Picture of the Day: North Korea Ready to Conduct Nuclear Test?

Trailer movement seen at North Korea's nuke test site

This satellite image, provided by U.S. research monitoring website 38 North, shows the nuclear test site in the Punggyeri region in North Korea on April 22, 2017. The Web site said Saturday some movements of equipment were detected through the satellite, an indication that Pyongyang is ready to conduct another nuclear test at any time. (Yonhap)

Australia Threatened With North Korean Nuclear Strike After Sanctions Announcement

North Korea’s response to Australia’s announcement of sanctions enforcement perfectly justifies why they are enforcing sanctions in the first place:

Mike Pence with Julie Bishop in Sydney on Saturday. North Korea has criticised Bishop over her comments about further sanctions on the country. Photograph: Pool/Getty Images

North Korea has bluntly warned Australia of a possible nuclear strike if Canberra persists in “blindly and zealously toeing the US line”.

North Korea’s state new agency (KCNA) quoted a foreign ministry spokesman castigating Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop, after she said the rogue nation would be subject to further Australian sanctions and for “spouting a string of rubbish against the DPRK over its entirely just steps for self-defence”.

“If Australia persists in following the US moves to isolate and stifle the DPRK and remains a shock brigade of the US master, this will be a suicidal act of coming within the range of the nuclear strike of the strategic force of the DPRK,” the report said.

“The Australian foreign minister had better think twice about the consequences to be entailed by her reckless tongue-lashing before flattering the US.”

Bishop had said this week on the ABC’s AM program that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program posed a “serious threat” to Australia unless it was stopped by the international community.  [The Guardian]

You can read more at the link.

Another American Who Traveled to North Korea is Detained

Any American currently in North Korea or planning to travel there in the near term is an absolute fool that I have little sympathy for:

North Korea has detained a U.S. citizen, officials said Sunday, bringing to three the number of Americans now being held there.

Tony Kim, who also goes by his Korean name Kim Sang-duk, was detained on Saturday, according to Park Chan-mo, the chancellor of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology.

Park said Kim, who is in his 50s, taught accounting at the university for about a month. He said Kim was detained by officials as he was trying to leave the country from Pyongyang’s international airport.  [Associated Press]

You can read more at the link, but Tony Kim is reportedly a professor in the Yanbian prefecture of China across the border from China.  What he was doing in North Korea is unclear, but really it doesn’t matter there is no good reason for an American to be in North Korea. All this guy has done besides greatly stressing his family is given the Kim regime a third American detainee bargaining chip to assist them with any future negotiations with the US.

North Korea and Its Koryo Burgers

I think I would pass on eating this, looks horrible:

On Air Koryo, North Korea’s state airline, flight attendants are known to serve one thing, and one thing only: a burger as mysterious as the secretive country itself.

The burger is always served cold, and always on a paper doily. Inside the bun is a piece of unidentified meat, a slice of processed cheese, a dash of shredded cabbage or a lonely lettuce leaf, and a dollop of sweet, brown sauce.

The “Koryo Burger” features in countless Instagram feeds and online reviews, not many of them complimentary. It has “gained cult status among passengers,” the British tabloid Daily Mail remarked in 2015. Many wonder: Why a burger, of all things? What’s with the doily? What exactly is that meat?

“The Air Koryo burger was the worst example of soft power I’ve ever tasted,” said Alec Ash, a writer in Beijing who sampled the burger on a flight to North Korea last year.  [LA Times]

You can read more at the link.

North Korea Criticizes China for Sanctions Enforcement

Part of me wonders if this whole Chinese enforcement of sanctions and North Korea’s reaction is all for show to appease the Trump administration in the short term while nothing really changes in the long term?:

North Korea has apparently asked China not to step up anti-North sanctions, warning of “catastrophic consequences” in their bilateral relations.

Pyongyang issued the warning through commentary written by a person named Jong Phil on its official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which was released Saturday.

It’s rare for Pyongyang’s media to level criticism at Beijing, though the KCNA didn’t directly mention China in the commentary titled “Are you good at dancing to the tune of others” and dated Friday.

The commentary instead called the nation at issue “a country around the DPRK,” using North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Leading Korean Presidential Candidate On Defensive Over Secret Memo With North Korea

This was a well known controversy back in 2007

A former top diplomat on Friday disclosed a document to back up his claim that Seoul officials consulted North Korea before a key U.N. vote in 2007. It added fuel to a political fire that has engulfed presidential front-runner Moon Jae-in, who was then a chief presidential aide.

In October, Song Min-soon published a memoir in which he said that South Korea abstained in a vote for the 2007 U.N. resolution on North Korea’s human rights violations after discussing the issue with Pyongyang officials.

Song served as the foreign minister from 2006 to 2008 in the liberal Roh Moo-hyun government.

Moon, who was the presidential chief of staff and involved in the decision, has claimed Song’s allegation is not true.

In an interview with the JoongAng Ilbo daily, Song disclosed the document he alleged was made by the then-presidential office based on secret communications with the North.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but long time ROK Heads may remember that the Roh Moo-hyun years were when the South Korean government was actually giving more money to North Korea to help them build nuclear weapons and missiles then for the upkeep of the US-ROK alliance.

Pyongyang Gas Stations Begin to Close and Limit Services Due to Fuel Shortage

It looks like China at least in the short term has cut the amount of fuel being imported into North Korea. The real question is if this is all just for short term show or is China really committed to enforcing fuel sanctions on the Kim regime?:

Car users in Pyongyang were scrambling Friday to fill up their tanks as gas stations began limiting services or even closing amid concerns of a spreading shortage.

A sign outside one station in the North Korean capital said sales were being restricted to diplomats or vehicles used by international organizations, while others were closed or turning away local residents. Lines at other stations were much longer than usual and prices appeared to be rising significantly.

The cause of the restrictions or how long they might last were not immediately known.

North Korea relies heavily on China for its fuel supply and Beijing has reportedly been tightening its enforcement of international sanctions aimed at getting Pyongyang to abandon its development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.

Senator Lindsey Graham Backs A Pre-Emptive Strike On North Korea

The comments from Senator Lindsey Graham are probably not going to go over very well in South Korea that would take the brunt of any war with North Korea:

A ranking U.S. senator said the U.S. should launch a preemptive strike on North Korea if that’s what it takes to stop Pyongyang from building a missile capable of hitting America, even though such military action would mean war.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made the argument during an interview with NBC News, saying that war would be bad for South Korea, Japan and other countries in the region, but won’t reach the U.S., while an intercontinental ballistic missile could do.

“It would be terrible but the war would be over here (there), wouldn’t be here,” Graham said with a gesture with his fingers. “It would be bad for the Korean Peninsula. It would be bad for China. It would be bad for Japan, be bad for South Korea. It would be the end of North Korea. But what it would not do is hit America and the only way it could ever come to America is with a missile.”

Asked if he would support a preemptive strike on the North, Graham said, “If that’s what it would take.”  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.