The US and China Agree that Korean Peninsula Needs to Be Denuclearized

This is easier said than done:

China and the United States agreed that efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula should be “complete, verifiable and irreversible”, Chinese state media said on Saturday, reporting the results of high level talks in Washington this week.

“Both sides reaffirm that they will strive for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” a consensus document released by the official Xinhua news agency said.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said on Thursday that the United States pressed China to ramp up economic and political pressure on North Korea, during his meeting with top Chinese diplomats and defense chiefs.

China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui met Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis during the talks. Yang later met with U.S. President Donald Trump in the White House, where they also discussed North Korea, Xinhua reported.

The consensus document also highlighted the need to fully and strictly hold to U.N. Security Council resolutions and push for dialogue and negotiation, which has long been China’s position on the issue.  [Reuters]

You can read more at the link.

Otto Warmbier’s Death Could End US Tourism to North Korea

I have been saying this for years that US tourism to North Korea should not be allowed and unfortunately the death of Otto Warmbier may be the spark that finally causes an end to Americans being allowed to visit North Korea:

Warmbier’s treatment and death has served as a wake-up call to both those who join and organize tours to North Korea. In an emotional statement, Young Pioneers Tours said: “The way his detention was handled was appalling, and a tragedy like this must never be repeated … Considering these facts and this tragic outcome we will no longer be organizing tours for U.S. citizens to North Korea.” Uri Tours, a U.S.-based tour company also offering trips to North Korea, said it was “reviewing its position on [North Korea] travel for American citizens.”

They may not have a choice. Although the State Department already warns in strong terms against North Korean travel, last month Republican and Democratic U.S. congressmen introduced a bill that would ban American tourists from traveling to North Korea as tourists and require special permission for other visits, citing at least 17 Americans detained by the regime over the last decade. “With increased tensions in North Korea, the danger that Americans will be detained for political reasons is greater than ever,” Democrat Adam Schiff and Republican Joe Wilson said in a statement.  [TIME]

You can read more at the link.

US, Canada, and South Korea Conduct Trilateral Naval Exercise this Week

Here is another example of strategic messaging against North Korea that the Canadians are ready to stand with the ROK if needed:

Battleships from the Incheon Naval Sector Defense Command take part in a drill near Incheon and Ijak Island on June 14 and 15 to mark the month of national defense and veterans’ welfare. / Yonhap

South Korea said Monday it will hold a combined live-fire naval exercise with the United States and Canada this week in its southern waters.

Hosted by South Korea’s Maritime Task Flotilla Seven (MTF7), the three-day training exercise will be staged in waters near Jeju Island from Friday, according to the Navy.

It will involve five South Korean warships, including the Aegis cruiser DDG-992 Yulgok Yii, P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft and Lynx multi-role planes as well as the USS Dewey (DDG-105), an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer from the U.S. Navy, and MH-60R helicopters.

Two major Canadian frigates — Winnipeg and Ottawa — and SH-3 choppers will also take part in the practice.

The three sides plan to hold various drills on interdiction, air defense, anti-submarine operations and ballistic missile detection, along with live-fire training, said the Navy.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Reality Winner Accused of Leaking Top Secret NSA Documents to the Media

When I first read this article I was wondering if it was a Duffel Blog entry, but the person who leaked Top Secret information really is named Reality Winner:

Accused NSA leaker Reality Winner.

The alleged leaker accused of feeding a classified report to an online news site has a colorful history on social media that lays bare her political leanings as an environmentalist who wanted to “resist” President Trump.

Reality Winner, 25, is a contractor with Pluribus International Corporation assigned to a federal facility in Georgia, where she allegedly leaked a classified intelligence report containing “Top Secret Level” information. The report, according to the Department of Justice, contained classified defense information from an intelligence community agency.

While the DOJ did not say which site published the information, the charges were announced just as The Intercept published details of a National Security Agency report on Russian hacking efforts during the 2016 presidential election.

According to the Justice Department, Winner admitted to printing a classified intelligence document despite not having a “need to know,” and with knowledge the report was classified. Winner further admitted removing the report from her office space and mailing it to the news outlet, according to the criminal complaint.  [Fox News]

You can read more at the link, but it appears she was motivated by politics because of her anti-Trump Facebook postings.  What is clear though is that she needs to receive the maximum sentence possible for leaking Top Secret information to the media because this leak is absolutely ridiculous.

What makes this even more pathetic is that this information was already known to the media.  CNN reported back in October 2016 that federal officials told them that Russia may have compromised the personal information of Florida, Illinois, and Arizona voters.  This leaked document is just the source for the information that federal officials already briefed the media.  So Reality Winner has likely thrown her life away for providing information the media already knows and did not change one vote during last year’s election.

Top Russian Defense Official Claims THAAD is an Offensive Weapon System

It looks like the propaganda goons over in Russia are busy spreading disinformation for Korean leftists to point to in order to claim THAAD is an offensive weapon system:

A top Russian defense official on Sunday accused South Korea and the U.S. of escalating tensions in Northeast Asia by deploying the powerful Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) on the Korean Peninsula.

Deputy Defense Minster Lt. Gen. Alexander Fomin claimed the missile system can be used for launching “long-distance attack missiles,” and should not be viewed exclusively as a defensive system.

“That’s why we are alarmed. It’s a direct threat to Russia,” he said, speaking at a plenary session of the 16th Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.

He pointed out the deployment of the THAAD system in South Korea has already begun.

“We are convinced that (the) ongoing (move) in the region under the auspices of the United States to deploy elements of a global missile defense (system) will not only not solve the existing problems on the Korean Peninsula, but, on the contrary, will only exacerbate them,” he said in English.

He added THAAD in Korea would also trigger a regional arms race and provoke the North to attack its enemies.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but to claim THAAD is an offensive system would be the same as claiming the Patriot missile defense batteries spread throughout South Korea are offensive systems well.  They are of course not offensive systems, they just for missile defense.  Why would the US military need these as offensive systems when there is already plenty of offensive strike capability in and around the peninsula?  The Russians know THAAD is not an offensive system, but they want leftists in South Korea to believe it is in order to stoke civil discontent against the deployment of the system.

Russia does not see the US-ROK alliance as being in their interest and are using the THAAD issue to drive a wedge in the alliance especially with the left wing President Moon Jae-in now in power.

Democratic Congress Members Call for Negotiations with North Korea

It is amazing to me that people continue to think that Pyongyang will negotiate away their nuclear weapons without the viable threat of military action against them.  They might as well as advocate for North Korea having nuclear weapons because that is what over two decades of negotiations has led to:

A group of 64 U.S. Democratic lawmakers warned President Donald Trump in a letter Tuesday that he would need congressional approval for any pre-emptive strike on North Korea and encouraged “direct” engagement with the isolationist regime.

“Few decisions are more needing of debate than a move to launch attacks, or declare war, on a nuclear-armed state such as North Korea,” stated the letter addressed to Trump. It went onto warn that an “inconsistent or unpredictable policy runs the risk of unimaginable conflict” with such a volatile country as North Korea.

The letter was signed by a group of congressmen in the House of Representatives led by Reps. John Conyers of Michigan, Barbara Lee of California and Jim McGovern of Massachusetts.

The lawmakers called for more information about what steps the administration is taking “to advance the prospects for direct negotiations that could lower the potential for catastrophic war and ultimately lead to the denuclearization of the peninsula.”

They continued, “In the event that your plans do include an ill-advised military component, we stand ready to exercise our constitutional duty to approve, or reject, any such military action.”

This comes amid concerns in Congress over the Trump administration’s erratic policy toward the North, as the U.S. president has declared “all option are on the table,” leaving a door open to military action including a pre-emptive strike. Trump has also said that he is open to talks with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un under the right conditions.

The congressmen underscored that while the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Resolution of 1973 provide the president the authority to act in cases of emergencies, “both require an affirmative authorization from Congress before our nation engages in military action abroad against a state that has not attacked the U.S. or our assets abroad.”

The letter stressed the past three U.S. administrations under presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton ruled out the possibility of military action against Pyongyang and “ultimately determined there was no military option that would not run the unacceptable risk of counter-reaction from Pyongyang.”

Such retaliation from the North, it pointed out, could endanger as many as a third of the South Korean population, nearly 30,000 U.S. troops in the region as well as over 100,000 U.S. citizens living in Korea.

The congressmen encouraged Trump to adhere to a diplomatic approach, expressing support for U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent statement that his preferred method for resolution is “direct talks with North Korea,” persuading the North that they do not need nuclear weapons to secure the existence of the regime. They also backed Tillerson’s remarks reassuring Pyongyang that Washington did not seek a regime change in the North or its collapse.

“President Trump’s irresponsible statements on North Korea endanger our troops, our regional allies such as South Korea and Japan, and global security more broadly,” said Conyers, dean of the House of Representatives and one of two remaining Korean War veterans serving in the U.S. Congress, in a press release. “As someone who has watched this conflict evolve since I was sent to Korea as a young Army lieutenant, it is a reckless, inexperienced move to threaten military action that could end in devastation instead of pursuing vigorous diplomacy.”  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Americans that Can’t Find North Korea On A Map Are More Likely to Recommend Military Action

Here is an interesting experiment put together by the New York Times:

An experiment led by Kyle Dropp of Morning Consult from April 27-29, conducted at the request of The New York Times, shows that respondents who could correctly identify North Korea tended to view diplomatic and nonmilitary strategies more favorably than those who could not. These strategies included imposing further economic sanctions, increasing pressure on China to influence North Korea and conducting cyberattacks against military targets in North Korea.

They also viewed direct military engagement – in particular, sending ground troops – much less favorably than those who failed to locate North Korea.

The largest difference between the groups was the simplest: Those who could find North Korea were much more likely to disagree with the proposition that the United States should do nothing about North Korea.  [New York Times]

What I am wondering is who were the people who thought North Korea was in Australia?

Here is something that many people may find surprising, the stupidest of the stupid people who could not find North Korea on a map were Democrats:

What drives these differences? Simple partisanship is one possibility. On average, Republicans – and Republican men in particular – were more likely to correctly locate North Korea than Democratic men. And Republicans were more likely to be in favor of almost all the diplomatic solutions posed by the researchers. (Women tended to find North Korea at similar rates, regardless of party.)

Who would have thought the warmongers were uneducated Democrats?

North Korea Welcomes Moon Jae-in Presidency with Successful Ballistic Missile Launch

The Kim regime has welcomed the new ROK president the way they typically do by conducting a provocation:

North Korea fires a medium-range ballistic missile in February in this file photo. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (KCNA-Yonhap)

North Korea launched a ballistic missile Sunday morning from a site north of Pyongyang, South Korea’s military said, as President Moon Jae-in immediately convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) to discuss the issue.

“North Korea fired an unidentified missile at around 5:27 a.m. today from an area in the vicinity of Kusong, North Pyongan Province,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement

The projectile flew some 700 kilometers, it said, adding it’s analyzing more details.

The flight distance suggests a success of the missile test, the North’s first military provocation since the inauguration of Moon last week.  [Yonhap]

The type of ballistic missile has not been disclosed yet, but PACOM has already said that it was not an ICBM.  However, the Japanese are calling this the highest fired missile they have seen yet from North Korea:

Japan’s Defense Ministry said the missile flew for about 30 minutes, reaching an altitude of more than 2,000 kilometers and was believed to have traveled some 800 kilometers before falling about 400 kilometers outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, according to the Japan Times.

Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada was quoted as saying that the launch, which was likely conducted at a steep or “lofted” trajectory, could be of a “new type of ballistic missile.” It hit the highest-ever altitude recorded by Japan’s defense authority for a North Korean missile.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

At least one scientist thinks this is a new type of missile that has been tested:

“I don’t believe the missile test Sunday involved existing models, such Pukguksong-2 or Scud-ER, considering its flight distance was about 700 kilometers,” said Kim Dong-yup, a professor at the Institute for Far East Studies of Kyungnam University. “The test appears to be aimed at developing a new type of missile with an improved performance.”

David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the Associated Press that Sunday’s launch may have been of a new mobile, two-stage liquid-fueled missile that North Korea displayed during an April 15 military parade to mark that 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder Kim Il-sung

Wright estimated that the missile had a range of 4,500 kilometers if it travelled on a standard, instead of lofted, trajectory.  [Korea Times]

If the range of this missile is 4,500 kilometers that means it is not designed to strike South Korea or Japan which it already has SCUD and Nodong missiles to hit these two countries with.  Instead the only reason to develop a missile with this range would be to strike Guam which would be within its 4,500 kilometer maximum range since it is roughly 3,300 kilometers from North Korea:

This test may be a response to the fact that the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group is supposed to be in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) conducting exercises.

In response to the provocation the Chinese are urging all parties to show the typical “restraint” they always seem to put out after a North Korean provocation.  The United States is trying to play the Russians against the North Koreans after this test since the missile landed close to Russia:

Fox News reported that the White House said North Korea has been a “flagrant menace for far too long” and that Trump “cannot imagine that Russia is pleased” with the latest missile test because the missile landed closer to Russia than to Japan. U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster also condemned the launch in a 25-minute phone call with his South Korean counterpart Kim Kwan-jin and agreed to combine forces towards denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.   [Joong Ang Ilbo]

I doubt Putin really cares, and then in South Korea new President Moon Jae-in wants North Korea to change its attitude if it wants negotiations:

During his first NSC meeting at Cheong Wa Dae, President Moon strongly condemned the launch, saying, “It was an apparent violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and also a serious challenge to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula as well as the international community.”

Moon said he found North Korea’s provocation regretful, citing that it came despite his speech to make full-pledged efforts to bring peace to the peninsula during his May 10 inauguration ceremony.

“I’m strongly warning North Korea, and at the same time, I find its reckless provocation deeply regretful.”

The president said he is open to resuming dialogue with North Korea, but added his government would deal sternly with the North’s provocations to ensure that the reclusive state does “not make a misjudgment.”

“We must show the North that dialogue will be possible only when it changes its attitude,” he said.  [Korea Times]

Good luck with that since people have been waiting decades for North Korea to change its attitude.  As this test proves, a new ROK President promising Sunshine Policy 2.0 is not going to change the nature of the Kim regime.