an idea the US had and abandoned.

    The US is now pushing to get a drone aboard aircraft carriers, but downgraded that mission from a possible fighter to a simple aerial tanker with no requirement for stealth or survivability in what Bronk called a "strong vote from the US Navy that it doesn't want to go down the combat" drone road.

    But a cliché saying in military circles rings true here: The enemy gets a vote.

    A nightmare for the US

    US navy uss ronald reagan rimpac 2010 carrier strike group

    China, situated in the Pacific and surrounded to its east by US allies, has tons of airspace to defend. For that reason, a fast fighter makes sense for Beijing.

    "Something like this could transit to areas very fast, and, if produced in large numbers without having to train pilots, could at the very least soak up missiles from US fighters, and at the very best be an effective fighter by itself," said Bronk. "If you can produce lots of them, quantity has a quality all its own."

    In this scenario, US forces are fighting against supersonic, fearlessly unmanned fighter jets that can theoretically maneuver as well or better than manned jets because they do not have pilots onboard.

    US left behind or China bluffing

    Lockheed Martin MQ 25 Stingray

    Perhaps somewhere in a windowless room, US engineers are drawing up plans for a secret combat drone to level the playing field. Bronk suggested the US might feel so comfortable in its drone production that it could whip up a large number of unmanned fighters like this within a relatively short time.

    Recent US military acquisition programs don't exactly inspire confidence in the Pentagon to turn on a dime. The US Air Force has long stood accused of being dominated by a "Fighter Mafia," or fighter-jet pilots insisting on the importance of manned aircraft at the expense of technological advancement, and perhaps air superiority.

    Another possibility raised by Bronk was that China's Dark Sword was more bark than bite. Because China tightly controls its media, "We only see leaked what the Chinese want us to see," Bronk said.

    "It may be they're putting money into things that can look good around capabilities that might not ever materialize," he said. But that would be "odd" because there's such a clear case for China to pursue this technology that could really stick it to the US military, Bronk said.

    So while the US may have some secret answer to the Dark Sword hidden away, and the Dark Sword itself may just be a shadow, the concept shows the Chinese have given serious thought when it comes to unseating the US as the most powerful air force in the world.

    SEE ALSO: The US may deny Turkey F-35 sales — and now it may turn to Russia in a nightmare for NATO

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    B 52 over Guam

    • The US has  made a bold move in countering Beijing's growing dominance in the South China Sea by flying B-52 nuclear-capable bombers over disputed islands.
    • The flight of the B-52s follows the US using tougher language against China as Beijing dominates the waterway and bullies its neighbors.
    • The flight could mark a clear escalation in the growing tensions in the South China Sea.

    The US has made a bold move in countering Beijing's growing dominance in the South China Sea by flying B-52 nuclear-capable bombers over disputed islands — and it shows how the US and China may rapidly be approaching a showdown.

    The flight of the B-52s, reported by CNN, follows China landing nuclear-capable bombers of its own on the islands and years of Beijing ignoring international law to bully its neighbors and seize control of the waterway that sees trillions in annual shipping and holds untold billions in natural resources.

    It also follows Defense Secretary Jim Mattis calling out China at a conference in Singapore, according to CNN.

    "China's militarization of artificial features in the South China Sea includes the deployment of anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles, electronic jammers, and more recently, the landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island,"Mattis said. 

    Chinese President Xi Jinping swore at the White House with former President Barack Obama in 2015 that he would not militarize the islands, and continues to claim the islands have not been militarized despite the obvious presence of military equipment.

    China now calls claims that the islands are militarized "ridiculous," but Mattis wasn't having that. 

    "The placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion," said Mattis.

    The B-52s flew within 20 miles of the Spratly Islands, which China claims for itself and has built military facilities on. But Malaysia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Taiwan also claim the islands, and China has repeatedly made a show of refusing to let international courts settle the matter. 

    The US has a lot of experience taking down small islands

    USS Iowa firing guns

    Earlier in June, a top US general asserted the US military's power to act against threats to international order, saying "the United States military has had a lot of experience in the Western Pacific, taking down small islands."

    In another rhetorical shift, the US military renamed its Pacific command "Indo-Pacific command" to emphasize India and advance a vision of the Pacific not dominated by China.

    But China shows no sign of stopping its march to domination of the valuable waterway, recently using its navy to block out the Philippine navy from feeding its own troops on one of its holdings in the South China Sea. 

    China's dominance meets US resolve

    b-52 stratofortress anderson air force base guam

    In meetings with Vietnam and the Philippines, China has been understood to threaten force against the smaller countries if they undertake activity in their own, legally claimed waters. 

    When the US challenges Beijing's claims in the South China Sea, or any country's excessive maritime claims (the US challenged 22 nations in 2016), it usually does so with a US Navy destroyer.

    The flight of the B-52s would mark a clear escalation and perhaps the beginning of US military actions matching its rhetoric. 

    Update: This post has been updated to reflect that the Pentagon confirmed the flights of the B-52s.

    SEE ALSO: China just showed it has a new 'Dark Sword' fighter jet — and it's a nightmare for the US

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    d-day before after

    The D-Day invasion, code named Operation Overlord, was the largest seaborne invasion in history.

    Almost 5,000 landing and assault craft accompanied by 289 escort vessels and 277 minesweepers from Canada, the US, Britain, and Australia took part in the operation. The Allies suffered 226,386 casualties, but it proved a decisive moment in the war.

    Suddenly, the Nazis were fighting a two-front war in Europe, leading to a division in their forces across multiple flanks. But the cost of D-Day, in both human lives and devastation of the surrounding regions of France, was immense.

    The following photos from Getty photographer Peter Macdiarmid show an amazing juxtaposition of images from the affected areas of modern France with photos of the invasion from 1944 overlaid on top.

    Jeremy Bender composed an earlier version of this article.

    SEE ALSO: Here's a Nazi propaganda video saying the D-Day invasion failed

    Juno Beach on May 8, 2014, in Bernieres sur Mer, France, juxtaposed with a Canadian soldier at the head of a group of German prisoners of war, including two officers, on Juno Beach on June 6, 1944.



    The old village fountain on May 7, 2014, in Sainte Marie du Mont, France, where a group of American soldiers stood on June 12, 1944.



    A view of the roadway on May 7, 2014, in Saint Lo, France, where US Army trucks and jeeps once drove through.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    putin

    • Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual call-in question show contained an ominous warning about World War III.
    • Putin quoted Albert Einstein to say that World War III would result in the end of civilization as we know it.
    • Putin has the nuclear arsenal to end civilization unilaterally.
    • In 2014 he annexed Crimea from Ukraine in a move resembling the run-up to World War II.
    • But the US has nuclear weapons of its own that have served as deterrence.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual call-in question show on Thursday contained broad talk of improving Russia's economy and of the coming Russia-hosted World Cup — but also some ominous warnings about World War III.

    Putin frequently frames his country as resisting Western aggression designed to hold back Russia, often citing Western sanctions.

    The US and other Western countries sanctioned the Russian economy in 2014 over its illegal annexation of Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula on the Black Sea.

    Asked about those sanctions on Thursday, Putin said they were "because Russia is seen as a threat, because Russia is seen as becoming a competitor."

    "It is clear to us that we have to defend our interests and to do so consistently, not boorishly or rudely, in both the sphere of the economy and of defense," Putin said. "The pressure will end when our partners will be persuaded that the methods they are using are ineffective, counterproductive, and harmful to all."

    Asked whether "nonstop" sanctions could lead to World War III, Putin pulled an Albert Einstein quote to deliver a dark warning.

    "'I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones,'" he said, NBC News reports.

    "A third world war could be the end of civilization," Putin went on, saying the high stakes "should restrain us from taking extreme steps on the international arena that are highly dangerous for modern civilization."

    Perhaps more than any other country, Russia has the nuclear capability to end the world. With about 7,000 nuclear weapons making up the world's most diverse and destructive nuclear arsenal, Putin could unilaterally decide to embark on a civilization-ending war.

    Additionally, by annexing Crimea, Putin changed land borders in Europe by force. In peacetime, that most recently happened in the run-up to World War II.

    But Putin also gave a nod to the force keeping his nuclear and military ambitions in check: mutually assured destruction. Basically, if Putin decides to let nukes fly, the US is sure to respond in kind, destroying Russia as well.

    "The threat of mutual destruction has always restrained participants of the international arena, prevented leading military powers from making hasty moves, and compelled participants to respect each other," he said.

    Putin then said the US withdrawing from a ballistic-missile defense treaty would make Russia "respond."

    So far, Putin's response has included building what experts call a nuclear "doomsday device," an underwater torpedo that could render large tranches of the world uninhabitable for decades.

    SEE ALSO: How the US's nuclear weapons compare to Russia's

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    US Marines Afghanistan Night

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The United States is looking to intensifying ongoing military operations against Islamic State militants in the eastern Afghanistan province of Nangarhar during a temporary ceasefire between the Afghan government and the Taliban, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan said on Friday.

    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday announced for the first time an unconditional ceasefire with the Taliban, coinciding with the end of the Muslim fasting month. But that excludes other militant groups such as Islamic State.

    "(Operations against ISIS) will continue, in fact will be even intensified during this period of ceasefire as we focus on ISIS," U.S. Army General John Nicholson, commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, told reporters.

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    Kim Jong Un

    • Kim Jong Un, who is believed to be no older than 35, could rule over North Korea for the next 50 years.
    • This gives him a massive advantage over President Donald Trump, who has at most eight years in office, and means Kim can play the long game.
    • But rather than burn Trump and the US on a bad deal for short-term benefits, Kim may actually look to embrace the US to balance against China.
    • China is already a massive power in Asia and set to overtake the US as the world's biggest power.
    • Kim has given signs that he wants to resist Beijing's influence — and the US can help him there.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un holds a massive advantage over President Donald Trump heading into their historic summit planned for Tuesday, and whom he plays it against could shape the fate of the region for decades to come.

    Kim is believed to be no older than 35. The Kim dynasty has held power for about 70 years in North Korea, with leaders serving until their deaths.

    Kim's massive advantage over Trump, and even China, is that he could lead his country for another half a century. Trump, 71, is at the mercy of a US system that limits him to eight years in power at most.

    Even Chinese President Xi Jinping, who abolished term limits to potentially extend his rule indefinitely, is 64 with no apparent successor.

    As Trump himself has acknowledged, making an agreement with Kim could be easy. Even if North Korea is disingenuous and has no intention of getting rid of its nuclear arms, Kim could most likely get a deal with Trump to slowly remove the weapons and just wait out the clock until Trump leaves office.

    But does Kim simply want to play Trump for sanctions relief? Or can the young leader outfox his older counterparts by playing the long game?

    Rising China

    china military

    Many estimate that China, with its 1.4 billion citizens, will surpass the US in global dominance within Kim's lifetime. If Kim just wants to slam Trump with a raw deal and reap short-term benefits, he has a good opportunity to do so now.

    A bad deal for the US, one that hastens or brings about the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea, would most likely accelerate the loss of US influence in the world's most populous region, thereby hastening the decline of the US as the world's superpower.

    But that would also accelerate China's rise and upset the delicate balance Kim has struck between the US and China. Under Kim, Pyongyang has tried to distance itself from China and establish its independence.

    "North Korea has no reason to believe that the US would be willing or able to defend it from China," Hugh White, an Australian defense strategist, told The New York Times. "Who in Pyongyang would believe that America could fight and win a land war against China on China's borders?"

    On Monday, Pyongyang's state-run newspaper, one of the few outlets North Koreans can freely read, appeared to be laying the groundwork for a new, normalized relationship with the US.

    The Korean dream

    Moon and Kim hands

    Korea is in many ways beholden to its geography. A peninsula caught between Russia, Japan, and China, Korea has spent its history fending off foreign powers.

    The great vision of North Korea's Kim dynasty has always been an independent Korea that determines its own destiny without being steered by foreigners.

    For that reason, Kim may seek to somewhat embrace the US as part of a delicate balancing act.

    More on the Trump-Kim Summit:

    SEE ALSO: A retiring Chinese general revealed that China's greatest military weakness is a US strength

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    • Donald Trump commissioned a Hollywood-style video hyping peace in Korea to show Kim Jong Un.
    • It was released to the media at a press conference on Tuesday.
    • It features epic shots and frames Kim as a potential "hero of his people" who can "remake history."
    • Trump said that Kim and his aides "loved" watching it, and hoped they would make it a reality.


    Donald Trump played Kim Jong Un a Hollywood-style video hyping the prospect of peace, which cast Kim as its leading man.

    The video, which Trump made public later that day at a press conference, made a dramatic pitch for the benefits of peace between the two nations. You can watch the English version above.

    The film, credited to "Destiny Pictures" drew on the "in a world" and "one man, one choice" framing of Hollywood action movies.

    It labored the comparison further by including credits for Trump and Kim like Hollywood stars. The dramatic voiceover framed Kim as a potential "hero of his people" with the chance to achieve "prosperity like he has never seen."

    Trump Kim summit video Kim star

    Trump Kim summit video Trump star

    It includes a sweeping orchestral score, epic shots of earth from outer space, and horses galloping along the beach, interspersed with imagery of Kim and Trump.

    According to President Trump, Kim "loved" the video, which he played in Korean to the North Korean leader and eight aides on an iPad at their private bilateral meeting.

    Here is a transcript of the pivotal part of the video, which offers Kim the chance to "remake history."

    "A new world can begin today. One of friendship, respect and goodwill. Be part of that world, where the doors of opportunity are ready to be open: investment form around the world, where you can have medical breakthroughs, an abundance of resources innovative technology and new discoveries.

    "What if? Can history be changed? Will the world embrace this change? And when could this moment in history begin?

    "It comes down to a choice. On this day, in this time, in this moment the world will be watching, listening, anticipating, hoping.

    "Will this leader choose to advance his country, and be part of a new world? Be the hero of his people? Will he shake the hand of peace and enjoy prosperity like he has never seen?

    "A great life, or more isolation? Which path will be chosen?

    "Featuring President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un... in a meeting to remake history. To shine in the sun. One moment, one choice. What if? The future remains to be written."

    Trump Kim video destiny pictures

    Trump kim peace video

    Trump peace video Kim Jong Un

    Trump was asked a question about the video at the press conference, during which he said he commissioned the video as a way to sell peace to Kim.

    Trump said:

    "I showed it to him today, actually, during in meeting, towards the end of the meeting and I think he loved it. We didn’t have a big screen like you have the luxury of having, we didn't need it because we had it on a cassette, an iPad, and they played it and about eight of their representatives were watching it and I thought they were fascinated by it.

    "I thought it was well done, I showed it to you because that’s the future, I mean, that could very well be the future. The other alternative is just not a very good alternative, it’s just not good.

    "But I showed it because I really want him to do something."

    He later said that the video showed a vision of "the highest level of future development," and that North Korea could also opt for "a much smaller version of this."

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Foal Eagle 2015

    • President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that the US and South Korea would stop joint military drills after meeting Kim Jong Un.
    • But the Pentagon and South Korea haven't heard anything about it, even though China apparently has.
    • US military forces in Korea have not received any direction to cease joint military drills, a spokesman said on Tuesday. 
    • The US has long resisted calls to suspend military drills, even when offered a freeze in North Korean missile and nuclear testing in return.
    • It traditionally asserted that bilateral, planned, and transparent military drills are legal while North Korea's nuclear program is not.

    President Donald Trump said on Tuesday after meeting with Kim Jong Un that the US and South Korea would stop military drills — but it appears China knew about it before the Pentagon did.

    US military forces in Korea have not received any direction to cease joint military drills, a spokesman said on Tuesday, Reuters notes. 

    The South Korean military issued a statement to NBC News saying: “Regarding President Trump’s comment regarding ending of the combined military drills..We need to find out the exact meaning or intention behind his comments at this point.”

    Meanwhile, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said "Our suspension for suspension process is right and has been realised," a BBC correspondent in China reported. 

    The US has long resisted calls from North Korea and China for a "suspension for suspension," whereby the US would stop military drills in exchange for a freeze in North Korean missile and nuclear testing.

    Historically, the US has asserted that the bilateral, planned, and transparent military drills are legal while North Korea's nuclear program is not, so it would be blackmail to suspend them for Pyongyang. 

    "USFK has received no updated guidance on execution or cessation of training exercises - to include this fall's schedule Ulchi Freedom Guardian," US Forces in Korea Lt. Col. Jennifer Lovett said in a statement seen by Reuters.

    "In coordination with our ROK partners, we will continue with our current military posture until we receive updated guidance from the Department of Defense (DoD) and/or Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM)."

    This is not the first time an announcement from Trump has caught the military off-guard. When Trump tweeted that transgender US citizens wouldn't be allowed to serve in the military, the Pentagon also had received no guidance. 

    SEE ALSO: Trump toes Kim Jong Un's line in a bizarre press conference on no sleep after the summit

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    trump kim summit

    • President Donald Trump emerged from his summit with Kim Jong Un with fresh hopes for peace in Korea — and a full-blown North Korea apologist.
    • An estimated 100,000 North Koreans live in political prisons in conditions on par with the inhumanity of Nazi German death camps. All North Koreans live oppressed in their self-expression by Kim's government.
    • Trump not only sidelined talk about North Korea's human-rights record — he offered apologies for Kim, saying Kim had just done what he had seen done and loved his people.

    President Donald Trump emerged from Tuesday's summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, perhaps the most brutal abuser of humanity on the planet, with fresh hopes for peace in Korea.

    And what stunned many observers was a shift in rhetoric that made Trump sound like a full-blown North Korea apologist.

    An estimated 100,000 North Koreans live in political prisons on par with the inhumanity of Nazi German death camps. North Koreans can get locked up in these prisons for offenses as mild as listening to South Korean music.

    Kim has personally watched his own people, and members of his own family, executed through savage means.

    In his State of the Union address, Trump acknowledged this, calling North Korea "depraved" and shouting out a North Korean defector who had been abused by the regime.

    But after meeting Kim on Tuesday, Trump shifted his tone.

    "It's a rough situation over there — there's no question about it," Trump said of North Korea's human-rights abuses. "It's rough in a lot of places by the way, not just there."

    In diplomacy, not every issue can be dealt with at once. Trump, as US president, has a responsibility to deal with North Korea's nuclear threat toward his people before he champions the rights of North Koreans. But in a media blitz after the summit, he brushed aside and deflected criticism of North Korea's human-rights record under Kim, calling Kim "funny,""smart," and "talented."

    The UN said in 2014 that North Korea committed "systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights."Amnesty International puts North Korea in a category all its own with its abuses.

    Asked in a press conference whether he had betrayed the 100,000 or so political prisoners, many of whom would live their lives caged for relatively mild criticism of Kim or deviations the regime's narratives, Trump tried to argue that he had actually helped them.

    "I think I've helped them. Things will change. ... I think they are one of the great winners today,"Trump said, adding that "there's not much I can do right now."

    Later, in an interview with Voice of America's Greta Van Susteren, Trump brushed off a contentious exchange about Kim's human-rights abuses.

    "Really, he's got a great personality," Trump told Van Susteren. "He's a funny guy, he's very smart, he's a great negotiator. He loves his people, not that I'm surprised by that, but he loves his people."

    “But he's starved them. He's been brutal to them. He still loves his people?" Van Susteren asked.

    "Look, he's doing what he’s seen done, if you look at it," Trump said.

    SEE ALSO: Trump toes Kim Jong Un's line in a bizarre press conference on no sleep after the summit

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    NOW WATCH: Trump pitched peace to Kim Jong Un with this Hollywood-style video starring Kim as the leading man


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    WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 29: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and Vice President Mike Pence talk outside the Oval Office while Trump was departing the White House May 29, 2018 in Washington, DC. Trump is scheduled to travel to Nashville, Tennessee later today for a campaign rally. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

    • President Donald Trump expressed intent to no longer conduct "very provocative" joint military exercises with South Korea.
    • A top Republican senator claims Vice President Mike Pence backtracked that commitment in a closed-door meeting Tuesday, which Pence's office disputed.
    • The senator then clarified Pence's comments.

    WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence's message to GOP senators during a closed door lunch at the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Tuesday created a mix up of what exactly President Donald Trump promised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un during initial negotiations in Singapore this week.

    During the meeting, Trump offered to end the joint military exercise between the US and the South Korean government. Trump called the joint military exercises "very provocative" and dismissed them as a highly expensive practice for the US.

    After Pence met with Republicans on Tuesday to brief them on the historic summit, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner told reporters that they were assured joint military exercises would continue. 

    But Pence's press secretary, Alyssa Farah, said otherwise, and that the vice president said no such thing during the policy lunch.

    Gardner doubled down, writing on Twitter that Pence "was very clear: regular readiness training and training exchanges will continue."

    Later, an aide to Pence told NBC that the bi-annual exercises would not continue, but regular training exercises would, and there is a "huge difference between the two." Gardner then went on to say that Pence said "while this readiness training and exchanges will occur, war games will not."

    The meeting in Singapore produced a handful of commitments from the Kim regime, including a restated intent to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. However, there were no specifics offered on future plans, which will be a work in progress for the Trump administration if a deal is to be reached.

    SEE ALSO: Trump's endgame with North Korea could end up looking a lot like the Iran deal

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    • North Koreans are getting a new look at U.S. President Donald Trump now that his summit with leader Kim Jong Un is over and it's a far cry from the "dotard" label their government slapped on him last year.
    • The state media's representation of the summit and Trump is extremely important because it gives the North Korean population, which has only limited access to other news sources, an idea not just of what's going on but also of how the government expects them to respond.
    • The post-summit transformation of North Korea's official version of Trump shows he's now being portrayed by the state media looking serious and almost regal.

    PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Koreans are getting a new look at U.S. President Donald Trump now that his summit with leader Kim Jong Un is over and it's a far cry from the "dotard" label their government slapped on him last year.

    Previously, even on a good day, the best he might get was "Trump." No honorifics. No signs of respect. Now, he's being called "the president of the United States of America." Or "President Donald J. Trump."

    Even "supreme leader."

    The post-summit transformation of North Korea's official version of Trump, who's now being shown by the state media looking serious and almost regal, underscores the carefully choreographed reality show the government has had to perform to keep its people, taught from childhood to hate and distrust the "American imperialists," ideologically on board with the tectonic shifts underway in their country's relationship with Washington.

    With a time lag that suggests a great deal of care and thought went into the final product, the North's state-run television aired its first videos and photos of the summit on Thursday, two days after the event and a full day after Kim returned home to Pyongyang, the capital.

    To be sure, the star of the show was Kim. Trump's first appearance and the now famous handshake didn't come until almost 20 minutes into the 42-minute program.

    To the dramatic, almost song-like intonations of the nation's most famous newscaster, the program depicted Kim as statesmanlike beyond his years, confident and polite, quick to smile and firmly in control. He was shown allowing the older American — Trump, in his seventies, is more than twice Kim's age — to lean in toward him to shake hands, or give a thumbs up, then walking a few steps ahead to a working lunch.

    Before showing the two signing their joint statement, the newscaster said Trump made a point of giving Kim a look at his armored Cadillac limousine, and noted that it is known to Americans as "the Beast." She also at one point called them the "two supreme leaders" of their countries.

    The image-heavy news of Kim's trip to Singapore was presented like a chronological documentary, starting with the red-carpet send off at the Pyongyang airport on, interestingly enough, a chartered Air China flight. That was followed by video of his motorcade making its way to the St. Regis Hotel in Singapore as throngs of well-wishers waved as though awaiting a rock star, and Kim's night tour of the city-state on the summit's eve.

    The state media's representation of the summit and Trump is extremely important because it gives the North Korean population, which has only limited access to other news sources, an idea not just of what's going on but also of how the government expects them to respond.

    For the average North Korean, the state media's coverage of Kim's diplomatic blitz this year must seem nothing short of astonishing.

    After sending a top-level delegation that included his own sister to the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February, Kim has met twice each with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese President Xi Jinping and the state media have splashed all of the meetings across its front pages and newscasts — though generally a day after the fact to allow time to make sure the ideological tone is right and the images as powerful as possible.

    In the run-up to the summit, the North's media softened its rhetoric so as not to spoil the atmosphere as Kim prepared to sit down with the leader of the country North Korea has maligned and lambasted for decades as the most evil place on Earth, other than perhaps Japan, its former colonial ruler.

    It fired a few barrages against hard-line comments by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Adviser John Bolton and has stood ever critical of "capitalist values," but has kept direct references to Trump to a minimum. Bolton, who has been a target of Pyongyang's ire since his service in the George W. Bush administration, was introduced in the Thursday program dead-pan and shown shaking Kim's hand.

    What this all means for the future is a complicated matter.

    North Korea has presented Kim's diplomatic strategy as a logical next step following what he has said is the completion of his plan to develop a credible nuclear deterrent to what Pyongyang has long claimed is a policy of hostility and "nuclear blackmail" by Washington.

    That was its message through the news on Thursday, which stressed that the talks with Trump would be focused on forging a relationship that is more in tune with what it called changing times — most likely meaning North Korea's new status as a nuclear weapons state — and its desire for a mechanism to ensure a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula and, finally, denuclearization.

    Despite the respectful tone, there remains a clear undercurrent of caution.

    Kim remains the hero in the official Pyongyang narrative. Whether Trump will be his co-star, or once again the villain, is fodder for another episode.

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    netanyahu nuclear iran

    • Israel has attacked Iranian-backed Shi'ite Muslim militias in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday.
    • He cast such actions as potentially helping to stem a Syrian Sunni Muslim refugee exodus to Europe.
    • Netanyahu accused Iran, which has been helping Damascus beat back a seven-year-old rebellion, of bringing in 80,000 Shi'ite fighters from countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan to mount attacks against Israel and "convert" Syria's Sunni majority.
    • He said Iran's actions could bring about a religious war that would send more refugees abroad. 

    JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel has attacked Iranian-backed Shi'ite Muslim militias in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday, casting such actions as potentially helping to stem a Syrian Sunni Muslim refugee exodus to Europe.

    Israeli officials have previously disclosed scores of air strikes within Syria to prevent suspected arms transfers to Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah guerrillas or Iranian military deployments.

    But they have rarely given detail on the operations, or described non-Lebanese militiamen as having been targeted.

    Netanyahu accused Iran, which has been helping Damascus beat back a seven-year-old rebellion, of bringing in 80,000 Shi'ite fighters from countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan to mount attacks against Israel and "convert" Syria's Sunni majority.

    "That is a recipe for a re-inflammation of another civil war - I should say a theological war, a religious war - and the sparks of that could be millions more that go into Europe and so on ... And that would cause endless upheaval and terrorism in many, many countries," Netanyahu told an international security forum.

    "Obviously we are not going to let them do it. We'll fight them. By preventing that - and we have bombed the bases of this, these Shi'ite militias - by preventing that, we are also offering, helping the security of your countries, the security of the world."

    Netanyahu did not elaborate. About half Syria's pre-war 22 million population has been displaced by the fighting, with hundreds of thousands of refugees making it to Europe.

    Syria’s population is mostly Sunni Muslim. President Bashar al-Assad is from the Alawite religious minority, often considered an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.

    Under recent deals between Assad's government and mainly Sunni rebels, insurgents have left long-besieged areas sometimes in exchange for Shi'ite residents moving from villages surrounded by insurgents.

    The political opposition to Assad says the deals amount to forced demographic change and deliberate displacement of his enemies away from the main cities of western Syria. The Damascus government says the deals allow it to take back control and to restore services in the wrecked towns.

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    trump kim singapore

    • US President Donald Trump left experts baffled when he said North Korea had agreed to destroy a missile-engine testing site, but it now looks as if North Korea is making good on that.
    • North Korea says it will destroy a large-scale facility in Tongchang-ri, in North Pyongan Province, that was used to test engines for the Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported.
    • The Hwasong-14 was the first North Korean missile that experts said could hit the US mainland with a nuclear payload.
    • Measures like the destruction of testing sites in North Korea, if monitored by US and international experts, could build the kind of trust needed to carry out denuclearization. 

    US President Donald Trump left experts baffled when after emerging from his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Tuesday he said North Korea had agreed to destroy a missile-engine testing site, but it now looks as if North Korea is making good on that.

    "They secured the commitment to destroy the missile-engine testing site. That was not in your agreement," Trump said in a press conference after the summit, referring to a joint statement that made no mention of concrete steps toward denuclearization.

    "I got that after we signed the agreement," Trump continued. "I said do me a favor. You have this missile-engine testing site. We know where it is because of the heat. It is incredible the equipment we have, to be honest with you. I said can you close it up. He's going to close it up."

    Trump's statement at the press conference confused many and may have even divulged a bit much on the military intelligence side, but now reports of the details of the testing site have surfaced.

    North Korea says it will destroy a large-scale facility in Tongchang-ri, in North Pyongan Province, that was used to test engines for the Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported Thursday.

    The Hwasong-14 was the first North Korean missile that experts said could hit the US mainland with a nuclear payload.

    Diplomacy in action

    icbm intercontinental ballistic missile north korea hwasong 14 RTX3A3DK

    The Chosun Ilbo quoted a diplomatic source as saying that "Kim promised Trump during their summit on Tuesday to dismantle this facility."

    "Kim Jong Un must have won a number of major concessions from Trump in other sectors in return for destroying such a major facility," the source continued.

    North Korea did win several concessions from Trump, who agreed, also outside the joint statement, to stop joint US-South Korean military exercises, without first consulting Seoul.

    World leaders have praised the summit as a step toward peace and reducing tensions. Measures like the destruction of testing sites in North Korea, if monitored by US and international experts, could build the kind of trust needed to carry out earnest denuclearization.

    SEE ALSO: Trump may have actually pulled off a strategic nuclear bait-and-switch at the North Korea summit

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    NOW WATCH: Trump pitched peace to Kim Jong Un with this Hollywood-style video starring Kim as the leading man


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    • President Donald Trump said the nuclear threat from North Korea was over despite having completed little to no work on actual denuclearization.
    • The US was headed to war with North Korea over their long range missile tests, and Trump getting North Korea to halt the tests stopped it, an Obama admin official told Business Insider
    • Trump's joint statement with North Korea paid lip service to denuclearization, which the US's Asian allies wanted, but the real success of the meeting may have been getting North Korea to freeze testing. 
    • South Korean media now reports North Korea is getting ready to destroy an ICBM engine testing facility. 

    President Donald Trump left the Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and declared the nuclear threat from Pyongyang over without even getting close to a concrete denuclearization process from North Korea.

    But in doing so, Trump may have been heeding a warning from former President Barack Obama and stopping a possibly nuclear war with North Korea in the process.

    "Before taking office people were assuming that we were going to War with North Korea. President Obama said that North Korea was our biggest and most dangerous problem. No longer - sleep well tonight!"Trump tweeted.

    In November 2016 when President-elect Trump visited Obama in the White House, news outlets widely reported that Obama told him that North Korea would be his biggest threat, and Trump seems to confirm that here. 

    But the threat from North Korea wasn't its simple possession of nuclear weapons. North Korea first demonstrated nuclear capability in 2006, and had nukes throughout Obama's entire presidency, but Obama responded only with "strategic patience." 

    Instead, according to former US ambassador to Turkey, James Jeffrey, who worked for Obama, the warning centered around North Korea getting missiles that could strike the US, something US intelligence officials estimated would happen during Trump's term. 

    "A nuclear strike capability against the US changes the entire strategic equation in a way that just having nukes that can be exploded in South Korea and Japan does not," Jeffrey told Business Insider.

    "It decouples the US deterrence and retaliation capability against any North Korean attack."

    Basically, if North Korea has missiles that can hit the US, then it can ask Washington a terrifying question: Will you trade Seattle for Seoul?

    The US has, for years, said its alliance with South Korea and Japan are "ironclad," but according to Jeffrey, that's diplomatic speak that masks a dark truth everyone already knows: The US would not take a nuclear attack from North Korea on the chin to save an allied city. 

    The US planned to attack North Korea if their tests continued

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches the launch of a Hwasong-12 missile, September 16. 


KCNA via REUTERS

    So, as former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster posited, having an ICBM would allow North Korea to attack South Korea without the US stepping in.

    An ICBM "changes any attempt by North Korea to reunify the peninsula," said Jeffrey. Kim "can undertake a military or political pressure campaign on South Korea and America’s hands will be tied because we don’t want to risk losing Seattle for Seoul," said Jeffrey. "Thats what Trump was reacting to."

    Trump was "basically told [by Obama] if North Korea continued their tests, and they need more tests to have a survivable weapon, that would we would strike. Probably a limited strike," said Jeffrey. 

    Although North Korea managed to display it had missiles that could reach the US, it didn't prove that it could mount a nuclear weapon on the missiles, that the missiles could hit an intended target, or that the warheads could survive reentering the earth's atmosphere at many times the speed of sound. 

    The only way North Korea could really prove it had real ICBMs would be to shoot a real, armed one and detonate it over the Pacific, or show off their accuracy by shooting missiles just short of some US territory. Once Trump took office and North Korea's missile system ramped up, they threatened repeatedly to do both of those tests.

    According to Jeffrey, either one would have led to war. 

    Frank Aum, the Pentagon's senior advisor for North Korea under Obama, confirmed to Business Insider that there was a "general understanding that a red line would be an atmospheric nuclear test over the ocean or an [intermediate-range ballistic missile] test that lands in the vicinity of Guam."

    Denuclearization a red herring, but Trump caught the bigger fish

    trump kim summit singapore

    With what Trump has done, he can claim they’re on the road to denuclearization, which would be good if we get it," said Jeffrey. But Trump's real victory, the one that eliminated North Korea's real nuclear threat towards the US, was freezing their move towards ICBMs, he said. 

    Denuclearization was "not really what they were out to do," said Jeffrey, who said Trump operated under the guise of denuclearization to reassure South Korea and Japan, who remain under threat of North Korean nuclear attacks even without ICBMs.

    Instead, Jeffrey said Trump went in with the narrow goal of getting North Korea to stop ICBM and nuclear weapon testing, and he got it. This explains why Trump settled for the weak joint statement that provided no concrete language on removing nuclear weapons. 

    "My feeling is that we’re in a process that is good, the process of psychological, military pressure, and economic sanctions has dealt pretty damn effectively with the problem Obama gave Trump," said Jeffrey. 

    What was the one North Korea concession Trump talked up after the Singapore summit? The impending closure of a missile engine testing site, which on Thursday South Korean media identified as a testing site for ICBMs — perhaps Trump's real goal in all of this.

    SEE ALSO: It looks like North Korea is coming through with a 'major' denuclearization step for Trump

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    • Beijing has carried out anti-aircraft drills with missiles fired against drone targets over the South China Sea after the US challenged it by flying B-52 bombers across the region.
    • China's drills were intended to simulate fending off an aerial attack on unspecified islands within the waterway.
    • Typically, the US carries out its challenges by sailing warships, but recently it used nuclear-capable B-52s in a marked escalation.

    Beijing has carried out anti-aircraft drills with missiles fired against drone targets over the South China Sea after the US challenged it by flying B-52 bombers across the region.

    China's drills were intended to simulate fending off an aerial attack on unspecified islands within the waterway. Beijing lays unilateral claim to almost all of the South China Sea, a passage that sees trillions in annual shipping. 

    Chinese missiles, deployed to the South China Sea despite previous promises from Beijing not to militarize the islands, fired at drones flying overhead to simulate combat, the South China Morning Post reported.

    China struggles with realistic training for its armed forces and has been criticized for overly scripted drills. Beijing's lack of experience in real combat exacerbates this weakness.

    The US and Beijing frequently square off over the South China Sea, where Beijing operates in open defiance of international law after losing an arbitration against the Philippines in 2016. In late May, the US military issued a stark warning to Beijing when a general reminded China that the US military has "has had a lot of experience in the Western Pacific, taking down small islands."

    Typically, the US carries out its challenges by sailing warships, usually guided missile destroyers, near the shores of its islands in a signal that the US does not recognize China's claims. China always reacts harshly, accusing the US of challenging its sovereignty, but the US challenged the excessive maritime claims of 22 nations in 2016.

    The flight of the B-52s, one of the US's nuclear bombers, represented an escalation of the conflict, and came after China landed nuclear bombers of its own on the islands.

    China's coast guard and navy police the waterway and unilaterally tell its neighbors what activities they can undertake in the international waters.

    The US maintains this is a threat to international order, but has struggled to reassure its regional allies that Chinese hegemony won't win out against an overstretched US Navy. 

    SEE ALSO: Trump may have actually pulled off a strategic nuclear bait-and-switch at the North Korea summit

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    north korea artillery

    North Korean diplomats talking to South Korean officials in the demilitarized border zone between the two countries reportedly offered to remove the North's long-range artillery guns, which have been a dagger pointed at Seoul's throat for decades.

    Before North Korea tested its first nuclear weapon, before it even built its first facility to create fissile material, its artillery had established a strong deterrent against South Korea and the US.

    North Korea is estimated to have thousands of massive artillery guns hidden in hardened shelters among the hills and mountains of the country's rugged terrain. Artillery batteries located within range of the South Korean capital of Seoul could kill tens of thousands of people every hour if war were to break out.

    Accounts in South Korean media differ over who exactly proposed the latest measure, but it came at a general-level military dialogue, which hadn't happened for over a decade before.

    The two nations, still technically at war after signing an armistice in the 1950s, met under the banner of "practically eliminate the danger of war," as South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un agreed to do on April 27 during their historic first summit.

    Not nuclear, but not nothing

    Kim Jong-un North Korea nuclear bomb

    North Korea's artillery guns have little to do with its nuclear weapons program, the elimination of which is the stated purpose of all recent North Korean diplomacy.

    But the guns represent a substantial part of North Korea's threat to Seoul, perhaps acting as the main deterrent holding off a US or South Korean invasion during the multidecade military standoff.

    Precisely because the artillery is so formidable, expect to see North Korea ask for something in return. Kim could ask for a withdrawal of or a reduction in US forces in South Korea — a longstanding goal in Pyongyang. Roughly 28,000 US troops are stationed in South Korea as a deterrent.

    Experts assess that any steps made to wither the US-South Korean alliance could precipitate the decline of the US as a power in Asia and then the world.

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    US Marines Syria artillery howitzer

    President Donald Trump has emphasized military might during his first year in office, but the US is not the only country seeking to expand its battlefield capacities. Between 2012 and 2016, more weapons were delivered than during any five-year period since 1990.

    Arms sales indicate who is beefing up their armed forces, but head-to-head military comparisons are harder to come by. Global Firepower's 2017 Military Strength Ranking tries to fill that void by drawing on more than 50 factors to assign a Power Index score to 133 countries.

    The ranking assesses the diversity of weapons held by each country and pays particular attention to the manpower available. The geography, logistical capacity, available natural resources, and the status of local industry are also taken into account.

    Navy sailors russia

    While recognized nuclear powers receive a bonus, the nuclear stockpiles are not factored into the score.

    Moreover, countries that are landlocked are not docked points for lacking a navy, though they are penalized for not having a merchant marine force.

    Countries with navies are penalized if there is a lack of diversity in their naval assets.

    NATO countries get a slight bonus because the alliance would theoretically share resources, but in general, a country's current political and military leadership was not considered.

    "Balance is the key — a large, strong fighting force across land, sea and air backed by a resilient economy and defensible territory along with an efficient infrastructure — such qualities are those used to round out a particular nation's total fighting strength on paper," the ranking states.

    Below, you can see the 25 most powerful militaries in the world:

    SEE ALSO: Step aboard the USS Kearsarge, the US Navy workhorse that takes Marines to war

    25. Algeria

    Power Index rating: 0.4366

    Total population: 40,263,711

    Total military personnel: 792,350

    Total aircraft strength: 502

    Fighter aircraft: 89

    Combat tanks: 2,405

    Total naval assets: 85

    Defense budget: $10.6 billion



    24. Saudi Arabia

    Power Index rating: 0.4302

    Total population: 28,160,273

    Total military personnel: 256,000

    Total aircraft strength: 790

    Fighter aircraft: 177

    Combat tanks: 1,142

    Total naval assets: 55

    Defense budget: $56.7 billion



    23. North Korea

    Power Index rating: 0.4218

    Total population: 25,115,311

    Total military personnel: 6,445,000

    Total aircraft strength: 944

    Fighter aircraft: 458

    Combat tanks: 5,025

    Total naval assets: 967

    Defense budget: $7.5 billion



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    kim jong un mike pompeo north korea

    • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly joked with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that he was still trying to kill him. 
    • While Pompeo was the head of the CIA, North Korea accused the organization of trying to assassinate Kim. 
    • Pompeo dropped heavy hints in July 2017, right after North Korea began testing missiles that could hit the US, that he'd like to "separate" Kim from power. 
    • But when the two met they reportedly immediately laughed about it, and Kim would later say Pompeo had "guts."

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly shared a mutual laugh with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on their first meeting that he would go on to describe as a success — despite joking that he was trying to kill Kim.

    North Korea makes no secret of its distaste for the US and its various military and spy services. While Pompeo was the head of the CIA, North Korea accused the organization of trying to assassinate Kim

    But Kim's fears were not unfounded. The US maintains it does not plan for decapitation, or regime-change oriented strikes against foreign governments, but it's been constantly dogged by tales of US Navy SEALs training with South Korean soldiers to kill Kim. 

    Also, Pompeo dropped heavy hints in July 2017, right after North Korea began testing missiles that could hit the US, that he'd like to separate Kim from power. 

    So when the two men met in April, they didn't take long to address the elephant in the room.

    Kim immediately challenged Pompeo, Vanity Fair's Abigail Tracey reported a source close to Pompeo as telling her. 

    Pompeo then reportedly joked that he was still trying to kill Kim, and the two men laughed, Tracey writes. 

    Later, the two would pose for photos together. Pompeo would go on to make security assurances to North Korea and wave before them the prospect of US investment in exchange for denuclearizing, which has yet to materialize. 

    A Japanese paper later reported that Kim had praised Pompeo for his bravery during that meeting. 

    "This is the first time I have met someone with the same kind of guts,"Kim reportedly said of Pompeo.

    SEE ALSO: North Korea reportedly offered to abandon a key weapon — and it has nothing to do with nukes

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